THE INDIAN ARCHIPELAGO.
London: SPOTTISWOODE AND SHAW, New-street Square.
THE INDIAN ARCHIPELAGO.
DRAWINGS OF COSTUME AND SCENERY.
FRANK S. MARRYAT,
LATE MIDSHIPMAN OF H. M. S. SAMARANG, SURVEYING VESSEL.
LONDON: LONGMAN, BROWN, GREEN, AND LONGMANS, PATERNOSTER-ROW. 1848.
I wish the readers of these pages to understand that it has been with no desire to appear before the public as an author that I have published this Narrative of the Proceedings of Her Majesty's ship Samarang during her last Surveying Cruise.
During the time that I was in the ship, I made a large collection of drawings, representing, I hope faithfully, the costumes of the natives and the scenery of a country so new to Europeans. They were considered, on my return, as worthy to be presented to the public, as being more voluminous and more characteristic than drawings made in haste usually are.
I may here observe, that it has been a great error on the part of the Admiralty, considering the great expense incurred in fitting out vessels for survey, that a little additional outlay is not made in supplying every vessel with a professional draughtsman, as was invariably the case in the first vessels sent out on discovery. The duties of officers in surveying vessels are much too fatiguing and severe to allow them the time to make anything but hasty sketches, and they require that practice with the pencil without which natural talent is of little avail; the consequence is, that the engravings, which have appeared in too many of the Narratives of Journeys and Expeditions, give not only an imperfect, but even an erroneous, idea of what they would describe.
A hasty pencil sketch, from an unpractised hand, is made over to an artist to reduce to proportion; from him it passes over to the hand of an engraver, and an interesting plate is produced by their joint labours. But, in this making up, the character and features of the individual are lost, or the scenery is composed of foliage not indigenous to the country, but introduced by the artist to make a good picture.
In describing people and countries hitherto unknown, no description given by the pen will equal one correct drawing. How far I may have succeeded must be decided by those who have, with me, visited the same places and mixed with the people delineated. How I found time to complete the drawings is explained by my not doing any duty on board at one time, and at another by my having been discharged into the hospital-ship at Hong Kong.
It was my intention to have published these drawings without letter-press, but in this I have been overruled. I have therefore been compelled to have recourse to my own private journal, which certainly was never intended for publication. As I proceeded, I found that, as I was not on board during the whole of the time, it would be better, and make the work more perfect, if I published the whole of the cruise, which I could easily do by referring to the journals of my messmates.
I would gladly mention their names, and publicly acknowledge their assistance; but, all things considered, I think it as well to withhold them, and I take this opportunity of thanking them for their kindness.
FRANK S. MARRYAT.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Chinese Joss House Frontispiece
Bornese Vessel Title-page
Loondoo Dyak To face page 5
River Sarawak and Town of Kuchin 6
Serebis Dyak 79
Saghai Dyak 80
War Dance of the Dyaks 85
Malay Chief (Sooloo) 101
Court of the Sultan of Borneo 109
West Point, Hong Kong 142
View on the Island of Poo-too 151
Chinese Joss House at Ningpo 156
Mandarin of Quelpart (Corea) 183
Natives of Luzon (Philippines) 199
View in Samboangan 201
Illanoan Pirate 207
Port Louis 220
Mr. Brooke's House 7
Dyak Head 13
Malays of Kuchin 23
Native of Batan 27
Native of Pa-tchu-san 31
Sooloo Village 42
Native Boat—Borneo 63
Dyak War Prahu 64
Dyak Women in Canoe 74
Teeth of Dyaks 79
Costumes of Dyak Women 80
Sum-pi-tan—Blow-pipe, with poisoned Arrows 80
Dyak Village 82
Obtaining Fire 89
View of Sincapore 93
Malay Woman 100
Proboscis Monkey 103
Natives of Bruni 108
City of Manilla 121
Procession of the Sultan of Gonong Tabor 133
Ears of Dyaks at Gonong Tabor 135
Portrait of Mahomed Pullulu, Sultan of Sooloo 139
Tanka Boats—Hong Kong 141
Chinese Fishermen 145
Cook's Shop 146
Tanka Boat Women 165
Man-of-War Junk 168
Trading Junks 169
Japanese Boat 184
Salt Smugglers 193
Spanish Galleon 196
Water Carriers—Manilla 199
Illanoan Pirates 208
Natives of N. E. Coast of Borneo 210
Kling Woman 216
THE INDIAN ARCHIPELAGO.
On the 25th of January, 1843, H. M. S. Samarang, being completely equipped, went out of Portsmouth harbour and anchored at Spithead. The crew were paid advanced wages; and, five minutes after the money had been put into their hats at the pay-table, it was all most dexterously transferred to the pockets of their wives, whose regard and affection for their husbands at this peculiar time was most exemplary. On the following day, the crew of the Samarang made sail with full hearts and empty pockets.
On the 25th February, sighted Fuerto Ventura: when off this island, the man at the mast-head reported a wreck in sight, which, as we neared it, appeared to be the wreck of a brig. Strange to say, the captain recognised it as an old acquaintance, which he had seen off Cape Finisterre on his return from China in the Sulphur. If this was not a mistake, it would be evidence of a southerly current in this quarter of the Atlantic. This may be, but I do not consider the proof to be sufficient to warrant the fact; although it may lead to the supposition. If this was the wreck seen at such a long interval by the captain, a succession of northerly winds and gales might have driven it down so far to the southward without the assistance of any current. It is well known that the great current of the Atlantic, the gulf stream (which is occasioned by the waters, being forced by the continuous trade winds into the Gulf of Mexico, finding a vent to the northward by the coast of America, from thence towards Newfoundland, and then in a more easterly direction), loses its force, and is expended to the northward of the Western Islands; and this is the cause why so many rocks have been yearly reported to have been fallen in with in this latitude. Wrecks, all over the Atlantic, which have been water-logged but do not sink, are borne by the various winds and currents until they get into the gulf stream, which sweeps them along in its course until they arrive to where its force is expended, and there they remain comparatively stationary. By this time, probably, years have passed, and they are covered with sea-weeds and barnacles, and, floating three or four feet out of the water, have every appearance of rocks; and, indeed, if run upon on a dark night, prove nearly as fatal.
March 3rd.—Anchored off the town of Porto Praya, Island of St. Jago, in nine fathoms. Porto Praya is a miserable town, built on a most unhealthy spot, there being an extensive marsh behind it, which, from its miasma, creates a great mortality among the inhabitants. The consul is a native of Bona Vista: two English consuls having fallen victims to the climate in quick succession, no one was found very willing to succeed to such a certain provision from the Foreign Office. The interior of the island is, however, very different from what would be expected from the sight of Porto Praya. Some of the officers paid a visit to the valley of St. Domingo, which they described as a perfect paradise, luxuriant with every tropical fruit. Porto Praya is renowned for very large sharks. I was informed by a captain in Her Majesty's service, that once, when he anchored at Porto Praya, he had left the ship to go on shore in one of the twenty-two-foot gigs, not unaptly nick-named coffins in the service. He had not pulled more than a cable's length from the ship, when a shark, nearly as long as the gig, came up swimming with great velocity after them; and as he passed, the animal shouldered the boat, so as nearly to upset it: as it was, the boat took in the water over the gunwale. As the animal appeared preparing for another attack, the captain thought it advisable to pull alongside, and go on shore in the cutter instead of his own boat; and on this large boat the shark did not make a second attempt.
April 25th.—Anchored in Simon's Bay, Cape of Good Hope. Sailed again on the 7th of May, and fell in with a favourable wind; and too much of it. For six days we were scudding before it under a close-reefed main-topsail and fore-staysail. On the 10th we lost one of the best men in the ship, the sailmaker, Charles Downing, who fell overboard; the ship was rounded to, the life-buoy let go, but we saw nothing of him. June 7th saw Christmas Islands, and on the same afternoon the land of Java. On the 11th we arrived off the town of Anger, in company with a fleet of merchant vessels of all nations and of all rigs. Having been so long without a fresh meal, we were not sorry to find ourselves surrounded by boats loaded with fish, fruit, and vegetables; we ate enormously, and they made us pay in proportion.
On the 19th we arrived at Sincapore, and found the roads very gay with vessels of all descriptions, from the gallant free trader of 1000 tons to the Chinese junk. As Sincapore, as well as many other places, was more than once visited, I shall defer my description for the present. On June the 27th we weighed and made sail for the river of Sarawak (Borneo), to pay a visit to Mr. Brooke, who resides at Kuchin, a town situated on that river.
The public have already been introduced to Mr. Brooke in the volumes published by Captain Henry Keppel. Mr. Brooke is a gentleman of independent fortune, who was formerly in the service of the Company. The usefulness and philanthropy of his public career are well known: if the private history which induced him to quit the service, and afterwards expatriate himself, could with propriety, and also regard to Mr. Brooke's feelings, be made known, it would redound still more to his honour and his high principle; but these I have no right to make public. Mr. Brooke, having made up his mind to the high task of civilising a barbarous people, and by every means in his power of putting an end to the wholesale annual murders committed by a nation of pirates, whose hands were, like Ishmael's, against every man, sailed from England in his yacht, the Royalist schooner, with a crew of picked and tried men, and proceeded to Sarawak, where he found the rajah, Muda Hassein, the uncle to the reigning sultan of Borneo, engaged in putting down the insurrection of various chiefs of the neighbouring territory. Mr. Brooke, with his small force, gave his assistance to the rajah; and through his efforts, and those of his well-armed band, the refractory chiefs were reduced to obedience. Willing to retain such a powerful ally, and partial to the English, the rajah made Mr. Brooke most splendid promises to induce him to remain; but the rajah, like all Asiatics, did not fulfil the performance of these promises until after much delay and vexation to Mr. Brooke, who required all the courage and patience with which he is so eminently gifted, before he could obtain his ends. At last he was successful: Muda Hassein made over to him a large tract of land, over which he was constituted rajah, and Mr. Brooke took up his residence at Kuchin; and this grant was ultimately confirmed by the seal of the sultan of Borneo. Such, in few words, is the history of Mr. Brooke: if the reader should wish for a more detailed account, I must refer him to Capt. Henry Keppel's work, in which is published a great portion of Mr. Brooke's own private memoranda.
