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 VII. Of their numerous Armies; Their Ammunition for war; How they lade themselves with weapons; How terribly they appear; yet how pusillanimous, and low-spirited they are.

WHere first, for their numerous Armies, it will appear to be no strange thing, if we consider the Great Mogol to be what he is, an overgrown Prince, (as before described) in the vast extent of his large Territories, being like a huge Pike in a great Pond, that preys upon all his neighbours, who therefore purchase, and keep his favour by very great Presents given him by way of homage, and a submiss acknowledgment of his mighty Power. And besides, the Mogol is a Master of unknown trea∣sure, having Silver, as 'tis written of Solomon, 1 Kings 10.27. like stones in the streets. And certainly in far greater abun∣dance than ever Solomon had. Though I must tell my Reader, that all metals there, are not silver and gold, nor all stones precious. Now he that can command what treasure he will, may likewise command what men he please, as the Mogol doth besides his own people. Many Persians and Tartars (before spo∣ken of) very valiant men, who serve him as Souldiers on horse-back, and so the major part by far, whether Natives, or stran∣gers, are mounted for his service in his wars.

Hence it is that the Armies there consist of incredible multi∣tudes; they talk of some which have exceeded that mighty Host which Zerah King of Aethiopia brought against King Asa, 2 Chron. 14.9. but they having not well learned that horrid bloody art of war, as the Europeans have, and wanting Com∣manders, and other Officers to manage their great Companies, are not so skilful to destroy, as otherwise they might be: it is a phrase most properly and fitly applyed unto savage, and absurd, and brutish, and unreasonable men, to the Enemies of God, and of his Church by the Prophet Ezek. 21.31. Where Al∣mighty God threatens that he will deiver them into the hands of brutish men, and skilful to destroy.

Page  387The Weapons they use in their Wars are, Bows and Arrows, Swords and Bucklers, short Lances having excellent good steel-heads, and short pieces like unto Carbines, besides those carried upon Elephants (before described) some Foot-men in their Wars carry those lesser Guns, with Bows and Arrows, Swords and Bucklers, and they are excellent Marks-men. They make good Gun-powder for their own use, and fire their Guns with Match, or Touch-wood. Their Swords are made crooked like Falchons, and are very sharp; but for want of skill in those that temper them, will easily break, but not bend. And there∣fore we sell at good rates our English Sword-blads that will bow, and become strait again. They have (and they say that for ma∣ny generations past have had) great Ordnance, though they sel∣dom make use of them in their Wars.

Their warlike Musick are some Kettle-drums carried on horse-back, with long wind Instruments, which make not Musick, but noise, so harsh and unpleasing, that it is enough to fright away their enemies.

They say, that in their Military engagements, they make at the first very furious onsets, which are too violent long to con∣tinue, for the Scale quickly decides the controversie, when that side which happens first to be worsted, and to be put into dis∣order, knows better to Run than to Rally again.

There are some of the Mogols own Subjects which are men of courage; those of note among the Mahometans are called Balo∣ches, inhabiting Haiacan, adjoyning unto the Kingdom of Persia, (spoken of before) and there are others called Patans, taking their denomination from a Province of that name in the King∣dom of Bengala. These will look an enemy boldly in the face, and maintain with their lives, their reputation and valour. Amongst the many Sects of Hindoos or Gentiles (after spoken of) which are subject to this King, there is but one race of fighters called Rashboots, a number of which live by spoil, who in Troops surprize poor Passengers, for the most part murther∣ing those whom they get under their power. These excepted, the rest of the Mogols Natives, for the generality of them, had rather eat than quarrel, and rather quarrel than fight. I say quarrel, for I have several times observed there, that when two of them, have been both well armed, and have most shamefully abused one another, in baser language than I can express, yet durst not draw their weapons; in conclusion, when one of them hath caught the other by the throat, and forced him up against some wall, the sufferer would cry out pitiously, and the standers by would admire the other for his valour, saying, Sha-Abas; a proverbial speech amongst them relating to the late King of Per∣sia, called Sha-Abas, a Prince much renowned for valour; and when any man did a thing they thought gallantly, they cryed Sha-Abas, as much as to say, it was done as well as the Persian King could have done it.

