The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido - For the Suppression of Piracy
by Henry Keppel
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On the 23d, after waiting to obtain meridian observations, we moved down as far as the mouth of the river Linga, and then dispatched one of our Malay chiefs to the town of Bunting to summon Seriff Jaffer to a conference. This, however, he declined on a plea of ill health, sending assurance, at the same time, of his goodwill and inclination to assist us in our endeavors to suppress piracy.

On the night of the 24th, we once again reached Sarawak, where the rejoicings of the previous year, when we returned from a successful expedition, were repeated. On the third evening after our return, we were just settling down to enjoy a little rest, having got our sick and wounded into comfortable quarters, and were beginning heartily to indulge in the comforts of a bed after our fatigue and harassing duties in open boats during the previous three weeks, when information arrived that Seriff Sahib had taken refuge in the Linga river, where, assisted by Seriff Jaffer, he was again collecting his followers. No time was to be lost; and on the 28th, with the addition of the Samarang's boats, we once more started, to crush, if possible, this persevering and desperate pirate; and, in the middle of the night, came to an anchor inside the Linga river.

When our expedition had been watched safely outside the Batang Lupar, on its return to Sarawak, all those unfortunate families that had concealed themselves in the jungle, after the destruction of the different towns of Patusen and Undop, had emerged from their hiding-places, and, embarking on rafts, half-ruined boats, or, in short, anything that would float, were in the act of tiding and working their passage toward the extensive and flourishing town of Bunting. Their dismay can well be imagined, when, at daylight on the morning of the 29th, they found themselves carried by the tide close alongside the long, black, terror-spreading steamer, and in the midst of our augmented fleet. Escape to them was next to hopeless; nor did the softer sex seem much to mind the change—probably thinking that to be swallowed up by the white man was not much worse than dying in the jungle of starvation. I need not say that, instead of being molested, they were supplied with such provisions and assistance as our means would permit us to afford, and then allowed to pass quietly on; in addition to which we dispatched several of our native followers into the Batang Lupar, to inform the poor fugitives that our business was with the chiefs and instigators of piracy, and not to molest the misguided natives.

With the ebb tide a large number of boats came down from the town—the news of our arrival having reached them during the night—containing the principal chiefs, with assurances of their pacific intentions, and welcoming us with presents of poultry, goats, fruit, &c., which we received, paying the fair market-price for them, either by way of barter or in hard dollars. They assured us that Seriff Sahib should not be received among them; but that they had heard of his having arrived at Pontranini, on a small tributary stream some fifty miles above their town. We immediately decided on proceeding in pursuit before he could have time to establish himself in any force. It was also evident that the Balow Dyaks, who inhabit this part of the country, were decidedly in favor of our operations against Seriff Sahib, although afraid—on account of Seriff Jaffer and his Malays—to express their opinions openly. We also ascertained that Macota, with a remnant of his followers, was hourly expected in the mouth of the river, from the jungle, into which he had been driven during the fight on the Undop heights. Knowing that it would fare badly with this treacherous and cunning, although now harmless chief, should he fall into the hands of any of our native followers, I dispatched two boats to look out for and bring him to us alive. This they succeeded in doing, securing him in a deep muddy jungle, into which he had thrown himself upon perceiving the approach of our men. Leaving him a prisoner on board the Phlegethon, we, with the floodtide pushed forward in pursuit of Seriff Sahib.

For two days we persevered in dragging our boats, for the distance of twenty miles, up a small jungly creek, which, to all appearance, was impassable for anything but canoes. But it had the desired effect, proving to the natives what determination could achieve in accomplishing our object, even beyond the hopes of our sanguine Balow Dyak guides. The consequence was, that Seriff Sahib made a final and precipitate retreat, across the mountains, in the direction of the Pontiana river. So close were we on his rear—harassed as he was by the Balow Dyaks, who had refused him common means of subsistence—that he threw away his sword, and left behind him a child whom he had hitherto carried in the jungle; and this once dreaded chief was now driven, single and unattended, out of the reach of doing any further mischief.

The boats returned, and took up a formidable position off the town of Bunting, where we summoned Seriff Jaffer to a conference. To this he was obliged to attend, as the natives had learnt that we were not to be trifled with, and would have forced him on board rather than have permitted their village to be destroyed. With Pangeran Budrudeen, acting as the representative of the sultan, Seriff Jaffer was obliged to resign all pretensions to the government of the province over which he had hitherto held sway, since it was considered, from his being a Malay and from his relationship to Seriff Sahib, that he was an unsafe person to be intrusted With so important a post.

A second conference on shore took place, at which the chiefs of all the surrounding country attended, when the above sentence was confirmed. On this occasion I had the satisfaction of witnessing what must have been—from the effect I observed it to have produced on the hearers—a fine piece of oratory, delivered by Mr. Brooke in the native tongue, with a degree of fluency I had never witnessed before, even in a Malay. The purport of it, as I understood, was, to point out emphatically the horrors of piracy on the one hand, which it was the determination of the British government to suppress, and on the other hand, the blessings arising from peace and trade, which it was equally our wish to cultivate; and it concluded by fully explaining, that the measures lately adopted by us against piracy were for the protection of all the peaceful communities along the coast. So great was the attention bestowed during the delivery of this speech that the dropping of a pin might have been heard.

From these people many assurances were received of their anxiety and willingness to cooperate with us in our laudable undertaking; and one and all were alike urgent that the government of their river should be transferred to the English.

On the 4th September the force again reached Sarawak, and thus terminated a most successful expedition against the worst pirates on the coast of Borneo.

We found the Samarang off the Morotaba entrance, when Mr. Brooke and myself became the guests of Sir Edward Belcher for several days, during which time we made excursions to all the small islands in that neighborhood, discovered large quantities of excellent oysters, and had some very good hog-shooting. Afterward, accompanied by the boats of the Samarang, we paid a visit to the Lundu Dyaks, which gave them great delight. They entertained us at a large feast, when the whole of the late expedition was fought over again, and a war-dance with the newly-acquired heads of the Sakarran pirates was performed for our edification. Later in the evening, two of the elder chiefs got up, and, walking up and down the long gallery, commenced a dialogue, for the information, as they said, of the women, children, and poorer people who were obliged to remain at home. It consisted in putting such questions to one another as should elicit all the particulars of the late expedition, such as, what had become of different celebrated Sakarran chiefs (whom they named)? how had they been destroyed? how did they die? by whom had they been slain? &c. All these inquiries received the most satisfactory replies, in which the heroic conduct of themselves and the white men was largely dwelt upon. While this was performing, the two old warriors, with the heads of their enemies suspended from their shoulders like a soldier's cartouch-box, stumped up and down, striking the floor with their clubs, and getting very excited. How long it lasted none of our party could tell, as one and all dropped off to sleep during the recital. Mr. Brooke has given so good a description of these kind and simple people that I need not here farther notice them.

Shortly after our return to the Samarang, she, getting short of provisions, sailed for Singapore, and Mr. Brooke and myself went up to Sarawak, where the Dido was still lying. Great rejoicings and firing of cannon, as on a former occasion, announced our return; and, after paying our respects to the rajah, we visited the Tumangong and Patingis.

A curious ceremony is generally performed on the return of the chiefs from a fortunate war expedition, which is not only done by way of a welcome back, but is supposed to insure equal success on the next excursion. This ceremony was better performed at the old Tumangong's than at the other houses. After entering the principal room we seated ourselves in a semicircle on the mat floor, when the old chief's three wives advanced to welcome us, with their female relatives, all richly and prettily dressed in sarongs suspended from the waist, and silken scarfs worn gracefully over one shoulder, just hiding or exposing as much of their well-shaped persons as they thought most becoming. Each of these ladies in succession taking a handful of yellow rice, threw it over us, repeating some mystical words, and dilating on our heroic deeds, and then they sprinkled our heads with gold-dust. This is generally done by grating a lump of gold against a dried piece of shark's skin. Two of these ladies bore the pretty names of Inda and Amina. Inda was young, pretty, and graceful; and although she had borne her husband no children, she was supposed to have much greater influence over him than the other two. Report said that she had a temper, and that the Tumangong was much afraid of her; but this may have been only Sarawak scandal. She brought her portion of gold-dust already grated, and wrapped up in a piece of paper, from which she took a pinch; and in reaching to sprinkle some over my head, she, by accident, put the prettiest little foot on to my hand, which, as she wore neither shoes nor stockings, she did not hurt sufficiently to cause me to withdraw it. After this ceremony we (the warriors) feasted and smoked together, attended on by the ladies.

