From Bassora,May 20. 1625.
OUr Ship being ready to depart for Bassora, and being to [ I] touch by the way about Ormuz, in order to consign some things to the General Ruy Freira, pertaining to the ser∣vice of the Armada; after all the rest that were to go were im∣barqu'd, (amongst which were Don Francesco Contigno Covacio, who intended for Ormuz; two bare-footed Carmelites, who were for Bassora; and the F. Provincial of Maniglia in the Philippine Islands, who was passing into Europe) I went aboard with my people at night, January the six and twentieth. Yet the Vessel went not off till the next day, and with no favourable wind we sail'd about six Leagues, casting Anchor at night not far from the shore.
January the eight and twentieth, Having sail'd a while, a con∣trary wind forc'd us to Anchor again; and indeed in this Persian Gulph, the wind is so inconstant, and with-all so strong, that if it happen to be contrary, there is little good to be done by con∣testing against it in this narrow Sea, but those that sail in it must in such case either cast Anchor, or be driven backwards. We anchor'd so near land, and in so little water, under a place call'd Sibo, about seven Leagues from Mascat, that the contrary wind increasing, and the Anchor not sufficing to retain the Ship, we were in great danger of being split upon the shore, to the loss of all our goods and perhaps lives too, the Coast being very craggy, and the Sea extremely rough. We were so near being lost, that the Ship almost toucht the ground; but a small sail, hanging on the rope which runs from the top of the Mast to the Stern, and is call'd by the Portugal's Sabaco sav'd us; which sail alone we could make use of, to keep off the shore; though it being small, and the Vessel heavy, it suffic'd not to move it much. The A∣rabians were already gathered together in great number upon the shore to get the booty, and perhaps also to take our persons in case the Ship should be split; for in these troublesom times of war they were here but little friends to the Portugals of Mascat. But at length, as it pleas'd God, by the help of Oars and the diligence of Sig. Franc. Contigno Covacio (who in many things supply'd the ignorance or negligence of other Officers of the Ship) we turn'd-about the Stern of the Ship to the Sea, and being deliver'd from imminent danger, had time to hoise the Trinket to the wind, as before we could not, because it was on the other side of the Mast, which they call Under-the-wind, and could not be brought about without more time then our sudden and present danger permitted. After which, because the wind so requir'd, and it was dangerous going ashore for water among the Arabians,Page 236 we determin'd to return to Mascat; and having pass'd the Island della Vittoria, (so call'd from a notable Victory obtain'd by the Portugals against an Armada of Turkish Galleys which came to make war upon Mascat) about-evening we re-entred the port of Mascat; where our Ship falling foul upon another Ship that rode there at anchor, we became in a new danger of suffering shipwrack or at least, some considerable dammage. Many went ashore to sleep there all night; but being our departure was to be spee∣dily, I only sent my servants to fetch me some refreshment.
January the thirtieth, The Ship having taken water, and all our company imbarqu'd, at four a clock afternoon we set sail again from Mascat, and about Ave-Mary-time repass'd the Island della Vittoria (which lies only two leagues from Mascat) sailing between it and the Continent: as we had done before.
[ II] January the one and thirtieth, As we were sailing with a small wind, we descry'd a Sail a far off, which seeing us, discharg'd a Gun, as a sign for us to stay till it came up to us: whence we un∣derstood it to be one of Ruy Freira's Fleet; for by custom the Ships of war in India do thus, and other Merchant-Ships are oblig'd to stay and obey; if not, the War-ship may sink them. Accordingly we stay'd, and by the help of Oars it presently made towards us. Wherein I observ'd the little Military Discipline, and good or∣der practis'd by the Portugals in India; for there was all the reason in the world, that, if we stay'd the coming up of this Ship, according to the custom, yet we should not have trusted it till we knew what it was; for it might have been an Enemy or a Rover, as there are many in these Seas, who being Portugals by Nation, and banish'd for some misdemeanors, betake themselves to carry Pepper, Arms, and other prohibited things to the Territories of the Moors. Wherefore to secure our selves from all deceit and dammage, which such a Ship feigning to be of Ruy Freira's Armada might have done us, we should have stay'd in∣deed, but it ought to have been with our Arms in our Hands, Falcons, Corchabuses, and Muskets loaden; and, in short, in a posture of defence and fighting, as occasion requir'd. On the contrary, this good Discipline was observ'd neither on our part, nor by the Vessel which came to see who we were; which im∣prudent confidence, though it succeeded well in this case, yet was undeniably a great and perillous error; and had the event been ill, it could not have been excus'd otherwise then by saying, Non putaram, a word) (according to Cicero, very little besitting Prudent Men. This Vessel of the Armada demanded of us water and Mariners. Now amongst the Portugals, tis a custom for these War-ships to take from Merchants which they meet what they please, either by fair means or by foul; although 'tis but a disorderly thing, and many inconveniences happen by it. Of water we gave them two barrels, but no Mariners, because we had few enough for our selves, and they took them not by force, (as they would perhaps have done from others) out of respect to Page 237 Sig: Coutigno, who was in the Ship with us; and the rather be∣cause we told them, we were going to carry Provisions to Ruy Freira, who, they informed us, was retreated into the Island of Larek, and that the Armada of Goa was not yet arriv'd, and also that themselves were going to Mascat for Provisions. In the Evening, we met a Terrada, or Bark of Ruy Freira's Fleet, going likewise to Mascat, by which we understood the same News.
February the first, The wind turning contrary, we cast anchor at distance from land for more security, the shore being all the way on our left hand.
February the second, Though the wind became somewhat fa∣vourable, [ III] we weigh'd not anchor, because we were to land an Augustine Fryer at Sohar, of which place he was Curate; and neither we nor the Pilot knowing whether we had pass'd Sohar, or not; nor yet what Land it was where we were, therefore we sent our Boat ashore to inquire; it brought word that Sohar lay a little more forward, and thereupon it was remitted to carry the said Fryer on shore, that so he might ride thither on a Camel by Land. This business took up all the day. At night we set sail, but with no favourable wind, so that we were constrain'd to anchor again a little further; till about midnight, the wind ••∣sing a little in our favour we set forwards. The land in this place is a low Plain, as the word Sohar signifies; yet we saw abun∣dance of hills at a great distance from the shore. Sohar is four and twenty leagues from Mascat.
February the sixth, Having by the help of Oars with much dif∣ficulty come to Chursakan, which is twelve leagues beyond Sohar, in the morning we sail'd under Doba which lies three leagues further. The Portugals had not so much confidence in the people as to think fit to enter into the Port, but resolv'd to go three leagues onwards to a secure place of friendly Arabians call'd Lima. The coast of Doba is mountainous, and the Town stands behind a Promontory which runs far into the Sea. Here we first discern'd the opposite coast of the Persian Gulph, from whence rather rowing then sailing, by Sun-set we came to an an∣chor under Lima. Many of our Ships went ashore, some to fetch provisions, of which they found but little store, and others to refresh themselves.
I was not in a condition to do the like, being in bed under deck by reason of an Ague; as also was Mariam Tinatim; so that nei∣ther of us could so much as look up to behold the Land.
February the seventh, We pass'd by the Cape of Mosendom, at the point of which stand two or three Rocks one further then another into the Sea. That nearest the Cape is greatest, and the remotest is the least, which they call Baba Selam; the Moorish Sea-men when they pass by it, salute it with many shouts of joy.
