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

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 785 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 07.

The sultan of Cambay maintains a force of 20,000 horse.  Every morning fifty men riding on elephants repair to his palace to reverence and salute the king, which is done likewise by the elephants kneeling down.  As soon as the king wakes in the morning there is a prodigious noise of drums, trumpets, and other warlike instruments of music, as if in token of joy that the sultan still lives.  The same is done while he is at dinner, when likewise the elephants are again brought forward to do him reverence.  We shall afterwards have occasion to notice the customs, docility, and wisdom of these beasts.  The sultan has his upper lip so large and gross that he sometimes beareth it up with a fillet as women do their hair.  His beard is white and hangs down below his girdle.  He has been accustomed to the use of poison even from his infancy, and he daily eats some to keep him in use; by which strange custom, although he feels no personal hurt therefrom, yet is he so saturated with poison that he is a certain poison to others.  Insomuch that when he is disposed to put any noble to death, he causes the victim to be brought into his presence and to stand before him while he chews certain fruits called Chofolos[61] resembling nutmegs, chewing at the same time the leaves of a certain herb named Tambolos, to which is added the powder of oyster shells.  After chewing these things for some time, he spits upon the person whom he wishes to kill, and he is sure to die within half an hour, so powerful is the venom of his body[62].  He keeps about four thousand concubines, and whoever of them chances to sleep with him is sure to die next day.  When he changes his shirt or any other article of his dress, no one dare wear it, or is sure to die.  My companion learnt from the merchants of Cambay that this wonderful venomous nature of the sultan had been occasioned by his having been bred up by his father from a child in the constant use of poison, beginning by little and little, and taking preservatives at the same time.

[Footnote 61:  It is evident from the text that the areka nut is here meant, which is chewed along with betel leaf, called tambolos in the text, and strewed with chunam or lime made of oyster shells.—­E.]

[Footnote 62:  This ridiculous story can only be understood as an eastern metaphor, expressive of the tyrannous disposition of the sultan.—­E.]

Such is the wonderful fertility of this country that it surpasses all description.  The people, as already said, go almost entirely naked, or content themselves with a single garment, and are a brave and warlike nation, being at the same time much given to commerce, so that their city is frequented by traders of all nations.  From this city, and another to be named afterwards, innumerable kinds and quantities of merchandise are transported to almost every region and nation of the world; especially to the Turks, Syrians, Arabians, Indians, and to divers regions

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