This letter to the Times from 1852 complains about the plight of Indian beggars on the streets of London, from one of their fellow nationals, so it would seem. One wonders whether he too was an Indian servant, albeit educated, on a visit with his employers. Or perhaps a native civil servant from Bombay – he certainly appears acquainted with the edicts from the Bombay authorities.
Hat-tip to reader Julian Craig, who spotted this in the Times Digital Archive.
* Update: See Julian’s comment below on the possible ambiguity of the writer’s ethnicity.
20th July 1852
I was not a little surprised on my arrival from India in this glorious part of the world to see in this metropolis several Indian beggars, who are a great annoyance to the public, but more so to the Indian gentlemen who visit England. Now, I frequently entered into conversation with them and inquired the cause of their begging in London ; the only reply that I could obtain was that their masters had died and they were left unprovided for; no other resort is left to them but to beg. England is overstocked by various people already and the following rule should be strictly adhered to and acted upon by the authorities in India, which would in a great measure put a stop to the coming of Indian beggars to this free land and it would be highly beneficial to the public as well as to the Indian delinquents themselves, who often perish for want of care and the effect of the climate :
‘ GENERAL DEPARTMENT
The Hon. the Governor in Council is pleased to intimate for general information, that under instruction from the Hon. the Court of Directors [ of the East India Company ] the customary deposit of five hundred rupees will in future be required on account of all [ Indian ] servants leaving Bombay by any route for Europe.
By order of the Hon. the Governor in Council
Secretary to Government
Bombay Castle, 11th February 1846.’
At present there are upwards of 200 Indian beggars in London itself, and many are certainly left through the treachery of the parties who brought them, and are anxious to return to India, but for want of means they are unable to do so, actually starving and suffering, and if all the Indian beggars be called upon, many of them will volunteer to return home and it would be an act of infinite charity to send them to India, and to call upon the authorities of the port from which they were allowed to embark for England, for infringing the above order, and to adopt such measures as to totally put an end to the suffering of Indian foreigners in this country.
I sincerely hope that this letter may attract the attention of those in this country who have the power of interfering and taking up the matter, and to obtain passage for their poor Indian subjects, whom circumstances have thrown in their land.
AN INDIAN GENTLEMAN “