The coast of this part of Celebes is low and flat, lined with trees and villages so as to conceal the interior, except at occasional openings which show a wide extent of care and marshy rice-fields. A few hills of no great height were visible in the background; but owing to the perpetual haze over the land at this time of the year, I could nowhere discern the high central range of the peninsula, or the celebrated peak of Bontyne at its southern extremity. In the roadstead of Macassar there was a fine 42-gun frigate, the guardship of the place, as well as a small war steamer and three or four little cutters used for cruising after the pirates which infest these seas. There were also a few square-rigged trading-vessels, and twenty or thirty native praus of various sizes. I brought letters of introduction to a Dutch gentleman, Mr. Mesman, and also to a Danish shopkeeper, who could both speak English and who promised to assist me in finding a place to stay, suitable for my pursuits. In the meantime, I went to a kind of clubhouse, in default of any hotel in the place.
Macassar was the first Dutch town I had visited, and I found it prettier and cleaner than any I had yet seen in the East. The Dutch have some admirable local regulations. All European houses must be kept well white-washed, and every person must, at four in the afternoon, water the road in front of his house. The streets are kept clear of refuse, and covered drains carry away all impurities into large open sewers, into which the tide is admitted at high-water and allowed to flow out when it has ebbed, carrying all the sewage with it into the sea. The town consists chiefly of one long narrow street along the seaside, devoted to business, and principally occupied by the Dutch and Chinese merchants' offices and warehouses, and the native shops or bazaars. This extends northwards for more than a mile, gradually merging into native houses often of a most miserable description, but made to have a neat appearance by being all built up exactly to the straight line of the street, and being generally backed by fruit trees. This street is usually thronged with a native population of Bugis and Macassar men, who wear cotton trousers about twelve inches long, covering only from the hip to half-way down the thigh, and the universal Malay sarong, of gay checked colours, worn around the waist or across the shoulders in a variety of ways. Parallel to this street run two short ones which form the old Dutch town, and are enclosed by gates. These consist of private houses, and at their southern end is the fort, the church, and a road at right angles to the beach, containing the houses of the Governor and of the principal officials. Beyond the fort, again along the beach, is another long street of native huts and many country-houses of the tradesmen and merchants. All around extend the flat rice-fields, now bare and dry and forbidding, covered with dusty stubble and weeds. A few months back these were a mass of verdure, and their barren appearance at this season offered a striking contrast to the perpetual crops on the same kind of country in Lombock and Bali, where the seasons are exactly similar, but where an elaborate system of irrigation produces the effect of a perpetual spring.
The day after my arrival I paid a visit of ceremony to the Governor, accompanied by my friend the Danish merchant, who spoke excellent English. His Excellency was very polite, and offered me every facility for travelling about the country and prosecuting my researches in natural history. We conversed in French, which all Dutch officials speak very well.
Finding it very inconvenient and expensive to stay in the town, I removed at the end of a week to a little bamboo house, kindly offered me by Mr. Mesman. It was situated about two miles away, on a small coffee plantation and farm, and about a mile beyond Mr. M.'s own country-house. It consisted of two rooms raised about seven feet above the ground, the lower part being partly open (and serving excellently to skin birds in) and partly used as a granary for rice. There was a kitchen and other outhouses, and several cottages nearby, occupied by men in Mr. M.'s employ.
After being settled a few days in my new house, I found that no collections could be made without going much further into the country. The rice-fields for some miles around resembled English stubbles late in autumn, and were almost as unproductive of bird or insect life. There were several native villages scattered about, so embosomed in fruit trees that at a distance they looked like clumps or patches of forest. These were my only collecting places; but they produced a very limited number of species, and were soon exhausted. Before I could move to any more promising district it was necessary to obtain permission from the Rajah of Goa, whose territories approach to within two miles of the town of Macassar. I therefore presented myself at the Governor's office and requested a letter to the Rajah, to claim his protection, and permission to travel in his territories whenever I might wish to do so. This was immediately granted, and a special messenger was sent with me to carry the letter.
My friend Mr. Mesman kindly lent me a horse, and accompanied me on my visit to the Rajah, with whom he was great friends. We found his Majesty seated out of doors, watching the erection of a new house. He was naked from the waist up, wearing only the usual short trousers and sarong. Two chairs were brought out for us, but all the chiefs and other natives were seated on the ground. The messenger, squatting down at the Rajah's feet, produced the letter, which was sewn up in a covering of yellow silk. It was handed to one of the chief officers, who ripped it open and returned it to the Rajah, who read it, and then showed it to Mr. M., who both speaks and reads the Macassar language fluently, and who explained fully what I required. Permission was immediately granted me to go where I liked in the territories of Goa, but the Rajah desired, that should I wish to stay any time at a place I would first give him notice, in order that he might send someone to see that no injury was done me. Some wine was then brought us, and afterwards some detestable coffee and wretched sweetmeats, for it is a fact that I have never tasted good coffee where people grow it themselves.
Although this was the height of the dry season, and there was a fine wind all day, it was by no means a healthy time of year. My boy Ali had hardly been a day on shore when he was attacked by fever, which put me to great inconvenience, as at the house where I was staying, nothing could be obtained but at mealtime. After having cured Ali, and with much difficulty got another servant to cook for me, I was no sooner settled at my country abode than the latter was attacked with the same disease; and, having a wife in the town, left me. Hardly was he gone than I fell ill myself with strong intermittent fever every other day. In about a week I got over it, by a liberal use of quinine, when scarcely was I on my legs than Ali again became worse than ever. Ali's fever attacked him daily, but early in the morning he was pretty well, and then managed to cook enough for me for the day. In a week I cured him, and also succeeded in getting another boy who could cook and shoot, and had no objection to go into the interior. His name was Baderoon, and as he was unmarried and had been used to a roving life, having been several voyages to North Australia to catch trepang or "beche de mer", I was in hopes of being able to keep him. I also got hold of a little impudent rascal of twelve or fourteen, who could speak some Malay, to carry my gun or insect-net and make himself generally useful. Ali had by this time become a pretty good bird-skinner, so that I was fairly supplied with servants.
I made many excursions into the country, in search of a good station for collecting birds and insects. Some of the villages a few miles inland are scattered about in woody ground which has once been virgin forest, but of which the constituent trees have been for the most part replaced by fruit trees, and particularly by the large palm, Arenga saccharifera, from which wine and sugar are made, and which also produces a coarse black fibre used for cordage. That necessary of life, the bamboo, has also been abundantly planted. In such places I found a good many birds, among which were the fine cream-coloured pigeon, Carpophaga luctuosa, and the rare blue-headed roller, Coracias temmincki, which has a most discordant voice, and generally goes in pairs, flying from tree to tree, and exhibiting while at rest that all-in-a-heap appearance and jerking motion of the head and tail which are so characteristic of the great Fissirostral group to which it belongs. From this habit alone, the kingfishers, bee-eaters, rollers, trogons, and South American puff-birds, might be grouped together by a person who had observed them in a state of nature, but who had never had an opportunity of examining their form and structure in detail. Thousands of crows, rather smaller than our rook, keep up a constant cawing in these plantations; the curious wood-swallows (Artami), which closely resemble swallows in their habits and flight but differ much in form and structure, twitter from the tree-tops; while a lyre-tailed drongo-shrike, with brilliant black plumage and milk-white eyes, continually deceives the naturalist by the variety of its unmelodious notes.
In the more shady parts butterflies were tolerably abundant; the most common being species of Euplaea and Danais, which frequent gardens and shrubberies, and owing to their weak flight are easily captured. A beautiful pale blue and black butterfly, which flutters along near the ground among the thickets, and settles occasionally upon flowers, was one of the most striking; and scarcely less so, was one with a rich orange band on a blackish ground—these both belong to the Pieridae, the group that contains our common white butterflies, although differing so much from them in appearance. Both were quite new to European naturalists. [The former has been named Eronia tritaea; the latter Tachyris ithonae.] Now and then I extended my walks some miles further, to the only patch of true forest I could find, accompanied by my two boys with guns and insect-net. We used to start early, taking our breakfast with us, and eating it wherever we could find shade and water. At such times my Macassar boys would put a minute fragment of rice and meat or fish on a leaf, and lay it on a stone or stump as an offering to the deity of the spot; for though nominal Mahometans the Macassar people retain many pagan superstitions, and are but lax in their religious observances. Pork, it is true, they hold in abhorrence, but will not refuse wine when offered them, and consume immense quantities of "sagueir," or palm-wine, which is about as intoxicating as ordinary beer or cider. When well made it is a very refreshing drink, and we often took a draught at some of the little sheds dignified by the name of bazaars, which are scattered about the country wherever there is any traffic.
