Volume 7, Chapter 6, Section 15 -- Of the City of Siam.
Siam was the imperial seat of the kingdom of that name and a great city, till the year 1567, when it was taken by the king of Pegu, who came by land with a prodigious army of 1,400,000 men, marching for four months, and besieged Siam for twenty-two mouths, during which he lost a vast number of men, and at last won the city. I happened to be in the city of Pegu about six months after his departure on this expedition, and saw the governors left by him in the command of Pegu send off 500,000 men, to supply the places of those who were slain in this siege. Yet after all he would not have won the place unless for treachery, in consequence of which one of the gates was left open, through which he forced his way with great trouble into the city. When the king of Siam found that he was betrayed and that his enemy had gained possession of the city, he poisoned himself. His wives and children, and all his nobles that were not slain during the siege, were carried captives to Pegu. I was there at the return of the king in triumph from this conquest, and his entry into Pegu was a goodly sight, especially the vast number of elephants laden with gold, silver, and jewels, and carrying the noblemen and women who were made captives at Siam.
To return to my voyage. I departed from Malacca in a great ship bound for St. Thome on the coast of Coromandel, and as at that time the captain of Malacca had intelligence that the king of Acheen meant to come against Malacca with a great fleet and army, he refused to allow any ships to depart. On this account we departed from Malacca under [[cover of]] night without having made any provision of water; and being upwards of 400 persons on board, we proposed to have gone to a certain island for water, but by contrary winds we were unable to accomplish this, and were driven about by the tempests for forty-two days, the mountains of Zerzerline near the kingdom of Orissa, 500 miles beyond St. Thome, being the first land we got sight of. So we came to Orissa with many sick, and had lost a great number for want of water. The sick generally died in four days' illness. For the space of a year after, my throat continued sore and hoarse, and I could never satisfy my insatiable thirst. I judged the reason of this hoarseness to be from the continual use of sippets dipped in vinegar and oil, on which I sustained my life for many days. We had no scarcity of bread or wine; but the wines of that country are so hot that they cannot be drank without water, or they produce death. When we began to want water, I saw certain Moors who were officers in the ship who sold a small dish of water for a ducat, and I have afterwards seen a bar of pepper, which is two quintals and a half, offered for a small measure, and it could not be had even at that price. I verily believe I must have died, together with my slave, whom I had bought at a high price, had I not sold him for half his value, that I might save his drink to supply my own urgent wants, and save my own life.
Volume 7, Chapter 6, Section 16 -- Of the Kingdom of Orissa and the River Ganges.
This was a fair and well regulated kingdom, through which a man might have travelled with gold in his hand without danger, so long as it was governed by its native sovereign who was a Gentile, and resided in the city of Catecha six days journey inland. This king loved strangers, especially merchants who traded in his dominions, insomuch that he took no customs from them, neither did he vex them with any grievous impositions, only that each ship that came thither paid some small affair in proportion to her tonnage. Owing to this good treatment twenty-five ships, great and small, used to lade yearly in the port of Orissa, mostly with rice and with different kinds of white cotton cloths, oil of zerzerline or verzino which is made from a seed, and answers well for eating or frying fish, lac, long pepper, ginger, dry and candied mirabolans; and great store of cloth made from a kind of silk which grows on trees requiring no labour or cultivation, as when the bole or round pod is grown to the size of an orange, all they have to do is to gather it. About sixteen years before this, the Pagan king of Orissa was defeated and slain and his kingdom conquered, by the king of Patane, who was also king of the greatest part of Bengal. After the conquest of Orissa, this king imposed a duty of 20 per centum on all trade, as had been formerly paid in his other dominions. But this king did not enjoy his acquisitions long, being soon conquered by another tyrant, who was the great Mogul of Delhi, Agra, and Cambaia, against whom the king of Patane made very little resistance.
Departing from Orissa I went to the harbour of Piqueno in Bengal, 170 miles to the east from Orissa. We went in the first place along the coast for 54 miles when we entered the river Ganges. From the mouth of this river to a place called Satagan, where the merchants assemble with their commodities, are 100 miles, to which place they row up the river along with the flood tide in eighteen hours. This river ebbs and flows as it does in the Thames, and when the ebb begins, although their barks are light and propelled with oars like foists, they cannot row against the ebb tide, but must make fast to one of the banks of the river and wait for next flood. These boats are called bazaras and patuas, and row as well as a galliot or any vessel I have ever seen. At the distance of a good tide rowing before reaching Satagan we come to a place called Buttor, which ships do not go beyond, as the river is very shallow upwards. At Buttore a village is constructed every year, in which all the houses and shops are made of straw, and have every necessary convenience for the use of the merchants. This village continues as long as the ships remain there; but when they depart for the Indies, every man goes to his plot of houses and sets them on fire. This circumstance seemed very strange to me; for as I passed up the river to Satagan, I saw this village standing, having a great multitude of people with many ships and bazars; and at my return along with the captain of the last ship, for whom I tarried, I was amazed to see no remains of the village except the appearance of the burnt houses, all having been razed and burnt.
Small ships go up to Satagan where they load and unload their cargoes. In this port of Satagan twenty-five or thirty ships great and small are loaded yearly with rice, cotton cloths of various kinds, lac, great quantities of sugar, dried and preserved mirabolans, long pepper, oil of Verzino, and many other kinds of merchandise. The city of Satagan is tolerably handsome as a city of the Moors, abounding in every thing, and belonged formerly to the king of Patane or Patna, but is now subject to the great Mogul. I was in this kingdom four months, where many merchants bought or hired boats for their convenience and great advantage, as there is a fair every day in one town or city of the country. I also hired a bark and went up and down the river in the prosecution of my business, in the course of which I saw many strange things.
The kingdom of Bengal has been long under the power of the Mahomedans, yet there are many Gentile inhabitants. Wherever I speak of Gentiles I am to be understood as signifying idolaters, and by Moors I mean the followers of Mahomet. The inhabitants of the inland country do greatly worship the river Ganges; for if any one is sick, he is brought from the country to the banks of the river, where they build for him a cottage of straw, and every day they bathe him in the river. Thus many die at the side of the Ganges, and after their death they make a heap of boughs and sticks on which they lay the dead body and then set the pile on fire. When the dead body is half roasted, it is taken from the fire, and having an empty jar tied about its neck is thrown into the river. I saw this done every night for two months as I passed up and down the river in my way to the fairs to purchase commodities from the merchants. On account of this practice the Portuguese do not drink the water of the Ganges, although it appears to the eye much better and clearer than that of the Nile.
"Of Satagan, Buttor, and Piqueno, in the kingdom of Bengal, no notices are to be found in the best modern maps of that country, so that we can only approximate their situation by guess. Setting out from what the author calls the port of Orissa, which has already been conjectured to be Balasore, the author coasted to the river Ganges, at the distance of 54 miles. This necessarily implies the western branch of the Ganges, or Hoogly river, on which the English Indian capital, Calcutta, now stands. Satagan is said to have been 100 miles up the river, which would carry us up almost to the city of Sautipoor, which may possibly have been Satagan. The two first syllables of the name are almost exactly the same, and the final syllable in Sautipoor is a Persian word signifying town, which may have been gan in some other dialect. The entire distance from Balasore, or the port of Orissa, to Piqueno is stated at 170 miles, of which 154 have been already accounted for, so that Piqueno must have been only about 16 miles above Satagan, and upon the Ganges."--ED.
[Footnote 161: Cuttack, at the head of the Delta of the Mahamuddy or Gongah river, in lat. 20° 32' N. lon. 86° 9' E. is probably here meant, It is only about 45 miles from the sea, but might have been six days journey from the port where the author took shelter, which probably was Balasore.--E.]
[Footnote 162: Probably so called from residing at Patna, called Patane in the text.--E.]
[Footnote 163: These observations, distinguished by inverted commas, are placed in the text, as too long for a note.--E.]
Volume 7, Chapter 6, Section 17 -- Of Tanasserim and other Places.
