Volume 7, Chapter 9 -- Early Voyages of the English to the East Indies, before the establishment of an exclusive Company: *section index*

Volume 7, Chapter 9, Section 9 -- Voyage of Captain John Davis to the East Indies, in 1598, as Pilot to a Dutch Ship.[31]

This voyage was written by Davis himself, and appears to have been sent by him in a letter to Robert Earl of Essex, dated Middleburgh, 1st August, 1600. From this letter we learnt that Mr. Davis had been employed by his lordship, for discovering these eastern parts of the world, for the service of Queen Elizabeth, and the good of England. He informs his noble patron that his journal only contains such things as had fallen under his own observation; but, when favoured with an opportunity, he would give him an account of all that he had learnt abroad relating to the places of trade and strength belonging to the crown of Portugal, and respecting the commerce of those eastern nations with each other. The Portuguese possessions, he says, beginning at Sofala, being the first beyond the Cape of Good Hope, are Mozambique, Ornuus, Diu, Gor, Coulan, Onore, Mangalore, Cochin, Columbo, Negapatam, Portogrande or Chittigong in Bengal, Malacca, and Macao in China, with the islands of Molucca and Amboyna. That the Portuguese likewise trade to Monomotapa, Melinda, Aden, Arabia, Cambaya or Guzerat, the coast of Coromandel, Balagate, and Orissa.

Of all these nations, as he says, there are some traders residing at Acheen, in the island of Sumatra; where likewise he met with Arabians, and a nation called Ramos,[32] from the Red-Sea, who have traded there many hundred years. There are there also many Chinese engaged in trade, who have been used to trade there for many hundred years, and used Davis kindly, so that he says he was able to give his lordship much information concerning the great empire of China. He concludes by saying, that the Portuguese had long industriously concealed all these things, which were now providentially laid open. He concludes by saying, that he had inclosed the alphabet of the Acheen language, with some words of their language, written from right to left, after the manner of the Hebrews; but this has not been printed in the Collection of Purchas. He says that he had also sent by one Mr. Tomkins, probably the bearer of the letter and journal, some of the coin used there in common payments; The gold piece called mas, being worth about ninepence half-penny; and those of lead called caxas, of which it takes 1600 to make one mas.

[By the Rumos, or Rúms, are to be understood the people of Egypt; which, having been a part of the Roman empire, is, like Anatolia and other provinces of the Turkish empire, called Rúm by the orientals. Hence likewise the Turks are called Rúms; and not, as Purchas says, because they are in possession of Constantinople, which was called New Rome: For these provinces were called Rúm several ages before the Turks took that city.--ASTLEY, I.254, b.]
"The relation which follows, titled "A brief Relation of Master John Davis, chief Pilot to the Zealanders in their East India Voyage, departing from Middleburgh," is obscure in some places, but must only be considered as an abstract of his large journal, perhaps written in haste. The latitudes are by no means to be commended for exactness, and seem to have been taken on shipboard, only two or three of them with any care. It is rather singular that he gives no observation for Acheen, though the chief object of the voyage, and that he stayed there so long."--ASTLEY.

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We departed from Flushing on the 15th of March, 1598, being two ships in company, the Lion of 400 tons, having 123 persons on board, and the Lioness of 250 tons, with 100 men. These ships were the sole property of Messrs Mushrom, Clarke, and Monef of Middleburgh, and entirely at their risk. Cornelius Howteman was chief commander of both ships, with the title of general, having a commission from Prince Maurice.

The seventh day after, being the 22d, we anchored in Torbay, having a contrary wind. We sailed thence on the 7th of April, and had sight of Porto Santo on the 20th; fell in with Palma on the 23d, and the 30th reached the Cape Verd islands. We first anchored at St. Nicholas, in lat. 16° 16' N. We here watered on the 7th of May, and setting sail on the 9th, fell in with St Jago. The 9th June we got sight of Brazil, in lat. 7° S, not being able to double Cape St Augustine; for, being near the equator, we had very inconstant weather and bad winds; in which desperate case we shaped our course for the island of Fernando Noronho, in lat. 4° S. where on the 15th June we anchored on the north side in eighteen fathoms. In this island we found twelve negroes, eight men and four women. It is a fertile island, having good water, and abounds in goats; having also beeves, hogs, hens, melons, and Guinea corn with plenty of fish and sea-fowl. These negroes had been left here by the Portuguese to cultivate the island, and no ships had been there for three years.

Leaving this island on the 26th August, with the wind at E.N.E. we doubled Cape St. Augustine on the 30th. The 10th September we passed the Abrolhos, which we were in much fear of; these shoals being far out at sea in lat. 21° S. and are very dangerous. On this occasion our Baas, for so a Dutch captain is called, appointed a Master of Misrule, named the Kesar, the authority of which disorderly officer lay in riot, as after dinner he would neither salute his friends, nor understand the laws of reason, those who ought to have been most respectful being both lawless and witless. We spent three days in this dissolute manner, and then shaped our course for the Cape of Good Hope, sailing towards the coast of Bacchus, to whom this idolatrous sacrifice was made, as appeared afterwards.

