Transcript: Journal of a voyage to New Holland etc. 1815-1816 by a lady / Miss E. Spurrell
The Journal was written by (Miss) E. Spurrell, a passenger on the ship Hebe. Contains descriptions of Sydney life in 1815 and 1816.
Journal of a voyage to New Holland etc., 1815-16 by Miss E. Spurrell B 563
The title page of the journal shows the author as “A Lady” and is signed E S. and dated 1817. It is the first of a collection of five journals of different tours copied into one volume, they are in same hand, and have continuous pagination. The other journals relate to trips through European countries and Wales by other un-named authors.
The identity of the author of this journal may be partially explained by reference to the Sydney Gazette of 12 August 1815 which lists some of the passengers who arrived in Sydney aboard the ship, Hebe, and includes a “Miss Spurell”. The logbook of the Hebe also shows under “List of Passengers outward – Mrs E Harris – going out to her husband”, and “Miss E Spurrel
– companion to Mrs Harris”. (ML. MSS 809/1, p142)
There is no further evidence of the author’s name or identity. Mrs Eliza Harris was the 26 year old newly-married wife of Dr John Harris, surgeon and settler, who had returned to the colony earlier. (The spelling of 'Spurrel' is as it appears in the log.)]
[Note by State Library of NSW Librarian]
This description of N.S.W. is evidently transcribed by a woman from an original MS as were apparently the other journals of tours in the [indecipherable]
The paper I think is 1818 paper and the description of the last tour was 1823 or later.
The description of Sydney life in 1815.16 is interesting and of some value. We can probably find the name of the lady who arrived by the Hebe and there are in the MS lots of points to work on. The price is quite enough for a copy of a journal but I agreed to accept for the Mitchell. W.H.I. 3/5/23
May be either Miss Spurrell or Miss Marian Black [Page 2]
Agent General for New South Wales, Immigration Publicity Bureau, Australia House
Strand, London, W.C.2
Early in Sydney Gazette, shews Miss Spurrell’s name among passengers per Hebe. The journal of this voyage in 1815-6 is signed E.S.
A Journal of a Voyage to Calcutta, Java &c during the years 1815 & 1816 By a Lady (Miss) E. Spurrell
Life is a journey = on we go Through many a scene of joy Nor let us linger on our way:=
Like, as a stream, whose varying course Now marches with impetuous force; Now in successive eddies plays,
Or in meanders gently strays:= Still it moves on, till spreading wide It mingles with the briny tide,
And when it meets the Ocean’s roar The limpid waves are seen no more, Such = Such is life’s uncertain way !!!
In Compliance with your Request my dear Sarah, I have written you a full & particular account as far as is in my power of the Countries which I have visited Namely Madeira, New Holland, Java &c The journal commences on the 5th February 1815. The evening of which day I quitted London for Portsmouth, where we were to embark for the distant country of New Holland. We arrived at Portsmouth on the 6 th at 7 o’clock A.M. when the Captain of the Ship in which we were going out received us = We remained at Portsmouth two days, I then joined the Ship, but the Wind continuing unfavourable we were detained off St Helens three weeks, & a most unhappy time I experienced, being as it were in sight of my friends & unable to be with them, at length the wind became favourable & on the morning of the 29th of February (it being Leap Year) the Commodore hoisted a Signal for the Fleet to get under weigh & about 8 o’clock A.M. our anchor being up & sails unfurled
we bid adieu to Old England – It certainly was a beautiful sight on leaving St Helens to see the different Ships getting under weigh and bearing down the channel, there was near two hundred sail consisting of the East & West India Fleets, the Mediterranean & African. Our party on board consisted of ten passengers, & to add to the agreeability of the party no less than Seven children. My feelings on leaving sight of the land which had given me birth, may more easily be imagined than described, when I reflected that in all probability I might never again behold those friends to whom I was most sincerely attached, This I must confess my dear Sarah was a trial & one which I hope you will never experience, however I endeavoured to keep up my spirits, to divest myself of all past & to look forward with hope to the future; but to proceed = the weather continued fine with a pleasant breeze, whilst bearing down the channel, to the white Cliffs of Albion we soon bid adieu
But we were not to enjoy such serenity of weather, for in few days we experienced the most tremendous gale of wind that lasted Eleven days, in consequence of which the fleet became dispersed, some of them as we afterwards learnt put into Torbay with the Commodore, others returned to St Helens, we with two or three others continued our passage; or were in the most imminent danger, for the wind continuing so long in an unfavourable quarter, we were driven so far to the Eastward, that we were in sight of the coast of Portugal, indeed such was our forlorn situation, that the Captain had given over all hope of saving the Ship, at one time we were so near the coast that with a glass we could plainly perceive the houses, we like wise saw the Rock of Lisbon, but fortunately the gale abated, which enabled us to make sail and get clear of our present danger, which were I assure you rather formidable, & a bad commencement to so long and dreary a passage. We had no sooner recovered from this difficulty, than we had another, which,
at the present time seemed alarming, it was a strange sail bearing down upon us, & at that time England being at war with America, we of course apprehended her to be an enemy, our deck was accordingly cleared for action, & every Man at his Gun, this had certainly a novel appearance to me, all hands were at work, & even the females were not backward in rendering what little assistance was in their power, the Men were in high Spirits, the vessel appeared nearer, the colours were hoisted, & to our great joy instead of an enemy, we found a friend, the Vessel being an English Man of War, they of course boarded us & after the usual forms were accomplished we proceeded, we had two rencounters of the same nature; during one of these certainly awkward Suspenses, a lady passenger was confined of a very fine girl. At length after all these remarkable events, we reached the Island of Madeira at which place the Commodore the evening previous to the Commencement
of the Gale had hoisted a signal that in the event of a dispersion of the fleet, we were all to rendezvous there, till he should join us. We made Madeira 30th March & happy I was to see land once more. Having letters of introduction I passed my time very pleasantly with a Mr & Mrs Penfold from whom I received the greatest possible attention & who took me to see every thing worthy of notice in the Island. Madeira is certainly a delightful spot, the Climate extremely fine, so much so, that it is quite a place of resort for the Invalids of all countries, it is very woody from which it originally claimed its name, Madeira being the Portuguese for wood, it is also very Mountainous, & I understand that the highest of the mountains is generally covered with snow throughout the year, I went to the summit of one, where a Portuguese Gentleman, a man of some consequence in the Island & allied to some of the Nobility had built a most delightful summer residence, The grounds were beautifully
laid out, quite in the English style, there was a collection of birds and animals of different Countries, together with a variety of gold, Silver, and other kinds of fish, the tout ensemble was really worth seeing – Our mode of conveyance was by Palanquins & I had the pleasure of being carried in a hammock, our party consisting of three, it is astonishing with what rapidity the men will carry you. I did not see the Vineyards to perfection, it being winter season when we arrived & consequently but little fruit, the principal of which were Bananas, which I think very good. The Island of Madeira generally appears enveloped in the obscurity of a dense cloud, when Porto Santo was discovered by Gonsalvez Zarco it was the popular conjecture of the superstitious of those times that this settled gloom might be suspended over one of the Mouths of Hell. The Town of Funchal is situated in the midst of a verdant valley in which churches & other buildings white on the outside, being
interspersed make an agreeable contrast with the ever-green trees and plantations. The highest visible object that particularly catches the eye is the Convent of Nossa Senhora do Monte, our Lady of the Mountain which being surrounded by Gardens and Groves & avenues of Chesnut – trees, appears as if buried in the midst of a forest. The Bay of Funchal at all times indifferent as a place of anchorage for shipping, is considered as extremely dangerous from the Autumnal to the Vernal Equinox. Funchal is an irregularly & meanly built town, the streets are narrow, crooked, & dirty, some paved with small pointed pebbles, that seem to pierce through the soles of the shoes at every step, & others without any pavement but the edges of schistose lava breaking through the surface. The Mountain rills trickle through some of the streets in their passage to the bay; but instead of contributing to the cleanliness of the Town, these little streamlets are
production of every kind of nuisance. There the inhabitants wash their clothes, clean their fish, deposit the offal of butcher’s shops, empty the contents of their night machines, & in short bring together all the filthy and offensive materials, that are collected in the town. The few good houses that are found in the town belong to British Merchants, but they are far from commodious. Their roofs are generally covered with tiles on which large loose stones are laid to prevent their being carried away by the blasts of wind that occasionally blow with great violence from the Mountains behind the town. There are six other small towns or villages on the Island.
At a little distance behind the Government House which stands within the Fort Larenco & overlooks the bay, is the Passo Publico, the public Mall, a short but very pretty walk, well shaded with Orange and Lime trees, willows & poplars. On one side of the entrance stands the Theatre, which is seldom opened,& on the other the Hospital
Hospital. Funchal like other towns & Cities of Roman Catholic Countries has no scarcity of Churches and Convents. Our first visit was to the Convent of “Santa Clara”, we were received with great civility by the Lady Abbess, who appeared to be a pleasant affable old lady, & much respected by all her young attendants the Nuns, several of whom were handsome fine young women, it was melancholy to see them thus banished from Society, but they all appeared cheerful & perfectly contented with their situation in life. Their dress was exceedingly pretty, composed of black camlet, the head dress quite in the Ann Boleyn style, which was very becoming, we purchased artificial flowers of them, which they sell in support of the Convent, before we quitted the Island we paid them another visit by invitation from the Lady Abbess. We went with an intention of visiting another order of the Sisterhood called the “Capuchins” but found that they were never visible to any one, with the
exception of their own friends, such is the rigidity of their order. We entered the Chapel in which every thing was remarkably plain, Their dress we were informed was composed of coarse woollen stuff & they do not even allow themselves the comfort of a bed, as they lie on boards. The Franciscan Convent is appropriated to Friars, it is a very large building, here were some remarkably handsome young Men. We went through all the Apartments, which by the by, is quite contrary to their laws, as they ought not to admit females beyond the precincts of the Court Yard, but in this respect we were favoured & we proceeded attended by a very agreeable young Man, a Roman Catholic Priest, through the whole of the Convent. The private Apartments of the young Men were very neatly fitted up, & each seemed to have an occupation, one was building the Model of a Ship, other spinning &c. The Kitchen was the most disgusting part of the building, for filth & nastiness was indeed visible in every part of it -
The Portuguese, you know [Page 15]
are not reckoned the most cleanly people in the world.
There are apartments in the Convent where all the young men designed for priests come to study, the Chapel attached to this building is spacious and indeed magnificent. Some of their Images are just in a most costly style, being decorated with all kinds of precious stones, some of these are private property, almost all the Chapels that I saw in the Island were fitted up in a most superb manner. I had an opportunity of seeing High Mass performed, the singing at Intervals during the Service was delightful, but to me there appeared to be a great deal of unnecessary [indecipherable]
There was a strange Ceremony I understood to be performed after Service, it being a particular day with the Roman Catholics, but we did not really feel inclined to witness it, it was no less an operation than the Priests actually washing the feet of all the Mendicants who came to them. This delightful treat is I believe performed annually by the priests. When we visited the Franciscan Convent,
we were shown a chamber in one of the wings, which they call the Golgotha, the walls & ceiling of which are completely covered with rows of human skulls & human thigh bones so arranged that in the obtuse angle made by every pair of the latter, crossing each other obliquely is placed a skull. They say they are those of all the holy men as they term themselves who died in the Convent, but I should rather suspect they must occasionally have robbed the Church Yard of a few lay brethren in order to accumulate such a prodigious number which I should suppose must amount to above three thousand.
We had no taste for Craniology, in all probability it would have been highly interesting to Dr Spurzhiem the former lecturer on heads. On entering such a Solemn place it certainly strikes you with awe, & reminded me most forcibly to what we all either sooner or later must come!
The only vacant space that appeared in the room is in the centre of the side opposite the door on which there is an
extraordinary painting above a kind of altar, but what the subject is intended to represent I am really at a loss to decide. A figure in the Picture, intended probably for St. Francis, the patron Saint, seems to be intent on trying in a balance the comparison weight of a Sinner & a Saint. A dirty lamp suspended from the ceiling, & just glimmering in the Socket, served dimly to light up this dismal den of skulls. The Society here is rather confined & what few I did see, during my stay in the Island, I must confess did not give me the idea of them being very genteel.
There is a Consul resident here who occasionally gives an entertainment to the Inhabitants, but which generally takes place during the time that the Indiamen are here, & in which I rather think consists their principal gaiety. The town of Funchal is built entirely a la Portuguese.
Streets narrow, houses large & some of them not very cleanly, & what in my opinion had not the most despicable appearances, females always standing at the windows.
The English residents are remarkably great dancers, but for their elegance in this accomplishment I cannot say much, & assuredly upon casting one glance upon the ladies feet, it could hardly be expected, for I really do not exaggerate when I tell you that their feet are more like the hoofs of a Cart horse than anything else.
We had an invitation from the English Consul resident here to remain with him as long as we continued on the Island. We experienced the greatest civility from every one, even the natives seeing we were English made their obeisance as we passed them.
They appeared to give up their time principally to religion, but I am fearful there is a great deal in outside show. The lower classes are subject to scorbutic complaints, particularly a species of the Itch which is attended with an extraordinary degree of inflammation, this may be attributed to the poverty of their food, which chiefly consists of fish, pumpkins, & sour wine or pernicious Spirits, added to which they have no regard to cleanliness. Among the Mountains of Madeira several women both young &
old may be observed, cutting fuel to be used in the town, which they carry in large bundles on their heads; travelling bare footed on sharp stony roads & down frightful precipices, over a distance of at least ten or twelve miles. Indolence is certainly predominant particularly among the Men, who are usually seen basking at full length before their doors in the heat of the day. A linen or Calico Shirt, a pair of canvas or checked linen trowsers & a red or blue woollen night cap, not unlike the sacred emblem of the french Revolutionists, constitutes their usual dress, which with their sallow and meagre looks & long black hair gives them a ferocious appearance, yet they are in fact a civil, harmless and well disposed people. The dress of the female Mountain woodcutters consists of a shift, a petticoat, and a thick cap or coarse handkerchief tied about the head. The middle class of people, who earn a livelihood by keeping shops are distinguished in their dress from the vulgar, by the addition of a hat, shoes & stockings & a long black cloak, which
frequently conceals beneath its covering a multitude of rents and patches. Their wives and daughters are almost invariably habited in black cloth petticoats, & a jacket of the same material, with a large hood drawn over the head. It would be unreasonable to expect that the women of this place should exhibit the most perfect models of purity & delicacy; but we were not exactly prepared to observe these hooded matrons & damsels stepping aside, with perfect composure, to the creeks & corners of the streets and like Mde Rambouillet “plucking their noses in open day, & in full view of every passenger”
There are several beggars & contrary to the usual custom of ours, who assumes at least the outward appearance of being objects of compassion, & frequently of disgust, a Portuguese
puts on his best coat when goes a begging. The Monks of St Francis profess it per amor di Deos & the laity beg for the love of themselves. The hospitality at Madeira is unbounded, the houses of the English Merchants are constantly kept open for the accommodation of
strangers who may call at the Island. The oranges & Grapes were out of season, but the flowers were delightful. It was March when we arrived, & the weather was as warm as July in England, The climate was most delightful. The plants cultivated here are Vines, Oranges, Lemons, Citrons, Figs, Apricots, Peaches, & European fruits, besides good Walnuts & chesnuts. The usual mode of training the Vines is by basket work fixed to espaliers, about five feet high; but in some vineyards they are led up trees, or high poles, & in others cut down to the hight of two or three feet. In some places the hills are terraced, in order to retain the soil by stone walls. The process of making the wine is I am told very simple. The Grapes are picked from the stalk, thrown into a vat, pressed first with the feet & afterwards by a weighted wooden Lever. No noxious animal is known to exist in Madeira, no Serpents whether venomous or innocent, neither hares nor foxes. Hogs are said to be turned loose among the thickets to fatten on roots & especially on
those of fern, by which they acquire a flavour of game. A few Oxen are used in the town for drawing sledges, but the common animals of burden is the Mule. Among the birds are Kites, Hawkes, Partridges, Pigeons, Quails, Woodcock, Swallow, Sparrows, Grey Canaries, Finches, & Linnets.
