The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido - For the Suppression of Piracy
by Henry Keppel
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"23d.—Budrudeen came at 3 P.M., bringing with him good news of the most favorable reception from all parties, all wishing for reconciliation and the return of Muda Hassim. To-morrow, boats are to come for the letters, which are to be conveyed in state. The day following I am to go up, and am likewise to be received in all honorable form.

"24th.—At 7 A.M. the state-boat, a shabby concern, decorated with yellow flags, arrived, and at eight the letters were borne away under a salute. Thus we had a second time the satisfaction of getting rid of the mob at an early hour.

"25th.—At 9 1/2 A.M. I started with Williamson in the gig, with the long-boat in company, carrying the presents. On approaching the town, before the ebb had run long, it appeared to be a very Venice of hovels, a river Cybele rising from the water. For those who like it, the locality is not ill chosen. The hills recede from the river, and form an amphitheatre; and several other rivers or streams flowing in, cause a muddy deposit, on which the houses are built. At high water they are surrounded; at low water stand on a sheet of mud. On nearing it, we were encompassed by boats which preceded and followed us, and we passed the floating market, where women, wearing immense hats of palm-leaves, sell all sorts of edibles, balanced in their little canoes, now giving a paddle, now making a bargain, and dropping down with the tide, and again regaining their place when the bargain is finished. The first impression of the town is miserable. The houses are crowded and numerous, and even the palace does not present a more captivating aspect, for, though large, it is as incommodious as the worst. Our presentation was exactly similar to that of our first meeting with Muda Hassim at Sarawak, only the crowd was much greater. We had been seated but a few minutes when Pangeran Usop arrived, and directly afterward the sultan. He gave us tea, leaf-cigars, and sirih, and, in short, showed us every attention; and what was best of all did not keep us very long. Our apartment was partitioned off from the public hall, a dark-looking place, but furnished with a table brought by us, and three rickety chairs, beside matresses and plenty of mats. We were kept up nearly all night, which, after the fatigues of the day, was hard upon us.

"Further observation confirmed us in the opinion that the town itself is miserable, and its locality on the mud fitted only for frogs or natives; but there is a level dry plain above the entrance of the Kiangi river, admirably suited for a European settlement; and across the Kiangi is swelling ground, where the residents might find delightful spots for their country-houses. The greatest annoyance to a stranger is the noisome smell of the mud when uncovered; and all plated or silver articles, even in the course of one night, get black and discolored. The inhabitants I shall estimate moderately at 10,000, and the Kadien population are numerous amid the hills.

"27th.—Our objects in coming to Borneo were threefold. Firstly, to effect a reconciliation between the sultan and Muda Hassim; secondly, to gain the sultan's approval and signature to my holding Sarawak; and thirdly, to release the Kleeses [Hindoostanees] of the shipwrecked vessels, the Sultana and Lord Melbourne. The first object was gained at once, as the sultan seemed really overjoyed at being good friends with his uncle; and Pangeran Usop, from whom we anticipated difficulty, stepped forward directly to aid us while Pangeran Mumin was not averse. I will not now stop to sketch the characters of these worthies, as I shall hereafter have a better knowledge of them; but I may remark, en passant, that it was evident, even to my inexperience, that no two of them were on good terms, and all probably united in a feeling that Muda Hassim's return would be a personal as well as public advantage. The other principal Pangerans, namely, Tizudeen (the sultan's natural brother), Kurmaindar (the father of the country), Bahar (the rajah's brother-in-law), Tizudeen second (the rajah's natural brother), were all for Muda Hassim; and the population, as far as I could learn, decidedly desirous of his being restored to them.

"Each day I had several interviews with the sultan, in his surow or private room; and he assured me of his fondness for Muda Hassim, his wish to have him near him again, and the great benefit it would be. Moreover, he was pleased to express great personal regard for me; and every five minutes I had to swear 'eternal friendship,' while he, clasping my hand, kept repeating, 'amigo suya,' 'amigo suya,' meaning, my friend, my friend. At the same time he professed great readiness to give me Sarawak—inquired the amount of revenue—seemed satisfied, and said, 'I wish you to be there; I do not wish any body else; you are my amigo, and it is nobody's business but mine; the country is mine, and if I please to give you all, I can.' His majesty is very proud of displaying his very small smattering of Spanish or Portuguese; and almost all the higher people having acquired a few words, shows there must have been a communication at no very distant date. I was also warned not to care for any of the other Pangerans,—not, indeed, to have anything to say to them.

"With this advice I took the liberty to dispense; and sent to Pangerans Mumin and Usop to intimate my wish to visit them. The former pleaded that his house was unfit to receive me; but the latter immediately sent a most polite message, that any time, either by day or night, he should be happy to see me; and accordingly I went. The house and style are the best in Borneo. I was politely and kindly greeted; and I soon found that I was with a man of sense and quickness. There was a little diplomacy at first on his part; but as I proceeded direct to my object, he at once laid it aside. In fact, candor is the basis of our right influence with the natives; and as I desired to make Pangeran Usop my friend, I went candidly to work, and immediately told him all that I had already told the sultan. The amount of my conversation was as follows: The first topic being the anticipated visit of the English, 'Were the English coming?' 'Was Mr. Bonham coming?' were the first questions; and 'With what intent?' I replied, that the English were certainly coming, but with no evil intentions; that it was true they were offended by the ill usage the captain and people of the Sultana had met with; yet that I had endeavored to put it in the best light, and had urged that a friendly communication for the future was better than a retrospect which might give rise to unpleasant feelings: I was sure that the English desired a friendly intercourse; and I hoped, though I could not say, that they would look to the future, and not to the past. I had, I added, no authority; but my friendship for the sultan induced me to inform him what I had heard abroad. When Mr. Bonham came, he would be able to tell them all; but I could say now that I thought he would demand a treaty between Singapore and Borneo for the mutual protection of trade, and the care of individuals of each nation who were shipwrecked or otherwise sought protection at either place.

"On the whole, it is certain that the feelings of Borneo are decidedly friendly, and equally certain that the persons of influence will receive us in their warmest manner, and grant us every thing, if we resort only to measures of conciliation. It never can be too often repeated, that conciliation is the only policy with Malays, and particularly the Borneons, who have very vague and confused ideas of our power. A harsh truth, a peremptory demand, they have never heard in their lives, and they will not hear it for the first time and remain friendly; for all who have the least acquaintance with the native character know their acute sense of false shame. To demand, therefore, of the chief here to acknowledge our superiority would, I am sure, be met with a haughty refusal. In a few years, if we proceed mildly to establish a beneficial influence, they will fall into our views without reserve; for, as I have often before stated, their government is in the last stage of destruction and decay.

"The reconciliation of Muda Hassim was soon complete; and as to the Kleeses of the Lord Melbourne, twenty in number, they were at once surrendered to me, with a request that I would forward them to Singapore as quickly as I could. The boat of the Lord Melbourne was likewise given to me. I had some scruples about three Kleeses of the Sultana, who had been sold at Malludu Bay, bought there by an Arab seriff, and brought here. By all their laws and customs they were his slaves, purchased at a distance, and, as I had no right to claim them (supposing even that to be just), and was resolved not to leave them in captivity, I paid a fair price for them at the rate of twenty-five dollars per man. I regret to add, there is one other man not in the place; and one is gone to Tutorga—about a day's journey hence.

"28th.—I may here draw a brief sketch of the principal personages of this most primitive court, beginning with its worthy head, the sultan.

"The sultan is a man past fifty years of age, short and puffy in person, with a countenance which expresses very obviously the imbecility of his mind. His right hand is garnished with an extra diminutive thumb, the natural member being crooked and distorted. His mind, indexed by his face, seems to be a chaos of confusion; without acuteness, without dignity, and without good sense. He can neither read nor write; is guided by the last speaker; and his advisers, as might be expected, are of the lower order, and mischievous from their ignorance and their greediness. He is always talking, and generally joking; and the most serious subjects never meet with five minutes' consecutive attention. The favorable side of his character is, that he is good-tempered and good-natured; by no means cruel; and, in a certain way, generous, though rapacious to a high degree. His rapacity, indeed, is carried to such an excess as to astonish a European, and is evinced in a thousand mean ways. The presents I made him were unquestionably handsome; but he was not content without begging from me the share I had reserved for the other Pangerans; and afterward, through Mr. Williamson, solicited more trifles, such as sugar, penknives, and the like. To crown all, he was incessantly asking what was left in the vessel; and when told the truth,—that I was stripped as bare as a tree in winter,—he frequently returned to the charge. In the middle of the night, when our boat came up with some gifts for him, he slipped out his royal person, that he might see what packages there were. I must say, however, that this was not intended for me to know; and, personally, he did not behave very ill toward me, only dunning me occasionally. In regard to the Sarawak revenue, he was eager in his inquiries; and was very ready, on the strength of his thousand dollars, and my generosity, to give me a list of things which amounted to 10,000 dollars in value. I may note one other feature which marks the man. He requested, as the greatest favor,—he urged, with the earnestness of a child,—that I would send back the schooner before the month Ramban (Ramadan of the Turks); remarking, 'What shall I do during the fast without soft sugar and dates?' What effect the exaggerated promises of Mr. de Souza must have had on such a temper, may readily be imagined; and what the evil influence of such a prince on the country, needs not be stated; for, like other fools, he is difficult to guide where the object is right, and facile whenever it promises any immediate advantage. I will only add, that during my intercourse of six days, he has given me the impression that he is not in his right mind; and, at any rate, that flattery and bad counsel have deprived him of the little wit he might probably originally have possessed.

