"The tribe now at Lundu were formerly settled on the Samarahan river for many years; and their burial-place there contained the ashes of the parents and grandparents of the present chief, who, with his followers, were not long ago driven to Lundu; and their former settlement being deserted, it has been the employment of some of the rascals here to rob these graves of their contents, and to desecrate the repose of the dead. The Orang Kaya of Lundu complained to me sadly, but mournfully, on this account, and said that if he could not find redress from the rajah, he must obtain it himself by taking the heads of those who had disinterred the bones of his ancestors. His whole manner convinced me that they hold the burying-places in great respect; and my advice, to remove the wealth and bones to a place of security at Lundu, was rejected on the ground that they could not disturb the remains of those whom they had once deposited in the earth.
"While there is so much of right feeling and manly principle in the actions of these Dyaks, the miserable race who pretend to be their superiors have no single virtue or good intention. I do not, however, mean to confound the inhabitants of Sarawak, or the other rivers, with those of Borneo Proper. The latter are thoroughly corrupt and profligate. The former are Malays, but have their good qualities, and certainly are not possessed with the spirit of intrigue which seems the life, the only moving principle of the Borneons. It may truly be said of the latter, that they would tell a lie when the truth would serve them better. They will employ duplicity and treachery on every slight occasion; defeat their own purpose by their meanness, and yet continue in the same crooked paths. They will conspire without any object, or one too mysterious to arrive at; and, while they raise a cloud of doubts in the mind of the poor, their own equals look on and detect the game. Yet, after all, they gain but little individually; because so many are practicing the same arts at the same time with equal skill; and the country is so exhausted by their oppressions and rapacity, that in the end there is nothing to be got by their tricks and manoeuvers. It is a strange state of society, and it is only wonderful how it can exist; but they have their reward in being poor and ill-provided, though living in the midst of a marvelously fertile and luxurious country.
"December 31st.—The last day of the year, in which I must bring up the arrears of my account.
"The Sambas brig left only yesterday, after exhausting every effort of intrigue, and every artifice which Malays can invent, to compass their ends.
"With the Sambas brig came Seriff Hussein, a relation of the Sultan of Pontiana, and half Arab half Bugis by descent. He came with the avowed purpose of entering into the most friendly communication with me, and residing here, provided I gave him any encouragement. His real motive (if he has one) not being obvious, I, in the mean time, treated him with all kindness; and he is an intelligent and pleasing person, and, moreover, connected with the Siniawans, who have a good opinion of him."
Reflections on the new year.—The plundered village, and other wrongs.—Means for their suppression.—The new government proceeds to act.—The constitution.—Preparations for an expedition against the Sea Dyaks.—Form of a treaty.—Wreck of the Viscount Melbourne.—Administration of justice.—Difficulties and dangers.—Dyak troubles.—Views and arrangements of the Chinese.—Judicial forms.—Wrongs and sufferings of the Lundus.
"Jan. 1st, 1842.—The past year is in the bosom of eternity, into which bourne we are all hurrying. Here we have no merry-making, no reunion of families, no bright fires or merry games, to mark the advent of 1842; but we have genial weather, and are not pinched by cold or frost. This is a year which to me must be eventful; for at its close I shall be able to judge whether I can maintain myself against all the circumstances and difficulties which beset me, or whether I must retreat, broken in fortune, to some retirement in my native land. I look with calmness on the alternative, and God knows no selfish motives weigh on me; and if I fail, my chief regret will be for the natives of this unhappy country. Let the year roll on, let the months pass; and whatever they bring—whether it be life or death, fortune or poverty—I am prepared; and in the deep solitude of my present existence I can safely say that I believe I could bear misfortune better than prosperity. In this, probably, I am not singular; for there is something in prosperity which, if it does not make us worse, makes us more foolish and more worldly—which decks passing time with wreaths of gay flowers, and gilds the things of this life with tinsel hopes and wishes, to the exclusion of the pure gold of reflection for the life to come. What are all these gewgaws, these artificial flowers, these momentary joys, these pleasures of the sense, before the war of time? Nothing! And yet, if exertion can benefit our race, or even our own country—if the sum of human misery can be alleviated—if these suffering people can be raised in the scale of civilization and happiness—it is a cause in which I could suffer, it is a cause in which I have suffered and do suffer; hemmed in, beset, anxious, perplexed, and the good intent marred by false agents—surrounded by weakness, treachery, falsehood, and folly, is suffering enough; and to feel myself on the threshold of success, and only withheld by the want of adequate means, increases this suffering. Hail, however, 1842! Come good, come ill, still hail! and many as are the light hearts which have already greeted thee, mine will be more ready to bow to the decrees of Providence which thy twelve months will develop.
"Jan. 3d.—I have mentioned that the Sanpro had been attacked from Sadong; and I now learn that, at the time, the men were out of the village, and thus the women and children alone suffered; twenty-two have been carried away into slavery. The village was burned after being plundered, and the unfortunate people have since been living in the jungle, with only such food as they could get there. The head of the tribe and about six of his followers came down the river on a raft to ask assistance from me, and I had the story from them. They were relieved as far as my means admitted, and returned far happier than they came. The very same day arrived news that six men of the Sows were cut off by a wandering party of the Sakarrans.
"This leads me naturally to consider the means by which these atrocities may be prevented. I propose first to send letters to Seriff Sahib of Sadong, Seriff Muller of Sakarran, and Seriff Jaffer of Singe, stating that I wish to be on good terms with my neighbors, but am determined to attack any place which sends Dyaks to rob in my country; and that I call on them to restrain their subjects from making incursions here. In case this warning is neglected, I must strike one blow suddenly, as a farther warning, and keep a good lookout at sea to destroy any Dyak fleet that may be prowling outside. A good-sized boat, with a six-pounder and a swivel or two, will effect the latter object, backed by two or four light, fast-pulling boats, with musketry, which, when the Dyak prahus fly, may keep pace with them and thin their pullers, till the heavier boat can come up. To carry one of their campongs, I must have twenty-five Europeans, and from some thirty to fifty Bugis, who, coming from Singapore, may proceed at once to Sadong, or, rather, the campong Tangi. Seriff Sahib is a great freebooter, and dispatches his retainers to attack the weak tribes here for the sake of the slaves, calculating, on the rajah's presumed weakness, that he can do so with impunity. He may find himself mistaken.
"Seriff Muller is a brother of Seriff Sahib, and lives at Sakarran, which powerful Dyak tribe are always willing to be sent by either brother on a forage for heads and slaves. It is certain, however, that they could never come from the Sadong side without Seriff Sahib's permission; and on the late attack on Sanpro they were accompanied by a party of Malays.
"Seriff Jaffer is by no means mixed up with these brothers, and there is no love lost between them; nor would he, I think, do anything to annoy me. This is the foreign policy.
"The domestic policy is as disturbed as the foreign. The rajah weak, Macota intriguing, and my ministers—viz., the Patingi (Abong Mia), the Bandar, and Tumangong—all false and foolish, and Macota's men; with me, however, are the Siniawans.
"Jan. 6th.—The Sambas brig returned, having been baffled and beat about, and nearly lost at sea, unable to weather Tanjong Datu. The crew say she was one hour under water. She now remains here to wait the change of the monsoon, and her intriguing Pangerans return by land.
"8th.—Seriff Hussein returned from Sambas, having been nearly stabbed while there. The assassins, it was understood, were here, and I endeavored to apprehend them; but, having heard of the seriff's arrival, they made off.
"10th.—This day the first laws and regulations are to be promulgated in Sarawak; and as the event is a rare one, I here inscribe a copy for the benefit of future legislators, observing that there is an absolute necessity for mildness and patience, and that an opposite course would raise such a host of enemies as to crush every good seed; for, as it is, the gentlest course of justice brings down much odium, and arouses intense dislike among a people who have had no law but their own vile intrigues to guide or control them.
"Two cases have lately come to notice, which will serve as examples of their singular crimes.
"One poor man owed another sixteen reals, and the debtor was away trading for a few days, when the creditor sold the daughter (a free woman) for thirty reals, to a person of influence.
"The second case, a respectable man, or a respectably born man, owed a Pangeran fifty peculs of ore, and proposed to make over to him in payment, a slave woman and her four children. The woman had been a slave of his grandfather's, but was adopted as his daughter, and enfranchised publicly; yet by intimidation, they were near getting her and her offspring. Here the Pangerans and Nakodas bully a man into silence and acquiescence; and the people dare not, as yet, bring their complaints to me. But I hear these things, call the parties together, and often prevent the commission of a premeditated crime; by which means I save myself from the odium of punishing.
