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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume VII by Robert Kerr

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by his nairs or nobles, and when he goes out is always followed by a
numerous band of minstrels, making a prodigious noise with drums,
timbrels, tambourets, and other such instruments. The wages of the nairs
are four _carlines_ each, monthly, in time of peace, and six during war.
When any of them are slain, their bodies are burned with great pomp and
many superstitious ceremonies, and their ashes are preserved; but the
common people are buried in their houses, gardens, fields, or woods,
without any ceremony. When I was in Calicut it was crowded with
merchants from almost every part of the east, especially a prodigious
number of Mahometans. There were many from Malacca and Bengal, from
Tanaserim, Pegu, and Coromandel, from the islands of Ceylon and Sumatra,
from all the cities and countries of Western India, and various
Persians, Arabians, Syrians, Turks, and Ethiopians. As the idolaters do
not sail on the sea, the Mahometans are exclusively employed in
navigation, so that there are not less than 15,000 Mahometans resident
in Calicut, mostly born in that place. Their ships are seldom below the
burden of four or five hundred tons, yet all open and without decks.
They do not put any tow or oakum into the seams of their ships, yet join
the planks so artificially, that they hold out water admirably, the
seams being pitched and held together with iron nails, and the wood of
which their ships are built is better than ours. Their sails are made of
cotton cloth, doubled in the under parts, by which they gather much wind
and swell out like bags, having only one sail to each vessel. Their
anchors are of marble, eight spans long, having two on each side of the
ship, which are hung by means of double ropes. Their voyages are all
made at certain appointed times and seasons, as one time of the year
answers for one coast, and another season for other voyages, which must
all be regulated according to the changes of the weather. In the months
of May, June, and July, when with us in Italy every thing is almost
burnt up with heat and drought, they have prodigious rains. The best of
their ships are built in the island of _Porcai_, not far from Calicut.
They have one kind of vessel or canoe, made all of one piece of wood
like a trough, very long, narrow, and sharp, which is propelled either
by oars or sails, and goes with amazing swiftness, which is much used by

The palace of the king of Calicut exceeds a mile in circumference, and
is well constructed of beams and posts artificially joined, and
curiously carved all over with the figures of devils. It is all however
very low, for the reason before-mentioned, as they cannot dig deep for
secure foundations. It is impossible to express in words the number and
riches of the pearls and precious stones which the king wears about him,
which exceed all estimate in regard to their value. Although, when I was
in that place, the king lived rather in a state of grief, both on
account of the war in which he was engaged with the Portuguese, and
because he was afflicted by the venereal disease which had got into his
throat, yet his ears, hands, legs, and feet, were richly garnished with
all sorts of jewels and precious stones, absolutely beyond description.
His treasure is so vast, that it cannot be contained in two immense
cellars or warehouses, consisting of precious stones, plates of gold,
and other rich ornaments, besides as much, gold coin as might load an
hundred mules, as was reported by the Bramins, to whom these things are
best known. This treasure is said to have been hoarded up by twelve
kings, his predecessors. In this treasury there is said to be a coffer
three spans long and two broad, entirely full of precious stones of
inestimable value.

Pepper is gathered in the fields around the suburbs of Calicut, and even
in some places within the city. It grows on a weak and feeble plant,
somewhat like vines, which is unable to support itself without props or
stakes. It much resembles ivy, and in like manner creeps up and embraces
such trees as it grows near. This tree, or bush rather, throws out
numerous branches of two or three spans long, having leaves like those
of the Syrian apple, but somewhat thicker. On every twig there hang six
clusters about the size of dates, and of the colour of unripe grapes,
but thicker together. These are gathered in October, while still
inclining to green, and are spread out on mats in the sun to dry, when
in three days they become black, just as brought to us. The fruitfulness
of these plants proceeds entirely from the goodness of the soil in which
they grow, as they do not require pruning or lopping like vines with us.
This region also produces ginger, some roots weighing twelve ounces,
though they do not penetrate the ground above three or four spans. When
the roots are dug up, the uppermost joint is again set in the ground, as
seed for next year's crop. It and the mirabolans are found in a
red-coloured soil, and the stalk much resembles a young pear-tree.

Were I to describe all the strange fruits that are produced in this
country, it would require a large volume for that alone; as they not
only have many quite different from ours in form, taste, and flavour,
but even those kinds which are the same with ours, differ essentially in
many particulars. Natural philosophers may consider how it should so
happen that things of the same kind become so essentially different,
according to the changes of soil and climate; by which some fruits and
seeds, by transplantation to better soil, become more perfect in their
kind, as larger, fairer, sweeter, and more fruitful; while others are
improved by a worse soil and colder region. This diversity may not only
be seen in plants and herbs, but also in beasts, and even in man. It is
strange to observe how very differently some trees bear their fruits
and seeds, some in one part of the tree and some in other parts. At
Calicut there is a fruit named _Jaceros_, which grows on a tree about
the size of our pear trees. The fruit is about two spans and a half
long, and as thick as the thigh of a man, growing out of the body of the
tree under the branches, some in the middle of the tree and others lower
down. The colour of this fruit is green, and its form and appearance
resembles a pine apple, but with smaller grains or knobs. When ripe it
is black, and is gathered in December. It has the taste of a _pepon_
with a flavour of musk, and in eating seems to give various pleasant
tastes, sometimes resembling a peach, sometimes like a pomegranate, and
leaves a rich sweet in the month like new honeycombs. Under the skin it
has a pulp like that of a peach, and within that are other fruits like
soft chesnuts, which when roasted eat much like them. This is certainly
one of the finest fruits I ever met with. There is another fruit called
_Apolanda_, which is worthy of being mentioned. The tree grows to the
height of a man, having not above four or five leaves hanging from
certain slips, each leaf being so large that it is sufficient to cover a
man entirely from rain or the heat of the sun. In the middle of each
leaf rises a stalk like that of a bean, which produces flowers followed
by fruit a span long, and as thick as a mans arm. These fruits are
gathered unripe, as they become ripe in keeping. Every slip bears about
two hundred fruits in a cluster. They are of a yellow colour with a very
thin skin, and are most delicate eating, and very wholesome. There are
three kinds of this fruit, one of which is not so pleasant or so much
esteemed as the others. This tree bears fruit only once and then dies;
but there rise from the ground all about the root fifty or sixty young
slips which renew the life of the parent tree. The gardeners transplant
these to other places, and in one year they produce fruit This fruit is
to be had in great abundance, almost the whole year, and are so cheap
that twenty of them may be had for a penny. This country produces
innumerable flowers of great beauty and most pleasant flavour, all the
year round, and especially roses, both red, white, and yellow.

The cocoa is another tree most worthy of being known, as in fruitfulness
and sweetness of fruit it surpasses all other trees. Its fruit is a nut
of large size; and taken altogether, this tree produces ten different
commodities of value: as it produces wood most excellent for burning,
nuts very pleasant to eat, cords or ropes that answer well for ships,
fine cloth, which when dyed resembles silk. The wood is the best that
can be found for making charcoal, and it yields wine, odoriferous water,
sugar, and oil. The boughs or leaves serve to cover houses, instead of
tiles or thatch, as, by reason of their closeness and substance, they
keep out the rain admirably. One tree will produce about two hundred
large nuts. The outer rhind of these nuts is removed, and thrown into
the fire, where it burns quickly and with a strong flame. The inner
rhind is like cotton or flax, and can be wrought in the same manner.
From the finer part of this, a kind of cloth is made resembling silk;
and from the tow, or refuse, they make a coarser cloth, or small ropes
and twine; while the coarsest parts are made into cables and large ropes
for ships. The inner hard shell of the nut incloses the kernel, which is
excellent eating, and lines the shell to the thickness of an inch or
less. Within this is found to the quantity of two or three cups of sweet
water, which is excellent to drink, and which, by boiling, produces good
oil. Only one side of the tree is allowed to produce fruit, as they
wound the other side every morning and evening in several places, whence
a juice or sap runs out into vessels placed to receive it. Thus they
procure at each wound, every night and morning, a cupful of most
precious liquor, which sometimes they boil till it becomes strong as
brandy, so as to make people drunk like strong wine, which it resembles
in taste and flavour. They likewise procure sugar from this tree, but
not very sweet. This tree produces fruit continually, as at all times
there are to be seen upon it both old ripe fruit of the past season, and
green fruit of the present year. It does not begin bearing till five
years old, and only lives for twenty five years. It thrives best in
sandy ground, and is planted or set out like our walnuts; and is so much
valued, that it is to be found all over the country for at least two
hundred miles. This country also produces other fruits, from which they
make good oil.

For the cultivation of rice they till the ground with oxen as we do, and
at the season for sowing they have a holiday, on which they testify
their joy by singing and dancing to the sound of all kinds of
instruments of music. To ensure, as they conceive, a favourable produce,
ten men are disguised like so many devils, who dance to the noise of
their music; and after the festivities of the day, they pray to the
devils to send them a plentiful crop.

When any merchant of these idolaters is sore afflicted with disease and
near death, then certain persons who are accounted physicians among them
ore called to visit the person in extremity. These persons accordingly
come to his house in the dead of night, dressed like devils, and
carrying burning sticks in their mouth and hands. And there, with mad
cries and boilings, and with the jangling of certain instruments, they
make such a horrible noise in the ears of the sick man, as is enough to
make a healthy man sick. This is the only remedy these pretended
physicians offer to their sick persons, being merely to present to him
when at the point of death the resemblance of him whom, worse than
devils, they honour as the vicegerent of the deity. When any one hath so
engorged himself with eating as to be sick at stomach, he takes the
powder of ginger, mixed in some liquid to the consistence of syrup,
which he drinks, and in three days he recovers his former health.

Their bankers, brokers, and money-changers use weights and scales of
such small size, that the box containing the whole does not exceed an
ounce in weight, yet are they so delicate and just that they will turn
with the weight of a hair. For trying the parity of gold, they use the
touch-stone as with us, but with this addition: having first rubbed the
gold to be tried on the touch-stone, they rub over the mark with a ball
of some sort of composition resembling wax, by which all that is not
fine gold disappears, and the marks or spots of gold remain, by which
they have an exact proof of the fineness of the gold. When the ball
becomes full of gold, they melt it in the fire, to recover the gold
which it contains; yet are these men very ignorant even of the art which
they profess. In buying or selling merchandise they employ the agency of
brokers; so that the buyer and seller each employs a separate broker.
The seller takes the buyer by the hand, under cover of a scarf or veil,
where, by means of the fingers, counting from one to a hundred thousand
privately, they offer and bargain far the price till they are agreed,
all of which passes in profound silence.

The women of this country suckle their children till three months old,
after which they feed them on goats milk. When in the morning they have
given them milk, they allow them to tumble about on the sands all foul
and dirty, leaving them all day in the sun, so that they look more like
buffaloe calves than human infants; indeed I never saw such filthy
creatures. In the evening they get milk again. Yet by this manner of
bringing up they acquire marvellous dexterity in running, leaping,
swimming, and the like.

There are many different kinds of beasts and birds in this country, as
_lions_, wild boars, harts, hinds, buffaloes, cows, goats, and
elephants; but these last are not all bred here, being brought from
other places. They have also parrots of sundry colours, as green,
purple, and other mixt colours, and they are so numerous that the rice
fields have to be watched to drive them away. These birds make a
wonderful chattering, and are sold so low as a halfpenny each. There are
many other kinds of birds different from ours, which every morning and
evening make most sweet music, so that the country is like an earthly
paradise, the trees, herbs, and flowers being in a continual spring, and
the temperature of the air quite delightful, as never too hot nor too
cold. There are also monkeys, which are sold at a low price, and are
very hurtful to the husbandmen, as they climb the trees, and rob them of
their valuable fruits and nuts, and cast down the vessels that are
placed for collecting the sap from which wine is made. There are
serpents also of prodigious size, their bodies being as thick as those
of swine, with heads like those of boars; these are four footed, and
grow to the length of four cubits, and breed in the marshes[82]. The
inhabitants say that these have no venom. There are three other kinds of
serpents, some of which have such deadly venom, that if they draw ever
so little blood death presently follows, as happened several times while
I was in the country. Of these some are no larger than asps, and some
much bigger, and they are very numerous. It is said that, from some
strange superstition, the king of Calicut holds them in such veneration,
that he has small houses or cottages made on purpose for them,
conceiving that they are of great virtue against an over abundance of
rain, and overflowing of the rivers. Hence they are protected by law,
and any person killing one would be punished with death, so that they
multiply exceedingly. They have a strange notion that serpents come from
heaven, and are actuated by heavenly spirits, and they allege that only
by touching them instant death insues. These serpents know the idolaters
from the Mahometans, or other strangers, and are much more apt to
attack the former than the latter. Upon one occasion, I went into a
house where eight men lay dead, and greatly swollen, having been killed
the day before by these serpents; yet the natives deem it fortunate to
meet any of them in their way.