"Of Pangeran Mumin, the De Gadong and the sultan's son-in-law, I know little; and he is, in secret, a most determined opposer of mine; but I believe he, as well as most, is desirous of being good friends with the English, and will readily listen to any overtures which promise increase of trade. He seemed to me a shrewd, cunning man, fit for a Nakoda.

"Pangeran Usop is a man of middle age, short, active, and intelligent, and, I may add, ambitious. Pangeran Muda Hassim will throw himself into the arms of the English, from his partiality, and from the hope of a better order of things, and the eventual succession to the throne, to which he stands next,—the present sultan having no legitimate children.

"Two of my objects were thus achieved at once; and the Kleeses (twenty-three) were, much to their satisfaction, dispatched to the vessel in the Melbourne's gig. My own affair of Sarawak meets with some opposition from Mumin, who is decidedly friendly to Macota. The sultan, however, is steady to me, gabbles daily and hourly of his intentions; and Pangeran Usop likewise pushes on my suit with his influence, at the same time giving me this one piece of good advice, viz. that Muda Hassim must be induced to return to Borneo, for that two persons (Muda Hassim and myself) cannot govern together; and he added, 'If Muda Hassim returns, you will have a fine trade at Sarawak; but while he is there, no native prahus will visit the place.' This is true: I have no fear of ultimate success in my suit; but delay is formidable, and I have already intimated that I propose making my conge on the 2d of August.

"30th.—I have little more to add about Borneo, save my plaint against our dungeon, though the said dungeon be honorably situated behind the throne, and within the royal apartments. Just below the town are several rills of the finest water; and the natives report that they issue from a small but deep lake at a very short distance. Beneath one of these spouts we each evening took a most delicious bath in water as cold as it is limpid. I am no great bustler at any time; but since being here, I have purposely abstained from all manifestation of curiosity, and never desired or requested to see much; it rouses suspicion, and suspicion rouses distrust, and distrust draws the kris. On the contrary, by being backward at first, you become subsequently a sort of domesticated animal, and privileged to use your eyes and limbs. Most Europeans do themselves great injury by searching the mountains and the waters, breaking the rocks, shooting the birds, and gathering the plants. The natives can never believe they would take so much trouble without being well paid by the value of the treasures found, or employed by the East India Company to espy their land, in order that the said company might seize it at their convenience.

"31st.—A conclave of Pangerans, when it was finally resolved to grant the country of Sarawak to me as rajah or governor.

"August 1st, 1842.—An important day in my history, and I hope one which will be marked with a white stone in the annals of Sarawak. The letters to Muda Hassim being finished and signed, the contract giving me the government of Sarawak came under discussion, and was likewise completed by ten at night, signed, sealed, and witnessed. Thus I have gained every object for which I came to Borneo; and to-morrow, God willing, I take my leave.

"The miserable state of Borneo I have already mentioned; and it is now a saying of the Balagnini pirates, that 'it is difficult to catch fish, but easy to catch Borneons.' Externally and internally they are equally wretched, and torn by factions; yet, on the whole, I am not inclined to judge harshly of the poorer order of them. They are a good-tempered, very hospitable, and unwarlike people, the victims of their rajahs; the oppressed, but not the oppressors. In this character, however, I do not reckon the Pangerans and their followers. It is from these latter that Europeans take their estimate of the people generally, and consequently truly account them, from that standard, to be a wretched sample of humanity—mean, thievish, arrogant, insolent, and ready for any wickedness. The Pangerans themselves are only a step better: but even here I must make a little allowance; for I believe their crimes arise more from their poverty and impunity than from any inherent viciousness.

"3d.—The Pangerans Budrudeen and Marsale, and a host more, came on board this night, and kept us up as usual.

"4th.—Another mob arrived the middle of last night. I retreated from them, being far from well, and got some sleep. At 2 P.M. the letters came on board; were received with honors; and as soon as we could rid ourselves of our troublesome visitors, we dropped outside Tanjong Sapo, and sailed the following day.

"The Kleeses sold at Malludu were brought from Ambun, and reported to the authorities that a European woman was detained there. I made particular inquires of the Borneon Pangerans, and they said they had always understood that such was the case. Unhappy lady, if she be a lady! Is it a compassionate part to release her after many years of captivity?

"14th.—Anchored off the Morotaba, having had nothing but calms, light winds, and squalls.

"15th.—Got part of the way up the river, and at 8 P.M. dropped our anchor; and in about an hour later two boats started for Sarawak. The night was moonlight, with a cold breeze; and, after a pleasant pull, we arrived, and created as much sensation as we could desire. But it was better, and I was gratified with the intelligence that everything had gone on well during our absence. At break of day I went, fagged, to bed. So ended our mission to Borneo.

"On the evening of the 18th the sultan's letters were produced in all the state which could possibly be attained. On their arrival they were received and brought up amid large wax torches, and the person who was to read them was stationed on a raised platform; standing below him was the rajah, with a saber in his hand; in front of the rajah was his brother, Pangeran Jaffer, with a tremendous kempilan drawn; and around were the other brothers and myself, all standing—the rest of the company being seated. The letters were then read, the last one appointing me to hold the government of Sarawak. After this the rajah descended, and said aloud, 'If any one present disowns or contests the sultan's appointment, let him now declare.' All were silent. He next turned to the Patingis, and asked them; they were obedient to the will of the sultan. Then came the other Pangerans—'Is there any Pangeran or any young rajah that contests the question? Pangeran Der Macota, what do you say?' Macota expressed his willingness to obey. One or two other obnoxious Pangerans who had always opposed themselves to me were each in turn challenged, and forced to promise obedience. The rajah then waved his sword, and with a loud voice exclaimed, 'Whoever he is that disobeys the sultan's mandate now received, I will separate his skull;' at the moment some ten of his brothers jumped from the verandah, and, drawing their long krisses, began to flourish and dance about, thrusting close to Macota, striking the pillar above his head, pointing their weapons at his breast. This amusement, the violence of motion, the freedom from restraint, this explosion of a long pent-up animosity, roused all their passions; and had Macota, through an excess of fear or an excess of bravery, started up, he would have been slain, and other blood would have been spilt. But he was quiet, with his face pale and subdued, and, as shortly as decency would permit after the riot had subsided, took his leave. This scene is a custom with them; the only exception to which was, that it was pointed so directly at Macota. I was glad, at any rate, that all had gone off without bloodshed.

"22d.—I found that though matters had been quiet during my absence, repeated efforts had been made to disturb the country. First, it was positively stated and industriously circulated that I was certain to be killed in Borneo; and next a report was propagated that 6000 Chinese were on their march from Sambas, with evil intentions. These rumors did not serve any object, and my return has set them at rest; but I regretted to hear that the Singe Dyaks had, contrary to my positive prohibition, killed a Dyak of Sanpro.

"Other affairs are prosperous. Macota is to be sent out of the country, and the rajah himself talks of returning to Borneo; and both these events will please me greatly.

"January 1st, 1843.—Another year passed and gone; a year, with all its anxieties, its troubles, its dangers, upon which I can look back with satisfaction—a year in which I have been usefully employed in doing good to others.

"Since I last wrote, the Dyaks have been quiet, settled, and improving; the Chinese advancing toward prosperity; and the Sarawak people, wonderfully contented and industrious, relieved from oppression, and fields of labor allowed them.

"Justice I have executed with an unflinching hand; and the amount of crime is certainly small—the petty swindling very great.

"The month of January was a dreary month. A sick man in the house, and very little medicine; and what was worse, the Royalist did not make her appearance. Yet both these troubles disappeared nearly together; for M'Kenzie got well, and the schooner, bringing with her Dr. Treacher, arrived. She had been detained undergoing some necessary repairs. The accession of a medical man is particularly valuable.

"I have nothing to say about the country, except that I have given Pangeran Macota orders to leave, which he is obeying in as far as preparing his boat; and I hope that in six weeks we shall be rid of his cunning and diabolically intriguing presence.

"The Rajah Muda Hassim, his brothers, and the tag-rag following, I also hope soon to be rid of; for although they behave far better than they did at first, it is an evil to have wheel within wheel; and these young rajahs of course expect, and are accustomed to, a license which I will not allow.

"Budrudeen is an exception—a striking and wonderful instance of the force of good sense over evil education.

"The rest of the people go on well; the time revolves quietly; and the Dyaks, as well as the Malays and Chinese, enjoy the inestimable blessing of peace and security. At intervals a cloud threatens the serenity of our political atmosphere; but it speedily blows over. However, all is well and safe; and so safe that I have resolved to proceed in person to Singapore.

"My motives for going are various; but I hope to do good, to excite interest, and make friends; and I can find no season like the present for my absence. It is now two years since I left Singapore, 'the boundary of civilization.' I have been out of the civilized world, living in a demi-civilized state, peaceably, innocently, and usefully.

"Feb. 8th.—After ten days' delay at the mouth of the river, got out."


Captain Keppel's voyage in the Dido with Mr. Brooke to Sarawak.—Chase of three piratical prahus.—Boat expedition.—Action with the pirates, and capture of a prahu.—Arrival at Sarawak.—Mr. Brooke's reception.—Captain Keppel and his officers visit the Rajah.—The palace and the audience.—Return royal visit to the Dido.—Mr. Brooke's residence and household.—Dr. Treacher's adventure with one of the ladies of Macota's harem.—Another boat affair with the pirates, and death of their chief.

