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Notes of an Overland Journey Through France and Egypt to Bombay by Miss Emma Roberts

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determined, upon my arrival at Bombay, to abstain from making them,
and to judge of it according to its own merits, without reference to
those of the rival presidency. It was impossible, however, to adhere
to this resolution, and being called upon continually to give an
opinion concerning its claims to superiority over Calcutta, I was
reluctantly compelled to consider it in a less favourable point of
view than I should have done had the City of Palaces been left out of
the question.

That Bombay is the rising presidency there can be no doubt, and there
seems to be every probability of its becoming the seat of the Supreme
Government; nothing short of a rail-road between the two presidencies
can avert this catastrophe; the number of days which elapse before
important news reaching Bombay can be known and acted upon by the
authorities of Calcutta rendering the measure almost imperative.
Bengal, too proudly triumphing in her greatness, has now to bear
the mortifications to which she delighted to subject Bombay, a
place contemptuously designated as "a fishing village," while its
inhabitants, in consequence of their isolated situation, were called
"the Benighted."

Steam-communication brought the news to Bombay of the accession of
Queen Victoria to the throne of England, and this event was celebrated
at the same time that the Bengallees were toasting the health of
William the Fourth at a dinner given in honour of his birth-day. "Who
are the Benighted now?" was the universal cry; and the story is told
with great glee to all new arrivals.

Concerning the Anglo-Indian society of Bombay, I do not pretend
to know any thing, or to give opinions which must necessarily be
premature and presumptuous. A round of dinner parties affords little
opportunity of making acquaintance; they are much the same everywhere,
and when a large company is assembled, their agreeability must
entirely depend upon the persons who occupy the neighbouring chairs.

Bombay is accused, with what degree of justice I cannot determine, of
being a place much addicted to scandal and gossip. If this charge be
well founded, it is one which it must share in common with all limited
circles. The love of detraction is unhappily a thoroughly English
vice, flourishing under all circumstances, and quite as prevalent,
though not, perhaps, equally hurtful, in great cities as in the
smallest village. The same people who in London delight in the perusal
of newspapers of the most libellous description, and who read with
avidity every publication which attacks private character, will, when
removed into a congenial sphere, pick their neighbours to pieces; an
amusement which cannot be enjoyed in the metropolis, where happily we
do not know the names of the parties who occupy the adjoining houses.

We are proud of our virtues, not unjustly giving ourselves credit for
many that elevate and refine the human character; but even the most
solid and the most dazzling can scarcely compensate for that one
universal sin, that want of charity, which leads English people
upon all occasions to undervalue and disparage their most intimate
acquaintance. How few will scruple to point out to others the follies
and foibles of their dearest friends, weaknesses which they have
discovered during long and familiar intercourse; and how few will
hesitate to impute the very worst motives for actions which may spring
from a laudable source, or be merely the result of thoughtlessness!
In our most Christian country, the spirit of the Christian religion is
still to be sought, and until we see stronger proofs of its influence
than can at present be shown throughout the United Kingdom, we must
not single out a remote colony as a specimen of the indulgence of a
vice common to us all.

The great evil, which Bombay must share with other communities
similarly constituted, is the want of family ties, and the consequent
loss of all the gentle affections which spring amid a wide domestic
circle. Neither the very old nor the very young are to be found in an
Indian colony; there are few connecting links to bind the sojourners
of a foreign land together; each has a separate interest, and the
result is seen in a general want of sympathy; no one seems to enter
into the views, feelings, hopes, or objects of another. I employ
the word _seems_, since, as a stranger, I can only give my first
impressions upon the subject.

The style of living is more easily described, and its relative
advantages determined. The Anglo-Indian residents of Bombay are,
for the most part, scattered all over the island, living in very
comfortable houses, of no great pretensions to exterior elegance,
yet having for the most part an air of home enjoyment, which suggests
pleasing ideas. One feature is very striking, the porticoes and
verandahs of many being completely covered with luxuriant flowering
creepers, which in Bengal are never suffered to be near the house, in
consequence of the harbour they are supposed to give to insects
and reptiles. The approach to these beautiful screens is, however,
frequently through a cabbage-garden, the expedience of planting out
the unsightly but useful vegetables destined for the kitchen not
having been as yet considered; neither can the gardens at this period
of the year, the cold season, compare with those of Bengal, the
expense of irrigation preventing the inhabitants from devoting so much
time and attention to their improvement, while as yet the natives
have not been encouraged to fill the bazaars with European vegetables.
Pease are spoken of as not being uncommon, but I have only seen them
once, even at the best tables. Neither have cauliflowers, French
beans, or asparagus, made their appearance--vegetables common at
Christmas all over the Bengal presidency.

The interiors of the houses are, generally speaking, more embellished
than those of Calcutta; the greater part have handsome ceilings, and
the doorways and windows are decorated with mouldings, and otherwise
better finished. The walls also are coloured, and often very
tastefully picked out with white or some other harmonizing tint. The
reception-rooms, therefore, have not the barn-like air which detracts
from the magnitude of those of Bengal, and the furniture, if not
always equally splendid, is shown off to greater advantage; but here I
should say the superiority ends.

Some of the small bungalows are very neatly fitted up with boarded
ceilings, a great improvement upon the cloth which conceals the
rafters in those of Bengal; others, however, are canopied with
cloth, and some there are which appear more like summer-houses
than habitations intended for Europeans throughout the year, being
destitute of glass windows, and open to all the winds of heaven.

The frequent changes of the atmosphere which occur in Bombay, and
the danger of a touch of the land-wind, render the absence of glass
windows a very serious evil; they are, however, unknown in the
temporary bungalows erected upon the Esplanade, which seem to be
favourite residences of people who could lodge themselves more
substantially if they pleased. The barn-like thatched roofs of these
dwellings make them rather unsightly objects, though some are redeemed
by a thick drapery of creepers; but the interiors of many are of a
very pavilion-like description, and the singularity of all renders
them interesting to a stranger.

These houses usually consist of two or more principal apartments,
united with each other by means of verandahs, and formed chiefly
of wooden frame-work panelled with canvas, with here and there a
partition of wattle and dab. They have generally large porticoes of
trellice-work in front, sufficiently spacious to allow a carriage to
drive under them, which is thus screened from the sun; these porticoes
being mantled with flowering creepers of many beautiful kinds. A sort
of garden is also formed by plants in tubs, and there is sometimes a
cultivated oval or circular space, which, in such a climate, a very
few weeks will render luxuriant. The fronts of these bungalows
face the sea, and have all the benefit of its breezes, while the
intervening space between the fort forms the parade-ground of the
garrison, and the most esteemed evening drive.

Those who inhabit these bungalows, and who do not rise before the sun,
are subjected to all the inconveniences attending upon field practice,
the firing of musquetry and the war of cannon close to their ears, and
though favourite residences, they seem better suited to persons well
accustomed to all the vicissitudes of Anglo-Indian life than to a
stranger. For my own part, I confess a prejudice in favour of brick
and mortar, glass windows, and chimneys; and though perfectly content,
while travelling, to put up with any accommodation that may offer,
would never willingly settle down for a season in a mansion of canvas,
mat, and bamboo, where the rats have free ingress, and the atmosphere
is filled with innumerable winged insects.

Before the general setting-in of the rains, these bungalows, I am
informed, assume a very damp and tatterdemalion appearance, and when
the skies open their flood-gates, they are obliged to be taken down
and warehoused until the following year. Some of these bungalows are
private property, others are erected by the natives and let to
their tenants at a monthly rent. In some, the sleeping and sitting
apartments are under different roofs; all have a considerable piece of
ground enclosed round them, the allotments to each party being made by
Government, and appertaining to certain appointments in the service.

Beyond these bungalows is the encamping ground, in which certain
temporary sojourners in Bombay either pitch or hire a tent or tents,
the accommodation differing according to the expense incurred. The
superior tents--such, for instance, as that engaged by the late
admiral--are spacious and convenient; a handsome suite of apartments,
consisting of ante-room, drawing-room, and dining-room, partitioned
off by canvas curtains, which could be rolled up at pleasure, were
lighted by chandeliers suspended from the cross-poles and girandoles
against those that supported the roof; the walls were handsomely
lined, the floors covered with thick mats and carpets; nothing being
wanted to render this canvas dwelling equal in comfort and elegance to
the tents of Bengal, excepting glass doors.

The weather, during the cold season in this part of India, is not
nearly so inclement as in Calcutta and the north-western provinces;
nevertheless, it is very desirable to shut out the keen and cutting
wind, which frequently blows during the night. The people here,
however, seem fond of living in tents, and it often happens that
gentlemen especially, who have had good houses of their own over their
heads, go to very considerable expense for the purpose of enjoying the
free air of a camp.

I had an opportunity of seeing the facility and despatch with which
such a change of residence is managed in Bombay. Driving one evening
round the foot of a conical hill overlooking the sea, we met a party
of gentlemen who said that they were looking out for a good place to
pitch their tents, and invited us to dine with them on the following
evening at seven o'clock. As the hill was in our neighbourhood, we
ascertained at eleven o'clock the next morning that there was not a
symptom of habitation upon it; however, we were determined to keep our
engagement, and accordingly arrived at the appointed hour at the point
of the road at which a rude pathway opened.

It was perfectly dark, but we found the place indicated by a cluster
of lamps hanging like a bunch of grapes from a tree; a palanquin was
also in waiting to carry the ladies up the hill in turn. I preferred
walking; and though my shoes and the hem of my gown were covered with
prickles and thorns, which interweaved themselves in an extraordinary
manner through a satin dress, I enjoyed the walk amazingly. A man
with a lanthorn led the way, a precaution always taken in Bombay, on
account of the alleged multitude of the snakes, and at every three or
four yards' distance, another cluster of lamps suspended from a tree
pointed out the way.

In a few minutes we arrived at a platform of table-land on the summit
of the hill, prettily sprinkled with palm-trees, and came upon a scene
full of life, picture, and movement. The white outline of the smaller
tents had a sort of phantom look in the ambiguous light, but the open
doors of the principal one showed a strong illumination. A table,
which we might have supposed to be raised by the hand of an enchanter,
gleaming with silver, cut glass, and wax candles, was absolutely
framed in by the darkness around. Two or three horses picketed under
the trees with their grooms, cowering over fires made upon the ground,
looked very like unearthly chargers, just emerged with their grim
attendants from some subterranean kingdom; while the red glare from
the cooking tents, and the dusky figures moving about, could scarcely
be recognised as belonging to human and every-day life--the whole
scene having a supernatural air.

The interior of the tents was extremely picturesque, fitted up with
odds and ends of foreign products, and looking very like the temporary
haunt of some pirate; tiger skins, rich soft thick rugs of Persian
manufacture, interspersed with Indian mats, covered the floors; the
tents were lined with flags, favouring the notion that the corsair's
bark lay anchored in some creek below; while daggers, and pistols, and
weapons of all kinds, helped out a fanciful imagination to a tale of
wild adventure. The butler of our host had enacted more wonders than
a man; under such circumstances, a repast of fish and curry might
have been considered a great achievement, but we had the three regular
courses, and those, too, of a most _recherche_ kind, with a dessert to
match, all sent up to the point of perfection.

After coffee, I went out to look upon the sea, which lay like a mirror
below the perpendicular height on which I stood; and as my eyes
became accustomed to the darkness of a moonless night, I saw under
new aspects the sombre outlines of those soft hills, whose purple
loveliness I had admired so much during the day.

