A Discourse in general concerning the City of Tun∣quin, and of the Manner how the Author came to have knowledge thereof.
THE Kingdom of Tunquin has been long unknown to the People of Europe; nei∣ther have they, who have given us Rela∣tions thereof, well understood the Coun∣try, as having trusted too much to defective and fabulous Descriptions and Observations. Not that I am willing to be over severe in censuring; but submissively I am bold to af∣firm, That this which I here make Public was extracted out of my Brother's Writings, of which I had the overlooking in Page 2 my second Voyage that I made to the Indies; and of which I was the more confident, for that the Author had been one who had made Eleven or Twelve Voyages from Batavia, Bantam, and Achem, to Tunquin: Other Observa∣tions I collected from the Tunquinesi themselves, with whom I have had several Discourses, during the time that I was at Batavia and Bantam, where they principally trade. And that which gave me the more light was this, That those Merchants several times bring along with them some of their Bonze's or Priests, as also some of their Learned Men to teach their Children to Write and Read. For these Mer∣chants when they make a Voyage by Sea, carry all their Families along with them. And from these Bonze's and other Learned Men I had several Observations and Memoirs in Writing, as being desirous to be inform'd by me of the Government and Situation of our France. And as I was never without an Atlas and some other particular Maps, they were ravish'd with admiration, when I shew'd them the Structure and Composure of the whole World, and the Situation of its several Kingdoms and Estates.
Therefore may the Reader with the more pleasure and delight peruse these Relations, when he has so much reason to be persuaded that they are cordially done, and that they are made public by a person whose sincerity has no design to abuse him. My Brother, who was a person both cun∣ning and couragious, and one that lov'd to Travel as well as my self, having heard much talk in the Indies of the Grandeur of the Kingdom of Tunquin, resolv'd to go thither, and as he had a particular gift to learn a Language in a little time, he soon grew familiar with the Malaye, which is the Language of the Learned in those quarters of Asia, as Latin is among Us in Europe. He understood that Silk, Musk, and other Commodities of the like nature, were much cheaper there then in other places adjoyning, and that the People dealt with more fairness and honesty. Upon the encourage∣ment of which Information he prepar'd a Ship, and made his Voyages with good success.
He always carri'd with him a good Sum of Money; and more then that, he stor'd himself with a considerable number of small Curiosities, to present the King and his Nobility, according to the general Custom of all the Eastern Countries: Page 3 Thus he came to be well receiv'd the first time that he set foot in the Country; so that the Customer being by him oblig'd with a small Clock; a pair of small Pistols, and two Pictures, which were the Pictures of two Curtesans, imme∣diately gave notice to the King of his arrival. Thereupon having order to attend the Court, and coming to kiss the King's hands, the whole Assembly was surpris'd to hear a Stranger, born in a Country so far distant, speak the Malaye Language so fluently. The King gave him a favourable reception, and kindly receiv'd the Present which he brought along with him. It was a very noble Sword, of which the Handle and Hilt were all over enchac'd with Rubies and Emraulds, with a Backsword Blade. To this he added a pair of Pistols, adorn'd and inlaid with Silver, a Persian Saddle and Bridle, embroider'd with Gold and Silver, a Bow and Quiver full of Arrows, and six Pictures, like those which he had given the Customer. These things highly pleas'd the King, who presently drew forth the Sword out of the Scabbard, the better to look upon and consider it. At length one of his Sons took it up, to try whether it would fit his hand as well as those of his own Country, and offer'd to make a blow. My Brother, seeing the young Prince handle the Weapon gracefully enough, after the manner of the Country, told the King, that if he pleas'd, he would show the King how they handled that Weapon in France, of which the King readily consented to be a Spectatour.
This was my Brother's first Reception at Court; for he made several Voyages to Tunquin, and every time that he return'd, they still the more and more obligingly entertain'd him. But that which fix'd him more in the good opinion and favour of the King and Lords of the Court, was his •…olic and gentile behaviour in playing with them for several large Sums, insomuch that being one that ventur'd deep; he lost above 20000 Crowns in one Voyage. However the King, who was a generous Prince, would not suffer him to be a loser, but gave him those considerable Presents that suppli'd his losses. By means of my Brother's thus long sojourning in Tunquin, and the familiar acquaintance which he had at Court, together with the Trade which he drove in the Kingdom, as he was diligent to inform himself of all the Curiosities of the Country, it was easie for me upon Page 4 the same foundation to lay the Structure of these Memoirs. Though I may safely say, I was no less laborious in my own particular, and by the frequent Discourses which I had with a great number of the Tunquineses, with whom I met both at Bantam and Batavia that came thither to Trade, and whom I often treated at my own Expences, to inform my self of the particular Ceremonies and Customs of their Country.
Thus you see the Grounds and Foundations of this Rela∣tion, which is both faithful and exact, and by which that noble Country, of which the Descriptions hitherto have been so obscure and uncertain, shall be truly discover'd and set forth, such as it is; declaring withal, that no other Con∣sideration or Interest, then that of speaking truth, has incited me to undertake this Description.
For the better observation of a right Method in pursuance of this Relation, and to conduct the Reader gradatim to the more perfect knowledge of this Kingdom, I will speak first of its Situation, its Extent, and its Climate. Next I shall come to discourse of its Qualities, its Riches, and its Trade, which are the three Springs and Sources of the Strength and Force of a Nation. Next I shall give an Ac∣count of the Customs and Manners of the People as well in their particular OEconomy and Civil Society, as in relation to their Marriages, their Visits and Festivals. Next to this we shall give a brief Account of the Learning, and learned Men, and among them of their Physicians, and the Subject of their Art, that is to say, of the Diseases particular to the Country. We shall also give a Relation of the Original of the Government and Policy of the Kingdom of Tunquin, of the Condition of the Court, of the Inauguration and Fune∣rals of their Kings, and in the last place of the Original of the Inhabitants.
And I dare ingage, that the Map of the Country, and the Cuts which were drawn upon the place, will no less contri∣bute to the Divertisement of the Reader, then to the Expla∣nation of the Matter which they contain.