[Did the Queen build a shrine to the Devil?]

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

[170] I intended to have visited the Queen also the same time [=occasion], but I understood she was gone abroad, whilst I was with her Son, to the above-mention'd place of her Works. Wherefore being desirous to make but little stay in Manel, both that I might dispatch [=depart] as soon as possible, and withall not shew any dis-esteem of the Queen by visiting her, not only after her Son, but also on a different day, I resolv'd to go and find her where she was, although it were late; being also persuaded so to do by the Brachman to whom I gave my Sword when I went to eat, and who sometimes waited upon the Queen; and the rather, because they told me she was little at home, but rising at break of day, went forthwith to her Works, and there stayed till dinner; and as soon as dinner was done, return'd thither again, and remain'd there till night.

By which action, I observ'd something in her of the spirit of Sciah Abbas King of Persia, and concluded it no wonder that she hath always shew'd her self like him, that is, active and vigorous in actions of war and weighty affairs. Moreover, they said that at night she was employ'd a good while in giving Audience, and doing Justice to her Subjects: so that it was better to go and speak to her there in the field while she was viewing her Workmen, than in the house.

Accordingly I went, and, drawing near her, saw her standing in the field, with a few Servants about her, clad as the other time, and talking to the Labourers that were digging the Trenches. When she saw us, she sent to know wherefore I came, whether it were about any business? And the Messenger being answer'd that it was only to visit her, brought me word again that it was late and time to go home; and therefore I should do so, and when she came home she would send for me. I did as she commanded, and return'd to my house, expecting to be call'd when she thought fit; but she call'd not for me this night, the cause whereof I attributed to her returning very late home, as I understood she did.

December the sixth, I understood the Queen was gone abroad very early to her Works before I was up, without sending for me. Wherefore desiring to dispatch [=depart], I sent the Brachman my Interpreter to her, to remember [=remind] her, that I desir'd to do her Reverence, having come into her Country only for that purpose, and to know when she pleas'd the time should be: The Brachman did the Message, and she answer'd, that I should not wonder at this delay, being she was employ'd all the day at those works; but however, she would send for me when she came home. She ask'd the Brachman many questions concerning me; and because some of her people extolled me much, and particular, for Liberality, saying, that I had given so much for a House, so much for Hens, so much for other things; She wondering thereat, said, Do we here toil and moil so much for a fano (which is a small piece of Money) and does he spend in this manner? The Brachman returned with this answer, and I waited [171] all this day for the Queen's sending, but in vain.

In the mean while, not to lose time, I went to see a Temple at the end of the Town, standing on a high place, and ascended to by some few ill-favour'd stairs; they told me it was dedicated to Naraina, yet very ill built, like the rest of the Edifices, being covered with Palm-leaves for the roof; and, in short, such as suited with such a Town.

Then descending down the street, which leads to the neighbouring River, I saw likewise upon another Hill a little square Chapel, which instead of walls was inclosed with pales of wood, and cover'd with a roof. My Interpreter told me, it was built by this Queen, and that there was in it an Idol dedicated to the Devil, to whom out of their fear of him, that he may do them no evil, these wretched people do reverence; I hearing of a thing so strange, though not new to my ears, said, I would go see it, that I might affirm with truth I had with my own eyes seen the Devil worship'd.

The Brachman, my Interpreter, dissuaded me as much as he could, alleging that many Devils dwelt in that place, and might do me some mischief. I told him, that I was not afraid of the Devil, who had no power over me, that himself needed to fear him as little as I; and therefore I desired him to go along with me cheerfully [=without fear]. When he saw me resolute, he accompanied me to the foot of the Hill, and shew'd me the way; but it was not possible for me to get him further: he remained at a distance, and said he would by no means approach near that place, for he was afraid of the Devil.

Wherefore I went forward alone, and said, If that Caitif [=Coward] the Devil could do any thing, let him hurt me: for I was his Enemy, and did not value him; and that if he did not, it was a sign he had no power. Speaking thus, and invoking the Name of Jesus (at which Heaven, Earth, and Hell ought to bow the knee), I mounted up the Hill, and being come to the Chapel, and finding no body there, I opened the door and went in.

