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Title: The East India Vade-Mecum, v.1 - or, Complete Guide to Gentlemen Intended for the Civil, - mMilitary, or Naval Service of the East India Company. - Volume 1
Author: Williamson, Thomas
Language: English
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                              _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. I._


            Booksellers to the Honorable East India Company,




           Printed by Turner and Harwood, St. John’s Square,


                                 TO THE
                       _HON. COURT OF DIRECTORS,_
                                 OF THE
                      =East India Company=



          _A work professedly undertaken with the view to promote the
welfare, and to facilitate the progress, of those young gentlemen who
may, from time to time, be appointed to situations under your several
Presidencies, will, I flatter myself, receive from your_ HONORABLE COURT
_that encouragement the importance of the subject solicits, and to which
my own good intentions may justly offer a claim. Under your auspices, my
labors cannot fail to prove of public utility, as well as to reward that
zeal, and that assiduity, with which they have proceeded, under the
alluring hope of meriting the approbation of your_ HONORABLE COURT.

                         _I have the honor to be,_

                                        HONORABLE SIRS,

                                    _Your most obedient Servant,_

                                                 _THOMAS WILLIAMSON_

London, January 1, 1810.



In the volumes now offered to the public, it has been my zealous
endeavour to supply those minutiæ and details, which have not, in any
distinct manner, been heretofore tendered to its consideration. A
residence of more than twenty years in Bengal, during which period I had
every opportunity of visiting the several districts under that
presidency, has enabled me to afford considerable insight into a variety
of topics, which, whether to the statesman, the merchant, the military,
or the civil character, should prove highly important, and guide, not
only to a just conception of the characters of the natives, and of the
European society, in India, but to the removal of that host of doubts,
prejudices, and national opinions, which, if suffered to prevail, must
occasion every object to be seen through a false medium.

With the view to render my labors more acceptable to my juvenile
readers, whose welfare is attended to in every page, it appeared to me
expedient to adopt rather a familiar, than a didactic, style; so as to
lead towards the goal of instruction, in that easy manner which is
generally found best suited to that intention. The same principle
induced me to avoid any arrangement under abstract heads, or chapters;
as well as to render the contents at large philosophically diffuse.

The mode adopted in my former publication, ‘THE WILD SPORTS OF THE
EAST’, namely, of spelling the Hindostanee words according to English
pronunciation, having been highly approved, is continued on this
occasion. This plan appears particularly necessary in a work intended
chiefly for the use of persons proceeding to India; since nothing could
be more unpleasant than a deficiency in respect to intonation; which,
being once established in error, must prove extremely difficult of

While studying to supply the several desiderata left unnoticed by those
gentlemen who have written on subjects relating to India, I felt it
incumbent on me, both from a sense of delicacy, and from the conviction
that they had already passed through more able hands, to avoid whatever
topics had been abstractedly considered. Therefore, such of my readers
as may seek for particular information regarding the religious tenets of
the several sects, the languages of the East, the literature, &c., &c.,
should consult those eminent authors to whom the world is so much
indebted. The whole of their works may be obtained by application to
Messrs. BLACK, PARRY, and KINGSBURY, of Leadenhall Street, London, from
whose ample catalogue I beg leave to cull the following, as being
particularly applicable to the use of students laudably intent on
obtaining the most valuable sources of oriental learning.

The works of DOCTOR GILCHRIST stand pre-eminent, and, while they do
honor to himself, are highly creditable to the discrimination and
liberality of the EAST INDIA COMPANY, under whom he held a
Professorship. In the purchase of the few volumes necessary towards the
equipment of a gentleman proceeding to India, the whole of Doctor
Gilchrist’s philological publications ought to be included. DR. WILKIN’S
edition of RICHARDSON’S PERSIAN DICTIONARY is equally indispensable to
writers, who may be desirous to attain a proficiency in the Persian
language, by which they become eligible for officers of the highest
rank: but, to cadets, who do not wish to go to the expence of two
volumes, quarto, the ABRIDGEMENT, by MR. HOPKINS, in one volume, royal
octavo, is particularly recommended. DR. WILKINS’S SANSKRITA GRAMMAR
will also be found eminently serviceable; while his translation of the
HEETOPADES will afford much insight into the narratory idiom of the
OF PERSIAN MANUSCRIPTS, will prove a substantial aid. BALFOUR’S FORMS OF
HERKERN, in Arabic and English, should be provided; together with
HINDU LAW, is indispensable; and I strongly recommend his TREATISE ON
the fullest information regarding the fundamental principles of the
Mahomedan religion; and REYNELL’S MEMOIRS, united with his ATLAS, and
MAP, or ARROWSMITH’S MAP OF INDIA, on a larger scale, will prove the
best guides in acquiring the geography, together with many local matters
extremely interesting to persons travelling in any part of our
territory, but especially in Bengal. The AYEEN AKBEKRY will shew what
Hindostan was under the government of AKBAR; and the ASIATIC RESEARCHES,
and ASIATIC ANNUAL REGISTER, will be found to display an immense variety
of subjects connected with natural history, &c. The Tour made, under the
auspices of Marquis Wellesley, by DOCTOR FRANCIS BUCHANAN, through the
MYSORE, CANARA, and MALABAR Districts, may be considered one of the most
valuable productions of the age; inasmuch as it details, with
philosophic consideration, and, in most instances, with alchemic
precision, a variety of matters relating to the climate, the soil, and
those various articles of produce, as well as the mode of manufacture,
which cannot fail to prove highly interesting to those either engaged in
mercantile speculations, or who thirst after useful knowledge. This work
is published by Messrs. BLACK, PARRY, and KINGSBURY.

With respect to those regulations published for the control, or
guidance, of persons proceeding to, or residing in, India, fluctuations
must at times take place. MESSRS. BLACK, PARRY, and KINGSBURY, publish
yearly a DIRECTORY, under the immediate authority of the COURT OF
DIRECTORS, the latest edition of which ought to be purchased in the
first instance.

Soliciting my readers’ indulgence regarding any typographical errors,
which may, notwithstanding the greatest attention in correcting for the
press, occasionally appear, and anxiously hoping that he may at least be
amused, if not instructed, by the perusal of my pages, I consign them to
the consideration of a discriminating, just, and liberal public;
trusting that my motives, at least, will be rewarded by its approbation.

                                                      THOMAS WILLIAMSON.


                                VOL. I.



    _Instructions to Persons proceeding to India          1 to   30
      regarding articles to be provided, and
      precautions to be adopted_

    _Matters relating to embarking, and the usual        31 .    60
      customs on board-ship, sea-sickness, fishing at

    _Foreign settlements, Brazils, crossing the Line_    61 .    68

    _Religious character of sailors, funerals at sea,    69 .    88
      Cape of Good Hope_

    _Of St. Helena_                                      89 .   109

    _Island of Johanna, and the Comoro Cluster_         110 .   119

    _Whale-fishery in the Mozambique Channel_           120 .   123

    _White-squalls, passage round Ceylon, and up the    124 .   126
      Coromandel coast_

    _Madras, masoolah-boats, debashes, bad meats,       127 .   138

    _General track up the Bay, cautions necessary to    139 .   141
      be adopted by pilot-schooners at the Sand-heads_

    _General appearance of the coast, modes of getting  142 .   154
      up from the ship to Calcutta_

    _Coins and weights in use, land measure_            155 .   160

    _Taverns to be avoided, instructions and cautions   161 .   172
      regarding servants, women, &c._

    _Estimate of primary and current expences_          173 .   175

    _Acquirement of the language, with advice           176 .   178
      regarding conduct in general_

    _Reasons for retaining a number of servants,        179 .   185
      religious scruples_

    _Classification of servants_                        186 .   188

    _The Banian, and Darogah_                           188 .   192

    _The Moonshy, the Jemmadar, the Chobe-dar, the      191 .   212
      Soontah-burdar, the Kansamah, the Sircar, the
      Cranny, specimen of style_

    _The Khedmutgar, The Mosaulchy, the Hookah-burdar,  212 .   228
      the Hookah, the Kaleaun, the Goorgoory, and the

    _Modes of carrying water, the Bheesty, Tatties_     229 .   236

    _The Babachy, the Durzy, the Doby, the Mohout, the  236 .   253
      Mate, and the Surwan_

    _The Syce, the Grass-cutter, the Mauly, mode of     254 .   266
      drawing water_

    _The Aub-dar, the Compadore, the Hirkarah, the      267 .   280
      Duftoree, the Fraush, the Mater, the Dooreah,
      mode of keeping and feeding dogs_

    _The Kalashy, the Manjy, the Goleeah, and the       281 .   287

    _The Berrairah, description of sheep, and mode of   288 .   293

    _The Chokey-dar, curious system of vigilance in     294 .   298
      the upper provinces, expert thieves_

    _The Durwan, the Cahar, insolence of the Ooreah     298 .   310

    _Hints regarding the lading of cattle_              310 .   311

    _Umbrellas, punkahs, liveries_                      312 .   313

    _The mahanah-palanquin, the boçhah, the             313 .   324
      taum-jaung, the bangy_

    _The r’hunt, the g’horry-waun, fine bullocks, the   325 .   333
      g’horry, the hackery_

    _Cautions against engaging European servants,       333 .   336
      either male or female_

    _The Portugueze Ayah, ridiculously vain of their    337 .   339

    _The Hindostanee Ayah_                              340 .   341

    _The Dhye, domestic secrets_                        341 .   346

    _Domestic manners and customs of the natives, with  347 .   408
      details of the state of society among them_

    _Flying kites, great dexterity, natives peculiarly  408 .   411
      tenacious of privacy in their dwellings_

    _European polygamy, characters of women generally   412 .   416
      domiciliated by Europeans, ordinary expences_

    _Dress and ornaments of a Hindostanee lady_         417 .   431

    _Scented oils, mode of extracting the attar of      431 .   441
      roses, with calculation of expences_

    _Unctions in general use, bathing, alligators_      442 .   448

    _Invitations, visiting, female nomenclature, loud   449 .   451

    _Reasons for Europeans retaining native women, and  451 .   458
      impediments in the way of marriage_

    _Orphan Institution_                                459 .   468

    _Vaccination in Bengal, mode of inoculating in use  469 .   475
      among the Brahmans, and among the Pahariahs,
      making capons_

    _The Native Hospital at Calcutta_                   479 .   482

    _Style of building among the natives, mode of       483 .   498
      thatching, domestic furniture, the beetle-leaf
      and plant_

    _Cheroots, women smokers, imitations of native      499 .   502
      manners, dress, &c., and vice versâ_

    _Mirza Alu Taaleb Khan, his ingratitude and         503 .   509
      vanity, comparison of his poetry with that of
      Hafiz and Yuqueen_

    _Precautions against fire, heavy rains, protection  509 .   514
      against them_

    _Bungalows, bricklayers, carpenter and smith,       514 .   520
      houses smeared with cow-dung, mindy applied to
      hands and feet_

                              _EAST INDIA_


The consideration, that great numbers of young gentlemen proceed to
India without the smallest idea of the customs, &c. peculiar to that
country whither they are adventuring; and, that the want of some
previous instruction has often proved of the greatest inconvenience;
first induced me to assume the pen, for the purpose of submitting, to
those under such circumstances, the result of a long residence in
Bengal. When it is understood, that, merely owing to the absence of any
experienced friend, or to the impossibility of obtaining some
publication suited to guide under a case of no small difficulty, not
only many a guinea, which could perhaps be ill spared, is thrown away,
but many a lasting injury entailed, little apology need be offered for
that earnestness with which I recommend my volumes to the attention, not
only of those who are about to proceed to the East, but of such as have
relatives, or friends, in that remote quarter.

The first point offering itself to notice, is, whether an appointment is
to be obtained in the Company’s service, either in a civil, a military,
or a naval capacity; or, whether the party is about to adventure as a
merchant, or free-mariner. If the Company’s service be in question, it
will be necessary to follow implicitly those regulations the Court of
Directors, from whom alone any appointment can be obtained, have, from
time to time, judged it expedient to promulgate for the better
management of their affairs, and for obviating misconception on the part
of every candidate, as well as to shield him from imposition. As these
regulations are subject to much fluctuation, and as it would be
burthening this work too much were they to be embodied therein, besides
that it would be, to a certain degree, infringing on the rights of
others, to whose assiduity the public are considerably indebted, I have
excluded them altogether; confining myself to pointing out, that the
‘EAST INDIA DIRECTORY,’ published annually by Messrs. Black, Parry, and
Kingsbury, but edited by gentlemen holding offices at the India-House,
will be found the best guide in all such matters, as it contains the
code in force at the time of publication.

Formerly, a great number of persons received commissions in the army,
and in the medical departments in India, from the governor-general, for
which necessity was the plea; but that practice was severely censured,
and has been for full twenty-six years completely exploded. The hope of
obtaining an appointment in India, as a Company’s servant, should never
be entertained; none being bestowed but by the Court of Directors;
though, it is true, the recommendations of their government abroad, in
behalf of meritorious individuals, have, in very numerous instances,
been attended to.

Little argument need be used to demonstrate the superior policy, or
rather the imperious necessity, of sending young men from England in
such a state of improvement as may enable them to become useful
immediately on their arrival at the presidencies to which they may be
respectively nominated. This is effected by the institution of a
college, and of a military academy, under the auspices of the Court of
Directors: at the former, those intended for the civil service are duly
grounded in the languages, &c. of the East; while, at the latter, young
gentlemen are instructed in whatever may be essential towards their
military career. By these means, the natives are induced to entertain
more respect for the junior servants, than could possibly be expected
while a want of every local requisite, and even of the very rudiments of
professional science, were too conspicuously apparent. The ‘DIRECTORY’,
already spoken of, will be found to contain whatever relates to the
proper qualifications of young men aiming at employ under the Company;
but I may be permitted to state, that whenever any undue influence may
be exerted, by pecuniary means, to obtain any appointment, in whatever
branch, expulsion and disgrace, or eventually, fine, &c. will be the

The opportunity which offers for the selection of civil servants duly
qualified to fill offices of considerable importance, to which either
large salaries, or handsome fees, &c. are attached, affords the ready
means of rewarding the labors of meritorious individuals in that branch;
and, with few exceptions, of enabling them, after a fair term of
servitude, to return to Europe with competent fortunes. Hence, the
Company have not found it necessary to stipulate for their granting any
pensions to civil servants; but, whenever the pressure of infirmity, or
of misfortune, has exhibited to the Court of Directors an object justly
entitled to their consideration, such civil servants, and, on many
occasions, their widows and children also, have experienced that
attention to their distresses which might elevate them beyond the reach
of adversity.

In the military branch, where a marked level prescribes the rise of
every individual, beyond which, except in a few instances of
staff-appointments, the utmost merit may unhappily remain unrewarded;
and where, in so destructive a climate, the discharge even of ordinary
duties is frequently attended with most injurious results to the
constitution; it has been adjudged necessary to make some provision for
those who may either be compelled to seek the re-establishment of health
in their native country, under the indulgence of a furlough, or who,
having passed the prime of their days in that quarter, may choose to
withdraw from the effective strength of the army, passing their latter
years in retirement, and making way for the more active, to supply their
places in the performance of the more arduous duties.

In consideration of the important services rendered to the Company by
their military and naval officers and surgeons, as also by their
chaplains, the Company have established certain rates of income, under
the general terms of full-pay, half-pay, and pension, for such of them
as may retire from their service: those rates, together with all the
regulations in force, will be found in the ‘EAST INDIA DIRECTORY’,
before referred to.

No British subject, not born in India, can claim the right of residing
within the Company’s jurisdiction; which extends from the Cape of Good
Hope, easterly, towards Cape Horn; including all the Indian Seas, and
the great Peninsula of Asia, so far as the British flag is displayed,
with the exception, however, of the Island of Ceylon, on which the whole
establishment appertains to the Crown, though generally some of the
Madras troops, or even a portion of the Bengal army, may be seen doing
duty there, as auxiliaries.

Necessity has imposed very arbitrary rules on the conduct of government
abroad; none but persons whose political conduct and opinions are
decidedly unexceptionable being permitted to reside within the Company’s
territories. Every European inhabitant is registered, and furnished with
a licence, renewable at times, or subject to be cancelled by the Supreme
Council. Such is the determination supported against whatever may tend,
however obliquely, towards colonization, that, in Calcutta, though
purchases may be made of landed property, secured by _pottahs_, that
correspond generally with our title-deeds, yet there does not appear to
be any actual claim to the soil. This does not create any diffidence on
the part of the purchaser, who, provided there be no latent mortgage,
&c. always holds the property as a fee-simple. This rule does not,
indeed, properly extend beyond the Maharrattah Ditch, which formerly
circumscribed the town on the land side, making nearly a semi-circle,
whose radius might be more than a mile and a half: beyond that ancient
barrier; which in old times was found a considerable protection against
the incursions of the Maharrattah horse: though pottahs may perhaps
exist, their validity would not bear the test of litigation. The
Company, it is true, have in various instances made grants of lands, but
always under such terms as precluded any claim to property in the soil,
as a permanent, independent, and paramount tenure.

The free-merchant, or, (as some designate him,) the free-mariner, who
may proceed to India with the view of purchasing landed property, or of
becoming a renter in his own name, will find himself in a very awkward,
or even a very hazardous, situation, should he lay out his money in
supposed purchases, or in buildings, _et cetera_, beyond the ascertained
limits of the town of Calcutta. My readers will therefore correct, in
due time, any erroneous impressions arising from misrepresentation, or
from misconception: they must, in fact, alienate their British opinions,
and conform to local considerations; divesting themselves of every
prepossession, and viewing our Indian possessions, not as colonies, but
as conquests, of a peculiar description, to which our laws and
privileges are every way either unsuitable, or unwelcome.

I shall now proceed to the display of some minutiæ regarding the out-fit
of a gentleman about to embark in a chartered ship; observing, that no
passenger can be received on board without an express order in writing,
directed to the captain, and signed by the secretary. Should an impostor
succeed, of which, I believe, no instance has ever come to light, in
obtaining a passage to India, by means of fictitious documents, he would
indisputably be detected on arrival there, and be subjected to all the
rigors of the law. The several commanders of the Company’s ships are so
bound by agreement, as well as by regulations, not to receive
unauthorized passengers, as to leave no opening for malpractices of the
above description.

The out-fit of a military passenger will necessarily differ, in a few
points, from that of a person proceeding in a civil capacity: whichever
may be the case, it will be found least expensive to lay in the whole of
the supplies of clothing, so far as may be practicable, from the stock
on hand; obtaining any additional articles from those tradesmen by whom
the family may have been usually furnished. I cannot too forcibly
deprecate the common practice of burthening young folks with a variety
of useless apparel, &c.; the greater part of which becomes the
perquisite of servants, or, being found rather a burthen than a
convenience, is generally thrown about in the most negligent manner. The
grand object should be to provide what may be efficient after arrival in

The first point for consideration is the quantity and the quality of the
shirts, of which not less than four dozen should be provided. They ought
to be of very fine, stout calico, such as may be used in a hot climate,
where linen is particularly prejudicial to health, owing to its feeling
cold when moist with perspiration. About a dozen of the shirts may be of
rather a superior quality, and have frills.

Under-shirts, made of chequered calico, of a moderate fineness, will be
found extremely pleasant, and preserve the upper-shirts from being
soiled by contact with the body: of such, an equal number should be
made; if with sleeves, and reaching to the hips, they will serve for
sleeping in: there should be no ties, nor any opening, except for about
eight inches down, on one side, from the neck, but not in front; a
button will suffice to keep the parts together, after the head has been
passed through.

For wear on board-ship, nothing can equal pantaloons, of which two
pairs of thick, and two of thin, should be provided; together with as
many pairs of wove cotton long-drawers, to wear under them. The thick
kinds may be milled broad cloth, or wove worsted; the thin ones of
light corderoy, aleppine, &c. Half-stockings of worsted, and of
cotton, will be requisite; a dozen pairs of the former, and three
dozen of the latter: they will all be found useful in India. Two or
three black velvet stocks, made to tie with ribbon, will be
serviceable; and, as articles in great request abroad, about four
dozen of neck-handkerchiefs, of very fine linen, not calico, should be
made up: an equal quantity of a coarser kind may be laid in for under

Cotton handkerchiefs, of a small size, such as may be put into a
waistcoat pocket, will be found preferable: of these, full four dozen;
they should be white, with very neat, narrow borders. Two good warm
waistcoats of woollen must be provided, and about two dozen of white
waistcoats, made of fine Irish linen. Breeches in the same proportion,
and of the same qualities. To wear with the latter, two dozen pairs of
long cotton stockings, and half a dozen pairs of short, wove, cotton
drawers, should be provided. The stockings ought to be of the best
quality. A dozen pairs of silk stockings will also be useful on arrival
in India, where they are extremely scarce, generally damaged, and bear
an enormous price.

A substantial great-coat will, on many occasions, be acceptable during
the voyage; as will two pairs of boots, and as many of shoes; one stout,
the other light, for ship wear.

I cannot too forcibly recommend that measures be left with the tailor,
the shoe and boot-maker, the hatter, &c. in order that regular supplies
may be sent yearly, or half-yearly, through the medium of some friend in
London; who could get all articles of such a description shipped in the
privileges of some of the officers of the Indiamen; the freight payable
on delivery at Calcutta, Madras, or Bombay, respectively.

It will be proper to have two or three coats to wear on board-ship: two
should be of broad cloth, and one of camlet, or some other light stuff:
a warm dressing gown of flannel, with two lighter, of printed linen,
will be essentially serviceable.

Hats are so very subject to be injured on board-ship, and, indeed, to be
blown overboard, that I should recommend but little attention to
appearance in that article. In this, as well as in most of the
foregoing, a large portion may be supplied from the stock in use
previous to embarkation. The old saying, of ‘going to sea to wear out
one’s old clothes,’ has so far sense on its side, that whatever can be
decently worn will be found full good enough for that purpose. Persons
who are growing, should observe the precaution of having every article
of apparel made full large; else, by the time they may have been some
months at sea, they will be put to serious inconvenience. It is true,
that few ships sail without a tailor on board, but he is not always to
be had; being generally employed by the purser; or he may be in the sick
list, &c.

With respect to leather-breeches, two pairs may be taken by those
accustomed to hard riding; though nankeen are in general use for the
greater part of the year. In the cold season, the former are extremely
comfortable. Three, or even four, pairs of boots, as many of shoes, and
two round hats, of the best quality; together with two best coats, of
the lightest cloth, or kerseymere, two waistcoats, and two pair of
breeches, of fine white kerseymere, should be packed, with the intention
of being reserved for use in India.

It may be said, that tailors, shoe-makers, &c. abound in India; and,
that every article above-mentioned may be made up, or be obtained there.
The truth is, that all artizans in that quarter expect exorbitant
profits, to enable their amassing sums wherewith to return to Europe.
The materials are likewise much dearer; and many, if not all, of a very
inferior quality. Articles of European manufacture, except when the
market is absolutely glutted, bear full £80. and occasionally £200. per
cent. advance on the prime cost: add to this, that sometimes gentlemen
are so far removed from their trades-people, who are by no means
expeditious in their work, and, if at all expert, have ever more on hand
than they can execute, as to render it next to impracticable for them to
be supplied as they would wish.

With respect to woollens, boots, shoes, &c. Europe is the great source;
no cloths being

manufactured in India, except a kind somewhat resembling serge; and the
leather in general use among the native cordwainers being so ill tanned,
that, after being once wet through, which is effected by the slightest
exposure to moisture, it stretches, losing its shape and pliancy, so as
to be both uncomfortable and unsightly. The native shoe-makers are
certainly very neat in their work, but, owing to the badness of their
materials, cannot, in this case, be recommended.

Blankets of a good quality are scarce, and bear an unconscionable price.
I should recommend to every passenger, that he take three of the largest
double milled, and one smaller under blanket. He will find them useful
on board-ship; and, in the cold season, will not be displeased to find
such in his possession. Their value in the hottest time of the year,
when the wind is dry, and clouds of dust every where passing, is
extreme. If a bed be covered with two or three blankets, at that season,
it will always remain cool and pleasant.

It may be supposed that calico sheets are not adapted to the torrid
zone; and such is strictly the case. Accordingly, we find the greater
portion of Europeans provided with hemp sheeting: many go to the expence
of coarse Irish linen for that purpose, and make their pillow cases of
fine Holland, or of a fabric, called _grass-cloth_, imported from China,
and said to be made from the smaller fibres of what is usually called
_India-gut_, or _weed_. Whatever the material may be, its smooth, glossy
surface, and its disposition to resist absorption, more than any other
cloth in use, qualify it pre-eminently for that purpose to which we
apply it.

I should recommend that twelve sheets were taken; each formed of one
breadth of very fine Russia, or other hempen cloth, and full eleven feet
in length. During the passage, they may be used in that form; which, if
they are full ell-wide, will be found broad enough. On arrival in India
they should be joined two and two, so as to form three, instead of six
pairs. In regard to pillow cases, one for every pair of sheets in their
original state, will suffice: they should be of Irish linen.

A good mattress made of horse-hair, is, in the East, a valuable article.
I should recommend one made to fit the cot, or bed-place, on board-ship;
which will generally be from 6 ft. to 6 ft. 2 in. in length, and from 22
to 28 in. in width. This mattress should be filled to the thickness of
near five inches, and enclosed in a double case of the strongest
ticking: by this means, on arrival, the mattress may be extended to
double its size, with the choicest materials; the hair being spread
thinner, and the ticking reduced from double to single.

A pillow filled with feathers is scarcely to be seen in India! I would,
however, recommend, that, in lieu of a bolster, a pillow stuffed with
horsehair should be taken, with one feather pillow. On board-ship, the
former would be found acceptable in hot weather, while the latter may be
resorted to in stormy latitudes. Their alternate application, as
uppermost, would prove refreshing and comfortable, at least, if not
conducive to salubrity.

Table cloths can be had better, and cheaper, in India than in Europe; as
can towels, or napkins, also: it will, however, be necessary to take
about three or four dozen of rather large towels, of a thick strong
texture. Combs of sorts, tooth, nail, clothes, and shoe brushes, with
their respective et ceteras, should not be forgotten. Soap, for washing
hands and for shaving, must be taken; and if about twenty or thirty
pounds of the patent soap, which will wash with salt water, be laid in,
it may be useful in case a few articles should, from necessity, be
washed on board, and will, at all events, be an invaluable present to
any persons who may do little jobs, such as making the bed, cleaning
boots, &c.: to all such, soap and pig-tail tobacco are more acceptable
than either money or liquor.—Cut tobacco is not considered so valuable;
smoking being next to prohibited in every ship.

A wash-hand bason, ewer, and chamber utensil, will be required: these,
at least the first and last, should be of pewter: the ewer should be in
the form of a bottle, both on account of the convenience it offers in
handling it, and because water is less liable to be spilled from its
mouth; a common quart bottle is no bad substitute. About a pound of good
tea, and five or six pounds of double-refined sugar, may be provided: in
case of indisposition they may be resorted to, without troubling the
captain’s servants beyond the requisition of some hot water.

Persons fond of shooting, would do well to take with them one or more
good double-barrelled guns, with spare locks, a good supply of flints,
and all the necessary implements for cleaning, &c. in a very solid
wainscot case, firmly clamped with brass at the corners, lid, and
bottom. Shot is to be had in Calcutta, as is gun-powder, of the first
quality. A good pointer dog will be found highly valuable; preferable to
a bitch, which rarely lives in that climate after her first, or, at
most, her second litter; besides, it is common for the captain and
officers to expect whatever pups are born on board: on the other hand, a
male pointer, of established breed and reputation, must be eagerly
sought by all sportsmen, who will cheerfully give a portion of its
progeny to the owner.

With respect to military persons, whose apparel and accoutrements cannot
be ascertained previous to quitting England, they should confine their
attention to laying in those materials which cannot fail of becoming
useful on their arrival: thus, an officer of infantry ought to purchase
a few yards of the best _super-superfine_ scarlet broad cloth, or
kerseymere, for making up his regimentals; an officer of artillery or of
engineers, blue, &c. The whole establishment not being exactly uniform
in particular points, such as the colors of the facings, the patterns of
the swords, &c. nothing can be done, with propriety, in those instances:
this, however, is the less important, because every cadet is, on
arriving in the country, sent to join a corps composed of gentlemen
under similar circumstances, about sixteen miles from Calcutta, in which
he must serve for two years, or until judged qualified to do duty with
the regiment to which he may stand appointed as an ensign.

Every thing in the cutlery line should be taken from England; the most
essential are as follow. Two good razors, in a case, with a small strop,
a small looking glass, two or three pairs of scissors, of sorts; two or
three good penknives, a riding knife, with fleam and picker, a pair of
good carvers, a dozen of table knives and forks, ditto of dessert, all
plain bone or ivory handles; a pocket case of apparatus for scaling the
teeth; mathematical instruments may be included under this article, as
may black-lead pencils of the first quality, with colors, hair pencils,
and drawing and writing papers; all of which are extremely dear in
India, and, according to the usual modes of shipping, rarely arrive in
good condition.

A good gold watch, with light chain and seals, together with some spare
glasses fitted, will be indispensable. A small telescope, that may be
easily carried in the pocket, will prove amusing on many occasions, and,
to a military man, must ever be ranked among absolute necessaries. In
regard to plate, very little is wanted for a single gentleman. Six table
spoons, twelve tea spoons, a soup spoon, a marrow spoon, and four salt
spoons, will be found as much as usually can be required; as will be
better understood when I come to describe the manner of living among

The very limited space allowed for the baggage of each passenger,
renders it indispensably necessary that every article should be packed
close. Many consider a large sea-chest to be useful; but, in my opinion,
it is the worst receptacle that could be devised; especially as it
becomes useless on arrival in India. I should strongly recommend four
boxes, well covered with leather, and clamped with brass, measuring
about 26 or 28 inches in length, 18 in breadth, and 18 in depth. Each
should have within a lifter, so that half its contents may be taken out
at pleasure, the lower tier remaining undisturbed. The contents of each
part to be noted on a piece of stiff paper, which should be pasted
within the lid: a copy to be written in a memorandum book, so that the
contents of the several boxes (which should be numbered and lettered
with the proprietor’s initials, thus, A.B./1 A.B./2 A.B./3 A.B./4) may
be known without opening them. Only one of these need ever be in use at
a time; the rest being sent down into the after-hold; which usually is
opened once or twice weekly, on stated days, for the convenience of
those who may wish to have access to their packages.

I have derived very considerable convenience from sorting all my linen
into sets: for instance, a shirt, an undershirt, (commonly called a
_banian_,) a pair of stockings, two neck handkerchiefs, and a pocket
ditto: these I rolled up as tight as could be effected by manual force,
and surrounded with a towel, which, being pinned, kept all fast and
clean. In this form my linen could be packed in a very small space. Foul
linen should always be put up in the same manner. One box, containing
articles in reserve, should be exempted from such as might be
occasionally wanted: it should be allotted to hats, silk stockings, best
coats, linen, waistcoats, &c. Each will occupy about five cubic feet;
therefore, the whole may be comprised in half a ton measurement.

I should observe, that blankets, &c. not in use, may be put under the
mattress; and, that, if a standing bed-place is in question, about four
yards of coarse woollen, such as serge, perpet, shalloon, or baize, may
be taken on board, wherewith to make a set of curtains; which, in some
situations, such as the steerage, will be found not only comfortable,
but absolutely necessary. Those who have been on board any coasting
vessel, fitted up for the accommodation of passengers, will instantly
accord with this piece of advice, and comprehend how desirable it is
that every box, &c. beyond that in immediate use, should be consigned to
the after-hold. If more than four trunks should be deemed necessary,
they may generally be had ready made at most of the manufacturers. The
size described ought not to be exceeded, on account of the facility with
which such may be suspended in slings made of canvas, and be carried on
bullocks, one trunk on each side. Too much cannot be said on this point;
since the degree of compactness an officer is able to attain, will
generally determine the quantity he may be able to carry, and insure its
early, as well as its safe, arrival.

Those who are not in the Company’s service, are left to make the best
bargain they can with the commanders of the Indiamen, and to select such
ships for their conveyance as may best suit their views in regard to
destination and time of sailing. The Company, some years ago, issued
their orders, that only certain stated sums were to be taken by the
commanders of ships in their employ, according to the rank of passengers
respectively.—A reference to the DIRECTORY will shew what were
prescribed, any trespass on which was declared tantamount to an _ipso
facto_ dismissal from the service. The regulations formerly included
only as far as majors, under the supposition that all above that rank
would indulge in the hire of cabins; for which they must, of course, pay
extra. The specified sums were what the Company paid on all occasions
where the passage-money was receivable from their own treasury.

However just and benevolent the intention of the Company evidently was;
since it served to protect their servants from impositions which had, on
many occasions, been ruinous to individuals in low circumstances, and,
in some instances, caused them to apply to the Court of Directors for
loans, to enable their returning to India; still, it cannot be denied,
that the stipulated rates are by no means adequate compensation for the
very heavy expence a commander incurs, when laying in stock for a voyage
generally estimated at six months duration. Whatever may be paid by
individuals of the several classes respectively, each invariably expects
to be received with the same cordiality, and to partake, without
distinction, of whatever the stores may afford.

It needs no argument to prove, that a ship containing a great number of
cadets, under the limited rates, would by no means be a gaining concern
to the commander. Hence, the outward voyage is not the object of a
commander, who, even under the most favorable circumstances, could not
make any great profit by his passengers; but, by his liberal treatment
of them, he obtains that character which insures him a choice of rich
persons returning to Europe, who, in the aggregate, rarely fail to make
up to him for his former trouble, and deficiency of pecuniary benefit.

It is usual to enquire among the commanders as to their probable number
of passengers, and to ascertain the dates at which their ships are,
according to the arrangements made at the India House, to be despatched.
The pursers are commonly employed to adjust the rates of passage, and to
dispose of such cabins as may be intended for the accommodation of
passengers. Matters being settled, it is necessary to apply to the
secretary for an order to be received on board the vessel in question;
which order is delivered to the commander, or to his purser, so soon as
obtained. The secretary likewise furnishes every Company’s servant with
a certificate of his appointment; and to each free-mariner, &c. he gives
a licence to proceed to India. These papers must be carefully preserved,
for delivery into the office of the secretary under that presidency to
which the party may be destined. It is always best to consign them to
the keeping of the purser. In cases of certificates having been lost,
much difficulty has arisen, and all the parties have been obliged to
depose to that effect on oath.

I should advise those who are about to embark, to cultivate an
acquaintance with the respective commanders. Experience fully
establishes, that civility rarely fails to produce good consequences. It
is reasonable to conclude, that some previous acquaintance must engender
some good will. The captains navigating under the auspices of the India
Company, are men who have seen much of the world, and who rarely fail
justly to appreciate those marks of attention, and respect, which flow
voluntarily from persons with whom they have dealings. On the other
hand, it must be rather uncomfortable to go on board a ship where all
are total strangers; or, at the best, where, perhaps, the purser alone,
and that with some hesitation and difficulty, acknowledges ever to have
seen your face! Common sense points out that such is both impolitic, and

Having made a voyage in a foreign ship from Bengal to the Cape, it may
be serviceable to some of my readers to receive a hint or two regarding
the usage he is likely to experience, should he entertain a disposition
to avail himself of that channel of conveyance. The detail need not be
prolix; for it may justly be asserted, in few words, that foreign
vessels are rarely sea-worthy; they are badly equipped, and worse
manned; their decks are low; their accommodations dark, dismal, and
offensive; their water execrable; their provisions scarce and bad; their
commanders ignorant, avaricious, mean, proud, tyrannical, and deceitful!
That some exceptions may exist, cannot be denied; but I never heard of
one who did not, more or less, merit the above stigma.

Look to the Company’s ships, and see the reverse! The truth is, that in
them we find most of those good points that are established in the Royal
navy, added to much desire in their commanders to be on a friendly
footing with the passengers; while, I believe, there is no doubt that,
in the end, their terms are more moderate than those of any foreigners.

If the circumstances of a passenger should enable him to hire a cabin,
his comfort will be increased inconceivably, even though he should have
barely room enough to swing a cot, or to put up a standing bed. But,
that he may not deceive himself in respect to the accommodation he is to
derive from such a retirement, it would be proper for him to pay a visit
to the vessel while lying in the river, probably at Gravesend, or the
Hope, and there to ascertain the exact dimensions he is to occupy. It is
an object, if he uses a swinging cot, that the breadth of the cabin
should be such as to allow of its being triced up between the beams
during the daytime; thereby to have it out of the way, and to give more
space in the cabin. When suspended, it should be lengthwise; so that, as
the ship rolls, or lays down on either side, the cot should swing even.
When hung athwart-ships, unless the cabin be very broad, it would be
perpetually knocking against the bulk-head (or partition), and the
ship’s side. Hence it is advisable, wherever the space may admit, to
make a standing bed-place fore and aft, furnishing it with rails, to
keep the occupant from rolling out; for, if it be made athwart-ships,
and the vessel be working against an adverse wind, he must, whenever the
ship goes about, change the position of his pillow, from head to foot

In peaceable times, cabins are ordinarily constructed of wooden
partitions, and have a door, with lock, &c. very complete; but, during
war time, it is usual to make them of canvass, fixed to the beams above,
and rolling up thereto, whenever the vessel may be cleared for action.
Some cabins include a port-hole, which, in large ships, is peculiarly
comfortable; especially under the Line, when a current of air is
invaluable; but, in bad weather, when the port is shut, those cabins
that have only skuttles, about one-fourth the size of a port-hole,
become preferable; especially when they are provided with glass
shutters; which can be at any time made by the ship’s carpenter, if not
previously attached. The skuttles being higher up in the side of the
vessel, and nearer to the deck above the cabin, are well calculated for
allowing rarefied air, which would float above the level of a port-hole,
to escape. They are usually placed at intervals between the ports. When
a cabin is built so as to include a port, the gun appertaining thereto
is commonly sent forward, and lashed up to the ship’s side, the muzzle
pointing forward; but, on emergency, the cabin is knocked down, and the
gun is run into its place. Hence, each kind of cabin has its advantages,
and disadvantages.

The right side of the ship, from stem to stern is called the
_starboard_; the left side is called the _larboard_: the line on which
the mast stands, _i.e._ straight over the keel, divides them. The
starboard, in most modes of applying the term, implies superiority over
the larboard. Thus the chief mate has his cabin, which is usually 12 or
14 feet long, by 10 or 12 in breadth, next to the great cabin, on the
starboard side of the gun-deck. The second mate has one rather smaller,
on the opposite, or larboard side. Then, again, the third mate on the
starboard side, immediately before the chief mate’s; next before him the
fourth mate; while the surgeon and purser usually have their cabins on
the larboard side, next before the second mate’s.

What is called the ‘great-cabin,’ is a slip taken off across the stern
of a ship, on the gun-deck, about 14 feet deep, leaving a passage on the
larboard side that the passengers and officers may have access to the
quarter-gallery, or privy, on that quarter. The great-cabin includes all
the stern windows, therefore, is extremely light and airy; but, on the
other hand, its situation is rather disadvantageous to those who are
troubled with habitual sea-sickness. The bows and the stern partake, in
an accumulated ratio, of the ship’s motion, as she pitches; that is, as
she rises and sinks, alternately, at the head and stern; consequently,
the centre of every vessel is the part least subject to agitation.

The captain occupies, in general, a cabin called the ‘state-room,’
situated under the fore part of the poop, on the starboard side, with a
glass door towards the quarter-deck: its dimensions, as well of those of
all the cabins already described, vary according to the ship’s tonnage,
but may be taken at about 15 or 16 feet square: the space including it,
and the larboard side under the same parallel, is called the ‘cuddy;’
while all behind is designated the ‘round-house;’ and has a row of glass
windows in the stern part, with two doors opening into the
‘stern-gallery:’ a flight of steps, rather confined to be sure, serves
as a communication, by means of the starboard quarter-gallery, with the
great-cabin. These steps, under which is a privy, are particularly
convenient to ladies, who usually have the starboard side of the
great-cabin allotted to their accommodation. When the passengers are
very numerous, especially when many families are on board, the
round-house is partitioned off into three or more cabins; the larboard
quarter-gallery, on the upper deck, having also a privy. In such case,
the dinner table is laid in the cuddy, instead of the round-house; but,
as it is rarely spacious enough to allow the whole to sit down at the
same time, the company are, commonly, divided into two parties,
succeeding each other every day alternately.

The sums paid for cabins entirely depend upon the demand, their size,
the ship’s destination, and the circumstances of the person selling his
accommodations. The several portions of the round-house and great-cabin,
both of which are considered the captain’s property, of course are paid
for in proportion to their respective dimensions: it may, however, be
taken as some guide, that, outward bound, a slip, including one window,
may produce from £200. to £300.; and that the several mates’ cabins may
be averaged at from £3. to £5. for every square foot of the enclosed
area. Homeward bound, on account of the number of children and servants
shipped with a family, the rates are yet higher: I have known, more than
once, the whole of a great cabin let for £2,500.!

There being an essential difference in the comfort afforded by having
either a cot or a fixed bed-place, it may be acceptable to my readers to
be informed of some minutiæ attached to those conveniences respectively.
A cot is an oblong case of canvas, having a deal frame at the bottom,
with a canvas sacking well strained; the ends are furnished with small
cords, called nettles, which pass round an iron thimble, or _grummet_;
and those again are passed over two strong hooks, placed about seven
feet asunder, fore and aft, whereby the cot is suspended. During the day
time, a cot is commonly taken down, and disposed of in some part where
it may, so far as the means allow, be out of the way: the best mode is
to trice it up between the beams that support the superior deck. In this
kind of bed, the motion of the ship is scarcely felt, unless she is
acted upon by a very short, broken sea; the cot always preserving its
level: hence, those who are much troubled with sea-sickness should
always provide a swinging cot; taking care to hang it in such a place as
may preclude the danger of its being bumped against the ship’s sides, or
the bulk-head, (_i.e._ a boarded partition,) than which nothing can be
more unpleasant. I have several times been canted completely out of my
cot, owing to the want of space at its sides. In very bad weather, when
the ship has rolled many streaks of her deck under water, the frame of
my cot has been forcibly dashed against the beams: at such times, if the
width of the space admits, it is proper to lengthen the nettles to their
utmost: whereby such inconvenience may generally be obviated.

A standing bed-place is so far convenient, that the necessity for
removing in the morning, and affixing at night, is done away; whereby
the bed-furniture is greatly preserved from filth and injury: besides,
its occupant can ‘turn in’ whenever he pleases, and has the satisfaction
of knowing that his trunk is, by being under him, secured from damage,
as well as from depredation; whereas persons who sleep in cots often
experience considerable inconvenience in those particulars. Those who
have fixed bed-places in the larboard division of the great-cabin, are
by far more privately, and more comfortably, situated than such as have
them in the steerage, ranging along the bulk-head of the chief mate’s
cabin: in either case, there are always two tiers, or ranges, of
bed-places, one above the other; the lower are certainly most

As priority of embarkation, or at least of adjustment, gives a right to
selection, it is advisable to visit the ship so soon as an order for
being taken on board is obtained; when a choice should be made as to the
situation of a bed-place; those of the lower tier, nearest the stern
windows in the great cabin, are to be preferred, they being both more
airy, and more light: the latter will be found an object to those who
are studious, or partial to reading in bed, which, on board-ship, is
held to be a most delectable recreation.

In adjusting with the captain, or his purser, it is proper to be very
exact in stipulating for a berth in the great-cabin; and it would be as
well to notice the conveniences to be afforded, in the body of the
receipt given for the passage-money. Not that I would lead to the
supposition of deceptions being practised intentionally; but, in the
hurry of business of considerable importance, such lesser items will
occasionally slip the memory, giving birth to disagreements which not
only are attended with future distrust, but may, perhaps, be beyond the
possibility of remedy. It should, however, be considered that a
bed-place in the great-cabin, which generally is fitted up for eight,
or, at the utmost, for twelve, will be charged somewhat higher than one
in the steerage; the latter being an open passage, totally devoid of
privacy, exposed to violent currents of air, not always of the sweetest,
and subject to many obvious inconveniences.

Among the ship’s company, two or three men, or boys, are usually excused
the general duty of the ship, for the purpose of attending the
passengers: when other matters are settling on board, care should be
taken to engage one of these attendants to do all the work in the cabin,
if one is hired; namely, to clean boots and shoes, brush clothes, clean
the basons, provide hot and cold water, attend to the boxes in the hold;
with a variety of et ceteras which will soon obtrude into notice. For
such good offices, about three or four guineas will be expected; but it
must not be supposed that, for such a compensation, a man will devote
his whole time to one passenger; nor, indeed, is it necessary that he
should, since an active, intelligent fellow, who has been used to such
menial offices, may, with great ease, give satisfaction to at least four
or five. When such an aid cannot be obtained, on account of the scarcity
of hands on board, a douceur to any of the mates’ servants will answer
every purpose, besides probably giving the advantage of being served by
one perfectly conversant with ship affairs, and possessing some
influence with the captain’s steward; with whom I humbly recommend to
all passengers that they keep on good terms; he being no small man in
his way, and having the power to afford many conveniences, which, though
in the estimation of folks on shore apparently insignificant, are,
nevertheless, of considerable value to those unaccustomed to a sea-life,
and cooped up for months within such narrow limits!

This reflection leads me naturally to the consideration of that line of
conduct which should, on all occasions, be maintained by those who wish
to pass their time as agreeably as circumstances will admit, and to
appear respectable. In the first place, the captain will exact from
every one on board, of whatever class, a perfect attention to the
regulations of his ship: were he to allow any deviation, the whole would
be aiming at the same indulgence, and subordination would be
annihilated! It is customary, whenever a person ascends from the
gun-deck to the quarter-deck, or goes upon it from the cuddy, &c. to
touch his hat; even though no one should appear there: a breach of this
rule would be considered grossly insulting, and might induce to rebuke,
by no means pleasant to the feelings, or adding to the credit, of a
gentleman. When it is considered with what a high hand the officers of
ships are obliged to uphold their authority, over a numerous crew
composed of all nations, and often including the most hardened and
daring culprits, we cannot but applaud every practice tending to
preserve order, regularity, and decorum.

The hour for breakfast may be generally stated to be eight, for dinner
two, for tea six, and for supper nine. The first is announced by the
great bell on the fore-castle, which always rings a sonorous peal when
the watch, or guard, is to be relieved: tea-time is known by the same
signal. As the dinner hour does not correspond with the relief of the
watch, it is usual to warn the passengers and officers by beat of drum:
the tune of ‘Roast-beef’ being daily heard, though it rarely leads to a
participation of that viand whence its designation is derived. Very
little notice is required to call together those who are disposed to
partake of supper: for the most part, the company amuse themselves with
cards, music, &c. during the evenings; or, when the weather admits, walk
the quarter-deck; observing to keep on the windward side; which is held
to be the privilege only of the captain, the three senior mates, the
purser, the surgeon, and those passengers who board at the captain’s

Although nothing very sumptuous is to be expected on board-ship, yet
there will be little or no cause to complain of deficiency. The
breakfast ordinarily consists of good tea and coffee, with excellent
biscuit, and, at times, rolls; which, as well as every species of
leavened bread, come under the marine designation of ‘soft-tommy.’ The
butter, to be sure, is not to be boasted of; it being utterly impossible
to prevent its melting, so as to resemble liquid honey.

It being studied to take on board as much fresh meat as possible, at the
time of sailing, some joints of good beef and mutton may be served up
for the first week; after which the ‘corned’ (or slightly salted) meat
comes into use. The ample supply of poultry, of all descriptions, fed in
coops on the poop, and a small flock of sheep, perhaps from twenty-five
to forty in number, maintained there on hay, &c. enable the captain, for
the most part, to exhibit fresh meat, of some sort, every day; which
added to abundance of prime beef and pork for his use, together with
tongues, pickles, sauces of all kinds, potatoes, rice, pastry, olives,
&c. &c. form a _tout ensemble_, where even the most dainty may find
something acceptable to the palate.

It cannot be supposed, that wine is so freely dispensed, as when on
shore; the ladies, however, are generally supplied with as much as they
may require during the repast; after the cloth is removed, the bottle is
put round two or three times, according to the liberality of the
commander. The last tour it makes being accompanied with ‘good
afternoon’ serves as a hint for the gentlemen to withdraw, until the
hour for tea; when, as already observed, they frequently amuse
themselves until supper is ready.

This last meal is little more than a matter of form; it consists chiefly
of cheese and biscuits, rasped beef, sago-soup, lobs kous, which is a
curious medley of various ingredients, forming something midway between
water-gruel and peas-soup. One tour of the bottle, attended with ‘good
night,’ closes the operations of the day.

The water taken on board being strongly impregnated with filth, of
various kinds and colors, soon becomes so nauseous as to be utterly
unfit for the use of delicate persons: the quantity of animalculæ it
contains could not be credited by a person who had not seen it! On this
account, several filtering-stones are used, through which the water
finds a passage, leaving the impurities behind. This percolation is,
however, extremely tedious, and does not entirely remove the taint;
though it assuredly so far sweetens it as to render the water very
drinkable. The fecula left in the hollow of the drip-stone, are
perfectly putrid.

The ordinary beverage is table beer, or perhaps porter: in warm weather
excellent spruce beer abounds; sometimes, indeed, the whole crew are
supplied with from one to two quarts daily. Nor is the punch-bowl
suspended for empty shew! By means of prepared lemon-juice, aided by a
good stock of the fresh fruit, carefully suspended in nets in the
stern-gallery, &c. good punch, lemonade, and negus, are often served to
the company.

I strongly recommend, that all young persons should be embarked at
Gravesend, or the Nore; in preference to being taken on Board at
Portsmouth; by that means they become settled before the generality of
passengers arrive, and escape that indescribable confusion attendant
upon the sudden influx of whole hoys full of dead and live lumber! For
such they appear when interrupting the several operations attendant upon
a vessel’s getting under weigh. Those who purpose delaying to the last
moment, should leave their cards of address with the purser, taking care
not to be far from home, that he may, when proceeding to the India-House
to receive the packets, send notice of his being about to quit town. On
receipt of such notice, no time must be lost in repairing to that port
where the vessel may be; in being customary to sail so soon as the
purser gets on board. Half an hour’s delay has proved the loss of many a

The great number of ships employed in the India trade, occasions so
frequent an intercourse, that scarcely two months ever elapse without
one or more being despatched to some part of India. Unless under very
peculiar and pressing circumstances, it is inadvisable to proceed in any
not bound to that part whither the passenger is destined: for, although
it appears, on paper, very easy to get from Madras, for instance, to
Bengal, such will not always be practicable; and so great a delay may
elapse as should allow a vessel bound to Bengal, sailing perhaps a month
or two subsequent to that proceeding to Madras, to arrive at her port
before the means might offer of getting on from Madras. Add to this,
that freight and passage-money are infinitely higher in India than in
Europe; which, combined with the heavy expence attendant upon long
detention on shore, would prove the economy, as well as the speed, to be
on the other side of the question.

The time of sailing will, under common circumstances, decide the time of
arrival. Ships leaving England, that is, the Land’s End, in all April,
may be expected to arrive at Madras in all September; when, if not
delayed, they may run up the Bay in a week more, with great ease. As the
northerly monsoon often begins to prevail in October, occasioning ships
to stretch over towards Acheen-head, whereby from four to six weeks will
be lost in getting to Balasore Roads, it is rather advisable not to sail
later than March, if at liberty to choose the season. By so doing, the
arrival will take place at a time when the great heats are over, and the
cold weather is approaching: two points not only eligible as they relate
to health, but to society also. The early, or late, arrivals of such
writers and cadets, as are appointed for the same year, make no
difference whatever in the rank they are relatively to bear; that being
determined by a general list transmitted by the Directors, generally in
the last ship of that season. The pay, however, is calculated from the
date of presenting the certificate, before spoken of, at the proper

The period of sailing will generally indicate the weather which may be
expected during the whole passage. Such as leave the pilot in the spring
will round the Cape of Good Hope about Whitsuntide or Midsummer, when
winter prevails in that Quarter; it being in 34° south latitude:
advancing to the northward, they will meet with the trade-winds from the
tropic towards the Line, where, in all probability, light and variable
winds may cause some delay. Ships leaving England in our autumn, round
the Cape at their Midsummer, and reach Madras generally in from eighteen
to twenty weeks; carrying fair, but warm, weather all the way. If they
arrive about the middle, or latter end of March, they may, by remaining
for a few days, until the southerly monsoon is fairly established,
sometimes reach the sand-heads in Balasore Roads in three or four days.
This is obviously preferable to running over to the eastward.

I know nothing more unpleasant than being wind-bound! Nor, indeed, can
there be well conceived a more certain recipe for draining the purse!
The passenger must not suppose that, after having repaired to that port
where the ship rides, he is at liberty to go on board instantly, and to
remain until she sails. On the contrary, though he should not fail to
intimate his arrival, and to leave his card of address, he must put up
at some inn, or lodging-house, at his own expence, until the signal may
be made for sailing, by firing a gun, and loosening the fore top-sail,
by that ship under whose convoy a fleet is to sail; or, if there be no
convoy, by the senior captain; who is, by courtesy, designated

The Court of Directors have, latterly, in consideration of the inability
of their junior servants to pay the heavy charges to which they are
subject while in port, given an extra sum to the commanders of their
ships for each cadet’s diet in such situations. This was no less
necessary than considerate. It will have been seen, that persons going
out in the civil service have fewer stipulations in their favor; for
which the presumptive reason is, that they are commonly the sons of
gentlemen possessing large property: the sum of £3000. having been so
often given for writer-ships, seems to indicate that very little
occasion could exist for interference in their behalf.

When a ship arrives at any regular port, where accommodations can be
had, the passengers are, in like manner, expected to reside on shore, at
their own charge. Such, to many, may appear unreasonable, or strange;
but, when it is considered to what heavy losses a commander might else
be subject, which, divided among a number, would appear trifling, and,
at all events, not prove ruinous, the propriety of such a rule will not
be disputed. This explanation may serve as a hint to parents, and
guardians, not to ship young folks _in forma pauperis_, under the
prudent, but here inapplicable, precaution, of taking away the means of
being extravagant. Emergencies often arise, wherein a few guineas are
indispensably necessary; and, as few go to sea with more cash than
ordinary expences may demand, it is not easy to remedy the error.

Where a young man has established his character for imprudence, the only
recourse is to place a few guineas, say from twenty to thirty, in the
hands of the captain, or the purser, with directions to supply what may
be absolutely required, rather in form of a loan; keeping the youth in
ignorance of his having a banker on board, and giving him, at taking
leave, perhaps five or six guineas, in order to carry on the deception.

When it is known that no shop of any kind exists in a ship, (excepting
the purser’s slop-shop,) we must conclude there can be little
opportunity for extravagance: the principal danger is to be apprehended
from gaming, which in some ships reaches to a dreadful extent; always
creating difficulty, and rarely terminating without bloodshed. This,
added to emulation for the favorable opinion of the ladies, may be
considered the usual causes of discord. The latter is, in a great
measure, restrained by that custom which fixes every passenger to the
same seat at table during the whole voyage; whereby daily contests for
vicinity are avoided.

The number of accidents that have happened from trivial causes, renders
it necessary to be extremely cautious in regard to smoking; which in all
men of war, and India-ships, is permitted only on the fore-castle. By
this means danger is avoided, and the stench carried away. It is to be
lamented that so proper a regulation is not observed throughout the
merchant service; in which so much carelessness prevails, that it
appears to me miraculous so many vessels arrive in safety. On my return
from India, I embarked at St. Helena on board a whaler, of which the
captain had a strong predilection for his pipe, which was scarcely ever
out of his mouth. His practice was, to smoke in the cabin where we
dined, throwing his hot ashes down upon the deck, in which was a
skuttle, or small hatchway, under his own seat. Two lieutenants of the
navy, who were fellow-passengers, used to remonstrate very freely, but
without the smallest effect, against so improper a practice.

It happened, one morning, as we were off the Azores, that a
suspicious-looking vessel hove in sight, laying-to under close reefed
top-sails: we altered our course, and were immediately chased. Having at
least forty-five young fellows, and about a dozen six-pounders, on
board, we cleared ship for action. Imagine what was our surprise at
finding that, under the identical hatchway, over which our captain had
been perpetually smoking, was a magazine of about thirty barrels of
gun-powder; some hooped in, and some having their chimes barely covering
their contents which proved to be ready-filled cartridges! I conceive it
would have been utterly impossible, if the vessel in chace had proved an
enemy, and that we had been compelled to defend our ship, to have
avoided being blown up!

Many are in the habit of reading by candle light in their beds: this
only requires to be known to the officers, to be completely overruled;
nor will they, unless in cases of indisposition, allow a candle to be
burning after the passengers have generally retired to rest. Hence, only
a few wax tapers, or bougies, can be requisite. When it is considered,
that a ship is composed of materials for the chief part highly
combustible, and, that in such a situation a fire spreads with
astonishing rapidity, defying the exertions of all on board; also, that
there is little chance of many lives being saved, unless other vessels
may be in company; we ought assuredly to adopt every means of guarding
against so terrible a calamity!

Most ships have a small fire-engine on board, which is not only an
admirable safe-guard, but facilitates the washing of decks; an operation
that usually takes place once or twice weekly. At such times all the
chests are sent below, and all the hammocks hauled upon deck, for the
purpose of being aired. Seamen become habitually cleanly in their
persons, and in their bedding; but when recruits are on board, they,
being less attentive to personal appearance and to comfort, not only
breed vermin, but sometimes propagate infectious diseases. Hence, a
small quantity of vermin-ointment will perhaps prove an useful
succedaneum; its timous application preventing the growth of any colony,
of which some stragglers may have laid the foundation.

When the decks are washed, it is customary to exercise the seamen in the
use of great guns. For this purpose the drum beats to quarters; when all
repair to their several stations, and, under the instruction of the
several officers, go through the ordinary operations attendant upon that
branch of discipline. No persons, of whatever description, females
excepted, are exempted from being appointed to some post, where their
services may be efficient. The military officers are allotted to
commands on the poop, fore-castle, waist, &c.; having under them such
cadets and recruits as may be on board; the whole acting as marines. The
surgeon, with his mates, those of the sick who are incapable of taking
an active part, together with all females, descend to the cock-pit;
which, being below the level of the water-line, is tolerably secure from
danger; though sometimes a shot, between wind and water, will find its
way to that retreat.

The crew are always portioned into two watches, except when very
numerous; in which case, as well as during the time a vessel is in port,
they divide them, including recruits, &c. into three watches. The chief
mate commands the starboard-watch; the second mate commands the
larboard-watch; and, when there are three, the other, called the
mid-watch, is commanded by the third mate. It is customary to relieve
the watch every four hours, except in the interval between four and
eight o’clock in the evening, which is divided into two reliefs, of two
hours each, called ’dog-watches.’ But for the intervention of these,
there would be no change in the times of coming upon duty; as each of
the starboard and larboard watches would, respectively, come on at the
same hours daily; and this would be the same, even if a mid-watch
existed: whereas, by dividing the evening-watch, it occasions an odd
number, and changes the tour, or series, every day.

Where supplies of provisions are not attainable, it necessarily follows
that each person on board can receive only a stipulated allowance of
meat, water, &c. This does not always affect those who are at the
captain’s table; though it is generally recommended to the passengers to
be economical in their expenditure of water for washing, shaving, &c. In
some ships they are restricted to a quart daily, and if the crew are
upon short allowance, which is understood to be the case when each man
receives less than two quarts, the passengers and officers have little
or no fresh water allowed for the above purposes; but their beverage at
table is rarely limited, except under the pressure of actual necessity.

All things considered, the privations experienced by passengers to India
are by no means so numerous, nor so severe in their operation, as might
at first view be apprehended. In many ships, ladies and gentlemen
skilled in music are adventitiously assembled, and, by their united
talents, afford a most pleasing recreation to all on board: few vessels
are totally destitute of some means to attract the parties towards the
quarter-deck; where, in the cool of the evening, during fair weather,
the merry dance for a while banishes _ennui_, and contributes to give a
wholesome impetus to the circulation.

Those ladies who are partial to music should be particularly careful
that the piano-fortes they may take with them, be constructed in such
manner as may exempt them from those wondrous effects produced by the
climate of India. I have had the pleasure of aiding several friends in
this instance, and found that the instruments made for exportation could
never be depended upon, unless clamped at every joint with plates of
brass, and secured, in the more delicate parts, by means of battens well
screwed and cemented to the sounding board. Experience has fully
satisfied me, that the pianos most appropriate for hot climates are made
by Clementi, Kirkman, and Tomkinson, at their respective manufactories
in London.

Ladies will derive considerable convenience and gratification from
having an exterior case made to enclose the piano-forte, leaving a space
of about an inch all around. This outward safe-guard should be of planed
deal, stained of a mahogany color, or painted; and it should open in
front, so as to admit of playing the instrument, while its lid should be
fixed upon hinges, that it may be thrown back at pleasure. The lower
part of the frame may be packed, and laid by; a spare frame of deal
being substituted during the voyage, with a set of shelves below to
contain music, books, &c.; all locked up by means of folding doors. Both
the exterior case, and the frame, ought to be furnished with lacquered
iron handles, whereby to lift them occasionally; but particularly
intended to secure them to the side of the ship, and to the deck:
without such a precaution the whole would be tumbled about, and shivered
to atoms, by the vessel’s motion.

Gentlemen who perform on stringed instruments, should be careful to
provide an ample supply of strings, firsts and fourths especially; they
being not only very dear, and perhaps damaged, when procurable, but at
times not procurable, in any part of India, for love or money! Reeds for
oboes, clarionets, bassoons, &c. are similarly circumstanced. Nor would
it be superfluous for a lady to take with her several sets of wires for
her piano; they being very scarce. At all events, she ought to qualify
herself to tune the instrument; which may be effected in the course of a
month, or six weeks, by attention to the instructions of a regular
tuner, who would feel himself well satisfied under a moderate
compensation. This is a point whereon I dwell rather particularly;
knowing that, even in Calcutta, Madras, or Bombay, a good tuner is not
always to be had; and that, in all other situations, throughout the
interior scarce a professional person can be found. Besides, in a
country whose climate deranges the most skilful adjustment of the wires,
often in a few minutes, merely by a slight exposure to heat, or to damp,
the expence attendant upon such frequent tunings, as are indispensably
requisite, would speedily absorb the full value of the instrument
itself; the ordinary rates being a guinea for a grand-piano, and twelve
shillings for a square one. Therefore, whether considered as a
convenience, or as a matter of economy, too much cannot be said in
recommendation of every lady’s learning to tune her piano before she

It being impossible to say how soon rough weather may be experienced
after leaving port, (indeed, sometimes ships get under weigh while it is
blowing very fresh,) it is usual to lash the dinner tables to the deck,
placing their feet in mortices cut into small blocks, called cleats,
which, being firmly nailed down, generally keep the whole sufficiently
firm. It is not easy to render the chairs equally secure; but they are
tolerably steadied by nailing two rows of battens on each side of the
table, so as to embrace the legs of the chairs, which, in this mode of
securing them, ought all to be of equal compass from front to rear. It
requires, after all, some management to preserve an equilibrium when a
ship rolls much; which it does chiefly in a calm, or in a gale of wind.
In the former instance, the transitions of reclination from starboard to
larboard, and _vice versâ_, are often very great, owing to the heavy
swell which alternately raises the ship, and again sinks her into the
trough made by two successive waves. However curious it may seem to
persons unacquainted with sea affairs, it is nevertheless certain, that
more masts are lost by rolling in a calm, than by stress of weather.

In regard to that most distressing malady, sea-sickness, it is not
possible to lay down any specific mode of precaution, or of remedy: it
ordinarily commences with that agitation occasioned in the vessel’s
motion, by either the wind’s force, or the water’s undulation. Few
experience more than a few qualms, while the water is smooth; such as is
the case in going through the Needles with a leading wind, in fine
weather; but when upon a wind, with a chopping sea, and sudden, or
forcible, gusts, all who are not accustomed to the motion, become most
oppressively sick. However much they may be affected by this customary
derangement, those suffering under its influence are more frequently
objects of derisive merriment, than of compassion. The prevalent opinion
is, that, in a few days, the complaint will disappear; hence it is
regarded as a matter of course, and as a seasoning, which, by its mode
of operation, rather conduces to health, than to a dangerous issue. That
such is the usual result, cannot be denied; but there are some
constitutions which cannot stand so forcible an attack: women, in
general, are most severely oppressed by it, and some few fall victims

It would be endless to enumerate all the recipes, which those who fancy
themselves qualified to prescribe, tender on this occasion to the
unhappy sufferers. I believe that acids and laudanum, in repeated small
doses, are most successfully administered; though I have seen them fail.
That unfeeling advice given to the unwary, ‘to drink a glass of
spirits,’ invariably tends to aggravate all the symptoms, and, with
those not habituated to such strong remedies, produces all those
inconveniences attendant upon super-added irritation. The fresh air upon
deck will be found considerably to diminish the force of the complaint;
but the eyes should be kept shut, and the attention be withdrawn from
the sea, and from the rigging; of both which the motion is peculiarly
calculated to increase that swimming in the head inseparably attendant
on sea-sickness. If, notwithstanding these precautions, the nausea and
derangement should continue, it will be proper to retire to bed;
observing the precaution of lying on one side, and keeping the eyes

There may, perhaps, be no harm in taking a small case of spirits on
board; but such is by no means indispensable: they do not come within
the scope of a gentleman’s expenditure; and, unless preserved with
uncommon vigilance, will probably be drawn off by some adventuring
fellow, provided with a pick-lock, while the owner is either asleep or
absent. I cannot too strongly inculcate, that every thing should be
under lock and key: ships, of every description, are infested with petty
pilferers, and sometimes with more expert and daring thieves; who will
not fail to purloin whatever can be turned to use, in such manner as may
not lead to discovery. The effects of passengers, especially, are
considered to be fair booty. Blankets, sheets, &c. will all disappear
towards the close of a voyage, or when in a port where they can be sold,
or bartered away, if their owners confide too much in the honesty of
their neighbours.

The third mate generally has a mess, in the expences of which the
fourth, fifth, and sixth mates sometimes partake; the purser and surgeon
being invariably at the captain’s table. The captain’s clerk, who is
usually a midshipman, the surgeon’s mate, when there is one, and the
second class of passengers, all mess with the third mate, who is allowed
a certain space before the officers’ cabins; which, being enclosed with
canvas, makes a very tolerable berth, wherein the table is laid. Those
of the mess who belong to the ship, subscribe to lay in such articles of
provision, chandlery, &c. as may suffice for their own consumption; the
sums paid by passengers, who associate with them, being applied in due
proportion towards the maintenance of the latter; any balances arising
therein becoming the perquisite of the third mate. I have heard, that,
with the exception of so large a proportion of live stock as is destined
for the captain’s table, the mate’s mess, in some ships, claims the palm
in many respects. When so many passengers are ordered on board, as to
render it impracticable for the captain to accommodate the whole at his
table, the later applicants are consigned to the mate’s mess during
meals; but are admitted, so far as convenience can be extended, to a
participation of the amusements and society of the round-house. On some
occasions the mate’s mess has, from the above cause, been able to boast
of rather eminent characters.

Those who are fond of fishing, may sometimes derive much amusement from
the possession of a stock of tackle suited to the occasion. In warm
weather, especially towards the Line, when moderate weather and calms
prevail, many sharks may be taken. The hook for this purpose ought to be
about a foot long in the shank (the other parts bearing a just
proportion) which should be firmly attached to a stout piece of chain,
from two to four feet in length, having at its other extremity a loop
and swivel, to which the rope (such as is called inch and half rope, and
ought to be full a hundred yards long) is tied; the bait, a piece of fat
pork, of about three or four pounds weight. The weight of the chain and
hook will suffice to sink the bait to about thirty feet below the
surface, where it will soon be discerned by the sharks, which generally
keep under the vessel’s bottom, or play around her at a considerable
depth; though they will occasionally range along the ship’s side, or
bask under the stern, so as to be easily shot with a musquet ball, or
struck with a harpoon.

Even at the depth of fifty feet, the shark may be distinguished as he
approaches the bait, by a luminous appearance, extending in an oval
form, in that direction in which he swims. He generally seizes with
avidity, turning on his side at the moment; without which he could not
get it into his mouth, owing to the excessive length of his upper jaw.
So soon as the bait is in his mouth, the fish, on feeling the resistance
of the rope, makes a sudden plunge downward, at the same moment
recovering his former position. The hook, being extremely sharp, rarely
fails to pierce the jaw, when, in an instant, the whole length of line
will be run out. As no human force could properly be relied on to check
the fish’s course, the end of the rope is either fastened to some
timber-head, or to a tackle fall: the latter is preferable, because it
adds to the length of the line, and does not check the fish so suddenly:
without the latter precaution, the rope may be snapped, or the hook torn
away from the shark’s jaw. The quantity of heavy line, added to the
weight of the hooks and chain, soon bring the fish under command, when
he is towed up to the gang-way, and there, by means of a slip-knot
passed over his fins, hoisted into the waist.

Few persons will taste of a blue shark, it being considered unwholesome;
but of the brown shark, which rarely exceeds five feet in length, (while
the former has been known to measure near thirty,) most of the seamen
will solicit a steak. The average sizes of sharks may be from six to
twelve feet in length: it is very common to collect a pailful of young
ones, each about a foot long, that take refuge in the parent’s maw.
Behind the fins are usually several sucking-fishes, adhering to the
shark’s sides: these are supposed to live upon its blood; but some
doubts may be entertained, at least whether that is its sole
subsistence, when I state, that in Madras Roads I caught, by means of a
hook and line put out for ground fishes, a sucking-fish that measured
rather more than two feet.

Sharks are in general attended by what are called pilot-fishes: these
are beautifully striped blue and white; in form they much resemble the
chub, and may measure from ten to fifteen inches in length. When the
shark displays himself, the pilot-fishes may be seen playing about his
head and sides; but when the ship is going fast, and the shark keeps
under the bottom, or stern, at a considerable depth, the pilot-fishes
often rise to the surface, assembling in the eddy about the stern-post.
I never could entice one of them to touch a bait.

In the higher latitudes, the albacore, boneta, dolphin, &c. may often be
seen playing about the ship in great numbers; sometimes as though intent
on keeping company for scores of miles. Porpoises are yet more familiar,
and delight in preceding the ship, at a few yards distance; affording,
to those who are expert, excellent opportunities for striking them with
harpoons. The liver of the porpoise is esteemed by many to be as good as
that of a pig; to which it bears some resemblance; the body of the fish
is by no means palatable. The flesh of the dolphin is extremely dry, as
is that of the boneta, which is commonly replete with small white
animalculæ, not unlike short fat maggots. The albacore is inconceivably
rapacious; often springing several yards out of the water after the
flying-fishes, as they skim above the surface; which they sometimes do
for full two hundred yards; their great enemy darting along under their
course with incredible velocity, and rarely failing to make a prey of
one, or more, as they fall into the water in an exhausted state.

While bonetas, and dolphins, may be taken by almost any bait, the
albacore rarely can be attracted by any device wherein there is not some
resemblance to the flying-fish. I have seen numbers taken, when the ship
has been going fast through the water, by securing a three-inch hook to
a slip of bacon fat, cut into the form of a fish, and further disguised
by a long white feather, taken from a goose’s wing, stuck on each side.
The line for such a purpose should be stout laid-cord; for, though
bonetas rarely exceed twenty, and dolphins forty pounds, albacores will
often be taken weighing from one to two hundred: I have, indeed, heard
of their reaching to three hundred weight. Their flesh may be compared
with carrion; it being coarse, tough, and very strong tasted; but,
though not pleasing to the human palate, it is a very choice bait,
attracting all fishes of prey. Albacores sometimes snap at the log;
which is a small piece of triangular board, loaded at one corner with
lead, and fastened to a long line wound on a reel. The log being lowered
into the sea, will remain stationary; drawing the line off the reel in
proportion to the velocity with which the ship is then passing through
the water: the number of yards run off, while a minute glass is
emptying, shews the number of knots, _i.e._ miles, sailed within the

It is not uncommon, when in the vicinity of islands, to see turtles
lying on the surface of the sea, fast asleep; these can sometimes be
taken, if two or three careful men proceed in the jolly-boat, paddling
her along with an oar out at her stern. The turtle should be secured by
one of the crew dropping gently into the water, and swimming very
cautiously until he can pass a slip-knot over the hind fin, generally
called the _fipper_; the other end of the line being fast to some part
of the boat.

Touching at Ascension on our way from India, for the express purpose of
obtaining a supply of turtles, I had an opportunity of witnessing the
facility with which they may be taken at certain seasons, when in the
act of copulation; as happened while we were there, in January. The
turtles floated in pairs, in a state approaching to lethargy; allowing
our whale boats to run along-side of them, without, in general, being
alarmed. The first object was to pass a boat-hook over each shoulder of
the male, to prevent his escape; for, on being touched, these invariably
quitted their mates, and endeavored to strike downwards. The instant the
boat-hooks, were placed, their inverted points acting as curbs, a third
hand dexterously passed the noose over the fipper, and left the turtle
in charge of a second or third boat, to which the other end of the noose
line was fastened. In that manner we took about a dozen one morning, in
less than two hours; but were not equally successful in our operations
on shore. There we hid ourselves, about night-fall, behind the masses of
rock every where scattered on the beach, and, allowing the females to
pass us, with the intention of depositing their eggs in the dry sand,
beyond the reach of the surf, endeavored to intercept them in their way
back to the water. Not a doubt was entertained that we should turn them
over by scores; but, with the exception of one unfortunate female, which
by chance ran headlong against a crag, our hopes proved to be visionary.
The awkward gait of these unwieldy animals, added to the clouds of light
sand they threw up, completely defeated our most zealous exertions. We
had recourse to our oars, placing them in the way of the turtle, and
using them as levers wherewith to overturn the shuffling animals; but in
every attempt the turtle only slipped a little to one side: therefore,
after breaking several oars, we found it expedient to desist.