One day Mr. Mesman told me of a larger piece of forest where he sometimes went to shoot deer, but he assured me it was much further off, and that there were no birds. However, I resolved to explore it, and the next morning at five o'clock we started, carrying our breakfast and some other provisions with us, and intending to stay the night at a house on the borders of the wood. To my surprise two hours' hard walking brought us to this house, where we obtained permission to pass the night. We then walked on, Ali and Baderoon with a gun each, Paso carrying our provisions and my insect-box, while I took only my net and collecting-bottle and determined to devote myself wholly to the insects. Scarcely had I entered the forest when I found some beautiful little green and gold speckled weevils allied to the genus Pachyrhynchus, a group which is almost confined to the Philippine Islands, and is quite unknown in Borneo, Java, or Malacca. The road was shady and apparently much trodden by horses and cattle, and I quickly obtained some butterflies I had not before met with. Soon a couple of reports were heard, and coming up to my boys I found they had shot two specimens of one of the finest of known cuckoos, Phoenicophaus callirhynchus. This bird derives its name from its large bill being coloured of a brilliant yellow, red, and black, in about equal proportions. The tail is exceedingly long, and of a fine metallic purple, while the plumage of the body is light coffee brown. It is one of the characteristic birds of the island of Celebes, to which it is confined.
After sauntering along for a couple of hours we reached a small river, so deep that horses could only cross it by swimming, so we had to turn back; but as we were getting hungry, and the water of the almost stagnant river was too muddy to drink, we went towards a house a few hundred yards off. In the plantation we saw a small raised hut, which we thought would do well for us to breakfast in, so I entered, and found inside a young woman with an infant. She handed me a jug of water, but looked very much frightened. However, I sat down on the doorstep, and asked for the provisions. In handing them up, Baderoon saw the infant, and started back as if he had seen a serpent. It then immediately struck me that this was a hut in which, as among the Dyaks of Borneo and many other savage tribes, the women are secluded for some time after the birth of their child, and that we did very wrong to enter it; so we walked off and asked permission to eat our breakfast in the family mansion close at hand, which was of course granted. While I ate, three men, two women, and four children watched every motion, and never took eyes off me until I had finished.
On our way back in the heat of the day, I had the good fortune to capture three specimens of a fine Ornithoptera, the largest, the most perfect, and the most beautiful of butterflies. I trembled with excitement as I took the first out of my net and found it to be in perfect condition. The ground colour of this superb insect was a rich shining bronzy black, the lower wings delicately grained with white, and bordered by a row of large spots of the most brilliant satiny yellow. The body was marked with shaded spots of white, yellow, and fiery orange, while the head and thorax were intense black. On the under-side the lower wings were satiny white, with the marginal spots half black and half yellow. I gazed upon my prize with extreme interest, as I at first thought it was quite a new species. It proved however to be a variety of Ornithoptera remus, one of the rarest and most remarkable species of this highly esteemed group. I also obtained several other new and pretty butterflies. When we arrived at our lodging-house, being particularly anxious about my insect treasures, I suspended the box from a bamboo on which I could detect no sign of ants, and then began skinning some of my birds. During my work I often glanced at my precious box to see that no intruders had arrived, until after a longer spell of work than usual I looked again, and saw to my horror that a column of small red ants were descending the string and entering the box. They were already busy at work at the bodies of my treasures, and another half-hour would have seen my whole day's collection destroyed. As it was, I had to take every insect out, clean them thoroughly as well as the box, and then seek a place of safety for them. As the only effectual one, I begged a plate and a basin from my host, filled the former with water, and standing the latter in it placed my box on the top, and then felt secure for the night; a few inches of clean water or oil being the only barrier these terrible pests are not able to pass.
On returning home to Mamajam (as my house was called) I had a slight return of intermittent fever, which kept me some days indoors. As soon as I was well, I again went to Goa, accompanied by Mr. Mesman, to beg the Rajah's assistance in getting a small house built for me near the forest. We found him at a cock-fight in a shed near his palace, which however, he immediately left to receive us, and walked with us up an inclined plane of boards which serves for stairs to his house. This was large, well-built, and lofty, with bamboo floor and glass windows. The greater part of it seemed to be one large hall divided by the supporting posts. Near a window sat the Queen, squatting on a rough wooden arm-chair, chewing the everlasting sirih and betel-nut, while a brass spittoon by her side and a sirih-box in front were ready to administer to her wants. The Rajah seated himself opposite to her in a similar chair, and a similar spittoon and sirih-box were held by a little boy squatting at his side. Two other chairs were brought for us. Several young women, some the Rajah's daughters, others slaves, were standing about; a few were working at frames making sarongs, but most of them were idle.
And here I might (if I followed the example of most travellers) launch out into a glowing description of the charms of these damsels, the elegant costumes they wore, and the gold and silver ornaments with which they were adorned. The jacket or body of purple gauze would figure well in such a description, allowing the heaving bosom to be seen beneath it, while "sparkling eyes," and "jetty tresses," and "tiny feet" might be thrown in profusely. But, alas! regard for truth will not permit me to expatiate too admiringly on such topics, determined as I am to give as far as I can a true picture of the people and places I visit. The princesses were, it is true, sufficiently good-looking, yet neither their persons nor their garments had that appearance of freshness and cleanliness without which no other charms can be contemplated with pleasure. Everything had a dingy and faded appearance, very disagreeable and unroyal to a European eye. The only thing that excited some degree of admiration was the quiet and dignified manner of the Rajah and the great respect always paid to him. None can stand erect in his presence, and when he sits on a chair, all present (Europeans of course excepted) squat upon the ground. The highest seat is literally, with these people, the place of honour and the sign of rank. So unbending are the rules in this respect, that when an English carriage which the Rajah of Lombock bad sent for arrived, it was found impossible to use it because the driver's seat was the highest, and it had to be kept as a show in its coach house. On being told the object of my visit, the Rajah at once said that he would order a house to be emptied for me, which would be much better than building one, as that would take a good deal of time. Bad coffee and sweetmeats were given us as before.
Two days afterwards, I called on the Rajah to ask him to send a guide with me to show me the house I was to occupy. He immediately ordered a man to be sent for, gave him instructions, and in a few minutes we were on our way. My conductor could speak no Malay, so we walked on in silence for an hour, when we turned into a pretty good house and I was asked to sit down. The head man of the district lived here, and in about half an hour we started again, and another hour's walk brought us to the village where I was to be lodged. We went to the residence of the village chief, who conversed with my conductor for some time.
Getting tired, I asked to be shown the house that was prepared for me, but the only reply I could get was, "Wait a little," and the parties went on talking as before. So I told them I could not wait, as I wanted to see the house and then to go shooting in the forest. This seemed to puzzle them, and at length, in answer to questions, very poorly explained by one or two bystanders who knew a little Malay, it came out that no house was ready, and no one seemed to have the least idea where to get one. As I did not want to trouble the Rajah any more, I thought it best to try to frighten them a little; so I told them that if they did not immediately find me a house as the Rajah had ordered, I should go back and complain to him, but that if a house was found me I would pay for the use of it. This had the desired effect, and one of the head men of the village asked me to go with him and look for a house. He showed me one or two of the most miserable and ruinous description, which I at once rejected, saying, "I must have a good one, and near to the forest." The next he showed me suited very well, so I told him to see that it was emptied the next day, for that the day after I should come and occupy it.
On the day mentioned, as I was not quite ready to go, I sent my two Macassar boys with brooms to sweep out the house thoroughly. They returned in the evening and told me that when they got there the house was inhabited, and not a single article removed. However, on hearing they had come to clean and take possession, the occupants made a move, but with a good deal of grumbling, which made me feel rather uneasy as to how the people generally might take my intrusion into their village. The next morning we took our baggage on three packhorses, and, after a few break-downs, arrived about noon at our destination.
