Thomas Brassey Brassey (Earl) Thomas Allnutt Brassey (Earl).

Sixteen months' travel, 1886-87 online

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' Mr. Cull kindly started the crews from a boat moored
near the Fort station, and the following was how the crews
were constituted : —

Colombo R.C. * Mirzapore.'

T. Twynam

W. R. Charsley

V. A. Julius

E. Booth (str.)

L. 0. Liesching (cox.)

1J. S. Pemberton
T. A. Brassey
D. H. lIlcLean
H. S. Barton
f}. Loder (cox.)

Colombo had the outside station, and when the word " Go "
was given both crews struck the water as nearly simul-
taneously as possible. From that stroke to the conclusion
of the race the 'Varsity men had it all their own way : they
took hold of the boat, and sent it along in a manner quite
hopeless for their opponents to imitate. At the second or
third stroke they were moving rapidly off, and before long
had shaken themselves clear. At Kew Point they led by
about a couple of lengths clear, but rowing quite easily.
Colombo stuck to their hopeless task most pluckily. After
Kew Point had been passed the 'Varsity men eased down a
little, and the Colombo men, trying a spurt at the end, re-
duced the amount by which they were beaten to about a
couple of lengths. We believe the Colombo boat went as
well and as fast as any boat rowed over the course by a local
team. The time and swing of the crew were capital, and
the boat travelled well. All availed them nothing, for the

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Colombo men were completely outclassed and outmatched,
and the 'Varsity men might, if they had chosen, have beaten
them by a dozen lengths. Still Colombo did their best on a
short notice to stretch their redoubtable visitors. Mr. Ewart,
the Secretary of the C. R. C, was judge, and a large
number of the " Mirzapore " passengers and others interested
in rowing witnessed the race. The crews dined together at
the Club afterwards. Our visitors are on a pleasure trip to
India, not as rowing men at all, but about to join Lord
Brassey's yacht, the " Sunbeam," now on the Indian coast,
Mr. T. A. Brassey, who rowed No. 2 in the boat, being a son
of the well-known owner of the yacht in question.*

December 5th, — Barton, McLean, Pemberton, and I went
by the early train up to Kandy. The scenery between
Kandy and* Colombo is perhaps the most beautiful in the
world. It has been described in the ' Voyage of the Sun-
beam,' so it is useless for me to try to describe it here. At
Peridenya a letter from Mr. Laurie met me, asking us all to
dine with him. All the ' Sunbeam ' party stayed with him in
77, so that he seemed quite like an old jfriend. At the Kandy
Club, where we stayed the night, we found a Mr. Waller,
brother of the Mr. Waller who lives near Charlbury. The
more one travels, the smaller the world seems. One cannot
go anywhere without meeting people with whom one has
friends in common.

December 6th. — We left Kandy early and travelled sixteen
miles by train to Matale. Thence we drove in a pair-
horse wagonette to Dambool. We gradually descended
from the mountainous country in the centre of Ceylon to
the flat plain which occupies the whole north of the island.
The scenery was lovely. The flowers in the jungle which
fringed either side of the road, the birds and the butterflies,
were of the gayest colours. We spent the evening at
Dambool in visiting some wonderful rock temples.

December 7 th, — To-day we accomplished the remaining

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forty miles of the journey to Anuradhapura in two stages.
The road was very bad, and we had to walk ten miles or more
of the way. Fortunately it was fairly cool. The country
was far flatter than that which we had passed through yester-
day, and was less thickly inhabited. We often walked through
the fields which fringed the road, and managed to pick up a
snipe or two.

December 8th and 9th we devoted to exploring Anurad-
hapura. Almost as soon as we landed in Ceylon we were
told that it was the place of all others to see. I shall never
regret the trouble we took to get there, as it is quite one
of the most interesting places I visited in my travels.