The 11th November we came to anchor in Saldanha bay, in lat. 34° S. ten leagues short of the Cape of Good Hope, where there are three fresh water rivers.[33] The people came to us with great plenty of oxen and sheep, which they sold for spike nails and pieces of old iron, giving the best for not more than the value of a penny. Their cattle are large, and have a great lump of flesh on the shoulder, like the back of a camel. Their sheep have prodigiously large tails, entirely composed of fat, weighing twelve or fourteen pounds, but are covered with hair instead of wool. The people are not circumcised; are of an olive black colour, blacker than the Brazilians, with black curled hair like the negroes of Angola. Their words are mostly inarticulate, and in speaking they cluck with the tongue like a brood hen, the cluck and the word being pronounced together in a very strange manner. They go naked, except a short cloak of skins, and sandals tied to their feet, painting their faces with various colours, and are a strong active people, who run with amazing swiftness. They are subject to the King of Monomotapa,[34] who is reported to be a mighty sovereign. Their only weapons are darts.

As the Dutchmen offered them some rudeness, they absented themselves from us for three days, during which time they made great fires on the mountains. On the 19th of November, there came a great multitude of them to us, with a great number of cattle, and taking a sudden opportunity while bartering, they set upon us and slew thirteen of our people with their hand-darts, which could not have hurt any of us at the distance of four pikes' length. The Dutchmen fled from them like mice before cats, basely throwing away their weapons. Our Baas or captain kept on board to save himself, but sent us corslets, two-handed swords, pikes, muskets, and targets, so that we were well laden with weapons, but had neither courage nor discretion, for we stayed at our tents besieged by savages and cows. We were in muster giants, with great armed bodies; but in action babes with wrens' hearts. Mr Tomkins and I undertook to order these fellows, according to that excellent way which we had seen in your lordship's most honourable actions. Some consented to go with us, though unwillingly; but most of them ran to the pottage pot, swearing it was dinner time. We went all on board this night, except our great mastiff dog, which we could not induce to follow us, for I think he was ashamed of our cowardly behaviour. The land here is of an excellent soil, and the climate is quite healthy; the soil being full of good herbs, as mints, calamint, plantain, ribwort, trefoil, scabious, and such like. We set sail from Saldanha bay on the 27th of December, and doubled the Cape of Good Hope on the last day of the year.

The 6th of January, 1599, we doubled Cape Aguillas, the most southern point of Africa, in lat. 35° S. [34° 45'] where the compass has no variation.[35] The 6th of February we fell in with Madagascar, short of St Romano [or Cape St Mary, at its southern end]; and not being able to double it, we bore room with [bore away to leeward for] the bay of St Augustine on the south-west side of that island, in lat. 23° 50' S. [23° 30'.] The 3d of March we anchored in that bay, where we saw many people on the shore, but they all fled when we landed; for when, our Baas was in this bay on the former voyage, he greatly abused the people, and having taken one of them, he had him tied to a post and shot to death, having besides used them otherwise most shamefully. After seven days, we enticed some of them to come to us, from whom we bought some milk and one cow; but they soon left us, and would not have any more connexion with us. They are a strong well-shaped people, of a coal-black colour, having a sweet and pleasing language. Their weapons are spears or half pikes, headed with iron, which they keep very clear; and they go quite naked. The soil appeared very fertile, and we saw a vast number of tamarind trees. We found another high tree producing beans very good to eat, in pods two feet long, and the beans of a proportional size. We saw here many cameleons. We English suffered no small misery, especially in this bay: but God, the ever living commander, was our only succour.

This 8th of March we came on board hungry and meatless, and on the 14th we set sail from this place, which we called Hungry bay, shaping our course to the northward along the west side of the island. The 29th, we came to the islands of Comoro, between 12° and 13° S. [12° 32' and 15° 16'.] There are five of these islands, named Mayotta, Anzuame, Magliaglie, San Christophero, and Spiritu Santo.[36] The 30th, we anchored at Mayotta close by a town, where there were many people who seemed rejoiced at our arrival, and came on board, bringing us presents of victuals. The king sent a message to our baas, inviting him on shore with promise of much kindness; and when he landed, the king met him with a great retinue, having three drums beaten before him. He and his principal followers were richly dressed, in long silken robes, embroidered in the Turkish fashion: and after using us with great kindness, gave us a letter of recommendation for the Queen of Anzuame, or Hinzuan, as that island has no king.

We sailed from Mayotta on the 17th of April, and anchored at Hinzuan on the 19th, before a town named Demos, which appears from its ruins to have been a strong place, the houses being built of hewed freestone, and what remains being as large as Plymouth, but the walls are almost ruined. The queen used us in a most friendly manner, yet would not allow any of us to see her. In these islands we had rice, oxen, goats, cocoas, bananas, oranges, lemons, and citrons. The inhabitants are negroes, but smooth-haired, and follow the Mahometan religion. Their weapons are swords, targets, bows and arrows. These islands are very beautiful and fertile; and among them we found merchants of Arabia and India, but I could not learn what commodities they yielded. They greatly coveted weapons and iron, and were fond of procuring paper. The 28th we departed from Hinzuan, passing through the islands of Mascarenhas and the Shoals of Almirante.