After getting all my things set straight, and having made a hasty meal, I determined if possible to make friends with the people. I therefore sent for the owner of the house and as many of his acquaintances as liked to come, to have a "bitchara," or talk. When they were all seated, I gave them a little tobacco all around, and having my boy Baderoon for interpreter, tried to explain to them why I came there; that I was very sorry to turn them out of the house, but that the Rajah had ordered it rather than build a new one, which was what I had asked for, and then placed five silver rupees in the owner's hand as one month's rent. I then assured them that my being there would be a benefit to them, as I should buy their eggs and fowls and fruit; and if their children would bring me shells and insects, of which I showed them specimens, they also might earn a good many coppers. After all this had been fully explained to them, with a long talk and discussion between every sentence, I could see that I had made a favourable impression; and that very afternoon, as if to test my promise to buy even miserable little snail-shells, a dozen children came one after another, bringing me a few specimens each of a small Helix, for which they duly received "coppers," and went away amazed but rejoicing.
A few days' exploration made me well acquainted with the surrounding country. I was a long way from the road in the forest which I had first visited, and for some distance around my house were old clearings and cottages. I found a few good butterflies, but beetles were very scarce, and even rotten timber and newly-felled trees (generally so productive) here produced scarcely anything. This convinced me that there was not a sufficient extent of forest in the neighbourhood to make the place worth staying at long, but it was too late now to think of going further, as in about a month the wet season would begin; so I resolved to stay here and get what was to be had. Unfortunately, after a few days I became ill with a low fever which produced excessive lassitude and disinclination to all exertion. In vain I endeavoured to shake it off; all I could do was to stroll quietly each day for an hour about the gardens near, and to the well, where some good insects were occasionally to be found; and the rest of the day to wait quietly at home, and receive what beetles and shells my little corps of collectors brought me daily. I imputed my illness chiefly to the water, which was procured from shallow wells, around which there was almost always a stagnant puddle in which the buffaloes wallowed. Close to my house was an enclosed mudhole where three buffaloes were shut up every night, and the effluvia from which freely entered through the open bamboo floor. My Malay boy Ali was affected with the same illness, and as he was my chief bird-skinner I got on but slowly with my collections.
The occupations and mode of life of the villagers differed but little from those of all other Malay races. The time of the women was almost wholly occupied in pounding and cleaning rice for daily use, in bringing home firewood and water, and in cleaning, dyeing, spinning, and weaving the native cotton into sarongs. The weaving is done in the simplest kind of frame stretched on the floor; and is a very slow and tedious process. To form the checked pattern in common use, each patch of coloured threads has to be pulled up separately by hand and the shuttle passed between them; so that about an inch a day is the usual progress in stuff a yard and a half wide. The men cultivate a little sirih (the pungent pepper leaf used for chewing with betel-nut) and a few vegetables; and once a year rudely plough a small patch of ground with their buffaloes and plant rice, which then requires little attention until harvest time. Now and then they have to see to the repairs of their houses, and make mats, baskets, or other domestic utensils, but a large part of their time is passed in idleness.
Not a single person in the village could speak more than a few words of Malay, and hardly any of the people appeared to have seen a European before. One most disagreeable result of this was that I excited terror alike in man and beast. Wherever I went, dogs barked, children screamed, women ran away, and men stared as though I were some strange and terrible cannibal or monster. Even the pack-horses on the roads and paths would start aside when I appeared and rush into the jungle; and as to those horrid, ugly brutes, the buffaloes, they could never be approached by me; not for fear of my own but of others' safety. They would first stick out their necks and stare at me, and then on a nearer view break loose from their halters or tethers, and rush away helter-skelter as if a demon were after them, without any regard for what might be in their way. Whenever I met buffaloes carrying packs along a pathway, or being driven home to the village, I had to turn aside into the jungle and hide myself until they had passed, to avoid a catastrophe which would increase the dislike with which I was already regarded. Everyday about noon the buffaloes were brought into the villa, and were tethered in the shade around the houses; and then I had to creep about like a thief by backways, for no one could tell what mischief they might do to children and houses were I to walk among them. If I came suddenly upon a well where women were drawing water or children bathing, a sudden flight was the certain result; which things occurring day after day, were very unpleasant to a person who does not like to be disliked, and who had never been accustomed to be treated as an ogre.
About the middle of November, finding my health no better, and insects, birds, and shells all very scarce, I determined to return to Mamajam, and pack up my collections before the heavy rains commenced. The wind bad already begun to blow from the west, and many signs indicated that the rainy season might set in earlier than usual; and then everything becomes very damp, and it is almost impossible to dry collections properly. My kind friend Mr. Mesman again lent me his pack-horses, and with the assistance of a few men to carry my birds and insects, which I did not like to trust on horses' backs, we got everything home safe. Few can imagine the luxury it was to stretch myself on a sofa, and to take my supper comfortably at table seated in my easy bamboo chair, after having for five weeks taken all my meals uncomfortably on the floor. Such things are trifles in health, but when the body is weakened by disease the habits of a lifetime cannot be so easily set aside.
My house, like all bamboo structures in this country, was a leaning one, the strong westerly winds of the wet season having set all its posts out of the perpendicular to such a degree as to make me think it might someday possibly go over altogether. It is a remarkable thing that the natives of Celebes have not discovered the use of diagonal struts in strengthening buildings. I doubt if there is a native house in the country two years old and at all exposed to the wind, which stands upright; and no wonder, as they merely consist of posts and joists all placed upright or horizontal, and fastened rudely together with rattans. They may be seen in every stage of the process of tumbling down, from the first slight inclination, to such a dangerous slope that it becomes a notice to quit to the occupiers.
The mechanical geniuses of the country have only discovered two ways of remedying the evil. One is, after it has commenced, to tie the house to a post in the ground on the windward side by a rattan or bamboo cable. The other is a preventive, but how they ever found it out and did not discover the true way is a mystery. This plan is, to build the house in the usual way, but instead of having all the principal supports of straight posts, to have two or three of them chosen as crooked as possible. I had often noticed these crooked posts in houses, but imputed it to the scarcity of good, straight timber, until one day I met some men carrying home a post shaped something like a dog's hind leg, and inquired of my native boy what they were going to do with such a piece of wood. "To make a post for a house," said he. "But why don't they get a straight one, there are plenty here?" said I. "Oh," replied he, "they prefer some like that in a house, because then it won't fall," evidently imputing the effect to some occult property of crooked timber. A little consideration and a diagram will, however, show, that the effect imputed to the crooked post may be really produced by it. A true square changes its figure readily into a rhomboid or oblique figure, but when one or two of the uprights are bent or sloping, and placed so as to oppose each other, the effect of a strut is produced, though in a rude and clumsy manner.
Just before I had left Mamajam the people had sown a considerable quantity of maize, which appears above ground in two or three days, and in favourable seasons ripens in less than two months. Owing to a week's premature rains the ground was all flooded when I returned, and the plants just coming into ear were yellow and dead. Not a grain would be obtained by the whole village, but luckily it is only a luxury, not a necessity of life. The rain was the signal for ploughing to begin, in order to sow rice on all the flat lands between us and the town. The plough used is a rude wooden instrument with a very short single handle, a tolerably well-shaped coulter, and the point formed of a piece of hard palm-wood fastened in with wedges. One or two buffaloes draw it at a very slow pace. The seed is sown broadcast, and a rude wooden harrow is used to smooth the surface.
By the beginning of December the regular wet season had set in. Westerly winds and driving rains sometimes continued for days together; the fields for miles around were under water, and the ducks and buffaloes enjoyed themselves amazingly. All along the road to Macassar, ploughing was daily going on in the mud and water, through which the wooden plough easily makes its way, the ploughman holding the plough-handle with one hand while a long bamboo in the other serves to guide the buffaloes. These animals require an immense deal of driving to get them on at all; a continual shower of exclamations is kept up at them, and "Oh! ah! Gee! ugh!" are to be heard in various keys and in an uninterrupted succession all day long. At night we were favoured with a different kind of concert. The dry ground around my house had become a marsh tenanted by frogs, who kept up a most incredible noise from dusk to dawn. They were somewhat musical too, having a deep vibrating note which at times closely resembles the tuning of two or three bass-viols in an orchestra. In Malacca and Borneo I had heard no such sounds as these, which indicates that the frogs, like most of the animals of Celebes, are of species peculiar to it.
