Volume 9, Chapter 11 -- Continuation of the Early Voyages of the English East India Company to India: *section index*

Volume 9, Chapter 11, Section 6b -- Journal of Sir Thomas Roe, Ambassador from King James I, to Shah Jehanguire, Mogul Emperor of Hindoostan, part 2

§2. Occurrences in June, July, and August 1616, from which the Character and Dispositions of the Mogul and his Subjects may be observed.

The 12th of June a resolution was taken that Sultan Churrum should go to the wars in the Deccan, and a day was fixed for his setting out on his journey, for which all the Bramins were consulted. On this occasion it is reported that Sultan Parvis, who is to be recalled, wrote to his father the Mogul, that if his elder brother were sent to assume the command, he would readily obey; but, if dishonoured by sending this his younger brother, he in the first place would fall upon him, and would afterwards finish the Deccan war.

All the captains, such as Khan-Khanan, Mahomed Khan, Khan Jeban, and others, refuse to serve under the command of Sultan Churrum, who is reputed a tyrant, of whom all men are in greater awe than of the king, more especially now that he is to have the command of the army. Yet the king cannot be persuaded to change his resolution, so that the departure of the prince, with his favourite Zulphecar Khan, is determined to take place at the distance of twenty-two days; wherefore I must make haste to finish my business, as after his departure with his minion, Zulphecar Khan, I shall have no chance to recover a single penny, nor to get any justice against him.

The 18th, the king commanded one of his brother's sons, who had been made a Christian out of policy, to bring him into hatred of the people, to touch a lion on the head which was brought in before the king. But he refused it, being afraid, on which the king desired his youngest son to touch the lion, which he did, without receiving any harm. On this the king commanded his nephew to be taken to prison, whence he is never likely again to be released.

On the 24th a son was born to Sultan Churrum, and being now preparing to set out for the Deccan wars, all men's eyes are upon him, either for flattery, gain, or envy, none for love. He has received twenty lacks of rupees, equal to £200,000 sterling, towards his expences, and begins to act with more than his usual liberality. Notwithstanding this shew of his father's affection, a khan at court endeavoured to persuade the king that this expedition would be productive of danger, as prince Parvis, whose honour would be thereby wounded, would certainly not submit without revenge. To this the king answered, "Let them fight, and he who proves the better captain shall pursue the war."

The 25th I had an audience of the king, being sent for by Asaph Khan, and was received by his majesty with much courtesy. This Asaph Khan was much in the prince's favour, wherefore I was unwilling to disoblige him, though he had given me several provocations. At this time Mukrob Khan, another of the great men, made me offers of service, being of a contrary faction to Asaph Khan, but I thought it best to endeavour to make friends of them both. Among other subjects of discourse, Mukrob told me that the English brought too much cloth and broad-sword blades for sale to India, and hardly any thing else, wherefore he advised they should forbear for two or three years, and rather bring the curiosities of China and Japan, which would be more acceptable, and to bring from England the best cloth of gold, and the richest silks wrought with gold and silver, and above all things, large quantities of Arras hangings.

The 30th I visited Abdalla Hassan, having need of his friendship; and, what is rare in this country, he refused to accept of any present. Abdalla is captain over all the soldiers maintained at court, and treasurer of all the armies. He entertained me with great civility, and few compliments, and made me sit beside him to see the soldiers shoot at marks with their bows and firelocks. Most of them hit the mark with a single bullet, being about the size of a hand, affixed to a butt. We had some discourse together about the manner of using weapons in Europe, after which I took my leave and departed.

Most of July passed in soliciting the prince to sign the articles I had presented to the king, as mentioned before. On the 13th I sent him three bottles of Alicant, and a letter concerning the difference between us and the Portuguese about trade, offering to take all the customs to farm, both inwards and outwards, for the use of the company. The prince, according to his usual barbarous custom of transacting all business in public, caused my letter to be twice read over to him by his secretary, often interrupting him with discourse, and sent word that he would read it again at night and consider its contents, and that I should have his answer through Mirza Sorocalla.

