The Travels of Peter Mundy in Europe and Asia, 1608-1667, Volume III, Part II
About this text
Peter Mundy was an East India Company factor and the son of a Cornish pilchard merchant from Penryn. He arrived in Surat on 30 Sept. 1628, and was sent to Agra in November 1630, where he remained until 17 Dec. 1631. He then proceeded to Puttana on the borders of Bengal, returning to Agra and Surat before returning to Dover on 9 Sept. 1634. He undertook further voyages to India, China, and Japan in April 1636. His travels are recorded in journals whose manuscripts are held in the Bodleian Library (Rawlinson A315) and the British Library (Harleian 2286, Add.19278-81). The Bodleian Library MS continues his narrative, including journeys to Denmark, Prussia, and Russia, from 1639 to 1648. It is written possibly by a clerk, with corrections by Mundy, including his own drawings and tracings of some of his routes. It ends in 1667 and contains miscellaneous notes made after his final return home about comets, sea-fights, accidents, and political events in London and Cornwall. The standard printed text of Mundy’s travels is Richard Carnac Temple’s edition (see below) which contains some of Mundy’s illustrations. Our selections from this text focus on his account of travelling through Gujarat and Malwa during the notorious Gujarat famine of 1630-32. But they also include sections from his other travels which deal with food, dearth of provisions during travel, encounters with plenty or excess, accounts of weather disturbances, and observations on the transport of goods and provisions. Primary Sources The Travels of Peter Mundy, in Europe and Asia, 1608-1667, 5 vols, ed. Richard Carnac Temple (Cambridge: Printed for the Hakluyt Society, 1907-1925) Suggested Reading R E Pritchard, Peter Mundy, Merchant Adventurer (Oxford: Bodleian Library, 2011). Palmira Johnson Brummett, The “Book” of Travels: Genre, Ethnology, and Pilgrimage, 1250-1700 (Leiden: Brill, 2009). Daniel Carey and Claire Jowitt, eds., Richard Hakluyt and Travel Writing in Early Modern Europe, Hakluyt Society, extra series, v. 47 (Farnham and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2012).
THE TRAVELS OF PETER MUNDY, IN EUROPE AND ASIA,1608-1667.
VOL.III, TRAVELS IN ENGLAND,INDIA,CHINA,ETC. 1634-1638 PART II. TRAVELS IN ACHIN, MAURITIUS, MADAGASCAR, AND ST HELENA, 1638
1. RELATION XXVII. OUR DEPARTURE FROM MACAO IN CHINA, OUR TOUTCHING ATT MALLACCA AND ARRIVAL AT ACHEIN ON THE ILAND OF SUMATRA, VIZ:
A Storme : lost our longboate. January 1637 . Monday, the First Day of the Yeare, Month and Weeke, wee had very Much winde, which by Nightt grew to a storme, Soe thatt before [Page 319] day wee were faine to Cutte off our long-boate From our Sterne, beeing allmost Full of water, having First saved our Men outt of her, who could not keepe her Free, Soe cutt one of her seizons (another, the biggest, broken butt a little beeffore) and left her goe. The same nightt the Sunnes longboate allsoe brake away, butt lost nobody. The 4th January . Beeing thicke and Dusty, wee made land some 4 Miles off. Last Nightt One, goodman Anthony, in our shippe the Dragon, going over the quarter to heave the logge, Fell by the Board, and crying, " O lord, O lord," was no More heard offe, itt beeing Nightt, the shippe with very fresh way, allthough noe greatt Sea, yett was it impossible to save him att that tyme, beeing (as some said) hee could nott swymme att all. Hee was Found to bee a very laborious, careffull [Page 320] honest Man, yett taken away on a Sodaine on unexpected Death comming alik to all Impartiall; And thus wee beegin our New yeare. God grauntt the Following part proove better.
