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Torres Straits—Death of a Sailor at Sea—Bay of Batavia—Mr. Medhurst, Missionary in Java–Chinese in Batavia—Malays—Hospital— Visit to the Dutch Governor of Java–Appearance of the Country— Village of Baitenzorg–Premises and Hospitality of the Governor— Picture of Buonaparte—Christian Village—Journey to Samarang— A Javanese Prince—Suspension and Floating Bridges—Volcanic Mountains—Tiger-traps—Cemeteries—Marvellous Story——Revellers —Method of frightening Birds from Rice-fields—Buffaloes—Mr. Brockener, Baptist Missionary—Chinese Temple and Priests—Visit to Solo—A Grandee.
June 29. This day we have completed the intricate and dangerous part of the navigation of Torres Straits, winding between New Holland and New Guinea on the north. We record the date of this event, on our voyage, because we feel that we have been continually delivered from hindrances and difficulties, seen and unseen, in the way, which might have proved destructive to the vessel or fatal to ourselves, under circumstances less favorable than those which, by order of a gracious Providence, have made our four days' passage (coming to anchor every evening) about a hundred and fifty miles in length, among sunken rocks, coral islands, shoals and reefs, delightful by day and secure by night. This was the more remarkable, as there were two other ships (the Hercules and the Asia) in company with ours, and no damage has been suffered by either, nor any delay occasioned, except in a single instance, when the Asia ran aground, but was got off in the course of half an hour. We are now
VOL. III. 2
14 DeATH OF A SAILOR.
eighteen days at sea, from Sydney, and have had none but pleasant weather. The open ocean once again before us, we cheerfully commit ourselves to Him whom winds and waves obey, desiring only to be prospered as we trust we are sincerely endeavoring to do his “business,” and not our own, in the mighty waters. July 5. S. lat. 9° 52', E. long. 128° 20'. This morning a signal was made by the Hercules for the surgeon, who sailed with us, to come with assistance immediately wanted. A sailor had fallen from the fore-tops upon the deck, and fractured his skull. Mr. Bell, the surgeon, lost no time in going on board that vessel, but before he had reached it the unfortunate sufferer was dead. He was said to be the best man of the crew. At twelve o'clock, at noon, his body was committed to the deep. This circumstance threw a melancholy gloom over the whole of our little fleet; the three ships of which were sailing together within a furlong of each other, in a silence quite unconcerted, but so inevitable and affecting, that the recollection still brings the burden and shade of that interval over our spirits. We (the deputation) were peculiarly touched, at once with glowing gratitude and humble awe, by the consideration that this was the first death, in our presence, by one of those accidents which daily expose mariners to sudden destruction, since we left our native country four years ago, during which we have sailed thousands and tens of thousands of miles, in all weathers and in almost all climates. July 17. Without any further occurrence necessary to be mentioned, we came into the Bay of Batavia this evening. As we doubled the Madura-point, or the extremity of land on the eastern quarter, we were struck with the magnificent picture presented to our eyes—a long range of lofty mountains inland; thick forest-jungles, stretching down to the edge of the water; on the one side many small islands, with beacons upon them; and in the middle distance the broad plain between the shore and the high grounds on which the city of Batavia stands. It was so late before we came to anchor, that we could not reach the usual station, where from fifty to sixty ships, of many sizes, and from various countries, were reposing on the tide, at the distance of four or five miles from us. Besides these the harbor was thronged with barges, boats, and other small craft, some of very outlandish appearance to us, who have yet seen little of Oriental ship
ping. Four huge Chinese junks particularly attracted our notice, and perfectly agreed with all our preconceived ideas concerning the “Celestial Empire.” Every thing Chinese bears such characteristic marks of the country and the people to which it belongs, that, from a ship to a tea-cup, you can scarcely be mistaken in guessing whence it comes. July 18. We came to the regular anchoring-place at noon, near two massy piers, formed of piles and planks, that run about three-quarters of a mile each into the bay, receiving between them, as a channel, the waters of a considerable river, which here disembogues itself. The current is strong, and of a muddy red color. Up and down this stream many small vessels were plying, and there appeared about the whole scene an air of business, and an activity of intercourse, which we had not witnessed since we left the Thames. We were received by the resident missionary of the London Society here, Mr. Medhurst, with great cordiality. Knowing that our stay must be short, we took an early opportunity of walking through the various quarters of this great city, which every where bears evidence of extensive commercial enterprise and traffic to distant lands. Two considerable rivers meeting here, canals have been made to branch forth from them in different directions, to ventilate and cleanse the place; and down each of the two principal streets a channel has been formed, of depth sufficient for barges to pass to and fro upon it. Trees are planted, at equal distances, on the banks. Many of the houses are large, and sumptuous in appearance, having been constructed in the grotesque Dutch style. Most of them are now converted into stores for merchandize, of which immense quantities are laid up in them. These mansions were formerly the dwellings of the principal Dutch families, but have been deserted on account of the frequent fevers to which a thick-peopled town, in the torrid zone, and standing in the midst of a prodigious swamp, is subject. The merchants—and the merchants here, like those of Tyre, “are princes”—have found both healthy and pleasant situations for villas in the neighborhood, within four or five miles of this metropolis of Dutch India. Batavia is regularly built; the streets cross each other at right angles, and are of suitable width, well paved, and having broad footpaths of granite, or tiles, on each side; the carriage-way between is gravelled. There is a portion, however, of the city, strongly con
I6 CHINESE IN BATAVIA.
