The fourth voyage into Persia, made by M. Arthur Edwards Agent, Iohn Sparke, Laurence Chapman, Christopher Faucet, and Richard Pingle, in the yeere 1568. declared in this letter written from Casbin in Persia by the foresaide Laurence Chapman to a worshipfull merchant of the companie of Russia in London. Anno Domini 1569. Aprill 28.
Their arriuall at Bilbil the 14. of August 1568. Worshipfull sir, my duetie alwayes remembred, and your prosperous health, and good successe in all your affaires wished, to the glory of God, and your owne hearts desire, &c. May it please you to vnderstand that your Agent M. Arthur Edwards and we departed from Yeraslaue in Iuly 1568. and the 14. of August arriued at our port called Bilbil, with your ship the Grace of God, and the goods in her in good safetie, God bee thanked for it, finding there neither the people so ready to ayd vs for the bringing of her in, and vnlading of the goods, nor yet so obedient to the Shaughs priuilege, as the worshipfull company haue bene informed. Our goods brought vpon land, we were compelled to open and sel as they would set the price, or otherwise it would haue bene worse for vs. Prince Erasbec. Being so satisfied to their contentment, we were speedily aided with camels by the prince Erasbec Sultan his appointment, to carry our goods to Shamaki, to which place we attained the first of September, finding it so throughly furnished with maner of commodities by occasion of our late comming, and by such as came before vs, that no man would aske to buy any one piece of karsie of vs, and lying then the space of one whole moneth before your Agent Arthur Edwards would disperse vs abroade with the goods, such as came out of Russia afterwardes, had brought their goods to that and other places, and spoyled those sayles wee might haue made, being sent abroad in time conuenient, being no little hinderance to the worshipfull, as also great griefe vnto vs to see. To conclude, through our dayly calling vpon him, he bent himselfe for Casbin, taking with him the greatest summe of the goods, and two of the worshipfuls seruants, to witte, Iohn Sparke and my selfe, to helpe and procure the better sale for the same: Christopher Faucet and Richard Pingle. and leauing at Shamaki Christopher Faucet and Richard Pingle with three hundred and fiftie pieces of karsies in their handes, supposed to be solde there or in Arrash before hee should be able to make his return from Casbin, which, so farre foorth as I can vnderstand, lie for the greatest part vnsolde. And being vpon our way, at a certaine towne called Ardouil, we chanced to barter nine pieces of karsies with those merchants for fourescore and foure batemans of cynamom, selling the karsies at one hundred and fiftie shawghs the piece.
And being at that present not farre from Teueris, called the principal place in this countrey for vttering of cloth or karsies, by much intreatie I perswaded your Agent to send thither to prooue what might be done, and receiuing from him foure and fiftie pieces of karsies, as also his commission for the sale of the same, I proceeded on that voyage my selfe, and one Tolmach in company with me, finding in that place great store of broad cloth and karsies brought thither, some part by the Turkes who be resident there, some by the Armenians, who fetch them at Aleppo, and some by the townesmen, who trauell vnto Venice and there buy them, so that no man offered me one penie more then a hundred and fourtie shawghs for a karsie: and hauing special commission and charge from your Agent not to stay there aboue the space of seuen dayes after my arriuall there, but to repaire to Casbin with all speed, and furthermore, hauing regard to keepe vp the price of the worshipfuls commodities, according to their desire, I found meanes to barter them away for spices, such as were there to be had, neither in goodnesse nor yet in price to my content: Warre against the Portingals at Ormuz. neuerthelesse, considering the colde sales which were there, as well for your karsies, as also the hot newes, that Ormuz way was shut up by occasion that the Indians do warre against them, which is true in deed: and againe the desire that the worshipfull hath to haue such commodities bought, I thought it necessary to buy them, the prices and weight whereof appeareth at large by my accompt sent to the worshipfull, and is, as I thinke, the whole summe of spices bought at this time.
The gouernour of Grozin his Merchant. It chanced me in that place to meet with the gouernours merchant of Grozin, who was not a litle desirous to bargen with me for a hundred pieces of karsies for his master called Leuontie, and offering me so good bands for the paiment of the money or silke to the merchants contentment vpon the deliuery of them, as in any place within all this countrey is to be had: and offering me besides his owne letter in the behalfe of his master, that no custome should be demanded for the same, and the obtaining also at his masters hand as large a priuilege for the worshipful to trauel into all parts of his dominion, as the Shaugh had giuen them, and hearing good report made of him by the Armenians also, and that he was a Christian, I was much more the willing to bargen with him, and sold him a hundred pieces for a hundred and threescore shawghs a piece, to be paid to the merchant in Grozin either in money or silke to his contentment, within three dayes after the deliuerie of the karsies there, hauing a band of him made by the Metropolitanes owne hand, for the performance of the same, which is as sure as any here is to be deuised: and vpon the same I sent my Tolmach from me backe to Shamaki, with such goods as I bought at Teueris, and to the end hee might cause the worshipfuls seruants there to see this bargen accomplished. The generall inconsistencie in the merchants and dealers of those parts. At whose arriuall there, as I do perceiue, the Captaine would not accomplish his bargen to take them, but saith, hee hath no need of them; such is the constancie of all men in the countrey, with whomsoeuer you shal bargen. If the ware be bought, and they doe mislike it afterwards, they will bring it againe, and compel you to deliuer the money for it againe, regarding the Shawghs letters, which manifesteth the contrary, as a straw in the winde: by meanes whereof, the worshipfull may know whether all be true that hath bene written of this countrey people or not.
