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Title: Through the Malay Archipelago
Author: Richings, Emily
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  Through the
  Malay Archipelago.


  BY
  EMILY RICHINGS.

  Author of
  "Sir Walter's Wife," "In Chaucer's Maytime," &c.


  LONDON:
  HENRY J. DRANE, LIMITED,
  DANEGELD HOUSE, 82A, FARRINGDON STREET, E.C.



    O hundred shores of happy climes!
      How swiftly streamed ye by the bark!
    At times the whole sea burned--at times
      With wakes of fire we tore the dark.

    New stars all night above the brim
      Of waters lightened into view;
    They climbed as quickly, for the rim
      Changed every moment as we flew.

    We came to warmer waves, and deep
      Across the boundless East we drove,
    Where those long swells of breaker sweep
      The nutmeg rocks, and isles of clove.

    For one fair Vision ever fled
      Down the waste waters day and night,
    And still we followed where she led,
      In hope to gain upon her flight.



  CONTENTS.


  Prologue.


  JAVA.

    Batavia and Weltevreden--Buitenzorg--Soekaboemi
    and Sindanglaya--Garoet and her Volcano--
    Djokjacarta--Boro-Boedoer--Brambanam--
    Sourakarta--Sourabaya and the Tengger.


  CELEBES.

    Makassar and Western Celebes--The Minahasa--
    Gorontalo and the Eastern Coast.


  A Glimpse of Borneo.


  THE MOLUCCAS.

    Ternate, Batjan, and Boeroe.

    Ambon.

    Banda.


  The Solo-Bessir Isles.


  SUMATRA.

    The Western Coast and the Highlands.


  A View of Krakatau.


  PENANG.


  Epilogue.



PROLOGUE.


The traveller who reaches those enchanted gates of the Far East which
swing open at the palm-girt shores of Ceylon, enters upon a new range
of thought and feeling. The first sight of tropical scenery generally
awakens a passionate desire for further experiences of the vast
Archipelago in the Southern Seas which girdles the Equator with an
emerald zone. Lured onward by the scented breeze in that eternal search
for perfection destined to remain unsatisfied where every step marks a
higher ideal than the one already attained, the pilgrim pursues his
endless quest, for human aspiration has never yet touched the goal of
desires and dreams. The cocoanut woods of Ceylon and her equatorial
vegetation lead fancy further afield, for the glassy straits of Malacca
beckon the wanderer down their watery highways to mysterious Java,
where vast forests of waving palms, blue chains of volcanic mountains,
and mighty ruins of a vanished civilisation, loom before the
imagination and invest the tropical paradise with ideal attractions.
The island, seven hundred miles long, and described by Marianne North
as "one magnificent garden of tropical luxuriance," has not yet become
a popular resort of the average tourist, but though lacking some of
those comforts and luxuries found under the British flag, it offers
many compensations in the wealth of beauty and interest afforded by
scenery, architecture, and people. The two days' passage from Singapore
lies through a green chain of countless islets, once the refuge of
those pirates who thronged the Southern seas until suppressed by
European power. The cliffs of Banka, honeycombed with tin quarries, and
the flat green shores of Eastern Sumatra, stretching away to the purple
mountains of the interior, flank the silvery straits, populous with
native _proas_, coasting steamers, _sampans_, and the hollowed log or
"dug-out" which serves as the Malayan canoe. Patched sails of scarlet
and yellow, shaped like bats' wings, suggest gigantic butterflies
afloat upon the tranquil sea. The red roofs of whitewashed towns, and
the tall shafts of white lighthouses emphasise the rich verdure between
the silvery azure of sky and water. The little voyage ends at Tandjon
Priok, nine miles from Batavia, for a volcanic eruption of Mount Salak
in 1699 filled up the ancient harbour, and necessitated the removal of
shipping to a deep bay, as the old city was landed high and dry through
the mass of mud, lava, and volcanic sand, which dammed up the lower
reaches of the Tjiligong river, and destroyed connection with the sea.
The present model harbour, erected at tremendous cost, permits ships of
heavy burden to discharge passengers and cargo with comfort and safety
at a long wharf, without that unpleasant interlude of rocking _sampans_
and reckless boatmen common to Eastern travel. A background of blue
peaks and clustering palms rises beyond the long line of quays and
breakwaters flanked by the railway, and a wealth of tropical scenery
covers a marshy plain with riotous luxuriance. No Europeans live either
in Tandjon Priok or Old Batavia, and the locality was known for two
centuries as "the European graveyard." Flourishing Arab and Chinese
_campongs_ or settlements appear immune from the terrible Java fever
which haunts the morasses of the coast, and the industrial Celestial
who absorbs so much of Oriental commerce, possesses an almost
superhuman imperviousness to climatic dangers.

In the re-adjustment of power after the Fall of Napoleon, Java, invaded
by England in 1811, after a five years' interval of British rule under
the enlightened policy of Sir Stamford Raffles, was restored to the
Throne of Holland. The supremacy of the Dutch East India Company, who,
after a prolonged struggle, acquired authority in Java as residuary
legatee of the Mohammedan Emperor, ended at the close of the eighteenth
century. Perpetual warfare and rebellion, which broke out in Central
Java after the return of the island to the Dutch, taxed the resources
of Holland for five years. Immense difficulties arrested and delayed
the development of the fertile territory, until the "culture system" of
forced labour within a certain area relieved the financial pressure.
One-fifth of village acreage was compulsorily planted with sugar-cane,
and one day's work every week was demanded by the Dutch Government from
the native population. The system was extended to tea and coffee; and
indigo was grown on waste land not needed for the rice, which
constitutes Java's staff of life. Spices and cinchona were also
diligently cultivated under official supervision, and the lives of many
explorers were lost in search of the precious Kina-tree, until Java,
after years of strenuous toil, now produces one-half of that quinine
supply which proves the indispensable safeguard of European existence
on tropic soil. The ruddy bark and scarlet branches of the cinchona
groves glow with autumnal brightness amid the evergreen verdure of the
Javanese hills, and the "culture system," as a financial experiment,
proved, in spite of cavillers, a source of incalculable benefit to the
natives as well as to the colonists of Java. As we travel through the
length and breadth of an island cultivated even to the mountain tops
with the perfection of detail common to the Dutch, as the first
horticulturists of the world, we realise the far-reaching wisdom,
which in a few decades transformed the face of the island, clearing
vast tracks of jungle, and pruning that riot of tropical nature which
destroys as rapidly as it creates. A lengthened survey of Java's
political economy and past history would be out of place in a slight
volume, written as a "compagnon de voyage" to the wanderer who adds a
cruise in the Archipelago to his Eastern itinerary, but the colonial
features of Dutch rule which have produced many beneficial results
demand recognition, for the varied characteristics of national genius
and racial expansion suggest the myriad aspects of that creative power
bestowed on humanity made in the Divine Image, and fulfilling the great
destiny inspired by Heavenly Wisdom.



JAVA.



BATAVIA AND WELTEVREDEN.


From the railway station at Batavia the comfortless "dos-a-dos,"
colloquially known as the _sado_, a vehicle resembling an elementary
Irish car, and drawn by a rat-like Timor pony transports us to the
fashionable suburb of Weltevreden, away from the steamy port and
fever-haunted commercial capital. The march of modern improvement
scarcely affects old-world Java, where jolting _sado_ and ponderous
_milord_ remain unchanged since the early days of colonisation, for
time is a negligeable quantity in this lotus-eating land, too apathetic
even to adopt those alleviations of tropical heat common to British
India. The Java of the ancient world was considered "The Jewel of the
East," and possesses many claims to her immemorial title, but the
stolid Dutchman of to-day contents himself with the domestic
arrangements which sufficed for his sturdy forefathers, scorning the
mitigations of swinging punkah or electric fan. The word Batavia
signifies "fair meadows," and these swampy fields of rank vegetation,
exhaling a deadly miasma, were considered such an adequate defence
against hostile attack, that forts were deemed unnecessary in a
locality where 87,000 soldiers and sailors died in the Government
Hospital during the space of twenty years. Batavia proper is a
commonplace city of featureless streets, brick-walled canals, and
ramshackle public buildings, but the residential town of Weltevreden,
suggesting a glorified Holland, combines the quaint charm of the mother
country with the Oriental grace and splendour of the tropics. The broad
canals bordered by colossal cabbage-palms, the white bridges gay with
the many coloured garb of the Malay population, the red-tiled roofs
embowered in a wealth of verdure, and the pillared verandahs veiled
with gorgeous creepers, tumbling in sheets of purple and scarlet from
cornice to floor, compose a characteristic picture, wherein Dutch
individuality triumphs over incongruous environment. Waving palms clash
their fronds in the sea-breeze; avenues of feathery tamarind and
bending waringen trees surround Weltevreden with depths of green
shadow; the scarlet hybiscus flames amid tangled foliage, where the
orange chalices of the flowering Amherstia glisten from sombre
branches, and hang like fairy goblets from the interwoven roofs of
tropical tunnels, pierced by broad red roads. On this Sunday afternoon
of the waning year which introduces us to Weltevreden, family groups
are gathered round tea tables canopied with flowers and palms, in the
white porticos of the Dutch villas, and the startling déshabille
adopted by Holland in the Netherlands India almost defies description.
The ladies, with stockingless feet thrust into heelless slippers, and
attired in the Malay _sarong_ (two yards of painted cotton cloth),
supplemented by a white dressing-jacket, display themselves in
verandah, carriage, or street, in a garb only fit for the bath-room;
while the men, lounging about in pyjamas, go barefoot with the utmost
_sangfroid_. The _sarong_, as worn by the slender and graceful Malay,
appears a modest and appropriate garb, but the grotesque effect of
native attire on the broad-built Dutchwoman affords conclusive proof
that neither personal vanity nor a sense of humour pertain to her
stolid personality. Dutch Puritanism certainly undergoes startling
transformations under the tropical skies, and the Netherlands India
produces a modification of European ideas concerning what have been
called "the minor moralities of life," unequalled in colonial
experience. An identical exhibition fills the open corridors of the
Hotel Nederlanden, built round a central court, and the general resort
of the guests during the hot hours of the January days. Evening dress
is reserved for State occasions, and though _sarong_ and _kabaja_ be
discarded at the nine o'clock dinner, the blouse and skirt of morning
wear in England suffices even at this late hour for the fair Hollander,
who also concedes so far to the amenities of civilisation as sometimes
to put on her stockings. So much of life in Java is spent in eating,
sleeping, and bathing, that but a small residuum can be spared for
those outside interests which easily drop away from the European when
exiled to a colony beyond the beaten track of travel, and destitute of
that external friction which counteracts the enervating influence of
the tropics. Comfort is at a discount according to English ideas, but
the arrangements of the Hotel Nederlanden, under a kindly and capable
proprietor, render it an exception to the prevailing rule. Each guest
is apportioned a little suite, consisting of bedroom, sitting-room, and
a section of the verandah, fitted up with cane lounge, table, and
rocking-chair. The bathrooms, with porcelain tank and tiles, leave
nothing to be desired, and the "dipper-bath," infinitely cooler than
the familiar tub, becomes an unfailing delight. Ominous prophecies have
emphasised the rashness of coming to Java in the rainy season, but it
has expended its force before January arrives, and though daily showers
cool the air, and the sky is often overcast, no inconvenience is
experienced. Lizards and mosquitoes are few, and in the marble-floored
dining hall of cathedral proportions the absence of a punkah is
generally unfelt, though the fact of a tropical climate is realised at
the slightest exertion. The day begins at 6 a.m. with a cup of the Java
coffee, which, at first unpalatable, reveals by degrees the hidden
excellence of the beverage, brought cold in a stoppered cruet, the
potent essence requiring a liberal admixture of boiling water. At 9
a.m. a solid but monotonous breakfast of sausage, bacon, eggs, and
cheese is customary, with the accompaniment of iced water, though tea
and coffee are provided for the foreign traveller, unused to the cold
comfort which commends itself to Dutch taste. The mid-day _riz-tavel_
from beginning to end of a stay in Java, remains the terror of the
English visitor. Each plate is heaped with a mound of rice, on which
scraps of innumerable ingredients are placed--meat, fish, fowl, duck,
prawns, curry, fried bananas, and nameless vegetables, together with
chilis and chutneys, sembals, spices, and grated cocoanut, in
bewildering profusion. The Dutch digestion triumphantly survives this
severe test at the outset of the meal, and courageously proceeds to the
complementary courses of beefsteak, fritters and cheese. Fortunately
for those of less vigorous appetite, mine host of the Nederlanden, far
in advance of his Javanese fraternity, kindly provides a simple
"tiffin" as an alternative to this Gargantuan repast. Afternoon tea is
served in the verandah, and at eight o'clock the Dutch contingent,
having slept off the effects of the rice table, prepares with renewed
energies to attack a heavy dinner. New Year's Eve is celebrated by a
very bombardment of fireworks from the Chinese _campong_, and crowds
hasten to the fine Roman Catholic church for Benediction, Te Deum, and
an eloquent, though to me incomprehensible, Dutch sermon. Crisp muslins
and uncovered heads for the women, and white linen garb for the men,
are the rule in church, for the slatternly undress of _sarong_ and
pyjamas is happily inadmissible within the walls of the sanctuary,
where the fair fresh faces and neat array compose a pleasing picture
which imagination would fail to evolve from the burlesque ugliness of
the slovenly déshabille wherewith the Dutch colonist disguises every
claim to beauty or grace. On alluding to the shock experienced by this
grotesque travesty of native garb, a Dutch officer asserts that there
are in reality but few Dutch ladies in Java of pure racial stock, for
one unhappy result of remoteness from European influence is shown by
the gradual merging of the Dutch colonists into the Malay race by
intermarriage. Exile to Java was made financially easy and attractive
by the Dutch Government, but it was for the most part a permanent
separation from the mother country, and a long term of years
necessarily elapsed before the colonial planter could even return for a
short visit to his native land. The overwhelming force of public
opinion against mixed marriages, and the consequent degeneration of
type, from a union which lowers one of the contracting parties without
raising the other, beats but faintly against these remote shores, cut
off from associations which mould and modify the crudities of
individual thought in regions swept by the full tide of contemporary
life. The idea of welding European and Asiatic elements into one race,
as a defence against external aggression, possesses a superficial
plausibility, but ages of historical experiment only confirm the
unalterable truth of the poetic dictum that

    East is East, and West is West,
      And never the two shall meet.
    Until they stand on either hand,
      At God's great Judgment Seat!

