An Account of the Voyages undertaken by the order of His Present Majesty, for making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere, and successively performed by Commodore Byron, Captain Wallis, Captain Carteret, and Captain Cook, in the Dolphin, the Swallow, and the Endeavour: Drawn from the Journals which were kept by the several Commanders, and from the Papers of Joseph Banks, Esq. [Vol. II]
Some Account of Batavia, and the adjacent Country, with their Fruits, Flowers, and other Productions.
Batavia, the capital of the Dutch dominions in India, and generally supposed to have no equal among all the possessions of the Europeans in Asia, is situated on the North side of the island of Java, in a low fenny plain, where several small rivers, which take their rise in the mountains called Blaeuwen Berg, about forty miles up the country, empty themselves into the sea, and where the coast forms a large bay, called the Bay of Batavia, at the distance of about eight leagues from the streight of Sunda. It lies in latitude 6° 10 S. and longitude 106° 50′ E. from the meridian of Greenwich, as appears from astronomical observations page 480 made upon the spot, by the Reverend Mr. Mohr, who has built an elegant observatory, which is as well furnished with instruments as most in Europe.
The Dutch seem to have pitched upon this spot for the convenience of water-carriage, and in that it is indeed a second Holland, and superior to every other place in the world. There are very few streets that have not a canal of considerable breadth running thro' them, or rather stagnating in them, and continued for several miles in almost every direction beyond the town, which is also intersected by five or six rivers, some of which are navigable thirty or forty miles up the country. As the houses are large, and the streets wide, it takes up a much greater extent, in proportion to the number of houses it contains, than any city in Europe. Valentyn, who wrote an account of it about the year 1726, says, that in his time there were, within the walls, 1242 Dutch houses, and 1200 Chinese; and without the walls 1066 Dutch, and 1240 Chinese, besides 12 arrack houses, making in all 4760: but this account appeared to us to be greatly exaggerated, especially with respect to the number of houses within the walls.
The streets are spacious and handsome, and the banks of the canals are planted with rows of trees, that make a very pleasing appearance; but the trees concur with the canals to make the situation unwholesome. The stagnant canals in the dry season exhale an intolerable stench, and the trees impede the course of the air, by which in some degree the putrid effluvia would be dissipated. In the wet season the inconvenience is equal, for then these reservoirs of corrupted water overflow their banks in the lower part of the town, especially in the neighbourhood of the hotel, and fill the lower stories of the houses, where they leave behind them an inconceivable quantity of slime and filth: yet these canals are sometimes cleaned; but the cleaning of them is so managed as to become as great a nuisance as the foulness of the water; for the black mud that is taken from the bottom is suffered to lie upon the banks, that is, in the middle of the street, till it has acquired a sufficient degree of hardness to be made the lading of a boat, and carried away. As the mud page 481 consists chiefly of human ordure, which is regularly thrown into the canals every morning; there not being a necessary house in the whole town, it poisons the air, while it is drying, to a considerable extent. Even the running streams become nuisances in their turn, by the nastiness or negligence of the people; for every now and then a dead hog, or a dead horse, is stranded upon the shallow parts, and it being the business of no particular person to remove the nuisance, it is negligently left to time and accident. While we were here, a dead buffalo lay upon the shoal of a river that ran through one of the principal streets above a week, and at last was carried away by a flood.
The houses are in general well adapted to the climate; they consist of one very large room or hall on the ground floor, with a door at each end, both which generally stand open: at one end a room is taken off by a partition, where the master of the house transacts his business; and in the middle, between each end, there is a court, which gives light to the hall, and at the same time increases the draught of air. From one corner of the hall the stairs go up to the floor above, where also the rooms are spacious and airy. In the alcove, which is formed by the court, the family dine; and at other times it is occupied by the female slaves, who are not allowed to sit down any where else.
The public buildings are most of them old, heavy, and ungraceful; but the new church is not inelegant; it is built with a dome, that is seen from a great distance at sea, and though the outside has rather a heavy appearance, the inside forms a very fine room: it is furnished with an organ of a proper size, being very large, and is most magnificently illuminated by chandeliers.
The town is inclosed by a stone wall, of a moderate height; but the whole of it is old, and many parts are much out of repair. This wall itself is surrounded by a river, which in some places is fifty, and in some a hundred yards wide: the stream is rapid, but the water is shallow. The wall is also lined within by a canal, which in different parts is of different breadths; so that in passing either out or in through the gates, it is necessary to cross two draw-bridges; page 482 and there is no access for idle people or strangers to walk upon the ramparts, which seem to be but ill provided with guns.
