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which very few were acquainted, when the Moors first entered the fort; and 144, being all the rest, were made prisoners of war. Mr. Holwell was thrice sent for and examined by the viceroy, before seven o'clock; the last time the viceroy sat in council, and when he dismissed his prisoner, he repeated the assurance that he had before given him, declaring on the word of a soldier, that no harm should come either to him or his people. He ordered, however, that they should be secured for that night, and they were immediately committed to the custody of some subordinate officers called Jemmautdaars.
In order perfectly to understand the sequel of this account, it is necessary to describe that part of the fort where the prison called the Black Hole is situated.
The east windows of the governor's apartment look into a pretty spacious court of guard, on the east side of which, over against the windows, and under the eastern curtain of the fort, there is a piazza; at the south end of the piazza there is a night of stairs, that lead up to one of the bastions of the fort, and at the north end is the parade: within the piazza there are barracks for the soldiers that reach all along the side of the square, with a platform reaching the whole length of these barracks for the soldiers to sleep on, and they are open towards the piazza, with arches that correspond to the arches of the piazza. Between these arches there is a small parapet wall, which goes from arch to arch the whole length of the barracks, and divides them from the piazza, but they are not divided into separate apartments within. At the southernmost end of the barracks, and in a line with them, is a room about eighteen feet square, which was used as a kind of round-house, for confining such of the soldiers as had been guilty of any irregularity; this place, which is a continuation of the barracks, is closely walled up on the north, east, and south sides, and is open only on the west side towards the passage; in this side there are two windows, strongly secured by iron bars, and the dungeon, being close and dark, was called the Black Hole. To the north, without the court of guard, was the armory and laboratory, and to the south, the carpenter's yard belonging to the factory.
The guard that received charge of the prisoners ordered them all to sit down under the piazza, and soon after one of the soldiers stripped Mr. Holwell of his waistcoat, as he was sitting without his coat, which the heat of the weather would not permit him to wear. While they were waiting to be farther disposed of as their new masters should think fit,
they discovered that the factory was in flames on each side of them, the armory and laboratory to the left, and the carpenter's yard to the right. They were alarmed at this unexpected conflagration, and it was the prevailing opinion, that, notwithstanding the viceroy's promise to Mr. Holwell, there was a design formed to suffocate them between the two fires. At about half an hour after seven, this dreadful apprehension was confirmed by the appearance of several people with lighted torches, who ran into all the apartments to the right of them under the eastern curtain, as it was supposed, to set them all on fire. But Mr. Holwell, at the request of some gentlemen who were near him, going up to see what was really doing, found that the men with torches, being strangers to the fort, were only seeking a proper place to confine them in till the morning. Soon after he had satisfied his friends that their fears of being burnt were groundless, he was surprised by the appearance of Leech, who escaped through the private passage. This man having in many instances been obliged by Mr. Holwell's kindness, determined not to escape himself without attempting to bring off his benefactor ; having returned into the fort at the risk of his life, he told him in a few words, that he had provided a boat, and that if he would follow him through the private passage by which he had entered, he would ensure his deliverance. Mr. Holwell was most sensibly affected by this instance of heroic generosity; but the viceroy having assured him that the prisoners should suffer no personal injury, and the gentlemen and garrison having put themselves under his protection, he thanked Leech in the best terms he could, but told him he did not think himself at liberty to desert his friends, and therefore could not possibly accept his offer; to which Leech gallantly replied, that he would then live and die with him; and though Mr. Holwell urged him many times to provide for his own safety, he persisted in his resolution, and could not be prevailed upon to leave the place.
Very soon afterwards, part of the guard that had been drawn up on the parade, with the officers who had been viewing the rooms by torch-light, advanced towards the prisoners, and ordered them to rise and go into the barracks. This command they obeyed with great cheerfulness and alacrity, pleasing themselves with the hopes of passing the night comfortably on the platform; but they were no sooner within the barracks, than the guard advanced to the inner arches and parapet wall, and, with their musquets presented, ordered them into that part which was walled in at the
south end, called the Black Hole. The greater part of the prisoners were utterly unacquainted with the place into which they were about to be driven, and those before being urged on by those behind, upon whom the guard pressed with clubs and scimitars, were borne forward and entered the cell before they knew the horrors of their situation, to avoid which, they would have turned upon the guard and been cut to pieces, as much the least evil of the two.
The number that entered this dreadful place was 146, of which 145, including poor Leech, were men; the other was a lady of the country, the wife of Mr. Carey, an officer in the 'navy, who declared, with equal tenderness and constancy, that no circumstances of distress or danger should divide her from her husband.
These unhappy wretches, of whom sixty-nine were Dutch, English corporals, soldiers, Moors, Whites, and Portugueze, were all exhausted by the fatigue and watching which they had suffered during the siege; many of them were wounded, and the wounds of several of them were mortal.
