« PředchozíPokračovat »
matchlocks, or spears; but occasionally they strike one in the neck from a high tree; and sometimes, Mr. Marsden says, the planter destroys the assailants by splitting a number of the sugar-canes and putting yellow arsenic into the clefts. The tiger is sometimes taken in strong traps, and more frequently destroyed by means of water impregnated with arsenic placed near the object of his prey, or by the side of an animal which he has killed, but not devoured. The bears are so fond of cocoa nuts, that they destroy the tree to get at them. • The buffalos are fatter,' says Mr. Anderson, and in better keeping than any bullocks I ever såw in Smithfield market. To descend in the scale of being, the common domestic fowl grows so large that, standing on the ground, it can pick crumbs from an eating table; and among the numerous species of ants, there is one as big as a bee.
It seems to be a disputed point, whether the huge hippopotamus exists in the rivers of Sumatra. Mr. Marsden seems to have no doubt that the river-horse is well known to the Malay inhabitants, but M. Cuvier supposes, that by this name is meant the dugong, a sort of sea-cow, though, as Mr. Marsden justly observes, a four-legged animal could scarcely be mistaken for å two-finned one. It is possible, however, that the Malay name, kūda ayer, i.e. river-horse, may be applied to some other animal,
, and that without impropriety: at all events the hippopotamus himself is just as like a whale as a horse, and more like an overgrown sow than either. Mr. Anderson does not include this amphibious animal among the inhabitants of the rivers : but alligators of an immense size are numerous, and particularly bold and ferocious. Nothing is more common than for these creatures to raise their heads a couple of feet above the water, and pull out people from their canoes. Mr. Anderson mentions an instance of a boat, with three horses and six goats, being regularly attacked by a whole swarm of them, which, surrounding it on all sides, so alarmed the horses, that the boat upset, when the whole of the animals were seized and devoured in an instantthe three or four Malays only escaping by jumping into another boat.-Yet this savage reptile, it would appear, is not incapable of being tamed.
Near the mouth of the river, where there is a fishing-bouse, there is an alligator of a most prodigious size, his back, when a little out of the water, resembling a large rock. He remains constantly there, and is regularly fed upon the head and entrails of the large pari, or -skate fish, wbich are caught there. I saw him, and the Malays called him to his meal. He appeared full twenty feet long. Being in rather a small boat at the time, I wished to make all haste away; but the Malays assured me he was quite harmless, so much so, that his feeders pat his head with their hands; a dangerous amusement certainly, but showing the won
derful tameness and sagacity of the creature, naturally so ferocious. He will not allow any other alligator to approach the place; and on that account the Malays almost worship him.'--p. 126.
Nature, however, has amply compensated the inhabitants of Sumatra for the various destructive animals with which they are surrounded. The choicest trees, herbs, and fruits are every where found, many of them demanding no labour of cultivation whatever. Their villages are situated in the midst of the most luxurious groves and plantations of the cocoa nut, the betel nut, banana, jacks, dorians, mangosteens, guavas, mangoes, pomegranates, pine-apples, cashew-apples, tamarinds, the bread fruit, several varieties of the orange, the lemon, the lime, and the pisang, or plaintain-of which last Mr. Anderson enumerates not less than fourteen varieties.
