chap, xii SHELLAC, SUGAR, AND OPIUM 19
the other hand, in Bengal, the district whence they bring the lac being
a kind of jungle full of shrubs, the ants secrete it round the ends of
branches, which makes it fair and clean, and it is consequently dearer.
The inhabitants of Pegu do not use it as a dye because they receive
their cotton cloths ready dyed from Bengal and Masulipatam ; and,
moreover, they are so uncivilized that they do not engage in any art.1 There
are many women at Surat who gain their livelihood by preparing lac
after the colour has been extracted. They give it whatever colour they
wish, and make it into sticks like Spanish wax. The English and Dutch
Companies export about 150 chests annually. Lac in sticks does not cost
more than 10 sols the livre, and it is worth 10 sols the once in
France, though it be half mixed with resin.
sugar is exported in quantity from the Kingdom of Bengal, and there is
great traffic in it at Hugly, Patna, Dacca, and in other places. During
my last visit to India I penetrated very far into Bengal, even up to
the frontiers of the neighbouring States. I was told a fact by many old
people of the country which should be recorded. It is that sugar kept
for thirty years becomes a poison, and that there is nothing more
dangerous or rapid in producing this effect.2 Loaf-sugar is
made at Ahmadabad, where the people understand how to refine it; it is
called on this account royal sugar. These loaves of sugar generally
weigh from 8 to 10 livres.
comes from Burhanpur, a good mercantile town between Surat and Agra.
The Dutch buy it there and exchange it for their pepper.
Tobacco 3 also grows abundantly in the neighbourhood of
Tavernier probably knew very little of Pegu, which he never visited.
Had he done so he would have found certain arts flourishing there. It
is used as a dye in Upper Burma (Scott & Hardiman, Gazetteer of Upper Burma, part i, vol. ii, p. 394).
is not unlikely that there may be still a belief to this effect in
India. Ball remembered having heard something of the same kind about
rice when kept beyond a certain time. Possibly they both originate in
some proverbial saying having reference to storing up articles of food
The practice of smoking tobacco, which was first learnt by the
Spaniards from the Cuban Indians in the year 1492, was introduced into
Turkey, Egypt, and India about the end of the 16th century ; and it
spread steadily, though opposed by the severest enactments of both