[Footnote 82: From the description these must be crocodiles--E.]

The palace of the king of Calicut contains many mansions, and a
prodigious number of apartments, in all of which a prodigious number of
lamps are lighted up every evening. In the great hall of the palace
there are ten or twelve great and beautiful candlesticks of _laton_ or
brass, of cunning workmanship, much like goodly fountains, the height of
a man. In each of these are several vessels, and in every vessel are
three burning candles of two spans long, with great plenty of oil. In
the first vessel there are many lamps or wicks of cotton; the middle
vessel, which is narrower, is also full of lamps; and the lowest vessel
has also a great number of lights, maintained with oil and cotton wicks.
All the angles or corners of these candlesticks are covered with figures
of devils, which also hold lights in their hands; and in a vessel on the
top of all the candlesticks there are innumerable cotton wicks kept
constantly burning, and supplied with oil. When any one of the royal
blood dies, the king sends for all the bramins or priests in his
dominions, and commands them to mourn for a whole year. On their
arrival, he feasts them for three days, and when they depart gives each
of them five pieces of gold.

Not far from Calicut, there is a temple of the idolaters, encompassed
with water like an island, built in the ancient manner, having a double
row of pillars much like the church of _St John de fonte_ at Rome, and
in the middle of this temple is a stone altar, on which the people
sacrifice to their idols. High up between the rows of pillars there is a
vessel like a boat, two paces long, and filled with oil. Also, all round
about the temple there are many trees, on which are hung an incredible
number of lamps, and the temple itself is everywhere hung round with
lamps, constantly burning. Every year, on the 25th of December, an
infinite number of people resort to this temple, even from fifteen days
journey all round the country, together with a vast number of priests,
who sacrifice to the idols of the temple, after having washed in the
water by which it is surrounded. Then the priests ascend to the boat
which is filled with oil, from which they anoint the heads of all the
people, and then proceed to the sacrifice. On one side of the altar,
there is a most horrible figure of a devil, to whom the people lay
their prayers, prostrate on the ground, and then depart each one to his
home, believing that all their sins are forgiven them. On this occasion,
the environs of the temple is considered a sanctuary, where no person
may be arrested or troubled on any cause or pretence. I never saw so
prodigious a number of people assembled in any one place, except in the
city of Mecca.


_Observations on various parts of India_.

As there was no convenience for trade at Calicut, on account of war with
the Portuguese, because the inhabitants in conjunction with the
Mahometans had murdered 48 Portuguese while I was in that city, my
faithful friend and companion _Cociazenor_ the Persian, formerly
mentioned, thought it best for us to depart from thence. Indeed, in
revenge for that cruel murder, the Portuguese have ever since waged
cruel war upon Calicut, doing infinite injury to the city and people.
Wherefore, departing from thence by way of a fine river, we came to a
city named _Caicolon_[83], which is fifty leagues from Calicut. The
inhabitants of this city are idolaters, but it is frequented by many
merchants from different places, as its district produces excellent
pepper. At this place we found certain merchants who were Christians,
calling themselves followers of the apostle St Thomas. They observe
lent, or the fast of forty days, as we do, and believe in the death and
resurrection of Christ, so that they celebrate Easter after our manner,
and observe the other solemnities of the Christian religion after the
manner of the Greeks. They are commonly named John, James, Matthew,
Thomas, and so forth, after the names of the apostles. Departing thence,
after three days journey we came to another city named _Coulan_, about
twenty leagues from _Caicolon_. The king of this place is an idolater,
and has an army of 20,000 men always on foot. Coulan has an excellent
harbour, and the surrounding country produces plenty of pepper, but no
corn. By reason of the wars, we made no stay here, and on our way
farther we saw people fishing for pearls, in the manner already
mentioned when treating of Ormuz.

[Footnote 83: From the distance and direction of the journey or voyage,
this name may possibly be an error or corruption for Cranganore.--E.]

The _city of Coromandel_ on the sea coast, is seven days sail from
Coulan. It is very large, but without walls, and is subject to the king
of Narsinga, being within sight of the island of Ceylon[84]. After
passing the southern point of Cape Comorin, the eastern coast of India
produces abundance of rice. This city is resorted to by vast numbers of
Mahometan merchants from many distant countries, as from it they can
travel to various great regions and cities of India. At this place I met
with certain Christians, who affirm that the body of St Thomas the
apostle is buried in a certain place about twelve miles from the city,
where several Christians continually dwell to guard the body of the
saint. They told me that these Christians are evil intreated by the
natives, on account of the war carried on by the Portuguese against the
people of the country; and that the Christians are often murdered in
secret, that it may not be known to the king of Narsinga, who is in
amity with the Portuguese, and greatly favours the Christians. Once on a
time there was a conflict between the Christians and Mahometans, in
which one of the Christians was sore wounded in the arm. He immediately
repaired to the sepulchre of St Thomas, where, making his prayers and
touching the holy shrine, he was immediately healed by miracle, upon
which, as it is said, the king of Narsinga has ever since greatly
favoured the Christians. At this place my companion sold much of his
merchandize; but on account of war raging in the country, we determined
to depart, and calling with much danger over a gulf 20 leagues broad, we
came to the large island of _Zailon_, or Ceylon.

[Footnote 84: From other circumstances in the text, particularly the
neighbourhood of the place where St Thomas lay buried, the city here
alluded to was probably Meliapour, which formerly stood not far from
Madras, or the famous _Mahubulipoor_, the city of the great Bali, 16 or
18 miles from the English settlement. The author, as on many other
occasions, gives the name of the country to the capital. As to being in
sight of Ceylon, this may be an error in transcription, and we ought to
read that on the voyage between Coulan and the city of Coromandel; the
author passed in sight of Ceylon.--E.]

This island of Ceylon is 1000 miles in circumference, and is divided
among four powerful kings; and because of the wars which then raged
among them we could not remain long there to acquire any minute
knowledge of the country and manners of its inhabitants. It contains
many elephants. At the foot of a very long and high mountain there are
found many precious stones called _piropi_ or rubies, which are got in
the following manner. The adventurers purchase from the king a certain
measure of the ground where these rubies are found, being about a cubit
square, for which they pay five pieces of gold, yet under the condition
that there shall always be an officer belonging to the king present
while they are digging, that if any stone be found beyond the weight of
ten carats it may be reserved for the king, all under that weight
belonging to the adventurer. Not far from that mountain they find other
precious stones, as jacinths, sapphires, and topazes, besides others.
The soil of Ceylon produces the sweetest fruits I ever saw, especially
_cloves_[85] and Assyrian apples of wonderful sweetness, and its other
productions are similar to those of Calicut. The cinnamon-tree is much
like our bay, only that the leaves are smaller and somewhat white. The
true cinnamon is the bark of this tree, which is gathered every third
year, and of which the island produces great quantities. When first
gathered, it is by no means so sweet and fragrant as it becomes a month
afterwards when thoroughly dry. A Mahometan merchant assured my
companion, that on the top of a high mountain in the centre of this
island, there is a certain cave or den where the inhabitants resort for
devotion, in memory of our first parents, who, as they allege, lived in
that place in continual penitence, after breaking the covenant with God,
which is confirmed by the print of Adam's feet being still to be seen
there above two spans in length. The inhabitants of this island are
subject to the king of Narsinga, to whom they pay tribute. The climate
is temperate and healthy, though situated so near the equinoctial line.
The people are of a dark tawny colour, and wear slight cotton dresses,
having the right arm bare, as is the universal custom of the Indians;
the men being by no means warlike, neither have they the use of iron. In
this island my companion sold the king a great deal of saffron and

[Footnote 85: Cloves are certainly not found in Ceylon.--E.]

In three days sail we came to a city named _Paleachet_ or Pullicat,
belonging to the king of Narsinga, a famous mart for rich commodities,
and especially for jewels and precious stones brought from Ceylon and
Pegu, and where likewise abundance of spices are sold. Many Mahometan
merchants dwell in this city; and being received into one of their
houses, we told him whence we came, and that we had brought saffron and
coral for sale, with other merchandise, of which he was very glad. At
this city wheat is scarce, but rice is to be had in great plenty; and in
other respects the productions of the neighbouring country are much the
same as at Calicut. But as the inhabitants were preparing for war, we
departed from thence, and after thirteen days sail we arrived at the
city of _Tarnasari_ or Tanaserim, a hundred miles distant.

The city of Tanaserim is not far from the sea, well walled, seated on a
fine plain, and has a famous port on a fine river that runs past its
north side. The king is an idolater of great power, and is constantly at
war with the kings of Narsinga and Bengal[86]. He is able to bring into
the field an hundred thousand foot and as many cavalry, together with a
hundred of the largest and finest elephants I ever saw. The weapons of
his troops are swords, round bucklers, _peltes_, bows and arrows, and
javelins or darts made of long reeds; they also use for defence cotton
jacks wrought very hard and close quilted. The houses in their towns are
built close together like those in Italy. This country produces wheat,
cotton, silk of various kinds, Brazil wood, sundry kinds of fruit like
those of Italy, with Assyrian apples, oranges, lemons, citrons, gourds,
cucumbers, and many others. It has many animals both wild and tame.
Among the former are oxen and cows, sheep, goats, hogs, and deer. The
wild beasts are lions, wolves, catamountains, and musk cats or civets.
In the woods are many peacocks and falcons, with popinjays or parrots,
some of which are entirely white, while others are of seven different
colours. There are plenty of hares and partridges, and several kinds of
birds of prey larger than eagles. These birds are black and purple, with
several white feathers intermixed, having yellow bills tipt beautifully
with crimson, which are so large that the handles of swords are
sometimes made of the upper mandible. Their cocks and hens are the
largest I ever saw, and both the natives and the Mahometans who dwell
there, take great delight in cock-fighting, on which they venture large
sums. I have seen them fight for six hours, yet will they sometimes
kill at the first stroke. Some of their goats are much larger and
handsomer than ours, and of these the females have often four kids at
one birth. So abundant are animals in this country, that twelve sheep
may be bought for a single piece of gold worth about a pistole. Some of
their rams have horns like a buck, and are much bigger and fiercer than
ours. Their buffaloes are not so good as those of Italy. This coast has
abundance of fine large fish, which are sold very cheap. The natives eat
the flesh of all kinds of beasts except cows, and feed sitting on the
ground without cloth or carpet, having their meat in wooden vessels
artificially wrought. Their drink is sugar and water. Their beds are
raised from the ground like ours. Their apparel is a cloak or mantle of
cotton cloth, leaving one arm bare, but some wear inner vests or shirts
of silk or cotton. All go bareheaded, except the priests, who have a
kind of caps of two spans long on their heads, with a knob on the top
about the size of an acorn, all sparkling with gold. They delight in
ear-rings, but have neither rings nor bracelets. The complexion of the
natives inclines towards fair, as the air is more temperate than at
Calicut. In their tillage and reaping there is little difference from
the manner of Italy.

[Footnote 86: It is not easy to conceive by what means this could be, as
Pegu, Ava, Aracan, and Tipera, intervene between Tanaserim and Bengal,
and the bay of Bengal between Tanaserim and Narsinga or the Carnatic,
none of the powers mentioned being possessed of any maritime force.--E.]

When the king or any of the priests or great men die, their bodies are
burnt on a large pile of wood, and all the while the assistants
sacrifice to the devil. The ashes are then gathered into earthen jars
like those of _Samos_, and are preserved or buried in their houses.
While the bodies are burning, they cast into the fire all manner of
perfumes, as wood of aloes, myrrh, frankincense, storax, sandal-wood,
and many other sweet gums, spices, and woods: In the mean time also,
they make an incessant noise with drums, trumpets, pipes, and other
instruments, much like what was done of old by the Greeks and Romans,
when deifying their departed great men. Likewise during these obsequies,
there are 15 or 20 persons disguised like devils, continually walking
round the fire with strange gesticulations. All the while the wife of
the deceased stands alone beside the fire weeping and lamenting her
loss. Fifteen days afterwards she invites all the kindred of her husband
to a feast, when they go at night in a body to the place where the
husband was burnt, the widow being dressed in all her jewels and richest
attire, using on this occasion the help of her relations to decorate her
person to the utmost. At this place a pit of some size is prepared and
filled with dry reeds, covered over with a silk cloth to conceal the
pit. Then a fire of sweet woods is kindled in the pit; and when all the
guests have been heartily feasted, the widow having eaten a great
quantity of _betola_ so as to make her mad or drunk, a great company of
their musicians habited like devils, with burning sticks in their
mouths, dance around the fire, and then make a sacrifice to the great
devil _Deumo_. The widow then runs about like a person bereaved of her
senses, dancing and rejoicing after a strange manner; then turning to
the persons disguised like devils, she commends herself to their
prayers, desiring them to make intercession for her with _Deumo_, that
after this transitory life she may be received among his angels. When
all the ceremonies are finished, she takes leave of all her kindred, and
then lifting up her hands, and with a sudden loud cry, she leaps into
the flaming pit, on which her kindred cover her up with faggots of sweet
wood, and great quantities of pitch or bitumen, that she may be speedily
consumed. If the widow refuses thus to sacrifice herself, she would be
ever afterwards esteemed an evil woman, hated of all men, and even in
danger of being slain by her own and her husband's kindred. The king is
generally present at these ceremonies, which are not used at the death
of ordinary people, but only for kings, priests, and great men.

