Of their Employments and Recreations.
It is full time now, that we relate what course of life the People take, and what means they use for a livelihood. This has been in part already related.
As for Commerce and Merchandize with Foreign Nations, there is little or nothing of that now exercised. Indeed in the times when the Portugueze were on this Island, and Peace between them and the King, he permitted his People to go and Trade with them. The which he would never permit them to do with the Hollander, tho they have much sought for it. They have a small Traffic among themselves, occasioned from the Nature of the Island. For that which one part of the Countrey affords, will not grow in the other. But in one part or other of this Land they have enough to sustain themselves, I think, without the help of Commodities brought from any other Countrey: exchanging one Commodity for another; and carrying what they have to other parts to supply themselves with what they want.
But Husbandry is the great Employment of the Countrey, which is spoken of at large before. In this the best men labour. Nor is it held any disgrace for Men of the greatest Quality to do any work either at home or in the Field, if it be for themselves; but to work for hire with them is reckoned for a great shame: and very few are here to be found that will work so; But he that goes under the Notion of a Gentleman may dispence with all works, except carrying, that he must get a man to do when there is occasion. For carrying is accounted the most Slave-like work of all.
Under their Husbandry, it may not be amiss to relate how they geld their Cattel. They let them be two or three years old before they go about this work; then casting them and tying their Legs together; they bruise their Cods with two sticks tied together at one end, nipping them with the other, and beating them with Mallets all to pieces. Then they rub over their Cods with fresh Butter and Soot, and so turn them loose, but not suffer them to lye down all that day. By this way they are secured from breeding Maggots. And I never knew any die upon this.
Under their Husbandry, it may not be amiss to relate how they geld their Cattel. They let them be two or three years old before they go about this work; then casting them and tying their Legs together; they bruise their Cods with two sticks tied together at one end, nipping them with the other, and beating them with Mallets all to pieces. Then they rub over their Cods with fresh Butter and Soot, and so turn them loose, but not suffer them to lye down all that Page 96day. By this way they are secured from breeding Maggots. And I never knew any die upon this.
Their Manufactures are few: some Callicoes, not so fine as good strong Cloth for their own use: all manner of Iron Tools for Smiths, and Carpenters, and Husbandmen: all sorts of earthen ware to boil, stew, fry and fetch water in, Goldsmith’s work, Painter’sWork, carved work, making Steel, and good Guns, and the like.
But their Art in ordering the Iron-Stone and making Iron, may deserve to be a little insisted on. For the Countrey affords plenty of Iron, which they make of Stones, that are in several places of the Land; they lay not very deep in the ground, it may be, about four or five or six foot deep.
First, They take these Stones, and lay them in an heap, and burn them with wood, which makes them more soft and fitter for the Furnace. When they have so done they have a kind of Furnace, made with a white sort of Clay, wherein they put a quantity of Charcoal, and then these Stones on them, and on the top more Charcoal. There is a back to the Furnace, like as there is to a Smith’s Forge, behind which the man stands that blows, the use of which back is to keep the heat of the fire from him. Behind the Furnace they have two logs of Wood placed fast in the ground, hollow at the top, like two pots. Upon the mouths of these two pieces of hollow wood they tie a piece of a Deers Skin, on each pot a piece, with a small hole as big as a man’s finger in each skin. In the middle of each skin a little beside the holes are two strings tied fast to as many sticks stuck in the ground, like a Spring, bending like a bow. This pulls the skin upwards. The man that blows stand with his feet, one on each pot, covering each hole with the soles of his feet. And as he treads on one pot, and presseth the skin down, he takes his foot off the other, which presently by the help of the Spring riseth; and the doing so alternately conveys a great quantity of wind thro the Pipes into the Furnace. For there are also two Pipes made of hollow reed let in to the sides of the Pots, that are to conduct the wind, like the nose of a Bellows, into the Furnace.
