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There are many large and handsome houses within the fort, but the Company's servants and merchants generally reside in the country; they repair to the fort in the morning for the transaction of business, and return home in the afternoon. Madras has been greatly improved within a few years past; it now contains three churches, besides several chapels.
The Black Town is to the N. of the fort, separated by a spacious esplanade; it is near four miles in circumference, and surrounded with fortifications sufficiently strong to resist the attempts of cavalry to surprise and plunder it. This town is the residence of the Gentoo, Moorish, Armenian, and Portuguese merchants, and of those Europeans who do not hold situations under the Government. The custom-house, and the houses of some of the merchants at Black Town, are large and elegant buildings; these, with the pagodas and temples, have a grand appearance from the sea.
To the S. of the fort stands the country residence of the Governor; and a short distance to the S. of that is Chepauk, the palace of the Nabob of Arcot. The surrounding country is called the Choultry Plain, and is covered with the houses and gardens of the Europeans, most of them large and beautiful; and from the superior quality of the chunam, or mortar, used in their erection, have an appearance of being built with marble.
The Choultry Plain commences about a mile and a quarter S. W. of Fort St. George, from which it is separated by two rivers. The one, called the River of Triplicane, winding from the W., gains the sea about 1000 yards to the S. of the glacis; the other, coming from the N. W., passes the W. side of the Black Town, the extremity of which is high ground, which the river rounds, and continues to the E., until within 100 yards of the sea, where it washes the foot of the glacis, and then turning to the S., continues parallel with the beach, until it joins the mouth and bar of the River of Triplicane. From the turning of the river at the high ground, a canal striking to the S. communicates with the River of Triplicane. The low ground, included by the channels of the two rivers and canal, is called the Island, which is near two miles in circumference. About 1200 yards from the strand of the sea is a long bridge, leading from the island over the Triplicane River, to a road which continues S. to the town of St. Thomé. Another bridge over the canal leads to the W., and amongst others, to a village called Egmore; from which this bridge takes its name. Coming from the S. or W., these two bridges afford the only convenient access to the Fort or White Town, excepting another along the strand of the sea, when the bar of the Triplicane River is choked with sand. All the ground between the St. Thomé Road and the sea is filled with villages and enclosures; and so is that on the left, for half a mile towards the Choultry Plain, from
which a road and several smaller passages lead through them to the St. Thomé Road.
The Choultry Plain extends two miles to the W. of the enclosures which bound the St. Thomé Road, and terminates on the other side at a large body of water called the Meliapour tank, behind which runs, with deep windings, the Triplicane River. The road from the mount passes two miles and a half under the mound of the tank, and at its issue into the Choultry Plain is a kind of defile, formed by the mound on one side, and buildings with brick enclosures on the other.
As a heavy surf breaks high on the beach, the country boats are employed on all occasions where communication with the shore is requisite. The boats belonging to ships in the roads frequently proceed to the back of the surf, where they anchor on the outside of it, and wait for the boats from the beach to carry on shore their passengers, &c. It frequently happens, when the weather is unsettled, with a heavy swell rolling in, that the surf is so high as to make it dangerous for any of the country boats to pass to or from the shore; when this is the case, a flag is displayed at the beach-house, which stands near the landing-place, to caution all persons on board ships against landing, which should be carefully attended to; for numerous lives have been lost at different times through the temerity of Europeans proceeding to pass through the surf, in defiance of the admonitory signal.
The road is open to all winds, except those from the land, and there is generally a heavy swell tumbling in from the sea, making ships roll and labour excessively. Large ships generally moor in nine fathoms, with the flagstaff W. N. W. about two miles from the shore.
From the beginning of October to the end of December is considered the most dangerous season to remain in Madras Roads, or at any other ports on the Coast of Coromandel, being subject to hurricanes; but if a ship kept in good condition for putting to sea on the first appearance of a gale, takes advantage of the N. W. wind, which at the commencement of a hurricane blows off the land for three or four hours, there is but little danger to be apprehended; yet many ships, by neglecting to put to sea, have been lost, and their crews perished.
The Government of Fort St. George, and the possessions under this Presidency, are vested in a Governor and three Counsellors; vacancies therein are to be supplied by the Court of Directors, the members of Council being taken from the senior merchants, of twelve years' residence in India. If the Court of Directors neglect to fill such stations within two months after the notification of their vacancy, the King may appoint thereto, and such to be recalled only by the King. The Court of Directors may make provisional
appointments, but no salary is to be paid till the parties are in the actual possession of the office; and if a vacancy of Governor occurs when no provisional successor is on the spot, the Counsellor next in rank is to succeed, till a successor arrives, or a person on the spot is appointed. During this interval, if the Council should be reduced to one member only, besides the acting Governor, he may call a senior merchant to act as a temporary Counsellor till the arrival of a Governor, or a fresh appointment be made: the salaries are only to be paid for the periods the offices are held, although no provisional successor be on the spot. The Commander in Chief is not to succeed as Governor, unless specially appointed so to do. If a vacancy occurs in the Council, and no provisional Counsellor be present, the Governor and Council may appoint a Counsellor from the senior merchants. If the Governor and Commander in Chief are different persons, the latter may be appointed by the Directors the second in Council. The Commander in Chief of India, not being the Governor General, is to have a seat in Council when at Fort St. George. The local Commander in Chief is to have a seat also while the Commander in Chief of India may be present, but not to have a vote.
