The travels of Sig. Pietro della Valle, a noble Roman, into East-India and Arabia Deserta in which, the several countries, together with the customs, manners, traffique, and rites both religious and civil, of those Oriental princes and nations, are faithfully described : in familiar letters to his friend Signior Mario Schipano : whereunto is added a relation of Sir Thomas Roe's Voyage into the East-Indies.
Della Valle, Pietro, 1586-1652., Roe, Thomas, Sir, 1581?-1644., Havers, G. (George)
Page  287

LETTER. XIII.

From Malta,November 4. 1625.

WHen I was thinking of finishing the small remainder of [ I] my Travels, with the same Prosperity which God had hitherto afforded me; and speedily arriving at those desired shores, I have been here arrested at Malta by a little kind of misadventure, sufficient to temper the course of so many good Fortunes. In regard of the formidable Pestilence still con∣tinuing in Constantinople, and other places of Turkie, we have not been able to get admittance to anchor, and land in this Island without undergoing a Quarantine. Wherefore finding my self at leisure enough here in a House assign'd me, as a favour, by the Lords of the Council, and separated from the little Island whi∣ther all the rest are sent, I have thought fit to pass my time in writing to you what Adventures have befallen me since my last, which was dated from a Ship-board at Cyprus, September the sixth. Be pleas'd therefore to know, that on September the seventh, I went ashore again to hear Mass; after which, I return'd a vi∣sit to Sig: Rocco Andreani, a Venetian Merchant, in whose House I saw a live Camelion, which a Boy of the family, kept very tame, ty'd with a little string for his Recreation. They are frequent in India, and are seen leaping amongst the Trees; but I never saw any but at distance, and so did not well observe them. Here therefore holding it in my hand, (for 'tis a gentle and pleasing Animal) I observ'd it to be as big as a Lizard, and almost of the same shape, but more unhandsom to behold, having an ill shapen head, divided feet, and two paws, in the middle whereof the leg ariseth; each of which paws, is divided into two toes or nails, yet so as the fissu•• is very small. Its colour was grey, but with some variety, like a dapple. They told me, that it some∣times chang'd colour, (not, as is vulgarly reported, according to that which is lay'd before it, but) according as it hath more heat or cold, takes pains or reposes, with other like Accidents: Which event I saw not, though I try'd several wayes to pro∣cure it.

September the eighth, The Consul carry'd me to another Vil∣lage about two leagues, or six miles distant from Larnaca, and call'd to this day, Kiti and Citium, anciently a City and Bishoprick, but is now all destroy'd saving a few Cottages. We went, par∣ticularly, to visit a Greek Doctor, nam'd Sig: Aluise Cucci, who liv'd there, and had the same of much knowledg, and spoke Italian well; as also to see his Garden, which, though half ruin'd, (as all things are in the Island, since it fell into the Turk's hands) is yet one of the goodliest places in those parts. Here dy'd Cimon the most valorous and vertuous Athenian Captain, Page  288 Son of the no less famous Captain Miltiades. You may see Aemilius Probus in the Life of the said Cimon, where he saith, In Oppido Citio est mortuus, after he had conquer'd most part of the Island Cyprus. Two or three hours before noon, we pass'd by the place where the Salt-work is, which, though through the negligence of the Turks, who do not cleanse and empty it well, it decayes and fills up every day; yet in my time it yielded yearly about 10000 Piasters, and almost all Ships make ballast of Salt; particularly, those of Venice are all oblig'd to take as much as will serve for that purpose; and many times they take more, which at Venice is a good commodity, and a Trade reserv'd to the Prince. Then we pass'd through a Village call'd Bromo∣laxaia, and at length arriving at Kiti, which lyes a little distant from the Sea, (the Coast of the Island running West-ward from the Saline) we visited Sig: Aluise Cucci, whom (indeed like a Philosopher, as he professes to be) we found living in a House, which had sometimes been great and fair, but was now half ru∣ind; the Garden had a small Brook, with structures of Foun∣tains and such like things, but all out of order, and reserving no other beauty besides a great number of Orange-Trees, planted regularly, and of equal height, and making a goodly and de∣licious Grove. I discours'd with the said Sig: Aluise, and he seem'd an intelligent Person; but because he was sick, or at least recovering, and so weak that he could scarce speak, I could not benefit by him as I desir'd. I ask'd him concerning Cadmia and its species, and other Minerals, which you writ me word that you desir'd from Cyprus, and I accordingly sent to Nicosia, (the chief City of the Island, and the place of the Basha's re∣sidence); as also concerning the Book of Galen. He told me, there was some at this day, but 'twas hard to meet with any that knew it, or could tell where to find it, the people being very Ideots, and the Mines intermitted heretofore by the Christi∣ans, for fear of alluring the Turks thereby to invade the Island, as also since by the Turks through ignorance. After this and such other Discourse, we return'd to Larnaca by a different road, about the midst whereof we found another Village, call'd Mene∣go; but all these Villages in former times well peopled, are now almost wholly destroy'd and uninhabited.