The 23d of May, we fell in with the islands called Maldives, which are very low close to the water, and are so covered with cocoa-nut trees, that we saw only trees and no shore. Many of the native boats passed close by us, but none would come to us, wherefore our baas sent a ship's boat to take one of them, which on the 24th brought a boat to us, which was covered with mats like a close barge. In this boat was a gentleman and his wife. He was dressed in very fine white linen, made after the Turkish fashion, having several rings with red stones; and his countenance was so modest, his behaviour so sweet and affable, and his speech so graceful, that we concluded he could not be less than a nobleman. He was very unwilling to let his wife be seen; but our baas went into the boat along with him to see her, and even opened her casket, in which were some jewels and ambergris. He reported that she sat in mournful modesty, not speaking a word. What was taken from them I know not, but on departing, this gentleman shewed a princely spirit. He was a man of middle stature, of a black colour, with smooth or lank hair. There is considerable trade in these islands, by reason of the cocoa-trees; for they make ropes, cables, sails, wine, oil, and a kind of bread from that tree and its fruit. It is said that there are 11,000 of these islands.

The 27th of May we set sail, and that morning there came on board of us an old man who could speak a little Portuguese, who piloted us through the channel, as by chance we had fallen upon the right channel called Maldivia, in lat. 4° 15' N. Here the compass varied 17° westerly. It is a very dangerous thing to miss the right channel, the trade and navigation through which is very great of various nations, to most places of India, as I hope in your lordship's presence to inform you at large. The 3d June we fell in with the coast of India near Cochin, in lat. 8° 40' N.[37] and coasting along the shore, we shaped our course eastwards for Cape Comorin, and thence to the island of Sumatra.

The 13th June we saw the coast of Sumatra, in lat. 5° 40' N. at its most northerly extremity; and when stopping at an island near the shore to take in water, on the 16th, we spoke with some of the people. The 21st, we anchored in the bay of Acheen in twelve fathoms, on which the king sent off his officers to measure the length and breadth of our vessels, and to take the number of our ordnance and men, which they did. Our baas sent two of his people on shore along with these officers, with a present to the king, consisting of a looking glass, a drinking glass, and a coral bracelet. Next day our people returned on board, being apparelled by the king after the country fashion, in dresses of white calico, and brought a friendly message of peace, welcome, and plenty of spices. We found three barks belonging to Arabia and one of Pegu riding in the bay, which had come to lade pepper. There was here also a Portuguese officer, Don Alfonso Vincente, with four barks from Malacca, who had come expressly to endeavour to prevent our trade, as was shewn in the sequel.

On the 23d June, the king sent at midnight for our baas to come to wait upon him, sending a noble as his hostage. He went immediately on shore, and was kindly used by the king, who promised him a free trade, and clothed him after the fashion of the country, giving him likewise a criss of honour. This criss is a dagger, having a haft or handle of a kind of metal of fine lustre esteemed far beyond gold, and set with rubies. It is death to wear a criss of this kind, except it has been given by the king; and he who possesses it is at absolute freedom to take victuals without money, and to command all the rest as slaves. Our baas, or captain, came on board the 26th with a boat-load of pepper, making incredible boasts of his mighty good fortune, and the wonderful trade he had procured, with no small rejoicing in his pride. He said likewise that the king had often asked if he were from England, which he strongly denied, using many unhandsome speeches of our nation; and after coming on board, he said he would have given a thousand pounds to have had no English with him, thus thrusting us poor souls into a corner.

The 27th of June, our merchants went on shore with their goods, having a house appointed for their residence by the king. On the 20th July, our captain being with the king, was well entertained by him, and on this occasion the king was very importunate to know if he were English. "Tell me truly," said he, "for I love the English; and I must farther tell you that Alfonso Vincente has been earnest with me to betray you, but it shall not be, for I am your friend." With that he gave him a purse of gold. The captain gave him thanks for the present and his friendly disposition, declaring that he was not from England but from Flanders, and entirely disposed to serve his majesty. "I have heard of England," said the king, "but never of Flanders; pray what land is that?" He farther enquired who was their king, and what was the state and government of the country? The captain made a large report on this topic, saying that they had no king, but were governed by an aristocracy. He likewise requested that the king would give orders to his subjects not to call him an Englishman, as that gave him much displeasure, which the king promised should be done. The king then asked if there were no English in the ships? To which the captain answered, that there were some, but they had been bred up in Flanders. The king then said, he understood there were some men in the ships that differed from the others in apparel, language, and manners, and desired to know who these were. To this the baas answered, that they were English, and that his chief pilot was one of them. The king then said that he must see these men. "As for your merchandize," added he, "I have war with the king of Johor, and if you will assist me against him with your ships, your recompence shall be a full lading of pepper." To this our captain agreed. The 28th of July, the Sabandars,[38] the secretary, the merchants of Mecca, who were Turks and Arabians, together with Don Alfonso Vincente and some others of the Portuguese, came on board with our baas, and all returned passing drunk.