Justice in strictly administered in this country. Whoever kills a man is
adjudged to die as at Calicut. Proof of giving or receiving is taken by
writings or by witnesses, the governor of the city being chief judge. If
any merchant stranger die there without children, all his goods fall to
the king. When the king dies, he is succeeded in the throne by his
children. The children of the natives divide equally among them all the
possessions of their father. When any Mahometan merchant dies, their
bodies are embalmed with many sweet spices and gums, and being placed in
wooden coffins, they are buried with their faces towards Mecca. In their
manner of writing they use parchment as we do, and not the leaves of
trees as at Calicut. Their vessels are a kind of shallow brigantines or
barks with flat bottoms, which draw very little water. Some also use
foists having _double foreparts_[87], and two masts, but these have no
decks. They have also some vessels of large burden, even carrying a
thousand tons, in which they have several boats, and these are used when
they go to Malacca for spices.

[Footnote 87: This is not easily understood, unless it may mean that
they are so built that they may sail with either end foremost.--E.]

Having finished our business at Tanaserim, we packed up all our wares
and embarked for Bengal, distant 700 miles from Tanaserim, whither we
arrived in twelve days sailing. In fruitfulness and abundance of all
things _this city_[88] may contend for eminence with any city in the
world. The kingdom dependent upon this city is very large, rich, and
populous, and the king, who is a Mahometan, maintains an army of 200,000
men, including cavalry and infantry, with which he keeps up almost
continual wars against the king of Narsinga. This country is so
fruitful, that it possesses every thing conducive to the use of man,
abounding in all kinds of beasts, wholesome fruits, and corn. It has
spices also of several kinds, and vast abundance of cotton and silk. No
other region in the world is comparable to this, so that there are many
rich merchants. Every year there depart from hence fifty ships laden
with cloths of cotton or silk, bound for the cities of Turkey, Syria,
Arabia, Persia, Ethiopia, and India. There are also many merchant
strangers, who buy precious stones from the natives. We found here many
Christian merchants who were born, as they told us, in the city of
_Sarnau_. They had brought to this great mart wood of aloes and _laser_,
which latter yields the sweet gum called _laserpitium_, commonly called
_belzoi_, or benzoin, which is a kind of myrrh. They bring also musk and
several other sweet perfumes. These Christian merchants told us, that in
their country were many Christian princes, subject to the great khan,
who dwells in the city of _Cathay_[89]. The dress of these Christians
was of camblet, very loose and full of plaits, and lined with cotton;
and they wore sharp pointed caps of a scarlet colour, two spans high.
They are white men, believing in one God with a trinity of persons, and
were baptized after our manner. They believe in the doctrines of the
evangelists and apostles, and write from right to left like the
Armenians. They celebrate the birth and crucifixion of Christ, observe
the forty days of lent, and keep the days of several saints. They wear
no shoes, but have a kind of hose of silk on their legs, garnished with
jewels. On their fingers they wore rings with stones of wonderful
splendour. At their meat they use no tables, but eat lying on the
ground, feeding upon flesh of all kinds. They affirmed also that there
are certain Christian kings, whom they called _Rumi_, bordering on the
Turks. When these Christians had seen the precious merchandise belonging
to my companion, and particularly a great branch of coral, they
earnestly advised him to accompany them to a certain city, whither they
were bound, assuring him that by their procurement he should sell this
to very great advantage, especially if he would take rubies in payment,
by means of which he might easily gain 10,000 pieces of gold, assuring
him that these stones were of much greater value in Turkey than in the
east. And as they were ready to depart the very next day in a foist
bound for the city of Pegu, where they meant to go, my companion
consented to go with them, more especially as he expected to find there
certain Persians his countrymen. Wherefore departing with these men from
Bengal, and sailing across a great gulf to the south-east, we came at
length to the city of Pegu, which is 1000 miles from Bengal.

[Footnote 88: Here, as usual, the name of the country is given instead
of the chief city, and we have no means even to guess what place is
indicated, unless perhaps the _Satigan_ of other ancient relations,
which appears to have been a city on the Hoogly river, or western branch
of the Ganges.--E.]

[Footnote 89: The capital of Cathay or northern China is Cambalu or
Pekin, but it is difficult to make any thing of these Christian natives
of _Sarnau_, or of their many Christian princes in Tartary; unless we
may suppose Verthema to have mistaken the followers of the Lama of
Thibet for Christians, as appears to have been done by some of the more
ancient travellers in our early volumes.--E.]

The city of Pegu is situated on the continent, not far from the sea, and
upon a large river, by which merchandise are conveyed to or from the
city very conveniently. The city is walled, and the houses are well
built. The king and his subjects are idolaters, of a fairer complexion
than those of Tanaserim, as the climate is rather cooler, but in dress,
manner of living, and general appearance, in every respect resemble the
inhabitants of that other city. The king has a vast army both of horse
and foot, among whom are many native Christians, who have six pardaos of
monthly pay. The beasts and fowls are much the same as at Calicut, so
that they have abundance of animal food; and besides these they have a
few elephants. This country produces the best timber I ever saw, either
for building ships or houses; and has many reeds or canes of vast size,
as large in diameter as the body of a man or a large barrel. Civet-cats
or musk-cats are so plenty that three may be bought for one piece of
gold. This city produces very little merchandise for purchase, except
precious stones, and especially rubies, which are brought thither from
another city named _Cassela_, thirty days journey towards the east,
where also they procure other precious stones called _smaragdes_ or
emeralds. On our arrival at Pegu, the king was at the distance of
twenty-five days journey making war upon the king of Ava; but returned
shortly afterwards in great triumph on account of a victory he had
obtained over his enemy. Though this king is very rich and powerful, he
does not use such pompous and magnificent ceremony as the king of
Calicut, and is so affable and accessible, that even a child may come
into his presence and speak to him; yet the rich jewels, pearls, and
precious stones, especially rubies, with which he is decorated surpass
all belief, and exceed the value of a great and flourishing city. His
fingers are full of rings, his arms all covered with bracelets, and his
legs and feet covered with similar ornaments, all gloriously beset and
sparkling with the finest precious stones, and his ears so loaded with
jewels that they hang down half a span. With all these splendid jewels
he shines in a dark night as if with the sunbeams.

At a favourable opportunity, the Christian merchants whom we had
accompanied to Pegu gave intimation to the king of the valuable
merchandise which my companion had brought for sale, and accordingly he
sent for us on the following day, desiring my companion to bring the
goods which he had to dispose of. Among other things he had two great
branches of coral so large and beautiful as had not been seen before,
which the king took great pleasure to look upon, and being astonished at
these things, he asked the Christian merchants what men we were. They
answered that we were Persians. The king then desired to know if we
would sell these things. Upon this my companion desired the interpreters
to say to the king, that they were all his own, and that he begged he
would do him the honour to accept them freely. The king then said that
he had been two years continually at war with the king of Ava, by which
his treasure was consumed, but if my companion would bargain for them by
way of exchange for precious stones, especially rubies, that he would
content him for the coral. Then said my companion to the interpreters,
"I pray you give the king to understand that I desire nothing else for
my goods than the good-will of his majesty, and therefore that I humbly
intreat he may take of my goods what pleases him best without money or
payment of my kind." When the king heard this, he said that he had often
been told the Persians were courteous and liberal men, but that he had
never known any one so generous as this, and swore by the head of the
devil, that he would try whether he or the Persian were most liberal.
Upon this he ordered one of his attendants to bring him a casket of
precious stones. This casket was a span and a half square, entirely full
of rubies, the inside being divided into many compartments where the
stones were sorted in order according to their sizes. When he had opened
the casket, he ordered it to be placed before the Persian, desiring him
to take of these precious rubies as many as he thought fit. But my
companion, as if still more provoked to generosity by the liberality of
the king, spoke to him in these words, "Most high and honourable
sovereign! Such is my sense of your generous conduct to me, that I swear
by the head of Mahomet and all the mysteries of his holy religion, that
I freely and gladly give you all my goods. I do not travel in search of
gain, but merely from a desire to see the world; in which I have not
hitherto found any thing that has given me so much delight as the
generous favour your majesty has now been pleased to shew me!" To this
the king answered, "Will you yet contend with me in liberality?" Then
selecting some rubies from all the compartments in the casket, out of
which he took as many as he could hold in his hand, being two hundred
rubies, he gave all these to the Persian with most royal munificence,
and commanded him not to refuse. He gave also to each of the Christians
two rubies worth not less than a thousand crowns; but those he gave to
the Persian were reckoned worth a hundred thousand crowns. This king
therefore certainly exceeds all the kings of the earth in munificence,
both in manner and in richness of his gifts. About this time news came
to Pegu that the king of Ava was advancing against him with a vast army,
on which the king of Pegu went to meet him with one almost innumerable.

Two days after the departure of the king from Pegu, we sailed towards
the city of Malacca, where we arrived after a voyage of eight days. Not
far from this city is a famous river named Gaza[90], the largest I ever
saw, as it is 25 miles broad, and on the other side of it is seen the
very large island of _Sumatra_, which by old writers was called
_Taprobana_, and which is said by the inhabitants to be 500 miles in
circuit[91]. Upon our arrival at _Malacca_, called by some _Melcha_, we
were commanded to appear before the sultan, who is a Mahometan and
tributary to the great sultan of _Chini_[92], because as is said the
city was built about 80 years before on account of the convenience of
its harbour, being one of the best in the ocean, and to which doubtless
many ships resort for trade. This region is not everywhere fruitful, yet
it has a sufficiency of corn and cattle, although scarce of wood. They
have plenty of birds of the same kind with those at Calicut, but the
popinjays or parrots are more beautiful. It produces sandal-wood and
tin; likewise elephants, horses, sheep, kine, _pardalles_ or leopards,
buffaloes, peacocks, and many other beasts and birds. The country has
but few products of value, so that its only merchandise is spices and
silk. The people are of a blackish ash-colour, and are clothed like the
Mahometans of _Memphis_, otherwise called _Cayr_, _Alchayr_, or
_Babylon_, on the Nile. They have very large foreheads, round eyes, and
flat noses; and they are so much given to murder and robbery that it is
dangerous to go abroad in the night, for they kill one another like
dogs, and therefore merchants always remain on board their ships in the
night. The people are fierce, barbarous, and unruly, insomuch that they
will not submit to any governor, being altogether addicted to sedition
and rebellion, and they always threaten to quit the country when their
rulers endeavour to enforce order; which threat they are certainly able
to execute, as their country is upon the sea-coast.

[Footnote 90: It is obvious from the context, that this famous river of
Gaza refers to the Straits of Malacca.--E.]

[Footnote 91: The Taprobana of the ancients certainly was Ceylon.
Sumatra is about 977 statute miles in length, and 200 in its greatest
breadth, so that its circumference must exceed 2500 miles.--E.]