There are few Insects of any kind that infect this Island as in other warm Countries; no venomous reptile has ever been known to exist there. Such myriads of Lizards were ever seen in any Country. On a warm sunny day, every rock & stone-wall are literally covered with them. They are perfectly harmless except that, creeping along the branches of the vine, they pierce the ripe grapes & suck out their juice. The Honey Bee is not uncommon, & in some sheltered valleys, where the surrounding hills abound with healthy plants, the honey is said to be unusually fine. We paid the Abbess of Santa Clara a second visit before we quitted the Island, she received us very graciously, she
saluted us & spoke to us a Considerable time thro’ the grating, she had several Nuns with her.
A Piano was in the room, which belonged to one of the Nuns, who pressed us the key, the Lady Abbess requested me to sing & play to her, in which I acquiesced, The Old lady & her party appeared quite delighted, she is a charming Old Lady, her manners quite delighted me, they were so very different from what we might expect from the sable appearance of every thing around. I left Madeira on the 21st of April, The Convoy having at length arrived with the West India Fleet. Seeing them come round a Corner of the Island was a beautiful sight . I was at one of Mr Penfold’s Country houses which has a commanding view of the Sea. The West India Fleet on their arrival took their route, & the Commodore Remained till the Ships with which he was to proceed got ready for sea. From the time we left Madeira till the time we arrived in New South Wales, we never saw land. The weather was exceedingly fine till we arrived in the latitude of the
Cape of Good Hope, when it became as usual extremely boisterous & as unpleasant as could possibly be imagined, for except that point near the line, we had a series of gales of wind.
There are few scenes in nature so terrific or sublime, so well calculated to impress the mind with wonder & admiration as a storm at sea & include those who have experienced bad weather those alone have any idea of the awfulness of the situation; imagine to yourself the Sea Mountains high, & every wave that dashes the Ship seems to threaten destruction. In one of the gales when close reefing the top sails, we had the misfortune to lose our Gunner
who fell off the yard arm never to rise more, This cast a gloom upon all as may be supposed, & from the tremendous heavy sea which was on, it was impossible to lower a boat, as it would have endangered the lives of the boat’s Crew. We saw four sail of French Ships,
previously to their hoisting their colours we were in hopes of their proving homeward bound Indiamen, that we might be enabled to write to our friends; but immediately that we saw what they were, the captain thought it
it most advisable to scamper off, having learnt at Madeira that Buonaparte had escaped from Elba. We therefore set all possible sail, & were soon out of sight. We spoke one Ship bound to the same port, to which we were.
These were the only adventures with which we met, in the course of nearly three tedious months & in the Evening of the 9th of August we made the “Heads” the entrance to the harbour of Port Jackson. On the 10th we entered, a Naval Officer came off to us to take an account of the Ship; & likewise a Pilot; we anchored about 12 P.M. after having fired a Salute of 13 Guns in complement to the Governor. Now for the grand climax of all my adventures. I shall commence my momentous entrance into the New World as it may be called.
My feelings were of a mixed nature, for, in the first instance I was rejoiced that the voyage had come to a close, & in the second a melancholy had overshadowed my brow, on remembering that I was in a distant country, severed from all my friends & not even an acquaintance to whom I could open my mind; with reflections like these I quitted the Ship.
Dr. Harris to whom we were going received me in a friendly manner. As soon as he heard of the arrival of the “Hebe”, he made his appearance to welcome his wife whom he knew had taken her passage in that Ship. He appeared a sensible clever man, but of rough unpolished manner. On arriving at the Drs my spirits were not in least cheered & really felt as if my heart would break, when I contemplated the wretchedness & misery of all around. The House was a very good one but very much out of repair, during the Doctor’s absence the property had been left to the care of an Agent who had made sad havoc by neglecting it, & selling a great deal of the property, it might have been made an exceedingly pretty place, but it was quite in an uncultivated state. It was about a mile from Sydney & called Ultimo, we had a commanding view of the Town, which was not to be sure a very interesting Spectacle. I really could not help exclaiming to myself, “is it in this unhappy looking place after the fatigues of so perilous a voyage, that I am to remain”? The Colony of New
South Wales is far very far inadequate to repay the undertaking of such a tremendous voyage. False in the extreme was the representation of the Country made to me in England, but in this particular I found I was not singular, as many had been deceived in the same manner. The people of England labour under a very mistaken idea with regard to this place; in my opinion no one would ever venture to it if they had the most remote idea of what they might expect on their arrival. I found every thing contrary to what I could wish, I thought of all you had said, & wished I had attended to your advice before I set off. But I am convinced there is a fate in all things, some have more of the sweets of this life than others, & I am sorry to say I am not of that number, but probably I was wrong to repine, the Almighty may still have something good in store for me, but certainly my prospects on my first arrival were very gloomy, but at all events I had done all for the best, unfortunately I had allowed myself to be over persuaded. But to proceed. You probably may
not know that Botany Bay was so named by Capt Cook from the great quantity of plants collected then by Mr Banks and Dr Solander. In places there was some appearance of
cultivation, but otherways, barrenness was predominant in every respect. Such was the delightful country to which I had arrived! a most enviable spot! - The Colony at the time of our arrival was in a sad state, robbery, murder, & crimes of every kind was committed, They would even steal the Iron hinges off the gates, but this you will say is not to be wondered at when I tell you that the man who was at the head of the police was once a Highwayman, I understand he was not literally transported, but he was obliged to leave Europe, his name was Wentworth & I heard he was related to Lord Fitzwilliam. Every article was at a most exhorbitant price scarcely attainable, fresh butter nine & ten Shillings a Sterling pr. pound.
Fowls 10 Shillings a Couple & in short every thing was in like proportion, & no comforts to be obtained where-withal. There was very little visiting. The Society con –
- sisted chiefly in the Military & those parties that were given, excepting the Colonel’s appeared to be either from form, or some interested motive, in short the chief object here is as in most other countries – Money – There as in every little petty place of the kind, there are two parties, which certainly did not contribute tot the agreeableness of the residents, every one expressed himself dissatisfied, & wished himself in another Country, Many & Many were the unhappy moments that I spent - You must leave England for some time & visit different Countries before you know its real value. The Governor’s House was small but pleasantly situated, having a view of the harbour.
The Barracks I daresay, in the course of time will be a fine building, when I left the Country they were making considerable improvements.
The Commissary’s House, the name of which was “Wooloomooloo” considering the country in which it is situated, is a pleasant residence, being very retired & out of the way of the town.
I found a great acquisition in this family, they were extremely friendly [Page 30]
to me, & I was frequently with them & likewise with the Colonel & Mrs Molle, the latter of whom kindly interested himself about me; we occasionally had very pleasant parties at the Colonels, in the evening we had part of the band, we used it to “trip it on the light fantastic toe”, as there were generally a great abundance of beaus – On the 6th of January 1816. The Dr. gave a large dinner party to most of the officers of the 46th Regiment, it was a wager, which he had lost with them & the loser was to provide a dinner.
I spent a very pleasant evening, we had some of the band, & had a pleasant dance. On the monday following the officers of the Grenadier Company & those of the light Infantry had a match at fives. Those of the Grenadiers had requested me to be on their side which was the “White Rose” & those of the Light Infantry the “Red Rose” had fixed upon their Lady. We accordingly met, & the Roses being presented by the respective Ladies, the Match commenced & my party came off crowned with laurels. We afterwards adjourned to the Colonel’s, where we remained till the Officers of the two flank Companies came
to hand us to their Mess Room, where we were to partake of a cold collation & Mrs Molle, as the Colonel’s Lady was to be the Lady President. I was handed in, by two of the Officers of the Grenadiers. The band striking up on our entrance “The British Grenadiers” The Collation consisted of every possible delicacy, several appropriate toasts were given concerning the Red & White Roses & the band played at Intervals. After this refreshment we returned to the Colonel’s Apartments, & spent a very pleasant evening.
New Holland, is, as well as the Cape, a place of resort for Invalid Officers from India, the climate is considered fine, although variable, there are few epidemic disorders, but I have been informed when once an illness seizes you, you are soon carried off. The weather in England is very changeable, but in NSW you are not certain of it from one hour to the next; the wind generally blows in the most violent manner, at my arrival in the Country there had not been Rain for three years, & it was then the 10th August & so excessively cold that we had fires in our bed rooms; about
Christmas when you are shivering over a fire, the Inhabitants of New Holland were nearly suffocated by the burning rays of the sun. I saw not a single thing to admire except the Harbour which was certainly very fine, it wends so prettily with the land & here & there a small Island interspersed, with the shrubs growing out of the rocks had a very pretty effect, as well as a remarkable appearance, those plants which in England would be prized as exotic, here grow wild & the variety of their colours is beautiful.
On coming up to the town when we anchored, the prospect was certainly not so inviting. It had the appearance of a large Country village in England, with small pieces of ground before the houses. The Inhabitants generally speaking of the most abandoned kind, especially the Female part. On a fresh importation of Convicts they are assembled in the prison yard, where the Governor harangues them, he tells them that on their arrival in the new world, the faults committed in the Old will be forgotten & they will in future be treated accordingly as they conducted themselves
Those who have behaved particularly well during the voyage are recommended by the Captain to the notice of the Governor. If any prove refractory they are continued in confinement & brought out chained at 9 o’clock in the morning to their work, & are taken back at 3.
The Natives are not considered to live long & their Constitution becomes sooner fixed than in our European Climate. The Children born in this Country are generally fine & healthy, but in the course of a few years a material alteration takes place, and old age comes on prematurely. The original Natives of New Holland are a most forlorn abject race of beings, scarcely in their appearance human & although Europeans have been so long resident amongst them, there are very few, that are in the least civilized. In their stature they are tall & remarkably thin, some perfectly black, others brown, you can scarcely know their true colour for they have three or four coats of dirt on them, never washing themselves except when compelled to go into
the water in search of fish. You may smell them at some distance, & though they never clean their hair in any way, astonishing it is to say they are free from vermin. Their dress would make you laugh, they generally go about in a state of nudity & those of them who do wear clothes, are ridiculous enough, as they will only put on a jacket, without the essentials – Articles - & the females go in a similar manner, some do contrive to get clothes a skin or a blanket, & in this wretched plight they enter the town. Dr Harris tells a story of a Lady who some time ago visited the settlement & made herself very absurd - She was walking out with two Gentlemen when she met two of these naked beauties, she very ridiculously put her handkerchief before her eyes & said pray do hide me from those naughty Men – I was certainly rather staggered at first being unused to such exhibition but I did not have recourse to my handkerchief.
The Habitations of these unfortunate people are composed of the bark of trees, sometimes the back
of a single tree which they put together in a sort of manner – in the bush, the shape of the dwelling is that of half a bee hive, The height about three feet & in diameter about four feet & a half, They form into parties & huddle together like monkeys, their position when sitting is exactly the same. They carry their habitations about with them. They have a fire generally at the entrance of their huts –
But beside their bark huts they make use of excavations in the rocks. In these huts & caves they lie down indiscriminately mixed, Men Women & Children together & appear to have no more enjoyment than may be supposed to be found by the brutes, a shelter from the weather, & if not disturbed by external enemies, the comfort of sleep. They sleep extremely sound for
which reason their enemies frequently take this opportunity to revenge themselves on each other. The natives on the Sea-Coast live principally on fish many of which are caught by the women with lines made by themselves of the bark of small trees which they find in the neighbourhood.
Their hooks are made of the mother of pearl Oyster which they rub on a stone until it assumes the shape that they want. The natives who live in the woods are compelled to seek a different subsistence, they climb the trees for fruits & berries, wild honey, Yams & fern- roots. They wander about in the day and catch Paroquets, Apossums &c. &c. which they dispose of for bread, rum, or indeed any thing that you will give them, of rum they are particularly fond & with it they frequently become intoxicated, the females may perchance ask for a petticoat! They are extremely dirty as I said before, being very fond of rubbing themselves over with train oil, but they are compelled to this as a guard against the effects of the air & of Mosquitoes & flies. Some have been seen with the entrails of fish frying in the burning sun upon their heads, until the oil ran down over their foreheads. They paint themselves in the most frightful manner, sometimes a large white circle is drawn round each eye, the contrast of their black complexions, making
them appear perfectly horrible, they also have waved lines down each arm, thigh & leg; some with cheeques daubed, & lines drawn over each rib. Both sexes are ornamented with scars upon the breast, arms and back, which are cut with broken pieces of shell that they use for fishing, they cut two lines through the skin by this means & afterwards the intermediate skin is repeated till the wound rises considerably above the flesh, after which it is suffered to heal over. The men are very dexterous in throwing the spear, & dreadful battles they have among themselves, The cause of these quarrels is generally about their” Gins” which interpreted into the English language signifies “wife”. Their Spears are jagged at the end & have oyster shells fixed into them. They defend themselves with uncommon dexterity, in short when they take aim let it be at the distance of twenty feet they are generally sure to wound, if the distance exceed that, instead of using simply their hand, they throw the spear with an Instrument which is called a throwing stick. They have long black hair, on which they sometimes fasten with a yellow gum
the front tooth of a Kangaroo, by way of ornament, or the jawbone of a large fish, human teeth, pieces of wood, feathers of birds, the tail of the dog &c On particular occasions they ornament themselves with red & white clay using the former when preparing to fight, the latter for dancing. They also pierce the lower part of the nose in which they thrust a reed or bone by way of ornament, it sometimes extends nearly from ear to ear, the articulation is frequently rendered very imperfect by it.
