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Title: Voyages of the Dutch brig of war Dourga

through the southern and little-known parts of the Moluccan Archipelago, and along the previously unknown southern coast of New Guinea, performed during the years 1825 & 1826

Author: D. H. Kolff

Translator: George Windsor Earl

Release date: March 31, 2024 [eBook #73305]

Language: English

Original publication: London: James Madden & Co, 1840

Credits: Peter Becker, Graeme Mackreth and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)



George Windsor Earl.














DURING THE YEARS 1825 & 1826.


D.H. KOLFF, Jun.











A plain preface will be best adapted for a simple narrative of events that occurred and observations made during Voyages through important countries, with a portion of which we were previously unacquainted, while the remainder have been but rarely visited. I was repeatedly requested by relatives and friends, both in India and in the Mother Country, to communicate these to the Public, as being information that would be deemed useful and important, not only by Government and Naval officers, but by every inquiring Netherlander. This encouragement induced me, who, being a seaman, cannot aspire to literary renown, to employ my leisure hours in compiling the following unadorned narrative of my voyages through the Southern parts of the Archipelago of the Moluccas, and along the South-west coast of New Guinea.

If the hopes I have cherished as to the importance of the information here given be not without ground, I trust that I shall not demand in vain the indulgence of my honoured Readers, which I am sure will be readily granted when it is taken into consideration, that the continued fatigues I endured, not only while engaged in performing the voyages here described, but also while employed in the expedition against Celebes in 1824, have undermined and broken my constitution. The confidence with which the Government honoured me by entrusting to me the execution of these voyages of examination, was certainly a spur which incited me to overcome all difficulties, and to make myself as useful as possible to my country.

With the assistance of my officers and of intelligent natives, I was fortunately enabled to collect accurate details concerning numerous islands and coasts, which I subsequently laid down in a chart, and forwarded it to the Government, a correct copy of which, on a smaller scale, I offer to my reader, as an illustration to the narrative.

If I have succeeded in effecting the object for which this volume is offered to the Public, I shall consider the time and trouble bestowed upon its compilation as being richly rewarded.

D.H. KOLFF, Jun.

November, 1838.


The numerous islands lying between the Moluccas and the northern coasts of Australia, have hitherto been very little known to the world; indeed, we cannot discover that any account of them has yet been made public, with the exception of some observations in Valentyn's "Oude en Nieuw Oost Indien," a work published in Holland more than a century ago:—we are, therefore, induced to offer a few particulars concerning their early history, as an introduction to M. Kolff's narrative.

We cannot discover that these islands were ever visited by Europeans previous to 1636, in which year Pieter Pieterson, a Dutch navigator, touched at the Arru Islands during his voyage to examine the northern coasts of Australia, which had been discovered thirty years previously by a small Dutch vessel, called the Duyfken. Six years subsequently the Arru group was again visited by F. Corsten, when several of the native chiefs were induced to acknowledge the supremacy of the Dutch East India Company, binding themselves to trade with no other Europeans, and investing them with the monopoly of the pearl banks, the produce of which the Dutch conveyed to Japan, and there found a ready market and a lucrative return. Transactions, with similar views, subsequently took place at the adjacent islands, on which small bodies of troops were placed, to whose control the simple natives willingly submitted, and viewed with indifference the destruction of the spice trees, which were vigorously sought for and up-rooted by the new comers.

As it was the object of the Dutch to restrict the trade in spices within narrow limits, in order to enhance the value of this commodity, of which they enjoyed the monopoly, the East India Company did not permit even their own countrymen to carry on a commercial intercourse with these islands; indeed, the only advantages the Company derived from their possession, consisted in their affording slaves to cultivate the clove and nutmeg plantations of Banda and Amboyna, the only settlements in which they allowed spices to be grown. Notwithstanding these restrictions, an extensive contraband trade was carried on with the islands; for the Europeans who were, from time to time, encouraged by the Company to settle in the Moluccas as planters, although receiving bounties in the shape of free grants of land, with advances of slaves and provisions on credit and at original cost, under the sole condition that they should supply the Company with the produce at a fixed price, soon abandoned their plantations, and embarked in the more exciting and lucrative trade with the islands to the southward, sending confidential slaves in charge of their prahus.[1] It is[Pg a010] recorded, that many individuals collected enormous fortunes by this traffic, which, indeed, was nearly all profit, as the goods sent there were of very small value. The trepang fishery, now the principal source of wealth to these islands, then scarcely existed, and the return cargoes of the prahus consisted chiefly of less bulky articles, such as amber, pearls, tortoise-shell and birds-of-paradise.

Towards the close of the last century, when the rigorous monopoly of the Dutch had induced other natives to produce spices, which were cultivated with success by the French in the Isle of Bourbon, and by the English on the west coast of Sumatra, the Moluccas began to decline in importance, and with a view to reduce government expenditure, the Dutch withdrew their military establishments from the islands to the southward. The Bughis, an enterprising people from the southern part of the island of Celebes, and Chinese merchants from Java and Macassar, immediately engrossed the trade with the islands:—the wars which broke out in Europe about this time affording them great encouragement, since the Dutch, sufficiently occupied in maintaining their more important possession, could offer little interruption. The British, during their short occupation of the Moluccas, were so exclusively occupied by the immediate affairs of newly-acquired settlements, that the countries beyond their limits were, in a great measure, neglected; indeed, the inhabitants of some of the more remote islands were not aware that the Moluccas had changed masters; the Dutch flags left among them many years previously, being still hoisted on festive occasions.

When Java and its dependencies were restored to Dutch dominion after the peace of 1814, their East India Company had ceased to exist; the Government, however, continued to monopolize the traffic with the Moluccas. The Chinese merchants of Java and Macassar had, by this time, embarked largely in the trade with the Arru and Serwatty Islands; several brigs and large prahus, manned with Javanese, but having Chinese supercargoes, annually resorting to them from Sourabaya, and the other commercial ports to the westward.

Christianity, the seeds of which had been sown by the Dutch during their occupation of the islands, also began to spread among the inhabitants, and the native Amboynese teachers, who established themselves in some of the chief villages, were encouraged rather than molested by the Bughis and Chinese traders, these perceiving that their interests would be promoted by any advance the natives might make in civilization. The Bughis, unlike the Malayan and Ceramese Mohammedans, care little about making proselytes; neither do the Chinese feel much inclination to obtain converts to their half atheistical creed, which they themselves seem disposed to ridicule.

The founding of Singapore by Sir Stamford Raffles, in the year 1819, forms an important era in the history of the Indian Archipelago. The liberality of the institutions adopted there gave an impulse to commerce and civilization throughout the Eastern Seas, and even the most distant and barbarous tribes have not been excluded from participation in the general improvement. Among the first to avail themselves of this new state of affairs, were the enterprising Bughis tribes of Celebes, who flocked to Singapore by thousands, delighted at the favourable opportunity offered them for disposing of their produce to Europeans and Chinese merchants, without being subjected to extortionate imposts, or the annoyances of custom-house officers, which had hitherto checked their enterprize.

The islands in the eastern part of the Archipelago were, however, too distant from this emporium for the natives to partake of the benefits it offered, in an equal degree with those of the countries more adjacent. The greater portion of the produce afforded by the Arru and neighbouring islands, was collected and brought by the Bughis to Celebes, where it was re-shipped for Singapore; at least twelve months being required to send the goods to market and receive the returns.

It was chiefly to establish an intercourse with the natives of these parts, by presenting to them a more convenient mart for their produce, that a British settlement was formed on Melville Island, near the coast of Australia, in 1824, by Captain, now, Sir J.J. Gordon Bremer, and if this, and the settlement subsequently formed at Raffles Bay, proved unsuccessful, it is more to be attributed to our want of information concerning these islands than to any other cause. Two small vessels successively were sent among them by the authorities of Melville Island, neither of which returned. It will be seen by M. Kolff's narrative, that, unhappily, both these vessels directed their course to parts previously unvisited by foreigners, and that the natives, unable to resist the temptation of acquiring more valuable property than they had ever before contemplated, attacked and plundered them, killing the greater portion of their crews. Had they visited the parts of these islands which were frequented by the traders, they might have done so with comparative safety, as the natives there would have been too well aware of the value of commerce to risk the danger of putting a stop to it by an action likely to draw upon them the vengeance of a powerful people.

From M. Kolff's voyage having been undertaken so soon after our occupation of Melville Island, there is some reason to believe, that the formation of that settlement had considerable influence in inducing the Dutch Government suddenly to take a deep interest in the islands adjacent to it, which had been almost totally neglected for half a century previously. Whether this voyage was beneficial or otherwise to the British interest in that quarter the reader will be able to judge from the work itself, but, at all events, we have to thank M. Kolff for information which cannot but be valuable, now that we are about to found another settlement in that part of the world; H.M. ships Alligator and Britomart, again under the command of Sir Gordon Bremer, being on their voyage to the northern coast of Australia for the purpose. The arrangement of the work for publication has afforded the Translator occupation and amusement during a long voyage, and he trusts it may be the means of conveying useful information concerning a simple and industrious people, occupying a number of richly productive islands, in the immediate vicinity of a continent which may be considered a vast British colony, and with whom his countrymen may open an intercourse likely to prove advantageous to both parties.

H.M. Ship Alligator,


[1] Si quelque habitans de Banda avaient acquis des richesses, ils ne les avaient nullement à l'industrie agricole, mais à la contrabande et au commerce avec les îles d'Arauw (Arru), ou ils envoyaeint des embarcations dirigées par les esclaves qu'on leur avait procurés pour l'entretien des pares (spice plantations). Quelques individus ont fait de cette manière une immense fortune.—Count de Hogendorp's "Coup-d'œil sur l'Isle de Java," p. 333.


Outward Voyage.—Tristan D'Acunha.—English Settlement.—Expedition in the Molucca Seas.—Voyage to Palembang and Banka.—Fidelity of Javanese Seamen.—Expedition to Macassar.—Particulars concerning the Macassar War. 1
Object of the Voyage.—Sail for Timor.—Arrive at the Portuguese Settlement of Dilli.—Poverty of the Inhabitants.—Mean Reception.—Agriculture much neglected.—Slave Trade.—Symptoms of Distrust on the Part of the Portuguese.—Discontented state of their Native Subjects.—Departure for the Island of Wetta. 29
Arrival at the Island of Wetta.—Productions.—Trade.—Interview with the natives.—Destruction of the chief village.—Depart for Kissa.—The Christian inhabitants.—The fort Vallenhoven.—Friendly reception by the natives.—Beauty of the landscape.—State of agriculture.—Attachment of the people to the Dutch government.—General assemblage of the people.—Performance of divine service.—Native hospitalities.—Order, neatness and industry of the people of Kissa. 40
Arrival at the Island of Lette.—Anchoring Place.—Series of Disasters.—Character of the Inhabitants.—The Mountaineers.—Differences among the Islanders.—Good Effects of our Mediation.—Respect entertained by the Natives towards the Dutch Government. 57
Boat Expedition to the Island of Moa.—Good Inclination of the Inhabitants.—The Block-house.—The Duif Family.—Character of the People.—Respect entertained by the Heathen towards the Christian Inhabitants.—State of Civilization and Public Instruction.—Kind Hospitality of the Natives.—Their Feelings of Attachment and Confidence towards the Dutch Government.—Departure for the Island of Roma. 70
Arrival at the Island of Damma.—Description of the Country and Inhabitants.—Warm Springs.—Retrograde Movements of the Natives in point of Civilization.—Their Attachment to the Religion and Manners of the Dutch.—Productions of the Soil.—Dangerous Channel along the Coast.—The Columba Globicera.—Wild Nutmeg Trees.—General Meeting of the Chiefs.—Transactions of M. Kam. 91
Description of the Island Lakor.—Coral Banks.—Shyness of the Inhabitants.—Productions.—Singular Expedition.—Childish Litigiousness and obstinate Implacability.—Native Hospitality.—Customs and Dress of the People. 107
Arrival at the Island Luan.—Dangerous Passage.—Our Reception by the People.—Commerce and Fisheries.—The Christians of Luan.—Their Customs and Dispositions.—Hospitality and Good Nature of the Inhabitants.—Hazardous Situation on leaving the Island. 117
Voyage towards Banda.—Remarks on the Islands Sermatta, Teon and Nila.—Arrival at Banda.—Humanity of an Orang-Kaya.—Description of the Island Baba.—Great Fear and Distrust of the Inhabitants.—Their Manners and Customs.—The Island Wetang.—Cause of the Distrust of the Natives.—Murderous and plundering Propensities of the People of Aluta.—Disturbances between the Inhabitants of Tepan and Aluta. 129
Daai Island.—Singular Change in the Colour of the Sea.—Festivities on Board.—The Arru Islands.—Description of these remarkable Regions.—Customs of the Arafuras.—Total Absence of Religion.—Proofs of the Mildness of their Form of Government.—Singular Treatment of their Dead. 149
Trade of the Arru Islands.—Chief Productions.—Trepang.—The Island Vorkay.—The Pearl Fishery.—The Arafuras of Kobroor and Kobiwatu.—Duryella, the capital of Wama.—The Schoolmaster.—Homage paid by the Natives to M. Kam. 171
Gathering of the People at Wokan.—Religious Exercises of the People.—Their singular Mode of Dress.—The Church.—The Fort.—State of Christianity on Wokan.—Dobbo, an important Trading Place.—Commercial Advantages that may be gained there.—Valuable Fishery.—The Pilandok.—Ludicrous alarm of the Arafuras. 187
Arrival at the Island Wadia.—Particulars concerning the Island and its Inhabitants.—Dispute between them and the Orang Tua of Fannabel.—Sad Result of their Contentions.—Departure from the Arru Islands.—Arrival at the Tenimber Group.—Vordate.—Ignorance and Perplexity of the Pilot.—Singular Customs.—Violent Conduct of the People of Timor-Laut.—The Inhabitants of Watidal and their Chiefs. 206
Visit to Watidal.—Respect shown to the Dutch Flag.—The English supposed by the Natives to be Orang-gunung, or Mountaineers.—The Prosperity of the People inseparable from the Rule of the Dutch over these Countries.—Traces of the Christian Religion having formerly obtained here.—Departure from Larrat to Vordate.—Allurements of the latter Island.—The Inhabitants of the Tenimber Islands.—Their Manners and Customs.—Mode of Warfare.—Striking Proofs of their Attachment to the Dutch Government. 232
The Village Chiefs of Sebeano.—Ludicrous Mistake.—War between Romian and Ewena.—The insignificant Cause which gave rise to it.—Successful Attempts at Reconciliation.—Contribution towards giving a Knowledge of their Character.—State of the Country.—Productions and Commerce.—The Author visits Larrat.—Uncivil Reception at Kalioba.—Departure for Watidal.—Meeting on the North-west Point of Timor Laut.—Departure for Serra. 249
Departure for the Island Maling.—Laboba Island.—Productive Fishery.—Heavy Dew on the Island Wau.—Arrival at the Village of Maktia.—Occurrences there.—One of the Crew severely wounded.—Return towards Vordate.—Return of the Envoys to Serra.—Want of Water.—Poisonous Beans.—Death of the wounded Man.—Return to the Brig.—Arrival of the Chiefs of Serra.—Transactions at Vordate.—Departure from the Tenimber Islands.—Arrival at Amboyna. 268
Preparations for a Voyage to New Guinea.—Departure from Amboyna.—Banda.—Arrival at Kilwari.—Ghissa.—Character of the Inhabitants.—Visit from the Chiefs of Kilwari and Keffing.—Their Wars.—Force of the Islanders.—The Ceram Laut Islands.—Their Vessels.—Commerce.—Exclusive Right assumed by the Inhabitants over the Coast of New Guinea.—Smuggling Trade of the English.—Papuan Pirates devour their Prisoners.—Slaves.—Sale of Children by their Parents. 284
The Keffing Islands.—Dwellings of the Chiefs.—Pass the Goram Islands.—Description of the same.—Acquaintance of the Natives with the Coast of New Guinea.—The Products of these Islands of vital Importance to Banda.—Small Portion of the Trade enjoyed by our Settlements.—Coin.—Costume of the Inhabitants.—Equipment of Paduakan.—Snake-Eaters.—The Fishery.—Arrival of the Brig at Wadia.—Number of trading Prahus at Dobbo.—Adjustment of Disputes.—Christian Teachers on the Arru Islands.—Their Poverty.—Visit Wokan.—Appointment of an Upper Orang Kaya, and other Transactions on the Arru Islands. 302
Voyage towards the St. Bartholomeus River.—Encounter a Multitude of Whales.—Discover a Sand-bank.—Nautical Remarks.—Difficulty in approaching the Land.—Sharks.—Crocodiles.—Discover a River.—The Author ascends it.—Remarkable Behaviour of the Natives.—Their Wild State.—Unable to land.—Arrival at an uninhabited Bay on the Island of Lakahia.—Visit from some of the Chiefs. 317
Armed Boats sent on Shore.—Treacherous Attack of the Natives.—A Soldier killed.—Cowardly Conduct of the Officers in Charge of the Watering-Party.—The Author personally visits the Bay.—Causes of the Barbarism of the Natives of New Guinea.—Faithless and arbitrary Conduct of the Ceramese.—Profitable Nature of the Trade.—Departure from New Guinea. 332
The Ki Islands.—Character of the People.—Arrive at Vordate.—Improved Condition of the Natives.—Ceramese Pirates.—The English Captives at Luora.—The Author departs for Serra in the Boats.—Meet with a Prahu-tope.—Honesty of the Natives in their Dealings.—Arrival at Serra.—Native Warfare.—Ceremonies attending the Peace-making.—Return towards Vordate.—Turtles and their Eggs.—Wild Cattle.—Arrival on Board the Brig.—Singular Customs with regard to Trade.—Demand for Gold Coin.—Departure from the Tenimber Islands.—Arrival at Amboyna.—Approval of our Proceedings by the Government.—Conclusion. 344



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&c. &c.



Outward Voyage.—Tristan D'Acunha.—English Settlement.—Expedition in the Molucca Seas.—Voyage to Palembang and Banka.—Fidelity of Javanese Seamen.—Expedition to Macassar.—Particulars concerning the Macassar War.

As an introduction to the narrative, I will communicate to the reader a short account of my outward voyage to India, and of the various expeditions in which I was engaged previous to undertaking the voyage to the eastern parts of the Indian Archipelago, which forms the subject of this volume.

[Pg 2]

In January 1817, I was appointed by the Minister of Marine to the corvette Venus, Commander B.W.A. Van Schuler, then lying in the Niewe Diep, ready for sea on a voyage to Batavia. On the 28th of the same month we sailed, under a salute of the guns, and having sent away the pilot with parting letters to our friends, we stood out to sea, the shores of our beloved country soon fading from view.

Remarkable events seldom occurring during the outward voyage, a few words will suffice to give an account of our proceedings. In the month of April we arrived off Tristan D'Acunha, and having espied a number of huts on the shores of a bay on the north side of the island, we stood towards them, and anchored in twenty-five fathoms, tolerably close to the land. When viewed from a distance the island has the appearance of a single high mountain, the sides rising abruptly out of the sea. The bay in which we anchored lies open to the sea, and therefore can afford no shelter to vessels. Its shores were steep and lined with alternate patches of sand and rock, against which the sea beat with great violence. The snow-white foam of the surf, glittering in the sun-beams, contrasted strikingly with the soft green of the uplands; the charming prospect this afforded[Pg 3] being embellished by a beautiful waterfall tumbling into the sea from the hills above.

The English establishment, which had been fixed here a short time previous to our visit, consisted of seventy-four men, with their wives, under the command of Major Kloete, the settlement being a dependance of the Cape of Good Hope. It had already made great progress, agriculture being carefully attended to; and among other vegetables we were delighted to find an abundance of excellent potatoes. The industrious and orderly habits of these settlers, coupled with their civility towards strangers, of which we had evidence in the friendly reception we met with, entitled them to every praise. This settlement, however, now no longer exists.

After our departure from Tristan D'Acunha we encountered a severe gale, in which we lost two topmasts, the foremast and bowsprit. Lieutenant Vendoren with seven seamen also fell overboard, and the former only was saved. On the 29th of June we arrived at Batavia, and after a short stay there, departed for the populous town of Sourabaya to refit our damaged vessel.

The first expedition in which we were engaged was directed against Ceram and Sapanua, where some serious disturbances had taken place. On[Pg 4] the 22nd of February 1818 we obtained a decided victory over the Sultan Muda of Batjoli in the Moluccas, for which I believe, our commander, M. Van Schuler, was made Knight of the third class of the Military Order of William.

During the whole of the year 1818, we were employed in cruizing among the Molucca Islands, for the prevention of piracy and the contraband trade, especially the illegal sale of gunpowder to the natives in a state of insurrection. The pirates sometimes behave with great boldness, deriving confidence from the rapidity with which their light vessels can escape into the numerous creeks; the oars which they use when the wind is contrary giving them great advantages in point of swiftness over our cruizers. A couple of steam-boats, which would be able to follow them into their lurking places, would be very efficacious in ridding us of these plagues.

On the 12th of January 1819, the then Governor of the Moluccas, General De Kock, with his family, embarked on board the Venus for the purpose of being conveyed to Java. We sailed on the following day, and did not reach Batavia until the 4th of May following. During this tedious passage, a beautiful collection of the birds of the Moluccas,[Pg 5] the property of the General, died from want of food. Salt meat and biscuit formed our sole diet during the greater part of the voyage, and it is surprising that with such provisions, we did not have considerable sickness on board.

We now proceeded to Sourabaya, being accompanied by Captain Stout, of the Colonial Marine, with several light vessels. When off the Taggal Mountain we encountered some piratical vessels, and having been several times employed with native seamen, speaking their language with tolerable fluency, I was placed in charge of a Korra-korra, and sent in chase. Captain Stout met with a sad accident on this occasion. A gun that had been fired by the Captain himself, perhaps from its being overloaded, recoiled so much that it burst through the bulwarks on the opposite side of the vessel and fell overboard, striking the Captain violently on the breast during its passage, and causing the almost immediate death of this brave seaman.

In the latter part of the year 1819, the Venus was placed in readiness to return to the mother country. Our joyful expectations, however, were soon disappointed, for the disturbances which had broken out at Palembang, rendered it necessary that the corvette should proceed there, to be in[Pg 6] readiness to act against the Sultan Mohammed Badr-el-Din; and on the 4th of December we arrived in the roads of Minto, on the island of Banka, to await the time when our services would be required.

All prospects of a speedy return home were thus destroyed, but I consoled myself with the consideration that duty required the sacrifice, and that I could serve my country in these remote regions as well as in the Netherlands. Our foreign possessions, indeed, though far distant, are still provinces of the fatherland.

Actuated by these considerations, I willingly accepted the offer made to our junior officers to enter the Colonial Navy, and receive the command of a gun-boat armed with an 18-pounder, two 8-pounders, some swivels, and manned with thirty men, chiefly Javanese, the same rank being given me with that I held in the Royal Navy. I was now sent to the east coast of Banka, for the purpose of keeping the pirates in check, and of keeping open the communication with the tin mines. At first I was accompanied by the schooner Zeemeeuw, Lieutenant Alewyn, but this vessel was soon ordered on another station, and I remained here eight months, in daily contact with the pirates, without the assistance of[Pg 7] other Europeans; this period forming by no means the most agreeable portion of my stay in India. I had often serious engagements with the famed Radin Allin, who, however, never was courageous enough to board the gun-boat. Had he done so, our only resource would have been to blow up our vessel, to prevent her falling into the hands of the pirates, as the great superiority of their force would have rendered it impossible to withstand them. This Radin Allin displayed great intrepidity on several occasions. Once, while I was conveying some vessels to Kaba, he took advantage of my absence to attack and carry the fort of Batu-Rusa, on the Marawang river. On my return I found him still in the river with a large number of prahus, where I blockaded him until the month of September 1820, when I at length received assistance from Minto, at a period when such relief had become of the greatest necessity, as I had often thought that my last hour had arrived. Of my crew, only a few natives remained, the others having either been killed or sent to the hospital.

During these hazardous expeditions I had frequent opportunities of witnessing the fidelity of the Javanese seamen in the hour of danger. Their behaviour and disposition prepossessed me very[Pg 8] much in favour of the nation to which they belonged, and during my subsequent voyaging in India, where I considerably increased my acquaintance with them, I never had occasion to alter the favourable opinion I had formed. When a Javanese is treated with consideration, and is not subjected to tyrannical treatment, he is as much to be trusted as an European, and submits far more readily to control.

The force which came to my relief consisted of several vessels under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Keer, destined to act against the chiefs of the rebels, Radin Allin and Radin Kling, and I now obtained permission to return to Minto. In the beginning of 1821, I departed thence for Sourabaya, with the view of having the gun-boat repaired, as it was ordered to take part in the expedition which during that year re-established our authority at Palembang. The particulars of that renowned expedition being still fresh in the memory of my readers, I will give no circumstantial account of our proceedings, but I will relate a few occurrences in which I was personally engaged. After the first attack, when our fleet had retired to its former position, it was my good fortune to rescue Lieutenant Boerhave and his[Pg 9] men, together with the crew of another gun-boat, both of which had fallen into the hands of the enemy; and on the following 24th of June, during the second assault, the gun-boat under my command opened the way through the strong barricade erected across the river to the attack of the great floating battery, on which I was the first to plant the Netherlands flag. As a token of particular approbation on the part of the Government for this deed, three of my small crew received the decoration of the military order of William.

After the termination of this renowned expedition, which ended in the entire conquest of the kingdom of Palembang, I received orders to accompany General De Kock to Batavia. In the month of August I was appointed to the schooner Calypso, which circumstance I only mention for the purpose of rendering a just tribute to the meritorious character of Lieutenant Sondervan her commander. In this vessel I passed the entire year 1822, making several voyages in her, circumnavigating Java, and visiting the mines of Sambas and Pontiana, in Borneo. M. Tobias, the commissioner for our establishments in Borneo, was on board the schooner the greater portion of the time. The agreeable society of this gentleman, coupled with[Pg 10] the unbroken harmony that prevailed among us, rendered these voyages extremely pleasant, notwithstanding the hardships and fatigues we underwent. We made several journeys into the interior of Borneo, and inspected the mines of the Chinese, which are here very numerous. I will not particularise the voyages I subsequently undertook to Banka, Sumatra, and many other of our possessions, which I performed with pleasure, as they gave me many opportunities of gathering information concerning these countries and their native inhabitants.

Having thus passed a considerable time in India, without experiencing the lassitude of which Europeans in that part of the world so generally complain, I was appointed adjutant to my former chief, Captain Van Schuler, who had now become Commandant and Director of the Colonial Marine. Although I was much pleased by the honourable notice with which my brave chief favoured me, I soon became tired of an idle life at Batavia. I had been so long accustomed to the navigation of these seas, that I could not refrain from soliciting the Governor General, Van Der Capellen, to place me again in active service.

While performing a journey overland from Batavia to Sourabaya in company with Captain Van[Pg 11] Schuler, I took the opportunity of visiting Bantjar, in the district of Rembang, where I saw the beautiful frigate Javaan, with several brigs and schooners, then in the course of construction for the Colonial Navy.[2] The command of one of these was promised to me on this occasion. I will pass over the description of this part of Java, as being unconnected with the object of the work. We met with few occurrences worthy of remark, for I do not consider our adventure in crossing the Sumadang Mountains, where our carriage was overturned, of sufficient importance to detain me in my narrative.

On my return to Batavia I was promoted to a Lieutenancy of the first class in the Colonial Marine, and at my urgent request was suffered to throw up my appointment as Adjutant, when I was invested with the command of H.M. Brig Dourga,[Pg 12][3] with orders to ship a crew, and fit her out in readiness to accompany the Governor General on his expedition to the Moluccas in 1824. So recently promoted, invested with a new command, and about to become a fellow-voyager with his Excellency, it will readily be conceived that my zeal was of the strongest, and that I exerted myself to the utmost to show myself worthy of the favours that had been conferred upon me.

After remaining a considerable time at Amboyna, a settlement distinguished by the courtesy and hospitality of its European inhabitants, we sailed for Banda in the train of the Governor General, (who was embarked in the frigate Eurydice), where we arrived on the 18th of April. The Gunung Api volcano was in a state of violent action at the time, filling the atmosphere with fire and smoke, the volumes of the latter being ejected with such force, that their collision caused constant vivid flashes of lightning, accompanied by a rumbling noise like that of thunder. This outbreak of nature was indescribably fine and majestic, and is memorable for having formed a new crater in the north-west side of the mountain. The town of Banda, remained, however, uninjured.

From Banda we sailed for Sapanua, an island[Pg 13] well known from the war which took place there in 1817, and I subsequently proceeded to Menado and Macassar, where I took part in the expedition called forth by the war that had broken out in Celebes.

The mode of warfare which obtains among the Macassars, differs considerably from that adopted by the other natives of the Archipelago, than whom they are more wealthy and better armed, while at the same time they take the lead in cleverness and ferocity. When under their own chiefs, they are not remarkable for shewing that courage which is commonly ascribed to them, especially to the Bughis, this being displayed rather upon the sea than on land. They will rarely stand firm against the attacks of regular troops in the field, but fight well from ambuscades or from behind entrenchments. Their arms consist of very good guns, manufactured by themselves, with spears, krisses, klewangs and lelahs.[4] The chiefs and head warriors wear armour, made of plaited iron or copper wire, which they call baju-ranti or chain shirt: it will resist a thrust from the klewang or[Pg 14] kriss, but affords no protection against a musket ball.

In the southern parts of Celebes, horses of a very good description are to be met with, which the natives manage with considerable skill. A cushion stuffed with cotton, and laid upon the animal's back, forms their saddle, on which they sit cross-legged, and with this simple contrivance their seat is so firm that they take bold leaps, and scour across the country in a manner truly surprising. When a chief is killed, his relatives and slaves do not care to survive, but a case of this sort rarely takes place, as the former usually remain on spots free from danger. The Bughis will carry their slain off the field of battle at every risk, and will submit to great loss rather than fail in this object. It is difficult, however, to draw them into making an assault en masse.

We anchored off the town of Macassar on the 5th of July, 1824, the king of the northern part of the state of which this is the capital, having by this time followed the example of the Bughis of Boni in rising against our government. On the 14th of the same month we sailed for Tannette, (a town on the west coast of Celebes,) with troops and munitions of war, our vessel forming part of a flotilla consisting[Pg 15] of the brigs Sirene, Nautilus, Jacoba-Elizabeth, and Dourga, with the corvette Courier, two gun-boats, and some prahus with native auxiliaries; the naval force being under the orders of Commander Buys, while the troops were led by Lieutenant Colonel De Steurs. Having assembled before Tannette, we formed into line and cannonaded the enemy's fortification, while at the same time the troops were landed and some gained possession of the forts and villages, together with some strongholds farther up the country. The loss on our side was small, but the enemy suffered greatly in killed and wounded. After sustaining this defeat, the king retired into the interior, and refused to submit. On the 22nd, Colonel De Steurs departed with the troops towards Macassar, with the intention of chastising the treacherous inhabitants of Labakang and Pankalina, those towns lying in the route. The squadron followed their march along the coast, with the view of affording assistance should it be required. The number of reefs and banks render the navigation of the coast hazardous and difficult; but the fishermen of the islands piloted us through them with safety. During the passage our armed boats were constantly employed on the coasts, more for the purpose of checking[Pg 16] the plundering propensities displayed by our native allies from Goa, than for the annoyance of the enemy. Plunder, indeed, seemed to be the chief object of these auxiliaries, for when they were required to fight, they either remained idle or took to their heels.

On the 24th we reached Macassar, the inhabitants of the intermediate coast having speedily been brought under subjection. The expedition had been fortunate and successful in every respect, and inspired us with so much confidence that we eagerly desired to be again led against the enemy.

An expedition consisting of 200 troops, under the command of Lieutenant-colonel Reder, was now set on foot to attack the Raja of Supa, the squadron being again employed in conveying them to their destination. On the 4th of August we anchored in the bay of Supa, and as the enemy obstinately refused to negociate, no other course remained for us than to land the troops, and prepare to carry into effect the orders of our Government. It immediately became apparent that the resources of the enemy had been incorrectly reported to us, and that more difficulty would be experienced in reducing the place than we had been led to believe would have been the case.

[Pg 17]

Supa, the capital, is extended near the shore on the north-east side of the bay, and is difficult of approach from seaward. The town, which lies low, is bounded on the south side by extensive rice fields, while to the south-west, in which direction the squadron lay, it is separated from the sea by a ridge of hills.

On the morning after our arrival, the troops, with detachments of seamen from the ships, were landed in good order under cover of the guns of the squadron. Our attack upon the well-fortified town of Supa was unsuccessful, the troops being driven back to the hills, of which, however, they maintained possession; the enemy returning into the town, with the exception of a number of horsemen, who remained at the foot of the hills, and some detachments which took up positions to the southward. Towards evening some mortars and brass six-pounders were landed, and placed in battery against the town. The firing was at first attended with little loss on either side, but the war-cries of the Bughis convinced us that they were assembled in great force.

Repeated attempts were now made to set fire to the strongholds of the enemy, but they were unsuccessful, and attended with considerable loss. The[Pg 18] vessels employed in keeping up the communication with Macassar had by this time brought a number of native auxiliaries furnished by the king of Sidenreng, but these took up a position to the southward, and never emerged from their hiding places.

Information which was now received of our garrisons at Pankalina and Labakang, consisting of sixty men each, having been overpowered and massacred to a man, spread dismay and dejection among the troops, while, through the weak indulgence of our commandant, military discipline was often disregarded, and our operations consequently, were deficient in point of combination. A second general assault was not determined on until the men had been wearied by useless skirmishing. All the men that could be spared from the ships were now ordered on shore, and on this as on the previous occasion I served with them; the command of the left wing of the battery being entrusted to me, while the right was under the direction of Commander Buys.

At daylight on the 14th, after our batteries had for some time played with vigour on the town, Lieutenant-colonel Reder advanced to the attack with one hundred and fifty soldiers, one hundred seamen, and forty marines, whom the enemy allowed[Pg 19] to approach close under the wall without firing a shot. Their cavalry had in the meantime been posted out of sight on the south side of the town, and when our troops had reached the walls, and commenced a sharp combat with those within, the cavalry fell upon them in flank, penetrated right through them, and even close up to our breast-works. The confusion created by this movement was so great, that notwithstanding the efforts of the officers the flight soon became general, and the disorder communicating itself to the reserve, the enemy were enabled to cause us considerable loss. The superior courage of Europeans soon, however, restored matters to order, for the fire of case-shot from our batteries checked the career of the enemy, and our troops having by this time rallied became the assailants in their turn, and drove the Bughis back to their batteries. Our advantage over the enemy was limited to this, so that our attack was attended with much bloodshed without being successful. We had to lament the loss of two brave officers, Lieutenants Van Pelt and Bannhoff, together with nearly one-third of the men engaged, six of my own crew being killed on this fatal occasion. During the engagement our auxiliaries[Pg 20] remained in the positions they had taken up, and did not stir a foot to assist us.

On the evening after this occurrence we were joined by Mr. Tobias, the commissioner, Colonel De Steurs, and the Raja of Sidenreng, the latter bringing with him a number of native auxiliaries. The arrival of Colonel De Steurs gave great joy to our troops, this officer being universally beloved and esteemed, but of what avail was his presence now that the pith of our force had been expended in ill-directed attacks? The enemy occasionally made night attacks on our position, but were always driven back, our auxiliaries showing on these occasions more courage than usual, repeatedly pursuing their adversaries close up to their forts.

On the 22nd, the frigate Eurydice joined the squadron, when a portion of her crew, with two long eighteen-pounders and some Congreve rockets were landed; the latter, however, did not answer our expectations upon trial. Our endeavours to gain an advantage over the enemy were still unattended by success, and our leader, seeing our force daily diminished by useless skirmishes, determined on making another general attack. Every body that could be spared from the ships, natives as well as Europeans, were landed to join in[Pg 21] the assault, the attacking force now amounting to three hundred men, exclusive of the auxiliaries, who could not be brought into motion. Our batteries had made several breaches in the enemy's breast-works, but these had always been repaired during the following night.

The general attack, which took place early in the morning, was conducted with much bravery. The road to the town was studded with sharp stakes, by which many of our people suffered severely. The enemy in the meantime remained within their entrenchments, protecting themselves from our shot by sitting in holes dug in the ground; and on our advancing up to them they fought with desperation, surrounding their wives and children, and determining to die to the last man rather than surrender. Our troops were sometimes engaged hand to hand with the enemy, who opposed our bayonets and swords with their krisses and klewangs. At length Colonel De Steurs, finding that many of our men, with a captain and a first lieutenant, had fallen, determined to draw off our small body of heroes, with the intention of renewing the attack with the reserve; but this was found impracticable, as the latter, which consisted only of a small number of seamen from the frigate, had already sustained considerable loss. The[Pg 22] retreat was therefore sounded, and thus, for the fourth time, had our efforts proved unavailing. On this occasion, also, one-third of the attacking force was placed hors de combat. We were, nevertheless, convinced that had a correct report been given to the government of the force of the enemy, and had our proceedings been conducted with order and regularity, the victory must infallibly have been on our side. It is a consolation, however, to know, that although the enemy maintained their position, they experienced, in a forcible manner, the superiority of our courage; for notwithstanding the relaxation of discipline which at first prevailed, no one can deny that our men displayed much personal bravery. The expedition, although unsuccessful, had therefore the effect of inspiring the people of Supa with a dread of the Dutch arms. According to the account of trustworthy natives, their loss had been very great; indeed, their successes never gave them sufficient confidence to emerge from behind their entrenchments. We now endeavoured to reduce them by a close blockade, but in this we were also unsuccessful; and this object was not effected until six months afterwards, when General Geer appeared before the place with a force much greater than that employed on the previous occasion.

[Pg 23]

On the 6th of October, the squadron left Supa for Macassar, carrying away the troops, with the exception of one hundred men, who were left under the command of Captain Van Doornum. The brig under my command, together with a gun-boat, also remained, and we were soon joined by the corvette Courier. On the 20th, I sailed for Macassar, and two days afterwards, when off Tannette, a number of prahus were seen standing in towards the fort there, in which we had a garrison of fifty men. On perceiving the brig the prahus altered their course and stood out to sea, a proceeding which aroused my suspicion, and as the sea breeze prevented me from following them, I ran in, and brought up off the mouth of the river. A small prahu soon came alongside, bringing the information that the fort was beset on the land side by the enemy, who threatened an attack with so large a force that our small garrison could not possibly resist. The commandant wished to embark his men in the brig and desert the fort; but as I could not receive them without having received orders to that effect from the governor, I sent one of the small vessels that attended the brig to Macassar, to make known to the authorities there the hazardous position we were in. It appeared that the enemy intended to have attacked the fort both[Pg 24] by sea and land, in which case not one of the garrison would have escaped. My accidental arrival had fortunately prevented this double attack, which would not have been the case had I come a day later, or had I missed the prahus, the appearance of which caused me to anchor off the fort. I therefore thanked Providence for leading me to adopt the route which brought me near the besieged place, the garrison of which, but for this opportune visit, must have experienced the same fate with that which had already befallen those of Labakang and Pankalina. On the following day the brig Nautilus arrived to relieve us.

In the mean time the people of Boni had risen, all the tribes to the northward of Macassar being now in arms against us. The town of Macassar was often threatened by the enemy, but they never ventured an attack, being deterred by the force our ally, the king of Goa, had brought into the field, and by the reinforcements that arrived from Java. Preparations were now made for a grand expedition, the troops that had been left at Supa and Tannette being withdrawn from their uncomfortable posts to join the main force at Macassar.

On the 1st of December I sailed for Sourabaya, the brig being in want of repairs; and on the 19th[Pg 25] of January, 1825, returned to Bonthian Bay, on the south coast of Celebes. On the 10th of March, General Van Geen arrived there with the frigate Javaan, and a number of vessels large and small. The general was accompanied by the Panambahan,[5] of Samanap, on the island of Madura, who brought with him a number of native auxiliaries, paid and equipped at his own expense; the Raja of Goa also furnishing a large number of men for the expedition, who were armed by our government. The ships of war were attended by a number of transports; so that the fleet presented a very imposing appearance.

On the 16th of March the fleet sailed from Bonthian Bay, and passing through the straits of Salayer, entered the Bay of Boni, without incurring injury from the numerous coral reefs that were scattered along our route. A melancholy accident occurred soon after our departure from Bonthian. A detachment of three officers and ninety-three light infantry men, had been embarked on board a prahu, totally unfitted for a transport. Some vessels having been perceived by the people on deck, they called out[Pg 26] that some pirates had hove in sight, on which those who were below rushed up, and climbing on one side of the vessel, capsized her, only the three officers and thirty-three of the men being saved.

Our operations commenced at Sengey, where the troops were landed, and the enemy not only driven helter-skelter out of their intrenchments, but forced also to evacuate the neighbouring country. The portion of our force which marched overland having joined us, we pushed forward to Batjua, the capital of the kingdom of Boni, taking and destroying the stockades of the enemy as we advanced. Batjua consists of a chain of beautiful villages, defended by stockades erected in the water and well provided with guns. It is considered as the seat of the court of Boni, although the king resides about an hour and a half's journey in the interior. Being the chief commercial depôt of the kingdom, the trade is considerable. We found a large number of prahus here, the greater number of which had been hauled up on the beach to prevent our destroying them.

General Van Geen determined to effect a landing here, and the enemy having been drawn away from the beach by a clever ruse, the troops were put on shore without difficulty. The Boniers fled before the advance of our courageous soldiers, sustaining[Pg 27] great loss in their retreat. The town was found to have been evacuated by the enemy, although two-hundred pieces of cannon of small calibre were mounted on the walls. The troops brought to the field by the Panambahan of Samanap behaved very well in the attack. Notwithstanding their defeat, the enemy obstinately refused to enter into negotiations with us.

The armed boats of the squadron were constantly employed in landing the troops, and in attacking the batteries of the enemy. On one of these occasions we had the misfortune to lose Lieutenant Alewyn, the commander of the brig Siwa, an officer universally esteemed.

I will pass over in silence many other particulars of minor importance, connected with this expedition. As the westerly monsoon was now drawing to a close, and the number of our sick had become very great, we found it impossible to pursue the enemy into the interior. Macassar had been freed from danger, Supa had been taken, and the island of Celebes placed in a state of more tranquillity; but not a single native chief had been brought under the subjection of our government, so that the expedition had produced no other useful effect than that of affording a new proof of the total inability of the[Pg 28] natives to withstand the courage and military skill of Europeans.

On the departure of the fleet from the Bay of Boni, my brig, together with the Nautilus and the Daphne, sailed for Amboyna, touching at Buton on the way, to obtain refreshments. Every ship that had been employed had a large number of their men sick, one fifth only of the crew of my brig being fit for duty. My officers and myself also suffered much; indeed, on our arrival at Amboyna there was not a healthy man on board. This prevalence of sickness is to be attributed to the fatigues we had endured, and it should act as a warning to our government to deter them from undertaking expeditions like these except in cases of urgent necessity, or when they have very important objects in view.