[Footnote 92: By Chini in the text is probably meant _Acheen_ in

We stopt no time at Malacca, but hiring a brigantine we sailed from
thence for the island of Sumatra, and arrived at the city of _Pyder_ or
Pedier about 80 miles from the mainland, where we found an excellent
harbour. The island of Sumatra is governed by four kings, who with their
people are all idolaters, and do not differ much in fashions, apparel,
and manner of life from the inhabitants of Tanaserim. They are of a
whitish colour with large foreheads, round eyes; and of _brasyll_?
colour. They wear their hair long, have very broad and flat noses, and
are of low mean stature. Their money is of gold, silver, and tin. On
one side the gold coin has the head of a _devil_, and on the other a
waggon or chariot drawn by elephants. The silver coin is similar, and
ten of them passes for one of gold; but it requires 25 pieces of tin to
equal one gold piece. In this country there are a greater number and
finer elephants than in any other place I have been in. The people are
by no means warlike, being entirely devoted to merchandise and gain;
they use strangers with much kindness and hospitality, and justice is
well administered. They have in this island great abundance of long
pepper, which in their language is called _Molaga_, and is much longer
and whiter than any other, yet very light and strong; it is sold by
measure like corn, and is to be had in such plenty that twenty ships are
loaded with it every year for _Cathay_, or China, where it is much in
request on account of the coldness of the climate. The tree which
produces this pepper has a larger body, with broader and flatter leaves
than the pepper tree of Calicut. This island produces plenty of silk,
which is the work of worms as with us; but there is another kind brought
forth on the trees spontaneously without any care or labour, which is
worse than the other. Here likewise grows the _laser_ tree, which
produces the precious gum called _Laserpitium_ or _Belzoe_[93], as we
were told by the inhabitants and merchants, but not having myself seen
it I am unable to give any distinct account of this substance. Variety
is always pleasing, and ingenious minds can never be satiated with
contemplating the marvellous and diversified works of God in nature:
Therefore, that the reader may take the more pleasure in these my
writings, or at least may experience less tediousness in reading them, I
have thought good to set down such things as I have seen more at large.
It is therefore to be understood that the reason of no great quantity of
_aloes_ or _Laserpitium_ being brought to us is because it comes from
the farthest parts of the earth. There are three kinds or sorts of
_aloes_, differing greatly in point of goodness. The most perfect is
that called _Calampat_, which is not found in Sumatra, but is brought
from the city of _Sarnau_ near which it grows, as we were told by our
companions the Christian merchants formerly mentioned. There is another
kind of _aloes_ called _Juba_ or _Luba_, brought to Sumatra by the
before mentioned river or strait, but I know not from what country. The
third kind is called _bochor_. These Christian merchants also told us
that none of the finest and best kind of aloes is brought to us, because
it comes from the kingdoms of _Cathay, Chini, Macym, Sarnau_, and
_Gravay_, countries much richer than ours and more abounding in gold,
having kings of great power and riches, who take great delight in sweet
savours and use them much more than our western princes, owing to which
circumstance the true and best kind of _aloes_ is worth ten crowns the
pound even in the city of _Sarnau_.

[Footnote 93: From similarity of names this appears to be _Benzoin_, or
_benzoe_, sometimes called _gum benjamin_; yet from some circumstances
in the sequel it may possibly indicate _camphor_.--E.]

We were taught by the said Christian merchants our companions, how to
know and distinguish the two kinds of the sweet gums called _aloes_ or
_Laserpitium_. One of them had a certain portion of them both, and about
two ounces of the best sort of aloes called _calampat_. Taking a piece
of this in his hand and holding it close for about as long as one might
take to rehearse the psalm _Miserere mei Deus_ three times, the aloes
become hot, and on opening his hand gave out a savour of incredible
sweetness, such as I had never experienced from any other substance. He
took also about the size of a walnut of the common _laserpitium_ or
_belzoe_, and half a pound of that which comes from the city of
_Sarnau_, and putting both into different chaffing-dishes with burning
coals in a close chamber, the small quantity of _belzoe_ far exceeded,
in sweetness of flavour, the other which weighed half a pound, and would
even have done so had it been two pounds weight[94]. In this region also
is found the substance called _lacca_ from which a bright red colour is
procured. This is the gum of a tree not much unlike our walnut tree[95].
In Pedier I saw in one street not less than 500 bankers or exchangers of
money; and at this place they make many curious works, such as fine
baskets garnished with gold, which were sold for two crowns each[96].
This is a famous mart to which innumerable merchants resort. The
inhabitants wear mantles of silk, and _syndones_? made of cotton.

[Footnote 94: It is impossible to determine from the account in the text
what is meant by these articles of sweet scent under the names of
_aloes, laserpitium, belzoe, calampat, luba_, and _bochor_; all of which
seem to be different names of the same substance in different degrees of
quality, and assuredly not the drugs now known by the name of _aloes_
and _benzoin_. There is a sweet-scented wood in the east known by the
name of _lignum aloes_, and possibly the sweet gum called _belzoe_ may
have been extracted from it, or from that which produces the oil of

[Footnote 95: Gum lac, long believed the gum of a tree, is now known to
be the work of insects, serving as a nidus for their young, in the same
manner as bees wax is used by the honey bee.--E.]

[Footnote 96: Perhaps filagree work?--E.]

This country has plenty of wood fit for the construction of ships. Those
which they build are of a strange fashion, named _gunchos_ or junks,
having three masts with two stems and two sterns, having _gouvernals_ or
rudders on both. "When sailing on the ocean and having given their sails
to the wind, if it be afterwards needful to have more sails, not
changing the first they go backwards without turning the ship and using
only one mast[97]." The natives are most expert swimmers, and have a
wonderful contrivance for producing fire in an instant. Their houses are
very low and built of stone, and instead of tiles or thatch they are
covered by the hide of a fish called _tartaruca_! which is found in that
part of the Indian sea, which is so huge a monster that one of their
skins which I saw weighed 330 pounds. There are likewise serpents in
this country much larger than those at Calicut.

[Footnote 97: This account of the mode of navigation is inexplicable, or
at least obscure. Perhaps it is meant to express that they do not tack,
but sail with either end foremost as suits the change of wind or
direction of the ship.--E.]

At this place our Christian friends, meaning to prosecute their own
affairs, proposed to take their leave of us, but my Persian companion
spoke to them in this manner; "Though my friends I am not your
countryman, yet being all brethren and the children of Adam, I take God
to witness that I love you as if you were of my own blood, and children
of the same parents, and considering how long we have kept company
together in a loving manner, I cannot think of parting from you without
much grief of mind: Besides, even if you would leave me, I hope you will
not desert this my companion who is of the same faith with yourselves."
Then the Christians asked how I, being a Persian, happened to be of the
Christian faith? To which my companion answered that I was no Persian,
but had been bought at Jerusalem. On hearing the holy name of Jerusalem
pronounced, the Christians lifted up their hands and eyes to heaven, and
prostrating themselves thrice kissed the ground; then rising up, they
asked what age I was of when brought from Jerusalem. Being told that I
was then fifteen years of age, they said I might well remember my
country; to which my companion answered that I did so assuredly, and had
often given him much pleasure by the things I had told him concerning
it. Then the merchants said that although they had long desired to
return into their own country, which was far from thence, they would
still bear us company to those places to which we proposed going.
Preparing ourselves therefore for a voyage, we took shipping and in
fifteen days we came to the island of _Bandan_ or Banda, whence nutmegs
and mace are procured.

In this voyage to the isle of Banda, we passed about twenty islands,
some of them inhabited and some desert. This island of Banda is very
low, savage, and barren, being about 100 miles in circuit. It has
neither king nor governor, but is inhabited by a savage and brutal
people, who live without law, order, or government, dwelling in low huts
scarcely rising above the ground, and having a scanty shirt for their
whole clothing. Their complexion inclines towards white, and they are of
low stature: They go bareheaded and barefooted, with their hair hanging
down, having broad round foreheads. They are idolaters, and worse even
than the _Poliars_ and _Hyrana_[98] of Calicut, being of dull
apprehension, little strength, and altogether barbarous in their
manners. The soil bears no fruits except nutmegs, which grow on a tree
very much like the peach in its branches and leaves. Before the nut
becomes ripe, the mace expands round like a red rose; but when the nut
ripens the mace closes and embraces the nut, and both are gathered
together, which the natives do without rule or order, catch who catch
may, all things being there in common. The tree yields fruit of its own
nature without grafting or pruning, and it is so common and plentiful
that twenty-six pound weight is sold for three _souses_ or half a
_carline_ of the money which is current at Calicut. These islanders have
no other order of justice than the law of nature, and live therefore
without lawsuits or any of those contentions proceeding from _thine and

[Footnote 98: These are named on a former occasion _Nirani_.--E.]

Having tarried three days in Banda, my companion asked the Christian
merchants where was the region which produces cloves, and they told him
that these were found in an island named _Monoch_ or Molucca, six days
sail from Banda. We therefore resumed our voyage, and came there in
seven days. This island[99] is very narrow, yet is longer than Banda,
and the inhabitants are even more barbarous than those of Banda, for if
it were not for the human shape, they differ in nothing from brutes.
Their colour is whiter, owing to the air being colder. This island
produces cloves, which likewise grow on several small and desolate
islands on its coast. The body of the tree resembles the box-tree, and
has leaves almost like the bay tree. When the cloves are ripe, the
inhabitants beat them off the tree with long canes, having previously
laid matts under the tree to receive them. The soil is sandy, and so low
under the horizon that the north star cannot be seen[100]. The price of
cloves is about double that formerly mentioned for nutmegs, but they are
sold by measure, as the natives are entirely ignorant of the use of

[Footnote 99: Instead of one island, the Moluccas are a group of
islands, the largest of which, Gilolo, is about 200 miles from N. to S.
On its western side are several small islands, the most important of
which for the produce of cloves are Ternate and Tidore. Gilolo was
probably the island visited by Verthema.--E.]

[Footnote 100: A strange mode of expressing that Gilolo is immediately
under the line.--E]

As we were conversing together respecting our voyages, the Christian
merchants addressed me as follows: "Dearly beloved friend, as by the
grace of God we are come thus far in safety, we will, if it so please
you go to visit one of the finest islands in the world, and so rich as
we believe you have never seen. But we must go in the first place to
another island named _Borneo_, where we shall procure a larger vessel,
as we have to cross a deep and rough sea." My companion then desired
them to do as they thought proper. Therefore hiring a larger foist, we
directed our voyage to that island, sailing to the southward both by day
and night, and passing our time in much pleasant conversation. The
merchants, among other things, asked me many questions respecting the
ceremonies and solemnities of the Christian religion as used among us in
Europe. And when I made mention of the _Veronica_ or _Vernacle_ of the
face of Christ[101], and of the heads of St Peter and St Paul, the
chiefest of the apostles, they told me secretly that if I would go with
them, I should become a great man in their country by my knowledge of
these divine things. But being deterred by the length of the journey,
and fearful that I might never be able to get home, I refused to
accompany them. At length we came to Borneo, which is 200 miles from
Molucca and is somewhat bigger[102] and as low under the horizon. The
inhabitant are idolaters of a sharp wit and decent manner of life. Their
complexion inclines towards fair. They do not all dress alike, as some
wear cotton shirts, while others have camblet mantles, and others wear
pointed caps of a red colour. They are under regular government and
submit to laws, which are righteously administered. This island yields
great quantities of _camphor_, which I was told was the gum of a tree;
but I dare not affirm this for fact, as I have never seen the way in
which it is procured.

[Footnote 101: The Veronica among the Catholics, is the handkerchief
with which our Saviour is supposed to have wiped his face during his
passion, which they allege took from his bloody sweat a miraculous
impression or portrait of his countenance.--E.]

[Footnote 102: Instead of being only _somewhat_ larger than Gilolo,
Borneo is perhaps the largest island in the world, except New Holland,
being about 880 English miles in its greatest diameter from S.W. to N.E.
and 550 in the opposite direction at the widest.--E.]

At Borneo my companion hired a light bark for 100 pieces of gold, and
having laid in provisions for the voyage, we directed our course for the
great island of _Gyava_, or Java, to which we came in five days, sailing
towards the south. Our pilot used the mariners compass with loadstone,
and the sea chart as ours do. Observing that the north star could not be
seen, my companion asked the Christian merchants in what manner they
guided their course in those seas. To this the pilot made answer, that
in navigating these southern seas, they were particularly guided by five
stars, and one other particular star which was directly opposite thee
north star, and that they also used the loadstone, which always points
to the north. He said moreover, that beyond the island of Java there was
a certain people who were antipodes to them of European Sarmatia,
inhabiting a cold climate, and as near to the antarctic pole as Sarmatia
is to the arctic, as was evident by the shortness of their day, which
was only four hours long in winter[103], in which conversation we took
much delight.

[Footnote 103: This pilot must have been acquainted with the southern
extremity of South America, or must have built this information on
hypothesis, as there is no known inhabited land of this description to
the South of Java--E.]

Proceeding on our voyage for five days, we came to the great island of
Java, in which there are many kingdoms and peoples, all idolaters, but
of sundry manners and customs. Some worship the sun, others the moon,
some consider cows as their gods, while others worship all day whatever
they first meet in the morning. This island produces silk, which grows
spontaneously in the woods, and has the finest emeralds in the world, as
also great plenty of gold and copper. The soil is as productive of corn
and fruits as that of Calicut, and has an abundance of flesh. The
inhabitants are an honest and fair-dealing people, much of the same
stature and colour with Europeans, but with larger foreheads, very large
eyes of a brazil or red colour, with flat noses, and wear their hair
long. It has a great number of birds different from ours, except
peacocks, turtle-doves, and crows, which are the same as we have. In
their dress, the natives wear mantles or cloaks of cotton, silk, or
camblet, always having one arm bare. They have no defensive armour, as
they are hardly ever at war; but when they go to sea they use bows and
arrows, and likewise poisoned arrows made of reeds, which they blow from
long hollow canes, and the poison with which these arrows are infected
is so virulent that death certainly follows from the slightest wound.
They have no kind of fire-arms. They eat all kinds of flesh, fish, or
fruit, as they please or can procure.