While we were on shore, the gulls hovered about us like so many gnats;
absolutely darkening the air, and perching familiarly on our heads and
shoulders. These subsist chiefly on the shoals of mackarel cast ashore
by every surf. I am confident that many a heave of the sea threw up a
cart load of those fishes; some of which were drawn off by the next
heave, but thousands lay along the beach time enough to be carried off
by the gulls. Sharks were to be seen in every direction, and of all
sizes; the large ones generally swimming near the surface, with their
back-fins exposed to view, and the lesser ones at about two or three
fathoms deep, on every side of the ship. I was desirous to catch one of
them for the sake of its skin, but we were so environed by shoals of the
_chætodon plectorhenchus_, or pleat-nose chætodon, which took their
station much nearer the surface, and intercepted my baits, though they
were tied down to the hooks with worsted yarn, (some indeed being
enveloped in cloth, and secured in a similar manner), that not one hook
was allowed to descend to the level where the sharks abounded. Many
hundreds of the _chætodon_ were taken, and, after being stripped of
their skins, which make a beautiful black shagreen, though in the water
they appear to be chiefly blue and yellow, were thrown to their greedy
brethren, by whom they were speedily devoured.

It should be noticed, for the benefit of those who may touch at
Ascension, either on their way to St. Helena outward-bound, or in coming
homeward from that rendezvous, that we hooked several very fine fishes,
especially the much-admired Bull’s-eye, by trailing a bait, about fifty
or sixty yards astern, as we sailed partly round the island. Close in
shore, among the crags, just beyond reach of the surf, we caught half a
boat load of old-maids in very little time.

The modern course of ships proceeding to India, ordinarily carries them
near the Cape de Verde, and Canary islands; where, if wine is to be
taken in, a detention of ten or twelve days may happen. This being, in
all probability, the first opportunity that may offer of going on shore,
after leaving England, it may be proper to caution the young adventurer
not to ridicule, nor in any way to shew disrespect towards, the
religious ceremonies of the Roman Catholics who possess those islands.

Under the exercise of prudence and discretion, all persons landing among
the Portuguese are certain of receiving every civility and attention;
but, when insulted, no race of men are more irascible or vindictive: the
offender is sure to fall a victim to their unrelenting vengeance! At
either of these islands, but especially at St. Jago, abundance of fresh
provisions may be obtained: in all of them the tropical fruits abound,
but should not be eaten to excess; lest a dysentery, which, in those
latitudes, proceeds with hasty strides towards death’s portal, should

Many vessels, after proceeding down the Atlantic in a mid direction,
between the Azores and the Canaries, until they catch the trade-winds,
which in that part blow constantly from the north-east, or nearly so,
stretch over to the coast of Brazil, along which they run, to about 30°
south, for the purpose of avoiding the south-east trade-wind prevailing
to the southward of the Line; then being in the way of variable winds,
they shape their course towards the Cape of Good Hope. Few quit this
coast without putting into some port for a supply of wood, water, fresh
provision of sorts, &c. Rio Janiero is the most frequented by British
Indiamen, both on account of its safe harbour, and the abundance of
supplies it can afford. Being in latitude 23°, it will be requisite to
guard against the great heats incident thereto, and to be careful not to
encounter the nightly dews, which are here extremely heavy, and give
birth to the most dangerous species of fever.

The customs of the inhabitants throughout this coast being nearly alike,
a description of one portion may suffice for the whole.

The natives of this part of South America appear to be particularly
inoffensive, and to submit with perfect resignation to the authority of
their conquerors. They are of a middling stature and well-proportioned;
their complexions dark, and their hair lank and black. From what I saw
of Pernambuco and Olinda, which lie in about 7° south, it should seem
that the houses of the better class are well calculated to debar access
to the powerful influence of the sun; which, for six months, is nearly
vertical at the above parallel of latitude, and does not form a very
acute angle with the northern horizon at any time of the year.

The Portuguese have organized several regiments of the natives, clothed
and armed in the European style: it was not easy to ascertain the state
of discipline of these troops; but, if we are to judge from the
equipment and appearance of the regiments in the mother-country, it
might be reasonable to entertain some doubts regarding their prowess.

Notwithstanding the intense heat of the climate, the Portuguese
inhabitants omit no religious duties; nor do they ever appear in that
deshabille we should expect to see generally adopted among an effeminate
people, under such circumstances in regard to locality. It could not
fail to prove highly amusing, when we beheld boys, of about six or seven
years of age, full-dressed according to court etiquette, with bags,
ruffles, swords, &c. representing the more ancient part of their
population in miniature. These young gentlemen, as well as their
seniors, and especially the ladies, were seen every-where riding in
vehicles very strongly resembling the chair-palanquins of India, but
carried by only two men; one before and one behind.

The profusion of compliments, and of real civilities, we experienced,
were absolutely burthensome; we were every-where welcomed in the most
kind and liberal manner; barges, rowing from twelve to thirty oars, were
at our command, to take us to and from the ship, which could not pass
the Bar of Pernambuco, and lay full four miles from the shore, in seven
fathoms. As to fruits, fish, vegetables, and poultry, they may be had to
any amount, of the first quality; their beef and mutton are not,
however, much to be praised, and their pork is intolerably fat, without
being firm. This last is one of the principal viands at the tables of
the Portuguese, in every quarter of the globe, and is dressed in various
ways, all equally offensive to a delicate stomach. The serenity of the
weather rendered the acquisition of a supply of excellent water very
easy; the casks being floated to and from the shore; all fastened to
ropes, and towed by the large boats already mentioned.

The land lying low towards the beach, though backed at some distance by
hills, occasioned us to be within a few leagues before we discovered our
proximity to the Continent; and we should probably have run into shallow
water, had not a large floating object been seen about a mile from us.
Our glasses speedily enabled us to distinguish persons moving on a low
frame, that we conjectured could be nothing less than some great
fragment of a wreck. Boats were immediately hoisted out, and, in less
than half an hour, we had the satisfaction to see our quarter-deck
covered with a variety of fine fishes, chiefly rock-cod, that had been
taken by the industrious Indians, whose catamaran we had mistaken for
the remains of some unfortunate vessel.

Although we could not converse with these people, it was natural for us
to suppose we were not far from land; to which they directed our
attention, and by significant signs, as well as by leading on the
catamaran, of which they had hoisted the sail, pilotted us to the Roads
of Pernambuco, leaving us in good anchoring water, and gratefully
receiving some beads, and other trinkets, of no value in our estimation,
but highly prized among them, in exchange for the excellent repast they
had afforded to the whole ship’s company.

A few days before our arrival at Pernambuco, the usual ceremonies
attendant upon crossing the Line were duly observed. Those who had never
been so far to the southward, were impressed with the belief that sundry
operations, by no means pleasant, were to take place: among other
things, it was said they were to be suspended from the fore-yard arm,
and to be thoroughly ducked by frequent dips into the sea. However
unreasonable this may appear, there exists no doubt of such a practice
having been perfectly common about forty or fifty years back; it was
then regarded as an excellent _joke_, affording wondrous merriment to
the veteran part of the crew. In time, the practice ceased; either from
the interposition of good sense, or owing to the judicious distribution
of some liquor among the chiefs of the _dramatis personæ_.

The amusements incident on this occasion are not very tedious, and,
though filthy in the extreme, cannot be witnessed without exciting much
laughter. About noon, the boatswain, being full dressed as the god of
the ocean, is supposed to hail the ship, enquiring whence she comes?
whither she is bound? and if any persons are on board who never before
crossed the great boundary dividing the northern from the southern
hemisphere? After much pompous and authoritative elocution, wherein
Neptune declares a firm resolution not to relinquish his rights, he
ascends at the bow, under which his car is supposed to be in waiting,
whence, attended by his mates, whose paraphernalia accord with the
dignity of their office, and the solemnity of the occasion, he proceeds
to the quarter-deck, where, after an appropriate speech, he exercises
his powers of divination, and in a few minutes discovers the several
novices who are to submit to his decrees. His god-head, like his
progenitor of ancient times, invariably has an eye to business; and as
the sea deity of the Greeks was supposed to delight in ample sacrifices,
so does his descendant, or rather his representative, of our time,
equally cherish the idea of copious libations in honor of the day.
Hence, there is little difficulty in appeasing his wrath, and
conciliating his good-will towards the vessel and her crew, by the
immolation of from two to three gallons each, of good rum or gin; which,
being duly tendered to the officiating priests, soon reach their
destination, and avert the threatened danger.

While this is going on, some of the old hands are busied in the
construction of a ship, which is to be launched in the presence of the
deity, under whose auspices she is to sail the world over, and back
again, in perfect safety! This important duty is conducted with great
precision, and takes place in the lee-waist, where all the novices among
the sailors, recruits, &c. are ranged in two rows, face to face, to
represent the ribs of the stately Argo.

It is usual to select some of the more pliant, or silly, of the party,
to form the head and bows: one of these being placed in the centre,
looking forward, his head covered with a long swab, of which the threads
hang down nearly to his heels, and his face being smeared with all the
filth the ship affords, by way of paint, is considered the typical
figure suited to the nomenclature of the vessel.

All being in readiness, the builders attend Neptune as he retires, in
order to allow the shoars to be knocked away, that the launch may take
place: the captain and his officers aid the farce by encouraging the
passengers to advance towards the waist, there to view the construction;
when, at a fit moment, the god roars forth his mandate for committing
his _protegé_ to the deep. It, however, unluckily happens that the
vessel does not shew any disposition to quit the stocks; therefore, as
she will not proceed to the water, the only chance of setting her afloat
is by causing the water to proceed to her; which it accordingly does
from some dozens of buckets, &c. previously secreted in the fore and
main tops, and in the long boat, for that purpose. This drenching
concludes the show, and the crew retire to make merry upon the amount of
their collections, which, when not sufficiently abundant to afford a
moderate allowance to each, is liberally augmented from the ship’s

The sabbath is always observed on board every Indiaman with perfect
decorum: there being no chaplain on board, unless perchance as a
passenger, the captain, or one of the officers, reads the morning
service, and eventually a short lecture suited to the audience,
consisting of all on board who are not confined by illness. It is not
easy to describe the decency which prevails on such occasions; the whole
standing bare-headed on the quarterdeck, and refraining from every act,
or look, that might trespass on propriety.

Many sailors, notwithstanding the character in which they are generally
accepted, are of a very religious disposition, and are easily led by
those who shew a reverence for the church establishment. Yet, like most
persons bred up in ignorance, they are shamefully superstitious, and
often entertain notions very little short of those which actuated their
ancestors to throw Jonah overboard. However ridiculous it may appear,
yet it is strictly true, that among hundreds of the bravest tars, one
wag may, by whisperings, groanings, &c. aided by a white sheet, and a
hollow intonation, create a most disgraceful panic. But our terrestrial
population, of corresponding rank, can claim no title to laugh at their
peers on the element. The sermon lately delivered and printed, by the
Rev. Isaac Nicholson, A.M. Curate of Great Paxton, in the county of
Huntingdon, in consequence of two attacks on the person of Ann Izzard, a
reputed witch, whereby Alice Russel, who endeavored to protect that poor
woman, was destroyed, evinces the deplorable state in which the minds of
our lower orders remain, notwithstanding the great expence incurred for
the propagation of the Scriptures among them, and the infinite pains
taken to instruct those who cannot afford to pay for education.

Funerals at sea can rarely boast of much display, but their attendants
are often sincere mourners. Confined within a narrow space, the loss of
a companion is not easily forgotten; every object reminds us of his
fate, and exacts a sigh! Few linger, either of disease, or of wounds, so
long as persons under similar circumstances would do on shore. The want
of room, of fresh air, of clean linen, of suitable diet, and of a change
of scene, all contribute, notwithstanding the most assiduous attendance,
to depress the spirits, and to aggravate the symptoms. Above all, the
ravages of scurvy are peculiarly distressing, and tend most to
dishearten: even those in perfect health become alarmed, and, from that
circumstance alone, often participate in the dreadful evil.

It being utterly inadmissible that a corpse should be retained on board,
no time is lost in sewing it up in a hammock; placing a few lumps of
coal, or other ponderous matter, at the feet, to cause its sinking. Thus
prepared, it is laid upon a grating at the lee gang-way; and, after the
usual burial service, at which all attend, is committed to the deep. In
some instances, during calms, sharks have been seen to dart from under
the vessel, and to attack the corpse in the most ravenous manner. It is
well known that all sickly ships are attended by many of those fishes;
which, if numerous in the vicinity of a healthy vessel, are, in the
opinions of the crew, the surest indications of great mortality on
board. Without pretending to doubt the acuteness of a shark’s sense of
smelling, it may be permitted us rather to ascribe their congregating to
chance, than to their supposed powers of anticipation: at the same time
there can be little doubt, that certain effluvia must escape from a
vessel not duly purified by ventilation and ablution; and that such a
neglect will rarely fail to induce diseases of the most malignant
description; thereby giving a latitude, among those who view things
superficially, to adduce instances apparently confirmative of their

Whatever convenience it may be thought to afford to the survivors, it
appears to me, that the customary sale of all the effects of the
deceased, indiscriminately in general, is contrary to the dictates of
prudence, so far as relates to salubrity. That, in such a situation,
whatever is appreciable may produce a better price, cannot be
controverted; but I should rather incline to think it were better to
forego that advantage, than to risk the dissemination of disease, though
not previously malignant, by an unlimited distribution of the apparel of
one demising under any clinical distemper. To say the least, perfect
ventilation should be given to every atom; nor would the trouble or
expence (if any) of fumigating the wearing apparel, and bed-clothes, be
ill bestowed: perhaps baking would be found the safest precaution.

It has already been stated, that, in rounding the Cape, the weather may
be expected to correspond with the season of the year: this is so well
understood, that it is only during the summer season in that quarter,
vessels are considered to be safe in Table Bay, situated to the north of
a low, flat, sandy isthmus, over which it is evident the sea formerly
flowed into False Bay, lying a few miles to the southward. The mouths of
the two bays have different aspects; consequently, when a channel
existed such as I have described, the Table Mountain, whence the
northerly bay derives its designation, together with Cape Town, which
stands between the mountain and that bay, together with Wineburg,
Witti-boom, Constantia, &c. &c. including a length of about forty-five
miles by four, on an average, in breadth, must have been insulated.

When a ship is to touch at the Cape, it is very desirable, on every
account, that her arrival should take place during the summer season; so
that she may come to anchor in Table Bay, about half a mile distant from
the wharf. The convenience, thus afforded, of going immediately into
comfortable lodgings, where nothing is wanting that can tend to the
refreshment of persons fatigued by those narrow limits within which they
have been confined, probably for ten or twelve weeks, is not to be
calculated. The Dutch, it is true, are most offensively avaricious; but
that must be compounded for, in consideration of the satisfaction
attendant upon the liberty of taking exercise in a fine climate,
abounding with the most delicious fruits, the choicest vegetables, and
that kind of social intercourse, which, chasing away the recollection of
former langour, gives energy to meet succeeding dulness and inactivity.
The British visitor will, however, experience considerable
disappointment if he expects to witness the performance of dramatic
pieces, or that jocund hilarity which with us prevails among persons
long resident together. On the contrary, the inhabitants of Cape Town
think of nothing but money-making; in which they are neither inexpert,
nor very scrupulous. In public, they are so awkward, stiff, and
unsociable, that I have often been surprised they did not go to sleep at
their visits. If such was the state of society only a few years ago,
what must it have been previous to the occupation of the Cape, during
the American war, by two French regiments; which, according to the
confession of the Dutch themselves, _made a very considerable
improvement in their breed?_

Few of those who take lodgers will admit such as do not board with them:
the rates are not in any instance fixed, but the average may be taken at
from three to four rix-dollars for each lady or gentleman, half-price
for young children, and one dollar for each servant, per diem. From this
it may be collected, that a single gentleman must be an economist if he
manages to pay his expences of board, washing, horse-hire, &c. under
thirty shillings daily.—The rix-dollar is fixed at four shillings; but
is an imaginary sum. Notes of any value may be had; but gold and silver
currency are scarcely ever seen; the Dutch being extremely eager to
obtain guineas at twenty-one shillings currency, and re-selling them at
the rate generally of six and a half, or seven rix-dollars. Persons
visiting the Cape should be careful to reserve their cash until about to
pay their bills, and then to account their guineas at their current
value, as above shewn. Such is the estimation in which bullion is held,
that no small coins are any where to be seen; even shillings, and
stivers are paid in paper currency. Passengers from India ought to take
a bag of rupees of the worst description; for, whether sicca or
tersooly, each will be gladly received, without distinction, at two
shillings and sixpence.

The cookery of the Dutch is pretty nearly on a par with their
flesh-meats; their beef, mutton, veal, and pork, being rarely of
tolerable quality, and invariably made to float in strong sauce, of
which butter and spices are the chief ingredients. The table is, in most
houses, laid in a central hall, looking into a garden; the floors are
all painted, that they may not absorb the damp when washed, as they are
almost daily: the beds are tolerably good, and the apartments of a
moderate size. Before every house, is an elevated terrace, on a level
with the ground-floor, having at each end a seat, usually of masonry
also. On this terrace, called the _steupe_, the Dutch promenade half the
day in fair weather, enjoying their pipes, and occasionally taking their
_sopkies_; which are small glasses of raw spirits, for the most part
hollands, their servants tender to them at intervals, as a matter of

The extensive gardens of the late Dutch Company, through the centre of
which is a broad gravel-walk full half a mile in length, are crowded
every Sunday evening, and on all festive days, by a promiscuous group,
who walk in parties, to and fro, under the shade of the oaks and other
trees planted on either side. There is also an institution, but of a
more private nature, and frequented, with few exceptions, by the Dutch
only. It is held at a neat house, where wines, &c. are sold, having
attached to it a spacious garden; not unlike some of our tea-drinking
places in the vicinity of London. This is called _Concordia_; a name
perfectly unsuited to the scenes occasionally disgracing the interior,
which has more than once excited the attention of our government, in
consequence of the seditious principles of its visitors.

The late Lord Macartney did not fail to keep a watchful eye over
Concordia, as well as to check, in their infancy, whatever attempts
might be made to spread, and to inculcate, revolutionary principles. A
large portion of the inhabitants being descended from delinquents who
had quitted their native country, as Gil Blas says, ‘not without good
reason,’ and having rarely paid much deference to their rulers in
Europe, it is not to be wondered at, that those doctrines of the
mountain, which condemned Louis the XVI. should have been adopted at the
Cape. Such was the advance made in the cant of the day, and so numerous
were the meetings at Concordia, that Lord Macartney judged it necessary
to adopt measures for bringing his Dutch subjects to their senses; which
he did in a manner that reflected the greatest credit on himself, and
evinced with what facility traitors may be subdued under a just and
energetic government. Among the many who resorted to Concordia every
evening, was a great farmer, known at the Cape under the designation of
_Boor_, who was particularly smitten with the new-fangled terms of
gallic civism: if I err not, his name was VAN CLOOTZ. He was of immense
stature, and ordinarily wore a round slouched hat, about the diameter of
a gentleman’s umbrella; and as he paraded through the streets, sitting
on the front board of his waggon, drawn by eight Spanish horses, always
appeared like some enormous wild beast belonging to Mr. Pidcock’s

This _monstrous_ great man (long considered the key-stone of the
arch-traitors of Constantia) was summoned, in a civil manner, by Lord
Macartney; who, in becoming terms, rebuked him for his folly, and
explained the whole extent of what had been reported, regarding the
proceedings of those who visited the garden. Mynheer was not to be
talked out of his veneration for the Revolution in France; and declared,
that, in his opinion, it would be equal to a martyrdom to die in so
glorious a cause. It was in vain his Lordship depicted the horrors
attendant upon so great a reverse; the boor’s enthusiasm rendered him
blind to such trifles, and to all those excesses which inseparably
accompany civil convulsion.

In the course of a few days, Van Clootz was informed, that a troop of
cavalry had arrived at a farm he had on the borders of Hottentot
Holland, about thirty miles from the Cape, and that it was supposed they
would remain some time in that neighborhood. The boor was delighted at
the prospect of a long bill for hay, corn, &c. &c. folio after folio;
every day’s stay was joyfully noted! It was not long, however, before
complaints were made that the troopers behaved in a licentious manner,
killing his poultry, destroying his fences, plundering his garden,
kissing his maids, and the Lord knows what! Now, as most of his stock
was consumed, it was no longer an object for Mynheer to court the stay
of the cavalry; therefore he went boldly to Lord Macartney with a long
list of damages, and his bill for corn, &c. demanding, in a very haughty
manner, that the farm should be evacuated by his _now_ unwelcome

‘Bless me, Mr. Van Clootz,’ said his lordship, ‘why, I thought you was
delighted with revolutionary principles?’—‘Yes, my lord, I am so; the
acts of the French nation should be written in characters of gold!’—‘And
yet, Mr. Van Clootz, you complain against the troop I sent to be
quartered upon you—no, no, Sir; you have been so fond of the _sweets_ of
revolution, that I am resolved you shall taste some of its _bitters_
also: therefore the cavalry shall remain at your farm, until you
acknowledge the benefits of British protection, and retire peaceably to
your lands, there to cultivate corn, instead of sowing sedition at

The result may be easily guessed: Constantia was depopulated, and
Mynheer Van Clootz was held in derision throughout the Cape. It should
not remain untold, that, however strict Lord Macartney might have been
during the time he governed at the Cape, such was the impression made by
his equitable, liberal, and firm conduct, that, when he embarked for
Europe, the inhabitants were truly grieved; but consoled themselves
under the hope, that a petition they sent to his Majesty, for the
re-appointment of his lordship, might prove successful.

Many of the farms, within the compass of a morning’s ride, are well
worth seeing; not as objects of imitation, but as displaying much
novelty, and tending to afford a just idea of the character of a Dutch
agriculturist in that quarter. The vineyards, and depôts of wine at
Constantia, are certainly curious; especially when it is considered,
that the soil which produces that luscious wine, is confined to a very
few acres, I believe not more than forty, beyond which, sets from the
same vines, under circumstances of perfect equality, in regard to site
and culture, produce a very different liquor, little superior to that
sold at the several wine-houses at sixpence per quart, and possessing a
peculiar terraceous flavor, which does not diminish by keeping. The
stranger not habituated to the use of the Cape wines, either white or
red, should be extremely cautious on his first arrival to avoid them;
drinking port in their stead. A neglect of this precaution will produce
considerable inconvenience, and may be attended with habitual diarrhœa.
I was one of four, who, on landing at False Bay, drank about three or
four glasses each, and were violently affected by it during the whole of
the following night.

Many whalers frequent the coast to the eastward of the Cape, where they
kill numbers of the white species, which supply both spermaceti, and the
oil bearing that name. In False Bay, which includes a space equal to at
least two hundred square miles, black whales may often be seen sporting
about; as, indeed, they may, in Table Bay, close in among the rocks,
about half a mile below the fort. A few are killed by the crews of such
ships as have not been so fortunate as to fill with the former kind; but
it seems to be done almost as much for pastime as for profit; the oil
extracted from black whales being very low in price; it neither burning
well, nor making so good soap as the spermaceti kind.

Although the winter months are held to be very dangerous for vessels
riding in Table Bay, on account of the dreadful swell that sometimes
sets in from the north-west, towards which it is much exposed, it is,
however, rare that vessels are lost therein during that season; no
doubt, in consequence of their very short stay, and of their usually
proceeding to Seamon’s Bay, the inhabited part of which is about
twenty-five miles from Cape Town. The Sceptre, of 64 guns, together with
a Danish 74, and about ten or twelve other vessels, were wrecked in
Table Bay on the 5th of November, 1799; a period when a gale of wind
from the north-west is never expected. To make up for the deficiency,
that part of the year is attended with very stiff breezes from the
south-east, which drive up the small gravel against one’s face with such
force as to give very acute pain. These south-easters, as they are
called, certainly produce excellent effects; cooling the air, and
destroying an infinite number of insects.

Nature has been truly liberal in the profusion of flowers she has
scattered throughout this part of Africa: the plains are covered with
heaths, or hethers, of an exquisite fragrance, of boundless variety, and
of the most delicate coloring and formation. The whole country, where
the soil is not absolutely barren, teems with all that could enrich a
pleasure garden; among these, the wild geraniums bear a large
proportion: the plain beyond the camp at Wine-Burg absolutely resembling
a rich carpet!

The opposite side of Table Bay, as seen from Cape Town, offers nothing
pleasing to the eye; the coast appearing to be low, sandy, and barren,
rising gradually into a range of hills, displaying little arborage, or
verdure, which connect with those on the east side of False Bay, forming
a part of the district called Hottentot Holland; wherein are partially
interspersed small farms, that combine to supply Cape Town with

The back of the Table Mountain, so called from its top appearing
horizontal for several hundred yards, indeed, for near half a mile, is
rugged, and of a most dismal hue. When the wind blows from the westward,
the clouds come rolling down, perfectly concealing the mountain nearly
to what appears to be its base. In that, however, the spectator is
deceived; for a block-house erected on a part of the hill where the
signal port stands, called the Lion’s Rump, and which is also apparently
near the base, has been ascertained, by measurement, to equal the
highest part of Gibraltar in elevation above the sea. From this, as well
as from its being discernible at full thirty leagues distance, some idea
may be formed of the stupendous height of the Table Mountain.

It appears probable, that but for that regulation which disqualifies
persons who unnecessarily put into harbours deemed at certain periods
unsafe, from recovering their insurances in case of loss, few ships
would resort to False Bay. The distance, the badness of the road to Cape
Town, the difficulty of procuring supplies and stores, with various
other inconveniences, combine to give the preference to Table Bay,
notwithstanding the reputed hazard. At Cape Town abundance of
accommodation, of every description, may be had; whereas, at Seamon’s
Bay, there are not more than two or three houses where persons of
respectability could lodge. In saying this, I exempt the quarters
allotted to the officers, which are very comfortable. After all that can
be urged in favour of Seamon’s Bay, it is by no means a safe harbour; as
the bones of several vessels, deep buried in the sandy beach, at the
most retired part, which is a perfect _cul de sac_, sufficiently
corroborate. There are, besides, sunken rocks near its mouth, on which
several ships have struck: one, called the Anvil, from its flat surface,
caused the loss of the Colebrook, Indiaman, some years ago. Another,
designated the Bellows, from the perpetual roar it occasions, stands
about two miles from the southernmost point of the Cape: it is not so
dangerous as the others; being discernible full ten miles off, owing to
the immense surfs, arising from a strong current towards the westward,
which are perpetually breaking over it.

The Cape, considered as a colony, cannot be said, at present, to be
valuable in any respect, except as an asylum for shipping, homeward or
outward bound. The supplies requisite for the town are derived from the
labors of a few boors, settled at some distance. Hence, provisions are
by no means cheap; nor would they be so, even if the demands of St.
Helena could be answered from any other quarter; since the indolence of
the Dutch agriculturists would, it is to be feared, cause them to limit
their operations in proportion as the consumption might decrease. It is,
doubtless, owing to some such cause, that the greater part of the slaves
are maintained upon a very black, heavy kind of bread, on which the fat
of sheeps’ tails is smeared, as a substitute for butter; and that the
lower classes of the population live in the most wretched manner. This
should seem inexcusable, where thousands of acres of good soil lie
unheeded, within such a moderate distance of the town as could scarcely
fail to repay the ordinary expences of cultivation.

Although neither coal, nor peat, is found at the Cape, and the colony is
dependant entirely on the arborage of the vicinity for fuel, it is very
remarkable that little, or rather no, pains are taken to insure a
supply. If we except a few plantations, made purely for ornament, at the
several garden-houses within six or seven miles of Cape Town, we may in
vain search for any symptoms of foresight in respect to the future
supply of so indispensable an article. I recollect stating this to a
gentleman, who seemed to be, in other respects, well informed of Cape
affairs; but he silenced me with a remark which appeared unanswerable;
taking for granted it was true. He said, ‘We have endeavored, ever since
taking possession of the colony, to induce the Dutch to plant, and to
till, the adjacent lands; but in vain: they prefer a scarcity, or at
least a pretended one, on all occasions; because they think it
distresses us, while, at the same time, they have an excellent plea for
extorting the highest prices. Possessed of his waggon, and team, Mynheer
can always supply his own wants at a certain rate; but if more is
brought than is required for his own use, the surplus is spared to us
for a sum which covers the whole expence: therefore, the dearer the
article, the better for the waggon-master!’

I am free to confess, that where such hauteur, indolence, and extortion
prevail, and that, too, very extensively and actively, against a
protecting power, (for we really do not appear as conquerors in that
quarter,) I should not hesitate to adopt such measures as might fully
meet the exigency. If, in so doing, I should wound the feelings, or
partially injure the rights, of the inhabitants, my argument would be
brief, viz. ‘You created a necessity, and necessity has no law.’ Though,
here and there, something resembling an European vehicle may be seen,
the general instrument of conveyance, whether of families travelling, or
taking the air, is a waggon, usually drawn by eight small, but fiery
horses. One Hottentot commonly holds the reins of the pair next the
wheels, while another, with an immense whip, not less in the whole than
thirty feet long, manages the team with wondrous dexterity. In these
waggons are commonly three benches, slung crosswise, on leather straps;
each bench holding two persons. They are likewise provided with painted
canvas tilts, made to take off at pleasure. The motion of such a waggon,
while going over the rough part between the two capes, is ‘_most

The lumber-waggons are made in the rudest manner, generally with large
truck wheels; some are boarded, or even thatched, above, and absolutely
look like moving houses. Whether owing to the awkwardness of their
construction, or to the badness of the roads, or to that incorrigible
thing called custom, may not be easy to decide; though, possibly, their
joint operation may be reasonably considered the cause; it is certainly
true, that, even with six or eight pairs of rather stout, but
high-boned, oxen, such a waggon rarely travels more than twelve or
fifteen miles within the day. Nor is the plough a whit better managed.
This stupendous machine, which appears calculated to turn up whole
mountains in its progress, rarely gets through more than two roods
daily, though drawn by six oxen, all in a line, and aided by three men;
one of whom holds the plough stilt, (there being but one,) another
drives with the usual enormous whip, and the third guides the leading

The operation of thrashing is commonly performed in the open air, within
an enclosed circle, about twenty yards in diameter, surrounded by a
stone, or mud wall, about four feet high: the floor is made of clay and
lime, rammed very hard. The sheaves being scattered within the circle,
the farmer’s horses are turned in, and driven about by a slave, who,
being provided with a whip, stands in the centre, and chases the cattle
about; while two, or more, of his associates in bondage, stir the
sheaves with forked sticks, in order that every part may be equally
trodden by the galloping steeds. The winnowing is done in the same area;
the horses being sent into another circle, to repeat their labors, while
several men, first removing the straw, sweep the thrashings towards the
windward side, and there toss it up, that the wind, which is commonly
rather forcible, may blow the chaff to the lee side, while the corn
falls nearly centrical; of course, as the latter goes with little
further preparation to the mill, the flour may be supposed to contain no
small portion of grit. The quantity of grain bruised, and left in the
straw, must be considerable.

Few ships remain long enough to allow of passengers proceeding to the
interior; where, however, they would find much to admire. At some of the
farms they may be well accommodated, with the great advantage of finding
their purses far less burthensome on their return! The famous vineyards
of Stellenbosch are well worth seeing, as is the Salt Lake, which
annually dries, leaving a bed of muriate of soda many miles in diameter,
and of unknown depth! Surely, in parts accounted sterile, such a depôt
of manure ought not to be overlooked. The hot baths, situate in a most
romantic valley about forty miles from the Cape, demand the traveller’s
attention. Whether he may proceed on horseback, (as I should recommend,)
or in a waggon, a gun will be useful; both on account of the prodigious
quantity of game, of every description, and as a defence against the
numerous wild beasts which infest all the woody country beyond Hottentot

I have been induced to enter upon the foregoing details regarding the
Cape, from the consideration of its being intimately attached to our
Asiatic possessions; and because so large a portion of those who visit
them, touch there; either in going to, or when returning from, India.
The political importance of a point so advantageously situated, and
having such an expanse of territory annexed, may, perhaps, at some
convenient moment, become a subject for future discussion: in the mean
while, as connected with the Cape, I shall treat of St. Helena.

This island is most singularly situated, being in the 16th degree of
south latitude, and separated from the two continents of Africa and
America by immense seas, in every part unfathomable: from the former it
is about 1200 miles distant; from the latter about 1800. According to an
analytic description, published in 1805, it appears tolerably certain,
that Saint Helena owes its elevation above the sea to some great
convulsion of nature; probably to, an earthquake: for it does not, like
its neighbour Ascension, shew much remains of volcanic matter, neither
does there appear any cavity at all resembling a crater. On the
contrary, the whole island is composed of immense strata of rock,
chiefly basaltic, which, from the variety of directions they assume,
some declining one way, some another, while a few assume nearly a
perpendicular tendency, may be supposed to have been disrupted, and
ejected from the great sub-marine mass, by some tremendous earthquake.
It would be difficult to form the least idea of the period when that
event took place; nor, indeed, can it be altogether certified that this
island was not coœval with the creation; since which it may have
undergone various changes, from volcanic operations within the deep: the
appearance of cinders without lava, and the regular intermixture of
clay, especially of puzolana, with the rock, by such a gradual
intercourse as to leave it undetermined where the one begins, and the
other ceases, may be considered a _lusus naturæ_, and certainly tends to
involve the origin of this now valuable island still more among the
arcana of nature.

Situated in the heart of the trade winds, and covering so small a space,
the whole island giving a girth of less than twenty-eight miles, it is
not to be expected that much rain should fall upon it: such is the
incertitude regarding a supply of water, that for three years in
succession scarce a shower fell! This severe drought proved fatal to a
very large quantity of cattle, which had, during the course of many
preceding seasons, been raised by the industrious efforts of the
inhabitants. Such were the chagrin, and the disappointment, felt on the
occasion, that few have, since that period, turned their attention to
the rearing of live stock in any quantity.

Water would never be wanting, if proper means were taken for its
preservation; as almost every valley has a copious spring, the produce
of which might be retained in tanks lined with the clay every where
abounding. These tanks should be situated as near as possible to the
spring heads; being dug in the form of a cone resting on its base, so as
to leave but little surface for evaporation. By this means they might be
kept in a continual state of overflow, from the upper tank or cone, to
others below the level of its surface, at such distances as should be
judged proper. The source of the spring supplying the stream that flows
through James’s Valley, whence the shipping receive their water, cannot
be less than six hundred feet above the level of the sea; therefore,
admitting that a succession of tanks were to be made at such places as
might be best suited to the retention of water, and to the supply of
cattle, &c. it follows, that any quantity, beyond the actual
consumption, might be upheld for times of scarcity.

It cannot fail to astonish my readers, that no means whatever have been
taken to prevent even the stream above alluded to from being lost, when
they are informed that it is computed, indeed, has been known to supply
no less than two thousand tons in three days; and could have furnished a
much greater quantity, had it been practicable to bring more boats, at
the same moment, near enough to the wharf-cocks, to have the hoses laid
into their respective casks. I have heard, that a computation of the
spring was made, whence it was shewn to be equal to that conduit which
supplies Liverpool. Now, the whole population of St. Helena are supposed
to be rather under, than over, 3000; which, compared with Liverpool, at
once displays the possibility of guarding against drought; though the
lands should be stocked to their utmost with cattle. This, of itself, is
sufficient reason for the adoption of some plan for preventing the
escape of the surplus fluid; which ought to be retained as high up as
possible; but when we consider, that, under such an improvement,
agriculture would thrive in situations now deemed untenable by any
farmer, merely from a want of water, there ought to be no hesitation in
resorting to the proper means for securing a due supply throughout the

We should, at the same time, advert to the regular operations of nature,
which ever conform to the changes produced, either by time or by art.
The naturalist well knows, that in all well wooded islands, however
distant from continents, the dews are remarkably heavy, and encourage
vegetation to its utmost luxuriance: if, then, the soil could again be
covered with arborage, (for, when first discovered, about three hundred
years ago, the very summits of the hills were amply clothed with trees,
of which some were peculiar to the island,) it is obvious, that, even
without the aid of irrigation, an abundance of perpetual pasturage might
be found. In that case, every acre might have its inhabitant; whereas,
at this day, computing the whole area to measure, according to a very
accurate survey, about 30,300 acres, and the population to be 3000; it
should seem evident, that, although there is not more than one
inhabitant to every ten acres, at least four-fifths of their provision
are drawn from other countries.

The author of the ‘Description of St. Helena,’ quotes some anecdotes
which shew the narrow views of those persons who have never quitted the
island. In one instance, ‘a top-mast, or other spar, is reserved as a
great acquisition, to be sold at an immense profit to some vessel in
distress:’ in another, the author states his having been asked, ‘if the
arrival of the India fleet did not make London very gay!’

In these, we certainly recognise the language of insulated ignorance;
but when the author makes a jest of that exclamation of a native, who,
in walking with him over a spot luxuriantly verdant, declared, that ‘if
the whole island were like that part, it would be the richest spot in
the world;’ the joke does not fit. I am well aware of the hyperbole of
such an enthusiastic expression; but, from what appeared at the
Government House, where, under the fostering care of Colonel Brooke, the
late governor, wonderful improvements had been affected, especially in
the culture of exotics; and having witnessed the great perfection to
which vegetables had been raised, on a farm in the occupation of the
late Major Edward Smyth, of the artillery; as well as the plantations
upheld, under most inauspicious circumstances, by the late Deputy
Governor Lieutenant-Colonel Robson: I feel no hesitation in avowing an
opinion, that the now dreary, bleak, uncouth summits of St. Helena,
might become both ornamental and useful; while the lower parts should
teem with corn, wine, and oil.

In a climate where no hurricanes destroy the crops, where the medium
temperature is about 54°, where health and longevity seem to hold their
court, and where there exist the greatest essentials towards culture,
(viz. clay, lime-stone, sand, and manure, in the greatest abundance,) I
really cannot see why this now neglected, and comparatively desolate,
island, should not become a perfect paradise! That health should be a
common blessing among the natives, does not appear wonderful; because
they have not the means of excess, at least not in drinking; for wine,
and spirits, are most exorbitantly dear. I happened to be at Governor
Brooke’s on New Year’s Day, 1800, when intelligence was brought that the
whole of the troops were plunged into the deepest affliction, by the
loss of a cask of rum, served from the stores as the usual basis of
annual festivity: in rolling up towards the barracks, the cask had
burst, and spilled every drop of its precious contents. This, in any
other situation, would not have given a moment’s uneasiness; the
deficiency might have been easily made up: but, at St. Helena, where the
most sparing economy, in regard to all articles of subsistence, is
indispensably necessary, and where no private suttlers could fill up the
blank, it was really a most uncomfortable circumstance!

It cannot be expected, after the above detail, that provision should be
cheap, or abundant: so far the reverse, that persons of all ranks daily
receive their rations from the stores, as indispensable towards their
existence. Hence, sheep, poultry, flour, &c. are rarely procurable, in
any quantity, for the supply of the homeward-bound shipping; which,
being sometimes detained for months, waiting for convoy, occasions their
passengers to be put to considerable expence, without deriving
proportionate comfort; valetudinarians being the only strangers, who, in
such cases, experience the smallest benefit from the detention.

It would be difficult to state the expences incident to residence at any
of those houses where lodgings are let: which includes all, excepting
about half a dozen of the seniors on the island: the rates vary
according to the demand at the moment, or the expectation of early
arrivals. It may be concluded, that cheapness neither is, nor can be,
the characteristic of James Town, when I observe, that, merely for the
use of an apartment, such as nothing but the change of scene would have
induced me to occupy, wherein I occasionally slept on a truck-bed,
whereof the whole apparatus might safely have been sent to the paper
mills, the charge made was twelve shillings daily, or rather nightly;
for I never ate a meal in the house. Let it not be understood that I
speak this in derogation of the people: far otherwise; I experienced all
the civility they had the opportunity of shewing, and I really believe
they regretted their want of means to render my slumbers more

Their exertions might, perhaps, have obtained me a more comfortable
lodging, but there were other matters far beyond their power to remedy:
among these may be noticed the myriads of cock-roaches, (or _blatta
gigantea_,) which at night crawled about the bed; offending not only by
the very unpleasant sensations produced by their claws, but by their
peculiarly nauseous scent. As for rats, of no small breed, nor, indeed,
confined to one species, they made as free, at all hours, as though they
had paid for their lodging, and absolutely seemed to approach with
perfect indifference: their gallopings, not only within the walls, but
over me as I slept, together with some very unceremonious pulls at my
hair, (for I then used powder,) at length compelled me to sleep, when
opportunity offered, on board the vessel, wherein our stock of these
devastators, though not insignificant, was considerably less numerous,
and far more reserved. We had, however, abundance of cock-roaches, about
two inches in length, and an inch broad; but, owing to the pains taken
to catch them by means of saucers filled with oil, of which they are
extremely fond, their numbers were greatly reduced; but we could never
hope for their extirpation, as every crevice afforded them shelter, and
the opportunity of depositing their eggs in safety.

It may be asked why I did not move to some other house? In reply
thereto, it will be only necessary to observe, that I was recommended to
the good folks, or they to me, (I forget which) by a gentleman to whose
urbanity and kindness I was under much obligation: besides, I was daily
in hopes of quitting the island; therefore judged it most expedient to
remain where I was, lest I might, by avoiding Scylla, stumble upon
Charybdis. There are one or two shops in James Town, where goods of
various descriptions are sold. I had occasion to buy a hat, for which I
paid ten dollars, and on my arrival in England found that it could never
have stood the exporter in more than twelve shillings, even under a
salt-water invoice. But it was the best that was for sale, and I was
compelled to the purchase.

Such ships as have touched at the Cape, on their return from India, are
usually well stocked with every species of provision, and even import
their own fuel; according to existing regulations: were they to be
supplied with that article, or indeed with any other, to much extent,
the distress occasioned to the inhabitants would be deplorable. This
deficiency of fuel is occasioned, at present, by the number of wild
goats, every where secreting themselves among the crags; during the
night time they descend to the plantations, and to the fields, cropping
every thing within their reach. Until a war of extermination, as is now
proposed, be carried on against these destructive animals, it will be
useless to attempt planting, at least on such a scale as should prove
beneficial to the inhabitants. It may justly be supposed, that no weak
measures could produce so desirable a result; but it is reasonable to
conclude, that, if a party of soldiers were to be posted daily on those
superior points whence the goats could be seen and alarmed; and if a
number of half-bred greyhounds were to be kept to run them down, much
might be done in the course of a few years; especially if a reward were
given for every goat destroyed, by whatever means.

Yams and potatoes are cultivated in tolerable quantities on various
parts of the island; but the former will not grow except in very choice
situations, such as vallies through which streams flow. In Major Smyth’s
grounds, an immense variety of our esculents were to be seen, growing
luxuriantly: I recollect his pointing out to me a peculiarity regarding
the leek, and the onion, in both which he had been frequently
disappointed, after planting them to stand for seed. As an experiment
which did not promise success, he sowed the little seed vessels which
form the globular head of the stems; and found, that, by so doing, he
could insure a regular, and very rapid succession. He cut off the heads,
and separated the capsules, when they were in their green state, but
rather inclining to maturity.

Having undoubted proof of the readiness with which many plants,
indigenous to the cold, as well as to the hot, regions, may be
naturalized at St. Helena, it must excite some surprise to be informed,
that no public measures have yet been taken to stock the island with a
variety of quick-growing and useful trees; which, being collected on
favorable spots, might serve as the depôt for future supplies. The
various species of palms thrive amazingly, as does the peepul; of which,
for a long time, there was only one in the island, and no person could
tell whence it came!

It seems curious, that peaches should thrive so luxuriantly, and acquire
such an admirable flavor, notwithstanding the dryness of the atmosphere:
formerly, this fruit was in such abundance, that large quantities used
to be given to the hogs. Unhappily, an insect, only to be distinguished
by the aid of glasses, was imported with some slips from the Constantia
vines: these attacked the peach trees, devouring their bark, and
destroying at least nine-tenths of their number. It is said, that every
means have been tried to annihilate these minute plunderers, or to deter
them from their wonted attacks, but without effect. I recollect, that,
about twenty years ago, a premium was given by some association,
(probably the society for the encouragement of arts,) to a person who
discovered a means of ridding trees from this description of clustering
insects. It was very simple; and was effected by boring holes with a
gimlet, obliquely downwards, into the body of the trunk, near the
ground, and filling them with quicksilver; after which the holes were
closed by means of pitch, or plugs of wood. As possibly this has never
been essayed at St. Helena, I give it a place under the hope of its
proving useful: it is, however, said to render evergreens deciduous.

The teak, and poon trees, both of which are of important service in
naval architecture, might certainly be raised to great size in St.
Helena. The burghut, or banian tree, might also thrive; but I should
except against it as requiring too much nourishment, and exhausting the
soil, without being any wise useful as timber. The tamarind tree, though
it supplies a large proportion of fruit, has this objection against it,
that it is peculiarly unfriendly to all others in its vicinity: no grass
will grow under it; and persons who sleep beneath its shelter, or within
its influence, are subjected to fevers: its timber is substantial, being
hard and heavy, but by no means strong, on account of its tendency to
rive, and to start into fissures; especially at those knots whence
boughs have been thrown out. The bamboo may be cultivated to very great
advantage: it grows, throughout India, on the most elevated situations,
and on spots where scarcely a handful of soil is to be found in the
vicinity of its roots. The value of this reed, (for it is nothing more,
though it reaches to the height of seventy feet, and frequently measures
from five to six inches in diameter,) would be incalculable, were it
applied merely to making fences; which, in such a climate, would be very
durable. An invaluable acquisition would be obtained from its more
general culture, especially as it is of very quick growth. But the most
important advantages would certainly attend the formation of vine-yards,
in such parts as might, by their aspect and soil, be best suited to the
purpose. The temperature of the climate is highly favorable, the
thermometer averaging, during the summer season, from 76° to 79° and
80°, and rarely falling below 54°. That great enemy to grapes, rain, is
not much to be dreaded; though it cannot be doubted, that in proportion
as vegetation should be increased by assiduous planting, and by
preserving due supplies of water for the upper levels, more dew and more
rain would fall: however, not to such excess as to ruin the vine-yards.

Coffee has been found to thrive here; but I much doubt whether it would
be an object to cultivate that which is so abundant throughout the West
Indies, and which can be so amply supplied from countries, whence it
comes as a return for our own manufactures.

The great, at least the primary, object should be to add to the
resources of the present inhabitants, and gradually to effect such an
excess of provision, of their own raising, as should allow of liberal
assistance being given to such ships as might touch at the island;
especially to vessels from the South Seas, whither numbers of our
whalers now resort, and to such as might, either intentionally, or
accidentally, miss the Cape. This may certainly be effected, by active
perseverance in a well arranged plan; the difficulties are really few,
and the means, of remedy certainly within our power. After maturely
weighing the _pros_ and _cons_, no doubt remains in my mind, that, in
the course of fifteen or twenty years, St. Helena would not only cease
to be a burthen on the parent state; but that it must be able to afford
a large portion of its produce to the accommodation of all shipping
visiting its roads.

This island cannot boast of a harbour; nor are its Roads so extensive as
to admit a very numerous fleet, owing to the small extent of the bank on
which ships cast anchor; generally in from six to fifteen fathoms. After
the latter depth, the bank falls off so suddenly as to become
unfathomable, within a few hundred yards, rendering it necessary to lay
in, as close as the surf admits, probably about two cable’s length from
the beach. But it is not very easy to get so near in the first instance,
on account of a strong current that sets to the north, and the necessity
for being close hauled to meet the wind which comes down James’s Valley.
It is best to anchor any where about twelve fathoms, and, when the wind
lulls, to warp into a better berth.

There is but one landing place, which lies to the left of a shallow
inflexion, forming a small bay opposite the sea-line; built nearly on a
level with the water, and mounting a very heavy battery, properly
equipped for heating shot, and always kept in readiness for service. Not
that it would be possible for an enemy to surprize the island, unless
the most shameful inattention might prevail in every quarter. All
vessels must approach on the south-east; where there are guards, and
telegraphs, whereby notice is given full four hours before the
northernmost point can be rounded. This, of course, alludes to the day;
but, so clear is the atmosphere in general, that even during the night a
ship would be discerned at many miles distance.

After passing the southernmost points, it is necessary to keep well in
with the shore, which is every where composed of immense masses of rock,
without any inlet, or means of disembarkation; even if the tremendous
surf should not impede. Here the coast is guarded, or rather watched, by
various detachments, stationed at commanding points; where strong
batteries are mounted, and the means of communicating intelligence, in
the most rapid manner, at hand.

The last battery to be passed, previous to casting anchor, is called
Munden’s, and stands immediately between the watering, or landing-place,
and a small bay, in which, it is recorded, that a landing was once
effected during the night: from my own observation, having often gone in
a boat to the edge of the surf at that part to fish, I should think it
by no means easy to get ashore in any manner, much more as an armed body
intending to capture the island. But, whatever may have been effected in
former times, that quarter seems now so well guarded as to leave no
cause for apprehension, of a surprize at least: nor does there appear
the smallest danger of a landing being effected at the watering place;
where a very small party might oppose the boats of a whole fleet. The
swell is here very great, rendering it a matter of some hazard when
jumping into, or out of, a boat; besides, only one boat can come to at a
time, in a position suitable to hostile purposes; and it is not to be
supposed, that the battery above, or that on the landing-place, or the
sea-line, or the works on Ladder Hill, would be silent upon such an
occasion. Certain destruction awaits every person who falls into the
water in this part; where the sharks are as numerous as they are
ravenous. The wall of the wharf is perpendicular, and built on a rock,
under which is a tremendous abyss.

The whole of the northern part is composed of rocks naturally scarped in
a rugged manner, so as rather to hang over, than to retire from the sea;
rising every where from 800 to 2000 feet, and more. Yet, wonderful as it
may seem, with such force does the surf break on this leeward side of
the island, that the spray, or mist, may be seen constantly ascending,
like clouds of smoke, nearly to the summits of the mountains. The
residue of the coast is equally bold, and inaccessible; except at a part
called Sandy Bay, to the southward. There the shore is nearly flat for
some distance, but is interspersed with rocks, and guarded by reefs of
breakers, which project some distance, and totally obviate the means of
attack. If, however, a landing were to be effected, the guns kept in
readiness, in masked batteries on the surrounding heights, would soon
defeat the enemy’s purpose.

On account of the difficulty of approach, the several ships take their
water in regular rotation, unless when a vessel is under despatch; in
which case her boats have the preference. The mode of receiving water is
certainly suited to the situation; but is very tedious. The butts being
carried in the long-boats to the edge of the wharf, are there filled by
means of leathern hoses, of which the ends severally attach to cocks on
the pipes that conduct the water to that part. With the upmost
assiduity, I should suppose that not more than forty or fifty butts
could be supplied to any one long-boat within the course of the day,
notwithstanding the shipping lies so close; but, by a regular succession
of boats, full 1000 butts might be received.

After landing, the way leads under a very high hill on the left, to the
sea gate; within which is a barrier that secures the flank of the
sea-line, and defends the road into the town; it is terminated by a
gate, where the main guard is posted.

The town is small, and by no means irregular; the houses very low,
generally consisting of two and three floors, in all which there are
abundance of windows, glazed with small panes, which, on the whole, are
not very sightly. The valley, in which James Town is situated, is very
narrow, and, in the hot season, extremely sultry. On the right is Ladder
Hill, where a very heavy battery is mounted, both of guns and mortars,
effectually commanding the road, and the valley, for a great distance.
This hill is so steep, that it is ascended only by means of traverses
cut out of its side, and enclosed with a parapet sufficient to prevent
accidents. The soil is, however, so replete with large loose stones, as
to occasion frequent mischiefs to the houses below; of which some have
been greatly damaged by the fall of rubbish from above. I imagine, that
the ascent, by the road, cannot measure less than a mile; and, that the
perpendicular height of Ladder Hill, above the level of the sea, must be
full 600 yards.

Major Rennell states the various eminences to be as follow.


      Cuckold’s Point                                        2672

      Halley’s Mount                                         2467

      Flag Staff                                             2272

      The Barn                                               2015

                        (Over-hanging the sea.)
      The Alarm House (centrically situated)                 l960

      High Knoll (where the Citadel stands, above Ladder     1903

      Longwood House (residence of the Deputy Governor)      1762

This very elevated part, namely, Ladder Hill, is nevertheless commanded
by several small batteries, judiciously situated, which, in their turn,
are subject to the fire of the works at High Knoll, built under the
auspices of Colonel Brooke, and under the immediate direction of Major
Smyth. This little fortification seems to be the _dernier resort_ of the
garrison, of which it might hold about two hundred in the several
bomb-proofs. It has a small arsenal, reservoir, magazine, a well of
immense depth, cut through the rock with great difficulty, and,
exclusive of its outworks, which are peculiarly compact, has a central
block-house, mounting several pieces of heavy ordnance. The site of this
citadel is shewn to be full 1960 feet above the level of the sea: the
highest peak in the island is about 2700; but it is too remote to have
any effect on the citadel.

The force kept up at St. Helena is, nominally, a battalion of infantry,
and four companies of artillery; but I doubt whether, at any time, more
than 700 men could be mustered: that number is barely equal to the
defence of the several outposts, and to manning the sea-line, Ladder
Hill, and the citadel. It is, fortunately, a very healthy spot, and the
hospitals are rarely known to contain more than four men in the hundred.

The surrounding ocean supplies abundance of fish; Mr. Brooke describes
no less than seventy-six kinds, though few are much esteemed. From the
stern of a ship, mackarel, of a small size, together with gar-fish,
plaice, a kind of cod, and a very fine species of gurnet, may be caught.
The best bait for these is a piece of raw albacore. Chance supplied us
with a very excellent stock of craw-fish: under the idea of catching
some small sharks, we made a net of spun-yarn, and slung it to a
butt-hoop. A few bones of salt beef were tied within for a bait. This we
lowered down at night, and occasionally drew up very gently to the
surface, the depth being about ten or eleven fathoms. We caught no
sharks, but frequently found two or three very fine craw-fishes, of that
sort called stumps.

I will now proceed with the regular order of my design, and observe
that, if a ship is not to touch at the Cape outward bound, especially
when that port is in possession of an enemy, or that hostile cruisers
are known to infest the southern coast of Africa, it is not uncommon to
run down to the latitude of 38° or 40°, thereby to avoid those dangers,
and to get beyond the influence of the current, which sets to the
westward at the rate of full three miles per hour. Experience has
proved, that, by taking such a course, the voyage has been quicker than
when the land has been kept in sight. When the Cape is thus avoided, it
will probably be necessary to proceed by the inner passage to the island
of Johanna. This is supposed to be the best route that can be followed,
by such as are bound to Bombay; though the number of shoals, and of
rocks, scattered through the Mozambique Channel, which separates
Madagascar from the Main, subjects it to some disrepute. These are, in a
measure, counterbalanced during war time, by the danger attendant upon
an approach to the island of Mauritius; whence the French have always
fitted out a number of privateers, that have done inconceivable mischief
among our shipping in the Indian Seas.

A few vessels touch at St. Augustine’s Bay, on the west coast of
Madagascar; but the treacherous disposition of the natives is a great
objection, and causes the generality to pass on to Johanna, which is the
only island of the Comora cluster we have been in the habit of visiting.
The strong current setting round its southern extremity, occasions
vessels to keep close to the shore as they approach Saddle Island,
which, at low water, is connected with Johanna by a ridge of sand,
whereon the Huntingdon Indiaman was lost about forty years back, in
attempting to pass, without going round Saddle Island; which derives its
name from the appearance it bears, when viewed at a certain distance.
The whole coast, from the southern point to the bay where the town is
situated, presents, with very little exception, a bold shore, divested
of those dangerous reefs which render Mohillah, and others of its
neighbours, difficult of access. The country is extremely mountainous;
in some parts abounding with cocoa and other trees: wild goats are very
numerous; but, being much in request among the natives, are very shy,
and, in general, retire to the most rugged eminences. To the left of the
town, about two miles distant, a long reef of black rocks encloses a
bay, of which the beach is covered with a fine sand, shelving very
gradually, and bearing a strong resemblance to that of Weymouth.

The houses in the villages on the coast are rather mean, though
appertaining to persons who have ridiculously assumed European titles of
eminence. The island swarms with ‘Prince Ruperts,’ ‘Prince Eugenes,’
Dukes, Marquises, and Lords, all of whom are mean and knavish to an
extreme. The common form of building consists of a long barn-like
apartment, entered by a low door in middle of its length, and having
another opposite thereto at the back, which leads to the most dirty
out-offices that can be imagined; wherein the culinary operations, &c.
are carried on. In the dwellings of those who admit lodgers, which may
be said to include half the town, the places for sleeping, for I cannot
call them bed-places, are raised, towards the two gable-ends, to the
height of full six feet; and, in some, are parted off by a curtain of
coarse chintz, or other cloth. These recesses are from three to five
feet in width, and may be ten or twelve feet long; according to the
breadth of the house. The ascent to them is formed by several very broad
stairs, ordinarily covered with matting made of cocoa-tree leaves, or,
in a few, with carpets. Each step is considered as accommodation for two
persons to repose upon, feet to feet: in most instances, however, the
steps are not long enough to allow more than one person to lie down.
This theatrical arrangement is by no means displeasing, nor is it
attended with so much inconvenience as would be the case were the whole
upon a level. The middle of the room is set apart for meals, usually
served on tables of a wretched construction; the guests sitting, as well
as they can, upon little stools, or eventually reclining on the matted
floor against the lower steps; which, by the by, is not only the most
comfortable, but, among the natives, is considered to be the most
decorous, mode.

The inhabitants of this island, which lies in 12° south, and 45° east,
are chiefly descendants of some Arabs who settled here about two
centuries ago. Its name is, properly, _Hinzuan_, from which we have, by
a series of corruptions, contrived to affix the present designation.
Most of the inhabitants who are not of Arabian descent, are slaves,
purchased for a mere trifle at Madagascar and Mozambique, with which
places some intercourse is preserved; though the Johanna marine seems
but ill suited to crossing even that narrow sea, which separates it from
either Cape Ambro, or the opposite coast of Mozambique. The number of
vessels called war-boats, may amount to about twenty, each capable of
carrying two hundred men. These barks, which are entirely open, are
usually furnished with an immense number of paddles, and oars, which,
aided by a large square-sail, cause them to make good way through the
water. In such a temperate climate, where the wind always blows from the
south-west, and where, with the exception of those hurricanes peculiar,
to the higher latitudes, fair weather prevails during the whole year,
such a naval armament may prove adequate to the ordinary purposes of its

All warfare with any of the neighbouring islands, is supported by
voluntary contributions; each person of consequence taking with him
provisions, and arms, for his respective adherents, or slaves. The
revenues are collected from about two hundred villages; but the three
principal towns are exempted from any contribution beyond the fortieth
part of their moveable property; which all, of whatever degree, pay
annually to the Mufti, or head of their church.

The king resides at the large and populous village of Domoni, where his
whole train of artillery, consisting of a condemned six-pounder, is kept
in great state! The natives are, in some degree, conversant in the use
of small-arms; these, with cutlasses, spears of immense length, and bows
and arrows, (the latter chiefly pointed with fish-bone, or flint,)
compose their stock of military implements. Their coast being generally
so safe, little skill is required to bring a vessel into a safe berth;
but it is usual to take on board a pilot, who is known by the name of
‘Purser Jack.’ This copper-colored knave never fails to put off, so soon
as any vessel is seen on its way from Saddle Island, and to offer his
services, which are supposed to be well requited by a few dollars.

It is worthy of remark, that, on account of the rapidity of the current,
which sets off to sea round the black rocks, and would infallibly
prevent any vessel from reaching an anchorage, all ships pass to the
southern extremity, near Saddle Island, and proceed with a fair wind
along the coast. But it is not safe to carry too much sail while under
the shore; as violent gusts come down between the mountains, in the most
abrupt manner.

The population of Johanna must be rather considerable: perhaps it were
not too much to estimate it at ninety, or a hundred, thousands;
including all ranks and ages: the towns are large and extremely
populous. The Mahomedan religion prevails, though but very few sacred
edifices, worthy of notice, are to be found on the island; the principal
one, which does not seem to have cost any great sum, being a mosque,
built by Halimah, a queen from whom the present king is descended,
situated near the landing place, in the town of Matsamudo. Nevertheless
the priests are sufficiently numerous; and, as in most countries, enjoy
an excellent share of the earth’s produce.

The areca-nut, which grows wild all over the island, but especially on
its borders, is here chewed with shell-lime, as practised throughout the
East: wild pine-apples, plantains, and the greatest variety of tropical
fruits, are scattered over mountains exhibiting a verdure of peculiar
richness, and presenting, on the aggregate, one of the richest scenes
imaginable. Not a horse is to be seen on the island; but plenty of
excellent cattle thrive uncommonly on the rich pastures of the vallies;
through most of which streams of the purest water, every where broken by
rocks, or gliding over shallow beds of gravelly sand, pursue their eager
course. It is rather peculiar, that, among other poultry, the Guinea
fowl should abound; thousands may be seen in a wild state, if it may be
so termed, when, by throwing a handful of grain at your feet, all will
instantly approach to participate of the bounty.

Musquitoes are here exceedingly troublesome, and attack the plethoric
mariner with avidity. It is said, that no snakes, or other venomous
reptiles, are to be found at Johanna; but, in exchange for that
blessing, they are plentifully supplied with bugs. The only vehicle
known in the island consists of a machine, termed a palanquin; but which
is, in fact, nothing but a litter made of clumsy net-work on a rough
frame, and borne by four men, who each take an end of the two side-poles
of bamboo on their shoulder. This splendid piece of ingenuity is
appropriated solely to the conveyance of his majesty, and of such
nobles, and European, or Arabian visitors, as may obtain permission to
visit him at Domoni.

Angling is little understood at Johanna, yet large quantities of good
fish are occasionally to be had. These are either taken by night lines,
or are speared by persons standing at the heads of canoes, who, with
wondrous dexterity, strike such fishes as approach the surface. This
practice, common throughout uncivilized countries, is in great
perfection among the Nicobar Islands.

I make no doubt, that, if proper means were used, an excellent supply of
stumps might be obtained. What I have said on this subject, when
describing St. Helena, would, most probably, be found equally
efficacious in many other insulated situations, under warm parallels. On
the shoals which lie within the channel of Mozambique, immense numbers
of cowries, called by us ‘_Blackamoors’ teeth_,’ are dredged up: these
being current as money in most parts of India, are exchanged, together
with live oxen, for arms and ammunition, hatchets, knives, nails, &c.

The oriental practice of dying the hands and feet red, by means of the
_hinna_, which here glows wild in the utmost luxuriance, prevails
throughout the island; especially among the females, who color their
lips and gums black, with a peculiar preparation, similar to the _missy_
of Hindustan, in order to make their teeth _appear to advantage!_
Although the men are extremely jealous, the women of the lower class are
allowed to walk the streets, provided they wear veils. We must not by
that word suppose that any particular part of their dress is so termed,
or separately made for that purpose: the only mode of concealing the
face consists in drawing the cloth, or sheet, which is thrown over the
head, so as to cause its meeting forward, leaving a very narrow opening
to enable the wearer to see her way.

With respect to the mercantile operations of the Johanna people, I
cannot afford a clearer idea than attends the description given by Alwi,
a man of some consequence on the island, to Sir William Jones, who has
recorded it in the following words. He said, ‘His country was poor, and
produced few articles of trade; but if they could get money, they might
easily procure foreign commodities, and exchange them advantageously
with their neighbours in the islands, and on the continent. Thus, with a
little money,’ said he, ‘we purchase muskets, powder, ball, cutlasses,
knives, cloths, raw cotton, and other articles brought from Bombay; and
with these we trade to Madagascar for the natural produce of that
country, or for dollars, with which the French buy cattle, honey,
butter, and so forth, in that island. With gold, which we receive from
your ships, we can procure elephants’ teeth from the natives of
Mozambique; who barter them also for bars of iron, and ammunition; while
the Portuguese in that country give us various kinds of cloths, in
exchange for our commodities. These cloths we dispose of lucratively in
the three neighbouring islands; whence we bring rice, cattle, a kind of
bread-fruit, which grows in Comora, and slaves; which we buy also at
other places where we trade: all this traffic we carry on in our own

The foregoing should evince, that, under an effective government, for
the present may be deemed a mere toleration of royalty, the island of
Johanna might become important among its neighbours; and, so long as
European vessels should continue to touch there for refreshments, might,
carry on a brisk trade. Yet the total want of any thing like a harbour,
must inevitably prove a great drawback on its prosperity. While there,
our ship was driven by a sudden squall, issuing from between two immense
mountains, from her anchorage, though she had two anchors out, and rode
within a short half mile of the beach; and this, too, in remarkably
clear weather.

The mode of killing whales in the Mozambique Channel, and by the
Africans all along their south-east coast, is extremely simple; it shews
how much may be effected by perseverance; and affords, indeed, an
admirable moral, together with no insignificant satire upon the great
expence to which Europeans, engaged in that pursuit, put themselves,
without becoming more certain of success.

When a whale is seen within a moderate distance of the shore, basking,
as they often do for hours together, with little intermission, during
the heat of the day, the fishermen put off in their canoes, which are
excavated from large trees, and equipped with out-riggers on each side.
Generally, each canoe carries from four to six persons; but those which
are intended to approach the whale, give over their crew, with the
exception of one spearsman, and one paddler, to the other canoes.

The paddler urges his canoe very gently, until within about eight or ten
yards of the whale; sidling up with extreme caution so as to be parallel
with its shoulders; this is done to avoid that lash of the tail which
the fish invariably gives, as he plunges downwards, on feeling the spear
enter his flesh. The weapons used on this occasion are about five feet
long, extremely elastic, and loaded at each end with iron or lead;
whereby not only the impetus is encreased, but the vibration, occasioned
by the opposite weights, causes the point, which is of iron, very acute
and barbed, to wriggle deeper into the flesh. Previous to striking, the
head of the canoe is turned towards the whale, and a slight retrocessive
motion is given; so that, at the very moment when the spear is
delivered, the paddler may, by a sudden exertion, pull further away, and
avoid the danger. It sometimes happens, that the spearsman is thrown
from his station into the water, by the sudden motion of the boat
opposed to his own action; being invariably expert swimmers, such an
accident is not in the least regarded. After sinking to a great depth,
the whale rises again to the surface, perhaps a mile off, where other
boats are waiting to repeat the attack; by a succession of which he is,
ordinarily in the space of an hour, so completely worn out, as to float
without the power of resistance, when a long spear, pushed through
between his ribs, speedily terminates the struggle.

The whale being dead, all the canoes join their efforts to tow the
carcase towards the shore; where, upon some sandy part, a division is
made of the spoil; each of the crews cutting away with hatchets and
cutlasses, as much of the blubber as they can expend. The residue is
sold, or exchanged for other articles of consumption, dress, &c. to the
inhabitants of the neighbouring towns: the whale-bone is reserved for
sale to European traders; the ribs serve for the couples of houses, or
rather cabins; and the joints of the vertebræ, after being neatly
trimmed at the sides, and at one end, make very comfortable stools; of
which, however, the strong, rank scent, retained for many months, would
prove highly offensive to any but persons who consider the blubber,
after the oil has been fried, and pressed out, to be a delicate morceau!

The operation of cutting away the adipose parts; which come off in
immense lumps, of from eight inches to a foot, or fifteen inches in
depth, is rather laborious; it is likewise attended with the danger of
attacks from an immense number of sharks, that instinctively follow the
carcase; and, so soon as it is hewn open, seize whatever falls from it
with the most ferocious avidity. Hence, the fishermen are obliged to be
extremely careful not to expose their limbs, by allowing them to dangle
in the water: such of the crews as fall overboard, are usually snapped
up by their greedy competitors; which, it is said, are known in these
parts to grow to the enormous length of thirty feet!

It has often occurred to me, that, in lieu of casting loose the remains
of whales, after cutting away the blubber, as our fishermen usually do,
an immense quantity of ammonia might be extracted, were the skeletons to
be towed to the shore, and there to be applied to that purpose. Fuel is
rarely wanting, and there being invariably sufficient crews on board our
whale-ships, which cannot be always employed, it should seem that much
advantage might thus arise, with little or no expence: the price of
ammonia is very high, but if it could be lowered, immense quantities
would be consumed. It is to be remarked, that this valuable alkali has
not hitherto been put under that course of experiments to which it
certainly would be subjected, did the price not stand in the way of its
use on a large scale: the following qualities, as stated in the
invaluable Dispensary given to the public by Dr. Andrew Duncan, may
plead in apology for my digressing so far on a subject, not apparently
connected with my prospectus; but which, considered philosophically, is,
by no means, irrelevant thereto.

Dr. Duncan states, that, ‘_ammonia_ does not dissolve animal substances;
it extinguishes flame; colors vegetable-blues green; is decomposed by
being transmitted through a red hot tube, and, by the electric spark,
into its constituent gases, and by oxygen, and atmosphoric air at a red
heat; by oxy-muriatic acid, it is converted into water and hydrogen-gas.
It is absorbed, without change, by porous bodies; it dissolves sulphur
and phosphorus; and combines readily with water, in all its states.
_Ammonia_ combines with the acids, forming neutral salts. It is formed
during the putrefactive fermentation; and is commonly classed among the
alkalies.’ My readers will see, at once, how wide a field is open for

After quitting Johanna, which is the only island, in that cluster,
whither European vessels ever intentionally resort, such as may be bound
to Bombay usually make the great peninsula somewhere about Anjengo,
pursuing their course up the western, or Malabar side; while those
proceeding to Coast and Bay, (_i.e._ Madras and Bengal,) endeavor to get
a sight of Dondra-Head, which determines both their latitude, and their
longitude; thence they pass round the eastern side of the island of
Ceylon, of which the shore is sufficiently bold to allow their keeping
within two or three miles of the land with perfect safety, in regard to
reefs or shoals; but this quarter being extremely subject to violent
gales, that come on rather suddenly, or, at least, without much notice,
and are known by the name of ‘white squalls,’ it is generally considered
most prudent to keep a good offing. These white squalls invariably take
place when the sky is free from clouds; but may sometimes be
distinguished, as they approach, by the white spray raised from the
water by the violence of the wind: so soon as that is discovered, all
the small sails should be taken in, and the ship rendered as compact
above as time may admit. The warning spray is too frequently unnoticed;
and, even when perceived, is, for the most part, too close at hand to
admit of much preparation. This insidious danger extends, more or less,
from the south end of Madagascar up to the latitude of Tranquebar, being
most prevalent to the southward of the Line, where the south-west trade
wind prevails at all times.

The island of Ceylon has been adopted as a royal possession, in the
government of which the Company have no share whatever. The whole of the
civil establishment are appointed by the king; and the military receive
their commissions from the secretary at war, independent of the
Company’s chartered establishment. It generally happens, however, that
some of the Madras battalions are on duty in the island; which has
always been in a most perturbed state, especially since it came under
our dominion. It is rather unusual for the Company’s ships to touch
here, except when sent to Columbo with stores, or calling there on their
way home for cargoes and passengers. None but very small vessels can
pass between Ceylon and the Main, notwithstanding the great width of the
channel, on account of that immense reef, intermixed with shoals,
stretching across its northern part. This reef, called ‘Adam’s Bridge,’
is supposed to be formed by the summits of mountains, that, by some
dreadful convulsion, were sunk below those waters, between which they
originally formed a stupendous isthmus, like that of Darien, connecting
Ceylon with the continent.

Notwithstanding what has been said by many authors on the subject of
‘spicy gales,’ the expectation of meeting with perfumed breezes in this
quarter should not be too much encouraged. After coasting the whole
length, from Dondra-Head to Point Pedro, not one puff, conveying the
idea of proximate ambrosia, ever reached my nose. It must, at the same
time, be understood, that a certain terraceous scent, something like
that resulting from rain in dusty weather, generally prevails within a
certain distance of a windward shore; particularly where the country is
well wooded.

After passing to the northward of Ceylon, the navigation becomes more
difficult; there being immense shoals stretching, in various directions,
all the way from Tranquebar up to the mouths of the Ganges. It is
generally opposite some short interval between these dangerous shallows,
that our principal settlements are situated. Thus, Tranquebar,
Pondicherry, Cuddalore, Negapatam, and some others, to the southward of
Madras, enjoy a partial benefit in that instance; but, to the northward,
our principal sea-ports are under very considerable disadvantages,
arising from the great distance at which all vessels, with the exception
of very small coasters, are obliged to lay out in an open road, subject
to the fury of storms, and to the depredations of privateers, which
seldom fail to take advantage of these localities, whenever the season
may allow them to visit our shores.