In continuation of my peregrinations, I sailed from the port of Piqueno to Cochin, from whence I went to Malacca, and afterwards to Pegu, being 800 miles distant. That voyage is ordinarily performed in twenty-five or thirty days; but we were four months on the way, and at the end of three months we were destitute of provisions. The pilot alleged that, according to the latitude by his observation, we could not be far from Tanassery, or Tanasserim, a city in the kingdom of Pegu. In this he was mistaken, as we found ourselves in the middle of many islands and uninhabited rocks, yet some Portuguese who were on board affirmed that they knew the land, and could even point out where the city of Tanasserim stood. This city belongs of right to Siam, and is situated on the side of a great river, which comes from the kingdom of Siam. At the month of this river there is a village called Mirgim, Merghi, or Morgui, at which some ships load every year with Verzino, Nypa, and Benzoin, with a few cloves, nutmegs, and mace, that come from Siam; but the principal merchandise are Verzino and Nypa. This last is an excellent wine, which is made from the flower of a tree called Nyper. They distil the liquor prepared from the Nyper, and make therewith an excellent drink, as clear as crystal, which is pleasant to the taste, and still better to the stomach, as it has most excellent virtues, insomuch that if a person were rotten with the lues, and drinks abundantly of this wine, he shall be made whole, as I have seen proved. For when I was in Cochin, the nose of a friend of mine began to drop off with that disease, on which he was advised by the physicians to go to Tanasserim at the season of the new wines, and to drink the Nyper wine day and night, as much as he was able. He was ordered to use it before being distilled, when it is most delicate; for after distillation it become much stronger, and is apt to produce drunkenness. He went accordingly, and did as he was directed, and I have seen him since perfectly sound and well-coloured. It is very cheap in Pegu, where a great quantity is made every year; but being in great repute in the Indies, it is dear when carried to a distance.
I now return to my unfortunate voyage, where we were among the uninhabited rocks and islands far from Tanasserim, and in great straits for victuals. From what was said by the pilot and two Portuguese, that we were directly opposite the harbour of Tanasserim, we determined to go thither in out boat to bring provisions, leaving orders to the ship to await our return. Accordingly, twenty-eight of us went into the boat, and left the ship about noon one day, expecting to get into the harbour before night; but, after rowing all that day and the next night, and all the ensuing day, we could find no harbour nor any fit place to land; for, trusting to the ignorant counsel of the pilot and the two Portuguese, we had overshot the harbour and left it behind us. In this way we twenty-eight unfortunate persons in the boat lost both our ship and the inhabited land, and were reduced to the utmost extremity, having no victuals along with us. By the good providence of God, one of the mariners in the boat had brought a small quantity of rice along with him, intending to barter it for some other thing, though the whole was so little that three or four men might have eaten it all at one meal. I took charge of this small store, engaging, with God's blessing, that it should serve to keep us all in life, till it might please God to send us to some inhabited place, and when I slept I secured it in my bosom, that I might not be robbed of my precious deposit. We were nine days rowing along the coast, finding nothing but an uninhabited country and desert islands, where even grass would have been esteemed a luxury in our miserable state. We found indeed some leaves of trees, but so hard that we could not chew them. We had wood and water enough, and could only row along with the flood tide, as when it ebbed we had to make fast our boat to one of the desert islands. On one of these days, it pleased God that we discovered a nest or hole, in which were 144 tortoise eggs, which proved a wonderful help to us, as they were as large as hen's eggs, covered only by a tender skin, instead of a shell. Every day we boiled a kettle full of these eggs, mixing a handful of rice among the broth. At the end of nine days, it pleased God that we discovered some fishermen in small barks, employed in catching fish. We rowed immediately towards them with much delight and thankfulness, for never were men more glad than we, being so much reduced by famine that we could hardly stand on our legs; yet, according to the allotment we had made of our rice, we still had as much as would have served four days. The first village we came to was in the gulf of Tavay, on the coast of Tanasserim, in the dominions of Pegu, where we found plenty of provisions; yet for two or three days after our arrival none of us could eat much, and most of us were at the point of death. From Tavay to Martaban, in the kingdom of Pegu, the distance is 72 miles. We loaded our boat at Tavay with provisions sufficient for six months, and then went in our boat to the city and port of Martaban, in the kingdom of Pegu, and arrived there in a short time. But not finding our ship there as we hoped, we dispatched two barks in search of her. They found her in great calamity at an anchor, with a contrary wind, which was exceedingly unfortunate for the people, especially as they had been a whole month without a boat, which prevented them from making any provision of wood and water. The ship, however, arrived safe, by the blessing of God, in the harbour of Martaban.
[Footnote 164: On the coast of Tanasserim, in lat. 13° N. is an island called Tavay, so that the gulf of Tavay in the text was probably in that neighbourhood. Martaban is in lat. 16° 40' N. So that the difference of latitude is 8° 40', and the distance cannot be less than 250 miles.--E.]
Volume 7, Chapter 6, Section 18 -- Of Martaban and the Kingdom of Pegu.
On our arrival at Martaban we found about ninety Portuguese there, including merchants and lower people, who had fallen at variance with the governor of the city, because certain vagabond Portuguese had slain five falchines, or porters, belonging to the king of Pegu. According to the custom of that country, when the king of Pegu happens to be at a distance from his capital, a caravan, or company of falchines, is dispatched every fifteen days, each of them having a basket on his head full of fruit or some other delicacy, or clean clothes for the king's use. It accordingly happened, about a month after the king of Pegu had gone against Siam, with 1,400,000 men, that one of these caravans stopt at Martaban, to rest for the night. On this occasion a quarrel ensued between them and some Portuguese, which ended in blows, and the Portuguese being worsted, returned upon the falchines in the night, while they were asleep, and cut off five of their heads. There is a law in Pegu, that whosoever sheds the blood of a man, shall pay the price of blood according to the rank of the person slain: but as these falchines were the servants of the king, the governor of Martaban durst not do any thing in the matter without the king's orders. The king was accordingly informed of the affair, and gave orders that the malefactors should be kept in custody till his return, when he would duly administer justice, but the captain of the Portuguese refused to deliver up these men to the governor, and even armed himself and the other Portuguese, marching every day about the city, with drums beating and displayed colours, as in despite of the governor, who was unable to enforce his authority, as the city was almost empty of men, all who were fit for war having gone with the vast army against Siam.
We arrived at Martaban in the midst of this difference, and I thought it a very strange thing to see the Portuguese behave themselves with such insolence in the city of a sovereign prince. Being very doubtful of the consequences, I did not think proper to land my goods, which I considered in greater safety on board ship than on shore. Most part of the goods on board belonged to the owner, who was at Malacca; but there were several merchants in the ship who had goods, though none of them had to any great value, and all of them declared they would not land any of their goods unless I landed mine; yet they afterwards neglected my advice and example, and landed their goods, all of which were accordingly lost. The governor and intendant of the custom-house sent for me, and demanded to know why I did not land my goods, and pay the duties like the rest; on which I said that I was a stranger, only new to the country, and observing so much disorder among the Portuguese, I was afraid to lose my goods, which I was determined not to bring on shore, unless the governor would promise me in the king's name that no harm should come to me or my goods, whatever might happen to the Portuguese, with whom I had taken no part in the late tumult. As what I said seemed reasonable, the governor sent for the Bargits, who are the councillors of the city, who engaged, in the name of the king, that neither I nor my goods should meet with any injury, and of which they made a notarial entry or memorandum. I then sent for my goods, and paid the customs, which is ten per centum of the value at that port; and for my greater security I hired a house for myself and my goods, directly facing the house of the governor.
In the sequel, the captain of the Portuguese and all the merchants of that nation, were driven out of the city, in which I remained, along with twenty-one poor men, who were officers in the ship I came in from Malacca. The Gentiles had determined on being revenged of the Portuguese for their insolence, but had delayed till all the goods were landed from our ship; and the very next night there arrived four thousand soldiers from Pegu, with some war elephants. Before these made any stir in the city, the governor issued orders to all the Portuguese, in case of hearing any noise or clamour in the city, not to stir from their houses on pain of death. About four hours after sunset, I heard a prodigious noise and tumult of men and elephants, who were bursting open the doors of the Portuguese warehouses, and overturning their houses of wood and straw, in which tumult some of the Portuguese were wounded, and one of them slain. Many of those who had before boasted of their courage, now fled on board some small vessels in the harbour, some of them fleeing naked from their beds. That night the Peguers carried all the goods belonging to the Portuguese from the suburbs into the city, and many of the Portuguese were likewise arrested. After this, the Portuguese who had fled to the ships resumed courage, and, landing in a body, set fire to the houses in the suburbs, and as these were entirely composed of boards covered with straw, and the wind blew fresh at the time, the entire suburbs were speedily consumed, and half of the city had like to have been destroyed. After this exploit, the Portuguese had no hopes of recovering any part of their goods, which might amount to the value of 16,000 ducats, all of which they might assuredly have got back if they had not set the town on fire.
