Chapter III. Old Goa As It Was.

"Señor," said our cicerone, entering unannounced, at about ten a.m., "it is time for your Excellency to prepare for an interview with his Excellency the Governor-General of all the Indies; and if it meet with your approbation, we can see the library, and the celebrated statue of Alfonso de Albuquerque on our way to the palacio."

The horses were soon saddled, and the Señor was with some difficulty persuaded to mount. En route his appearance afforded no small amusement to his fellow townsmen, who grinned from ear to ear seeing him clinging to the saddle, and holding on by the bridle, with his back hunched, and his shoulders towering above his ears like those of an excited cat. The little Maharatta "man-eater" (11) was dancing with disgust at this peculiar style of equitation, and the vivacity of his movements terrified the Señor, that, to our extreme regret, he chose the first moment to dismount under pretext of introducing us to Albuquerque.

The statue of that hero stands under a white-washed dome, in a small square opposite the east front of the Barracks. It is now wrapped up in matting, having lately received such injuries that it was deemed advisable to send to Portugal for a new nose and other requisites.

The library disappointed us. We had heard that it contained many volumes collected from the different religious houses by order of the government, and thus saved from mildew and the white ants. Of course, we expected a variety of MSS. and publications upon the subject of Oriental languages and history, as connected with the Portuguese settlements. The catalogue, however, soon informed us that it was a mere ecclesiastical library, dotted here and there with the common classical authors; a few old books of travels; some volumes of history, and a number of musty disquisitions on ethics, politics, and metaphysics. We could find only three Oriental works--a Syriac book printed at Oxford, a manuscript Dictionary, and a Grammar of the Concanee dialect of Maharatta.

Arrived at the palace, we sent in our card, and were desired to walk up. We were politely received by an aide-de-camp, who, after ascertaining that we could speak a few words of Portuguese, left the room to inform the Governor of that prodigious fact, which, doubtless, procured us the honour of an interview with that exalted personage. It did not last long enough to be tedious, still we were not sorry when his Excellency retired with the excuse of public business, and directed the aide-de-camp to show us about the building. There was not much to be seen in it, except a tolerably extensive library, a private chapel, and a suite of lofty and spacious saloons, with enormous windows, and without furniture; containing the portraits of all the Governors and Viceroys of Portuguese India. The collection is, or rather has been, a valuable one; unfortunately some Goth, by the order of some worse than Goth, has renewed and revived many of the best and oldest pictures, till they have assumed a most ludicrous appearance. The handsome and chivalrous-looking knights have been taught to resemble the Saracen's Head, the Marquis of Granby, and other sign-post celebrities in England. An artist is, however, it is said, coming from Portugal, and much scraping and varnishing may do something for the De Gamas and de Castros at present so miserably disfigured.


And now, thank Goodness, all our troubles are over. We can start as soon as we like for the "ruin and the waste," merely delaying to secure a covered boat, victual it for a few days, and lay in a store of jars of fresh water--a necessary precaution against ague and malaria. Salvador is to accompany us, and John Thomas has volunteered to procure us a comfortable lodging in the Aljube, or ecclesiastical prison.

A couple of hours' steady rowing will land us at old Goa. As there is nothing to be said about the banks which are lined with the eternal succession of villages, palaces, villas, houses, cottages, gardens, and cocoa-nut trees; instead of lingering upon the uninteresting details, we will pass the time in drawing out a short historical sketch of the hapless city's fortunes.

It is not, we believe, generally known that there are two old Goas. Ancient old Goa stood on the south coast of the island, about two miles from its more modern namesake. Ferishteh, and the other Moslem annalists of India allude to it as a great and celebrated seaport in the olden time. It was governed by its own Rajah, who held it in fief from the Princes of Beejanugger and the Carnatic. In the fifteenth century it was taken by the Moslem monarchs of the Bahmani line. Even before the arrival of the Portuguese in India the inhabitants began to desert their old seaport and migrate to the second Goa. Of the ancient Hindoo town no traces now remain, except some wretched hovels clustering round a parish church. Desolation and oblivion seem to have claimed all but the name of the place, and none but the readers of musty annals and worm-eaten histories are aware that such a city ever existed.

