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merchants principally reside; at its commencement stands the theatre, a neat handsome structure.
The dockyard is large, and well contrived, having naval stores deposited in warehouses, together with large quantities of timber for repairing and building ships, and forges for all kinds of smith's work. The dry dock has scarce its equal for size or convenience; it has three divisions and three pair of strong gates, so as to be capable of receiving three ships of the line at the same time. Near the dock is a convenient place to heave down several ships at once, which is done well, and with great expedition. Here is also a rope walk, which for length, situation, and convenience, equals any in England, that in the King's yard at Portsmouth only excepted; and like that, it has a covering to protect the workmen: cables, and all sorts of lesser cordage, both of hemp and coir, are manufactured here.
Close to Bombay, separated only by a small creek, fordable at low water, is COLABAH, or Old Woman's Island, which partly forms the N. side of the harbour; it is about 2 miles long. Near its S. extremity stands the light-house, of a circular form; the height is upwards of 150 feet above the level of the sea, and the light may be seen in clear weather the distance of 7 leagues. There is also a signal station, where a regular watch is kept day and night, the expence of which is defrayed by a rate levied on all vessels frequenting the port. On this island are barracks for the military, and occasionally a camp is formed here, being esteemed a healthy situation. It has many delightful villas scattered about. The point of Colabah, on which the light-house stands, is guarded on all sides by an extensive reef of rocks, divided into prongs; the most dangerous is the S. W. prong, which forms the N. boundary of the entrance into the harbour, and Tull Reef the other; the breadth of the channel between them is about three miles.
The Island of SALSETTE is separated from Bombay by a narrow arm of the sea, capable of receiving small craft only; it is about 20 miles long, and 15 broad. The soil is rich, and by proper cultivation, capable of producing any thing that will grow in tropical climates. Here are excavations of rocks, much more numerous than those of Elephanta, but not equal to them either in size or workmanship.
Nearly opposite to Bombay Castle, at three miles' distance, is BUTCHER'S Island, on which is a small fort with a guard of soldiers. About two miles from this, and still fronting the fort, is the small, but celebrated Island of ELEPHANTA. The immense excavations and figures cut out of the solid rock, afford an attraction to Europeans frequenting Bombay. CARANJAH produces rice, poultry, and vegetables.
At the entrance of the harbour are two small islands, HENERY and
KENERY; the former is about a mile distance from the main; it is very small, and surrounded with fortifications.
Kenery, likewise small, lies due S. of the light-house, and is just discernible from the decks of the ships in Bombay harbour. It is nearly of a circular form, and has a small creek on the N. E. side, where boats lie, and is the only landing-place about it. The island is near 600 yards in circumference, surrounded by a wall irregularly divided by towers; it is covered with houses, and very populous.
The inhabitants of Bombay are composed of persons from almost every Asiatic nation. Nothing has contributed more to the prosperity of the island than the mildness of its Government, and the toleration of all religions: Persees, Mahometans, Gentoos, Arabs, and Roman Catholics, are alike protected.
The European houses of agency at this Presidency are few. None of them could subsist upon the agency business alone, it being very confined, and the profits in a great measure absorbed by interest of money on the cash balances they are obliged to keep, and the expences of the establishment. Their advantages arise principally from mercantile transactions; and though they hold out the agency business to be the line they confine themselves to, yet without trade they would scarcely gain a subsistence. Agency, however, gives them the command of a capital, which enables them to embrace every favourable opportunity that occurs, to forward their commercial pursuits.
The Persees rank next to the Europeans. They are active, industrious, clever, and possess considerable local knowledge. Many of them are very opulent, and each of the European houses of agency has one of the principal Persee merchants concerned with it in most of their foreign speculations. They have become the brokers and banians of the Europeans. The factors belonging to these different houses resident in China, Bengal, &c. are generally Persees, and the correspondence is carried on in the country language, so that the British merchant knows no more than they communicate to him. The servants attached to Europeans at this Presidency are Persees, and the best of any in India.
Many considerable Portuguese, Armenian, and Hindoo merchants reside here, who possess great property, and are men of much integrity. There are likewise some Borah merchants, or Mahometan Jews, who carry on a great trade with Guzerat, and other places to the northward. Upon the whole, Bombay may be considered the emporium of Persia, Arabia, and the western part of India, and where the manufactures and produce of all parts of the world may be readily procured.
Bombay claims a distinguished rank among our foreign naval arsenals; it has always been famous for ship-building, and formerly supplied Bengal and other parts of India with shipping. Many fine ships are now built at Bengal, so that this branch of commerce at Bombay has rather diminished. Merchant ships of considerable burthen, (from 600 to 1300 tons,) for the country trade, and the service of the Company, have been built here, which, in point of beauty of construction, excellent workmanship, and durability, are superior to any class of merchant ships in the world. Many Bombay-built ships of 25, 30, 32, and 40 years' standing may be met with. Bombay has the peculiar honour of being the first place in the British dominions out of Europe, at which a ship of the line was ever built; it has also added several fine frigates to the Royal Navy: they are all built of Malabar teak, which is esteemed superior to that of any other part of India. The builders are Persees, who are very skilful and assiduous; so that for the skill of its naval architects, the superiority of its timber, and the excellence of its docks, Bombay may be considered of the first importance to the British Empire in India.