I will now proceed to give an account of the more agreeable duties entrusted to my charge, which I was fortunate enough to carry into execution to the satisfaction of the government, and within a tolerably short period of time.


[2] The yard in which these vessels were built, was subsequently burned by the rebels; Mr. Waller, the shipwright, losing all the property he had collected by his diligence.

[3] This name, unfamiliar to European ears, is derived from a fable of the Bramins, whose religion once obtained in Java. Dourga was the consort of the god Siva, in fact the Juno of the Jupiter of the Hindoos. Many images of this deity are to be met with among the ruins of the temples scattered over the island.

[4] The kriss is a short dagger of a serpentine form; the klewang, a sort of hanger or short sword; and the lelah, a cannon of small calibre, usually composed of brass.

[5] Panambahan is a Javanese title, the possessor of which takes precedence of a Pangeran or Prince, but ranks below a Raja or Sultan.

[Pg 29]



Object of the Voyage.—Sail for Timor.—Arrive at the Portuguese Settlement of Dilli.—Poverty of the Inhabitants.—Mean Reception.—Agriculture much neglected.—Slave Trade.—Symptoms of Distrust on the Part of the Portuguese.—Discontented state of their Native Subjects.—Departure for the Island of Wetta.

I was permitted by the Government to remain a considerable time at Amboyna, as the greater part of the brig's crew were forced to enter the hospital, while the vessel herself was in want of considerable repair. The fine climate of this agreeable island, coupled with the attendance of a skilful physician (M. Zengacker), soon restored my brave crew to their former health and vigour, and the fresh air of Batu Gadja, the residence of the much-respected governor, M.P. Merkus, with the kind hospitality of its owner, soon caused me to forget the fatigues and hardships I had undergone. When my health was sufficiently[Pg 30] restored to permit me to resume active duties, I made preparations for a voyage to the Arru, Tenimber, and the other islands lying between Great Timor and New Guinea, the conduct of which had been entrusted to me by an order of the Government. These islands were formerly possessions of our old East India Company, who had created small forts on many of them, the better to secure to themselves the entire trade in spices. Well known events connected with the state, which undermined the monopoly of the East India Company, caused these islands to decrease in importance, until at length the communication with them ceased, and had continued so for a long series of years. During the period in which the English had possession of the Moluccas these islands were disregarded, so that their inhabitants were scarcely aware that they had changed masters, and still continued to view themselves as subjects of the Dutch, hoisting their flag on all festive occasions. It is also a well-known fact, that at our factory in Japan (thanks to the firm conduct of the chief, H. Doeff), our flag was never hauled down; while the Dutch, therefore, ceased to exist as a nation, our colours continued flying, and our authority acknowledged in several of the remote possessions acquired by the courage and enterprize[Pg 31] of our forefathers. I trust we may again be actuated by the desire, not to conquer new countries, but to maintain and increase our power in those bequeathed to us by our ancestors.

With reference to the above-mentioned islands, the fifth article of my instructions contained the following passage:—"And further, you will inquire as to what remains exist of the forts erected by the East India Company on the islands, especially on those of Arru, Tenimber, and Kessa, noting down with correctness the particulars you may obtain concerning them, subjoining your own observations on their positions, and other points." A second object of my expedition was: "to kindle and renew friendly relations with the natives, and to invite them to visit Banda for the purpose of trading, this being an object of importance to the islanders themselves, since they would there obtain the goods they might require in exchange for their produce, on more advantageous terms than from the traders who have hitherto supplied them." By my instructions I was also requested, not only to note down answers to the points of inquiry contained in them, but also to embody in a report any observations I might make on subjects of importance to the Government, that the information concerning these possessions might be as full as possible.

[Pg 32]

M. Dielwaart, a gentleman in the employ of the Government, accompanied me for the purpose of assisting in the examination; and M. Kam, a clergyman, was also attached to the expedition, his object being to promote the interests of Christianity, and to arrange all matters connected with church affairs and public instruction. An interpreter for the Malayan language, and another acquainted with the dialect spoken by the mountaineers, were furnished to me, together with a guard of seven soldiers.

On the 26th of May we sailed from Amboyna, and soon cleared the bay—this being sometimes attended with much difficulty—when we steered to the southward towards the town of Dilli, on the north-west coast of Timor. Having to contend against squalls and contrary winds, we did not reach the roads of Dilli until the 2nd of June. On arriving outside the reefs which shelter the roads, we hove-to, and were boarded by a Portuguese naval officer, who acted as harbour-master, and conducted us into the inner roads by a narrow channel to the westward of the town, which forms the only entrance. A ship may come to an anchor outside the reefs, but the water is very deep, and she would be quite unsheltered.

We found a large ship from Macao at anchor in[Pg 33] the roads, but no other vessel, not even a native prahu, was to be seen. After having anchored we saluted the fort with thirteen guns, which the latter returned with only eleven. On my demanding the reason of this deficiency, it was attributed to the carelessness of the officer of artillery, for which it appeared he was to be punished. Soon after entering the roads, I sent Lieutenant Bruining on shore to inform the Governor of our arrival. This gentleman having just retired to take his siesta, his people had the incivility to allow M. Bruining to walk in front of the house from noon until three o'clock, before being admitted into his presence. The Governor expressed himself much gratified at our arrival, and wished me to call upon him in the evening, when I went to his house in company with several of the gentlemen who were embarked with me, and experienced a more hospitable reception than could have been expected from the poverty-stricken appearance of the place.

The Governor of the Portuguese possessions in the north coast of Timor usually resides at Dilli, and pays himself and the other officials out of the revenue derived from the trade. They are all engaged in mercantile pursuits. Their pay, indeed, is extremely small, the officers receiving only eleven[Pg 34] guilders,[6] and the soldiers three guilders per month. Their dwellings are miserable, dirty, and poor.

The Governor resides in a small wooden house situated at the back of the fort, which contains no other furniture than a few tables, benches, and old chairs. When dining at his house the following day, we plainly perceived that the chairs, dishes, plates, and even the table-linen, had been lent for the occasion by various individuals, all being of different make and fashion; and our opinion on this point was afterwards confirmed.

The Governor appeared to be much pleased on finding that I was in want of some cattle and various articles, with which he offered to supply me. He charged me seven dollars a head for the buffaloes, and eighty-six guilders for half a picul (sixty-six pounds and a half) of wax candles, that I purchased from him, in addition to which I paid six per cent. export duty at the custom-house. Slaves were frequently offered to me on sale, the Commandant, among others, wishing me to purchase two children of seven or eight years of age, who were loaded with heavy irons. The usual price of an adult male slave is forty guilders, that of a woman or a child being from twenty-five to thirty. These unfortunate people[Pg 35] are kidnapped in the interior, and brought to Dilli for sale, the Governor readily providing the vender with certificates under his hand and seal, authorizing him to dispose of the captives as he may think fit.[7]

In addition to the slave trade, from which the government officers appeared to derive the greater part of their income, a commerce is also earned on in wax and sandal-wood, which the natives are forced to deliver up at a small, and almost nominal price. The trade is entirely engrossed by the governor and officials, no other individual being permitted to embark in commerce. This, with other abuses, caused so much discontent, that many of the inhabitants of Dilli, both natives and Chinese, expressed to me their strong desire to be freed from the hateful yoke[Pg 36] of the Portuguese. Scarcely had we anchored in the roads, when several came on board the brig and gave vent to their joy, supposing that we had come to take possession of the place.

The fort, a square inclosure, without bastions, containing within it a house and a magazine, is constructed of stone and clay. Several pieces of cannon are mounted on the walls, but the greater number are unprovided with carriages. Some of our officers wished to inspect the interior, but orders had been issued to the sentry not to allow us to enter; at all events, our officers were refused admission on the plea, that our visiting the fort would be viewed with displeasure by the Governor. We did not think it worth while to make a formal request for permission to visit this pitiful fortress, as the appearance of the exterior gave us a good idea of what we might expect to meet with inside.

Excepting the wife of the master of a merchant ship, we did not meet with a single European woman here. Even those of the mixed breed were scarce, two or three only being encountered by us during our stay.

When the Portuguese go abroad to pay a visit or to take the air, they are carried by two or three slaves in a canvass hammock, suspended from a[Pg 37] bamboo pole, over which an awning is extended to protect the rider from the sun and rain. There are excellent horses in the place, but very little use is made of them, neither carts nor carriages being employed by the inhabitants. The Portuguese, indeed, betray no activity, and appear to have given themselves up to an indolent mode of life, all their actions being redolent of laziness and apathy.

The population appeared to be numerous, but no signs of prosperity were visible. The dwelling-houses, small, dirty and ruinous, and built without order or symmetry, were scattered irregularly over the town. On each side of the quarter inhabited by the Portuguese two redoubts have been erected, on which some old iron guns of small calibre were mounted. The sentinels were half naked, and their muskets were for the most part without locks, so that they could only be carried for show. In addition to their muskets they carried long poniards or daggers.

A large plain extended to the eastward of the town, on which appeared an exceedingly high gallows. A short distance inland to the south-west the chief of the native inhabitants resided, to whom I would willingly have paid a visit, had it not been so much against the inclination of the governor, who[Pg 38] pretended that the chief was seriously indisposed. A feeling of distrust on the part of the Portuguese was apparent throughout our intercourse with them, and they evidently wished us to hold no intercourse with the natives.

The land around the settlement is highly fertile, and fruit, which here as in other parts of India, is produced without the assistance of human industry, was plentiful; but culinary vegetables were very scarce. The land would produce abundantly were the indolent Portuguese to turn their attention to agriculture, or to encourage the natives to do so; but they prefer seeing the innocent natives carried off from their peaceful homes in the hills, that they may profit by their sale, to allowing them to better their condition by their labour and agricultural skill.

On two occasions some of the gentlemen of the settlement came off to pay us a visit, appearing to be much surprised by the interior arrangements of the brig. I had also invited the Governor, but he made some trifling excuses for remaining on shore. Having thus doubly requited the attention I experienced from these gentlemen, I made preparations for my departure, and sent the Governor a present of a thousand Manilla cigars, with a quantity of fishhooks,[Pg 39] in return for which he sent me off some sheep, and a number of shaddocks. We therefore parted on the best terms.

Having now fulfilled the orders of the Governor of the Moluccas, we weighed anchor on the 6th of June, and were piloted out by the same lieutenant who had taken us into the roads. No fees being demanded, I presented him with some provisions and trifles, which were received with thanks. The day previous to our departure having been the birthday of their king, a general promotion had taken place, by which this gentleman had received the rank of first lieutenant, with a monthly increase of pay of three guilders, his salary now amounting to fourteen guilders per month.

The Portuguese possessions lie on the north side of Timor, and consist of several small posts or factories, the principal of which are Batu-Gede to the west, and Manatatu to the east of Dilli, the capital. On the west and south-west sides of the island the Dutch settlements are situated, the town of Coepang being the seat of the Residency. As this part of Timor was beyond the limits of my intended voyage, I steered a direct course from Dilli towards the Island of Wetta.


[6] A guilder is 1s. 8d. sterling.—Trans.

[7] When Captain King first visited Melville Island, on the north coast of Australia, the natives appeared on the beach and called out to our voyager, "Ven aca," the Portuguese term for "Come here." From this, coupled with many circumstances that came under his observation during his stay at Melville Island, Major Campbell, in an excellent account of that island inserted in the journal of the Royal Geographical Society, states it to be his opinion, that the Portuguese sometimes touch here and carry off the natives as slaves. When this part of the world is better known, similar scandalous transactions will, probably, be brought to light.—Trans.

[Pg 40]



Arrival at the island of Wetta.—Productions.—Trade.—Interview with the natives.—Destruction of the chief village.—Depart for Kissa.—The Christian inhabitants.—The fort Vallenhoven.—Friendly reception by the natives.—Beauty of the landscape.—State of agriculture.—Attachment of the people to the Dutch government.—General assemblage of the people.—Performance of divine service.—Native hospitalities.—Order, neatness and industry of the people of Kissa.

During the existence of the Dutch East India Company, a garrison of their troops occupied the village of Sau, on the south coast of Wetta, an island situated opposite the north coast of Timor. We directed our course thither, and stood close along shore to search for the village in question. The shores of the island were steep and hilly, but luxuriantly clothed with trees, among which appeared at intervals the huts of the inhabitants, the whole presenting a most picturesque view. The natives appeared to be extremely shy, none of them[Pg 41] making their appearance on the beach, nor indeed seeming to wish to look at us.

On the 10th of June we arrived off Sau, and came to an anchor in fifty fathoms water, about a cable's length from the shore, in a small bay, where we lay tolerably well sheltered from the south-east winds by a point of land. Having fired a gun, and hoisted the Dutch flag, two natives made their appearance on the beach, to whom I sent one of the interpreters, who soon brought them on board. They proved to be Christian native chiefs, Hura, the Orang Kaya, and Dirk-Cobus, the Orang Tua of the village.[8] Their appearance betokened great poverty, and they complained bitterly of the miserable state into which they had fallen since they had lost the protection of the Dutch. They informed me that four years previously their village had been plundered and burned to the ground, and several of their people killed, by the inhabitants of Lette, since which occurrence they had deserted the sea-coast,[Pg 42] and had taken up their residence in the hills.

With the view of inspiring them with confidence, I went on shore entirely alone, and landed near the remains of what had been a fine walled village, containing a church and a guard-house. The number of the fruit trees, and the luxuriant growth of the various plants, gave evidence that the ground over which I walked possessed exceeding fertility. A crowd of unconverted natives, who recognized the above-mentioned Christian chiefs as their rulers, now joined us. They were all armed with spears, bows, arrows, and parangs or chopping knives; but they soon laid these aside, and gave many tokens of friendship and confidence. A small quantity of arrack and tobacco which I distributed among them, put them in high spirits. With the exception of the two chiefs, none of the natives spoke the Malayan language, nor were my interpreters acquainted with their dialect.

On the beach I met with two sheds belonging to the people of Kissa, who had been in the habit of coming here to barter cloth, iron and gold, for sandal-wood, rice and Indian corn or maize. Coin is not in use as a currency among the natives. Buffaloes, hogs, sheep and fowls may be obtained here at[Pg 43] a very cheap rate in exchange for cloth, but not in very large numbers.

Having wandered for some time over this very beautiful country, we approached the eastern extremity of the village, and sat down on the banks of a river, which there emptied itself into the sea. They appeared much pleased by this, and with much energy of manner expressed their ardent desire to live once more in peace and quietude under the rule of the Dutch, at the same time offering up thanks to heaven on finding that the Company, (as they always styled our government) after having so long abandoned them, had now again appeared. Although both the chiefs spoke the Malayan language, I could not correctly understand the answers to all the questions I put, but they clearly expressed their desire to take up their residence again on the sea shore, and requested that one or two European soldiers, with a teacher to instruct them in the tenets of Christianity, might be left among them. For the latter in particular they appeared to be extremely anxious. They also made several other requests; on which I promised that the Netherlands' government should watch over their interests, but that their prosperity must depend chiefly on their own exertions.

[Pg 44]

From the account of the natives themselves, the sea coast population of the island is far from being numerous, many of the inhabitants having retired to the other islands after the destruction of Sau. On the other hand, the mountaineers, who are called Arafuras, are in great numbers, these simple people considering themselves as the subjects of the inhabitants of the coast. The natives of the north and east coasts of Wetta have a bad character, having plundered and murdered the crews of two prahus a short time previous to my visit to the island.

The Arafuras of the interior had been in a very unsettled state some time past, all regularity of government having been put an end to by the death of the Raja, Johannes Pitta, whose heir had retired with his mother to the island of Kissa. The natives besought me in the most earnest manner to summon this young man back to his native island, and install him as their chief.

The two chiefs and several of the people, returned with me to the brig, where I presented them with some cloth and a Dutch flag, promising to promote their interests to the best of my power at Kissa, towards which island, having nothing more to detain me here, I now steered.

Kissa possesses only two anchoring places, one on[Pg 45] the west, and the other on the south-east side of the island. When seen from a distance the land does not appear to be much elevated above the level of the sea, but on a nearer approach it will be perceived that the shores rise abruptly from the water, and are of a very rocky nature. Small creeks and inlets are to be seen here and there, but these will only admit prahus of a small draught of water. In former times Kissa was the seat of the Dutch Residency of the south-west islands,[9] and it is still the most populous of the group, the people being also farther advanced in civilization than their neighbours.

In standing westward towards the roads, we ran close along the south-west side of the island, where the violent breaking of the sea against the steep shore, presented a very picturesque appearance; but to us, who were at a very small distance from the land, the sight was combined with something of the terrific. On the 13th of June we anchored in a bight to the northward of the south-west point, on a strip[Pg 46] of sand and rocks, with very irregular soundings on it, and moored the brig with a hawser made fast to the steep shore. The beach was here flat and sandy, but was fronted by a reef, steep to on the outer side, over which small prahus can go at the time of high water. The inhabitants haul up their jonkos (trading prahus of about twenty tons burthen) on the beach.

The natives hoisted a Dutch flag on our arrival, and several of the chiefs came off to welcome us to their shores shortly after we had come to an anchor. I soon went on shore, accompanied by M. Kam and several of the gentlemen, when we found a multitude of natives assembled on the beach to receive us, provided with litters to carry us up into the country. The proofs of joy at our arrival, evinced by the assembled crowd, were indeed striking in the extreme.

My attention was first directed to the fort Vollenhoven, which was situated a little to the northward of our anchorage, in the middle of an extensive level plain. The fort consisted of an inclosure about ninety feet square, formed by stone walls ten feet high and three feet in thickness, with a gate on the east side, and a bastion with four embrasures on the[Pg 47] south-west and north-east corners. This portion of the fort was still in a good and serviceable state, but the interior works and the building had all fallen to the ground, the greater portion of the materials having been destroyed by the white ant.[10] We found five dismounted cannon lying on the sea bastion, one a one-pounder, and the others four-pounders, which were still in good condition. The fort, with all its contents, were considered by the natives as the property of the old East India Company, and for this reason had been preserved untouched by the natives, who viewed them as relics. They eagerly offered to put these, together with the Residency House, which was much decayed, into repair, if a Dutch garrison were again placed among them.

Marna, the chief village, which lies inland about half an hour's journey from the fort, is approached by means of a pathway, shaded by high trees, running along a deep valley. The village has an appearance[Pg 48] of great neatness, the houses, many of which have the sides constructed of planks, being surrounded by gardens kept in the greatest order; and, although the buildings are of different heights and sizes, the village has by no means an irregular appearance. It is enclosed on one side by a stone wall, and on the other three by live hedges, or pagga fences. All the inhabitants profess the Christian religion, and the large and well-built church in which they perform their devotions is kept in a state of perfect order. The village altogether presents a charming proof of the order, neatness, and industry of the inhabitants, by which they have naturally arisen to a greater state of prosperity than will be found in most other native places. The whole island consists of clusters of hillocks, luxuriantly clothed with herbage, the summits of which we often ascended to enjoy the delightful prospect afforded by the villages and cultivated fields spread over the country, the scene being enlivened by the presence of men, women and children, busily pursuing their avocations. Agriculture, however, is not so much attended to as could be wished, as the natives are obliged to import rice and maize from Wetta, but cattle and stock are in the greatest abundance.

[Pg 49]

The people of Kissa devote themselves chiefly to commercial pursuits, carrying on a brisk trade with the neighbouring islands; and in this point of view Kissa must be considered as the most important in the group. Their commercial propensities, however, have been disadvantageous to them as far as the improvement of agriculture is concerned.

It had been arranged that a general meeting of the inhabitants should take place on the 14th of June, to give me an opportunity of making known to them the purport of my visit. At nine o'clock in the morning of the day fixed on, I sent forward a detachment of twenty armed European seamen to the village, under the command of one of my officers, and soon afterwards I left the brig for the shore, accompanied by Messrs. Ram and Dielwaart, with the officers of the brig, the clerk and the interpreters, under a salute from the guns. The natives received us on the beach with much ceremony, and conveyed us in litters towards the town, amid the firing of lelahs and the joyous shouts of the natives; these proofs of friendship being the more agreeable from their evident sincerity.

To my great satisfaction, I found that nearly every chief of the island was present at the meeting, and I was heartily welcomed by the upper Orang Kaya[Pg 50] in the name of them all. Immediately after this, the entire multitude cried out simultaneously, "Tarima kasipada tūhan Alla, Compania būlūm lūpa sama kami orang," ("Thanks be to God, the Company have not yet forgotten us.")

The letter sent to them by the Governor of the Moluccas was now read in a loud voice by the interpreter, under a salvo from the small arms, according to the custom of the natives; and soon afterwards I distributed among them the presents with which I had been furnished for them by the Government. I have frequently observed, that the natives never decide on any point at the moment, but consult with each other until they have come to a determination. I therefore left them for a time, that they might have their deliberations to themselves. On my return, as I had expected, they expressed themselves very thankful for the good wishes of the Government, and earnestly requested that a small detachment of troops might be established among them as formerly, and that the Government would send them also a missionary or teacher to instruct them in the tenets of Christianity, for whose maintenance they would amply provide. I now, in the name of the Government, confirmed the authority of the various chiefs, in token of which I delivered[Pg 51] the staves of office[11] formerly presented to their chiefs by the old East India Company, into the hands of their successors. The chief Orang Kaya, Zacharis Frederick Bakker, had in his possession a certificate of chieftainship furnished him by the present Government, which he requested me to inspect. I then presented him with one of the silver knobbed staves I had brought with me, promising that the Government would afterwards replace it with one provided with a golden knob.

At this meeting, the fugitives from Wetta, (among whom was the heir of the above-mentioned Orang Kaya, Pitta) were present. The chiefs of Kissa promised henceforward to interest themselves in the affairs of Wetta, in doing which they would be promoting their own welfare. I also suggested to them how advantageous it would prove were they to bring their productions to Banda and Amboyna, and gave them much advice as to the best means by which they might increase their prosperity. After this the assembly was broken up, amid a continued firing of lelahs in all parts of the village.

[Pg 52]

In the meantime a long table had been laid out in the European fashion, with plates, knives, forks and spoons, on which were placed pastry, and other refreshments for our entertainment. The natives of these parts are generally very partial to our national customs, and are also desirous of following the Dutch fashions in their mode of dress. I took my place at the table with the chiefs, while the seamen, who were not forgotten, partook of a separate repast. I had brought on shore several bottles of wine and liqueurs, which added greatly to the conviviality of the meeting, many toasts applicable to the occasion being given. Many of the natives, especially the more respectable, spoke a few words of Dutch, and they took care to make their knowledge apparent at every opportunity.

M. Kam having expressed a wish to perform divine service at the church after the conclusion of the meeting, we entered this neat and substantial building, where we found that every auditor was provided with a proper seat, although, owing to our presence, the church was very full. M. Kam gave a discourse in Malayan and Dutch. The unbroken silence maintained by the auditors, their deep attention, and the truly religious gravity which sat upon every countenance, rendered the scene highly solemn[Pg 53] and impressive. When the service was over, about sixty of the natives, old as well as young, were christened by M. Kam, who also united twelve couples in marriage.

The village church is ninety feet in length and forty in breadth, the roof being elevated about, sixty feet from the ground. The costume of the natives was rather singular. They had naturally clothed themselves in their best on this important occasion, some wearing old fashioned-coats with wide sleeves, and broad skirts; others garments of the same description, but of a more modern cut, while the remainder were clad in long black kabyas, or loose coats, the usual dress of native Christians. The costume of those who were clad in the old fashioned coats, was completed by short breeches, shoes with enormous buckles, and three-cornered or round felt hats, of an ancient description. Many of the women wore old Dutch chintz gowns or jackets, the costume of the remainder being the native sarong and kabya. The heads of the women were adorned with ornaments of gold and precious stones, but the men wore their long hair simply confined with a tortoise-shell comb, after the mode adopted by the native Christians of Amboyna. These quaint costumes acted as a considerable foil[Pg 54] to the sedateness of the meeting; but even the unpolished seamen did not commit themselves by giving vent to their mirth, and the whole service was performed amid the most perfect order and regularity.

After leaving the church we were invited with much kindness into many of the private houses, and always found small tables laid out with refreshments, the hosts endeavouring, to the best of their power, to receive us with hospitality.

The people of Kissa are far in advance of those of Amboyna in point of industry. Every house that we visited was surrounded by a garden, laid out with much care, in which were planted Indian corn, tobacco, cabbages, siri (piper betel), and various sorts of culinary vegetables, while large herds of cattle were grazing in the valleys.

It was late in the afternoon when we made preparations to return on board. We left the village attended by a multitude of the people, the seamen walking in advance, with drums beating and colours flying, while the officers and myself were carried in litters as before, the kind-hearted and thankful islanders greeting us with blessings and shouts of joy, accompanied by the firing of their lelahs.

On my return on board, I judged it inadvisable[Pg 55] to remain under the coast during the night, as we were anchored with a cable of gumuti, (the hairy bark of the borassus gumutus), which is more liable to chafe over the rocks than those of European hemp. Indeed, towards evening the cable parted, which obliged us to stand off and on during the night. Ships navigating these seas should always be provided with chain cables. While the eastern monsoon prevails, the current sets to the eastward, or to windward through these islands, from Dilli, or Timor, as far as the island of Baba. This remark will be of value to navigators, as by taking advantage of this weather current they may work to windward through these islands with facility.

On the morning of the 15th I again went on shore, and, after visiting the village, penetrated farther into the interior than I had previously been. Proofs of the industry and orderly habits of the natives were encountered at every step. My attention was particularly drawn to the course of instruction adopted at the schools, where all the children, under nine or ten years of age, assembled to learn reading and writing, and the rudiments of Christianity.

I observed a strong partiality for a military life among the young men, and there can be no doubt[Pg 56] that, if well disciplined, they would prove excellent auxiliary troops for the Government.

Having confirmed the appointment of several chiefs, and fulfilled my duties in every particular, I took a friendly leave of the Orang Kayas and the people, who brought on board a quantity of provisions and fruit as presents, and firing some guns as a last farewell to these good-hearted islanders, we shaped our course for the adjacent island of Lette.


[8] These two native titles, the first of which signifies literally "rich man," and the other "old man," or "elder," are the usual designations of the chiefs among the Moluccan and the neighbouring island. When these have become Christians, they usually adopt European names, as Dirk-Cobus (Diderik-Jacobus), the chief mentioned in the text, had done.

[9] This group is named in our charts the Serwatty Islands, probably a native corruption of the Dutch term "Zuid-wester" (south-western). As this name has long been recognized, we have continued it here to avoid confusion.—Trans.

[10] These insects, which abound all over India, are very mischievous, sometimes eating through and destroying a chest and its contents in a single night. To prevent this the chests are usually provided with feet, which are placed in small cups of water, the ants having great dread of this element. On the other hand, these insects do good service by destroying the carcases of dead animals, and thus preventing them from polluting the atmosphere.

[11] These staves of office were canes with silver or golden knobs, on which were engraven the arms of the East India Company and the name of the chief to whom they were delivered, together with an appropriate inscription.

[Pg 57]



Arrival at the Island of Lette.—Anchoring Place.—Series of Disasters.—Character of the Inhabitants.—The Mountaineers.—Differences among the Islanders.—Good Effects of our Mediation.—Respect entertained by the Natives towards the Dutch Government.

On the following morning, June 17th, we found ourselves close under the south-west point of Lette, and perceived reefs extending along the shore at a distance of half a mile from the land. This island is, for the most part, high and hilly, but near the sea the land is level. The greater portion of the inhabitants reside on the sea-coast, in villages erected upon elevated and projecting points of land, which present a charming appearance as the island is approached. We ran close along the reefs until opposite to the village of Tombra, where there is an opening in the reef, into which we warped the brig, and moored her head and stern. The inlet or[Pg 58] basin, which afforded us anchorage, is from four hundred to five hundred feet broad, with depths of six to nine fathoms over a sandy bottom. It is bounded on each side by reefs visible at low water, and at the extremity of the cove lies a white sandy beach covered with numerous cocoa-nut trees.

As soon as the brig was secured, I landed with the native interpreter, at a spot where several of the Christian inhabitants were waiting to conduct us to the village. This did not present an appearance indicating prosperity, as it contained no more than twenty-five houses, occupied both by Christians and heathens. During the previous year, three villages in the neighbourhood had been entirely destroyed by fire, the inhabitants losing all their household property; and shortly afterwards an additional disaster occurred in the death of the Orang Kaya, to whom no successor had yet been appointed. The anarchy and confusion this gave rise to, had caused many of the people to abandon the spot. Those who received us on the beach evinced great joy at our arrival, and expressed hopes that through my intervention, order would again be restored.

It was very soon known throughout the island that a Dutch ship of war had arrived, and the people flocked from all parts of the country to bid us[Pg 59] welcome. Among these was an Amboynese teacher, who had arrived here about two years previously. He expressed a wish that I would visit the school-room, which also served the purpose of a church since the building had been destroyed by the fire already mentioned. To this I willingly consented. The scholars, a number of boys and girls, were arranged in a row, and, as I approached, they commenced singing a hymn. After it was concluded, I inspected the school-house, a wretched building, the whole furniture of which consisted of a long table and some bamboo benches. The teacher resided in an adjacent hut, around which a small garden had been laid out. Every thing that met our view presented an appearance of poverty and decay.

Two years previous to our visit, this group of islands had been visited by a violent hurricane, which, especially on Lette, caused frightful devastation: on several tracts of land over which I passed, all the cocoa-nut and other fruit-trees had been levelled with the earth. This disaster had been followed by a drought, which had destroyed the produce of their plantations, and created a great mortality among the cattle, many dying for want of provender. The hurricane had also caused the[Pg 60] bees to desert the island, a serious loss to the inhabitants, since wax and honey were among the chief exportable productions of the island. These repeated misfortunes had induced many of the inhabitants to emigrate to Kissa and Roma; in fact, the scarcity of provisions had been so great, that some had actually died from want. This unlucky island, like ancient Egypt, had indeed been harassed and afflicted by a series of plagues. It presented a sad spectacle, especially when compared with the prosperous island of Kissa, the beauties of which were still fresh in our remembrance.

The Christian inhabitants of Lette bear great resemblance in manners, customs, and mode of dress, to those of Kissa. The unconverted natives, who consider themselves as subjects to the former, are still low in the scale of civilization, but are worthy of remark as unsophisticated children of nature. They are tall and well formed, with light brown complexions. Their noses are pointed, and their foreheads high, while their hair, naturally black, is rendered yellow, by rubbing in a composition of lime. It is confined by means of a bamboo comb. The men wear no other dress than a piece of cloth made from the bark of a tree, wrapped round the waist. The women, in addition to this article of[Pg 61] clothing, sometimes wear a sort of kabya, or short gown, open in front. Polygamy does not obtain among them, and the men appear generally to be much attached to their wives. Adultery very seldom occurs; indeed, the natives have such an abhorrence of this and every other misdemeanour, that a person found guilty is punished with death, or is sold to foreigners, and thus doomed to perpetual slavery. I was informed that all their goods and chattels are kept in their huts, which are unprovided with doors, or in caves on the mountains; but that notwithstanding these temptations, instances of theft very rarely occur, this crime, like that of incontinence, being considered as conferring an indelible stain on the whole family of the culprit, who either kill him with their own hands, or sell him into slavery. The East India Company, during their occupation of these islands, introduced a philanthropic law, which required them to give up all their criminals, that they might be sent to cultivate the spice plantations of Banda.

These people are idolatrous in every sense of the word, since they pay reverence to an image of human shape, rudely carved from a thick piece of wood. This image is placed in a sitting posture[Pg 62] upon a square heap of stone, raised under a large tree in the centre of the village. In the event of a death, a marriage, or any remarkable event, a large hog or a buffalo, which has been kept sacred and fattened for the purpose, is slaughtered before this image. Cattle and other stock form the chief wealth of the natives; but they also possess elephants' tusks, brass wire, gongs, plates and dishes of coarse Chinese porcelain, chopping knives, &c., together with golden ornaments, such as chains, half-moons and ear-rings, these being denominated harta, or household property.

On one occasion I was present at the funeral of a native, which took place in the village of Batu Meau. The body had been laid in the grave previous to my arrival. A number of men were assembled round the spot, who were soon joined by a large party of women, bearing baskets containing household goods and dressed provisions, which were thrown into the grave by each as she approached. A number of aged women now commenced a loud wailing, which they continued without intermission until the grave was filled up with earth. The crowd then collected around the idol, to which a quantity of provisions were offered, and the remainder of the[Pg 63] day was spent by the people in feasting and praying around it.

The chiefs of the various villages, who came on board to bid me welcome to their shores, were conveyed in lightly constructed prahus, similar in appearance to the orang-baays[12] used by the Amboynese. Each of these contained thirty rowers, who propelled the vessel with broad paddles; these being far more serviceable than oars, for the use of which there would scarcely be sufficient space. The chiefs rowed in state round the brig three times, beating small gongs called tif-tifs, the music being accompanied by a loud singing, the burthen of which was "Salamat Compania." They then came alongside, and informed me that these vessels and their crews were "Prahu Compania," (government prahus), and that they were perfectly at my service. During the period in which the East India Company had establishments on these islands, the people of each village were obliged to have one of these prahus at all times in readiness for the use of the Resident, or head officer of the Government.[Pg 64] The people of the islands have also been accustomed to other requisitions on the part of our Government, to which they comply with the greatest alacrity, feeling hurt whenever their assistance is not accepted. I found the prahus they offered to me on this occasion, of considerable service in bringing off wood, water, and other necessaries.

The day following that of my arrival was fixed on for a general meeting of the chiefs, at which I intended to present them with the letters sent them by the Government, and to transact the remainder of the public business which had brought me here. About seven o'clock in the evening a singular spectacle presented itself. A number of women, taking advantage of the lowness of the tide, collected on the beach to catch fish and crabs, each bearing a flambeau composed of bamboo and resin, and as more than three hundred of these were burning at the same time, they formed a splendid illumination.

On the morning of the 18th, a small brig, belonging to Mr. Franquemont, a merchant of Sourabaya, arrived in the basin. The object of the captain in visiting the island was to purchase stock, which the Java traders are in the habit of obtaining[Pg 65] here, but as at the present time the natives had none for sale, the brig sailed immediately for one of the neighbouring islands.

At nine o'clock in the morning of the day fixed for the meeting, I landed, accompanied by several of the gentlemen attached to the expedition, and by a detachment of marines, (as I shall henceforward call the armed seamen,) the brig firing a salute from her great guns. Several of the chiefs and a large number of the people had already assembled, to whom the interpreter read the letter sent by our Government, with the usual accompaniment of a feu-de-joie from the musketry. The business connected with the subject of the letter was soon transacted, but the arrangement of other affairs was attended with much more difficulty than had been experienced at Kissa, the natives there being farther advanced in civilization than at Lette. I was employed during two entire days in deciding petty differences that had arisen among them. A spirit of contention upon the merest trifles forms a peculiar trait in the character of these islanders, and they appeared to prefer living in variance, indeed, in a state of open warfare with one another, to making the least advances towards reconciliation. They would sacrifice all they possessed to keep up[Pg 66] the strife, and the result of these disturbances was that many families were forced to wander in poverty over the island, while some actually died of want. The people frankly acknowledged their failing upon this point, to obviate which they were anxious that a Dutch Resident or other government officer should reside among them, to whom they might refer their disputes for adjustment. They promised to abide implicitly by his decision; indeed, during my short stay on the island I had numerous proofs of their willingness to admit our mediation, of which I will here give an example. Throughout the Molucca Seas it had been the custom of the Government to permit those chiefs, whose conduct had been highly meritorious, to carry a Dutch pennant in their orang-baays, or state barges. This mark of distinction had been conferred upon some former chiefs of the village of Batu Meau, and their successors, considering themselves as being also entitled to it, continued to display the pennant from their prahus. This assumption on their part had drawn upon them the violent enmity of the chiefs of the neighbouring villages, who had ever since been in a state of open warfare with those of Batu Meau. It will readily be conceived how difficult it was to reconcile parties so strongly[Pg 67] embittered against each other. It required some time to convince the chiefs of Batu Meau, that they had acted wrongly; but at length I was fortunate enough to bring the affair to a favourable termination, the chiefs being prohibited from ever again displaying the offensive banner.

In my notices of Wetta, I mentioned that the village of Sau, on that island, had been destroyed by the people of Lette. From the information concerning the affair that I was enabled to collect here, it appeared that nine natives of Lette, who had visited the village of Sau on a trading voyage, had been massacred by the inhabitants, who had been tempted to commit the deed by a desire to gain possession of the goods that the traders had brought with them. According to the law of retaliation which obtains among the natives of the Archipelago, this deed demanded vengeance on the part of the people of Lette, who proceeded to Wetta with a number of armed prahus, and totally destroyed the village of Sau. This affair had naturally given rise to the direct enmity between the natives of the two islands, which entirely put a stop to the commercial intercourse that had previously subsisted between them, and but for our own interposition, a reconciliation could never have been effected.[Pg 68] This case affords a striking example of the detriment these islanders suffer from the barbarous nature of their laws, or rather customs.

When distributing the presents, sent by the Government, at the general meeting of the chiefs, I was requested to apportion the shares for each village, the chiefs themselves candidly confessing that since they all considered themselves as equal in point of rank, were this duty left to themselves, it would certainly give rise to a renewal of the discord that had so long prevailed among them. Although their old adats or customs, are so absurd and contradictory, that their interests are greatly injured by maintaining them, they yet, with an obstinacy for which it is difficult to account, submit to and revere them as sacred and inviolable laws.

On the east side of Lette, near the village of Batu Meau, we met with a block-house, surrounded by a high stone wall, which had formerly been occupied by a garrison of the Dutch East India Company. It was in a state of great dilapidation, indeed, every thing we encountered bore evident marks of the poverty and misery of the people, which, however, is in a great measure to be attributed to the unavoidable disasters which had befallen[Pg 69] them. I promised the chiefs that I would inform the Government of their difficulties, and stated to them that I had remained at the island longer than I had originally intended, with the hope that my mediation would effect a termination to their disputes. I urged them strongly to live henceforward in unity, and I had the satisfaction of perceiving, before my departure from the island, a considerable improvement in their social state, the people of the different villages having become on far better terms with one another. The exhortations and advice of that estimable clergyman, M. Kam, had also effected much good. Many of the people were baptized and married by him, the solemnity with which these duties were performed making a deep impression on the susceptible minds of this simple, and by no means badly-disposed people. Before our departure they gave proofs of a returning spirit of industry, by commencing to repair their church and houses.

From Lette I proceeded to Moa, of which island I will give a description in the ensuing chapter.


[12] This name is also here applied to the vessels of the head chiefs. They are large galleys, with high stems and sterns, having a roof of attap, or palm leaves, raised over them.

[Pg 70]



Boat Expedition to the Island of Moa.—Good Inclination of the Inhabitants.—The Block-house.—The Duif Family.—Character of the People.—Respect entertained by the Heathen towards the Christian Inhabitants.—State of Civilization and Public Instruction.—Kind Hospitality of the Natives.—Their Feelings of Attachment and Confidence towards the Dutch Government.—Departure for the Island of Roma.

According to an old adat or custom, the ships of the Dutch East India Company never anchored off Moa, but remained at Lette, whence the Company's servants were conducted to Moa by a chief of that island, who came over for the purpose; and as I did not wish to make an inroad into old usages, I made known my arrival to the people of Moa, upon which the chief of the village of Tombra came over to welcome me, and to offer his vessel for my accommodation during the proposed expedition. On the 21st of June I departed for Moa, accompanied[Pg 71] by several of my officers, and followed by two of our boats carrying the detachment of marines, while a number of native prahus brought up the rear. Having a fair wind, we soon arrived off the west coast of the island, where we found a large crowd of the natives assembled, who gave us a most enthusiastic welcome. I cannot find terms to describe how gratifying it was to us to discover in all these islands, so sincere and unanimous a feeling of attachment towards our Government; for the long period, during which the friendly communication between these inhabitants and the Dutch had been discontinued, appeared only to have added fresh fuel to their attachment.

The part of the island at which we had arrived was due east from the village of Batu Mean, and no sooner had we stepped on shore than a number of litters, which had been prepared for us, were brought forward, when there existed no little commotion among the crowd, each wishing that the village to which he belonged should be honoured by our first visit. Here we took a kind farewell of the chiefs of Lette who had accompanied us, when they departed homewards amid repeated mutual congratulations. We now deposited ourselves in the litters, which were provided with curtains of chintz or[Pg 72] coloured cotton; our own party, which numbered six, together with the chiefs, being carried in this manner, and as the crowd was very great, the bearers could change frequently during our tolerably long journey to the head village. Behind us walked the detachment of marines, and the domestics who carried the presents, so that our train had a very imposing appearance.

Our way lay, for the most part, over level uninhabited land, cultivated in some places, and in others overgrown with allang-allang, a sort of wild grass, growing to the height of four or five feet. The foot-path was narrow and bad, and this, combined with the heat of the sun, and the length of the distance, rendered the journey extremely painful, especially to our marines. We had left the landing-place at half-past eight, and owing to these difficulties did not arrive at our destination until one in the afternoon, and as this was too long a period to remain in the litters, we often relieved our cramped limbs by walking.

The villages of Roksali, Taynama, and Patti, to which we were journeying, are situated on a piece of high coral ground near the beach, and are separated from each other by high stone walls. We marched into the chief of these with drums beating[Pg 73] and colours flying, and were received by the inhabitants with much friendship and confidence. One of the chiefs requested us to stay a short time under the shade of a high tree in the village, when he left us, and soon afterwards we were welcomed with much ceremony by a very aged native, who was entirely clad in an ancient European costume. He wore a large wig, a three-cornered hat, short breeches with large knee-buckles, and a coat with wide sleeves, ruffles, and spacious skirts; while on his feet he had high shoes, with heavy silver buckles: in short, he was clad after the fashion of the seventeenth century. This old man frankly offered us whatever the village contained, stating that men and goods were at our disposal; and declaring that our arrival had inspired him and his countrymen with the greatest delight. His joy was not feigned, for in many conversations which I afterwards held with him he gave most unequivocal proofs of his earnest attachment to the Dutch Government, and the sincerity of his feelings was undoubted, as, although he reasoned well, he yet gave proofs of great age having impaired his understanding; therefore he would have been unable to keep his duplicity concealed had any existed. This old man had once been governor or regent of the island. The whole[Pg 74] population viewed him with the highest respect; they consulted him on every affair of importance, and his clear knowledge of men and things, coupled with his long experience, gave him a great influence over them. He had resigned his authority several years since, and his grandson, of whom mention will be made hereafter, had been appointed his successor, with the title of Upper Orang Kaya.

After I had remained under the high tree some time conversing with this worthy native, we were conducted to a Block-house, situated near the sea, which had formerly been the abode of the garrison left here by the (Dutch) East India Company. This building, which was tolerably large, and of great strength, was surrounded by a good stone wall, one hundred and fifty paces square, provided with several look-out houses, and four doors. Upon a board above the door of the house were cut these words:—"De Korporaal Duif heeft dit gebouw gesticht in het jaar 17..,"[13] the date was legible no farther.

