The author lands: The difficulty of his journey. An account of the Galles, and of the author's reception at the king's tent; Their manner of swearing, and of letting blood. The author returns to the Indies, and finds the patriarch of Aethiopia.
On this coast we landed, with an intention of travelling on foot to Jubo, a journey of much greater length and difficulty than we imagined. We durst not go far from our bark, and therefore were obliged to a toilsome march along the windings of the shore, sometimes clambering up rocks, and sometimes wading through the sands, so that we were every moment in the utmost danger of falling from the one, or sinking in the other. Our lodging was either in the rocks or on the sands, and even that incommoded by continual apprehensions of being devoured by lions and tigers. Amidst all these calamities our provisions failed us; we had little hopes of a supply, for we found neither villages, houses, nor any trace of a human creature; and had miserably perished by thirst and hunger had we not met with some fishermen's boats, who exchanged their fish for tobacco.
Through all these fatigues we at length came to Jubo, a kingdom of considerable extent, situated almost under the line, and tributary to the Portuguese, who carry on a trade here for ivory and other commodities. This region so abounds with elephants, that though the teeth of the male only are valuable, they load several ships with ivory every year. All this coast is much infested with ravenous beasts, monkeys, and serpents, of which last here are some seven feet in length, and thicker than an ordinary man; in the head of this serpent is found a stone about the bigness of an egg, resembling bezoar, and of great efficacy, as it is said, against all kinds of poison. I stayed here some time to inform myself whether I might, by pursuing this road, reach Abyssinia; and could get no other intelligence but that two thousand Galles (the same people who inhabited Melinda) had encamped about three leagues from Jubo; that they had been induced to fix in that place by the plenty of provisions they found there. These Galles lay everything where they come in ruin, putting all to the sword without distinction of age or sex; which barbarities, though their numbers are not great, have spread the terror of them over all the country. They choose a king, whom they call Lubo: every eighth year they carry their wives with them, and expose their children without any tenderness in the woods, it being prohibited, on pain of death, to take any care of those which are born in the camp. This is their way of living when they are in arms, but afterwards when they settle at home they breed up their children. They feed upon raw cow's flesh; when they kill a cow, they keep the blood to rub their bodies with, and wear the guts about their necks for ornaments, which they afterwards give to their wives.
Several of these Galles came to see me, and as it seemed they had never beheld a white man before, they gazed on me with amazement; so strong was their curiosity that they even pulled off my shoes and stockings, that they might be satisfied whether all my body was of the same colour with my face. I could remark, that after they had observed me some time, they discovered some aversion from a white; however, seeing me pull out my handkerchief, they asked me for it with a great deal of eagerness; I cut it into several pieces that I might satisfy them all, and distributed it amongst them; they bound them about their heads, but gave me to understand that they should have liked them better if they had been red: after this we were seldom without their company, which gave occasion to an accident, which though it seemed to threaten some danger at first, turned afterwards to our advantage.
As these people were continually teasing us, our Portuguese one day threatened in jest to kill one of them. The black ran in the utmost dread to seek his comrades, and we were in one moment almost covered with Galles; we thought it the most proper course to decline the first impulse of their fury, and retired into our house. Our retreat inspired them with courage; they redoubled their cries, and posted themselves on an eminence near at hand that overlooked us; there they insulted us by brandishing their lances and daggers. We were fortunately not above a stone's cast from the sea, and could therefore have retreated to our bark had we found ourselves reduced to extremities. This made us not very solicitous about their menaces; but finding that they continued to hover about our habitation, and being wearied with their clamours, we thought it might be a good expedient to fright them away by firing four muskets towards them, in such a manner that they might hear the bullets hiss about two feet over their heads. This had the effect we wished; the noise and fire of our arms struck them with so much terror that they fell upon the ground, and durst not for some time so much as lift up their heads. They forgot immediately their natural temper, their ferocity and haughtiness were softened into mildness and submission; they asked pardon for their insolence, and we were ever after good friends.