I spent several pleasant evenings in these tents, which were engaged
by a young nobleman upon his travels for the purpose of escaping from
the annoyances of the Fort, and who, during his short residence under
canvas, had the advantage of the companionship of a friend, to
whose experienced servants he was indebted for the excellence of the

When it is considered that these tents were pitched upon a lonely
spot, upwards of four miles from Bombay and from the bazaars, the
celerity and success with which every thing was managed will appear
quite wonderful. The tents were found to be so cold, that a gentleman
who afterwards joined the party slept in his palanquin; they were
subsequently removed, and now the palm-tree waves its broad leaves
over the lonely hill, and the prowling jackal seeks his meal
elsewhere. Tents such as those now described form the rarer and
brighter specimens, their usual character being very different.

On the Esplanade we step at once from the ground upon a settrinjee,
which bears all the marks of having been well trodden by sandy feet;
an opening at the farther extremity shows the sea, glaring on the eye
with a hot dazzle; a table, a few chairs, with some books and papers,
perhaps, upon the ground, complete the arrangements that are visible;
while, if proceeding farther, we find ourselves in a room fitted up
as a bed-chamber, nearly as small and inconvenient as the cabin of a
ship, with a square aperture in the thin canvas wall for a window.

These tents are dreadfully warm during the day, and exceedingly cold
at night; they are, moreover, notwithstanding their proximity to
the sea, and the benefit of its breezes, filled with mosquitoes, or
sand-flies, which are equally troublesome. Persons who contemplate a
long residence in them, keep out of the cold and heat by erecting a
chopper, or roof, formed of thatch, over them; but, in my opinion,
they are but uncomfortable residences. Many strangers, however,
arriving at Bombay, have no alternative, there being no other place
where they can find equally good accommodation.

An hotel, it appears, has been established in the Fort, but not of a
description to suit private families or ladies; the constant arrival
of steamers full of passengers fills the houses of the residents
with a succession of guests, who would gladly put up at an hotel or
boarding-house, if such could be found, while there are besides
many ladies now in Bombay, whose husbands are in the army, living
uncomfortably either alone or going about from friend to friend's
houses, who would rejoice to be quietly and comfortably established in
a respectable boarding-house. Nothing of the kind, however, appears to
be at present in contemplation, and Bombay can never, with any
degree of justice, presume to call itself England, until it can offer
suitable accommodation to the vast numbers of strangers who land upon
its shores.

European foreigners, who visit Bombay in a commercial capacity, find
it exceedingly _triste_; independently of private society, there is
absolutely no amusement--no play, no concert, no public assembly
of any kind; nor would it be advisable to attempt to establish an
entertainment of this nature, since there would be no chance of its
support. There is a fine building, the Town Hall, well adapted for the
purpose, but its most spacious saloon is suffered to remain empty and
unfurnished; the expense which must be incurred in the purchase
of chandeliers proving sufficient to deter the community from an
undertaking which would serve to add gaiety to a sombre scene.

Those who have visited the Town Hall of Calcutta, and who retain a
recollection of the brilliance of its re-unions, with all their gay
variety of concert, opera, and acted charade, cannot help seeing
that Bombay lags very far behind; it is, therefore, unwise to provoke
comparisons, and the society here should rather pride itself upon what
it will do, than upon what it has done. It is, perhaps, little to be
lamented that merely frivolous amusements should be wholly confined to
the private circles of social life, but there are others which might
be cultivated with infinite advantage to the community at large, and
for which the great room at the Town Hall seems to be most admirably

Whether the native ear is sufficiently refined to relish the superior
performances of music, seems doubtful; but when we see so large
a portion of the society of Bombay composed of Parsee, Hindu, and
Mohamedan gentlemen, we cannot help wishing that some entertainment
should be provided for them which would attract and interest, while
it expanded the mind. A series of lectures upon popular subjects,
illustrated by entertaining experiments, might, I should think, be
introduced with good effect. The wonders of the microscope, laid open
to the eyes of intelligent persons who perfectly understand and
speak English, could scarcely fail to delight and instruct, while
the secrets of phantasmagoria, the astonishing effects produced by
electricity, the movements of the heavenly bodies exhibited in an
orrery, and, indeed, all the arcana of science, agreeably laid open,
would furnish inexhaustible funds of amusement, and lead to inquiries
of the most useful nature. Lectures, also, upon horticulture,
floriculture, &c., might be followed by much practical good; and as
there are many scientific men at the presidency who could assist one
or more lecturers engaged for the purpose, the expense of such an
institution would be materially lessened, while, if it were once
established, the probabilities are in favour of its being supported
by contributions of the necessary models, implements, &c., from the
capitals of Europe.

It is certainly very pleasing to see the numbers of native gentlemen
of all religious persuasions, who enter into the private society
of Bombay, but I could wish that we should offer them some better
entertainment than that of looking on at the eternal quadrille, waltz,
or galoppe. They are too much accustomed to our method of amusing
ourselves to view it in the light in which it is looked upon in many
other parts of India; still, they will never, in all probability,
reconcile it to their ideas of propriety, and it is a pity that we do
not show ourselves capable of something better. Conversation at these
parties is necessarily restricted to a few commonplaces; nothing is
gained but the mere interchange of civility, and the native spectators
gladly depart, perhaps to recreate themselves with more debasing
amusements, without having gained a single new idea.

If meetings once a fortnight, or once a month, could be held at the
Town Hall, for the purpose of diffusing useful knowledge in a popular
manner, they would not only afford amusement at the time, but subjects
also of conversation for the future. Such meetings would give no
offence to that part of the community who are averse, upon religious
principles, to cards and dancing, or dramatic amusements; and if not
rendered too abstruse, and consequently tiresome and incomprehensible
to the general auditor, must necessarily become a favourite method of
passing time now too frequently lost or mis-spent.

The literary and scientific _conversaziones_ given by Lord Auckland,
in Calcutta, afford a precedent for an institution of the kind; the
successful features might be copied, and if there should have been any
failures, the experience thus gained would prevent similar hazards.
There seems to be no good reason why ladies should be excluded, since
the more general and extensive a plan of the kind could be made,
the greater chance there would be of a beneficial exercise of its
influence over society.

There is a very good library attached to the Town Hall, and the germ
of a museum, which would furnish materials for much intellectual
entertainment; and there can be little doubt that, if the proposition
were judiciously made, and properly supported, the wealthy portion
of the native community would subscribe very liberally towards an
establishment so eminently calculated to interest and amuse the youth
of their families. The greater number of the sons of respectable
natives are now receiving their education at the Elphinstone College,
and these young people would understand and appreciate the advantages
of a literary and scientific institution, for the discussion and
illustration of subjects intimately connected with the end and aim
of their studies. In the course of a few years, or even less, many
of these young men would be qualified to take a leading part in the
establishment, and perhaps there would be no greater incentive to the
continuation of studies now frequently abandoned too early, for the
sake of some money-getting pursuit, than the hope that the scientific
acquirements attained at college might be turned to useful account.

A small salary would allure many natives, who, in consequence of the
necessity which they are under of gaining their own bread, are
obliged to engage in some, perhaps not very lucrative, trade, and
who, engrossed in the gathering together o petty gains, lose all the
advantages they might otherwise have derived from a liberal education.
The difficulties which in other parts of our Asiatic territories
stand in the way of the participation of natives in the studies and
amusements of Anglo-Indian residents, in consequence of the difference
of language, are not felt in Bombay.

All the superior classes of natives speak excellent English, the
larger portion expressing themselves with great fluency, and even
elegance. English is spoken in every shop frequented by Europeans, and
there are generally one or two servants in every family who can make
themselves understood in it. The natives form, in fact, a very
large portion of the wealth and intelligence of Bombay, and become,
consequently, an important part of its society. They are the owners
of nearly all the best houses in the island, which are not commonly
either built or purchased, as in Calcutta, by their European tenants.

Many rich native merchants, who reside usually in the Fort, possess
splendid country mansions, to which they retire occasionally, or which
are used merely for the purpose of giving parties to their friends.
These mansions are to be recognised by the abundance of ornament, by
gateways surmounted by nondescript monsters, after the fashion of
the lions or bears of carved stone, which are sometimes seen at the
entrance of a nobleman's grounds in England. At others, they are gaily
painted in a variety of colours, while a profusion of many-coloured
lamps, hanging in the verandah and porticoes on the occasion of every
fete, shed great brilliance on the evening scene. These residences are
scattered all over Bombay, the interiors being all richly furnished,
and many fitted up with infinite taste and elegance.

Although, as I have before remarked, these scattered houses impart an
air of rural enjoyment to the island, yet their being spread over
its whole surface prevents Bombay from appearing to be so important a
place as it is in reality. There is nothing approaching to the idea
of a city to be seen, nothing solid or substantial to indicate
the presence of wealth or of extensive commerce. Calcutta, on the
contrary, offers to the stranger's eye an aspect so striking and
imposing, brings so strongly to the mind the notion that its merchants
are princes, and that it ranks crowned heads amongst its vassals and
its tributaries, that we see at once that it must be the seat of a
powerful and permanently established government. Nor does it seem
possible, even in the event of Bombay taking the ascendance as the
capital of British India, that the proud City of Palaces shall upon
that account dwindle and sink into decay. Stranger things, and even
more melancholy destinies, have befallen the mighty Babylons of the
earth; but with all its faults of situation and of climate, I should
at least, for one, regret the fate that would render the glories of
a city so distinct in its character, and so proudly vying with the
capitals of Europe, a tale of the past. A new direction in the course
of the Ganges may reduce it to a swamp, and its palaces and pleasant
places may be left to desolate creatures, but it will never be
rivalled by any modern creation. The days of Anglo-Indian magnificence
are gone by, and though we may hope for all that is conveyed by the
words _comfort_ and _prosperity_, splendour will no longer form a
feature in the scene.

The climate of Bombay is said to be superior in point of salubrity to
that of Bengal; what is termed the cold season, however, can
scarcely merit the name, there being nothing like the bracing weather
experienced at the same period of the year in the neighbouring
presidency. One peculiarity of Bombay consists in the wind blowing hot
and cold at the same time, so that persons who are liable to rheumatic
pains are obliged to wrap themselves up much more warmly than is
agreeable. While enduring a very uncomfortable degree of heat, a puff
of wind from the land or the sea will produce a sudden revulsion, and
in these alternations the whole day will pass away, while at night
they become still more dangerous. It is said that the hot season
is not so hot as in Bengal, and the absence of punkahs in the
drawing-rooms and bed-chambers favours the statement; but if the
atmosphere be much more sultry in the hot season than it is in what is
by courtesy called cold, it must be rather difficult to bear.

To a stranger in Bombay, it is a great convenience to find so many
persons who speak English, the objection to the engagement of domestic
servants who have acquired the language of their Christian masters not
existing to the same extent here as in Bengal, where, in most cases,
it is a proof of utter worthlessness. Numbers of very respectable
servants, who are found in old established families at this
presidency, speak English, and the greater portion take a pride in
knowing a little of their masters' language. These smatterers are
fond of showing off their acquirements upon all occasions, replying
in English, as far as they are able, to every question asked in
Hindostanee, and delivering their messages in all the words that they
can muster. With few exceptions, the pronunciation of the language
they have acquired is correct; these exceptions consist in the prefix
of _e_ to all words beginning with an _s_, and the addition of the
same letter to every termination to which it can be tacked. Thus they
will ask you to take some _fowlee-stew;_ and if you object to any
thing, say they will bring you _anotheree_. Though very respectful
when addressing their superiors in their native language, the same
degree of propriety is not maintained under the disadvantage of an
incompetent acquaintance with English. Instead of the _khana tear hi_,
'dinner is ready,' they will very unintentionally substitute an abrupt
summons. I was much amused one day, when, being rather late at my
toilette, a servant made his appearance at the door of my apartment,
just as I was quitting it, and said, "You come to dinner." He had been
sent to tell me that it was served, and had not the least idea that he
had not delivered his message with the greatest propriety.

