The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido - For the Suppression of Piracy
by Henry Keppel
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from their own account, since the capture of their rajah, and the subjugation of their country, have led a wandering, piratical life; they represent their force at about twenty-five boats, of which three are now joined by the Illanuns, as a matter of mere convenience. Beyond the usual formalities, this meeting had nothing to distinguish it; one party retired to their boats, while the other went to their respective houses, and every thing betokened quiet. In the evening I pulled through the fleet, and inspected several of the largest prahus. The entire force consisted of eighteen boats, viz., three Malukus and fifteen Illanuns; the smallest of these boats carried thirty men, the largest (they are mostly large) upward of a hundred; so that, at a moderate computation, the number of fighting men might be reckoned at from five to six hundred. The Illanum expedition had been absent from Magindano upward of three years, during which time they had cruised among the Moluccas and islands to the eastward, had haunted Boni Bay and Celebes, and beat up the Straits of Makassar. Many of their boats, however, being worn out, they had fitted out Bugis prize prahus, and were now on their return home. They had recently attacked one of the Tambelan islands, and had been repulsed; and report said they intended a descent upon Sirhassan, one of the Southern Natunas group. These large prahus are too heavy to pull well, though they carry thirty, forty, and even fifty oars: their armament is one or two six-pounders in the bow, one four-pounder stern-chaser, and a number of swivels, besides musketry, spears, and swords. The boat is divided into three sections, and fortified with strong planks, one behind the bow, one amidships, and one astern, to protect the steersman. The women and children are crammed down below, where the unhappy prisoners are likewise stowed away during an action. Their principal plan is boarding a vessel, if possible, and carrying her by numbers; and certainly if a merchantman fired ill, she would inevitably be taken; but with grape and canister fairly directed, the slaughter would be so great that they would be glad to sheer off before they neared a vessel. This is, of course, supposing a calm, for in a breeze they would never have the hardihood to venture far from land with a ship in sight, and would be sorry to be caught at a distance. Their internal constitution is as follows: one chief, a man usually of rank, commands the whole fleet; each boat has her captain, and generally from five to ten of his relations, free men: the rest, amounting to above four fifths, are slaves, more or less forced to pursue this course of life. They have, however, the right of plunder, which is indiscriminate with certain exceptions; viz., slaves, guns, money, or any other heavy articles, together with the very finest description of silks and cloths, belonging to the chiefs and free men; and the rest obey the rule of 'First come, first served.' No doubt the slaves become attached to this predatory course of life; but it must always be remembered that they are slaves and have no option; and it appears to me that, in the operation of our laws, some distinction ought to be drawn on this account, to suit the circumstances of the case. The Datus, or chiefs, are incorrigible; for they are pirates by descent, robbers from pride as well as taste, and they look upon the occupation as the most honorable hereditary pursuit. They are indifferent to blood, fond of plunder, but fondest of slaves: they despise trade, though its profits be greater; and, as I have said, they look upon this as their 'calling,' and the noblest occupation of chiefs and free men. Their swords they show with boasts, as having belonged to their ancestors who were pirates, renowned and terrible in their day; and they always speak of their ancestral heir-loom as decayed from its pristine vigor, but still deem the wielding of it as the highest of earthly existences. That it is in reality the most accursed, there can be no doubt, for its chief support is slaves they capture on the different coasts. If they attack an island, the women and children, and as many of the young men as they require, are carried off. Every boat they take furnishes its quota of slaves; and when they have a full cargo, they quit that coast or country and visit another, in order to dispose of their human spoil to the best advantage. Thus a cargo of slaves, captured on the east coast of Borneo, is sold on the west; and the slaves of the south find ready purchasers to the northward, and vice versa. As the woolly-haired Papuas are generally prized by the natives, constant visits are made to New Guinea and the easternmost islands, where they are procured, and afterward sold at high prices among any Malay community. The great nests of piracy are Magindano, Sooloo, and the northern part of Borneo; and the devastation and misery they inflict on the rest of the Archipelago are well known; yet are no measures adopted for their suppression, as every European community, be it English, Dutch, or Spanish, seems quite satisfied to clear the vicinity of its own ports, and never considers the damage to the native trade which takes place at a distance. To be attacked with success, they must be attacked on their own coasts with two or three steamers. A little money would gain every intelligence as to where they were preparing; and while the steamers were so worthily engaged in suppressing piracy, they might at the same time be acquiring information respecting countries little known, and adding to our stock of geography and science. A few severe examples and constant harassing would soon cure this hereditary and personal mania for a rover's life; and while we conferred the greatest blessings on the rest of the Archipelago, Magindano itself would be improved by the change.

"The Illanun Datus and the Gillolo chiefs visited the schooner constantly, and were always considerate enough to bring but few followers. We conversed much upon piracy in general, their mode of life, their successes, and their privations. They seemed to have but few fears of the Dutch or English men-of-war being able to take them, and during their three years' cruise had never been chased by any of them.

"After being three or four days in company with these worthies, i. e., the fleet of Illanuns and Malukus, the Royalist dropped down the river to Santobong, while Williamson and myself stayed yet a few days with Muda Hassim in his house. We had a week's incessant torrent of rain. Nothing could exceed the kindness of the rajah during our stay, with his brothers, of all ages, as our constant companions. We had one day a dance of the Illanuns and Gillolos: they might both be called war-dances, but are very different. The performer with the Illanuns is decked out with a fine helmet (probably borrowed from our early voyagers), ornamented with bird-of-paradise feathers. Two gold belts, crossed, like our soldiers', over the breast, are bound at the waist with a fantastical garment reaching half way down the thigh, and composed of various-colored silk and woolen threads one above another. The sword, or 'kempilan,' is decorated at the handle with a yard or two of red cloth, and the long upright shield is covered with small rings, which clash as the performer goes through his evolutions. The dance itself consists of a variety of violent warlike gestures, stamping, striking, advancing, retreating, turning, falling, yelling, with here and there bold stops, and excellent as to aplomb, which might have elicited the applause of the opera-house; but, generally speaking, the performance was outrageously fierce, and so far natural as approaching to an actual combat; and in half an hour the dancer, a fine young man, was so exhausted that he fell, fainting, into the arms of his comrades. Several others succeeded, but not equal to the first; and we had hardly a fair opportunity of judging of the Maluku dance from its short continuance; but it is of a more gentle nature, advancing with the spear stealthily, easting it, then retreating with the sword and shield. The Maluku shield, it should be observed, is remarkably narrow, and is brandished somewhat in the same way as the single stick-player uses his stick, or the Irishman his shillelah, that is to say, it is held nearly in the center, and whirled every way round. I procured some of the instruments, and found that the sword of the Malukus of Gillolo is similar to that of the Moskokas of Boni Bay, in Celebes. All these pirates are addicted to the excessive use of opium; but the effects of it are by no means so deleterious or so strongly marked as has been represented; and it must likewise be remembered that they are in other respects dissolute and debauched. Among the Chinese it would be difficult—nay, impossible—to detect the smokers of the drug. Here and there you may see an emaciated man; but, out of a body of five hundred, some are usually emaciated and unhealthy. I do not mean to deny the bad effects of opium; but the stories of its pernicious results are greatly exaggerated where the habit exists in moderation. The Chinese themselves, when I spoke to them of the bad consequences, always argued that, taken moderately, it was a stimulus to industry and activity; but they allowed, at the same time, that excess was highly injurious.

"The time at length came for my departure, but I was pressed to stay one day after another, for our society was a relief to the usual monotonous tenor of their lives. The papers were signed which made me Resident of Sarawak. I started to Santobong, and reached the vessel on the 13th of February; and after waiting two days, in the vain hope of a lull or change of wind, we beat out of the channel."

Mr. Brooke did not remain long at Singapore. His principal object was to procure a vessel to trade between that place and Sarawak. Trading, however, was not his forte; but he already felt the deepest interest in the welfare of those people. By accident—or, more properly, by Providence—he appears to have been sent to put a stop to an unnatural war, and to save the lives of the unfortunate rebels; and the benefit he had conferred on so many of his fellow-creatures, the good he had already done, and the infinity of good which he saw he still might do, made him anxious to return.

After some difficulty, he succeeded in purchasing a schooner of 90 tons, called the Swift, which I recollected in the Malacca Straits as the Zephyr, then a cruiser in the East India Company's service. Having put a suitable cargo into her, he sailed with his squadron (Royalist and Swift) for Sarawak early in April, 1841.

The rajah, already described as an indolent, weak-minded man, had promised Mr. Brooke the government of the country; but, among other obstacles with which he would have to contend in accepting it, I do not think my friend calculated on jealousy, low cunning, and treachery, or the dangerous enemy he had made in Pangeran Macota. He had been an eye-witness to his cowardice, and had more than once detected and exposed his cunning and trickery; sins not to be forgiven, especially by a Malay. Notwithstanding this, firmness, courage, and straightforward honesty gained the victory, as the sequel will show.