Understanding that the late seizure of their goods had been done by the sole authority of the governor of Martaban, without authority from the king of Pegu, they were sensible of the folly of their proceedings in setting the town on fire; yet next morning they began to discharge their cannon against the town, and continued their cannonade for four days, yet all in vain, as their balls were intercepted by the top of a small hill or rising ground which intervened, and did no harm to the city. At this time the governor arrested the twenty-one Portuguese who were in the city, and sent them to a place four miles up the country, where they were detained till such time as the other Portuguese departed with their ships, after which they were allowed to go where they pleased, having no farther harm done them. During all these turmoils I remained quietly in my house, under the protection of a strong guard appointed by the governor, to prevent any one from doing harm to me or my goods. In this manner he effectually performed the promise he had made me in the king's name; but he would on no account permit me to depart till the king returned from Siam to Pegu, which was greatly to my hindrance, as I remained twenty-one months under sequestration, during all which time I could neither buy nor sell any kind of goods whatever. Those commodities which I had brought with me were pepper, sandal wood, and porcelain of China. At length, when the king came back to Pegu, I made my supplication to him, and had liberty to go when and where I pleased. Accordingly, I immediately departed from Martaban for Pegu, the capital city of the kingdom of that name, being a voyage by sea of three or four days. We may likewise go by land between these two places, but it is much better and cheaper for anyone that has goods to transport, as I had, to go by sea.
In this short voyage we meet with the Macareo, or bore of the sea, which is one of the most marvellous of the works of nature, and one of these hardest to be believed if not seen. This consists in the prodigious increase and diminution of the water of the sea all at one push or instant, and the horrible noise and earthquake which this Macareo produces when it makes its approach. We went from Martaban in barks like our pilot boats, taking the flood tide along with us, and they went with the most astonishing rapidity, as swift as an arrow from a bow as long as the flow lasts. Whenever the water is at the highest, these barks are carried out of the mid-channel to one or other bank of the river, where they anchor out of the way of the stream of the ebb, remaining dry at low water; and when the ebb is completely run out, then are the barks left on high above the water in the mid-channel, as far as the top of a house is from the foundation. The reason of thus anchoring so far from the mid-stream or channel is, that when the first of the flood, Macareo or bore, comes in, any ship or vessel riding in the fair way or mid-channel would surely be overthrown and destroyed. And even with this precaution of anchoring so far above the channel, so that the bore has lost much of its force before rising so high as to float them, yet they always moor with their bows to the stream, which still is often so powerful as to put them in great fear; for if the anchor did not hold good, they would be in the utmost danger of being lost.
When the water begins to increase, it comes on with a prodigious noise as if it were an earthquake. In its first great approach it makes three great waves. The first wave washes over the bark from stem to stem: The second is not so strong; at the third they raise the anchor and resume their voyage up the river, rowing with such swiftness that they seem to fly for the space of six hours, while the flood lasts. In these tides there must be no time lost, for if you arrive not at the proper station before the flood is spent, you must turn back from whence you came, as there is no staying at any place except at these stations, some of which are more dangerous than others, according as they happen to be higher or lower. On returning from Pegu to Martaban they never continue more than half ebb, that they may have it in their power to lay their barks high upon the bank, for the reason already given. I could never learn any reason for the prodigious noise made by the water in this extraordinary rise of the tide. There is another Macareo in the gulf of Cambay, as formerly mentioned, but it is nothing in comparison of this in the river of Pegu.
With the blessing of God we arrived safe at Pegu, which consists of two cities, the old and the new, all the merchants of the country and stranger merchants residing in the old city, in which is far the greatest trade. The city itself is not very large, but it has very great suburbs. The houses are all built of canes, and covered with leaves or straw; but every merchant has one house or magazine, called Godown, built of bricks, in which they secure their most valuable commodities, to save them from fire, which frequently happens to houses built of such combustible materials.
In the new city is the royal palace, in which the king dwells, with all his nobles and officers of state, and attendants. While I was there the building of the new city was completed. It is of considerable size, built perfectly square upon an uniform level, and walled round, having a wet ditch on the outside, filled with crocodiles, but there are no draw-bridges. Each side of the square has five gates, being twenty in all; and there are many places on the walls for sentinels, built of wood, and gilded over with gold. The streets are all perfectly straight, so that from any of the gates you can see clear through to the opposite gate, and they are so broad that 10 or 12 horsemen may ride abreast with ease. The cross streets are all equally broad and straight, and on each side of all the streets close to the houses there is a row of cocoa-nut trees, making a most agreeable shade. The houses are all of wood, covered with a kind of tiles, in the form of cups, very necessary and useful in that country. The palace is in the middle of the city, walled round like a castle, the lodgings within being built of wood, all over gilded, and richly adorned with pinnacles of costly work, covered all over with gold, so that it may truly be called a king's house.
Within the gate is a large handsome court, in which are lodges for the strongest and largest elephants, which are reserved for the king's use, among which are four that are entirely white, a rarity that no other king can boast of; and were the king of Pegu to hear that any other king had white elephants, he would send and demand them as a gift. While I was there two such were brought out of a far distant country, which cost me something for a sight of them, as the merchants were commanded to go to see them, and every one was obliged to give something to the keepers. The brokers gave for every merchant half a ducat, which they call a tansa, and this produced a considerable sum, as there were a great many merchants in the city. After paying the tansa, they may either visit the elephants or not as they please, as after they are put into the king's stalls, every one may see them whenever they will. But before this, every one mast go to see them, such being the royal pleasure. Among his other titles, this king is called King of the White Elephants; and it is reported that if he knew of any other king having any white elephants who would not resign them to him, he would hazard his whole kingdom to conquer them. These white elephants are so highly esteemed that each of them has a house gilded all over, and they are served with extraordinary care and attention in vessels of gold and silver. Besides these white elephants, there is a black one of most extraordinary size, being nine cubits high. It is reported that this king has four thousand war elephants, all of which have teeth. They are accustomed to put upon their uppermost teeth certain sharp spikes of iron, fastened on with rings, because these animals fight with their teeth. He has also great numbers of young elephants, whose teeth are not yet grown.
In this country they have a curious device for hunting or taking elephants, which is erected about two miles from the capital. At that place there is a fine palace gilded all over, within which is a sumptuous court, and all round the outside there are a great number of places for people to stand upon to see the hunting. Near this place is a very large wood or forest, through which a great number of the king's huntsmen ride on the backs of female elephants trained on purpose, each huntsman having five or six of these females, and it is said that their parts are anointed with a certain composition, the smell of which so powerfully attracts the wild males that they cannot leave them, but follow them wheresoever they go. When the huntsmen find any of the wild elephants so entangled, they guide the females towards the palace, which is called a tambell, in which there is a door which opens and shuts by machinery, before which door there is a long straight passage having trees on both sides, so that it is very close and dark. When the wild elephant comes to this avenue, he thinks himself still in the woods. At the end of this avenue there is a large field, and when the hunters have enticed their prey into this field, they immediately send notice to the city, whence come immediately fifty or sixty horsemen, who beset the field all round. Then the females which are bred to this business go directly to the entry of the dark avenue, and when the wild male elephant has entered therein, the horsemen shout aloud and make as much noise as possible to drive the wild elephant forward to the gate of the palace, which is then open, and as soon as he is gone in, the gate is shut without any noise.
