The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks 1768–1771 [Volume Two]
Some account of Batavia
Some account of Batavia
Batavia, the capital of the Duch Dominions in India, and Generaly esteemd to be by much the finest town of those in the possession of Europeans in these parts, is situated in a low fenny plain3 where several small rivers which take their rise in mountains calld Blaes Berg, about 40 miles inland, empty themselves into the sea. This situation seems to have been pitchd upon by the Duch (always true to their commercial interests) intirely for the convenience of water carriage, which indeed few if any towns in Europe enjoy in a higher degree than this place. Few streets in the town are without canals of a considerable breadth running through, or rather stagnating in them, which canals are continued for several miles round the town, and with 5 or 6 rivers, some of which are navigable 30, 40, or maybe many more miles into, the inland countrey, make the carriage of every species of its produce inconceiveably cheap.
3 Batavia was founded in 1619 in what seemed an admirable situation for a trading capital, but one result of a terrible earthquake in 1699 was to choke the streams with mud from the volcano Gunong Salak; they overflowed the surrounding country and turned it into a swamp. It was alleged that the climate was affected, but certainly the swamp was ideal for the breeding of mosquitoes, which with the general lack of sanitation, as Banks goes on to describe it, made the town one of the deadliest places on the face of the earth. Between 1730 and 1752 1,100,000 deaths were recorded.
The streets are broad and hansome and the Banks of the canals in general planted with rows of trees; a stranger on his first arrival is very much struck with these, and often led to observe how much the heat of the climate must be temperd by the shade of the trees and coolness of the water. Indeed as to the first, it must be convenient to those who walk on foot, but a very short residence will shew him that their inconveniencies far overbalance any convenience he can derive from them in any but a mercantile light. Instead of cooling the air they contribute not a little to heat it, especialy the stagnating ones of which sort are by far the greatest number, by reflecting back the fierce rays of the sun; in the dry season these stink most intolerably, and in the wet many of them overflow their banks, filling the lower stories of the houses near them with water. Add to this that when they clean them, which is pretty often as some are not more than 3 or 4 feet deep, the black mud taken out is sufferd to lie upon their banks, that is in the middle of the street, till it has accquird a sufficient hardness to be conveniently laden into boats; this mud stinks most intolerably, as indeed it must, being cheifly formd from human ordure of which (as there is not a necessary house in the whole town) the Canals every morning receive their regular quota, and the more filthy recrements of housekeeping, which the uncommon police of the countrey suffers every body to throw into them. Add to this that the running ones, which are in some measure free from the former inconveniences, have every now and then a dead horse or hog stranded in the shallow parts of them, a nuisance which as I was inform'd no particular person was apointed to remove—which account I am inclind to beleive, as I remember a Dead Buffaloe laying in one of the principal streets of thoroughfare for more than a week, which was at last carried away by a flood.
The houses are in general large, well built, and conveniently page 196 enough contrivd for the climate. The greatest part of the ground floor is always laid out into one large room, with a door to the street and another to the yard, both which generaly stand open; below is the ground plot of one below stairs where a is the street door, b the back door, c a room where the master of the house does his business, d a court to give light to the room as well as increase the draught, and e the stairs for going upstairs where the rooms are generaly large tho few in number. Such in general are their town houses, differing however in size very much and sometimes in shape; the principles however on which they are built universaly the same—two doors opposite each other, and one or more courts between them to cause a draught, which they do in an eminent degree, as well as dividing the room into alcoves in one of which the family dine, while the female slaves (who on no occasion set any where else) work in another.
Shewy however as these large rooms are to a stranger at his first seeing them, his eye has scarce measurd round him before he is sensible of the thinness1 of furniture which is universal in all of them; in short the same quantity of furniture is sufficient for them as is necessary in our smaller rooms in Europe, as in those we entertain full as many guests at a time as ever is done in these; consequently the chairs, which are spread at even distances from each other, are not very easily collected into a circle if 4 or 5 visitors arrive at once.
Publick buildings they have several, most of them old and executed in rather a clumsey taste; their new church however, which is Built with a dome (that is seen very far out at sea) is certainly far from an ugly building on the outside, tho rather heavy, and on the inside is a very fine room. Its organ is well proportiond, being large enough to fill it, and it is so well supplied with Chandeliers that few churches in Europe are so well lighted.
1 Not structural thinness; the word is used in the obsolete sense of scarcity.
In the Ne corner of the town stands the Castle or citadel, the walls of which are higher and larger than those of the town, especialy near the Landing place for boats which it compleatly Commands, and where are mounted several very large and well looking Gunns. The neighbourhood however of the Ne Corner on both sides seems sufficiently weak, especialy on the east side.
Within this Castle, as it is call'd, are apartments for the Governor general and all the members of the council of India, to which they are enjoind to repair in case of a seige; here are also large storehouses, where are kept great quantities of the companies1 good[s], especialy European, and where almost all their writers &c. do their business. Here are also a large quantity of Cannon laid up in store, but whether to mount on their walls or furnish their shipping in case of the aproach of an enemy I could not learn, tho from their appearance I should judge them to be intended for the latter. As for powder, they are said to be well supplied with it, and that it is dispers'd in various magazines on account of the frequency of lightning.
1 i.e. the Netherlands East India Company.
1 In 1740 the Dutch had suddenly altered a policy of extreme laxity towards the Chinese within their dominions to one of extreme harshness. The effect of this was to cause one or two small Chinese risings, which were transformed by rumour into general rebellion; whereon the Dutch, alarmed beyond all reason, fell on the Chinese in Batavia, burnt out their district, and massacred them all—ten or twelve thousand. This ‘Batavian Fury’, beginning on 8 October, lasted for eight days.—See E. S. de Klerck, History of the Netherlands East Indies (Rotterdam 1938), I, pp. 363–6. Valckenier, the governor-general of the time, was recalled in disgrace in 1743, but was arrested at the Cape on his homeward passage and sent back for trial to Batavia, where he died in prison nine years later, the trial still not over.
