When the Portuguese were masters of Malacca, they had no less than three churches and a chapel within the fortress, and one on the outside. That which is now used for worship by the Dutch stands conspicuously on the top of a hill, and may be seen for a great distance up or down the straits. It has a flag-staff on the top of its steeple, where a flag is always displayed on seeing a ship. The fort is large and strong. A third part of its walls is washed by the sea: A deep, narrow, and rapid river covers its western side; and all the rest is secured by a broad, deep ditch. The governor's house is both beautiful and convenient, and there are several other good houses, both in the fort and the town. But, owing to the shallowness of the sea at this place, ships are obliged to ride above a league off, which is a great inconvenience, as the fort is of no use to defend the roads. The straits here are not above four leagues broad, and though the opposite coast of Sumatra is very low, it may easily be seen in a clear day: Hence the sea here is always quite smooth, except in squalls of wind, which are generally accompanied with thunder, lightning, and rain. These squalls, though violent, seldom last more than an hour.
The country of Malacca produces nothing for exportation, except a little tin and elephants teeth; but has several excellent fruits and roots for the use of its inhabitants, and the refreshment of strangers who navigate this way. The pine-apples of Malacca are esteemed the best in the world, as they never offend the stomach; while those of other places, if eaten in the smallest excess, are apt to occasion surfeits. The mangostein is a delicious fruit, almost in the shape of an apple. Its skin is thick and red, and when dried is an excellent astringent. The kernels, if they may be so called, are like cloves of garlic, of a most agreeable taste, but very cold. The rambostan is a fruit about the size of a walnut, with a tough skin beset with capillaments, and the pulp within is very savoury.
[Footnote 3: This uncommon word is explained by Johnson, as "small threads or hairs growing in the middle of flowers, adorned with little knobs."—Here it may be supposed to mean that the fruit is hairy.—E.]
There is a high mountain to the N.E. of Malacca, whence several rivers descend, that of Malacca being one of them, and all these have small quantities of gold in their channels. The inland inhabitants, called Monacaboes, are a barbarous and savage people, whose chief delight is in doing injury to their neighbours. On this account, the peasantry about Malacca sow no grain, except in inclosures defended by thickset prickly hedges or deep ditches: For, when the grain is ripe in the open plains, the Monacaboes never fail to set it on fire. These inland natives are much whiter than the Malays of the lower country; and the king of Johor, whose subjects they are or ought to be, has never been able to civilize them.
When the Dutch finally attempted to conquer Malacca from the Portuguese, in alliance with the king of Johor, and besieged it both by sea and land, they found it too strong to be reduced by force, and thought it would be tedious to reduce it by famine. Hearing that the Portuguese governor was a sordid, avaricious wretch, much hated by the garrison, they tampered with him by letters, offering him mountains of gold to betray his trust, and at length struck a bargain with him for 80,000 dollars, and to convey him to Batavia. Having in consequence of his treachery got into the fort, where they gave no quarter to any one found in arms, they dispatched the governor himself, to save payment of the promised bribe.
The seventh government bestowed by the company is that of the Cape of Good Hope. The governor here is always one of the counsellors of the Indies, and has a council to assist him. This colony was taken from the Portuguese by the Dutch in 1653, and is justly esteemed one of the most important places in the hands of the company, though the profits derived from it are not comparable to what they derive from some of the islands in the East Indies. Formerly things were still worse, as the revenues of this settlement fell short of its expences. Yet the company could hardly carry on the trade to India, were it not in possession of this place, as here only the ships can meet with water and other refreshments on the outward and homeward-bound voyages; and these are indispensably necessary, especially for such ships as are distressed with the scurvy. This place so abounds in all sorts of provisions, that there never is any scarcity, notwithstanding the vast yearly demand, and all ships putting in here are supplied at moderate rates. These refreshments consist of beef, mutton, fowls, fruit, vegetables, wine, and every thing, in short, that is necessary, either for recovering the sick on shore, or recruiting the sea-stores for the continuance of the voyage out or home. In the space of a year, at least forty outward-bound ships touch here from Holland alone, and in these there cannot be less than eight or nine thousand people. The homeward-bound Dutch ships are not less than thirty-six yearly, in which there are about three thousand persons; not to mention foreign vessels, which likewise put in here, and have all kinds of refreshments furnished to them at reasonable rates. There are almost always some ships in this road, except in the months of May, June, and July, when the wind usually blows with great violence at N.W. and then the road is very dangerous.
Account of the Directories of Coromandel, Surat, Bengal, and Persia.
Having now given a short view of the governments in the disposal of the Dutch East-India Company, which are a kind of principalities, as each governor, with the advice and assistance of his council, is a kind of sovereign, and acts without controul through the whole extent of his jurisdiction, we are now to consider the other establishments of the company in India, for carrying on this extensive trade. In all the countries where their affairs require it, they have factories, in each of which there is a chief, with some title or other, having also a council to assist him in regard to matters of policy or trade. Among these, the directories of Coromandel, Surat, Bengal, and Persia are all of great importance, and the direction of them is attended with great profit. The directors have the same power with the governors, within their respective jurisdictions; only that they cannot execute any criminal sentences within the countries in which they reside, so that all criminals are executed on board ship, under the flag of the company.
The directory of Coromandel is the first of the four, and has all the forts and factories belonging to the Dutch on that coast under his jurisdiction. Besides Negapatnam, on the southernmost point of Coromandel, and the fort of Gueldria, in which the director resides, they have factories at Guenepatnam, Sadraspatnam, Masulipatnam, Pelicol, Datskorom, Benlispatnam, Nagernauty, and Golconda. The Dutch director is a principal merchant, and if he discharges his office with reputation, he is commonly in a few years promoted to be one of the counsellors of the Indies. It is not uncommon for a governor or director in the Indies, in the space of a few years, to amass a fortune equal to the original capital of the company, or six millions and a half of guilders, or nearly L600,000 sterling.
Formerly, the country of Coromandel was divided into a great number of principalities, and the little princes and chiefs imposed such heavy duties, and gave such interruptions to trade in other respects, as rendered the company very uneasy. But after the war of Golconda, which cost the company a great deal of money, yet ended to their advantage, these princes grow more tractable. At present, the kings of Bisnagar and Hassinga, who are the most powerful in Coromandel, live in tolerably good terms with the Dutch and other European nations; the English and Danes having also a share in Coromandel, with several good fortresses for the protection of their trade.
[Footnote 1: This seems to be a misprint for Narsinga, otherwise the Carnatic.—E.]
The great trade carried on here is in cotton goods, as muslins, chintzes, and the like; in exchange for which the Dutch bring them spices, Japan copper, steel, gold-dust, sandal and siampan woods. In this country, the inhabitants are some Pagans, some Mahomedans, and not a few Christians. The country is very fertile in rice, fruits, and herbs, and in every thing necessary to the support of man; but the weather is exceedingly hot during the eastern monsoon. All the manufactures of this country, purchased by the Dutch, are transported first to Batavia, whence they are sent home to Holland, and are thence distributed through all Germany and the north of Europe.
The second and third directories are established at Hoogly on the Ganges, and at Surat on the western coast of India, both in the territories of the Great Mogul, and the two most important places of trade in all Asia. The Dutch, English, French, and other European natives trade to both, and have erected forts and magazines for their security and convenience. The best part of the trade is carried on by black merchants, who deal in all sorts of rich goods; such as opium, diamonds, rich stuffs, and all kinds of cotton cloths. The empire of the Great Mogul is of prodigious extent, and the countries under his dominion are esteemed the richest in the world. The air is tolerably pure, yet malignant fevers are common, generally attacking strangers as a kind of seasoning sickness, in which, if the patient escape the third day, he generally recovers.
Most of the inhabitants of this country are tall black robust men, of gay and lively dispositions. In point of religion, many of them are idolaters, more of them Mahometans, and some of them Christians. The idolaters are split into numerous sects, some of whom believe firmly in the metempsychosis, or transmigration of souls; for which reason they will not take away the life of any living creature, not even daring to kill a fly or a flea. They have even hospitals for worn-out oxen and old cows, where they are fed and attended till they die of age or disease. These people are in general very industrious, but covetous, false, and perfidious. They employ themselves, such as reside in towns, in the manufactures of silk and cotton; and those who live in the country are very diligent cultivators, so that they annually expect from hence vast quantities of grain to Batavia.
[Footnote 2: This is an obvious mistake, as by far the greater part of the population is idolatrous.—E.]
The Great Mogul is one of the richest and most powerful princes in the world, having a most magnificent court, and a numerous army always on foot. The directors at Bengal and Surat know perfectly well how to deal with him, and, by making shewy presents, procure valuable diamonds and other precious stones in return. Surat is a town of no great antiquity, yet very large and immensely rich. It is in compass about five miles within the walls, and is computed to contain about 200,000 inhabitants. The Moorish and even the Indian merchants here are many of them prodigiously rich. The former chiefly addict themselves to the diamond trade, which is very precarious; for sometimes a small stock produces an immense fortune, while at other times, a man wastes immense sums without finding stones of any great value: For, at the diamond-mines, the adventurers purchase so many yards square at a certain price, employing slaves to dig and lift the earth, taking whatever stones are found in that spot; which sometimes are of great value, and sometimes so few and small as not to pay costs. Other Moorish merchants deal largely in foreign trade, and as the Mogul is a very easy master, some of them acquire prodigious wealth, and carry on commerce to such an extent as can scarce be credited in Europe. About twenty years ago, [that is, about the year 1700,] there died a Moorish merchant at Surat, who used yearly to fit out twenty sail of ships, from three to eight hundred tons, the cargoes of each of which were in value from ten to twenty thousand pounds, and who always retained goods in his warehouses equal in value to what he sent away. The customs of Surat amount every year to upwards of L. 160,000 sterling, and, as the merchants pay three per cent. at a medium, the value of the goods must exceed five millions yearly.