On the morning of the 29th June we saw the high land of Borneo, but for several days were unsuccessful in discovering the mouth of the river. On the night of July the 4th we anchored off the entrance of a river, which the captain supposed to be the Sarawak. The next morning the two barges, well armed, were sent up the river to obtain information. After pulling with the stream six or eight miles, they discovered a small canoe, which, on their approach, retreated up the river with great speed. Mr. Heard, the officer in charge of the boats, had taken the precaution, as he ascended the river, of cutting a palm branch for each boat, and these were now displayed at the bows as a sign of peaceable intentions.
These universal tokens of amity reassured the natives, who, seeing them, now turned the bows of their canoes, and paddled towards the boats. The canoe contained four men, almost in a state of nudity, their only covering consisting of a narrow slip of cotton fastened round the middle. They were copper-coloured, and extremely ugly: their hair jet black, very long, and falling down the back; eyes were also black, and deeply sunk in the head, giving a vindictive appearance to the countenance; nose flattened; mouth very large; the lips of a bright vermilion, from the chewing of the betel-nut; and, to add to their ugliness, their teeth black, and filed to sharp points. Such is the personal appearance of a Loondoo Dyak.
They informed us that the river we were then in was the Loondoo, and that the Sarawak was some distance to the eastward. They also gave us the information that the boats of the Dido had been engaged with pirates, and had been successful, having captured one prahu and sunk another. After great persuasion, we induced one of them to accompany us to the ship, and pilot her to the Sarawak.
The same evening we weighed anchor, and stood towards a remarkable promontory (Tangong Sipang), to the eastward of which is the principal entrance of the Sarawak river; a second, but less safe, entrance being within a mile of the promontory. Light and variable winds prevented our arrival at the mouth of the river until the evening of the following day. From thence, after two days' incessant kedging and towing, we anchored off the town of Kuchin, on the morning of the 8th instant. The town of Kuchin is built on the left-hand side of the river Sarawak going up; and, from the windings of the river, you have to pull twenty-five miles up the river to arrive at it, whereas it is only five miles from the coast as the crow flies. It consists of about 800 houses, built on piles driven into the ground, the sides and roofs being enclosed with dried palm leaves. Strips of bamboo are laid across, which serve as a floor. In fact, there is little difference between these houses and those built by the Burmahs and other tribes in whose countries bamboo and ratan are plentiful. The houses of Mr. Brooke and the rajah are much superior to any others, having the advantage and comfort of wooden sides and floorings. We visited the rajah several times, who invariably received us with urbanity, and entertained us in a very hospitable manner. Muda Hassein is a man about fifty years of age,—some think more,—of low stature, as are most of the Malays, well made, and with a very prepossessing countenance for a Malay. His brother, Budruden, is a much finer man, very agreeable, and very partial to the English. The Malays profess Mahomedanism; but Budruden in many points followed European customs, both in dress and drinking wine.
The residence of Mr. Brooke is on the side of the river opposite to the town, as, for the most part, are all the houses of the Europeans. In structure it somewhat resembles a Swiss cottage, and is erected upon a green mound, which slopes down to the river's bank, where there is a landing-place for boats. At the back of the house is a garden, containing almost every tree peculiar to the climate; and it was a novelty to us to see collected together the cotton-tree, the areca, sago, palm, &c., with every variety of the Camellia japonica in a state of most luxurious wildness.
The establishment consists of six Europeans, and the house contains one large receiving-room, and several smaller ones, appropriated to the residents as sleeping apartments, besides Mr. Brooke's own private rooms. The large room is decorated with rifles, swords, and other instruments of warfare, European and native; and it is in this room that the European rajah gives his audiences: and it is also in this room that every day, at five o'clock, a capital dinner is served up, to which we were made heartily welcome. During our stay, Mr. Brooke, accompanied by several of our officers and some of the residents, made an excursion up the river. We started early in the morning, with a flowing tide; and, rapidly sweeping past the suburbs of the town, which extend some distance up the river, we found ourselves gliding through most interesting scenery. On either side, the river was bounded by gloomy forests, whose trees feathered down to the river's bank, the water reflecting their shadows with peculiar distinctness. Occasionally the scene was diversified by a cleared spot amidst this wilderness, where, perchance, a half-ruined hut, apparently not inhabited for years, the remains of a canoe, together with fragments of household utensils, were to be seen, proving that once it had been the abode of those who had been cut off by some native attack, and probably the heads of its former occupants were now hanging up in some skull-house belonging to another tribe. The trees were literally alive with monkeys and squirrels, which quickly decamped as we approached them. Several times we were startled by the sudden plunge of the alligators into the water, close to the boats, and of whose propinquity we were not aware until they made the plunge. All these rivers are infested with alligators, and I believe they are very often mischievous; at all events, one of our youngsters was continually in a small canoe, paddling about, and the natives cautioned us that if he was not careful he certainly would be taken by one of these animals.
Early in the afternoon we disembarked at a Chinese village twenty-five miles from Kuchin. The inhabitants of this village work the gold and antimony mines belonging to Mr. Brooke. We remained there for the night, and the next morning proceeded further up the river, and landed at another village, where we breakfasted, and then proceeded on foot to visit the mines. Our path lay through dense forests of gigantic trees, whose branches met and interlaced overhead, shading us from the burning rays of the sun. At times we would emerge from the wood, and find ourselves passing through cultivated patches of ravines, enclosed on all sides by lofty mountains, covered with foliage. In these spots we found a few natives with their families, who seemed to be contented in their perfect isolation; for in these secluded spots generations may pass away, and know no world beyond their own confines of forest jungle. At times our route was over mountains, whose appearance was so formidable that our hearts almost failed us at the prospect of having to scale them; but we succeeded beyond our expectations, and at length arrived at the antimony village, not a little pleased at our labours being ended. Our spirits, which had been flagging, were revived by a pull at the bottle. From our resting-place we had a good view of the mine, which is a source of great profit to Mr. Brooke. The antimony is obtained from the side of a hill, the whole of which is supposed to be formed of this valuable mineral. The side at which the men are at work shines like silver during the day, and may be seen several miles distant, strangely contrasting with the dark foliage of the adjoining jungles. The ore is conveyed to Kuchin, and is there shipped on board of the Royalist, (Mr. Brooke's schooner yacht,) and taken to Sincapore, where it is eagerly purchased by the merchants, and shipped for England.
After partaking of a little refreshment we set off, through woods and over mountains, as before, to visit the gold mine. On our arrival at every village on the road, a certain number of guns were fired by the natives, in honour of the European rajah; and the same ceremony was repeated when we left it. It was late in the afternoon before we arrived at the village attached to the gold mine. It is prettily situated in the depth of a valley, through which runs a small rivulet.
On every side mountains soar into the clouds, which must be passed before you can reach the village. Dinner had been prepared for us by the inhabitants of the village, who were a colony of Chinese; and it was served up in a large building dedicated to Joss, whose shrine was brilliantly illuminated with candles and joss-sticks. Some of the officers unthinkingly lighted their cigars at the altar. The Chinese, observing it, requested very civilly that they would do so no more; a request which was, of course, complied with. After dinner we all proceeded to the rivulet, in search of gold; the natives had cleared out the bed of the river; the sand and stones were thrown into an artificial sluice for washing it; and a little gold was found by some of the party. This gold mine, if it may be so called, is worth to Mr. Brooke about 1000l. per annum, after all the expenses are paid. Its real value is much greater; but the Chinese conceal a great quantity, and appropriate it to themselves. But if the particles of gold which are brought down by a small rivulet are of such value, what may be the value of the mines above, in the mountains as yet untrodden by human feet? This, it is to be hoped, enterprise will some day reveal.
We remained at the village that night, and at daylight commenced our journey back to the village from which we had started the day before. There we embarked, and proceeded down the river to the first Chinese village, at which we arrived in the course of the afternoon. A short distance inland is a mountain, called Sarambo, which it was proposed to ascend, as, by our telescopes, we could perceive houses near to its summit, and were told it was the residence of some of the mountain Dyaks under Mr. Brooke's sway. From the village this mountain wore the appearance of a huge sugar-loaf, and its sides appeared inaccessible. Mr. Brooke, with his usual kindness, gave his consent, and despatched a messenger to the Dyak village, requesting the chief to send a party down by daylight the next morning, to convey our luggage up the mountain. At day-dawn we were awakened by a confused noise outside of the house, and, looking out, we perceived that more than a score of these mountain Dyaks had arrived. Most of them had nothing on but the usual strip of cotton; some few had on red baize jackets. They all wore a peculiar kind of kris, and many had spears, sampitans, and shields. They were fine-limbed men, with muscles strongly developed. Their hair fell down their backs, and nearly reached their middle: it was prevented from falling over the face by a fillet of grass, which was ornamented with mountain flowers.
