Concerning some other English men
detained in that Countrey.
In the same Captivity with our selves on this Island, was another Company of English Men, who were taken about a year and an half before us, viz. in the year MDCLVIII. They were Thirteen in number, whose names were as follow, Viz. Mr. William Vassal, John Merginson, Thomas March, Thomas Kirby, Richard Jelf, Gamaliel Gardiner, William Day, Thomas Stapleton, Henry Man, Hugh Smart, Daniel Holstein, an Hamburger, James Gony, and Henry Bingham. The occasion of their Seizure was thus. The Ship these Men belonged unto was the Persia Merchant, Capt. Francis Johnson Commander, which was lost upon the Maldives Islands. But they escaped in their Boats, and passing along by this Land went on shore to recruit and buy Provisions, and so were taken. The Chingulays that took them Plundered them of what they had, except their Cloths. Yet one of them, John Merginson by name, having cunningly hid his Money about him, saved it from the Heathen, but from his own Countrymen he could not, some of whom knowing of it set upon him and robbed him of it. But it did them little good, for the King hearing of it sent and robbed the Robbers.
These men thus seized were carried up before the King. Of whom he demanded, whether the English had Wars with the Hollanders. They answered, No. Or, if the English could beat them. They answered, They could and had done it lately. Then he gave order to give them all some Cloths, and to Mr. William Vassal, being the chief of them, a double Portion. And out of them made choice of two Lads; whom afterwards he sent and took into his Court. Their honours and their ends we shall see by and by. They were all placed in the City of Cande, and each of them had a new Mat given them to sleep on, and their Diet was Victuals dressed and brought them twice a day from the King’s own Palace. They had Cloths also distributed to them another time.
So that these men had the advantage of us. For we neither had Mats nor Cloths, nor had the honour of being ever brought into the King’s Presence.
This civil Reception upon their first coming up into the City, put these Persia Merchant-men in hope, that the King would give them their Liberty. There was at that time an old Portugueze Father, Padre Vergonse by name, Living in the City. With him they discoursed concerning the probability of their Liberty, and that the favours the King had shewn them seemed to be good signs of it: but he told them the plain truth, that it was not customary there to release white Men. For saying which, they railed at him, calling him Popish Dog, and Jesuitical Rogue, supposing he spoke as he wished it might be. But afterward to their grief they found it to be true as he told them.
Their entertainment was excellently good according to the poor condition of the Countrey, but they thought it otherwise, very mean and not according to the King’s order. Therefore that the King might be informed how they were abused, each man took the Limb of an Hen in his hand, and marched rank and file in order thro the Streets with it in their hands to the Court, as a sign to the great Men whereby they might see, how illy they were served; thinking hereby the King might come to hear of their misusage, and so they might have order to be fed better afterwards. But this proved Sport to the Noblemen who well knew the fare of the Countrey, laughing at their ignorance, to complain where they had so little cause. And indeed afterwards they themselves laughed at this action of theirs, and were half ashamed of it, when they came to a better understanding of the Nature of the Countreys Diet.
Yet notwithstanding being not used to such short Commons of Flesh, tho they had Rice in abundance, and having no Money to buy more, they had a desire to kill some Cows, that they might eat their Bellies full of Beef, but made it somewhat a point of Conscience, whether it might be lawful or not, to take them without leave. Upon which they apply themselves to the old Father abovesaid, desiring him to solve this Case of Conscience. Who was very ready to give them a Dispensation. And told them, That forasmuch as the Chingulayes were their Enemies and had taken their Bodies, it was very lawful for them to satisfie their Bodies with their Goods. And the better to animate them in this design, bid them bring him a piece, that he might partake with them. So being encouraged by the old Father, they went on boldly in their intended Business.
Now if you would have an account of the Metal and Manfulness of these men, as you have already had a tast of ours, take this passage. The Jack Fruit the Kings Officers often gather wheresoever it grows, and give to the Kings Elephants, and they may gather it in any mans grounds without the Owners leave, being for the Kings use. Now these English men were appointed to dwell in an house, that formerly belonged unto a Noble man, whom the King had cut off, and seized upon it. In the ground belonging to this House stood a Jack Tree full of Fruit. Some of the Kings men came thither to gather some of them to feed the Elephants. But altho the English had free liberty to gather what they could eat or desire, yet they would permit none but themselves to meddle with them, but took the Officers by the shoulders and turned them out of the Garden, altho there were more a great many than they could tell what to do with. The Great men were so Civil, that notwithstanding this Affront, they laid no Punishment upon them. But the Event of this was, that a few days after they were removed from this house to another, where was a Garden but no Trees in it. And because they would not allow the King a few, they lost all themselves.
I mentioned before two Lads of this Company, whom the King chose out for his own service, their Names were Hugh Smart and Henry Man. These being taken into his Court, obtained great Favour and Honour from him, as to be always in his presence, and very often he would kindly and familiarly talk with them concerning their Country, what it afforded; and of their King and his Strength for War. Thus they lived in his Favour for some time.
Till at length Hugh Smart, having a desire to hear news concerning England, privatly got to the Speech of a Dutch Embassadour. Of which the King had notice, but would not believe it, supposing the information was given him out of Envy to his Favorite, but commanded privately to watch him, and if he went again, to catch him there. Which he not being aware of, went again, and was catched. At which the King was very angry. For he allows none to come to the speech of Ambassodours, much less one that served in his presence, and heard and saw all that passed in Court. But yet the King dealt very favourably with him. For had it been a Chingulay, there is nothing more sure than that he should have dyed for it. But this English mans Punishment was only to be sent away and kept a Prisoner in the Mountains without Chains, and ordered him to be well used there. Where indeed he lived better content than in the Kings Palace. He took a Wife here and had one Son by her, and afterwards dyed by a mischance, which was thus. As he was gathering a Jack from the Tree by a Crock, it fell down upon his side, and bruised him so that it killed him.
