The man who broke Jahangir’s favourite dish

The East India Company agent, Sir William Hawkins, recalls an unfortunate accident that befell one his friends.

It happened to one who was a great friend of mine (a chiefe man, having under his charge the Kings ward-robe and all woollen cloath, and all sorts of mercery, and his China dishes), that a faire China dish (which cost ninetie rupias or fortie five rials of eight) was broken in this my friends time by a mischance (when the King was in his progresse), being packed amongst other things on a cammell, which fell and broke all the whole parcell.

This nobleman, knowing how deerely the King loved this dish above the rest, presently sent one of his trusty servants to China-machina [China] over land to seeke for another, hoping that, before he should remember that dish, he would returne with another like unto it ; but his evill lucke was contrarie, for the King two yeares after remembred this dish, and his man was not yet come.

Now when the King heard that the dish was broken, he was in a great rage, commanding him to be brought before him and to be beaten by two men with two great whips made of cords ; and after that he had received one hundred and twenty of these lashes, he commanded his porters, who be appointed for that purpose, to beate him with their small cudgels, till a great many of them were broken ; at the least twenty men were beating of him, till the poore man was thought to bee dead, and then he was haled out by the heeles and commaunded to prison.

The next day the King demaunded whether he was living ; answer was made that he was ; whereupon he commanded him to be carried unto perpetuall prison. But the Kings Sonne, being his friend, freed him of that and obtained of his father that he might bee sent home to his owne house and there be cured. So after two moneths he was reasonably well recovered and came before the King, who presently commanded him to depart the court and never come againe before him untill he had found such a like dish, and that hee travell for China-machina to seeke it. The King allowed him five thousand rupias towards his charges, and besides returning one fourth part of his living that he had before, to maintaine him in his travell. He being departed and fourteene moneths on his travell, was not yet come home; but newes came of him that the King of Persia had the like dish and for pitties sake hath sent it him.

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