The Government of this Island.Hitherto I have treated of the Countrey, with the Provisions and Wealth of it: Our next Discourses shall be of the Political Government there exercised. And here Order will lead us to speak first of the King and Matters relating to him.
Antiently this Countrey consisted of Nine Kingdoms, all which had their several Kings; but now by the vicissitude of Times and Things, they are all reduced under one King, who is an absolute Tyrant, and Rules the most arbitrarily of any King in the World. We will first speak of him as to his Personal Capacity, and next as to his Political.
In his Personal Capacity, are to be considered his Birth and Parentage, his Person, his Relations, his State, his Manners, his Pleasures and Recreations, his Religion.
The King’s Lineage.Raja-Singa is his Name, which signifies a Lyon-King. He is not of the right Descent of the Royal-Blood. For the former King deceased leaving his Queen a Widow, and two young Princes, which he had issue by her. She was a Christian, having been baptized by the Portuguez, and named Dona Catharina. She afterwards married to the Chief Priest, whom in their Language they call Tirinanxy. And by him had this Son, the present King. The Tirinanx his Father reigned and ruled the Land during the minority of the young Princes: but being aged, he divided the Countrey between the three Princes by Lot, intending Conde Uda, which is the best part of the Land, for his own Son, Raja-Singa. Which was obtained by this device. The names of the three Kingdoms being written on three Papers, were put into a Pot, and one was appointed, who knew the matter to take them out, and deliver them one to each, beginning with the Eldest, craftily delivering that which had Conde Uda written in it unto Raja-Singa; and so it came to pass according to the old Kings determination. All these three in the beginning of their Reigns joyned together against the Portuguez, but soon after fell out among themselves, and this King in the end prevailed, and got all the Countrey. Danna Polla Rodgerah the youngest, King of Mautoly, being overthrown, fled down to the Portuguez to Columba, who sent him to Goa, where he dyed. The other named Comaure-Singa, King of Owvah, dyed in Cande.
His Person, Meen and Habit.As to the Person of the present King. He is not tall, but very well set, nor of the clearest colour of their complexion, but somewhat of the blackest; great rowling Eyes, turning them and looking every way, alwayes moving them: a brisk bold look, a great swelling Belly, and very lively in his actions and behaviour, somewhat bald, not having much hair upon his head, and that gray, a large comely Beard, with great Whiskers; in conclusion, a very comely man. He bears Page 34his years well, being between Seventy and Eighty years of age; and tho an Old man, yet appears not to be like one, neither in countenance nor action. His Apparel is very strange and wonderful, not after his own Countrey-fashion, or any other, being made after his own invention. On his head he wears a Cap with four corners like a Jesuits three teer high, and a Feather standing upright before, like that in the head of a fore-horse in a Team, a long band hanging down his back after the Portuguez fashion, his Doublet after so strange a shape, that I cannot well describe it, the body of one, and the sleeves of another colour; He wears long Breeches to his Anckles, Shoes and Stockings. He doth not always keep to one fashion, but changes as his fancy leads him: but always when he comes abroad, his Sword hangs by his side in a belt over his shoulder: which no Chingulays dare wear, only white men may: a Gold Hilt, and Scabberd most of beaten Gold. Commonly he holdeth in his hand a small Cane, painted of divers colours, and towards the lower end set round about with such stones, as he hath, and pleaseth, with a head of Gold.
His Queen, and Children.His right and lawful Queen, who was a Malabar, brought from the Coast, is still living, but hath not been with him, as is known, this Twenty years, remaining in the City of Cande, where he left her; She wants indeed neither maintenance nor attendance, but never comes out of the Palace. Several Noble-mens Daughters hold Land for this Service, viz. to come to her Court in their turns to wait upon her Majesty. She bare him a Prince, but what became of him, shall hereafter be shewn. He had also a Daughter by Her, she came also in her Youth to a piteous and unfortunate death, as I shall relate in its place.
His Palace, Situation and Description of it.He keeps his Court at Digligy nour, whither he fled in a Rebellion against him. His Palace stands adjoyning to a great Hill, which was before mentioned; near unto that part of the Hill next abutting upon his Court none dares presume to set his foot: that being for his safeguard to fly unto in time of need. The Palace is walled about with a Clay Wall, and Thatched, to prevent the Claye’s being melted by the Rains, which are great and violent: Within this Wall it is all full of houses; most of which are low and thatched; but some are two Stories high, and tyled very handsomely, with open Galleries for Air, rayled about with turned Banisters, one Ebony, and one painted, but not much Prospect, standing between two Hills. And indeed the King lives there not so much for pleasure as security. The Palace it self hath many large and stately Gates two leaved; these Gates, with their Posts excellently carved; the Iron work thereunto belonging, as Bolts and Locks, all rarely engraven. The Windows inlayd with Silver Plates and Ebony. On the top of the houses of his Palace and Treasury, stand Earthen Pots at each corner; which are for ornament; or which is a newer fashion, something made of Earth resembling Flowers and Branches. And no Houses besides, except Temples, may have these placed upon them. The contrivance of his Palace is, as I may say, like Woodstock Bower, with many turnings and windings, and doors, he himself having ordered and contrived all these Buildings, and the manner of them. At all the Doors and Passages stand Watches: and they who thus give attendance are not to pass without special Order from one place to another, but are to remain in that place or at that Gate, where Page 35the King hath appointed them. By means of these contrivances it is not easie to know in what part or place his Person is, neither doth he care they should.