2 The Ms omits this word, which is supplied from P, where it has been inserted in a blank space left for the purpose. S adds ‘suppose’ at the end of a line.
Thus much for the land: By Sea it is impossible to attack Batavia on account of the shallowness of the water, which will scarce suffer even a longboat to come within Canon shot of the walls unless she keep a narrow channel walld on both sides by strong piers and running about ½ a mile into the harbour, which channel terminates exactly under the fire of the strongest part of the Castle, where is a large wooden boom which is shut every night at 6 o clock and not opend again till the morn upon any pretence. It is said that before the earthquake in, 2Ships of large Burthen usd to come up to this place and be likewise shut up by the Boom, but at present nothing but boats atempt it.
1 Mardijker, a Dutch transformation of Malay merdeheka, freedom (as opposed to servitude) or free: apparently assimilated to the Mardijker of Mardijk, a small port near Dunkirk, from which Spanish privateers in the seventeenth century made themselves a great nuisance to Dutch shipping. The Mardijkers, descendants of former slaves, mostly imported from the coast of India, were Christians and therefore not compelled to wear a national costume, as were other Asiatics at Batavia. ‘They wear so-called European costume, but without shirt, socks or shoes. They parade, dressed up like a quack's monkey at a country fair, and are the shrewdest and most self-conceited of Batavia's inhabitants.’—Chastelein, the humanitarian Batavian estate-owner (d. 1714), quoted by B. H. M. Vlekke, Nusantara (Cambridge, Mass. 1944), p. 173.
2 1699; cf. p. 194, n. 3 above.
Round the outside of the harbour are many small Islands, some of which the Duch make use of: as Edam, to which they transport all Europeans who have been guilty of Crimes not worthy of death—some of these are sentenc'd to remain there 99, others 40, 20, 5, &c. years, according to their deserts, during which time they work as Slaves making Ropes &c. &c; Purmerent, where they have a hospital, in which people are said to recover much faster than at Batavia; Kuyper, where are warehouses belonging to the company, in which are storehouses in which are kept many things belonging to the Company, cheifly such as are of small value as Rice, &c; here also all foreign ships who are to be hove down at Onrust discharge their cargoes at wharves very convenent for the purpose. Here the Guns, Sails &c. of the Falmouth, a gun ship which was condemnd here in the Year on her return from the Manilla, were kept, and she herself remaind in the harbour with only her warrant officers on Board, who had remittances most regularly from home but no notice ever taken of the many memorials they sent desiring to be recalld. The Dutch however, for reasons best known to themselves, thought fit about Six months before our arrival to sell her and all her stores by publick auction, and send her officers home in their ships.1
1 From the Navy Board papers at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, we learn that the Falmouth, Captain Brereton, was condemned at Batavia as unseaworthy in 1764. She had been one of the fleet that effected the reduction of Manila in 1762. Brereton shipped his company home in four detachments, as well as the shotguns, small arms, and iron ballast. He ran the ship on to soft mud under a Dutch fort and had the stores locked up ashore. He wanted to sell both them and the hull, but the Dutch authorities making difficulties, he hauled down his pendant and sailed home, leaving the boatswain, gunner and carpenter in charge. The East India Company was asked to arrange a sale: it had no agent and suggested that the Dutch company be asked to do so. The carpenter wrote home, 6 December 1767—no doubt one of the ‘many memorials’ to which Banks refers; his letter was received in May 1768, and as a result the British minister in Holland, Sir Joseph Yorke, was asked to take the matter up with the Dutch. A contemporary slip of paper in the records has the note, ‘This is all I can find about the Falmouth’; but possibly an approach by Yorke was the remote cause of the Dutch action in 1770. One gathers from Banks that the delay seemed extreme, even in the eighteenth century.
It is generaly said in Europe that the Dutch keep a strong fleet in the East Indies, Ready and able to Cope with any European power which might attack them there. This is true thus far and no farther, their Indiamen, which are all very large ships, are peercd for 50 or 60 guns each; now should they be attackd when all these were in India, or indeed a little before the Sailing of the Europe fleet, they might if they had sufficient warning to Get in their guns &c &c. raise 40 or 50 sail, but how it would be possible for them to man this fleet, if they kept any body at all on shore, is to me a mystery; again, should they be atackd when the fleets are saild, they have very few ships and those terribly out of Condition; for they keep no ships even in tolerable repair in India except those Employd to go to Ceylon and the Coast, which places indeed are generaly taken in the way to or from Europe; as for the Eastern Islands, no ships of any force are employd there but all the trade carried on in small vessels, many of which are Brigs and Sloops.
1 Cf. Cook's opinion, p. 438: ‘In Justice to the Officers and workmen of this Yard I must say that I do not believe that there is a Marine Yard in the world where Work is done with more alertness than here or where there are better conveniences for heaving ships down both in point of safety and dispatch’—and more to the same effect.
2 Precisely what Banks means by this it is hard to say. Benjamin Franklin's experiments with natural lightning discharges and with the Leyden jar, and hypothesis of positive and negative electricity, would be well enough known to him. Perhaps he regarded the thick woods, loading the country with ‘unwholesome vapours, collected and stagnating under their branches’, as equivalent to the Leyden jar or condenser, on such a grand scale that ‘frequent and mischeivous’ discharges were inevitable.
