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Bentley's Miscellany XXV (1849) pp.

347-3581

SIR JAMES BROOKE AND THE PIRATES.


BY JAMES AUGUSTUS ST. JOHN,
AUTHOR OF THE HISTORY OF THE MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE ANCIENT GREEKS, ETC. The number of families directly connected with the settlement on Labuan is not at present very great.2 We know how many Englishmen are in the island, and can easily figure to ourselves the extent of their connections in this country by blood, marriage, or otherwise. Some estimate may consequently be made of the degree of anxiety experienced on the arrival of the China mail, when the postman, going about from house to house, scatters news of fever, wars, pestilence, conflicts with pirates, negotiations, treaties or projected expeditions. And almost every month the circle of interest is enlarging. Fresh individuals are passing over perpetually from Singapore, and new houses of business are founded. Ships of war also and steamers are often arriving or departing from Victoria harbour, and as time proceeds a considerable portion of our home population will find their sympathies revolving round that distant point in the Indian Archipelago. Hereafter, when the colony shall be able to reckon up several years of existence, it will be less instructive and important to follow its minute movements. But it is now like the specimen of some rare tree, whose leaf has scarcely put above ground, and for the sake of which, partly from curiosity but partly also from higher motives, we are eagerly watching every vicissitude in earth or sky. Chiefly, however, the solicitude of the public centres in the health and life of Sir James Brooke, who holds at this moment the enviable post of herald and guarantee of civilisation to a large division of the globe. There are those, I am aware, who, in order to diminish his claims to our interest and sympathy, disparage the field of his labours, deny the importance of his undertakings, and seek to inspire the country with the belief that there never has been any danger in his position, and consequently little or no honour to be derived from maintaining it.3 But they who are at present on the spot, who possess sufficient sagacity to comprehend the nature of the work to be accomplished as well as the character of the man best fitted to perform it, watch with unceasing anxiety the fluctuations in his health, the manner in which the climate affects him, the condition of his animal spirits, and all the nameless accidents of every-day life, which disclose to those around him the extent of a man's physical force and capacity. One of the most unequivocal signs of intellectual superiority is the power of inspiring attachment. All great men have possessed numbers of warm friends, the strength of whose affections has almost always been in proportion to their intimacy. The man who excites admiration from a distance but repels and disgusts when approached is essentially little and mean, though there is no amount of genius or virtue which will suffice to subdue the envy and malice of some individuals who generally hate those most from whom they have received the greatest benefits.4 With respect to Sir James Brooke, it is extremely refreshing to read the reports of those who are placed under his authority, and who either accompany him in his political excursions or aid in carrying out his designs during his absence. All speak of him with affection and, gratitude, they look up to him as a father, while they evidently live with him as with a friend. At the same time they appear thoroughly to understand his official and social value, and to be sensible of what paramount importance it is that he should remain in the midst of that society which be may he truly said to have called into existence. Recently, therefore, when he was suffering from fever, all the young men in the colony5 who were not likewise suffering experienced great anxiety on his account. The malady, however, would not appear to be of a deadly nature. It attacks the patient with sickness, it

