James Talboys Wheeler.

Early records of British India; a history of the English settlements in India, as told in the government records, the works of old travellers, and other contemporary documents, from the earliest perio online

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Online LibraryJames Talboys WheelerEarly records of British India; a history of the English settlements in India, as told in the government records, the works of old travellers, and other contemporary documents, from the earliest perio → online text (page 17 of 33)
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tion, not having the least notice of it till that minute, either
from our patron or any of authority ; it being near a twelve-
month since Mr. Hamilton had been in private with His
Majesty, and in all this time not the least notice taken. We
were very much concerned at his detainment, and the more
because we were assured of his firm aversion to accepting
the service, even with all its charms of vast pay, honour, &c. ;
that if the King did detain him by force, if he outlived the
trouble of his esteeming imprisonment, he might be endea-
vouring at an escape, which every way had its ill consequences.

" To free our Honorable Masters from any damages that Troubles of the
might accrue to them from the passionate temper of the Kino-, °^'^
our patron Khan Dauran was applied to for leave, twice or
thrice; but he positively denied to speak or even have a
hand in this business, till our friend Sayyid Sallabut Khan
had an opportunity to lay the case open to him, when he
ordered us to speak to the Vizier, and, if by any means
we could gain him to intercede, that he would back it.

" We made a visit to the Vizier the 6th instant, and
laid the case open to him in a petition from Mr. Hamilton,


of how little service he could be without any phj^sic,
language or experience iu the country medicines, or their
nanies; besides which the heart-breaking distractions of
being parted for ever from his wife and children would be
insupportable, and entirely take away his qualificatious for
the King's service ; that under the favour of His Majesty's
clemency, with the utmost submission, he desired that he
might have leave to depart with us. From ourselves we
informed the Vizier that we should have esteemed this a very
great honour, but finding the Doctor under these troubles
not to be persuaded, we were obliged to lay the case before
His Majesty, and we humbly desired he would use his inter-
cessions to the King, that His Majesty might be prevailed
upon to dispatch him. The good Vizier readily offered to
use his utmost endeavours ; and since the case was so, the
business was to gain the Doctor's dispatch without displeasing
the King ; and he ordered a petition to be drawn up to His
Majesty in the same form as that given to himself. It was
sent him, and the Vizier was as good as his word ; writing
a very pathetic address to His Majesty, enforcing Mr. Hamil-
ton's reasons and backing them with his own opinion, that
it was better to let him go. The King returned an answer,
which came out the 6th, as follows : ^ Since he is privy to my
disease, and perfectly understands his business, I would very
fain have kept him, and given him whatsoever he should
have asked. But seeing he cannot be brought on any terms
to be content I agree to it ; and on condition that after he
has gone to Europe and procured such medicines as are not
to be got here and seen his wife and children, he return to
visit the Court once more, let him go.' We hope in God the
troublesome business is now blown over."

Death of The English mission to Delhi, and story of Dr.

Hamilton : in- -\r i i

u^mh'""" °°^'' Hamilton's success in curmg the great Moghul, were
long rememhered at Calcutta. Hamilton died soon
after his retm-n to Bengal. The news of his death
was sent to Delhi, hut the Emioeror, Earrukh Siyar,


would not believe it. lie sent an officer of rank to
make enquiries at Calcutta. The tombstone of the
dead surgeon is still to be seen. It bears an English
ejiitaph, together Avith a Persian inscription, which
has been thus translated : —

" Willi-im Hamilton, Physician in the service of the Eng -
lish Company, who had accompanied the English ambassadors
to the enlightened presence, and having- made his own name
famous in the four quarters of the earth by the cure of the
Emi)eror, the asylum of the world, Muhammad Farrukh Siyar,
the victorious ; and, with a thousand difficulties, having- ob-
tained permission from the Court which is the refug-e of the
universe, to return to his country ; by the Divine decree, on
the fourth of December 1717, died in Calcutta, and is buried

Within two or three years of the departure of the cioody quarrels
English mission from Delhi, the reign of Earrukh "
Siyar was brought to a troubled close. The two
brothers found it impossible to trust the sovereign
whom they had placed on the throne. They sur-
rounded the palace with their armies. During the
night the wildest rumours were spreading through
Dellii. Husain had brought up an army of
Malu'attas from the Dekhan ; it was said that the
Mahrattas were plundering the city. The Muham-
madans turned out in a panic and massacred hun-
dreds of Mahrattas. At early morning the tumult
was over.

