A New Account of the East-Indies, Volume 1
About this text
Published by Red Lion in 1739, A New Account of the East Indies, written by Captain Alexander Hamilton, is a travelogue of the Scottish sailor’s journey in the Indian sub continent. The main source of information about Alexander Hamilton is from A New Account of the East Indies. He was engaged in the service of the East India Company before becoming a private trader. After that Hamilton would be appointed as the Bombay Marine commander. Selections have been made from Volume 1 and Volume 2 of A New Account of the East Indies. There is a lot of descriptive detail about the various parts of India and the various ways of living that Hamilton got to witness first hand from the court to the crowd. Primary Reading Hamilton, Alexander, Captain, A New Account of the East-Indies, Volume 1,Red Lion Suggested Reading Cope,Captain, A New History of the East- Indies,archive.org
A NEW ACCOUNT OF THE EAST-INDIES: BEING THE OBSERVATIONS AND REMARKS OF Capt. ALEXANDER HAMILTON, From the Year 1688, to 1723. Trading and Land, to most of the Countries of COMMERCE and NAVIGATION, between the Cape of Good- Hope, and the Island of Japan.
The SECOND EDITION. VOLUME I.
THE next maritime Country to Sindy, is Guzerat. The Indus makes it an Island, Branch that runs into the Sea at the City of Cambaya. This Province, tho' Vassals to the Mogul, yet continue in their old Religion of Paganism, and for the most Part, drive the old Trade of thieving and pirating, for they plunder all whom they can overcome, on both Elements: Nor can the Mogul restrain them, for their Country is secure from the Marches of Armies into it, by Reason of the many Inlets of the Sea that overflow the low Grounds, and make it so muddy, that there is no travelling but by little Boats in many Places.
The first Town on the South Side of Indus, is Cutchnaggen. It admits of some Trade, and produces Cotton, Corn, coarse Cloth and Chonk, [Page 132] a Shell-fish in Shape of a Perriwinkle, but as large about as a Man's Arm above the Elbow. In Bengal they are faw'd into Rings for Orna ments to Womens Arms, as those of Sindy wear Ivory Rings. They are in Fashion in many Countries in India. The Province and Town of Cutchnaggen are governed by a Queen, who is very formidable to her neighbouring States. The Reasons they give for choosing that Sex for their Governesses, are, that they'll be better advi sed by their Council than Men, who, by too large a Share of Power and Honour placed on them, become obstinate in their Opinions, and insolent in their Behaviour : But Ladies are e steemed complaisant and gentle.
The next maritime Town is Mangaroul. It admits of Trade. and affords coarse Callicoes, white and died, Wheat, Pulse and Butter for Export, and has a Market for Pepper, Sugar and Betlenut. It is inhabited by Banyans; and wild Deer, Antelopes, and Peacocks are so fa miliar, that they come into the very Houses without Fear.
The next Place is Poremtain, a pretty large Town on the Sea-shore, and admits of trade producing the same Commodities as Mangaroul, and its Inhabitants are of the same Religion
Diu is the next Port, and is the southermost Land on Guzerat. lt is a small lsland of three Miles long, and two broad, belonging to the Crown of Portugal. The City is pretty large, and fortified by an high Scone Wall, with Basti ons at convenient Distances, well furnished with with Cannon to flank it, and a deep Mote hewn [Page 137] out of an hard Rock, to defend it on the Land Side, which is about one third Part of the City. The other Parts are fortified by Nature, having the Ocean thick set with dangerous Rocks and high Cliffs, who forbid any Approoches on that Side, and a rapid deep River, that affords a good Har bour, on the North-east Side.
