Concerning the King’s Manners,
Vices, Recreation, Religion.
Under the Consideration of his Manners, will fall his Temperance, his Ambition and Pride, his Policy and Dissimulation, his cruel and bloody Disposition.
He is temperate both in his Diet and his Lust. Of the former, I am informed by those that have attended on his Person in his Palace, that though he hath all sorts of Varieties the Land affords brought to his Table, yet his chief fare is Herbs, and ripe pleasant Fruits: and this but once a day. Whatsoever is brought for him to eat or drink is covered with a white cloath, and whoever brings it, hath a Mufler tyed about his mouth, lest he should breath upon the Kings Food. The Kings manner of eating is thus. He sits upon a Stool before a small Table covered with a white cloath, all alone. He eats on a green Plantane-Leaf laid in a Gold Bason. There are twenty or thirty Dishes prepared for him, which are brought into his Dining-Room. And which of these Dishes the King pleases to call for, a Nobleman appointed for that service, takes a Portion of and reaches in a Ladle to the Kings Bason. This person also waits with a mufler about his mouth.
And as he is abstemious in his eating, so in the use of women. If he useth them ’tis unknown and with great secrecy. He hath not had the Company of his Queen this twenty years, to wit, since he went from Candy, where he left her. He allowes not in his Court Whoredom or Adultery; and many times when he hears of the misdemeanors of some of his Nobles in regard of women, He not only Executes them, but severely punisheth the women, if known: and he hath so many Spyes, that there is but little done, which he knows not of. And often he gives Command to expel all the women out of the City, not one to remain. But by little and little when they think his wrath is appeas’d, they do creep in again. But no women of any Quality dare presume, and if they would, they cannot, the Watches having charge given them not to let them pass. Some have been taken concealed under mans Apparel, and what became of them all may judg, for they never went home again. Rebellion does not more displease this King, then for his Nobles to have to do with women. Therefore when any are admitted to his Court to wait upon him, they are not permitted to enjoy the Company of their Wives, no more then any other women. Neither hath he suffered any for near this twenty years to have their Wives in the City, except Slaves or inferior servants.
Indeed he was once guilty of an Act, that seemed to argue him a man of most unbridled Lust. For he had a Daughter that was with Child by himself: but in Childbed both dyed. But this manner of Incest is allowable in Kings, if it be only to beget a right Royal Issue, which can only be gotten that way. But in all other ’tis held abominable, and severely punished. And here they have a common and usual Proverb, None can reproach the King nor the Beggar. The one being so high, that none dare; the other so low that nothing can shame or reproach them.
His Pride and affectation of honour is unmeasurable. Which appears in his Peoples manner of Address to him, which he either Commands or allows of. When they come before him they fall flat down on their Faces to the Ground at three several times, and then they sit with their legs under them upon their Knees all the time they are in his presence: And when he bids them to absent, they go backwards, untill they are out of his sight or a great distance from him. But of Christian People indeed he requires no more then to kneel with their Hats off before him.
Nay, He takes on him all the Ceremonies and Solemnities of Honour, which they shew unto their Gods; making his account that as he is now their King, so hereafter he shall be one of their Gods. And the People did call him God. Formerly since my being on that Land, he used not to come out of his Palace into the sight of the People but very seldom out of State and Haughtiness of Spirit; but now of later times he comes forth daily. And altho he be near fourscore years of age, yet his greatest delight is in Honour and Majesty, being most pleased with high and windy Titles given him. Such as Mauhawaul, a Phrase importing Greatness, but not expressible in our Language. Hondrewné Boudouind, Let your Majesty be a God. When the King speaks to them, they answer him at every period, Oiboa, many Lives. Baula Gaut, the limb of a Dog, speaking to the King of themselves: yet now of late times since here happened a Rebellion against him, he fears to assume to himself the Title of God; having visibly seen and almost felt, that there is a greater power then His ruling on Earth, which set the hearts of the People against Him: and so hath given command to prophane that great Name no more, by ascribing it to him.
