There are three things, that ingenious men may possibly be inquisitive after, which have not yet been professedly handled, their Laws, their Language, and their Learning.
Their Laws.Concerning the first, here are no Laws, but the Will of the King, and whatsoever proceeds out of his mouth is an immutable Law. Nevertheless they have certain antient usages and Customes that do prevail and are observed as Laws; and Pleading them in their Courts and before their Governors will go a great way.
Lands descend.To hint some of them, their Lands are hereditary, and do descend from Parents to their Children. But the eldest son by Priviledg of Birth-right does not possess and enjoy all the Land, but if the Father please he can divide it among his Children. Yet in case the eldest son does enjoy the Land, then without dispute he is to maintain his Mother and her Children until they come to years or ability to provide for themselves.
In case Corn receives dammage by a Neighbours Cattle.They have a custom in the Land Ouvah, which is a great breeder of Cattle, and hath but very little Wood, so that they have not where with to make hedges; It is that when they sow their Lands, they drive their Cattle thence, and watch them all day that they break not into the Corn; and at night they tie their Cattle to secure them from straying into the Corn-Lands: otherwise if one Neighbours Cattle eats another neighbours Corn, he must pay the dammage.
Those that are lazy and loath to Plow, or that are Poor and want Corn to sow, the Custom is, to let out their ground to others to Till at Ande, that is at halves; but fees and accustomable dues taken, out by the Husbandman that tills it, the Owner of the Land receives not much above a third part.
The loss of leting out land to Till.For the Husbandman hath divers considerable payments besides his half share of the Corn. As namely, first he hath Cotoumaun, that is, so much Corn as they scratch off from the whole heap of trodden Corn by drawing a bundle of Thorns over it. Secondly, Waracool, that is a consideration for the expences they are at in Tilling and Sowing; for which there is a Rate according to the bigness of the field. Thirdly, Warrapoll, that is the Corn they leave at the bottom of the heap after they have done fanning. Which is the Womans fee for their pains in weeding the Corn, and in pulling it it up where it is too thick, and planting it where it is thin, &c. Fourthly, Bolerud which is the Chaff and sweepings of the Pit. This sometimes comes to a considerable value according to the quantity of Corn that is trodden. Fifthly, Peldorah, which is a piece of Corn they leave standing before the watch house, which is set up in their Corn grounds to watch their Corn from the wild beasts. And this left standing is the fee for watching. There is yet another due Ockyaul which belongs to their Gods, and is an offering sometimes carried away by the Priest; and sometimes they bestow it upon the beggar, and sometimes they will take it and hang it up in their houses, and at convenient time sacrifice it Page 102themselves. It is one of their measures, which is about half a Peck.
The great consideration for Corn borrowed.And in the mean time until this Corn is ripe, the Owner is fain to go a borrowing Corn to sustain himself and Family. Which he pays consideration for; which is, when his own Corn is ripe, a bushel and an half for a bushel that is, at the rate of Fifty per Cent. Which manner of lending Corn is a means that doth maintain many strangers and others. For they who have got a small stock of Corn by that Profit may competently live upon it. Which was the means that Almighty God prepared for my relief and maintenance.
Corn thus lent is somewhat difficult to receive again. For the Debtor being Poor, all the Creditors will come into the field, when the Corn is a shareing, that being the place of payment: and as soon as it is divided each one will scramble to get what he can. And having taken possession of it, from thence the Creditor must carry it home himself, be it far or near.
The debt becomes double in two years.If the Debt remains in the Debtors hands two years, it becomes doubled: and from thence forward be it never so long, no more use is to be paid by the Law of the Land, which Act was established by the King in favour of the Poor, there having been some whole Families made Slaves for a bushel of Corn.
If the debtor pay not his debt he is lyable to be a slave for it.But yet it is lawful for the Creditor, missing Corn, to lay hands on any of his goods: or if the sum be somewhat considerable, on his Cattle or Children, first taking out a License from the Magistrate so to do, or if he have none, on himself or his wife, if she came with him to fetch the debt, if not, she is clear from this violence; but his Children are not.
