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

Volume 9, Chapter 11, Section 7a -- Relation of a Voyage to India in 1616, with Observations respecting the Dominions of the Great Mogul, by Mr. Edward Terry.[222]


According to Purchas, Mr. Edward Terry was master of arts, and a student of Christ Church in Oxford, and went out to India as chaplain to Sir Thomas Roe. In the first subdivision of this narrative, we have combined the observations of Captain Alexander Childe, who was commander of the ship James, during the same voyage, under Captain Benjamin Joseph, of the ship Charles, who was slain in a sea-fight with a Portuguese carack, off one of the Komoro islands. The notes extracted by Purchas from the journal of Captain Childe[223] are so short and unsatisfactory, that we have been induced to suppress them, except so far as they serve to elucidate the narrative of Terry, in the first subdivision of this section.--E.

§1. Occurrences during the Voyage from England to Surat.]

Apologies often call truth into question, and having nothing but truth to offer in excuse for this narrative, I omit all unnecessary preface, desiring only that the reader may believe what I have faithfully related. Our fleet, consisting of six goodly ships, the Charles, Unicorn, James, Globe, Swan, and Rose, under the supreme command of Captain Benjamin Joseph, who sailed as general in the Charles, our admiral ship, fell [[=sailed]] down from Gravesend to Tilbury-hope on the 3rd of February, 1616.

After long and anxious expectation, it pleased God to send us a fair wind at N.E. on the 9th March, when we departed from that road, and set sail for the East Indies. The wind continued favourable till the 16th, at night, when we were in the bay of Biscay, at which time we were assailed by a most fearful storm, during which we lost sight both of the Globe and the Rose. The Globe rejoined us on the 26th following, but the Rose was no more heard of till six months afterwards, when she arrived at Bantam. The storm continued with violence from the 16th to the 21st.

The 28th we got sight of the grand Canary, and of the Peak of Teneriffe, which is so extremely high that it may be seen in a clear day more than forty leagues out at sea, as the mariners report. The 31st, being Easter-day, we passed under the tropic of Cancer, and on the 7th of April had the sun in our zenith. The 16th, we met with these winds called tornadoes, which are so variable and uncertain, as sometimes to blow from all the thirty-two points of the compass within the space of a single hour.

These winds are accompanied by much thunder and lightning, and excessive rains, of so noisome a nature as immediately to cause people's clothes to stink on their backs; and wherever this rain-water stagnates, even for a short space of time, it brings forth many offensive animalcules. The tornadoes began with us when in about 12° of N. latitude, and continued till we were two degrees to the south of the equinoctial line, which we passed on the 28th of April. The 19th of May, being Whitsunday, we passed the tropic of Capricorn, so that we were complete seven weeks under the torrid zone.

Almost every day, while between the tropics, we saw various kinds of fish, in greater abundance than elsewhere. As the whale, or mighty Leviathan, whom God hath created to take his pastime in the seas; Dolphins also, and Albicores, with Bonitoes, flying-fishes, and many others. Some whales were of an exceeding greatness, which in calm weather would often rise and show themselves above the water, appearing like vast rocks; and while rising, they would spout up a great quantity of water into the air, with much noise, which fell down again around them like heavy rain.

The dolphin is called, from the swiftness of its motion, the arrow of the sea. This fish differs from many others, in having teeth on the top of its tongue. It is pleasing to the eye, the smell, and the taste, having a changeable colour, finned like a roach, covered with very small scales, giving out a delightful scent above all other fishes, and is in taste as good as any. These dolphins are very apt to follow our ships; not, so far as I think, from any love they bear for men, as some authors write, but to feed upon what may be thrown overboard. Whence it comes to pass that they often become food to us; for when they swim close by the ships, they are struck by a broad instrument full of barbed points called a harping-iron, to which a rope is fastened, by which to pull the instrument and the fish on board. This beautiful dolphin may be taken as an emblem of a race of men, who, under sweet countenances, carry sharp tongues.