Some of the natives of this island are so very barbarous, that when
their parents become feeble from age, so as to be useless to themselves
and others, they bring them into the public market and sell them to the
cannibals who eat human flesh, who immediately upon buying them, kill
and eat them. Likewise when any young person falls into disease of which
they do not expect he shall recover, his kinsmen sell him in the same
manner to the cannibals. When my companion expressed his horror at this
barbarous and savage practice, a certain native merchant observed, "That
no sacrifice could redeem the sins of the Persians, who gave the flesh
of their dead to be eaten by the worms." Abhorring these savage manners,
we returned to our ship not willing to tarry longer in that island.
While we were there, the Christian merchants, who were ever desirous to
shew us strange things which we might relate at our return to our own
country, made us remark that the sun at noon-day was to the north of us,
which as they said is always the case in the month of July. I must
acknowledge however, that I hardly remember these things distinctly, as
I had then almost forgot the names of our months. At this island my
companion bought two fine emeralds for 1000 pieces of gold, and
likewise two children who were eunuchs, for two hundred pieces, as there
are in that country certain merchants who deal solely in these young

After remaining fifteen days in Java, being weary of the barbarous
manners of the inhabitants, and of the coldness of the country at that
season of the year, we determined to prosecute our voyage back to India,
as there were no other regions in these eastern parts worth seeing.
Wherefore, hiring a light bark, we departed from thence, and having
sailed fifteen days to the north-west, we came to the city of Malacca,
where we remained three days. At this place we took our leave of the
Christian merchants, with sorrowful minds and many friendly embraces. Of
this separation I was sore grieved, and had I been a single man without
wife and children[104], I certainly would never have separated from such
dear friends. Leaving them therefore at Malacca, they remained at that
place, whence they said they meant shortly to return to the city of
_Sana_[105]. My Persian companion and I went on board a foist, in which
we returned to Coromandel. While on this voyage the pilot informed us
that there were about seven thousand small islands in the eastern sea,
beyond Sumatra and Java. While at Malacca my companion bought as much
spices, perfumes of various kinds, and silk, as cost him 5000 pieces of
gold. We were fifteen days on our voyage to Coromandel, and remained
there twenty days. Hiring another foist we sailed thence to the city of
Coulan, where we found twenty-two Portuguese Christians. Fearing they
might seize me as a spy, I began to contrive how I might make my escape
from thence; but as there were many Mahometans there who knew that I had
been on the pilgrimage to Mecca, I changed my purpose, and we soon
afterwards went to Calicut by way of the river, which took us twelve

[Footnote 104: This oblique insinuation of having a wife and children,
is rather contradictory to several circumstances in the early part of
the itinerary of Verthema.--E.]

[Footnote 105: This is probably a mistake for _Sarnau_, whence the
Christians are said to have come.--E.]


_Continuation of the Author's Adventures, after his Return to Calicut._

After so many long and dangerous voyages and peregrinations, in which we
had partly satisfied our desire of travel, and were partly wearied by
the many inconveniencies we had undergone, we began to consider of the
best means for returning to our native country. I will therefore briefly
relate what happened to me by the way, that other men, taking example by
my travels, may know better how to conduct themselves in like
situations, if similar inclinations should move them to undertake such
voyages. In Calicut we found two Christians of Milan in Italy, who had
come to India with licence from the king of Portugal, on purpose to buy
precious stones. The names of these men were John Maria and Peter
Anthony. I was more rejoiced at the sight of these men than I can
express, and knowing them to be Christians by their fair complexions,
though they could not know me as I was naked like the natives, I
immediately spoke to them, informing them that I also was a Christian,
and their countryman. Then, taking me kindly by the hand, they brought
me to their house, where, for joy of this unexpected meeting, we could
scarcely satisfy ourselves with tears, embraces, and kisses, for it
seemed a strange thing to me thus to find men who spoke my own language,
and even to speak it myself. They told me that they were in great favour
with the king of Calicut, yet anxiously wished to get hack to their
native country, but knew not how, as they had fled from the Portuguese,
and durst not run the risk of falling into their hands, having made many
pieces of great cannon and other ordnance for the king of Calicut, and
that now the Portuguese fleet would shortly be there. When I proposed to
endeavour to go to Cananore, and solicit their pardon from the
Portuguese admiral, they said that could not be looked for, as they were
well known to many of the kings and princes between Calicut and
Cananore, who were friendly to the Portuguese, and who would certainly
intercept them, as they had made above 400 guns, great and small, and
could never hope for pardon. By this I could perceive how fearful a
thing it is to have an evil conscience, and called to remembrance the
saying of the poet:--

"Multa male timeo, qui feci multa proterve."

That is to say, "I fear much evil because I have done much." These men
had not only made many pieces of artillery for the infidels, to the
great injury of the Christians, in contempt of Christ and his holy
religion, but had also taught the idolaters both how to make and use
them. While I remained in Calicut, I saw them give a mould to the
idolaters, by which they might cast brass cannon of sufficient bigness
to receive a charge of 105 _cantaros_ or measures of powder. At this
time also there was a Jew in Calicut who had built a handsome
brigantine, in which were four large iron cannons; but Providence soon
after gave him his due reward, as he was drowned while bathing in the
river. To return to the two Italians: God knows how earnestly I
endeavoured to persuade them never to make any more guns or artillery
for the infidels, in contempt of God, and to the great detriment of our
most holy faith. At my words, tears fell from the eyes of Peter Anthony;
but John Maria, who perhaps was not so anxious to return home, said it
was all one to him whether he died in India or Italy, and that God only
knew what was decreed for him. Within two days after I returned to my
companion, who had wondered what was become of me, fearing that I was
either sick, or had died, or run away. I told him that I had been all
night in the temple, that he might not suspect my great intimacy with
the Christians.

While I remained in the lodging of my companion, there came to him two
Persian merchants from the city of Cananore, saying that they had bad
news to tell him, as there had arrived twelve Portuguese ships, which
they had actually seen. Then asked he what manner of men were these
Portuguese? To this the Persians answered, that they were Christians,
armed in cuirasses of bright iron, and had built an impregnable fortress
at Cananore. Then turning to me, my companion asked what kind of people
these were. To this I answered, that they were a nation of wicked
people, entirely given up to robbery and piracy on the seas: And I can
truly say, that he was not so sorry for these news as I was rejoiced at
their arrival. After the rumour spread of the arrival of the Portuguese,
I began to be in fear for myself, and to consider what was best to be
done to ensure my safety; and considering that nothing could be easier
among these ignorant people than to gain a reputation of holiness by
hypocrisy, I used to lurk about the temple all day without meat, as all
the people thought, but in the night I had my fill in the house of the
two Milanese. By this device, every one took me for a saint or holy
person, so that in a few days I could go about all the city without
being suspected. To help me in this assumed character, a rich Mahometan
merchant of Calicut happened to fall sick, having his belly so
constipated that he could get no ease; and as he was a friend of my
Persian companion, and the disease daily increased, he at last asked me
if I had any skill in physic. To this I answered, that my father was a
physician, and that I had learnt many things from him. He then took me
along with him to see his friend the sick merchant, and being told that
he was very sick at the head and stomach, and sore constipated, and
having before learnt that he was a great eater and drinker, I felt his
pulse, and said that he was filled with choler or black bile, owing to
surfeiting, and that it was necessary he should have a glyster. Then I
made a glyster of eggs, salt, and sugar, together with butter and such
herbs as I could think of upon a sudden; and in the space of a day and a
night I gave him five such glysters, but all in vain, for his pains and
sickness increased, and I began to repent me of my enterprise. But it
was now necessary to put a good face on the matter, and to attempt some
other way, yet my last error seemed worse than ever. Endeavouring to
inspire him with confidence, I made him lie grovelling on his belly,
and, by cords tied to his feet, I raised up the hinder part of his body,
so that he rested only on his breast and hands; and in this posture I
administered to him another glyster, allowing him to remain in that
position for half an hour. On beholding this strange mode of practice,
my Persian friend asked me, if that was the manner of treating sick
people in my country, to which I answered that it was, but only in cases
of extremity; on which he observed with a smile, that he believed it
would certainly relieve him one way or other. In the mean time, the sick
man cried out in his own language, "It is enough, it is enough, for my
soul now departeth." We comforted him as well as we could, desiring him
to have patience yet a little longer; and almost immediately his belly
was loosened, and he voided like a gutter. We then let him down, and he
continued to discharge a prodigious quantity, so that shortly the pain
of his head and stomach left him, and his fever was assuaged, which gave
us all great joy. By this adventurous cure, and my counterfeit
holiness, I grew into great credit, and when my patient offered me ten
pieces of gold as my reward, I would only accept two, which I gave away
immediately among the poor.

These silly people believed implicitly in my hypocrisy, which I shewed
in a constrained gravity of countenance and deportment, and by
forbearing openly from eating flesh, insomuch that all thought
themselves happy to have me at their houses, or to kiss my hands and
feet. The report also of my companion, that he had met with me first at
Mecca, where I had gone to see the body of the holy prophet Mahomet,
greatly increased among the Mahometans the opinion of my sanctity. But
all this while, I used to resort secretly in the night to the house of
the Milanese Christians; and learning from them that the twelve
Portuguese ships were arrived at Cananore, I thought that it was now a
favourable opportunity for me to escape. I remained, however, for seven
days more, learning every thing I could respecting the preparations that
were making by the king of Calicut and his people against the
Portuguese, in regard to their army, artillery, and every thing relative
to the war. But, before I speak of the manner of my departure, it may be
proper to say something of the religious practices of the Mahometans.

For calling the people to the mosque, their priests and other ministers,
of whom there are a great number, ascend to the highest tower of the
temple, where they sound three or four brass trumpets instead of bells,
and then call to the people in a loud voice to come to prayers. Then
stopping one ear with their finger, they call out in their own language,
_Alla u eccubar, etc._ That is to say, "God is great! God is great! Come
to the temple of the great God! Come pray to the great God! God is
great! God is great! God was! God is! Mahomet, the messenger of God,
shall arise!" They even invited me to the mosque, and desired me to pray
to God for the Mahometans; and this I did outwardly, but with quite a
different meaning from them. They have certain daily and stated prayers
as we have, in which they call upon God as their father, and they even
vouchsafe to name the blessed Virgin Mary; but they always wash before
prayers. Standing all in order, after the priest has prayed, the whole
people pray in their own language.

At this time I feigned myself sick, and finding some occasion or pretext
for going to Cananore, I advertised my companion thereof, who gave me
his consent, saying that he would shortly follow me to that place, and
in the meantime gave me letters recommending me to a friend and
countryman of his, a rich merchant at that place, desiring him to give
me kind entertainment for his sake. The day before my departure, I made
the before-mentioned Milanese Christians privy to my intentions, and my
companion made me join company with two other Persian merchants who were
going to Cananore, as there were then in Calicut many merchants of
Persia, Syria, and Turkey. Therefore, on the 1st of December, having
hired a light bark, I and my two companions set sail; but had hardly got
from shore an arrow-flight, when four of the _nairs_ of the king's guard
called to the pilot of our vessel, and ordered him, in the king's name,
to come to land. When the nairs understood who we were, they asked the
Persians why they carried me along with them, without licence from the
king? Then the Persians said, that this was a holy man, who meant to
accompany them to Cananore. The nairs answered, that they knew I was a
person who had wrought miracles; but as I could speak the language of
the Portuguese, it was to be feared that I might betray their secrets to
the enemy, and give them notice of the navy and army which had been
prepared at Calicut against them, and therefore they strictly enjoined
the pilot to carry us no farther. He accordingly obeyed their orders,
and left us on the shore. It was then proposed by one of the Persians
that we should return to Calicut, on which I advised him to take heed
how he did so, as he would be in danger of losing all his silks, if it
should be discovered that he had not paid the king's custom. Then he
asked my advice as to what I thought was best for us to do in the
present exigency, and I advised that we should travel along the shore,
in hopes of finding some other bark for our purpose. They agreed to this
proposal, and we accordingly travelled twelve miles along the shore, our
slaves carrying our baggage; and I leave any judicious person to
conceive the terror I was in, during this time, of being stopt by the
servants of the king of Calicut. At length, by good providence, we found
a poor fisherman, who agreed to carry us in his boat to Cananore, where
we arrived in safety late at night. We went immediately to wait upon the
Persian merchant, to whom I had letters of recommendation from my
companion. Their tenor was as follows: That he should receive me into
his house, and entertain me in a friendly manner, till his own arrival,
and that whatever friendship was shewn me should be considered as done
to himself, as I was a holy man, and united with him in the strictest
friendship. Immediately on reading this letter, the merchant laid his
hand on his head, and bid me welcome, swearing by his head that I was in
safety, and caused a good supper to be set before us. After supper, the
Persians and I took a walk by the sea side, and we soon came to where
the Portuguese ships were lying at anchor. I am utterly unable to
express the joy I felt on seeing these ships, but which I took care
should not be observed by my companions. In our walk, I observed where
the Portuguese had built their fortress, and determined within myself to
go there as soon as possible.