Anuradhapura was founded about 250 B.C. by one of the
great Cingalese kings, who for a long time maintained the
struggle with the Tamils, or invaders who came from the
mainland of India. The Tamils now occupy the whole of the
north of Ceylon. These old kings, both in Ceylon and in India,
must have been wonderful builders, and must have had com-
mand of an unlimited supply of labour, to judge by the works
they have left. There is a tank in Ceylon, about fifty miles
from Anuradhapura, which is fifty miles in circumference ;
and as the bunds or banks of these tanks are fifty or sixty
feet high and broad in proportion, the amount of labour
expended on them must have been enormous. To return to
Anuradhapura. It must have been a city of considerable
size, for a circular road runs round it eight miles long.
Within the limits of this circular road all the jungle has been
cleared away by convict labour ; the big trees are left stand-
ing out on a green sward, which made one almost imagine
oneself in an English park. Most of the ruins are within
the circular road, though there are many ruins in the jungle
outside it. These are ruins of dagobas, palaces, temples,
elephant stables, all of the same kind of stone, which in many
places is most beautifully carved. The dagobas are the most
interesting of all, and are almost as wonderful structures as
the pyramids in Egypt. They are circular solid masses of
brick. The largest, the Euanweli, was originally over 400 feet

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high, and is said to have taken twenty years in building.
They stand in the middle of stone-paved courtyards, which
are almost exactly a square mile in area. On each side of
the dagobas are small temples, and running round their bases
are platforms on which the priests walked in procession. The
bricks from the tops of the dagobas have fallen down, and the
sides are now sloping and covered with a dense mass of trees,
which are the home of troops of monkeys. At the Euanweli
dagoba considerable sums have been spent in excavations and
restoration, and one can form some idea of what these wonder-
ful relics of a bygone age were originally like. The remains
of the palaces consist chiefly in graceful pillars with beauti-
fully carved capitals, and in flights of steps with a broad
carved slab at the bottom, called a moonstone. There is
supposed to be a chamber in the centre of the Euanweli
dagoba, where jewels or treasure are concealed, but the know-
ledge of the passage leading to it is gone. The Government
wish to open a passage to find it ; but most of the priests, whose
influence depends on the superstition and ignorance of the
people, oppose any attempt at its discovery.

On the evening of December 9th, McLean and I left
Anuradhapura and journeyed back to Colombo by the way
we had come. I was sorry we had not more time to spare,
for the country round Anuradhapura abounds in game —
elephants, bears, deer of several kinds, and buffalo, besides
duck, teal, and snipe. In fact, we saw some deer on the road
a few miles from the city. Our other two friends were more
venturesome. They went by bullock-cart to Jaffa, a place
in the extreme north of Ceylon. The distance is 130 miles,
and as a bullock-cart, even with frequent changes, only
travels at the rate of three miles an hour, it took them a
day and a half. Bullock-carts are two-wheeled conveyances
without springs. The road was so bad that they had little
rest. From Jafia they went by native boat to Ramiseram,
situated on one of the islands in Adam's Bridge, where there
is a wonderful temple. The native boats are only about two
feet wide and very long. They are prevented from capsizing

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by a large outrigger. On the outrigger a platform about six
feet square was fixed, on which Pemberton and Barton spent
the twenty hours which they took to do the sixty miles.
Apart from the discomfort, it was an adventurous expedition,
for if a storm had come on they would probably not have
been heard of again. From Eamiseram they got on by a
rather larger boat to Tuticorin, and we met them again in
Southern India.

McLean and I meanwhile returned to Colombo, where
we were kept waiting six days for a British-India boat to
take us to Tuticorin. If we had known we should have to
wait so long we might have seen something of the rest of
the island. We could have gone up to Newera-Elya — the
hill station, about 6,000 feet above sea-level — where sheep
thrive, where potatoes and other English vegetables grow,
and where a fire is by no means to be despised at night. We
might have seen something of the plantations. Mr. Lane,
son of Colonel Lane of Bexhill, is a planter in Ceylon, and as
he was in England himself last year, he gave me an intro-
duction to his manager, which I was sorry not to be able to
avail myself of. The coffee-planters were ruined by a disease
which appeared in the coffee plant about ten years ago.
Cocoa and cinchona are now grown to a great extent ; tea
has largely taken the place of coffee. Ceylon tea bids fair
to surpass Indian and other teas in the London market.

People were very kind to us during the days we had to
wait in Colombo. Mr. Julius took us for a day's snipe-
shooting to Kalutara, about thirty miles south of Colombo.
It was a matter of some difficulty to preserve one's footing on
the narrow banks between the paddy fields, and occasionally
one got up to the waist in black mud. During the day we
shot eleven and a half couple of snipe, of which two or three
were painted snipe. We had several games at lawn-tennis,
and one night we dined with the Governor and Lady Hamilton
Gordon. But in spite of the kindness of our friends we were
glad to get on.