Another conference with Muda Hassim took place, and I subsequently quitted Sarawak for Singapore, intending to re-provision the Dido at that port, and then return to Sarawak, in order to convey the rajah and his suite to Borneo Proper. At Singapore, however, I found orders for England, and sailed accordingly; but the service alluded to was readily performed by Sir Edward Belcher, in H.M.S. Samarang, accompanied by the H. C.'s steamer Phlegethon.

On my return to England I had the gratification to learn that Mr. Brooke had been appointed agent for the British government in Borneo, and that Captain Bethune, R.N., C.B., had been dispatched on special service to that island: events I cannot but consider of great importance to the best interests of humanity, and to the extension of British commerce throughout the Malayan Archipelago.


Later portion of Mr. Brooke's Journal.—Departure of Captain Keppel, and arrival of Sir E. Belcher.—Mr. Brooke proceeds, with Muda Hassim, in the Samarang to Borneo.—Labuan examined.—Returns to Sarawak.—Visit of Lingire, a Sarebus chief.—The Dyaks of Tumma and Bandar Cassim.—Meets an assembly of Malays and Dyaks.—Arrival of Lingi, as a deputation from the Sakarran chiefs.—The Malay character.—Excursion up the country.—Miserable effects of excess in opium-smoking.—Picturesque situation of the Sow village of Ra-at.—Nawang.—Feast at Ra-at.—Returns home.—Conferences with Dyak chiefs.

The return to England of Captain Bethune, C.B., bringing with him a further portion of Mr. Brooke's Journal to my charge, enables me to afford my readers some interesting details relative to the important events that have occurred in Borneo subsequent to my departure from Sarawak.

"January, 1845.—The departure of the Dido left me sad and lonely, for Captain Keppel had been really my companion and friend; and he so thoroughly entered into my views for the suppression of piracy, and made them his own, that I may not expect any successor to act with the same vigour and the same decision. Gallant Didos! I would ask no further aid or protection than I received from you. Sir Edward Belcher, with the Phlegethon in company, arrived not long after the Dido's departure, and conveyed the Rajah Muda Hassim and his train to Borneo Proper. H.M.S. Samarang and Phlegethon visited and examined Labuan, and proceeded thence to Ambun. Ambun is a miserable village; and it at once gave the lie to the report of a European female being there in captivity, for no poor Orang Kaya could retain such a prize. The inhabitants of Ambun are Badjows, and the country people or Dyaks of the interior are called Dusuns, or villagers. I saw many of them, and they appeared a gentle mild race, and far less warlike by account than our Dyaks. They are not tattooed, and the sumpitan is unknown amongst them. Leaving Ambun, which is situated in a pretty bay, we proceeded to Tampasuk, a considerable town, inhabited by Illanuns and Badjows. This is a piractical town; and I was informed by an Arab in captivity there that scarcely a week passes without strife and contention amongst themselves. There likewise I received information respecting the Balagnini, the great pirates of these seas. They are represented as in habiting numerous small islands in the vicinity of Sooloo: their origin is Badjow. I apprehend there would be little difficulty in breaking their power, and curing the propensity to piracy.

"This cruise being over, I established myself quietly at Sarawak. The country is peaceable; trade flourishes; the Dyaks are content; the Malays greatly increased in number—in short, all goes well. I received a visit from Lingire, a Dyak chief of Sarebus. At first he was shy and somewhat suspicions; but a little attention soon put him at his ease. He is an intelligent man; and I hail with pleasure his advent to Sarawak, as the dawn of a friendship with the two pirate tribes. It is not alone for the benefit of these tribes that I desire to cultivate their friendship, but for the greater object of penetrating the interior through their means. There are no Malays there to impede our progress by their lies and their intrigues; and, God willing, these rivers shall be the great arteries by which civilization shall be circulated to the heart of Borneo.

"14th.—The Dyaks of Tumma, a runaway tribe from Sadong, came down last night, as Bandar Cassim of Sadong wishes still to extract property from them. Bandar Cassim I believe to be a weak man, swayed by stronger-headed and worse rascals; but, now that Seriff Sahib and Muda Hassim are no longer in the country, he retains no excuse for oppressing the poor Dyaks. Si Nankan and Tumma have already flown, and most of the other tribes are ready to follow their example, and take refuge in Sarawak. I have fully explained to the Bandar that he will lose all his Dyaks if he continues his system of oppression, and more especially if he continues to resort to that most hateful system of seizing the women and children.

"I had a large assembly of natives, Malay and Dyaks, and held forth many good maxims to them. At present, in Sarawak, we have Balows and Sarebus, mortal enemies; Lenaar, our extreme tribe, and our new Sadong tribe of Tumma. Lately we had Kantoss, from near Sarambow, in the interior of Pontiana; Undops, from that river; and Badjows, from near Lantang—tribes which had never thought of Sarawak before, and perhaps never heard the name. Oh, for power to pursue the course pointed out!

"16th.—The Julia arrived, much to my relief; and Mr. Low, a botanist and naturalist, arrived in her. He will be a great acquisition to our society, if devoted to these pursuits. The same day that the Julia entered, the Ariel left the river. I dismissed the Tumma Dyaks; re-warned Bandar Cassim of the consequences of his oppression; and had a parting interview with Lingire. I had another long talk with Lingire, and did him honor by presenting him with a spear and flag, for I believe he is true, and will be useful; and this Orang Kaya Pa-muncha, the most powerful of these Dyaks, must be mine. Lingire described to me a great fight he once had with the Kayans, on which occasion he got ninety-one heads, and forced a large body of them to retire with inferior numbers. I asked him whether the Kayans used the sumpitan? he answered, 'Yes.' 'Did many of your men die from the wounds?' 'No; we can cure them.' This is one more proof in favor of Mr. Crawfurd's opinion that this poison is not sufficiently virulent to destroy life when the arrow is (as it mostly is) plucked instantly from the wound.

"26th.—Linn, a Sakarran chief, arrived, deputed (as he asserted, and I believe truly) by the other chiefs of Sakarran to assure me of their submission and desire for peace. He likewise stated, that false rumors spread by the Malays agitated the Dyaks; and the principal rumor was, that they would be shortly attacked again by the white men. These rumors are spread by the Sariki people, to induce the Sakarrans to quit their river and take refuge in the interior of the Rejong; and once there, the Sakarrans would be in a very great measure at the mercy of the Sariki people. This is a perfect instance of Malay dealing with the Dyaks; but in this case it has failed, as the Sakarrans are too much attached to their country to quit it. I am inclined to believe their professions; and at any rate it is convenient to do so and to give them a fair trial.

"28th.—How is it to be accounted for, that the Malays have so bad a character with the public, and yet that the few who have had opportunities of knowing them well speak of them as a simple and not unamiable people? With the vulgar, the idea of a Malay—and by the Malay they mean the entire Polynesian race, with the exception of the Javanese—is that of a treacherous, blood-thirsty villain; and I believe the reason to be, that from our first intercourse to the present time, it is the Pangerans or rajahs of the country, with their followers, who are made the standard of Malay character. These rajahs, born in the purple; bred amid slaves and fighting-cocks, inheriting an undisputed power over their subjects, and under all circumstances, whether of riches or poverty, receiving the abject submission of those around their persons, are naturally the slaves of their passions—haughty, rapacious, vindictive, weak, and tenacious unto death of the paltry punctilio of their court The followers of such rajahs it is needless to describe; they are the tools of the rajah's will, and more readily disposed for evil than for good; unscrupulous, cunning, intriguing, they are prepared for any act of violence. We must next contrast these with a burly, independent trader, eager after gain; probably not over-scrupulous about the means of obtaining it, ignorant of native character, and heedless of native customs and native etiquet. The result of such a combination of ingredients causes an explosion on the slightest occasion. The European is loud, contemptuous, and abusive; the Malay cool and vindictive. The regal dignity has been insulted; the rajah has received 'shame' before his court; evil counselors are at hand to whisper the facility of revenge, and the advantages to be derived from it. The consequence too frequently follows—the captain and crew are krissed, and their vessel seized and appropriated. The repeated tragedy shocks the European mind; and the Malay has received, and continues to this day to receive, a character for treachery and bloodthirstiness. Even in these common cases an allowance must be made for the insults received, which doubtless on numerous occasions were very gross, and such flagrant violations of native customs as to merit death in native eyes; and we must bear in mind, that we never hear but one side of the tale, or only judge upon a bloody fact. It is from such samples of Malays that the general character is given by those who have only the limited means of trade for forming a judgment; but those who have known the people of the interior and lived among them, far removed from the influence of their rajahs, have given them a very different character. Simple in their habits, they are neither treacherous nor bloodthirsty; cheerful, polite, hospitable, gentle in their manners, they live in communities with fewer crimes and fewer punishments than most other people of the globe. They are passionately fond of their children, and indulgent even to a fault; and the ties of family relationship and good feeling continue in force for several generations. The feeling of the Malay, fostered by education, is acute, and his passions are roused if shame be put upon him; indeed, this dread of shame amounts to a disease; and the evil is, that it has taken a wrong direction, being more the dread of exposure or abuse, than shame or contrition for any offence.