The natives had preserved the Block-house in a good state of repair, out of regard for the Company (which term they usually apply to the Netherlands'[Pg 75] Government,) and in the hope that they would once more be favoured (this was their expression) by the presence of a Dutch garrison. Even the bed places of the three soldiers, who had resided here, were left entire. On the occasion of our coming the entire building had been repaired and beautified, so that at the present time it was in a very serviceable state.

I will here give an instance of the nice sense of propriety shown by these people, at which I must confess I was surprised. No sooner had we expressed a wish to take a little rest than they all retired, no one coming near unless called for; while two natives posted themselves at the door, to inform those who wished to enter that we were not to be disturbed; and this was done without any wish to that effect having been expressed by any one of our party.

A family who went by the name of Duif, were among those who came to greet me on my arrival. The head of the family announced to me that he was the son of the Corporal Duif who had been entrusted with the erection of the Block-house, and that his father had married a native woman, from whom had sprung a very numerous progeny. I found here, as well as on the islands I had previously[Pg 76] visited, that it is a mark of distinction to have sprung from an European. Those who have a mixture of our blood in their veins, are called "Anak Compania" (children of the Company), and they are not a little proud of the title, although it confers upon them no exclusive privileges.

Immediately after we had entered the Block-house, and our baggage had been brought in, the bearers and other natives retired, a chief and six others remaining, to attend to our wants. Meat, eggs, milk and Indian corn were brought to us, and with this they prepared a patriarchal meal, which was seasoned with kind hospitality.

The place where we had taken up our residence was situated on the south-west point of the island, close to the shore, where the reefs are steep to, so that here, especially in the rainy monsoon, there is a very heavy surf. On every point of the east side of the island there is good and convenient anchorage.

The inhabitants of Moa turn their chief attention to breeding cattle, and grow only a small quantity of vegetables and Indian corn, the two last being chiefly for home consumption. The vessels which come to trade with the island generally anchor under the coast of Lette, and obtain the buffaloes,[Pg 77] goats, hogs, and fowls from natives of Lette, who go to Moa to purchase them; but the traders themselves sometimes go to Moa to fetch them in their own prahus. The inhabitants of the latter island never carry their stock to sea in their own vessels, as, from an old tradition, they entertain a superstitious notion that, were they to do so, some serious misfortune would inevitably befal them. Their flocks and herds are composed chiefly of sheep and buffaloes.

On Moa, as well as on most of the other islands, the population is divided into two classes, Christians and heathens, which may be considered as standing in the same relation to each other as masters and subjects. The subordination of the heathens, (who are by far the most numerous,) and the respect they entertain towards the Christians, are very remarkable, and may be partly attributed to the superior consideration in which the Christians are held by our Government; but undeniably, it is in a great measure owing to an irresistible belief on the part of the heathens, in the moral superiority of the Christians. That the latter must be the chief cause is apparent, from no Dutch ship of war having visited these islands for a long series of years.

On the north-east point of Moa, a solitary high[Pg 78] mountain, called Korbou, or Buffalo Peak, resembling in appearance, but much inferior in height to the famed Peak of Teneriffe, raises its head above the remaining part of the island, which consists generally of flat land. The ground is everywhere corally; and on the south and south-eastern parts of the island there is very little cultivation. The extensive plains, which produce nothing but allang-allang, are converted into good meadow land by the skill of the natives, who, at the end of the dry season, when this coarse grass has been almost withered by the continued heat and drought, set fire to it, and it is soon reduced to ashes. The rains, which shortly follow, combined with the heat of the sun, render the land thus prepared very productive, the ashes forming an excellent manure. The young grass, which now springs up, affords sumptuous fare for the stock; this fact being attested by the sleek and fat condition of the buffaloes, sheep, and other animals which feed upon it; indeed, the buffaloes of Moa are considered to be the best that can be procured among those islands.

Specie is seldom or never in use among the natives, cloth, brass-wire and other articles of foreign manufacture or produce, being used as a medium of exchange. A buffalo is to be purchased by goods to[Pg 79] the value of five or six guilders (8s. 4d. to 10s.), while the price of a sheep is from two to three guilders. Fishing is not so much pursued, either by the people of Moa, or by those of the neighbouring islands, as one would be led to expect, when the abundance of fish is taken into consideration. No wild animals are to be met with on the island. A few blue pigeons are occasionally seen; but I have traversed the island for hours together, in company with some other lovers of field-sports, without meeting with any game.

On the day after our arrival at the head village, I commenced transacting the business with which I had been entrusted. The assembling of the chiefs and people was conducted in the same manner as in Kissa and Lette, and I was constantly employed for three days attending to their affairs, instituting measures for increasing their prosperity, and forming plans for bettering their social state, especially as far as regards public instruction. The natives expressed their desire, as strongly as those I had previously visited, to receive among them a Dutch garrison, and a local teacher for their youth. I noted down the chief points of their desires, and promised that I would make them known to the Governor of the Moluccas.

[Pg 80]

It is generally supposed by us that the inhabitants of those distant places are only Christians in name, and have very little true knowledge of our religion; but I am authorized to say from experience, that this opinion is far from being a just one. To my surprise I found among the Christians of Moa, not only an extensive knowledge of the Bible, but also a very clear notion of our religious doctrines. There are very many among them who read and write very well, and when it is taken into consideration that very little instruction has been given them for a long series of years, we cannot help forming a good opinion of the industry and docility of this simple people; I can bear witness that, on this point, the inhabitants of this little island are equal, if not superior, to the natives of Amboyna, who have had far better opportunities of instruction afforded them.

The presence of M. Kam was in the highest degree agreeable to the inhabitants, and they listened with a profound attention, and a lively interest, to the religious discourses of this zealous clergyman, who baptized and married many of his hearers, my fellow voyagers and myself deriving much pleasure from being present at the ceremonies. The religious state of these people is, in a great measure, to be[Pg 81] attributed to the exertions of M. Le Bruin, a zealous missionary of Coepang on Timor, who occasionally visits some of these islands.

On the 23rd I appointed the chiefs to the various villages, together with an upper Orang-Kaya, to whom I gave a baton with a silver knob, and a Dutch flag. During our stay on the island our table was supplied in the greatest abundance with meat, vegetables, fruit, and every thing that the island afforded; and when I offered anything to the bearers as payment for these, it was civilly but firmly refused, with the declaration that they had received orders to take nothing either as payment or as reward. All that I could induce them to receive as a token of acknowledgment was a small cask of arrack, of which they appear to be great admirers, although they make a very moderate use of it, and deem it a great disgrace to be found guilty of drinking it to excess.

When I mentioned to the chiefs that I had myself taken on board the provisions I deemed necessary, and that, should I require any more, I would willingly demand and pay for it, that I might be no burthen to the people, my proposal appeared to be by no means agreeable to them. They answered, it was an old custom for the natives to administer[Pg 82] to the wants of the Company, and that the people would regret seeing a change in the system, as this custom afforded them a wished-for opportunity of giving a slight proof of their attachment, and they would feel hurt at being deprived of this gratification.

In the mean time, I remarked that they were making preparations to give something more than this "slight proof of attachment," in the shape of a national feast to celebrate the occasion of our visit, and the renewal of their former friendship with the Dutch. As this feast, however, would have detained me two days more, while my time was too valuable to be thrown away, I was forced to decline their invitation, informing them that my departure was irrevocably fixed for the 24th of June. In the course of this day they showed us all possible friendship, as if they wished to make themselves doubly useful during the short period in which we should remain. The evening was spent in making farewell visits, and at half-past four in the morning our bearers were in readiness, when the chiefs conducted us to the boats, the upper Orang-kaya accompanying us to the brig, where we arrived at two o'clock in the afternoon. The people of Moa, as a parting present, sent after us two fat bullocks,[Pg 83] as if what they had already done for us were not enough.

Having thus, according to my instructions, done my utmost towards deciding their differences, and placing their affairs on a firm basis, I took my departure on the 27th of June for Roma, a hilly island, about twenty-four miles in circumference, lying about forty miles to the north-west of Moa. On the same day we arrived off Roma, and anchored in seven fathoms on a bank of sand, extending northward to the distance of about half a mile from Nusa Midta, a small island lying off the south end of Roma, from which it is separated by a strait about three miles wide. There is also a bay on the north-west side of Roma, in which it is said that there is very good anchorage, but that part of the island possesses a very scanty population, while the uncleared state of the country renders it difficult to perform a journey to the chief villages, all of which are situated on the more southern parts of the island. On the south-west side of Roma, immediately opposite to the north end of Nusa-Midta, lies a fine and fertile valley, through which runs a small river. In the west monsoon there is good anchorage for a vessel opposite the mouth of this river, from which abundance[Pg 84] of timber and fire-wood, and good water, may be obtained. On all the other sides of the island the shores are steep and rocky, on which beats a heavy surf, rendering the landing from boats extremely difficult.

The population of Roma is not very great. The inhabitants, however, are more civilized than on many of the neighbouring islands, and in point of industry and morality they vie with the social and orderly people of Kissa. The chief village was situated to the north-north-east of our anchoring place, on a hill about four hundred feet above the level of the sea, the houses, with the hills rising behind it like an amphitheatre, presenting a very beautiful landscape. Their village was formerly built upon the beach, but the repeated attacks of the Ceramese pirates forced them to remove it to its present site.

The Orang Kayas and Orang Tuas, as usual, came on board to welcome us; and on the following morning I went on shore, accompanied by M. Dielwart, M. Kam, the surgeon, the clerk, the interpreters, and the detachment of marines. As it was high water we had to land through a very heavy surf, when we were received with much friendship, and introduced into the Kota Compania, (the Government block-house,) which consisted of[Pg 85] a spacious bamboo house, surrounded by a stone wall, within which there was also a tolerably large church. In consequence of the removal of the village, these now lie below the houses of the natives. The level ground in the neighbourhood is covered with dwellings, each being surrounded by a neat garden. Evidence of the uncommon industry of the people was everywhere apparent, the natural fertility of the soil being greatly increased by the skill with which they cultivate it; indeed, many of the neighbouring islands obtain here their supplies of Indian corn, fruits and other provisions, as well as timber for building their prahus. A large and beautiful valley, extending between the hills to the westward of the village of Jerusa, was covered with plantations of Indian corn, rice and vegetables, while the sides and summits of the hills were decked with grazing flocks of goats, sheep, hogs and buffaloes.

During a walk which we took along the shore and thence into the interior, we spied a number of bees' nests hanging from the branches of the high trees, some of which more than two feet in circumference. The wax and honey are collected with very little difficulty, and the bees, when driven from their nests, generally build another on the same tree.[Pg 86] Wax, indeed, forms a very important article of commerce here, large quantities of it being sold to the paduakans and other prahus which come from the Arru Islands, Amboyna and Banda, to obtain it. The usual price is one third of a guilder per Catti (20 oz. avoird.) and this is paid in goods, for specie is very little used.

The Christian inhabitants form the greater portion of the population, and they live on a better footing with the heathens than on the other islands. The latter, indeed, are very desirous to embrace Christianity, and a great number of them were baptized by M. Kam during our stay. They willingly allow their children to learn reading and writing, and the good disposition of these islanders, coupled with their natural capacity and application, would render it a matter of facility to convert the entire population; an event very much to be desired, not only for the improvement it would effect in their social state, but for matters of policy also, as experience has incontestibly proved that those natives who have embraced Christianity shew much more fidelity towards the Dutch Government than the others. The teacher who has lately been placed upon this island by our government, and whom we met during our stay, shews much[Pg 87] praise-worthy zeal in his endeavours to improve the condition of the people with whom he is domiciled.

The government of the entire island is invested in an upper Orang Kaya, who resides at Jerusa, the neighbouring villages having each their Orang Tua or elder. The power of the Orang Kaya, however, is by no means absolute, for in the event of any dispute the chiefs of the villages assemble, and the decision is carried by the majority of votes. It is remarkable that sometimes, on the death of a chief, his power is transferred to his wife, so that several women are often to be seen among the chiefs when assembled in conclave. The debates are occasionally continued for two or three days, but they are usually settled without much difference of opinion.

As the people live in such a state of harmony with each other, my official duties were not very heavy, and were soon brought to a close. David Benedictus De Klerk, a young man, was appointed as their Upper Orang Kaya, and solemnly invested with the silver-knobbed cane, to the general satisfaction of the people. Here also they declared that everything the country afforded was at our free disposal, and earnestly requested that a couple of[Pg 88] Dutch soldiers might be left behind, as representatives of our government, with the promise that they should be liberally supplied with all necessaries. The new appointed Orang Kaya, and more than one hundred and fifty men, women and children, were baptized by M. Kam, many of the people present being clad after the European style, apparently wishing by these means to shew their attachment to our nation, as was the case at the island of Kissa.

I could not avoid observing that the women of Roma though tall and well made, and not inferior in point of personal attractions to those of the adjacent islands, yet have a defect in their figures where their fair neighbours are particularly favoured by nature. Nearly all the women we saw here, even those who were nursing children, had bosoms as flat as those of the men, while in every other respect their figures are unexceptionable. This striking peculiarity, is perhaps to be attributed to some local cause, like the goitre in the mountains of Switzerland.

Our departure was fixed for the 30th of June, and on the previous evening a farewell repast was given at the Kota Compania, at which all the chiefs were present. I had contributed some bottles of wine, and a small cask of arrack to the entertainment,[Pg 89] and these were expended in drinking prosperity to the Dutch nation and government. We returned on board betimes, escorted by a number of native prahus. Although we had been amply provided with stock and vegetables during our stay, several goats and hogs were sent after us, which we found it impossible to refuse.

We steered to the westward along Nusa Midta, which is a small uninhabited island covered with trees, but not affording any fresh water. On this and the other islands around Roma abundance of large turtle are caught by the natives, who do not, however, turn much attention to fishing, commerce and agriculture being better suited to their tastes. In the small but important islands which we visited, the natives might soon be brought into a high state of prosperity, from which our government would derive the greatest benefit. Even now they possess capacious vessels, such as Paduakans,[14] Orang-baays and such like, which they manage with skill,[Pg 90] but they have been so long deprived of the protection of our government that they scarcely dare to carry on a trade with the inhabitants of the neighbouring islands.

From this place we pursued our voyage towards the island of Damma, of which some particulars will be given in the ensuing chapter.


[13] Corporal Duif erected this building in the year 17..

[14] Paduakans are native vessels, having a single mast in the form of a tripod, on which is set a large oblong mat sail, similar to that used by the fishing prahus of Batavia. They are of from twenty to one hundred tons burden (ten tot fifty lasten) with great beam and high sides, but having little hold in the water. They are steered by two long rudders, which are lifted up when the vessel is at anchor or passing over shallow water.

[Pg 91]



Arrival at the Island of Damma.—Description of the Country and Inhabitants.—Warm Springs.—Retrograde Movements of the Natives in point of Civilization.—Their Attachment to the Religion and Manners of the Dutch.—Productions of the Soil.—Dangerous Channel along the Coast.—The Columba Globicera.—Wild Nutmeg Trees.—General Meeting of the Chiefs.—Transactions of M. Kam.

During the voyage I had every reason to be satisfied with the knowledge, experience, conduct and foresight of my pilot, and therefore I entered with confidence the Bay of Kulewatte, on the east side of Damma, although I could not help immediately remarking that it must be very difficult to sail out of the Bay during the easterly monsoon. The pilot, however, confidently assured me, that we should have a steady land wind to carry us out, while there was no other anchoring place near the island; I therefore brought the brig to an anchor[Pg 92] under the north point of a small cove lying within the great bay, the latter, which extends about four miles into the land, with high and precipitous shores, being very rocky, and in many parts unfathomable.[15]

Damma is high and hilly, and on the north-east extremity lies a volcanic peak, from the crater of which smoke issues almost without interruption. At the foot of this mountain, near the cove in which we lay, some warm sulphureous springs gushed up through holes in the rocks, the water of which was at so high a temperature, that some yams which I placed in them were cooked within a comparatively short period. Two of our ship's crew, who were so afflicted with rheumatism as to be not only unfit for duty, but in a state of great misery, were sent by our doctor to these springs every morning; and he assured me that the use of the water contributed greatly to the improvement of their health.

Upon the point of the cove in which we were anchored, we perceived the remains of a block-house[Pg 93] and other buildings, which had been erected under the direction of the late East India Company, but of which nothing was now left but some heaps of rubbish; while the neighbouring country, once fertile and well-cultivated, presented the appearance of a neglected wilderness, traces of former industry being yet apparent among the luxuriant vegetation. To the westward of us was a stream of clear and pure water, from which we filled up our casks. On the north side of this is placed the village of Selat, once flourishing and prosperous, but now consisting of only about twenty houses. A few Christians are still to be met with among the inhabitants, but by far the greater portion are either heathens, or individuals once Christians, who have returned to their former habits.

On the north side of the island lies Wilhelmus Bay, which was formerly the seat of the Dutch Residency, the village on its shore being considered as the capital of the island. A narrow foot-path, much broken by the unevenness of the ground, leads through a romantic wild valley from Selat to this bay.

At first the natives were very shy, fearful and suspicious, and they received us, as the inhabitants of Atjieh once did an officer of the Dutch navy,[Pg 94] with strung bows and levelled spears, and, like the people of Atjieh, they placed confidence in us as soon as they learned that we were Dutch, and officers of the Government. "Orang Wolanda! Orang Compania!" said they to one another; when they laid by their weapons, and received us without suspicion. For a period of thirty years they had not seen a single Dutchman. Their island was seldom visited by trading vessels, and the Christian population had almost become extinct. Owing to a want of regular government, and of instruction for their youth, the people had returned to their original state of ignorance and barbarism; but nevertheless it could be perceived that they esteemed highly every relic of the Dutch rule which they had in their possession.

The islands which we touched at during the previous part of our voyage are annually visited by Dutch country vessels, and our establishments remained longer on them than on Damma. Kissa, for example, was occupied by a civilian and a detachment of soldiers in the early part of the rule of the present Government; this has certainly been removed a considerable time, but it is evident that the latter island must have a great advantage over the others, especially Damma, which, as I have stated[Pg 95] above, had not been visited by a single European for a period of thirty years. We cannot, therefore, be surprised at the people of this neglected island having retrograded in point of civilization; for experience has always proved, that when natives, and especially native Christians, have been left to themselves, without the advantages of proper instruction, they have very soon returned to their former condition. On this point our islanders had been highly unfortunate, as their uncontrolled desires led to continued differences, and brought all friendship and unity to an end.

The day after our arrival at Damma I departed on an excursion to Wilhelmus Bay in the sailing-boat. We found the bay to be entirely exposed, and with very bad anchoring ground, while in both monsoons a heavy sea often tumbles in. A small vessel, however, may find more secure anchorage near the mouth of a small fresh water river.

On the west side of the river we discovered the remains of some strong masonry, from which it appeared that this must have been the site of a stronghold. I could gain no correct information from the natives, (who are wretched chronologists, and can rarely tell their own age), as to the period in which this was standing, much less as to that in which it[Pg 96] was built. They could only tell me that the Dutch garrison here had been very numerous, and that it had been removed on a sudden by the Government, on account of a great mortality which had occurred. Some aged natives also remembered that at one time Company's ships often came here. These ruins were, probably, the remains of the fort Wilhelmsburg or Nassau, which was built here by our old India Company, in the year 1646, as at that time the island produced a considerable quantity of spices. The establishment, which consisted of a factor, a lieutenant, and seventy soldiers, was shortly afterwards withdrawn, on account of a great mortality which existed, but subsequently a block-house was erected for the military, as upon the other islands.

The church, houses and block-house had been built with the remains of the fort, but even this was now in a most dilapidated condition. The inhabitants themselves were in a state of great poverty, and without occupation; a considerable number, indeed, had emigrated to other islands, that they might obtain the necessaries of life by becoming bondsmen[16] or slaves.

[Pg 97]

M. Kam, with several of the officers, had come overland, and arrived here at the same time with ourselves. The whole of the inhabitants, old and young, ran out to see us, and touch our clothes; and they shouted with joy at the Company having paid them a visit. Each of us was soon adopted as a sobat, or friend, by one of the natives. On the first day it was impossible for us to get away from them for a moment; especially after I had served out to them a Sopi Compania, that is, a glass of arrack. Their joy was sincere and universal.

The village at which we had arrived, called by the natives Kaayn, consisted of about forty houses, and was considered as being the capital of the island, the chiefs of all the other villages assembling here on the occasion of a general consultation. The Kota Compania was situated near the sea, and like all the others we had met with, was surrounded by a wall. Above the door of the building, on a half decayed plank, were carved the following words:—"Ghebout 1773 Mat Got Halp."[17] The name, which was written under it, was illegible. In front[Pg 98] of the gate of the inclosure was a post, four feet high, surmounted by a square stone, on which the arms of the Dutch East India Company were engraved. This had been cleaned and white-washed on our arrival; and the church, which stood in the centre of the village, was supplied with a new roof, and otherwise repaired and beautified.

The other villages which the island contains, are all small and of little importance, and are scattered over the face of the country. As the land is hilly and covered with rocks, cultivation is not carried on to a very great extent; indeed, the ground scarcely yields sufficient for the consumption of the inhabitants: but still there are numerous fertile spots, which might be rendered productive were the inhabitants more industrious. A few plantations of sago and cocoa-nut trees, and of Indian corn and vegetables, were met with in the villages, but these were the only products that I saw under cultivation. Their domestic animals consist of goats and hogs, which they sometimes dispose of to the trading prahus. The forests which cover the island afford materials wherewith they construct prahus, which were formerly employed in trading with the neighbouring islands, but since last year their little bartering trade has been discontinued. At the time[Pg 99] of my visit these poor people possessed no larger vessels than canoes with outriggers, which they employed in fishing or in carrying them from village to village; so that it is possible that, for some time past, their voyages have been confined solely to the coasts of their own island.

The natives do not often employ themselves in fishing, which is much to be wondered at when it is considered they have a great taste for fish, while abundance of an excellent quality are to be caught in the waters which surround their island; of which, indeed, we had sufficient proof on board the brig, where the seine afforded us a constant supply of the most delicate fish. The indifference of the natives upon this point, is perhaps to be attributed to the abundance of wild hogs and birds which the island affords. Among these is found the Notenkraker[18] (Columba Globicera) hovering in great numbers around the wild nutmeg trees, of the fruit of which, by the way, they are the only consumers, the natives having no taste for spices. With a little[Pg 100] industry this article might form a very valuable article of export.

We frequently made shooting excursions into the country during the early part of the morning, and seldom returned without having shot some game, or made some interesting discovery. Among the large trees that clothe the hills, we found abundance of the Kanarie tree, which produces a fruit similar to the almond, and yielding an oil which the natives use as butter in the preparation of their simple fare. The gardens of the inhabitants, which we occasionally visited, were not well laid out, but still were kept in good order; a proof that with more inducements to industry, and a better knowledge of agriculture, they would grow many more useful productions than they do at present.

The northwestern parts of the island are more flat than the others, but the population is very small. Two or three huts, only, may occasionally be seen, occupied by the owners or protectors of the sago and cocoa-nut trees.

On the morning of the 8th of July the chiefs of the different villages assembled together, and the meeting, like those we had previously called together on the other island, was conducted with all the ceremony possible. The good wishes of the[Pg 101] government were made known to them, after which I enquired into their affairs, adjusted their differences, and had the gratification of finding that my exertions, though they occupied much time, were attended with the best results. I flatter myself that our arrival on the island has been of the greatest service to the good-natured, but uncivilized and half savage islanders; everything, indeed, shewed that the protecting care of the government for even its most distant subjects, would make a strong impression on their minds. They solemnly and thankfully promised that they would hereafter live in unity, and would punctually follow the advice which I, in the name of the government, had given to them. Having named the Upper Orang Kaya and the other chiefs, distributed the presents and tokens of distinction, and provided them with a Dutch flag to hoist before their village, I made preparations for my departure.

The squally weather which had prevailed during the previous night had increased the swell considerably, so that during our return on board, the boat was twice half filled with water and on the point of sinking; indeed, it was not without much difficulty that we passed round. I mention this for the information of those who may hereafter undertake[Pg 102] the same excursion. On a previous occasion I had walked across the country from the bay in which the brig lay, to Wilhelmus Bay, and, although the foot-path was by no means a smooth one, leading continually over hills and mountains, we found the journey rather pleasant than otherwise, which is especially the case in the cool of the morning or evening.

At the general assembly, the chiefs brought me two old batons, which had been presented to some of the late chiefs by the East India Company; these I returned to their successors. There was no other engraving upon them than a cypher comprising the initials of the Dutch East India Company. To the Upper Orang Kaya I gave a new baton, bearing the arms of the present king. The people earnestly requested me to leave two soldiers with them to be the representatives of our government. They evinced great joy when I informed them, that Paulus, an Amboynese schoolmaster, whom I had brought from Roma for the purpose of leaving him here were it necessary, should remain among them; and in a short time they had a small but neat house prepared for him, and zealously employed themselves in furnishing him with every thing that was necessary.

[Pg 103]

I learned from a prayer book which I found among them, and which had been preserved with the greatest care, that the last visit they had had from a clergyman took place in the year 1789. The duties of M. Kam, after so long a lapse, were therefore very arduous, but the people, though extremely ignorant, appeared to entertain the greatest reverence for the Christian religion. During our short stay, M. Kam baptized more than two hundred and fifty people, old as well as young. The new schoolmaster, Paulus, had been provided with a prayer book, with some pens, ink and paper, and before our departure he had already commenced instructing the inhabitants, his labours, as far as we could judge, promising to be attended with the best results.

On this island we had a still stronger proof than on the others, of the great attachment the natives shew to our customs and mode of dress. At the general meeting, all the inhabitants present, men, women and children, were clad in their festive dresses, and some of their costumes were of the drollest description. About twenty of the men wore old felt hats with broad brims, not unlike those used by the Westphalian peasants. According to their own account, these hats had been given to[Pg 104] their forefathers by the first Europeans who arrived here and built the fort, the remains of which we had seen. Others wore extremely old fashioned coats, without any under covering for their bodies; these garments being so ancient and threadbare, that they appeared as if a hard shake would cause them to fall to pieces. These antiquated vestments had been preserved, like Westphalian hams, by being hung up in the smoke over their fireplaces, and after being sufficiently dried, had been kept in small chests, by which means they had remained uninjured by damp or insects.

The 8th of July, the last day of our stay on the island, was spent in giving them solemn injunctions to live in unity and concord, after which we took a hearty farewell, the natives expressing their thankfulness and attachment to the Dutch Government, by repeated shouts of "Salamat Compania!" and "Salamat Gouvernment!" expressed with the utmost candour.

I now commissioned the Upper Orang Kaya to keep all the serviceable prahus in readiness, that they might assist us in towing the brig out of the harbour, in case there should be any necessity for such assistance. At two o'clock the following morning, the east wind having subsided, we weighed[Pg 105] anchor and got under sail with a light air from the northward; after I had fired a signal gun, as agreed on, a large number of prahus soon made their appearance. A strong swell rolled into the bay; and as there was very little wind, we did not reach the mouth of the harbour until half-past five o'clock. The tide experienced among these islands is very slight, and at the same time very irregular. The east-south-east wind having set in again, we sent away the prahus that had been towing us, with many thanks, and worked out of the bay with short tacks. When under the north shore we were suddenly becalmed, and the swell was so heavy that the brig drifted rapidly towards the steep rocky shore, until she was within three ship's lengths of it, when a breeze arose and carried her clear. It will be advisable for the mariner to give the northern shore of the bay rather a wide berth, and to be careful not to get baffled under the high shores.

The small islands to the southward of Damma, together with Teon, an island lying to the east-north-east, are uninhabited. In the fine monsoon, turtle in great abundance are caught upon them, especially the Karet turtle, which yields the shell so much valued for the manufacture of combs, &c. This animal, which may be sometimes perceived[Pg 106] sleeping on the water, defends itself vigorously when attacked, with its beak. Its flesh is not so delicate as that of the sea (or green) turtle, which is also very numerous among these islands, but the shell of the latter is of little value. The turtle-catchers lie in wait for them when they come on shore, and take an opportunity of turning them on their backs, when they cannot rise again. They sometimes reach the enormous weight of eight hundred pounds. The female lays her eggs, hundreds at a time, on the sea shore; concerning which I shall hereafter offer some remarks.

During the east monsoon there is usually fine weather, which stood us in good stead, as we proceeded from one place to another with tolerable rapidity. With favourable wind and weather we steered from Damma towards the island of Lakor, without anything of moment occurring during the voyage.


[15] I shall occasionally make a slight mention of our anchoring places, which, until now, have seldom or never been visited, as it will be of great service to my brother officers, in the event of their making a similar voyage to my own. I am sure those readers to whom such details are of little importance, will willingly bear with me in this.

[16] Bondsmen are those who borrow a sum of money, and serve their creditors until it is repaid. As it is very difficult, indeed almost impossible, for them to do this, they remain ever after in a state of bondage, little better, in fact, than actual slavery, as according to their customs the creditor may assume the power of disposing of them to another.

[17] Erected in 1773 with the help of God.

[18] This bird, which bears much resemblance to a blue pigeon, is celebrated in the Moluccas for the part it takes in planting the nutmeg tree. They strip the nut and swallow it, but the mace alone is digested, and the nut, which is discharged entire, soon sprouts and becomes a tree. When these are discovered they are usually transplanted into nutmeg parks.

[Pg 107]



Description of the Island Lakor.—Coral Banks.—Shyness of the Inhabitants.—Productions.—Singular Expedition.—Childish Litigiousness and obstinate Implacability.—Native Hospitality.—Customs and Dress of the People.

The island Lakor bears a perfect resemblance to a dry coral bank, raised about twenty feet above the level of the sea. Patches of sand are only to be met with here and there, and ground fit for the formation of gardens is even more scarce. The sandy places are planted with cocoa-nut groves, but besides these there are few large trees; short plants and shrubs, which are probably of importance only to the botanist, covering the remainder of the island, except a few parts, where spots of ground are planted with yams or other roots. Most of the[Pg 108] necessaries of life are imported from the other islands.

Under these circumstances it cannot be expected that the population of the island is very great. According to the statements of the most trustworthy islanders it amounts only to between eight hundred and a thousand souls, but a correct account is not to be looked for, as the chiefs themselves do not know with exactness the number of their people. Throughout the island there are only two Christians, the remainder being all heathens.

With a light south-south-east wind we sailed to the eastward along the north side of the island, as close as possible to the shore, to look for a good anchoring place, for the pilot was as little acquainted with the island as myself. We could not approach sufficiently near to the easternmost of the two villages which lie here, so we anchored in seven fathoms, on a patch of sand and stones, off the western one, and moored the brig with a warp fixed to the reef which lines the shore. The shore is very steep to, which rendered our anchorage unpleasant and insecure. This occurs on every part of the north coast of the island. The inhabitants informed me, that during the west monsoon there is good[Pg 109] anchorage between Moa and Lakor, opposite to the village of Mowai, but I had no leisure to examine it in person during our stay.

In the evening of the 10th of July, after we had come to an anchor, I went on shore with the interpreters, when I found, to my great disappointment, that all the inhabitants had taken flight on our appearance, with the exception of three aged women, whose language was totally unintelligible to us. In the course of an hour, after they had been wandering about the neighbourhood like strayed sheep, several men approached us, who informed us, as we understood them, that their chiefs were now upon the island Moa, but would probably return during the night. This did not appear to be very probable, and I thought it more likely that they had fled into the interior, which proved to be the case; for the following day, having left the interpreters on shore all night to inspire them with confidence, I was fortunate enough to collect chiefs and people, when I informed them of the purport of my visit.

This island was formerly under subjection to Moa, and the Orang Tua resorted to it occasionally, to offer homage to the representatives of the[Pg 110] Dutch Government there; but now every nigri, or small district, was under its own government, and perfectly independent of the chiefs of Moa. Neither the Dutch East India Company, nor the Government, ever had a garrison on Lakor. It was on this account that our unexpected arrival proved so alarming to the natives, and their uneasiness had been increased by knowing that some of their villages were in a state of war with each other; a breach of the peace that was always punished severely in the time of the Company.

It was not without great difficulty that I was enabled to inspire the natives with confidence, and to this end, whenever good words would not answer the purpose, I made use of serious threats, which have much more effect on these ignorant people than any negociations. Lakor was of too little importance to us for me to remain there long, I therefore hurried my proceedings as much as possible, and in two days time every thing was completed. I named a certain Bastiaan Bimar as their Upper Orang Kaya, and installed the various village chiefs with the customary solemnities, after which I gave them strong injunctions to live in peace, unity and subordination to their[Pg 111] rulers, and presented them with some rice, arrack and cloth, together with a Dutch flag, the latter of which was a very acceptable present.

During my short stay I was constantly employed in deciding all sorts of petty differences, for the people live in a state of great disunion, and without the interference of the Government, or of European traders, they remain obstinately irreconcilable on the slightest quarrel. Neither do they acknowledge the authority of their chiefs unless they have been installed by the Dutch Government.

During a journey which I made inland, accompanied by my huntsman and my interpreter, to endeavour to find some game, and to view the condition of the interior, my attention was excited by a great number of caves, containing live pigs, which on this island arrive at a tolerably large size. We encountered also large flocks of sheep, which form a most important branch of the wealth of the people. They also possess buffaloes, but these are chiefly herded on the southern parts of the island. Throughout the journey I found the ground to consist of hard coral rocks overgrown with short plants, among which small[Pg 112] plantations of yam and Indian corn were occasionally met with, while the beach was planted with cocoa-nut trees.

No wells are to be found on the island: the natives, therefore, collect the water, which falls during the rains, in large pits, where it seems to keep very well for a long time.

While on the excursion mentioned above, a troop of people, about two hundred and fifty in number, belonging to the villages on the south coast of the island, passed by us, every man being armed, as they were then at war with the people of the northern parts of the island. On approaching the village they ranged themselves two and two, carrying themselves with an air of haughtiness, while a man walked at their head waving an old Dutch flag fastened to the end of a bamboo. Behind him was borne a chair, on which was placed a baton of the former East India Company, and an old felt hat, and in the middle of the procession a child of three years old was carried by a female. I followed them at a little distance without being observed. On arriving in the village the chair was placed before the idol, the people squatting round it, without laying[Pg 113] aside their weapons. When I approached them some time afterwards, I found them in the same position.

The chair, with its contents, had formerly been the property of the late Orang Kaya of the south coast. The child we had seen was his son, who was proposed to me as his successor. Until he could fulfil the office, the Government was entrusted to his uncle.

As usual, the differences among the islanders were soon settled by me, and the event of this general reconciliation was celebrated by a great feast, at which they pledged themselves to continued friendship. The reconciliation between these people was conducted in a similar manner to that between children who have quarrelled. Having first asked permission to speak, they commenced blaming and accusing each other, after which they held out their right hands, and requested me to join them. This being performed they took a little siri from each other's boxes, when the ceremony of reconciliation was completed. The elders of the parties commenced, and they were followed by their juniors, but the women had nothing to do with the matter, being totally disregarded.

[Pg 114]

The siri boxes, which are in general use among these islanders, are made of plaited rushes, their length being five and their breadth four inches. They are carried behind them, stuck into the tjedako or waist-belt; and whenever two friends meet, the one takes some siri out of the box of the other.

Another custom obtains among these people, which bears a resemblance to the universal hospitality of the Arabs. Strangers, who may visit their island, or touch there during their voyages, are supplied with as many yams and cocoa-nuts as they can consume, without any remuneration being expected in return. On more than one occasion I had opportunities of being an eyewitness to these acts of hospitality. The Orang Kaya of Mowai, on the island of Moa, being unable to visit me during my stay on that island, came over to see me on Lakor in his jonko, which was hauled up on the beach, while he took up his residence in a cleft in the rocks. He had brought no provisions for himself or his people, and when I asked him how they would maintain themselves, he told me that he had no difficulty on that point, since he took what he required out of the plantations of the[Pg 115] inhabitants, who would do the same when they visited him. The rice and other provisions which I gave him during his stay, were very thankfully received. On my demanding his reason for thus taking up his residence outside the village, he informed me that he was not on the best of terms with the people of Lakor, while at the same time he was acting up to an old usage, their attachment to which was proved by the fact of two Christians, who were of the party, refusing, as well as the others, to pass the night in the houses of their hosts.

Although there were only two Christian inhabitants on the island, these, like their neighbours of the same persuasion, distinguished themselves from the others by their mode of dress. The common costume is much the same throughout the group. That of the men consists of a badju or loose coat of calico, flowered or striped blue and red, with pantaloons and sarong of the same materials; while the women wear a badju, and a sarong or petticoat, the upper edge being carelessly twisted round the waist. The Mohammedans are distinguished from the others by a handkerchief on the head, arranged like a turban. The Christians, on the other hand, equally[Pg 116] prize an European hat, those of the upper classes being distinguished by coats, breeches, shoes and stockings, after our fashion, while the Christians of the lower ranks, who wear the usual native dress, have their clothes dyed black, those of the heathens and Mohammedans being invariably of a lighter colour.

[Pg 117]



Arrival at the Island Luan.—Dangerous Passage.—Our Reception by the People.—Commerce and Fisheries.—The Christians of Luan.—Their Customs and Dispositions.—Hospitality and Good Nature of the Inhabitants.—Hazardous Situation on leaving the Island.

After having thus completed our duties on Lakor in as short a time as possible, we pursued our voyage to Luan, and stood towards the reefs which enclose that island, with the view of passing over them. Here I had another opportunity of proving that implicit confidence was not to be placed in the pilot, who had assured me that he was well acquainted with the place; for, while standing towards the reefs under easy sail, our depth suddenly decreased to four fathoms, and the anchor, which was immediately let go, had scarcely touched[Pg 118] the ground, when it was found that there were only sixteen feet water under the bows. Had it not been for our cautious mode of proceeding, the brig would assuredly have been run upon the rocks. Fortunately the wind was favourable, and the anchor was soon weighed again, when we stood out to sea. The boats were sent away to look out for a channel, but as none was discovered, I determined to stand off and on with the brig.

The island Luan, which is about fourteen miles in circumference, being high, is visible at a considerable distance. An extensive reef, studded with islets, surrounds it, within which there is a depth of two fathoms, affording good anchorage to small trading vessels. The islets to the north-east of Luan are about four miles distant from the main island. Close outside these the reef is steep to, so that they may be safely approached by a ship.

Luan is inhabited by from two hundred to three hundred families, who reside in villages placed very near to each other on the north-east side of the island, at the foot of the mountain. The adjacent islets are not peopled, but they are occasionally visited by the inhabitants of Luan, who have gardens on them, while they also afford a resting place to those engaged in the trepang fishery.

[Pg 119]

After we had again got under sail, and I had clearly ascertained that there was no possibility of our running in over the reef without incurring the risk of sticking fast, we fired two guns, upon which two boats put off from the shore, containing the native chiefs, who came on board to pay their respects. I acquainted them in a few words with the object of my visit, and promised to go on shore to transact business on the following day, the 17th of July, when I left the brig with M. Dielwaart, the secretary and the interpreters, in two boats manned with European seamen, under a salvo from the guns, and other customary ceremonies. We soon reached the shore, where we were welcomed by a number of people of both sexes, who had assembled on the beach to receive us, and were conducted by them into their villages, which were only separated from each by stone walls. In the centre village, chairs, benches and tables had been placed for our accommodation, under the shelter of awnings composed of boats' sails. We here held a preliminary meeting of the chiefs, according to the instructions of the Government, and then took possession of two houses which had been prepared for our reception,[Pg 120] abundance of provisions being supplied us by the people, as had been the case on the islands we had previously visited.

The inhabitants of Luan, who bear much resemblance to those of Roma, have arrived at a tolerably high state of civilization. The greater part take pride in calling themselves Christians; but they nevertheless live on good terms with the heathens, who here, as elsewhere, are considered as their subjects and inferiors. The inhabitants reside in four villages, situated in a line close to each other, each village having a separate chief. These are exceedingly jealous of each other, and strangers who visit them must pay especial attention to this particular, and carefully abstain from taking more notice of one than of another, since opposite conduct would assuredly lead to serious discord among these otherwise good-natured and peaceful islanders. This circumstance rendered the distribution of the Government presents a matter of greater difficulty than I had found it to be elsewhere.

Traders from Macassar, Amboyna and Banda, annually visit the island to purchase tortoise-shell and trepang. This last production is here found of[Pg 121] a better quality than on any of the adjacent islands, and it affords a great source of riches to the natives. The trade of the island is carried on upon the barter system, specie being little used. Cloth, which is in great demand, forms the chief import, so that even European merchants might make great profit by disposing of these articles here.

The trepang, which is so much sought for by the Chinese, and forms one of the chief articles of their trade with these parts, is a sort of sea-slug, of which I shall give a more full description hereafter. The Chinese consider them as a great delicacy, and they therefore have as great a taste for them as for the edible birds'-nests, the last of which are sometimes sold at the rate of four thousand Spanish dollars the picul (133lbs. avoirdupoise.) When a trader arrives at Luan for the purpose of obtaining a supply of trepang, he commences by advancing goods to the natives, in proportions suited to the quantity he requires. The people then collect, and go out in search of the slug, which is found in the greatest abundance on the reefs, in from eight to ten feet water. When the tide is high they are taken by means of a fork or harpoon, but at low water[Pg 122] they are easily caught by the hand. The fishery, which is only continued until a sufficient quantity has been obtained to supply the trader, rarely lasts more than three or four days, and it can only be followed with good success during the change of the monsoon. They never keep a stock in hand; and should no traders arrive among them during the year, the fishery is totally neglected. They have, indeed, but few inducements to carry it on with vigour, for a single fishing excursion will supply their wants. It is surprising that the people of the neighbouring islands do not come here occasionally to partake of the abundance of trepang which the reefs afford; for, although the people of Luan claim the exclusive privilege of fishing in the surrounding waters, they take little trouble in preserving it. The traders, whose capital consists of cloth, iron ware, gongs, &c., obtain the trepang at the rate of from twenty to twenty-five guilders the picul, and therefore make an enormous profit on disposing of it to the Chinese. Hogs and goats also form an article of export from Luan. The first, especially, are fattened without much difficulty or expense, on the shells of young cocoa-nuts and on the pith of the sago-tree.

[Pg 123]

Fowls and ducks are in such abundance on the island, that the natives care little about taking the fish which swarm in the adjacent waters. Their habitations, like those of their neighbours, are very small, rarely exceeding twenty feet in length and ten in breadth. The roofs are thatched with the leaves of the palm-tree, which is found to resist the rays of the sun better than tiles or slates, while at the same time it affords perfect shelter from the rains which fall almost daily during the west monsoon. The floor of the house is raised four or five feet from the ground on wooden piles; and the interior, which contains only a few benches, and a stone fire-place for cooking their simple meals, is lighted by holes in the walls and roof, and by two doors, one at each end of the house, which are left open night and day.