Though, generally speaking, well-behaved and attentive, the domestics
of a Bombay establishment are very inferior in style and appearance
to those of Bengal, the admixture of Portuguese and Parsees, with
Mohammedans and Hindus, forming a motley crew, for all dress in their
national costume, it being impossible to prevail upon people having
so many and such different religious prejudices to assume the same
livery. The Parsees who engage as domestic servants seldom dress well;
the ugly chintz cap will always be a disfigurement, and it is not
often redeemed by the ample robe and handsome shawl which distinguish
the better classes.

The Mohammedans do not wear the beautifully plaited turbans and
well-fitting vests so common in Bengal, while the sailors' jackets
and trowsers, almost universally worn by the Portuguese, a few only
assuming the swallow-tailed coat, are any thing rather than
handsome or becoming. The inferiority of dress exhibited is the more
inexcusable, since the wages of servants in Bombay are much higher
than those of the same class in Bengal, while the difference in
point of number does not make up for the difference in the rate. The
youngest table-servant demands twelve rupees a month, no one will
engage as a butler under twenty, and the remainder are in proportion.
The ayahs' wages are also very high, amounting to from fifteen to
twenty rupees a month; they are certainly, however, more efficient
than the same class of persons in Bengal, undertaking to wash silk
stockings, lace, and fine muslin; they are, generally speaking,
well-conducted and respectable. The dirzees or tailors are very
inferior to their brethren of Bengal, though paid at a much higher
rate, fifteen rupees a month being the common demand. Whenever a
Bengal tailor happens to come round, he is eagerly seized upon, the
reputation of workmen from the rival presidency being deservedly high.
Tailors are indiscriminately Parsees, Mohammedans, or Hindus, the
latter-named being the least desirable, as they will neither eat,
drink, nor cook in a European manner, and are always eager to get away
by half-past four in the afternoon.

The cooks of Bombay are, for the most part, well acquainted with the
culinary art, an advantage for which, according to common report, they
are indebted to Lord Clare. Upon the arrival of that nobleman at the
seat of his government, it is said that he started with horror at the
repast which the hospitality of the island had provided for him. At
this substantial dinner, the ponderous round jostled the sirloin of
beef, saddles and haunches of mutton _vis-a-vis'd_ with each other,
while turkey and ham, tongue and fowls, geese and ducks, filled up the

Lord Clare had either brought a French cook in his train, or sent for
one with the least possible delay, and this accomplished person not
only reformed the _cuisine_ at Government House, but took pupils, and
instructed all who chose to pay for the acquirement in the mysteries
of his art. He found his scholars a very teachable race, and it is
only now necessary to describe the way in which any particular
method should be practised, in order to secure success. They easily
comprehend the directions given, and, what is of equal consequence,
are not above receiving instructions. Through the exertions of these
praiseworthy persons, the tables of Bombay are frequently exceedingly
well served, and nobody is actually obliged to dine upon the huge
joints which still make their appearance.

Turkey maintains its high position, and is, with its accompaniment of
ham, considered indispensable; rounds of boiled salt-beef, plentifully
garnished with carrots, are apparently in high esteem, the carrots
being an importation from England, coming out hermetically sealed
in tin cases. What are considered the dainties of the table consist
chiefly of fresh salmon, preserved by the patent process, Highland
mutton, partridges stuffed with truffles, &c., these things, in
consequence of their rendering the dinner more expensive as well as
more _recherche_, being in great request.

Although the high prices of provisions are adduced as the reason of
the high rate of servants' wages, as compared with those of Bengal,
this increased expenditure, according to the observations I have been
able to make, relates more to the commodities of the native bazaars
than those consumed by Europeans. The necessity of bringing in
supplies from a distance for the consumption of the island occasions
the increase of the price of grain, &c, while probably the demand
for beef, mutton, fowls, &c. not being go great as in Calcutta, these
articles are sold at a lower rate. Buffalo meat is occasionally eaten
by Europeans, a thing unheard of in Bengal; but it is not in any

The tables in Bombay are handsomely appointed, though not with the
same degree of splendour that prevails in Bengal, where the quantity
of plate makes so striking a display. The large silver vases, in which
butter and milk are enclosed in a vessel filled with saltpetre, which
give to the breakfast-tables of Calcutta an air of such princely
grandeur, are not in use here.

The servants are summoned by the exclamation of "Boy" instead of the
_Qui hi_? which is so Indian-like in its expression, and has afforded
a distinguishing _soubriquet_ to the Bengallees. The word _boy_
is said to be a corruption of _bhaee_, 'brother,' a common mode of
salutation all over the East. As it is now employed, it is often very
absurdly answered by a grey-bearded man, who has long lost all title
to the appellation.

Notwithstanding the strength and acknowledged efficiency of the Bombay
police, it is considered expedient in every house to engage a Ramoosee
or watchman, who, while himself a professional thief, is bound in
honour to protect his employer from the depredation of his brethren.
Though, in virtue of this implied compact, the house ought to be
considered sacred, and the Ramoosee entitled to receive his wages for
the protection that his name affords, some there are who insist upon
the display of their watchfulness in a very unwelcome manner.

Occasionally the Ramoosee, more peaceably inclined, settles himself
quietly down to sleep in the verandah, and leaves the family to the
enjoyment of repose; but there are others who disdain thus to eat the
bread of idleness, and who make it a point to raise an alarm every
hour in the night. Personal courage or strength of body is by no means
essential in a Ramoosee, all that is required of him being powerful
lungs; this qualification he cultivates to the utmost, and any thing
more dreadful than the sounds emitted in the dead of the night close
to the window nearest the head of my bed I never heard. I have started
up in the most horrible state of apprehension, fancying that the world
was at an end, while, after calming down all this perturbation,
just as I have been going to sleep again, the same fearful shout has
brought on new alarm. Vainly have I remonstrated, vainly endeavoured
to convince the Ramoosee that his duty to his employers would be
better performed by making these shocking outcries at the road-side;
he is either inflexibly silent, or waging war against my repose; for I
believe that he selects the side of the house devoted to the visit or
for the exercise of his extraordinary faculty; I cannot in any other
way account for the small disturbance he gives to the rest of the

The absolute necessity of paying one of these men, in order to secure
the forbearance of his colleagues, is illustrated by an anecdote
commonly told. It appears that two friends were living together, one
of whom had engaged a Ramoosee, while the other, not imagining it
to be incumbent upon him to incur the same expense, neglected this
precaution. One night, every thing belonging to this unfortunate
chum was stolen. The Ramoosee was summoned, and accused of not
having performed his duty. He boldly denied the charge. "All master's
property is safe," he said; "when master lose any thing, I will
account for it."

The fidelity with which the greater number of natives, however corrupt
in other respects, fulfil all their engagements, the few instances
in which a pledge once given is forfeited, if taken into grave
consideration, would do much towards settling the point at issue
between the Bishop of London and Sir Charles Forbes. The word of a
native, generally speaking, if solemnly given, is a bond never to be
broken, while an oath is certainly not equally binding.

In accusing the natives of a deliberate crime in the commission of
perjury, we do not sufficiently reflect upon the difference of the
religious principles which actuate Christians, and the heinous nature
in their eyes of the sin of calling upon a God of purity to witness
their falsehoods. If we could administer an oath to a native, the
profanation of which would fill him with equal horror, we should find
that he would speak the truth. A case in point occurred lately at
Aden. There are a class of Mohammedans who are great knaves, many
being addicted to cheating and theft: the evidence of these men cannot
be depended upon, since for the value of the most trifling sum they
would swear to any thing. Nevertheless, although they do not hesitate
to call upon God and the Prophet to witness the most flagrant
untruths, they will not support a falsehood if put to a certain test.
When required to swear by a favourite wife, they refuse to perjure
themselves by a pledge which they esteem sacred, and will either
shrink altogether from the ordeal or state the real fact.

The following occurrence is vouched for by an eye-witness: "A Somali
had a dispute with a Banian as to the number of komasies he had paid
for a certain article, swearing by God and the Prophet that he had
paid the price demanded of him for the article in question; but no
sooner was he called upon to substantiate his assertions by swearing
by his favourite wife, than he threw down the article contended for,
and took to his heels with all speed, in order to avoid the much
dreaded oath." It will appear, therefore, that there is scarcely any
class of persons in India so utterly destitute of principle, as to be
incapable of understanding the obligation of an oath, or the necessity
of speaking truth when solemnly pledged to do so, the difficulty being
to discover the asseveration which they consider binding.

In nearly every transaction with servants in India we find them most
unscrupulous respecting the truth of any account which they give, and
yet at the same time they will fulfil every engagement they enter into
with a conscientiousness almost unknown in Christian countries. The
lowest servant of the establishment may be trusted with money, which
will be faithfully appropriated to the purpose for which it was
intended, but certainly they entertain little or no respect for
abstract truth.

The controversy at home concerning the general disregard to accuracy
manifested by the natives of India has caused much consternation here,
and will, I trust, be productive of good. It will show at least to
the large portion of the native community, who can understand and
appreciate the value of the good opinion of the country of which they
are fellow-subjects, the necessity of a strict adherence to veracity,
in order to maintain their pretensions to morality, and it will
evince the superiority of that religion which, as one of its precepts,
teaches a regard for truth.

Willing as I feel to bear testimony to many excellent points in the
native character, I regret to say, that, although they do not deserve
the sweeping accusations brought against them, the standard by which
they are guided is very low. At the same time it must be said, that
the good faith which they observe, upon occasions in which persons
guided by superior lights would be less scrupulous, shows that they
only require a purer religious system to regard truth as we have been
taught to regard it.


* * * * *


* * * * *

Residences for the Governor--Parell--Its Gardens--Profusion of
Roses--Receptions at Government-house--The evening-parties--The
grounds and gardens of Parell inferior to those at Barrackpore--The
Duke of Wellington partial to Parell--Anecdotes of his Grace
in India--Sir James Mackintosh--His forgetfulness of India--The
Horticultural Society--Malabar Point, a retreat in the hot
weather--The Sea-view beautiful--The nuisance of fish--Serious effects
at Bombay of the stoppage of the trade with China--Ill-condition
of the poorer classes of Natives--Frequency of Fires--Houses of the
Parsees--Parsee Women--Masculine air of the other Native Females
of the lower orders who appear in
public--Bangle-shops--Liqueur-shops--Drunkenness amongst Natives
not uncommon here, from the temptations held out--The Sailors'
Home--Arabs, Greeks, Chinamen--The latter few and shabby--Portuguese
Padres--Superiority of the Native Town of Bombay over that of
Calcutta--Statue of Lord Cornwallis--Bullock-carriages--High price and
inferiority of horses in Bombay--Hay-stacks--Novel mode of stacking.

There are three residences for the accommodation of the Governor
of Bombay; one, the Castle, situated within the Fort, has been long
disused, and appropriated to government-offices; a second, at Malabar
Point, is intended as a retreat for the hot weather; Parell, the
third, being the mansion most usually occupied.

Though not built in a commanding position, Parell is very prettily
situated in the midst of gardens, having a rich back-ground of wood,
while, from the upper windows, the eye, after ranging over these
luxuriant groves, catches a view of the sea, and is carried away to
more remote regions by the waving outline of distant hills, melting
into the soft haze until it effaces all their details.

Parell was originally a college of Jesuits, and, after so many
alterations and improvements, that its original occupants would be
puzzled to recognise it, is now rendered worthy of the purpose to
which it is dedicated. The house is an irregular structure, without
pretension to architectural design or ornament, but having something
noble in its appearance, which is helped out by a fine portico and
battlemented roof. The interior is handsome and convenient; two
flights of marble stairs, twelve feet broad, lead into a very spacious
drawing-room, with galleries on either side, and three smaller
drawing-rooms beyond. The terrace over the portico, at the other
end, separated from this suite of apartments by a verandah, is easily
convertible into a fourth reception-room, it being roofed in by an
awning, and furnished with blinds, which in the day-time give a very
Italian air to the whole building.

