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)

SECTION XXIII. Of the Mogol's Policy in his Government, exercised by himself and Substitutes.

ANd it is that indeed, which is the worst of all Govern∣ments, called by Aristotle〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Arbitrary, Illimited, Tyrannical, such as a most severe Master useth to Servants, not that which a good King administreth to Subjects.

Which makes it very uncomfortable for those that live as Sub∣jects there, under the command of others, taller then themselves by their swords length, or so to be fixed in any part of the World.

— Where no Law resists
The sword, but that it acteth what it lists.

Page  450As in that Empire; where the King measureth his power by his Sword or Launce, in making his will, his guide, and therefore any thing lawful that likes him; which carriage of his might very well become that Emblem of illimited power, which is, a Sword waved by a strong arm and hand, and the Word sic volo, sic jubeo, or thus will I have it; and if any there be so far discontented as to make any the least question at what he doth, he hath a far stronger argument still in readiness, than all the force of Logick can make, and that is very many thousands of men, that are stout and able Souldiers, whom he keeps conti∣nually in arms, and pay, that can make any thing good, which he shall please to command.

There are no Laws for Government kept in that Empire upon record (for ought I could ever learn) to regulate Governours there in the administration of Justice, but what are written in the breast of that King and his Substitutes; and therefore they often take liberty to proceed how they please, in punishing the Offender rather than the offence; mens persons more than their Crimes; aegrotum potius quàm morbum.

Yet ever they pretend to proceed in their ways of judica∣ture (which is the right progress in judgement) secundum allega∣ta & probata, by proofs and not by presumptions.

The great Mogol will sit himself as Judge, in any matters of consequence that happen near unto him. And there are no Malefactors that lie more than one night in prison; and many times not at all, for if the party offending be apprehended early in the day, he is immediately brought before him that must be his Judge, by whom he is presently either acquitted or con∣demned; if he be sentenced to be whipt, he hath his pay∣ment, and that (usually with much severity) in the place (of∣ten,) where he received that sentence. If condemned to die, he is presently (which as I apprehend it is a very hard course, though used anciently among the Jews) carried from his sen∣tence to his execution, which is done usually in the Bazar, or Market-place. And this round and quick Justice keeps the people there in such order and aw, as that there are not many executions.

Murder and Theft they punish with death, and with what kind of death the Judge pleaseth to impose: for, some Male∣factors are hang'd, some beheaded, some impaled, or put upon sharp stakes (a death which hath much cruelty and extream tor∣ture and torment in it,) some are torn in pieces by wild Beasts, some kill'd by Elephants; and others stung to death by Snakes.

Those which are brought to suffer death by Elephants (some of which vast Creatures, are train'd up to do execution on Ma∣lefactors) are thus dealt withall. First, if that overgrown Beast be commanded by his Rider to dispatch that poor, trem∣bling Offender presently, who lies prostrate before him, he will with his broad round foot immmediately press him to death; but Page  451 that wretched Creature be condemn'd ita mori, ut se mori senti∣at; so to die, as that he may feel tortures and torments in dying (which are as so many several deaths.) The Elephant will break his bones by degrees (as men are broken upon the wheel) as first his Legs, then his Thighs, after that the bones in both his Arms; this done, his wretched Spirit is left to breathe its last out of the midst of those broken bones.

But it is a very sad thing, and very much unbeseeming a man, as he is a man, to seem to take pleasure in executing of punish∣ment, as those appear to do, who make it their business to study, and invent tortures to inflict on others.

I have been told by some, who were eye-witnesses (whom I dare credit, and therefore I dare relate it) of strange kinds of death executed by the command of the King of Japan upon his subjects: where some are crucified or nail'd to a Cross: others rather roasted, than burnt to death; Thus, there is a stake set up, and a Circle of fire at a pretty distance, made round about it; the condemned person being naked, is so fastned to that stake, as that he may move round about it, and so doth as long as he is able to stir, till his flesh begins to blister; then he falls down, and there lies roaring till the fire, made about him, puts him to silence by taking away both his voice and life.

