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 IV. Of the Discommodities, Inconveniences, and Annoyances, that are to be found or met withall in this Empire.

AS the Poets feigned that the Garden 'of the Hesperides (wherein were Trees that bare Golden Apples) was guard∣ed by a Serpent: So there are stings here, as well as fruits; all considered together may not unfitly be resembled by those Lo∣custs mention'd, Rev. 9.7, 8, 10. verses, Who had the Faces of Men, and the Hair of Women, and Crowns as of Gold on their Heads; but they had too, the Teeth of Lyons, and the tayls of Scor∣pions, and there were stings in those tayls. Here are many things to content and please the enjoyers of them, to make their life more comfortable; but withall here are Teeth to tear, and stings to kill: All put together, are nothing but a mixture made up (as indeed all earthly things are) of good and bad; of bitter and sweet; of what contents, and of what contents not.

The Annoyances of these Countries are, first many harmfull beasts of prey, as Lyons, Tygers, Wolves, Jackalls, with others; those Jackalls seem to be wild Doggs, who in great com∣panies run up and down in the silent night, much disquieting the peace thereof, by their most hideous noyse. Those most ravenous Creatures will not suffer a Man to rest quietly in his Grave, for if his Body be not buryed very deep, they will dig him thence, and bury as much of him again as they can consume in their hungry bellies. In their Rivers are many Crocodiles, and—Latet anguis in herba, on the Land, not a few over-grown Snakes, with other venemous and pernicious Creatures. In our Houses there we often see Lizards, shaped like unto Crocodiles, of a sad green colour, and but little Creatures, the fear of whom presents its self most to the Eye, for I do not know that they are hurtful. There are many Scorpions to be seen, which are Page  372 oftentimes felt, which creep into their houses especially in that time of the Rains, whose stinging is most sensible, and deadly, if the Patient have not presently some oyl that is made of Scor∣pions, to annoint the part affected, which is a sudden and a cer∣tain cure. But if the man can get the Scorpion that stung him, (as sometimes they do) the oylie substance it affords, being beaten in pieces, suddenly applyed, is a present help. The sting of the Scorpion may be a very fit resemblance of the sting of Death, the bitterness and anguish whereof nothing can asswage and cure so well, as a serious consideration, and a continual application of the thoughts of dying. Facilè contemnit omnia, qui cogitat se sem∣per moriturum, that man may trample upon every thing, whose meditations are taken up with the thoughts of his Change. He cannot dye but well, who dyes daily; daily in his preparations for death, though he dye not presently.

The Scorpions are in shape like unto our Cra-fishes, and not bigger, and look black like them, before they are boyled. They have a little round tayl which turns up, and lyes usually upon their backs, at the end whereof is their sting, which they do not put in, and let out of their bodies, as other venemous creatures do, but it alwayes appears in their tayls ready to strike; it is very sharp and hard, and not long, but crooked like the talon of an Hawk.

The abundance of Flyes (like those swarms in Egypt, Exod. 8.21.) in those parts did likewise very much annoy us: for in the heat of the day their numberless number was such, as that we could not be quiet in any place for them, they being ready to fly into our Cupps, and to cover our Meat as soon as it was placed on the Table; and therefore we had alwayes some of the Natives we kept there, who were our Servants, to stand round about us on purpose while we were eating, with Napkins to fright them away. And as in the day one kind of ordinary Flyes troubled us; so in the night we were likewise very much dis∣quieted with another sort called Musqueetoes, like our Gnats, but some-what less, and in that season we were very much troubled with Chinches, another sort of little troublesome and offensive creatures, like little Tikes: and these annoyed us two wayes; as first by their biting and stinging, and then by their stink. From all which we were by far more free when we lodged in Tents (as there we did much) than when we abode in Houses; where in great Cities and Towns, (to add unto the disquiets I before named) there were such an abundance of large hungry Ratts, that some of us were bitten in the night as we lay in our beds, either on our Toes or Fingers, or on the tips of our Ears, or on the tops of our Noses, or in any part of our Bodies besides which they could get into their Mouths.

The winds in those parts (as I observed before) which they call the Mont soone, blow constantly one way, altering but few points, six months Southerly, and six months Northerly. The months of April, May, and the beginning of June, till the Rain Page  373 falls, are so extremly hot, as that the wind when it blows but gent∣ly, receives such heat from the parched ground, that the reflecti∣on thereof is ready to blister a Man's Face that receives the breath of it. And if God did not provide for those parts, by sending a breeze, or breath, or small gale of wind daily, which some-what tempers that hot sulphureous Air, there were no living in that Torrid Zone for us English, who have been used to breathe in a temperate Climate; and, notwithstanding that benefit, the Air in that place is so hot to us English, that we should be every day stewed in our own moisture, but that we stir very little in the heat of the day, and have cloathing about us as thin as we can make it. And no marvel, for the coldest day in the whole year at noon (unless it be in the time when those Rains fall) is hotter there then the hottest day in England.

Yet I have there observed most strange and sudden changes of heat and cold within few hours, as in November and December the most temperate months of their year (as before) and then at mid-night the Air was so exceeding fresh and cold, that it would produce a thin Ice on the water, and then as we lay in our Tents, we would have been very glad of the warmth of a Rugg upon us, and the noon of that following day would be so extream hot, as that it was troublesom then to keep on the thinnest cloathing.

Sometimes there, the wind blows very high in those hot and dry seasons, not long before the Rain begins to fall, raising up into the Air a very great height, thick Clouds of Dust and Sand, which appear like dark Clouds full of moisture, but they deceive like the brook in Job, Job 6.15. that hath no water in it. These dry showers (which Almighty God threatens to send among a people as an heavy judgement, Deut. 28.24. When he will make the Rain of a Land powder and dust) most grievously annoy all those amongst whom they fall, enough to smite them all with a present blindness; filling their Eyes, Ears, Nostrils, and their Mouths are not free if they be not also well guarded; search∣ing every place as well within as without our Tents or Houses, so that there is not a little key-hole, of any Trunk or Cabinet, if it be not covered, but receives some of that dust into it, the dust forced to find a lodging any where, every where, being so driven and forced, as it is, by the extream violence of the wind.

But there is no place nor Country under Heaven, nor yet ever hath been, without some discommodities. The Garden of Eden had a Serpent in it, Gen. 3. He that made all things by his Ab∣solute Command, hath so mixed and tempered, and ordered all things here below by his infinite Wisdom, that either too much Heat, or too much Cold; either the barrenness of the Soyl, or the unwholsomness of the Air, or some thing else, mi∣nisters matter of exception more or less against every place, that the Sons of Men might hence learn, that there is no true and perfect content to be found in any Kingdom, but in that of Heaven: For while we are here, trouble and peace, mourning and joy, Page  374 comfort and discontent, come all of them by courses and succes∣cessions; so that there is no weeding up of those Tares, no re∣moving of those Annoyances from the Life of Man.

And so having observed what is Truth, and what is enough to be said of the Inconveniences and Annoyances, as well as of the Commodities and Contentments which are to be found in those parts, I come now to speak of the People that inhabit there. And because many particulars will necessarily fall with∣in the compass of this part of my Observations, which would more weary my Reader if they should be presented unto him in one continued Discourse, I shall therefore (as I have begun) break this into Sections, and proceed to speak