After a hurried breakfast we set off for the foot of the mountain, our party amounting to about eighty people. The guides led the way, followed by the Europeans; and the Dyaks, with the luggage, brought up the rear. In this order we commenced the ascent. Each person was provided with a bamboo, which was found indispensable; and thus, like a party of pilgrims, we proceeded on our way; and before we had gone very far, we discovered that we were subjected to severe penance. The mountain was nearly perpendicular. In some places we had to ascend by a single piece of wood, with rough notches for the feet, resting against a rock twenty or thirty feet above our heads; and on either side was a precipice, so that a false step must have been certain death. In other places a single piece of bamboo was thrown over a frightful chasm, by way of bridge. This, with a slight bamboo rail for the hand, was all that we had to trust to. The careful manner in which we passed these dangers was a source of great laughter and amusement to the Dyaks who followed us. Accustomed from infancy to tread these dangerous paths, although heavily laden, they scorned to support themselves. Some of our party were nearly exhausted, and a long way in the rear before we came to the village. We had to wait for their coming up, and threw ourselves under the shade of some huge trees, that we might contemplate the bird's-eye view beneath. It was a sight which must be seen to be appreciated. Almost as far as the eye could reach was one immense wooded plain, bounded by lofty mountains in the far distance, whose tops pierced the clouds. The rivers appeared like silver threads, running through the jungles; now breaking off, and then regained. At our feet lay the village we had started from, the houses of which appeared like mere points. Shakspeare Cliff was as nothing to it, and his beautiful lines would have fallen very short of the mark; and while we gazed, suddenly a cloud below us would pass between us and the view, and all would be hidden from the sight. Thus we were far above the clouds, and then the clouds would break, and open, and pass and repass over each other, until, like the dissolving views, all was clear again, although the landscape was not changed. It was towards noon before we saw the first mountain village, which we did not immediately enter, as we waited the arrival of the laggards: we stopped, therefore, at a spring of cold water, and enjoyed a refreshing wash. Here we fell in with some pretty Dyak girls, very scantily clothed, who were throwing water at each other in sport. We soon came in for a plentiful share, which we returned with interest; and in this amusing combat we passed half an hour, until all had joined the party. We then entered the village, which was situated in a grove of trees. The houses were built upon posts, as those down by the river side. They were immensely large, with a bamboo platform running the whole length of the building, and divided into many compartments, in each of which a Dyak family resides. We were escorted, through a crowd of wondering Dyaks, to a house in the centre of the village, which was very different in construction from the others. It was perfectly round, and well ventilated by numerous port-holes in the roof, which was pointed. We ascended to the room above by means of a rough ladder, and when we entered we were rather taken aback at finding that we were in the Head House, as it is termed, and that the beams were lined with human heads, all hanging by a small line passed through the top of the skull. They were painted in the most fantastic and hideous manner; pieces of wood, painted to imitate the eyes, were inserted into the sockets, and added not a little to their ghastly grinning appearance. The strangest part of the story, and which added very much to the effect of the scene, was, that these skulls were perpetually moving to and fro, and knocking against, each other. This, I presume, was occasioned by the different currents of air blowing in at the port-holes cut in the roof; but what with their continual motion, their nodding their chins when they hit each other, and their grinning teeth, they really appeared to be endowed with new life, and were a very merry set of fellows. However, whatever might be the first impression occasioned by this very unusual sight, it very soon wore off, and we amused ourselves with those motions which were "not life," as Byron says; and, in the course of the day, succeeded in making a very excellent dinner in company with these gentlemen, although we were none of us sufficiently Don Giovannis to invite our friends above to supper. We visited three villages on the Sarambo mountain. Each of these villages was governed by a chief of its own, but they were subordinate to the great chief, residing in the first village.
In the evening the major portion of the population came to the Head House, to exhibit to us their national dances. The music was composed of two gongs and two large bamboo drums. The men stood up first, in war costume, brandishing their spears and shields, and throwing themselves into the most extraordinary attitudes, as they cut with their knives at some imaginary enemy; at the same time uttering the most unearthly yells, in which the Dyak spectators joined, apparently highly delighted with the exhibition. The women then came forward, and went through a very unmeaning kind of dance, keeping time with their hands and feet; but still it was rather a relief after the noise and yelling from which we had just suffered. The chief, Macuta, expressing a wish to see a specimen of our dancing, not to let them suppose we were not as warlike as themselves, two of the gig's boat's crew stood up, and went through the evolutions of the broad-sword exercise in a very creditable manner. After this performance one of the seamen danced the sailor's hornpipe, which brought forth a torrent of yells instead of bravos, but they certainly meant the same thing. By this time, the heat from a large fire, with the smell of humanity in so crowded a room, became so overpowering, that I was glad to leave the Head House to get a little fresh air, and my ears relieved from the dinning of the drums and gongs. It was a beautiful starry night, and, strolling through the village, I soon made acquaintance with a native Dyak, who requested me to enter his house. He introduced me to his family, consisting of several fine girls and a young lad. The former were naked from the shoulders to below the breasts, where a pair of stays, composed of several circles of whalebone, with brass fastenings, were secured round their waists; and to the stays was attached a cotton petticoat, reaching to below their knees. This was the whole of their attire. They were much shorter than European women, but well made; very interesting in their appearance, and affable and friendly in their manners. Their eyes were dark and piercing, and I may say there was something wicked in their furtive glances; their noses were but slightly flattened; the mouth rather large; but when I beheld the magnificent teeth which required all its size to display, I thought this rather an advantage. Their hair was superlatively beautiful, and would have been envied by many a courtly dame. It was jet black, and of the finest texture, and hung in graceful masses down the back, nearly reaching to the ground. A mountain Dyak girl, if not a beauty, has many most beautiful points; and, at all events, is very interesting and, I may say, pretty. They have good eyes, good teeth, and good hair;—more than good: I may say splendid;—and they have good manners, and know how to make use of their eyes. I shall, therefore, leave my readers to form their own estimates by my description. Expecting to meet some natives in my ramble, I had filled my pockets with ship's biscuit, and which I now distributed among the ladies, who appeared very grateful, as they rewarded me, while they munched it, by darting wicked glances from their laughing eyes.
Observing that the lad wore a necklace of human teeth round his neck, his father explained to me, in pantomime, that they were the teeth of an enemy whom he slew in battle, and whose head was now in the Head House.
As it was getting late I bade my new friends farewell, by shaking hands all round. The girls laughed immoderately at this way of bidding good-bye, which, of course, was to them quite novel. I regretted afterwards that I had not attempted the more agreeable way of bidding ladies farewell, which, I presume, they would have understood better; as I believe kissing is an universal language, perfectly understood from the equator to the pole.
At daylight the next morning we descended the mountain, and, embarking in the boats, arrived at the ship late in the afternoon.
While at Sarawak we witnessed a very strange ceremony. Hearing a great noise in a house, we entered, and found ourselves in a large room crowded to excess by a numerous assemblage, singing in any thing but harmony. They proved to be natives of Java, assembled for the purpose of celebrating one of their festivals. On our entrance into the house, we were literally covered by the inmates with perfumes of the most delightful fragrance. Some of these odours were in a liquid state, and were poured down our backs, or upon our heads; others were in a state of powder, with which we were plentifully besprinkled. We were then escorted into the centre of the room, where we found a circle of elderly men, who were reading portions of their sacred books, and their voices were accompanied by music from instruments of native manufacture. We were treated with great attention, being permitted to enter the circle of the elders, who ordered the attendants to hand us refreshments, which consisted of cakes made of rice and cocoa-nut oil, and Sam-schoo. Some of our party, having become slightly elevated, volunteered a song, which proposition was opposed by the more reasonable. The Javanese were appealed to by the former, and they gave their votes in favour of the song. It was accordingly sung by our whole party, much to the delight of our kind entertainers, who, no doubt, considered that we felt and appreciated their rites. At length we took our leave, well pleased with our novel entertainment. So well did we succeed in making ourselves agreeable, that we received an invitation for the following night.
July 10th.—In the evening a display of fireworks took place, notice of which had been given to the rajah, and, indeed, to the whole population of Kuchin, who had all assembled near to the ship, to witness what they considered a most wonderful sight. Seamen were stationed at all the yard-arms, flying jib, and driver booms, with blue-lights, which were fired simultaneously with the discharge of a dozen rockets, and the great gun of a royal salute. The echoes reverberated for at least a minute after the last gun of the salute had been fired; and, judging by the yells of the natives, the display must have created a strong sensation. Immediately after the salute, the anchor was weighed, and we commenced dropping down the river with the ebb tide; but we soon grounded on the mud, and we remained all night with the bowsprit in the bushes which grow on the banks of the river.
The ship floated the next morning; the anchor was weighed, and with the assistance of the ebb tide, we dropped down the river at the rate of five miles per hour. As we were nearing a cluster of dangerous rocks, about a mile below Kuchin, we found that the ship was at the mercy of the rapid tide; and, notwithstanding all our endeavours, the ship struck on the rocks. Anchors were immediately laid out, but to no effect: the water rapidly shallowed, and we gave up all thoughts of getting off until the next flood tide. As the water left the ship, she fell over to starboard, and, an hour after she had grounded, she listed to starboard 25 degrees. Our position was now becoming critical: the main deck ports had been shipped some time previous, but this precaution did not prevent the water from gaining entrance on the main and lower decks. As she still continued to heel over to starboard, a hawser was taken on shore, and, by purchases, set taut to the mast head; but before this could be accomplished she had filled so much that it proved useless.