The sudden rise of an Oriental race to the position of a great
world-power, and the apprehensions of coming struggles for supremacy in
Eastern waters, present many future complications concerning Java, even
if not weakened by the assimilation of her European colonists to an
inferior race.

Neither landlord nor secretary of the Hotel Nederlanden spare time or
trouble in arranging the programme of sight-seeing, and but for their
kindly help, only a partial success would be possible, owing to the
difficulties presented by the two unknown tongues of Dutch and Malay.
Ignorance of the former involves separation from the world as revealed
by newspapers, and though a smattering of "coolie Malay" is picked up
with the aid of a handbook, and the "hundred words" mastered,
sanguinely asserted to suffice for colloquial needs, there are many
occasions when even the practice of this elementary language requires a
more extensive vocabulary. At a New Year's fête given by the proprietor
of the hotel to his numerous Malay employés, we make our first
acquaintance with native music. Dancing girls, in mask and tinsel,
gyrate to the weird strains of the _Gamelon_, an orchestra of tiny
gongs, bamboo tubes, and metal pipes. Actors perform old-world dramas
in dumb show, and conjurors in gaudy attire attract people of all ages
to those time-honoured feats of legerdemain which once represented the
sorcery of the mystic East. The simple Malay has not yet adopted the
critical and unbelieving attitude which rubs the gilt off the
gingerbread or the bloom off the plum, and his fervid faith in mythical
heroes and necromantic exploits gives him the key to that kingdom of
fancy often closed to a sadder if wiser world. The electric tram
provides an excellent method of gaining a general idea of Batavia and
Weltevreden; the winding route skirting canals and palm groves,
_campongs_ of basket-work huts, and gay _passers_, the native markets,
with their wealth of many-coloured fruit. Stacks of golden bananas,
olive-tinted dukus, rambutans like green chestnut-shells with scarlet
prickles, amber star-fruit, brown salak, the "forbidden apple,"
bread-fruit, and durian offer an embarassing choice. Pineapples touch
perfection on Java soil; cherimoya and mango, papaya and the various
custard-fruits, the lovely but tasteless rose-apple, and the dark green
equatorial orange of delicious flavour, afford a host of unfamiliar
experiences. The winter months are the season of the peerless
mangosteen, in beauty as well as in savour the queen of tropical
fruits. The rose-lined purple globes, with the central ball of ivory
whiteness in each fairy cup, suggest fugitive essences of strawberry
and nectarine combined with orange to produce this equatorial marvel,
also considered perfectly wholesome. The mangosteen, ripening just
north or south of the Equator, according to the alternations of the wet
and dry seasons, cannot be preserved long enough to reach the temperate
zone, and though every year shows fresh varieties of tropical fruit
successfully transported to European markets, the mangosteen remains
unknown outside the narrow radius of the equatorial region to which the
tree is indigenous. The flower markets blaze with many-coloured roses,
tons of gardenias and a wealth of white heavy-scented flowers, such as
tuberoses and Arabian jasmine. All the spices of the East, in fact,
seem breathing from these mounds of blossom, as well as from gums and
essences distilled from them in archaic fashion. Transparent sachets,
filled with the scented petals of _ylang-ylang_, fill the air with
intoxicating sweetness, and outside the busy _passer_, a
frangipanni-tree, the native _sumboya_ or "flower of the dead," just
opening a white crowd of golden-hearted blossoms to the sun, adds
another wave of perfume to the floral incense, steaming from earth to
sky with prodigal exuberance.

Batavia possesses few objects of interest. The dismal green-shuttered
Stadkirche, a relic of Dutch Calvinism; the earliest warehouse of the
Netherlands Company, a commonplace lighthouse, and the gate of Peter
Elberfeld's dwelling (now his tomb), with his spear-pierced skull above
the lintel, as a reminder of the sentence pronounced on traitors to the
Dutch Government, comprise the scanty catalogue. Antiquities and
archæological remains fill a white museum of classical architecture on
the Koenig's Plein, a huge parade ground, flanked by the Palace of the
Governor-General. Gold and silver ornaments, gifts from tributary
princes, shield and helmet, dagger, and _kris_, of varied stages in
Malay civilisation, abound in these spacious halls, where every
Javanese industry may be studied. Buddhist and Hindu temples have
yielded up a treasury of images, censers, and accessories of worship,
the excavations of ruined cities in Central Java, long overgrown with
impenetrable jungle, opening a mine of archæological wealth in musical
instruments, seals, coins, headgear, chairs and umbrellas of State.
Golden pipes and betel-boxes show the perfection of the goldsmith's
art, and metal statues vie with those of sculptured wood or stone. Here
Captain Cook left his treasure trove from the Southern seas, and the
Council Chamber of the Museum contains portraits and souvenirs of the
great navigators who sailed into the uncharted ocean of geographical
discovery, and in various stages of their adventurous careers anchored
at Java, to display the wondrous trophies of unknown lands in the
island then regarded as the farthest outpost of contemporary
civilisation.

The _toelatingskaart_, or Javanese passport, formerly indispensable for
insular travel beyond the radius of forty miles from Batavia, though
not yet obsolete, proves practically needless, and is never once
demanded during a six weeks' stay. The small addition contributed to
the rich revenue by this useless official "permit," appears the sole
reason for retaining it, now that vexatious restrictions are withdrawn.
In the intervals of arranging an up-country tour from monotonous
Weltevreden, destitute of any attraction beyond the white colonnades
and verdant groves flanking sleepy canals and quaint bridges, the local
industry of _sarong_ stippling affords a curious interest. Every city
in Java possesses a special type of this historic dress, represented on
the walls of temples dating before the Christian era, and worn by the
Malay races from time immemorial. This strip of cotton cloth, which
forms the attire both of men and women, is twisted firmly round the
body, and requires no girdle to secure it. Palm-fronds, birds, and
animals, geometric patterns, religious emblems, fruits and flowers, are
represented in bewildering confusion. The girls, with flower-decked
hair and scanty garb, occupy a long, low shed, filled with rude frames
for stretching the cloth, painted in soft-tinted dyes--brown, blue, and
amber for the most part--with tapering funnels. These waxed cloths
allow infinite scope for native imagination, only a small panel of
formal design being obligatory, the remaining surface fancifully
coloured at will in harmonious hues. No two _sarongs_ are alike, and
the painted _battek_, notwithstanding the simplicity of the cotton
background, represents an amount of labour and finish which makes the
archaic garment a costly, though almost indestructible production. The
graceful _slandang_, a crossed scarf of the same material, only serves
as a shoulder-strap, wherein the brown Malay baby sits contentedly, for
the ugly white jacket of the Dutchwoman is now compulsory on the
native. Every variety of _battek_, basket-work, mats, and quaint silver
or brass ware, is brought by native peddlers to the broad verandahs of
the hotel, the patient and gentle people content to spend long hours on
the marble steps, dozing between their scanty bargains, or crimsoning
their months with the stimulating morsel of betel-nut, said to allay
the hunger, thirst, and exhaustion of the steaming tropics. The
conquered race, cowed by ages of tyranny under native princes,
possesses those mild and effeminate characteristics fostered by a
languid and enervating climate. That the salient angles of the sturdy
Dutch character, which accomplished so many feats of endurance in the
earlier days of the colony, should undergo rapid disintegration by
intermarriage with the native stock, must arouse regret in all who
realise the claims to respect possessed by the fighting forefathers of
Holland's tropical dependencies.

Educational matters were for centuries in abeyance, and until 1864 the
Malays were forbidden to learn the language of their European rulers.
Many dialects are found in Java's wide territory, but Low Malay has
been declared the official tongue, and with the advance of public
opinion, wider views prevail concerning the rights of the subject race.
A good Roman Catholic priest, one of the most enlightened and liberal
Dutchmen encountered in Java, asserts that in the schools of the
Colonial Government, the Malay boy possesses a mathematical facility
superior to that of the Dutch scholar, in spite of the advantage
accruing from hereditary education.

At the sunset hour, Batavian life awakens from the long slumbers of the
tropical afternoon, and as the golden light filters through the waving
palms, the long Schul-Weg, beside the central canal, fills with
saunterers, enjoying the delights of that brief spell, when peace and
coolness fall on the world before the sudden twilight drops veil after
veil of deepening gloom, merging into the "darkness which may be felt,"
for the twelve hours of the tropical night. Gathering clouds reveal but
scanty glimpses of the moon in these January weeks, but through rifts
in the sombre canopy, the Southern stars hang low in the dome of
heaven, and shine like burning lamps, appearing almost within reach of
an outstretched hand.



BUITENZORG.


