|CHAPTER 13 -- Remarks
upon the present condition of the town of Goa.
[] *Goa* is situated in latitude 15 degrees 32 minutes, on an island of six or seven leagues circuit, upon the river Mandavi, which two leagues farther down discharges itself into the sea. The island abounds in corn and rice, and produces numerous fruits, such as mangoes, pineapples, *plantains*, and coconuts; but a good pippin [=apple] is certainly worth more than all these fruits. All who have seen both Europe and Asia thoroughly agree with me that the port of Goa, that of Constantinople, and that of Toulon, are the three finest ports in both the continents.
The town is very large, and its walls are built of fine stone. The houses, for the most part, are superbly built, this being particularly the case with the Viceroy's palace. It has numerous rooms, and in some of the halls and chambers, which are very large, there are many pictures representing each of the vessels which come from Lisbon to Goa, and those which leave Goa for Lisbon, with the names of each vessel and that of the Captain, and the number of guns with which it is armed. If the town were not so shut in by the mountains which surround it, it would without doubt be more numerously inhabited, and residence there would be more healthy than it is. But these mountains prevent the winds from refreshing it; this is the cause of great heat.
Beef and pork afford the ordinary food of the inhabitants of Goa. They also have [] fowls, but few pigeons, and although they live close to the sea, fish is scarce. As for confectionery, they have many kinds, and eat a large quantity. Before the Dutch had overcome the power of the *Portuguese* in India, nothing but magnificence and wealth was to be seen at Goa, but since these late comers have deprived them of their trade in all directions, they have lost the sources of supply of their gold and silver, and have lost much of their former splendour. On my first visit to Goa I saw people who had property yielding up to 2,000 écus of income, who on my second visit came secretly in the evening to ask alms of me, without abating anything of their pride-- especially the women, who came in *palanquins* and remained at the door of the house, while a boy who attended them came to present their compliments. You sent them then what you wished, or you took it yourself when you were curious to see their faces; this happened rarely, because they cover all the head with a veil. Otherwise, when one goes in person to give them charity at the door, the visitor generally offers a letter from some religious person who recommends them, and speaks of the wealth she formerly possessed, and the poverty into which she has now fallen. Thus you generally enter into conversation with the fair one, and in honour bound invite her in to partake of refreshment, which lasts sometimes till the following day.
If the Portuguese had not been occupied with guarding so many fortresses on land, and if, owing to the contempt they felt for the Dutch at first, they had not neglected their affairs, they would not be today reduced to so low a condition.
The Portuguese who go to India have no sooner passed the Cape of Good Hope than they all become Fidalgos or gentlemen, and add Dom to the simple name of Pedro or Jeronimo by which they were known when they embarked; this is the reason why they are commonly called in derision "Fidalgos of the Cape of Good Hope." As they change their status, so [] also they change their nature, and it may be said that the Portuguese dwelling in India are the most vindictive and the most jealous of their women of all the people in the world. As soon as they entertain the least suspicion about their women they will, without scruple, make away with them by poison or the dagger. When they have an enemy they never forgive him. If they are of equal strength and dare not come to a struggle, they employ their black slaves, who blindly obey their master's order to kill any one; and this is generally accomplished with the stab of a dagger, or the shot of a blunderbuss, or by felling the man with a large stick of the length of a short pike which the slaves are accustomed to carry.
If it should happen that too long a time is spent in tracing the man they wish to murder, and they cannot find him in the fields or in the town, then without the slightest regard for sacred things they slay him at the alter; I have myself seen two examples of this-- one at Daman, and the other at Goa. Three or four of these black slaves having perceived some persons whose lives they wanted to take attending mass in a church, discharged blunderbusses at them through the windows, without reflecting whether they might not wound others who had no part in the quarrel. It happened so at Goa, and seven men were slain near the altar, while the priest who was saying mass was seriously wounded. The law takes no cognisance of such crimes, because their authors are generally the first in the land. As for trials, they never come to an end. They are in the hands of the Kanarins, natives of the country, who practise the professions of solicitors and procurators, and no people in the world are more cunning and subtle than they.
