THE LIFE OF THE AUTHOR
By the Translator
He went from Prussia into Sweden, where his learning and discreet behaviour quickly brought him into great reputation, both at the University of Upsal, and at the Court of Charles XI. a munificent Patron of men of learning, insomuch that very advantageous offers were made him towards an establishment 1n that Kingdom, which he thought fit to decline, desirous as he always was of seeing foreign Countries, and chose to prefer the place of Secretary of the Embassy, which the Court of Sweden was then sending to the King of Persia. The main design of this Embassy was to settle a Commerce between the Kingdoms of Sweden and Persia, though at the instances of the Emperor Leopold, the Ambassador, Luis Fabritius, had orders, by a separate article, to engage, if possible, the King of Persia to a rupture with the Ottoman Porte. As the first and chief, the settling of a Commerce, could not well be erected, unless their Czarian Majesties (Iwan and Peter, who then jointly governed the Russian Empire) would consent to give passage to the European as well as Persian Commodities, through their dominions, upon reasonable terms, the Ambassador was order'd first of all to repair to the Court of Moscow, and there to make an agreement concerning that matter. It is foreign to my present purpose, to enter either into the design or success of M. Fabritius his negotiations, any farther than it will lead me to follow Dr. Kaempfer through Muscovy into Persia.
He set out from Stockholm, with the presents for the King of Persia, on the 20th of March 1683, O. S. and went through Aaland, Finland, and Ingermanland to Narva, where he met the Ambassador with a retinue of thirty persons. A mistake in the Ambassadors Credentials, [xxxvii] where the name of the King of Persia was through inadvertency put before that of their Czarian Majesties, and the unwillingness of the Waywode of Novogorod, to furnish the necessary expences to conduct and defray him, with his retinue, pursuant to the tenour of the Treaties subsisting betwveen the two Crowns, detain'd them upon the borders of Russia a considerable time: But these difficulties having been at last amicably adjusted, M. Fabritius pursued his journey through Novogorod to Moscow, where he made his publick entry on the 7th of July, and was admitted to an audience of their Czarian Majesties on the 11th.
M. Fabritius having finish'd his Negotiations at the Russian Court in something less than two months, set out from Moscow on his way to Persia, falling down the Rivers Mosco, Occa and Wolga, to Casan and Astracan, two considerable towns, and the Capitals of two powerful Kingdoms, which were conquer'd and annex'd to the Russian Empire by that heroick Prince Iwan Basilowitz. After a dangerous passage over the Caspian Sea, where they were like to have been lost, through the violence of an unexpected storm, and the unskilfulness of their Pilots, (the ship having two Rudders, and consequently two Pilots, who did not understand each other's language) they got safe to the Coasts of Persia, and landed at Nisabad, where they staid for some time, living under tents after the manner of the natives. Two other Ambassadors to the Persian Court, one from the King of Poland, and another from their Czarian Majesties, having landed at Nisabad much about the same time, they proceeded jointly to Siamachi, the Capital of the Province of Schirwan, in the Media of the Ancients, or, as it is now call'd, Georgia, where they arrived about the middle of December, and staid till the Governor of that Town and Province had sent notice of their arrival to the Persian Court, and received orders from thence after what manner they were to be treated, and which way to be sent to Court. Dr. Kaempfer, in the mean time, [xxxviii] did not sit idle, but went all about the neighbourhood of Siamachi, herborizing and observing what was remarkable in nature and art, so far as otherwise his affairs, and a successful and not improfitable practice of Physick, which the reputation of his being an European Physician quickly brought him into in that populous place, would permit. We should be still wanting that curious and accurate account, which he hath given us in his Amoenitates Exoticae, of the origin and fountains of the Naphta in the Peninsula Okesra, if he had not been at tlle pains to go and view them upon the spot. Few are sensible what a pleasure a Natural Historian receives, when some new and singular Phtnomenon in nature offers in places unfrequented. Dr. Kaempfer had the satisfaction of finding in that Median Peninsula even more than he look'd for, and instead of one he went to see, to meet, as he saith, with no less than seven wonders: The town of Baku on the Caspian Sea, the remaining monuments of Antiquity in the neighbourhood thereof, the fountains of Naphta, the burning field, boiling lake, a mountain which threw out a fine potters-earth, and some other singularities, truly many for so small a compass of ground, made him abundant amends for the trouble, and even the hazard of his excursion thither.