prostrates the strength, it disperses and oppresses altogether for a time the animal spirits, and leaves neither hope, nor confidence, nor elasticity of mind. Whether or not it is capable of being propagated by contact is undetermined, but the native servants have a great dread of it, and sometimes desert their masters at the time of their greatest need. When the marshes there have been drained it is expected that the fever will cease altogether or that it will be so slight and unfrequent as to deserve little attention. Every step towards this desirable consummation will of course diminish the evil, and it may, perhaps, be said that the island has already begun to be more healthy than in its primitive state. Every one knows that there is great virtue in a name, and that in most places, however remote or barbarous, where that of England has been heard, it serves as a protection to the individuals who take shelter under it. Occasionally, however, as in the Punjab, the lives of Englishmen are not deemed sacred; and in the midst of sanguinary piratical states it were better not to place unlimited reliance on the influence of the mere fame of Great Britain. What is the strength. or rather what is the weakness of the infant colony on Labuan, most persons know. It consists literally of a handful of men, while the seas are infested by powerful fleets of pirates, Sakarrans, Illanuns, Balanini, who would be happy, should a favourable opportunity offer, to wreak their vengeance upon our countrymen for the 1osses which they have already sustained from them, and for the ruin which they see impending over them from their hands. A fleet of Sakarrans, reported to be manned by twelve hundred men, has for some time been cruizing along the north-west coast of Borneo, where the Illanuns lately murdered thirty-seven of the Sultan's subjects. Many persons expected they would make a descent on Labuan, which, as the reader will presently perceive, was not in a condition to have offered a very obstinate resistance. When our flag waved in solitary grandeur over the point of' Victoria harbour, our admiral on the station left a ship of war to protect it from insult. The prahus passing up and down channel beheld the venerable colours of England flapping in the breeze, with a formidable floating battery close at hand to teach them how to respect it. But when Sir James Brooke had arrived, and been located in Government House, when Bungalows had been built, and property deposited in them, and when officers, some with their wives and children, had placed themselves unhesitatingly under the protection of the British flag, the admiral considered the presence of a ship of war altogether unnecessary, and withdrew towards the Straits with his whole force, if we except that singular specimen of it which I am about to mention. I request the reader's attention to this point, as similar incidents have more than once occurred in the career of Sir James Brooke. On a particular occasion in Sarawak, when his life was openly threatened, when his enemies were numerous and his friends few, when nothing would consequently have been easier than for a paltry force of Malays to reduce Kuching to ashes and massacre the few European inhabitants it contained, all the ships on the station were withdrawn from the Bornean coast, and the adventurous rajah left entirely to the metaphysical influence of his own genius. He got through the trial triumphantly, and as yet no inconvenience has befallen him from the state of isolation in which he has been left. But this does not render less inexplicable the proceedings of the admiral, who has doubtless good reasons to offer for the course he pursued, though it would be difficult at this distance to conjecture what they may be. I have said that the force left for the protection of Labuan was ludicrously insignificant. It was as follows : first, there was the Maeander's6 barge, but without a crew, two men only having been left in charge of it; next, the Ranee steamer, with engineer, stoker, two boys, and two carpenters; then came the Jolly Bachelor, a government private boat, manned from the Maeander with six men; and to complete the list, there was a small body of marines, of whom eighteen only were well enough for active service. Here then we behold the entire garrison of Labuan amounting in all to thirty two men, and under the protection of this imposing force Sir James Brooke and his government lived during eighteen days; on one occasion, sickness had reduced this small body of colonial heroes to nineteen men, with which it would have been necessary to resist one thousand two hundred Sakarrans, had they just then made a descent upon the colony. It ought not to be forgotten that a body of three hundred

labourers was every day expected from Brune; but this, instead of diminishing the difficulties and anxieties of the governor, would have only augmented them. We have often in this country felt ourselves called upon to put forward very severe remarks on the conduct of the Dutch in the Archipelago, where commercial jealousy has impelled them to misrepresent our movements, and grossly to libel Sir James Brooke. In this not very reputable enterprise, the Netherlands government has employed the pen of Mons. Temminck 7, a man not altogether without distinction in the scientific world, who should therefore have been above being employed by any authority whatsoever in conducting an unworthy attack upon an honorable and distinguished man. But Mons, Temminck 's delinquencies have already been pointed out elsewhere, and if a specific reply has not been given to all the random allegations of the Dutch, it is simply because they are too vague to be susceptible of any other than a general contradiction. Our surprise, however, at the hostility of the Netherlanders will be much diminished if we consider the extraordinary jealousy with which the inhabitants of Singapore regard the new settlement. That mercantile men should experience some alarm is intelligible enough, but that they should be induced by that feeling to misrepresent the State and prospects of Labuan would seem altogether incredible, if it were not that circumstances compel us to extend our belief to the fact. But we trust, that this jealousy will not be of long duration. It will be found that the prosperity of Labuan is not to be built on the ruins of Singapore, which could bring no advantage to this country, since it would not be creating a new commerce, but simply transferring an existing commerce from one seat to another. Labuan will constitute the centre of a fresh trade called into existence by its establishment; while it will at the same time greatly contribute to the extinction of that system of piracy which has hitherto paralysed the efforts of commerce and rendered stationary the civilisation of the Archipelago. Some writers in this country, ignorant of the real facts of the case and at the same time intensely envious of Sir James Brooke, have laboured to shew that piracy cannot interfere with the development of European commerce, because the buccaneers, as they pretend, are incapable of attacking a square-rigged vessel with their prahus. But if this were as true as it is the contrary, it would not at all touch the merits of the question. For while the European merchant-men resemble the great rivers which drain off the superfluous humidity of a country, the native prahus resemble the tributary streams which feed the great rivers and render them what they are. There exist several marts or emporiums in the Archipelago, to which its products are brought by the small craft of the natives, which employ the greater part of the year in painfully collecting them from the smaller islands, and from ports, harbours, and inlets inaccessible to navigators from the West. Now to destroy or paralyse this subsidiary trade, is totally to prevent the development of that superior commerce which depends on it; and therefore if Europeans ran no personal risk from the pirates of the Archipelago, which is far from being the truth, we should be equally interested, as a maritime people, in putting an end to the buccaneering system which, so long as it subsists, will unquestionably confine the great body of the natives within the limits of barbarism. Infinite credit, therefore, is due to Sir James Brooke, for his indefatigable exertions in the suppression of piracy, and for his anxiety to conclude treaties with those native princes who have hitherto countenanced and encouraged it. Among these none is more prominent than the Sultan of Brune, with whom we have concluded treaty after treaty, but without hitherto being able entirely to detach him from his evil ways. Some perhaps may be tempted to say that such treaties can be of little use, if they have to be incessantly renewed, from time to time modified, altered, relaxed, or enforced, according to the shifting of circumstances. But the object being to eradicate the source of a certain mischief, it is not quite so easy as many persons imagine to hit the mark at once. When one remedy has been proposed and adopted, it is suddenly found to be only calculated to cure a part of the disease; fresh facts have come to light, fresh symptoms have displayed themselves, and then the necessity is felt

