Produced by Produced by Robert J. Hall
BY WILLIAM ELEROY CURTIS
_Author of “The Turk and His Lost Provinces,” “To-day in Syria and Palestine,” “Egypt, Burma and British Malaysia,” etc._
To LADY CURZON
An ideal american woman
This volume contains a series of letters written for _The Chicago Record-Herald_ during the winter of 1903-04, and are published in permanent form through the courtesy of Mr. Frank B. Noyes, Editor and publisher of that paper.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. The Eye of India
II. The City of Bombay
III. Servants, Hotels, and Cave Temples IV. The Empire of India
V. Two Hindu Weddings
VI. The Religions of India
VII. How India Is Governed
VIII. The Railways of India
IX. The City of Ahmedabad
X. Jeypore and its Maharaja
XI. About Snakes and Tigers
XII. The Rajputs and Their Country XIII. The Ancient Mogul Empire
XIV. The Architecture of the Moguls XV. The Most Beautiful of Buildings
XVI. The Quaint Old City of Delhi XVII. The Temples and Tombs at Delhi
XVIII. Thugs, Fakirs and Nautch Dancers XIX. Simla and the Punjab
XX. Famines and Their Antidotes
XXI. The Frontier Question
XXII. The Army in India
XXIII. Muttra, Lucknow and Cawnpore XXIV. Caste and the Women of India
XXV. Education in India
XXVI. The Himalyas and the Invasion of Thibet XXVII. Benares, the Sacred City
XXVIII. American Missions in India XXIX. Cotton, Tea and Opium
XXX. Calcutta, the Capital of India
Map of India
A Bombay Street
The Clock Tower and University Buildings, Bombay Victoria Railway Station, Bombay
Body ready for Funeral Pyre, Bombay Burning Ghat Mohammedans at Prayer
Huthi Singh’s Tomb, Ahmedabad
Street Corner, Jeypore
The Maharaja of Jeypore
Hall of the Winds, Jeypore
Elephant Belonging to the Maharaja of Jeypore Tomb of Etmah Dowlah, Agra
Portrait of Shah Jehan
Portrait of Akbar, the Great Mogul The Taj Mahal
Interior of Taj Mahal
Tomb of Sheik Salim, Fattehpur
A Corner in Delhi
Hall of Marble and Mosaics, Palace of Moguls, Delhi Tomb of Amir Khusran, Persian Poet, Delhi “Kim,” the Chela and the Old Lama
A Ekka, or Road Cart
A Team of “Critters”
Group of Famous Brahmin Pundits
Tomb of Akbar, the Great Mogul
Audience Chamber of the Mogul Palace, Agra A Hindu Ascetic
A Hindu Barber
Bodies ready for Burning, Benares
Great Banyan Tree, Botanical Garden, Calcutta The Princes of Pearls
THE EYE OF INDIA
A voyage to India nowadays is a continuous social event. The passengers compose a house party, being guests of the Steamship company for the time. The decks of the steamer are like broad verandas and are covered with comfortable chairs, in which the owners lounge about all day. Some of the more industrious women knit and embroider, and I saw one good mother with a basket full of mending, at which she was busily engaged at least three mornings. Others play cards upon folding tables or write letters with portfolios on their laps, and we had several artists who sketched the sky and sea, but the majority read novels and guide books, and gossiped. As birds of a feather flock together on the sea as well as on land, previous acquaintances and congenial new ones form little circles and cliques and entertain themselves and each other, and, after a day or two, move their chairs around so that they can be together. Americans and English do not mix as readily as you might expect, although there is nothing like coolness between them. It is only a natural restraint. They are accustomed to their ways, and we to ours, and it is natural for us to drift toward our own fellow countrymen.
In the afternoon nettings are hung around one of the broad decks and games of cricket are played. One day it is the army against the navy; another day the united service against a civilian team, and then the cricketers in the second-class salon are invited to come forward and try their skill against a team made up of first-classers. In the evening there is dancing, a piano being placed upon the deck for that purpose, and for two hours it is very gay. The ladies are all in white, and several English women insisted upon coming out on the deck in low-cut and short-sleeved gowns. It is said to be the latest fashion, and is not half as bad as their cigarette smoking or the ostentatious display of jewelry that is made on the deck every morning. Several women, and some of them with titles, sprawl around in steamer chairs, wearing necklaces of pearls, diamonds, emeralds and other precious stones, fit for only a banquet or a ball, with their fingers blazing with jewels and their wrists covered with bracelets. There seemed to be a rivalry among the aristocracy on our steamer as to which could make the most vulgar display of gold, silver and precious stones, and it occurs to me that these Englishwomen had lived in India so long that they must have acquired the Hindu barbaric love of jewelry.
My attention was called not long ago to a cartoon in a British illustrated paper comparing the traveling outfits of American and English girls. The American girl had a car load of trunks and bags and bundles, a big bunch of umbrellas and parasols, golf sticks, tennis racquets and all sorts of queer things, and was dressed in a most conspicuous and elaborate manner. She was represented as striding up and down a railway platform covered with diamonds, boa, flashy hat and fancy finery, while the English girl, in a close fitting ulster and an Alpine hat, leaned quietly upon her umbrella near a small “box,” as they call a trunk, and a modest traveling bag. But that picture isn’t accurate. According to my observation it ought to be reversed. I have never known the most vulgar or the commonest American woman to make such a display of herself in a public place as we witnessed daily among the titled women upon the P. and O. steamer Mongolia, bound for Bombay. Nor is it exceptional. Whenever you see an overdressed woman loaded with jewelry in a public place in the East, you may take it for granted that she belongs to the British nobility. Germans, French, Italians and other women of continental Europe are never guilty of similar vulgarity, and among Americans it is absolutely unknown.
It is customary for everybody to dress for dinner, and, while the practice has serious objections in stormy weather it is entirely permissible and comfortable during the long, warm nights on the Indian Ocean. The weather, however, was not nearly as warm as we expected to find it. We were four days on the Red Sea and six days on the Indian Ocean, and were entirely comfortable except for two days when the wind was so strong and kicked up so much water that the port-holes had to be closed, and it was very close and stuffy in the cabin. While the sun was hot there was always a cool breeze from one direction or another, and the captain told me it was customary during the winter season.
The passengers on our steamer were mostly English, with a few East Indians, and Americans. You cannot board a steamer in any part of the world nowadays without finding some of your fellow countrymen. They are becoming the greatest travelers of any nation and are penetrating to uttermost parts of the earth. Many of the English passengers were army officers returning to India from furloughs or going out for service, and officers’ families who had been spending the hot months in England. We had lots of lords and sirs and lady dowagers, generals, colonels and officers of lesser rank, and the usual number of brides and bridegrooms, on their wedding tours; others were officials of the government in India, who had been home to be married. And we had several young women who were going out to be married. Their lovers were not able to leave their business to make the long voyage, and were waiting for them in Bombay, Calcutta or in some of the other cities. But perhaps the largest contingent were “civil servants,” as employes of the government are called, who had been home on leave. The climate of India is very trying to white people, and, recognizing that fact, the government gives its officials six months’ leave with full pay or twelve months’ leave with half pay every five years. In that way an official who has served five consecutive years in India can spend the sixth year in England or anywhere else he likes.
We had several notable natives, including Judge Nayar, a judicial magistrate at Madras who has gained eminence at the Indian bar and was received with honors in England. He is a Parsee, a member of that remarkable race which is descended from the Persian fire worshipers. He dresses and talks and acts exactly like an ordinary English barrister. There were three brothers in the attractive native dress, Mohammedans, sons of Adamjee Peerbhoy, one of the largest cotton manufacturers and wealthiest men in India, who employs more than 15,000 operatives in his mills and furnished the canvas for the tents and the khaki for the uniforms of the British soldiers during the South African war. These young gentlemen had been making a tour of Europe, combining business with pleasure, and had inspected nearly all the great cotton mills in England and on the continent, picking up points for their own improvement. They are intelligent and enterprising men and their reputation for integrity, ability and loyalty to the British government has frequently been recognized in a conspicuous manner.
Our most notable shipmate was the Right Honorable Lord Lamington, recently governor of one of the Australian provinces, on his way to assume similar responsibility at Bombay, which is considered a more responsible post. He is a youngish looking, handsome man, and might easily be mistaken for Governor Myron T. Herrick of Ohio. One night at dinner his lordship was toasted by an Indian prince we had on board, and made a pleasant reply, although it was plain to see that he was not an orator. Captain Preston, the commander of the ship, who was afterward called upon, made a much more brilliant speech.
The prince was Ranjitsinhji, a famous cricket player, whom some consider the champion in that line of sport. He went over to the United States with an English team and will be pleasantly remembered at all the places he visited. He is a handsome fellow, 25 years old, about the color of a mulatto, with a slender athletic figure, graceful manners, a pleasant smile, and a romantic history. His father was ruler of one of the native states, and dying, left his throne, title and estates to his eldest son. The latter, being many years older than Ranjitsinhji, adopted him as his heir and sent him to England to be educated for the important duty he was destined to perform. He went through the school at Harrow and Cambridge University and took honors in scholarship as well as athletics, and was about to return to assume his hereditary responsibility in Indian when, to the astonishment of all concerned, a boy baby was born in his brother’s harem, the first and only child of a rajah 78 years of age. The mother was a Mohammedan woman, and, according to a strict construction of the laws governing such things among the Hindus, the child was not entitled to any consideration whatever. Without going into details, it is sufficient for the story to say that the public at large did not believe that the old rajah was the father of the child, or that the infant was entitled to succeed him even if he had been. But the old man was so pleased at the birth of the baby that he immediately proclaimed him his heir, the act was confirmed by Lord Elgin, the viceroy, and the honors and estates which Ranjitsinhji expected to inherit vanished like a dream. The old man gave him an allowance of $10,000 a year and he has since lived in London consoling himself with cricket.
Another distinguished passenger was Sir Cowasji Jehangir Readymoney, an Indian baronet, who inherited immense wealth from a long line of Parsee bankers. They have adopted as a sort of trademark, a nickname given by some wag to the founder of the family, in the last century because of his immense fortune and success in trade. Mr. Readymoney, or Sir Jehangir, as he is commonly known, the present head of the house, was accompanied by his wife, two daughters, their governess, and his son, who had been spending several months in London, where he had been the object of much gratifying attention. His father received his title as an acknowledgment of his generosity in presenting $250,000 to the Indian Institute in London, and for other public benefactions, estimated at $1,300,000. He built colleges, hospitals, insane asylums and other institutions. He founded a Strangers’ Home at Bombay for the refuge of people of respectability who find themselves destitute or friendless or become ill in that city. He erected drinking fountains of artistic architecture at several convenient places in Bombay, and gave enormous sums to various charities in London and elsewhere without respect to race or creed. Both the Roman Catholic and the Presbyterian missions in India have been the recipients of large gifts, and the university at Bombay owes him for its finest building.