1 Cook recounts this incident as of October 12: ‘About 9 oClock in the Evening we had much Rain with some very heavy Claps of Thunder, one of which carried away a Dutch Indiaman's Main Mast by the Deck and split it, the Main Topmast and Topgallant mast all to shivers, she had had a Iron spindle at the Main Topgallant Mast head which had first Attracted the Lightning. This Ship lay about two Cables lengths from us and we were struck with the Thunder at the same time and in all probability we should have shared the same fate as the Dutchman, had it not been for the Electric Chain which we had but just before got up, this carried the Lightning or Electrical matter over the side clear of the Ship, the Shock was so great as to shake the whole ship very sencibly. This instance alone is sufficient to recommend these Chains to all ships whatever, and that of the Dutchman ought to caution people from having Iron spindles at their Masts heads.’—p. 433. The Dutch lightning conductor may have been dangerously rigged, or it may simply have had the effect of concentrating the discharge at a vulnerable point. There was still plenty of scope for controversy over the practical application of lightning conductors: cf. I, p. 116 above.
So much for the neighbourhood of Batavia. As far round it as I had an oportunity of going I saw only two exceptions to this general description: one, where the Generals countrey house is situated, which is a gradualy rising hill of a tolerable extent, but so little raisd above the common level that you are hardly sensible of being upon it by any mark but the canals leaving you and the ditches being changd into bad Hedges; the Governor himself has however straind a Point to enclose his own garden with a ditch, to be in fashion I suppose. The other is the place where a famous market calld Passar Tanabank1 is held; here and here only during my whole stay I had the satisfaction of mounting up a hill of about ten yards perpendicular hight and tolerably steep. About 40 miles inland however are some pretty high hills, where as we were informd the countrey is healthy in a high degree and even at certain hights tolerably cool; there European vegetables flourish in high perfection, even strawberries which bear heat very ill; the people who live there also have Colour in their cheeks, a thing totaly unknown at Batavia where the milk white faces of all the inhabitants are unstaind with any Colour, especialy the women who never go into the sun, are consequently free from tann, and have certainly the whitest skins imaginable. From what cause it proceeds is difficult to say, but in general it is observ'd that they keep their health much better than the men, even those lately arrivd from Europe. On these hills some of the principal people have countrey houses which they visit once a year; the General especialy has one, said to be built upon the Plan of Blenheim house near Oxford, but never finishd. Physicians also often send people here for the recovery of health lost in the low countrey and say that the effects of such a change of air is almost miraculous, working an instant change in favour of the patient, who during his stay there remains well, but no sooner returns to his necessary occupations at Batavia than his complaints return in just the same degree as they were in before his departure.
1 Pasar Tanah Abang (Red earth market). The market at Tanah Abang still exists, but is now well within the city limits; and the hill is still noticeable as a slight eminence on the plain.
2 A long-legged hairy sheep, but without drooping ears, was common to Africa from lower Guinea down to the Cape. The lop-eared breed seems to have originated in Guinea, inheriting drooping ears and throat wattles from an infusion of blood from the hornless and Roman-nosed Theban goat.
Besides these Domestick animals their woods afford some wild Horses and Cattle, But these only in the distant mountains and there very scarce. Buffaloes are not wild upon Java, tho they are upon Macassar and several of the Eastern Islands plentifully; the Neighbourhood of Batavia however is pretty plentifully supplyd with Deer of two kinds1 and wild hogs, both which are very good meat and often shot by the Portugese, who sell them tolerably cheap; Monkeys also there are tho but few in the Neighbourhood of Batavia.
On the mountains and in the more desert part of the Island are Tygers,2 it is said in too great abundance, and some Rhinocerosses,3 but neither of these animals are ever heard of in the Neighbourhood of Batavia or indeed any well peopled part of the Island.
Fish are in immense plenty, many sorts of them very excellent, and inconceiveably cheap, But the Dutch, true to the dictates of Luxury, buy none but those which are scarce. We who in the course of our long migration in the warm latitudes had learnd the real excellence of many of the cheapest sorts, wonderd much at seeing them the food of none but Slaves; on enquiry however of a sensible housekeeper he told us that he as well as us knew that for 1 shilling he could purchase a better dish of fish than he did for 10; but said he I dare not do it, for should it be known that I did, I should be look'd upon in the same light as one in Europe who coverd his table with offals fit for nothing but Beggars or dogs. Turtle is also here in abundance, but despisd by Europeans, indeed for what reason I know not: it is neither so sweet or so fat as our West India Turtle even in England. They have also a kind of Large Lizards or Iguanas some of which are said to be as thick as a mans thigh; I shot one about 5 feet long and it provd very good meat.
1 There are three species of deer in Java: the Mouse Deer, Tragulus kanchil Raffles; the Sambar, Cervus unicolor Müller and Schlegel, which is very similar to the well known Indian deer; and the Muntjak or Barking Deer, Muntiacus muntjak Zimmermann.
2 Java is at the southern limit of their range; the tigers here are smaller than those in India.
3 The Lesser One-horned Rhinoceros used to range from Bengal through Burma and Malaya to Java but is now almost extinct.
Wild Fowl in General is here scarce, I saw during my stay one wild duck in the feilds1 but never one to be sold; Snipes however of 2 kinds, one exactly the same as those in Europe,2 and a kind of Thrushes3 are plentifully sold every day by the Portugese, who for I know not what reason seem to monopolize all the wild game.
1 There are several species of resident wild ducks here; occasional visits of northern species have also been recorded.
2 The Common Snipe, Capella gallinago, and two other species occur here. Over 'one' in the MS is written very lightly, not in Bank's hand, the name 'Kandeedee'
3 There are many thrush-like species here and it is impossible to tell which species Banks was referring to.
4 Banks has a marginal note here, 'paddy is Rice. Padi gunung, dry rice.
5 Cajanus cajan, pigeon pea, the immature beans eaten like green peas and the mature beans after thorough cooking.
6 Cajanus cajan.
7 Identification is uncertain in the absence of herbarium colls., but doubtless the hyacinth bean, Dolichos lablab, is one of the two ‘kidney beans’. Banks mentions four beans, Dolichos spp., however, in his Ms catalogue, p. 7. Merrill provides a good brief account of this subject (Plant Life of the Pacific World, 148, 1945).