of going over the ground again, and by new contrivances and precautions endeavouring to accomplish a greater amount of good than before. With this preface, we shall proceed to lay before our readers a picturesque and rapid account 8 of the latest expedition to Brune, undertaken for the purpose of concluding a new treaty with the Sultan a man stained with the blood of his own relatives, and animated but a few years ago by the most deadly hatred of Great Britain. October 25th. Started for Brune about half-past twelve, in the Jolly Bachelor, with the Maeander's barge and another boat in company, the steamer waiting for us in the river; we had a beautiful run across, with fresh wind and smooth water, our little cabin was rather crowded but we had a merry evening. The aspect of the shore, as you will remember, is highly striking on both sides of the river's mouth. In front are the small low islands of Moerra, Chermin and others, and behind, the land rises into considerable eminences, and further still into mountains, which were clothed with splendid hues by the setting sun. Our party consisted of His Excellency, who is in every respect a glorious man, four or five officers, a guard of five marines, and twenty-two sailors. The ground near the banks is very low, but behind the mountains rise to a great height, occasionally towering to seven thousand feet. 26th.. Worked and towed up the river. The scenery is very fine, with beautiful undulating hills on either bank, very low and covered with brushwood and diminutive jungle; some are almost bare and these, I believe, were formerly covered with flourishing pepper gardens. About ten we arrived at the city, which is large with tolerable Malay houses, built on piles in the river, which here expands almost to a lake, between the houses runs the water, slow, sluggish, and muddy, with strong effluvia proceeding from either bank, The moment we arrived we were surrounded by scores of boats of all sizes and shapes, from the large canoe to the little swimming hollow log, paddled by a boy not exceeding ten years of age; every house sent forth a crowd of anxious faces, all staring at us, the little steamer occupying the principal portion of their attention. On the left bank, clustering in groups each of several hundreds, was a fleet of sampans, paddled by women, with large umbrella hats, buying and selling this is, in fact, the market of Brune. You know what our friend Forest 9 says on the subject. His account was no doubt extremely correct when it was written, but as the condition of Brune has greatly changed since then, we must make allowances for the alterations; what we now behold is a diminutive representative of the splendid market which unfolded itself before the eyes of the old traveller, when a large portion of the wealth of the Archipelago, as well as of the neighbouring countries, was brought by commerce to Brune. Just as we anchored, the native guns commenced saluting, which we returned with twenty-one. About two we landed at a house between the Sultan's residence and a shabby wooden mosque. Having dressed, we proceeded to the audience; the Sultan's palace is a cluster of common houses; his hall is of an oblong form, with some ornaments, and boarded, with kadjang sides. At one end sat his Highness the Sultan, on a tolerable chair or bedstead; Sir James on his left, Pangeran Mumin at his feet, we around, with some of the Pangerans. The ceremony was short; during the interview there was much fidgitiness on the part of the Sultan, who seemed desirous of appearing confidential and at his ease; but it was all outward show. The treaty with its silver seal, was presented to him in a silver box, which he placed on his right hand. Its delivery was accompanied by a salute from the shore and boats. His Highness, by the imperfect light in which I saw him, appeared about fifty, but is, I believe, considerably more. Just before dinner one of the officers and I had a pull round a little of the town; the houses are not so neat as those at Sarawak, and there in more comparative insolence in the manners of the people. They call out, shout, and laugh at you, scandalized perhaps, by the strangeness of your costume and the novelty of your complexion. How different from the same class at Sarawak! The Sultan sent a present of fowls and fruit, and the Chinamen some of the far-famed birds'-nest soup, dressed in different ways; one very sweet, another boiled with a fowl, like common soup, with an indescribable isinglass taste. I have not yet enjoyed an opportunity of visiting the caverns whence these nests are obtained, or of investigating the history of their formation; possibly,