CAMBAY, or, as the Natives call it, cambaut, about 12 Leagues from Goga, in the Bottom of the Gulf of Cambay, on a small River, that is sent by the Overflowing of the Indus into that Gulf or Bay, is a large City with high Walls, and was formerly the Metropolis of a Kingdom that bore the City's Name; [Page 144] but Echbar, great Grandfathcr to Aurenzeb, sent his Son, Jehan Guire, with a great Army in the sixteenth Century, and conquered it, and annext it to the Empire of the Great Mogul. It is still a Place of good Trade, tho' not half inhabited, and it contributes very much to the Wealth and Grandeur of Surat, to which it is subordinate and its Vicinity to Amadabaut, from whence it is about 150 Miles distant, makes it share the Advantages of that great City, which in Magnitude and Wealth, is little inferior to the best Towns in Europe. What it exports by Sea, comes most to Cambay, and carried by the Surat Shipping all over India, except what European Ships carry for Europe.
The Product and Manufactories of Cambay are inferior to few Towns in India. It abounds in Grain and Cattle, Cotton and Silk. The Cornelian and Agate Stones are found in its Rivers, and no where else in the World of Carnelian they make Rings, and Stones for Signets, and of the Agate, Cabinets, entire Stone except the Lids. I have seen some of 14 or 15 Inches long, and 8 or 9 deep, valued at 30 or 40 Pounds Sterl. They also make Bowls of several Sizes of Agate, and Spoons, and Handles of Swords, Daggers and Knives, and Buttons, and Stones to set in Snuff-boxes, of great Value. They embroider the best of any People in In dia, and perhaps in the World. Their fine quilts were formerly carried to Europe.
The next Town of Note for Commerce, is Baroach, a walled Town, standing on a rising Ground, on the Banks of the River Nerdaba. Formerly it was a Place of great Trade, but in Aurengzeb's Wars with his Brothers about the Year 1660. this Town held out a great While againft his Army. That Season proving a dry one. Aurenzeb's Folks suffered much for want of fresh Water and Provisions, but at last he took it, and put all to the Sword that had borne arms against him, and raz'd Part of the Walis, and pronounced a Curse on them that should re pair them again.
Surat is the next Sea-port. It was built about the Year 1660 on the Banks of the River Tapta or Tappee, which being discommoded with Banks of Sand at Rannier, the then Mart Town on this River, the English removed about two Miles farther down the River, on the opposite Side, near a Castle, which had been built many Years before, to secure the Trade from the Insults of the Malabar Pirates, who used to lord it all over the Sea-coast between Cape Co merin and Cambay.
The City flourished in Trade till Anno 1686 in the English Company disturbed its Tranquility by an unjust War they made on Surat, :pretended it was not with the Mogul, who given them many Indulgences, which War remark when I treat of Bombay, but that war was ended in Anno 1689. neither to Profit nor Honour of that East-lndia Com pany.
In Anno 1705. when Aurengzeb began to be crazy with old Age, the circumcent Rajabs, with an united Force of four-score thousand Horse, came and besieged Surat, and plundred all the Villages in the plain Country ; but having no Artillery, they could do but little Harm to the City itself, besides straightening it a little for Provisions, but the City having their River and Sea open, that Difficulty was removed by plentiful Supplies brought them from Guzerat.
DAMAAN was, in former Times, a a Place of good Trade, but at present reduced to Poverty. It stands at the Mouth of : River on the Sea-shore, and is naturally very strong, by a deep Marsh that almost surrounds The Town is about half a Mile long, and near as broad, walled with a good Stone Wall, as the rest of the Buildings of the City are built of; and it has a large Cathedral to a lorn it, that is conspicuous a long way at Sea.
There are two or three other Churches, and a convent, a Monastery, a Nunnery, and an Hospital, and there is a Castle stands on the opposite Side of the River, christened by the Name St. Salvadore, and it is well secured by the Morass, as well as the Town. It has been for long Time a great Eye-fore to the Governors of Surat, who have often pickt Quarrels with the Portugueze, and laid Siege to Damaan, but without Success.
Salfet is an island about 25 Miles long, and, in some places, 10 miles broad. It is fruitful in Roots and Fruits, but not in Corn. It is [Page 181] locked with Villages and Churches, but has no City on it, but an old one, called Canra, hewn tit of the Side of a Rock, but by whom I never could learn. It is near a Mile in Length, and many antique Figures and Columns curiously carved in the Rock, and has several good Springs of Water to accommodate it. At present it is in habited only with wild Beasts, and Birds of Prey.