My kind friend and landlord, Mr. Mesman, was a good specimen of the Macassar-born Dutchman. He was about thirty-five years of age, had a large family, and lived in a spacious house near the town, situated in the midst of a grove of fruit trees, and surrounded by a perfect labyrinth of offices, stables, and native cottages occupied by his numerous servants, slaves, or dependants. He usually rose before the sun, and after a cup of coffee looked after his servants, horses, and dogs, until seven, when a substantial breakfast of rice and meat was ready in a cool verandah. Putting on a clean white linen suit, he then drove to town in his buggy, where he had an office, with two or three Chinese clerks who looked after his affairs. His business was that of a coffee and opium merchant. He had a coffee estate at Bontyne, and a small prau which traded to the Eastern islands near New Guinea, for mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell. About one he would return home, have coffee and cake or fried plantain, first changing his dress for a coloured cotton shirt and trousers and bare feet, and then take a siesta with a book. About four, after a cup of tea, he would walk round his premises, and generally stroll down to Mamajam to pay me a visit, and look after his farm.
This consisted of a coffee plantation and an orchard of fruit trees, a dozen horses and a score of cattle, with a small village of Timorese slaves and Macassar servants. One family looked after the cattle and supplied the house with milk, bringing me also a large glassful every morning, one of my greatest luxuries. Others had charge of the horses, which were brought in every afternoon and fed with cut grass. Others had to cut grass for their master's horses at Macassar—not a very easy task in the dry season, when all the country looks like baked mud; or in the rainy season, when miles in every direction are flooded. How they managed it was a mystery to me, but they know grass must be had, and they get it. One lame woman had charge of a flock of ducks. Twice a day she took them out to feed in the marshy places, let them waddle and gobble for an hour or two, and then drove them back and shut them up in a small dark shed to digest their meal, whence they gave forth occasionally a melancholy quack. Every night a watch was set, principally for the sake of the horses—the people of Goa, only two miles off, being notorious thieves, and horses offering the easiest and most valuable spoil. This enabled me to sleep in security, although many people in Macassar thought I was running a great risk, living alone in such a solitary place and with such bad neighbours.
My house was surrounded by a kind of straggling hedge of roses, jessamines, and other flowers, and every morning one of the women gathered a basketful of the blossoms for Mr. Mesman's family. I generally took a couple for my own breakfast table, and the supply never failed during my stay, and I suppose never does. Almost every Sunday Mr. M. made a shooting excursion with his eldest son, a lad of fifteen, and I generally accompanied him; for though the Dutch are Protestants, they do not observe Sunday in the rigid manner practised in England and English colonies. The Governor of the place has his public reception every Sunday evening, when card-playing is the regular amusement.
On December 13th I went on board a prau bound for the Aru Islands, a journey which will be described in the latter part of this work.
On my return, after a seven months' absence, I visited another district to the north of Macassar, which will form the subject of the next CHAPTER.
CHAPTER XVI. CELEBES.
(MACASSAR. JULY TO NOVEMBER, 1857.)
I REACHED Macassar again on the 11th of July, and established myself in my old quarters at Mamajam, to sort, arrange, clean, and pack up my Aru collections. This occupied me a month; and having shipped them off for Singapore, had my guns repaired, and received a new one from England, together with a stock of pins, arsenic, and other collecting requisites. I began to feel eager for work again, and had to consider where I should spend my time until the end of the year; I had left Macassar seven months before, a flooded marsh being ploughed up for the rice-sowing. The rains had continued for five months, yet now all the rice was cut, and dry and dusty stubble covered the country just as when I had first arrived there.
After much inquiry I determined to visit the district of Maros, about thirty miles north of Macassar, where Mr. Jacob Mesman, a brother of my friend, resided, who had kindly offered to find me house-room and give me assistance should I feel inclined to visit him. I accordingly obtained a pass from the Resident, and having hired a boat set off one evening for Maros. My boy Ali was so ill with fever that I was obliged to leave him in the hospital, under the care of my friend the German doctor, and I had to make shift with two new servants utterly ignorant of everything. We coasted along during the night, and at daybreak entered the Maros river, and by three in the afternoon reached the village. I immediately visited the Assistant Resident, and applied for ten men to carry my baggage, and a horse for myself. These were promised to be ready that night, so that I could start as soon as I liked in the morning. After having taken a cup of tea I took my leave, and slept in the boat. Some of the men came at night as promised, but others did not arrive until the next morning. It took some time to divide my baggage fairly among them, as they all wanted to shirk the heavy boxes, and would seize hold of some light article and march off with it, until made to come back and wait until the whole had been fairly apportioned. At length about eight o'clock all was arranged, and we started for our walk to Mr. M.'s farm.
The country was at first a uniform plain of burned-up rice-grounds, but at a few miles' distance precipitous hills appeared, backed by the lofty central range of the peninsula. Towards these our path lay, and after having gone six or eight miles the hills began to advance into the plain right and left of us, and the ground became pierced here and there with blocks and pillars of limestone rock, while a few abrupt conical hills and peaks rose like islands. Passing over an elevated tract forming the shoulder of one of the hills, a picturesque scene lay before us. We looked down into a little valley almost entirely surrounded by mountains, rising abruptly in huge precipices, and forming a succession of knolls and peaks aid domes of the most varied and fantastic shapes. In the very centre of the valley was a large bamboo house, while scattered around were a dozen cottages of the same material.
I was kindly received by Mr. Jacob Mesman in an airy saloon detached from the house, and entirely built of bamboo and thatched with grass. After breakfast he took me to his foreman's house, about a hundred yards off, half of which was given up to me until I should decide where to have a cottage built for my own use. I soon found that this spot was too much exposed to the wind and dust, which rendered it very difficult to work with papers or insects. It was also dreadfully hot in the afternoon, and after a few days I got a sharp attack of fever, which determined me to move. I accordingly fixed on a place about a mile off, at the foot of a forest-covered hill, where in a few days Mr. M. built for me a nice little house, consisting of a good-sized enclosed verandah or open room, and a small inner sleeping-room, with a little cookhouse outside. As soon as it was finished I moved into it, and found the change most agreeable.
The forest which surrounded me was open and free from underwood, consisting of large trees, widely scattered with a great quantity of palm-trees (Arenga saccharifera), from which palm wine and sugar are made. There were also great numbers of a wild Jack-fruit tree (Artocarpus), which bore abundance of large reticulated fruit, serving as an excellent vegetable. The ground was as thickly covered with dry leaves as it is in an English wood in November; the little rocky streams were all dry, and scarcely a drop of water or even a damp place was anywhere to be seen. About fifty yards below my house, at the foot of the hill, was a deep hole in a watercourse where good water was to be had, and where I went daily to bathe by having buckets of water taken out and pouring it over my body.
My host Mr. M. enjoyed a thoroughly country life, depending almost entirely on his gun and dogs to supply his table. Wild pigs of large size were very plentiful and he generally got one or two a week, besides deer occasionally, and abundance of jungle-fowl, hornbills, and great fruit pigeons. His buffaloes supplied plenty of milk from which he made his own butter; he grew his own rice and coffee, and had ducks, fowls, and their eggs, in profusion. His palm-trees supplied him all the year round with "sagueir," which takes the place of beer; and the sugar made from them is an excellent sweetmeat. All the fine tropical vegetables and fruits were abundant in their season, and his cigars were made from tobacco of his own raising. He kindly sent me a bamboo of buffalo-milk every morning; it was as thick as cream, and required diluting with water to keep it fluid during the day. It mixes very well with tea and coffee, although it has a slight peculiar flavour, which after a time is not disagreeable. I also got as much sweet "sagueir" as I liked to drink, and Mr. M. always sent me a piece of each pig he killed, which with fowls, eggs, and the birds we shot ourselves, and buffalo beef about once a fortnight, kept my larder sufficiently well supplied.