[Illustration: A BOMBAY STREET]
Several of the most prominent native families in India have followed the example of Mr. Readymoney by adopting the nicknames that were given their ancestors. Indian names are difficult to pronounce. What, for example, would you call Mr. Jamshijdji or Mr. Jijibhai, and those are comparatively simple? Hence, in early times it was the habit of foreigners to call the natives with whom they came in contact by names that were appropriate to their character or their business. For example, “Mr. Reporter,” one of the editors of the Times of India, as his father was before him, is known honorably by a name given by people who were unable to pronounce his father’s Indian name.
Sir Jamsetjed Jeejeebhoy, one of the most prominent and wealthy Parsees, who is known all over India for his integrity and enterprise, and has given millions of dollars to colleges, schools, hospitals, asylums and other charities, is commonly known as Mr. Bottlewaller. “Waller” is the native word for trader, and his grandfather was engaged in selling and manufacturing bottles. He began by picking up empty soda and brandy bottles about the saloons, clubs and hotels, and in that humble way laid the foundation of an immense fortune and a reputation that any man might envy. The family have always signed their letters and checks “Bottlewaller,” and have been known by that name in business and society. But when Queen Victoria made the grandfather a baronet because of distinguished services, the title was conferred upon Jamsetjed Jeejeebhoy, which was his lawful name.
Another similar case is that of the Petit family, one of the richest in India and the owners and occupants of the finest palaces in Bombay. Their ancestor, or the first of the family who distinguished himself, was a man of very small stature, almost a dwarf, who was known as Le Petit. He accepted the christening and bore the name honorably, as his sons and grandsons have since done. They are now baronets, but have never dropped it, and the present head of the house is Sir Manockji Petit.
The Eye of India, as Bombay is called, sits on an island facing the Arabian Sea on one side and a large bay on the other, but the water is quite shallow, except where channels have been dredged to the docks. The scenery is not attractive. Low hills rise in a semicircle from the horizon, half concealed by a curtain of mist, and a few green islands scattered about promiscuously are occupied by hospitals, military barracks, villas and plantations. Nor is the harbor impressive. It is not worth description, but the pile of buildings which rises on the city side as the steamer approaches its dock is imposing, being a picturesque mingling of oriental and European architecture. Indeed, I do not know of any city that presents a braver front to those who arrive by sea. At the upper end, which you see first, is a group of five-story apartment houses, with oriental balconies and colonnades. Then comes a monstrous new hotel, built by a stock company under the direction of the late J. N. Tata, a Parsee merchant who visited the United States several times and obtained his inspirations and many of his ideas there. Beside the hotel rise the buildings of the yacht club, a hospitable association of Englishmen, to which natives, no matter how great and good they may be, are never admitted. Connected with the club is an apartment house for gentlemen, and so hospitable are the members that a traveler can secure quarters there without difficulty if he brings a letter of introduction.
Next toward the docks is an old castle whose gray and lichen-covered walls are a striking contrast to the new modern buildings that surround it. These walls inclose a considerable area, which by courtesy is called a fort. It was a formidable defense at one time, and has been the scene of much exciting history, but is obsolete now. The walls are of heavy masonry, but a shot from a modern gun would shatter them. They inclose the military headquarters of the Bombay province, or Presidency, as it is called in the Indian gazetteer, the cathedral of this diocese, quarters and barracks for the garrison, an arsenal, magazines and other military buildings and a palatial sailors’ home, one of the finest and largest institution of the kind in the world, which is supported by contributions from the various shipping companies that patronize this place. There are also several machine shops, factories and warehouses which contain vast stores of war material of every sort sufficient to equip an army at a fortnight’s notice. About twelve hundred men are constantly employed in the arsenal and shops making and repairing military arms and equipments. There is a museum of ancient weapons, and many which were captured from the natives in the early days of India’s occupation are quite curious; and there the visitor will have his first view of one of the greatest wonders of nature, a banyan tree, which drops its branches to take root in the soil beneath its over-spreading boughs. But you must wait until you get to Calcutta before you can see the best specimens.
Bombay is not fortified, except by a few guns behind some earthworks at the entrance of the harbor, but it must be if the Russians secure a port upon the Arabian Sea; not only Bombay, but the entire west coast of India. The only protection for the city now is a small fleet of battle ships, monitors and gunboats that lie in the harbor, and there are usually several visiting men of war at the anchorage.
Bombay is the second city in population in India, Calcutta standing first on the list with 1,350,000 people, and, if you will take your map for a moment, you will see that the two cities lie in almost the same latitude, one on each side of the monstrous peninsula–Bombay at the top of the Arabian Sea and Calcutta at the top of the Bay of Bengal. By the census of 1891 Bombay had 821,764 population. By the census of 1901 the total was 776,006, the decrease of 45,758 being attributed to the frightful mortality by the plague in 1900 and 1901. It is the most enterprising, the most modern, the most active, the richest and the most prosperous city in India. More than 90 per cent of the travelers who enter and leave the country pass over the docks, and more than half the foreign commerce of the country goes through its custom-house. It is by all odds the finest city between modern Cairo and San Francisco, and its commercial and industrial interests exceed that of any other.
The arrangements for landing passengers are admirable. On the ship all our baggage was marked with numbers corresponding to that of our declaration to the collector of customs. The steamer anchored out about a quarter of a mile from a fine covered pier. We were detained on board until the baggage, even our small pieces, was taken ashore on one launch and after a while we followed it on another. Upon reaching the dock we passed up a long aisle to where several deputy collectors were seated behind desks. As we gave our names they looked through the bundles of declarations which had been arranged alphabetically, and, finding the proper one, told us that we would have to pay a duty of 5 per cent upon our typewriter and kodaks, and that a receipt and certificate would be furnished by which we could recover the money at any port by which we left India. Nothing else was taxed, although I noticed that nearly every passenger had to pay on something else. There is only one rate of duty–5 per cent ad valorem upon everything–jewelry, furniture, machinery–all pay the same, which simplified the transaction. But the importation of arms and ammunition is strictly prohibited and every gun, pistol and cartridge is confiscated in the custom-house unless the owner can present evidence that he is an officer of the army or navy and that they are the tools of his trade, or has a permit issued by the proper authority. This precaution is intended to anticipate any conspiracy similar to that which led to the great mutiny of 1857. The natives are not allowed to carry guns or even to own them, and every gun or other weapon found in the hands of a Hindu is confiscated unless he has a permit. And as an additional precaution the rifles issued to the native regiments in the army have a range of only twelve hundred yards, while those issued to the white regiments will kill at sixteen hundred yards; thus giving the latter an important advantage in case of an insurrection.
After having interviewed the deputy collector, we were admitted to a great pen or corral in the middle of the pier, which is inclosed by a high fence, and there found all our luggage piled up together on a bench. And all the trunks and bags and baskets from the ship were similarly assorted, according to the numbers they bore. We were not asked to open anything, none of our packages were examined, the declarations of passengers usually being accepted as truthful and final unless the inspectors have reason to believe or suspect deception. Gangs of coolies in livery, each wearing a brass tag with his number, stood by ready to seize the baggage and carry it to the hotel wagons, which stood outside, where we followed it and directed by a polite Sikh policeman, took the first carriage in line. Everything was conducted in a most orderly manner. There was no confusion, no jostling and no excitement, which indicates that the Bombay officials have correct notions of what is proper and carry them into practice.
The docks of Bombay are the finest in Asia, and when the extensions now in progress are carried out few cities in Europe can surpass them. They are planned for a century in advance. The people of Bombay are not boastful, but they are confident of the growth of their city and its commerce. Attached to the docks is a story of integrity and fidelity worth telling. In 1735 the municipal authorities of the young city, anticipating commercial prosperity, decided to improve their harbor and build piers for the accommodation of vessels, but nobody around the place had experience in such matters and a commission was sent off to other cities of India to find a man to take charge. The commission was very much pleased with the appearance and ability of Lowji Naushirwanji, the Parsee foreman of the harbor at the neighboring town of Surat, and tried to coax him away by making a very lucrative offer, much in advance of the pay he was then receiving. He was too loyal and honest to accept it, and read the commission a lecture on business integrity which greatly impressed them. When they returned to Bombay and related their experience, the municipal authorities communicated with those of Surat and inclosed an invitation to Naushirwanji to come down and build a dock for Bombay. The offer was so advantageous that his employers advised him to accept it. He did so, and from that day to this a man of his name, and one of his descendants, has been superintendent of the docks of this city. The office has practically become hereditary in the family.
[Illustration: CLOCK TOWER AND UNIVERSITY BUILDINGS–BOMBAY]
A decided sensation awaits the traveler when he passes out from the pier into the street, particularly if it is his first visit to the East. He already has had a glimpse of the gorgeous costumes of the Hindu gentleman and the priestly looking Parsees, and the long, cool white robes of the common people, for several of each class were gathered at the end of the pier to welcome friends who arrived by the steamer, but the moment that he emerges from the dock he enters a new and a strange world filled with vivid colors and fantastic costumes. He sees his first “gherry,” a queer-looking vehicle made of bamboo, painted in odd patterns and bright tints, and drawn by a cow or a bullock that will trot almost as fast as a horse. All vehicles, however, are now called “gherrys” in India, no matter where they come from nor how they are built–the chariot of the viceroy as well as the little donkey cart of the native fruit peddler.
The extent of bare flesh visible–masculine and feminine–startles you at first, and the scanty apparel worn by the common people of both sexes. Working women walk by with their legs bare from the thighs down, wearing nothing but a single garment wrapped in graceful folds around their slender bodies. They look very small, compared with the men, and the first question every stranger asks is the reason. You are told that they are married in infancy, that they begin to bear children by the time they are 12 and 14 years old, and consequently do not have time to grow; and perhaps that is the correct explanation for the diminutive stature of the women of India. There are exceptions. You see a few stalwart amazons, but ninety per cent or more of the sex are under size. Perhaps there is another reason, which does not apply to the upper classes, and that is the manual labor the coolies women perform, the loads they carry on their heads and the heavy lifting that is required of them. If you approach a building in course of erection you will find that the stone, brick, mortar and other material is carried up the ladders and across the scaffolding on the heads of women and girls, and some of these “hod carriers” are not more than 10 or 12 years old. They carry everything on their heads, and usually it requires two other women or girls to hoist the heavy burden to the head of the third. All the weight comes on the spine, and must necessarily prevent or retard growth, although it gives them an erect and stately carriage, which women in America might imitate with profit. At the same time, perhaps, our women might prefer to acquire their carriage in some other way than “toting” a hodful of bricks to the top of a four-story building.