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December 18th, — We left Colombo by the Britisli India
Bteamship 'Khandalla' at 3 P.M., and at 10.80 the next
morning arrived oflF Tuticorin. We had tumbled about a good
deal in the swell, and the crossing was not altogether com-
fortable for the cabin passengers; but the unfortunate natives,
six hundred or seven hundred of whom were huddled to-
gether on deck in the wind and rain, were infinitely worse
off. The water is very shoal off Tuticorin, and we had to
anchor four miles from the shore. All the cargo is taken
ashore in large open sailing boats manned by natives. As
soon as the anchor dropped about forty of these boats raced
to get their painters made fast on board. They rushed stem
on against the ship's side, they banged against one another,
and if they could not get near enough to enable the occu-
pants to climb on board, a man jumped into the water with
the painter in his teeth. It was a wonderful scene; the
natives were all in a great state of excitement, and it was
not till the chief officer had cut away the painters of
several boats and allowed them to drift hopelessly down to
leeward, that the launch which was to take us ashore could
get alongside.

We were ashore in half an hour, and, in spite of a delay
at the Custom House, just managed to catch the one o'clock
train for Tinnivelly. We passed through a desolate-looking
country, the soil very dry and bare, a few palmyra palms
here and there being almost the only vegetation. We saw
some flocks of goats and sheep, scraggy-looking animals,
Yery long in the leg ; some of the goats stand as high as a

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donkey. It is rather difficult to distinguish between the
two, as the coats of both are hairy. I am told that the chief
diflference between the goat and sheep of Southern India is
that the tail of the one sticks up and the tail of the other
sticks down. Which does which I fear I have forgotten.

We arrived at Tinnivelly at three o'clock, and a bullock-
coach took us the few hundred yards to Mr. Lee- Warner's
bungalow, a fine specimen of an Indian house, broad veran-
dahs and the rooms lofty and cool. Mr. Lee- Warner is the
collector of the Tinnivelly district. A collector is the most
important official in the administration of the country in
India. His district is as large as a good-sized English
county. He not only collects the revenue, but he is the
chief magistrate, he decides all disputes concerning land,
he looks after the police, he directs public works, such as
the making of roads and irrigation canals; in fact, his
functions are too numerous to mention. The people look
upon him, as the old Saxons did on their king, as ' father
and lord.' As Mrs. and Miss Lee- Warner were taking a
siesta — most ladies in India rest during the heat of the day
— we went in a bullock-bandy, or hired carriage drawn by
bullocks, to see the great Tinnivelly temple. The pagoda
over the gateway was fine, but inside we were led through
colonnade after colonnade of pillars, which were so dark that
we could not see whether the carving was good or not. We
came back to the bungalow, and went on to church in
Palamcotta, which is on the other side of the river. The
view from the bridge was fine, and would have been far
finer if we could have seen the Travancore mountains more
clearly. Their outline is grand, as they rise straight
from the plain to the height of 6,000 or 7,000 feet. The
service was nicely conducted, and the singing fair. The
congregation consisted chiefly of missionaries. The Church
Missionary Society and the Society for the Propagation
of the Gospel do a great deal of work, and there are many
thousand native Christians in the south of India.

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Monday^ December 20th, — We were up at 5.30, and left
Tinnivelly at 6.10. The country was much the same as that
we passed through yesterday — flat, sandy, and uninteresting.
We passed an occasional tank surrounded by bright green
paddy fields. We arrived at Madura at 2 o'clock. It is a
pretty place, the roads are broad and shaded by gigantic
banyans. Most of the main roads in Southern India are
shaded by trees, which make them pleasant in spite of the
dust. To-day the heat was not oppressive ; in the train it
was almost cold, and it was not till we began to walk about
in Madura that we found it at all warm. The Hindu temple
at Madura, with the exception of that at Eamiseram, which
was visited by Pemberton and Barton, is the finest in Southern
India. It covers nearly a square mile of ground, I should
think, at a rough guess. Some of the colonnades were very
fine, and the carvings of the Hindu gods and goddesses on
the pillars were most grotesque. We were lucky enough to
see the temple jewels, which had been unlocked for the Prince
of Travancore, who was making a tour through the south of
India. The stones, rubies, sapphires, and diamonds were very
large, bigger round than pennies, but so badly set as to look
like bits of coloured glass. After a visit to the court of
justice and a tank about two miles out of town, we had some
dinner at the station, and left by the 7 P.M. train.