The shallows may easily be distinguished at a considerable distance:
being composed of light, shifting sand, and acted upon by a strong
current, the water above them appears discolored; assuming a dun, or
yellow hue, sufficiently contrasted with the deeper parts, to enable the
eye at once to trace their respective limits.

Madras Roads being exempt from shoals, for some miles on either side,
are entered without a pilot; ships in general anchoring off the fort, in
from six to ten fathoms; the bottom a firm sand. The surf is here, at
all times, rather high; but when a south-west, or westerly wind,
prevails, becomes so tremendous as to debar all communication with the
shipping. From the beginning of October to the middle of January, the
flag-staff is struck, as a signal to vessels that no insurance is
payable on account of such losses as may happen during that period,
which is held to be replete with danger. So great is the apprehension
entertained of the perils attendant upon a continuance on the Coromandel
coast during that monsoon, that even our ships of war retire from the
protection of such trade as may be carried on by adventurous
individuals, and seek an asylum in some well-sheltered port, such as

Before we obtained possession of that admirable harbour, our fleets were
under the necessity of going round annually to Bombay; there they
employed their crews in putting the respective ships into complete
order, against the ensuing season; whatever vessels required substantial
repairs, being taken into dock. In the mean while, the enemy’s fleet
went to the Mauritius, which could be easily reached at any season; and
whence they could return full a month before our’s could get back from
the Malabar coast. The serious losses occasioned, both to the Company,
and to private traders, by such management, (which then appeared to be
inevitable, though not so in reality, since Bengal could have received
and repaired them,) rendered it a desideratum to obtain some port, not
far removed from our principal settlements. The fortune of war once put
us in possession of Trincomalee; but, somehow or other, it was re-taken:
as we have now command over the whole of Ceylon, it is to be hoped we
shall have the wit to keep it.

The construction of keeled boats being, in many respects, unsuitable to
intercourse between the shipping and the shore, recourse is always had
to the common country boats, called ‘masoolahs;’ which, however rude
their formation may appear, are perfectly adequate to every purpose, and
convey both goods and passengers with general safety.

These masoolah-boats may carry from forty to sixty tons; they are made
of plank, about two inches in thickness above, and three below, fastened
together by means of coir; that is, the fibres of cocoa-nut rinds,
passed through small holes pierced along the edges of the several
planks, all around each: these planks appear as though sewed together
with twine of the above description, and are fastened to battens and
sleepers, answering for ribs and floor timbers. At the bottom, planks
are laid in the opposite direction of these, which form the vessel, and
near the gun-whales, several thwarts are secured across; they passing
through the sides, and being firmly pinned in. There is no deck, and the
rudder consists of a large kind of oar, rigged out at the stern.

At a little distance, the masoolah-boats look like rude imitations of
our coal-barges: they row from ten to sixteen oars, and when unladen
make more speed than persons accustomed to wherries, or to ships’
pinnaces, would expect; getting through the surf, both coming and going,
with amazing facility: though sometimes, owing to letting them swing
round, instead of steering head-on, they fill, or overset: but this very
rarely happens; and the mere act of ‘swamping’, unless in the first, or
outward surf, is not attended with any imminent danger; the next wave
generally impelling the boat, and all that it contains, high (but not
_dry_,) upon the beach, where it is soon run up out of the water’s way.

In order to encourage the boatmen to exert themselves towards saving any
Europeans who may be in danger, owing to a masoolah-boat’s upsetting in
the surf, the Company allow premiums, generally medals, to such as may
prove their title thereto. Several of the Company’s servants, and
others, owe their lives to the activity of these people, a few of whom
have been enabled to retire upon a very comfortable subsistence allowed
to them by those gentlemen they had rescued. It is much to be lamented,
that the Company have never been able to adopt the only efficient means
of breaking the surf for a few hundreds of yards; namely, by conical
caissons, forming an angle in front of the landing place. Nature has
done this for the Portugueze at Pernambuco, forming a bar of coral, at
the end of which is a battery: the sea at all times breaks with
tremendous violence upon the Bar, and sometimes, though very rarely,
dashes over the guns. The supposed objection will be, that, owing to the
great expanse of the coast of Coromandel, nothing could be made to
resist the force of the water. But, in answer to this, I must observe,
that Pernambuco is much more exposed than Madras, it being subject to
the force of the trade winds, blowing all the year round from the
south-west, across that immense, uninterrupted ocean lying between the
two continents of Africa and America, while a very strong current at the
same time sweeps round, and causes the surf to rise with full as much
violence as in any part of the East. At Pernambuco, vessels lie within
the bar, where the water is perfectly still, and deep enough for those
of four hundred tons to ride clear of the sandy bottom. At Madras, we
could scarcely expect to see so extensive a desideratum obtained, as
should afford shelter to the numerous ships of great burthen which
frequent its Roads; the expence would be enormous; otherwise, we should
be as well able to form such a barrier there, as the French were at
Cherburg. It may be said, that the inconvenience attached to the works
at the latter place, namely, a vast accumulation of sand, would follow:
that would by no means be likely to take place in so very strong a tide,
with deep water at hand; and if it should, might perhaps rather tend to
facilitate the measure, and to augment the strength of the defences.

It is indispensably necessary, when going ashore at Madras, or in any
part where the surf runs high, to be well covered with a boat-cloak, or
some ample exterior clothing; for, even under the best management, and
during the most favorable weather, the spray will rise around the boat,
completely wetting whatever finery may be exposed to its action. Nor
must it be considered any way extraordinary, if a large portion of that
surf which propels the boat, should pour over her stern or quarters, so
as to drench the whole party!

The masoolah-boats are, with great propriety, under the sole management
of the master-attendant, or the beach-master. None can put off without
licence; and no person can be admitted to serve on board who is not an
expert and bold swimmer. I believe, that instances of individuals of any
description being lost are extremely rare: such as are enumerated, took
place chiefly at the outer surf, (there being usually three following
waves to pass, or to accompany,) where the water is very deep, and where
immense numbers of ground-sharks are ever on the watch for what accident
may throw in their way. It may readily be supposed the shore is
tolerably bold, when it is explained, that our Indiamen, deeply laden,
have been several times necessitated to warp to the very edge of the
outer surf, in consequence of an enemy’s fleet having entered the Roads,
with the view to cut them out.

So soon as a vessel is seen standing into the Roads, signals are
hoisted, which it is expected she should, if a man of war, or a
Company’s ship, be able to answer. On her approach to the anchorage, a
boat puts off, with a deputation from the beach-master, to enquire
whence she comes, as well as to take the purser, &c. ashore with the
despatches. In this first boat, a number of debashes are sure to arrive,
bringing with them various articles of provision, fruits, &c. as
presents to the captain and officers; whose favor each of them courts,
under the hope of being employed as the agent for the ship, or for the
supply of necessaries, and for providing lodgings for individuals.

These debashes are generally men of property, and of some consequence
among the natives, owing to their having at times so many purchases to
make for those who arrive at Madras; but especially where the supplies
necessary for a whole ship, or sometimes for a whole fleet, are in
question. They all speak broken English, understanding far beyond what
they can express in our language; they are servile to an extreme, and
most completely trained in every money-making device.

The provision brought on board usually consists of half-starved mutton,
buffalo-beef, which might safely be classed with carrion, some tolerable
fowls, with, eventually, a few ducks and geese, yams, biringals,
capsicums, and other vegetable productions. Fish abound in the Roads,
yet are rather scarce, and are very rarely brought on board: this is in
a measure owing to the greater number of fishermen being private
servants, who are obliged to supply their masters first. It is said,
that the water-serpents, which abound in the Roads, and may be seen, in
beautiful varieties, to rise, at all hours to the surface, destroy great
quantities of the smaller kinds: this I can easily suppose to be true;
but, having occasionally seen the catamarans returning from the offing,
with immense loads of the best sorts, it would be difficult to convince
me, that the scarcity of fish in the market, and on board the ships in
the Roads, does not proceed from either the want of industry, or of

Few people, taking all things into consideration, are more hospitable
than the Europeans residing at Madras: where deficiency in that respect
is supposed to exist, we may, by due consideration of peculiar
circumstances, relating to the person, or to the place, always find some
sufficient apology. Being so much frequented, and the number of European
gentlemen resident on the spot being comparatively trifling, it cannot
be expected they should keep open house, or indulge their friendly
dispositions in the exercise of unlimited kindness. In fact, the
expectations of those who visit Madras, on their way from Europe to
India, are, for the chief part, rather too sanguine: they have heard
much of Indian hospitality, and wonder at that disappointment which is
purely the offspring of their own unreasonable anticipations. I know not
of any situation where a letter of introduction is of more avail, or
indeed more necessary, than this: but such letter should be addressed to
some person resident at Madras; else it may be perfectly nugatory, in
consequence of the immense expanse over which the civil servants, as
well as the military, are scattered. A young gentleman taking out a
dozen letters, may, on his arrival, find them entirely useless, in
consequence of the parties being absent from the presidency.

The passengers of every class are expected to reside on shore during the
ship’s detention in the Roads. Few, indeed, neglect to avail themselves
of the opportunity offered of seeing one of our principal fortresses,
and of observing the customs of a country so celebrated in history, and
forming so essential a branch of the British Empire. If an introduction
is obtained, by any means, the usual result will be an invitation to
reside with the gentleman if he keeps house; otherwise, every attention
will be paid in seeing the stranger accommodated, at the best house of
that description which admits boarders; and which are commonly called
‘Punch-Houses.’ This designation doubtless arose from the habits of
those who first settled in India, and who, finding spirits, sugar, and
limes, (a small species of lemon,) every where abundant, indulged in
copious draughts of punch. That beverage is now completely obsolete,
unless among sea-faring persons, who rarely fail to experience its
deleterious effects. In all sea-ports, taverns, or punch-houses, are
more frequented than in places where shipping lie in some distant road,
or harbour. This occasions them to be more respectable in the opinions
of those who keep them, but nothing could reconcile a gentleman, long
resident in the country, to seek an accommodation among them: it would
imply a total want of respectable connexions: and, in itself, appear
sufficient cause for avoiding his acquaintance: so different are the
customs of different places!

Totally ignorant of the language, and without any guide, it is not to be
wondered that so many impositions are practised on our countrymen on
their arrival in India. A debash of the lowest order, and of the most
crafty disposition, perfectly experienced in all the ordinary
requisitions of Europeans, and prompt to gratify their desires so long
as profit attends the speculation, is ever at the elbow of the novice,
serving as banker, purveyor, pimp, and interpreter. What more can be
requisite to ruin an helpless, inconsiderate youth?

Most of the gentlemen in the Company’s service reside in the fort, or at
houses a few miles off, in the country, or at St. Thomas’s Mount, about
six miles from Madras, where the Artillery are usually quartered,
together with the troops destined to defend the works in case of attack.
The incursions to which the Carnatic was formerly exposed, during the
times of Hyder, and of Tippoo, rendered it expedient to fortify the
Black-Town; which is very extensive, and contains the houses of many
highly respectable European merchants, chiefly British and Portugueze,
together with the entire property of the richer natives of rank and
consequence. I cannot say the Black-Town is an enviable site for
residence; but the situation, being subject to the land and sea breezes,
the latter of which are as refreshing as the former are debilitating,
reconcile the older inhabitants to many inconveniences, among which,
smoke is by no means the least obnoxious. The musquitoes are here
tolerably numerous, as are also rats of all sizes, cock-roaches, and
scorpions: the latter grow to an immense size, and are peculiarly
venomous. That most loathsome companion, the bug, is to be found here in
such swarms, that it is by no means uncommon to see them crawling about
at all hours, and in all places.

St. Thomas’s Mount is certainly the more pleasant station and may be
fairly put in competition with any of those rural retreats, called
‘Garden-Houses,’ scattered every where in the vicinity of the capital:
at these, many families reside all the year round; the gentlemen who
have offices to attend, being conveyed thereto in the mornings, either
in palanquins, or in their carriages; the climate by no means favoring
much exercise on horse-back.

Except at that season when the flag-staff is struck, Madras Roads are,
in general, much resorted to by shipping. Being the seat of government
on the Coromandel coast, it necessarily has become the emporium of that
side of the peninsula. Most of the China ships touch there, and very few
of those proceeding to Bengal omit to call; especially when war either
prevails, or is expected to break out. It is much to be lamented, that
no means have yet been devised, nor, indeed, appear easily practicable,
of rendering the Roads safe against the attack of an enemy. The fort
certainly could repel any attempt to land within the reach of its
cannon; but there does not appear any possibility of preventing an
enterprising enemy from causing all the shipping, either to surrender,
or to run ashore. Perhaps hulks might be so stationed, as to become very
efficient in the defence of whatever shipping might remain beyond the
surfs. One or two old 64 gun ships properly prepared against boarding,
might, at all times, suffice, if moored with chains in proper
situations, under cover of the batteries.

It being indispensable that every person should be conversant with the
several coins, or currency, in which payments are made, or accounts
kept, I recommend to my readers to make themselves acquainted with the
tables of coins, weights, and measures, in use at Madras: observing,
that, throughout the dependant provinces, an endless variety in the two
last are to be found; and that, consequently, all dealings must be
regulated in proportion to the encreased, or diminished, variations,
wherever situated. The ‘EAST INDIA DIRECTORY’ will be found to contain
whatever may relate to this subject, including the three presidencies.

Conceiving, that, with few exceptions, the customs of many classes among
the natives of Bengal, assimilate greatly with those of the population
on the coast, I shall now pass on to the ordinary occurrences attendant
upon the arrival of a ship off the Sand-Heads, in the Bay of Balasore.
It has been already stated, that the voyage from Madras to Bengal will
depend, in regard to duration, entirely upon the season. If the
southerly monsoon prevails, Point Palmiras, which is at the southern
boundary of Balasore Roads, may be made in from three to seven days:
during the northerly monsoon, it is usual, experience having confirmed
what accident probably first suggested, to stretch over to the opposite
side of the bay upon a wind, and then to run obliquely across on the
other tack, so as to arrive in soundings of the mouth of the Hooghly,
where the tides will speedily convey a vessel up to any place on the
river, notwithstanding the wind’s direction. During the passage, under
the former prevalence, the land is not, in general, seen until the water
becomes obviously discolored with sand. In the first instance, the
course is made directly from Madras Roads, to gain a good offing,
whereby the dangerous shoals of Pulicat, about five miles north of
Madras, may be avoided: the land all along the coast being invariably
low, and the shallows projecting, in some places, full ten miles
seaward, it is prudent to keep rather towards the middle of the bay,
and, from a N.N.E. course, to change latterly to a N.N.W; rounding in,
when the latitude directs, until Point Palmiras may be from four to six
leagues distant.

It is of infinite importance to be correct in making that point, which
is best regulated by a perfect knowledge of the latitude, there being a
promontory very similar thereto, thence designated ‘False Point’; by
mistaking which many vessels have been lost. When in sight of Point
Palmiras, it is usual to await the arrival of some pilot-vessel, of
which one or more are always on the look-out below the Sand-Heads, and
to proceed into the river under her guidance. The capture of several of
those vessels having occurred within these few years, in consequence of
French privateers anchoring, as though in want of pilots, thus taking
advantage, in the most infamous and unprincipled manner, of an
institution, that ought ever to be held sacred, has given occasion for
many precautions, which must inevitably be attended with inconvenience,
and even danger, on particular occasions. In lieu of proceeding boldly
towards vessels anchored at the usual _ne plus ultra_, the pilots now
draw off towards the channels, allowing the ships to follow at some
distance, and refraining from sending a boat on board, until, by their
knowledge of the soundings, the schooners may be placed out of danger.
If all should prove right, which is soon ascertained by the signals made
by the mate sent on board the ship to be piloted, the schooners may then
proceed with confidence; but if any suspicion should remain, an alarm
would instantly be given; and, if possible, the enemy be decoyed among
those dreadful shoals, where, being once entangled, he must fall an easy
prey to such force as might be sent against him.

There are various channels by which a ship may proceed to the harbour of
Kedgeree, situated many miles up the river, but those most frequented,
especially by such as import, are the middle, and left channels, which
have, however, barely three fathoms and a half at low water;
consequently, ships of burthen are commonly brought to anchor, in such
positions as may allow their taking advantage of the best part of the
tide for passing the shallows: nevertheless, the sand is ploughed up, by
the action of a ship’s passage over them, in such manner as would lead
one, at first sight, to conclude she were touching the ground, when
perhaps her keel is many feet above it. During daylight, the
pilot-schooner makes few signals, but, after night-fall, on every heave
of the lead, she communicates, by means of _maroons_, (which are
flambeaux of an immense size, alternately exhibited and concealed in a
large tub,) the exact soundings in which she is proceeding. No greater
care can possibly be taken, than in the Company’s pilot-service, to
conduct ships in safety: exclusive of character, there is much at stake;
for no pilot who loses one of the Company’s ships, is retained on the
list: he is, _ipso facto_, dismissed. This regulation, which, no doubt,
may, in a few cases, press hard on very meritorious individuals, must be
considered one of the most important props of the institution, among
persons who may have habitually indulged in the use of spirituous
liquors to a dangerous excess. I knew some of the pilots who were
perfectly sensible of their failings, and could not be induced, either
by temptation, or entreaty, to taste of any beverage stronger than water
or country-beer, until they had seen their charges moored in safety.
That being done—good bye to forbearance!

It is not a little wonderful, that men who have the power to overrule a
dangerous propensity, merely when their professional characters are at
stake, should at every other moment throw aside that curb, which, if
duly maintained, would preserve their health, and render them far more
acceptable members of society!

The country all along the sea-coast, on both sides of the river’s mouth,
being extremely low, and there being no hills of sufficient altitude to
be distinguished at sea, especially on the right bank, very little
gratification is offered to the eye by the surrounding scenery. The
shelving beach, on either hand, is overgrown, in most parts, with trees
rarely exceeding twenty feet in height, whose stems are surrounded with
under-wood, or grass jungle, in which abundance of deer are to be found.
The pursuit of sport must, however, be invariably desisted from, on
account of the immense numbers of tigers which occupy the same covers.
It rarely happens that a party land for the purpose of shooting deer, or
wild hogs, (which are equally abundant,) without meeting with some
accident; or, at least, being frightened so as to produce the most
salutary forbearance. About twenty-five years ago, a son of the late Sir
Hector Monro was carried off by a tiger from among his comrades, who had
seated themselves round a large fire, made to obviate the apprehended
danger, while they awaited the arrival of a boat that was to convey them
back to their ship.

All the way, from Balasore up to Kedgeree, the prospect, if we except
those agreeable sensations arising from the display of vegetation, and
from arriving at the ultimate thule of destination, rather wearies than
pleases: nothing is to be seen but a series of wilderness, perhaps here
and there enclosing a few huts, or, in the broken intervals, displaying
some insignificant village, of which the inhabitants are as poor as they
are idle. No public edifice; no gay villas; no busy hum of men; no
crowded wharfs! In fact, I scarcely know a spot more dreary than the
debouché of the Hooghly, for at least thirty miles; or until arrival at
Diamond Harbour.

It is usual for the pilot-schooner to return to the Roads, in search of
other importations, unless her tour may be over; in which instance, she
proceeds up to Calcutta; leaving a person on board, lest the vessel
should drag her anchors, and to prevent her getting into foul ground.
The purser, for the most part, avails himself of the attendance of the
_chokey-boats_, which are always plying about the mouth of the rivers
for the express purpose of receiving packets. In favorable seasons,
these boats have been known to reach Calcutta, distant full sixty miles,
in one tide. If a schooner should be proceeding up the river, there
should be no hesitation in embarking in her: no equal accommodation can,
in general, be had: the whole risk, trouble, and delay, attendant upon
making a passage in any of the common country boats, are at once
annihilated. The pilot may possibly expect some return for his good
offices; but, if he likes his company, will, in all probability, set
them ashore at Calcutta free of all expence.

I should not envy the purser his trip in a chokey-boat, with no other
than a very small semi-circular covering of mats, under which it is
impossible to sit upright, except exactly under its centre. In
tempestuous seasons, and such are generally the periods in which the
Indiamen arrive, there is often a high swell between Kedgeree and Fulta,
the river being in some parts from three to six miles across, and
running to the southward, from which quarter the wind blows very
forcibly for five months at least. Therefore, although so very few
accidents happen, it cannot be considered as a safe voyage between the
ship and the capital. The chokey-boats are all under the
master-attendant, and bear the Company’s colors, on a small staff, or,
at times, at the head of the mast, made of a single bamboo, nearly as
long as the boat; which ordinarily rows ten or twelve oars. Being of a
light construction, and divested of all superfluous apparatus, the
chokey-boats proceed at a prodigious rate; and, on emergency, even when
opposed by the tide, can gain from two to six miles hourly; according as
they may be able to row along the slack water; to pole up against the
more rapid streams; or to track up, when both wind and tide are strongly

When relatives, or particular friends, are on board any ship whose
arrival is expected, it is customary to send a stout pinnace-budgrow to
meet her at Kedgeree, there to receive the persons for whose
accommodation it was provided. When this act of kindness takes place,
all the necessary provision, a bed, table, chairs, &c. are put on board,
together with a proper number of servants of such description as are
generally needful on the water. Few who have any feeling for their
noviciate companions on board, especially those who have been in India,
quit the ship without taking with them as many as the pinnace can,
without distressing all, receive. This wind-fall does not happen every
day; though few ships return to India without conveying one or more old
standards, either civil or military: but it is not always that notice
can be received of a ship’s being about to import; and when such notice
has been received, it is not always thought of, or perhaps practicable,
to send a pinnace to receive an old friend.

Persons in a delicate state of health should, if possible, wait till
some safe and comfortable conveyance can be obtained. The most certain
mode is, to commission the purser to hire a vessel the moment he reaches
Calcutta, and to send her off under charge of some servant, who should
see that no delay were made by the boatmen; which, if paid by the day,
would inevitably follow. The misfortune is, that very few can endure to
be confined so much longer on board, and often impatiently reject such a
proposition: here we may expect to find that the greatest haste makes
the worst speed; at the same time that the expences are encreased
greatly, while the accommodations are deteriorated in exact ratio.

Now and then, an adventurous manjee, (or boat-master,) who knows how to
make a good bargain, will linger about Diamond Harbour, or lay up in
Culpee Creek, with the intent of going down, wind and tide permitting,
to the first ship which may arrive from Europe. Such men are certain of
a good fare, it being very common to give from fifty rupees (about six
guineas) to one hundred (about twelve guineas) for the trip. Such an
opportunity, however extravagant the terms may appear, ought not to be
lost; it being a great chance whether a second vessel of the same
description may proceed to the ship. As to small boats, rowing four or
six oars, and having either a thatched cabin, or a semi-circular awning
of mats, several of them may come along-side; but they will not be found
to yield the smallest accommodation beyond shelter from the sun; while
their manjees will not fail to take every advantage of whatever
distress, or difficulty, the passenger may labor under.

It would not be just to infer, from what I have said, respecting the
readiness with which the boatmen avail themselves of the necessities of
persons desirous to leave a ship, that they are particularly covetous,
or prone to imposition: we need only look at home, where we shall find
that no mercy is shewn to such unfortunate persons as become the prey of
our watermen, along the whole extent of our coast. See with what
hard-hearted, callous apathy, the boatman views the distress of the
unthinking youth, who, either by neglect, or by accident, remains on
shore after the boats that frequent his own ship, then under weigh, have
put off! What prayers, or arguments, short of those issuing from the
purse, can urge him to relieve the anxiety of him, whose whole hope,
whose only resource, lies in that voyage for which every preparation has
been made, and for which expences, often nearly ruinous to friends and
connections, have been defrayed! I speak not of those who are in a hurry
to quit their ships, before coming to an anchor; if they will have their
way, they must pay for such intemperate haste; it is an expence they
have the option of avoiding.

Really, when we come to a fair computation of the risks attendant upon
taking a vessel, built expressly for accommodation, and not intended to
meet the rude surges of, what may be called, an arm of the sea; that
from twelve to eighteen men are engaged; that much time is lost in
waiting arrivals; that full sixty miles are to be passed over; and that,
perhaps, four or five gentlemen, with all their luggage that may be at
hand, are conveyed; I say, when all this is considered, although we
certainly, from habit of having things cheaper in India, may deem even
the fifty rupees exorbitant, yet there appears far less reason to find
fault with the extortion of the Indian than there is to condemn the
cruel rapacity of the English boatman!

Whatever may be the rate at which the boat, supposing it to be a
pinnace-budgrow, is engaged, no apparatus of any description should be
expected; for none will be found. There will usually be an open veranda
in the front, having three or four steps to descend from the deck
thereto; it being on the same level with the front, or dining room. The
after-room narrows considerably towards the stern; and, on account of
the vessel’s form, its floor is usually raised one or two steps; this is
the sleeping apartment: at the stern is a small slip, serving for a
quarter-gallery: The roofs of these boats are usually flat; and some
have side-rails above to prevent luggage, or those who sleep there, from
falling overboard. The sides are furnished, for their whole length, with
Venetian blinds, in frames which lift up by means of hinges at their
tops; and a long curtain, made either of tarpaulin, or of painted, or of
white canvas, is nailed on the outside; letting down at pleasure, to
keep out wind, rain, dust, &c. The baling-place is ordinarily about the
centre of the front room; that being the deepest part of the boat’s
bottom. Baggage may be put under the deck; but that part is generally
occupied by the dandies, (or rowers,) if permitted to sleep there; or
perhaps the manjee may think it worth his while to make it a trading
voyage and lay in salt, rice, &c. to be disposed of to advantage on his
arrival at the presidency.

From this concise detail it will be seen, that some penance must be
undergone, even in this kind of boat, and supposing it to be perfectly
fitted up with the above defences against bad weather: but such will
rarely turn out to be the case. The sea-cot is now of singular use; its
hooks being withdrawn from the ship’s beams, and inserted in those of
the budgrow. Those who had standing bed-places, must spread their
mattresses, &c. on the floor: all must sit upon their trunks, or
whatever may be at hand; and every little article of convenience brought
from the ship will become useful. Candles, candle-sticks, tin-ware,
glasses, &c. are now invaluable. As to table-cloths, there being no
table, they may be cheerfully dispensed with; as may also knives and
forks, there being no plates; it being probable that curry and rice,
prepared by the boatmen, will form the bill of fare. Those who are fond
of savoury dishes, may, in this instance, gratify themselves with a
repast in high estimation among the gentlemen of India: viz. a dandy’s
curry; but I fear, that those who have been in the habit of eating made
dishes, at a distance from the culinary operations, may not altogether
relish the manner of preparation, nor be invariably pleased with the
appearance of the cook; whose habiliments will probably consist of a
cloth wrapped round his waist, then passed between his thighs, and a
small cap, if the party be a Mussulman; if a Hindu, the entire dress may
be composed of a small cord tied round his waist for the purpose of
supporting a narrow piece of cloth passed between his thighs thus barely
answering the purpose of a fig-leaf. Herpetic eruptions, in large
patches, all over the back, breast and arms, together with obvious
symptoms of a more troublesome cutaneous complaint, about the fingers,
&c. are by no means rare, yet never disqualify the scratching sufferer
from officiating as cook to the crew! Were such _trifles_ to be
objectionable, it might be somewhat difficult to get a dinner dressed.

It being utterly impracticable to row a budgrow against the tide, which
ordinarily runs from three to six miles in the hour, and many
difficulties presenting themselves to render it by no means easy to
track along the shore, especially where the mud-banks shelve out a great
way, the manjee will probably come to near some village, or in some
creek, during the ebb; and, as it rarely happens that the first of the
flood is taken, particularly during the night time, in all probability
the best part of three days will be expended between Kedgeree and
Calcutta. If a few bottles of wine, a small quantity of biscuit, a piece
of beef, or of pork, and a pack of cards, have been supplied from the
ship, so much the more agreeably will the time be passed; but I cannot
forbear from observing, that intemperance at this time rarely fails to
bring on fevers, such as baffle the art of man. Those who heat their
blood on first entering the country, whether by drinking, or by exposure
to the sun, become subject to diseases of the liver which are too often
incurable, and finally, though after some years perhaps, drag their
lingering victim to the grave. With respect to bathing, it is not only
insalubrious, as practised by persons who have not proper apparatus at
hand, but highly dangerous, on account of the incredible numbers of
alligators and sharks, which infest not only the great river, but every
little creek, and puddle, within reach of the tide.

The manjee generally endeavors to reach Culpee, Fultah, or Diamond
Harbour, with the first tide: at either of those places many articles of
provision may be had, and there will be found some persons who can speak
a little English. These will invariably do all in their power to
encourage the purchase of many things of no use whatever, but which
become perquisites to the manjee, on his passengers quitting the vessel.
Abundance of poultry may be seen; but, with the exception of a curry,
there will no method of dressing them; unless accidentally some person
be on board, in whatever capacity, who can trim a fowl, and roast it. If
fish are to be had, they will come under the same difficulty; so that,
like Sancho, in the midst of plenty, a man may be next to starving, if
he cannot make up his mind to partake of the dandies’ curry.

It is proper to caution against eating much fruit, though it may be
perfectly ripe: unseasonable avidity in this way has proved fatal to
many on their arrival. A few bananas will not incommode; but the
cocoa-nut, however pleasant and refreshing it may be, should be partaken
of very sparingly; it being extremely apt to affect the bowels, as is
also the jack.

Those who have never had an opportunity of seeing the fire-fly, will be
agreeably surprized at the millions of those little luminaries, which at
night bespangle every bush: displaying themselves in the most vivid
manner. The hind parts of these insects, which may be about the size of
common house-flies, are replete with a brilliant substance, similar to
that contained in the glow-worm, and, like it, equally innocent. It is
extremely curious, that, in many parts of the ocean, immense shoals of
the luminous sea-maggot, each about the size of a man’s finger, should
be seen at nights, causing the water to assume a phosphoric appearance.
In sailing through these living shoals, abundance may be drawn up in
buckets; while, at the same time, innumerable fishes of prey may be
heard, or seen, rushing among them, and, no doubt, making many a hearty
meal. The great distance from all land at which these shoals are to be
found, must cause us to wonder at their origin, and at their future
purposes; for we can scarcely suppose them to be derived from
terrestrial parents; nor is it very easy to reconcile to ourselves, that
they change into fishes of any kind. It should rather seem that
all-bountiful Providence has created them for the sole purpose of
affording sustenance to those fishes, which, in consequence of their
remaining, perhaps altogether, remote from every shore, would, but for
these _larvæ_, (as we must, for want of knowing better, call them,) be
unable to subsist.

Persons arriving from Europe, rarely have any but British coins; in the
disbursing of which many impositions will be practised. The best mode is
to tender the whole, without delay, to some of the English agency
houses, who will readily pay their full value; it being often a matter
of difficulty to obtain a few guineas for their friends who may be about
to embark, without paying an exorbitant sum to the _shroff’s_, or native
bankers, who can acquire them only from such persons as import with the
Indiamen, and are rarely acquainted with their real value.

Accounts are generally kept in current rupees, which are considered,
(though in themselves nominal, there being no such coin,) the standard
to which all other denominations of money should be reduced: this is, in
fact, the application of one term, whereby all others are to be
appreciated. It is often found useful to have a second column, in every
folio, wherein to note the corresponding amounts in sicca rupees, they
being in general use. The infinite variety, both of gold mohurs, and of
rupees, renders it highly necessary for the young adventurer to be
careful, lest he should receive such as are of inferior value; a trick
extremely common among servants, as well as _shroffs_, _sircars_, and
shop-keepers; all of whom will exercise their cunning to obtain the
smallest advantage, and derive peculiar satisfaction from involving the
matter in as much confusion as possible.

The Calcutta seer is fixed at eighty sicca rupees weight; the factors’
maund, of the same place, amounts to one-tenth less, on account of its
having but seventy-two siccas to its seer. In the upper provinces, even
the neighbouring villages often vary to a great extent; some seers being
only sixty-four pice, while others are ninety-six; the pice and the
sicca rupee being nearly of a weight. Nor is the value of a pice, which
is a copper coin, less uncertain; on some days they are at sixty to a
rupee, at other times, as high as sixty-five or sixty-six; just as may
happen to suit the _shroffs_, who, by this fluctuation, create a kind of
stock-jobbing traffic; whereby they rob the public as much, and as
often, as they please; no one interfering to control this nefarious and
unparalleled insolence!

The following varieties regarding the _guz_ should be understood; they
being what formerly were in use, and upon which many details of ancient
occurrences and measurements depend.

The _guz-soudah_, 24⅔ of a finger, as measured by Haroon Resheed from
the hand of one of his slaves. This was the basis of the nilometer, and
of the yard for measuring cloths. The _guz-me-sahet_ measured
twenty-eight fingers, and that of Humaion thirty-two: the latter was
used by order of Sheer Khan, and Selim Khan, for the measurement of
cultivated lands. Akber also allowed a _guz_ of forty-six fingers to be
used for cloth only, and one measuring forty-two _isecunderees_, (small
coins of base silver,) to be used for other purposes. This is called the
_secundry-guz_. A _coss_ is generally accepted at two English miles, and
will, for the most part, be found to come within a mere trifle of that
measurement. In some places, they reckon by the _puckah_, or long coss;
in others, by the _ghow-coss_, which alludes to that distance the lowing
of cattle may be heard: this is also called the _cutcha-coss_; meaning
imperfect, or short. The fact is, that the length of a coss is perfectly
undefined by any proper standard, or explanation. What else, indeed, can
be expected in a country where there are neither public roads, nor inns,
public conveyances, nor even mile stones, or directing posts, on the
most practised routes.

Among other salutary and useful, but unfortunately temporary,
regulations, the Emperor Akber fixed the coss at 5000 guz, equal to 4757
yards, or two miles, five furlongs, of our standard. Shah Jehan
afterwards encreased it, by the addition of one furlong; but both their
measurements gradually fell into disuse, and the old nominal coss of
Hindostan again came into vogue. Including all the variations, however,
in what are called puckah-cosses there appear less anomalies than might
be expected in a range of 1700 miles, throughout which no determinate
law, on that subject, obtains. Computing by horizontal measurements,
between places whose distances are accurately known, it appears that the
coss may be taken at a mile and nine-tenths: in this, one mile in seven
is thrown into the computation, to account against the winding of roads.
In the Malwa country, the cosses are about an eighth longer than in the
Company’s dominions towards that quarter; while, in the vicinity of
Masulipatam they are in the same proportion shorter. The goondy coss of
the Nagpore district, is about three miles. Perhaps the most absurd mode
of ascertaining the length of a coss, which, by the by, must be a very
short one, and, according to the statement of Abu Fazil, was practised
among the Hindus, depended on ‘One thousand steps taken by a woman
bearing a child’ (of what age is not specified) ‘in her arms, and a jar
of water’, (also indefinite as to bulk,) ‘on her head!’ Again, ‘the
distance a man could go, at a quick pace, without being out of breath’,
was accounted a coss! Others determined that measurement by ‘plucking a
green leaf, and bearing it on their heads until it became dry!’

The most rational, and simple mode of adjustment, appears to be that
ordered by Sheer Khan, viz. sixty _jereebs_ of sixty _guz_ each. This
would be about 3500 yards; being only twenty less than two statute
miles. Whenever the emperor marched with his armies, persons were
appointed to measure his route, by means of bamboos cut to the length of
twelve and a half _ilahi-guz_; four hundred bamboos being accounted a
coss; which, as already specified, amounted to two miles and five

The land-measure in use among the Europeans of Calcutta, is thus

 20 feet by 20, equal to 400 square feet make                1 _cottah_,

 20 cottahs                                                1 _beegah_ or

The natives are more particular in their divisions of the beegah, they
average its parts in the following manner.

  30 square feet                           make         1 _chattack_,

  16 chattacks                                          1 _cottah_ or

  20 cottahs, or biswahs, (_i.e._ twentieths)           1 _beegah_ or

Among the peasantry, other beegahs are in use, viz. one which has an
area of 3600 _ilahi-guz_, equal to 3025 square yards; but, in general,
the _dessy-bigah_ of only 1600 square yards, prevails. This _ilahi-guz_
is divided into twenty-four tesuj, each of which, in the long _guz_
should be equal to the breadth of eight ordinary barley corns; but in
the short _guz_, only of six. The former was used in great works; the
latter in small ones, such as manufactures, &c.

All goods being landed under the inspection of custom-house officers,
the passenger will have little opportunity of interfering in regard to
his baggage, or merchandize. Nor should I recommend his attempting,
personally, to transact any business before he may have delivered his
letters of credit, or of introduction. That should be his first step;
both because it will be the means of managing all his concerns with
facility, and, probably, of being comfortably situated, without having
occasion to resort to a tavern.

Here I deem it an indispensable duty, to warn the young adventurer not
to dissipate his money, ruin his health, and injure his reputation, by
frequenting taverns. In England, where persons who do not keep house
must occasionally sit down to a meal in public, custom has not only
connived at, but sanctioned, the resort to coffee-houses, &c. With us,
these afford convenience to thousands, who could never provide so
comfortably at home, at the same expence. The coffee-houses in Europe
may likewise be considered as the rendezvous of persons in the same line
of business, and offering the opportunity for adjusting a thousand
matters, which, either owing to remote residence, or to the pressure of
other concerns, could not else be brought to immediate conclusion.

The taverns in India are upon a very different plan: they are either of
the first rate, at which public dinners are occasionally given; or they
are of that mean description which receive all who have a rupee to
spend, under the determination of extracting that rupee, in some shape
or other. The former class is very confined in numbers, but the latter
are abundantly numerous, and may be readily distinguished by the
promiscuous company, the shabbiness of the treatment, and the excess of
imposition practised, especially on novices. It is extremely easy to
avoid the necessity for running into the mouths of these leviathans: all
that is requisite, being merely to call at the first office, or shop,
and to enquire for the residence of the gentleman to whom the letter of
introduction may be addressed. No ceremony should be used in explaining
the circumstances, and in soliciting the aid of a servant to lead the
way. I never yet heard of a want of civility on such occasions.

In speaking thus confidently regarding a letter of introduction, I am
pre-supposing, that the case alludes to a person not appointed to the
service of the Company: for I cannot conceive what could induce any man
of respectability to visit India, without some substantial
recommendation, or, indeed, unless under some agreement, or sufficient
assurance of being employed in such manner as might tend to certain
advantage. Nothing can be more forlorn than the situation of a mere
adventurer, on his arrival in India! With money in his pocket, he may
assuredly subsist; but, without some friend to introduce him into
society, he may remain for years without being noticed; for, throughout
the East, and especially at the several presidencies, he who knows
nobody, him will nobody know! Residence at a tavern, is, in itself, a
perfect disqualification among persons of repute; as implying either an
addiction to liquor, or a predilection for low company.

In saying this, I must not be understood as denying, that some worthy
characters have been rescued from perpetual degradation, by accidental
intercourse with persons of peculiar sensibility: but such nice
feelings, and that unqualified liberality, which may have been
occasionally discovered in a few individuals, are rarely united; and,
when they are, it too often happens that the power to render them
effectively beneficial is altogether wanting. A man may be thoroughly
convinced of the worthiness of his protegé, but it will not always
follow that society will join him in opinion. In considering the state
of society in India, this will be evident: its being strongly inculcated
will prove serviceable to many, who may have mis-conceived the subject
in general: or who may have been led, by a too sanguine disposition, to
deem the whole toil, risk, and solicitude as being over, so soon as
their feet can rest on the terra firma of Hindostan.

The ordinary mode in which an European is attacked, on his first arrival
at Calcutta, is by the tender of a bearer, carrying a large umbrella, to
shelter master from the sun, or rain. There is something about a
stranger, in that quarter, which instantly announces him to all the
predatory tribe, who wait at the wharfs in expectation of living booty:
but, if such were not the case, his total ignorance of the language
would be sufficient to determine their conduct. The bearer, who is in
league with that numerous horde of miscreants called _sircars_,
abounding, not only at Calcutta, but throughout the lower provinces,
speedily conveys the hint to his associates, when a smooth-faced chap,
who speaks English well enough to be understood, and who comprehends
more than he will acknowledge, advances, and making a respectful
obeisance, called a _salaam_, by bending his head downwards, and placing
the palm of his right hand to his forehead, makes an offer of his
services to the stray Briton.

However prepared a youth may be, by all the cautious injunctions of
friends, and by the detail of knaveries practised by such characters,
still it is by no means easy to avoid the snare! When we reflect on the
anxiety inseparably attendant upon arrival in a country where every
thing is new, every thing strange, and where, in case of disappointment,
all must be misery; it should not surprize us to find so much dependence
placed on those who cheer the novice, by speaking to him in his native
tongue. But, admitting the folly of confiding in any stranger, how is
the case to be ameliorated? Ignorant of the language, as well as of the
customs; totally unacquainted with any soul on the spot; and eager to
obtain a shelter from the oppressive heats; what is the poor adventurer
to do? He cannot remain in the boat! He cannot take root, and vegetate,
at the water side! Nor can he perambulate the public roads, until
fatigue shall sink him to the dust, or some benevolent, and inspired
European may, on perceiving his distress, offer him an asylum! What then
is to be done?—Why, the _sircar_ must lead him to some paltry tavern, in
which he either is interested, or from whose keeper he receives a
douceur for introducing the guest. In the mean time, his baggage, with
the exception of such minutiæ as may adhere to the fingers of the
boat-men, or of those who have the handling of them on shore, will
follow, and there will be no want of attention to immediate

The tavern-keeper, under the plausible pretext of aiding towards the
completion of the youth’s wishes, never fails to enquire whether the
gentleman has any friends in town? or even in the country? If
affirmatively answered, ‘mine host’ feels himself tolerably secure of
his money: but will probably assert, that the friend in town is out of
the way, and will not be back for some days: should the gentleman be
totally destitute of friends, then comes the rich harvest. Imposition
following imposition, swell the bill; which, if appearances warrant
forbearance, is kept back as long as possible, under the pleasing
assurance of perfect confidence: but, in the end, a catalogue of items
is produced, which never fails to alarm, if not to ruin, the
unsuspecting victim!

If, unhappily, the guest should so far lower himself as to associate
with the ordinary company of the common drinking-room, he is
irretrievably gone. Quarrels, riots, and inebriety, must follow; in all
probability rendering him subject to the notice of the police. Should
his face ever be seen at that office, it would be next to impossible
that he should be admitted into any respectable circle. What with
lodging, dinners, wines, &c. of the worst description, but all rated at
the highest prices, he must be a fortunate wight who escapes under a
gold mohur (_i.e._ two guineas) per day: in general, double that sum is
charged; so that a person starts at the rate of £1000. per annum, at
least; while, in all probability no established, or even apparent,
provision exists, whereby he may be maintained.

If we add the allurements held out by the sable beauties, who will
contrive means to retail their charms so long as they think money is to
be had, we shall find no trifling expence incurred. This latter part of
the ceremony is usually performed by some fellow who can speak English,
and thoroughly understands whatever relates to the interest of the
concern; which, among other things, includes thieving, lying, cheating,
pimping, &c. This first essay is ordinarily made by describing the
elegance of the native women, and their great perfection as singers, and
dancers; and rarely fails, especially with youths under such
circumstances, to excite something more than curiosity. The
dancing-girls are introduced, and consequences follow, over which I
shall draw the veil; simply observing, that nothing can be more
dangerous than this irregular indulgence; it never failing, first to
drain the purse, and, in a few days, or weeks, the constitution also.

Those servants who usually ply at the wharfs, and endeavor to obtain
employment, either among the officers of ships, or among persons fresh
from Europe, for the most part speak broken English with sufficient
fluency: this renders them particularly serviceable to both those
classes, by enabling them to provide, and to act, when, without such
assistance, they would be in distress, and at a stand. It is a very
general custom among the Mussulmans of low condition, to give such of
their male children as are born during their Lent, (or _Ramzaun_,) the
name of _Ramzauny_: meaning ‘born during the _Ramzaun_.’ There being so
many thus designated, renders the name extremely common; and, as an
infinity of rogueries have been practised by persons so called, it has
rather got into disgrace. Hence, the adventurers above described are, by
a slight, but ludicrous corruption, termed _Rum-Johnnies_.

That a servant thus enabled to act as the medium of intercourse, must
prove on many occasions highly convenient, may be confessed; but, like a
double-edged sword, he may operate either way, as to himself may appear
expedient; and while pretending to serve, may be pillaging his employer.
It is to be lamented, that the stranger has no immediate resource; and,
in case of injury, little redress. The mischief is not owing to any
deficiency in the police, but arises from that invariable precaution
with which _Rum-Johnnies_ carry on their manœuvres: they never fail to
have a third person in the way, who is to disappear with the purloined
articles, and to bear all the blame; while the principal affects great
resentment at the villain’s audacity, and sorrow for master’s loss. This
is often so dexterously managed as to occasion serious quarrels, when
friends, who see through the deception, endeavor to convince the
infatuated party, that his confidential menial is at the bottom of the
roguery. The disreputable circumstance of having a thief at his elbow,
does not sit very easy on the stranger’s mind: deriving so much
convenience from _Rum-Johnny’s_ aid, and, having only the fair side of
the knave’s conduct in view, he is unwilling to give credit to what
appears a gross misrepresentation, founded on prejudice. By this means,
he sinks deeper into the mire, and renders it dangerous for his
well-wisher to attempt his extrication.

I recollect an instance of a young gentleman’s joining a regiment, about
a hundred miles up the country, who had among his servants a
_khedmutgar_, (or table-attendant,) of whom I never could get a sight.
The fellow was always sick, or busy; or some excuse was invariably made.
At length, one of my own domestics informed me, that he was a
_Rum-Johnny_ who had been discharged from my service, in which he held
the office of _mosaulchy_, (or link-boy,) for theft. I found out, that
he had been employed in the barracks at Fort-William, where he picked up
a little English, and had fastened upon the gentleman, no doubt with the
intention to avail himself of the first good prize wherewith to decamp.
Finding, to his great discomfiture, that I had been removed to that
station, where he found me, the scoundrel kept aloof, under the hope of
carrying his project into execution. Strange to say, it was with extreme
difficulty I could convince my young friend that he was the dupe of a
downright thief; who, if I had not been improperly lenient, would have
had the certificate of his crime noted on his back, by the drummers of
the regiment!

To state the evil, without pointing out the remedy, would be next to
useless: but, when I suggest the means of avoiding those difficulties,
or any portion of them, attendant on arrival in a foreign land, it must
be understood, that I consider the stranger to be possessed of pecuniary
means: that is, that he can pay his way. Without this, he can do
nothing; and must undergo all the afflictions and miseries attendant
upon despised poverty, in every part of the globe. It may be proper to
point out in this place, that what might here appear to be liberal
calculations, will not suit the East; where every article of European
manufacture bears so enormous a price, where house-rent is so expensive,
and where it is indispensably necessary to retain so many servants. The
first thing to be done, (setting a letter of recommendation out of the
question,) should be to report arrival at the secretary’s office,
depositing the certificate of the Court of Directors’ licence to proceed
to India; without which, the party is treated as an alien, and scarcely
considered entitled to British protection. This does not arise from
ill-will on the part of government, or of the inhabitants; but from that
strict attention the politics of the country imperiously demand to be
paid to the several characters, and descriptions, of persons residing
within our territory.

The above relates equally to all persons in the civil or military
branches; the certificate granted at the India House must be produced,
in order to identify the party; but if it should have been lost, he
himself, together with the commander who received the order to take him
on board, must attend, to make affadavit to that effect, before the
appointment can be admitted upon the registers in India.

Such as appertain to the civil service, being always strongly
recommended and often finding many old acquaintances of their families
on the spot, require but little advice; nor does the cadet stand much in
need of instruction, as to the manner in which he should provide himself
with a home. All he has to do is to wait upon the town-major, at his
office in Fort-William, when he will receive the necessary order for his
admission into the Cadet Corps, at Baraset, about sixteen miles from

He who has not these advantages, must do the best his circumstances may
afford; he will find temperance to be not only cheap, but indispensable;
for, if he should act so indiscreetly at the outset as to injure his
health, a thousand privations, and a certain encrease of difficulties,
must follow. The first point must necessarily be to get under cover.
This will not be found so easy, as those who have never quitted England
may suppose. It will be after much research, that a small house will be
had, and then only the bare walls; for no such thing is known in India
as a furnished house to be let; and lodgings are, if possible, still
more out of the question. Fortunately, there are, among the European
shop-keepers in Calcutta, some most respectable characters; men
distinguished for their urbanity, philanthropy, and generosity.
Application should be instantly made to one of these firms, for aid, and
advice. The case should be candidly stated; and, in order to insure
confidence, a deposit of money should be made, either with them, or at
one of the Banks. The consequences will be, that, in a few hours, some
small tenement will be obtained, either on hire, or granted as a
temporary accommodation, and the whole of the articles really necessary
will be provided, at some one or other of the auctions which daily take
place within the central parts of the town.

The appointment of proper servants will be a matter of importance; but,
under the auspices of any old resident, by no means difficult; such will
be not simply the most expeditious, but the safest, way of proceeding;
since those who recommend will, in all probability, be expected,
according to the custom of the place, to become sureties for the honesty
of all persons hired through their means. One servant who can speak
English, or at least, an underling _sircar_, deputed from the warehouse,
will prove a very agreeable resource, on all occasions of difficulty;
but I cannot too forcibly inculcate the good policy, or rather the
absolute necessity, of immediately studying the language: till that is
acquired, to such an extent as may remove the necessity for an
interpreter on ordinary occasions, no person can be deemed independent;
far less, capable of acting in any civil, military, or commercial
capacity, with effect.

Strange to say I have known gentlemen to be resident from ten, to
thirty, years in India, without being able to summon resolution to
acquire sufficient of the Hindui language even to take their accounts!
With such the _sircar_ was every thing. The consequences were,
invariably, that he was rich, and master ever in distress!

Without pretending to make a very accurate estimate, I shall attempt to
give an outline of those expences to which every person keeping house,
though in the most retired manner, and on the most economical plan, must
be subjected. In doing this, I consider the instructions given for the
outfit to have been duly attended to; and, that wearing apparel, plate,
bedding, blankets, sheets, and pillow cases, have been provided. If they
have not, the whole of those articles may be rated at from fifty to a
hundred per cent. more than they would cost in England. The following
brief catalogue will be found to contain only those conveniences which
are indispensable.


 One dozen of chairs; say at four rupees each                       48

 One dining table for six, say                                      25

 Two tepoys (tripods) 3½ each                                        7

 One writing-table, with drawers                                    25

 One bedstead of 6 feet 4 in. by 4 feet 6 in.                       30

 Curtains to ditto; those for the exterior of chintz                20

 Inside ditto, of gauze, to keep out musquitoes                     10

 Bookcase upon chest of drawers                                    100

 China and glass-ware, say                                         100

 Shades to put over candles, one pair, say                          40

            (Those with wooden pedestals to be preferred.)
 A chillumchee (or metal bason) for washing hands, with its         25
    tripod, &c.

 A palanquin and bedding                                           100

 Table cloths and towels                                            50

 One large, and one small, satringe (cotton carpet) 25 and 10       35

 Various culinary articles, say                                     40

 A variety of small articles in cutlery, &c. say                    45


                           Making in all, on a rough estimate      700


In this I have not included a horse, because it is not every body who
keeps one, nor is it peremptorily needful; but, both as a convenience,
and as tending to health, I recommend that a cheap, safe, and quiet
poney be provided: numbers are sold every week, at all prices; but I
should think that, including the saddle and bridle, from 250 to 300
rupees, would be going far enough: say the whole expence should be 1000
sicca rupees, or £125; which will, I apprehend, be as little as any
person can expend, so as to be either creditable or comfortable. The
necessary stock of wines, spirits, wax-candles, sauces, sugar-candy,
tea, coffee, salt-petre, and a number of lesser items, would require
full 600 rupees more; under the supposition that a year’s stock were
laid in. At that rate we may compute £200. to be necessary to establish
a gentleman at his residence, supposing it to be fixed. Travelling makes
quite another concern, and will be found to encrease the disbursements

A comparison with the prices of those articles we, in Europe, consider
to be requisite for the furniture of two or three rooms, will shew that
Calcutta is by no means a favourable market for the purchase, either of
furniture, or of wines, cattle, &c.; and should at once satisfy every
free-mariner, free-merchant, &c. proceeding to India on speculation,
that he must be provided with at least six hundred pounds to answer the
demands of his outset, including house rent, which cannot well be taken
at less than £150. per annum; his servants will amount to about as much
more; and his table expences, pocket-money, &c., on the most moderate
scale, will demand one hundred, after laying in his stock of wines, tea,
&c. So that, in all, we may think he does very well on the £600. If,
indeed, he should be so fortunate as to make numerous respectable
acquaintances, at whose tables he may frequently become a guest, a
considerable portion of the expences, stated at £100. may, perhaps, be
retrenched; but such good fortune does not happen to all; and, when it
does, rarely comes at once; it requires some time to gain that footing
which may relieve the pressure of table charges; and when that footing
has been gained, it may not be attended with more than common civility,
without the smallest prospect of being served.

I say thus much with the view to correct an opinion known to prevail,
that it is easy to get into society in India; and that then a gentleman
may put his hands in his pockets, while his friends forward him rapidly.
Such, assuredly, was the case in days of yore; but, within the last
twenty years, there have been so many retrenchments in all the public
offices, so many young men have gone to India with the hope of being
engaged in merchants’ houses, and so many have failed in those
prospects, that I should omit a very important branch of that duty I
have imposed on myself, in offering my advice to those who are about to
proceed to India, were I to encourage the idea of such supposed
facilities being realized. It should never be forgotten, that all
persons who are ignorant of the language spoken in common, namely, the
Hindui, (vulgarly called the _Moors’_,) are incompetent to any duty,
beyond what may relate to making out copies of accounts-current, and
registering correspondence: even these demand some local knowledge, to
be performed with correctness. This consideration will lead to the
conviction, that full one year must be provided for before any
employment, on which dependance can be placed for a livelihood, and
affording the prospect of future rise, should be expected.

Of such importance does this appear, that, were I to advice any young
friend, about to proceed to India, as to the manner in which he should
pass his first year, it would be nearly in the following terms: ‘Rise at
daybreak, and ride gently for one hour in the hot season, and two hours
in the cold season; make a moderate breakfast, avoiding melted butter,
salt meats, salt fish, sweetmeats, &c., good tea or coffee being
assuredly the most wholesome; study the language for an hour; attend
some office gratuitously, with the view to become acquainted with the
accounts, price-currents, markets, provisions, commodities, &c.; about
two o’clock retire to rest; about an hour before sun-set bathe, by means
of three or four large pots of water poured over the head; put on clean
linen, and dine moderately upon plain viands, taking care never to
exceed four or five glasses of the best Madeira; proceed for two hours
with studying the language, and, after taking a cup or two of tea, or of
coffee, or a crust of bread and a glass of Madeira, go to bed, avoiding
to sleep in a strong current of air.’

Possibly, it may be urged, that a person intent on learning the Hindui,
so as to be competent to transact business in the course of twelve
months, would not attain that object by three hours only of daily
assiduity. I am, however, completely satisfied, that such a portion of
time, appropriated under the guidance of an intelligent linguist, may
enable the student to make a wonderful progress; especially when
combined with the resolution to enter as much as possible into familiar
colloquy in that language.

An old friend, long since gone to ‘kingdom come,’ began the study of
Persian at rather an advanced age; which caused many to rally him on the
new turn he had taken. He, however, persevered, and, in the course of
two years, made himself more than commonly proficient. The explanation
he gave, regarding the plan he had laid down, was such as convinced me,
that any person, with a tolerable memory, may, in a moderate time,
acquire any regular language. His mode was, for the first month never to
retire to bed until he had learned twenty words perfectly by heart, so
as to explain them with promptitude, however catechized: after that
first month, he was master of no less than six hundred words. During the
next month, finding that former acquirements greatly facilitated his
progress, he made a point of gaining twenty-five words daily; therefore
that month gave him seven hundred and fifty words; which, added to the
six hundred of the preceding, made a total of thirteen hundred and

In this way he added five words every month, until he found, that, by
aid of derivations and compounds, he was well grounded in the language.
His computation was, that, as few languages contain more than forty
thousand words in common use, when ever he should be able to learn fifty
words daily, he might, to use his own terms, ‘make the language fall
before him in two years.’

This is an arithmetical demonstration of the powers annexed to
persevering regularity, and ought to induce every youth, for that is the
season for acquirements, to adopt such a system as should insure the
great object in view. So steady a mode of carrying on a pursuit, cannot,
however, be expected in young folks, many of whom have just escaped from
the trammels of parental vigilance; and who, having passed so many years
at their studies, rarely feel much disposition to prolong academic
labors; while, at the same time, the pleasures of society are open to
their participation. Still, I feel a hope that this volume may prove
intrinsically beneficial to a large portion, by pointing out the means
whereby preferment may be obtained, and by shewing with what facility
the foundation may be laid for a most superb superstructure.

The number of servants, and the amount of their wages, forming so
conspicuous an item in domestic economy, cannot fail to attract the
attention, not only of persons proceeding to India, but of their
parents, and friends, who often express much surprize at the apparent
extravagance of the young _debutants_ in this particular. Such notions
of improper indulgence in retinue, though perfectly natural, as
resulting from long habits, and the little necessity felt among us in
Europe, for keeping many servants, even in large families, by no means
find a sanction when transplanted beyond the narrow limits of our own
island. In many parts of Europe, custom has rendered permanent various
practices which, no doubt, had their origin in the purest motives, and
did not, in the first instance, appear likely to serve as the basis of
future excesses and encroachments.

Thus we find that, in Spain, no old servant is ever discharged by any
person of rank; in such families the domestics of deceased parents are
invariably retained. The obvious consequence is, that a young man, on
coming to his title, often finds himself burthened with some scores of
the aged, and of the idle; to discharge any of which would be not only
disgraceful, but deemed illegal; they being considered as heirlooms, by
the rejection of which, the rest of the inheritance would be virtually
forfeited. Here we see an excellent, and meritorious act, converted into
a nuisance, that proves highly injurious, both to the interests of the
successor, and to the morals of the pensioners. But who shall lead the
way to break through so formidable a phalanx!

The multiplicity of menials employed in the houses of European gentlemen
in Bengal, results from a cause very different from that above
described: it is founded on the tenets of religion, especially among the
Hindus; and is by no means likely to be abrogated within our time. What
may be effected by a relaxation of their present rigid principles, and
by the further extention of our customs, cannot be foretold. Our
situation has ever been critical; now is more so than ever; and we may
be deprived of the opportunity of judging what would have resulted from
the silent operations of succeeding ages, by some sudden burst of
revolt, occasioned by the intrigues of petty rajahs within our own
territory; fomented by the animosity of the native powers on our
frontier, and by the intrigues of French emissaries.

It being my intention to treat separately of the religious tenets, and
institutions, both of the Mussulmans and of the Hindus, little need be
said in this place, further than, that, owing to the division of the
latter into sects, called by us _casts_, which render the occupations of
all perfectly distinct, a necessity exists for hiring such of each
_cast_ as may attend to those duties they undertake, without becoming
subjected to the animadversions of their priesthood, or to those
penalties attendant upon even the most trifling deviation from the
marked path. Add to this, that the climate arbitrarily imposes the
necessity for retaining some classes of servants, unknown in England;
or, at least, supposed to be exclusively attached to the convenience of
ladies, and of sick persons. When all matters are considered, it will be
found, that that host of domestics appertaining to the establishment of
a gentleman in Bengal, proves, in the aggregate, little, if at all, more
expensive than the ordinary number retained by families of
respectability in most parts of England. What with wages, liveries,
lodging, board, washing, waste, negligence, and, I am sorry to say,
pilfering, we shall find the one man servant, and the two maids, fully a
match, in point of expence, with the whole body of those in the pay of
one of our countrymen abroad.

A gentleman in this country never can guess at the ultimate of his
disbursements, where his domestics are concerned either in the
appropriation, or in the expenditure: in Bengal, &c. the uttermost
farthing is known; each servant receiving a certain sum monthly, in
consideration of which he is in attendance during the whole day, finds
his own cloaths, provides his own victuals, and pays for whatever cabin
he may build or occupy. As to purloining victuals, there is little
danger; for, with the exception of some of the lower _casts_, which are
held in a state of utter abomination, no native of India, by which I
mean either Mussulman or Hindu, will so much as touch those viands which
an European has partaken: or which have been served up to his table.

In this I must be understood to speak generally, and without any
reference to those few deviations that have at times been discovered;
being sensible, that some instances could be adduced of servants,
particularly Mahomedans, having so far trespassed against the doctrines
of their religion, as absolutely to eat of _ham_, and other viands, in
secret. Such anomalies must be abstracted from my main position; which
is well known, by all who have resided in India, to be perfectly

So strict are all the _casts_, however much the one may be below the
other in a religious point of view, regarding the preservation of that
conspicuous distinction laid down by their sacred code, that,
notwithstanding they may worship the same deities, under the same forms,
and with the same ceremonies, yet will they not allow of participation
at meals; nor even of contact, at such moments. The stranger will, no
doubt, be greatly surprized on his arrival, to see during the evenings,
about sun-set, each individual, or, perhaps, here and there, two or
three, if of the same _cast_, squatting on the bare ground, within a
small space levelled for the purpose, of which the limits are marked out
by the line of dust, or rubbish, moved from the centre towards the
exterior. In such an area, each man, or woman, cooks and afterwards
eats, the principal meal of the day. In fair weather, these areas are
made under the canopy of heaven; but during the rainy season, and
perhaps in winter time, they are made within the huts of the persons

So extremely scrupulous are the natives, in respect to the preparation
of their victuals, and to their consumption, that, if any person not of
the very same _cast_, with the reservation of the brahmans, or priests,
were to touch their bodies, or their cloaths, or any one article within
the area, or even the surface of the area itself, the whole meal,
together with any earthen ware, standing within the circumvallation, (if
it may be so called,) would be instantly thrown away, as being polluted.
Nay, whatever portion might be in the mouth, must be ejected; and the
party be obliged to perform an ablution, before he could attempt to
resume his culinary labors, or to join in society with his compeers. Nor
will either a Mussulman, or a Hindu, drink water out of any vessel
touched, while in a state of repletion, by a person of inferior cast, or
by an European. Earthen ware of every kind, though new, or empty,
becomes defiled by such contact, so as to be utterly useless to the

Knowing such to be the case, it must be both cruel, and impolitic, to
trespass on a prejudice in itself perfectly innocent, and by no means
interfering with the rights, or the convenience, of others. It is true,
the patient Hindu, even while suffering under those privations attendant
upon the destruction, or at least the disqualification, of his meal,
will rarely proceed to extremity against any European, who may occasion
such an inconvenience and loss: because, under a supposition of the
trespasser’s ignorance, he, in his mind, finds an excuse for, and
pardons, what he mildly terms ‘the accident.’ But, should any native
offend in a similar manner, a war of words would exhibit the irritation
of the Hindu’s mind! Nor would he be passive were one of his countrymen
to step over him while asleep; that being considered not only
indelicate, but productive of serious mischiefs; inducing the
visitations of evil spirits, thereby causing disease, and, at no very
remote period, death. This strange infatuation must appear perfectly
ridiculous in any civilized being, but especially among a race of people
who are, one and all, predestinarians. The European should be careful
not to stride over any of his domestics who may occasionally lay down in
the veranda, &c. of his house: such an act on the part of an unbeliever,
(applying the term to ourselves,) being considered doubly laden with

The servants, whether of Europeans, or of natives of consequence, are
divided into two classes. The first class, which is known by the
designation of _nokeron_, (plural of _noker_,) includes such as, either
from the important, or confidential, offices they hold, are, in general
estimation, judged exempt from all menial duties. They are as follow.

  The _Banian_, or money agent.
  The _Darogah_, or _Gomastah_, or factor, or superintendant.
  The _Moonshy_, or linguist.
  The _Jemmadar_, or chief of the retinue.
  The _Chobe-dar_, or silver-pole bearer.
  The _Soontah-burdar_, or silver-baton bearer.
  The _Kansamah_, or chief table-attendant.
  The _Sircar_, or immediate agent for receipts and payments, and cash
  The _Cranny_, or clerk, or writer in the office.

The second class comprises the _Chaukeron_, (plural of _Chauker_).

  The _Khedmutgar_, or table-attendant.
  The _Mosaulchy_, or flambeau bearer.
  The _Hookah-burdar_, or preparer of the _hookah_, (pipe).
  The _Bheesty_, or water carrier.
  The _Babachy_, or cook.
  The _Durzy_, or tailor.
  The _Doby_, or washerman.
  The _Mohote_ or _Mohout_, or elephant driver, who has always one or
    more _Coolies_, called _mates_, to assist.
  The _Surwan_, or camel driver.
  The _Syce_, or groom.
  The _Gaus-kot_, or grass cutter, dependant on the former.
  The _Chaubuck-asswar_, or horse breaker.
  The _Mauly_, or gardener.
  The _Aub-dar_, or water cooler.
  The _Compadore_, or purveyor, under the _kansamah_.
  The _Hirkarah_, or messenger.
  The _Piada_, (or _Peon_,) nearly the same as the _hirkarah_.
  The _Hajaam_, or _Nye_, or _Nappy_, _i.e._ barber.
  The _Duftoree_, or office-keeper.
  The _Fraush_, or furniture keeper.
  The _Mater_, or sweeper; a female for the same duties being termed
  The _Dooreah_, or dog keeper.
  The _Kalashy_, or camp-equipage keeper.
  The _Berriarah_, or shepherd.
  The _Chokeydar_, or watchman.
  The _Durwan_, or gate-keeper, or porter.
  The _Cahar_, or palanquin bearer.
  The _Coachman_, or postilion.
  The _Ayah_, a female attendant in charge of children.
  The _Dhye_, a ditto attendant on a lady.

Such is the superiority claimed by the _nokers_, that, to ask one of
them ‘whose _chauker_ he is?’ would be considered a gross insult: the
inferior class are, on the other hand, very ready to assume the former
designation; holding it to be far more respectable in the eyes of their
countrymen; who comprehend, and value, that distinction, which, among
Europeans, is little attended to; far the greater portion being, indeed,
absolutely ignorant of any reputed difference.

The _Banians_ being, without doubt, the first in fortune, as well as in
rank, claim priority of description. These are, invariably, Hindus,
possessing in general very large property, with most extensive credit,
and influence. So much is this the case, that Calcutta was, some twenty
years ago, absolutely under the control of about twenty or thirty
_banians_, who managed every concern, in which they could find means to
make a profit. It is inconceivable what property was in their hands;
they were the ostensible agents in every line of business, placing their
dependants in the several departments over which themselves had obtained
dominion. Was a contract to be made with government, by any gentleman
not in the Company’s service; these became the securities, under the
condition of receiving a centage, and of appointing their friends to
such duties as might control the principal, and save themselves from
loss. When a person in the service of the Company, was desirous of
deriving benefit from some contract, in the disposal of which he had a
vote, and which, consequently, he could not obtain in his own name;
then, the _banian_ became the principal, and the donor either received a
share, or derived advantage from loans, &c. answering his purpose
equally well. The same person frequently was _banian_ to several
European gentlemen; all of whose concerns were, of course, accurately
known to him, and thus became the subject of conversation at those
meetings the _banians_ of Calcutta invariably held, and do yet hold,
after the active business of the day has been adjusted.

It cannot, however, be denied, that many speculations have been carried
on by the aid of _banians_, which, but for the strength of their
resources, could never have been attempted. We owe our present extended
trade in the fabrics of Dacca, &c. in the sugar of the western and
northern districts, in indigo throughout the country, and numerous other
branches of commerce, to the support given by this class to such
gentlemen as appeared to them likely to succeed. It has ever been a
maxim among them, never to back an unfortunate man; their opinion being,
that misfortunes in trade ordinarily arise from want of management: if
their own prosperity may be adduced in support of that sentiment, it
will be found strongly to exhibit their policy of combining with those
who have not, on any occasion, embarked on a rotten bottom.

A _banian_ invariably rides in his palanquin, attended by several
underling _sircars_, _hirkarahs_, &c. He, to a certain degree, rules the
office, entering it generally with little ceremony, making a slight
obeisance, and never divesting himself of his slippers: a privilege
which, in the eyes of the natives, at once places him on a footing of
equality with his employer. Under such a system, it has been easy for
the tribe of _banians_ to effect the ruin of any individual; while it
was impossible for any man in distress to conceal his circumstances, so
as to obtain a loan, or to extend his credit: hence, the courts of law
were full of causes in which _banians_ were plaintiffs. Of late years,
the case has altered greatly; for, if we except a few large concerns,
such as banking-houses, and the principal merchants, who, having
valuable cargoes on hand, are each under the necessity of retaining one
of this jew-like gang, for the purpose of obtaining cash to make up
payments, or to advance for investments, _banians_ are become obsolete.

In former times, there was little alternative how money should be
secured, except on mortgage, or in the Company’s treasury; whereas, few
now think of lending money at less than 12 per cent., which is the legal
interest; and, as the Company do not receive loans at that rate, except
when pressed by exigency and, that the great agency-houses continue to
make such an immense profit as enables them to pay so high for money
accommodation; the floating property belonging to individuals, with
little exception, falls into their hands: consequently, there is little
occasion for _banians_; the principal remains of whose extensive
influence are to be seen in the above concerns, and in the management of
elephant, bullock, or other contracts; which they often buy of the
contractor, either for a specific sum paid down, or by allowing him an
annual contingent; so as to exempt him from the responsibility, as well
as from the management, altogether.

I shall only add, that this description of persons may be classed with
the superior _debashes_ of the Carnatic; and that, although there
certainly have been found some individuals who might fairly claim
exemption from the accusation, yet, that, generally speaking, the
present _banians_, who attach themselves to the captains of European
ships, may, without the least hazard of controversion, be considered as
nothing more or less than _Rum-Johnnies_ ‘of a larger growth.’ Some of
these gentry usurp the designation of _dewan_, which should imply an
extensive delegated power; that office, under the emperors of Hindustan,
and even now in the courts of Lucknow, Hydrabad, &e. being confidential,
and never bestowed but on persons in high favor.

The _Darogah_, or _Gomastah_, or factor, or superintendant is an office
rarely held under Europeans, though extremely common in the services of
native princes, and of men of opulence. Some of our merchants appoint
persons to attend to their concerns in remote parts; such as the
timber-dealers in the Morungs; the iron-smelters of various parts; the
contractors for elephants, camels, bullocks, horses, &c. have also their
agents at the various stations. In general, these are common _sircars_,
who assume the title of _darogah_ by way of pre-eminence, without any
authority from, and often without the knowledge of, their employers. The
latter, however, are rarely averse to such an assumption; which, while
it tickles their vanity, costs not a farthing. The _darogahs_, or, I may
rather say, the _sircars_, frequently call themselves _naibs_, or
deputies: this should seem a more modest term; but, among the natives,
is considered at least as consequential as the former; especially when
the principal never eclipses the self-created dignitary, by personal
attendance to his own affairs in that quarter. Many of this class are
considered as approaching to menials.

The _Moonshy_, or linguist, is ordinarily a teacher of some language,
particularly the Persian and Hindui: though numbers are employed only as
interpreters, or as scribes. Learning is their sole pursuit; and so far
as that can reach in a country where but little is understood of
philosophy and mathematics, some of them do assuredly advance themselves
considerably. But, speaking of them in general, it will be found, that a
few volumes of tales, the lives of those great men who have either
invaded, or ruled, the empire, some moral tracts, and the Koran, (for
_moonshies_ are Mussulmans) constitute the acquirements of this very
haughty class of servants. A _moonshy_ is never so well pleased, as when
the payment of the domestic establishment is confided to his charge.
Here he is sure to touch the penny, and to create an influence very
injurious to his employer’s interests: the whole tribe of menials,
considering him to have full command of the whole concern, and viewing
their master as a mere cypher, dread the _moonshy’s_ authority, and
crouch before him in the most submissive manner.

The _banian_ rarely receives wages, or any immediate remuneration for
his services; he knows full well, that no money can pass the files on
his fingers without leaving some dust. The _darogah_ is sometimes paid
by centage on the quantity of goods he transmits, or on the amount of
his account; but the _moonshy_ is ever in the receipt of wages, which
vary according to his own talents and reputation, or to the rank of his
employer. Perhaps, a few may be found who receive more, but two gold
mohurs, (equal to four guineas,) per month, may be taken as rather a
liberal, than an ordinary, rate. Some do not receive more than eight or
ten rupees; but, whatever the learning of such men may amount to, their
conduct is generally influenced by motives wide from purity. Many of
this class might formerly be seen attached to those young officers, and
civil servants, who found an easy mode of gratifying their ostentation
by that display of study they never realized, and who employed these
pretended tutors in all the drudgery of expenditure; not forgetting
those meaner offices, which, while they disgraced themselves, levelled
all distinction between the man of letters and the common pander!