When in Council, to proceed in the first place to matters proposed by the Governor; and on any question of the Counsellors, the Governor may twice adjourn the discussion for forty-eight hours. All proceedings to be stated as made by the Governor and Council, and signed by the Chief Secretary.
If the Governor differs in opinion with the Council, after they shall have stated their opinions in writing, he may direct such measures thereon as he may see fit, on his own responsibility, so that such measures could have been legally effected with the consent of the Council; but these powers are not to be exercised by Governors succeeding in consequence of death, &c. except provisionally appointed, or confirmed by the Directors. While Governors are acting previous to confirmation, all questions are to be decided by a plurality of voices, the Governor having the casting vote; but in no case to act against the opinion of the Council in judicial matters, or in regulations for the good order of civil government, &c.; nor by his own authority to impose any tax, &c. When the Governor General may be at Fort St. George, the powers of the Governor there are to be suspended (except in judicial proceedings) from the proclamation of the Governor General's arrival, to the proclamation to the contrary, or until his departure; the powers of Government during this period are to be vested in the Governor General, the Governor sitting and acting as a Member of Council.
The Governor and Council are to obey the orders of the Governor
General, &c. except they may be repugnant to the orders of the Court of Directors; the Governor General, &c. finally deciding as to the application of those orders. The Governor and Council cannot declare war, &c. but in consequence of orders from Bengal, or from the Court of Directors; and are to make all treaties (if possible) subject to the ratification of the Governor General, &c., and are also to inform the Supreme Government of all things material to be communicated, and also of such as may be required of them.
A Supreme Court of Judicature is established at Madras, consisting of a Chief Justice and three other Judges, who are to be Barristers of not less than five years' standing, to be named by the King. The salary of the Chief Justice is £6000 per annum, and each of the other Judges £5000 per annum (in lieu of all fees), to be paid at the exchange of 8s. per pagoda, to commence, when appointments take place in England, on the day of embarkation; and when in India, on the entering upon the duties of the office. After seven years' service in India, if the Judges of the Supreme Court return to Europe, the King may direct to be paid out of the Territorial Revenues, to the Chief Justice not more than £1600, and to each of the other Judges not more than £1200 per annum, so that no allowances be made exceeding together the salary of a Puisne Judge. The salaries of the Judges to cease on their quitting India.
TRADE. The commerce of this Presidency is of a more limited nature than that of the others. One cause is the want of a secure port for shipping on the Coromandel Coast. A very copious Report upon the Madras Trade is annually prepared and sent home to the Court, occupying sometimes six folio volumes. But Mr. PRINSEP has shewn (Remarks on the External Commerce of Bengal) that the Indian Trade Reports (though he does not specifically include Madras) are altogether unavailable for mercantile information, by reason of the principles adopted in computing the values of imports and exports. The original author of this Work, (the late MR. MILBURN) in a MS. note inserted in his interleaved copy of the first edition, confirms the statement of Mr. PRINSEP. He says, "Unfortunately, the records of Fort St. George and Bombay are too inaccurate to place any sort of reliance on the information to be derived therefrom."
The commerce is arranged in the Reports under the following heads :I. To and from Great Britain (exclusive of the Company's trade); II. To and from foreign Europe; III. To and from America; IV. To and from British Asia; V. To and from foreign Asia, and various places, including the East Coast of Africa, New Holland, Cape of Good Hope, &c.
The following official Statement of the external Trade of the Presidency, for the four years ending 1820-21, is extracted from the Appendix to MR. PRINSEP's Work:
Grand Total of Exports... | 1,21,56,756 | 1,23,43,817 | 1,21,71,703 | 1,18,20,175
Aggregate of Import and Export... 2,38,11,852
The products within the Presidency being comparatively few, the external trade consists chiefly of Foreign merchandise, imported by sea, and brought from the interior. Piece-goods compose the Company's staple export. The inland trade of the Coromandel Coast, and the Northern Circars, is carried on through the various passes leading into the Mahratta country. Hydrabad is partly supplied with merchandise of various kinds from Masulipatam, and partly from Surat. Previous to the last Mysore war, a market at Fort St. George was held only one day in the week; at present it is held daily, for the convenience of merchants in Mysore, and from various parts of the Deckan; to which places, Bengal manufactures are transported principally by land carriage.
PORT REGULATIONS.-A notification shall be sent by the Collector of Customs, through the Master-Attendant, to the Commanders of all ships coming into the roads, requiring them to transmit a true and complete manifest of all the goods and merchandise laden on board, agreeably to an established printed form; which, if necessary, shall be verified on oath.