Now they say that one great reason, why they put men there unto such exquisite torments, is, because they hold it a thing of the greatest dishonour there for any man to die by the hand of an Executioner: therefore they are usually commanded, when they are sentenced to die, to rip up, or cut open their own bellies, and those who will not so do are tormented in dying. Hence most of that people, when as they have received that hard command to prevent death, by dying; call for their friends about them, eat, and seem to be merry with them, and then in the close of the meal, and in their presence, commit this sad slaughter upon themselves, as first those poor wretches make themselves naked to the middle, he, or they who are to die; then the most wretched self-murderer, who is to act that bloody part, strikes a sharp Knife into the bottom of his belly, then rips himself up, and after gives himself one other cut cross his belly, and when he hath done both these, if after he can but wipe his bloody knife upon a white paper, or napkin that is laid by him, he is believed to part with his life with a very great deal of honour, and immediatly (as he is made to believe) goes to Fakaman, whom they say is the God of war. So much power the Devil hath in those dark places of the world, to make the people there do what he please. Oh 'tis a misery of all miseries here to be a drudge, a bond-man, a slave to the De∣vil! as those, and so infinite multitudes more professing Christ, are, by obeying Satan in his most unreasonable com∣mands, and yet will not be made sensible of that, their basest bondage.

Page  452But to return again to the place from whence I have made some excursion. When I was in India, there was one sentenced by the Mogol himself, for killing his own father, to dye thus; first he commanded that this Parricide should be bound alive by his heels fastned to a small iron chain, which was tied to the hind-leg of a great Elephant; and then that this Elephant should drag him after him one whole remove of that King, from one place to another, which was about ten miles distant, that so all his flesh might be worn off his bones, and so it was, when we saw him in the way following that King in his Progress; for he appeared then to us a Skeleton, rather than a body.

There was another condemned to dye by the Mogol himself (while we were at Amadavar) for killing his own Mother; and at this the King was much troubled to think of a death, suita∣ble for so horrid a crime; but, upon a little pause, he ad∣judged him to be stung to death by Snakes, which was accord∣ingly done. I told you before that there are some Mountebanks there, which keep great Snakes to shew tricks with them; one of those fellows was presently called for to bring his Snakes to do that execution, who came to the place where that wretched Creature was appointed to dye, and found him there all naked (except a little covering before) and trembling. Then sudden∣ly the Mountebank (having first angred and provoked the vene∣mous creatures) put one of them to his Thigh, which presently twin'd it self about that part, till it came near his Groin, and there bit him till blood followed, the other was fastned to the out-side of his other Thigh, twining about it (for those Snakes thus kept, are long and slender) and there bit him likewise; not∣withstanding, the wretch kept upon his feet near a quarter of an hour, before which time the Snakes were taken from him; But he complained exceedingly of a fire that with much tor∣ment had possessed all his Limbs, and his whole body began to swell exceedingly, like Nasidius, bit by a Lybian Serpent, called a Prester: Now much after this manner did the stinging of those Snakes work upon that wretch; and about half an hour after they were taken from him, the soul of that unnatural monster left his groaning Carkass, and so went to its place. And cer∣tainly both those I last named so sentenced, and so executed, most justly deserved to be handled with all severity, for taking away the lives of those from whom they had receiv'd their own. Some of our family did behold the execution done upon the later, who related all the passages of it; and for my part I might have seen it too, but that I had rather go a great way not to see, then one step to behold such a sight.

After the example of that King, his Governours, deputed and set over Provinces and Cities, proceed in the course of Justice, to impose what punishment and death they please upon all offen∣dors, and malefactors.

That King never suffers any of his Vicegerents to tarry long Page  453 in one place of Government, but removes them usually (after they have exercised that Power, which was given unto them in place, for one year) unto some other place of Government, re∣mote from the former, wherein they exercise their power: and this that King doth, that those, which be his Substitutes, may not in any place grow popular.

I told you before that this people are very neat, sha∣ving themselves so often, as that they feel the Rasor almost every day; but when that King sends any of them unto any place of Government, or upon any other imployment, they cut not their hair at all, till they return again into his presence; as if they desired not to appear beautiful, or to give themselves any content in this while they live out of the Kings sight; and therefore the King, as soon as he sees them, bids them cut their hair.

When the Mogol by Letters sends his Commands to any of his Governours, those Papers are entertain'd with as much respect as if himself were present; for the Governour having intelli∣gence that such Letters are come near him, himself with other inferiour Officers ride forth to meet the Patamar, or Messenger that brings them; and as soon as he sees those Letters he alights from his horse, falls down on the earth, and then takes them from the Messenger and lays them on his head, whereon he binds them fast, and then returning to his place of publick meeting, for dispatch of businesses, he reads them, and answers their contents with all care and diligence.