The 20th of August the king began to change his countenance to our captain, demanding why the English pilot had not been to wait upon him; for hitherto Mr Tomkins and I had not been permitted to go on shore; adding, that when the Dutch had got their pepper, he supposed they would ran away without performing the service they had promised. Upon this I was immediately sent for, and came ashore on the 21st. I waited on the king early next morning, and he treated me very kindly. I staid with him four boars, or more, banqueting And drinking. After an hour, he ordered the sabandar to stand up, and me likewise; upon which the sabander took off my hat, and put a roll of white linen about my head. He then put about my middle a long white linen cloth, embroidered with gold, which went twice about me, the ends hanging down half my leg. After this, taking the roll from my head, and laying it before the king, he put a white garment on me, and above that a red one. Then, replacing the roll on my head, I sat down before the king, who drank to me in aquavitae [arrak, or brandy], and made me eat of many strange meats. All his service was in gold, except some of the dishes, which were fine porcelain. These were all set upon the floor, without table, napkins, or other linen. He asked me many questions about England, about the queen, and her bashas, or nobles; and enquired how she could carry on war against so great a monarch as the king of Spain, for he believed that all Europe was under his government. I satisfied him as well as I could on all these points, and he seemed very much pleased.

On the 23d I was sent for by the prince, and rode to his court on an elephant. He used me extremely well, our entertainment consisting in excessive eating and drinking. While I was on shore, I met with a very sensible merchant of China, who spoke Spanish, and of whom I learnt some things which I hope will give your lordship good contentment hereafter. There are many people here from China who follow trade, and who have their separate town. So have the Portuguese, the Guzurates, the Arabs, Bengalese, and Peguers. As our baas disliked that I should so much frequent the company of the Chinese, he ordered me on board, and came off himself next day in a very dull humour, having had some sour looks from the king.

The 1st of September the king gave out that we were to receive ordnance on board for battering Johor, and to take in soldiers for that service. Many galleys were manned and brought out of the river, and rode at anchor about half a mile from our ships. The sea was all full of paraws and boats. There came that day on board our ship the secretary, named Corcoun, and the chief sabander, named Abdala, accompanied by many soldiers armed with cutlasses, darts, crisses, and targets. They brought with them many kinds of meats, and a great jar of aquavitae, making a great shew of friendship and banqueting. Suspecting some treachery, we filled our tops with stones, made fast and prepared our gratings, all without orders from our baas, who was exceedingly angry, and ordered us to discontinue, but we would not.

There is a kind of seed in this country, by eating a little of which a man becomes quite foolish, all things seeming to be metamorphosed; but, above a certain quantity, it is deadly poison. With this all the meat and drink they brought on board was infected. While banqueting, the sabandar sent for me and Mr Tomkins, who kept me company, and said some words to one of their attendants, which I did not understand. In a short time we were foolishly frolicsome, gaping one upon another in a most ridiculous manner, our captain, or baas, being at that time a prisoner in their hands, yet knew it not. A signal was made from the other ship, where the like treachery was going on under the direction of the secretary, who went there from our ship for that purpose. They immediately set upon us, murdered our baas, and slew several others. Mr Tomkins and I, with the assistance of a Frenchman, defended the poop, which, if they had gained, our ship had been lost, for they already had the cabin, and some of their fellows were below among our guns, having crept in at the port-holes. The master of our ship, whom the Dutch call captain, leapt into the sea, with several others, but came on board again when all was over. In the end, we put them to flight, for our people in the tops annoyed them sore; and, when I saw them run, I leapt from the poop to pursue them, Mr Tomkins following my example. At this time a Turk came out of the cabin, who wounded him grievously, and they lay tumbling over each other on the deck. On seeing this, I ran the Turk through the body with my rapier, and our skipper thrust him down the throat into the body with a half pike.

All the principal people in the other ship were murdered, and the ship obviously in possession of the Acheenese; on which we instantly cut our cables and drove towards her, and, with our shot, made the Indians abandon her, so that we recovered her likewise. The galleys did not venture near us. In our great distress, it was some comfort to see how these base Indians fled, how they were killed, and how they were drowned; the whole sea being covered with dead Indians, floating about in hundreds. Abdala, the sabandar, and one of the king's near kinsmen, were slain, with many others, and the secretary was wounded. The king was by the shore at this time, attended by a vast many people; and on learning the death of the sabandar, and the overthrow of this treachery, the furious infidels murdered all of our people who were on shore, except eight, who were put in irons as slaves. In this great calamity we lost sixty-eight persons, of whom we are not certain how many may be in captivity, having only knowledge of these eight. We lost at this time two fine pinnaces of twenty tons each, and our ship's boat.