That night I went to the durbar to visit the king; who, as soon as I came in, sent Asaph Khan to say that he heard I had an excellent painter in my house, and that he wished to see some of his work. I replied, there was only a young man, a merchant, who drew some figures for his amusement, in a very ordinary manner, with a pen, but which were far from having any claim as paintings. The king said I need not fear his taking any man from me by force, as he would neither do me any injury himself, nor suffer any to be done me by others, and desired he might see the young man and his work. I answered, I had no fears of injury from his majesty, and, for his satisfaction, should bring the young man to the Guzalcan with such drawings as he might have, which were probably figures of elephants, deer, or the like.

On this the king bowed his head, saying, if I desired to have an elephant, or any other thing in his country, I had only to let him know freely what I wished, and he would give it me, for he was my friend. I made a low reverence, humbly thanking his majesty, and said that elephants were of no use to me, neither was it the custom of any person of our nation, especially of my rank, to ask anything: Yet, if his majesty were pleased to give me even the value of a rupee, I should thankfully accept it as a mark of his favour. He answered, that he knew not what I might wish for, but there were many things in his country rare in mine, and desired I might not be dainty, but speak to him freely, and he would give me such things as were most acceptable.

He then desired me to be merry, for he was the friend of our nation and of me, and should take care we had no injury done to us. He then desired me to attend that night at the Guzalcan, and to bring with me the young man who painted pictures. Then Asaph Khan wished me to send for him to come to his house, where also he invited me to go till the time when the king came out again, assuring me I should be welcome, which I agreed to. I had never before been so graciously treated by the king as now, which all the great men took notice of, and accordingly altered their deportment towards me. It so happened that the Jesuit acted as my interpreter on this occasion, by the king's appointment.

I went from the durbar to the house of Asaph Khan, according to invitation, and continued there till the king came out again, when I was conducted back, accompanied by Mr. Hughes, the supposed painter, with whom the king had some discourse. After this, I shewed the king a curious picture I had of a friend of mine, which pleased him much, and he shewed it to all his company. The king sent for his chief painter, who pretended he could make as good, which I denied, on which a wager of a horse was made between Asaph Khan and me in the king's presence, and to please him; but Asaph afterwards retracted.

After this, the Mogul fell to drinking some Alicant wine which I had presented him, giving some of it to those about him, and then sent for a full bottle, and, drinking a cup, sent it to me, saying it soured so fast it would be spoiled before he could drink it, and I had none. This done, he turned him to sleep; when all the candles were put out, and I had to grope my way out in the dark.

This day, a gentlewoman attendant upon Noor-mahal was taken in the king's house in some improper act with an eunuch, when another animal of the same kind, who loved her, slew her paramour. The poor woman was set up to the arm-pits in the ground, with the earth hard rammed around her, being condemned to remain there three days and two nights in that situation, without sustenance, her head and arms exposed to the violence of the sun. If she survived, she was then to be pardoned. The eunuch was condemned to the elephants. This damsel was found to be worth, in pearls, jewels, and money, sixteen lack of rupees.[201]

On the 22nd, I had letters from Burhanpoor in answer to those I had written to Mohabet Khan, who granted my desire of a firmaun in favour of our nation, granting them a house near the governor's, strictly commanding that no person should molest them by sea or land, neither to exact from them any customs, or to give them trouble on any pretence, with entire liberty to buy, sell, and transport any commodities at their pleasure, without let or hindrance. I received this in a letter from himself, full of civility and kindness, far exceeding any I had hitherto met with in India, protesting the highest respect, and his earnest wish to give me every content in whatever I might desire.

I caused this firmaun to be immediately sent to Surat, so that Broach is now provided as a good retreat from the prince's injuries, and the customs given up, by which £1500 a year will be saved, besides all manner of searches and extortions. No person doubts the performance of this firmaun, as Mohabet Khan cares not for the prince, and fears no man, neither needs he any person's favour, being much beloved of the king, and reckoned the second man in the empire. He has all his life been liberal of his purse, and honourable in his word, so that he has the good report of all men. In regard to the customs on trade, as the king takes none, and the governors convert them to their own profit, he professes to scorn abusing the liberties of the king's ports.