"I have always found them good-tempered and obliging, wonderfully amenable to authority, and quite as sensible of benefits conferred, and as grateful, as other people of more favored countries. Of course there is a reverse to this picture. The worst feature of the Malay character is the want of all candor or openness, and the restless spirit of cunning intrigue which animates them, from the highest to the lowest. Like other Asiatics, truth is a rare quality among them. They are superstitious, somewhat inclined to deceit in the ordinary concerns of life, and they have neither principle nor conscience when they have the means of oppressing an infidel, and a Dyak who is their inferior in civilization and intellect.

"If this character of the Malay be summed up, it will be anything but a bad one on the whole; it will present a striking contrast to the conduct and character of the rajahs and their followers, and I think will convince any impartial inquirer, that it is easily susceptible of improvement. One of the most fertile sources of confusion is, classing at one time all the various nations of the Archipelago under the general name of Malay, and at another restricting the same term to one people, not more ancient, not the fountain-head of the others, who issued from the center of Sumatra, and spread themselves in a few parts of the Archipelago.

"The French, the German, the English, Scotch, and Irish are not more different in national character than the Malay, the Javanese, the Bugis, the Illanun, and the Dyak; and yet all these are indiscriminately called Malay, and a common character bestowed upon them. It would be as wise and as sensible to speak of a European character.

"31st.—Started on a short excursion up the country, and slept at Siniawan. Here I found a young Pangeran (who came from Sambas with Mr. Hupe, a German missionary) enchained in the delights of opium. He left Sarawak for Sambas two months since, proceeded five hours' journey, and has since been smoking the drug and sleeping alternately. His life passes thus: between four and five he wakes, yawns, and smokes a pipe or two, which fits him for the labors of taking his guitar and playing for an hour. Then follows a slightly tasted meal, a pipe or two succeeds, and content and merriment for another hour or two. About eight o'clock the gentleman reclines, and pipe succeeds pipe till, toward daylight, he sinks intoxicated and stupid on his pillow, to wake up again in due course to play again the same part. Poor wretch! two months of this life of dissipation have reduced him to a shadow—two more months will consign him to his grave.

"Feb. 1st.—Started after breakfast, and paddled against a strong current past Tundong, and, some distance above, left the main stream and entered the branch to the right, which is narrower, and rendered difficult of navigation by the number of fallen trees which block up the bed, and which sometimes obliged us to quit our boat, and remove all the kajang covers, so as to enable us to haul the boat under the huge trunks. The main stream was rapid and turbid, swollen by a fresh, and its increase of volume blocked up the waters of the tributary, so as to render the current inconsiderable. The Dyaks have thrown several bridges across the rivers, which they effect with great ingenuity; but I was surprised on one of these bridges to observe the traces of the severe flood which we had about a fortnight since. The water on that occasion must have risen twenty feet perpendicularly, and many of the trees evidently but recently fallen, are the effects of its might. The walk to Rat, or Ra-at, is about two miles along a decent path. Nothing can be more picturesque than the hill and the village. The former is a huge lump (I think of granite), almost inaccessible, with bold bare sides, rising out of a rich vegetation at the base, and crowned with trees. The height is about 500 feet; and about a hundred feet lower is a shoulder of the hill on which stands the eagle-nest-like village of Ra-at, the ascent to which is like climbing by a ladder up the side of a house. This is one of the dwelling-places of the Sow Dyaks, a numerous but dispersed tribe. Their chief, or Orang Kaya, is an imbecile old man, and the virtual headship is in the hands of Nimok, of whom more hereafter. Our friends seemed pleased to see us, and Nimok apologized for so few of his people being present, as the harvest was approaching; but being anxious to give a feast on the occasion of my first visit to their tribe, it was arranged that to-morrow I should shoot deer, and the day following return to the mountain. The views on either side from the village are beautiful—one view enchanting from its variety and depth, more especially when lighted up by the gleam of a showery sunshine, as I first saw it. Soon, however, after our arrival, the prospect was shut out by clouds, and a soaking rain descended, which lasted for the greater part of the night.

"2d.—Started after breakfast, and after a quiet walk of about three hours through a pleasant country of alternate hill and valley, we saw the valley of Nawang below us. Nawang is the property of the Singe Dyaks, and is cultivated by poor families, at the head of which is Niarak. The house contained three families, and our party was distributed among them, ourselves, i. e. Low, Crookshank, and myself, occupying one small apartment with a man, his wife, and daughter. The valley presented one of the most charming scenes to be imagined—a clearing amid hills of moderate elevation, with the distant mountains in the background; a small stream ran through it, which, being damned in several places, enables the cultivator to flood his padi-fields. The padi looked beautifully green. A few palms and plantains fringed the farm at intervals, while the surrounding hills were clothed in their native jungle. Here and there a few workmen in the fields heightened the effect; and the scene, as evening closed, was one of calm repose, and, I may say, of peace. The cocoa-nut, the betel, the sago, and the gno or gomati, are the four favorite palms of the Dyaks. In their simple mode of life, these four trees supply them many necessaries and luxuries. The sago furnishes food; and after the pith has been extracted, the outer part forms a rough covering for the rougher floor, on which the farmer sleeps. The leaf of the sago is preferable for the roofing of houses to the nibong. The gomati, or gno, gives the black fibre which enables the owner to manufacture rope or cord for his own use; and over and above, the toddy of this palm is a luxury daily enjoyed. When we entered, this toddy was produced in large bamboos, both for our use and that of our attendant Dyaks; I thought it, however, very bad. In the evening we were out looking for deer, and passed many a pleasant spot which once was a farm, and which will become a farm again. These the Dyaks called rapack, and they are the favorite feeding-grounds of the deer. To our disappointment we did not get a deer, which we had reckoned on as an improvement to our ordinary dinner-fare. A sound sleep soon descended on our party, and the night passed in quiet; but it is remarkable how vigilant their mode of life renders the Dyaks. Their sleep is short and interrupted; they constantly rise, blow up the fire, and look out on the night: it is rarely that some or other of them are not on the move.

"Yearly the Dyaks take new ground for their farm; yearly they fence it in, and undergo the labor of reclaiming new land; for seven years the land lies fallow, and then may be used again. What a waste of labor! more especially in these rich and watered valleys, which, in the hands of the Chinese, might produce two crops yearly.

"3d.—Took leave of this pleasant valley, and by another and shorter road than we came reached Ra-at. We arrived in good time on the hill, and found everything prepared for a feast. There was nothing new in this feast. A fowl was killed with the usual ceremony; afterward a hog. The hog is paid for by the company at a price commensurate with its size: a split bamboo is passed round the largest part of the body, and knots tied on it at given distances; and according to the number of these knots are the number of pasus or padi for the price.