Strong Guards about his Court.He has strong Watches night and day about his Court. And they are his Grandees, who themselves in person watch in certain places, where the King himself appoints them: and they dare not be absent from thence, without it be to go to eat, or upon such like occasions. At Night they all have their set places within the Court, where they cannot one come to the speech of the other, neither dare they that are near together, or in fight one of the other, so much as come and sit together and talk, to pass away the Nights. All these great men have Souldiers under them, and they are also to come by turns to watch the Court. But at Night as their Masters and Commanders watch within the Walls, so they must watch without, in outward Courts and Guards; neither dare any of them be seen within with their Commanders. At the end of every Watch there are a multitude of Trumpets and Drums to make a noise; which is to keep his People waking, and for the honour of his Majesty. There are also Elephants, which are appointed all night to stand and watch, lest there should be any Tumult; which if there should, could presently trample down a multitude.
Next his own Person Negro’s watch.He hath also a Guard of Cofferies or Negro’s, in whom he imposeth more confidence, then in his own People. These are to watch at his Chamber door, and next his Person.
Spies sent out a Nights.At uncertain times he will send out a Spy by Night, to see what Watch is kept. Who once finding one of the Great Men asleep, took his Cap, his Sword and other Arms, and brought them to the King; who afterwards restored them to the Owner again, reproving him, and bidding him take more heed for the future. These Spyes also are to hear and see what passes: neither is there any thing said or done but he has notice of it. Formerly he used in the Nights to disguise himself and walk abroad in the Streets to see all passages, but now he will not adventure so to do.
His attendants.Most of his Attendants are Boyes, and Young Men, that are well favoured, and of good Parentage. For the supplying himself with these, he gives order to his Dissava’s or Governors of the Countreys to pick and choose out Boyes, that are comely and of good Descent, and send them to the Court. These Boyes go bare-headed with long hair hanging down their backs. Not that he is guilty of Sodomy nor did I ever hear the Sin so much as mentioned among them.
Handsom women belong to his Kitchin.He hath many Women belonging to his Kitchin, choosing to have his Meat dressed by them. Several times he hath sent into the Countreys a Command to gather handsome young Women of the Chingulayes to recruit his Kitchin, with no exceptions whether married or unmarried and those that are chosen for that Service never return back again. Once since my being on the Land, all the Portuguez Women that were young and white were sent for to the Court, no matter whether Maids or Wives; where some remained until now, and some that were not amiable in his sight were sent home; and some having purchased his displeasure were cast into a River, which is his manner of executing Women. And some sent Prisoners in the Countrey, none being admitted to speech or fight of them. Page 36
His Women, and the Priviledg of the Towns where they live.Concubines he keepeth not many. Some are within his Palace. And those whose Office is about his Kitchin are reported to be so, which is not improbable, seeing he admits none but them that are young and very handsom to the imployment. Other of his women dwell in Towns near to the City. Into which no Stranger is permitted to go, nay it is dangerous to approach near. These Towns have this Priviledg, that if any Slave flee from his Master and come hither, he is safe and free from his Masters service, but still remains a Slave there to them.
His State when he walks in his Palace; or goes abroad.Sometimes he walketh about his Palace, where there are certain Pedestalls of Stone, whitened with Lime and laid in Oyl, so that they look purely white, made and set up in divers places, here he stands when he comes forth, that he might be above the rest of the People, and see about him. But when he is minded to go abroad, though it be never so little a way, and he seldom or never goes far, Order is given some time before, for all Soldiers of his Guards which are a great many, it may be Thousands, together with a Dutch and Portugal Captain with their Flags and Soldiers, Drummers, Trumpeters, Fifers, Singers, and all belonging, as Elephants, Horses, Falkeners with their Faulkons and many others, to stand at the Gate in a readiness to attend his pleasure. And tho he means not to come forth, yet they must wait in this manner, until he give order, that they may depart to their houses. Commonly all this assembly are gathered together at the Palace three or four times before he comes out once. And oftentimes he comes out when none there are aware of it, with only those that attend on his person within his Palace. And then when it is heard, that his Majesty is come forth, they all run ready to break their necks, and place themselves at a distance to Guard his Person and wait his pleasure. Sometimes, but very seldom, He comes forth riding upon an Horse or Elephant. But usually he is brought out in a Pallenkine; which is nothing so well made as in other parts of India. The ends of the Bambou it is carried by, are largely tipped with Silver, and curiously wrought and engraven: for he hath very good workmen of that profession.
The place where he goeth when he comes thus abroad, is to a Bankqueting-house built by a Pond side, which he has made. It is not above a Musquet shot from his Palace. Where he goeth for his diversion. Which I shall by and by more particularly relate.
His reception of Embassadors.Another instance of his State and Grandure will appear in his reception of Ambassadors. Who are received with great honour and show. First he sends several of his great men to meet them with great Trains of Soldiers, the ways all cut broad, and the grass pared away for many miles: Drums and Trumpets, and Pipes, and Flags going before them, Victuals and all sorts of varieties are daily brought to them, and continue to be so all the time they are in the Land, and all at free-cost. For the Custom here is, Embassadors, stay they never so long, are maintained at the Kings Cost and Charges. And being in the City, have their Victuals brought them out from the Kings Palace, ready Page 37dressed. Presents, Goods or whatsoever they please to bring with them, the King prepareth men to carry. And when they are come to the House that is prepared for them, which is hung top and sides with white Callico, they are kept under a Guard, and great Commanders with Soldiers appointed to watch at their Gates, which is accounted for a great honour. But these Guards dare not permit any to come to the Speech of them, for the King careth not that any should talk with Ambassadors, but himself, with whom he taketh His delight in them.great delight to have conference, and to see them brought before him in fine Apparrel, their Swords by their sides with great State and Honour, and that the Ambassadors may see and take notice of the greatness of his Majesty. And after they have been there some times, he gives them both Men and handsom young Maids for their Servants, to attend and also to accompany them: often causing them to be brought into his presence to see his Sports and Pastimes, and not caring to send them away; but in a very familiar manner entertaining discourse with them.[Top]