The bonitoes and albicores are much like our mackerels in colour, shape, and taste, but grow to a very large size. The flying-fishes live the most unhappy lives of all others, as they are persecuted in the water by the dolphins, bonitoes, and albicores, and when they endeavour to escape from their enemies in the water, by rising up in flight, they are assailed by ravenous fowls in the air, somewhat like our kites, which hover over the water in waiting for their appearance in the other element. These flying-fishes are like men who profess two trades and thrive in neither.

Early in the morning of the 12th June, we espied our long-wished-for harbour, the bay of Saldanha [Table-bay], about twelve leagues short from the Cape of Good Hope, into which we came happily to anchor that same forenoon. We here found one of the Company's ships, the Lion, commanded by Captain Newport, come from Surat, and homeward bound for England. We made ourselves merry with each other on this happy meeting; and having a fair gale, the Lion sailed on the night of the 14th.

We found here water in abundance, but little refreshments for our sick men, except fresh fish, as the natives brought us nothing. We remained in this harbour till the 28th, on which day we departed, the Swan steering her course for Bantam. The 29th we doubled the Cape of Good Hope, in the lat. of 35° S. Off this cape there continually sets a most violent current to the westwards, whence it happens, when it is met by a strong contrary wind, their impetuous opposition occasions so rough a sea that some ships have been swallowed up, and many more endangered among these mountainous waves. Few ships pass this way without encountering a storm.

The 22nd of July we got sight of the great island of Madagascar, commonly called of St. Lawrence, being between that island and the main, but touched not there. Proceeding on our course, on the 1st of August we fell in with a part of the main land of Africa, called Boobam,[224] in lat. 16° 35' S., the variation being 13° 12'. The 5th we drew near the little islands of Mohelia, Gazidia, and St. Juan de Castro [Moelia, Hinzuan or Johanna, Mayotta or St. Christopher, and Augasi], generally known by the name of the Komoro islands, in about the lat. of 12° S.

Early in the morning of the 6th of August, our men in the tops looking out for land, espied a sail about three or four leagues off directly in our course. About noon, the Globe, which was our smallest ship, and sailed better than the rest of the fleet, came up with her on the broadside to windward, and hailed her according to the custom of the sea, asking whence she came. She answered, indirectly, that she came from the sea, and her people insulted ours most outrageously, calling them thieves, rogues, heretics, and devils; and, in conclusion of their rude compliments, spoke in the loud language of the cannon's roar, discharging seven pieces of large artillery at our Globe, six of the balls piercing her hull, and maiming some of her men, but killing none. Our Globe replied in the same voice, and afterwards fell astern and stood in for our general and the rest of our fleet, now four sail in all, shewing us the discourtesy of the Portuguese.

About three in the afternoon, the Charles, our admiral, came up with the Portuguese ship, which was the admiral of the caracks that sailed this year from Lisbon, but had parted from all the rest of their fleet. When within pistol-shot, Captain Benjamin Joseph, our commander, proceeded deliberately to work, offering treaty before he attempted revenge. So we saluted her with our trumpets, to which she replied with her wind-instruments.

Captain Joseph then called out, that their commander might come on board, to make satisfaction for the wrong they had done to our consort. They made answer, that they had no boat; on which our general said he would send them one, and immediately caused his barge to be manned and sent to the carack, which brought back one of their officers and two mean men, with this answer from their commander, that he had resolved never to leave his ship, to which he might be forced, but would not be commanded to leave her.

On receiving this message, Captain Joseph used them civilly who had brought it, and commanded them to be shown our ship, and how she was prepared to vindicate our honour. This made the poor Portuguese much afraid, and they desired Captain Joseph to write a few words to their commander, which, added to their persuasions, might perchance induce him to come to terms. Willing to preserve his honour, and to prevent the effusion of blood, Captain Joseph caused a few words to be written to the Portuguese commander, to the following effect:-- "Whereas the commander of the carack has offered violence to our ship the Globe, while sailing peaceably beside him, he is desired to come aboard immediately, and give satisfaction for that wrong, or else at his peril," &c.