Though I have never been in Italy, the acquaintance gained of it
through the medium of illustrating pens and pencils makes me fancy
that the island of Bombay, and Parell especially, at this season of
the year (the cold weather), may bear a strong resemblance to that
fair and sunny land.

The gardens of Parell are perfectly Italian, with their fountains and
cypress trees; though regular, they are not sufficiently symmetrical
to offend the eye, the nature of the ground and of the building, which
runs out at right angles, preventing the formality from being
carried beyond its just limit. Price, the most judicious of
landscape-gardeners, would scarcely have desired to alter arrangements
which have quite enough of the varied and the picturesque to
satisfy those who do not contend for eternal labyrinthine mazes and
perpetually waving lines. There is one straight avenue in front, but
the principal carriage-road has just the kind of curve most desirable,
sweeping round some fine trees which group themselves for the purpose
of affording an agreeable diversity.

A broad terrace, overlooking a large tank, runs along one side of the
garden, and beyond, upon a rising hill, are seen the New Horticultural
Gardens, and a part of the picturesque village of Metunga, while the
rest is laid out in small lawns, interspersed with rounds and ovals,
fountains in the centre, surrounded by flower-beds, and flanked by
tall, slender cypresses, and the more rare, delicate, and elegant
species of palms: all this is set off by clumps of mangoes, now
covered with blossoms of dark gold burnishing their green leaves.

It is, indeed, a fair and stately garden, enriched with many native
and foreign productions, both of tree and flower, of great beauty. In
one place, two large trees, on either side a broad gravel walk, are
united by a splendid festoon, formed by a creeper, which bears in the
greatest profusion bell-shaped flowers, at least four inches long, and
of the most beautiful pearly whiteness and fragrant scent. I regret
that my want of botanical knowledge incapacitates me from giving its
name and family. That species of palm which is called the Travellers'
Tree, and which, growing in sandy places, contains in its leaves an
ample supply of fresh water, is to be found here. It resembles the
banana or plantain, in its broad leaves, springing immediately from
the stem, but attains a much greater height, and is altogether very
striking and singular in its appearance.

The wealth of roses at the gardens of Parell seems to exceed all
computation, bushels being collected every day without any apparent
diminution; indeed it may be questioned whether there is in any part
of the world so great a consumption of this beautiful flower as in
Bombay. The natives cultivate it very largely, and as comparatively
few employ it in the manufacture of rose-water, it is gathered and
given away in the most lavish profusion. At Parell, every morning, one
of the gardeners renews the flowers which decorate the apartments
of the guests; bouquets are placed upon the breakfast-table, which,
though formal, are made up after the most approved Parisian fashion,
the natives being exceedingly skilful in the arrangement of flowers.
Vases filled with roses meet the eye in every direction, flowers which
assume their supremacy over all other daughters of Flora, though there
are many beautiful specimens, the common productions of the gardens,
which are rarely found even in hothouses in England.

The society of Bombay enjoys the great advantage arising from the
presence of the ladies of the Governor's family, who have rendered
themselves most deservedly popular by the frequency and the
agreeableness of their entertainments, and the kind attention which
they pay to every invited guest. The slight forms that are kept up at
Government-house are just sufficient to give a somewhat courtly air
to these parties without depriving them of their sociability. Morning
visitors are received once a-week, and upon these occasions Parell
assumes a very gay appearance.

The band, which is an excellent one, is stationed in the hall below,
playing occasionally the most popular compositions of the day, while
its pillared verandah is filled with liveried servants, handsomely
dressed in scarlet, white, and gold. The ample staircases are lined
with flowers, and as the carriages drive up, the aide-de-camps
and other military resident guests are in readiness to receive the
visitors, and to usher them up stairs, and introduce them to the
ladies of the family.

The morning reception lasts from eleven until two, and the numerous
arrivals from distant stations, or from England, officers continually
coming down from the army or the dominions of foreign princes,
give occasion to conversations of great interest, while it forms
a rallying-point to the whole of Bombay. The evening parties are
distinguished for the excellence of the music, the band having
improved greatly under the stimulating influence of the ladies of the
Governor's family, who are all delightful performers, one especially
excelling. In addition, therefore, to their own talents, all the
musical genius of Bombay is put into requisition, and the result is
shown in some very charming episodes between the dancing.

At these evening parties, the brilliance of the lights, and the
beauty of the flowers, which in the supper-room especially are very
tastefully displayed, render the scene extremely attractive. One very
pleasing feature must not be omitted; in the ante-room is placed
a large silver salver, filled with bouquets, which are presented,
according to the Oriental custom, to every guest. The number and
variety of the uniforms, and the large proportion of native gentlemen,
add much to the gaiety of the appearance of these parties, and the
eye most accustomed to European splendour may find pleasure in
roaming over these spacious, well-filled, and brilliantly illuminated

Nor is it the interior alone that attracts; on the still moonlight
nights, which are so beautiful in India, the scenery viewed from the
windows assumes a peculiar and almost magical appearance, looking more
like a painting than living reality. The trees, so motionless that not
a leaf stirs, present a picture of such unbroken repose, that we can
scarcely imagine it to be real; the sky seems to be drawn closer to
us, while the whole breathes of divine art, suggesting poetry and
music and thoughts of Paradise.

In England I remember feeling a longing desire to breathe the
delicious balm, and gaze upon the exquisite effects of an Indian night
again, with its tone of soft beauty and the silvery mystery of its
atmosphere, which adds so great a charm to the rich magnificence of
the foliage; and now I fancy that I can never sufficiently drink in a
scene, not only lovely in itself, but peculiarly delightful from its
contrast to the glare of the day.

The grounds and gardens of Parell, in extent and splendour, will bear
no comparison with those of Barrackpore, which are, perhaps, some of
the finest in the world, and which must be explored in carriages or
on horseback, while the plantations and parterres at this place offer
nothing more than agreeable walks, which perhaps, after all, afford
superior gratification; at least to those who prefer a feeling of home
to the admiration elicited by great splendour.

Not one of the least pleasing sensations excited by a residence at
Parell, is the recollection of the distinguished persons who have
inhabited the same chambers, and sat in the same halls. The Duke
of Wellington is said frequently to have expressed a partiality for
Parell, and to look back to the days of his sojourn within its walls
with pleasure. Here he reposed after those battles in which he
laid the foundation of his future glory, and to which, after long
experience, and so many subsequent triumphs as almost to eclipse
their splendour, he recurs with peculiar satisfaction. So far from
underrating, as is the fashion with many of the military servants of
the Crown, the merits of a successful campaign in India, the great
captain of the age, than whom there can be no better judge, rates the
laurels that he gathered in his earliest fields as highly as those
wrested from the soldiers of France, glorying in the title given him
by Napoleon, of "the Sepoy General."

Few things can be more agreeable than listening to anecdotes told at
the dinner-table at Parell of the Duke of Wellington by officers who
have formerly sat at the same board with him, who have served under
his command in India, and who delight in recording those early traits
of character which impressed all who knew him with the conviction that
he was destined to become the greatest man of the age. The Duke of
Wellington, though wholly unacquainted with the language spoken in
India, was always held in the highest esteem by the natives, with
whom, generally speaking, in order to become popular, it is absolutely
necessary to be able to converse in their own tongue. He obtained,
however, a perfect knowledge of their modes of feeling, thinking, and
acting, and by a liberal policy, never before experienced, endeared
himself to all ranks and classes. It is recollected at this day
that, in times of scarcity, he ordered all the rice sent up for the
subsistence of the troops to be sold, at a moderate price, to
the starving multitude; and that, while more short-sighted people
prophesied the worst results from this measure, it obtained for him
abundant supplies, together with a name that will never be forgotten.

A re-perusal at Parell of the "Life of Sir James Mackintosh" also
affords interest, though of a different kind. The house which Sir
James designates as large and convenient, with two really good rooms,
has been much improved since his time. It could not be expected that
a man like Sir James Mackintosh would employ many words in the
description of a mansion chiefly interesting on account of its
former occupants; but that he should have dismissed the whole of the
presidency in as summary a manner, seems perfectly unaccountable.

It does not appear that the importance and value of British India ever
made any strong impression upon Sir James Mackintosh, who seems to
have looked upon its various inhabitants with a cold and careless eye;
to have done nothing in the way of making the people of England better
acquainted with their fellow-subjects in the East, and never to have
felt any desire to assist in the work of their improvement, or to
facilitate its progress. During his subsequent career, India appears
to have been totally forgotten, or remembered only as the scene of
an exile, in which he had found nothing to compensate for the loss of
literary society and the learned idling away of time, from which so
much was expected, and which produced so little.

The eloquence of Sir James Mackintosh, if exerted in favour of British
India, might, years before, have excited that interest in its behalf,
which remained dormant until Bishop Heber created a new feeling upon
the subject; and in this place especially, I cannot help regretting
that the powers of so great a mind should not have been devoted to
the promotion of the welfare of a country dependant upon England for
intellectual and moral improvement, and which, in the eyes of all
reflecting persons, must be looked upon as the strongest support of
England's ancient glory.

The garden of the Horticultural Society, which occupies a convenient
space of ground near Parell, is yet in an infant state, but bids fair
in a short time to add very considerably to the pleasures of those
persons who take delight in the cultivation of flowers and fruits.
Many gentlemen are stimulating their gardeners to make great exertions
for the prizes, which it is expected will be chiefly carried away at
the ensuing meeting by exhibitors from the Deccan. Though there are
several very good gardens in the island, they are, according to all
accounts, greatly excelled in other parts of the presidency.

The system of cultivation carried on by the Horticultural Society
will, no doubt, tend very considerably to their improvement, while the
new method of conveying plants to and from distant places, in boxes
covered with glass, will soon enrich all the gardens, both in India
and at home, with interesting exotics. Several of these cases,
filled with bulbous and other roots, under the inspection of Messrs.
Loddiges, have arrived at Parell, and been planted out in pots; the
eases will be returned, filled with equally valuable specimens of
Indian products; and thus a continual interchange may be kept up.

I wished much to enrich the collection of foreign plants making by
the Royal Botanical Society of London, by some of the most interesting
specimens of Indian growth, feeling deeply interested in the success
of this institution; but not being a practical gardener myself, I have
as yet been unable to fulfil my intentions. I calculated, perhaps,
too strongly upon the desire of scientific people in Bombay to promote
objects of general utility at home, and see little chance, unless I
do every thing relating to the collecting, planting, packing, and
transmitting the plants with my own hands, of succeeding in sending
any thing to England. Indeed, I find a difficulty in procuring a
_hortus siccus_.

As every body, who can possibly get away, leaves Bombay during the hot
weather and the rains, the residence at Malabar Point, intended as
a retreat in the sultry season, is seldom tenanted by the Governor's
family. The house, however, is not very often empty, being generally
occupied by some great person and his suite, such as newly-arrived
commanders-in-chief, who are accommodated at this establishment until
they can provide for themselves. The principal residence, and
several bungalows attached to it, are erected on the side of a hill
overlooking and washed by the sea. The views are beautiful, the
harbour affording at all times a scene of great liveliness and
interest, while the aerial summits of the hills in the distance, and
their purple splendours, complete the charm. The numerous fairy-like
skiffs, with their white sails, catching the sunlight, give life and
movement to the picture, while the cottages of the fishermen are often
placed with happy effect upon the neighbouring shore.

There are, unfortunately, serious drawbacks to the enjoyment which
the eye derives from the gliding boats and palm-crowned huts; the
amusement of _yachting_ being seriously impeded by the method of
spreading nets, for the purpose of capturing the finny tribes, while,
in consequence of the immense quantity which is caught, the whole
island occasionally smells of fish. The fishermen have certain places
secured to them by law, in which they drive immense stakes, usually
the trunks of palm-trees, and between these stakes they fasten their
nets, any damage done to them by passing boats being punishable by a
fine; the navigation of the harbour, to those who wish to visit its
beautiful islands, is, in consequence, rather difficult, and would
scarcely admit of being carried on by those small steamers, which render
every place in the neighbourhood of Calcutta so accessible.