I have now followed Mr. Brooke's journal up to the time of our first meeting at Singapore, and his accompanying me to Sarawak, and have no remarks of my own to offer that could add in the slightest degree to its interest; happily, none such are needed. I had not yet seen my friend's journal when I arrived at Sarawak, nor was it until some time after that I by degrees learned the progress of his infant government from its commencement. It was with unfeigned pleasure I then found that, while performing my duty in the suppression of piracy, I was, at the same time, rendering the greatest assistance and support to an individual in his praiseworthy, novel, and important position.

I had long felt a desire to explore the Island of Borneo, which the few travelers who have called there describe as not only one of the largest and most fertile in the world, but one of the most productive in gold and diamonds, and other rich minerals and ores; one from which the finest camphor known is brought into merchandise, and which is undoubtedly capable of supplying every kind of valuable spice, and articles of universal traffic and consumption. Yet, with all these capabilities and inducements to tempt the energetic spirit of trade, the internal condition of the country, and the dangers which beset its coasts, have hitherto prevented the interior from being explored by Europeans; and to prove how little we are acquainted even with its shores, I actually sailed by the best Admiralty chart eighty miles inland, and over the tops of mountains!

May 4th, 1843.—Passed through the Tambelans, a beautiful group of between 100 and 150 small islands. They are very extensive, and but thinly inhabited. There is good anchorage near some of them; but we had nothing less than twenty fathoms. They are placed so close together that, after passing the first, we were to all appearance completely land-locked in a magnificent and capacious harbor. The following morning we anchored off the mouth of the Sambas river, and sent the boats away to examine the creeks, islands, and rivers along the coast for traces of pirates—which were discovered by the remains of their fires on different parts, although no clew could be obtained as to the direction in which they had gone. On the morning of the 8th I again sent the pinnace and two cutters, Mr. Partridge, Messrs. D'Aeth and Jenkins, with a week's provisions, the whole under the command of Lieutenant Wilmot Horton, Mr. Brooke kindly offering his assistance, which, from his knowledge of the Malay language, as well as of the kind of vessels used by the pirates, was thankfully accepted. I directed them to proceed to the Island of Marundum, and, after visiting the South Natunas, to rejoin the Dido at Sarawak. In the mean time I proceeded leisurely along the coast, anchoring where convenient, and finding regular soundings all the way in from four to ten fathoms: weather remarkably fine, and water smooth. On the morning of the 9th, on rounding Tanjong Datu, we opened suddenly on a suspicious-looking boat, which, on making us out, ran for a small, deep bay formed by Cape Datu and the next point to the eastward. Standing a little further on, we discovered a second large boat in the offing, which likewise stood in shore, and afterward a third at the bottom of the bay. From the description I had received, I easily made these out to be Illanuns, an enterprising tribe of pirates, of whose daring adventures I had heard much. They inhabit a small cluster of islands off the N.E. coast of Borneo, and go out in large fleets every year to look for prahus bound to Singapore or the Straits; and, after capturing the vessels, reduce their crews to slavery. It is of a cruel nature; for Mr. Brooke observes: "Nor is the slavery of that mild description which is often attributed to the Asiatics; for these victims are bound for months, and crowded in the bottom of the pirate vessels, where they suffer all the miseries which could be inflicted on board an African slaver."—Having fairly pinned these worthies into a corner, and knowing that the only two small boats I had left on board would stand no chance with them in pulling, to make sure of my prizes I loaded the two foremost guns on each side, and, having no proper chart of the coast, proceeded under easy sail, feeling my way into the bay with the lead. When just within musket-range, I let go the anchor, which was no sooner done than the three boats commenced making a move. I thought at first they were coming alongside to sue for pardon and peace; and my astonishment was great when I discovered that nothing was further from their intention. One pulled away, close in shore, to the eastward, and the other two to the westward. They were rowed by about forty oars each, and appeared, from their swiftness, to be flying, and that, too, from under my very nose; and what rendered it still more ridiculous and disagreeable, owing to a strong ebb tide, the ship remained exactly in a position that no gun could be brought to bear on either side. The dingy and jolly-boat gave chase; but the pirates had the start, and it was useless; for although a few men were seen to drop from their oars in consequence of our fire of musketry from the forecastle, still their pace never slackened; and when they did come within the bearing of our guns, which they were obliged to do for a minute or two while rounding the points that formed the bay, though our thirty-two pound shot fell thickly about their heads, frequently dashing the spray all over them, not a man flinched from his oar. We could not help admiring their plan of escape, and the gallant manner in which it was effected. I saw that it would be quite unavailing to attempt to catch the boats that had pulled to windward; but we lost no time in slipping our cable and making all sail in chase of the one that had gone to leeward. But the "artful dodger" was still too fast for us: we lost sight of him at dusk, close off the mouth of a river, up which, however, I do not think he went; for our two boats were there very shortly after him; and although they searched all night and next morning, they could discover no traces of the fugitive. Besides, these pirates have no friends among the inhabitants of the province of Sarawak who would have screened them from us; on the contrary, they would have put them to death if once in their power. I certainly never made so sure of any thing in my life as of capturing the three prahus after I had seen them safe at the bottom of the little bay at Tanjong Datu: but "there is many a slip between the cup and the lip." We returned the following day to pick up the anchor and cable, and observed that it was a place well adapted as a rendezvous for pirates. The bay is studded with rocks; and, to my horror, I found that I had run her majesty's ship Dido inside two that were a-wash at low water! A mountain stream of most delicious water runs into the bay between two rocks, and the coast abounds with oysters.

On the 13th the Dido anchored off Tanjong Poe, outside the bar at the entrance of the river leading to Mr. Brooke's residence and seat of government, at the town of Sarawak, situated about twenty-four miles up. At half-tide on the following morning we crossed the bar, carrying no less than three and a half fathoms, and entered the beautiful river of Morotaba, which we ran up for the first fifteen miles under all sail, with a fresh, leading breeze. The Dido was the first square-rigged vessel that had ever entered those waters. We came to at the junction river which unites the two principal entrances to the Sarawak.

In the evening our boats returned on board from their expedition, having reached Sarawak the day previous by the western entrance. On leaving the Dido, on the morning of the 8th, they proceeded to the Island of Marundum, a favorite rendezvous for pirates, where they came on a fleet of the Illanum tribe, who, however, did not give them an opportunity of closing; but, cutting their sampans adrift, made a precipitate flight, opening fire as they ran out on the opposite side of a small bay, in which they had been watering and refitting. This, of course, led to a very exciting chase, with a running fire kept up on both sides; but the distance was too great for the range of the guns on either side; and the pirates, who, in addition to sailing well, were propelled by from forty to sixty oars each, made their escape. It was not until nearly hull-down that they (probably out of bravado) ceased to fire their stern guns. As they went in the direction of the Natunas, our boats steered for those islands, and anchored under the south end of one of them. At daylight next morning, although in three fathoms water, the pinnace, owing to the great rise and fall of tide, grounded on a coral reef, and Lieutenant Horton and Mr. Brooke proceeded in one of the cutters to reconnoiter. As they neared the s.w. point, they were met by six prahus, beating their tom-toms as they advanced, and making every demonstration of fighting. Lieutenant Horton judiciously turned to rejoin the other boats; and the pinnace having, fortunately, just then floated, he formed his little squadron into line abreast, cleared for action, and prepared to meet his formidable-looking antagonists. Mr. Brooke, however, whose eye had been accustomed to the cut and rig of all the boats in these seas, discovered that those advancing were not Illanuns, and fancied there must be some mistake. The Natunas people had been trading with Sarawak, and he was intimately acquainted with a rich and powerful chief who resided on the island; he therefore raised a white flag of truce on his spy-glass, and from the bow of the pinnace hailed, waved, and made all the signs he could to warn them of the danger into which they were running; but a discharge of small arms was the only reply he got. They then detached their three smallest vessels inshore, so as to command a cross-fire, and cut off the retreat of our boats; and the rest advanced, yelling, beating their tom-toms, and blazing away with all the confidence of victory, their shot cutting through the rigging, and splashing in the water all around. It was an anxious moment for the Dido's little party. Not a word was spoken. The only gun of the pinnace was loaded with grape and canister, and kept pointed on the largest prahu. The men waited, with their muskets in hand, for permission to fire; but it was not until within pistol-range that Lieutenant Horton poured into the enemy his well-prepared dose. It instantly brought them to a halt; yet they had the temerity to exchange shots for a few minutes longer, when the largest cried for quarter, and the other five made for the shore, chased by the two cutters, and keeping up a fire to the last.