To return to the ancient power of the Portuguese in India, it is certain that if the Dutch had never come to India not a scrap of Iron would be found in the majority of the Portuguese houses; all would have been of gold or silver, for they had to make but two or three voyages to Japan, to the Philippines, to the Moluccas, or to China, to acquire riches, and to realize [] on their return five or six fold, and even up to tenfold on the more important articles. Private soldiers as well as governors and captains acquired great wealth by trade. The Viceroy alone does not trade, or if he does, it is under the name of another; and, moreover, he has a sufficient income without it. Formerly one of the most splendid posts in the world for a noble was to be Viceroy of Goa, and there are few monarchs who are able to bestow governments worth so much as those which depend on this Viceroy....
[] The people of the country, called *Canarese* [=from *Canara*], do not hold any offices under the Portuguese save in reference to law as agents, solicitors, or scribes, and they are kept in subjection. If one of these Canarese or black men struck a white or European, there was no pardon for him, and he had to have [] his hand cut off. Both Spaniards and Portuguese, especially the Spaniards, use them as receivers and men of business, and in the islands of Manilla or Philippines there are blacks so rich that some of them have offered the Viceroy up to 20,000 croisats [=a Genoese coin] for permission to wear hose and shoes-- this was not allowed them. Certain of these blacks are to be seen with bare feet, though followed by thirty slaves, and superbly clad; and if the Portuguese had permitted them to equip vessels, and appoint the captains and other officers according to their own wishes, the former would not have made so many conquests in India, or at least would not have made them so easily.
These blacks have much intelligence and are good soldiers, and the clerics have assured me that they learn more in the colleges in six months than the Portuguese children do in a year, whatever the science may be to which they apply themselves. It is for this reason that the Portuguese keep them in subjection....
[] There are in Goa numbers of people connected with the Church, for besides the Archbishop and his clergy there are Dominicans, Augustins, Cordeliers, Barefoot Carmelites, Jesuits, and Caupchins, who are like the Recollects, with two houses of nuns, of which the Augustins are the Directors. The Carmelites, who are the last comers, are the best housed of all, and although they are a little removed from the heart of the town, they have otherwise the advantages of enjoying fresh air, and of having the most healthy house in all Goa. It is on a fine elevation, where the wind blows about it, and is well built, with two galleries, one above the other. But the Jesuits, having built a house, begged the Augustins to sell them the elevated ground, which was then unoccupied, under pretext of wishing to make a garden for the recreation of their scholars; and having at length purchased it, they built a splendid college, which shut out the convent of the Augustins, and prevented it from receiving any fresh air. They have had great disputes with one another over this matter, but the Jesuits have at length gained their case....
[] The hospital at Goa was formerly renowned throughout India; and as it possessed a considerable income, sick persons were very well attended to. This was still the case when I first went to Goa; but since this hospital has changed its managers, patients are badly treated, and many Europeans who enter it do not leave it save to be carried to the tomb. It is but a short time since the secret of treatment by frequent *bleedings* was discovered; and it is repeated, according to need, up to thirty or forty times, as long as bad blood comes, as was done to myself on one occasion when at Surat; and as soon as the bad blood is removed, which is like an apostume [=abscess], the sick person is out of danger. Butter and meat are to him as poison, for if he eats them he puts his life in danger. Formerly some small ragouts were made for the convalescent, but they must nowadays content themselves with beef-tea and a basin of rice. Generally, all the poor people who begin to recover their health cry out from thirst, and beg for a little water to drink; but those who wait upon them, who are at present blacks or Mestifs [=half-castes, Mestizos]-- avaricious persons, and without mercy-- do not give a drop without receiving something, that is to say, unless some money is placed in their hands; and to give colour to this wickedness they give it only in secret, saying that the physician forbids it. Sweets and confectionery are not wanting, but they do not contribute much to the establishment of health, which in a hot country rather requires nourishing food.
I forgot to make a
remark upon the frequent bleedings in reference to Europeans-- namely,
that in order to recover their colour and get themselves into perfect health,
it is prescribed for them to drink for twelve days three glasses of *cow's
urine*, one in the morning, one at midday, and one in the evening;
but as this drink cannot but be very disagreeable, the convalescent swallows
as little of it as possible, however much he may desire to recover his
health. This remedy has been learnt from the [] idolaters of
the country, and whether the convalescent makes use of it or not, he is
not allowed to leave the hospital till the twelve days have expired during
which he is supposed to partake of this drink.
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