A boat was now despatched to Kuchin, to acquaint Mr. Brooke with our disaster, and to request the assistance of the native boats. During the absence of the boats, the top-gallant-masts had been sent down, and topmasts lowered; but the ship was now careening over 46 degrees, and full of water. All hopes of getting her off were therefore, for the present, abandoned; and we commenced removing every thing that could be taken out of her in the boats. The surveying instruments and other valuables, were sent up to Kuchin in the gig; and afterwards every thing that could be obtained from the ship was brought up in the native boats, as well as the whole crew of the Samarang. Mr. Brooke insisted upon all the officers making a temporary abode at his house, and prepared a shed for the crew. An excellent dinner was laid before the officers, while a substantial mess of fowls and rice was served out to the crew. In fact, the kindness of Mr. Brooke was beyond all bounds. The gentlemen who resided with him, as well as himself, provided us with clothes from their own wardrobes, and during our protracted stay did all in their power to make us comfortable; indeed, I may safely say, that we were so happy and comfortable, that there were but very few of the officers and crew of the Samarang that ever wished to see her afloat again. But I must return to my narrative.
The morning after our disaster we went down to the ship, and commenced recovering provisions and stores, sending down masts and yards, and every other article deemed necessary; and this was continued for several days: during which the midshipmen, petty officers, and seamen were removed to the opposite shore, where two houses had been, by Mr. Brooke, prepared for their reception. Our house, (the midshipmen's) we christened Cockpit Hall; it was very romantically situate in the middle of a plantation of cocoa nut, palm, banana, and plantain trees. It was separated from the house in which the seamen were barracked by a small kind of jungle, not more than 300 yards in extent, but so intricate that we constantly lost our way in it, and had to shout and receive an answer, or go back and take a fresh departure. Our garden, in which there was a delightful spring of cold water, extended on a gentle slope about a hundred yards in front of the house, where its base was watered by a branch of the Sarawak; in which we refreshed ourselves by bathing morning and evening, in spite of the numerous alligators and water snakes with which the river abounds. But our incautious gambols received a check. Two of our party agreed to proceed to the mouth of the branch I have mentioned, to determine which could return with the greatest speed. They had commenced their swimming race, when we, who stood ashore as umpires, observed an enormous water snake, with head erect, making for the two swimmers. We cried out to them to hasten on shore, which they did; while we kept up a rapid discharge of stones at the head of the brute, who was at last driven off in another direction. This incident induced us to be more cautious, and to keep within safe boundary for the future.
Our repose at Cockpit Hall was, however, much disturbed by the nightly visits of wild hogs, porcupines, wild cats, guanos, and various other animals, some of which made dreadful noises. When they paid us their visits, we all turned out, and, armed with muskets, commenced an assault upon them, which soon caused them to evacuate our domain; but similar success did not attend our endeavours to dislodge the swarms of musquitos, scorpions, lizards, and centipedes from our habitations. They secreted themselves in the thatch, and the sides of the house during the day, and failed not to disturb with their onslaughts during the whole of the night.
July 22d.—Mr. Hooper, the purser, was despatched in the Royalist to Sincapore, to purchase provisions and obtain assistance from any of the men-of-war who might be lying in the roads.
It is not necessary to enter into a minute detail of the service which we were now employed upon. It certainly was not a service of love, as we had to raise a ship which we hoped would remain where she was. To enter into particulars, technical terms must be resorted to, which would only puzzle the reader. The position of the Samarang was simply this: she lay on a rock, and had filled by careening over; as long as she was on her side, the water rose and fell in her with the flood and ebb of the tide; but if once we could get her on an even keel, as soon as the water left her with the ebb of the tide, all we had to do was to pump her out, and then she would float again. To effect this, we had to lighten her as much as possible, by taking out of her her guns and stores of every description; then to get purchases on her from the shore, and assist the purchases with rafts under her bilge, so as to raise her again upon an even keel. On the second day after she filled, when the tide had run out, we removed all our chests from the lower deck; most of them were broken, and a large proportion of the contents missing. On the 27th May every thing had been prepared, and the attempt to get the vessel on an even keel was made, and it proved successful, as it well might with the variety of purchases, and the force of men we had at our disposition. When we repaired to the ship with 100 Malays to man the purchase-falls, the tide was ebbing fast, and the pumps were immediately set to work; so that at midnight, when the tide commenced flowing, the ship was nearly free of water. The purchases were then manned, and with the assistance of the rafts the ship gradually righted. The following day, about half-past two in the morning, the ship was free of water, and had risen to a careen of 30 deg.; at 3 o'clock she floated into deep water, and was then anchored. During the forenoon of the same day the ship was towed to her former anchoring ground off Kuchin. The same night the Harlequin and Royalist arrived in the river, and a day or two afterwards a brig and schooner came over with the intention of bidding for the remains of the ship, and of stocking the officers with clothes and necessaries. This was a losing speculation, as may be imagined, arising from a report having been circulated that it was impossible to raise the ship, whereas, as the reader will perceive, there was very little difficulty in so doing, nothing but sufficient strength being required.
Our ship, as may be supposed, was in a most filthy state after the late immersion. Plunging into a river does not clean a vessel, although it does a man. The decks were literally coated with mud and slime, which emitted the most foetid odour. Silver spoons, watches, and valuables of every description, were everywhere strewed about, few of which ever reached their rightful owners; for the Malays who were employed to clean the ship had an eye to business, and secreted every thing which was portable. By dint of great exertion, the ship was in a few days ready to receive her tanks, guns, and stores, which were embarked by the Harlequin's boats and boats' crews. She was soon in a forward state, and an expedition was formed to survey a part of the coast during the completion of her refitting. The gig and one of the barges were fitted out for this service, and on August the 13th, at daylight, we left Kuchin, well armed, and provisioned for ten days. At 10 A. M. we dropped anchor under the Peak of Santabong, from which the branch of the Sarawak we were then in derives its name. Here we remained a short time to refresh the men, who had not ceased tugging at the oar from the time that we started. The foot of the Santabong mountain is about a quarter of a mile from the river. It then ascends almost perpendicularly to a great height, towering far above the neighbouring mountains. Afterwards it runs seaward for a mile or two, and terminates in a remarkable peak, which forms the eastern horn of the extensive bay between it and Tanjon Datu. Here we were about a week, during which time we had extended our survey to the last-mentioned cape, which is about forty miles to the westward of Santabong. While in the vicinity of Datu, a strict watch was kept, that we might have timely notice of the approach of any prahus. A short distance from the cape is a delightful bay studded with small islets, which is known by the appellation of Pirate's Bay, so called from its being a favourite resort of the Illanoan pirates. It was in this bay that the Dido's boats were anchored when they were surprised by several piratical prahus, the look-out men in the European boats, exhausted by the heat and long pulling at the oar, having fallen asleep. They had scarcely time to cut the cables and grasp their weapons ere they were assailed on all sides by the pirates, who felt confident of success, from having found them napping. But they little knew what people they had to deal with, and if Jack was asleep when they made the attack, they found him wide awake when they came to close quarters. All their endeavours to board in the face of the rapid fire of the boats' guns and small arms proved abortive, and they soon discovered that it would be quite sufficient for their purpose if, instead of capturing the boats, they could make their own escape. One of the prahus, pierced by the well-directed shot, foundered, another was abandoned, and the rest, favoured by darkness, made their escape. For a more detailed account, I must refer the reader to Captain Keppel's work on Borneo.
During the survey, we visited the islands of Talen Talen—the Malay word for turtle. These islands are the property of Mr. Brooke. A few Malays lived on the largest of them for the purpose of getting turtle eggs, with which they supply the trading prahus, who continually call here to lay in a stock of these eggs, which are considered a great luxury by the Malays. We landed with Mr. Williamson, the Malay interpreter at Sarawak, belonging to Mr. Brooke's establishment. We were well received by the Malays, who knew Mr. Williamson well, and he informed them that our object was to procure a live turtle. They requested us to take our choice of the numerous turtle then lying on the beach. We selected one of about three cwt.; but although the turtles are never turned on this island, she appeared to be aware that such was our intention, and scuttled off as fast as she could for the water; however, we intercepted her, and with some difficulty secured our prize. From one of the numerous nests on the beach we took 600 turtle eggs. As many thousands could have been as easily procured, but we had sufficient for our wants. The Malays watch during the night, to ascertain where the turtle deposits her eggs, for as soon as she has finished her task, she covers them with her nippers with sand, and immediately retires into the sea. A piece of wood is then set up as a mark for the nest, which is rifled as occasion requires. It is a curious fact that the male turtle never lands.
After visiting several villages on the coast, we returned to Kuchin on Saturday the 19th, when we found that death had deprived us of our only musician on board the ship, a loss which was much felt by the crew, as he contributed much to their amusement. One of the supernumerary boys had also fallen a victim to the dysentery; but, although we deplored our loss, we had great reason to be thankful that it had been no greater, as on the day we left Kuchin, we had upwards of seventy men on the sick report. The same day, at noon, the anchor was weighed, and we dropped down the river with the ebb tide. Strange to say, in spite of all our precautions, we struck on the same reef of rocks again; fortunately, however, the ship turned with the tide and grounded in the mud close to the bushes, from whence there was no extricating her till the flood tide had made. In the afternoon, when it was low water, a very large alligator was discovered asleep upon the rocks, which had been properly christened the Samarang Rocks, and which were now, at low ebb, several feet above water. A party of officers and marines pulled towards him, and fired a volley at him. The brute was evidently wounded, as he sprang up several feet in the air, and then disappeared under the water. Shortly after he again made his appearance, having landed on the opposite side of the river; his assailants again gave chase, and again wounded him, but he shuffled into the river and escaped.
