This is the Montpelier of the East to the Dutch and Portuguese settlements in India; and, from the salubrity of its air, is the favourite resort of valetudinarians and invalids from Batavia and other places. This island is fertile, variegated with hill and dale, and equally beautiful as diversified with Rotti, and its appendant isles. It is as large as the island of Great Britain. Its principal trade is wax, honey, and sandlewood; but the whole of its revenues do not defray the expence of the settlement to the Company; but from the locality of its situation, it is convenient for their other islands. They had the monopoly of the sandlewood trade, which is used in all temples, mosques, and places of worship in the East, every Chinese having a sprig of it burning day and night near their household-gods.
The exclusive trade of sandlewood was valuable and convenient to the Dutch; but, from the vast extent of territory lately acquired in India, we have plenty of that commodity without going to the Dutch market. Close to the Dutch town is a Chinese town and temple. They have a governor of their own nation, but pay large tribute to the Dutch. Notwithstanding their trade is under very severe restrictions, they soon make rich; and, as soon as they become independent, return to their own country. For European and India goods the natives barter their produce, and sell their prisoners of war, who are carried to Batavia as slaves, and the natives of Java sent from Batavia to this place in return. As they hold their tenure more from policy than strength, it would be impolitic to irritate them, by exposing their countrymen, subjugated to the lash of slavery and oppression.
An instance of this soul-couping business fell under our inspection while here. One of the petty princes, in settling his account with a merchant of this place, was some dollars short of cash. He just stepped to the door, and casting his eye on an elderly man who was near him, he laid hold of him; and, with the assistance of some of his myrmidons, gave him up as a slave, and so settled his account. We felt more interested in the fate of this poor wretch, on account of his having been a prince himself, but never before saw the face of his oppressor. He went passenger in the ship with us to Batavia.
During our five weeks stay here, the Governor, Mynheer Vanion, by every act of politeness and attention endeavoured to make us spend our time agreeably. We were sumptuously regaled at his table every day, and the evening was spent with cards and concerts. I could dwell with pleasure for an age in praise of this honest Dutchman; it is the tribute of a grateful heart, and his due. This is the third time he has had an opportunity of extending his hospitality to shipwrecked Englishmen.
About a fortnight before we arrived, a boat, with eight men, a woman, and two children, came on shore here, who told him they were the supercargo, part of the crew, and passengers of an English brig, wrecked in these seas. His house, which has ever been the asylum of the distressed, was open for their reception. They drew bills on the British government, and were supplied with every necessary they stood in need of.
The captain of a Dutch East Indiaman, who spoke English, hearing of the arrival of Capt. Edwards, and our unfortunate boat, run to them with the glad tidings of their Captain having arrived; but one of them, starting up in surprise, said, "What Captain! dam'me, we have no Captain;" for they had reported, that the Captain and remainder of the crew had separated from them at sea in another boat. This immediately led to a suspicion of their being impostors; and they were ordered to be apprehended, and put into the castle. One of the men, and the woman, fled into the woods; but were soon taken. They confessed they were English convicts, and that they had made their escape from Botany Bay. They had been supplied with a quadrant, a compass, a chart, and some small arms and ammunition, from a Dutch ship that lay there; and the expedition was conducted by the Governor's fisherman, whose time of transportation was expired. He was a good seaman, and a tolerable navigator. They dragged along the coast of New South Wales; and as often as the hostile nature of the savage natives would permit, hauled their boat up at night, and slept on shore. They met with several curious and interesting anecdotes in this voyage. In many places of the coast of South Wales, they found very good coal; a circumstance that was not before known. Our men were now beginning to regain their strength; and Captain Dadleberg of the Rembang Indiaman was making every possible dispatch with his ship to carry us to Batavia.
During this time, the interment of Balthazar, King of Coupang, was performed with much funeral pomp. The Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, and all the Europeans were invited. Six months had been spent in preparations for this féte, at which an emperor and twenty-five kings assisted and attended in person with all their body-guards, standards, and standard-bearers, were present. When the corpse was deposited in the sepulchre, the Company's troops fired three vollies, and victuals and drink were immediately served to four thousand people.
The Dutch and English officers were invited to a very sumptuous dinner, at a table provided for the emperor and all the kings. The first toast after dinner was the dead king's health. Next they drank Mynheer Company's health, which was accompanied with a volley of small arms and paterreros. The singularity of Mynheer Company's health, led us to request an explanation; when we were informed, they found it necessary to make them believe that Mynheer Company was a great and powerful king, lest they should not be inclined to pay that submission to a company of merchants.