The private habits of _moonshies_, in general, by no means correspond
with the respectability of their profession. Having only to attend their
employers at stated hours, and the residue of their time being wholly
unoccupied, it is not to be wondered, that, with their liberal salaries,
they should rather court, than shun, pleasure. Hence, with very few
exceptions, we find them extremely debauched and unhealthy. What with
venery, drinking, smoking, &c. nine in ten of them exhale the most
intolerable effluvia! This, by no means, lowers their pride: on the
contrary, they apparently resort to arrogance, and to that precious
species of fastidious hauteur, ordinarily to be found under the same
sheep-skin with every consummate hypocrite!

The _Jemmadar_ is considered the most confidential, and important, of
all that class of servants forming the retinue of a person of
distinction. The despatches, and consultations of the various members of
the council, are usually conveyed by, or presented to, the several
_jemmadars_, in small boxes, of which each member has a key. Some
_jemmadars_ are retained merely with the view to superintend buildings,
and commercial operations; but such cannot be classed, strictly
speaking, with those who are merely state servants; although the wages
of each may be nearly on a par; viz. from twelve to twenty rupees
monthly. This servant bears no insignia of office, but, for the most
part, studies to imitate the appearance of a _moonshy_ of a respectable
class; from which he may, however, be often distinguished by the dagger,
ornamented with gold and tassels, or in a crimson velvet case, tipped
with gilt guards, worn in his _cummer-bund_, or waist-cloth: whereas the
_moonshy_ never wears any weapon whatever.

The _Chobe-dar_, or silver-pole bearer, is retained only by persons of
consequence; sometimes only one, but usually two are employed, and even
four may be seen in the retinue of very exalted characters. The pole,
(or _chobe_,) may be about four feet and a half in length, tapering
gradually, from the metal ferule at its base, to the top, which may be
about four inches in diameter, and is generally embossed with some
figure, such as a tiger’s head, &c.; while the rest, for the whole
length, is of some pattern such as volutes, scales, flowers, &c. The
pole consists of a staff, perhaps three quarters of an inch in diameter,
spreading towards its top, so as to assimilate to the form of the
exterior case; which is of solid wrought silver, often weighing 150
rupees or more, into which, the staff being placed centrically, melted
rosin is poured to fill up the intermediate space; the same as our
plated knife handles are done, thereby rendering the whole sufficiently
substantial, without adding too much to the weight.

The _chobe-dar_ is generally a man of some prudence, versed in all the
ceremonies of court etiquette. He stands at the inner door of the
audience, or receiving, apartment; announcing the approach of visitors,
and conducting them to the presence. The _chobe_ being in itself of some
value, and the office of considerable trust in many instances, it is
usual for this servant to give adequate security, by means of creditable
persons who vouch for, and take upon themselves, the actual
responsibility regarding his conduct. The wages of _chobe-dars_ vary
considerably, but we may take from eight to twelve rupees as the
average. They attend early in the morning; and, besides the
above-noticed duty of announcing visitors, run before the palanquins of
their employers, or, if there be no _jemmadar_, at the sides, so as to
receive orders without being called. They likewise carry messages, or
notes, on formal occasions; especially to superiors.

To this particular, great attention is paid; it being considered, that
the rank of the servant bearing the message, or note, implies the degree
of respect the person sending would pay to the person receiving. Thus, a
message sent by a _jemmadar_, is held to be more ceremonious, than one
by a _chobe-dar_; by a _chobe-dar_ more respectful than by a
_soontah-burdar_; and by a _soontah-burdar_ than by a _peon_, or
_hirkarah_. So well is this understood, that, the precursors of a great
man always arrange themselves according to the above rules; the
_hirkarahs_ and _peons_ are the foremost; next to them the
_soontah-burdars_; then the _chobe-dars_; and, lastly, the _jemmadar_;
the latter running at the side of the palanquin, but being replaced
during occasional absence by a _chobe-dar_; and thus throughout. It must
not be forgotten, that, in India, the retinue precede the employer: a
custom by no means suited to the climate, though perhaps gratifying to
those who take pleasure in seeing two lines of sweating domestics
preceding them; it need hardly be urged, how unpleasant the clouds of
dust raised by them must be to the person seated in the palanquin.

The dresses of the _jemmadar_, and of the _chobe-dars_, may be
considered the same; there being no characteristic difference, though
the former usually make their _jammas_, or robes, which are always of
white calico; unless where colored broad-cloath may have been presented
to them for the purpose of making up liveries: which, however, do not
usually extend to this class of messengers; white being considered by
themselves more dignified. Nor do they feel any partiality for colored
turbans, or waist-bands.

The _Soontah-burdar_ bears a baton of about thirty inches in length,
generally curved at its upper extremity, so as to resemble the ordinary
form of bludgeons. These batons are made of the same materials as the
_chobe_, or pole; but, while the latter are borne, when their bearers
are proceeding with a palanquin, by a suitable balance near their
centres, like trailed arms, the former are held by their lower
extremities; which, since they never are rested on the ground, as the
_chobes_ are, require no ferules; the crooked end of the _soontah_ being
carried over the shoulder.

_Soontah-burdars_ are frequently employed by persons in a second or
third rate of office, or of opulence, where no _jemmadar_, nor
_chobe-dar_, is kept. As already explained, the absence of one
state-servant calls up the next in rank to supply his place; a
circumstance which by no means impairs the dignity of the _locum
tenens_. The pay of this servant varies according to circumstances, but
may be from six to ten rupees monthly: the dress differs from that of
the superior class; it, in most cases, being confined to a much shorter
_jamma_, reaching only to the knees, or but little below them, and there
being less objection to wear colored turbans, &c.

The _Kansamah_ may be classed with the house-steward, and butler; both
which offices appear to unite in this servant, who, in his dress,
generally imitates the _jemmadar_, or the _chobe-dar_. Those who have
but rarely seen a table laid out in India, must wonder at the elegance,
and perfection, which may there often be found: this must appear still
more surprizing, when it is considered, that none of those concerned in
the preparation of the viands, would, on any account, taste of them
during the course of preparation, any more than when returned from the
table. It must not be supposed, that every servant bearing this
description is equally acquainted with the several minutiæ the character
ought to include: in fact, but very few of them possess such
qualifications as should entitle to pre-eminence: generally, some of the
more observant, or intelligent, of table-attendants of the lower order,
contrive by application, and even by paying those _kansamahs_ who are
considered clever in their business, to climb up the ladder of menial
rank, and ultimately to reach this station; which is the _ne plus ultra_
in its branch of servitude. The wages are supposed to correspond with
the talents; but, there being no scale whereby to regulate estimation,
we may be better guided, in this particular, by the rank of the
employer; though a few instances may be adduced wherein epicures, of
very moderate income, have retained _kansamahs_ at very exorbitant
rates. Perhaps I may be right in taking from twelve to fifteen rupees
for a common standard; from fifteen to twenty in families of rank, or
opulence; and from twenty to forty among the first circle. I have known
instances far beyond even that monthly stipend: a few cases might be
adduced where not less than _a hundred rupees_ have been given! As that
corresponds with £l50. per annum of British currency, a sum which all
below princely magnificence could but indifferently afford, it may be
concluded, that, in the East, as well as in the West, there are to be
found individuals who think no expence too great, when their appetite
and taste are to be indulged.

The _Sircar_ is a genius whose whole study is to handle money, whether
receivable or payable; and who contrives either to confuse accounts,
when they are adverse to his view; or to render them most expressively
intelligible, when such would suit his purpose. These rogues are pretty
nearly the same as the Madras _debashes_: I believe all, who have
experienced the kind offices of either, will readily confess that no
compleater knaves are to be found in any part of the world. And this
under the most sedulous appearance both to please, and to serve, those
whom they are about to plunder. As _peons_ and _hirkarahs_ rise to be
_chobe-dars_, and _jemmadars_; and as _khedmutgars_ succeed to the
appointment of _kansamahs_; so may _sircars_ in time become _banians_,
_dewans_, _darogahs_, _gomastahs_, &c. Many of them even set up as
_shroffs_, or bankers, and establish such an extent of credit as would
astonish the inhabitants of Lombard Street. There are _sircars_ of all
ages, and of all degrees; from the shrewd lad of twelve, to the
superannuated monster, whose sixty, or seventy, years of worldly
intercourse, may be considered a record of fraud and extortion.

Nothing can perhaps be more forcible in exposing the characteristic
traits of _sircars_, than the fact of their ordinarily tendering their
services to young men, under the declaration that _they seek for no
pay_; nor for remuneration in any form, beyond the _pleasure_ of laying
out master’s money to the best advantage. I should premise, that, on
account of the immense variety of coins current in India, it is
customary, whenever any large sum is to be received, to employ an
examiner, called a _podar_; who, having confined his pursuits to the
acquirement of a most accurate knowledge of their several values, at
once decides upon the correctness of a payment. The precision,
quickness, and touch, of these persons, are beyond description. I have
been assured that many of them can, even in the dark, distinguish
between several kinds of money, whose size and weight bear no great
dissimilarity: besides, even those coins that bear the same value, and
come from the same mint, differ greatly in both those particulars; some
being broad and flat, like a shilling, though not defaced; while others
are more dumpy, and, though of purer metal, not so ponderous.

Many of the _sircars_, especially of late years, unite the office of
_podar_ with their own business. This, it will be supposed, should
enable them to secure their employer from loss, but is, on all
occasions, made the means of injuring both his pocket and his credit, by
passing inferior money at an unjust value into his chest, and issuing it
at a _less_ rate, if to a native colleague; but, if to an European, then
at a _higher_ value; the _sircars_ of each joining in the device: when
circumstances fit, this operation is reversed. I am prepared for the
following obvious question; viz. ‘If the master knew the rate at which
the money was paid to him, how happens it, that, after entering it in
his books, he allows it to be paid away at a different, or, at least, at
a lower, rate, than that at which it was received?’

This query should appear sufficient to stagger any person to whom it
might be put; but to a _sircar_ would not prove in the smallest degree
difficult of solution. He immediately tells master, that the _batta_,
_i.e._ the exchange, is altered, and, in saying that much, he may have
the truth on his side. I have already hinted at the fluctuations that
take place in all coins, whether gold, silver, or copper. This up and
down price of money, if I may use the expression, is managed by the
_shroffs_, or native bankers; who invariably, except on particular
holidays, meet towards midnight, compare accounts, and settle the value
of money for the succeeding day. Notice is accordingly circulated in an
underhand manner; and, throughout the great town of Calcutta, covering
perhaps three thousand acres, and well peopled, the whole of the parties
concerned, nay, even the ordinary retail shop-keepers, are apprized of
the alteration. Sometimes the exchange is allowed to remain at the same
rate for a few days in succession: this rarely takes place except when a
particular currency, say silver, is to be bought up at a low rate, such
as 58 or 60 _pice_ to a _rupee_, to be sold again when the rate has
been, for that purpose, raised to 64, or 65. So soon as either purpose
is accomplished, the exchange alters by the same invisible means.

The number of _pice_ in a _rupee_ constitutes its value; as the number
of rupees and _annas_ do that of a _gold mohur_; which, if _sicca_, from
the Calcutta mint, ought invariably to pass at sixteen rupees. But the
regulations of government have too often been openly trespassed, in the
most daring manner. This was carried to such a pitch, that the whole of
the silver currency at one time disappeared; the _shroffs_ and _sircars_
had bought it all up; so that persons in business were induced to offer
premiums for silver; without which mercantile concerns could not
proceed. It is a well known fact, that, for some months, the troops at
the presidency were paid in gold, issued to them at par; but which,
owing to the infamous combinations above described, would not pass in
any part of the market, unless a deduction of one-eighth was allowed!
_Sircars_ contrive to defraud all parties with whom their masters may
have concerns; thereby disgracing them on many occasions, especially in
payment of card-debts; which are soon distinguished by this _Argus_

Besides the advantages thus made, the _sircars_ derive a very
considerable emolument from all purchases made in the markets, of
whatever description. Whenever an European, even in person, buys goods
of a native, his servants have, from time immemorial, a claim on the
vendor of half an anna in every rupee the latter receives. This, which
is called _dustooree_, or customary gift, being a thirty-second of the
disbursement, amounts to no less than 3⅛ per cent.: it may therefore be
imagined what immense sums these gentry must pocket, when serving
gentlemen who have large establishments to support, and whose servants
are numerous: for even from the very domestics does the _sircar_ claim
the above gratuity, when paying their wages!

Military persons have little occasion for such servants; therefore,
unless in eligible circumstances, and of a very liberal disposition, a
_sircar_ will not think it worth his while to serve an officer on a
small salary. But it is quite different where a young civilian is in
question; to him the rogue’s purse is instantly opened; not only with a
view to make him, like the steward in Gil Blas, pay interest for his own
money, but under the hope of attaching firmly to the rising sun, and
ultimately of being _banian_, _naib_, _dewan_; of course, ascending to
the very acmé of prosperity. Those _sircars_ who are employed by
mercantile, or manufacturing persons, derive the advantages attendant on
the foregoing transactions in a less degree than when serving an
individual divested of such concerns; but they gradually acquire large
property, and are often placed in situations of great trust; such as
_darogahs_ and _gomastahs_. In such establishments they are, for the
major part, relatives to the _banian_, who assists with his purse on
emergency; therefore, though they may feel the necessity of paying
attention to their ostensible employer, they pay their court, under the
rose, chiefly to the former. The rates of wages are, in this branch,
progressive; some receiving a bare livelihood, such as from five to
eight rupees monthly; while those of longer standing, or who are more in
favor with the _banian_, sometimes receive from fifteen to thirty.

The dress of _sircars_ is extremely simple: their heads are shaved, with
the exception of one lock, about two inches in diameter at the base,
which is held sacred, and is tied in a kind of loose bow-knot. The
turban is white, of fine muslin, wrapped perhaps fifteen or twenty times
round the head, leaving the crown nearly bare, and the lock of hair
protruding. Round the waist a piece of cloth is passed, so as to allow
freedom of motion; then tucked in, in a peculiar manner, and one skirt,
passing between the thighs, is, in like manner, secured behind. Unless
in cold weather, the body and arms are left entirely bare; in moderate
seasons, they are covered by means of a cloth sewed into two breadths,
thrown over the shoulders: a chintz quilt is likewise worn at times.

For the convenience of keeping accounts, and of making payments, one
_sircar_ is allowed by the Company to each battalion of sepoys. It is
surprizing to see how these men, whose utmost legal receipts can amount
to only twenty rupees monthly, get forward, and become possessed of
property. Much money goes through their hands, and, as before observed,
every finger is a file which takes off a trifle _en passant_. This class
of servants rarely associate, in any degree, with the others; they form,
in fact, a separate tribe of Hindus, and devote their time to one
object, viz. making money. They generally read English well enough to
know the contents of a bill; but, in giving receipts, usually sign their
names in the Bengallee character: few of them undertake to write English
accounts; but, in their own way, which appears to us prolix, they are
extremely regular. The superiors seldom touch a pen, leaving that office
to those servants who are entitled to confidence, and causing the less
expert to act as collecting clerks; an employ in which they are
eminently punctual, as most young debtors throughout the East must
acknowledge. It is a peculiar circumstance, that scarcely an instance
has been known of a _sircar_ absconding with the money entrusted to him:
from this, however, I exempt the vile crew of tide waiters, who are by
no means scrupulous; though, for the sake of perpetuating their game,
which any open act of felony might break up, they prefer extracting the
money from the novice’s pocket, by means of extortion and fraudulent

Considering him as being at least attached to, if not of the very same
species, as the knave just described, I shall give a short description
of the _Podar_; of whom mention has already been made. He is not always
an attendant at an office, though, in great concerns, his presence is
indispensable. He either receives from four to ten rupees per month, or
is paid, by a very small centage, for whatever money he examines. We
often admire the dexterity of our money-tellers; but the _podar_, who
counts by fours, (_i.e._ _gundahs_,) finishes the detail of a thousand
in so short a time, as would cause even our most expert money-tellers to
stare with astonishment! It is only mixed money that is counted, when
large sums are passing; most payments are first sorted, when, the
several kinds of rupees being made into parcels, are weighed, fifty at a
time: in this manner, a lac (_i.e._ a 100,000) may be speedily
ascertained; each parcel of fifty being kept separate, until a certain
number is completed: when the whole are accounted, and removed into
bags, to make way for further operations. Here it may be proper to
remark, that no _sircar_ will take charge of money when his employer
keeps the key: nor is it, on the other hand, customary for the _sircar_
to have the entire charge. So many tricks have been played by changing
the coin, that it is now a general rule for every treasure-chest to have
two large padlocks, of different construction; the _sircar_, or
_tusseel-dar_ (_cash keeper_,) receiving one key, and the master
retaining the other. This prevents aggression on either part, but is by
no means pleasing to the _banians_, though they affect to be highly
satisfied, because a command of specie will often enable them to make
very advantageous purchases in Company’s paper; but such a precaution
inevitably debars their access to master’s cash.

The _Cranny_, or clerk, may be either a native Armenian, a native
Portugueze, or a Bengallee: the former are not very common; the second
are more numerous; but the third are every where to be seen. It really
is wonderful how well many of the latter can write, without
understanding a word of what is written. They have a steady hand, a keen
eye, and an admirable readiness in casting up accounts. Those who are
habituated to our mode of book keeping, profess to consider it greatly
superior to their own, but it is not a very easy matter to get them into
it. That multiplicity of fractions which prevails, in consequence of the
perpetual fluctuation in their currency, causes them to be very well
versed in that branch of arithmetic, and to produce the most correct
calculations. The rates of wages are different according to the
abilities of individuals; thus, a clever _cranny_ in a public office,
such as the auditor general’s, or the pay-master general’s, or the assay
and mint, may receive from forty to a hundred rupees monthly, while, in
mercantile houses, they rarely receive more than thirty, generally,
indeed, from ten to twenty; while many are glad to serve gratis, merely
for the purpose of an introduction to that line of employment; as well
as to perfect themselves in book keeping, and in a proper style of

The use these gentry make of English words, is often highly diverting:
they study synonymes very industriously; poring over Johnson’s
dictionary, and carefully selecting such terms, as appear to them least
in use; thinking that such must, of course, make finer language. The
following may serve as a specimen: it was written by a _cranny_ to his
master, in consequence of an exterior window shutter having been blown
down by a severe north-wester.

‘Honorable Sir,

      ‘Yesterday vesper arrive great hurricane; valve of little aperture
not fasten; first make great trepidation and palpitation, then
precipitate into precinct. God grant master more long life, and more
great post.

                                         I remain,

                                              Honorable Sir,

                                         in all token of respect,

                                              Master’s writer,

                                                     BISSONAUT METRE.’

‘P.S. No tranquillity in house since valve adjourn.—I send for carpenter
to make re-unite.’

Those unacquainted with the pedantry of Bengallee writers, may suspect
me of coining for the occasion; placing the above on a footing with
Smollet’s ‘Horse-spittle of anvil-heads,’ &c.; but I assure my readers,
that it is a literal transcript from a note of which the original was in
my father’s possession for many years; it is by no means so preposterous
as many that have, on account of their ridiculous diction, been
published in the Calcutta papers.

The dress of a Bengallee _cranny_ is exactly the same as that of the
_sircar_, of which tribe he may be considered a relative. The Portugueze
_cranny_, assumes the British dress; but the Armenian invariably retains
that of his own country, which is truly becoming. They shave their
heads, and wear black velvet bonnets, not unlike a mitre in form. Their
vests are of white linen, and reach down to their knees, so as not to
conceal the knee-bands of their small-cloaths. Their coats, or tunics,
are usually made of colored silk, for the most part purple, lilac,
crimson, or brown, and flow loosely rather below their vests; the
sleeves are loose, and there is no collar. They use also stockings and
shoes; and, when within doors, lay aside their black bonnets, wearing in
their stead white skull-caps, round like a small bowl, and often neatly
tamboured with colored silks. They have pockets both in their vests, and
in their small-cloaths: some wear girdles, under their tunics; and some
wear silken sashes.

Having disposed of those who pride themselves as appertaining to the
_nokeron_, it remains to detail the services, &c. of such as come under
the general designation of _chaukeron_.

The _Khedmutgar_, or, as he is often termed, the _kismutgar_, is, with
very few exceptions, a Mussulman: his business is to prepare all the
apparatus, and to wait at table. For this purpose, he repairs to the
house of his employer shortly after day-break; when, after seeing that
the breakfast apartment has been swept, and taking care that the bearers
have put on a kettle, he lays the cloth, with small plates, knives,
forks, spoons, &c. together with bread, butter, sweetmeats, &c. but
reserving all the tea-things for a side-table; at which, if there be no
_kansamah_, he officiates, making the tea, coffee, chocolate, cocoa, or
whatever is ordered. Where there is an European lady in the family, she
may, perhaps, have the cups, &c. set upon the breakfast table; but, on
account of the steam arising from the various preparations, this custom
is by no means general; and often, after being persevered in for a
while, is relinquished in favor of the bachelor’s mode; which is in
every respect, the most comfortable.

Every gentleman must have one _khedmutgar_; but the majority keep two,
or even more; not only adding thereby to their own expence, but
considerably incommoding every party in which they may dine. As every
gentleman, when at table, is attended by his own servants, it may easily
be conceived, that where two or more are posted behind each guest, a
living enclosure is formed, tending by its own exhalations, added to
those from their masters, and from the viands, to banish comfort, and to
render all artificial means of cooling the apartment perfectly abortive.
Hence it is usual, at all public entertainments, to admit but one
servant for each person invited: on some occasions a better plan is
adopted, namely, that of employing only as many servants as may be
deemed absolutely necessary: but this, though obviously judicious,
rarely gives satisfaction; habit having so strongly confirmed, what
luxury so very insagaciously invented. Gentlemen fixed at Calcutta, or
at any place, as residents, cause plates, knives, forks, spoons,
napkins, and glasses, to be laid for the whole company; but at all
military stations, each guest sends his servant with two plates, a soup
plate, a small plate for bones, &c. a tumbler, a long glass for claret,
and a smaller for Madeira, a table spoon, a dessert spoon, perhaps also
a marrow spoon, two or three knives and forks, and a napkin: these are
usually taken to the rendezvous by one of his _khedmutgars_, who
accompanies the _aub-dar_; the latter causing a bearer with a _bangy_,
or sling, to carry the apparatus for cooling water.

However luxurious the latter custom may seem, yet I do not know any more
gratifying, or more conducive to health. A glass of cold water is at
times invaluable!

When seated at table, the _khedmutgar_ stands behind his master,
changing his plates, &c. which are cleaned by servants without; and,
either keeping him cool by means of a small hand-fan, made of palm-tree;
or driving away the flies with a whisk, called a _chowry_, made of the
hair from a wild ox’s tail, or of a peacocks’ feathers, or of the roots
of grass, called _cuss-cuss_, &c. often, however, these offices are left
to a bearer, who likewise stands, behind his master’s chair, for that
purpose. After dinner the _khedmutgars_ retire to their own homes, and,
about sun-set, attend their respective masters, if they have remained;
but should they sup where they dined, as is customary where suppers are
laid, the attendance is repeated, the same as at dinner time; after
which the _khedmutgars_ go to their respective houses, without ceremony.
The pay of this menial varies from five, to perhaps ten, rupees monthly;
but the generality receive from six to eight. Much depends on the rank
of the employer, and whether the _khedmutgar_ is ever expected to
officiate as _kansamah_: such is, indeed, the case with the families of
single gentlemen, not in possession of large receipts; but the
officiating _khedmutgar_ is honored, almost invariably, by all the other
servants, with the title of _khansamah_.

Nor is such distinction always ill-bestowed; many of those who serve
under gentlemen of a liberal disposition, and who take pleasure in
keeping a good table, may fairly competite with, at least, half the
servants actually entitled to that designation, in all the knowledge
requisite to support its character. Few, however, of those who become
thus capable of managing all that appertains to domestic economy,
refrain from making attempts to enter the superior circle. Nor are there
wanting persons ready to seduce such good servants from the employ of
their acquaintances. About eight and twenty years ago, when it was the
fashion to wear the hair, both of ladies and of gentlemen, full dressed,
a good peruquier was an indispensable part of the establishment: the
great difficulty of procuring persons properly qualified, induced
several gentlemen to have lads instructed under those who were known to
be expert; this often cost from eighty to a hundred rupees (ten or
twelve guineas); but, in many instances, so soon as the pupils had
learned the business, offers were made clandestinely from other
quarters, sometimes by intimate friends of their masters; when some
little disagreement was started so as to give pretext for quitting. I
must remark, at the same time, that I believe the gentlemen of India are
more scrupulous, and more delicate, in matters of this nature, than
those in any other quarter: but we must not expect all to be perfect;
still less to be disinterested!

_Khedmutgars_ are, with few exceptions, the sons of _ayahs_, _dhyes_,
&c. in the service of European, or native, ladies: their first
introduction to the table commonly takes place when about eight, or
nine, years of age; at which period children in that quarter are usually
smart, intelligent, and well-featured. At first they attend only at
home; not receiving any wages, or so little as barely to suffice for
clothing: by degrees they become useful, and are allowed to attend
abroad. From this it may be concluded, that, too often, a kind of
compact, or coalition, takes place behind the curtain, not very
favorable to either the pocket, or the brows, of the employer. When we
consider the various opportunities both for peculation, and for
intrigue, possessed by _khedmutgars_ so initiated, we cannot refrain
from condemning that practice, which is too generally prevalent; and
which we should suppose could not fail to produce some inquietude: such,
however, is rarely the case.

The dresses of _khedmutgars_ are generally of the same form; but the
quality of the cloth, the length of the skirts, and sleeves, and the
trimmings, are matters of great consequence in the eyes of this vain
tribe. All endeavor to obtain _turbans_ and _cummer-bunds_ (_i.e._
waist-cloths) of the same color, and are not the less pleased if a
tassel of silver fringe be added to the outer end of the former. During
the hot season, a _coortah_, or vest, reaching at least to the knees, of
white calico, or of chintz, is worn; but, during the winter, one of
perpet, or other woollen of European manufacture, is held to be more
respectable. The long-drawers are ordinarily white, or of striped
gingham; though some great favorites, and debauchees, who pride
themselves on being favorites among the ladies, often wear a kind of
silk stuff, called _gool-budden_, such as is used by women above the
middle class, and denotes effeminacy, or a disposition to intrigue. The
origin of such a type of libertinism may commonly be traced to the
_haram_; probably to that of the fop’s own master.

The office of _Mosaulchy_, or flambeau-bearer, may be considered another
introduction, or rather an apprenticeship, to the foregoing. A lad
serving in this capacity should be agile, smart, and careful; having to
run for miles as fast as the ordinary rate of a carriage; he will find
abundance of work in cleaning boots, shoes, knives, dishes, &c. together
with a million of et ceteras, which fit him for the title of ‘Jack of
all trades.’ Many valuable articles in glass-ware and crockery, being
given to his charge, for the purpose of being washed, it is
indispensably necessary that his whole attention be devoted thereto.
During the time a lad remains as a _mosaulchy_, he may acquire much
experience relating to the duties of a _khedmutgar_: some are to be
seen, in the service of persons in rather low circumstances, acting in
both capacities, and carrying the umbrella; which is properly the duty
of a bearer: but, where the _mosaulchy_ performs the _khedmutgar’s_
duties, bearers are rarely kept. Few _mosaulchies_ are allowed more than
five rupees monthly, and then on the proviso of supplying the flambeaux
and the oil, where such are used. The general pay is about four rupees;
the master, as is now almost every where prevalent, using a lantern
instead of a _mosaul_, (or flambeau,) and supplying ends of wax candles,
or whole ones of tallow, for that purpose. Many of this description of
servants begin as _coolies_, or laborers, and gradually acquire
sufficient insight to be admitted into the services of non-commissioned
officers, &c.; whence they take the opportunity of removing into the
employ of gentlemen. Others start from the sepoy regiments, in which
they have served as _goorgahs_, or fags, to some native officer, &c.;
but these are more rare; the generality of our sepoys being Hindus, to
whom various domestic operations occurring in the families of Europeans
are obnoxious, on account of the nature of many aliments in use among
us. The _mosaul_, or flambeau, consists of old rags, wrapped very
closely around a small stick; it is generally about two feet in length,
and may be two inches and a half in diameter; an iron ring fits on, so
as to confine the fire within about an inch at the tip: being refreshed,
from time to time, with oil extracted from the sesamum, it burns with
great fierceness; as the cloth consumes, the ring is brought back, by
means of an old fork, thereby renovating the flame. The oil is either
carried in a glass bottle, to the embouchure of which a reed is fitted,
to prevent spilling; or it is contained in a brass vessel, made
expressly for the purpose, and thence called a _tale daunny_ (_i.e._
oil-pot,) which may hold nearly a quart.

The dress of a _mosaulchy_ consists of a turban, generally colored; a
short pair of drawers, reaching half way down the thigh, nearly the same
as the _jangheeahs_ of the native soldiery; and a cloth, wrapped round
the waist. But where this servant is at any time employed to wait at
table, he imitates the dress of the _khedmutgar_, so far as his pocket
may allow. Persons of distinction, among both Europeans and natives,
cause their _mosaulchies_ to carry what are called branch-lights. These
consist of a semi-circular frame of iron, supported on a centre stem, to
which the side ribs join; upon the circumference are five or seven
spikes, on each of which a small _mosaul_ is stuck. When they are all
lighted, and raised above the head, by means of the stem, they make a
great show. Commonly two, or, eventually, three branch-lights, may be
seen preceding a great personage, intermixed with his retinue: two or
more ordinary _mosauls_, or lanterns, are also carried near the
palanquin, to prevent the bearers from stumbling.

The next upon our list is the _Hookah-burdar_, or preparer of the pipe;
a domestic of wondrous consequence with many gentlemen, who give
themselves up, almost wholly, to the enjoyment of smoking. Some begin
before they have half breakfasted; whiffing away, with little
intermission, till they retire to rest: I know not of any custom which
becomes so habitual! It is inconceivable how distressed some are, in
consequence of their _hookahs_ not arriving in time particularly when on
a march: at such moments, nothing goes right: _hookah! hookah! hookah!_
seem to be the three indispensables towards happiness. Some few may
plead in apology, that, without its aid, they would be subject to an
irregularity, such as rarely fails to induce severe illness: when this
is the case, we cannot censure the practice, provided it be confined to
that duration which may produce the salutary stimulus; and which, it is
obvious, must be rather weakened, than aided, by the subsequent use of
smoke during the rest of the day. To so great an extreme is this
carried, that I have known more than one instance of two
_hookah-burdars_ being retained; one for the day, the other for the
night. Where such prevails, it may be rationally concluded the wages are
in proportion: in most services, these may be from ten, to fifteen,
rupees per month; occasionally somewhat less, but rarely exceeding;
except where excessive partiality for his pipe induces a gentleman to
give more, under the common error of expecting satisfaction in
proportion to the disbursement. To such an egregious excess has this
opinion led some persons, that I have heard of no less than one hundred
rupees per month having been given to a _hookah-burdar_. Yet, many
gentlemen, supposed to be judges, were unanimous in declaring, that such
high-priced preparations were very inferior to the generality of those
obtained at that moderate expence usually incurred by persons contenting
themselves with mediocrity.

In some instances, the whole expence lies with the _hookah-burdar_, who
receives such a sum as may, besides his wages, include tobacco, _gools_,
(or fire-balls,) and _chillums_, (or sockets for receiving the _towah_,
or tile,) on which the prepared tobacco is applied. Some even provide
the _snakes_, or pliable conductors.

With respect to the tobacco used for smoking, ‘_tot homines, tot
sententiæ_;’ in that particular few are to be found of the same opinion:
and among those that are, probably more than half are under the grossest
deception. The little village of Bilsah, in the Maharrattah country, has
been long celebrated, and it should seem not without reason, for the
fragrance of the tobacco raised around it. But the quantity of tobacco
sold annually throughout Bengal, where it produces from thirty to sixty,
and even eighty rupees per maund, (if ascertained to be genuine,) is
known to exceed, full an hundred fold, the amount of any crop ever
raised at Bilsah. The substitutes are various, but one kind, raised in
the _Bundelcund_ district, supplies the greater portion; many, indeed,
are of opinion that it is not inferior. May not its excellence be owing
to the practice, common in that quarter, of sprinkling the plants at
harvest time with a solution of molasses? We know that many fruits yield
but little of their flavor, until excited by the saccharine acid: the
raspberry may serve to coroborate my position. I have known that very
cheap kind of tobacco, the _Cuggareah_, which ordinarily sells for about
four rupees per maund, (of 82 lb.) rendered so mellow, and so fragrant,
by being worked up with molasses, and kept in close vessels for some
months, as absolutely to be admired even by persons who prided
themselves on never smoking any but the true Bilsah!

The usual mode of preparing tobacco for the _hookah_, is by first
chopping it very small; then, adding ripe plantains, molasses, or raw
sugar, together with some cinnamon, and other aromatics; keeping the
mass, which resembles an electuary, in close vessels. When about to be
used, it is again worked up well; some, at that time, add a little
tincture of musk, or a few grains of that perfume, others prefer pouring
a solution of it, or a little rose water, down the _snake_, at the
moment the _hookah_ is introduced: in either case, the fragrance of the
tobacco is effectually superceded; giving ample scope for the
_hookah-burdar_ to serve up rank _mundungus_, (as bad tobacco is
termed,) in lieu of the supposed, or perhaps the real, _Bilsah_.

The _hookah-burdar_ rarely fails to smoke of the best his master may at
any time possess; which, however highly perfumed, will rarely be strong
enough for his gratification: the deficiency is supplied by the
admixture of _bang_; a preparation from the leaves of the _ganjah_, or
hemp, (the _cannabis sativus_,) and is extremely intoxicating. The
leaves of that plant, when triturated with water, compose a drink of the
same tendency, known by the name of _subzy_, (_i.e._ green,) which is a
constant beverage among the more established sinners, who rarely fail,
towards nightfall, to take an ample dose, of either _bang_, _subzy_, or
_majoom_: the latter being sweetmeats impregnated with a decoction of
the _ganjah_, or hemp plant, much used by all debauchees, and too often
admitted within the sacred area of the _zenanah_, (or haram). The use of
any preparation of the _ganjah_, or hemp plant, is attended with much
opprobrium: like most intoxicating drugs and spirits, they, in the first
instance, excite to gaiety, but ultimately leave their victim in the
most deplorable state of stupefaction; the recovery from which is
attended with dreadful headache, ill temper, and hypochondria. Some
_hookah-burdars_ indulge freely in the use of musk, which never fails,
after a while, to produce considerable derangement of the nerves; and,
not unfrequently, that complete debility which is ever attended with the
greatest depressure of spirits.

A very common species of debauchery, in which I have known only one or
two gentlemen to indulge, is the incorporation of opium with the
prepared tobacco, previous to its being spread upon the _towah_; a
custom so repugnant to discretion, as to leave little room for
animadversion, the folly being usually of very short duration, and,
intermediately, attended with the most abject degradation. Many native
princes, and others, who have been hurled from their thrones, or from
offices of trust, are said to have been treacherously overcome by means
of opium thus administered: it appears to me very practicable, by such a
device, to lull a whole guard to sleep; for few can resist the offer of
a whiff when the _goorgoory_ (a small kind of _hookah_ used by the lower
classes) is passing round. Among such trash as is generally sold to the
poor, who care not much about the flavor, so long as they can draw
abundance of smoke, the opium would probably, if at all tasted, rather
give a zest, than prove an objection, to the indulgence. It is asserted,
that if a capsicum be put among the _gools_, or be mixed with the
tobacco, fatal consequences will ensue; an instant attack of apoplexy
taking place. This I have never known to be done; therefore am incapable
of producing any testimony, one way or the other: but it appears rather
doubtful whether any reasoning, or analogy, could be adduced in support
of the assertion; the acrid stimulus would, in all probability, be
dissipated, rendering the residue as inert as any other raw culinary
vegetable. Admitting it to be true, that a capsicum can produce such an
effect, a very strong argument against smoking may be adduced: no man
would, altogether, relish the idea of being so perpetually in the power
of a debauchee, who might, either through resentment, or by a small
bribe, be induced to bestow a _quietus_, without the possibility of a
discovery. In such case, the _hookah-burdar_ would have all the
advantages of an inimical cook, without the danger of his narcotic being

However complicated the _hookah_ may appear, it is, nevertheless,
extremely easy of construction. I have been told, that one has been made
in England; and I have seen a few in use, that were brought from Bengal.
The preparation of the tobacco with apples, in lieu of plantains, is
equally simple and approved. The _kaleaun_, or small kind of _hookah_,
used on the west coast of India, is certainly commodious: it has a
larger bottom, in general, than the Bengal _hookah_; though I have seen
some very small, with beautiful imitations of flowers, and of coral,
shells, &c. within them.

Some of the real Persian _kaleauns_ exhibit considerable ingenuity, and
taste, on the part of their manufacturers. In the centre of the
interior, bunches of flowers, beautifully colored, far too large, and
too delicate, to have been introduced at the embouchures of the vessels,
may be seen. Over these, the glass, which is rarely of the best quality,
though far superior to any I have seen of Hindostanee formation, has
evidently been cast, or blown. Many of these artificial bouquets are,
however, made piece-meal, as I discovered by examining their
construction, after their exterior cases had been accidentally broken:
such were found to consist of a cone of rosin firmly cemented to the
bottom of the _kaleaun_, by heat; it appeared that the several leaves,
branches, flowers, birds, &c. were introduced one after the other, in a
heated state, and applied to the rosin, in which they buried themselves
sufficiently to retain a firm hold. I likewise ascertained that some
models of Persian architecture were combined in the same manner; while,
on the other hand, others, especially small figures of great personages,
seated on thrones, elephants, &c. were never subjected to that device:
in the latter instance, some grapes were, however, joined in the manner
above described.

The _goorgoory_ is a very small kind of _hookah_, intended to be
conveyed in a palanquin, or to be carried about a house; the person who
smokes holding a vase-shaped bottom by its neck, and drawing through a
stiff, instead of a pliant, pipe, formed of a reed, arched into such a
shape as should conduct its end conveniently to the mouth. In this, the
pipe is rarely more than a yard in length: it is an implement very
generally used by the middling classes of natives; and especially among
the women in _harams_.

The _neriaul_ is nothing more than a cocoa-nut, with the pipe-stem
thrust through a hole at its top, and a piece of reed, about a cubit
long, applied to another hole rather lower down. The nut-shell, being
half filled with water, the air, or rather the smoke, we might suppose
would be cooled; but, from observation, I much doubt whether any change
takes place in the temperament of either. These little _hookahs_, (for,
however paltry, their owners do not omit to give them that designation,)
are often used without any reed to conduct the smoke; the lips being, in
that case, applied to the small lateral aperture into which the reed
should be fitted. One of these usually serves half a dozen men, who pass
it round with great glee: it often forms an appendage about the feet of
a palanquin, if the opportunity offers for securing it there, without
master’s knowledge.

The dress of a _hookah-burdar_, in the service of a gentleman of rank,
approaches nearly to that of a _chobe-dar_; a _jamma_ being generally
worn by such, but, in more humble situations, the _courtah_ of a
_khedmutgar_ is common. In the former situation, his office is confined
entirely to the _hookah_; while, in the latter, he is generally expected
to wait at table, at least, on occasion; but wherever the master, of
whatever rank, may go, thither the _hookah-burdar_ is expected to
proceed, so as to furnish the pipe in due season after dinner, or at any
other time it may be required. The ordinary periods for smoking, are,
after breakfast, after dinner, after tea, and after supper: such may be
deemed regular; and, if no more than two or three charges are used, at
each time, are by no means considered extraordinary. I have already
stated, that some gentlemen smoke day and night.

In such a climate, water is, during four months, at least, the main
spring of existence, both in the animal, and the vegetable, kingdom;
consequently, its supply becomes a profession, giving bread to
thousands. The person officiating in this capacity, if provided with a
bullock for the purpose of conveying two large leather bags, each
containing about twenty gallons, is called a _Puckaully_; but if he
carries the water himself, in the skin of a goat, prepared for that
purpose, he then receives the designation of _Bheesty_. The bags for a
_puckaully_ are made of strong hide, sewed very firmly at the front,
which is at right angles with the bottom, where the leather doubles,
and, consequently, has no seam; the back part, is diagonal, forming a
kind of spout behind, opposite the bullock’s knee; while the top is left
open, rather in a funnel form, for about a foot that the water may be
poured in: the spout is first rolled up, and then tied with a strong
strip of leather.

Every _puckaully_ carries also a small bag, that he may serve as an
ordinary ‘_hand-bheesty_’, when required. This is made of the skin of a
goat, taken off in a particular manner. Being put into a solution of
lime, the hair soon quits; when the inside fleshings are carefully
scraped off. A tan is then made of the bark of _baubool_, (mimosa),
_khut_, (catechu,) and alum.

_Bheesties_ are, with few exceptions, Mussulmans; it being contrary to
the Hindu code to touch either the carcases, or the skins, of animals
killed in any way. Hence, a Hindu of this profession is extremely rare,
and will seldom be discovered; owing to the necessity for change of
name, so as to pass for a Mussulman. Hindus will, nevertheless, drink of
the water supplied from the _mussock_, (or _bheesty-bag_); though they
are extremely partial to such as they can draw themselves, by means of a
line and metal pot, with which most travellers are provided. Some few
are, to be sure, extravagantly scrupulous, and will undergo excessive
thirst, rather than partake of the _bheesty’s_ supply. Dust, heat, and
fatigue, however, rarely fail, after a while, to overcome such ill-timed
fastidiousness. The _puckaullies_, or, as they are usually called, the
_bullock-bheesties_, replenish their bags by driving their cattle into
some _tank_, or pond, up to their knees, or even deeper, then baling in
the water, by means of a small leather bucket, holding about two quarts,
or more. The _hand-bheesty_ usually sinks his bag under water, when it
soon fills. When drawing water from the wells, the leather bucket,
called a _dole_, is used by both the _puckaully_ and the _hand-bheesty_.

The constant application of a wet skin to the cloaths on the hip,
necessarily disposes them to rot: on this account, most _bheesties_
provide themselves with a piece of cloth, called _karwah_, which, being
dyed in grain with a composition, whereof the solution of shell-lac
forms a large portion, resists the effects of the moisture, better than
any other substance in use for apparel. The wages of a _hand-bheesty_,
may be from four to five rupees, according to the agreement, whether he
is to furnish his own _mussock_, &c. which is the general mode. His
duty, during the cold season, and in the rains, is mere pastime; he has
then but little to do beyond the supply of water to horses, and filling
a few pots for culinary purposes, bathing, drinking, &c. all of which
might be done in half an hour. But in the summer months, his labors are
severe. Exclusive of the above requisitions, which are multiplied
ten-fold, he has to water the _tatties_, (or frames filled with grass,)
applied to the windward side of every house, for the purpose of cooling
the air; at that season not only uncomfortably hot, but absolutely
parching the skin of a person not habituated to its influence. By
day-break the _bheesty_ must begin to fill the several tubs, or immense
_nauds_, (pans) of earthen-ware, placed near the house; this being done,
he brings the _tatties_, and after wetting each thoroughly, as it lays
on the ground, places it against its respective aperture, supporting it
with props, and, during the whole day, indeed often till mid-night,
sprinkling it in every part; occasionally replenishing the vessels, as
their contents may be expended. Though it cannot be said to occur often,
yet, in some very dry seasons, it has been found necessary to continue
the _bheesties_ at their labor during the whole night. I recollect an
instance, in the year 1793, when the winds were, if any thing, hotter at
night than in the day time; rendering it absolutely necessary to keep
the _tatties_ up for a full week, or more; and demanding additional
_bheesties_, who performed the night duty.

All the houses in India are tarrased, not only on the basements, but on
every floor; therefore, previous to sweeping, the _bheesty_ sprinkles
the tarras slightly; thereby preventing the dust from rising when the
sweeper performs his part. He likewise waters the precincts of the
house, several times daily, but especially towards sun-set, when
gentlemen usually take their tea in the open air. If going any distance,
perhaps two or three miles, in their palanquins, during the prevalence
of the hot winds, it is common for persons of respectability to be
accompanied by their _bheesties_, who carry a small quantity of water in
their _mussocks_; therewith sprinkling the _tatties_ applied to the
sides of the vehicle; the interior, which but for this would be
insufferably hot, is thereby rendered fresh and cool. Those who do not
take _bheesties_ with them, have their _gutta-topes_, (or palanquin
covers,) which are ordinarily made of the _karwah_ before described,
well soaked in water before they set out: this, though not so effectual
as the foregoing mode, is no bad substitute.

Water, when dashed out from the end of a _mussock_, or _bheesty-bag_,
would be apt to penetrate into the interior of a palanquin; and as its
expenditure, while proceeding any distance, should be economically
managed, a very simple device is in use, which effectually answers every
purpose; namely, the introduction of a small rose-head, similar to those
affixed to the spouts of garden watering-pots, which being firmly
secured within the neck of the _mussock_, by means of the leather throng
always attached to that part, divides the water more minutely, and
checks its too abundant supply; at the same time that it causes the
distribution to be more general and equal.

_Tatties_ are made of the roots of that long grass of which most of the
jungles in India consist, and which correspond exactly with the Guinea
grass, once so ridiculously sent to the East as a great acquisition; the
fibres are of a rusty brown color, devious in their direction, and may
be from ten to twenty inches in length: we see among us cloaths brushes,
and carpet brooms, made of it. The Hindostanee name is _kuss-kuss_, and
the general price may be about four rupees per maund, (of 82 lb).

The frame, in which this material is to be enclosed, is made of split
bamboo, chequered into squares, of about four inches each way, and in
the whole sufficiently extensive to overlap the exterior of the door, or
window, to which it is to be applied, at least six inches, or perhaps, a
foot, at the sides and above. The _kuss-kuss_ is then placed very
regularly on the bamboo frame, as it lies on the ground, in the same
manner as tiles; each layer being bound down, under a thin slip of
bamboo, extending the full breadth of the _tatty_. The great art is to
make the _tatty_ neither too thick, which would exclude the wind; nor
too thin, as it would then let the dust pass through, without rendering
the interior sufficiently cool. I found, after much experiment, that a
maund of _kuss-kuss_, applied so as to cover about a hundred square
feet, answered extremely well. But it is best to have one or two
_tatties_ made rather thin; so as to apply in case of light winds: when
it blows hard, these may be applied double; one at the back of the
other. At such times, the interior of a house will be very cool;
sometimes rather too much so; for the great evaporation caused by the
heated air’s passage through the cold medium, produces perfect

In the western provinces, and other parts of India, _tatties_ are
frequently made of a short, prickly bush, that thrives during the
hottest months on sandy plains, especially in places inundated during
the rainy season. This shrub is called, _jewassah_; its leaves are not
unlike, but not so numerous, nor of so deep a green, as those of rue. It
is extremely prickly, being every where furnished with spines about the
size of a pin. When fresh, the _jewassah_ is most pleasing to the eye,
and its scent is equally agreeable; but, after the first day, its
verdure disappears, and the whole house is filled with its leaves, and
its thorns. Hence, the _kuss-kuss_, which, when fresh, is rather
fragrant, though the scent is somewhat terraceous, is usually preferred
in making those _tatties_ which roll up, so as to be particularly
applicable to palanquins, and are called _cheeks_; wherein nothing but
_kuss-kuss_ is ever employed: where this root cannot be procured, or
when in the early part of the hot season, little has come to market,
common grass, pared from the soil, or even small boughs, straw, &c. are
occasionally used to fill between two frames of bamboo: they answer
tolerably when well watered; but, on account of their disposition to
rot, soon become objectionable: _kuss-kuss_ will keep for years.

Very few _puckaullies_, or _bullock-bheesties_, are retained in the
service of individuals; such are usually attached to the establishments
of barrack-masters, and quarter-masters. They answer admirably for the
supply of water at the soldiers’ quarters, and at the hospitals; to
which _tatties_ are allowed, at the public expence, during the hot
season. In most cases, the bullocks that carry the water, as well as the
leather bags, appertain to the establishment, and the driver receives
only the pay of a _hand-bheesty_; where he supplies the whole, his pay
is from ten to twelve rupees per month.

The _Babachy_, or cook, is a servant who may fairly claim very
considerable approbation, since he prepares most sumptuous dinners,
although he never tastes any of the viands while in a state of
preparation; and is, besides, often put to his wits to guard against the
joint attacks of dust, wind, rain, sun, and birds of prey. In a regular,
settled family, it is true he may have every convenience afforded him;
such as a substantial and spacious kitchen, with fire-place according to
the Indian style; a range of stoves, a scullery, apparatus of all sorts,
&c. &c. But when on a march, the case is widely different; he must then
turn to with his mattock, and dig a number of holes, to receive his
fuel; which is usually green wood, or dried cow-dung; he must make
_choolahs_, or fire places, by placing three lumps of earth, kneaded
into a stiff paste, for each _choolah_, so as to support the boiler it
is to receive; he must burn his wood to embers, over which his meat is
to be roasted, by means of a small spit; perhaps made of slit bamboo,
but if of iron, with a crank at one end, whereby to turn it, as it rests
upon two _dogs_, or iron spikes, driven into the ground, a few feet
asunder; he must, in all probability, kill and flay a kid, or two or
three fowls; some for curry, others for roasting, &c.; and, perhaps,
after all, he may have to turn the spit himself; occasionally looking to
the contents of the several boilers, &c.

The fixed roasting place in a permanent kitchen is generally made of two
inclined bars of iron, about four or five feet in length, set sloping
against a wall, at an angle of perhaps forty degrees. Each of these bars
is furnished with eight or ten hooks, in any suitable pair of which the
spit is turned by a boy: the spaces under them, that is to say, the
triangle on each side, are filled with masonry, so that the heat may be
retained, and the embers be kept within certain bounds.

For roasting in this manner, the embers are divided lengthwise, leaving
a vacancy, or kind of trough, under the line of the spit, wherein a
metal platter is sometimes set, to receive the dripping, which is
returned to the meat by a bunch of feathers, (generally those from the
wings of the fowls just killed,) tied to the end of a short stick. This
little neat, _cleanly_, and cheap dripping-ladle, answers admirably; it
being in the power of the _babachy_ to baste any part with great
precision. I know not any thing in the culinary way, that proves more
uncomfortable to delicate stomachs than the sight of this part of the
process; unless it be the very common practice of preparing toast, by
means of melted butter laid on either with the above implement, or with
a piece of old rag! As for straining soup, &c. through dirty clouts,
that is considered as a matter of course; therefore, after a full
conviction that it is so, and that the soup is well flavored, very few
exceptions are made.

Notwithstanding such _unpicturesque_ operations, the dinner, when
brought to table, looks well, and tastes well: appetite, at that time,
supersedes daintiness, and prevents the imagination from travelling back
to the kitchen; though, to be sure, the number of flies at times found
in the sauces, will occasion a disposition to enquire how they got
there, and whence they came! These obnoxious visitors rarely fail to
visit the purlieus of the _balachy’s_ camp; where they assemble in
swarms; not only covering the garbage, which usually lies but a few
paces distant, but settling on the meat, or visiting the stew-pots, &c.
where they are overcome by the heat, or fixed by the dripping, &c. Flies
may, however, be picked out; but those shoals of dust that skim during
the middle of the day, often render the whole dinner absolutely
unacceptable. I have been in situations where, although a large table
cloth was spread over the knives, forks, &c. as laid for dinner, there
has been collected near a pound of sand underneath; while the upper
cloth was really covered full a quarter of an inch in depth: those who
have been stationed at Lucknow, during the hot season, cannot but
confirm my assertion. This never can be altogether obviated in moveable
camps; but, when fixed for a while, it is usual to set up mats, or
_konauts_, (which are walls of cloth, kept upright by ropes and sticks,)
on the windward side; whereby the inconvenience may be considerably
lessened: but sometimes a _b’hoot_, or whirlwind, comes suddenly, and
not only be-grits the whole of the cookery, but whisks away the fences,
embers, &c. in an instant!

The boilers in general are made in the country, of copper, tinned; in
shape not unlike the common cast-iron pots used throughout the North,
without feet, and with the addition of a flat rim projecting about an
inch outward, serving both to steady a kind of inverted lid, and, as
they have no handles, for the _babachy_ to apply two wet rags, wherewith
to put the vessel off, and on, the _choolah_. Tinning is performed by
persons who make a livelihood thereby; they receiving a certain sum,
from one to two rupees per score, for the several pieces, counting
boilers, lids, &c., according to their size. The _kully-ghur_, or
tinman, uses but few utensils; he has the vessels well scoured, and
then, by means of powdered rosin, gives the interior a coating, scarcely
distinguishable to the sight, or touch. Some use no rosin; others employ
borax; but, whatever the medium may be, or whether there be none, the
vessel is heated sufficiently, and equally, over embers, when the tin,
being thoroughly melted, is kept rubbing round the interior, with a
large piece of fine cotton wool, so long as any will adhere: the vessel
is then set to cool.

It cannot require pointing out, that the above mode is retained in vogue
entirely by the cheapness, and expedition, with which it is done; were
it otherwise, its want of durability, could not fail to give the
preference to some more permanent, and less soluble, preparation. But it
happens, that tinning can be performed in almost every town; and, that
there is rarely occasion to have recourse thereto more than once in two
or three months; when a score, of good sized pieces, may be done for as
little money as would be charged, by one of our artizans, for tinning a
very moderate-sized kettle. Some gentlemen use tin boilers, sent from
this country; but, though certainly devoid of the inconvenience, and
danger, attendant upon a want of tinning, such are highly objectionable,
in consequence of their being so soon burnt through, or rusted, when
laid by: notwithstanding the generality of _babachies_ adopt the
precaution of smearing the bottoms of most vessels, but of these in
particular, with fine clay, sufficiently diluted to be laid on thin and
smooth. Our cooks at home might, perhaps, not do amiss, were they to
adopt that excellent plan.

The _babachy_ has nothing characteristic in his apparel; he is generally
more of a sloven than of a beau, and may often be mistaken for a
_mosaulchy_. In some families, _mates_, or assistants, are allowed, who
do the drudgery, and whose pay is often included in that of his
superior; in which case, four rupees are the common allowance, though
the poor mate seldom receives more than half that sum; the cook-major
adding the residue, as a perquisite, to his own wages, which may be
stated at from six to twelve rupees, according to ability. As in the
case of _kansamahs_, and _hookah-burdars_, a few instances may be
adduced of exorbitant salaries; but we may generally take the single
cook at eight rupees, and the mate at four. Where there is much work, as
in taverns, &c., from fifteen to twenty rupees are sometimes given
monthly to the head _babachy_.

The _Durzy_, or tailor, however strange it may appear to those who never
left England, is an indispensable domestic in every part of India. It is
to be recollected, that all such branches of servitude are there filled
by males; except for the _zenanah_, or haram, where there may be from
two to four females; all exclusively attached to the lady. These know
nothing of needle-work; not so much as to enable their hemming a
petticoat. Under such circumstances, the only alternative is to employ a
sempster, who understands cutting out, and making, waistcoats,
small-cloaths, pantaloons, shirts, &c.: many, indeed, can make a very
tolerable coat, if furnished with a pattern. The _durzy_ is invariably
expected to be proficient in whatever relates to the apparel of native
women, as well as to be a competent judge of the value of different
kinds of cloths made in the country; nor is it less necessary, that he
should know the exact quantity of materials requisite for the several
parts of dress. All this science is to be had, at the average rate of
seven or eight rupees monthly; the _durzy_ finding his own needles and
threads. _Durzies_ capable of making gowns, &c. for European ladies,
being scarce, and, as I have said in speaking of _kansamahs_, much in
request, double the latter sum may always be earned by one of moderate
skill in that branch. The inferior class of _durzies_, called
_keemah-dozes_, who do no fine work, but principally are employed in
tent-making, rarely earn more than four rupees monthly: or, if paid by
the day, not more than three and a half.

The various pretexts under which the _durzy_ obtains admission into the
_zenanah_, added to the constancy of his attendance at the house, unless
when any purchase is to be made, gives him an admirable opportunity for
carrying on intrigue; for which the whole tribe are notorious: hence, if
any cause of suspicion appears, the _durzy_ is the first object of
jealousy; when it generally turns out, that, if not the principal, he is
accessary, as a go-between.

As a tailor is immediately distinguished among us, so is the _durzy_ in
India instantly ascertained by his gait. Some are personable men, but
speedily become emaciated by debauchery; in which their liberal wages
enable them to indulge. Yet they are, on the whole, excellent workmen;
finishing apparel of all sorts in a remarkably neat manner, and often
fitting with great exactness: but they are devoid of invention; mostly
following old patterns, and rarely suggesting the smallest improvement.
The dress of a _durzy_ much resembles that of a _khedmutgar_; but, in
the hot season, the former wear no coortahs, being bare from the waist
upwards; sometimes substituting a small cap, (worn only by Mussulmans,)
for the turban, which is usually compact and neat.

The _Doby_, or washerman, is also exclusively a domestic, washing for
only one family; by which it should be understood, that, not only his
master’s linen of every description, but the _zenanah_ apparel is given
to him to wash, and to iron. Sometimes, however, the latter operation is
performed by an _Istree-wallah_, or ironer; yet this is rare; only
taking place in very large families, or in large towns, such as
Calcutta, Madras, &c. where proximity of residence renders such a resort
convenient: none but box irons are used; and of these a large portion
are heated by means of embers shut up in their cavities. The _doby_ who
washes for a single gentleman, will sometimes, at the risk of severe
punishment, or of being discharged, take the linen of low Europeans, or
Portugueze, in hand clandestinely: many have, indeed, been detected in
letting out the linen given to their charge. Hence, it is needful to
keep a watch over these folks, who commonly take all the foul articles
every week, bringing home at that time what they received at the former
delivery. The wages vary according to the labor; but from six to ten
rupees may be taken as the standard; the _doby_ finding soap, and every
part of the apparatus, without any demand upon, or reference to, his
employer. When an European lady is in the family, some encrease must be
made to the pay, on account of the great additional labor; nothing but
white being worn at any time. In such case, it is found expedient to
have a small apartment appropriated, in which the finer articles may be
got up by the lady’s maid.

The usual process of washing in India, is, first to boil all the cloaths
in a large earthen _naud_, mixing plenty of soap, or ley, or sudjee,
(fossile alkali,) or wood-ashes, with the water. This operation is
called the _butteah_; the cloaths are then well rinsed, either in a
large tank, or in a running stream, when they are again rubbed with
soap, and laid in a heap to soak. After a few hours they are washed
again, and, being folded up into whisps, or bundles, of a convenient
size, are beaten forcibly on a board, cut into deep transverse grooves,
and placed aslant in the water; in which the _doby_ stands immersed up
to his knees. After dashing each bundle several times on the board, he
opens and rinses it in the water; repeating the dashing, as though he
were beating the board with a flail, until every part of the linen
appears to be duly cleansed. If a board is not at hand, (though every
_doby_ has at least one, of about four feet long, two broad, and four
inches thick, with a stout stick wherewith a prop it,) any smooth stone
is made to answer. It should seem, that this must be a most destructive
method; but experience proves, that the fine calicoes of India will,
even under such apparently rough usage, wear longer than our stout
linens washed in tubs, &c.

Every _doby_ has his drying lines, which are fixed at each end to pins
driven into the ground, and then sustained by cross-sticks, on the forks
of which the ropes rest. In the rainy season, the cloaths are hung
somewhere under shelter, where they soon dry; though not so quick as in
the summer months; during which the heaviest articles may be dried in a
few minutes. The _doby’s_ wife, (called the _dobin_,) usually assists in
every part of the process; as do also such of his children as are of an
age to be useful. This sect is very peculiar in many instances, it, and
that of the _comars_, or potters, being the only two privileged to ride,
or even to carry burthens, upon asses, without suffering the most
ignominious degradation: hence, those animals are jocularly termed,
’_dobies’s palfreys_.’ The dress of the _doby_ is generally very plain,
consisting of a turban, a _dotee_, (or waist-cloth,) and a _chudder_,
(or sheet,) worn loosely over the body in cold weather. When _dobies_
are at work, their lungs aspirate strongly, like those of paviors; which
produces a very singular effect; especially if, as is very often the
case, several of these board-thrashers are assembled at the same piece
of water.

_Dobies_ are very generally Hindus; and ought, agreeably to the ordinary
tenets of that religion, to refrain from touching any animal substance,
except leather, when used in the construction of shoes, and implements
of war; but a particular exception is made in favor of this _cast_, (or
sect,) who could not otherwise use soap, when made of suet; though, by
far the greater portion of that made in Hindustan, is manufactured with
oil expressed from the sesamum.

When on a march, the _doby_ in each gentleman’s service loads his
cloaths, wet or dry, upon his camels, bullocks, cart, &c.: the servant’s
own apparatus being conveyed on a donkey; which, in general, is
tolerably well burthened with the wife, or some young children, the
washing-board, its prop, the drying lines, the sticks, box irons, &c.
&c.; forming, in the whole, an abundant accumulation of moveables for so
small an animal as an Hindostanee jack-ass; which is seldom to be seen
half the size of the common breed we have in England.

A _Mohout_ is a person employed to feed, and to drive, an elephant: most
of this profession are Mussulmans, and very dissipated in their conduct.
Except at particular periods, on a long march for instance, the _mohout_
has little to do; all the drudgery that relates to bringing in fodder on
the elephant, for its own use, as well as taking the animal to water,
rubbing it down, oiling its forehead, painting its cheeks with
vermilion, or with ochre, putting on the pads, clearing away the dung,
with a variety of such matters, being in general done by the _mate_, or
deputy, who is often nothing more than a _cooly_, or common laborer,
employed for this especial business, but who ultimately succeeds to the
charge of an elephant. _Mohouts_ receive from three to six rupees
monthly: the lowest rates of wages being confined to those countries
where elephants are caught; and the highest attainable only in the
service of gentlemen of rank; who require this, as well as all other of
their domestics, to dress more correctly than such as appertain to
persons in less opulent, or less dignified, circumstances.

The duty of a _mohout_, when actively employed, is to sit upon the neck
of his elephant, bare-footed, and furnished with an instrument, called a
_haunkus_, (or driver,) wherewith to guide the animal. This is commonly
about twenty, or perhaps twenty-four inches in length, generally made of
iron, though some have wooden hafts; the tip is pointed, and, about six
inches below it, is a hook, welded on to the stem, forming nearly a
semi-circle, whose diameter may be four or five inches. At the butt of
the shaft, a ring is let through, for the purpose of fastening the
_haunkus_ to a line; the other end of which is fastened to some soft
cord, about half an inch in diameter, passing very loosely eight, or
ten, times round the elephant’s neck, and serving, in lieu of stirrups,
to keep the _mohout_ from falling over to the right or left, on any
sudden motion, as well as to retain his feet in their due direction.

When the elephant is to be urged forward, the point of the _haunkus_ is
pressed into the back of his head, while the _mohout’s_ toes press under
both the animal’s ears: when it is to be stopped, the _mohout_ places
the hook part against the elephant’s forehead; and, throwing his weight
back, occasions considerable pain, which soon induces to obedience: when
it is to turn to the left, the _mohout_ presses the toes of his right
foot under the right ear of the elephant, at the same time goading him
about the tip of the right ear; thereby causing the animal to turn its
head, and to change its direction: to turn to the right, _vice versâ_.
When the elephant is to lie down, in order to be laden, the _haunkus_ is
pressed perpendicularly upon the crown of the head: but most elephants,
after a year or two, become very well acquainted with the words of
command; obeying them readily, without being mounted, or even

Each _mate_, or _cooly_, is generally provided with a cutting bill,
called a _d’how_, for the purpose of lopping off the lesser branches of
_barghuts_, _peepuls_, and other trees, in common use as fodder. An
elephant will usually carry as much of these on his back, as he can
consume in two days; but it is not customary to load more than will last
for one day, when on a march; as it would be superfluous. Boughs, as
thick as a man’s arm, are very easily chewed by this stupendous animal;
which often uses one, of full a hundred weight, to drive the flies from
its body.

Besides the _d’how_, each _mate_ is furnished with a spear, about six or
seven feet in length, having a long pyramidal blade, ornamented at its
point with a tassel, and armed at its other extremity with a blunter’s
pike: the former is used to urge the animal to exertion, the _mate_
goading his hind quarters; the latter serves to stick the implement
upright in the ground, or to press upon the elephant’s arm while the
load is putting on, or the rider ascending into the howdah.

The dress of the _mohout_ is, in most points, similar to that of the
_khedmutgar_; and that of the _mate_ is, if any thing, but little better
than the ordinary costume of poor laborers, though their pay may be
rated from three to four rupees per month: in those provinces where
elephants are caught, provisions are extremely cheap; there, few _mates_
receive more than a rupee and a half, or two rupees. The occupation of a
_mohout_ is considered by no means conducive to longevity; a premature
decrepitude generally disqualifies after a few years of service. This is
supposed to arise from the motion of the elephant; but may, perhaps very
justly, be attributed to the too great intervals of leisure, which are
generally passed in conviviality.

The health of a _Surwan_, or camel-driver, is yet more subject to early
decay, than that of a _mohout_: the motion of this animal being most
oppressively severe; causing such a vibration of the loins as is
attended with great pain, and often with suppression of urine, together
with tenesmus, especially in tender persons not accustomed thereto. It
is said to be less severe when trotting, than when walking: the former I
never tried; being perfectly satisfied with a _gentle ambulation_, which
made every joint of my vertebræ crack at the time, and ache for some
hours after. The dress of this class resembles that of a _mosaulchy_ of
the superior order; the pay may be from four to five rupees, if in
charge of only two camels; but, if three, it is usual to allow a rupee
more. The duty consists in seeing the camels fed properly, for which
purpose the _surwan_ proceeds, every second or third day, to some
village, for chaff of various kinds: the usual quantity of _gram_, (a
kind of pulse wherewith laboring cattle are fed,) is given, part in the
morning, and part in the evening; or perhaps all at the latter time:
three _seers_, equal to about six pounds, are considered good keep.

Camels being rarely very tractable, especially when lustful, must be
approached with great caution: their bite is dreadful, not only from the
size of the mouth and the strength of the jaw, as well as the form of
the tushes, but because they rarely quit their hold. It often happens
that the same camel kills several _surwans_: probably, if there were
lords of the manor to claim such beasts as deodands, fewer accidents
would happen. The only mode, hitherto ascertained, of governing these
vicious animals, is, by boring a hole in the nostril, and passing
through it, from within, a piece of tough wood, with a knob about as
large as a nutmeg. A strong piece of line is then fastened to the outer
extremity of the wood, that, on being pulled, causes the camel to lie
down at pleasure. This contrivance, which is called _naukell_, keeps him
in tolerable order; though it is prudent to have a stout bludgeon, in
case of any attempt to seize. When camels are very vicious, it is common
to cut off their noses, so far as the gristle extends: this privation is
supposed to do much good; but I have seen numberless instances wherein
it totally failed; while, on the other hand, it greatly depreciated;
since few would like to purchase one bearing so obvious a type of

A good _surwan_ will always distinguish himself by the order of his
cattle, by their freedom from injuries in consequence of galling under
the saddle, and especially by the compact manner in which he places
whatever burthen is to be carried. This should never exceed six maunds
of 82lb each; though the Company require, in all their contracts, that
the camels furnished for their service should carry much more. Possibly,
on a soil suited to the camel’s foot, he may, on emergency, carry as far
as eight maunds, equal to no less than 656lb; but such must not be
expected to last. If the soil is boggy, half that weight will be found
sufficient; especially where slippery; for, when overladen, the animal
will, in such places, be very subject to ruin; his hind legs sliding
asunder, so as to bring the pelvis to the ground: this, which is termed
‘splitting,’ renders him unable to rise, or, if raised, to proceed, in
consequence of the violent injury sustained. On such an occasion the
animal’s throat is cut by some good Mussulman, who, as he performs that
operation, and during the time the blood is flowing, recites a prayer
and benediction, whereby the meat, which is esteemed a great delicacy,
is sanctified, and may be eaten.

The _Syce_, or groom, attends but one horse, and has attached to him an
under servant, whose business it is to provide grass for fodder, and to
do various jobs relating to cleanliness, &c.: this may be looked upon as
the extent of duty the latter has to perform while stationary; but, when
marching, the assistant, or, as he is called, the _Gaus-kot_, (_i.e._
grass-cutter,) has to carry the pickets, headstall, head and heel ropes,
curry-combs, cloathing, &c. &c. to the next place of encampment. The
labor is certainly severe, but is undergone, with tolerable alacrity,
under the hope of one day succeeding to the post of _syce_.

In every country a good groom is invaluable; but if any where more
particularly enhanced, it certainly is in India: the horses there being
invariably high spirited, from want of castration, and often becoming,
under the least provocation, or licence, incorrigibly vicious. There we
see gentlemen, when mounted, afraid to approach each other within ten or
twelve yards, lest their horses should begin fighting: some few have,
indeed, been tempted, by the supposed passiveness of their respective
steeds, to ride boot to boot; but rarely without experiencing some
dreadful misfortune; many legs having been thus broken! Although much
may depend upon the natural temper of a horse, still there will remain
much in the power of the _syce_. If he be timid, and the animal
spirited, the affair is soon over, by the latter gaining such an
ascendancy as to render him ungovernable. Being once let loose, and a
mare within sight, or scent, away goes the steed, completely
disqualified for future saddling.

It is inconceivable what control some _syces_ obtain over their horses,
which will allow the approach of no others. This, though it may be an
admirable mode of temporizing with a vicious beast, is often attended
with most ludicrous, or rather most distressing, circumstances; it being
very common to see persons sitting on horses from which they dare not
alight, until their own _syces_ may arrive, and, by securing the head,
with a _baug-door_, (or leading-halter,) grant master leave to quit the
saddle. This occurs so frequently as to cause no surprize; though it
often excites some merriment, not always pleasing to the sufferer.

When a person falls from his horse, the whole troop separate, lest the
stray animal should attack them: in such case, two or three active
_syces_ may prevent mischief; but, few will attempt to catch a horse
whose character for gentleness is not established. Every _syce_ is
provided with a strong cotton cord, rather thicker than a stout window
line, of several yards long, which he fastens to the left cheek of the
bit when leading, and does not loosen until his master has mounted;
when, by drawing a slip knot, the animal is liberated from the groom’s

In general, the line (_baug-door_) is affixed before dismounting: a
neglect of that precaution is frequently attended with unpleasant
consequences; for, to say the least, the horse will in all probability
gallop away to his stable, which may be some miles distant; leaving his
incautious rider to walk after him; not always very cool, either in
regard to the weather, or to his own state of mind.

In consequence of the immense number of gad-flies to be seen at all
times of the year, each _syce_ carries a whisk, made by fastening
horse-hair to a short stick, commonly lacquered in rings of alternate
colors. This implement, with which the flies are driven away, is called
a _chowry_, and may cost about sixpence, or eight-pence. A small sheet
of _karwah_, either double, or single, is usually thrown over the
_syce’s_ shoulder, or fastened around his waist, before he sets off to
accompany his master: this is carried to lay over the horse’s back, so
soon as given in charge to the groom, to prevent the accession of
dry-gripes; to which the animal would be subjected, if much heated, but
for that precaution, added to walking him about gently until perfectly
cool. Hence it will be seen, that no gentleman ever rides unless
accompanied by his groom; many of whom run remarkably fast, keeping up
for many miles with a gig going at a smart pace: by habit, they become
long-winded, and capable of enduring great fatigue. The dress of a
_syce_, taken generally, is a medium between the _khedmutgar_ and the
_mosaulchy_; while that of the _gaus-kot_ is rarely better than that of
a common laborer. The former receives from four to six rupees per month;
five being the general rate: the latter usually has three, when paid
independently of the _syce_; but when through his hands, a small
deduction is often made; to resist which would lead to discharge, either
peremptorily, or by the imputation of some neglect, &c.

The grass-cutter is always expected to provide a net for carrying a
large bundle of fodder, and a kind of paring instrument, called a
_koorpah_, wherewith to cut the grass, about half an inch under the
surface of the soil: the upper part of the root being considered
extremely nourishing. No hay is ever seen in India; nor would it answer
that purpose nearly so well as the common expedient of paring it for
daily consumption. The Maharrattahs, it is true, make a coarse kind of
hay, wherewith to feed their large bodies of horse at certain seasons;
but the condition of their cattle in general by no means recommends such
a measure in private studs. Nevertheless, that practice has its
advantages, for while our cavalry horses would starve for want of green,
or succulent fodder, the less delicate Maharrattah charger plucks at any
old thatch with great readiness; and even on such diet will perform
wonders. I have always thought that our public cattle were too highly
pampered; at least, that the mode of feeding them by no means
corresponded with that ready adoption of any kind of coarse foraging,
which might become necessary under the most ordinary circumstances of a
campaign: a pig will gradually become dainty, and rather starve than
return to its former coarse provision. The practice of soaking _gram_
for cavalry horses, is peculiarly objectionable; as not only causing
them to expect it at all times, even when water (much less soaking-pots)
cannot be had in any quantity; but inducing most horses to swallow the
grains whole, without mastication. In my humble opinion, the whole of
the grain supplied to cavalry horses ought to be reduced to a coarse
meal, mixed with hay, and straw, in equal quantities, cut very fine in a

It may be readily supposed, that when a camp has been settled for a few
days, on even the most luxuriant verdure, the whole must disappear: it,
however, speedily springs again after the first fall of rain, presenting
a beautiful light-colored blade, very small, and of rapid growth. The
kind of grass prepared for horses, is the _doob_, or _sun-grass_, nearly
corresponding with our fine creeping-bent. This should be well beat with
a stick, and be washed before used; if kept for a day or two in an airy
place, it is supposed to be more wholesome, than when given immediately
after being cut, as is generally done. The _doob_ is not to be found
every where; but, in the low countries about Dacca, Mahomedpoor, &c.
where the inundation is general during near three months every year,
this grass abounds; attaining to a prodigious luxuriance! I have often
seen it full two feet and a half high, absolutely matting the ground.
Cattle are turned into it promiscuously, and never fail to thrive. It
appears curious, that in a part where, during the rains, nothing is to
be seen of the soil; the little villages built on eminences being the
only discernible objects, if we except the tops of large trees staring
out of the water; no provision should be made for the maintenance of the
cattle; which, at such times, depend entirely on what can be drawn up by
means of forked poles, from, perhaps, a depth of twenty feet. This green
food, highly impregnated with moisture, surely cannot be wholesome at
such a season for these poor animals, which are then cooped up in the
hundreds of boats that surround every village! Whereas, if the _doob_,
such as I have described, were to be cut, and stacked in the month of
February, when it is in high perfection, and the atmosphere moderately
warm, there might certainly be provided a more appropriate, and less
hazardous, species of fodder. But the truth is, that cattle are, in
every part of India, left, so long as possible, to shift for themselves:
and this, notwithstanding that a load of the finest hay in the world
might be made in the low countries for about half-a-crown; even
admitting that labor were paid for!