Tuesday^ December 21s^. — We managed to sleep fairly till
we arrived at Trichinopoly at 1 A.M. There was no room in
the station hotel, so we drove off to the travellers' bungalow,
which our driver found after some difficulty. It is extra-
ordinary that these native drivers never seem to know their
way about their own town. We had about four hours' sleep,
and at 7 started, with an intelligent English-speaking guide,
for the famous rock of Trichinopoly. It is like two or three
enormous boulders rising from the plain to 200 or 300
feet. In the days of Clive and in our early struggles with
the French in India it was a great fortress. From the top
we had a splendid view. About half a mile to the north

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flowed the broad Cauvery River; beyond which lay the green
island of Sirungam, with the reddish pagodas of the temple
towering above the trees, and then far away in the distance
rose the mountains, with the light of the rising sun just
breaking on them through the clouds. We went on to the
temple. It consists of court within court. The inner courts
we were not allowed to enter, being unbelievers. The pagodas
we thought finer than those at Madura, but the colonnades
were not so grand, nor was there such good carving inside.
We were frightfully pestered by guides and beggars as we
looked round, and as we left the temple we were pursued not
only by a crowd of these but even by the sacred elephants
whom we had disdained to notice. On the way back to the
bungalow we purchased some silver and copper work, for
which Trichinopoly is famous, and 2,400 cheroots for twenty
rupees, about SOs. (i,e. eighty for a shilling), the cheapest if not
the best smokes IVe ever had. A large quantity of tobacco
is grown in the delta of the Cauvery near Trichinopoly. We
left Trichy — as it is usually called — at 12.30, and during the
afternoon were passing along the valley of the Cauvery, which
is one of the most fertile districts in India. Sugar-cane,
castor oil, and various kinds of Indian grain, besides tobacco,
are grown. ^

Wednesday^ December 22nd. — At 5 a.m. we arrived at Me-
tapoliam, at the foot of the mountains which surround Mysore.
We hired a special tonga, as we found otherwise our luggage
could not reach Ootacamund till the next day. A tonga is a
two-wheeled conveyance, much lower than a dogcart, drawn
by two horses. In this we did the most wonderful bit of
travelling IVe ever done in my life. From Metapoliam to
Coonoor is twenty-two miles and a rise of 5,000 feet. We
changed horses ten times, i.e, every two or three miles, and
did the distance in two hours and a half. From Coonoor to
Ootacamund is twelve miles and a rise of 1,500 to 2,000 feet;
this we did with two pair of horses in one and a half hours.
That is to say, we came thirty-seven miles, and mounted nearly

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7,000 feet, or about eight times as high as the South Downs,
in four hours. This was indeed a red-letter day as regards
scenery. The sunrise at Metapoliam was lovely. The eastern
sky was a rich rose tint, and the mountains, rising straight
out of the plain, were tinged with the reflection. The scenery
on the drive up the gorge to Ooonoor is some of the most
beautiful in India. The sides of the mountains are very steep,
and clothed with the most luxuriant tropical vegetation —
palms, bamboos, Ac. Near the top there were coffee-planta-*
tions on both slopes of the gorge. At one time one got a
peep through the jungle at the torrent foaming 1,000 or more
feet below, and then one would have a lovely view down the
gorge over the plain beyond Metapoliam. From Coonoor on
to Ooty the road is nothing like so pretty. We had good
views of the mountains away to the west, but the grass is
scanty and burnt up, and there are no trees. Ooty itself is
situated in a hollow filled with trees, mostly blue gums, im-
ported from Australia. It is a straggling place, every bunga-
low in its own garden, and there are many nice bungalows,
as Ooty is the hill station for the Madras presidency. The
Crovemor and every one who can get away comes up here in
the hot weather. We were rather struck by the hedgerows
being mostly of geraniums, sweet-scented and common, or
wild-roses, while arum lilies grew in profusion wherever there
was water. At Sylk's hotel we found Loder, Barton, and
Pemberton, and very glad we were to meet again after our
annoying delay. We all chaffed Pemberton very much for
driving about with a revolver, in a large leather case strapped
round his waist, in a place where one was as safe as in Hyde
Park. Pemberton and Barton had arranged to ride down the
ghaut to Mysore, some seventy miles, and had sent on coolies
and spare horses. After some hesitation I decided to join
them, though of course I could take no luggage, as it was too
late to send on coolies. After tiffin, McLean and I walked
up to the top of Doddapet hill, 8,600 feet, which overlooks