however, as I extend my researches through the Archipelago, I may be able to collect and transmit to you more precise information than we hitherto possess on the subject. It is certain, meanwhile, that the taste for birds'-nest soup is not dying out; on the contrary, in proportion as the Chinese colonies multiply, there will be an increasing demand for the article, which may lead to a more thorough examination of the less known islands, and to an enlargement of the field of commerce and science. In the evening called on Mumin. A great dread appears to exist here of the Kyans, who are gradually driving out the Malays, and even extend their incursions to within a day's march of the capital. Of this people something is already known in Europe through the Rajah's journals, but events are probably impending which will still further familiarise us with their character and habits. They are a bold, fierce, and independent people, divided into numerous tribes, who possess between them the whole interior of Borneo. No Malay prince has ever commanded even their nominal allegiance, as they despise servitude and would prefer death to it. It would be not a little curious to draw their picture as it comes to us, swelled into colossal magnitude by the terrified imagination of the Malays, who acknowledge, however, that they are just and upright in their dealings, hospitable to strangers, and not only willing but desirous to behold them in their country, which still remains for the most part a terra incognita. Their notions both of this life and the next are very curious. They marry but one wife, and bury their dead in trees, like that ancient nation whose custom you describe in your work on Ancient Greece, I have not seen a specimen of them as yet, but if things go on as there seems every reason to expect, we may be brought into contact with them shortly. 27th. At home, reading in the morning, little presents constantly arriving. An officer went to Mumin and the Sultan, to obtain the receipts for the presents which were made to him, to Mumin, and to Muda Mohammed, in good hard cash, which they prefer to everything else. In the evening I proceeded, in company with an officer of the expedition, to enjoy a cruise up the river in a canoe to visit the upas tree, and to obtain a view of the town. We landed [?]ing-ground, and were there met by a Malay, who earnestly warned us not to approach the deadly tree. We, however, continued our course, and forced our way through the tangled bushes to its base. It has a noble stem, rising some thirty- five feet without a branch, and then spreading out with foliage of the richest green; its base is about eighteen feet in circumference; the colour of its bark a light brown. The story even of the poison of the tree is very much exaggerated, Many men were wounded in the expedition against the pirates, with the sumpitans, but none, the Rajah tells me, felt any ill consequences, the arrow being immediately withdrawn and the wound dressed. Under and around the upas are numerous graves crowded together, and a small shed, in which are some more important tombs, one rather large and with something like a marble head. I dare say the Malays still give full credit to the stories related of the fabulous upas in Java, which extends its fatal influence for miles around, and the road to which is covered with the skeletons of the wretches employed to obtain its poison. The real method of preparing this deadly drug, for which the people of Eastern Java are celebrated. Is little known in Europe, as well as the ingredients which they mix up with the upas juice, the alum, the onions, and the garlic, the pepper, and the capsicum seed, and the cause which produces the commotion in the liquor, and sends the capsicum seed a first and a second time whirling round rapidly in a circle, is still a mystery, but the ceasing of all perceptible activity within is a sign that the poison is perfect, and may be efficiently employed in tinging the points of the small darts thrown through the sumpitans or any other weapons. Leaving this cemetery we paddled down till we came to the path that leads to the Kiangi stream, where we mounted the hill, and saw the town spread out map-like before us. This is the most striking scene I have as yet witnessed in the Indian Archipelago. The sun was just setting, amid a broken mass of clouds, and threw its dimmed rays over everything around. The river,, slowly meandering through the town and country, flowed past our feet, its waters faintly tinged with purple, while around, till hidden by the rapidly approaching darkness, we could perceive a succession of hill and dale, gilded here and there, and generally clothed with vegetation to the summit; but that the eye should not be wearied, many an eminence was clear, and presented its bare