Page 238 [ IV] Having pass'd by this Cape, (which is, as I believe within ten or twelve leagues of Ormuz) leaving Ormuz and Bender di Kombra on the right hand, (because we presum'd the Dutch and English Ships to be there) we directed our course towards Larek, hoping to find Ruy Freira there, as we had understood by the way; but a little after, we descry'd two Ships of Ruy Freira's Ar∣mada (as we suppos'd) in two several places towards the Land; each of which gave us a Gun; whereby we apprehended that they intended either to receive or give us some necessary Ad∣vertisement. Wherefore quitting our course to Larek, we turn'd the Stern to the coast of Arabia, towards which one of the said Ships about Sun-set seem to be retir'd. We approach't near the Land about Evening, and passing amidst certain Rocks, went to cast anchor within a little bay which was there; but in the narrow streight between a Rock and the Continent, a most im∣petuous current of the Sea hurri'd us away so furiously, that without giving us time to let down the sail, it had almost dash't us against the foot of certain high Rocks, where, if we had touch't, without doubt our Ship had been split in a thousand pieces, nor had any one of us escap't with life unless by miracle: nevertheless by plying our Oars stoutly, and at length letting down the sail, by God's mercy we were delivered from this im∣minent and manifest danger. Yet not so fully, but that we had like to have been cast upon another Rock, not so much through the violence of the Current, as the negligence of the Sea-men who did not govern the Sails and Helm well. But at length, be∣ing by the Divine Assistance freed from both dangers, we got to the place we design'd, and there found one of Ruy Freira's Ships which had given us a Warning-piece in the preceding day; and also an armed Bark of that sort which they call Terrankim, and are almost such as our Caichi or Shallops; which Bark Ruy Freira sent to the Rock Baba Selam there to wait for the Armada of Goa, and advertise him when it arriv'd. In the Ship was Sig. Sancho di Toar, who the last year had been sent from Goa Gene∣ral of certain Ships to assist Ruy Freira, and being weary of the war, now with his licence (obtain'd, as may be thought, by importunity) was returning to Mascat, and so to Goa, with se∣venty or eighty soldiers that accompani'd him. After we had cast anchor, although it was very dark, yet some of the said soldiers, and the Captain of the Terranquim came to our Ship to speak with Don Francesco Cavacio; so also did the Captain of the Ship, the abovesaid di Toar, next morning. Don Francesco dis∣swaded the soldiers from deserting the war in a time of so great need, and of so fair an occasion as would be at the coming of the Armada of Goa, which was approaching hourly; telling them that at Goa it would be held an action little honourable, and that the Vice-Roy would severely punish whoever return'd thither abandoning Ruy Freira: In short, he said so much to them, that being assur'd of the coming of the Fleet of Goa,Page 239 which before they disbeliev'd and accounted only a report to keep the soldiers in suspence) almost all of them chang'd their purpose, and resolv'd to continue at the war, after they had been at Mascat only to provide themselves some necessaries. Of such moment to the publick good is the authority and prudent dis∣course of a worthy person amongst people. We had news from them, that Ruy Freira had quitted Larek, because the English at the instance of the Persians had gone thither with their Ships to drive him thence; whereupon having first destroy'd certain Shops of Provision, which he had made there for convenience of the soldiers, and a weak Trench, he remov'd with his Ar∣mada of Oars to a desart station of Arabia a little beyond the place where we were, and there we should find him; that if we had gone to Larek, we should have incurr'd the danger of fal∣ling into the enemies hands; and therefore, as soon as they saw us, they shot off a Warning-piece to recall us from that bad way. They told us moreover, that before the Portugals were driven from Larek, Ruy Freira going one day with the greatest part of his Ships to make an appearance about Ormuz, a great Tempest arose, by which four Ships which he left at Larek, were driven upon the Rocks of the Island, and lost, with the death of many people; and that it was a great mercy of God that Ruy Freira was not there with his other Ships, because they would have been all lost, although they wanted not a share of trouble too by the tempest in the place where they were. Hence I concluded that misfortunes every day increas'd upon'the Portugals in India, so that I know not what good judgment can be made of their affairs for the future.
February the eighth, in the morning, We departed from the place where we were, and coasting along in less then an hour, we arriv'd at a little Island which they call delle Capre or delle Ga∣zelle, near the Continent of Arabia, almost within a Bay which affords an ample and secure Port for small Vessels. This place lies almost directly over against Ormuz, so that Ormuz will come to be sixty leagues distant from Mascat, and consequently eighteen from Lima. Here we found Ruy Freira with part of his Ships, of which some were mending; I say, Part, because he had sent some to the Cape of Giask to wait for the Armada of Goa, some to Mascat for Provision (of which he had but small store) and some to the Port of Guadel to scout, and some about other services. Assoon as we had cast anchor, Ruy Freira came in person to our Ship acompani'd by some of his Captains, and stay'd there between two and three hours receiving and distribu∣ting amongst them certain small provisions of Victual and Arms which were brought him; reading the Viceroy's Letters and many other which came to him from Goa, and discoursing with Don Francesco Contigno Cavacio, and others, giving them account of all his successes, and inquiring concerning the Armada and other things which we knew. And because we assur'd him, the Armada Page 240 could not be long before it arriv'd, since we came all together from Ciaul at the same time; he sent forth another Ship to meet it, with order to inform them where he was, and presently to re∣turn and advertise him of his arrival, that he might go out and joyn with it. I could not be present at all the Conversation, be∣cause I had my Ague and was in bed. Yet upon his coming, I arose and dress'd my self to wait upon him, as I did so long as I was able; but at length I was forc'd to retire, and only return'd to take leave of him when he departed. He made many com∣plements to me, telling me that he had long since had knowledg of my person by fame, and should always be ready to serve me upon any occasion; with other like Civilities. I offer'd him to shew him the Pass I had from the Viceroy, because I had heard him say in discourse how strictly the Viceroy had charg'd him not to let any one pass into the Territories of the Turks without his licence; but he would not look upon it, and told me it needed not for me, re-iterating that he was ready to serve me; to which civil language I answer'd in the best terms I could, signifying to him how great a while I had been desirous to see his person, and to serve him; The fame of his actions testifi'd to me by the mouths of his very enemies, and how he was spoken of at Goa both by the Viceroy and all others; all which he receiv'd as kindly as I did his obliging expressions. At length he return'd to his own Ship, taking with him Don Francesco Contigno Cavaccio, the F. Provincial of Maniglia, and divers others, to be enter∣tain'd there with him all the day; but I remain'd in bed with my Ague.
February the ninth, Having taken a Persian Pilot which Ruy [ VI] Freira gave us, (because the Portugal Pilots are not very skilful in the Persian Gulph, by reason of the multitude of shelves, and the inconstancy of the winds, which make it needful to have a Pilot of the Country) at night we put off from the abovesaid Island steering our course outwards. Almost at the same time Ruy Freira went with some of his Ships, leaving order for the rest to follow him as soon as they should be repair'd; and by the in∣ner way, to wit, by the channel between the Island and the Continent, went I know not where to take in water, intending afterwards to see how matters were at Ormuz, where there rode ten Ships of War, Dutch and English, partly under the Castle, and partly in Bender di Kombru, having already put what relief they pleas'd into the place.