September the ninth, Being return'd to the Ship, the next day [ II] I took the height of the Sun with my Astrolabe in the Port della Saline of Cyprus, and found him decline Southward from the Zenith 29 degrees, 29 minutes, 50 seconds. On which day he was in —degrees of—.

September the thirteenth, I went ashore in the Morning to Larnaca again, from whence, upon the Consuls instance, I was accompany'd by Sig: Gio Francesco Parente, two other Venetians, a Greek nam'd Meser Manoli, my servant Michel, and a Janizary for our guard, to a delicious place of Devotion, call'd by the Greeks, Agia Nappa, that is, Holy, about eight leagues from Page  289Larnaca, upon the Eastern Sea-coast near Capo della Greca, where there is a Church built in a Grotto, wherein a miraculous Image of our Lady was found. Having rid all day almost continually by the Sea-side, we lodg'd at the Village Ormidia, and the next day early, passing through the Village Xylofago, and the Cape di San Georgio, where many Ships, especially Pyrats, use to put in for water at a River which falls into the Sea on the East of the said Cape, we arriv'd at the Village Agia Nappa. We found it like all the rest that I saw in Cyprus, almost wholly destroy'd; partly, by the ordinary tyrannies of the Turks, partly, by the Pestilence which a few years before had swept away most of the people. The Church being built almost like a little square Castle, (perhaps for fear of the Pyrats) is still standing; and being un∣der ground, is descended into by many stairs. A Papas, or Greek Priest, who officiates there, hath charge of it, together with certain Calogrie, or Nunns, who having renounc'd the world, have addicted themselves to God's Service, and are modestly cloth'd in black, though they be not Recluses. In the middle of a great Court or Yard, stands a marble Fountain not ill built, over which they have lately built a great Cupola, upon four Pilasters with seats round about, where we not onely entertain'd our selves all day, but slept at night; the murmur of the water rendring the place sufficiently pleasant. The next Morning, Mass was sung in the Church after the Greek Rite, and I was present at it till the end of the Gospel. On one side of the Church in a place apart, is an Altar, where our Latine Priests say Mass when any comes thither. In summ, the Church is an indifferent large Grotto, the Image ancient, and the Altar adorn'd after the Greek manner, without any thing else remarkable. Here we eat a great quantity of Becca-fichi, or Fig-snappers, (a sort of Birds call'd by the Greeks Sicalidia) which are so plentiful in Cyprus, that abundance of them are sent sows'd in Vinegar to Venice and else-where; but those at Agia Nappa some∣times are not good, by reason of their having eaten Scammony, which is not known to be found there-abouts, but probably, they feed upon it in some other place.

September the sixteenth, We departed from Agia Nappa to re∣turn to Larnaca, and passing through the Village Xylofago, we alighted there to see the Church of San Giorgio, wherein amongst other Saints, I saw one painted whom they call Agios Mapeas, that is, San Mama, much venerated by the Greeks; who say, He was a Martyr, and bury'd in Cyprus; but I know not according to what History, they paint him between a Horse and a Lyon.