The first destination of the up-country traveller in Java is
Buitenzorg, the Dutch "Sans Souci," containing the Governor-General's
rural Palace, the houses of Court officials, and the superb Botanical
Garden, which ranks first among the horticultural triumphs of the
world. The two hours' journey by the railway, which now traverses the
whole of Java, shows a succession of tropical landscapes, appearing
unreal in their fantastic and dream-like beauty. The glowing green of
rice-fields, the dense forests of swaying palms, the porphyry tints of
the teeming soil, and the purple mountains, carved into the weird
contours peculiar to volcanic ranges, frame myriad pictures of
unfamiliar native life with dramatic effect. Villages of woven
basket-work cluster beneath green curtains of banana and spreading
canopies of palm, the central mosque surmounting the tiny huts with
many-tiered roofs, and walls inlaid with gleaming tiles of white and
blue. Brown figures, with gay _sarong_ and turbaned headgear, bring
bamboo buckets to moss-grown wells, gray water-buffaloes crop marshy
herbage, a little bronze-hued figure seated on each broad back, and
busy workers stand knee-deep in slush, to transplant emerald blades of
rice or to gather the yellow crops, for seedtime and harvest go on
together in this fertile land. Our train halts at Depok, a Christian
village unique in Java, for the religious history of the island shows
little missionary enterprise among a race strangely indifferent to the
claims of faith, and lightly casting away one creed after another, with
a carelessness which has ever proved a formidable bar to spiritual
progress. The Portuguese Jesuits were expelled by the Dutch, and
English efforts at conversion were succeeded by a general exclusion of
foreign missionaries. Public opinion eventually prevented the
continuance of this despotic rule, and at the present day a certain
number of Roman and Protestant clergy are supported by the Government,
but Roman zeal outstrips the niggardly spiritual provision, and proves
the appreciation in which it is held by full churches and devout
worshippers. The Mohammedanism of the Malay lacks the fiery fervour
common to Islam, and his slack hands are ever ready to forego all
symbols of faith. From the region of rice and tapioca, maize and
sugar-cane, we reach the great cacao plantations, hung with
chocolate-coloured pods, and the ruddy kina-groves on the lower slopes
of the mountain chain. The palms are everywhere, clashing their huge
fronds, and undulating in waves of fiery green, the light and shadow of
the golden evening reflected on the swaying foliage. Stately Palmyra,
slender areca, graceful pandang with a length of scarlet crowning each
smooth grey stem, the mighty royal palm, king of the forest, spreading
cocoanuts, and a hundred unknown varieties, soaring among bread-fruit
and teak, nutmeg and waringen, reveal the inexhaustible powers of
tropical Nature. Buitenzorg occupies an ideal position between the blue
and violet peaks of Gedeh and Salak, the guardian mountains of the
fairy spot, perennially green with spring-like freshness, from the
daily showers sweeping across the valley from one or other of the lofty
crests, and possessing a delicious climate at an altitude of eight
hundred feet. The Hotel Bellevue, where _back_ rooms should be secured
on account of a superb prospect, comprising river, mountain and forest,
stands near the great entrance of the world-famous Gardens, and our
balcony commands a profound ravine, carved by a clear river, winding
away between forests of palm to the dark cone of Mount Salak, the
climax of the picture. The artist destined to interpret the soul of
Java is yet unborn, or unable to grasp the character of her unique and
distinctive scenery, but a village of plaited palm-leaves, accentuating
this tropical Eden, brings it down to the human level, where soft Malay
voices, glimpses of domestic life, and a canoe afloat on the brimming
stream, remind us that we are still on _terra firma_, and not gazing
at a dreamland Paradise beyond earthly ken. Sleeping accommodation in
the hills suggests little comfort. A hard mattress beneath a sheet is
the sole furniture of the huge four-poster, surrounded by thick muslin
curtains to exclude air and creeping things; pillows are stuffed hard
with cotton-down, and no coverings are provided--an unalterable custom
possessing obvious disadvantages in a climate reeking with damp, where
the walls of a room closed for a day or two become green with mould.
Rheumatic stiffness on waking is a matter of course in humid Java, for
the hour between darkness and dawn contains a concentrated essence of
dew, mist, and malaria, which penetrates to the very marrow of
unaccustomed bones, even when it lacks the frequent accompaniment of
the violent cascade known as "a tropical shower." The glorious
Botanical Garden is approached by a mighty avenue of colossal
kanari-trees, over a hundred feet high, with yellow light filtering
through the fretted roof of interlacing boughs, which suggests a vast
aisle in some primeval forest. Stately columns and spreading roots
garlanded with stag-horn ferns, waving moss, white and purple orchids,
or broad-leaved creepers, falling in sheets and torrents of shining
foliage and knitting tree to tree, attest the irrepressible growth of
vegetation, which flings a many-coloured veil of blossom and leaf over
root, branch, and stem. A fairy lake glows with the pink and crimson
blossoms of the noble Victoria Regia, the huge leaves like green
tea-trays floating on the water, where a central fountain adds
prismatic radiance to the scenic effect of the splendid lilies.
Climbing palms and massive creepers, splashed with orange, scarlet, and
gold, tumble in masses from lofty branches, and the dazzling
Bougainvillea flings curtains of roseate purple over wall and gateway.
A dense thicket of frangipanni scents the air with the symbolic
blossoms, shining like stars from grey-green boughs of sharp-cut
leaves. A copse of splendid tree-ferns flanks the forest-like
plantation known as "The Thousand Palms," and beneath dusky avenues of
waringen (a variety of the banyan species, which strikes staff-like
boughs into the earth and springs up again in caverns of foliage),
herds of deer are wandering, snatching at drooping vines, or sheltering
from the fierce sun in depths of impenetrable shade. Tufts of
red-stemmed Banka palms cluster on the green islets of lake and river,
vista after vista opens up, each mysterious aisle appearing more lovely
than the last, and luring the wanderer to the climax formed by a
terraced knoll, commanding a superb view of Gedeh and Salak, the twin
summits of chiselled turquoise, gashed by the amethyst shadows of deep
ravines, with Gedeh's curl of volcanic smoke staining the lustrous
azure of the sky. Many-coloured tree carnations, gorgeous cannas and
calladiums, copses of snowy gardenia, and flowering shrubs of rainbow
hues, blaze with splendour, or exhale their wealth of perfume on the
languid air, thronged with the invisible souls of the floral multitude.
Graceful rattans shoot up in tall ladders of foliage-hidden cane,
climbing to the topmost fronds of the loftiest palm, and, unless
ruthlessly cut down, overthrowing the stately tree with their fatal
embrace. Sausage and candle trees, with strange parodies of prosaic
food and waxen tapers, climbing palms, sometimes extending for five
hundred feet, and gigantic blossoms like crimson trumpets, or
delicately-tinted shells of ocean, comprise but a tithe of Nature's
wonders, crowned by the mighty "Rafflesia," the largest flower in the
world, with each vast red chalice often measuring a circumference of
six feet. A hundred native gardeners are employed in this park-like
domain, and seventy men work in the adjacent culture-garden of forty
acres, where experiments in grafting and acclimatizing are carried on,
as well as in the supplementary garden of Tjibodas, beautifully
situated on the lower slopes of Mount Salak. The white palace of the
Governor-General faces the lake, fed by the lovely river Tjiligong,
winding in silver loops round verdant lawn and palm-clad hill, or
expanding into bamboo-fringed lakes, and bringing perennial freshness
into the tropical Eden of sun-bathed Java.

Beyond the fretted arches of the great kanari avenue, the white tomb
of Lady Raffles, who died during her husband's term of office in the
island, forms a pathetic link with the past. When the colony was
restored to Holland, a clause in the treaty concerning it, made the
perpetual care of this monument, to one deeply loved and mourned,
binding upon the Dutch Governor--a condition loyally observed during
the century since the cessation of English rule. Cinnamon and clove
scent the breeze which whispers mysterious secrets to the swaying
plumes of the tall sago-palms, and dies away in the delicate foliage of
tamarind and ironwood tree. A network of air roots makes a grotesque
circle round the spreading boughs of the banyan grove, mahogany and
sandal-wood, ebony and cork, ginger-tree and cardamom, mingle their
varied foliage, the translucency of sun-smitten green shading through
deepening tones into the sombre tints of ilex and pine with exquisite
gradation. Flamboyant trees flaunt fiery pyramids of blossom high in
the air, and the golden bouquets of the salacca light up dusky avenues,
where large-leaved lianas rope themselves from tree to tree in cables
of vivid green. Bare stems, except in the palms, are unknown in this
richly-decorated temple of Nature; climbing blade-plants with
sword-like leaves of gold-striped verdure, huge orchids like
many-coloured birds and butterflies fluttering in the wind, wreathe
trunk and branch with fantastic splendour, and matted creepers weave
curtains of dense foliage from spreading boughs. The austere and scanty
vegetation of Northern climes, which gives a distinct outline and value
to every leaf and flower, has nothing in common with the prodigal and
passionate beauty of the tropical landscape, where the wealth of earth
is flung broadcast at our feet in mad profusion. Day by day the
marvellous gardens of Buitenzorg take deeper hold of mind and
imagination. The early dawn, when the dark silhouettes of the palms
stand etched against the rose-tinted heavens, the hot noontide in the
shadows of the colossal kanari-trees, the sunset gold transfiguring the
foliage into emerald fire, and spilling pools of liquid amber upon the
mossy turf, or the white moonlight which transmutes the forest aisles
into a fairy world of sable and silver, invest this vision of Paradise
with varied aspects of incomparable beauty. The surrounding scenery,
though full of interest, seems but the setting of the priceless gem,
and when inexorable Time, the modern angel of the flaming sword, at
length bars the way, and banishes us from our Javanese Eden, the exiled
heart turns back perpetually to the floral sanctuary, the antitype of
that Divinely-planted Garden on the dim borderland of Time which
revealed and fulfilled the primeval beauty of earth's morning hours.



SOEKABOEMI AND SINDANGLAYA.


Soekaboemi (Desire of the World), a favourite sanatorioum of the Dutch,
is approached by an exquisite railway, curving round the purple heights
of forest-girt Salak. The usual afternoon deluge weeps itself away,
palm plumes and cassava boughs, overhanging the silvery Tjiligong, drop
showers of diamonds into the current, and giant bamboos creak in the
spicy wind, redolent of gardenia and clove. The hills, scaled by green
rice-terraces, each with tiny rill and miniature cascade, are vocal
with murmuring waters. Lilac plumbago, red hybiscus, and golden
allemanda mingle with pink and purple lantana, yellow daisies, and
hedges of scarlet tassels, enclosing wicker huts in patches of banana
and cocoanut. Brown girls, in blue and orange _sarongs_, occupy the
steps of a basket-work shrine, from whence an unknown god, smeared with
ochre, extends a sceptred hand, for Hinduism left deep traces on
inland Java, dim with the dust of vanished creeds. The expense and
trouble of former travel by the superb post-roads, made at terrible
sacrifice of life in earlier days, is now done away with, though the
noble avenues and picturesque shelters, erected for protection from sun
or rain, suggest a pleasant mode of leisurely progress. No trains may
run at night, not only on account of native incompetence, but from
dangers caused by constant geographical changes on this volcanic soil,
where rivers suddenly alter their course, and earthquakes obstruct the
way with yawning chasms or heaps of debris. A paternal Government
provides the traveller with a half-way house, erecting a large hotel at
Maos, with uniform rates, entirely for the benefit of the passenger by
rail. Trains are built on the American plan, stations are spacious and
airy, refreshments easily secured, and every halting-place offers an
_embarras de richesses_ in the shape of tropical fruits, wherewith to
supplement or replace the solidity of the Dutch commissariat. Coffee
and tea plantations in ordered neatness, contrast with the untamed
profusion of forest vegetation, clothing sharp promontory and shelving
terrace. Dusky villages cling like birds' nests to ledges of rock,
screw-palms with airy roots frame mountain tarns, and a Brazilian
Emperor-palm, with smooth column bulging into a pear-shaped base,
accentuates the sunset glory from a crag crowned by the black canopy
of colossal fronds. The Preanger Regency was the heart of ancient
Mataram, that historic kingdom of old-world Java round which perpetual
warfare waged for centuries.

Language and customs change as we cross the saddle between the blue
peaks of Salak and Gedeh; gay crowds bring fruits to picturesque
wayside markets, bearing bamboo poles laden with golden papaya and
purple mangosteen, or plaited baskets containing the conglomerate
native cuisine. The elastic and gracefully-modelled figures of the
Soendanese populace betoken a purer race than that of the steamy
Batavian lowlands, where foreign elements deteriorate the native stock.
The Hotel Victoria at Soekaboemi consists of detached white buildings
round tree-filled courts, erected on the "pavilion system." Every two
visitors occupy a tiny bungalow of two bedrooms, opening on a spacious
verandah divided by a screen, and each section provided with lamp,
rocking-chair, and tea-table, the long public dining hall being
approached by a covered alley. The rain, swishing down through the
night in torrents and cataracts, clears at sunrise, and though heavy
clouds still veil the heights of Salak, the transparent beauty of the
morning crystallises the atmosphere, and sharply defines every feature
of the landscape. The country roads, shaded by towering palms and
fruit-laden mangos, glow with a continuous procession of brown
figures, the women clad in the universal _sarong_, but men and children
often in Nature's garb, with touches of orange or crimson in scarf and
turban. Water-oxen and buffaloes, goats and sheep, vary the throng, but
cattle fare badly in fertile Java, where the all-pervading rice ousts
the pasture-land. Glorious bamboos form arches of feathery green
meeting across the road, and the busy China _campong_, or _désar_ in
Preanger parlance, is full of life and movement with the first streak
of day, for all trade in Java depends upon the indefatigable industry
of the Celestial. The idle gambling Malay, though an expert hunter and
fisher, takes no thought for the morrow, and is protected by the Dutch
Government from ruin by an enforced demand of rice for storage,
according to the numbers of the family. Every village contains the
great Store Barn of plaited palm leaves, so that, in case of need, the
confiscated rice can be doled out to the improvident native, who thus
contributes to the support of his family in times of scarcity. This
regulation relieves want without pauperising, the common garner merely
serving as a compulsory savings bank. Many salutary laws benefit the
Malay, possessing a notable share of tropical slackness, and the lack
of initiative partly due to a servile past under the sway of tyrannical
native princes. The little brown people of Java, eminently gentle and
tractable, are honest enough for vendors of eatables to place a laden
basket at the roadside for the refreshment of the traveller, who drops
a small coin into a bamboo tube fastened to a tree for this purpose.
The customary payment is never omitted, and at evening the owner of the
basket collects the money, and brings a fresh supply of food for future
wayfarers. Country districts demonstrate the fact of Java being a
creedless land. This is Sunday, and the Feast of the Epiphany, but the
only honour paid to the day consists in a gayer garb, and a band
playing for an hour in the palm-shaded garden. Work goes on in
rice-field and plantation, but no church bell rings from the closed
chapel outside the gates, and no sign of religion is evident, whether
from mosque, temple, or church. Lovely lanes form alluring vistas. The
pretty _désas_ of plaited palm and bamboo, hiding in depths of tropical
woodland, with blue thunbergia clambering over every verandah, and the
Preanger girls, with their brilliant _slandangs_ of orange and scarlet,
amber and purple, make vivid points of colour in the foreground of blue
mountain and dusky forest. A copper-coloured boy carries on his head a
basket of gold-fish large as salmon, the westering sun glittering on
the ruddy scales.