Divers other Laws and Customes.If a woman goes away from her Husband without his consent, no Man may marry her, until he first be married. In lending of mony by the use of it in one years time, it becomes double. And if the Creditor receive not his mony at the expiration of the year, but lets it lie in the Debtors hands never so long after, no more than double is to be paid, the encrease never runs up higher as it is in lending Corn. If a Bond-woman has Children by a Free-man, the Children all are Slaves to her Master: but if a Bond-man has Children by a Free-woman, the Children are free: For the Children are always as the Mother, whether Bond or Free. No man may cut down a Coker-nut-Tree. If any man to a bargain or promise gives a stone in the Kings name, it is as firm as hand and seal. And if any after this go back of his word, it will bear an Action. If any man be taken stealing, he must restore seven for one, or else be made a Slave, if he be not able to pay it.
It is lawful and customary for a man in necessity to sell or pawn his Children, or himself. No man building an house either in his own or another mans ground, if he be afterwards minded to leave his Land, where his house stood, may pull it down again: But must let it stand for the benefit of whosoever comes after him.
For deciding controversies.For the deciding of matters in controversie especially of more abstruse cognizance, the parties do both swear before their Gods, sometimes in their Temples, and sometimes upon more extraordinary occasions in hot Oyl. Page 103
Swearing in the Temples.Sometimes in their Temples. To explain which, take this following relation. A Slave was accused by a Merchant to have robbed his house. Whereupon to clear himself, the Slave desired he might swear. So the Merchant and Slave went both to the Temple to swear. The Merchant swore positively that the Slave had robbed his house; and the Slave swore as poynt blank that he had not robbed his house: and neither of them having any witnesses, God who knew all things was desired to shew a Judgment upon him that was forsworn. They both departed to their houses, waiting to see upon whom the Judgment would fall. In the mean time the Slave privatly sets the Merchants house on fire, and his house was burnt down to the ground. Then it was clear by this supposed divine Judgment, the Merchant was forsworn. The Slave presently demands satisfaction for laying Theft falsly to his charge. The Merchant could not tell what to say to it, but would give him none. The Slave was now to take his own satisfaction, as he had opportunity. And his Master bids him seize upon the Merchants Person or any other relating to him, and bring them to his house, and there detain them. Within a short time after, the Slave seeing a Kinsman of the Merchants passing by, offers to seize him. But he, rather than be taken, draws his Knife and Stabs the Slave on the shoulder, and so escapes. In Fine, the Merchant was fain to bribe the Great Men to save himself from further dammage, and sit down contented with the loss of his goods and house. Though the Slave was a person of a very bad reputation, and had done divers Thefts; and some of his stolen goods he hath brought to me to sell.
The manner of swearing in hot Oyl.Sometimes they do decide their debates by swearing in hot Oyl. Which because it is remarkable, I will relate at large. They are permitted thus to swear in matters of great importance only, as when Law Suits happen about their Lands, or when their is no witness. When they are to swear, each party hath a Licence from the Governor for it, written with his hand to it. Then they go and wash their heads and bodies, which is a religious ceremony. And that night they are both confined Prisoners in an house with a guard upon them, and a cloth tyed over each of their right hands and sealed, least they might use any charm to harden their fingers.
The next morning they are brought out; they then put on clean cloths, and purifie themselves, reckoning they come into the presence of God. Then they tie to their wrists the Leaf wherein the Governors Licence is, and repair under some Bogahah, God-Tree, and all the Officers of the County assemble with a vast number of people besides. Coker-nuts are brought, and Oyl is there extracted from them in the sight of the people, that all may see their is no deceit. Also they have a Pan of Cow-dung and water boyling close by: The Oyl and Cow-dung being both boyling and throughly hot, they take a young leaf of a Coker-nut Tree and dip that into the Oyl, that all may see it is hot. For it singes, and frizzels up, and roars as if you poured water into hot boyling Oyl. And so they do likewise to the Cow-dung. When all are satisfied the Oyl is hot, the two men come and stand on each side of this boyling Oyl; and say, The God of Heaven and Earth is witness, that I did not do this that I am accused of; Or, The four sorts of Gods be witness, That this Land in controversie is Page 104mine. And then the other swears quite contrary. But first the Accuser alwayes swears. The Accused also relates his own innocence, or his own Right and Title. The cloths that their hands were bound up in are taken off. And immediatly upon using the former words, he dips his two fingers into the hot Oyl, flinging it out three times. And then goes to the boyling Cow-dung, and does the same. And so does the other. Then they tie up their hands again with the cloth, and keep both of them Prisoners till the next day. When their hands are looked upon, and their fingers-ends rubbed with a cloth, to see if the skin come off. And from whose fingers the skin comes, he is forsworn. The Penalty of which is a great forfeiture to the King and great satisfaction to the Adversary.
