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Voyages aur Indes Orientales, pendant les années 1802-3-4-5 & 6, &c. &c, Par C. F. Tombe, Ancien Capitaine-Adjoint du Génie employé prés de la Haute Régence à Batavia, &c. Revu et augmenté de plusieurs Notes et Eclaircissemens, par M. Sonnini. Paris. 1810.
Sketches, Civil and JMilitary, of the Island of Java and its immediate Dependencies; comprising interesting Details of Batavia, and authentic Particulars of the celebrated Poison-tree. Illustrated with a JMap, &c. Stockdale. Lon. don. 1811.
THE Gallo-Batavian flag, which for a little while had been suffered to wave in the eastern hemisphere, is now struck, to wave no more. The fears and anxieties which had arisen in the minds of many well-informed persons, as to the result of the expedition against Java, are happily relieved—not that any doubt could be entertained of the skill and valour of those to whom it was entrusted; but the season of the year, in which it set out from Malacca, was unfavourable; and the adverse monsoon generally blows with such violence, that the best equipped ships of war are but ill calculated to contend against it. Those, therefore, who augured the best, looked forward to a protracted result. It was thought by many that the governor-general of India had unnecessarily augmented the strength of the expedition, and thereby delayed its departure, for the mere gratification of putting himself at the head of an armament so formidable as to bear down all resistance. We pretend not to decide on the wisdom of the measures pursued by the governor-general; but he appears entitled to a due share of credit for having ascertained the practicability of a new route, by which a saving of six weeks was effected in point of time, and one of infinitely more importance, in the health and lives of troops, cooped up in transports un
VOL. VIII, B
der a vertical sun. On leaving the straits of Sincapore the fleet stood across to the western coast of Borneo, where, by the shelter afforded against the monsoon, and the influence of the land in producing variable winds, they made a good southerly course as far as the south-west point of this immense island, called point Sambaar, whence they were able to fetch the coast of Java off point Indremaya, two degrees to the eastward of Batavia. The troops landed on the 4th August; and, on the 8th, the city of Batavia surrendered at discretion: on the 10th a sharp action took place with the corps d'élite of the Gallo-Batavian army, who was driven into their strongly entrenched camp at Cornelis, which, on the 26th, was carried by assault, when the whole of the enemy's army, upwards of 10,000 disciplined men, were either killed, taken and dispersed, with the exception of 50 or 60 horse that escaped with the governor-general Jansens, who is described as a fugitive in the mountains of Java. Jansens, however, as appears by his own dispatch, retreated upon Cheribon, whence he doubtless proceeded, with the garrison, to Surabaya, at the eastern extremity of the island, (where the remains of admiral Hartzinc's squadron was destroyed in 1807 by Sir Edward Pellew,) a strong position, and defended as appears by a weekly report which fell into our hands, by a division of the army amounting to 3,700 men. The assault of Cornelis, however, we are inclined to think, may be considered as decisive of the fate of Java; and, as Lord Minto observes, ‘an empire, which for two centuries has contributed greatly to the power, prosperity, and grandeur, of one of the principal and most respected states of Europe, has been thus wrested from the short usurpation of the French government, added to the dominion of the British crown, and converted, from a seat of hostile machination and commercial competition, into an augmentation of British power and prosperity.’ Mr. Tombe is a very simple traveller, and ‘speaks no more than is set down for him.’ He relates what he has been told, and that is not much, nor always correct; and he mentions what he has seen, without discriminating what was not worth being mentioned, and what was undeserving of notice. The other gentleman avows himself a book-maker, and deprecates the severity of criticism which, he tells us, ‘has often shewn itself indulgent to his lowly endeavours.” If he will continue to make books, we would merely wish him to exercise a little judgment in the selection of his materials, and not to set one page in direct hostility with another—to combine his authorities, condense his matter, and arrange his plan—he may then hope to make a book from the labours of others, which “shall contain amusement, interest, and information.” The authors on whom he has levied
contributions, on the present occasion, are Stavorinus, a rear-admiral in the Dutch service; Valentyn, a voluminous and valuable Dutch compiler of the early part of last century : Sir George Staunton, Mr. Tombe, and M. Leschenault, the French naturalist. We must do him the justice to say, that he has collected fairly, and interpolated little or nothing of his own. The brief sketch which we shall now offer of the rich and beautiful island of Java will be drawn partly from these and other sources, as well as from our own local knowledge, for we too have been in Java. The island of Java is an irregular parallelogram, lying between the 6th and 9th parallels of southern latitude, and extending from the 105th to the 114th degree of eastern longitude, being in its mean length about 600 miles, and mean breadth 100 miles, containing 60,000 square miles, and said to be peopled by about three millions of inhabitants, which would give 50 to a square mile, or about one third of the number to a square mile in 1..ngland and Wales. The strait of Sunda, about 20 miles in wit...h at the narrowest part, divides it from Sumatra on the north-west, and two narrow straits, from tie islands Madura and Bally on the east. The coast on the strait of Sunda rises with a gradual slope into boid and well-wooded hills, the highest of which is about the centre of this extremity; from hence they are extended, in a broken chain, through the whole length of the island, which they divide into two sections; that on the north side was wholly under the influence of the Dutch, and that to the southward is still unexplored and unknown. The south coast is indeed bold, rocky, and almost inaccessible ; but the whole extent of the northern shore is low swampy ground, intersected with numerous streams issuing from the central mountains, and indented with many bays and inlets, in most of which there is good anchorage for shipping of all sizes. Beginning at the western extremity of the island, Java was divided into five kingdoms. 1. Bantam. 2. Jacatra. 3. Cheribon. 4. Soesoehoenam, part of which forms the 5th division, or that of the Sultan. The produce of Bantam is chiefly pepper, in which the sovereign stipulated to pay an annual tribute to the Dutch, and engaged to prohibit his subjects from selling any kind of produce, except to them, and at a fixed price. The quantity delivered by him has been stated at five or six million pounds a year, at something less than two-pence per pound. The king of Bantam . lived in a fort garrisoned by the Dutch. The tenure by which he held his dominions was quandiu bene we gesserit, and he was continued or deposed according as he was “grateful and obedient,” or the contrary. Qf Jacatra the Dutch had the sole and absolute sovereiguty