Inhumaine and bloudy executions For an intended [t]reason. Here wee understood of aboutt 400 persons putt to death by this King some 3 or 4 Monthes since with sundry sorts off exquisite tormentts, viz., Divers Cutt in peeces; others sawne in 2, beeing made fast to tymbers, and as the wood is cutt soe goeth the saw through their Bodies by little and little ; some hung on Iron hookes by the heeles, stretched wide abroad, and Molten lead powred into the Fundamentts of the Men and privities of the weomen to cause them [to] Conffesse where their Masters or husbands treasure lay. Some one way, some another, were putt to Cruell Deathes and their Mangled torne bodies throwne into the River.
Little ease: ordinary punishmentts. In the Castle greene were allsoe 3 little low lodges off boards Full off long nailes or spikes, the points inwards, soe thatt a Man can Neither stand nor leane. Here some offenders, are putt and kept till they are called Forth to receave liberty or punishment, which are usually performed with extremity, as Death by severall waies, cutting off of hands or Feette (or both). Noses, lippes or privities, or all ; to some More, to some lesse, and then are left goe.
Taking of Wild Elephantts : how tamed. Here they allsoe Chace and take wilde Elephantts with tame ones, by Enclosing them round soe thatt they cannott escape. These are after made fast beetweene 2 tame Elephantts, who lead him upp and Downe (as I myselfe saw), and in short tyme hee beecommeth allsoe tame. This King is said to have aboutt 1000.
Whatt use Elephantts are putt unto. The Elephantt here is putt to servile labour (not soe in India), as to launch and Draw vesells on shoare, Dragging tymber, carrying smaller wood, which they will very easily and cleanly take uppe From the ground on there tuskes with the helpe off their truncke, and soe carry it away very orderly, their truncke serving as an arme and hand, as well to gather and Fitt their loding on their said tuskes when they First take it From the ground as afterward to come round aboutt over itt to keepe all steddy and Fast as they carry it away.
Mangostaines, a pretty Fruite. Here I saw Mangostaines, a Fruite thatt Formerly I had read (and heard spoken) offe, esteemed daynety as it Deserves. It is very round, Nere 5 or 6 Inches aboutt, off a tawny coullour, the Rinde very thicke, with a white substance within. Divided into Sundry Cloves, much like a head off garlicke, having a pleasauntt Cherry-like relish, good against the Flux and thus formed.
Obeisaunce to the King, in whatt Manner perfformed. The last off February . Mr Edward Knipe having some businesse with the King, Captaine Swanly and my selffe went with him. Att the entraunce off the Court gate wee putt off our shooes. And comming Near where the King was, wee made an obeisaunce after the Country Manner by Joyning our hands palme to palme, and soe Joyned lifting them over our heads. Comming a little Nearer wee did soe againe, and a little Farther wee did soe the 3d tyme. But the last was with bending our bodies First.
Cock Fighting much used att Achein. Then sate wee Downe Crosse legged, there beeing Many people. The King then beeholding the sporte off Cocke Fighting, much used here, there beeing good Cockes in this place. The King was very Familiar and spake with any thatt would speake with him, off a setled Countenance allthough hard Favoured, according [Page 336] to this country Fashion apparelled after the Ordinary Manner, butt adorned with Many Jewells off Diamonds, etts. [and other] pretious stones. None off the Orancaies [Orang-kaya] (or Lords) wearing any aboutt them except on their Cresses [kris, dagger] and swords.
Tortoises Egges : Green snakes. In the Bazars they sell Tortoises egges, redy sodde [boiled]. They are sphericall round, and not ovall allthough they bee egges. Nor have No shell, butt a Filme such as Country people say are laid by overffed hennes.
2. RELATION XXVIII. SINCE OUR DEPARTURE FROM ACHEIN, ON THE ILAND OF SUMATRA, UNTILL OUR ARRIVAL AT THE ILAND OF MAURITIUS AND DEPARTURE THENCE AGAINE, VIZA.
To the 20th [March 1638]. Much calmes and Raynes. Reffreshing by Bonitos etts. Fishes taken. Towards the end of this Month wee mett the Monsoone thatt rules in these parts att this tyme of the yeare, And then came in pretty reffreshing off Allbacores and Bonitos of which wee tooke pretty store, As allsoe of Dolphins and Sharckes some. The Bonitos kept us company For 7 or 8 Dales together close round aboutt our shippe, seeming to emulate her going, For shee ran all this while 6, 7 and 8 Miles an hower.
