Part of a chess set in the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California. It is c. 1850, from the Delhi region. Made of ivory, it depicts a rook in the Indian style, as an elephant. It is part of a “John Company” set crafted for the British East India Company.

We’re going back into the archives to revisit these classic posts by James Norwood Pratt. This post includes two different two-part sequences: “The Secret’s Out: The Discovery of Tea in India” and “John Company Conquers India”. We have added a link to the end of each one to take you to the next if you would like to read them as a sequence, or you can choose which you want to peruse below. Enjoy!

The Secret’s Out: The Discovery of Tea in India

Then I felt like some watcher of the skies, when a new planet swims into his ken;

Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes He stared at the Pacific – and all his men

Looked at each other with a wild surmise –

Silent, upon a peak of Darien.

John Keats (1795-1821), “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer”

Part One

From time immemorial, China and China alone supplied the world with its tea. Before we trace the story of tea in other lands, let us try to…(Read more)

Part Two

The history of tea abounds with Scotsmen. One named Robert Bruce had ventured to explore Assam…(Read more)

John Company Conquers India

As Alexander had unleashed the hoarded gold of Persia, and the Roman preconsuls had seized upon the the spoils of Greece and Pontus, and the Conquistadors the silver of Peru, so now did the English nabobs, merchant princes and adventurers . . . Unthaw the frozen treasure of Hindustan and pour it into England.

Major-General J.F.C. Fuller (1878-1966), A Military History of the Western World

Part One

The British and the French followed the Portuguese and Dutch into the Orient. When England’s Charles II married the Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza, he received…(Read more)

Part Two

Churchill notwithstanding, it was the profits accruing to “a handful of adventurers from an island in the Atlantic,” as the historian Macauley described the Company to Parliament, which made possible…(Read more)

Photo “Rook” is copyright under Public Domain 1.0 Universal License to the photographer Thad Zajdowicz and is being posted unaltered (source)