The fourth and last factory under a director, is that of Gambroon or Bendar-abassi on the coast of Persia. The director here is always a principal merchant, having a council and a fiscal to assist him. As this city stands on the Persian gulf or sea of Basora, being the only port of Persia on the Indian sea, and lies at a great distance from Batavia, this direction is not so much sought after as others; and besides, the heat at this place is greater than in any part of the world, and the air is excessively unwholesome. To balance these inconveniences, the director at Gambroon has an opportunity of making a vast fortune in a short time, so that in general, in four or five years, he has no farther occasion to concern himself in commerce. There are several other European nations settled here besides the Dutch, but they have by far the best factory, and have fortified it so effectually, that the inhabitants of the neighbouring mountains, who are a crew of bold and barbarous robbers, have never been able to gain possession of it, though they have made frequent attempts. The king of Persia, who reigned about 1722, came sometimes to Gambroon, and distinguished the Dutch above the other European nations by many marks of his favour, and by the grant of many privileges. Some time before that period, he sent a gold saddle very richly wrought, and adorned with precious stones, a present to the governor of Batavia, desiring in return an European habit for himself and another for his queen.
Gambroon is a disagreeable place to live in, as in August it is unbearably hot; and yet the winter is so cold that they wear English cloth lined with furs. They have here beeves, sheep, goats, poultry, and fish, all good of their kinds, and tolerably cheap. They have also grapes, melons, and mangoes in the utmost perfection, and excellent wine, which is esteemed superior to that of all other countries, insomuch that it still preserves its flavour after being diluted with four times its quantity of water. At the time when our author was in India, intestine wars raged to such a degree in Persia, that a ship had to be constantly stationed at Gambroon to bring off the factory, in case of danger. Another inconvenience to the trade on this coast proceeded from the multitude of pirates on those seas, mostly Europeans, who, having run away with the ships of their owners, subsisted by robbing all nations. Among these at this time was a stout ship named the Hare, which had been sent from Batavia to Persia: But the crew mutinied, and forced their officers to turn pirates. After committing many depredations on this coast, they sailed to the Red-Sea, where they attacked and plundered many Arabian pirates. At length, being short of provisions, and not daring to put into any port, they resolved to return; and finding themselves also in want of water, they resolved to supply themselves at an island. With this view, most of them crowded into the pinnace and put off from the ship, which gave an opportunity to the officers to resume their authority; wherefore they cut the cable, and brought the ship into the harbour of Gambroon, by which means the ship and cargo were restored to the Company.
In 1701, the Ballorches, who rebelled against the Shah, attempted to make themselves masters of the English and Dutch factories at Gambroon, with a body of four thousand men, but were beat off at both places; but a warehouse belonging to the Dutch, at some distance from the factory, fell into their hands, in which were goods to the value of twenty thousand pounds. A short time afterwards, the famous rebel Meriweys made himself master of Ispahan, where he plundered both the English and Dutch factories, taking from the former goods to the value of half a million, and from the latter to the value of two hundred thousand pounds.
Account of the Commanderies of Malabar, Gallo, Java, and Bantam.
In such subordinate places as were not thought of sufficient consequence to require a governor or director, the Dutch East India Company has established another principal officer, with the title of chief or commander. If the person entrusted with this authority be a merchant, he is accountable for his conduct to the civil government, but if a captain, to the military establishment. A chief or commander, in conjunction with his council, has nearly the same authority with a governor, except that he cannot execute any capital judgment on criminals, till the case has been reviewed and confirmed by the council at Batavia.
At the time when our author was in India, the commander at the fort of Cochin on the Malabar coast, was Captain Julius de Golints, a native of Mecklenburg, from whom he received great civilities. Malabar was the first country discovered by the Portuguese in India, and in which they established themselves, not without great effusion of blood, nor were they many years in possession till they were driven out by the Dutch. These conquerors, in their turn, found it very difficult to support themselves against the natives, who attacked them with great spirit and success, and had infallibly driven them out of the country, but for the courage and conduct of Major John Bergman, who preserved their establishments with much difficulty.
Though very warm, the climate of Malabar is very healthy, and the soil is fertile in rice, fruit, and all sorts of herbs. It is divided into many principalities, among which the following are reckoned kingdoms; Cananore, Calicut, Cranganore, Cochin, Calicoulan, Porcaloulang, and Travancore. As the capital of the Dutch possessions in Malabar was the city of Cochin, it may be proper to describe this little kingdom as at that period. It reaches from Chitway in the north, and extends twenty-four leagues to the southwards along the coast, being divided into a multitude of small islands by the streams which descend from the mountains of Gatti, [the Gauts.] These rivers have two great or principal mouths, one at Cranganore in the north, and the other at Cochin, in the south, distant thirty marine leagues from each other. The Portuguese were the first European nation who settled here, where they built a fine city on the river about three leagues from the sea; but the sea has since so gained on the land, that it is now not above an hundred paces from the city. This place is so pleasantly situated, that the Portuguese had a common saying, "That China was a good place to get money in, and Cochin a pleasant place to spend it at." The great number of islands formed by the rivers and canals, make fishing and fowling very amusing; and the mountains, which are at no great distance, are well stored with wild game. On the island of Baypin [Vaypen], there stands an old fort called Pallapore, for the purpose of inspecting all boats that pass between Cranganore and Cochin: And five leagues up the rivulets, there is a Romish church called Varapoli [Virapell], served by French and Italian priests, and at which the bishop takes up his residence when he visits this part of the country. The padre, or superior priest at Virapell can raise four thousand men on occasion, all Christians of the church of Rome; but there are many more Christians of the church of St Thomas, who do not communicate with the Romanists. About two leagues farther up than Virapell, towards the mountains, there is a place called Firdalgo, on the side of a small but deep river, where the inhabitants of Cochin annually resort in the hot months of April and May to refresh themselves. The banks and bottom of the river here are clean sand, and the water is so clear that a small pebble stone may be seen at the bottom, in three fathoms water.
[Footnote 1: A very interesting account of the remnant of an ancient Christian church in the Travancore country, a little to the southward of Cochin, has been lately published by Dr Buchanan, in a work named Christian Researches in India, which will be noticed more particularly in an after division of our Collection.—E.]
[Footnote 2: Perhaps Bardello, about the distance mentioned in the text.—E.]
All the water along this low flat coast, to the south of Cranganore, has the very bad quality of occasioning swelled legs to those who drink it. This disease sometimes only affects one leg, but sometimes both, and the swelling is often so great as to measure a yard round at the ancles. It occasions no pain, but great itching, neither does the swelled leg feel any heavier than that which occasionally remains unaffected. To avoid this disease, the Dutch who reside at Cochin, send boats daily to Virapell, from which they bring water in small casks of about ten or twelve gallons, to serve the city. This water is given free to the servants of the Company, but private persons have to pay six-pence for each cask-full, which is brought to their houses at that price. Still, however, both Dutch men and women are sometimes afflicted with this disease, and no means have hitherto been found out for prevention or cure. The old legend imputes this disease to the curse laid by St Thomas upon his murderers and their posterity, as an odious mark to distinguish them: But St Thomas was slain by the Tilnigue priests at Miliapoor in Coromandel, above four hundred miles from this coast; and the natives there have no touch of this malady.
[Footnote 3: This word ought assuredly to have been Telinga.—E.]
Cochin is washed by the greatest outlet on this coast, and being near the sea, its situation is strong by nature, but art has not been wanting to strengthen it. As built by the Portugueze, it was a mile and a half long by a mile in breadth. The Dutch took it in 1662, when Heitloff van Chowz was commander of the forces by sea and land. The insolence of the Portuguese had made several of the neighbouring princes their enemies, who joined with the Dutch to drive them out of that country, and the king of Cochin in particular assisted them with twenty thousand men. Not long after the Dutch had invested the town, Van Chowz received notice of a peace having been concluded between Portugal and Holland, but kept the secret to himself and pushed on the siege. Having made a breach in the weakest part of the fortifications, he proceeded to a furious assault, which was kept up for eight days and nights incessantly, relieving the assailants every three hours, while the Portuguese were kept on continual duty the whole time, and were quite worn out with fatigue. Finding the city in danger of being taken by storm, the Portuguese at length capitulated and gave up the place. There were at this time four hundred topasses in the garrison, who had done good service to the Portuguese, but were not comprehended in the capitulation. On discovering this omission, and knowing the cruel and licentious character of the Dutch soldiery in India, they drew up close to the gate at which the Portuguese were to march out, and the Dutch to enter, declaring, unless they had equally favourable terms granted them with the Portugueze, they would massacre them all, and set fire to the town. The Dutch general not only granted them all they asked, but even offered to take those who had a mind into the Dutch pay, to which many of them assented. The very day after the surrender, a frigate came from Goa, with the articles of peace, and the Portuguese loudly complained of having been unfairly dealt with by Van Chowz; but he answered, that the Portuguese had acted in the same manner with the Dutch, only a few years before, in the capture of Pernambuco in Brazil. The English had at that time a factory in Cochin, but the Dutch ordered them immediately to remove with all their effects, which they accordingly did to their factory at Paniany.