Next day, finding a fit opportunity, I went towards the Portuguese
fortress, which is not above four furlongs from the city of Cananore,
and chanced to meet two Portuguese by the way, at whom I inquired in
Spanish if that were the fortress of the Portuguese. They asked if I
were a Christian? and having answered that I was, they demanded to know
whence I came? I told them that I was from Calicut, on which they said
they would immediately shew me the way to their governor, whose name was
Lorenzo[106], son to the viceroy. They accordingly brought me before
him, and when I was come into his presence, I fell down on my knees, and
entreated him in all humility, for the sake of Christ, to whom I was
consecrated in baptism, that he would have compassion upon me, and
deliver me out of the hands of these infidel dogs. When it was noised
about in the city that I had escaped to the Christians, there began a
stir and mutiny among the people, upon which the governor commanded his
officers and men to put their artillery and all things in readiness,
lest the people in their sudden rage should make any attempt against the
fortress; but every thing was speedily pacified. After this, the
governor took me by the hand into a hall or room by ourselves, and
demanded to know what the king and people of Calicut were preparing to
do against the Christians. I informed him of all things as far as I
knew, having diligently inquired into all their preparations and
designs. When I had thus informed the governor of all I knew, he
appointed a galley commanded by one Joam Serano to carry me to the
viceroy, who was then at Cochin.

[Footnote 106: Don Francisco de Almeyda was viceroy of Portuguese India
from 1507 to 1510, both inclusive, and his son Lorenzo made a
conspicuous figure on several occasions under his father. It is true
that Verthema appears in the present journal to have returned from India
to Europe in the end of 1506 or beginning of 1507; but the dates of the
present journal are exceedingly few and vague, and the incidents which
it relates could hardly have occurred in so short a period as between
the commencement of 1503 and close of 1506.--E.]

The viceroy received me very favourably, and then I gave him an account
of all the warlike preparations at Calicut. After this I humbly implored
pardon for the two Italians, Peter Anthony and John Maria, who had made
artillery for the infidel princes, declaring that they were desirous to
return to the Christians, and would do them good service, for that all
they had hitherto done at Calicut was by constraint, and that all they
asked was a safe conduct and money to defray their charges. The viceroy
listened to my petition, and three days afterwards he sent me back to
Cananore with letters to his son, commanding him to deliver me as much
money as might suffice for the Christian spies at Calicut. At Cananore,
I procured an idolater, who from poverty had been forced to pawn his
wife and children, and engaged him to carry a letter from me to the two
Milanese at Calicut, informing them that the viceroy had granted their
pardon and safe conduct, with money for their charges. I desired them to
make no one privy to their intended departure, and particularly not to
let it be known to their slaves or concubines, each of them having a
concubine, a child, and a slave, and to leave all their goods behind,
except things of great value, such as gold coin and precious stones.
They had a very fine diamond of 32 carats, reckoned to be worth 35,000
crowns; a pearl of 24 carats; 2000 rubies, some of which weighed one
carat, and others a carat and half; upwards of 60 bracelets, garnished
with many fine jewels; and about 1500 pieces of gold coin. But in
consequence of their covetousness, while they sought to save all they
lost all, and their lives to boot; for, not content with carrying off
all these riches, they would needs carry along with them, in spite of
the advice I sent, four guns, three monkeys, two musquets, and two of
those wheels on which precious stones are polished. The attempt to carry
off these bulky articles was the cause of their destruction, as one of
their slaves gave notice to the zamorin or king of Calicut of what was
going on. The zamorin would not at first believe the information,
having conceived a good opinion of their fidelity, yet sent four of his
nairs to examine into the truth of the information. But the slave,
perceiving that the zamorin seemed inclined to deal favourably with
them, went to the cady or chief priest of the Mahometans, and told him
all that he had said to the zamorin, adding that the two Christians had
disclosed all their secrets to the Portuguese. The eddy immediately
convened a council of all the Mahometan merchants, willing them to give
an hundred pieces of gold to the _king of Gioghi_[107], who was then at
Calicut, and to speak to him in the following terms: "It is not unknown
to you, most noble prince, that when your majesty came to this place
some years ago, we received you in a more honourable manner than we are
now enabled to do. The change in our behaviour is not owing to any want
of good will towards you, but is occasioned by the great and manifold
injuries which we have sustained, and are daily suffering from our
mortal enemies the Christians. We have at the present moment a notable
example of this in two Christian traitors now residing in this city, who
have disclosed all our secrets to the Portuguese; and therefore we most
humbly petition that you would be pleased to accept from us an hundred
pieces of gold, and to issue your commands that these traitorous
Christians shall be slain."

[Footnote 107: This king of _Gioghi_ was probably the chief bramin in
the southern part of India, a species of patriarch or pope of the
braminical idolatry, similar to the king of _Joga_, formerly mentioned,
in Guzerat, in these travels of Verthema. In a future part of our
collection we shall have a more favourable opportunity of explaining the
hierarchy of the Hindoos.--E.]

When this oration was repeated to the _king of Gioghi_, he immediately
accepted the gift, and consented to the prayer of the petition, and
appointed two hundred of his followers to put the Milanese to death.
These men, that they might not be suspected by the devoted Christians,
came in small bodies to their house, only ten at a time, as if to demand
their customary reward. But on seeing so great a number of men assembled
about their house, the Christians began to suspect that they were in
search of something beyond their usual reward or offering, wherefore
taking to their arms, they so bravely defended themselves, that they
slew six of the assailants and wounded forty: But at length some of the
_Gioghi_ or Jogues, shot them both with arrows from cross-bows, one
being sore wounded in the head and the other in the body; and as soon as
they saw them fall, they broke into the house and cut their throats.
Then taking the warm blood into the palms of their hands, they drank it
up, using the most contumelious expressions against the Christians.
After this murder, the concubine of John Maria came to Cananore with her
young son, whom I bought of her for eight pieces of gold, and had him
baptized by the name of Lorenzo, as he was christened on the festival of
St Laurence. But he died within a year afterwards of the lues venerea,
which disease has been spread over almost the whole world, as I have
seen many infected with it 400 miles beyond Calicut. It is there called
_pua_, and they affirm that it was not seen there till about seventeen
years before; yet it is there more grievous and destructive than with us
in Italy.


_Account of a memorable Battle between the Mahometan Navy of Calicut and
the Portuguese_.

On the 4th of March 1506, intelligence was received at Cananore of the
death of the two Milanese Christians at Calicut, and on the same day the
Calicut fleet set sail from the cities of _Pavan? Capagot? Pandaram_?
and _Trompatam_? It consisted of 208 vessels [108], of which 84 were
ships of considerable size and burden, and the rest were rowing vessels
which are called _paraos_. This great fleet was manned with a prodigious
number of Mahometans richly dressed in purple silk and cotton, also with
high pointed caps after their fashion of the same colour, lined with
silk, having their arms decked with many bracelets, and embroidered
gloves on their hands. For weapons, they had Turkish bows, swords,
lances, _peltes_[109], and all kind of guns made in our manner. When we
saw their fleet proceeding in order and well appointed, it seemed afar
off like a great wood, so numerous were the masts, yet were we in sure
belief that God would give us the victory over the blasphemers of his
holy name, and that we should prevail against the idolaters and
Saracens, the ancient enemies of the religion of the blessed Jesus.
Therefore the valiant knight our governor, Don Lorenzo, the son of Don
Francisco de Almeyda, viceroy of India, who had the supreme command of
twelve Portuguese ships, with the assistance of the admiral, assembled
all the Portuguese soldiers and mariners by sound of trumpet, and spoke
to them after this manner: "Dear friends, and brethren in one God and in
one faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, it is now time for us to consider
that our Lord spared not to give his precious body unto death for our
sakes; wherefore it is our bounden duty to spend our lives in defence of
his glory and of our holy faith, assuring ourselves of victory over
these infidel dogs, who are hated of God, being the progeny of the
devil. Now, therefore, fighting in his holy name and under the banner of
his cross, shew yourselves valiant, as you have now a fair opportunity
to gain eternal fame in defending the glorious cause of your Lord and
Saviour. Therefore, along with me, raising our hearts to God, and our
arms with force and courage against the enemy, in the name of the Lord,
let us manfully give the onset." When Don Lorenzo had spoken these
words, the priest went up to the highest part of the ship, holding in
his hands the picture of Christ nailed to the cross, which he exposed to
the view of all the soldiers, and earnestly exhorted them to remember
the commands of God, and the holy faith in which they were consecrated
by baptism, having no doubt that all their sins should be forgiven to
those who fell in the cause of God. Then blessing them in the name of
the Lord, he pronounced the absolution and forgivenness of their sins.
This exhortation of the priest so moved all our hearts, that tears of
joy ran from our eyes, and we were all animated with a desire of dying
in the holy cause.

[Footnote 108: According to the account of this great armament formerly
given in the History of the Portuguese Transactions in India, the fleet
of the Mahometans and Zamorin on this occasion consisted of 260 paraos,
60 of which exceeded the size of the armed ships then used in India by
the Portuguese. The action between the Portuguese and their enemies is
there stated to have been in 1508.--E.]

[Footnote 109: Perhaps cross-bows, or it may probably signify leathern
targets, or shields made of _pelts_ or skins.--E.]

In the mean time the Mahometan fleet made sail towards us, and on the
same day our admiral went to reconnoitre their fleet with two foists,
and passing between two of their largest ships discharged his ordnance
on both sides, on purpose to try the strength of those ships in which
they placed the greatest confidence. But nothing of any importance
occurred this day. Next day the enemy made sail towards Cananore, and
sent a message to our commanders, saying, that if they were permitted to
pursue their voyage they would not attack us. To this it was answered,
that the Christians had not forgotten the perjury and violated faith of
the Mahometans, when they prevented the Christians from passing that way
on a former occasion, and had slain 47 Portuguese, and robbed them of
4000 pieces of gold: Wherefore, they might proceed at their peril, and
should learn of what spirit and reputation in arms the Christians were
composed. Then said the Mahometans, "Mahomet will defend us and confound
the Christians." Then with great fury they assaulted us all at once,
thinking to have forced their way through our fleet, as they were only
10 miles from Cananore. Our admiral intentionally allowed them to draw
near until they were right over-against Cananore, when he intended to
set upon them with all his force, that the rajah or king of Cananore
might be a witness of the valour of the Christians. When the trumpeter
of the admiral sounded the charge as a signal of battle, the admiral
immediately assaulted two of the largest ships of the enemy, casting his
grappling irons and chains, that he might fight them hand to hand. After
throwing our grapplings three times in vain, they caught hold the fourth
time, on which the Christians boarded the greatest ship, and made such
havoc that the whole crew of 600 Mahometans were slain, not one escaping
or being made prisoner. Encouraged by this success, the admiral
immediately grappled another large ship which had chained itself to one
of the Christian foists; this ship was likewise taken and sunk, with the
loss of 500 Mahometans. Discouraged by this defeat, the Mahometans
assailed our twelve foists with all their force, _and carried them
away_. On this emergency the captain of the galley, Joam Serano, shewed
the utmost gallantry, as he fiercely assaulted in his single galley
those ships of the enemy which had _carried away_ our foists, and made
such prodigious slaughter among the Mahometans as seemed quite
incredible, so that he recovered all the foists, and sunk two other
Mahometan ships. The conflict continued with unabated fury from morning
till the darkness of the night parted the combatants, and God so
favoured the Christians that few of them were slain, though many were

I must not omit to notice the zeal and courage displayed by Simon
Martin, the captain of one of our ships, on the following occasion in
this battle. It so happened that the brigantine in which I was, was at
one time somewhat parted from the rest of our ships, on which four ships
of the enemy assailed us all at once; and 150 of the Mahometans having
boarded our vessel, constrained us to flee to the poop for safety. While
we were in this extreme danger, Simon Martin leapt on board our vessel,
invoking the name of Jesus to aid him, and fought with such desperate
valour that he slew six of the enemy with his own bond. Encouraged by
his gallantry, we came down from the poop to his assistance, and so
handled the Mahometans that they leapt overboard for safety, when some
of them were drowned and others escaped by swimming. Upon this our
success, the enemy sent down four other foists to help those who were
already engaged against us. But our captain took several empty casks in
which gunpowder had been kept before, and placed them in such a manner
on the side of our brigantine, that they seemed like large pieces of
artillery, standing beside them with a _fire-stick_ or lighted match, as
if about to discharge them. This device put the enemy in such fear that
they departed from us.