We left Acheen that same day, and anchored at Pedier, where we had sent a small pinnace for rice, but could get no tidings of her. Next day, the 2d September, there came eleven galleys to take our ships, having Portuguese in them, as we thought. We sank one of them, and defeated all the rest, so that they fled amain. That same afternoon, the son of Lafort, a French merchant, dwelling in Seethinglane, London, came on board of us, being one of the eight prisoners. He brought the following message from the king: --"Are you not ashamed to be such drunken beasts, as, in your drunkenness, to murder my people whom I sent on board of you in kindness?" He farther required of us, in satisfaction of his pretended wrong, that we should give up our best ship, on which he would release our men, telling Lafort, if he could succeed in this, that he would make him a great nobleman. To this ridiculous proposal we gave a flat denial; and, being in distress for water, we went over to Pulo Lotum, on the coast of Queda, or northern part of Malacca, on its western coast, in lat. 6° 50' N. where we refreshed and watered.

During our stay at Acheen, we received into both our ships 140 tons of pepper, what precious stones and other merchandize besides I know not. But, on the day of treason, our merchants lost all the money and goods they had on shore, which was said to be of great value. On this occasion, many of our young adventurers were utterly ruined; among whom, I most grieve at the loss sustained by poor John Davis, having not only lost my friendly factor, but all my European commodities, with those things I had provided to shew my love and duty to my best friends; so that, though India did not receive me rich, she hath sent me back sufficiently poor.

The island of Sumatra is pleasant and fertile, abounding in many excellent fruits; but their only grain is rice, which serves them for bread. They plough the land with buffaloes, which they have in great numbers, but with small skill, and less industry. The rice grows in all respects like our barley. They have plenty of pepper, which is grown in large gardens or plantations, often a mile square. It grows like hops, from a planted root, winding about a stake set to support it, till it grows like a great bushy tree, whence the pepper hangs in small clusters, three inches long, and an inch about, each cluster having forty pepper-corns; and it yields as great increase as mustard-seed. At Acheen they are able to load twenty ships every year, and might supply more, if the people were industrious. The whole country resembles a pleasure-garden, the air being temperate and wholesome, having every morning a fruitful dew, or small rain. The harbour of Acheen is very small, having only six feet water on the bar, at which there is a stone fort, the ramparts of which are covered or flanked with battlements, all very low, and very despicable. In front of this fort is an excellent road, or anchoring ground for ships, the wind being always off shore, so that a ship may ride safely a mile from the shore, in eighteen fathoms, and close in, in six and four fathoms.

In this country there are elephants, horses, buffaloes, oxen, and goats, with many wild hogs. The land has plenty of mines of gold and copper, with various gums, balsams, many drugs, and much indigo. Its precious stones are rubies, sapphires, and garnets; but I know not whether they are found there, or are brought from other places. It has likewise most excellent timber for building ships. The city of Acheen,[39] if such it may be called, is very spacious, and is built in a wood, so that the houses are not to be seen till we are close upon them; neither could we go into any place but we found houses and a great concourse of people, so that the town seems to spread over the whole land. Their houses are raised on posts, eight feet or better from the ground, leaving free passage under them, the walls and roofs being only of mats, the poorest and weakest things that can be conceived. I saw three great market-places, which were every day crowded like fairs, with all kinds of commodities exposed for sale.

The king, called Sultan Aladin, is said to be an hundred years old, yet is a lively man, exceedingly gross and fat. In his young days he was a fisherman, of which there are many in this place, as they live mostly on fish. Going to the wars with the former king, he shewed himself so valiant and discreet in ordering the king's galleys, that he acquired the royal favour so much as to be appointed admiral of all the sea-force, in which he conducted himself so valiantly and wisely, that the king gave him one of his nearest kinswomen to wife. The king had an only daughter, whom he married to the king of Johor, by whom she had a son, who was sent to Acheen to be brought up as heir to his grandfather. The king who now is, being commander in chief by sea and land, the old king died suddenly; on which the present king took the child under his guardianship, against which the nobility protested: but, as he had the command of the whole armed force, he maintained his point, putting to death more than a thousand of the nobles, raised the rascal people to be new lords, and made new laws. Finally, the young prince was murdered, and he proclaimed himself king, in right of his wife; on which there arose great wars between him and the king of Johor, which continue to this day. He has held the kingdom by force these twenty years, and seems now secure in his usurped and ill-got power.

The king's court, or residence, is situated upon the river, about half a mile from the city, having three inclosures, and guards, before any one can come to him, and a wide green between each guarded inclosure. His house is built like all the rest, but much higher, so that he can see, from where he sits, all that come to any of his guards, yet no one can see him. The walls and covering of his house are made of mats, which are sometimes hung with cloth of gold, sometimes with velvet, and at other times with damask. He sits on the ground, cross-legged, like a tailor, and so must all do who are admitted into his presence. He always wears four crisses, two before and two behind, richly ornamented with diamonds and rubies, and has a sword lying in his lap. He is attended by at least forty women; some with fans to cool him, some with cloths to wipe off sweat, others to serve him with aquavitae or water, and the rest to sing pleasant songs. He doth nothing all day but eat and drink, there being no end of banqueting from morning till night; and, when ready to burst, he eats areka betula[40], which is a fruit like a nutmeg, wrapped in a leaf like tobacco, with sharp-chalk [lime] made of the shells of pearl oysters. Chewing these ingredients makes the spittle very red, causes a great, flow of saliva, and occasions a great appetite; it also makes the teeth very black, and the blacker they are is considered as so much the more fashionable. Having recovered his appetite by this means, he returns again to banqueting. By way of change, when his belly is again gorged, he goes into the river to bathe, where he has a place made on purpose, and gets a fresh appetite by being in the water. He, with his women and great men, do nothing but eat, drink, and talk of venery; so that, if the poets have any truth, then is this king the great Bacchus, for he practises all the ceremonies of gluttony. He spends his whole time in eating and drinking with his women, or in cock-fighting. Such is the king, and such are his subjects; for the whole land is entirely given to such habits of enjoyment.