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the town of Ooty. At first we walked through cinchona and
blue gum plantations, higher up the path crossed bits of open
down or ran through pretty woods of rhododendrons. They
were not out, but here and there we saw a bit of crimson
blossom, and all along the path there were bushes covered
with a yellow flower which smelt exactly like a primrose.
It took us rather over an hour of easy walking to reach the
top^ and then we were indeed repaid for our trouble. The
.view was magnificent all round, but the mountains were
finest to the S.W., where we could see the Coimbatoor hill,
and far beyond it, with their tops just showing above the
clouds-r^the spur of the mountains in Travancore. Due south
we could see over the plain for a hundred miles or more. To
the north we could see all the southern part of Mysore — a flat
table-land enclosed by hills on the E., S., and West. To N.W.
we could see the mountains in the gold-bearing district of
the Wynaad, while due west range rose beyond range, all
tinged with a beautiful light in the lowering sun. It is a
graiid view, and gives one an almost complete idea of the
physical configuration of the southern part of the Indian
peninsuja^ -.We got back to the hotel in time to go and see a
Tpda- settlement before dinner. The Todas are ojie of the
four original hill tribes of the Neilgherries, and are there-
fore among the oldest inhabitants of Southern India. There
were, not more than thirty in this settlement. They are
«plendid-lpoking people, with long black hair and dark eyes.
They live in very rough huts, which have to be entered by a
hole about two feet square close to the ground. The huts
are surrounded by a mud wall. At dinner we met a man
who had been at Oxford with us — the only other occupant of
the hotel — and afterwards we amused ourselves by reading in
the guide-book the account of the road we were to take to-
morrow. The book said it was a road not usually taken by
travellers, as the jungle through which it ran was infested by
elephants, tigers, panthers, and other wild beasts. As we
only had one revolver between us — I had left my rifle at

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Metapoliam — the prospect was not encouraging if we did
meet anytliing,

Thursday^ December 23rd, — Up at 5.30. Breakfast at 6.
We started a little before 7; McLean and Loder, who
were going round to Bangalore via Metapoliam and Jalarpet,
turning out to see us off. The ground was covered with
white frost, and there was ice on all the pools, so that for the
first hour it was pretty cold. It was about five miles along
a good road to the top of the ghaut, and then a steep descent
for seven or eight miles, which took us a long time, as the
road was bad, and our ponies anything but sure-footed.
Mine came down once, shot me over its head, while my
sun-umbrella went in one direction, and the bundle con-
taining my little all in another. Fortunately there was no
damage done. The road zigzagged down a gorge with
coffee estates on either side, but though some of the rocks
were grand, the mountains on the whole were rather like
ordinary Welsh hills, and not nearly so fine as those overlook-
ing the gorge between Coonoor and Metapoliam. From the
bottom of the ghaut the road ran through rather open jungle ;
a few trees, the grass dry and burnt up. We met an old
soldier, a sub-inspector of roads, who had been in the native
pioneers in Afghanistan. At Masnagoody, where we changed
ponies, he made himself very useful in getting us some curry
and rice for breakfast. The only furniture in the travellers'
bungalow were two bedsteads, a table, and a few chairs ; cups,
knives and forks, &c,, were wanting, and but for our friend
we should have fared very badly. We arrived at Masna-
goody at 10.30, having come eighteen miles, and left at 12.45,
The road ran through undulating jungle, much thicker than
that we had come through in the morning, till we reached the
Mysore frontier, eight miles from Masnagoody. We then
commenced ascending to get over the Sigiri ghaut, a low
range of hills lying about ten miles north of the Neilgherries.
All this country has the reputation of being very feverish ;
it was on this road that Lord Dalhousie caught the fever of

D 2

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which he died; and the air felt to me very heavy and
pestilential, perhaps because I was seedy. We met three
elephants, one quite a baby, who were taken into the jungle
to allow us to pass. Many horses will not go near an
elephant. A little later we were rather startled by coming
suddenly on a troop of large wanderoo monkeys close to the

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