Traditional servility remains ingrained in Preanger character, and the
crouching obeisance known as the _dodok_, formerly insisted upon, is
still observed by the native to his European masters, the humble
posture giving place to kneeling on a nearer approach. The kind
proprietor of the Soekaboemi Hotel offers every facility to those
guests anxious to penetrate below the surface of Soendanese life,
placing his carriage and himself at the disposal of the visitor, and
affording a mine of information otherwise unattainable, for books on
Java are few and far between, and the work of Sir Stamford Raffles
continues the best authority on island life and customs, though a
century has elapsed since it was written. Why, one asks in amazement,
did England part with this Eastern Paradise? rich not only in
vegetation, but containing unexplored treasures of precious metal and
the vast mineral wealth peculiar to volcanic regions, where valuable
chemical products are precipitated by the subterranean forces of
Nature's mysterious laboratory. In the far-off days when "the grand
tour" of Europe was the climax of the ordinary traveller's ambition,
beautiful Java was relinquished on the plea of being an unknown and
useless possession, too far from the beaten track of British sailing
ships to be of practical value. The remonstrances of Sir Stamford
Raffles, and his representations of future colonial expansion, were
regarded as the dreams of a romantic enthusiast, and the noble English
Governor, in advance of his age, while effecting during his brief
tenure of office results unattainable by a century of ordinary labour,
found his efforts wasted and his work undone. Instead of returning
home, he applied himself heroically to the developement of Singapore,
the eternal monument of patriotic devotion and invincible courage.

The line to Tjandjoer, the starting point for Sindanglaya, traverses
one of the exquisite plains characteristic of Java. Mountain walls,
with palm-fringed base and violet crest, bound a fertile expanse, where
myriad brooks foam through fairy arches of feathery bamboo and long
vistas of spreading palm fronds. Rice in every stage of growth, from
flaming green to softest yellow, covers countless terraces, the
picturesque outlines of their varied contours enhancing the beauty of
the fantastic scene. A _sado_, with a team of three tiny ponies, dashes
up the long avenue leading to the palm-fringed hills, the mighty
Amherstia trees forming aisles of dark green foliage, brightened with
the vivid glow of orange red blossoms. The broad road is a kaleidoscope
of brilliant colour, for native costume vies with the dazzling tints of
tropical Nature as we advance further into the Preangers. The gay
headgear, worn turbanwise, with two ends standing upright above plaited
folds, and magenta _kabajas_, with _slandangs_ of apple green, amber or
purple, make a blaze of colour against the forest background, or glow
amidst the dusky shadows of palm-thatched sheds, where thirsty
travellers imbibe pink and yellow syrups, the favourite beverages of
the Malay race. The ascending road commands superb views of the
mountain chain, and the rambling two-storied hotel, widened by immense
verandahs, stands opposite cloud-crowned Gedeh, half-veiled by the
spreading column of volcanic smoke. The misty blue of further hills
leads the eye to the three weird peaks of the Tangkoeban Prahoe, the
boat-shaped "Ark" regarded as the Ararat of Java, for the universal
tradition of the great Deluge underlies the religious history welded
from Moslem, Buddhist, and Hindu elements. Legendary lore clusters
round the petrified "Ark" in which the progenitors of the Malayan stock
escaped from the Noachian flood. The storm-tossed and water-logged
boat, lodged between jutting rocks, was reversed that it might dry in
the sun, but the weary voyagers who traditionally peopled the Malay
Archipelago remained in the lotus-eating land, and the disused "Ark" or
_Prau_, fossilizing through the ages, became a portion of the peaks
whereon it rested. The sacred mountain developed into a place of
pilgrimage and prayer, and the ruins of richly-carved temples, together
with four broken flights of a thousand steps, denote the former
importance ascribed to the great Altar of Nature, and the power of
religion on the social life of the past. Generations of later
inhabitants, dwelling in flimsy huts of bamboo and thatch, regarded the
mysterious ruins of the Tankahan Prahoe as the work of giants or
demons, and the haunted hill as a mysterious resort of evil spirits.
In lofty Sindanglaya, the swaying palms of the lowlands yield to
glorious tree-ferns, shading road and ravine with feathery canopies of
velvet green. A lake of azure crystal mirrors a thick fringe of the
great fronds, and on every parapet of the ruddy cliffs the living
emerald of the lanceolated foliage glows in vivid contrast with the
splintered crags. Sindanglaya is the refuge of fever-stricken Europeans
from malarial coast or inland swamp, but the hotel is now empty of
invalids. The kind proprietor lavishes time and care on English guests,
and the attentive Malay "room-boys," squatting on the verandah outside
our doors, fear to lose sight of their charges for a moment, lest some
need of native help should arise. They watch hand and eye like faithful
dogs, for their language is unintelligible to us as ours to them, and
the only attempt at speech is "_Chow-chow, mister!_" when the
dinner-bell rings, the mystic words accompanied by a realistic
pantomime of mouth and fingers.

The following morning dawns like an ideal day of June, and we start in
chairs, carried by four coolies, for the beautiful Falls of Tjibereum.
A mountain road winds through rice-fields and tree-ferns towards fold
upon fold of lilac peaks, until we reach the mountain garden of
Tjibodas, the beautiful supplement of incomparable Buitenzorg. A
strange sense of remoteness belongs to this lonely pleasaunce of the
upper world, on a sheltered slope of ever-burning Gedeh, quiescent now
save for the blue curl of sulphurous smoke, which gives perpetual
warning of those smouldering forces ever ready to devastate the
surrounding country. Subterranean activity increases during the rainy
season, and tremors of earthquake occasionally startle the equanimity
of those unused to the perils of existence on this thin crust of Mother
Earth, for Java's teeming soil and population rest upon an ominous
fissure of the globe's surface, and twelve of the forty-five volcanos
on this island of terror and beauty are still moderately active,
sometimes displaying sudden outbursts of energy. The green lawns and
towering camphor trees of Tjibodas suggest the spellbound beauty of
some enchanted spot, unprofaned by human foot. A glassy lake mirrors
the tall bamboos and feathery tamarinds, their slender and sensitive
foliage motionless in the still air of the dewy dawn. Huge coleas
accentuate the spring verdure with heavy masses of bronze and crimson,
and magnolias exhale intoxicating odours from snowy chalices. Blue
lilies and flaxen pampas grass grow in thickets upon the emerald
slopes, and the ordered loveliness of the mountain Paradise, walled in
by dense jungle and savage precipice, brings the glamour of dreamland
into the stern environment of mysterious forest and frowning peak. A
rudely-paved and mossy path, shadowed by the black foliage of stately
casuarinas, leads into the gloomy jungle. The forest monarchs are
curtained with tangled creepers and roped together with serpent-like
lianas, stag-horn ferns, and green veils of filmy moss fluttering from
every bough. A swampy path through rank grass and rough boulders
pierces the dense thickets, matted together with inextricable
confusion, teak and tamarind, acacia and bread-fruit, palm and
tree-fern losing their own characteristics and merging themselves into
concrete form. The appalling stillness and solemnity of the dense
jungle appears emphasised by a solitary brown figure, with pipe and
betel-box, beneath a thatched shed at an angle of the narrow track,
where he presides over a little stall of cocoanuts, bananas, and
coloured syrups, for the refreshment of coolies on their way from the
Tjibodas garden to villages across the heights of Gedeh. No voice ever
seems raised in these remote recesses of the mountains, where even the
children of each brown hamlet play silently as figures in a dream. Our
bearers, swishing through wet grass and splashing across brimming
brooks, push with renewed energies up a steep ascent to the heart of
the wild solitude, where three mighty waterfalls dash in savage
grandeur from a range of over hanging cliffs into a churning river,
descending by continuous rapids over a stairway of brown-striped
trap-rock and swirling between lichen-clad banks, to lose itself in the
green gloom of the impenetrable woods. One of these huge cascades
would make the fortune of a Swiss valley, and we need no further
efforts of our willing bearers in the cause of sight-seeing, but as
neither words nor gestures prove intelligible to Western obtuseness, a
brown coolie seizes each arm, and rushes us up a grassy hill to a huge
cavern, hung with myriad bats, and containing a pool of crystal water.
The simple minds of these kindly mountaineers shirk no trouble for the
benefit of the stranger, who, though regarded as a madman, must be
humoured as such, not only to the top of his bent, but often beyond it.
A descent through rice-fields and _désas_ skirts the serrated cliffs of
Gedeh's northward side, though tree-ferns growing in thousands afford
shelter from the daily showers. The sudden passion of tropical rain
dies away, leaving an atmosphere of unearthly transparency. Gedeh,
carved in amethyst, leans against a primrose sky, streaked by the puff
of white smoke from the crater. Villagers returning from work brighten
the road with patches of scarlet and yellow; children, clad only in
necklaces of red seeds and silver bangles, running about amid groups of
women in painted _battek_, with brown babies carried in the orange or
crimson folds of the _slandang_, pause before the doorways of woven
basket-work huts, or carry crates of yellow bananas and strings of
purple mangosteens, to supplement the "evening rice" of their frugal
meal. The Malay races have been called "the flower of the East," noted
for their soft voices and courteous manners in the days of old, but
European intercourse obliterates native characteristics, and the
inhabitant of the sea-coast, or of the larger towns, unpleasantly
imitates the brusquerie of his Dutch masters, and even exaggerates it.
The Soendanese of the Preanger hills, less in contact with the external
world, retains traces of life's ancient simplicity, and though a keen
intelligence forms no part of his mental equipment, his desire to
please and satisfy his employer is of pathetic intensity.

The Governor-General of Java, whose stipend is of double the amount
received by the American President, owns a country palace at
Sindanglaya, in addition to the splendid official residences at Batavia
and Buitenzorg. A lovely walk leads from this flower-girt mansion to a
pavilion on the Kasoer hill, commanding a prospect of four mountain
ranges, outlined in tender hues of lavender and turquoise against the
cobalt sky. In the foreground stretches a fertile plain, with bamboo
and sugar-cane varying the eternal rice in brilliant shades of green
and gold, always decorative, from the first emerald blade to the
amber-tinted straw, for the sacred grain possesses a beauty far
exceeding that of wheat, barley, or rye.

Undulating lines and ascending terraces break the uniformity of the
lovely plains with the fascination of weird contour and fanciful
design, intricate as the pattern traced on the native _sarong_. The
rice-culture of these fields and valleys is a perfect survival of the
primeval system, unchanged since the days when "the gift of the gods"
was first bestowed on primitive man in this land of plenty. The
peasant, toiling in the flooded _sawas_, and occupied from seedtime to
harvest in the arduous labour demanded by the rice-field, combines with
his agricultural work the idea of a sacred duty to the divinities who
gave him the staple commodity whereon his life mainly depends. Cocoanut
and sugar-cane, maize and tapioca, banana and cassava, supplement the
rice, but it ranks above all other products of the teeming soil, for
sacramental efficacy and supernatural origin have hallowed the "grain
of heaven" from the very dawn of history, and the hereditary belief in
the efficacy of the sacred crop still remains mystically rooted in the
sub-consciousness of the Malay race.



GAROET AND HER VOLCANO.


The occasional drawback of weeping skies is counterbalanced by the
gorgeous vegetation only seen to perfection in the rainy season, and
that clouds should sometimes veil the burning blue to mitigate
Equatorial sunshine proves a source of satisfaction to those who fail
to appreciate the Rip Van Winkle life of womankind in Java. The journey
to Garoet supplies a succession of vivid pictures, illustrating the
individuality of the insular scenery. The weird outlines of volcanic
ranges, shading from palest azure to deepest plum-colour, the dreamlike
beauty of Elysian plains, and the stately palm-forests extending league
upon league, with mighty vans clashing in the mountain breeze, assume
magical charm as we penetrate into the heart of the alluring land. Two
pyramidal peaks, Haroeman and Kaleidon, rise sheer from the fair plain
of Lelés in colossal stairways of green rice-terraces. Knots of palm
shelter innumerable villages which dot the mountain flanks, the woven
huts fragile as houses of cards, but built up on identical sites
through countless ages, recorded in perennial characters of living
green on these twin trophies of primitive agriculture. Many travellers
have commented on the strange undertone of music, echoing from a
thousand silvery rills and tiny cascades, which follow the verdant
lines of terrace or parapet, and make the shimmering air vocal with
melody, like the distant song of surf on a coral reef. Variety of form
belongs to all Javanese agriculture as the result of handicraft, for
the peasant unconsciously puts his own personality into his toil. The
exquisite tints of the rice in different stages of growth display a
translucence indescribable except in terms of light and fire. The amber
gleam of young shoots, the green flames of the springing crop, the
pulsating emerald of later growth, and the golden sheen of ripened
ears, invest the "gift of the gods" with unearthly radiance. The
Eastern mind has ever responded to Nature's touch, for the great Mother
whispers her closest secrets to simple hearts, and science now realises
that civilisation has broken many of the subtle links which in earlier
days were mystic bonds of union between man and the universe.