The prize taken possession of by the pinnace proved to be a prahu mounting three brass guns, with a crew of thirty-six men, belonging to the Rajah of Rhio, and which had been dispatched by that chief to collect tribute at and about the Natunas islands. They had on board ten men killed, and eleven (four of them mortally) wounded. They affected the greatest astonishment on discovering that our boats belonged to a British man-of-war, and protested that it was all a mistake; that the island had lately been plundered by the Illanun pirates, for whom they had taken us; that the rising sun was in their eyes, and that they could not make out the colors, &c. Lieutenant Horton, thinking that their story might possibly have some foundation in truth, and taking into consideration the severe lesson they had received, directed Dr. Simpson, the assistant-surgeon, to dress their wounds; and after admonishing them to be more circumspect in future, restored them their boat, as well as the others which belonged to the island, two of them being a trifle smaller, but of the same armament as the one from Rhio, and the remaining three still smaller, carrying twelve men each, armed with spears and muskets. These had been taken possession of by the cutters after they had reached the shore and landed their killed and wounded, who were borne away from the beach so smartly by the natives that our people had not time to ascertain the number hurt. The surgeon went ashore, and dressed the wounds of several of them, an act of kindness and civilization far beyond their comprehension. The natives, however, appeared to bear us no malice for the injury we had inflicted on their countrymen, but loaded our boats with fruit, goats, and every thing we required. It afforded some amusement to find that among the slightly wounded was Mr. Brooke's old, wealthy, and respectable friend already alluded to, who was not a little ashamed at being recognized; but piracy is so inherent in a Malay, that few can resist the temptation when a good opportunity for plunder presents itself. The fact, which I afterward ascertained, was, that they took our boats for some coming from a wreck with whatever valuables they could collect; and their not having seen any thing of the ship rather strengthened this conjecture; the excuse they made for continuing the fight after they had discovered their mistake being that they expected no quarter. [15]

May 16th.—We proceeded up the river twelve miles further into the interior of this interesting country, and with my friend Mr. Brooke on board, approached Sarawak, his seat of government; in the reach before you near which, and off the right bank of the river, is a long and dangerous shelf of rocks. The deep channel which lies between the bank and the rocks is not more than sixty or seventy feet wide, and required some little care in passing; but, with the exception of the flying jibboom, which got nipped off in the branch of a magnificent overhanging tree, we anchored without accident in six fathoms water, and greatly astonished the natives with a royal salute in honor of Muda Hassim, the Rajah of Borneo. During the whole morning large boats, some carrying as many as two hundred people, had been coming down the river to hail Mr. Brooke's return; and one of the greatest gratifications I had was in witnessing the undisguised delight, mingled with gratitude and respect, with which each head man welcomed their newly-elected ruler back to his adopted country. Although many of the Malay chiefs had every reason to expect that in the Dido they saw the means by which their misdeeds were to be punished, they showed their confidence in Mr. Brooke by bringing their children with them—a sign peculiar to the Malay. The scene was both novel and exciting; presenting to us, just anchored in a large fresh-water river, and surrounded by a densely-wooded jungle, the whole surface of the water covered with canoes and boats dressed out with their various-colored silken flags, filled with natives beating their tom-toms, and playing on their wild and not unpleasant-sounding wind-instruments, with the occasional discharge of firearms. To them it must have been equally striking and extraordinary (as few of them had ever seen any larger vessel than their own war-boats, or a European, until Mr. Brooke's arrival) to witness the Dido anchored almost in the center of their town, her mast-heads towering above the highest trees of their jungle; the loud report of her heavy two-and-thirty pounder guns, and the running aloft, to furl sails, of 150 seamen, in their clean white dresses, and with the band playing, all which helped to make an impression that will not easily be forgotten at Sarawak. I was anxious that Mr. Brooke should land with all the honors due to so important a personage, which he accordingly did, under a salute. The next business was my visit of ceremony to the rajah, which was great fun, though conducted in the most imposing manner. The band, and the marines, as a guard, having landed, we (the officers) all assembled at Mr. Brooke's house, where, having made ourselves as formidable as we could with swords and cocked hats, we marched in procession to the royal residence, his majesty having sent one of his brothers, who led me by the hand into his presence. The palace was a long, low shed, built on piles, to which we ascended by a ladder. The audience-chamber was hung with red and yellow silk curtains, and round the back and one side of the platform occupied by the rajah were ranged his ministers, warriors, and men-at-arms, bearing spears, swords, shields, and other warlike weapons. Opposite to them were drawn up our royal marines, the contrast between the two body-guards being very amusing. Muda Hassim is a wretched-looking, little man; still there was a courteous and gentle manner about him that prepossessed us in his favor, and made us feel that we were before an individual who had been accustomed to command. We took our seats in a semicircle, on chairs provided for the occasion, and smoked cigars and drank tea. His majesty chewed his sirih-leaf and betel-nut, seated with one leg crossed under him, and playing with his toes. Very little is ever said during these audiences, so we sat staring at one another for half an hour with mutual astonishment; and, after the usual compliments of wishing our friendship might last as long as the moon, and my having offered him the Dido and every thing else that did not belong to me in exchange for his house, we took our leave.

May 19th.—This was the day fixed for the rajah's visit to the Dido, about which he appeared very anxious, although he had seldom been known to go beyond his own threshold. For this ceremony all the boats, guns, tom-toms, flags, and population were put in requisition; and the procession to the ship was a very gorgeous and amusing spectacle. We received him on board with a royal salute. He brought in his train a whole tribe of natural brothers. His guards and followers were strange enough, and far too numerous to be admitted on the Dido's deck, so that as soon as a sufficient number had scrambled on board, the sentry had orders to prevent any more from crowding in; but whether, in so doing, the most important personages of the realm were kept out, we did not ascertain. One fellow succeeded in obtaining a footing with a large yellow silk canopy, a corner of which having run into the eye of one of the midshipmen, the bearer missed his footing, and down came the whole concern—as I was informed, by accident! The party assembled in my cabin, and the remarks were few, nor did they manifest great astonishment at any thing. In fact, a Malay never allows himself to be taken by surprise. I believe, however, the rajah did not think much of my veracity, when I informed him that this was not the largest ship belonging to her Britannic majesty, and that she had several mounting upward of 100 guns, though he admitted that he had seen a grander sight than any of his ancestors. There was much distress depicted in the royal countenance during his visit which I afterward ascertained was owing to his having been informed that he must not spit in my cabin. On leaving the ship, whether the cherry brandy he had taken made him forget the directions he had received, I do not know, but he squirted a mouthful of red betel-nut juice over the white deck, and then had the temerity to hold out his hand to the first lieutenant, who hastily applied to him the style (not royal) of "a dirty beast," which not understanding, he smiled graciously, taking it as some compliment peculiar to the English.

This farce over, I had now some time to look about me, and to refit my ship in one of the prettiest spots on earth, and as unlike a dock-yard as any thing could be.

Mr. Brooke's then residence, although equally rude in structure with the abodes of the natives, was not without its English comforts of sofas, chairs, and bedsteads. It was larger than any of the others, but being, like them, built on piles, we had to mount a ladder to get into it. It was situated on the same side of the river (the right bank), next to, but rather in the rear of, the rajah's palace, with a clear space of about 150 yards between the back and the edge of the jungle. It was surrounded by palisades and a ditch, forming a protection to sheep, goats, pigeons, cats, poultry, geese, monkeys, dogs, ducks, and, occasionally, bullocks. The house consisted of but one floor. A large room in the center, neatly ornamented with every description of firearms, in admirable order and ready for use, served as an audience and mess-room; and the various apartments round it as bed-rooms, most of them comfortably furnished with matted floors, easy chairs, pictures, and books, with much more taste and attention to comfort than bachelors usually display. In one corner of the square formed by the palisades were the kitchen and offices. The Europeans with Mr. Brooke consisted of Mr. Douglas, formerly in the navy, a clever young surgeon, and a gentleman of the name of Williamson, who, being master of the native language, as well as active and intelligent, made an excellent prime minister. Besides these were two others, who came out in the yacht, one an old man-of-war's man, who kept the arms in first-rate condition, and another worthy character, who answered to the name of Charley, and took care of the accounts and charge of every thing. These were attended by servants of different nations. The cooking establishment was perfect, and the utmost harmony prevailed. The great feeding-time was at sunset, when Mr. Brooke took his seat at the head of the table, and all the establishment, as in days of yore, seated themselves according to their respective grades. This hospitable board was open to all the officers of the Dido; and many a jovial evening we spent there. All Mr. Brooke's party were characters—all had traveled; and never did a minute flag for want of some entertaining anecdote, good story, or song, to pass away the time; and it was while smoking our cigars in the evening that the natives, as well as the Chinese who had become settlers, used to drop in, and, after creeping up according to their custom, and touching the hand of their European rajah, retire to the further end of the room, and squat down upon their haunches, remain a couple of hours without uttering a word, and then creep out again. I have seen sixty or seventy of an evening come in and make this sort of salaam. All the Malays were armed; and it is reckoned an insult for one of them to appear before a rajah without his kris. I could not help remarking the manly, independent bearing of the half-savage and nearly naked mountain Dyak compared with the sneaking deportment of the Malay.

The following little adventure was told me during my stay at Sarawak, by Dr. Treacher, who had lately joined Mr. Brooke, his former medical attendant having returned to England. It appears that Dr. Treacher received a message by a confidential slave that one of the ladies of Macota's harem desired an interview, appointing a secluded spot in the jungle as the rendezvous. The doctor, being aware of his own good looks, fancied he had made a conquest, and, having got himself up as showily as he could, was there at the appointed time. He described the poor girl as both young and pretty, but with a dignified and determined look, which at once convinced him that she was moved to take so dangerous a step by some deeper feeling than that of a mere fancy for his person. She complained of the ill treatment she had received from Macota, and the miserable life she led, and avowed that her firm resolve was to destroy (not herself, gentle creature! but) him; for which purpose she wanted a small portion of arsenic. It was a disappointment that he could not comply with her request; so they parted—he full of pity and love for her, and she, in all probability, full of contempt for a man who felt for her wrongs, but would not aid in the very simple means she had proposed for redressing them.