He then sent back the Portuguese, accompanied by one of our master's mates, carrying the writing, together with this verbal message, "That if he refused to come, he would force him, or sink by his side." The words of dying men are said to be prophetic, so these his words came to pass, for he was slain not long after by a great shot from the carack.

Notwithstanding this message, the Portuguese commander remained firmly to his resolute answer. Wherefore, on the return of our men, Captain Joseph himself fired the three first shots, which surely did them much mischief; as we conjectured, by the loud outcry we heard among them after these shots were fired. The shot now flew thick from both sides; and our captain, cheering his men to behave gallantly, ascended the half-deck, where he had not been above ten minutes when a great shot from the quarter of the carack deprived him of life in the twinkling of an eye. It hit him fair in the breast, beating his heart and other parts out of his body, which lay round him among his blood.

After he was slain, our master continued the fight for about half an hour, when, considering that another person was to succeed in the supreme command, and the night approaching, he thought proper to desist, and having fallen astern, he hung out a flag as a signal of council, to call the captain of the vice-admiral on board, Captain Henry Pepwell, who was to succeed, together with the other masters, that they might consult about the prosecution of this enterprize. As the night was now come, it was resolved not to proceed any farther for the present. So the carack proceeded on her course, putting up a light on her poop, as if in defiance of us to follow, and about midnight came to anchor under the island of Moelia; and when we perceived this island, we too let fall our anchors.

Early in the morning of the 7th, before day began to dawn, we prepared for a new assault, first recommending ourselves to God in prayer. When morning came, we found the carack so close to the shore, and the nearest of our other ships at least a league from us, that we held our hands for that day, waiting till the carack might weigh and stand out to sea, as fitter there to deal with her. In the afternoon, we chested our slain commander, and committed him to the deep, over against the isle of Moelia, omitting any ceremony of firing funeral-guns usual on such occasions, that the enemy might not know our loss.

A little before night the carack put to sea, when we also weighed and made sail after her. The day now left us, and our proud enemy, unwilling, as it seems, to have the appearance of escaping by flight, put forth a light on his poop as before, as if for us to follow him, which we did to some purpose. The night being well spent, we again commended ourselves and our cause to God in prayer. Soon afterwards, the day began to dawn, and appeared as if covered by a red mantle, which proved a bloody one to many who now beheld the light for the last time.

It was now resolved that our four ships were to take their turns in succession, to endeavour to force this proud Portuguese either to bend or break. Our ship, the Charles, played her part first[225]; and ere she had been half an hour engaged with her adversary, a shot from the carack hitting one of our iron guns on the half-deck, flew all in pieces, dangerously wounding our new general, and three other mariners who stood beside him. Captain Pepwell's left eye was beaten out, and he received two other wounds in his head, and a third in his leg, a ragged piece of the broken shot sticking fast in the bone, which seemed, by his complaining, to afflict him more than the rest. Thus was our new commander welcomed to his authority, and we all considered his wounds as mortal; but he lived till about fourteen months afterwards, when he died peaceably in his bed, on his way back to England.

By the same shot, Mr. Richard Hounsell, the master of our ship, had a great piece of the flesh of his arm carried off, which rendered him unserviceable for a time. The captain and master being thus disabled, deputed their authority to the chief master's mate, who behaved with great prudence and resolution. Thus we continued one after the other to fight all day, the vice-admiral and the Globe and James taking their turns in succession. Between three and four in the afternoon, the mainmast of the carack fell overboard, and presently afterwards the foremast and mizen followed, and she had received so many and large wounds in her thick sides, that her case was quite desperate, and she must soon either yield or perish.

Her commander, Don Emanuel de Meneses, a brave and resolute person, stood in for the shore in this distressed condition, being not far from the island of Gazidia.[226] We pursued as far as we durst venture, without hazard of shipwreck, but gave over at five o'clock, when about a league from the shore, which is extremely steep, and no ground to be had within less than a cable's length of the rocks, the shore being moreover to leeward.