"Our host of Nawang, Niarak, arrived to this feast with a plentiful supply of toddy; and before the dance commenced, we were requested to take our seats. The circumstances of the tribe, and the ability of Nimok, rendered this ceremony interesting to me. The Sow tribe has long been split into four parties, residing at different places. Gunong Sow, the original locality, was attacked by the Sakarran Dyaks, and thence Nimok and his party retired to Ra-at. A second smaller party subsequently located at or near Bow, as being preferable; while the older divisions of Jaguen and Ahuss lived at the places so named. Nimok's great desire was to gather together his scattered tribe, and to become de facto its head. My presence and the Datus' was a good opportunity for gathering the tribe; and Nimok hoped to give them the impression that we countenanced his proposition. The dances over, Nimok pronounced an oration: he dwelt on the advantages of union; how desirous he was to benefit his tribe; how constantly it was his custom to visit Sarawak in order to watch over the interests of the tribe—the trouble was his, the advantage theirs; but how, without union, could they hope to gain any advantage—whether the return of their remaining captive women, or any other? He proposed this union; and that, after the padi was ripe, they should all live at Ra-at, where, as a body, they were always ready to obey the commands of the Tuan Besar or the Datu.

"This was the substance of Nimok's speech. But the effect of his oratory was not great; for the Bow, and other portions of the tribe, heard coldly his proposition, though they only opposed it in a few words. It was evident they had no orator at all a match for Nimok: a few words from Niana drew forth a second oration. He glanced at their former state; he spoke with animation of their enemies, and dwelt on their great misfortune at Sow; he attacked the Singe as the cause of these misfortunes: and spoke long and eloquently of things past, of things present, and things to come. He was seated the whole time; his voice varied with his subject, and was sweet and expressive; his action was always moderate, principally laying down the law with his finger on the mats. Niarak, our Singe friend, attempted a defence of his tribe; but he had drunk too freely of his own arrack; and his speech was received with much laughter, in which he joined. At this juncture I retired, after saying a few words; but the talk was kept up for several hours after, amid feasting and drinking.

"4th.—After breakfast, walked to our boats, and at six P.M. reached home, just in time; weather very rainy.

"10th.—Nothing to remark in these days, except the ordinary course of business and of life.

"13th.—The Tumangong returned from Sadong, and brought me a far better account of that place than I had hoped for. It appears that they really are desirous to govern well, and to protect the Dyaks; and fully impressed with the caution I gave them, that unless they protect and foster their tribes, they will soon lose them from their removal to Sarawak.

"One large tribe, the Maluku, a branch of the Sibnowans, are, it appears, very desirous of being under my protection. It is a tempting offer, and I should like to have them; but I must not deprive the rulers of Sadong of the means of living comfortably, and the power of paying revenue. Protect them I both can and will. There are great numbers of Sarawak people at Sadong, all looking out for birds'-nests; new caves have been explored; mountains ascended for the first time in the search. It shows the progress of good government and security, and, at the same time, is characteristic of the Malay character. They will endure fatigue, and run risks, on the chance of finding this valuable commodity; but they will not labor steadily, or engage in pursuits which would lead to fortune by a slow progress.

"15th.—Panglima Laksa, the chief of the Undop tribe, arrived, to request, as the Badjows and Sakarrans had recently killed his people, that I would permit him to retort. At the same time came Abong Kapi, the Sakarran Malay, with eight Sakarran chiefs, named Si Miow, one of the heads, and the rest Tadong, Lengang, Barunda, Badendang, Si Bunie, Si Ludum, and Kuno, the representatives of other heads. Nothing could be more satisfactory than the interview, just over. They denied any knowledge or connection with the Badjows, who had killed some Dyaks at Undop, and said all that I could desire. They promised to obey me, and look upon me as their chief: they desired to trade, and would guaranty any Sarawak people who came to their river; but they could not answer for all the Dyaks in the Batang Lupar. It is well known, however, that the Batang Lupar Dyaks are more peaceable than those of Sakarran, and will be easily managed; and as for the breaking out of these old feuds, it is comparatively of slight importance, compared to the grand settlement; for as our influence increases we can easily put down the separate sticks of the bundle. There is a noble chance, if properly used! It may be remarked that many of their names are from some peculiarity of person, or from some quality. Tadong is a poisonous snake; but, on inquiry, I found the young chief so named had got the name from being black. They are certainly a fine-looking race.

"17th.—Plenty of conferences with the Sakarran chiefs; and, as far as I can judge, they are sincere in the main, though some reserves there may be. Treachery I do not apprehend from them; but, of course, it will be impossible, over a very numerous, powerful, and warlike tribe, to gain such an ascendency of a sudden as at once to correct their evil habits."

Here again Mr. Brooke appears to have been placed on the horns of a dilemma by his ignorance of the views of the British Government. Had his position in Borneo been certain—had he either been supported or deserted—his path of policy would have been clear; whereas he evidently did not know what the morrow would bring forth; whether it would find him with an English force at his back, or abandoned to his own resources.


Mr. Brooke's memorandum on the piracy of the Malayan Archipelago.—The measures requisite for its suppression, and for the consequent extension of British commerce in that important locality.

I cannot afford my readers a more accurate idea of the present state of piracy in the Malayan Archipelago, of the best mode of suppressing it, and of the vast field which the island of Borneo offers for the extension of British commerce, than by quoting a few of Mr. Brooke's observations on these important subjects, written before the operations of the squadron under command of Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane took place, of which an account will be given in Chapter XXII. With reference to the first topic, piracy, Mr. Brooke remarks:—

"The piracy of the Eastern Archipelago is entirely distinct from piracy in the Western world; for, from the condition of the various governments, the facilities offered by natural situation, and the total absence of all restraint from European nations, the pirate communities have attained an importance on the coasts and islands most removed from foreign settlements. Thence they issue forth and commit depredations on the native trade, enslave the inhabitants at the entrance of rivers, and attack ill-armed or stranded European vessels; and roving from place to place, they find markets for their slaves and plunder.

"The old-established Malay governments (such as Borneo and Sooloo), weak and distracted, are, probably without exception, participators in or victims to piracy; and in many cases both—purchasing from one set of pirates, and enslaved and plundered by another; and while their dependencies are abandoned, the unprotected trade languishes from the natural dread of the better-disposed natives to undertake a coasting voyage.

"It is needless to dwell upon the evil effects of piracy; but before venturing an opinion on the most effectual means of suppression, I propose briefly to give an account of such pirate communities as I am acquainted with.

"The pirates on the coast of Borneo may be classed into those who make long voyages in large heavy-armed prahus, such as the Illanuns, Balignini, &c., and the lighter Dyak fleets, which make short but destructive excursions in swift prahus, and seek to surprise rather than openly to attack their prey. A third, and probably the worst class, are usually half-bred Arab seriffs, who, possessing themselves of the territory of some Malay state, form a nucleus for piracy, a rendezvous and market for all the roving fleets; and although occasionally sending out their own followers, they more frequently seek profit by making advances, in food, arms, and gunpowder, to all who will agree to repay them at an exorbitant rate in slaves.

"The Dyaks of Sarebus and Sakarran were under the influence of two Arab seriffs, who employed them on piratical excursions, and shared in equal parts the plunder obtained. I had once the opportunity of counting ninety-eight boats about to start on a cruise; and reckoning the crew of each boat at the moderate average of twenty-five men, it gives a body of 2450 men on a piratical excursion. The piracies of these Arab seriffs and their Dyaks were so notorious, that it is needless to detail them here; but one curious feature, which throws a light on the state of society, I cannot forbear mentioning. On all occasions of a Dyak fleet being about to make a piratical excursion, a gong was beat round the town ordering a particular number of Malays to embark; and in case any one failed to obey, he was fined the sum of thirty rupees by the seriff of the place.

"The blow struck by Captain Keppel of her majesty's ship Dido on these two communities was so decisive as to have put an entire end to their piracies; the leaders Seriff Sahib and Seriff Muller have fled, the Malay population has been dispersed, and the Dyaks so far humbled, as to sue for protection; and in future, by substituting local Malay rulers of good character in lieu of the piratical seriffs, a check will be placed on the Dyaks, and they may be broken of their piratical habits, in as far as interferes with the trade of the coast.

"The next pirate horde we meet with is a mixed community of Illanuns and Badjows (or sea-gipsys) located at Tampasuk, a few miles up a small river; they are not formidable in number, and their depredations are chiefly committed on the Spanish territory; their market, until recently, being Bruni, or Borneo Proper. They might readily be dispersed and driven back to their own country; and the Dusuns, or villagers (as the name signifies), might be protected and encouraged. Seriff Houseman, a half-bred Arab, is located in Malludu Bay, and has, by account, from fifteen hundred to two thousand men with him. He is beyond doubt a pirate direct and indirect, and occasionally commands excursions in person, or employs the Illanuns of Tampasuk, and others to the eastward, who for their own convenience make common cause with him. He has no pretension to the territory he occupies; and the authority he exerts (by means of his piratical force) over the interior tribes in his vicinity, and on the island of Palawan, is of the worst and most oppressive description. This seriff has probably never come in contact with any Europeans, and consequently openly professes to hold their power in scorn.