The hunters, with the female elephants and the wild one, are all now within the court of the palace, and the females now withdraw one by one from the court, leaving the wild elephant alone, finding himself thus alone and entrapped, he is so madly enraged for two or three hours, that it is wonderful to behold. He weepeth, he flingeth, he runneth, he jostleth, he thrusteth under the galleries where the people stand to look at him, endeavouring all he can to kill some of them, but the posts and timbers are all so strong that he cannot do harm to any one, yet he sometimes breaks his teeth in his rage. At length, wearied with violent exertions, and all over in a sweat, he thrusts his trunk into his mouth, and sucks it full of water from his stomach, which he then blows at the lookers on. When he is seen to be much exhausted, certain people go into the court, having long sharp-pointed canes in their hands, with which they goad him that he may enter into one of the stalls made for the purpose in the court, which are long and narrow, so that he cannot turn when once in. These men must be very wary and agile, for though their canes are long, the elephants would kill them if they were not swift to save themselves. When they have got him into one of the stalls, they let down ropes from a loft above, which they pass under his belly, about his neck, and round his legs, to bind him fast, and leave him there for four or five days without meat or drink. At the end of that time, they loosen all the cords, put one of the females in beside him, giving them meat and drink, and in eight days after he is quite tame and tractable. In my opinion, there is not any animal so intelligent as the elephant, nor of so much capacity and understanding, for he will do every thing that his keeper desires, and seems to lack nothing of human reason except speech.
It is reported that the great military power of the king of Pegu mainly depends on his elephants; as, when he goes to battle, each elephant has a castle set on his back, bound securely with bands under his belly, and in every castle four men are placed, who fight securely with arquebusses, bows and arrows, darts, and pikes, or other missile weapons; and it is alleged that the skin of the elephant is so hard and thick as not to be pierced by the ball of an arquebuss, except under the eyes, on the temples, or in some other tender part of the body. Besides this, the elephants are of great strength, and have a very excellent order in time of battle, as I have seen in their festivals, which they make every year, which is a rare sight worth mention, that among so barbarous a people there should be such goodly discipline as they have in their armies; which are drawn up in distinct and orderly squares, of elephants, horsemen, pikemen, and arquebuseers, the number of which is infinite and beyond reckoning; but their armour and weapons are worthless and weak. Their pikes are very bad, and their swords worse, being like long knives without points; yet their arquebusses are very good, the king having 80,000 men armed with that weapon, and the number is continually increasing. They are ordained to practise daily in shooting at a mark, so that by continual exercise they are wonderfully expert.
The king of Pegu has also great cannon made of very good metal; and, in fine, there is not a king in the world who has more power or strength than he, having twenty-six crowned kings under his command, and he is able to take the field against his enemies with a million and a half of soldiers. The state and splendour of this kingdom, and the provisions necessary for so vast a multitude of soldiers, is a thing incredible, except by those who know the nature and quality of the people and government. I have seen with my own eyes these people, both the commons and soldiers, feed upon all kinds of beasts or animals, however filthy or unclean, everything that hath life serving them for food: Yea, I have even seen them eat scorpions and serpents, and all kinds of herbs, even grass. Hence, if their vast armies can only get enough of water, they can maintain themselves long even in the forests, on roots, flowers, and leaves of trees; but they always carry rice with them in their marches, which is their main support.
The king of Pegu has no naval force; but for extent of dominion, number of people, and treasure of gold and silver, he far exceeds the Grand Turk in power and riches. He has various magazines full of treasure in gold and silver, which is daily increased, and is never diminished. He is also lord of the mines of rubies, sapphires, and spinels. Near the royal palace there is an inestimable treasure, of which he seems to make no account, as it stands open to universal inspection. It is contained in a large court surrounded by a stone wall, in which are two gates that stand continually open. Within this court there are four gilded houses covered with lead, in each of which houses are certain heathen idols of very great value. The first house contains an image of a man of vast size all of gold, having a crown of gold on his head enriched with most rare rubies and sapphires, and round about him are the images of four little children, all likewise of gold. In the second house is the statue of a man in massy silver, which seems to sit on heaps of money. This enormous idol, though sitting, is as lofty as the roof of a house. I measured his feet, which I found exceeded that of my own stature; and the head of this statue bears a crown similar to that of the former golden image. The third house has a brazen image of equal size, having a similar crown on its head. In the fourth house is another statue as large as the others, made of gansa, or mixed metal of copper and lead, of which the current money of the country is composed, and this idol has a crown on its head as rich and splendid as the others. All this valuable treasure is freely seen by all who please to go in and look at it, as the gates are always open, and the keepers do not refuse admission to any one.
Every year the king of Pegu makes a public triumph after the following manner. He rides out on a triumphal car or great waggon, richly gilded all over, and of great height, covered by a splendid canopy, and drawn by sixteen horses, richly caparisoned. Behind the car walk twenty of his nobles or chief officers, each of whom holds the end of a rope, the other end being fastened to the car to keep it upright and prevent it from falling over. The king sits on high in the middle of the car, and on the same are four of his most favoured nobles surrounding him. Before the car the whole army marches in order, and the whole nobles of the kingdom are round about the car; so that it is wonderful to behold so many people and so much riches all in such good order, especially considering how barbarous are the people. The king of Pegu has one principal wife, who lives in a seraglio along with 300 concubines, and he is said to have 90 children. He sits every day in person to hear the suits of his people, yet he nor they never speak together. The king sits up aloft on a high seat or tribunal in a great hall, and lower down sit all his barons round about. Those that demand audience enter into the great court or hall in presence of the king, and sit down on the ground at forty paces from the king, holding their supplications in their hands, written on the leaves of a tree three quarters of a yard long and two fingers broad, on which the letters are written or inscribed by means of a sharp stile or pointed iron. On these occasions there is no respect of persons, all of every degree or quality being equally admitted to audience. All suitors hold up their supplication in writing, and in their hands a present or gift, according to the importance of their affairs. Then come the secretaries, who take the supplications from the petitioners and read them to the king; and if he thinks good to grant the favour or justice which they desire, he commands to have the gifts taken from their hands; but if he considers their request not just or reasonable, he commands them to depart without receiving their presents.
There is no commodity in the Indies worth bringing to Pegu, except sometimes the opium of Cambay, and if any one bring money he is sure to lose by it. The only merchandise for this market is the fine painted calicos of San Thome, of that kind which, on being washed, becomes more lively in its colours. This is so much in request, that a small bale of it will sell for 1000 or even 2000 ducats. Also from San Thome they send great store of cotton yarn, dyed red by means of a root called saia, which colour never washes out. Every year there goes a great ship from San Thome to Pegu laden with a valuable cargo of these commodities. If this ship depart from San Thome by the 6th of September, the voyage is sure to be prosperous; but if they delay sailing till the 12th, it is a great chance if they are not forced to return; for in these parts the winds blow firmly for certain times, so as to sail for Pegu with the wind astern; and if they arrive not and get to anchor before the wind change, they must perforce return back again, as the wind blows three or four months with great force always one way. If they once get to anchor on the coast, they may save their voyage with great labour. There also goes a large ship from Bengal every year, laden with all kinds of fine cotton cloth, and which usually arrives in the river of Pegu when the ship of San Thome is about to depart. The harbour which these two ships go to is called Cosmin. From Malacca there go every year to Martaban, which is a port of Pegu, many ships, both large and small, with pepper, sandal-wood, porcelain of China, camphor, bruneo, and other commodities. The ships that come from the Red Sea frequent the ports of Pegu and Ciriam, bringing woollen cloths, scarlets, velvets, opium, and chequins, by which last they incur loss, yet they necessarily bring them wherewith to make their purchases, and they afterwards make great profit of the commodities which they take back with them, from Pegu. Likewise the ships of the king of Acheen bring pepper to the same ports.
