BLTC Press Titles


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The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting


Shakti and Shakta

John Woodroffe


The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite


Tao Te Ching

Lao Tzu, James Legge (trans.)


Journal of a Residence in India

by Maria Graham

Excerpt:

There is usually a small garden round each house, containing a few herbs and vegetables, a plantain tree, and a coco-nut or two. The coco-nut is the true riches of a native Indian. The fruit forms a chief article of food during several months in the year, and from it the oil for the lamp is expressed, after being dried in the sun. The fibrous covering of the nut is steeped, and becomes like hemp, though more harsh; it is then called coier, and is used for making cordage of all kinds. The tarry, or toddy, (which is a juice procured from the tree, by making an incision in the bark near the top, or cutting off one of the lower leaves, and applying an earthen pot to the aperture in the bark,) when distilled, furnishes arrack; that which flows in the night is the sweetest, and, drunk before sunrise, it is very wholesome. The leaves cover the houses, and two of them plaited together form a light basket-work cloak, which the peasants wear in the rainy season while transplanting the rice. When no longer capable of yielding fruit or tarry, the wood makes excellent water-pipes and joists and beams for houses. The Palmyra, another tree of the family of palms, here called the brab, furnishes the best leaves for thatching, and the dead ones serve for fuel. The trunk is applied to the same purposes as that of the coco-nut, and is said to resist the attacks of the white ant. The brab grows on hills and stony places. The coco requires a low sandy soil, and much water. In the outskirts of the Black Town we saw the fields already flooded for the rice ; they are ploughed in this state. The plough consists of a piece of crooked stick, or two straight pieces joined, so as to form an obtuse angle; it is sometimes shod with iron but most frequently not; it is drawn by an ox or a cow, or sometimes both. The buffaloes make good draught cattle, and are commonly used for drawing water; the other cattle are of the

kind which has a hump on the shoulders; they are used by the natives to draw carriages called hackrays, to which they are only fastened by a beam, which is at the end of the pole, and lies across their necks; they use no traces.

As there is but one tavern in Bombay, and as that is by no means fit for the reception of ladies, the hospitality of the British inhabitants is always exercised towards new-comers, till they can provide a place of residence for themselves. We have the good fortune to be under the hospitable roof of Sir James and Lady Mackintosh, at Tarala, about three miles from the fort and town of Bombay. Sir James possesses the best library that ever doubled the Cape. It is arranged in a large room like the cell of a temple, surrounded with a viranda inclosed by Venetian shutters, which admit and exclude the light and air at pleasure. As the apartment is at the top of the house, which is built on an eminence, it commands on all sides charming views; in short, it combines all the agremens that one can look for in a place of studious retirement, and we feel its value doubly from having been so long confined to the cabin of a frigate.

August 10th.—The rainy season, which began in the middle of May, still continues, but we have sometimes intervals of several days of dry fine weather, so that we have been able to visit most of the villages within the island of Bombay. The first walk we took was to Mazagong, a dirty Portuguese village, putting in its claim to Christianity, chiefly from the immense number of pigs kept there. It is beautifully situated on the shore between two hills, on one of which is Mazagong house, a leading mark into the harbour. It is interesting to the admirers of sentimental writings, as the house from which Sterne's Eliza eloped, and perhaps

may call forth the raptures of some future pensive traveller, as the sight of Anjengo does that of the Abbe Raynal, when he remembers " that it is the birth-place of Eliza." Mazagong has, however, more solid claims to attention; it has an excellent dock for small ships, and is adorned with two tolerably handsome Romish churches; but its celebrity in the East is owing to its mangoes, which are certainly the best fruit I ever tasted. The parent tree, from which all those of this species have been grafted, is ho-^ noured during the fruit season by a guard of sepoys; and in the reign of Shah Jehan, couriers were stationed between Dehli and the Mahratta coast, to secure an abundant and fresh supply of mangoes for the royal table.

Our next excursion was to Sion, nine miles from the fort of Bombay, and at the opposite extremity of the island. We drove through a country like an English park, where I first saw the banian, or Indian fig-tree. It is a large spreading tree, from the branches of which long fibres descend to the ground, and there taking root become <new trunks, and thus spread over a very great space *. The banian is sacred, and is usually to be found near the Pagodas, as the Europeans call the Hindoo temples. I have seen the natives walk round it in token of respect, with their hands joined, and their eyes fixed on the ground; they also sprinkle it Avith red and yellow dust, and strew flowers before it; and it is common to see at its root stones sculptured with the figures of some of the minor Hindoo gods. Sion Fort is on the top of a small conical hill; it commands the passage from Bombay to the neighbouring island of Salsette, and was of importance while the Mahrattas possessed that island, but it now only serves to beautify the scene. It is manned with a few invalids, and commanded by General Macpherson, a Highlander, who was in the battle of Culloden, on the losing side, and who, at the age of forty, came to Bombay as a cadet in the Company's army. He retains so strong a recollection of his early years, that when the Culloden, with Sir Edward Pellew's flag, was in Bombay harbour, no entreaties could prevail on him to go on board of her,—he always shook his head, and said, he had had enough of Culloden.

* See the Plate.


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