front to the cool breeze that came soothingly down the stream to fan us, as we stood heated by our exertions in ascending this little steep. 'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view,' as I found in Brune. From our position the rows of houses, with patches of water glittering between them like tinsel, appeared very picturesque, while the vessels, the prahus and the little boats, added much to the interest of the scene. You have yourself, in your description, compared the city, in its palmy state, to Venice rising out of the waters of the Adriatic. But the elements of the comparison are becoming fewer and fewer every day. The good houses would seem to have been numerous in old times, when Brune was really the capital of a wealthy kingdom; but poverty has long been substituted for opulence, and decay is everywhere visible. When the companions of Magellan came hither after the death of that great navigator, the Sultan possessed a number of state elephants, magnificently caparisoned, and indications of wealth were discoverable on all sides. To compare the condition of that prince with the state in which we now find Omar All, trembling at the approach of the Kyans, scarcely master of his own servants, and eagerly coveting the present of a few dollars, we shall be made sensible of the moral and political revolution which time has brought about in the Archipelago. 'Leaving the position from which we had enjoyed so splendid a view of the city, we visited a very pretty little artificial waterfall in a large, natural grotto. It is from this place that the town is supplied with water. In the evening we went as usual to Mumin's, where the guests were assembled in a long, spacious room. They were all men, of course, and ranged in rows on either side of the apartment. The natives do not get easily accustomed to our appearance, but stared at us a good deal, and we, through curiosity, involuntarily returned them the compliment, A little chat there was, but it could hardly be dignified by the name of conversation, though each party appeared desirous of making the best of the matter. We took tea and a roko 10, and then, after a great deal of smiling and bowing, departed, not a little pleased with our entertainment. I may here remark that the Malays are not a disagreeable people in the relations of social life. They are communicative and though it is quite probable that they conceal a great many vices beneath their agreeable exterior; however, I shall not prejudge them, but describe their character and manners according to my opportunities for observation, I am rather pleased with them as yet, though I may very probably have to correct or change my notions as I go along. October 28th. Started with a party for a cruize up the Kiangi stream to visit the coal-seam11. This little river falls into that of Brune a little before you reach the first house in ascending, and as you follow its meanderings inward you pass through a very agreeable tract of country. As soon as we had traversed the mangroves, every turn we made in our light canoe discovered to us some pretty nook, some elegant natural bower, and occasionally a lovely vista. Delighted with the constantly varied prospect, we continued to paddle along, till the stream at length dwindled into a ditch not more than three feet wide, and we then forced our way on with poles till the sides of the canoe touched both banks and we stuck last. Here is the great coal-seam, which, neglected at present, will hereafter constitute an inexhaustible source of riches to Brune, at least if it be half so extensive and productive as there now appears every reason to expect. We observed masses of the mineral in various places, and I believe it is generally admitted to be of the most excellent quality. There can never be any difficulty in discovery of the spot, since whoever follows the course of the Kiangi from its confluence upwards, must inevitably be brought to it. Above, where the bed of coal crosses the stream, the Kiangi widens again, but is no longer navigable even in a canoe, its bed being choked up with rocks and sand. In returning we found another large outcrop of coal, where the river assumes the appearance of a ditch. The water, sheltered by the trees and banks, was delightfully cool, which tempted some of our party to bathe, though I felt no inclination to follow their example. Having descended the smaller stream and entered the city, we found ourselves in that part of the river which had that day been selected for holding the market. You are aware that the natives appropriate no particular part of the stream for this purpose, but paddle with their merchandize, now in one direction and now In another, just as they are impelled by fancy. On the present occasion there was