From San Thome or Bengal, out of the sea of Bara (?) to Pegu, the voyage is 300 miles, and they go up the river, with the tide of flood in four days to the city of Cosmin, where they discharge their cargoes, and thither the customers [[=customs officers]] of Pegu come and take notes of all the goods of every one, and of their several marks; after which they transport the goods to Pegu to the royal warehouses, where the customs of all the goods are taken. When the customers have taken charge of the goods, and laden them in barks for conveyance to Pegu, the governor of the city gives licences to the merchants to accompany their goods, when three or four of them club together to hire a bark for their passage to Pegu. Should any one attempt to give in a wrong note or entry of his goods, for the purpose of stealing any custom, he is utterly undone, as the king considers it a most unpardonable offence to attempt depriving him of any part of his customs, and for this reason the goods are all most scrupulously searched, and examined three several times. This search is particularly rigid in regard to diamonds, pearls, and other articles of small bulk and great value, as all things, in Pegu that are not of its own productions pay custom both in or out. But rubies, sapphires, and spinels, being productions of the country, pay no duties. As formerly mentioned respecting other parts of India, all merchants going to Pegu or other places, must carry with them all sorts of household furniture of which they may be in need, as there are no inns or lodging-houses in which they can he accommodated, but every man must hire a house when he comes to a city, for a month or a year, according to the time he means to remain. In Pegu it is customary to hire a house for six months.
From Cosmin to Pegu they go up the river with the flood in six hours; but if the tide of ebb begin it is necessary to fasten the bark to the river side, and to remain there till the next flood. This is a commodious and pleasant passage, as there are many large villages on both sides of the river which might even be called cities, and in which poultry, eggs, pigeons, milk, rice, and other things may be had on very reasonable terms. The country is all level and fertile, and in eight days we get up to Macceo which is twelve miles from. Pegu, and the goods are there landed from the barks, being carried thence to Pegu in carts or wains drawn by oxen. The merchants are conveyed from Macceo to Pegu in close palanquins, called delings or doolies, in each of which one man is well accommodated, having cushions to rest upon, and a secure covering from the sun or rain, so that he may sleep if he will. His four falchines or bearers carry him along at a great rate, running all the way, changing at intervals, two and two at a time. The freight and customs at Pegu may amount to 20, 22, or 23 per centum, according as there may be more or less stolen of the goods on paying the customs. It is necessary therefore for one to be very watchful and to have many friends; for when the goods are examined for the customs in the great hall of the king, many of the Pegu gentlemen go in accompanied by their slaves, and these gentlemen are not ashamed when their slaves rob strangers, whether of cloth or any other thing, and only laugh at it when detected; and though the merchants assist each other to watch the safety of their goods, they cannot look so narrowly but some will steal more or less according to the nature or quality of the goods. Even if fortunate enough to escape being robbed by the slaves, it is impossible to prevent pilfering by the officers of the customs; for as they take the customs in kind, they oftentimes take the best, and do not rate each sort as they ought separately, so that the merchant is often, made to pay much more than he ought. After undergoing this search and deduction of the customs, the merchant causes his goods to be carried home to his house, where he may do with them what he pleases.
In Pegu there are eight brokers licenced by the king, named tareghe, who are bound to sell all the merchandise which comes there at the current prices; and if the merchants are willing to sell their goods at these rates they sell them out of hand, the brokers having two per centum for their trouble, and for which they are bound to make good all debts incurred for the goods sold by them, and often the merchant does not know to whom his goods are sold. The merchants may indeed sell their own goods if they will; but in that case the broker is equally entitled to his two per centum, and the merchant must run his own risk of recovering his money. This however seldom happens, as the wife, children, and slaves of the debtor are all liable in payment. When the agreed time of payment arrives, if the debt is not cleared, the creditor may seize the person of the debtor and carry him home to his house, and if not immediately satisfied, he may take the wife, children, and slaves of the debtor and sell them. The current money through all Pegu is made of ganza, which is a composition of copper and lead, and which every one may stamp at his pleasure, as they pass by weight; yet are they sometimes falsified by putting in too much lead, on which occasions no one will receive them in payment. As there is no other money current, you may purchase gold, silver, rubies, musk, and all other things with this money. Gold and silver, like other commodities, vary in their price, being sometimes cheaper and sometimes dearer. This ganza money is reckoned by byzas, each byza being 100 ganzas, and is worth about half a ducat of our money, more or less according as gold is cheap or dear.
When any one goes to Pegu to buy jewels, he will do well to remain there a whole year; for if he would return by the same ship, he can do very little to purpose in so short a time. Those who come from San Thome usually have their goods customed about Christmas, after which they must sell their goods, giving credit for a month or two, and the ships depart about the beginning of March. The merchants of San Thome generally take payment for their goods in gold and silver, which are always plentiful in Pegu. Eight or ten days before their departure they are satisfied for their goods. They may indeed have rubies in payment, but they make no account of them. Such as propose to winter in the country ought to stipulate in selling their goods for payment in two or three months, and that they are to be paid in so many ganzas, not in gold or silver, as every thing is most advantageously bought and sold by means of this ganza money. It is needful to specify very precisely both the time of payment, and in what weight of ganzas they are to be paid, as an inexperienced person may be much imposed upon both in the weight and fineness of the ganza money; for the weight rises and falls greatly from place to place, and he may be likewise deceived by false ganzas or too much alloyed with lead. For this reason, when any one is to receive payment he ought to have along with him a public weigher of money, engaged a day or two before he commences that business, whom he pays two byzas a month, for which he is bound to make good all your money and to maintain it good, as he receives it and seals the bags with his own seal, and when he has collected any considerable sum he causes it to be delivered to the merchant to whom it belongs. This money is very weighty, as forty byzas make a porter's burden. As in receiving, so in paying money, a public weigher of money must be employed.
The merchandises exported from Pegu are gold, silver, rubies, sapphires, spinels, great quantities of benzoin, long-pepper, lead, lac, rice, wine, and some sugar. There might be large quantities of sugar made in Pegu, as they have great abundance of sugar-canes, but they are given as food to the elephants, and the people consume large quantities of them in their diet. They likewise spend many of these sugar-canes in constructing houses and tents for their idols, which they call varely and we name pagodas. There are many of these idol houses, both large and small, which are ordinarily constructed in a pyramidical form, like little hills, sugar-loaves or bells, some of them being as high as an ordinary steeple. They are very large at the bottom, some being a quarter of a mile in compass. The inside of these temples are all built of bricks laid in clay mortar instead of lime, and filled up with earth, without any form or comeliness from top to bottom; afterwards they are covered with a frame of canes plastered all over with lime to preserve them from the great rains which fall in this country. Also about these varely or idol-houses they consume a prodigious quantity of leaf gold, as all their roofs are gilded over, and sometimes the entire structure is covered from top to bottom; and as they require to be newly gilded every ten years, a prodigious quantity of gold is wasted on this vanity, which occasions gold to be vastly dearer in Pegu than it would be otherwise.
It may be proper to mention, that in buying jewels or precious stones in Pegu, he who has no knowledge or experience is sure to get as good and as cheap articles as the most experienced in the trade. There are four men at Pegu called tareghe or jewel-brokers, who have all the jewels or rubies in their hands; and when any person wants to make a purchase he goes to one of these brokers, and tells him that he wants to lay out so much money on rubies; for these brokers have such prodigious quantities always on hand, that they know not what to do with them, and therefore sell them at a very low price. Then the broker carries the merchant along with him to one of their shops, where he may have what jewels he wants according to the sum of money he is disposed to lay out. According to the custom of the city, when the merchant has bargained for a quantity of jewels, whatever may be the amount of their value, he is allowed to carry them home to his house, where he may consider them for two or three days; and if he have not himself sufficient knowledge or experience in such things, he may always find other merchants who are experienced, with whom he may confer and take counsel, as he is at liberty to shew them to any person be pleases; and if he find that he has not laid out his money to advantage, he may return them back to the person from whom he had them without loss or deduction. It is reckoned so great a shame to the tareghe or jewel-broker to have his jewels returned, that he would rather have a blow on the face than have it believed that he had sold his jewels too dear and have them returned on his hands; for which reason they are sure to give good bargains, especially to those who have no experience, that they may not lose their credit. When such merchants as are experienced in jewels purchase too dear it is their own fault, and is not laid to the charge of the brokers; yet it is good to have knowledge in jewels, as it may sometimes enable one to procure them at a lower price. On the occasions of making these bargains, as there are generally many other merchants present at the bargain, the broker and the purchaser have their hands under a cloth, and by certain signals, made by touching the fingers and nipping the different joints, they know what is bidden, what is asked, and what is settled, without the lookers-on knowing any thing of the matter, although the bargain may be for a thousand or ten thousand ducats. This is an admirable institution, as, if the lookers-on should understand what is going on, it might occasion contention.