February the tenth at evening, We arriv'd at a Bay which they call de 'i Limoni, from the multitude of Lemons growing in a Village hard by. And on the fifteenth of the same Month, having pass'd the Island call'd Tombo, another call'd by the Portugals Piloro, that is, the Ball; and lastly that which they call Cais, once famous for its competition with Ormuz, both in War, and the Traffick of India, but now altogether desolated by war, we wereby a con∣trary wind forc't to return somwhat backwards, and cast anchor Page 241 under the said Island Cais, which is forty Leagues from Ormuz. Some of our people went ashore to refresh themselves, but found nothing except a few Herbs, and a fruit like Goos-berries; which yet to us that were ill furnish'd with Provision were not unwel∣come. I must not omit here, that when we pass'd by the Bay of Lemons, we left the Coast of Arabia, and crost over to sail along the opposite Coast of Persia, which is the better way from from thence forward.
February the sixteenth, We departed from Cais, and at night certain Armenians who were in our Ship, were set a shore on the Persian side, in order to go to Nachilu, which was not far from thence, to meet certain companions of theirs who had gone before Mascat in another Ship with much common Merchandize.
February the seventeenth, A contrary wind repell'd our course backwards, so that we anchor'd under an uninhabited Island call'd Andreve, where we stay'd till the twentieth of the same Moneth, when the above-said Armenians, not finding their com∣panions at Nachilu, return'd to the Ship, and brought two Let∣ters from the Governour of that place; one to the Captain and all the rest in general, offering the Ship a free Port, and desiring us to sell our Merchandize there, because they had suffer'd much by war; that they would shew all good usage to the Portugals as Merchants; and in case we trusted him not so much as to go a shore, we might ride at Anchor in the open Sea, and they would send people and money to buy many things. The other Letter was directed to the Religious that were in the Ship, some of whom he had understood were minded to go to Sphahan; and therefore he promis'd them good and secure passage with all cour∣tesie. But neither did the Ship stay to sell any thing, nor the Religious think good to land in that place, for all those promises.
February the two and twentieth, Being at Anchor in a certain place, at night we descry'd some Vessels afar off, which we knew not what they were; and therefore weighing Anchor, and put∣ting our selves in a posture for fight, we row'd up to them. When we came near, we found them to be of those Persian Ves∣sels, which they call Terrats, (a kind of great bark, frequent in these Seas) laden with Dates and Victuals. Yet because they neither stay'd for us nor obey'd, we discharg'd some Falcons and many Muskets at them, without doing any hurt, because of those that shot none knew how to do it as they ought, but all was done with great confusion and disorder, as is usual amongst the Portugals, especially in our Ship, which was a Merchant and not a Man of War. So that the Persian Terrats went away un∣touch'd, and we not onely took them not, as we might easily have done, had our Ships been well arm'd and well-govern'd; but it seem'd also, that, had those Vessels had armed people, and a mind to assault us, they might easily have taken us, consider∣ng the little order and preparation for fight that I saw in our Sihip.
Page 242February the seven and twentieth, The wind not being good, [ VII] our Marriners, who were Indians, but of the Mahometan Religion, ty'd a bundle of clothes, which they said was the Old Man (but I know not what Old Man they meant) to one of the Ropes of the sails , and there fell to beat it vehemently, crying out to it, to give them a good wind; in the mean time, other Mariners desir'd him that beat it, to desist, saying that it would give them a good wind. This superstitious Ceremony, not unlike that above-mention'd of the Portugals binding S. Anthony of Padua, I was willing to insert for its strangeness; although through the ignorance of the Mariners themselves, who could give no other reason for it but that the custom was so; or because they would not tell us; I could not understand what Old Man it was that they beatt, under the figure of a bundle of Clothes, or from whom they demanded a good wind.
February the eight and twentieth, We were minded to take in water in the Country of Verdistan (a part of Persia), of which we had great need; but the people of the place prohibited us, repelling the boat from the shore with many Musket-shots. And being we had not Souldiers to land and take water by force, it behov'd us to have patience and depart without.
March the first, We put out to Sea, to avoid certain shelves that were neer the Persian shore, which here we found low and flat, whereas hitherto it had been all mountainous; at night, we came under Riscel, a Port of Persia in the state of Siraz, but no good one.
March the second, A little before night we came to an Anchor under the Island of Charg, which lyes distant from Cais 24 Giam. (A Giam is a measure us'd by the Arabian and Persian Pilots in the Per∣sian Gulph, containing three leagues; so that from Cais to Charg we had sayl'd 70 Leagues.) From Charg to Bassora, they told us, there remain'd eight Giam, and as many from Charg to Bahhaerein: The part of the Continent nearest Charg, is Bender Rich, belong∣ing, as I conceive, to the Country of Loristan, from which this Island is distant two Giam. We cast Anchor between Charg and another little Island which lyes to the North-west, and is call'd Chargia. Charg is a little Island having a Town of forty or fifty Houses, wherein there is a Meschita with the Sepulchre (vene∣rated by the Moors) of one Muhhammed Anefia, who, the people of the Island say, was one of the Descendents of Muhhammed. Because the Sea was very rough we did not go a shore; but a Por∣tugal Ship belonging to the Captain of Ciaul and bound for Bas∣sora, put in at the same Island.
March the fourth, We went on the other side of the Island to get water, of which we stood in great need; and my Ague having left me, I landed with the rest upon the Island, where I saw little besides the above-said Sepulchre, and others less venerable, which they said were of some of the familiars of him that was buried in the greater; there was also a Grotta cut out by hand in stone, Page 243 which by some carv'd work of the Frontis-piece, and the form within, seems to have been made for a Temple or place of burial, but now 'tis used onely as a stall for Cattel. The Island it self is low and plain; the Peasants sow it with Corn, Onyons, and a few other such things; but 'tis poor enough, the wealth of the Inhabitants consisting for the most part in the fish which they take. They speak the Persian Language, and indeed are Vassals of Persia, though by reason of their poverty they pay no Tribute to the Persians. They told me, that they are govern'd by a Chief, called, according the custom of the Arabians, Sceich, which dig∣nity descends from Father to Son; that in the war between the Persians and the Portugals, the former had intended to have built a Fort here, whereby to hinder the Portugal Ships from watering here as they passed by; but the Inhabitants excused themselves from it by their poverty; and by treating all parties alike friendly, they have escaped unmolested by any, and enjoy their sweet Liberty upon no other account but their poverty. They told me also, that free Trade was granted to all the Inhabitants of this Persian Coast between Charg and Bassora, both by the Portugals and the people of Bassora, so that they were not molested by any party; the ground of which I take to be, because Bassora hath not sufficient Victuals, the greatest part being brought thi∣ther from these Lands of Persia; and on the other side, the Por∣tugals need Provision for their Fleet which they keep at Bassora, to assist the place against the Persians. At night we return'd aboard, having exchanged the Persian Pilot, which Ruy Freira gave us for one of Charg, it being the custom so to do. It rained in the night, and the Sea grew high; wherefore for more se∣curity, we put off from the land further to Sea.