It gives me very great pleasure to observe, in the Gentleman’s Magazine,
for February, 1809, that a grass has been discovered in Ireland, called
the _fiorin_, which perfectly corresponds with the _doob_ of Hindustan.
This invaluable plant stands the severest cold of Iceland, as well as it
does the scorching heats of tropical summers. In the latter instance,
the verdure certainly disappears; but the root remains unimpaired, and
abounds with succulence. I feel no hesitation in asserting, that if the
_fiorin_ be what it is described, namely, the _doob_ of Hindostan, it
will prove an invaluable acquisition to the British agriculturist. A
rich grass that will stand either heat or cold, or immersion for many
successive months, cannot fail to abridge our catalogue of Georgic
desiderata. The _doob_ is rarely sown in India; but, after being cut
below the surface by the tool in common use among grass-cutters, called
a _koorpah_, is chopped with a hatchet into pieces about two or three
inches in length, when, being mixed with mud, it is plastered on the
surface of the plot where it is intended to remain; the plot being
previously saturated with water. In a very few days, the _doob_ will be
seen to vegetate, especially if care be taken to keep the mud moist for
a short time. This grass is likewise well suited for transplanting, by
which operation very large plots are sometimes turfed. The stems all
throw out roots at every joint that is suffered to touch the ground; but
when very thick, and abundant, it is disposed to tower and spindle, not
unlike our pink and carnation plants. If set in small tufts, at a foot
asunder, they will soon cover the surface.

The _Mauly_, or gardener, next claims attention. The dress of this
servant, unless he be at the head of a large establishment, is scarcely
better than that of a common laborer; nor are the wages much higher;
four rupees being a very common rate, though sometimes as much as six,
or seven, are given to men of superior ability, that understand some
particular culture of moment to the employer. Those who act under the
_maully_ are, for the most part, _bildars_, hired by the day, probably
at five or six pice, equal to about two rupees and a half monthly. These
_bildars_ work with a kind of mattock, called a _phourah_, consisting of
a blade, about as large as that of a common garden-spade, furnished with
a very strong eye at the top, rivetted to the blade, and set on so as to
give the handle a direction of about 70° from the plane of the blade,
which is slightly curved inwards. The handle may be about thirty inches
in length, and is driven nearly through the eye, where it is
occasionally wedged, to keep the blade from turning upon it; as would be
the case, on account of the eye being round, were it not made very
tight. While working with a _phourah_, the _bildar_ stands in the same
position as if using a pick-axe: throwing up whatever soil may
accumulate at each stroke. When the tool is new, much may be lifted in
this manner; but when worn down nearly to the eye, the most active
laborer cannot effect much more than might be done by an ordinary
bean-hoe. Those _maullies_ who serve gentlemen, are usually provided
with rakes and hoes; but, in any other situation, they content
themselves with using short iron spuds, set into wooden handles, the
stem being cranked, and the whole rarely exceeding eighteen inches in
length: with these they beat the clods to pieces, and level the surface
admirably: but, of course, not so quickly as our gardeners. With the
same kind of tool, though of a smaller size, they dig up weeds; keeping
the garden remarkably clean; and, under proper observation, raising an
immense quantity of vegetables.

It would surprize an European to see with what precision _maullies_ sow
and cover their seeds; the seasons for which they are perfectly
acquainted with, even though the greater portion of the horticultural
produce in that quarter consists of exotics: this is the more
remarkable, because there is no book of gardening extant in the Hindui
language; and if there were, the chances would be, at least a thousand
to one, that the _maully_ could not read it.

The greater part of the manure used in gardens is known by the name of
_kallah-matty_, (_i.e._ black-earth,) and is collected from such places
as are set apart for the reception of filth of all sorts. Horse-dung,
cow-dung, &c. are generally too much valued to be appropriated to the
soil: these are almost invariably preserved carefully; and, being made
into a mass, are formed into cakes, between the hands, about the size of
a plate; while moist, they are stuck up against some wall exposed to the
sun; where, in a day or two, they become thoroughly dry, and make an
excellent kind of fuel, burning very like good peats. These _guttees_,
as they are called, are generally prepared by the _syce’s_ wife, and
kept in a stack for culinary purposes.

The gardens of Europeans are, with few exceptions, laid out much in the
same way as our kitchen-gardens; having one main walk, with a few
ramifications and parallels, all of which are covered with _soorkee_, or
brick-dust; though sometimes, where gravel, or rather shingle, can be
found, it is used in preference. The whole area is intersected by little
channels made of earth, or perhaps lined with semi-circular tiles,
whereby water is conveyed to every part at pleasure. The peculiar
gratification afforded to the eye, and, indeed, to the feelings, by the
proximity of perpetual verdure, in a country where, for many months
together, scarcely a green spot is to be seen, induces most persons,
when laying down a garden, to appropriate such a piece of ground as may
be in view, to the formation of a grass-plot. This is refreshed every
third or fourth day by laying on water from the well, always made on
some more elevated spot, so as to command every part to which the
irrigation is to extend. The _doob_ is invariably selected for this
purpose; and, in consequence of its numerous seeds, as well as owing to
the cool shelter it affords, never fails to attract great numbers of
ants, of various colors and sizes; all of which are a perfect nuisance
throughout the East. Gentlemen who rear turkies, find from experience,
that few can be brought up except where such grass-plots exist; and
where shade, and water, are at hand for the birds to avail themselves of
at pleasure.

Most of our garden esculents thrive in India; cabbages, cauliflowers,
lettuces, celery, beets, carrots, turnips, peas, cucumbers, French
beans, radishes, potatoes, &c. are cultivated in abundance; together
with capsicums, love-apples, egg-plants, gourds of various kinds,
calavanses, yams, sweet potatoes, and hundreds of the indigenous tribe.
The common fruits are guavas, peaches, nectarines, grapes, a few apples,
but no pears, melons of sorts, pine-apples, mangoes, oranges, citrons,
limes, pomegranates, byres of a very huge kind, comringahs, (or winged
apples,) currindahs, and, in general, most of the tropical fruits.
Within the last twenty years, very considerable additions have been made
by the introduction of various trees, and also of gardeners, from China:
the former have thriven admirably; while, to the latter we are indebted
for many valuable practices, common among that industrious people, and
which promise to contribute greatly to the perfection of Asiatic
horticulture. The best of _maullies_ could not be ranked with the least
capable among the Chinese gardeners; though it cannot be denied, that
they possess many strong recommendations; and are not a little proud of
any improvements, or novelties, committed to their management. In the
art of irrigation they cannot be surpassed. That indispensable operation
is performed, in most instances, by drawing water from a narrow well,
into a cistern, or hollow, at its edge; whence, by means of the channels
before described, each bed receives the necessary supply of moisture. A
pair of very small oxen, worth about twelve or fifteen shilling’s each,
suffice to draw up a _moot_, or leather bag, containing from twenty-five
to thirty gallons.

In general, a small hut is erected in the garden for the accommodation
of the _maully_; most of whose operations are performed after sun-set:
especially that of laying on water, and the setting of plants.
Rat-catching is also an object of importance, and most successfully
followed during moon-light nights; when those large black rats, called
_bandycoots_, equalling most cats in bulk, are often speared, as they
ramble among the cucumber and melon beds, wherein they make prodigious
havoc. Nor is there any deficiency of other sorts, or sizes, of rats:
they are to be found both in immense numbers, and in every variety; but
the large Norway rat is most abundant. I never saw, nor heard of a mole
in the country: most probably the soil does not suit; as it becomes so
hard and dry during the hot season.

The _Aub-dar_, or water-cooler, is scarcely less indispensable than the
cook; for, without the exercise of his art, all the delicacies of the
table would be of no value. Hot wine, and hot water, are by no means
acceptable to those who inhale so rarefied an atmosphere; and who
generally prefer such made-dishes as abound in spice. It is true, that,
sometimes, a _khedmutgar_, or a _bearer_, may be found, capable of
cooling liquors nearly as well as _aub-dars_ of the lower class; but
such are rare, and cannot always be depended upon. In saying this, I do
not mean to attribute the success of even the best qualified _aub-dar_
to any chemical knowledge, or to much comprehension of the manner, or
moment, in which the refrigeration takes place: far from it; they are
all the children of imitation, and by keeping within certain parallels,
wide enough asunder, hit upon their object; though not without much loss
of materials, as well as of time.

The apparatus necessary for the operations of this servant, consist of a
large pewter vessel, near half an inch in thickness, and in its form not
unlike a very thick Cheshire cheese, of which the edges are much rounded
off. At the top, a circular aperture, about a foot in diameter, is left,
for the introduction of two pewter flasks, (each containing about a pint
and a half,) of a spherical form, and furnished with long narrow necks,
nearly cylindrical, about ten inches in length, and fitted with caps, of
the same metal, that come down about an inch and a half, every where
close. The great bason just described is called a _taus_, and the flasks
are called _soories_. When water is to be cooled, about a gallon is put
into the _taus_; which, by means of a small wooden frame, made for the
purpose, or, for want of it, a few bricks, &c. is sloped a little, that
the water may lie more towards one side: a handful or two of salt-petre
is then put in, and the _soories_, being about two thirds filled with
the water to be drank, are moved about in the _taus_, one in each hand,
while the salt-petre is dissolving. So soon as that is effected, which
is usually in two or three minutes, the _soories_ are laid at rest;
their necks projecting out at the opposite side of the aperture, the
sphere part being immersed, and a wet cloth laid over the whole of the
opening: in that manner the intense cold, generated by the solution,
acts upon the water within the _soories_; so effectually indeed, in many
instances, as to be unpleasantly condensed. As to cracking the glasses,
that is extremely common, but is rather to be imputed to their being
somewhat heated by the atmosphere; when the cold water, being suddenly
poured in, causes nine in ten, so acted upon, to fly. Wine is always
cooled in the common glass bottle wherein it is drawn from the cask, and
so soon as taken from the _taus_, which may be in about five minutes
after being left at rest, is covered with a petticoat made of _karwah_,
or other cloth, well wetted. Being placed in a stand made of turned
wood, to receive the drippings, the bottle is placed on the table;
usually stopped with a silver-mounted cork. Decanters are rarely used in
any part of India; both because they are extremely subject to crack,
and, that they certainly do not keep wine so cool as the common glass
bottles do.

The dress of the _aub-dar_ generally resembles that of the _khedmutgar_,
and his wages may rank with the superior classes serving in that
capacity: he has, in general, some perquisites, both in charging for
more salt-petre than is used, and from the sale of the salt-petre water;
which, throughout Calcutta, and in many other places, is carefully
preserved in large jars, to be sold to persons who boil it down for the
purpose of producing the nitre in a more purified state. _Aub-dars_
should not be allowed to cool water within the house; the salt-petre
doing considerable injury to the walls, from which it cannot possibly be

Wherever a gentleman dines, thither his _aub-dar_ repairs, in time to
have water cooled as the dinner is served up: when a large party are
assembled, it is curious to see perhaps two dozens of these servants,
laboring at their profession under the shade of the house, and making a
noise not very dissimilar to the quick motion of a stone-saw. Custom
occasions it to pass unheeded, unless so far as relates to the
anticipation of a cool draught. It should be remarked, that water is the
common beverage: the smallest hole in the bottom of a _soories_ utterly
spoils it; therefore the defect must be well closed with solder. All the
wine used at the table is cooled by the host’s own servant; though, when
any particularly famous _aub-dar_ is in attendance, he is often asked to
exert his skill: a request always complied with, in a manner fully
exhibiting that vanity pervades this, as well as other classes of

The _Compadore_, or _Kurz-burdar_, or _Butler-konnah-sircar_, are all
designations for the same individual, who acts as purveyor, sometimes
under the orders of the master, but more generally of the _kansamah_,
who never fails to participate of the profits made by over-charges, and
by the receipt of _dustooree_, (or customary gift,) from the venders of
whatever may be provided for domestic, consumption. This servant may be
considered as appertaining to the order of _sircars_, of which he should
possess all the cunning, the smooth tongue, the audacious and
persevering effrontery, when maintaining a palpable lie, together with
that obsequiousness which should conciliate master, and make him believe
it! Without these, the _compadore_ could never thrive. The pay of such a
rogue is generally about four, or, at the utmost, five, rupees per
mensem; but that is comparatively no object, in any family where some
hundreds are spent in house-keeping. In order to aid the deception, he
invariably dresses so very meanly, as to claim our commiseration in
behalf of his apparent poverty: while, at the same time, it is probable
that, one way or other, he contrives to retain about an eighth part of
the money entrusted to his disbursement. The usual custom is, for the
_kansamah_ to enquire, during the evening, what is to be done in the
culinary department on the succeeding day: if the family dine abroad, no
directions are necessary; otherwise, fish, flesh, and fowl must be laid
in. As the best of the market is between day-light and sun-rise, after
which all the prime articles will have disappeared, the _compadore_ must
proceed with his catalogue of desiderata, attended by one or two
under-servants, (_mosaulchies_, _kalashies_, &c.) to purchase the
required articles. No time must be lost in returning home, at least
during the hot months; for such is the rapid progress towards
putrefaction, that I have more than once seen veal, which had been
killed after midnight, become perfectly offensive in ten hours,
notwithstanding every possible precaution was taken to keep it cool.

It will be understood, that a _compadore_ must, of necessity, be a good
accountant; like the _sircar_, he is well versed in fractions, and
carries his computations down to a single _gundah_ of _cowries_, (_i.e._
four _Blackamoors’ teeth_). This minuteness passes with many for
honesty; but by far the greater part of house-keepers either put those
very small parts out of the question, (regardless of the old saying,
that, ‘if the pence are well taken care of, they will nourish the
shillings; while the pounds acquire strength to take care of
themselves,’) or they content themselves with the reflection, that the
accounts are correctly taken, without even examining their contents.
Every charge thus becomes sanctioned when committed to paper; therefore
each knave is anxious to have his items noted, under the full
conviction, that, thenceforth, they are beyond the probability, if not
the possibility, of refutation. But such will never be effected, unless
a few of the filberts are, according to the old fable, dropped into the
_compadore’s_ bag; so as to diminish the bulk of the hand, and to allow
its retiring with the remainder of the booty. Not a _cowrie_ can stir
without the _compadore’s_ knowledge! Under the plea of fidelity to his
employer, he insists upon being privy to every disbursement; never
failing to preach up his own vigilance; and (which is the best of the
joke,) making a point of attending every morning with his hands full of
papers, and his ink-pot, &c., in readiness to give a detail of the
expences of the preceding day; though he perfectly knows that detail is
never attended to.

Let us not suppose that such deception is local: in other, or in
various, forms, we may find it throughout the world. Some, who boast of
the excellence of English menials, &c. may, perhaps, affect to believe
them to be less infected with such knavery as is above displayed; but an
appeal to that too correct history of the times, yclep’d ‘The Newgate
Kalendar,’ must remove every doubt of the instability of such an
exemption; and should assure us, that, whenever temptation solicits, and
opportunity favors, few, of any sect, color, or rank, have the virtue to
resist, provided the object be proportioned to the risk!

The _Hirkarah_ was, formerly, a servant used solely for carrying
expresses, or such letters, messages, &c. as were to be sent beyond the
circle of ordinary, or daily, communication: he was, in fact, what is
now commonly called a _cossid_. We have retained, however, the
designation of _dawk-hirkarahs_ for those who convey the _dawks_, or
posts. In every other instance, the duty of the _hirkarah_, as an
attendant upon a gentleman in office, &c. is similar to that of the
_peon_, or _piada_, or running footman. His pay is generally the same;
but the former usually bears a lacquered walking-stick, armed at its
extremity with a square spike, the ferule of which is ornamented with
dark-colored fringe, or tassels. This stick is carried over the
shoulder, and is the only distinction between the _hirkarah_ and the
_peon_: but, though the latter has no such insignia, he frequently
claims precedence, causing the _hirkarah_ to precede him in the retinue,
while attending their employer’s palanquin.

Both these servants, whose capacities are now perfectly blended, when
serving Europeans at least, receive from four to five rupees monthly. In
every respect, beyond the foregoing exceptions, they dress much the same
as _khedmutgars_, but generally have turbans and _cummer-bunds_ of the
same color, by way of livery; and, when in the employ of great
merchants, agents, and especially under the principal officers of the
government, wear belts of colored broad-cloth, with metal breast-plates;
bearing either the initials, or the arms, of their employers, or
inscriptions stating the offices to which they appertain. The generality
of such inscriptions have the English designation in the centre, with a
translation in the Persian, or the Bengallee, language, (perhaps both,)
around, on the margin, or _vice versâ_.

Many most extraordinary journies have been made by _hirkarahs_:
instances have been adduced of their travelling full a hundred miles in
the four and twenty hours.

The _Duftoree_, or office-keeper, attends solely to those general
matters in an office, which do not come within the notice of the
_crannies_, or clerks; such, for instance, as making pens, keeping the
ink-stands in order, ruling account books, and perhaps binding them,
preparing and trimming the lights, setting pen-knives, together with a
great variety of little jobs, easily performed by an individual allotted
thereto, but trenching deeply on the occupations of those engaged in
more connected and important business. The pay of the _duftoree_ may be
from four to six rupees monthly; though a few may receive rather more;
but such is unusual. The dress depends on the _cast_ of the individual:
if he be a Mussulman, it will correspond, in some measure, with that of
the _khedmutgar_; but, if a Hindu, it will, probably, assimilate with
that of the _cranny_.

The _Fraush_, or furniture-keeper, is generally a Mussulman, and
receives about four or five rupees monthly: his dress corresponding with
that of a first-rate _mosaulchy_, or an inferior _khedmutgar_. The duty
of this menial, among Europeans, consists chiefly in cleaning the
furniture, putting up, or taking down beds, (which, in India, is always
effected without the aid of a carpenter,) beating carpets, preparing and
trimming the lights, opening and shutting the doors for guests, handing
chairs, setting tables for meals, together with a variety of minutiæ of
a similar description. Among the natives, the office comprehends far
more laborious employments, among which the arrangement of tents may be
adduced: in this they aid the _kalashies_, or tent-men, reserving to
themselves the performance of whatever relates to the interior.
According to the account of Abu Fazil, who wrote regarding the
establishment of the Emperor Akber, that monarch retained no less than
one thousand _fraushes_, for the purpose of attending his encampments,
or parties of pleasure. These, however numerous, must have had plenty to
do; for we find that ‘the equipage, on such occasions, consisted of 1000
elephants, 500 camels, 400 carts, and 1000 men, escorted by 500 cavalry.
There were employed in this service 1000 _fraushes_, 500 pioneers, 100
water-carriers, 50 carpenters, 50 tent-makers, 50 link-men, 30 workers
in leather, and 150 sweepers.’ The number of large tents was prodigious;
but some idea may be entertained of their amount, when it is stated,
that the royal precinct was enclosed by _konauts_ (walls of cloth) eight
feet high; and, in the whole, nearly two miles in length! Such a display
in this country, would attract half the population to witness its

The _Mater_, or sweeper, is considered the lowest menial in every
family: his _cast_ is held in execration, on account of the filthiness
of his occupations. There are, nevertheless, various stages, or classes,
even among these abhorred people; of which the _hullalcore_ may be
considered the lowest, while the _loll-baygies_ assume the upper rank of
infamy. But, however much they may arrogate to themselves, in
consequence of such distinctions of _cast_, all are considered, by both
Hindus and Mussulmans, to be equally impure, alike polluting whatever
they touch. Hence, it would be considered the height of disrespect, were
a _mater_, in the service of a native gentleman, to handle any part of
his master’s raiment, or to step on the carpet intended for his master’s
seat: as to touching his cooking utensils, &c. that would be an
unpardonable offence, and subject the delinquent, not simply to private,
but to public, castigation.

Hair, or birch, brooms are never seen in India: there the instrument for
sweeping, called a _jarroo_, is made of bamboo, split to the size of a
wheat straw, about thirty inches long, and tied together very firmly,
for about six or eight inches at one end; forming a bundle of, perhaps
two inches and a half in diameter. This instrument is furnished by the
_mater_, who generally receives three, or sometimes four, rupees
monthly. The dress corresponds in general with that of a decent _cooly_,
(or laborer;) but some wear a short _coortah_, and take a little pride
in this particular.

The _mater_ is generally at little expence for provisions; he being the
only servant that may, according to his tenets, partake of what has been
served up at the table of any person, whether European, or native, not
of his own sect. In this, the _matranny_, or female sweeper, whose
duties are exactly the same, but usually confined to the women’s
apartments, must be included. The latter is, however, in general far
more sober, cleanly, and dainty, than the male sweeper. In such a
climate, it is of the highest importance that all filth should be
speedily removed: therefore it is established as a custom, that the
privy should be cleansed so soon as soiled: the _mater_ attending for
that purpose, with his _jarroo_, and a _tickra_, or piece of broken
earthen-ware, into which he sweeps away the ordure. This operation is
facilitated by a slight layer of grass placed below the seat, which is
usually of masonry. Wooden seats are highly objectionable; both on
account of being subject to collect filth, and because they harbour
centipedes, scorpions, &c. Many very ludicrous accidents used to happen,
some thirty years back, before a reform was made in the construction of
these conveniences; which are now on an admirable plan.

When a dog is kept, and that there is not occasion for retaining a
professed _dooreah_, or dog-keeper, the _mater_ is always expected to
dress its victuals, and to supply it with such refuse from the table, as
he may not deem worthy his own acceptance.

The _Dooreah_, though properly an out-door servant, residing at the
_dooreah-konnah_, or kennel, occasionally officiates as _mater_,
performing all the duties of that menial; but this is rarely done with
good will; _dooreahs_, though of a _cast_ held equally in abomination
with the ordinary sweeper, by persons of a different persuasion,
invariably considering themselves to be far superior thereto. Although
confined to one occupation, in general, a _dooreah_ can have very little
knowledge of its duties, beyond the mere mechanical routine of dressing
a little rice, and meat, for the dogs, and taking them out for an
airing. He is usually provided with a short whip, consisting of a thong,
or two, of raw hide, fastened to a piece of small bamboo; with this he
corrects the animals under his charge, the number of which necessarily
varies according to their size.

Thus, a brace of greyhounds, or, at the most, a leash, are considered as
many as a _dooreah_ should lead out; while of small dogs, it is common
to see him surrounded by seven or eight. Each dog has a collar, to which
a strong metal ring is sewed very firmly: this serves to fasten a piece
of stout cord, the other end of which is looped, so as to pass over the
_dooreah’s_ hand, and to sit round his wrist; in general, the whole are
led by the left hand, the right exercising the whip. The dress of this
servant mostly resembles that of the _mosaulchy_: their pay is also much
on a par.

The manner of preparing victuals for dogs is simple: the _dooreah_,
being provided with a large earthen pot, proportioned to the quantity of
provision to be boiled, puts in the meat, cut very small, the rice, some
turmeric reduced to a pulp, some _ghee_, or granulated butter, some
salt, and abundance of water. The pot is placed on a _choolah_, or
stove, and its contents are stirred until they are sufficiently boiled,
when they are taken out; the water being first drained off into a
vessel, and the more solid contents spread upon a mat to cool. Each dog
is led out to separate picket, always in the ground for that purpose,
and there tied; so that he cannot quarrel with his neighbours. A parcel
of old earthen vessels, every where abounding, are collected for the
purpose of receiving each dog’s mess: the meat and rice are first
allotted among them, according to bulk, and the gravy afterwards added.
Each then receives his portion; though not without exhibiting, both by
vociferation and greediness, how eager he is to obtain his meal. In this
manner, dogs are usually fed night and morning.

The business of a _Kalashy_ is, properly speaking, confined either to
what relates to camp-equipage, or to the management of the sails, and
rigging, on board a _budjrow_. In the former instance, he is expected to
understand how to set up tents of every description; to pack, and
unpack; to load and unload: to make tent-pins; to sew the _taut_ (or
canvas bags,) in which each part of a tent is generally enclosed, when
on the elephant, camel, bullock, or cart, by which it is conveyed; to
handle a _phourah_, or mattock, to level the interior; and, in short, to
compleat the whole preparation, within and without.

Many _kalashies_ are extremely expert in all the foregoing duties, and
are, besides, excellent domestics; not hesitating to perform a variety
of services about a house, such as swinging the _punkah_, (or great
fan,) suspended in most dining halls, rattaning the bottoms of chairs,
helping to arrange, and to clear, furniture, and doing, besides, the
duties of _hirkarahs_, or _peons_. This general assemblage of useful
talents, no doubt, renders the _kalashy_ a most useful servant; hence,
more are retained at this time, than were formerly employed.

As a public servant, whether attached to the train of artillery, or to a
quarter-master’s establishment, his merits are equally conspicuous: in
the former he is enrolled in some company, in which rank may be obtained
by a due continuance of good conduct. Though in a private capacity he
rarely receives more than five rupees, he may, in the latter instance,
consider his average pay at six rupees; which, with the chance of
promotion to the several ranks of _cossob_, _tindal_, and _serang_, with
consequent encrease of wages at each gradation, is considered a very
respectable situation. His duty in the above instance, is, however, by
no means trifling: during the whole day he is employed, generally in the
arsenal, or the store room, or the artillery shed; or, eventually, in
drawing timbers, cannon, &c. on transport carriages; mounting, or
dismounting great guns, cleaning arms, working in the laboratory,
piling, or serving out, shot; with a million of et ceteras in the
various branches of that department. Whether attached to the train, or
serving with a regiment of infantry, or cavalry, the _kalashy_, (or, as
he is often termed while in the public service, the _lascar_) must be
adroit in whatever relates to camp-equipage, making up ammunition of all
kinds, sorting stores, packing, loading, serving, and drawing
field-pieces, limbering, yoking the cattle, marking out lines for a
camp; and, in short, whatever relates either to the ordnance, or to the
quarter-master’s duties. All appertaining to these branches, are
cloathed in woollens of English manufacture: those in the artillery
wearing blue jackets with red trimmings, and such as appertain to
regiments of cavalry, or of infantry, being served with such colors as
may assimilate with the dress of the corps respectively: unless when a
quantity of any particular color is on hand in the Company’s stores; in
which case, it is disposed of by varying the dress of regimental
lascars, _pro tempore_, as far as it will go.

The whole of the _kalashies_ wear blue turbans, of rather a flat form,
having on their edges a red tape, about three fourths of an inch in
breadth; which greatly relieves the sombre appearance of their jackets.

The _kalashies_ on board _budjrows_, which are generally of the pinnace,
or keeled, kind, may be placed, nearly on a footing with those retained
by individuals; allowing for a certain imitation of the public servant,
and a smattering in what relates to the management of sails. This class
is by no means numerous, being confined entirely to the aquatic
equipages of great men: one of this description is by no means flattered
when directed to handle an oar on board the _budjrow_, though he prides
himself in rowing a jolly-boat furnished with oars on the European plan.

The _Manjy_, _Goleeah_, and _Dandy_, are the steers-man, bow-man, and
common rower in a boat, respectively. Where a gentleman keeps a boat, he
must always retain the two first, and, if in constant employ, the last
also; or he may generally, by previous notice, obtain a crew of
_teeka-dandies_, that is, job-watermen, at any of the _ghauts_, or
wharfs, along the river. The _manjy_ is usually paid from five to seven
rupees per mensem; the _goleeah_ from four to five; and the _dandy_ from
two and a half to three and a half, or even four; all according to the
kind of boat, and the dignity of the employer. There is no established
dress for either of the above classes; though the _manjy_ will, in
general, be found to adopt a mixed costume, between the _kalashy_ and
the _mosaulchy_. His business is to steer, and to give directions
regarding the several operations incident to the very numerous
metamorphoses of circumstances in rivers perpetually changing their
direction: thus, it is by no means uncommon to see a _budjrow_ hoist,
and lower, her sails, take to her oars, or to the track-rope, some
scores of times during the course of a day’s progress; just as the
localities may render necessary. Whatever authority may be vested in a
_manjy_, it is rare to see one able to enforce his orders: each of the
crew has an opinion of his own; and, knowing that his services cannot be
dispensed with, will, in most cases, adhere to his way of thinking,
until peremptorily compelled by the master’s interference, to submit to
orders; or overcome by absolute force.

The _Goleeah_ has particular charge of the bow, where he either rows the
foremost oar, or, when necessary, keeps the boat from running against
the bank, or upon shoals, by means of a _luggy_, or bamboo pole,
probably thirty feet, or more, in length; first casting it out in the
proper direction, and then lapping it round several times with the end
of a strong tail-strap, fastened to a ring on the forecastle; so as to
prevent the pole from returning.

Those who have not witnessed the dexterity of this class of people, and
the rapidity with which they recover their poles, so as to make repeated
resistances in dangerous situations, can form no idea of the strength,
activity, and judgment, necessary to qualify a man for this arduous
situation. Often the fate of a boat depends on the certainty of the
_goleeh’s_ throw; especially under a _cutchar_, or sand bank, perhaps
twenty feet, or more, in height, under which a strong current cuts away
the foundation, occasioning immense bodies of the soil to fall in,
attended by a noise competiting with thunder. One of these falling upon
a boat, could not fail to sink her; as experience has too frequently
proved. The very swell occasioned by the fall of such ponderous and
bulky rubbish, amounting perhaps to fifty or sixty loads, is sufficient
to sink the smaller class of vessels. Fortunately, the _cutchars_, in
general, subside, as it were, perpendicularly; without casting outwards;
otherwise, no vessels could navigate the Ganges, or the other great
rivers, at certain seasons; especially during the early winter months,
when the _cutchars_ are high, and the current rather strong.

The _Dandy_ certainly leads as hard a life as any scavenger’s
cart-horse; and really I know not what more picturesque instance can be
given of his consummate drudgery! Imagine the effects, even upon the
most hardy constitution, of exposure to all weathers; at one moment
under a burning sun, or numbed by a cold northerly blast; by turns on
board, or at the track rope; moving at a slow pace against a rapid
current; and wading, without the smallest hesitation, through a million
of puddles, often up to the neck, or even obliged to swim: the footing
perhaps rugged, or along a heavy sand, or a deep mud; and the path lying
through briars, bordering steep precipices! All this the _dandy_
undergoes for the small wages before specified; rarely equal to
three-pence daily! It is true, he has some reliance on the produce of
the fields he passes through, appropriating it, together with fire wood,
and, occasionally, some stray poultry, or a kid, to the participation of
his companions. Nor do this class, which consists promiscuously of
Hindus and Mussulmans, act very fastidiously as to the means of
obtaining their cloathing: they are, indeed, perfectly divested of those
prejudices entertained by our judges, and law officers, respecting the
iniquity of purloining whatever may offer itself to their acceptance:
far otherwise; all is fish that comes to their net. Knowing such to be
the invariable disposition of _dandies_, the European must blame
himself, should his valuables be missing in consequence of an ill-placed
confidence, or of neglect in regard to securing his property, so far as
may be practicable. Hence, it is advisable never to allow any one of the
crew to enter the cabin of a _budjrow_, under any pretext, unless
attended by a servant; who must direct his whole attention to the
prevention of theft. Most boats are baled by means of a skuttle in the
cabin: this affords a very reasonable plea for entrance; but too much
caution cannot be used, when that operation may be necessary; which may
be from two, to fifty, times within the twenty-four hours; accordingly
as the hirer may be in luck regarding the soundness of his vessel’s

As to describing a _dandy’s_ dress, that is scarcely practicable; but a
tolerable outline was given when treating of the passage from the ship
at Kedgeree to the presidency: the perpetual changes from hot to cold,
and from wet to dry, (for each _dandy_ reserves a dry clout, to put on
when he returns on board,) must, one would think, at all events, keep
the poor wretches something like clean, and free from vermin. Such,
however, is not the case; for what with ring-worms, itch, and _a
certain_ loathsome, and infectious disease, added to an inexhaustible
stock of body-creepers, no mortal can well be more disgusting than a
Bengal _dandy_. It would be injustice to class them all under one
general anathema; there being, doubtless, some among them who are
tolerably clean in their persons; but such most assuredly form a very
disproportionate minority!

The _Berriarah_, or _Gurrearah_, is a person who, according to the
general custom of the country, devotes his life to tending sheep and
goats; and, in most situations beyond the metropolis, obtains a place
among the usual servants attendant upon the out-door concerns of a
family. This is not owing to the scarcity of meat, but to its bad
quality; there being plenty of sheep in India, which, however, are
rarely slaughtered for table expenditure, even by the natives; who very
justly consider it to be an unclean animal, feeding on all kinds of
filth. This occasions them to prefer the meat of a castrated goat,
commonly denominated _kussy_, which is certainly not to be despised;
though its taste is somewhat strong, and the meat itself rather coarse,
and dark colored: but it abounds with fat, and is very juicy. Be it
good, or bad, prejudice has proscribed it from the tables of persons in
respectable stations, or in easy circumstances; a joint of _bazar_
mutton, that is, such as the butchers sell in the market, being
considered no treat, and proving extremely obnoxious to the generality
of delicate persons: though I have frequently seen them partake of a
joint of _kussy_, when palmed upon them as home-fed wether, in such
style as led me to believe, that the imagination was a principal agent
in condemning the unfortunate goat-mutton. I do not mean to deny, that a
certain difference exists; but, when the former could not be had, I
rarely failed to make an excellent meal off the latter; while some of my
more fastidious friends have been grievously disappointed of their

Sheep may, in a few instances, be purchased in tolerable good condition,
especially during the hot season, when they nibble the short stems, and
even the roots of the finer grasses; yet it must not be expected that
any, which may be procurable in the villages, should cut up well: they
are usually mere skeletons; and if they have any fat it is of a bad
color. This compels gentlemen to keep small flocks, perhaps from thirty
to sixty, according to the average of expenditure; which, among officers
in the army, may amount to one sheep in every fifteen, or twenty days:
observing, that the meat is seldom good, nor the animal comparatively
the better for his keep, until it may have been put up for about three
or four months. The most approved mode of fatting sheep, is to have
about a dozen on full feed; allowing as much _gram_ as they can well
eat; say about two pounds daily for each: another dozen should be upon
half feed; having an allowance of very fine chaff to complete their
diet; or perhaps some cut grass, the same as is brought in for horses.
All these twenty-four sheep should be confined in an area, enclosed
either by mud walls, or by railings of a suitable height; taking care to
allow them access to sweet water, and to have a small quantity of salt
in a flat vessel, accessible to them at pleasure. In this manner they
will fatten admirably in the course of six or seven months; their flesh
becoming fine grained, juicy, and high flavored.

Besides the above number, about as many more should be kept on a small
allowance of _gram_; allowing them to graze, in company with half a
dozen milch goats and their kids, under charge of the _berriarah_, in
some place remote from any camp or town; so as to insure their feeding
clean. This precaution may seem unnecessary, but is certainly proper;
for all sheep, especially those of India, are particularly partial to
certain excrements, abounding in a country where the goddess is
worshipped on the plains: the borders of tanks being particularly the
resort of all descriptions of persons, when pressed to pay their
_devoirs_ to the deity. The dress of the _berriarah_ is usually similar
to that of the _cooly_; with this addition, that, on account of the
oppressive heats at one season; the heavy falls of rain at another; and
the sharp cold during three months; he has constant recourse to a
substantial blanket, generally black: that being the ordinary color of
the sheep. In the hot season, the blanket serves to repel the heat;
during the rains, to keep him dry; and in the winter, to keep him warm.
As any cross folds, or pleats, would infallibly rather retain, than cast
off, the rain, these people have recourse to a most effectual mode of
managing the blanket; tying it together in a very regular manner, after
puckering the longest side, and placing that part over their heads.
Whatever portion of moisture may lodge within the short pleats above the
tie, cannot sink downwards, if the ligature be properly made; while all
the pleats below it, being in a perpendicular direction, serve as
channels to carry the water downwards. In fact, the blanket becomes a
bell-tent, of which the inhabitant is himself the pole. The wages of the
shepherd are usually about three and a half, or four rupees monthly; but
some gentlemen regulate them by the number of sheep maintained: this by
no means answers their expectations; for if the number be great, one or
two deficiencies, imputed to the wolves, are rarely noticed; and if the
flock be small, the only chance a shepherd has, is to make away with a
fat sheep, now and then. No sheep can be fatted, taking all things into
consideration, under four rupees, equal to about ten shillings,
including the price given; which of late years has risen to about a
rupee per head, for such as have six teeth: all below that age are
generally rejected, because their food goes more towards their growth,
than to their flesh; which is seldom of a good color, but retains a
certain light hue, like very young beef, until the second year be

The wool of the Bengal sheep is by no means valuable, as an article of
commerce; it being coarse and lank, more resembling dog’s hair than a
fleece. The natives manufacture a good deal of it into _puttoos_; which
may be made in any form, being nothing more than a very heavy close kind
of felt, which, when well made, stands proof against the severest
weather. The usual shape of these _puttoos_ is nearly conical, and more
resembles a bell-tent, than any thing now occurring to my memory; the
generality are made with a border, rudely worked, of some color strongly
contrasting with the body of the cloak: thus, a black _puttoo_ would
have a white pattern, another white _puttoo_ a black pattern. This
manufacture is extremely simple, and performed by means of a kind of
carding machine that entangles the wool; which is previously mixed in a
very strong lather of soap.

I have already stated, that the average price of a sheep fit for
fatting, is about a rupee; but that price has only existed for about
twenty years. Before that date, the common value of a _coarge_ (or
score) was from six to eight rupees; and I recollect, about twenty-nine
years back, when marching from Berhampore to Cawnpore, with a detachment
of European recruits, seeing several _coarges_ bought for their use, by
the contractor’s _sircar_, at three, and three and a half rupees! at the
latter rate six sheep were purchased for a rupee; which, in British
currency, would be _five-pence each!_

It is true, the sheep were not fat; far from it; being driven into the
camp from the flocks grazing in the adjacent plains, and, in general,
taken without much selection. They were the only animal food we could at
times get; for the Hindus would never sell us an ox, knowing it was
intended for slaughter. Notwithstanding the very low rate at which the
sheep were purchased, many proved dear bargains. Some had their livers
in such a dreadful state as disgusted every spectator, and caused an
insuperable objection against the meat: fluke-worms crawled about in
hundreds; while, of many, the stomachs, as well as the intestines, were
completely lined with bots, which stood as close as they could stow,
keeping each other parallel, like pins on a cushion! Strange to say,
some few of which the entrails were thus preyed upon, seemed as though
they would have thriven, provided they had been turned into a good

The _Chokey-dar_, or watchman, is a very different sort of being from
such as guard the British metropolis. In India, no man dare undertake
this office, unless he be a professed thief, or in league with the local
chief of all the thieves of the district. Were any person of a contrary
description to assume the protection of a house, &c. he would be
outwitted, and, in all probability be implicated; or he would lose his
life in the Quixotic attempt! This may give but an unfavorable idea of
the police; but, on examination, it will be found by no means so
injurious to the interests of the public, as persons ignorant of the
fact, and of its derivation, might suppose. Thieving is there put on a
par with other speculations; it becomes a monopoly, the invasion of
which carries with it the most fatal effects.

To explain this, I must state, that, in the vicinity of all great towns,
there will be found some person of apparent respectability, whose word
indeed passes with the same validity as other mens’ bonds; and who is
considered the chief of the _chokey-dars_, or watchmen; of which he will
furnish one, or two, perhaps three, according to the extent, and
situation, of the premises to be guarded.

For each person thus supplied, four rupees are paid monthly to the
individual employed; the head-man being responsible for whatever losses
may be occasioned by professed robbers. The _chokey-dar_ attends during
the day, often performing many little offices, in the most willing and
effective manner; at night parading about with his spear, shield, and
sword, and assuming a most terrific aspect, until all the family are
asleep; when—HE GOES TO SLEEP TOO!!!

Thus the matter is compromised; the gang receive a tribute, and the
gentleman is insured from nocturnal depredation: though, by way of
deception, slight feints are now and then made, in order to keep up the
system of terror, and to uphold the _chokey-dar’s_ vigilance. I am
sensible, that instances may be adduced of houses being plundered, and
of the _chokey-dars_ being cut to pieces. These, however, do not confute
the well known fact I have above delivered; on examination it will
always appear, that such robberies were committed either by some gang
from another quarter, or where the premises were in charge of military

So audacious are the thieves in India, that they have been known to come
into a cantonment with lighted _mosauls_, in imitation of a marriage
procession, or of a religious ceremony, and thus to attack a treasury
where a strong guard was posted. They likewise crawl about in dark
nights, so as to be mistaken for dogs, or other small animals; thus
gradually lulling the vigilance of a sentry, and making their way good
to the interior. On such occasions their bodies are usually well oiled,
thereby rendering it impossible to retain a hold; which is, in most
cases, prevented by a small sharp knife, always carried in a girdle by
these insinuating rogues: that girdle consists only of a stout piece of
twine carried round the waist, supporting a _lungooty_, or clout,
passing between the legs, and as narrow as an exception from absolute
nudity can possibly admit.

When travelling through any part of the Company’s territories, it is
proper to require _chokey-dars_ from such villages as may be in the
vicinity of the encampment: on failure of this precaution, robbery will
very often take place, without the most distant chance either of
recovering the lost goods, or of tracing the thieves. Nor should such
_chokey-dars_ be sent away unpaid for their night’s labor: two annas,
equal to nearly four-pence, should be given to each; otherwise,
intelligence of the _deficit_ will be conveyed to the next halting
place, and no _chokey-dar_ will be forthcoming; unless, indeed, one of
the collector’s peons accompany, or, that his order be sent,
particularly cautioning all the inhabitants to provide whatever may be
wanting. The reader must not imagine himself in England, but transplant
his ideas to a country where there is no public place of accommodation,
no relay of horses, no public conveyance, and perhaps no other Christian
within scores of miles! His fancy may have abundance of scope, in
picturing to him the variety of preparations necessary to be made before
a party, much more a single gentleman, breaks ground, for the purpose of
sporting, or of repairing to some distant station. He will then see how
very necessary it is to adopt the local customs, as well as every means
that prudence can devise; observing particularly, that when a gratuity
is to be bestowed upon any villager, &c. for provisions, or services, he
should never fail to see the full sum paid into the poor fellow’s hand:
otherwise, the servants will at least diminish, if not altogether
withhold, the donation.

In consequence of the great number of servants that sleep within the
houses, and the circumstance of each dwelling having a separate gateway,
where a _durwan_, (or porter,) constantly attends; as well as owing to
the great number of _chokies_ or patrole stations, every where to be
seen; few _chokey-dars_ are employed in the town of Calcutta, unless by
merchants who have warehouses full of valuable commodities; or
_shroffs_, (_i.e._ bankers) residing in that part of the town inhabited
principally by natives: at the _baugeechahs_, or garden-houses, which
generally stand, like our farm-houses, at some distance from other
dwellings, _chokey-dars_ are found to be indispensably necessary. Within
the Company’s provinces no head _chokey-dars_ are to be seen: there the
watchman may perhaps be exempt from the imputation of belonging to the
local gang: though circumstances do sometimes authorize the suspicion,
that he aids the perpetrators of the robbery. Generally speaking,
however, there appears no ostensible person who comes forward to
guarantee the safety of goods under charge of a _chokey-dar_: when this
most desirable assurance is wanting, the greatest vigilance is sometimes
inadequate to the prevention of theft. It is not a very easy matter to
defeat the machinations of a most expert banditti, in a country where it
is necessary to throw open every door, and window, during the night,
lest suffocation should ensue!

I have said that a _Durwan_, or porter, is stationed at the gate, on
entrance into that area, (called the _compound_,) within which most
houses in Calcutta are situated. This servant usually receives from four
to five rupees monthly, and dresses little better than a _cooly_;
though, in some instances, he may be seen more respectably cloathed. So
soon as a palanquin enters the gate, the _durwan_ vociferates lustily;
informing, that a visitor approaches; when immediately some other
servant, such as a _peon_ or _hirkarah_, runs to enquire the name, &c.
which is immediately announced to the master or mistress.

The _durwan_ is always allowed a small lodge near the portal, where he
is in constant attendance day and night. When the family have retired to
rest, he shuts and secures the gates: formerly, it was an invariable
rule to close them during meals, and to retain them in that state, until
notice was sent by the head servant that all the plate, &c. were safe.
This certainly was not a bad custom; and, no doubt, operated as a check
upon many, who, but for such a restriction, would purloin some valuable
article of a portable description: I regret to think it should have been
not only relaxed, but nearly abandoned: probably owing to mistaken

The _Cahar_, or palanquin-bearer, is a servant of peculiar utility, in a
country where, for four months, the intense heat precludes Europeans
from taking much exercise; and where, during a similar term, the
constant state of puddle, in every place not artificially raised, and
drained, at a great expense, utterly precludes them from walking.
Indeed, even in the cold months, it is not always that the palanquin can
be dispensed with: at all events; the _chattah_, or large umbrella, must
accompany. Many gentlemen who arrive during the winter season, find the
sun little more than comfortable; they therefore, very foolishly,
dispense with the _chattah_, and allow themselves to be heated
extremely. So many instances have happened of persons being carried off
suddenly, in consequence of such exposure, that I cannot too earnestly
exhort all visiting India, to be very cautious of placing reliance on
strength of constitution: the strongest are in most danger; on them
fever seizes firmly, giving but little time for the adjustment of
affairs, and even less scope for the exercise of medical skill.

The number of, what is called, a set of bearers, varies according to the
situation, the occupation, and the weight of the employer. In Calcutta,
where there is much visiting, at least seven must be kept, of whom one
stays at home to cook victuals for the rest; and as another of them will
probably be the _sirdar_, or head-bearer, who attends personally when
his master is dressing, and generally has some charge of linen, &c. he
will not, except on emergency, officiate under the bamboo. Thus, in
fact, only five will be left to carry the palanquin and the umbrella;
the man bearing the latter at times relieving one of the four that carry
the vehicle; and they, in exchange, assuming his part of the labor,

There are, however, various tribes of bearers, generally provincial, all
of which are to be found at Calcutta; those chiefly employed in that
capital are called _Ooreeahs_, _i.e._ natives of the province of Orissa;
a tract of country lying between the Roopnarain and the northern
_sircars_: this occasions them to be generally designated
‘Balasore-bearers:’ Balasore being the principal town.

Language is scarcely adequate to describe the influence this set of
menials had obtained, throughout those parts to which they extend their
services; which is rarely more than a few miles around Calcutta. They
are, in fact, a commonwealth, governed by one or more of their gang, and
subject to the regulations, from time to time, established by councils
convened, in the most imperious manner, by the old _sirdars_; every
trespass against which is attended with, not only immediate punishment,
by means of ejection from among their society in the town, but
absolutely by a species of out-lawry, even in their own country!

To such a pitch had these gentry carried their audacity, that, more than
once, they withdrew from Calcutta, leaving its inhabitants in the most
awkward predicament, until they thought fit to return, or that their
insolent demands were complied with. If any offence be given to one or
more, especially to a whole set, the matter is instantly submitted to
their superiors; who have, on many occasions, issued their mandate,
interdicting all _Ooreeahs_ from engaging in the offender’s service.
Where real injury is done, they never fail to carry the matter either
before the commissioners of the police, or into the supreme court: the
costs being defrayed by a general assessment. The prudence with which
they proceed, in this mode of prosecution, is by no means unworthy of
notice; if imitated by some of our own litigious spirits, it could not
fail to save infinite vexation, trouble, and expence. They put the case,
very fairly, before a fictitious tribunal, consisting of _sircars_,
writers, &c. who, having been employed by gentlemen of the law, have
picked up a smattering of that profession, and are perfectly acquainted
with all the forms attendant upon most civil causes. These ‘base
epitomes of legal greatness’ possess wonderful shrewdness; and, by means
of two fictitious advocates of a corresponding description, who, with an
acuteness scarcely to be equalled, argue their respective sides of the
question, _i.e._ plaintiff and defendant, are enabled to decide on the
case with strict propriety. The fact is, that this mock court, being
instituted for the purpose of preventing any native, who chooses to have
his cause pleaded before it, from being entangled in that glorious net
of perplexity, the supreme court, every endeavor is made to sift the
several turns and arguments, that may be resorted to by the defendant.
Consequently, it is ever the study of the accusing party to strengthen
his opponent’s side, with every subtlety that can be devised. The sages
give their opinions the same as in our courts; but are very cautious
never to decide in favor of a plaintiff, unless the case appears fully

It is a well-known fact, that, with the exception of a few haughty,
opinionated individuals, who, relying on their own judgment, and
thinking such a resort would degrade them, or perhaps discover that
chicanery on which they rely for success, omit the above very sagacious
precaution, scarcely an instance is to be found where a native, residing
in Calcutta, has failed to gain his cause against an European. To such a
tribunal, as above described, the _Ooreeahs_ almost invariably resort;
when, if its decision is in their favor, the _real_ court soon becomes
arbiter on the occasion.

It is perhaps fortunate for the inhabitants (I mean the European
families) of Calcutta, that, within the last twenty years, great numbers
of _Patna_, _Dacca_, and other _cahars_, or bearers, have resorted to
the presidency, to participate in those services formerly monopolized by
the _Ooreeahs_. The latter, after some struggle, by endeavoring to
intimidate their rivals, and by debarring the _teeka_, or job-bearers,
who were formerly, to a man, of the Balasore tribe, from serving, even
for the day, those who retained Patna, or other _cahars_, were, in the
end, obliged to lower their tone, and rather to conciliate, than to
arrogate, upon all occasions. Not that they are by any means reconciled
to the new system; but they find their mandates of less force, their
influence nearly extinguished, and their numbers considerably decreased:
at least, they bear no proportion to the _cahars_ from the country; who
now ply for _teeka_, _i.e._ job-work, in every quarter.

Still it must not be denied, that the _Ooreeahs_ are, in some respects,
excellent servants: they are very careful of furniture; and being
able-bodied men in general, are capable, even with less numbers, of
proceeding great distances: they are, besides, far more cleanly in their
persons, and neater in their dress; which, however, consists merely of a
_doty_, wrapped round the middle, and tucked in, together with a
wrapper, to be thrown over them in very inclement weather, but usually
folded up, and carried over the shoulder. When their heights are
unequal, they use a small quilted pad, of linen, stuffed with rags, or
cotton, which is suspended from the palanquin pole, or bamboo, and being
placed between it and the shoulder of the shortest bearer of the two,
(they carrying in pairs, two bearers before, and two behind, serves to
bring about an even bearing on each.

The Balasore bearers, _i.e._ the _Ooreeahs_, all preserve but one lock
on the top of their heads, the same as the _sircars_, and other Hindus
in general; they wear no turban, but paint their faces, arms, throats,
and breasts, with sandal-wood and vermilion. Some wear a few small
beads, chiefly of turned wood, about their necks; and, occasionally, a
stout silver ornament, of the ring kind, called a _bangle_, or _kurrah_,
on either wrist, or a pair of tigers’ claws set in silver, back to back,
suspended by a number of black threads from their necks. This is
considered a potent charm against _J’haddoo_, or witchcraft: and a
preventative of various dangerous diseases. It is peculiar, that the
_Ooreeah_ bearers never wear shoes, and that they prefer cloaths of an
almond color. The number of _Ooreeahs_ in a single set, is generally, as
before stated, seven: the head-bearer or _sirdar_, receiving five, or
even six, rupees monthly; sometimes a mate receives, or is said to
receive, five, and the residue about four. Formerly the rates were
generally one rupee less than the above for each rank: but ‘the hay was
made while the sun shone,’ and these gentry did not fail, _while in
power_, to raise their respective wages.

Where there is a lady in the family, three more bearers must be added;
or perhaps five: and a good comfortable building must, at all events, be
set apart for these domineering servants: without that is done, they
will not stay. Nor will they handle a _chillumchee_, (or wash-hand
bason,) after it has been used: though they will officiate in pouring
the water, serving the napkin, laying the shaving apparatus, and a
variety of matters formerly supposed to be repugnant to their tenets;
but which objections are not so much insisted upon since the country
_cahars_ have resorted, in such numbers, to Calcutta, and aided to
overthrow that immense edifice of insolence, imposition, and pride, so
conspicuously rearing its head; whereof, fortunately, the foundation was
thus destroyed. I perfectly recollect the time, and, indeed, the matter
is not yet obsolete, when the _council_, as the _sirdar_ vainly termed
their meeting, used to send their summons to any _Ooreeah_ in an
European’s service; and, in case of refusal, or neglect, mulcted the
party according to their pleasure. Thus, no individual, however attached
to his master, or tired of the noxious and tyrannic mandates of the
_sirdars_ dared to disobey; the smallest relaxation in points of
forbearance, or in the least tending to augment the duties of the whole
class, whether individually or collectively, was certainly followed by
the most severe inhibitions, and by fulminations, perfectly terrific to
those brought up in ignorance, and under the complete domination of a
persecuting priesthood. A few instances occurred wherein the masters
almost forcibly debarred their servants from obedience to the
adjudications of this overbearing usurpation; but it was in vain: the
government, perhaps prudently, discouraged every attempt to change the
system; while the Supreme Court, then newly robed, and panting for the
exercise of power, whereby to shew their extensive authority, and their
sedulous attention to the rights of ‘an oppressed people’, favored every
complaint wherein a native was to be redressed: this was done with the
view to annihilate those multifarious extortions, and severities, not to
say cruelties, under which it was supposed they were groaning. The farce
had its day, like all other good farces; but, in the end, Blacky found
out that law was very expensive, and that it had so many ins and outs,
with which they were then unacquainted, that the disease fortunately
carried its own remedy: the fact, as it now stands, being simply this;
that all are ready enough to complain to a _justice_, but are very shy
of bringing the subject before a _judge!_

Where bearers are not constantly wanted, (a very uncommon case, by the
by,) the best mode is to hire _teeka-bearers_, when occasion may demand:
for ordinary excursions, five are usually employed; each receiving four
annas, or the quarter of a rupee, daily. This has its advantages, and
its disadvantages; for it is not always these job-men are to be had; nor
will they come at the hour appointed; then, again, they must go (the
Lord knows where) to their meals; and they are by no means so careful of
the palanquin, &c. as regular servants; nor will they attend to a
variety of in-door matters, which may be peremptorily requisite. It must
further be obvious, that, if the occasions for employing them be
numerous, they will prove very expensive: consequently, can only suit
those whose incomes are confined, and whose ordinary avocations do not
lead them further than may be walked, without danger, or great
inconvenience, under the shade of a _chattah_, or umbrella. It is
evident, that one _sirdar_ at five, one mate at four and a half, and
five bearers at four each, amount only to twenty-nine rupees and a half
per mensem; whereas five _teekas_, if employed every day at a rupee and
a quarter daily, will amount to thirty-seven rupees and a half. This
would be like riding in a Hackney-coach all day, when an excellent
equipage might be kept for less money.

The Patna, Dacca, and other up-country bearers, in general receive less
wages than the _Ooreeahs_; but require to be more numerous in a set; few
consisting of less than eight, including the _sirdar_, who generally
remains at home. His usual wages are from four and a half to five
rupees, and the rest receive from three up to four rupees monthly;
according to circumstances. When in their own country, they serve for
less wages than when employed elsewhere. Those at Dacca, where
provisions are very cheap, seldom have more than two, of two rupees and
a half; and it is wonderful how reluctant they are to quit that part of
the country, even under a very considerable advance of pay; therefore,
when a corps marches from the Dacca district, every endeavor is made to
procure bearers who are going to the several districts lying in, or
near, the route. This is sometimes attended with considerable
convenience; since it obviates the necessity of exchanging servants
while on the march; it being extremely common for bearers to proceed
only to an appointed town, there to leave their employer, who must use
his endeavors to obtain others in their stead. Thus, in marching from
the frontier to Lucknow, or Cawnpore, it is necessary to obtain a new
set of bearers at either of those places, to proceed to Benares; at
Benares they will engage probably to go no further than Patna, if
proceeding by the river route; or, if by the new road, only to
Hazary-Bang, or perhaps to Rogonautpore, or to Bissunpore; where a final
exchange must be made, for a set that will proceed to Calcutta,
Midnapore, &c. Yet it cannot be said that this occasions any very
serious difficulty; the occurrence being so common, and the prices so
well settled by the ordinary practice, that, unless a gentleman has the
character of using his servants ill, there seldom appears any deficiency
of candidates for employment.

Bearers, of all descriptions, are extremely apt to carry too much
luggage for themselves, stowing it, to an unmerciful amount, on the back
of some poor camel, or on some cart, which their master thinks is very
lightly laden. The mischief is not suspected, until he notices, day
after day, the late arrival of his baggage, or receives a report that
his cattle have sore backs, &c. &c.; which must, of course, prove highly
pleasing in situations where no substitutes for the disabled beasts can
be found!

Let me recommend my mode of correcting this evil; under which I was so
often, and so grievously, a sufferer, that, at length, a radical cure
became indispensable. I made a point of lagging behind sometimes, or
perhaps of riding back, and of stopping my camels, &c., to see what,
besides my own property, might be on their backs. It is inconceivable
what bundles of cloaths, pots, and pans, were burthened: nay, even
perroquets sometimes formed a part of the group. In the first instance,
I gave fair warning, that whatever was found thus clandestinely laden,
should be destroyed: after that, I spared nothing; but caused all the
brass vessels to be beat up with a tent-mallet, and the rest of the
luggage to be burnt. The consequence was such as might be expected; my
baggage was always up in excellent time, and my cattle were no more
chafed, and galled, by excessive burthens.

I anticipate the observation, that, ‘the drivers were to blame.’ True,
but few of them have the resolution to withstand solicitation, or,
perhaps, a small douceur, in some shape or other; and as to discharging
them, it is not always practicable, the greatest fear being that they
should discharge themselves. Elephants and camels must not be put into
the hands of novices: neither will they always submit to be ruled by

As I have just said, the bearers are almost always principally concerned
in these instances; the reason for which is, that every other servant
has usually some family, or goes share in some _tattoo_, (poney,) which
conveys his luggage: not that they would be a whit more scrupulous, were
it not for the fear of discovery; to which they would be peculiarly
liable. On the other hand, the Bearer, being perhaps merely a temporary
servant; and, if I may so term it, an alien in the camp, has no such
means of disposing of his luggage, as falls to the lot of the regular
servants: besides, all this tribe are either most penurious, or most
dissipated. They either hoard every _cowrie_; or run in debt, and then,
to avoid payment—run away.

The immediate business of a head-bearer is to prepare for his master’s
dressing; seeing that the linen is all properly in order, boots and
shoes cleaned, coat, &c. brushed, side-arms, &c. bright; also that the
palanquin is clean, and free from defect; that the water used for
drinking be purified; that the kettle is put on in due time: in general,
the inferior bearers clean the furniture, and carry the _chowry_, (or
whisk,) and swing a kind of _punkah_, (or fan,) made either from a large
palm leaf, or with split bamboo, and printed cotton; of which pieces are
to be had stamped expressly for that purpose; they are swung backwards
and forwards to cool a room: the butt of the _punkah-stick_ resting on
the ground. A _punkah_ is, by some, used instead of a _chattah_, (or
umbrella); but it is very inferior as a defence against either sun,
wind, or rain. The natives in some parts, especially to the northward,
use these _punkahs_ very generally; but, of late, they seem to have
rather changed in favor of the _chattah_, great numbers of which are now
conveyed, as an article of merchandize, from the lower provinces to
Benares, Lucknow, &c.

The dress of the _cahar_, by which I mean the up-country bearers,
usually consists of a colored turban, blue being, if anything, the
prevailing color; the head-bearer generally has a short _coortah_, not
unlike that of the _mosaulchy_, and, as well as all the inferiors, wears
a _doty_, in the usual manner: though some few wear a kind of
petticoat-trowser, not unlike the Highland kelt. _Cummer-bunds_ are also
in general use; though, with few exceptions, of a very coarse quality.
Many gentlemen present their _bearers_, _hirkarahs_, _peons_, _syces_,
_khedmutgars_, and _mosaulchies_, annually, with a set of _turbans_ and
_cummer-bunds_, all of the same color; so that the whole appear, to a
certain extent, in livery. In this indulgence many of the natives take
great pride: on the whole, indeed, they are as vain as our beau-footmen;
and, like them, can assume wondrous airs, when they have to deal with
the servant of a person inferior in rank to their own master.

While speaking of bearers, I shall describe the various kinds of
palanquins in use; observing, that the greatest improvements, which
perhaps ever took place in any vehicle, have been brought forward in the
construction of this _sine quâ non_ of Indian luxury. In order to
preserve due order, I shall commence with a description of the
_naulkeen_, or _naulkee_, it being the first in rank among the
contrivances of this description.

This immense carriage is only used by crowned heads, and may be
compared to a portable throne, on which the prince sits with his feet
crossed, and tucked up under his hams, (the usual sitting position of
Asiatics,) having at his back an immense pillow, and under him a
suitable bedding, both sumptuously ornamented; besides these, many
smaller pillows lie scattered about, to be applied as may be found
agreeable. The frame of the _naulkeen_ may be about five feet long by
four broad, well secured at the corners, and taped at the bottom in a
very close manner, both lengthwise and breadthwise, so as to leave no
interstices. The sides are raised with richly carved wood-work,
generally gilded in a very shewy style. The _naulkeen_ is carried,
like a litter, by eight men, who support two poles, one running under
each side-bar, and projecting before and behind; two bearers being at
each extremity, the same as in a palanquin. This vehicle, though it
appears extremely ponderous, is said, by the bearers, to be far
lighter than one of those _Mahannah-palanquins_ I am about to
describe: no doubt but eight men must feel less pressure,
individually, from such a weight, supposing it to be equal to that of
the _mahannah_, which is, to say the truth, a very heavy, though a
very comfortable, machine.

The _dooly_, or covered litter, was certainly the parent of all the
_palanquin_ kind; it is yet in very common use among the less opulent
classes, and especially employed for the conveyance of women; in our
armies this little vehicle affords excellent means, of transporting sick
and wounded men, either to the hospitals, or on a march. Its usual
construction is extremely simple; consisting of a small _carpoy_, or
bedstead, perhaps five feet by two and a half; having four stump feet,
about nine or ten inches from the ground, into which the sides, and end
pieces, are tenoned. A very slight frame of bamboo work, equal in size
to the frame of the litter, is placed over it horizontally; serving as a
roof for the support of a double cover, (generally of red _karwah_, or
of blue, or white calico,) which lies over the roof, and falls all
around; so as to enclose the whole space between the roof and the
bedstead. There is seldom any bedding but what is provided by the party
carried in the _dooly_; unless it be one appertaining to some family,
thereby it is frequently used: in such case, the interior is made very
comfortable, and the cover ornamented with borders, fringes, &c. This
last kind, being almost exclusively appropriated to the _zenanah_, is on
a very small scale; rarely exceeding three feet, by little more than
two: of such, thousands are to be hired at Calcutta, and most of the
provincial towns. They carry very easy; often, indeed, having only two
bearers under the bamboo, with one carrying a _bangy_, or a bundle, who
relieves the others occasionally; but, for the most part, four bearers
are employed. The closeness of the interior, added to the very trifling
elevation, (whereby the dust cannot fail to be offensive,) and the very
insufficient guard against rain, combine to render this vehicle by no
means pre-eminent for comfort; especially to delicate females.

It should seem that, in the course of time, an improvement was made in
the construction of litters, by giving the bamboo, or pole, a
considerable arch in that part which went over the interior. Thus the
frame was raised considerably; while the rider was enabled to sit
upright, rather more conveniently than when the bamboo was straight:
this, however, could only be done towards the centre; the legs being
crossed under the hams, according to the usual sitting position of the
natives. To them, such a posture, being confirmed by long habit, in use
from their infancy, is a relaxation; whereas, to a person not so
accustomed, nothing can be more irksome and fatiguing. Gradually, the
sides of the vehicle were ornamented, and changed from the simple
parallelogram to an oblongated hexagon; which is now very common: the
bamboo was also yet more arched, and its anterior projection carried out
in an upward curve to the length of full twelve feet or more: it was
also covered with broad-cloth throughout; that part above the seat being
ornamented with silk fringes, and the fore-end furnished with a brass
ornament; either a tiger’s, or an alligator’s head, or perhaps some
imaginary non-descript, placed at the end of a brass ferule, enclosing
the bamboo for half a yard at least.

Still there was abundant room for amelioration; but the natives could
brook no encroachment on the publicity thus given to their persons,
while seated in a vehicle, which, owing to the weight being nearly on a
level with the bearers’ shoulders, (a great portion, namely, the head
and shoulders, being far above it) added to the awkward arch above,
which operated as a lever, was peculiarly unsteady; ever threatening to
upset with the least inattention to equipoise. The danger of adding to
the superincumbent weight, of which the mischief was sensibly felt,
caused a slight reduction of the lever, by lengthening the suspending
laths a few inches, so as to lower the centre of gravity. But, by way of
recompence, perhaps, for the supposed degradation, a rich covering of
broad-cloth was thrown over the arch; having in it several bamboo-laths
running at right angles with the bamboo; and forming a canopy,
corresponding in form with the curve, about four and a half feet in
width; of which the corners were tied down to those of the palanquin
frame, and the edges were trimmed with an open quadrated, or reticulated
fringe, full six inches in depth.

As it would be a sin to spoil so costly an awning, it was taken off in
bad weather, and put into a bag made of wax-cloth, to be carried on one
of the bearers’ shoulders; in the mean while, a large sheet, of the same
material, was thrown over the bamboo, to keep the inhabitant from being
washed away. It is not above twenty-five years back, that this kind of
palanquin was in use among the European residents of India, and
especially among the military.

Probably in consequence of a painted canvas awning being used, curving
down gradually at the sides, not unlike a _testudo_, this machine was
called a ‘_fly-palanquin_.’ It was, however, made full six feet in
length, and of a comfortable breadth, being also furnished with a good
pillow or two, and a neat bedding, stuffed with that kind of cotton
known by the name of _seemul_. The bamboo frame, on which the canvas was
stretched, and of which a ruffle about six inches in depth remained
pendant, was lined with colored silk, chintz, &c. giving the interior
rather a finished appearance. I have no doubt but the form of this kind
of palanquin, as in use among the natives, gave rise to the use of
_punkahs_, in preference to _chattahs_; it must be obvious that the
former, being flat, and furnished with a flounce full half a yard in
depth, was more conformable to the lateral apertures than an umbrella
could be; while, at the same moment, it was far more portable in passing
through those narrow streets and gullies, characterizing every great
city in India.

Time ‘astonished the natives,’ as well as the Europeans, by bringing
forth the _Mahannah-palanquin_. This vehicle, now so common, has
entirely banished the _fly-palanquin_, of which it would probably be
difficult to find one in use with any European throughout the country:
so general, indeed, has been the adoption of the former, that many of
the natives, in every part, now either ride in _mahannahs_, or have
their _doolies_ constructed in imitation of them. The _mahannah_
resembles an immense chest, standing on four feet, raising it nearly a
foot from the ground. About two-fifths of each side is open, serving for
a door; the residue being usually closed up, either with very thin
pannels, or with canvas, leather, &c. The doors are sometimes made to
close, by means of two Venetian frames, that, when brought from their
recesses, meet in the centre, but at other times run back, on small
metal wheels, in grooves behind the pannels respectively.

The roof is made of very thin pannelling board, laid longitudinally over
slight battens a little cambered; though some are quite flat: over the
boards a stout, but thin, canvas is well stretched, and beaded down at
the edges: this is usually painted white. The fore, and back, parts are
in general closed, with the exception of two small Venetian, or perhaps
glass, windows, near the top; to allow a draught of air. The exterior is
painted according to the fancy of the proprietor; often very handsomely,
and well varnished. The front and hind poles attach at about
three-fifths up the body of the vehicle; being rivetted to iron ribs,
firmly screwed by means of diverging claws to the main pieces, they are
further steadied by iron stays, proceeding from the top and bottom
corners, of each end respectively, to the pole; to which they are bolted
at about eighteen inches from the body. The poles are always covered
with leather.

The body of a _mahannah_ is generally about six feet, or six feet two
inches long, and from twenty-six to thirty inches in width; the height
is sufficient to allow a tall person’s sitting upright, without a hat.
The beddings of most are covered with chintz of neat patterns; while a
small piece of carpet, tiger’s-skin, morocco-leather, or some such
article, is spread at the feet, to prevent its being soiled.

In most _mahannahs_ there are racks, which serve to support the back;
others are provided with two small, or one large pillow, also covered
with chintz. Above the doors it is common to screw in flat brass knobs,
whereon to button either canvas or leather curtains, that will roll up
occasionally, and buckle like the aprons of gigs, &c.: there are also
studs, of the same description, fixed at the sides of the doors, to
fasten down the edges of the curtains. One principal use, however, of
such studs, is, to affix _cheeks_ made of _kuss-kuss_, to be watered
when journeying any distance.

The _mahannah_ is unquestionably a very heavy vehicle, and, being
totally devoid of elasticity, far more oppressive to the bearers than
any machine on a slighter construction. Yet the average rate of
travelling may be computed at from three and a half, to a quarter
wanting of four miles, within the hour, in going great distances; such
as from Chunar to Calcutta, at the proper season, when the waters are
not out, and the heat not too oppressive. That estimate includes all
stops for changes of bearers, which, in travelling _dawk_, (that is,
_post_,) will take place at certain stages, from ten to fifteen miles
apart. Thus, a journey of four hundred miles may be made in about five
days, with great ease; the night being often more favorable than the day
to making progress; especially from March to the middle of June. During
that period, the roads are every where good, the grass jungles in most
places burnt away, and fewer tigers lurk near the highways. It is often
necessary to lie by for a few hours during the mid-day; when the ground
is so hot as absolutely to scorch the bearers’ feet. At such times, the
_kuss-kuss tatties_ are peculiarly serviceable; but, in case none are
affixed, the _guttah-tope_, or palanquin-cover, must be kept wet; as
already observed, in describing the occupations of the _bheesty_, or

Ladies are usually conveyed about Calcutta, or any where for short
distances, in a kind of palanquin, called a _boҫhah_. This has its poles
fixed much in the same manner as in the _mahannah_, but its body is of a
very different form; being a compound of our sedan chair with the body
of a chariot. Its deep shape, and its seat, much resemble the former;
but having two doors, one on each side, with one window in front, as
well as a small one behind, all furnished with Venetians and glasses,
give it, in those respects, some claim to alliance with the latter. I
should have observed, that most of the gentlemen residing at Calcutta,
ride in _boҫhahs_; which afford a better look-out, are more portable,
and can turn about in narrow places, where a _mahannah_ could not:
besides, they are far lighter. The _boҫhah_ made expressly for a lady,
is fitted up in some style, and always has four large tassels, commonly
of white silk, hanging at the four upper corners. There are usually
pockets in front, and to the doors; the same as in chariots, &c.

About Dacca, Chittagong, Tipperah, and other mountainous parts, a very
light kind of conveyance is in use, called a _taum-jaung_, _i.e._ ‘a
support to the feet.’ This consists of an arm-chair, with a low back, at
the sides of which two poles are affixed, even with the seat; from the
two fore legs of the chair, iron stays project forward, supporting a
foot-board, placed diagonally, so as to meet the natural position of the
soles when the feet are thrown forward, much the same as the foot-boards
of coach-boxes, only on a very light construction. In some instances,
the _taum-jaungs_ (vulgarly called _tom-johns_) are carried the same as
the _naulkeen_; that is, by the four ends of the poles resting on the
shoulders of as many bearers, all independent of each other. Experience
has, however, proved such to be a very dangerous practice; for, if one
of the bearers stumbles, the machine must inevitably be overset: the
fall from such a height, especially if proceeding at a quick pace, is
not devoid of danger. To remedy this, it has latterly become a custom to
suspend two stout batons, by means of strong doubled cords, between the
ends of the poles, before and behind; making such an allowance in
respect to the length of cord, or sling, as may allow the poles to come
down about as low as the bearers’ hips. The batons are slung by their
middles, one bearer supporting the fore, the other the hind, part of
each; all moving between the two side poles, but nearly in a line one
behind the other. This does not altogether obviate the possibility of
falling, by means of a stumble; but it lessens that danger considerably,
and renders the accident less severe; the seat being much lowered.

