[The conversation continues after dinner]

[Excerpt from Letter VI, from Mangalor, December 9, 1623:]

[167] Both before and after, and whilst I was eating, I had much discourse with the King, who entertain'd me sitting there above two long hours; but not remembering it all, I shall only set down some of the most remarkable particulars. He ask'd me concerning our Countries, all the Christian Princes, with the other Moors and Pagan Princes whom I had seen; concerning the power and Armies of each, and their Grandeur in comparison of others. On which occasion I told him, that amongst us Christians the prime Prince was the Pope my Lord, the Head of the Church, and the High-Priest, to whom all others gave Obedience; the next, was the Emperour, in dignity the first of Soldiers, or secular Princes; that the first Nation was France, and that for Territory and Riches, Spain had most of all; with many other circumstances too long to be rehearsed.

Which discourse led me to tell him, as I did, that the King of Portugal, as they speak [=call him], that is, the King of Spain, so much esteem'd in India, pay'd Tribute to our Lord the Pope for the Kingdom of Naples, which he held of his Holiness in homage; for which he had a great conceit [=admiration] of the Pope. Amongst the Moorish Princes, I said concerning the Moghol, whom he much cryed up [=extolled] to me, that we held him indeed for the richest in treasure, but otherwise had greater esteem of the Turk and the Persian; because though the Moghol hath not [?] an infinite number of people, and, without doubt, more than others, yet they were not people fit for war; and that Sciah [=Shah Abbas], amongst the rest, did not value him at all, as manifestly appear'd in the late war.

Of Sciah Abbas, the King profess'd to account him a great Prince, a great Soldier, and a great Captain; and I related to him, how I had been for a great while together very familiar with him, and that he had done me many favours, having me with him in divers [=various] notable occasions: whereto he answer'd, that he did not doubt it, and that, being such a person as I was, there was no Prince but would highly favour me. He ask'd me also concerning the commodities of our Countries, and of those which are brought from thence into these Oriental parts; and (being that in India they are accustom'd to the Portugals, who, how great Personages soever they be, are all Merchants, nor is it any disparagement amongst them), he ask'd me, whether I had brought from my Country any thing to bargain with-all, either Pearls or Jewels, for I knew very good ones came from thence?

I answer'd him, that in my Country the Nobles of my rank never practis'd [168] Merchandize, but only convers'd [=dealt] with Arms or Books, and that I addicted myself to the latter, and meddled not with the former. He ask'd me, how I was supply'd with Money for my Travels, in so remote Countries? I answer'd, that I had brought some along with me, and more was sent me from time to time by my Agents, either in Bills or in ready Money, according as was most expedient in reference to the diversity of places. He asked me, whether I had either a Father or a Mother, Brothers or Sisters, Wife or Children, remaining by that Wife, who, I said, was pass'd to a better life? I answer'd, that I had not; whereupon he said, it was no wonder then that I pleas'd my self in wandering thus about the World, being so alone and destitude of all Kindred. And indeed the King did not ill infer; for had any of my dearest Relations been living, as they are not, perhaps I should not have gone from home, nor even seen Manel or Olaza; but since 'tis God's Will to have it so, I must have patience.

The King told me, that if I could procure a good Horse out of my Country, he would pay very well for it, for the Indians have none good of their own breed; and the good they have, are brought to them either from Arabia or Persia, and the Portugals make a Trade of carrying them thither to sell, even the greatest Persons, as Governors of places, and Captains General, not disdaining to do the same. I standing upon the point of my Italian Nobility, which allows not such things, answer'd the King, that to sell Horses was the Office of Merchants, not my profession; that I might present some good one to his Highness, there being in my Country very good ones, and would gladly do it, if it were possible. The King was much pleas'd with this Answer of mine, and said to his Men, that I spoke like a right Gentleman, plainly and truly; and did not, like many, who promise and say they will do many things, which afterwards they perform not, nor are able to do.

He ask'd me concerning *Saffron*, which is much esteemed among them; they use it mix'd with cinders to paint their fore-head withall, as also for Perfumes, for Meats [=foods], and for a thousand other uses. I answer'd, that I might be able to serve his Highness, that it was a thing that might be transported; and that in my Country, there was enough, and that, if it pleas'd God I arrived there alive, I would send him a Present of it, with other fine things of my Country, which perhaps would be acceptable to him. And indeed, if I arrive in Italy, I intend to make many Complements, with this and divers other Princes, whom I know in these parts; for by what I have seen, I may get my self a great deal of Honour amongst them with no great charge.

Every now and then, the King would talk with his Servants, and all was in commendation of me and my discreet speaking, and especially of my white complexion, which they much admired, although in Italy I was never counted one of the fair, and after so many Travels, and so many sufferings both of Body and Mind, I am so changed that I [169] can scarce acknowledge my self as Italian any longer. He prayed me once with much earnestness and courtesy (out of a juvenile curiosity) to unbrace one of my sleeves a little and my breast, that he might see whether my body were correspondent to my face. I laughed, and, to please him, did so.

When they saw that I was whiter under my clothes (where the Air and Sun had not so much injured me) than in the face, they all remained astonished, and began to cry out again that I was a Deuru, that I was a Hero, a god, and that blessed was the hour when I entered into their House (I took my self to be Hercules, lodged in the country of Evander), and the King being much satisfied with my courtesy, said, that he knew me to be a Noble Man by my civil compliance with his demands; that if I had been some coarse person, I would not have done so, but perhaps have taken [it] ill, and been offended with those their curious Questions.

As for the Ceremonies of eating, I must not omit, that after he saw that I had done eating, notwithstanding his many instances [=requests] to me to eat more, he was contented that I should make an end; and because most of the meat remained untouch'd, and it was not lawful for them to touch it or keep it in the House, they caused my Christian Servant to come in and carry it all away (that he might eat it); which he did in the napkin which I had used before: for tossing it away, in regard of the discourtesy it would be to me, they judged not convenient. At length when I rose up from my seat and took leave of the King, they caused my said Servant to strew a little Cow-dung (which they had got ready for the purpose), upon the place where I had sat, which, according to their Religion, was to be purified.

In the mean time as I was taking leave of the King, he caused to be presented to me (for they were ready prepared in the Chamber), and delivered to my Servants to carry home, four Lagne (so they call in India, especially the Portugals, the Indian Nuts [=*coconuts*] before they be ripe, when instead of Pulp they contain a sweet refreshing water, which is drunk for delight; and if the Pulp (for of this water it is made) be begun to be congealed, yet that little is very tender, and is eaten with much delight, and is accounted cooling; whereas when it is hard and fully congealed, the Nut remaining without water within, and in the inner part somewhat empty, that matter of the Nut which is used more for sauce than to eat alone, is, in my opinion, hot, and not of so good taste, as before when it was more tender).

Of these Lagne he caus'd four to be given me, besides I know not how many great bunches of Moul, or Indian Figs, which, though a small matter, are nevertheless the delights of this Country; wherefore as such I received them, and thanking the King for them (who although thank'd me much for my visit, testifying several times that he had had very great contentment in seeing me), at length taking my leave, I departed about an hour of little more before night.

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