The fruits of the East Indies are in general so much cryd up by those who have eat of them, and so much prefer'd to our European ones, that I shall give a full list3 of all the sorts which were in Season during our stay, and afterwards my judgement of Each, which I must confess is not so much in their favour as that of the generality of Europeans after their return home, tho while here I did not find that they were more fond of them or spoke more in their praise when compard with European fruits than I did.
|1. Pine apple||Bromelia Ananas|
|2. Sweet Oranges||Citrus Aurant Sihens|
|3. Pumplmoes||Citrus Decumanus|
|4. Lemon||Citrus medica Limon|
|6. Mango||Mangifem indica|
|8. Grapes||Vitis vinifera|
|9. Tamarinds||Tamarindus indica|
|10. Water melons||Cucurbita Citrullus|
|11. Pumkins||Cucurbita Pepo|
|12. Papaws||Carica Papaia|
|13. Guava||Psidium pomiferum|
|14. Sweet Sop||Annona squamosapage 208|
|15. Custard apple||Annona reticulata|
|16. Cashew apple||Anacardium occidenta[le]|
|17. Cocoa nut||Cocos Mucifera|
|18. Mangos tan||Garcinia Mangostana|
|19. Jambu||Eugenia Malaccensis|
|20. Jambu ayer||Eugenia 1|
|21. Jambu ayer Mauwar||Eugenia Jambos|
|22. Pomgranate||Punica Granatum|
|23. Durion||. .a|
|24. Nanca||Sitodium cauliftor 2|
|25. Tsjampada||Sitodium 3|
|28. Boa Bidarra||Rhampus Jujuba|
|29. Nam Nam||Cynometra cauliflora|
|30. Catappa||Terminalia Catappa|
|31. Canari||Canarium commune|
|34. Blimbing||Averrhoa Bilimbi|
|35. Blimbing Bessi||Averrhoa Carambola|
|36. Cherrema||Averrhoa acida|
|37. Solack||Calamus Rotang Zalacca|
1 Eugenia aquea Burm. See Pl. 39.
2 Artocarpus Integra Merr.
3 Artocarpus champeden (Lour.) Spreng.
4 Nephelium lappaceum L.
5 Eugenia cumini Merr.
6 Citrus sp. Gallesio (Traité du Citrus, 2: 171 et seq. 1829) considers the East Indian spp. but does not mention such a vernacular name, nor does Heyne a modern cognate.
7 Calamus ornatus Bl.
8 ‘Pods’ of the horseradish tree, Moringa oleifera, are culinary and the leaves and tender twigs are eaten as a cooked vegetable.
10 Banks's vernacular name has not been positively identified; Anona reticulata is known as ‘Boeah nona’.
1 It is rather odd that Banks makes no attempt to discriminate between these. Mas, gold; pisang mas, a small golden-yellow banana; p. rajah, a large ruddy-skinned variety; p. Ambon (it gets its name from the island Amboina), a large green variety.
2 Batu, a rock, stony, hard; biji, a seed or pip.
3 This seems a very peculiar way to eat this delectable fruit; presumably the Batavia climate was not propitious to flavour in the ripe fruit; else how could Banks make the blasphemous statement? He must have tried a poor one, and omitted the lime.
1 The fruit is the nut, a kidney-shaped fruit, which is placed on the end of a fleshy pear-shaped receptacle, popularly taken for the fruit. Cf. I, p. 201, n. 1 above.
2 Kelapa hidjau, green coconut, not a distinct kind; only green nuts are used for drinking.
3 Ayer mawar, rose-water.
Besides they no doubt have many more which were not in Season during our stay. We were told also that several kinds of European fruits, as apples, strawberries &c had been planted up in the mountains where they came to great perfection, but this I can only advance upon the credit of Report. Several other fruits they have also which they preserve in Sugar as Kimkit,1 Boa Atap,2 &c &c. but these require to be that way prepard before they are at all eatable.
1 Kingkit, Tribhasia aurantiola Lour., a relative of Citrus used as a conserve.
2 Perhaps Sauropus androgynus Merr., ‘Geconfijte boeah katoek’.
3 Pasar Pisang, Banana market.
Thus much for meat. In the article of Drink nature has not been quite so bounteous to the inhabitants of this Island as she has to some of us sons of the Less abundant north; they are not however totaly devoid of strong liquors tho their religion, Mahometanism, forbids them the use of such, by this means driving them from liquid to solid intoxicators, as Opium, tobacco &c &c.
1 Pasar Tanah Abang, Saturday market. Both still exist, now inside the city limits, each comprising several streets of shops and stalls, which sell almost anything every day of the week, many of them on Sundays as well.
2 The Sugar-palm, Arenga saccharifera Labill., which produced the most highly-esteemed toddy, called generally tuak kabong, from the Malay name for the palm. Aren or Nau were the Javanese names.
Next to eating and drinking and one more delicious as well as less blameable luxury, the inhabitants of this part of India seem to place their cheif Delight in sweet smells, of Burning rosins &c. and sweet scented woods; but more than all in sweet flowers, of which they have several sorts very different from ours in Europe, of which I shall give a short account, confining myself however to such as were in season during our stay here, beginning with a list of them.
|1. Champacka||Michelia Champacca 3|
|2. Cananga||Uvaria Cananga 4|
|3. Mulatti||Nyctanthes Sambac 5|
|5. Combang Tonquin||Pergularia glabra 7|
|6. Sundal Malam||Polianthes tuberosa|
|7. Bonga Tanjong||Mimusops Elengi|
1 Tuak manis.
2 Tuak keras, hard or strong palm wine. Keras, hard, and used in the same sense here as in English. The first vowel is hardly sounded, hence Banks's version. Kuning, yellow.