The modern old Goa was built about nineteen years before the arrival of Vasco de Gama at Calicut, an event fixed by the historian, Faria, on 20th of May, 1498. It was taken from the Moors or Moslems by Albuquerque, about thirty years after its foundation--a length of time amply sufficient to make it a place of importance, considering the mushroom-like rapidity with which empires and their capitals shoot up in the East. Governed by a succession of viceroys, many of them the bravest and wisest of the Portuguese nation, Goa soon rose to a height of power, wealth, and magnificence almost incredible. But the introduction of the Jesuits, the Holy Tribunal, and its fatal offspring, religious persecution; pestilence, and wars with European and native powers, disturbances arising from an unsettled home government, and, above all things, the slow but sure workings of the short-sighted policy of the Portuguese in intermarrying and identifying themselves with the Hindoos of the lowest castes, made her fall as rapid as her rise was sudden and prodigious. In less than a century and a half after De Gama landed on the shore of India, the splendour of Goa had departed for ever. Presently the climate changed in that unaccountable manner often witnessed in hot and tropical countries. Every one fled from the deadly fever that raged within the devoted precincts, and the villages around began to thrive upon the decay of the capital. At last, in 1759, the viceroy, a namesake of Albuquerque, transferred his habitual residence to Panhim. Soon afterwards the Jesuits were expelled, and their magnificent convents and churches were left all but utterly deserted. The Inquisition (12) was suppressed when the Portuguese court was at Rio Janeiro, at the recommendation of the British Government--one of those good deeds with which our native land atones for a multitude of minor sins.

The descriptions of Goa in her palmy days are, thanks to the many travellers that visited the land, peculiarly graphic and ample.

First in the list, by seniority, stands Linschoten, a native of Haarlem, who travelled to the capital of Portuguese India about 1593, in company with the Archbishop Fre Vincent de Foncega. After many years spent in the East, he returned to his native country, and published his travels, written in old French. The book is replete with curious information. Linschoten's account of the riches and splendour of Goa would be judged exaggerated, were they not testified to by a host of other travellers. It is described as the finest, largest, and most magnificent city in India: its villas almost merited the title of palaces, and seemed to be built for the purpose of displaying the wealthy and magnificence of the erectors. It is said that during the prosperous times of the Portuguese in India, you could not have seen a bit of "iron in any merchant's house, but all gold and silver." They coined an immense quantity of the precious metals, and used to make pieces of workmanship in them for exportation. They were a nation of traders, and the very soldiers enriched themselves by commerce. After nine years' service, all those that came from Portugal were entitled to some command, either by land or sea; they frequently, however, rejected government employ on account of being engaged in the more lucrative pursuit of trade. The viceroyalty of Goa was one of the most splendid appointments in the world. There were five other governments, namely--Mozambique, Malacca, Ormus, Muscat, and Ceylon, the worst of which was worth ten thousand crowns (about two thousand pounds) per annum--an enormous sun in those days.

The celebrated Monsieur Tavernier, Baron of Aubonne, visited Goa twice; first in 1641, the second time seven years afterwards. In his day the city was declining rapidly, (13) and even during the short period that elapsed between his two voyages, he remarked that many whom he had known as people of fashion, with above two thousand crowns revenue, were reduced to visiting him privately in the evening, and begging for alms. Still, he observed, "they abated nothing, for all that, of their inherent pride and haughtiness." He pays no compliment to the Portuguese character: "They are the most revengeful persons, and the most jealous of their wives in the world, and where the least suspicion creeps into their saddles, they rid themselves of them either by poison or dagger." The baron had no cause for complaint in his reception at Goa by the viceroy, Don Philip de Mascaregnas, who "made him very welcome, and esteeming much a pistol, curiously inlaid," which the traveller presented to him, sent for him five or six times to the Powder-house, or old palace. That viceroy seems, however, to have been a dangerous host. He was a most expert poisoner, and had used his skill most diligently, ridding himself of many enemies, when governor of Ceylon. At Goa he used to admit no one to his table--even his own family was excluded. He was the richest Portuguese noble that ever left the East, especially in diamonds, of which he had a large parcel containing none but stones between ten and forty carats weight. The Goanese hated him, hung him in effigy before his departure, and when he died on the voyage, reported that he had been poisoned in the ship--a judgment from Heaven.

