Robert Knox’s Journeys: Producing His Book …. Two

Thiru Arumugam, in The Ceylankan, Vol 25/1, Feb. 2022, where the title reads “A Three Hundred and Forty-Year Book-about-Ceylon”

Captain Robert Knox (1642-1720) of the East India Company
*oil on canvas
*126 x 102.8 cm
*inscribed b.l.: AEtat: 66
*inscribed b.l.: P: Trampon : Pinx (on the chair)
*inscribed c.r.: R: Knox: (on the quadrant)
*inscribed c.r.: Memoires of my owne Life: 1708 (on the notebook)


The Tonqueen Merchant: Meanwhile Sir Josiah Child had been promoted as Governor of the East India Company. Knox met him on 12 May 1681 and asked for employment in the Company. Child told him that a new 130 ton ship to be named the Tonqueen Merchant was being built. It would need a crew of 25 and Knox would be the Captain. It would be ready to sail by September and the first destination would be the port of Tonqueen in China, hence the name. Knox would remain in command of this ship for the next thirteen years, making four voyages to the East Indies. The ship set sail about 04 September 1681, a few days after Historical Relation was published.

Knox took with him the interleaved copy of Historical Relation and during the voyage he started filling in on the blank sheets additional information about Ceylon. The ship reached Batavia in May 1682 and then sailed on to Tonqueen in China. The ship was being manoeuvred into the harbour when it violently hit a sandbank. Eight members of the crew died in the accident. Knox spent a few months in Tonqueen purchasing Chinese goods. He then returned via Batavia, reaching London on 29 August 1683 to a warm reception as a famous author, as his book had now sold out. Even King Charles II had read the book and wanted to meet him to discuss the book. Knox was given a royal audience in December 1683.

Sir Josiah Child arranged for the Tonqueen Merchant to be lengthened by 12 feet, increasing the ship from 130 tons to 160 tons. The reason for enlarging the ship became apparent when Knox got his sailing orders in April 1684. He was given orders to sail to Madagascar and buy 250 slaves for the East India Company and take them to sell off in St Helena to work in the plantations. The volcanic island of St Helena was a British colony in the South Atlantic, 1000 miles west of Angola.

Knox set sail on 05 May 1684. The ship was now fitted with 18 guns and had a crew of 33 men. He also had with him the interleaved manuscript of his book in which he continued to insert additional material for a second edition. Off the coast of South Africa, he encountered a violent storm and he had no option but to cut the main mast to save the ship. He arrived in Madagascar in November 1684 and established contact with the local King Rybassa to buy 250 slaves which would be paid for with arms, ammunition and brandy. However, the King was able to supply only 50 slaves and Knox sailed off with them to St Helena.

In St Helena the slaves were sold off for about 14 Pounds each to the plantation owners and a replacement main mast fitted to the ship. On the evening of 29 May 1685, he was standing on the beach and signalling to the ship to send a boat for him to get onto the ship, when he was amazed to see the ship hoist anchor and sail off without him. The crew had mutinied and were sailing off with the ship. The tragic loss for Knox was that the manuscript of the second edition of the book was in his cabin. At a subsequent inquiry by the Company, crew members said that the reason for the mutiny was the poor food provided on the ship. They said that just because the Captain had been a captive in Ceylon and lived on turnip tops for 19 years he could not give similar food to the crew!

Knox waited in St Helena for the next Company ship bound for England. Surprisingly the ship turned out to be the Caesar, the same ship in which he had sailed from Bantam to London five years ago. Knox arrived in Plymouth Harbour and was standing on the bridge when he saw a ship sail in which looked remarkably like the Tonqueen Merchant, but the ship suddenly turned around and sailed off. Knox made some inquiries and he heard that when the crew of that ship heard that the Caesar had just arrived from St Helena they had turned around. Knox was now certain that the ship was indeed the Tonqueen Merchant. He got in touch with the Company in London and they told him that it was indeed the Tonqueen Merchant and that the ship had been abandoned in Cowes in the Isle of Wight.

The Company informed Knox to proceed to Cowes and recover the ship. Knox went to Cowes and found that the mutineers had looted the ship but amazingly his manuscript of the second edition of Historical Relation was safe and sound in his cabin to his great relief. Knox met Sir Josiah Child who insisted that he remain in command of the Tonqueen Merchant although Knox felt that he had let down the Company by allowing a mutiny to occur.