[Footnote 165: Perhaps we ought to read in the text camphor of Perneo.--E.]
[Footnote 166: From subsequent circumstances the text is obviously here incorrect, and ought to have been translated, that the flood tides run six hours; as it will be afterwards seen that the voyage to a place 12 miles short of Pegu requires eight days of these tide trips of six.--E.]
[Footnote 167: This is certainly an error, and Cesar Frederick has mistaken the bamboo cane used in such erections for the sugar-cane.--E.]
Volume 7, Chapter 6, Section 19 -- Voyages of the Author to different parts of India.
When I was at Pegu in August 1569, having got a considerable profit by my endeavours, I was desirous to return to my own country by way of St. Thome, but in that case I should have been obliged to wait till next March; I was therefore advised to go by way of Bengal, for which country there was a ship ready to sail to the great harbour of Chittagong, whence there go small ships to Cochin in sufficient time to arrive there before the departure of the Portuguese ships for Lisbon, in which I was determined to return to Europe. I went accordingly on board the Bengal ship; but this happened to be the year of the Tyffon, which will require some explanation. It is therefore to be understood that in India they have, once every ten or twelve years, such prodigious storms and tempests as are almost incredible, except to such as have seen them, neither do they know with any certainty on what years they may be expected, but unfortunate are they who happen to be at sea when this tempest or tyffon takes place, as few escape the dreadful danger.
In this year it was our evil fortune to be at sea in one of these terrible storms; and well it was for us that our ship was newly over-planked, and had no loading save victuals and ballast, with some gold and silver for Bengal, as no other merchandise is carried to Bengal from Pegu. The tyffon accordingly assailed us and lasted three days, carrying away our sails, yards, and rudder; and as the ship laboured excessively, we cut away our mast, yet she continued to labour more heavily than before, so that the sea broke over her every moment, and almost filled her with water. For the space of three days and three nights, sixty men who were on board did nothing else than bale out the water continually, twenty at one place, twenty in another, and twenty at a third place; yet during all this storm so good was the hull of our ship that she took not in a single drop of water at her sides or bottom, all coming in at the hatches. Thus driving about at the mercy of the winds and waves, we were during the darkness of the third night at about four o'clock after sunset cast upon a shoal. When day appeared next morning we could see no land on any side of us, so that we knew not where we were. It pleased the divine goodness that a great wave of the sea came and floated us off from the shoal into deep water, upon which we all felt as men reprieved from immediate death, as the sea was calm and the water smooth. Casting the lead we found twelve fathoms water, and bye and bye we had only six fathoms, when we let go a small anchor which still hung at the stern, all the others having been lost during the storm. Our anchor parted next night, and our ship again grounded, when we shored her up the best we could, to prevent her from over-setting at the side of ebb.
When it was day, we found our ship high and dry on a sand-bank, a full mile from the sea. When the tyffon entirely ceased, we discovered an island not far from us, to which we walked on the sand, that we might learn where we were. We found it inhabited, and in my opinion the most fertile island I had ever seen. It is divided into two parts by a channel or water-course, which is full at high tides. With much ado we brought our ship into that channel; and when the people of the island saw our ship, and that we were coming to land, they immediately erected a bazar or market-place with shops right over-against the ship, to which they brought every kind of provisions for our supply, and sold them at wonderfully reasonable rates. I bought many salted kine as provision for the ship at half a larine each, being all excellent meat and very fat, and four wild hogs ready dressed for a larine. The larine is worth about twelve shillings and sixpence. Good fat hens were bought for a byza each, which does not exceed a penny; and yet some of our people said that we were imposed upon, as we ought to have got every thing for half the money. We got excellent rice at an excessively low price, and indeed every article of food was at this place in the most wonderful abundance. The name of this island is Sondiva or Sundeep, and belongs to the kingdom of Bengal, being 120 miles from Chittagong, to which place we were bound. The people are Moors or Mahometans, and the king or chief was a very good kind of man for a Mahometan; for if he had been a tyrant like others, he might have robbed us of all we had, as the Portuguese captain at Chittagong was in arms against the native chief of that place, and every day there were some persons slain. On receiving this intelligence, we were in no small fear for our safety, keeping good watch and ward every night, according to the custom of the sea; but the governor of the town gave us assurance that we had nothing to fear, for although the Portuguese had slain the governor or chief at Chittagong, we were not to blame, and indeed he every day did us every service and civility in his power, which we had no reason to expect, considering that the people of Sundeep and those of Chittagong were subjects of the same sovereign.
Departing from Sundeep we came to Chittagong, by which time a peace or truce had been agreed upon between the Portuguese and the chiefs of the city, under condition that the Portuguese captain should depart with his ship without any lading. At this time there were 18 Portuguese ships of different sizes at that port, and the captain being a gentleman and a brave man, was contented to depart in this manner, to his material injury, rather than hinder so many of his friends and countrymen who were there, and likewise because, the season for going to Western India was now past. During the night before his departure, every ship that was in the port, and had any part of their lading on board, transshipped it to this captain to help to lessen his loss and bear his charges, in reward for his courteous behaviour on this occasion. At this time there came a messenger from the king of Rachim or Aracan to this Portuguese captain, saying that his master had heard tidings of his great valour and prowess, and requesting him to bring his ship to the port of Aracan where he would be well received. The captain went thither accordingly, and was exceedingly well satisfied with his reception.
The kingdom of Aracan is in the mid-way between Bengal and Pegu, and the king of Pegu is continually devising means of reducing the king of Aracan under subjection, which hitherto he has not been able to effect, as he has no maritime force, whereas the king of Aracan can arm two hundred galleys or foists; besides which he has the command of certain sluices or flood-gates in his country, by which he can drown a great part of his country when he thinks proper, when at any time the king of Pegu endeavours to invade his dominions, by which be cuts off the way by which alone the king of Pegu can have access.
From the great port of Chittagong they export for India great quantities of rice, large assortments of cotton cloth of all sorts, with sugar, corn, money, and other articles of merchandise. In consequence of the war in Chittagong, the Portuguese ships were so long detained there, that they were unable to arrive at Cochin at the usual time; for which reason the fleet from Cochin was departed for Portugal before their arrival. Being in one of the smaller ships, which was somewhat in advance of our fleet from Chittagong, I came in sight of Cochin just as the very last of the homeward-bound fleet was under sail. This gave me much dissatisfaction, as there would be no opportunity of going to Portugal for a whole year; wherefore, on my arrival at Cochin, I was fully determined to go for Venice by way of Ormuz. At that time Goa was besieged by the troops of Dialcan [Adel-khan,] but the citizens made light of this attack, as they believed it would not continue long. In the prosecution of my design, I embarked at Cochin in a galley bound for Goa; but on my arrival there the viceroy would not permit any Portuguese ship to sail for Ormuz on account of the war then subsisting, so that I was constrained to remain there.
Soon after my arrival at Goa I fell into a severe sickness, which held me four months; and as my physic and diet in that time cost me 800 ducats, I was under the necessity to sell some part of my rubies, for which I only got 500 ducats, though well worth 1000. When I began to recover my health and strength, very little of my money remained, everything was so scarce and dear. Every chicken, and these not good, cost me seven or eight livres, or from six shillings to six and eightpence, and all other things in proportion; besides which the apothecaries, with their medicines, were a heavy charge upon me. At the end of six months the siege of Goa was raised, and as jewels rose materially in their price, I began to work; and as before I had only sold a small quantity of inferior rubies to serve my necessities, I now determined to sell all the jewels I had, and to make another voyage to Pegu; and as opium was in great request at Pegu when I was there before, I went from Goa to Cambay, where I laid out 2100 ducats in the purchase of 60 parcels of opium, the ducat being worth 4s. 2d. I likewise bought three bales of cotton cloth, which cost me 800 ducats, that commodity selling well in Pegu. When I had bought these things, I understood the viceroy had issued orders that the custom on opium should be paid at Goa, after which it might be carried anywhere else. I shipped therefore my three bales of cotton cloth at Chaul, in a vessel bound for Cochin, and went myself to Goa to pay the duty for my opium.