The boats here, with the exception of private yachts, which are not
numerous, are a disgrace to a civilized place. Nothing can be easily
imagined to be worse than the pattamars usually employed for the
conveyance of troops and travellers to distant points; they are dirty,
many so low in the roof that the passengers cannot stand upright in
them, and filled with insects and vermin.

The abundance and cheapness of fish render it the common food of the
lower classes, and consequently its effluvia sometimes pervade the
whole atmosphere. The smell of frying fish, with its accompaniment of
oil, is sufficiently disagreeable; but this is not all; a much more
powerful odour arises from fish drying for future use, while, as it
is commonly spread over the fields and employed as manure, the scents
wafted by the breezes upon these occasions breathe any thing but

There are many very delicate kinds of fish, which are held in great
esteem, to be seen at European tables; but, to a stranger, the
smell of the refuse allowed to decay is quite enough, and habit must
reconcile the residents of Bombay to this unpleasant assailant of
the olfactory nerves, before they can relish the finest specimens
of pomfret or other favourite. As it can always be purchased freshly
caught, fish appears at dinner as well as at the breakfast-table in
Bombay; the list of shell-fish includes oysters, which, though not
so tempting in their appearance as those of England, are of excellent

The fishermen, like those of Europe, leave the sale of their fish to
their wives, who are said to be a busy, bustling, active race, quite
equal to the tasks which devolve upon them, and, in consequence of the
command which their occupation gives them over the pecuniary receipts
of the house, exerting a proportionate degree of authority.

Fishermen's huts, though very picturesque, are not usually remarkable
for their neatness or their cleanliness, and those of Bombay form no
exception to their general appearance. They are usually surrounded by
a crowd of amphibious animals, in the shape of tribes of children, who
for the most part are perfectly free from the incumbrance of drapery.
Many, who have not a single rag to cover them, are, notwithstanding,
adorned with gold or silver ornaments, and some ingeniously transform
a pocket-handkerchief into a toga, or mantle, by tying two ends round
the throat, and leaving the remainder to float down behind, so that
they are well covered on one side, and perfectly bare on the other.
Amid the freaks of costume exhibited at Bombay, an undue preference
seems to be given to the upper portion of the person, which is
frequently well covered by a warm jacket with long sleeves, while the
lower limbs are entirely unclad.

There is said to be cotton goods to the amount of a million sterling
lying in the godowns and warehouses of Bombay, unemployed, in
consequence of the stoppage of the China trade, and it seems a pity
that the multitudes who wear gold chains about their necks, and gold
ear-rings in their ears, could not be prevailed upon to exchange a
part of this metal for a few yards of covering of some kind or other,
of which apparently they stand much in need.

Great numbers of the poorer classes seem to be ill-fed, ill-lodged,
and worse clothed; yet scantiness in this particular is certainly not
always the result of poverty, as the redundance of precious ornaments
above mentioned can witness. Neither does the wretched manner in which
many belonging to the lower orders of Bombay shelter themselves from
the elements appear to be an absolute necessity, and it is a pity that
some regulations should not be made to substitute a better method
of constructing the sheds in which so many poor people find a
dwelling-place. The precaution of raising the floor even a few inches
above the ground is not observed in these miserable hovels, and their
inhabitants, often destitute of bedsteads, sleep with nothing but a
mat, and perhaps not even that, between them and the bare earth.

At this season of the year, when no rain falls, the palm-branches with
which these huts are thatched are so carelessly placed, as to present
large apertures, which expose the inmates to sun-beams and to dews,
both of which, so freely admitted into a dwelling, cannot fail to
produce the most injurious effects. Were these houses raised a foot or
two from the ground, and well roofed with the dry palm-branches, which
seem to supply so cheap and efficient a material, they would prove
no despicable abodes in a country in which only at one season of the
year, the rains, very substantial shelter is required.

As it may be supposed, conflagrations are frequent in these hovels;
they are fortunately seldom attended with loss of life, or even of
much property, since the household furniture and wardrobes of the
family can be easily secured and carried off, while the people
themselves have nothing to do but to walk out. On these occasions, the
rats are seen to decamp in large troops, and gentlemen, returning
home from drives or parties, are often arrested by a fire, and by the
instructions they afford, do much towards staying the progress of the
flames, while the greater number of natives, Parsees in particular,
look quietly on, without offering to render the slightest assistance.
Whole clusters of huts are in this manner very frequently entirely
consumed; the mischief does not spread farther, and would be little to
be lamented should it lead to the entire demolition of dwelling-places
equally unsightly, and prejudicial to health.

Much to my astonishment, I have seen, in the midst of these very
wretched tenements, one superior to the rest placed upon a platform,
with its verandah in front, furnished with chairs, and surrounded
by all the dirt and rubbish accumulated by its poverty-stricken
neighbours, miserable-looking children picking up a scanty
subsistence, and lean cats groping about for food. Such houses
are, besides, exposed to all the dangers of fire originating in
the adjoining premises; but apparently this circumstance has been
overlooked, together with the expediency of building a little apart
from the horrors of the surrounding abominations. This is the more
remarkable, from the contrast it affords to the air of comfort which
is so often manifest in the inferior dwellings of the natives of

I often, in my drives, come upon a small patch of ground, well
cultivated, and boasting vegetables, fruits, and flowers, with a small
low-roofed house of unbaked mud in one corner, having a verandah all
round, well tiled and supported on bamboos. It is difficult under this
sloping roof to get a peep at the interior, but my efforts have been
rewarded by the sight of floors cleanly swept, bedsteads, and those
articles of furniture which can scarcely be dispensed with without
suffering considerable privation.

As yet, I have not been able to discover to what class of persons
these kind of dwellings belong, but I suspect that they are tenanted
chiefly by Parsees, a money-getting and luxurious race of people,
who are sufficiently industrious to exert themselves, with great
perseverance, to gain a living, and have the spirit to spend their
money upon the comforts and conveniences of life. They are accused of
extravagance in this particular, and perhaps do occasionally exceed;
but, generally speaking, their style of living is more commendable
than that of the Hindus, who carry their thrift and parsimony to an
outrageous height.

Near their houses very graceful groups of Parsee women and children
are to be seen, who, upon the encouragement afforded by a smile,
_salaam_ and smile again, apparently well-pleased with the notice
taken of them by English ladies. These women are always well-dressed,
and most frequently in silk of bright and beautiful colours, worn as
a _saree_ over a tight-fitting bodice of some gay material. The manner
in which the saree is folded over the head and limbs renders it a
graceful and becoming costume, which might be imitated with great
propriety by the Hindu women, who certainly do not appear to study
either taste or delicacy in their mode of dress.

I may have made the remark before, for it is impossible to avoid the
recurrence of observations continually elicited by some new proofs of
the contrast between the women upon this side of India, and their more
elegant sisters on the banks of the Hooghly. Here all the women, the
Parsees excepted, who appear in public, have a bold masculine air;
any beauty which they may have ever possessed is effaced, in the very
lower orders, by hard work and exposure to the weather, while those
not subjected to the same disadvantages, and who occupy a better
situation, have little pretensions to good looks. Many are seen
employed in drawing water, or some trifling household work, wearing
garments of a texture which shews that they are not indebted to
laborious occupation for a subsistence; and while the same class in
Bengal would studiously conceal their faces, no trouble whatever
of the kind is taken here. They are possibly Mahrattas, which will
account for their carelessness; but I could wish that, with superior
freedom from absurd restraint, they had preserved greater modesty of

The number of shops in the bazaars for the sale of one peculiar
ornament, common glass rings for bracelets, and the immense quantities
of the article, are quite surprising; all the native women wear these
bangles, which are made of every colour. The liqueur-shops are also
very common and very conspicuous, being distinguished by the brilliant
colours of the beverage shown through bottles of clear white glass.
What pretensions this rose and amber tinted fluid may have to compete
with the liqueurs most esteemed in Europe, I have not been able to
learn. Toddy-shops, easily recognised by the barrels they contain
upon tap, and the drinking-vessels placed beside them, seem almost as
numerous as the gin-palaces of London, arguing little for the sobriety
of the inhabitants of Bombay. In the drive home through the bazaar,
it is no very uncommon circumstance to meet a group of
respectably-dressed natives all as tipsy as possible.

It is on account of the multitude of temptations held out by the
toddy-shops, that the establishment I have mentioned as the Sailors'
Home is so very desirable, by affording to those who really desire to
live comfortably and respectably, while on shore, the means of doing
both. Here they may enjoy the advantages of clean, well-ventilated
apartments, apparently, according to what can be seen through the open
windows, of ample size; and here they may, if they please, pass their
time in rational employment or harmless amusement. Groups of sun-burnt
tars, with their large straw hats and honest English faces, are often
to be seen mingled with the crowd of Asiatics, of whom every day seems
to show a greater variety.

I saw three or four very remarkable figures last evening; one was an
extremely tall and handsome Arab, well dressed in the long embroidered
vest, enveloping an ample quantity of inner garments, which I have
so often seen, but of which I have not acquired the name, and with a
gaily-striped handkerchief placed above the turban, and hanging down
on either side of his face. This person was evidently a stranger,
for he came up to the carriage and stared into it with the strongest
expression of surprise and curiosity, our dress and appearance seeming
to be equally novel and extraordinary to this child of the desert.
Shortly afterwards, we encountered a Greek, with luxuriant black
ringlets hanging down from under a very small scarlet and gold cap;
the others were Jews, very handsome, well-dressed men, profusely
enveloped in white muslin, and with very becoming and peculiar caps on
their heads.

I regret to see my old friends, the China-men, so few in number, and
so shabby in appearance; yet they are the only shoemakers here, and it
ought to be a thriving trade. Their sign-boards are very amusing; one
designating himself as "Old Jackson," while a rival, close at hand,
writes "Young Jackson" upon his placard; thus dividing the interest,
and endeavouring to draw custom from the more anciently established

The Portuguese padres form striking and singular groups, being dressed
in long black gowns, fitting tightly to the shape, and descending to
their feet. They seem to be a numerous class, and I hope shortly
to see the interiors of some of their churches. A very large,
handsome-looking house was pointed out to us by one of the servants of
whom we made the inquiry, as belonging to a Portuguese padre; it
was situated near the cloth bazaar, and I regretted that I could not
obtain a better view of it.

My predilection for exploring the holes and corners of the native town
is not shared by many of the Anglo-Indian residents of Bombay, who
prefer driving to the Esplanade, to hear the band play, or to a place
on the sea-shore called the Breach. I hope, however, to make a tour of
the villages, and to become in time thoroughly acquainted with all the
interesting points in the island, the variety and extent of the rides
and drives rendering them most particularly attractive to a traveller,
who finds something interesting in every change of scene.

I have accomplished a second drive through the coco-nut gardens on the
Girgaum road, a name by which this quarter of the native town is
more commonly known; the view thus obtained only excited a desire to
penetrate farther into the cross-lanes and avenues; but as I do not
ride on horseback, I have little chance of succeeding, since I could
not see much from a palanquin, and taun-jauns, so common in Calcutta,
are scarcely in use here. The more I see of what is called the Native
Town in Bombay, the more satisfied I am of its great superiority
over that of Calcutta; and I gladly make this admission, since I have
found, and still continue to find, so great a falling-off in the style
of the dress, whether it relates to form, material, or cleanliness. I
have lately observed a very handsome turban, which seems worn both by
the Mohammedans and Hindus, of red muslin, with gold borders, which is
an improvement.

