Means made to the King for our Liberty.All of us in this manner remained until the year MDCLXIV. At which time arrived a Letter on our behalf to the King from the Right Worshipful Sir Edward Winter, Governour of Fort St. George, and Agent there. The Dutch Embassadour also at that time by a Commission from the Governour of Columba treated with the King for us. With Sir Edward’s Message the King was much pleased, and with the Dutch’s mediation so prevailed with, that he promised he would send us away.
Upon which they all met at the City.Upon this, he commanded us all to be brought to the City. Whither when we came, we were very joyful not only upon the hopes of our Liberty, but also upon the sight of one another. For several of us had not seen the others since we were first parted. Here also we met with the Persia Merchant men, whom until this time we had not seen. So that we were nine and twenty English in all.
Word sent them from the Court, that they had their Liberty.Some few days after our Arrival at the City, we were all called to the Court. At which time standing all of us in one of the Palace Court-yards, the Nobles by command from the King came forth and told us, that it was his Majesties Pleasure to grant unto us our Liberty, and to send us home to our Countrey, and that we should not any more look upon our selves as Prisoners or detained men. At which we bowed our heads and thanked his Majesty. They told us moreover, that the King was intended to send us either with the Dutch Embassadour, or by the Boat which Sir Edward Winter had sent; and that it was his Majesties good will to grant us our choice. We humbly referred it to his Majesties pleasure. They answered, his Majesty could and would do his pleasure, but his will was to know our minds. After a short consultation we answered, since it was his Majesties pleasure to grant us our choice, with many Thanks and Obeisance we chose to go with the Dutch Embassadour, fearing the Boats insufficiency, she having, as we were well sensible, laid there a great while: and if we had chosen the Boat, the danger of going that way might have served them for a Put off to us, and a Plea to detain us still, out of care of us. And again, had we refused the Embassadours kindness at this time, for the future, if these things succeeded not with us now, we could never have expected any more aid or friendship from that Nation.
All in general refuse the King’s service.In the next place they told us, It was the Kings pleasure to let us understand, that all those that were willing to stay and serve his Majesty, should have very great rewards, as Towns, Monies, Slaves and places of Honour conferred upon them. Which all in general refused.
Then we were bidden to absent, while they returned our answers to the King. By and by there came Order to call us in one at a time, where the former promises were repeated to every one of us of great Favours, Honours and Rewards from the King to those that were willing to stay with him. And after each one had given his answer, he was sent into a corner in the Court, and then another called and so Page 138all round one after another, they inquiring particularly concerning each mans trade and office; Handycrafts-men and Trumpetters being most desired by the King. We being thus particularly examined again, there was not one of us was tempted by the Kings rewards, but all in general refused the Kings honourable employment, choosing rather to go to our Native Countrey. By which we purchased the Kings Displeasure.
Commanded still to wait at the Palace. During which a Rebellion breaks out.After this they told us, we must wait at the Palace gate dayly, it being the Kings pleasure, that we should make our personal appearance before him. In this manner we waited many days. At length happened a thing which he least suspected, viz. a general Rebellion of his People against him. Who assaulted his Palace in the Night: but their hearts failed them, daring not to enter into the Apartment where his Person was. For if they had had courage enough, they might have taken him there. For he stayed in his Palace until the Morning; and then fled into the Mountains, and escaped their hands, but more thro their cowardliness than his valour. This Rebellion I have related at large in the second Part, whither he that desires to know more of it may have recourse. Only I shall mention here a few things concerning our selves, who were gotten into the midst of these Broils and Combustions, being all of us now waiting upon the King in the City.
They are in the midst of It, and in great danger.It was a great and marvellous mercy of Almighty God to bring us safe thro these dangers, for it so happened all along that we were in the very midst. Before they gave the Assault on the Kings Palace, they were consulting to lay hands on us, fearing lest we might be prejudicial to their Business, in joyning to the help and assistance of the King against them. For tho we were but few in comparison, yet the Name of White men was somewhat dreadful to them. Whereupon at first their Counsels were to cut us off. But others among them advised that it would be better to let us alone; For that we being ignorant of their Designs, as indeed we were, and at quiet in our several Lodgings, could not be provided to hurt or indanger them. But otherwise if they should lay hands on us, it would certainly come to the Kings Ears, and Allarm him, and then all would be frustrated and overthrown. This some of their own Party have related to us since. These Counsels were not given out of any secret good will any of them bore to us (as I believe ) but proceeded from the over-ruling hand of God, who put those things into their hearts for our safety and preservation. The People of the City whence the King fled, ran away also leaving their Houses and Goods behind them. Where we found good Prey and Plunder; being permitted to Ransack the Houses of all such as were fled away with the King.
The Rebels take the English with them.The Rebels having driven away the King, and marching to the City of Cande to the Prince, carried us along with them; the Chief of their Party telling us that we should now be of good cheer; for what they had done upon very good advisement they had done, the Kings ill Government having given an occasion to it. Who went about to destroy both them & their Countrey; and particularly insisted upon such things as might be most plausible to Strangers, such as, keeping Embassadours, discouraging Trade, detaining of Forainers that come upon his Land, besides his cruelties towards themselves that were his natural People. All which Page 139they told us, They had been informed was contrary to the Government of other Countries; and now so soon as their business was settled, they assured us, They would detain none that were minded to go to their own Countreys.