While at Singapore, Mr. Whitehead had kindly offered to allow his yacht, the Emily, a schooner of about fifty tons, with a native crew, to bring our letters to Borneo, on the arrival at Singapore of the mail from England. About the time she was expected, I thought it advisable to send a boat to cruise in the vicinity of Cape Datu, in case of her falling in with any of these piratical gentry. The Dido's largest boat, the pinnace, being under repair, Mr. Brooke lent a large boat which he had had built by the natives at Sarawak, and called the Jolly Bachelor. Having fitted her with a brass six-pounder long gun, with a volunteer crew of a mate, two midshipmen, six marines, and twelve seamen, and a fortnight's provisions, I dispatched her under the command of the second lieutenant, Mr. Hunt; Mr. Douglas, speaking the Malayan language, likewise volunteered his services. One evening, after they had been about six days absent, while we were at dinner, young Douglas made his appearance, bearing in his arms the captured colors of an Illanun pirate. It appears that the day after they had got outside they observed three boats a long way in the offing, to which they gave chase, but soon lost sight of them, owing to their superior sailing. They, however, appeared a second and a third time, after dark, but without the Jolly Bachelor being able to get near them; and it now being late, and the crew both fatigued and hungry, they pulled inshore, lighted a fire, cooked their provisions, and then hauled the boat out to her grapnel, near some rocks, for the night; lying down to rest with their arms by their sides, and muskets round the mast, ready loaded. Having also placed sentries and look-out men, and appointed an officer of the watch, they one and all (sentries included, I suppose), owing to the fatigues of the day, fell asleep! At about three o'clock the following morning, the moon being just about to rise, Lieut. Hunt happening to be awake, observed a savage brandishing a kris, and performing his war-dance on the bit of deck, in an ecstasy of delight, thinking, in all probability, of the ease with which he had got possession of a fine trading-boat, and calculating the cargo of slaves he had to sell, but little dreaming of the hornets' nest into which he had fallen. Lieut. Hunt's round face meeting the light of the rising moon, without a turban surmounting it, was the first notice the pirate had of his mistake. He immediately plunged overboard; and before Lieut. Hunt had sufficiently recovered his astonishment to know whether he was dreaming or not, or to rouse his crew up, a discharge from three or four cannon within a few yards, and the cutting through the rigging by the various missiles with which the guns were loaded, soon convinced him there was no mistake. It was as well the men were still lying down when this discharge took place, as not one of them was hurt; but on jumping to their legs, they found themselves closely pressed by two large war-prahus, one on each bow. To return the fire, cut the cable, man the oars, and back astern to gain room, was the work of a minute; but now came the tug of war; it was a case of life and death. Our men fought as British sailors ought to do; quarter was not expected on either side; and the quick and deadly aim of the marines prevented the pirates from reloading their guns. The Illanun prahus are built with strong bulwarks or barricades, grape-shot proof, across the fore part of the boat, through which ports are formed for working the guns; these bulwarks had to be cut away by round shot from the Jolly Bachelor before the musketry could bear effectually. This done, the grape and canister told with fearful execution. In the mean time, the prahus had been pressing forward to board, while the Jolly Bachelor backed astern; but, as soon as this service was achieved, our men dropped their oars, and, seizing their muskets, dashed on: the work was sharp, but short, and the slaughter great. While one pirate boat was sinking, and an effort made to secure her, the other effected her escape by rounding the point of rocks, where a third and larger prahu, hitherto unseen, came to her assistance, and putting fresh hands on board, and taking her in tow, succeeded in getting off, although chased by the Jolly Bachelor, after setting fire to the crippled prize, which blew up and sunk before the conquerors got back to the scene of action. While there, a man swam off to them from the shore, who proved to be one of the captured slaves, and had made his escape by leaping overboard during the fight. The three prahus were the same Illanun pirates we had so suddenly come upon off Cape Datu in the Dido, and they belonged to the same fleet that Lieut. Horton had chased off the Island of Marundum. The slave prisoner had been seized, with a companion, in a small fishing canoe, off Borneo Proper; his companion suffered in the general slaughter. The sight that presented itself on our people boarding the captured boat must indeed have been a frightful one. None of the pirates waited on board for even the chance of receiving either quarter or mercy, but all those capable of moving had thrown themselves into the water. In addition to the killed, some lying across the thwarts, with their oars in their hands, at the bottom of the prahu, in which there was about three feet of blood and water, were seen protruding the mangled remains of eighteen or twenty bodies. During my last expedition I fell in with a slave belonging to a Malay chief, one of our allies, who informed us that he likewise had been a prisoner, and pulled an oar in one of the two prahus that attacked the Jolly Bachelor; that none of the crew of the captured prahu reached the shore alive, with the exception of the lad that swam off to our people; and that there were so few who survived in the second prahu, that, having separated from their consort during the night, the slaves, fifteen in number, rose and put to death the remaining pirates, and then ran the vessel into the first river they reached, which proved to be the Kaleka, where they were seized, and became the property of the governing Datu; and my informant was again sold to my companion, while on a visit to his friend the Datu. Each of the attacking prahus had between fifty and sixty men, including slaves, and the larger one between ninety and a hundred. The result might have been very different to our gallant but dosy Jolly Bachelors.

I have already mentioned the slaughter committed by the fire of the pinnace, under Lieutenant Horton, into the largest Malay prahu; and the account given of the scene which presented itself on the deck of the defeated pirate, when taken possession of, affords a striking proof of the character of these fierce rovers; resembling greatly what we read of the Norsemen and Scandinavians of early ages. Among the mortally wounded lay the young commander of the prahu, one of the most noble forms of the human race; his countenance handsome as the hero of Oriental romance, and his whole bearing wonderfully impressive and touching. He was shot in front and through the lungs, and his last moments were rapidly approaching. He endeavored to speak, but the blood gushed from his mouth with the voice he vainly essayed to utter in words. Again and again he tried, but again and again the vital fluid drowned the dying effort. He looked as if he had something of importance which he desired to communicate, and a shade of disappointment and regret passed over his brow when he felt that every essay was unavailing, and that his manly strength and daring spirit were dissolving into the dark night of death. The pitying conquerors raised him gently up, and he was seated in comparative ease, for the welling out of the blood was less distressing; but the end speedily came: he folded his arms heroically across his wounded breast, fixed bis eyes upon the British seamen around, and, casting one last glance at the ocean—the theater of his daring exploits, on which he had so often fought and triumphed—expired without a sigh.

The spectators, though not unused to tragical and sanguinary sights, were unanimous in speaking of the death of the pirate chief as the most affecting spectacle they had ever witnessed. A sculptor might have carved him as an Antinous in the mortal agonies of a Dying Gladiator.

The leaders of the piratical prahus are sometimes poetically addressed by their followers as Matari, i. e., the sun; or Bulan, the moon; and from his superiority in every respect, physical and intellectual, the chief whose course was here so fatally closed seemed to be worthy of either celestial name.


The Rajah's letter to Captain Keppel, and his reply.—Prepares for an expedition against the Sarebus pirates.—Pleasure excursion up the river.—The Chinese settlement.—The Singe mountain.—Interior of the residences.—Dyak festival of Maugut.—Relics.—Sporting.—Return to Sarawak.—The expedition against Sarebus.—State and number of the assailing force.—Ascent of the river.—Beauty of the scenery.

May 21st.—I received intimation that the rajah had written a letter, and wished me to appoint a time and place, that it might be presented in due form. Accordingly I attended in Mr. Brooke's hall of audience on the following day, where I found collected all the chiefs, and a crowd of natives, many of them having already been informed that the said letter was a requisition for me to assist in putting down the hordes of pirates who had so long infested the coast. I believe many of those present, especially the Borneons, to have been casually concerned, if not deeply implicated, in some of their transactions. After I had taken my seat with Mr. Brooke at the head of the table, the rajah's sword-bearers entered, clearing the way for the huge yellow canopy, under the shade of which, on a large brass tray, and carefully sewn up in a yellow silk bag, was the letter, from which it was removed, and placed in my hands by the Pangeran Budrudeen. I opened the bag with my knife, and giving it to an interpreter, he read it aloud in the Malayan tongue. It was variously received by the audience, many of whose countenances were far from prepossessing.

The following is a copy of the letter, to which was affixed the rajah's seal:

"This friendly epistle, having its source in a pure mind, comes from Rajah Muda Hassim, next in succession to the royal throne of the kingdom of Borneo, and who now holds his court at the trading city of Sarawak, to our friend Henry Keppel, head captain of the war-frigate belonging to her Britannic Majesty, renowned throughout all countries—who is valiant and discreet, and endowed with a mild and gentle nature:

"This is to inform our friend that there are certain great pirates, of the people of Sarebus and Sakarran, in our neighborhood, seizing goods and murdering people on the high seas. They have more than three hundred war-prahus, and extend their ravages even to Banjarmassim; they are not subject to the government of Bruni (Borneo); they take much plunder from vessels trading between Singapore and the good people of our country.

"It would be a great service if our friend would adopt measures to put an end to these piratical outrages.

"We can present nothing better to our friend than a kris, such as it is.

"20th day of Rahial Akhir, 1257."

To which I sent the following reply:—

"Captain Keppel begs to acknowledge the receipt of the Rajah Muda Hassim's letter, representing that the Dyaks of Sarebus and Sakarran are the pirates who infest the coast of Borneo, and do material damage to the trade of Singapore.