a little fleet of about 200 sampans, paddled, some by one woman and some by two, sheltered from the sun by large umbrella hats, which made them look like so many hovels put in motion. Beneath this portable circular shed they stood, cool and comfortable, offering their goods for sale, bargaining, chattering with each other, or enjoying the breeze, while waiting for customers. The articles for sale consist of fish, poultry, fruit, vegetables, and whatever else enters into the daily consumption of a native of Brune. As we approached in our large canoe the sampans sheered off, and scattered in all directions to make way for us, not through dislike, respect, or serious apprehension, but for fear we should, through mere mischief, run them down for the pleasure of seeing their fair inmates scrambling in the water, which would certainly have amused more than one of our party. Hereafter, should an opportunity offer, I may visit the market quietly, with a native paddler, when I shall be able to contemplate the whole affair at my ease. Most of the boatwomen were old, or at any rate past the prime of life, which they are at a very early age, as hard work and exposure to the air soon take the shine out of them in this country. Of the few young women I saw two or three were pretty, but as, out of negligence or ostentation, they went bareheaded, their good looks will not be of long duration. October 29th. Read in the morning. In the afternoon went to the Sultan's, where there was a meeting of Europeans, Chinese, and Klings, called together to consider the prospects of the trade of the place. A proclamation, by Sir James Brooke, was read, calling on all merchants and traders to respect the provisions of the treaty, and not to attempt to evade the rightful decrees of the Sultan, The Chinese and Kling merchants appear to be very respectable, and if protection be afforded, they will do much towards the restoring the prosperity of Brune. It is well known that many years ago, during the reign of a prince possessing prudence and forbearance, a number of emigrants from the celestial empire settled in this capital, where tokens of their presence soon became visible in the increasing activity of commerce and the improved cultivation of the soil. The face of the hills was cleared of jungle and planted with pepper vines; gardens were laid out, in which the best kinds of fruit and vegetables were cultivated, and the whole neighbourhood began to wear the appearance of the environs of a great city in China, Numerous junks meanwhile from Amoy, Ningpo, and other Chinese ports came for the products of the island, such as camphor, pepper, birds-nests, rattans, agar-agar, and timber. What is called the lumber trade was peculiarly profitable and flourishing, and had not the succeeding sultans entered into disgraceful relations with the pirates, and thus frightened away a majority of the Chinese settlers, Brune might have been this day a wealthy city, whose sovereign would not have trembled in his house at the approach of a wild tribe from the interior; but it was left apparently for the English to regenerate this part of the island, and if it be practicable Sir James Brooke will effect it, for his perseverance, humanity, and statesmanship render him, in my opinion, equal to anything. This being he last evening of our stay, we remained up very late, and started early next morning. In fact, we were moving down the river at half-past five. One soon gets used to the scenery of the tropics as to anything else. Admiration is a short-lived feeling, and it is only now and then that it is awakened, when any unusual magnificence of prospect bursts upon the sight. We landed on Moerra in our canoe, and afterwards pulled round the greater part of the island, on which the rajah shot a pigeon. After a short stay we returned, and anchored about eight, outside the river. October 31st. Weighed anchor, and lost a canoe which a friend and I had purchased between us at Brune. It had of course been badly secured. We regretted the loss, as it was rather handsome. Reached Labuan in time to breakfast on shore, and although the trip had been exceedingly agreeable, were not sorry to find ourselves in what, for the present, we must consider our home. We are now living in a little plain, with the sea in front and the jungle behind us; the waves wash nearlyup to our houses, and, in ad weather, break over and flood the foundations. Standing at Government House door, you behold the sea stretched out before you, dotted with pretty islets, and in the background the bright mountains of Brune; while occasionally you may obtain a glimpse of Keni Balu, the highest mountain in Insular Asia.