With some or other of these fruit trees constantly in view, and in the midst of a profusion of the most delightful flowers, breathing the most exquisite fragrance, the Sumatran traveller finds himself so highly gratified, as to lose the sense of many inconveniences which beset him. • The air,' says Mr. Anderson,' is
, scented with the sweetest perfuines, from the innumerable flowers planted in the villages, and even growing spontaneously in the woods. The traveller, however, through a country in which there are no turnpike roads, must lay his account in meeting with numerous impediments and disagreeable annoyances. Our au
'We passed through several small patches of paddy, growing most luxuriantly. I never saw any paddy equal to it, the stalks being six and eight feet in length, and the ears richly stored. We travelled througla extensive
groves of fruit trees, viz. cocoa nut, betel nut, dorian, champada, mangosteen, jambu, lanseh, rusip, machang, guava, plantains, and various other descriptions, interspersed in some places with the jungle. In travelling through the woods, we experienced great inconvenience from the immense number of small leeches or pachats wbich fall from the boughs of trees. They penetrate through the clothes imperceptibly; and our legs were absolutely covered with gore, from the bites of these little creatures. The woods were full also of a shrub calleil the jellatang, which grows abundantly along the pathways, and requires the greatest caution to avoid touching it. The leaf somewhat resembles the tobacco leaf; and if it touches the skin, produces a most painful itchy sensation, followed by an eruption, which continues upwards of a month, causing the greatest uneasiness and pain.' - pp. 17, 18.
We are told, moreover, that a large red ant, which bites most vehemently, drops from the leaves of trees upon the passing traveller, and that these insects, with the mosquitos and the small blood-suckers above mentioned, contribute to render a journey through the woods particularly painful and disagreeable, and not the less so by being under the influence of a vertical sun. Of G4
this last inconvenience, however, Mr. Anderson does not much complain. The mornings and evenings, he tells us, are generally cool and pleasant, the thermometer, at sunrise, not being higher than from 70° to 75°, and seldom reaching 87° at the hottest part of the day; the island has also the advantage of a regular land and sea-breeze. The natives generally enjoy good health, and were not subject to any particular epidemic before the recent wide-spreading cholera morbus reached them. The prevalent diseases are fevers and agues.
We said that the human species alone degenerates on this island :—that they are small in stature may be owing to the race from which they sprung; but their enervated bodies, their excessive indolence and total want of exertion, are evidently not owing to any debilitating effects of climate. Men, it is true, who can gain a subsistence, and supply every want with little trouble, in a country where the heat is great, if not oppressive, and where there is little or no stability to property, will almost necessarily devote the greater part of their time to sleep and idleness; and it is this natural instinct of man to avoid labour, where the necessaries of life can be supplied without it, and where heat of climate powerfully disposes to indolence, that makes all we hear uttered about the free labour of the negroes in our West Indian colonies so perfectly nonsensical and ridiculous.
The Malays of Sumatra, who are in possession of every article of necessity, and many of luxury, cannot therefore be expected to employ much labour in the accumulation of property; and, indeed, the small share of work, that must be done, falls upon the women, mostly slave girls, who are employed in beating paddy, spinning, weaving, and dying cloth, while the men may generally be found lounging in their verandas, or under the shade of trees, indulging in that most pernicious of all drugs, opium, which stupifies their senses, enervates their bodies, and enfeebles their minds. It would seem that one of the earliest fruits of the forbidden tree was the science of extracting from plants, that are innocent in their natural state, their pernicious juices. It is chiefly to the poison of the poppy, that Mr. Anderson attributes the scanty population of an island, in which, according to the theory of Mr. Malthus, it ought to be excessive. ' Perpetual wars--polygamy-debauchery-selling children into slavery-all these are in Sumatra powerful positive checks; but the most efficient by far is opium-smoking. I remarked,' says our traveller, that where the consumption of that inebriating and enervating substance was greatest, there were fewer children than at other places, where the inhabitants were more sober and abstemious in their habits;' and he adds, that at Sirdang, where the inhabitants are
remarkable for their sobriety, and make no : use of opium, the villages were swarming with children.'