Upon the return of the expresses sent to the Court of Persia, M. Fabritius set out on his journey thither about the middle of January 1684, as did also the Polish and Russian Ambassadors with their retinues: but being order'd to travel different ways, the Swedish Embassy reach'd Ispahan, the Capital of Persia, some time before the others.
Schah Solyman, King of Persia, a Prince of a tender and sickly constitution, was then, by the advice of his Astrologers, under a sort of a voluntary confinement to his Palace. Apprehensive of the fatal consequences of a malignant constellation, they would not permit him to go abroad, and to appear in publick, till the 30th of July, on which day he treated his whole Court with the [xxxix] utmost splendor and magnificence. There were at that time several foreign Ambassadors at Ispahan, from the Kings of Sweden, poland and Siam, the Czars of Muscovy, several Arabian and Tartarian Princes, and some also with Letters Credentials from the Pope, the Emperor of Germany, and the King of France, who were severally admitted to audience on the same day, it being the custom of the Persian Kings not to let the Ambassadors of foreign Powers appear in their Royal Presence, but on some such solemn occasion as this was, in a full assembly of their numerous Court, and in the most pompous manner possible. M. Fabritius had the honour of being introduced to his audience before the rest, and indeed during the whole time of his abode at Ispahan) which was near two years, he had very particular and distinguishing honours shewn him, whereby it appear'd, that neither his person, nor business, had been disagreeable to the Persian Court. Dr. Kaempfer, whose curious and inquisitive disposition suffer'd nothing to escape unobserved, made all possible advantages of so long a stay in the Capital of the Persian Empire. His main and favourite enquiries indeed, here and every where in his travels, tended chiefly to the improvement of Physick and Natural History in their several branches, and he hath abundantly shewn, by his Amoenitates Exoticae, that his endeavours that way have not been unsuccessful. But he did not absolutely confine himself to this subject, though large and extensive enough: The Political History of a Country, the succession and remarkable actions of its Princes, the state of their Court and Government, their personal qualities, vices or vertues, the customs, manners, inclinations of the natives, their way of life, trade, commerce, the remains of antiquity, the modern buildings, whether sacred or civil, the flourishing or low condition of arts and sciences, and many other thlngs of the like kind, equally exercised his industry and attention. As to the Persian affairs in particular, he was not a little assisted in his researches by the Rev. F. du Mans, Prior of the Convent of [xl] Capuchins at Ispahan, who had served the Court of Persia, in quality of Interpreter, for thirty years and upwards, and had acquired, beyond any European before him, a thorough knowledge of the Persian language, government and customs, and a deeper insight into the state of that Court and Kingdom. And certainly, Dr. Kaempfer's account of Persia, (as deliver'd in his Amoenitates) for accuracy and preciseness may vye with the most considerable before or since.
M. Fabritius having brought his negotiations at the Persian Court to a conclusion, towards the latter end of 1685, and preparing to return into Europe, Dr. Kaempfer, for the reasons alledged in his Preface to this History of Japan, did not think fit to go back with him. He was indeed other'd the place of chief Physician to a Georgian Prince, with considerable appointments, but his inclination to travelling being not yet abated led him farther into the East, and the advice of Father du Mans, with whom he had contracted a particular amity, during his stay at Ispahan, with the reconamendations he obtain'd of M Fabritius, prevail'd upon him to enter into the service of the Dutch East-India Company, in quality of chief Surgeon to the Fleet, which was then cruizing in the Persian Gulph, a place, as he expresses himself ln one of his letters, less honourable indeed, but more adapted to the design of his travels.
He left Ispahan, on his journey to Gamron, or Benderabassi, a celebrated trading town on the Persian Gulph, in November 1685, and was honourably attended a mile out of town by the Ambassador's retinue. He made some stay at Sijras, both to make the necessary enquiries concerning the celebrated Persian wines, which owe their name to that town, and to visit the boasted remains of the ancient Persepolis, and the Royal Palace of Darius that noble structure, which fell a sacrifice to wine and wantonness, and whose scattered ruins are a still subsisting undeniable monument of its former splendor and greatness. [xli]
The unhealthiness of Gamron, for the sultry heat of the air, and the want of water, is such, that few Europeans can live there any considerable time, without great prejudice to their health; and even the natives are obliged, in the hot season, to retire up into the mountains. Dr. Kaempfer felt the effect of it soon after his arrival, falling into a malignant fever, of which he lay delirious for some days; however it pleased Providence to spare him: His fever abating, flung him into a dropsy, and that into a quartan ague, and 'twas by these dangerous and unusual steps he recovered his health, but not his former strength and vigour. As soon as he found himself in a condition to remove, he retired into the Country, for the change of air and the recovery of his strength, as well as in quest of new discoveries and observations, chiefly on those things which for the unhealthiness of the Climate, and other difficulties, had not been before throughly and so accurately enquired into.