While, in all parts of Christendom, it is the custom to uncover the head in token of reverence, it is here the direct contrary; as, before any man can come into, the presence of this king, he must put off his shoes and stockings, coming before him bare-footed and bare-legged, holding his hands joined over his head, bowing his body, and saying dowlat; which duty performed, he sits down, cross-legged, in the king's presence. The state is governed by five principal officers, his secretary, and four others, called sabandars, in whom are all the authority of government, and who have inferior officers under them. The will of the king is the law: as there seemed to be no freemen in all the land, the lives and properties of all being at the king's pleasure. In punishing offenders, he makes no man happy by death, but orders their hands and feet to be cut off, and then banishes them to an island called Pulo Wey. When any one is condemned to die, he is either trodden to death by elephants, or empaled. Besides those in jails, many prisoners in fetters are seen going about the town. The king has three wives, and many concubines, who are very closely kept, and his women are his chief counsellors.

The king has many galleys, an hundred, as I think, some of them so large as to carry four hundred men. These are all made like wherries, very long, narrow, and open, without deck, forecastle, or poop, or any upper works whatever. Instead of oars, they have paddles, about four feet long, made like shovels, which they hold in their hands, not resting them on the gunwales, or in row-locks, as we do. The galleys have no ordnance; yet with these he holds all his neighbours under subjection. His admiral is a woman, as he trusts no man with that high office. Their weapons are bows and arrows, javelins, swords, and targets, having no defensive armour, and fighting entirely naked. They have a great many pieces of brass ordnance, which they fire lying on the ground, using no carriages. Some of these are the greatest I ever saw, and the metal of which they are made is said to be rich in gold. The great dependence of his land-force is in the elephants.

These people boast of being descended from Abraham, through Ismael, the son of Hagar, and can distinctly reckon the genealogies in our Bible. They follow the Mahometan religion, and use rosaries, or strings of beads, in praying, like the papists. They bring up their children in learning, and have many schools. They have an archbishop, and other spiritual dignitaries. There is a prophet in Acheen, who is greatly honoured, and is alleged to have the spirit of prophecy, like the ancients. This person is distinguished from all the rest by his dress, and is in great favour with the king. The natives are entirely addicted to commerce, in which they are very expert; and they have many mechanics or artisans, as goldsmiths, cannon-founders, shipwrights, tailors, weavers, hatters, potters, cutlers, smiths, and distillers of aquavitae [arrak], which is made from rice, as they must drink no wine.

Every family or tribe has its own particular place of burial, which are all in the fields. The bodies are all deposited in graves, with the heads laid towards Mecca, having a stone at the head, and another at the feet, curiously wrought, so as to designate the rank and worth of each person. In the burial-place of the kings, as we were told, every grave has a piece of gold at the head, and another at the feet, each weighing 500 pounds, curiously embossed and carved. I was very desirous to see this royal cemetery, because of its great riches, but could not obtain permission; yet am disposed to believe it to be true, as the reigning king has made two such costly ornaments for his own grave, which are almost finished. They are each of gold, a thousand pounds weight a-piece, and are to be richly ornamented with precious stones.[41]

The people who trade to this port are from China, Bengal, Pegu, Java, Coromandel, Guzerata, Arabia, and Rumos. Rumos is in the Red-Sea, whence Solomon sent his ships to Ophir for gold; which Ophir is now Acheen, as they affirm upon tradition; and the Rumos people have followed the same trade from the time of Solomon to this day.[42] Their payments are made in different denominations, called cash, mas, cowpan, pardaw, and tayel. I only saw two sorts of coin, one of gold, and the other of lead: The gold coin, or mas, is of the size of a silver-penny, and is as common at Acheen as pence are in England. The other, of lead, called cash, is like the little leaden tokens used in London by the vintners: 1600 cashes make one mas; 400 cashes make a cowpan, and four cowpans a mas; five mases are equal to four shillings sterling; four mases make a pardaw, and four pardaws a tayel. Hence one mas is 9-3/5d. sterling; one pardaw, 3s. 2-2/5d.; one tayel, 12s. 9-3/5d.; one cowpan, 2-3/5d.; and one cash is a two-hundredth part of a penny. Pepper is sold by the Bahar, which is 360 English pounds, for 3l. 4s. Their pound is called catt, being twenty-one of our ounces; and their ounce is larger than ours in the proportion of sixteen to ten. They sell precious stones by a weight named masse, 10-3/4 of which make an ounce.