Every bit of flatland was cleared and used as rice-fields, and on the lower slopes of many of the hills tobacco and vegetables were grown. Most of the slopes are covered with huge blocks of rock, very fatiguing to scramble over, while a number of the hills are so precipitous as to be quite inaccessible. These circumstances, combined with the excessive drought, were very unfavourable for lily pursuits. Birds were scarce, and I got but few new to me. Insects were tolerably plentiful, but unequal. Beetles, usually so numerous and interesting, were exceedingly scarce, some of the families being quite absent and others only represented by very minute species. The Flies and Bees, on the other hand, were abundant, and of these I daily obtained new and interesting species. The rare and beautiful Butterflies of Celebes were the chief object of my search, and I found many species altogether new to me, but they were generally so active and shy as to render their capture a matter of great difficulty. Almost the only good place for them was in the dry beds of the streams in the forest, where, at damp places, muddy pools, or even on the dry rocks, all sorts of insects could be found. In these rocky forests dwell some of the finest butterflies in the world. Three species of Ornithoptera, measuring seven or eight inches across the wings, and beautifully marked with spots or masses of satiny yellow on a black ground, wheel through the thickets with a strong sailing flight. About the damp places are swarms of the beautiful blue-banded Papilios, miletus and telephus, the superb golden green P. macedon, and the rare little swallow-tail Papilio rhesus, of all of which, though very active, I succeeded in capturing fine series of specimens.
I have rarely enjoyed myself more than during my residence here. As I sat taking my coffee at six in the morning, rare birds would often be seen on some tree close by, when I would hastily sally out in my slippers, and perhaps secure a prize I had been seeking after for weeks. The great hornbills of Celebes (Buceros cassidix) would often come with loud-flapping wings, and perch upon a lofty tree just in front of me; and the black baboon-monkeys, Cynopithecus nigrescens, often stared down in astonishment at such an intrusion into their domains while at night herds of wild pigs roamed about the house, devouring refuse, and obliging us to put away everything eatable or breakable from our little cooking-house. A few minutes' search on the fallen trees around my house at sunrise and sunset, would often produce me more beetles than I would meet with in a day's collecting, and odd moments could be made valuable which when living in villages or at a distance from the forest are inevitably wasted. Where the sugar-palms were dripping with sap, flies congregated in immense numbers, and it was by spending half an hour at these when I had the time to spare, that I obtained the finest and most remarkable collection of this group of insects that I have ever made.
Then what delightful hours I passed wandering up and down the dry river-courses, full of water-holes and rocks and fallen trees, and overshadowed by magnificent vegetation. I soon got to know every hole and rock and stump, and came up to each with cautious step and bated breath to see what treasures it would produce. At one place I would find a little crowd of the rare butterfly Tachyris zarinda, which would rise up at my approach, and display their vivid orange and cinnabar-red wings, while among them would flutter a few of the fine blue-banded Papilios. Where leafy branches hung over the gully, I might expect to find a grand Ornithoptera at rest and an easy prey. At certain rotten trunks I was sure to get the curious little tiger beetle, Therates flavilabris. In the denser thickets I would capture the small metal-blue butterflies (Amblypodia) sitting on the leaves, as well as some rare and beautiful leaf-beetles of the families Hispidae and Chrysomelidae.
I found that the rotten jack-fruits were very attractive to many beetles, and used to split them partly open and lay them about in the forest near my house to rot. A morning's search at these often produced me a score of species—Staphylinidae, Nitidulidae, Onthophagi, and minute Carabidae, being the most abundant. Now and then the "sagueir" makers brought me a fine rosechafer (Sternoplus schaumii) which they found licking up the sweet sap. Almost the only new birds I met with for some time were a handsome ground thrush (Pitta celebensis), and a beautiful violet-crowned dove (Ptilonopus celebensis), both very similar to birds I had recently obtained at Aru, but of distinct species.
About the latter part of September a heavy shower of rain fell, admonishing us that we might soon expect wet weather, much to the advantage of the baked-up country. I therefore determined to pay a visit to the falls of the Maros river, situated at the point where it issues from the mountains—a spot often visited by travellers and considered very beautiful. Mr. M. lent me a horse, and I obtained a guide from a neighbouring village; and taking one of my men with me, we started at six in the morning, and after a ride of two hours over the flat rice-fields skirting the mountains which rose in grand precipices on our left, we readied the river about half-way between Maros and the falls, and thence had a good bridle-road to our destination, which we reached. in another hour. The hills had closed in around us as we advanced; and when we reached a ruinous shed which had been erected for the accommodation of visitors, we found ourselves in a flat-bottomed valley about a quarter of a mile wide, bounded by precipitous and often overhanging limestone rocks. So far the ground had been cultivated, but it now became covered with bushes and large scattered trees.
As soon as my scanty baggage had arrived and was duly deposited in the shed, I started off alone for the fall, which was about a quarter of a mile further on. The river is here about twenty yards wide, and issues from a chasm between two vertical walls of limestone, over a rounded mass of basaltic rock about forty feet high, forming two curves separated by a slight ledge. The water spreads beautifully over this surface in a thin sheet of foam, which curls and eddies in a succession of concentric cones until it falls into a fine deep pool below. Close to the very edge of the fall a narrow and very rugged path leads to the river above, and thence continues close under the precipice along the water's edge, or sometimes in the water, for a few hundred yards, after which the rocks recede a little, and leave a wooded bank on one side, along which the path is continued, until in about half a mile, a second and smaller fall is reached. Here the river seems to issue from a cavern, the rocks having fallen from above so as to block up the channel and bar further progress. The fall itself can only be reached by a path which ascends behind a huge slice of rock which has partly fallen away from the mountain, leaving a space two or three feet wide, but disclosing a dark chasm descending into the bowels of the mountain, and which, having visited several such, I had no great curiosity to explore.
Crossing the stream a little below the upper fall, the path ascends a steep slope for about five hundred feet, and passing through a gap enters a narrow valley, shut in by walls of rock absolutely perpendicular and of great height. Half a mile further this valley turns abruptly to the right, and becomes a mere rift in the mountain. This extends another half mile, the walls gradually approaching until they are only two feet apart, and the bottom rising steeply to a pass which leads probably into another valley, but which I had no time to explore. Returning to where this rift had begun the main path turns up to the left in a sort of gully, and reaches a summit over which a fine natural arch of rock passes at a height of about fifty feet. Thence was a steep descent through thick jungle with glimpses of precipices and distant rocky mountains, probably leading into the main river valley again. This was a most tempting region to explore, but there were several reasons why I could go no further. I had no guide, and no permission to enter the Bugis territories, and as the rains might at any time set in, I might be prevented from returning by the flooding of the river. I therefore devoted myself during the short time of my visit to obtaining what knowledge I could of the natural productions of the place.
The narrow chasms produced several fine insects quite new to me, and one new bird, the curious Phlaegenas tristigmata, a large ground pigeon with yellow breast and crown, and purple neck. This rugged path is the highway from Maros to the Bugis country beyond the mountains. During the rainy season it is quite impassable, the river filling its bed and rushing between perpendicular cliffs many hundred feet high. Even at the time of my visit it was most precipitous and fatiguing, yet women and children came over it daily, and men carrying heavy loads of palm sugar (of very little value). It was along the path between the lower and the upper falls, and about the margin of the upper pool, that I found most insects. The large semi-transparent butterfly, Idea tondana, flew lazily along by dozens, and it was here that I at length obtained an insect which I had hoped but hardly expected to meet with—the magnificent Papilio androcles, one of the largest and rarest known swallow-tailed butterflies. During my four days' stay at the falls, I was so fortunate as to obtain six good specimens. As this beautiful creature flies, the long white tails flicker like streamers, and when settled on the beach it carries them raised upwards, as if to preserve them from injury. It is scarce even here, as I did not see more than a dozen specimens in all, and had to follow many of them up and down the river's bank repeatedly before I succeeded in their capture. When the sun shone hottest, about noon, the moist beach of the pool below the upper fall presented a beautiful sight, being dotted with groups of gay butterflies—orange, yellow, white, blue, and green—which on being disturbed rose into the air by hundreds, forming clouds of variegated colours.
Such gores, chasms, and precipices here abound, as I have nowhere seen in the Archipelago. A sloping surface is scarcely anywhere to be found, huge walls and rugged masses of rock terminating all the mountains and enclosing the valleys. In many parts there are vertical or even overhanging precipices five or six hundred feet high, yet completely clothed with a tapestry of vegetation. Ferns, Pandanaceae, shrubs, creepers, and even forest trees, are mingled in an evergreen network, through the interstices of which appears the white limestone rock or the dark holes and chasms with which it abounds. These precipices are enabled to sustain such an amount of vegetation by their peculiar structure. Their surfaces are very irregular, broken into holes and fissures, with ledges overhanging the mouths of gloomy caverns; but from each projecting part have descended stalactites, often forming a wild gothic tracery over the caves and receding hollows, and affording an admirable support to the roots of the shrubs, trees, and creepers, which luxuriate in the warm pure atmosphere and the gentle moisture which constantly exudes from the rocks. In places where the precipice offers smooth surfaces of solid rock, it remains quite bare, or only stained with lichens, and dotted with clumps of ferns that grow on the small ledges and in the minutest crevices.
