« AnteriorContinuar »
Others carry a portable cooking apparatus on a pole balanced by a table at the other end, and serve up a meal of shell-fish, rice, and vegetables for two or three half-pence, while coolies and boatmen waiting to be hired are everywhere to be met with.
In the interior of the island the Chinese cut down foresttrees in the jungle, and saw them up into planks, they culti vate vegetables, which they bring to market, and they grow pepper and gambir, which form important articles of export. The French Jesuits have established missions among these inland Chinese, which seem very successful. I lived for several weeks at a time with the missionary at Bukit-tima, about the centre of the island, where a pretty church has been built, and there are about 300 converts. While there, I met a missionary who had just arrived from Tonquin, where he had been living for many years. The Jesuits still do their work thoroughly as of old. In Cochin China, Tonquin, and China, where all Christian teachers are obliged to live in secret, and are liable to persecution, expulsion, and sometimes death, every province, even those farthest in the interior, has a permanent Jesuit mission establishment, constantly kept up by fresh aspirants, who are taught the languages of the countries they are going to at Penang or Singapore. In China there are said to be near a million converts; in Tonquin and Cochin China, more than half a million. One secret of the success of these missions is the rigid economy practiced in the expenditure of the funds. A missionary is allowed about £30 a year, on which he lives in whatever country he may be. This renders it possible to support a large number of missionaries with very limited means; and the natives, seeing their teachers living in poverty and with none of the luxuries of life, are convinced that they are sincere in what they teach, and have really given up home and friends and ease and safety for the good of others. No wonder they make converts, for it must be a great blessing to the poor people among whom they labor to have a man among them to whom they can go in any trouble or distress, who will comfort and advise them, who visits them in sickness, who relieves them in want, and who they see living from day to day in danger of persecution and death entirely for their sakes.
TIGERS AND INSECT: HUNTING.
My friend at Bukit-tima was truly a father to his flock. He preached to them in Chinese every Sunday, and had evenings for discussion and conversation on religion during the week. He had a school to teach their children. His house was open to them day and night. If a man came to him and said, “I have no rice for my family to eat to-day, 'he would give him half of what he had in the house, however little that might be. If another said, "I have no money to pay my debt," he would give him half the contents of his purse, were it his last dollar. So, when he was himself in want, he would send to some of the wealthiest among his flock and say, "I have no rice in the house," or "I have given away my money, and am in want of such and such articles." The result was that his flock trusted and loved him, for they felt sure that he was their true friend, and had no ulterior designs in living among them.
The island of Singapore consists of a multitude of small hills, three or four hundred feet high, the summits of many of which are still covered with virgin forest. The missionhouse at Bukit-tima was surrounded by several of these woodtopped hills, which were much frequented by wood cutters and sawyers, and offered me an excellent collecting-ground for insects. Here and there, too, were tiger-pits, carefully covered over with sticks and leaves, and so well concealed, that in several cases I had a narrow escape from falling into them. They are shaped like an iron furnace, wider at the bottom than the top, and are perhaps fifteen or twenty feet deep, so that it would be almost impossible for a person unassisted to get out of one. Formerly a sharp stake was stuck erect in the bottom; but after an unfortunate traveller had been killed by falling on one, its use was forbidden. There are always a few tigers roaming about Singapore, and they kill on an average a Chinaman every day, principally those who work in the gambir plantations, which are always made in newly-cleared jungle. We heard a tiger roar once or twice in the evening, and it was rather nervous work hunting for insects among the fallen trunks and old sawpits, when one of these savage animals might be lurking close by, waiting an opportunity to spring upon us.