Monsieur Tavernier visited the Inquisition, where he was received with sundry "searching questions" concerning his faith, the Protestant. During the interview, the Inquisitor "told him that he was welcome, calling out at the same time, for some other persons to enter. Thereupon, the hangings being held up, came in ten or twelve persons out of a room hard by." They were assured that the traveller possessed no prohibited books; the prudent Tavernier had left even his Bible behind him. The Inquisidor Mor (14) discoursed with him for a couple of hours, principally upon the subject of his wanderings, and, three days afterwards, sent him a polite invitation to dinner.

But a well-known practice of the Holy Tribunal--namely, that of confiscating the gold, silver, and jewels of every prisoner, to defray the expenses of the process--had probably directed the Inquisitor's attention to so rich a traveller as the baron was. Tavernier had, after all, rather a narrow escape from the Holy Office, in spite of its civilities. When about to leave Goa, he imprudently requested and obtained from the Viceroy, permission to take with him one Mons. de Bellow, a country man in distress. This individual had deserted from the Dutch to the Portuguese, and was kindly received by them. At Macao, however, he lost his temper at play, and "cursed the portraiture of some Papistical saint, as the cause of his ill-luck." For this impiety he was forthwith sent by the Provincial Inquisitor to Goa, but he escaped the stake by private interest with the Viceroy, (15) and was punished only by "wearing old clothes, which were all to tatters and full of vermin." When Tavernier and his friend set sail, the latter "became very violent, and swore against the Inquisition like a madman." That such procedure was a dangerous one was proved by Mons. de Belloy's fate. He was rash enough to return some months afterwards to Goa, where he remained two years in the dungeons of the Holy Office, "from which he was not discharged but with a sulphured shirt, and a St. Andrew's cross upon his stomach." The unfortunate man was eventually taken prisoner by the enraged "Hollanders," put into a sack, and thrown into the sea, as a punishment for desertion.

About twenty-five years after Tavernier's departure, Dellon, the French physician, who made himself conspicuous by his "Relation de l'Inquisition de Goa," visited the city. By his own account, he appears to have excited the two passions which burn fiercest in the Portuguese bosom--jealousy and bigotry. When at Saman, his "innocent visits" to a lady, who was loved by Manuel de Mendonca, the Governor, and a black priest, who was secretary to the Inquisition, secured for him a pair of powerful enemies. Being, moreover, an amateur of Scholastic Theology, a willing disputer with heretics and schismatics, a student of the Old as well as the New Testament, and perhaps a little dogmatical, as dilettanti divines generally are, he presently found himself brouillé at the same place with a Dominican friar. The Frenchman had refused to kiss the figure of the Virgin, painted upon the lids of the alms boxes: he had denied certain effects of the baptism, called "flaminis," protested against the adoration of images, and finally capped the whole by declaring that the decrees of the Holy Tribunal are not so infallible as those of the Divine Author of Christianity. The horror-struck auditor instantly denounced him with a variety of additions and emendations sufficient to make his case very likely to conclude with strangling and burning.

Perceiving a storm impending over him, our physician waited upon the Commissary of the Inquisition, if possible to avert the now imminent danger. That gentlemanly old person seems to have received him with uncommon urbanity, benevolently offered much good advice, and lodged him in jail with all possible expedition.

The prison at Daman is described as a most horrible place; hot, damp, fetid, dark, and crowded. The inmates were half starved, and so miserable that forty out of fifty Malabar pirates, who had been imprisoned there, preferred strangling themselves with their turbans to enduring the tortures of such an earthly Hades.

The first specimen of savoir faire displayed by the Doctor's enemies was to detain him in the Daman jail till the triennial Auto da Fe at Goa had taken place; thereby causing him at least two years' delay and imprisonment in the capital before he could be brought to trial. Having succeeded in this they sent him heavily ironed on board a boat which finally deposited him in the Casa Santa, (16) There he was taken before the Mesa, or Boards, stripped of all his property, and put into the chambrette designed for his reception.