Bombay comes next in Course, an Island belonging to the Crown of Eng land. It was a Part of Katharine of Portu gal's Portion, when she was married to Charles II of Great-Britain, in Anno 1662. Its Ground is steril, and not to be improved. It has but little good Water on it, and the Air is somewhat unhealthful, which is chiefly imputed to their dunging their Cocoa-nut Trees with Buckshoe, a Sort of small fishes which their Sea abounds in. They being laid to the Roots of the Trees, putrify, and cause a most unsavoury Smell; and in the Mornings there is generally seen a thick Fog, among those Trees, that affects both the Brain and Lungs of Europeans, and breed Consumptions, Fevers, and Fluxes.
About four Miles to the South-east of Cundra, is Culabee, a Fort built on a Rock a little Way from the main Land ; and, at high Water, it is an Island belonging to the Sevajee. And, Leagues to the South of Culabee, is Caul, a Town belonging to the Portugueze, whose River affords an Harbour for small Vessels. The Town is fortified, and so is an Island on the South Side of the Harbour, called Chaul Moar, which may be known 5 or 6 Leagues off at Sea, by a white Church built on it. Chaul, in former Times, was a noted Place for Trade, particularly for fine embroidered Quilts ; but now it is miserably poor.
Coasting to the Southward from Dandee, Rajapore, are several small Rivers and fi shing Towns. Zeferdon is the best, and two little islands called Horney Coat, fortified and kept by the Sevajee. It lies 5 Leagues to the North ward of Dabul, which stands at the Mouth of a large River, and, of old, was a Place of Trade, and where the English once had a Factory.
When the English had a Factory at Rajah pore, that Country produced the finest Beteellas and Muslins in India ; but now all Arts and Sciences are discouraged, and the Port not frequented. There are fine artificial Cisterns for Water there, and a natural hot Bath, within three Yards of a very cold one ; and both are reckoned very medicinal.
G0A, the Metropolis of India, under the Dominion of the Crown of Portugal stands on an Island about 12 Miles long, and 6 broad. The City is built on the North Side of it, on a Champain Ground, and has the Conveniency of a fine Salt Water River, capable to receive Ships of the largest Size, where they lie with a Mile of the Town. The Banks of the River are beautified with noble Structures of Churches, Castles and Gen tlemens Houses ; but, in the City, the Air is reckoned unwholsom, which is one Cause why at present it is not well inhabited. The Vice Roy's Palace is a noble Edifice, standing with in Pistol Shot of the River, over one of the Gates of the City, which leads to a spacious noble Street, about half a Mile long, and terminates at a beautiful Church, called Misericordia. The City contains many noble Churches, Convents and Cloisters, with a stately large Hospital, all well endowed, and well kept.
The Market-place stands near the Misericordia [Page 250] Church, and takes up about an Acre square; where most things of the Product of that Country are to be sold ; and, in the Shops about it, may be had what Europe, China, Bengal, and other Countries of less Note furnish them with. Every Church has a Set of Bells, that one or other of them are continually ringing, and, being a1l christened, and dedicated to some Saint, they have a specific Power to drive away all Manner of evil Spirits, except poverty in the Laity, and Pride in the Clergy ; but, to to those that are not used to nocturnal Noises, they are very troublesom in the Nights. The Viceroy generally resides at the Powder-house, about two Miles below the City, on the River Side, the Springs of Water there being reckoned the best on the lsland, which is a Liquor very much esteemed by the Portugueze except when they can get Wine or Spirits Cost-free, and then they'll drink to Excess.
The Country about Goa is steril in Corn, but it produces some excellent Fruits. The Goa Mango is reckoned the largest and most delicious to the Taste of any in the World, and, I may add, the wholsomest and best tasted of any Fruit in the World. Their Jambo Malacca is very beautiful and pleasant, and they have very good Pine-Apples and Melons.