They design to ingage the English with them.Being now at Cande, on Christmas-Day of all the days in the year, they sent, to call us to the Court, and gave us some Money and Cloths first, to make us the more willing to take Arms, which they intended then to deliver unto us, and to go with them upon a Design to fall upon the old King in the place whither he was fled. But in the very interim of time, God being merciful unto us, the Prince with his Aunt fled. Which so amazed and discouraged them, that the Money and Cloths which they were distributing to us and other Strangers to gain us over to them, they scattered about the Court and fled themselves. And now followed nothing but cutting one anothers Throats to make themselves appear the more Loyal Subjects, and make amends for their former Rebellion.
They resolve neither to meddle or make.We for our parts little thinking in what danger we were, fell in to scramble among the rest to get what we could of the Monies that were strewed about, being then in great necessity and want. For the allowance which formerly we had was in this Disturbance lost, and so we remained without it for some three Months, the want of which, this Money did help to supply. Having gotten what we could at the Court, we made way to get out of the hurly burly to our Lodgings; intending as we were Strangers and Prisoners, neither to meddle nor make on the one side or the other, being well satisfied, if God would but permit us quietly to sit, and eat such a Christmas Dinner together, as he had prepared for us.
The day being turned, they fear the King.For our parts we had no other dealings with the Rebels, than to desire them to permit us to go to our Native Countrey, which Liberty they promised we should not want long. But being sent for by them to the Court, we durst not but go, and they giving us such things as we wanted, we could not refuse to take them. But the day being turned put us into great fear, doubting how the King would take it at our hands, from whom we knew this could not be hid.
But he justifies them.Into our Houses we got safely. But no sooner were we there, but immediately we were called again by a great Man, who had drawn out his Men, and stood in the Field. This Man we thought had been one of the Rebels, who to secure himself upon this change, had intended to run away down to Columbo to the Dutch. Which made us repair to him the more cheerfully, leaving our Meat a roasting on the Spit. But it proved otherwise. For no sooner had he gotten us unto him, but he Proclaimed himself for the old King, and forthwith he and his Company taking us with him marched away to Fight or seize the Rebels, but meeting none went into the City, and there dismissed us, saying, He would acquaint the King, how willing and ready we were to fight for him, if need had required; altho, God knows, it was the least of our thoughts and intents, yet God brought it to pass for our good. For when the King was informed of what we had received of the Rebels, this piece of good Service that we had done, or rather supposed to have done, was also told unto him. At the hearing of which himself justified us to be innocent; saying, Since my absence, who was there that would give them Victuals? And, It was mere Page 140want that made them to take what they did. Thus the Words of the King’s own mouth acquitted us. And when the Sword devoured on every side, yet by the Providence of God not one hair of our heads perished.
They are driven to beg in the Highways.The Tumults being appeased, and the Rebellion vanished, the King was settled in his Throne again. And all this happened in five days time. We were now greatly necessitated for food, and wanted some fresh Orders from the King’s mouth for our future subsistence. So that having no other remedy, we were fain to go and lay in the High way that leads to the City a begging; for the People would not let us go any nearer towards the King, as we would have done. There therefore we lay, that the King might come to the knowledge of us, and give Command for our allowance again. By which means we obtained our purpose. For having laid there some two Months, the King was pleased to appoint our Quarters in the Countrey as formerly, not mentioning a word of sending us away, as he had made us believe before the Rebellion.
Sent into new quarters there, and their Pensions settled again.Now we were all sent away indeed, but not into our own Countrey, but into new Quarters. Which being God would have to be no better we were glad it was so well, being sore a weary of laying in this manner. For some three Months time we had no manner of allowance. We were all now placed one in a Town as formerly, together with the Persia Merchant men also, who hitherto had lived in the City of Cande, and had their Provisions brought them out of the King’s Palace ready dressed. These were now sent away with us into the Countrey. And as strict a charge was given for our good entertainment as before.
Fall to Trading, and have more freedom.We were thus dispersed about the Towns here one and there another, for the more convenient receiving our allowance, and for the greater case of the People. And now we were far better to pass than heretofore, having the Language, and being acquainted with the Manners and Customs of the People, and had the same proportion of Victuals, and the like respect as formerly. And now they fall into employments as they please, either Husbandry or Merchandizing, or knitting Caps, being altogether free to do what they will themselves, and to go where they will, excepting running away: and for that end, we are not permitted to go down to the Sea, but we may travel all about the Countrey, and no man regards us. For tho the People some of the first years of our Captivity, would scarcely let us go any whither, and had an eye upon us afterwards, yet in process of time all their Suspitions of our going away wore off; especially when several of the English had built them Houses, and others had taken them Wives, by whom they had Children, to the number of eighteen living when I came away.
Having said all this in general of the English People there, I will now continue a further account of my self.[Top]