Although among the inhabitants there are many who call themselves Christians, there is no building exclusively appropriated to worship, divine service being usually performed in one of the largest of the houses. Very few of them can read or write, and their knowledge of our religion consists only in doctrines that have been[Pg 124] handed down from father to son. During our stay M. Kam baptized more than one hundred and fifty of these islanders, and united several couples in matrimony. It was laughable to see the men and women, young and old, taking my seamen by the arm, and dragging them to the spot where the religious ceremonies were being performed, that they might become their godfathers. The sailors, who, for the most part, were lively young men, put rather a long face on the matter; but I must say it to their praise, that they behaved with the greatest respectability, and never forgot themselves for a moment. As my men always conducted themselves well, I willingly allowed them recreation on shore; and experience has proved to me that those who have the least indulgence of this description, are always the most difficult to manage.

During the 17th, 18th, and 19th of July, I was constantly employed in arranging the affairs of the people of Luan, and in renewing the friendship which formerly existed between them and ourselves. In the name of the Government I distributed the presents, confirmed the chiefs in their governments with the customary solemnities, and drew up their certificates of appointment.[Pg 125] Many of the batons presented to former chiefs by the old East India Company, were still in the possession of the natives, together with their certificates, the latest of which bore the date of 1777, so that in all probability the island had not been visited by a Dutchman for a period of nearly fifty years.

It appeared to me to be very remarkable, that they stedfastly refused to permit my appointing any one as their head chief. In spite of all my arguments in favour of such an appointment, they continued obstinate, and it would not have been possible for me to succeed, unless I had resorted to absolute command. They assured me that up to this time they had always lived in peace and unity under the separate government of their various chiefs, and I therefore allowed them to have their own way, which appeared to give universal satisfaction. I subsequently endeavoured to induce them to carry their goods for sale to Amboyna or Banda, and gave them other advice which had for its object the increase of their prosperity; and I had the satisfaction of perceiving that they duly appreciated it. Men and women showed a confidence in, and friendship towards, our Government, which I should find it difficult to describe in appropriate terms. At[Pg 126] the general meetings some of them often came forward, and, kissing my hand, entreated that the Government would hereafter bear them in remembrance, and take an active part in the management of their affairs. I promised them that I would faithfully inform our colonial rulers of their numerous good qualities, and would at the same time request that a teacher should be sent to them to instruct their children in useful knowledge, and in the observances of the Christian faith.

The day before my departure from the island, the armed seamen were sent on board, to the great regret of the people, who earnestly requested me to stay a few days longer. Their farewells to our seamen were truly affecting; and those only who are acquainted with the warm dispositions of these people, can conceive how strong a friendship had grown up between them and us in so short a time. When, at length, on the afternoon of the 19th of July, I prepared to return on board, I was accompanied by at least seven-eighths of the people. Amid repeated good wishes they conducted us to our boats, showing us every attention in their power. They carried us into the boats on litters, and I was here again detained some time by the fair islanders, young and old, who crowded around me to take leave.

[Pg 127]

The proofs of friendship, confidence and regard, which all my fellow voyagers, as well as myself, experienced from the people of Luan, were greater than any we had met with elsewhere. The continued kindness of these islanders was the more striking, from its bearing undeniable marks of sincerity; indeed, it perfectly accorded with their usual conduct, for I never met with more harmony, contentment and toleration, more readiness to afford mutual assistance, more domestic peace and happiness, nor more humanity and hospitality, than among the simple inhabitants of Luan.

On the day of my departure a strong south-east wind arose and created a turbulent sea, for which reason the islanders wished me to delay my departure; but having once made up my mind to go, I entered the boat and put off for the brig. Some prahus endeavoured to accompany me, but the sea run so high that these were forced to return; and I continued with the boat alone. When we crossed the outside of the reef the boat was already half full, and it was not without much danger and difficulty that we reached the brig, by which time we were just upon the point of sinking. The other boat, in which M. Kam was embarked, remained on shore until the following day, when it[Pg 128] came off, accompanied by many of our native friends, who, in addition to the kindness they had already shown us, brought us presents of all sorts of fruits and refreshments which the island afforded. It was perfectly impossible to refuse them, and I returned the compliment as well as I could, by presenting them with various articles that I thought might be useful to them.

On the 19th of July we stood away from the island, impressed with strong feelings of thankfulness for the unconstrained and straightforward kindness of its peaceable and fortunate inhabitants. None but those who have been placed in a like situation can form a conception of the feelings we experienced, when this happy island faded from our view.

[Pg 129]



Voyage towards Banda.—Remarks on the Islands Sermatta, Teon and Nila.—Arrival at Banda.—Humanity of an Orang-Kaya.—Description of the Island Baba.—Great Fear and Distrust of the Inhabitants.—Their Manners and Customs.—The Island Wetang.—Cause of the Distrust of the Natives.—Murderous and plundering Propensities of the People of Aluta.—Disturbances between the Inhabitants of Tepan and Aluta.

From the hospitable island of Luan we steered our course for Banda. Nothing worthy of remark occurred during the voyage; but I will take this opportunity of making a few remarks on some islands which lay near our route, and which, many years past, were in connection with our Government.

The island Sermatta is composed of a high ridge of hills, extending east and west, the sides of which run steep off into the sea. As the island is thinly[Pg 130] inhabited, and at the same time affords no shelter to shipping, it is of little importance to strangers. The inhabitants are under subjection to the people of Luan, to which island they bring rice, edible roots, Indian corn and cattle, receiving in exchange cloth, and other necessary articles. During my stay at Luan I endeavoured, without success, to induce some of these islanders to come with me; they appeared to be very shy and fearful, which is not surprising when it is taken into consideration that their island is never visited by trading vessels, while the people themselves do not extend their voyages beyond Luan.

Teon, to the east-north-east of Damma, is hilly, and of moderate height. It is uninhabited, and the channel between it and Nila is rendered very unsafe by a number of reefs, which require the greatest precaution on the part of the navigator, should he attempt to pass through it.

The island Nila consists of a high round hill, on the north side of which there is anchorage for small vessels. It is inhabited by a few heathens, who, at the changing of the monsoons, visit Banda to dispose of their hogs, fowls and cocoa-nuts, which appear to form the sole products of the island.

On the 22nd of July we anchored in the Roads[Pg 131] of Banda, where we received on board provisions and water, and were provided with a fresh supply of goods as presents to the native chiefs. During our stay we experienced some heavy squalls from off the island of Great Banda, with very rainy weather.

At the request of the Resident, M. Camphuyzen, I took with me two English seamen, named William Both and Joseph Atkins. These men had belonged to the English brig Syren, Captain William Johns, which had been wrecked on the coast of New Guinea, where the crew fell into the hands of the barbarous inhabitants. They were sold and resold among the natives of the neighbouring islands, until at length these two men reached the island Kower, where the Orang Kaya of Kisser[19] purchased them and brought them to Banda. For this humane act the Resident, in the name of the Government, presented the chief with a gold medal.

At noon, on the 28th of July, we left the Roads of Banda, and had again to struggle against heavy squalls, with a high sea from the south-east. I was therefore obliged to stand to the southward towards[Pg 132] the island Baba, and as we stood on this course the swell gradually decreased, and the weather became more favourable. We had the current in our favour when we arrived among the islands to the southward of Banda, so that we experienced no difficulty in working up to windward. The careful manner in which it is necessary to proceed, however, caused us much delay. In the charts now existing, most of the islands are either placed wrong, or are entirely left out, while at the same time our pilots were not perfectly acquainted with the channels.

Proceeding thus cautiously, we did not reach Baba until the 4th of August. This island, which is hilly and tolerably high, is surrounded by several smaller islets, the most important of which are Wetang to the east, and Dain to the north. The best anchorage near Baba during the east monsoon, is on the west side of the island off the village of Tepa, and in steering towards this we ran close along the north shore of Wetang, and then stood over to Baba, when we worked up close under the land to the anchorage, and brought up in fifteen fathoms, with very good holding ground. Care is necessary in working up to the anchorage during this monsoon, as heavy squalls sometimes come off[Pg 133] the land. When the westerly winds prevail, it is said that the most secure roads are under the coast of Wetang; but as I was not here at that period, I had no opportunity of personally ascertaining the fact.

While we were standing under easy sail towards the roads, small prahus with outriggers, containing three or four men each, occasionally rowed towards us, the people hailing us from a distance to inquire who we were, and whether we intended to do them harm. Our endeavours to induce them to come on board were fruitless; nor did I, indeed, succeed in this until after the interpreters had been among them, and set their fears at rest. On arriving at the village I found that the inhabitants had totally deserted it, and had even taken their household goods with them. Not a woman nor a child was to be seen, but the men, with their arms in their hands, were perceived running through the bush at a distance.

The natives who first came on board were very timorous, and either through fear or ignorance could scarcely make themselves understood in Malay.[Pg 134][20] After I had made them a few presents, and acquainted them with the object of my visit, they went on shore, impressed with greater confidence in our intentions towards them, while the fears of those on shore were at the same time quieted by the interpreters. They returned on board soon afterwards, accompanied by the chiefs of the village and two of the oldest inhabitants, who brought with them one of the silver-knobbed batons, which were formerly distributed by the East India Company. With much confusion of manner they informed us that they had never seen an European during their lives, but that their forefathers had often spoken in high terms of the Dutch, and stated that they had been of old subjected to their East India Company. They moreover informed us, that they had at all times looked forward with the greatest eagerness to the period when their old friendship and alliance with our Government would be renewed.

When these chiefs left the brig, I sent the interpreters on shore with them, provided with arrack and tobacco to distribute among the islanders, and to do all in their power towards quieting their fears. At noon I followed them in person, and found that the women and children had not yet returned to[Pg 135] their houses, but ere long a number of them assembled around us. The people made free use of the arrack and tobacco, and gradually laid aside their fears, when I made them acquainted with the object of my visit, and informed them that I desired nothing from them, but came here at the command of our Government to do all in my power towards promoting their interests. I also testified my astonishment at the timidity and want of confidence they had displayed, and admonished them to cause their wives and families to return to their homes, as otherwise I should be unable to view them as friends.

Throughout the Molucca Islands the absence of the women and children from the villages may always be held as a convincing proof of bad intentions on the part of the natives. Violence on their part generally, however, arises more from their ignorance, fear, and consequent want of confidence, than from decided malevolence. Experience has already often proved to me that whenever affairs stand thus with the natives, the higher the tone of command with which you address them, the more you will inspire them with respect. I therefore made no difficulty of going ashore among them, unarmed and unaccompanied, and when I found that[Pg 136] my words began to make some impression on them, I placed before their eyes the impropriety of their want of confidence, and soon had the satisfaction to see them unanimously lay aside their weapons, and behave with greater freedom. In the evening I again went on shore, accompanied by several of the gentlemen, when I found that the women and children had returned to the village, and I never afterwards saw the least signs of distrust among them; indeed, their familiarity soon went so far that I was often obliged to spread the boarding nettings, when I did not wish to have the brig full of curious visitors.

The population of Baba is divided into two portions, one inhabiting the side of the island on which we lay, and the other taking up its residence on the south-east side, the interior being entirely unpeopled. These two parties have been long in a state of war, making frequent plundering excursions against each other, the chief object of these being the acquirement of captives, who are either kept as slaves by the conqueror, or are sold to the traders who visit the island. The population is not very great, but the exact amount cannot be ascertained. Each of the tribes is governed by an Orang Kaya, elected from among the richest and oldest of the[Pg 137] inhabitants. Tepa, the village before which we anchored, consisting of no more than twenty-five houses, is considered as the capital of the western tribe; but they also have dwellings on the island Wetang, while many others are scattered among the gardens in the vicinity.

The manners, customs, &c. of the people of Baba resemble those of the heathen inhabitants of the islands we had already visited. Their hair is of a reddish, flaxen colour, its natural blackness having been thus changed by rubbing lime into the head, which process is commenced when they are yet in their infancy.[21]

The western side of Baba is so precipitous and overgrown with forest, that cultivation has extended but very little; the more fertile island Wetang being selected as a more suitable spot for their plantations of roots, Indian corn and vegetables. The neighbouring waters supply excellent fish, abundance of which were daily caught by our seamen with the seine. The natives, however, pay little heed to the bounty which the sea affords. The interior of the[Pg 138] island is overrun with wild cattle, hogs and goats, the woods at the same time being well stocked with feathered game. Among the last was a kind of wood pigeon, which roosted in immense numbers in the trees, and afforded much sport in the morning to myself and the surgeon, who was also a lover of field sports.

On the south side of Tepa I met with the remains of a stronghold, but the natives could give me no information concerning the period of its erection. Near the same spot we also found a fine well, enclosed by masonry, which, although now in a state of disrepair, bore evident marks of having been constructed in a superior manner. The water it contained was beautifully clear and pure, so that we took the opportunity of filling up our empty water casks.

The natives live in a state of great poverty, but as their wants are few they are contented. A native vessel from Banda visits them only once or twice a year, to supply them with cotton cloth, which is almost the only article of foreign manufacture they require. They have, therefore, but little communication with strangers, which easily accounts for their being far inferior in point of civilization to the natives of the islands we had previously[Pg 139] visited. Their vessels consist of long prahus of from ten to twelve tons burthen, which are employed in visiting the neighbouring islands; and of small canoes, which are used for shorter voyages. Their arms are bows, arrows, iron javelins, and bamboo spears, while they possess also a few muskets, which they preserve with great care, but evidently intend more for show than use, as many are unprovided with locks. The women perform the heaviest portion of the labour, the industry of the men being only displayed in gathering cocoa-nuts, making palm wine, and repairing their weapons, without which they never go abroad. I never went on a shooting excursion into the interior without meeting with parties of armed men, going to, or returning from, their plantations. Nearly every man was accompanied by a dog, who, by his barking, gives his master warning of the approach of a stranger. On one occasion, early in the morning, I encountered in the forest a couple who afforded me some amusement. The man, who was naked, with the exception of a cloth round the loins, carried a large bow, a bundle of arrows with broad points of iron, a klewang or hanger by his side, and was preceded by his dog, while his wife, clad as lightly as her husband, brought up the rear, bearing a musket[Pg 140] and a large basket of yams on her shoulders. They tarried awhile with me to partake of some arrack and tobacco which I offered them, and as I always had an interpreter with me, I enquired whither they were going, and why so heavily armed? He informed me that they were bound for their plantations, and that it was necessary to go well armed, as they must show a good front against neighbours, who often fell upon them and robbed them of their wives; while at the same time they were liable to attacks from the wild beasts. The musket was unloaded, and had no lock; but it was perhaps as serviceable as if it had one, for he was afraid to fire off my fowling piece. They make up, however, for this deficiency by their skill in using the bow and arrow, with which I have frequently seen them strike a bird on a tree at a distance of fifty or sixty paces.

I frequently held communications with the chiefs, on which occasions I was always surrounded by the entire population, and had many opportunities of witnessing the docility of these islanders, and how open they are to conviction. They would willingly place themselves under the control of a mild government, and with such an advantage I feel convinced that they would even lay aside their barbarous[Pg 141] customs, and adopt a more quiet, orderly and industrious mode of life. If traders now and then suffer wrong at their hands, I believe that, in most cases, their own conduct has been the cause of it; since it has often come under my notice that the Amboynese and Banda traders frequently take advantage of their superior knowledge and experience, to lord it over the islanders, and cheat them of their goods, the simplicity of the latter rendering them an easy prey. If it were known how often strangers leave them without fulfilling their commercial engagements, the artless natives would readily be excused for occasionally taking a wild justice for their wrongs, and viewing all strangers with suspicion.

When among the islands which we visited during the previous part of the voyage, I had heard that an English vessel had been cut off by the natives of Baba, and it was not without the greatest difficulty that I succeeded in gaining some of the particulars concerning it from a few of the natives. It appeared that some months previous to my visit, an English trading brig, manned with ten European seamen, which had been bartering muskets and ammunition for tortoise-shell and cattle among the islands to the eastward of Timor, anchored off Aluta, the[Pg 142] capital of the tribe inhabiting the east side of Baba, and the commander, supposing the people to be as trustworthy as those of the other islands, sent half his crew ashore in the boat to obtain water, at a time when a large number of natives were on board the brig carrying on a trade. While the boat was away, the natives, for some unknown reason, attacked the commander and the four remaining seamen, and, although armed only with their knives, succeeded in killing them, which fate also befel the boat's crew on their return on board. The brig was then run on shore, plundered, and burnt. The greater part of her cargo, consisting of arms, tortoise-shell and cattle, together with her sails and rigging, which had been divided among the captors, were still in their possession.[22]

A trading prahu from Banda, which afterwards visited Aluta, was also cut off by the natives, and all her crew murdered with the exception of two individuals, one of whom was subsequently taken[Pg 143] away by another trading prahu, while the other still remained on the island, having married the daughter of one of the chiefs; from which there is reason for supposing that he was accessary to the deed.

After the people of Tepa had related to me these particulars, many of them came forward and kissed my hands, requesting me not to consider them as accomplices in the crime, as they never wished to have any communication with the people of the back part of the island. They declared that nothing would please them more than that I should go to Aluta, and assist them in chastising its treacherous inhabitants.

I endeavoured, by the promise of presents, and of entire forgiveness to the people of the east coast, to induce the chiefs of Tepa to visit Aluta, and bring back with them one of the head men of the place; but in this I was unsuccessful. To my great regret, therefore, I was unable to do any thing in the affair; for there was no path by which I could reach Aluta overland, and it would have been unadviseable, at this period of the year, to have proceeded there with the brig, while the length of the distance, and the insufficiency of their force in case of disturbance, prevented our sending the boats. The chiefs frequently promised me that[Pg 144] they would send a prahu there, to inform the people of the desire I had to see them make up their differences, and in the faith of this promise, from which nothing resulted, I delayed my departure from the island several days.

On the 8th, having called together the chiefs, I went on shore under an escort of twenty marines, and with the accustomed ceremonies, to read to them the communications sent to them by our Government, which I explained to them in the fullest manner. All appeared to be much moved at the friendly intentions and offers of assistance and protection expressed in the letter, and stated that nothing could better agree with their wishes than that they should be placed under the rule of the Dutch Government, to whom they would become faithful subjects. They assured me that they all felt convinced that this was the only course that could lead to their future prosperity, while they were at the same time aware, that in point of civilization they were inferior to many of their neighbours, which they themselves ascribed to the anarchy which had prevailed among them during a long series of years, and to the disappearance of the Christian religion from among them, through the decease of those who had professed it. They[Pg 145] also requested me, in the most earnest manner, to appoint some clever and experienced men from among them, to the chieftainship, and also to send them an Amboynese missionary or teacher, to instruct them in the tenets of Christianity, expressing deep regret at their having relapsed to paganism and wickedness, from the state of Christian harmony in which their forefathers had passed their lives.

In accordance with the general wishes of the people, I appointed a certain Tompatti Paulus as the Upper Orang-kaya of the west coast of Baba, and presented him with a silver-knobbed baton, and a large Dutch flag. After this I drew up provisional acts of appointment for the minor chiefs of villages. These solemnities, at which the entire population of Tepa were present, were held in the middle of the village, the audience sitting on benches and mats, those appropriated to the chief individuals being sheltered by an awning of prahus' sails. After the breaking up of these meetings, they usually offered up sacrifices of cattle to their idols, and passed the entire night carousing.

At this last meeting they declared that they would commence the proposed voyage to the back of the island the same night, and I promised to[Pg 146] delay my departure until their return; but either from fear, or from some reason which I could not discover, they again disappointed me. On the following morning, however, four Orang Baays, or large canoes, made their appearance, manned with from thirty to forty men each, and literally crammed full of weapons. After rowing round the brig several times, firing shots occasionally from such of their muskets as were in a serviceable state, they came alongside with a loud shout, when the Upper Orang-kaya, and several other chiefs, came on board, and, as subjects to the Netherlands' Government, offered their vessels for our use, to make a voyage to the back of the island. I expressed my surprise at this extraordinary equipment, and thanking them for the readiness they had shown, informed them that I always wished, in the first instance, to take kind and humane measures for bringing offenders back to their duty, and had no object in resorting to hostilities against their fellow islanders. As I could afford to spend no more time on the island, and the state of the monsoon prevented me from going with the brig to the back of the island, I determined to leave the affair to the decision of the Government. I was the more necessitated to leave the differences between these tribes unsettled,[Pg 147] from it being evident that an expedition to and from Aluta could not be performed in less than ten days. I exhorted them, in the mean time, to become reconciled to their neighbours as soon as possible; to inform them of the kindness and good intentions of our Government; and to prevail upon them to go to Banda to ask forgiveness for the offences they had committed, failing which they would assuredly be punished for their neglect.

While we lay off Tepa a number of canoes came daily alongside, loaded with fowls, hogs, fruit and vegetables, to sell to the ship's company. A fowl was given for an empty bottle; two or three for a common pocket knife; while the price of a hog of from twelve to fifteen pound weight, was a small quantity of calico, or a piece of coarse red chintz lining-stuff, of the value of a couple of guilders (3s. 4d.) As on the adjacent islands, money is not valued by the natives, with the exception of gold coin, which they melt down and form into ear-rings or other ornaments. Men as well as women have often three or four holes bored, one above the other, in their ears, in each of which they wear a golden ornament.

Atkins, one of the English seamen we had taken on board at Banda, died here, in consequence of[Pg 148] the fatigues he had endured during his captivity among the natives. When the people of Baba heard of his decease, they immediately offered to provide a coffin, and to bring him on shore; but for particular reasons, among which was a fear that they might disinter the body after our departure, I preferred committing it to the deep with the usual ceremony.

Early in the morning of the 15th of August we weighed anchor and left the island, amid the farewells of the people, who had assembled on the beach to witness our departure.


[19] The island of Keffing, near the east extremity of Coram, is probably here alluded to.

[20] The Malay language is the Lingua Franca of the entire Indian Archipelago, but it is only generally understood in those places which enjoy some commerce. The natives, who reside in the mountains, and those who have no communication with strangers, speak only a dialect of their own.

[21] Lime is generally used for this purpose among the natives of these islands. It may, perhaps, be serviceable in preventing eruptions of the skin, to which they are very subject. Whenever they are afflicted with the headache they apply a plaster of lime to the temples as a remedy.

[22] This vessel, in all probability, was either the British colonial brig "Lady Nelson," or the trading schooner "Stedcombe," both of which left Melville Island in the year 1824, soon after the formation of our settlement there, to procure stock, and were never heard of afterwards. It will be seen in Chapter XIII. that the other was cut off by the natives of the east side of Timor Laut.—Translator.

[Pg 149]



Daai Island.—Singular Change in the Colour of the Sea.—Festivities on Board.—The Arru Islands.—Description of these remarkable Regions.—Customs of the Arafuras.—Total Absence of Religion.—Proofs of the Mildness of their Form of Government.—Singular Treatment of their Dead.

We ran along the coast of Baba under small sail, with the wind east-south-east, having squalls occasionally coming off the land. On rounding the point, we opened a high peak on the east side of the island. At noon we passed to the westward of Daai, a high island, slightly wooded, extending nearly east and west about four miles, on the north side of which there is a small inlet affording good anchorage for small vessels. The inhabitants, about one hundred in number, are very wild and evil-disposed, and are under subjection to the Orang-kaya[Pg 150] of the west coast of Baba, to whom they deliver the produce of their industry, chiefly live stock, at fixed prices.

On the forenoon of the 13th we passed Serua, an island thinly populated, and not very accessible for vessels. The people, who are heathens, and independent of the other islanders, visit Banda every year at the change of the monsoons, to dispose of their hogs and goats.

We now had the breeze unusually strong, with a high sea, and a current setting to the north-west. For two nights since the waters of the sea had had a curious white appearance, which at first excited little notice, but on the night of the 13th, as the breeze freshened from the east-south-east, this peculiar appearance increased until the sea possessed the colour of milk. This phenomenon was accompanied by thick drizzling rain, so that by ten o'clock P.M. nothing was visible but the dismal brightness of the waters around us. On board the brig the atmosphere was so dark, that we could not distinguish each other at a distance of three paces, and never having seen a like phenomenon, we were not a little surprised. The wind continued to blow strongly until two o'clock A.M., when the atmosphere began to clear up, so that at length we began to[Pg 151] recognize one another's countenances. The strange appearance of the water continued until the break of day, and even afterwards it continued white and troubled. During the night, and also on the subsequent day, I took up some of the water in a clean glass, that I might examine it with a microscope; but I found it to be entirely free from dirt or animalculæ, though it still retained a clear, sparkling whiteness. On several subsequent occasions, especially during the night, we remarked a similar appearance, but not to so great an extent as on the one above-mentioned; I am therefore led to suppose that the strength of the wind materially contributed to it. The pilots, who had been acquainted with these seas for several years, informed me that they had never previously witnessed this appearance to so great an extent as at present, which may, perhaps, be owing to their never performing their voyages when the monsoon is blowing its full strength. They were, indeed, as much alarmed as astonished at seeing us beat the brig to windward; but I must here remark, that the Dourga was a very fast and weatherly sea-boat.

In consequence of the current, which usually sets with the wind, and runs with great strength about the parallel of Banda, we were driven so far to[Pg 152] leeward, that we were forced to pass to the northward of the Matabella Islands; after leaving which we were enabled to make much better way, but still found it a matter of difficulty to work up against the monsoon.

It was my intention to run as close as possible along the coast of New Guinea, but I was unable to effect my object. On the 22nd we made Pulo Adi, a low and thinly peopled island, lying to the north of the Great Ki, near to the mainland of New Guinea.

On the 24th of August we celebrated the anniversary of our beloved King's birthday. The distance which separates them from their fatherland, renders this holiday doubly interesting to all true hearted Netherlanders, being not only a tribute of love to their King, but also a renewal of dear associations connected with their homes. At the rising of the sun, a salute from our guns announced the arrival of this national holiday. The masts were adorned with flags, and all the seamen, clad in their best array, attended divine service, after which a grand parade was performed, enlivened by the old national hymn, "Wilhelmus van Nas sauwen," the remainder of the day being spent in amusements. The weather favoured the celebration[Pg 153] of the feast, and space was made upon the deck for games and dances,[23] as I willingly allowed my brave crew to enjoy themselves to the fullest extent, placing full confidence in them and their officers. I cannot refrain from here making honourable mention of Lieutenant Brennwald, who, on these and all other occasions, fully responded to the confidence I reposed in his circumspection, calmness and seamanship. The anniversary was spent by the seamen, in this far distant region of the globe, with very lively, and indeed with boisterous joy; but the day closed without any one having committed the least excess.

On the 26th we arrived off the Arru Islands. The westernmost islands of this group, (Wama, Wokan, Maykor, and Wadia,) are inhabited, the three first by Christians, and the latter by Mohammedans, the eastern isles being occupied by Arafuras, who live under the control of the others.

Since our departure from the Matabella Islands,[Pg 154] we had experienced a set of current to the westward of twenty-four miles, which would render it impossible for an inferior sailing vessel to beat up to the Arru Islands during the east monsoon. Under the guidance of our pilot, but with the precaution of having our boats a-head, we ran along the west coasts of Wadia and Wokan; and on the 27th came to an anchor off Wokan, about cannon-shot from the shore, opposite the village of Wanla. The chiefs of the people came on board to welcome us, as well as those of the neighbouring islands, all of whom evinced the liveliest joy at our arrival.

Were I to describe the different islands as I visited them, I should be betrayed into unnecessary length, as the islands so much resemble one another; I will, therefore, by way of shortening the narrative, enter at once into the description of the Arru Islands generally, omitting those particulars connected with channels, currents, &c. which would be of use only to the navigator.

In the time of the old East India Company, the Arru Islands were garrisoned by a party of Dutch soldiers; and on Wokan there was then a fine fort. While Amboyna and Banda engrossed the entire[Pg 155] trade of these islands, the inhabitants of the two settlements were in a state of great prosperity, but now the Arrus are visited yearly by about thirty paduakans of from fifty to one hundred and twenty tons burthen (twenty-five to sixty lasten), from Macassar, Boni, and other places, from whom the natives obtain goods by barter, and at so cheap a rate, that the traders of Amboyna and Banda are unable to compete with them.

The Arru Islands, when viewed from a distance, appear low, but small green elevations occasionally show themselves among the limestone rocks. These islands, in all probability, owe their origin to a small archipelago of limestone rocks, between which the polypes, uninterrupted in their labour by heavy seas, have built up their coral branches to the surface of the water, during the prevalence of the westerly monsoon; and drying during other monsoons, owing to the tides being much lower, their habitations have formed a coral bank or reef. Some of the masses of plants, which are always floating about these seas, may have lodged on the reef and taken root, in which case the decayed vegetable matter, arising from their fallen leaves, together with sea-weed and other rubbish which may[Pg 156] be washed upon them, would soon form a low morassy soil. The islands are separated from each other by channels of salt water. The centre of these is called Sunghy Kobi-Wato, the northernmost Sunghy Maba-Wato, and the southernmost Sunghy Maykor-Wato.

Little or no information can be gathered from the charts, concerning the position, the number or the names of the Arru Islands. Valentyn laid them down very incorrectly, and was uncertain how far they extended to the eastward.

The Arafuras, who are the aborigines of the islands, form a numerous body of people. They are not, as is generally supposed, entirely uncivilized, since they live in villages, containing ten or twelve houses each, under the control of their elders. Their food consists chiefly of fish and hogs, which they shoot with iron-pointed arrows. They also grow excellent vegetables, Indian corn, labu (a sort of pumpkin, resembling the turnip in flavour), sugar-cane, together with a little red and white rice. Their clothing is not more costly than their food. The men wear a strip of white, blue or coloured calico round the waist, one end being brought between the legs, and fastened on one side[Pg 157] with a knot; and adorn themselves with armlets made from white shells, with small pieces of brass wire in four or five holes, pierced above one another in the ears, and with beads around the neck. Their hair is usually black, and strongly curled. As I have remarked elsewhere, they wash it with ash or lime-water, which imparts to it a lightish colour and causes it to appear rough, both these peculiarities being considered very tasteful by the Arafuras, and also by the Papuas (the inhabitants of the coasts of New Guinea.) Some of these, who have very long hair, twist it up into a knot at the back of the head, confining it by means of a bamboo comb. Nearly all their head-dresses are adorned by some strings of coral beads extending from both ears, and meeting over their forehead. They always carry a chopping knife thrust through their waist-cloth.

The women wear a chain girdle, made of thick brass wire, round the waist, the ends fastened by a hook, from which a small piece of cloth, generally of Macassar sarong stuff, hangs down in front, a square piece of fine matting depending in like manner from behind; these forming their sole covering. The numerous strings of coral beads, which they wear round the neck, hang down upon the breast, and are triced up to each ear, which has by no[Pg 158] means an ungraceful appearance. The entire lobe of the ear is pierced with numerous holes, through which are drawn pieces of copper and tin, and sometimes a species of marine plant, this last being also often used as armlets. Under the knee and above the elbow they wear bands of fine plaited cane, through which they often draw the leaves of a certain plant. The hair of the women is very long and fine, and in general but slightly curled. They plait it in different sections, and twist the whole up into a knot on the top of the head. Their colour is black or transparent brown (doorschijnend bruin.)

Among the Arafuras the greater portion of the labour is performed by the women; they carry water, cut wood, cure trepang, catch the crabs and shell fish, and prepare the meals, carrying their young children at their back while pursuing their avocations.

Although I can hardly coincide with the opinion entertained by one of my officers, who had visited these islands in 1824 with M. Bik, that the Arafuras had no religion whatsoever, I will here insert some of the observations he made, as contributing greatly to give a knowledge of these people. The facts he relates are not to be doubted.

[Pg 159]

"Although," says he, "I found in a house at Old Affara (a village on Vorkay, one of the southernmost of the Arrus) an image rudely formed of wood, together with a post on which different figures, such as snakes, lizards, crocodiles and human forms were carved, and which the owner stated to be intended for preserving the house from evil spirits (Swangi), yet it is evident that the Arafuras of Vorkay possess no religion whatsoever. There are no sacred groves or similar places on the island. They certainly hold a feast at the time in which they have perceived that the Christians of Wama hold one also, namely, at the commencement of the year, when they, in imitation of the Christians, celebrate the Advent of the new year, by arraying themselves in their best clothes, and drinking a considerable quantity of arrack.

"Of the immortality of the soul they have not the least conception. To all my enquiries on this subject they answered, 'No Arafura has ever returned to us after death, therefore we know nothing of a future state, and this is the first time we have heard of it.' Their idea was, Mati, Mati sudah, (When you are dead there is an end of you.) Neither have they any notion of the[Pg 160] creation of the world. They only answered, 'None of us are aware of this; we have never heard any thing about it, and therefore do not know who has done it all.'

"To convince myself more fully respecting their want of knowledge of a Supreme Being, I demanded of them on whom they called for help in their need, when, far from their homes, engaged in the trepang fishery, their vessels were overtaken by violent tempests, and no human power could save them, their wives and children from destruction. The eldest among them, after having consulted the others, answered that they knew not on whom they could call for assistance, but begged me, if I knew, to be so good as to inform them.

"I was at length tired of asking questions, and did my best to give them a notion of the creation of the world, and of a future state. I remarked to them how wonderful it was that a small grain of seed sprang up into a spreading tree; that the different sorts never mixed; that every thing which surrounded us was in a constantly progressive state of creation and decay; and that all these things could never have taken place but for the superintendence of an allwise[Pg 161] Providence. The Arafuras nodded their heads to show that my words appeared to them to have much truth in them.

"At length one of them, who had listened with particular attention, demanded of me where this all-ruling Being took up its abode. I answered, that the Deity was present everywhere, not only among us, but in every plant that, through his goodness and power, he has furnished us for our food. This idea was too abtruse for the Arafuras; for one of them answered—'Then this God is certainly in your arrack, for I never feel happier than when I have drunk plenty of it.'"

It is certainly worthy of remark, that these simple Arafuras, without hope of reward, or fear of punishment after death, live in such peace and brotherly love with one another; and that they recognize the right of property, in the fullest sense of the word, without there being any authority among them than the decisions of their elders, according to the customs of their forefathers, which are held in the highest regard. During my stay among them, I never perceived the least discord, either among themselves or with their neighbours in the adjacent villages, which, one would suppose, might naturally take place from the clashing of[Pg 162] their interests in the trepang fishery, or from their appetite for strong drink. This last is the chief, if not the sole, vice which exists among them.

No Arafura can take unto himself a wife until he has delivered the marriage present, which consists of elephant's teeth, brass gongs, cloth, &c., which is not usually all paid at once, but by instalments during several years. A father, who has many daughters, becomes a rich man by the presents which he receives for each on their marriage. If a young man wishes to marry, and is possessed of nothing, it often occurs that he makes a voyage of a year's duration among the other islands, and making known his purpose demands contributions from those he visits, to enable him to make up the instalment of goods which it is necessary to place in the hands of the parents. The ceremony of betrothing is celebrated by a feast, at which arrack forms a very necessary adjunct.

It is not lawful for a man to enter the house of a neighbour during his absence, and if any one offends in this particular he is obliged to pay a piece of cloth, or some other goods, to the owner of the house. The sentence is passed by the elders, who openly call upon the offender to pay[Pg 163] the fine, which makes him so ashamed, that he either does so immediately or leaves the village. This fine is called "Pakul Dende" by the natives. Should any one even touch the wife of another, he must make a large atonement for the offence. The Macassar traders informed me, that they were always obliged to watch their people narrowly, to keep them from approaching too near to the married women, as the least touch would render them liable to a fine, and unless this was paid the Arafuras would not be satisfied.

They pride themselves much in the possession of a number of elephants' tusks, and brass gongs; the value of the first being determined according to their length, and of the latter by their weight and circumference. They formerly obtained these articles from the Banda traders, who themselves procured them from Batavia; but now they are brought by the Macassars from Batavia, Malacca and Singapore.[24] These articles do not form for them a[Pg 164] necessary article of life, but are put to a more worthy use, which one would scarcely expect to find among such uncivilized people. They have a very excusable ambition to gain the name of rich men, by paying the debts of their poorer fellow villagers. The officer, whom I quoted above, related to me a very striking instance of this. At Affara he was present at the election of the village chiefs, two individuals aspiring to the station of Orang Tua. The people chose the elder of the two, which greatly afflicted the other, but he soon afterwards expressed himself satisfied with the choice the people had made, and said to M. Bik, who had been sent there on a commission, "What reason have I to grieve; whether I am Orang Tua or not, I still have it in my power to assist my fellow villagers." Several old men agreed to this, apparently to comfort him. Thus the only use they make of their riches is to employ it in settling differences, and as this is essentially necessary in an Orang Tua, none but wealthy villagers can aspire to the office.

The following occurrence gives a remarkable proof of the mildness of their laws. An Arafura, who had gone out fishing, intending to be absent eight days, did not return, and his wife, who had[Pg 165] no more provisions at home than would last for this period, requested assistance from her neighbour. Hence arose a mutual friendship, which, however, at first only shewed itself in little attentions, the man drawing water, cutting wood, and providing fish for his fair neighbour, who could not avoid feeling grateful for the kindness; and no one will be surprised at their friendship at length ripening into love, when, conscious of their guilt, they took flight to one of the neighbouring islands. The husband, who had been detained by contrary winds, returned at the end of two months, and demanded his wife of her brothers, who were therefore necessitated to go in search of her, when the guilty couple were soon discovered and brought back to their village. The injured husband demanded an enormous fine from the seducer of his wife, which the latter refused to pay, stating that during his entire life he should not be able to collect a sufficient quantity of trepang to make up the sum. An appeal was therefore made to the elders, and on the woman being questioned, she frankly stated the kindness of her neighbour in supplying her wants had called forth her gratitude, and this ripened into love—she had made the first advances. The elders considered[Pg 166] this mode of proceeding on the part of the wife rather strange, and taking it into consideration that it was very difficult for any one to withstand a declaration of love from a young woman, they lost sight of the severe laws respecting the conduct of men towards married women, and determined that the offender should only pay a small fine, and advised the husband never again to leave his wife at home without provisions. The lady returned home with her husband, who was wise enough never to mention the subject, following up the old proverb—

"Men moet geene aude
Koeijen uit de sloot halen."

Among the Arafuras the treatment of their dead betrays, in the greatest degree, their uncivilized condition, and the uncertainty which exists among them as to their future state.[25] When a man dies all his relations assemble and destroy all the goods he may have collected during his life, even the gongs are broken to pieces and thrown away.[Pg 167] In their villages I met with several heaps of porcelain plates and basins,[26] the property of deceased individuals, the survivors entertaining an idea that they have no right to make use of them.

After death the body is laid out on a small mat, and supported against a ladder until the relatives of the deceased assemble, which seldom takes place until four days have elapsed; and as decomposition will have commenced before this, the parts where moisture has appeared are covered with lime. Fruitless endeavours to stop the progress of decay! In the meantime damar or resin is continually burnt in the house, while the guests who have already assembled regale themselves with quantities of arrack, and of a spirit they themselves prepare from the juice of a fruit, amid violent raving, the discord being increased by the beating of gongs and the howling and lamentation of the women. Food is offered to the deceased, and when they find that he does not partake of it, the mouth is filled with eatables, siri and arrack, until it runs down the body, and spreads over the floor.

[Pg 168]

When the friends and relatives are all collected the body is placed upon a bier, on which had been laid numerous pieces of cloth, the quantity being according to the ability of the deceased; and under the bier are placed large dishes of China porcelain, to catch any moisture that may fall from the body. The dishes which have been put to this purpose are afterwards much prized, and it is for this reason that dishes of an enormous size are so much prized by the Arafuras. A portion of the moisture that has exuded, is mixed with arrack and drunk by the guests, who think that they thus show the true affection they bore to the deceased. During two or three days the house of the dead is constantly full of drunken and raving guests.

The body is then brought out before the house, and supported against a post, when attempts are again made to induce it to eat. Lighted segars, arrack, rice, fruit, &c., are again stuffed into its mouth, and the by-standers, striking up a song, demand whether the sight of all his friends and fellow villagers will not induce the deceased to awaken? At length, when they find all these endeavours to be fruitless, they place the body on a bier adorned[Pg 169] with flags, and carry it out into the forest, where it is fixed upon the top of four posts. A tree, usually the Pavetta Indica, is then planted near it; and it is remarkable that at this last ceremony none but women, entirely naked, are present. This last ceremony is called by the Arafuras "Sudah Buang,"[27] by which they mean that the body is now cast away, and can listen to them no longer. The entire ceremony proves, that the Arafuras are deprived of that consolation afforded by our religion; and that they only give expression to the grief they naturally feel at parting from one to whom they have been attached.

The children, almost from their birth, are fed with boiled labu or pumpkin, which renders it easy to wean them at a very early period. On the birth of a child, a cocoa-nut, with some fish, rice and sago are hung up under the house, and permitted to drop off when they have decayed. They informed me that this was intended to prevent the child from ever being in want of anything during his after life.

[Pg 170]

Those who know how to read the human heart will, perhaps, find in the character of these remote and untutored people many points of interest; and I therefore trust that my reader will pardon this little digression. I will now proceed with a further description of the Arru Islands.


[23] On all festive occasions, the starboard side of the deck was given up to the European seamen, while the Javanese occupied the larboard side, each amusing themselves according to their own fashion. As I had music for both parties, the gaieties on board often attracted spectators from the shore, when we were laying in harbour.

[24] No better proof can be given of the richness of the Arru Islands, than the fact of the natives being enabled to purchase so costly an article as ivory, which is always in great demand at Singapore for the European market. It is at the latter place chiefly that the Bughis and Macassar traders obtain the tusks, which are brought thither from Siam and Cochin China. The brass gongs are the manufacture of China.

[25] How much it is to be wished that these people, who are simple, not incredulous, should be converted to Christianity! The Mohammedans, who always have priests in these parts, make many proselytes. Yet religion is the chief bond by which the natives of India are attached to us.

[26] These articles, which are the manufacture of China, are brought hither from Singapore by the Bughis traders.—Ed.

[27] This term, together with those previously given as in use among the Arafuras, are all pure Malay, whence we may conclude that that language, if not their own, is at least familiar to them.—Ed.

[Pg 171]



Trade of the Arru Islands.—Chief Productions.—Trepang.—The Island Vorkay.—The Pearl Fishery.—The Arafuras of Kobroor and Kobiwatu.—Duryella, the capital of Wama.—The Schoolmaster.—Homage paid by the Natives to M. Kam.

For many years since the inhabitants of the Arru Islands have been uncontrolled by Europeans, and have been without Christian instructors, so that they have advanced but little in civilization. They have also been considerable sufferers from not having the protection of the Dutch authorities, as the Bughis and Macassars, who come here to trade, are great extortioners, and appeared more in the light of plunderers than of friendly traders; which, indeed, is the case with all the people of India when they are the strongest, and are not controlled by our Government.

[Pg 172]

The Arru Islands have, however, always been much visited by native merchants, chiefly on account of the trepang, tortoise-shell, edible birds'-nests and pearls which they afford. It will be useful here to give rather a full account of the first of these products, since it is from this that the natives derive the greater part of their riches.

The trepang, which is a species of holothurie, is found chiefly on banks composed of clay mixed with fine sand, and covered with slimy sea-weed, which, at low water, appears above the surface of the sea. Those engaged in the trade are acquainted with no less than twenty different sorts, besides which there are several others which are not eatable, having a very bitter taste. The different sorts are arranged in the following order:—

1. Trepang Passir, or sand trepang, which is found on banks composed chiefly of sand, is considered the best, being much in demand at Kouding, Aring, and Macassar. The price it usually fetches is one hundred and sixty guilders the picul. The different sorts which follow decrease in value from this, until the lowest is thirty guilders the picul.