In the north-east corner of the town stands the castle or citadel, the walls of which are both higher and thicker than those of the town, especially near the landing-place, where there is depth of water only for boats, which it completely commands, with several large guns, that make a very good appearance.
Within this castle are apartments for the Governor General, and all the Council of India, to which they are enjoined to repair in case of a siege. Here are also large store-houses, where great quantities of the Company's goods are kept, especially those that are brought from Europe, and where almost all their writers transact their business. In this place also are laid up a great number of cannon, whether to mount upon the walls or furnish shipping, we could not learn; and the Company is said to be well supplied with powder, which is dispersed in various magazines, that if some should be destroyed by lightning, which in this place is very frequent, the rest may escape.
Besides the fortifications of the town, numerous forts are dispersed about the country to the distance of twenty or thirty miles; these seem to have been intended merely to keep the native in awe, and indeed they are fit for nothing else. For the same purpose a kind of houses, each of which mounts about eight guns, are placed in such situations as command the navigation of three or four canals, and consequently the roads upon their banks: some of these are in the town itself, and it was from one of these that all the best houses belonging to the Chinese were levelled with the ground in the Chinese rebellion of 1740. These defences are scattered over all parts of Java, and the other islands of which the Dutch have got possession in these seas. Of one of these singular forts, or fortified houses, we should have procured a drawing, if our gentlemen had not been confined by sickness almost all the time they were upon the island.
If the Dutch fortifications here are not formidable in themselves, they become so by their situation; for they are among morasses where the roads, which are page 483 nothing more than a bank thrown up between a canal and a ditch, may easily be destroyed, and consequently the approach of heavy artillery either totally prevented or greatly retarded: for it would be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to transport them in boats, as they all muster every night under the guns of the castle, a situation from which it would be impossible for an enemy to take them. Besides, in this country, delay is death; so that whatever retards an enemy, will destroy him. In less than a week we were sensible of the unhealthiness of the climate; and in less than a month half the ship's company was unable to do their duty. We were told, that of an hundred soldiers who arrive here form Europe, it was a rare thing for fifty to survive the first year; that of those fifty, half would then be in the hospital, and not ten of the rest in perfect health: possibly this account may be exaggerated; but the pale and feeble wretches whom we saw crawling about with a musket, which they were feareely able to carry, inclined us to believe that it was true. Every white inhabitant of the town indeed is a soldier; the younger are constantly mustered, and those who have served five years are liable to be called out when their assistance is thought to be necessary; but as neither of them are ever exercised, or do any kind of duty, much cannot be expected from them. The Portuguese, indeed, are in general good marksmen, because they employ themselves much in shooting wild hogs and deer: neither the Mardykers nor the Chinese know the use of fire arms; but as they are said to be brave, they might do much execution with their own weapons, swords, lances, and daggers. The Mardykers are Indians of all nations who are descended from free ancestors, or have themselves been made free.
But if it is difficult to attack Batavia by land, it is utterly impossible to attack it by sea: for the water is so shallow, that it will scarcely admit a long-boat to come within cannon shot of the walls, except in a narrow channel, called the river, that is walled on both sides by strong piers, and runs about half a mile into the harbour. At the other end it terminates under the fine of the strongest part of the castle; and here its page 484 communication with the canals that intersect the town is cut off by a large wooden boom, which is shut every night at six o'clock, and upon no pretence opened till the next morning. The harbour of Batavia is accounted the finest in India, and to all appearance with good reason; it is large enough to contain any number of ships, and the ground is so good that one anchor will hold till the cable decays: it never admits any sea that is troublesome, and its only inconvenience is the shoal water between the road and the river. When the sea breeze blows fresh, it makes a cockling sea that is dangerous to boats: our long-boat once struck two or three times as she was attempting to come out, and regained the river's mouth with some difficulty. A Dutch boat, laden with sails and rigging for one of the Indiamen, was entirely lost.