On the 6th of August I was sent for to the durbar, where I had much talk with the king, who asked me many questions to satisfy his curiosity, and desired me to come to the Guzalcan at night, when I should see my picture so exactly copied, that I should not know the copy from the original. He asked me what reward I would give the painter who had made the copy so like, to which I answered, I would give fifty rupees, a painter's reward. To which the king replied, that his painter was a gentleman, and my proffered reward was too small. I said, that I gave the picture willingly, esteeming it rare, and had no inclination to make comparisons or wagers; and that, if his majesty's servant had performed well, and would not accept my gift, his majesty was most fit to reward him.

So, after many merry jests, and brags of the arts in his dominions, his majesty asked me how often I drank in the day, and how much, and what we drank in England. Mentioning beer, he asked what beer was, how it was made, and whether I could make it here in India. To all of which serious state questions I answered to his satisfaction.

He sent for me again at night, being impatient to triumph in the skilful execution of his painter, and shewed me six pictures, all pasted on one board, one being my own, and the other five done by his artist, and all so like, that by candle-light I was at some loss to determine which was which, being greatly beyond my expectation. At length, by closer inspection, I pointed out my own, and explained the differences between it and the copies, which were not apparent to an inexperienced eye.

The king was much pleased that I had not seen the difference at first sight, for which he was full of mirth, and exulted over me. I gave him way, and satisfied him much by praising his painter, saying that I saw his majesty needed no pictures from our country. He then asked me what reward I would give his painter. To which I answered, I would double my former offer, and if he came to my house, would give him an hundred rupees to buy a nag. The king took this kindly, but said his painter would not accept money, but some other gifts which I had before promised. I said this was referable to my own discretion.

To which he answered, that this was true, yet he wished I would name it. To this I said, I would give him a good sword, a pistol, and a picture. "Then," said the king, "you confess he is a good workman; send for him to your house, and shew him such rarities as you have, and let him choose one, in return for which you shall have any one of these pictures you please, that you may shew in England we are not so unskilful as you supposed." He then pressed me to make a choice, which I did, and which the king wrapped in paper, and placed in a little book of mine, expressing much exultation at the supposed victory of his painter.

I then shewed him a picture I had of his majesty, far inferior to the work I now saw, saying I had judged from it, supposing it among the best. When told where I got it, he asked why I bought any such thing. "Have not I the best, and have not I told you that I would give you anything you desired?" I thanked his majesty, but said I held it impertinent for me to trouble him in trifles, especially as a beggar. To this he replied, that it was no shame to ask from him, and desired me to speak freely at all times, and pressed me to ask for something. To this I answered, that I would not make choice of any gift, as whatever he was pleased to give, I would joyfully accept as a mark of honour.

He then said, if you desire my picture, I will either give you one for yourself or for your king. To this I answered, that if his majesty thought proper to send one to my king, I would gladly carry it, and knew that my sovereign would esteem it much, and take it as a mark of friendship; but, as his majesty had emboldened me by his gracious condescension, I would humbly ask one for myself, which I would keep and leave to my posterity, as a memorial of his majesty's favour. He answered, as my king did not desire one, but I did, I should have one, and so gave immediate order for its making. He then turned himself to sleep, and we had to go out as before, in the dark.

The 9th of August a band of an hundred robbers were brought in chains before the Great Mogul, together with their accusation. Without any ceremony of trial, he ordered them to be carried away for execution, their chief being ordered to be torn in pieces by dogs, and all the rest to be put to death in the ordinary manner. The prisoners were divided into portions, sent for execution to several quarters of the city, and executed in the streets. Close by my house, the chief was torn in pieces by twelve dogs, and thirteen of his fellows, having their hands and feet tied together, had their necks cut by a sword, yet not quite through, and their naked and bloody bodies were left to corrupt in the street, to the annoyance of the whole neighbourhood.

On the 10th, 11th, and 12th, I was occupied at court in giving notice to the king and prince that a Dutch ship lay before Surat, and refused to give notice of its object till the arrival of a fleet to which it belonged, which was expected with the first fair wind. I took advantage of this circumstance to make them apprehensive of the designs of the Hollanders, and the dangers that might arise from them, all of which was well taken. And, being consulted on the subject, I advised not to come to a rupture with them, and yet to exclude them from trade.

