The Good Old Days - Preface 2

ourselves in a narrative of events which happened during the two centuries alluded to in Calcutta and India generally.

 

Like another Herculaneum, that had been buried for ages and afterwards exposed to view to a race unborn a the time of its entombment, the habits and amusements of a people which had passed away from the face of the earth are reproduced in the pages we now present to the reader. We seem were to live again among those who were contemporaneous with our great grandfathers, and we can in imagination see a little into their customs and habits, so old fashioned in our eyes as to raise a smile of contempt or ridicule. We see Calcutta before it possessed a single building of magnificence or even of importance, and when the Honorable Company of merchants were only in their infancy, and ruled the country with a jealous eye and iron hand.

 

With friends of the past we visit spots once of note in the City of Palaces, and in some stations in the upper provinces. We join with them the masque, the ball, the convivial gatherings of those days. We take part in the quaint sayings and conversation of the old and the puerilities of the young. We see around us men whose names have passed down as heirlooms to posterity, and whose good deeds live in the memory of the present generation; and others whose names indeed have passed to their children, but whose memory is alone marked by pompous mausoleums in the old Park Street Cemetery in Calcutta. In imagination the morning gazette comes in with our early breakfast, and we pour over the accounts, printed in old fashioned type, of wars, revolutions, riots, elopements, divorces, &c. We take our stand among the men of the Turf. We hear the betting around the Race Stand, among men in health and vigor, who are staking as it were their very existence on the chances of the running. We turn and wend our way to the counting house, and there are witness to the betting of another class of speculators, the exporters of indigo, sugars, silks and other Indian goods, who have staked their all in shiploads of one or more of these articles, and are now in doubt and uncertainty as to what might be the state of the market in England on the arrival of their ventures. The people in India gambled in lotteries then; the Press was gagged and unable to offer an independent opinion. Adventurers were not allowed to land without a permit from the Honorable Court in Leadenhall Street; and those who had licences were not permitted to go more than ten miles distant from Calcutta, without another permit.

 

We now present the result of out labors to an appreciating public. W.H CAREY

 

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