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Gold, Sport and Coffee Planting in Mysore

Robert H Elliot came to India in 1855 and settled in Mysore where he spent the next 40 years as a coffee planter. Later, he returned to England, and wrote a remarkable book, “Gold, Sport and Coffee Planting in Mysore” that was published in 1898.

The book remains one of the best accounts of the early years of coffee planting in India, besides providing several perspectives on the issues of the day. Given its value, and continuing relevance, the Project Gutenberg has issued this as an e-Book.

Reproduced below is an excerpt from the first chapter. To obtain the e-Book, please follow the links at the end.


As I now turn my thoughts back to the year 1855, when, being then in my eighteenth year, I sailed for India to seek my fortunes in the jungles of Mysore, it is difficult to believe that the journey is still the same, or that India is still the same country on the shores of which I landed so long ago. But after all, as a matter of fact, the journey is, practically speaking, not the same, and still less is India the same India which I knew in 1855. For the route across Egypt, which was then partly by rail, partly by water, and partly across the desert in transits, the bumping of which I even now distinctly remember, has been exchanged for the Suez Canal, and the frequent steamers with their accelerated rate of speed have altered all the relations of distances, and on landing at Bombay the
traveller of 1855 would now find it difficult to recognize the place. For then there were the old fort walls and ditches, and narrow streets filled with a straggling throng of carts and people, while now the fort walls and ditches no longer exist, and the traveller drives into a city with public buildings, broad roads and beautiful squares and gardens, that would do credit to any capital in the world, and sees around him all the signs of advanced and advancing civilization. Then as, perhaps, he views the scene from the Tower of the Elphinstone College, and looks down on the beautiful city, on the masts of the shipping lying in the splendid harbour, and on the moving throngs of people to whom we have given peace and order, what thoughts must fill his mind! And what thoughts further, as on turning to view the scene without the city he sees on one side of it the tall chimneys of the numerous mills which have sprung up in recent times, and which tell of the conjunction of English skill and capital with the cheap hand-labour of the East--a combination that is destined, and at no very distant period ahead, to produce remarkable effects. But I must not wander here into the consideration of matters to which I shall again have occasion to refer when I come to remark on the wonderful progress made in India in recent years owing to the introduction of English skill and capital, and shall now briefly describe my route to the western jungles of Mysore.

When I landed in Bombay, in 1855, the journey to the Native State of Mysore, now so easy and simple, was one requiring much time and no small degree of trouble, for the railway lines had then advanced but little—the first twenty miles in all India having been only opened near Bombay in 1853. A land journey then was not to be thought of, and as there were no coasting-steamers, I was compelled to take a passage in a Patama (native sailing craft) which was proceeding down the western coast with a cargo of salt which was stowed away in the after-part of the vessel. Over this was a low roofed and thatched house, the flooring of which was composed of strips of split bamboo laid upon the salt. On this I placed my mattress and bedding. My provisions for the voyage were very simple--a coop with some fowls, some tea, sugar, cooking utensils, and other small necessaries of life. A Portuguese servant I had hired in Bombay cooked my dinner and looked after me generally. We sailed along the sometimes bare, and occasionally palm-fringed, shores with that indifference to time and progress which is often the despair and not unfrequently the envy of Europeans. The hubble-bubble passed from mouth to mouth, and the crew whiled away the evening hours with their monotonous chants. We always anchored at night; sometimes we stopped for fishing, and once ran into a small bay--one of those charming scenic gems which can only be found in the eastern seas--to land some salt and take in cocoa-nuts and other items. As for the port of Mangalore, for which I was bound, it seemed to be, though only about 450 miles from Bombay, an immense distance away, and practically was nearly as far as Bombay is from Suez. At last, after a nine days' sail, we lay to off the mouth of the harbour into which, for reasons best known to himself, the captain of the craft did not choose to enter, and I was taken ashore in a canoe to be kindly received by the judge of the collectorate of South Kanara, to whom I had a letter of introduction.


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Courtesy: The Project Gutenberg EBook of Gold, Sport, And Coffee Planting In Mysore by Robert H. Elliot

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at

Release Date: October 14, 2004 [EBook #13746]



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