In Anno 1675, one of the Kings greatest and most Valiant Generals, and that had been notably successful against the Dutch, had done many pieces of good service for the King, expelled the Hollander out of several Forts, taking and killing many or them, this man the King was jealous of, and did resolve to take away his Head as a reward of his Valour; which he had some private Intelligence of, and so Fled, being then in Camp against the Dutch, and got to Columba with his wife and goods. By which the King had an invaluable Loss. Yet the King out of the height of his Stomach, seemed not in the least to be vexed thereat, neither did he regard it; as if it were beneath the quality of such a Monarch to be moved with such a Trifle. But sent down another General in his place; And as for the house and estate of him that Fled, and whatsoever he left behind him, he let it lye and rot, scorning to esteem or regard it.
To give you an Instance or two more of this Princes Spirit. At the time of New-year, all his Subjects, high and low, do bring him certain Presents, or rather Taxes, each one a certain rate; which formerly he used constantly to take, but of late years, He so abounds with all things, continually putting into his Treasury, and but seldom taking out, and that but little, that he thinks scorn to receive these his due revenues, least his people should think it were out of necessity and want. Nevertheless the Great Men still at the New-year, bring their Presents day after day before the King at his coming forth, hoping it will please him to accept them, but now of many years he receives them not. His mind is so haughty, that he scorns to seem to value any thing in the world. When tydings are sometimes brought him, that the Dutch have made an Invasion into his Countrey, although he be well able to expel them, he will not so much as regard it.
The Dutch knowing his Proud Spirit make their advantage of it, by Flattering him with their Ambassadors, telling him that they are his Majesties humble Subjects and Servants; and that it is out of their Loyalty to him, that they build Forts, and keep Watches round about his Countrey, to prevent Forraign Nations and Enemies from coming. And that as they are thus imployed in his Majesties service, so it is for sustenance, which they want, that occasioned their coming up into his Majesties Countrey. And thus by Flattering him, and ascribing to him High and Honourable Titles, which are things he greatly delights in, some times they prevail to have the Countrey (they have invaded,) and he to have the Honour. Yet at other times, upon better Consideration, he will not be Flattered, but falls upon them at unawares, and does them great damage.
Such a Veneration does he expect from the People, that whatsoever things are carrying to him which are known by the white Cloath they are wrapt up in, all persons meeting them turn out of the way: not excepting the Kings foul Cloaths. For when they are carried to washing (which is daily) all even the greatest rise up, as they come by, which is known by being carried on an hand heaved upwards, covered with a Painted cloth.
He is crafty, cautious, a great dissembler, nor doth he want wisdom. He is not passionate in his anger. For with whomsoever he be angry, he will not shew it: neither is he rash or over-hasty in any matters, but doth all things with deliberation, tho but with a little advise: asking Counsel of no body but himself. He accounts it Wit and Policy to lie and dissemble, that his intents and purposes may the better be concealed; but he abhorreth and punisheth those that lie to him.
Dutch Runnawayes, whereof there are several come to him, he saith are Rogues that either have robbed or killed, or else would never run away from their own Nation. And tho he receiveth them, yet esteemeth them not.
He seems to be naturally disposed to Cruelty: For he sheds a great deal of blood, and gives no reason for it. His Cruelty appears both in the Tortures and Painful deaths he inflicts, and in the extent of his punishments, viz, upon whole Families for the miscarriage of one in them. For when the King is displeased with any, he does not alwayes command to kill them outright, but first to torment them, which is done by cutting and pulling away their flesh by Pincers, burning them with hot Irons clapped to them to make them confess of their Confederates; and this they do, to rid themselves of their Torments, confessing far more than ever they saw or knew. After their Confession, sometimes he commands to hang their two Hands about their Necks, and to make them eat their own flesh, and their own Mothers to eat of their own Children; and so to lead them thro the City in public view to terrifie all, unto the place of Execution, the Dogs following to eat them. For they are so accustomed to it, that they seeing a Prisoner led away, follow after. At the place of Execution, there are alwayes some sticking upon Poles, others hanging up in quarters upon Trees; besides, what lyes killed by Elephants on the ground, or by other ways. This place is alwayes in the greatest High-way, that all may see and stand in awe. For which end this is his constant practice.