Round the harbour, on the outside, lie many islands, which the Dutch have taken possession of, and apply to different uses. To one of them, called Edam, they transport all Europeans who have been guilty of crimes that are not worthy of death: some are sentenced to remain there ninety-nine years, some forty, some twenty, some less, down to five, in proportion to their offence: and during their banishment, they are employed as slaves in making ropes, and other drudgery. In another island called Pulmerent, they have an hospital, where people are said to recover much faster than at Batavia. In a third called Kuyper, they have ware-houses belonging to the Company, chiefly for rice and other merchandize of small value; and here the foreign ships that are to be laid down at Ourust, another of these islands, which with Kuyper has been mentioned before, discharge their cargoes at wharfs, which are very convenient for the purpose. Here the guns, sails, and other stores of the Falmouth, a man of war, which was condemned at this place when she was returning from Manilla, were deposited, and the ship herself remained in the harbour with only the warrant officers on board for many years. Remittances were regularly made them from home: but no notice was ever taken of the many memorials they sent, desiring to be recalled. Happily for them, the Dutch thought fit, about six months before our arrival, to page 485 sell the vessel and all her stores, by public auction, and send the officers home in their own ships. At Ourust, they repair all their own shipping, and keep a large quantity of naval stores.
The country round Batavia is for some miles a continued range of country houses and gardens. Many of the gardens are very large, and, by some strange fatality, all are planted with trees almost as thick as they can stand; so that the country derives no advantage from its being cleared of the wood that originally covered it, except the fruit of that which has been planted in its room. These impenetrable forests stand in a dead flat, which extends some miles beyond them, and is intersected in many directions by rivers, and more still by canals, which are navigable for small vessels. Nor is this the worst for the fence of every field and garden is a ditch; and interspersed among the cultivated ground there are many filthy fens, bogs, and morasses, as well fresh as salt.
It is not strange that the inhabitants of such a country should be familiar with disease and death: preventive medicines are taken almost as regularly as food; and every body expects the returns of sickness, as we do the seasons of the year. We did not see a single face in Batavia that indicated perfect health, for there is not the least tint of colour in the cheeks either of man or woman: the women indeed are most delicately fair; but with the appearance of disease there never can be perfect beauty. People talk of death with as much indifference as they do in a camp; and when an acquaintance is said to be dead, the common reply is, “Well, he owed me nothing;” or, “I must get my money of his executors.”
To this description of the environs of Batavia there are but two exceptions. The Governor's country-house is situated upon a rising ground; but its ascent is so inconsiderable, that it is known to be above the common level only by the canals being left behind, and the appearance of a few bad hedges: his Excellency, however, who is a native of this place, has, with some trouble and expence, contrived to inclose his own garden with a ditch; such is the influence of habit both upon the taste and the understanding. A famous market also, called Passar Tanabank, is held upon an eminence that page 486 rises perpendicularly about thirty feet above the plain, and except these situations, the ground for an extent of between thirty and forty miles round Batavia, is exactly parallel to the horizon. At the distance of about forty miles inland there are hills of a considerable height, where, as we are informed, the air is healthy, and comparatively cool. Here the vegetables of Europe flourish in great perfection, particularly strawberries, which can but ill bear heat; and the inhabitants are vigorous and ruddy. Upon these hills sc[gap — reason: unclear] of the principal people have country houses, which they visit once a-year; and one was begun for the Governor, upon the plan of Blenheim, the famous feat of the Duke of Marlborough in Oxfordshire, but it has never been finished. To these hills also people are sent by the physicians, for the recovery of their health, and the effects of the air are said to be almost miraculous; the patient grows well in a short time, but constantly relapses soon after his return to Batavia.
But the same situation and circumstances which render Batavia and the country round it unwholesome, render it the best gardener's ground in the world. The soil is fruitful beyond imagination, and the conveniencies and luxuries of life that it produces are almost without number.
Rice, which is well known to be the corn of these countries, and to serve the inhabitants instead of bread, grows in great plenty: and I must here observe, that in the hilly parts of Java, and in many of the eastern islands, a species of this grain is planted, which in the western parts of India is intirely unknown. It is called by the natives Paddy Gunung, or Mountain rice; this, contrary to the other sort, which must be under water three parts in four of the time of its growth, is planted upon the sides of hills where no water but rain can come: it is however planted at the beginning of the rainy season, and reaped in the beginning of the dry. How far this kind of rice might be useful in our West-Indian islands, where no bread-corn is grown, it may perhaps be worth while to inquire.