The reader who is familiar with tropical nature only through the medium of books and botanical gardens will picture to himself in such a spot many other natural beauties. He will think that I have unaccountably forgotten to mention the brilliant flowers, which, in gorgeous masses of crimson, gold or azure, must spangle these verdant precipices, hang over the cascade, and adorn the margin of the mountain stream. But what is the reality? In vain did I gaze over these vast walls of verdure, among the pendant creepers and bushy shrubs, all around the cascade on the river's bank, or in the deep caverns and gloomy fissures—not one single spot of bright colour could be seen, not one single tree or bush or creeper bore a flower sufficiently conspicuous to form an object in the landscape. In every direction the eye rested on green foliage and mottled rock. There was infinite variety in the colour and aspect of the foliage; there was grandeur in the rocky masses and in the exuberant luxuriance of the vegetation; but there was no brilliancy of colour, none of those bright flowers and gorgeous masses of blossom so generally considered to be everywhere present in the tropics. I have here given an accurate sketch of a luxuriant tropical scene as noted down on the spot, and its general characteristics as regards colour have been so often repeated, both in South America and over many thousand miles in the Eastern tropics, that I am driven to conclude that it represents the general aspect of nature at the equatorial (that is, the most tropical) parts of the tropical regions.
How is it then, that the descriptions of travellers generally give a very different idea? and where, it may be asked, are the glorious flowers that we know do exist in the tropics? These questions can be easily answered. The fine tropical flowering-plants cultivated in our hothouses have been culled from the most varied regions, and therefore give a most erroneous idea of their abundance in any one region. Many of them are very rare, others extremely local, while a considerable number inhabit the more arid regions of Africa and India, in which tropical vegetation does not exhibit itself in its usual luxuriance. Fine and varied foliage, rather than gay flowers, is more characteristic of those parts where tropical vegetation attains its highest development, and in such districts each kind of flower seldom lasts in perfection more than a few weeks, or sometimes a few days. In every locality a lengthened residence will show an abundance of magnificent and gaily-blossomed plants, but they have to be sought for, and are rarely at any one time or place so abundant as to form a perceptible feature in the landscape. But it has been the custom of travellers to describe and group together all the fine plants they have met with during a long journey, and thus produce the effect of a gay and flower-painted landscape. They have rarely studied and described individual scenes where vegetation was most luxuriant and beautiful, and fairly stated what effect was produced in them by flowers. I have done so frequently, and the result of these examinations has convinced me that the bright colours of flowers have a much greater influence on the general aspect of nature in temperate than in tropical climates. During twelve years spent amid the grandest tropical vegetation, I have seen nothing comparable to the effect produced on our landscapes by gorse, broom, heather, wild hyacinths, hawthorn, purple orchises, and buttercups.
The geological structure of this part of Celebes is interesting. The limestone mountains, though of great extent, seem to be entirely superficial, resting on a basis of basalt which in some places forms low rounded hills between the more precipitous mountains. In the rocky beds of the streams basalt is almost always found, and it is a step in this rock which forms the cascade already described. From it the limestone precipices rise abruptly; and in ascending the little stairway along the side of the fall, you step two or three times from the rock on to the other—the limestone dry and rough, being worn by the water and rains into sharp ridges and honeycombed holes—the basalt moist, even, and worn smooth and slippery by the passage of bare-footed pedestrians. The solubility of the limestone by rain-water is well seen in the little blocks and peaks which rise thickly through the soil of the alluvial plains as you approach the mountains. They are all skittle-shaped, larger in the middle than at the base, the greatest diameter occurring at the height to which the country is flooded in the wet season, and thence decreasing regularly to the ground. Many of them overhang considerably, and some of the slenderer pillars appear to stand upon a point. When the rock is less solid it becomes curiously honeycombed by the rains of successive winters, and I noticed some masses reduced to a complete network of stone through which light could be seen in every direction.
From these mountains to the sea extends a perfectly flat alluvial plain, with no indication that water would accumulate at a great depth beneath it, yet the authorities at Macassar have spent much money in boring a well a thousand feet deep in hope of getting a supply of water like that obtained by the Artesian wells in the London and Paris basins. It is not to be wondered at that the attempt was unsuccessful.
Returning to my forest hut, I continued my daily search after birds and insects. The weather, however, became dreadfully hot and dry, every drop of water disappearing from the pools and rock-holes, and with it the insects which frequented them. Only one group remained unaffected by the intense drought; the Diptera, or two-winged flies, continued as plentifully as ever, and on these I was almost compelled to concentrate my attention for a week or two, by which means I increased my collection of that Order to about two hundred species. I also continued to obtain a few new birds, among which were two or three kinds of small hawks and falcons, a beautiful brush-tongued paroquet, Trichoglossus ornatus, and a rare black and white crow, Corvus advena.
At length, about the middle of October, after several gloomy days, down came a deluge of rain which continued to fall almost every afternoon, showing that the early part of the wet season had commenced. I hoped now to get a good harvest of insects, and in some respects I was not disappointed. Beetles became much more numerous, and under a thick bed of leaves that had accumulated on some rocks by the side of a forest stream, I found an abundance of Carbidae, a family generally scarce in the tropics. The butterflies, however, disappeared. Two of my servants were attacked with fever, dysentery, and swelled feet, just at the time that the third had left me, and for some days they both lay groaning in the house. When they got a little better I was attacked myself, and as my stores were nearly finished and everything was getting very damp, I was obliged to prepare for my return to Macassar, especially as the strong westerly winds would render the passage in a small open boat disagreeable, if not dangerous.
Since the rains began, numbers of huge millipedes, as thick as one's finger and eight or ten inches long, crawled about everywhere—in the paths, on trees, about the house—and one morning when I got up I even found one in my bed! They were generally of a dull lead colour or of a deep brick red, and were very nasty-looking things to be coming everywhere in one's way, although quite harmless. Snakes too began to show themselves. I killed two of a very abundant species—big-headed, and of a bright green colour, which lie coiled up on leaves and shrubs and can scarcely be seen until one is close upon them. Brown snakes got into my net while beating among dead leaves for insects, and made me rather cautious about inserting my hand until I knew what kind of game I had captured. The fields and meadows which had been parched and sterile, now became suddenly covered with fine long grass; the river-bed where I had so many times walked over burning rocks, was now a deep and rapid stream; and numbers of herbaceous plants and shrubs were everywhere springing up and bursting into flower. I found plenty of new insects, and if I had had a good, roomy, water-and-wind-proof house, I should perhaps have stayed during the wet season, as I feel sure many things can then be obtained which are to be found at no other time. With my summer hut, however, this was impossible. During the heavy rains a fine drizzly mist penetrated into every part of it, and I began to have the greatest difficulty in keeping my specimens dry.
Early in November I returned to Macassar, and having packed up my collections, started in the Dutch mail steamer for Amboyna and Ternate. Leaving this part of my journey for the present, I will in the next CHAPTER conclude my account of Celebes, by describing the extreme northern part of the island which I visited two years later.
CHAPTER XVII. CELEBES.
(MENADO. JUNE TO SEPTEMBER, 1859.)
IT was after my residence at Timor-Coupang that I visited the northeastern extremity of Celebes, touching Banda, Amboyna, and Ternate on my way. I reached Menado on the 10th of June, 1859, and was very kindly received by Mr. Tower, an Englishman, but a very old resident in Menado, where he carries on a general business. He introduced me to Mr. L. Duivenboden (whose father had been my friend at Ternate), who had much taste for natural history; and to Mr. Neys, a native of Menado, but who was educated at Calcutta, and to whom Dutch, English, and Malay were equally mother-tongues. All these gentlemen showed me the greatest kindness, accompanied me in my earliest walks about the country, and assisted me by every means in their power. I spent a week in the town very pleasantly, making explorations and inquiries after a good collecting station, which I had much difficulty in finding, owing to the wide cultivation of coffee and cacao, which has led to the clearing away of the forests for many miles around the town, and over extensive districts far into the interior.