3 Properly Michelia champaca.
4 Cananga odorata.
5 Jasminum sambac.
6 Possibly Wrightia pubescens R. Br., or some other apocynaceous genus.
7 Telosma cordata Merr.
8 Michelia champaca is a sort of magnolia. According to O.E.D., the name ‘champac’ came into English about 1770—apparently from India. Banks's description—certainly one of the earliest in our language—appeared in Hawkesworth in 1773. Cf. Shelley's Indian Serenade: ‘The Champac odours fail Like sweet thoughts in a dream… ’.
Besides these there are in private gardens many other sweet flowers which are not in sufficient plenty to be brought to market, as Cape Jasmine, several sorts of Arabian Jasmine, tho none so sweet as the Common &c. &c. They have also a mixture of several of these flowers and leaves of a plant Calld Pandang (Pandanus)2 choppd small, with which they fill their hair and cloths &c; but their great Luxury is strewing their beds full of this mixture and flowers so that you sleep in the midst of perfumes, a luxury scarce to be expressd nor at all conceivd in Europe, where stewing under 3 or 4 blankets even fragrant odours cannot enjoy that liberty they do in India under none, or at most the covering of a single peice of fine Chintz.
1 This is a charmingly poetic version of the more literal meaning of the words: malam, any time after the fall of darkness; sundal, prostitute.
2 Pandanus odorus Ridl. Rumpf described the scent of a freshly cut leaf as that of new hay or new rice, but the scent is not due to any volatile oil. The potpourri which Banks goes on to describe, made of petals and chopped leaves, is called in Malaya bunga rampai, and in Java kembang ramping (Burkill).
Before I leave the Productions of this countrey I cannot help saying a word or two about spice, tho in reality none but pepper is a native of the Island of Java, and but little even of that. Of pepper however I may say that large as the quantities of it are that are annualy imported into Europe, little or none is usd in this part of the Indies; Capsicum or Cayan pepper as it is call'd in Europe has almost totaly supplyd its place. As for Cloves and Nutmegs, the monopoly of the Duch has made them too dear to be plentifully usd by the Malays, who are otherwise very fond of them. Cloves, tho said to be originaly the Produce of Machian or Bachian,1a small Island far to the Eastward and only 15 miles to the Northward of the Line, from whence they were when the Duch came here disseminated over most or all of the Eastern Isles, are now intirely confind to Amboina2 and its Neighbouring small Islets; the Dutch having by different treaties of peace made with the conquerd 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, lessned their quantity till at last they left them [none]3 Nor any right to have any. Nutmegs have been in the same manner extirpated in all the Islands except their native Banda, which easily supplys this world, and would as easily supply another if the Duch had but another to supply. Of nutmegs however there certainly are a few upon the Eastern coast of New Guinea,4 a place on which the Duch hardly dare set their feet on account of the treachery and warlike disposition of the natives; there may be also both Cloves and nutmegs upon others of the Islands far to the Eastward, for those I beleive neither the Dutch or any other nation seem to think it worth while to examine at all into.
1 Makian, a volcanic islet off the west coast of Halmahera, a short distance south of the fabulous ‘Spice Islands’ of Ternate and Tidore in the Moluccas. It was of course itself one of the Spice Islands. Bachan or Batjan is a different island, larger, still farther south (lat. 0° 25′ S, long. 127° 32′ E).
2 Amboina, off the south-east end of Ceram. Tanjong Alang on its west coast is in lat. 3° 47′ S, 128° 32′ E.
3 none is supplied from P, where it is inserted in a blank space; S reads left them not any right… .
Women may come out without any of these restrictions, or indeed any others, be they of what nation they will. We were told that there were not in Batavia 20 women born in Europe, the rest of the white women, who were not very scarce, were born of white parents, possibly through three or four families, as many generations distant from their European mothers. These imitate the Indian in every particular: their dress except in form is the same, their hair is worn in the same manner, and they chew Betele as plentifully as any Indians, notwithstanding which I never saw a white man chew it during my whole stay.
1 Banks first wrote ‘Englishman’. This may possibly have been John Marra, a man of 24, from Cork. He became gunner's mate in the Resolution on Cook's second voyage, tried to desert at Tahiti, and obtained the notoriety of a surreptitious history of that voyage, published by Newbery in 1775. There was also a James Joyce taken on at Batavia, of origin unknown, but a man of that name could hardly, one would suspect, pass as a Dane; while Marra was quite capable of getting into a scrape.
2 The word means both council and councillor.
3 i.e. corps, of which, in the sense of a body or company of people, it was an earlier spelling.
Merchandise is carried on in an easier and more indolent way here I beleive than in any other part of the world. The Chinese carry on every manufacture of the place and sell the produce to the resident merchants, for indeed they dare not sell to any foreigner; consequently when a Ship comes in and bespeaks 100 Leggers1 off Arrack or any thing else, he has nothing to do but to send orders to his China man to deliver them on board such a ship; which done he brings the Master of the ships receipt for the goods to his Employer, who does nothing but receive money from the Stranger, and reserving his profit, pay the China man his demands. With imports however, they must have a little more trouble, for them they must examine, receive, and preserve in their own warehouses, as other merchants do.
