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 4 of 33)
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Accordingly the Sulthan himself, who came to the Custom-house
as soon as we were got thither, having found among my things
a bracelet of yellow amber, and a diamond, would needs buy
them both of me: whereto when I made him answer, that I



» Travels of Pietro della Valle in 1623 and 1624. London : 1665.

3 Travels of J. Albert de Mandelslo in 1638 and 1639. Loudon : 1669.

^ The local Governor of Surat was called Sultan out of courtesy.

* The Custom House Otficers are alwaj'S termed Customers by old
travellers. After the English established themselves in India and levied
duties, the Collector was always known as the Customer.



20 EARLY REOOllDS 01" BRITISH INDIA.

was n(» meroluint, aiul tliat I valued those thing's only for their
sakes who had bestowed them on me. He was pleased to re-
turn me the diamond, but detained the bracelet, telling- me I
should have it again when I honoured him with a visit.
Entertainmoiit « While we Were in this contestation, came to the place

at the English . .

house. an Indian coach, drawn by two white oxen, which the

Eng-lish President had sent to bring me to their house ; so
that leaving the Sulthan with the bracelet, I went into it.
At the entrance of the house I met the President, with his
Second, that is to say, he who commands under him, and in
his absence, whose name was Mr. Fremling, who received me
with extraordinary kindness, and very civilly answered the
compliment I made them, upon the freedom I took to make
my advantage thereof. The President, who spoke Dutch very
well, told me I was very welcome; that in the country
where we then were, all Christians were obliged to assist one
another, and that he was the more particularly obliged there-
to as to what concerned me, in respect of the affection I
would have expressed towards some of his nation at Ispahan.
He thereupon brought me to his chamber, where there w^as
a collation ready. It consisted of fruits and preserves,
according to the custom of the country. As soon as we
were set, he asked me what my design was, and understand-
ing that I intended to return for Germany within twelve
months, he told me I was come too late to get away that
year, by reason no more ships would come that way, but
that if 1 would stay with him five or six months, till there
were a convenience of passage, he would take it kindly : that
during that time he would contribute all he could to my
divertisement : that he would find out a means how I might
see the most eminent places in the country — nay, that he
would send some of his own nation along with me, who
should find me those accommodations I could not otherwise
hope for. This obliging discourse soon prevailed with me
to accept of these proffers, so that he shewed me all the
house that I might make choice of a convenient lodging,
which I took near his Second's chamber. In the evening,
Some merchants and others belonging to the President, came



ENGLISH AT SURAT AND BOMBAY. 21

aud brought me from my cliamber to supper into a great
hall, where was the Minister with about a dozen merchants,
wlio kept me company, but the President and his Second
supped not, as being accustomed to that manner of life, out
of a fear of overcharging their stomachs, digestion being
slowly performed, by reason of the great heats which are as
troublesome there in the night time as in the day. After
supper the Minister carried me into a great open gallery,
where I found the President and his Second taking the
coolness of the sea-air. This was the place of our ordinary
rendezvous, where we met every night ; to wit, the President,
his Second, the principal merchant, the Minister and my-
self; but the other merchants came not but when they were
invited by the President. At dinner he kept a great table
of about fifteen or sixteen dishes of meat, besides the desert.

" The respect and deference which the other merchants order of the

1 o ^ Tt • ^ , 111 1. English Factory.

have tor the rresident was very remarkable, as also the
order which was there observed in all things, especially at
Divine Service, which was said twice a day, in the morning
at six, and at eight at night, and on Sundays thrice. No
person in the house but had his particular function, and
their certain hours assigned them as well for work as recrea-
tion. Our divertisement was thus ordered. On Fridayes after .
Prayers, there was a particular assembly, at which met with
us three other merchants, who were of kin to the President,
and had left as well as he their wives in England, which day
being that of their departure from England, they had ap-
pointed it for to make a commemoration thereof, and drink
their wives' healths. Some made their advantage of this
meeting to get more than they could well carry away, though
every man was at liberty to drink what he pleased, and to
mix the Sack as he thought fit, or to drink Falepuniz, which
is a kind of drink consisting of aq^iia vita, rose-water, juice
of citrons and sugar.'