[Pg 173]

2. Trepang batu. These have a bluish tinge, and it is necessary to cut them through the thickest part, or they cannot be properly dried.

3. Trepang corro. This is also cut open, and the entrails removed.

4. Trepang pandang.

5. Trepang nanas, or pine-apple trepang, is covered over with spines like the fruit whose name it bears.

6. Trepang itam, or black trepang.

7. Trepang kossong, white with black speckles.

8. Trepang buang kulit, from which it is necessary to strip off two thin skins which cover it.

9. Trepang kay Java.

10. Trepang Marigi. This is obtained on the coast of New Holland, and is boiled up with the bark of the kayu bankudu, which imparts to the animal a red colour, and preserves it dry for a long period.

11. Trepang donga.

12. Trepang kunyit.

13. Trepang gama.

14. Trepang taai konkong.

15. Trepang bilala. This is black, and the only species that is flat.

16. Trepang massee.

[Pg 174]

17. Trepang katjang goreng. This is small, and is also cured with the bark of the kayu bankudu.

18. Trepang kuwas.

19. Trepang puti. This sort is small, and of a whitish colour.

After the trepang is caught, it is immediately boiled in sea-water, in which the leaves of the papya are steeped, to take off a thin skin which covers it. It is then placed in baskets or holes, and covered up with earth until the following morning, when it is washed repeatedly to deprive it as much as possible of the disagreeable taste of coral which it possesses, after which it is spread out on mats, and dried. Even then it is not entirely free from the unpleasant flavour which is peculiar to all holothuries or polypes, for which reason the Chinese, before making it up into soups or ragouts, boil it with sugar-cane.

The Arafuras sell the trepang to the Bughis and others by the ukur, a measure containing about half a picul. The traders sort the trepang, there being a great difference in the value of the various kinds. The price of the first sort in China is one hundred and twenty Spanish dollars the picul, while the various sorts mixed together can be purchased[Pg 175] at the back of the islands, as the eastern parts are called, at the rate of ten to fifteen Spanish dollars the picul. The number of the traders, who now visit the Arrus, has caused the price of this article to increase considerably above that which was formerly given. When the people of Banda had the trade exclusively in their hands, a picul of trepang might be obtained for a sarong, or piece of cloth of the value of eight guilders, and twenty birdsnests for a chopping-knife; while now the latter, which will weigh less than a kati, or 1-1/4lb., cannot be purchased for less than from fourteen to eighteen guilders. These articles would, however, still yield a large profit were it not necessary to remain among the Arrus for a period of four months to collect a cargo of any importance. On this account small brigs and paduakans only are employed in the trade, as their expense is less than that of larger vessels.

Vorkay, an island lying exposed to the ocean at the south-eastern extremity of the group, is of great importance from its pearl fishery. At a distance of eight miles to the eastward lay several small islands, between which and Vorkay the trepang banks are situated. At low water hundreds of men, with their wives and children, may be[Pg 176] perceived wading from Vorkay towards these islets, (the water being only two or three feet deep,) carrying a basket at their backs, and having in their hands a stick provided with an iron point. When the water is deeper than this, they make use of canoes. For fishing on the banks situated at a greater distance, the Arafuras use a prahu, constructed for the purpose, in which they embark their entire family. These vessels have a very strange appearance. They have great beams, and the stern runs up into a high curve, while two planks project forward from the bows. The family resides in three or four huts, composed of atap or palm leaves, erected within the vessel, and a railing runs entirely round it, apparently to prevent the children from falling overboard. The prahu is propelled by a large sail made of rushes, which folds up like a fan, (in a similar manner to the sails of the Chinese junks), set upon a tripod mast of bamboos, while it is steered by two rudders. Two other masts are also erected, which answer no purpose but that of displaying several small flags.

As I have already stated, it is almost impossible for a large ship to approach the eastern side of the Arrus, as in all parts banks and reefs stretch[Pg 177] far out to sea. There are, however, a few small openings, through which a brig may enter; but it is absolutely necessary to have an Arafura pilot on board.

Among the chief villages on Vorkay, are Old and New Affara, Longa, Uri and Goor, before the last of which lies a great pearl bank. The natives informed me that it was exhausted, and that they had not fished it for two years; but this was probably a mis-statement, which they were induced to make owing to the difficulties attending the fishery. They said that they only obtained from it large mother-of-pearl shells for the Chinese market, and that they did not find pearls inside them. The true pearl oyster is small, with a thin shell.

The pearl fishery is carried on in the following manner. The trader makes an agreement with the Arafuras for so much a hundred, paying an advance of a certain quantity of arrack, cloth, &c. When the price is agreed on the fisher goes to the bank, and dives for the oysters, which are mostly small and black, in from twenty-four to thirty feet water, selecting the best he can find. The diving is attended with much difficulty and danger, as, from the time he remains under water, the blood often bursts from the nose and[Pg 178] mouth of the diver, while he is also liable to be destroyed by the numerous sharks which are to be found there.

The chiefs informed me, that in the time of the (Dutch) East India Company, the pearl fishery was carried on by their order;[28] but when the Arafuras found themselves becoming more and more independent of the Christians, and the chiefs were no longer incited by our Government to carry it on, it was very naturally discontinued, as the labour attending it is much greater than that of the trepang fishery. Small quantities of pearls are still obtained in shallow water for the Bughis traders, but these are of little value, and are chiefly disposed of to the Chinese, who use them as an ingredient in some of their medicines.

On one occasion we met with a prahu from the Kabroor Islands (at the east side of the Arrus), the people in which were superior in appearance to the trepang fishers of Vorkay. They had clearer skins than the latter, and their hair, which was also much finer, was very neatly dressed, and adorned with beads. Their weapons, and the ornaments of their prahus, displayed great taste.[Pg 179] The strangers, who called themselves Arafuras of Borassi, had abundance of food with them, together with several hunting dogs.

During the year previous to my visit, when the Governor-General Baron Van Der Capellen visited the Moluccas, he sent two schooners of war, the Daphne and Pollux to the Arrus, to enquire into the condition of the people. The arrival of M. A.J. Bik, who was at the head of this expedition, had given rise to a hope among the natives that the Government would take an interest in their affairs, so that my visit naturally excited much joy among them. They welcomed us in the most friendly manner, kissed our hands, and expressed the greatest joy when I informed them of the object of my visit, and of the purpose of our Government to take them again under their protection. The frank and kind manner in which men and women, heathens as well as Christians, came forth to meet us, was truly striking and impressive, the more from these innocent people being, unlike many others of the Indian races, entirely free from dissimulation. Even the children crowded around to kiss us.

On the afternoon of my arrival I went on shore[Pg 180] accompanied by M. Kam and several other gentlemen, to the village of Wanla, which is erected on a point of limestone rock, about thirty feet above the level of the sea. It contains only ten or twelve poor and small houses; but the stone church, which also overhangs the sea, was in very good condition. Wanla is a dependence of Duryella, the capital of Wama, but is under the immediate control of an Orang Tua.

In several places we saw prahus hauled up on the beach, which are hired to the traders during the time they remain among the islands. In the interior we saw a number of sago trees, the pith of which constituted the chief food of the natives. The ground, generally, is by no means fertile, and in many parts is overgrown with underwood, there being but few spots calculated for the cultivation of rice.

On Sunday, the 28th of August, I set out for Duryella, our road, which lay along the beach, being almost impassable from the number of trees which had been thrown up by the sea during the westerly monsoon. If the inhabitants were rather more industrious they would cut a road through the beautiful forest which runs down close to the[Pg 181] sea. Among the trees which lined the shore I recognized the kanari, the katapan laut, the tutun, the yamplon,[29] the casuarina, and the bua-raja, the last of which bears much resemblance to the Javanese fern or pohon paku, the leaves having a beautiful green colour; the fruit, when dried and pounded fine, is often used instead of flour in the composition of pastry.

After an hour's walking we arrived at Duryella, where we were received with much solemnity under a salute of lelahs. The village, which is well built and kept in very good order, forms nearly a square. On the beach opposite, a stage was erected on a high tree, on which several lelahs were mounted; this was formerly used for their protection, when the inhabitants were at war with the people of Wadia; but since peace had been made between them by M. Bik, the fortification had been allowed to fall into disrepair.

The house of the Orang Kaya, Jacob Barend, in which we were received, answered also for a[Pg 182] fort. It was erected on high piles of iron-wood, and consisted of several rooms, in which the numerous family of the Orang Kaya took up their residence. The remainder of the houses, which formed the village, were smaller, but constructed after the same manner; and the neat little church was kept in good order. The schoolmaster, who resided here, appeared to do his best in instructing his fellow Christians. These teachers, who also perform divine service, are usually young natives of Amboyna, who, after having undergone a course of instruction, are sent among the neighbouring islands without salaries, and being therefore dependent on the natives for support, they are sometimes, from want of the protection of the Government, in very necessitous circumstances. The hope of being relieved and settled at Amboyna, after having been employed as missionaries a few years, renders them very willing to undertake this office, which would otherwise be a truly great sacrifice on their part, as none can feel greater reluctance to leave their homes for a long period than the inhabitants of the Indian Archipelago in general.

M. Bik, on fixing two Amboynese teachers here, whom he brought with him, promised them a[Pg 183] salary, and also to supply them now and then with necessaries, as occasion might offer. I therefore considered it my duty to advance them some money and clothes, while at the same time I suggested to the inhabitants that they ought regularly to contribute something to the support of these useful men. The teachers pride themselves on their descent as Amboynese, and are uncommonly neat in their dress. I never saw one otherwise than well clad, wearing a three-cornered hat, a black coat of cloth or cotton, small-clothes of the same materials, with shoes, and black silk or cotton stockings. The teacher at Wokan was married to the daughter of the Orang Kaya, and was as much respected as he was esteemed. Their usual employment consists in instructing the children in reading and writing the Malay language (Roman letters, not the Arabic characters, being used), and in initiating them in the rudiments of the Reformed Religion. They rarely, however, acquire a full insight into the last, as the young people are forced to leave school at an early period, that they may assist their parents in their avocations. He also performs divine service every Sunday, during which he reads passages from the Bible, and the community under his direction sing psalms in[Pg 184] the Malayan tongue,[30] the service being usually closed with a discourse on the precepts and duties of Christianity.

We tarried a considerable time at the residence of the Orang Kaya, where a number of people had assembled, among whom were the chiefs of the neighbouring villages, who had come to welcome us and pay their respects. This afforded me a good opportunity of breaking to them the object of my visit; and as I wished to make as much impression on their minds as possible, I arranged that a general meeting should be held on Wokan on the 29th of August, when the business might be entered into more fully. M. Kam, also, to the great satisfaction of the Christians, held a long communication with them on religious subjects, and about fifty of the natives were baptized on the occasion. After this ceremony had been completed, amid the greatest attention and propriety of conduct, we amused ourselves in examining the gardens in the vicinity, the people appearing to be much pleased at our visiting their dwellings.

[Pg 185]

Early on the following morning I despatched two of the boats, with a portion of my party, to Wokan, and at eight o'clock, by which time a large number of prahus had collected around the brig, I also departed in a third boat, accompanied by M. Dielwaart, under a salute from our guns. The large number of prahus, with which the chiefs accompanied us, presented a very imposing appearance. As we approached Wokan, a salvo was fired from a one-pounder gun, which we had in the boat, and on stepping ashore we were received with military honours by the twenty-eight armed European seamen who had preceded us, which, doubtless, made a proper impression on the Orang Kayas who awaited us on the beach.

We now proceeded to the fort, from which shots were occasionally fired, while the people welcomed us with loud shouts of joy. Especial homage was paid to M. Kam, who subsequently arrived from Wama, as soon as he had stepped on shore; the schoolmaster, and a number of young men and women assembled around him, and commenced the twenty-fifth psalm, singing which they accompanied him until he arrived among us. They then placed themselves respectfully behind the clergyman, and after the psalm was finished they rested awhile, and[Pg 186] prepared to commence another; but as I wished to finish my affairs as soon as possible, and at the same time was desirous of avoiding giving offence to the Mohammedan chiefs who were present, I requested them to defer it to another occasion. The Christian inhabitants of these parts take great delight in singing psalms, and they practice much: they know many of them by heart. Their respect for the Bible is also very great, and they preserve the portions of scriptures, which they formerly received, with as much care as if they were costly jewels. This betokens a strong inclination and capacity on their part to increase their acquaintance with our religion, and this trait in their character may, with a little attention, be made a powerful instrument in improving their condition.


[28] The pearls obtained were chiefly sent to Japan.—Ed.

[29] This large tree bears a yellow nut, which, when stripped of its husk and pounded, is mixed up with cotton and simmered over the fire in an iron pan, until it becomes an oily pap. Strips of cocoa-nut leaves, or small sticks of bamboo, are steeped in this, and thus formed into flambeaux, which give a clear light and are used by the islanders instead of candles.

[30] Our useful countryman, G.H. Werndly, cannot be sufficiently praised for his Malayan translation of the Old and New Testament, and also of several psalms, which he has rendered into Malayan verse.

[Pg 187]



Gathering of the People at Wokan.—Religious Exercises of the People.—Their singular Mode of Dress.—The Church.—The Fort.—State of Christianity on Wokan.—Dobbo, an important Trading Place.—Commercial Advantages that may be gained there.—Valuable Fishery.—The Pilandok.—Ludicrous alarm of the Arafuras.

On the following morning I informed the assembled chiefs of Wokan of the object of my mission to those parts, namely, to take the inhabitants under the protection of the Dutch Government; to renew the mutual friendship which formerly existed between them;[31] to incite them to carry on more[Pg 188] trade, especially with Banda and Amboyna; to confirm the chiefs in their authority; and to promote the welfare and prosperity of these islands and their inhabitants.

After the meeting had been broken up, our party, together with the chiefs of the villages, were invited to dinner by the daughters of the Upper Orang Kaya. The table was spread with a number of well cooked dishes. The wine which I had brought for the entertainment of the chiefs, with the arrack for those of lesser rank, added not a little to the festivity. I remarked on this occasion, that three Orang Kayas, after having drunk a tolerable quantum of wine, finished a bottle of arrack without either of them showing any signs of inebriety. An unsparing use of spirituous liquors may be considered as the greatest vice of the inhabitants of the Arrus, both Christians and Arafuras. The traders bring here large quantities of arrack, together with an inferior kind of aniseed, on which they obtain a very large profit. The natives themselves distil a spirit from sago and rice.

After dinner the people were busily employed in arraying themselves in their best clothes, to attend divine service. Coats and breeches, probably the manufacture of the previous century, were brought[Pg 189] to light out of their chests, and from the smoke of their fires, where they had been hung up to preserve them from insects. Among the presents given to the chiefs by M. Bik the previous year, were several pieces of black cloth, which the former had made up with their own hands into coats, &c., after the model of the old-fashioned smoked clothes above-mentioned, using coarse white thread in the construction. The remnants of the cloth had been made up into head-dresses in the form of night-caps. I set the ship's tailor to work altering their coats, to the no small delight of the chiefs.

The church, situated on the south side of the village, is a handsome and strong stone building, and although the doors and windows are wanting, it is otherwise kept carefully in order. On each side of the entrance are benches and reading desks for the men, while a number of old-fashioned carved chairs, certainly a century and a half old, were placed in the centre for the women. Here and there gravestones might be perceived, the inscriptions on which had become illegible. Their dead are not now interred in or near the church, but are deposited in an enclosed cemetery, some distance to the north-east of the fort. The tomb-stones[Pg 190] here are ornamented in different ways, and it is a strong proof of the good disposition of these people, that the tombs of the officers of the late East India Company, who have died here, are kept in as good order as those of their own chiefs and forefathers.

Early on the following morning, the 30th of August, I was requested by the natives to allow M. Kam to hold another religious meeting on this day, that a number more of them might have an opportunity of being married and christened. I willingly gave my consent, and promised to be present with my European fellow-voyagers.

On the previous day I had remarked, that the pulpit was ornamented by a curtain formed of a piece of silk. By way of giving the congregation an agreeable surprise, I caused the teacher to suspend in its place a large covering of fine silk, ornamented with the arms of the King of the Netherlands. The sight of this, on their entering the church, had a great effect on the people, who loudly expressed their thanks for this attention; so that I became convinced that this present of the Government could not have been put to a better use.

During the morning several of the seamen asked my permission to attend the church, that they[Pg 191] might become baptismal witnesses to some of the natives who had requested their services; this I willingly allowed, cautioning them however to maintain the strictest propriety of conduct. On entering the church, where a large congregation was assembled, we found chairs and benches prepared for our accommodation. The Upper Orang Kaya and his wife requested me to stand godfather to their daughter, who was to be christened Diderika Hendrika; indeed, nearly all the congregation underwent this ceremony, even people who had attained the age of forty years. Among those who were united in matrimony, were many couples who had already lived, for a long period, in a state of wedlock; in fact, several cases occurred in which parents and children were married at the same time. On only one occasion was there any confusion, and this was caused by a ludicrous accident happening to the dress of a young bridegroom, who had arrayed himself for the ceremony in some old, worn-out, and smoke-dried clothes, which, above all, were too small for him. This was too much for any gravity to endure, and the young ladies especially could not restrain their merriment; but a friendly hand tendered the unlucky youth a sarong, in which he would gladly have enveloped[Pg 192] himself entirely to conceal his confusion. To add to the solemnity of the occasion, several German flutes had been brought to accompany the psalms, the natives, especially the women, being extremely fond of the music of this instrument. At the request of M. Kam, my Amboynese piper attended to play second; but although the poor youth did all he could with hands and feet, he was unable to keep in tune, so that we were soon obliged to put a stop to the disconcerto.

The ceremony was extremely long, but the attention shown by the audience was truly exemplary; indeed, in the mother country I have seen a congregation asleep from weariness at a much shorter service, so that in this respect our countrymen and countrywomen may learn an example from the simple inhabitants of the Arru Islands. Even after the service they assembled at the house of the teacher, and sang several more psalms; the newly married couples being also ceremoniously congratulated on the joyful occasion. While they were thus employed, I took the opportunity of paying a visit to the ruins of the fort.

This fort, which is now in state of great dilapidation—patches of a wall, which was once three feet thick and twenty feet high, alone remaining—formed[Pg 193] a square, with bastions at the corners; but of the latter nothing was now visible, some posts having been erected in their place, on which several lelahs were mounted. The house of the Orang Kaya, which stands in the centre, is the only part in good repair. The natives were very desirous of having a Dutch garrison again among them, in which case they would willingly set to work and put the fort into complete order.

Several of the Mohammedans, who had been driven out of the village, formerly resided a little to the northward; but these have now put themselves under the rule of the Christians, with whom they live on good terms.

I passed the afternoon in settling the affairs of the natives, the chiefs of the neighbouring villages being present. Bernard Herman was appointed as Upper Orang Kaya, with the promise of a golden-knobbed baton. The chiefs of Wadia betrayed considerable jealousy, and requested me to do them the same honour I had conferred on the people of Wokan; I therefore promised that I would visit their head village with the brig, at which they appeared to be well contented, and departed for their homes to make ready for our reception. Among the Government presents which[Pg 194] I gave to the Orang Kaya were two Dutch flags, on which they set a high value; in addition to which I left in his hands some trifles for the Arafuras of the islands at the back of the group.

At the conclusion of these ceremonies I sent both boats on board the brig, the remainder of our party intending to stop the night at the house of the Orang Kaya. During our stay the seamen occupied a house which had been prepared for their reception, where they were abundantly supplied with provisions.

To the northward of the chief village of Wokan there are several small villages, the most important of which, Samau, is inhabited by Mohammedans, who are under the control of the people of the capital. The chiefs of the western islands extend their authority over the Arafuras, each chief having several villages under his rule, the inhabitants of which paid a willing obedience to their governors while they were supported by our Government, who, for this purpose, had only about ten European or Amboynese soldiers on the islands, the serjeant of the party being the commanding officer. The Arafuras then considered themselves obliged to give an account of all their actions[Pg 195] to the Christian chiefs, to whom they also delivered up a portion of the profits of their trade. These heathens, in general, are much desirous of becoming converts to Christianity, and willingly allow their children to be instructed in its tenets; but for many years since there have been no teachers, much less missionaries or clergymen among them. Our religion has therefore retrograded, while Islamism, of which there are many priests here, has advanced considerably. This is much to be regretted; for, as I have already stated, a similarity in religious belief forms our strongest bond of union with the people of these countries. The Arafuras prefer Christianity to Mohammedanism, so that were proper measures taken much might be done, especially as they are better in their disposition than the heathen inhabitants of the islands we had previously visited.

Leaving Wokan on the 31st, I next visited Dobbo, a village situated on a spit of sand five hundred yards long, extending from the north-east side of Wama, and reducing the channel between the latter island and Wokan to about a mile. This spit affords shelter to the trading vessels, which anchor to the eastward or to the westward of it, according to the monsoon, and[Pg 196] fourteen or fifteen sheds are erected upon it, under which they can be hauled up and repaired. It is very difficult to enter the harbour without a pilot, as steep reefs, dry at low water, extend a considerable distance from Wama and Wokan, forming a narrow and crooked channel, with a depth of eight, nine, and ten fathoms. The reefs, which are always visible in fine weather, extend farther from Wokan than from Wama, so that the channel lies nearest to the south shore. In the early part of the west monsoon several brigs from Sourabaya (Java), a number of paduakans from Macassar (Celebes), together with many other vessels from different places, among which are many small craft from the Ki Islands and Goram, visit this harbour, the greater part of which are hauled up on the beach during their stay, and covered over with sheds of atap. The traders, with the assistance of the natives, erect houses wherein they reside and deposit their goods, the guns belonging to their vessel being planted around it. The traders remain here until the month of June, Dobbo, during their stay, having the appearance of a very populous place. The traders, immediately on their arrival, hire vessels from the inhabitants, which they send with a portion of their[Pg 197] crew to the more distant islands, to purchase trepang, edible birds'-nests, and mother-of-pearl shell. The trade is conducted with great regularity, and if differences now and then occur, they are always put an end to by the mediation of the Orang Kaya. The commanders of the trading vessels pay a certain quantity of arrack and cloth as anchorage dues and ground rent, and although the amount paid by each is small, the number of traders is so great as to render this an important source of income to the inhabitants. Soon after the departure of the traders Dobbo is abandoned for the season, the old houses being burnt by the natives that they may have to build new ones the following year, and thus increase their gains.

This spit offers a good situation for the erection of a small fort, the wells upon it supplying good fresh water, while the high beach is open on both sides to the sea-breeze. According to the universal testimony of the natives, this spot is very healthy, and although the sea is disturbed by the number of vessels, it affords abundance of fish. A party sent here from the brig to fish with the seine, obtained at three hauls, a sufficient quantity[Pg 198] of kakap (a sort of cod), and other delicate fish, to half fill the boat.

As nothing is to be feared from the natives, I feel convinced that were a fort to be erected on this spot it would soon become a very prosperous trading place. At present the natives do not settle here in great numbers, as the foreign traders do not like them to reside among them. As soon as the traders have departed the people give themselves up to idleness, and only commence collecting produce a short time previous to their return. Neither do the foreign traders now like to settle on the islands, perhaps because they do not place much confidence in the people. I am convinced, however, that were a representative of the Dutch Government to reside here, it would soon become a highly prosperous place, and the harbour would never be without vessels in it.

I cannot avoid giving a short description of the Pilandok or Arru rabbits, an animal rather larger than the common rabbit, of a grey colour, which, as they grow old, becomes quite grizzly. The forelegs are short, and the hind ones, which resemble those of the hare, have each three toes, provided with strong nails. The head is like[Pg 199] that of a weazel. These animals do not run very fast, and when resting they usually sit upright on their hind legs. Their food consists of the leaves of the yam plant and other greens, and they are easily tamed, when they may be suffered to run around the house without their attempting to escape. The flavour of their flesh is very agreeable.

On the 1st of September, when at Duryella, I appointed the Orang Kayas to the islands of Wama and Maykor, to each of whom I presented a silver-knobbed baton, besides other government gifts, as pieces of cloth, flags, &c. Several of the chiefs of the more distant islands were also confirmed in their authority on the same occasion, many other affairs being also settled; among which was a reconciliation between the people of two villages on Vorkay, who for some time previously had lived in state of war with each other. The quarrel originated in one of the parties fishing too long on a reef which was their mutual property, and thus obtaining too large a share of its produce. It had already been provisionally adjusted through the mediation of the Christian chiefs, and was now submitted to me for my final decision. The offenders solemnly promised that they would not[Pg 200] hereafter exceed their right, and the affair was settled to the satisfaction of both parties, who declared that they would henceforward live in peace and friendship with each other.

The greater portion of the Christian inhabitants of Maykor had come to Duryella, partly to attend to their own interests, and partly for the purpose of being present at the preachings of M. Kam, on which occasions a large number of people were admitted as members of the Christian Church. I occasionally invited the chiefs to dinner with me, which was always considered by them as a great honour, and they never failed to come attended by a numerous retinue, Arafuras as well as Christians, who crept on board from all sides in an instant. The chiefs of the more distant islands, not having been informed of my arrival, had come in their usual dress, the tdejako, or waist-cloth, as they never adorn themselves with their best clothing except on festive occasions. These chiefs were much ashamed of their deshabille, and made repeated excuses; but being informed of the cause, I rejoiced them by having kabayas and breeches prepared for them, when they made their appearance with much greater confidence.

[Pg 201]

On one occasion a number of chiefs, who had dined on board, remained to spend the evening with me, many of whom, particularly the Arafuras, declared to me that they had never before been on board a ship of war. To give them a good idea of such a vessel I ordered several of the great guns to be fired, and although we had informed them of what was coming, they were terribly frightened, and it was truly ridiculous to see them jump into the air at every shot, like harlequins. Many of them, indeed, jumped overboard, while others hid themselves under the table which stood on the deck, and in any corner they could find. These islanders generally can carry off an inconceivable quantity of spirits. Although at our festive meetings on board more than thirty jugs of arrack were often drunk, they would still take a quantity on shore with them to finish the evening at home.

The prahus which are built upon these islands are very long, and sit low on the water, their length being seldom less than seventy feet, while their greatest breadth is not greater than ten feet. We saw about thirty of these lying under the shore, and had good opportunities for examining them. In the centre of them is a stage,[Pg 202] on which they make a fire to cook their provisions. Whenever these vessels sail on a voyage they are adorned with a number of flags, some being displayed from the stern and others planted along the sides, the whole presenting a very gay appearance. These flags are triangular (perhaps in imitation of those of the Chinese), and of various colours, the prahus belonging to the chiefs being distinguished by the superior size and number of those they display. The inhabitants of the western Arrus obtain their prahus chiefly from the Ki Islands, these being stronger and broader than those constructed by the people of the Eastern Arrus. The Arafuras, when at sea, protect themselves from the rain, which they dislike greatly, by means of long bags open on one side, made from the bark of a tree. When the weather is fine, they roll these up and use them as a cushion to sit upon.

The abolition of the slave trade has not yet spread its beneficent influence to these parts; indeed, the export and import of slaves forms a considerable branch of commerce, &c.: so much so, that were it to be discontinued many of the inhabitants would become a prey to want. It must here be taken into consideration, that the words "slave" and "slave trade" have a very different signification here from[Pg 203] that which they have in the West Indies, the people of the east regarding the slave trade as being, in a certain point of view, beneficial to the slaves themselves. Many, in fact, when in distress, offer themselves as bondsmen that they may obtain the necessaries of life. The natives, however, are well aware that this shameful trade is much disapproved of by our Government, and that the greatest object of their rule is to secure general freedom and prosperity to mankind, for which reason the slaveholders treat their people with humanity. These creatures are, therefore, less to be pitied than one would suppose; and it must be taken into consideration, that so long as agriculture and industry are so much neglected, the slave trade must be a source of subsistence to a great part of these islanders, by means of which they are held back from engaging in piracy, theft, and other vices, to which want and necessity would otherwise force them to resort.[Pg 204][32]

When M. Bik was here he was presented with two slave boys, to whom, as I was informed by the natives, he gave their liberty, and caused them to be sent back to their village. Shortly after the departure of this gentleman these liberated slaves fell into a state of great poverty, so that, to pay the debts they had incurred for provisions and necessaries, they had again pledged or sold themselves as slaves, and they now regard themselves as fortunate in having found a good master. On my asking them if they wished to become free again? they answered, that they would like it well if I would take them with me, and provide for their future maintenance, but that otherwise they would prefer living in their present state of servitude. I allowed my interpreter to redeem a couple of orphans who had been sold here by the Arafuras, and did not seem to have derived much good from their master, for which he paid eighty guilders. At their own request I took them with me to Amboyna, where,[Pg 205] with the cognizance of the Government, I set them at liberty, so that they became in a condition to gain their livelihood by daily labour.[33]

On the 4th of September the chiefs of Maykor and Wama came to take their leave, and to present us with some stock and fruit, after which we weighed anchor and steered for the island Wadia. A number of prahus accompanied us a considerable distance, the natives in them displaying their friendship by the music of their gongs and songs of joy.


[31] So early as 1640, F. Corsten entered into a treaty with the people of the Arrus, especially those of Wokan, Wadia, Wama, Duryella and Maykor, in which the latter agreed to acknowledge the supremacy of the Dutch East India Company. Afterwards, in 1645, the Fiscal Dorstman obtained from them an agreement to trade exclusively with Banda, while the monopoly of the pearl fishery was given to the East India Company.

[32] M. Kolff, whose opinion upon this point is totally at variance with that of Sir Stamford Raffles, and of every other writer on the Indian Archipelago, who has really taken an interest in the welfare of the natives, appears to have mistaken effect for cause; as in this part of the world it has invariably been found that the slave trade alone has been sufficient to render a people, previously mild and industrious, poor, idle and vicious. As to the slave trade preventing the natives from engaging in piracy, M. Kolff must have been aware that by far the greater number of piratical expeditions fitted out by the natives are intended solely for the capture of slaves, other plunder being in their eyes of minor importance only; and this is especially the case in the parts visited by M. Kolff, where the inhabitants possess nothing of sufficient value to tempt the cupidity of pirates.—Ed.

[33] The inhabitants of the Arrus and the adjacent island, are glad to obtain Dutch gold and silver coin, the greater part of which they work up into ear-rings and other ornaments.

[Pg 206]



Arrival at the Island Wadia.—Particulars concerning the Island and its Inhabitants.—Dispute between them and the Orang Tua of Fannabel.—Sad Result of their Contentions.—Departure from the Arru Islands.—Arrival at the Tenimber Group.—Vordate.—Ignorance and Perplexity of the Pilot.—Singular Customs.—Violent Conduct of the People of Timor-Laut.—The Inhabitants of Watidal and their Chiefs.

We soon entered the narrow strait which separates the islands of Wassia and Wadia, the last of which was the object of our visit. The people of Wakan, Samau, and the other villages on the sea shore saluting us with shots from their lelahs, which were answered by the brig with several guns. Wassia, the north-westernmost of the Arrus, is overgrown with underwood, and the coral reefs extend some distance from it on all sides, preventing vessels from approaching the shore. The village of Wadia is[Pg 207] situated on the west side of the island of that name, on the banks of a salt-water creek, several other villages being scattered over the island.

As soon as we had anchored in the strait, in ten fathoms sand, about four miles from the village of Wadia, the Orang Tuas of the island came on board in two prahus, to bid us welcome. My interpreter accompanied them on shore, to inform the chiefs that I should land the following day to transact the business which had brought me here. With a view to add as much solemnity as possible to my visit, I sent twenty-six armed men on shore early in the morning, and soon after followed them with the gentlemen attached to the expedition. After entering the creek we passed a temple and a number of tombs, and soon arrived at the village, which lies about a cable's length and a half from the mouth. The houses, which stand separated from each other, are erected on both sides of the river, but by far the greater number are to be found on the right-hand side, the dwelling of the Orang Kaya forming a conspicuous object among them.

On our approach to the river we were saluted with seven shots from a one-pounder gun, which had been taken on shore from the brig, while our men were drawn up on the beach to receive us with[Pg 208] military honours, the natives themselves saluting us with numerous shots from their lelahs, and displaying several Dutch flags, which appeared to be of their own manufacture. The Orang Kaya welcomed us to his house with many expressions of friendship, when we found that one-half of his dwelling, (a new and rather large building, similar to that of the Orang Kaya of Duryella), had been arranged for our reception, another house having been appropriated for the accommodation of our men. As the house of the Orang Kaya is usually the place where the chiefs assemble, we thought it most advisable to take up our quarters in a small building which had been occupied by the foreign traders, but was now empty.

The population of Wadia is composed of Mohammedans, so that I did not perceive among the chiefs the same affection towards the Netherland's Government which those of the Christian islands displayed. On conversing with them concerning the non-fulfillment of the promise they made to M. Bik in 1824, to resort to Banda, I clearly discovered that the Macassar traders had done all in their power to make them fearful of us. These had made them believe that the sole object of our Government consisted in increasing their revenue[Pg 209] from imposts, and many similar absurdities, which it cost me considerable difficulty to drive from their minds. They also asserted, that owing to the small amount of the population they dared not leave their villages for a lengthened period, unless the Netherlands' Government should have a post upon the Arru Islands.

This request for a Dutch Resident or Postholder, with a small garrison, was made to me on all the islands, and the people appeared to be well aware that it would contribute greatly to maintaining order among them, and increasing their prosperity. Christians, Mahommedans and Arafuras, all perfectly agreed in this particular.

The creek on which this village is situated, runs right through the island. Both banks are low and marshy, and the depth of water in it is very small; indeed, many parts are quite dry at low water. It is abundantly stocked with fish, which, in fact, is the case everywhere among the group. Live stock, on the other hand, is very scarce: pigs are only kept by the Arafuras, the Mohammedans contenting themselves with goats and fowls, which last are to be purchased at the rate of a rupee each. With the exception of these there are no tame[Pg 210] stock on the islands. Wild hogs are abundant, but they are rarely hunted by the natives.

The pilandok is also to be met with, together with birds-of-paradise, and immense numbers of cockatoos, red, green and black loories, and other sorts of handsomely-plumaged birds. The Arafuras shoot the birds-of-paradise with arrows, when they are opened, and deprived of their entrails, and then wrapped in a thin leaf and hung to dry in the smoke of their fires; this being the only preparation they require to render them ready for exportation.

Sago and yams form the only vegetable productions which the island affords. Rice is imported by the Macassars, and by the people of the Ki and Goram Islands, who, on their part, obtain them from Banda. The people have but few wants. Their dwellings are mean, and their sole property consists in slaves, muskets, lelahs, gongs and elephants' tusks. The first are obtained chiefly from New Guinea, and from the back parts of the group.

The people of Wadia, and of the western islands of the Arru group in general, are very desirous of obtaining the imitation blue, red and[Pg 211] black calicoes,[34] especially the last sort manufactured in the Netherlands. Square checked, or closely flowered chintzes, are also much in demand. These goods, however, would be too fine for the Arafuras of the back of the group, who only care for those of coarser materials, such as coarse chintzes, blue and white salempoors, red coast-calicoes, red baftas, Samanap sarongs, axes, parangs, chopping knives, brass wire, coarse Chinese porcelain, arrack, aniseed, gongs, elephants' tusks, small red beads and other trifles of a similar description.

The inhabitants of the western parts of the group carry on a constant bartering trade among the group; the long and light vessels previously described, which are from twelve to sixteen tons burthen, being employed in transporting the goods from island to island. The period which elapses between the cessation of one monsoon and the commencement of the other, is the fittest period for these voyages. They are fearful, however, of going to Banda or Amboyna, not only from the reasons already given, but from a dread that the[Pg 212] Government would chastise them for some deeds they had committed. I endeavoured, as much as lay in my power, to banish this idea from their minds, promising them forgiveness on the part of the Government; and my exertions were attended with so much success, that during the following year, while I was remaining at Amboyna, a greater number of their vessels arrived at that place, and also at Banda, than had been the case previously.

The inhabitants of the villages on Wadia profess the Mohammedan religion. In point of numbers they are far inferior to the Christians of the neighbouring islands, with whom they live on very good terms, and like them consider themselves as subjects to the Dutch Government, although they appear to be more restless in their characters than the others. A difference had long existed between the people of Wadia and the Orang Tua of Fannabel; and the Orang Kaya of Wokan, with the minor chiefs of that island, had followed me hither to assist in inquiring into and deciding the dispute.

After I had made known to the inhabitants the philanthropic and humane object of our Government, they gave me many proofs of their wishes to[Pg 213] pursue a proper course. I was subsequently petitioned to examine into and decide the affair of the Orang Tua of Fannabel, which, from the evidence given by both parties, appeared to be as follows:—

The Orang Tua of Fannabel possessed a stone building, defended by cannon, on the north-east side of Wokan, and being a skilful trader he soon increased his property until he became one of the wealthiest men in the islands. This aroused the envy of the people of Wadia, of which island the Orang Tua had formerly been an inhabitant. On the occasion of the marriage of one of his daughters, there arose a difference between a native of Fannabel and another of Wadia, of so violent a nature, that each threatened to take the life of the other on the first opportunity. Some time after this, a number of the people of Wadia visited Wokan to assist the Orang Kaya in the construction of a church, and on their return home, one of the parties engaged in the above-mentioned quarrel, with four others, were murdered in their prahu. The offenders, who were soon after taken, declared that they had been paid for committing the deed by the people of Fannabel, on which[Pg 214] those of Wadia, without enquiring farther into the matter, went to the house of the Orang Tua of Fannabel during his absence, and by way of taking revenge for the murder, they shot several of his family, took away the remainder as slaves, and then plundered and burned the house. The Orang Tua, on his return to his home, seeing the destruction that had taken place, fled to Wokan, where he was received with hospitality. The Orang Kaya of that place, however, considering that he was not sufficiently powerful to obtain redress for his friend by force, and being also unwilling to go to war with the people of Wadia, commenced negotiations, by which means a portion of the stolen property was returned.

This affair had taken place four years previous to my visit. The ill-treated Orang Tua assured me that he often thought of visiting Banda to obtain redress through the interposition of the Government, but had always been withheld by the hope that the latter would again take possession of the Arru Islands, in which case he would have brought the case before them, although he was himself aware that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to obtain back all the goods of which he had been plundered.

[Pg 215]

At the assembly which had been called together strong debates took place, which lasted until four o'clock. Some of the arguments put forth will tend to show their erroneous ideas of right and equity. A man who had carried off three of the Orang Tua's slaves, was unwilling to return more than one, or at most two, wishing to keep the remainder to pay for the maintenance of the whole. I explained to another, that as there was not the least proof of any offence on the part of the Orang Tua of Fannabel (they themselves holding him guiltless of the murder which had been committed,) while he had already suffered severely from the loss of his son, and of all his goods, it was nothing but just that he should have every thing possible restored to him. "Here," answered he, "are four of our family slain in their prahu; we must therefore have redress from somebody, no matter whom." At length it was determined, that a portion of the goods should be restored, and several gongs, elephants' tusks and slaves were immediately given up.

After I had thus changed the inveterate hatred into friendship, and had settled some other differences, I appointed a certain Abdul Wahab as their Orang Kaya, to the universal satisfaction of[Pg 216] the people, and ceremoniously installed him in his office.

During our stay here I examined the neighbourhood of the village, and met with some former strongholds, the remains of which proved that they must have been extensive. We also found the traces of a long street, enclosed by walls, running east and west through the village, together with the ruins of many stone houses. The natives could give us no clear information concerning them.

On the 8th of September we made ready for our departure. When our people were on the point of embarking in the boats, the above-mentioned Orang Tua of Fannabel came to me to complain that the four slaves had not yet been given up to him, and that if we departed before this took place he would never get them back. I therefore caused it to be announced to the defaulter, that if he did not perform his contract I would take the slaves from his house by force, on which they were immediately given up. After having impressed him with a sense of the injustice and impropriety of conduct he had been guilty of, I caused my interpreter to draw up, in Arab characters, a solemn agreement of mutual reconciliation[Pg 217] and friendship, which was signed by both parties, who promised in my presence that they would henceforward live together in amity.

The Orang Kaya, with all his chiefs, accompanied us on board, and took a friendly farewell of us, after having received some presents of coffee and arrack. On the same day we left our anchorage off Wadia, and stood to the southward under press of sail, towards the Tenimber Islands.

The day after our departure we sighted the island Vordate to the south-west. From a distance of about twenty miles on this side, this island appears alternately hilly and flat, like irregular mountains, while the neighbouring islands, Larrat, Timor-laut, &c., have a more level appearance. Several reefs extend a considerable distance to seaward from the south-east end of the island.

We continued during the night under easy sail, and the following morning, under the guidance of the pilot, we passed along the west side of Vordate, at a distance of about six miles from the shore. Off the north point, a mile to seaward, lies a rock, for which reason the point must not be made free with. The villages, in[Pg 218] which were displayed a number of small flags, alternating with the fertile valleys, presented an alluring picture to us. As we passed a number of prahus came rowing towards us, the people in which called out to us to anchor off their village. The pilot, however, affirming that there was good anchorage near Larrat, we continued our course without accepting the invitation of the islanders. We crossed the extensive reef of Larrat in irregular depths of three, four and five fathoms, and ran along the north-west coast towards the mouth of a bay, which is formed between the island of Larrat and the point of Timor-laut.

On approaching the entrance of the bay, I clearly perceived that there was no possibility of the brig being able to enter. On perceiving this, the pilot, as is usual with natives under similar circumstances, became completely cast down, and all that I could learn from him was that he had never visited the island before except during the westerly monsoon, and then only in small vessels which they could row over the reefs. This was all very true; but had he only given me the slightest idea of the situation of the bay, I should certainly not have come here; but it was now necessary[Pg 219] to make a virtue of necessity, and come to a speedy determination. The wind blew directly out of the mouth of the bay, which was very narrow, so that there was no possibility of working in. We could obtain no bottom with the deep-sea lead and one hundred fathoms of line, while we were everywhere surrounded by shoals. I therefore sent the boats to lie on the edge of the coral reef which fronts the village of Watidal, and then stood on, hoping that our anchor might hook a rock and hold fast; but, although the anchor was let go in four fathoms water, it had dragged into twelve fathoms before the ship was brought up, while under the stern there was thirty-eight fathoms. A kedge was then carried out astern, to prevent the tide from swinging the ship on to the reef.

Before the sails could be furled, or the boarding nettings spread, the brig was surrounded on all sides by a number of canoes, and I had no sooner given permission to a couple of natives to come on board, than the others all followed, so that, in a less space of time than five minutes, the brig was full of men, who had crept on board through the ports and every place where[Pg 220] they could find admission. With a view to inspire them with confidence I permitted them to enter, and received them in as friendly a manner as possible, the distribution of some glasses of arrack among them contributing not a little to produce the desired effect.