From Goa I went to Cochin, in a ship that was bound for Pegu, and intended to winter at San Thome; but on my arrival at Cochin I learnt that the ship with my three bales of cotton cloth was cast away, so that I lost my 800 seraphins or ducats. On our voyage from Cochin to San Thome, while endeavouring to weather the south point of Ceylon, which lies far out to sea, the pilot was out in his reckoning, and laying-to in the night, thinking that he had passed hard by the Cape of Ceylon; when morning came we were far within the Cape, and fallen to leeward, by which it became now impossible to weather the island, as the wind was strong and contrary. Thus we lost our voyage for the season, and we were constrained to go to Manaar to winter there, the ship having lost all her masts, and being saved from entire wreck with great difficulty. Besides the delay and disappointment to the passengers, this was a heavy loss to the captain of the ship, as he was under the necessity of hiring another vessel at San Thome at a heavy charge, to carry us and our goods to Pegu.
My companions and I, with all the rest of the merchants, hired a bark at Manaar to carry us to San Thome, where I received intelligence by way of Bengal, that opium was very scarce and dear in Pegu; and as there was no other opium but mine then at San Thome, for the Pegu market, all the merchants considered me as a very fortunate man, as I would make great profit, which indeed I certainly should have done, if my adverse fortune had not thwarted my well-grounded expectations, in the following manner: A large ship from Cambaya, bound for Assi [Acheen?] with a large quantity of opium, and to lade pepper in return, being forced to lay-to in crossing the mouth of the bay of Bengal, was obliged to go roomer for 800 miles, by which means it went to Pegu, and arrived there one day before me. Owing to this circumstance, opium, which had been very dear in Pegu, fell to a very low price, the quantity which had sold before for 50 bizze having fallen to 2-1/2, so large was the quantity brought by this ship. Owing to this unfortunate circumstance, I was forced to remain two years in Pegu, otherwise I must have given away my opium for much less than it cost me, and even at the end of that time I only made 1000 ducats by what had cost me 2100 in Cambaya.
After this I went from Pegu to the Indies and Ormuz, with a quantity of lac. From Ormuz I returned to Chaul, and thence to Cochin, from which place I went again to Pegu. Once more I lost the opportunity of becoming rich, as on this voyage I only took a small quantity of opium, while I might have sold a large quantity to great advantage, being afraid of meeting a similar disappointment with that which happened to me before. Being now again resolved to return into my native country, I went from Pegu to Cochin, where I wintered, and then sailed for Ormuz.
[Footnote 168: From this expression it may be inferred, that besides his mercantile speculations in jewels, Cesar Frederick was a lapidary.--E.]
[Footnote 169: The meaning of this ancient nautical term is here clearly expressed, as drifting to leeward while laying-to.--E.]
[Footnote 170: Here, and in various other parts of these early voyages, India and the Indies seem confined to the western coast of the peninsula, as it is called, or the Malabar coast.--E.]
Volume 7, Chapter 6, Section 20 -- Some Account of the Commodities of India.
Before concluding this relation of my peregrinations, it seems proper that I should give some account of the productions of India.
In all parts of India, both of the western and eastern regions, there is pepper and ginger, and in some parts the greatest quantity of pepper is found wild in the woods, where it grows without any care or cultivation, except the trouble of gathering it when ripe. The tree on which the pepper grows is not unlike our ivy, and runs in the same manner up to the top of such trees as grow in its neighbourhood, for if it were not to get hold of some tree it would lie flat on the ground and perish. Its flower and berry in all things resemble the ivy, and its berries or grains are the pepper, which are green when gathered, but by drying in the sun they become black. Ginger requires cultivation, and its seeds are sown on land previously tilled. The herb resembles that called panizzo, and the root is the spice we call ginger. Cloves all come from the Moluccas, where they grow in two small islands, Ternate and Tidore, on a tree resembling the laurel. Nutmegs and mace come from the island of Banda, where they grow together on one tree, which resembles our walnut tree, but not so large. Long pepper grows in Bengal, Pegu, and Java.
All the good sandal-wood comes from the island of Timor. Camphor, being compounded, or having to undergo a preparation, comes all from China. That which grows in canes comes from Borneo, and I think none of that kind is brought to Europe, as they consume large quantities of it in India, and it is there very dear. Good aloes wood comes from Cochin-China; and benjamin from the kingdoms of Assi, Acheen (?), and Siam. Musk is brought from Tartary, where it is made, as I have been told, in the following manner. There is in Tartary a beast as large and fierce as a wolf, which they catch alive, and beat to death with small staves, that his blood may spread through his whole body. This they then cut in pieces, taking out all the bones, and having pounded the flesh and blood very fine in a mortar, they dry it and put it into purses made of the skin, and these purses with their contents are the cods of musk.
["The Jewes doe counterfeit and take out the halfe of the goode muske, beating it up with an equal quantity of the flesh of an asse, and put this mixture in the bag or purse, which they sell for true muske."--Hackluyt.]
I know not whereof amber is made, and there are divers opinions respecting it; but this much is certain, that it is cast out from the sea, and is found on the shores and banks left dry by the recess of the tides. Rubies, sapphires, and spinells are got in Pegu. Diamonds come from different places, and I know but three kinds of them. The kind which is called Chiappe comes from Bezeneger, Bijanagur (?). Those that are naturally pointed come from the land of Delly and the island of Java, but those of Java are heavier than the others. I could never learn whence the precious stones called Balassi are procured. Pearls are fished for in different places, as has been already mentioned. The substance called Spodium, which is found concreted in certain canes, is procured in Cambaza, Cambaya (?). Of this concrete I found many pieces in Pegu, when building myself a house there, as in that country they construct their houses of canes woven together like mats or basket-work, as formerly related.
The Portuguese trade all the way from Chaul along the coast of India, and to Melinda in Ethiopia, in the land of Cafraria, on which coast are many good ports belonging to the Moors. To these the Portuguese carry a very low-priced cotton cloth, and many paternosters, or beads made of paultry glass, which are manufactured at Chaul; and from thence they carry back to India many elephant's teeth, slaves, called Kafrs or Caffers, with some amber and gold. On this coast the king of Portugal has a castle at Mozambique, which is of as great importance as any of his fortresses, in the Indies. The captain or governor of this castle has certain privileged voyages assigned to him, where only his agents may trade. In their dealings with the Kafrs along this coast, to which they go in small vessels, their purchases and sales are singularly conducted without any conversation or words on either side. While sailing along the coast, the Portuguese stop in many places, and going on shore they lay down a small quantity of their goods, which they leave, going back to the ship. Then the Kafr merchant comes to look at the goods, and having estimated them in his own way, he puts down as much gold as he thinks the goods are worth, leaving both the gold and the goods, and then withdraws. If on the return of the Portuguese trader he thinks the quantity of gold sufficient, he taketh it away and goes back to his ship, after which the Kafr takes away the goods, and the transaction is finished. But if he find the gold still left, it indicates that the Portuguese merchant is not contented with the quantity, and if he thinks proper he adds a little more. The Portuguese must not, however, be too strict with them, as they are apt to be affronted and to give over traffic, being a peevish people. By means of this trade, the Portuguese exchange their commodities for gold, which they carry to the castle of Mozambique, standing in an island near the Continental coast of Cafraria, on the coast of Ethiopia, 2800 miles distant from India.
[Footnote 171: This is an error, as camphor is a species of essential oil, grossly sublimed at first from a tree of the laurel family, and afterwards purified by farther processes.--E.]
[Footnote 172: The whole of this story is a gross fabrication imposed by ignorance on credulity. The cods of musk are natural bags or emunctories, found near the genitals on the males of an animal named Moschus Moschiferus, or Thibet Musk. It is found through the whole of Central Asia, except its most northern parts, but the best musk comes from Thibet.--E.
[Footnote 173: Ambergris is probably meant in the text under the name of Amber, as the former came formerly from India, while the latter is principally found in the maritime parts of Prussia.--E.]
Volume 7, Chapter 6, Section 21 -- Return of the Author to Europe.
