Commentary on
William Logan’s ‘Malabar Manual’


It is possible that the Dutch language is comparatively of a lesser feudal content than German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. This is my own summarisation based slightly on the fact that they were more sane and soft in many of their historical activities when compared to that of the German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. It must be admitted that I do not know much about the Dutch, or even about the mentioned other four nations, here.

It is just a gut feeling, that this is so. May be it is due to the fact that they could collaborate with the English people to create a wonderful nation in South Africa. But off course, the totally insane political philosophy of democracy has literally given it back to the barbarians of Africa. It is not that all the blacks of Africa are barbarians. But that, the languages there might be quite barbarian and feudal. So, only those who are totally barbarians will come up on top of those social systems, which use those languages.

The Portuguese attempt at creating a favourable trading relationship with the tiny, semi-barbarian Calicut failed due to the innate feudal language issues of the land. No commitment was worth anything here. The moment another personage with some social weight comes and speaks to the person who has given the promise, everything changes. The man who is a Saab / Saar/ Thamburan, in one location, the moment he is an Avan / Nee in another location, becomes a totally different man there.

By the time the Dutch arrived, the codes of interaction had already been decided. It was treachery that was the code that was in place. Each of the tiny semi-barbarian kingdoms vied against each other.

QUOTE: This event was almost contemporaneous with another which influenced the fate of India in general and of Malabar in particular, for in 1580-81 Holland, one of the seven “Northern United Provinces,” declared its independence of Spain. END OF QUOTE

Events in faraway Continental Europe were affecting event in a remote location on the globe.

QUOTE: In 1597 two Dutch ships succeeded in reaching India, but the one was destroyed off Malacca by a fleet of six Portuguese ships END OF QUOTE.

There was desperation to find a route to the semi-barbarian land where pepper was being grown. Yet, the Continental Europeans were also semi-barbarian, in that many had some kind of erroneous languages. However, a long-time proximity to England did give them an aura of glow and difference.

QUOTE: It was this protection of the Cochin Raja against the Zamorin which involved the Dutch in so much profitless expenditure in Malabar. END OF QUOTE.

It is undeniable that the Dutch did their best to protect the Cochin kingdom from being overrun and occupied by both the Calicut king as well as the Travancore king.

QUOTE: directly he arrived he saw the necessity of curbing the rising power of Travancore if the Dutch were to retain their hold of the trade of the country and not allow it to pass into the hands of the English, who were backing up the Travancore Raja. END OF QUOTE.

There were totally insane activities all around. It was only the English Company that took up the stance that it is best to avoid warfare and try to get on without a fight. This remained their policy till the last. However, the greatest paradox was with regard to this policy. They were forced to fight to protect the kingdoms that allied with them. And ultimately, one by one, the kingdoms came into their control, through the falling down of their attackers.

The French government policy that commanded all French trade divisions to attack English trading locations in all locations all around the world also led to this. For, whenever the French coaxed a local king to attack the English-side, the king and his supporters, the French, invariably lost the fight. This led to the taking over of the land by the English Company. It is true that the French were one of the greatest ‘freedom fighters’ of ‘India’.

QUOTE: “Without sufficient troops to hold their own by force, surrounded by native states outwardly friendly but secretly hostile, attacked by the Mysoreans, and awaiting instructions from Batavia, Moens’ position was a very difficult one. A common danger, it was true, bound the Cochin and Travancore States to the Dutch, END OF QUOTE.

The backstabbing cunningness of the native kings was a feature of the land, since times immemorial. In a feudal language social system, a person is most dangerous when he is displaying most affable friendliness and hospitality. That is how they stab in the back. This point seems to have escaped the attention of all the policymakers in all native-English nations.


The Muhammadans had invested Chetwai, the garrison of which place sent a message to Cochin, representing that they could not hold it much longer, so Governor Moens now determined to attempt its relief. Provisions and ammunitions having been packed in casks, 189 men embarked in the ship Hoolwerf, having some small boats in tow for the purpose of landing the men and stores. On the same afternoon, November 11th, they arrived before Chetwai, but the surf being high, the wary Muhammadans had the satisfaction of perceiving that they delayed landing until the next day.

“A chosen band of Sirdar Khan’s troops was told off, and in the dead of the night placed in ambuscade close to the beach where the landing was most likely to be effected, and in silence awaited the disembarkation of their prey.

“The morning dawned, and the Dutch having examined the shore, could see no vestige of an enemy, all appeared perfectly quiet, and they congratulated themselves on surprising Hyder's troops. The landing commenced, the first boat upset, but the troops waded to the beach with their loaded muskets wet, and their ammunition of course spoilt. Suddenly the ambuscade rushed out, and finding advance impossible, the Dutch retreated in good order to the beach ; but their boats were gone, and the terrified native boatmen were pulling quickly away from the scene of strife. Some of the detachment were killed, and the remainder obliged to surrender themselves prisoners of war.

"The Europeans were disheartened and abandoned the attempted relief whilst the Muhammadans were greatly elated and the fort of Chetwai was compelled to capitulate on the 13th, one condition being that the garrison should be permitted to retreat to Cranganore, a promise which was of course broken. The prisoners were plundered of everything, even to their very clothes, and with the women, children and slaves, were sent to Calicut. END OF QUOTE.

The Dutch were dealing with a population that they could not understand. There is treachery in the very air of the land. The verbal codes are terribly treacherous. However, how this is so, and what it is supposed to mean, are not easy to convey to them.

There is no sense of commitment among the native populations, unless they are bound by powerful codes of ‘respect’ versus ‘degradation’. The degraded populations will show deep loyalty to their higher man who they ‘respect’.

Another thing that must be noted here is that there is no honour in any commitment given to a fallen man. The moment he surrenders, he is questioned with the Nee word and referred to with the Avan word. That means he can be literally beaten up into a pulp. This attitude is sharply in contrast to the native-English style of treating the surrendered team with dignity.

QUOTE: The French Republican army entered Holland. The Stadtholder fled to England , and thence in February 1795, after the proclamation of the Batavian Republic in alliance with France, he addressed a circular to all the Dutch Governors and Commandants to admit British troops into all the Dutch “Settlements, Plantations, Colonies and Factories in the East Indies” to prevent them from falling into the hands of the French.

Mr. Vanspall was at this time Governor of Cochin, began laying in provisions with a view to standing a siege, and he invited the Cochin Raja to help him. On July 23rd Major Petrie, under orders from Colonel Robert Bowles, commanding the troops in Malabar, marched from Calicut to the Dutch frontier with a small force of infantry to obtain a peaceable surrender of the Dutch settlement. But the Governor refused to give up the place, and Major Petrie had then to wait till a siege train could be brought up. The Supervisor (Mr. Stevens) proceeded in person to Cochin in the beginning of September to endeavour to arrange matters with Mr. Vanspall, and a conference ensued, at which it was agreed that the surrender should take place. But next day the Governor changed his mind and the negotiations were suspended. END OF QUOTE

It is a very funny situation. The Dutch (Holland) government ordered the Dutch fort to give it up to the English side, to prevent it from falling into the hands of the French. However, the Dutch Governor in Cochin refused to give it up. Why?

The answer has to be sort in the feudal language codes of the land. The moment he gives up his platform, he will go down the verbal codes. The ‘he’, ‘him’, ‘his’ &c. words would more or less spontaneously come down from the ‘Adheham’ level to ‘Ayaal’ and then even to that of ‘Avan’. This terror will be understood only the governor knows the local language, which could a mix of Tamil and Malabari. The question is ‘Could he understand the local language?’