Among the characters with whom Mr. Brooke got acquainted during the rebel war was a young chief named Si Tundo, who was constantly by his side whenever there was danger. He was an Illanun, and had been sent from Sadung, with some thirteen of his countrymen, by Seriff Sahib, to offer his services to Macota, commander-in-chief of the rajah's forces; and I resume Mr. Brooke's memoranda, with the following interesting account of this poor fellow's fate: "On my arrival at Sarawak, we were received with the usual honors; and the first thing I heard of was the decease of my poor companion, Si Tundo of Magindano, who had been put to death by the rajah's orders. The course of justice, or, rather, injustice, or perhaps, more justly, a mixture of both, is so characteristic of the people, that I am tempted to give the particulars. Si Tundo fell in love with a woman belonging to an adopted son of Macota, and the passion being mutual, the lady eloped from her master and went to her lover's house. This being discovered in a short time, he was ordered to surrender her to Macota, which he reluctantly did, on an understanding that he was to be allowed to marry her on giving a proper dowry. Either not being able to procure the money, or the terms not being kept, Si Tundo and a relation (who had left the pirate fleet and resided with him) mounted to Macota's hill, and threatened to take the woman and to burn the house. The village, however, being roused, they were unable to effect their purpose, and retired to their own residence. Here they remained for some days in a state of incessant watchfulness; and when they moved, they each carried their kempilan, and wore the krisses ready to the hand. The Rajah Muda Hassim, being well aware of the state of things, sent, at this crisis, to order Si Tundo and his friend to his presence; which order they obeyed forthwith, and entered the balei, or audience-hall, which was full of their enemies. According to Muda Hassim's account, he was anxious to save Si Tundo's life, and offered him another wife; but, his affections being fixed on the girl of his own choice, he rejected the offer, only praying he might have the woman he loved. On entering the presence of the rajah, surrounded by foes, and dreading treachery (which most probably was intended), these unfortunate men added to their previous fault by one which, however slight in European estimation, is here of an aggravated nature—they entered the presence with their kempilans in their hands, and their sarongs clear of the kris-handle; and instead of seating themselves cross-legged, they only squatted on their hams, ready for self-defense. From that hour their doom was resolved on: the crime of disrespect was deemed worthy of death, though their previous crime of abduction and violence might have obtained pardon. It was no easy matter, however, among an abject and timid population, to find executioners of the sentence against two brave and warlike men, well armed and watchful, and who, it was well known, would sell their lives dearly; and the subsequent proceeding is, as already observed, curiously characteristic of the people, and the deep disguise they can assume to attain their purposes. It was intimated to Si Tundo that, if he could raise a certain sum of money, the woman should be made over to him; and to render this the more probable, the affair was taken out of Macota's hands, and placed at the decision of the Orang Kaya de Gadong, who was friendly to the offenders, but who received his private orders how to act. Four men were appointed to watch their opportunity, in order to seize the culprits. It is not to be imagined, however, that a native would trust or believe the friendly assurances held out to him; nor was it so in the case of Si Tundo and his companion; they attended at the Orang Kaya de Gadong's house frequently for weeks, with the same precautions, and it was found impossible to overpower them; but the deceit of their enemies was equal to the occasion, and delay brought no change of purpose. They were to die, and opportunity alone was wanting to carry the sentence into effect. Time passed over, suspicion was lulled; and as suspicion was lulled the professions to serve them became more frequent. Poor Si Tundo brought all his little property to make good the price required for the woman, and his friend added his share; but it was still far short of the required amount. Hopes, however, were still held out; the Orang Kaya advanced a small sum to assist, and other pretended friends, slowly and reluctantly, at his request, lent a little money. The negotiation was nearly complete; forty or fifty reals only were wanting, and the opposite party were ready to deliver the lady whenever the sum was made good. A final conference was appointed for the conclusion of the bargain at the Orang Kaya's, at which numbers were present; and the devoted victims, lulled into fatal security, had ceased to bring their formidable kempilans. At the last interview, the forty reals being still deficient, the Orang Kaya proposed receiving their gold-mounted krisses in pledge for the amount. The krisses were given up, and the bargain was complete, when the four executioners threw themselves on the unarmed men, and, assisted by others, overpowered and secured them. Si Tundo, wounded in the scuffle, and bound, surrounded by enemies flourishing their krisses, remarked, 'You have taken me by treachery; openly you could not have seized me.' He spoke no more. They triumphed over and insulted him, as though some great feat had been achieved, and every kris was plunged into his body, which was afterward cast, without burial, into the river. Si Tundo's relation was spared on pleading for mercy; and after his whole property, even to his clothes, was confiscated, he was allowed to retire to Sadung. Thus perished poor Si Tundo, a Magindano pirate, with many, if not all, the vices of the native character, but with boldness, courage, and constancy, which retrieved his faults, and raised him in the estimation of brave men. In person he was tall, elegantly made, with small and handsome features, and quiet and graceful manners; but toward the Malays, even of rank, there was in his bearing a suppressed contempt, which they often felt, but could not well resent. Alas! my gallant comrade, I mourn your death, and could have better spared a better man; for as long as you lived, I had one faithful follower of tried courage among the natives. Peace be with you in the world to come, and may the great God pardon your sins and judge you mercifully!

"The case of poor Si Tundo proves that the feeling of love is not quite dead among Asiatics, though its power is obscured by their education and habits of polygamy; and that friendship and relationship may induce a man here, as elsewhere, to risk his life and sacrifice his property without any prospect of personal advantage. An old Magindano man, a sort of foster-father of Si Tundo's, when he saw me for the first time, clasped my arm, and repeatedly exclaimed, 'Si Tundo is dead; they have killed him;' adding, 'had you been here, he would not have been killed.' I was touched by the old man's sorrow, and his expression of feeling."

Datu Jembrong was likewise an Illanum, and retired to Sadung when the rebel war had closed, and died after a few days' illness. Mr. Brooke writes: "Thus I have lost the two bravest men—men whom I would rather trust for fair dealing than any score of Borneons; for the Magindanos, though pirates by descent and education, are a far superior people to any in the Archipelago, with the exception of the Bugis. Whatever may be their vices, they are retrieved by courage to a certain degree; and where we find a manly character, we may presume that the meaner arts of finesse and treachery are less prevalent. Dampier and Forrest both give them an excellent character; and it is a pity that of late years little is known of them, and so little pains taken to hold a friendly intercourse either with them or the Sooloos."

The important changes which ensued on the return of Mr. Brooke to Sarawak, in the spring of 1841, now demand attention; and, as heretofore, I proceed to describe them from the data intrusted to my charge.

