1677 - John Fryer
Visit to Muscat
At Night we saw Muschat, whose vast and horrid Mountains no Shade but Heaven does hide, though they cover the City with an horrid one; reflecting thence the Heat scorching us at Sun-setting and aboard Ship; within their fiery Bosom the Pilots find secure Harbour for their weather-beaten Ships, the Water moderating the Air. The Prince of this Country is called Imaum, who is Guardian of Mahomet’s Tomb, and on whom is devolved the Right of Caliphship, according to the Ottoman Belief: Wherefore the Indian Princes of that Persuasion send every Year Rich Presents by those Vessels set out to carry Devotees to Mahomet's Tomb, which are wholly his, and at his disposal, whereby he heaps up more Wealth than accrues to him from the Income of his Barren Soil.
Sailing Westward, the City and the Castle lye open to our View ; it is much frequented by Merchants over the Deserts, and no less by those from Mocha in the Red Sea, and by the way of Grand Cairo; it vends all Drugs and Arab Steeds, and pays Gold for Indian Commodities: Here they keep safe those Ships they steal or purchase, for Wood, nor Timber growing here: They are a Fierce Treacherous People, gaining as much by Fraud as Merchandize.
The Matchless Outrages, after Faith plighted, committed in that Place by the Portugals, was not only the Occasion of their being quite beaten out thence, but of an eternal and irreconcilable Quarrel between them: For where Religion, backed with the greatest Interest, strives for the Prize, I know not whether is most concerned, to gain a Conquest, or to perpetrate Barbarities, the common Event of such a War, where to kill their Fellow-Creatures is esteemed a Service to the Creator. And thus it proved here; For while that bold Nation persisted in its Discoveries, Navigation perfecting their Geography, they began to enquire into the course of Profit, as well as their Ships way, and found that all their Inland Trade tended to this Sinus and the Red Sea; wherefore they bent themselves to be Masters of their Keys that unlocked the World's Treasures, for which Muschat is very commodious, of which becoming Possessors, had not a too hot Zeal thrust them on, they might to this day have enjoyed it with a just Commendation due to their Industry; but sacrificing to Lust and Rapin what should have been to the Glory of God and True Religion, which is Pure as well as Peaceable, they soon were driven out thence to Ormus.
A new Account of East India and Persia: Being Nine Years Travels, 1672-1682
London 1909-15; Vol. 2