"There is great difficulty in acting at once with temper and firmness, so as to appear the benefactor rather than the tyrant. It is, indeed, an arduous and troublesome task; but I think I see a ray of light to encourage me.
"Here are the regulations, which I had printed at Singapore in the Malayan language:—
"James Brooke, esquire, governor (rajah), of the country of Sarawak, makes known to all men the following regulations:—
"'1st. That murder, robbery, and other heinous crimes will be punished according to the ondong-ondong (i.e. the written law of Borneo); and no person committing such offences will escape, if, after fair inquiry, he be proved guilty.
"'2d. In order to insure the good of the country, all men, whether Malays, Chinese, or Dyaks, are permitted to trade or labor according to their pleasure, and to enjoy their gains.
"'3d. All roads will be open, that the inhabitants at large may seek profit both by sea or by land; and all boats coming from others are free to enter the river and depart, without let or hinderance.
"'4th. Trade, in all its branches, will be free, with the exception of antimony ore, which the governor holds in his own hands, but which no person is forced to work, and which will be paid for at a proper price when obtained. The people are encouraged to trade and labor, and to enjoy the profits which are to be made by fair and honest dealing.
"'5th. It is ordered that no person going among the Dyaks shall disturb them, or gain their goods under false pretences. It must be clearly explained to the different Dyak tribes, that the revenue will be collected by the three Datus, bearing the seal of the governor; and (except this yearly demand from the government) they are to give nothing to any person; nor are they obliged to sell their goods except they please and at their own prices.
"'6th. The governor will shortly inquire into the revenue, and fix it at a proper rate; so that every one may know certainly how much he has to contribute yearly to support the government.
"'7th. It will be necessary, likewise, to settle the weights, measures, and money current in the country, and to introduce doits, that the poor may purchase food cheaply.
"'8th. The governor issues these commands, and will enforce obedience to them; and while he gives all protection and assistance to the persons who act rightly, he will not fail to punish those who seek to disturb the public peace or commit crimes; and he warns all such persons to seek their safety, and find some other country where they may be permitted to break the laws of God and man.'
"Jan. 11th.—I have frequently said that all law and custom have been long banished from this country; but I may here retrace the customs which once obtained, the best of which I wish to restore.
"The inhabitants were all considered the property of the sultan—serfs rather than slaves—and were divided into four classes. Imprimis, the Dyaks (the aborigines); the Bruni, or people of the soil, probably the descendants of the first Malay emigrants; the Awang-Awang, the meaning of which I am ignorant of; and the Hamba Rajah, or rajah's slaves. There is every reason to believe the Dyaks are an aboriginal people; but between the Bruni and Awang-Awang it is difficult to decide the priority. The Hamba Rajah speaks for itself.
"These three distinctions have been long confounded by intermarriage; and the names rather than the reality are retained. The governors of the country are the Patingi, a Bandar, and a Tumangong, who are appointed from Borneo. Each of the classes was formerly ruled by its particular officer, and the Dyaks were appropriated likewise among them; the Patingi holding the tribes on the right-hand river, the Bandar to the left, and the Tumangong on the sea-coast. The annual revenue paid to Borneo was 300 reals; but they were subject to extra demands, and to the extortions of the powerful chiefs.
"The government of the Dyaks I have already detailed; and though we might hope that in a more settled state of things they would have been more secure from foreign pillage, yet they were annually deprived of the proceeds of their labor, debarred from trade, and deprived of every motive to encourage industry. The character of their rulers for humanity alone fixed the measure of their suffering, and bad was the best; but it seems to be a maxim among all classes of Malays, that force alone can keep the Dyaks in proper subjection; which is so far true, that force alone, and the hopelessness of resistance, could induce a wild people to part with the food on which they depend for subsistence. At a distance I have heard of and pitied the sufferings of the negroes and the races of New Holland—yet it was the cold feeling dictated by reason and humanity; but now, having witnessed the miseries of a race superior to either, the feeling glows with the fervor of personal commiseration: so true is it that visible misery will raise us to exertion, which the picture, however powerfully delineated, can never produce. The thousands daily knelled out of the world, who lie in gorgeous sepulchres, or rot unburied on the surface of the earth, excite no emotion compared to that conjured up by the meanest dead at our feet. We read of tens of thousands killed and wounded in battle, and the glory of their deeds, or the sense of their defeat attracts our sympathy; but if a single mangled warrior, ghastly with wounds and writhing with pain, solicited our aid, we should deplore his fate with tenfold emotion, and curse the strife which led to such a result. Among the thousands starving for want of food we trouble not ourselves to seek one; but if the object is presented before our eyes, how certain a compassion is aroused! To assist is a duty; but in the performance of this duty, to be gentle and feeling is god-like; and probably between individuals, there is no greater distinction than in this tender sympathy toward distress. Poor, poor Dyaks! exposed to starvation, slavery, death! you may well raise the warmest feelings of compassion—enthusiasm awakes at witnessing your sufferings! To save men from death has its merit; but to alleviate suffering, to ameliorate all the ills of slavery, to protect these tribes from pillage and yearly scarcity, is far nobler; and if, in the endeavor to do so, one poor life is sacrificed, how little is it in the vast amount of human existence!
"18th.—A Chinese boat with four men was chased into the river by four Dyak prahus, and escaped with difficulty. On the intelligence reaching me, I, with some trouble, mustered three canoes, and we proceeded down, about one o'clock in the morning, in search of the enemy. After rowing in the dark for some hours, we discovered a light gliding up the river, and gave chase, but did not succeed; and at daybreak returned, wet and tired, without seeing anything more, when we learnt that the chase was a Sarawak boat, which, mistaking us for Dyaks, as we did them, pulled with all speed home, and gave the alarm of being nearly captured.
"In the evening I ordered a fine boat to be prepared for the war with Sarebus and Sakarran, which appears to me inevitable; as it is impossible, laying all motives of humanity aside, to allow these piratical tribes to continue their depredations, which are inconsistent with safety, and a bar to all trade along the coast. Eighty prahus of Sarebus and Sakarran are reported to be ready, and waiting for further reinforcements before putting to sea.
"19th.—Information of three more of my Dyaks being cut off in the interior by the predatory tribes.
"20th.—Opened the subject of restoring the old Patingi, Bandar, and Tumangong, and found Muda Hassim quite willing, but wishing to wait till he hears from Borneo; at the same time telling me that I might employ them in their respective situations. This matter I consider, therefore, settled; and as these men are natives, and have the command of all the common people, and are, moreover, willing to serve under me, I conceive it a great advance in my government. Since my return here they have proved themselves faithful and ready; but though true in adversity, will they continue equally so in prosperity? I hope the best from them, especially as their circumstances will be easy; and I will endeavor to pay them as much as I can. Pay well, and men may be trusted. Either way, it is a great advance; for every change will not occur immediately; and, in the mean time, I shall be strengthened by in-comers, especially Chinese, so that the parties may be balanced, and each look to me as the link which holds them together. The government must be a patchwork between good and evil, abolishing only so much of the latter as is consistent with safety. But never must I appear in the light of a reformer, political or religious; for to the introduction of new customs, apparently trivial, and the institution of new forms, however beneficial, the disgust of the semi-barbarous races may be traced. People settled like myself too often try to create a Utopia, and end with a general confusion. The feeling of the native which binds him to his chief is destroyed, and no other principle is substituted in its stead; and as the human mind more easily learns ill than good, they pick up the vices of their governors without their virtues, and their own good qualities disappear, the bad of both races remaining without the good of either.
"We are in active preparation to fit out a fleet to meet the piratical Dyaks. The rajah has a fine prahu, which I have taken in hand to repair, and I have purchased a second; and the two, with three or four small canoes, will be able to cope with a hundred or a hundred and fifty Dyak boats. The largest of these boats is worth a description. Fifty-six feet in length and eight in breadth; built with a great sheer, so as to raise the bow and stern out of the water, and pulling thirty paddles, she is a dangerous customer when mounting four swivels and carrying a crew of twenty men with small arms. She is called the 'Snake,' or 'Ular.' The second boat, somewhat shorter and less fast, is named the 'Dragon;' her complement of paddles twenty, and her fighting-men twenty, make one hundred and forty in, two boats. The long canoes carry fifteen men each, which will bring the force up to one hundred and eighty-five; and one boat of the rajah's will complete two hundred men, of whom nearly one hundred are armed with muskets.
"To show the system of these people, I may mention that one of the principal men proposed to me to send to Sakarran and Sarebus, and intimate that I was about to attack Siquong (a large interior tribe), and invite them to assist. 'They will all come,' he said: 'nothing they will like so well; and when they are up the Samarahan river, we will sally forth, attack; and destroy them at one blow.' My answer was, that I could not deceive; but if they did come, I would attack them.