On gaining possession of Cochin, the Dutch thought it too extensive, and therefore contracted it to the size it is now, being hardly a tenth part of what it was before. It measures about 600 paces long, by 200 in breadth, and is fortified with seven large bastions and intermediate curtains, all the ramparts being so thick that they are planted with double rows of trees, to give shade in the hot season. Some of the streets built by the Portuguese still remain, together with a church, which is now used for the Dutch worship, the cathedral being converted into a warehouse. The house of the commandant is the only one built in the Dutch fashion, which is so near the river that the water washes some part of its walls. The flag-staff is placed on the steeple of the old cathedral, on a mast seventy-five feet high, above which is the staff, other sixty feet in length, so that the flag may be seen above seven leagues off at sea. The garrison of Cochin usually consists of three hundred men; and from Cape Comoras upwards, in all their forts and factories, they have five hundred soldiers, and an hundred seamen, all Europeans, besides some topasses and the militia. They procure their store of rice from Barcelore, because the Malabar rice will not keep above three months out of the husk, though it will keep twelve with the husk on. This part of the country produces great quantities of pepper, but it is lighter than that which grows more to the northwards. The forests in the interior affords good teak-wood for ship-building, and two woods, called angelique and prospect, which make beautiful chests and cabinets, which are sent all over the coasts of western India. They have also iron and steel in plenty, and bees-wax for exportation. The sea and the rivers afford abundance of excellent fish of various kinds, which are sold very cheap.
Cranganore, a little to the north of Cochin, stands upon a river about a league from the sea, and at this place the Dutch have a fort. This place is remarkable for having formerly been the seat of a Jewish government, and that nation was once so numerous here as to consist of 40,000 families, though now reduced to 4000. They have a synagogue about two miles from the city of Cochin, not far from the palace of the rajah, and in it they carefully preserve their records, engraven upon plates of copper in the Hebrew language; and when any of the characters decay, they are cut anew, so that they still possess their history down from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar to the present day. About the year 1695, Mynheer van Reede had an abstract of this history translated from Hebrew into the Dutch language. They assert themselves to be of the tribe of Manasseh, a part of which was sent by Nebuchadnezzar to the most easterly province of his large empire, which is alleged to have reached Cape Comorin. Twenty thousand of them travelled from Babylon to this place in three years, and were civilly and hospitably treated by the inhabitants of Malabar, who allowed them liberty of conscience in religion, and the free exercise of their reason and industry in the management of their secular affairs. Having increased in numbers and riches, they at length, by policy or wealth, became masters of the small kingdom of Cranganore: And a particular family among them being much esteemed for wisdom and riches, two of that family were chosen by their elders and senators to govern the commonwealth, and to reign jointly over them. At length one of the brothers invited his colleague to a feast, at which he basely killed him, thinking to reign alone; but a son of the deceased slew the fratricide, after which the state fell into a democracy, which still continues among the Jews here. Their lands have, however, reverted for many years into the hands of the Malabars, and poverty and oppression have occasioned many of them to apostatise.
Between Cranganore and Cochin there is an island called Baypin, [Vaypen] four leagues long, but in no part above two miles broad. The Dutch do not allow any vessels or boats to enter or go out at Cranganore, obliging all to use the river of Cochin, which is a quarter of a mile broad, and very deep, but has a bar on which there is no more than fourteen feet water at spring-tides. The inhabitants of this country are mostly idolaters, over whom the bramins or priests exercise great authority, which they much abuse, of which the following abominable custom is a strong instance. When any man marries, he is prohibited from bedding with his wife the first night, which function is performed in his stead by one of the bramins, or, if none of these be at hand, by some other man. Foreigners used formerly to be often employed on these occasions, as the Malabars made choice of them instead of their own countrymen, often making large presents to the substitutes, sometimes to the value of forty or fifty pounds. But of late the bramins have become so very religious, that they never fail to execute this duty themselves. Besides this, the bramins frequent the company of the women so much, that no one of their religion can pretend to know his own father with any certainty. For which reason, by the laws of this country, sons or daughters never inherit from the husbands of their mothers, but the heritage always goes, to nephews and nieces, by sisters of the deceased born of the same mother, as certainly of his blood. This rule is observed also in the order of succession in their royal families, and is a glaring proof of the strange effects of boundless superstition.
[Footnote 4: This strange custom has been differently related formerly, and we believe more accurately, as prevalent only in the Nayra tribe, in which the women are allowed several husbands at the same time, and may change them at pleasure.—E.]
The next commandery is Gallo, or Point de Galle, on the island of Ceylon, at the distance of about twenty leagues from Columbo, the Dutch capital of that island. Gallo was the first place in Ceylon taken from the Portuguese by the Dutch, and still is a place of considerable trade. The commander at this place is entirely dependent upon the governor of Ceylon, and can do nothing without his approbation. About the year 1672, Lewis XIV. sent out a squadron of eight frigates, with orders to make themselves master of this place, this project having been proposed to the court of France by one Mynheer Jan Martin, who had served the Dutch East India Company for many years, and had quitted their service on some disgust. When the royal orders came to be opened at sea, Martin found that the government was to be vested in another person, in case the place were taken, on which he took such measures as frustrated the object of the expedition. Mynheer van Cosse, who then commanded the Dutch fleet, soon arrived on the coast, and the French retired without venturing an engagement. They went to Trankamala, or Trinconomalee, and anchored in the bay of that name, meaning to force the garrison of that small fort to surrender: But Van Cosse soon followed them, and brought them to action while disadvantageously situated in the bay, and either sank or burnt half of the French fleet. The rest fled to St Thomas, on the coast of Coromandel, intending to have formed a settlement there; but Van Cosse again followed them to that place and seized all their ships, many of their guns having been carried ashore, as were at this time a great number of their officers and men. The French who were on shore capitulated with the Dutch to quit India, on being allowed shipping to carry them home, which Van Cosse agreed to, giving them his flag-ship, the Groote Britanye, and two others, for that purpose. Martin was detained and carried to Batavia, where he was confined for life on an allowance of a rix-dollar a-day.
The next commandery is that of Samarang, on the island of Java, and he who commands here has the direction of all the factories in that island, except those which depend immediately on the government of Batavia. Kuttasura, which is the residence of the emperor of Java, is within his jurisdiction. In the year 1704, a war broke out in Java between the brother and son of the deceased emperor, as competitors for the succession, which lasted twenty years. The Dutch sided with the former, but the affections of the natives were with the latter, who drew over to his party a great number of the native soldiers who had served under the Dutch, and who, being well disciplined, behaved gallantly on all occasions, and gave the Dutch much trouble.
At Bantam, on the same island, the Dutch have a strong fort with a numerous garrison, to keep the people in awe, who are very mutinous, and far from being well affected to the Dutch government. The king, or rajah of Bantam, has also a fort only a few hundred paces from that belonging to the Dutch, in which be keeps a numerous garrison for the security of his person. The only commodity of this part of the country is pepper, of which they are able to export 10,000 tons yearly. The king is obliged to supply the company with a certain quantity of pepper yearly; but in all other respects they treat him kindly enough. His dominions are extensive and well peopled, and his subjects are hardy and enterprising, but perfidious and revengeful, and mortally hate all Christians. The bay of Bantam is safe and pleasant, having many islands, which still retain the names given them by the English, who had a fine factory here, from which they were expelled in 1683. The territory of Bantam is very fertile, abounding in rice, pepper, fruits, and cattle. In the interior of the country the natives sometimes find precious stones of great value, of which however the Dutch rarely get possession, as the people fear they might be induced to extend their conquests, by which they are already greatly oppressed. The head of the factory at this place has the title of chief.
Another Dutch chief resides at Padang, on that part of the coast of Sumatra which is called the gold-coast. This chief has a council and fiscal like all the rest, and his post is considered as both honourable and profitable. Sumatra is a very large fine island, separated from the continent of Asia by the Straits of Malacca, and from the island of Java by the Straits of Sunda, and is justly esteemed one of the richest and noblest islands in all India. The Dutch have a factory at Palambaugan, about eight leagues from the sea, on the banks of a very large river, which empties itself into the sea by four different channels. The great trade of this part of the country is in pepper, which the Dutch company wish to monopolize, as they have done cloves, nutmegs, mace, and cinnamon; and are at great expence in keeping several armed barks cruising at the mouths of this river, to prevent what they are pleased to call smuggling. It must be allowed, however, that they have a contract with the king of this country to take all the pepper in his dominions, at the rate of ten dollars the bahar of 400 pounds weight, which is a fair price. They have, however, a clause in the contract, by which half the price is to be paid in cloth, at such rates as greatly reduce the cost.
[Footnote 5: Exactly five farthings and two-fifths of a farthing the pound.—E.]