The women have the first joint of the little finger of the left hand taken off, when infants they have a ligature round the finger which separates the two joints which in the course of three or four weeks will hang almost by a thread, it is then cut off. The reason assigned for this mutilation is, that these joints of the little finger are in the way when they wind their fishing lines over the hand, very few were to be met not without their mutilation, most of them lose the right front tooth; & I understand there is a very particular ceremony
used on this occasion, but which I do not sufficiently comprehend to relate. There are very few instances among them of deformed persons & yet no creatures on earth can be less attentive to their young than these savages, many instances have occurred of Infants rolling into the fire, while their Mothers slept beside them. The Children are at first carried about for some days on a piece of soft bark & as soon as it is strong enough is removed to the shoulders, where it sits with its legs across the Mother’s neck; & catches hold of her hair to
keep itself from falling. They are early decorated with fish bones & teeth of animals in their hair, the amputation of the first two joints of the finger they call Mal-gun. At about a month or six weeks old the child receives its name, which is generally taken from some object before their eyes, such as a bird, a beast, or a fish & is given without any ceremony.
Between the ages of eight & sixteen the Males & Females undergo what they call Gnanoong, which is the boring of the Septum of the nose. The Men wear their beards short, which are curly like the hair of their heads,
some have supposed they singed them, as they have no razors with which they could keep them short. In general they have very beautiful teeth, They are fond of dancing but preparatory to this, the ladies take great pains to ornament the Gentlemen, & no fop preparing for an assembly could take more pains with his person, to make himself irresistably beautiful. The paint for decorating their bodies cannot be used without moisture & the lady when drawing those marks on the face which to them are so essential, frequently spits on the face of the youth she is employed in adorning.
The marriage ceremony is extremely strange, but not having been eye witness I cannot explain it so well as I could wish.
The Ceremony principally consists, in pulling the females each party endeavouring to see which is the strongest. Their wives are always selected from the women of a different tribe from that of the Males & with whom they are at enmity, the poor wretches are stolen upon in the absence of their protectors, who never resent the outrage, but only retaliate
by a similar attack when they find an opportunity.
The poor creature is first stupefied with blows inflicted with a club on her head, back & shoulders which is followed by a stream of blood. This is so constantly the practice amongst them, that even the children make it a play-game or exercise. Such is the ignorance in which these poor creatures are, & apparently to continue! Some of the Inhabitants have taken great pains with several of the females, & have taught them to work, but they never could get them to remain long, they would be off again in the bush, pursuing their own manner of living.
Indeed I believe these are the only race of beings, amongst whom civilization has gained so little ground. They are harmless inoffensive people, & are always accompanied by a dog peculiar to the country, They are of a reddish colour, & of the wolf kind, not unlike our English Fox, they have never yet been known to be tamed, it is impossible to cure them of their natural ferocity altho’ well fed they will at all times, but particularly in the dark fly at young pigs, chickens or any small
animal, immediately kill & generally eat them. The only idea which these people have of Religion is they admit of a Supreme Being, but I have never heard of their having a form of Prayer. There exists among them some idea of a future state, but wholly unconnected with religion, for it had no influence on their lives & actions. They say that after their death some of them went beyond the great water, others of them asserted that they went to the clouds, that they ascended in the shape of little children, first hovering on the tops & in the branches of trees & that in that state they live upon little fishes.
They are excellent Mimics particularly the children.
When their wives get old, they are allowed to take a young one, but they still continue to maintain their first wife, there was often a great deal of jealousy between them, but the first claimed a priority of attachment, while the second was compelled to be the drudge & slave of both. Indeed the women at all times are treated worse than slaves, they are considered I believe very little above the brutes
Each tribe has a district to which he belongs & they dare not encroach upon each other’s territory without permission, or even to enter that district, so notwithstanding their extreme barbarism they have some idea of Government. The Chief or eldest of the tribe or family is called father, they treated them with the utmost respect. On the death of a parent the nearest relation or some deputed friend, takes care of the children & is called Be-anna or Father, a little difference this between these poor unenlightened Savages & our Christian Sponsors, I the event of the Mother’s death if she leaves an Infant behind, the living child is placed by its Mother & the Grave instantly filled up, they justify this extraordinary act, by saying, that as no woman could be found to nurse the child, it must have died a worse death than that to which it had been put. The custom may in some degree account for the thinness of population which is observed among the natives of this Country. I had almost forgotten to give you an account of the Burial of the Natives. It was
formerly supposed that they burnt their dead & indeed they to the present day burn all old & middle aged people, according to the Indian Custom. The younger people they consign to the grave much after our own plan with the exception of a Coffin which they never use, they do not dig the graves any very great depth, & it is lined with soft grass, when covered in, several branches of shrubs are placed in a half circle on the South-side of the grave, extending them from the foot to the head of it. They never mention the name of the deceased, & whether they die a natural or a violent death, they think themselves called upon to revenge it. If murdered they kill any one belonging to the tribe of him who has perpetrated the deed, it must be some relative, & then they practice all kinds of barbarity, children even are not spared should they happen to come first in their way. When any of them are ill, their friends apply their mouth to the part of the body which is afflicted, breathe strongly on it & sing very loud. They are visited by a Man called a Car-rah-dy, who
threw himself into various distortions, applies his mouth to different parts of the patient’s body & at length after appearing to labour much & to be in great pain, spits out a bone (which he had previously procured) he then withdraws to partake of such fare as the friends of the sick have to give him. These Car-rah-dys may be called the High priests of superstition, it is they who always extract the tooth from the boys. The patients after all their incantations feel perfectly satisfied & think themselves entirely cured. These people are dreadfully superstitious, they will sometimes fancy themselves extremely ill in consequence of some person or other being inimical to them. In this case they will sit down upon the ground with a line tied round their heads taking care to fix the knot in the centre of the forehead, the remainder of the line is taken by a female who sits a small distance from her, & with the end of it frets her lips until they bleed copiously; the sick person imagining all the time that the blood comes from his or her head, & that it passes along the line till it
till it runs into the Mouth of the operator. This operation they term Be-an-ny & it is the peculiar province of the women. They believe in Spirits. A general idea prevails among them that by sleeping at the grave of a deceased person, they would from what happened to them there, be freed from all future apprehensions respecting apparitions, for many this sleep they fancy that the Spirit of the deceased will visit them, seize them by the throat & open them, take out their bowels which they would replace & close up the wound. They acknowledge that very few choose to encounter the darkness of the night; but such as were so hardy became immediately Car-rah-dys, it is absolutely necessary that all who exercise this profession should have gone through this ceremony. Of thunder & lightening they are all very much afraid; but believe that by chanting some particular words, & breathing hard that they can dispel it. When they feel pain, they fasten a tight ligature round the part, thereby stopping the circulation, & easing the part immediately affected
They are revengeful, jealous & courageous; their revenging themselves on each other in the night is not from a spirit of cowardice, but that their revenge may be more certain. They disclaim all idea of any superiority that is not personal. They are susceptible of friendship, & capable of feeling sorrow, but the latter sensation they never encourage long. They imagine that the sun returns over their heads during the night to the quarter whence he begins his course in the morning. Their favourite Burial place is at Woolloomooloo. The language of the New Hollander is considered extremely soft & expressive, their words consisting of so many vowels, as you may perceive from the above word, but to hear them converse it appears a complete jargon, but I understand the language differs very much in different parts of the Island. Their noses are flat nostrils wide, eyes much sunk in the head, & covered with thick eye-brows; in addition to which, they wear tied round the head, a net, the breadth of the forehead, made of the fur of the opossum, which
they draw over their eyes when they wish to see clearly, thereby contracting the light. Their lips are thick, & the mouth exceedingly wide; they have beautiful teeth white and very even. Many have very prominent jaws. I had almost forgot to mention that as I was one evening sitting at tea with Mrs Harris two New Zealand Chiefs walked in, they were introduced by one of the Missionaries. They were fine looking men, extremely muscular, their faces were tattooed which gave them a singular, as well as a savage appearance. The manner in which they perform this operation, is by puncturing the flesh with needles, which likewise conveys a mixture of some description resembling paint; this intermingles with the blood, & forms different devices.
Their dress is composed of the mats which are made in their country for although savages, nature has taught them some degree of delicacy in their apparel, & the outer garment is a skin, so that altogether there is a ferocity in their appearance; their hair is tied up in a bunch at the top of their heads
with three white feathers which signify that they are Chiefs; these two of whom I have been speaking, have been civilized by one of the Church Missionaries. They performed different evolutions with respect to their battles &c their war song which they chant previous to the commencement of hostilities is melancholy in the extreme. This air they likewise chant over their dead. They are Cannibals, but upon this question being asked one of their Chiefs, they replied in an angry tone in their language as if displeased “that they only ate their enemies,” which I think no very bad plan, for I really fancy I could almost do the same. The Inferior Chiefs are perfectly subordinate to their superiors. The New Zealanders bury their dead, they believe that the third day after the internment, the head separates itself from the corpse, & that this is answered by a gentle breeze of wind, which gives warning of its approach to an inferior, Pa-tooa, an evil Spirit is also in readiness to carry the impure part of the corpse along some road whence it is precipitated into the sea.
Suicide is very common among them, & this they often commit by hanging themselves on the slightest occasion: a woman for instance who has been beaten by her husband, will hang herself immediately. I hear that the country is beautiful, & that civilization is making some progress among them. They are a fine race of people, very unlike the New Hollanders, I think in all probability they will ever remain in the same unenlightened state in which they at present are. I have now given you a long account of the lower order of society in this delightful Colony, & shall now proceed to the Nobility. The Governor does not move in any great style, he has occasionally large dinner parties & sometimes Mrs Macquarie gives a Musical party.
On the 18th January on Commemoration of the Queen’s birth-day, the Governor gave a grand ball & supper, & where do you think it was given? At a House which was built for a General Hospital & to which use it is now appropriated.
We had the band of the 46th Regiment & the Ball-room was fitted up in a superior style by one of the Officers, whom Mr Macquarie had requested to superintend
upon the occasion. The supper consisted of every delicacy, & during supper the band played, the Governor then gave some appropriate toasts upon the occasion. We returned afterwards to the Ball-room, when dancing was resumed & continued till day light broke upon us, when we returned home.
The fruit of New South Wales is similar to that of England with the exception of Gooseberries & Currants, the peaches are remarkably fine & in such abundance that they generally feed the pigs upon them.
There are reptiles out of number in New Holland, particularly snakes, the bite of which has proved fatal to many. An instance occurred whilst I was in the Country; a Boy who was driving a team unfortunately trod upon one which was basking in the sun, the Snake immediately turned upon him, the boy was taken up in a senseless state, & expired in the course of the evening. Such is the extreme venom contained in these reptiles! One of the convicts I was told being one day faint was laid under a cart which
stood in the road, that he might be in the shade, he fell asleep, on waking he felt something tight round his neck, he put his hand up to the part & grasped the folds of a large snake, which had twined itself round his neck, in endeavouring to disengage it, the animal bit him by the lip which immediately swelled. Two Men passing by, took off the snake & threw it on the ground, when it erected itself & flew at one of them but they soon killed it – The Man died the next morning, but being in an ill state of health, it was hardly known whether it was from the effect of the bite or not. There are snakes from the smallest size known in England, to the length of eleven feet, & about as thick as a Man’s arm. Dr Harris showed me how the poison was contained, in a dead snake which he took up, it was in one of the teeth. In Van Dieman’s Land & indeed I believe in some parts of N.S.W. there is the black snake with venomous fangs, & so much in colour like a burnt stick, that you would hardly detect the difference. An instance is
related of one sleeping among some black sticks, a Gentleman had passed over it without seeing it, when his attention was attracted to it by its loud hissing. He wished to take it alive to try its effect upon a Hawk which he had, but in the contest it bit itself, after which it was soon taken and in less than ten minutes died. Three hours afterwards the skin was stripped off, the flesh for some distance round the marks of his teeth was found inflamed & discoloured. This country likewise abounds in Scorpions, Centipedes, Lizards, Spiders, Ants, Bats & Fleas in such numbers that it is no unusual sight to see them being caught in the drawingroom! – There are also locusts & in short everything that is horrible, but fortunately there are no wild Beasts. The Kangaroo, called by the natives Patagorang, of which no doubt you have seen the print, is a strange looking animal, they grow very large, particularly the Males. The natives eat them, they are nearly as good as mutton, the way they catch them is by setting fire
to the Bush, which drives them out, & then dogs seize them, they run or rather jump, with great swiftness, perhaps to the distance of six or eight feet, which you would not expect, from the great disproportion of their hind to their fore legs. They possess considerable strength in their tail, & it is a principal part of their defence when attacked, they strike with such prodigious force it is almost sufficient to break the leg of a Man. Colonel Molle had a tame Kangaroo which used to leap about the room, jump upon the table &c - it was one of the smaller kind as you will naturally suppose.
The Emu or Cassowary called by the natives Maraong, is a native of Van Dieman’s Land, is similar in its appearance, with the exception of the colour, to an Ostrich, the colour of it is grey specked with white, resembling the Guinea chick. They run exceedingly fast when pursued, some of them are as much as Seven feet, from the feet to the upper part of the head & what is very extraordinary two distinct feathers grow
out from every quill. The Opossum is very numerous here, it is a good deal like the Kangaroo, but the fur is thicker and finer. The Black Swan is likewise a native of this Country, I never have seen any of them myself, but I understand they are extremely handsome and much admired, they are reckoned very fine eating, the extremity of their wings are described as being white, & all the rest of the plumage black, the bulb pale pink or crimson, & about the size of the white Swan. There is a beautiful variety of Insects, the butterflies in particular.
There are a great many birds particularly those of the Parot tribe, such as the Maccaw, Cockatoo, Lorey, & Paroquets of different kinds & sizes & with the most beautiful plumage. Hawkes, pigeons, quails also the common crow, but their manner of croaking is different to those in Europe. The Natives are very fond of the flesh of the Crow, & they ensnare it in the following manner, a native will stretch himself on a Rock
as if asleep in the sun, holding a piece of fish in his hand; the bird seeing the prey & not observing any motion in the native, pounces on the fish; & in the instant of seizing it, is caught. The natives mount the highest trees with most perfect ease, & surprising agility, they cut notches in the bark little more than an inch deep which receives the ball of the great toe; the first & second notches are cut from the ground; the rest they cut as they ascend, & at each a distance from each other, that when both their feet are in the notches, the right foot is raised nearly as high as the middle of the left thigh: when they are going to raise themselves a step their hatchet is held in the mouth, in order to have the use of both their hands; & when cutting the notch, the weight of the body rests on the ball of the great toe, the fingers of the left hand are also fixed in a notch cut on the side of the tree for that purpose, if it is too large to admit their clasping it sufficiently with the left arm to keep the body close to the tree. In this manner do these people climb trees, whose circumference is ten or fifteen
feet or upwards, after an Opossum or a Squirrel, though they rise to the height of sixty or eighty feet before there is a single branch.