"Feb. 1st.—Matari, or 'the Sun,' the Sakarran chief I have already mentioned, arrived with two boats, and paid me several visits. He assured me he wanted to enter into an agreement, to the effect that neither should injure the other. To this treaty I was obliged to add the stipulation, that he was neither to pirate by sea nor by land, and not to go, under any pretence, into the interior of the country. His shrewdness and cunning were remarkably displayed. He began by inquiring, if a tribe, either Sakarran or Sarebus, pirated on my territory, what I intended to do. My answer was, 'To enter their country and lay it waste.' But he asked me again, 'You will give me, your friend, leave to steal a few heads occasionally?' 'No,' I replied, 'you cannot take a single head; you cannot enter the country: and if you or your countrymen do, I will have a hundred Sakarran heads for every one you take here.' He recurred to this request several times: 'just to steal one or two!' as a schoolboy would ask for apples. There is no doubt that the two tribes of Sakarran and Sarebus are greatly addicted to head-hunting, and consider the possession as indispensable. The more a man has, the greater his honor and rank; nor is there anything without to check or ameliorate this barbarous habit; for the Malays of all classes, on this coast, take the same pride in heads as the Dyaks themselves, with the exception that they do not place them in their houses, or attach any superstitious ideas to them.
"I asked Matari what was the solemn form of agreement among his tribes; and he assured me the most solemn was drinking each other's blood, in which case it was considered they were brothers; but pledging the blood of fowls was another and less solemn form.
"On the 26th of January the Royalist's boat, with Captain Hart and Mr. Penfold, second mate, of the Viscount Melbourne, arrived here. The reason, it appears, of the Royalist coming was, to seek the missing crew of the Viscount Melbourne, a large ship wrecked on the Luconia shoal. The captain in the launch, with some Coolies; the first and third mates, with Colonel Campbell of the 37th, M.N.I., in a cutter; the second mate, Mr. Penfold, and the surgeon, in the second cutter; a fourth boat with twenty-five Lascars, and the jolly-boat, making in all five boats, left the vessel well provisioned, and steered in company for the coast, which they made somewhere between Borneo and Tanjong Barram. The fourth boat was missed the night they made the land; and being all at anchor, and the weather fine, it was strongly suspected that the twenty-five Lascars deserted with her.
"The other four boats proceeded a day or two, when the first cutter, with Colonel Campbell on board, went in the evening in search of water; and though the rest showed lights all night, returned no more. They were, on the following day, attacked by a prahu, which fired into them and severely wounded one man, and succeeded in capturing the jolly-boat; but finding nothing in her, set her on fire—Lascars and all. The crew, however, was rescued, and she was abandoned; and the two remaining boats, in course of time, arrived at Singapore. The Royalist was taken up by government to seek the missing boats, and just touched here for an hour or two, the boat coming up while the vessel kept the sea.
"Feb. 9th.—Mr. Williamson returned from Sanpro, where I sent him to watch a party of natives who had gone among the Dyaks; the Panglima Sadome, of the tribe of Sanpro, came with him, and brought the lamentable account of the death of eight more Dyaks, cut off by the Sakarrans. It frets me dreadfully; however, on the whole I see a vast improvement, and a degree of confidence in me arising among the Dyaks, greater than I expected.
"14th.—I have now entered on the most difficult task, and the one most likely to cause an ultimate failure in my undertaking, but which is indispensably necessary. I mean, the administration of justice. As long as my laws are applied to the people of the country, there is no trouble; but directly equal justice is administered, it causes heartburn and evasion; the rajahs and Pangerans are surrounded by a gang of followers who heretofore have robbed, plundered, and even murdered, without inquiry being made. It was enough that a follower of the rajah was concerned, to hush up all wrongs; and any of the oppressed, who were bold enough to lodge a complaint, were sure to rue it. All the rascals and ruffians who follow the great men find this species of protection the best and the only reward; and as the slaves are looked upon as personal property, any punishment inflicted upon them is likewise inflicted upon their masters. I have all along foreseen these obstacles, and the necessity of at once combating them—whether successfully or not signifies little; but they must be encountered, and the result left to the Almighty.
"Equal justice is the groundwork of society; and unless it can be administered, there can be no hope of ultimate improvement. The country may have bad laws; but such laws as it has must be enforced, gently and mildly as may be toward the superiors, but strictly toward the guilty; and all crimes coming under my cognizance must meet with their punishment. These remarks are preliminary to two cases, in which the rajah's followers have been concerned.
"The first of these was a man stealing sago, which is stored without the houses at the water's edge; he was convicted. The other occurred some time since, but has only just been traced. A party at night gutted a house, getting a booty of upward of 200 reals; the goods have been discovered; but the three followers of the rajah have absconded since the affair has been blown; whether to return or not is uncertain. There can be no doubt, however, that they have been sent away to keep clear of the consequences, by one of the rajah's brothers named Abdul Khadir, who, when they were off, accused two accomplices, people of the country!
"Another most shameful mode of exaction and tyranny is practiced by these Borneo people, particularly their Nakodas. It consists in lending small sums of money to the natives (that is, Sarawak people), and demanding interest at the rate of fifty per cent per month; by this means a small sum is quickly converted into one which is quite out of the power of the poor man to pay; and he, his wife, and children, are taken to the house of the creditor to work for him, while the debt still accumulates, and the labor is endless. I intend to strike at this slavery in disguise, but not just yet; the suppression of robbery, the criminal department of justice, being more immediately important.
"15th.—I may, in continuation of yesterday, mention another instance in illustration of this oppressive system. Si Pata (a Siniawan), son of the Tumangong, lost in gambling to Nakoda Ursat eighteen reals, which in eighteen months has now arisen to a debt of 170 reals; but all prospect of payment of such an accumulated sum being impossible from a poor man, Nakoda Ursat consigns the debt to Pangeran Abdul Khadir, who can demand it by fair means or by foul; and if Si Pata cannot pay, make his father pay. Thus a gambling transaction is run up to ten times its original amount, and a whole family involved in distress by these iniquitous proceedings. Such things must not be; and odious as they seem to a European, and indignant as they make him, yet he must not proceed with the strong hand. Reflection, too, teaches us that vice is comparative; and in forming a judgment, we must not forget a man's education, the society in which he lives, the absence of restraint, and the force of example from childhood; so that what would be heinous in a Christian long under a settled government, is light by comparison in a Malay, who is a nominal professor of Islam, and brought up with the idea that might makes right, and has no one external cause to deter him from crime.
"March 12th.—On the whole getting on very well, but with many reasons for vexation, and more for anxiety. The chief of these is, whether Mr. Bonham will come here, as I have suggested, or rather pressed. Another feature of inquietude is from the Chinese of Sipang, who certainly aim at greater power than I shall allow them, and perhaps, some day or other, it will come to a struggle.
"Petty troubles I do not reckon, though there are enow on all sides, and for the last few days I have felt as if sinking under them; but that is not my usual temperament. I now look impatiently for intelligence. Blow, fair breezes, and waft Royalist here!
"25th.—A period of wearing uncertainty since my last, having news neither of the Royalist nor of Mr. Bonham, and kept on the qui vive by a schooner or two at the entrance of the river. The plot thickens in and around; and for the sake of keeping up a register of events in something like order, I will here mention the leading features. Seriff Sahib, of Sadong, pretends to be friendly, but is treacherous in his heart, as is his brother, Seriff Muller of Sakarran. We have been quite clear of Dyaks, and our own tribes enjoying rest and peace; and one tribe from without, namely Serang, has come in and claimed my protection. The only tribe at all troublesome is the Singe, the chief of which (the Orang Kaya Parembam) is decidedly opposed to me, and swears by Macota. I am given to believe, however, that the majority of his people do not agree with him; and I shall dispossess him of his dignity, and substitute a friendly chief. The Singe Dyaks are the most powerful and numerous in my territory, and the only ones who have not been attacked and plundered by the Sakarrans.
"At Lundu are the Sibnowan Dyaks, under the Orang Kaya Tumangong; and the Lundu Dyaks, once a flourishing tribe, now, by ill-treatment of all sorts, reduced to twenty persons. I may mention among my other difficulties, that many, nay most, of the Dyak tribes are held as private property: any rascally Borneon making a present to the sultan, gets a grant of a Dyak tribe, originally to rule, now to plunder or sell; and in this way the portion of the Sibnowans settled at Lundu are under Bandar Sumsu; but, being a resolute people, he cannot do them much wrong. This Bandar Sumsu has lately been disturbing the Lundu Dyaks in the following manner: a Sibnowan Dyak lived with the Lundu Dyaks, which gave him an opening to demand of the Lundus the sum of fifty reals (100 rupees), which was paid; but unluckily the Sibnowan died in the course of a few months, still with the Lundus, and a farther sum of eighty reals, or 160 rupees, was demanded, which not being raised, the daughter of one of the head people was seized, and sold for that sum to a Chinaman!