The last of these days I went to visit Gemaldin Ussen,[202] the viceroy of Patan,[203] and lord of four cities in Bengal, a man of seventy years of age, who had often been employed as an ambassador by the Mogul, had more understanding and courtesy than all his countrymen, was universally esteemed for his hospitality and regard to strangers, and was considered as entirely free from secret ambition. He had often invited me to his house, to which I went this day, and was received with extraordinary kindness and friendship. He even offered me a lack of rupees, and such other demonstrations of courtesy, as bespoke their own refusal. He offered me likewise his credit and favour with the king, and his best advice in every emergence; indeed, omitting nothing that could evince his desire to serve me.

All this seemed cordially to proceed from the heart, especially from a person of his years and experience; and in the course of our conversation he spoke so plainly of many of the chief men about the court, which from my own experience I knew for truth, that I was satisfied he was a true-hearted and well-disposed old man. He gave me much information respecting the customs of this empire, their want of laws, their servitude, the increase of the empire, and many other things, having served in grace and favour under three successive kings.

He shewed me a book containing the annals of all memorable actions in his time, which he daily committed to record, and offered me a copy if I would procure it to be translated. This also treated concerning the king's revenue, and the manner in which it was raised, besides confiscations, gifts, and deductions upon the great men. He shewed me that the government of every province paid yearly a certain rent to the king. Thus, for his government of Patna, he gave yearly to the king eleven lacks of rupees;[204] all other profits of the government being his own, he having entire power and authority to take what he thought fit. His government was estimated at 5000 horse, the pay of each being 200 rupees yearly, of which he only kept 1500 on foot, being allowed the surplus as dead pay. Besides which, he had a daily pension of 1000 rupees, and enjoyed some smaller governments. Yet he assured me that several of the great lords had double the emoluments he enjoyed, and that there were above twenty equal to himself.

In the course of our conversation, this lord praised the good prophet Jesus, and his laws, and was full of much pleasant and profitable discourse. Some days after this visit, when I thought his kindness had been at an end, he borrowed the king's banqueting-house and pleasure-garden, called Havar Gemall, a mile from town, on purpose to treat me, and earnestly inviting me, I promised to come. He went there himself at midnight, carrying his tents and all requisite furniture and provisions, and fitted up a place very handsomely, by the side of the tank, for the entertainment.

I went there in the morning, and on my arrival he came to meet me with extraordinary civility, carrying me into the pavilion he had prepared, where he had some company, among whom were two of his sons, of whom he had thirty in all. He had likewise an hundred servants attending. To amuse me, he carried me to see the king's little closets and retiring rooms, which were painted in the antique manner, having pictures of some of the French kings, and other Christian princes, on several of the panels. He said he was only a poor servant of the king, yet wished I might have some content, and had therefore invited me to a slight banquet, that we might eat bread and salt together, to seal a friendship which he entreated me to accept.

There were many great men, he alleged, who were better able to shew me kindness, but were proud and false-hearted, and he wished me therefore to trust none of them. For if I had any business to transact concerning the Portuguese or any other, they who acted as my interpreters would never deliver the truth, but only what pleased themselves, or would give satisfaction in the relation. That, therefore, I should never be rightly understood, nor be able to effect my business without being abused and cheated, nor ever clearly know the situation in which I stood, until I had an Englishman who could speak Persian, who was able rightly to deliver what I wished to have said, without using any other person.

And, if I could find any such, the king would readily grant me leave to employ him, having conceived a good opinion of me; insomuch that the preceding night, at the Guzalcan, when the jewels of Sheik Ferid, governor of Lahore, who was lately deceased, were presented to him, he remembered me of his own accord, and seeing a picture of himself which pleased him, he delivered it to Asaph Khan, commanding him to send it to me, that I might wear it for his sake, with many words of favour concerning me, which would make all the great men respect me.

While thus conversing, dinner was served. So sitting down on a carpet, a cloth was spread, divers kinds of banqueting dishes were set before us. The like was done a little on one side for the gentlemen of his company, with whom he went to eat, as they hold it a kind of uncleanness to mingle with us. Upon this, I told him that he had promised we should eat bread and salt together, and without his company I felt little appetite, whereupon he arose from the rest, and sat down beside me, and we fell heartily to our repast. It consisted of various kinds of dishes, together with raisins, almonds, pistachio nuts, and various fruits.