The little town of Menado is one of the prettiest in the East. It has the appearance of a large garden containing rows of rustic villas with broad paths between, forming streets generally at right angles with each other. Good roads branch off in several directions towards the interior, with a succession of pretty cottages, neat gardens, and thriving plantations, interspersed with wildernesses of fruit trees. To the west and south the country is mountainous, with groups of fine volcanic peaks 6,000 or 7,000 feet high, forming grand and picturesque backgrounds to the landscape.
The inhabitants of Minahasa (as this part of Celebes is called) differ much from those of all the rest of the island, and in fact from any other people in the Archipelago. They are of a light-brown or yellow tint, often approaching the fairness of a European; of a rather short stature, stout and well-made; of an open and pleasing countenance, more or less disfigured as age increases by projecting check-bones; and with the usual long, straight, jet-black hair of the Malayan races. In some of the inland villages where they may be supposed to be of the purest race, both men and women are remarkably handsome; while nearer the coasts where the purity of their blood has been destroyed by the intermixture of other races, they approach to the ordinary types of the wild inhabitants of the surrounding countries.
In mental and moral characteristics they are also highly peculiar. They are remarkably quiet and gentle in disposition, submissive to the authority of those they consider their superiors, and easily induced to learn and adopt the habits of civilized people. They are clever mechanics, and seem capable of acquiring a considerable amount of intellectual education.
Up to a very recent period these people were thorough savages, and there are persons now living in Menado who remember a state of things identical with that described by the writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The inhabitants of the several villages were distinct tribes, each under its own chief, speaking languages unintelligible to each other, and almost always at war. They built their houses elevated upon lofty posts to defend themselves from the attacks of their enemies. They were headhunters like the Dyaks of Borneo, and were said to be sometimes cannibals. When a chief died, his tomb was adorned with two fresh human heads; and if those of enemies could not be obtained, slaves were killed for the occasion. Human skulls were the great ornaments of the chiefs' houses. Strips of bark were their only dress. The country was a pathless wilderness, with small cultivated patches of rice and vegetables, or clumps of fruit-trees, diversifying the otherwise unbroken forest. Their religion was that naturally engendered in the undeveloped human mind by the contemplation of grand natural phenomena and the luxuriance of tropical nature. The burning mountain, the torrent and the lake, were the abode of their deities; and certain trees and birds were supposed to have special influence over men's actions and destiny. They held wild and exciting festivals to propitiate these deities or demons, and believed that men could be changed by them into animals—either during life or after death.
Here we have a picture of true savage life; of small isolated communities at war with all around them, subject to the wants and miseries of such a condition, drawing a precarious existence from the luxuriant soil, and living on, from generation to generation, with no desire for physical amelioration, and no prospect of moral advancement.
Such was their condition down to the year 1822, when the coffee-plant was first introduced, and experiments were made as to its cultivation. It was found to succeed admirably from fifteen hundred feet, up to four thousand feet above the sea. The chiefs of villages were induced to undertake its cultivation. Seed and native instructors were sent from Java; food was supplied to the labourers engaged in clearing and planting; a fixed price was established at which all coffee brought to the government collectors was to be paid for, and the village chiefs who now received the titles of "Majors" were to receive five percent of the produce. After a time, roads were made from the port of Menado up to the plateau, and smaller paths were cleared from village to village; missionaries settled in the more populous districts and opened schools; and Chinese traders penetrated to the interior and supplied clothing and other luxuries in exchange for the money which the sale of the coffee had produced.
At the same time, the country was divided into districts, and the system of "Controlleurs," which had worked so well in Java, was introduced. The "Controlleur" was a European, or a native of European blood, who was the general superintendent of the cultivation of the district, the adviser of the chiefs, the protector of the people, and the means of communication between both and the European Government. His duties obliged him to visit every village in succession once a month, and to send in a report on their condition to the Resident. As disputes between adjacent villages were now settled by appeal to a superior authority, the old and inconvenient semi-fortified houses were disused, and under the direction of the "Controlleurs" most of the houses were rebuilt on a neat and uniform plan. It was this interesting district which I was now about to visit.
Having decided on my route, I started at 8 A.M. on the 22d of June. Mr. Tower drove me the first three miles in his chaise, and Mr. Neys accompanied me on horseback three miles further to the village of Lotta. Here we met the Controlleur of the district of Tondano, who was returning home from one of his monthly tours, and who had agreed to act as my guide and companion on the journey. From Lotta we had an almost continual ascent for six miles, which brought us on to the plateau of Tondano at an elevation of about 2,400 feet. We passed through three villages whose neatness and beauty quite astonished me. The main road, along which all the coffee is brought down from the interior in carts drawn by buffaloes, is always turned aside at the entrance of a village, so as to pass behind it, and thus allow the village street itself to be kept neat and clean. This is bordered by neat hedges often formed entirely of rose-trees, which are perpetually in blossom. There is a broad central path and a border of fine turf, which is kept well swept and neatly cut. The houses are all of wood, raised about six feet on substantial posts neatly painted blue, while the walls are whitewashed. They all have a verandah enclosed with a neat balustrade, and are generally surrounded by orange-trees and flowering shrubs. The surrounding scenery is verdant and picturesque. Coffee plantations of extreme luxuriance, noble palms and tree ferns, wooded hills and volcanic peaks, everywhere meet the eye. I had heard much of the beauty of this country, but the reality far surpassed my expectations.
About one o'clock we reached Tomohon, the chief place of a district, having a native chief now called the "Major," at whose house we were to dine. Here was a fresh surprise for me. The house was large, airy and very substantially built of hard native timber, squared and put together in a most workmanlike manner. It was furnished in European style, with handsome chandelier lamps, and the chairs and tables all well made by native workmen. As soon as we entered, madeira and bitters were offered us. Then two handsome boys neatly dressed in white, and with smoothly brushed jet-black hair, handed us each a basin of water and a clean napkin on a salver. The dinner was excellent. Fowls cooked in various ways; wild pig roasted, stewed and fried; a fricassee of bats, potatoes, rice and other vegetables; all served on good china, with finger glasses and fine napkins, and abundance of good claret and beer, seemed to me rather curious at the table of a native chief on the mountains of Celebes. Our host was dressed in a suit of black with patent-leather shoes, and really looked comfortable and almost gentlemanly in them. He sat at the head of the table and did the honours well, though he did not talk much. Our conversation was entirely in Malay, as that is the official language here, and in fact the mother-tongue and only language of the Controlleur, who is a native-born half-breed. The Major's father who was chief before him, wore, I was informed, a strip of bark as his sole costume, and lived in a rude but raised home on lofty poles, and abundantly decorated with human heads. Of course we were expected, and our dinner was prepared in the best style, but I was assured that the chiefs all take a pride in adopting European customs, and in being able to receive their visitors in a handsome manner.
After dinner and coffee, the Controlleur went on to Tondano, and I strolled about the village waiting for my baggage, which was coming in a bullock-cart, and did not arrive until after midnight. Supper was very similar to dinner, and on retiring I found an elegant little room with a comfortable bed, gauze curtains with blue and red hangings, and every convenience. Next morning at sunrise the thermometer in the verandah stood at 69 deg., which I was told is about the usual lowest temperature at this place, 2,500 feet above the sea. I had a good breakfast of coffee, eggs, and fresh bread and butter, which I took in the spacious verandah amid the odour of roses, jessamine, and other sweet-scented flowers, which filled the garden in front; and about eight o'clock left Tomohon with a dozen men carrying my baggage.
Our road lay over a mountain ridge about 4,000 feet above the sea, and then descended about 500 feet to the little village of Rurukan, the highest in the district of Minahasa, and probably in all Celebes. Here I had determined to stay for some time to see whether this elevation would produce any change in the zoology. The village had only been formed about ten years, and was quite as neat as those I had passed through, and much more picturesque. It is placed on a small level spot, from which there is an abrupt wooded descent down to the beautiful lake of Tondano, with volcanic mountains beyond. On one side is a ravine, and beyond it a fine mountainous and wooded country.