"Pangeran Macota has likewise been injuring these poor people, though I shall find it difficult to bring it home to him. His agent, Bandar Dowud (a man involved in debt), took fifteen Dyak cloths and sold them, or rather forced them to take them, at an exorbitant rate; in a month or two after, he returns and demands 200 reals over and above the large price already paid for articles worth seven or eight reals; the poor Dyaks not being able to pay, he seizes the chief's daughter (a married woman), and demands four other women in lieu of the sum. Happily for the poor Dyaks, this news came to my ears, and I sent to Lundu in haste. They had all fled, having stolen their two women, one from each Bandar, and carried them away. On the Patingi and Tumangong reaching Lundu, they found two of the tribe, one the Pangeran, the other the father of the girl sold to the Chinaman, after a long search in the jungle. These two men I have now with me, and wait for the Orang Kaya Tumangong before going into the case. The Pangeran is the same Dyak whose conversation I have detailed at large on my first visit to the place. He is a man of intelligence; and this tribe (if it may yet be so called) has always borne the character of being the most hospitable and generous among the Dyaks. I may at some future time revert to them.
"There is a rumor of war between the Sarebus and Sakarran Dyaks, in consequence of the former tribe seizing a Balow woman on the territory of the latter, and refusing to restore her. Let these two predatory tribes employ and weaken one another, and it will be well for us and all the other people of this country, and they will afterward be the more easily brought into subjection.
"From Borneo we have news, but as uncertain as everything else regarding the capital. A hundred vessels, it is reported, are coming to attack them; and they, in consequence, are building a fort. The Royalist had been there and departed.
"Pangeran Usop, it is said, was about to come here, when the arrival of the Royalist induced him to postpone his design.
"There is every reason to believe that the Chinese of Sambas, particularly those of Montrado, are extremely dissatisfied; and a report yesterday states that a man sent by the sultan to demand gold had been killed by them, and that the sultan's letter to the Kunsi, after being defiled, was publicly burned. Our own Chinese of Sipang are certainly intriguing with Sambas; and, as the rajah well expresses it, 'their clothes-box is here, but their treasure-chest is at Sambas.'
"It is impossible to say what quantity of gold the Kunsi may get; but their pretence that they get none must be false, when every common Malay obtains from half to one bunkal per month.
"To counteract the chance of evil, I have intimated that the Simbock Kunsi are to come here; and on the whole, they (of Sipang) have taken it more quietly than I expected. They are not in a state for war; but they have vague notions and intentions provided they can keep out opposition, to make this place subservient to them, as it would indeed be, provided they were allowed to strengthen themselves while the other parties remained stationary. But 'divide and rule' is a good motto in my case; and the Chinese have overlooked the difference between this country and Sambas. There they have numerous rivers in the vicinity of their settlements—here but one; and, the Dyak population being against them, starvation would soon reduce them to terms. The Royalist arrived about the end of March, and sailed again on the 9th April.
"I have before mentioned the difficulty of administering justice; and experience teaches me that the risk to myself, on this score, is more to be apprehended than on any other. The forms I have not much alluded to; and the following is as nearly as possible the Malay custom:—The rajah's brothers and myself sit at one end of the long room in my house; at the sides are the Patingis and Tumangong, and other respectable people; in the center the parties concerned; and, behind them, anybody who wishes to be present. We hear both parties; question, if necessary; and decide—and from this decision there is no appeal. One only condition I insist upon; and that is, that in any intricate case, or whenever I dread confederacy, I do not allow the witnesses to hear each other. The laws of evidence, in a free country, prohibit any leading questions being put to witnesses: here, for the purposes of justice, it is indispensable; for the people, being ruled by fear, and apprehensive of consequences, often falter before the face of the accused, and their testimony has to be wrung from them. To decide also according to the technicalities of construction would be here ridiculous, and defeat the ends of justice. The people are rude and uncivilized; their oppressors crafty and bold, who have no hesitation about lying, and bringing others to lie for them. Oaths are a farce to them. The aggrieved are timid, vacillating, and simple, and cannot readily procure even necessary evidence; for their witnesses are afraid to speak. Under these circumstances, I look at the leading features of the case, the probability, the characters, the position of parties, and determine according to my judgment. It is not, indeed, a very difficult task; for the disputes are generally glaring, and, when bolstered up, usually fail in their most important links; and at a touch of cross-questioning, the witnesses, resolved to tell the same story, fall into opposite ones. In one case, about a slave, three witnesses had resolved on the sex; but, questioned separately as to size and age, all disagreed. They were not prepared. One represented her a woman grown and marriageable; another, as high as my walking-stick; the third, a little child.
"I have now on hand a serious matter, of robbery to a large extent, and three of the rajah's followers are implicated. Would it were over and well!—but done it must be. How little can those at a distance know my difficulties—alone, unaided, the unceasing attention by day, the anxiety and sleeplessness by night, the mountain of doubt upon mountain piled, and the uncertainty of necessary support or assistance!
"The Pangeran of the Lundu Dyaks lived with me three weeks, and I was able to do him substantial justice; and hope for the future that his life, and that of the remnant of his tribe, may be rendered more endurable.
"His residence with me was doubly advantageous, as it enabled me to ascertain his character, and him to see something of our habits and manners. The impression on my part was highly favorable; for I found him a quiet, intelligent man, and a keen observer; and I believe the impression he received was equally favorable. The poetry of the Dyak expressions is remarkable; and, like most wild people, they seem to delight in oratory, and to be a good deal swayed by it. For hours I have talked with the Pangeran, listened to his history, heard his complaints, sympathized in the misfortunes of his tribe, and shuddered at the wrongs and sufferings they have endured. 'We are few,' he exclaimed, 'and therefore our oppressions are aggravated; the same demands are made upon us as though we were many, and we have not the means of resisting or complying. We fly to the jungle; we are like deer—we have no home, no perch. Our wives and children are taken from us; our sufferings are very great.' On another occasion he said, 'I have felt my sufferings to be so great, that I wished to die, if Jovata would permit it. I wished to die; for I remembered how happy we were once, and how miserable now.' I could dwell largely on these and suchlike language and descriptions, which appear to me highly pathetic and touching—at least I found them so in reality; and I cannot forbear adding one or two more such, highly characteristic.
"'Our home,' said the Pangeran, 'was a happy one; none who came to us wanted. The fruit on the trees was saved; the fish in the river near us was never destroyed. Rice was plenty; if it was scarce, we kept it, and fed ourselves upon vegetables, that we might give it to those who visited our habitation. The fish, the fruit, and the rice were preserved,  that the men of the seas (Malays) might eat of them; yet they had no pity on us. We were free men, yet they treated us worse than slaves. We are now but few; and unless you protect us, we shall soon cease to be.' Again: 'The Tumangong was severe to us; and when Macota came, he said the Tumangong was a bad man, and he would shield us; but he was much worse than the Tumangong. Now, you say you will cherish us; we believe you; but you are at a distance, and perhaps may not be able.' Further: 'Pangeran Macota kept me nine months in his house, and wanted to make me a slave; but I escaped, and traveled through the woods, and swam the rivers, till I came to my own country. He thought the Dyak had no eyes except in the jungle; he thought he had no ears except to listen to the bird of omen; he thought he had no wit except to grow rice; but the Dyak saw, and heard, and understood, that while his words were sweet, his heart was crooked, and that, whether they were men of the sea or Dyaks, he deceived them with fair sayings; he said one thing to one man, and another to a second; he deceived with a honied mouth. I saw and understood it all while I lived in his house. How could I trust him afterward?' These expressions were concluded by significantly twisting his two fore-fingers round each other, to show the intrigues that were carried on. I grew very fond of this poor naked savage; for if honesty and a kind heart entitle a man to our esteem, he is worthy of it.
"I had a long conference with Si Nimook, the Sow Dyak, and hope to recover his wife. Amid all the wealth and all the charity of England, how well bestowed would a small portion be for the purpose of restoring one hundred and fifty women and children to their husbands and parents, and releasing them from slavery! A small rill from the plenteous river would cheer this distant misery, and bestow the blessing of fertility on the now barren soil of these poor Dyaks. Oh, that I had the brass to beg—to draw out a piteous tale so as to touch the heart!"