Indian corn, or maize, is also produced here; which the inhabitants gather when young, and roast in the ear. Here is also a great variety of kidney-beams page 487 and lentiles, which they call Cadjang, and which make a considerable part of the food of the common people; besides millet, yams both wet and dry, sweet potatoes, and European potatoes, which are very good, but not cultivated in great plenty. In the gardens there are cabbages, lettuces, cucumbers, radishes, the white radishes of China, which boil almost as well as a turnep; carrots, parsley, celery, pigeon peas, the eggplant, which broiled, and eaten with pepper and salt, is very delicious; a kind of greens resembling spinage; onions, very small, but excellent; and asparagus: besides some European plants of a strong smell, particularly sage, hysop, and rue. Sugar is also produced here in immense quantities: very great crops of the finest and largest canes that can be imagined are produced with very little care, and yield a much larger proportion of sugar than the canes of the West Indies. White sugar is sold here at two pence halfpenny a pound; and the molasses make the arrack of which, as of rum, it is the chief ingredient; a small quantity of rice, and some cocoa-nut wine, being added, chiefly, I suppose, to give it flavour. A small quantity of indigo is also produced here, not as an article of trade, but merely for home consumption.
But the most abundant article of vegetable luxury here, is the fruit; of which there are no less than six and thirty different kinds, and I shall give a very brief account of each.
The pine apple; Bromelia Ananas. This fruit, which is here called Nanas, grows very large, and in such plenty that they may sometimes be bought at the first hand for a farthing a piece; and at the common fruit shops we got three of them for two-pence half-penny. They are very juicy and well flavoured; but we all agreed that we had eaten as good from a hot-house in England: they are however so luxuriant in their growth, that most of them have two or three crowns, and a great number of suckers from the bottom of the fruit; of these Mr. Banks once counted nine; and they are so forward, that very often while they still adhered to the parent plant they shot out their fruit, which by the time the large one became ripe, were of no inconsiderable size. We several times saw page 488 three upon one apple; and were told that a plant once, produced a clufre of nine, besides the principal: this indeed was considered as so great a curiosty, that it was preserved in sugar, and sent to the prince of Orange.
Sweet oranges. These are very good, but while we were here, sold for six-pence a piece.
Pomplemoeses, which in the West Indies are called Shaddocks. These were well flavoured, but not juicy; their want of juice, however, was an accidental effect of the season.
Lemons. These were very scarce; but the want of them was amply compensated by the plenty of limes.
Limes. These were excellent, and to be bought at about twelve pence a hundred. We saw only two or three Seville oranges, which were almost all rhind; and there are many sorts both of oranges and lemons, which I shall not particularly mention, because they are neither esteemed by Europeans nor the natives themselves.
Mangos. This fruit, during our stay, was so in-fested with maggots, which bred in the inside of them, that scarcely one in three was eatable; and the best of them were much inferior to those of Brazil: they are generally compared by Europeans to a melting peach, which, indeed, they resemble in softness and sweetness, but certainly fall much short in flavour. The climate here, we were told, is too hot and damp for them; but there are as many sorts of them as there are of apples in England, and some are much superior to others. One sort, which is called Mangha Cowani, has so strong a smell, that a European can scarcely bear one in the room; these, however, the natives are fond of. The three sorts which are generally preferred, are the Mangha Doodool, the Mangha Santock, and the Manghn Cure.
Bananes. Of these also there are innumerable sorts, but three only are good; the Pissang Mas, the Pissung Radja, and the Pissang Ambou: all these have a pleasant vinous taste, and the rest are useful in different ways; some are fried in batter, and others are boiled and, eaten as bread. There is one which deserves the page 489 particular notice of the botanist, because contrary to the nature of its tribe; it is full of seeds, and is therefore called Pissang Batu, or Pissang Bidjie; it has however no excellence to recommend it to the taste, but the Malays use it as a remedy for the flux.
Grapes. These are not in great perfection, but they are very dear; for we could not buy a moderate bunch for less than a shilling or eighteen-pence.
Tamarinds. These are in great plenty, and very cheap: the people however do not put them up in the manner practised by the West Indians, but cure them with sait, by which means they become a black mass, so disagreeable to the sight and taste, that few Europeans choose to meddle with them.
Water melons. These are in great plenty, and very good.
Pumpkins. These are beyond comparison the most usesul fruit that can be carried to sea; for they will keep without any care several months, and with sugar and lemon-juice make a pye that can scarcely be distinguished from one made of the best apples; and, with pepper and sait, they are a substitute for turneps, not to be despised.
Papaws. This fruit, when it is ripe, is full of seeds, and almost without flavour; but is when it is green it is pared, and the core taken out, it is better than the best turnep.
Guava. This fruit is much commended by the inhabitants of our islands in the West Indies, who probably have a better sort than we met with here, where the smell of them was so disagreeably strong, that it made some of us sick; those who tasted them, said, that the flavour was equally rank.