Our admiral continued to pursue the enemy, and gave them another great
overthrow, taking seven of their foists laden with various kinds of
merchandise, and sank ten others by the shot of his artillery, one of
which was laden with elephants. Hie enemy, seeing the ocean almost
covered with the bodies of their slain, their principal ships taken,
sunk, or much injured, and having lost all hope of victory, endeavoured
to save themselves by flight. But the Portuguese determined to follow up
their success, and again brought them to battle, which continued a whole
day and night, to the utter discomfiture of the Mahometans, most of
whose vessels were sunk. At this time some of our foists saw a large
ship belonging to the enemy at some distance, and made sail towards her;
but as the enemy saw themselves overmatched, they hurled all their
carriages into the sea [110], after which they leapt overboard
themselves, in hopes to swim on shore, as they are most expert swimmers.
But our men followed them even to the shore with lances, cross-bows,
and stones, killing them while swimming, so that the sea was coloured
with their blood. Yet about 200 of them escaped on shore, after swimming
about 20 miles. These Mahometans are all exceedingly expert swimmers,
being accustomed to it from their early youth; and while we pursued
them, they often dived and remained so long under water, that we thought
they had sunk outright, and when they came up again and floated on the
water, we thought we had been deceived by phantoms. They were however
mostly all destroyed afterwards by one mischance or another, so that on
this occasion the enemy lost a prodigious number of men. After the
battle and pursuit ceased, our admiral sent some boats on shore in
sundry places to number the dead bodies, which had been cast up by the
sea, when about 3000 were found, besides many that had been carried away
by the sea.

[Footnote 110: Perhaps they threw their guns overboard to lighten their
vessel and facilitate their escape.--E.]

The king of Cananore beheld this great victory from the shore, and gave
great commendations to the Portuguese for their valour, and very
deservedly; for, though I have been in many hard-fought battles, I never
saw greater valour than was displayed on this occasion by the
Portuguese. After this great victory, we thought to have enjoyed peace
and security, but worse events ensued; for the king of Cananore, who was
a great friend to the Portuguese, died a few days afterwards, and was
succeeded by a mortal enemy to the Christians, and a great friend to the
zamorin, by whole interest he had been advanced to the kingdom of
Cananore. This new king assembled his forces to make war against the
Portuguese in all haste, believing that much of their ammunition had
been expended in the late naval battle, and that their men were much
wearied, and for the most part wounded, so that they would be unable to
make any great resistance. To aid him on this occasion, the zamorin sent
him 24 pieces of great cannon. This war began on the 7th of April, and
continued to the 20th of August [111], before peace was restored. It
were too long to recount all the brave actions performed by the
Christians in this war against the Mahometans [112], who never
encountered them with less than twenty-five or twenty-six thousand men
and 140 pieces of artillery. The enemy on this occasion were armed in
the manner already mentioned respecting the weapons of the inhabitants
of Calicut, and the Christians in the harness and with the weapons then
used by us in Europe[113].

[Footnote 111: From the context, combined with the date of the late
naval action, as given from the History of the Portuguese Transactions,
this land-war with the rajah of Cananore must have been in 1509.--E.]

[Footnote 112: In the naval battle the principal force at least must
have been Mahometans, as the Hindoos do not use the sea; but, in this
land-war with the new rajah of Cananore, the nairs would constitute the
main force of the enemy, though there might be some Mahometan

[Footnote 113: The European soldiers then wore defensive armour and
shields. And besides matchlocks, their offensive arms were pikes,
swords, and cross-bows.--E.]

In their wars, the infidels divide their army into many _wings_, or
brigades, of two or three thousand men each, only one of which proceeds
to battle at a time, all the rest waiting the result of this charge
before they proceed to join battle. While marching to give battle, it
passes all imagination to conceive the prodigious noise made by
innumerable musical instruments after their fashion, which fill the ears
of their soldiers and encourage them to fight; while in the mean time a
great number of men run before with artificial fireworks[114]. At last
they give the onset with such fury and outcry, that two or three
thousand of them are often able to put to flight 10,000 men who are
unused to this mode of warfare. But God in his merciful providence never
forsakes those who believe in his holy religion, as was now exemplified
in our distress. For, while the Portuguese were in a manner overwhelmed
with the multitude of their enemies, the joyful news arrived that a new
fleet had come from Portugal to Cananore, under the valiant knight Don
Tristan de Cunna, who was immediately informed of the straits to which
we were reduced. He immediately sent us a reinforcement of 300 valiant
soldiers, well provided with defensive armour, and weapons of offence,
after the manner of the Christians. On the arrival of these succours, we
were so encouraged that we would have burnt the city of Cananore, if our
admiral had permitted us. But on learning the arrival of this
reinforcement, the enemy were so cast down that they sought to make
peace with us by every means they could think of, and appointed one
_Mamalmaricar_, a man of great riches and wisdom, to be their
ambassador, with full powers to conclude peace. This man accordingly
waited on our admiral, who told him that he could not make peace without
the authority of the viceroy, who was then at Cochin: Yet it was thought
best not to reject the proffered peace, as, during war, the Portuguese
could not send home their ships with the commodities of India, and for
this reason the viceroy agreed to the conclusion of peace.

[Footnote 114: Probably alluding to a kind of javelins armed with a
species of rockets, which have long been used in the wars of India, and
often produce great disorder among the crowded masses of their
ill-disciplined troops.--E.]

To mingle some pleasure with these tragedies, I shall now rehearse a
pleasant story, worthy of being remembered. One day after the peace was
settled, I happened to walk in the city of Cananore with some merchant
idolaters, with whom I was acquainted before the war. They asked me to
show them a certain Christian, much taller and stronger than any of the
others, who used every day to slay about twenty of the Mahometans, and
who at one time, when assailed by fifty of the nairs, escaped unhurt. At
first I answered, that this valiant Christian had gone to Cochin to the
viceroy: But after some farther consideration, I told them that this
soldier was the God of the Portuguese, the great God who had created the
world. Then answered they, that the Mahometans had said as much to them
already, and therefore they were inclined to believe that the God of the
Christians was better and more powerful than theirs. Thus it came to be
rumoured all over the country that the Portuguese had overcome more by
the assistance of God, than by the strength of man. These people are
wonderfully simple and ignorant, and are easily astonished at very
trifling matters; for when they saw one of our company ring a small
hand-bell, and that it ceased to make a noise when set down, they took
it for a miracle, saying one to another, "Doubtless the God of these men
is greater than ours, for when they touch that little instrument it
speaks, and when they touch it not it is silent." They took much delight
in seeing the celebration of mass; and when the priest lifted up the
holy bread, or host, I said unto them, "Behold the God of the Christians
and of all the world." To which they answered, "You say truly, but we
see him not." I repeat this that it may be seen how ignorant these
people are. Yet are they great sorcerers, and can enchant the most
venomous serpents, so as to do no harm, though their venom is so
powerful as to kill only by touching. They are likewise of wonderful
agility, and are astonishingly expert in vaulting, running, leaping,
swimming, tumbling, walking on ropes, and such other feats of activity.


_Navigation of the Author to Ethiopia, and return to Europe by Sea._

Those who engage to write any history, ought to keep in mind what they
have promised, lest after all their pains and trouble they only reap
shame and reproach. Wherefore, having in the beginning of this
performance engaged to write concerning the navigation of Ethiopia, I
shall now make an end of my long travels and peregrinations, by a
description of this voyage, in which I shall speak of such things as I
saw by the way, on my return from India to my long wished-for country,
along with the Portuguese.

Leaving India on the 7th of December[115], we directed our course to
Ethiopia[116]; and having sailed across the great gulf we came to the
island of _Monzambrick_, or Mozambique, which is under the dominion of
the king of Portugal. But before our arrival there, we saw many towns
and fortresses by the way, belonging to the Portuguese, in the kingdoms
of Melinda and Mombaza. They have also some strong fortresses in
Mozambique and Sofala. Were I to enlarge upon the memorable deeds of the
valiant Tristran de Cunna, on his return from India, I should enter upon
a subject far beyond my powers, being such as would rather require the
pen of a Homer or a Virgil: For he invaded and subdued the great cities
of _Gogia, Pati_, and _Crava[117]_, and also the goodly island of
_Sacutara_, [Socotoro,] where a fortress was erected by order of the
king of Portugal. I omit also to speak of many islands which we saw by
the way, such as the island of _Cumeris_, or Curia Muria, and six
others, which produce plenty of ginger, sugar, and other goodly fruits,
and the most fruitful island of _Penda_, which is likewise subject to
the Portuguese.

[Footnote 115: Probably of the year 1508.--E.]

[Footnote 116: It is hardly necessary to remark, that the term Ethiopia
is here applied to the western coast of Africa on the ocean.--E.]

[Footnote 117: The Gogia of the text is probably Oja, on the coast of
Africa, 17 leagues from Melinda, and Pati may possibly be some
corruption of Paniany, both of these places having been reduced by de
Cunna. Crava may be an error for Brava, on the western coast of

From the island of Mozambique, which belongs to Portugal, it brought
much gold and ivory, but these come from the continent of Ethiopia. This
island is not large, but has a commodious port, and is inhabited by
black Mahometans[118], who are in great want of all the necessaries of
life, having no corn or provisions but what are brought from the
continent. We landed on the continental part of Ethiopia to see the
country, where we saw a barbarous Vagabond people of blacks, both men
and women going entirely naked, except covering their parts of shame
with leaves of trees. Their lips are two fingers thick, their foreheads
very large, and they have great teeth as white as snow. They are
exceedingly timorous and fearful of armed men; wherefore six of us, well
armed with muskets, and accompanied by a black slave who knew the
country, went a considerable way inland to view the country. When we had
gone forwards a days journey, we came to many herds of elephants, and
our guide recommended to us to carry burning firebrands in our hands, as
these beasts are afraid of fire above all things; but we chanced to fall
in with three female elephants that had lately calved, and they could
not be scared by our fire, but followed us so far that we were obliged
to save ourselves by scrambling up a steep mountain.

[Footnote 118: Perhaps this expression ought to have been black-a-moors,
the old name for negroes.--E.]

When we were about ten miles inland, we came to a cave on the side of a
mountain inhabited by some of the black natives, whose manner of speech
was so strange and chattering, like so many apes, that I am unable to
express the manner of their language, which comes near the strange
jargon used by the muleteers of Sicily, when they drive their
mules[119]. Our pilot asked us if we were inclined to purchase any
cattle from these people, saying that we might have them at a very low
price; but suspecting that he either mocked us, or meant, in concert
with the natives, to impose upon us, we said that we had no money. Then
he told us that these people wanted no money, having already gold in
greater plenty than we, which they procure not far from where we were.
On asking him what articles they were desirous of in payment for their
cattle, he said they preferred things of small value, such as pins,
knives, scissars, looking-glasses, hawks-bells, bags, or boxes, to
contain their gold, copper rings, _janglings_ to hang at their timbrils,
bosses, laces, broaches, copper-chains, caskanets, bracelets, and such
like baubles to deck their wives and children. We then said that we
would willingly give them such things for their cattle if they would
bring them to us at the shore; but the pilot said the natives would
drive them to the next mountain, but no farther on any condition. Then
one of our companions said that he had a boss of engraven copper, and a
small bell; and as I had none of such merchandise, and yet was desirous
of eating fresh meat, I said I would give one of my shirts to buy
cattle. The pilot engaged to make our purchases to the best advantage,
and calling five or six of the natives about him, he shewed them our
_goodly jewels,_ and demanded from them _three hundred_ head of cattle.
The natives, not differing much from beasts, answered by signs that they
would only give fifteen. At length we made a bargain, though we still
suspected some deceit; yet they kept their promise, and sent us fifteen
beasts by two of their companions. We had scarcely gone when we heard a
noise and tumult among them, and were in some fear lest these
_troglodites_ might follow to do us some injury, wherefore leaving the
cattle we took to our weapons. But they made signs to us to fear
nothing, and the pilot told us they were quarrelling who should have the
copper boss. Then recovering our cattle, we drove them forward to the
top of the mountain, where we dismissed the two natives, and continued
our journey towards the coast. While driving our cattle past a little
wood, we again fell in with the elephants, which put us in such fear
that we abandoned our cattle and trusted to our feet, making the best of
our way to the island.