"In a former part of my journal," says Mr. Brooke, "I have mentioned briefly the occasions which led to my invitation, and the reasons which induced me to accept the offer of the Rajah Muda Hassim; but I will repeat these, in order to bring the narrative at once more distinctly before the memory. When I returned here for the second time, in August of last year, it was with the determination of remaining for a few days only on my way to the northward; and nothing but my feeling for the miserable situation of Muda Hassim induced me to alter my intention. The rebellion, which he had come from Borneo to quell, had defied every effort for nearly four years; and the attacks he had made on the rebels had failed entirely and almost disgracefully. His immediate followers were few in number, and aid from the neighboring countries was either denied, or withheld on trivial excuses; while the opposition of Pangeran Usop in Borneo paralyzed the efforts of his supporters in the capital, and, in case of non-success, threatened his own power. The pride, the petty pride of the Malay prince bent before these circumstances, and induced him to state his difficulties to me, and to request my assistance. His failure was strongly dwelt on, and his resolution to die here rather than abandon his undertaking—to die disgraced and deserted! Under these circumstances, could I, he urged upon me, forsake him? could I, 'a gentleman from England,' who had been his friend, and knew the goodness of his heart, could I leave him surrounded and begirt with enemies? It was possibly foolish, it was perhaps imprudent, but it accorded with my best feelings; and I resolved not to abandon him without at any rate seeing the probabilities of success; and it must always be remembered that, in doing so, I had no ulterior object, no prospect of any personal advantage. I joined his miserable army, which, in numbers, barely exceeded that of the rebels, strongly stockaded. I joined them at the outset of their campaign; and in a few days (ten days) witnessed such scenes of cowardice, treachery, intrigue, and lukewarmness among his followers, such a determination not to take advice or to pursue any active measures, that I left them and returned to my vessel. The Chinese I do not include in this representation; they were true and willing, but wretchedly armed, and very justly refused to be thrust forward into posts of danger, which the Malays in their own country would not share. On my return to the vessel, I frankly stated how useless my presence was among men who would not do any thing I desired, yet would do nothing for themselves; and, under the circumstances, I intimated my intention of sailing. Here, again, I was pressed with the same entreaties; every topic was exhausted to excite my compassion, every aid was at my disposal; and lastly, if I would stay, and we were successful, the country was offered to me. The only inquiry was, whether the rajah had the right and authority to make over the country to me, and this I was assured he had. The government, the revenue (with slight deductions for the sultan), and one of his brothers to reside here in order to insure the obedience of the Malays, were all comprehended in this cession, freely and without condition. I might, at this point of the negotiation, have insured the title to the government as far as a written agreement could give it; but for two sufficient reasons I declined all treaty upon the subject until the war was over. The first of these reasons was, that it would have been highly ungenerous to take advantage of a man's distress to tie him down to any agreement which, in other circumstances, he might not be willing to adopt; and by acting thus ungenerously, it would be tempting the rajah to deceive me when the treaty came to be ratified. The second reason was equally cogent; for a mere barren bond, which I had no means to enforce, was worse than useless, and no man would be nearer possession by merely holding a written promise. I may add, likewise, that I saw so many difficulties in the way of the undertaking, that I was by no means over-anxious to close with it; and, previously to accepting and entering on so bold a project, I was desirous thoroughly to be assured of the good faith of the promiser. To the Rajah Muda Hassim's proposal I, therefore, replied, that I could not accept it while the war was pending, as I considered it wrong to take any advantage of his present situation; and that, if he conferred authority on me in the camp, I would once more go up the river and assist him to the utmost of my power. It is needless to repeat any details of the war, except to say that I found every support from him, and the highest consideration, both in personal attentions and the bestowal of influence. He conquered, I may say without self-praise, through my means; and on the close of hostilities our negotiation about the country was revived. In its progress I stated to him that Malay governments were so bad, that the high were allowed so much license, and the poor so oppressed, that any attempt to govern without a change of these abuses was impossible; and as a foundation of my acceptance was the proposition, that all his exertions must be employed to establish the principle that one man was not to take any thing from another, and that all men were to enjoy the produce of their labor, save and except at such times as they were engaged in working for the revenue. That the amount of the revenue was to be fixed and certain for three years, at a stated quantity of rice per family; in lieu of which, should a man prefer it, he might pay in money or in labor: the relative price of rice to money or labor being previously fixed at as low a rate as possible. That the officers, viz., Patingi, Bandar, and Tumangong, were to receive stated salaries out of this revenue, in order to prevent any extortion, either by themselves or in their name; and that they were to be answerable for the whole revenue under my superintendence. That the Dyaks were to be treated the same as the Malays, their property protected, their taxes fixed, and their labor free. At the same time, I represented to him the difficulty of doing this, and that nothing but his power could effect it; as any foreigner, without his unlimited support and confidence, would have no chance of finding obedience from the numerous inferior Pangerans and their followers. This, with much more, was the theme of my conversation; to which was replied, imprimis, That their customs and religion must not be infringed. That with regard to the violence and rapacity of the higher classes, and the uncertainty of taxation, which led to so much oppression, they were by no means any part of the Ondong Ondong, i. e., the written law of Borneo, but gross abuses which had arisen out of lax government. That it was the wish of his heart to see these things mended; and that nothing should be wanting on his part to assist me in accomplishing objects so desirable, particularly with respect to the Dyaks, who were so grossly abused. On this, a written agreement was made out, merely to the purport that I was to reside at Sarawak in order to 'seek for profit;' and on my remarking that this paper expressed nothing, he said I must not think that it was the one understood between us, but merely for him to show to the sultan at Borneo in the first place. I accepted this version of the story, though it looked suspicious; and on my part, over and above our written agreement, which expressed nothing, I consented to buy a vessel, and bring down trade to the place, in return for which I was assured of antimony ore in plenty; and though I knew that profit was not to be expected, I was desirous to comply, as, without a vessel regularly trading here, it would be impossible to develop the resources of the country. While I went to Singapore, the rajah promised to build me a house, in which I was to take up my residence. I sailed accordingly, and returned within three months, having performed all my engagements; but on reaching Sarawak, the first disappointment I experienced was, that the house was not commenced. I urged them to begin it, and after the most provoking delays at length got it finished. I mention this because it was the only instance in which good faith was kept.

"August 3d.—The two schooners, Royalist and Swift, having arrived at Sarawak, I found myself with a heavy monthly expense, and was naturally anxious to dispatch them as speedily as possible. I was assured that 6000 peculs of antimony ore would be down immediately, and that whenever the people were set to work, any quantity might be procured without difficulty; which, indeed, I knew to be true, as Macotah had loaded a ship, a brig, and three native vessels in six weeks. The procrastination, therefore, was the more provoking; but as I had determined to arm myself with patience, and did not anticipate foul play, I was content to wait for a time. The Swift being leaky and requiring repairs, was another inducement to me to lie by and land her cargo, which, ever since my arrival, the rajah petitioned to have ashore, giving every pledge for a quick and good return. At length I consented to let him have the cargo into his own hands, on the assurance that the antimony ore" (i. e., the 6000 peculs which were ready?) "should be brought down directly. Nothing could be more correct than the way they received the cargo, taking an account of each separate article, comparing it with the invoice, and noting down the deficiency; and the rajah himself superintended this interesting process from morning till dark. At this time, having agreed with him for the whole, as the easiest and best mode of dealing under the circumstances, I did not much trouble myself about the deposit; and my attention was first roused by the extreme apathy of the whole party directly the cargo was in their possession—overhauled, reckoned, and disposed of among them."


Obstacles in the way of coming to a satisfactory conclusion with Muda Hassim.—The law of force and reprisal considered.—Capabilities of Sarawak.—Account of Sarebus and Sakarran pirates.—Excursion up the river.—Visit to the Singe Dyaks.—Description of Mr. Brooke's house at Sarawak.—Circumstances relating to the wreck off Borneo Proper.

During the succeeding pages of my friend's journal, one hardly knows which to admire most; his firmness, his cool courage, his determined perseverance, or his patience. On the other hand, it is difficult to decide whether the rajah's indolence and ingratitude, or Macota's low cunning and treachery are the more disgusting. But I continue the narrative, and readers will judge for themselves.

"Yet," says Mr. Brooke, "I had confidence, and was loth to allow any base suspicion to enter my mind against a man who had hitherto behaved well to me, and had not deceived me before. From the time the cargo had been disposed of, I found myself positively laid on the shelf. No return arrived; no steps were taken to work the antimony ore; no account appeared of the positive amount to be received: a promise was tendered; and all my propositions—nay, my very desire to speak of the state of the country—were evaded. I found myself clipped like Samson, while delay was heaped upon delay, excuse piled on excuse, and all covered with the utmost show of kindness and civility. It was provoking beyond sufferance; but with several strokes which I considered important, I bore it with saint-like patience. I remonstrated mildly but firmly on the waste of my money, and on the impossibility of any good to the country while the rajah conducted himself as he had done. I urged upon him to release the poor women whom he had kept confined for nearly five months; and I guarantied the peaceful disposition of the people if it were done. I might as well have whistled to the winds, or have talked reason to stones. I was overwhelmed with professions of affection and kindness, but nothing ensued. I had trusted—my eyes gradually opened—I feared I was betrayed and robbed, and had at length determined to be observant and watchful, when an event occurred which finished the delusion, and woke me fully to the treachery, or at any rate the weakness, at work against me. My house was finished, and I had just taken possession of it, when I understood that an overwhelming body of Dyaks, accompanied by Malays, were proceeding up the river, with the avowed purpose of attacking a hostile tribe, but with the real design of slaughtering all the weak tribes in their way. Upward of 100 boats, with certainly not fewer than 2500 men, had been at Sarawak a week, asking permission for this expedition; and I was informed there was not the slightest chance of its being granted, when to my surprise I saw the expedition start.

"On being convinced that they really were going up the country, I instantly quitted the house and returned on board the Royalist, sending to know whether the rajah had granted leave for their entrance into the interior. By him the whole blame of the transaction was thrown upon Macota and the Orang Kaya de Gadong; and he himself was said to be so ill that he could not be seen; but it was added, as I disliked the measure so greatly, the same parties who had sent the Dyaks up could recall them down, which indeed I had insisted on being done. They accordingly retrograded and left; after which I continued sulky on board and the rajah, shamming sick, sulked in his harem. That any man beside the rajah himself would have been bold enough to grant the permission, I knew, from experience, was impossible. I accepted his denial as the groundwork of a reconciliation. In the mean time, as he continued indisposed, I intimated my intention of proceeding to Borneo in three days, and dispatching the Swift at the same time to proceed to Singapore; part of her cargo, 750 peculs of antimony ore, having been at length put on board. On this being made known to the rajah, he forgot his sickness, and came out and proffered me a meeting to discuss affairs, which I postponed until the following day. In the mean time I took a candid view of my position, and considered the best means of extricating myself from my difficulties with as little trouble and inconvenience as possible to either party.