"To my own knowledge Seriff Houseman seized and sold into slavery a boat's crew (about twenty men) of the Sultana, a merchant ship, which was burned in the Palawan passage. Within the last few months he has plundered and burned a European vessel stranded near the Mangsi Isles; and to show his entire independence of control, his contempt for European power, and his determination to continue in his present course, he has threatened to attack the city of Bruni, in consequence of the Bruni government having entered into a treaty with her majesty's government for the discouragement and suppression of piracy. This fact speaks volumes; an old-established and recognized Malay government is to be attacked by a lawless adventurer, who has seized on a portion of its territory, and lives by piracy, for venturing to treat with a foreign power for the best purposes. If any further proof of piracy were requisite, it would readily be established by numerous witnesses (themselves the victims), and by the most solemn declaration of the Bruni authorities, that peaceful traders on the high seas have been stopped by the prahus of this seriff and his allies, their vessel seized, their property plundered, and their persons enslaved; numerous witnesses could attest their having been reduced to slavery and detained in the very household of Seriff Houseman! When, however, the facts of his having sold into slavery the crew of a British vessel (which has been established before the Singapore authorities) come to be known, I conceive every other proof of the character of this person is completely superfluous.

"The indirect piracy of Seriff Houseman is even more mischievous than what is directly committed; for he supplies the Balagnini (a restless piratical tribe, hereafter to be mentioned) with food, powder, arms, salt, &c. under the agreement that they pay him on their return from the cruise, at the rate of five slaves for every 100 rupees' worth of goods. The Balagnini are in consequence enabled, through his assistance, to pirate effectively, which otherwise they would not be able to do; as, from their locality, they would find it difficult to obtain fire-arms and gunpowder. The most detestable part of this traffic, however, is Seriff Houseman selling, in cold blood, such of these slaves as are Borneons, to Pangeran Usop, of Bruni, for 100 rupees for each slave, and Pangeran Usop re-selling each for 200 rupees to their relations in Bruni. Thus, this vile seriff (without taking into account the enormous prices charged for his goods in the first instance) gains 500 per cent for every slave, and Pangeran Usop clears 100 per cent on the flesh of his own countrymen, thereby de facto becoming a party to piracy, though doubtless veiled under the guise of compassion.

"More might be added on the subject of the piracies committed by this seriff; and it could easily be shown that the evils accruing from them affect, not only the peaceful trader, but extend to the peaceful agriculturist; but, for the sake of brevity, I deem it sufficient to add, that he exercises the same malign influence on the north coast as Seriff Sahib exercised on the northwest; and that, having surrounded himself by a body of pirates, he arrogates the rights of sovereignty, defies European power, contemns every right principle, and threatens the recognized and legitimate governments of the Archipelago.

"The Balagnini inhabit a cluster of small islands somewhere in the vicinity of Sooloo; they are of the Badjow or sea-gipsy tribe, a wandering race, whose original country has never been ascertained. At present, as far as I can learn, they are not dependent on Sooloo, though it is probable they may be encouraged by some of the rajahs of that place, and that they find a slave market there.

"The Balagnini cruise in large prahus, and to each prahu a fleet sampan is attached, which, on occasion, can carry from ten to fifteen men. They seldom carry large guns, like the Illanuns, but in addition to their other arms, big lelas (brass pieces, carrying from a one to a three pound ball), spears, swords, &c. They use long poles with barbed iron points, with which, during an engagement or flight, they hook their prey. By means of the fleet sampans already mentioned, they are able to capture all small boats; and it is a favorite device with them to disguise one or two men, while the rest lie concealed in the bottom of the boat, and thus to surprise prahus at sea, and fishermen or others at the mouths of rivers. By being disguised as Chinese they have carried off numbers of that nation from the Sambas and Pontiana rivers. The cruising-grounds of these pirates are very extensive; they frequently make the circuit of Borneo, proceed as far as the south of Celebes, and in the other direction have been met off Tringanu, Calantan, and Patani. Gillolo and the Moluccas lie within easy range, and it is probable that Papua is occasionally visited by them. It will readily be conceived how harassing to trade must be the continued depredations of the Balagnini pirates, and more especially to the trade of Bruni, which seems, from the unwarlike habits of the natives, the chosen field of their operations. The number of Borneons yearly taken into slavery is very considerable, as a fleet of six or eight boats usually hangs about the island of Labuan, to cut off the trade, and to catch the inhabitants of the city. The Borneons, from being so harassed by these pirates, call the easterly wind 'the pirate wind.' The Balagnini commence cruising on the northwest coast about the middle of March, and return, or remove to the eastern side of the island, about the end of November.

"Of Magindano, or Mindanao, we are at the present time very ignorant; but we know that the inhabitants are warlike and numerous, and that that part of the island called Illanun Bay sends forth the most daring pirates of the Archipelago. The first step requisite is to gain more information concerning them, to form an acquaintance with some of their better-disposed chiefs, and subsequently we might act against them with a suitable force; but it would be rash and premature, in the present state of our knowledge, to come in contact with them in their own country. On one occasion I met eighteen Illanun boats on neutral ground, and learned from their two chiefs that they had been two years absent from home; and from the Papuan negro-slaves on board it was evident that their cruise had extended from the most eastern islands of the Archipelago to the north-western coast of Borneo.

"Having now enumerated the pirates I have become acquainted with since my residence in Sarawak, I shall proceed to offer an opinion of the best mode for the suppression of piracy in these seas.

"In the first place, a blow should be struck at the piratical communities with which we are already acquainted, and struck with a force which should convince all other pirates of the hopelessness of resistance; subsequently the recognized Malay governments may be detached from all communication with pirates; and, joining conciliation with punishment, laying down the broad distinction of piracy and no piracy, we may foster those who abandon their evil habits, and punish those who adhere to them.

"A system of supervision will, however, be necessary to carry out these measures: our knowledge of the native states must be improved; and as we become able to discriminate between the good and the bad, our sphere of action may be enlarged, and we may act with decision against all descriptions of pirates; against the indirect as well as the direct pirate; against the receiver of stolen goods as well as the thief; and against the promoter as well as the actual perpetrator of piracy.

"I would especially urge that, to eradicate the evil, the pirate-haunts must be burned and destroyed, and the communities dispersed; for merely to cruise against pirate-prahus, and to forbear attacking them until we see them commit a piracy, is a hopeless and an endless task, harassing to our men, and can be attended with but very partial and occasional success; whereas, on the contrary principle, what pirate would venture to pursue his vocation if his home be endangered—if he be made to feel in his own person the very ills he inflicts upon others?

"A question may arise as to what constitutes piracy; and whether, in our efforts to suppress it, we may not be interfering with the right of native states to war one upon another. On the first point, it appears clear to me, that the plunder or seizure of a peaceful and lawful trader on the high seas constitutes an act of piracy, without any reference to the nation or color of the injured party; for if we limit our construction of piracy, we shall, in most cases, be in want of sufficient evidence to convict, and the whole native trade of the Archipelago will be left at the mercy of pirates, much to the injury of our own commerce and of our settlement of Singapore.

"On the second point, we can only concede the right of war to recognized states; and even then we must carefully avoid introducing the refinements of European international law among a rude and semi-civilized people, who will make our delicacy a cloak for crime, and declare war merely for the sake of committing piracy with impunity. On the contrary, all chiefs who have seized on territory and arrogate independence (making this independence a plea for piracy) can never be allowed the right of declaring war, or entering on hostilities with their neighbors; for, as I have before remarked, all native trade must in that case be at an end, as the piratical chiefs, no longer in dread of punishment from European powers, would doubtless declare war against every unwarlike native state which they did not need as a market for the sale of their slaves and plunder.

"Practically acting, however, on the broad principle, that the seizure of any lawful trader constitutes piracy, I consider no injustice could be done to the native states, and no interference occur with their acknowledged rights; for in practice it would be easy to discriminate a war between native nations from the piracies of lawless hordes of men; and without some such general principle, no executive officer could act with the requisite decision and promptitude to insure the eradication of this great evil.