The second thing that impresses you is the amount of glistening silver the working women wear upon their naked limbs. To drop into poetry, like Silas Wegg, they wear rings in their noses and rings on their toeses, and bands of silver wherever they can fasten them on their arms and legs and neck. They have bracelets, anklets, armlets, necklaces, and their noses as well as their ears are pierced for pendants. You wonder how a woman can eat, drink or sleep with a great big ornament hanging over her lips, and some of the earrings must weigh several ounces, for they fall almost to the shoulders. You will meet a dozen coolie women every block with two or three pounds of silver ornaments distributed over their persons, which represent their savings bank, for every spare rupee is invested in a ring, bracelet or a necklace, which, of course, does not pay interest, but can be disposed of for full value in case of an emergency. The workmanship is rude, but the designs are often pretty, and a collection of the silver ornaments worn by Hindu women would make an interesting exhibit for a museum. They are often a burden to them, particularly in hot weather, when they chafe and burn the flesh, and our Bombay friends tell us that in the summer the fountain basins, the hydrants and every other place where water can be found will be surrounded by women bathing the spots where the silver ornaments have seared the skin and cooling the metal, which is often so hot as to burn the fingers.
Another feature of Bombay life which immediately seizes the attention is the gay colors worn by everybody, which makes the streets look like animated rainbows or the kaleidoscopes that you can buy at the 10-cent stores. Orange and scarlet predominate, but yellow, pink, purple, green, blue and every other tint that was ever invented appears in the robes of the Hindus you meet upon the street. A dignified old gentleman will cross your path with a pink turban on his head and a green scarf wound around his shoulders. The next man you meet may have a pair of scarlet stockings, a purple robe and a tunic of wine-colored velvet embroidered in gold. There seems to be no rule or regulation about the use of colors and no set fashion for raiment. The only uniformity in the costume worn by the men of India is that everybody’s legs are bare. Most men wear sandals; some wear shoes, but trousers are as rare as stovepipe hats. The native merchant goes to his counting-room, the banker to his desk, the clergyman discourses from a pulpit, the lawyer addresses the court, the professor expounds to his students and the coolie carries his load, all with limbs naked from the ankles to the thighs, and never more than half-concealed by a muslin divided skirt.
The race, the caste and often the province of a resident of India may be determined by his headgear. The Parsees wear tall fly-trap hats made of horse hair, with a top like a cow’s foot; the Mohammedans wear the fez, and the Hindus the turban, and there are infinite varieties of turbans, both in the material used and in the manner in which they are put up. An old resident of India can usually tell where a man comes from by looking at his turban.
THE CITY OF BOMBAY
There are two cities in Bombay, the native city and the foreign city. The foreign city spreads out over a large area, and, although the population is only a small per cent of that of the native city, it occupies a much larger space, which is devoted to groves, gardens, lawns, and other breathing places and pleasure grounds, while, as is the custom in the Orient, the natives are packed away several hundred to the acre in tall houses, which, with over-hanging balconies and tile roofs, line the crooked and narrow streets on both sides. Behind some of these tall and narrow fronts, however, are dwellings that cover a good deal of ground, being much larger than the houses we are accustomed to, because the Hindus have larger families and they all live together. When a young man marries he brings his bride home to his father’s house, unless his mother-in-law happens to be a widow, when they often take up their abode with her. But it is not common for young couples to have their own homes; hence the dwellings in the native quarters are packed with several generations of the same family, and that makes the occupants easy prey to plagues, famine and other agents of human destruction.
The Parsees love air and light, and many rich Hindus have followed the foreign colony out into the suburbs, where you find a succession of handsome villas or bungalows, as they are called, half-hidden by high walls that inclose charming gardens. Some of these bungalows are very attractive, some are even sumptuous in their appointments–veritable palaces, filled with costly furniture and ornaments–but the climate forbids the use of many of the creature comforts which American and European taste demands. The floors must be of tiles or cement and the curtains of bamboo, because hangings, carpets, rugs and upholstery furnish shelter for destructive and disagreeable insects, and the aim of everybody is to secure as much air as possible without admitting the heat.
Bombay is justly proud of her public buildings. Few cities have such a splendid array. None that I have ever visited except Vienna can show an assemblage so imposing, with such harmony and artistic uniformity combined with convenience of location, taste of arrangement and general architectural effect. There is nothing, of course, in Bombay that will compare with our Capitol or Library at Washington, and its state and municipal buildings cannot compete individually with the Parliament House in London, the Hotel de Ville de Paris or the Palace of Justice in Brussels, or many others I might name. But neither Washington nor London nor Paris nor any other European or American city possesses such a broad, shaded boulevard as Bombay, with the Indian Ocean upon one side and on the other, stretching for a mile or more, a succession of stately edifices. Vienna has the boulevard and the buildings, but lacks the water effect. It is as if all the buildings of the University of Chicago were scattered along the lake front in Chicago from the river to Twelfth street.
The Bombay buildings are a mixture of Hindu, Gothic and Saracenic architecture, blended with taste and success, and in the center, to crown the group, rises a stately clock tower of beautiful proportions. All of these buildings have been erected during the last thirty years, the most of them with public money, many by private munificence. The material is chiefly green and gray stone. Each has ample approaches from all directions, which contribute to the general effect, and is surrounded by large grounds, so that it can be seen to advantage from any point of view. Groves of full-grown trees furnish a noble background, and wide lawns stretch before and between. There is parking along the shore of the bay, then a broad drive, with two sidewalks, a track for bicycles and a soft path for equestrians, all overhung with far-stretching boughs of immense and ancient trees, which furnish a grateful shade against the sun and add to the beauty of the landscape. I do not know of any such driveway elsewhere, and it extends for several miles, starting from an extensive common or parade ground, which is given up to games and sports. Poor people are allowed to camp there in tents in hot weather, for there, if anywhere, they can keep cool, because the peninsula upon which Bombay stands is narrow at that point, and if a breeze is blowing from any direction they get it. At intervals the boulevard is intersected by small, well-kept parks with band stands, and is broken by walks, drives, beds of flowers, foliage, plants and other landscape decorations; and this in the midst of a great city.
On the inside of the boulevard, following the contour of the shore of the bay, is first, Elphinstone College, then the Secretariat, which is the headquarters of the government and contains several state apartments of noble proportions and costly decorations. The building is 443 feet long, with a tower 170 feet high. Next it are the buildings of the University of Bombay, a library with a tower 260 feet high, a convocation hall of beautiful design and perfect proportions and other buildings. Then comes the Courts of Justice; an immense structure nearly 600 feet long, with a tower 175 feet high, which resembles the Law Courts of London, and is as appropriate as it is imposing. The department of public works has the next building; then the postoffice department, the telegraph department, the state archives building and patent office in order. The town hall contains several fine rooms and important historic pictures. The mint is close to the town hall, and next beyond it are the offices of the Port Trust, which would correspond to our harbor commissioners. Then follow in order the Holy Trinity Church, the High School, St. Xavier’s College, the Momey Institute, Wilson College, long rows of barracks, officers’ quarters and clubs, the Sailors’ Home, several hospitals, a school of art and Elphinstone High School, which is 452 by 370 feet in size and one of the most palatial educational institutions I have ever seen, the splendid group culminating in the Victoria Railway station, which is the finest in the world and almost as large as any we have in the United States.
[Illustration: VICTORIA RAILWAY STATION–BOMBAY]
It is a vast building of Italian Gothic, with oriental towers and pinnacles, elaborately decorated with sculpture and carving, and a large central dome surmounted by a huge bronze figure of Progress. The architect was Mr. F. W. Stevens, a Bombay engineer; it was finished in 1888 at a cost of $2,500,000, and the wood carving, the tiles, the ornamental iron and brass railings, the grills for the ticket offices, the restaurant and refreshment rooms, the balustrades for the grand staircases, are all the work of the students of the Bombay School of Art, which gives it additional interest, although critics have contended that the architecture and decorations are too ornate for the purpose for which it is used.
Wilson College, one of the most imposing of the long line of buildings, is a memorial to a great Scotch missionary who lived a strenuous and useful life and impressed his principles and his character upon the people of India in a remarkable manner. He was famous for his common sense and accurate judgment; and till the end of his days retained the respect and confidence of every class of the community, from the viceroy and the council of state down to the coolies that sweep the streets. All of them knew and loved Dr. Wilson, and although he never ceased to preach the gospel of Christ, his Master, with the energy, zeal and plain speaking that is characteristic of Scotchmen, the Hindus, Mohammedans, Parsees, Jains, Jews and every other sect admired and encouraged him as much as those of his own faith.
One-fourth of all these buildings were presented to the city by rich and patriotic residents, most of them Parsees and Hindus. The Sailors’ Home was the gift of the Maharajah of Baroda; University Hall was founded by Sir Cowasjee Jehangir Readymoney, who also built Elphinstone College. He placed the great fountain in front of the cathedral, and, although a Parsee, built the spire on the Church of St. John the Evangelist.
Mr. Dharmsala, another Parsee, built the Ophthalmic Hospital and the European Strangers’ Home and put drinking fountains about the town. David Sassoon, a Persian Jew, founded the Mechanics’ Institute, and his brother, Sir Albert Sassoon, built the tower of the Elphinstone High School. Mr. Premchand Raichand built the university library and clock tower in memory of his mother. Sir Jamsetji Jijibhal gave the school of art and the Parsee Benevolent Institute; the sons of Jarahji Parak erected the almshouse. Mr. Rustam Jamshidji founded the Hospital for Women, the East India Company built the Town Hall and other men gave other buildings with the greatest degree of public spirit and patriotism I have ever seen displayed in any town. The guidebook says that during the last quarter of a century patriotic residents of Bombay, mostly natives, have given more than $5,000,000 for public edifices. It is a new form for the expression of patriotism that might be encouraged in the United States.
Several statues were also gifts to the city; that of Queen Victoria, which is one of the finest I have ever seen, having been erected by the Maharajah of Baroda, and that of the Prince of Wales by Sir Edward Beohm. These are the best, but there are several others. Queen Victoria’s monument, which stands in the most prominent plaza, where the busiest thoroughfares meet, represents that good woman sitting upon her throne under a lofty Gothic canopy of marble. The carving is elaborate and exquisite. In the center of the canopy appears the Star of India, and above it the Rose of England, united with the Lotus of India, with the mottoes of both countries intertwined–“God and My Right” and “Heaven’s Light Our Guide.”