At three in the afternoon, we were much pleased at the arrival of the Diana, one of the Company's steamers, sent from Sincapore to our assistance. She proved extremely useful, for that night we gained fifteen miles, when we again grounded and remained all night. On the following day, at eleven A. M., a cloud of thick smoke was observed rising above the jungle, which we immediately decided to proceed from a steamer. Shortly afterwards two masts appeared above the trees, and at one of them the Vixen's number was flying: she soon hove in sight. We weighed, and with the Harlequin, were towed down the river at a rapid pace. When we arrived at the entrance we anchored, finding there the Wanderer, and being joined soon afterwards by the Ariel, Royalist, and Diana, we formed a squadron of six vessels.
On the 23d August, the Samarang, Harlequin, Ariel, and Royalist, weighed anchor and steered along the coast for Borneo Proper, where we arrived on Tuesday the 29th. On the Thursday following, Mr. Brooke, accompanied by the captains of the three men-of-war and some officers, started in one of the barges for the city of Bruni, which was about eighteen miles from our anchorage. They had an audience with the sultan, but upon what cause I do not exactly know. They were treated with great civility, and returned to the ship about one o'clock on the following morning. My description of Bruni I shall reserve for a future visit. On the 5th of September we made sail for Hong Kong, with the Vixen in company, leaving the Ariel and Royalist to carry Mr. Brooke and the rajah's brother down to Sarawak. The Harlequin sailed for Sincapore. The Vixen having parted company to obtain fuel at Manilla, we continued our course to Hong Kong, where we arrived on the 14th inst., and found there Admirals Parker and Cochrane, in their respective ships the Cornwallis and Agincourt, with others of the squadron. We sailed again on the 2d of November, and after working up the coast of China for a week, we steered to the eastward, and on the 12th sighted the Bashee group. Here our surveying duties commenced in earnest, as we left the ship at four A. M. and did not return till darkness put an end to our labours. The governor of this group of islands sent a letter to our captain requesting the pleasure of seeing the ship in San Domingo Bay, where wood, water, and live stock could be obtained on reasonable terms. This letter was accompanied with a present of fruit and vegetables. A few days afterwards, we worked up to San Domingo Bay (Batan Island), and we were much surprised on our arrival to perceive that the town had a cathedral, of apparently ancient architecture, besides several houses built on the European style. The remainder of the town, which is of some extent, was composed of houses built of bamboo, and thatched with palm leaves.
We anchored late in the afternoon, and were boarded by a Spanish military officer, who, to judge by certain signs and peculiarities, had been imbibing something stronger than water. The captain and some of the officers went on shore, to call upon the governor. The governor's house was distinguished by a flag-staff, with the Spanish colours, or, rather, a remnant of the Spanish colours; and around the door stood a group of most indifferently clad Luzonian soldiers, turned out, we presumed, as a guard of honour. The governor was as much in dishabille as his troops, and shortly afterwards the party was joined by two priests and the governor's wife, a very pretty Creole, about twenty years of age. We were regaled with wine and chocolate, and parted late in the evening, on very friendly terms. The governor's house is a miserable abode: it has but one story, and the basement is a barrack for the soldiers. The upper part, inhabited by the governor, was very scantily furnished: a few old chairs, a couple of tables, and the walls whitewashed and decorated with prints of the Virgin Mary and his excellency's patron saint. The house of the priests, which adjoined the cathedral, was in much better repair, and more gaudy in the inside.
There are three missions in Batan, each settlement having its cathedral and officiating priests. The natives, who are a distinct race, are well-proportioned, of a copper colour, and medium stature. They are very ugly: their hair is black, and cut short. Their usual dress consists of a piece of cotton, passed round the loins, and a peculiar-looking conical hat, surmounted with a tuft of goat's hair. In rainy weather they wear a cloak of rushes, through which the water cannot penetrate. The sole covering of the women is a piece of cotton, fastened below the bosom, and reaching down to the knee. Almost the whole of the Bashee group of islands are very mountainous. At the back of San Domingo the land rises to a great height, forming a remarkable peak, which can be seen many leagues distant. Bullocks, goats, pigs, and vegetables, can be obtained at a very moderate price; but very little fruit is grown, the natives usually preferring to cultivate yams, cocoas, and sweet potatoes. The sugar-cane is cultivated, and the tobacco grown here is considered, with great justice, far superior to any grown at Luzon. After a week's stay at San Domingo we ran down to Ivana, one of the missions, and made a rough survey of the bay. The mission house at this place was fitted up with every comfort, and we even found luxuries which we looked in vain for at San Domingo.
After completing the survey of this portion of the island, the governor (who had accompanied us from San Domingo) and a party of us set off to return to San Domingo by land. Our path lay over mountains nearly 2000 feet in height, from the summit of which every point and inlet could be discerned, over the whole of the group which lay below, exactly as if they were laid down on a chart. Our walk was very fatiguing, and we were all rejoiced when, from an eminence, we descried the village of San Carlos, the residence of the warm-hearted and hospitable Father Nicholas. We descended into the vale, and were heartily welcomed by the jolly old priest, who regaled us with all that his larder could supply us. It had been arranged that the ship should leave Ivana for San Domingo on the following morning. At the entreaty of the good padre we remained at San Carlos all night, and the following morning returned to San Domingo, the ship anchoring in the bay on the same afternoon. We had now become quite domesticated with the friendly Spaniards. In the evenings we were received by an assemblage of the natives at the governor's house. They were dressed in their best, and went through an unmeaning dance, which was kept up till a late hour.
On the 27th November we left Batan, and its kind inhabitants, who exacted a promise that we would return at some future period, and shaped a course for the Madjicosima islands, which are subject to the kingdom of Loo Choo. On the afternoon of the 1st of December land was discovered ahead, and a few hours afterwards we anchored in a narrow passage, surrounded by reefs on every side. We were anchored off the island of Pa-tchu-san, one of the group: it was very mountainous. On the following morning the captain and some of the officers went on shore. They were received by several hundred natives, who saluted them as they passed on their way to a temporary shed, where a levee was held by all the principal mandarins. Our Chinese interpreter, who was a native of Canton, explained the captain's wishes, and the nature of the service that we were employed on. They appeared uneasy at the proposal of our surveying the whole group, and informed the captain that they would refer the question to the viceroy, and give him a final answer on the morrow. This answer was in the affirmative, and a few days afterwards we commenced our survey of the islands. We were attended by the natives, who furnished us with horses, and anticipated our wishes in every thing that could make us comfortable. On the first day, at sunset, we arrived at a temple dedicated to Fo, romantically situated in a grove of trees, which concealed the elevation until you were within a few yards of it. Here it was proposed to take up our quarters for the night, and a more delightful spot could not well be imagined than our resting-place.
The temple was built at the foot of a hill, within a few hundred yards of the sea. Lights were displayed as a signal to the stragglers, groups of whom might be seen by the light of the moon, reposing themselves on the ridge behind us. The glare of the torches brought them all down to us, both men and horses anxious for rest after the arduous toil of the day. Just as I was dropping off to sleep, one of my messmates said to another, "I say, Jemmy, I wonder whether your mother has any idea that you are sleeping in the temple of Fo, on the island of Pa-tchu-san?" A loud snore was the only reply, proving that the party addressed was unconscious of the island Pa-tchu-san, the temple of Fo, or of his mother, and the bells ringing for church.
Pa-tchu-san, as I have before observed, is very mountainous and exceedingly picturesque. A high ridge covered with trees extends the whole length of the island, north and south. On either side of this ridge are innumerable grassy knolls and mounds from which we looked down upon the extensive plain on either side, which was studded with knolls similar to those that we were standing on. During our survey we passed through all the villages bordering the sea, at the entrance of which we were invariably received by all the principal inhabitants. All their villages or towns are surrounded by the most luxurious groves, which have been apparently planted, for in many parts not a shrub could be seen beyond the confines of the town. The roads through the towns or streets generally meet at right angles, lined on each side with gigantic trees. The houses are built within enclosures raised with huge stones. These houses are strongly built, the frame being composed of four uprights of large timber, to which are attached cross pieces on the top of them, of the same dimensions as their supporters. Openings are left on each side of the house, which, when the owner pleases, can be closed by well-fitted shutters on the sliding principle. The roofs are thatched with paddy stalks. The floor frame is raised about two feet from the ground, and on it are fixed strong slips of bamboo, which are covered over with mats. These afford very comfortable sitting and sleeping apartments. The only inconvenience was, that the fire was made in the corner of the sitting-room, and as there was no vent for the smoke, we were nearly stifled. This nuisance was, however, soon removed by a word to the natives through the medium of the interpreter, and afterwards the fire was lighted, and the victuals cooked, at an adjoining shed.
The natives of the Madjicosima islands are rather below the middle stature, but very strong and muscular. Their hair is worn in a very peculiar manner; the crown of the head is shaved, leaving a circle of long hair, which is turned up on the top of the head and tied into a knot of a peculiar shape. Through this knot of hair are passed two brass ornaments by the common people, but the chiefs are distinguished by silver ones. These are evidently intended to keep the knot in its right position. They cultivate the moustache and the beard, the latter being worn pointed. Their dress consists of a long loose robe of blue or cross-barred cotton stuffs, which reaches down nearly to the ancles. This robe is fastened to the waist by a girdle of the same material, and in which they keep their fans, pipes, &c. The sleeves of the robe are very large, widening as they approach the wrists, which are consequently bare. Their shoes or sandals are very ingeniously made of wicker work, and confined to the foot by means of a strap between the larger toes of each foot.
The inhabitants of these islands certainly deserve to be ranked among the most gentle and amiable of nations: no boisterousness attends their conversation, no violent gestures to give effect to the words; on the contrary, their voices are modulated when they are speaking, and their actions, although decided, are gentle. Their mode of salutation is graceful in the extreme. It consists in a low bending of the head, accompanied with a slight inclination of the body, and the hands closed, being raised at the same time to the forehead. What a change in a few degrees of latitude, in manners, customs, and dispositions, between the savage pirates of Borneo and these amiable islanders!