I am able to testifie, that the fingers of some of these that have thus sworn have been whole from any scald after this use of hot Oyl: but whether it be their innocence or their Art, that it thus comes to pass, I know not. The penalty of the breach of the Laws or Customes of this Land is at the pleasure of the Judg, either amercement, or imprisonment, or both.
How they exact Fines.For the taking of Fines from men, on whom they are laid, this is their Custom. The Officers, wheresoever they meet the man, stop him in the place. Where they take away his Sword and Knife; and make him pull off his Cap and Doublet; and there he sits with his Keepers by him, till he pays the Fine. And if he delays paying it, they clap a great Stone upon his back; in which condition he must remain till he pays it. And if he doth not pay, they load him with more Stones, until his compliance prevent further pains. Another way they have to exact the payment of the Fines laid upon them. They take some sprigs of Thorns, and draw them between the mans naked Legs till he pays. But if he remain obstinate they clap him up in chains.
The manner of Extorting their Fine.
They have an odd usage among them to recover their debts. Which is this. They will sometimes go to the house of their debtor with the leaves of Neiingala a certain Plant, which is rank Poyson, and threaten him, that they will eat that Poyson and destroy themselves, unless he will pay him what he ows. The debtor is much afraid of this, and rather than the other should Poyson himself, will sometimes sell a Child to pay the debt: Not that the one is tender of the life of the other, but out of care of himself. For if the party dyes of the Poyson, the other for whose sake the man Poysoned himself must pay a ransome for his life. By this means also they will sometimes threaten to revenge themselves of those with whom they have any contest, and do it too. And upon the same intent they will also jump down some steep place or hang or make away with themselves; that so they might bring their Adversary to great dammage.
Of their Language.To speak now a little of their Language. It is a language peculiar to that Island: and I know not any Indian Nations that speak it but themselves. There are a few words that are common to the Chingulays and the Malabars, which they might borrow of one another, by Intercourse and Commerce, but the words are to few, that a Malabar cannot understand a Chingulay, nor on the contrary.
Their language is Copious Smooth, Elegant, Courtly; according as the People that speak it are. Who are full of words, Titles and Page 105Complements. They have no less than twelve or more Titles that they use when they speak to Women according to their ranks and qualities.
Titles to women according to their qualities.
|Puddeci.||A word for a woman of the lowest condition.|
|Kiddekel.||A term of more respect, given to a young wench.|
|Nanda.||A term for an inferior woman something in years signifies also Ant.|
|Nandadga.||A little higher yet, of the like years.|
|Nauchere.||A Title may be given to an ordinary woman, still, but yet higher.|
|Lamhaumi.||A Title higher than any yet.|
|Lam-Ettani.||Of more respect.|
|Ettanihaumi.||Higher than that.|
|Maugi.||Proper only to an old woman but of good quality.|
|Maugiwanxi.||Better then the Maugi.|
|Comaurehaumi.||A Title due to the greatest Ladies.|
|Hondreunié.||Given to the Queen or the King.|
So that it is hard to speak to a woman without they know what she is before, least they might mistake her Title. And the women are much pleased with some of the better Titles.
Titles given to men.The men also have various Titles, tho not so many as the women. People give to them these Titles according to the business they have with them. If they come for some favour or kindness to be done them, they bestow the better sort of Titles upon them.
They have seven or eight words for Thou, or You, which they apply to persons according to their quality, or according as they would honour them. And they are so, Topi, Umba, Umbela, Tomnai, Tomsi, Tomsela, Tomnanxi. All these words are gradually one higher than the other.