A taste for flowers seems universal, plants in pots being continually
to be seen on the ledges of the porticoes and verandahs; these are
sometimes intermingled with less tasteful ornaments, and few things
have struck me as more incongruous than a plaster bust of a modern
English author, perched upon the top of a balustrade over the portico
of a house in the bazaar; mustachios have been painted above the
mouth, the head has been dissevered from the shoulders, and is now
stuck upon one side in the most grotesque manner possible, looking
down with half-tipsy gravity, the attitude and the expression of the
countenance favouring the idea, upon the strange groups thus oddly
brought into juxta-position. The exhibition is a droll one; but it
always gives me a painful feeling: I do not like to see the effigy of
a time-honoured sage abased.

The statue of Lord Cornwallis, on the Esplanade--which, being
surrounded by sculptured animals, not, I think, in good taste,
might be mistaken for Van Amburgh and his beasts--is close to a spot
apparently chosen as a hackney-coach stand, every kind of the inferior
descriptions of native vehicles being to be found there in waiting.

Some of the bullock-carriages have rather a classical air, and
might, with a little brushing up and decoration, emulate the ancient
triumphal car. They are usually dirty and shabby, but occasionally
we see one that makes a good picture. The bullocks that draw it are
milk-white, and have the hanging dewlap, which adds so greatly to the
appearance of the animal; the horns are painted blue, and the forehead
is adorned with a frontlet of large purple glass beads, while bouquets
of flowers are stuck on either side of the head, after the manner of
the rosettes worn by the horses in Europe.

A very small pair of milk-white bullocks, attached to a carriage of
corresponding dimensions, merely containing a seat for two persons,
is a picturesque and convenient vehicle, which will rattle along the
roads at a very good pace. These bullocks usually have bells attached
to their harness, which keep up a perpetual and not disagreeable
jingle. The distances between the European houses are so great,
and the horses able to do so little work, that it seems a pity that
bullocks should not be deemed proper animals to harness to a shigram
belonging to the _saib logue_: but fashion will not admit the adoption
of so convenient a means of paying morning visits, and thus sparing
the horses for the evening drive.

Great complaints are made about the high price and the inferiority of
the horses purchaseable in Bombay, a place in which the Arab is not
so much esteemed as I had expected. Some difficulty was experienced
in obtaining very fine specimens of this far-famed race for the Queen,
who gave a commission for them. I had the pleasure of seeing four that
are going home in the _Paget_, destined for her Majesty's stables.

The Imaum of Muscat lately sent a present of horses to Bombay, but
they were not of high caste; those I have mentioned, as intended for
the Queen, being of a much finer breed. They are beautiful creatures,
and are to be put under the care of an English groom, who has the
charge of some English horses purchased in London for a native Parsee
gentleman. From the extent of the Arab stables, and the number of Arab
horse-merchants in Bombay, it would appear easy to have the choice
of the finest specimens; but this is not the case, while various
circumstances have combined to reduce the numbers of native horses,
which were formerly readily procurable. Thus, the fine breed of
Kattywar is not now attainable, and the same value does not appear to
be set upon horses from Kutch and the Deccan, which in other parts
of India are esteemed to be so serviceable. Persian horses are
little prized; and those imported from England, though very showy and
handsome, will not do much work in this climate, and are therefore
only suited to rich people, who can keep them for display. The
stud-horses bred near Poonah do not come into the market so freely as
in the Bengal presidency, where they are easily procurable, and are
sought after as buggy and carriage horses. Old residents, I am told,
prefer the Arabs, the good qualities of these celebrated steeds
requiring long acquaintance to be justly appreciated, while persons
new to the country can see nothing but faults in them.

A novel feature in Bombay, to persons who have only visited the other
side of India, is found in the hay-stack, the people having discovered
the advantage of cutting and drying the grass for future use. Immense
numbers of carts, drawn by bullocks and loaded with hay, come every
day into the island; this hay is stacked in large enclosures built
for the purpose, and can be purchased in any quantity. There are large
open spaces, near tanks or wells, on the road-side, which give the
idea of a hay-market; the carts being drawn up, and the patient
bullock, always an accompaniment to an Indian rural scene, unyoked,
reposing on the ground. The drivers, apparently, do not seek the
shelter of a roof, but kindle their cooking-fires on the flats on the
opposite side of the road, and sleep at night under the shelter of
their carts. The causeway which unites the island of Bombay with
its neighbour, Salsette, affords a safe and convenient road, greatly
facilitating the carriage of supplies of various kinds necessary for
the consumption of so populous a place.

The villagers at Metunga, and other places, make as much hay as their
fields will supply for their own use, and have hit upon a singular
method of stacking it. They choose some large tree, and lodge the hay
in its branches, which thus piled up, assumes the appearance of an
immense bee-hive. This precaution is taken to preserve the crop
from the depredations of cattle, and, if more troublesome, is less
expensive than fencing it round. From the miserably lean condition of
many of the unfortunate animals, which their Hindu masters worship and
starve, it would appear that, notwithstanding its seeming abundance,
they are very scantily supplied with hay. It is a pity that some
agriculturist does not suggest the expedience of feeding them upon
fish, which, as they are cleanly animals, they would eat while fresh.


* * * * *


* * * * *

The Climate of Bombay treacherous in the cold season--The land-wind
injurious to health--The Air freely admitted into Rooms--The
Climate of the Red Sea not injurious to Silk dresses--Advice to
lady-passengers on the subject of dress--The Shops of Bombay badly
provided--Speculations on the site of the City, should the seat of
Government be removed hither--The Esplanade--Exercise of Sailors
on Shore and on Ship-board--Mock-fight--Departure of Sir Henry
Fane--Visit to a fair in Mahim Wood--Prophecy--Shrine of Mugdooree
Sahib--Description of the Fair--Visit to the mansion of a
Moonshee--His Family--Crowds of Vehicles returning from the
Fair--Tanks--Festival of the _Duwallee_--Visit to a Parsee--Singular
ceremony--The Women of India impede the advance of improvement--They
oppose every departure from established rules--Effect of Education in
Bombay yet superficial--Cause of the backwardness of Native Education.

Every day's experience of the climate of Bombay assures me that, in
what is called the cold season, at least, it is the most treacherous
in the world; and that, moreover, its dangers are not sufficiently
guarded against by the inhabitants. Cold weather, such as takes place
during the period from November to March, in all parts of Bengal, is
not felt here, the days being more or less sultry, and tempered only
by cold, piercing winds.

The land-wind, which blows alternately with the sea-breezes, comes
fraught with all the influences most baneful to health; cramps,
rheumatic pains, even head-aches and indigestion, brought on by cold,
are the consequences to susceptible persons of exposure to this wind,
either during the day or the night: so severe and so manifold are
the pains and aches which attend it, that I feel strongly inclined to
believe that Bombay, and not "the vexed Bermoothes," was the island
of Prospero, and that the plagues showered upon Caliban still remain.
Though the progress of acclimation can scarcely fail to be attended by
danger to life or limb, the process, when completed, seems to be very
effectual, since little or no pains are taken by the old inhabitants
to guard against the evil.

Some of the withdrawing-rooms of Bombay are perfectly open at either
end, and though the effect is certainly beautiful--a charming living
landscape of wood and water, framed in by the pillars at the angles of
the chamber--yet it is enjoyed at too great a risk. Dining-rooms are
frequently nearly as much exposed, the aim of everybody apparently
being to admit as great a quantity of air as possible, no matter from
what point of the compass it blows. Strangers, therefore, however
guarded they may be in their own apartments, can never emerge from
them without incurring danger, and it is only by clothing themselves
more warmly than can be at all reconciled with comfort, that they can
escape from rheumatic or other painful attacks.

These land-winds are also very destructive to the goods and chattels
exposed to them; desks are warped and will not shut, leather gloves
and shoes become so dry that they shrink and divide, while all
unseasoned wood is speedily split across. It is said that the hot
weather is never so fierce in Bombay as in Bengal, the sea-breezes,
which sometimes blow very strongly, and are not so injurious as those
from the land, affording a daily relief.

It may be necessary, for the advantage of succeeding travellers,
to say that, in passing down the Red Sea, in the autumn and winter
months, no danger need be apprehended from the effects of the climate
upon coloured silks. It was not possible for me to burthen myself with
tin cases, and I was obliged to put my wearing apparel, ribbons, &c,
into portmanteaus, with no other precaution than a wrapper of brown
paper. Nothing, however, was injured, and satin dresses previously
worn came out as fresh as possible: a circumstance which never happens
in the voyage round the Cape.

And now, while upon the subject of dress, I will further say, that it
is advisable for ladies to bring out with them to Bombay every thing
they can possibly want, since the shops, excepting immediately after
the arrival of a ship, are very poorly provided, while the packs, for
few have attained to the dignity of tin boxes, brought about by the
hawkers, contain the most wretched assortment of goods imaginable. The
moment, therefore, that the cargo of a vessel hag been purchased
by the retail dealers, all that is really elegant or fashionable is
eagerly purchased, and the rejected articles, even should they be
equally excellent, when once consigned to the dingy precincts of
a Bombay shop, lose all their lustre. The most perfect bonnet that
Maradan ever produced, if once gibbeted in one of Muncherjee's
glass-cases, could never be worn by a lady of the slightest
pretensions. Goods to the amount of L300 were sold in one morning,
it is said, in the above-mentioned worthy's shop, and those who were
unable to pay it a visit on the day of the opening of the cases, must
either content themselves with the leavings, or wait the arrival of
another ship.

It is but justice to Miss Lyndsay, the English milliner, to say that
she always appears to be well provided; but as her establishment
is the only one of the kind in Bombay, there must necessarily be a
sameness in the patterns of the articles made up. The want of
variety is the evil most strongly felt in Anglo-Indian toilets; and,
therefore, in preparing investments, large numbers of the same pieces
of silk ribbons should be avoided, nobody liking to appear in a
general uniform, or livery.

The stoppage of the China trade has cut off one abundant source
of supply, of which the ladies of Bombay were wise enough to avail
themselves. It is difficult now to procure a morsel of China silk in
the shops, and there appears to be little chance of any goods of the
kind coming into the market, until the present differences between
Great Britain and the Celestial Empire shall be adjusted. With
the exception of the common and trifling articles brought about by
hawkers, every thing that is wanted for an Anglo-Indian establishment
must be sent for to the Fort, from which many of the houses are
situated, four, five, or six miles.

As there are populous villages at Bycullah, Mazagong, &c, it seems
strange that no European bazaars have been established at these
intermediate places for the convenience of the inhabitants, who, with
the exception of a few fowls, do not usually keep much in the way of
a farmyard. With an increase in the number of inhabitants, of course
shops would start up in the most eligible situations, and should
the anticipated change take place, and Bombay become the seat of the
Supreme Government, the demands of the new establishment would no
doubt be speedily supplied.

It is impossible, however idle the speculation may be, not to busy the
mind with fancies concerning the site of the city which it is supposed
would arise in the event of the Governor-general being instructed to
take up his abode at Bombay. The Esplanade has been mentioned as the
most probable place, although in building over this piece of ground
the island would, in a great measure, be deprived of its lungs, and
the enjoyment of that free circulation of air, which appears to be so
essential to the existence of Anglo-Indians, who seem to require the
whole expanse of heaven in order to breathe with freedom. The happy
medium between the want of air and its excess will not answer the
demand, and accordingly the Esplanade, no matter how strongly the
wind blows, is a favourite resort. Although its general features are
unattractive, it occasionally presents a very animated scene; the
review of the troops in the garrison is seen to great advantage, and
forms a spectacle always interesting and imposing.