"Captain Keppel will take speedy measures to suppress these and all other pirates, and feels confident that her Britannic Majesty will be glad to learn that the Rajah Muda Hassim is ready to cooeperate in so laudable an undertaking."

Not being prepared for the oriental fashion of exchanging presents, I had nothing to offer to his rajahship; but I found out afterward that Mr. Brooke had (unknown to me) sent him a clock in my name. The royal kris was handsome, the handle of carved ivory, with a good deal of gold about it.

This information about the pirates gave me good ground to make a beginning; and having arranged with Mr. Brooke to obtain all necessary intelligence relative to their position, strength, and numbers, [16] I determined on attacking them in their strongholds, commencing with the Sarebus, who, from all accounts, were by far the most strongly fortified. Mr. Brooke accepted my invitation to accompany us, as well as to supply a native force of about three hundred men, who, should we succeed in the destruction of the pirate forts, would be useful in the jungle. Mr. Brooke's going to join personally in a war against (in the opinion of the Datus) such formidable opponents as the Sakarran and Sarebus pirates—who had never yet been conquered, although repeatedly attacked by the united forces of the surrounding rajahs—was strongly opposed by the chiefs. On his informing them that he should go, but leaving it optional whether they would accompany him or not, their simple reply was, "What is the use of our remaining? If you die, we die; and if you live, we live; we will go with you." Preparations for the expedition were accordingly commenced.

No place could have suited us better for a refit. Within a few yards of the ship was a Chinese workshop. Our boats were hauled up to repair under sheds, and we drew our fresh water alongside; and while the Dido was at Sarawak, Mr. Jago, the carpenter, built a very beautiful thirty-foot gig, having cut the plank up in the Chinaman's sawpit.

While these works were in progress, I accompanied Mr. Brooke up the river. The Royalist having been dispatched to Singapore with our letters, we started on our pleasure-excursion. With the officers from the Dido and the chiefs, who always accompany the "Tuan Besar," we mustered about sixty persons; and with our guns, walking-sticks, cigars, and a well supplied commissariat, determined to enjoy ourselves.

We were not long in making the acquaintances of the chiefs. Men who had formerly rebelled, who were conquered by Mr. Brooke, and had their (forfeited) lives saved, their families restored to them, and themselves finally reinstated in the offices they had previously held—these men were very naturally and faithfully attached. Our young gentlemen found their Malayan names difficult to remember, so that the gallant old Patingi Ali was seldom called any other name than that of "Three-Fingered Jack," from his having lost part of his right hand; the Tumangong was spoken of as the "Father of Hopeful," from one of his children, a fine little fellow, whom he was foolishly attached to, and seldom seen without.

Der Macota, who had sometime before received the appellation of "the Serpent," had, ever since he got his orders to quit, some six months before, been preparing his boats, but which were ready in an incredibly short time after the Dido's arrival; and thus Mr. Brooke got rid of that most intriguing and troublesome rascal; a person who had, from the commencement, been trying to supplant and ruin him. He it was that gave the Sakarran pirates permission to ascend the river for the purpose of attacking the comparatively defenceless mountain Dyaks; and he it was that persecuted the unfortunate young Illanun chief, Si Tundo, even to his assassination. He was at last got rid of from Sarawak, but only to join and plan mischief with that noted piratical chief, Seriff Sahib; he, however, met his deserts.

We ascended the river in eight or ten boats. The scene to us was most novel, and particularly fresh and beautiful. We stopped at an empty house on a cleared spot on the left bank during the ebb-tide, to cook our dinner; in the cool of the afternoon we proceeded with the flood; and late in the evening brought up for the night in a snug little creek close to the Chinese settlement. We slept in native boats, which were nicely and comfortably fitted for the purpose. At an early hour Mr. Brooke was waited on by the chief of the Kunsi; and on visiting their settlement he was received with a salute of three guns. We found it kept in their usual neat and clean order, particularly their extensive vegetable gardens; but being rather pressed for time, we did not visit the mines, but proceeded to the villages of different tribes of Dyaks living on the Sarambo mountain, numbers of whom had been down to welcome us, very gorgeously dressed in feathers and scarlet.

The foot of the mountain was about four miles from the landing-place; and a number of these kind savages voluntarily shouldered our provisions, beds, bags, and baggage, and we proceeded on our march. We did not expect to find quite a turnpike-road; but, at the same time, I, for one, was not prepared for the dance led us by our wild cat-like guides through thick jungle, and alternately over rocky hills, or up to our middles in the soft marshes we had to cross. Our only means of doing so was by feeling on the surface of the mud (it being covered in most places about a foot deep with grass or discolored water) for light spars thrown along lengthwise and quite unconnected, while our only support was an occasional stake at irregular distances, at which we used to rest, as the spars invariably sunk into the mud if we attempted to stop; and there being a long string of us, many a fall and flounder in the mud (gun and all) was the consequence.

The ascent of the hill, although as steep as the side of a house, was strikingly beautiful. Our resting-places, unluckily, were but few; but when we did reach one, the cool, fresh breeze, and the increasing extent and variety of scene—our view embracing, as it did, all the varieties of river, mountain, wood, and sea—amply repaid us for the exertion of the lower walk; and, on either hand, we were sure to have a pure cool rivulet tumbling over the rocks. While going up, however, our whole care and attention were requisite to secure our own safety; for it is not only one continued climb up ladders, but such ladders! They are made of the single trunk of a tree in its rough and rounded state, with notches, not cut at the reasonable distance apart of the ratlins of our rigging, but requiring the knee to be brought up to the level of the chin before the feet are sufficiently parted to reach from one step to another; and that, when the muscles of the thigh begin to ache, and the wind is pumped out of the body, is distressing work.

We mounted, in this manner, some 500 feet; and it was up this steep that Mr. Brooke had ascended only a few months before, with two hundred followers, to attack the Singe Dyaks. He has already described the circular halls of these Dyaks, in one of which we were received, hung round, as the interior of it is, with hundreds of human heads, most of them dried with the skin and hair on; and to give them, if possible, a more ghastly appearance, small shells (the cowry) are inserted where the eyes once were, and tufts of dried grass protrude from the ears. But my eyes soon grew accustomed to the sight; and by the time dinner was ready (I think I may say we) thought no more about them than if they had been as many cocoa-nuts.

Of course the natives crowded round us; and I noticed that with these simple people it was much the same as with the more civilized, and that curiosity was strongest in the gentler sex; and again, that the young men came in more gorgeously dressed, wearing feathers, necklaces, armlets, ear-rings, bracelets, beside jackets of various-colored silks, and other vanities—than the older and wiser chiefs, who encumbered themselves with no more dress than what decency actually required, and were, moreover, treated with the greatest respect.

We strolled about from house to house without causing the slightest alarm: in all we were welcomed, and invited to squat ourselves on their mats with the family. The women, who were some of them very good-looking, did not run from us as the plain-headed Malays would have done; but laughed and chatted to us by signs in all the consciousness of innocence and virtue.

We were fortunate in visiting these Dyaks during one of their grand festivals (called Maugut); and in the evening, dancing, singing, and drinking were going on in various parts of the village. In one house there was a grand fete, in which the women danced with the men. The dress of the women was simple and curious—a light jacket open in front, and a short petticoat not coming below the knees, fitting close, was hung round with jingling bits of brass, which kept "making music" wherever they went. The movement was like all other native dances—graceful, but monotonous. There were four men, two of them bearing human sculls, and two the fresh heads of pigs; the women bore wax-lights, or yellow rice on brass dishes. They danced in line, moving backward and forward, and carrying the heads and dishes in both hands; the graceful part was the manner in which they half turned the body to the right and left, looking over their shoulders and holding the heads in the opposite direction, as if they were in momentary expectation of some one coming up behind to snatch the nasty relic from them. At times the women knelt down in a group, with the men leaning over them. After all, the music was not the only thing wanting to make one imagine oneself at the opera. The necklaces of the women were chiefly of teeth—bears' the most common—human the most prized.

In an interior house at one end were collected the relics of the tribe. These consisted of several round-looking stones, two deer's heads, and other inferior trumpery. The stones turn black if the tribe is to be beaten in war, and red if to be victorious; any one touching them would be sure to die; if lost, the tribe would be ruined.

The account of the deer's heads is still more curious: A young Dyak having dreamed the previous night that he should become a great warrior, observed two deer swimming across the river, and killed them; a storm came on with thunder and lightning, and darkness came over the face of the earth; he died immediately, but came to life again, and became a rumah guna (literally a useful house) and chief of his tribe; the two deer still live, and remain to watch over the affairs of the tribe. These heads have descended from their ancestors from the time when they first became a tribe and inhabited the mountain. Food is always kept placed before them, and renewed from time to time. While in the circular building, which our party named "the scullery," a young chief (Meta) seemed to take great pride in answering our interrogatories respecting different skulls which we took down from their hooks: two belonged to chiefs of a tribe who had made a desperate defence; and judging from the incisions on the heads, each of which must have been mortal, it must have been a desperate affair. Among other trophies was half a head, the skull separated from across between the eyes, in the same manner that you would divide that of a hare or rabbit to get at the brain—this was their division of the head of an old woman, which was taken when another (a friendly) tribe was present, who likewise claimed their half. I afterward saw these tribes share a head. But the skulls, the account of which our informant appeared to dwell on with the greatest delight, were those which were taken while the owners were asleep—cunning with them being the perfection of warfare. We slept in their "scullery;" and my servant Ashford, who happened to be a sleep-walker, that night jumped out of the window, and unluckily on the steep side; and had not the ground been well turned up by the numerous pigs, and softened by rain, he must have been hurt.