Being now returned, I must recapitulate the results of our expedition, which, as you will perceive, was altogether as agreeable as it was successful. In the first place we have ratified the treaty and delivered the present, with which all the recipients would appear to have been contented. Second, we have quieted the highly excited apprehensions of the people, who expected we were about to seize on the capital and on the county by way of punishing, I suppose, the clandestine connection of their sovereign with the pirates. This belief was industriously circulated by all the Pangerans hostile to the English. Third, we have obtained letters from the Sultan requesting the return of the Sarawak Pangerans, that is to say, the relatives of the late Muda Hassim, whose tragical death must still be fresh in your recollection. Fourth, the Sultan has been induced to dispatch letters to all parts of his dominions authorising the natives to trade freely with Labuan, which they have hitherto been restrained from doing by fear. In addition to the above, several English claims have been settled, and a moderate scale of duties has been definitively established. The Sultan has likewise agreed to send over several hundred labourers to Labuan, which he has since done and these are now employed in draining the swamps, and other necessary operations. The greatest fear of the Pangerans now is that all their slaves will desert them, and clandestinely make their way over to Labuan, where, by the English law, they would immediately be free. The old Sultan Omar Ali is, as you know, a very weak man; but at present inclined to be friendly, His chief minister, Mumin, would appear to be an easy, good-natured person [not ?] over gifted with sagacity, who manages the affairs of the country [?ue mal] under the influence, it is said, of that daring Pa[ngeran Mak]ota, a fat, sleek, jolly-looking man, but to the last degree crafty and unprincipled. His whole career shews him to be possesed of superior abilities; but he has been ruined by his own restless spirit of intrigue. Sir James Brooke has given him a world-wide reputation, but very far from an enviable one. Nothing could formerly exceed his hostility to the British, but time and experience having now at length convinced him that our influence is likely to remain supreme in the Archipelago, he is as anxious to obtain our favour as he once was to display his enmity to us; and as we found him a troublesome and dangerous foe, so we may hereafter, should his policy be what I suspect it is, make of him a useful friend. I like him as far as his manners go. He is trying to obtain his Excellency's favour, in order, through his influence, to share the government of Brune. But he has to deal with one who is not to be overreached, and who cannot be betrayed into any course which he is not thoroughly satisfied will promote the good of the country. I thus close my account of our short trip to Brune, which, as you will perceive, has been productive of many useful consequences. We are now making preparations for a voyage to Sulu, for the purpose it is believed of concluding a treaty with the Sultan of that group; or, failing in that object, to chastise the pirates who infest it. Pray continue to throw light on this part of the subject. Few in Europe would believe how widely spread the piratical system is, or how great would be the difficulties to be encountered in thoroughly extirpating it. Up to this moment it is not known even here where all the piratical haunts are situated. We are aware that the Illanuns issue from Magindanao and other islands of the Archipelago. That the Balanini have their stronghold somewhere in the Sulu group, and that nearly everywhere the daring marauders are found. However, we shall know more about the matter shortly, and immediately on our return I will write you an account of all we have learned respecting them. We start to-day, December 3 rd. How long we shall be absent I cannot foresee. I look forward, however, with much interest to the results of the voyage. Adieu. From the above journal, dashed off hastily on the spot, it will be perceived that his Excellency, Sir James Brooke, is labouring strenuously to establish British influence in the north of Borneo, and to extend it as far as possible eastward. His enemies here at home, inspired by the spirit of the Dutch, affect to believe that the whole Archipelago is effectually closed by treaty against the English, and one of these in particular, an extremely bitter writer, whom I will not name, has been recently very facetious on the subject of piracy. Dividing the whole Archipelago into two parts, he tells us that the Dutch have all south of the equator, and the Spaniards thus the remainder, so that the

English are mere interlopers, who cannot move a foot without treading on the toes of their allies. This heavy antagonist of civilization, to whose lucubrations I may have, probably, many occasions to refer hereafter, seems above all things anxious to create the impression that the great island of Kalamantan, with the very name of which he quarrels, is little better than a mere desert, indeed he has compared it with the interior of Africa; and after maintaining that all beyond the coast is entirely unknown, undertakes to assure the world that it is nothing better than a series of swamps, bogs, and morasses. At the risk of again arousing the angry, but not very dangerous antagonist to whom I have above alluded, I reiterate my assertion made elsewhere, that the best, and perhaps the only, means of entirely suppressing piracy in the Archipelago, is to multiply stations and settlements, the cost of which will be amply repaid by the increase which will thus be made to our commerce. The funds of the nation cannot be better spent than in multiplying the means of developing the nation's industry, in throwing open new outlets far our manufactures, in diffusing the quickening influences of civilisation among barbarous tribes, and thus inciting them to covet those things with which we, above all the other nations in Christendom, can best supply them. The Singapore merchants may be alarmed, and many persons here at home, penny wise and pound foolish, may object to the multiplying of such stations; but the solid advantages we have gained by the founding of Singapore, should induce us to despise these clamours, and persevere in that enlightened course of policy which led to the settlement on Labuan, and will lead ultimately, to our taking possession of Borneo, and many other islands in the mighty Archipelago of the East.