Meanwhile the Company had declared war on the native rulers Of India and the Tonqueen Merchant was fitted out with additional guns, making a total of 24 and also accommodation included for 30 soldiers.  The ship sailed out as a privateer, a form of licensed piracy and sailed for Bombay with instructions to commandeer any Indian vessels that he might encounter. He commandeered an Indian vessel but due to the prevailing winds he had to take the ship to Persia. As there was an ongoing war he could not do much trading with India so after loading a cargo of coffee and pepper from the Malabar coast he set sail for England returning in 1688.

Knox’s final voyage in the Tonqueen Merchant was in 1690 when he was instructed to go to Madagascar and purchase slaves and take them to Bencoolen in Sumatra and bring back a cargo of pepper. He sailed out from England on 07 January 1690. In Madagascar he purchased about 100 slaves and sailed for Sumatra arriving there in December 1690 where the slaves were sold. On his return voyage he called at Madras and Calcutta and loaded more goods. He started his return voyage and arrived at Cork in Ireland on 23 December 1693 and then made his way from there to Plymouth. The Company sold the cargo that Knox had brought for the princely sum of 90,000 Pounds.

Life in England

On his return to England, he found that the Company had changed its policy regarding allowing Captains of their ships doing trade on their account and expense during their voyages. In future, the only income for the Captain would be his wages. Knox therefore decided to call it a day and resigned from the Company.

Knox decided to spend his time writing the manuscript of the second edition of Historical Relation. There were two points of view regarding the additional contents of the second edition. Scientists like Hooke and Historians asked for more information about Ceylon whereas Knox’s family and friends wanted more biographical information about Knox’s life after his escape from Ceylon. To meet these conflicting requirements, Knox continued to write about Ceylon in the manuscript that he already had with him, and in addition he asked the Printer Chiswell to bind another interleaved copy of Historical Relation with blank pages. In the latter copy he would write his autobiography about his life after Ceylon, this to be published after his death.

Knox completed the first draft of his autobiography in 1696. He also had himself painted and engraved by Robert White, the picture to be a frontispiece illustration for the autobiographical book. This picture can be seen in Fig. 7. Below the picture is a poem written by Hooke which reads as follows:

See Knox’es Aspect here by White designd

Peruse his book thou’lt better see his Mind.

Captive, like Jacob’s Ofspring, long detaind.

Like them at last by Grace he Freedom Gaind.

Parting for Spoils they Egypts Jewels took.

He Ceylon’s left yet strange they’r in his Book.

                                         Robert Hooke 1695


Knox completed the manuscript of the second edition. Robert Hooke also went through it carefully and made numerous corrections and additions. It was then sent to Richard Chiswell for printing. To their surprise, Chiswell declined to publish it saying that it was lengthy and cumbersome. Knox had now spent four years in London and decided that it was time to go to sea again.

He was appointed Captain of a 500 ton ship Mary which had a crew of 100 men. It was a private ship not belonging to the East India Company. He sailed from England on 03 May 1698 with the first stop in Cadiz and then on to Surat in the East Indies. The ship stopped very briefly in Colombo and then went on to Cochin where he met a Dutch sailor. The sailor said that he could arrange to send a letter from Knox to his fellow captives still in Ceylon. Knox wrote the letter and he also enclosed a miniature of Robert White’s engraving of Knox, to be given to Lucea, the girl whom he had adopted in Ceylon. It is not known whether the letter and enclosure ever reached its destination.

Retired life

The ship Mary returned to London in 1700, the voyage had been a financial failure. Knox was now sixty years old and decided that his seafaring days were over and he would live a retired life. His life can be divided into twenty-year blocks. The first twenty years of childhood, the next twenty years of captivity, then twenty years as a ship’s Captain and the final twenty years of retirement.

Five times during his life he was literally left with only the clothes on his back and had to start life all over again. The first time was in 1660 when he was taken captive in Kottiyar Bay. The second time was in 1664 when he was in the King’s palace and the rebellion took place and he became a beggar on the streets. The third time was in 1666 when he was forced out of his house in Dayaladahamuna Pattuva because the Dutch had a garrison nearby. The fourth time was in 1679 when he escaped to the Dutch Fort in Arippu, losing his house and land in Eladetta. The final time was in 1685 when his crew mutinied and sailed off with the Tonqueen Merchant, leaving Knox “poorer and more destitute than when I came out of my Ceylon captivity”.

For his retired life, Knox lodged with a family named Bartlett who lived in St Peter le Poer near the Hackney Marshes, where he was also given exclusive use of part of the garden attached to the house. He lived there for the rest of his life and he was happy in his life there.