This mustering of the troops is occasionally varied by military
exercises of a more novel nature. The sailors of the flag-ship are
brought on shore, for the purpose of perfecting themselves in the
manual and platoon exercise, and in the performance of such military
evolutions as would enable them to co-operate successfully with a land
force, or to act alone with greater efficiency upon any emergency.
Though not possessing much skill in military affairs, I was pleased
with the ease and precision with which they executed the different
movements, their steadiness in marching, and the promptness with which
the line was dressed. They brought field-pieces on shore with them,
which, according to my poor judgment, were admirably worked. These
parades were the more interesting, in consequence of the expected war
with China, a war in which the sailors of the _Wellesley_ will, no
doubt, be actively engaged.

I had also an opportunity of witnessing from the deck of that vessel,
when accompanying the Governor's party on board, the manoeuvring of
the ship's boats while landing a force. The mock fight was carried on
with great spirit, and the most beautiful effect; the flashing from
the guns in the bows of the boats and the musketry, amid the exquisite
blue smoke issuing from the smaller species of artillery, producing
fire-works which, in my opinion, could not be excelled by any of the
most elaborate construction. The features of the landscape, no doubt,
assisted to heighten the effect of the scene--a back-ground of lovely
purple islands--a sea, like glass, calmly, brightly, beautifully
blue--and the flotilla of boats, grouped as a painter would group
them, and carrying on a running fire, which added much to the
animation of their evolutions, the smoke occasionally enveloping the
whole in vapour, and then showing the eager forms of men, as it rolled
off in silvery clouds towards the distant hills.

As I gazed upon this armament, and upon the palm-woods that fringed
the shore, I could not help calling to mind the lawless doings of the
buccaneers of old, and the terror spread through towns and villages
by the appearance of a fleet of boats, manned by resolute crews, and
armed with the most deadly weapons of destruction. The sight realized
also the descriptions given in modern novels of the capture of towns,
and I could easily imagine the great excitement which would lead
daring men to the execution of deeds, almost incredible to those who
have never felt their spirits stirred and their arms nerved by danger,
close, imminent, and only to be mastered by the mightiest efforts.

When any _tamasha_, as the natives call it, is going on upon the
Esplanade, near the beach, they add very considerably to the effect of
the scene, by grouping themselves upon the bales of cotton, piled near
the wharf for exportation: those often appear to be a mass of human
beings, so thickly are they covered with eager gazers. Upon the
occasion of the departure of Sir Henry Fane to England, there appeared
to be a general turn-out of the whole of Bombay, and the effect was
impressive and striking. The road down to the Bunder, or place of
embarkation, was lined with soldiers, the bands of the different
regiments playing while the _cortege_ passed. All the ladies made
their appearance in open carriages, while the gentlemen mounted on
horseback, and joined the cavalcade. A large party of native gentlemen
assembled on foot at the Bunder, for the purpose of showing a last
mark of respect to a distinguished officer, about to leave the country
for ever.

Sir Henry, accompanied by his staff, but all in plain clothes, drove
down the road in a barouche, attended by an escort of cavalry, and
seemed to be much affected by the tokens of esteem which he received
on every hand. He left the shore amidst the waving of handkerchiefs,
and a salute of seventeen guns, and would have been greeted with
hearty cheers, did military discipline allow of such manifestation of
the feelings.

Sights and scenes like these will, of course, always attract numerous
spectators, while on the evenings in which the band plays, there is
a fair excuse for making the Esplanade the object of the drive; but
Bombay affords so many avenues possessing much greater beauty, that
I am always delighted when I can diversify the scene by a visit to
places not nearly so much in request, but which are to me infinitely
more interesting, as developing some charm of nature, or displaying
the habits and manners of the people of the country. With these
views and feelings, I was much pleased at receiving an invitation
to accompany some friends to a fair held in Mahim Wood--that sea of
palm-trees, which I had often looked down upon from Chintapootzlee
Hill with so much pleasure.

The fair was held, as is usual in oriental countries, in honour of
a saint, whose canonized bones rest beneath a tomb apparently of
no great antiquity, but which the people, who are not the best
chronologists in the world, fancy to be of very ancient date. The
name of the celebrated person thus enshrined was Mugdooree Sahib,
a devotee, who added the gift of prophecy to his other high
qualifications, and amongst other things has predicted that, when the
town shall join the wood, Bombay shall be no more. The accomplishment
of what in his days must have appeared very unlikely ever to take
place--namely, the junction of inhabited dwellings with the trees of
Mahim--seems to be in rapid course of fulfilment; the land has been
drained, many portions formerly impassable filled up, and rendered
solid ground, while the houses are extending so fast, that the Burruh
Bazaar will in no very long period, in all probability, extend to
Mahim. Those who attach some faith to the prophecy, yet are unwilling
to believe that evil and not good will befal the "rising presidency,"
are of opinion that some change of name will take place when it shall
be made the seat of the Supreme Government: thus the saint's credit
will be saved, and no misfortune happen to the good town of Bombay.
The superstitious of all persuasions, the Christians perhaps
excepted--though many of the Portuguese Christians have little more
than the name--unite in showing reverence to the shrine of the saint,
while Mugdooree Sahib is held quite as much in estimation by the
Hindus as by the followers of he own corrupted creed, the Mohammedans
of Bombay being by no means orthodox.

Many respectable natives have built houses for themselves at Mahim,
on purpose to have a place for their families during the time of the
fair, while others hire houses or lodgings, for which they will pay
as much as twenty rupees for the few days that it lasts. A delightful
drive brought us to the confines of the wood; the whole way along, we
passed one continuous string of bullock-carriages, filled with people
of all tribes and castes, while others, who could not afford this mode
of conveyance, were seen in groups, trudging on foot, leading their
elder children, and carrying their younger in their arms. The road
wound very prettily through the wood, which at every turn presented
some charming bits of forest scenery, shown to great advantage in the
crimson light of evening, which, as it faded, produced those wild,
shadowy illusions, which lend enchantment to every view. Parasitical
plants, climbing up the trunks of many of the trees, and flinging
themselves in rich garlands from bough to bough, relieved the monotony
of the tall, straight palm-trees, and produced delicious green
recesses, the dearest charm of woodland scenery.

I have frequently felt a strong desire to dwell under the shade of
forest boughs, for there is something in that sylvan kind of life so
redolent of the hunter's merry horn, the mating song of birds, and
the gurgling of secret rills, as to possess indescribable charms to a
lover of the picturesque. Now, however, experience in sober realities
having dispelled the illusions of romance, I should choose a cottage
in some cleared space by the wood-side, though at this dry season of
the year, and mid the perpetual sunshine of its skies, the heart of
Mahim Wood would form a very agreeable residence.

The first house we came to was very comfortable, and almost English
in its appearance; a small, neat mansion, with its little court-yard
before it, such as we should not be surprised to see in some
old-fashioned country village at home. Straggling huts on either side
brought us to the principal street of Mahim, and here we found the
houses lighted, and lamps suspended, in imitation of bunches of
grapes, before all that were ambitious of making a good appearance.

After passing the shops belonging to the village--the grain-sellers,
the pan-sellers, and other venders of articles in common demand--we
came to a series of booths, exactly resembling those used for the same
purpose in England, and well supplied with both native and foreign
products. The display was certainly much greater than any I had
expected to see. Some of the shops were filled with French, English,
and Dutch toys; others with China and glass ornaments; then came one
filled with coloured glass bangles, and every kind of native ornament
in talc and tinsel, all set off with a profusion of lights. Instead of
gingerbread, there were immense quantities of _metai_, or sweetmeats,
of different shapes and forms, and various hues; sugar rock-work,
pink, white, and yellow, with all sorts and descriptions of cakes.
The carriage moved slowly through the crowd, and at length, finding it
inconvenient to proceed farther in it, we alighted.

Our party had come to Mahim upon the invitation of a very respectable
moonshee, who had his country-house there, and who was anxious to do
the honours of the fair to the English strangers, my friends, like
myself, being rather new to Bombay. We met the old gentleman at an
opening in the village, leading to the tomb of the saint, and his
offer to conduct us to the sacred shrine formed a farther inducement
to leave the carriage, and venture through the crowd on foot.

The tomb, which was strongly illuminated, proved to be a white-washed
building, having a dome in the centre, and four minarets, one at each
angle, standing in a small enclosure, the walls of which were also
newly white-washed, and approached by a flight of steps, leading into
a portico. Upon either side of the avenue from the village were seated
multitudes of men and women, who, if not beggars by profession, made
no scruple to beg on this occasion.

I felt at first sorry that I had neglected to bring any money with
me, but when I saw the crowd of applicants, whom it would have been
impossible to satisfy, and recollected that my liberality would
doubtless have been attributed to faith in the virtues of the saint,
I no longer regretted the omission. The steps of the tomb were lined
with these beggars, all vociferating at once, while other religious
characters were singing with all the power of their lungs, and a
native band, stationed in the verandah of the tomb, were at the same
time making the most hideous discord by the help of all kinds of
diabolical instruments.

Having a magistrate of our party, we were well protected by the
police, who, without using any rudeness, kept the people off. So far
from being uncivil, the natives seemed pleased to see us at the fair,
and readily made way, until we came to the entrance of the chamber in
which, under a sarcophagus, the body of the saint was deposited. Here
we were told that we could proceed no farther, unless we consented to
take off our shoes, a ceremony with which we did not feel disposed
to comply, especially as we could see all that the chamber contained
through the open door, and had no intention to pay homage to the
saint. The sarcophagus, according to custom, was covered with a rich
pall, and the devout pressed forward to lay their offerings upon it.
These offerings consisted of money, cloths, grain, fruit, &c. nothing
coming amiss, the priests of the temple being quite ready to take the
gifts which the poorest could bestow. The beggars in the porch were
more clamorous than ever, the _maam sahibs_ being especially entreated
to bestow their charity.

Having satisfied my curiosity, I was glad to get away into the fair,
where I found many things more interesting. Convenient spaces in the
wood were filled with merry-go-rounds, swings, and other locomotive
machinery, of precisely the same description as those exhibited in
England, and which I had seen in Hyde Park at the fair held there, in
honour of Queen Victoria. Mahim Wood boasted no theatres or wild-beast
shows, neither were we treated with the sight of giants or dwarfs; but
there was no want of booths for the purpose of affording refreshment.
One of these _cafes_, the front of which was entirely open, was most
brilliantly illuminated, and filled with numerous tables, covered with
a multitude of good things. That it was expected to be the resort
of English guests was apparent, from an inscription painted in white
letters, rather askew, upon a black board, to the following effect:
"Tea, Coffee, and Pastry-House."

We were invited to enter this splendid establishment by the moonshee,
who had evidently ordered a refection to be prepared for the occasion.
Being unwilling to disappoint the old gentleman, we took the seats
offered to us, and ate the cakes, and drank the coffee, presented by
some respectable-looking Parsees, the owners of the shop, which they
had taken pains to set off in the European style. Although the natives
of India will not eat with us, as they know that we do not scruple
to partake of food prepared for their tables, they are mortified and
disappointed at any refusal to taste the good things set before us;
the more we eat, the greater being the compliment. I was consequently
obliged to convey away some of the cakes in my handkerchief, to avoid
the alternatives of making myself ill or of giving offence.

When we were sufficiently rested and refreshed, we followed the
moonshee to his mansion. The moon was at the full, and being at this
time well up, lighted us through the less thronged avenues of the
village, these tangled lanes, with the exception of a few candles,
having no other illumination. Here, seated in corners upon the ground,
were the more humble traders of the fair, venders of fruit, the larger
kind being divided into slices for the convenience of poor customers.
In one spot, a group of dissipated characters were assembled round
bottles and drinking-vessels (of which the contents bore neither the
colour nor the smell of sherbet), who were evidently determined to
make a night of it over the fermented juice of the palm. From what I
have seen, I am inclined to believe sobriety to be as rare a virtue
in Bombay as in London; toddy-shops appear to be greatly upon the
increase, and certainly in every direction there are already ample
means of gratifying a love of spirituous liquors. In other places, the
usual occupation of frying fish was going on, while a taste for sweet
things might be gratified by confectionary of an ordinary description
compared with that exhibited in the shops.