March the sixth, Very early in the Morning we departed from Charg, together with the other Ship of Ciaul, yet each taking its own way; and we proceeded coasting along Persia, which lay on the right hand: The next day the wind failing we cast Anchor, so far from the Persian shore that it was out of sight; yet we found no more water than about ten fathom; and in∣deed, we were fain to sail when the wind arose, with plummet constantly in hand, by reason of the shallow which are here∣abouts.
March the eighth, We sailed still out of sight of land, yet had but four fathom of water; and because the shallow is equal in this place for a great way together, the Persian Pilots call it Mei∣dan, that is, the Plain. The next day we sailed a little, but most of the day lay at Anchor, because the Pilots could not find the mouth of the River of Bassora, although it seem'd to us to be very near; and indeed, 'tis no easie matter to find it, the shore being so low that it is not discerned, unless very near hand; and to approach so near the shore as to discern the River, is not safe by reason of the shallows.
March the eleventh, In seeking the mouth of the River, opinions [ VIII] Page 244 were so various, and consequently the Ship governed with such confusion, that the rudder strook on ground, not without some danger; but at length with much diligence we freed the Ship, and got into more water (the Ship of Ciaul, which, as lighter, drew less water, going before us as guide, and entring into the River's mouth before we knew it.) The River of Bassora (which is Euphrates and Tygris joyned together) is call'd by the Arabians Sciat d' Arab, that is, the Arabian River, and falls into the Sea with two great Mouths about twelve Leagues distant one from the other. The most Easterly, which is the biggest and securest, lyes on the side of Ormuz and Persia, whose name it borrows: The more Westerly, and less frequented by great Ships, lyes on the side of Buhhreim, or Cutifu of Arabia, from whence it assumes a name. And because the division of the River into two Branches happens within the land a little below Bassora, I know not how many leagues from the Sea; hence it forms a no small Trianguler Iland, called at this day Cheder; which I hold to be the gift of the River (like the Delta of Egypt) and that it will increase eve∣ry day by the sand brought down by the River, considering the many flats and shallows, which as I said above are found in these places. Now we being entred by the Eastern mouth, and having sailed a good way against the stream, at length came to the place of the division; and leaving the more Westerly branch on the left hand, continued our course amongst the verdures of Date-trees and cultivated Fields, which on both sides the River down to the Sea are very fertile. At length we came to the place from whence up to the City of Bassora, (which lies on the west bank a good way from the River) is drawn an artificial Dike capable even of Portugal Galliots, which pass up to the Dogana or Custom-house, where a bridg of planks laid upon boats, and fortified with Iron chains crosseth the Dike; on the South-part of which bridg stands a Castle, and strong Bulwark for guard of the City and passage. The water of this trench ebbs and flows with the Sea, and at high Tide runs up I known not how far beyond the bridg; yet Ships go no further then the bridg, where they ride as in a secure Haven. From this trench are derived some other little channels on either side to several places of the City; and in some of them they make use of small Boats, which they call Do∣ne•, with great convenience to the houses; besides that they want not little bridges upon the said channels to walk over on foot.
[ IX] The City of Bassora is large and populous, but ill built, and till of late without walls; for by reason of these wars with the Persians they have almost inclosed it with an earthen Rampart; within which is the Bazar of Goldsmiths, and for linnen Cloth, and all the best things that are sold. Before the Castle is an in∣different large Piazza, where there are some great Pieces of Ordnance, amongst which we saw certain Portugal Pieces which had been taken many years ago by the Turks of Bassora from Mas∣catPage 245 when they infested the seas with their Galleys, which after∣wards were destroy'd by the Portugals. Another Piazza there is before the Basha's House, which is always full of heaps of Corn, Rice, and other Fruits, which are to be sold here; being kept night and day without other shops or inclosure then ordinary mats, without fear of stealing in regard of the strict justice exer∣cis'd by the Turks in matter of Theft. The people are Arabians with some Turks intermix'd, so that the Arabian Language is most spoken, although the Turkish and Persian are not unfre∣quent. As for Religion, the Moors are partly Sonai's, and part∣ly Scinai's, with Liberty of Conscience to both; yet in the Meschita's the Service is after the manner of the Sonai's, and al∣so all publick Ceremonies are perform'd after the Rite of the So∣nai's, which is that which the Great Turk, who is King of this Country, observes at Constantinople. There are also some Hou∣ses of Chaldean Christians, call'd Christians of S. John, or Sabe∣ans; though I believe they have little more besides the name of Christians; for they have no Church except the House of one single Priest, who was there in my time, and he a very Idiot; nor could I learn that they ever assembled there to be present at any Divine Service. They have no Fast or abstinence from Flesh, but eat every day alike. Nor have they any Sacraments, ex∣cept some shadow of them; and 'tis a question whether their Baptism be such as it ought to be, and not rather the Baptism of S. John then of Christ. And because in this, and many other things, they observe S. John Baptist more then any other, and have him in greatest Veneration, therefore they are call'd Christians of S. John, with no small suspition of being the remainder of those Jews whom S. John baptiz'd with the Baptism of Repentance, and who, without caring for any thing else, have continu'd in that Rite ever since. The Gospels, and other sacred Books, 'tis not known (at least) in Bassora, that they have or use; but they have a Book which they call Sidra, according whereunto they govern themselves in matters of Religion; but who is the Au∣thor of it, I know not. They speak a harsh Chaldee, besides A∣rabick which is generally in use; which Language of theirs they call Mendai, as also for the most part amongst themselves they are styl'd Mendai, besides the two other names of Christians of S. John and Sabeans, by the first of which they are known to us Europaeans, and by the latter to the Moors. What Mendai sig∣nifies, and whence it is deriv'd, I could not learn. They have also particular Characters different from the ordinary Chaldaick and Syrian, both ancient and modern, wherewith they transcribe their sacred Books, but commonly none can either read or write this character besides the Priest, who by an Arabick word is usually styl'd Sceich, that is, Old Man. I could not learn any thing more concerning them, because they are few and very Idiots; only I think they may be those Sabean Heretick mention'd in Histories, and particularly in the Elenchus Alphabeticus Haereticorum of Ga∣briel Page 246 Prateolus, who relates their Original and Rites. Besides these of Bassora, there are other at Hhaveiza, which is neer Bas∣sora, at Durec, Sciuscter, and many other places of Persia; a∣mounting, as they say, to many thousand Families: yet in Hha∣veiza there are more then in any place else, where they have a place inhabited only by themselves, call'd Kiumalava, or, as themselves pronounce it, Chiumalava, reading the Letter K with the sound of Ch. Here live certain of their chief Priests, Monks, and Bishops, whom they all Chanzaba, and by whom they are govern'd in Religion. I believe they have there some kind of Church, Sacrifice, and all other things better then at Bassora; yet because I cannot speak either upon my own knowledg, or any sufficient & credible information, I shall not relate any thing more of them; although I had once a servant of the same Nation, born in Kiumalava near Hhaveiza, who amongst them was call'd Ro∣heh, but being afterwards re-baptiz'd by our Religious, was nam'd Giovanni Robeh. I shall only add concerning Bassora, that of late dayes the City hath been more frequented with the trade of the Portugals of India, (to wit, since the loss of Ormuz) five of whose Ships at my being there continually rode in the River to defend the place from the attempts of the common enemy the Persian. Upon the conflux of many Europaean Christians hither, the bare-footed Carmelite-Fathers of Persia first, and af∣terwards the Portugal Augustines of Goa have built two Churches, either Order one, wherein the Catholick and Roman Rite is pub∣lickly observ'd. That of the Carmelites, the Seat whereof was partly given them by the Basha, and partly bought by themselves, I found already finish't with a small Cloister, and some Cells for the Fathers that live there: of its Dedication which hapned in my time, I shall speak below. The Church of the Augustines had not its foundation yet fully laid, and they were in suspense whether to go on with the building or no, for fear lest the Persi∣ans should one day take Bassora in these wars which were on foot. So that in my time the said Fathers lived in an hired house, which the Basha paid for; yet they had a Church, or rather an Oratory there, wherein Mass, and all Divine Offices were publickly cele∣brated. Of Augustines, there were two at Bassora; one with the Title of Prior, was also Vicar to the Archbishop of Goa; likewise an Augustine Fryer, who, for the sake of the Portugals that resort to the City of Arabia, pretends to a Jurisdiction, which he usurps not without some intrusion upon the Bare-footed Carmelites, notwithstanding the Briefs of most ample Authority which they have obtain'd of the Pope for that purpose; inso∣much that in my time the said Augustine-Vicar publish't an Ex∣communication against all such as should not confess at Easter in their Church, although they did it in that of the Carmelites; and publish'd his Church to be the Parish-Church, and not the other, besides other like contentions between them; not with∣out some prejudice to the Affairs of Religion. The Basha, Page 247 who for the assistance which he had of the Portugals in the war, us'd not only them, but all Europaeans that came thither, very well; gave a Pension or Alms to either Church every Month sufficient for Provision; and he also well paid the five Portugal Ships which lay at Bassora for his service in the War.