May 25th.—Having returned to our boats, we moved up another branch of the river, for the purpose of deer-shooting, and landed under some large shady trees. The sportsmen divided into two small parties, and, under the guidance of the natives, went in search of game, leaving the remainder of the party to prepare dinner against our return.

The distance we had to walk to get to our ground was what our guides considered nothing—some five miles through jungle; and one of the most distressing parts in jungle-walking is the having to climb over the fallen trunks of immense trees.

A short time before sunset we came to a part of the jungle that opened on to a large swamp, with long rank grass about six feet high, across which was a sort of Dyak bridge. The guide having made signs for me to advance, I cautiously crept to the edge of the jungle; and after some little trouble, and watching the direction of his finger, I observed the heads of two deer, male and female, protruding just above the grass at about sixty yards' distance. From the manner the doe was moving about her long ears, it had, to my view, all the appearance of a rabbit. Shooting for the pot, I selected her. As soon as I fired, some of my boat's crew made a dash into the grass; and in an instant three of them were nearly up to their chins in mud and water, and we had some difficulty in dragging them out: Our Malay guide more knowingly crossed the bridge; and being acquainted with the locality, reached the deer from the opposite side, taking care to utter a prayer and cut the throat with the head in the direction of the Prophet's tomb at Mecca, without which ceremony no true follower of Islam could partake of the meat. The doe was struck just below the ear; and my native companion appeared much astonished at the distance and deadly effect with which my smooth-bored Westley Richards had conveyed the ball.

The buck had got off before the smoke had cleared sufficiently for me to see him. From what I had heard, I was disappointed at not seeing more game. The other party had not killed anything, although they caught a little fawn, having frightened away the mother.

My time was so occupied during my stay in Borneo, that I am unable to give any account of the sport to be found in the island. Neither had Mr. Brooke seen much of it; unless an excursion or two he had made in search of new specimens of the ourang-outang, or mias, may be brought under that head. This excursion he performed not only with the permission and under the protection, but as the guest, of the piratical chief Seriff Sahib; little thinking that, in four years afterward, he would himself, as a powerful rajah, be the cause of destroying his town, and driving him from the country.

So much for sporting. The pleasure, I believe, increases in proportion to the risk. But, while on the subject, I may mention that of pig-shooting, which I found an amusement not to be despised, especially if you approach your game before life is extinct. The jaws are long, tusks also, and sharp as a razor; and when once wounded, the animals evince a strong inclination to return the compliment: they are active, cunning, and very fast. I shot several at different times. The natives also describe a very formidable beast, the size of a large bullock, found farther to the northward, which they appear to hold in great dread. This I conceive to be a sort of bison; and if so, the sporting in Borneo altogether is not so bad.

The following day we went to other ground for deer; but the Dyaks had now enjoyed peace so long that the whole country was in a state of cultivation; and after scrambling over tracts of wild-looking country, in which Mr. Brooke, two years before, had seen the deer in hundreds, we returned to our boats, and down the river to Sarawak.

We now began to prepare in earnest for work of another sort. The news of our intended attack on the Sarebus pirates had soon reached them, and spread all over the country; and we had daily accounts of the formidable resistance they intended to make. By the 4th July our preparations were complete, and the ship had dropped down to the mouth of the river. I forgot to mention that all the adjoining seriffs had, in the greatest consternation, sent me assurances of their future good intentions. Seriff Jaffer, who lived with an industrious but warlike race of Dyaks up the Linga river, a branch of the Batang Lupar, had never been known to commit piracy, and had been frequently at war with both the Sarebus and Sakarrans, offered to join our expedition. From Seriff Sahib, who lived up a river at Sadong, adjoining the Sarebus territory, and to whom the "Serpent" Macota had gone, Mr. Brooke and myself had invitations to partake of a feast on our way to the Sarebus river. This was accompanied with a present of a couple of handsome spears and a porcupine, and also an offer to give up the women and children he had, with the assistance of the Sakarran pirates, captured from the poor Sow Dyaks up the Sarawak.

Farther to the eastward, and up the Batang Lupar, into which the Sakarran runs, lived another powerful seriff by the name of Muller, elder brother and coadjutor of Seriff Sahib. These all, however, through fear at the moment, sent in submissive messages; but their turn had not yet come, and we proceeded toward the Sarebus.

The island of Burong, off which the Dido was to remain at anchor, we made the first place of rendezvous. The force from the Dido consisted of her pinnace, two cutters, and a gig; beside which Mr. Brooke lent us his native-built boat, the Jolly Bachelor, carrying a long six-pounder brass gun and thirty of our men; also a large tope of thirty-five tons, which carried a well-supplied commissariat, as well as ammunition.

The native force was extensive; but I need only mention the names of those from Sarawak. The three chiefs (the Tumangong and two Patingis, Gapoor and Ali) had two large boats, each carrying about 180 men. Then there was the rajah's large, heavy boat, with the rascally Borneons and about 40 men, and sundry other Sarawak boats; and, beside, a Dyak force of about 400 men from the different tribes of Lundu, Sow, Singe, &c. Of course, it caused some trouble to collect this wild, undisciplined armament, and two or three successive points of rendezvous were necessary; and it was the morning of the 8th before we entered the river. Lieutenant Wilmot Horton was to command the expedition; with him, in the pinnace, were Mr. W. L. Partridge, mate; Dr. Simpson, assistant-surgeon; Mr. Hallowes, midshipman; 14 seamen, and 5 marines. In the first cutter was Mr. D'Aeth, Mr. Douglas, from Sarawak, and Mr. Collins, the boatswain; in the second cutter, Mr. Elliott, the master, and Mr. Jenkins, midshipman. The Jolly Bachelor was commanded by Lieutenant Tottenham, and Mr. Comber, midshipman, with Mr. Brooke's medical friend, Dr. Treacher, and an amateur gentleman, Mr. Ruppel, from Sarawak. The force from the Dido was about 80, officers and men. The command of the boats, when sent away from a man-of-war, is the perquisite of the first lieutenant. My curiosity, however, would not allow me to resist the temptation of attending the party in my gig; and I had my friend Mr. Brooke as a companion, who was likewise attended by a sampan and crew he had taken with him to Sarawak from Singapore. His coxswain, Seboo, we shall all long remember: he was civil only to his master, and, I believe, brave while in his company. He was a stupid-looking and powerfully-built sort of savage, always praying, eating, smiling, or sleeping. When going into action, he always went down on his knees to pray, holding his loaded musket before him. He was, however, a curious character, and afforded us great amusement—took good care of himself and his master, but cared for no one else.

In the second gig was Lieutenant E. Gunnell, whose troublesome duty it was to preserve order throughout this extensive musketoe fleet, and to keep the natives from pressing too closely on the rear of our boats—an office which became less troublesome as we approached the scene of danger. The whole formed a novel, picturesque, and exciting scene; and it was curious to contemplate the different feelings that actuated the separate and distinct parties—the odd mixture of Europeans, Malays, and Dyaks, the different religions, and the eager and anxious manner in which all pressed forward. The novelty of the thing was quite sufficient to excite our Jacks, after having been cooped up so long on board ship, to say nothing of the chance of a broken head.

Of the Malays and Dyaks who accompanied us, some came from curiosity, some from attachment to Mr. Brooke, and many for plunder, but I think the majority to gratify revenge, as there were but few of the inhabitants on the north coast of Borneo who had not suffered more or less from the atrocities of the Sarebus and Sakarran pirates—either their houses burned, their relations murdered, or their wives and children captured and sold into slavery.

We did not get far up the river the first day, as the tope was very slow, and carried that most essential part of all expeditions, the commissariat. Patingi Ali, who had been sent the day before to await the force in the mouth of the Sarebus, fell in with five or six native boats, probably on the look-out for us, to which he gave chase, and captured one, the rest retreating up the river.

On the 9th June, 1843, we had got some thirty miles in the same direction; every thing was in order; and, as we advanced, I pulled from one end of my little fleet to the other, and felt much the same sort of pride as Sir William Parker must have experienced when leading seventy-five sail of British ships up the Yeang-tse Keang river into the very heart of the Celestial Empire. It rained hard; but we were well supplied with kajans, a mat admirably adapted to keep out the wet; and securely covered in, my gig had all the appearance of a native boat, especially as I had substituted paddles for oars. In this manner I frequently went a little in advance of the force; and on the 9th I came on a couple of boats, hauled close in under the jungle, apparently perfectly unconscious of my approach. I concluded them to be part of the small fleet of boats that had been chased, the previous day, in the mouth of the river; and when abreast of them, and within range, I fired from my rifle. The crews of each boat immediately precipitated themselves into the water, and escaped into the jungle. They were so closely covered in, that I did not see any one at first; but I found that my ball had passed through both sides of an iron kettle, in which they were boiling some rice. How astonished the cook must have been! On coming up, our Dyak followers dashed into the jungle in pursuit of the fugitives, but without success.

We moved on leisurely with the flood-tide, anchoring always on the ebb, by which means we managed to collect our stragglers and keep the force together. Toward the evening, by the incessant sound of distant gongs, we were aware that our approach was known, and that preparations were making to repel us. These noises were kept up all night; and we occasionally heard the distant report of ordnance, which was fired, of course, to intimidate us. During the day, several deserted boats were taken from the banks of the river and destroyed, some of them containing spears, shields, and ammunition, with a few fire-arms.

