CHAPTER XI. BOMBAY - (Continued).
* * * * *
Residences for the Governor - Parell - Its Gardens - Profusion of
Roses - Receptions at Government-house - The evening-parties - The
grounds and gardens of Parell inferior to those at Barrackpore - The
Duke of Wellington partial to Parell - Anecdotes of his Grace
in India - Sir James Mackintosh - His forgetfulness of India - The
Horticultural Society - Malabar Point, a retreat in the hot
weather - The Sea-view beautiful - The nuisance of fish - Serious effects
at Bombay of the stoppage of the trade with China - Ill-condition
of the poorer classes of Natives - Frequency of Fires - Houses of the
Parsees - Parsee Women - Masculine air of the other Native Females
of the lower orders who appear in
public - Bangle-shops - Liqueur-shops - Drunkenness amongst Natives
not uncommon here, from the temptations held out - The Sailors'
Home - Arabs, Greeks, Chinamen - The latter few and shabby - Portuguese
Padres - Superiority of the Native Town of Bombay over that of
Calcutta - Statue of Lord Cornwallis - Bullock-carriages - High price and
inferiority of horses in Bombay - Hay-stacks - Novel mode of stacking.
There are three residences for the accommodation of the Governor of Bombay; one, the Castle, situated within the Fort, has been long disused, and appropriated to government-offices; a second, at Malabar Point, is intended as a retreat for the hot weather; Parell, the third, being the mansion most usually occupied.
Though not built in a commanding position, Parell is very prettily situated in the midst of gardens, having a rich back-ground of wood, while, from the upper windows, the eye, after ranging over these luxuriant groves, catches a view of the sea, and is carried away to more remote regions by the waving outline of distant hills, melting into the soft haze until it effaces all their details.
Parell was originally a college of Jesuits, and, after so many alterations and improvements, that its original occupants would be puzzled to recognise it, is now rendered worthy of the purpose to which it is dedicated. The house is an irregular structure, without pretension to architectural design or ornament, but having something noble in its appearance, which is helped out by a fine portico and battlemented roof. The interior is handsome and convenient; two flights of marble stairs, twelve feet broad, lead into a very spacious drawing-room, with galleries on either side, and three smaller drawing-rooms beyond. The terrace over the portico, at the other end, separated from this suite of apartments by a verandah, is easily convertible into a fourth reception-room, it being roofed in by an awning, and furnished with blinds, which in the day-time give a very Italian air to the whole building.
Though I have never been in Italy, the acquaintance gained of it through the medium of illustrating pens and pencils makes me fancy that the island of Bombay, and Parell especially, at this season of the year (the cold weather), may bear a strong resemblance to that fair and sunny land.
The gardens of Parell are perfectly Italian, with their fountains and cypress trees; though regular, they are not sufficiently symmetrical to offend the eye, the nature of the ground and of the building, which runs out at right angles, preventing the formality from being carried beyond its just limit. Price, the most judicious of landscape-gardeners, would scarcely have desired to alter arrangements which have quite enough of the varied and the picturesque to satisfy those who do not contend for eternal labyrinthine mazes and perpetually waving lines. There is one straight avenue in front, but the principal carriage-road has just the kind of curve most desirable, sweeping round some fine trees which group themselves for the purpose of affording an agreeable diversity.
A broad terrace, overlooking a large tank, runs along one side of the garden, and beyond, upon a rising hill, are seen the New Horticultural Gardens, and a part of the picturesque village of Metunga, while the rest is laid out in small lawns, interspersed with rounds and ovals, fountains in the centre, surrounded by flower-beds, and flanked by tall, slender cypresses, and the more rare, delicate, and elegant species of palms: all this is set off by clumps of mangoes, now covered with blossoms of dark gold burnishing their green leaves.