Queen Victoria was no stranger to the people of India. They felt a personal relationship with their empress, and many touching incidents are told that have occurred from time to time to illustrate the affection of the Hindus for her. They were taught to call her “The Good Lady of England,” and almost every mail, while she was living, carried letters from India to London bearing that address. They came mostly from Hindu women who had learned of her goodness, sympathy and benevolence and hired public scribes at the market places to tell her of their sufferings and wrongs.
In the center of another plaza facing a street called Rampart row, which is lined by lofty buildings containing the best retail shops in town, is a figure of Edward VII. in bronze, on horseback, presented by a local merchant. Near the cathedral is a statute to Lord Cornwallis, who was governor general of India in 1786, and, as the inscription informs us, died at Ghazipur, Oct. 5, 1805. This was erected by the merchants of Bombay, who paid a similar honor to the Marquis of Wellesley, younger brother of the Duke of Wellington, who was also governor general during the days of the East India Company, and did a great deal for the country. He was given a purse of $100,000, and his statue was erected in Bombay, but he died unhappy because the king refused to create him Duke of Hindustan, the only honor that would have satisfied his soul. There are several fine libraries in Bombay, and the Asiatic Society, which has existed since the beginning of the nineteenth century, has one of the largest and most valuable collections of oriental literature in existence.
For three miles and a half the boulevard, and its several branches are bounded by charming residences, which overlook the bay and the roofs of the city. Malabar Point at the end of the drive, the extreme end of the island upon which Bombay is built, is the government house, the residence of the Lord Lamington, who represents King Edward VII. in this beautiful city. It is a series of bungalows, with large, cool rooms and deep verandas, shaded by immense trees and luxurious vines, and has accommodations altogether for about 100 people. The staff of the governor is quite large. He has all kinds of aides-de-camp, secretaries and attaches, and maintains quite a little court. Indeed, his quarters, his staff and his style of living are much more pretentious than those of the President of the United States, and his salary is quite as large. Everywhere he goes he is escorted by a bodyguard of splendid looking native soldiers in scarlet uniforms, big turbans and long spears. They are Sikhs, from the north of India, the greatest fighters in the empire, men of large stature, military bearing and unswerving loyalty to the British crown, and when the Governor of Bombay drives in to his office in the morning or drives back again to his lovely home at night, his carriage is surrounded by a squad of those tawny warriors, who ride as well as they look.
About half-way on the road to the government house is the Gymkhana, and I venture to say that nobody who has not been in India can guess what that means. And if you want another conundrum, what is a chotohazree? It is customary for smart people to have their chotohazree at the Gymkhana, and I think that you would be pleased to join them after taking the beautiful drive which leads to the place. Nobody knows what the word was derived from, but it is used to describe a country club–a bungalow hidden under a beautiful grove on the brow of a cliff that overhangs the bay–with all of the appurtenances, golf links, tennis courts, cricket grounds, racquet courts and indoor gymnasium, and everybody stops there on their afternoon drive to have chotohazree, which is the local term for afternoon tea and for early morning coffee.
There are peculiar customs in Bombay. The proper time for making visits everywhere in India is between 11 a. m. and 1:30 p. m., and fashionable ladies are always at home between those hours and seldom at any other. It seems unnatural, because they are the hottest of the day. One would think that common sense as well as comfort would induce people to stay at home at noon and make themselves as cool as possible. In other tropical countries these are the hours of the siesta, the noonday nap, which is as common and as necessary as breakfast or dinner, and none but a lunatic would think of calling upon a friend after 11 in the morning or before 3 in the afternoon. It would be as ridiculous as to return a social visit at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning, and the same reasons which govern that custom ought to apply in India as well as in Egypt, Cuba or Brazil. But here ladies put on their best gowns, order their carriages, take their card cases, and start out in the burning noontide glare to return visits and make formal dinner and party calls. Strangers are expected to do the same, and if you have letters of introduction you are expected to present them during those hours, and not at any other time. In the cool of the day, after 5 o’clock, everybody who owns or can hire a carriage goes out to drive, and usually stops at the Gymkhana in the country or at the Yacht Club in the city for chotohazree. It is a good custom to admit women to clubs as they do here. The wives and daughters of members have every privilege, and can give tea parties and luncheons in the clubhouses, while on certain evenings of the week a band is brought from the military barracks and everybody of any account in European society is expected to be present. Tables are spread over the lawn, and are engaged in advance by ladies, who sit behind them, receive visits and pour tea just as they would do in their own houses. It is a very pleasant custom.
All visitors who intend to remain in Bombay for any length of time are expected to call upon the governor and his wife, but it is not necessary for them to drive out to Malabar Point for such a purpose. On a table in the reception room of the government building down-town are two books in which you write your name and address, and that is considered equivalent to a formal visit. One book is intended exclusively for those who have been “presented” and by signing it they are reminding his excellency and her excellency of their continued existence and notifying them where invitations to dinners and balls can reach them. The other book is designed for strangers and travelers, who inscribe their names and professions, where they live when they are at home, how long they expect to be in Bombay and where they are stopping. Anybody who desires can sign this book and the act is considered equivalent to a call upon the governor. If the caller has a letter of introduction to His Excellency he can leave it, with a card, in charge of the clerk who looks after the visitors’ book, and if he desires to see the governor personally for business or social reasons he can express that desire upon a sheet of note paper, which will be attached to the letter of introduction and delivered some time during the day. The latter, if he is so disposed will then give the necessary instructions and an aide-de-camp will send a “chit,” as they call a note over here, inviting the traveler to call at an hour named. There is a great deal of formality in official and social life. The ceremonies and etiquette are modeled upon those of the royal palaces in England, and the governor of each province, as well as the viceroy of India in Calcutta, has his little court.
A different code of etiquette must be followed in social relations with natives, because they do not usually open their houses to strangers. Letters of introduction should be sent with cards by messengers or through the mails. Then, if the gentleman to whom they are addressed desires, he will call at your hotel. Many of the wealthier natives, and especially the Parsees, are adopting European customs, but the more conservative Hindus still adhere to their traditional exclusive habits, their families are invisible and never mentioned, and strangers are never admitted to their homes.
Natives are not admitted to the European clubs. There is no mingling of the races in society, except in a few isolated cases of wealthy families, who have been educated in Europe and have adopted European customs. While the same prejudice does not exist theoretically, there is actually a social gulf as wide and as deep as that which lies between white and black families in Savannah or New Orleans. Occasionally there is a marriage between a European and a native, but the social consequences have not encouraged others to imitate the example. Such unions are not approved by public sentiment in either race, and are not usually attended with happiness. Some of the Parsees, who are always excepted, and are treated as a distinct race and community, mingle with Europeans to a certain degree, but even in their case the line is sharply drawn.
The native district of Bombay is not so dirty nor so densely populated as in most other Indian cities. The streets are wider and some of them will admit of a carriage, although the cross-streets are nearly all too narrow. The houses are from three to five stories in height, built of brick or stone, with overhanging balconies and broad eaves. Sometimes the entire front and rear are of lattice work, the side walls being solid. Few of them are plastered, ceilings are unknown and partitions, for the sake of promoting circulation, seldom go more than half way to the top of a room. No glass is used, but every window has heavy blinds as a protection from the hot air and the rays of the sun. While our taste does not approve the arrangements in many cases, experience has taught the people of India how to live through the hot summers with the greatest degree of comfort, and anyone who attempts to introduce innovations is apt to make mistakes. The fronts of many of the houses are handsomely carved and decorated, the columns and pillars and brackets which support the balconies, the railings, the door frames, the eaves and architraves, are often beautiful examples of the carvers’ skill, and the exterior walls are usually painted in gay colors and fanciful designs. Within doors the houses look very bare to us, and contain few comforts.
The lower floor of the house is commonly used for a shop, and different lines of business are classified and gathered in the same neighborhood. The food market, the grocery and provision dealers, the dealers in cotton goods and other fabrics, the silk merchants, the shoe and leather men, the workers in copper and brass, the goldsmiths, jewelers and dealers in precious stones each have their street or quarter, which is a great convenience to purchasers, and scattered among them are frequent cook-shops and eating places, which do not resemble our restaurants in any way, but have a large patronage. A considerable portion of the population of Bombay, and the same is true of all other Indian cities, depends upon these cook-shops for food as a measure of economy and convenience. People can send out for dinner, lunch, or breakfast at any hour, and have it served by their own servants without being troubled to keep up a kitchen or buy fuel.
There are said to be 6,000 dealers in jewelry and precious stones in the city of Bombay, and they all seem to be doing a flourishing business, chiefly with the natives, who are very fond of display and invest their money in precious stones and personal adornments of gold and silver, which are safer and give more satisfaction than banks.
You can see specimens of every race and nation in the native city, nearly always in their own distinctive costumes, and they are the source of never-ending interest–Arabs, Persians, Afghans, Rajputs, Parsees, Chinese, Japanese, Malays, Lascars, Negroes from Zanzibar, Madagascar and the Congo, Abyssinians. Nubians, Sikhs, Thibetans, Burmese, Singalese, Siamese and Bengalis mingle with Jews, Greeks and Europeans on common terms, and, unlike the population of most eastern cities, the people of Bombay always seem to be busy.
Many enterprises usually left for the municipal authorities of a city to carry on cannot be undertaken by the government of India because of the laws of caste, religious customs and fanatical prejudices of the people. The Hindu allows no man to enter his home; the women of a Mohammedan household are kept in seclusion, the teachings of the priests are contrary to modern sanitary regulations, and if the municipal authorities should condemn a block of buildings and tear it down, or discover a nuisance and attempt to remove it, they might easily provoke a riot and perhaps a revolution. This has happened frequently. During the last plague a public tumult had to be quelled by soldiers at a large cost of life because of the efforts of the government to isolate and quarantine infected persons and houses. These peculiar conditions suggested in Bombay the advantage of a semi-public body called “The Improvement Trust,” which was organized a few years ago by Lord Sandhurst, then governor. The original object was to clear out the slums and infected places after the last plague, to tear down blocks of rotten and filthy tenement-houses and erect new buildings on the ground; to widen the streets, to let air and light into moldering, festering sink holes of poverty, vice and wretchedness; to lay sewers and furnish a water supply, and to redeem and regenerate certain portions of the city that were a menace to the public health and morals. This work was intrusted to twelve eminent citizens, representing each of the races and all of the large interests in Bombay, who commanded the respect and enjoyed the confidence of the fanatical element of the people, and would be permitted to do many things and introduce innovations that would not be tolerated if suggested by foreigners, or the government.