Sweet sop. The Annona squammosa of Linnæus. This is also a West Indian fruit: it consists only of a mass of large kernels, from which a small proportion of pulp may be sucked, which is very sweet, but has little flavour.
Custard Apple. The Annona reticulata of Linnæus. The quality of this fruit is well expressed by its English name, which it acquired in the West Indies; for it is as like a custard, and a good one too, as can be imagined.page 490
The cashew apple. This is seldom eaten or account of its astringency. The nut that grows upon the top of it is well known in Europe.
The cocoa-nut. This is also well known in Europe: there are several sorts, but the best of those we found, here is called Calappi Edjou. and is easily known by the redness of the flesh between the skin and the shell.
Mangostan. The Garcinia Mangostan of Linnæus. This fruit, which is peculiar to the East Indies, is about the size of a crab apple, and of a deep red-wine colour: on the top of it is the figure, of five or six small triangles joined in a circle, and at the. bottom several hollow green leaves, which are remains of the blossom. When they are to be eaten, the skin, or rather flesh, must be taken off, under which are found six or seven white kernels, placed in a circular order, and the pulp, with which these are enveloped, is the fruit than which nothing can be more delicious: it is a happy mixture of the tart and the sweet, which is no less wholesome than pleasant; and with the sweet orange, the fruit is allowed, in any quantity, to those who are afflicted with fevers, either of the putrid or inflammatory kind
The jamboo, The Eugenia Mallaccensis of Linnæus. This fruit is of a deep red colour, and an oval shape; the largest, which are always the best, are not bigger than a small apple; they are pleasant and cooling, though they have not much flavour,
The jambu-eyer. A species of the Eugenia of Linnæus, Of this fruit there are two sorts of a similar shape, resembling a bell, but differing in colour; one being red, the other white. They somewhat exceed a large cherry in size, and in taste have neither flavour nor even sweetness, containing nothing but a watry juice, slightly acidulated; yet their coolness recommends them in this hot country.
Jambu-eyer mauwar. The Eugenia jambas of Linnæus. This is more grateful to the smell than the taste; in taste it resembles the conserve of roses, and in smell the fresh scent of those flowers.
The pomegranate. This is the same fruit that is known by the same name all over Europe.page 491
Durion. A fruit that in shape resembles a small melon, but the skin is covered with sharp conical spines, whence its name; for du[gap — reason: unclear], in the Malay language, signifies prickle. When it is ripe, it divides longitudinally into seven or eight compartments, each of which contains six or seven nuts, not quite so large as chestnuts, which are covered with a substance that in colour and consistence very much resembles thick cream: this is the part that is eaten, and the natives are fond of it to excess. To Europeans it is generally disagreeable at first; for in taste it somewhat resembles a mixture of cream, sugar, and onions; and in the smell, the onions predominate
Nanca. This fruit, which in some parts of India is called Jack, has, like the Durion, a smell very disagreeable to strangers, and some what resembling that of mellow apples mixed with garlic: the flavour is not more adapted to the general taste. In some countries that are favourable to it, it is said to grow to an immense size. Rumphius relates, that it is sometimes so large, that a man cannot easily lift it; and we were told by a Malay, that at Madura it is sometimes so large as not to be carried but by the united efforts of two men. At Batavia, however, they never exceed the size of a large melon, which in shape they very much resemble: they are covered with angular prickles, like the shootings of some chrystals, which, however, are not hard enough to wound those who handle them.
Champada. This differs from the Nanca in little, except size, it being not so big.
Rambutan. This is a fruit little known to Europeans; in appearance it very much resembles a chestnut with the husk on, and, like that, is covered with small points, which are soft, and of a deep red colour: under this skin is the fruit, and within the fruit a stone; the eatable part, therefore, is small in quantity, but its acid is perhaps more agreeable than any other in the whole vegeteable kingdom.
Jambolan. This in size and appearance is not unlike a damascene; but in taste is still more astringent, and therefore less agreeable.page 492
The Boa Bidarra; or Rhamnus Jujuba of Linnæus. This is a round yellow fruit, about the size of a gooseberry; its flavour is like that of an apple, but it has the astringency of a crab.
Nam-nam. The Cynometra Cauliflora of Linnæus. This fruit in shape somewhat resembles a kidney; it is about three inches long, and the outside is very rough: it is seldom eaten raw, but fried with batter it makes a good fritter.