For the ease of the Blower, there is a strap, that is fastned to two posts, and comes round behind him, on which he leans his back: and he has a stick laid cross-ways before him, on which he lays both his hands, and so he blows with greater ease. As the Stones are thus burning, the dross that is in them melts and runs out at the bottom, where there is a slanting hole made for the purpose so big as the lump of Iron may pass thro: out of this hole, I say, runs out the dross like streams of fire, and the Iron remains behind. Which when it is purified, as they think, enough, so that there comes no more dross away, they drive this lump of Iron thro the same sloping hole. Then they give it a chop with an Ax half thro, and so sling it into the water. They so chop it, that it may be seen that it is good, Iron for the Satisfaction of those that are minded to buy.
For a farewel of their labours, let it not be unacceptable to relate here a piece of their Housewifry; and tell you how they make Butter. First, They boil the Milk, then they turn it into a Curd; the next morning they skim off the Cream, and drill it in an earthen Vessel with a stick having a cross at the bottom of it, somewhat like a Chocolate stick. When the Butter is come, they put it in a pan, and fry it, to get all the water dry out of it, and so put it into an earthen pot for use.
There are no Markets on the Island. Some few Shops they have in the Cities, which sell Cloth, Rice, Salt, Tobacco, Limes, Druggs, Fruits, Swords, Steel, Brass, Copper, &c.
As to the Prices of Commodities, they are sold after this rate. Rice in the City, where it is dearest, is after six quarts for fourpence half-peny English, or a small Tango, or half a Tango; six Hens as much; a fat Pig the same: a fat Hog, three shillings and six pence or four shilling: but there are none so big as ours. A fat Goat, two and fix pence. Betle-nuts4000 nine pence Currant price, when a Trad.
And now we are discoursing or their Traffick, we will speak a little of their Measures, Weights, and Coin.
First for Measures. A Rian is a Cubit, which is with them from the bone on the inside of the Elbow to the tip of the fourth Finger. A Waddo rianis the Carpenters Rule. It is as much as will reach from one Elbow to the other, the Thumbs touching one the other at the tops, and so stretching out both Elbows.
For their Corn-measures, the least is a Potta, which is to contain as much Grain as a man can hold heaped up in his whole hand palm and fingers and all. Four Pottas make a lawful or Statute-measure, called Bonder Nellia, signifying the King’s measure. Which is the King’s ordinary allowance to a man, that is as much as he can eat in a day. But we Englishmen were allowed two. Four of these Bonder Nellias make a Courney. In fashion it is an handsom turned measure, some of them are made with Canes like a Basket. Ten of these Courneys make a Pale, that is forty measures, which is the usual quantity that they sell for a Laree, or fifth part of a Piece of eight, the usual price in Cande Vda. But in time of Harvest two Pales for a Laree. Four of these Pales make an Ommouna. In which they keep the account of their Corn, reckoning by Ommounas.
For their Weights, their smallest is Collonda, six make just a Piece of eight. They have half Collondas and quarter Collondas. When they are to weigh things smaller than a Collonda, they weigh them with a kind of red Berries, which grow in the Woods, and are just like Beads. The Goldsmiths use them, Twenty of these Beads make a Collonda and Twenty Collondas make a Pallum.
Here is no Punishment for those that make less weights and measures. They are more circumspect that their measures be not too big than too little. For Money being scarce, Corn passeth instead of Money, and every man mets by his own measure. Which therefore he makes as large as he can or dares, that so when he receives his Debt of Corn, he may get as much as he can. Which upon this account would be a great injury to the poorer sort of People, who commonly are the Debtors. Therefore the Adigars Officers will go about the Towns to examine the measures by a Statute-Measure; and where they find great ones they cut them in pieces, and hang them up in the Streets to terrifie others, and sometimes will amerce a Fine upon them that have them.