After our reconciliation we visited each other frequently, and had some conversation about the journey I had undertaken, and the desire I had of finding a new passage into Aethiopia. It was necessary on this account to consult their lubo or king: I found him in a straw hut something larger than those of his subjects, surrounded by his courtiers, who had each a stick in his hand, which is longer or shorter according to the quality of the person admitted into the king's presence. The ceremony made use of at the reception of a stranger is somewhat unusual; as soon as he enters, all the courtiers strike him with their cudgels till he goes back to the door; the amity then subsisting between us did not secure me from this uncouth reception, which they told me, upon my demanding the reason of it, was to show those whom they treated with that they were the bravest people in the world, and that all other nations ought to bow down before them. I could not help reflecting on this occasion how imprudently I had trusted my life in the hands of men unacquainted with compassion of civility, but recollecting at the same time that the intent of my journey was such as might give me hopes of the divine protection, I banished all thoughts but those of finding a way into Aethiopia. In this strait it occurred to me that these people, however barbarous, have some oath which they keep with an inviolable strictness; the best precaution, therefore, that I could use would be to bind them by this oath to be true to their engagements. The manner of their swearing is this: they set a sheep in the midst of them, and rub it over with butter, the heads of families who are the chief in the nation lay their hands upon the head of the sheep, and swear to observe their promise. This oath
(which they never violate) they explain thus: the sheep is the mother of them who swear; the butter betokens the love between the mother and the children, and an oath taken on a mother's head is sacred. Upon the security of this oath, I made them acquainted with my intention, an intention, they told me, it was impossible to put in execution. From the moment I left them they said they could give me no assurance of either life or liberty, that they were perfectly informed both of the roads and inhabitants, that there were no fewer than nine nations between us and Abyssinia, who were always embroiled amongst themselves, or at war with the Abyssins, and enjoyed no security even in their own territories. We were now convinced that our enterprise was impracticable, and that to hazard ourselves amidst so many insurmountable difficulties would be to tempt Providence; despairing, therefore, that I should ever come this way to Abyssinia, I resolved to return back with my intelligence to my companion, whom I had left at Pate.
I cannot, however, leave this country without giving an account of their manner of blood-letting, which I was led to the knowledge of by a violent fever, which threatened to put an end to my life and travels together. The distress I was in may easily be imagined, being entirely destitute of everything necessary. I had resolved to let myself blood, though I was altogether a stranger to the manner of doing it, and had no lancet, but my companions hearing of a surgeon of reputation in the place, went and brought him. I saw, with the utmost surprise, an old Moor enter my chamber, with a kind of small dagger, all over rusty, and a mallet in his hand, and three cups of horn about half a foot long. I started, and asked what he wanted. He told me to bleed me; and when I had given him leave, uncovering my side, applied one of his horn cups, which he stopped with chewed paper, and by that means made it stick fast; in the same manner he fixed on the other two, and fell to sharpening his instrument, assuring me that he would give me no pain. He then took off his cups, and gave in each place a stroke with his poignard, which was followed by a stream of blood. He applied his cups several times, and every time struck his lancet into the same place; having drawn away a large quantity of blood, he healed the orifices with three lumps of tallow. I know not whether to attribute my cure to bleeding or my fear, but I had from that time no return of my fever.
When I came to Pate, in hopes of meeting with my associate, I found that he was gone to Mombaza, in hopes of receiving information. He was sooner undeceived than I, and we met at the place where we parted in a few days; and soon afterwards left Pate to return to the Indies, and in nine-and-twenty days arrived at the famous fortress of Diou. We were told at this place that Alfonso Mendes, patriarch of Aethiopia, was arrived at Goa from Lisbon. He wrote to us to desire that we would wait for him at Diou, in order to embark there for the Red Sea; but being informed by us that no opportunities of going thither were to be expected at Diou, it was at length determined that we should meet at Bazaim; it was no easy matter for me to find means of going to Bazaim. However, after a very uneasy voyage, in which we were often in danger of being dashed against the rocks, or thrown upon the sands by the rapidity of the current, and suffered the utmost distress for want of water, I landed at Daman, a place about twenty leagues distant from Bazaim. Here I hire a catre and four boys to carry me to Bazaim: these catres are a kind of travelling couches, in which you may either lie or sit, which the boys, whose business is the same with that of chairmen in our country, support upon their shoulders by two poles, and carry a passenger at the rate of eighteen or twenty miles a day. Here we at length found the patriarch, with three more priests, like us, designed for the mission of Aethiopia. We went back to Daman, and from thence to Diou, where we arrived in a short time.Next