1 Transcribed and annotated by Martin Laverty, Dec.2011. 2 Labuan was not officially opened to settlement until August 184?, but St.John's son, Spenser, had arrived in July? As secretary to the Governor, James Brooke.

This picture was drawn by Dr Startin, medical officer of the H.E.I.C. war steamer Phlegethon in August, and appeared in the Illustrated London News of 9th Dec. 1848. The government buildings are to the right; the navy well to the left of the flag-staff; with a bath house and offices for the Phlegethon to the left. 3 The size of the Governor's salary (2000) had been raised in Parliament by Joseph Hume on 21 st Aug, 1848, as reported in Hansard: he was defeated. 4 This must be a reference to Henry Wise (1802-1866) 5 Attention has been focussed recently on the youth of the men Brooke (45) tended to recruit: Spenser St.John, (22), Charles Grant (17), Hugh Low (24) 6 H.M.S.Maeander, under Captain Keppel, had brought Brooke and his retinue to start the government of Labuan. It was pictured in the Illustrated London News, together with an account of its departure from Portsmouth

7 C.J.Temminck (1778-1858) was a Dutch zoologist, director of the Leiden Museum 8 The author of this account must surely have been Spenser St.John, writing home to his father. A short account appeared in the Illustrated London News of ? Under the title LABUAN: From this new settlement we have accounts up to 9 th November. The visit of ceremony to the Sultan by Sir James Brooke was undertaken on October 26 when the final arrangements for the treaty obligations of the two

nations were put into effect. On October 24, his Excellency Governor Brooke left Labuan in the Jolly Bachelor, followed by the small steamer Ranee. Having passed up the Bruni river the party halted near the town, and a Royal salute was fired from the Sultan's fort. Rajah Brooke and suite were accomodated in temporary lodgings erected on the site of the battery which first opened fire on the Phlegethon. On the 26th, accompanied by the small number of Europeans present, and attended by his suite and a party of the Maeander's marines from Labuan, Sir James Brooke presented the Sultan with a ratified copy of the treaty with the Queen of England, enclosed within a handsome silver box; the latter was eyed by the Sultan with visible marks of satisfaction, but the treaty he did not take the trouble to examine..Sir James then, in the name of the Queen, informed his Highness that eternal friendship having been sworn between them, her Majesty had directed him to present his Highness with 3000 Spanish dollars, as a mark of respect for the free cession of the island of Labuan. Sir James then presented Pangeran Moormein with 1000 dollars, and other sums to members of the Court, at which they were delighted; the presentation in each case being accompanied by some appropriate remarks from the Rajah of Sarawak. They returned to Labuan on the 31st. The accounts from Labuan itself are very unsatisfactory. Sickness was general among the small number of persons on the island. The colonial surgeon had happily recovered, but Sir James Brooke was laid up with fever at the date of our lat advice. The site selected for the town appears to be an unhappy one, being in the centre of a swamp, part of which is below high-water mark. The Chinese and Kling Coolies had almost deserted the place or died of fever; and such was the scarcity of labourers that the wooden houses of the governor and others, which were constructed at Singapore, and carried over in the William Shand, were not set up. The local authorities were living in rude huts built on the mud, but were about to remove to some higher ground, as fever had laid nearly every one prostrate. Three more of the Maeander's marines died, and every one of them were on the sick list. The admiral had ordered their immediate relief by Madras sepoys from Singapore. 9 Thomas Forrest (1729?-1802?), author of A Voyage to New Guinea ... during the years 1774, 1775, and 1776 visited Brunei, as referred to by J.A.St.John in his text for Views in the Eastern Archipelago (1847) 10 Roko, Malay for cigarette 11 The coal at Kiangi was being worked on a small scale as early as 1842, according to Boyle on p.121 of The Woodland Orchids (1901). It was investigated for the Admiralty in 1845 by Hiram Willliams.

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