The village off which we had anchored, like all on these islands, was erected on a hill of limestone rock, near the sea shore. These villages present a very picturesque appearance: they consist, according to their population, of from twenty to fifty houses, erected near each other, upon piles from six to eight feet high. These dwellings are from twenty to twenty-five feet long by twelve to fifteen broad. They are enclosed on all sides, and have a couple of long holes cut in the walls to serve for windows. The roofs are covered with a thatch of palm leaves, these being first arranged on small sticks, and then placed neatly on the roof, overlapping each other. The interior is usually kept in good order; but every part is blackened with smoke from the fires they employ in cooking their provisions. The house is entered by a door in the centre of the floor, to which the inhabitants ascend by means of a ladder.[Pg 221] Against the wainscoat, immediately fronting the door, is placed a small scaffold of carved wood, having upon it a large dish, containing the skull of one of the forefathers of the owner of the house, whose weapons are also hung around it. These consist of bows made of bamboo, bound round with thread, and provided with strings of buffalo hide, and of arrows three feet and a half long, made of thin reed or rattan, with sharp iron points. With these they are able to bring down a hen or other bird at the distance of sixty or seventy paces, rarely or never missing their mark. In addition to these weapons they have muskets, lances with iron points, old swords and long parangs. These last, which they obtain from the Ceramese and Macassars, have their handles covered with sharks' skin, and ornamented with handsome shells, a small metal bell being usually appended to it. The combs and necklaces of the inhabitants, which I shall describe more fully when speaking of their mode of dress, are also displayed on this stage. Round the interior of the house against the wall is erected a framework, a foot and a half from the floor, which serves for beds by night and for seats by day.[Pg 222] These are occupied chiefly by the women, the men squatting down on the floor in the centre of the room.

On the right side of the entrance is placed a clay fire-place, supported by a wooden stand, on which the provisions of the inmates are cooked, these last being kept upon a large shelf above the fire-place. Their more valuable property is hung around on the wall, or preserved under the benches which line the wall. Upon the whole, their dwellings present an appearance of greater neatness than those of the inhabitants of the islands to the westward.

Before reaching the village it is necessary to pass the spot where their dead is deposited, the interment of whom is attended with several curious ceremonies. The body is wrapped in cloth, usually coarse Mirzapore chintz, and put into a coffin made of rough planks, fastened with wooden pins, a dish being placed under the head. The coffin is then taken to the burial ground, and wrapped round with the above-mentioned coarse chintz, after which it is deposited on a stage raised four or five feet from the ground. A piece of Mirzapore chintz, fastened to a long bamboo stick,[Pg 223] is hoisted over the burial place, and a paling is erected round it, on which are hung baskets containing fruits, cooked yams, fowls, rice and other provisions, which are occasionally renewed. The heat of the sun, and the rains, soon cause the chintz in which the coffin has been enveloped, to decay and fall off, but it is immediately renewed, and another dish placed under the skull. Should the body be that of a rich man, or of the relative of one of the village chiefs, the skull is removed to the house, and placed in a conspicuous spot, as I have before mentioned. If, on the other hand, the body is that of a poor man, the remains are thrown together into a cleft in a rock, or some such place, as soon as the coffin has decayed. The bodies of malefactors are buried at once, without anything being erected to mark the place of interment. The remains of human beings are never to be seen scattered about, and it is extremely difficult to obtain a skull from the natives. I have frequently seen the entire skeleton through the sides of the coffin, when it has become full of holes through age and decay. During still weather an intolerable smell arises from these[Pg 224] cemeteries; but the natives appear not to suffer the least inconvenience from it.

The vessels of the natives are usually hauled up on the beach near these burial places, and protected from the weather by sheds similar to our boat-houses. These vessels are chiefly of the kind called "jonkos," which are either built here or on the island Baba. They are constructed of rough planks, fastened to each other by wooden pins, and bound to the timbers with bands of rattan. Saws are never employed in cutting the planks, neither are iron nails ever used in the construction of their vessels. The sides of the jonkos are held apart by thwarts, upon which a deck of bamboos is laid, so that, when complete, they may be considered as tight and seaworthy. The gunwale is usually two or three feet above the level of the water. Their length is from forty to fifty feet; breadth from ten to twelve feet; and they carry from twelve to sixteen tons. A roof of atap covers the whole.

Each village usually possesses two or three of these vessels, the property of the entire community; but they have also numerous canoes with outriggers, some of which are large enough to[Pg 225] contain a thatched habitation. These craft are employed in fishing, or in the transport of goods from island to island.

On making enquiries concerning the trading vessels which came here, I learned, among other things, that during the previous year a vessel under the English flag had arrived at the east extremity of Timor-laut, the master of which sent his boat on shore to purchase provisions, giving out that he had been necessitated to visit the place from a great mortality and sickness having occurred among his crew. In how far this was the case, I will leave to the judgment of those who are aware of the artifices of the English, in order to carry on a smuggling trade in these parts,[35] and, above all, to import prohibited goods, such as gunpowder and ammunition. Thus was the brig, in name (dakleijen), loaded only with roofing slates and iron, but, in fact, she had a large number of muskets, swords[Pg 226] and other weapons on board. The captain agreed with the natives to give weapons in exchange for stock, and went on shore with half his crew, which consisted of ten Europeans. In the mean time the natives considered this to be a fine opportunity to overpower those who remained on board, and gain possession of the vessel. They, therefore, boarded her unexpectedly in great numbers, and murdered the people in her, while at the same time those on shore were made away with, with the exception of two boys, who owed their preservation to the interposition of the women. After this crime had been committed, they hauled the brig on shore, stripped her of all they could carry away, and burned her. The plundered goods were shared out among the inhabitants, and part of them sold to the traders who visited them, the remainder being kept, and now, perhaps, serving as finery for the inhabitants of the east coast of Timor-laut. One of the village chiefs stated to me on this occasion, that he had himself seen the chain cable of the brig hanging around the village, and that two iron carronades which had belonged to her lay there upon the ground, the natives not having, yet mustered sufficient courage to fire them off.

[Pg 227]

I fixed the day subsequent to our arrival for a general meeting of the people, at which I might make known the benevolent intentions of the Government, and the object of my visit. One of the Orang Kayas of Serra was accidentally here, making preparations for his return home, so that I had a good opportunity of sending an invitation to all the chiefs of that island to come and see me, as I could not promise with confidence to visit them in their own villages.

We have already seen proofs of the desire shown by the natives to adopt, in some particular or other, the mode of dress of our countrymen. As may be supposed, they have no idea whatever of making clothes, and this is the chief reason of their having such a ludicrous appearance when clad in their European vestments. They were, therefore, not a little delighted at finding that I had had several coats made on board, of red, blue and green cloth, which I gave to them, in addition to the Government presents. Garments of this description are not only viewed as a dress of state, but are considered as distinguished tokens of honour; and it will, therefore, readily be conceived that they are preserved with[Pg 228] the greatest care as heirlooms, and used only on festive occasions.

Early on the morning of the 12th, I went on shore with a numerous escort, and under the customary salute from the guns. In the middle of the village of Watidal a booth had been erected, and covered with the sails of vessels, under which were numerous seats of plank, the part assigned to me, as Vakeel or Embassador of the Dutch Government, being arranged with especial care, and covered with fine coloured calico. Voluntary homage to our Government was apparent in all their actions. The people not only filled the booth, but surrounded it on all sides, leading me to believe that the entire population, young and old, were present. The presents were received with the loudest expressions of joy and thankfulness. The entire day was spent in installing the village chiefs, and making arrangements for preserving peace and unity among them. The villages are all independent of one another, each having its own territory, consisting of a portion of land, and contiguous trepang banks, and being governed by its own chief. So long, therefore, as they respect the[Pg 229] property of their neighbours, and live according to the old usages of their forefathers, they remain in perfect peace with each other. The upper chief, whom I appointed for Watidal, was an aged man, not at all deficient in good sense and ability. He spoke very good Malayan, although the language of the natives consists of a peculiar dialect, in which point there is a remarkable difference between them and the people of the neighbouring islands.

I could no where discover any remains which would point out that an officer of the East India Company had resided here, whence I concluded that the Dutch had not visited these islands for a long series of years.

The authority of our Government here was more necessary than one would be led to suppose, from the state of society which exists among these people. The chiefs are respected by the common men as the oldest, the most experienced, and the richest among the inhabitants; they are consulted when differences occur, and their decision is usually respected; but they still want, to give force to their authority, an act of appointment from our Government. The considerate reader, who will already[Pg 230] have perceived in the particulars previously related, how fond these simple people are of outward show, will not be surprised to find that such an installation is considered as an important epoch in the history of their country, and that they wished to celebrate the day on which they were visited by an officer of the Netherlands Government, after so long a period of neglect, with all joy and solemnity, as a national festivity.

The want of a formal act of appointment from the Dutch Government has been attended with results very detrimental to the welfare of the natives, especially those of Watidal. In the time of the Ceramese Hongie-togten,[36] the chiefs of Watidal had been presented with sticks provided with knobs, on which the arms of the Company were engraven. This token of alliance with us was not sufficient to prevent the covetous Ceramese from practising extortion upon them, and when the chiefs complained openly to the Company, and stedfastly refused all irregular contributions, the Ceramese did not hesitate to plunder and rob them in open enmity. This would not have taken place had the chiefs been[Pg 231] appointed with more solemnity, and provided with regular acts of appointment, in which case their subjects would have been more subordinate to their control, and the Ceramese rovers would have been withheld from plundering by dread of punishment.


[34] These are called imitation calicoes, from their being European imitations of the pattern and material of the cotton manufactures of India.—Ed.

[35] In Marsden's Malayan Grammar, among the letters given in the Appendix, will be found a remarkable example of these English tricks. An English captain came to the King of Tringanu, with a pretended letter of recommendation from the Governor-General of India; asked permission to enter the river to repair, and smuggled several chests of opium on shore!

[36] Expedition for the extirpation of the spice trees, undertaken in the time of the old (Dutch) East India Company.

[Pg 232]



Visit to Watidal.—Respect shown to the Dutch Flag.—The English supposed by the Natives to be Orang-gunung, or Mountaineers.—The Prosperity of the People inseparable from the Rule of the Dutch over these Countries.—Traces of the Christian Religion having formerly obtained here.—Departure from Larrat to Vordate.—Allurements of the latter Island.—The Inhabitants of the Tenimber Islands.—Their Manners and Customs.—Mode of Warfare.—Striking Proofs of their Attachment to the Dutch Government.

The English, during their short possession of the Moluccas, sent a British flag to the people of Watidal, who had preserved it well, but without making any use of it. When I demanded the reason of this, I was answered that they plainly perceived that this was not a Company's flag, and that they would not recognize any other nation than the Dutch as their allies. Their ideas[Pg 233] of the different European nations are very singular. From their questions, it appeared that they considered the Orang Compania (the Dutch) only as true white people, and that they were unacquainted with other Europeans. They asked me if the English were not the inland mountaineers, or Orang Gunung, like the inhabitants of Timor-laut, and other barbarous people.

The natives call themselves "Anak Compania," literally, Children of the Company; and they often expressed to me their surprise at the difficulties the traders who arrived at the island, threw in their way to prevent them from visiting Banda. They also expressed themselves much discontented at the arbitrary mode of trading adopted by the native merchants from Banda, which had often necessitated them to be their own judges, as they dared not nourish a hope that the Dutch would again visit and defend them. This state of affairs caused them to retrograde in point of civilization, as by continually taking revenge for offences committed against them, they themselves have become wild and rapacious, so much so that the Tenimber islanders are in bad repute among their neighbours, being considered as dangerous characters. They absolutely[Pg 234] prohibited the Macassar traders from coming to the islands, because the numbers in which these arrived gave rise to a fear on the part of the inhabitants, that the traders would bring them under their power, and treat them in an arbitrary manner, which, as they said, took place too often already. It will readily be supposed, that it cost me much time and trouble to induce the natives to renew their intercourse with these people, and at the same time it will be perceived how much extortion these simple, though numerous, islanders have been subjected to since they lost the protection of the Dutch Government.

A Dutch garrison in these islands, although giving rise to an increased government expenditure, would contribute greatly to extend the trade of the Moluccas, and at the same time effect a humane object; for, owing to the want of Dutch protection, the inhabitants of the Tenimber Islands will be led to follow the example set them by their rapacious visitors. Their desire to be governed by representatives of our Government, is as great as that of the natives of the other islands, and they would willingly afford them the necessary maintenance and shelter.

[Pg 235]

I could not discover precisely at what period the Christian religion obtained in these islands; but from having found some old Bibles among them, coupled with other circumstances, I was convinced that it had existed at some earlier period. I did not meet with an idol in any of their villages. When saying their prayers they look up towards heaven, in acknowledgment of a Supreme Being; but, as is usual among uncivilized people, their religious ideas are coupled with the wildest superstition. They are by no means averse to our religion, but, on the contrary, express their willingness to adopt it. The firm resistance they have made to the endeavours of the Mohammedan priests to convert them is very praise-worthy, these never meeting with the least success in their exertions. The people of Tenimber could never, I think, be prevailed on to abstain from pork and spirituous liquors, and it is possible that this is one of the reasons for their aversion to Islamism.

It soon came to my knowledge, that some serious differences had occurred between some of the villages on Vordate, which had already caused an appeal to arms. This spread general dejection among the natives, as it entirely put a stop[Pg 236] to the trepang fishery, the chief source of their prosperity.

I used my utmost endeavours to induce some of the natives to visit Timor-laut, in order to apprise the natives of my arrival, and, if possible, to free the two English youths who had been saved from the brig, the loss of which I have previously mentioned, but without success. It appeared that they were at war with the people of Timor-laut, and considered their force too small to afford hope of success: this reason appeared to me so conclusive, that I could not urge them farther. To proceed directly thither in person would not only be acting against my instructions, but the smallness of the force at my disposal rendered such a proceeding very unadvisable. Neither could the boats attached to the brig, be of the least service in such an expedition.

After having been employed the entire day, according to my instructions, in attending to the affairs of the natives, the squally appearance of the sky in the evening, made me determine to return to the brig, leaving my clerk and the interpreters to obtain further information. I had scarcely got on board when a heavy squall from the land brought[Pg 237] our bower-anchor home. The brig swung off, and hung by the kedge; but this also broke before the bower-anchor had been hove up, and, as we drifted off the bank immediately, it became necessary to get the brig under sail. I therefore made a signal for those on shore, who returned immediately; and as this was evidently an unfit place for the brig to remain in, while it was still more unadvisable to stand off and on, from the probability that existed of our being set on the reefs, I stood at once towards Vordate, which we had previously passed by owing to the assertions of our pilot, hoping we might find good shelter there.

Early on the following morning we found ourselves close under the shore of that island, when the boats were sent away to find anchorage; and I was soon rejoiced by seeing the signal made which had been determined on, in the event of their search being successful. I now chose our anchorage close to the reef, and carried a cable on shore, which was made fast to the trees on the middle of the bank. The bower-anchor lay in thirty fathoms sand, while the brig was not more than three quarters of a cable's length from the reef; rather too little room, perhaps, but the situation[Pg 238] did not appear to me as being dangerous, as the wind always blows steadily off shore, and there was not sufficient current to swing the brig on to the reef. A considerable period elapsed, however, before we could bring the brig up, as the sand proved to be bad holding-ground. The anchor dragged twice, and it was not until the third attempt, when a warp had been carried on shore, that we succeeded in making all fast. Several vessels, containing some of the principal inhabitants, came rowing round the ship, on which I invited them on board, and, receiving them with all possible friendship, cursorily acquainted them with the object of my visit.

When seen from this side, the island appears hilly. The frontage is covered with vegetation, and bears the appearance of possessing uncommon fertility. Even the sides of the high hills were laid out in beautiful gardens, the groves of cocoa-nut, and other large trees that separated them, between which might often be perceived the dwellings of the cultivators, presenting an agreeable variety to the prospect. The splendid landscape that opened before us, the majesty of the forest-crowned hills, the picturesque beauty of the entire tract of country,[Pg 239] and the luxuriant growth of the vegetation, altogether offered too striking a view for my feeble pen to describe.

The north-east side of the island is uninhabited. On the north-west side lie the villages of Sebiano and Adodo; while the south coast is occupied by the villages of Ameer, Ewena and Romian. The only anchorage is on the north-west side of the island, every other part being surrounded by reefs, through which it is difficult to pass even with boats at low water.

The inhabitants of the various islands of the Tenimber group bear much resemblance to each other, in language, customs and other particulars. They are usually well formed, and possess a fairer complexion than most of their neighbours, while their features display few of the characteristics of the inhabitants of the Indian Archipelago generally, being more in accordance with those of Europeans, to whom they would bear much resemblance were it not for the dark colour of their complexion. In point of stature the women are superior to those of the neighbouring island; the young ones especially, are uncommonly handsome, their beauty being much increased by their simple mode of[Pg 240] dress instead of by fashionable attire, their costume consisting only of a small piece of blue cloth worn round the waist. Men as well as women wear several ornaments, such as gold and silver rings, of their own manufacture, suspended from their ears, each of which is pierced with several holes. The women are very partial to necklaces and bracelets of small red beads, which, indeed, add much to their graceful appearance.

The heaviest portion of the labour is performed by the women, the men devoting themselves to warlike pursuits, the chase, the fishery and commerce. Early in the morning the young unmanned women, under the escort of three or four armed men, depart for the plantations in the interior, and at sunset in the evening they may be seen returning, laden with the produce of their labour, which they bear in baskets upon the head. The married and elderly women, usually remain at home, where they employ themselves in household affairs, tending the stock, and preparing the meals. On the marriage of a young woman, she adorns her ankles with one or two copper rings, which make a ringing noise at every step, by no means disagreeable to the ear. These singular ornaments give them a[Pg 241] peculiar halting gait, the rings being from two and a half to three pounds weight.[37] Some are carved with various figures.

The natives of the lower class usually go entirely naked, only the chiefs and heads of families, with those who have visited foreign parts, wearing any clothing.

Their warlike equipment is very singular. Like the Ceramese, and other Indian nations, they have their warriors or champions, who, when preparing for war, anoint their heads abundantly with cocoa-nut oil, and mix large bunches of loose hair with their own, which they raise up in a towering manner by means of a large bamboo comb, adorned with cock's feathers of various colours, to give them a fear-inspiring appearance. Their hair is also confined by bands of coloured cloth, studded with red beads, and ornamented with hanging shells. Round the middle they wear a piece of dried buffalo's hide by way of armour, to which is suspended their knife and their klewang or cutlass. Large golden rings are attached to the ears; the neck is protected by a thick[Pg 242] collar, studded with white shells; the costume of the warrior being completed by bands of ivory, worked over with beads, worn on the arms.

When they go to war with their neighbours all other occupations are neglected, and they employ themselves in wandering through the forest, watching for opportunities to carry off the enemy's women. Occasionally the warriors call each other out, when a skirmish takes place; but their warlike propensities are chiefly exercised in plundering, and in waylaying the enemy when employed in his plantations or at the fishery, but never coming to a regular open fight. More sagoweer, or palm wine, is drank at this time than at any other, the cocoa-nut trees being put to no other use than to supply the ingredients. Before the tree bears fruit the blossom is enclosed in a case, the bottom of which is cut every day, and an earthern pot, or a piece of hollow bamboo, placed under to catch the sap, which, when fermented, acquires an intoxicating power.

As on the islands visited during the previous part of the voyage, there existed here differences, and wars arising from insignificant causes, enduring for years, and never adjusted except by the[Pg 243] accidental mediation of traders or others from the neighbouring countries. Pride, jealousy and exasperation prevent either party from taking the first step towards reconciliation. Several examples of this will be given in the ensuing pages.

Until late in the evening the arrival and departure of natives from the shore never ceased. I sent my interpreters on shore to make known the object of my visit in the various villages, and to call the chiefs together to a general meeting. On the following morning one of the boats, armed with two one-pounder guns, was sent in advance to the village of Aweer, on the south-west point of the island, and I followed soon after in another boat, accompanied by the gentlemen attached to the commission. On stepping ashore we were saluted by a salvo from the guns of the boat sent in advance, and were received with friendship by a large concourse of natives clad in their war dresses. We first entered the village of Aweer, where women and children, as well as men, assembled around us, which, as I have previously remarked, always affords an undoubted proof of friendship and confidence on the part of the natives. We were much struck by the[Pg 244] neatness of this village, and the large amount of its population. We perceived no less than a hundred handsome huts, built in the manner previously described.

The curiosity of the natives was very great, which is not very surprising when it is considered that we were probably the first Europeans they had ever seen. They could scarcely be satisfied with narrowly viewing us on all sides. The Orang Kaya of Aweer, a very well-mannered young man, welcomed us with many expressions of friendship; and his handsome young wife, to whom he had lately been married, kindly tendered us some sagoweer and tuak, or palm-wine.

From here I proceeded to the village Ewena, where we were also received with much courtesy. This is the centre one of the three villages which lie on this side of the island, and the least populous. Romian, the third, is situated farther to the eastward, none of them being more than a musket-shot apart. The latter village is equal to Aweer in point of population.

This day having been fixed on for a preliminary meeting of the chiefs, at which we might learn something of their social state, I was unable to[Pg 245] tarry long at either of the villages. In passing I charged the chiefs to bring all their wars and contentions to an end, and announced to them that I should enquire into the causes of their differences, and make an equitable adjustment of them.

When I desired to proceed to Romian, they wished to restrain me, stating that they would be apprehensive for my safety, as the people of Romian from jealousy at my having previously visited the other villages, would probably make an attack on me.[38] Even the interpreters were afraid to go there, until something more had been learned concerning them. As I was aware, however, of the high respect with which the natives in general view the Company, whom they regard as their benefactors and allies, I went confidently towards the people drawn up under arms, accompanied only by two unarmed seamen waving the Dutch flag in front, a proceeding which the assembled multitude witnessed with astonishment and alarm, not being able to conceive how I dared to undertake it,[Pg 246] without previously obtaining hostages for my safety.

As I had expected, I was received with frankness and enthusiasm, and admitted into the village with shouts of joy. Old and young, men and women, viewed me as their deliverer in the need, and the welkin rang with the cry of "Salamat datang, Tuda Compania!" (Welcome! representative of the Company!)

In a few words I informed them of the object of the Government in sending me here, and testified to them my anxious desire to establish peace among them, to effect which they requested my assistance. On my assuring them that the people of the other villages would lay down their arms, they promised on their part to refrain from hostilities, and to await with peace and quietness the effects of my intervention. I also requested them to give free admission to my interpreters and the other officials, that they might pursue the necessary enquiry.

In the mean time, I caused the presents which had been brought for each village to be taken from the boats, and ordered the armed seamen to approach; after which I permitted the letter of the Government to be solemnly read and explained[Pg 247] to them, and distributed the presents to the chiefs. After having promised to come back and settle their differences, I returned to Ewena and Aweer, where the presents of the Government were also distributed, and received with great thankfulness; the people expressing their sense of the kindness of the Company, and stating anew how ardently they had longed for the return and assistance of the Dutch Government, and how fortunate they would esteem themselves were they again to be recognized as "Anak Compania," or children of the Company. What may we not do with such people?

The day was spent in examining into their differences, and in transacting the business which had been entrusted to me by the Government; and towards evening I returned on board, promising to pay them another visit on the following day.

I was able to leave these villages with much satisfaction, as I had had another opportunity of seeing how ineffaceably the old Dutch Government is fixed in the memories of these people; and also, as I had had the good fortune to effect something towards promoting the welfare of my fellow-men. The thought of having, by timely intervention, put a[Pg 248] stop to wars, murders, and running away with women, afforded me more pleasure than I can express. This thought caused me to disregard all difficulties, and encouraged me cordially to assist with my best advice, this uncivilized, but, at the same time, uncorrupted and simple people.


[37] The very young girls also wear a similar ornament, but it is much lighter, being made of thick brass wire.

[38] It must here be remarked, that I had not yet conversed with any of the people of Romian, and was therefore unacquainted with their disposition. As they lay so far from the brig, and were at war with their neighbours, they were afraid to pay me a visit.

[Pg 249]



The Village Chiefs of Sebeano.—Ludicrous Mistake.—War between Romian and Ewena.—The insignificant Cause which gave rise to it.—Successful Attempts at Reconciliation.—Contribution towards giving a Knowledge of their Character.—State of the Country.—Productions and Commerce.—The Author visits Larrat.—Uncivil Reception at Kalioba.—Departure for Watidal.—Meeting on the North-west Point of Timor-Laut.—Departure for Serra.

We returned on board, accompanied by a numerous party of Sohbats, or friends, a considerable number having preceded. I found that the chiefs of Sebeano had been alongside, but without venturing on board: they returned, however, on the following morning. I received this numerous company on deck, the cabin being too small for so many guests. A glass of arrack and a little Java tobacco formed the most acceptable refreshment I could offer them. The chiefs of Sebeano[Pg 250] and some others were extremely alarmed, speaking in a tremulous manner, and being scarcely able to bring out the words they wished to utter.

It accidentally happened that while we were sitting together on deck, it became necessary to spread the awning, on which the officer of the watch ordered the men aft to perform this duty. The word of command for this is usually given with much quickness, and a number of men instantly came aft to obey it, whose sudden appearance caused such a panic in the breasts of the chiefs, that many of them sprang on their feet in a moment, and some actually popped overboard through the ports, while two of them rushed down the companion and concealed themselves in the cabin. All this happened so suddenly, that at first I could not imagine the cause. The others, who were somewhat acquainted with the usages of a ship, remained seated, and laughed heartily at the ungrounded fears of their more ignorant countrymen. The chiefs of Sebeano now seeing their mistake, returned on board very much ashamed, and making ludicrous gestures.

I returned to the shore in the morning, according to my promise, having previously sent twenty seamen, according to my usual custom, to add[Pg 251] more solemnity to the meeting. In the mean time the interpreters had returned, with the agreeable intelligence that the chiefs would willingly receive my intervention, and abide by the decision I might come to.

An enquiry into the causes of their wars will assist in giving an idea of the disposition of these people: I will, therefore, give a short account of the causes of the enmity which had arisen against the people of Romian, which were as follows:—

The people of Romian happened to have more success at the trepang fishery than the people of the other villages during two successive years, which gave rise to an envious feeling on the part of their neighbours, which was increased by a Chinese vessel having remained at Romian to trade, while only one of the Chinamen belonging to her proceeded to Ewena, to barter with the inhabitants. These circumstances gave rise to distrust and estrangement, and the people of both villages began to avoid each other, though without coming to an open rupture.

A third accidental circumstance which occurred, tended to enlarge the breach. While the children belonging to the two villages were playing with small bows and arrows, a child from Ewena happened[Pg 252] to wound slightly one of those from Romian. The inhabitants of the latter place viewing the accident as an intentional offence, demanded satisfaction, and whenever parties from each village met, they proceeded from words to blows, and at length broke out into open war with each other. Each party robbed the other of their women, destroyed their fisheries, and put a stop to their agriculture, becoming more embittered at the occurrence of every deed, until at length, a few weeks before my arrival, a downright skirmish ensued, in which the people of Ewena had one man killed and nine wounded, while ten belonging to the other party were wounded also.

The people of Ewena, being the less powerful of the two, demanded assistance from the inhabitants of Aweer, to some of whose warriors the badge of honour, called the korra-korra,[39] was delivered. The parties now became so exasperated, that there existed no possibility of those who had[Pg 253] not entered into the quarrel being able to pacify them, and the strife soon extended to Larrat, and even to the more distant Serra, where individuals, influenced by family connections, took up the cause of one or the other party. Thus, we find in these distant parts of the globe a confirmation of the fact, that wars and other important events spring from the most insignificant causes. The narrative of these differences afforded me a new proof of how unfortunate these ignorant and uncivilized people are, when they are from under the protection of the Dutch Government, and have been left to themselves for a long series of years.

On my return to the shore I had the satisfaction to perceive, that both parties had laid aside their weapons, but without having renewed their former familiarity. I landed between the two villages, at a spot where I had caused a tent of canvass to be erected, to shelter ourselves and the escort.

As soon as I found that both parties would abide by my decision, I judged it advisable to bring the chiefs together, and to reconcile them as well as possible, in order to render it more[Pg 254] easy to comply with their mutual demands. I also hoped that by being brought together, each party would be inclined to use more courtesy to the other, and I did not hesitate to make them acquainted with my object, promising, at the same time, that I would decide with justice and impartiality. I promised also to stand security for the personal safety of the chiefs of each party; but in spite of this I had the greatest difficulty in inducing them to come forward, and place themselves, one party to the right, and the other to the left of me and my men. Having, at length, succeeded, I brought to their view the mutual detriment that ensued from their discord. The Malayan language, in which I addressed them, was interpreted to them by my linguists. After some time this address appeared suddenly to affect them, and the chiefs of both parties burst into tears, and unanimously entreated me to effect a reconciliation, promising to make any reparation that I might think proper. I took advantage of this favourable opportunity; and placing the hands of the opposing chiefs together, wished that good fortune might attend their reconciliation. This struck them so forcibly that they fell on each[Pg 255] other's necks, and a salvo was immediately fired from the muskets of our party, and from the one-pounders in the boats. The chiefs now sat down in a circle before the tent, and took siri from each other's boxes, as a solemn proof of sincere reconciliation, the interpreters being also requested to partake of it. A glass of arrack was also distributed to each of the by-standers by my steward, and by way of strengthening the renewed friendship, my interpreter delivered a very appropriate and affecting prayer, which met with a most enthusiastic reception. Many of the words uttered by the interpreter were repeated with fervour by the by-standers, from which it was evident that they had been heard attentively.

After this I thought of making a visit to Sebeano; and leaving one of the interpreters behind, withdrew from the assembly, with the promise that I would afterwards enquire into the arrangement of their mutual demands. I have already remarked that, under similar circumstances, the natives should be left to their own deliberations for a certain time, in order to arrive at the desired end.

From the speedy manner in which this reconciliation[Pg 256] was effected, it will perhaps be supposed, that the task of making peace among these people is an easy one; but such is not the case. My patience was sometimes nearly exhausted, for I was obliged to go, certainly, ten times from one village to the other before I could induce the contending parties to come together; and although it was always my wish to effect my object by means of mild remonstrances, I was now and then obliged to make use of serious threats. The good result which usually attended my efforts, incited me to persevere and spare no trouble; but yet, as it will subsequently appear, my labours were sometimes almost insupportable.

On my return to the brig I found that it was too late to carry into effect the plan I had proposed, and I therefore employed the following day in attending to the affairs of Sebeano and the villages lying to the northward, this mode of proceeding giving satisfaction to all parties.

Sebeano, which consisted of about twenty houses, was situated on the sea-coast, an hour's walk to the northward of our position; and two hour's journey beyond this again, was Adodo, a village similar in point of size and situation to the other.[Pg 257] Midway between the brig and Sebeano, a small river ran into the sea, from which we filled our water. A still larger river emptied itself between Aweer and Ewena.

M. Dielwaart and myself, accompanied by the interpreters, spent the early part of the morning in examining the island, which proved to be tolerably well cultivated, and fertile in the extreme. Our path lay over hills, the summits of which afforded us a beautiful prospect of the surrounding country; fine fenced plantations, in which huts were erected for watch-houses, being visible in every direction.

The stock produced on the island consists chiefly of hogs, goats and fowls, the latter being in so great abundance, that three or four were to be purchased for a chopping-knife. These knives, with thick brass wire, parangs, dishes, basins, bottles, red beads, coarse cloths of red and other colours, are the articles most in demand as payment for stock and provisions. Dresses made at Great Timor and Kissa are also much esteemed; as are elephants' tusks, gongs, Javanese dresses, and gold and silver coin, the last being in demand for the manufacture of ear-rings and other ornaments.

The fishery is carried on here in a very simple[Pg 258] manner. Neither nets nor lines are made use of, the fish being taken at the rising of the tide by means of bamboo spears, some of which are provided with ten or twelve small points,[40] while others have only a single barbed point. Bows and arrows are used by others, who wade knee-deep over the coral banks, which absolutely swarm with fish at that time of the tide; indeed, the abundance is so great, that even by this simple method a short time only is required to obtain sufficient for the daily consumption.

On the 17th I held another meeting of the inhabitants of Ewena and Romian, at which the entire population of these villages were present. When installing the chiefs, whom they had chosen as their Orang Kayas, I observed to them that this title of itself signified nothing, unless they showed obedience to those who possessed it, and gave them much other advice which appeared to me to be applicable to their situation. The Orang Kaya of Aweer having been acknowledged on this occasion as the highest in rank, I presented him with a silver-knobbed baton as a token of his rank, while the others received flags to hoist in their[Pg 259] villages, and acts of appointment were drawn up for all.

The period from ten o'clock in the morning until two in the afternoon, was passed in settling their old differences. The result was, that the people of Ewena received back the korra-korra above-mentioned, giving in exchange an elephant's tusk; the other affairs being adjusted in a similar manner. We were then invited into the villages, to partake of some refreshments that had been prepared for us, every thing affording proofs of kindness and friendship.

After my return on board, several young men came to me for the purpose of asking a passage to Banda, but I refused, giving as an excuse that the brig was already full. These islanders willingly leave their homes for a period, their object, I believe, being pure curiosity, coupled with a desire to learn a little of the Malayan language, that they may be viewed with greater respect on their return to their own country. Every year some of them leave the island with the Amboynese and Banda traders, who value them much, as they prove very useful on board their vessels. Many occasionally reside at Banda in the Malayan kampong, where they lead an idle life, occasionally catching fish,[Pg 260] but loitering away the remainder of their time. M. Camphuyzen, the Resident, has often assured me that neither force nor kindness would induce them to lead a laborious life. According to an old custom, which obtains among the Tenimber islanders, those who have committed misdemeanours are often forced to leave their country for a certain time, who may return after a lapse of two or three years, when they are received again with friendship. When the small-pox[41] or other infectious disease appears among them, the patients are sent to the island Mulo, and are not allowed to return until perfectly restored to health. The relatives of these unfortunates show no compunction in leaving them to their fate; and as no one approaches them when under the affliction, they are forced to seek their own subsistence on the shores and amid the forests of the island.

An Orang Tua of Ewena, named David, who, according to his own account, was descended from Christians, joined me as interpreter for a very slight remuneration. In his youth he had been at Amboyna and Banda, where he had made great[Pg 261] progress in the Malayan language, this accomplishment rendering him of great service to us. He frequently assured me, that the submission of the Tenimberese was not to be depended upon, and only arose from the great dread they entertained of the Company; but I thought that I had reason for placing no belief in what he stated. It will appear, however, from what follows, that the satisfaction I experienced at Vordate soon had a most unpleasant set off.

Having determined to pay a visit to Kalioba, a village on Larrat, immediately opposite to Aweer, and having a smaller village, situated a little to the northward, under its rule, I left the brig with two boats, accompanied by M. Dielwaart, Mr. Leydelmeyer the writer, Mr. Cadet Bolk, and the interpreters. Our reception was apparently courteous: the Dutch flag waved in the village, two shots were fired from lelahs, and a portion of the villagers appeared on the beach to meet us. I judged, however, from their behaviour and warlike appearance, that we were not so welcome as it seemed, and my opinion was soon confirmed.

We were not invited to enter the village, and as two boat-sheds were erected on the beach, one of which was empty, we took up our quarters under[Pg 262] it, and brought the goods up out of the boats, which by this time were no longer afloat, the reefs having fallen dry for some distance out to sea. As the natives continually pressed around us, we posted sentries round the shed, who had great difficulty in keeping out the crowd. With a view to inspire them with confidence, I went entirely unarmed and alone into the village, and visited the chiefs and elders in their houses. Neither women nor children were to be seen, and on my remarking this, I was answered that they had gone out to labour in the plantations.

Our arrival had not been unexpected, as it had already been announced to them from Vordate. The uncourteous reception I met with, therefore, annoyed me extremely, as it could not be otherwise than premeditated.

In the meantime I invited the chiefs to approach me, and made them acquainted with the object of my visit, informing them of the good intentions of the Government; after which I caused the letter to be read to them, and distributed the presents, which were similar in every respect to those given to the chiefs of Vordate. They were received, however, with the greatest indifference, as if they conferred a favour on us by accepting them, and any remarks[Pg 263] that I made on the subject were scarcely listened to. Until late at night they continually importuned us for arrack in the most rude manner, and even went so far as to take away the bottles from among our things without asking leave. We found it to be necessary to take the greatest precaution; and this, coupled with the indifference of our dwelling, which admitted both wind and rain, caused us to pass a very unpleasant night.

From the early part of the morning we were again annoyed by people asking for arrack. We requested the chiefs to furnish us with some water and two earthern pots, in which to cook rice and other provisions, but we received neither; and I was necessitated to send the seamen to a river, a quarter of an hour's walk from us, to obtain some of the former, there being no wells near the village. In the early part of the morning a number of women passed us laden with faggots and bamboos full of water, the rattling of the rings on their legs creating a sound similar to that made by the movements of a gang of chained criminals.

I had given permission to two of the seamen to enter the village, with the view of purchasing some goats and fowls; but these soon returned, stating that they had received very unfriendly treatment in[Pg 264] the village, and had been unable to obtain anything. One of them having laid down his handkerchief, found that it was gone when he returned to take it up. I requested the chiefs to cause it to be given up, but did not succeed in obtaining it, until I had paid the owner of the house in which it was lost, the value of two rupees.

In the morning I commenced again with my duties, but had the greatest difficulty in bringing the chiefs together, those who had received the presents being the least willing to make their appearance. Others represented themselves as chiefs who were not so, and demanded similar presents in a brutal manner, going away grumbling on my refusing to comply with their demands. Neither threats nor remonstrances appeared to have any effect upon them. Although I was extremely annoyed at their proceedings, I could not help attributing it to downright stupidity, and I trust that I have not formed a wrong opinion. They seemed totally to disregard the goodness of the Government, and to forget that my visit was made to them at their own invitation. They requested, however, that I would install their chiefs in the name of the Government, which I complied with, at the same time letting them know that I should assuredly inform the[Pg 265] Government of the unfriendly reception I had met with from them.

At four o'clock in the afternoon, when high water occurred, we embarked on board the boats, without the chiefs seeming to care more about us, and left this inhospitable place. We now stood towards Watidal, the village off which the brig had anchored on our first arrival, where we took up our quarters under a boat-shed, and after having received a visit of welcome from the chiefs, made up for our want of rest the previous night by a quiet slumber. On the following morning we hauled the boats up to repair some leakages, and dried the articles which had been wetted by the rains we experienced at Kalioba. We afterwards visited the chiefs, and I have the satisfaction of saying, that we were received with the same kindness as before, but somewhat less than that we had experienced at Vordate, which may be attributed to their inferior state of civilization. My steward obtained some fowls, eggs, yams and cocoa-nuts, in exchange for knives, brass-wire, and pieces of cloth. From these we prepared a meal, of which two of the Orang Kayas partook.

In the afternoon a large prahu arrived from Serra, bound to Larrat and Vordate on a trading[Pg 266] voyage, on board which was one of the chiefs of the former island, who had come for the purpose of paying me a visit. He informed me that the other chiefs would also have come, but were withheld by having heard that the brig had departed from Larrat, they not knowing where she was gone to. The Orang Kaya proceeded with his vessel to Vordate, promising that he would soon return to Serra; and as it appeared to me advisable to pay a visit to that island, particularly as the people in the prahu expressed a strong desire that I should do so, I determined to commence my voyage thither immediately.

Having landed, towards evening, on the north-west point of Timor-Laut, I witnessed a very singular ceremony. About twenty women, ornamented with beads, appeared walking in line with stately steps, some bearing bunches of plantains, and others baskets of yams or cocoa-nuts. Two men, armed with large parangs and other weapons, preceded and followed the train, the whole keeping their eyes fixed on the ground, and bending their steps towards the spot where they deposited their dead. I perceived that they came out of a hut in the forest where they had assembled; and following them at a distance, I found that they decorated the[Pg 267] grave of one of their countrymen with what they had brought, and with signs of strong feeling, turned again towards their homes.

The chiefs of the circumjacent villages fitted out a small prahu in conjunction, which was intended to accompany me to Serra, to the crew of which I paid a small salary. It was necessary for me to obtain such a vessel, as the boats were too full to carry sufficient water for the voyage. The eldest son of the Orang Kaya, who was also one of the village chiefs, having agreed to accompany me, we left our bivouac on the afternoon of the same day, and pursued our voyage towards Serra.


[39] This badge of honour, which had long been in the possession of the forefathers of the inhabitants of Romian and Ewena, and had been placed in the keeping of the latter, was the prow of a korra-korra (a large prahu) formed of chased gold, the possessor being entitled to carry a similar badge, made of gilded wood, in his vessels. It is, probably, considered as a talisman; similar superstitions occurring among many of the native nations.

[40] This instrument appears to resemble the fishgig in use among the natives of New South Wales.—Translator.

[41] Dr. Wilson, in his valuable work on Australia, remarks that the natives of the north coast of Australia are also sufferers from this disease.—Translator.

[Pg 268]



Departure for the Island Maling.—Laboba Island.—Productive Fishery.—Heavy Dew on the Island Wau.—Arrival at the Village of Maktia.—Occurrences there.—One of the Crew severely wounded.—Return towards Vordate.—Return of the Envoys to Serra.—Want of Water.—Poisonous Beans.—Death of the wounded Man.—Return to the Brig.—Arrival of the Chiefs of Serra.—Transactions at Vordate.—Departure from the Tenimber Islands.—Arrival at Amboyna.

After having passed the night on the island Teen, under the coast of Timor-Laut, we pursued our voyage early on the morning, and passed through a number of small islands, without meeting with any occurrence worthy of remark. Turtle of an enormous size often made their appearance on the surface, and trepang lay on the banks in the greatest abundance. The greater number of the islands are rocky, with trees upon them; but these had almost entirely lost their leaves, owing[Pg 269] to great, heat and want of rain. There are numerous channels through the shoals which fill this part of the sea, but they are so small and crooked that the navigation proves very difficult. The larger vessels, which pass to and from Serra, keep to the westward of the course we pursued.

Towards noon the falling of the tide prevented us from proceeding, and we therefore landed on Maling island, a little to the eastward of Laboba, the latter island being distinguished from the others by a peaked hill, raised about seven hundred feet above the level of the sea, from the summit of which we saw the land of Timor-Laut over the tops of the numerous small islands lying to the eastward. Laboba is rocky, but covered with trees; and a stream of fresh water exists on the east side, running down from the hill. A number of islands and reefs lie to the westward of this island, shutting it in from the open sea. The vessel of the son of the Orang Kaya, which accompanied us, was unable to keep way with our boats, and did not arrive until two hours after us.

After we had landed, I permitted the crew to haul the seine, and at two draughts we obtained abundance of very delicate flavoured fish. We[Pg 270] met with no game, however, except numbers of sea-mews, which roosted on the island at night, their days being employed in seeking sustenance over the adjacent waters.

Towards evening we again continued, having arranged that the Orang Kaya should await our arrival at the point of Maktia, a spot about twenty miles distant from Serra, that he might procure fresh water for us from the adjacent village. He expected to be there before us, as he purposed running close along the coast of the main island, which the small draft of his vessel would enable him to do, and there, during calms or contrary winds, he would find no difficulty in pushing his vessel along by means of long bamboos.