I am informed by all the brokers in Teueris, that the way once open to Ormuz, from whence commeth no such store of spices as the worshipfull doeth looke for, that here will bee put a way in Teueris, some for money, and other some for barter, to the number of three hundred or foure hundred pieces of karsies, being in coulers and goodnesse to the examples here sent you, the rest of the karsies to make them vp a thousand, and broad clothes to the summe of a hundred, bee as many as will be put away yeerely in this countrey, so farre as yet I can perceiue.
The trade between the Venetians and the Armenians not easily to be broken. To breake the trade betwixt the Venetians and the whole company of the Armenians it is not possible, vnlesse the worshipful will finde some meanes to receiue of them yerely to the number of 100. catters or mules lading, and deliuer them for the same one third part money, the rest cloth and karsies fitted in coulers meete for this countrey: the examples, as abouesaid, are sent vnto you.
At Amadia sixe dayes iourney from Teueris, grow abundance of galles, which are brought vp yerely by the Venetians, and be solde there for two bistes the Teueris bateman, which as your Agent here saith, maketh sixe pound English weight, but I doubt it wil not so be proued. Neuerthelesse it is supposed much good will bee done by buying of them: which might at this present haue partly bene proued; it so be that some could do but halfe that which hath bene written.
Touching drugges, I finde many as well at Teueris, as also in Casbin, but the goodnesse nothing like to such as be brought into England out of other places: and the price is so high that smal gaine will be had in buying of them: albeit, if I had bene furnished with money, as I might haue bene, if some would, I would haue bought some, to the ende the goodnesse of them might haue bene seene in England. At my comming to Casbin I found no maner of sales of any commoditie made, but all lying there whole, and newes giuen out (as your Agent saith) that the Shaugh would buy all such commodities as he had, and giue him silke and spices for the same: but by report the Shaugh neuer tooke cloth into his treasurie all the dayes of his life, and will not now begin: his whole trade is in raw silke, which he selleth alwayes for money to the Armenians and Turkes, and such other as vse to buy it: thus hoping of that which is not like to be had, hee hath driuen off the time, not sending to any other places: by means whereof the worshipfuls goods lie vnsold to this day to their great hinderance, which I for my part am not a litle sory to see.
Babylon 15 days iourney from Casbin. Babylon is from hence fifteene dayes tourney, whereas by true report be great store of Dates, and sold for a bisse the batman, the commoditie fit for England, and the place so neere vnto vs might easily haue bene knowen, if hee, whose deeds and sayings differ much, had bene willing to the same. Casan also is but seuen dayes iourney from hence, and a place by report, where most store of spices be at all times to be had, ouer and aboue any place in this countrey: it could not be granted by him to be seen and proued at this time: if this be losse to the worshipfull, referre it to the want of one which can do that which he speaketh in words.
To trauell in this countrey is not onely miserable and vncomfortable for lacke of townes and villages to harbour in when night commeth, and to refresh men with wholesome victuals in time of need, but also such scarsitie of water, that sometime in three dayes iourney together, is not to be found any drop fit for man or beast to drinke, besides the great danger we stand in for robbing by these infidels, who doe account it remission of sinnes to wash their hands in the blood of one of vs. Better it is therefore in mine opinion to continue a beggar in England during life, then to remaine a rich Merchant seuen yeeres in this Countrey, as some shall well find at their comming hither.
His voyage to Gilan. By commandement of the Agent also I went to Gilan, as well to see what harbor was there for your ship, as also to vnderstand what commoditie is there best sold, and for what quantitie. I found the way from hence so dangerous and troublesome, that with my pen I am not able to note it vnto you: no man trauelleth from hence thither, but such poore people as need constraineth to buy Rice for their reliefe to liue vpon, and they lay not aboue twentie batmans vpon a catter, and it lieth no lower then the skirts of the saddle, and he escapeth very hardly that commeth there with the same.
The towne of Laighon, which was the chiefest place in all that land, haue I seen, and Langro and Rosar also, which be now ouerrun by the Shaugh and his power, and be so spoiled, and the people so robbed, that not one of them is able to buy one karsie. The best commoditie there to bee bought, is raw silke, and is sold in the Summer time for 38. shaughs the Laighon batman, which is litle aboue 40. li. waight, and for ready money: also there is to bee had what store of Alom you will, and sold there for one bisse the Teueris batman.
The malice of the Turkish merchants. In these partes be many Turkie merchants resident, which giue an outward shew, as though they were glad of our comming hither, but secretly they be our mortall enemies, searching by all meanes to hinder our sales, because we should the sooner giue ouer our trade thither, which in processe of time I hope will growe to better perfection. They wish vs to go to Hallape with the rest of our commodities vnsold, where they say we shall haue good intertainment in spight of the great number of Venetians which be there resident, and the custome but two in the hundred, and our karsies to be sold presently, had we neuer so many, for twelue duckets, which maketh of this money 165. shaughs: but by such as know the place, market and custome, it is reported to vs credibly to the contrary, and that such karsies as ours be, are not sold for aboue 8. duckets there: the custome thirtie in the hundred and more, that no place in the world so well furnished with good cloth and karsies, and of so braue colour as that place is, supposing it to bee craftily purposed of them, to bring vs into trouble, which God defend vs from.
The price of spices. The price of spices be these, at this present enhansed by reason the way is shut to Ormus, which when God shall send open, I purpose (God willing) to see, and at my returne to aduertise the worshipfull what benefit is there to be had in all points, so neere as I can learne: Pepper 25. shaughs the Teueris batman: Cloues 50. shaughs, Long pepper 25. shaughs, Maces large 50. shaughs, Ginger 24. shaughs, ready money all, or els looke not vpon them. And the best sort of rawe silke is sold for 60. shaughs the Teueris batman. Thus for want of further matter to inlarge, I ende for this time, beseeching God to preserue you in continuall health.
By your obedient seruant,
Last updated Monday, March 24, 2014 at 19:54