In this respect, the _boҫhah_ is also safer than the _mahannah_; the
former being so much nearer the ground, and the erect position of the
rider rendering him less liable to injury. When the hind bearers of a
_mahannah_ fall, not only the legs of the vehicle, but the head of its
inhabitant, may be injured: such accidents are rarely attended with any
other inconvenience than a job for the carpenter. If the fall takes
place when a bearer is pushing behind, resting the palm of his hand
against the butt end of the hinder pole, as is very common, there will
be an additional impetus, by no means favorable to the machine;
especially if the foremost bearers give way. Most of the _mahannah_
palanquins have a box under the feet, and perhaps one under the head
also, made water tight, and furnished with a lock. This, when
travelling, is extremely convenient; insuring the presence of many
little articles, both of raiment and refreshment, which, if trusted to a
_bangy_, might not arrive in due time.

The _bangy_ is a slip of bamboo, perhaps five feet in length, which, in
the middle, may be four inches in width; the thickness about an inch;
towards the ends it tapers a little, and has shoulders left, whereby to
secure the nets, wherein are two baskets, made either of rattans, or of
reeds, very closely worked, and probably covered with painted canvas, of
leather. The _bangy-wollah_, that is, the bearer who carries the
_bangy_, supports the bamboo on his shoulder, so as to equipoise the
baskets suspended at each end. If not overladen, the _bangy_ will
generally keep pace with the palanquin; the bearer shifting the bamboo
from one, to the other shoulder, as he proceeds.

Many gentleman have _r’hunts_, or _r’huts_, for the conveyance of their
native ladies, either on a march, or to take an airing occasionally: in
such case, a man must be employed to drive, and to take care of the
bullocks. He is designated the ‘_g’horry-waun_;’ or carriage servant.
His dress cannot be reduced to any exact standard, but will generally be
found to resemble that of the _khedmutgar_; his pay being ordinarily
from four to six rupees monthly. The generality of persons following
this avocation, are rather elderly, and possess the outward shew of
great decency and respectability; but I believe they are, with few
exceptions, by no means of a character such as would be supposed from
their venerable and sanctified appearance. I have seen so much, and the
instances are so common, of the intrigues carried on, or connived at, by
_g’horry-wauns_, as to satisfy me of their being as great hypocrites as
are to be found on earth. The construction of a _r’hut_ is so very
curious as almost to defy description.

The _g’horry-waun_ sits astride that part of the fore-frame which may be
compared with the pole and traverse of one of our four-wheeled
carriages, under a _seiwaun_, or _semiaun_, made of the same stuff as
the covering, supported in nearly a horizontal position, by two slight
poles fixed into iron ferules at the body of the frame, and proceeding,
at and angle of about 45° to the foremost edge of the _seiwaun_. The
bullocks are managed by means of a strong cord, passed through their
_septums_, or divisions between their nostrils, and tied over the crowns
of their heads, where the rein, made also of rope, attaches: this
effectually curbs the cattle. Possibly such a device may appear to
partake of cruelty; but experience has proved, that no other mode is
adequate to keeping this fiery, restless, and vicious, breed of cattle
in tolerable subordination. The _g’horry-waun_ is provided with a severe
goad: the application of which, to the hind quarters of the bullocks,
causes them to keep up a good smart trot. When they are tolerably quiet,
the driver’s feet generally suffice, to keep them to their pace: but,
when all other modes fail, he twists their tails, and thus urges them to
their best speed. The reins should serve both to stop, and to guide;
but, as the bullocks are not always prompt in turning when only so acted
upon, the tail is often resorted to, as a never-failing rudder!

Your true home-bred Englishmen can have little idea of the rate at which
a pair of oxen can draw one of these _r’huts_; he cannot readily
imagine, that they can travel from four to six miles within the hour;
and that, too, where the _g’horry-ka-leek_, or track of a wheel, is
scarcely to be found. I have seen a pair of _Nagore_, or of _Guzzerat_,
bullocks, (I forget which,) standing full sixteen hands at the withers,
(making allowance for the humps on the shoulders of all cattle bred in
that quarter;) that could with ease trot with a _r’hut_ at the rate of
eight miles within the hour. But such must not be considered as common:
perhaps five miles may be the truest average. Nor is it to be
understood, that bullocks keep up an even pace, as horses do; on the
contrary, they either proceed at their quickest trot, or at a walk;
there is little medium: the fact is, that, not being trained to a
continuance of one set pace, but urged by starts, at the will of their
driver, they want that habit which would improve their wind.

That breed of oxen said to be chiefly raised in the Guzzerat, and Nagore
districts, is very fine. The animals are of a milky whiteness,
handsomely formed, with fine eyes, and horns generally not more than a
foot in length, but gracefully turned, partly forward, and partly
upward. The natives invariably either paint or gild the horns; and
sometimes mark the sides, necks, hams, and shoulders, of their favorites
with _mindy_; that is, with the plant generally known among botanists,
under the name of _hinna_. Of this I shall have occasion to speak more
fully when treating of the ornaments in use among the ladies of India:
at present briefly remarking, that, whether owing to the coarse manner
in which the _mindy_ is applied, or to my want of taste, the practice
never pleased me; although the color itself, namely, a tawny red, forms
by no means a bad contrast to the brilliant whiteness of the animal.

A conveyance on two wheels, but in most other respects perfectly similar
to the _r’hut_, is extremely common in India; being used by men, as well
as by women. The body of this kind is usually square; and the roof by no
means so elevated. With few exceptions, these have red covers, in the
sides of which, as also in those of the _r’huts_, are small slits,
serving for peep-holes. In this two-wheeled kind, called generally
_ghorries_, (_i.e._ carriages,) such are more necessary than in the
others; the former being almost invariably fitted up with _cheeks_, or
screens; one of which is ever appended to the fore-part, between the
interior and the driver. The common _g’horry_, now under description, is
rarely, if ever, kept by any European; but may be seen plying for hire
in various parts of Calcutta. Some of these have shafts in which a
_tattoo_ (poney) is fixed, with very slight harness; barely sufficient
to keep the crook-saddle in its place. This is a recent improvement; as
is also the application of _tattoos_ to _r’huts_: I understand they are
found to be more manageable, and far cheaper than bullocks; besides,
their pace is much quicker; and, in case of failure, they are most
easily converted into cash: an object of great moment to the
parsimonious Hindu!

Neither the dress, nor the emoluments, of the persons driving such
carriages, can be estimated with precision, but, in regard to the
latter, we may safely conjecture that something handsome is made;
knowing them to be employed more in the conveyance of prostitutes than
in any other kind of fare. The usual hire of a four-wheel _r’hut_, drawn
by _tattoos_, is, I believe, about three rupees per diem; while those
with two wheels, and only one _tattoo_, at the utmost earn only two
rupees: I never could ascertain any fixed rate; the _g’horry-waun_
always endeavoring to make his bargain for the trip to the best
advantage. Judging from the rapid strides made in various parts of the
country, especially at the several presidencies, to bring all matters to
that kind of system, without which nothing could be done in Europe, we
may expect, in a few years, to see regular fares and rates established,
as in use among us, for the prevention of misconduct, and over-charges,
on the parts of Hackney-coachmen and watermen.

The _g’horry-waun_ may further be employed in a more subordinate
capacity; namely, in driving a common cart, usually called a _chuckrah_,
and known by the designation of a ‘_hackery_’ among Europeans. This kind
of vehicle may carry, on an average, about eighteen or twenty maunds,
equal to about thirteen or fourteen hundred weight: it is drawn by two
oxen; though, in the northern parts of the country, we often see four
attached to those which convey cotton, or other gruff merchandize, I
confine myself, however, to such as may be retained by gentlemen, either
for the carrying on of works, or for the transportation of baggage. Such
as are hired by the day, usually cost half, or, at times, three quarters
of a rupee daily, when employed on the spot; but, if required to proceed
many stages, a whole rupee is demanded. When the _g’horry-waun_ is the
menial of any officer, &c. his pay, generally, is from four to five
rupees monthly; or sometimes four when stationary, and five when
marching. His dress is little better than that of a common _cooly_. Like
all other servants to whose care the feeding of cattle is entrusted,
this domestic will continue to extract some perquisite from whatever he
either receives, or has to purchase. What with _dustooree_, short
weight, over-charges, repairs, medicines, I have always found the
_g’horry-waun_ fully a match for his British compeers, in the proportion
of emoluments derived from whatever money, &c. passed through his hands.
Fortunately, the sum total of expences in the maintenance of a
_hackery_, is very small, when compared with those attendant on a
handsome chariot and pair, parading daily in the park.

The duty of a _g’horry-waun_ is confined to the charge of his cattle; he
seeing them properly rubbed down, and supplied with provender, which
usually consists of the small chaff from various kinds of pulse, or of
the stems of _badjra_, _jewar_, &c. (various kinds of millet,) or of the
_bootah_, (or Indian-corn,) which, being purchased in bundles, he chops,
with a common bill, on a log of wood. When bullocks are allowed _gram_,
(already mentioned,) the usual portion for each is about two, or, at the
utmost, three seers each; the seer weighing about two pounds
avoirdupoise. It is indispensably necessary that this servant should
understand how to load his carriage to advantage, and be able to repair
such parts as may not actually require the aid of artizans. Thus, he
must be competent to sew _saleetah_, or large sacking cloth spread at
the bottom of the _hackery_, and lapping up, over every part, so as to
prevent articles from being lost; and, in some degree, keeping them from
being injured by the weather. He must likewise be able to take off a
wheel, and above all things, he must be a careful, steady driver. This
is the more necessary, owing to the distance between the wheels in all
Hindostanee carriages being very small; and the load being placed, in
most instances, above the level of their upper fellies; causing the
gravity to be thrown very high in a _hackery_ laden with bulky articles;
and, consequently, very liable to be overturned. On the whole, few
accidents of this kind happen; which, considering how much night
travelling prevails in India, is rather surprizing. Possibly this is
owing to the deepness of the ruts on roads frequented by carriages;
whereby the wheels are presented in their course, so as to prevent the
bullocks from deviating. As to the distance a _hackery_ can travel in
the course of a day, that must depend entirely on the state of the road,
the strength and condition of the cattle, the heat of the weather, and
the weight to be drawn: under fair circumstances, from fourteen to
sixteen miles may be effected; but the latter distance is considered a
forced march. To the weight of the carriage and its load, that of the
driver must be added: he usually sitting immediately behind the
bullocks. When the load is unavoidably rather too heavy behind, so as to
cause a tendency to tilting, he sits more forward, between the cattle,
and even occasionally upon the yoke itself. It is evident the latter
position must be extremely oppressive to the cattle; but in _hackeries_
laden with cotton, where the burthen necessarily occupies a great space,
hanging over the rumps of the cattle, such a position is nearly

The _hackeries_ used in that branch of trade, are peculiarly strong, and
invariably drawn by at least three bullocks; though more commonly by
four. Sometimes buffaloes are used; but their pace is very slow, and
they are extremely addicted to lying down in every puddle: their immense
strength is, nevertheless, a great inducement to employing them, where
very heavy commodities are to be carried; but it is found eligible, when
buffaloes are yoked, to travel entirely by night; those animals being by
no means calculated to bear the solar heat, which oppresses them
inconceivably. The native merchants commonly mix one or two among their
teams, and, not unfrequently, cause full thirty-five maunds, equal to
about twenty-four cwt., to be laid on one _hackery_: but the distance
travelled under such an immense load, can seldom amount to twelve miles.

While on the subject of drivers, which I have purposely made the last
among the male servants, it may be as well to offer a few hints
regarding European servants, and English cattle. It might be said, in
brief, that neither the one, nor the other, is found to answer in India.
An European servant must have nearly as many natives to attend him as an
officer requires; he must have a house; and a million of indulgences,
such as nearly abrogate his services, must be shewn towards him. Many
have been taken to India, but the result has generally been, that, after
saving a little money, or making a few friends, especially by farriery,
they have set up in some business, and with very little warning, or
ceremony, quitted their masters; who, on the other hand, were usually
far from desiring their continuance. I think my own memory would furnish
sufficient instances to warrant the assertion, that few, if any, of this
class, can be exempted from the charge of ingratitude.

Really, when all things are considered, it must be owing to excess of
vanity, or to some kindred folly, that any gentleman would retain an
European coachman, or postilion, at full two hundred rupees monthly, all
items included, when an excellent substitute may be found, among the
many natives who follow those professions, and to whom a twelfth part of
that sum is a little fortune. As to an European butler, steward, &c.,
the same objection exists; with the additional inconvenience of having
not only an extra guest at all times, (for his fare will, in every
respect, equal that of his master,) but a spy in livery, who will hear
all the table talk, commercial, military, or political, and retail it,
together with his own opinions and comments, to the whole of the native

Whenever a lady has carried out an European female servant, whether old
or young, ugly or beautiful, it has usually happened that a speedy
separation has taken place: many, indeed, have deserted from their
mistresses while touching at Madras. Consequently, nothing but vexation
and disappointment are ever to be expected from the attempt to fix such
a person in her situation after arrival in India. No matter what bonds,
contracts, or agreements, may have been entered into: these are all got
rid of, by the party’s behaving in such a manner as totally precludes
the possibility of detention. It may perhaps be urged, that, by
reference to a magistrate, any unwarrantable conduct might be punished;
but, however reasonable such an expectation might appear in Britain, it
would be found totally inapplicable to India. I much doubt whether any
justice would take cognizance of such a complaint, unless connected with
some felonious proceeding, which might warrant him in committing to
prison. This may appear a strange doctrine, and give but an indifferent
opinion of the police; which, nevertheless, is superior to our own: it
is far easier, for either European or native, to obtain redress in
Calcutta, than at any of our public offices. The fact is, that the
necessity for upholding the British character, however much formerly
neglected by some persons in power, is now so well understood, that,
nothing short of absolute compulsion would actuate a magistrate to
commit an European woman, upon a charge of neglect of duty, inebriety,
insolence, or other such impropriety: the litigation of pecuniary points
would, of course, be referred to the Supreme Court; where the expences
are at least three times as heavy as in the British tribunal, and the
prosecutor would, in the end, have little to boast in regard to gaining
his cause; though, possibly, he might gratify his resentments at a
precious price!

Ladies embarking for India should seek for some female attendant, native
of that country, wishing to return to her home. Many of these women,
whose characters will bear ample scrutiny, come to England in charge of
children, or with their mistresses, and would be extremely glad to go
back under the joint advantages of emolument, and protection. An
advertisement will bring forward many applicants: and a constant search
among the advertisements in the various newspapers, will rarely fail to
answer the same purpose. As numbers of this class promulgate their
wishes to return to India, an additional advantage results from this
measure; because, on arrival in the river, an useful interpreter is at
hand; while, perhaps, a trusty and able servant is obtained; who, being
attached, by many little kindnesses while on board-ship, would continue
to serve, at least until some other might be obtained.

The female who attends a lady while she is dressing, &c., is called an
_Ayah_; pretty nearly corresponding with the ‘lady’s maid’ among us. The
wages of this servant are by no means settled, but may be taken on
average at from eight to twelve rupees monthly. Some are _half-cast_
children; that is, of European fathers and native mothers: brought up in
families from their infancy. To these, good treatment and kindness
should form a valuable compensation for the smallness of wages; and
induce some among them to remain for numbers of years, faithful and
affectionate; but such are by no means numerous, when compared with the
thousands who, at a certain age, either quit in search of places
affording either higher pay, or handsome perquisites; or who, if
handsome, engage as ‘house-keepers to single gentlemen!’ The majority of
_ayahs_ are of Portugueze extraction, being descended from those heroes
who, in times of yore, ‘laid bleeding Asia prostrate at their feet;’ but
who now compose the most contemptible race to be found on earth;
affording to the natives ample scope for comparison between the modern,
and the quondam European. These Portuguese are all ‘good Christians,’
and, in several parts of the country, have small church-establishments,
where they support missionaries; but in that humble style which strongly
represents that abject state of Christianity, when the disciples were in
a state of persecution.

However much their ancient splendor may have been tarnished, yet it
cannot be denied, that, in religious matters, the sable Portugueze of
Bengal have out-done the British completely. They had long ago churches,
and have now one in Calcutta, built at a great expence by an opulent
individual, which may at least competite with the only English steeple
to be seen under the presidency of Fort-William. This solitary type of
English devotion, was built some twenty years ago, in an old burying
ground, where the bones of many worthy men, among whom I reckon my own
grand-father, had lain in peace for scores of years; but which, in
making arrangements for the new edifice, were torn up, and exposed,
without much regard to decency. It would be difficult to pourtray the
horror expressed in the countenances of many natives, who were witnesses
of the disgusting scene: as to their observations, they were indeed
pointed; and conveyed their decided detestation of so sacrilegious an
act. I say sacrilegious, because no Mussulman would allow even the
remains of his most bitter enemy, to be ejected from their last asylum!

Many Portugueze _ayahs_ affect to be in possession of genealogies,
whereby it should appear they are lineally descended from most
illustrious characters; most of whom would, no doubt, be indeed abashed,
could they now take a peep at their ill-fated and degenerate posterity!
It is scarcely to be conceived how much pride is retained by women of
this class: they are fond of adulation, and love the dear word
‘_Signora,_’ even to adoration. To see one of them full dressed on
Christmas Day, is truly diverting; their costume being, as nearly as
circumstances will admit, that of the days of royalty in France, with a
dash of the antique VERA-CRUZ: to remind them, I suppose, of that
eclipse which a gradual intermixture with the natives, has cast upon
their once tawny, but now sable, countenances. One would think, that the
humiliating reflections attendant upon such a comparison, should prompt
them to burn their pedigrees, and to avoid whatever could induce to
retrospection! But, no; the _ayah_ prides herself on that remote
affinity, to which her records give the claim; she retains all the
offensive hauteur of her progenitors; which, being grafted upon the most
obnoxious qualities of the Hindu, or Mussulman, characters, makes a
_tout ensemble_ as ridiculous as it is despicable!

The Hindostanee _ayah_, (by which I mean a woman born either of
Mussulman, or of Hindu, parents,) is rather rare, unless in cases where
young women have lost their _casts_, and, in a manner, become aliens to
their own sects. These are said to be far the most valuable servants;
much superior to such as come under the designation of _baundy_, (_i.e._
slave,) and which have, for the most part, been purchased in their
infancy, from those miserable beings who, during times of scarcity, have
been compelled to sell their offspring; thereby preserving the lives of
both. The obligation, however, does not hold good, according to the
existing regulations, under the British government; slavery being
totally repugnant thereto; though the Mahomedan law authorizes the
purchaser of a child, thus obtained, to retain it, and to command its
services, upon the condition of proper food and raiment, until a certain
age; when liberation takes place. There is, nevertheless, in this a wide
latitude; it being extremely difficult for the slave to substantiate his
age, which can only be computed according to what the purchaser may
choose to assert it to have been when the sale took place: it is
obvious, that he may sink many years in that particular.

Although very few of the Hindostanee women, except such as come under
the above description, serve in the capacity of _ayahs_ attendant upon
ladies, many are employed as nurses to children after quitting the
breast. In such case, an _ayah_ rarely attends more than one child;
hence, in some families, this class of domestics would be extremely
numerous, were it not that few children, born of European parents, are
retained beyond their third, or fourth, year in the country. The
generality of those remaining, even for that term, under the care of
_ayahs_, become crafty, proud, and unmannerly; which has occasioned
several ladies to engage as few as possible of those attendants, and to
give their little ones in charge to bearers, or other male servants;
under whose care they are found to be less vitiated, and, in general,
far more healthy. Unless great attention be paid, _ayahs_ will initiate
their young charges in many practices, and especially in language, such
as must require infinite assiduity to subdue; and, after all, may not be
completely suppressed. Besides, they are usually very slovenly, and
offensive in their persons.

The _Dhye_ is more generally an attendant upon native ladies: many of
these are perfect in all the arts of intrigue; and, while they appear to
be tottering to their graves, are often on their way to manage an
assignation! The dress of these, in most points, corresponds with that
of the Hindostanee _ayah_, but their pay is much less; few receiving
more than five rupees, and the majority serving for four. But, according
to the old saying, ‘what they loose in the dance, they gain in turning
round;’ for what with little presents from both parties, and a number of
domestic perquisites, especially the remains of victuals, cast-off
wearing apparel, donations on certain festivals, overcharges in
purchases, _dustooree_ on all articles bought by the lady, &c. &c. &c.,
these Oriental ‘Mother Coles,’ manage to pick up a very good income,
and, not unfrequently, lend money to their mistresses at the moderate
rate of one _anna_, (_i.e._ a sixteenth,) per month, for every rupee
advanced. This is never done without a pledge, generally of silver or
gold ornaments, which the cunning jades lodge, under various pretexts,
with some friendly goldsmith, by whom they probably were made.

Such a rate of interest may appear very high, but is in general practice
where money is lent for short dates; and then under good security. It is
to be understood, that the money-lending business, especially that on
_bunduck_, or pledge, is confined entirely to the Hindus: Mussulmans are
prohibited by their sacred institutes from receiving, though they are
not so strictly tied down in respect to paying, interest; indeed, owing
to the less frugal habits of this sect, and their greater indulgence in
ostentatious display, few of its individuals can be considered totally
exempt from that heavy fine collected by the Hindu _shroffs_, and
_mahajans_, from such inconsiderate persons as have occasion to seek
their aid.

It is, nevertheless, remarkable, that the generality of such
money-lenders as reside at our several cantonments, are extremely
liberal in their advances to officers, who, when much in arrears, are
often extremely pressed for cash to defray their immediate table
expences: and that, too, even on the most economical plan. I have been
repeatedly kept from starving, by the accommodation afforded by
_shroffs_; whose civility and forbearance form a most striking contrast
with the punctual, and greedy, claims of both the Christian, and the
Jewish, Shylocks of Britain. It must not be denied, that, when
practicable, they will obtain some kind of security for their loans;
which is but reasonable: but many hundreds of rupees have been furnished
to me, simply on my acknowledgement, on a scrap of paper, barely
specifying the sum and date, without any form such as could have
validated the claim in case of my demise, or of my being prosecuted on
the occasion. The truth is, that, where they see no danger, they feel no

The generality of _dhyes_ attendant upon native ladies, hold a regular
intercourse with some one of the above class, by whom all difficulties
resulting from irregular receipts of pay are removed. This is
wonderfully facilitated by the circumstance of being related to some
young _khedmutgar_ in master’s service. Of this kind of family compact I
have already spoken; therefore it is not necessary to enter into details
at this moment: my readers will form a just opinion of the situation in
which a gentleman is placed, when parties are formed, both before and
behind the _purdah_, (curtain,) to watch his motions, and to carry on
the great work of deception. In this, I speak feelingly, having, like
hundreds of others, many of whom appeared studious to perpetuate their
misfortune, been the dupe of such coalitions; from which it is, indeed,
very difficult to escape. The attachment of many European gentlemen to
their native mistresses, is not to be described! An infatuation, beyond
all comparison, often prevails, causing every confidence, of whatever
description, to be reposed in the sable queen of the _haram!_ I do not
mean to say that the above deceptions are universal; for I could adduce
instances, wherein native women have conducted themselves invariably in
the most decorous manner, and evinced the utmost fidelity, in every
particular, to their keepers; some have absolutely sacrificed property
to no inconsiderable amount, and given up every pretension to _cast_;
that is, to admission among those of the same sect, or faith, braving
the most bitter taunts, and the reproaches of their friends and

Here it may not be out of the way to notice that strange medley of
religion, and of interest, some may say of love, which is observable in
the conduct of the native women, either residing under the protection of
Europeans, or coming under the ordinary description of _kusbeen_,
(_i.e._ prostitutes). Their rigid adherence to, or, at least, their
superficial observance of, whatever relates to the purification of their
persons, after contact, is admirable! It is not uncommon, among those
professing immense purity, both of body, and of soul, to get up several
times during the night, for the purpose of ablution. However ridiculous
such a practice may appear, yet we cannot refuse to bestow some
commendation on so strict an etiquette: lamenting, at the same time,
that so much perseverance should be thrown away. Must it not strike
every person, as being highly curious, that a woman should make no
scruple of cohabiting with a man, whose very touch, indeed, his entrance
within a certain area, or even treading on that carpet whereon she were
eating, should pollute the whole of the viands, and occasion their being
thrown to the dogs, or given to some _matranny_, or other equally
debased character? It really becomes a very serious question, I believe
hitherto overlooked, under what plea a woman can allow her child, born
under such a connection, to participate in her meals? But, reason is one
thing, and maternal affection another! Still, though it may require no
great sophistry for a woman to find an apology for such a decided
inconsistency, it seems unaccountable how she is suffered to escape that
vigilance, with which the priesthood, and others of her sect, watch her
every act. I can ascribe it only to a certain deference, which has
habitually sprung up in favor of all relating to Europeans, and
regarding their domestic concerns. This, doubtless, saves many from
those punishments, ordinarily attendant upon the most trifling
dereliction of religious or civil ordinances.

The following description of the private lives and customs of those
native women that are secluded from the public eye, was furnished to me
by a friend, whose extensive researches have rendered him conspicuous as
a Member of the Asiatic Society. I give it in his own words as a
faithful detail, which cannot fail to prove interesting.

‘The very confined knowledge which Europeans have of the domestic
manners and customs of the inhabitants of the Company’s territories, and
of their ally the Nabob Vizier, arising principally from the total want
of familiar intercourse with the natives, and a consequent ignorance of
the language, is a circumstance which, by the inquisitive European
traveller, would scarcely be credited. There are few countries in which
a year’s residence would not give a more intimate knowledge of the
language and manners of the inhabitants, than is generally to be
acquired during a whole life spent in India; particularly in Bengal and
the eastern provinces. Europeans have little connection with the
natives, of either religion; except what relates to business of a
public, or of a private, nature: and, though acquaintances, which
originate from such intercourse, may continue after the causes which
gave rise to them have ceased, yet seldom or never do they extend to
domestic communication. A native will attend rather in a ceremonious way
at a _nautch_[1], or other exhibition given by an European; but no
Hindu, and very few Mussulmans, would eat in an European’s house; at
least at his table. The native will, in his turn, invite his English
friend to a _nautch_, to an exhibition of wild beasts, and so forth; and
sometimes an entertainment may be given, (of which, however, the master
rarely partakes,) while his conduct and behaviour on such occasions can
afford but a slight insight into the domestic manners of the people when
free from that constraint, which the eye of a stranger, who is generally
treated, if not considered as a superior, throws upon all their actions.


Footnote 1:

  Or public dance, generally performed by hired women.


‘With the native women, of any rank in society, the European has not the
most distant communication. It will be observed, therefore, how
impossible it is for an European to speak from his own personal
knowledge of the familiar manners of the native of Hindostan. The
following sketch is collected from the various accounts received from
sensible and respectable people of different ranks in society. It will
probably correct some prejudices respecting the fair sex in Eastern
countries, or at least afford some reasonable explanation of the manner
in which they are treated. Their confinement is in general solely
ascribed to the jealousy of the husband, and to the number of wives
allowed to one man, to which the voluptuousness of a warm climate is
supposed to conduce. But, in speaking themselves of the confinement of
their women, they offer the following reasons for the custom, viz. the
variety of tribes, and intermixture of strange people; the instability
of their government, and consequent confusion in the country, requiring
that their families should be placed in secure places; the tyranny of
their former rulers and their favorites, with whom it was no unusual
occurrence to seize by force the wives of others; and, lastly, because a
passage in the Koran[2] seems to recommend a reserved deportment in
women. It says, ‘You shall not shew your _zeenut_[3] to any one except
your husband, your own father, or your husband’s; (the present custom in
Bengal precludes him;) your own son, or your husband’s son; or your
brother, or his son, or your sister’s son; or your own female servants,
being of your own faith; or your male servants of the following
description: such as old men, eunuchs, debilitated men, or fools, who
think of nothing but eating, or little children, unto such are you
allowed to shew your _zeenut_[3].’ Such exceptions from so sacred an
authority, which leaves little but the fingers and toes for general
inspection, would seem to render the seclusion of a Mussulman lady a
matter of necessity, not choice.


Footnote 2:

  The Institutes of Mahomed, held in the same estimation as our Bible.

Footnote 3:

  _Zeenut_, literally _ornamented_, means such parts as are usually
  covered; such as the breast, from the knee to the ancle, from the
  wrist upwards, the hand, shoulders, &c.


‘Neither the husbands, nor the wives, will, by any means, allow jealousy
to be the cause; for they say, ‘Were a woman viciously inclined, even
encircled by walls of iron, she would, by some contrivance or other,
find means for accomplishing her purpose. It is not,’ say they, ‘against
such their precautions are aimed: it is, that the minds of those who are
really pure may not be contaminated through the force of bad example;
and, that women, being naturally weak, and easily led astray, as may be
inferred from the story of poor Eve, it becomes the duty of the husbands
to guard them from the flowery paths of temptation.’ Such, indeed, is
the force of education, that a lady of Hindostan, of decent parentage,
would rather suffer death than exposure to public view. In imprecating
the greatest evils on the head of an enemy, a female could not conceive
any term so severe as those which conveyed a wish that the veil of
concealment might be rent asunder. However, notwithstanding the
seclusion of the ladies is so much talked of, and deemed so harsh, it
will, probably, on investigation, be found, that the prohibition extends
only to such as could have but a slight intercourse with them, even if
the full influence of social communication obtained. Their rules
respecting _muhrem_ and _na muhrem_, words implying _forbidden_ and _not
forbidden_, are, in their principle, simple enough, viz. ‘That a woman
may be seen by any man whose relationship to her precludes marriage’;
though custom has established many deviations from this rule; all which
seem to have arisen, not from jealousy, but from a mistaken sense of

‘In the upper provinces, all the brothers visit each other’s wives
without distinction; but, in Bengal, only those junior to the husband.
Indeed, in Bengal, the distinctions of _muhrem_, and _na muhrem_, are so
whimsical, and amount to such a mixture of Hindu superstition and
Mahomedan prejudice, as would render a detailed account of them
disgusting to the reader. I shall therefore comprize what I have to say
on the subject in as few words as possible.

‘A wife, even in Bengal, may enjoy the society of all her own male
relations. In this light are considered _chellas_, children brought up
in the family, and the relations of the nurse; the nurse being
considered as standing in the same relationship as the natural parents;
and often, among the great in the upper provinces, where two females are
solicitous to form an intimate connection, it is accomplished, as
completely as marriage could do it, by obtaining a female of one family
to suckle a child belonging to the other. Male friends, of the
respectable class, though never permitted to see each other’s wives,
make enquiries after the ladies’ healths, send and receive compliments,
and are sometimes permitted (with the precaution of the curtain) to free
and unrestrained conversation. It may be seen from the above, that the
circle of a lady’s male acquaintance may be much more extensive than
Europeans would in general suppose; for, taking advantage of the spirit
of the regulations, and waiving the more preposterous, half a dozen
sisters might enjoy the society of a number of men, little less limitted
than falls to the lot of most ladies of the middle ranks in colder
climates; and it must be remembered, that, what is said here generally
applies to the middle ranks, including the lesser _Ameers_.[4]


Footnote 4:

  _Ameers_ are persons high in office, or of illustrious families. This
  title is also bestowed on military commanders.


‘In the upper provinces, the ladies and gentlemen, at least among the
_Sheeaus_,[5] generally eat together; but in Bengal this is not the
case; there the wife does not even presume to eat in the husband’s
presence, and never partakes of any of his amusements. In the upper
provinces the social qualities are better understood; for when the
company consists of persons admissible into the _zenanah_, they all go
in; the men and women dine together, and, in general, sit on opposite
sides. The ladies, like ours, indulge in _tiffings_, (slight repasts,)
it being delicate to eat but little before company.


Footnote 5:

  A particular _cast_, or sect.


‘When there is an assemblage of fair visitors, the husband seldom enters
the _zenanah_, that he may not disturb their amusements, which, when
unobserved by men, take a free range. The wife never mentions her
husband by name. This respect, as it is termed, is reciprocal. Indeed,
people in general avoid addressing each other by name, substituting some
title; as ‘your ladyship;’ or by the name of a favorite child, as
‘William’s mother;’ or by a periphrasis. It is so strictly observed by
some wives, that they would not mention an indifferent matter by the
same name as their husband is called by. Should, for instance, the
husband’s name be ‘_Year_,’ the wife would say, ‘I am sixteen
twelvemonths old,’ rather than sixteen ‘years.’ However, this excessive
nicety will only be found among villagers.

‘Some _ladies_ pride themselves much in the arts of needle-work and
cookery: excellence in the former being deemed a good criterion to form
a judgment of a lady’s education: a wife, therefore, who did not take
upon herself the whole internal management of the household, would be
held in great disrepute. They are, in general, allowed a certain sum
yearly for cloaths, and all expences of the house within doors, from
which, by good management, they often save considerable sums of money,
and, in times of distress, when the inconsiderate husband thinks his all
is gone, often does his wife relieve his distresses from her little

‘In addition to the established allowance, there are other fixed sums
appropriated. In their holidays, which frequently occur, dinner is
always dressed within the _zenanah_, except upon occasions of great
feasts and entertainments, when, of course, the arrangement must be made
by men. When only a few friends are expected, the wife, being informed
of their number and rank, issues her orders accordingly, through her
female attendants, to the male servants of the house. The education of
the daughters, and sons also, whilst young, is entirely entrusted to the
mother. Should one of the former forget those lessons of chastity, and
of correctness of behaviour, which it is her mother’s constant
solicitude to impress on her mind; nay, should her conduct even be such
as to create suspicion; immediate death from the hand of the parent
would be the consequence. I am speaking here of rather the higher
orders; for people in the middle ranks of life are more restrained in
their conduct, more within the reach of the law, and, besides, the point
of honor which acts with such force in high-minded families, loses its
impetus with them.—Such is the influence the women possess in Hindostan,
that, whenever _Soonees_ and _Sheeaus_[6] intermarry, (a circumstance
not unusual,) the children are always instructed in the tenets of the
mother, and often their first prattle consists in a ridicule of their
father’s faith.


Footnote 6:

  Two different sects of the Mahomedan religion.


‘At all marriages, (the ceremonies of which will be hereafter detailed,)
or on the occurrence of much-wished-for events, such as the return of a
son safely from the wars, the recovery of a lost child, &c., or when a
lady wishes to be enrolled among the _naik zuns_, or _pure matrons_, a
feast is given in honor of Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet, which is
termed _kundooree_, a word implying _off-falls_.—No woman can partake of
this feast, unless she be of the purest morals; and it is generally
imagined, that an impure person, even tasting the sacred food prepared
on that occasion, would surely die. The lady who gives the feast,
performs menial offices to the guests, such as washing their feet, &c.
The victuals served up, consists of such articles as Fatima is supposed
to have preferred, viz. rice, ghee, sugar, pulse, and vegetables. A
share is sent to the men; but not of that set apart for the offering; of
which the pure matrons may alone partake. To be considered as such, a
woman must have regularly kept all the annual feasts, and be married;
or, if a virgin, she must then at least disclaim all intentions of
changing her condition. No woman contracted in marriage only for a time,
such as the _moota_[7] of the _Sheeaus_, and the _nekaw_[7] of the
_Soonees_, can be admitted. The word _nekaw_, among the vulgar, implies,
but improperly, the secondary kind of marriage. No woman, who has
married a second time, though she may not have conversed with the first
husband, can partake of the _kundooree_.


Footnote 7:

  A loose state of irregular matrimony, sanctioned by the Mahomedan law.


‘The females are seldom married before the age of fifteen. (I wish it to
be understood, when I speak indefinitely of the Mussulmans, that I
allude to those of the upper provinces; for the manners of the Bengal
Mussulman partake so much of the Hindu, as to leave but few traces of
their original character perceptible). An earlier period is frequently
fixed on, where purposes of interest and policy may be answered. Old
maids, at least among the great, are not at all uncommon; caused by a
kind of false pride, or I know not what to term it, of the parents, who
cannot bear that their daughters’ nakedness should be known to any one.
Nadir Shah, it is said, either from a prejudice of this nature, or more
probably from a jealousy of too highly honoring any of his subjects,
destroyed all his female children, which were extremely numerous,
immediately on their birth, except one; who was concealed from him till
she had attained her thirteenth year. It was then contrived that she
should be brought into his presence. She is said to have been all that
was beautiful in nature! She flew to his embrace, which he fondly
returned, ignorant that he clasped his own daughter. But, when this
devoted child addressed him as her father, the hardened monster seized
the innocent victim by the legs, and kept her head immersed in a
fountain till she expired! Such an account, even of the unfeeling Nadir
Shah, is scarcely to be credited; but the story may shew the name he has
left behind him in Hindostan.

‘The late vizier, Asoph ul Dowlah, left about thirty sisters unmarried;
not that I believe _his_ delicacy would have suffered from any such
fastidious notions as above alluded to; their celibacy was owing to the
difficulty of obtaining suitable matches for women of their rank; which,
in the present state of the country, must be almost impracticable.

‘Reading and writing are not usual accomplishments with the ladies of
Hindostan. Among the great, there are, however, some who read such books
as the Koran, &c. and some few who write; but of all delightful
intercourse by letter they are entirely debarred; it being deemed
indecent even for a wife directly to address her husband; therefore,
whether she employ an amanuensis to pen a letter, or be capable of
transcribing it herself, it must be written as from a third person; such
as a son, or near relation.

‘Among the better order, about ten in a hundred can read the Koran; but
it must not be understood by reading, that they thence comprehend one
single word of it; that book being to them, what our Bible, in a Latin
version, must formerly have been to our common people. The mode of
passing their time, though apparently not affording all that variety
which an European lady enjoys, is not devoid of amusement. They
generally rise, or should do so, at daybreak; that they may have time to
purify themselves before the rising of the sun, at which time the first
prayer is repeated.—After prayers, the important business at the
toilette commences, in which, as is usual among ladies, two or three
hours, at least, are _profitably_ spent. The _missee_ is applied to the
feet and sweet-smelling oils, &c. to the body; while their flowing
ringlets (those nets which entangle unhappy lovers, and which their
poets are so fond of describing) are now nicely adjusted. In short, the
toilette is become with them a perfect art, and much of a young lady’s
time is engrossed in attending to instructions on this head. After the
toilette, comes the breakfast; which does not, like ours, consist of
fixed articles, but varies agreeably to the taste of the parties, and to
the management of the mistress. It will not appear unnecessary to
observe, that they never use knives or spoons; and, indeed, they seem to
think that we lose much of the relish of the food by the artificial aids
we employ on such occasions.

‘After breakfast, and having issued the necessary orders for dinner, the
lady of the house, attended by her daughters and slave-girls, sits down
to needle-work; an excellence on which, as well as all kinds of
embroidery, they greatly pride themselves. Among the middle ranks, such
as can write, often employ themselves in copying the Koran, which, when
compleated, is either sold for, or given to, some poor person, to be
converted into property more needful to him.

‘The sound of the _cherky_, or spinning wheel, is always considered
indicative of poverty, and is therefore seldom heard in the houses of
the great; but women of a middling class, often spin large quantities of
cotton-wool into fine thread, intended to be wove into mulmuls, &c. for
their own apparel. The coarser skeans being allotted to their
_baundees_, or female slaves.

‘Between twelve and one they generally dine, every person washing the
face and hands before the company sits down at table, or rather
table-_cloth_; which is spread on the ground, and around which all the
party arrange themselves: except it be among the Bengal Mussulmans, or
among such as have adopted the Hindu manners, by whom a wife is not
permitted to eat in the presence of her husband. This meal generally
consists of boiled rice, or of wheaten cakes, stewed or _curried_
vegetables. Curry is made of fowls, kid, and goats’ flesh. Beef is
seldom sought after, except in cities; and mutton is by most considered
as an inflating, unwholesome food. The head, heart, lights, feet, &c. of
animals, are rejected. The dinner is usually divided into as many shares
as the company consists of, and brought in that way from the cook-room;
except on great occasions, when the servant serves it out. They have no
change of plates until the sweetmeats are brought in. Tooth-picks, and
the wash-hand bason, are presented to each, except there should be a
large company; in that case, they perform the ablution apart.

‘They have not the custom of any particular person saying _grace_ before
or after meals; each repeating in a low voice the _name of God_. After
meals, thanks are returned by the male part, but not by the female: a
curious distinction! the reason for which, my Mussulman narrator
ungallantly alleges to spring from the nature of woman in general.
Immediately after dinner, the parties retire to take their
afternoon-nap; on arising from which the toilette again engages the
ladies’ attention. Disengaged from it, they walk round their gardens
(which are enclosed,) to enjoy the evening air. After sun-set, when the
evening prayers are over, the relations and friends visit each other;
and this is the hour in which the husband withdraws himself from general
intrusion, and retires to the _zenanah_. Here, surrounded by his wife
and children, he enjoys the pleasing converse of the one, and the
innocent diversions of the other. The young folks of both sexes play at
_blindman’s buff_, and such-like sports, which are generally succeeded
by the proposing of enigmas, the narration of enchanting tales,
unpremeditated rhymes, and other various, and not unuseful, exhibitions
of wit. In such disports, great part of the night glides away unnoticed,
as the female visitors do not return home till the next morning. Games
are not much encouraged among them. _Patchees_, a game in high vogue
among the ladies, is, I believe, the only one allowed. The word means
twenty-five. The game is played with _cowries_, which answer for dice.

‘It is a well-known circumstance, that no Mussulman, or Mussulmanee,
ever thinks of dancing for the pleasure of the thing. The _meerassen_,
(a set of women whose province it is,) are called in on particular
occasions: but, among people of high rank, it is usual to have a number
of slave-girls, termed _gaeen_,[8] taught music and dancing, who are
always ready to amuse the family.


Footnote 8:

  Probably from _gownah_, (_i.e._ to sing).


‘Europeans may, on such a subject, be surprized with the _singular_
sound of ‘_the wife_’ so often repeated, so impressed as they
generally are with the idea of a Mussulman and his seraglio of
‘_wives_.’ However, it will be found, by such as will take the trouble
of investigation, that those travellers, whose relations have given
rise to such erroneous ideas, have deceived themselves, by mistaking
individual instances for general traits; thus holding up the picture
of one man as the exact portraiture of a nation. We are not to
suppose, that it is common for men to avail themselves of the example
of their prophet, or the option he has allowed to others of having
_four wives_. In fact, not one man in twenty, of the class now under
consideration, has more than one wife, nor one in five hundred more
than two. Even the permission given by Mahomed is not free from
restriction; for his words are, ‘Marry, O ye people, whomsoever
pleases you among women, even to two, three, or four: but, if ye
apprehend that you cannot do them justice, be content with one.’ This
considerate advice of the prophet however would probably carry but
small weight, if there did not exist other obstacles, not so easily
surmounted; for it frequently forms a clause in the _quballa_,[9] (or
_cabooleat_,) in a marriage contract, that the husband shall not take
a second wife: besides, no parent, possessed of a proper regard for
his child, would willingly place her in that degraded situation a
second wife is always considered to be; and subjected, as she is, to
the entire control of the first; who, it may be supposed, must, from
various motives, in general prove a harsh and unpleasant mistress.
Neither ought we to be led away by the idea that any influence of the
husband will prevent such consequences; for the wives of Hindostan,
however problematical it may sound, will be found to have, in reality,
even more power than those of Europe. It is true, a husband is allowed
by law the privilege of divorcing his wife whenever displeased with
her conduct; and this, on the first glance, appears to leave no
alternative but implicit obedience in the woman: but it will be found
otherwise, in fact; for the relations of the bride take care, in the
marriage-settlement, that the _mahir_, or marriage-portion, payable in
case of separation, shall be fixed at an amount far exceeding the
circumstances of the husband to pay; which, of course, proves an
effectual check to a divorcement. In addition to this, general opinion
strongly opposes a separation, though not a second marriage, where
there exists no sufficient cause to justify the step; such as
barrenness, chronic disease, &c., in the woman.


Footnote 9:

  Agreement and settlement.


‘Wherever there are two or more wives, an equal distribution of favors
is rigidly insisted on, (unless the secondary one happens to be of
inferior rank;) yet, let it not be inferred that any lady could be so
lost to delicacy as to urge her claims in direct terms. The sex have
always the command of general signs, whereby to intimate their
expectations in the most delicate manner. But, though jealous of her
rights, a wife of rank and education would, during the whole period of
her existence, deem it highly indelicate to neglect, in the most
secluded moments, a modest reluctance to comply with the solicitations
of her husband.

‘Among the slave-girls, there are always two or three who are considered
as the handmaids of the husband, and with whom, even by their religion,
an intercourse is permitted: however, this must be conducted in a
concealed manner. They, too, aping the manners of their mistresses, are
not always at the command of the master; and I have been assured, by men
of eminence and affluence among them, that, even in the midst of plenty,
they have suffered all the tantalization of want.

‘It is said, that Soojah Dowlah, whenever he paid a visit to any other
lady, always imposed on himself a fine of two thousand rupees, which he
sent to his wife. The prophet himself had only five wives, one of whom
he preferred to all the rest; yet, though much inclined, he durst not
visit her oftener than the others; two of whom, however, he ventured to
divorce, that the period of his enjoyment might more quickly revolve.

‘A wife may, in certain cases, insist on a divorce, such as inefficacy
in the husband, &c. under which circumstances she receives the
marriage-portion. It must be remarked, that, although the _mahir_ is
always fixed in the marriage articles, yet that there does not exist any
method of settling it on the wife independently, as among us; therefore,
this settlement consists only of terms, except in cases of divorce. The
word _mahir_ means, literally, the price paid for any thing.

‘A wife never brings a dowry to her husband, except her plentiful stock
may be so considered, such as cloaths, jewels, &c., which her parents
send with her, sometimes to so great an extent, as to preclude for years
the necessity of any supply from the husband.

‘When a divorce occurs, even on the demand of the wife, the husband is
obliged to support her as long as any possibility remains of her
affording nourishment to his offspring; and, should she then be
pregnant, the allowance must be continued to her, agreeably to her rank
in life, until the period of her delivery, when the child is taken from
her; unless she chooses to support it at her own expence, and is allowed
to do so by the father.

‘Should a man catch his wife in the act of adultery, and revenge himself
by the death of both parties, the Mahomedan law would acquit him of
murder; but, should he take the life of only one of the offenders, they
would sentence him to death. The laws of the Koran, relative to trials
for adultery, one would almost think were framed with the sole view of
prohibiting such suits; for, whereas, in common cases, two respectable
male witnesses are deemed competent to establish a fact; in cases of
adultery, four male witnesses must be produced. The testimony of a
thousand women would be of no avail, and that of the men must be clear
and circumstantial. The smallest disagreement would invalidate the
depositions of the whole. In short, such are the difficulties, or rather
impossibilities, the law throws in the way of substantiating the charge,
that causes of the score of adultery, or of fornication, are seldom
heard of.

‘They seem not to have distinguished these two crimes by different
appellations, though the punishment is different. For the first, the
criminal is stoned to death; for the second, a hundred lashes are deemed
an adequate punishment. So the award to a married man and unmarried
woman, convicted of _zinnah,_ (a general term for unlawful
co-habitation,) would be death to the man, and flagellation to the
woman. Such is the law; but custom has left the injured parties to
pursue private measures of revenge, in which the courts never interfere.

‘Mutual intercourse among female friends and relations is kept up by
visits; for which, however, previous permission from the husbands must
be obtained, except when the wife intends a visit to her parents. In
such a case, she _intimates_ her intention; and, though he may dissuade,
he has not the power to restrain. When first informed of this privilege,
so contrary to received opinion, it excited my surprize, which I evinced
by minute enquiry. The following is the answer I received from a person
of rank and character: ‘A wife’ (said he) ‘is not a slave to a husband.
He is her guardian, it is true; and, when she pursues a path that would
lead to disgrace, it is his duty to control her, on common occasions, by
advice: should that prove ineffectual, her relatives are informed of her
refractoriness, and they lend their aid. If still untractable, she may
be confined to her room. He may abstain from her bed; but where is the
Mussulman of character that would lift his hand to the wife of his
bosom? Is he devoid of all regard to his own honor, that he should treat
the mother of his children with disgrace? or has he become regardless of
the good opinion of his brethren? or could he, for a moment, forget that
her relations, to a man, would start forward to resent an insult offered
to their family? No man’ (continued he) ‘can, with impunity, oppose that
general opinion which has for its foundation both propriety and justice.
A wife must, therefore, be permitted to visit her parents whenever she
is inclined to do so.’

‘It must appear curious, however, that custom has made it indecent for
her to return, without an invitation from her husband! This may produce
considerable effect, when a mutual regard, or children, attach them to
each other; but, while the lady continues young, if she be any way
coquetish and takes a pleasure, as is sometimes the case, to teaze her
husband, she will, under various pretexts, continue obdurate for months,
until his patience, and his ample stock of promises of future kindness,
are expended. In short, the Hindostanee ladies are possessed of a
thousand arts whereby to secure their influence, and to domineer over
the _lords of creation_.

‘In the absence of her husband, a wife, though she may receive, pays no
visits. When the women travel, or move from one house to another, they
are concealed with all the precaution generally attributed to an Eastern
journey; their palanquins are carefully shut up, and attended, when the
rank of the person demands it, by guards composed of eunuchs, and
sometimes by armed women, who are called, from their countries,
Toorknees, Zillmaknees, Oorda-Bignees, &c. This jealous care, however,
is not taken by all classes. The Rohillas, for instance, are less
scrupulous: among themselves, their women travel unveiled, and without
ceremony. Indeed, among the northern nations, we can trace but little of
that guarded precaution so conspicuous in the cities of Hindostan.

‘No ceremony is observed at the naming of a child. The parents choose a
name, which habit soon confirms. The great are credulous, and often call
in an astrologer, who is mostly a Bramin, to cast the child’s nativity,
and to fix on, or to approve of, a name; but this is not usual, nor is
feasting, nor merry-making, as at our christenings.

‘A son is at no age debarred from freely entering the _zenanah_, though
it may contain numbers of women not at all related to him; and, should
the encreased bulk of any of the slave-girls shew symptoms of his
attention, it will hardly be deemed a crime in either party. However, as
the parents are solicitous to prevent such an intercourse, they rarely
fail to provide the young gentleman with a wife, so early as
circumstances will admit. Should this be delayed, a slave-girl would be
allowed him, but the intercourse must proceed in such a manner, as if
the parents were ignorant of the affair; the progeny from this
connection would be received into the family on equal terms with those
born in wedlock; being once acknowledged, they are entitled to every
privilege of inheritance. Primogeniture, among the Mahomedans, gives no
superior claims to their real, or personal property: the division of the
estate is easy, for a son gets double the share of a daughter.

‘The evidence of women of rank is taken by male relations, or by women
properly authorized by the _Cazee_[10] for that purpose; but female
testimony is inadmissible in cases of life and death. A woman of rank
never suffers public punishment, for the parents or husbands, to prevent
her disgrace, would themselves cause her death; the only kind of
punishment, indeed, that a woman of this description seems liable to


Footnote 10:

  _Cazee_ is a judge, or justice.


‘When they are indisposed, application is made to the doctor; who, upon
enquiring into the symptoms, and examining certain QUACKISH _tokens_,
prescribes accordingly; but, if the disorder be obstinate, the doctor is
permitted to approach the _purdah_, (_i.e._ curtain, or screen,) and to
put _his hand_ through a small aperture, purposely made, in order to
feel the patient’s pulse. The lady’s hand or arm is never exposed to
view, at least not to any male: on this occasion, the doctor’s hand is
guided to the pulse by a female attendant.

‘Widows seldom take a second husband, though allowed to do so. Young
widows are sometimes married to the husband’s brother, but even this is
not frequent. Women of rank sometimes suckle their own children. In the
choice of a wet-nurse, they are extremely particular, as all her family
are by that means considered in the light of relations; a custom so far
adhered to, as to preclude the possibility of intermarriage between the
child thus suckled, and the children of its nurse.

‘Women in India never go to public baths. Each house in general is
furnished with hot and cold baths. Where the former cannot be afforded,
a boiler is always in readiness. Bathing is commanded as a necessary
purification after most of the common occurrences of life. So much so,
that most married ladies, under certain circumstances, are obliged to
perform the ablution even in the middle of the night; and, as in these
ceremonies if the parties are at all particular, it requires the hair to
be wet, it affords occasion the next morning for their female friends to
exercise their wit on the occasion.

‘The dresses of the single, and of the married, ladies, differ but
little. The former never wear ornaments at the nose, _ungeeas_, or
supporters to the breast, no _black ointment_[11] to fill up the
interstices of the teeth, nor antimony to the eye-lids. It has been
erroneously supposed, that a turban was peculiar to a spinster, from the
similarity of the words _cheerna_ and _cheera_; the latter meaning a
colored turban, which would be disgraceful for any modest woman to wear.
The word _cheerna_ has a very different etymology, which will be
sufficiently evident to any one acquainted with the Hindostanee.[12]


Footnote 11:

  The _missee_, before described.

Footnote 12:

  The _hymen_ of anatomy.


‘The present fashionable dress of our fair country-women, having had for
its object the imitation of the Hindostanee, might be supposed to
preclude the necessity of a particular description, did not the same
inconstancy equally pervade their taste. Within these few years, the
shoes with the long-turned-up tops have been introduced and abolished,
in consequence (as the story goes,) of a lady in Asoph ud Doulah’s
_haram_ being thrown down by the entanglement of the string of a kite
round the curvature of her shoe. The _n’hut_, or large ring, worn at the
nose, is also going out of fashion: indeed, considering the
inconvenience that must have been experienced from this ornament, it is
strange it should so long have continued in use. The disuse of it is
accounted for in the following manner. On the death of a married woman,
or of her husband, (for no widows wear it,) this ornament, according to
long-established usage, becomes the property of the _meeraseens_, a
particular kind of _nautch_ women. A lady of Oude, of a delicate way of
thinking, being in possession of a _n’hut_ of great value and elegance,
thought she observed the longing eye of the _meeraseens_ continually
fixed on this jewel; and, dreading the effects of their envy on her own
life, or on that of her husband, took off the _n’hut_ and threw it away;
a circumstance that created much consternation in the family, and
astonishment in the husband, as it had hitherto been deemed a necessary
part of a married woman’s dress, and was guarded with as much
superstitious care as the marriage-ring among us. However, the
explanation of her motives set all to rights again; the husband
applauded her prudence, and the neighbouring families, taking up the
same idea, the long-established rights of the _meeraseens_ in that part
of the country suffered almost total abolishment.

‘The dress of the ladies of rank has become comparatively simple, and
seems to evince a considerable improvement in the national taste.
Instead of both ears being weighed down, as was formerly the case, they
now only wear a slight ornamented ring in the left ear, in general. The
having both ears ornamented they consider as the height of vulgarity. A
pearl necklace, slight golden rings at the wrists and ancles, termed
_zewaree ichanjeeree_, include all the ornaments worn by a lady of
fashion. For the wrists they prefer silken bracelets, decorated with
jewels. The hair, which was brought down over the brow in two
semi-circles, so as almost to bear on the eye, is divided as before, but
not permitted to conceal any part of the forehead.

‘The _pyjama_, or drawers, were formerly worn so tight, as to render it
a work of some labor to get them on. Indeed, to such a length did this
taste go at one time, that many of the famous courtezans had themselves
painted in imitation of _keemkab_[13] from the waist downwards. In the
upper provinces, they are now made to fit exactly above the knee, but
from thence downwards quite loose, and so long as to press on the shoe.
In the lower provinces, the exact reverse takes place. In Bengal, it is
deemed immodest to wear the _ungeeas_, or supporters to the breast. In
the upper provinces, a woman would be ashamed to be seen without them.


Footnote 13:

  _Keemkab_ is a sort of silken fabric, in which flowers, &c. are woven.


‘The _coortee_, or kind of banian, must be of the thinnest muslin, so
that the tapering waist, which they so much admire, and of which our
ladies now deny us the view, may be distinctly seen. The sleeves short,
and the _coortee_ itself so much so, that the _nicfa_, a different
colored cloth at the top of the _pyjama_, may not be concealed, the
_doo-puttah_, or two breadths of muslin, formed into the shape of a
scotch plaid, and worn nearly in the same manner, is thrown over the

‘The _paishwaz_, meaning _open in front_, is not now in fashion. This is
the robe from which our ladies have taken their present dress, but which
they have modestly closed before, having no painted _keemkabs_ to shew.
Petticoats, (called _bandanas_,) are sometimes worn by Mahomedan ladies,
especially in the rainy season, when the diversion of _swinging_
commences, but never without drawers under them.—Widows should not wear
cloaths stained with any but what are termed _pukka_, or lasting colors;
nor should these be of the glaring kind. Their _pyjamas_ must always be
white, which a married lady never wears.

‘On the commencement of the seventh, in Bengal, and the ninth month up
the country, of pregnancy, it is usual to give a great entertainment to
the friends of the parties; on which occasion the mistress of the feast
is decked with flowers, and dressed with new cloaths and ornaments. One
of the females, to whom Lucinda may have been more propitious than to
the rest, comes forward with a present, consisting of seven kinds of
fruits, and of the flower of rice, kneaded into round and oval pieces:
this part of the ceremony is confined to Bengal. The first is said to be
emblematic of girls, the latter of boys. This offering is poured out
into the pregnant lady’s lap, who, without tasting the fruits herself,
distributes them among the company. This feast, if practicable, is given
at her father’s house, where the lady is generally delivered. Here the
midwife attends, who is seldom, or can be, expert in her business.
Hence, unlucky births are very frequent. I need not observe, that males
never officiate in this line; however, the old ladies sometimes, in
dangerous cases, venture to perform chirurgical operations. A few lines
from the Koran, sent by some celebrated religionist, and placed at the
bed-head, or a little water sanctified by being poured on the KORAN, is
supposed to be wonderfully efficacious; but, in difficult births, some
person, woman, boy, or girl, who has been fortunate enough to come feet
foremost into the world, is called in to jump seven times over the womb
of the person in labor. On these occasions, all the keys are taken out
of the locks, doors opened, boxes unlocked, and a sword hung up in some
part of the room, to frighten away the evil demons. If the danger
encreases, the husband opens his turban, and spreads it over the
patient’s womb, and then makes it up the wrong way. They have a stone
called _k’ho_, or the _power of seals_, which is tied about the neck,
and many other superstitious practices; the same as in all countries,
among the common people. The child being born, the rooms are kept as
close as possible, and it is not permitted to get milk for three days.
During the first six, the mother tastes nothing but light caudle. On the
night of the sixth, the child is brought to the door, that the starlight
may shine upon it. Pen and ink are placed at the head of the bed, that
the angel of fate may write on its forehead its future destiny. The
first ablution is performed by the lady on the fortieth day. When the
child is four months old, a feast called _keer chittaee_ is given, to
which all friends and relations are invited. _Keer_ is a preparation of
rice and milk, which the child is now made to taste, or to _lick_ or
_lap_, as the term _chittaee_ implies.

‘Smoking the _urqu_[14] is not so general a practice as is supposed, at
least among the middle ranks. The great, in this, as in other luxuries,
indulge themselves more freely. _Zeebool Nissa_ daughter of Alc Geer,
and Noor Jehan, invented the present form of the _goorgooree_ snake;[15]
and _Khummer Mahomed Shah_, the arched snake now in use; which is said
to have been contrived by him for the convenience of smoking as he
travelled. _Zeebool Nissa_ appears to have been a lady of great
accomplishments, whose hard fate it was to lead a single life, as may be
gathered from the following lines of which she was the author.


Footnote 14:

  Commonly pronounced _hookah_.

Footnote 15:

  A smaller kind of _hookah_, with a short stiff snake.


‘Ill-luck befall that arm that never has encircled the neck of a love! O
may the eyes be dim that draw not enjoyment from the glance of a
beloved. A hundred seasons have passed away, and every favorite rose has
been plucked to ornament a turban:

‘But the rose-bud in the garden of my heart has been allowed to decay,
and has not been plucked as a nosegay by any one.’[16]


Footnote 16:

  Contrast this simple lamentation with the absurd effusions of Mirza
  Abu Taalib Khan, at a succeeding page.


‘And yet, when her father proposed a husband to her, she replied: “that
learning was only to be found among the lower orders, and with such she
could not wed, that princes were in general ignorant, and with such she
could not be happy.”

‘In the _zenanahs_, the ladies divert themselves by bringing up pets of
different kinds, such as minas, (a kind of starling,) fowls, goats,
pigeons, &c. The cat, in particular, has an exclusive privilege, in
consequence of the prophet’s having had a favorite puss, which he took
much pleasure in feeding: hence, that animal is held sacred, and the
murder of it considered as the highest sacrilege. They tell a story,
that Mahomed, when ascending into heaven, happened to take a peep, _en
passant_, into hell, where, observing an old woman making a sad
lamentation, he asked the angel Gabriel why she suffered? The angel
referred him for information to the old lady herself, who replied, that
she underwent such torments for having caused the death of a cat! When
this holy personage returned to the earth, he told the story as a
warning to his disciples; but, notwithstanding such holy interference,
the cat is considered as an envious animal, wishing the decrease of the
family, that the mistress of it may caress her the more; whereas, the
dog, (though deemed an unclean animal,) is thought to pray for encrease,
that he may have more bones to pick!

‘It is a general custom among the _Soozees_[17], both men and women, to
choose some holy man to be their guide and instructor, (not dissimilar
to the office of a confessor,) whom they call their _peer_;[18]
designating themselves his _mooreed_, or disciple. When a lady of rank
has fixed on this holy personage for her _peer_, he is invited to the
house, where the following ceremony ensues. Standing on the outside of
the _purdah_, or curtain, he holds one end of a handkerchief, the other
end of which is held by his intended _mooreed_ within the _purdah_. In
this position he reads aloud select passages from the _Koran_, allusive
to the subject, and finishes with a lecture on morality. Thus adopted,
he is thenceforward to her as her God and the prophet. In all difficult
situations, she looks to him for relief, calling on his name in danger;
and the death of the _peer_ does not even dissolve the contract. After
the first ceremony, the _peer_ seldom visits his _mooreed_; indeed, as
thousands may choose the same spiritual guide, such duty would prove too
much even for his _spirit_ to bear. However, there are instances of a
_peer_ being chosen from motives very different from what may be
supposed in general to operate; hence, we sometimes discover, that,
under the cover of a _peer_, the lady indulges herself with a private
lecture from a young _lover_. Indeed, the _Sheeaus_ give this as a
reason for their discontinuance of the practice.


Footnote 17:

  A particular sect.

Footnote 18:

  _Peer_ literally means a prophet.


‘Fatima, the Prophet’s daughter, is invoked under different
appellations. Her general name is _Khatoon ul junet_, or _Mistress of
Paradise_. There are, besides, several male saints, whose peculiar
province is the protection of the fair sex; but _Peer Bawhoor_, is the
hastener of lovers’ return. Among the lower ranks, _Shaik Saddoo_ is
often invoked. This was a good and great man, whom the devil tempted in
the shape of a beautiful young lady; and, as he happened to die before
he had time for purification, he was (as is _usual in such cases_,)
turned into a _kubbeess_, or wandering wicked spirit, of whom the women
are much afraid; for he is said often to enter them in the shape of the
devil, such as in the times of our forefathers were used to possess the
females. They give great feasts in honor of _Shaik Saddoo_, at which a
goat forms part of the sacrifice. Hence, when a woman is in her
tantrums, she is ironically said to require a slice of the _Shaik’s
goat_. At the entertainment given in his honor, one of the women
personates the _Shaik_, being dressed in male habiliments, and furnished
with sword and target. When a woman is said to be possessed, she
undergoes all the agitations of the prophetic beldames of former times;
she foams at the mouth, and appears in strong convulsions. In this
deplorable situation, true answers are supposed to be received to all
questions put to her relating to past, or to future events. Some women
affect to be married to this saint, and, consequently, become very, very
devils to their husbands and neighbours. _Zaen Khan_, particularly in
the upper provinces, is a saint of a similar complexion and history. One
of the _bhaguts_, or doctors, famous for his dexterity in exorcism, gave
me the following detail of his proceedings.

‘When a woman appears heavy and unwell, her friends, suspecting the
cause, call in a _bhagut_, who generally, as may be imagined, accords
with them in opinion. On hearing this sentence from so learned a
personage, the patient’s imagination begins to operate, and, in a short
while, she feels the spirit move within her. The _bhagut_ loses no time
in making up a magic sacrifice, which he sets on the fire under the
woman’s nose. The devil being thus smoked out, loses no time in mounting
upon the body of the patient, and begins (permit me the use of a vulgar,
though not inapplicable term) to ride away “at a devil of a rate.” The
patient now suffers violent agitation, tossing her arms, head, and legs
about, in a dreadful manner, in consequence of the kicks and buffetings
from the fiend; who all this while is totally invisible to every one
except the _bhagut_. This is the moment for the display of the doctor’s
art and dexterity! He springs forward, and seizes the _possessed_ by the
hair; which he holds fast, as it gives him an entire command over the
spirit, whom he now interrogates in the following peremptory and bold
manner:—“Who art thou? whence comest thou? and why disturbest thou this

‘To these queries, the fiend, through the mouth of the _possessed_,
makes answer, “Be it known to you, that I inhabit a certain tree,”
specifying one in the neighbourhood; “and that, being on my rambles, in
passing this female, I espied her body to be _pure_ and _undefiled_, and
fit for habitation; therefore I entered into it.” The fiend now offers
to quit his habitation, if it be the _bhagut’s_ pleasure; which, after
some ceremony, is done. The doctor now receives his fee, and, were it
not for the fear of spoiling trade, before his departure, probably would
advise the husband not to permit his wife to have too long intervals of
undefilement in future, lest the devil should again take possession of

‘When speaking of the ornamental parts of the ladies’ dress, mention was
not made of their blackening the eyelids with antimony. This practice is
supposed, besides giving additional brilliancy to the eyes, to preserve
and improve the sight. But, as in that country there is no antimony to
be found, they employ in its stead a lead ore, unconscious of the
difference; while such, as cannot even afford the ore, use _caugull_, or
lamp-black. One reason given for this predilection to antimony is, that,
when Mount-Sinai was set on fire by lightning from above, the whole was
transfused into that semi-metal; thence their belief that it is not to
be found in any other region of the earth. It will naturally be
supposed, that this is a singular story, gaining belief only among the
ignorant; but, though their men of learning, and science, cannot be
comprized under that appellation, yet it may once for all be observed,
that all their ridiculous tales, of which they have abundance, gain
equal credit among people of all ranks. Rich and poor, learned and
unlearned, the _cazee_ and tipstaff, the _peer_ and _mooreed_, are
equally credulous, and very few, if any, instances indeed will be found,
wherein they are above the most preposterous prejudices; still, many
from interest, and some who choose not to encounter the taunts of
Europeans, will, in their presence, affect to be free from the
prejudices of the vulgar.

‘Besides the antimony to the eyes, the women apply a black stain to the
teeth, called _missee_: it is made of the rust of iron and _kurra_
compounded.[19] It is, in fact, ink-powder: for the _kurra_ is a _nut_
equally astringent with galls. The powder is rubbed on, or rather
between, the teeth, and leaves a black stain, which is deemed both a
preservation and an ornament to them. The use of the plant _hinna_,[20]
has been described by travellers in all Eastern countries. The leaves
are pounded and mixed up into a paste, which is applied to their nails,
palms, and soles; after an adherence of a few hours, it is shaken off,
and leaves a beautiful red stain, which lasts many days. It is supposed
to have a cooling quality.


Footnote 19:

  Likewise a preparation of _kino_.

Footnote 20:

  Called _mehendy_, or _mindy_, in Moors.


‘The dancing-women are of different kinds. The most respectable are the
_meeraseen_, sometimes called _doominca_; though the real _doominca_
exhibit in public before men, which the _meeraseen_ never do. The word
_meeras_ means an _inheritance_, and _meeraseen_ an _inheritress_, from
the custom that has obtained in families of never changing the set.
Indeed, custom has so far established it as a right, that any deviation
would be considered an injustice punishable by law. Many of the
different trades claim similar privileges, and a barber _prepucian_,[21]
if I may use the expression, for instance wishing to retire from
business, would dispose of his custom to any individual, in the same
manner as he would any part of his private property. As the _meeraseem_
are never accompanied by male minstrels, they seldom play on other
instruments than drums of different kinds, such as the _tubla_,[22]
_dholuk_,[23] and _munjeera_;[24] though the _meeraseens_ never perform
before assemblies of men, yet the husband and his sons may be present.
They are modest and chaste in their manners, and dress; but,
notwithstanding this, it sometimes happens, that a fair _meeraseen_
attracts the attention of the male part of the family; in such cases,
any intercourse they may have is conducted with secresy.


Footnote 21:

  The barbers in India have the sole privilege of performing the
  operation of circumcising.

Footnote 22:

  The _tubla_ are small drums usually fastened in pairs round the waist,
  and much resemble kettle drums.

Footnote 23:

  The _dhol_, or _dholuk_, is a large sort, carried horizontally, and
  seems to be the original of our Turkish drum.

Footnote 24:

  The _munjeera_ is sometimes beat with a stick.


‘The _kunchenee_ are of an opposite stamp; they dance and sing for the
amusement of the male sex, and in every respect are at their command.
They are attended by male minstrels, to whom they are often married. It
is said these women always consider their first lover as their real
husband, during the rest of their lives; and, on his death, though they
should be married to another, they leave off their pursuits for a
prescribed period, and mourn agreeably to the custom of widows. They do
not consider any part of their profession as either disgraceful or
criminal; and are not therefore liable to those pangs of conscience
which, at some period or other, are supposed to oppress females of this
description in other countries. Their profession is emphatically termed
_the trade_, and the female a _trader_; and I must do them the justice
to say, that many a _fair_ trader is to be found among them. There are
many other kinds of dancing women, such as _hoorkenees_, _bazeegarnees_,
_dharee_, &c. &c.

‘Women do not attend public worship, though particularly commanded
thereto in a verse of the Koran. It is not, however, uncommon for ladies
of quality to have their own _muzjeed_, or _mosque_[25], within the
_haram_, as is the case with the Begums of Fyzabad. At Mecca there seems
to be no distinction kept up; both sexes there offering up their
adoration at the same time and place.


Footnote 25:

  These are small buildings answering the purpose of our churches, and
  many have large tracts of land attached for the maintanence of the


‘It is as incumbent on women, as on men, to visit Mecca; however, they
generally (I mean ladies of rank) leave orders to depute a
representative to perform the pilgrimage after their death. The lower
classes, putting on the dress of _faqueerens_[26], or religious
mendicants, frequently undertake the pilgrimage in company with their
husbands or other relatives, after the accomplishment of which they are
termed _hudjeecau_.[27] The various ceremonies required in prayer,
demand a long apprenticeship before a proficiency can be acquired.
Indeed, so particular are the rules, prescribed for every inflexion of
the body, that a new disciple has to undergo as severe a drilling as
falls to the lot of a raw countryman in his progress through the various
stages of military discipline. One single false motion renders the whole
ineffectual, and a re-commencement becomes absolutely necessary.


Footnote 26:

  _Faqueer_ is a male mendicant, and _faqueeren_ a female.

Footnote 27:

  The designation of _hudjee_ (commonly pronounced _hadjee_) is assumed
  by all who have visited the shrine of the prophet: hence the term


‘People of respectability seldom have more slave-girls than are
absolutely requisite for the common purposes of the house; viz.
generally two for the cook-room, one who has charge of the provision,
&c., one for the wardrobe and to attend the mistress’s toilette, &c.,
and two or three others for general purposes. There are, besides these,
two or three women hired, (who are termed _asseel_,[28]) at the rate of
two or three rupees per month, exclusive of food; one of these is always
stationed as a kind of running sentry at the door of the _zennanah_,[29]
for the purpose of conveying messages. There may be, besides these, one
or two _Mogulanees_[30] to instruct the rest in the arts of sewing, &c.
The above-mentioned number are equal to all the purposes of the house;
where there are more, confusion generally reigns.


Footnote 28:

  The word _asseel_ literally means perfect, real, original,
  unadulterated; and here implies superiority.

Footnote 29:

  _Zenanah_ means the _haram_, or women’s apartments.

Footnote 30:

  _Mogulanee_ is a Mogul woman. The Moguls are one of the four principal
  sects of Mohamedans.


‘In the houses of some nobles, where there may be two or three hundred,
or even more, slave-girls kept for state, the possessor of them
generally has his quiet much disturbed by their endless quarrels and
cabals. Indeed, to such lengths do they proceed, as often to force the
master even to inflict death on some of the most refractory. After his
demise, the whole disperse, like a swarm of bees, many of them to misery
and distress. The handsomest are usually selected by the heir, for his
own use; while such as may have superior attractions, though they may
even have been the favored mistresses of the father, will not, on many
occasions, be the less acceptable to the son.