Page  388Yet, however the people here in general are cowardly, they appear men of very terrible aspects, having great long Musta∣cho's upon their upper Lips, their Chins continually kept bare by the Rasor, which makes them all to look like the Pictures of our old Britains; or like those our rude Painters daub upon clothes, and call them the Nine-worthies. And further, to make them the more formidable, they will appear on horse-back as if they were surrounded with an Armory, or carrying an whole Armory about them, thus appointed; At their left sides swords hanging on belts, under them sheaves of many arrows; on their left shoulders broad Bucklers fastned, and upon their backs small Guns like to Carbins fixed likewise; at their right sides Bows hanging in cases, and Lances (about two yards and an half long) hanging in loops near their stirrups (when they carry them not in their hands); yet for all this Harness the most of them are like those Ephramites, Psal. 78.9. Who being armed, and carrying bows, turned their heads in the day of battel. For they dare not look a man of courage in the face, though they be thus fortified, with such variety of weapons for their defence. Nay, a man of resolution will beat one of these out of all his weapons, with a small Stick or Cane. So that I shall do the Natives of that Country no wrong, if I say of them, that they are sola Li∣bidine fortes, most strong and valiant in their base lusts, and not otherwise.

The base Cowardice of which people, hath made the great Mogol sometimes to use this Proverb, that one Portugal would beat three of his people; and (because the English there have many times prevailed much at Sea against those Portugals) he would further add, that on English-man would beat three Portugals.

The truth is, that the Portugals, especially those which are born in those Indian Colonies, most of them a mix'd seed begot∣ten upon those Natives, are a very low, poor-spirited people, called therefore Gallina's delt Mar, The Hens of the Sea.

One notable instance to prove this: it happened that the East-India Company had a very little Pinnace, they called the Coaster, which they kept in those parts for discoveries; mann'd she was but with ten men, and had only one small Murdering-piece with∣in her. She upon a time met with a Portugal Ship, going then towards Ormos, which had one hundred and thirty men aboard her▪ and Guns answerable to her Burden, and Company; Our petty Pinnace came up with her, discharged her murdering-piece, which slew one of her chief Officers; upon which, with∣out any further resistance, she presently strook her Sails and yielded. Our English presently commanded her Gunners, and some other of her Chief Officers, to come aboard them, which immediately they did, and there kept them bound, till they had taken what they pleased out of their Ship, and then let them go, being most deservedly used in that their suffering, they being Page  389 thirteen to one; and yet such beasts they were, as they durst not make any resistance.

But take some stories of valiant Portugals before I leave them, and these you shall have from some of that Nation themselves, whom we not seldom met in India, and would there beg relief of us; but I never knew any come to us upon those terms, but his pride would excuse his poverty thus, that he was challenged into the field, and there in single combat had fairly slain a man; how that he durst not return again any more into the Portugal Colonies, for fear of the Law, and it was that which put him at present into that sad exigent to ask relief, and this was their usual plea there; when in truth and in deed, we did believe them to be such pitiful wretches, or men of such a strange resolution, as that, (as it was written of one called Pisander) they would be made to fear their own shadows.

However, upon this account there came upon a time at my first coming into India, unto the Factory at Surat, where I then was, a most valiant Portugal (if you will give him leave to tell his own story, and believe it when he hath done) who first for his person was a Quantus tantus, tantillus, a very poor, little dwar-fish man, whose person promised as little valour as any that I ever saw, though I know that high courage is not tyed to an huge bulk, for (if stories abuse us not) Alexander the Great was but a little man; but what ever Alexander was, I am sure, that this was a poor little thing; but however he told us, that he was by birth an Hidalgo, which signifies in Spanish the Son of some bo∣dy, or no ordinary man, but a Gentleman of Spain, and that he came from thence as a Companion to the King of Spains Vice∣roy, sent to Goa, and himself was called the Knight with the Golden Rapier, and that suddenly after his coming to Goa, he was honourably invited into the field, there to fight a single Combat with a very gallant man of that place, but he soon left him there dead; and having done so, the Viceroy prevented him with a pardon for that fact, before he ask'd it, but willing him withall, now he had been sufficiently tryed, to confine his Rapier to its scabbard. But he told us further, that he could not long after live quietly there, but was provoked again by a man of high resolution, unto a second encounter, when he had the like success as before, in killing his Adversary. The Viceroy now was very angry with him, but upon much intreaty, as he said, pardoned him a second time; upon the receit of which fa∣vour he told us that he was then resolved to throw away his Ra∣pier, to get into a Religious House, and there to remain the re∣sidue of his days, a Convertado or Penitent. But the Viceroy could not be long without his Company; and therefore to gain it, restored him again into his former favour: But for himself he was still so unhappy (the fame of his great valour being spread abroad) as that he could not long enjoy that peace, and quiet, which he now so much desired, but received a third Challenge Page  390 from a very gallant, and very valiant man, as he describ'd him, a man big enough to beat a Goliah; and then he further told us, that his honour was ever more dear unto him than his life; and therefore notwithstanding the loss of the Viceroys favour, and what else might happen, he entred the Lists with him; and though he found him the stoutest adversary that ever he opposed, yet after a long conflict this little Knight kill'd that great Gyant, and left him there dead likewise: which done, He (not daring to return any more unto Goa) told us, that he came naked out of the field as we then saw him with no ornaments (I assure you) about him, fit to make him a Viceroys companion, nor any wea∣pon fit to Dub him Knight of the Golden Rapier. He further added, that he was now resolved not to live any longer amongst the Christians, but that he desired to live amongst the English; but when we replyed that we were Christians, he cried Jesu Ma∣ria! as wondring at it, and further told us, that he never heard so before.

