Bernier, François, Travels in the Mogul Empire A.D. 1656-1668

(Westminster, Eng. :  Constable,  1891.)



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234                       LETTER TO COLBERT

deep and excellent that even without due cultivation it
will continue fertile for many years, cannot be otherwise
than rich and powerful. Yet how insignificant is the
wealth and strength of Turkey in comparison to its extent
and natural advantages! Let us only suppose that country
as populous and as carefully cultivated as it would become
if the right of private property were recognised and acted
upon, and we cannot doubt that it could raise and support
armies as numerous and well-appointed as formerly : but
even at Constantinople three months are now required to
raise five or six thousand men. I have travelled through
nearly every part of the empire, and witnessed how
lamentably it is ruined and depopulated. Some support
it undoubtedly derives from the Christian slaves brought
from all quarters; but if that country continue many
years under the present system of government, it must
necessarily fall and perish from innate weakness, though,
to all appearance, it is now preserved by that weakness
itself; for there is no longer a governor, or any other
person, possessed of pecuniary means to undertake the
least enterprise, or who could find the men he would re¬
quire to accomplish his purpose. Strange means of pre¬
servation ! Turkey seems to owe its transient existence to
the seeds of destruction in its own bosom ! To remove
the danger of commotion and put an end to all fears on
that subject, nothing more appears necessary than the
measure   adopted   by  a  Brama^   of Pegu,   who   actually

1 Thus in the original. Ferdinand Mendez Pinto, who travelled in
Pegu about 1542-45, styles the then king of that country Bramaa. It
is probable that Bernier uses the term to denote the Supreme King of
Pegu, who in 1593 caused many of his most loyal officers to be put to
death, and by other deeds of cruelty so alarmed his subjects that thou¬
sands abandoned the country and fled, which thus became depopulated
and uncultivated. See chapter Ixiii. of The Voyages and Adventures of
Ferdinand Mendez Pinto, a Portugal; During his travels for the space
of one-and-twenty years in the Kingdoms of Ethiopia, China, . . Pegu
. . London 1663, wdiich is entitled That which the King of 'Ris.xns.s. did
after his arrival at the city of Pegu, together with his besieging (jfSavady.
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