[Footnote 143: The direct distance is twenty geographical miles.—E.]
Cochin, next to Goa, is the chief place in India belonging to the Portuguese, and has a great trade in spices, drugs, and all other kinds of merchandise for Portugal. Inland from that place is the pepper country, which pepper is loaded by the Portuguese in bulk not in sacks. The pepper which is sent to Portugal is not so good as that which goes up the Red Sea; because in times past the officers of the king of Portugal made a contract with the king of Cochin for all the pepper, to be delivered at a fixed price, which is very low; and for which reason the country people deliver it to the Portuguese unripe and full of dirt. As the Moors of Mecca give a better price, they get it clean and dry and in much better condition; but all the spices and drugs which they carry to Mecca and the Red Sea are contraband and stolen or smuggled. There are two cities at Cochin, one of which belongs to the Portuguese and the other to the native king; that of the Portuguese being nearer the sea, while the native city is a mile and a half farther up the same river. They are both on the banks of the same large river, which comes from the mountains in the pepper country, in which are many Christians of the order of St Thomas. The king of Cochin is a Gentile and a steadfast friend to the king of Portugal, and to all the Portuguese who are married and have become citizens of Cochin. By the name of Portuguese, all the Christians are known in India who come from Europe, whether they be Italians, Frenchmen, or Germans. All those who marry and settle at Cochin get some office according to the trades they are off, by which they have great privileges. The two principal commodities in which they deal are silk which comes in great quantities from China, and large quantities of sugar, which comes from Bengal. The married citizens pay no customs for these two commodities; but pay 4s. per centum for all other goods to the king of Cochin, rating their own goods almost at their own valuation. Those who are not married pay to the king of Portugal 8s. per centum for all kinds of commodities. While I was in Cochin, the viceroy used his endeavours to break the privileges of these married citizens, that they might pay the same rates of customs with others. On this occasion the citizens were glad to weigh their pepper in the night to evade the customs. When this came to the knowledge of the king of Cochin, he put a stop to the delivery of pepper, so that the viceroy was glad to allow the merchants to do as formerly.