From this delightful spot I was soon glad to take my departure, a few months residence being sufficiently long, amongst such a set of barbarians, as in every sense of the word they certainly are, with the exception of a very few - The Convicts though expelled their native country are still so abandoned it is dreadful to think of them, & as to the females they give themselves up to debaucheries of every kind, it made me perfectly wretched to see them.
A Man of War being in the harbour & Mrs Macquarie seeing how very uncomfortably I was situated, the Colonel very kindly & politely offered me a passage in her, which I declined, as there was no female on board & he did not know the Captain personally. There were several other ships in the harbour & the commander of one of them, Colonel & Mrs Molle know extremely well, having sailed with him when they were garrisoned at Gibraltar, it
occurred to me that I could not have a more favourable opportunity, I accordingly took my departure in the “Fanny” I bid farewell to this hateful spot on the 3rd March 1816. She was a very fine ship, the Commander Captain Wallis. We had delightful weather the greater part of the passage to Java, with the exception of one day, which was rather boisterous, there was seldom a cloud to be seen.
The Navigation of the straits of Sunda is extremely intricate, & attended with some danger, there being so many Islands interspersed, as well as many shoals we were obliged to come
to an anchor every night for Captain Wallis was so careful. There was but one passenger excepting myself, a Surgeon with the Navy, who was by no means an agreeable companion, he was the only unpleasantcy with which I had to combat, but we are sometimes obliged to make a virtue of necessity, for in the vicissitudes of Climate which we experienced, a Medical Man was a necessary evil, at least I may be allowed the expression from the two examples which I have had.
The manner in which I occupied my time was by work, & sometimes reading as I felt inclined. Before I left N.S.W. Mrs Macquarie wrote me a very complimentary polite letter, saying she was extremely sorry at my leaving & that the Colony would feel the loss &c These were merely words of course, but it was polite, & hearing to what part we were bound, she very handsomely gave the Captain a letter to the Governor at Batavia in order that I might have a little Society there should we make any stay. On the 4th April we made Christian’s Island, a small uninhabited Island in the Indian Ocean, it appeared extremely fertile. On the 5th in the Evening we made the “Heads” One entrance to the Straits of Sunda, I was much delighted in passing through these Straits, the air is dry and pleasant, & a cool refreshing breeze descends from the high lands of Java, the fragrance from the Spice islands on passant was delightful, they quite perfumed the air. The Navigation was very difficult, as at times there only narrow channels
through which we could pass; the different appearance of the land, had a pleasing effect; here & there a Malay Village interspersed among the Cocoa Nut trees, the nearer we became to Java, the prettier the view. 7 Anchored in the Straits for want of wind - 8 - Got under weigh at 2 AM. several Malay Canoes came off to us laden with poultry, fruit, [indecipherable] &c anchored in the Evening 9 – Got under weigh at 1 AM.
Several Canoes came off to us. Mr Mc Gregor, the Harbour Master at Angerie Point boarded us; the Dutch established a small fort here. The whole garrison consists I believe of only a Sergeant, a Corporal & 6 [indecipherable] intended as a protection to the village against Malay Pirates & also as a port to receive and Convey despatches or intelligence to & from Batavia across the Country. The buildings at Angerie Point consisted chiefly of the Barracks above mentioned, a Store and Residents House, & likewise one for the Harbour Master, these were all built when the Dutch had possession of the Island. Upon rather an eminence there was a
Monument erected to the memory of the Honble Colonel Catheard, brother to the present Lord Catheard, who died on board one of the China Ships anchored in the Strait of Banca, he was going on an Embassy to China.
The Companions of his voyage erected this Monument to his memory, having a suitable Inscription. I went on shore in the evening, there was not much worthy of notice. I saw a Malay Village, which is entirely built of Bamboo, & put together with great neatness, their Huts were so close together, & the pathway so narrow that I should have imagined they would be nearly suffocated in so warm a Climate, but I see it is the plan pursued by all the Indians, as the Native part of the town of Calcutta is just built in the same confined manner.
There was a remarkably fine Banyan Tree. We walked through the Rice fields. The rice before it is beaten out of the hull is called Paddy, it grows very like Barley. There was plenty of Cocoa Nut trees, & here we tasted them before they had formed into a hard substance.
The Nut when young contains a [Page 62]
milky fluid of which the Natives are particularly fond & which they collect in pots suspended at the extremity of the branches. A Malay knocked down several for us. It is curious to see them climb the tree, which from there being no branches excepting at the top & some of them
above 150 feet high, would to a European appear almost impossible to climb, but they cut notches in the tree sufficiently large for them to rest their toe, & in this manner they mount to the top, in the same way as in N.S.W. There were Tamarind Trees in abundance, Spikenard, Sandal wood, Sugar, Coffee, Spices, Sago, Cotton and Indigo. There were several Buffalo’s, & although in a manner tamed, they will frequently attack strangers, They resemble a small Cow, are of a Gray Colour, & have a lump on their shoulder, which is remarkably nice eating. There is a species of wild hog very common in the woods of Java. The Country abounds with wild Cats, Squirrels & Monkeys innumerable, from the Orang-Outang to the little flying Lemur.
For one of the species [Page 63]
of the Monkey genus, called the Wow-Wow, the Javanese pretend to have a kind of fellow feeling; that being a tradition among them, that their Ancestors’ originally spring from this species of Ape. After our walk we returned to Mr Mc Gregor’s where we took tea and about 8 got under weigh - 10 Came to an anchor off Bantain, here when Java was divide into petty Sovereignties, used to reside one of their Kings.
We got under weigh in the morning, dropped anchor in the evening off the Island Palo Babu – 12th – Got under weigh in the Morning dropped anchor in the evening off Mulcaster’s Island. 13th Got under weigh in the evening made the land of Java about 6 P.M. but for want of light we dropped anchor at some little distance from Batavia Roads. 14th Got under weigh in the morning about 10. A.M. & came to an anchor in the roads about 11. A.M. Having letters of introduction to the Governor, I was staying with them the greater part of the time that the ship was laying here in the expectation of getting a Cargo, but the captain not being enabled to procure a freight according to his wishes, we quitted the Island very shortly and
proceeded to Bengal. The Governor & family residing in the interior of the Country in consequence of the unhealthy situation of the town of Batavia, my letter was some time in reaching them, but during that time I received very friendly attentions from a Dutch family with whom I was staying. During my visit I went to the Theatre, the Manager of which, as well as the performers, are the Officers of the Garrison. The House is built of bamboo and the exterior has certainly the appearance of a Barn, but I was much surprised on entering, as everything had the neatest appearance, The Scenery altho’ painted by private hands was very well done, & the performance which was the second part of Henry the 4th and Raising the Wind, supported & went off with the greatest eclat - The Character of Falstaff was remarkably well done, I understand the actor, a Medical Man, was a very slight figure, but so well . dressed that I am sure no one could have been conscious of it. The House I should imagine would contain about 500 Persons. The audience principally consisted of the Military, indeed it was one blaze of Red Coats. The dress of some of the
Dutch Ladies who had not altered their costumes for I suppose the last century attracted my attention, not having been accustomed to see Diamonds worn with a loose kind of what I should call Bedgown! This appearance rather outre but so it was. The diamonds were certainly beautiful, but no doubt they would have appeared more attractive had the tout ensemble corresponded; Their hair glitters with a profusion of Cocoa-Nut Oil, dressed a la Madona, it is smoothed up all round, & fixed in a knot by a golden bodkin on the crown of the head. Those who could not afford so grand a display of Jewels wore a chaplet of fragrant flowers, such as the Arabian Jasmine &c They live in very good style and keep a most excellent table, They are early risers as is the custom in all warm Countries; Breakfast at 8. Tiffin about 1. after which you generally lie down till dressing time, dine at 4. and afterwards take a drive, return about 6 take Tea or Coffee, & if unengaged retire about 10 or 11 - Currie & Rice a standing dish at all Meals & at all seasons. The Equipages of
are not very elegant, they always drive four in hand.
The Java Ponies of which no doubt you have heard are exceedingly swift & very pretty, they are generally small. From the number of China Men resident here, you might almost fancy yourself either in Canton or Pekin; almost all the trades people & artificers are Chinese. The Malays are a very indolent race of people & are very ferocious in their dispositions, indeed so much so, that if you affront them, they will not hesitate stabbing you with their crisses which is a small sword, & which they almost all carry under their dress, which is a loose kind of bed- gown; they steep their daggers in a vegetable poison. The Malays are very musical, they have a Harp peculiar to the country, on which they all perform, their ear for music is so exceedingly quick & correct, that if they hear you play a tune once, they will immediately remember it. The Dutch as well as the Malays, are Musical, and with respect to the former, as well as the latter, I had an opportunity of forming my own opinion, & I must confess that it was as unlike
anything that I should call Music, as the screaming of an Infant could be called Melodious, however this was a Dutch Concert in Contribution to the Waterloo fund . One poor Man laboured out a flute Solo, & which was certainly played with great execution & I think the best part of the performance. - Their clashing of Instruments lasted for nearly three hours, which was long enough in all conscience, & happy I was to take my departure. The next day the Governor’s Secretary collected me, that I might fix the day when I could join the Governor’s family, I accordingly named the time, & the Secretary accompanied me to Buitenzorg, the Country residence of the Family. Upon alighting I was met by one of the Aide de Camps, who ushered me in to the Governor, who received me in the Hall. The family consisted of the Governor’s & his lady, three daughters and a young friend a resident with them. They received me in a very kind manner, & regretted that I had not been with them sooner. I passed my time most agreeably. The Country Town was delightful the air so different to what I experienced near Batavia, Buitenzorg is situated about
6 or 7 miles from the Mountains, the house is very spacious built of a kind of stone, the centre part consists of a dining room & suite of drawing rooms, a corridor on each side divided this part of the building, from the wings which were bed rooms & offices, the latter the staff occupied. The Ladies apartments were on one side, and the Gentleman’s on the other. The Grounds were laid out with some taste, which was done by the former Governor Mr Raffles, & in the Garden was a Monument erected to the memory of his Wife who died here, there was four very pretty lines on it
“Oh thou! whom ne’er my constant heart, One moment hath forgot,
Though fate severe hath bid us part Yet still = Forget me not – “
There were two very nice Marble baths, a constant stream running through them, the one for the ladies was covered with Bamboo. I must not omit a little anecdote which amused us extremely at the time it occurred. Two of the young ladies & myself accompanied by one of the Aide de Camps, & an officer who was on a visit, took a walk to look at the Baths
& the Gentlemen in order to show their agility in swimming, jumped into their bath, not undressed, but they came out, as if they had reflected a moment they might have been aware of – in such a state, that they were obliged to decamp, & change their clothes as quickly as possible, to our no small amusement, when we were alone – The Aide-de-Camp was an Irishman & rather silly I assure you he looked, upon rejoining us. In the Morning we were
called by the sound of the drum & those who chose who chose to ride, used to get up, the ponies being in readiness at the door - After breakfast we adjourned to Mrs Fendell’s sitting room, when each pursued an occupation, two of the daughters drew extremely well, one was drawing a landscape, the other taking a figure in chalks – some went to music, others to reading & work, the Governor retired to his study, & the rest of the gentlemen to their own apartments, we did not meet again excepting casually, till dinner, fruit was brought in about 1. at 3½ the dressing bell rang & at 4 we dined, about 5. the carriage came round, when we took a drive & returned between 6 & 7 – Tea & Coffee was then served, & the remainder of the Evening
was spent by some at cards – by others at Music and occasionally dancing. A Malay band belonged to Government house, & was accordingly always in attendance.
In this manner my time passed very happily with this amiable family, & much did I regret leaving them.
Previous to my departure the Governor received information of a Dutch 74 having arrived with an Admiral & likewise troops on board. The Island was on the Eve of being given up to the Dutch & this was a preparatory arrival to the Governor’s who was then on his passage –
The Native Javanese have a singular kind of taste, jet black is the favourite colour & standard of beauty, for the teeth amongst them, they compare to Monkies those who keep them of the natural colour. They accordingly take care to paint, of the deepest black, all their teeth, except the two middle ones, which they cover with gold leaf, whenever the paint or gilding is worn off they are as attentive to replace it on the proper teeth, as the belles of Europe are to purify and whiten theirs. Many of the Chinese on this Island, especially the Opium Merchants, are Men of large property, & of an evening you will see them taking
their drive, but they never pass an European without saluting, a law enacted by the Dutch, who are famed for the severity of their exactions. The Houses in which the Dutch reside are spacious & handsome in their appearance & at some little distance from Batavia , no family of respectability residing there on account of the unwholesome vapours arising from the swamps by which it is surrounded. The town is only inhabited by the Malays, & the Chinese, the Merchants have their Country Houses. I have heard that at Batavia the Dutch Continue to dispense with that accommodation, which in England we look upon as one of the necessaries of life. Instead of such places of retirement they substitute large jars, manufactured for the occasion in China, narrow at top, low, & bulging out in the middle to a great width . The jars remain undisturbed in a certain corner of the house for 24 hours, at the end of which time, that is to say at 9 o’clock in the evening, the hour when all the parties usually break up & return to their respective houses the Chinese Sampans or dirt boats begin to
traverse the Canals of the City. At the well known cry of these industrious collectors of dirt, the Slaves from the opposite houses, dart out with their loaded jar, & empty their Contents into the Boats. In this manner the Chinese Scavengers, paddling in their Sampans along the several Canals, called from house to house for the use of their Countrymen who are the only gardeners, “The Golden Store” – Such a custom, in such a climate, can be no less injurious to healthy than it is indecent & disgusting. But the Dutch appear to be as insensible of the one as they are reconciled to the other. If they happen to catch a passing breeze charged with the perfume of these jars, they coolly observe “The nine o’clock flower is just in blossom”. – The Slaves from Madagascar & Mosambique were a harmless set of Men they relate a Curious way in which they used to detect their Crimes – One way of detection was by rice.
Each Slave was directed to open his mouth, into which was to be thrown a certain quantity of dry rice.
The natural thief, impressed with the idea that the rice would certainly choak him, or that a flogging was better than suffocation, refused to open his mouth. Another mode of detecting a culprit was by giving him at night a small stick notched at a Certain distance from the end, whilst the Master kept another notched exactly in the same manner. Being persuaded that, if guilty, the notch will be further removed from the end, or that the stick will grow longer before the next Morning, the Slave took good care that this would not be the case by cutting from it a slice to keep it down to its proper length.