September 17th Returning a Ship-board, by the way I visited a Church of the Greeks, (but heretofore of the Armenians) call'd, S. Lazaro, some of the stones whereof I observ'd engraven with Armenian Letters: 'Tis a very ancient stone-structure of an ex∣travagant form, though us'd by the Greeks in sundry places, Page  290 namely, consisting of 3 Nave's or Isles, supported onely by 4 Pil∣asters, with three Cupola's on a row in the middle Nave; the place within amongst the Pillasters serving for men, and that round about for women by themselves. Behind the Altar they shew a Subterranean Sepulchre, like a little Grotto, and enter'd into by a square hole like that of a Tomb; they say it was the Sepulchre of Lazarus rais'd by Christ, and that he built the Church whilst he was Bishop here, and at last dy'd here; from whence his Body was afterwards transported first to Constantinople, and then to Marseilles: The truth whereof, they affirm, is prov'd by the Miracles done every day in the said Sepulchre, as healing the sick, and the like; but this is repugnant to the History we have in the Breviary, Martyrologie, &c.

September the twentieth, The Consul gave me a piece of Lada∣no-Vergine, that is, pure, without any other mixture, as it comes naturally; whereof there is plenty in Cyprus: and some intelli∣gent persons of the Country whom I consulted purposely, told me, 'tis generated of the Dew which falls from Heaven, just as Manna is, and that 'tis gather'd off the leavs of a plant no higher then a span and half, or two spans; which matter they boyle, and being viscid like wax, form into rolls like little Candles, which they wrap afterwards round together. The said Lada∣num is black, hath a good quick Aromatical Smell; and, in our Countries, mixt with other things, makes a good Perfume; and, perhaps, serves for Medicinal Uses, as you know very well.

September the one and twentieth, Sig: Cicach gave me some of the stone Amiantus, a sort of stone that may be spun, of which the Ancients made the Cloth which, they say, was incombustible, and the fire onely cleans'd it, as water doth other Linnen; in which Cloth they burnt dead bodies, and so preserv'd the ashes thereof from being mingled with those of the wood. At this day none knows how to make the Cloth, or to spin the matter; although a whitish matter like Cotton is clearly seen to issue out of the stone, not uncapable of being spun. The colour of the Stone, when intire, is greenish, inclining to black, but shining enough, almost like Talk; yet when 'tis broken or spun, the matter that issues out of it is white. I remember I once saw some of this Stone, and the Cloth woven thereof, in the Study of Ferrante Imperato at Naples, amongst other Curiosities.

September the twenty fourth, The Consul invited us to dinner in the Venetian Ship Cacciadiavoli, where we stay'd not onely to dine, but also to sleep all-night, being entertain'd with Mu∣sick, and the good conversation of Sig: Parente, Flatro, & Rocco Andreani, who were there. The next day, we return'd to our own Ship, and the Evening following I went ashore again. A new man was expected to come to govern the Island, the old being already departed upon the arrival of an Officer of the new, who, as their custom is, was come with the Title of Musselem, to pre∣pare Page  291 the place for his Master: But before this New Elect arriv'd at his Residence in Nicosia, News came that by a fresh command of the Grand Signior at Constantinople, the new Basha was re∣call'd, and depriv'd of his Office before he possess'd it, unto which the old was restor'd; besides the changing of the Defecodar, and other Officers. These sudden and unexpected changes of Ministers, have many years ago begun to be practis'd in the Court of Constantinople, occasion'd chiefly by the ill Government, and the selling of those Offices, without any limitation of time, to who-ever gives most; which disorders are more prevalent now then ever: Which I mention, that it may be known in what an ill State the Common-wealth of the Turks is at this day, which indeed seems to be tending of its accord to manifest ruine.

September the eight and twentieth, After another treatment given us by the Consul in the Ship of Viaro, he accompany'd us in the Evening to our Caravel, which was to set sail forth-with, and there, with many Complements and expressions of Courtesie, we took leave one of another; the Consul returning ashore, and we remaining in the Ship.

About three hours after Sun-set, we hois'd sails towards Li∣miso, another Port of the Southern Coast of Cyprus, but more [ IV] Westerly, where we hop'd to find, and joyn company with the Dutch Ships. We had but little wind in the night, and the next day no good one; so that it was but a while before mid-night when we arriv'd at Limiso, where we anchor'd at a good distance from Land, because for so short a time as our Ship was to stay there, it would not be subject to pay Anchorage.

