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)
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SECTION XIV. Of the most excellent Moralities which are to be observed amongst the People of those Nations.

NExt to those things which are Spiritually good, there is no∣thing which may more challenge a due and deserved com∣mendation, than those things which are Morally and Materially so; and many of these may be drawn out to life, from the ex∣amples of great numbers amongst that people.

For the Temperance of very many, by far the greatest part of the Mahometans and Gentiles, it is such, as that they will rather choose to dye, like the Mother and her seven Sons menti∣oned in the second of Macchabees and seventh Chapter, then eat or drink any thing their Law forbids them. Or like those Re∣chabites, mentioned, Jer. 35. Where Jonadab their Father com∣manded them to drink no Wine, and they did forbear it for the Commandement sake. Such meat and drink as their Law allows them, they take, onely to satisfie Nature, (as before) not Appe∣tite; strictly observing Solomon's Rule, Prov. 23.2. in keeping a knife to their throats, that they may not transgress in taking too much of the Creature; hating Gluttony, and esteeming Drunk∣enness, as indeed it is, another Madness; and therefore have but one word in their Language, (though it be very copious) and that word is Mest, for a drunkard, and a mad-man. Which shews their hatred of drunken distempers; for none of the people there, are at any time seen drunk, (though they might find li∣quor enough to do it) but the very offal and dreggs of that people, and these rarely, or very seldom.

And here I shall insert another most needful particular to my present purpose, which deserves a most high commendation to be given unto that people in general, how poor and mean soever they be; and that is, the great exemplary care they ma∣nifest in their piety to their Parents, that, notwithstanding they serve for very little (as I observed before) but five shillings a Moon for their whole livelyhood and subsistence; yet, if their Parents be in want, they will impart at the least half of that little towards their necessaries, choosing rather to want themselves, then that their Parents should suffer need.

For the Mahometans [who live much upon the labours of the Hindooes, keeping them under, because they formerly conquer∣ed them] there are many of them idle, and know better to eat than work, and these are all for to morrow, a word very common in their mouths; and the word is Sub-ba, which signifies to morrow, and when that day comes to morrow, and so still to morrow, they will set down upon their businesses to morrow, will do any thing you would have them to do to morrow,Page  418 they will bestow any thing upon you Sub-ba, to morrow. Pol∣licitis divites, most rich in promises, in performances not so. That being true of many of those Mahometans, which Livie sometimes spake of Hannibal, that he stood most to his Promise, when it was most for his Profit, [though, to do the Mahometans in general right, such as are Merchants and Traders, are exact in their dealings] or, as Plutarch writes of Antigonus the King, who was called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as being ever about to give, but seldom giving.

But for the Hindooes, or Heathens, the ancient inhabitants of East-India, they are a very industrious people, very diligent in all the works of their particular Callings, believing that Bread sweetest, and most savory, which is gain'd by sweat. These are for the generality the people that plant and till the ground: These they which make those curious Manufactures that Empire affords; working, as we say, with tooth and nail; imploying their ears and toes, as well as their fingers, to assist them [by holding threds of silk] in the making of some things they work. These are a people who are not afraid of a Lion in the way, of a Lion in the streets, as the slothful man is, Prov. 26.13. but they lay hold on the present time, the oppor∣tunity, to set upon their businesses which they are to do to day, they being very laborious in their several imployments, and very square and exact to make good all their engagements.

Which appears much in their justness manifested unto those that trade with them; for if a Man will put it unto their Consci∣ences to sell the Commodity he desires to buy at as low a rate as he can afford it, they will deal squarely, and honestly with him; but if in those bargainings a man offer them much less than their set price, they will be apt to say, What, dost thou think me a Christian, that I would go about to deceive thee?

It is a most sad and horrible thing to consider, what scandal there is brought upon the Christian Religion, by the loosness, and remisness, by the exorbitances of many which come a∣mongst them, who profess themselves Christians; of whom I have often heard the Natives [who live near the Port where our Ships arrive] say thus, in broken English, which they have gotten, Christian Religion, Devil Religion; Christian much drunk, Christian much do wrong, much beat, much abuse others.

But to return again unto the people of East India: Though the Christians which come amongst them do not such horrible things, yet they do enough to make Christianity it self evil spoken of; as a Religion that deserves more to be abhorred, than imbraced. For truly it is a sad sight there to behold a dunk∣en Christian, and a sober Indian; a temperate Indian, and a Christian given up to his Appetite. An Indian that is just and square in his dealing, a Christian not so; a laborious Indian, and an idle Christian; as if he were born onely to fold his Page  419 Arms, or fruges tantum consumere natus: to devour Corn, and wear out Wool. O what a sad thing is it for Christians to come short of Indians, even in Moralities, come short of those, who themselves believe, to come short of Heaven.