1 It is a curious fact, not generally known, that punch was an Indian
drink invented by the convivial Factors at Surat. It was called punch from
the Hindustani word signifying five ingredients, viz., brandy, sugar, limes,
Spice, and water.



22



EARLY REC0III)S OF BRITISH INDIA.



Tea.



English fiarden.



Amnsemeuts at
Surat.



Journey to
Alimadubad.



" At our ordinary meetings every day, we took only T/ie,
wLich is commonly used all over the Indies, not only among
those of the country, but also among the Dutch and English,
who take it as a drug that cleanses the stomach, and digests
the superfluous humours, by a temperate heat particular
thereto. The Persians instead of T/ie drink their Ka/iwa,
which cools and abates the natural heat which T/ie preserves.'

" The English have a fair Garden without the city, whither
we constantly went on Sundayes after Sermon, and sometimes
also on other dayes of the week, where our exercise was
shooting at Butts, at which I made a shift to get a hundred
Mamoudis (or five pound sterling) every week. After these
divertisements, we had a collation of fruit and preserves,
and bathed our selves in a tanke or cistern which had five
foot water. Some Dutch gentlewomen served and enter-
tained us with much civility. What troubled me most was,
that my little acquaintance with the English tongue made
me incapable of conversation, unless it were with the
President, who spoke Dutch.

" During my abode at Surat I wanted for no divertise-
ment ; for either I walked down to the Haven, or found com-
pany in the city, especially at the Dutch President's, who had
his family there, and with whom it was the easier for me
to make acquaintance, in as much as I could converse with
them in my own language. But understanding that the
English ships, with which I intended to return into Europe,
would not be ready for their departure under three or four
months, I resolved to take a journey into the country, to the



^ This is a curious allusion to tea and coffee. In China tea is called Cha ;
so it is in India. Olearius, in his travels through Muscovy, Tartary, and
Persia, makes the following remarks : —

" The Persians are great frequenters of the taverns or tipling houses,
which they call Tazri Chattai Chane, in regard there they may have The, or
Cha, which the Usbegues Tartars bring thither from Chattai. It is an herb
which hath long and narrow leaves, about an inch iu length and half an inch
in breadth. In order to the keeping and transportations of it, they dry it
so that it turns to a dark grey colour, inclining to black, and so shrivelled up,
that it seems not to be what it really is ; but as soon as it is put into warm
water, it spreads and re-assumes its former grccu colour."



ENGLISH AT SURA.T AND BOMBAY. 23

Great Mogul's Court, taking my advantage of a Caffila, or
Caravan, of thirty wagons loaclen with quicksilver, roenas,
which is a root that dies red, spices, and a considerable sum
of money, wliich the English were sending to Ahmadul)ad.
The President had appointed four merchants, certain Banians,
twelve English soldiers, and as many Indians, to conduct
and convoy this small Caravan ; so that confident I might
undertake this journey without any danger, (which it had
not been safe for me to attempt without this convenience, by
reason of the Rajputs, and their robberies upon the high-
way,) I took the President's advice, and put my self into
their company.

" These Rajputs are a sort of high-way men, or tories, Rajput outlaws.
who keep in the mountains between Baroda and Barocbe,
which are called Champenir, where they have their fortified
places and retreats, wherein they sometimes make their party
good against the Mogul himself. Not long before he had
taken one of their strongest places, and by that means
kept them a long time in subjection ; but they revolted again,
and exercised their robberies with greater cruelty then ever."

The journey of Mandelslo from Surat to Ahmad- Ahmsdabadv
abad. is too long for extract. At Ahmadabad he
paid a visit to the Moghul Governor. His account
of this visit is very graphic. Areb Khan, the
Governor, was a type of the Governors of provinces
in the reigns of Jehangir and Shah Jehan.