No difference between a Country man and a Courtier for Language.Their ordinary Plow men and Husbandmen do speak elegantly, and are full of complement. And there is no difference between the ability and speech of a Country-man and a Courtier. When any hath a favour to beg of a Noble-man, or any business with him, they do not abruptly speak their desires or errand at first, but bring it in with a long harangue of his worth or good disposition or abilities; Their speech and manner of Addresses is Courtly and becoming.and this in very handsom and taking stile. They bring up their Children to speak after this manner, and use them to go with errands to great men; and they are able to tell their tale very well also.
In their speech the people are bold without sheepish shame facedness, and yet no more confidence than is becoming.
Their Language in their address to the King.The King they call by a name, that signifies somewhat higher than a man, and next to God. But before the Wars they stiled him Dionanxi, which is a Title higher than God by the addition of Nanxi. This Title the King took before the Rebellion, but since he forbad it. When they speak to the King concerning themselves, they do not speak in the first person, and say I did so or so, but Baulagot the limb of a Dog did it or will do it. And when they speak of their Children unto the King, they call them Puppies. As if he ask them how many Children they have, they say so many Puppy dogs, and so many Puppy-bitches. Page 106By which by the way, we may conjecture at the height of the King and the slavery of the People under him.
Words of Form and Civility.They have certain words of Form and Civility, that they use upon occasion. When they come to another mans house, he asks them what they come for, which is his civility, and they answer Nicamava, I come for nothing, which is their ordinary reply, tho they do come for something. And upon this they have a Fable.
A God came down upon earth one day, and bad all his Creatures come before him and demand what they would have and it should be granted them. So all the beasts and other Creatures came, and one desired Strength, and another Legs, and another Wings, &c. And it was bestowed on them. Then came the White men, the God asked them, what they came for? And they said, they desired Beauty and Valour and Riches. It was granted them. At last came the Chingulays, the God required of them, what they came for. They answered, Nicamava, I come for nothing. Then replyed he again, do you come for nothing, then go away with nothing. And so they for their complement fared worse than all the rest.
When one proffers something as a gift to another, altho it be a thing that he is willing to have, and would be glad to receive, yet he will say, E eppa queinda, No, I thank you; how can I be so chargeable to you? And in the same time while the words are in his mouth, he reacheth forth his hand to receive it.
Full of words and complement.Neither are they free or forward to requite them, from whom they have received a gift or good turn, otherwise than with words and windy protestations; the which shall not be wanting. But forwards they are to receive, yet very backward to part with any thing. And if one neighbour asketh ought of another, or to borrow any thing, which the other is unwilling either to give or lend, they never will plainly deny by saying, I cannot or will not; but with dissembling they will excuse themselves, saying, They have it not, or is it lent abroad already, altho it be with them in the house at the same time.
By whom they swear.Their usual manner of swearing in protestations, is by their Mother, or by their Children, or by their two Eyes, oftner than by their Gods. But their protestations be they never so deep, and seem they never so serious, they are not to be regarded, as proceeding more from custom than truth.
Their RailerySome of their words of Reproach, or Railery are such as these. One brother will say to another, and that in presence of their Mother, Tomotowoy, go lye with your Mother, the other replyes go you and lye with your Mother. And the Mother will say to the Daughter, Jopi oppota audewind, go lye with your Father; intimating she is good for nothing. They will commend their Children, when they can use their tongues in their own defence by scolding and say, Hoerri, oppana, Well said, valiantly spoken. They will say also in reproach, Creep between my legs, cut your Nose off. If you have five hundred lives, you shall be damned. The worst railery they can give a woman is to tell her, she has laid with ten sorts of inferior ranks of People, which they will rather dye than do. If any thing be stole out of their grounds or Plantations fruit or the like, they will cry out aloud, This was done by some low-cast begotten Rogue, or She was a whore to some inferior rank who dressed it; and this Language they will continue for half an Page 107hour together, tho they know not who hath done it. The worst word they use to Whites and Christians, is to call them Beaf-eating Slaves.
I shall conclude this Discourse of their Language, by giving you a tast of their Proverbs, some hints of the strain of their Speech.
Proverbs.Miris dilah, ingurah gotta. I have given Pepper, and got Ginger. Spoken when a man makes a bad exchange. And they use it in reference to the Dutch succeeding the Portugueze in their Island.
Datta horrala Badda perind. Pick your Teeth to fill your Belly. Spoken of stingy niggardly People.
