A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 07 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 685 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 07.

End of the Portuguese Asia.

CHAPTER V.

VOYAGES AND TRAVELS IN EGYPT, SYRIA, ARABIA, PERSIA, AND INDIA.  BY LUDOVICO VERTHEMA, IN 1503[33].

INTRODUCTION.

This ancient itinerary into the east, at the commencement of the sixteenth century, together with the subsequent chapter, containing the peregrinations of Cesar Frederick, about 80 years later, form an appropriate supplement to the Portuguese transactions in India, as furnishing a great number of observations respecting the countries, people, manners, customs, and commerce of the east at an early period.  We learn from the Bibliotheque Universelle des Voyages.  I. 264, that this itinerary was originally published in Italian at Venice, in 1520.  The version followed on the present occasion was republished in old English, in 1811, in an appendix to a reprint of HAKLUYT’S EARLY VOYAGES, TRAVELS, AND DISCOVERIES; from which we learn that it was translated from Latine into Englishe, by Richarde Eden, and originally published in 1576.  In both these English versions, the author is named Lewes Vertomannus; but we learn from the Biol.  Univ. des Voy. that his real name was Ludovico Verthema, which we have accordingly adopted on the present occasion, in preference to the latinized denomination used by Eden.  Although, in the present version, we have strictly adhered to the sense of that published by Eden 236 years ago, it has appeared more useful, and more consonant to the plan of our work, to render the antiquated language into modern English:  Yet, as on similar occasions, we leave the Preface of the Author exactly in the language and orthography of Eden, the original translator.

[Footnote 33:  Hakluyt, iv.  App. pp. 547—­612.  Ed. Lond. 1810-11.]

The itinerary is vaguely dated in the title as of the year 1503, but we learn from the text, that Verthema set out upon the pilgrimage of Mecca from Damascus in the beginning of April 1503, after having resided a considerable time at Damascus to acquire the language, probably Arabic; and he appears to have left India on his return to Europe, by way of the Cape of Good Hope and Lisbon, in the end of 1508.  From some circumstances in the text, but which do not agree with the commencement, it would appear that Verthema had been taken prisoner by the Mamelukes, when fifteen years of age, and was admitted into that celebrated military band at Cairo, after making profession of the Mahometan religion.  He went afterwards on pilgrimage to Mecca, from Damascus in Syria, then under the dominion of the Mameluke Soldan of Egypt, and contrived to escape or desert from Mecca.  By some unexplained means, he appears to have become the servant or slave of a Persian merchant, though he calls himself his companion, and along with whom he made various extensive peregrinations in India.  At length he contrived, when at Cananore, to desert again to the Portuguese, through whose means he was enabled to return to Europe.

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