Meanwhile his Publisher, Chiswell, passed away in 1711 and his partner Daniel Midwinter took over the business. Knox approached him about printing the second edition but Winter was not interested and said that the cost of paper was too high! It appears that the manuscript remained with Printer. Knox continued work on the other manuscript which contained the autobiography, updating it at intervals. In 1711 Knox wrote his will. Since he never married he did not have any direct descendants. He shared out his estate among his grand-nephews and grand-nieces and the Bartlett family. Regarding his manuscript with auto-biography, his will says: “I doe here by give to Knox Ward who beareth my Name viz: my Booke of Ceylon with Manuscripts of my own Life”. He bequeathed it to his grand-nephew Knox Ward because he bore his name, in the hope that it would be published one day. Perhaps, he was not particularly hopeful that it would ever be published because he wrote:

“These Notions & Contemplations I have scribbled one my owne paper, for my owne use, & to please myself, & wheather hereafter they are ever read by any one it is equially the same to me, as to a dead beast what use his skine is put to … for when the Soule is departed hence into the everlasting state, what matters it …”.

Knox died on 19 June 1720 at the age of 79 years, in the Bartlett home. As directed in his will, he was buried in the Wimbledon Churchyard, next to his mother. His father’s gravesite on the edge of the paddy fields of Bandara Koswatte does not have a gravestone, but the local villagers can even today point out the place where he is buried.

Daniel Defoe and Historical Relation

Daniel Defoe’s book “The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner” was published on 25 April 1719, about 38 years after Historical Relation. Defoe’s book is fiction but there are so many similarities between Crusoe’s life on a tropical island and Knox’s account of his captivity, that it is generally believed that Defoe was inspired by Historical Relation. The initial print run of Robinson Crusoe was 1000 copies but it sold out almost immediately. Within a year it was reprinted four times and also translated into many other languages.

Encouraged by the success of Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe then wrote another fictional book titled “The Life, Adventures and Pyracies of the Famous Captain Singleton” which was published in June 1720 a few days before Knox died. Unlike Robinson Crusoe which was about a fictional castaway, this book was about the adventures of a fictional pirateering ship’s captain and Defoe plagiarised large chunks from Knox. Singleton even visits Ceylon.

Katherine Frank has made an in-depth study of the subject in her 2011 book “Crusoe, Daniel Defoe, Robert Knox and the Creation of a Myth” where she says (pp 248-9):

“Defoe then quotes, or more accurately plagiarises, directly from the 1681 edition of Knox’s Historical Relation. He copies, almost word for word, large chunks of Knox’s narrative between pages 117 and 165, inserting, here and there, brief linking passages to stitch the long extracts together. Eight pages of Captain Singleton come straight out of Knox’s book”.

History of the two Manuscripts

As mentioned earlier, Knox worked on two versions of the manuscripts of the proposed second edition of Historical Relation, neither of which was printed in his lifetime. It is interesting to see what happened to these two Manuscripts which disappeared from view for the best part of two hundred years.

The first manuscript was on a copy of the first edition specially interleaved with blank pages by the Publisher Chiswell on his own initiative and given to Knox in 1681 to write in all the changes he wanted to make in a second edition about the fauna, flora and history of Ceylon. Knox worked on this for many years and it went up and down to the Publisher many times and he finally completed it in 1713 but the Publisher was not satisfied and did not print it. When Knox died in 1720 the Manuscript was still with the Publisher.

The Manuscript then disappeared for about 170 years until it was acquired by Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks in the early 1890s. Franks was an ardent English collector of antiquarian objects and was one of the greatest collectors of his age. He joined the British Museum and became the Keeper of British and Medieval Antiquities. In 1895 he presented the Knox Manuscript to the British Museum. When he died in 1897, he bequeathed his entire massive private collection to the British Museum.

The Manuscript lay there unidentified and uncatalogued until 1925 when Franks’ successor and Keeper of the Ethnographical Department of the British Museum, H J Braunholtz identified it as the missing Knox second edition Manuscript. However, Braunholtz reported the discovery to the Trustees of the British Museum only in 1939. Braunholtz passed away in 1963 and the Manuscript is in the British Museum’s Christy Library.