"I had lost much valuable time, spent much money, and risked my life and the lives of my crew, in order to render assistance to Rajah Muda Hassim in his distress; in return for which he had voluntarily offered me the country. The conditions of my acceptance had been discussed and mutually understood, and I had, in fulfillment of my part, brought vessel and cargo. Profit I did not much care about; the development of the country was my chief, I may say my only, aim; and on my arrival I had been delayed and cheated by false promises, which showed too plainly that he neither meant to adhere to his former agreement, nor to pay for what he had on false pretences obtained. It may appear to many that no measures ought to be kept with one who had so behaved; but for the following reasons I resolved still to wait his pleasure. In the first place, it was barely possible that indolence, and not treachery, might have actuated him; and in the next place, if it was possible to arrange so as to get back the amount of the Swift's cargo, I was in duty and justice bound to use every endeavor before resorting to measures of force. As for the cession of the country, and all the good which must have resulted from it, I put these considerations altogether out of the question. I had been deceived and betrayed, and had met with the grossest ingratitude; but I had no claim, nor would any written agreement have given me one; and I was therefore constrained to submit without returning evil for evil. Every point weighed, I felt, from every motive, inclined, nay desirous, to avoid a rupture, or taking an equivalent for my property by force. The Swift, with the part of her cargo received on board, after three months' detention, and no more even talked of, I therefore resolved, as already stated, to dispatch to Singapore. My first intention on arriving here had been to send the Royalist back to that port and dispose of her; but a native rumor being afloat that the crew of a shipwrecked vessel were in Borneo Proper, I deemed it incumbent on me to visit that place and effect their release. I had used every means in my power since my arrival to induce the Rajah Muda Hassim to send one or two of his Pangerans and a letter from himself to the sultan by the Royalist, in order to insure that object; but although, day by day, I had received promises, they were never performed. Seeing now that this duty of humanity could no longer be delayed with propriety, I resolved to dispatch the Royalist to Borneo, and myself to remain here, to endeavor, if I could, to obtain my own. Each vessel was to return as quickly as possible from her place of destination; and I then resolved to give two additional months to the rajah, and to urge him in every way in my power to do what he was bound to do as an act of common honesty. Should these means fail, after making the strongest representations and giving amplest time, I considered myself free to extort by force what I could not gain by fair means.

"Having determined on these steps, I met the rajah by appointment, and repeated all my grievances, and set strongly before him the injury done in consequence; and lastly, plainly told him that I only came and now only stayed in his country at his request, but that the property he had taken must be repaid, and subsequently to that, if he had any proposition to make, I would endeavor to meet his wishes. To all this I received no one satisfactory answer, and, from the shuffling on every complaint, I formed the worst opinion of his intentions.

"My determination, however, having been previously made, the result of this conversation had no effect upon me; and at the end of three days, the time I had limited, no letter for the sultan being forthcoming, on the fourth morning the two schooners proceeded to sea, one for Borneo, the other for Singapore, while, with three companions, I remained in my new house. [12]

"I wish now to discuss a question which has often occupied my mind, and upon which I have been very desirous to arrive at a right conclusion. It is certain that a British subject cannot wrongfully attack or injure any prince or person in his own country without rendering himself liable to be punished by the laws of England. It is both right and just that it should be so, because in demi-civilized or savage countries the natives are often unable to protect themselves, and an attack upon them savors of piracy. On the other hand, if the native prince be the party to blame; if he fraudulently possess himself of property under false pretences, make promises which he breaks, and enter into agreements before witnesses which he never intends to fulfill; then, I ask, is a British subject to submit to the loss, when the party defrauding him is able to pay and will not? I answer decidedly, he is not bound to submit to be cheated, and, if he have the means, he has the right to enforce repayment. It may be urged that trust ought not to be reposed; but trust is the ordinary course of trade, and cannot alter the question. Again, it may be said, Apply to the government; but it is well known and acknowledged that the government will not interfere in any case of the sort. Seek redress by law! there is no law to meet the contingency. Bear the loss, i. e. be betrayed, deceived, and cheated, and submit! It cannot be; for although the law may properly inquire into the circumstances, yet as it will not protect me here, or give me any redress for fraud or murder, it cannot punish, if right be on my side. Am I quite sure that the right is on my side? It is, as far as I can judge; and having candidly stated every fact and circumstance, I am convinced there can be but one opinion on the subject. I am sure that if I seize property to the amount of that taken from me, I act justly, though perhaps not legally; yet I firmly believe legally likewise, although law and justice do not necessarily go always hand in hand. On the whole, there was the old sore rankling—the false promises, the gross deceit, the base ingratitude to a man who had done everything to relieve this equivocating rajah from disgrace, defeat, and perhaps death. But here I close this account for the present, to be resumed on the return of the Royalist from Borneo.

"August 4th.—Both retrospectively and prospectively the grounds for all these transactions were ever pressing on my mind and guiding my actions. The capabilities of the Sarawak country were very great. It could abundantly supply the richest produce of the vegetable kingdom; it abounded in mineral wealth, and especially in a vast staple commodity of antimony ore; with a considerable population of Dyaks, whose condition was decidedly improvable; a Malay population, by no means large, which was advantageous; and a Chinese population ready to immigrate with even a moderate prospect of protection. Beside these inducements, must be added its propinquity to the Pontiana river, and the trade which by that route might flow even from the center of this little-known island. To crown all, there were the credit to myself in case of success, the amelioration of the native condition, however partial, and the benefit to commerce in general. These were the reasons that induced me to enter on this arduous task; and to these I may add a supplementary one, viz., that when I had struggled for a time, I might rouse the zeal of others, and find efficient support either from government or the mercantile body.

"I have in a former part of my journal mentioned the Illanun pirates, and my meeting with them here. On our return we heard of their being still on the coast, and from that time to this they have been ravaging and plundering between Tanjong Datu, Sirhassan, and Pontiana. Malays and Chinese have been carried off in great numbers; Borneo and Sambas prahus captured without end; and so much havoc committed, that the whole coast, as far as the natives are concerned, may be pronounced in a state of blockade.

"Beside the Illanuns, there are two other descriptions of pirates infesting these seas: one, the Dyaks of Sakarran and Sarebus, two predatory tribes already mentioned; the other called Balagnini, a wild people represented to come from the northward of Sooloo. I have not seen them; but their boats are said to be very long and swift, with sometimes outriggers; and one particular in their mode of attack is too curious to omit. In closing on their victims they use long poles, having a hook made fast at the extremity, with which, being expert, they hook their opponents at a distance and drag them overboard, while others are fighting with saligis and spears.

"I have before mentioned the arrival of one hundred Dyak boats at Sarawak, to request permission from the rajah to ascend the river and attack a tribe toward Sambas. What a tale of misgovernment, tyranny, and weakness, does this request tell! These Dyaks were chiefly from Sakarran, mixed with the Sarebus, and with them three boats of the Malo tribe, whose residence is toward the Pontiana river. The Sakarrans are the most powerful, the most predatory, and the most independent tribe on the N.W. coast, their dependence on Borneo being merely nominal. The latter are likewise predatory and numerous, but they are on good terms with all the coast tribes and with the Malays, while the Sarebus are against all, and all are against them. Speaking generally, they are a remarkably fine body of people, handsome, intelligent, powerful, well-made, beautifully-limbed, and clear-skinned. They are somewhat fairer than the Malays and the mountain Dyaks; but in manners, customs, and language, exactly resemble the Sibnowans, except that the last, from misfortune, have become a peaceful tribe. The Sarebus and Sakarrans are only distinguishable by the numerous rings they wear in their ears. On one man I counted fourteen of brass, various sizes, in one ear only. They are rather fond of ornament, and wear grotesque caps of various-colored cloths (particularly red), some of them square, others peaked, and others like a cocked hat worn athwart-ships, and terminating in sharp points on the top of the head. These head-dresses are ornamented with tufts of red hair or black human hair, shreds of cloth, and sometimes feathers; but what renders them laughable to look at is, that the hair is cut close to match the shape of the cap; so that when a man displaces it, you find him bare of hair about the forehead and posterior part of the skull, that over the ears cut into points, and the rest of the skull showing a good crop of black bristles.

"The commanders of this party were yclept poetically by their own people, as noms de guerre, the Sun and the Moon, i. e., Bulan, for moon, and Matari for sun. The Sun was as fine a young man as the eye would wish to rest upon; straight, elegantly yet strongly made, with a chest and neck, and head set on them, which might serve Apollo; legs far better than his of Belvidere; and a countenance mild and intelligent. I became very good friends with both Sun and Moon, and gave them a great deal of good advice about piracy, which, of course, was thrown away.

"Their boats are built very long, raised at the stern, and the largest pulling as many as sixty paddles; but I should not think them fast, and any boat with a swivel might cut them up. The least average I could give the hundred boats is twenty-five men per boat, making, as already observed, 2500 in all. We counted ninety, and there were others down the reach we could not see; and they themselves stated their force to be 140 boats and 4000 men. The manners of these Dyaks toward us were reserved, quiet, and independent. They stole nothing, and in trading for small quantities of rice, bees-wax, cotton, and their cloths, showed a full knowledge of the relative value of the articles, or rather they priced their own at far above their proper worth. I may indeed say of all the Dyaks I have seen, that they are anxious to receive, but very loth to give; and when they have obtained cloth, salt, copper, beads, &c. to the amount of two or three dollars as a present, will bring in a bunch of plantains or a little rice, and ask you to buy. The Sibnowans are the chief exceptions to this, and they are my pet tribe. The language of Sakarran and Sarebus is the same as the Sibnowan; and with all the word God, the Allah Talla of the Malays, is expressed by Battara, from which we may infer that their notion of the Deity, as probably was all the religion of these regions, was derived from the Hindoos.