Of Money they have but three sorts that passeth for Coin in the King’s Dominions. The one was Coined by Portugals, the King’s Arms on one side, and the Image of a Frier on the other, and by the Chingulayes called Tangom massa. The value of one is nine pence English, Poddi Tangom, or the small Tangom is half as much. There is another sort, which all People by the King’s Permission may and do make. The shape is like a fish-hook, they stamp what mark or impression on it they please. The Silver is purely fine beyond pieces of Eight. For if any suspect the goodness of the Plate, it is the Custom to burn the Money in the fire red hot, and so put it in water: and if it be not then purely white, it is not Currant Money. The third sort of Money is the King’s proper Coin. For none upon pain of Death may Coin it. It is called a Ponnam. It is as small as a Spangle: Seventy five make a piece of Eight, or a Spanish Dollar. But all sorts of Money is here very scarce: And they frequently buy and sell by exchanging Commodities
Pass we now from their Business to their Pastimes and Diversions. They have but few Sports, neither do they delight in Play. Only at their New year, they will sport and be merry one with another. Their chief Play is to bowl Coker-nuts one against the other, to try which is the hardest. At this time none will work, until their Astrolagers tell them, it is a good hour to handle their Tools. And then both Men and Women do begin their proper works; the Man with his Ax, Bill, and Hough, and the Woman with her Broom, Pestle, and Fan to clean her Corn.
There is another Sport, which generally all People used with much delight, being, as they called it, a Sacrifice to one of their Gods; to wit, Potting Dio. And the benefit of it is, that it frees the Countrey from grief and Diseases. For the beastliness of the Exercise they never celebrated it near any Town, nor in sight of Women, but in a remote place. The manner of the Game is thus. They have two crooked sticks like Elbows, one hooked into the other, and so with contrivances they pull with Ropes, until the one break the other; some riding with one stick, and some with the other; but never is Money laid on either side. Upon the breaking of the stick, that Party that hath won doth not a little rejoyce. Which rejoycing is exprest by Dancing and Singing, and uttering such sordid beastly Expressions, together with Postures of their Bodies, as I omit to write them, as being their shame in acting, and would be mine in rehearsing. For he is at that time most renowned that behaves himself most shamelesly and beast-like
This filthy Solemnity was formerly much in use among them; and even the King himself hath spent time in it, but now lately he hath absolutely forbidden it under penalty of a forfeiture of Money. So that now the practice hereof is quite left off.
But tho it is thus gone into dis-use, yet out of the great delight the People had in it, they of Gompala would revive it again; and did. Which coming to the King’s ear, he sent one of his Noblemen to take a Fine from them for it. The Nobleman knew the People would not come to pay a Fine, and therefore was fain to go to work by a Stratagem. Pitching therefore his Tents by a Pond, he gave order to call all the People to his assistance to catch Fish for the King’s use. Which they were very ready to do, hoping to have the refuse Fish for themselves. And when they were all thus assembled together with their Tools, and necessary Instruments for that purpose, the Nobleman charged them all in the King’s Name according to the Countries fashion, which was by pulling off his Cap, and falling down upon the ground three times, that not a man of them should budge till they had paid such a Sum of Money, which was so much a piece, for reviving that Play that the King had forbid. Which they were forced to do before they departed from the Pond side. And the Money was carried into the King’s Exchequer.
When they would be merry, and particularly at their great Festival in the New Moon of June or July (before mentioned;) they have People that shew pretty tricks and feats of Activity before them. A man sets a Pole of seven or eight foot long upon his Breast; a Boy gets to the top of this Pole, and leans with his Belly upon the end of it; and thus the man danceth with the Pole on his Breast, and the Boy on it, and but little holding the Pole. A man takes four Arrows with blades about a foot long, they are tied one cross another, and so laid upon the end of a Pole, which rests upon the man’s Breast. On a sudden he squatts down upon the ground, and the four Arrows all fall on the four sides of him, sticking in the ground. Two Cross-bows stand bent one opposite to the other, charged with Arrows drawn up to the heads: they are placed just so high, as they may fly over a man’s back when he lyes flat upon the ground. A man danceth between them and shows Tricks, and when he is pleased, he touches a string made fast to both their trickers, at which they both instantly Discharge, and he falls flat down between them, and the Arrows fly over his back, which if they hit him, undoubtedly fly thro his Body. A Woman takes two naked Swords under each Arm one, and another she holds in her mouth, then fetcheth a run and turns clear over, and never touches the ground till she lights on her feet again, holding all her Swords fast. There are divers other Diversions of this nature too large to mention.