Having entred the above-mention'd Dike, and cast anchor for fear of being carri'd back again by the violence of the ebbing water; we met with two of the said Portugal Ships at anchor, in one of which was the General himself: the other three were abroad in the great River near the place where the Basha had pitch't his camp to make head against the Persian Army, which was upon the Confines, and was rumor'd to intend an at∣tempt against Bassora.
Marcch the twelfth, Early in the morning, before we stir'd, I was visited in the Ship by F. Basilio a Bare-footed Carmelite, and by F. Fra. Paolo di Giesu an Italian Franciscan whom I had known at Goa, and who was now in his passage to Italy, lodg'd at Bas∣sora by the Carmelites. At night, upon the coming in of the Tide, we tow'd the Ship up to the City. On either side of the Dike, were abundance of Houses and Gardens, which render the passage very delightful. Having cast anchor within the Ci∣ty, near the Southern bank, which is most inhabited, I went a∣shore after dinner to seek a House; but not finding one to my mind return'd back to rest all night in the Ship.
March the thirteenth, Not finding a House to my content, upon further search, I got one to speak to Chogia Negem, the chiefest Christian of S. John then amongst them, being also Scibender of the Dogana; who, as a Christian and a Person of much huma∣nity, contracting an intimate friendship with me, did me a thou∣sand courtesies whilst I staid at Bassora. In the morning his Wife in person went about seeking a House for us; and at night I ac∣companied her to see one adjoyning to her own, which for that reason, and because it was somewhat better then the rest, al∣though far from good, I made choice of, and she promis'd to get it prepar'd for me against the next day; whereupon I return'd aboard this night also. This day Proclamation was made in Bas∣sora for every house to send out a man with Arms to the camp to aid the Basha in the War against the Persians, who were said to approach.
March the fourteenth, I took possession of the House pre∣par'd for me, and afterwards visited Sig. Consalvo Martino da Castelbranco, chief of the Portugals in Bassora, to deliver him a Letter which I had brought from the Viceroy of Goa, the ef∣fect whereof was only an earnest recommendation of me; upon which and other letters of friends which inform'd him of me, he very courteously offer'd me all his service. He told me good news (being one that might well know the same) of the affairs of Bassora, Persia, and Hhaveiza; namely, that Mansur, Brother to the deceased Mubarek, being some years ago sent by Sciah-AbbasPage 248 to Hhaveiza as Prince thereof, after he was well possess'd of the State, became not well affected to the King of Persia, though his Benefactor, (and indeed the Arabians cannot indure to be subject, but desire liberty above all things.) Now in order to recovering his Liberty, he held much correspondence with the neighboring Basha of Bassora, the Turk's Vassal, and of a contrary faction to the Persian, who was then Efrasiab Basha, who from Aga of Segmeni, as he was at first in the same City his native place, had made himself Basha by force, and endeavour'd to establish the dominion of that State in his own House, being tolerated, and indeed favour'd by the Turk, although half a Rebel; both because he carry'd himself well in the Government, and because he might not proceed to deny him that little obe∣dience which he gave him in words: Nor was it easie to chastise him in these Confines of the Enemies at such a distance from Con∣stantinople, or to make any other change in the City of Bassora, where he was so powerful. The Persian, understanding the friend∣ship which Mansur held with him, contrary to the custom of the o∣ther Princes of Haveiza, who us'd to make war against Bassora, and that (in short) Mansur was not obsequious and devoted to him as he desir'd; when he went upon the Expedition of Baghdad, he sent for him to come with his people to the Persian Camp to that war, and appointed Imamculi Chan Sciraz to march to Baghdad by Hhaveiza, and by all means to bring Mansur with him. The Chan perform'd the command of the Sciah, and coming near Hhaveiza, stay'd many dayes for Mansur, importuning him fre∣quently to come forth and go along with him. Mansur put him off so long with words and promises, that at length the Chan thought good to go away without him; yet arriv'd at Baghdad so late, that the Sciah had taken the City before; but, in conclu∣sion, Mansur stirr'd not. Thereupon the Sciah, after his re∣turn from the enterprize of Baghdad to Sphahan, sent several Messengers to Mansur to come to his Court; to all which Mansur answer'd that he would go speedily, but never went: Where∣fore the Sciah being incens'd against him, sent him word to come speedily by all means, otherwise he would send to take off his Head. To which Mansur answer'd, that if the Sciah were minded to cut off his Head, he might come in person to do it; That he knew very well how to defend it with his sword; That he was resolv'd not to go into Persia; and, That if the Sciah was King in Persia, himself was King in Hhaveiza; and that he did not value him. Hereupon the Sciah commanded the said Imam∣culi Chan to march into Hhaveiza with a great power, taking with him Mubhammed the Son of Mubarek, who had been educated in the Persian Court, and establishing him Prince there, either to bring away Mansur Prisoner, or else to kill him: Accordingly, a little before our arrival at Bassora, the Chan enter'd Hhaveiza with an Army, and the said Muhhammed. Mansur apprehending that most of the Grandees and the People would obey the Sciah,Page 249 and accept of Muhhamed for their Prince, to avoid being taken or slain, fled with about 500 that were faithful to him to Bassora, where Ali Basha the Son of Efrasiab, (who had succeeded his dead Father, or rather intruded into the Government by force before his Father expir'd) receiv'd him courteously, and gave him a piece of Territory belonging to the jurisdiction of Bassora, in the Confines of Hhaveiza, where he might live with his followers. The people of Hhaveiza in the mean time agreed with the Chan, and receiv'd Muhhamed for their Prince, being ready to obey the Chan in this, and what-ever else he should command; yet upon condition that no Qizilbasci should enter into Hhave∣iza, whereunto the Chan assented. Concerning Occurrences since our arrival at Bassora, News came that the Chan, after he had established Muhhamed in Hhaveiza, was advanc'd forwards with his Army towards Bassora, and was already enter'd into the State by a place which they call Qarna; intending, perhaps, to take certain Garrisons in those borders, and also to make fur∣ther progress: Whereupon the Basha went out against him with all his Forces, and three of the five Portugal Ships, which, as I said, he kept in Pay; the City of Bassora in the mean while being in great fear of the Persian Army.