‘It is a very extraordinary fact, and as little known as it is
extraordinary, that, among all the Mussulmans who retain slave-girls
only for the purposes of the house (with the exception of those probably
originally from _Iran_,[31]) it is an established rule to turn them out
when the family retires to bed, to seek husbands for themselves. These
women generally attach themselves to some particular persons; and
whatever progeny arises from this intercourse, become slaves of course.
They are taught to dance, sew, and embroider; and often, in cases of
unlooked for distress, the family is supported by their labors. Thus we
see, that the situation, in general, of their slave-girls, is, of all
others, that which would meet with their own approbation. However, the
case is altered with those immured in the _zenanahs_ of nabobs, and men
of elevated rank: there, they are strictly confined, and precluded from
all possible communication with men.[32] In such case, they wait
anxiously for the moment of escape, or embrace the only means left them
to mitigate the natural irritability arising from restraint, by forming
a connection with some individual of their own sex. This kind of
attachment, it is said, is often carried to the most romantic lengths,
and, one would think, must be pretty common, from the circumstance of an
appropriate term, viz. _moosacqek_, being adopted to distinguish that
species of amorous dalliance.


Footnote 31:

  A province of Persian Tartary.

Footnote 32:

  There have, however, been many instances to the contrary.


‘It is not allowable, by the Mahomedan laws, to purchase any slaves,
except those taken in battle; but, as at present that resource proves
not a plentiful one to the true believers, they have been forced into a
method of escaping the law, by making out, what they term, a paper of
service; by which it appears, that the parents of the child disposed of,
in consequence of extreme distress, agree to give up its services for
seventy years, the actual age of the child being taken into the account:
a trifling sum is fixed on as a yearly stipend for the child’s services,
part of which, viz. the real price, is acknowledged to have been
received in advance: the remainder, it is supposed, will be expended in
raiment, food, &c.

‘Children, thus purchased, are, in general, extremely well used; there
being little distinction made between them and those of the family,
except in the trifling work they have to perform; when they are married,
and have children, the little ones always address the master and
mistress of the house with the familiar appellation of grandfather and
grandmother; and, indeed, are by them always considered in the light of

‘The following is a detailed account of their marriage ceremonies, as
written out at my request by a Mussulman friend of considerable
abilities and of a most liberal disposition.

‘When a daughter reaches the age of fourteen, some youth, of equal
condition, makes offers of marriage, by sending letters to the parents,
soliciting their favorable notice, (in Bengal the father himself looks
out for a proper match,) and begging they will admit him within the
chain of relationship. This letter is forwarded to the father in charge
of some friend, and never by the hands of a common messenger. The higher
the rank, and the greater the beauty, of the fair one, the more numerous
are the solicitors.

‘The parents, consulting together, and having made their selection,
return a favorable answer to the person approved of, and to the rest
such as the occasion demands. This is followed by a ring, and a dress,
being sent to the intended bridegroom, which, though it gives him an
assurance of ultimate success does not accelerate the consummation of
his wishes; for he has still a _Jacobian period_ to toil through in
service, and in attentions to the parents: nor is it before he has thus
evinced his subjection to their commands, and his devotion to their
interests, that their assent is given for the celebration of the

‘To give publicity to that assent, and to his own happiness on the
occasion the favored youth gives a great entertainment: the greater the
expence he incurs in preparation, the greater is supposed to be the
force of his love. The ordinary ceremonies take up three days (in Bengal
twenty-one). On the afternoon of the first day, about sun-set, a
cavalcade of the friends, male and female, of the bridegroom, issue
forth to present a dress, ornaments, and fruits of all kinds, to the
bride. The bridegroom always furnishes the marriage-dress, which arises
from a refined delicacy on both sides: on his, that he takes her for
herself alone; on her’s, or rather her parents, that she may not appear
like a loose woman, who ornaments herself on going abroad.

‘The parents of the bride send him, on the second day, a dress in
return; which is received about twelve o’clock at night, together with
the _hinna_,[33] or _mehendy_, left from the bride’s hands, which he
applies to his own in their presence. This is one criterion by which
they judge of his devotion and attachment; it being considered, on
common occasions, highly disgraceful to use cast-off _mehendy_. On the
night of the third day, about eleven o’clock, the bridegroom, being
arrayed in the nuptial dress, and accompanied by all his party, goes in
procession, with drums, trumpets, &c., to the bride’s house, making more
parade and noise than can easily be conceived by such as may not have
been spectator of similar exhibitions.


Footnote 33:

  See note, page 385.


‘During three days, the processions are always met at the court of the
house, where both parties attack each other with slender branches of
trees, on which flowers are fastened. After this kind of sport is
finished the party visiting is admitted, and offered sherbet. Each
guest, as the bowl is presented, throws in money, according to his
circumstances and rank, which becomes the perquisite of the cup-bearer.
When about to depart, after refreshments being offered, the visitors are
crowned with garlands of flowers.

‘On the third night, when the bridegroom arrives to carry home the
bride, he is annoyed by a thousand tricks, passed on him by the servants
and other dependants. For instance, the _darwan_, or porter, shuts the
door on him, and, until he supplicates much, and pays well, there is no
admittance for him. Some mount his horse, others seize his shoes, &c.
none of which are returned till the parties possessing them receive
considerable presents, and have had the pleasure of raising a laugh
against the bridegroom.

‘After conquering these obstacles, he is introduced to the company that
has assembled, and obtains, in honor of the day, the first seat in the
assembly. The contract is now drawn up, as prescribed by the laws. Two
persons are appointed as the _vaqueels_, (or attornies,) of the parties.
The questions being now put to the bride, as she stands concealed behind
the curtain, whether she chooses him as her _vaqueel_?[34] and whether
she is willing to enter into the proposed contract or not? After some
little delay, to give the appearance of consultation to what has been
already arranged, she gives assent to both questions, uttering, in a
voice scarcely audible, the final, I had almost said fatal, “Yes.” (In
Bengal, silence gives consent). The two servants who led the _vaqueel_
to the curtain, certify the circumstance of her assent.


Footnote 34:

  _Vakeel_, as it is pronounced, literally means ambassador, deputy or
  other _locum tenens_ but here is meant to imply protector, advocate,


‘The _vaqueels_ and relations, on both sides, now proceed to fix on the
_mahir_, (or portion;) the adjustment of which sometimes occasions much
altercation and delay; nay, it has even been the cause of much
bloodshed, and of total suspension of the ceremonies; but, in general,
an umpire is fixed on to determine on a medium sum, which is inserted in
the _cabala_, or marriage contract, between the extravagant demands on
the bridegroom, and his unwillingness to comply therewith.

‘The bridegroom is then conducted by the female attendants into the
presence of the bride, who sits veiled, on a place raised on purpose, in
her own apartment. The _meeraseens_ lead him up, and seat him near her.
The females of the family, who stand behind a curtain, send him a
present of gold mohurs, rupees, &c. The Koran is now placed between the
couple, and a looking-glass is placed immediately opposite the bride,
who, on modestly refusing to unveil, is forced thereto by the attendant
_meeraseens_, so that one ray, as my author expresses it, from her fine
countenance, may illumine the mirror, towards which all the bridegroom’s
attention is fixed: however, this ray, transient as it is, cannot be
obtained without considerable presents to the _meeraseens_.

‘This part of the ceremony being concluded, permission is given to the
bridegroom to convey the bride home: her parents send with her great
quantities of cloaths, jewels, bedding, cooking utensils, &c.; and, in
short, every thing she can possibly want for years; nay, frequently, as
long as she lives. The bridegroom and his female relations lift up the
bride in their arms, and convey her to the palanquin. On their arrival
at his house, the bearers, or carriers of the palanquin, refuse to set
down their burthen until bribed to do so. The bridegroom takes her out
of it, and conveys her, in his arms, into an apartment of the house,
where, her feet being bathed with rose-water, the bridegroom repeats a
thanksgiving prayer, in gratitude for her safe arrival, and for his own
deliverance from this scene of harassment, and trouble, which his
friends and servants force him to submit to, from the time he quits his
own house until he returns to it with his bride: such, indeed, are the
effects of his sufferings, that often the unhappy gentleman cannot hold
up his head for some days to come.

‘On the following morning, the cloaths in which the bride slept are sent
to her parents; a strange, indelicate custom, and highly indicative of a
total want of refinement among the people who practise it. In the
province of Bengal, this is not done; nay, so particular are they in
avoiding the appearance of any thing of this kind, that the bridal bed,
with all its appurtenances, is of a deep red. This day, being the fourth
from the commencement of the ceremonies, the bride and bridegroom return
to her parents’ house, where he has admission into the assembly of the
women; and on this day the bride appears in garments furnished by him.
(This visit, in Bengal, is not made till the fifth day after
consummation). In this assembly, the bridegroom suffers by a general
assault of the ladies, who unmercifully pelt him with fruit, flowers,

‘On every Friday, for several weeks, the bride pays a similar visit to
her parents; receiving, at each visit, a new dress. On these occasions,
she never returns home until the husband’s relations wait on her, and
entreat her to do so. For a month, at least, after the marriage, she
would be considered as deficient in modesty were she to address her
husband with her face uncovered: and a considerable time elapses before
she appears unveiled to her other relations. She never speaks of her
husband, in the presence of men, until she becomes a mother. It is a
curious circumstance, that her own relations, ever after the marriage,
avoid visiting at her husband’s house, under the fastidious apprehension
of being suspected of having bestowed the lady from motives of interest.

‘Should the dispositions of the pair not accord, and the fault appear on
the side of the lady, her own relations threaten her with their
displeasure. Should this prove ineffectual, the husband refrains from
her society, though still leaving the management of the _zenanah_ in her
hands; but if, on the contrary, it appears that their unhappiness
proceeds from the husband, her relations procure a common friend to
expostulate with him on the impropriety of his conduct. Should it,
however, after this, continue unaltered, the wife returns to her
parents, who retain her until the husband has not only made base
submission, but has evinced the strongest contrition. In cases where the
wife displays any levity of conduct, her parents are more ready than the
husband to punish her.

‘From the birth of a child, until they give it the breast, it is fed
with boiled cassia. On this occasion, most of the female relations
attend, accompanied by a _midwife_.[35] This description of people are
from the lowest _casts_. On the sixth day from the delivery, an
entertainment is given in the _zenanah_; when the child’s head is
shaved, and its nails cut; while money is distributed to the poor. It
may be proper to observe, that the barber will not commence his
operations before he has received handsome presents: sensible that he
runs no risk in refusing, as they could not, even if so inclined,
prevail on others of the tribe to officiate.—The barber, like several
other trades in Hindostan, possesses a prescriptive right with
particular families, whose custom he considers to be an inheritance,
which cannot, without injustice, be taken from him.


Footnote 35:

  The _Chumars_, or shoemakers, are one of the lowest, and most degraded
  sects. Their wives are termed _chumynes_, and are supposed to inherit
  a perfect knowledge of midwifery, in which no other woman is employed.


‘On the fortieth day, a grand entertainment is given, every one,
according to their respective rank and consanguinity, making presents to
the infant. In general, the children are suckled by hired nurses, but
they never are sent out from the parents’ house. In the choice of a
nurse they are extremely particular, as she becomes henceforward
considered in the light of relative of the family;[36] she of course is
never discharged, unless at her own request. The protection of her, and
of her family, is of the greatest consideration; and when the child
grows up, and has it in its power, he would be deemed an unnatural
being, did he neglect to pension his nurse comfortably. Even the very
slave-girls who assisted her are always treated by him with the utmost
regard and attention.


Footnote 36:

  The child always calls this foster-brother by the name of
  ‘_dood-baiee_’, _i.e._ milk-brother.


‘About the fourth month they allow of light food being given to the
child; on which occasion a great entertainment is made, and repeated
when a twelvemonth old; when the _string_ which is to mark his future
years, receives the first knot. This custom seems to point out the
origin of our metaphorical _thread_ of life. They never wean the child
before eighteen months sometimes delaying it till two years and a half;
on which occasion, great presents, and new dresses, are bestowed on the
nurse, and an entertainment is given to the friends.

‘Before the child is put under the direction of a schoolmaster, the
ceremony of circumcision takes place, which is celebrated with much
rejoicing and entertainment. One schoolmaster generally teaches the
children of two or three neighbouring families, but the school is always
at the house of one of the parents. After being perfected in the
alphabet, the children are taught to read, but not to understand, parts
of the Koran. Then, in succession, come the Goolestan, Bostan,
Secundar-Nameh, and some of the Persian authors; in which language, when
the pupil is tolerably well versed, he is led on to the study of the

‘All are obliged to be at school a considerable time before sun-rise,
that they may be present at prayers, which are ordered to be said
previous to that period: from sun-rising to ten o’clock they continue at
their book; thence, till dinner-time, at writing. After dinner, a short
respite is given; when prayers are again said, and reading re-commenced:
this is continued till an hour before sun-set; when they are permitted
to separate till summoned for the evening-prayers; after which, they
repeat the day’s lesson, and receive their final dismission. We may
reasonably conclude, that such severity of restraint must be destructive
both to mind and body.

‘When arrived at the age of sixteen, or seventeen, the parents in
general provide their son with a wife; after which, should he continue
to reside with them, his cloaths, &c. are provided for him, as if he
were still in a state of pupilage: it is only after marriage that he
begins to learn the business of his father, and the rules of conduct
necessary in the world; nay, it is often years before he obtains
permission, or the proper means, to separate himself and his wife from
their superintendance. Should the father die before this separation
takes place, though the son should succeed to his property, yet the wife
could have no interference in household affairs during the life of his
mother; and not till then, could he effect any change in the interior

‘The general method of passing their time is as follows. They arise a
little before day-light. On coming out of the _zenanah_, it may be
supposed necessary to visit the bath. Then the morning-prayers are
repeated: a slight breakfast succeeds, consisting of fried almonds,
coffee, &c.: after this, attendance at the _Durbar_,[37] and other
business of the day. Returning home about ten o’clock, all the male part
of the family assemble to partake of a more substantial breakfast than
the former. This consists of bread, mint, onions, peas, limes, _kubabs_,
_kullia_, and _pillaw_,[38] &c. After passing a short while in
conversation, a nap generally concludes the scene; arising from which,
ablution and prayers are performed. They then assemble in the hall;
coffee &c. are served up; and here they continue to enjoy society,
receiving the visits of their friends, &c., till the approach of the
evening; when the company separate.


Footnote 37:

  _Durbar_, properly means Court, or Residency.

Footnote 38:

  Different modes of dressing meat, &c.


‘After prayers, if the master be a young man, he generally retires to
the _zenanah_, where, in company with his wife, and some of his female
relations, he enjoys his _hookah_, and some trifling refreshment of
sweetmeat, &c. till about ten or eleven o’clock, when the rest of the
females retire to their own apartments. The husband and wife always
sleep on separate bed-steads, placed adjoining to each other. From
motives of refinement and delicacy, the wife, without an adequate
motive, abstains most rigidly from sleeping on the bed appropriated for
the husband.

‘Formerly, a good deal of sociability reigned among them, and they
frequently dined at each other’s houses; but at present, the practice is
in disuse; owing to frequent acts of treachery having been committed at
such meetings: however, sometimes, on sacred days, they still meet; but,
if of the higher orders, never without much caution and suspicion.

‘When an assembly is convened to communicate an event of grief, the
invited always sends the provisions to the habitation of the inviter;
who is supposed to be too much afflicted to attend to such

‘The hour of audience at the _Durbar_, is generally soon after
sun-rising; when all those in the employment of the great personage,
attend to make their obeisance. A few are admitted to the presence; the
rest wait the great man’s coming out: but, should he not, they must
retire without enjoying the sun-shine of his countenance. The modes of
salutation, and the different etiquettes, have been so frequently
detailed, that here it becomes unnecessary. Indeed, it is not their
public, but their private, manners that we are in search of. When the
levee, or _Durbar_, is over, the great man diverts himself with his
companions, and intimate friends, till dinner-time. Their amusement
consists, during the first part of the day, of desultory conversation,
the repetition of poems, &c., and, towards the end, the learned men,
poets, &c., are introduced to rehearse their works. Should the evening
not be devoted to the _zenanah_, buffoons, dancing-girls, &c., are
summoned to close the entertainment.

‘On joyful occasions, when an entertainment is given, the males assemble
in the outer apartments, and the females in the _zenanah_; the master of
the feast exerting himself to the utmost in providing for his guests:
indeed, the expences incurred on such occasions are excessive to a
fault; even to the utter ruin often of the fortunes of such as give
them. First, _pawns_,[39] _ottah_ of roses, flowers of various kinds,
together with fried coffee, _sooparee_,[40] _cardamoms_, ginger mixed
with acids, are offered to the guests, and such as may be unprovided
with _hookahs_ are supplied with them. After this, sugar and water,
boiled up together, forming a kind of sherbet, is presented. Now the
_taiffa_, or dancing women, buffoons, comedians, &c. exhibit for the
amusement of the company. After the repast, various kinds of musicians
are introduced, fire-works exhibited, drums, noise, and confusion,
continuing not unfrequently for three days successively.


Footnote 39:

  The beetle leaf filled with spices, &c., universally chewed by all
  classes of the natives.

Footnote 40:

  The beetle nut.


‘Their burials are performed in the following manner. On the death of a
person, all the friends attend, the corpse being put into a winding
sheet called _cuffin_.[41] This being covered with a green canopy, the
corpse is borne on the shoulder to the grave, in which it is laid, and
the dust thrown, without any funeral services being read, as is usual
among us. Sweet cakes and bread being distributed to the poor, the whole
return to the house of the deceased, where they partake of some
refreshment. After this, for three days, no victuals are dressed in the
house. On the third day, the whole again assemble, offer up prayers for
the _manes_ of the deceased; and a great quantity of victuals being
ready, presents of it are sent round to such as attended the funeral,
who give it to the poor. They meet again on the tenth and fortieth days,
when the apparel of the deceased is given away. On the sixth and twelfth
months also, the last being termed the _bursee_,[42] or annual
commemoration; which is strictly observed by the children of the
deceased during the remainder of their lives.


Footnote 41:

  May not this be the origin of our coffins?

Footnote 42:

  From _burress_, _i.e._ a year.


‘It should here be noticed, that green is the color devoted exclusively
to the mourning of a Mussulman; thus, in the great festival of what is
commonly called ‘HOSSEIN, HOSSAN,’ all the fictitious messengers,
combatants, &c. are clothed in green. Hence, we never see a Mussulman
habited in that color, nor even wearing a green turban, unless on some
funereal occasion; from this, however, we are to except such menials, in
the services of European gentlemen, as occasionally receive from their
masters pieces of green perpet, shalloon, &c. for the purpose of being
made into _jammas_, or vests. The whole of the Mahometan population seem
to avoid the use of green, even in the ornaments of their carriages,
elephants’ trappings, _purdahs_, tents, &c. considering it to be, in a
certain measure, sacred to the Prophet. In this they are fastidiously
scrupulous on some occasions; I have known a Mussulman _syce_, or groom,
object to the handle of a _chowry_, (or whisk, for keeping flies from
horses,) merely because some of the ornaments were of that color. On one
occasion, a refractory _zemindar_ reproached me with insulting not only
himself, (he being a _Seyed_, a superior sect of Mahomedans,) but the
whole of the population, by pitching a tent, lined with green perpet,
within sight of a _nimauz_, where the pious Mussulmans of the
neighbourhood used daily to offer up their prayers to the Prophet. When
the same hero perceived that the furniture on a little elephant I used
to ride with a saddle, was also of that color, he affected to be
perfectly outrageous; and, in all probability, if I had not at that time
had possession both of his person and of his means of resistance, under
charge of a company of Sepoys, would have used his endeavors to rouse
all the fanatics, of the neighbourhood on the occasion.

‘Commonly, a _cherauk_, or lamp, is kept burning in a little niche, made
in the pillar of masonry usually erected at the head of a Mussulman’s
grave. For forty nights after the interment, and on Thursdays
especially, the nearest of kin frequently pass many hours in vigils over
the grave. Some confide this unpleasant duty to a priest; who, for a few
annas, performs various ceremonies and does all in his power to keep the
deceased from troubling his surviving relatives and friends; most of
whom, at such times, are partaking of sweetmeats, which, being prepared
on Thursdays, (_joomah-raut_,) are called _joomah-raut ke metie_; that
is to say, ‘Thursday’s confectionary.’

Many of the native ladies, as well as the men, but especially the
Mahomedans, are very dexterous in flying kites, called by them
_puttungs_. The construction of these varies greatly from such as our
boys use in their pastimes; they are made more in imitation of a bird
with its wings distended, though the extremities are short and rounded

In order to preserve that figure, they are bordered with bamboo-wire, on
which paper, of the lightest kind, but very tough, is pasted. The loop
fastens to a very slight bamboo-rod passing down the centre. These kites
have not tails, like ours, but are, nevertheless, easily managed by
persons accustomed from their infancy to raising them; which they can do
to an incredible height.

The lines used for this purpose are chiefly of cotton, well twisted,
thin and strong: about forty or fifty yards of the upper end, nearest to
the _puttung_, the cord is rubbed with a fine size, in which levigated
glass is mixed; this, when dry, gives it something the appearance of
very fine sand paper, such as is used for cleaning grates, &c.

Sometimes, in the great cities, thousands of these kites are to be seen
floating in the air, to the great amusement of their respective owners;
and, indeed, of the spectators; who often take considerable interest in
the numerous contests which are perpetually presented, by the
intentional crossing of the several cords; which, being armed, as above
described, are calculated ‘to cut the thread of life,’ and precipitate
their several opponents.

No sooner is the crossing of an adverse cord felt, as may readily be
ascertained by the vibrations of that in hand, than a sawing motion is
given to each by the respective operators, when, in a very little time,
commonly less than a minute, one of the kites is seen to give way. On
this sometimes considerable wagers are pending.

The great art appears to be, to pass over the adversary's cord, and then
to let the kite lower suddenly, so as to make, momentarily, an angle in
the cord thus passed over; an instantaneous pull sometimes succeeds in
severing the opponent’s cord; it acting like a drawing cut, and
presenting a succession of points, perhaps to the length of three or
four yards, while the under line, unless managed with similar activity,
presents but one point, and thus is subject to friction on that point
only; consequently must be considerably injured.

The greatest judgment is, however, necessary, to determine whether, or
not, the operator presents an armed portion of his cord to an unarmed
part of that of his opponent. Should the former be correct in this
instance, he may generally command success; but, if the reverse be the
case, he may lose the day. An unpractised eye would be at a loss in
computing the proper distance, when the length of line let out may
perhaps exceed three or four hundred yards; but the natives in general
form a correct estimate, and display great dexterity in avoiding to
cross any cord under unfavorable circumstances.

This amusement generally takes place during the cool of the evening, on
the flat tops of houses. The inhabitants of the _zenanah_, (or _haram_,)
enjoy it either from their _compounds_, (or enclosed areas,) or on the
roofs of their chambers, on tarrasses so built up, with thin brick
walls, as to prevent their being over-looked by neighbours.

This trait of jealousy is every where apparent: nothing could offend a
native more than the erection of an edifice, that should afford a
command over the interior of that enclosure in which his family resided.
An instance of this was attended with considerable trouble and
disadvantage. The late Colonel Watson, who was Chief Engineer under the
presidency of Fort-William, had obtained the grant of a large piece of
land, for the purpose of forming a spacious dock for building and
repairing ships.

It happened, that, in enclosing the allotted space, he overlooked the
untoward circumstance of a claim on the part of a very opulent native,
who resided close by, to a part of the circumscribed area, which was the
_sine quâ non_ of the undertaking. The native said nothing; and, in all
probability, would have given up his land, or at least have sold it on
equitable terms, rather than have thwarted the Colonel’s views; but,
unfortunately, the latter erected a large wind-mill, so near to the
native’s house, as to annihilate all that privacy his family had
formerly enjoyed.

The native remonstrated, but to no effect: the grant was urged against
him; and, in lieu of soothing measures, defiance was proclaimed. The
consequence was, that the matter went into court, when, the plantiff
gaining his cause, the wind-mill was stopped in its career, and, with
the exception of a slip, on which some vessels have since been built,
the important, and immense, fabric, has been suffered to fall into

No woman can be more jealous than those of Hindostan: their animosity
towards rivals is unparalleled; and this, even when they do not care a
farthing for the bone of contention. Yet, on the other hand, when more
than two ladies are retained by the same gentleman, the whole generally
become perfectly passive, at least in exterior, appearing to associate
with tolerable cordiality. The mention of plurality, may possibly
startle many of my readers; especially those of the fair sex; but such
is common among natives of opulence, and is not unprecedented among
Europeans. I have known various instances of two ladies being conjointly
domesticated; and one, of an elderly military character, who solaced
himself with no less than SIXTEEN, of all sorts and sizes! Being
interrogated by a friend as to what he did with such a number, ‘Oh!’
replied he, ‘I give them a little rice, and let them run about!’

This same gentleman, when paying his addresses to an elegant young woman
lately arrived from Europe, but who was informed by the lady at whose
house she was residing, of the state of affairs: the description closed
with, ‘Pray, my dear, how should you like to share a _sixteenth_ of
Major ———?’ The courtship was allowed to proceed, merely to make sport
of the good man’s _foible_: a term peculiarly appropriate!

Nine in ten of the women domiciliated by gentlemen, are Mussulmans; the
Hindus being far more scrupulous: with few exceptions, the small portion
not of the former sect are Portugueze. These latter prove, in many
instances, very good house-keepers; looking after the disbursements with
great acuteness, and, on a thousand occasions, shewing more promptness,
and more fitness for such an employment. They are remarkably fond of
rearing poultry and swine; in which they certainly succeed. But there is
a certain something about this description of women, which few are
partial to, and which I never could tolerate. I have already spoken of
the pride of these miserable descendants of renowned characters; but it
really is beyond my power to describe that _fierté_, that vindictive
spirit, that authoritative consequence, which excite at least contempt,
if not hatred, in every person towards whom they are exercised. These
viragoes have no scruples as to what they are to eat and drink; many of
them, indeed, can manage a bottle as well as any man in the kingdom:
they are, however, staunch Catholics, and, on calendar days, dress out
in all the finery their kind keepers can be coaxed out of. It is not to
be supposed these ladies are more continent than Mussulmans, or Hindus
of similar condition: far otherwise; but they are extremely crafty, and
carefully lay the scene of action at some place to which they resort to
offer up their prayers, in common with other equally good Christians: by
this means, they are tolerably secure from the prying curiosity of
ordinary menials, who are not permitted to enter within the sacred pale!

In regard to the expences attendant upon concubinage in the East, they
will depend greatly on the circumstances, and the disposition, of the
gentleman, generally speaking; though, after a while, the lady commonly
gains a kind of ascendancy, and goes beyond those limits, which, in
almost every case, are marked out by previous contract. A certain sum to
be paid monthly; the pay of two, or three, female attendants; an
allowance for beetle, tobacco, (it is very rarely they _chew_ it,)
shoes, cloaths, and _gynahs_, (_i.e._ gold and silver ornaments;) are
articles in almost every capitulation! Taking a broad outline, we may
put down the whole at about forty rupees monthly; equal to sixty pounds
sterling per annum; which must certainly be considered no great price
for a bosom friend, when compared with the sums laid out upon _some_
British damsels; who are not always more scrupulous than those I have
described. But, when we estimate the Asiatic _chere amie_ according to
her merits as a companion, then, indeed, will my fair country-women,
appear most conspicuously pre-eminent! Their agreeable manners, their
polished language, their highly cultivated minds, and their pleasing
attentions, are so irresistible, as to level the barriers of discretion,
and to render every attempt at comparison nugatory; indeed,

In taking the above average, viz. forty rupees per month, I have
supposed the gentleman to be in easy circumstances; otherwise, that sum
will be found to exceed the proportion of his other expences
considerably: at the lowest, we cannot estimate the charges at less than
twenty-five rupees monthly; which, to say the truth, must be attended
with several deficiencies, or privations, by no means creditable. In
this particular, the natives are very scrupulous, and hold it the
highest disgrace, for a woman to be retained, without due attendance,
suitable cloathing, and a participation of the comforts, if not of the
luxuries, of life. The men, especially the Hindus, are indifferent in
regard to their own apparel; which is often mean to an extreme; but
pride themselves on the splendor, and profusion, to be found in their
_zenanahs_. As an instance in point, I must state, that, in the year
1784, a detachment of six companies was sent out from Cawnpore, on the
road to Etayah, in compliment to the _B’how-Buxey_, a General of some
note in the Maharrattah army, who was proceeding on an embassy to
Lucknow. We met him about twenty miles to the Westward of the
cantonments; where we were nearly smothered by the dust raised by his
immense retinue, and absolutely stunned by the unmerciful clangor of
cracked trumpets, and of great bells suspended from the sides of
elephants, whose motion caused the pendulous monotonists to ring ‘a
sonorous peal’. It was natural to expect that the _B’how_, who knew we
were waiting to receive him, and, that an officer of rank was deputed on
the occasion, would have exhibited himself to advantage; but, to our
great surprize, when he alighted from his elephant, which was
sumptuously caparisoned, he appeared the veriest _bunyah_, (or petty
shop-keeper,) my eyes had ever beheld! His cloaths were absolutely
filthy, and of a fabric such as disgraced the wearer. None of our
_khedmutgars_ could have changed apparel with him, without being
considerable losers by the bargain. The _B’how_ was, nevertheless,
attended by a _nautch-tuffah_, or set of dancing-girls; whose equipage
announced his liberality, and whose talents evinced his judgement. Let
me not be misunderstood in this last expression: the dancers of India
can suit only particular tastes, and those perhaps only from habit: they
are not to be classed with persons of the same profession in Europe; but
are a distinct genus. It cannot, however, be denied, that some among
them possess very superior powers in the vocal part of their profession;
and that certain individuals dance, in their style, with peculiar
effect; indeed, with much graceful delicacy, and with undeviating regard
to the measure. The _B’how’s zenanah_ was of course secluded; but the
number of the elephants, _r’huts_, _palanquins_, _doolies_ and other
conveyances, satisfied me that the ladies were in better plight than
their most abominably filthy lord!

The Hindostanee ladies do not wear shoes, but when walking, a pair of
slippers are put on for the occasion; so soon as the lady returns to her
seat on the _satrinje_, or carpet, they are thrown aside. Such as are
formed without heels, and have the back part made to flatten down under
the foot, for that part is seldom, if ever, raised, are known by the
name of _k’hous_; while those made without any back-piece, the quarters
terminating under the ancles on each side, and that have raised heels,
to perhaps the height of an inch, are designated _chinauls_. In either
kind, as well as in the _jooties_ worn by men, the toe-part is
terminated by a long pointed strip, usually of leather lined with cloth,
that curls inwards over the toes; without this, the shoes would be
considered both unfinished, and vulgar. Men commonly wear only
embroidered shoes, but the women have frequently an abundance of various
colored foils, principally purple or green, fastened down to the body of
the vamp, (which is of some bright colored broad cloth,) and serving, by
the manner in which they are disposed, to fill up the pattern of the
embroidery: this may be either of gold or silver thread, or, perhaps,
very small bugles, not dissimilar to seed-pearls. Those who cannot
afford such decorations, which may raise the price of a pair of shoes to
about four or five rupees; content themselves with silken ornaments. The
low price of a pair of shoes ornamented as above described, cannot fail
to strike the reader, who will be yet more astonished to learn, that an
admirably well-dressed hide may be had in any part of the country for
less than five shillings; such as would sell with us for about thirty
shillings, or even more. Those stout shoes worn by our native soldiery,
rarely cost more than from four to eight annas the pair, (equal to from
eight to sixteen pence.) Neither men nor women use stockings; though,
during the winter months, the more opulent sometimes wear a short kind
of sock, called a _jooraub_, made of cotton, or of silk, perhaps both
intermixed, and of various colored patterns. These are remarkably thick,
but rarely reach above the ancle. Persons of the first rank, have their
_jooraubs_, as also their _dustannahs_, or gloves, made of shawl;
strange to say, these are usually of the form in use among us for
children; that is, they have a receptacle for the thumb, but the fingers
are all contained in the same bag, or _cyst_. It is, however, very
uncommon to see a woman, of whatever rank, wear gloves: this is, no
doubt, owing to the pride they take in their hands, which are invariably
ornamented with gold or silver rings, &c., to the utmost extent of their
purses. In fact, the whole attention of a Hindostanee woman, retained in
the family of an European, is directed towards the accumulation of
trinkets, which may be supposed to be tolerably expensive, when it is
understood that nothing less than solid silver is admissible. Gilt, or
plated, ornaments, are held to be disreputable, and unlucky; hence, the
_moolumbah_, or plating trade, is very little followed in India; though
the jewellers will sometimes pass off a coated, for a solid article;
especially in gold work.

The following are the ornaments chiefly worn by the Hindostanee ladies.
The _maung-teekah_, meaning the frontal, ornament, has usually a star,
or radiated centre, of about two inches in diameter, set in gold, and
richly ornamented with small pearls, of which, various chains are
attached, aiding to support it in its position; namely, on the centre of
the forehead. A triple, or quadruple, row of pearls, passes up the
centre of the _maung_, or front; the hair being divided, and kept down
very flat. The centre piece, (and, occasionally, each end piece also,)
is composed of precious stones, such as the topaz, the emerald, the
amethyst, the ruby, &c.: sometimes the centre is of one color, and all
the rays of some other; or perhaps the latter are alternate. The
_maung-teekah_, as may be judged from the above description, is not a
very light ornament, but is extremely splendid, and, being generally set
in gold, often very valuable: one of a very ordinary description will
cost full twelve or fifteen guineas, though composed of colored glass,
or chrystal, or foils: when made of precious stones, the price may reach
to any extent.

The _kurrum-phool_, is not unlike the centre piece of a _maung-teekah_,
and may be about the same size, though usually somewhat less in
diameter. This ornament is fastened to the lobe of the ear, both by the
usual mode of piercing, and by a chain of gold passing over the ear, so
as to bear the weight of the _kurrum-phool_; which would else cause the
lobe to be greatly extended downward. It is, however, to be remarked,
that most of the common women have large holes in that part of the ear,
wide enough to pass a finger through; and that even the higher orders
consider an aperture such as would admit a pea, rather honorable, than
otherwise; under the opinion of its indicating the great weight, and
consequent value, of their jewels.

The _joomkah_ is ever of solid gold, silver being in this absolutely
interdicted by the laws of taste; in framing which, pride seems to have
had no very small share. This ornament consists of a hollow hemisphere,
or bell, curiously fillagreed, and about three fourths of an inch in
diameter; the edges suspend small rods, or pendants of gold, each
furnished with one or more small pearls, garnets, &c.; perhaps to the
number of a dozen pendants being attached to the circumference of each
_joomkah_. The upper part is furnished with a small perforated stud,
sometimes ornamented, through which a ring, about the thickness of a
fine knitting-needle, and not less than half an inch in diameter, is
inserted; it previously passing through the ear in the part usually
pierced. This ring, as well as every other kind of fastening made to
pass through the ears, or nose, is made of the purest gold, and so
pliant as to allow the little hook made at one end, by bending the wire,
for the purpose of fixing into a minute loop, or eye, formed, at the
other end, by twisting it, to be straightened, at pleasure, by means of
the nail only.

European ladies content themselves with one appendage at each ear; while
the females of Hindostan think it impossible to have too many: thus,
they affix a number of small rings, of pure gold, or, in case of
poverty, of silver, or even of tin, all along the border of the ear;
which is pierced for that purpose in at least a dozen places, to receive
these ornaments, from which much distress often arises, owing to the
veil (already described) frequently hitching upon the small hooked ends
of the wire.

The nose has its share in the decorations of the Hindostanee fair, it
usually bearing two ornaments; one, called a _n’hut_, commonly passed
through the left nostril, consists only of a piece of gold wire, as
thick as a small knitting-needle, with the usual hook and eye, and
having the centre, or nearly so, furnished with several garnets, pearls,
&c. perhaps to the number of five or six, each parted from its neighbour
by a thin plate of gold, usually having serrated, or escaloped edges,
and being fixed transversely upon the wire, which passes through their
centres, as well as through the garnets, pearls, &c. The diameter of the
circle of a _n’hut_ may be, ordinarily, about two inches and a half. On
the coast of Coromandel, a similar ornament is worn by men of
respectability, in each ear.

The other nasal trinket is called a _bolauk_; it is flat, something in
the form of that article of furniture called a footman, and has a small
ring, with hook and eye, at its narrowest part, for the purpose of
appending it to the middle of the nose, by means of a gold ring passing
through the _septum_, or division between the nostrils; the ornament
lying flat upon the upper lip, and having its broad end furnished with
pendants, similar to those on a _joomkah_. It is inconceivable what some
women undergo for the sake of displaying their riches in this way! Not
only does the _bolauk_ interfere with the operations of the lips during
meals, but sores of the most unsightly description are often created, in
that very tender part to which the ornament attaches, by those
innumerable accidents, which not even the most constant vigilance can

The neck is not forgotten among those lavish decorations of which the
sable ladies are so fond; it is furnished with various kinds of
necklace, of which I shall describe only the _chumpauk-gully_. This is
made of separate rays, each intended to represent a petal of the
_chumpauk_, (a flower indigenous throughout Asia,) and having a fixed
ring, or staple, at its butt, so that the whole may be strung close
together, perhaps to the number of forty pieces, or more. This ornament
is usually worn rather loose, that it may reach half way down the bosom.
The mounting is gold, or silver, according to the means of the wearer;
and the rays, or petals, are, in imitation of the _maung-teekah_; either
chrystals, set on foils, chiefly white; or they are precious stones, of
one color, throughout the ornament.

The _haunseah_ is a solid collar of gold, or silver, weighing from
perhaps, four ounces to near a pound. I have seen several that
approached the latter weight, and must have been highly oppressive to
the wearer; especially as they only came into use on high days and
holidays: the general standard may be computed at about six or seven
ounces. Being made of pure metal, they are easily bent, so as to be put
on and off. _Haunseahs_ are commonly square in front, under the chin,
for several inches, and taper off gradually to not more than half their
greatest diameter; terminating at each end with a small knob, cut into a
polygonal form: this ornament is sometimes carved in the Oriental style,
either for its whole length, or on the front part only.

Most of the Hindostanee women wear _tabeejes_, strung upon an assemblage
of black silk threads, passing round their necks, and reaching to their
middles: these _tabeejes_ are silver cases, enclosing either quotations
from the Koran, or some mystical writings, or some rubbish from the
animal or vegetable kingdom, but, I believe, never any _camphor_ (as
lately used by a celebrated English lady). Whatever the contents may be,
great reliance is placed on their efficacy in repelling disease, and in
averting the influence of witch-craft, (_j’haddoo_,) of which the people
of India, of every sect, entertain the most unlimited dread. Hence, it
is not uncommon to see half a dozen, or more, of these charms strung
upon the same threads.

The upper parts of the arms are adorned with semi-circular ornaments,
made hollow, but filled up with melted rosin; the ends are furnished
with loops of the same metal, generally silver, which admit silken
skeans, whereby they are secured to their places. The above trinket is
called a _baujoo-bund_.

The wrists are always profusely decorated: the more ordinary classes
wear rings made of _kaunch_, or _chank_; (_i.e._ the common sea-conch,
cut out, by means of very fine saws, into narrow slips which, when
joined very accurately, give the whole an appearance of being formed
from the most circular part of each shell. This is, indeed, sometimes
done; but such entire rings are very scarce, and are usually preserved
in their original pure whiteness with much assiduity. The city of Dacca,
so famous for its muslins, carries on a large intercourse with
Chittagong, and the coast of Aracan, for conchs, which are used for
beetling the finer cloths, manufactured in that populous and rich
emporium of cotton fabrics. The noise made by _chanking_ the cloths,
which, being laid many folds thick upon a large board, are beat with
_conchs_, wherein handles are inserted, is peculiarly distressing to an
unaccustomed ear; especially as the operation continues night and day,
without intermission: to those interested in the trade, it may perhaps
be highly agreeable! The small process, or button, at the base of each
shell, is sawn off, and, after being ground to a shape resembling that
of a flat turnip, is perforated, for the purpose of being strung. When
so prepared, these receive the name of _kuntahs_; of which, two rows,
each containing from thirty to forty, are worn round the neck of every
Sepoy in the Company’s service, as a part of his uniform. This simple
ornament affords a pleasant relief to the sable countenance of a native,
and serves to fill up a space, that would otherwise appear extremely
naked, between the collar-bones and the chin.

The rings made from the sea-conch, are called _kaunch ke t’choory_, or
_t’choories_ made of conch; in contra-distinction to a common kind of
_t’choories_, made, by persons who follow that profession only, from a
species of silicious clay, which speedily vitrifies, forming a
semi-transparent mass, that is worked into rings of about a line in
diameter; but having rather quadrangular than circular surfaces; so that
the inner circumference may be rather easy to the wrist, and the upper
part, (or outer circumference,) be sufficiently flat to exhibit various
embellishments, given by aid of gold leaf, and little enamelled, or
lacquered specks, &c., applied thereto, and afterwards burnt in. It is
inconceivable how expert the women who vend the _t’choories_, and who
are thence called _t’chooríaens_, are in applying these ornaments;
which, after being once passed over the hand, often are found to fit the
wrist admirably: persons unacquainted with the dexterity of these women,
would, on seeing the rings before they were on, consider it impossible
to get the hand through; yet, by means of a little oil, or even of
water, and compressing the very flexible member into a suitable form,
the rings are successively made to glide over the joints with tolerable
facility; very few, in proportion, being broken during the operation. It
is to be remarked, that, as probably forty or fifty _t’choories_ are to
be worn upon each wrist, those appropriated to the thicker part of the
arm, being, of course, the first to pass, the hand becomes gradually
suppled, and disposed to receive each succeeding ring, which is
imperceptibly of less diameter than its predecessor. To say the most of
_t’choories_, they have a very heavy appearance, and are always highly
uncomfortable to Madam’s most intimate acquaintances, in consequence of
their being peculiarly brittle.

Some ladies wear a massy ring of solid silver on each wrist, weighing,
perhaps, from three to five ounces: these are commonly hexagonal, or
octagonal, of an equal thickness throughout, and terminated by a knob at
each end, the same as in the _haunseah_. Being of pure silver, this
ornament, which is called a _kurrah_, may be opened sufficiently to be
put on, or off, at pleasure; the ends being brought together by an easy
pressure of the other hand.

A bracelet, formed of small pointed prisms of solid silver, each about
the size of a very large barley-corn, and having a ring soldered to one
of its sides is in very common use. These prisms are strung upon black
silk, as close as their pointed, or perhaps rounded, ends will admit, in
three or four parallel rows, and then fastened, the same as the
_baujoo-bund_. Some of the bracelets, which bear the general name of
_poanҫhies_, are of gold, intermixed with pearls; affording a very rich
appearance: they are certainly more ornamental than _t’choories_, which
are, in the end, very expensive, on account of the immense numbers that
give way in the wearing.

The thumb of each hand is generally destined to bear an ornament called
_inah_, (or looking-glass,) formed of a ring fitting upon the thumb, and
having a small mirror, about the size of a half-penny, fixed upon it by
the centre, so as to accord with the back of the thumb. Each finger is
provided with its quota of _angooties_, or rings, of various sorts and
sizes, generally of gold; those of silver being considered mean. The
_inah_ should correspond in this particular; but, on account of the
quantity of gold required wherein to set the glass, many content
themselves with silver mounting. That a small looking-glass may, at
times, be commodiously situated at the back of the thumb, we will not
dispute; but what shall we say to that preposterous custom, which I have
absolutely witnessed, of wearing a similar ornament on each great toe!!!

A lady, at all priding herself on the splendor of her dress, must have a
pair of very substantial _kurrahs_, or rings of silver, not weighing
less than half a pound each, upon her ancles. She must also have a pair
of _paum-jebs_, made flexible, and ornamented with little spherical
bells, all of which tinkle at every motion of the limb. The ordinary
pattern of the _paum-jeb_, is mural, each piece being kept in its place
by wires, passing through its two ends vertically. The toes have
likewise their rings, called _chellahs_, usually of about the fifth of
an inch in breadth and very thin; these have, for the most part, beaded

The women of Portugueze extraction, wear their hair in a large top knot,
secured by an immense silver pin, or rather a skewer; the broad part of
which is either fillagreed, enamelled, or engraved. The Hindostanee
ladies wear no ornament of that description; they comb down their
frontal hair, while abundantly moistened with _tissy_, that is, the
mucilage obtained by steeping linseed in a small quantity of water; and
causing it to part from the centre in two diverging sweeps, or
crescents, that come down to the exterior corners of the eye-brows,
falling in immediately above the ears, they thus render the whole
smooth, compact, and glossy. All the hair appertaining to the hinder
part of the head, is braided together for its whole length, and
ultimately blended with black ribbon; which continues the braid for many
inches, or even for a foot or more, so as to render it doubtful, at a
certain distance, whether the hair does not occupy the whole length.
This is a point of the utmost importance with a native lady, who values
her locks beyond even her virtue. Whether it were the cause, or the
effect, is difficult to say; but certain it is, that, one of the
greatest punishments a judge can inflict on a woman, is to have her head
shaved. Query, Did their high estimation of the hair, induce to making
its privation a punishment? or, did that estimation take place, in
consequence of the want of hair being considered disgraceful? I am
inclined to favor the first opinion. It is very common for a native to
cause the hair of his _baundy_, or female slave, to be taken off, for
any trifling offence.

Coral beads are in high estimation throughout Hindostan, as applicable
to the construction of necklaces and bracelets for women.
Notwithstanding they are manufactured from the red coral, fished up in
various parts of Asia, these beads are very costly, especially when they
run to any size. They are generally sold by the sicca-weight, or
_tolah_; that is, by their weight in silver, two and a half rupees
weighing about one ounce; or eighty to the seer of nearly two pounds
avoirdupoise. A _tolah_ of high colored, sound beads, as large as a
marrow-fat pea, may commonly be had for about three, or four, rupees;
sometimes cheaper: consequently, an ounce of coral beads, called
_moongahs_, will cost near a guinea. This, which is four times the value
of silver, appears to be a high price, considering the low wages of
laborers, and proves that coral cannot be advantageously imported from
India to England. The ladies of Asia are very particular in often
steeping their _moongahs_ in pigeon’s blood; under the firm belief of
their color being heightened by such immersions! This recipe may,
however, be matched by many, of equal efficacy, highly valued among

The lowest, and most poverty-struck woman in Bengal, would consider
herself truly wretched if she could not, now and then, anoint her head
with oil, of some kind. The ladies of affluence invariably use scented
oils, of which those impregnated with the bale, the jasmine, and sandal,
are most in use. Doubtless, custom reconciles ‘the rancid fragrance’ to
the nostrils of an Asiatic; but, to an European, nothing can be more
offensive. A full dressed Hindostanee lady is the living type of that
sarcastic couplet of Swift.

                  ‘Enrich’d with all the gay perfume,
                  She wafts a stench around the room.’

The sale of these oils, as also of the _missy_, which is applied by both
sexes to their teeth, and, by forming a black coating, or varnish, is
supposed to preserve their enamel from the action of the lime contained
in the _pawn_, or beetle, they generally chew, as also of the _soormah_,
or levigated antimony, used for blackening the edges of the eye-lids,
together with a variety of rubbish, is confined to a class of men called
_gundies_, who carry their ware about in small baskets. The oils, and
especially the _utr_, or _ottah_ of roses, are very carefully packed in
cotton-wool, and every pretence is made of their being of great value.
It is wonderful what deceptions this class of hawkers practise! They are
most consummate in the arts of flattery and intrigue; from the exercise
of one or the other, not unfrequently of both conjoined, they could not
fail to become very rich, did they not generally lead most dissipated
lives, and often take payment _in kind_ for their wares.

With respect to the perfumed oils in common use among the Hindostanee
ladies, their preparation is very easy; being, for the most part, merely
sweet oils of any kind; such as that extracted from linseed, or from the
cocoa-nut, or from any plant coming under the denomination of _metah_,
(_i.e._ sweet,) perfumed by means of a small quantity of the essential
oil of any fragrant flower, particularly the rose, the jasmine, the
bale, &c. All these oils are extremely common, rarely selling for more
than two or three rupees per seer; which corresponds with about seven
shillings for an English quart.

That highly fragrant oil extracted from the rose, called _attar_, or by
us _ottah_, is by no means so common as might be expected, at least not
in perfection: as to reputed _attar_, that may be had of every _gundy_,
and at even a few annas per _tolah_ (or half ounce weight). Genuine
_attar_ can only be had of particular persons, and then at a very high
price; commonly about four guineas, (_i.e._ two gold mohurs) per ounce.
The natives, for many years, pretended to make a great secret of the
process whereby this valuable oil was extracted; whence they not only
retained the whole profit to themselves, but were enabled to practise
various deceptions of great advantage to themselves but extremely
injurious to the extract.

Although many gentlemen had occasionally endeavored to ascertain the
proportions used by the venders of _attar_, it was not until about the
year 1781, or 1782, that any attempt was made, on an extensive scale, to
competite with that class of distillers. The late Lieutenant-Colonel
Anthony Polier, who resided for many years at his beautiful villa, some
miles from Lucknow, was, I believe, the first whose researches included
the distillation of _attar_, in which pursuit he was remarkably
successful; considering how much intrigue, corruption, and ignorance he
had to contend with, I have heard that gentleman declare, that, in
almost every train of experiments he undertook, some latent opposition
was sure to prevail; often baffling every effort, and sometimes
compelling him to abandon his design.

This resulted from the jealousy entertained by the natives of
distinction at the court of the Nabob Vizier of Oude, AZOPH UL DOWLAH,
with whom his extreme urbanity, suavity of manners, ingenuity, and
incorruptible integrity, rendered him a great favorite. The courtiers
apprehended, that, through the united intelligence of Colonel Polier,
and of Colonel Claude Martine, whose genius in every mechanical art was
on a par with that of the former in the polite arts, as well as in most
branches of useful science, the several expensive establishments
supported by the Nabob would ultimately be set aside, as useless, and as
devouring a revenue, which might be turned towards purposes in which
they should have no concern; or, at least, no profit. Therefore,
notwithstanding his highness’s positive orders, most of the
indispensables were either withheld, or, when furnished at all, proved
of the worst quality: any man less mild than Polier, would have insisted
on a due attention to his requisitions; but he forbore from
remonstrance, except when so closely pressed as to render representation
inevitable. Whenever, in spite of all direct hostility, and of underhand
resistance, the Colonel fulfilled his wishes, displaying the complete
success of his ingenuity and learning; then, all was cried down as
_j’haddoo_, as witch-craft; and the whole body of Mahomedan
ecclesiastics joined to crush the growth of science.

Being provided with an ample still, and having very extensive
plantations of roses, in which I have often passed a leisure hour,
admiring equally their fragrance, and the amiable qualities of their
planter, the Colonel made a shift to carry on his operations, but not
with invariable success; the native distillers having frequently
influenced his servants, by means of bribes, to mix various ingredients,
which either tainted, or otherwise deteriorated, the produce of his
still. At length, after a great variety of experiments, in which he, of
course, experienced many most mortifying, and equally unaccountable
disappointments, he hit upon the just proportions, and the most
favorable process. His method was as follows. To a maund (_i.e._ 82lb.)
of roses, he put about a maund and a half of water: the roses being
entire, and having their stems cut away close under the chalices. These
being all duly mixed, by hand, in the still, a gentle fire was made
under it; the head not being applied until the water began to throw off
a vapor: after that, it was put on, and carefully luted down. The fire
was, throughout the distillation, kept rather slow than fierce;
especially after about a tenth part of the water had come over into the
receiver: in about five hours, half the water had come over tolerably
clear. The rose-water thus obtained, was again put to another maund of
roses, which were subjected to the same operation, until about half its
quantity had passed into the receiver. As the former was called ‘single
rose-water,’ so was this designated ‘double rose-water;’ but it is
evident that the term ‘quadruple’ would be more appropriate, since
_double the quantity of perfume was brought into half the former space_.
The produce of the last distillation was put into broad pans, either of
earthen ware, or of tinned metal, and left exposed, during the night, to
the cold air.

Here, I should remark, that the roses generally bloom early in the year,
and that, during the month of January, sometimes, also, in February, ice
is produced by pouring hot water into shallow pans of porous crockery;
which, being placed on beds of loose sand, in exposed situations, during
the whole night, generally yield a substantial pellicle, and, in very
favorable instances, sometimes cause the whole of the water to be
congealed. The colonel’s object, in exposing the rose-water, as above
shewn, was to congeal the essential oil, called _attar_, which has the
peculiar property of becoming compact, and flaky, when exposed to a
degree of cold far above freezing point; in this instance, bearing some
affinity to animal oils in general.

Now, it is evident, that such an exposure subjected the _attar_, which
floated on the surface as it became cold, to the access of dust, at
least, if not of other grosser rubbish; therefore the plan was certainly
injudicious: this the colonel soon perceived, for the quantity of, what
he considered to be, _fæces_, proved that there was some mismanagement.
Accordingly, he took a hint, and, while the rose-water was yet lukewarm,
poured it into a large _caraboy_, or glass bottle; so as to fill it
completely. The _caraboy_ was then subjected to a refrigerating process;
by which the _attar_ was condensed on its surface in its neck, whence it
was easily removed into a large-mouthed phial, furnished with a ground
stopper. What little adhered to the neck of the _caraboy_, did not come
away with the rose-water, as it was poured off, but, on the vessel being
reversed, and subjected to a considerable degree of heat, dropped slowly
into a phial placed below it, but protected from the action of the fire.

The products in _attar_ have been widely different. The natives rarely
obtain more than a drachm and a half from a maund of roses; whereas
Colonel Polier obtained full two drachms from a hundred pounds troy. In
Europe, we find that some continental chymists have extracted half an
ounce: Hamberg succeeded so far as to draw a whole ounce, and Hoffman
was rewarded with no less than two ounces. All these persons, however,
rejected the chalices; using only the petals; which necessarily made a
great difference, the perfume being, principally, if not wholly,
confined to them.

The rose-water, even after the _attar_ has been completely separated, is
rich in fragrance, but is far more so, when the _attar_ is suffered to
remain united with it, as may be effected by the addition of various
_menstrua_, which keep it suspended in the fluid. The general price of
such rose-water as is ordinarily sold under the designation of ‘double,’
and, of course, passes for the very best, may be from twenty, to forty,
rupees per maund, according as the season may have been productive, or
as the purchase may be made from the distiller himself, or through a
second or a third hand.

Colonel Polier states that the quantity of _attar_ obtained from nearly
fifty-five maunds of roses, which grew upon about eleven acres of good
soil, highly manured, amounted to sixteen _tolahs_, or about half a
pound avoirdupoise. This gives us some insight into the value of the
_attar_; for, if we allow the land to have been worth a guinea per acre,
and that the cultivation, together with the expences of distillation,
should amount to as much more, the following would be the state of the

                                            £. _s._ _d._   £. _s._ _d._
 Rent of 11 acres, (or 33 _bigahs_,)        11   11    0   23    2    0
 Expences of cultivation, &c.               11   11    0

Against which we have

 Sixteen _tolahs_ of _attar_, say at two
   guineas,                                 33   12    0
 About thirteen and a half maunds of
   rose-water, say at only 20 rupees, or
   £2. 10s. per maund                       33   10    0
 Giving a total of receipts equal to                       67    2    0
 And a nett produce on 11 acres, of                        44    0    0
 Equal per acre, to the yearly sum of                       4    0    0

In the above, I have taken the _attar_ at far less than the price it at
present bears, and the rose-water at the rate usually charged at
Juanpore, Lucknow, &c. for a maund of the best rose-water, at the time
Colonel Polier’s experiment, above detailed, was dated, namely, in 1787.
If my information is correct, the best _attar_ now sells at Calcutta for
near six guineas the ounce; and the best rose-water at Juanpore, where a
large quantity is distilled, for thirty-five and forty rupees per maund.
The expence of the cultivation is taken at about seven rupees monthly,
on an average; there being no work of consequence performed, except
hoeing, for full eight months in the year. The rent of the land is rated
at the ordinary medium at which I compute soils suited to the growth of
tobacco, cotton, sugar, opium, &c. to be of late, that is, at about 2½
rupees, or eight shillings per _bigah_.

In Doctor Willich’s Encyclopædia, I observe it is stated, that genuine
_attar_ sells, even in the East Indies, at twenty guineas the ounce; but
I apprehend this to be a great error; at least, it is far beyond what
the experience of more than twenty years allows me to credit. If,
indeed, the Doctor means that which the _gundies_ retail, by mixing only
_one drop_ of genuine _attar_ among pint of oil of sandal-wood, as is
often practised, he is far short of the mark; for, in such case, the
ounce may be said to sell for nearer fifty, than twenty guineas.

The color of _attar_, is remarked by Colonel Polier, ‘to be no criterion
of its goodness, its quality, or its country.’ That gentleman states,
that he had, in the same year, and from the same rose-bushes, _attar_ of
a fine emerald green, of a bright yellow, and of a reddish hue, all
obtained by the same process, only that the roses were collected on
different days.

Here I am disposed to suspect, that the old trick, so peremptorily
detected by Doctor and Professor Gilchrist, of mixing a solution of
verdigris, or other coloring matter, in the still, or in the receiver,
must have been practised by some of the Colonel’s attendants. It has
been sufficiently proved, that, when no such adulteration takes place,
_attar_ very nearly limpid: but, though a color may be thus imparted, it
does not appear that the perfume is debased; its fragrance being
unimpaired: on the other hand, the admixture of any other oil is readily
discovered, by its causing the disposition to liquescence, even when
exposed to severe cold, which distinguishes every other known perfume
from genuine _attar_.

Some ladies anoint their bodies with scented oils, but, for the most
part, a predilection exists in favor of that extracted from the
_sesamum_, or mustard seed; which is likewise in very general use
throughout every branch of culinary preparation, among the natives of
every sect. When the oil is applied to the body, (over every part of
which it is smeared, the gratified individual generally exposing himself
to the influence of the sun while the unction is performing,) it is in
its raw state; but when intended for sauce, it is, on account of the
peculiar rankness of its flavor, subjected to the following simple
operation, whereby it is very considerably sweetened; though not
divested of a certain flavor by which its presence may always be
detected. The oil is put into a deep vessel, either earthen or of metal,
having some kind of lid, such as a flat pan, &c. to retain the heat
while the oil is preparing: when it boils, and crackles, one side of the
lid is lifted, and a small quantity of cold water thrown in, the lid
being shut down as quickly as possible, lest the oil, which flies
immediately when touched by the water, should scald the operator. This
is repeated three or four times, at short intervals, and the oil is thus
nearly divested of its unpleasant and acrimonious flavor. Both sexes
anoint their bodies with the oil of _sesamum_, commonly called by
Europeans ‘_mosaul_ oil,’ from its being invariably used by the
_mosaulchies_ to feed the flames of their links, or _mosauls_: by the
natives it is designated _kurwah-tale_, or ‘bitter oil.’ In some
instances, we see turmeric mixed with it, for the purpose of excitement
to perspiration! this absurd practice is not very general, but one would
suppose the fallacy of such an opinion must long ago have been
discovered, and that the turmeric would have been found rather to add to
that obstruction, inevitably created by the oil, than to promote
diaphoresis. The only intention that seems truly to be answered by the
unction, is that of _stopping_ the pores: hence, we see all the poor
people, throughout India, avail themselves, whenever the means offer, of
a handful or two of _kurwah-tale_, to rub over their skins, during the
winter season especially; thereby to resist the cold air: many, who can
afford but a light kind of cloathing, and are not competent to purchase
quilted jackets, would be almost frozen, were it not for this device.

This practice, so extremely common, I might say, universal, throughout
India, seems to be at variance with the opinions of our physicians, who
consider it highly dangerous to close too many of the pores at one time.
That it is done with impunity in India, is too well known to require any
evidence being here adduced: nay, more, such unctions are recommended in
high fevers, by the native doctors, (generally Bramins,) who likewise
prescribe a thick plaistering of pounded herbs to be in such cases
applied all over the body. This, which rarely fails to produce relief,
is evidently the basis of that refrigerant course adopted, of late
years, by some of our most celebrated medical characters.

As a perfume, the more delicate ladies of India rub themselves with
various drugs, not very gratifying to the olfactory nerves of our
Europeans; the same is also used for the hair. A few use a kind of
pomade, made extemporaneously of orange peels, ground fine upon a stone,
and mixed with flour, made from peas, called _basin_. This is really
fragrant, as well as cleansing; but I cannot so much admire the sandal
some substitute for the _citric aroma_; it being of a peculiarly sickly
scent, which does not easily wash out of linen.

With respect to religious ablutions, the natures of every sect, but
especially the Bramins, are very particular; even fastidiously so: all
bathe at least once daily before their dinner hour, whatever may be the
state of the weather, repairing either to some neighbouring river, or to
a pond, (or _tank_,) for that purpose. There they walk up to their
waists in the water; and, placing their thumbs in their ears, and their
fore-fingers pressing their nostrils, immerse themselves, by squatting
suddenly upon their haunches, several times in succession; generally
repeating various prayers on these occasions. All take this opportunity
to wash their _doties_, and other parts of their apparel; having in
readiness dry cloaths to put on, but which are, of course, left upon the
shore. It is curious to see, as may often be done at some _ghauts_, or
wharfs, hundreds of persons bathing in this manner at the same time; the
water is often thronged for the whole day; especially at Benares,
Allahabad, Betoor, and other sacred cities, to which pilgrims resort
from immense distances for that purpose. At particular times, it is
supposed that nearly a million of persons assemble to bathe in the
Ganges; whence it must appear extremely curious to the European reader,
that scarce an instance is known of any person losing his cloaths while
bathing: perhaps it may be in some measure owing to that astonishing
concourse of barbers, who officíate previous to each person entering the
sacred stream; and who usually take charge of, or at least have an eye
to, the vestments left for his use on returning from the water.

At all the bathing-places the sexes intermix promiscuously; each being
in their usual cloathing: this does not, however, relate to women of a
superior class, who are not suffered to go abroad except in close
vehicles, and who, were they voluntarily to shew their faces to any
male, except their husbands, would be in danger of losing their heads:
such never bathe in the river but under ample precautions. A spot is
selected, where the water shoals gradually, and where the bather cannot
be overlooked from any height, &c. There, an area is enclosed, by means
of _kanauts_, supported to the height of perhaps eight feet, or more, by
means of bamboo poles, kept in their places by ropes fastened to stakes,
or to poles driven into the sand. The lady is carried to an overlap, or
opening, in the _kanauts_, mostly in a covered carriage, of which the
driver retires, taking with him the oxen, and leaving the machine
enclosed within the area, where it serves the purpose of a
dressing-room. The female servants attend the interior, while the
exterior is guarded by centinels, or perhaps by eunuchs, on the land
side; and, towards any navigable channel a boat is stationed, to prevent
the approach of strangers. But few Mahomedan women bathe in this manner;
they, as well as their husbands, generally content themselves with
having five or six large pots of water thrown over their heads; the
generality of Europeans ordinarily bathe in this way daily during the
hot season; and, on some occasions, even the pious Hindu resorts to the
same domestic ablution; though it is held far inferior to immersion in
the Ganges, or in such stream as should, by being within a reasonable
distance, preclude all pleas of inconvenience. Bigots will often travel
several miles to be laved by the holy fluid; while others will scarcely
go as many yards to enjoy that reputed blessing. All, however, must
conform, to a certain extent, to the law; and it is but justice to say,
that, whether owing to habit, or to veneration, the number of trespasses
is very, very limitted. We may suppose, that, in so hot a climate,
bathing must be a luxury; this should be taken _cum grano salis_; for,
at some seasons, the waters are by no means inviting: I have often gone
into a bath in December and January, when the sensations were truly

Mahomedans, in opulent circumstances, and especially those of rank,
generally have baths lined with marble, or with masonry, in some private
apartments, to which their families can have immediate access. These
baths are sometimes furnished with the means of having water heated to
any temperature; as is invariably the case with all the public baths to
be seen at Calcutta, and the several great cities throughout the East.
These baths, which are called _hummums_, (whence we have derived the
term,) are extremely convenient; and, if properly used, no less
conducive to health. It is necessary, after quitting them, to be
extremely cautious in allowing access to the atmospheric temperature, on
account of the perfect cleansing given to the skin, by the attendants,
who by means of _hautties_, (a kind of glove, made of hair, or very
coarse wool,) bring off such a quantity of scurf as astonishes those who
consider themselves to be very cleanly in their persons. These men cause
every joint in the bather’s whole frame to crack; thereby giving,
sometimes, no inconsiderable pain: to this, however, the natives are so
fully accustomed, as to consider it absolutely a luxury. Although the
_hummums_ are much frequented by Mahomedans, yet, I believe, they are
chiefly supported by the resort of Armenians, Greeks, Portugueze, and
English gentlemen.

The waters throughout the East are infested by alligators of an enormous
size; of which, some are most sanguinary depredators. It often happens
that a bather is carried off daily from a _ghaut_, perhaps for a
fortnight in succession; when the evil is put a stop to by some lucky
shot, which either kills the alligator, or causes him to quit the
vicinity. Such is the faith entertained by all the natives, whether
Mussulmans or Hindus, regarding predestination, that, although, on such
occasions, they proceed to the _ghaut_ with obvious apprehension, they
allow no intermission to take place in the ablutionary duties, on
account of those depredations they may have daily witnessed for some
time before. This species of absurdity may be discovered, in a thousand
shapes, in the conduct of predestinarians, who affect to believe in that
previous arrangement which renders all human precaution unavailing.
These persons, at the same time, shew great anxiety to have the
alligator killed; consequently, may be fairly considered as aiming to
subvert the ordinations of fate!

Though the native women retained by European gentlemen very rarely
proceed to the rivers to bathe, but content themselves with either the
use of a small bath of masonry, or with pots of water, they are,
nevertheless, extremely fond of going abroad in a _palanquin_, or a
_r’hut_, attended by their _dhyes_, and with the _guttah-tope_, or
cover, of the vehicle, brought down close on all sides. It certainly
would be uncharitable to annex a bad motive, as inseparable from _all_
such excursions, yet it may probably be considered as a general rule,
that such ladies either take the air with the intention of meeting some
established gallant, or that they ultimately give way to the flattery
and whisperings of their menials, who are rarely proof against a very
moderate bribe, and are frequently known to throw an admirer, as though
accidentally, in the way of Madam’s notice.

However recluse we may suppose the Hindostanee ladies to be, some
allowance must be made for certain amusements peculiar to India, in
which they indulge. The acceptance and transmission of compliments and
civilities, afford no small gratification; the arrival, or despatch, of
a complimentary _pawn_, (beetle,) or of an _elauҫhee_, (cardamom,) being
matters of considerable importance, among a race whose whole time may be
said to be devoted to whatever is childish or insignificant. When visits
are paid, much ceremony is used, and every endeavor is exerted, on
either part, to appear well-bred and affable; on such occasions, a
profusion of compliments are exchanged, while each narrowly observes the
dress, the equipage, and the conduct of the other, but reserves her
observations until a free vent may be given to envy and jealousy; not
forgetting a little scandal.

Some ladies affect to possess a musical ear, and exercise not only their
own lungs, but those of their attendants also, in vociferating various
common-place songs, accompanying their captivating strains with
tremendous thumps on a large long drum, called a _dhole_; or perhaps
shewing the agility of their fingers in playing upon a very small kind
of tambourine, called a _coonjerry_. Woe be to that kind-keeper who
should dissent from the fair one’s opinion, regarding either the
excellence of her performance, or the pleasing tones of the instruments!
Where this infatuation exists, the whole neighbourhood is compelled to
submit to the nuisance. There would be no use in remonstrating with the
lady, through the medium of her servants: and as to parleying with the
gentleman on such a subject, that would give great offence; or, at all
events, would be unavailing. The man who submits to such an uproar, ‘for
the sake of a _quiet_ life’, may be considered a living illustration of
Shakespeare’s ludicrous, but most wholesome lesson,—‘The ewe that will
not hear its lamb when it bleats, will never attend to a calf when it
baes.’ In truth, some of these ladies ride upon very high horses, and
keep the whip-hand most manfully! a circumstance we should by no means
expect, after hearing, perhaps, that their respective names were
‘_Chembayly_’, (jasmine,) ‘_Golaub_’, (rose-water,) ‘_Miscery_’,
(sugar,) ‘_Gool-beegum_’, (queen of roses,) ‘_Meevah-Jehan_’, (the fruit
of life:) though, perhaps, those known by the name of ‘_Soorooj_’,
(_i.e._ the sun,) might lay claim to some authority, without acting so
grossly in opposition to their nomenclature.

When we consider the very severe privation experienced by females in
general, (for our country-women often affect to adopt the recluse
severities of the _haram_;) it cannot appear surprizing, that young
girls so immured, in such a climate, so indulged occasionally, and so
beset with bawds, should allow themselves to be led astray from what I
must, perhaps erroneously, call ‘the ways of chastity.’ I am aware, that
the term may offend many, who consider the female as being already in a
state of prostitution; but due allowance must be made for the usages of
the country. In India, a woman ‘_under the protection_’ of an European
gentleman, is accounted, not only among the natives, but even by his
countrymen, to be equally sacred, as though she were married to him; and
the woman herself, values her reputation, exactly in proportion as she
may have refrained from indulging in variety: some are said to have
passed twenty years, or more, without the possibility for scandal to
attach to their conduct. We might further take into consideration, that,
even according to the Mahomedan law, there are various degrees of
connubial attachment, from the strictest, and most formal, union, down
to what we should call a very loose kind of left-handed marriage. These
are, however, sanctioned by that law, if performed according to enjoined

Now, the greater part, we may say nine in ten, of those who domiciliate
with Europeans, being Mussulmans, and, in many cases, very scrupulous in
the observance of whatever forms are ordained respecting viands,
contact, ablution, &c., it may be reasonably concluded, that they rather
deem themselves to be united according to a tolerated extension of the
foregoing licences, than as retained prostitutes. Therefore, when we
consider received opinions, and local peculiarities, we may admit, that,
even in what we term concubinage, there may be some traits exempting
individuals from being confounded among that mass of prostitution, of
which we are apt to form our judgments by what we see of that depravity,
from which it appears to be, among Europeans, nearly inseparable!
Without at all entering upon the defence of whatever may be inhibited by
the Christian religion, or be inimical to that superiority so justly
yielded by society at large, as well as by the legislature, to married
women, it may be permitted me to state a few matters which will, in the
minds of the liberal, appear to be some excuse for what might else be
deemed libidinous, or licentious. The number of European women to be
found in Bengal, and its dependencies, cannot amount to two hundred and
fifty, while the European male inhabitants of respectability, including
military officers, may be taken at about four thousand. The case speaks
for itself; for, even if disposed to marry, the latter have not the
means. It is easy enough to say, that if marriages were more frequent in
India, more ladies would adventure thither; but the impediments that
stand in the way of ‘a consummation devoutly to be wished,’ will not be
found to yield so readily to our desires. It should be understood, that
the generality of young ladies, though they may certainly comply with
the will of their parents, are by no means partial to visiting India.
The out-fit is not a trifle: no lady can be landed there, under
respectable circumstances throughout, for less than five hundred pounds.
Then, again, she should have friends to receive her; for she cannot else
obtain even a lodging, or the means of procuring subsistence. It is not
like a trip, _per hoy_, to Margate, where nothing but a well-lined purse
is requisite; and where, if you do not meet with friends, you may easily
form acquaintances. Further, some allowance must be made for the
climate; which by no means suits every constitution, and invariably
oppresses all whose minds are ill at ease, or who have not the means of
withstanding that influence, so particularly hostile to persons newly
importing from Europe.

Let us, however, suppose all these things to be done; and that some
worthy dame welcomes the fair adventurer to her house, with the friendly
intention of affording an asylum, until some stray bachelor may bear
away the prize. We have known some instances of this, and, in
particular, of a lady making it, in a manner, her study to replenish her
hospitable mansion with objects of this description; thereby acquiring
the invidious, or sarcastic, designation of ‘Mother Coupler’. But such
characters are rare; and it generally happens, that those who have the
will, do not possess the means, of thus rendering the most essential of
services to young women, who, we may fairly say, are, in this case,
transported to India, there to take their chance! That several have been
thus sent, or, have thus adventured, round the Cape, cannot be denied;
in any other country they would have experienced the most poignant
distress, both of body and of mind; but, such has ever been the
liberality evinced towards this class of unfortunate persons, that, in
most instances, prompt, and effectual, relief, has been administered. It
would be easy to adduce cases, wherein the most bountiful subscriptions
have been made in behalf of ladies; who, by obeying the summons of
husbands, or of parents, have, on arriving in the river, found
themselves to be widows, or orphans! Surely, where these distressing
events are by no means uncommon, there will ever exist a certain
reluctance, even among such as may have relatives in India: a reluctance
which will rarely be decreased by the additional consideration, that,
when the vessel may arrive, the parent, &c., though alive, may be full a
thousand miles distant from the metropolis, and be unable to reach it
under two or three months! Here we see formidable objections against a
lady’s proceeding to India; but one, not less powerful, remains to be
stated, namely, the immense expence ever attendant upon wedlock in that
quarter. Such is the encrease of domestics, of cloathing, of
accommodation and, particularly, in keeping a carriage, without which no
comfort can be expected, that it is utterly beyond the means of full
four persons in five to receive an European lady into their houses. Even
on a penurious scale, the difference will amount to full three hundred
pounds yearly; but if, as is certainly desirable, it be conducted on a
more appropriate footing, double that sum must be allowed. Add to this,
the peremptory necessity that exists, for sending every child to Europe
at a very early age; the expence of which is never to be computed under
a hundred and fifty pounds. To complete the difficulties attendant on
the occasion, it is a thousand to one, but, that, at the end of a few
years, the mother is compelled, by those peculiar infirmities
inseparable from her situation in that climate, to accompany her infants
to Europe; there to seek the restoration of health, and to console
herself among her little offspring, until the father may,
notwithstanding those heavy demands created by the wants of his family,
be able to save sufficient money to repair to the objects of his
affection. This is no exaggeration: it is to be witnessed annually; and
may be seen attended with the most distressing effects to most
meritorious individuals, who unfortunately allow love to walk in at the
door, without observing that poverty is treading upon her train.