The Catappa, or Terminalia Catappa; and the Canare, the Canarium commune of Linnæus; are both nuts, with kernels somewhat resembling an almond; but the difficulty of breaking the shell is so great, that they are no where publicly sold. Those which we tasted were gathered for curiosity by Mr. Banks from the tree upon which they grew.
The Madja, or Limonia of Linnæus, contains, under a hard brittle shell, a lightly acid pulp, which cannot be eaten without sugar; and with it is not generally thought pleasant.
Suntul. The Trichilia of Linnæus. This is the worst of all the fruits that I shall particularly mention: in size and shape it resembles the Madja; and within a thick skin contains kernels like those of the Mangostan, the taste of which is both acid and astringent, and so disagreeable that we were surprised to see it exposed upon the fruit-stalls.
|34, 35, 36.||
The Blimbing, or Averrhoa Belimbi; the Blimbing Besse, or Averrhoa Carambola; and the Cherrema, or Averrhoa Acida of Linnæus, are three species of one genus; and though they differ in shape, are nearly of the same taste. The Blimbing Besse is the sweetest: the other two are so austerely acid, that they cannot be used without dressing; they make however excellent pickles and sour sauce.
The Salack; or Calamus Rotang Zalacca of Linnæus. This is the fruit of a prickly bush; it is about as big as a walnut, and covered with scales, like those of a lizard: below the scales are two or three yellow kernels, in flavour somewhat resembling a strawberry.
Besides these, the island of Java, and particularly the country round Batavia, produces many kinds of fruit which were not in season during our stay; we page 493 were also told, that apples, strawberries, and many other fruits from Europe, had been planted up in the mountains, and flourished there in great luxuriance. We saw several fruits preserved in sugar, that we did not see recent from the tree, one of which is called Kemkit, and another Boa Atap: and here are several others which are eaten only by the natives, particularly the Kellor, the Guilindina, the Moringa, and the Soccum. The Soccum is of the same kind with the bread-fruit in the South-Sea islands, but so much inferior, that if it had not been for the similitude in the outward appearance, both of the fruit and the tree, we should not have referred it to that class. These, and some others, do not merit to be particularly mentioned.
The quantity of fruit that is consumed at Batavia is incredible; but that which is publicly exposed to sale is generally over-ripe. A stranger, however, may get good fruit in a street called Passar Pissang, which lies north from the great church, and very near it. This street is inhabited by none but Chinese fruit-sellers, who are supplied from the gardens of gentlemen in the neighbourhood of the town, with such as is fresh, and excellent in its kind, for which, however, they must be paid more than four times the market price.
The town in general is supplied from a considerable distance, where great quantities of land are cultivated merely for the production of fruit. The country people, to whom these lands belong, meet the people of the town at two great markets, one on Monday, called Passar Sineen, and the other on Saturday, called Passar Tanabank. These fairs are held at places considerably distant from each other, for the convenience of different districts; neither of them, however, are more than five miles distant from Batavia. At these fairs the best fruit may be bought at the cheapest rate; and the sight of them to an European is very entertaining. The quantity of fruit is astonishing; forty or fifty cart-loads of the finest pine-apples, packed as carelessly as turneps in England, are common, and other fruit in the same profusion. The days, however, on which these markets are held are ill contrived; the time between Saturday and Monday is too short, and that page 494 between Monday and Saturday too long: great part of what is bought on Monday is always much the worse for keeping before a new stock can be bought, either by the retailer or consumer; so that for several days, in every week, there is nogood front in the hands of any people but the Chinese in Pa[gap — reason: unclear] Pissang.
The inhabitants of this part of India practise a luxury which seems to be but little attended to in other countries; they are co[gap — reason: unclear]mu[gap — reason: unclear]lly burning aromatic woods and resins, and scatter odours round them in a profusion of flowers, possibly as an [gap — reason: unclear] to the noisome [gap — reason: unclear]uvia of their ditches and canals. Of sweet snelling flowers they have a great variety, altogether unknown in Europe, the chief of which I shall briefly describe.
The Champacka, or Michelia Champacca. This grows upon a tree as large as an apple tree, and consists of fifteen long narrow petals, which give it the appearance of being double, though in reality it is not so: its colour is yellow, and much deeper than that of a jonquil, to which it has some resemblance in smell.
The Cananga, or Uvaria Cananga, is a green flower, not at all resembling the blossom of any tree or plant in Europe; it has indeed more the appearance of a bunch of leaves than a flower; its scent is agreeable, but altogether peculiar to itself.