September the thirtieth, Sig: Gio: Francesco Parente, who ar∣riv'd at Limiso the night before by Land, came in the Morning to invite me ashore in the Name of Sig: Pietro Savioni a Venetian, who hath a House at Limiso, and is Vice-Consul in Cyprus for the Dutch; he receiv'd me with very much Courtesie. And being it was yet early, I walk'd about the Town, which is of indifferent bigness, where I saw a great Meschita of the Turks standing in a goodly street near the shore, where I saw great plenty of Carrubes, or Capers, where-with whole Ships are laden from hence for Venice and other parts. More within the Town, I saw the Castle which is small, of a round form, represent∣ing rather a low thick Tower or Turret then a Fortress; yet it hath some small pieces of Artillery, and is built of stone. Then I came to the Church of the Bishoprick; for Limiso hath a Greek Bishop, who commands four Eparchats, (as they speak) to wit, this of Limiso, that of della Saline, and two others; the whole Island being divided onely into four Bishopricks, each of which hath several Eparchats under them. This Cathedral Church is small, and dedicated to our Lady S. Mary; of Building, like the rest of the Country; and because 'tis the Cathedral, they call it, according to custom, La Catholica, i. e. Vniversal. Here I Page  292 found one Didascalo Matteo a Greek Monk, who spoke Italian well, as he that had liv'd many years at Venice, and profess'd skill in Minerals, Chymical matters, and the like. To him, whilst he was at Nicosia, I had gotten a friend to write from Larnaca, to desire him to procure me the Cadmia and other Minerals which you desir'd. But the Letter found him not in Nicosia, for he was departed from thence to go to Mount-Sinay. Find∣ing him here, and asking him about the business, he told me, There was to his knowledg abundance of those Minerals, particu∣larly▪ Sori, Mysi, Melanteria, and Cadmia, to be had in some places of Cyprus, and that he would have procur'd me some, had he known my desire in time; but now he could not by reason of his present departure, and the place where to have them was very remote. He gave me certain little pieces of Silver and Gold found in Cyprus, and promis'd me to use exquisite diligence for the rest at his return from Monte Sinay, which would be within three Months; whereupon, I writ to the Consul of Larnaca, that at his going to Nicosia, where he was shortly to salute the new Basha (for by vertue of a third command from Constantinople, the new Basha was once again confirm'd, and the old again depriv'd, with more strange inconstancy of government then ever) he would consult by the way with a renegado German, who practis'd Physick there, and, as Didascalo Matteo told me, knew where to find the said Minerals for me. Whilest I was discoursing thus in the Church-yard with Didascalo, the Bishop an ancient man with a white beard pass'd by, together with another Monk, who was going to Church to rehearse his hours. I, understanding who he was, saluted him, and pass'd many complements with him in the Greek Tongue; for he understood not Italian.

October the first, The Hollanders invited me a Ship-board to see their Ships which were in the Port: whereupon, after din∣ner, I went accompani'd with Sig. Parente aboard of two, the Neptune, and the S. Peter, in both which we were oblig'd to drink several healths, particularly, that of their Prince Henry-Frederick of Nassau; every Cup we drank being solemniz'd with a Great Gun, and also at our departing from the Ships, they discharg'd three Pieces, which were answered by those of all the rest.

October the second, By Letters from Constantinople to certain Greek Monks, the news I had heard at Aleppo, concerning the progress of the Tartar of Cafa, united with the Cossacks of Po∣land against the Turks, was confirm'd, and that about seven hun∣dred of their Ships sailing to the Confines of Constantinople, had done inestimable dammage, and put the City it self in fear. They said also that a violent Pestilence rag'd at Constantinople, and that the Grand Signor had been grievously sick, having had in his own person seventy Plague-sores, of all which notwithstanding he was cur'd: which indeed is a strange thing, and happens but rarely.

Page  293October the third, The Dutch entertain'd us at a dinner in their greatest Ship which was bound for Venice, and call'd Il-Na∣ranciero, or the Orange, where many healths were drunk to the Doge of Venice, and the Prince of Nassan; each Cup, as also our departure out of the Ship, being honor'd with many Guns. Which ended, I would not go ashore any more, being our Ship was to depart the night following, but repair'd to it; the Dutch continuing their drinking and shooting all night in augury of a happy voyage.