The inaugural ceremony at the installation of the young king, was performed by his drinking a bumper of brandy and gunpowder, stirred round with the point of a sword. After being invested with the regal dignity, he came down in state, to pay his respects to the governor. As he was preceded by music, and colours flying, every one turned out to see him. Amongst the rest was a captive king in chains, who was employed blowing the bellows to our armourer, whilst he was forging bolts and fetters for our prisoners and convicts. Here the sunshine of prosperity, and the mutability of human greatness, were excellently pourtrayed.
By a policy in the Dutch, in supplying the petty princes with ammunition and warlike stores, feuds and dissentions are kindled amongst them; and they are kept so completely engaged in civil war, that they have no time to observe the encroachments of strangers. That domestic strife serves likewise amply to supply the slave trade from the prisoners of both parties. They, however, some time since, made head against the common enemy, and forced the Dutch to retire within their trenches.
It is the custom, in this climate, to bathe morning and evening. A fine river, which runs in the centre of the town, is conveniently situated for that purpose; and we availed ourselves of it when our strength would permit. Nature has been profusely lavish, in producing, in the neighbourhood of this place, all the varied powers of landscape that the most luxuriant fancy can suggest. But, while enjoying the picturesque beauties of the scene, or sheltering in the translucent stream from the fervour of meridian heat, you are suddenly chilled with fear, from the terrific aspect of the alligator, or crested snake, and a number of venomous reptiles, with which this country abounds. There is one in particular called the cowk cowk; it is the most disgusting looking animal that creeps the ground, and its bite is mortal. It is about a foot and a half long, and seems a production between the toad and lizard. At stated periods it makes a noise exactly like a cuckoo clock. Even the natives fly from it with the utmost horror. The alligators are daring and numerous. There are instances of their devouring men and children when bathing in the shallow part of the river above the town.
The Governor, Mynheer Vanion, relates a circumstance that happened to him while hunting. In crossing a shallow part of the river, his black boy was snapped up by an alligator; but the Governor immediately dismounted, rescued the boy out of his mouth, and slew him.
The natives of Timor are subject to a cutaneous disease during their infancy, something similar to the small pox, but of longer duration. It seldom terminates fatally, and only seizes them once in their lives.
On the 6th of October, we embarked on board the Rembang Dutch Indiaman, taking with us the prisoners and convicts. Our crew became very sickly in passing the Straits of Alice [Allas]. We had frequent calms and sultry weather until the 12th. In passing the island of Flores, a most tremendous storm arose. In a few minutes every sail of the ship was shivered to pieces; the pumps all choaked, and useless; the leak gaining fast upon us; and she was driving down, with all the impetuosity imaginable, on a savage shore, about seven miles under our lee. This storm was attended with the most dreadful thunder and lightning we had ever experienced. The Dutch seamen were struck with horror, and went below; and the ship was preserved from destruction by the manly exertion of our English tars, whose souls seemed to catch redoubled ardour from the tempest's rage. Indeed it is only in these trying moments of distress, when the abyss of destruction is yawning to receive them, that the transcendent worth of a British seaman is most conspicuous. Nor would I wish, from what I have observed above, to throw any stigma on the Dutch, who I believe would fight the devil, should he appear in any other shape to them but that of thunder and lightning.
It may be remarked, that the Straits of Alice are not so dangerous as those of Sapy [Sapi], and are for many reasons preferable; but it is so intricate a navigation that a Dutchman bound from Timor to Batavia, after beating about for twelve months, found himself exactly where he first started from.
On the 21st, we got through Alice, and saw three prow-vessels, who are a very daring set of pirates that infest those seas. On the 22nd, saw the islands of Kangajunk and Ulk, and run through the channel that is between them. Next day we saw the island of Madura.
On the 26th, saw the island of Java; and on the 30th, anchored at Samarang. Map
Immediately on our coming to anchor, we were agreeably surprised to find our tender here which we had so long given up for lost. Never was social affection more eminently pourtrayed than in the meeting of these poor fellows; and from excess of joy, and a recital of their mutual sufferings, from pestilence, famine, and shipwreck, a flood of tears filled every man's breast.
They informed us, the night they parted company with us, the savages attacked them in a regular and powerful body in their canoes; and their never having seen a European ship before, nor being able to conceive any idea of fire-arms, made the conflict last longer than it otherwise would; for, seeing no missive weapon made use of, when their companions were killed, they did not suspect any thing to be the matter with them, as they tumbled into the water. Our seven-barrelled pieces made great havoc amongst them. One fellow had agility enough to spring over their boarding-netting, and was levelling a blow with his war-club at Mr. Oliver, the commanding-officer, who had the good fortune to shoot him.