All that night a tragedy had been going on in Mnrder of the

Em icror

the palace. Earrukh Siyar refused to leave the ^'''""'''i ^'^'"''
harem. It was no time for respecting the harem.
Abdulla Khan ordered a band of Afghans to force


the doors. ParruMi Siyar was half dead with fear.
The women filled the air with shrieks and screams ;
they tried in vain to screen him. He was dragged
from their arms and thrust into a dungeon. A hot
ii'on was drawn across his eyes ; henceforth he was
unfit to reign. A child was taken out of the state
prison and placed upon the throne. The kettle-
drums were sounded at the palace gate. The can-
non hoomed through the morning air. All men
knew that Farrukh Siyar had ceased to reign ; that
another Emperor was reigning in his stead. Delhi
was tranquil. Two months afterwards, Farrukh
Siyar was murdered in his dungeon. His remains
were huried in the famous tomb of Humayun.^
English settle- Tlic statc of Calcutta at this period is best

ments in Bengal,

^'^'^- gathered from the narrative of Captain Hamilton,

the same man who has described Madras and Fort
Saint George in 1720, or thereabouts. Captain
Hamilton furnishes not only a curious account of
Calcutta, but notices all the English settlements
in Bengal, beginning with Piply. The following
extracts appear authentic : —

Ruin of Piply by « Piplv Hes OH the banks of a river supposed to be a branch

the removal to

Hugii and of the Gano^es, about five leag-ues from that of Ballasore :

Calcutta. .

formerly it was a place of trade^ and was honoured with
Eng-lish and Dutch factories. The country produces the same
commodities that Ballasore does ; at present it is reduced to
beg-g-ary by the removal of the English factory to Hug-hly and
Calcutta, the merchants being all gone. It is now inhabited
by fi.shers, as are also Ing-ellie, and Kidgcrie, two neighbouring
islands on the west side of the mouth of Ganges. These

1 Scott's History of the Successors of Aurungzeb,


islands abound also in tame swine, where they are sold very
cheap, for I have bought oue-aud-twenty good hogs, between
50 and 80 pound weight each, for seventeen rupees, or forty-five
shillings sterling. Those islands send forth dangerous sand
banks, that are both numerous and large, and make the navi-
gation out and in to Hughly River both troublesome and
dangerous ; and after we pass those islands, in going up the river
the channel for shipping is on the east side, and several creeks
run from the channel among a great number of islands^
formed by different channels of Ganges, two of which are
more remarkable than the rest, viz., Coxe^s and Sagor Islands,
where great ships were obliged to anchor to take in part of
their cargoes, because several places in the river are too shallow
for great ships to pass over, when their whole cargoes are aboard.

" There are no inhabitants on those islands, for they are so coxe'sand
pestered with tigers that there could be no security for
human creatures to dwell on them ; nay, it is even dangerous
to laud on them, or for boats to anchor near them, for in the
night they have swimmed to boats at anchor, and carried
men out of them ; yet among the Pagans, the Island Sagor
is accounted holy, and great numbers of Jougies go yearly
thither in the months of November and December, to wor-
ship and wash in salt-water, though many of them fall
sacrifices to the hungry tigers.

" The first safe anchoring place in the river, is off the mouth Anchorage at

- . . , , Id 1 Kogue's River,

of a river about twelve leagues above bagor, commonly
known by the name of Rogue's River, which had that ap-
pellation from some banditti Portuguese, who were followers
of Sultan Shuja, when Amfr Jumla, Aurungzeb's general,
drove that unfortunate prince out of his province of Bengal ;
for those Portuguese, having no way to subsist, after their
master's flight to the kingdom of Arakan, betook them-
selves to piracy among the islands at the mouth of the Ganges ;
and that river having communication with all the channels
from Chittagong to the westward, from this river they used to
sally out, and commit depredations on those that traded in the
river of Hughly.