Knox’s relations wanted him to write his autobiography so that he would be known in posterity for his exploits as a ship’s Captain, so around 1700, Knox asked his Publisher to bind another copy of Historical Relation with blank sheets so that he could insert autobiographical notes for future publication. He worked on this for the rest of his life and in his will he bequeathed this Manuscript to his grand-nephew Knox Ward who was about 16 years old when Robert Knox died. Knox Ward never married and died in 1741 when he was 37 years old, and the book remained unpublished. Knox Ward’s belongings were sold soon afterwards and the Manuscript was purchased by Bishop Richard Rawlinson.

Rawlinson, who was educated at St John’s College, Oxford, was a Clergyman and an antiquarian collector of books and manuscripts. When he died in 1755 he bequeathed his entire collection of 5205 manuscripts, including the Knox Manuscript, to the Bodleian Library in the University of Oxford. This Library is the second largest Library in the UK after the British Library and today holds 13 million items. When Rawlinson bequeathed his collection of 5205 manuscripts in 1755, the Library was hopelessly understaffed and the Knox Manuscript lay unidentified and unclassified for about 150 years. It was only in 1910 that the Manuscript was identified as Knox’s autobiographical second edition Manuscript. It has remained in the Bodleian Library since then.

This Manuscript has an interesting insertion on the first interleaved page (see Fig. 8). On top an unknown hand has written in Latin “Liber olim Knox Ward armigeri Clarenceux Armorum Rex”. The translation of this is “A book formerly (of) Knox Ward, arms bearer (of) Clarenceux King of Arms”. Knox Ward was Clarenceux King of Arms from 1726 till he died in 1741.The College of Arms in London was founded in 1420 and still exists. It is the official repository of the Coats of Arms and is the Office regulating heraldry and the grant of new armorial bearings. Below this is an insertion in Robert Knox’s own handwriting which reads as follows. Note that he uses the word ‘one’ instead of ‘on’ and that his father was also Robert Knox:

“This Booke was wrote by mee Robert Knox (the sonn of Robert Knox who died one the Iland of Zelone) when I was aboute 39 years of Age. I was taken prisoner one Zelone, 4th Aprill, 1660.  I was borne one Tower hill in London, 8th Feb. 1641. My Age when taken was, 19 years: 1 month : & 27 dayes.  Continewed prisoner thare 19 years 6 month 14 dayes  So I was a prisoner thare 4 Month & 17 dayes, longer then I had lived in the world before, & one the 18 October 1679 God set mee free from that Captivity, being then with the Hollanders at Arepa fort to whome be all Glory & prayse.”

Robert Knox, 1696 in London

Versions of  Historical Relation

Historical Relation was not reprinted during Knox’s lifetime, and not for nearly the following hundred years. Since then, there has been a steady stream of versions of his book published both in the UK as well as in Ceylon. In recent years with the advent of print-on-demand facilities, the stream has become a torrent with reprints of reprints. There have also been three Sinhala translations of Historical Relation.

In 1817 Robert Fellowes under the pen name ‘Philalethes’ published a 383 page ‘History of Ceylon’ to which was attached Historical Relation. This was printed by J Mawman in London. This was followed almost immediately afterwards in 1818 by ‘An Account of the Captivity of R Knox’ which was printed for J Hatchard, Booksellers to the Queen. In 1911 the Publishers, James MacLehose of Glasgow brought out a version of Historical Relation edited by James Ryan, who was formerly resident in Ceylon. This 459 page book included Knox’s autobiography for the first time, taken from the manuscript in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

There have also been versions produced by Ceylonese writers. In 1948, E F C Ludowyk, who had a PhD in English from the University of Cambridge and was Professor of English at the University of Ceylon wrote a 175 page book titled “Robert Knox in the Kandyan Kingdom” which was published by the Oxford University Press. The book was based on the 1681 edition of Historical Relation but does not include the full text of Knox’s original work.

In 1958, S D Saparamadu (Ceylon Civil Service) published his version of Historical Relation. It included the introductory pages of Knox’s autobiography. It was published by Saman Press, Maharagama and had 304 pages. H A I Goonetileke who was the Librarian, University of Peradeniya and author of the ‘Bibliography of Ceylon’ brought out his version of Historical Relation based on the 1681 edition. It was 189 pages long and published by Navrang Booksellers and Publishers, New Delhi in 1995. It will be noted that none of the above versions, whether published in UK or Ceylon, contained the material in Knox’s second edition manuscript which is in the British Museum Library, but this was remedied in 1989 when J H O Paulusz published his version of Historical Relation  and this is the most comprehensive version and he was entitled to call it the ‘Second Edition’ of Historical Relation.

