William H. Seward's Travels around the World

By William Henry Seward; Olive Risley Seward | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III.
FROM MADRAS TO CALCUTTA.

The Surf at Madras.--On the Bay of Bengal.--The Lion-Whelps.--The Hoogly.--The Viceroy's Invitation.--Earl and Countess Mayo.--Glimpses of Calcutta.--The Baboo. --The Baboo's House and Harem.--The Government House.

Steamer Australia, Bay of Bengal, February 27th.--The surf never ceases to beat and break against the shore at Madras. A dozen years ago an attempt was made to overcome the difficulty by extending a pier into the sea. But there was found neither capital nor engineering skill anywhere sufficient to make the work effective.

We insisted on leaving the shore in the primitive way. A native surf-boat, eighteen feet long, five feet wide, and six feet deep, was hauled high and dry on the beach. The boat is constructed with bamboo-withes instead of spikes and nails, to prevent leakage, and of material so light, and proportions so exact, that no weight of water will cause it to sink. It is presumed always that, notwithstanding the boat is so deep, it will fill in going through the breakers. For this reason, the passengers, as well as the oarsmen, sit on benches which are stretched across the boat's brim, and each bench serves as a brace for the feet of the occupants of the bench behind it. We were lifted in chairs by Hindoos and spilled on the benches in the stern, under the awning of British flags. A secretary and an aide-de-camp of the governor were with us, and we enjoyed our

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