The light of the full moon enabled us to continue rowing throughout the night, but the shallowness of the water prevented our reaching Maktia Point, and forced us to remain at Wau Island until the tide should rise. So heavy a dew fell during the night, that we were all wet through before morning. This had a very injurious effect on the health of my fellow-voyagers; M. Dielwaart and myself being afflicted with dreadful pains in the stomach, while many of the[Pg 271] seamen were attacked with the same disease, or with agues. The Orang Kaya had spent the night upon one of the other islands, and joined us in the morning, when we proceeded as fast as the wind would permit towards Maktia, as we already began to feel the want of water. I had now hopes of having an interview with the inhabitants of Timor-Laut, and of being of some service to them.

When seen from a distance, the ten or twelve houses which form the village present a pretty appearance. The mud bank, which fronts the shore, is dry at low water to the distance of a mile to seaward, but the state of the tide permitted us to advance within musket range of the beach, where the boats grounded; and as no harm could ensue, they were permitted to lie in the mud. The Orang Kaya sent one of his men on shore, who would not enter the village, but called to the inhabitants from a distance. The village appeared to be abandoned, for we saw no one but two unarmed men who were leaving it.

Although neither the Orang Kaya nor myself suspected the inhabitants of any bad intentions, I judged it advisable for us to be on our guard. I therefore, in the first place, sent a detachment[Pg 272] of armed seamen, accompanied by the people of the Orang Kaya, into the forest beside the village, to search for water, but they returned without having found any. As the Orang Kaya assured me that water would be found within the village, I sent the men in, and they succeeded in obtaining two bamboos full. They saw no one in the village, and in accordance with my orders did not enter any of the houses, but returned straight to the beach, and kindled a fire to cook some rice and other provisions. I, also, went on shore to obtain an interview with the natives if possible, but not meeting with any one, I caused a small flag and a piece of cloth to be brought from the boat and hung up to one of the trees. At this moment two unarmed men made their appearance at a distance, and I had scarcely returned to the beach for the purpose of entering the boat, when several arrows were shot from the thicket, one of which struck J. Moll, one of the seamen who were collecting wood. He immediately threw away his arms, and called out for assistance, on which he was carried into the boat, while two of his comrades ran into the thicket to search for the offender, but without meeting with success.

[Pg 273]

It was a fortunate circumstance that the fears of the natives induced them to run away immediately after this transaction, for their unexpected attack caused great confusion among us. Two inexperienced seamen left their arms on the beach, and ran to the boats, but I caused two others to take them up, and post themselves near the forest: the natives, however, did not make their appearance.

The wounded seaman had left his arms behind in the forest. I sent several men to obtain them, some shots being previously fired to prevent their being again attacked. They found the weapons untouched, and also picked up several of the arrows that had been shot at us. The wounded man was laid down in the boat, and taken as much care of as possible. One arrow had struck him in the right knee, and another had entered the right buttock; the last wound bleeding very much, creating great weakness, and producing a pain in the heart. The arrows possessed flat iron points, like those I have previously described.

The Orang Kaya wished me to take his men, fifteen in number, and the seamen, for the purpose[Pg 274] of burning the village; but being unwilling to act with hostility, I told him that the Government had recommended me to pursue peaceable measures only, and that I should leave them to punish the villagers. I judged it unadvisable to pursue the course he proposed, particularly as the burning of the village would injure the natives but little, while we, with our small force of only ten Europeans and some Javanese seamen, would be by far the greatest sufferers, were any of our people to be killed or wounded. Shortly after this we heard a gong beat in the forest, which the Orang Kaya informed me was intended to call together their force, stating that it was necessary for us to be on our guard. The water did not rise sufficiently to float the boats until seven o'clock: during the intermediate time we occasionally fired shots from the boat-gun, with the view of cooling the ardour of the natives should they be inclined to attack us.

Owing to the small amount of force at my disposal, the number of the sick, and the helpless condition of the wounded seaman, whose life could be saved only by prompt medical assistance, I deemed it best to leave this place as soon as[Pg 275] possible, the more from the occurrences at Kalioba having given me cause for distrust.

To prevent the expedition from being entirely useless, I proposed to my interpreter, De Haan, a man who had been in the habit of trading with these people, and was much respected by them, that he, with the chief interpreter and the Orang Kaya, should proceed to Serra, and acquaint the chiefs of the intention I had had to visit them. I much regretted that this wearisome journey had proved so fruitless, and only found consolation in the hope that I should have inspired the chiefs of Serra with a just idea of the interest our Government took in their affairs, especially as Serra was one of the chief trading places, and most populous island in these parts. Our goods were, therefore, removed from the prahu, and the envoys stepped into her, taking with them a little arrack and other articles, in order, if possible, to induce the chiefs to visit us at Vordate. I was now forced to give up the hope of being able to free the two English youths, who were in captivity among the natives of Timor-Laut.

We rowed and sailed throughout the night, with[Pg 276] the view of reaching Laboba as speedily as possible, to obtain a supply of fresh water. The wounded man grew worse, his pains being increased by continually lying in a crooked position, from the small size of the boat, and not having had his wounds properly dressed. At noon, on the 23rd, we landed in a bay on the east side of this island, having tasted no water since the previous evening, while for forty-eight hours previously no provisions had been dressed, our sustenance during that period having consisted of biscuit and sago bread. The stream of water, which descended from the hill, was weak and troubled; but was, nevertheless, very acceptable to us. The wounded man, who was wearied out with heat and thirst, was taken on shore and laid under the shade of a tree, fresh bandages being applied to his wounds. The fatigues we had undergone caused us to sleep soundly under the trees, in spite of the furious bites of a number of red ants.

Several of the men cooked and ate some beans they had found on the island, but soon had cause to repent their temerity, as five of them were carried into the boats afflicted with violent pains[Pg 277] in the intestines, from which they were relieved by strong vomiting. These beans, which much resembled our spersie beans, were of a yellow colour, and covered with blue spots.

Towards evening we left the island, and ran close along the coast of Timor-Laut, passing continually over banks and reefs, a fresh southerly breeze pushing us rapidly along. An hour after midnight the unfortunate seaman died, and on the following morning, when we reached the brig, tired and hungry, his body was committed to the deep with the usual ceremony of a naval funeral.

The Orang Kaya of Watidal, who had come here with several vessels to purchase provisions, came on board to pay us a visit, and promised to return in company with the other chiefs. I sent the Orang Tua David on shore, to inform the chiefs of Vordate of my arrival, and to invite the before-mentioned chief of Serra on board the brig.

I was prevented by indisposition from going on shore the following day, although I was anxious to visit Aweer. As soon as I found myself in a fit state to leave the vessel, I went round to the different villages, and employed myself until the[Pg 278] 29th with the affairs and differences of their inhabitants, much patience being required for this duty, on account of the number of disagreeable circumstances attending it. A number of canoes came alongside daily, the owners bringing stock and vegetables to dispose of for knives and brass wire. The chiefs continually came on board for the purpose of begging something; every article they saw attracted their cupidity, and they showed no hesitation in asking for it.

Early in the morning of the 29th, the agreeable intelligence was brought to me, that six large prahus were in sight, coming from the direction of Larrat, which proved to belong to the chiefs of Serra, who, with the interpreters I had sent to them, came alongside at eight o'clock. At first they were afraid to come on board, but after I had personally conversed with them they ran up the side, followed by their numerous retinue, and were received by me with the greatest friendship. They expressed their regret at the event that had occurred at Maktia, and assured me that if I would stay a short time, they would place the offenders in my hands, and that they would revenge the disgrace that had been cast upon them all in a most summary manner. I[Pg 279] told them, however, that the moderation I had shown towards the people of Maktia, afforded a strong proof of the kind disposition of our Government, while I hoped that such a misdeed would never be committed again. The number of my visitors being too great for all to be entertained on board, the meeting was adjourned to the shore, where the prahus of the newcomers were hauled up on the beach. As I wished to detain them at Vordate until our departure, that they might become acquainted with the mode of proceeding adopted by the officers of our Government, I permitted rice and other provisions to be distributed among them during their stay.

The report given by the interpreters of the reception they had met with at Serra, gave me great satisfaction, and made me regret having been unable to proceed there in person. I went on shore at high water with the usual ceremonies, and after having read the Government letter to the assembled chiefs, and distributed the presents, I conversed with them concerning the occurrence on Timor-Laut, at which they expressed much regret. They also promised that henceforward they would be more circumspect in[Pg 280] their transactions with the foreign traders, and would themselves visit Banda during the present year for commercial purposes. A number of large jonkos went this year to Baba, Luan, Lette, and others of the islands to the westward, for the purpose of exchanging gold and calicoes for rice, sago and other products.

Among the chiefs of the island Serra, who were installed this day, was one called Linum, who was appointed as chief Orang Kaya of Walusa. I gave him a silver-knobbed baton, and a large Dutch flag, presenting the others with certificates of appointment. It appeared to me, upon the whole, that the people showed but little respect for the authority of the chiefs. I conversed with them on this subject, explaining to them the duties of the governors and the governed, and had the satisfaction of seeing that my discourse made a lively impression upon them. I shall pass over in silence the difficulties I experienced, in giving these ignorant men a clear knowledge of the mode of proceeding adopted by our Government, and in making them appreciate the value of the philanthropic views of our rulers.

I never met with greater beggars than these people. Although the presents I distributed among[Pg 281] them were of greater value than those which had been given on the other islands, some of the former chiefs had the barefacedness to ask for clothes and other articles, notwithstanding my having repeatedly told them that they ought to be contented with what they had received.

The chiefs of Serra and Sebeano returned with me on board, to taste the so-much esteemed arrack. I caused the interpreter to purchase some hogs and goats for the seamen, at a tolerably high price.

Early on the following day I sent Lieutenant Bruining on shore with thirty men to march to Aweer, (the boats being too small to convey them), while I proceeded direct to the spot at which we had formerly assembled, between Awena and Romian. On landing, the people of the neighbouring villages, together with those of Serra, collected around us; and I employed myself until four o'clock in the afternoon, in transacting the business connected with my mission; when I informed the assembly of my proposed departure for Amboyna, and left them with the pleasing conviction, that our visit to these islands had not only been of great service, but had given the highest satisfaction to their inhabitants. The[Pg 282] chiefs accompanied me on board, and expressed their thanks for the kindness shown to them by the Government, promising also to obtain the freedom of the two English youths on Timor-Laut, and to bring them to Banda.

On the 30th of September, after having rewarded the Orang Tua David, and the crew of the prahu that had been in our service, with some baftas, knives, parangs, brass wire, plates, &c., we took leave of our native friends, and weighed anchor to return to Banda, at which place we arrived on the 3rd of October. We here landed the pilot, Ali-Ali, and after a short stay continued our voyage to Amboyna, arriving there on the 8th. The reader will readily conceive how rejoiced we were, after so long an absence, to set foot again on the beautiful island of Amboyna, where we were received by our families and friends with lively congratulations. In addition to the pleasure which this reception gave me, I had the satisfaction of finding my exertions approved of by the Governor of the Moluccas, M.P. Merkus, by which respected and hospitable officer I was invited to reside at his country-house of Batu-Gadja. My agreeable residence there caused me soon to forget the fatigues I had undergone, so[Pg 283] that I soon after undertook new expeditions to Ternate, Monado, and other places, the description of which I shall pass over, those being places tolerably well known, and proceed to give the reader an account of my second voyage to the parts which form the subject of my work.

[Pg 284]



Preparations for a Voyage to New Guinea.—Departure from Amboyna.—Banda.—Arrival at Kilwari.—Ghissa.—Character of the Inhabitants.—Visit from the Chiefs of Kilwari and Keffing.—Their Wars.—Force of the Islanders.—The Ceram-Laut Islands.—Their Vessels.—Commerce.—Exclusive Right assumed by the Inhabitants over the Coast of New Guinea.—Smuggling Trade of the English.—Papuan Pirates devour their Prisoners.—Slaves.—Sale of Children by their Parents.

Having given my reader a circumstantial account of my voyage to the South-west, South-east and Arru Islands, I will now proceed with the narrative of a voyage undertaken by me, by order of the Government, to examine the coasts of New Guinea and the adjacent islands, the objects being similar to those which gave rise to the former voyage. I received, on this occasion, a resolution of the Government, from which I give the following extract:—

[Pg 285]

"1st.—The acts of M.D.H. Kolff, Lieutenant in the Navy of the First Class, during his voyage to the South-west, South-east and Arru Islands, are approved of on the whole, with thanks for the perfectly satisfactory manner in which he has carried his orders into effect.

"2nd.—The appointment of the chiefs made by M. Kalff are to stand good, and certificates of the same are to be drawn up.

"3rd.—The Captain in the Navy, Commandant of the Division, is to send H.M. brig Dourga, under command of Lieutenant Kolff, on another voyage in the Banda Seas as far as the coast of New Guinea, in order to make an examination of the same, &c., according to a letter of instructions hereafter to be drawn up. Extracts from this to be furnished to Lieutenant Kolff for his information and direction.

"True copy from the Register.
"Signed (W.G.) Paape."

For the sake of brevity, I will refrain from inserting other resolutions of the Government, approving of the distribution I had made of the presents, together with the new instructions with which I was provided for the present voyage.

Having obtained these documents, and all other[Pg 286] necessary articles, I was speedily prepared for the task that had been imposed upon me. I will now offer the reader an account of my discoveries, and the remarkable occurrences which took place, pursuing the same method of simple narrative with that adopted in the former part of the work, and endeavouring to avoid all useless particulars.

I had brought with me from the Bay of Boni, a large boat belonging to the Harbour Department, and as it was evident that I should occasionally have to send out boat expeditions, for which the four belonging to the Dourga were unfit, I was permitted to take it with me. This boat, which was thirty-six feet long, and armed with an eighteen-pounder gun, was too heavy to be carried on the deck of the brig; but as I had before proved her to be a good sea-boat, I did not hesitate to let her sail in company. I received on board a party of military, but, to my regret, some of my former companions remained behind from sickness, among whom was the surgeon, M. Gayser, Officer of Health of the 2nd Class, M. Pierson coming in his stead.

We left Amboyna on the 26th of March, but continued calms prevented our reaching the picturesque[Pg 287] island of Banda until the 1st of April. According to my instructions, I was to obtain here the advice of the Resident, with pilots and interpreters for New Guinea; but as none of the latter were to be met with here, I judged it best to proceed to the Ceram-Laut Islands, where I should be likely to obtain them. The Resident informed me that a war existed between the people of Kilwari and Keffing, and that the interposition of the Government had been requested by several of the tribes. The Commandant Kaltaay, who resided in Kilwari, had come with several others to Banda for this purpose, and had furnished the Resident with the particulars of the affair. His declaration was placed in my hands, with the request that, as I should probably visit these islands, I would endeavour to make peace between the hostile parties, since their wars had greatly injured the native trade, and thereby caused a great want of provisions at Banda. The Commandant Kaltaay had three jonkos with him, which followed the brig, while he, with three of his retinue, took passage with us.

On the 5th of April we left the Roads of Banda, with our little flotilla in company, and were again detained on our voyage by calms,[Pg 288] being unable to reach the channel between Keffing and Ghissa until the 8th. We passed along the edge of the reefs which front the north coast of the latter island, and came to anchor in the mouth of the channel which separates it from the Ceram-Laut Islands.

Ghissa is a low, sandy, uninhabited island, surrounded on all sides by reefs, which extend farthest to seaward from the south end. In the centre of the island is a lagoon, communicating with the sea by a channel on the north side, which absolutely swarms with various kinds of fish, while its shores abound with ducks and snipes. Ghissa was once inhabited; but a war having broken out between the people and those of Kilwari, the latter obtained the upper hand, and drove the others from their island, forcing them to take refuge on Ceram-Laut and the adjacent places, while everything they left behind was destroyed. From this period the island had remained unoccupied. A small portion of the former population still resided on Ceram-Laut, under the rule of a chief in subjection to the people of Kilwari, the latter treating them in a most barbarous manner.

Having anchored close to the villages on Kilwari,[Pg 289] a gun was fired from the brig as a signal that a vessel of war had arrived, and that the chiefs were required to come on board.

This group of islands is known among the natives by the name of Pulo Ceram, (though each has a separate name), from the inhabitants being either descendants of the people of Great Ceram, or fugitives from that island, and following the Ceramese laws and customs. The inhabitants of this range of islands are all Mohammedans, and bear much resemblance in every particular to the professors of the same religion at Amboyna, and the other Molucca Islands.

Kilwari is a small sandy island, overspread with houses, lying to the west-north-west of Ceram-Laut, to which it is joined by a sand-bank. The inhabitants are under the rule of the Raja of Kilwari, and the Commandant Kaltaay, the subjects of the latter forming a small portion only of the population residing on the west side of the island. The two villages are separated from each other by a stone wall, six feet high, and two in thickness, a similar defence surrounding the island. The houses, which are usually raised three or four feet from the ground, have a very poor and neglected appearance, but those of natives of[Pg 290] consequence are enclosed by a substantial stone wall.

Coral reefs extend for a considerable distance from the island, rendering it difficult of approach to ships. The village appeared to me to be within reach of our guns, and should it be necessary to attack them, it would be possible to approach within musket-shot. The best landing-place, on such an occasion, would be a bay on the north side of the island; but boats could easily pass over the reefs. The place could easily be taken by a single square-rigged vessel, and some small craft. It is owing only to their defenceless position that the natives, who are naturally turbulent and rapacious, show any respect for the commands of our Government. Being aware of the mildness of our rule, they often take advantage of it, and enter into the smuggling trade in nutmegs and cloves, which they exchange for gunpowder and arms, as will be seen hereafter.

We had not long been at anchor when the Raja of Kilwari, with all his chiefs, came on board with much solemnity to pay his respects, at the same time testifying his joy at the kindness of the Government in offering to be the mediator between the contending parties. He expressed[Pg 291] his willingness to abide by my decision, and to cease hostilities against Keffing, should I command it.

I sent my clerk with an interpreter to the Major of Keffing, the chief of part of that thickly populated island, to invite him on board, with promise of safe conduct, on which he came to the ship. I subsequently returned the visit of both chiefs at their villages, and was received with great state. The war had ceased from the moment of my arrival. On enquiry it appeared to me, that the people of Kilwari had been the aggressors, and it was arranged that they should pay a fine, on which I caused both parties to meet at the village of Kelu on Keffing, and reconciled them in the Ceramese mode. I was engaged until the 13th in deciding their differences, and although their state of civilization is higher than that of most of the tribes I visited during my previous voyage, the decision of disputes nowhere cost me more difficulty or required more patience. I will refrain from giving a full account of the causes of these disputes, as they would occupy too much space, and will merely give the outline. Several months previous to our arrival, the chiefs of[Pg 292] Keffing and Kilwari fell out, the quarrel arising from mutual jealousy, which found vent in taunts, the usual mode in which the natives manage to create dissensions among themselves. They had already met with their flotillas of korra-korras, and had fought, after their manner, with great obstinacy and bloodshed. The people of Kilwari had been the attacking party, for which reason they were adjudged to pay a fine of two cannons, an elephant's tusk, and some other trifles. According to the custom of the Ceramese, the payment of a fine, coupled with an acknowledgment of having done wrong, puts an end to hostilities; the punishment for all sorts of offences, robbery, and even murder, being commutable to a payment of elephants' tusks, lelahs, gongs, cloth, &c. Some villages possess a peculiar hereditary right connected with the payment of fines, which are respected by the others. For example, as a fine for the same offence, Kilwari would pay to Keffing two bagians or proportions, while Keffing would disburse to Kilwari only one bagian. All these usages are called Adat Ceram, and those who do not respect them draw upon themselves the enmity of all parties. Their differences[Pg 293] are often settled by a meeting of the other chiefs; but such a devouring jealousy obtains among them, that nothing gives greater satisfaction than punishment inflicted by our Government on one of the parties. A threat made by me to call in the assistance of the neighbouring chiefs, and punish the Raja of Kilwari, if he continued obstinate, had the greatest effect upon him, and gave much satisfaction to the other chiefs.

The power of the native chiefs is more or less in proportion to their riches. An ancient Ceramese saying is to this effect:—"If he is a Raja, I am one also. While I have vessels, slaves, lelahs, powder and shot, with money to pay warriors, I will make war on the first chief who offends me, and if I gain the victory all Rajas will come and kiss my feet."

The chiefs take care that none of their subjects shall collect too much property, as they know well how to reduce his wealth by imposing fines, and other modes of extortion. The contributions, or as they are called here, as well as by us, the tithes paid to the chiefs by the people, forms by no means so ample a portion of their income as that derived from the hereditary services performed[Pg 294] by them, such as building their houses, and keeping them in repair, and from the presents of stock, fruit and other productions wrung from the unwilling hands of the peasants. These extortions, which render the native rule so burthensome to the people, are enforced, indeed, throughout India.

Ceram-Laut is encompassed by several smaller islands, the whole being surrounded by an extensive coral reef, on the edge of which, at low water, is found a depth of from two to four fathoms. The reef runs steep off, there being an unfathomable depth a little beyond it, which renders it dangerous of approach. The centre, which is also the largest of the islands, is high and hilly. An exceedingly high tree upon it, under which the chiefs of Kilwari are interred, raises itself far above the others, and forms a good land-mark for seamen. The population is small. The fugitives from Ghissa are settled on the west side, and over the face of the island are scattered some natives of Tehor (an island about midway between Ceram and the Ki Islands), who have been driven from their country by their powerful neighbours, together with a number of other unfortunates who have been forced to leave their native island, Sumbawa, from[Pg 295] the destruction caused by the eruption of the Timboro Mountain in 1814. The condition of these strangers is little better than that of slaves to the people of Kilwari, to whom they are obliged to deliver the fruits of their labour, consisting of rice, Indian corn, oil, &c.; while they are also forced to attend their oppressors as rowers in their prahus, whenever they fit out their flotillas for a warlike excursion. The slaves obtained from the adjacent coasts of New Guinea, who are not quickly sold at Kilwari, are also kept upon Ceram-Laut until the state of the market becomes more favourable.[42]

The vessels employed by the natives of these islands differ from each other considerably. Those employed for war are long and narrow, lying low in the water and lightly built, a stage projecting from the sides, on which the rowers take their[Pg 296] station. A house is erected in the middle for the fighting portion of the crew, on the flat roof of which their chief warriors perform the war-dance. Across the forepart of the vessel is placed a thick barricade made of light wood, provided with ports, through which the lelahs or great guns are pointed, thus affording protection to the rowers from musket shots, as the attack is always made stem on, the sides of the vessel having no bulwarks. The vessels employed by them for commercial purposes are large paduakans, with a smaller description of prahu, short and broad, with high stems and sterns, and covered with a roof of atap, which are engaged chiefly in the trade with Banda and Amboyna. Maritime pursuits occupy most of the time of the natives of these islands, and when a stoppage is put to commerce they resort to piracy. The cost for the maintenance of the crew is very small, these being Papuan slaves, whose food consists chiefly of sago and a sort of periwinkle, with a little dried fish, the latter being much esteemed by the negroes of New Guinea.

The principal branch of commerce carried on by these islanders is the trade with Bali (an island adjoining the east end of Java), to which are taken many of the products of the coast of New[Pg 297] Guinea. The Raja of Kilwari is deeply engaged in this, and frequently proceeds in person to Bali, where the government of a village has been conferred upon him by the king of that island, as a reward for his having purchased and brought back to their homes some Balinese princes, who had been captured by pirates. The Bughis traders from Celebes also resort to the Ceram-Laut Islands, the produce of their voyages being mostly carried to Singapore. The most important articles exported from this group consist of slaves, nutmegs, trepang, tortoise-shell, and edible birds'-nests, in return for which they take powder and shot, muskets, small cannon, calicoes, China-ware, iron-work, &c. The commerce of the entire chain of islands, extending from Ceram to New Guinea, is of the same description. The articles exported are, for the most part, obtained from the coast of New Guinea, which is annually resorted to by a large number of vessels from Ceram-Laut. The natives of the various islands forming the group assume the exclusive right of trading on particular parts of the coast, a breach of which on the part of their neighbours, instantly gives rise to warfare. Neither will the Papuas carry on a trade with any but those who are in the habit of visiting them.[Pg 298] The places resorted to by the traders of Ceram-Laut lie to the westward of Lakahia, a bay on the coast, situated directly north from the Arru Islands. The extent of the trade may be imagined from the fact, that twenty-five jonkos resort annually to Karrats-key and Owin from Enekka, a village on Goram, alone. Several of the Ceramese chiefs have married Papuan wives, and they have also succeeded in converting the natives of several places on the coast to the Mohammedam religion; but, nevertheless, the former dare not place much confidence in them. They contrive to keep the Papuas in awe by their superior skill in the use of arms, and this feeling is increased by the negroes being continually at war with their neighbours, the Ceramese rather endeavouring to promote this state of affairs than otherwise.

The monopoly of the trade on the coast is so strict, that should a foreign trader wish to proceed there with his vessel, it would be absolutely necessary for him to take some of the people of the islands with him, (natives of Enekka, for example, should he wish to visit Onion), otherwise his endeavours would be fruitless. These pilots obtain the use of a portion of the vessel, in which to deposit their goods, as a reward[Pg 299] for their services, thirty piculs (about two tons) being the usual tonnage allowed. According to the information of the natives, an English vessel, having pilots from Enekka on board, carried on a brisk trade with the coast in the year 1824. I heard that the English, subsequently, suffered some punishment from the Ceramese for this breach of their right of monopoly, but I was unable to ascertain the particulars of this occurrence.

The English whalers occasionally visit the islands to the eastward of Ceram, where they obtain spices and other productions in exchange for arms, ammunition, calicoes, &c. I was assured that the Raja of Kilwari engaged deeply in this unlawful trade.

The people of Papua-Oni and of Amalas, two places on the coast of New Guinea directly east from Ceram-Laut, send out every year from one hundred to one hundred and twenty small vessels on piratical excursions, and proceed to a considerable distance from their homes. Their mode of warfare is rude in the extreme; their weapons consisting only of bows, arrows and spears. I have been assured, that they devour the prisoners they take during these excursions. They entertain considerable[Pg 300] dread of the Ceramese, and carefully avoid doing them or theirs any injury.

According to the information I received from some inhabitants of Ceram-Laut, the natives of New Guinea are divided into two tribes, mountaineers and dwellers on the coast, who are continually waging war with each. The people occupying the sea-coast form by far the smaller portion, but from their warlike habits they find no difficulty in maintaining a superiority. The captives taken by the latter from the inferior tribes are sold to the foreign traders, by whom they are held in great esteem, so much so that their price is higher even than that given for slaves of Bali, Lombok, or Sumbawa. The women from Koby, Ay, and Karres, are considered the most attractive, and are often kept as inferior wives by the Ceramese; the Raja of Kilwari, among others, having a wife born in the Papuan village of Atti-Atti. The price given for a slave on the coast is usually two pieces of white calico, valued at from eight to ten Spanish dollars, from sixty to seventy rupees (five to six pounds sterling) being obtained by the traders for them at Bali, and other places in that direction. Natives worthy of belief have assured me, that if a Papua of the coast is struck by a desire to obtain[Pg 301] any articles brought by the foreign trader, for which he has no productions to give in exchange, he will not hesitate to barter one or two of his children for them; and if his own are not at hand, he will ask the loan of those of his neighbour, promising to give his own in exchange when they come to hand, this request being rarely refused. This appeared to me to be almost incredible, but the most trustworthy natives were unanimous evidence to its truth. The mountaineers themselves sometimes sell their children also. In other places, I have known parents sell their children when their maintenance became too heavy a burthen for them to bear, without heeding whether they would ever see them again. Such a total absence of feeling certainly brings these savage people below the level of dumb animals!


[42] Note by the Translator.—Among the numerous benefits likely to be conferred on the natives of this part of the world, by the proposed occupation by the British of the north coast of Australia, will be that of an asylum being afforded to those who, by misfortunes or oppression, are forced to leave their native country. Singapore, at the opposite extreme of the Indian Archipelago, has already been very beneficial in this respect, and the fact of their subjects being able so readily to obtain the protection of the British, has forced the native chiefs to behave towards them with more consideration.

[Pg 302]



The Keffing Islands.—Dwellings of the Chiefs.—Pass the Goram Islands.—Description of the same.—Acquaintance of the Natives with the Coast of New Guinea.—The Products of these Islands of vital Importance to Banda.—Small Portion of the Trade enjoyed by our Settlements.—Coin.—Costume of the Inhabitants.—Equipment of Paduakan.—Snake-Eaters.—The Fishery.—Arrival of the Brig at Wadia.—Number of trading Prahus at Dobbo.—Adjustment of Disputes.—Christian Teachers on the Arru Islands.—Their Poverty.—Visit Wokan.—Appointment of an Upper Orang Kaya, and other Transactions on the Arru Islands.

The islands of Great and Little Keffing are situated close to the south-east extreme of Ceram, to which they are joined by reefs under water. Little Keffing is well peopled, and contains several villages enclosed by stone walls, each village being governed by an independent Raja. The two largest are under the command of the Major of Keffing and[Pg 303] Raja Kelu. The island is low, and the groups of huts, shaded and half hidden by cocoa-nut and other fruit trees, present a very picturesque appearance. Each village possesses a Masidiet or temple, to which several priests are attached, those from Java being held in particularly high respect. The houses of the Rajas are always larger than the other buildings, over the top of which they are visible to those at a distance. A short description of the residence of the Raja of Kilwari will convey to the reader an idea of the sort of house in which the chiefs dwell, as they all bear a considerable resemblance to each other. On each side of the entrance to that of the Raja of Kilwari, two pieces of cannon are planted, (these being tokens of the important station of the owner), from which a salute was fired as I entered. The house itself was raised four feet above the ground, and was accessible by means of a stair, or rather a stout ladder. The centre apartment was very dark, being only lighted by a hole in the roof and the opening which served for a door-way, on each side of which were chambers used as sleeping-rooms, store-rooms, and kitchens. The earthen pans, plates, dishes, &c., used in preparing their meals, were obtained from the Ki Islands. The[Pg 304] rooms were floored with bamboos, or with narrow strips of the wood of the Areka tree, separated an inch or two from each other. Through these openings the offal is thrown, which renders the ground under the house very dirty and unpleasant, as the Mohammedans, unlike their heathen neighbours, keep no pigs to remove it. The walls and partitions of the house were adorned with arms, such as lelahs, muskets, large and well-tempered parangs, bows and arrows, spears, &c., and over the floor were spread elephants' tusks, gongs, and painted chests with gilt mouldings, which probably contained clothes and valuables. We sat cross-legged on the floor in the centre apartment, after the manner of the natives, by a number of whom, clad in their best array, we were surrounded, while the host and his family tendered us tea and sweatmeats. All the other apartments were closed, and we were not requested to visit them, the wives of the Raja being probably within them.

The brother of the Orang Kaya of Ghissa and another native, offered to accompany me as interpreters, whose services I accepted, advancing a portion of the salary that had been fixed on, to provide for the maintenance of their families during their absence.

[Pg 305]

We left our anchorage on the 13th. When getting under weigh we found that the stream-anchor had hooked a coral reef, and we had much difficulty in weighing it. The water was so extremely clear, that we could plainly perceive the fish darting over the sandy patches at the bottom, although the depth was from ten to fifteen fathoms. Our course lay to the east-south-east, and we pursued our voyage with an unsteady westerly wind, which soon carried us into the vicinity of the Goram Islands.

These islands, which are three in number, and are separated from the Ceram-Laut group by a narrow channel, are distinguished among the natives by the names of Goram, Manovolko, and Salawatta or Salavako. The first possesses the greatest population, and the most extensive commerce. The villages are mostly erected on the sea-coast, on spots near which the coral reefs afford good shelter for their vessels. The inhabitants, who accord with the Ceramese in manners and customs, are well acquainted with the neighbouring coasts, and willingly go on board foreign trading vessels as pilots. The people of the different villages often make war upon each other, and their differences are rarely settled without[Pg 306] the interposition of our Government. Many of their vessels are sent to Banda, Bali and Sumbawa, as well as to the coast of New Guinea, with the natives of which they have constant communication. The trade with the islands to the eastward of Ceram is indispensable to our settlement of Banda, as it is entirely supplied with sago, oil, cocoa-nuts, stock, wood, attap, siri, and other necessaries by them. When we can succeed in preventing the direct importation to the islands, of calicoes and other articles from Singapore, Malacca, and even from Manilla and Bengal, the prosperity of Amboyna and Banda would be greatly increased by the exclusive trade they would enjoy, particularly if a Dutch ship of war were occasionally to show herself among the group. At present, however, our settlements participate in the trade to a much smaller extent than foreigners.

Coin is not current in this group. Gold and silver money is willingly received by them; but when once they get it into their hands they never pay it away again. Copper money is entirely unknown. For the purchase of small articles it is necessary for the stranger to have hanks of cotton twist, which is much in demand for the manufacture of thread. This is dyed of a[Pg 307] red colour by the Bangkudu root,[43] which gives the thread a firm colour, at the same time increasing its strength and durability, and is afterwards wove into a stuff much in demand at the Ki and Arru Islands. The colours are usually dark red with cross stripes of blue. Large quantities of this cloth are manufactured on the Ceram and Goram Islands, the greater portion of the thread being obtained from Bali. The broad klewangs or hangers, manufactured on these islands, are also much in demand throughout the Archipelago of the Moluccas; in fact, their temper is excellent, being superior even to those made in Java. These swords are usually from two to three feet long, and beautifully flowered after the manner of the Damascene blades. The inhabitants rarely employ themselves in ship-building, but obtain their smaller prahus from the Ki Islands, and the larger ones from Bali. I have already described these vessels, and will only now remark the simplicity of the materials with which they are fitted out. A paduakan has only one sail, and is steered by two rudders (one on each quarter), which can readily be raised out of the water. The two cables, each from thirty to fifty fathoms[Pg 308] long, are made of twisted rattans, and the anchors are composed of hard wood, having the flukes a little sharpened, and a large stone fastened to the stock. A small canoe is carried on the deck. The bottom of the vessel is covered with a composition of lime, and the top sides are painted with a black mixture made from burnt rattans and husks of cocoa-nuts. Some pots of fresh water, a little salt, a quantity of sago bread, and some fishing-hooks and lines, complete their equipments.

The Goram Islands are rather high, and extremely fertile. Rice is grown on the main island; but the inhabitants of Manovolko and Salawatta dare not plant it, as its cultivation is considered as an exclusive hereditary right of the people of Goram. In the interior of the islands many fugitives from Bali and Sumbawa reside, who are forced to pay a slavish obedience to the old inhabitants. The wants of these people are few, and are supplied by the forests, which afford plenty of hogs and other wild animals; even snakes, as I was informed, being esteemed a delicacy among them.

Fishing is but little attended to here, fowls and goats, which here abound, being preferred as food. The Papuan slaves fish with lines, but seroos, or[Pg 309] stake-traps, with which fish are caught on the banks, are here rarely used. The women often employ themselves in catching crabs in the shallow water, adopting rather a singular mode. They place baskets over each foot, and walking over the mud-banks they are enabled to feel the crabs when they tread upon them, which they secure by thrusting a sharp-pointed stick into them through the basket. The mode of line-fishing adopted in the Archipelago is very simple. The lines are from sixty to one hundred fathoms long, having at the end a piece of copper wire, four or five fathoms in length, to which the hook is fastened. The bait consists of hen's feathers, which are tied fast to the hook, and when in the water have the appearance of small fish. There are several other modes adopted, which it will be unnecessary to explain at length.

We saw no land until the 16th, when we made the Arru Islands, and sailing close along the west coast of Wassia, hauled in, and came to an anchor in the strait between that island and Wadia. The Orang Kaya of Wadia immediately came on board, and in the afternoon I went on shore to return his visit. Hoping to gain some information at Dobbo about the coast of New[Pg 310] Guinea, and wishing also to know how they got on there, I proceeded there the same night with the armed boats. I there met with the Orang Kaya of Wama, who informed me of the death of the head chief of Wokan, which took place about a month previous, and of his office being filled by his brother, who arrived among us during the same day.

A brig from Sourabaya, and several other vessels, lay at anchor off the town, while thirteen paduakans from Macassar and Boni were hauled up on the beach, the commanders of which had gone to some of the more distant islands of the group, especially Vorkay, to purchase trepang, mother-o'pearl-shell and tortoise-shell. Two other large paduakans lay at anchor behind Maykor, the trade being conducted in a very regular manner. Several differences had, however, occurred, the most important of which were the following.

The Nakhoda, or commander of a jonko from Ghissa, complained to me that the Raja of Amma, a village situated on the Goram Islands, having come here to trade, had forbidden him (the Nakhoda) from disposing of his goods, with a view to obtain a better price than his own; the Raja being enabled to enforce his prohibition,[Pg 311] by the aid of two armed prahus. As no reason existed for the trade being open to one and not to another, it became necessary for me to make known to the people of Goram my displeasure at such arbitrary proceedings. The Raja, however, alarmed at our arrival, had departed no one knew whither, his prahu having been seen standing out to sea as we came in. The Orang Kaya of Wama remarked to me, that the Raja was well aware that his conduct would not bear the test of examination.

A second affair was as follows:—A juro-batu, or pilot (literally, watcher for rocks), named Seyid-Ed-Din, complained to me that the Nakhoda of a prahu from Amboyna had turned him ashore, so that he was now without the means of subsistence. The Nakhoda had gone to the back part of the group; but I soon learned that the juro-batu was not entirely free from blame, and was thus prevented from coming to a decision on the case, being only able to order the commanding officer of the prahu to take the man back to Amboyna, as it was improper that any of the crew should be put on shore in a foreign place.

In the year 1824, a prahu belonging to Kilwari,[Pg 312] while on her voyage from New Guinea to the Ki Islands, put into Wadia, having received damage at sea from bad weather, and being in want of fresh water. The Orang Kaya of Wadia wished to purchase the trepang which formed part of her cargo, but the parties not being able to come to terms, the crew of the prahu made preparations to depart. This, however, was prevented by the Orang Kaya, who endeavoured to decoy the strangers into the river, but being unable to succeed he boarded the vessel with several prahus, and plundered her of some pieces of cloth, some gunpowder, and other trifles. The Ceramese, to avoid further violence, fled the same night, and continued their voyage to the Ki Islands. It accidentally happened, that several of those who formed the crew of the prahu, some of whom were relatives of my interpreter for New Guinea, were now in a vessel at Dobbo, and came to me to request that I would obtain the restitution of the goods which had been taken from them. The chiefs of the different villages were present at the time, the Orang Kaya of Wadia being among them. He did not deny the circumstance, but, as usually occurs, laid all the blame on the villagers. I requested the proprietors of the plundered goods[Pg 313] to return with me to Wadia, where I obtained the property for them, but forgave, for this time, the villagers, threatening them with severe punishment should they ever transgress in like manner again.

The Christian teachers of Wakan, Wama and Maykor, stated to me, that they could remain no longer on the islands, as they were unable to obtain even sufficient provisions for their maintenance. On examination I found that these useful men received nothing whatever from the villagers, so that I could not be surprised at their desire to return to Amboyna, especially those of Wama and Maykor. I took the opportunity of a general meeting of chiefs on the Island Wokan, to mention the subject to those who professed Christianity. These did not deny that the teachers had been left to their own resources; but stated in excuse, that as M. Bik had promised the teachers a monthly salary of ten rupees, they must have sufficient to subsist upon. I observed to them the injustice of their conduct, on which they begged the teachers to remain, and promised to provide for their maintenance.

Some of the teachers appeared to me as not being on the most friendly footing with the natives,[Pg 314] which, I believe, was owing greatly to their presuming too much on the protection of the Government, and wishing to be masters in reality. I therefore remonstrated with them on the impropriety of attempts at rule, and sent the teacher of Maykor back again to his home, at the same time exhorting them to perform their duties better for the future than they had hitherto, and give the natives clearer ideas of Christianity. The dispositions of the Arru Islanders are excellent, and it is truly to be regretted that their instruction in the tenets of our religion has hitherto been so slight. Were a missionary to be sent among them, his labours would be attended with very good results. The distribution of some Malayan Bibles, hymn books, and tracts, which I had received from M. Kam, gave much delight to the Christian natives.

At the earnest request of the three teachers, I gave to each twenty rupees (£1. 15s.), together with some rice and other provisions. One of the three whom I brought with me from Amboyna, was installed at Duryella.

On the 19th of April we departed in the boats for Wokan. The Orang Kaya of Wadia, who had remained with me up to this time, returned to his[Pg 315] village to await my arrival there. On the following morning the chiefs and elders of the Christians assembled, when Zadrak Hermans was appointed as head chief of Wokan, with the usual ceremonies, and received a golden-knobbed baton, together with the certificate of appointment which had been provided for his father, to which an appendix was attached, naming him his successor. I also delivered certificates to the chiefs of Wama and Maykor, with which I had been furnished by the Government. The ceremonies were concluded with an appropriate address, and a salute of lelah shots. The people here are not less desirous than those of most other islands of this Archipelago, to have a Dutch garrison among them.

At noon I returned on board, accompanied by five vessels, containing a number of my native friends, whom I entertained on board at dinner, after which they returned home with many expressions of thanks for the kind proofs of remembrance on the part of the Government.

On the 21st I presented the Orang Kaya of Wadia with an act of appointment, after which I arranged the affair of piracy, of which I have previously made mention. During our stay among the islands, the weather had been continually calm[Pg 316] and rainy. I was disappointed in my expectations of receiving important information, concerning the coasts of New Guinea. When the people heard that I intended to go there, they expressed much satisfaction, hoping that they would be benefitted by the results of the expedition. The Ceramese I met with here, who had lately left the coast of New Guinea, informed me that the Papuas to the northward of the Arru Islands had assured them, that Orang Pati, or white people, dwelt further to the south-eastward of them.[44]


[43] Morinda citrifolia. Lin.—Translator.

[44] It is possible that our colony of New South Wales was here alluded to. The natives of the islands in Torres Straits, from their frequent intercourse with ships from Sydney, must be well aware of the existence of the colony, and might have communicated it to the Papuas of the south part of New Guinea, with whom they maintain a constant intercourse.—Translator.

[Pg 317]



Voyage towards the St. Bartholomeus River.—Encounter a Multitude of Whales.—Discover a Sand-bank.—Nautical Remarks.—Difficulty in approaching the Land.—Sharks.—Crocodiles.—Discover a River.—The Author ascends it.—Remarkable Behaviour of the Natives.—Their Wild State.—Unable to land.—Arrival at an uninhabited Bay on the Island of Lakahia.—Visit from some of the Chiefs.

Having filled up our water-casks, and put the rigging in order, we left our anchorage off Wadia on the morning of the 22nd of April, and continued our voyage towards New Guinea. Owing to calms we were unable to advance far during the day, but we afterwards were favoured by a steady breeze, which soon carried us out of view of the Arru Islands. Bartholomeus River, (on the south coast of New Guinea), being the point to be first visited, we shaped our course for the south-west[Pg 318] extreme of that great island. The winds and weather we experienced during the passage, were very unsteady, the former being generally from the northern quarter. As soon as we passed the Arru Islands, the pilots stated to me that they were unacquainted with the navigation beyond, and were even afraid to proceed any farther. The traders from Ceram, and the islands to the westward, do not penetrate beyond the Arrus.

