Scope and Content Note
Journal of a Voyage by Sea from Calcutta to Madras, and of a Journey from thence back to Dacca does not seem to have been intended for publication, although the author is obviously aware that someone (family or friends)
besides herself is intended to read it. Marsh, by 1774 Mrs. Crisp, had moved to Bengal to join her husband. At the end of
the year she took a journey without her family along the coast due to her "extreme ill health." Beginning in December 1774,
the author sailed from her home of Dacca (now the capital of Bangladesh), to Calcutta (after 1772, the capital of British
India), meeting "my Dear Crisp & sweet Boy" who were there on business. She then sailed further south to Madras, before traveling
back to Dacca, often by land. The resulting journal of the trip is a neat, carefully dated document, full of names and places
as it charts her movements.
The journal entries are generally diurnal and fairly brief, covering mundane details like descriptions of the weather (awfully
hot), when and with whom Marsh breakfasts and sups, and the names of people she meets and whose homes she visits. Overall,
more attention is given to the white people she encounters than the native population, although the latter are never entirely
absent either, and often register as an ominous, unruly presence. Although she obviously takes pleasure in the varied scenery,
even bathing (swimming) as often as she can, the journey is frequently an unpleasant one. Marsh complains steadily of the
stupefying heat – at one point she notes the thermometer at 115 degrees [F] – and of her thirst, her inability to sleep or
rest because of the heat, and so on. Towards the end of the trip, monsoons appear and make the narrow roads extremely hazardous.
Travel in India was dangerous for reasons beyond the weather as well. On more than one occasion, Marsh's group is harassed
by locals, who sometimes demand bribes and sometimes evince physical hostility. British control of India and its population,
though being aggressively pursued, was far from complete in 1775. Furthermore, Marsh never fails to visit and comment on every
military fort they pass. As in Morocco, she is surrounded by men, but she now travels in a large company which can protect
her. The travel train is headed by her cousin, Captain Smith, and features not only several white gentlemen, but also a number
of Sepoys and other hired native servants and guards. She has several slave girls and woman servants of her own. The middle-class
status which no doubt helped to secure her release in Barbary remains an important part of her identity, as the thrill of
adventure is juxtaposed with the trappings of polite Anglo society.