After the special duty which they were organized to perform had been accomplished The Improvement Trust was made permanent as a useful agency to undertake works of public utility of a similar character which the government could not carry on. The twelve trustees serve without pay or allowances; not one of them receives a penny of compensation for his time or trouble, or even the reimbursement of incidental expenses made necessary in the performance of his duties. This is an exhibition of unusual patriotism, but it is considered perfectly natural in Bombay. To carry out the plans of the Trust, salaried officials are employed, and a large force is necessary. The trustees have assumed great responsibilities, and supply the place of a board of public works, with larger powers than are usually granted to such officials. The municipality has turned over to them large tracts of real estate, some of which has been improved with great profit; it has secured funds by borrowing from banks upon the personal credit of its members, and by issuing bonds which sell at a high premium, and the money has been used in the improvement of the city, in the introduction of sanitary reforms, in building model tenements for the poor, in creating institutions of public necessity or advantage and by serving the people in various other ways.
The street car system of Bombay belongs to an American company, having been organized by a Mr. Kittridge, who came over here as consul during President Lincoln’s administration. Recognizing the advantage of street cars, in 1874 he interested some American capitalists in the enterprise, got a franchise, laid rails on a few of the principal streets and has been running horse cars ever since.
The introduction of electricity and the extension of the street railway system is imperatively needed. Distances are very great in the foreign section, and during the hot months, from March to November, it is impossible for white men to walk in the sun, so that everybody is compelled to keep or hire a carriage; while on the other hand the density of the population in other sections is so great as to be a continual and increasing public peril. Bombay has more than 800,000 inhabitants, two-thirds of whom are packed into very narrow limits, and in the native quarters it is estimated that there is one human being to every ten square yards of space. It will be realized that this is a dangerous condition of affairs for a city that is constantly afflicted with epidemics and in which contagious diseases always prevail. The extension of the street car service would do something to relieve this congestion and scatter many of the people out among the suburbs, but the Orientals always swarm together and pack themselves away in most uncomfortable and unhealthful limits, and it will always be a great danger when the plagues or the cholera come around. Multitudes have no homes at all. They have no property except the one or two strips of dirty cotton which the police require them to wear for clothing. They lie down to sleep anywhere, in the parks, on the sidewalks, in hallways, and drawing their robes over their faces are utterly indifferent to what happens. They get their meals at the cook shops for a few farthings, eat when they are hungry, sleep when they are sleepy and go through life without a fixed abode.
In addition to the street car company the United States is represented by the Standard Oil Company, the Vacuum Oil Company, and the New York Export and Import Company. Other American firms of merchants and manufacturers have resident agents, but they are mostly Englishmen or Germans.
There is, however, very little demand in India for agricultural implements, although three-fourths of the people are employed in tilling the soil. Each farmer owns or rents a very small piece of ground, hardly big enough to justify the use of anything but the simple, primitive tools that have been handed down to him through long lines of ancestors for 3,000 years. Nearly all his implements are home-made, or come from the village blacksmith shop, and are of the rudest, most awkward description. They plow with a crooked stick, they dig ditches with their fingers, and carry everything that has to be moved in little baskets on their heads. The harvesting is done with a primitive-looking sickle, and root crops are taken out of the ground with a two-tined fork with a handle only a foot long. The Hindu does everything in a squatting posture, hence he uses only short-handled tools. Fifty or seventy-five cents each would easily replace the outfit of three-fourths of the farmers in the empire. Occasionally there is a rajah with large estates under cultivation upon which modern machinery is used, but even there its introduction is discouraged; first, because the natives are very conservative and disinclined to adopt new means and new methods; and, second, and what is more important, every labor-saving implement and machine that comes into the country deprives hundreds of poor coolies of employment.
The development of the material resources of India is slowly going on, and mechanical industries are being gradually established, with the encouragement of the government, for the purpose of attracting the surplus labor from the farms and villages and employing it in factories and mills, and in the mines of southern India, which are supposed to be very rich. These enterprises offer limited possibilities for the sale of machinery, and American-made machines are recognized as superior to all others. There is also a demand for everything that can be used by the foreign population, which in India is numbered somewhere about a million people, but the trade is controlled largely by British merchants who have life-long connections at home, and it is difficult to remove their prejudices or persuade them to see the superiority of American goods. Nevertheless, our manufactories, on their merits, are gradually getting a footing in the market.
When Mark Twain was in Bombay, a few years ago, he met with an unusual experience for a mortal. He was a guest of the late Mr. Tata, a famous Parsee merchant, and received a great deal of attention. All the foreigners in the city knew him, and had read his books, and there are in Bombay hundreds of highly cultivated and educated natives. He hired a servant, as every stranger does, and was delighted when he discovered a native by the name of Satan among the numerous applicants. He engaged him instantly on his name; no other recommendation was necessary. To have a servant by the name of Satan was a privilege no humorist had ever before enjoyed, and the possibilities to his imagination were without limit. And it so happened that on the very day Satan was employed, Prince Aga Khan, the head of a Persian sect of Mohammedans, who is supposed to have a divine origin and will be worshiped as a god when he dies, came to call on Mr. Clemens. Satan was in attendance, and when he appeared with the card upon a tray, Mr. Clemens asked if he knew anything about the caller; if he could give him some idea who he was, because, when a prince calls in person upon an American tourist, it is considered a distinguished honor. Aga Khan is well known to everybody in Bombay, and one of the most conspicuous men in the city. He is a great favorite in the foreign colony, and is as able a scholar as he is a charming gentleman. Satan, with all the reverence of his race, appreciated the religious aspect of the visitor more highly than any other, and in reply to the question of his new master explained that Aga Khan was a god.
It was a very gratifying meeting for both gentlemen, who found each other entirely congenial. Aga Khan has a keen sense of humor and had read everything Mark Twain had written, while, on the other hand, the latter was distinctly impressed with the personality of his caller. That evening, when he came down to dinner, his host asked how he had passed the day:
“I have had the time of my life,” was the prompt reply, “and the greatest honor I have ever experienced. I have hired Satan for a servant, and a God called to tell me how much he liked Huck Finn.”
SERVANTS, HOTELS AND CAVE TEMPLES
Everybody who comes to India must have a personal servant, a native who performs the duty of valet, waiter and errand boy and does other things that he is told. It is said to be impossible to do without one and I am inclined to think that is true, for it is a fixed custom of the country, and when a stranger attempts to resist, or avoid or reform the customs of a country his trouble begins. Many of the Indian hotels expect guests to bring their own servants–to furnish their own chambermaids and waiters–hence are short-handed, and the traveler who hasn’t provided himself with that indispensable piece of baggage has to look after himself. On the railways a native servant is even more important, for travelers are required to carry their own bedding, make their own beds and furnish their own towels. The company provides a bench for them to sleep on, similar to those we have in freight cabooses at home, a wash room and sometimes water. But if you want to wash your face and hands in the morning it is always better to send your servant to the station master before the trains starts to see that the tank is filled. Then a naked Hindu with a goat-skin of water comes along, fills the tank and stands around touching his forehead respectfully every time you look his way until you give him a penny. The eating houses along the railway lines also expect travelers to bring their own servants, who raid their shelves and tables for food and drink and take it out to the cars. That is another of the customs of the country.
For these reasons a special occupation has been created, peculiar to India–that of travelers’ servants, or “bearers” as they are called. I have never been able to satisfy myself as to the derivation of the name. Some wise men say that formerly, before the days of railroads, people were carried about in sedan chairs, as they are still in China, and the men who carried them were called “bearers;” others contend that the name is due to the circumstance that these servants bear the white man’s burden, which is not at all likely. They certainly do not bear his baggage. They hire coolies to do it. A self-respecting “bearer” will employ somebody at your expense to do everything he can avoid doing and will never demean himself by carrying a trunk, or a bag, or even a parcel. You give him money to pay incidental expenses, for you don’t want him bothering you all the time, and he hires other natives to do the work. But his wages are small. A first-class bearer, who can talk English and cook, pack trunks, look after tickets, luggage and other business of travel, serve as guide at all places of interest and compel merchants to pay him a commission upon everything his employer purchases, can be obtained for forty-five rupees, which is $15 a month, and keep himself. He gets his board for nothing at the hotels for waiting on his master, and on the pretext that he induced him to come there. But you have to pay his railway fare, third class, and give him $3 to buy warm clothing. He never buys it, because he does not need it, but that’s another custom of the country. Then again, at the end of the engagement he expects a present–a little backsheesh–two or three dollars, and a certificate that you are pleased with his services.
That is the cost of the highest priced man, who can be guide as well as servant, but you can get “bearers” with lesser accomplishments for almost any wages, down as low as $2 a month. But they are not only worthless; they actually imperil your soul because of their exasperating ways and general cussedness. You often hear that servants are cheap in India, that families pay their cooks $3 a month and their housemen $2, which is true; but they do not earn any more. One Swede girl will do as much work as a dozen Hindus, and do it much better than they, and, what is even more important to the housewife, can be relied upon. In India women never go out to service except as nurses, but in every household you will find not less than seven or eight men servants, and sometimes twenty, who receive from $1 to $5 a month each in wages, but the total amounts up, and they have to be fed, and they will steal, every one of them, and lie and loaf, and cause an infinite amount of trouble and confusion, simply because they are cheap. High-priced servants usually are an economy–good things always cost money, but give better satisfaction.
Another common mistake is that Indian hotel prices are low. They are just as high as anywhere else in the world for the accommodations. I have noticed that wherever you go the same amount of luxury and comfort costs about the same amount of money. You pay for all you get in an Indian hotel. The service is bad because travelers are expected to bring their own servants to answer their calls, to look after their rooms and make their beds, and in some places to wait on them in the dining-room. There are no women about the houses. Men do everything, and if they have been well trained as cleaners the hotel is neat. If they have been badly trained the contrary may be expected. The same may be said of the cooking. The landlord and his guest are entirely at the mercy of the cook, and the food is prepared according to his ability and education. You get very little beef because cows are sacred and steers are too valuable to kill. The mutton is excellent, and there is plenty of it. You cannot get better anywhere, and at places near the sea they serve an abundance of fish. Vegetables are plenty and are usually well cooked. The coffee is poor and almost everybody drinks tea. You seldom sit down to a hotel table in India without finding chickens cooked in a palatable way for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and eggs are equally good and plenty. The bread is usually bad, and everybody calls for toast. The deserts are usually quite good.
It takes a stranger some time to become accustomed to barefooted servants, but few of the natives in India of whatever class wear shoes. Rich people, business men, merchants, bankers and others who come in contact on equal terms with the foreign population usually wear them in the streets, but kick them off and go around barefooted as soon as they reach their own offices or their homes. Although a servant may be dressed in elaborate livery, he never wears shoes. The butlers, footmen, ushers and other servants at the government house in Calcutta, at the viceregal lodge at Simla, at the palace of the governor of Bombay, and the residences of the other high officials, are all barefooted.