To these his Summer expeditions, and retirement from Gamron, are owing: His account of the mountain Benna in the Province Laar, on the Gulph of Persia, of its plants and animals, of the precious Bezoar, and the animal in whose stomach it is found, of the singular hot baths, a native balsam, and other curiosities observed on that mountain, and in the neighbourhood thereof: His description of the Native Mummy, that most precious balsam, which sweats out of a rock, in the Province Daar, and is gathered once a year with great pomp and ceremony, for the sole use of the Persian King: His observations on the Asa Foetida, of the Plant yielding that substance, which grows only in Persia, and on the manner of gathering and preparing it: His observations of the Vena Medinensis o; Arabian writers, or Dracunculus, as he calls it, a singular worm bred between the interstices of the muscles, in several parts of the human body: His account of the Sanguis Draconis, I mean the true Eastern one, which he ascertains to be obtain'd from the fruit of a Coniferous Palm: His curious and accurate [xlii] History of the Palma Dactylifera, growing in Persia, its differing species, male and female, its culture, growth, preparation and uses, far beyond whatever was known of this singular Tree: With many other observations, equally curious and useful, which may perhaps one time or other be commullicated to the publick.
He did not leave Gamron till the latter end of June 1688. The Fleet, on board which he went, having orders to touch at most Dutch settlements in Arabia the Happy, the Great Mogul's Country, upon the Coasts of Malabar, in the island Ceylon, in the Gulph of Bengale, and the island of Sumatra, he had an opportunity of seeing all these several Countries, every where with the same spirit of industry, and the same thirst of knowledge. Had his stay there been greater, his observations also would have been more numerous.
He arrived at Batavia in September 1689, and staid there some months. This wealthy and populous town, the chief seat of the Dutch power in the Indies, was then already so well known, and had been so particularly described by preceding writers, that Dr. Kempter thought it altogether needless to make any enquiries concerning its rise and flourishing condition, its commodious and agreeable situation, its trade and riches, its power and government, and the like, any farther than it was requisite to satisfy his own curiosity. For this reason he turned his thoughts chiefly to the Natural History of that Country, a far nobler subject, and more suitable to his taste and capacity. The rich and curious garden of CorneIius van Outhoorn, who was then Director General of the Dutch East India Company, the garden of M. Moller, and the Island Eidam, which lies but a few leagues of Batavia, offer'd to his observation great numbers of rare and singular plants, native and foreign, many of them not known before, the description and figures whereof he intended to publish, together with many others observ'd by him in the course of his Travels, particularly in Persia. in the Island Cevlon, the Kingdom [xliii] of Siam, and the Empire of Japan, all which are now in the hands of Sir Hans Sloane. He had most certainly many qualifications necessary to make a good Botanist, a competent knowledge of that science, so far as it was improved in his time, a body enured to hardships, a great stock of industry and application, and which in my oplnion is no less material, an excellent hand at drawing. With all these advantages he did not barely confine himself to the curious part of this science, an accurate description of the plants and their parts, which though never so necessary, is yet thought too dry a subject by most readers. He endeavour'd to make his observations useful to mankind, and took a great deal of pains to enquire into the manifold uses of the Plants he describes, whether relating to Physick, Agriculture, Manufactures, and the like, as also into the way of cultivating and preparing them to make them serve for these severeral purposes. How happily he succeeded therein, the description of the Tea and PaperTree, which I have inserted lnto the Appendix to this History, to instance in no more, will sufficiently evince.
He set out from Batavia, on his voyage to Japan, in May 1690, in quality of Physician to the Embassy, which the Dutch East-India Company sends, once a year, to the Japanese Emperor's Court: And in order to make all possibIe advantages of this voyage, he obtain'd leave to go on board that Ship, which was order'd to touch at Siam, that thereby he might have an opportunity of seeing also that Kingdom. The observations he made in the course of this voyage, in the Kingdom of Siam, and afterwards during two years abode in the Empire of Japan, being the subject of this present work, it is needless here to enlarge on the same. Japan was not only the last Eastern Country he intended to visit, but also that which he had been long desirous to see, and always looked upon as a deserving subject for a laborious enquiry. The scarce superable difficulties, enough to deter even the most industrious, spurr'd him on to more painful searches, and he willingly sacrifced his time, art and money, to procure, [xliv] for himself and others, a thorough information of a Country, of which, till then, no satisfactory account had been given: With what success he hath done it, is left to the publick to determine.