Malay idiosyncracy evidences the survival of many primal influences
forgotten or denied by races of higher type and deeper culture. Very
little is known concerning the Malayan people who mingled with almost
every Oriental stock. Amphibious tastes suggest picturesque traditions
of prolonged voyaging in search of fresh fishing grounds to supply the
needs of a rapidly multiplying population. A strong Malay element
exists even in far-off Japan, and the wide ramifications of the nomadic
stock can be traced to broad rivers encountered on the southward
journey, and luring stragglers from the main body by the mysterious
glamour of winding water-ways piercing the tangled forests, and
pointing to unknown realms of hope or promise. The Malay retains many
of the hereditary gifts bestowed on the untaught children of Nature,
and, in spreading his language and customs far over the vast Pacific,
adopted few extraneous ideas from the world through which he wandered.
His primeval instincts still sway his life under other conditions.
Marvellous skill in hunting, fishing, boat-building, and navigation in
tornado-swept waters, remains to him. The deft weaving of palm-leaf hut
and wall of defence creates a village or destroys it at lightning
speed. Even now his basket-work home is never built on dry land, if
water can be found wherein to plant the supporting poles of the fragile
dwellings, suggesting the impermanence of a nomadic race. The Malay
never travels on foot to any place which can possibly be reached by
water, his native element; winds and tides have imbued him with
something of their own unstable and changing character, and the sea
which nurtured him is still the supreme factor in his life. Feet vie
with fingers in marvellous capacity, and to see a native cocoanut
gatherer run up the polished stem of a swaying palm, with greater ease
and swiftness than anyone shows in mounting a ladder, transports
thought to the distant past, when the ancestral stock, disembarking
from the rude canoes at nightfall, sought an evening meal on the edge
of the palm-forest, bowed beneath the weight of green and yellow nuts a
hundred feet overhead. What wonder if in lands of perpetual summer the
syren song of some "long bright river" should lure the storm-tossed
mariners from the perilous seas to the comparative security of inland
life! The stern environment of Northern poverty stands out in terrible
contrast with the teeming prodigality of tropical Nature, offering all
the richest fruits of earth in full measure to these early wanderers
across the Southern seas.

The mountain railway, curving round ridge or precipice and spanning
sombre gorge with bridge and aqueduct, affords superb views of the
unrivalled plains. Waterfalls foam over granite cliffs; a sinuous river
flings a silver chain round the symmetrical base of Kaleidon, and from
our lofty vantage point we gaze into the luminous green of a million
palms, where the warm heart of a deep forest opens to display the
lustre and colour of molten emeralds. The Soendanese quarter of the
island gives place to the ancient Javanese territory, and Malay
characteristics, though underlying and mingling with every insular
stock, are here modified by a strain of Hindu ancestry, which gives
refinement of feature and grace of carriage. Well-modelled figures and
delicate hands and feet are attributed to the liberal admixture of
royal and noble blood with that of the peasantry, for the ancient
Rulers of Java respected no rights but their own, and the domestic
arrangements of King Solomon prevailed in a kingdom of tyrants and
slaves. Hindu thraldom was intensified under Arab priests, who,
following in the train of piratical Moormen, claimed the sovereignty of
Java under their protection. The gold-embroidered jacket of civil or
military rank, with the _kris_ thrust into a brilliant sash, here
supplements the universal _sarong_, itself of bolder design and glowing
colour in this old-world realm of Mataram, the centre of Java's
historic interest. The crooked blade of the _kris_ is still used in
divination, light and shadow playing over the wavy steel, ever
suggesting cabalistic signs inscribed by an invisible hand on the azure
surface. The _kris_ is popularly endowed with healing efficacy, and the
availing touch of the sacred talisman is an article of Javanese faith.
A hundred varieties of the weapon are found in the Malay Archipelago,
from the gold-hilted and diamond-studded royal _kris_ to the
boat-handled dagger of common use, permitted to all but peasants;
women of the higher class wear it in the girdle, and though
unrepresented in the sculpture of Javanese temples, the _kris_ is
ascribed to the days of Panji, a Hindu warrior whose feats form the
libretto of a popular drama, though his authenticity appears uncertain.
The changes in local costume and character, as seen in wayside
villages, enliven the journey until we reach the mountain gateway of
Tjadas Pangeran, "the Royal Stone," flanked by flashing waterfalls, and
forming the entrance to the region supreme in natural scenery, archaic
art, and literary interest. The black cone of Goentoer, "the thunder
peak," accentuates the red blaze of the declining sun on the intricate
rice-mosaic of green and gold in the divinely beautiful plain revealed
through the rocky cleft. Amid the many glories of Javanese landscape,
the poetic glamour of these palm-girt levels lingers longest in the
memory, for the world-famed picture known as "The Plains of Heaven"
might have been inspired by the haunting loveliness of these rolling
uplands. Our railway carriage contains a native Regent, his principal
wife, and a pretty daughter. Javanese princes are made ostensible
rulers of native districts, but associated with Dutch Residents as
"Elder Brothers," who may be more accurately termed compulsory
advisers. Without a measure of despotic authority exercised by the
fraternal partner, the spendthrift Malay would cause perpetual
hindrance to insular development and commercial prosperity. The old
Regent, with embroidered military jacket glittering above his
elaborately-patterned _sarong_, looks a grim and forbidding figure, and
evidently regards his womenkind as beneath notice. His head is tied up
in a black kerchief, and a brilliant Order conferred by the Queen of
Holland adorns his breast. Madame, in magenta shawl and purple gown,
travesties European costume. Diamonds blaze incongruously on arms and
neck, a scarlet flower in oily black braids completing her startling
attire. The girl, in yellow _sarong_ and pink cotton jacket glorified
with rubies and pearls, shows her high breeding in slender wrists,
delicate hands, and bare feet of exquisite modelling, a red stain of
henna drawing attention to their statuesque contour. She staggers
beneath a load of impedimenta belonging to her princely father: bags,
bundles, and a heavy cloak. Javanese parents of exalted rank treat
their daughters with disdain, the approved discipline of family life
consisting in stamping an impression of abject insignificance deeply on
the plastic mind of girlhood. Fertile plain and wooded slopes are alike
destitute of domestic animals. The sheep was unknown to native races in
this pastureless land, and, though introduced by the earliest
colonists, is still spoken of as "the Dutch goat," no other term
existing for it in Malay parlance. Monkeys chatter and rustle in
forest trees, gorgeous birds flit past on jewelled wings, and frogs in
this rainy season make a deep booming like the tuning of numerous
violoncellos. At length the little town of Garoet appears in a green
valley, encircled by a diadem of peaks which suggest a tropical
Engadine. Volcanic mountains replace Alpine crests, but the white
battlements of Papandayang's smoking crater give the effect of distant
snow, and the dark pines of the Swiss valley are merely translated into
the lustrous green of crowding palms. Brawling river, rustic bridge,
and brown hamlets foster the strange illusion, and if it be true that
somewhere in the wide world every face finds a counterpart, natural
scenery may be subject to an identical law, and various ice-bound
landscapes be mirrored under Southern skies in pictures wreathed with
palm-fronds and tropic flowers. The Hotel Rupert, garlanded with
creepers, the open lattices trellised with ivy and roses, shows a more
poetic aspect than any hostelry of the distant Engadine. Our hostess is
the widow of a German physician, and her fair young daughter, alert and
capable as the typical _Hausfrau_ of her native land, has established a
reputation for supplying the guests with the home comforts and restful
atmosphere which make the Hotel Rupert an ideal abiding-place in
stagnant Java, where as a rule the sole luxuries are out-of-doors, and
of Nature's providing. That the Dutchman flourishes on his diet of
tinned meat, his appalling rice-table, and the extraordinary sequence
of dishes which probably belonged to the early days of colonisation,
either proves herculean strength or the triumph of mind over matter,
but to those of less heroic mould the unwonted amenities of a more
familiar civilisation are welcome as a green oasis in a sandy desert. A
cool and healthy mountain climate gives unwonted zest for the lovely
excursions of which Garoet is the centre. From the little lake Setoe
Bajendit, a covered raft plies to a cupola-crowned hill, facing a noble
panorama of volcanic peaks the Soendanese _désa_ of basket-work huts,
through which we pass, presents a curious spectacle, with the village
street lined on either side by rows of kneeling children, clad in Dame
Nature's brown suit alone; each little figure holding up a long-stemmed
flower--red hybiscus, creamy tuberose, or snowy gardenia--the imploring
faces raised in silent entreaty to the white strangers for the
infinitesimal coins which suffice to purchase a sheaf of blossom.
Changing lights and shadows sweep across the glancing emerald of the
rice-filled vale, darken the purple rifts of mountain gorges, or
intensify the luminous azure of soaring crests. Wayside fruit-stalls
make gay patches of colour among green piles of banana leaves, and thin
yellow strips of bamboo, the approved paper and string of the tropics,
in which every parcel is packed. Tall sugar-cane and plumy maize
surround each brown _désa_ beneath the knot of palms, and fields of
tapioca vary the prevailing rice-grounds with sharp-pointed leaves and
paler verdure. The entire tapioca crop of Java belongs to Huntley and
Palmer, for use in the manufacture of the biscuits which make a
valuable supplement to the Javanese commissariat, for unlimited rice
seldom commends itself to English tastes. Hot springs abound in this
volcanic soil, and in the "five waters" of Tjipanas, each of different
temperature, the native finds a panacea wherein he can indulge to his
heart's content, the healing springs rushing into stone tanks set in
sheds of bamboo. The principal excursion from Garoet is to the active
crater of the Papandayang, a long drive of twelve miles leading to the
foot of the volcano. From this point a chair carried by six coolies is
required for the steep road, formed by hundreds of moss-grown steps.
Plantations of coffee, cinchona, and tapioca girdle the lower slopes of
the mountain, hedges and thickets of red and purple coleas bordering
the primeval jungle of orchid-decked trees on the higher levels, the
moss-grown boughs wreathed with epiphytal plants, the trunks covered
with branching ferns, and the thick ropes of matted lianas strangling
the dense forest in their green embrace. Wild oleander mingles rosy
blossoms with bushes of living gold like tall growths of double
buttercups, and at length the cooler regions show the familiar ferns,
violets, and primroses of the temperate zone. The weird silence of the
jungle is emphasised by an occasional cry of a wild bird, flitting
among the tall tree tops, or the crash of a bough, dragged down by the
weight of some climbing rattan. A walk up a boulder-strewn slope
reaches the old crater, or Solfatara, almost surrounded by steep walls
of rock. Boiling and wheezing springs, fast-forming sulphur columns,
and clouds of choking steam, rise from the yellow and orange-powdered
earth. A deafening noise issues from the self-building architecture of
ruddy pillars, the bubbling of boiling mud, and the shrill spouting of
hot vapours from narrow orifices in the trembling crust of the
fire-charged earth. Golden sulphur-pools shower burning drops on every
side, and from the mysterious _kawa_ or crater, echoes of subterranean
thunder sound at intervals, from the traditional forge where native
legends assert that a chained giant is condemned to work eternally in
the service of the Evil One.

At night the broad verandah of the Hotel Rupert is transformed into a
stage for a performance of the _topeng_ or national drama, chartered by
an American guest. The weird spectacle, accompanied by the _gamelon_
music, transports us to the days of old-world Java, story and
performance being of ancient origin and religious signification. The
subjects of the _topeng_ are derived from the Panji group of dramatic
poems, the ancient costumes, the curious masks, and the office of the
_dalang_ or reciter, whose ventriloquial skill is required for the
entire wording of the _libretto_, comprise a valuable memento of bygone
days, otherwise entirely forgotten. The _wayang-wayang_ or "shadow
dance" of puppets, vies with the _topeng_ in popularity, but the latter
ranks as classic and lyrical drama. A graceful girl in pink, with
floating scarf, and gleaming _kris_ in her spangled sash, exhibits
wonderful skill in the supple play of wrist and fingers, through the
process known as devitalization, a form of drill which gives to the arm
a plastic power of detached movement, fascinating but uncanny. The
dusky garden is filled with a native crowd, moved alternately to tears
and laughter by exploits unintelligible to the European spectator, for
the story of every national hero is known to the poorest and most
ignorant of the people, from perpetual attendance on theatrical
performances. The _al fresco_ entertainments necessitated by the
climate provide exceptional opportunities of dramatic education in the
legends of Java's heroic age. The spacious verandahs gleaming with the
soft light of Chinese lanterns, and set in depths of shadow, the
scented gloom of the tropical night veiling the dusky lawns, crowded
with mysterious figures drawn by the weird music from every quarter,
the brilliant robes and grotesque masks of the actors, compose a
picture of archaic charm. Passers-by pause on their way to look, and
listen with unwearied interest to the oft-told tales, for the stories
of the world's childhood, like the fairy lore of our own early days,
deepen their significance to the untaught mind by perpetual repetition.
The Hindu cloudland which veils the Javanese past "was reached by a
ladder of realities," for the exploits of gods and mythical heroes were
afterwards attributed to native Rulers, until the medley of truth and
fiction, history and mythology, became an inextricable tangle. The
birds' beaks, and hooked noses of the masks in the _topeng_, and of the
puppets in the shadow-play, were made compulsory after the Arabic
conquest, in order to reconcile the national pastime with the creed of
Islam, which forbade the dramatic representation of the human form. The
reigning _Susunhan_ evaded the decree by distorting mask and puppet,
but although the outside world might no longer recognise the heroes of
the play, Javanese knowledge of national tradition easily pierced the
flimsy disguise, and credited their deified heroes with a new power of
metamorphosis. The fantastic play lasts so far into the night that the
prolonged _libretto_ is brought to a summary conclusion by the hostess,
since European nature can stand no more, though the rapt attention of
the Malay would continue till morning. The satiety of modern days has
never touched these simple minds, and an entire absence of that
critical element which disintegrates so many of life's simple joys,
ministers to the supreme satisfaction derived from the crude ideals of
native drama. Silently the brown spectators slip away like shadows from
the dim and dewy garden, for the simple and untaught Malay, though
eagerly welcoming the privileges permitted to him, never encroaches
upon them, and the conduct of these Eastern playgoers affords an
example of order and sobriety which shames many an audience of higher
education and social superiority in distant Europe.