"When this force of Dyaks was, contrary to the assurance given to me, sweeping up the river, I had just finished a late dinner. I was angry enough, and resolved instanter to leave the house, when who should come in, as if by pure accident, but Pangeran Budrudeen, the rajah's brother. I controlled myself, spoke strongly withal but civilly, and sent him away wishing he had not come near me; and the boat being ready, I retired from the house to the Royalist. Their immediate recall was the consequence; for the rajah having denied his permission, those who fathered the act dared not persist in it when I told them it was an act of disobedience. They tried to frighten me with the idea that the Dyaks would attack us; but as I felt sure we could blow them away in ten minutes, it had not the desired effect. They had in the mean time reached Leda Tanah, whence they were brought down again sulky enough, and did show a slight inclination to see whether the people on board the Swift were keeping watch; for several of their boats dropped close to her, and one directly under the bowsprit, as silently as death; but on being challenged, and a musket leveled near them, they sheered off, and the next day finally departed. The poor Dyaks in the interior, as well as the Chinese, were in the greatest state of alarm, and thence I gained some credit among them for my interference on their behalf. The very idea of letting 2500 wild devils loose in the interior of the country is horrible; for though they have one professed object, they combine many others with it, and being enemies of all the mountain tribes, they cut them up as much as they can. What object, it may be inquired, can the Malays have in destroying their own country and people so wantonly? I must endeavor to explain, to the best of my belief and knowledge. The Malays take part in these excursions, and thirty men joined the Sakarrans on the present occasion, and consequently they share in the plunder, and share largely. Probably Muda Hassim would have got twenty shares (women and children); and these twenty being reckoned at the low rate of twenty reals each, makes four hundred reals, beside other plunder, amounting to one or two hundred reals more. Inferior Pangerans would of course partake likewise. Muda Hassim must have given his consent, must have been a participator in this atrocity, nobody being desperate enough to do such a thing without his orders. In fact, they dare not move up the river themselves without leave, much less send up the Dyaks. It is a hateful feature in this government, newly developed since the close of the war.

"August 5th.—One excursion I made up the river over our old ground, staying a week, visiting various places. Where the village of Siniawan once stood is now a small Chinese settlement, and their garden bespeaks the fertility of the soil. From Siniawan I walked over to Tundong, now the principal Chinese station. The scenery was beautiful all the way from Siniawan to Tundong—gently undulating ground rising into respectable hills, and backed by noble mountains, and valleys so quiet and still, and looking so fertile, that I sighed to think man's cultivating hand was not here. We paused, and rested at a farm of the Paninjow. Their mode of cultivation is the same as described by Marsden—cutting, clearing, planting, and abandoning after one or two crops. They seem likewise to prefer the upland to the wet ground. Tundong is quite a new settlement, situated close on the banks of the river, which is here quite narrow and shallow. The distance may be ten miles by water, as it took our boat four hours and a half to pull against stream. We spent the same time walking, but diverged from the road. Wherever the Chinese are, the sound of the axe and the saw is to be heard in the woods as you approach, and all are industriously employed. They have their carpenters, sawyers, blacksmiths, and housebuilders, while the mass work the antimony ore, or are busy constructing the trench where they find and wash the gold. With such inhabitants a country must get on well, if they are allowed fair play. I was quite tired, and stayed all night at Tundong. On the following morning I started for the Singe mountain, which is the residence of the Dyak tribe of the same name. The walk, including a rest, occupied nearly three hours, the latter part uphill, and we reached the village a good deal knocked up from the heat of the sun and the badness of the way. Our entertainment was not of the best; yet the Singe were not inhospitable, but suspicious that we came to rob them. The rice and the fowls we required, although we paid for them at double their value, were reluctantly produced; while at the same time they showed themselves anxious enough to obtain the salt we had brought to exchange, without giving the equivalent.

"The village is built on the shoulder of a mountain, not half way up, and only accessible by a ladder-like path on either side. It consists of about 200 miserable huts, and is as dirty and filthy as any place I ever was in, with numerous half-starved pigs and dogs running about it. The houses are small and mean, and detached from each other, contrary to the usage of the other Dyaks, who inhabit one large house containing numerous partitions for families; here, however, they have one or two public halls or council-houses, which are built and thatched in a circular form, and in which their young men and bachelors sleep; here likewise are deposited the heads, of which they have more than enow, as above one hundred ghastly remnants of mortality ornamented the abode in which we slept. I could not on this occasion find out that they professed to take the heads of friends or strangers, though the latter may fall victims if on enemies' ground. They seem to have no idea of cannibalism or human sacrifice, nor did they accuse their enemies of these practices. They have a custom, that in case of sickness in a house, or child-bearing, the house is forbidden to the males and strangers, which is something similar to the tabboo of the South-Sea Islands. This plea was urged as a reason why the head man or Orang Kaya Parembam could not receive us in his dwelling. The Dyaks are always decorous in their behavior, rarely give way to mirth, and never annoy by their curiosity. Toward the Malays they are extremely sulky and mulish; but they have good reasons, as the Malays are ever extorting from them, and threatening them with the anger of the rajah or the incursion of the Sakarrans. The women wear black bamboo stays, which are sewn on when they arrive at the age of puberty, and never removed save when enceinte. These Singe Dyaks, like the others, attend to the warning of birds of various sorts, some birds being in more repute than others. On starting for a hunting excursion we met one of them on the hill-side, who said, 'You will be fortunate: I heard the bird behind you.' Here, if a bird is before you, it is a sign that enemies are there too, and they turn back: if behind, they proceed in good spirits. They have a prejudice against the flesh of deer, which the men may not eat, but which is allowed to women and children. The reason given for this is, that if the warriors eat the flesh of deer, they become as faint-hearted as that animal. These may be called their superstitions, but religion they have none; and though they know a name for God, and entertain some faint notion of a future state, yet it is only in the abstract, for practically the belief seems to be a dead letter. At their marriage they kill fowls, as I have narrated; but this is a ceremony, not a sacrifice. They have no priests or idols, say no prayers, make no offerings to propitiate the Deity, and it is little likely therefore that human sacrifice should exist among them. In this respect they are different from any known people who have arrived at the same state of civilization. The New Zealanders, the inhabitants of the South Seas, &c. &c., for instance, all bow to their idols, toward which the same feelings of reverence and devotion, of awe and fear, obtain as with more civilized beings in regard to the invisible Deity; but here are the mere words, barren and without practice.

"The day following our arrival at Singe we descended into the plains, amid their former rice-fields, to shoot deer. The place is called Pasar (bazaar or market), though it could scarcely ever have been one. The rice-cultivation was formerly very extensive, and the low ground all about the mountain is well cleared of wood by the industry of these Dyaks. But the country becoming unsettled and troubled, and roving parties of strange Dyaks landing on the coast near Onetong, cut off the people employed in the fields, and they consequently were abandoned. We took up our quarters in a ruinous little deserted hovel, and in the evening walked over the neighboring district, where the cocoanut and betel-trees mark its former state of prosperity. The sago is likewise planted in considerable quantity, and serves for food, when rice falls short. Deer, the large deer of Borneo, abound, and in a walk of a few miles we saw from fifteen to twenty, and from their tracks they must be very numerous indeed. The walking was difficult, for owing to the softness of the ground, we often sank in up to our thighs, and generally to our knees: and a short distance in this sort of wading in stiff mud serves to knock a man up. I was fortunate enough to kill one of the deer, and have no doubt that with more favorable light a man might get many. The night's repose in the hut was broken and uncomfortable, and our people were busy for several hours curing the flesh of the animal, which is done as follows: first it is slightly salted, and then burnt over a quick wood-fire in slices or lumps, and thus keeps for many days, and is very palatable. Seriff Hussein (formerly of Siniawan) was my companion on this excursion. He had three followers, while I had three Javanese with me, beside my Bugis boy Situ, who walks with the best of us. The morning after killing the deer we ascended the Singe again by a desperately steep path; and after resting an hour or two, walked to our boats, and descended the stream to Siniawan. The night was marked by torrents of rain, thunder, and lightning, which left the roads so bad that I resigned my intention of walking up to Sarambo, and in the evening dropped down to Leda Tanah, and tried unsuccessfully for another deer. We saw some, but could not get near them. Here likewise are plenty of rice-fields deserted, but which a little labor would bring again into cultivation. The day following we rejoined the schooner, and, as usual, found everything at a stand-still on shore.