Ascent of the left-hand river to the Stabad.—Remarkable cave in the Tubbang.—Diamond works at Suntah.—Return.—Infested by Dyak pirates.—A meeting of prahus, and fight.—Seriff Sahib's treatment of the Suntah Dyaks.—Expedition against the Singe.—Their invasion of the Sigos, and taking heads.—The triumph over these trophies.—Arms and modes of war.—Hot and cold council-houses.—Ceremonies in the installation of the Orang Kaya Steer Rajah.—Meeting of various Dyak tribes.—Hostile plans of Seriff Sahib, and their issue.—Resolves to proceed to Borneo Proper.
The next portion of Mr. Brooke's Journal details another excursion up the country, and then proceeds to describe the early incidents of his infant government. As he advanced on his way, affairs began to assume more important aspects; and yet they could hardly be painted with greater force or interest than in his simple notes.
"April 25th.—Ascended the left-hand river, in order to introduce the Kunsi Simbock to their new territory; passed the night on a pebbly bank; moon at full, bright and unclouded, tinging the luxuriant foliage, and glancing on the clear rapid stream. Four distinct and distant races met on this lonely and lovely spot—English, Chinese, Malays, and Dyaks! What a scope for poetry and reflection—the time, the clime, the spot, and the company!
"26th.—After our morning meal and bath, entered the small river Stabad, which, according to report, runs from a source two or three days' journey further into the interior. At present it is so obstructed by fallen trees, that we were forced to return, after ascending about four miles. We left our boats near its entrance, and walked to the small but steep mountain, Tubbang. Its length may be about 400 feet. After mounting, by a winding path, about half-way up toward the top, we arrived at the entrance of a cave, into which we descended through a hole. It is fifty or sixty feet long, and the far end is supported on a colonnade of stalactites, and opens on a sheer precipice of 100 or 150 feet. Hence the spectator can overlook the distant scene; the forest lies at his feet, and only a few trees growing from the rock reach nearly to the level of the grotto. The effect is striking and panoramic; the grotto cheerful; floored with fine sand; the roof groined like Gothic, whence the few clear drops which filter through form here and there the fantastic stalactites common to such localities. The natives report the cave to be the residence of a fairy queen; and they show her bed, pillow, and other of her household furniture. Within the cave we found a few remnants of human bones; probably some poor Dyak who had crawled there to die.
"Having finished our survey of the place, and wandered sufficiently about the mount, we reembarked, and dropped a short way down the river, and started again into the jungle to look for antimony ore, but without success, our guide having forgotten the road. After a couple of hours' wandering, the latter part in a heavy storm of rain, we reached the boats; and I thence ascended to Suntah, where we were all glad to house ourselves, as the deluge continued.
"27th.—I will say nothing of my works at Suntah, except that they run away with my money, are badly conducted by my Chinese hadji, and, above all, that I have great reason to suspect the integrity and steadiness of this said hadji. I must therefore make up my mind either to change him when the business is finished, or to watch him very narrowly; for the honesty of a diamond-worker, like the virtue of Caesar's wife, must be above suspicion, or he must be watched closely; but how?
"28th.—Descended the river, and, arriving at Sarawak, found both work and cause for inquietude. The rajah had heard of Dyak pirates, and dispatched four boats, two large and two small: the Snake, weakly manned by the Tumangong's people, and the rest led by Pangerans (who neither work nor fight) and a wretched crew, chiefly Borneons. Mr. Crimble, taking my servant Peter and four Javanese, went most imprudently in the second of the large boats. The whole, being dispatched in haste (foolish haste), insufficiently provided in every respect, may fall into trouble, and involve me in very unpleasant circumstances.
"The other cause for uneasiness is the attack of a Chinese boat at the mouth of the river. The boat that attacked her is a small one, with eight or ten men, which came out of Sadong, and had been lying here for a week or more. She is commanded by a Pangeran named Badrudeen, has some Illanuns on board, and is bound on a piratical cruise. As she descended the river, she met with the small China boat, likewise from Sambas, with eight men, which she treacherously assailed, desperately wounding one man and severely another; but the China boat's consort heaving in sight, the pirate pulled away. I must redress this, if it be in my power; and have ordered the Datus to gather men to follow the rascals, as it is probable they will be lurking not far from hence. In the mean time it gave me great pain dressing the hurts of these poor Chinese, one of whom I think must die, being cut along the back and side—across the body from the side nearly to the backbone, a ghastly gaping wound, beside having his arm slashed through. The other man is very severely, and perhaps, without medical attendance, mortally, hurt, having his arm half cut through at the muscular development between the shoulder and elbow—poor fellow! I must say for the Chinese, they seem very grateful for any attention shown them.
"29th.—My birthday. Men collected, and to-morrow we start for Telang Telang. This morning, much to my relief, our fleet returned, after an encounter with thirteen Dyak boats. About one o'clock on the 28th, pulling into a bay between Morotaba and Tanjong Poe, they came unexpectedly on them. One Borneon boat had lagged behind; the Pangeran who commanded deserted the second, and sought refuge with the Tumangong, trying to induce him to fly; and the crew of the third, a large boat with my two Europeans on board, was, by their account, in a state of fear, which totally incapacitated them from acting. All rose, none would pull; all shouted, none would serve the guns; all commanded, none obeyed; most were screaming out to run; all bellowing out, in hopes of frightening the enemy; none to direct the helm. The Tumangong, with only seventeen men in all, insisted on advance; and the Borneons, encouraged by threats from the Europeans, and the good example of the Javanese, did not fly. The two boats opened their fire; the Dyaks retreated in confusion and alarm: but from the tumult, the noise, and the rocking of the boat, Mr. Crimble could only fire three times with the bow six-pounder carronade, and from other guns loaded with grape and canister, while the rascally Borneons never fired at all. The Dyaks suffered loss, and left behind them clothes, rice, fish, cooking-pots, swords, &c.; and, considering the state of the Borneons, it was lucky the dread of our prowess put them to flight so easily. Crimble assured me that, with a Siniawan crew, he could have destroyed half their force. The Dyaks behaved very well, pulling off with great steadiness and without noise.
"June 20th.—The events of the month may be compressed into a narrative comprising the internal and external.
"The internal state of the country is decidedly improving and flourishing, and bears the aspect of gradually increasing prosperity. Justice has been strictly administered. Robberies, which a few months ago were of nightly occurrence, are now rarely heard of; and that vile intriguing to make poor people slaves, from debt or false claims, is entirely stopped.
"The people who had scattered at the close of the war have been collected, and are building their houses a short way up the river at the Campong Jekiso, which, when finished, will be a neat-looking village.
"The Pangeran Macota is intriguing; but as he is sure to do that, it need not be insisted upon.
"Muda Hassim is true and agreeable, and entirely reconciled to the Patingi and Tumangongs; so far, indeed, nothing can be better than our internal state: there is peace, there is plenty; the poor are not harassed, and justice is done to all.
"The Dyaks of the interior are improving and content, and gaining courage daily to complain of any wrong that may be offered them. To the sena, or forced trade, I have almost put a stop, by confiscating the goods wherever met with; and this plan once acted on, the Dyaks have not been slow to bring me bundles of bidongs (Dyak cloths), iron, and the like.
"The tribes that continue unsettled are the Suntah and Singe: the affairs of the latter I will mention hereafter.
"Suntah has been for a long time under the government of Seriff Sahib of Sadong, and through his paternal charge has dwindled away from four hundred to fifty or sixty families. Shortly after my assuming the reins of government, he dispatched (according to custom) a mixed party of Malays and Dyaks, and falling on my helpless tribe of Sanpro, killed some, and carried away twenty women and children into captivity. I was not strong enough to resent the injury; but wrote him a strong letter, demanding the women, and telling him he was not to send, under any pretext, into my country. The women I did not get; but I heard that the communication frightened him: for, of course, they deem I am backed by all the power of my country. While the Royalist still lay here, I heard that his people were raising the revenue from the Suntah Dyaks; but it must be remarked, that the Suntah are on the edge of my territory, having left the former location. As this was done in the face of my caution not to intermeddle without my consent, I resolved at once to put the matter to the issue; and having armed four boats, went up and seized all the rice and padi collected for my neighbors' use. The Suntah Dyaks were and are alarmed to a pitiable degree; for they fear Seriff Sahib with good reason; and yet my being on the spot gave them no option of evading my demand. Thus the matter was brought to a crisis; and having taken the revenue (as it was called) for the poor Dyaks themselves, I shall be able to keep them from starvation, to the verge of which, so early in the season, they are already reduced. The Dyaks remain unsettled; but I am now in hopes of bringing them to the interior of the Quop, which is further within our own territory. Muda Hassim wrote to Seriff Sahib to tell him the Dyaks were no longer his, but mine; and Seriff Sahib, sore-hearted, conspired against us, and held for some time a higher tone than his wont.