Among the first that entered was Mr. Holwell, with Mr. Coles and Mr. Scott, who were ensigns in the service. Mr. Holwell took possession of the window that was nearest to the door, and put Mr. Coles and Mr. Scott, who were both wounded, into it. Mr. Baillie of the council, and several other gentlemen of the factory, were near him; the rest rushed by them into the inner part of the room, and those thought themselves fortunate who took possession of the other window. It was now about eight o'clock, the night was exceeding close and sultry, and there being no opening but to the west, the air within could neither circulate nor be changed. As soon as these particulars and the size of the room were known, the consequences were easily foreseen ; every one was thrown into an agony of despair and terror, and many attempts were made to force the door, but as it opened inwards, and as the prisoners had nothing to work with but their hands, these attempts were as fruitless as they were violent. Mr. Holwell being at the window was less affected by the closeness of the place, and
as long as he could continue there, was in no danger of suffocation. His mind was therefore proportionably less agitated, and perceiving that the perturbation, restlessness, and struggles of the rest, would exhaust their strength, increase their heat, and hasten their destruction, he conjured then, in a short but earnest address, to keep both their minds and bodies as quiet as possible, as the only chance they had of surviving, till the morning should give them liberty and air. This address produced
a short interval of peace and silence, which, however, was interrupted by the groans and complaints of the wounded, some of whom were even then in the agonies of death.
At this time Mr. Holwell looking through the grate of the window into the piazza, saw one of the Jemmautdaars, in whose countenance he thought he discovered some traces of compassion. This man he called to him, and representing the misery of himself and his fellow-prisoners, and the frightful consequences that would inevitably follow their continuing in that room all night, he earnestly entreated, that he would endeavour to get them separated by putting half of them in some other place; and to quicken his compassion by self-interest, he told him, that if he could procure the favour that he requested, he should in the morning receive 1000 rupees, which are equal to about 2001. sterling. The Jemmautdaar promised that he would attempt it, and withdrew, but returned in a few minutes, and said it was impossible. Mr. Holwell then thought that he had not offered enough, and therefore promised him 2000 rupees. Upon this he withdrew again, but soon returned a second time, and with great appearance of compassion said, it could not possibly be done without an order from the viceroy, who was then asleep, and that nobody dared to awake him. It is, however, difficult to conceive how this could be true, if, as Mr. Holwell supposes, the viceroy's orders were general, to keep the prisoners safely till the morning, and that the finding a proper place for the purpose was left to the Jeinmautdaars, who, after this order was received, searched the apartments with torches, and at last fixed upon the Black Hole. But whatever was the impediment, the unhappy prisoners had neither means to know, nor power to remove it. Within ten minutes after they were locked in, every one fell into a most profuse sweat, which soon brought on an intolerable thirst, that perpetually increased in proportion as the body was drained of its moisture.
The floor of the place in which they were confined being 18 feet by 18 feet, contained 324 square feet, which, divided by 146, the number of persons gives a space of something more than 26 inches and a half by 12 for each person, wbich, reduced to a square, will be near 18 inches by 18 inches. This space, though it was sufficient to hold them without pressing violently on each other, yet it obliged them to stand so near together as greatly increased their heat; it was therefore proposed that all of them should pull off their clothes, as an expedient to increase the space between them. This proposal was immediately approved, and in a
few minutes every man in the assembly, except Mr. Holwell, and three others that stood at the window with him, were naked. This expedient afforded them a temporary relief, and to improve it every one fanned the air with his hat, in hopes to produce a circulation, and introduce the fresh air from without. Of this exercise, however, they were soon weary, and their uneasiness increasing, it was proposed by Mr. Baillie, that every man should sit down on his hams. This also was complied with, and to prevent confusion, it was agreed that they should all sit down and rise together at a signal to be given for that purpose. After they had sate till the posture became too uneasy to be longer endured, the word was given to rise; but as each covered much more ground in sitting than standing, they were so closely wedged together, that many efforts and considerable force were required to put them in motion and raise them again on their feet. It happened also, that at this time several of them were so much enfeebled, that not being able immediately to recover their legs, they fell down, and there not being room to leave the space which they covered vacant, they were by a fatal necessity instantly trampled to death, or suffocated. The expedient of sitting down was, notwithstanding, many times repeated, and some of the number perished every time in the same manner as at first.
Such was the condition of these unhappy people before the first hour of their confinement was expired. By nine o'clock thirst had rendered the greater part of the company outrageous; new efforts were made to force the door, and many attempts were made to provoke the guard to fire in upon them, and put an end to their misery, but without success. In a short time, many persons in the back part of the room were seized with a difficulty of breathing, and, what was yet more dreadful, a delirium. The place was filled with incoherent ravings, passionate exclamations, and cries of distress, in the midst of which the cry of Water, Water, was predominant. This cry being heard by the Jemmautdaar who had been applied to by Mr. Holwell, he ordered some skins of water to be immediately brought. Till this time Mr. Holwell had remained quietly at the window, where keeping bis face between two of the bars, he suffered but little pain or inconvenience; but he foresaw that the bringing water to that window would create a strife and commotion ainong those that were behind, which would probably hasten their destruction; and that then the whole crowd being drawn to press with one united effort upon him, would either crush him to death, or compel him to abandon his situation :