An hour after midnight we all set sail, five Ships together, [ V] namely four Dutch, the Orange, S. Peter, the Neptune, and the Vnicorn; and our French Caraval, S. Ann, wherein I was im∣barq'd. I will not omit, that being our French Ship did not pay anchorage at Limiso, though person alone were suffer'd to go ashore, yet they were not permitted to buy any thing there to carry aboard; for had it been known that we had shipt the least thing, even but a little Water, or a single Lemon, they would have demanded the whole Anchorage-money; wherefore I was fain to get a few fruits and refreshments convey'd into the Dutch Ships, without being known that they were for us.

October the fourth, We continu'd sailing Westwards along the South coast of Cyprus, our Caraval which was swifter than the rest, having but half the sails display'd, whilst they spread all.

October the ninth, Having hitherto hover'd about the shores of Cyprus, and advanc'd little, a more favourable wind now carri'd us out of sight of the Island, and we sail'd directly on our voyage with various winds till the thirteenth day, when we dis∣cover'd the gulph of Settaglia. The next night, some rain laid the contrary wind and rough Sea; but we remain'd almost in a calm, with great trouble of the Ship, which by the weight of the sails was made to rock to and fro continually like a cradle. On the fifteenth day at night, we were surrounded with thick clouds, and amongst them with many spouts of water, call'd in Latine (if I mistake not) Typhones Vortices, but we pass'd through them without any hurt or dammage.

October the twenty first, After many days of contrary wind [ VI] which driv us in vain about the gulph of Settaglia, at length it becoming favourable, the Pilot, and other Mariners said they descry'd land afar off, which some took to be Candia, others Rhodes; but, whatever it was, we soon lost sight of it again, and the same night the wind growing strong, we were separated from the other Ships which were in our company. Nevertheless we continu'd our Voyage alone, and at evening descry'd land on the North-west, which the Mariners said was the Island Scarpanti subject to the Venetians, and that, the good wind continuing, we should soon discover Candia: but about midnight the wind fell, and we remain'd becalm'd.

October the twenry third, The Wind turning favourable, we discover'd land, which they said was Candia, at the prow of the Page  294 Ship: but at night, lest the increasing South-wind should drive us too much to Land, we put forth to Sea Southwards, and left Candia on the right hand Northwards, so far that we could not see it. The next day, the Sky being very cloudy, we discover'd Malta whilst we were at dinner, very near-hand, (the thick Air having intercepted it before) and, a good while before night, we cast anchor just without the Port of the said Island, soon after which a Guard-boat came to see who we were, and whence we came (in order to inform the Grand Master there∣of:) the Officer demanded our Bill of Health, which we had from Cyprus, but would not touch it till it had been first dipt in Vinegar, in regard of the great suspitions there were here of the Plague, which rag'd much at Constantinople, and other parts of Turkie. But he not returning that night to us again with an an∣swer, we remain'd all aboard, being suffer'd only to send for wa∣ter without the City.

[ VII] October the twenty ninth, Early in the Morning, the same Of∣ficer, nam'd Sig. Desiderio Montemagni, return'd and told us, that the Knights made a little difficulty concerning my Bill of Health made at Cyprus by the Venetian Consul, which was not so plain as that of the Ship which was made at Cyprus also the same day by the French Consul; wherefore he made an excuse to me in their name for the delay of expediting me so suddenly. I took all well, commended the diligence of the Knight, thankt them for their courtesie, and profess'd my self obedient to their commands. After which, I deliver'd the Messenger a Letter for Monsig. Visconti, Inquisitor Apostolical there; wherein I gave him account of my rrrival, and desir'd him to favour me in order to a speedy exepetion. F. Orsino writ another to him, both which bath'd likewise in Vinegar Sig. Desiderio promis'd to present with his own hand. The same day after dinner, the Sig. Commendator Fra. Marcantorio Erancaccio, a prime Neapolitan Cavalier, my ancient friend at Naples, and Sig: Fra: Mandosio Mandosii, a Ro∣man Cavalier, both of the Religion of Malta, came to visit me in a Boat, which yet stay'd a little distance from our Ship (as the Guard-boat also did) and they offer'd me their persons to serve me with much courtesie. I received much news of them con∣cerning some of my friends at Naples and elsewhere; after which they departed, giving me hope, that in a Councel to be held that day about other weighty affairs of the Religion, my Ex∣pedition should be taken into consideration.