No Man is permitted in this Country to ride on Horses, Mules or Elephants, but Officers of State, or Troopers, tho' we are allowed to ride on Oxen or Buffaloes : nor none are permitted to have Umbrellas carried over them by Ser vants, but must carry them themselves if the Sun or Rain offend them ; but in all Things there is Liberty and Property.
The next Town to the Southward of Batacola, is Barceloar, standing on the Banks of a broad River, about four Miles from the Sea. The Country abounds in Rice, having in many Places two Crops in a Year, by the Advantage they have of some Lakes at the Feet of the Mountains of Gatti, whose Waters being confined by Sluces, are let out at convenient Times to water their Rice Fields. The Dutch have a Factory here, only to buy up Rice for their Garisons on the Malabar Coafs. It stands about a Mile from the River's Mouth, that has a Bar of 13 or 14 Foot Water on it at Spring Tides, and has a Castle on its North Side for its Guard, that none may go in or out without Leave.
Along the Malabar Frontiers, the Canaries have Forts built of Earth, wherein are kept about 2 or 300 Soldiers ready, on all Occasions, to encounter any small Party of the Malabars that clandestinely come in to thieve or rob; but the Muskat Arabs in Anno 1695 came with a Fleet, and plundred the Sea-coast of Ca nara, and burnt Barceloar and Mangulore, and carried away a great Booty.
M A L A B A R is a pretty large Country, divided into many Principalities [Page 291] This Country, tho' large and populous, is not fruitful in Corn, for there is Abundance of Rice imported from Canara; but, being low and sandy all along the Sea-coast, except a few rising Grounds, which are the most steril, yet it nourishes vast Numbers of Cocoanut and Arecka Trees, whose Fruit brings them great Gains from other Countries. The higher Grounds produce Pepper and cardamums, the beft in the World ; and their Woods Teak-Timber and Angelique for building, Sandal-wood, or Saunders, white and yellow Caffia Lignum, or wild Cinnamon, and Caffia fistula, Nux vomica, and Cocolus India. Drugs grow plentifully in their Woods, which are also well stored with wild Game, both for Pleasure and Use. Their Mountains produce Iron and Steel, but not so good as we have in Europe. And their Sea is stored with many Species of excellent Fishes.
Between Cranganore and Couchin, there is an lsland called Baypin, that occupies the Sea-coast. It is four Leagues long, but no Part of it is two Miles broad. The Dutch forbid all Vessels or Boats to enter at Cranganore: And at Couchin the Channel is about a quarter of a Mile broad, but very deep, tho' the Bar has not above four teen Foot Water at Spring Tides.
The Water of this Country, near the Sea-coast, from Cranganore to St Andreas, which is about twelve Leagues, has a bad Quality of making the constant Drinkers of it have swelled Legs. Some it affects in one Leg, and some in both. I have seen Legs above a Yard about at the Ankle. it causes no Pain, but itching; nor docs the thick Leg seem heavier than the small one to those who have them: But the Dutch at Cochin, to prevent that Malady, send Boats daily to Verapoli, to lade with small portable Casks of 10 or 12 English Gallons, to serve the City. The Company Servants have their Water free of Charges, but private Perform pay Sixpence per Cask, if it is brought to their Houses ; and yet, for all that Precaution, I have seen both Dutch Men and Women troubled with that Malady. And no Cure has been yet found to heal or prevent it.