The Mulasti, or Nyctahshes Sambac. This is well known in English hot houses by the name of Arabian jessamine; it grows here in the greatest profusion, and its fragrance, like that of all other Indian flowers, though exquisitely pleasing, has not the over powering strength which distinguishes some of the same sorts in Europe.
The Combang Caracnassi, and Combang Tonquin, Percularia Glabro. These are small flowers of the dog's bane kind, very much resembling each other in shape and smell, highly fragrant, but very different from every product of an English garden.
The Bonga Tanjong, or Mim[gap — reason: unclear]sops Elengi of Linnæus. This flower is shaped like a star of seven or eight rays, and is about half an inch in diameter; it is of a yellowish colour, and has an agreeable smell.
Besides these, there is the Sundal Malam, or Polianthes Tuberosa. This flower, being the same with our page 495 own tuberose, can have no place among those that are unknown in Europe; but I mention it for its Malay name, which signifies “Intriguer of the Night,” and is not inelegantly conceived. The heat of this climate is so great, that few flowers exhale their sweets in the day; and this, in particular, from its total want of scent at that time, and the modesty of its colour, which is white, seems negligent of attracting admirers; but as soon as night comes on it diffuses its fragrance, and at once compels the attention, and excites the complacency of all who approach it.
These are all sold about the streets every evening at fun-set, either strung upon a thread in wreaths of about two feet long, or made up into nosegays of different forms, either of which may be purchased for about a halfpenny. Besides these, there are in private gardens many other sweet flowers, which are not produced in a sufficient quantity to be brought to market. With a mixture of these flowers, and the leaves of a plant called pandang, cut into small pieces, persons of both sexes fill their hair and their clothes, and with the same mixture indulge a much mgher luxury by strewing it on their beds; so that the chamber in which they sleep breathes the richest and purest of all adours, unallayed by the fumes, which cannot but arise where the sleeper lies under two or three blankets and a quit; for the bed covering here is nothing more than a single piece of fine chintz.
Before I close my account of the vegetable productions of this part of India, I must take some notice of the spices. Java originally produced none but pepper. This is now sent from hence into Europe to a great value, but the quantity consumed here is very small: the inhabitants use Capsicum, or, as it is called in Europe, Cayan pepper, almost universally in its stead. Cloves and nutmegs, having been monopolized by the Dutch, are become too dear to be plentifully used by the other inhabitants of this country, who are very fond of them. Cloves, although they are said originally to have been the produce of Machian, or Bachian, a small island far to the eastward, and only fifteen miles to the northward of the line, and to have been from thence disseminated by the Dutch, at their first coming into page 496 these parts, over all the eastern islands, are now confined to Amboina, and the small isles that lie in its neighbourhood; the Dutch having, by different treaties of peace between them and the conquered kings of all the other islands, stipulated that they should have only a certain number of trees in their dominions, and in future quarrels, as a punishment for disobedience and rebellion, lessened the quantity, till at last they lest them no claim to any. Nutmegs have in a manner been extirpated in all the islands except their native soil, Banda, which easily supplies every nation upon earth, and would as easily supply every nation in another globe of the same dimensions, if there was any such to which the industrious Hollander could transport the commodity; it is, however, certain, that there are a few trees of this spice upon the coast of New Guinea. There may perhaps be both cloves and nutmegs upon other islands to the eastward; for those neither the Dutch nor any other European seem to think it worth while to examine.
The principal tame quadrupeds of this country are horses, cattle, buffaloes, sheep, goats, and hogs. The horses are small, never exceeding in size what we call a stout galloway, but they are nimble and spirited, and are reported to have been found here when the Europeans first came round the Cape of Good Hope. The horned cattle are said to be the same species as those of Europe; but they differ so much in appearance, that we are inclined to doubt it. They have, indeed, the palearia or dewlap, which naturalists make the distinguishing characteristic of the European species, but they certainly are found wild, not only in Java but several of the eastern islands. The flesh of those that we eat at Batavia had a finer grain than European beef, but it was less juicy, and miserably lean. Buffaloes are plenty, but the Dutch never eat them, nor will they drink their milk, being prepossessed with a notion that both are unwholesome, and tend to produce fevers; though the natives and Chinese eat both, without any injury to their health. The sheep are of the kind which have long ears that hang down, and hair instead of wool: the flesh of these is hard and tough, and in every respect the worst mutton we ever saw. We found page 497 here, however, a few Cape sheep, which are excellent, but so dear that we gave five-and-forty shillings a-piece for four of them, the heaviest of which weighed only five-and-forty pounds. The goats are not better than the sheep; but the hogs, especially the Chinese breed, are incomparable, and so fat, that the purchaser agrees for the lean separately. The butcher, who is always a Chinese, without the least scruple cuts off as much of the fat as he is desired, and afterwards sells it to his countrymen, who melt it down, and eat it instead of butter with their rice. But not with standing the excellence of this pork, the Dutch are so strongly prejudiced in favour of every thing that comes from their native country, that they eat only of the Dutch breed, which are here sold as much dearer than the Chinese, as the Chinese are sold dearer than the Dutch in Europe.