A number of birds usually came on board the brig towards evening, to roost, most of which appeared to me to be land-birds. The colours of some were very beautiful, and in many we could trace a resemblance to our small ducks, magpies and larks.

When to the north-east of the Arru Islands we obtained soundings, for the first time, on a corally bottom; but as we stood to the south-west the depth gradually decreased, the bottom changing from coral to sand, and from sand to soft mud. We encountered daily an immense number of large Noord-kapers (a species of whale), which collected around the brig, and on two occasions one of these sea-monsters passed under her bottom, grazing the keel, and shaking the entire vessel.

[Pg 319]

At noon, on the 26th, we passed over a small patch of hard sand, on which we had only nine fathoms, the depth around being nineteen and twenty fathoms mud. This, which was named Kolff Bank, was found to lie in latitude 7 deg. south, longitude 136 deg. 4 min. east.[45]

On the night of the 27th, while steering to the south-south-east, the depth gradually decreased, but the bottom still continued muddy. This made me suspect that we were approaching False Cape, (or Cape Valsche), the south-west extreme of New Guinea. On steering south the depth increased to twenty-six fathoms, but after hauling up north-east and east-north-east we had only five and six fathoms, which, coupled with a swell from the south and south-east, led me to conclude that we had passed the Cape. In the evening, when the atmosphere cleared up, we saw the land to the northward, and soon brought up to await the day. During the night we experienced north-east winds, with heavy rain, and a current of six miles from the east-south-east. Rise and fall between seven and eight feet.

As opportunity offered, we stood in and out[Pg 320] from the shore—never being able to approach nearer than eight miles, the depth at that distance being only three fathoms, but further to seaward it increased very rapidly, the first cast of the lead, when standing off the edge of the bank, giving five fathoms. The land was everywhere low, and covered with large trees. I endeavoured as much as possible to approach the land, either with the brig or with the boats, but was always prevented by the mud-bank. Between the Cape and St. Bartholomeus River, we saw no opening that would admit our entrance.

Having arrived off the mouth of the St. Bartholomeus River, which is easily distinguished, as the points forming the entrance are a considerable distance apart, the unfavourable state of the weather, coupled with an increasing swell raised by the strong south-east wind, determined me to return towards False Cape; being the more inclined to do so, from the brig, which was anchored nine miles from the shore, rolling heavily, from being forced by the tide to lie across the swell, and having already carried away several of the shrouds of the lower rigging.

The large islands in the Indian Archipelago, generally, have a considerable influence on the wind,[Pg 321] causing land and sea breezes; but here it was not the case. This circumstance was injurious to the objects of the voyage, as we were unable to contend against the strength of the south-east monsoon, being thus prevented from passing farther to the eastward. To have fully examined and laid down this part of the coast would have required more time than we could bestow upon it. We ascertained the south extreme of the land to lie in latitude 8 deg. 25 min. south, while the longitude of the mouth of St. Bartholomeus River, by chronometers and lunar observations, was found to be 139 deg. 2 min. 25 sec. east of Greenwich. I have laid down the trending of the land in the accompanying chart as accurately as I could, and am confident of the correctness of the positions assigned to the principal points.

On the 3rd of May we stood back to the westward, and passed round False Cape without having any opportunity of landing, although, being now on a weather shore, we were able to employ the boats with more safety. An immense number of large and small sharks always attended the brig, many of which were caught by the ship's company. On the 7th, while the boats were rowing as usual along the mud-bank, smoke was[Pg 322] seen to arise from the shore, and on nearing the spot a number of people were seen climbing up into the trees, who fled into the forest as the boats approached. We were here again disappointed, for the low marshy land was fronted by an extensive mud-bank, which forbade our approach. This bank was covered with crocodiles, which took flight on seeing the boats.

We continued running along shore until the 8th, when we entered a wide channel, carrying a depth of six and seven fathoms close into the south shore, while the land on the opposite side was scarcely visible. We anchored in seven fathoms within the entrance, and the same night I left the brig in the boats, accompanied by the surgeon, the clerk, and the interpreters, for the purpose of ascending the river. We passed up along the south shore, which was still low, marshy, and well-wooded, and having ascended about twenty-eight miles we turned back towards the brig, as I judged it inadvisable to proceed further, the continued rain being likely to give rise to sickness among the boats' crews. The breadth of the river throughout was about five miles, the depth being about eight fathoms in mid-channel, and three fathoms within half a cable's length[Pg 323] from the shore. The tides were very regular, the ebb appearing to be rather the stronger. Rise and fall ten feet. The water abounded with fish, and the shores were covered with birds bearing much resemblance to geese, white ducks, snipes, &c. No natives were seen during the excursion, nor were any traces of them seen, with the exception of two old canoes, formed of hollowed trees, which were half buried in the mud. The tameness of the birds would lead to the conclusion that they were but little acquainted with man. Only one of the numerous small creeks we met with produced fresh water, and this was sixteen miles from the sea. From the creek to the sea, the shore was inaccessible on account of the mud-bank which fronted it.

This previously unknown river received the name of Dourga River. The mouth was found to lie in lat. 7 deg. 12 min. south, long. 138 deg. 44 min. east.[Pg 324][46]

Having arrived on board on the 12th, we weighed and stood west-north-west, north-west, and north, along the edge of the mud-bank; the water was yellow and muddy, the shadows of the clouds thrown upon it giving it the appearance of being full of reefs and banks. The coast, which we could not approach nearer than from ten to twelve miles, formed several bays hereabouts.

On the 13th, being between the parallels of 6 deg. and 6 deg. 30 min. south, we were enabled to near the land, and seeing smoke arise to the northward of us we stood towards it, and shortly perceived a number of small houses on the sandy beach, off which we came to anchor in three fathoms, about four miles distant from the shore. A number of men were running to and fro on the beach, and I lowered one of the boats down for the purpose of communicating with them. Several small prahus, containing seven or eight men each, now came towards the vessel, and having approached within musket-shot, turned back towards the shore. With a view to give them confidence I sent the crew down below, and caused the pilots and interpreters to call out to them; but their answers were unintelligible. Seeing[Pg 325] that they were afraid to come on board, I sent one of the interpreters with six native seamen in the boat, unarmed, with a view to conciliate them by presents of spirits, tobacco, &c., which were shown to them, and then launched towards them on a plank. Our endeavours, however, were unsuccessful; for they were as much afraid of the boat as of the brig, and retreated on its approach. I therefore called the boat on board again, on which the natives remained quiet for some time, until the number of their prahus were increased to twelve, when they suddenly rowed towards the brig with a loud shout, stopping, however, when still at a little distance. I again showed them the presents, and called to them in the Papuan language, but with the same result as before. I again sent the boat towards them, without the interpreter, being able to get near, and it had no sooner commenced returning than the natives followed with loud cries, taking up their bows and arrows, but stopping short when the people in the boat ceased rowing. This mode of proceeding continued for some time, and, at length, seeing that the natives had their bows strung ready for attack, I fired a blank shot towards them, on which they all threw[Pg 326] themselves flat on their faces for a few moments, and then paddled away for the shore with all their might.

These people appeared to be of large stature, with jet-black skins, and curled hair. They went entirely naked, and no scarifying of the skin, or other mode of ornamenting, was visible on their persons. In two of the prahus I remarked several men whose skins were of a whitish colour. They appeared to be chiefly young men, not one among them being advanced in years. Two of the eldest-looking wore the skins of animals.

While the prahus were pulling towards shore, a man stood up in one of them, with a thick bamboo in his hand, out of which he threw something that appeared to me to be ashes.[47] When the boats approached them they also threw[Pg 327] water up in the air, and showed their teeth like enraged dogs. My interpreter assured me that these people were so inhuman as to devour their prisoners taken in war, which appeared probable enough, if we may judge from the above grimaces.

The huts of these negroes, which are scattered along the beach, are low and open on all sides, the roof being composed of palm leaves. The soil around the village was white sand, on which many large trees grew, many carwarinas being among them. A small river ran into a bay immediately opposite to our anchorage. On going on shore we were as unsuccessful as on the water, in our attempts to communicate with these shy people, as they always fled on our approach, and climbed into the trees at a distance. To judge from the number of houses and men that we saw, the coast hereabouts must be very populous. We saw at a distance some other houses, which appeared to be much larger than those on the beach. Some bones, probably those of buffaloes, were met with, but not the least trace of agriculture, arts or civilization. I was sorry, nevertheless, at not being able to communicate with the natives, for the next morning I continued my voyage, it being tolerably certain that all endeavours[Pg 328] to make friends with them would be fruitless.

Shortly after our departure we suddenly struck soundings in two and a half fathoms, having had from ten to fifteen fathoms immediately before. We continued for several successive days standing along shore, as close as we could with safety, without finding a spot in which we could anchor within a convenient distance of the shore. During the nights we had bad weather, the rain continually pouring down; and the swell from the southward increasing every day.

On the 16th we saw high land for the first time, the extreme being far in the interior, between the meridians of 137 deg. and 138 deg. east. We remarked that several rivers here entered the sea, but so heavy a surf prevailed everywhere that we could not approach, being repeatedly obliged to bring up at a distance of from seven to eight miles from the shore, owing to our coming suddenly from five to three and a half fathoms. On the 17th, while sailing along shore, we often attempted to stand in, but were always stopped by reefs; while at six miles off the shore we had twenty to twenty-five fathoms. I regretted much that the strong winds and heavy sea prevented me from examining[Pg 329] the different creeks which we saw, although the interpreters assured me that the inhabitants were in a state of the utmost barbarism. On the following day we again stood in, and obtained no bottom with the lead at a distance of four miles off shore, the hills here running steep off into the sea. We saw some dwellings about the meridian of 130 deg. east, but were unable to approach them. The coast was now known to the pilot, who assured me that he knew a spot in the neighbourhood where we might obtain fresh water, and having stood off for the night, we endeavoured at daylight to enter under his direction between an island and the northern part of a deep bay. The decrease of the depth, however, soon caused us to stand out to sea again, the pilot excusing himself by saying, that he always entered here with prahus, and thought that there was water enough for the brig also.

Being desirous of communicating with the people of the island, and if possible to obtain fresh water, I again stood in towards the island, and anchored in five fathoms west-south-west of it. We had previously seen smoke arise from the shore, which our interpreters stated to be a signal of welcome, which induced me, after anchoring, to send the[Pg 330] boat on shore with the interpreters, for the purpose of bringing some of the natives on board the brig. In the afternoon the boat returned with three of the chiefs, who at first appeared afraid; but after I had given them some rice and arrack they became more at their ease. The Raja, an aged man, danced, sang, and made a number of curious gestures. He could not speak Malayan, but with the aid of the interpreters we were enabled to converse in their own language. As a proof of friendship I gave the old Raja a kabya and a handkerchief for the head, distributing presents of the same description among the others, with a promise of more if they would come on board the next day.

I informed them, that the only object of my visit to these parts was to offer the friendship of the Dutch Government to the natives, and at the same time to afford protection to the traders who frequent the neighbourhood. They shouted in praise of the Company and of the Ceramese, especially the Raja of Kilwari; and, on the other hand, expressed their detestation of the Chinese, the Bughis, and the Macassars. On my enquiry whether any of the last-mentioned people were in the habit of visiting them, they answered that they were not,[Pg 331] but that they gained much information concerning them from the Ceramese.[48]

I mentioned to the Raja and his friends, that I should send the boats on shore next morning to obtain water, and that our men, as usual, would be armed, which they must not suppose to arise from any want of confidence. I also stated my intention of visiting their village in person towards noon, at which they expressed much satisfaction, and taking leave, with a hearty shake of the hand, promised that the villagers should employ themselves in fishing, and send the greater part of the produce on board the brig. At seven o'clock the boat carried them ashore, after they had received a parting present of arrack and tobacco.


[45] In the chart prepared by M. Kolff, the longitude assigned for this bank is 136 deg. 48 min. east.—Translator.

[46] This opening was also entered two years subsequently by the Dutch corvette Triton and schooner Iris, when it was still supposed to be a river; but in 1835, Lieut. Kaal, of the Dutch navy, passed through it out to sea, proving the Dourga and St. Bartholomew Rivers to be the north-west and south-east entrances of a strait which cuts off the south-west extreme of New Guinea, and forms an island about one hundred miles long and sixty broad.—Translator.

[47] Captain Cook, during his first voyage, touched at a village on the south-west coast of New Guinea, whose position agrees with this, and had an encounter with the natives, in which lives were lost on the part of the latter. The people of the Endeavour observed, also, the singular proceeding above alluded to, and at first supposed that the natives had fire-arms. From the remarks of M. Modera, of the Dutch corvette Triton, it appears that the composition thrown out of the bamboos consists of lime, ashes and sand, which were ejected for the purpose of making signals to friends at a distance.—Translator.

[48] This disgraceful information of the Ceramese was influenced, probably, by their envy and jealousy of the others.

[Pg 332]



Armed Boats sent on Shore.—Treacherous Attack of the Natives.—A Soldier killed.—Cowardly Conduct of the Officers in Charge of the Watering-Party.—The Author personally visits the Bay.—Causes of the Barbarism of the Natives of New Guinea.—Faithless and arbitrary Conduct of the Ceramese.—Profitable Nature of the Trade.—Departure from New Guinea.

The friendly meeting with the chiefs, coupled with the assurances of the interpreters, who had been in the habit of making yearly visits to the coast, determined me to obtain here a supply of water, this necessary of life having become scarce on board. On the morning of the 20th, therefore, I caused the empty casks to be put into the tender, which was armed with a one-pounder gun, and manned with an European warrant-officer and a seaman, eighteen rowers, and a corporal with six[Pg 333] soldiers. The chief command was given to a midshipman, who, with six European and four native seamen, went in the jolly-boat in company with the tender.

The command of the armed party, who were to cover the waterers, was entrusted to the corporal, who had been highly recommended to me at Amboyna, and to whom I gave a written order to guide his proceedings. As I wished to superintend the watering in person, and also to visit the village, I caused another of the boats to be lowered, and sent, in the first place, to examine the depth of water to the north-east and north-west, the result proving the impossibility of approaching nearer to the land with the brig. An affection in the chest, with which I had been afflicted since my voyage to the Bay of Boni, being more than usually troublesome in the morning, forced me, however, to defer my visit to the afternoon.

About noon, hearing guns fired on shore, I sent an officer with an armed boat to enquire the cause, furnishing them with ammunition for the tender. When close to the island he encountered the boats returning, and remarked that great disorder prevailed among their crews, three of the[Pg 334] number being badly wounded. They stated that all their cartridges being wet, and some of the soldiers having thrown away their arms, they had nothing remaining with which they could defend themselves. Although the officer sent to their assistance had with him a dozen good muskets, and cartridges both for them and for the small cannon, he thought it best to return on board, which I did not regret when I heard of the events that had occurred. It appeared that our people met with a friendly reception from the Papuas, who showed them the watering-place, while those who had visited the brig the previous night brought them presents of cocoa-nuts and sagoweer, or palm wine. On his first arrival the midshipman made arrangements according to his instructions, and had scarcely finished filling his casks in readiness to be put on board the tender, when the natives suddenly attacked our party with a shower of spears and arrows. The Javanese seamen, who had been stupid enough to leave their arms behind them, immediately left the water casks, and fled towards the tender, while the corporal, who should have been the last to retreat, left his post at the first shout of the Papuas, and throwing away his musket and sword, followed their example.[Pg 335] The Javanese Mandor,[49] however, took up the musket and fired it at the attackers. The shameful flight of the corporal created great confusion among the covering party, to whom the former cried out that they were to follow him, which they did, after making a short stand. The Papuas naturally acquired fresh courage on seeing this, and fell on the hindmost, whom they could easily wound as they fled, while little opposition could be made on our side, as the tender had already shoved off, and the muskets of the people in the boat had become useless from their being wetted as their owners waded on board.

The soldiers and seamen made heavy complaints against the corporal, to whose cowardice the unfortunate result of the affair was to be attributed, he having caused the greatest confusion by cutting the grapnel rope of the tender, and shoving her off. Concerning the conduct of the midshipman I would rather be silent. On subsequent examination I discovered, alas! that my orders had not been followed, and that some had thought[Pg 336] more of amusing themselves than of executing the duty on which they had been sent.

At the commencement of the attack, H. Smit, a seaman who was sentry at the well, was wounded by two spears, and Ziengo, a soldier, who had stoutly maintained his post, was dreadfully injured, being pierced with no less than two-and-twenty wounds; while another of the seamen, Van Grieken, was wounded slightly by an arrow in the shin-bone. The courageous Ziengo died immediately after his arrival on board, while under the hands of the doctor.

Several small casks, a couple of muskets, some cartridge-boxes, and a quantity of clothing, having been left on shore, I determined to send the tender (into which a carronade had now been placed) and an armed boat to bring them off, and to efface the shame which our people had brought upon them. Being still too unwell to leave the brig, I entrusted the command of the boats to one of the officers, with orders to obtain the last articles if possible; but should circumstances render this unadvisable, he was to keep the natives in check during the night, and await my arrival in the morning with additional force. A strong easterly wind, accompanied[Pg 337] by heavy showers of rain, prevented them, however, from reaching the island; and at daylight the signal for their return to the brig was made, and they came alongside. The carronade was now taken out of the tender, and two one-pounder guns placed on board her in its stead, when we stood towards the island, the tender and the boat carrying in all thirty men. We soon reached the shore, when the spot on which the encounter had taken place was pointed out to me. I landed with a portion of the men, and reached the thick forest that bounded the path to the well, this being about a pistol-shot distant from the beach. Every thing that our party left on shore was found, but several of the casks were in pieces. Much blood was seen scattered about, especially near the well, where the natives had probably washed their wounds.

From the information I could collect concerning this unfortunate occurrence, it appeared that the Papuas, who were probably unacquainted with the deadly effect of our weapons, attacked our people in great numbers when the latter were off their guard, and probably without arms.[50] Several shots were [Pg 338]fired at them from the muskets, and from the one-pounder loaded with grape-shot, which must have done great execution. The courageous Javanese Mandor, who had remained ashore with the jolly-boat for some time after the midshipman had retreated with the tender, in order to bring off the wounded men, had kept up a constant fire at the natives with two muskets, and declared that he had seen three fall, who were carried into the forest by their companions. The unfortunate soldier, Ziengo, had been set upon by a number at once, and had received the most deadly of his numerous wounds from an axe that had been thrown away by some of our party. The natives would not have left him but for the continued fire from the jolly-boat. Notwithstanding the superior numbers of the natives, our people would never have been routed had they been on their guard. Unfortunately, my orders were not followed, and they separated from each other, thinking more of amusing themselves by bathing and walking, than of preparing against attack, which gave the natives an opportunity of falling[Pg 339] upon them unawares, and had the latter known how to avail themselves of the confusion they had created, our loss must have been much greater than it was. The conduct of my countrymen grieved me deeply.

At the watering-place we could find no traces of people having been there since the previous night. The arms that had been thrown away, and the clothes left by the bathers, remained untouched. The ground, from the beach to the forest, was strewed with arrows and spears, among which were two intended for striking fish; these were provided with iron points, but the others were merely bamboos, the ends of which had been pointed and hardened in the fire. The arrows had wooden points and barbs; the bows, by which they were discharged, being formed merely of a bamboo-stick with a string of rattan. The force with which these arrows were shot was so small, that even from a short distance they scarcely did more than penetrate the clothes of our people, many of whom found the wooden points of the arrows sticking in their garments after the affair was over.

As the cocoa-nut trees are not numerous on the coast, while their produce forms an indispensable[Pg 340] article of subsistence, I caused those scattered along the coast to be cut down, partly to show that we had not been driven away by fear, and partly to deter them from committing similar misdeeds in future. The interpreters assured me this would be a severe chastisement, and that they were in the habit of killing the relatives of those who injured the cocoa-nut trees.

We now went further into the bay to Kayu Merah, and pulled down some huts we found standing at the bottom of the heights, immediately behind the island. Men were occasionally seen, who took flight on our approach, and climbed into the trees, the better to observe our motions. Having rowed round the bay without meeting with any occurrence we turned towards the brig, on which a number of the natives made their appearance on the beach, who took flight, however, when we turned the boats' heads to the shore.

The treacherous conduct of the Ceramese cannot be sufficiently reprehended. It was related to me, and I afterwards had evidence of its truth, that these people, on their arrival with their prahus at New Guinea, endeavoured to pick[Pg 341] a quarrel with the natives. If the Ceramese Raja has two or three men killed, it will be of little consequence, as they will probably be Papua slaves, and even if the natives take and plunder one of his vessels the loss will still be trifling. The Raja will be rejoiced at having an excuse for chastising the natives, and will not only attack and plunder the village, but also catch as many of the inhabitants as he can, whom he will carry away, under the plea of taking satisfaction for the injury that has been done to his people. Similar transactions occur but too often.

Be this as it may, it grieved me deeply to meet with so unfavourable a reception, as I had so anxiously wished to bring these people under our Government, and to show them, by the distribution of presents, that we entertained none but the most peaceable and friendly intentions towards them. Their barbarism is mainly to be attributed to the sinister dealings of the Ceramese, who, to retain their exclusive trade with the coast, inspire them with hatred and aversion to all foreigners but themselves. Until the rapacious and inhuman people of Kilwari, Keffing, and the Goram Islands are stopped in their arbitrary career, and are taught in an impressive manner to pay a proper respect to[Pg 342] the Dutch Government, the coast of New Guinea will never be available to us for commercial purposes. Traders would gladly visit these parts could they do so with safety, for the productions, as massoy-bark, nutmegs, trepang, tortoise-shell, pearls, edible birds'-nests, birds of paradise, and other articles of value, would support an important commerce. The quantity of these rich productions purchased by the Ceramese on the coast for an almost nominal price, and carried by them to Bali and Singapore, is incredible. It may appear surprising that under these circumstances the Ceramese are not in a more flourishing state, but it must be taken into consideration that a restless people, constantly at war, do not hoard their riches, but squander it in leading a luxurious life. I have often been assured that traders, who have left their homes with a valuable cargo, have returned without sufficient property to pay their men, the whole having been lost by gambling, or similar modes of getting rid of wealth.

The people of Kilwari visit the bay of Lakahia regularly once or twice a year, with coarse white calico, arrack, tobacco, iron ware, &c., to give in exchange for the productions of the country. The natives of this part of the coast bear[Pg 343] much resemblance in stature and complexion to those of the easternmost of the Arrus. According to the account of the interpreters they lead a wild and idle life.

The east monsoon now drawing to a close rendered it inadvisable to trace the coast to the westward, which should be examined during the other season; for the coast lies open to the southerly winds, while the steep nature of the shore affords but insecure anchorage. My opinions on this point were confirmed by those of intelligent natives.

As one of the principal objects of the present expedition was to visit the Tenimber Islands, so important to the native trade, during the return voyage, (while, were I to remain longer on the coast of New Guinea, this could not be effected,) I determined to take my departure, being encouraged in my decision by having already fulfilled, to the best of my power, the instructions furnished me by the Government, and at the same time being convinced that the coast to the eastward of the spot where we found ourselves was not visited by foreign traders.


[49] The Mandor is the head of the native seamen on board ships navigating these seas, his duties according somewhat with those of boatswains of European ships, but from various causes their authority and responsibility are greater than those of the latter.—Translator.

[50] When the Dutch corvette Triton founded the settlement in the adjacent harbour two years subsequently to this occurrence, the Raja of Lakahia stated, that his people had not attacked the Dutch until the latter had commenced cutting down a cocoa-nut-tree.—Translator.

[Pg 344]



The Ki Islands.—Character of the People.—Arrive at Vordate.—Improved Condition of the Natives.—Ceramese Pirates.—The English Captives at Luora.—The Author departs for Serra in the Boats.—Meet with a Prahu-tope.—Honesty of the Natives in their Dealings.—Arrival at Serra.—Native Warfare.—Ceremonies attending the Peace-making.—Return towards Vordate.—Turtles and their Eggs.—Wild Cattle.—Arrival on Board the Brig.—Singular Customs with regard to Trade.—Demand for Gold Coin.—Departure from the Tenimber Islands.—Arrival at Amboyna.—Approval of our Proceedings by the Government.—Conclusion.

We now left the inhospitable country of New Guinea, and steered to the southward, passing near the Ki Islands. This group is composed of several large and high islands, thinly peopled in comparison with those around. Ki-Ili, on the east side of the Great Ki, is occupied by a number of natives professing the Mohammedan religion,[Pg 345] who carry on a brisk trade with the people of the Arru Islands. Among the inhabitants of the group are many fugitives from Banda and Ceram, who reside in the same villages with the natives of the country. The principal islands are called Great Ki, Little Ki, and Ki Watela. Dula, a village situated in a bay on the west side of the Little Ki, is the chief resort of the traders, several paduakans arriving there annually from Macassar, while there is also considerable commercial intercourse carried on with Banda. The people of Dula employ much of their time in building vessels, remarkable for their strength and superiority of build, which are in great demand at Banda, Ceram, and other places in this part of the Archipelago, being esteemed not only for the durability of the timber used in their construction, but also for the cheap rate at which they can be purchased.

Ili is famous for its potteries, most of the adjacent islands deriving their supply of earthen-ware from this and the neighbouring villages.

In their dispositions the natives of the Ki Islands are more mild and peaceable than the generality of their neighbours. They claim certain rights over vessels which may be stranded[Pg 346] on their shores, and assume some other privileges not remarkable for their justness; but this is rather to be attributed to the system having been long established, than to any inherent propensities to extortion.

During our voyage to the Tenimber Islands we encountered heavy south-east winds, the monsoon being much stronger, and the rains heavier this year, than is usually the case. I heard the same remark made at every place I visited.

On the 26th of May we anchored close under the beautiful coast of Vordate, between the reef running from the south-west extreme of the island and the village of Sebeano, this anchorage being better than the one we had taken up the previous year, which was close under the above-mentioned reef. Immediately on our arrival the Dutch flag was hoisted in the villages, and the chiefs came on board with a number of prahus to welcome us back to their island, this affording a proof of the good results attending my previous voyage, which was confirmed on my visiting the shore, and finding that they now lived in perfect amity with one another. The natives came on board daily, and in such numbers, that it soon became troublesome. They are so much in the habit of visiting[Pg 347] with perfect freedom the trading vessels which resort to their shores, that they considered themselves justified in doing the same with us, it being often a matter of difficulty to keep them out of the brig.

After our departure from these islands the preceding year, a number of the natives had set out on a trading voyage to the islands lying to the westward, maritime pursuits forming their favourite occupation. They were everywhere received with friendship, and having obtained profitable returns for their cargoes, they returned home, impressed with thankfulness towards our Government for having established peace among the islands, and rendered them safe for traders. According to their information, the natives of Moa, Lette, Damma, Luan, and the other islands, were zealously employed in erecting new kota companias, or block-houses, for our residents, hoping that they would soon have Dutch garrisons among them, while the Christian teachers were supplied with necessaries in a most liberal manner. This news gave me the greatest satisfaction, as it proved in the strongest manner that my previous labours had not been fruitless. I afterwards found that many trading vessels from these islands, even[Pg 348] from some which had had no communication for years, had visited Banda and Amboyna, causing a remarkable increase in the sale of European manufactures at those places, so that soon a most prosperous trade, coupled with increasing prosperity to the natives, will be the result of the good measures of our Government.

A number of prahus from Kilwari and Kinaos, had taken their station among the islands and banks fronting the west coast of Timor-Laut, to lie in wait for and plunder the traders of the Tenimber Islands as they returned from their commercial voyage to the westward, and had succeeded in mastering two jonkos, the crews of which escaped on shore after losing some of their number. The Ceramese then plundered and burnt their prizes. The Tenimber islanders were extremely indignant at this act of the Ceramese, and made a sad complaint to me, thinking that our Government was already acquainted with the affair, as the Ceramese, when attacking them, called out that they were empowered to act as they did by the Company, and that the Tenimber Islanders should not fire at the Dutch flags which their opponents had received from the Government. It cost me much trouble to convince[Pg 349] them that the Dutch took no part in this shameful transaction; but at length I succeeded by promising that the Government should certainly obtain compensation from the Ceramese for their losses.

The banks and islands to the westward of Timor-Laut are annually visited by Ceramese jonkos, for the purpose of fishing for trepang and tortoise-shell, or picking up any booty that may fall in their way. Several years previously some of these had been bold enough to approach the coast of Vordate during the night, and capture a small fishing prahu with two men, inhabitants of Sebeano. The pirates, who were subjects of the Raja, carried off the men to sell as slaves, but they were fortunate enough to make their escape and return home. They personally related to me this occurrence, and informed me of many other misdeeds on the part of the Ceramese, an account of which I subsequently gave to the Government.

Some time after my return to Amboyna, the Raja of Kilwari was summoned there, and did not deny that his subjects had committed this, and other deeds of the same description, on which he was obliged to pay a fine of, I believe, three hundred guilders (£25) to the Tenimber[Pg 350] Islanders. The Raja of Kinaos was also amerced for the same transaction.

As one of the chief objects of our voyage was to visit the Island of Serra, we made preparations, soon after our arrival at Vordate, for our expedition thither.

It appeared to me to be impossible for the people of Vordate to perform the promise they had made me, of redeeming the two English youths who were held in captivity by the inhabitants of Luora, on the east coast of Timor-Laut, since they were not in the habit of holding communication with them. They assured me, however, that they had been to Luora, and had found that the inhabitants would not give up their captives unless an extravagant ransom were paid for them, as they wished to marry them to their daughters, that their descendants might boast of having European blood in their veins as well as the people of Vordate, Larrat and Serra, these holding themselves as being in some manner connected with Europeans, from their forefathers having been distinguished as "Anak Compania," or Children of the Company. The Orang Kaya, who was the only chief that visited Timor-Laut during this year, informed me that he had[Pg 351] seen the youths, and had offered a considerable ransom for them without success. During the westerly monsoon, or the period of the changes, Luora may be visited with facility; but at the present time, when the sea breaks against the shore in a terrible manner, such an expedition was not to be thought of for a moment. The natives themselves appeared anxious that the Government would send some one thither.

On the 29th, having hired the Orang Tua David to accompany us as interpreter, we embarked on board the tender and the small boats, and left the brig on our expedition to Serra. Towards evening we arrived at Larrat, where we met with a tope,[51] which had arrived from Banda during the month of April, and was about returning there with a full cargo. The crew complained of the high price of the trepang, but in every other respect were perfectly contented with the result of their commercial transactions. The disturbances which had taken place at Serra had been instrumental in decreasing the supply of trepang and tortoise-shell, as none was now brought from[Pg 352] that island. The goods belonging to the tope lay in an open boat-house, which was daily visited by numbers of the natives, without the owner having the least fear of losing a single article, the mutual confidence with which the trade is carried on being so great, that the trader allows a native to take away what goods he pleases, merely mentioning the amount of produce that is expected in return, and although the former may have no personal knowledge of the native to whom he has delivered the goods, he never fears that the contract will not be fulfilled. The native immediately commences collecting produce, and never rests until he has made full payment. It is singular that the natives never keep a supply of trepang in hand, and only commence fishing for it when they have received payment in advance.

The Orang Kaya and several of the other chiefs came to pay me a visit, and complained sadly of the conduct of the Ceramese, and of the state of affairs at Serra, which they had in vain endeavoured to reduce to order. They appeared to be much pleased at my intention to visit that island. As the Orang Tua David was not well acquainted with the navigation, I requested the chiefs[Pg 353] to hire me a prahu, promising to make them a just remuneration for its services.

The Orang Kaya Kirimassa, and six men, having prepared themselves to attend me with the prahu, I left Larrat the same night. Although the tender carried only two one-pounder guns, with ammunition and provisions, she sailed and rowed so slowly that we did not reach Warrata, a village on the north-west end of Serra, until the 1st of June. This island, with its inhabitants, bear so great a resemblance to Larrat, that it will be unnecessary to enter into a particular description of either.

The reefs which front the shore are dry at low water some distance to seaward, it being then only possible to approach the island through the gaps in the reef. The villages are situated near each other, while the remainder of the island is laid out in plantations of yams and cocoa-nut trees. The inhabitants obtain their supply of rice from the people of Vordate, or from the foreign traders. This product forms an extensive article of importation into these countries, as the nature of the soil prevents its being grown in sufficient quantities for the supply of the islanders.

The inhabitants of Serra received us in a most[Pg 354] friendly manner, and I immediately commenced making enquiries as to the nature of the disturbance that had taken place. It appeared, that on the return of the chiefs from their visit to me the preceding year with the presents I had made them, a festival was got up to celebrate the event. A considerable quantity of spirits was disposed of on this occasion, and it necessarily occurred that many of the guests became very drunk, and abused one another without mercy. The Orang Kayas Linum, Siwa, and Kitta-Kitta, grossly insulted the Orang Kayas Leeman and Kawa, which greatly grieved the latter and their adherents. From words they soon came to blows, when the two chiefs who had been insulted left their villages, and established themselves with their families on the west coast of the island. The adherents of both parties subsequently encountered one another on several occasions, many being killed and wounded on both sides. Envoys from the other islands endeavoured in vain to establish peace: the offending party wished much to make up the affair, but the others, who had abundance of provisions, were indifferent about the matter. On my arrival, the latter demanded an apology from the Orang Kayas Kitta-Kitta[Pg 355] and Linum, with the pay of the warriors whom they had hired, stating, that in the event of these being fulfilled, they were ready to make peace and obey the orders of the Company.

I was received with equal friendship by both parties, and their arms were laid aside at my request, while arrangements were made for a meeting to decide on the terms of peace. The adherents of the offended party had forsaken their village, and encamped about half an hour's journey to the westward, where they had fortified their position with palisades, watch-houses being erected in the trees round about, and garrisoned by armed men. The mode in which the meeting was conducted resembled that of the former ones which had taken place among the islands, yet as it will contribute to display the character of the natives, I will give a slight sketch of the affair.

The spot fixed on by me for the meeting was midway between the abodes of the contending parties, and having sent forward a guard of our men, I proceeded there myself, where I was in a manner almost stormed by weeping women. The offending chiefs came, with the greatest humility, unattended by[Pg 356] any followers, while the other party advanced with a proud bearing, fully armed, and accompanied by their national war-music. These were clad in their best array, and certainly made a fine warlike appearance. Some were ornamented with golden chains, others with serpents (the thickness of the little finger) formed of the same metal, while all were provided with golden ear-rings. Many of the warriors had also golden bracelets on their arms, which added considerably to the splendour of their equipment. Two of the wives of the chiefs, dressed in handsome chintz kabyas, were also adorned in a similar manner. When the two parties had approached near each other, they stopped short, and performed their usual war-dance in a fierce and hostile manner, after which I placed the hands of the two principal opposing chiefs together, who immediately fell weeping upon each other's necks, their example being followed by the others, who embraced with tears and sobs of repentance and reconciliation, the whole forming a scene which made a strong impression even on my hardy seamen. Some time elapsed before they partook of the siri, when all traces of enmity vanished, and all was forgotten and forgiven. I had, certainly, never seen a[Pg 357] more striking proof of feeling on the part of these people.

The disturbances that had taken place were stated as the reason why the men, who had killed our seaman at Maktia, had not been obtained, nor the two English youths at Luora set at liberty. They promised to use their united endeavours to effect these, and to send a report of the event to Banda.

One evening, when several small vessels were lying around our boats, a number of birds flew suddenly off the land, and settled, some in the boats, and some in the water around. They proved to be quails, bearing a perfect resemblance in every respect to those of Europe. I succeeded in carrying five of these to Banda, without supplying them with any other food than rice, where I had the satisfaction of presenting them to Surgeon-Major Lengacker.

Serra does not produce so much stock as the other islands. The natives often employ themselves in catching fish, which abound in the adjacent waters. Hooks and lines are chiefly used. The trepang and tortoise-shell obtained here is of a very superior quality, and is much sought for by the traders from Amboyna and Banda.

[Pg 358]

I continued busily employed with my official duties until the 3rd of June, when I left Serra, and commenced my return to the brig. Our journey was much delayed by unfavourable winds, and we were daily obliged to rest on the islands which lay in our course, the tender rowing very heavily, while it was impossible to use the sail. The native vessels that left with us were soon far a-head, as they rowed with great swiftness, and could pass over the banks with facility.

Shortly after our departure we put into Maktia, where we found the village to be in a state of utter decay. The houses were all in ruins, everything bearing evidence to the village having been long abandoned, while not a man could be seen around.

Every voyager in the eastern seas should be provided with plenty of fishing tackle, which will not only be of great service, but will also afford means of passing away time; for, I believe, that throughout the world no seas will be found that yield such innumerable quantities of all sorts of fish as these. With a single line sufficient fish may be caught in a few minutes to afford a dainty meal. The drag-net, which was used by the seamen whenever we landed on the islands, was also found[Pg 359] very useful, this mode of fishing being as successful as the other. Turtle's eggs were so abundant, that the men with the assistance of the natives, often brought them on board by basket's full. These eggs are about the size of a billiard-ball, round, and covered with a white, chalky film in lieu of shell. The interior is similar to that of a hen's egg, to which they were preferred by many of our party. When boiled, the yolk becomes firm, but the white remains soft and watery, this being thrown aside when the egg is eaten. Six nests full of turtles' eggs were found by us upon a sandy island near Laboba. It is very difficult to discover the spots in which the eggs are deposited, and requires a practised eye: the natives are very skilful in this. When the turtle wishes to deposit her eggs, she goes on shore, on the sandy beach, and selects a spot amid the grass, where, with her hind feet, she makes a hole about a foot and a half deep, and having laid from eighty to a hundred eggs, covers them carefully up, and makes a fresh nest in some other spot. When the traces of the turtle are met with, they are followed up until a space is found where the traces are extinct, and here the nest will probably[Pg 360] be met with. A stick is thrust into the ground to find the position of the eggs, which is often a matter of difficulty, as the ground is generally turned up within a circumference of ten to fifteen paces. The young are brought forth without the assistance of the parent, after the eggs have lain under ground about three months, when the young ones crawl out of the sand and make towards the water, which they are often prevented from reaching by the birds of prey that lie in wait for them. The turtle are in the habit of assembling on the beach during moon-light nights, when they are taken with great facility. The natives usually let the female go again, and are also averse to striking them with a harpoon, being influenced by some superstitious feeling. They also requested that we would not disturb the hawk's-bill turtle,[52] which we found sleeping on the water, but willingly caught the others for us themselves.

On one of the islands at which we stopped, a large hawk's-bill turtle was found dead in the forest. The shell was two feet and a quarter in[Pg 361] diameter, and yielded a head[53] weighing a pound and a half.

On one of the dry sand-banks we met with a quantity of sea-mews' eggs, deposited in nests on the shelly sand, very close to one another, each containing only two eggs. Numbers of the birds hovered about the bank, their presence having first attracted our attention to the spot.

While we were at anchor under the coast of Timor-Laut one night, we heard the lowing of a number of wild cattle, and in the morning saw the traces of them along the sandy beach. The wild cattle, with which the island abounds, are black, and have upright horns, their size being about the same as that of two-year-old cattle in Holland. The natives catch them with nooses of rattan, and also shoot them with arrows. Wild hogs are also to be met with in abundance. Monkeys do not exist on the island, and it is a singular thing that throughout the Moluccan Archipelago they are only to be found on the island of Batchian, near the south end of Gilolo.

[Pg 362]

Showers of rain, and strong unfavourable winds, rendered our return voyage tedious and disagreeable, and we did not reach Larrat until the 9th of June. On our arrival we hauled up the tender and the boat on the beach, to clean their bottoms, which had become very necessary. I continued here until the 11th, busily employed with my official duties, when I returned to the brig, accompanied by several of the chiefs.

I had given permission to one of my interpreters to take on board a quantity of tortoise-shell and trepang, to purchase which he had brought from Banda a quantity of goods suited to the taste of the natives. I had thus an opportunity of witnessing closely the manner in which the trade is conducted. He purchased a picul (133lbs. avoirdupoise) of trepang, for goods of the value of twenty-two guilders (£1. 17s.) These consisted of two Javanese dresses, two pieces of lining chintz, two red karwasses, two parangs or chopping-knives, two bush-knives, two plates, two combs, two handkerchiefs for the head, and two catties (two pounds and a half) of copper wire. According to an old custom, the articles they receive for their produce must always be in pairs, except they consist of valuables,[Pg 363] such as gold, elephants' tusks, &c., which are valued and paid for accordingly.

The natives of the Tenimber Islands are extremely anxious to obtain gold coin, especially ducats, and give their trepang and tortoise-shell more readily in exchange for these than anything else. Both this and silver coin they work up into clumsy ear-rings, bracelets, and other ornaments, losing a considerable quantity of the metal in melting it down. It is extremely difficult to obtain these ornaments from them.

I continued constantly employed among the islands, especially at Vordate, until the 15th of June, when we sailed for Banda, carrying with us favourable winds and weather. We passed, during our voyage, near to Bird Island, an uninhabited spot, on which considerable quantities of sulphur are collected, and carried to Bali and other places, where it is employed in the manufacture of native gunpowder.

At Banda I put my interpreters on shore, and continued my voyage to Amboyna, where I arrived on the 26th of June, much rejoiced at the successful result of the expedition, of which I had soon a satisfactory proof, in a Government Resolution of the following import:—

[Pg 364]

"Extract from the Register of Transactions and Resolutions of the Governor of the Moluccas.

"Friday, July 14, 1826.

"A communication from the Naval Captain, Commandant of Division, was read (d. d. N. 104), containing the account of the voyage lately performed by H.M. brig Dourga, under the command of Lieut. Kolff, of the First Class, in the Banda Sea, and to the coast of New Guinea, according to the instructions given him by a Resolution of the 24th March (1.1. No. 1). It appearing from the narrative, that the above-named officer has fulfilled those instructions to as great an extent as lay in his power, and has spared no pains to acquire the information he was requested to collect, or to effect the duties with the execution of which he was charged:—

"Approved of and understood—

"That M. Kolff, Lieutenant in the Navy of the First Class, receives the thanks of the Government for the laudable manner in which he has executed the commission entrusted to him; and that a report of this, and of the above voyage itself, be sent to His Excellency the Governor-General.

[Pg 365]

"An extract of this to be forwarded to Lieut. Kolff for his information and direction.

"Copy from the above-named Register.

"Signed (W.G.) Paape,


And now, kind and honoured Reader, the task which I promised to undertake for you is fulfilled, and may the artless narrative of a seaman, containing not unimportant contributions to a knowledge of countries seldom visited or described, be acceptable to you. The countries visited by me are, as Dutch possessions, of the highest importance to every Netherlander, while, at the same time, the simple description of the habits and disposition of their inhabitants may afford matter for speculation. If, by the composition of this narrative, I have rendered myself serviceable to the reading world, or contributed to afford entertainment, then shall I be most amply repaid for the time employed in its compilation.—Farewell!


[51] A tope is a native-decked vessel, with three masts, and sails resembling lugs. Some are of considerable size, but the present one measured only twenty tons.

[52] It is from these that the shell, so much prized for combs and fancy articles, is obtained.—Translator.

[53] The thirteen pieces, which form the shell of the turtle, are called collectively a "head of tortoise-shell."


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