The interior of the island is very mountainous, but most of the mountains abound in mines of gold, silver, lead, and other metals. The company possesses some mines of gold, said to be very rich, and great care is taken to secure and conceal the profits. Gold-dust is found in great quantities in all the rivers and rivulets of the country, especially when the western monsoon reigns, when the torrents roll down from the mountains with great rapidity. Abundance of copper is also found here, of which they make very good cannon. There are likewise found several sorts of precious stones. There is a burning mountain on the island, which continually throws forth flame and smoke, like Etna in Sicily; and there is said to be a fountain of balsam, or petroleum. This island abounds also in spice and silk; but the air is not very wholesome, especially to strangers, owing to the great numbers of rivers, standing waters, and thick forests, which every where abound. It produces no wheat, nor any other of the grains which grow in Europe; but has plenty of rice, millet, and fruits, which afford good and sufficient nourishment for the inhabitants. It produces also, in great abundance, honey, bees-wax, ginger, camphor, cassia, pepper, and many Other valuable articles. It is of great extent, being 310 leagues long from N.W. to S.E. and about 50 leagues across at an average. The greatest sovereign in the island is the king of Acheen, Atcheen, or Achem, who resides in a city of that name at the N.W. end of the island. It was formerly always governed by a woman, and it is not above forty years ago since the government fell into the hands of a man, since which several attempts have been made to restore the old constitution. Acheen is a free port, to which the English, Dutch, Portuguese, and Chinese resort, and in short all the trading nations of Europe and Asia. The goods brought there are rich brocades, silks of all kinds, muslins of all sorts, raw silk, fish, butter, oil, and ammunition, for which the payments are mostly made in gold, the great commodity of the country, and remarkably fine.
During the western monsoon, the rains fall here with prodigious violence, attended with terrible storms of thunder and lightning, and frequent earthquakes; but the people, being used to them, are not much alarmed. The nations are, generally speaking, Mahometans, and are very expert in making all sorts of plate and ornaments in gold, with very few tools, yet with such inimitable dexterity, that their workmanship sells at a high rate all over India. The company sends a great number of slaves to this island every year to work in their gold-mines; but the kings in that part of the country are seldom on good terms with the Dutch, with whom they often quarrel. The principal places where gold is found are Trion and Manicabo, and the way in which they procure the gold is as follows:—They dig trenches at the bottoms of the hills, so as to intercept the torrents which roll rapidly down their sides in the winter months: and having drained off the water from the ditches in summer, they find considerable quantities of gold-dust in the mud which remains. It is generally believed that this island furnishes annually 5000 pounds weight of gold-dust, yet very little of this quantity is ever brought to Europe, being mostly employed by the servants of the East India Company in making purchases of commodities in places where gold bears a high price.
[Footnote 6: Supposing these troy pounds, the value may be estimated at L. 240,000 sterling.—E.]
The Dutch East India Company has long entertained a project of building ships at this island, as its timber is so good that ships built here are expected to last forty or fifty years, whereas those of Europe seldom last more than twelve or thirteen years. The Dutch have a strong fort and great factory at Jambee, and another at Siack, both in this island. This last place is excessively unwholesome, owing to the following circumstance, which certainly might be obviated. It stands on the great river Andragheira, into which, at one season of the year, there come vast shoals of large shads, a third part of their bulk being composed of their roes, which are accounted a great delicacy. Wherefore, after taking these out, the rest of the fish is thrown away, and as these lie in great heaps to corrupt, they exhale pestilential vapours and infect the air. The persons, therefore, who are sent to reside at Siack, are much of the same description with those formerly mentioned as sent to Banda, being of abandoned characters and desperate fortunes. There is another very considerable factory on the river Bencalis, which produces a large profit from the sale of cloth and opium, for which gold-dust is received in payment. This trade was discovered about forty years ago, that is, about the year 1680, by a factor, who carried it on privately for his own emolument for ten years, during which he acquired upwards of a ton of gold yearly, a Dutch phrase implying L. 10,000 sterling. He then resolved to secure what he had got by making a disclosure of this valuable branch of traffic to the company. There are also several Dutch establishments on what is called the West-coast of Sumatra.
A very powerful and warlike people subsists in this island, known to Europeans by the name of the Free-nation, who are equally averse from submitting either to the Sumatran sovereigns or Europeans, and have always defended themselves valiantly against both. All the natives of Sumatra are much more inclined to the English than the Dutch, perhaps because they are not under subjection to the former. But the latter use every precaution they can to prevent the natives from dealing with any except themselves. For a considerable time past, the chiefs at Padang have been so unlucky as to have their honesty much suspected, chiefly owing to their management of the mines, which do not turn out greatly to the profit of the company, while all their officers gain immense sums out of them, which the councils at Batavia are much dissatisfied with, yet cannot prevent. For this reason they change the chief very frequently, yet to little purpose.
Some Account of the Residences of Cheribon, Siam, and Mockha.
The chiefs of those factories belonging to the Dutch in India are termed Residents, and correspond directly with the governor-general at Batavia, and are not dependent on any subordinate governor or director. The first of these independent residents is fixed at Cheribon, on the coast of Java, at the distance of about forty leagues from Batavia, where a very advantageous commerce is carried on by the company in coffee, cardamoms, indigo, and cotton. The land at this place is as fertile in rice and other provisions as perhaps any country in the world. This district is of considerable extent, and was formerly under the dominion of four great lords, who used to be styled pangerans, but have now the titles of sultans, though their authority is not much extended by these more splendid titles. One of these is called the company's sultan, because always attached to the interests of the company, though in truth they might all get the same appellation, as they are all under the protection of the company, and freed from apprehensions of the king of Bantam, who used formerly to be continually at war with them, and must have reduced them under subjection, but for the assistance of the Dutch. Since then, both from gratitude for past favours, and in expectation of future protection, they have granted great privileges to the company in their dominions. The company maintains a fort at Cheribon, with a garrison of sixty men, and has an excellent factory.
About half a league from the fort of Cheribon, the tombs of the princes of Cheribon stand in a vast temple, splendidly built of various fine kinds of stone, and are said to contain vast riches, yet are left unguarded, from an idea that they are protected by some supernatural power; and they tell strange stories of persons having dropt down dead, on approaching the places where these riches are hidden, with an intention to steal. Many people believe that the Javanese priests, who are Mahometans, have the power of causing sudden death by means of incantations; and that they are able to enchant crocodiles and serpents, causing the former to go into and out of the water at command, and the latter to remain in any posture they please. A great number of priests are maintained about this great temple, many of whom have made the pilgrimage to Mecca, and are therefore held in much veneration. These priests are all governed by a sovereign pontiff or mufti, who is even more respected than the sultans. There was formerly a considerable English factory at Cheribon, having a small town belonging to it: But the persons of the factory so provoked the people, by intriguing with their wives, that they rose one night and massacred them all. Perhaps this might have been set on foot by their Dutch neighbours.
Another resident has the direction of the company's affairs in the kingdom of Siam, where the company carries on a considerable trade in tin, lead, elephants-teeth, gum-lac, wool, and other commodities. The king of Siam is a prince of considerable power, and his dominions extend nearly 300 leagues. Being favourable to commerce, all nations are allowed to trade freely in his country; but ships of no great burden are forced to anchor at the distance of sixty leagues from his capital; because the river Menan, on which it is situated, is so rapid that they find great difficulty in getting higher up. This river, like the Nile and many others, overflows its banks at a certain season, so that most of the country is under water for half the year, for which reason all the houses are built on posts. The capital is a large city, consisting at least of 50,000 houses, with a prodigious number of temples. The natives are all pagans, and hold this singular maxim, "That all religions are good, provided they tend to the honour of God." They think, however, that their own is the best; though they sometimes own that the God of the Christians is most powerful, because the head of their principal idol has been twice beaten to pieces by thunder. This is perhaps the largest idol in the world, and is called by the Dutch in derision, The great blockhead of Lust. He is represented sitting cross-legged like a tailor; in which posture he measures seventy feet high, and every one of his fingers is as large as the body of a man. About three leagues from the capital there is a temple of vast size, having an idol not quite so large as the other, which the priests say is his wife; and that once in seven years, one of these goes to visit the other. The priests also pretend that both of these idols are of solid gold; but the thunder-clap, which destroyed the head of the larger idol detected that part of the cheat, shewing it to be only brick and lime, very artificially gilded all over. One may justly wonder that this accident did not put an end to the adoration of so wretched a deity; but where superstition once prevails the plainest proofs very seldom produce any effect.
[Footnote 1: Perhaps cotton, often termed cotton-wool, ought to have been here substituted.—E.]
[Footnote 2: In Harris the temples are stated at 30,000.—E.]
The country of Siam is very rich and fertile, and there is a considerable trade carried on here by the Chinese. The Dutch have here considerable privileges, and are the favoured nation, especially since the great revolution, when they got into great favour with the new king, because the English had been entrusted by his predecessor, whom he murdered, with the best places in the government, both civil and military. The Dutch have a factory on the side of the river, about a mile below the city, where they collect great numbers of deer-skins; which are sent annually to Japan. The Siamese are themselves much addicted to trade, and the Chinese who reside here still more; so that they send ships every year to Japan, which, considering the difficulty of the navigation, is not a little extraordinary. The Siamese boast of having used the compass above a thousand years before it was known in Europe: But the Jesuits very justly observe, that the Siamese and Chinese compasses are very imperfect.
