1700-a day in the life of an East India Company official

n spite of small salaries, a goodly appearance was made by the Company's servants in public. At the public table, where they sat in order of seniority, all dishes, plates, and drinking-cups were of pure silver or fine china. English, Portuguese, and Indian cooks were employed, so that every taste might be suited. Before and after meals silver basins were taken round for each person to wash his hands. Arrack, Shiraz wine, and 'pale punch,' a compound of brandy, rose-water, lime-juice, and sugar, were drunk, and, at times, we hear of Canary wine. In 1717, Boone abolished the public table, and diet money was given in its place. Boone reported to the Directors that by the change, a saving of nearly Rs.16,000 a year was effected, and the Company's servants better satisfied.
On festival days the Governor would invite the whole factory to a picnic in some garden outside the city. On such an occasion a procession was formed, headed by the Governor and his lady in palanquins. Two large ensigns were carried before them, followed by a number of led horses in gorgeous trappings of velvet and silver. Following the Governor came the Captain of the Peons on horseback, with forty or fifty armed men on foot. Next followed the members of the Council, the merchants, factors, and writers, in order of seniority, in fine bullock coaches or riding on horses, all maintained at the Company's expense.
At the Dewallee festival every servant of the Company, from the Governor to the youngest writer, received a 'peshcush' from the brokers and bunyas, which to the younger men were of much importance, as they depended on these gifts to procure their annual supply of clothes.
Of the country, away from the coast, they were profoundly ignorant. The far-off King of 'Dilly' was little more than a name to them, and they were more concerned in the doings of petty potentates with strange names, such as the Zamorin, the Zammelook, the Kempsant, and the Sow Rajah, who have long disappeared. They talked of the people as Gentoos, Moors, Mallwans, Sanganians, Gennims, Warrels, Coulis, Patanners, etc., and the number of political, racial, religious, and linguistic divisions presented to their view must have been especially puzzling.
Owing to the numerous languages necessary to carry on trade on the Malabar coast, they were forced to depend almost entirely on untrustworthy Portuguese interpreters. Their difficulties in this respect are dwelt on by Hamilton--
    "One great Misfortune that attends us European Travellers in India is, the Want of Knowledge of their Languages, and they being so numerous, that one entire Century would be too short a Time to learn them all: I could not find one in Ten thousand that could speak intelligible English, tho' along the Sea coast the Portuguese have left a Vestige of their Language, tho' much corrupted, yet it is the Language that most Europeans learn first, to qualify them for a general Converse with one another, as well as with the different Inhabitants of India."