To give a character of them in their dealings, I need only say that the Jewel known to English merchants by the name of fair dealing is totaly unknown here — they have joind all the art of trade that a Dutchman is famous for to the deceit of an Indian. Cheating by false weights and measures, false samples, &c, &c. are lookd upon only as arts of trade: if you do not find them out tis well; if you do, Well they say, then we must give you what is wanting, and refund without a blush or the least wrangle, as I myself have seen in matters relating to the ship. But their great fort is asking one price for their commodities and charging another, so that a man who has laid in 100 pecol2 of sugar, as he thinks at 5 dollars a pecul, after it has been a week or ten days on board will have a bill brought him in at 7, nor will the Merchant go from his charge unless a written agreement or witnesses can be brought to prove the bargain. For my own part, I was fortunate enough to have heard this character of them before I came here, and wanting nothing but daily provision agreed immediately in writing for every article at a certain price, which consequently my Landlord could never depart from; I also, as long as I was well, constan[t]ly once a week lookd over my bill and took it into my posession, never however without scratching out the charges of things which I had never had, to a considerable amount, which was always done without a moments hesitation.
1 English ‘leaguer’ from Dutch ligger, a tun or large cask or barrel. As an English measure a tun equalled four hogsheads, 252 old wine-gallons. Leaguer was in the eighteenth century a measure of arrack, but also a water-cask holding 159 imperial gallons. Banks probably uses the word in a rather vague sense. On p. 41 above he refers to ‘a Legger of 150 Galls’.
2 S has the note, ‘Pecul (at Japan, Java, &c.) is 100 Catty, or 132 lb. Averdupois. v: Bailey's Dictionary’.
Next to the Dutch are the Portugese, who are calld by the Native 1 that is Nazareens, to distinguish them from other europeans, Notwithstanding which they are included in the general Name of Capir or Cafir,2 an approbious term given by the Mahometans to all those who have not enterd into their faith, of whatsoever religion they may be. These tho formerly they were Portugese have no longer any pretentions to more than the name; they have all chang'd their religion and become Lutherans, and have no communication or even knowledge of the Countrey of their forefathers; they speak indeed a corrupt dialect of the Portugese language, but much oftener Malay. None of them are sufferd to employ themselves in any but mean occupations, many make their livelihood by hunting, taking in washing, and some by handicraft trades; their Customs are precisely the same as those of the Indians, like them they chew Betele, and are only to be distinguishd from them by their noses being sharper, their skins considerably blacker, and their Hair dress'd in a manner different from that us'd by the Indians.
1 Oran serane, Orang serani (a corruption of Arabic nasrani). The expression now also signifies Eurasians.
2 Arab Kafir, infidel
4 These were both Celebes people, Mahometans, speaking distinct languages. The Bugis occupied the eastern coast and a great deal of the interior of the southwest peninsula; they are known today as a race of expert sailors having their own characteristic type of ships, with tripod masts and overhanging sterns. The Macassars inhabited the southern and western extremity of the island.
The laws and customs regarding the punishment of Slaves are these: A master may punish a slave as far as he thinks proper by stripes, but should death be the consequence he is calld to a very severe account, if the fact is provd very rarely escaping with life. There is however an officer in every quarter of the town, calld Marineu,2 who is a kind of constable; he attends to quell all riots, takes up all people guilty of crimes &c, but is more particularly used for the apprehending runaway slaves, and punishing them for that or any other crime for which their master thinks they deserve a greater punishment than he chuses to inflict. These punishments are inflicted by slaves bred up to the business; on men they are inflicted before the door of their masters house, on women for decency sake within it; they are stripes given in number according to custom and the nature of the Crime, with rods made of split rattans which fetch blood at every stroke, consequently they may be and sometimes are very severe; a common punishment costs the master of the slave a rixdollar, 4s, and a severe one about a ducatoon, 6s 8d. For their encouragement however and to prevent them from stealing, the master of every slave is obligd to give him 3 dubbelcheys, 7½d a week.
Extrordinary as it may seem there are very few Javans, that is descendants of the original inhabitants of Java, who live in the neighbourhood of Batavià. But as many countries as the Dutch import slaves from, so many sorts of Indians are there, who are either slaves made free or the desendants of such; they are alltogether calld by the name of Oran Slam or Isalam,3 a name by which they distinguish themselves from all other religions, it signifying beleivers of the true faith. They are again subdivided into innumerable divisions, every countrey keeping themselves in some degree distinct from the rest; the dispositions generaly observd in the slaves are however verified in the free men, who compleatly inherit the different vices or virtues of their respective countries.
1 Nias is on the western side of Sumatra, the second large island from the north. It is not a ‘small’ island, as small islands go in the East Indies. The tradition of beautiful women still persists; girls are said to be preferred to boys there because a marriageable daughter brings a high price to her father.
2 Merinyu (from Portuguese marinho), municipal officer, police inspector or bailiff.
3 Orang Islam, man of Islam.
Many of these employ themselves in cultivating gardens and selling fruits and flowers; Betele and Arec, calld here Siri and Pinang, is all grown by them, of which an immense qua[n]tity is chewd by Portugese, Chinese and Slams, slaves and free men. The lime that they use here is however slackd, by which means their teeth are not eat up in the same manner as the Savoo people, who use it unslackd; they mix with it also a substance calld Gambir1 which is brought from the Continent of India, and the better sort of women use with their chew many sorts of perfumes, as cardamoms2 &c. &c. to give the breath an agreable smell. Many also get a livelihood by fishing and carrying goods upon the water &c. &c; some however there are who are very rich and live splendidly in their own way, which consists almost intirely in a number of Slaves.
In the article of food no people can be more Abstemious than they are. Boild rice is of Rich as well as poor the principal part of the subsistence, this with a small proportion of fish, Buffaloe or fowl, and sometimes dryd fish and dry shrimps brought here from China, is the cheif of their food; every thing however must be highly seasond with Cayan pepper. They have also many pastry dishes made of Rice flower and other things I am totaly ignorant of, which are very pleasant, fruit also they eat much of especialy plantanes.