As for other things more particularly pertaining to the State of this City, he told me, that after the taking of Ormuz, the [ XI] Sciah sent an Embassage to the then Basha of Bassora Efrasiab, to tell him, that he requir'd no more from Bassora but onely to have his Coyn stamp'd there, his Name us'd in the Acclamations of the People, and in the Prayers of the Meschita's, as King of the Country, instead of that of the Great Turk; and that the People of Bassora should wear their Turbants after the Persian manner; that as for the rest he should leave Efrasiab to rule in that State as absolute Lord, have the same confirm'd to his Issue, and be pro∣tected against the Turk or any other, without paying any Tri∣bute, but remaining in perfect Liberty. Efrasiab, who was a pru∣dent man, well knowing the wayes of the King of Persia, made no account of these offers, and thought not fit to adventure the safety of the State which he possess'd, upon uncertain hopes; but trusting in the aid of the Portugals, whose Ships might be of great use to him in that place, which the Persians in order to offend Bassora must pass by force, namely, either the Sea, or at least the great River, (the Persians having no Vessels fit to contest with such Ships) he rejected the Proposition of the Sciah, and presently re-manded the Ambassador with a strict Order imme∣diately to depart both the City and the State, lest he should se∣cretly corrupt some of the Grandees, who might afterwards pervert the people, who are half Sciani's, of the sect of the Sciah; telling him in brief, that he was the Great Turk's Vassal and so would die, and that he was prepar'd for War, is the Sciah pre∣tended any thing from him. The Sciah finding he could do no∣thing upon Bassora by fair means, commanded the Chan of Sciraz,Page 250 as his nearest Minister to that Country, and the most potent, to march thither with an Army, and attempt to take the same by force. Accordingly the Chan's Army came, (in which I know not whether himself was in person, or some other General) and by the way of Sciuscter, and other places belonging to the Sciah near Hhaveiza, enter'd into the State of Bassora; which entrance was the year before my arrival there, to wit, 1624. Yet he did not besiege the City, (as it was reported at Goa) nor yet come near it, but only besieg'd a Garrison in the Frontiers call'd Qaban, which was in danger of being lost, to the great hazard of all the rest of the Country, and the fear of Bassora it self; for the Persians fought valorously, and slew many of the Defendants; but at length, by the help of the Portugals, who from the adjoyning River did great mischief with the Artillery of their Ships to the Persian Camp, the Qizilbasci were repuls'd with loss, or rather, of themselves, (being wearied with the length of the attempt, or else re-call'd into Persia for other ser∣vices) they drew off and departed. Nor did they return again till the following year, as I have said, about the time of my arri∣val at Bassora, upon the occasion of displacing Mansur, and establishing Muhhamed the Son of Mubarek, Prince of Hhaveiza; when I found the new Ali Basha abroad with his Army, and three Portugal Ships to with-stand them, and the City of Bassora not without fear, because the Persian Army much exceeded theirs, both in number and quality of Souldiers.
March the sixteenth, News came to Bassora that the Armies [ XII] were very near, and almost fac'd one another; and Sig: Con∣salvo de Silveira, Chief Commander of the Portugal Squadron of Ships at Bassora, told me, that having heard that the Persians intended to bring seven pieces of Artillery by Sea to Durec, (a neighboring Port of theirs to Bassora) to be imploy'd in the War, he had sent forth two of his Ships, and one of those lighter Frigots which they call Sanguisei, to meet and intercept those Gunns, which would be a notable piece of service.
March the seventeenth, Chogia Negem, (who might well know things, as he that was imploy'd in much business by the Basha) in∣form'd me that the Persian Army consisted of 30000 men, and that there were seven Chans in it; which to me seem'd not pro∣bable, because if the Chan of Sciraz with his people was not suf∣ficient, 'twas possible his Brother Dand Chan, whose Govern∣ment is near him, and the Chan of Locistan, might be come; but that others more distant should be there for the sole war of Bas∣sora, there was no necessity, and consequently, no ground •o believe. He told me further, that now the waters were high there was no danger, nor could the Persians make much progress, by reason of the great River which they were to pass, and many over-flow'd Lands and Trenches full of water, wherewith Bas∣sora was now fortified: But when the waters came to be low, as they would be within three moneths, then Bassora would be in Page 251 danger: that as for defence by the Portugal Ships, the Persians might pass over the great River by a Bridge much higher and further from Bassora, either at Hhella, which is in their Hands, or at Baghdad it self, or some where else, without the Portugals being able to hinder them; that if they came but with Provision for a few dayes, the Country on the West side of the River on which Bassora stands, was not so desart but they might have forrage enough for a great Army: If this be true, as it may be, then considering the power of the Persians, their manner of warring, the situation, strength, and forces of the City of Bassora, I am confident, that at the long run it will not scape the Persians Hands, so long as he holds Baghdad, although in case of need the Grand Emir of the Desart (who is now Mudleg, surnamed as all his Predecessors were, Aburisc, that is, he of the Plume or Feather) should come to assist the Basha; who can now hope for no aid from the Turk, since the taking of Baghdad. He also related to me concerning Baghdad, that the place was betray'd to the Sciah by Bekir Subasci, call'd otherwise Dervise Mahhammed, whose Father (who pretended to render himself Tyrant there∣of) the Sciah caused publickly to be slain upon his entrance into it, but kept the Traytor with him, and us'd him well: That besides Baghdad, he took Kierkuc and Mousul by his Captains, and march'd beyond Hhella into the Country of Emir Aburisc, even to Anna and Taiba, within a little way of Aleppo, which was thereupon in great fear; and that he left a Garrison at Anna. But after the Sciah, and the main of his Army was retir'd into Persia, Emir Aburisc, who was alwayes confederate with the Turk, making an excursion with his People about the Desart, recover'd Taiba and Anna, killing seventy Qizilbasci whom he found there in Garrison; after which he turn'd his arms against Emir Nasir ben Mahanna, Lord of Mesched Hussein, (but not so great a Prince as himself) and made great destruction of his People and Country. Finally, He added, that a potent Army of Turks had since fallen upon Persia and Baghdad, and had already recover'd Mousul and Kierkuc; which last News I rather suspect to be di∣spers'd to animate the People of Bassora, then hold for true; be∣cause, on the other side, it was reported for certain, that the Sciah was reposing his Forces at Ferhabad, which could not consist with the so near approach of the Turks against him.
March the nineteenth, An eminent man of Bassora, nam'd [ XIII] Scaich Abdassalam, muster'd a great company of his kindred, friends, and followers, with whom he intended to go to the as∣sistance of the Basha. Amongst them were muster'd about 200 Christians of S. John, arm'd with Arquebuzes, and other wea∣pons like the rest; but all, in my judgment, as much Moors as Christians, little Souldiers, and of no esteem in comparison of the Qizilbasci.