"I may here mention our house, or, as I fondly styled it, our palace. It is an edifice fifty-four feet square, mounted upon numerous posts of the Nibong palm, with nine windows in each front. The roof (atap) is of Nipah leaves, and the floor and partitions are all of plank: furnished with couches, tables, chairs, books, &c. the whole is as comfortable as man would wish for in this out-of-the-way country; and we have, beside, a bathing-house, cook-house, and servants' apartments detached. The view from the house to the eastward comprises a reach of the river, and to the westward looks toward the blue mountains of Matang; the north fronts the river, and the south the jungle; and but for the uncertainty of our affairs, I would have had a garden ere this, and found amusement in clearing and improving. Farewell, I fear, to these aspirations; our abode, however, though spacious, cool, and comfortable, can only be considered a temporary residence, for the best of all reasons—that in the course of a year it will tumble down, from the weight of the superstructure being placed on weak posts. The original plan was to have had a lower story, but about this I am now indifferent. The time here passes monotonously, but not unpleasantly. Had we but the animation of hope, and the stimulus of improvement, time would pass rapidly, though without a companion to converse with.

"August 6th.—The Royalist, as I mentioned before I reverted to the subject of the pirate fleet, started for Borneo Proper, to inquire respecting the crew of an English vessel, reported to have been shipwrecked. Pangeran Sulieman brought the intelligence from Borneo, but he knew very few particulars; and having been here four months before my arrival, the chances were that with the change of the monsoon they had sailed for Manilla. As, however, he assured me he had seen European men and women, and a numerous Lascar crew, I thought it right, at all events, to ascertain the fact; and in case of their being there still, to endeavor to obtain their release. For this purpose I was very desirous of procuring a letter from Muda Hassim to the sultan, conveyed by a Pangeran of rank; which, in addition to my own application, would most likely insure the object in view. This, however, though promised, I could not accomplish; delay coming upon delay, and the plague of my own affairs also intervening, postponed my intention till I could see the Swift fairly off for Singapore. The Royalist then went out with her on the Sunday, July 25th, proceeding to Borneo to demand the crew, if there: and the other to Singapore. On the 2d of August I was surprised by the receipt of a letter brought from Sadong, and bearing date the 10th of July. The gentleman who writes it can best tell his own story.

'Island Sirhassan, off Tan Datu, 'July 10th, 1841.

'A boat leaves this to-morrow for Sarawak; perhaps this may fall into the hands of Mr. Brooke, or some of my countrymen, which, should I not succeed in getting to Singapore, I trust will lose no time in letting the authorities know, so that steps may be taken for the release of the remaining thirty-six British subjects now at Borneo; which I fear nothing but one of H. M. ships will effect. The pirates are cruising in great force between Sambas and this, and have taken thirteen Borneo prahus, or more; they know that there are Europeans in the prahu, and have expressed a wish to take them. Our situation is not very enviable. The bearer of this has just escaped from them. I have been living ashore with Abduramon, a native of Pulo Pinang, who knows Mr. Brooke, and has been very kind to me. Trusting penmanship and paper will be excused,

'I remain, &c. &c. 'G. H. W. Gill.'

"On the reverse was the following attestation, which threw more light on the circumstances:—

'I, G. H. Willoughby Gill, late chief officer of the ship Sultana, of Bombay, do hereby certify that the said ship was totally destroyed by lightning, thirty miles N. E. of the Bombay shoal, coast of Palawan, on the 4th of January, 1841. Part of the crew, forty-one in number, succeeded in reaching Borneo on the 16th of January, in a state of starvation and misery not to be described; the remainder are reported to have landed on the coast of Borneo per long-boat:—Captain John Page; G. H. W. Gill, chief officer; Alexander Young, second officer; one gunner; five sea-cunnies; two carpenters; twenty-three natives and Lascars; two Nakodas. Passengers:—Mrs. Page (of a daughter, 31st of March); Mr. and Miss de Souza; Mrs. Anderson, servant; one Ayah; in all forty-two souls. The sultan has permitted myself, Mr. and Miss de Souza, with three servants, to proceed to Singapore in one of his prahus, where I hope to succeed in procuring the release of the remainder of my companions from their present very uncomfortable situation. I dare not say more. Mr. de Souza and myself left on the 24th of May, and put in here dismasted on the 20th of June; since then have been detained by a fleet of piratical prahus, which arrived on the 24th, and left 9th of July. Should nothing prevent, we expect to be ready by the 15th; but am very doubtful of ever getting to Singapore, as I fear they are on the look-out for us outside.'

"This is the contents of the paper, which arriving after I had retired to rest, effectually banished sleep from my pillow. The 'uncomfortable situation,' coupled with 'I dare say no more,' gives the worst suspicions of their treatment in Borneo; while the chance of the party at Sirhassan falling into the hands of the pirates is extremely shocking. I instantly, on the receipt of the letter, sent to the rajah to request that he would dispatch a boat for Sirhassan, with a person competent to treat with the pirates; and on the morning of the 3d I succeeded in dispatching a boat to Songi, in the Sadong, to get some of the Datu Pangeran's people, who are Illanuns; but up to this time they have not returned. I can only hope these poor people at Sirhassan will be wise enough to stay there, instead of risking a capture by the pirates. Should the Royalist return shortly, and have obtained the crew, we may fight our way to that place and release the party, who, I have little doubt, are still detained there. If the Royalist is long away, and the captain goes in search of the missing boat's crew, we may yet have the Illanuns from Sadong here in time to dispatch. As for myself, I am tied, and have not the means at present of locomotion; my situation is an anxious one. The Swift must have been liable to fall in with this great force of pirates on her way to Singapore, and will be again liable on her return. The doubt and uncertainty about the poor fellows in Borneo and Sirhassan, and the wretched condition of my own affairs, all cause unpleasant reflections to my mind; yet I yield not, but will fight it out.

"I have just brought up my history to the present time; and, like a log on the water, must wait for events to develop themselves.

"7th.—A report arrived this morning that the Sirhassan party sailed for Singapore on the 3d of the moon; and as Mr. Gill says they would be ready for sea about the 15th of last month, I consider it likely to be true. I trust they may escape the pirates, and safely reach their destination."


Return of the Royalist from Borneo Proper with intelligence of the sufferers from the wreck of the Sultana.—Effect of the arrival of the Diana on the negotiations for their release.—Outrage and oppression of Macota.—Fate of the Sultana and her crew.—Mr. Brooke made Rajah of Sarawak.—Liberation of rebel prisoners.—State of Dyak tribes.—Court of justice opened.—Dyak burials, and respect for the dead.—Malay cunning and treachery.

While waiting events, Mr. Brooke amused himself by writing down such accounts of the interior as he was enabled to collect, from time to time, from the natives visiting Sarawak, as well as a brief description of the constitution and government, as enacted in Borneo Proper. But as my object now is to trace the progress of my friend up to the time when he embarked on board the Dido, I shall refer to these matters hereafter.

"Tuesday, August 17th, 1841.—Three weeks the Royalist has now been absent, and I begin, in spite of my determination to the contrary, to be somewhat uneasy about her. Suspense is certainly more difficult to bear than misfortune, for the certainty of an event arouses within us some of our best feelings to resist it; but suspense lets loose our imagination, and gives rise to that sickening feeling of 'hope deferred,' so truly characterized in the Scriptures.

"18th.—The Royalist arrived near Sarawak, having come into the river on the 16th, and in one tide from the Morotaba entrance as far as the Paduman [13] rocks. They reported that they had not effected the release of the prisoners, were very rudely treated, the boat detained at a fort near the entrance of the Borneo river, all communication denied with the Europeans, a letter for them seized from the native crew, and provisions and water refused. In addition to this, a letter from the sultan, addressed to me, stated to the effect, that the crew of the Sultana having entered into a treaty with him, the merchant and mate (Messrs. de Souza and Gill) had gone to Singapore to fulfill that agreement. The captain having a wife in the family way, preferred staying in Borneo, as the vessel was a small one, and therefore the sultan did not grant my request on this occasion; and further, having an agreement, he did not wish to be deceived regarding it. This was a falsehood from beginning to end, as will be clear by comparing it with Mr. Gill's statement, though I fear the poor men have been rash enough to enter into some arrangement to ransom themselves."

On the 19th of August the Swift arrived; but the journal was laid by until the 24th of October, when it thus recommences:

"I may now continue my narrative of events which have happened since I last used my pen, together with fresh details of my present intentions, and such additional knowledge as has been acquired. After the arrival of the Swift, I still adhered to my former resolution of waiting patiently for a settlement. I made several strong remonstrances, and urged for an answer to a letter I had addressed to Muda Hassim, in which was recapitulated our entire negotiation. This letter was acknowledged to be perfectly true and correct, and the rajah, in the conference which followed, again pledged himself to give me the country, saying he always intended to do so, but was involved in difficulties of the nature of which I could not be aware. Thus far things went well, and there appeared, indeed, a frankness in his manner which had formerly pleased me, but had long been in abeyance.

"On the return of the Royalist from Borneo, I had assured them that a government vessel would be sent to demand the captives; but, taking this assurance for a mere boast, they paid little attention to it, and were therefore excessively frightened when, a week after the Swift, the Diana steamer entered the river. I had the pleasure of calming their fears, and was too generous to push matters to a settlement during the two days the steamer remained.