The third resident is fixed at Mokha, being always a merchant, having two factors under him. This country is under the government of an Arab prince, styled Imaum, who resides in the inland country, about 200 miles east from Mokha. The sea-port of his dominions was formerly Aden; but as that was found very inconvenient, he removed the trade to Mokha, then only a fishing village. Mokha is situated close to the sea, in a large dry sandy plain, which affords neither fruits nor water, except what is brackish and unwholesome, and those who are forced to drink it have long worms bred in their legs and feet, which are very troublesome and dangerous. The town is supplied with very good and wholesome water from Musa, a town at the distance of twenty miles; but it is so dear, being brought by land carriage; that it costs as much as small beer does in England. Mokha is large, and makes a fine appearance from the sea, the buildings being lofty, but they look much better without than within. The markets are well supplied with provisions, such as beef, mutton, goats, kid, lamb, and camels flesh, antelopes, poultry, guinea-fowls, partridges, and pigeons. The sea affords a variety of fish, but not well tasted, owing probably to the nature of their food. It is also furnished all the year with excellent fruits, as grapes, peaches, apricots, and quinces, of which they make great quantities of marmalade, both for their own use and exportation. Yet there is neither tree nor shrub to be seen near the town, except a few date-trees, and they seldom have above two or three showers of rain in a year, sometimes no rain for two or three years. Among the mountains, however, about twenty miles inland, seldom a morning passes without a moderate shower, which makes the vallies very fertile in such corn and fruits as suit the soil and climate. They have plenty of wheat and barley, but no rice.
Since Mokha has been made a free port, it has become a place of great trade. Besides the Dutch factory, it has one belonging to the English East-India Company. Trade is also carried on here by English free merchants, by Portuguese, Banians, and Moors; also by vessels from Basora, Persia, and Muskat. The country itself produces few commodities, except coffee and some drugs, as myrrh, olibanum or frankincense from Cossin, Soccotrine aloes from Soccotora, liquid storax, white and yellow arsenic, some gum-arabic, mummy, and balm of gilead, these two last being brought down the Red Sea. The coffee trade brings a continual supply of gold and silver from Europe, particularly Spanish money, German crowns, and other European silver coins, with chequins and German and Hungarian gold ducats, and ebramies and magrabees of Turkey. It is a settled point here, though other goods may be bought and sold on credit for a certain time, coffee must always be paid for in ready money. The European shipping that comes here annually rather exceeds 20,000 tons, and that belonging to other nations may amount to nearly the same tonnage. The whole province of Betlefackee is planted with coffee-trees, which are never allowed to grow above four or five yards high. The berries cling to the branches like so many insects, and are shaken off when ripe. They are at first green, then red, and lastly of a dark-brown colour.
The Dutch have here a great advantage over all other nations, in consequence of their monopoly of the spice-trade, as these are consumed here in great quantities, which consequently enables them to procure coffee at much easier rates than other nations. Yet this trade of Mokha is continually falling off, owing to the vast quantities of coffee produced in their own plantations, especially at Batavia, Amboina, and the Cape of Good Hope: Even the Dutch, however, acknowledge that there is no comparison between the coffee raised on their own plantations and that brought from Mokha.
The Happy Arabia is divided into many small territories, under independent princes, styled Emirs, who all pay a kind of homage, but no obedience, to the Grand Signor or Emperor of the Turks. The Red Sea gets this name from several parts of it being of a red colour, owing to its bottom in these parts.
Of the Trade of the Dutch in Borneo and China.
Borneo is the largest island in the East Indies, perhaps the largest in the world, being 220 marine leagues from N. to S. and 170 leagues from E. to W. It is divided into many small principalities, of which the most powerful is the king of Banjaar Masseen, and after him the kings of Borneo and Sambas. The air is reckoned very unwholesome in some places, on account of being low and marshy; and it is only thinly peopled, though abounding in very rich commodities. On the first establishment of the Dutch in India, they were very solicitous to have factories in this island, and accordingly fixed three, at the cities of Borneo, Sambas, and Succadanea; but they soon found it was impossible to have any dealings with the natives, who certainly are the basest, crudest, and most perfidious people in the world; wherefore they quitted the island, and though several times invited back, have absolutely refused to return. The commerce of Borneo is as rich as any in India. At Sambas and Banjaar Masseen they deal in diamonds, of which there is a mine in the interior country. These stones generally run from four to twenty-four carats each, though some are found as high as thirty and even forty carats; but the whole trade does not exceed 600 carats yearly. They always sell these stones for gold, though that is a commodity of the island, and there is a considerable trade in gold-dust at Pahang, Saya, Calantan, Seribas, Catra, and Melanouba. Bezoar is another principal article of their trade. Japan wood, fine wax, incense, mastic, and several other rich gums, are here met with; but the staple commodity is pepper, which this island produces in as great abundance as any place in India. A drug is met with in this island, called piedro de porco, or pork-stone, so highly esteemed as to be worth 300 crowns each; as the Indian physicians pretend that they can infallibly discover whether their patients are to live or die, by exhibiting to them the water in which this stone has been steeped.
Before the Portuguese discovered the way by sea to India, the Chinese possessed the whole trade of this island, and since the Europeans have declined settling here, it has reverted to them again. The places where they are settled are Banjaar Masseen, Mampua, Teya, Lando, and Sambas, where they parry on a great trade, furnishing the inhabitants with silks, chintz, calico, and all the manufactures of China and Japan. It has been suggested, that a more valuable trade might be established in Borneo than in any other part of India, as there come here every year large fleets of Chinese junks, laden with all the commodities of that empire, which might be purchased here as cheap, or cheaper even than in China itself. There come also yearly some small vessels from the island of Celebes to Borneo, in spite of the utmost vigilance of the Dutch, which bring considerable quantities of cloves, nutmegs, and mace, so that the Dutch are unable to sell much of these spices to the inhabitants: Yet they send ships here frequently to load with pepper, endeavouring to keep up a good correspondence with the kings of Borneo and Sambas, for the king of Banjaar Masseen refuses to have any dealings with them.
Considering the vast sway of the Dutch in India, it is strange that they should not have any factory in China. They have indeed formerly sent ambassadors to that country, under pretence of demanding a free trade, but in reality on purpose to gain a more accurate knowledge of the nature of trade in China, and in consequence of their discoveries in that manner, have been induced to decline entering upon any direct trade to that country. While they were possessed of the island of Formosa, they carried on a direct trade to China with great profit: But, since their expulsion from that island in 1661, they have not been able to make that trade turn out profitable. After the establishment of the Ostend East-India Company, they tried to send ships to China, direct from Holland; but even this came to no great account, the profit having seldom exceeded twenty-five per cent. which, considering the hazard of so long a voyage, was not considered a very encouraging return. It has been doubted whether the Dutch were able to deal with the Chinese, where both nations are upon an equal footing, as the latter are certainly the cunningest of men: Besides, the Chinese are less inclined to deal with the Dutch than with any other Europeans; and, when they do, always hold them to harder terms. The port charges also in China, and the presents they are obliged to make, cut deep into their gains.
Besides the foregoing circumstances, as China is at a great distance from Batavia, and as the officers of the Dutch ships can so easily consign their effects into the hands of the Portuguese, English, and other foreign merchants, they have been found to mind their own affairs much more than those of the Company. But the principal reason of avoiding the trade to China is, that the Chinese carry on a prodigious trade with Batavia; and though the voyage exceeds 550 leagues, the Chinese junks make the run in six weeks, sailing from Canton in the beginning of December, and arriving at Batavia in the middle of January. The company has in the first place a duty of four per cent. on all the goods brought by the Chinese, which are gold, silks of all sorts, tea, anniseed, musk, rhubarb, copper, quicksilver, vermilion, china ware, &c. For which they receive in exchange lead, tin, pepper, incense, camphor, cloves, nutmegs, amber, and many other articles, on all which the Dutch fix their own prices, and consequently buy much cheaper than other nations can do in China. They have also found by experience, that a direct trade greatly lessens this more profitable mode at Batavia. They have also opportunities of dealing with the Chinese in many other parts of India, where, after the Chinese merchants have completed their sales to the natives, they are glad to part with the remainder of their commodities to the Dutch, at a cheap rate. Thus, the Dutch East-India Company are able to send home vast quantities of the commodities of China, and purchased on very advantageous terms, without trading directly to China, either from Holland or from Batavia.
Of the Dutch Trade with Japan.
A Dutch chief resides at Japan, who is always a principal merchant, and is assisted by some writers in the Company's service. The profit formerly made of this establishment by the Dutch East-India Company, frequently amounted to 80 and even 100 per cent. but has fallen off to such a degree, that they rarely make now, 1721, above eight or ten. This has been chiefly occasioned by the Chinese, who for some time past have purchased every kind of goods at Canton that are in demand in Japan, and it is even said that they have contracted with the Japanese to furnish them with all kinds of merchandize at as low prices as the Dutch. Another cause of the low profits is, that the Japanese fix the prices of all the goods they buy, and if their offer is not accepted, they desire the merchants to take them home again. This may possibly have been suggested to them by the Chinese, who used formerly to be treated in the same manner at Batavia. There is no place in all India where the Dutch have so little authority, or where their establishments are of so little consequence, as in Japan. They are allowed a small island to themselves, where they have warehouses for their goods, and a few ordinary houses for the members of the factory; but this island is a prison, in which they are completely shut up as long as they remain in Japan, not being permitted to pass the bridge that joins this island to the city of Naugasaque. The only shadow of liberty that is allowed them is, that their chief, with two or three attendants, goes once a-year as ambassador to the emperor. One great reason of this is said to have been occasioned by their using too great familiarities with the Japanese women; but the true reason is, that the Dutch have more than once given strong indications of an inclination to establish themselves in the country by force.
