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(17) Estimate of primary and current expenses [[85-90]]

[[85]] To state the evil without pointing out the remedy, would be next to useless. When, however, the means are suggested of avoiding all or any of the difficulties attendant on arrival in a foreign land, the stranger must be understood to possess pecuniary resources; that is, to be able to pay his way. Otherwise, he can do nothing, and must undergo all the afflictions and miseries every where attendant upon despised poverty. It must not be forgotten, that what may appear in England to be liberal calculations, will be otherwise in the East; where every article of European manufacture bears an enormous price, and house-rent is very expensive; while it is indispensably [[86]] necessary to retain many servants.

The first thing to be done (setting a letter of recommendation out of the question), is to report arrival at the secretary's office, depositing the certificate of the Directors' licence to proceed to India. Without this, the party is treated as an alien, not entitled to British protection. Nor does this arise from ill-will on the part of government, or the inhabitants; but from that strict attention which the politics of the country imperiously require to be paid to the several characters, and descriptions, of persons residing within the territory of British India.

All persons in the civil or military branches are equally required to produce the certificate granted at the India House, in order to identify the party. Should this have been lost, he himself, together with the commander who received the order for taking him on board, must attend, to make affidavit to that effect, before the appointment can be admitted upon the registers in India.

Such as appertain to the civil service, being always strongly recommended, and often finding many old acquaintances of their families on the spot, require but little advice. Nor does the cadet stand much in need of instruction for providing himself with a home. He is only to wait upon the town-major, at his office in Fort William, when he will receive the necessary order for admission into the barracks and mess appointed for his reception.

He who has not these advantages, must do the best his circumstances allow. He will find temperance not only cheap, but indispensable; for should he at the outset indiscreetly injure his health, there would follow a thousand privations, and a certain increase of difficulties. As the first point he must get under cover. Nor will this be found so easy, as those may suppose who have never [[87]] quitted England. It will require some research, to procure a small house with only bare walls; for a furnished house to be let is unknown in India ; and lodgings are, if possible, still more out of the question.

Fortunately, among the European shopkeepers in Calcutta are some most respectable characters; men distinguished for their urbanity, philanthropy, and generosity. Application should be instantly made to one of these firms, for aid and advice. The case should be candidly stated; and to insure confidence, there should be a deposit of money either with them, or at one of the banks. Thus, in a few hours, some small tenement will be obtained, either hired, or granted as a temporary accommodation; and all the articles really necessary will be provided, at one of the auctions daily occurring within the central parts of the town.

The appointment of proper servants will now be important; but, under the directions of any old resident, by no means difficult. Such will be not only the most expeditious, but the safest, way of proceeding; since those who recommend will in all probability be expected, according to the custom of the place, to become sureties for the honesty of all persons hired on their recommendation.

One servant who can speak English, or at least, an underling sircar deputed from the warehouse, will prove a very agreeable resource, on all occasions of difficulty; but the good policy, or rather the absolute necessity, of immediately studying the language, is so apparent, that he who runs may read. Till that is acquired, to such an extent as may preclude the necessity for an interpreter on ordinary occasions, no person can be deemed independent -- far less, capable of acting with effect in any civil, military, or commercial capacity.

Strange to say, many gentlemen reside from ten to [[88]] thirty years in India, without ever being able to summon resolution to acquire sufficient of the Hindee language even to take their accounts! With such, the sircar is everything. The consequences are, invariably, that he grows rich, and his master continues to the last in distress, unless fortune or patronage fill his coffers so fast that neither domestic peculation nor extravagance can keep them empty.

Without pretending to make a very accurate estimate, an outline may be sketched of those expenses which every person must incur when keeping house, though in the most retired manner, and on the most economical plan. In doing this, it is considered that the instructions given for the outfit have been duly observed; and that wearing apparel, some plate, bedding, blankets, sheets, and pillowcases, have been provided. If they have not, those articles may be rated at from fifty to a hundred per cent more than they would cost in England.

The following brief catalogue will be found to contain only those conveniences which are indispensable. As prices, however, fluctuate greatly, those given here and in the following pages, should be considered more as certain data on which to calculate, than as bona fide prices: --

One dozen of chairs; say at four rupees each 48 rupees
One dining-table for six, say 25
Two tepoys (tripods) 31/2 each 7
One writing-table, with drawers 25
One bedstead of 6 feet 4 in. by 4 feet 6 in. 30
Curtains to ditto; those for the exterior of chintz 20
Inside ditto, of gauze, to keep out musquitoes 10
Bookcase upon chest of drawers 100
China and glass ware, say 100
Shades to put over candles, one pair, say
(Those with wooden pedestals to be preferred.)
[[89]] A chillumchee (or metal basin) for washing hands, with its
tripod. &c.
A palanquin and bedding 100
Table cloths and towels 50
One large and one small satringe (cotton carpet) 25 and 10
Various culinary articles, say 40
A variety of small articles in cutlery, &c., say 45
Making in all on a rough estimate 700

In this estimate a horse is not included, because not indispensable; but both as a convenience, and as tending to health, a cheap, safe, and quiet pony should be provided. Numbers are sold every week, at all prices; but one, including the saddle and bridle, from 250 to 300 rupees, would be going far enough.

Suppose the whole expense amounts to 1000 sicca rupees, or £125; this will be as little as any person can expend, so as to secure his credit or comfort. The common stock of wines, spirits, wax-candles, sauces, sugar-candy, tea, coffee, saltpetre, and a number of lesser items, would require [a] full 600 rupees more; supposing that a year's supply were immediately provided. Thus, £200 will be necessary to establish a gentleman in his residence, supposing it to be fixed. Travelling alters the case, and will be found considerably to increase the disbursements.

A comparison between the before-mentioned prices and those in Europe, will shew that Calcutta is by no means a favourable market for the purchase of furniture, wines, cattle, &c.; and should at once satisfy every free-mariner, free-merchant, &c., proceeding to India on speculation, that he must be provided with at least six hundred pounds to answer the demands of his outset. House rent cannot well be taken at less than £150 per annum; servants will [[90]] amount to about as much more; and his table expenses, pocket-money, &c., on the most moderate scale, will demand one hundred, after laying in his stock of wines, tea, &c.

So that, in all, he may be said to do very well on the £600. Should he, indeed, be so fortunate as to make numerous respectable acquaintances, and become a frequent guest at their tables, a considerable portion of the expenses stated at £100, may be retrenched. Such good luck, however, does not generally happen; and, at any rate, rarely comes at once, as it requires time to gain that footing which may relieve the pressure of table charges. This, too, may be attended only with common civility, without affording the smallest prospect of further beneficial countenance from such hospitality.


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