"Muda Hassim now expressed himself desirous of sending some Pangerans to Borneo, and I wished him likewise to do so on account of the reflective power of the steamer, which, in that case, would have shone upon him. With his usual delay, however, he failed to be ready, and these Pangerans did not quit the river for two days afterward, when they proceeded in a native prahu. I accompanied the steamer to the mouth of the river, and wishing them success, pulled back to the capital of Sarawak.

"Oct 30th.—The Swift was slowly laden with antimony ore, worked by the Chinese; and I gradually robbed the Royalist of furniture for my house on shore. But I had no intention of allowing either vessel to sail until the time arrived which I had fixed on for the final adjustment of my affairs. By degrees, however, I learned many of the difficulties of poor Muda Hassim's situation, and much of the weakness of his character. The dissensions in Borneo; the intrigues of Macota; the rapacity of his own people, and their total want of fidelity; the bribes from the Sultan of Sambas; the false representations of numerous Borneo Pangerans who asserted the immense profit to be derived from the country; the dilatory movements of the Chinese; some doubts of my good faith; and, above all, the natural tenacity of power, all conspired to involve the rajah in the utmost perplexity, and would, but for counterbalancing circumstances, have turned the scale against me. Muda Hassim knew Macota to be false and in league with the Sultan of Sambas; and he felt that he had no power, and that if he broke with me, it would be extremely difficult to support himself against the former rebels. He was fond of me, and trusted me more than he trusted any one else; and pecuniary considerations had no doubt some weight, for with all Macota's promises he could not get sufficient ore to repay one quarter of his debt to me. However, all these conflicting considerations, instead of inducing Muda Hassim to take one course, only served to encourage his dilatory temper, and although puzzled, ashamed, and fearful, he could not decide.

"At this period a robbery was committed up the river by some of Macota's followers on a Chinese hadji, a converted Mohammedan. They beat the old man, threw him into the water, and robbed him of a tael of gold. The beating and attempt at drowning were certain, for the Chinese hadji was so ill for several days under my care, that he was in considerable danger. He complained to me loudly of Macota; and from other sources I gained a pretty accurate account of that gentleman's proceedings. By threats, by intrigue, by falsehood, and even by violence, he had prevented or driven all persons from daring to visit or come near me, whether abroad or ashore. He was taxing the poor Dyaks, harassing the Siniawans, and leagued with the Borneo Pangerans to plunder and get all he possibly could. Every Dyak community was watched by his followers, and a spear raised opposite the chief's house, to intimate that no person was to trade or barter except the Pangeran. The mode of plunder is thus perpetrated. Rice, clothes, gongs, and other articles are sent to a tribe at a fixed price, which the Dyaks dare not refuse, for it is at the risk of losing their children! The prices thus demanded by Macota were as follows: one gantong of rice for thirty birds' nests. Twenty-four gantongs here is equal to a pecul of rice—a pecul of rice costs one dollar and a half; whereas thirty birds' nests weigh one catty, and are valued at two rupees, so that the twenty-fourth part of one and a half dollars is sold for two rupees. Was it surprising that these people were poor and wretched? My astonishment was, that they continued to labor, and, indeed, nothing but their being a surprisingly industrious race can account for it, and they are only enabled to live at all by secreting a portion of their food. Yet war and bad government, or, rather, no government, have had the effect of driving more than half the Dyak tribes beyond the limits of Sarawak.

"The rapacity of these Malays is as unbounded as it is short-sighted; for one would think that the slightest degree of common sense would induce some of the chiefs to allow no one to plunder except themselves. But this is so far from being the case, that, when their demand has been enforced, dozens of inferior wretches extort and plunder in turn, each according to his ability; and though the Dyak is not wanting in obstinacy, he can seldom withstand these robberies, for each levy is made in the name of the rajah, or some principal Pangeran; and the threat of bringing the powerful tribe of Sakarrans or Sarebus to deprive them of their heads and wives and families, generally reduces them to obedience. While on this subject, I may as well mention a fact that came later to my knowledge, when several of the Dyak chiefs, and one of particular intelligence, Si Meta by name, assured me that each family paid direct revenue from thirty to fifty pasus (tubs) of padi, besides all the other produces, which are extorted at merely nominal prices.

"To return to my relation: the Chinese hadji recovered, and I determined to punish the aggressors, for which purpose I seized an Illanun said to be concerned, but who was innocent. In the mean time the steamer returned from Borneo, and once more put in here for wood and water. She brought Captain and Mrs. Page, Mr. Young, the second officer, and all the rest of the crew, save only a few who had landed at the north part of Borneo, and there been seized and sold as slaves, and brought afterward as slaves to Borneo Proper. As the history of the shipwreck and detention is curious, I may here relate it as nearly as I can.

"The Sultana, a fine ship of 700 tons, the day previous to her being struck by lightning, found the French frigate Magicienne aground and deserted on the Bombay shoal; Captain Page boarded her, and discovered every thing as it had been left by the crew—provisions, water, &c., in abundance. The day after, the Sultana met with a worse fate, being struck, and the cotton in the hold, fore and aft, fired by the electric fluid. They had scarcely time to hoist out the boat when the flames burst forth, and they quitted her very short of provisions, and saving only some money and jewels. Captain Page bore up for the wreck of the French frigate, intending to refit his long-boat aboard her, and take provisions and arms to last them to Singapore; but, on making her, there was so great a wash of the sea on the lee part of the reef, that it was totally impossible to reach the Magicienne. Under these unfortunate circumstances they bore up once more, still intending to prosecute the voyage to Singapore, and made the land to the southward of Palawan; and, being then short of water and provisions, landed on a small islet off Balabac, or Balambangan. Here they procured a few shell-fish and some very bad water; but seeing some natives in prahus on a neighboring islet, and being-unarmed and apprehensive, they lighted large fires in the evening to mislead these people, and, as night advanced, silently put to sea, and made the best of their way along the coast. With a heavy sea, and often high wind, they reached as far as Labuan, off the entrance of the Borneo river; and here, being in the utmost want, and reduced to an allowance of half a biscuit and a cup of water per day, they were forced to put into Borneo Proper, not without hopes of being well used, and enabled to buy provisions and stores sufficient to carry them to Singapore or Sambas. I have omitted to mention that, on making the land the first time, they parted from the cutter, in consequence of the tow-rope breaking in the night; but as they were then within sight of Borneo, and the wind fair, there was no doubt of its making the land somewhere. This, indeed, it did at Malludu Bay, where the native crew were seized and sold as slaves.

"The arrival of Captain Page in his long-boat caused, as may well be imagined, considerable sensation in the campong; and they reached the sultan's house, thinking it the best place to seek shelter and protection. In this, however, they were soon undeceived; for neither the one nor the other was granted, but a message sent that they must deliver up all their property into the sultan's hands, as otherwise he was afraid they would be plundered by his people. Accordingly, having possessed himself of their money, some jewels, their boat, &c., he gave them a miserable shed to live in. Here they passed the time, and were gradually robbed of every thing they had in the world, even to the baby-linen which Mrs. Page had prepared for an expected infant. Sometimes, indeed, when Captain Page refused to yield to the sultan's demands, their provisions were stopped till they could no longer hold out; and in this way they were compelled to sign bonds for considerable sums, with the understanding that, till these were procured and paid, they should be detained.

"In this sad situation Mrs. Page was confined of a daughter, on the 31st of March; and this miserable life continued from the 4th of January, 1841, to August of the same year. Their first ray of hope was the Royalist coming to fetch them: the steamer followed, and they were released.

"After a stay of two or three days, the steamer once more sailed; though I would fain have persuaded Captain Congleton to search for the piratical fleet, of which I had excellent information; but he considered himself not authorized, or, in other words, he declined the responsibility.

"As there was a chance that Mr. Gill and the De Souzas were either at Sirhassan or Tambelan, the steamer decided to touch at the latter place, and a native chuliah brig was directed to call at the former. I afterward learned that the pirates were then at Sirhassan; but as the brig knew nothing about Sirhassan, it is probable she never went there. In the evening the Diana sailed, and I reached Sarawak about two o'clock in the morning.