On not finding the ship next day, they gave up all further hopes of her, and steered for Anamooka, the rendezvous Captain Edwards had appointed. Their distress for want of water, if possible, surpassed that of our own, and had so strong an effect on one of the young gentlemen, that the day following he became delirious, and continued so for some months after it.
They at last made the island of Tofoa, near to Anamooka, which they mistook for it. After trading with the natives for provisions and water, they made an attempt to take the vessel from them, which they always will to a small vessel, when alone; but they were soon overpowered with the fire arms. They were, however, obliged to be much on their guard afterwards, at those islands which were inhabited.
After much diversity of distress, and similar encounters, they at last made the reef that runs between New Guinea and New Holland, where the Pandora met her unhappy fate; and after traversing from shore to shore, without finding an opening, this intrepid young seaman boldly gave it the stem, and beat over the reef. The alternative was dreadful, as famine presented them on the one hand, and shipwreck on the other. Soon after they had passed Endeavour Straits, they fell in with a small Dutch vessel, who shewed them every tenderness that the nature of their distress required.
They were soon landed at a small Dutch settlement; but the governor having a description of the Bounty's pirates from our court, and their vessel being built of foreign timber, served to confirm them in their suspicions; and as no officer in the British navy bears a commission or warrant under the rank of lieutenant, where, by seal of office, their person or quality may be identified, they had only their bare ipse dixit to depend on. They, however, behaved to them with great precaution and humanity. Although they kept a strict guard over them, nothing was withheld to render their situation agreeable; and they were sent, under a proper escort, to this place.
This settlement is reckoned next to Batavia, and is so lucrative, that the governor is changed every five years. The present governor's name is Overstraaten, a gentleman of splendid taste and unbounded hospitality, who lives in a princely style; and to the otium dignitate of Asiatic luxury, has the happiness to join an honest hearty Dutch welcome.
The town is regular and beautiful, and the houses are built in a style of architecture, which has given loose to the most sportive fancy. Each street is terminated with some public building, such as a great marine school, for the education of young officers and seamen; an hospital for decayed officers in the Company's service; churches; the Governor's palace, &c. &c. Here the utile dulce has not been neglected, and those objects of national importance are placed in a proper point of view, as the just pride and ornament of a great commercial people.
Such is the effect of early prejudices, that, under the muzle of the sun, a Dutchman cannot exist without snuffing the putrid exhalations from stagnant water, to which they have been accustomed from their infancy. They are intersecting it so fast with canals, that in a year or two this beautiful town will be completely dammed.
In a few days, we arrived at Batavia, Map the emporeum of the Dutch in the East; and our first care was employed in sending to the hospital the sickly remains of our unfortunate crew. Some dead bodies floating down the canal struck our boat, which had a very disagreeable effect on the minds of our brave fellows, whose nerves were reduced to a very weak state from sickness. This was a coup de grace to a sick man on his premier entree into this painted sepulchre, this golgotha of Europe, which buries the whole settlement every five years.
It is not the climate I am inveighing against; it is the Gothic, diabolical ideas of the people I indite.
Were they only Dutchmen who supplied the ravenous maw of death, it would be impertinence in me to make any comment on it; but when the whole globe lends its aid to supply this destructive settlement, and its baneful effects arising more from the letch a Dutchman has for stagnant mud than from climate, I hope the indulgent reader will pardon my spleen, when I tell them professionally that all the mortality of that place originates from marsh effluvia, arising from their stagnant canals and pleasure-grounds.
The Chinese are here the Jews of the East, and as soon as they make their fortune, they go home. Let the amateurs of the Republican system read and learn. Be not surprised when it is observed, that these little great men, those vile hawkers of spice and nutmegs, exact a submission that the most absolute and tyrannical monarch who ever swayed a sceptre would be ashamed of. The compass of my work will not allow me to be particular; but I must instance one among many others. When an edilleer, or one of the supreme council, meets a carriage, the gentleman who meets him must alight, and make him a perfect bow in spirit; not one of Bunburry's long bows, but that bow which carries humility and submission in it, that sort of bow which every vertebre in an English back is anchylosed against.
In our passage from this to the Cape, before we left Java, one of the convicts had jumped over board in the night, and swam to the Dutch arsenal at Honroost. In passing Bantan, we viewed the relics of Lord Cathcart. We met nothing particular in passing the island of Sumatra, but experienced great death and sickness in going through the Straits of Sunda; and after a tedious passage, arrived at the Cape of Good Hope.
Here we met with many civilities from Colonel Gordon; a gentleman no less eminent for his private virtues than his extraordinary military and literary accomplishments. From his labours, all the host of voyagers and historians of that part of the globe have been purloining; but it is to be hoped the world will, at some future period, be favoured with his works unmutilated.