The natural consequence of indolent and debauched habits is the employment of slaves in the cultivation of the land, and other works of drudgery; and these they procure either by purchase or by stealth, or taking them in bondage as payment of a debt. The Malays are the greatest gamblers perhaps on earth, and when a man has lost more than he can pay, he sells himself to the winner. The greatest number of slaves are females and children of both sexes, who have been sold by their unnatural parents to procure the means of subsistence, or to enable them to indulge in gambling or in opium-smoking. Horrible as it may appear to the delicate sensibilities of Mr. Fowell Buxton, and other members of the Anti-Slavery Society, it cannot be denied, however,' says Mr. Anderson, that the existence of slavery (he means the slave trade) in this quarter, in former years, was of immense advantage in procuring a female population for Pinang;' and he assures us that from Assahan alone, 300 slaves, principally females, were exported to Malacca and Pinang, in the course of a year. Here they got comfortably settled as the wives of opulent Chinese merchants, who, from thus rearing families, became attached to the soil; and as the female population of Pinang is still far from being on a par with the male, our author thinks that the abolition of slavery, (he again means the trade,) in this quarter at least, ' has been a vast sacrifice to philanthropy and humanity.' In fact, this branch of the slave-trade had little but the name and the form; the condition of the human being sold was invariably amended; the women became respectable wives; the men, who were in the least industrious, purchased their emancipation, and many of them became wealthy. But in spite of laws and the vigilance of those who are to look to their execution, the ingenious Chinese still contrive to introduce slaves and make them happy, both at Malacca and Pinang and Singapore; and it is to be hoped, that no concession to the feelings of a false humanity, uttered at a distance of ten thousand miles, will be made to interfere with this, or prevent a further importation of females, so long as the great disproportion of the sexes in these flourishing settlements shall continue to exist.
Indolent as the Malays of the interior generally are, they are by no means averse from engaging in speculations of trade; and few countries are supplied with a greater abundance and variety of valuable products of foreign consumption than Sumatra.
Scarcely any part of the habitable globe (says Mr. Anderson) surpasses the east coast of Sumatra in the variety and value of its natural productions. The following may be enumerated as the principal articles
of export commerce : gold, camphor, ivory, wax, pepper, black and white; benjamin, cinnamon, gambir, rattans, sulphur, tobacco, lignum, aloes, dye-woods, ebony, a vast variety of ship-timber, the Iju rope for cables, fisb-roes, sharks skins, canes, mats, pulse of various sorts, rice, dragon's blood, silk cloths, and horses. Besides these, are many articles of minor value, principally for the consumption of the inhabitants.'--p. 204.
It was one great object of our author's mission, to create a desire among the people for British and Indian manufactures; and in this, to a certain extent, he seems to have succeeded, finding them desirous of exchanging their valuable productions for our chintzes, muslins, cambrics and Irish linen, scarlet broad-cloth, and a great variety of other manufactured goods. The grand staple of Sumatran produce,
however, is pepper, of which very large quantities are received at Pinang and Malacca. Its quality is excellent, and has long been appreciated as it deserves in the markets of Europe and America.
As to the Malays themselves, Mr. Anderson was highly pleased with the kind reception and hospitality he every where met with from them; they revived,' he says, in my mind, the pleasing remembrance of that old Scotch hospitality to which I was accustomed in my boyish days, among my native hills. It more resembled those dreams of my youth,
than any thing I have since met with in the world. If they would not disfigure their mouths with chewing betel, and the women had not that odious custom of making large holes in their ears, and drawing them down to the shoulders, which however is by no means universal, our traveller thinks many of them might be called handsome. The people, in general, appeared to him a happy, contented, inoffensive race, every countenance smiling, and every
house reception of strangers.
The Malays are not an illiterate people; all their children are taught to read and recite from the Koran. In one place Mr. Anderson heard a person reciting with a loud voice to a circle of about 200 people, from a book containing the history of the exploits of Alexander the Great, to impress the sultan's warriors with heroic notions, and excite their courage and emulation. They have numerous works on history, biography, law, and religion: poetry and romances are much relished, and they are passionately fond of music.
Near each of the villages on the banks of rivers is a bathingplace, surrounded with strong stockades, as a protection against alligators: here the women and children are plunging and sporting in the water all the day long; and as they indulge themselves in throwing off every part of their dress, it was usual to send a person in advance, to give notice of our traveller's approach, to pre
open to the