A French gentleman, Monsieur Carron, who was for some time at the head of their factory in Japan, and who, in several journeys to the court, had ingratiated himself into the favour of the emperor, by entertaining him with accounts of the state of Europe, got his permission to build a house for the factory on the little island allotted to them. He accordly laid the fortifications of great extent, and continued the work till he had completed a handsome fortification, in form of a regular tetragon; and as the Japanese were quite ignorant in the art of fortification, they suffered it to be finished, without any suspicion of deceit. Carron now desired the council at Batavia to send him some cannon, packed in casks filled with oakum or cotton, along with some other casks of the same form filled with spices. This was done accordingly, but in rolling the casks after landing, one of them that contained a brass gun burst open, by which accident the cheat was discovered. This put an entire stop to all trade till the pleasure of the emperor was known. The emperor, without prohibiting trade, gave orders that no Dutchman should presume to stir out of the island on pain of death, and ordered Carron up to Jeddo, to answer for his fault. The emperor reproached him for abusing his favour; after which he ordered his beard to be pulled out by the roots, and that he should be led, dressed in a fool's coat and cap, through all the streets of the city. He was thus sent back to the factory, with orders to leave Japan in the first ship that sailed for Batavia.
The island of Desima, where the Dutch reside, is divided from the city of Naugasaki by a small creek of salt water of about forty feet broad, over which there is a convenient bridge, having a draw-bridge at one end, of which the Japanese keep possession, and no Dutchman can pass this without leave from the governor of the city; neither dare any Japanese converse with the Dutch, except the merchants and factors, who have a licence for that purpose. For the security of the factory, the island of Desima is pallisaded all round. It contains four streets, with large warehouses, and a spacious market-place over against the bridge, where at stated times the town's people have leave to trade with the Dutch. So great is the jealousy entertained of the Dutch, that they are not even allowed to have the command of their own ships while in Japan: For, as soon as one of them enters the harbour, the Japanese take entire possession of her, taking out all the arms and ammunition, which they lay up on shore, and return again in good order, when the ship is ready to sail. They also exact a complete account of all the men on board, whom they muster by one of their own commissaries.
Japan is well peopled, and produces every thing necessary for human sustenance in great plenty; yet the Dutch pay high for every thing they need, and have even to purchase wood for fuel by weight. The mountains are rich in gold, silver, and copper, which last is the best in the world. Their porcelain is finer than that of China, as also much thicker and heavier, with finer colours, and sells much dearer both in India and Europe. The tea of Japan, however, is not near so good as that of China. Their lackered ware, usually called Japan, is the best in the world, and some of it will even hold boiling water without being injured. They have abundance of silks, both raw and manufactured, much stronger than what is produced in China. Their houses are mostly built of wood, but the palace of the emperor is of marble, covered with copper, so remarkably well gilded that it withstands the weather many years. Jeddo is the metropolis, and its magnitude may be guessed from this circumstance, that in a great fire which raged in this city for eight days, about the year 1660, it consumed 120,000 houses, and 500 temples.
The Japanese are strict observers of moral rules, especially in commercial matters; insomuch that merchants of reputation put up sums of gold cupangs, always in decimal numbers, in silken bags, sealed with their seals; and these bags always pass current for the several sums indicated by the seals, without any one ever examining the contents of the bags for several generations. These cupangs are broad oblong pieces of gold, of about twenty shillings value in Japan; but gold is there so plentiful and cheap, in relation to silver, that a cupang passes current in Batavia for thirty-two shillings; and, after being stampt with the lion of the Company, it passes for forty shillings sterling. The Japanese also are exact observers of justice, and punish crimes with extreme rigour. To a man of distinction, when found guilty of a capital crime, the emperor writes a letter, commanding him to become his own executioner, on an appointed day and hour, on penalty of being subjected to the most exquisite tortures, if he survive the appointed time. On receiving this mandate, the delinquent invites all his friends and near relations to a sumptuous feast on the set day. When the feast is over, he shows them the letter from the emperor, and, while they are reading it, he stabs himself with a dagger below the navel, and cuts open his belly to the breast bone. The capital punishments inflicted on the inferior people are hanging, beheading, or being flung over a precipice; and for smaller faults, whipping and branding are usual.
The government of Japan would be well pleased to encourage trade with all nations, but for two considerations. The first is, lest their religion should be insulted, which was frequently the case from misguided zeal, while there were any Christians among the Japanese. The other proceeds from their aversion to strange customs, or to any innovation in the manners of the people, from which they dread the worst consequences. When the Dutch were first established in this empire, the then prime minister explained their opinions on this subject in the following manner: "We are well acquainted with the advantages resulting from the system of government established among us, and will on no account run the hazard of any change. We know that great revolutions are often brought about by imperceptible degrees, and are therefore resolved to cure the itch of novelty by the rod of chastisement." Upon this maxim a law is established in Japan, by which all the subjects of the empire are prohibited from leaving the country; or, if any do, they must never return. They are so wedded to their own customs and opinions, and so jealous of the introduction of any new or foreign customs, that they never send any embassies to other countries, neither do they allow their merchants to carry on commerce beyond their own country. A few small junks are sent in summer to the land of Yedso, a country about fifty leagues from the northern extremity of Japan; and it is said that they bring much gold from thence.
There is but one good harbour in Japan, all the rest of the coast being so guarded by steep rocks or shoals, that they have no reason to fear being invaded. In point of military discipline and bravery, the Japanese far exceed the Chinese, and are by no means of so base and effeminate dispositions as most of the inhabitants of that great empire. The government also of Japan is perfectly uniform and well settled, so that there cannot be any diversity of interests; for, though several of its provinces are denominated kingdoms, yet all these petty kings are under the strictest subjection to the emperor, and the laws of the country extend over all. These laws pay the strictest regard to private property, the father transmitting to his children not only the patrimonial estate, but all the acquisitions of his own industry; and this is certainly a powerful prevention of any desire of change. Though the emperor resides at Jeddo, thirty days journey from Naugasaki, yet he receives intelligence in the space of three days, of the number and force of every ship that arrives, conveyed by a chain of signal-posts, by means of flags and fire beacons.
The forms observed in business are wonderfully exact, and the edicts and orders of the emperor are signified in most expressive and dignified terms, containing very little of the bombast and swelling style so common among oriental courts. Yet, amid all their good sense and quick parts, the religion of the Japanese is the idlest and most ridiculous paganism that can well be imagined, of which the following is a sufficient proof. Every family has a tutelary deity or idol, which is placed at the top of the house, and instructed to keep off all sickness, misfortunes, or accidents: And when any such happen, the idol is taken down and whipt, for not doing its duty. Amida is the name of their favourite god, his residence in heaven is at a prodigious distance, insomuch that it requires three years journey of a departed soul to reach paradise, which is only the outskirts or suburbs of heaven; but when once there, the soul is sure of getting to heaven, and enjoys a quiet residence in that place, as none of the fiends dare come there to give annoyance. They have several other gods, to all of whom they are particularly attached devotees; and each god has his own particular paradise, none nearer this world than three years journey. On purpose to gain an easy passage to these paradises, some of the zealots cut their own throats, and others hang themselves. Their idols are often carried in procession on horseback, attended by bands of music; and many feasts and sacrifices are made in their honour, the idols being fed on the smoke and flavour, while the votaries regale on the substantial meats.
[Footnote 1: Harris here subjoins a long enquiry into the nature of the Dutch commerce in Japan, in the form of answers to a number of queries on the subject: But as we shall have an opportunity, in a subsequent division of this work, to give much more ample and satisfactory accounts of these matters, by actual travellers in Japan, this has been omitted, as tedious and unsatisfactory.—E.]
Account of the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope.
Nothing remarkable occurred to the author of this voyage, while on the way from Batavia to the Cape of Good Hope, except seeing the wreck of the Schonenberg, a ship belonging to the Company, which had been lost a little before. On coming in sight of the Cape, they discovered many French, English, and Dutch ships at anchor in the roads, some outward-bound and some homewards. A little way from the entrance of the bay is a small island, on which there is always a guard composed of a serjeant and a small number of men. As soon as the serjeant sees what number of ships a fleet consists of, he hoists a flag, and fires so many pieces of cannon as there are ships in sight, to give notice to the commandant at the Cape. They are here employed in making train-oil, and in raking oyster-shells to burn into lime. Into this island, malefactors are generally banished from the Cape, and from most parts of India. Here, besides the punishment of being separated from all their friends, they are kept to the hardest labour.
[Footnote 2: This is said to have been on the coast of Africa at the height of Angola, whither they were driven by a storm. But this could not possibly have been the case before reaching the Cape of Good Hope.—E.]