Their feasts are plentifull and in their way magnificent, tho they consist more of shew than meat; artificial flowers &c. are in profusion and meat plentifull tho of no great variety of dishes. Their religion of Mahometanism denies them the use of strong liquors, nor I beleive do they trespas much in that way, having always Tobacco, Betele and opium to intoxicate themselves. Their weddings are carried on with vast form and shew, the families concernd borrowing as many Gold and silver ornaments as possible to adorn the Bride and bride groom, so that their dresses are always costly; the feasts and ceremonies relating to them last in rich mens families a fortnigh[t] or more, all which time the man, tho married the first day, is by the women kept from his wife.
1 An astringent extract from Uncaria gambir, otherwise used in the west in tanning and dyeing, under the name of Gambier.
2 Cardamoms are spices, the seed capsules of species of Amomum and Elettaria, natives of both the East Indies and China.
Their women, and in imitation of them the Dutch also, wear as much hair as ever they can nurse up on their heads, which by the use of oils &c. is incredibly great; it is universaly black, and they wear it in a kind of circular wreath upon the tops of their heads fastned there with a Bodkin, in a taste inexpressibly elegant. I have often wishd that one of our ladies could see a malay womans head dressd in this manner, with her wreath of flowers, commonly Arabian Jasmine, round that of hair, for in that method of dress there is certainly an Elegant simplicity and unafected shew of the beauties of nature, incomparably superior to any thing I have seen in the Labourd head dresses of my fair countrey women.2
1 The native inhabitants of Java were divided into three nations, all Malay, speaking distinct though allied languages—none of them a ‘corrupt dialect’. These were the Sundanese of western Java; the ‘true’ Javanese, of the centre and the east; and the Madurese, of the island of Madura, off Surabaya on the north-east coast and h e adjacent parts of Java itself.
3 The ‘line’ in old measurement was the twelfth of an inch. Cf. I, p. 157 above.
1 i.e. amok. The word first came in to our language via translation from the Portuguese, 1663; Marvell used the phrase ‘runs a mucke’ as early as 1672; but Banks's use of the word seems to mark its earliest independent appearance in English as a noun. O.E.D. dates it 1772, apparently for Hawkesworth, which of course is a year too early.
The Marineu as he is calld, a petty officer of Justice somewhat resembling our constable, who regulates all riotous proceedings &c. &c., has also these Amoc's committed to his charge; if he takes them alive his reward is great, if he kills them that reward is lost. Notwithstanding which 3 out of 4 are killd, so resolute and active is their resistance when attacked, and that they have contrivances like large tongs or pincers to catch them and hold them till disarmd; those who are taken are generaly wounded severely, for the Marineus assistants, who are all armd with hangers, know how to lame the man if once they can get within reach of him. The punishment of this crime is always breaking upon the wheel, nor is that ever relaxd, but so strictly adheerd to that if an amoc when taken is Judgd by the Physicians to be in danger from his wounds, he is executed the very next day, as near as possible to the place where he committed his first murther.
1 The Ms is ambiguously ‘Cawm’ and ‘Gawin’; P Cawm, S Cawin. Probably Cawin is intended, from Arabic kahin, a diviner, soothsayer—not ‘Preist’, as Banks has it—taken over into Malay.
But what is much more difficult to reconcile to the rules of human reason, is the beleif which these people have that women who bring forth children sometimes bring forth at the same time young Crocodiles, as twins to the Children; these creatures are receivd by the midwives most carefully and immediately carried down to the river, where they are turnd lose, but have victuals supplyd them constantly from the family, especialy the twin, who is necessitated to go down to the river every now and then and give meat to this Sudara1 as it is calld, who if he is deprivd of such attendance constantly aff[l]icts his relation with sickness. The existence of an opinion so contradictory to human reason, and which seemd totaly unconnected with religion, was with me long a subject of doubt, but the universal testimony of every Indian I ever heard speak of it was not to be withstood. It seems to have taken its rise in the Island of Celebes and Bouton, very many of the inhabitants of which have crocodiles in their families; from thence it has spread itself all over the Eastern Islands, even to Timor and Ceram, and west again as far as Java and Sumatra, on which Islands however such instances are very scarce among the natives. To shew how firmly this prejudice has layd hold of the minds of these ignorant people, I shall repeat one story out of the multitude I have heard confirming it from ocular demonstration.
1 Saudara, brother, or more vaguely, relative. This belief is not confined to crocodiles, and Mr T. R. Smith tells me of a recent report from East Borneo of a snake saudara.
2 Raja puteh.
The Bougis, Macassars and Boetons,2 many of whoom have such relations left behind in their own countrey, make a kind of Ceremonial feast in memory of their relations. A large party of them go in a boat furnish'd with plenty of provisions of all kinds and musick; in this they row about in places where crocodiles or allegators are most common, singing and crying by turns, each invoking their relation; in this manner they go on till they are fortunate enough to see or fancy at least that they see one, when at once their musick stops and they throw overboard Provisions, Betele, Tobacco &c., imagining I suppose that their civility to the species will induce their kindred at home to think well of them, tho unable to pay their proper offerings.
Next come the Chinese, who in this place are very numerous but seem to be people of small substance. Many of them live within the walls and keep shops, some few of which are furnishd with a pretty rich shew of European as well as Chinese goods; but far the greatest number live in a Quarter by themselves without the walls calld Campon3 China. Besides these there are others scatterd every where about the Countrey, where they cultivate gardens, sow rice and sugar, or keep Cattle and buffaloes whose milk they bring daily to town.