J H O Paulusz and the ‘Second Edition’ of Historical Relation

Jan Hendrick Oliver Paulusz was born in Colombo on 21 September 1900. He studied at Royal College where his father was a Teacher. He was awarded the Shakespeare Prize in Royal College in 1917. In 1920, a year before the Ceylon University College was founded in 1921, he was awarded a Government Scholarship to proceed to UK for undergraduate studies. He obtained a BA degree from the University of London and an MA from the University of Oxford. When he was in Oxford it is quite possible that he would have seen Knox’s second edition manuscript which was in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Returning to Colombo in 1928 he joined the Archives Section in the Chief Secretary’s Office. He retired from government service in 1956 as Government Archivist, after which he served as Ceylon’s Ambassador in Indonesia.

As we have seen, H J Braunholtz of the British Museum reported the identification of Knox’s second edition Manuscript to the Trustees of the British Museum in 1939. He immediately set to work on preparing for printing a second edition of Historical Relation with the help of H W Codrington. The latter was educated at Oxford and was a member of the Ceylon Civil Service, retiring in 1932. He was the author of ‘Short History of Ceylon’ which was published in 1929. However, World War II intervened and no progress was made and Codrington passed away in 1942.

Paulusz was sent to London to work in the Public Record Office from July 1948 to September 1949. It is likely that he met Braunholtz at that time and the two of them started collaborating on the second edition. In 1955 the Hakluyt Society agreed to sponsor the publication of the second edition. The Hakluyt Society is a text publication Society founded in 1846 in London. It publishes editions of historic voyages from primary sources. It is named after Richard Hakluyt (1552-1616) a collector and editor of narratives of voyages, To date, the Society has published over 200 editions. However, Braunholtz passed away in 1963 and Paulusz had to continue to work on the second edition on his own. Progress by Paulusz was very slow and in the late 1970s the Hakluyt Society abandoned the idea of the Society publishing the second edition.

In the second edition, Paulusz was determined to incorporate the contents of both of Knox’s manuscripts, the British Museum version which came from Knox’s Publisher as well as the autobiographical version which came via Knox Ward. This would include virtually every word that Knox had written on the subject. The net result was a two-volume work running to a total of over 1200 pages compared with Knox’s first edition of 189 pages. The flyleaf of the second edition has the following note:

“The Second Edition includes all additional material written by Robert Knox for his second edition during the years 1681 to 1713 and hitherto unpublished. It also includes all the glosses inserted by Knox between the lines of the printed text. There have been numerous editions of Knox’s book in many languages and in many forms in the 308 years between his first edition and the second”.

The first volume of the second edition has a total of 524 pages. The bulk of this volume is a 470 page long rambling ‘Introduction to the Second Edition’ written by Paulusz. This is not only an introduction to the book, it is also a detailed history of the Kandyan Kingdom in the seventeenth century. The second volume has a total of 740 pages, out of which the body of the text of Historical Relation about his life in captivity takes up 476 pages compared with 189 pages in the first edition. This shows the amount of additional material inserted by Knox in the interleaved pages for the second edition. The main text is followed by ‘The Epilogue or Autobiography’ written by Knox and taking up 158 pages. This is about his life after he left Ceylon and includes his adventures as a ship’s Captain working for the East India Company.

Paulusz has very thoughtfully used different fonts for the different components of the second edition so that the reader can easily identify the source of any part of the text. Material which previously appeared in the 1681 first edition as well as the autobiography are in 10 point Times New Roman. Material written for the second edition by Knox and hitherto unpublished is in 12 point Times New Roman. The interpolations in Knox’s material by Robert Hooke (identified by different handwriting in the Manuscript) is in 12 point Times New Roman Bold type.

Tisara Prakasakayo Ltd of Dehiwala were the Printers and Publishers of the second edition. The Chairman of this firm at the time the book was published in 1989 was S D Saparamadu, formerly of the Ceylon Civil Service, who himself previously published a version of Historical Relation in 1958. He was therefore fully sympathetically aware of what was required in the production of the second edition.

A great deal is owed to Paulusz for his monumental effort spread out over 60 years in collecting, collating and editing the second edition and writing a 470 page Introduction. He was 89 years old when the book finally came out in 1989.  He has added greatly to our knowledge about the Kandyan Kingdom in the seventeenth century and his book has been the primary source of information for this article.



This Appendix gives some extracts from the second edition of Historical Relation to give a flavour of the book.