The Moderne Dolphin : whatt Fish is meant by the poetts. The Dolphin, called by the Spaniards Dorado (beecause of his curious golden coullour), is one of their greatest enemies. It is held the swifftest off all fishes thatt swymme. This is not the Dolphin Mentioned by the auncients, beeing butt a smalle Fish, sildome or Never scene Nere the shoare, butt allwaies in the wide Ocean ; [that is] rather thoughtt to bee the porpoise , able to beare a Man or a boy, as Poetts off old say .[Dolphins] are ordinarylye aboutt 3 Foote in length ; the longest thatt ever I saw was nott 41/2 Foote, This 5 is made with the Fynne on his backe erected as wee conceave hee swymmeth ; otherwise it is laid [down]. Hee sheweth off pleasauntt Changeable Coullours as well in the water as awhile after hee is taken.
Anchored at the Mauritius in Water Bay ; Store off fresh fish. The 15th of Aprill . Wee wentt Farther in and Mored in Water bay. Here wee caughtt sundry sorts off fish like breames, of severall collours, spotted ; allsoe Rocke Fish, blackish with white spotts. There are a sort by report Dangerous to bee eaten, beeing poisonous, butt God bee praised, wee mett with None.
The Palmito tree affording Meate and Drincke. The Palmito tree, much like the Toddy trees on Battee [Bhatha] plaine by Suratt (perhapps the same sort), the tender toppe wherof boyled and buttred are as good (if not better) as Cabbage, To which end Many hundred are allready cutt Downe and Few remayning [Page 349] aboutt the places where our shippes use to toutch or winter. Beesides, by cutting the Body of the tree, there Distills a licor which may bee compared to thatt which comes From the prest Sugar cane, pleasaunt and wholsome, very good Drincke
The Ebon Tree. The Ebon tree groweth here aboundantly, which soe much is esteemed off with us For its exceeding hardnesse. Jetty blacknesse and Durability. They are somwhatt tall and straightt, with a small ovall leaffe off a Darcke greene. The very Ebony ittselffe is the heart of the said tree, the rest yellow and hard like box. Neither is itt Found in every tree, only I conceave in those of good growth and som long standing. It is said shippes have bin sentt purposely From Denmarcke to lade themselves with itt. For there is enough.
The Box tree. Another tree resembling the box tree wee have in England both in leaffe and wood, and may bee accompted off the same kinde.
Lemmon trees, etts. Sundry other straunge sorts off Trees are here to bee Found, some bigge and tall, others of a pretty Forme as though Don by arte. By report here are allsoe lemmon etts. [and other] Fruite tree[s] and herbes as yett unknowne to us : Much of the Plantt off which Aloes is made, resembling the Siempre viva [Sempre viva, House-leek], the Juice off this extreame bitter .
Bullockes, Goates, Hogges, Tortoises. These beasts etts. creatures affollowing are here to bee had with a little paynestaking, viz. Bullocks, off which wee saw and heard some, butt tooke None.
Goates, wee killed some and tooke others alive, off the biggest size in general that elsewhere I have scene, in shape and haire somwhatt like to those att Mohilla and Johanna.
Hogges wee allsoe killed, beeing att presentt very leane, and caught Some sucking pigges. [Page 351] Tortoises, wee broughtt aboard as Many as wee would, good Meat if well Dressed, beeing very Fatte, having No other tast, butt goode, Some of them have their upper shell off aboutt 3 Foote long, Few exceeding it as I could see ; a very untoward, unsightly and unweeldy (allthough harmlesse) Creature. If they bee. turned on their backes they cannott helpe themselves butt will soe dye.