Near the village are the coffee plantations. The trees are planted in rows, and are kept topped to about seven feet high. This causes the lateral branches to grow very strong, so that some of the trees become perfect hemispheres, loaded with fruit from top to bottom, and producing from ten to twenty pounds each of cleaned coffee annually. These plantations were all formed by the Government, and are cultivated by the villagers under the direction of their chief. Certain days are appointed for weeding or gathering, and the whole working population are summoned by the sound of a gong. An account is kept of the number of hours' work done by each family, and at the year's end, the produce of the sale is divided among them proportionately. The coffee is taken to Government stores established at central places over the whole country, and is paid for at a low fixed price. Out of this a certain percentage goes to the chiefs and majors, and the remainder is divided among the inhabitants. This system works very well, and I believe is at present far better for the people than free-trade would be. There are also large rice-fields, and in this little village of seventy houses, I was informed that a hundred pounds' worth of rice was sold annually.
I had a small house at the very end of the village, almost hanging over the precipitous slope down to the stream, and with a splendid view from the verandah. The thermometer in the morning often stood at 62 deg. and never rose so high as 80 deg., so that with the thin clothing used in the tropical plains we were always cool and sometimes positively cold, while the spout of water where I went daily for my bath had quite an icy feel. Although I enjoyed myself very much among these fine mountains and forests, I was somewhat disappointed as to my collections. There was hardly any perceptible difference between the animal life in this temperate region and in the torrid plains below, and what difference did exist was in most respects disadvantageous to me. There seemed to be nothing absolutely peculiar to this elevation. Birds and quadrupeds were less plentiful, but of the same species. In insects there seemed to be more difference. The curious beetles of the family Cleridae, which are found chiefly on bark and rotten wood, were finer than I have seen them elsewhere. The beautiful Longicorns were scarcer than usual, and the few butterflies were all of tropical species. One of these, Papilio blumei, of which I obtained a few specimens only, is among the most magnificent I have ever seen. It is a green and gold swallow-tail, with azure-blue and spoon-shaped tails, and was often seen flying about the village when the sun shone, but in a very shattered condition. The great amount of wet and cloudy weather was a great drawback all the time I was at Rurukan.
Even in the vegetation there is very little to indicate elevation. The trees are more covered with lichens and mosses, and the ferns and tree-ferns are finer and more luxuriant than I had been accustomed to seeing on the low grounds, both probably attributable to the almost perpetual moisture that here prevails. Abundance of a tasteless raspberry, with blue and yellow composite, have somewhat of a temperate aspect; and minute ferns and Orchideae, with dwarf Begonias on the rocks, make some approach to a sub-alpine vegetation. The forest, however, is most luxuriant. Noble palms, Pandani, and tree-ferns are abundant in it, while the forest trees are completely festooned with Orchideae, Bromeliae, Araceae, Lycopodiums, and mosses. The ordinary stemless ferns abound; some with gigantic fronds ten or twelve feet long, others barely an inch high; some with entire and massive leaves, others elegantly waving their finely-cut foliage, and adding endless variety and interest to the forest paths. The cocoa-nut palm still produces fruit abundantly, but is said to be deficient in oil. Oranges thrive better than below, producing abundance of delicious fruit; but the shaddock or pumplemous (Citrus decumana) requires the full force of a tropical sun, for it will not thrive even at Tondano a thousand feet lower. On the hilly slopes rice is cultivated largely, and ripens well, although the temperature rarely or never rises to 80 deg., so that one would think it might be grown even in England in fine summers, especially if the young plants were raised under glass.
The mountains have an unusual quantity of earth and vegetable mould spread over them. Even on the steepest slopes there is everywhere a covering of clays and sands, and generally a good thickness of vegetable soil. It is this which perhaps contributes to the uniform luxuriance of the forest, and delays the appearance of that sub-alpine vegetation which depends almost as much on the abundance of rocky and exposed surfaces as on difference of climate. At a much lower elevation on Mount Ophir in Malacca, Dacrydiums and Rhododendrons with abundance of Nepenthes, ferns, and terrestrial orchids suddenly took the place of the lofty forest; but this was plainly due to the occurrence of an extensive slope of bare, granitic rock at an elevation of less than 3,000 feet. The quantity of vegetable soil, and also of loose sands and clays, resting on steep slopes, hill-tops and the sides of ravines, is a curious and important phenomenon. It may be due in part to constant, slight earthquake shocks facilitating the disintegration of rock; but, would also seem to indicate that the country has been long exposed to gentle atmospheric action, and that its elevation has been exceedingly slow and continuous.
During my stay at Rurukan, my curiosity was satisfied by experiencing a pretty sharp earthquake-shock. On the evening of June 29th, at a quarter after eight, as I was sitting reading, the house began shaking with a very gentle, but rapidly increasing motion. I sat still enjoying the novel sensation for some seconds; but in less than half a minute it became strong enough to shake me in my chair, and to make the house visibly rock about, and creak and crack as if it would fall to pieces. Then began a cry throughout the village of "Tana goyang! tana goyang! "(Earthquake! earthquake!) Everybody rushed out of their houses—women screamed and children cried—and I thought it prudent to go out too. On getting up, I found my head giddy and my steps unsteady, and could hardly walk without falling. The shock continued about a minute, during which time I felt as if I had been turned round and round, and was almost seasick. Going into the house again, I found a lamp and a bottle of arrack upset. The tumbler which formed the lamp had been thrown out of the saucer in which it had stood. The shock appeared to be nearly vertical, rapid, vibratory, and jerking. It was sufficient, I have no doubt, to have thrown down brick, chimneys, walls, and church towers; but as the houses here are all low, and strongly framed of timber, it is impossible for them to be much injured, except by a shock that would utterly destroy a European city. The people told me it was ten years since they had had a stronger shock than this, at which time many houses were thrown down and some people killed.
At intervals of ten minutes to half an hour, slight shocks and tremors were felt, sometimes strong enough to send us all out again. There was a strange mixture of the terrible and the ludicrous in our situation. We might at any moment have a much stronger shock, which would bring down the house over us, or—what I feared more—cause a landslip, and send us down into the deep ravine on the very edge of which the village is built; yet I could not help laughing each time we ran out at a slight shock, and then in a few moments ran in again. The sublime and the ridiculous were here literally but a step apart. On the one hand, the most terrible and destructive of natural phenomena was in action around us—the rocks, the mountains, the solid earth were trembling and convulsed, and we were utterly impotent to guard against the danger that might at any moment overwhelm us. On the other hand was the spectacle of a number of men, women, and children running in and out of their houses, on what each time proved a very unnecessary alarm, as each shock ceased just as it became strong enough to frighten us. It seemed really very much like "playing at earthquakes," and made many of the people join me in a hearty laugh, even while reminding each other that it really might be no laughing matter.
At length the evening got very cold, and I became very sleepy, and determined to turn in; leaving orders to my boys, who slept nearer the door, to wake me in case the house was in danger of falling. But I miscalculated my apathy, for I could not sleep much. The shocks continued at intervals of half an hour or an hour all night, just strong enough to wake me thoroughly each time and keep me on the alert, ready to jump up in case of danger. I was therefore very glad when morning came. Most of the inhabitants had not been to bed at all, and some had stayed out of doors all night. For the next two days and nights shocks still continued at short intervals, and several times a day for a week, showing that there was some very extensive disturbance beneath our portion of the earth's crust. How vast the forces at work really are can only be properly appreciated when, after feeling their effects, we look abroad over the wide expanse of hill and valley, plain and mountain, and thus realize in a slight degree the immense mass of matter heaved and shaken. The sensation produced by an earthquake is never to be forgotten. We feel ourselves in the grasp of a power to which the wildest fury of the winds and waves are as nothing; yet the effect is more a thrill of awe than the terror which the more boisterous war of the elements produces. There is a mystery and an uncertainty as to the amount of danger we incur, which gives greater play to the imagination, and to the influences of hope and fear. These remarks apply only to a moderate earthquake. A severe one is the most destructive and the most horrible catastrophe to which human beings can be exposed.
A few days after the earthquake I took a walk to Tondano, a large village of about 7,000 inhabitants, situated at the lower end of the lake of the same name. I dined with the Controlleur, Mr. Bensneider, who had been my guide to Tomohon. He had a fine large house, in which he often received visitors; and his garden was the best for flowers which I had seen in the tropics, although there was no great variety. It was he who introduced the rose hedges which give such a charming appearance to the villages; and to him is chiefly due the general neatness and good order that everywhere prevail. I consulted him about a fresh locality, as I found Rurukan too much in the clouds, dreadfully damp and gloomy, and with a general stagnation of bird and insect life. He recommended me a village some distance beyond the lake, near which was a large forest, where he thought I should find plenty of birds. As he was going himself in a few days, I decided to accompany him.