1 Saudara orang, ‘brothers of men’.
2 Cf. p. 220, n. 4 above. The Boetons were a Mahometan people inhabiting the island of Boeton off the end of the south-east peninsula of Celebes. They spoke a language of their own.
3 Malay kampong, village.
There is nothing be it of what nature it will, clean or dirty, honest or dishonest (provided there is not too much danger of a halter) which a Chinese will not readily do for money; they work diligently and laboriously, and loth to lose sight of their main point, money getting. No sooner do they leave of work than they begin to game, either at Cards, dice or some one of the thousand games they have which are unknown to us in Europe; in this manner they spend their lives working and gaming, scarce allowing themselves time for the necessary refreshments of food and sleep; in short it is as extrordinary a sight to see a China man Idle, as it is to see a Dutchman or Indian at work.
In manners they are always civil or rather obsequious, in dress always neat and clean in a high degree, from the highest to the lowest. To atempt to describe either their dresses or persons would be only to repeat some of the many accounts of them that have been publish'd, as every one has been wrote by people who had much better opportunities of seeing them and more time to examine them than I have had. Indeed a man need go no farther to study them than the China paper,1 the better sort of which represents their persons and such of their Customs, dresses &c. as I have seen most strikingly like, tho a little in the Caracatura stile; indeed some of the Plants which are common to China and Java, as Bamboe, are better figurd there than in the best botanical authors that I have seen.
1 Banks seems to mean by this the wall-paper imported from China, much admired in England at this period, and part of the current Chinese craze in interior decoration.
2 Later altered to Aeschinomene speciosa and so entered in Solander's Ms Insulae Oc. Pac., p. 291. Britten identifies this entry as Sesbania coccinea Poir.
In their Buryings the Chinese have an extrordinary superstition, which is that they will never more open the ground in the place where a man has been buried, by which means it happens that their burying grounds in the neigbourhood of Batavia cover many hundred acres; on which account the Dutch, grudging the quantity of ground laid waste by this method, will not sell them ground for it but at enormous prizes, notwithstanding which they will always raise money to purchase Grounds whenever they can find the Duch in a Humour to sell it, and actualy had while we were there a great deal of land intended for that purpose but not yet began upon. Their funerals are attended with much purchasd and some real lamentations, the relations of the deceasd attending as well as women hird to weep. The Corps is Naild up in a large thick wooden Coffin, not made of Plank but hollowd out of the trunk of a tree; this is let down into the Grave and then surrounded 8 or 10 inches thick with their mortar or chinam4 as it is calld, which in a short time becomes hard as stone, so that the bones of the meanest among them are more carefully preserv'd from Injury than those of our greatest and most respected people.
Of the Goverment here I can say but very little, only that an uncommonly great subordination is kept up, every man who is able to keep house having a certain rank acquird by the lengh of his services to the Company, which ranks are distinguishd by the ornaments of the Coaches and dresses of the Coachmen of such as have them: as for instance, one must ride in a plain Coach, another Paints his Coach with figures and gives his Coachman a lacd hat, another gilds his Coach &c.
1 Calamus ornatus Bl.
2 Blite, a general name for spinach. Amaranthus spinosus and A. oleraceus were entered in the Banks and Solander Ms Catalogue, p. 9.
3 Taraté, Nelumbium nelumbo Druce.
4 A variant of chunam, a word with a Sanskrit derivation, for a cement or plaster made of shell lime and sea sand. It was largely used as a building material in India.
Justice is administerd here by a parcel of gentlemen of the law, who have ranks and dignities among themselves as in Europe. In civil matters I know nothing of their proceedings, but in criminal they are rather severe to the natives, and too Lenient to their countreymen, who whatever crime they have committed are always allowd to escape if they chuse it, and if brought to tryal very rarely punishd with death; while on the other hand, the Poor Indians are floggd, hangd, Broke upon the wheel, and even impald without mercy. While we were there 3 remarkable Crimes were committed by Christians. 2 duelists killd each his antagonist and both fled; one took refuge on board our ship, bringing with him so good a character from the Batavians that the Captian gave him protection, nor was he ever demanded; the other I suppose went on board some other as he was never taken. The other was a Portugese, who by means of a false key had robbd an office to which he belongd of 14 or 15 hundred pounds; he however was taken, but instead of death Condemnd to a publick whipping and banishment to Banda1 for 99 years.
1 A small group of islands in the Banda Sea about 65 miles south-west of the southeastern extremity of Ceram. Groot Banda, the largest, is in approximately lat. 4° 30′ S, long. 130° E.
The taxes paid by these people to the Company are very considerable, among which that commonly said to be paid for the liberty of wearing their hair is not inconsiderable; it is however no other than a kind of head money or Poll tax, for no Chinese can wear his hair who has ever been in China, it being a principle of their religion never to let their hair grow again when once it has been shavd off. These taxes are paid monthly, when a flag is hoisted at a house in the middle of the town appointed for that purpose.
The money current here is Ducats worth 118/- sterling, Ducatoons 6/8, Imperial Rixdollars 5/, Rupees 2/6, scellings /6, Dubblecheys /2½, and doits 1/4. Spanish dollars were when we were there at 5/5 and we were told were never lower than 5/4 even at the Companies warehouse. For English guineas I could get no more than 19/, for tho the China men would give 20/ for some of the Brightest they would for those at all worn give no more than 17/. Strangers must however be cautious in receiving money, as there are of several kinds two sorts, milld and unmilld. Ducatoons for example when milld are worth 6/8, unmilld only 6/-. All accounts are kept in Rixdollars and Stivers, both imaginary Coins, at least here: the first worth 4/ the other /1. It must also be remar[k]d that this valuation of their coin is rated on the supposition of a Stiver being worth a penny which is realy worth more, a current Rixdollar of 48 stivers being worth 4/6.
a Durio zibethinus Murr.