After dinner, he played at chess, and I walked about; and after some time spent in discourse, I offered to take my leave. But he said he had invited me to eat with him, and hitherto we had only had a collation, wherefore he entreated I might not depart till we had supped together, to which I readily consented. About an hour after, the ambassador of one of the kings of the Deccan came to visit him, whom he presented to me, using him with civility, but much inferior to the respect he had shewn me.

He afterwards asked me, if the king my master would scorn the offer of service from so poor a man as he was, and if he would vouchsafe to accept a present from a stranger, as he proposed to send a gentleman to England with me to kiss the hands of my sovereign, and to see our country. I answered him as became me, with all civility; so he sent for one presently, whom he questioned if he would venture upon such a journey, and as this person seemed willing, he presented him to me, saying he would provide some of the curiosities of the country for the king my master, and send them by this gentleman along with me. By the manner all this seemed to be in earnest.

While we thus spent our time in friendly converse, supper was brought in; and, as in the morning, two cloths were spread, one before me and my chaplain, with one merchant, on which were set various dishes of roast, fried, and boiled meats, with rice and sallads. On this occasion my honourable entertainer desired me to excuse his company, as it was their custom to eat among themselves, and his countrymen might take it ill if he did not eat with them; so he and his guests, and I with my companions, solaced ourselves with good cheer. The meats were not amiss, but the attendance and order were excellent, as the servants were very diligent and respectful.

After the manner of this country of giving presents to invited guests, he made me a present of five cases of sugar-candy flavoured with musk, and a loaf of the finest sugar, as white as snow, weighing fifty pounds, and requested my acceptance of an hundred such against my departure. He then addressed me in these terms:-- "You refuse these from me, thinking I am poor, but being made in my government, it costs me nothing, as it comes to me gratis." To this I answered, that he had already much too far obliged me, yet would I not refuse his kindness when ready to go away. On which he replied, that he might not be then provided, and therefore desired I would accept now, that he might not lose both his offer and his labour. Thus, calling himself my father, and me his son, we took leave of each other, with many compliments.

I went to visit the king on the 16th; who, as soon as I came in, called to his women, and reached out his own picture set in gold, and hanging to a chain of gold wire, with a pendant of foul pearl, which he delivered to Asaph Khan, whom I warned not to demand any reverence from me on the occasion which I would not willingly perform; as it is the custom here, when he bestows any gift, that the receiver kneels down and touches the ground with his head; and which ceremony had been exacted from the ambassador of Persia.

Then Asaph Khan came to me with the picture, which I offered to take in my hand, but he made a sign to me, to take off my hat and put it about my neck, leading me right before the king. Not understanding his purpose, and doubting he might require my conformance with the custom of the country, called sizeda, I resolved rather to forego the present than comply. He made a sign to me to return thanks to the king, which I did after the fashion of our country; on which some of the officers called for me to make sizeda, but the king immediately said, No, no, in Persian. So, with many gracious words, I returned to my place.

You may judge of the king's liberality by this mighty gift, which was not in all worth thirty pounds, yet was five times the value of such as he usually gives of that kind, and which are yet held as a special favour, as all the great men wear the king's picture, which yet none may do but those to whom it is given. This ordinarily consists of only a small gold medal, not bigger than a sixpence, impressed with the king's image, having a short gold chain of six inches to fasten it on their turbans; and to which, at their own charges, some add precious stones or pearl pendents.

Gemaldin Ussen, who had invited me to the Havaer Gemal, as before mentioned, being newly appointed governor of Sinde, came to dine at my house on the 19th, accompanied by two of his sons and two other gentlemen, and attended by about an hundred servants. He partook of some part of the banquet, which had been prepared at my house by a Mahomedan cook, but declined eating of any of the dishes which were cooked after our English fashion, though he seemed to have a good inclination, being influenced by a superstitious notion; yet he desired that four or five dishes, of his own choice, might be sent to his own house, being all baked meats, dressed in a way he had not before seen, saying he would afterwards eat of them in private, which was accordingly done.