As we receded from the fair, the bright illumination in the distance,
the twinkling lights in the fore-ground, dimly revealing dusky figures
cowering round their fires, and the dark depths of the wood beyond,
with now and then a gleam of moonshine streaming on its tangled paths,
made up a landscape roll of scenic effects. Getting deeper and deeper
into the wood, we came at last to a small modest mansion, standing in
the corner of a garden, and shadowed by palm-trees, through which the
moon-beams chequered our path. We did not enter the house, contenting
ourselves with seats in the verandah, where the children of our host,
his wife or wives not making their appearance, were assembled. The
elder boys addressed us in very good English, and were, the moonshee
told us, well acquainted with the Guzerattee and Mahratta languages;
he had also bestowed an education upon his daughters, who were taught
to read in the vernacular.

The old man told us that he was born in Mahim Wood at the time of the
festival, and, though a Hindu, had had the name of Mugdooree, that
of the saint, bestowed upon him, for a good omen. Having a great
affection for his native place, he had, as soon as he could command
the means, built the house which we now saw, and in which he always
resided during the fair, which was called _oories_, or the Mugdooree
Sahib's _oories_, at Mahim. After sitting some time with the old man,
and admiring the effect of the moonlight among the palm-trees, we rose
to depart. In taking leave of the spot, I could not repress a wish to
see it under a different aspect, although it required very slight aid
from fancy to picture it as it would appear in the rains, with mildew
in the drip of those pendant palm branches, green stagnant pools in
every hollow, toads crawling over the garden paths, and snakes lurking
beneath every stone.

Returning to the place in which we had left the carriage, we found
the fair more crowded than ever, the numbers of children, if possible,
exceeding those to be seen at English places of resort of the same
nature. The upper rooms of the superior houses, many of which seemed
to be large and handsome, were well lighted and filled with company,
many of the most respectable amongst the Hindus, Mohammedans, and
Parsees, repairing to Mahim, to recreate themselves during the
festival. The shops had put on even a gayer appearance, and though
there was no rich merchandize to be seen, the character of the meeting
being merely that of a rustic fair, I was greatly surprised by
the elegance of some of the commodities, and the taste of their

It was evident that all the purchasers must be native, and
consequently I could not help feeling some astonishment at the large
quantities of expensive European toys with which whole booths were
filled. Dolls, which were to me a novelty in my late visit to Paris,
with real hair dressed in the newest fashion, were abundant; and so
were those excellent representations of animals from Germany, known by
the name of "Barking toys." The price of these things, demanded of our
party at least, was high. I had wished to possess myself of something
as a remembrance of this fair, but as the old moonshee was the only
individual amongst us who carried any money about him, I did not like
him to become my banker on this occasion, lest he should not permit me
to pay him again, and I should by this means add to the disbursements
already made upon our account.

Upon leaving the fair, we found some difficulty in steering our way
through the bullock-carriages which almost blocked up the road, and
as we drove along the grand thoroughfare towards Girgaum, a populous
portion of the native town, the visitants seemed to increase; cart
followed upon cart in quick succession, all the bullocks in Bombay,
numerous as they are, appearing to have been mustered for the

In the different drives which I have taken through the island, I
have come upon several fine tanks, enclosed by solid masonry of
dark-coloured stone; but, with the exception, in some instances, of
one or two insignificant pillars or minarets, they are destitute of
those architectural ornaments which add so much splendour to the same
works in Bengal. The broad flights of steps, the richly decorated
temple, or the range of small pagodas, so frequently to be seen by
the side of the tanks and bowlies in other parts of India, are here
unknown; the more ancient native buildings which I have yet examined
being, comparatively speaking, of a mean and paltry description, while
all the handsome modern houses are built after the European manner.
There is one feature, however, with which I am greatly pleased--the
perpetual recurrence of seats and ledges made in the walls which
enclose gentlemen's gardens and grounds, or run along the roads, and
which seem to be intended as places of repose for the wayfarer, or as
a rest to his burthen.

It is always agreeable to see needful accommodation afforded to
the poor and to the stranger; public benefits, however trifling,
displaying liberality of mind in those who can give consideration to
the wants and feelings of multitudes from whom they can hope for
no return. These seats frequently occur close to the gate of some
spacious dwelling, and may be supposed to be intended for the servants
and dependants of the great man, or those who wait humbly on the
outside of his mansion; but they as frequently are found upon the high
roads, or by the side of wells and tanks.

The festival of the _Duwallee_ has taken place since my arrival
in Bombay, and though I have seen it celebrated before, and more
splendidly in one particular--namely, the illuminations--I never had
the same opportunity of witnessing other circumstances connected with
ceremonies performed at the opening of the new year of the Hindus.
When I speak of the superiority of the illuminations, I allude to
their taste and effect; there were plenty of lights in Bombay, but
they were differently disposed, and did not mark the outline of the
buildings in the beautiful manner which prevails upon the other side
of India, every person lighting up his own house according to his
fancy. Upon the eve of the new year, while driving through the bazaar,
we saw preparations for the approaching festival; many of the houses
were well garnished with lamps, the shops were swept and put into
order, and the horns of the bullocks were garlanded with flowers,
while fire-works, and squibs and crackers, were going off in all

On the following evening, I went with a party of friends, by
invitation, to the house of a native gentleman, a Parsee merchant of
old family and great respectability, and as we reached the steps of
his door, a party of men came up with sticks in their hands, answering
to our old English morice-dancers. These men were well clad in white
dresses, with flowers stuck in their turbans; they formed a circle
somewhat resembling the figure of _moulinet_, but without joining
hands, the inner party striking their sticks as they danced round
against those on the outer ring, and all joining in a rude but not
unmusical chorus. The gestures of these men, though wild, were neither
awkward nor uncouth, the sticks keeping excellent time with the song
and with the action of their feet. After performing sundry evolutions,
and becoming nearly out of breath, they desisted, and called upon the
spectators to reward their exertions. Having received a present, they
went into the court-yard of the next mansion, which belonged to one of
the richest native merchants in Bombay, and there renewed their dance.

We found in the drawing-room of our host's house a large company
assembled. The upper end was covered with a white cloth, and all
round, seated on the floor against the walls, were grave-looking
Parsees, many being of advanced years. They had their books and
ledgers open before them, the ceremony about to be commenced
consisting of the blessing or consecration of the account-books,
in order to secure prosperity for the ensuing year. The officiating
priests were brahmins, the custom and the festival--of which Lacshmee,
the goddess of wealth, is the patroness--being purely Hindu.

The Parsees of India, sole remnant of the ancient fire-worshippers,
have sadly degenerated from that pure faith held by their forefathers,
and for which they became fugitives and exiles. What persecution
failed to accomplish, kindness has effected, and their religion has
been corrupted by the taint of Hinduism, in consequence of their long
and friendly intercourse with the people, who permitted them to dwell
in their land, and to take their daughters in marriage. Incense was
burning on a tripod placed upon the floor, and the priests muttering
prayers, which sounded very like incantations, ever and anon threw
some new perfume upon the charcoal, which produced what our friend
Dousterswivel would call a "suffumigation." These preliminaries over,
they caused each person to write a few words in the open book before
him, and then threw upon the leaves a portion of grain. After this had
been distributed, they made the circle again, and threw gold leaf upon
the volumes; then came spices and betel-nut, cut in small pieces,
and lastly flowers, and a profusion of the red powder (_abeer_) so
lavishly employed in Hindu festivals. More incense was burned, and
the ceremony concluded, the merchants rising and congratulating
each other. Formerly, when our host was a more wealthy man than, in
consequence of sundry misfortunes, he is at present, he was in the
habit of disbursing Rs. 10,000 in gifts upon this day: everybody that
came to the house receiving something.

The custom of blessing the books, after the Hindu manner, will in all
probability shortly decline among the Parsees, the younger portion
being already of opinion that it is a vain and foolish ceremony,
borrowed from strangers; and, indeed, the elders of the party were
at some pains to convince me that they merely complied with it in
consequence of a stipulation entered into with the Hindus, when
they granted them an asylum, to observe certain forms and ceremonies
connected with their customs, assuring me that they did not place any
reliance upon the favour of the goddess, looking only for the blessing
of God to prosper their undertakings.

This declaration, however, was somewhat in contradiction to one
circumstance, which I omitted to mention, namely, that before the
assembled Parsees rose from the floor, they permitted the officiating
brahmins to mark their foreheads with the symbol of the goddess, thus
virtually admitting her supremacy. The lamps were then lighted, and
we were presented with the usual offering of bouquets of roses,
plentifully bedewed with _goolabee panee_, or the distilled tears of
the flower, to speak poetically; and having admired the children of
the family, who were brought out in their best dresses and jewels,
took our leave. The ladies, the married daughters and daughters-in-law
of our host, did not make their appearance upon this occasion; for,
though not objecting to be seen in public, they are not fond of
presenting themselves in their own houses before strangers.

It is the women of India who are at this moment impeding the advance
of improvement; they have hitherto been so ill-educated, their minds
left so entirely uncultivated, that they have had nothing to amuse
or interest them excepting the ceremonies of their religion, and the
customs with which it is encumbered. These, notwithstanding that many
are inconvenient, and others entail much suffering, they are unwilling
to relinquish. Every departure from established rule, which their
male relatives deem expedient, they resolutely oppose, employing the
influence which women, however contemned as the weaker vessel, always
do possess, and always will exert, in perpetuating all the evils
resulting from ignorance. The sex will ever be found active either
in advancing or retarding great changes, and whether this activity be
employed for good or for evil, depends upon the manner in which their
intellectual faculties have been trained and cultivated.

It appears to me that, although education is making great progress in
Bombay, all it has yet accomplished of good appears upon the surface,
it not having yet wrought any radical change in the feelings and
opinions of the people, or, excepting in few instances, directing
their pursuits to new objects. I give this opinion, however, with
great diffidence--merely as an impression which a longer residence
in Bombay may remove; meanwhile, I lose no opportunity of acquainting
myself with the native community, and I hope to gather some
interesting information relative to the probable effects of the system
now adopting at the different national schools.

As far as I can judge, a little of Uncle Jonathan's fervour in
progressing is wanting here; neither the Anglo-Indian or native
residents seem to manifest the slightest inclination to "go ahead;"
and while they complain loudly of the apathy evinced at home to all
that concerns their advantage and prosperity, are quite content to
drowze over their old _dustoors_ (customs), and make no attempt to
direct the public attention in England to subjects of real importance.

Though unwilling to indulge in premature remarks, these are pressed
upon me by the general complaints which I hear upon all sides; but
though everybody seems to lament the evil, no one exerts himself to
effect a remedy, and while much is talked of individually, little is
done by common consent. One great bar to improvement consists, I am
told, of the voluminous nature of the reports upon all subjects, which
are heaped together until they become so hopelessly bulky, that nobody
can be prevailed upon to wade through them. In England, at all public
meetings, a great deal of time and breath are wasted in superfluous
harangues; but these can only effect the remote mischief threatened by
Mr. Babbage, and produce earthquakes and other convulsions in distant
lands, in distant centuries; whereas the foolscap is a present and a
weighty evil, and has probably swamped more systems of improvement,
and more promising institutions, than any other enemy, however active.

The intellectual community of India seems yet to have to learn the
advantage of placing all that relates to it in a clear, succinct, and
popular form, and of bringing works before the British public which
will entertain as well as instruct, and lead those who are employed
in legislating for our Eastern territories to inquire more deeply into
those subjects which so materially affect its political, moral, and
commercial prosperity.


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