To return to my voyage. On my arrival at Ormuz, I found there M. Francis Berettin of Venice, and we freighted a bark in conjunction to carry us to Bussora, for which we paid 70 ducats; but as other merchants went along with us, they eased our freight. We arrived safely at Bussora, where we tarried 40 days, to provide a caravan of boats to go up the river to Babylon [Bagdat], as it is very unsafe to go this voyage with only two or three barks together, because they cannot proceed during the night, and have to make fast to the sides of the river, when it is necessary to be vigilant and well provided with weapons, both for personal safety and the protection of the goods, as there are numerous thieves who lie in wait to rob the merchants. Wherefore it is customary and proper always to go in fleets of not less than 25 or 30 boats, for mutual protection. In going up the river the voyage is generally 38 or 40 days, according as the wind happens to be favourable or otherwise, but we took 50 days.
We remained four months at Babylon, until the caravan was ready to pass the desert to Aleppo. In this city six European merchants of us consorted together to pass the desert, five of whom were Venetians and one a Portuguese. The Venetians were Messer Florinasca, and one of his kinsmen, Messer Andrea de Polo, Messer Francis Berettin, and I. So we bought horses and mules for our own use, which are very cheap there, insomuch that I bought a horse for myself for eleven akens, and sold him afterwards in Aleppo for 30 ducats. We bought likewise a tent, which was of very great convenience and comfort to us, and we furnished ourselves with sufficient provisions, and beans for the horses, to serve 40 days. We had also among us 33 camels laden with merchandise, paying two ducats for every camels load, and, according to the custom of the country, they furnish 11 camels for every 10 bargained and paid for. We likewise had with us three men to serve us during the journey, which are used to go for five Dd. a man, and are bound to serve for that sum all the way to Aleppo.
By these precautions we made the journey over the desert without any trouble, as, whenever the camels stopped for rest, our tent was always the first erected. The caravan makes but small journeys of about 20 miles a-day, setting out every morning two hours before day, and stopping about two hours after noon. We had good fortune on our journey as it rained, so that we were never in want of water; yet we always carried one camel load of water for our party for whatever might happen in the desert, so that we were in no want of any thing whatever that this country affords. Among other things we had fresh mutton every day, as we had many shepherds along with us taking care of the sheep we had bought at Babylon, each merchant having his own marked with a distinguishing mark. We gave each shepherd a medin, which is twopence of our money, for keeping and feeding our sheep by the way, and for killing them; besides which the shepherds got the heads, skins, and entrails of all the sheep for themselves. We six bought 20 sheep, and 7 of them remained alive when we came to Aleppo. While on our journey through the desert, we used to lend flesh to each other, so as never to carry any from station to station, being repaid next day by those to whom we lent the day before.
From Babylon to Aleppo is 40 days journey, of which 36 days are through the desert or wilderness, in which neither trees, houses, nor inhabitants are anywhere to be seen, being all an uniform extended plain or dreary waste, with no object whatever to relieve the eye. On the journey, the pilots or guides go always in front, followed by the caravan in regular order. When the guides stop, all the caravan does the same, and unloads the camels, as the guides know where wells are to be found. I have said that the caravan takes 36 days to travel across the wilderness; besides these, for the two first days after leaving Babylon we go past inhabited villages, till such time as we cross the Euphrates; and then we have two days journey through among inhabited villages before reaching Aleppo. Along with each caravan there is a captain, who dispenses justice to all men, and every night there is a guard appointed to keep watch for the security of the whole. From Aleppo we went to Tripoli, in Syria, where M. Florinasca, M. Andrea Polo, and I, with a friar in company, hired a bark to carry us towards Jerusalem. We accordingly sailed from Tripoli to Jaffa, from which place we travelled in a day and a half to Jerusalem, leaving orders that the bark should wait for our return. We remained 14 days at Jerusalem visiting the holy places, whence we returned to Jaffa, and thence back to Tripoli, and there we embarked in a ship belonging to Venice, called the Bajazzana; and, by the aid of the divine goodness, we safely arrived in Venice on the 5th of November 1581.
Should anyone incline to travel into those parts of India to which I went, let him not be astonished or deterred by the troubles, entanglements, and long delays which I underwent, owing to my poverty. On leaving Venice, I had 1200 ducats invested in merchandise; but while at Tripoli in my way out I fell sick in the house of M. Regaly Oratio, who sent away my goods with a small caravan to Aleppo. This caravan was robbed, and all my goods lost, except four chests of glasses, which cost me 200 ducats. Even of my glasses many were broken, as the thieves had broken up the boxes in hopes of getting goods more suitable for their purpose. Even with this small remaining stock I adventured to proceed for the Indies, where, by exchange and re-exchange, with much patient diligence, and with the blessing of God, I at length acquired a respectable stock.
It may be proper to mention, for the sake of others who may follow my example, by what means they may secure their goods and effects to their heirs, in case of their death. In all the cities belonging to the Portuguese in India, there is a house or establishment called the school of the Santa Misericordia comissaria, the governors of which, on payment of a certain fee, take a copy of your testament, which you ought always to carry along with you when travelling in the Indies. There always goes into the different countries of the Gentiles and Mahometans a captain or consul, to administer justice to the Portuguese, and other Christians connected with them, and this captain has authority to recover the goods of all merchants who chance to die on these voyages. Should any of these not have their wills along with them, or not have them registered in one of the before-mentioned schools, these captains are sure to consume their goods in such a way that little or nothing will remain for their heirs. There are always also on such voyages some merchants who are commissaries of the Sancta Misericordia, who take charge of the goods of those who have registered their wills in that office, and having sold them the money is remitted to the head office of the Misericordia at Lisbon, whence intelligence is sent to any part of Christendom whence the deceased may have come, so that on the heirs of such persons going to Lisbon with satisfactory testimonials, they will receive the full value of what was left by their relation. It is to be noted, however, that when any merchant happens to die in the kingdom of Pegu, one-third of all that belongs to him goes, by ancient law and custom, to the king and his officers, but the other two-thirds are honourably restored to those having authority to receive them. On this account, I have known many rich men who dwelt in Pegu, who have desired to go thence into their own country in their old age to die there, that they might save the third of their property to their heirs, and these have always been allowed freely to depart without trouble or molestation.
In Pegu the fashion in dress is uniformly the same for the high and low, the rich and the poor, the only difference being in the quality or fineness, of the materials, which is cloth of cotton, of various qualities. In the first place, they have an inner garment of white cotton cloth which serves for a shirt, over which they gird another garment of painted cotton cloth of fourteen brasses or yards, which is bound or tucked up between the legs. On their heads they wear a tuck or turban of three yards long, bound round the head somewhat like a mitre; but some, instead of this, have a kind of cap like a bee-hive, which does not fall below the bottom of the ear. They are all barefooted; but the nobles never walk afoot, being carried by men on a seat of some elegance, having a hat made of leaves to keep off the rain and sun; or else they ride on horseback, having their bare feet in the stirrups. All women, of whatever degree, wear a shift or smock down to the girdle, and from thence down to their feet a cloth of three yards long, forming a kind of petticoat which is open before, and so strait that at every step they shew their legs and more, so that in walking they have to hide themselves as it were very imperfectly with their hand. It is reported that this was contrived by one of the queens of this country, as a means of winning the men from certain unnatural practices to which they were unhappily addicted. The women go all barefooted like the men, and have their arms loaded with hoops of gold adorned with jewels, and their fingers all filled with precious rings. They wear their long hair rolled up and fastened on the crown of their heads, and a cloth thrown over their shoulders, by way of a cloak.
By way of concluding this long account of my peregrinations, I have this to say, that those parts of the Indies in which I have been are very good for a man who has little, and wishes by diligent industry to make rich: providing always that he conducts himself so as to preserve the reputation of honesty. Such, persons will never fail to receive assistance to advance their fortunes. But, for those who are vicious, dishonest, or indolent, they had better stay at home; for they shall always remain poor, and die beggars.
[Footnote 174: Such is the manner in which the hire of these servants is expressed in Hakluyt. Perhaps meaning 500 pence; and as the Venetian sol is about a halfpenny, this will amount to about a guinea, but it does not appear whether this is the sum for each person, or for all three.--E.]
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