When this Rhadomantadist had ended his perillous story, it was dinner time, and the Merchants bid him to sit down with us and eat, and so he did, where certainly he laid about him more valiantly than ever he had done before in the field, giving our meat many a cut, and eating, as if he had been more than half starved. He continued with us there for some few days, and af∣ter, when his hunger was well satisfied, and his spirits well re∣freshed, he began to take some exception against his place at the Table, because he eat at the lower end thereof, saying, that the company there were but Factors, Servants, but he was a Gen∣tleman, and therefore his due place was higher at the board, but then corrected himself, saying, that it was not to be much consider∣ed where he sate, for his place made the upper end of the Table where ever he was placed: and suddenly after, this Don Quixot being weary of his stay with us (though he was but too well used) and having a great mind to ramble further, told our Com∣pany, that he being an Hidalgo, it was very dishonourable for him to take entertainment upon the terms he had it; and there∣fore desired us to make a little Purse for him, on which he would live as long as he could, and then creep into some Desert place, and there repent and dye. And now our great Ghest, having spent all his humour, and told us all his Dream, had his desire granted in some money that was given to him; and so we parted with our Knight Errant, who lived longer than he told us he would live. For half a year after I took notice of him at the Mo∣gols Court, and there I leave him.

I will now shortly relate a story of another of his Nation (and I do believe, as good a Gentleman as himself) who called himself Antonio de la Valla. It happened, that a little before our co∣ming thence, my Lord Embassadour going from his own house to dine at the English Factory in Surat, and I waiting on him, there appeared then to us a walking Skeleton, most miserably Page  391 clothed, the poorest, and leanest Creature that ever mine Eyes beheld, who faintly begg'd of him some relief, telling (what was true) that he was almost quite starv'd; the Ambassadour pittied and relieved him, and, as we return'd back, found this poor Creature eating with so much gree∣diness, as if he could not have been satisfied. He was then willed to come to our House, and he did so, and there was fed, and heartned up again, and then, when he was come to himself, told us, that he had endured there abundance of misery, which, as he acknowledged, did most justly befall him, because he had there renounced his Religion, and become a Mahometan, which, when he had done, no care was taken of him there, (for they regard not a Man that will not be constant in his Reli∣gion, believing, that if that Bond cannot tye him, nothing will.) He told us further, that he was very sorry that he had so done, and desired a passage for England, which was granted him; and he was put unto me as my Servant, and therefore I fitted him with Clothes, &c. fit for his turn, but afterward (we being at Sea) he would often curse and ban, and cry out, O Mal ventura! O his hard hap! and that of all the miseries which he had endured, this was the greatest; that he, an Hidalgo, a Gentleman of Spain, should live to become a Servant, and which was worse, to serve an Heretick. I would, when I heard this of him (for he spake not so to me) tell him of it, and further mind him of that most sad condition in which we found him, how that he had starv'd to death, if our pitty in the relief he found from us, had not even then prevented it. He would reply, that he knew not what he said; telling me, that his many mise∣ries had turn'd his Brains: (Not to bestow any more Ink and Paper on him) we brought him afterward to Plimmouth, and immediately after our arrive there, he desired his Liberty, which was easily granted him, and from thence (having some Money given him, more than he deserved) took his course; whither, I cannot tell, neither need my Reader desire to know. And therefore I will return again, as swift as meditation or thought can carry me, unto East-India, where I shall in the next place speak