4

On the first page of Chapter VII in Thomas Deloney's novel Jack of Newbury, the narrator tells us (italics from the original),

Halfe the day sometime would hee sit by her, as shee was waighing wooll, often sighing and sobbing to himselfe, yet saying nothing, as if he had been tonguelesse, like the men of Coromandae; and the loather to speake, for that hee could speak but bad English.

Which part of the world is Deloney referring to? Which people were supposed to be "tongueless"? Searching for Coromandae, I find the Coromandel peninsula in New Zealand, which did not receive its current name until 1820, and the Coromandel Coast in southeast India, whose name is probably more recent than Deloney's novel (the Dutch didn't reach Coromandel governorate until 1606). At this point, I doubt that I'm on the right track with "Coromandel", so where did Deloney get the name "Coromandae"?

4

The reference is to Pliny’s Natural History, where the Choromandae seem to be a species of monkey or ape found in the forests of India.

sunt et satyri subsolanis indorum montibus (catarcludorum dicitur regio), pernicissimum animal, iam quadripedes, iam recte currentes humana effigie; propter velocitatem nisi senes aut aegri non capiuntur. choromandarum gentem vocat tauron silvestrem, sine voce, stridoris horrendi, hirtis corporibus, oculis glaucis, dentibus caninis.

Among the mountainous districts of the eastern parts of India, in what is called the country of the Catharcludi, we find the Satyr, an animal of extraordinary swiftness. These go sometimes on four feet, and sometimes walk erect; they have also the features of a human being. On account of their swiftness, these creatures are never to be caught, except when they are either aged or sickly. Tauron gives the name of Choromandæ to a nation which dwell in the woods and have no proper voice. These people screech in a frightful manner; their bodies are covered with hair, their eyes are of a sea-green colour, and their teeth like those of the dog.

Pliny the Elder (79). Natural History, 7.2. Translated by John Bostock (1855).

Note that Deloney’s ‘tonguelesse’ corresponds to Pliny’s ‘sine voce’ and so means ‘without speech or language’, not ‘without tongues’.

  • Thanks. How did you find this? Did it simply occur to you to change the spelling? – IkWeetHetOokNiet Jul 12 '19 at 16:35
  • @ChristopheStrobbe: I did a Google Books search for "Coromandae" and the third hit is the collected works of Joseph Hall, which says "those Coromandae, of whom Pliny speaks". – Gareth Rees Jul 12 '19 at 16:42
  • Right. That's what I get by avoiding Google... – IkWeetHetOokNiet Jul 12 '19 at 16:43
  • 1
    @ChristopheStrobbe: A search on the Internet Archive also finds the extract from Joseph Hall. – Gareth Rees Jul 12 '19 at 16:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.