Batavia is very like Holland, canals being cut in almost every direction & planted on each side with rows of trees, to these Canals the Allegator, a large Species of Crocodile resort in great abundance, they have been known to carry away children whilst bathing, & I have heard that they will even pursue you on shore; their bodies are formed of a very hard substance & not being jointed makes them very unwieldy & unable to turn quickly, they generally lie
on top of the water, & look exactly like a large log of wood. These animals from having been objects of terror, the Javanese have raised to those of adoration. The Humming Bird you know has been reported to pick the teeth of the Crocodile, the fact is this huge animal fond of rolling in muddy waters, crawls on shore having his rough hide covered with Slime swarming with worms and other Animated beings. By these are attracted numbers of little birds, perching on various parts of the Monster’s body, while he is basking & sleeping in the Sun with his jaws yawning wide open.
The teeth of these animals are horrible to behold; they are long & sharp, & interlocking with each other; beside which there are two in front of the lower jaw, longer than the rest, & which pierce through the upper jaw, coming out at two apertures near the Nostrils; so that having laid hold of its prey, there is little chance of its being able to extract itself afterwards from each engine of destruction. Reptiles of every description are to be found in this Island, & the largest kind
of Snakes of which I have heard mention is the Boa it is found in the forests of Java. Some of these are so long, they are capable of swallowing a human person; they gorge the Calves of buffaloes whole, and the largest hogs; after which they attach themselves to trees by the tail. where they remain in a state of torpidity till the animals they have swallowed are digested or dessolved. I understand there was a Gentleman in the Island who kept one for a curiosity.
There are likewise Rhinosures, & Tigers here.
The Insect tribes, as in all warm Climates, are here very numerous, & the Multitude of Snakes, Centipedes, Mosquitoes, Fire-flies, & a thousand other dangerous disgusting & troublesome vermin swarm in the Streets, & in the houses, infesting even the sleeping rooms. The sting of the Scorpion is considered very dangerous. There is a venomous Spider very Common in the thickets of Java. Its body is near two inches in diameter, covered with hair, the colour is black, & the Mouth Red. The webs spun by this Animal is very troublesome, birds are said to
be frequently entangled & caught in them. The Nails of their fore claws were so long & strong, that it was common practice on Batavia to have them mounted on gold or silver handles, & to use them as tooth-picks. The Java Sparrow is an exceedingly pretty little bird, we procured several, but they soon died on quitting their native Country. Cockatoos & Paraquets are in abundance as also a large variety of all the feathered race, from the large Cassowary or Emu, to the small humming bird little larger than the common Bee. The Lorrie & Paraquets are beautiful. The Argus Pheasant is a native of the Java Woods, but it is rarely brought out alive. The several birds of Paradise are also met with here, as also the golden thrush & the kingfisher. Few places can boast of such an extensive variety of vegetable productions of every kind, spices of all sorts in abundance, The seed of the Cardomum are
eaten by the ladies to sweeten the breath, & to remove any offensive smell that might remain after the daily use of garlic & onions, which always enter into the standing dish of Currie –
Every lady carry [Page 77]
about with her a bag of Cardomums, which she presents to her friends or Strangers in the same manner as the Snuff box is presented in Europe. Sugar, Cocoa, Coffee, Sago, Indigo & Cotton are among the productions of Java. The noted Upas is also a native, but the baneful qualities attached to it, I believe are mere fable, all trees possessing poison, in a great degree goes under the general name of Upas. – It is the [indecipherable] name of all such plants as are either known or supposed to contain poisonous qualities. We had Pines & Cocoa Nuts every day till we were tired of them, they grow spontaneously here, -- they are planted not in Gardens but in large fields, & are carried like Turnips in heaps, upon Carts to Covent Garden Market, & sold for less than a penny each. It is a common practice to clean swords or other instruments of steel or Iron by running them thro’ pine Apples as containing the Cheapest & strongest Acid for dissolving the rust that covers them, all sorts of Provision were cheap ---
There is one species of Snake which I forgot to name which frequents the [Page 78]
Rice fields & is not of a poisonous nature, it is extremely beautiful, about 9 feet long, its colour grey with the head striped with blue & its body crossed with blue streaks with gold coloured edges. –
I must not close this account of Java, without mentioning the Chinese Junks which were lying in the roads, Their singular form seems to bespeak an antiquity as remote as that of Noah’s Ark. They arrive from China in one Monsoon, & return in the other. They are the most strange looking things I ever beheld, they are painted red with two immense eyes on each side of the stern, & they are, or pretend to be astonished that our vessels can find their way through immense Oceans without eyes. Their Sails are all made of Mats, & are narrow, but very lofty. I understand they bring a great many families & very large cargoes, but they are constantly being lost. In one of these Junks may be seen almost an epitome of the suburbs of Canton, Ivory cutters & manufacturers, painters, carpenters, blacksmiths, goldsmiths &c with all their various articles, arranged for sale in their separate
apartments. Some of these ships are not less than a thousand tons burden, & contain half that number of people; besides the passengers, that leave their country in the hope of making their fortune in Batavia or Manilla. A Ship is seldom the concern of one Man; sometimes a hundred different Merchants purchase a vessel and divide her into as many compartments as there are partners, so that each knows his own particular place in the ship which he is at liberty to fit up & secure as he pleases. He ships his goods & accompanies them in person, or sends his son or near relation; for it rarely happens that they will trust each other with their property where no family connexion exists.
There is but one mast in these Junks; Captain Wallis went on board one of them, he informed me that the accommodations are exactly like pigeon holes, each sleeping place is just the length & breadth of a Man, & contains only a small mat spread on the floor, & a pillow, into these they must crawl, but every thing appeared extremely clean, they were eating their rice when he got on board, & which I understand they tossed into their mouths with their
chop-sticks, holding the basins under their chins in [Page 80]
great style; this is the Chinese manner of swallowing rice, they eat it in immense quantities, they put with it Chile spices of different kinds. The chop-sticks are formed of small pieces of ivory, or wood, tipt with ivory, silver &c about 8 or 9 inches long, & nearly of the thickness of common black-lead pencils – A Chinese holds a couple of these in the fingers of his right
hand like pens, & manages them so dexterously that he can pick up a single grain of rice between their extremities with the greatest ease.
The Chinese live mostly on hashes, or at least they have their meat cut into small pieces, as they are more convenient to eat with the above implement;
By the by, talking of the Chinese I should not have much relish for any of their made dishes, I have heard that in their own Country young puppies are hawked about the streets in cages & baskets, as delicious morsels; it is even said that they pick up animals who have died a natural death, & eat them with as much gout as if they had gone thro’ the hands of the butcher. But to return to the Junks; behind the compass is generally placed small temple with an
altar, on which is constantly kept burning a spiral taper, composed of wax, tallow, & sandal wood dust. This holy flame answers a double purpose; for while burning of it fulfils an act of piety, its twelve equal divisions serve to measure the twelve portions of time which make up a complete day. –
It should seem that the superstitious notions inculcated in the people have led them to suppose, that some particular influence resides in the compass; for on every appearance of a change in the weather, they burn incense before the Magnetic Needle. Those who are brought up to boats, are in general prohibited from residing on shore till after a certain term of years, unless they have accumulated a sufficient sum to purchase a small house & a piece of land. Their fishing fleets are extremely well regulated, acting in perfect concert, & no boat presuming to anchor or weigh until the commodore has made the signal by Gong or beat of Tom -Tom. The Gong is a sort of kettle, or rather the lid of a kettle, which they strike with a wooden Mallet covered with leather. The Composition is said to be Copper, tin, & bismuth –
The dress of the Chinese is exactly the same as that represented [Page 82]
in prints, & their nails with the exception of two or three of them, they suffer to grow to an extraordinary length. They are extremely clever in their professions, & will imitate anything to the greatest nicety. During my stay at Java I do not remember having seen a church, or indeed any place of public worship, the Dutch do not disturb themselves much about religion, they are the only Christian Nation, that traffic with the Japanese, in Consequence of a form which the unhappy people have, & through which all those who do trade with them must pass, it is to tread upon the Cross, after this, you will not inquire of what religion are the Dutch, for you may safely set them down as possessing no religion at all. On the 5th May we sailed from Java for Bengal. Mrs Fendell on finding our destination was there very kindly gave me introductory letters to her friends in that Country. On the day above mentioned therefore, at day light we weighed anchor, & bid adieu to our Java friends - 6th Made Angerie Point about 12 A.M. came to an anchor. The Captain went on shore laid in a large stock of Poultry, which is very plentiful here, is extremely cheap, The Malays will sometimes for a hoop of iron let you have a dozen
Fowls, Iron being a great object to them, in Making [indecipherable]
There is a breed of fowls peculiar to this Island, the feathers of which all turn the contrary way, & gives them a very singular appearance – 7th Got under weigh at day light made the Island of Crokota – Got clear of the Straits. 26th Crossed the Line – We experienced rather unpleasant weather during our passage from java to Bengal, being squally at times, in consequence of which we were prevented in making as much progress as we could wish & unfortunately we lost a boy, who fell over board in going up the rigging in order to take in Sail, as one of the squalls was making its appearance, & which, when they do burst forth, are generally very heavy; I was in bed at the time, I heard a groan as he passed my cabin window in his fall & presently heard him dash into the sea. I immediately heard the call of a boat, & concluded what was the matter; He was very heavy boy & being called out of his sleep, I
suppose he was barely awake when going up the rigging, every means was resorted to, to endeavour to save the life of this youth but all
proved ineffectual, & he fell to rise no more! –
The first of June we made the land of Bengal. 2nd Passed the Juggernaut Pagoda, a place of much respect among the Indians, it is astonishing to hear what numbers of Pilgrims are constantly journeying to this spot from all parts of India, Juggernaut being one of their principal Gods, there is another a little distance from this called the “Black Pagoda”. These famous Pagodas consist of three large & lofty buildings, swelling out in the middle, & may be seen eight or ten leagues at sea. Beside those, there are multitudes of small ones, each of which is a sanctuary, & contains a deity, close to these. There are other buildings of different form, some for the reception of pilgrims, of which not less than 150,000 annually used this venerated place, & are entertained here. A singular charity is observed; the Caste feed promiscuously without fear of pollution; a constant dread in every other part. On one of the Great Pagodas is an enormous ox or Cow Cut out of Stone, with four parts projecting
from the wall; (for they are enclosed in a Square brick wall) this is the favourite sacred animal of Hindostan. Near the Pagoda, I understand there is a large chapel, where the Brahmins deliver their discourses; as to the deity, he is exhibited in a form of stone, most readily cut.
Instead of one eye he had a ruby, instead of the other a Carbuncle. A Dutch man, chief of the factory, knew the difference, & dexterously purloined the ruby. The Image has [indecipherable] a mouth and nose painted with vermillion. The Brahmins wash the Images of Juggernaut six times every day, & dress them every time in fresh clothes; as soon as they are dressed 56 Brahmins, attend them, & present them with various kinds of food. Their image is never removed out of the temple; but its effigy is often carried in procession in a most enormous coach, four stories high, with 16 wheels, & capable of containing 200 persons; it is drawn by a cable of great length. Zealous votaries will throw themselves before the wheels to gain a death that is to insure them a happy immortality!
Near the Pagoda are several cells or Convents, the lodgings of the Brahmins, of whom there are about 500. Part of these are perpetually employed in praising the deity, attended with the music of tabors & Cymbals; while another part is busied in dressing quantities of rice for the use of the numerous poor, but a portion is always offered first to Juggernaut. Much is also sold to the numerous pilgrims, who crowd here from all parts of India. These are not allowed to pay their respects to his Godship till they have performed the Ceremony of ablution in the neighbouring tanks, or reservoir, which is made of different coloured stones. The legend of Juggernaut is that he was a foreigner, but was found on the shore by certain fishermen, in his present form; that he addressed himself to them, & informed them that he came out of pure charity to reside among them, & requested a proper lodging, which the reigning prince immediately supplied in its present form. All this Country is filled with deer, Antelopes,
& birds of all kinds in numbers incredible; the Sea & rivers swarms with fish. But the wonder ceases when we consider the respect paid by the Hindoos to the Pythagorian doctrine. They will not eat of any animal, nor suffer to be destroyed any thing in which is life. They never drink wine – they never eat any thing that had life; they firmly believe in the transmigration of Souls. They hold the elements of fire & water in the utmost veneration; the water of the Ganges is thought peculiarly sacred. Cows are particularly respected. The Pagodas are their temples, some are of the strangest appearance. The Pagoda of their deity is certainly of most essential use to Mariners, on this very low Coast. It appears from the Sea to consist of three great towers, one of which is much higher than the other two, on the top of each is a great ball, stuck on a spike, the emblem of the deity.
On the 4th of June the Pilot came on board, there are always Pilot boats cruising about [Page 88]
off this port, the Sand Heads, for any Ship that may be coming in, the Navigation commencing to be intricate to strangers; the Sand heads are long dangerous Shoals lying off the Mouth of the Ganges, formed by the Sand carried down by the stream of the great river. On account of their intricacy there is what is called the “Pilot Service” in which young Men serve a regular time, & then rise in rotation up to branch pilots; when they get the Command of a Scooner, in which they realize in a few years, a very comfortable independence. Came to Anchor in Ballasore Roads near point Palmaris – 5th – Got under weigh in the Morning, came to an anchor in the evening of Sanga Island, this place is dreadfully infested with Tigers, they have been known to have swum off to the Ships lying here, they frequently make great havoc among the Men in the night when they are asleep in the native boats that are at Anchor near the shore – Some time ago one of them entered a ship lying here, seized a Man, & returned. Some young Men on board of an Indiaman, determined to go on the Island to shoot,
& unfortunately this visit proved fatal to one, for they had not been long disembarked when a Tiger made its appearance, seized one of the Gentleman by the throat & dragged him some distance into the jungle, his companions pursued the animal & it is supposed not being in a hungry state he let fall his prey, he was conveyed to the Ship & died in the course of the day. Another instance of a similar kind also occurred in the same Island to a Gentleman who went there for the purpose of shooting, & he finding he had no means of making his escape from the Animal on shore, immediately jumped into the Sea; the Tiger followed, but it meeting with an Alligator, a battle ensued, in consequence of which the Gentleman escaped, and reached the Ship in safety, the Alligator I understand, came off the Conqueror, & dived under the water with its Prey.
6th Got under weigh in the morning passed Kedgeree a small village on the western bank of the Hoogly. A packet boat came off for the letters this place is very small & inhabited by Natives.
Only one European resided here, who has the care of the Post Office & who supplies ships with vegetables, water, & other necessaries. We have got Pine Applies, Bananas, Yams, Oranges, cocoa-nuts, limes, Shaddocks, Guavas &c all very cheap three or four Pine Apples for 2nd An account is forwarded from here to Calcutta of the passing of Ships either to or from the above place. This river is very much infested with Alligators, especially on the Kegeree side, a month seldom passes without some of the Natives being devoured by these dreadful creatures. At Sangar Island, is the fatal spot where Mr [indecipherable] was carried off by the Tiger in 1792 – A Bench is formed round the tree where he was sitting at the time this formidable Animal sprang upon him, & a small white flag used to be suspended from one of its branches.