Everybody with experience agrees that well-trained Hindu servants are quick, attentive and respectful and ingenious. F. Marion Crawford in “Mr. Isaacs” says: “It has always been a mystery to me how native servants manage always to turn up at the right moment. You say to your man, ‘Go there and wait for me,’ and you arrive and find him waiting; though how he transferred himself thither, with his queer-looking bundle, and his lota and cooking utensils and your best teapot wrapped up in a newspaper and ready for use, and with all the hundred and one things that a native servant contrives to carry about without breaking or losing one of them, is an unsolved puzzle. Yet there he is, clean and grinning as ever, and if he were not clean and grinning and provided with tea and cheroots, you would not keep him in your service a day, though you would be incapable of looking half so spotless and pleased under the same circumstances yourself.”
Every upper servant in an Indian household has to have an under servant to assist him. A butler will not wash dishes or dust or sweep. He will go to market and wait on the table, but nothing more. A cook must have a coolie to wash the kitchen utensils, and wait on him. He will do nothing but prepare the food for the table. A coachman will do nothing but drive. He must have a coolie to take care of the horse, and if there are two horses the owner must hire another stable man, for no Hindu hostler can take care of more than one, at least he is not willing to do so. An American friend has told me of his experience trying to break down one of the customs of the East, and compelling one native to groom two horses. It is too long and tearful to relate here, for he was finally compelled to give in and hire a man for every horse and prove the truth of Kipling’s poem:
“It is not good for the Christian race To worry the Aryan brown;
For the white man riles,
And the brown man smiles,
And it weareth the Christian down
And the end of the fight
Is a tombstone white
With the name of the late deceased, And the epitaph clear:
A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East.”
That’s the fate of everybody who goes up against established customs. And so we hired a “bearer.”
There were plenty of candidates. They appeared in swarms before our trunks had come up from the steamer, and continued to come by ones and twos until we had made a selection. They camped outside our rooms and watched every movement we made. They sprang up in our way from behind columns and gate-posts whenever we left the hotel or returned to it. They accosted us in the street with insinuating smiles and politely opened the carriage door as we returned from our drives. They were of all sizes and ages, castes and religions, and, strange to say, most of them had become Christians and Protestants from their strong desire to please. Each had a bunch of “chits,” as they call them–recommendations from previous employers, testifying to their intelligence, honesty and fidelity, and insisted upon our reading them. Finally, in self-defense, we engaged a stalwart Mohammedan wearing a snow-white robe, a monstrous turban and a big bushy beard. He is an imposing spectacle; he moves like an emperor; his poses are as dignified as those of the Sheik el Islam when he lifts his hands to bestow a blessing. And we engaged Ram Zon Abdullet Mutmammet on his shape.
It was a mistake. Beauty is skin deep. No one can judge merit by outside appearances, as many persons can ascertain by glancing in a mirror. Ram Zon, and that was what we called him for short, was a splendid illusion. It turned out that he could not scrape together enough English to keep an account of his expenditures and had to trust to his memory, which is very defective in money matters. He cannot read or write, he cannot carry a message or receive one; he is no use as a guide, for, although information and ideas may be bulging from his noble brow, he lacks the power to communicate them, and, worse than all, he is surly, lazy and a constitutional kicker. He was always hanging around when we didn’t want him, and when we did want him he was never to be found.
Ram had not been engaged two hours before he appeared in our sitting room, enveloped in a dignity that permeated the entire hotel, stood erect like a soldier, brought his hand to his forehead and held it there for a long time–the salute of great respect–and gave me a sealed note, which I opened and found to read as follows:
“Most Honored Sir:–I most humbly beg to inform you this to your kind consideration and generousitee and trusting which will submit myself to your grant benevolence for avoid the troublesomeness to you and your families, that the servant Ram Zon you have been so honorable and benovelent to engage is a great rogue and conjurer. He will make your mind buzzling and will steal your properties, and can run away with you midway. In proof you please touch his right hand shoulder and see what and how big charm he has. Such a bad temperature man you have in your service. Besides he only grown up taller and looks like a dandee as it true but he is not fit to act in case not to disappeared. I beg of you kindly consult about those matters and select and choose much experienced man than him otherwise certainly you could be put in to great danger by his conjuring and into troubles.
“Hoping to excuse me for this troubles I taking, though he is my caste and countryman much like not to do so, but his temperature is not good therefore liable to your honourablesness, etc., etc.”
When I told Ram about this indictment, he stoutly denied the charges, saying that it was customary for envious “bearers” to say bad things of one another when they lost good jobs. We did not feel of his right arm and he did not try to conjure us, but his temperature is certainly very bad, and he soon became a nuisance, which we abated by paying him a month’s wages and sending him off. Then, upon the recommendation of the consul we got a treasure, although he does not show it in his looks.
The hotels of India have a very bad name. There are several good ones in the empire, however, and every experienced traveler and every clubman you meet can tell you the names of all of them. Hence it is not impossible to keep a good hotel in India with profit. The best are at Lucknow and Darjeeling. Those at Caucutta are the worst, although one would think that the vice-regal capital would have pride enough to entertain its many visitors decently.
Bombay at last has such a hotel as ought to be found in Calcutta and all the other large cities, an architectural monument, and an ornament to the country. It is due to the enterprise of the late Mr. J. N. Tata, a Parsee merchant and manufacturer, and it is to be hoped that its success will be sufficient to stimulate similar enterprises elsewhere. It would be much better for the people of India to coax tourists over here by offering them comforts, luxuries and pleasures than to allow the few who do come, to go away grumbling. The thousands who visit Cairo every winter are attracted there by the hotels, for no city has better ones, and no hotels give more for the money. Hence they pay big profits, and are a source of prosperity to the city, as well as a pleasure to the idle public.
The most interesting study in Bombay is the people, but there are several excursions into the country around well worth making, particularly those that take you to the cave temples of the Hindus, which have been excavated with infinite labor and pains out of the solid rock. With their primitive tools the people of ancient times chiseled great caverns in the sides of rocky cliffs and hills and fashioned them after the conventional designs of temples, with columns, pillars, vaulted ceilings, platforms for their idols and pulpits for their priests. The nearest of these wonderful examples of stone cutting is on an island in the harbor of Bombay, called Elephanta, because at one time a colossal stone elephant stood on the slope near the landing place, but it was destroyed by the Portuguese several centuries ago. The island rises about 600 feet above the water, its summit is crowned with a glorious growth of forest, its sides are covered with dense jungles, and the beach is skirted by mangrove swamps. You get there by a steam launch provided by the managers of your hotel, or by Cook & Sons, the tourist agents, whenever a sufficiently large party is willing to pay them for their trouble. Or if you prefer a sail you can hire one of the native boats with a peculiar rigging and usually get a good breeze in the morning, although it is apt to die down in the afternoon, and you have to take your chances of staying out all night. The only landing place at Elephanta Island is a wall of concrete which has been built out across the beach into four or five feet of water, and you have to step gingerly lest you slip on the slime. At the end of the wall a solid stairway cut in the hillside leads up to the temple. It was formerly used daily by thousands of worshipers, but in this degenerate age nobody but tourists ever climb it. Every boat load that lands is greeted by a group of bright-eyed children, who follow the sahibs (gentlemen) and mem-sahibs (ladies) up the stairs, begging for backsheesh and offering for sale curios beetles and other insects of brilliant hues that abound on the island. Coolies are waiting at the foot of the stairs with chairs fastened to poles, in which they will carry a person up the steep stairway to the temple for 10 cents. Reaching the top you find a solid fence with a gateway, which is opened by a retired army officer who has been appointed custodian of the place and collects small fees, which are devoted to keeping the temples clean and in repair.
The island is dedicated to Siva, the demon god of the Hindus, and it is therefore appropriate that its swamps and jungles should abound with poisonous reptiles and insects. The largest of the several temples is 130 feet square and from 32 to 58 feet high, an artificial cave chiseled out of the granite mountain side. The roof is sustained by sixteen pilasters and twenty-six massive fluted pillars. In a recess in the center is a gigantic figure of Siva in his character as The Destroyer. His face is turned to the east and wears a stern, commanding expression. His head-dress is elaborate and crowned by a tiara beautifully carved. In one hand he holds a citron and in the other the head of a cobra, which is twisted around his arm and is reaching towards his face. His neck is adorned with strings of pearls, from which hangs a pendant in the form of a heart. Another necklace supports a human skull, the peculiar symbol of Siva, with twisted snakes growing from the head instead of hair. This is the great image of the temple and represents the most cruel and revengeful of all the Hindu gods. Ten centuries ago he wore altogether a different character, but human sacrifices have always been made to propitiate him. Around the walls of the cave are other gods of smaller stature representing several of the most prominent and powerful of the Hindu pantheon, all of them chiseled from the solid granite. There are several chambers or chapels also for different forms of worship, and a well which receives its water from some mysterious source, and is said to be very deep.
The Portuguese did great damage here several centuries ago in a war with India, for they fired several cannon balls straight into the mouth of the cave, which carried away several of the columns and destroyed the ornamentation of others, but the Royal Asiatic Society has taken the trouble to make careful and accurate repairs.
Although the caves at Elephanta are wonderful, they are greatly inferior in size and beauty to a larger group at Ellora, a day’s journey by train from Bombay, and after that a carriage or horseback ride of two hours. There are 100 cave temples, carved out of the solid rock between the second and the tenth centuries. They are scattered along the base of a range of beautifully wooded hills about 500 feet above the plain, and the amount of labor and patience expended in their construction is appalling, especially when one considers that the men who made them were without the appliances and tools of modern times, knew nothing of explosives and were dependent solely upon chisels of flint and other stones. The greatest and finest of them is as perfect in its details and as elaborate in its ornamentations as the cathedrals at Milan or Toledo, except that it has been cut out of a single piece of stone instead of being built up of many small pieces.
The architect made his plans with the most prodigal detail and executed them with the greatest perfection. He took a solid rock, an absolute monolith, and chiseled out of it a cathedral 365 feet long, 192 feet wide and 96 feet high, with four rows of mighty columns sustaining a vaulted roof that is covered with pictures in relief illustrating the power and the adventures and the achievements of his gods. It would accommodate 5,000 worshippers. Around the walls he left rough projections, which were afterward carved into symbolical figures and images, eight, ten and twelve feet high, of elephants lions, tigers, oxen, rams, swans and eagles, larger than life. Corner niches and recesses have been enriched with the most intricate ornamentation, and in them, still of the same rock, without the introduction of an atom of outside material, the sculptors chiseled the figures of forty or more of the principal Hindu deities. And on each of the four sides is a massive altar carved out of the side of the cliff with the most ornate and elaborate traceries and other embellishment.