I trust this detail will convince, even the sceptic, that matrimony is
not so practicable in India as in Europe; and that, (unless, indeed,
among those platonic few whose passions are unnaturally obedient,) is
impossible for the generality of European inhabitants to act in exact
conformity with those excellent doctrines, which teach us to avoid
‘fornication, and all other deadly sins.’ There are certain situations,
and times, in which the law must be suffered to sleep; since its
enforcement would neither be easy nor wise: such is the instance now
before us. Should it be argued, that, rather than retain a concubine, it
were more proper to marry a native of India, I must then adduce the
great discouragement wisely held out by government against such a
practice; observing, that the Court of Directors long ago set their
faces against the transmission of native orphans, (_i.e._ those born of
native mothers,) and, that they allow no native of India to be taken as
a passenger on board any vessel proceeding to England, without a deposit
of 500 sicca rupees, or security to that amount, lest the party should
become a burthen to the Company. Further, no lady, native of India, even
though her father should have been of the highest rank in the King’s or
Company’s service, and though she be married to a person of that
description, is ever invited to those assemblies given by the governor
on public occasions. Hence, such women, whatever may be their merits,
come under the censure of public characters, and, of course, are in a
manner proscribed. This, however, does not extend to the European
soldiery, who are allowed to marry native women; many of whom conduct
themselves, when thus situated, in the most unexceptionable manner.
Whether married, or not, each soldier is generally provided with a
companion, who takes care of his linen, aids in cleaning his
accoutrements, dresses his hair, and sometimes proves no bad hand at a
beard! These doxies do, certainly, now and then, kick up a famous _row_
in the barracks; but, on the whole, may be considered highly
serviceable; especially during illness, at which time their attendance
is invaluable.

Very few European women are to be seen with the regiments in India; such
as adventure thither, soon fall victims to the climate, which nothing
but the most vigorous constitutions, backed by temperance and uncommon
prudence, can enable the sex to resist. Hence, the few that survive,
though they present rather a masculine appearance, find it expedient to
confine themselves much within the barracks; keeping out of the sun, and
avoiding the use of strong liquors. The children of such women usually
prove remarkably hardy; whereas, the issue of an European father by a
native woman, is usually of an effeminate, weakly constitution, and of a
disposition by no means entitled to commendation.

It is peculiarly unfortunate, that a very great portion of these
creoles, mestees, or what not, cannot be provided for in some manner
serviceable to the state. Their numbers are considerable, especially of
females, who are allowed to remain with the orphan institution, often to
a very mature age: some are, to be sure, disposed of in services, where
they become attendants, or ladies’ maids, in respectable families; but,
for the most part, no certain provision is made for them. Probably it is
owing to reflection, as much as to their arriving at puberty, that so
many of these unfortunate girls become insane. This does not occur among
the boys; who are either apprenticed to some good business, if of the
upper school, (in which only the children of officers are admitted,) or,
if of the lower school, (wherein the children of the non-commissioned
and privates are brought up,) are draughted, at a proper age, to the
several regiments, both native and European, there to serve as drummers
and fifers. While upon the subject, I shall offer to my readers the
outline of the Orphan Institution, now so intimately blended with the
military establishments throughout India, that the Company make it a
part of their regulations, for all persons admitted into their military
service, to become, _ipso facto_, subscribers to the orphan fund.

This charitable institution, which does singular honor to the Company’s
army, owes its origin to the assiduity of a few officers, who, in 1782,
framed a code, founded upon the result of voluntary subscription, for
making due provision for the children of such officers as might demise,
without leaving sufficient property to provide for their children,
whether legitimate or otherwise. Among the gentlemen who suggested this
undertaking, the present Colonel William Kirkpatrick was conspicuous: he
was at that time secretary to the late General Giles Stibbert, who then
commanded the Bengal army, and aided the institution by every public
means, as well as by his private influence and bounty.

The following were among the preliminary articles. ‘1st. That each
subaltern, and assistant surgeon, contribute monthly the sum of three
rupees; each captain, and surgeon, six rupees; and each major, nine

‘2dly. That, to prevent difficulty and expence in the collections, as
well as to secure their amount against all accidents, the officers do
consent, _irrevocably_, to the deduction of the specified contributions
from their monthly pay.’

‘4th. That a governor, deputy-governor, and twelve managers, be
appointed to conduct the business of the society.’

‘12th. That no orphan be admitted on the foundation, who shall be
possessed by inheritance, bequest, or otherwise, of a sum exceeding
5,000 sicca rupees.’ (£425.)

‘l3th. That the trustees, or guardians, of all orphans making
application for their admission on the foundation, be required to make
affidavit, before a justice of the peace, touching the true amount or
value of the monies, or estate, which they hold in trust for such
orphans; to the end, that the management, besides being satisfied that
they are proper objects for the institution, may be enabled to judge
what assistance they will need from the society, when, their education
being completed, the period shall arrive for settling them in the world:
these affidavits to be transmitted to the management, along with the
application for admission.’

‘15th. That all orphans now in the country, coming under the description
set forth, be admitted on the foundation, so soon as the management may
judge the state of the fund equal to their maintenance.’

‘19th. That the orphans be assembled together at the presidency, either
in one or more houses, as the management shall find necessary; and, that
proper servants be appointed to attend them.’

‘25th. That, on the female orphans attaining the age of twelve, they be
placed apprentices to creditable milliners, mantua-makers, stay-makers
or otherwise, as the management, or their agents, shall determine; and,
that, after serving their time, they shall obtain from the society the
necessary help towards enabling them to set up in business. That should
they, at the period of their engaging in business, be disposed to enter
into the matrimonial state, they shall be further entitled to receive
such marriage portions, or dowries, as the management, or their agents
in England, (whose approbation of the connexion shall be previously
yielded,) may think proper to grant.’ In the year 1789, it was resolved,
that ‘when the orphan daughters of officers, under the protection of the
society, are addressed by persons in independent circumstances, such
persons be required to make a settlement, as a condition; without which
the managers’ consent is not to be given, even if the offer should be,
in other respects, unexceptionable.’

Notwithstanding the institution was placed under the guidance and
control of men highly respectable, and perfectly qualified for the
charge, and that the whole of the officers, (with the exception of, I
believe, not more than six,) subscribed towards its support, the object
would have been defeated, had not the Company contributed liberally
towards its efficiency; and, after all, it would most certainly have
been subject, either to diminution, or, eventually, to bankruptcy, about
the year 1796, had not the army been newly modelled, and an immense
addition been made to the funds, by an unprecedented promotion and the
ascent of the superior ranks to subscribe in proportion to their pay:
otherwise, all above the rank of major would have been exempt. The
Company had, in former times, allowed for each child born to an European
soldier, the sum of five rupees monthly; but that indulgence was, at one
period, wholly done away: afterwards, when the institution was extended
to the non-commissioned and privates, three rupees were allowed monthly
for every child retained with the parents, according to the liberty
granted of retaining them until completing their third year; after
which, they were peremptorily taken to the lower school, where they were
at first allowed for by the Company at the rate of three rupees, but
subsequently at five rupees each, per mensem. It is not easy to describe
those affecting scenes which present themselves, when the children are
taken from their parents, in order to be sent to the foundation! It is
true, the latter know full well that every justice will be done to their
offspring, and they cannot but express their sense of the kind intention
of their benefactors; but, to part from a child, whatever may be its
complexion, is a most painful struggle between duty and nature! I have
repeatedly witnessed the distress of mothers, on such occasions, and
lamented that the case admitted of neither consolation nor relief!

The good policy of making some provision for the children of the
soldiery, is indisputably good; they could not, with propriety, be sent
to Europe, both because the expence would be disproportionate to the
means of their parents; and, that, in time, a very extensive importation
of persons of color would take place among us. The boys are now amply
provided for; but the situation of the girls is truly lamentable. It is
wonderful, that the Society have never established any factory, in which
their minds, as well as their hands, could be employed, while their
maintenance would be paid for by the produce of their industry. The only
argument I ever could hear urged against such a measure, was, that the
price of labor being so cheap throughout India, there could arise but
little profit from the exertions of the orphans. My opponents forgot,
that where labor is cheap, provisions must be cheap also; consequently,
that, under proper guidance, enough might be earned to defray the
expence of provision for the whole establishment. I am confident, that,
if the refuse, or _ferret_ cloths, manufactured for the Company, were to
be handed over, in such quantities as might be in demand, to the female
orphans, for the purpose of being worked up into wearing apparel, such
as shirts, under-shirts, drawers, pocket-handkerchiefs, neck ditto,
upper and under waistcoats, small-cloaths, &c. there would always be so
extensive a sale, especially among the lower classes of inhabitants, the
sea-faring people, and the fresh arrivals from Europe, that no stock
would remain on hand. It is a notorious fact, that if raw silk, after
being wound off from the _cocoons_, or pods, were to be given to the
orphans to finish, and to reel properly for the Europe market, there
would be an immense saving both of the article itself, and of the
expences in every part of the adventure; while the institution could not
fail to derive the most solid advantages. To prove this, look at the
number of mills established in various parts of England, for preparing
raw silk for the throwster, &c.: in all these, a portion of refuse is
found; on which, however, as well as on the perfect quantity, a very
heavy duty has been paid, whereby the commodity is considerably enhanced
in price, without being a benefit to the merchant; who is, indeed,
rather injured, by the necessity he is under of demanding more for his
fabrics, and thus, either deterring purchasers altogether, of enabling
the traders of other countries to under-sell him.

But, in Calcutta, a city carrying on so large a trade, surely there must
be an infinite variety of speculations open to the choice of the
management: the lighter classes of sails for the shipping and small
craft, the making of hammocks, beddings, &c., dresses for patients in
the hospitals, sheets, pillow-cases, book-binding to a certain extent,
and a number of other employments, might be peremptorily claimed, as
exclusive privileges for the orphans. Let it not be said, that such
would interfere with the natives following similar professions; on the
contrary, let us endeavor to have our whole establishment, of every
description, exempted from their aid, or interference. I would have
every cartridge-case, and the greater part of the army cloathing,
together with all, excepting the leather, and heavy canvas-work of
tents, performed at the orphan school; the Company making due
remuneration for the work thus performed. The fact lies in a nut-shell!
If, with such extensive concerns, requiring so much manual labor, the
Company do not give employ to five or six hundred girls, from three to
twenty years of age, the fault must assuredly lie rather among the
management than with Government; to which the making some provision for
the maintenance of that portion of the establishment dependant entirely
upon the Company for support, must be a desideratum: it can only require
to be pointed out, to insure both acquiescence and encouragement.

The Court of Directors very prudently objected to some of the original
articles, wherein the founders appear to have been rather too sanguine,
and to have waived several considerations of a political nature. Thus,
the Company declined to warrant admission into their service of such
boys as might appear eligible as cadets; the measure was incompatible
with the patronage of the Court; and, being indefinitely expressed,
would have subjected the Company to a pledge, that even the sons of the
native women might be considered eligible. It was, therefore, prudently
resolved, that ‘the children to be sent to Europe for education, should
be the legitimate offspring of European parents only.’

The salaries of the several persons employed in the charge of those on
the foundation, are munificent. The house at Kidderpore, about a mile
and a half from Fort-William, is paid for at the rate of £675. per
annum, and the monthly disbursements for school-masters and mistresses,
with their assistants, and the several servants employed about the
premises, in various capacities, amount to full £l2,000. yearly. The
children are boarded at the following rates: The sons of officers at
about £14. yearly, on average; the daughters of officers at about the
same rate; the master and mistress having, respectively, always a
certain number daily at their own tables. The children of
non-commissioned officers and soldiers are maintained at an average
expence, for diet, of about £5. each. The secretary is allowed £450. for
salary, house-rent, candles, and, other petty charges.

With respect to making provision for the sons of officers, there seems
but little doubt: the great encrease of mercantile establishments in
Calcutta, and in general throughout the country, has opened a wide field
for the employment of numbers conversant with the Hindui and Bengallee
languages, (which the orphans acquire habitually,) and with common
accounts. It is to be lamented, that so few, if any, are sent on board
the pilot-schooners, according to a clause in the original institution,
or as mates on board the country-traders. They certainly would be far
better qualified, for such situations, than Europeans, who are totally
ignorant of the vernacular tongue, and whose constitutions are by no
means so well adapted to the climate. With respect to placing creoles of
any description in authority, whether civil or military, there can be
but one opinion; since their admission, into either the one or the
other, could not fail to lessen that respect, and deference, which ought
most studiously to be exacted, on every occasion, from the natives of
every rank.

The expences attendant upon sending children from India to Europe, are
very considerable: few commanders of Indiamen will take a child for less
than 800 sicca rupees, equal to £100.; and, even then, some attendant
must be provided, whose passage will probably amount to as much more.
The best mode is, for several parents to hire a small cabin between
decks, and to send a woman in charge of their united families, to the
number, perhaps, of five or six little ones; all of whom may be thus
duly attended, at far less expence than if each were sent under a
separate charge. Few Europeans’ children are kept in India beyond their
third or fourth year; and it is generally an object that the small-pox,
or vaccination, the measles, and the hooping-cough, should have been
passed previous to embarkation; lest infection should take place on
board, in consequence of the seamen, &c., having been among persons
laboring under those complaints. It is, indeed, likewise a matter of
policy, considering the heavy expence, and the trouble attendant, to
have all those dangerous diseases out of the way, previous to shipping
the children for England; where they might else, on landing, be carried
off by them, thus rendering all their parents’ anxiety, and possibly
their ill-spared disbursements, of no avail.

Vaccination was expected to have made a very powerful impression on the
Hindus, who, it was supposed, would eagerly embrace a preventive arising
from that animal, held so sacred by their whole sect. It was,
nevertheless, found extremely difficult to induce the Bramins to adopt a
practice obviously so beneficial to mankind, although the latitude was
thereby given them of augmenting the attributes of their idol, and to
claim a preference in its behalf, even over the whole of the Christian
world. Those who were sanguine in their expectations, of vaccination
being instantly adopted among the Hindus at large, had entirely forgot,
that the people did not possess the smallest liberty, either of
conscience, or of conduct: they forgot that the priesthood had become
possessed of the most arbitrary power, over the minds of their peaceful
and timid communicants; and, that the practice of inoculation was
prescriptively confined to that priesthood: further, that,
notwithstanding the veneration in which the cow was held among them, a
serious objection existed, on account of the matter being taken from any
but a Hindu of the highest cast.

The vaccine inoculation was effected with great difficulty in India; an
immense number of experiments failed, chiefly owing to the _virus_
having been destroyed on the way from Constantinople, whence matter was
repeatedly forwarded by Lord Elgin to Dr. Short, at Bagdad. A whole year
was passed under the most mortifying disappointments; but in June, 1802,
a successful inoculation was made at Bombay, on a healthy child, about
three years of age; which furnished a supply for every port of India. By
shipping several children, who had never experienced the variolous
inoculation, a succession of subjects was happily secured, which enabled
Dr. Anderson to transmit the blessings afforded by this mitigated
disease, even to Port Jackson. The greatest apprehensions entertained,
arose from the danger of not being always provided with a succession of
infective matter; for it was soon discovered, that the _virus_ was
highly volatile, and often made its escape in conveying the _pus_ from
one house to another. This, added to the necessity, which soon became
apparent, for the formation of some depôt, and for the establishment of
certain principles necessary towards the desired success, caused the
Governor-General to nominate Mr. William Russell, of the Bengal Medical
List, whose abilities and zeal peculiarly qualified him, to the
important situation of Superintendant of the Vaccine Institution. A
series of ill health, which ultimately compelled that gentleman to
return to Europe, caused the records of the first months to be somewhat
inaccurate, notwithstanding every exertion on his part. His assiduity,
however, enabled him to register almost every child, born of European
parents, at that time in the settlement, among those who received this
benign and inoffensive substitute for the most malignant, loathsome, and
fatal disease that ever afflicted the human race.

In aid of what was doing at the Presidency, several of the surgeons
attached to the civil stations, and to divisions of the army serving at
great distances, and in various directions, were interested to
promulgate the happy issue of what had been attempted by Mr. Russell,
and by his successor, Mr. Shoolbred, Surgeon to the Native Hospital.
Nevertheless, notwithstanding such excellent precautions, the matter was
at times very nearly extinct; more than once the establishments at the
several country stations were completely destitute, and were obliged to
obtain a fresh supply from the Presidency: however, during the first
eighteen months, no less than 11,166 persons were vaccinated; a matter
of great importance, when it is considered, that, in India, at least one
in sixty dies of those inoculated with the small-pox. About the year
1787, an order had been issued, that all the European soldiers in the
Company’s service, who bore no marks of having had the disease, should
be inoculated, and be lodged in the Artillery Hospital at Dum Dum. A few
years after, (the former operation having proved highly successful,) the
order was repeated; the result was, however, very unfavorable; as full
one-sixth of the patients were carried off. It is to be hoped, that, in
due time, when the natives at large may be thoroughly convinced of the
security afforded by vaccination, the small-pox will be but little
known. Its communication by insertion being now very strictly prohibited
in Calcutta, and its neighbourhood, will, no doubt, pave the way for the
progress of vaccination, and weaken the influence of the Bramins, who
are interested in variolous inoculation. It is singular, that, at the
very moment when this crafty tribe were endeavoring to depreciate, or
rather to explode, vaccination, there started up among them a claim to
the knowledge, and practice, of the latter at Bareilly, where
inoculation was almost unknown. An attempt was made to prove, on the
authority of a very ancient Sanscrit book, entitled, ‘_Sud’has
Angraha_,’ and written by a physician, whose name was _Mahadeva_, that
vaccination was practised in India many centuries back. On examining
other copies of the work, it was found, that the passage quoted from
that produced at Bareilly was wanting; this, added to other
circumstances, rendered the tale rather doubtful, and led to such an
investigation as proved fatal to the imposition.

It is a great pity the deception was ever discovered; since nothing
could have aided the views of government better, than the testimony of
such an ancient authority, of the practice having been formerly common
in Hindostan! We were certainly wrong in publishing that refutation,
which deprived us of the best weapon we could have employed for the
extension of our pursuit. In lieu of decrying the work in question, as
‘an impudent forgery, interpolated into a Sanscrit-book, by one of those
frauds so commonly, and so dexterously, committed by the Hindu literati,
for the purpose of supporting the claims of the Bramins to the prior
possession of all kinds of science,’ we ought to have assented fully to
that imposition; allowing the priests to enjoy the supposed antiquity of
their knowledge, and contenting ourselves with the contemplation of
those immense benefits produced by the concurrence in, or adoption of,
our practice, by those infatuated foster-fathers. But the struggle for
reputation caused us to quit our hold, in the most impolitic, and
thoughtless manner!

It may not be unpleasing to my readers, to be informed as to the manner
in which the _Bramins_, or Hindu priests, who are the only persons of
that sect allowed to inoculate, perform the operation: the following
extract from Mr. Shoolbred’s treatise shews, that no alteration has
taken place since Mr. Holwell, from whom Mr. S. quotes, gave the public
an account of their practice, viz.

‘Inoculation is performed in Hindostan by a particular tribe of
_Bramins_, who are delegated annually for this service, from the
different colleges of _Bindoobund_, _Allahabas_, _Benares_, &c., over
all the distant provinces. Dividing themselves into small parties, of
three or four each, they plan their travelling circuits in such wise, as
to arrive at the places of their respective destinations some weeks
before the usual return of the disease. They arrive commonly in the
Bengal provinces early in February; although, in some years, they do not
begin to inoculate before March, deferring it until they consider the
state of the season, and acquire information of the state of the
distemper. The inhabitants of Bengal, knowing the usual time when the
inoculating Bramins annually return, observe strictly the regimen
enjoined, whether they determine to be inoculated or not: this
precaution consists only in abstaining for a month from fish, milk, and
_ghee_ (a kind of butter, made generally from buffalo’s milk). The
prohibition of fish relates only to the native Portugueze and
Mahomedans, who abound in every province of the empire. When the Bramins
begin to inoculate, they pass from house to house, and operate at the
door, refusing to inoculate any who have not, on a strict scrutiny, duly
observed the preparatory course enjoined them. It is no uncommon thing
for them to ask the parent how many pocks they choose the children
should have. They inoculate indifferently on any part, but, if left to
their choice, they prefer the outside of the arm, midway between the
wrist and the elbow, and the shoulders of females. Previous to the
operation, the Bramin takes a piece of cloth in his hand, (which, if the
family is opulent, becomes his perquisite,) and with it gives a dry
friction on the part intended for inoculation, for the space of eight or
ten minutes; then, with a small instrument, he wounds by many slight
touches, about the compass of a silver groat, just causing the smallest
appearance of blood. Then opening a double linen rag, which he always
keeps in a cloth round his waist, he thence takes a small pledget of
cotton, charged with the variolous matter, which he moistens with two or
three drops of the Ganges water, and applies to the wound; fixing it on
with a slight bandage, and ordering it to remain on for six hours
without being moved: the bandage is after that time taken off, but the
pledget remains until it falls off of itself. The cotton, which he
preserves in a double calico rag, is saturated with matter from the
inoculated pustules of the preceding year; for they never inoculate with
fresh matter, nor with matter from the disease caught in the natural
way, however distinct and mild the species. Early in the morning
succeeding the operation, four pots, containing about two gallons each,
of cold water, are ordered to be thrown over the patient from the head
downwards, and to be repeated every morning and evening, until the fever
comes on, which usually is about the close of the sixth day from the
inoculation, then to desist until the appearance of the eruption, (about
three days,) and afterwards to pursue the cold bathing, as before,
through the course of the disease, and until the scabs of the pustules
drop off. They are ordered to open all the pustules with a sharp-pointed
thorn, so soon as they begin to change their color, and whilst the
matter continues in a fluid state. Confinement to the house is
absolutely forbidden; and the inoculated are to be exposed to every air
that blows; the utmost indulgence they are allowed, when the fever comes
on, is, to be laid on a mat at the door. Their regimen is to consist of
all the refrigerating things the climate and the season produce; as
plantains, sugar-canes, water-melons, rice, gruel made of white poppy
seeds, and cold water, or thin rice gruel, for their ordinary drink.
These instructions being given, and an injunction laid on the patients
to make a thanksgiving, (_poojah_,) or offering to the goddess, on their
recovery, the operator takes his fee, which, from a poor person, is a
_punn_ of _cowries_, (in number eighty, and in value about a
half-penny,) and goes on to another door, down one side of the street,
and up the other; and is thus employed from morning till night,
inoculating sometimes eight or ten in a house.’

Mr. Shoolbred observes, on the authority of Mr. Glass, the surgeon at
Boglepore, that, in that district, inoculation is performed by the
lowest casts. This is certainly true among the _Pahariahs_, or Hill
people, inhabiting that mountainous country lying between Boglepore and
Nagpore. There, inoculation is performed in a very rough manner, merely
by means of a blunt instrument, which, with some labor to the operator,
and abundance of pain to the patient, is made to draw blood: the matter
is then rubbed in with the finger!

These same _Pahariahs_ perform other surgical operations in the rudest
way, but with most extraordinary success; thus, they cut capons with a
blunt clasp knife, made of iron; which, having a ring passed through the
butt of the haft, or sheath, is always suspended by a cord passing round
the waist. With this instrument, they make the necessary incision, so as
to introduce a finger; when, having extracted the _testes_, the wound is
rubbed with a little _ghee_ and turmeric, and almost invariably heals in
a very few days. It may be considered curious, that among the
_D’hangahs_, (as the people who appear to be the aborigines of Tamar,
Chittrah, Puchate, are designated,) very few instances, in proportion to
the bulk of their population, are to be found, of persons marked with
the small pox; I should be disposed to attribute this entirely to the
simplicity of their manner of living; in which plain rice, with a few
vegetables, stewed, much the same as for a _curry_, but without its
catalogue of spices, compose the ordinary bill of fare. It cannot be
owing to any thing favorable in the climate, which is peculiarly

The hospital for the reception of natives requiring surgical assistance,
now supported in Calcutta by voluntary contribution, was founded about
the year 1793; before which time, those unfortunate persons who met with
accidents had no asylum, wherein they could find either solace or
remedy. The establishment is, as yet, rather limitted; but, it is to be
hoped, will, in the course of a few years, rise superior to the
disadvantages under which it labors, in consequence of the great expence
incurred in lodging the patients, many of whom labor under complaints
purely clinical; contrary to the first intention, and indeed, to the
first proposal for such a charity, which was started about 1791, in a
letter published in ‘the World,’ (a Calcutta weekly paper,) addressed to
the Reverend ——— Owen, one of the chaplains at the Presidency.

In that letter was suggested the expediency of causing all those
deformed persons who infest the streets of Calcutta, in quest of
eleemosynary aid, to be sent to some hospital, which should likewise
accommodate such natives as might be injured by accidents within the
city. The proposal was founded on the peremptory necessity for
conducting all upon the cheapest plan; and contained a calculation of
the expences incident to the construction of thatched ranges of huts,
similar to barracks, to be erected on a piece of ground to be granted by
government for that purpose. The whole expence, it appeared, would not
have amounted to more than £1,500., or £2,000. yearly, yet full
accommodation, and subsistence, would have been afforded for three
hundred patients.

The idea of permanence, which is usually supposed to carry with it
cheapness, was, I understand, the plea for deviating from the proposed
economical estimate: the consequence has been, that the number of
patients is extremely limitted. That original expence will, in most
countries, be found far cheaper than a flimsy beginning attended with
constant demands for repair, cannot be doubted; but, where there is no
capital, at least a very small one, it is absurd to act upon the former
scale; since it must, of necessity, counteract the whole intention.
Further, we should consider local circumstances: thus, in Calcutta, the
same money that will cover in accommodations for a thousand persons,
under a substantial thatch, laid over mud, or mat walls, adequate to the
ordinary purposes of the inhabitants at large, and similar to at least
ninety-nine in the hundred, of those habitations which shelter the bulk
of the population; would not suffice to provide fifty, of the same
description, with apartments formed of masonry, timber, &c., according
to the scale on which Europeans build houses for their own residence,
within that city. It is likewise a well-known fact, that, what is called
a _puckah-house_, that is, one built of bricks, lime, and timber, will,
at the end of ten years, cost as much in repairs, as the thatched
edifices built for an equal number of inhabitants. This being the case,
it will forcibly strike the reader, that, in departing from the original
suggestion, the managers likewise departed from the best principle.

It has been vain-gloriously asserted, within my hearing, by many
natives, that, although the institution in question was founded by
Europeans, yet, that it has been principally upheld by the liberality of
opulent natives. This may, perhaps, be in some measure correct; allowing
it, however, to be so to the fullest extent, I cannot see that the
natives have done more than an ordinary duty, in affording assistance to
their own countrymen, and that too, after being urged, or guided, to the
measure; while, on the other hand, the European inhabitants may
certainly claim the palm, both as original founders, and subsequent
benefactors, in a case, where their own countrymen were not to be
benefitted. The present state of the funds is not the most flourishing;
and its utility is too great to allow its falling from deficiency of
means. Would it not be advisable, to collect a very small assessment at
every house inhabited by a native within the Maharrattah Ditch, (which
limits the jurisdiction of the police,) either according to extent, or
to its rent? This assessment should be paid into the hands of the
magistrates, to be by them disbursed, according to proper regulations,
through the medium of native agents, to be elected annually by all who
should contribute either a certain gross sum, or by regular yearly
donation, towards the support of the institution. This would produce a
stabile, and adequate, revenue; while it would likewise induce many
natives, some from pride, others from hope, and a few from fear, to add
their mites to such as should result from that spontaneous flow of
genuine humanity, with which the Hindu code is replete; and, of which
the Hindus at large make so great a boast. Possibly the day is not far
off, when, in lieu of building immense houses, richly endowed, for the
maintenance of an idle, haughty, ignorant, and insolent, gang of
priests, some rich natives, reflecting on the want of their more
industrious, and more meritorious, poor, may bequeath liberally towards
the formation of such establishments, as may rescue them from that
variety of sufferings, to which they become subjected, by the
accumulation of years, the visitations of disease, and the pressure of

The style of building in use among the natives, is very different from
what we should expect to find adopted in so hot a climate; experience
is, however, in its favor, and sanctions that which, no doubt, resulted
from observation, more than from experiment. The walls of such edifices
as are intended to be permanent, are usually constructed of mud; which,
being laid in strata, of perhaps 18 or 20 inches in depth, each being
suffered to dry before another stratum is added above, becomes extremely
firm, and far more durable, though not quite so neat, as unburnt bricks
laid in mud cement. The thickness of the wall is proportioned to the
intended height; probably about 26, to 30, inches at the base, may be
considered a fair average; tapering above to about three fourths of the
breadth below. I have seen some _bungalows_ run up with mud walls,
which, after being chipped down to an uniform thickness, and properly
plastered with fine sand, mixed with chaff, were neat enough: but all
mud walls invariably crack considerably while drying; consequently, are
apt to harbor centipedes, scorpions, and even snakes, within their
fissures. This is a most serious defect; completely counter-balancing
the advantages obtained, by that facility and cheapness with which they
can be run up to a great height, provided due attention be paid to the

Few of the peasantry, even though possessing some property, carry their
walls higher than 8 or 10 feet; indeed, the generality of huts may be
set down at 7 feet exteriorly, though they will rise near a cubit more
inwardly, when filled up to the under part of the thatch. It is rare to
see any window in the front; and, in such as have enclosed areas, (by us
called ‘_compounds,_’ but by the natives designated ‘_ungnahs_’,) the
_cricky_, or door, which is always very low, obliging even short persons
to stoop considerably, is commonly in some part of the environing wall,
and partly concealed by an angle, so as to preclude the possibility of
seeing any thing of the interior when the door is thrown open. Every
door has a frame, composed of strong wood, of which the side pieces, or
uprights, are tenoned into mortices, made in the threshold and the upper
limb. The superincumbent part of the edifice is supported by a strong
plank, or by several pieces of timber, laid parallel, and secured by
thorough-pins, for the whole breadth of the wall. No arch is turned to
keep off the dead pressure of the enormous weight, that, in many
instances, is thus borne up entirely by the door-plate. On the top of
the wall, a stout piece of timber is laid, whenever the rafters are
fastened, each by one or more nails, but projecting at least a foot
beyond the exterior, for the purpose of sustaining the thatch, which is
made to hang over, with the intention to throw off the rain, that,
falling in torrents during many months, would else wash away the mud,
and endanqer the building.

The thatches are usually made of the _kuss_, or common wild grass, whose
roots furnish that fibrous substance called _kuss-kuss_, already spoken
of while describing the formation of _tatties_. Immense plains are
covered with this kind of grass, glowing commonly about two or three
feet high: though, in some places, it may be seen full five feet;
serving as an asylum for every species of game; causing many gentlemen,
on first entering the country, to admire, what they at first take to be
‘the prodigious fine crops of hay.’ It is commonly burnt down every year
during the hot season, when perfectly dry: the ashes thus tendered to
the soil, being washed in by the succeeding rains, occasion the grass to
shoot forth, from the apparent ruin, with incredible freshness and
vigor! At such times, nothing can be more acceptable to the herds,
which, during the preceding months, are often obliged to be sent to
great distances, where a little herbage may be found; or they are,
perhaps, subsisted upon chaff made from straw, millet-stalks, and the
refuse of the thrashing floor. For several months, the grass in question
is relished by every description of cattle; but, after the sun has
crossed the Line, on his return to the opposite tropic, it becomes harsh
and dry, proving so injurious to their mouths as to cause their
rejecting it, except when severely oppressed by hunger.

From the end of February, probably to the setting in of the rains in
June, great numbers of persons are employed in cutting the _kuss_, or
_khur_, as it is indiscriminately called, with a kind of sickle, and
tying it up into _haunties_, (or handfuls,) usually about six inches
thick. These are conveyed on _hackeries_ to the several markets, and
especially to the military cantonments, where they sell at various
prices, according to the distance they may have been conveyed, the
scarcity or abundance of the article, the time of the year, and the
pressure of the demand. From 1000 to 1200 bundles for a rupee, may be
taken as a fair medium; though, during the rains, when thatches must
often be made, or replaced, cost what they may, I have often known them
sold at a rupee for every hundred: on the contrary, they are often so
cheap as 3000, or even 4000, for that sum. The manner of constructing a
thatch according to the best principle, both for neatness and
durability, is as follows. The whole side of the building, intended to
be covered in, is measured, and that measurement is exactly represented
on some level spot, by means of four cords, fastened to as many stakes;
which thus exhibit the form and extent of the thatch to be constructed.
Each side of a quadrangular, or other building, must be thus laid down.
All hands set to work in placing either whole bamboos of the large kind,
or bundles of three and four of the small kind, parallel, and about a
foot asunder; all directed by the base line, towards which they stand at
right angles; so that, when ready, they would be in the same line with
the fall of the ‘_chupper_,’ (or thatch). These being duly prepared, are
crossed at about five, or six inches asunder, by battens of split
bamboo, which are fastened down, at every intersection, with strong
twine made of a finer kind of grass, called the _moonje_; which is very
strong, especially when wetted. Each frame being thus formed, is raised
into its place by the joint efforts of perhaps fifty or sixty men; some
laying hold of the frame, others pushing upwards with forked poles of
various lengths, thereby to facilitate the ascent, and to prevent that
friction which must attend upon any continued contact between the frame,
and the several ready-laid rafters on which it is to lie, and to which
it is to be firmly lashed.

The several frames being duly fitted at the corners, are properly
secured in their places, and to each other; after which, a slender kind
of scaffolding is made under the eaves of the respective frames, to
enable the _grammies_, or thatchers, to commence their operations in
laying on the coating of grass. The eaves are first brought to the
thickness of at least a foot, by placing very large bundles, previously
well compacted, and squared at their ends, in a line between the frame,
and a succession of very strong bamboo laths: each bundle is pressed as
close as possible to its neighbour, and thus the whole of the lower tier
is completed.

The rest of the thatch is laid on in small portions, the several bundles
being spread open, and having their butts, or lower ends, compressed
between two bamboo laths, which are tied in several places, so as to
secure their contents perfectly. Each parcel is then handed up, and laid
with the butt downwards, at about two or three inches above its lower
neighbour; causing the whole thatch to appear in over-laps from bottom
to top, like so many ridges, of about an inch high, and running parallel
for the whole breadth of the work.

The several corners are now covered with immense trusses of refuse
grass, bound very firmly together, reaching the whole extent of the
angle, or _gore_, and full two feet in diameter. These trusses being
bound down very firmly to their adjacent sides, are ultimately covered
with layers of _seerky_, placed so as to over-lap about a foot above
each other, and, in their turn, duly tied to the trusses: a similar
truss is laid along the ridge pole. This _seerky_ is composed of the
stems of the _surput_, or tassel grass, which grows to the height of ten
feet, or more: it is found to be a larger species of the celebrated
Guinea grass, formerly introduced as a supposed novelty into the East,
but which proved to be nothing more than the common _bainseah_, or
buffalo grass, that grows wild, in the greatest luxuriance, all over
Bengal. The stems of the _surput_, when arrived at their full size, are
as thick as a swan’s quill, and bear a remarkable gloss: in the dry
season they are cut, and, after being stripped of the parched remains of
their leaves, are laid parallel on a board, their ends being previously
brought even to a line; a long wire needle is then passed through the
several stems, as they lie contiguous, leading after it a piece of
packthread, which is afterwards knotted at both ends, to prevent its
withdrawing either way. Four or five of these stitches are made in the
same parcel of _seerky_; after which, it is rolled up breadthwise, for
sale. Each parcel may be from two feet to a yard in breadth, and the
stems composing it may be about four feet in length. The ordinary mode
of selling this commodity is by the hundred pieces, for which from three
to ten rupees are given, according to circumstances.

It is perhaps singular that I should have seen _seerky_ in use among a
groupe of gypsies in Essex: in India, those itinerants, whose habits and
characters correspond with this intolerable species of banditti,
invariably shelter themselves under _seerky_; which, being remarkably
light, and, when doubled or trebled, completely water-proof, enables
them to construct a very comfortable cabin in a few minutes. It often
happens, during the rainy season, that part of a thatch sinks, or rots,
and admits the passage of water to the interior; in such case, a piece
of _seerky_, properly placed, causes the water to flow over the defect:
when that article cannot be had, it is found expedient to throw a few
pecks of chaff, or straw cut very small, upon those parts requiring
relief; the chaff is drawn in by the percolating fluid, but, being
obstructed in its passage, swells in consequence of the continued
moisture, and thus, in a short time, usually stops the leaks. The mode
of putting on a thatch above described, is confined to certain parts of
the country; in other places, they put the grass on in a reversed
position, as we do our wheat stubble thatches, the part which grew
uppermost being placed lowest. But throughout the country, all thatching
is done horizontally, and not vertically, as among us: the Indian
thatcher begins at the bottom; whereas we commence at the side of a
thatch: we thatch with skewers and rods of hazel, &c.; they with bamboo
laths and twine made of grass; the latter being passed to and fro by
means of long needles, made extemporaneously of bamboo, &c.

The doors used by the natives are generally made of such wood as the
neighbouring country may afford, and consist of a few vertical planks,
kept together by two, or more, horizontal battens; the fastenings are,
for the most part, made by staples and hooks, into which strong wooden
bars slip, and unslip, with ease. The windows are always very small,
perhaps not more than two feet square, and are closed by means of wooden
shutters, having exteriorly a _jaump_, made of bamboo battens and mats;
which, being firmly put together, and suspended at their upper borders
by hooks, or rings, fastened into the wall, or into the wooden plate
covering the aperture, may be raised, as though on hinges, to any
desired elevation, and preserved therein, by bamboo stilts, made either
with forked ends, or having small blocks of wood nailed to them, to
prevent their points from passing through the mats. The same kind of
defence is used for doors in general, but of a much larger size than for
windows; when raised, they certainly are extremely useful in keeping off
the sun and rain; when lowered, so as to lie parallel with, and close
to, the wall, they are an admirable defence against wind and dust;
though both will find their way through the several small apertures in
sufficient quantity to prove highly unpleasant at certain times. In
houses constructed by the natives, the windows are placed very high up;
sometimes scarcely allowing a person to look out. This is done for the
sake both of privacy, and of coolness; as the rarefied air is better
enabled to make its escape, than when the apertures are low. Thus, most
of the houses built by the French at Chandernagore, &c. are far cooler
than those formerly built in Calcutta; owing to the windows of the
former being carried nearly to the tops of the rooms, while the latter
have often seven or eight feet of wall above them. It has several times
happened, that persons sent up to work at the timbers supporting the
flat roof above, have fallen from their ladders, or scaffolds, in
consequence of the air in the upper part of the room being unfit for
respiration. As to chimnies, they are utterly unknown among the natives:
though, in some cottages, an aperture is left for the escape of smoke,
but rather by neglect than by design. The smoke must escape when and how
it can; but, it does not incommode a native a thousandth part so much as
it does an European, who must suffer some inconvenience at the best of
times, when a fire is lighted within the sitting room; but, when green
wood is put on, the latter cannot stand its effects. The former will,
even at such moments, often be seen smoking his _goorgoory_, as though
the atmosphere were not sufficiently burthened with fuliginous particles
to amuse his lungs. Victuals are rarely cooked within the house, when
the weather permits of that operation being performed in the open air;
indeed, few persons, who are not extremely poor, are without some little
shed, under which it may be carried on at all times.

The exterior surface of the wall is rarely plastered, even with mud; it
being an object to preserve it rough, in order that the large cakes of
cow-dung, intended for fuel, may be stuck up against them, and there be
thoroughly dried by the sun; which is generally effected, in exposed
situations, and in fair weather, in one, or two, days, at the utmost.
These cakes, called _gutties_, burn admirably well; making a fire not
unlike that resulting from good peat. The interior is usually smoothed
all the way up, or at least for about three feet from the floor, and
smeared with a solution of cow-dung, as is the floor itself, which is
rarely made of any thing but clay, well rammed down, or perhaps of
tarras; but, the latter is too costly for most individuals, and, though
indicating riches, does not give so much satisfaction to the proprietor.
In some houses, a few joists of rough wood are thrown across from the
top of one, to that of the other, wall; perhaps at a yard or more
asunder: some few instances may be adduced, perhaps, in each village of
note, of a slight kind of flooring, either of rough planks, not fitted
together, or of bamboo laths, being made above the joists, for the
accommodation of luggage, or for the dormitory of some of the family;
but, with such exceptions, the only use made of the upper part is for
the lodgement of brush-wood, bamboo poles, ladders, farming utensils,
mats, nets, &c. &c., according to the occupant’s profession.

The private apartments are commonly separate from what we should call
the ‘keeping room,’ and have a separate entrance, if under the same
roof; it is, however, very common to allot some detached building,
having a _compound_ divided off, and perfectly sequestered from the
other accommodations, set apart for the _zenanah_, or female part of the
family. The horses, oxen, cows, &c., are commonly picketted out in the
open air when the weather permits; having a large trough of mud to
receive their chaff. During great heats, or heavy rains, they are
sheltered under sheds made for that purpose, and for the preservation of
the _palanquin_, _dooly_, _r’hut_, or other vehicle the occupant may
possess. Sometimes the kine are kept under the same roof with the
major-domo, and all his family. Candles are not used in the houses of
the natives, especially of the Hindus, who would consider the presence
of a lump of tallow within their areas, as sufficient to pollute
whatever they might contain. All use oil, which, being poured into a
small earthen vessel, nearly in the shape of a heart, or of a _peepul_
leaf, called a _churraug_, is placed in one of the numerous niches made
in every wall, at perhaps four feet above the floor: the wicks are
chiefly made of slips of rag, about a foot long, rolled up to the
thickness of a goose-quill. For more immediate use, the _churraug_ is
often placed on a stem of wood, having a broad base, or a cross, to
support it, and a small block at its summit, hollowed out to receive the
bottom of the lamp. Some use brass apparatus, and, in a very few
instances, the stems, or pillars, are made with a slide, so as to vary
the height of the _churraug_; which, in such case, assumes the more
dignified appellation of _pilsoze_: the ordinary height of the lamp from
the floor, including the plinth, pillar, and capital, may be from twenty
to twenty-six inches. Snuffers are unknown; their place is sometimes
supplied by the fingers, but more generally by a pair of scissors, or a
pair of _duspannahs_, (_i.e._ tongs,) such as are used by
_hookah-burdars_. The oil in use for lamps is that already spoken of,
extracted from the _sesamum_, of which the refuse cake is given to
favorite oxen, &c.

Although _charpoys_, or small beds, are in use among all classes, the
generality prefer sleeping on mats, which are infinitely cooler than any
beddings. The whole of the apparatus for a dormitory may be comprised in
a very short catalogue; namely, a _durmah-mat_, made from coarse reeds
split open and laid flat, with the glossy surface uppermost; perhaps a
_satrinje_, or small cotton carpet, a _chudder_, or sheet, to wrap round
the body, and a _tuckeah_, or pillow, stuffed very hard. In cold
weather, a _goodry_, or quilt; perhaps, indeed, two, may be added.
Curtains are out of the question, as are all those paraphernalia which
luxury has introduced among us. A _peek-daun_, or spitting pot, made
generally of _phool_, which is a very tolerable kind of tutenagne, is
always placed at the bed side, and is ever resorted to when chewing the
_pawn_, or beetle. The vine bearing the aromatic leaf so called, is most
carefully cultivated in many parts of the country; the whole being
supported on trellisses made of reeds, and small bamboos, to the height
of about five feet. The situation must be very dry; hence, the banks of
old tanks, and other such elevated sites, are chosen for cultivating the
_pawn_, of which it is said a _bigah_ will produce, in the vicinity of
any populous city, full two hundred rupees yearly; provided the vines be
of the _sunҫhah_, or true sort; which is easily known by the yellowness
of the borders, and ramifications, of the leaf. This species is far more
pleasant to the palate than the common green kind; which is, besides,
tough, and possesses a certain acrid quality.

_Beetle_, or _pawn_, is prepared by carefully picking out any defects in
the leaves, and by removing the stalks up to their very centres; four or
five leaves are then laid one above the other, when the upper one is
smeared with shell-lime, a little moistened with water. The seeds of the
_elatchee_, or cardamom, are added, together with about the fourth part
of a _beetle-nut_, (that is, of the _areca_,) and, the whole being
lapped up by folding the leaves over their contents, the little packet
is kept together in its due form, which is usually triangular, by means
of a slice of _beetle-nut_, cut into a thin wedge, so as to transfix it
completely. It is common to see a whole family partaking of _pawns_, the
chewing of which occasions the saliva to be tinctured as red as blood:
they certainly are fragrant, and excellent stomachics; but their too
frequent use produces costiveness, which, in that climate, ever induces
serious illness.

The saliva will not be tinctured, if the _chunam_, (_i.e._ the lime,) be
omitted; hence, it is evident that the alkali produces the color from
the juices contained in the _pawn_. The color thus obtained does not
stain linen. Some use the _k’hut_, which is the same as our _Terra
Japonica_, and is procured by bleeding various kinds of trees,
principally the mimosa, abounding in most of the _jungles_ (or
wildernesses): a small quantity, about the size of a pea, broken into
several pieces, is mixed with the other ingredients, before the leaves
are lapped over, and transfixed with the spike of beetle, or, perhaps,
with a clove. The _k’hut_ is not, in my opinion, any thing in favor of
the _pawn_, and certainly adds to that noxious quality above mentioned.
Some persons attribute the blackness of the teeth, in both males and
females, throughout India, to the use of _pawn_; under the opinion, that
the discoloration is effected by the lime blended therein. Such is,
however, wide of the fact: _pawn_ is found to be highly favorable to the
gums, when the lime is omitted; and so sensible are those who chew it of
the bad effects produced by the alkali upon the enamel of the teeth,
that, in order to preserve them from corrosion, they rub them frequently
with the preparation called _missy_; thereby coating them with that
black substance which does not readily give way, even to the most
powerful dentifrice. I strongly suspect, however, that, in thus
shielding the teeth from the alkali, some injury is done to the enamel
by the supposed preservative; though by no means to that extent the
former would speedily effect, but for the use of _missy_. The natives
only chew the _pawn_, rejecting the masticated ingredients when their
flavor has been extracted; some reject even the saliva tinctured by the
_pawn_, spitting it out into the _peek-daun_. A few, not content with
the compound already described, absolutely mix tobacco, previously
reduced to a coarse powder, by rubbing the dried leaves with the thumb
in the hollow of the other hand! One would think that ‘potent weed’ must
supersede all its companions, and cause them to be as little tasted, as
though they had not been crowded into the jumble of flavors.

I have already explained, that earthen pipes, such as those we call
‘Dutch pipes’, are not known in India; but that the _hookah_, _kaleaun_,
and _goorgoory_, are in general use, among the several classes
respectively. The lowest classes of Europeans, as also of the natives,
and, indeed, most of the officers of country-ships, frequently smoke
_cheroots_, exactly corresponding with the Spanish _segar_, though
usually made rather more bulky. However fragrant the smokers themselves
may consider _cheroots_, those who use _hookahs_, hold them to be not
only vulgar, but intolerable! Hence, we sometimes see a whole
congregation of the latter put to the route by some one unlucky visitor,
who, either from ignorance, of from disregard to the feelings of his
more delicate participators in ‘the cloudy regale’, mounts his
_cheroot_; thus abrogating all distinctions of musk, cinnamon,
rose-water, &c. in a trice.

The natives smoke _cheroots_ without any precaution whatever to guard
the lips and teeth from the highly acidulated fumes derived from the
burning tobacco, but when, as has sometimes been the case, _cheroots_
were brought into fashion, though but for a while, it was found
expedient to have small silver or earthen sockets made, to receive the
end of the _cheroot_; thereby avoiding contact with the tobacco.

The natives, whether male or female, never use any sort of dentifrice,
nor have they any idea of hair-brushes; which could not, indeed,
according to their tenets, be admitted within the mouth. The only
apparatus employed for cleaning the teeth, is a short piece of stick,
commonly the branch of some bush, pulled at the moment for the occasion:
this is either beat or chewed, for a short time, until the fibres, for
about half an inch at the end, separate, and form a kind of stiff brush,
which is applied at right angles to the teeth. This is not a very
delicate implement, but, when aided by a plentiful supply of water,
answers tolerably well; though it certainly can never prevent the
accumulation of tartar within the teeth. Necessity has made me sometimes
use the _dauntwun_, as it is called, but not without leaving
considerable soreness about my gums.

The ladies of Hindostan smoke their _goorgoories_ in very high stile; as
do those of inferior rank their _nereauls_, or cocoa-nuts, with no less
glee. It would, perhaps, be difficult to decide which of the sexes were
most addicted to this habit: they both begin at a very early age, and
are never so happy as when engaged in its practice. After a while, we
become reconciled to seeing females smoking; though I must confess,
that, however delicate the preparation of the tobacco may be, and
however elegant the apparatus, still a certain idea, not very
conformable to feminine propriety, creeps into our minds, when we see an
European lady thus employed. We revolt at a habit not authorized by what
we have been accustomed to in our early youth, and consider it an
intrusion upon masculine characteristics. Several ladies have gone yet
further, by adopting the entire costume of the natives; a circumstance
which, however gratifying it may have been to themselves, by no means
raised them in the estimation of those whom they imitated; while, at the
same time, it gave birth to opinions, and occasionally to _experiments_,
by no means favorable to their reputation. The same kind of ridicule
attaches equally to gentlemen, who at times allow their whiskers to
grow, and who wear turbans, &c., in imitation of the Mussulmans of
distinction. Their countrymen, though perhaps tacitly, censure such
imitations, when arising from caprice; and the Mussulmans regard these
renegadoes in costume much the same as we do such of the natives, as,
being smitten with our general character, and partaking of our pastimes,
lay aside their appropriate garments in favor of jackets, jockey-caps,
boots, and leather inexpressibles! Some, indeed, do more; they sit at
table, and devour, with no small degree of eagerness, the viands
prepared according to English fashion; washing them down with copious
libations of Claret and Madeira, to the utter degradation of their
persons, and reputation, in the eyes both of their new, and of their
old, companions.

But there is a certain happiness apparently attendant upon this species
of infatuation; what is lost in public opinion being invariably gained
in self-sufficiency; while every little ironical compliment is construed
into superlative eulogium. The present Nabob Vizier of Oude, _Saadut
Ali_, many years ago, when compelled to reside at the Presidency, under
serveillance of the Bengal government, in consequence of the jealousy
entertained by his brother, the late _Asoph ul Dowlah_, affected to
enter upon this kind of apostacy. I believe, every one saw through the
veil, though he hunted with fox-hounds in our style, and assimilated in
many other points; but the essentials were carefully preserved from
metamorphosis. Many characters, such as I have described, could be
quoted, but the most particularly appropriate to my subject is that of
_Mirza Abu Taleb Khan_, who embarked in the same ship with me, for the
purpose of proceeding from Bengal to England, where he was at first
received as a general and prince; merely owing to an empty title
conferred on him at the Nabob Vizier’s court, about as important as that
of a Windsor Knight. This hero did not, it is true, adopt our costume
altogether, though he became a kind of ‘half and half, like the sea-calf
at Sir Ashton’s;’ but he had the impudence to assert, that his paltry
lodgings in _Gresse-Street_, (above all places under the sun,) were
graced by the nocturnal visits of several Peeresses of the most exalted
character; many of whose names he most scandalously, and ungratefully,
disclosed! I say, ungratefully, because it was impossible for me to
believe that ladies of such character could have stooped to such
conduct; although, in consequence of suitable introductions, they had
received him at their houses in that hospitable manner ever adopted in
favor of respectable foreigners. The _Mirza_, very probably, may have
been imposed upon by some low women, who made him the Falstaff of their
drama; and, by assuming the titles of our nobility, flattered his vanity
to an extreme! Yet, supposing this to have been the fact, how are we to
find an apology for that open boast he made of the supposed intimacy!
But vanity was his motto; he studied singularity in many instances; he
studied also celebrity; and would willingly have impressed us with an
opinion, that, from _Hafiz_ down to the _Plenipo’_, his abilities were
triumphant. Let us compare him with the former, whose poetry charmed his

                             ODE BY HAFIZ.

               Sweet maid, if thou wouldst charm my sight,
             And bid these arms thy neck infold;
             That rosy cheek, that lily hand
             Would give thy poet more delight
             Than all Boҫara’s vaunted gold,
             Than all the gems of Samarcand.

               Boy, let yon[A] liquid ruby flow,
             And bid thy pensive heart be glad,
             Whate’er the frowning zealots say:
             Tell them their Eden cannot show
             A stream so clear as Rocnabad,
             A bow’r so sweet as Moselláy.

               Oh! when these fair, perfidious maids,
             Whose eyes our secret haunts infest,
             Their dear destructive charms display,
             Each glance my tender breast invades,
             And robs my wounded soul of rest,
             As Tartars seize their destin’d prey.

               In vain with love our bosoms glow;
             Can all our tears, can all our sighs
             New lustre to those charms impart?
             Can cheeks, where living roses blow,
             Where nature spreads her richest dies,
             Require the borrow’d gloss of art?

               Speak not of fate—ah! change the theme,
             And talk of odours, talk of wine,
             Talk of the flow’rs that round us bloom:
             ’Tis all a cloud, ’tis all a dream;
             To love and joy thy thoughts confine,
             Nor hope to pierce the sacred gloom.

               Beauty has such resistless pow’r,
             That ev’n the chaste Egyptian dame [B]
             Sigh’d for the blooming Hebrew boy:
             For her how fatal was the hour,
             When to the banks of Nilus came
             [C] A youth so lovely and so coy!

               But ah! sweet maid, my counsel hear,
             (Youth shall attend when those advise
             Whom long experience renders sage);
             While music charms the ravish’d ear,
             While sparkling cups delight our eyes
             Be gay; and scorn the frowns of age.

               What cruel answer I have heard!
             And yet, by heav’n, I love thee still:
             Can aught be cruel from thy lip?
             Yet say, how fell that bitter word
             From lips which streams of sweetness fill,
             Which nought but drops of honey sip?

               Go boldly forth, my simple lay,
             Whose accents flow with artless ease,
             Like orient pearls at random strung;
             Thy notes are sweet, the damsels say,
             But oh, far sweeter, if they please
             The nymph for whom these notes are sung!


Footnote A:

  A _melted ruby_ is a common periphrasis for wine in the Persian
  poetry. See Hafiz, ode 22.

Footnote B:

  Zoleikha, Potiphar’s wife.

Footnote C:



Now for my friend, the _Mirza_; who while in England, published a small
collection of poetry he had addressed, in the Persian language, (most
ably translated by George Swinton, Esq.) to a young lady, of whom we are
to suppose he was deeply enamoured. In this rhodomontade, which conforms
exactly with Indian hyperbole, there are certainly some figures which
cannot fail to strike an European; yet are they mere common-place
expressions, familiar to every native who has been introduced to that
labyrinth of poetical absurdity, so delectable among Asiatics.

Take the following extracts from the poems at large, as a specimen of
the author’s talents.

                       _Praise of her Ornaments_

  ‘Upon this ear hangs a cloud surcharg’d with lightning;
  Or is it Venus sits enthroned in her ear-ring?
  On that ear, behold Jupiter augments her beauty;
  In one morning who ever saw both constellations?
  Since the lobe of the ear is the polar-star of the world of elegance,
  Her ear-rings are the Greater and Lesser Bears which revolve around!’

Here we have fustian for metaphor, and a most un-astronomical
dissertation on Jupiters, Venuses, Polar-Stars of elegance, together
with big and little Bears revolving around them! How will Herschell
stare when he reads of this new system!

                   _Praise of her gait and stature_.

       ‘From the extreme fineness of her waist,
     The shadow of her ringlets is a burthen to her stature.
     Her stature is a cypress _when she walks_,
     But it bears, however, the fruit of seedless pomegranates.
     She moves more gracefully than the water of life.
     Like me, the pheasant and partridge are lost in astonishment.
     Although she should tread on the pismire at her feet,
     Its smallest hair would receive no injury.
     Yes, it is for this that she treads so lightly,
     Under every step lie a hundred souls!’

The following may be considered the very acmé of absurdity!

    ‘When they wash’d _pearls_ and the _moon_ pure
    With BIRDS’ MILK, they have modell’d the globes of her breast!’

And again,

                ‘Her chin is not an apple of the garden,
                It is a WELL full of the water of life!’

And, once more, again,

              ‘Her lip demands tribute from sugar-candy,
              The BLOOD OF WINE is its only nourishment!’

Why, really, if some other parts of the work did not assure us that the
object of adoration possessed every virtue, and every agreeable quality,
the world might be induced, by the foregoing lines, to consider her a
most incorrigible toper! Let not these samples serve for _all_ the poets
of Hindostan, though they may suffice to exhibit that fantastic illusion
which characterizes them in general: some authors, natives of India,
have afforded proofs of genius, such as leave us to lament that their
talents were not duly cultivated and patronized. The following little
canzonet, translated from the poems of Yuqueen, a celebrated Hindostanee
author, happens to lie open before me, seeming to offer itself for
quotation. I think my readers will admit, that, though it does not
indicate inspiration, yet that it breathes the spirit of pathetic

                             THE DAFFODIL.

               One day among the tombs I stray’d,
                 Where many slighted lovers lay:
               A daffodil I there survey’d,
                 Which seem’d in grief to pine away!
               Enquiring why it hung its head?
                 And why in grief it seem’d to pine?
               ‘I am the eyes of him,’ it said,
                 ‘Who lies beneath this lowly shrine!’

               Like me, sad emblems of despair,
                 Still seek they to behold again
               That cruel, that relentless fair,
                 Who wrought his death by her disdain!

               It does, alas! from this appear,
                 That Love admits of no release;
               Torments its vot’ries while they’re here,
                 Nor can the grave afford them peace!

Without upholding this little production as a prodigy, it may, perhaps,
be safely adduced as a contrast to those beauties I have selected from
the _Mirza’s_ little book of great wonders.

The frequency of fires, occasioned by the common practice of thatching
houses, has caused many regulations to be adopted, in regard to what
Europeans commonly call the ‘Black Town’ at Calcutta. About twenty years
ago, the principal streets were considerably widened, and the whole of
the new tenements were ordered to be tiled. This created some
dissatisfaction at the time, yet has not only been of great advantage to
the inhabitants at large, but is now confessed, by the natives, to have
been highly beneficial, both to their health, and to their convenience.
Formerly, it was common to see immense piles of grass all along the
banks of the river, brought thither for the purpose of supplying persons
who might have occasion to thatch; of late years, however, the quantity
has been considerably reduced; there being not a twentieth part of the
former demand. Many of these stacks doubtless contained full 20,000, or
25,000 cubic feet, and would have formed a diminutive representation of
the infernal regions, had they taken fire; to which accident they were
subject equally with any part of the town. Owing to the cheapness of
bamboos and mats, as well as to the immense value of land at Calcutta,
most of the natives build their huts chiefly of those materials; the
whole of the uprights, rafters, &c., being of bamboo, and the walls,
partitions, &c., being of mats, supported by bamboo laths. The roofs are
first covered with mats, or _seerky_, and then tiled, generally with
that kind called _nullies_, which are about eight inches in length,
representing the half of a truncated hollow cone, whose base may be
about four inches in diameter.

These _nullies_ are commonly laid upon roofs, at an angle of about 30°
of elevation from the horizon; but the _chuppers_, or grass-thatches,
usually are constructed at full 40°. At the military stations, where
grass is invariably in use for the covering in of the cabins of the
sepoys, &c. it is usual to order the surfaces of all thatches to be
smeared with mud; from about November, to the setting in of the rains.
Many very extensive lines owe their safety to this precaution; whereby
not only are sparks prevented from communicating with the grass, which
usually is as prompt as tinder in taking fire, but even when the thatch
is partially kindled, the flames are greatly impeded, and more easily

The walls of huts being very frequently made of grass, tied in between
bamboo laths; (like those fences we sometimes see put to folds in
yeaning time, to keep the lambs warm during the night;) require to be
well coated with mud: otherwise, they would be constantly subject to
accension, in consequence of the too common practice of making the
_choolah_, or fire-place, very near thereto; thus endangering both from
the flame, and from the embers. As to putting out a fire that has once
got firm hold of a plain thatch, it is a hopeless business: the only
chance of saving the street, is to pull down all the neighbouring huts.
This is not attended with that loss to which our European towns would be
subjected by such a preventive; since, generally speaking, a very
tolerable hut, fit for the accommodation of a moderate family, may be
built, complete, for about the value of a guinea, or even much less.

Although water is generally at hand, there being abundance of wells, or
tanks, or puddles, in the vicinity of every village, still it is deemed
necessary, by gentlemen whose _bungalows_, &c., are contiguous to
_bazars_, (or markets,) or to the lines of native troops, &c. where
thatches are numerous, to have large vessels fastened along the
ridge-poles of their stables, and other out-offices. These being
constantly kept full of water, prove an immense aid towards the
preservation of those buildings on which they are placed: since, in case
of any neighbouring conflagration, it is easy for one or more persons to
wet the thatch very thoroughly; or they may reserve the water until the
moment of exigency, to be thrown upon any part that may be in immediate
danger. If the thatch should have taken fire, so as to render it
imprudent for persons to ascend to the pots, they, being rather brittle,
may always be broken to pieces by throwing bricks, or clods, &c. at
them. Some gentlemen adopt the precaution, above described, of
plastering the thatches of their out-offices with mud; but, such a
procedure is highly impolitic, in respect to edifices intended to be
durable; as the white-ants never fail to visit such plastered thatches,
and to destroy the grass entirely: sometimes they even eat the timbers.
Tiles certainly offer greater security than thatches, but they are
insufferably hot; causing every thing placed under them to warp, crack,
and otherwise to perish: tiled stables are found to be very injurious to
the health of cattle. The best plan I ever saw, was to have a coating of
tiles, laid in mortar on a thatch; but, for such a mode of construction,
very substantial timbers were requisite. This not only insured from
fire, but from leaks also; and rendered the interior remarkably cool
during the hot season.

The long continuance of the periodical rains, which often fall in
torrents for whole days, and frequently keep drizzling for near a week,
with little or no intermission, renders it necessary to protect all
exterior walls by copings, either of tiles, or of thatch. The former
mode is effected by small tiles, laid in the usual manner, but cemented
with lime mortar; or by immense large ones, nearly semi-cylindrical,
whose curve may measure full a yard, and whose breadth may be from
fifteen to twenty inches; the thickness, perhaps, an inch and a half.
These last are merely slung over the top of the wall, which is formed so
as to retain them firmly, and are overlapped about two or three inches.
The thatches are generally made with a double pent, each face being
about a yard in depth: they are secured by being fastened together at
their junction above, and by means of stakes passing through the wall;
to these their eaves are tied with grass, or coarse hempen twine.

Nothing can be more uncomfortable than a leaky _bungalow_! The water
trickles down the walls, dissolving the coat of mud, or sand plaster,
and greatly disfiguring the interior. It often happens, that the outer
walls are so far damaged by heavy rains, accompanied by a driving wind,
as to be rendered unserviceable in the course of a night; the whole
being completely sapped through. After such weather, the damages are
frequently extensive; the walls surrounding gardens, &c. though
substantially built, and duly coped, are seen to give way for scores of
yards; falling with a tremendous crash. This is usually occasioned by
some ditch near their bases, which, being filled by the heavy rains,
that soak into the banks, in a few hours yield to the great weight on
their borders. Fortunately, such damages are speedily repaired at no
very great expence; a rod of wall about eight feet high, and averaging
two feet in thickness, being generally built for about ten shillings: in
some places for half that sum.

Most of the _bungalows_ built by Europeans are run up with sun-dried
bricks; usually of a large size, eight of them making a cubic foot; each
being a foot long, six inches broad, and three inches thick. With these,
in a proper state for building, work proceeds at a great rate, but much
care must be taken that the mortar, that is, the slime used for cement,
be of a proper consistence, and be well filled in. Bricks are generally
made in wooden moulds, which, being laid on some level spot, previously
swept, so as to remove stones, &c., are filled with mud; the surface is
then levelled, either with the hand, or with a strike, when the mould is
raised, by means of handles, and washed in a large pan of water, and
then placed on a fresh spot, contiguous to the brick already formed. An
expert laborer in this avocation, will, if duly supplied with mud, and
water, make from 2000 to 2500 bricks daily of the above dimensions: it
will usually require one laborer to mix the soil, one to supply water,
and two hand-barrow men, to keep one brick-maker in constant work: the
whole expence may be about sixteen or eighteen pence: the same quantity
of work done in England would cost full as many shillings.

Some of the _rauz_, or bricklayers, in India, are very clever, so far as
relates to mere practical operations; but they have not the smallest
idea of planning from paper, or on paper; or of computing the quantities
of materials, or the amount of labor. They work with a small trowel,
much the same as that in use with us, and chip their bricks, whether
sun-dried or burnt, with a small hammer, having either one, or both, its
face, of a wedge form, and about three or four inches long from the
insertion of the handle. They preserve the perpendiculars by means of a
bell-shaped weight, commonly of free-stone, or of lead, or iron, to
which a long cotton cord is attached, having on it a piece of wood
exactly as long as the diameter of the weight’s base. This being pierced
in the centre, and applied endwise to any part, preserving it, at the
same time, as nearly horizontal as possible, points out the exact spot
which is perpendicular to the corresponding edge of the weight.

Supposing a wall to be run up to any height, if the stick be applied to
the upper tier of bricks, and the weight swings so as just to come in
contact with the ground tier, the wall will be perpendicular. The method
is simple, and the apparatus portable; therefore I may safely recommend
their adoption to our workmen; especially when a large plumb-bevil is
not at hand. It is true, that many of the bricklayers, employed under
regular architects, may be seen to use our tools of every description;
but this takes place only under such guidance: in all other instances,
the native bricklayer resorts to the practices of his ancestors; though,
to say the truth, they are by no means so unwilling to change for
better, as the opinionated British mechanic; who, I am obliged to
confess, must yield the palm for sobriety, cheapness, ingenuity, and
docility, to the unlettered artisan of the East. Nevertheless, I am
sensible that one English workman will ‘knock off’ more work than two,
or perhaps three, Asiatics of the same profession, and finish that work
in higher style; but, if we take into consideration, that the latter
employs tools such as the former would pronounce to be useless, and,
that he learns all by rote, without the smallest idea of figures,
proportions, or computations, we must, however unwillingly, give a
verdict by no means partial to our countrymen.

Another point greatly in favor of the poor Hindu, is, that he exercises
not only the profession of bricklayer, but of plasterer, tarras-maker,
&c. In like manner, we find the two professions of _looaur_ (blacksmith)
and _burrye_ (carpenter) often exercised by the same individual. I once
built a phaeton at Cawnpore, solely with the aid of a _reputed_
blacksmith, who wrought every part of the iron work in a very superior
manner, and constructed the whole of the wood-work in an excellent
style. Nay, he made the head, and lined it with woollen very neatly;
and, after all, lent a hand towards the painting. His wages were only
eight rupees (twenty shillings) monthly, and he never had been concerned
in constructing any kind of vehicle, except the _hackery_ in common use;
which has already been described.

The natives are extremely negligent regarding the strength of their
floors; they seem to be fully satisfied when the places where they lie
down on their mats are tolerably dry; though it is by no means uncommon
to see the whole interior so extremely damp, that, if any seeds, such as
wheat, peas, rice, &c., happen to fall, and to be swept to the skirts of
the apartments, such are sure to vegetate; frequently exhibiting a very
promising blade, before they fall, rather in consequence of accident,
than of design on the part of the tenants. Whatever the flooring may
consist of, whether clay, or tarras, that of the eating apartment is,
almost invariably, smeared with a solution of cow-dung; which certainly
gives a freshness, and may probably tend to salubrity; nor is it so
devoid of neatness as an European would imagine; but the scent is by no
means agreeable. Some ornament both the interior, and the exterior, of
their houses, by dipping the palms of their hands, horizontally, into
solutions of ochre, chiefly red, and then imprinting the walls with
their hands thus colored. These prints are put on irregularly, by no
means proving the taste of the operators, who, nevertheless, consider
their huts to be, (in the language of church-wardens,) ‘beautified;’ the
great consideration is, however, to typify the infinite power of the
Creator, whose hands are supposed to be innumerable, and perpetually in
action. Even horses, especially if white or dun colored, are very
frequently marked in the same manner, by means of _mindy_, (or
_hinnah_;) which, being reduced to a pulp, is applied to the part in
such form as it may be intended to appear. This plaster, for I know not
what else to call it, is allowed to remain until perfectly dry; when it
commonly cracks and falls off, leaving a rich _barré_ color; though, if
not allowed, either by the animal’s restlessness, or from want of time,
to impart its coloring matter duly, the stain will shew much fainter;
perhaps not unlike a light mahogany color.

The natives rarely omit to tinge about ten inches, or a foot, of the
extremity of the tail of every light-colored horse with _mindy_:
sometimes, also, at about two inches asunder, one or two rings are
stained in the same manner. Nor is this herb restricted solely to the
ornamenting, or, rather, the disguising of horses, oxen &c.; the
Hindostanee ladies generally stain the whole of the interior of their
hands, including the fingers, as well as the soles of their feet, with
_mindy_; the tips of all the nails are sure to undergo the operation;
which often compels the party sustaining this gratifying penance, to sit
motionless for hours; in order that the dye may take a firm hold of the
skin. When properly managed, the stain will remain for at least a month;
resisting every endeavor to wash it out, and seeming only to yield to
the constant growth of the outer skin.

It has often occurred to me, that, possibly, an excellent dye for
woollens might be obtained from the _hinnah_, which, being inspissated,
or reduced to an extract, could be imported among our dyers with
peculiar advantage. The plant, which is not unlike myrtle, is indigenous
throughout Hindostan, where it is principally employed in making garden
hedges, much the same as yew, box, &c., are among us; but, owing to its
not proving a defence against cattle, and being of slow growth, the
exterior hedges, in lieu of being formed of _hinnah_, are usually made
of _baubool_, a species of _mimosa_, yielding some gum, and otherwise
extremely serviceable; both from the excellence of its wood, for all
circular or angular work, requiring great strength, durability, and
toughness; and for its bark, which is at least equal to that of the oak
for tanning. The natives consider the application of _mindy_ to be
attended with good effects; they say it is cooling, but I should rather
apprehend it were the reverse, it being certainly an astringent, and
contributing to check perspiration: hence, the hands of such as apply it
commonly have a harsh, dry feel. That it may be a corrective of that
scent sometimes attendant upon an habitual discharge from the feet, may
be true; but, it remains still to be questioned, whether the obstruction
of such a discharge can be reconciled to prudence: it is, however, a
complaint very rarely to be met with in India; doubtless owing to
frequent washing, and to that abundant and general perspiration which
shews itself very conspicuously.

                        END OF THE FIRST VOLUME


                           Transcriber’s Note

An extended quotation on the private lives of women, beginning on p.
347, is continued with each paragraph with an opening single quotation
mark, which convention ends ambiguously, without comment, on p. 408. The
succeeding paragraph begins a section on kite flying. This is the only
portion of the book to employ footnotes, save for those used to annotate
a poem beginning on p. 504.

Those footnotes are moved to follow the paragraph within which they are
references, and a sequenced numerically for uniqueness. Notes 3 and 7
are referenced twice each in the text. The three notes on the poem
beginning on p. 504 are lettered A, B, and C.

Keeping in mind the vintage of the text, spelling has generally been

In a discussion of language learning, on p. 178, the phrase “he added
five words each month” seems an error, but it is impossible to determine
what the author must have meant.

Hyphenation of compound words can be variable. Where it occurs on a line
break, the most commonly used form is assumed.

Errors deemed most likely to be the printer’s have been corrected, and
are noted here. The references are to the page and line in the original.
The following issues should be noted, along with the resolutions.

  117.1    large quantit[i]es of good fish                Added.

  168.3    resentment at the vill[ia/ai]n’s audacity      Transposed.

  168.15   founded on p[er/re]judice                      Transposed.

  178.19   [five words]                                   _sic._

  233.25   and that [t]he soup is well flavored           Added.

  253.11   while, on the other hand, [it ]is greatly      Added.

  304.12   that the Oore[e]ahs> are                       Added.

  353.29   whenever _Soonees_ and [and] _Sheeaus_         Removed.

  378.28   Contrast this simple lament[at]ion             Added.

  380.26   upon enquiring into the sym[p]toms             Added.

  441.8    roses were collected on different days.[’]     Removed.

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