The King oft times in his own person, and so his Substitutes appointed Governours for Provinces and Cities, Judge in all matters Criminal that concern Life and Death. There are other Officers to assist them, which are called Cut-walls (whose Office is like that of our Sheriffs in England) and these have ma∣ny substitutes under them, whose business it is to apprehend, and to bring before these Judges such as are to be tried for things Criminal, or Capital, where the offender (as before) knows presently what will become of him. And those Officers wait likewise on other Judges there, which are called Cadees, who only meddle with Contracts and Debts and other businesses of this nature 'twixt man and man. Now these Officers arrest Debtors, and bring them before those Judges, and their Sureties too, bound as with us in Contracts, confirmed (as before) under their hands and seals; and if they give not content unto those which complain of them, they will imprison their persons, where they shall find and feel the weight of fetters; nay, many times they will sell their Persons, their Wives and Children in∣to bondage, when they cannot satisfie their debts; And the cu∣stom of that Country bears with such hard and pitiless courses, such as was complain'd of by the poor Widow unto the Pro∣phet Elisha; who when her husband was dead, and she not able to pay, the Creditor came and took her two sons to be bond-men, 2 Kings 4.1.

Page  454The Mogol looked to be presented with some thing, or other, when my Lord Embassadour came to him, and if he saw him often empty handed, he was not welcome; and therefore the East-India Company were wont every year to send many parti∣cular things unto him, in the name of the King of England, that were given him at several times, especially then when the Embassadour had any request unto him, which made a very fair way unto it.

Amongst many other things, when my Lord Embassadour first went thither, the Company sent the Mogol an English Coach, and Harness for four Horses, and an able Coach-man, to sute and manage some of his excellent Horses, that they might be made fit for that service. The Coach they sent was lined within with Crimson China Velvet, which when the Mogol took notice of, he told the Embassadour that he wondred the King of England would trouble himself so much, as to send un∣to China for Velvet to line a Coach for him, in regard that he had been informed, that the English King had much better Velvet nearer home, for such, or any other uses.

And immediately after, the Mogol caused that Coach to be taken all to pieces, and to have another made by it, for (as before) they are a people that will make any new thing by a pattern; and when his new Coach was made according to the pattern, his work-men first putting the English Coach together, did so with that they had new made; then pulling out all the China Velvet which was in the English Coach, there was in the room thereof put a very rich Stuff, the ground Silver, wrought all over in spaces with variety of flowers of silk, excellently well suited for their colours, and cut short like a Plush, and in stead of the brass-nails that were first in it, there were nails of silver put in their places. And the Coach, which his own Work-men made was lined and seated likewise with a richer stuff than the former, the ground of it gold, mingled like the other with silk flowers, and the nails silver and double gilt; and after having Horses and Harness fitted for both his Coaches, He rode sometimes in them, and contracted with the English-coach-man to serve him, whom he made very fine, by rich vests he gave him, allowing him a very great Pension; be∣sides, he never carried him in any of those Coaches, but he gave him the reward of ten pounds at the least, which had raised the Coach-man unto a very great Estate, had not death prevented it, and that immediately after he was setled in that great service.

The East-India Company sent other Presents for that King, as excellent Pictures which pleased the Mogol very much, espe∣cially if there were fair and beautiful Women portrayed in them. They sent likewise Swords, Rapiers, excellently well hatcht, and pieces of rich Imbroidery to make sweet bags, and rich Gloves, and handsome Looking-glasses, and other things to give away, that they might have always some things in readi∣ness Page  455 to present both to the King, and also to his Governours, where our Factories were setled: for all these were like those Rulers of Israel mentioned, Hosea 4.18. who would love to say with shame, give ye. They looked to be presented with some∣thing, when our Factors had any especial occasion to repair un∣to them, and if the particular thing they then presented did not like them well, they would desire to have it exchanged for something else, haply they having never heard of our good and modest proverb, That a man must not look into the mouth of a given Horse. And it is a very poor thing indeed which is freely given, and is not worth the taking.

The Mogol sometimes by his Firmauns, or Letters Patents, will grant some particular things unto single, or divers persons, and presently after will contradict those Grants by other Let∣ters, excusing himself thus, That he is a great, and an absolute King; and therefore must not be tied unto any thing, which if he were, he said that he was a slave, and not a free-man: Yet what he promised was usually enjoyed, although he would not be tied to a certain performance of his promise. Therefore there can be no dealing with this King upon very sure terms, who will say and unsay, promise and deny. Yet we English∣men did not at all suffer by that inconstancy of his, but there found a free Trade, a peaceable residence, and a very good esteem with that King and People; and much the better (as I con∣ceive) by reason of the prudence of my Lord Embassadour, who was there (in some sense) like Joseph in the Court of Pha∣raoh; for whose sake all his Nation there, seemed to fare the better. And we had a very easie way upon any grievance to repair to that King as will appear now in my next Section, which speaks,