"I shall now narrate my proceedings at the mountain of Singe, from which I have just returned. The mountain, with its groves of fruit-trees, has been already described; and as a preface to my present description, I must particularize the circumstances of the Dyak tribe of Singe. The tribe consists of at least 800 males, the most ignorant, and therefore the most wild, of the Dyaks of my country; and, from their position, they have never been overcome or ruined, and are therefore a rich community, and proportionately independent. Their old chief is by name Parembam, and the Panglima, or head-warrior, his younger brother, by name Si Tummo. These men have for a very long time ruled this tribe; and the elder has certainly acquired from the Malays a portion of cunning and intrigue, and lost the general simplicity of the native Dyak character. He is unquestionably a man of ability. His sway, however, on the mountain has for a long time been unpopular; and a large proportion of the people, dissatisfied with his extortions, have been attached to a younger chief, by name Bibit. Some time past, finding it impossible to manage this old chief, Parembam, and being convinced that the change might readily be made, I called Bibit, and made him chief, or Orang Kaya of the tribe. Parembam neither was nor is inclined to give up his authority without a struggle; and though the mass adhere to the new chief, by title 'Steer Rajah,' yet Parembam's long-established customs, his great wealth, and his talents, render him a dangerous old man to the younger leader. One quality, however, Parembam is deficient in, as well as his brother the Panglima, and that is bravery; and on this much depends in a Dyak tribe. Steer Rajah, on the contrary, has always been renowned in war, and is the envied possessor of many heads. The Dyaks have among them a fashion which they call bunkit, or vaunting; for instance, in the present case Steer Rajah and Parembam dared each other to go on excursions to procure heads, i. e. against their enemies—this is bunkit. One of Steer Rajah's followers went accordingly, and quickly procured the head of a hostile warrior far out of my territory; and on the return of the party, Parembam in turn sent forty men to Simpoke, which is a tribe attached to Samarahan, and on our immediate border. Close to the Dyaks of Simpoke live a party of the Sigo Dyaks, who belong to me; and this party of Parembam's, confounding friends and enemies, killed some of the Sigo Dyaks—how many is not certain. The Sigos, taking the alarm, cut off their retreat, and killed two of the Singe Dyaks; and many beside were wounded by sudas and ranjows, and, all broken, fled back to their own country. Thus, though they obtained five heads, they lost two, and those belonging to their principal warriors. This news reaching me, I hurried up to the hill, and arrived just after part of the war-party had brought the heads.
"I may here remark, that I have positively forbidden the Dyak tribes within my territory to war one upon the other; and this, therefore, was a serious offence against me on the part of Parembam. At once to aim at more than this restriction would be fruitless, and even risk my ability to effect this first step on the road to improvement. I likewise came up here to go through the ceremony of installing the Orang Kaya Steer Rajah in his office; and thus I have had an excellent opportunity of seeing their customs and manners. What follows will be a personal narration, or nearly so, of what I have seen; and it applies, with slight difference, to almost all the interior tribes.
"On our ascending the mountain, we found the five heads carefully watched, about half a mile from the town, in consequence of the non-arrival of some of the war-party. They had erected a temporary shed close to the place where these miserable remnants of noisome mortality were deposited; and they were guarded by about thirty young men in their finest dresses, composed principally of scarlet jackets ornamented with shells, turbans of the native bark-cloth dyed bright yellow, and spread on the head, and decked with an occasional feather, flower, or twig of leaves. Nothing can exceed their partiality for these trophies; and in retiring from the 'war-path,' the man who has been so fortunate as to obtain a head hangs it about his neck, and instantly commences his return to his tribe. If he sleep on the way, the precious burden, though decaying and offensive, is not loosened, but rests on his lap, while his head (and nose!) reclines on his knees. The retreat is always silently made until close to home, when they set up a wild yell, which announces their victory and the possession of its proofs. It must, therefore, be considered, that these bloody trophies are the evidences of victory—the banner of the European, the flesh-pot of the Turk, the scalp of the North American Indian—and that they are torn from enemies, for taking heads is the effect and not the cause of war. On our reaching the Balei, or public hall, of the Orang Kaya Steer Rajah, I immediately called a number of their chiefs together, and opened a conference with them on the subject of Parembam having attacked and killed the Dyaks of Sigo. They all disapproved of it most highly, asserting that the Sigos were their younger brothers; that no sufficient cause had ever existed; that Parembam had acted badly, and must pay to purchase peace. Were they, I asked, willing to force Parembam into payment? They were. Would they insist on the heads being restored to the Sigos, and receive those of their own people? They would!
"It may be observed, that their causes for war, as well as its progress and termination, are exactly the same as those of other people. They dispute about the limits of their respective lands; about theft committed by one tribe upon another; about occasional murders; the crossing each other on the war-path; and about a thousand other subjects.
"When a tribe is on a warlike excursion, it often happens that their track (or 'trail') is crossed by another tribe. Those who strike the trail guard it at some convenient spot, apprehending the party to be enemies; they plant ranjows in the path, and wait till the returning party are involved among them to make an attack. If enemies, and they succeed, all is well; but if friends, though no attack be made, it is a serious offence, and mostly gives occasion to war if not paid for. The progress of the contest consists in attacking each other by these surprises, particularly about the time of sowing, weeding, and cutting the rice-crops. When one party is weaker, or less active, or less warlike than the other, they solicit a peace through some tribe friendly to both, and pay for the lives they have taken: the price is about two gongs, value 33 1/2 reals, for each life: thus peace is concluded. This is the custom with these Dyaks universally; but it is otherwise with the Sarebus and Sakarran. But Sarebus and Sakarran are not fair examples of Dyak life, as they are pirates as well as head-hunters, and do not hesitate to destroy all persons they meet with.
"Parembam, having been called before me, declared that these heads belonged to the Simpoke Dyaks, and that they had not attacked the Sigos. As I was not quite certain of the fact, I thought it unjust to proceed against him till I had stronger proof.
"On the following morning the heads were brought up to the village, attended by a number of young men all dressed in their best, and were carried to Parembam's house amid the beating of gongs and the firing of one or two guns. They were then disposed of in a conspicuous place in the public hall of Parembam. The music sounded and the men danced the greater part of the day; and toward evening carried them away in procession through all the campongs except three or four just about me. The women, in these processions, crowd round the heads as they proceed from house to house, and put sirih and betel-nut in the mouths of the ghastly dead, and welcome them! After this they are carried back in the same triumph, deposited in an airy place, and left to dry. During this process, for seven, eight, or ten days, they are watched by the boys of the age of six to ten years; and during this time they never stir from the public hall—they are not permitted to put their foot out of it while engaged in this sacred trust. Thus are the youths initiated.
"For a long time after the heads are hung up, the men nightly meet and beat their gongs, and chant addresses to them, which were rendered thus to me: 'Your head is in our dwelling, but your spirit wanders to your own country.' 'Your head and your spirit are now ours: persuade, therefore, your countrymen to be slain by us.' 'Speak to the spirits of your tribe: let them wander in the fields, that when we come again to their country we may get more heads, and that we may bring the heads of your brethren, and hang them by your head,' &c. The tone of this chant is loud and monotonous, and I am not able to say how long it is sung; but certainly for a month after the arrival of the heads, as one party here had had a head for that time, and were still exhorting it.
"These are their customs and modes of warfare; and I may conclude by saying that, though their trophies are more disgusting, yet their wars are neither so bloody, nor their cruelties so great, as those of the North American Indian. They slay all they meet with of their enemies—men, women, and children; but this is common to all wild tribes. They have an implacable spirit of revenge as long as the war lasts, retort evil for evil, and retaliate life for life; and, as I have before said, the heads are the trophies, as the scalps are to the red men. But, on the contrary, they never torture their enemies, nor do they devour them; and peace can always be restored among them by a very moderate payment. In short, there is nothing new in their feelings, or in their mode of showing them; no trait remarkable for cruelty; no head-hunting for the sake of head-hunting. They act precisely on the same impulses as other wild men: war arises from passion or interest; peace from defeat or fear. As friends, they are faithful, just, and honest; as enemies, blood-thirsty and cunning, patient on the war-path, and enduring fatigue, hunger, and want of sleep, with cheerfulness and resolution. As woodmen they are remarkably acute; and on all their excursions carry with them a number of ranjows, which, when they retreat, they stick in behind them, at intervals, at a distance of twenty, fifty, or a hundred yards, so that a hotly-pursuing enemy gets checked, and many severely wounded. Their arms consist of a sword, an iron-headed spear, a few wooden spears, a knife worn at the right side, with a sirih-pouch, or small basket. Their provision is a particular kind of sticky rice, boiled in bamboos. When once they have struck their enemies, or failed, they return, without pausing, to their homes.