Having put the legitimate chief of this small territory to death, and set fire to his capital, they erected on its ruins the present city of Batavia, in the year 1619. This small, but fertile district, produces all kinds of vegetables and fruit, for the consumption of the city, and of the shipping which frequent the port; besides coffee, sugar, rice, pepper, and indigo, for exportation. Large tracts of land in its vicinity are planted with the catjang, a species of dolichos, cultivated by the Chinese for the two-fold purpose of expressing an oil from the seed, and of feeding their hogs with the residue. In the gardens are also produced an abundance of cardamoms, ginger, and turmeric. Cheribon is nominally divided into several principalities, the chiefs of which were all under an obligation, like the king of Bantam, to deliver to the Dutch East India Company, at a fixed price, exclusively the produce of their territories, and in each district there was a Dutch fort and garrison to enforce the contract and exact obedience. The produce is principally confined to sugar, indigo, cotton, and rice. Soesoehoenam is the title given to the emperor of Java, who formerly possessed the whole of the island to the eastward of Cheribon; but on a quarrel breaking out between him and a prince of the blood, he was induced to seek assistance of the Dutch, for which he agreed to assign over one half of his territories. The Dutch with more than Machiavelian policy, conferred on the very man, whom they had assisted to subdue, the government of the assigned territories under the title of the Sultan. In this part of Java are extensive forests of teak and other valuable timber. The climate of Java is very various. The general range of the thermometer on the northern coast, is from 72° to 84° of Fahrenheit, in the S.E. or dry monsoon, which continues from April to September inclusive, and from 848 to 90° in the wet monsoon, which is irregular in its duration, the wind being variable from west to N. E. In fact the regular monsoon is much interrupted by the great quantity of land which occasions a succession of land and sea breezes at all times of the year. In approaching the central or blue mountains, the air is dry and sharp, and frost is sometimes experienced on their summits. The city of Batavia is proverbially unhealthy, not so much from the heat of the climate, as from its injudicious situation and misplaced embellishments. It is not only completely surrounded by water nearly stagnant, but every street has its canal and its rows of evergreen trees. It is, in short, the city of Amsterdam in miniature—something imposing in its general appearance, but without a single specimen of architecture that is not contemptiSle. These canals become the common reservoirs of all the filth and offal which the city produces, and which is supposed to be carried into the bay by a broad channel that has scarcely any current, and requires constant labour and attention to prevent it from choaking up altogether. On the land side of the city are gardens and rice grounds, intersected in every direction with canals and ditches; and the whole shore of the bay is a bank of mud, mixed with putrid substances, or sea-weeds and other vegetable matter, in a state of fermentation. To these swamps, morasses, and mud-banks, may be ascribed that insalubrity of the air which produces febrile diseases, more destructive than those of Walcheren, in proportion as the heat of an equinoctial climate renders them more acute. To those who have stood the first attack, or seasoning, the fever becomes at last constitutional, and recurs at the moist and hot season regularly, without much inconvenience to the patient. Sudden deaths, however, are so frequent in Batavia, that o make little impression on the minds of the inhabitants. Mr. Tombe informs us that, whem a Dutchman marries, he makes his will: he seems to think that this solemn prelude to a joyful occasion is to provide against any accident that may happen in consequence of it; but Mr. Tombe is not aware that even in Holland, a will is a common epithalamium to a Dutch wedding, and is intended to regulate, agreeably to the wish of the parties, that community of property, the disposal of which is otherwise prescribed by the Justinian Code. In addition to the baneful effects of the climate, and the marshy miasma of Batavia, the manner of life among the European part of the inhabitants contributes not a little to frequent and fatal diseases. A plentiful dinner at noon induces an afternoon's siesta, and a still more plentiful supper terminates the day, in the course of which they consume an immeasurable quantity of claret, madeira, gin, and Dutch beer. Few Europeans can stand the effects of such a life. If one in three of the new comers survives the year, he may account himself a favoured person; one in five is reckoned as the average waste of Europeans of all descriptions of men, including the troops. The air of Bantam is still more pestilential than that of Batavia ; of the baneful effects of the climate of this place, Mr. Tombe mentions a remarkable instance. It was on the occasion of installing the soveriegn whom the Dutch East Indian Company appointed to the throne of this kingdom in 1804. The deputation from Batavia consisted of a counsellor of India, four senior merchants, a major, lieutenant, sergeant, two corporals, eighteen French, and eighteen Dutch grenadiers. The ceremony lasted fifteen days, at the end of which time, or soon after their return, the whole of the grenadiers and European subalterns died, two or three only of the French having escaped. The secretary