The place we brought up at for the night was called Boling; but here the river presented a troublesome and dangerous obstacle in what is called the bore, caused by the tide coming in with a tremendous rush, as if an immense wave of the sea had suddenly rolled up the stream, and, finding itself confined on either side, extended across, like a high bank of water, curling and breaking as it went, and, from the frightful velocity with which it passes up, carrying all before it. There are, however, certain bends of the river where the bore does not break across: it was now our business to look out for and gain these spots between the times of its activity. The natives hold them in great dread.

From Boling the river becomes less deep, and not safe for large boats; so that here we were obliged to leave our tope with the commissariat, and a sufficient force for her protection, as we had received information that thirteen piratical boats had been some time cruising outside, and were daily expected up the river on their return, when our unguarded tope would have made them an acceptable prize. In addition to this, we were now fairly in the enemy's country: and for all we knew, hundreds of canoes might have been hid in the jungle, ready to lanch. Just below Boling, the river branches off to the right and left; that to the left leading to another nest of pirates at Pakoo, who are (by land) in communication with those of Paddi, the place it was our intention to attack first.

Having provisioned our boats for six days, and provided a strong guard to remain with the tope, the native force not feeling themselves safe separated from the main body,—we started, a smaller and more select party than before, but, in my opinion, equally formidable, leaving about 150 men. This arrangement gave but little satisfaction to those left behind, our men not liking to exchange an expedition where a fight was certain, for a service in which it was doubtful, although their position was one of danger, being open to attack from three different parts of the river. Our party now consisted of the Dido's boats, the three Datus from Sarawak, and some Sow Dyaks, eager for heads and plunder. We arrived at our first resting-place early in the afternoon, and took up a position in as good order as the small space would admit.

I secured my gig close to the bank, under the shade of a large tree, at some little distance from the fleet of boats; and, by myself, contemplated my novel position—in command of a mixed force of 500 men, some seventy miles up a river in the interior of Borneo; on the morrow about to carry all the horrors of war among a race of savage pirates, whose country no force had ever yet dared to invade, and who had been inflicting with impunity every sort of cruelty on all whom they encountered, for more than a century.

As the sun went down, the scene was beautiful, animated by the variety and picturesque appearance of the native prahus, and the praying of the Mussulman, with his face in the direction of the Prophet's tomb, bowing his head to the deck of his boat, and absorbed in devotions from which nothing could withdraw his attention. For a time—it being that for preparing the evening meal—no noise was made: it was a perfect calm; and the rich foliage was reflected in the water as in a mirror, while a small cloud of smoke ascended from each boat, to say nothing of that from my cigar, which added much to the charm I then experienced.

Late in the evening, when the song and joke passed from boat to boat, and the lights from the different fires were reflected in the water, the scenery was equally pleasing; but later still, when the lights were out, there being no moon, and the banks overhung with trees, it was so dark that no one could see beyond his own boat.

A little after midnight, a small boat was heard passing up the river, and was regularly hailed by us in succession; to which they replied, "We belong to your party." And it was not until the yell of triumph, given by six or eight voices, after they had (with a strong flood-tide in their favor) shot past the last of our boats, that we found how we had been imposed on.


Ascent of the river to Paddi.—Town taken and burnt.—Narrow escape of a reinforcement of friendly Dyaks.—Night-attack by the pirates.—Conference: they submit.—Proceed against Pakoo.—Dyak treatment of dead enemies.—Destruction of Pakoo, and submission of the pirates.—Advance upon Rembas.—The town destroyed: the inhabitants yield.—Satisfactory effects of the expedition.—Death of Dr. Simpson.—Triumphant return to Sarawak.

June 11th.—We moved on immediately after the passing up of the bore, the dangers of which appeared to have been greatly exaggerated. The beating of gongs and discharge of cannon had been going on the whole of the previous night.

The scenery improved in beauty every yard that we advanced; but our attention was drawn from it by the increase of yelling as we approached the scene of action. Although as yet we had only heard our enemies, our rapid advance with a strong tide must have been seen by them from the jungle on the various hills which now rose to our view.

Being in my gig, somewhat ahead of the boats, I had the advantage of observing all that occurred. The scene was the most exciting I ever experienced. We had no time for delay or consideration: the tide was sweeping us rapidly up; and had we been inclined to retreat then, we should have found it difficult. A sudden turn in the river brought us (Mr. Brooke was by my side) in front of a steep hill which rose from the bank. It had been cleared of jungle, and long grass grew in its place. As we hove in sight, several hundred savages rose up, and gave one of their war-yells: it was the first I had heard. No report from musketry or ordnance could ever make a man's heart feel so small as mine did at that horrid yell: but I had no leisure to think. I had only time for a shot at them with my double barrel, as they rushed down the steep, while I was carried past. I soon after heard the report of our large boat's heavy gun, which must have convinced them that we likewise were prepared.

On the roof of a long building, on the summit of the hill, were several warriors performing a war-dance, which it would be difficult to imitate on such a stage. As these were not the forts we were in search of, we did not delay longer than to exchange a few shots in sweeping along.

Our next obstacle was more troublesome, being a strong barrier right across the river, formed of two rows of trees placed firmly in the mud, with their tops crossed and secured together by ratans; and along the fork, formed by the crossing of the tops of these stakes, were other trees firmly secured. Rapidly approaching this barrier, I observed a small opening that might probably admit a canoe; and gathering good way, and putting my gig's head straight at it, I squeezed through. On passing it the scene again changed, and I had before me three formidable-looking forts, which lost not a moment in opening a discharge of cannon on my unfortunate gig. Luckily their guns were properly elevated for the range of the barrier; and, with the exception of a few straggling grape-shot that splashed the water round us, the whole went over our heads. For a moment I found myself cut off from my companions, and drifting fast upon the enemy. The banks of the river were covered with warriors, yelling and rushing down to possess themselves of my boat and its crew. I had some difficulty in getting my long gig round, and paddling up against the stream; but, while my friend Brooke steered the boat, my cockswain and myself kept up a fire with tolerable aim on the embrasures, to prevent, if possible, their reloading before the pinnace, our leading boat, could bring her twelve-pound carronade to bear. I was too late to prevent the pinnace falling athwart the barrier, in which position she had three men wounded. With the assistance of some of our native followers, the ratan-lashings which secured the heads of the stakes were soon cut through; and I was not sorry when I found the Dido's first cutter on the same side with myself. The other boats soon followed; and while the pinnace kept up a destructive fire on the fort, Mr. D'Aeth, who was the first to land, jumped on shore, with his crew, at the foot of the hill on the top of which the nearest fort stood, and at once rushed for the summit. This mode of warfare—this dashing at once in the very face of their fort—was so novel and incomprehensible to our enemies, that they fled, panic-struck, into the jungle; and it was with the greatest difficulty that our leading men could get even a snap-shot at the rascals as they went.

That evening the country was illuminated for miles by the burning of the capital, Paddi, and adjacent villages; at which work, and plundering, our native followers were most expert.

At Paddi the river branches off to the right and left; and it was on the tongue of land formed by them that the forts were very cleverly placed. We took all their guns, and burned the stockades level with the ground.

The banks of the river were here so confined, that a man might with ease throw a spear across; and, as the jungle was close, it was necessary to keep pretty well on the alert. For the greater part of the night, the burning of the houses made it as bright as day. In the evening, Drs. Simpson and Treacher amputated a poor fellow's arm close to the shoulder, which, in the cramped space of the boat, was no easy operation. He was one of our best men, and captain of the forecastle on board the Dido.

Early on the following morning (12th) our boats, with the exception of the Jolly Bachelor, now become the hospital, proceeded up the two branches of the river; almost all the native force remaining to complete the work of destruction.

An accident had nearly occurred at this period. A report had reached us that several large boats—supposed to be a fleet of Sarebus pirates returning from a cruise—were in the river; and knowing that they could not well attack and pass our force at Boling without our hearing of it, I took no further notice of the rumor, intending to go down in my gig afterward and have a look at them. While we were at breakfast in the Jolly Bachelor, a loud chattering of many voices was heard, attended by a great beating of tom-toms; and suddenly a large prahu, crowded with savages, came sweeping round the bend of the river, rapidly nearing us with a strong flood-tide. As she advanced, others hove in sight. In a moment pots and spoons were thrown down, arms seized, and the brass six-pounder, loaded with grape and canister, was on the point of being fired, when Williamson, the only person who understood their character, made us aware that they were a friendly tribe of Dyaks, from the River Linga, coming to our assistance, or, more likely, coming to seek for plunder and the heads of their enemies, with whom they had for many years been at war. Those in the leading boat had, however, a narrow escape. I had already given the order to fire; but luckily the priming had been blown off from the six-pounder. Had it not been so, fifty at least out of the first hundred would have been sent to their long homes. They were between eight and nine hundred strong. The scene to me was indeed curious and exciting: for the wild appearance of these fellows exceeded any thing I had yet witnessed. Their war-dresses—each decorating himself according to his own peculiar fancy, in a costume the most likely at once to adorn the wearer and strike terror into the enemy—made a remarkable show. Each had a shield and a handful of spears; about one in ten was furnished with some sort of firearm, which was of more danger to himself or his neighbor than to any one else. They wore short padded jackets, capable of resisting the point of a wooden spear.

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