DJOKJACARTA.


A long day's journey lies between Garoet and Djokjacarta, which popular
parlance abbreviates into Djokja. From the blue Preanger hills and
palm-shadowed upland plains, the railway descends by steep gradients to
the dense jungle and fever-laden swamp known as the Terra Ingrata.
Malarious mists steam from marsh and mere, pink and purple lantana,
yellow daisies, and the pallid blossoms of strangling creepers
emphasise the gloom of the matted foliage, forming an impenetrable
screen on either side of the narrow embankment across the dreary
morass. The railway through the hundred miles of this miasma-haunted
region was laid at immense sacrifice of human life, even the native
workmen being compelled to sleep in camps far away from the scene of
their daily toil. No white man could even direct the work, and the
ubiquitous Chinaman, proof against every ill that flesh is heir to in
Java, was deputed to superintend the solution of abstruse professional
problems, between the short and hasty visits of Dutch and English
engineers. Quagmire and quicksand, stagnant pool and sluggish stream,
succeed in weary iteration. Bleached skeletons of dead trees writhe in
weird contortions against the dark background of jungle, as though some
wizard's curse had blighted life and growth amid the rank vegetation
rising from this dismal Slough of Despond. The brooding melancholy of
atmosphere and scenery penetrates mind and soul, oppressed by an
intangible weight, and escape from the Dantesque horrors of this _selva
oscura_ is accompanied by a sudden relief and buoyancy of spirit which
perceptibly heightens the interest of the old-world city, once isolated
by the woodland fastness of Nature, and belonging to an ageless past,
surrounding the authentic origin of Djokjacarta with thick clouds of
fable and myth. The modern name is derived from Arjudja, a city
recorded in Java's ancient annals as being established by Rama, the
incarnate Sun-God. Na-yud-ja, the first king of this Divinely-founded
capital, also memorialises in his name the place which became the
nucleus of the ancient Hindu empire. Temples and palaces, walls and
watch-towers, ruined by earthquake, buried in jungle, and blackened by
smoke of war, testify to the splendours of old Mataram. A bitter
resistance was offered by the invading hordes of Islam, whether pirates
or prophets, princes or soldiers, and the Hindu territory remained
independent until the fierce conflict in the 18th century with
usurping Mohammedans and Dutch colonists, when family influence was
undermined by political intrigues. The Dutch, after many vicissitudes,
became absolute rulers of Java, though native princes, as tributaries,
were suffered to retain a semblance of sovereignty. The shadowy
paraphernalia of vanished power is still accorded to the Sultan of
Djokjacarta, in melancholy travesty of past authority, though every
hereditary privilege has been wrested from his grasp. A curious relic
of primitive days remains in the _al fresco_ Throne of Judgment, a
block of stone beneath a rudely-tiled canopy, moss-grown and hoary. Two
ancient waringen-trees, their aerial roots, drooping branches, and
colossal main trunks denoting an almost fabulous age, flank the
historic seat, where the turbaned Ruler administered justice to the
surging crowd which thronged around him, the indigo garb of the
Soendanese contrasting with the gay _sarongs_ of Central Java, glowing
in the hot sunlight as it poured through the dark trellis of fluttering
boughs. The city in the course of ages moved away from this ancient
centre, and the rustic Throne is now remote from the heart of civic
life. The streets of Djokjacarta, and the surrounding roads, consist of
shady avenues, where open _tokos_ (the native shops) vary the monotony
of Dutch villas, their white colonnades and porticos gleaming against
the background of stately trees, and rising from a mass of tropical
vegetation. The prevailing indigo of Soendanese dress gives a dull
aspect to the wide but squalid streets, for in native capitals, though
Dutch cleanliness may enforce perpetual "tidying up," the lacking sense
of order produces a strange impermanence in the conditions insisted
upon. The inner court of the Sultan's Kraton, or Royal Enclosure, is
now taboo to visitors, for the barbaric monarch, on the plea of age and
infirmity, has obtained the privilege of privacy, and the Palace can
only be seen through a personal interview. The outer courts are
accessible to carriages, which make the square-mile circuit of the
spacious quadrangles. Massive gates and crumbling machicolated walls
command a green plain, where immense waringen-trees, clipped into the
semblance of evergreen umbrellas, display the Eastern symbol of
sovereignty. Officials passing to and fro show a continuous procession
of these State _pajongs_. The Sultan's august head is canopied with
gold, edged by an orange stripe, the Crown Prince sporting an umbrella
with a golden border. Sultanas and royal children are known by white
_pajongs_, while the vast concourse of Court officials, with umbrellas
of pink, blue, red, black, purple and green, show their status to the
initiated eye through the sequence of colour by which the _pajongs_
form a complete system of heraldry. In the dusky angle of a mossy wall,
four elephants, used in State processions, feed upon bundles of bamboo
and sugar-cane. Mud huts and bamboo sheds prop themselves against tiled
eaves and windowless houses. Open doors afford glimpses of squalid
interiors, crowded with slatternly women and dirty children, the
hereditary retainers and hangers-on of this effete and moribund
royalty. Private troupes of dancing _bedayas_, _gamelon_ players,
actors, pipe, fan, and betel-box bearers, pertain to the tumbledown
Palace, and the patriarchal system of ancient Java permits the presence
of whole families belonging to these indispensable ministers of the
royal pleasure. The people show the same indifference to Mohammedanism
as to the perished faiths of olden time, and a large funeral party
encountered on leaving the Kraton displays painful irreverence, though
scattering rice and lighting incense sticks before a white coffin borne
shoulder-high, and decked with a tracery of yellow marigolds and
rosettes of pink paper. No priest accompanies the procession, and the
laughter of the white-scarved mourners, preceded by men carrying ropes
and planks, suggests an utter heartlessness and barbarity. Gay
_passers_, a busy _campong Tchina_, a very hive of Celestial industry,
and innumerable drives beneath over-arching trees, with distant views
of purple peaks, comprise the interests of old-world Djokja, with the
one exception of the famous Taman Sarie, or Water Castle, ruined by
earthquake, but remaining as a pathetic memorial of bygone power and
pride. Pavilions and baths, grottoes and fish-ponds, set in the tangled
verdure of a neglected garden, surround the arcaded parapets of a
colossal tower. Green plumes of fern wave from wall and battlement,
velvet moss and orange lichen tapestry the blackened stone, and matted
creepers sway their woven curtains in the evening wind. A Dancing Hall,
which formerly rang with the weird music accompanying the "woven paces
and waving hands" of Court _bedayas_, in their spangled pink robes, now
echoes to the tread of alien feet; the dim arcades teem with ghostly
memories, and the mournful desolation of the Taman Sarie borrows fresh
poignancy in the former scene of mirth and music. A moss-grown and
slippery stairway leads to the green twilight of a subterranean grotto,
containing the richly-carved stone bedstead of the Sultan, who sought
this cool retreat from the ardour of a tropical sun. A silvery curtain
of murmuring water fell before his sculptured couch, and supplied this
haunt of dreams with an ideal, if rheumatic environment of poetic
beauty and lulling charm. Superstition clings to the deserted
resting-place, and to touch even the stone columns of the royal couch
is to invoke the powers of evil, and the presence of Death. The _Sumoor
Gamelon_, or "Musical Spring," echoing with the voice of flowing
waters, flanks the ancient banqueting hall, and cools a circle of
vaulted grottoes, their shadowy depths bathed in the emerald twilight,
deepened by the veil of verdure and the transparent foliage drooping
over open window spaces. The Sultan's oval bathing tank, with stone
galleries and spiral pavilions, occupies a hollow tower, but a touch of
young life dispels the gloom, for a group of brown children swim and
dive in the cool depths, shouting and splashing with a merriment
unsubdued by the solemn sadness of the deserted halls. A Portuguese
architect designed this fantastic retreat for an old-time Sultan, who
brought the idea of the Water Castle from a far-off Indian home. The
earthquake of 1867 rendered the Taman Sarie uninhabitable, choked the
lake in which it stood, and destroyed the subaqueous tunnel which
ensured the absolute seclusion of Sultan and harem. The famous Marshal
Daendels, weary of waiting for an interview with a dilatory Sultan,
yielded to natural impatience, and hearing the sound of distant music
from the watery depths, dashed through the thicket of tamarinds which
concealed the entrance to the water pavilion, and, dragging the Sultan
from the place of dreams, scattered _bedayas_ and _gamelon_ players in
terror, forcing the so-called "Regent of the World" and "Shadow of the
Almighty" to accompany him to the Dutch headquarters. Rose garden and
shrubbery, palm grove and pleasaunce, are fast relapsing into
impenetrable jungle. Broken fountains, and mouldering vases once
filled with orange-trees, outline the balustraded terraces; gilt
pavilions lift their upcurved eaves above a wild growth of oleander,
but the enchanted scene of old romance is given up to bats and lizards,
for the crumbling Taman Sarie is now a fast-vanishing monument of
Java's buried past.

The number of _rechas_, or sacred stone figures of Brahmin and Buddhist
origin, in the garden of the Dutch Residency, shows the scant care
bestowed on the ancient temples, for years used as mere quarries of
broken statuary, and still receiving inadequate recognition as
historical remains, though Sir Stamford Raffles a century ago realised
the supreme importance of Javanese sculpture as an indispensable link
in archæological science. Djokjacarta, interesting in itself as the
survival of an ancient dynasty, borrows double attraction from the
architectural wonders which surround it, buried for ages in the deep
green grave of tropical vegetation, but now laid bare as an open book,
wherein we may read those graven records which unveil the mysteries of
the past, and enable us to gaze down the long vista of Time and Change.



BORO-BOEDOER.