Came to our Anchor about 2 P.M. as the tide did not serve for us to Cross a Sand bank. Got under weigh again about 4 P.M. anchored again in the Evening. .
7th Got under weigh in the morning passed [Page 91]
Garden Beach, a very pretty place, the prospect from here is beautiful, the banks of the river are covered with Grass to the water’s edge, with a number of elegant villas, surrounded with Groves and lawns, on the opposite side is an extensive garden, belonging to the Company, the river here is about twice the breadth of the Thames at London. In passing here we saw the body of a black Man burning at the edge of the river, a man was occupied in carrying wood to keep up the fire, seemingly, perfectly indifferent to the Melancholy Office which he had to perform, the tide there washes away the remains.
Many Hindoos were in the habit of annually coming down, at Certain seasons, in order to devote themselves to the [indecipherable] of the Alligator, the Tiger & the Shark, thinking themselves happy, & even their friends favoured by heaven, if they were permitted to expire on the banks, or in the waters of this their favourite river. The woods on the banks of this river are the haunt of every species of Savage Animal, but particularly of that formidable race of Tigers called the Royal or Bengal Tiger. –
Some of the Indian devotees will keep their arms constantly stretched over their heads, till they become quite withered & incapable of motion; others will keep them crossed over their breasts during life; while others by keeping their hands constantly shut, have them quite pierced through by the growth of their nails. Some chain themselves to trees, or particular spots of Ground, which they never quit; others resolve never to lie down, but sleep leaning against a tree; but the most curious penance perhaps ever recorded is that of a Yogey, who Measured the distance between Benares & Juggernaut with the length of his body, lying down & rising alternately. Many of these enthusiasts will throw themselves in the way of the Chariots of Vishnou or Sheevah which are sometimes brought forth in procession to Celebrate the feast of a temple,& drawn by several hundreds of men, thus the wretched devotees are in an instant crushed to pieces. Other devote themselves to the flames in order to appease the wrath of one whom they suppose to be offended. Another set called the Pandarams
rub themselves all over with Cow dung, running about the Country sing the praises of the God Shevah. The [indecipherable] another set of Mendicants who sing the incantations of Vishnou, have hollow brass rings round their ancles which they fill with pebbles, so that they make a constant noise as they walk; they beat likewise a kind of Tabor. The great singularity, in the Hindoo religion is what is to be wished would be imitated by Christian professors. They believe all religions to be equally acceptable to the Supreme Being, assigning as a reason, that if the Author of the Universe preferred one to another it would have been impossible for any other to prevail than that which he approved; every religion therefore, they conclude to be adapted to the Country where it is established; & that all, in their original purity, are equally acceptable. But to proceed; we arrived at Calcutta about 12 at Noon. The Harbour Master came on board & brought us to an anchor, on his arrival the Pilot left us – Having forwarded
my letter of introduction I received an invitation from Mrs Fombelle to be her guest as long as the Ship remained in Bengal & she sent her carriage for me to the Ghaut, the day I fixed to be with her which was the Anniversary of the Memorable battle of Waterloo. I went on Shore about 5 P.M. & after my arrival & introduction to Mr & Mrs Fombelle and joined the gay throng on the Course, which place is the Hyde Park of Calcutta. In this drive may certainly be viewed a motly group. The mixture of European & Asiatic manners is curious, Coaches, phaetons, single-horse Chaises, with palankeen, & Hackeries of the Natives; the passing Ceremonies of the Hindoos & the different appearance of the Fackiers form a sight more extraordinary. You may not perhaps know what a Hackery is, it is a small covered carriage upon two wheels, drawn by bullocks, & used generally by the female part of the family. The grand display of pomp among the Europeans with the variety of Complexion, dress & Manners, among the different Casts of natives, form a Scene quite novel to a person just arrived from England, as you
may well suppose. The Natives of distinction & likewise those of those poorer class -- Armenians in their equipages, their head-dresses are very elegant, & indeed some of them are extremely costly, being adorned with precious stones. The men wear a Cap of black
velvet, & generally a small black apron composes a part of their costume; they have in some degree the appearance of Roman Catholic Priests.
The equipages of Calcutta I admired extremely for their neatness, lightness, and elegance. The Chariots have venetians all round so that they admit the air, in every direction, their Carriage is considered more for evening use & a Sociable for a drive in the afternoon.
Before I proceed in my description it will be necessary to make some mention of the very kind reception which Mr & Mrs Fombelle gave me, they were kind & attentive to me in the extreme & in gratitude I must confess that they conduced in every respect to render my residence with them agreeable, in short had I been a relation I would not have experienced from them a greater warmth
of friendship. Although happy in the Society of each, amiable people, yet in taking a retrospective view of many past Circumstances, I could not clear my mind of these feelings, which might naturally be supposed to arise, & in a great measure damped my present happiness – but to continue my narration. With the appearance of the town of Calcutta I was much pleased, it is exceedingly pretty, the houses have such a Noble appearance, the style of building being altogether so very different to what I had ever before seen. The Houses are generally speaking white they are faced with what they call Chunam which is a kind of Stucco, nearly equal to Scaglion, it is a sort of paste composed of the calxes of shells & to which they give a very high Polish. The Government House is situated on the western side of the Course is a very beautiful building. Over the four arches or gates that lead to it, there are placed Sphinxes and various emblematical figures, that have a very good effect; The Kings & Company’s arms, are emblazoned over the western & eastern Gates.
With respect to the Interior part of the building, I am not architect enough to give its description; nor do I think any adequate idea can be conveyed by words. The Marble Hall in particular brought to my mind some of the enchanted Castles described in the Arabian Tales. On a line west this edifice is a range of excellent houses [indecipherable], & ornamented with verandahs, they are detached & the General approach to them is by a flight of steps, with great projecting porticos and surrounded by Colonades. – The Governor’s has 4 wings & the Centre has a large dome something like that of St Pauls – the Governor has for use another beautiful Mansion at Barrackpore, which I understand is a very pretty place. There is a very nice park. It is considerably elevated above the Hoogly River, on a very extended reach of which it stands: directly opposite on the Danish settlement of Serampore: on the sides are Pagodas, Villages, & groves of lofty trees. The water itself is much clearer than at Calcutta, & covered with the state barges & Cutters of the Governor-General.
The Park is laid out in the English Style; & the House is well adapted to the climate, having a beautiful verandah on every side, & the rooms are on a very ample Scale. Barrackpore is a Military Cantonment. The River Ganges comes up to the Town of Calcutta, Nothing can be more disgusting to the eye of Europeans than the number of floating corpses that are daily seen passing and repassing with the tides on this river, especially between Futtra and Calcutta where they are not so liable to be destroyed by sharks & Alligators. The speckled hue which they exhibit, renders them still more odious to the sight. -- At a neck of land called Melancholy Point, where there are the remains of an Old Fort, I heard the history which it was said gave name to the Place, being of rather a dismal nature I am sure you will be pleased with it, therefore listen to what follows. “A young Officer in the army having married a lady in England, was ordered a short time afterwards to proceed to India with his regiment, which the lady’s relations, or the Gentleman’s own circumstances would not at the time permit her
accompanying him. They were therefore forced to separate, & he proceeded to Bengal, from whence a correspondence was carried on for sometime; when he at length persuaded her to undertake a voyage to India, which she accordingly did & arrived safe at Sanger Roads. He was at this time stationed in the fort whose ruins I have mentioned, & on the very day of her arrival in the river, was seized with a fever of the Country, which terminated his existence, before his wife, & a fine child, could reach the place where he lay: On her coming into the Fort & beholding her husband’s corpse, she fell into a state of insensibility, which was succeeded by that of Melancholy & in six weeks she followed her husband to the Grave!
During the period of her decline she used to go out every day, & sit some hours on this point weeping over her Child; hence it acquired & still retains the name of Melancholy Point. – Consumptions are very frequent among the Ladies of Calcutta which may be attributed in a great measure to their incessant dancing
even during the hottest weather. After such violent exercise they go into the verandahs, & expose themselves to a cool breeze & damp atmosphere.
At Chouringa where I was staying is quite on the outskirts of Calcutta, it may be called an entire village of Palaces, it runs a considerable length at right angles with the Government house, it was a most delightful residence, & had a Commanding view of the Course, Fort William and part of the River. The Citadel of Fort William Commenced by Lord Clive immediately after the Battle of Plassey, is considered a fine work but greatly too large for defence. It is situated an the eastern Bank of the river about a ¼ of a mile from the Town, it is laid out in Squares & regular buildings, interspersed with Groves of trees, -- According to your request I shall now give you a daily account of the Manner in which I passed my time. --- It is usual in Calcutta to rise early, in order to enjoy the cool air of the Morning, which is particularly
pleasant, before sun-rise. At 12 they take a hot meal, which they call tiffing, & then generally go to bed for two or three hours. We generally rise about 7 – or a little after Breakfasted at
½ past 8. Sometimes visitors to breakfast, if any morning visits to pay, the Carriage was ordered immediately after breakfast, -- if not we amused ourselves by either working or reading, sometimes music in which Science Mrs Fombelle excelled – Tiffin at 2 – after which we retired to our rooms undressed & laid on the couch till dressing time which was 5 o’clock at 6 the Carriage came round took a drive & returned about 7½ to dinner, Coffee about 9, & if alone, we usually returned about 10 or a little after. 19th – Took a Drive – 20th Ditto – 21th Took a drive 22nd – The Same 23rd – Did not go to Church, took a drive in the evening, went to Sir John Boyd’s one of the Puisne Judges – 24th – Took a drive 25th – Called at Sir Charles Bailey’s, in the evening went to a Music Party at Mrs Plowdens who is Much
celebrated in Calcutta for her vocal performances. 26th Remained at home.
27th Captain Wallis breakfasted with us. Called on Mrs Edmonston, the lady of one of the Members of Council, & who had sent the day after my arrival at Mrs Frombell’s. Several visitors in the Course of the Morning. Took a drive in the Evening.
28th Went to the Theatre, the performance at which, are all Amateurs excepting the females. The performance was “Much ado about Nothing”, the Characters were very well supported. It is a very neat house, fitted up with light blue, a colour quite appropriate to he Climate, but rather too delicate for Candle light. It will contain about a thousand persons. The Evening I was there, there was a very good audience, The Governor General & such &c
The House is not built according to the English Theatre, there being only forms – no boxes. There are three distinct seats
for the principals, the centre one is the Governor’s, on his right the judges, & on his left the Members of Council. There is a pit & the building all together looks extremely light and airy & is certainly a very pretty little Theatre. This evening we went with Mrs Edmonston & after the performance we returned to her house to supper.
29th Did not go out
30th Went to the Cathedral, the structure of which is very elegant; the floor is composed of dark marble which gives it a very cool appearance, the pews have only a division, and not enclosed, & all have arm chairs instead of benches. The pulpit I thought exceedingly pretty, the pillar on which the Sounding board is fixed, resembles the Stem of a Cocoa-nut-tree, which gives that part of the building a very light appearance. There is a very fine organ. I could not help smiling at a remark which I heard a Gentleman make, it was, “that the ladies only made their appearance at Church, to make their appearance at Church, to make [indecipherable] with their eyes, & to admire each others Caps”
and, “[indecipherable] Sir”, replied I, “for what do the Gentlemen go? No doubt to ogle the ladies. But I should be wrong to infer that all the congregation assembled for that purpose, I trust that the majority of them seated there from a principle of religion. I took a drive in the Evening.
July 1st Mr Rees called, took a drive in the Evening. 2nd Took a drive
3rd Some Gentlemen to dinner.
4th Captain Wallis, the Revd Dr Young & Lieut Brooksbank, breakfasted with us. Had Music . Several Morning visitors. In the evening took a drive through Fort William, which is certainly the prettiest I ever saw, it is kept in great neatness, there are three entrances to it. In this Fort is a Native of Consequence confined in a dungeon, his name I forget, he was considered as the Buonaparte of India, he with his competitors had formed the resolution of putting every European to death that was in India, but fortunately the plot was discovered & he was taken prisoner & sent to the fort, where he has been
these 30 years; he is allowed every possible indulgence but has always an European Guard placed over him.
5th Captain Hiatt called. Took a drive.
6th Archdeacon Liring called. Took a drive. 7th Sir John Boyds called. Took a drive.
8th Called on Mr Rees and Lady Blair, Took a drive. 9th Mrs Seaton breakfasted with us. Took a drive.
10th Wet Evening did not go out.
11th Music in the Morning. Mr Rees, Dr Young and Lieut Brooksbank came. Wet Eveg did not go out.
12th Took a drive.
13th Took a drive.
14th Went to the Cathedral. Spent the Eveg at Sir John Boyd’s. 15th A large dinner party at home
16th Captain Wallis breakfasted with us, Dined at Mrs Edmonston’s a very large party – At these large dinner parties before the Company are allowed to separate – All the gates are locked & the plate is looked over - & if anything is missing the Servants are searched – for every one brings his own Servants – it is not an unlikely thing to happen that some of these may occasionally
pocket what is not strictly their own – such instances have occurred. The servants at dinnertime are sometimes standing three deep.
The provisions are excellent & served in great profusion, to the no small satisfaction of the birds, & beasts of prey, to whose share a considerable proportion of the remainder falls; for the lower order of the Portuguese, to whom alone they would be serviceable, cannot consume the whole; & the Religions prejudices of the Native Servant, prevent them from touching anything that is not [indecipherable] by their own Cast.
17th Took a drive.
18th Had Music in the Morning, Dr Young &c Dined at Mr Rees, a large party. 19th Several Morning visitors, Took a drive.
20th Took a drive.
21st Mr George Bagley breakfasted with us. Sir John Boyds & Col Hatcher called – Took a drive.
22nd Captain Wallis breakfasted with us, Dined at Sir Robert Blair’s – a very large party. 23rd Mr Wynch breakfasted with us, in the Eveg
went to a small musical party at Mrs Plowdens. 24th A Wet Evening, did not go out.
25th Had Music, Dr Young & Lieut Brooksbanks called, but it being a wet morning prevented those who accompanied Mrs Fombelle from coming
26th Was not very well, saw Dr Russel did not go out. 27th Took a drive.
28th Went to the Cathedral, called on Mrs Fullerton – not at home – Lieut Sandy’s called – Spent the Eveg at Sir John Boyds’ –
29th Took a drive
30th Dined at Dr Fullerton’s – a large party – An Irish Piper played during dinner, and among several beautiful airs, “Eringobragh” which almost made me Melancholy, some of the party danced in the Eveg.
31st Took a drive.