Table Bay is very fine and large, of a semi-oval form, entering several leagues into the land, and may be about nine leagues in circuit; but the anchorage is not every where equally good, and there is some danger near the shore. The middle of the bay is commanded by a very strong fort, being a regular pentagon, and each of its fine bastions mounts twenty pieces of heavy cannon. This fort and the town are situated on the edge of a plain about three leagues in extent, lying at the bottom of three very high mountains. The first of these is Lion Mountain, having some resemblance to a lion couchant. The second is Table Mountain, which is much higher, and has a broad flat top like a table, being so high that it may be seen twenty leagues out at sea in clear weather. The third is called the Devil's Mountain, and is not so remarkable as either of the other two. The houses of Cape Town are very neat and commodious, but are only built two stories high, on account of the furious winds at S.E. which sometimes blow here.
About the year 1650, the Dutch East-India Company bought a certain district of this country from the Hottentots, its aboriginal inhabitants, and took care to have it immediately planted and well peopled, for the convenience of their ships, both outward and homeward bound. All the inhabitants of this colony are Europeans, or descended from Europeans. Some of the planters are settled at the distance of three hundred leagues from the Cape; yet all are obliged to appear once a-year at a place called Stellenbosch, where the Drossart or magistrate of the country resides. They have here to pass in review, as all the peasants, as well as the towns-men, are formed into companies under proper officers. After the review is over, they go back to their respective plantations, generally carrying home with them what tools or other European articles they stand in need of. These people cultivate the ground, raising rye, barley, beans, and other grains. They also plant vines, which produce excellent grapes, of which they make very good wine. Some of these peasants are in very easy circumstances, having, besides large and well-cultivated plantations, great flocks of sheep and cattle.
Among other colonists, there is one about eight leagues from Cape Town, at a place called Drakenstein, entirely composed of French refugees, who have a large tract of well cultivated ground, and are allowed churches and ministers of their own. Part of the inhabitants of Cape Town are in the service of the Company, and the rest are free burgesses. They have regular magistrates, who decide causes of small importance, and regulate any little disputes that happen among them; but affairs of moment are carried before the governor and council, who determine finally and without appeal. In the interior country, the drossart determines in things of small consequence; but all matters of importance must come before the governor and council, whose sentences, both in civil and criminal cases, are executed without delay. The officer who commands here in chief, has the rank and pay of major, yet does the duty in all respects of a major-general. The officers under him are captains, lieutenants, and ensigns, who take care to keep their companies always complete and well disciplined; and in case of attack, they can draw together five thousand men at least, all well armed and as good as regular troops: Each peasant knows where he has to repair to, in order to range himself under his proper standard.
It is not easy to describe the expertness with which these peasants manage their fire-arms, an exercise in which they are constantly employed, even from their infancy; and it is almost incredible how boldly they attack even the fiercest animals. Many among them disdain to shoot a sleeping lion, because, as they say, it shows neither skill nor courage: When, therefore, they discover a lion asleep, they throw stones to waken him, and do not fire till he is on his feet. A little before the arrival of our author at the Cape, two peasants went out together to hunt. One of them, seeing a lion, fired at and missed him, when the lion rushed upon the man, who threw away his gun, to have more liberty to defend himself. The other peasant, on hearing the report, hastened to the place, and found his companion and the lion closely engaged; on which he snatched up the gun, and slew the lion by a few blows on the head, but broke the gun in pieces. The first peasant, whose property the gun was, complained loudly of its demolition, blamed his companion for coming up uncalled for, and even talked of making him pay for the gun, insisting that he could have slain the lion himself without aid. It was formerly considered a wonderful deed for a man to kill a lion; but now it is so common an occurrence, that they make no more of killing a lion, than we do of shooting a hare.
The country about Cape Town is full of vineyards and gardens. Two of these belong to the company, which are perhaps the finest in the world. One is at the distance of two hundred paces from the fort, between the town and Table Mountain, being about 1400 paces in length, by 235 paces broad, and having a fine rivulet from the mountain running through the middle of it. It is divided into quarters, in which they cultivate, with the utmost success, the fruits and flowers of the four quarters of the globe. The other garden is about two leagues distant from the town, in what is called the New Country, and is likewise kept in excellent order by slaves belonging to the company, of whom there are seldom less than five hundred. The country hereabout is mountainous and stony; but the vallies are very agreeable, and extremely fertile. The climate is perhaps the best in the world, neither cold nor heat being ever felt here to any intolerable degree. The people accordingly live to great ages, and have hardly any diseases except such as proceed from intemperance of some kind. The mountains, which contribute to the wholesomeness of the country, are supposed to be rich in gold and other valuable metals. Some trials have been made; but as yet no mines have been discovered, or at least none in such situations as would permit their being worked to advantage.
Mynheer van Steel, who was lately governor of this colony, travelled over the country, and examined it with much attention. He caused gardens to be laid out, and pleasure-houses to be built, in several places; but the peasants who were employed in building these houses and cultivating these gardens, sent over a representation and complaint to the company, alleging that these works were prejudicial to their private affairs, and prevented them from being able to maintain their families; upon which that governor was immediately recalled. His discoveries, however, were of great consequence, having made the interior country known to the Dutch, together with the nations or tribes by whom it is inhabited. These, so far as yet discovered, consist of seven different tribes, all comprehended under the general denomination of Hottentots. The first of these, and least considerable, who live in the neighbourhood of the Cape, have no chief, and are mostly either in the service of the company, or are employed as servants by the townsmen, or by the peasants and farmers in cultivating the lands, or tending their flocks and herds. The second tribe inhabit the mountains, or, more properly speaking, dwell in the caverns of the mountains, being thieves and robbers by profession, and subsist entirely by plundering the other Hottentots, with whom they are perpetually at war; yet never rob or molest the Christians. The other tribes are called the Great and Little Maqua, and the Great and Little Kriqua, and the Caffres. The words Maqua and Kriqua signify king or chief, and these four tribes are continually engaged in war against each other; but when any one nation is in danger of being totally ruined, other tribes immediately take up its cause; and these rude tribes seem to have a notion of maintaining a kind of balance of power.
[Footnote 2: These tribes are known in geography by the names of Namaquas and Briquas, the latter being also called Booshuanas. The second tribe in this account are named Bosjemans by the Dutch.—E.]
Such of the Hottentots as have submitted to the Hollanders are called the Company's Hottentots. The Dutch send every year fifty or sixty persons to trade among the Hottentots, who purchase their cattle, giving them in exchange arrack, tobacco, hemp, and such other things as they have occasion for; by which means a good understanding is kept up. These Hottentots of the Company are often attacked by the other tribes, and, when no longer able to defend themselves, their king or chief comes down to the Cape, attended by a small escort of his subjects, to demand assistance. He goes immediately to the governor, having in his hand the staff of command given him by the Company, decorated with their arms, and holding it in his hand, demands assistance. If the governor does not think proper to grant his request, but endeavours to shift him off with fair words, he throws down his staff saying, in bad Dutch, Voor my, niet meer Compagnies Hottentot; that is, "For me, I will no more be the Company's Hottentot." The governor generally sends him home with an escort of troops, as it is the interest of the company to be on good terms with these chiefs, who are always ready to do any service required of them.
The Hottentots are a very stupid and brutal people. They rub their bodies all over with rancid grease, which gives them a very bad smell, so that you may nose them at a considerable distance. Their children are all born perfectly white; but being constantly rubbed with grease, and exposed to the sun, they grow by degrees quite brown, and almost black. When a woman brings forth twins, one of them is immediately condemned to death, and is tied to a tree, where it is left to expire. Some of them have a custom of extirpating one testicle in their male children, as soon as they are able to bear the operation, in hope of preventing them afterwards from begetting twins. They seem to have little or no religion; yet they frequently look with admiration at the heavenly bodies, saying, "He who governs these is certainly a being of infinite power and wisdom." In many respects they are more like beasts than men, being abominably nasty in their persons, and, taking them altogether, they are certainly one of the meanest nations on the face of the earth. They are short and thick-set, with flat noses like a Dutch pug dog, very thick lips, and large mouths, having very white teeth, but very long and ill set, some of them sticking out of their mouths like boar's tusks. Their hair is black, and curled like wool. They are very nimble, and run with incredible speed. They are generally covered with a sheep's skin, each man having a quiver full of arrows on his back, and a bow in his hand. Immediately on coming in sight of an enemy, they set up a dreadful cry, leaping, dancing, and skipping about, and throwing themselves into the most frightful postures.
The seventh nation is named the Caffres, who are certainly the Anthropophagi who have made so much noise in the world. The Hottentots are much afraid of them, and take care to keep out of their way as much as possible, for fear of being roasted or boiled if taken prisoners. This abominable nation has never entered into any kind of commerce with the Christians; but, on the contrary, takes all the pains they can to entrap and murder them, in order, as is generally believed, to eat them. It is reported that they have grown somewhat more tractable of late years, and will enter into some sort of trade with such as venture among them. They are a potent and warlike nation, strong and well-made; and though black, and having curled hair like other negroes, they have better faces, and a much more manly appearance.
[Footnote 3: A very different account is now given of the Caffres, or Koussis rather, who are described as a half-civilized race, who cultivate the ground, and live under regular government.—E.]