The plains between the mountains are cultivated as paddy fields: the soil appears very good, and there is little doubt but that every kind of fruit would grow if introduced into these islands; and what a fitting present it would be to them, if they were to be sent. They grow radishes, onions, and sweet potatoes, but not more than are sufficient for their own use. They supplied us with bullocks, pigs, goats, and fowls, but they seldom kill them for their own use; their principal diet being composed of shell fish and vegetables made into a sort of stew, which is eaten with rice, worked by the hand into balls. Every man of consequence carries with him a kind of portable larder, which is a box with a shelf in the middle, and a sliding door. In this are put cups of Japan, containing the eatables. This Chow Chow box is carried by a servant, who also takes with him a wicker basket, containing rice and potatoes for his own consumption.
These islands have no intercourse with any part of the world except Loo Choo, to which they pay tribute as dependencies, and from whence they annually receive the necessaries they may require, by a junk. They had no idea that the continents of Europe or America existed. They had only heard of China, Loo Choo, and Japan, and they could hardly credit our assertions when we stated that we had lately gained a great victory over China. When we gave them a description of steam vessels, and first-rate men-of-war carrying 120 guns, they evidently disbelieved us. We were the first white men they had ever seen; and ludicrous was the repeated examination of our arms, which they bared and contrasted with their own. After great persuasion a few of the chief mandarins and their suites visited the ship, which was put in holiday attire upon the occasion. It would be impossible to attempt to describe their rapture at the neatness, order, and regularity which reigned on board. The guns were shotted and fired for their amusement: they threw up their hands in astonishment, and gazed on us and on each other with looks of blank amazement. During the whole of our peregrinations over these islands we never saw a female, for on our approach to any village a courier was sent ahead to warn the inhabitants of our arrival, when the women either shut themselves up or retired to an adjacent village until we had passed through. The men assisted us in our labours and attended to our comforts by all the means in their power. Horses were provided every day, houses for us at night, and good substantial repasts. Wherever they enter, the natives invariably eat and drink, more, I believe, from custom than from hunger. On these occasions tea is the general beverage, the kettle being a large shell, which admirably answers the purpose. It may be worthy of remark, that on entering a house, the shoes or sandals are invariably left at the door. Two of the chiefs were deservedly great favourites with our party; they were given the famous names of Chesterfield and Beaufort, the former from his gentlemanly manners, the latter from the profound knowledge he displayed of all rocks, shoals, &c. On the 17th of December, having completed our survey of Pa-tchu-san, we returned to the ship: on the 22d we left our anchorage, which was christened Port Providence, and ran round to Kuchee Bay on the opposite side of the island. This noble bay was called Port Haddington, in honour of the late first lord of the Admiralty. On the 27th the first barge, cutter, and gig left the ship to survey the island Ku-king-san, the nearest port of which was about twenty miles from Kuchee Bay, alias Port Haddington, where we lay at anchor. The boats carried with them provisions for three weeks, by which time it was supposed that the survey would be completed. As the formation of this island is similar to Pa-tchu-san, it would be but repetition to describe it minutely, but it is worthy of remark that it is indented with numerous deep bays, in each of which there is sufficient water for a ship of the line. Many of these bays have natural breakwaters, created by shoals, with a deep water passage on either side of them, and which may be easily distinguished from the shoals by the deep blue colour of the water.
On the 15th of January, 1844, the surveying party returned, having been absent twenty days. We were again visited by the mandarins, who came to bid us farewell: they quitted us with many expressions of good will, and expressed a wish that we would return again, and as individuals, I had no doubt of their sincerity.
On the 18th of January we sailed for Ty-ping-san, which is situated about seventy miles north of Pa-tchu-san. On the following day we sighted the land, and late in the evening anchored off the coast. This island is low, compared with the other islands of the group. The following morning the captain landed and presented a letter of introduction given him by the mandarins of Pa-tchu-san. The letter of introduction had the best effects, for we were immediately visited by the principal mandarins, who informed us that we should be furnished with horses and every thing else that we might require.
It was on a reef to the northward of this island that the Providence, of twenty guns, was wrecked about fifty years back. Captain Broughton and the crew arrived safely at Ty-ping-san, but the present inhabitants, when it was mentioned, either did not or would not recollect any thing of the circumstances. As a proof of the morality of these people, and how much crime is held in abhorrence, I have the following little history to narrate.
During our survey, we fixed a station upon the extremity of a bleak and desolate point of land running more than a mile into the sea. There, in a cave formed by a reef on a mass of rock, we discovered two skeletons. This would not have so much excited our suspicion, had it not been from the remarkable locality, as in all the graves we fell in with the corpses were invariably uncoffined. We expressed a wish to know why such a spot should have been fixed upon as a last resting-place, as it was many miles from the nearest habitation. It was not until after much entreaty that they at length, very reluctantly, consented to give us the desired explanation, which, as nearly as I can recollect, was as follows:—
A young girl, who was considered as the belle and pride of the nearest town, had formed an attachment to a youth who had been brought up with her, as a playmate, from their earliest years; and it was acknowledged by the inhabitants of the town that a more fitting match could not be made, as the young man was of most graceful mien, and equally well favoured as his mistress; but the father of the girl, who had been all along blind to the natural consequences of their long intimacy, had other views for his daughter, and had selected a husband for her whose chief recommendation was his wealth. So far it is the old story.
To oppose her father's commands was not to be thought of, for filial obedience is, with this people, one of the most sacred of duties. The bridal day approached; presents had been exchanged between the parents of the parties; and every thing was in a forward state for the celebration of the nuptials, with all the magnificence befitting the wealthy condition of the bridegroom. The lovers were in a state of phrensy, but solaced themselves with stolen interviews. At length the poor girl, urged by her lover, confessed every thing to her father, and implored his mercy. He was thunderstruck at this intelligence, for till that moment he had imagined that his daughter had not a thought to which he was not privy. The most rigorous discipline was resorted to—the girl was confined to her chamber, and spies placed to watch every motion. Those to whom she thought she could trust were suborned by her father, and to him were conveyed all the letters which she believed to have been safely conveyed to her lover. His notes being also intercepted, at last each considered the other as faithless. The poor girl, imagining that her lover had forsaken her, at last sent to her father, to acquaint him that she had returned to her duty, and was ready to receive the man whom he had selected for her husband. They were married: but she deceived herself; as soon as the ceremony was over, the courage which had supported her gave way, her former feelings returned stronger than ever, and she hated herself for her fickleness. Her heart whispered that it was impossible that one possessing every great and every amiable quality, as did her lover, could ever have proved faithless, or would have abandoned one who loved him so dearly. As she sat in the garden and wept, a slight noise attracted her attention, and she found in her presence her lover, disguised, who had come to take a last farewell. Explanations immediately ensued—they found that they had been tricked—their love and their despair overcame their reason, and they fled. The father and bridegroom pursued the guilty pair, and after a most rigorous search, they were discovered. They knew that their fate was sealed, and they bore up bravely to the last. They were arraigned, found guilty, and condemned to death; after which their bodies were to be removed far from any dwelling-place. The sentence was carried into effect, and their remains were deposited in the cave in which we discovered them. Many parents might draw a lesson from this tragedy, and anybody who feels inclined may write a novel upon it; it must not, however, bear the same title as the Chinese one translated by Governor Davis, which is styled the "Fortunate Union."
In ten days we completed the survey of the island, and sailed for Batan, where we arrived on the 7th of February. There we remained a few days, and then sailed for Hong Kong, having but three days' provisions on board. We encountered a heavy gale; but, fortunately, it was in our favour. On the 9th a junk was reported in sight; and in the course of an hour we were sufficiently near to perceive that the people on board of her were making signals of distress, and cutting away her masts. We hove to as near to her as we could venture, for the sea ran high, and lowered a boat, which reached the junk in safety. They found her to be in a sinking state: a hawser was made fast to her, with the intention of towing her into Hong Kong, then not fifty miles distant. We again made sail, towing the junk at a rapid rate; but the strain caused her planks to sever, and consequently increased the rush of water in her hold. The Chinese hailed the ship, and entreated to be rescued from their perilous condition. She was immediately hauled alongside, and twelve of her crew succeeded in getting on board of us; but the hawser gave way, and the junk drifted astern, with five men still remaining on board. Sail was immediately made, and in a short time we ran alongside of her, staving in her bulwarks, for both vessels were rolling heavily. Fortunately her mainmast had gone by the board; had it been still standing, and had become locked in our rigging, we should have been in great peril ourselves. The remaining five men and a dog gained the ship, and the junk again went astern, and in three minutes afterwards went to the bottom. When they saw her sink, the Chinese raised up a cry at their miraculous escape. One poor fellow had his hand shockingly mutilated, it having been crushed between the sides of the two vessels.
The wind had now much subsided, and we made sail for Hong Kong, where we arrived on the following day. There we found the Agincourt, Sir Thomas Cochrane, who was now commander-in-chief, Sir William Parker having sailed for England. The cutter and two of the Company's steamers were also here; and the Minden hospital ship, as usual, crowded with the sick and dying. Our first lieutenant, Mr. Wade, took this opportunity of leaving the ship, and Mr. Heard succeeded him.
On the 6th we sailed for Macao, which is too well known to require any description here. On the 10th we sailed for Manilla, an account of which I shall reserve for our future visit. On the 1st of April we again sailed, on a surveying cruise, to the southward. After fixing the positions of several small islands in the Mendoro Sea, we steered for Samboangan, a Spanish penal colony, situated at the southern extremity of Mindanao. On the 8th we arrived there, and took up our anchorage close to the town.