Besides these animals, which are tame, they have dogs and cats, and there are among the distant mountains some wild horses and cattle: buffaloes are not sound wild in any part of Java, though they abound in Macassar, and several other eastern islands. The neighbourhood of Batavia, however, is plentifully supplied with two kinds of deer and wild hogs, which are sold at a reasonable price by the Portuguese, who shoot them, and are very good food.
Among the mountains, and in the desart parts of the island, there are tygers, it is said, in great abundance, and some rhinoceroses; in these parts also there are monkies, and there are a few of them even in the neighbourhood of Batavia.
Of fish, here is an amazing plenty; many sorts are excellent, and all are very cheap, except the few that are scarce. It happens here, as in other places, that vanity gets the better even of appetite: the cheap fish, most of which is of the best kind, is the food only for slaves; and that which is dear, only because it is scarce, and very much inferior in every respect, is placed upon the tables of the rich. A sensible housekeeper once spoke to us freely upon the subject: I know, said he, as well as you, that I could purchase a better dish of fish for a shilling, than what now costs me ten; but if I should make so good a use of my money, I should page 498 here be as much despised as you would be in Europe, is you were to cover your table with offals, fit only for beggars or dogs.
Turtle is also found here, but it is neither so sweet nor so fat as the West Indian turtle, even in London; such as it is, however, we should consider it as a dainty; but the Dutch, among other singularities, do not eat it. We saw some lizards, or iguanas, here of a very large size; we were told that some were as thick as a man's thigh; and Mr. Banks shot one that was five feet long; the flesh of this animal proved to be very good food.
Poultry is very good here, and in great plenty: fowls of a very large size, ducks, and geese are very cheap; pigeons are dear, and the price of turkies extravagant. We sometimes found the flesh of these animals lean and dry, but this was merely the effect of their being ill fed, for those that we fed ourselves were as good as any of the same kind that we had tasted in Europe, and we sometimes thought them even better.
Wild fowl in general is scarce. We once saw a wild duck in the fields, but never any that were to be sold. We frequently saw snipes of two kinds, one of them exactly the same as that in Europe; and a kind of thrush was always to be had in great plenty of the Portuguese, who, for I know not what reason, seem to have monopolized the wild fowl and game. Of snipes, it is remarkable that they are found in more parts of the world than any other bird, being common almost all over Europe, Asia, Africa, and America.
With respect to drink, Nature has not been quite so liberal to the inhabitants of Java, as to some whom she has placed in the less fruitful regions of the north. The native Javanese, and most of the other Indians who inhabit this island, are indeed Mahometans, and there-fore have no reason to regret the want of wine; but, as if the prohibition of their law respected only the manner of becoming drunk, and not drunkenness itselsf, they chew opium, to the total subversion not only of their understanding, but their health.
The arrack that is made here is too well known to need a description; besides which, the palm yields a wine of the same kind with that which has already page 499 been described in the account of the island of Savu; it is procured from the same tree, in the same manner, and is sold in three states. The first, in which it is called Tuac manise, differs little from that in which it comes from the tree; yet even this has received some preparation altogether unknown to us, in consequence of which it will keep eight-and-forty hours, though otherwise it would spoil in twelve; in this state it has an agreeable sweetness, and will not intoxicate: in the other two states it has undergone a fermentation, and received an infusion of certain herbs and root, by which it loses its sweetness, and acquires a taste very austere and disagreeable. In one of these states it is called Tuac cras, and in the other Tuac cuning, but the specific difference I do not know; in both, however, it intoxicates very powerfully. A liquor called Tuac is also made from the cocoa-nut tree; but this is used chiefly to put into the arrack, for in that which is good it is an essential ingredient.