1st August – Had Music in the Morning Dr Young, Lieut Brooksbank, Sir John Boyds, Capt Caldwell, one of the Governor’s Aid-di-Camps, & Capt Smitt
Schneider, a German in the Nizams Service and he accompanied Mr Fombelle on the French Horn, which Instrument he has improved considerably by the addition of several tubes, the one on which he plays, he made himself, it is entirely composed of Silver & is very handsome. Capt Smitt Schneider in his appearance very much resembles the portraits which I have seen of Field Marshall Blucher. Took a drive in the Evening.
3rd Went to the Theatre, the performance was the “Rivals”, in which Piece Capt Fitzclarence made his first appearance & performed his part most admirably as “Sir Anthony Absolute” – he resembled the king very much; on the whole, the performance went off with great eclat. Col Doyle, a very handsome Irishman supported an Irish Character most admirably well.
3rd Took a drive.
4th Went to the Cathedral. Some Morning visitors. Mr Verner called in the Eveg Took a drive.
5th Took a drive.
6th Went to the Town-Hall, which is Certainly a very fine building, the upper room was originally intended for an Assembly Room, but to the shame of the Architect it is said, the fabric was found to be in so tottering a state, that it was considered dangerous to dance in it, it is therefore useless – it is a very handsome room, with two rows of immense pillars. The room below is likewise very handsome, resembling the upper, excepting that the floor is marble; at the upper end is a remarkably fine Statue of the late Marquis Cornwallis, with two female figures on each side, it is considered a Master piece of Sculpture. I understand it is very like. He was Governor General Many years, & was much beloved. In this room all public dinners are given, & the Lottery is likewise drawn in it. There are two very fine Portraits
in the Hall, one of Lord Lake, as Commander in Chief of the Forces, & the name of the other I really forget, but it was
but it was a General Officer. From the Town-Hall we went to Gould’s Long Room, here all the investments belonging to the Captains of the Indiamen are sold, but at the time of our visit there was not much to be seen, not having had any late arrivals. We afterwards went to the principal Silversmiths, here we saw a Pearl of amazing dimensions, it was very Curious, as it represented a Mermaid, the Pearl formed the body, & round it was a girdle of Rubies, there were likewise other precious stones about it. It was formerly the property of a Dutch Gentleman, who, being taken prisoner, had disposed of it, & it was forwarded to Calcutta from Java, by the Gentleman to be sold; it was valued at a lack of rupees, which is 12,000 pounds Sterling, a Nabob purchased it. On our return home we received several Morning visitors.
Dined at Mr Harrington’s
7th Went to Sir John Boyd’s Country House across the river, I cannot say much for the beauty of the House, as it is small & much out of repair, but the Grounds were laid out very prettily
quite in the English Style, after seeing all that was to be seen we returned home to breakfast about 9 o’clock – Did not go out in the Eveg.
8th Had Music in the Morning. Several Morning visitors, a large dinner party at home.
9th Captain Wallis breakfasted with us, returned several Morning visits. Took a drive in the Eveg.
10th Some Morning visitors. Took a drive in the Eveg. 11th Took a drive.
12th Went to a ball & Supper given by the Governor General in Celebration of the Prince Regent’s Birth-day, there were 500 Cards issued which was considered a small party – the suite of rooms were very elegant, the chairs & Couches in the Council Chamber, which was the Ball-Room, were Scarlet and Gold, at the top of the Room was a throne, where the Governor sits, when he receives foreign Embassadors. There was not much dancing owing to the extreme heat. The Ladies principally wore feathers, their dresses Generally speaking were neat, but I did not see any thing particularly striking either as to appearance
or dress. The Gentleman were almost all Military, & a plainer set I think I never saw mustered together, there was not according to my taste a handsome looking Man in the room. So much for Gentleman beauties of Calcutta = With respect to the ladies I shall be Mum, for it will be immediately said , “ Ah that is all envy!” I really must confess that I think it quite a forlorn hope of any female who goes out with the idea of marrying in India. The Men generally speaking really have not, what I should call a wholesome appearance, for they look as if they had [indecipherable] while washed, the Climate is no doubt a sad destroyer of either Male or female beauty. But to return the Ball-Room, or rather lounging room. The Supper was announced about 1 o’clock, when we descended to the supper room, the Governor handing Mrs Edmonstone, as being the first Member of Council’s Lady. The Supper was nothing particular. There were three tables, two for the general Company, & one for his Lordship in a separate smaller
room which opened into the larger one by folding doors. The wine was very bad, but I understand there is a particular kind, kept for all those state occasions. After supper Mrs Fombelle returned home, but several of the Company did not return till 5 in the Morning. 13th Called on Mrs Macrae. Took a drive in the Eveg.
14th Some Morning visitors. Dined at Commodore Hayes, met general & Mrs Durkin, who had lately arrived from England. The Irish Piper played during dinner & in the evening we had a little dance.
15th Had music in the Morning. Mrs Price, Sir John Boyds, & Mrs Edmonstone called. Took a drive.
16th Took a drive
17th Mr Cromlie breakfasted with us. Mrs Hillings, Mrs Ward, and Lieut Sandys called. Took a drive
18th Did not go to Church. Took a drive in the Eveg [Page 114]
19 Captain Wallis breakfasted with us. Took a drive. 20th Called on Mrs Gordon. Took a drive in the Eveg 21st Took a drive.
22nd Had music in the Morning Mr Rees and Sir John Boyds called. Took a drive. 23rd Took a drive.
24th Called on Mrs Haldane. Took a drive in Eveg
25th Went to the Cathedral. Some morning visitors. Dined at Col Haldanes.
26th Mr Gordon & Lieut Sandys called. Tiffed with Mrs Harrington. Spent the Eveg at Sir John Boyds’, and Capt and Mrs Haldane & Capt Stuart.
27th Capt and Mrs Montague breakfasted with us. A large diner party at home. Received a note from Capt Wallis to say, that he should sail the next day & with great regret I left my very kind friends. Capt Wallis called for me in the Eveg & accompanied me on board.
28th Received a note from Mrs Fombelle. Was disappointed in not sailing as was expected,
Fombelle perceiving that the ship had not quitted her station, very kindly sent to me again with a present of some sweets to commence my voyage. Having given you a full and particular account of each day, before I commence my voyage home I shall make a few remarks, & mention some of the Lions. I shall begin with the Bazaars which are a row of huts inhabited by the Natives, in fact they are the same as a Market in England, they expose to sail different commodities, every thing indeed that you may want = I cannot say much for the cleanliness of their appearance, here you may often imagine that you have a good bargain, but there is little doubt but you are cheated by the Natives who would certainly out wit the Jews themselves; they have great [indecipherable], & instantly see whether or not one is a judge of the value of their wares, making their prices accordingly; & asking double, treble, or quadruple what they will alternately take for any article.
The China Bazaar is kept by Chinese, in which the general produce from China may be obtained. An Indian Bazaar & those intended
to imitate them in this Country are very dissimilar the latter you can merely call a loung for all idlers.
I had an opportunity of seeing the Jugglers while at Calcutta. They are of the Lowest Cast, they performed many wonderful evolutions with Snakes, Balls, Cups &c bringing balls out of all parts of their bodies = Swallowing the sword is by far the most curious of any I saw because it is no trick or deception but an actual chef-d’oeuvre.
Their sword has some resemblance to a Common spit in shape, except at the handle which is merely a part of the blade itself rounded into a little rod; the edge and the point are blunt, being rounded & of the same thickness with the rest of the blade, it is of iron or steel, smooth, & a little bright, they rub a little oil over the surface of the Instrument first, they then stretch up their neck as much as possible & bend themselves a little backwards. Another trick, which has puzzled strangers a great deal is the following. A Juggler sitting down on the floor, pours out a powder of a whitish colour on a piece of paper or linen; then taking
a small quantity of it between his fingers & thumb, he rubs it a little, & the powder turns black
= this it is supposed is managed by the Juggler by interspersing among the powder a number of little fine globules of different coloured substances, but glossed over with the same colour as the powder; when he takes up a little of the powder therefore, he takes care to leave on of these little particles, which being broken between his fingers, communicates its colour to the surrounding powder; & as all these globules are different, so he must necessarily produce a new colour every time he rubs the powder between his fingers ---
They have several very large Snakes which they coaxe to draw blood; the Animal seemed really to comprehend what they jabbered to them = & after their performance they again returned to their baskets, the Men suffered them to [indecipherable] themselves wherever they seemed inclined, but they take care to have the poison-bags cut out from their jaws; although they pretend to the contrary === The reanimation of the dead snake by the effects of Music, is another chef-d’oeuvre, it requires very considerable dexterity
in substituting a live snake for a dead one, which they often do, but which generally escapes observation as the stranger’s attention is taken up by the discordant music, the strange gesticulations and the uncouth attitudes which the Juggler throws himself into, while pretending to restore the dead snake to life.
They exhibit innumerable other tricks with venomous snakes, which they have perfectly tame, & pretended to charm by their Music =
The Fakirs are a kind of Mahomedan Mendicant, who travel about, practicing the greatest austerities; but many of the are impostors. They entirely gain their livelihood by begging & it is supposed that they are generally concerned in all robberies which may occur = they are extremely forbidding in their appearance, they suffer their beards to grow to an amazing length, which is contrary to the usual custom amongst the Indians, as they pluck out all superfluous hairs, as they would term them, with the exception of those on the upper lip, they all wear moustaches = & the hair on the head which they generally shave down the Centre =
The Fakirs are great [Page 119]
predictors of future events, & they will give you an account of all the principal occurrences which will take place during your life time; but before they become thus wise, they undergo the greatest depredations = & their sufferings I understand are great in the extreme = Some of the Indian devotees are whirled round on the point of a Pole, suspended by a hook thrust into the fleshy part of their backs without experiencing any fatal consequences =
The Indian women wear remarkably long hair, which is of a shining black, they rub a quantity of Oil over it; they are never seen abroad; their husbands considering them in some degree, as slaves, to wait upon them, & I rather think that they are never seen by any other Men, with the exception of their own family. They abound in ornaments of different kinds which they always wear & do not take them off even when they bathe; = Whatever money the lower casts may possess, is chiefly laid out in purchasing bracelets, armlets &c these ornaments occasion the most horrid Murders amongst them, & children have frequently been murdered by those
wickedly inclined merely for the sake of these baubles. An instance indeed occurred whilst I was in India, & which came before Mr Formbelle; the child murdered belonged to a native of some property, who was very fond of decorating this poor unfortunate victim, although repeatedly cautioned against it. One Evening the child was Missing, & it was found in the jungle with its head I believe severed from its body = the suspicion immediately fell upon two young married women, with whom, with the knowledge of the parent, it had gone to take a walk on this fatal day. On the Trial these poor deluded wretches confessed that they had decoyed her into the jungle, with the intent of murdering her for her ornaments, & one held
her down whilst the other performed the bloody act - They were sentenced to death, & I understand they heard their sentence passed on them, with that indifference, with which all the natives meet that awful event. Instances of this kind are continually occurring. In addition to what little information I have been enabled to give you with respect
of the Indians, I have met with the extract of a letter from Benares, a town of great celebrity in India; The following is a copy, “Since you tell me that you wish to hear of native Customs & manners, I must mention a fellow who has lately been hanged at Calcutta, & suffered for an offence which I think was never heard in Europe. He was an admirable swimmer & diver & used to frequent the Ghauts & places where the women used to come to bathe in the river.
He would make his way under the surface of the water till he got close amongst them & then seizing one of them by the legs, would drag her under the water and drown her for the sake of her ornaments, for the women of this country always bathe in their valuable gems & pearls = Meanwhile the papers teemed with horrible accounts of alligators carrying away bathers, & these Monsters of the flood were talked of by every one, & seen by no one. At last, one day, a Girl disengaged herself from his grasp, rose to the top of the water & screamed out, that it was no beast but a Man !!! he was then caught, & confessed that he had carried on that
trade for several years! Of the number of his victims he had kept no account!”
Ghauts are Mountains, they are also called the Indian Appenines - Upon the religion of the Country I suppose I need not dwell; there are three sects as they may be termed, namely, Hindoos, Gontoos, and Musselmen, all of which are divided into different Casts, what struck me as being rather singular was, that according to their cast so in their profession, & from which they can never deviate, as it is hereditary = The Hindoos abstain from all animal food of every description, they subsist on rice, fruit &c &c
The Mussulmaughs are not so strict in this particular, but they will not touch pork as they consider it unclean. The Hindoos will not even touch a plate upon which you have eaten anything, Your Servants therefore must be all Mussulmaughs, with the exception of Bearers, Men who clean the Houses, make the Beds &c - and the “Lesser“ Grooms. They are all very particular in their Manner of eating, they only make use of one hand, & previous
to their touching any food, & likewise after eating, they always wash their hands, they are very fond of drinking, & many of them are constantly in a stupor from smoking their Hookah in which I believe they use a quantity of Opium. The Indian fashion of smoking is going very much out of practice by the Europeans, the young men principally making use of their Hookah, it has by no means an unpleasant perfume, many of the ingredients being very nice & which passes through rose water, it is contained in a glass vase, any one who smokes is obliged to keep a Servant entirely to attend on this, they are called “Hookah Badahs”. The ladies some years ago used to smoke, they have now left it off, with the exception of a few, I saw two of them take their Hookahs, I cannot say it had a very feminine appearance, but however custom reconciles everything.. The Ceremony of drawing their principal God about in a sort of Movable House, once a year, I believe I have mentioned, it is drawn by the Fakirs, so enthusiastic are these people that they will even torture themselves to death, from
according to their idea, a principle of Religion. Death in any shape does not appear to appall them, for the Old people of this Country when they have existed a certain number of years, consider that they then become bothersome to their friends & with the greatest sang froid imaginable, their families will attend them to the edge of the river Hoogly one of their Gods – they take leave affectionately, the junior branches then return & the old person is drowned. Sometimes they do not wait for so voluntary an end, they will bring the person to the river & cram his or her mouth with mud, & supposing that they do not die, they must never revisit
their families, but are banished to a place called Resurrection Island. Up the Country the Hoogly is sometimes covered with bodies, & when they have been burned their skulls &c are floating about. This river being a receptacle for all.
I shall now change this Melancholy subject & give you some account of their Animals. I shall commence with the jackalls, which although not the noblest, is certainly one of the wisest animals which they have in India. They are in appearance between a dog & a Pig
not dangerous, although I have heard, that Several of them together will attack any one; their yell which they commence toward evening is horrible, they, attended by their friends the wolves, are constantly taking up the dead bodies, & they are in such numbers up the Country, that there is no preventing it. There is a very singular bird that frequents the streets & environs of Calcutta, where it is almost domesticated; called from the length of its legs, & slow, solemn, walk, the Adjutant or Gigantic crane, it grows to the height of five feet when erect. It is a nasty looking bird, the Craw looks red & naked, passing over the shoulders, & returns in front, hanging down & covered with long hair below the breast. It is a most useful bird, it clears the Country of Snakes, noxious reptiles and insects. It finishes the work begun by the Jackall & the Vultures. They clear the carcases of animals of the flesh; it removes the nuisances of the bones by swallowing them entire. In Bengal they are perfectly familiar. The Indians believe them to be invulnerable, & that they are animated with the souls of the Brahmins. They suppose that
it is impossible to kill them, & that a person may shoot to eternity & never succeed.