The Government of Bombay and its dependencies is by law vested in a Governor and three counsellors, who are, in respect to the native powers, to levying war, making peace, collecting and applying revenues, levying and employing forces, or other matters of civil or military government, under the controul of the Government General of Bengal; and are, in all cases whatever, to obey their orders, unless the Court of Directors shall have sent any orders repugnant thereto, not known to the Government General, of which, in that case, they are to give the Government General immediate advice. The Court of Directors appoint the Governor and members of the Council, and likewise the Commander in Chief of the forces: the latter is not, ex officio, to be of the Council, but is not disqualified from being so, if the Court of Directors shall think fit to appoint him; and when member of the Council, he takes precedence of the other Counsellors. The civil members are to be appointed from the list of civil servants, who have resided twelve years in the service in India. The method of conducting business at the Council-board is as follows:-Matters propounded by the President, are first proceeded upon: he may adjourn the discussion of questions put by the other members of Council, but not more than twice. All orders are expressed as made by the Governor in Council. The Governor has power to act contrary to the opinions of the other members of the Council, taking upon himself the whole responsibility. On such extraordinary occasions, the Governor and Counsellors are to communicate to each other their opinions and reasons by minutes in writing,
and to meet a second time; and if both retain their first opinions, the minutes are entered on the consultations, and the orders of the Governor are to be valid, and put in execution.
TRADE-Bombay from its situation commands the commerce of the Gulphs of Persia and Arabia, and the northern parts of this side of India; the trade, however, is only a transit, the island not furnishing from its own products any considerable articles for exportation, or even sufficient food for its numerous inhabitants. It is merely an emporium for the reception of articles produced in other countries, and a port of resort to merchants. All sorts of Asiatic and European commodities are therefore to be procured here. It would consequently be a waste of time to enumerate the various descriptions of articles imported and exported between Bombay and British and Foreign Europe and America, as well as the rest of Asia. Every year a Report of Trade is prepared at Bombay, copies of which are sent home to the Court of Directors. Very copious details respecting the internal and external trade of this Presidency are contained in that Report, which fills a very thick folio volume. The Tables published in the first edition of this Work were extracted from that source; but Mr. G. A. Prinsep, of Calcutta, has demonstrated so satisfactorily the defects of these accounts, by reason of the mode adopted at the Bombay Custom-house of obtaining the valuations, which, far from approximating to the truth, are not even formed upon a consistent plan, that they serve in many cases only to mislead. The little Work of this gentleman, entitled "Remarks on the external Commerce and Exchanges of Bengal," affords a very useful key to understand the nature and extent of the trade of all the Presidencies.
The Reports furnish the following statement of the external trade of Bombay in the year 1821-22. The imports into the Presidency (excluding Company's investments), amounted to 2,79,74,672 B. Rupees: the chief places are as follow:
The exports from the Presidency (exclusive of Company's investments) from the year 1821-22, amounted to 2,23,79,975 B. Rupees: the chief places are as follow:
The aggregate amount of the imports from the United Kingdom, including the Company's imports, those of their officers, and of private traders, was, in the year 1821-22, 75,02,797 B. Rupees; and the aggregate amount of exports to Great Britain in the same year was 25,83,962 B. Rupees. But Mr. Prinsep, by pursuing a more rational method of estimating the value, represents the former amount at 1,12,18,852 B. Rupees, and the latter at 29,99,695 B. Rupees.
The number of vessels which arrived at Bombay during the year 1821-22 was 130; of which 118 were English, 4 Portuguese, 1 French, 2 Turkish, and 5 Arab. The aggregate tonnage was 60,863 tons.
The number of vessels which sailed from Bombay, during the same year, was 141; of which 129 were English, 4 Portuguese, 2 Turkish, and 6 Arab. The aggregate tonnage was 67,645 tons.
As a matter of curiosity, perhaps of utility, it may be stated, that the average length of the voyage of a fleet from England to Bombay, taken for 13 years, was 121 days nearly; the longest voyage was 142 days, and the shortest 103.
REMARKS ON THE COMMERCE WITH CHINA.
This is the most valuable branch of the commerce of Bombay. The staple article is cotton wool; the remainder consists of sandal wood, sharks' fins, and a few other articles, the produce of Malabar, and the western side of India. The merchants at Bengal and Madras have become competitors in the China market in the article of cotton, which, from its being of a superior quality, or rather from its being cleaner, has fetched higher prices at Canton than that from Bombay. This competition therefore threatens to affect the trade of Bombay in a very material degree, unless the same precautions are taken in cleaning the cotton produced on this side of India, as have been practised at Bengal and Madras.
The East India Company have become participators in the trade from Bombay to China, since which period the article of cotton-wool has nearly doubled in price. They reserve to themselves two-thirds of the chartered