"I now return to my concerns. The Chinese hadji, whom I had protected, continued to reside with my servants, till one evening we were alarmed at an attempt to poison my interpreter, a native of the name of Mia. Arsenic had certainly been put into his rice; but as the servants endeavored to point suspicion on this hadji, and as I learned, at the same time, that they did not agree with the old man, I cleared him in my own mind, and rather leaned to the opinion of Mia having placed the arsenic in the plate himself, for the express purpose of accusing the hadji. Connecting this event with all Macota's former intrigues, I determined to bring matters to a crisis, and test at once the strength of the respective parties. Accordingly, after complaining of the matter previously mentioned to the rajah, I landed a party of men, fully armed, and loaded the ship's guns with grape and canister; after which I once more proceeded to Muda Hassim, and, while I protested my kindness toward him, exposed Macota's machinations and crimes, his oppression and his deceit, and threatened him with an attack, as neither Muda Hassim nor myself were safe while he continued practicing these arts. Muda Hassim was frightened; but how Macota felt I can not say, as he never moved out of his house, and it was long afterward before he was seen. From my knowledge, however, of his temperament, I can well conceive that he was reduced to a pitiable state of terror. The Siniawans took my part directly; and their chiefs came to me to say that 200 men were all ready whenever I pleased to call for them. The Chinese and the rest of the inhabitants took no side; and Macota did not get a single follower besides his immediate slaves, perhaps about twenty in number. After this demonstration affairs proceeded cheerily to a conclusion. The rajah was active in settling; the agreement was drawn out, sealed, and signed; guns fired, flags waved; and on the 24th of September, 1841, I became the Governor of Sarawak, with the fullest powers."

Being now regularly established in his government, Mr. Brooke, with his usual activity and circumspection, applied himself to the discharge of the onerous duties it imposed upon him; and his first acts were such as equally displayed his wisdom, firmness, and humanity. His journal runs thus:

"Nov. 3d.—I have a country; but, oh! how beset with difficulties, how ravaged by war, torn by dissensions, and ruined by duplicity, weakness, and intrigue! Macota's underhand dealings, after the conclusion of my agreement with Muda Hassim had been ratified, soon brought letters from his Sambas friends, i. e., one from the sultan, one from the Tumangong, and one from another Pangeran—an immense effort of conspiracy and correspondence! Of these letters the sultan's alone was curious; for the rest only dealt in professions of devoted attachment to the person and interests of Muda Hassim. But the sultan, for want of some better plea, made use of the following singular specimen of reasoning, viz., that the Chinese Kunsi were indebted to him a sum of money, which they had agreed to pay him in antimony ore; the agreement was not to pay him in gold, or money, or other commodity—only in antimony ore; therefore he wanted antimony ore. To this it was properly replied, that an arrangement had been made with me, and that the Chinese could not agree to give antimony ore without his (Muda Hassim's) consent.

"My first object, on holding the reins of government, was to release the unfortunate women confined for a whole year by the rajah. This, indeed, was not only necessary to inspire confidence in my just intentions, but was dictated by humanity. I found Muda Hassim not averse to take the measure, now that he had really resolved to adhere to my advice, and consequently I had the sincere satisfaction, within a few days, of liberating upward of a hundred females and young children, and of restoring them to their husbands and fathers; this act being somewhat alloyed by Muda Hassim detaining twelve females, and among them two wives. I urged as strongly as I could, but without success, the advisability of releasing the whole; and I was obliged, at last, to content myself with the mass, and yield the few whom I could only have got by force or the utter abrogation of our infant treaty. When I pressed the affair, it was answered that, except for me, none would have regained their liberty; and that the release was an act of great kindness and unexampled confidence toward me; that what had been done was perfectly accordant with their customs; and that the women detained were for the rajah's brothers—so far, indeed, from being intended as an injury to the women, it was a great honor and advantage. I explained the circumstances to the Patingi and Tumangong, and they acquiesced in the decision—allowing the custom—and said they had gained so much more than they had ever hoped for, that they could submit to the rest.

"The next step was to assemble the Siniawans, who, since the close of the war, would run away, and whom it was found impossible to keep here. Some had retired to Sambas; some (among them Patingi Ali) had gone to Sariki; and others had built a village on the borders of the Sambas territory. The whole aim and object of Macota's government was to get these people back; and those who were already here were constantly plying backward and forward to recall their companions; but as soon as they succeeded in getting one family, another absconded. Confidence alone could restore them; and I therefore intimated to the Patingi and Tumangong that there was no occasion for their seeking them; that I by no means desired their return; and that any of their people who wished to leave the country were at liberty to do so whenever they felt inclined. This had the desired effect, in a short time, of bringing back the fugitives from Pankalon Nibong; and they continued daily to arrive from Sambas.

"My next measure was to inquire into the state of the Dyaks, to gain their confidence, and, as much as it was within my power, prevent the oppressions of the Malays. It was necessary, likewise, to fix a rate of tax to be levied yearly; and the prospect seemed fair, as the chief people of the following tribes had come in, and agreed that such a tax on rice, amounting to sixteen gantongs, would be required from each man, and that for the rest they would be obliged to labor; that they could trade at pleasure; that no man could demand any thing from them; that their wives and children were safe; and that, in case any trouble arose, they were to let me know, and I would myself come to their assistance. The tribes were, Lundu, Sarambo, Bombak, Paninjow, and Sow. The only other tribe on the right-hand river were the Singe, a powerful and stiff-necked people, with good reason to be shy; but when once they are treated justly, their strength will be advantageous, and give them confidence to resist oppression.

"The story told me by the three heads of the Sow Dyaks brought tears into my eyes, as they each in turn related their grievances. One of them, a remarkably intelligent person, addressed me nearly in the following terms: 'From former times we have been the subjects of the Patek of Borneo. The Borneons are the elder brothers, we the younger; and the custom of old was, that we should pay revenue and find protection. But they forgot what was right, and departed from the custom, and robbed the Dyaks, and oppressed them. We have done no wrong: we listened to the commands of the Patingi who was put over us by the Patek. If he did wrong, he should be punished; but we have suffered because we obeyed the commands of the officer legally appointed. You might, sir, a few years ago, have sought in this river, and not have found a happier tribe than ours. Our children were collected around us; we had rice in plenty, and fruit-trees; our hogs and fowls were in abundance; we could afford to give what was demanded of us, and yet live happily. Now we have nothing left. The Sadong people and the Sakarran Dyaks attacked us: they burned our houses, destroyed our property, cut down our fruit-trees, killed many of our people, and led away our wives and young children into slavery. We could build another house; we could plant fruit-trees and cultivate rice; but where can we find wives? Can we forget our young children? We have asked the Patek to restore them; we have asked Pangeran Macota to restore them: they have told us they would, but have not; we can not trust them; their words are fair, but in their hearts they do not mean to help us. We have now no one to trust but you—will you help us? Will you restore our wives and children? If we get our families, you will never repent it: you will find us true.'

"What could I answer? I could not deceive them, as I knew not how to obtain their object; I therefore told them I feared it was impossible; but I would try, and they themselves should go and try at the same time. Poor, unhappy people, who suffer for the crimes of others! God knows, I will aid you to the utmost of my power.

"Nov. 5th.—To-day the greatest, and I hope the final, struggle of the opposing faction was developed by the arrival of a brig from Sambas, with two of the sultan's sons on board; Macota in high spirits, and my party looking rather desponding; and, in fact, I can not trust them against Sambas. For good or for bad, for success or for failure, for life or for death, I will act justly, and preserve the high hand over Macota.

"After the steps I have mentioned, I determined to open a court for the administration of justice, wherein I should preside, together with such of the rajah's brothers as liked to assist me. As for a jury, or any machinery of form or law, it was rejected, because it must be inefficient, if not corrupt; and the only object I aimed at was, keeping witnesses out of ear-shot of each other, hearing the evidence, deciding as appeared best, and in future punishing. This simple plan insured substantial redress; and it gave all the people confidence in me, and a notion of what was right.

"The first case was a follower of the rajah's, of the name of Sunudeen; and a greater villain could not exist either in this or any other land. It was as follows: A man from Samarahan, named Bujong, had undertaken to marry his daughter to a Sarawak man called Abdullah; but Abdullah proving a dissolute character, and greatly in debt, Bujong broke off the engagement before the proper authorities, and returned the presents which Abdullah, according to custom, had made. Abdullah, it appeared, was indebted a small sum to Matassim (Mohammed Orsin), and, between Sunudeen and Matassim, they resolved to lay the debt on Bujong's shoulders; in other words, to plunder Bujong under false pretenses. Accordingly, Sunudeen, with his comrade, went to Samarahan; and, in his capacity of follower of the rajah, demanded the debt due by Abdullah to Matassim. Bujong having no money, Sunudeen proceeded and seized his nephew, a boy, and a slave-man belonging to him, as his slaves. Poor Bujong resisted, and recovered his nephew, but yielded his slave; he appealed, however, to the Orang Kaya de Gadong's sons, and they failing, a Nakodah stated the case secretly to me. I investigated it, and ordered the return of the slave in my presence, which was obeyed. This may give an idea of the state of the country, and the power of every petty scoundrel hanging about the rajah to rob and plunder at pleasure.

"7th.—I have before mentioned that the Dyaks of Sibnow bury their dead; but I always found a reluctance on their part to show me their place of sepulture. Once, indeed, chance led me to the burial-ground of part of that tribe settled at Simunjang; but, as they seemed restless to get away, I only took a hasty survey. The reason, I have lately learned, for this is, that in their graves they deposit the golden ornaments and other property of the person deceased, amounting frequently to a considerable value in the precious metals, brass swivels, gongs, &c.

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