We now sent off our barge with a flag of truce to speak the carack, and as he waved us with a similar flag, Mr. Connock, our chief merchant, who was employed on this occasion, boldly went aboard the carack, and delivered a message to Don Emanuel, stating that he brought an offer of life and peace if he would accept it; and as he deserved well for his undaunted valour, so he should be honourably and respectfully treated if he would put himself into our hands, and sent to Goa in safety.

He, however, as an oak gathering strength from his wounds,[227] and contemning the misery he could not prevent, resolutely answered Mr. Connock to the following purpose: "That no misfortune should make him alter his former resolution; for he was determined again to stand out to sea, if possible, and to encounter us again; and then, if forced by fire and sword, he might by bad chance be taken, but he would never yield; and, if taken alive, he hoped to find the respect due to a gentleman, till when we had our answer."

Our messenger was thus dismissed, and shortly afterwards this sore distressed ship, being entirely unmanageable for want of masts and sails, was forced by the winds and waves upon the adjacent island of Gazidia or Komoro, where she stuck fast between two rocks. Those who remained alive in the carack got ashore by means of their boats; and when all were landed, willing, as it would seem, to consume what they could not keep, they set their carack on fire, that she might not become our prize.[228]

After leaving their ill-fated carack, the poor Portuguese were most inhumanly used by the barbarous islanders, who spoiled them of everything they had brought on shore for their succour, and slew some of them for opposing their cupidity. Doubtless they had been all massacred, had they not been relieved by two small Arab vessels who were there engaged in trade, and which, I suppose in hope of a great reward, took them in, and conveyed them in safety to their own city of Goa.

In the morning of the 9th, Mr. Alexander Childe, who commanded one of the English ships, sent his mate, Anthony Fugars, ashore in his long-boat, to see if any of the Portuguese were saved, to fetch such away, and to learn how she was set on fire. But the carack was still burning, and not a man belonging to her was to be seen. There were many negro islanders on the coast, over against the carack, who held up a flag of truce to invite the English on shore, but it was impossible to land in that place, or any where within three leagues to the east or west, as the rocks were all extremely high and rugged.

In this long conflict, only five men were lost out of our four ships, three belonging to the admiral, and two out of the James. Besides whom, there were about twenty wounded in our fleet, all of whom afterwards recovered. But of 700 who sailed in the carack, there came not above 250 to Goa, as we were afterwards credibly informed. In this fearful engagement, our ship, the Charles, discharged 375 great shot against the adversary, as reported by our gunners, besides 100 musqueteers who plied their small arms all the time. Neither were the enemy idle, for our ship received at least 100 great shot from them, many of which dangerously took place in her hull. Our foremast was shot through the middle, our mainmast wounded, the main stay, and many of the main shrouds, cut asunder.

After we had seen the carack set on fire, which was about midnight of the 8th, we stood off and on till morning, to see if we might find anything in her ashes. Finding this ineffectual, we sought about for some place where we might find succour and refreshment for our sick and wounded on shore. The land was very high, and the sea every where too deep for anchoring, so that it was the 10th before we could find a good harbour, which was in the S.W. part of the island, where we anchored. The James came to anchor in twenty-two fathoms, with one of her anchors, while the other was only in fourteen. This harbour was over against a town called Mattoma.

This island seemed very pleasant, full of goodly trees, covered all over with green pasture, and abounding in beeves [[=cattle]], goats, poultry, sugar-canes, rice, plantains, lemons, oranges, and cocoa-nuts, with many other wholesome things; of all which we procured sufficient to relieve our whole company, for a small quantity of white paper, a few glass beads, and penny knives. For instance, we bought as many oranges as would fill a hat for half a quarter of a sheet of white paper, and all other kinds of provision in the same proportion. The islanders brought much of their fruits to us in their little canoes, which are long and narrow boats, like troughs, hollowed out of single trees; but their cattle we bought on shore.