*'The city of Ahmadabad maintains for the Mogul's service, Amadabad
out of its own revenue, twelve thousand horse and fifty i2^oo(Aiorsc.
elephants, under the command of a Khan, or Governor, who weaith.^^™*"^^
hath the quality of Raja, that is to say, Prince. He who
commanded there in my time, was called Areb Khan, and
about sixty years of age. I was credibly informed, that
he was worth in money and houshold-stufFe, ten Crore, which
amount to fifty millions of crowns, the Crore being accounted
at a hundred Lacs of Rupees, each Lac being worth fifty
thousand crowns. It was not long before, that his daughter,



24 EARLY RECORDS OF BRITISH INDIA.

one o£ the greatest beauties in the country, had been married
to the Mogul's second son ; and the Khan, when she went to
the Court, had sent her attended by twenty elephants, a
thousand horse, and six thousand wagons, loaded with the

His Court. richest stuffs, and whatever else was rare in the country. His
Court consisted of above 500 persons, 400 whereof w^ere his
slaves, who served him in his affairs, and were all dieted in the

His espeuce. house. I have it from good hands, that his expence in house-
keeping amounted to above five thousand crowns a month,
not comprehending in that account that of his stables, where
he kept five hundred horse and fifty elephants. The most
eminent persons of his retinue were very magnificently clad,
though as to his own person, he was nothing curious, and
was content commonly with a garment of cotton, as are
the other Indosthans, unless it were when he went abroad
into the city, or took a journey into the country ; for then
he went in great state, sitting ordinarily in a rich chair, set
upon an elephant, covered with the richest tapistry, being
attended by a guard of 200 men, having many excellent
Persian horses led, and causing several standards and
banners to be carried before him.

Mandeisio visits " I went alonij with the English merchant to visit the

the GoviTiior of ^ „ , . ? .

Ahmadabad. Govemor, whom we lound sitting in a pavilion or tent
which looked into his garden. Having caused us to sit
down by him, he asked the merchant who I was : He
told him in the Indosthan language, that I was a gentleman
of Germany, whom a desire to see foreign countries, and
to improve himself by travel, had obliged to leave his own.
That coming into Persia, upon occasion of an Embassy sent
thither by the Prince my master, I took a resolution to see

Their discourse, the Indies, as being the noblest country in the world; and
being come to that city, that I hoped he would not take it
ill if I aspired to the honour of waiting upon him. The
Governor made answer, I was very welcome, that my reso-
lution was noble and generous, and that he prayed God to
bless and prosper it. He thereupon asked me, whether
during my abode in Persia, I had learnt ought of the



ENGLISH AT SURAT AND DOiMBAY. 25

language. I replyM that I had a greater inchnation to the
Turkish lauguage, and that I uuderstood it so far as to make
a shift to express my self in it. The Governor^ who was a
Persian born, made answer, that it was true indeed, the
Turkish language was much more commonly spoken in the
Shah^s Court than that of the country, and thereupon asked
me my age, and how long it was since I left Germany. 1
told him I was 24 years of age, and that I had travelled
three years. He replied that he wondered very much my
friends would suffer me to travel so young, and asked me
whether I had not changed my habit by the way; whereto
having made answer that I had not, he told me, that it was
an extraordinary good fortune, that I had travelled in that
costume through so many countries, without meeting with
some unhappy accident, and that the Dutch and English, to
prevent any such misfortune, clad themselves according to
the fashion of the country.

" After about an hour^s discourse, we would have risen and Dinner.
taken our leaves of him, but the Governor iutreated us to
stay and dine with him. He caused some fruit to be brought,
while his people were laying the cloth, which was of cotton,
laid upon a large carpet of red Turkie-leather. The dinner
was very noble, and served up and drest according to the
Persian way, the meat being laid in dishes, all porcelane,
upon rice of several colours, in the same manner as we had
seen at the Court at Ispahan. Presently after dinner we
came away, but as I was taking my leave of the Governor
he told me in the Turkish language, Senni dahe kurim, that
is to say, we shall see you again, giving me thereby to under-
stand, that he would be glad of some further discourse with
me.

" Accordingly we went thither again, but I had clad a second visit to
my self according to the mode of the country, upon the
design I had to travel into Cambaya, which I could hardly
do without changing habit. "We found him in the same
apartment where we had seen him the time before. He was
clad in a white vestment, according to the Indian mode,



