Page:Malabari, Behramji M. - Gujarat and the Gujaratis (1882).djvu/29

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13
SURAT

Strange Vicissitudes.

It seems to have been built under Mahomedan auspices. It derived its former importance from its maritime situation, which afforded peculiar facilities not only for a vast sea-borne trade, but for hordes of well-to-do Mahomedan pilgrims sailing for Meccá. Surat has a curious and touching history; but this is not the time to call up visions of its past glory. Its career reads like that of the beautiful eastern slave, whom chance leads from one enamoured master to another, till the lovely captive has well-nigh lost her power to please. From the Ahmedábád Mahomedans, probably its first owners, it passed into the hands of Akbar, "first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen." But the deputies of the Grand Mogul could not retain the prize long; it passed successively into the hands of the mercenary Dutch, the fiery Lusitanian, the marauding Maratta, till the same chance placed it in the hands of masters who, hailing from the land of the free, claim freedom and justice as the objects of their mission to the East.

Surat of To-day.

Surat was a right jolly place a century ago, though even then it was in the afternoon of its