Samboangan is built on an extensive plain; most of the houses are supported on poles ten or twelve feet from the ground. The roofs are thatched, and the sides covered with palm leaves, ingeniously secured by strips of bamboo. The fort is well built; and although a century old, is in very good preservation. It has a numerous garrison, and is defended by guns of large calibre. There is also an establishment of gun-boats, which scour the coast in search of pirates. On each side, and at the back of the town, are groves of cocoa-nuts, bamboos, plantains, and other fruit trees, through which narrow paths are cut, forming delightful shady walks to a stranger, who gazes with astonishment and pleasure upon the variety of delicious fruits, of whose existence he had no idea. The plain on which the town is built extends about eight miles inland, when it is bounded by a chain of mountains, which divides the Spanish territory from that of the warlike tribes who inhabit the interior.
The plain I have spoken of is covered with small villages, pleasantly situated among thick groves of trees; and it is watered by numerous streams. The whole country around Samboangan abounds in scenery of the most picturesque description; and the groups of gaily-dressed and joyous natives in no small degree add to the beauty of the landscape. Horses can be obtained at very moderate charges; but unfortunately no one has ever thought of establishing an hotel, and the want of one was much felt. We were, therefore, thrown upon the hospitality and kindness of the natives, who made us welcome by every demonstration in their power. Fruit, chocolate, and sweet biscuits, were the ordinary refreshments, for which the charges made scarcely repaid the trouble of preparing them.
The church, priests' and governor's houses, are the only respectable buildings in the colony; the other houses in the town are very inferior, being inhabited by liberated exiles from Manilla. We remained here five days, and early on the morning of the 13th ran down to a watering-place about fifteen miles from the town, and completed our water.
The same night we sailed for Sooloo; and the next day, when performing divine service, it being Sunday, the officer of the watch reported five prahus in sight, full of men, and each armed with a long gun, pulling towards the ship. It was quite calm at the time, and our main deck ports were open. No doubt they perceived the daylight through the ports, and satisfied themselves that we were a man-of-war, for they soon afterwards altered their course, and made for the shore. We presumed that they were pirates from the island of Baselan, who, fancying we were a merchant vessel, had come out with the intention of attacking us.
At noon on the 16th of April we made the town of Sooloo, the capital of the island of the same name. It being calm, and the ship at some distance from the anchorage, the gig was sent ahead to board one of the three schooners lying in the bay, and hoist a light, as a guide to the ship; and a rocket was put into the boat to fire in case of being attacked by superior numbers. There were but five men in the gig!
After two hours' hard pulling, they arrived alongside the largest of the three vessels. She proved to be the Velocipede, an English vessel, trading to Sooloo for pearl oysters. The owner of the schooner soon came from the shore, having been sent off by the sultan of Sooloo to know the object of our visit. He was accompanied by several Datus or chiefs, who went back to the town perfectly satisfied with the explanation given. But the arrival of a man-of-war appeared to excite the fears of the natives, for gongs were sounding throughout the night, and lights were flitting to and fro, by the aid of which it was perceived that there was a strong assemblage of the natives.
The ship anchored on the afternoon of the following day, and the captain, attended by several of his officers, visited the sultan. We were received by the prime minister, who informed us that the sultan was somewhat indisposed, and begged to postpone the interview until the following day. Leaving the palace, we strolled through the town, which is partly built in the water; bridges, formed of interlaced bamboo, were the means of communication between the houses. As these bridges were some hundred yards in length, the walking was somewhat dangerous; a slip would have been the cause of a good ducking and a swim to any unlucky wight, which, I have no doubt, would have given great satisfaction to the townspeople, who, armed with spears, krisses, and shields, were watching our motions; but no such mishap occurred, and we returned on board before sunset. Next day the captain and the same party went again on shore, and were received by the sultan in person. He was dressed in the extreme of Malay fashion. He was an excessively plain young man, and seemed to be ill at ease during the whole of the conference. He appeared to be a mere puppet in the hands of his ferocious chiefs, who had all the conversation, without referring to their royal master at any time.
The sultan's dress consisted of a purple satin jacket and green velvet trousers, both trimmed with gold and silver lace; a red sash confined his trousers at the waist; and in the sash he wore a kris of the most costly description. He wore diamond buttons on his jacket, which, being open, exposed his naked chest. But the party who mostly excited our interest was the heir apparent, a child of four years old, who was dressed as an adult, even to his miniature kris. He bids fair to be a handsome man. His laughing face and engaging manner caused him to be caressed by the whole party, a circumstance which evidently gave much pleasure to the sultan. We were regaled with chocolate, sweet cakes, and fruit; and every attention paid to us by the chiefs. At our departure the sultan and ministers shook hands warmly with every one of our party, and we returned on board, accompanied by Mr. Wyndham, of the Velocipede schooner, who, being a perfect master of the tongue, had acted as an interpreter on this occasion.
The Samarang was the first English man-of-war that had called at Sooloo since the visit of Dalrymple in 1761, when he reinstated on the throne the sultan (grandfather to the present one), who had been deposed by his rebellious subjects.
Great Sooloo is about fifty miles in length, and twenty-five in breadth, being the largest of a group of islands known as the Sooloo Archipelago. This group of islands is inhabited by a fierce and warlike race, bearing in their personal appearance a strong resemblance to the Malays, although the two languages differ materially from each other. Great Sooloo, the residence of the sultan, is very mountainous. Many of the mountains are wooded to the summit, while others are covered with patches of cultivation. These islands are thickly populated; and if the islanders do not practise piracy as a profession, they are always ready to aid, assist, and protect those who do. The town of Sooloo is well known to be the principal rendezvous of pirates, who, whenever they have made a capture, resort there to dispose of their lawless booty. The ministers, and even the sultan himself, are not able to resist the temptation of being able to purchase European goods, and articles of value, for less than half their real value. If not the stealers, they are the receivers, and thus they patronise piracy of every description. Governed by their own prince, and independent of any other power, the people of Sooloo have most extravagant notions of their own prowess, and of the strength of their fortifications; and they ridicule the idea of any one venturing to interfere with or attack them.
On the 18th of April we sailed from Sooloo, and visited several islands in the Archipelago, on one of which we grounded, but escaped without sustaining any damage. On the 23rd we anchored off Unsang, the eastern province of Borneo, where we remained four days surveying the coast. A shooting and fishing party visited the shore daily: the former killed several wild hogs, and the latter brought every evening a plentiful supply of fish.
On the 27th of April sailed from Unsang. This day we first served out our ship-brewed porter, in addition to the usual allowance of spirits. It continued to be served out nightly, but opinions were very different about its merits.
For several days after leaving Unsang, we had but little or no wind, and we were borne away by a strong easterly current, till we were carried in sight of Celebes, which is high and mountainous, and covered with dense forests of gigantic trees. On Sunday, the 4th of May, we arrived off Cape Rivers (Celebes), the position of which was determined by astronomical observations. It was the intention of the captain to have passed through the Straits of Macassar, but light wind, and a strong current from the southward, would not permit us to gain a mile per day. After experiencing very disagreeable weather while off the coast, we bore up and made sail for Monado, a Dutch settlement on one of the north-western promontories of this remarkably shaped island. Our passage was any thing but agreeable; scarcely a night passed that we were not visited by strong squalls, accompanied by thunder, lightning, and heavy rain. On Sunday, the 18th, we anchored in forty-eight fathoms off the town of Monado, within two cables' length of the shore, which shelves very suddenly into deep water. A kedge was laid out in-shore of the ship, and kept well taut; a requisite precaution, as otherwise, if the land breeze blew off strong, the ship would have dragged her anchor down the steep beach, and drifted out.
The town of Monado is built on a plain surrounded by mountains, the highest of which, Klabat, is 6000 feet above the level of the sea. The houses are well built, and neatly thatched; they are all detached, and enclosed in a yard or garden. The roads are excellent, and reflect great credit upon a Prussian engineer, who undertook the task. The fort, which is at the water's edge, is small, but strongly built, and well adapted to resist the attack of any native force, although I should imagine it could not hold out any time against the well-directed fire of a frigate's broadside. A party of us enjoyed a pleasant ramble through the town and suburbs, which are dotted with neat cottages, where their owners invited us to enter and partake of refreshments. We went into several, and found them scrupulously neat and clean, as Dutch houses usually are. The people who entertained us refused all compensation, and it was with difficulty that we prevailed upon the black-eyed damsels to accept our silk handkerchiefs by way of reminiscences. Very few Europeans reside here, although their half-bred offspring may be seen in every tenth person, and they boast of the European blood which flows in their veins. Monado abounds with poultry, fruit, vegetables, and all the necessaries of life. Cocoa and sugar are cultivated. Stock is easily obtained, and very moderate; and water is procured from a small river which divides the town. Boats should enter the river at last quarter flood, and return first quarter ebb, as the tide falls rapidly; and at low water the bar at the entrance is dry. During our stay we surveyed the major portion of the bay, finding nothing under 150 fathoms of water at one-third of a mile from the shore.
We found here a Mr. Hart, who had been left at this place in consequence of his precarious state, from a gun-shot wound he had received on the Coti River (Borneo). Mr. Hart was a volunteer in the ill-fated expedition undertaken by Mr. Murray, who attempted to establish a colony in the Coti River, and who lost his life in an encounter with the natives. The vessels employed—a brig and a schooner—were fitting out at Hong Kong while we were there. We fell in with the schooner (the Young Queen) the day after we left Manilla. The captain of her came on board to give us the intelligence of the failure of the expedition, with the death of its leader. Misfortune appeared to cling to them, for, soon after the schooner left Coti, the crew of her mutinied, and the mutiny was not put down but by the death of the ringleader, who was shot by the commander. He was bound to Hong Kong to deliver himself up for trial for taking the life of the man, and I hardly need observe that he was fully acquitted. This gentleman was a brother of Mr. Hart.