Dodo : a Fowle. For Fowle, these Following Among the reste. The Dodo. Allthough wee now Mett with None, yett Divers tymes they are Found here, having seene 2 att Suratt broughtt From hence and as I remember they are as bigge bodied as great Turkeyes, covered with Downe, having little hanguing wings like shortt sleeves, alltogether unuseffull to Fly withall, or any way with them to helpe themselves. Neither Can they swymme butt as other land Fowle Doe [when] on Necessity Forced into the water, beeing Cloven Footed as they are.
A good harbour : a greatt Fresh River. Here by is a good harbour called the North West harbour, whither wee went with our skiffe, and From thence uppe into a Creeke to the Fresh River , which is soe large and hath soe Much water thatt hardly to bee beeleived it could proceed From soe small an Hand ; running over and among great round stones, rockes, etts.
Divers Creekes : Sharckes, Oysters. Divers Creekes going somwhatt uppe into the land, abounding with Fish off severall sorts and sizes. Sharckes, a greatt Many in the shallow water, very Daring, Soe thatt itt is Daungerous swymming. Good bigge oysters and store in clusters on the rockes and stones Near the shoare, and a little outt att Sea plenty off excellent Fish.
Fresh water Fish : Water Foule. A little above our watring place was a small lake which went aboutt 1 1/2 or 2 Mile uppe. Made off the same water thatt came Downe to us. This, the Fresh River afforementioned, etts. Fresh waters are allso stored with [Page 355] Fish, especially bigge Dapled Eales and Fowle, as a small Kinde off Geese, Duckes, Widgeons, Moorehennes, etts. On the rockes and stones in the said Fresh water Farre uppe From the Sea grow perriwinckles.
White Corrall. The shoare here away all bounded and Fenced with white Corrall, A plant growing in the Sea, the which wee saw under water as wee passed to and Fro with our Boate. This likely att length is broken off, beecommeth hard and is Driven on shoare with the Billowes. There are Many of these plantts soe petrefyed, having scene them both greene growing underwater, as allsoe on the ;shore converted to stoned wheroff one perffittly resembling a Mushrumpe.
3. RELATION XXIX. FROM THE ILAND OF MAURITIUS UNTO THE ILAND OF MADAGASCAR OR ST LAURENCE WHERE WEE WINTREDi VIZ, :
Wee sett saile from Mauritius. The 18th of this Month A[p]rill Anno 1638). Aboutt Noone wee sett sayle From the Hand of Mauritius.
A storme. May Day or the First of May. Sometymes Ominous. Wee had a storme of wynde allthough somwhatt [Page 359] large, with raine. There Followed in our wake sundry sea-ffowles as Pintados, Pettrells, Alcatrazes, etts. Pintados is a Fowle well knowne and Much Noted by Seamen in these partts : Found no where butt aboutt Cape Bona-esperanza allthough seene sometymes 4 or 500 leagues off of it to the Northward and Southward off itt, aboutt the biggnesse of Pidgeons.
The Fresh River. The 9th off June . Wee wentt with our skiffe to the Fresh River which was Much alltred since my last beelng here, Now Nere uppon 10 yeares since Wee wentt uppe a Foote on the sand and oaze. Some 2 or 3 Miles by the way wee saw gunny henns such as are att Molala and Johana and partridges like to those In England off which wee killed some. There were alsoe cotton shrubbes, Palmito trees and the herbe porcelane For sallett.
A village : The Manner of living of the Country people. Wee came at last to a village off the Natives, beeing a Few low hovells off Cajannes among the Palmito trees, Their Cattle aboutt them, they beeing their Mayne substance with which they remoove From place to place as wee read the Tartars Doe, there beeing land enough to raunge, allthough limitted, For itt seemes they live under petty governmentts, those under others, and those againe acknowlidge a Supreame. Off these petty Regimentts [Chiefs] our English have bin acquainted with some, as Andropela and Setunga on this side the River, and Massacore on the others How Farre their Jurisdiction extends wee know nott.
Crocodiles or Aligators. Returning homeward, wee had sightt of the biggest Aligator (or Crocodile) that as yett I ever saw, who lay on the sand, butt having espied us, gotte into the water. Wee shotte att another lesser, butt hee allsoe gotte away.
