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

(Westminster, Eng. :  Constable,  1891.)



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charms to defend themselves against the eclipse ; some
kept themselves closely shut up, and excluded all light
either in carefully-barred apartments or in cellars; while
thousands flocked to their respective churches; some
apprehending and dreading a malign and dangerous in¬
fluence ; others believing that the last day was at hand,
and that the eclipse was about to shake the founda¬
tions of the world. Such were the absurd notions en¬
tertained by our countrymen, notwithstanding the
writings of Gassendi} Roberval,^ and other celebrated
astronomers and philosophers, which clearly demonstrated
that the eclipse was only similar to many others which
had been productive of no mischief; that this obscuration
of the sun was known and predicted, and was without any
other peculiarity than what might be found in the reveries
of ignorant or designing astrologers.

The eclipse of 1666 is also indelibly imprinted on my
memory by the ridiculous errors and strange superstitions
of the Indians. At the time fixed for its appearance I took
my station on the terrace of my house, situated on the
banks of the Gemna, when I saw both shores of the river,
for nearly a league in length, covered with Gentiles or
idolaters, who stood in the water up to the waist, their
eyes riveted to the skies, watching the commencement of
the eclipse, in order to plunge and wash themselves at the
very instant. The little boys and girls were quite naked;
the men had nothing but a scarf round their middle, and
the married women and girls of six or seven years of age

^ For some account of Pierre Gassendi (1592-1655), the European
Agah, ^Friendly Master,' of Bernier, see Chronicle of Events, etc.,
under date 24th October 1655.

^ Gilles Personne de Roberval (1602-1675), the great French
mathematician. Appointed to the chair of Philosophy in the Gervais
College in 1631, and afterwards to the chair of Mathematics in the
College of France : an appointment which he held until his death,
although a condition of tenure of that Professorship was that the
holder should propose questions for solution and resign in favour of
any one who solved them better than himself
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