[Footnote 119: Perhaps alluding to the _cluck_, which occurs perpetually
in the language of the Hottentots, resembling the sound used in some
parts to urge on a horse, and which is inexpressible in

Having made provision for our voyage of such things as could be procured
at Mozambique, we sailed for the Cape of Good Hope, passing the island
of St Lawrence, otherwise called Madagascar, which is 80 leagues from
the nearest part of the continent. I suppose that in a short time the
Portuguese will be masters of this island, as they have burned and
destroyed many of its towns and villages, and are much feared by the
natives. So far as I conjecture by my peregrinations, especially those
in India and Ethiopia, it is my opinion that the king of Portugal is
likely to be the richest king in the world, if he continue as he has
begun; and certainly his dignity and godly zeal is not unworthy of such
high fortune, as by his means the knowledge of the Christian faith is
greatly extended. In Cochin, where the viceroy of India resides, every
holiday ten or twelve Mahometans or idolaters are professed to our
religion; so that we may have good hope that in time our faith may
greatly spread with the blessing of God, who hath given such miraculous
victories to the Christians; wherefore all who profess to believe in the
holy name of Christ, ought incessantly to pray to God to assist the king
of Portugal in so godly an enterprise.

When we had sailed about two hundred miles beyond the Cape of Good Hope,
there arose a sudden tempest of contrary wind, which towed us to and fro
for seven days in great danger, but we escaped by the blessing of God.
After the cessation of this tempest, and when we had again proceeded
other two hundred miles on our voyage, a new tempest arose, which
scattered all our ships during six days that it continued, so that we
did not all meet again till our arrival at Lisbon in Portugal. I was in
a ship called the St Vincent, belonging to one Bartholomew a Florentine,
who was a citizen of Lisbon. She was a vessel of great size, and carried
seven hundred tons of spices of all kinds. We passed the island of St
Helena, near which we saw certain fishes of such enormous bigness that
one of them was as large as a great house. When they rise above water,
or gape or yawn, the upper jaw covers all the forehead, as it were a
soldier in shining armour, and when they swim along the surface of the
deep, the forehead seems three paces broad. As they swam about near the
ships, they raised such a commotion in the sea that we discharged all
our artillery to drive them away. We soon afterwards came to an island
named _Ascension,_ where we saw many birds about the size of ducks,
which were so stupid that we took them with our hands, yet immediately
afterwards they shewed wonderful fierceness. In that island we saw no
outer living creatures besides these birds, which seemed as if they had
never seen mankind before, and there were prodigious quantities of fish
around its shores.

Having sailed many days beyond that island, we seemed to have returned
again into our own world, as the north star, the guide of mariners,
appeared to us. Here we have a good opportunity of refuting the opinion
of those who think that it is impossible to sail in the regions of the
antartic pole by the guidance of the north star; for it is undeniable
that the Portuguese sail by the aid of the north polar star, although
entirely hidden from their sight in the antartic region of the sea. Yet
they frequently refresh the virtue of the needle by means of that stone
which ever naturally points towards the north. A few days afterwards we
arrived at a fair region, in which are seen many islands called the
_Astures_ Acores, so named from the multitude of that species of eagles
or hawks which are called acores or _azores_. These islands are
variously named, as _Pico_, _Martii_, _Corvo_, _Flores_, _St George_,
_Gratiosa_ and _Fyal_. From thence we went to the island of _Tercera_,
where we remained two days. All these are very fertile, and have
abundance of all the necessaries of life.

Departing from thence, we came in seven days sailing to _Luxburne_ or
_Ulisbona_, [_Lisbon_] in Portugal. On my arrival I was carried to the
presence of the king, whose hand I had the honour to kiss, and with most
humble reverence I thanked his majesty for the great favour I had found
with his officers and subjects in India. He entertained me very
graciously at his court, until I had informed him fully of all that I
had observed in my peregrinations in various parts of India. Some days
afterwards, I shewed his majesty the letters-patent by which his viceroy
in India had honoured me with the order of knighthood, and humbly
requested of his majesty to confirm the same under his great seal, which
he was graciously pleased to grant. Then departing from Lisbon, with the
passport and safe conduct of the king, I returned at length, after these
my long and perilous travels, to my long-desired native home, the city
of Rome, by the blessing of God, to whom be all honour and glory.

_End of the Voyages of Verthema._




This article has been adopted from the Collection of Hakluyt, and, with
that immediately preceding, may serve as a supplement to the Portuguese
Transactions in India. The entire title, as given in that early and
curious Collection, is "_The Voyage and Travel of M. Cesar Fredericke,
Merchant of Venice, into the East India and beyond the Indies: Wherein
are contained the Customes and Rites of these Countries, the Merchandise
and Commodities, as well of Golde as Silver, as Spices, Drugges,
Pearles, and other Jewels. Translated out of Italian by M. Thomas

[Footnote 120: Hakluyt, II. pp. 359--375. Ed. Lond. 1810.]

In adapting the present chapter to the purposes of our Collection, the
only liberty we have taken with the ancient translation exhibited by
Hakluyt, has been to employ the modern orthography in the names of
places, persons, and things, and to modernise the language throughout.
As in the itinerary of Verthema, to avoid the multiplication of notes
unnecessarily we have corrected the frequently vicious orthography of
these names as given by Cesar Frederick and his original translator,
either by substituting the true names or more generally received modern
orthography, or by subjoining the right name in the text immediately
after that employed by the author. When the names employed in the
original translation of this Journal are so corrupt as to be beyond our
power to rectify, or where we are doubtful of our correction, we have
marked them with a point of interrogation, as doubtful or unknown, as
has likewise been done in our version of the Itinerary of Verthema.
These two journals, besides that they coincide with the plan of our
arrangement of giving as many appropriate original journals of voyages
and travels as we can procure, contain a great number of curious
particulars, nowhere else to be met with, respecting the manners and
customs of various parts of India, between the years 1503 and 1581,
with many intersecting notices respecting its history, production, and

We learn from the following journal, that Cesar Frederick began his
peregrination in 1563; and, as he informs us in his preface, that he was
continually employed in coasting and travelling for eighteen years, he
could not have returned to Venice before the year 1581. In the
publication of this journal in the Collection of Hakluyt, it is very
irregularly divided into fragments, upon no apparent principles of
regular distribution; but on the present occasion it has been arranged
in sections, so as to suit the general plan of the present work.--E.

_Cesar Frederick to the Reader._

Having for the space of eighteen years continually coasted and travelled
over almost all the East Indies, and many other countries beyond the
Indies, both with good and bad success; and having seen and learned many
things worthy of notice, which have never been before communicated to
the world; I have thought it right, since the Almighty hath graciously
been pleased to return me to my native country, the noble city of
Venice, to write and publish this account of the perils I have
encountered during my long and arduous peregrinations by sea and land,
together with the many wonderful things I have seen in the Indies; the
mighty princes that govern these countries; the religion or faith in
which they live; their rites and customs; the various successes I
experienced; and which of these countries abound in drugs and jewels:
All of which may be profitable to such as desire to make a similar
voyage: Therefore, that the world may be benefited by my experience, I
have caused my voyages and travels to be printed, which I now present to
you, gentle and loving readers, in hopes that the variety of things
contained in this book may give you delight.


_Voyage from Venice to Bir in Asia Minor._

In the year 1563, while residing at Venice, being desirous to see the
eastern parts of the world, I embarked in a ship called the _Gradaige_
of Venice, commanded by Jacomo Vatica, bound for Cyprus, taking with
me certain merchandise. On arriving at Cyprus, I left that ship, and
went in a lesser to Tripoli in Syria, where I made a short stay. I then
travelled by land to Aleppo, where I became acquainted with some
Armenian and Moorish merchants, and agreed to accompany them to Ormuz.
We accordingly departed together from Aleppo, and came to the city of
_Bir_ in two days journey and a-half.

Bir is a small city in which provisions are very scarce, situated in
Asia Minor, [in lat. 37 deg. 5' N. long. 38 deg. E. from Greenwich], the river
Euphrates running near its walls. In this city, the merchants who intend
to descend the Euphrates form themselves into companies or associations,
according to the quantities of merchandise they possess, and either
build or buy a boat to carry themselves and their goods down the
Euphrates to Babylon[121], under the care of a master and mariners hired
to conduct the boat. These boats are almost flat-bottomed and very
strong, yet serve only for one voyage, as it is impossible to navigate
them upwards. They are fitted for the shallowness of the river, which in
many places is full of great stones which greatly obstruct the
navigation. At _Feluchia_ a small city on the Euphrates, the merchants
pull their boats to pieces or sell them for a small price; as a boat
that cost forty or fifty chequins at Bir sells only at Feluchia for
seven or eight chequins. When the merchants return back from Babylon, if
they have merchandise or goods that pay custom, they travel through the
wilderness in forty days, passing that way at much less expence than the
other. If they have no such merchandise, they then go by the way of
Mosul in Mesopotamia, which is attended with great charges both for the
caravan and company. From Bir to _Feluchia_. on the Euphrates, over
against Babylon, which is on the Tigris, if the river have sufficient
water, the voyage down the river may be made in fifteen or eighteen
days; but when the water is low in consequence of long previous drought,
the voyage is attended with much trouble, and will sometimes require
forty or fifty days to get down. In this case the boats often strike on
the stones in the river, when it becomes necessary to unlade and repair
them, which is attended with much trouble and delay; and on this account
the merchants have always one or two spare boats, that if one happen to
split or be lost by striking on the shoals, they may have another ready
to take in their goods till they have repaired the broken boat If they
were to draw the broken boat on the land for repair, it would be
difficult to defend it in the night from the great numbers of Arabs that
would come to rob and plunder them. Every night, when it is necessary to
make fast the boat to the bank, good watch must be kept against the
Arabs, who are great thieves and as numerous as ants; yet are they not
given to murder on these occasions, but steal what they can and run
away. Arquebuses are excellent weapons for keeping off these Arabs, as
they are in great fear of the shot. In passing down the river from Bir
to Feluchia, there are certain towns and villages on the Euphrates
belonging to _the son of Aborise_, king of the Arabs and of the desert,
at some of which the merchants have to pay so many _medins_ of custom on
each bale.

[Footnote 121: It is obvious that Bagdat is here meant.--E.]


_Of Feluchia and Babylon._

Feluchia is a village on the Euphrates, where they who come from Bir for
Babylon disembark with their goods, and go thence by land to Babylon, a
journey of a day and a half. Babylon is no great city, but is very
populous and is greatly resorted to by strangers, being the great
thoroughfare for Persia, Turkey and Arabia, and from this place there
are frequent caravans to different countries. Babylon is abundantly
supplied with provisions, which are brought down the river Tigris on
certain rafts or _zattores_ called Vtrij, the river Tigris running past
the walls of Babylon. The blown-up hides of which these rafts are
composed, are bound fast together, on which boards are laid, and on
these boards the commodities are loaded. When unladed at Babylon, the
air is let out of the skins, which are then laid on the backs of camels
and carried back to serve for another voyage. The city of Babylon is
properly speaking in the kingdom of Persia, but is now under the
dominion of the Turks. On the other side of the river towards Arabia,
over against Babylon, there is a handsome town in which is an extensive
Bazar for the merchants, with many lodging rooms, in which the greater
part of the stranger merchants that go to Babylon expose their goods
for sale. The passage across the river between Babylon and this town is
by a long bridge of boats chained together with great chains: And when
the river is swollen by the great rains, this bridge is opened in the
middle, one half falling alongside of the walls of Babylon, and the
other half along the opposite bank of the borough. So long as the bridge
remains open, the people cross from side to side in small boats with
much danger, by reason of their smallness, and that they are usually
overladen, so that they are very liable to be overset by the swiftness
of the current, or to be carried away and wrecked on the banks. In this
manner-many people are lost and drowned, as I have often witnessed.

The tower of Nimrod, or Babel, is situated on the Arabian side of the
Tigris, in a great plain, seven or eight miles from Babylon. Being
ruined on every side, it has formed a great mountain, yet a considerable
part of the tower is still standing, compassed and almost covered up by
these ruins. It has been built of square bricks dried in the sun, and
constructed in the following manner. In the first place a course of
bricks was laid, then a mat made of canes squared like the bricks, and
daubed with earth instead of lime mortar; and these mats still remain so
strong that it is wonderful considering their great antiquity. I have
gone all round it without being able to discover any place where there
had been a door or entrance, and in my opinion it may be about a mile in
circumference or rather less. Contrary to all other things, which appear
small at a distance and become larger the nearer they are approached,
this tower appears largest when seen from afar, and seems less as you
come nearer. This may be accounted for, as the tower stands in a very
large plain, and with its surrounding ruins forms the only perceptible
object; so that from a distance the tower and the mountains formed of
its ruins make a greater shew than it is found to be on coming near.


_Of Basora._

From Babylon I embarked in one of those small vessels which ply upon the
Tigris between Babylon and Basora, which are built after the manner of
foists or galliots, having a _speron_[122] and a covered poop. They use
no pumps, being so well daubed with pitch as effectually to exclude the
water. This pitch they have from a great plain near the city of _Heit_
on the Euphrates, two days journey from Babylon. This plain full of

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