Course of the Indian Trade before the Discovery of the Route by the Cape of Good Hope, with some account of the settlement of the Arabs on the East Coast of Africa.
Before the Discovery of the Route to India by the Cape of Good Hope, formerly related in PART II. CHAPTER VI. the spices and other productions of India were brought to Europe with vast trouble and at great expence, so that they were necessarily sold at very high prices. The cloves of the Moluccas, the nutmegs and mace of Banda, the sandal-wood of Timor, the camphor of Borneo, the gold and silver of Luconia, with all the other and various rich commodities, spices, gums, perfumes, and curiosities of China, Japan, Siam, and other kingdoms of the continent and islands of India, were carried to the great mart of Malacca, a city in the peninsula of that name, which is supposed to have been the Aurea Chersonesus of the ancients. From that place the inhabitants of the more western countries between Malacca and the Red Sea procured all these commodities, dealing by way of barter, no money being used in this trade, as silver and gold were in much less request in these eastern parts of India than foreign commodities. By this trade, Calicut, Cambaya, Ormuz, Aden, and other cities were much enriched. The merchants of these cities, besides what they procured at Malacca as before mentioned, brought rubies from Pegu, rich stuffs from Bengal, pearls from Calicare, diamonds from Narsinga, cinnamon and rich rubies from Ceylon, pepper, ginger, and other spices, from the coast of Malabar and other places where these are produced. From Ormuz these commodities were conveyed up the Persian gulf to Basorah at the mouth of the Euphrates, and were thence distributed by caravans through Armenia, Trebisond, Tartary, Aleppo, and Damascus; and from these latter cities, by means of the port of Barat in Syria, the Venetians, Genoese, and Catalonians carried them to their respective countries, and to other parts of Europe. Such of these commodities as went up the Red Sea, were landed at Tor or Suez at the bottom of that gulf, whence they were conveyed over land to Cairo in Egypt, and thence down the Nile to Alexandria, where they were shipped for Europe.