Three weary years spent in that dungeon gave Dellon ample time to experience and reflect upon the consequences of amativeness and disputativeness. After being thrice examined by the grand Inquisitor, and persuaded to confess his sins by the false promise of liberty held out to him, driven to despair by the system of solitary imprisonment, by the cries of those who were being tortured, and by anticipations of the noose and the faggot, he made three attempts to commit suicide. During the early part of his convalescence he was allowed the luxury of a negro fellow-prisoner in his cell; but when he had recovered strength this indulgence was withdrawn. Five or six other examinations rapidly succeeded each other, and finally, on the 11th of January, 1676, he was fortunate enough to be present at the Auto da Fe in that garb of good omen, the black dress with white stripes. The sentence was confiscation of goods and chattels, banishment from India, five years of the galleys in Portugal, and a long list of various penances to be performed during the journey.

On arriving at Lisbon he was sent to the hulks, but by the interest of his fellow-countrymen he recovered his liberty in June, 1677. About eleven years afterwards he published anonymously a little volume containing an account of his sufferings. By so doing he broke the oaths of secrecy administered to him by the Holy Tribunal, but probably he found it easy enough to salve his conscience in that matter.

The next in our list stands the good Capt. Hamilton, a sturdy old merchant militant, who infested the eastern seas about the beginning of the eighteenth century.

The captain's views of the manners and customs of the people are more interesting than his description of the city. After alluding to their habits of intoxication he proceeds to the subject of religion, and terms both clergy and laity "a pack of the most atrocious hypocrites in the world;" and, at the same time, "most zealous bigots." There were not less than eighty churches, convents, and monasteries within view of the town, and these were peopled by "thirty thousand church vermin who live idly and luxuriously on the labour and sweat of the miserable laity." Our voyager then falls foul of the speciosa miracula of St. Francis de Xavier. He compares the holy corpse to that of "new scalded pig," opines that it is a "pretty piece of wax-work that serves to gull the people," and utterly disbelieves that the amputates right arm, when sent to Rome to stand its trial for sainthood, took hold of the pen, dipped it in ink and fairly wrote "Xavier" in full view of the sacred college.

The poverty of Goa must have been great in Capt. Hamilton's time, when "the houses were poorly furnished within like their owners' heads, and the tables and living very mean." The army was so ill-paid and defrauded that the soldiers were little better than common thieves and assassins. Trade was limited to salt and arrack, distilled from the cocoa-nut. The downfall of Goa had been hastened by the loss of Muscat to the Arabs, a disaster brought on by the Governor's insolent folly, (17) by an attack made in 1660 upon the capital by a Dutch squadron, which, though it failed in consequence of the strength of the fortifications, still caused great loss and misery to the Portuguese, and finally by the Maharatta war. In 1685, Seevagee, the Robert Bruce of Southern India, got a footing in the island, and would have take the city had he not been--

          "Foiled by a woman's hand before a broken wall."

The "Maid of Goa" was one Donna Maria, a Portuguese lady, who travelled to Goa dressed like a man in search of a perfidious swain who had been guilty of breach of promise of marriage. She found him at last and challenged him to the duello with sword and pistol, but the gentleman declined the invitation, preferring to marry than to fight Donna Maria.

A few years afterwards the Maharatta war began, and the heroine excited by her country's losses, and, of course, directed by inspiration, headed a sally against Seevagee, took a redoubt, and cut all the heathen in it to pieces. The enemy, probably struck by some superstitious terror, precipitately quitted the island, and the Donna's noble exploit was rewarded with a captain's pay for life.

We conclude with the Rev. Mons. Cottineau de Kleguen, a French missionary, who died at Madras in 1830. His "Historical Sketch of Goa" was published the year after his death. It is useful as a guide-book to the buildings, and gives much information about ecclesiastical matters. In other points it is defective in the extreme. As might be expected from a zealous Romanist, the reverend gentleman stands up stoutly for the inquisition in spite of his "entire impartiality," and displays much curious art in defending the Jesuits' peculiar process of detaching the pagans from idol worship, by destroying their temples and pagodas.