March the two and twentieth, In the Piazza before the Basha's House , I saw a wild Ass, or little Onager, which was Page 252 kept there for pleasure. It was of the shape of other Asses, but of a brighter colour, and had a ridge of white hair from the head to the tail, like the mane of a Horse; in running and leap∣ing, it seem'd much nimbler then the ordinary sort of Asses.
March the three and twentieth, A Portugal came from the Basha's Camp to Bassora, bringing News that the Qizilbasci were return'd home to their own Countries, and that in such haste that they had left much Cattel, Goods, and Meat ready dress'd in the Camp where they had quarter'd: Which so unexpected departure of the Persian Army, could not happen through any disturbance given them by that of the Basha; but, perhaps, they were re-call'd for some other war, or service of greater ne∣cessity, as that of Ormuz, or against the Turks, or against the Moghol at Candahar, which the Sciah had lately taken.
March the four and twentieth, I took the height of the Sun in Bassora at noon, and found him decline 28 degrees 48 minutes from the Zenith. He was this day, according to the Epheme∣rides of David Origanus, in 4 degrees, 4 minutes, 57 seconds of Aries, and according to the Meridian of the said Ephemerides, declin'd from the Aequinoctial North-wards—degrees; but according to our Meridian of Bassora, calculating by proportion∣all parts, 1 degree, 38 minutes, and 32 seconds, which, added to the 28 degrees 48 minutes of the Sun's Declination from the Zenith, amount to 30 degrees, 26 minutes, 32 seconds. So that the Zenith of Bassora is distant from the Aequinoctial 30 degrees, 26 minutes, 32 seconds, to which the Elevation of the North-Pole at the same is equal.
March the one and thirtieth, Return'd the two Portugal Ships above-mention'd to have been sent abroad by the General to intercept the Persian Artillery; of which design they fail'd, be∣cause the Persians having notice thereof, stirr'd them not of the Port. Yet they took three Persian Barques call'd Terrats, with much wealth in them; and a rich Moor, who offer'd a thousand Patacches for his Ransome, but they would not accept it. All the other Moors in the Vessels they killed, with two young children, lest, as they said, if they should have carry'd them into a Coun∣try of Moors, the Basha would have releas'd them: However, in seem'd to me a great Cruelty, although it be no new thing among the Portugals, who upon all occasions commit the like and greater in India.
April the seventh, The Basha return'd with all his Army to Bassora, the fear and danger of the war being now over by the departure of the Persians. He enter'd into the City betimes in the Morning with great pomp, and the salutations of the Ar∣tillery.
April the thirteenth, F. Basilio di San Franceso, a Bare-footed Carmelite, having finish'd the building of the little Church and Covent of his Order which he had founded at Bassora, made a solemn Feast, adorning both the Church, and the whole Orato∣ry Page 253 of the Covent very sumptuously: and with a great concourse of Christians both Europeans and Orientals of several Nations, he celebrated the dedication of the said Church, intitling it Nostra Signora de 'i remedii: The evening before, he had caused many Bone-fires to be made, all the Portugal Soldiers contribu∣ting to the joy with many volleys of Arquebusses. Moreover, to honour the said Father, the Basha sent about five hundred Moorish Soldiers to the Covent to do the like, and caus'd many great Pieces to be shot off at the Castle; so that the Feast was celebrated generally by the whole City, both Christians and Moors, with great concourse and applause. The next night, the Basha himself with all his Court went to see the Church and the Covent, where also at his departure he left an Alms; the Fa∣ther receiv'd him with all due honour, and gave him a sumptu∣ous Banquet; with which, both as to the manner and ceremo∣nies according to the fashion of the Country, both the Basha and all the rest were much satisfi'd. The General of the Portugals, with all the Captains of Ships, and most principal Persons of the Fleet, and (in short) all the Europaeans then in Bassora, were present at this entertainment: only I, by reason of an indisposi∣tion, had the displeasure to be absent. Mass was sung by the F. Prior of the Augustines, who assisted all the day to honour the feast; and the F. Provincial of Maniglia, who was a Passenger with us, preacht. The same day there came to Bassora, to the Basha a Capigi from the Serdar or Vezir of Constantinople newly created (whose Predecessor was said to have been put to death by the Great Turk for having us'd little diligence in the affairs of Baghdad.) The said Capigi brought the Basha a Robe or Vest∣ment (as their custom is) as a Present from the Vezir, and news that the Turkish Army was already moving towards Baghdad, and was very near it, having re-taken Mousul and Kierkuc, which are open places, and expos'd to the force of any Attempter. But that this should happen so soon, to me seem'd very strange; espe∣cially, if the new Serdar was sent from Constantinople the same year, as he could not be before May or April at the soonest; and being of necessity to pass by Aleppo, and get together not only much provision, but also Soldiers from very remote Countries, and wait for them (besides, providing grass and hay for the horses, as every year they are wont to do in May) it was not possible that he should be so foward by this time. Considering too, that in all the Expeditions of late years, it hath been seen that the Turkish Army never arrives at the Confines of Persia the same year that it is dispatch't from Constantinople, but must always win∣ter the first year either at Aleppo, or in Mesopotamia, or, at most, when it is nearest in Erzirna; the second year it arrives at the confines of Persia to make War; yea it oftentimes arrives there so late in the year, and so near Winter, that it scarce do's any thing. Now that this new Serdar was dispatcht from Constantinople the same year, and not the preceding, seem'd credible, because I never heard of his Page 254 wintring at Aleppo, or any where else; 'twas likely that the new Serdar lately created at Constantinople (as he uses to be in March, and sometimes sooner) understanding the danger of Bassora, presently dispatch't the said Capigi to confirm the mind and courage of the Basha; which Capigi travelling by the shortest ways, and with great speed, as the business requir'd, might well arrive at Bassora from Constantinople by the time above-men∣tion'd. In brief, I suspected the credit of so near approach of the Turkish Army, waiting till effects should manifest the truth of the matter.
[ XV] April the twenty third, News came to Bassora, that the King of Persia had straitly charg'd the Chan, who governs Bagdad for him, and also his friend in the Desart Emir Nasir, by all means to intercept the Cafila which was preparing at Bassora to go to Aleppo, or at least to hinder its going. This intelligence so terrifi'd the Merchants who were upon the point to depart, that they deferr'd their journey, and in their own name dis∣patch't a Messenger to Emir Nasir, to know whether it was true, and whether he would permit them secure passage or no. That it was true, on one hand I conceiv'd not unlike∣ly; for it being of great importance to the Sciah to have the trade of India by Sea brought into his own Country, (which, since the taking of Ormuz, he hath lost) and the said trade being diverted to Bassora, where (for want of Ships to contest with the Portugals) he cannot hinder it (which is the reason why he was so desirous to take Bassora, namely, that so the Portugals might be depriv'd of all ports and passes, and be necessitated to come with the traffick of India to some place of his Territories, without his rendring Ormuz to them) I say, it seem'd likely that he should endeavour to hinder the traffick of Bassora to Aleppo by land, which would amount to the same thing: for the Merchandises of India cannot be all absum'd at Bassora, but remaining there little or nothing must be from thence dispers'd to Aleppo and elsewhere: Upon this account the Sciah rais'd a great War both against the Portugals and the people of Bassora, whose chiefest subsistence is from this trade. On the other side I conceiv'd it might not be true, because Emir Nasir draws great profit from the Cafila's which pass from Bassora to Aleppo; and though at the taking of Bagdad he sided with the Sciah for some end of his own, yet I believe, that as an Arabian and a free Prince he is not so devoted to the Sciah as to serve him with the prejudice of his proper interests; and the rather because at the same time he keeps some Agents and Ministers at Bassora to receive the said Imposts, and without the Emir's assistance the Sciah can do nothing in those Desarts. Moreover, this Emir Na∣sir hath lately been much mortifi'd by the losses he receiv'd from Emir Aburisc, and 'tis likely would rather endeavour to re-in∣gratiate with Aburisc and the Turk (from whom he may suffer much) for avoiding a total ruine, than expose himself to new Page 255 dangers for the Sciah, from whom he can hope little good or hurt so long as he is not Master of all as far as Aleppo; which is not a thing to be brought to pass suddenly or easily. But of this also time will show the truth.
