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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 76

My First Appointment as an Officer

My First Appointment as an Officer

was to a barque going on a voyage to Sumatra, and thence across the Indian Ocean to Pondicherry, a pleasant little French settlement on the Coromandel Coast of India. The vessel was chartered by a French gentleman, who kindly helped me to make some use of the knowledge of his language which I acquired when at school. Pondicherry is nearly all that now remains to France of her former extensive possessions in Hindostan, and it is a well-ordered and inexpensive place to live at, but, like most of the French possessions abroad, is of very little practical advantage to the mother country. On our return to Batavia I had a very severe attack of malarial fever, which nearly proved fatal to me, as it has done to thousands of Europeans in that part of the world; but I was well cared for at Mr Wilson's house, and, under Providence, was brought through by the skill of a Scottish doctor residing at Batavia. During my illness my brother John arrived from China, but Patrick had gone to Europe, and I did not see him until long page 20 afterwards. For some years I continued to be employed as an officer, and later on as commander of vessels on voyages from Batavia to other ports of Java, to Singapore, and to more distant parts of the wide Eastern Archipelago, and enjoyed the society of kind friends at almost every place which I had to visit, at the same time taking advantage of every opportunity I had for seeing as much as possible of the interior of those beautiful islands and their inhabitants. Of all the numerous and extensive possessions of Holland in the East,