The town is gay, and from length of habit, the inhabitants partake much of the manners of Bath; and, for a short season, behave with the utmost attention and tenderness. Their dress and customs are more characteristic of the English than Dutch. An uncommon rage for building has lately prevailed; and although they cannot boast of that chastity of style in which Samarang is built it is gaudy, and calculated to please the generality of observers.
Allow me to mention the singular manner in which the monkeys make depredations on the gardens here. They place a proper piquet, or advanced guard, as sentinels, when a party is drawn up in a line, who hand the fruit from one to another; and when the alarm is given by the piquet-guard, they all take flight, making sure that by that time the booty is conveyed to a considerable distance. But should the piquet be negligent in their duty, and suffer the main body to be surprised, the delinquents are severely punished.
The same ill-fated rage for canalling-murder prevails here. They have even contrived to carry canals to the top of a mountain. The boors, or country-farmers, are a species of the human race, so gigantic and superior to the rest of mankind, in point of size and constitution, that they may be called nondescripts.
Their hospital, as to scite, surpasses any in the world. It may be observed, however, that the architect, by the smallness of the windows, which only serve to exclude the light and air, seems to have studied, with much ingenuity, to render it a cadaverous stinking prison.
After being refreshed at the Cape, we passed St. Helena, the island of Ascension, and arrived at Holland; and had the happiness, through the interposition of divine Providence, to be again landed on our native shore.
Names of Places. Latitudes. Longitudes. Gomera, 28 5 N 17 8 W Canary, N.E. point, 28 13 N 15 38 W Teneriffe, Santa Cruz, 28 27 N 16 16 W Palma, 28 36 N 17 45 W St. Antonio, Cape de Verd Islands, crossing the Line, 17 0 N 25 2 W Rio Janeiro, 22 54 S Patagonia, Straits of Magellan, Cape Julian, Staten Island, 54 47 30 S 63 58 27 W Cape Horn, 55 59 S 67 21 W Diego Ramarez, Easter Island, 27 7 S 109 42 W Ducie's Island, 24 40 30 S 124 40 30 W Lord Hood's Island, 21 31 S 135 32 30 W Carysfort Island, 20 49 S 138 33 W Maitea, 17 52 S 148 6 W Otaheite, Matavy Bay, 17 29 S 149 35 W Huaheine, Owharre Bay, 16 44 S 151 3 W Ulitea and Otaha, 16 46 S 151 33 W Bolobola, 16 33 S 151 52 W Mauruah, 16 26 S 152 33 W Whytutakee, 18 52 S 159 41 W Palmerston's Isles, 18 0 S 162 57 W Duke of York's Island, 8 33 30 S 172 4 3 W Duke of Clarence's Island, 9 9 30 S 171 30 46 W Chatham's Island, 13 32 20 S 172 18 20 W Ohatooah, 13 50 S 171 30 6 W Anamooka, 20 16 S 174 30 W Toomanuah, 14 15 S 169 43 W Otutuelah, 14 30 S 170 41 W Howe's Island, 18 32 30 S 173 53 W Bickerton's Island, 18 47 40 S 174 48 W Gardner's Island, 17 57 S 175 16 54 W Pylestaart, 22 23 S 175 39 W Eoah or Middleburgh, 21 21 S 174 34 W Tongataboo, 21 9 S 174 41 W Proby's Island, 15 53 S 175 51 W Wallis's Island, 13 22 S 176 15 45 W Grenville Island, 12 29 S 183 3 \ W 176 57 / E Pandora's Reef, 12 11 S 188 8 \ W 171 52 / E Mitre Island, 11 49 S 190 4 30 \ W 169 55 30 / E Cherry Island, 11 37 30 S 190 19 30 \ W 169 55 30 / E Pitt's Island, 11 50 30 S 193 14 15 \ W 166 45 45 / E Wells's Shoal, 12 20 S 202 2 \ W 157 58 / E Cape Rodney, Point of New Guinea 10 3 32 S 212 14 5 \ W M. Clarence in shore, 147 45 45 / E Cape Hood, 9 58 6 S 212 37 10 \ W 147 22 50 / E Murray's Isles, 9 57 S 216 43 \ W 143 17 / E Wreck Reef, 11 22 S 216 22 \ W 143 38 / E Batavia, 6 10 S 106 51 E Straits of Sunda, 6 36 15 S 105 17 30 E Cape of Good Hope, 34 29 S 18 23 E St. Helena, 15 55 S 5 49 W Ascension Island, 7 56 S 14 32 W