In the Evening, Monsig: Visconti sent me a Present of some re∣freshments, and signifi'd to me that he had earnestly mov'd the Grand Master concerning the business of my expedition; and when the Councel broke up, I should hear the result thereof by his Secretary. A while after, the Secretary brought me word that the Councel held very long, having determin'd a difference between two Spanish Knights, who pretended to the Priorate of Navarre, by giving it to one of them; and also created a new Page  294 General of the Galleys, which charge was also pretended to by divers, but fell to the Prior della Roccella, Son of the Prince della Roccella, who had a new instituted that Priorate in his Fa∣ther's dominion; insomuch that by reason of so many and long businesses, ehiter the Grand Master had forgot or forborn to pro∣pose any thing else, to wit, our Expedition: but that he having spoken to him as he came out of the Council, the Grand Master told him that within two days another Council should be held purposely for our business, because it could not be done without a Council; and that in the mean time he gave order that our Ship should not depart from the Port, to the end I might have the convenience of waiting the resolution concerning Landing, with∣out being carri'd away to my inconvenience to Marseilles, whi∣ther those of our Ship intended directly to go; and therefore we must have a little patience in the interim. I return'd my thanks to Mons. Visconti, and sent him word, that I should have patience, be∣ing secure of receiving all favour from his great courtesie. Soon after which Sig: Desiderio came to signifie the order to our Ship that it should not depart out of the Port.

October the thirty first, Besides a Present of refreshments sent me this day from the Sig. Commendator Brancaccio, and frequent visits of Sig: esiderio, ane also of divers others, partly known, and partly unknown to me; a little before night, the Commissarii della Sanita (Commissioners of Health) came to see me, and to enquire what goods I carri'd with me; they told me, the next day a Council would be held for dispatch of my business; but hearing of the goods I brought, particularly of the Ball of Cot∣ten-yarn (though they were not told what was within it; for then without doubt the difficulty would have been greater) they told me that by reason of the said goods I must have a little more patience; for they should give me the Quarantine a little longer then if we had had nothing besides our persons.

November the first, After dinner, the Captain of the Port brought us licence to go ashore, to wit, for me and my company, the Knights of the Council vouchsafing me this favour; yet upon condition that I should pass my Quarantine not in the Isoletto, whither all others are sent, but at the Port where we were in the house of Sig: Don Francesco Ciantar neer his Church of S. Saviour; which house the Inquisitor procur'd for me, and the Council as a particular favour granted me for my better conve∣nience. They prefix'd no time of the Quarantine, but reserv'd it at their own arbitrement; however I resolv'd it should not be very long. The Caravel S. Ann, which brought me, desir'd to undergo the Quarantine also, that they might afterwards have Prattick, and sell their commodities perhaps more advantagious∣ly at Malta; but it would not be granted, but the next day the Vessel was dismiss'd away for France. The reason whereof I suppose was, either because the Isoletto where Ships pass the Quarantine was already full of other people, or because the Island Page  296 was scarce of provision, and therefore they would not ad∣mit other new Passengers to consume it. However we, ac∣cording to our licence, landed all our goods at the abovesaid place; and we were no sooner got ashore, but My Lord, the In∣quisitor came in a Boat to visit me at the Sea-side. We discours'd together above half an hour; he in his Boat, and I upon the bank. He inquir'd of me several things concerning the affairs of the East, and inform'd me of many of Europe; and at last offering me his favour in all things, particularly, in getting the Quaran∣tine shortned, which he intimated would last forty days or more, (including those which had pass'd by the way from Cyprus hither) departed, and I repair'd to the house, which the owner of it, and the Captain of the Port, Desiderio, came to assign to me; where all our Goods were spread abroad to be air'd in a large open room belonging to the said house; which indeed I found very handsom, and well provided with convenience of water, and other things, having a delicate prospect upon the Port, the Sea, the Country, the Town, the new City; and, in short, being the best, most convenient and delightful that we could have had for that pur∣pose. By the Council's order a man was assign'd to guard the House, and a Boat both to guard us, and to supply us with pro∣visions; both at our charge, as the custom is. Nor doth the Captain of the Port omit to visit us frequently, and to discourse with us at a distance. God be thanked, we are all well, and free from all contagious suspition; so that I hope to surmount this difficulty happily, which I acknowledg to proceed from the Di∣vine Providence, to which I heartily commend you.