Land Crabbes. Aboutt this place were great store off those wee call land Crabbes , who have their holes uppe in the woodes a good Distance From the water side. Some off them wee tried, and Found thatt they went Downe Winding Near 4 or 5 Foote, there beeing water att the bottome. Into these they ran in and outt on the least stirring, they beeing very vigilantt.
A greatt Sharcke. Thatt evening when wee retourned aboard, where our people had caught with a hooke a Monstrous sharcke, it beeing aboutt 10 Foote in length and the biggest thatt as yett I ever saw.
The Master of the shippe Dead and buried on shoare. The 10th June . Mr Thomas Woollman, our Master, Died and was buried in a decentt Manner, with 3 volleies of Smalle shotte and 4 peeces off greatt ordnance, the even Number off greatt gunnes allwaies signiffying the Death off some principall Man or officer in the shipped The 11th [June 1638] was broughtt aboard store of lemmons (as wee call them), beeing beetweene an orenge and a lemmon, very great and good 3, though Deare ; allsoe Fish, as sundry sortts, a lobster and shellfishes alive, off great bignesse, admirable, straunge and various in Forme and collours.
Mr Thomas Robinson died : Buried. The 16th currantt [June 1638]. Died Mr Thomas Robinson, Merchantt, who had long tyme served the East India Company in places off quallity in sundry parts off India, as well to the Northward as Southward : A man much experienced in Merchandizing these waies, A good penman For his Inventions. [Page 370] The 17th [June 1638]. Hee was buried on shoare Neare unto Mr Woolman and in the same Manner, only a little addittion off some Martiall and Mournefull Ceremonies More then to the Former.
Greatt springs off Fresh water. Rightt ashoare, thwartt off our shippe, Near our tentts, From under the hill aboutt low water Marke within the Distance of 1/2 a Flight shotte, there Issues outt such aboundance of Fresh water thatt alltogether would Make a pretty River. Such a quantity in soe little space off ground as yett Never saw Nor Feltt soe Warme. Whither by any other extraordinary cause then the heat off the sunne on the hill I know nott, butt itt was Milk warme att the very Issuing places.
Off Saintt Lawrence : Temperature of the Clymate. The Iland of Saint Laurence, called in antient tyme Madagascar, is reckoned amongst the greatest Hands of the world, and by computation  miles in length and  miles wide att the broadest. Augustine bay lying right under the tropicke of Capricorne, the Climate much like to thatt att Surratt, which lyeth Near under the Tropicke off Cancer, yett contrary in the tyme, as the tropicks are opposite on either side of the Equinoctiall. For when itt is hottest in the one itt is coldest in the other. At the tyme of our beeing here, uppon the Full and Chaunge of the Moone, wee had hard wether.
winde and Rayne, the latter the More . The Ayre wholsome, as wee Found by experience among our owne people (only one caughtt a Sicknesse here and wee buried 2 others as before mentioned, butt they were on their Death beads before wee came in), as allsoe by the Natives, who were generally healthy, strong and Lusty.
Beeves. ....Bullockes or Beeves are here plenty large and good, with great bunches in generall on their shoulders, some of 12 or 14 Inches high above their backe .... and is accompted the Daynetiest part off the whole beeffe , consisting of Fine Flesh and Fatte equally interlarded, little More or lessee.
Sheepe. B. Allsoe sundry Flockes off sheepe, large smooth haired, coulloured Hke calves, with hanguing eares, Dew lappes and long and bigge tailes Nott short and round as some in Turky....
Guinny hennas. C. Guinny henns as bigge as our poultry, black all over, powdred thicke with smalle white spottes, very tender and Full Flesht, as lettre C. hereunder.
Goates. Goates, very good, Faire and sleeke, like those att Johanna and Mohilla, off farre More esteeme then sheepe. Off these wee gott butt a Few broughtt From Massacoraes country on the Farther side off the River.
Poultry. Cockes and hennes like unto those in our parts, plenty; Partridges and quailes allsoe.