"To proceed with my journal. My principal object in coming up the hill was, to appoint the Orang Kaya Steer Rajah as the chief, beside Pagise as Panglima, or head warrior, and Pa Bobot as Pangeran, or revenue officer. It was deemed by these worthy personages quite unfit that this ceremony should take place in the public hall or circular house, as that was the place wherein the heads are deposited, and where they hold councils of war.
"With the Dyaks, all council is divided into hot and cold; peace, friendship, good intentions, are all included under the latter head—war, &c., are under the former. Hot is represented by red, and cold by white. So in everything they make this distinction; and as the public hall is the place for war-councils and war-trophies, it is hot in the extreme, unfit for friendly conference. A shed was therefore erected close to the Orang Kaya's house, wherein the ceremony was to take place. About nine in the evening we repaired to the scene; loud music, barbarous but not unpleasing, resounded, and we took our seats on mats in the midst of our Dyak friends. A feast was in preparation; and each guest (if I may call them such) brought his share of rice in bamboos, and laid it on the general stock. As one party came up after another, carrying their burning logs, the effect was very good; and they kept arriving until the place and its vicinity was literally crammed with human beings. A large antique sirih-box was placed in the midst; and I contributed that greatest of luxuries, tobacco.
"The feast, in the mean time, was in preparation, some of the principal people being employed in counting the number who were to eat, and dividing the bamboos into exactly equal portions for each person. About six inches were allotted to every man; and it took a very long time to divide it, for they are remarkably particular as to the proper size and quantity to each share. The bamboos of rice being, however, at length satisfactorily disposed, the Orang Kaya produced as his share a large basin full of sauce, composed of salt and chilis, and a small stock of sweetmeats; and then the ceremony of his installation commenced as follows:
"A jacket, a turban, a cloth for the loins, and a kris (all of white) were presented to the chief as a token of sejiek dingin, or cold, i.e. good. The chief then rose, and, taking a white fowl and waving it over the eatables, repeated nearly the following words:—(The commencement, however, is curious enough to dwell upon: the opening is a sort of invocation, beginning with the phrase, 'Samungut, Simungi.' Samungut is a Malay word, Simungi signifying the same in Dyak; the exact meaning it is difficult to comprehend; but it is here understood as some principle, spirit, or fortune, which is in men and things. Thus the Dyaks, in stowing their rice at harvest, do it with great care, from a superstitious feeling that the Simungi of the padi will escape. They now call this principle to be present—that of men, of pigs (their favorite animal), of padi, and of fruits. They particularly named my Simungi, that of my ancestors, of the Pangeran from Borneo, of the Datus and of their ancestors, and of the ancestors of their own tribe. They call them—that is, their Simungi—to be present. They then call upon Jovata to grant their prayer, that the great man from Europe, and the Datus, might hold the government for a length of time)—'May the government be cold' (good); 'May there be rice in our houses;' 'May many pigs be killed;' 'May male children be born to us;' 'May fruit ripen;' 'May we be happy, and our goods abundant;' 'We declare ourselves to be true to the great man and the Datus; what they wish we will do, what they command is our law.' Having said this and much more, the fowl was taken by a leading Malay, who repeated the latter words, while others bound strips of white cloth round the heads of the multitude. The fowl was then killed, the blood shed in a bamboo, and each man dipping his finger in the blood, touched his forehead and breast, in attestation of his fidelity. The fowl was now carried away to be cooked: and when brought back, placed with the rest of the feast, and the dancing commenced. The chief, coming forward, uttered a loud yell ending in 'ish,' which was oftentimes repeated during the dance. He raised his hands to his forehead, and taking a dish, commenced dancing to lively music. Three other old chief men followed his example; each uttering the yell and making the salute, but without taking the dish. They danced with arms extended, turning the body frequently, taking very small steps, and little more than lifting their feet from the ground. Thus they turned backward and forward, passed in and out of the inner rooms, and frequently repeating the yell, and making the salutation to me. The dish, in the mean time, was changed from one to the other: there was little variety, no gesticulation, no violence; and, though not deficient in native grace, yet the movements were by no means interesting. The dance over, the feast commenced; and everything was carried on with great gravity and propriety. I left them shortly after they began to eat, and retired, very fagged, to my bed, or rather, to my board; for sitting cross-legged for several hours is surely a great infliction.
"I may add to this account that, while writing it, the Dyak land-tribes of Siquong, Sibaduh, and Goon, sent their deputies to me. These people are not under any Malay government, and it is now for the first time they have trusted themselves as far as Sarawak. They have an objection to drinking the river-water, and expressed great surprise at the flood-tide. Their confidence is cheering to me, and will, I trust, be advantageous to themselves. Their trade in rice is very considerable: and toward Sambas they exchange eight or ten pasus of rice for one of salt.
"Our conference was pleasing. They desired protection, they desired trade. 'They had all heard, the whole world had heard, that a son of Europe was a friend to the Dyaks.' My visitors drank Batavia arrack with great gusto, declaring all the time it was not half so good as their own; however, at a pinch anything will do. Some other Dyaks met these strangers; they were not adversaries, and so they chewed sirih, and drank grog in company; but among enemies this may not be: they can neither eat nor drink in company without desiring a reconciliation. I may add, that the Siquong tribe consists of at least four hundred families, with forty public halls, or baleis, for heads. A Dyak family cannot be estimated at fewer than twelve people, which will give four thousand eight hundred or five thousand people. Sibaduh and Goon may be about seventy-five families: beside these, Si Panjong and Sam Penex want to come in to me, which will give one hundred and one more families. What might be done with these people, if I had a little more power and a little assistance!
"I was going to close my account of the Dyaks; but I had scarcely penned the last sentence when a large party of Singe Dyaks and five Dyaks of Sigo arrived—thus all these enemies meeting. In the conference which followed, the Singe allowed they were wrong in attacking Sigo, and laid all the blame on the old chief, Parembam. They likewise allowed it to be just that Parembam should be forced to pay, and conclude a peace. With the Goon and Sibaduh Dyaks they had long been at enmity; but they agreed to make peace if Sibaduh would pay two gongs, formerly demanded, as the price of peace. The Sibaduh, however, did not allow the justice of the demand; but the parties were reconciled so far as that each promised to maintain a truce and to eat together: and the Singes declared they would not attack the Sibaduhs on account of the two gongs, but obtain them in a friendly conference. I have (being hurried) briefly mentioned these circumstances, which took a long time to settle, as the Dyaks are very fond of speechifying, which they do sitting, without action or vivacity, but with great fluency, and using often highly metaphysical and elegant language. It was a great nuisance having fifty naked savages in the house all night, extended in the hall and the anterooms. They finished a bottle of gin, and then slept; and I could not avoid remarking that their sleep was light, such as temperance, health, and exercise bestow. During many hours I heard but one man snore, while half the number of Europeans would have favored me with a concert sufficient to banish rest.
"I shall now briefly mention our foreign policy for the last few months.
"For a time we were annoyed with incessant reports of their coming to attack us in force; but, though scarcely believing they would be bold enough, I took precautions, pushed on the completion of our boats, built a fort, and made a fence round the village. These precautions taken, and fifteen boats in the water ready for action, I cared very little, though the news reached me that Byong, the Sarebus chief, had hung a basket on a high tree which was to contain my head.
"Sadong.—Our relations with Seriff Sahib were very unsettled; and by the bullying tone of the people of Singe I thought it probable he might be induced to measure his strength, backed by the Sakarran Dyaks, against us. I have already mentioned his attack upon my Dyaks of Sanpro, and the second dispute about the Suntah Dyaks; in the first of these he came off with impunity; in the second I met him with success, and out-manoeuvered him, and wrested the Dyaks from him. Shortly after the transactions at Suntah, a boat of Sakarran Dyaks came to Sarawak nominally to trade, but in reality to tamper with the fidelity of the Datus and others. They proposed to the Tumangong to join Seriff Sahib, stating that they were sent by him to try all the people here. 'They had been ruined here; Seriff Sahib would restore them their property; and if they left Muda Hassim, James Brooke, and the Chinese, they could afterward easily make a prey of the Dyaks and Chinese, with Seriff Sahib's assistance, and get plenty of slaves.'
