Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Prince Edward's historic sojourn in early Goa

Prince Edward’s safari to the Sub-Continent

A post by John J. D’Souza in response to: Goa “little else than a melancholy heap of ruins” –1875

A recent posing on Goanet noted that “Panaji is decaying by the day” That awfully very foul stench of rotting garbage that we have to all inhale every morning while entering Panaji after crossing the Mandovi Bridge only depicts the current despicable state of this Government which is now in total disarray.

A recent Times of India op-ed also noted “The Degradation of Goa’s Capital”
 Not infrequently, some Snowbirds   returning from Goa, lament that things are going from bad to worse. The place is overwhelmed with cheap tourism and migrants destroying its unique character.

About 150 years ago Goa existence was also held to be precarious!
In October 1875, Albert Edward Prince of Wales, the eldest son of Queen Victoria, embarked on an extensive tour of the Indian subcontinent. The tour was extensively documented (see references at the end) this article, focuses on his impromptu stop to visit Goa, on his way to Ceylon and onward to Calcutta.

However, in November 6, 1875 when he landed in Bombay,  a fawning  speech of welcome was delivered on behalf of his Indian subjects by  Mr. Dosabhoy Framjee — a Parsee gentleman Chairman of the Bombay Corporation.(an excerpt is included at the end of  this posting. Hopefully Bomoikars on Goanet will come up with a detailed assessment of times then)

Excerpts from press reports of tour (see ref source at end):
In accordance with the spirit of inquiry which is so marked a characteristic of the Prince of Wales, His Royal Highness determined to anchor off Goa, the head-quarters of the Portuguese in India. Had the Prince of Wales returned to England without visiting the settlement, a valuable experience relating to that vast portion of the people of India, the Portuguese Catholics, would have been denied him.

The Prince’s ship the Seraphis , cast anchor in Goa Bay on Friday night, November 26th,(1875) A Portuguese galley, brought the Governor of Goa aboard to pay his respects, and arrange the program for the next day and for the visit to Old Goa.

It was once famous as the great mart on the Malabar Coast between Europe and Hindustan; and although now it is little else than a melancholy heap of ruins, these old ecclesiastical buildings is of the greatest historical interest. The palaces and chapels are crumbling away pillar by pillar and stone by stone and no one seems anxious to restore them. We on board ship would have liked to have landed before the royal salutes were fired, for there was no assurance that after one fou de joie (possibly 21 gun salute) was discharged there would be anything left in Goa save bricks and dust.
On November 27, 1875, Prince and his suite left in the steam barge for Old Goa, about twelve miles higher up the river, rendered famous by the landing of the first Portuguese General (Vasco de Gama) in India. The Prince was carried from the landing-place to the centre of the old town in a palanquin, The Prince wandered, apparently with the greatest interest, through the aisles of the three magnificent cathedral-like edifices here. One of these contains a silver coffin, within which reposes the body of St. Francis Xavier. The coffin rests on a richly carved marble pedestal. It is the most splendid shrine in the whole world.

The press reporter in the Prince of Wales party visiting old Goa noted the following:

“We were greatly struck with the strength of the Catholic church, still visible in this antiquated and decaying province. We all brought away with us ivory crosses, and carved figures of the Virgin and the infant Jesus, which we had purchased from the coloured Portuguese.”

  *   Critical thinking skills are needed when reading the above.
  *   Old Goa was in decay for several centuries due to unsanitary conditions mainly from water pollution.
  *   Reference to the noun Goan as inhabitants of place is hardly used
  *   It would have been mind blowing then to imagine that someday “coloured Portuguese” would be elected to their House of Parliament.
  *   Had the visiting party spent more time visiting Sunset Point in Bardez or walked along the 30km white sand beaches of Salcete, who knows – the hippy movement might have started then.

Excerpts from speech made in Bombay November 6 1875 by Mr. Dosabhoy Framjee — a Parsee gentleman Chairman of the Bombay Corporation

“Bombay may lay claim to the distinction of being a royal city, for this island first became an appendage of the Crown of England through forming part of the dowry of Charles the Second’s Portuguese bride; and during the two centuries that have since elapsed Bombay has had every reason to be grateful for this fortunate change in her destiny.

From a barren rock, whose only wealth consisted of coconuts and dried fish, whose scanty population of 10,000 souls …… she has blossomed into a fair and wholesome city, with a population which makes her rank next to London among the cities of the British Empire, with a municipal revenue amounting  to 300,000 (lakhs)/. a year, and with a foreign commerce worth forty- five millions, and yielding in customs duties to the imperial treasury three millions a year. All this material prosperity she owes to the strong and wise Government which has secured her in the enjoyment of peace and order, of equality before the law, of religious liberty, and of freedom of trade, and has thus given confidence to men of all races and creeds — Europeans, Indo- Portuguese, Hindus, Mohamedans, Parsees, and Jews — to pursue their various callings
under the shadow of the British flag.  End of Excerpt

Full text of "India in 1875-76: the visit of the Prince of Wales<
John J. D'Souza

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