  1. Take a Ploughman from the Plough, and wash off his dirt, and he is fit to rule a Kingdom. Spoken of the People of Cande Uda [High lands], where there are such eminent persons of the Hondrew [Handuru] rank: because of their Civility, Understanding, and Gravity among the poorest of them. Particularly ment of the People of Eude Nure and Yattanure [Udunuwara and Yatinuwara], whare many of them are related to Noble families.
  2. Miris dilah, ingurah gotta. I have given Pepper, and got Ginger. Spoken when a man makes a bad exchange. And they use it in reference to the Dutch succeeding the Portuguese in their Island.


There is another fruit, which we call Jacks, The Inhabitants, when they are young call them Polos, before they be full ripe Cose; and when ripe, Warracha or Vellas; But with this difference, the Warracha is hard, but the Vellas as soft as pap, both looking alike to the eye no difference; but they are distinct Trees.

The small fruit when they as bigg as large Cowcumbrs they pare of the outward prickely rine [rind] and take out the core that is in the middle thare of, and cut it into small peeces and boyle it tell soft-then very good to eate with butter or ground Cocornut or mixed with ground Mustard will keepe 7 or 8 dayes, which they so prepare to Carry with them to eate with theire rice.

The understanding of Elephants:

As he is the greatest in body, so in understanding also. For he will do anything that his Keeper bids him, which is possible for a beast not having hands to do. And as the Chingulayes report, they bear the greatest love to their young of all irrational Creatures; for the Shees are alike tender of any one’s young ones as of their own: where there are many She Elephants together, the young ones go and suck of any, as well as of their Mothers.

Appeals against Court Convictions:

They [the accused] may appeal to the Adigars, or the Chief Justices of the Kingdom. But whoso gives the greatest Bribe, he shall overcome. For it is a common saying in this Land, That he that has money to fee the Judge, needs not fear or care, whether his cause be right or not. The greatest Punishment that these Judges can inflict upon the greatest Malefactors, is but Imprisonment. From which money will release them. Centence of death comes from none but the King.


          Here is no wooing for a Wife. The Parents commonly make the Match, and in their choice commonly more regard the Quality and Descent than the Beauty. If they are agreed, all is done. The Match being thus made, the Man carrieth or sends to the Woman her Wedding Cloths; which is a cloth containing six or seven yards in length, and a Linnen Waistcoat wrought with Blew or Red. If the man is so poor that he cannot buy a Cloth, it is the Custom to borrow one. (See Figs. 9 and 10).

Work that can be done by a Gentleman:

          Nor is it held any disgrace for Men of the greatest Quality to do any work either at home or in the Field, if it be for themselves; but to work for hire with them is reckoned to be a great shame: and very few are here to be found that will work so; But he that goes under the Notion of a Gentleman may dispense with all works, except carrying, that he must get a man to do when there is occasion. For carrying is accounted the most Slave-like work of all.

Thou or You:

They have seven or eight words for Thou or You, which apply to persons according to their quality, or according as they would honour them. And they are so: To, Topi, Umba, Umbela, Tomnai, Tomsi, Tomsela, Tomnanxi. All these words are gradually one higher than the other.

Receiving Gifts:

          When one proffers something as a gift to another, altho it be a thing that he is willing to have, and would be glad to receive, yet he will say, ‘E eppa queinda’, No, I thank you; how can I be so chargeable to you? And in the same time while the words are in his mouth, he reacheth forth his hand to receive it.

They have certain words of Form and Civility, that they use upon occasion. When they come to another man’s house, and they ask him what he came for, and they answer Nicam, I come for nothing, which is their ordinary reply, though they do come for something.

Writing Documents:

          They write not on Paper, for of that they have little or none; but on a Talli-pot leaf with an Iron Bodkin, which makes an impression. This leaf thus written on, is not folded, but rolled up like a Ribbond, and somewhat resembles Parchment.

All that is written for the Kings buisnesse is wrote only on leaves, for they never write on paper neither have they any. This manner of writing or ingraving on leaves is far more dureable than on paper, for if it be wett with watere it will take no harme.

Mourning for the dead:

Their manner of mourning for the dead is, that all the Women that are present do loose their hair, and let it hang down, and with their two hands together behind their heads do make a hideous noise, crying and roaring as loud as they can, much praysing and extolling the Virtues of the deceased, tho there were none in him. Mean while the men stand still and sigh.

       ****** Cconcluded **************

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One response to “Robert Knox’s Journeys: Producing His Book …. Two

  1. K. K. De Silva

    A fascinating story about Knox’ s life, his manuscripts & the role of J. H. O. Paulusz in bringing out the 2nd edition of Knox’s book.

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