"With a post such as is proposed to be established, our measures for the suppression of piracy (after the punishment of Seriff Houseman and the Balagnini) would advance step by step, as our knowledge increased, and with alternate conciliation and severity, as the case might require. By detaching the recognised governments from the practice, and gradually forming among the chief men a friendly and English party opposed to piracy, we should, I doubt not, speedily obtain our principal object of clearing the sea of marauders, and ultimately correct the natural propensity of the natives for piracy.

"In order to extend our commerce in these seas generally, and more particularly on the N.W. coast of Borneo, it is requisite, 1st, that piracy be suppressed; 2dly, that the native governments be settled, so as to afford protection to the poorer and producing classes; and, 3dly, that our knowledge of the interior should be extended, and our intercourse with the various tribes more frequent.

"That our commerce may be largely extended is so clear that I shall not stop to detail the productions of the island of Borneo, as it will suffice here to state generally that all authorities agree in representing it as one of the richest portions of the globe, and in climate, soil, and mineral and vegetable productions, inferior to no portion of the same extent.

"If these opinions be true—and from my experience I believe them to be so—it follows that the materials for an extensive and extended trade exist, and only require development, while a numerous and industrious, though wild population, which inhabits the interior, is debarred from all intercourse with Europeans from the badness of Malay government.

"On the first requisite for the development of commerce I need add nothing further, as it is a duty incumbent on all governments to eradicate piracy at any cost; and in the present case it would not be found a difficult or tedious task.

"A post like Labuan or Balambangan would, beyond doubt, give an impetus to trade, merely from the freedom from all restrictions, and the absence of all exactions, which the natives would enjoy; and (piracy being checked) countries which now lie fallow would, from their proximity, be induced to bring their produce into market.

"This limited extension is, however, of little moment when compared with the results which must attend our exerting a beneficial influence over the native governments for the purposes of affording protection to the poorer classes, insuring safety to the trader, and opening a field for the planter or the miner.

"The slightest acquaintance with the northwest coast of Borneo would convince any observer of the ease with which these objects might be effected; for the native government, being in a state of decadence, requires protection, and would willingly act justly toward traders and capitalists, and encourage their enterprises, in order to continue on friendly terms with any European power located in their vicinity. The numerous rivers on the coast, with their local rulers, are harassed by the demands of every petty Pangeran; and while the sovereign is defrauded of his revenue, which the people would cheerfully pay, and his territory ruined, this host of useless retainers (acting always in his name) gain but very slight personal profits to counterbalance all the mischief they do.

"The principal feature is the weakness of the governments, both of the capital and its dependencies; and in consequence of this weakness there is a strong desire for European protection, for European enterprise, and for any change effected by Europeans. Supposing Labuan to be taken as a naval post, I consider that European capital might with safety be employed in Bruni.

"In the rivers contiguous to Sarawak the presence of Europeans would be hailed with joy, not only by the Dyaks, but by the Malays; and subsequently it would depend on their own conduct to what degree they retained the good-will of the natives; but with ordinary conciliation, and a decent moral restraint on their actions, I feel assured that their persons and property would be safe, and no obstruction offered to fair trade or to mining operations.

"Supposing, as I have before said, the occupation of Labuan by the English, our influence over the government of Bruni would be complete; and one of our principal objects would be to maintain this ascendency, as a means of extending our trade.

"Our position at Labuan would, it must be borne in mind, differ from the position we occupied in relation to the native princes in Singapore. In the latter case, the native princes were without means, without followers, and with a paltry and useless territory, and became our pensioners. In the case of Labuan, we shall have an acknowledged independent state in our vicinity; and for the prosperity of our settlement we must retain our ascendency by the support of the government of Muda Hassim. Let our influence be of the mildest kind; let us, by supporting the legitimate government, ameliorate the condition of the people by this influence; let us pay every honor to the native princes; let us convince them of our entire freedom from all selfish views of territorial aggrandizement on the mainland of Borneo, and we shall enjoy so entire a confidence that virtually the coast will become our own without the trouble or expense of possession. I have impressed it on the Rajah Muda Hassim and Pangeran Budrudeen, that the readiest and most direct way of obtaining revenues from their various possessions will be by commuting all their demands for a stated yearly sum of money from each; and by this direct taxation, to which Muda Hassim and his brother seem ready to accede, the system of fraud and exaction would be abolished, the native mind tranquillized, and the legitimate government would become the protector rather than the oppressor of its dependencies. By this measure, likewise, a tone might be imparted to the native chiefs and rulers of rivers, and the people at large taught to feel that, after the payment of a specified sum, a right existed to resist all extra demands. Beside this, these rajahs are convinced that a certain yearly revenue is what they require, and is the only means by which they can retain their independence; and I have impressed it on their minds that, to gain a revenue, they must foster trade and protect Europeans in their dealings.

"If Labuan were English, and if the sea were clear of pirates, I see no obstacle to bringing these and other measures into immediate operation; and I am assured we should have the sincere and hearty cooperation of the Borneon government.

"Since the advent of Europeans in the Archipelago, the tendency of the Polynesian governments generally has been to decay; here the experiment may be fairly tried on the smallest scale of expense, whether a beneficial European influence may not reanimate a falling state, and at the same time extend our own commerce. We are here devoid of the stimulus which has urged us on to conquest in India. We incur no risk of the collision of the two races: we occupy a small station in the vicinity of a friendly and unwarlike people; and we aim at the development of native countries through native agency.

"If this tendency to decay and extinction be inevitable; if this adaptation of European policy to a native state be found unable to arrest the fall of the Borneon government, yet we shall retain a people already habituated to European manners, industrious interior races, and at a future period, if deemed necessary, settlements gradually developed in a rich and fertile country. We shall have a post in time of war highly advantageous as commanding a favorable position relative to China, we shall extend our commerce, suppress piracy, and prevent the present and prospective advantages from falling into other hands; and we shall do this at small expense.

"I own the native development through their own exertions is but a favorite theory; but whatever may be the fate of the government of Borneo, the people will still remain; and if they be protected and enabled to live in quiet security, I cannot entertain a doubt of the country's becoming a highly productive one, eminently calculated as a field for British enterprise and capital.

"If the development of the resources of the country can be effected by its native rulers it will be a noble task performed; but if it fail, the people of the coast will still advance and form governments for themselves under British influence.

"In concluding this hasty and general view of the subject, I may remark that commerce might be extended and capital laid out on the northwest coast of Borneo, to an amount to which it is difficult to fix limits, as the country is capable of producing most articles of commerce in demand from this quarter of the world, and the natives (who, as far as we know them, are an unwarlike, mild, and industrious race) would receive our manufactures, from which they are now in a great measure debarred. I have not alluded to any other countries of the Archipelago: for we must first become acquainted with them; we must become intimate, cultivate an English party, and accustom them to our manners; and probably the same conciliatory policy, the same freedom from design, which has succeeded in Borneo, will succeed elsewhere, if pushed with temper and patience.

"The general principle ought to be—to encourage established governments, such as those of Borneo and Sooloo, provided they will with all sincerity abandon piracy, and assist in its suppression; but at the same time, by supervision to convince ourselves of the fact, and keep them in the right path; for all treaties with these native states (and we have had several) are but so much waste paper, unless we see them carried into execution.

"I have now only to mention the third means for the extension of commerce. Our intercourse with the natives of the interior should be frequent and intimate: these people (beyond where I am acquainted with them) are represented as very numerous, hospitable, and industrious; and a friendly intercourse would develop the resources of their country, draw its produce to our markets, and give the natives a taste for British manufactures. This intercourse, however, must be prudently introduced and carefully advanced; for to bring these wild people into contact with ignorant and arrogant Europeans would produce bloodshed and confusion in a month. In Borneo, it is an advantage that the two races can not come in collision; for from its climate it precludes all idea of colonization; and that which is next to an impossibility, the maintaining a good understanding between ignorant civilized men and ignorant savages. It is a field for commerce and capital, but no violent change of native customs should be attempted; and in this way alone, by gradual means, can we really benefit the natives and ourselves. When we consider the amount of produce obtained from the countries of the Archipelago, and their consumption of British manufactures, under the worst forms of government, living in a state of distraction and insecurity, and exposed to the depredations of pirates at sea, we may form some idea how vast may be the increase, should peace and security be introduced among them; and judging of the future by the past—by the limited experiment made at Sarawak—we may hope that the task is neither so difficult nor so uncertain as was formerly supposed."