Moreover, he hath a great many Prisoners, whom he keepeth in Chains, some in the common Gaol, some committed to the custody of Great Men; and for what or for how long time none dare enquire. Commonly they ly thus two, four or six years; and some have Victuals given them, and some not having it, must ask leave to go out and beg with a Keeper. It is according as the King appoints, when they are committed. Or some of them being driven to want do get food by work, such as, sewing, making Caps, Doublets, Purses. This coming once to the Kings Ears, he said, I put them there to torment and punish them, not to work and be well maintained; and so commanded to take away their Sizzars and Needles from them. Yet this lasted not long, for afterwards they fell to their work again. Those that have been long there are permitted to build little Shops on the Street side against the Prison, and to come out in the day time, and sell their work as they make it; but in the Night time are shut up again.
When the Streets are to be swept about the Palace, they make the Prisoners come out in their Chains, and do it.
And after all their Imprisonment, without any examination, they are carried forth and executed: and these not only the common sort, but even the greatest and most nobly descended in the Land: For with whom he is displeased, he maketh no difference.
Nor is his wrath appeased by the Execution of the Malefactor, but oftentimes he punisheth all his Generation; it may be kills them alltogether, or gives them all away for Slaves.
Thus he often deals with those, whose Children are his Attendants. I mentioned before, that young Men of the best Families in the Land, are sought out to wait upon the King in his Court. These after they have served here some small time, and have as it were but seen the Court, and known his Customs and Manners, he requiteth them by cutting off their Heads, and putting them into their Bellies: other faults none do know. Heretofore, as it is reported, he was not so Cruel, but now none escapes, that serves in his Palace. Then he recruits his Slain out of the Countries, by giving Orders to his Dissava’s or Governors to send him others to Court. Whither they go like an Ox to the Slaughter, but with far more heavy hearts. For both they and their Parents full well know what end the King’s honorable Service will bring them to. Howbeit there is no remedy. Being thus by Order sent unto the Court, their own Parents must provide for and maintain them, until the King is pleased to call them to his Use which it may be will not be in some years. Sometimes it happens, that the Boys thus brought, before the King makes use of them about his Person, are grown too big, and so escape. But those that are employed in the Palace, enjoy this favour, That all such Taxes, Customs, or other Duties belonging to the King, which their Fathers were wont to pay, are released, until such time as they are discharged from the King’s Employment; which is always either by Execution, or by being given to somebody for perpetual Bondmen. During the time of the King’s favour, he is never admitted to go home to Visit his Parents and Friends. The Malekind may come to see him, but no Women are admitted, be it his Mother that bare him. And after he is killed, tho’ for what no man knows, he is accounted a Rebel and Traitor against the King: and then his Father’s House, Land and Estate is seized on for the King. Which after some time by giving of Fees and Gifts to the great ones, they do redeem again: And sometimes the whole Family and Generation perish, as I said before. So that after a Lad is taken into the King’s Palace, his Kindred are afraid to acknowledge Alliance to him. But these matters may more properly be related, when we come to speak of his Tyranny
Sometimes for his Pleasure, he will ride or be carried to his Banquetting-House, which is about a Musquet-shot from his Palace. It stands on a little Hill; where with abundance of pains and many Months labour, they have made a little Plain, in length not much above an Arrows flight, in breadth less. Where at the head of a small Valley, he hath made a Bank cross to stop the Water running down. It is now become a fine Pond, and exceeding full of Fish. At this Place the King hath several Houses built according to his own appointment very handsom, born up with carved Pillars and Painted, and round about Rails and Banisters turned, one Painted and one Ebony, like Balconie. Some standing high upon a Wall, being for him to sit in, and see Sport with his Elephants, and other Beasts, as also for a Prospect abroad. Others standing over this Pond, where he himself sits and feedeth his Fish with boiled Rice, Fruits and Sweet-meats. They are so tame that they will come and eat in his hand; but never doth he suffer any to be catch’d. This Pond is useful for his Elephants to wash in. The Plain was made for his Horses to run upon. For often-times he commands his Grooms to get up and ride in his Presence; and sometimes for that good Service, gives the Rider five or ten Shillings, and it may be a piece of Cloath. Always when he comes forth, his Horses are brought out ready saddled before him; but he himself mounts them very seldom. All of which he had from the Dutch, some sent to him for Presents, and some he hath taken in War. He hath in all some twelve or fourteen: some of which are Persian Horses.