Once every year they have the following strange custom, which happened while we were there. The king and all his nobles go in great pomp to the church, or mosque, to see if the Messias be come. On that occasion, I think, were at least forty elephants, all richly covered with silk, velvet, and cloth of gold, several nobles riding on each elephant. One elephant was exceedingly adorned beyond the rest, having a little golden castle on his back, which was led for the expected Messias to ride upon. On another elephant, the king sat alone in a little castle, so that the whole made a very splendid procession; in which some bore targets of pure massy gold, others large golden crescents, with streamers, banners, ensigns, drums, trumpets, and various other instruments of music. Going to the church with great solemnity, and using many ceremonies, they looked into the church, and not finding the Messias there, the king descended from his own elephant, and rode home on that prepared for the Messias. After which, the day was concluded with great feastings, and many pleasant sports.

The island of Sumatra is divided into four kingdoms, Acheen, Pedier, Monancabo, and Aru, of which Acheen is the chief, Pedier and Monancabo being tributary to it; but Aru refuses subjection, and adheres to the king of Johor, in Malacca. I only heard of five principal cities in this island, Acheen, Pedier, Pacem [Pisang], Daia [perhaps Daga], and Monancabo.

I now return to our proceedings after the slaughter of Acheen. On the 10th September we anchored at the islands of Pulo Lotum, in lat. 6° 50' N. near the coast of the kingdom of Queda, where we watered, and procured refreshments. There were in our ship three sealed letters, superscribed A.B.C. which were to be opened on the death of our baas, or captain. On opening that marked A. one Thomas Quymans was appointed our chief; but, as he was slain at Acheen, we opened B. by which Guyan Lafort, who escaped death by bringing the message from the king to us at Pedier, was nominated our chief, and was accordingly received by us in that capacity. The letter marked C. was not opened.

Leaving Pulo Lotum on the 30th September, we sailed for Acheen, for the purpose of endeavouring to recover our men who were there in captivity. We came in sight of Acheen on the 6th October, and got into the bay on the 12th, where twelve of their galleys set upon us. We got up with one of them, and gave her several shots; but, as the weather was very calm, she escaped from us under the land, and the rest did not dare to approach us, for they are proud base cowards. On the 18th, we set sail for Tanaserim,[43] which is a place of great trade, and anchored among the islands in the bay belonging to that place, in lat. 11° 20' N. on the 25th. We were here so much crossed by contrary winds, that we could not get up to the city, which stands twenty leagues within the bay; and, being in great distress for provisions, we made sail for the Nicobar islands, hoping there to find relief. We anchored at these islands on the 12th November, in lat. 8° N. when the people brought us off great abundance of poultry, oranges, lemons, and other fruit, with some ambergris, which we paid for in pieces of linen cloth and table napkins. These islands consist of pleasant and fertile low land, and have good anchorage for ships; but the people are very barbarous, living on fish and natural fruits, not cultivating the ground, and consequently having no rice.

We departed on the 16th of November, shaping our course for Ceylon, being in great distress, especially for rice. By the great goodness of God, on the 6th December, we took a ship from Negapatam, on the coast of Coromandel, laden with rice, and bound for Acheen. There were in her about sixty persons, belonging to Acheen, Java, Ceylon, Pegu, Narsinga, and Coromandel. From these people we learnt that there is a city in Ceylon called Matecalon,[44] a place of great trade, where we might load our ships with cinnamon, pepper, and cloves. They also told us that there were great store of precious stones and pearls to be had in Ceylon; that the country abounded in all kinds of provisions, and that the king was a bitter enemy to the Portuguese. They likewise told us of a city called Trinquanamale [Trinconomale, usually called Trinquamalee], at which was a similar trade. They engaged that we might load our ships, and procure a plentiful supply of provisions, at either of these places, for little money; and we accordingly used our utmost possible exertions to get to them, but all to no purpose, as the wind was quite contrary. The Indians then told us, that if we would remain till January, we should meet above an hundred sail of ships, laden with spiceries, linen cloth [cottons], and commodities of China; but our commander would not agree to stay there for the purpose of war, as his commission only authorised him to trade, but proposed to remain for traffic, paying for every thing he might be able to procure. To this, however, the company would not consent; and we accordingly began our voyage homewards on the 28th of December, after beating up for sixteen days to endeavour to make Batacolo. We had discharged our prize on the 18th, after taking out most of her rice, for which our commander paid them to their satisfaction; but our men plundered the Indians of their goods and money in a disorderly manner. We took with us twelve of the Indians, belonging to different countries; and after they had been with us some time, they informed us that the merchants in the Negapatam ship had a large quantity of precious stones in the ship, hidden under the planks of her lining. How far this might be true I know not, as, for some unknown reason, Mr Tomkins and I were not allowed to go on board her.

The 5th March, 1600, our victuals were poisoned, but God preserved us; for one of our people tasting it by chance, or from greediness, was infected. It was strongly poisoned before it came to us, being fresh fish; for our surgeon took almost a spoonful of poison out of one fish. But this is not the first time, if the grieved would complain.[45] The 10th March we fell in with the Cape of Good Hope, where we encountered a heavy storm; and on the 26th we doubled that Cape.