Arrival of Captain Bethune and Mr. Wise.—Mr. Brooke appointed her Majesty's Agent in Borneo.—Sails for Borneo Proper.—Muda Hassim's measures for the suppression of piracy.—Defied by Seriff Houseman.—Audience of the Sultan, Muda Hassim, and the Pangerans.—Visit to Labuan.—Comparative eligibility of Labuan and Balambangan for settlement.—Coal discovered in Labuan.—Mr. Brooke goes to Singapore and visits Admiral Sir T. Cochrane.—The upas-tree.—Proceeds with the Admiral to Borneo Proper.—Punishment of Pangeran Usop.—The battle of Malludu.—Seriff Houseman obliged to fly.—Visit to Balambangan.—Mr. Brooke parts with the Admiral, and goes to Borneo Proper.—An attempt of Pangeran Usop defeated.—His flight, and pursuit by Pangeran Budrudeen.—Triumphant reception of Mr. Brooke in Borneo.—Returns to Sarawak.

"February 25th.—Borneo River, H.M.S. Driver. Scarcely, on the 17th, had I finished writing, when a boat from her majesty's steamer Driver, bringing Captain Bethune and my friend Wise, arrived. How strange, the same day, and almost the same hour, I was penning my doubts and difficulties, when a letter arrives from Lord Aberdeen appointing me confidential agent in Borneo to her majesty, and directing me to proceed to the capital, with a letter addressed to the sultan and the Rajah Muda Hassim, in reply to the documents requesting the assistance of the British government to effect the suppression of piracy.

"My friend Wise I was glad to see, and a few hours' conversation convinced me how greatly I have been indebted to his exertions for success and my present position. His knowledge of trade, his cheerfulness regarding our pecuniary future, all impart confidence. Thus I may say, without much self-flattery, that the first wedge has been driven which may rive Borneo open to commerce and civilization, which may bestow happiness on its inhabitants. Captain Bethune is commissioned to report on the best locality for a settlement or station on the N.W. coast. I will only say here that no other person's appointment would have pleased me so well: he is intelligent, educated, and liberal, and in concert with him I am too happy to work.

"On the 18th of February the Driver arrived; on the 21st left Sarawak, and at noon of the 24th arrived at the anchorage in Borneo river, having towed the gun-boat against the N.E. monsoon. Mr. Williamson was dispatched to Borneo, and found all right. They were delighted with our coming and our mission, and the sultan himself has laid aside his fears. A few presents have been sent, which will delight the natives, and all will prosper.

"26th.—Budrudeen arrived, and from him I learned the politics of Borneo since my last visit, when Muda Hassim was reinstated in authority.

"As my mission refers more especially to piracy, I may here notice Muda Hassim's measures relative to that subject. Shortly after his arrival he addressed a letter to the Illanuns of Tampasuk, informing them of the engagement with the English to discourage and suppress piracy, advising them to desist, and ordering them not to visit Borneo until he (Muda Hassim) was convinced they were pirates no longer. This is good and candid. Muda Hassim at the same time requested Seriff Schaik to address a communication to Seriff Houseman of Malludu, acquainting him with his engagements, and the resolve of the Europeans to suppress piracy, adding that he was friends with the English, and no man could be friends with the English who encouraged piracy. The answer to this letter of Seriff Schaik, as far as I have yet learned, is a positive defiance. Three months since, I am informed, a brig or schooner was wrecked at a place called Mangsi, and she has been completely plundered and burned by Seriff Houseman: her cargo consisted of red woolens, fine white cloths, Turkey red cotton handkerchiefs, tin, pepper, Malacca canes, ratans, &c., &c. This evidently is a vessel bound to China, whether English or not is doubtful: the crew have not been heard of or seen here; and it is to be hoped may have reached Manilla.

"28th.—Borneo, or Bruni city. Left the Driver at 9 A.M. in the gun-boat, with the pinnace and cutter in company: a fine breeze carried us to Pulo Chermin, and nearly the whole way to Pulo Combong, where we met with the state-boat bearing the letter. We entered the town straggling, and the letter having been received with firing of guns, banners displayed, and all the respect due to a royal communication, we were dragged in haste to the audience; the sultan on his throne, Muda Hassim and every principal Pangeran waiting for us—Pangeran Usop to boot. The letter was read; twenty-one guns fired. I told them in all civility that I was deputed by her majesty the queen to express her feelings of good will, and to offer every assistance in repressing piracy in these seas. The sultan stared. Muda Hassim said, 'We are greatly indebted; it is good, very good.' Then, heated, and sunburned, and tired, we took leave, and retired to the house prepared for us.

"March, 1st.—A long conference with Budrudeen, when, I believe, we exhausted all the important topics of Borneo politics: subsequently we visited Muda Hassim and the sultan. The latter was profuse in his kind expressions, and inquired of the interpreter when the English would come to Labuan, adding, 'I want to have the Europeans near me.' On this head, however, he gained no information. The presents were given to the sultan and rajah.

"5th.—In the evening visited Muda Hassim, and heard news from Malludu, which, divested of exaggerations, amounted to this: that Seriff Houseman was ready to receive us; was fortified, and had collected a fleet of boats; and that if the English did not come and attack him, he would come and attack Borneo, because they were in treaty with Europeans. After leaving Muda Hassim, paid the sultan a visit.

"10th.—I have nothing to say of our departure. Budrudeen accompanied us to the Mooarra, and thence, on Friday evening, we crossed to the anchorage of Labuan.

"12th.—Labuan. An island of about fifty feet high; twenty-five miles in circumference; woody; timber good; water from wells and a few small streams, which, after a drought, are dry; natives say water never fails. Anchorage good for the climate; well protected from the N.E.; not extensive; situation of contemplated town low; climate healthy, i.e., the same as Borneo; soil, as far as seen, sandy or light sandy loam. Coal found near the extreme N.E. point: by native reports it is likewise to be found in many other places; traces of coal are frequent in the sandstone strata. Anchorage not difficult of defense against a European enemy; entrance sufficiently broad and deep between two islands, with a shoal: vide chart. The island of Labuan, for the purposes of refuge for shipwrecked vessels, of a windward post relative to China, for the suppression of piracy, and the extension of our trade, is well suited; it is no paradise, and any other island, with good climate, wood, and water, would suit as well. Its powerful recommendation is its being in the neighborhood of an unwarlike and friendly people. There is no other island on the N.W. coast, and the abandoned Balambangan, to the northward of Borneo, is the only other place which could by possibility answer. The comparison between Balambangan and Labuan may be stated as follows: Balambangan, as a windward post relative to China, is superior, and it commands in time of war the inner passage to Manilla, and the eastern passages to China by the Straits of Makassar. Of its capabilities of defense we know nothing. It was surprised by the Sooloos. Its climate was not well spoken of. The island is larger than that of Labuan, and, as far as we know, has no coal. The great, and to me conclusive consideration against Balambangan is, that it is in the very nest of pirates, and surrounded by warlike and hostile people; and that to render it secure and effective, at least double the force would be necessary there that would suffice at Labuan. If Labuan succeeds and pays its own expenses, we might then take Balambangan; for the next best thing to a location on the main is to influence the people thereon by a succession of insular establishments. Yesterday we made an agreeable excursion to the n.e. point of Labuan; near the point it is picturesque, the cliffs are bold and cave-worn; the trees hang over the cliffs, or encroach on the intermediate sands, till they kiss the wave. Near a small cavern we discovered a seam of coal, which afforded us employment while Captain Bethune and Mr. Wise walked to obtain a view of the southern coast of the island.

"Bruni, 21st May, 1845.—After a longer time passed in Singapore than I wished, we at length started, in the Phlegethon steamer, for this city. At Singapore I had several interviews with Sir Thomas Cochrane.

"22d.—On the authority of Sulerman, an intelligent Meri man, I am told that the tree below the town is the real upas, called by the Meri men tajim—the Borneons call it upas. Bina (the name we formerly got from a Borneon for upas) is, by Sulerman's statement, a thin creeper, the root or stem of which, being steeped in water, is added to the upas, to increase the poisonous quality; it is not, however, poisonous in itself. There is another creeper, likewise called bina, the leaves of which are steeped and mixed with the upas, instead of the stem of the first sort. This information may be relied on (in the absence of personal knowledge), as the man is of a tribe which uses the sumpitan, and is constantly in the habit of preparing the poison.