Orenges and lemmons : Melons. Orenges and lemmons, or beetweene boths were broughtt us From Massacoras side, as wee terme itt. Off these wee had nott now as Many as wee would. A small Fruite No bigger then an orenge, beeing a kind off a Melon.
Pulse. Pulse off severall sorts, which wee call garavansos, like those Named French beanes in England, both greatt and smalle.
Rootes : Honny. Rootes : A bigge roote, good roasted or sodde. Honny is allsoe here to bee had.
Sundry Creatures. Divers other creatures, etts., came to our sightt, as Bugeeas, like unto Monkyes in hands and Feete, butt sharpe snowted like a Fox, sofft, Downy haired and somwhatt bushy, long tayled, which when hee sitts hee brings over all, a Dull creature having scene one att [Page 394] Suratt [Factory] house (broughtt From hence) ; a little creature nott much bigger then a Mouse, off a fierce Nature, resembhng a Kitteingi.
Cammeleons, hzards, batts, Kites, Crowes, halffe white herons, and sundry other unknowne Fowle, etts. came to sightt.
Commodities, As For Commodities, as yett I know not whatt itt may affoard, excepting Dragons bloud, a gumme off a tree sometyme broughtt unto us in lumpes ; Cotton woolle, and a shell called by them Tampimpees, worth att Suratt 2 or 3 s[hillings] a pound, as some say.
The Sea and River aboutt [sic ? abound] with excellentt Fish, Cheiffly a httle within the mouth of the said River, where with a Nett wee caughtt plenty off Mulletts, breames and some Rocke Fish, one off the latter beeing sufficient to give our whole shippes Company (aboutt 70 persons) a good Meale, with Divers others a mile or two Farther uppe ; Crocodiles which wee call Aligators, I thincke from Lagarto, the Spanish word For a lizard water Fowle Few. By prowes From the Sea were broughtts [sic] store allsoe off good Fish, wherof some For their straungenesse off Forme and Coullours, especially shellfishes....
6. RELATION XXX OUR DEPARTURE FROM THE ILAND OF MADAGASCAR OR ST LAURENCE, OUR TOUTCHING ATT THE ILAND OF ST HELENA AND ARRIVAL UNTO THE ILAND OF GREAT BRITTAINE, Viz :
The generall Windes. From St Helena [sic ? St Laurence] hitherto Not any thing worth Notice, only indifferentt [tolerable] winde and weather, butt From hence unto the end off this Month wee had a continuall Fresh and constantt gale att Southeast, itt being the generall winde or Monsoone thatt hath bin observed to blowe all the yeare long only one way in this Climate, soe thatt if wee should chaunce to overshoote Stt Helena (as sometymes it hath hapned allthough sildome), there is hard or no Fetching off itt att all againe, allthough wee mightt bee in sightt off itt, and beeing once Driven to leeward, hard recovering by plying against winde and tide ; a currantt Found allso to sett to the Westward.
Saltt. There commeth trilling downe the high Cleeves [cliffs] by the water side a certaine licor which congeales as itt runnes, as water Doth with us in Frosty weather. . For all the way it came was thicke gledred; and such places as Did overlooke hung Full off long spills like Isicles on the Eaves off a house, which in sightt and tast is only Mere salt From some salt Myne or Fountayne aloft.
Wee killed some store of hogges and goates and tooke Many little pigges alive ; off the latter there was plenty. Whatt was caughtt was brought aboard, the Dead spentt presently [used at once], butt those ahve were Fedd and preserved For Future reffreshing.
A greatt leake. To bee noted that From the [...]; off [...]unto the [...]off [...]beeing [...]Monthes [...] Dales, wee pumpt aboutt 80 strokes every glasse or halffe hower, which may bee att least 16 tonnes off water each 24 howers, itt neither much encreasing Nor Decreasing all this while, the leake lying aboutt her bowes, Not to bee come by. Yett it rather prooved beneficiall For the health off our Men then otherwise, itt beeing butt as it were a good breathing exercise Now and then For each Man to take a spell att the Pumpe (itt keeping as I said att a certaine stinte [fixed rate]) ; Neither Did they at all complaine off itt.