Indeed, my pen is not capable of describing these most wonderful achievements of human genius and patience. But all of them have been described in great detail and with copious illustrations in books that refer to nothing else. I can only say that they are the most wonderful of all the human monuments in India.
“From one vast mount of solid stone
A mighty temple has been cored
By nut-brown children of the sun,
When stars were newly bright, and blithe Of song along the rim of dawn–
A mighty monolith.”
The thirty principal temples are scattered along the rocky mountain side within a distance of two miles, and seventy-nine others are in the immediate neighborhood. The smallest of the principal group is 90 feet long, 40 feet wide, with a roof 40 feet high sustained by thirty-four columns. They are all alike in one particular. No mortar was used in their construction or any outside material. Every atom of the walls and ceilings, the columns, the altars and the images and ornaments stands exactly where the Creator placed it at the birth of the universe.
There are several groups of cave temples in the same neighborhood. Some of them were made by the Buddhists, for it seems to have been fashionable in those days to chisel places of worship out of the rocky hillsides instead of erecting them in the open air, according to the ordinary rules of architecture. There are not less than 300 in western India which are believed to have been made within a period of a thousand years. Archaeologists dispute over their ages, just as they disagree about everything else. Some claim that the first of the cave temples antedates the Christian era; others declare that the oldest was not begun for 300 years after Christ, but to the ordinary citizen these are questions of little significance. It is not so important for us to know when this great work was done, but it would be extremely gratifying if somebody could tell us who did it–what genius first conceived the idea of carving a magnificent house of worship out of the heart of a mountain, and what means he used to accomplish the amazing results.
We would like to know for example, who made the designs of the Vishwa Karma, or carpenter’s cave, one of the most exquisite in India, a single excavation 85 by 45 feet in area and 35 feet high, which has an arched roof similar to the Gothic chapels of England and a balcony or gallery over a richly sculptured gateway very similar to the organ loft of a modern church. At the upper end, sitting cross-legged in a niche, is a figure four feet high, with a serene and contemplative expression upon its face. Because it has none of the usual signs and symbols and ornaments that appertain to the different gods, archaeologists have pronounced it a figure of the founder of the temple, who, according to a popular legend, carved it all with his own hands, but there is nothing to indicate for whom the statue was intended, and the various stories told of it are pure conjectures that only exasperate one who studies the details. Each stroke of the chisel upon the surface of the interior was as delicate and exact as if a jewel instead of a granite mountain was being carved.
There are temples to all of the great gods in the Hindu catalogue; there are several in honor of Buddha, and others for Jain, all more or less of the same design and the same style of execution. Those who care to know more about them can find full descriptions in Fergusson’s “Indian Architecture.”
South of Bombay, on the coast, is the little Portuguese colony of Goa, the oldest European settlement in India. You will be surprised to know that there are four or five of these colonies belonging to other European governments within the limits of British India, entirely independent of the viceroy and the authority of Edward VII. The French have two towns of limited area in Bengal, one of them only an hour’s ride from Calcutta. They are entirely outside of the British jurisdiction and under the authority of the French Republic, which has always been respected. The Dutch have two colonies in India also, and Goa, the most important of all, is subject to Portugal. The territory is sixty-two miles long by forty miles wide, and has a population of 446,982. The inhabitants are nearly all Roman Catholics, and the archbishop of Goa is primate of the East, having jurisdiction over all Roman Catholics between Cairo and Hong-Kong.
More than half of the population are converted Hindus, descendants of the original occupants of the place, who were overcome by the Duke of Albuquerque in 1510, and after seventy or eighty years of fighting were converted by the celebrated and saintly Jesuit missionary, St. Francis Xavier. He lived and preached and died in Goa, and was buried in the Church of the Good Jesus, which was erected by him during the golden age of Portugal–for at one time that little kingdom exercised a military, political, ecclesiastical and commercial influence throughout the world quite as great, comparatively speaking, as that of Great Britain to-day. Goa was then the most important city in the East, for its wealth and commerce rivaled that of Genoa or Venice. It was as large as Paris or London, and the viceroy lived in a palace as fine as that occupied by the king. But very little evidence of its former magnificence remains. Its grandeur was soon exhausted when the Dutch and the East India Company came into competition with the Portuguese. The Latin race has never been tenacious either in politics or commerce. Like the Spaniards, the Portuguese have no staying power, and after a struggle lasting seventy years, all of the wide Portuguese possessions in the East fell into the hands of the Dutch and the British, and nothing is now left but Goa, with its ruins and reminiscences and the beautiful shrine of marble and jasper, which the Grand Duke of Tuscany erected in honor of the first great missionary to the East.
THE EMPIRE OF INDIA
India is a great triangle, 1,900 miles across its greatest length and an equal distance across its greatest breadth. It extends from a region of perpetual snow in the Himalayas, almost to the equator. The superficial area is 1,766,642 square miles, and you can understand better what that means when I tell you that the United States has an area of 2,970,230 square miles, without counting Alaska or Hawaii. India is about as large as that portion of the United States lying east of a line drawn southward along the western boundary of the Dakotas, Kansas and Texas.
The population of India in 1901 was 294,361,056 or about one-fifth of the human race, and it comprises more than 100 distinct nations and peoples in every grade of civilization from absolute savages to the most complete and complex commercial and social organizations. It has every variety of climate from the tropical humidity along the southern coast to the frigid cold of the mountains; peaks of ice, reefs of coral, impenetrable jungles and bleak, treeless plains. One portion of its territory records the greatest rainfall of any spot on earth; another, of several hundred thousand square miles, is seldom watered with a drop of rain and is entirely dependent for moisture upon the melting snows of the mountains. Twelve thousands different kinds of animals are enumerated in its fauna, 28,000 plants in its flora, and the statistical survey prepared by the government fills 128 volumes of the size of our census reports. One hundred and eighteen distinct languages are spoken in various parts of India and fifty-nine of these languages are spoken by more than 100,000 people each. A large number of other languages and dialects are spoken by different tribes and clans of less than 100,000 population. The British Bible Society has published the whole or parts of the Holy Scriptures in forty-two languages which reach 220,000,000 people, but leave 74,000,000 without the Holy Word. In order to give the Bible to the remainder of the population of India it would be necessary to publish 108 additional translations, which the society has no money and no men to prepare. From this little statement some conception of the variety of the people of India may be obtained, because each of the tribes and clans has its own distinct organization and individuality, and each is practically a separate nation.
Language. Spoken by Language. Spoken by Hindi 85,675,373 Malayalam 5,428,250 Bengali 41,343,762 Masalmani 3,669,390 Telugu 19,885,137 Sindhi 2,592,341 Marathi 18,892,875 Santhal 1,709,680 Punjabi 17,724,610 Western Pahari 1,523,098 Tamil 15,229,759 Assamese 1,435,820 Gujarathi 10,619,789 Gond 1,379,580 Kanarese 9,751,885 Central Pahari 1,153,384 Uriya 9,010,957 Marwadi 1,147,480 Burmese 5,926,864 Pashtu 1,080,931
The Province of Bengal, for example, is nearly as large as all our North Atlantic states combined, and contains an area of 122,548 square miles. The Province of Rajputana is even larger, and has a population of 74,744,886, almost as great as that of the entire United States. Madras has a population of 38,000,000, and the central provinces 47,000,000, while several of the 160 different states into which India is divided have more than 10,000,000 each.
The population is divided according to religions as follows:
Hindus 207,146,422 Sikhs 2,195,268 Mohammedans 62,458,061 Jains 1,334,148 Buddhists 9,476,750 Parsees 94,190 Animistic 8,711,300 Jews 18,228 Christians 2,923,241
It will be interesting to know that of the Christians enumerated at the last census 1,202,039 were Roman Catholics, 453,612 belonged to the established Church of England, 322,586 were orthodox Greeks, 220,863 were Baptists, 155,455 Lutherans, 53,829 Presbyterians and 157,847 put themselves down as Protestants without giving the sect to which they adhere.
The foreign population of India is very small. The British-born number only 96,653; 104,583 were born on the continent of Europe, and only 641,854 out of nearly 300,000,000 were born outside the boundaries of India.
India consists of four separate and well-defined regions: the jungles of the coast and the vast tract of country known as the Deccan, which make up the southern half of the Empire; the great plain which stretches southward from the Himalayas and constitutes what was formerly known as Hindustan; and a three-sided tableland which lies between, in the center of the empire, and is drained by a thousand rivers, which carry the water off as fast as it falls and leave but little to refresh the earth. This is the scene of periodical famine, but the government is pushing the irrigation system so rapidly that before many years the danger from that source will be much diminished.
The whole of southern India, according to the geologists, was once covered by a great forest, and indeed there are still 66,305,506 acres in trees which are carefully protected. The black soil of that region is proverbial for its fertility and produces cotton, sugar cane, rice and other tropical and semi-tropical plants with an abundance surpassed by no other region. The fruit-bearing palms require a chapter to themselves in the botanies, and are a source of surprising wealth. According to the latest census the enormous area of 546,224,964 acres is under cultivation, which is an average of nearly two acres per capita of population, and probably two-thirds of it is actually cropped. About one-fourth of this area is under irrigation and more than 22,000,000 acres produce two crops a year.
Most of the population is scattered in villages, and the number of people who are not supported by farms is much smaller than would be supposed from the figures of the census. A large proportion of the inhabitants returned as engaged in trade and other employments really belong to the agricultural community, because they are the agents of middlemen through whose hands the produce of the farms passes. These people live in villages among the farming community. In all the Empire there are only eight towns with more than 200,000 inhabitants; only three with more than 500,000, and only one with a million, which is Calcutta. The other seven in order of size are Bombay, Madras, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Rangoon, Benares and Delhi. There are only twenty-nine towns with more than 100,000 inhabitants; forty-nine with more than 50,000; 471 with more than 10,000; 877 with more than 5,000, and 2,134 organized municipalities with a population of 1,000 or more. These municipalities represent an aggregate population of 29,244,221 out of a total of 294,361,056, leaving 265,134,722 inhabitants scattered upon farms and in 729,752 villages. The city population, however, is growing more rapidly than that of the country, because of the efforts of the government to divert labor from the farms to the factories. In Germany, France, England and other countries of Europe and in the United States the reverse policy is pursued. Their rural population is drifting too rapidly to the cities, and the cities are growing faster than is considered healthful. In India, during the ten years from= 1891 to 1901 the city population has increased only 2,452,083, while the rural population has increased only 4,567,032.
