Letters of Marque

Letter XVI

(notes edited by David Page)

First Publication

17th February, 1888, in the Pioneer and 22nd February, 1888, in the Pioneer Mail.

Notes on the Text

[Page 155, line 2] Maha Rao Raja Ram Singh, Bahadur (or Maharao). This may be translated as ‘Great Chief, ruler, beautiful, brave lion’, compliments for the ruler of Boondi State. The Raja ruled from 1821 to 1888. [See Chiefs and Leading Families in Rajputana by C.S. Bayley’, Calcutta 1894].

[Page 155, line 10] Sukh Mahal literally ‘The Palace of Rest’.

[Page 155, line 17] chowkidar (Night) Watchman.

[Page 156, lines 2 & 3] Anglo-Saxon attitudes probably a reference to Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll (1871), Chapter 7, “The Lion and the Unicorn” :

‘Not at all,’ said the King. ‘He’s an Anglo-Saxon Messenger—— and those are Anglo-Saxon attitudes. He only does them when he’s happy. His name is Haigha.’ (He pronounced it so as to rhyme with ‘mayor.’)

[Page 156, line 12] jhils small lakes or ponds. See chap.15, page 154, line 15 [DP].

[Page 156, line 14] bund embankment. [DP]

[Page 156, line 15] chhatri a shelter or shrine.

[Page 157, line 10] breaking the ice to start things moving – a well-known phrase in England.

[Page 157, line 28] Lake Sahib General (later Lord) Lake, who assisted Wellington in campaigns against the Marathas at the beginning of the 19th century.

[Page 157, line 31] Lalji a term of affection and respect. The Raja was installed in Boondi in 1821.

[Page 158, line 16] kutcha poor quality or second-class. [DP]

[Page 159, line 20] four rupees a month such indeed was the pay of native soldiers in these Independent States at the time – i.e., just over £3 a year.

[Page 160, line 16] Nal Sagar might be translated as “The Lake of Reeds”.

[Page 160, line 18] Banda Gorge meaning Monkey Gorge. [DP]

[Page 161, line 3] Bunjaras’ travelling grain merchants.

[Page 161, line 16] Durbar the Raja’s Court

[Page 161, line 27] pice there were 16 annas to the rupee, and 4 pice (Hind. paisa) to the anna. The pice was the smallest coin in use in India, equivalent to the farthing (one quarter of a penny) in Sterling. Used colloquially, as here, for money generally.

[Page 162, lines 1 & 2] ‘Agenty Sahib’ the Resident or Political Agent. See also Chap. 8, page 66, line 7. [DP]

[Page 162, lines 10 & 11] ‘Colon-nel Baltah, Agenty Sahib Bahadur’ it is not likely that the real name of this Resident was Baltah.

[Page 162, line 12] Kotah about 25 miles SSE of Boondi on the Chambal River. Three railway lines met there in 1962, one from Ujjain in the south, one from Bharatpur in the north-east, and one from Etawah in the east.

[Page 162, line 21] Hunja this horse was killed in the Battle of Dublana about 30 miles north-west of Boondi; the statue was put up by Omeda, who died in 1804.

[Page 163, line 25] setons Twists of cotton inserted in a wound to maintain drainage.

[Page 164, line 30] Peepul a fig tree, also known to the Buddhists as the bo-tree, sacred wild-fig (ficus religiosa). Beneath the tree the Buddha is traditionally supposed to have attained to perfect knowledge.


[Page 166, lines 20-25] The new heraldry of the State … This is a description of the coat or arms of the State of Boondi, expressed in technical heraldic terms.
Or means gold, and as the first colour (or metal) mentioned decribes the color of the upper part of the shield; sable means black; proper means ‘in natural colouring’; In chief means ‘at the top’; second refers to the upper right hand quarter of the shield; vert is green; fessewise means ‘like a knight’s girdle crossing the shield horizontally’. The blazon (heraldic description) given is not quite correct in accordance with English Heraldry.


[Page 166, line 31] Prince Khoorm afterwards Shah Jehan; he fought at Ahmednagar in 1616.

[Page 167, line 9] gules red.

[Page 167, line 20] Banswara a small state up the Mahi River from the Gulf of Cambay, to the west of Ratlam.

[Page 167, line 25] kuchnar tree Bauhinia variegata, an ornamental tree with variegated flowers. (The Timber Trees, Timber and Fancy Woods, and also The Forests of India, and also of Easter and Southern Asia by Edward Balfour, Madras, 1862.) [DP]

[Page 167, line 26] Dasaratha not the grandson of Asoka, but the legendary King of Kosala, whose queen was Kausalya, the Mother of Rama.

[Page 167, line 28] aswamedha yuga Dasaratha ordered the sacred horse to be released on the north bank of the Gaudak Rivers which was his eastern boundary. This is one of the Scythian rites which connects the Rajputs with the Scythians; it was very expensive and the horse was sacrificed after a year’s liberty on the spot where it was released. All surrounding Kings were invited to the ceremony, for which twenty-one pillars were built. Anciemt Scythia was in south-eastern Europe, in what is now Rumania (?)

[Page 167, line 32] Durga one of the names of Maya, the Queen of the World and the patron goddess of Jodhpur State, who is mentioned by Tod as demanding twelve princes to be sacrificed in the siege of Alla-ud-din.

[Page 168, line 24] Jey Jangal dar Badshah! the ancient English meaning of ‘forest’, as uncultivated wasteland for hunting is paralleled here by the translation of Jangal as ‘waste’.

[Page 169, line 8] gau mukh “cow’s mouth”. See chapter XI, page 99, line 26. [DP]

[Page 169, line 10] Burra Talao large lake. [DP]

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