At this entertainment, he offered us a free trade and secure residence at the chief town of Sinde, his new government; and having filled himself with my banquet, he took his leave, after receiving a small present from me, according to the fashion of the country. This day, Mr. Hall, my chaplain, died suddenly, to my great grief. He was a man of mild and gentle manners, and a most sincere Christian, of unspotted life and conversation.

On the 20th and the night before, there fell a vast storm of rain, called in this country the elephant, owing to which such prodigious streams of water flowed into the great tank, the head of which is of stone and apparently of great strength, that it gave way in one place, causing a sudden alarm that the whole fabric would give way and drown all that part of the town in which I dwelt. Insomuch that the prince and all his women forsook their house, and my nearest neighbour carried off his goods and his wife to the skirts of the hills on his elephants and camels.\

All persons had their horses ready at their doors, that they might save their lives by flight in case of necessity. We were in the utmost consternation, and sat up till midnight, having no alternative, as we thought, but to flee ourselves and abandon all our goods, for it was reported that the water would rise three feet higher than the top of our house, and carry all away, being only a slight mud building. The foot of the tank was level with our dwelling, and the water was of great extent and very deep, so that the surface of the water stood considerably higher than the top of my house, which stood in a hollow, in the very course of the water, and where every ordinary heavy rain occasioned such a current at my door as to be for some hours impassable by man or horse.

But the king caused a sluice to be cut during the night, to conduct the water by another course, so that we were freed from the extreme danger; yet the excessive rain had washed down a considerable part of the walls of my house, and so weakened it by breaches in different parts that I now feared its falling down, as much as I had dreaded its being swept away by the flood. It was every where so bemired with dirt and water, that I could hardly find a place in which to sit or lie dry, and was forced to be at material charges in having it repaired. Thus were we every way afflicted, by fires, smoke, floods, storms, heats, dust, and flies, and had no season of temperate air and quietness.

On the 27th, I received advice from Surat that the Dutch had obtained permission to land their goods, and to secure them in a warehouse at that place, carrying on trade till the pleasure of the prince were known, and under condition that they should depart at the first warning.

The king went to Havar Gemal on the 29th, whence he employed himself in hunting. At that place, a resolution was taken, to remove the court to Mundu, a castle near Burhanpoor, where there is no town. At this time, Sultan Parvis came from the Deccan wars in disgrace, and arrived with his train near Agimere; and the king commanded him to retire to Bengal, refusing to admit him into his presence.

Having thus dispatched him, without the inconvenience dreaded from a meeting between the brothers, he now proposed to settle Sultan Churrum in the Deccan wars, although all the chief men of the court were averse from this measure; on which account, the king feared to send him down, as was formerly proposed, and had therefore delayed this measure until Prince Parvis was withdrawn; and now meant to establish Churrum by means of his own presence at Mundu, in the neighbourhood of the Deccan. If this resolution is executed, it will put us to much trouble and expence, as we must build a new house both for ourselves and goods, because that castle stands on a hill, and has no buildings near it.

The king returned from hunting on the night of the 30th, and about eleven o'clock sent me a very large and fat wild boar, desiring to have the tusks back, and accompanied by a message, saying it was killed by his own hand, and therefore desiring me to be merry, and to eat it with good cheer. On this occasion, I desired Jaddow, who brought this message from the king, to tell Asaph Khan that I proposed to visit him next day, when I hoped to receive from him a firmaun of the privileges granted by the king. Asaph Khan sent me back word that they would not be then ready, but it should be sealed some days after, and that he did not wish to see me till he had given me satisfaction.

[Footnote 201: In Purchas this sum is rated in words at sixteen hundred thousand, while in Churchill it is only in figures: 160,000.--E.]
[Footnote 202: This name does not appear rightly reported, yet we have no means of correcting its orthography, neither is it of much importance. Perhaps it may have been Jemal-ul-dien Ussan Khan.--E.]
[Footnote 203: This is probably a mistake for Patna in Bengal, and he may have been Nabob, or Nawab, perhaps Soubah of Bengal.--E.]
[Footnote 204: Eleven lack, or 1,100,000 rupees, on the computation formerly assigned, are equal to £110,000. In the Pilgrims, at this place, the rupee is said to equal 2s. 2d, which would add £9166:12:4 to that sum.--E.]


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