"The plan proposed for the removal was as follows:—Seriff Sahib, with forty Malay boats, and the Sakarrans with one hundred boats, were to request permission from Muda Hassim to attack the Dyak tribe of Siquong, and under this pretence were to come up the river, when the Datus were to join, with their wives and children, and all were to take flight together. The Tumangong told me this as soon as he heard it himself; and, to make sure, I sent Patingi Gapoor to fish their story out of them, which he did most successfully. Being assured of the fact, I called the Dyaks, and, before some dozens of our people and one or two persons from Singe, taxed them with their guilt. They were obliged to confess, and insisted upon it that Seriff Sahib had sent them, &c. Many urged me to put these Dyaks to death; but the reluctance we all have to shedding blood withheld me, and I had no desire to strike at a wren when a foul vulture was at hand. I dismissed the emissaries scot-free, and then both Muda Hassim and myself indited letters to Seriff Sahib, that of Muda Hassim being severe but dignified. Before they were dispatched, an ambassador arrived from Singe with letters both to the rajah and myself, disclaiming warmly all knowledge of the treachery, swearing the most solemn oaths in proof of his truth, and declaring that, so far from having committed so shameful an action, he had never even dreamed of such a thing in his worst dreams, as he hoped that God would save him. Our letters were sent before his ambassador was received, and a second disclaimer, like the first, quickly reached us. Of course it was my policy, whatever my opinion might be, to receive his offers of friendship and to believe all he said; and, therefore, the matter ended, and ended so far well, that Seriff Sahib lowered his former tone; and, certainly, whatever he may desire in his heart, or dream of, he wants to be well with us here, and, I can see, fears us. I am content, because I really wish for peace, and not war; Muda Hassim is content, because he has humbled Seriff Sahib, and acted decisively; and the seriff is content as the fiend in the infernal regions. I leave it to all gentle readers to form their own opinion of his truth or treachery; but I must hint to them my private opinion that he did send agents to tempt, and would have gained the Datus if he could; and as for his oaths, my belief is, he would swear a basketful of the most sacred before breakfast to support a lie, and yet not lose his appetite! The Datus were too old, and knew him too well, to be caught in his trap.
"Seriff Sahib has now sent a fleet of boats up the Sarebus river; but the result I do not yet know.
"To conclude our foreign policy, I must mention Borneo Proper.
"My great object is to reconcile Muda Hassim and the sultan, and to restore the former to Borneo, before the coming of Mr. Bonham on his diplomatic mission. To effect this, I have resolved to proceed myself; and Muda Hassim, equally anxious, has letters and two of his brothers ready to accompany me. If we can gain this object, I shall be firmly established, and relieved from the intriguing, mean, base Borneons. And it will be an advantage to the government measure, in as far as they will be enabled to form their arrangements with all instead of a single faction of the Borneo Pangerans. From all I hear, Muda Hassim is more powerful than either the sultan or Pangeran Usop; and if he appeals to arms, I am assured he will carry his point, and become the sovereign of Borneo virtually, if not nominally.
"The Royalist now waits for us at the mouth of the river, which I hope to reach on the 14th, this being the 12th July. Heigh for the sea once more! But yet, though I go, I take my cares with me, and but for the necessity, the absolute necessity, of bringing the Borneo question to a crisis, good or bad, I would fain stop where I am. For even during one short month's absence I fear my poor people will suffer from the intrigues of the rascally Borneo Pangerans. In this I do not include Muda Hassim, who, with a most amiable private character, and with integrity and good faith, desires to do right, as far as his education and prejudices will permit. It is sad to reflect that this very prince, who really wishes to do good, and to conduce to the comfort of his people, should, from want of energy, have been so fearful an oppressor, through the agency of others; and it is not here alone that vile agents for vile purposes are plentiful."
Visit of Captain Elliott.—Mr. Brooke sails for Borneo Proper.—Arrival.—Visited by leading men.—Condition of the country.—Reception by the Sultan.—Objects in view.—The different chiefs, and communications with them.—The Sultan and his Pangerans.—Objects of the visit accomplished.—Return to Sarawak.—Ceremonies of the cession.—Sail for Singapore.
After Mr. Brooke's return from his expedition against the Singe Dyak chief Parembam, he was visited by his friend Captain Elliott, of the Madras engineers, whose acquaintance I had the pleasure of subsequently making at Singapore. He is, as Mr. Brooke describes him, "a man of science and education, and the best of good fellows." During his stay at Sarawak, he established his observatory, and all its apparatus; and a shed (now converted into a goat-house) will always retain the appellation of "the Observatory." Mr. Brooke and Captain Elliott appear to have made some very amusing and agreeable excursions up the different rivers, an account of which is given in the journal; but I shall pass it over, as I am anxious to follow my friend through with his government up to the time of my meeting him at Singapore.
"Thursday, July 14th.—We were to have started on this most lucky day at ten o'clock, but what with innumerable preparations and delays, it was near six before the rajah was ready to dismiss the procession; and my alarm became considerable that, Friday (an unlucky day) having commenced by the native reckoning, we should again be postponed till Sunday. However, by making six o'clock five, and keeping back the watches to suit our purpose, our departure was achieved. The state spears and swords were brought forth. The letters for the sultan, in their brass tray covered with embroidered cloth, were duly mounted, with the greatest reverence, on the head of Bandar Sumsu; and nothing remained but to take leave. The rajah addressed a few words to his brothers, requesting them to tell the sultan that his heart was always with him; that he could never separate from him, whether far or near; and that he was, and always had been, true to his son. Budrudeen then rose, and approaching the rajah, seated himself close to him, bending his head to the ground over his hand, which he had grasped. The rajah hastily withdrew his hand, and clasping him round, embraced, kissing his neck. Both were greatly agitated and both wept, and I could have wept for company, for it was no display of state ceremony, but genuine feeling. It is seldom, very seldom, they show their feelings; and the effect was the more touching from being unexpected; beside, it is a part of our nature (one's better nature) to feel when we see others feel. Pangeran Marsale followed; both brothers likewise parted with Muda Mahammed in the same way, and they certainly rose in my opinion from this token of affection toward each other. My adieus followed; we all rose; the rajah accompanied us to the wharf; and as we embarked, I could see the tears slowly steal from his eyes. I could not help taking his hand, and bidding him be of good cheer; he smiled in a friendly manner, pressed my hand, and I stepped into my boat. Our gongs struck up; the barge, decorated with flags and streamers, was towed slowly along against the flood-tide; the guns fired from the wharf, from the Chinese houses, and from our fort, and we passed along in all the pomp and pride of Sarawak state. It was dusk when we got down to the first reach, and there we brought up to wait for the ebb."
I shall omit that part of my friend's journal containing his remarks and observations along the coast between Sarawak and the entrance of the Borneo river. On the 21st July his narration continues thus:
"I must now leave geography, and turn to politics. On casting anchor we acted on a plan previously formed, and sent off the gig, with Seriff Hussein and Nakoda Ahmed, to the city, to intimate my arrival, and that of the rajah's brothers, with letters from Muda Hassim. I trusted to their dread of and curiosity about the English expedition to insure my reception; but I gave particular directions, in case the sultan asked about me, that my ambassadors were to say I was here; that I had been corresponding about the English coming; that I was not a man in authority, or belonging to the East India Company; and that they were sure I should not land unless he invited me to come and see him. To show eagerness would have raised suspicion; backwardness excites the contrary feeling, and a desire to entertain some intercourse.
"July 22d.—At the unconscionable hour of 2 A.M., a mob of Pangerans came on board, in number not fewer than fifty, and with a multitude of followers. They awoke us out of our first sleep, and crowded the vessel above and below, so that we could scarce find room to make our toilet in public, while the heat was suffocating us. However, we did manage it, and sat talking till daylight. Our visitors were chiefly relations or adherents of Muda Hassim, and some of the first men in the country. Pangeran Budrudeen and Pangeran Marsale were in their glory, and happy; and it was evident at once that our affairs were likely to succeed to our heart's content. All were anxious and eager in inquiries about Muda Hassim, and wishing his return. The sultan, Pangeran Usop, Pangeran Mumin, and others declared, 'Borneo could never be well till he came back.' In short, it was clear that the country was in distress and difficulty from within: trade ruined, piracy abounding, the mouth of the river unsafe, their forts insulted by the pirates, the communication with their dependencies cut off, food dear, and the tobacco, which comes from the northward, not to be had. Everything conspires to forward Muda Hassim's views and mine; and during this conversation, it was evident they were looking to me as a friend.
"At daylight a boat from the sultan arrived to carry up the letters; but Budrudeen and his brother resolved to proceed first, in order to make sure of an honorable reception for the chop. At 7 o'clock there was a stir. I saw them over the side with delight, and gave them a salute with pleasure. Breakfast done, I was too happy to lie down, and slept till past midday, having then only to wait for Budrudeen's return.