May the ninth, Another Capigi arriv'd at Bassora from the Ser∣dar, [ XVI] and was receiv'd with great solemnity and salutations of Artillery. He brought a Robe to the Basha, and intelligence that he had left the Serdar at Mardin, which lies within a few dayes journey of Baghdad, confirming the recovery of Mousul and Kierkuc; (whereof, supposing the Serdar at Mardin, I made no scruple) and adding that the Serdar was then upon removing from Mardin, and by this time had march't much forwards. This is what was given out; for more intrinsick and secret news I could not know, having no acquaintance with any considerable Turk from whom to learn the same: nor was any more then this signifi'd to the chief Commander of the Portugal Ships. Only I judg'd that the Turks well considering the danger wherein Bas∣sora was of being lost, might possibly by these successive Mes∣sengers, and good tidings endeavour to confirm the minds of the Basha, and the people, as much as they could.
May the eleventh, The Cafila design'd for Aleppo, which had many days waited some leagues, without the City, at length set forth and departed; either because they had receiv'd a good an∣swer from Emir Nasir, or rather, (as I believe) because they re∣ly'd upon other fresh tidings, how that Emir Nasir was reconcil'd to Emir Aburisc, and return'd into the favour and devotion of the Great Turk, so that the Desart was all in peace; and perhaps also they trusted to the common report of the nearness of the Turkish Army. I purposed to depart from Bassora the same way and upon the same day (though alone, and not with the Cafila) having hired Camels and certain Beduni Arabians to conduct me. But Ali Aga, the chief Captain of the Militia, gave notice to my Camelier that I must not depart within three days. Whereupon being desirous to go with all speed by reason that the hot weather came on, I got Sig. Consalvo Martins, a Portugal Father, to speak to the said Aga to know wherefore he detain'd us, and if there were no cause, to dispatch us and let us go. The Aga answer'd that I must by all means have patience for this week, that so the Cafila might have time to get a little more onwards; and that he did this because he mistrusted my Camelier as a Beduin Arabian (although he had a House and Wife at Bassora) lest for some interest of his own, departing at the same time with the Cafila, he should out∣go it, and by other ways of the Desart (wherein he was well skil'd) give notice thereof to Emir Nasir, or else to some other Beduin Arabians who might rob it, or perhaps also to the Qizilbasci themselves. Wherefore since my going so soon might prove to my own damage, he desir'd for my security, and the publick good of the Cafila, that I would stay those few days; to the end that the Cafila advancing before out of all suspected places, my Ca∣melier Page 256 might not have time to do any villany either to it or to me. The truth is, I did not conceive my Camelier likely to do any such thing, having had good information and assurance of him from Chogia Negem, to whom he was well known, and who recommended him to me: Nevertheless, since he that govern'd would have it so, I had patience to wait as long as he desir'd. Yet from hence I gather'd that the above-mention'd news, now that the Persians and Emir Nasir conspir'd against the Cafila, was not altogether vain; being Ali Aga, a man of so great place in Bassora, had such apprehensions about it. And it might consist well enough with the Cafila's departing; for perhaps it went out upon a venture, the Merchants being unwilling to suffer longer de∣lay, (for it was above eight months since this Cafila began to unite) I say, at a venture; because the Desart is like the Sea, where' tis a chance to meet or not meet enemies; and as men forbear not to sail upon the Sea through fear of Pirats or Ene∣mies, so neither do they cease to pass through the Desart. The F. Provincial of Maniglia with his Companion, (a Castilian too but not a Fryer of his Order) Marc' Antonio Lanza a Venetian (who came with me from Goa to Bassora) and I know not how many other Europaeans, went along with the Cafila: I alone would not, but staid with my Servants to go by my self, and to travel more hazardously indeed, but yet with more speed, and undoubt∣edly with more convenience then they.
May the thirteenth, Another Capigi sent from the Serdar to the Basha arriv'd at Bassora, bringing a Robe and a Scimiter as Presents, and the confirmation of the Government of Bassora in his person, which hitherto he had not had. As for news, 'twas dispers'd amongst the people that the Turkish Army was very neer, and almost upon Baghdad; yet Letters from our Aleppo Merchants to the Carmelites brought by a Moor of the company of the said Capigi, inform'd us for certain that according to my above-mention'd Prophecy the Serdar was not yet come to A∣leppo. 'Tis true, they writ that perhaps to make his voyage more compendious he would not come to Aleppo, but march di∣rectly to Mesopotamia and Baghdad by another way; which yet was uncertain when the said Letters were written: whence 'tis clear that one way or other he could not be further then Aleppo, and perhaps, according to my opinion, was scarce departed from Constantinople. So that it was not possible for Baghdad and Per∣sia to have wars this current year 1625; since it would have been no small Summer's work to have march't to the Frontiers: yet that war will follow the next year, unless some other chance in∣tervene, I no-wise doubt. The said Letters further told us news from Turkie, mamely that the Emir of Saida, anew rebelling against the Turk, had taken and sackt Tripoli, driving away the Basha that was there: but afterwards the Basha of Aleppo march∣ing out with his people, had recover'd Tripoli, and restor'd the said expell'd Basha to the government. From Christendom, Page 257 That Italy was all in wars about the Valtoline, which the French had surpriz'd out of the hands of the Pope's Officers, wherewith his Holiness was much offended. That the Prince of England was to marry a Sister of the King of France: That the Dutch had taken an important City from the Portugals in Brasile: That Marquiss Spinola had lay'd siege to another considerable one of the Dutch in Flanders; that the Emperor's affairs in Germany proceeded very prosperously; and other particulars of less moment, which for brevity I omit.
May the twentieth, Upon the return of Emir Zambar, owner of the House where I liv'd, I resign'd the possession to him, and withdrew to the Covent of the Carmelites, till my departure, in which the Capigi intends to accompany me, we having pro∣vided us arms and resolutions not to fear meeting Arabian Thieves. I declin'd the Cafila, not only that I might go as I pleas'd, but also to avoid prolonging the voyage by the slowness of the Carriages in the Desart, which affords nothing but bare earth, void of water and grass. If it please God, I will write to you again at Aleppo, from whence you shall receive the next.