The archæological interest of Java culminates in the mysterious temple
known as Boro-Boedoer, "the aged thing," with an actual history lost in
mist and shadow, though recorded in imperishable characters on this
spellbound sanctuary of a departed faith. The little tramway from
Djokjacarta traverses fields of rice and sugar-cane, indigo and pepper;
a range of dreamlike mountains bounds the view, crowned by the
turquoise cone of Soemboeung, the traditional centre of Java, a green
knoll at the base of the volcanic pyramid being regarded as the "spike"
which fastens the floating isle to some solid rock in unfathomed depths
of ocean. The fitful fancy of a wandering race, ever drifting across
the changing seas, reflects itself in the legendary lore of the Malay
Archipelago, often represented by weird traditions as though in
perpetual motion. The vicissitudes of volcanic action, whereby islands
were sometimes submerged or created, gives a colouring of fact to the
vague ideas entertained by these nomads of the sea. Merbaboe, the
"ash-ejecting," and Merapi, the "fire-throwing," flank the loftier
crest, honeycombed with dim cave temples, now deserted and forgotten,
but formerly sanctifying those watch-towers of Nature which guard the
hoary shrine of Boro-Boedoer. At Matoelan we hear that the swift river
separating the great Temple from the secular world is in flood, the
bridge broken down, and the supplementary raft impossible through the
swirling current. This untoward event involves a further expedition to
Magelang, a sordid town of continuous markets, the Javanese population
being of pronounced Hindu type, silent and sad, according to the
idiosyncracy of their mysterious ancestors across the sea. The
conversational difficulties presented by the Dutch and Malay languages,
combined with the incapacity of our brown driver, eventually land us at
Mendoet, on the wrong side of the turbid stream--the Jordan which
divides the weary traveller from his Land of Promise. Evening draws on,
the clear sky flushes pink above the darkness of the palm-woods, and
hope sinks apace, for the surging flood shows no sign of abatement.
Suddenly the apathetic driver rouses himself from what proves a
profitable meditation, and, with folded hands, breathes the magic word
_pasteur_, whipping up his sorry steeds to fresh exertions. We draw up
at a white bungalow on the roadside, close to a rustic church, and find
a friend in an English-speaking Dutch priest, who, after giving us tea
on his verandah, suggests inspection of Mendoet's little moated
temple, on the edge of the forest. An ever-growing tangle of lianas and
vines buried this ancient shrine through the lapse of ages, until
accident revealed the entombed sanctuary about eighty years ago. A
processional terrace surrounds the walled pavement supporting the grey
edifice, and the sculptured bas-reliefs denote the transitional stage
of Buddhist faith, as it materialised through Jainism into the Puranic
mythology of Hindu creed. The central chapel contains the famous
picture in stone known as "The Tree of Knowledge," and represents the
Buddha beneath the sacred Bo-Tree of Gaya. A fluted _pajong_, propped
against the boughs, canopies his head, one hand being raised in
benediction over kneeling converts, offering rice and incense.
Listening angels hover overhead, birds peep out from nests among the
leaves, and kids lean with necks outstretched over fretted crags,
magnetised by the mystic attraction of the inspired Teacher. Long-eared
statues show Nepalese influence, even the Buddhist images being girt
with the sacred cord of Brahma. A controversy exists as to their
identification with the Hindu Trinity, but as Eastern cults frequently
bestow Divine attributes on mortals, the mysterious figures may
possibly represent the murdered wives of the Rajah who founded the
Mendoet temple in expiation of his crime. Another legend suggests the
petrification of a princely family, as a punishment for marrying
within the forbidden degrees, but myth grows apace in this haunted
land, and every century offers fresh variations of old-world stories,
until original form is lost beneath a weight of accretion, like the
thick moss blurring the chiselled outlines of some carven monument.
After careful scrutiny of the miniature temple which suggests so many
interpretations of symbolic imagery, we return to the little presbytery
to hear of the subsiding river, and the good priest, announcing that
the raft can now be safely negotiated, accompanies us to the tottering
structure, a straw matting laid over three crazy boats punted across
the turbulent stream. A half-hour's stroll beneath the arching boughs
of a kanari avenue, ends at a picturesque Rest House, facing the
temple-crowned hill. Surely we have reached the peace and silence of
Nirvana at last! and the exquisite beauty of the surrounding landscape,
mountain and forest, park-like valley and winding glen, transfigured in
the deepening gold of sunset, stamps an ineffaceable impression of
Boro-Boedoer in that mystic gallery of imagination and memory which
retains earth's fairest scenes as eternal possessions of mind and soul.
A shadowy garden, fragrant and dim, stretches up to the pyramidal pile
which covers the hill. A frangipanni grove scents the air, with
gold-starred blossoms gleaming whitely amid the silvery green of
lanceolated leaves, and a shaft of ruby light striking the stone
Buddhas which guard the portico, emphasises the inscrutable smile of
the tranquil faces. Like all stupendous monuments of Art or Nature,
Boro-Boedoer at first sight seems a disappointment, simply because the
mind fails to grasp the immensity of the noblest Temple ever dedicated
to the gentle Sage whose renunciation typified the greater Sacrifice
offered by the Saviour of the World. Who that reads the story of Sakya
Munyi can doubt that through the Prince who gave up kingdom, throne,
and earthly ties for the sake of downtrodden humanity, a prophetic
gleam of heavenly light pierced the darkness of the future, and pointed
to the distant Cross? Twenty-five centuries have rolled away since
Prince Siddartha closed his unique career, and twelve centuries later
the wondrous sanctuary of Boro-Boedoer was erected in honour of the
creed eternally dear to the heart of the mystic East. The eight stately
terraces which climb and encircle the sacred hill rise from a spacious
pavement of blackened stone, and the walled processional paths display
a superb series of sculptured reliefs, which would measure three miles
in length if placed side by side. The grey and black ruins, with their
rich incrustations of sacred and historic scenes, remain in such
splendid preservation that fancy easily reconstructs the bygone glory
of the golden age, when this mighty Altar of Faith witnessed the
glittering pageantry of Oriental devotion; when gaily-clad crowds
flocked to the morning sacrifice of flowers and music, while monarchs
brought their treasures from far-off lands to lay at the feet of the
mystic Sage, prophetically revealed as an incarnation of purity and
peace vouchsafed to a world of oppression and sorrow. Life-size
Buddhas, enthroned on the sacred lotus, rise above the crumbling altars
of five hundred arcaded shrines, and stone stairways ascend from every
side, beneath sharply-curved arches bordered with masks or gargoyles.
The last three terraces form sweeping circles, flanked by bell-shaped
_dagobas_ resembling gigantic lotus-buds. Each open lattice of hoary
stone reveals an enthroned Buddha, mysteriously enclosed in his
symbolical screen, for these triple terraces typify the higher circles
of Nirvana. Each dreamy face turns towards the supreme Shrine of the
glorious sanctuary, a domed _dagoba_ fifty feet high, and once
containing some authentic relic of the Buddha's sacred person. Certain
archæologists recognise in this spire-tipped cupola a survival of
Nature-worship, incorporated with the later Buddhism in a form derived
from the tree temples of primeval days, and built over a receptacle for
the cremated ashes of the Buddhist priesthood. A touch of mysticism
added by an unfinished statue in the gloom of the shadowy vault,
suggests the unknown beauty of the soul which attains Nirvana's
supremest height, for the supernal exaltation of purified humanity to
Divine union may not be interpreted or expressed by mortal hands, but
must for ever remain incommunicable and incomprehensible. From the
central _dagoba_, ascended by a winding stair, the intricate design of
the spacious sanctuary discloses itself with mathematical precision,
and the changing glories of dawn, sunset, and moonlight idealize the
sacred hill, rising amid the palm-groves and rice-fields of a matchless
valley, sweeping away in green undulations which break like emerald
waves against the deepening azure and amethyst of the mountain heights.
The solemn grandeur of Boro-Boedoer blinds the casual observer to many
details which manifest the ravages of time, the ruthlessness of war,
and the decay of a discarded creed. Headless and overthrown figures,
broken _tees_, mutilated carvings, and shattered chapels abound, but
the vast display of architectural features still intact conveys an
impression of permanence rather than of ruin.

For six centuries, Boro-Boedoer was blotted from the memory of the
people, and the heavy pall of tropical verdure which veiled the vast
Temple remained unlifted. Superincumbent masses of trees, parasites,
and strangling creepers wove their intricate network of root, branch,
and stem round the monumental record of a dead faith and a buried
dynasty. The riotous luxuriance of tropical Nature triumphed over the
glories of Art, hewn with incalculable toil and skill in the living
rock. Seeds borne on the wind, or sown by wandering birds, filled
every interstice of the closely-matted verdure; stair and terrace, dome
and spire, sank out of sight into the forest depths, and when English
engineers arrived to excavate the monumental pile, the task of clearing
away the tangled masses of foliage occupied two hundred coolies during
six weeks of arduous toil. The brief English occupation of the island
necessarily left the work unfinished, but Dutch archæologists continued
the labour, though with slower methods and feebler grasp of the
situation. A transient cult sprang up among the Javanese populace as
the ancient sanctuary revealed itself anew. The statues were invoked
with reverential awe, incense was offered; the saffron, used as a
personal decoration on festive occasions, was smeared over the
impassive faces, unchanged in the eternal calm of a thousand years, and
fragrant flower petals were heaped on the myriad altars. Vigils were
kept on the summit, and the sick were laid at the feet of favourite
images. This spurious devotion, hereditary or instinctive, sprang up in
responsive hearts with simultaneous fervour, though the forgotten
doctrines of Buddhism were never reinstated. Sentiment survived dogma
in the subconscious soul, and the faint shadow cast by an immemorial
past indicates the depths plumbed by the early creed in the abyss of
Eastern personality. The vague simulacrum quickly faded, like a
flickering flame in the wind which fanned it into life; but simple
souls, as they pass Boro-Boedoer in the brief twilight, mutter
incantations, and brown hands grasp the silver amulets which ward off
the powers of evil, for the deserted temple is still regarded as the
haunt of unknown gods, who may perchance wreak vengeance on the world
which has forsaken them.

The long scroll of ancient history, unrolled by the sculptured
terraces, represents the birth, growth, and development of Buddhist
faith. Queen Maya, jewelled and flower-crowned, with the miraculous
Babe on her knee, sits among her maidens, the earth breaking into
blossom at the advent of her star-born child. His education in the
mental and physical achievements imperative on Eastern royalty, when
the sword-pierced heart of the mother who typified the Virgin Queen of
Saints was translated to Nirvana's rest, is contrasted with the sudden
realisation of life's vanity when brought face to face with the world's
threefold burden of sorrow, sickness and death. The renunciation of
power, wealth and love follows, liberating the soul for the pilgrimage
along the mystic "path," pursued until "the dew-drop fell into the
shining sea" of Eternity. The manifold details of the Buddha's
traditional career are vividly pourtrayed on the hoary walls of
volcanic trachyte in outline clear and sharp, as though the sculptors
of the eighth century had just laid down burin and chisel. The indented
leaves of the Bo-Tree, beneath which the Sage meditates, are so
exquisitely carved that they almost seem to flutter in the breeze. The
scene of the deer-park wherein he judges beasts and men, carefully
weighing the tiniest birds in the balance of the sanctuary, suggests a
prophetic vision of the greater Saviour, Who declared that even the
humble sparrow is remembered by the Creator. Countless scriptural
truths throw their anticipatory shadows across the life of the Eastern
mystic who approached so closely to the Christian ideal of a later age,
for the Buddha's spiritual experiences became the inspiration of
unnumbered hearts, and exercised a purifying influence over every creed
of the philosophic East. The social life of ancient Java, comprising
public ceremonials, domestic occupations, architecture, agriculture,
navigation, drama and music, is memorialised by succeeding terraces of
the igneous rock which sufficed for the old-world sculptor as the
medium of his Art. An unknown King and Queen, the traditional founders
of Boro-Boedoer, appear in varied guise, throned and crowned, walking
in religious processions beneath State _pajongs_, kneeling before
Buddha with open caskets of treasure, and receiving the homage of the
people, accompanied by bearers of smoking censers and waving fans.
Armed warriors guard the jewelled thrones, and the popular attitude in
every scene of the royal progress evidences the semi-sacred character
awarded to Indian sovereignty. The eighth century A.D. was the meridian
of the Javanese Empire, and in the subsequent changes of nationality
the facial type of the past has altered beyond recognition, for in the
ancient civilisation depicted on these sculptured terraces,
archæologists assert that every physiognomy is either of Hindu or
Hellenic character. Ships of archaic form, with banks of rowers;
palm-thatched huts built on piles, in the unchanging fashion of the
Malay races; graceful _bedayas_, the Nautch girls of Java, performing
the old-world dances still in vogue; and women with _lotahs_ on their
heads, passing in single file to palm-fringed tanks, might be
represented with equal truth in this twentieth century. Seedtime and
harvest, ploughing and reaping, bullock-carts and water-buffaloes,
fruit-laden wagons and village _passers_, pass in turn before the
spectator in this wondrous gallery of native art. Richly-caparisoned
elephants suggest Indian accessories of royal life and State
ceremonial, an occasional touch of humour enlivening the solemn
pageantry. In one grotesque relief a _bedaya_ and an elephant stand
_vis-a-vis_, the ponderous monster imitating the steps of the slim
maiden in floating veil and embroidered robes, her slender limbs
contrasting with the outflung feet of her clumsy partner. Weird myths
of the great fishes which guided and propelled the coracle-like boats
of the first Buddhist missionaries to the shores of Java are
perpetuated in stone, and the forest, sloping down to the wave-beaten
coast, shows the rich vegetation which still clothes this island of
eternal summer. The _sumboya_ or flower of the dead, droops over
stately tombs; bamboo and palm, banana and bread-fruit, mingle their
varied foliage; mangosteen and pomegranate, mango and tamarind, acacia
and peepul, show themselves as indigenous growths of the fertile soil;
while palace and temple, carven stairway, and flower-girt pavilion,
suggest the wealth and prosperity of the ancient empire. The mighty
Temple of Boro-Boedoer, built up through successive ages, indicates the
gradual change from the simplicity of the early faith, at first
supplanting, and eventually becoming incorporated with, the Brahminism
which succeeded it in modified form, as though rising from the ashes of
the earlier Hindu creed which Buddhism virtually destroyed. In the
higher terrace, the last addition to this stupendous sanctuary, the
images of Buddha represent the ninth _Avatar_ or Incarnation of the god
Vishnu, though he still sits upon the lotus cushion and holds the
sacred flower in one hand. This inclusion of Sakya Munyi within the
Puranic Pantheon was a masterly feat of strategy accomplished by
reviving Brahminism, the heresy of the Jains supplying the link between
the rival creeds. All the sculptured figures, leaning forward in
veneration of the mystic statue in the central cupola, are invested
with the sacred thread of the Vishnavite Brahmin. The images of the
highest circular terrace are carved in four symbolical attitudes. The
"teaching" Buddha rests an open palm on one knee; in the posture of
"learning" his hands are outstretched to receive the gift of knowledge.
In "exposition," one hand is raised towards Heaven, and in the act of
"demonstration," thumbs and index fingers are joined. Ferguson points
out that within the grey lattice of each lotus-bell _dagoba_, the right
palm of the enthroned Buddha curves over the left hand. This restful
posture indicates the state of final comprehension, when the aspiring
soul, raised to the different spheres of Nirvana by steps of ascending
sanctity, receives increasing peace and satisfaction from gradual
absorption into the Infinite. No creed passes unaltered through any
crucible of national thought; Indian Buddhism borrowed both form and
colour from races which, in accepting the new faith, retained their own
individuality and modes of assimilation. They gave as well as received,
and the value of the gift depended on the character of the giver.