way-faring men to lodge in, in their Language called Amblomb, where they sit chewing Betel, and looking one upon the other very gravely and solidly, discoursing concerning the Affairs at Court, between the King and the great Men; and what Employment the People of the City are busied about. For as it is the chief of their business to serve the King, so the chief of their discourse is concerning such matters. Also they talk of their own affairs, about Cattel and Husbandry. And when they meet with Outlandish-men they enquire about the Laws and Government of their Countrey, and if it be like theirs; and what Taxes and Duties we are bound to pay, and perform to our King, &c.
And this manner of passing their leisure time they account the greatest Recreation. Drunkenness they do greatly abhor, neither are there many that do give themselves to it. Tobacco likewise they account a Vice, but yet is used both by Men and Women; but more eaten than drunk in Pipes.
But above all things Betel leaves they are most fond of, and greatly delighted in: when they are going to Bed, they first fill their mouths with it, and keep it there until they wake, and then rise and spit it out, and take in more. So that their months are no longer clear of it, than they are eating their Victuals. This is the general practice both of Men and Women, insomuch that they had rather want Victuals or Cloths than be without it; and my long practice in eating it brought me to the same condition. And the Reasons why they thus eat it are, First, Because it is wholsom. Secondly, To keep their mouths perfumed: for being chewed it casts a brave scent. And Thirdly, To make their Teeth black. For they abhor white Teeth, saying, That is like a Dog.
The better sort of Women, as Gentlewomen or Ladies, have no other Pastime but to sit and chew Betel, swallowing the spittle, and spitting out the rest. And when Friends come to see and visit one the other, they have as good Society thus to sit and chew Betel, as we have to drink Wine together.
But to describe the particular manner of their eating these Leaves. They carry about with them a small Box filled with wet Lime; and as often as they are minded to eat Betel, they take some of this Lime, as much as they judge convenient, and spread it thin upon their leaf; then they take some slices of the Betel-nut, and wrap them up in the leaf, and so eat it, rubbing their Teeth therewith ever and anon to make them black. Thus they eat it generally: but sometimes they eat it otherwise, according as they please; neither spreading the Lime on the leaf, nor rolling up slices of the Nut into it: But they will take a little of the Lime out of their Box between their Fingers, and put it in their mouths, and eat of the Nut and the Leaf by themselves. But whensoever they eat of the Betel-leaf, the Lime and the Nut always accompany it.
They have a pretty shift of making their Lime, when they chance to need it as they are travailing. They take certain Shells, almost resembling Snails Shells, which they pick up in fresh water Rivers, washed a shore with the water beating upon the Rocks. These Shells, mixed with Charcoal and, fire they wrap up in a wisp of Rice-straw, and bind them together in a round bundle of a convenient bigness, tying all up with green Withs, that they may not fall in pieces. By a With some four foot long they hold it in their hands, swinging it round over their heads. Which motion blows the Coals and makes them burn. And as they are weary with swinging it in one hand, they shift and take it in the other: and so keep swinging it for half an hour or thereabouts. By which time it will be burnt to very good Lime, and most part of the straw consumed: but it is still kept together by the green Withs. Then they take it and wet it in water, and put it into their Pots or Boxes for their use. The Lime made of white stone burnt in a Kiln they do indifferently use to eat with their Leaves, as well as this made of Shells now described.