On the 26th of May, our observations being completed, we sailed from Monado; Mr. Hart, with the captain's permission, taking advantage of this opportunity of reaching Sincapore. The following day we ran through the Straits of Banca, and steered for Ternate, off which island we arrived on the following Saturday. On Sunday morning, before daylight, we struck heavily on a coral reef, but by dint of great exertion we got off, and floated at six. A boat was despatched to the Dutch governor of the town to state that it was not our intention to anchor. The island of Ternate is, I believe, governed by a sultan, who has sway over several other islands. The Dutch have a settlement here, and have long been on good terms with the ruling powers. It is the most important of the Molucca group, as it produces a vast quantity of cloves, beside every variety of tropical fruits. It was taken by us in 1810, and restored in 1815. This island, as far as I could judge, is perfectly round, and about twenty-five miles in circuit, the land gradually rising to a huge peak in the centre. It is of volcanic formation. It is well wooded, and abounds with game; and on this island the boa constrictor grows to the largest size, being often found upwards of thirty feet in length. The Dutch town is built on the south-east side of the island. The houses appear to be better constructed than those of Monado, and the whole town better arranged. There are several forts, two churches, and apparently about 400 houses. The one occupied by the governor is distinguished from the others by its size, and superiority of architecture and decorations. We obtained quantities of every description of fruit from the boats which crowded round the ship: in addition to shaddocks, pineapples, oranges, bananas, and many other common varieties, we had the delightful treat of the mangosteins, which grow only in these latitudes. It is impossible to describe the peculiarly grateful taste of this cool and refreshing fruit. It is a mixture of the sweet and acid, blended in the most luscious manner. It is in size somewhat smaller than an apple, and the skin, which is very thick and bitter, of a dark plum colour. This when dried is used as a remedy for the dysentery. The inside, which is nearly white, is divided into four parts, resembling in substance a firm jelly; and, in my opinion, gives one more the idea of what nectar was, or ought to be, than any thing else which enters into the mouth of man. We decided that the Peak of Ternate was the true Mount Olympus, and that it was there that the gods were assembled and, in ancient days, ate mangosteins, called nectar by the Greeks.
The boat which had been sent on shore to the governor at length returned, and we made sail to the southward, to survey a portion of the coast of Gilolo (another of the Spice Islands), which was supposed to be laid down incorrectly in the charts.
On the morning of Monday, the 3rd of June, the ship being off the coast of Gilolo, the gig with the captain, and the barge with several officers, left the ship with four days' provisions to survey a portion of the coast. At 11 A. M. they landed on a reef, running out about a cable's length from a small island. About two in the afternoon a body of natives, armed with spears and krisses, issued with loud yells from the jungle, and advanced towards them. At the same time a prahu pulled round a point, and made towards the barge, which was at anchor about fifty yards from the shore. The captain was at the time on shore taking observations, but as the natives approached he retired to the gig and got the arms in readiness. The natives came within 100 yards of us, and then halted. The captain signed them to go away: they approached nearer; we gave them a volley, and they hastily retreated into the jungle.
The barge was now prepared for the expected attack of the prahu, which by this time had approached within point blank range of the barge's gun, which was a brass six-pounder. Observing, it is to be presumed, that the boat was so well-armed, and the men were loading the gun, the prahu ceased pulling, and hoisted Dutch colours. They were ordered to pull for the Gilolo shore, which they did; a rocket fired at them quickening their speed considerably. At 3 P. M. the observations being completed, the astronomical instruments were re-embarked on the barge, and the captain quitted the gig and went into the barge. Both boats were pulled towards the main land. On the in-shore side of the small island I have mentioned, we discovered a village consisting of fifteen or twenty houses. The gig was despatched with two officers to burn the village, which was done; the natives who were in the huts escaping into the jungle. In the mean time, the barge proceeded towards a large village in search of the prahu. On their way they fell in with a large canoe, at anchor in one of the creeks.
Taking the canoe in tow, we again took to the oars, and in a short time perceived the natives hauling the prahu into a creek. A round of grape quickly decided the matter; the natives fled, and the prahu was quietly taken possession of by our crew. Having effected our object, we proceeded along the coast with our two prizes in tow. At sunset, after rifling the boats of arms, flags, and gongs, we set them on fire, and made sail to the southward; the gig, which had rejoined us, being in company. About midnight we anchored in a small and lonely bay,—I should say, twenty miles from where the above occurrences took place. We took our meals, but did not attempt to repose till after two in the morning, although we were quite tired after the events of the day before. We then lay down, and composed ourselves to sleep.
We had not, however, been recumbent long, ere the sounds of gongs were heard at a distance; and shortly afterwards the man on the look-out reported that three prahus were coming into the bay. A short time sufficed to have every thing in readiness for the expected conflict.
The foremost of the prahus approached within ten yards of the barge, lowered her sail, and rounded to. A native, one of the chiefs we presumed, inquired in broken English if we belonged to a ship. The captain would not satisfy him on that point, but desired him to go away.
The other two prahus, having been joined by a third (making four in all), had now closed within half pistol shot, and lowered their sails.
Seeing that we were completely enclosed, a musket-ball was fired over the largest prahu. The men in the prahus gave their accustomed yell, and the whole force advanced towards us.
The six-pounder, loaded with round and grape, was now fired into the largest prahu; the cries and confusion were great; the crew of the prahu leapt into the water, but few arrived on shore,—they sunk under the fire of our muskets. The three other prahus then commenced a spirited fire from their guns and small arms, assisted by a flight of arrows and spears.
Pulling within twenty yards of them, we plied them alternately with grape and canister from our six-pounder. The engagement continued with great vigour for some time, when their fire slackened; and shortly afterwards two more of the prahus were deserted by their crews, who made for the shore; the fourth made off. The three prahus were taken possession of, towed into deep water, and anchored. Leaving the gig in charge of them, we went in pursuit of the fourth prahu, and soon came up with her; but her crew escaped by running the boat on shore.
Another prahu now hove in sight, pulling, or rather paddling, towards us. Leaving our prize, we faced our new antagonist, saluting her with grape and musquetry, and causing so much havoc, that, shrieking and yelling, they made for the nearest shore without returning a single shot. We followed her, firing into her as fast as possible. On coming up with her we found her aground, with six dead and one mortally wounded; the remainder of the crew had saved themselves by wading to the shore. After getting this prahu afloat, we brought the other prahu, which we had just before captured (No. 4.), alongside. This boat was crowded with dead and dying. Among the latter was a female child, apparently about eight months old, in a state of nudity. The poor little creature's left arm was nearly severed from its body by a grape shot. She was removed into the boat, where the rest of the wounded were placed, with as much care as possible. A low moaning sound escaped from her lips, her eyes were glazed, and she evidently was fast dying: it would have been a mercy to have put an end to her sufferings. The dead were then thrown overboard, and the prahu set on fire; the last prahu, containing the wounded, was left to her fate.
It was now daylight, and on looking around we perceived five more prahus off a point between the gig and ourselves in the barge and several others pulling in from seaward. We gave way for the five prahus, which were drawn up in a line ready to receive us. Notwithstanding their fire, assisted by their spears and other missiles, we pulled within fifteen yards of the outermost prahu of the five, and discharged our gun, accompanied by a volley of musquetry. The other prahus now closed and poured in a heavy fire; but, although the barge was struck, not one of our men was injured. The repeated fire from the boats soon caused the people in the prahus to make for the shore through the water, when many of them fell from our musquetry. It was now about six o'clock in the morning, our last charge of canister shot was in the gun, the last rocket in the tube, and nearly all the percussion caps expended. The barge was pulled closer to the nearest prahu to give more effect to the discharge, and the captain was in the stern of the barge with the rocket tube in hand, when one of the prahus on shore fired her swivel; the ball struck the captain, and knocked him overboard. He was hauled in, and we found that he had received a severe wound in the groin, which was dressed by the surgeon.
Lieutenant Baugh now took the command, and the gun was discharged with good effect, and all the people on board of the prahus, who were able to escape, made for the shore. One of our marines was wounded in the neck with an arrow, and, with the exception of the captain, no other casualty took place.
The fight would have been continued with the round shot still left in the barge, but the assistant surgeon was anxious that the captain should return to the ship and have the ball extracted. The barge therefore pulled for the ship, whose royals were just visible above the horizon. The pirates, finding that we were retreating, returned to their prahus and fired their guns at us, but without effect.
We arrived on board about 9 A. M., and the ship's head was put towards the scene of action, while the barge and two cutters were despatched in search of the gig, of whose safety we had great doubts. About 11.30, A.M., the second cutter, being in advance, discovered a sail in shore, and which, by the aid of our telescopes, we made out to be the gig. When we closed with her, and found that all was right we were greatly relieved. We heard from Mr. Hooper, the purser, who was in her, that after waiting in vain for the barge's return, he set fire to the prahus. In one of them he found a woman and child alive, whom he landed at the nearest point. He then pulled in the direction we had gone, being guided by the sound of our guns. On his arrival in the bay we were not in sight, and perceiving several prahus with flags flying and gongs beating, he naturally concluded that we had been overpowered, and he was making the best of his way towards the ship. The boats continued pulling towards the shore, leaving the gig to return to the ship and ease the minds of the ship's company respecting her safety.