26 EARLY RECORDS OF BRITISH INDIA.

over which he had another that was longer^ of brocade^ the
ground carnation lined with white satin, and above, a
coHar of sables, whereof the skin were sewed together, so
as that the tails hung down over the back. As soon as he
saw us come in, he made us sit down by the Lords that were
with him. He was about some business, which hindered him
for a while from discoursing with us, yet could I not but
observe that he was pleased at my change of habit. He
dispatched several orders, and sometimes writ himself; yet
did not his business take him up, so as to hinder him from
taking tobacco, which he took after the same manner,
there standing near him a servant, who with one hand
held the pipe to his mouth, and set fire to it with the
other. He quitted that exercise to go and take a view of
certain troops of horse and companies of foot, which were
drawn up in the court. He would see their arms himself,
and caused them to shoot at a mark, thereby to judge of
their abilities, and to augment the pay of such as did well
at the cost of the others, out of whose pay there was so much
abated. So that seeing him thus employed we would have
taken our leaves, but he sent us word that we should dine
with him, causing in the mean time fruit to be sent us,
whereof by his order we sent the best part to our lodging.

Opium. " Soon after he called for a little golden cabinet, enriched

with precious stones, and having taken out two drawers,
out of one he took Offion, or Opium, and out of the other
Bengi, a certain drug, or powder, made of the leaves and seed
of hemp, which they use to excite luxury. Having taken a
small spoonful of each, he sent the cabinet to me, and told
me, that it could not otherwise be, but that, during my abode
at Ispahan, I must needs have learnt the use of that drug,
and that I should find that as good as any I had seen in
Persia. I told him, that I was no competent judge of it, in
regard I had not used it often, however I would then take of
it for the honour's sake of receiving it from his hands. 1 took
of it, and the English merchant did the like, though neither
of us had ever taken anv before, nor did much like il then.



ENGLISH AT SURAT AND BOMBAY. 27

"The Governor of Ahmadiibatl was a judicious unclerstanding- {iJ]5!Jr„I"of ^^^
maUj but hasty, and so rigorous, that his government inclined ^'"""^'I'J^^-
somewhat to cruelty. It happened one day, that the two
principal Directors of the English and Dutch trade there,
being invited by him to dinner; a young gentleman that
waited upon the former, comes into the hall to attend upon
his master. He had on a slashed doublet, much after the
fashion which was worn about thirty years since, which the
Governor thought so ridiculous, that he could not forbear
laughing at it, and asked the English President, in what quality
that slashed gallant served him, since that according to his
habit, he conceived he kept him for his Fool. The President
made answer, not without some confusion, that he waited on
him in his chamber, and that he had opened his doublet in
that manner to make way for the air, the better to avoid
the excessive heats of the country, which the Europeans
could not well endure. Whereto the Governor replied, that
that reason gave some satisfactiouj but what he most wondered
at was that the Christians, who are a wise and understanding
people, had not yet found out the way to make their doublets
of several shreds, rather then cut and mangle whole pieces
of stufifes to put themselves into that mode. This jesting
with the English merchant put him into so good an humour,
that he would needs devote the remainder of the day to sport
and divertisement, and thereupon sent for twenty women-
dancers, who as soon as they were come into the room fell a
singing and dancing, but with an activity and exact observa-
tion of the cadence, much beyond that of our dancers
upon the ropes. They had little hoops or circles, through
which they leaped as nimbly as if they had been so many
apes, and made thousands of postures, according to the several
soundings of their musick, which consisted of a tnmheck, or
timbrel, a haw-boy, and several tabours. Having danced
near two hours, the Governor would needs send into the city
for another band of dancers, but the servants brought word,
that they were sick and could not come. This excuse being not
taken, he sent out the same servants, with express order to



28 EARLY RECORDS OF BRITISH INDIA.

bring those women away by force; but they returning the second
time with the same excuse, he ordered they should be cudgelled.
Upon that, the women came and cast themselves at the
Governor's feet, and acknowledged that it was indeed true, they
were not sick, and that they denied to come, because they
knew well enough he would not pay them. He laught
at it, but immediately commanded out a party of his guard
to bring them to him, and they were no sooner entered into
His cruelty. the hall crc he ordered their heads to be struck off. They

M;ui(lclslo leaves ii-t • i ^ •!•

ALmadabad. bcggcd their livcs With homd cries and lamentations ; but he
would be obeyed and caused the execution to be done in
the room before all the company, not one of the Lords
then present daring to make the least intercession for
those wretches, who were eight in number. The strangers
were startled at the horror of the spectacle and inhumanity
of the action; which the Governor taking notice of, fell a
lauo-hing, and asked them what they were so much startled
at. Assure your selves, Gentlemen, said he, that if I should
not take this course, I should not be long Governor of
Ahmadabad. For should I connive once at their disobedience,
these people would play the Masters, and drive me out of
the City. ^Tis but prudence in me to prevent their eon-
tempt of my authority, by such examples of severity as these
ave."