We anchored at St. Helena on the 13th March. This island is in lat. 16° S. [15° 45'.] We here found plenty of water, with abundance of figs, and as many fish as we chose to take. At sun-set, on the 15th, a caravel came into the roads, and anchored a large musket-shot to windward of us. She was totally unprepared for fighting, as none of her guns were mounted. We fought her all night, giving her in that time, as I think, upwards of 200 shots, though, in the course of eight hours, she did not return a single shot, nor seemed to regard us. By midnight she got six pieces mounted, which she used to good purpose, shooting us often through, and slew two of our men. So, on the 16th, in the morning, we departed, having many of our men sick, and shaped our course for the island of Ascension, where we hoped to find relief. The 23d April we got sight of that island, which is in lat. 8° S. [7° 50']. But it has neither wood, water, or any green thing upon it, being a barren green rock, five leagues broad. The 24th, at midnight, we agreed to proceed to the island of Fernando Loronio [Noronho], where we knew that sufficient relief could be had, as we had stopped ten weeks there when outward-bound, when unable to double Cape St. Augustine.

We arrived on the 6th May at Fernando Noronho, [in lat. 3° 28' S. off the coast of Brazil,] where we remained six days to take in water, and to refresh ourselves. The 13th of the same month we departed, shaping our course for the English channel, and arrived at Middleburgh, in Zealand, on the 29th of July, 1600.

[Footnote 31: Purch. Pilg. I. 116. Astley, I. 254.]
[Footnote 32: Constantinople is called New Rome, and thence In the east the Turks are called Rumos.--Purchas.
[Footnote 33: It has been before remarked, that the Saldanha bay of the older navigators was Table bay. What is now called Saldanha bay has no river, or even brook, but has been lately supplied by means of a cut or canal from Kleine-berg river, near twenty-five miles in length.--E.]
[Footnote 34: This is an error, the Hotentots having been independent nomadic herders of cattle and sheep, divided into a considerable number of tribes, and under a kind of patriarchal government.--E.]
[Footnote 35: This, it must be noticed, was in the year 1599. The variation alters progressively, increasing to a maximum in one deflexion; it then retrogrades till it points true north, which it progressively overpasses in the opposite deflexion to a maximum again. But these changes do not proceed with sufficient regularity to admit of being predicted with any certainty.--E.]
[Footnote 36: There are six islands in the Comoro group: 1. Comoro, Gasidza, of Angazesio: 2. Malalio, Senbraeas, or Moelia: 3. Mayotta: 4. St Christophus: 5. Hinzuan, Angouan, or Joanna: 6. St Esprit. Which last has four inlets off its western side, and one to the N.E. of its northern end.--E.]
[Footnote 37: Cochin is in lat. 9° 56' 30" N. 8° 40', the lat. in the text falls very near Anjengo; to the south of Coulan.--E.]
[Footnote 38: The Shah bandar, signifies in Persian, the King of the Port; being the title of the principal officer of the customs.--Astl. I. 257. a.]
[Footnote 39: This place, called likewise Achin and Achien by Davis, is commonly called Achen; but in the letters from the king to Queen Elizabeth, which will be mentioned in the sequel, it is called Ashi.--Astl. I. 259. b.]
[Footnote 40: Areka is the nut, and betel the leaf in which it is wrapped, along with chunam, or lime, called sharp-chalk in the text.--E.]
[Footnote 41: In the Portuguese Asia is a story which confirms this report. George Brito, who went in 1521 to Acheen with six ships, and three hundred men, having been informed, by an ungrateful Portuguese whom the king had relieved from shipwreck, that there was a great treasure of gold in the tombs of the kings, and having made other inquiries on this subject, picked a quarrel with the king, and landed with two hundred men in order to seize it: But being opposed by the king, at the head of a thousand men, and six elephants, he, and most of his men were slain; a just reward of injustice, ingratitude, and avarice.--Astl. 1. 260. a.]
[Footnote 42: The Turks are called Rumos in India, because their chief city, Constantinople, was called New Rome. Their tradition of Ophir is more to be marked than this conceit of Rumos in the Red-Sea.--Purchas, in a marginal note.
The Egyptians might follow this trade from the days of Solomon, but the Rums, or Romans, could not, as they did not possess Egypt till long after Solomon.--Astl. 1. 260. c.
It would be too long, in a note, to enter upon any critical discussion respecting the Ophir of Solomon, which was more probably at Sofala, on the eastern coast of Africa.--E.]
[Footnote 43: Mergui, the sea-port of Tanaserim, is in lat. 12° N.]
[Footnote 44: Perhaps Batacolo is here meant, on the east side of Ceylon, in lat. 7° 45' N.]
[Footnote 45: This story is very unintelligible, as no circumstance is mentioned as to where the fish were got, nor who was suspected of introducing the poison.--E.]


Volume 7, Chapter 9, Section 10 -- Voyage of William Adams to Japan, in 1598, and long Residence in that Island.

[This section has not been included in the present South Asian collection.]


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