trasted with the European parts, inhabited solely by Chinese, and called their camp. These foreigners live generally in small low houses, to each of which is attached a shop, with all manner of wares, drugs, fruits, &c. &c. exposed for sale both within and without. In every shop, opposite to the front door, is an idol, painted on paper—a fat, squat old man, a fiery flying dragon, a monstrous fish, or some horrible figure; before which is placed a petty altar—a little pot, containing fragrant gums, or sticks of sandal wood, which are kept continually burning. The ashes are carefully preserved, and accumulate in the vessel, till one or another of the family is going on a journey or a voyage, when a handful is taken out of the precious deposit, and thrown upon the road, or the water, to make the way safe, and the adventure prosperous. Mr. Medhurst conversed from door to door with many of these people, in their own language. They were exceedingly courteous, and offered us tea and tobacco from time to time. The tea is prepared in porcelain pots, holding about a pint each, and dealt out in very small cups, without any addition of sugar or cream. In one of these shops we found a famous quack-doctor, who tramps about town and country, hawking his nostrums. He attracts company by beating a drum which he carries with him, made of a bamboo, five feet in length, which he strikes alternately with a fan and with his fist; producing no very warlike sounds. Attached to this dull drum is a large flag, which he flings over his shoulder, and displays at his back, having penciled upon it, in Chinese characters, the marvellous cures which his various lotions and pills have performed. This fellow is called a fool; he may be one, but there are fools enough beside to be delighted with his drollery, and taken with his pretensions, so that he lives well and thrives on his physic, whatever his patients may do.
We next visited a Chinese temple, where idol-worship is occasionally performed. It stands within an inclosure of high brick walls, and consists of various compartments, quite open to the air on one side. Before these are placed tables for altars, behind which are various groups of images, of many sizes, shapes, and colors; some gilt, others plain; many adorned with fantastic trappings of tinsel, &c.; while sweet odors and sandal-wood are kept burning in their presence. Transparent lanterns are also suspended at suitable places. We were allowed to walk through the sanctuaries, and even handle the idols as we pleased, though several of the attend
ants were at work in the court-yard. While conversing with a priest, he said to us, “Don’t you think I am a very good man?” “Why should we think so * was our reply. “Because,” said he, “I am so very tall.”
Chinese men are seen every where carrying on their shoulders a kind of apparatus, which serves many useful purposes. At the end of a bamboo a square cage-like frame, about eighteen inches each way, is suspended, in which is kept a pot for cooking their food, or boiling water in it to make tea. At the other end of the bamboo there is a similar cage, containing provisions, or articles which they have to sell. These they place in the street, under the shadow of a tree, and are at once at home wherever they happen to rest—tent, kitchen, and shop, being thus over their head, and on either hand. There are said to be fifty thousand of these people here, who are distinguished, not only by the peculiar cast of their countenances, but by long plaited tails dangling from the back of their heads.
The Malays are nearly as numerous as the Chinese. They are, however, very differently occupied, being employed by the Dutch and English inhabitants in all kinds of drudgery. Many are porters, others domestic servants, and some of them artizans, jobbing in carpenters' and blacksmiths' work, &c. Their wages are very low, and they are altogether a servile race. In features and form they much resemble the South Sea Islanders, who are probably descended from the remote ancestors of these degraded beings.
July 19. We have been much gratified to find here an hospital, erected expressly for the benefit of the Chinese and Malays. It is a noble building, and of considerable extent. On one side are apartments for lunatics, containing forty-three cells, but not yet completed. We saw many of the sick and diseased patients, of whom no small proportion were afflicted with leprosy in all its loathsome forms, maiming, mutilating, devouring alive, its miserable victims. The accommodations appeared exceedingly comfortable, and the medical attendants are the best that can be procured. It is a beautiful and affecting circumstance, that this blessed institution should be supported by an “orphan fund,” from the unclaimed property of persons dying without will, and without heirs. Yet what a train of melancholy thoughts are awakened by a few mo: ments' reflection on such a subject in this world of wo and death !