The following table shows the number of people supported by each of the principal occupations named:
Agriculture 191,691,731 Earth work and general labor (not agriculture) 17,953,261 Producing food, drink and stimulants 16,758,726 Producing textile fabrics 11,214,158 Personal, household and sanitary 10,717,500 Rent payers (tenants) 106,873,575 Rent receivers (landlords) 45,810,673 Field laborers 29,325,985 General laborers 16,941,026 Cotton weavers 5,460,515 Farm servants 4,196,697 Beggars (non-religious) 4,222,241 Priests and others engaged in religion 2,728,812 Workers and dealers in wood, bamboo, etc. 2,499,531 Barbers and shampooers 2,331,598 Grain and pulse dealers 2,264,481 Herdsmen (cattle, sheep and goats) 2,215,791 Indoor servants 2,078,018 Washermen 2,011,624
Workers and dealers in earthen and stone ware 2,125,225 Shoe, boot and sandal makers 1,957,291 Shopkeepers 1,839,958 Workers and dealers in gold and silver 1,768,597 Cart and pack animal owners 1,605,529 Iron and steel workers 1,475,883 Watchmen and other village servants 1,605,118 Grocery dealers 1,587,225 Sweepers and scavengers 1,518,482 Fishermen and fish curers 1,280,358 Fish dealers 1,269,435 Workers in cane and matting 1,290,961 Bankers, money lenders, etc. 1,200,998 Tailors, milliners and dressmakers 1,142,153 Officers of the civil service 1,043,872 Water carriers 1,089,574 Oil pressers 1,055,933 Dairy men, milk and butter dealers 1,013,000
The enormous number of 1,563,000, which is equal to the population of half our states, are engaged in what the census terms “disreputable” occupations. There are about eighty other classes, but none of them embraces more than a million members.
Among the curiosities of the census we find that 603,741 people are engaged in making and selling sweetmeats, and 550,241 in selling cardamon seeds and betel leaves, and 548,829 in manufacturing and selling bangles, necklaces, beads and sacred threads. There are 497,509 teachers and professors, 562,055 actors, singers and dancers, 520,044 doctors and 279,646 lawyers.
The chewing of betel leaves is one of the peculiar customs of the country, even more common than tobacco chewing ever was with us. At almost every street corner, in the porticos of the temples, at the railway stations and in the parks, you will see women and men, squatting on the ground behind little trays covered with green leaves, powdered nuts and a white paste, made of the ashes of cocoanut fiber, the skins of potatoes and a little lime. They take a leaf, smear it with the lime paste, which is intended to increase the saliva, and then wrap it around the powder of the betel nut. Natives stop at these stands, drop a copper, pick up one of these folded leaves, put it in their mouths, and go off chewing, and spitting out saliva as red as blood. Strangers are frequently attracted by dark red stains upon pavements and floors which look as if somebody had suffered from a hemorrhage or had opened an artery, but they are only traces of the chewers of the betel nut. The habit is no more harmful than chewing tobacco. The influence of the juice is slightly stimulating to the nerves, but not injurious, although it is filthy and unclean.
It is a popular impression that the poor of India live almost exclusively upon rice, which is very cheap and nourishing, hence it is possible for a family to subsist upon a few cents a day. This is one of the many delusions that are destroyed when you visit the country. Rice in India is a luxury that can be afforded only by the people of good incomes, and throughout four-fifths of the country is sold at prices beyond the reach of common working people. Sixty per cent. of the population live upon wheat, barley, fruit, various kinds of pulses and maize. Rice can be grown only in hot and damp climates, where there are ample means of irrigation, and only where the conditions of soil, climate and water supply allow its abundant production does it enter into the diet of the working classes. Three-fourths of the people are vegetarians, and live upon what they produce themselves.
The density of the population is very great, notwithstanding the enormous area of the empire, being an average of 167 to the square mile, including mountains, deserts and jungles, as against 21.4 to the square mile in the United States. Bengal, the province of which Calcutta is the capital, on the eastern coast of India, is the most densely populated, having 588 people to the square mile. Behar in the south has 548, Oudh in the north 531; Agra, also in the north, 419, and Bombay 202. Some parts of India have a larger population to the acre than any other part of the world. The peasants, or coolies, as they are called, are born and live and die like animals. Indeed animals seldom are so closely herded together, or live such wretched lives. In 1900, 54,000,000 people were more or less affected by the famine, and 5,607,000 were fed by the government for several months, simply because there was no other way for them to obtain food. There was no labor they could perform for wages, and those who were fortunate enough to secure employment could not earn enough to buy bread to satisfy the hunger of their families. It is estimated that 30,000,000 human beings starved to death in India during the nineteenth century, and in one year alone, the year in which that good woman, Queen Victoria, assumed the title of empress, more than 5,000,000 of her subjects died from hunger. Yet the population without immigration is continually increasing from natural causes. The net increase during the ten years from 1891 to 1901 was 7,046,385. The, struggle for life is becoming greater every year; wages are going down instead of up, notwithstanding the rapid increase of manufacturing industries, the extension of the railway system and other sources of wealth and employment that are being rapidly developed.
More than 200,000,000 persons in India are living upon less than 5 cents a day of our money; more than 100,000,000 are living upon less than 3 cents; more than 50,000,000 upon less than 1 cent and at least two-thirds of the entire population do not have food enough during any year of their lives to supply the nourishment demanded by the human system. As I have already shown, there are only two acres of land under cultivation for each inhabitant of India. This includes gardens, parks and pastures, and it is not evenly distributed. In many parts of the country, millions are compelled to live upon an average of one-fourth of an acre of land and millions more upon half an acre each, whereas an average of five acres of agricultural land per capita of population is believed to be necessary to the prosperity of a nation.
Few countries have such an enormous birth rate and death rate. Nowhere else are babies born in such enormous numbers, and nowhere does death reap such awful harvests. Sometimes a single famine or plague suddenly sweeps millions into eternity, and their absence is scarcely noticed. Before the present sanitary regulations and inspections were introduced the death rate was nearly double what it is now; indeed, some experts estimate that it must have been several times as great, but no records were kept in some of the provinces, and in most of them, they were incomplete and inaccurate. India is now in a healthier condition than ever before, and yet the death rate varies from 31.10 per 1,000 in the cold provinces of Agra and Oudh to 82.7 per 1,000 in the tropical regions of Behar. In Bombay last year the rate was 70.07 per 1,000; in the central provinces 56.75; in the Punjab, which has a wide area in northwestern India, it was 47.7 and in Bengal 36.63.
The birth rate is almost as large, the following table being reported from the principal provinces named:
Births per Births per 1,000 pop. 1,000 pop. Behar 50.5 Burmah 37.4 Punjab 48.4 Bombay 36.3 Agra 48.9 Assam 35.4 Central provinces 47.3 Madras 31.3 Bengal 42.9
Even with the continual peril from plague and famine, the government does not encourage emigration, as you think would be considered a wise policy, but retards it by all sorts of regulations and restrictions, and it is difficult to drive the Hindus out of the wretched hovels in which they live and thrive and breed like rats or rabbits. The more wretched and comfortless a home, the more attached the natives are to it. The less they have to leave the more reluctant they are to leave it, but the same rule applies to every race and every nation in the south of Europe and the Turkish Empire, in Syria, Egypt, the East India Islands, and wherever the population is dense and wages are low. It is the semi-prosperous middle class who emigrate in the hope of bettering their condition.
There is less emigration from India than from any other country. During the last twenty years the total number of persons emigrating from the Indian Empire was only 316,349, less than come to the United States annually from Italy, and the statistics show that 138,660 of these persons returned to their former homes during that period, leaving the net emigration since 1882 only 177,689 out of 300,000,000 of population. And most of these settled in other British colonies. We have a few Hindu merchants and Parsees in the United States, but no coolies whatever. The coolies are working classes that have gone to British Guiana, Trinidad, Jamaica and other West Indies, Natal, East Africa, Fiji and other British possessions in the Pacific. There has been a considerable flow of workmen back and forth between India and Burma and Ceylon, for in those provinces labor is scarce, wages are high and large numbers of Hindus are employed in the rice paddies and tea plantations.
The government prevents irregular emigration. It has a “protectorate of emigrants” who is intrusted with the enforcement of the laws. Natives of India are not permitted to leave the country unless they are certain of obtaining employment at the place where they desire to go, and even then each intending emigrant must file a copy of his contract with the commissioner in order that he may be looked after in his new home, for the Indian government always sends an agent to protect the interests of its coolies to every country where they have gone in any considerable numbers. Every intending emigrant must submit to a medical examination also, for the navigation laws prohibit vessels from taking aboard any native who does not show a certificate from an official that he is in full possession of his health and faculties and physically fit to earn his living in a strange country. Vessels carrying emigrants are subject to inspection, and are obliged to take out licenses, which require them to observe certain rules regarding space occupied, ventilation, sanitation and the supply of food and water. Most of the emigrants leaving India go out under contract and the terms must be approved by the agent of the government.
The fact that the government and the benevolent people of Europe and America have twice within the last ten years been compelled to intervene to save the people of India from perishing of starvation has created an impression that they are always in the lowest depths of distress and continually suffering from any privations. This is not unnatural, and might under ordinary circumstances be accepted as conclusive proof of the growing poverty of the country and the inability of the people to preserve their own lives. Such a conclusion, however, is very far from the fact, and every visitor to India from foreign lands has a surprise awaiting him concerning its condition and progress. When three-fifths of a population of 300,000,000 have all their eggs in one basket and depend entirely upon little spots of soil for sustenance, and when their crops are entirely dependent upon the rains, and when for a succession of years the rains are not sufficient, there must be failures of harvest and a vast amount of suffering is inevitable. But the recuperative power of the empire is astonishing.
Although a famine may extend over its total length and breadth one season, and require all the resources of the government to prevent the entire population from perishing, a normal rainfall will restore almost immediate prosperity, because the soil is so rich, the sun is so hot, and vegetation is so rapid that sometimes three and even four crops are produced from the same soil in a single year. All the people want in time of famine is sufficient seed to replant their farms and food enough to last them until a crop is ripe. The fact that a famine exists in one part of the country, it must also be considered, is no evidence that the remainder of the empire is not abounding in prosperity, and every table of statistics dealing with the material conditions of the country shows that famine and plague have in no manner impeded their progress. On the other hand they demonstrate the existence of an increased power of endurance and rapid recuperation, which, compared with the past, affords ground for hope and confidence of an even more rapid advance in the future.
Comparing the material condition of India in 1904 with what it was ten years previous, we find that the area of soil under