The Pagoda Tree
The Lives of Two Restoration Brothers in England and the East Indies
- Iona Sinclair
15th January 2009
The Pagoda Tree is a dual biography based on the manuscript letterbooks of two seventeenth century brothers: the one a merchant, first in the Mediterranean and subsequently with the East India Company; the other a lawyer and would-be country quire.
The latter writes of the historical events of the period from the end of Cromwellian rule, through the reigns of Charles II and James II to William and Mary, but more importantly, writes to entertain his brother in India, of the idiosyncracies of his family and friends and (with particular relish) of the often disreputable behaviour of various parsons of his acquaintance.
The younger brother's dramatic adventures in Algeria and St Helena, en route for India, are matched by poignant tales of his efforts to gain the riches of the Orient, while, however, so often diverted by the beauty of Chinese porcelain and lacquer, of 'curiosities' and by his interest in Indian architecture and antiquities.