Several hours in the middle of every fine day were spent in
these patches of forest, which were delightfully cool and shady by contrast with the bare open country we had to walk over to reach them. The vegetation was most luxuriant, comprising enormous forest-trees, as well as a variety of ferns, caladiums, and other undergrowth, and abundance of climbing rattan palms. Insects were exceedingly abundant and very interesting, and every day furnished scores of new and curious forms. In about two months I obtained no less than 700 species of beetles, a large proportion of which were quite new, and among them were 130 distinct kinds of the elegant longicorns (Cerambycida), so much esteemed by collectors. Almost all these were collected in one patch of jungle, not more than a square mile in extent, and in all my subsequent travels in the East I rarely if ever met with so productive a spot. This exceeding productiveness was due in part no doubt to some favorable conditions in the soil, climate, and vegetation, and to the season being very bright and sunny, with sufficient showers to keep every thing fresh. But it was also in a great measure dependent, I feel sure, on the labors of the Chinese wood-cutters. They had been at work here for several years, and during all that time had furnished a continual supply of dry and dead and decaying leaves and bark, together with abundance of wood and sawdust, for the nourishment of insects and their larvæ. This had led to the assemblage of a great variety of species in a limited space, and I was the first naturalist who had come to reap the harvest they had prepared. In the same place, and during my walks in other directions, I obtained a fair collection of butterflies and of other orders of insect, so that on the whole I was quite satisfied with these my first attempts to gain a knowledge of the natural history of the Malay Archipelago.
MALACCA AND MOUNT OPHIR.
MALACCA AND MOUNT OPHIR.
JULY TO SEPTEMBER, 1854.
BIRDS and most other kinds of animals being scarce at Singapore, I left it in July for Malacca, where I spent more than two months in the interior, and made an excursion to Mount Ophir. The old and picturesque town of Malacca is crowded along the banks of the small river, and consists of narrow streets of shops and dwelling-houses, occupied by the descendants of the Portuguese and by Chinamen. In the suburbs are the houses of the English officials and of a few Portuguese merchants, embedded in groves of palms and fruit-trees, whose varied and beautiful foliage furnishes a pleasing relief to the eye, as well as most grateful shade.
The old fort, the large Government-house, and the ruins of a cathedral attest the former wealth and importance of this place, which was once as much the centre of Eastern trade as Singapore is now. The following description of it by Linschott, who wrote two hundred and seventy years ago, strikingly exhibits the change it has undergone :
"Malacca is inhabited by the Portuguese and by natives of the country, called Malays. The Portuguese have here a fortress, as at Mozambique, and there is no fortress in all the Indies, after those of Mozambique and Ormuz, where the captains perform their duty better than in this one. This place is the market of all India, of China, of the Moluccas, and of other islands round about, from all which places, as well as from Banda, Java, Sumatra, Siam, Pegu, Bengal, Coromandel, and India, arrive ships, which come and go incessantly, charged with an infinity of merchandises. There would be in this place a much greater number of Portuguese if it were not for the inconvenience, and unhealthiness of the air, which is hurtful not only to strangers, but also to natives of the country. Thence it is that all who live in the country
pay tribute of their health, suffering from a certain disease, which makes them lose either their skin or their hair. And those who escape consider it a miracle, which occasions many to leave the country, while the ardent desire of gain induces others to risk their health and endeavor to endure such an atmosphere. The origin of this town, as the natives say, was very small, only having at the beginning, by reason of the unhealthiness of the air, but six or seven fishermen who inhabited it. But the number was increased by the meeting of fishermen from Siam, Pegu, and Bengal, who came and built a city, and established a peculiar language, drawn from the most elegant modes of speaking of other nations, so that in fact the language of the Malays is at present the most refined, exact, and celebrated of all the East. The name of Malacca was given to this town, which, by the convenience of its situation, in a short time grew to such wealth, that it does not yield to the most powerfil towns and regions round about. The natives, both men and women, are very courteous, and are reckoned the most skillful in the world in compliments, and study much to compose and repeat verses and love-songs. Their language is in vogue through the Indies, as the French is here."
At present a vessel over a hundred tons hardly ever enters its port, and the trade is entirely confined to a few petty products of the forests, and to the fruit, which the trees planted by the old Portuguese now produce for the enjoyment of the inhabitants of Singapore. Although rather subject to fevers, it is not at present considered very unhealthy.
The population of Malacca consists of several races. The ubiquitous Chinese are perhaps the most numerous, keeping up their manners, customs, and language; the indigenous Malays are next in point of numbers, and their language is the Lingua-franca of the place. Next come the descendants of the Portuguese-a mixed, degraded, and degenerate race, but who still keep up the use of their mother-tongue, though ruefully mutilated in grammar; and then there are the English rulers, and the descendants of the Dutch, who all speak English. The Portuguese spoken at Malacca is a useful philological phenomenon. The verbs have mostly lost. their inflections, and one form does for all moods, tenses,