Wild beasts of all denominations are to be met with, excepting the Lion, I heard just before I left Calcutta that two had been seen between Madras & Bombay, one of which, had been shot. I saw two or three Elephants, but I do not think that they are much used in the Province of Bengal. Chittaging is the most famous place for them, they are of the largest kind which come from there. I shall now continue my route home.
29th August, The Pilot came on board got under weigh about 7 A.M. dropped down the river anchored about 8 P.M.
30th Got under weigh at day light, came to an Anchor about 10 A.M. Got under weigh about 5 P.M.
31st Got under weigh about 3 A.M. came to an anchor about 12 P.M. September 1st Got under weigh at day-light,
Passed Diamond Harbour, it abounds in Turtle of the largest size, & most excellent quality.
The Island [Page 127]
appeared pretty at a distance, but it is reckoned a very unhealthy spot. A great Mortality generally prevails every year among the Europeans especially in the months of July & August, at & after the great periodical rains that fall in Bengal about this time. The rivers swelled by the annual deluge sweep down great quantities of dead animals & vegetable substances, which at the fall of the tide lie on their low muddy banks, exposed to the Meridian Sun, whose beams draw up their putrid exhalations in the course of the day & these being wafted on board the ships by the light breeze produce, in conjunction with the intense heat of the Climate, the most dangerous fevers. We did not anchor here & fortunately escaped all these Maladies. A few miles above Diamond Harbour, the Hoogly & Old Ganges unite their streams; & at the confluence of these two rivers, there is a very dangerous shoal called the “James & Mary” on which vessels are frequently lost. But to continue, we anchored about 4 P.M.
2nd Got under weigh at day-light anchored about 11 A.M. 3rd Got under weigh about 8 A.M. returned a letter
by Dauk from Mrs Frombell off Kedgeree, anchored about 4 P.M. Got under weigh again about 9 and dropped anchor in Sanger Roads, about 11 P.M.
4th Weighed anchor about 8 A.M. dropped anchor about 11½ A.M. Got under weigh again about 9 P.M.
5th The Pilot left us about 2 A.M. having got clear of the Sandbanks long dangerous shoals laying off the Mouth of the Ganges. Wrote to Mrs Frombell by the Pilot, proceeded to sea. The weather in crossing the Bay of Bengal, was extremely unfavourable, the Monsoon being against us, therefore we had to beat about the whole way, very heavy squalls of wind & rain, that altogether we made but little progress, & were a Month in performing that which in going to Calcutta we ran in 5 days. Such is the uncertainty of the Sea! In consequence of being thus baffled about, we were taken considerably to the Eastward –
On the 4th of October in latitude 1°-12´ North and Longitude 92°-41´. East, we experienced the shock of an Earthquake, which continued about a Minute, it happened very early in the Morning. The Captain was on deck & the Helmsman cried out, “The Ships
a ground” The Sensation the shock occasioned, resembling that, when a ship is run ashore, but thank God our case was not quite so alarming. The Sea was perfectly calm & the sensation I could compare to nothing else if the Ship had been taken up & shook in a violent though regular manner, a kind of trembling noise attended this motion.
7th Crossed the Line.
23rd Spoke an American brig bound to the Isle of France.
11th November. Experienced a violent gale of wind from the South west which lasted 12 hours.
13th Saw the land at some distance on the Coast of Africa, the weather continued extremely bad, nothing but gales of wind & violent squalls from the 11th of this month to the 22nd the usual weather near the Cape. During the Gale which I have mentioned, two Ships lying at anchor in Table Bay, Cape of Good Hope were lost, the Crews were saved. In the gale I must confess I experienced the greatest anxiety, for, independent of the gale, we had another danger to encounter – “The Telemaque Rock”
upon which according to the latitude & longitude of it in the Chart, the wind was quickly driving us, at one time we were only 15 Miles distant, but thanks God, the wind shifted, & on the 25th we doubled the Cape & got clear of all danger attendant on this dangerous spot. I understand that the existence of this dangerous rock is very doubtful; it was discovered by a French Ship bound to Madras & in an account of which I have read, it appears that all the passengers confirmed what the Captain had related concerning it, their having very clearly seen it.
The weather as we approached to the North was brightened & continued very fine. On entering the tropic we had a better opportunity, on account of the clearness of the horizon, to observe the setting of the Sun, which is certainly one of the finest sights at sea, as lies likewise the Moon, slowly making her progress through the different clouds, this to a contemplative mind is pleasing; especially so, when you reflect that by being in the same Hemisphere, that those whom you love, are probably viewing the same object = The weather continued
uninterruptedly fine, scarcely a cloud to be seen for several days, our passage from the Cape to St Helena was only 12 days. We made the Island between 11 & 12 at Night, but were obliged to stand on & off till day-light, fearing that the batteries might be opened upon us by making our approach too near, at that unseasonable hour. About 7 the following Morning an Officer from a Man of War’s Brig boarded us, to whom Capt Wallis made a request that we might come to an Anchor, being in want of water, he accordingly gave him a note to the Admiral stationed there, who permitted us to anchor, about 9. two officers from the Admiral’s
Ship came on board & remained until we dropped anchor. In the course of the day several Naval Officers came off the Island = The appearance of St Helena from the Sea, has rather a dismal aspect, no doubt it is a volcanic eruption, as it seems composed of densed Lava.
There is but one side where ships can anchor as it is fathomless. It appears on approaching it, like a lofty irregular ridge of rocks, the Northern extremity of which is very abrupt & the
Southern most shelving; at a small distance from the latter, there are two rocks called the Needles one of which because a strong resemblance to a ship under full sail, indeed many of the Mountains appear very fantastic shapes. On the summit of these Mountains are placed telegraphs, to give notice when ships are approaching the island. The fresh water that distils down from the crevices in the rocks, is collected in a reservoir, under Rupert’s hill. We only remained 36 hours which was a sufficient time to take in water & some provisions, the latter of which are immoderately dear, for very small fowls they charged 3 Shillings each & every article in like proportion, with the exception of bread which is reasonable enough. This Island is kept on the strictest Military discipline, since the arrival of Napoleon, but which of course you have seen by the Newspapers. The Natives are not even allowed to go to different parts of the Island without a pass from the Governor, there being guards situated at every little distance to prevent it. We took a passenger from here an Officer of the 66th Regiment
& from him I gained some little information with respect to the Ea= Emperor. I understand there are but few of the Officers who have seen him, such being the solitary life he at present leads, that he scarcely stirs out, but is continually lolling on a Couch, & his chief employment is studying the English Language. There are no less than 9 Centinels stationed at night round the house which he inhabits, and an encampment of two Battalions of the 66th& 63rd Regiments close to his domain. The Island here abouts is extremely pretty being more level than the other parts of it, which is as I before said very Mountainous & rugged. James Town the Capital, is situated between two of these immense Mountains, as is likewise Lemon Valley, here is a Naval Hospital & likewise a Military Guard. Batteries in every direction in the Mountains are to be seen & Men of War are stationed on all sides round the Island; with all this precaution, I should think it was impossible for Buonaparte to make his exit from here, as he did from Elba, he may now safely say he is in a Cage; it is a
great annoyance to him, to be called General, which is the order to all the Military. I can give you an account of the daily rations which are allowed him & his suite by the British Government, it was given Capt Wallis by one of the Clerks to the Merchant who has the procuring of the Articles –
Bottles of Claret
20/ of Vegetables
Do of Cape Wine
10/ of Fruit
Do of [indecipherable]
8 lbs of Butter
Do of Madeira
2 Do of Lard
Do of Constantia
½ lb of Tea
Pint of Sweet Oil
2 Do of Coffee
Loaves of Bread
5 lbs of Flour
lbs of Beef
2 Do of Loaf Sugar
Do of Mutton
5 Do of Brown Sugar
Turkey or Goose
8/- of Sweetmeats
The whole daily amounting to 87 pounds pr week, The House Steward divides the above articles.
Buonaparte generally dines by himself excepting for his friend & favourite Bertrand.
No Grain is Sown in St Helena, but there are vegetables in abundance. The climate of St Helena is remarkable salubrious, the temperature of the Air being very moderate, considering its situation between the tropics, where the sun is verticle twice a year. Storms, rain, thunder & lightening are very rare occurrences, & never happen but when the Sun is passing over the Island in his annual Course.
The small Pox & Hydrophilia have never been known in the Island. The greatest inconvenience which St Helena is subject to, is drought, which has been known to continue for three years, & proves a great annoyance to the Island; Killing the Cattle destroying the trees, & withering every appearance of vegetation. It is supposed that the scarcity of the latter is a great cause of the deficiency in moisture. The arrival of the homeward bound Indiamen was till lately the greatest event in the year to the inhabitants as they live so retired, it fills the whole settlement with joy. They are gayer now than they used to be formerly. Many humorous stories used
to be related of the locality of ideas remarked among the inhabitants of St Helena; I will mention two instances of which I have heard. A lady one day in Conversation with the Captain of an Indiaman, asked him if London was not very dull when the last India Fleet left England?” This though it may excite our risibility, was a very natural question from one who had always seen the arrival of this fleet produce the utmost festivity through her native Isle. – An English Gentleman & one of the Islanders walking one day together, stopped to look at a small spot of Ground where the vegetation was very exuberant, when the Islander lifting up his hands cried out with great fervour, “If St Helena was all as fruitful as this place, it would be the noblest and richest Country in the world!
Such is the Patriot’s boast – where’er we roam. This first, best Country ever is at home.
With food, as well the peasant is supplied, On Idia’s Cliffs, as Arno’s shaley side; And tho the rocky crested summits frame,
These rocks by Custom turn to beds of down. Tho’ poor the peasant’s Flock, his feast tho’ small, He sees his little lot, the lot of all;
Sees no contiguous palace rear its head, To show the meanness of his humble shed;
No courtly Lord the sumptuous banquet deal, To make him loath his vegetable meal.”
On the 9th about 2.A.M. we received orders from the Admiral to get under weigh & about 5 the Anchor being weighed we put to sea.
15th about 2.A.M. we passed the Island of Ascension; it bore East from us, at about 10 Miles distance; there is a Man of war stationed off this Island but we did not fall in with them.
19th Crossed the Equator for the last time.
15th January 1817. Passed through the Azores, we now experienced a considerable change of weather, which indicated our near approach to the changeable climate of England, indeed at times, it was quite alarming, but providentially those formidable gales of wind did not overtake us, till we got clear of the Islands which I have mentioned, but the day
after, we had a most tremendous gale of wind from the N.& N.E. which apparently threatened us with destruction, part of the Ship’s Bulwarks were knocked in from the violence of the
waves, & I really apprehended every wave that dashed upon the deck would have been our last, but thank God we experienced no other damage.
On the 17th It subsided a little but about Midnight on the 18th it again burst forth most furiously, in short it blew a perfect hurricane, accompanied by thunder, lightening, & rain, & continued for many hours, the noise was beyond any thing awful, I stopped my ears for I was absolutely stunned. The Captain was obliged to use a speaking trumpet to give his orders to the people; the Sea rose Mountains high, all hands in an instant were at their posts, hanging in the little sail that we had since the 16th been able to carry, in the exigency of the moment the Chief Mate ran up to assist, & when he descended he declared that “he could not see the Ship’s head” from the constant roll over of the sea, it appeared he said as if he was suspended out of the Sea upon a Mast”. Such was our situation! My feelings at this awful juncture were
beyond all description, to be lost so very near as we then were to England after the fatigues & perils of so long a voyage would no doubt have appeared to our friends unfortunate, every thing I was aware, had been done that was possible for human hands to perform, & the decision must be left to that Providence who alone, is capable of stilling the raging of the winds & waves. You may conceive the state in which we were by bringing to your recollection the representation of vessels in storms at Sea. –
On the 19th the Gale abated but we had occasionally very heavy squalls the wind continuing in the same unfavourable quarter. The Ship laboured exceedingly, the Sea still continuing to rear Mountains high, each wave seemed contending which should overwhelm us, but through the kind & Merciful interposition of Providence we were saved, & braved all the dangers of those three tremendous nights. On the 20th the wind changed to the S.W. quarter & we had more favourable prospects of again seeing our friends and our native country.
25th At 4.A.M. Got Soundings of 103 fathoms, entered the British Channel in the Evening. 28th Passed off the Isle of Portland.
29th Passed the Isle of Wight.
30th The Pilot came on board off Dungeness. In the Evening we anchored off Deal, when the Captain accompanied me on shore & I bid farewell to “Fanny”
Remained at Deal all night, & in the Morning about 10 o’clock, I left for London. At Canterbury I changed Coaches. Dined at Rochester. I was much entertained with the Motly group with whom I had to sit down. One really had the appearance of a Jew Pedlar fortunately I had a very pleasant companion in a lady who had just returned from France & she & I laughed exceedingly at their different manoeuvres. We did not arrive in town till between 12 & 1. therefore I was obliged to remain that night at the Inn, & proceeded homewards the next day after paying your ladyship a visit in my way.
Here my dear Sarah, ends my peregrinations & I shall be fully repaid the trouble which I have had in writing it, not to say anything of the time which I have spent in puzzling my brains to recollect all the wonders contained in the foregoing pages, should it give you any degree of pleasure, & banish ennui for a few hours. I believe I have not omitted an anecdote the perusal of which
I thought would give you any degree of pleasure and amusement, & I only hope my dear friend, that you may not have anticipated more than I have been enabled to realise, & that I have answered the intention for which I sat down to write this journal – namely – the wish to oblige one whom I esteem
May 1817 E.S.
Refer to a paper by Anette Bremer “Plagiarism and Presentation of Self in Elizabeth Spurrell’s Journal of her Voyage to New South Wales 1815-16”
In this paper Ms Bremer identifies E S (the initials which appear at the end of the journal) as those of Elizabeth Spurrell and has found that the name “Miss Spurrell” appears in the Sydney Gazette of 12 August 1815 under a list of passengers arriving on the “Hebe”.
It also appears in the log of the “Hebe” under “List of passengers outward” - “Mrs E Harris – going out to her husband” and “Miss E Spurrell – companion to Mrs Harris”. (See MLMSS 809/1, p142, Mitchell Library)
Eliza Harris was the wife of Dr John Harris, surgeon and settler who was already in the Colony.]
[Transcribed by Peter Mayo for the State Library of New South Wales]