I observed the people to be straight, well-limbed, and able-bodied men, of a very dark tawny colour. Most of the men, and all the women, were entirely naked, except merely enough to hide their parts of shame. Some few of the men wore long garments, after the fashion of the Arabs, whose language they spoke, and were likewise of the Mahometan religion, and so rigid, that they would not suffer us to come near their places of worship. They have good convenient dwellings, and fair sepulchres for their dead.

They scorned to live under strict obedience to a king, whose residence was some miles up the country, as they required to have his leave, which was sent for, before they would sell us any provisions. When informed of our arrival, their king sent a message of welcome to our commander, together with a present of beeves, goats, and choice fruits; in return for which he was well recompensed and contented, by a present of paper, and other English toys. We saw some Spanish money among them, of which they made so small account, that some of our men got rials of eight, in exchange for a little paper, or a few beads. What use they made of the paper, we could not guess.

The cocoa-nut tree, of which this island has abundance, may have the pre-eminence of all trees, in my opinion, by its universal usefulness. Without the help of any other, one may build and furnish out a ship for sea, with everything requisite. Of the body of this tree may be made timbers, planks, and masts; its gum may serve for paying [[=waterproofing]] the bottom; the rind of the same tree will make sails and cordage; and the large nut, being full of kernel and pleasant liquor, will serve those who navigate the ship both for meat and drink, as also for merchandize.

Being well stored with these nuts, and other good provisions, after six days abode here, the breaches in our ships received in fight being all repaired, and our men well refreshed, we put again to sea on the 16th of August, with a prosperous wind. On the 24th, we passed under the line, without any heat to offend us, bending our course for Socotora, near the mouth of the Red Sea, an island whence comes our Socotorine aloes. But an adverse wind from the coast of Arabia prevented us from being able to fetch that island, which we passed on the 1st September.

In the year before, our English fleet touched at this island, on which occasion the petty king came to the water-side, and hearing some of our wind-instruments, asked if they ever played David's Psalms, which he had heard of, being a Mahometan. He was answered by one who stood by, that they did. On which he observed, that it was an evil invention of him who first mingled music with religion; as God, before that, was worshipped in heart, but by this only in sound. I mean not by this story to condemn the use of music in churches; leaving it to him who bids us praise the Lord with stringed instruments and organs, to plead that cause.

Missing our port of Socotora, we proceeded on our voyage; and, on the 4th of September, we celebrated a solemn funeral in memory of our slain commander; when, after sermon, the great guns and small arms gave a loud peal to his honourable remembrance. At night on the 6th September, to our great admiration and fear, the water of the sea seemed as white as milk. Others of our nation since, passing in the same course, have observed the same phenomenon, of which I am yet to learn the cause, as it was far from any shore, and we could find no ground.

On the 21st of September we discovered the main land of India; and on the 22nd had sight of Diu and Damaun, cities inhabited by the Portuguese. The 25th we came safely to anchor in Swally roads, within the bay of Cambay, which is the harbour for our fleet while in this part of India; when we were visited by the merchants of the Surat factory, the principal of whom was Mr. Thomas Kerridge.

[Footnote 222: Purch. Pilgr. II 1464.]
[Footnote 223: Id. I. 606.]
[Footnote 224: The head-land of Mosambique is probably here meant.--E.]
[Footnote 225: This account of the battle is chiefly taken from Terry, who is more particular in his narrative; but Childe says that Captain Pepwell, the new general, gave him leave to begin this day's action, as his ship sailed better, and that after three or four broadsides he gave place to the general. According to modern naval tactics, all four at once would have assailed the enemy, taking vantage stations on her quarters and bows.--E.]
[Footnote 226: According to Childe, it was the most northern of the islands, named Komoro, or Augasi, not far north from Moelia, where the fight began,--E.]
[Footnote 227: Duris, ut ilex tonsa bipennibus-ducit opes animumque ferro.--Terry.]
[Footnote 228: Childe says, he could not say whether she was fired accidentally or on purpose.--E.]


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