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The fourth voyage into Persia, made by M. Arthur Edwards Agent, John 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.

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 understand that your Agent M. Arthur Edwards and we departed from Yeraslave in July 1568. and the 14. of August arrived 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 us for the bringing of her in, & unlading of the goods, nor yet so obedient to the Shaughs privilege, as the worshipfull company have bene informed. Our goods brought upon land, we were compelled to open & sel as they would set the price, or otherwise it would have bene worse for us. 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 all maner of commodities by occasion of our late comming, and by such as came before us, that no man would aske to buy any one piece of karsie of us, and lying then the space of one whole moneth before your Agent Arthur Edwards would disperse us abroade with the goods, such as came out of Russia afterwardes, had brought their goods to that and other places, and spoyled those sales wee might have made, being sent abroad in time convenient, being no little hinderance to the worshipfull, as also great griefe unto us to see. To conclude, through our dayly calling upon him, he bent himselfe for Casbin, taking with him the greatest summe of the goods, and two of the worshipfuls servants, to witte, John Sparke and my selfe, to helpe and procure the better sale for the same: and leaving 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 returne from Casbin, which, so farre foorth as I can understand,lie for the greatest part unsolde. And being upon 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 Teveris, called the principal place in this countrey for uttering of cloth or karsies, by much intreatie I perswaded your Agent to send thither to proove what might be done, and receiving 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 travell unto Venice and there buy them, so that no man offered me one penie more then a hundred and fourtie shawghs for a karsie: and having speciall commission and charge from your Agent not to stay there above the space of seven dayes after my arrivall there, but to repaire to Casbin with all speed, and furthermore, having regard to keepe up 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: neverthelesse, 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 have 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.

It chanced me in that place to meet with the governours merchant of Grozin, who was not a litle desirous to bargen with me for a hundred pieces of karsies for his master called Levontie, and offering me so good bands for the paiment of the money or silke to the merchants contentment upon the delivery 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 priviledge for the worshipful to travel into all parts of his dominion, as the Shaugh had given 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 deliverie of the karsies there, having 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 devised: and upon the same I sent my Tolmach from me backe to Shamaki, with such goods as I bought at Teveris, and to the end hee might cause the worshipfuls servants there to see this bargen accomplished. At whose arrivall there, as I do perceive, 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 this countrey, with whomsoever you shal bargen. If the ware be bought, and they doe mislike it afterwards, they will bring it againe, and compel you to deliver the money for it againe, regarding the Shawghs letters, which manifesteth the contrary, as a straw in the winde: by meanes whereof, the worshipfu11 may know whether all be true that hath bene written of this countrey people or not.

I am informed by all the brokers in Teveris, 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 Teveris, 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 up 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 perceive.

To breake the trade betwixt the Venetians and the whole company of the Armenians it is not possible, unlesse the worshipful will finde some meanes to receive of them yerely to the number of 100. catters or mules lading, and deliver them for the same one third part money, the rest cloth and karsies fitted in coulers meete for this countrey: the examples, as abovesaid, are sent unto you.

At Amadia sixe dayes journey from Teveris, grow abundance of galles, which are brought up yerely by the Venetians, and be solde there for two bistes the Teveris bateman, which as your Agent here saith, maketh sixe pound English weight, but I doubt it wil not so be proved. Neverthelesse it is supposed much good will bee done by buying of them: which might at this present have partly bene proved, if so be that some could do but halfe that which hath bene written.

Touching drugges, I finde many as well at Teveris, as also in Casbin, but the goodnesse nothing like to such as be brought into England out of other places: & 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 have bene, if some would, I would have bought some, to the ende the goodnesse of them might have 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 given out (as your Agent saith) that ye Shaugh would buy all such commodities as he had, and give him silke and spices for the same: but by report the Shaugh never 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 use to buy it: thus hoping of that which is not like to be had, hee hath driven off the time, not sending to any other places: by means whereof the worshipfuls goods lie unsold to this day to their great hinderance, which I for my part am not a litle sory to see.

Babylon is from hence fifteene dayes journey, 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 unto us might easily have bene knowen, if hee, whose deeds and sayings differ much, had bene willing to the same. Cassan also is but seven dayes journey from hence, & a place by report where most store of spices be at all times to be had, over and above any place in this countrey: it could not be granted by him to be seen and prooved 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 travell in this countrey is not onely miserable and uncomfortable 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 journey 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 us. Better it is therefore in mine opinion to continue a beggar in England during life, then to remaine a rich Merchant seven yeeres in this Countrey, as some shall well find at their comming hither.

By commandement of the Agent also I went to Gilan , as well to see what harbor was there for your ship, as also to understand 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 unto you: no man travelleth from hence thither, but such poore people as need constraineth to buy Rice for their reliefe to live upon, and they lay not above twentie batmans upon 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, have I seen, and Langro and Rosar also, which be now overrun by the Shaugh and his power, and be so spoiled, & 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 above 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 Teveris batman.

In these partes be many Turkie merchants resident, which give 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 give over our trade thither, which in processe of time I hope will growe to better perfection. They wish us to go to Hallape with the rest of our commodities unsold, where they say we shall have 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 never so many, for twelve duckets, which maketh of this money 165. shaughs: but by such as know the place, market and custome, it is reported to us credibly to the contrary, and that such karsies as ours be, are not sold for above 8. duckets there: the custome thirtie in the hundred and more, that no place in the world is so well furnished with good cloth and karsies, and of so brave colour as that place is, supposing it to bee craftily purr posed of them, to bring us into trouble, which God defend us from.

The price of spices be these, at this present enhansed by reason ye way is shut to Ormus, which when God shal send open, I purpose (God willing) to see, and at my returne to advertise the worshipful what benefit is there to be had in all points, so neere as I can learne: Pepper 25. shaughs the Teveris batman: Cloves 50. shaughs, Long pepper 25. shaughs, Maces large 50. shaughs, Ginger 24. shaughs, ready money all, or els looke not upon them. And the best sort of rawe silke is sold for 60. shaughs the Teveris batman. Thus for want of further matter to inlarge, I ende for this time, beseeching God to preserve you in continuall health.

By your obedient servant, Lawrence Chapman.

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