Other Pastimes and Recreations he hath (for this is all he minds or regards.) As to make them bring wild Elephants out of the Woods, and catch them in his Presence. The manner how they get them unto the City, I have mentioned already. Also when he comes out of his Court, he Delights to look upon his Hawks, altho’ he never use them for his Game; sometimes on his Dogs, and tame Deer, and Tygers, and strange kind of Birds and Beasts; of both which he hath a great many. Also he will try his Guns, and shoot at Marks, which are excellently true, and rarely inlay’d with Silver, Gold, and Ivory. For the Smiths that make them dare not present them to his hand, not having sufficiently proved them. He hath Eight or Nine small Iron Cannon, lately taken from the Dutch, which he hath mounted in Field-Carriages, all rarely carved, and inlay’d with Silver and Brass, and coloured Stones, set in convenient places, and painted with Images and Flowers. But the Guns disgrace the Carriages. He keeps them in an House on the Plain. Upon some Festival times he useth them. I think, they are set there chiefly for a Memorial of his late Victories: For he hath many, and far better Guns of Brass that are not so regarded.
In his Palace he passeth his time with looking upon certain Toyes and Fancies that he hath, and upon his Arms and Guns, calling in some or other of his great Men to see the same, asking them if they have a Gun will shoot further than that: and how much Steel such a Knife, as he will shew them, needs to have in it. He takes great delight in Swimming, in which he is very expert. And the Custom is, when he goes into the Water, that all his Attendance that can Swim must go in likewise.
And now lastly for his Religion, you cannot expect much from him. Of the Religion of his Countrey he makes but a small Profession; as perceiving that there is a greater God, than those that they thro long custom, have and do Worship. And therefore when an Impostor, a Bastard Moor by Nation born in that Land; came and publickly set up a new nameless God, as he styled him; and that he was sent to destroy the Temples of their Gods, the King opposed it not for a good while, as waiting to see which of these Gods would prevail, until he saw that he aimed to make himself King, then he allowed of him no longer: as I shall shew more at large hereafter: when I come to speak of the Religion of the Countrey.
The Christian Religion, he doth not in the least persecute, or dislike, but rather as it seems to me, esteems and honours it. As a sign of which take this passage. When his Sister died, for whom he had a very dear Affection, there was a very grievous Mourning and Lamentation made for her throughout the whole Nation; all Mirth and Feasting laid aside, and all possible signs of sorrow exprest: and in all probability, it was as much as their lives were worth, who should at this time do any thing, that might look like joy. This was about Christmas. The Dutch did notwithstanding adventure to keep their Christmas by Feasting. The News of this was brought to the King. And every body reckoned it would go hard with the Dutch for doing this. But because it was done at a Festival of their Religion, the King past it by, and took no notice of it. The Value also that he has for the Christian Religion, will appear from the respect he gives the Professors of it; as will be seen afterwards.