"August 8th.—Off Ujong Sapo, at the entrance of Borneo river. The time since I last added to my most desultory journal is easily accounted for. I have been at Singapore and Malacca, and am now anchored off Borneo Proper, with seven vessels, and an eighth is hourly expected. It is difficult, with such a force, to be moderate; and, with Sir Thomas Cochrane's other duties and engagements, it is probably impossible to devote any length of time on this coast; yet moderation and time are the key-stones of our policy. I have settled all the ceremonial for a meeting between the sultan and the admiral.

"The Pangeran Budrudeen came on board H.M.S. Agincourt, with every circumstance of state and ceremony, and met the admiral, I acting as interpreter. It was pleasing to witness his demeanor and bearing, which proved that, in minds of a certain quality, the power of command, though over savages, gives ease and freedom. The ship, the band, the marines, the guns, all excited Budrudeen's attention. On the 9th, it is arranged that the admiral shall meet the sultan and the rajah.

"9th.—In the course of the day, after the audience had terminated, the admiral made his demand of reparation on the sultan and Muda Hassim for the detention and confinement of two British subjects subsequent to their agreement with the British government. Of course, the sultan and the rajah replied that they were not in fault; that the act was Pangeran Usop's, and that he was too powerful for them to control by force. If Sir Thomas Cochrane would punish him, they should be much obliged, as they desired to keep the treaty inviolate.

"10th.—Pangeran Usop had to be summoned; come he would not, and yet I was in hopes that, when he saw the overwhelming force opposed to him, his pride would yield to necessity. About 2 P.M. the steamers took up their positions; the marines were landed, every thing was prepared, yet no symptom of obedience. At length a single shot was fired from the Vixen, by the admiral's order, through the roof of Usop's house, which was instantly returned, thus proving the folly and the temper of the man. In a few minutes his house was tenantless, having been overwhelmed with shot. Usop was a fugitive; the amount of mischief done inconsiderable, and no damage except to the guilty party. Twenty captured guns the admiral presented to the sultan and the rajah; two he kept, from which to remunerate the two detained men. So far nothing could be more satisfactory. Usop has been punished severely, the treaty strictly enforced, and our supremacy maintained. No evil has been done except to the guilty; his house and his property alone have suffered, and the immediate flight has prevented the shedding of blood.

"11th.—At mid-day the admiral, with the Vixen and Nemesis, went down the river, leaving the Pluto to me, to follow in next day.

"12th.—This morning I visited the sultan in company with Muda Hassim. By twelve at night the Pluto was anchored in the creek at Labuan, and on the 13th I once more took up my quarters aboard the flag-ship.


"16th.—Last evening anchored within the point called in the chart Sampormangio, or, properly, Sampang Mengayu, which, being translated, signifies piratical or cruising waiting-place. The weather was thick and squally, and it was late before the Daedalus and Vestal arrived with their tows, the Nemesis and Pluto, the former frigate having carried away her mizzen top-mast.

"17th.—Squadron under weigh pretty early, getting into Malludu Bay. After breakfast, had a very heavy squall. Agincourt heeled to it, and sails of various sorts and sizes were blowing about in ribbons aboard some of the ships: afterward brought up nearly off the Melow river.

"18th.—Vixen, Nemesis, Pluto, and boats, proceeded up the bay, and anchored as near as possible to the entrance of the Marudu, or Malludu river. The character of Malludu bay generally may be described as clear of danger, with high, wooded banks on either side, till in the bight, when the land gets flat and mangrovy, and the water shallow, and where the mouths of several small rivers are seen, one of which is Malludu.

"19th.—On the 19th of August was fought the celebrated battle of Malludu; the boats, 24 in number, and containing 550 marines and blue-jackets, having left the previous afternoon. As I was not present, I can say only what I heard from others, and from what I know from subsequently viewing the position. A narrow river with two forts mounting eleven or twelve heavy guns (and defended by from 500 to 1000 fighting men), protected by a strong and well-contrived boom, was the position of the enemy. Our boats took the bull by the horns, and indeed had little other choice; cut away part of the boom under a heavy fire; advanced, and carried the place in a fight protracted for fifty minutes. The enemy fought well and stood manfully to their guns; and a loss of six killed, two mortally and fifteen severely wounded, on our side, was repaid by a very heavy loss of killed and wounded on theirs. Gallant Gibbard, [19] of the Wolverine, fell mortally wounded while working at the boom, ax in hand. In short, the engagement was severe and trying to our men from the fire they were exposed to. At two minutes to nine, aboard the Vixen, we heard the report of the first heavy gun, and it was a time of anxiety and uneasiness till the first column of black smoke proclaimed that the village was fired.

"I may here mention that before the fight commenced a flag of truce came from the enemy, and asked for me. Captain Talbot (in command) offered to meet Seriff Houseman either within or without the boom, provided his whole force was with him. Seriff Houseman declined; but offered (kind man!) to admit two gigs to be hauled over the boom. No sooner was this offer declined, and the flag returned the second time with a young Seriff, son of Seriff Layak of Bruni, than the enemy opened fire, which was promptly returned. Had Captain Talbot entered as proposed, I deem it certain he would never have quitted the place alive; for the Seriff and his followers had made themselves up to fight, and nothing but fight. Many chiefs were killed; two or three Seriffs in their large turbans and flowing robes; many Illanuns in their gay dresses and golden charms; many Badjows; many slaves—among them a captive Chinaman; many were wounded; many carried away; and many left on the ground dead or dying.

"20th.—On the evening of the 19th a detachment of ten boats, with fresh men and officers, quitted the Vixen, and arrived at the forts shortly after daylight. I accompanied this party; and the work of destruction, well begun yesterday, was this day completed. Numerous proofs of the piracies of this Seriff came to light. The boom was ingeniously fastened with the chain cable of a vessel of 300 or 400 tons; other chains were found in the town; a ship's long-boat; two ship's bells, one ornamented with grapes and vine leaves, and marked 'Wilhelm Ludwig, Bremen;' and every other description of ship's furniture. Some half-piratical boats, Illanun and Balagnini, were burned; twenty-four or twenty-five brass guns captured; the iron guns, likewise stated to have been got out of a ship, were spiked and otherwise destroyed. Thus has Malluda ceased to exist; and Seriff Houseman's power received a fall from which it will never recover.

"Amid this scene of war and devastation was one episode which moved even harder hearts than mine. Twenty-four hours after the action, a poor woman, with her child of two years of age, was discovered in a small canoe; her arm was shattered at the elbow by a grape shot; and the poor creature lay dying for want of water in an agony of pain, with her child playing round her and endeavoring to derive the sustenance which the mother could no longer give. This poor woman was taken on board the Vixen, and in the evening her arm was amputated. To have left her would have been certain death; so I was strongly for the measure of taking her to Sarawak, where she can be protected. To all my inquiries she answered, 'If you please to take me, I shall go. I am a woman, and not a man; I am a slave, and not a free woman: do as you like.' She stated too, positively, that she herself had seen Seriff Houseman wounded in the neck, and carried off; and her testimony is corroborated by two Manilla men, who, among others, ran away on the occasion, and sought protection from us, who likewise say that they saw the Seriff stretched out in the jungle, but they cannot say whether dead or wounded. The proof how great a number must have been killed and wounded on their part is, that on the following day ten dead men were counted lying where they fell; among them was Seriff Mahomed, the bearer of the flag of truce, who, though offered our protection, fought to the last, and in the agonies of death threw a spear at his advancing foes.

"The remnant of the enemy retired to Bungun; and it will be some time before we learn their real loss and position. It is needless here to say any thing on the political effects to be expected from the establishment of a government in Bruni, and the destruction of this worst of piratical communities. When I return to Bruni, and see how measures advance, I may mention the subject again; but I will venture here to reurge, that mere military force, however necessary, can not do what it is desirable should be done. Supervision and conciliation must go hand in hand with punishment; and we must watch that the snake does not again rear his head through our neglect. The key-stone is wanting as yet, and must be supplied if possible; we must, to back the gallant deeds of the admiral and fleet, continue to pursue a steady course of measures. In the evening returned to the Vixen.

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