At the distance of about eighteen leagues from the Cape, there is another port called Saldanha Bay, which is, in all respects, an infinitely better harbour than Table Bay, except in wanting fresh water, which prevents it from being frequented. The animals of this country are many. The lion is common here, and in hard winters often comes very near the habitations of the colonists. He is reputed the king of beasts, because he never eats a man till he has beaten out his breath with his paws. Before attacking a man he roars terribly, and shakes his mane; and if he does not give these signals of rage, there is no danger in passing him. Tigers and leopards are also very common, and do a vast deal of mischief; and it is probable these animals would be much more numerous, were it not for a race of wild dogs, which hunt in packs, and are so bold that they often weary out and worry a lion. They often destroy tigers, leopards, and wolves, and it is said that they will allow a man to take their prey from them when they have killed it. Travellers are never afraid when they fall in with these wild dogs, but rather rejoice, because they are sure that no ferocious animal is in the neighbourhood. There are many elephants in this country, and of as great size, as any in the world, being often from twelve to fifteen feet high or better, their teeth weighing from sixty to an hundred and twenty pounds. The rhinoceros is also often met with. This animal is rather less than the elephant, but stronger. His skin is prodigiously thick, and so hard that scarcely any weapon can pierce it. His snout is like that of a hog, on which grows a solid horn, ten or twelve inches long, which is much valued, because esteemed an excellent medicine in convulsions.
There are two animals peculiar to this country, which therefore deserve notice. One is a species of wild ass, which resembles the common ass in nothing but the length of its ears. It is as large as an ordinary horse, and is the most beautiful animal in the world. His hair is very soft, and from the ridge of the back descends in coloured streaks to the belly, forming so many circles. It is a brisk and lively creature, which runs more swiftly than any horse. It is very difficult to take alive, and when taken cannot be tamed; yet sells at a prodigious price, and is thought a fit present for a sovereign prince, from its rarity and exquisite beauty. The other creature, found in no other country, is called by the Dutch the Stinkbungsen, or Stinking-Badger. This is of the size of an ordinary dog, but is shaped like a ferret. When pursued by man or beast, it retreats but slowly, and when its enemy draws near, discharges backwards a so intolerably fetid wind, that dogs tear up the ground and hide their noses in it, to avoid the smell. When killed, it stinks so abominably that there is no approaching the carcass, which is therefore left to consume where it falls.
[Footnote 4: This is a very imperfect account of the Zebra, which exactly resembles the ass, except in colour, and is by no means larger. One died lately in Edinburgh, after being exhibited as a show, which was as quiet and gentle as any lady's donkey.—E.]
It is impossible to describe all the creatures that are seen in the vast forests of Africa, as the inhabitants see new animals every year that are utterly unknown to them. They allege that, in the middle of summer, when the wild animals are almost raging mad with thirst, they resort in vast multitudes to the rivers named Salt, Elephants, and St John's rivers, where the males and females of different species intermixing, produce strange beasts that seem to be new species. The Hottentots in the service of the Company frequently carry the skins of these monsters to the governor; and our author assures us that he saw one of the following description, that had been killed not long before. It was about the size of a calf of six months old, and seemed to have had four eyes. The head resembled that of a lion, but the hair was quite smooth, and of a dark grey colour. It had tusks like a boar. The fore-feet resembled those of that creature; but the hind-feet were like those of a tiger.
The birds of this country are in a manner infinite in numbers and sorts; and though they have not been observed often to intermingle species, yet hybrids are sometimes remarked among them. The largest and strongest birds are to be found in Africa, among which is the ostrich, the largest of all, being commonly seven feet high. The beak is short and pointed, but the neck is very long. The feathers of the male are white and black only, while those of the female are mixed white, black, and grey. Those of the former are most esteemed, as their large feathers are better spread, and their down much softer. This bird is prodigiously swift of foot, and is hunted down by hounds. Their wings do not serve them to fly, but assist them in running, especially when they have the wind with them. The common opinion of their being able to digest iron is totally false. They swallow pieces of iron indeed, but then it is only to bruise the food in their gizzards, just as other birds swallow stones for the same purpose. They are also said to leave their eggs uncovered on the sand, and to take no care of their young. But those of the Cape country hide their eggs in the sand, and are so tender of their young, that, though naturally timorous, if one of them is missing, they become quite furious, so that it is not safe to go near them. There are abundance of eagles of all sorts at the Cape, which are very bold, and frequently do a great deal of mischief. They are not very large, yet are incredibly strong, so that they often kill and devour cattle when returning home from work, when they come in great flocks. of fifty or an hundred at once, single out a beast as it feeds among the flock, and falling upon it all at once, kill and devour it.
Some years before our author was at the Cape, there was seen on Table Mountain a bird as large in the body as a horse, having grey and black plumage. His beak and talons were like those of an eagle, but of a most dreadful size. He sat and hovered about that mountain for a long time, and the people were persuaded it was a griffin. It frequently carried off sheep and calves, and at length began to destroy the cows, on which orders were given to destroy it, and it was accordingly shot, its skin stuffed, and sent home as a curiosity to the Company. No such bird, has been seen since, and the oldest people of the colony do not remember to have heard of any such before.
[Footnote 5: This was probably a stray Condor, and its size an ordinary exaggeration, in the passage of the story, like that of the three black crows.—E.]
Africa has been long famous for serpents, and there are such vast numbers of them in the neighbourhood of the Cape, that many of them have no names. Most of them are extremely venomous, and the colonists would suffer much more than they do from them, were it not that they have a specific remedy for their bites, not known in Europe. This remedy is the serpent-stone, allowed to be factitious, and is brought from India, where they are made by the bramins who have the secret of composing them, which they so carefully conceal, that no Europeans have hitherto been able to discover how they are made. The serpent-stone is about the size of a bean, white in the middle, but of a fine sky-blue on the outside. When a person is bitten by a serpent, this stone is applied to the wound, to which it soon sticks fast of itself, without the aid of any bandage or plaister. The part bitten begins immediately to swell and becomes inflamed. The stone also swells till it becomes full of the venom, and then drops off. It is then put into warm milk, where it soon purges itself from the venom, and resumes its natural colour, after which it is again applied to the wound, where it sticks as before, till a second time full, and so on till all the venom is extracted and the cure perfected.
All the mountains of this vast country are full of minerals and crystal, with many things of great value, if they could be got at; but the natives are so fearful of being made slaves in the mines, that they take all imaginable pains to conceal them. There is particularly a mountain, about 500 leagues from the Cape, called Copper-mountain, which is supposed to contain great quantities of metals. Large quantities of copper have been found here, which is said to contain a mixture of gold. Some Europeans endeavoured to follow the natives, who were suspected of going to that mountain to gather gold, but were all massacred. The Company is so tender of the colonists, and so unwilling to risk a revolt, that they have even neglected a gold-mine much nearer the Cape, the marcasites of which gave great hopes of its containing abundance of gold. Perhaps the Company may have another reason for acting in this manner, lest, if a gold-mine was discovered at the Cape, it might tempt the French or English to undertake something to their prejudice. Under its present management, the Dutch colony at the Cape is a general advantage to other nations, as well as to the Dutch. A few years ago a cavern was discovered in a mountain very near Cape-Town, in which the Hottentots find the venom in which they dip their poisoned arrows. There have likewise been found about twenty leagues from the Cape, some hot springs impregnated with steel, which have been found to cure many diseases, by using as a bath.
Considerable improvements may certainly be made on this colony, for the advantage both of the inhabitants and the company, which latter make no great gains by this establishment besides the convenience it affords in giving refreshments to their ships going to and returning from India. The Company would be glad of any means that might increase the value of the settlement, consistent with their maxims of government, and with that indulgence they find it necessary to shew the Hottentots, who are perhaps more tenacious of their liberty than any people on earth, and the most desperate in resenting any attempts to its prejudice.
Voyage from the Cape of Good Hope to Holland, with some Account of St Helena, the Island of Ascension, and the Acores.
Towards the end of March, 1723, the ship being revictualled, they sailed from Table-bay with a brisk wind at S.E. the fleet homewards bound consisting of twenty-three sail, mostly belonging to the Dutch East India Company. In about three weeks they reached the island of St Helena, which is in the latitude of 16 deg. 15' S. [lat. 16 deg. S. long. 5 deg. 30' W.] This island is about seven leagues in circumference, and is entirely composed of rocky hills, which may be seen in a clear day from the distance of forty leagues. It is surprising to see so small an island in the midst of the ocean, at so great a distance from any other land, being 550 leagues from the Cape, 500 leagues from Brazil, and 350 from Augusta, which is the nearest land; yet the sea is all around so very deep, that there is hardly an anchorage to be found. This island was first discovered by the Portuguese, on which occasion one of their large Indian carracks was wrecked, from the remains of which they built a chapel, long since decayed, but which still gives name to the finest valley in the island. They planted lemons, oranges, and pomegranates all over the island, and left here hogs and goats, together with partridges, pigeons, and peacocks, for the convenience of ships touching here. At one time a hermit chose to live here, killing the goats for the sake of their skins, which he sold to ships that stopped here; but the Portuguese removed him, as they did afterwards some negro slaves who had settled in the mountains. It is now possessed by the English, who have so good a fort that it is not likely any other nation should be able to drive them out. The vallies are exceedingly beautiful and fertile, and in these the weather is sometimes exceedingly hot; but as it is always cool on the mountains, the inhabitants can never be in want of a place of refreshment. It is admirably watered, having many rivulets running from the tops of the hills into the sea, the water of these being as clear as crystal. The island produces abundance of mustard, parsley, sorrel, cresses, and other herbs, excellent against the scurvy. It has also abundance of trees fit for fuel, but none that can serve as timber. All sorts of refreshments are to be had in plenty.