F 0 R T St. George or Madarass, or, as the Natives call it, China Patam, is a Colony and City belonging to the English East-India Company, situated in one of the most incommodious Places I ever saw. It fronts the Sea, which continually rolls impetuously on its Shore, more here than in any other Place on the Coast of Choromandel. The Foundation is in Sand, with a Salt-water River on its back Side, which obstructs all Springs of Fresh-water from coming near the Town, fo that they have no drinkable Water within a Mile of them, the Sea often threatning Destruction on one Side, and the River in the rainy Season Inundations on the other, the Sun from April to September scorching hot; and if the Sea-breeses did not. moisten and cool the Air when they blow, the Place could not possibly be inhabited. The Reason why a Fort was built in that Place is not well accounted for
The Soil about the City is so dry and sandy, that it bears no Corn, and what Fruits, Roots and Herbage they have, are brought to Maturity by great Pains and much Trouble. If it be true, that the Company gave him Power to settle a Colony in any Part on that Coast that pleased him best, I wonder that he choosed not Cabelon, about six Leagues to the Southward, where the Ground is fertil, and the Water good, with the Conveniency of a Point of Rocks to fa cilitate Boats landing, or why he did not go nine Leagues farther northerly, and settle at Policat on the Banks of a good River, as the Dutch have done since, where the Road for Shipping is made easy by same Sand Banks, that reach three Leagues off Shore, and make the high turbulent Billows that come rolling from the Sea, spend their Force on those Banks before they can reach the Shore. The Soil is good, and the River commodious, and convenient in all Sea sons. Now whether one of those Places had [Page 363] not been more eligible, I leave to the Ingenious and those concerned to comment on.
In the Year 1708. I had Occasion to travel from Ganjam to Ballajore, by Land, which gave me an Opportunity to see more of the Countries thro' which I travelled, than most others could have who travelled by Sea. About three Miles to the Eastward of Ganjam is Illure, at the End of the Ridge of Mountains, that divide the ancient Kingdom of Golcondah from 0 rixa. Its End runs within Pistol-shot of the Sea, and there were three or four Sentinels to demand a Tax on every Head that past out of, or into Orixa. I had seventeen Servants to carry my Palanqueen and Baggage, and all the Tax amounted to about three Shillings. Proceeding further, I came to Manikapatam, where them is a great Inlet from the sea; but, about a Mile from its. Mouth, it divided itself 'into many [Page 384] Channels, which made many small Islands. The Mogul had an Officer there, who examined from whence we came, and whither we were bound. Our Answers were satisfactory, and be presented us with some Poultry, Rice and Butter, and gave us a Place to lodge in. And, altho' we saw Plenty of Fish in the Rivers, yet Money could not purchase one of them, because there is a Pagod on a little Hill built of Iron-coloured Stone, where all the Animals of the watry Element are worshipped. And Water fowls are so sacred, that they must not be killed.
The Springs of the River are from the Mountains of Gatti, within 40 Leagues of Goa, and in its Passage, washes Part of the Kingdoms of 'Talinga, Visapore, Golkonda and Orixa, blessing all the Countries that it passes through with Fertility of Corn, even to the Place where it loses itself, and there it is also beneficent, in affording a convenient Harbour for Shipping. tho it is not much frequented by Strangers. and not at all by Europeans. I believe the Reason is, that many Rajahs, of different Interests have their Countries on the Sides of the River, and they load the Trade with so many Taxes and lmpositions, that the industrious Merchant cannot get any Profit by his Labour ; and the Reins of the Moguls Government being so slack in those Parts, the Nabob of Orixa is not capable to keep the contentious Rajahs in better Order.
Cattack is still a large City, walled round, and a good many Cannon planted on its Walls, but neither the Wall nor Artillery are kept in good Order. The Town is not one Quarter part in [Page 394] habited ; but the Ruins of many large Build ings view sufficiently its ancient Grandeur, when Kings kept their Courts there. Its Figure is an Oblong for a League long, and a Mile broad. It is garisoned with 5000 Foot, and 500 Horse. That Part of the River, on the North Side of Cuttack, is very shallow. When I passed it, there were not above three Foot Water in it. They have a Custom in this Town, that, when any Stranger travels through it, he must find Surety, that he'll carry none of the Inhabitants off with him, without the Nabob's Permission, and if the Stranger can find no Security, the [Page 397] The country is fruitful to Admiration, producing Rice, Wheat, Gram, Doll Callavances; several Sorts of Pulse, Annife, Cummin Coriander; and Caraway Seeds; Tobacco, Butter, Oil and Bees-wax. Their Manufactories are of Cotton in Sannis, Cassas, Demeties, Mulmuls, Silk, and Silk and Cotton Romals, Gurrabs and Lungies ; and of Herba (a Sort of tough Grass) they make Ginghams, Pinascos, and several other Goods for Exportation.