Visit or Fryer, Tliii'ty-six jears passed away. In 1674, Dr. Pryer
visited Surat.^ He was a Surgeon in the service
of the East India Company. He has left the
following description of the English factory at
Surat. It indicates a considerahle increase in the
Company's establishment at Surat, as well as a
large extension of their trade.

The English " Thc housc the English live in at Surat, is partly the

King's gift, partly hired ; built of stone and excellent

1 Fryer's Travels in India and Persia between 1672 and 1681. London;
1698.



ENGLISH AT SURAT AND BOMBAY. 29

timber^ with good carviug, without representations; very-
strong', for that each iloor is half a yard thick at least, of
the Lest plastered cement, which is very weighty. It is
contrived after the Moor^s buildings, with upper and lower
galleries, or terrace- walks ; a neat Oratory, a convenient
open place for meals. The President has spacious lodgings,
noble rooms for counsel and entertainment, pleasant tanks,
yards, and an huramum to wash in; but no gardens in the
city, or very few, though without the city they have many, like
wildernesses, overspread with trees. The English had a neat
one, but Sevaji's coming destroyed it : It is known, as the
other Factories are, by their several flags flying.

"Here they live (in shipping-time) in a continual hurlj^- fuII of noise,
burly, the Banians presenting themselves from the hour of
ten till noon ; and then afternoon at four till night, as if it
were an Exchange in every row ; below stairs, the packers
and warehouse-keepers, together with merchants bringing
and receiving musters, make a meer Billinsgate; for if you
make not a noise, they hardly think you intent on what you
are doing.

" Among the English, the business is distributed into four The Four chief
offices ; the Accomptant, who is next in dignity to the Presi-
dent, the general accompts of all Indiii, as well as this place,
passing through his hands; he is quasi Treasurer, signing all
things, though the broker keep the cash. Next him is the
Warehouse-keeper, who registers all Europe goods vended, and
receives all Eastern commodities bought ; under him is the
Purser Marine, who gives account of all goods exported and
imported, pays Seamen their wages, provides wagons and
])orters, looks after tackling for ships, and ships' stores.
Last of all is the Secretary, who models all Consultations,
writes all letters, carries them to the President and Council to
be perused and signed ; keeps the Company's seal, which is
affixed to all passes and commissions ; records all transactions,
and sends copies of them to the Company ; though none of
these, without the President's approbation, can act or do any
thing. The affairs of India are solely under his regulation ;



30



EARLY RECORDS OF BRITISH INDIA.



The Company's
Servants, and
their Salaries.



from him issue out all orders, by him all preferment is dis-
posed ; by which means the Council are biassed by his arbi-
trament.

" The whole mass of the Company's servants may be com-
prehended in these classes, viz., Merchants, Factors, and
Writers ; some Bluecoat Boys also have been entertained
under notion of apprentices for seven years, which being
expired, if they can get security, they are capable of employ-
ments. The Writers are obliged to serve five years for 10/.
per Ami. giving in a bond of 500/. for good behaviour, all
which time they serve under some of the forementioned
Offices: After which they commence Factors, and rise to pre-
ferment and trust, according to seniority or favour, and
therefore have a 1,000/. bond exacted from them, and have
their salary augmented to 20/. ^;er Ann. for three years, then
entering into new indentures, are made Senior Factors ; and
lastly. Merchants after Three Years more ; out of whom are
chose Chiefs of Factories, as places fall, and are allowed 40/.
per Anil, during their stay in the Company's service, besides
lodgings and victuals at the Company's charges.

'' These in their several Seigniories behave themselves after
the fundamentals of Surat, and in their respective Factories
live in the like grandeur; from whence they rise successively
to be of the Council in Surat, which is the great Council ;
and if the President do not contradict, are sworn, and take
their place accordingly, which consists of about five in num-
ber, besides the President, to be constantly resident.
The PreBidcnoy. " As for the Presidency, though the Comjiany interj^ose a



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 4 of 33)