He quitted Japan, in order to his return into Europe, in November 1692, and Batavia in February 1693. He staid near a month at the Cape of Good Hope, and arrived at Amsterdam in the month of October following. In April 1694, he took his degree of Doctor in Physick at the University of Leyden, and on this occasion, as it is customary in foreign Universities, for Gentlemen aspiring to the like promotions, to give a publick proof of their ability, by what they call Inaugural Theses, he communicated to the learned world ten very singular and curious observations, he had made in foreign Countries, on the celebrated Agnus Scythica, or Borometz, a pretended Plant-Animal, which he shews to be a mere figment, occasioned, perhaps, by some affinity of the name Borometz, with Borannetz in the Russian, and Borannek in the Polish Language, whereby is denoted a particular kind of sheep about the Caspian Sea, in the Bulgarian Tartary and Chorasmia: On the bitter taste of the waters in the Caspian Sea: On the true Persian Native Mummy, called Muminahi: On the Torpedo, a singular fish, which benumbs the fingers of those who touch it: On the Sanguis Draconis made out of the fruit of a Coniferous Palm: On the Dracunculus, or Vena Medeni of Arabian writers: On the Andrum, a sort of Hydrocele, or watry rupture, and the Perical, an Ulcer in the Legs, two endemial distempers, among the Malabarians: On the Japanese way of curing the Colick by the Acupunctura, and on the Moxa, a Caustick in frequent use among the Chinese and Japanese.
Upon his return to his native Country, he intended forthwith to digest his Papers and written Memoirs into proper order, and to communicate to the publick what he had observed in his travels, and certainly, it would have been then the best time for it, when every thing [xlv] was as yet fresh in his mind: But his reputation and experience, and the honour which the Count de Lippe, his Sovereign Prince, did him, by appointing him Physician to himself and his family, quickly involved him into so extensive a practice, as with a multiplicity of other business, prevented his pursuing this laudable design with that vigour he himself desired, and its own nature and importance deserved. For these reasons it was chiefly, that the Amoenitates Exoticae did not appear in print till the year 1712. That work, which was only intended as a Specimen and Prodromus of others, met (as indeed for the number and singularity of new and curious observations it well deserved) with a general applause, and begot, in all lovers of learning, an earnest solicitation for his other works promised in the Preface, to wit, his History of Japan, which is hereby offer'd to the publick, his Herbarium Ultra-Gangeticum, or the description and figures of the Plants observed by him in several Eastern countries beyond the Ganges, and lastly, a compleat account of all his Travels.
He was married in 1700, to Maria Sophia Wilstach only daughter of Wolfrath Wilstach, an eminent Merchant at Stolzenau, and had by her issue one son and two daughters, who all died in their infancy.
The long course of his Travels, the fatigues of his profession, and some private misfortunes in his family, had very much impair'd his constitution, and in the latter part of his life he was often troubled with the Colick, of which he had two very severe attacks, one in November 17I5, and another at the beginning of 1716. This last fit laid him up for three weeks, however he recover'd it so far, that he was able to attend the Count de Lippe and his Family, as their Physician, at Pyrmont, and return'd, in July, to his Country Seat at Steinhof near Lemgow in pretty good health. On the 5th of September following he was suddenly seized with fainting fits, and a vomitlng of blood, which continued upon him all night reduced him very low. From that time he continued [xlvi] in a lingring condition, though not altogether without hopes o recovery, having gather'd strength so far, as to be able to walk about his room: But on the 24th of October, having been ever since this last attack troubled with a nausea and loss of appetite, his vomiting of blood return'd upon him with great violence, and a fever, which lasted till the second of November, on which day he died, at five in the evening, 65 years and six weeks old. He was buried in the Cathedral Church of S. Nicolas at Lemgow.
Thus far my account of the Author's Life and remarkable Travels, which I have traced chiefly from his own manuscript memoirs, journals, letters to his friends, and the like, though I am indebted for some circumstances to a sermon, which was pronounced on his funeral by Bertholdus Haccius, a Minister at Lemgow, and printed at that place.