Henry Man the other, yet remained in Favour, and was promoted to be Chief over all the Kings Servants that attended on him in his Palace. It happened one Day, that he broke one of the Kings China Dishes. Which made him so sore afraid, that he fled for Sanctuary into a Vehar, a Temple where the Chief Priests always dwel, Page 135and hold their consultations. This did not a little displease the King; this Act of his supposing him to be of Opinion that those Priests were able to secure him against the Kings displeasure. However he shewing Reverence to their Order would not violently fetch him from thence; but sent a kind Message to the English man, bidding him not to be afraid for so small a matter as a Dish (And, it is probable had he not added this fault he might have escaped without Punishment) and that he should come and Act in his place as formerly.At which Message he came forth, and immediatly, as the King had given order, they took hold of him and bound his Arms above the Elbows behind, which is their fashion of binding men. In which manner he lay all that Night, being bound so hard that his Arms swelled, and the Ropes cut throw the Flesh into the Bones. The next day the King Commanded a Noble man to loose the Ropes off his Arms, and put Chains on his Legs, and keep him in his House, and there feed him and cure him.
Thus he lay some Six Months, and was cured, but had no Strength in his Armes, and then was taken into his Office again, and had as much Favour from the King as before. Who seemed much to lament him for his folly, thus to procure his own ruine.
Not long after he again offended the King. Which as it is reported was thus. A Portugueze had been sent for to the City to be employed in the Kings Service; to which Service he had no Stomach at all, and was greatly afraid of, as he justly might be. For the avoiding therefore of it he sends a Letter to this English Courtier, wherein he entreated him to use his interest to excuse him to the King. The English man could not read the Letter being writ in the Portugueze Tongue, but gave it to another to read. Which when he knew the contents of thought it not safe for him to meddle in that business, and so concealed the Letter. The person to whom the English man had given it to read, some time after informed the King thereof. Whereupon both the Portugueze that sent the Letter, and the English man to whom it was sent, and the Third Person that read it, because he informed no sooner, were all three at one time and in one place torn in pieces by Elephants.
After this Execution the King supposing that we might be either discontented in our selves, or discountenanced by the People of the Land, sent special order to all parts where we dwelt, that we should be of good cheer, and not be discouraged, neither abused by the Natives.
Thus jealous is the King of Letters, and allows none to come or go. We have seen how dear it cost poor Henry Man. Mr. William Vassal, another of the Persia-Merchant men, was therefore more wary of some Letters he had, and came off better.
This man had received several Letters, and it was known abroad that he had. Which he fearing lest the King should hear of, thought it most convenient and safe to go to the Court and present him himself; that so he might plead in his own Defence to the King. Which he did. He acknowledged to him that he had received Letters, and that they came to his hands a pretty while ago: but withall pretended excuses and reasons to clear himself. As first, that when he received them, he knew not that it was against the Law and manner of the Countrey; and when he did know, he took Council of a Portugueze Page 136Priest, (who was now dead) being old and as he thought well experienced in the Countrey. But he advised him to defer a while the carrying them unto the King until a more convenient season. After this he did attempt, he said to bring them unto the King, but could not be permitted to have entrance thro the Watches: so that until now, he could not have opportunity to present them.
The King at the hearing hereof, seemed not to be displeased in the least, but bid him read them. Which he did in the English Language, as they were writ; and the King sat very attentive as if he had understood every word. After they were read, the King gave Vassal a Letter he had intercepted, sent to us from Sir Edward Winter, then Agent at Fort St. George; and asked the News and Contents thereof. Which Mr. Vassal informed him at large of. It was concerning the Victory we had gained over the Dutch when Obdam Admiral of Holland was slain, and concerning the number of our Ships in that Fight, being there specified to be an Hundred and Fifty Sail. The King inquired much after the number of Guns and Men they carried. The number of Men he computed to be one Ship with another about Three Hundred per Ship. At that rate, the King demanded of him how many that was in all. Which Mr. Vassal went about to cast up in the Sand with his finger. But before he had made his Figure the King had done it by Head, and bid him desist, saying it was 45000.
This News of the Hollanders overthrow, and the English Victory much delighted the King: and he inquired into it very particularly. Then the King pretended he would send a Letter to the English Nation, and bad Mr. Vassal inform him of a Trusty Bearer. Which he was very forward to do, and named one of the best which he had made trial of. One of the Great men there present, objected against him, saying, he was insufficient, and asked him, if he knew no other. At which Vassal suspected their Design, which was to learn who had brought those Letters to him; and so framed his answer accordingly, which was that he knew no other.
There was much other discourse passed between the King and him at this time in the Portugueze Tongue. Which what it was I could never get out of him, the King having commanded him to keep it secret. And he saith, he hath sworn to himself not to divulge it, till he is out of the Kings hands. At parting, the King told him, for Secrecy he would send him home privatly, or otherwise he would have dismist him with Drums and Honour. But after this the King never sent for him again. And the man, that he named as fit and able to carry the Kings Letter, was sent away Prisoner to be kept in Chains in the Countrey. It is supposed, that they concluded him to have been the man that brought Vassal his Letters. And thus much of the Captivity and Condition of the Persia-Merchant men.