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(69) Improvements in manufactures, newspapers, scribes [[508-509]]

[[508]] A person who quitted India about forty years ago, when the generality of articles of almost every description in use among Europeans were sent from England; and when only one or two European tailors were to be seen in all Bengal; when, also, a newspaper was scarcely in existence, would now, on landing in that country, be astonished at the improvements made in various branches of manufacture. He would contemplate the advance made in the mechanical arts as the certain forerunner of independence.

He would view also the several news-papers published at Calcutta (besides magazines, &c.), whose columns teem with advertisements on a large scale, as the paramount results of great enterprise, founded upon [[509]] extensive capitals, and backed by an almost unlimited credit. 

Williamson 1810 vol. 2: ((471)) The news-papers are generally published once or twice weekly, at about a rupee each; most days of the week bring forth two papers, in which the price of advertising is generally eight annas (i. e. half a rupee, or l5d.) for each line:

As the type is rather large, the expense of advertisements must, in some great houses, prove a conspicuous item among the disbursements.

In this respect, the Hindoostanee, or rather the Persian, newspapers are miserably deficient; as, indeed, they are in whatever should belong to a publication devoted to the important purposes of mercantile, or of political, intelligence. Far from containing a single advertisement, or from communicating any matter relative to the arts, these bulletins, for they are no better, are penned by persons about the several native courts, according to the whim of a sycophant, or to the mere tattle in the suburbs of a city. They are often manufactured hundreds of miles from the place whence they are supposed to emanate, and contain accounts of battles and sieges, capitulations and defeats, halts and marches, known only to the fabricators.

Williamson 1810 vol. 2: ((472)) ...known to the fabricators only, who, in whatever relates to invention, contradiction, and re-contradiction, absolutely surpass those industrious wights that supply our British news-mongers with paragraphs of the highest importance, accidents, murders, &c., &c., at the cheap rate of ten shillings per dozen!

There being no presses in use among the natives, every communication, whether private, or public, must be in manuscript. Hence the profession of scribe yeilds in some places no bad livelihood; especially at Delhi, which, being the ancient seat of government, and the immediate residence of a nominal king commonly called the Great Mogul, supplies every quarter of India with akbars (newspapers) written in the Persian language and character, on long narrow slips of a paper manufactured in India either from bamboos, reeds, or cotton-wool. These slips, rolled up to about an inch in width, are enclosed in a small cover pasted together, and despatched to the several quarters of Hindoostan.

Williamson 1810 vol. 2: ((472)) ...are despatched, with the shew ((473)) of great importance, to the several quarters of Hindostan, under the pompous idea of their being every where in high estimation.

The only paper published by authority in Bengal is the Calcutta Gazette, which is usually replete with advertisements for the sale of lands, printed in English, Persian, and Bengalese: as to news, or useful essays, &c., it is uncommonly sterile. Private advertisements in this paper are extravagantly dear, in consequence of the obligation imposed on all Collectors, &c., to take it in; whereby one copy at least is received at every civil station, however small.



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