Caula yonawa ruah atti. To eat before you go forth is handsom and convenient. Which they therefore ever do.
Kiallah tiannah, Degery illand avah oppala hanguand mordy, As the saying is, if I come to beg Butter-milk, why should I hide my Pan. Which is ordinarily spoken to introduce the business that one man comes to speak to the other about.
Hingonna wellendam cor cottonwat geah par wardenda netta. A Begger and a Trader cannot be lost. Because they are never out of their way.
Atting mitting delah hottarah harracurnowah. To lend to another makes him become an Enemy. For he will hate you if you ask him for it again.
Annuna min yain ecka ourowaying younda eppa. Go not with a Slave in one Boat. It signifies, to have no dealing or correspondence with any ones Slave. For if any dammage should happen, it would fall upon your head, and by their Law you must make it good.
Issara otting bollanowa pos cotting. First look in the hand, afterwards open the mouth. Spoken of a Judge, who first must have a Bribe before he will pronounce on their side.
Take a Ploughman from the Plough, and wash off his dirt, and he is fit to rule a Kingdom. Spoken of the People of Conde Uda, where there are such eminent Persons of the Hondrew rank; and because of the Civility, Understanding, and Gravity of the poorest Men among them.
No body can reproach the King and the Beggar. Because the former is above the slander of the People, and nothing can be said bad enough of the latter:
Like Noia and Polonga. Denoting Irreconcileable Enemies. The story of which two Serpents hath been related before.
He that hath Money to give to his Judge, needs not fear, be his Cause right or wrong. Because of the corruption of the great Men, and their greediness of Bribes.
If our Gerehah, fortune be bad, what can God do against it? Reckoning that none of their Gods have Power to reverse the fate of an ill Planet.
The Ague is nothing, but the Head-ach is all. That Countrey is very subject to Agues, which do especially afflict their heads who have them. I might multiply many more of their Proverbial sayings, but let these suffice.
I cannot pretend to give an account, of the Grammar of this Tongue; I shall only give a few instances of their words, and leave it to the Page 108Learned to make their Conjectures. First, I will give you some of their Nouns Plural.
Something of their Grammer.
|Polaha,||A young Jack||Polas,||Jacks.|
But usually when they have occasion to speak of many they express themselves by Numerals set after the Noun; as Dissawva two, three, &c. An Egg, Bittera, Eggs, Bittera cattei, word for word, Egg many.
Their Verbs they form after this manner:
|Mam conna,||I eat.|
|Mam conyum,||I will eat.|
|Mam cava,||I have eat.|
|Caupoudi,||Let him eat.|
|Caum,||Let us eat.|
|Mam denyam,||I will give.|
|Mam Doun na,||I gave.|
|Dila,||I have given.|
|Dendi,||Shall I give?|
|Dem,||Let us give.|
|Douna, or Dila tiana,||Given.|
|Mam yonyam,||I’le go.|
|Mam yonda oni,||I will go.|
|Yong,||Let us go.|
|Yonda dipadi,||Let him go.|
|Pollatch,||Gone, spoken of an ordinary person.|
|Pollad-da,||Gone, spoken of a person of great quality.|
|Mam oy,||I am,|
|Eai,||He, or They or He is.|
|Mam gia atti,||I have been. [Atti] signifieth [have]|
|Gia dendi.||Let him, or give him leave to go.|
A Specimen of their words.
|Oppuland,||To wash cloths.|
|Naund,||To wash the body.|
|Coraund,||To do. (done.|
|Corowaund,||To cause to be Page 109|
|Gauman corowaund,||To send, word for word, to cause to do a journey.|
|Heuwoya,||All words Signifying Common Soldiers, only they are titles one above another, and the two last are as much to say Gentlemen Soldiers.|
|Heuwoy com-coraund,,||To fight as much as as to say, To act the Soldier.|
|Mienyum,||I will dye.|
|Negantind Eppa,||Do not rise.|
|Touncheroutwitch,||It is finished.|
|Na & Natti,||No, or not.|
I shall only make one Observation from these words, and that is concerning the four first. It is this, that they have no words of their own Language for God and Heaven, but in all probability borrowed them from the Portugueze. But for the two next, The Devil and Hell, words of their own. They number thus,
|Dauha ot hoi||XVIII.|