I saw the Idol standing in the middle upon the plain ground, made of white unpolish'd stone, exceeding a human stature, and not of that shape, as we paint the Devil, but like a handsome Young Man, with a high round Diadem upon his Head after their fashion. From each Arm issued two Hands, one of which was stretch'd out, the other bended to the body. In the anterior right Hand, he had a kind of weapon, which, I believe, was one of those Indian Poniards [=daggers] of this form [a drawing here shows a narrow V-shaped pointed blade], of which I keep one by me: In the Interior left Hand he had a round thing, which I know not what it was, and in the other two Hands, I cannot tell what.

Between the Legs was another Statue of a naked Man with a long beard, and his Hands upon the ground, as if he had been going upon them like Animals; and upon this image the Devil seem'd to ride. On the right Hand [=side] of the Idol was a great trunk of a Tree, dead but adhering to the root, low, and seeming to be the remains of a great Tree that had grown there. I imagine that this Tree was the habitation of [172] the Devils, who are wont to be in this place, and to do much mischief; to remedy which the Queen founded this Chapel here, and dedicated this Idol to Erimor (which they say is the name of a great Devil, King of many thousands of Devils), who dwelt here: The same was afterwards confirm'd to me by others of the Country, all counselling that it was Euto, i.e., the Devil; for so they term him in their Language.

When I had seen all, and spit several times in the Idol's face, I came away and return'd home, upbraiding the Brachman with his Cowardice, and telling him that he might see whether my Religion were good or no; since so powerful and fear'd a Devil could not hurt me when I went to his very house, and did him such injuries: Whereunto the Brachman knew not what to answer.

Concerning Idols, they told me, at Manel, that the Queen of Olaza and all her Family, as 'twere upon an Hereditary Account, ador'd and held for her principal God, an Idol called Putia Somnata, which they said was the same with Mahadeu, and which they delineated also of a round figure, like the little pillar of a Land-mark, circular at the top after this manner [a drawing here shows the shape of a stylized lingam], as I have else-where noted that they portray Mahadeu in Cambaia, and the Sun in other places....

At night, having waited all the day, and not hearing of the Queen's sending for me, as she had promis'd, I thought not good to importune her further, but imagin'd she was not willing to be visited more by me. Wherefore I gave order for a Boat to carry me back to Mangalor the next day. Of the Queen's not suffering her self to be visited more by me, certain Men of the Country who convers'd with me, gave sundry Reasons: Some said, the Queen imagin'd I would have given her some Present, as indeed I should, which would require a requital; but, perhaps, she had nothing fit to requite me with in these wretched places, or was loath to give; So that to avoid the shame, she thought best to decline the visit.

Others said, there was no other decent place to give Audience in, but that where her Son was; and for her to come thither, did not shew well; as neither to send for me into some other unhandsome place, nor yet to give me Audience in the Street, when it [172] was no unexpected meeting but design'd, for which reason she avoided speaking with me.

The Brachman, not my Interpreter, but the other who held my Sword, had a more extravagant, and (in my opinion) impertinent conceit, to wit, that there was spread such a Fame of my good presence, fairness, and handsome manner of conversation, that the Queen would not speak with me, for fear she should become enamor'd of me, and be guilty of some unbecoming action, at which I heartily laugh'd. 'Twas more probable, that she intended to avoid giving people occasion to talk of her, for convening privately with a stranger that was of such Reputation amongst them.

But let the Cause be what it will, I perceiv'd she declin'd my visit, and therefore caus'd a Boat to be provided, which (there being no other) was not row'd with Oars, but guided by two Men with Poles of Indian Cane or Bambu, which serv'd well enough for that shallow River.

The next day, December the eighth [1623], a little before Noon, without having seen the Queen or any other, I departed from Manel. In a place somewhat lower, on the left bank of the River, where the Queen receives a Toll of the Wares that pass by (which for the most part are only Rice, which is carried out, and brought into, her Country), I stay'd a while to dine. Then continuing my way, I arriv'd very late at Mangalor, where the Shops being shut up, and nothing to be got, I was fain to go supperless to bed. Occasion being offer'd for sending this Letter to Goa, whence the Fleet will depart next January, I would not omit it; so that where-ever I may happen to reside, the Letter may at least arrive safe to you, whose Hands I kiss with my old Affection.

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