Cfllculta, .Tiian-
parrtua, and

Danish house. " About fivG leag-ues farther up, on the west side of the riv^ev

of Hug-hly, is another branch of the Ganges, called Gang-a. It is
broader than that of Hughly, but much shallower, and more
incumbered with sand banks; a little below the mouth of it
the Danes have a thatched house, but for what reasons they
kept a house there, I never could learn.

" Along the river of Hughly there are many small villages
and farms, intersperst in those large plains, but the first of
any note on the river^s side is Calculta, a market town for
corn, coarse cloth, butter, and oil, with other productions of
the country. Above it is the Dutch Bankshall, a place where
their ships ride when they cannot get farther up for the too
swift currents of the river. Calculta has a large deep river
that runs to the eastward, and so has Juanpardoa ; and on the
west side there is a river that runs by the back of Hughly
Island, which leads up to Radnagur, famous for manufacturing
cotton cloth, and silk romaals, or handkerchiefs. Buffundri
and Trefiudi, or Gorgat and Cottroug, are on that river,
which produce the greatest quantities of the best sugars
in Bengal.

" A little higher up on the east side of Hughly River, is
Ponjelly, a village where a corn mart is kept once or twice in
a week ; it exports more rice than any place on this river ; and
five leagues farther up on the other side, is Tanna Fort, built
to protect the trade of the river, at a place convenient
enough, where it is not above half a mile from shore to shore ;
but it never was of much use, for in the year 1686, when the
English Company quarrelled with the Moghul, the Company
had several great ships at Hughly, and this Fort was manned
in order to hinder their passage down the river. One 60-
gun ship approaching pretty near the Fort, saluted it with
a broadside, which so frightened the Gov^ernor and his myr-
midons, that they all deserted their post, and left their
castle to be plundered by the English seamen. About a
Governaporo. league farther up on the other side of the river, is Gov-
ernapore, where there is a little pyramid built for a land-
mark, to confine the Company^s Colony of Calcutta, or Fort


Tanna Fort.


■William. On that side, and aLout a league farther up,
stands Fort William.

" TheEnjrlish settled at Calcutta about the year 1690, after settlement at

^ . , Calcutta by

the Moii'hul had pardoned all the rohberies and murders com- Job ohanuock,

f^ ' . 1690.

mitted on his subjects. Mr. Job Channock beinj;- then the Com-
pany's Agent in Bengal, he had liberty to settle an emporium
in any part on the river's side below Hughly; and for the sake
of a large shady tree chose that place, though he could not
have chosen a more uuhealthful place on all the river ; for
three miles to the north-eastward, is a salt water lake that
overflows in September and October, and then prodigious
numbers of fish resort thither ; but in November and Decem-
ber when the floods are dissipated, those fishes are left dry, and
with their putrefaction affect the air with thick stinking
vapours, which the north-east winds bring with them to
Fort William, that they cause a yearly mortality. One year I
was there, and there were reckoned in August about twelve
hundred English, some military, some servants to the Com-
pany, some private merchants residing in the town, and some
seamen belonging to shipping lying at the town ; and before the
beginning of January there were four hundred and sixty
burials registered in the clerk's book of mortality.

" Mr. Channock choosino- the ground of the colony, where Despotic power

° ® . 1 '^^ Mr.Chanuock.

it now is, reigned more absolute than a liaja, only he wanted
much of their humanity, for when any poor ignorant native
transgressed his laws, they were sure to undergo a severe
whipi)ing for a penalty, and the execution was generally done
when he was at dinner, so near his dining-room that the
groans and cries of the poor delinquent served him for

" The country about being overspread with Paganism, the story of Mr.

•1 • -ii- 1 111 1 •

Online LibraryJames Talboys WheelerEarly records of British India; a history of the English settlements in India, as told in the government records, the works of old travellers, and other contemporary documents, from the earliest perio → online text (page 17 of 33)