No inscriptions exist on the stones of Boro-Boedoer. The sculptured
reliefs tell their own story, which admits of diverse interpretations.
The relics of the world-renowned Mystic were dispersed throughout Asia
in the sudden impulse of missionary enterprise three centuries after
his death, and every Buddhist temple received some infinitesimal
treasure. No record is found of the date when the precious relic,
probably a hair or an eyelash, was deposited in the great _dagoba_ of
Boro-Boedoer, but an Indian prince sailed with an imposing fleet to
found a Buddhist empire in Java at the opening of the 7th century A.D.,
and a subsequent inscription discovered on the coast of Sumatra
commemorates the completion of a seven-storeyed _Vihara_, evidently the
colossal Temple of Boro-Boedoer, by the contemporary King of "Greater
Java," the ancient name of Sumatra. In the tenth century, a reigning
monarch sent his sons to India for religious education. They brought
back in their train artists, sculptors, monks, priests, and the
gorgeous paraphernalia then used in the ceremonial of Buddhist worship,
but the heart of the ancient faith was atrophied by the indifference of
the people, and the zealous attempt to galvanise a moribund creed into
fresh life failed even to arrest the progress of decay. National
thought, fickle as the wind, had turned from an impersonal philosophy
to the materialistic cult of Hindu deities, as the Israelites of old
hankered after the visible symbol of Isis and Osiris in the Golden
Calf. No definite creed succeeded in gaining a permanent hold upon the
wandering minds and shallow feelings of a race whose deepest instincts
reveal the fleeting fancies and inconstant ideas indigenous to a
sea-faring stock, imbued with the spirit of change and unrest. A
magical charm broods over the mysterious Temple, the materialised dream
of a mighty past rescued from the sylvan sepulchre of equatorial
vegetation, and restored to a vivid reality beside which the paintings
of Egyptian tombs sink into comparative insignificance. The seclusion
of the memory-haunted pile enhances the thrill of an unique experience.
Vista after vista opens into the world of long ago so graphically
depicted on the monumental tablets of the processional paths, while
type and symbol point also to the infinite future intensely realised by
Eastern mysticism. Mortal life was but a fleeting mirage besides this
vision of the life beyond. For the words "_Shadow_, _Unreality_,
_Illusion_," perpetually repeated by the yellow-robed monks on the
beads of the Buddhist Rosary were inscribed on the inmost heart of the
faithful disciple, who strove to attain that detachment from the world
of sense inculcated by the creed expressed on the hoary stones of
Boro-Boedoer.



BRAMBANAM.


The ruined temples of Brambanam memorialise that phase of Java's
religious history, when the altars of Buddha were finally deserted, and
Hinduism became the paramount creed of the fickle populace. An
archæological report sent to Sir Stamford Raffles a century ago,
describes the remains of Brambanam as "stupendous monuments of the
science and taste belonging to a long-forgotten age, crowded together
in the former centre of Hindu faith." A rough country road leads from
the little white railway station, perched on a desolate plain, to these
far-famed temples. A brown village, shaded by the dark foliage of
colossal kanari-trees, shows the usual fragility of structure in
basket-work walls and roofs of plaited palm-leaves, but the humble
dwellings, destroyed and rebuilt myriad times on the ancient site of
Java's Hindu capital, have supplemented native workmanship by a
multitude of carven stones, broken statues, and moss-grown reliefs, for
the ruins, theoretically guarded from the spoiler's hand, are still
inadequately protected, and the grey _recha_ have been used as seats,
landmarks, or stepping-stones over muddy lane and brimming
water-course. The conversion of Java to the materialistic creed for
which she forsook the subtleties of an impersonal Buddhism, though
shallow was complete, and the doctrine of impermanence, inculcated by
the discarded faith, continued an essential factor in spiritual
development, for the inconstancy of the national mind only found a
temporary halting-place in each successive creed which arrested it. The
seed was sown, the bud opened, and the flower faded, with incredible
rapidity, but the growth while it lasted, showed phenomenal luxuriance.
The erection of these Hindu sanctuaries signalised the zenith of
Javanese power; their fame travelled across the seas, and numerous
expeditions sailed for this early El Dorado of the Southern ocean.
Kublai Khan came with his Mongol fleet, but was repulsed with loss, and
branded as a felon. A second and stronger attempt from the same quarter
met with absolute defeat. Marco Polo, compelled to wait through the
rainy season in Sumatra for a favourable wind, came hither in the palmy
days of mediæval Portugal, but returned discomfited. Goths from the
Northern bounds of Thuringian pine forests followed in their turn, but
the power and prestige of Hindu Java remained invincible until
destroyed by the wayward fickleness of her own children. Brahminism
was finally discarded for the specious promises of Arabian invaders,
and the lightly-held faith succumbed to the creed of Islam. Mosques
were built, Hindu temples were forsaken, and Nature's veil of
vegetation was once more suffered to hide altar and statue, wall and
stairway, until every sculptured shrine became a mere green mound of
waving trees, strangling creepers, and plumy ferns. The memory of the
past was entirely obliterated from the hearts of the people, and every
year buried the relics of the former religion in a deeper grave.

Siva the Destroyer, and also the Life-Giver, the Third Person of the
Hindu Trinity, together with Parvati and Brahma, were worshipped here
in their original character, and an exquisite statue of Lora Jonggran
(Parvati in her Javanese guise) remains enshrined in a richly-decorated
chapel, surrounded by dancing houris, inspired in their sacred measure
by the flute-playing of Krishna. A further instance of the mode already
mentioned by which sentiment survives dogma in the Malay races, is
shown by the fact that Lora Jonggran still receives the homage of
Javanese women. Flowers are laid at her feet, love affairs are confided
to her advocacy, and as the shadows deepen across the great quadrangle,
a weeping girl prostrates herself before the smiling goddess, and,
raising brown arms in earnest supplication, kisses the stone slab at
the feet of the beautiful statue, popularly endowed with some occult
virtue which the loosely-held Mohammedanism of a later day has failed
to discredit or deny. The temples of Brambanam were erected shortly
after the completion of that upper terrace in the great sanctuary of
Boro-Boedoer which marks the traditional epoch between Buddhism and the
later Hinduism, including Sakya Munyi among the _avatars_ of Vishnu.
The sacred trees and lions carved here on the walls of the temple
quadrangle, give place in the galleries to scenes from the great Hindu
epic of the Ramayan. The familiar form of Ganesh, the elephant-headed
God of Wisdom, looms from the shadows of a vaulted shrine; Nandi, the
sacred bull, stands beneath a carven canopy, and the great memorial of
a bygone faith contains the identical galaxy of gods found in the
Indian temples of the present day, for the thin veil of Javanese
thought is a transparency rather than a disguise, softening rather than
hiding the clear-cut outlines of the original idea. The "fatal beauty"
of the graceful waringen-tree has played an ominous part in the
destruction of the Brambanam temples, for the interlacing roots, like a
network of branching veins, make their devious way through crevice and
cranny, splitting and uplifting the strongest slab, wherein one tiny
crack suffices for the string-like fibres to gain foothold. Masks and
arabesques, fruit and flowers, fabulous monsters and sacred emblems,
encrust the grey balustrades and bas-reliefs of the noble stairways.
Roof and column teem with richest ornament, for Hindu art had reached
the climax of splendour when the great city, formerly surrounding the
monumental group of stately temples, attained to her utmost power and
fame. The Greek influences which prevailed in Northern Hindustan were
translated to Brambanam in their attributes of dignity and grace, for
the flowing robes and easy postures of the sculptured figures correct
and modify the grotesque and over-laden character of original Hindu
art. The great stone-paved court once contained an imposing group of
twenty pyramidal shrines, but only three remain in the original contour
of the so-called "pagoda style," peculiar to the Dravidian temples of
Southern India, from whence Java derived her special form of faith. The
ruins on the opposite side of the grey quadrangle are mere cone-shaped
piles of rubbish, dust, and broken stone, but the tapering pyramids,
with their graceful galleries and processional terraces, richly carved
and adorned with images, enable us to reconstruct in imagination the
stately beauty of the architectural panorama once displayed by the
temple courts. Scenes from the Ramayan and Mahabharata adorn the great
blocks of the boundary wall, sculptured in high relief. The Vedic
Powers of Nature, with Indra as the god of storm and hurricane,
manifest the recognition of that earlier belief which became submerged
in the vast system of Pantheistic mythology. The faith of further India
takes form and colour from the idiosyncracy of Java, and the goddess
Parvati, or Kali, worshipped under these different names according to
her attributes of glory or terror, becomes Lora Jonggran, the benignant
goddess of Java, popularly known as "the maiden of the beauteous form."
Four lofty stairways ascend to the hoary chapels within each sculptured
pyramid, every dusky vault containing the broken image of the tutelary
_Deva_.

Only separated from Brambanam by a winding path and a green belt of
jungle, stands the great Buddhist temple of Chandi Sewon, and the
colossal figures flanking the entrance gate indicate a decadent phase
of the ancient creed which Boro-Boedoer illustrates in the purity of
earlier developement. Chandi Sewon, the "thousand temples," includes in
the number myriad unimportant shrines, ruined, overthrown, or covered
with a green network of interlacing creepers. The great architectural
pile, built at a uniform level, surrounds the central sanctuary with
five great enclosures. All the ancient faiths of the world contain
foreshadowings or reflections of Christian truth, and the cruciform
temple which forms the climax of this monumental erection shows the
mystic value attached to the sacred Sign so frequently encountered in
Buddhist shrines, and known as the _Shvastika_. The numerous chapels
of Chandi Sewon contained the galaxy of Tirthankas or Buddhist saints
which the materialism of the Jains added to the impersonal subtleties
of esoteric Buddhism. The blank emptiness and desertion of this vast
sanctuary produces an impression of unutterable desolation. The
weed-grown courts, the ruined altars, and the moss-blackened arches,
encumbered with indistinguishable heaps of shattered sculpture, lack
all the reposeful charm of Boro-Boedoer, still a sermon in stone which
he who runs may read. The degenerate creed memorialised by Chandi
Sewon, has failed to impress itself on the colossal pile which bears
melancholy witness to the evanescent character of the heretical
offshoot from the parent stem. Jungle and palm-forest in Central Java
contain innumerable vestiges of pyramidal temples, palaces, and
shrines; vaults hidden beneath the shrouding trees have yielded a rich
store of gold, silver, and bronze ornaments, household utensils, and
armour. For many years the peasants of the region between Samarang and
Boro-Boedoer paid their taxes in gold melted from the treasure trove
turned up by the plough, or dug from the precincts of some forgotten
sanctuary, buried beneath the rank vegetation of the teaming soil. The
discarded Hindu gods still haunt the forest depths, and the
superstitious native, as he threads the dark recesses of the solemn
woods, gazes with apprehensive eyes on the trident of Siva, or the
elephant's trunk of Ganesh emerging from the trailing wreaths and
matted tapestry of liana and creeper, veiling the blackened stone of
each decaying shrine. Nature has proved stronger than Art or Creed, in
the eternal growth beneath an equatorial sun, of the kingdom over which
she reigns in immortal life. Silently and insidiously she undermines
man's handiwork, and realisation of his futile conflict with her
invincible power enters with disastrous effect into the popular mind,
lacking that immutable force without which the spiritual temple of
faith rests on a foundation of shifting sand. Kawi literature,
popularised by translation, and familiar through the medium of national
drama, interprets Javanese creeds and traditions. This "utterance of
poetry" derived from Sanskrit, fell into disuse after the Mohammedan
conquest, though a few Arabic words became incorporated into the
two-fold language comprising _Krama_, the ceremonial speech, and
_Ngoko_, the speech of "thee and thou," or colloquial form of address.
The island of Bali, and the slopes of the Tengger range, retain a
modification of Hinduism, and Bali treasures a Kawi version of the
Ramayan and Mahabharata epics. Many inspiring thoughts and noble
sentiments, expressed in story and song, have become well-known maxims
identified with Javanese life. "Rob no man of due credit, for the sun,
by depriving the moon of her light, adds no lustre to his own." "As
the lotus floats in water, the heart rests in a pure body." "Ye cannot
take riches to the grave, but he who succoureth the poor in this world
shall find a better wealth hereafter." A _babad_ or rhythmical ballad
of semi-religious character belongs to every province, but though many
details of temple worship--Buddhist, Hindu, and Mohammedan--may be
gathered from the lengthy scroll, heroic and princely exploits, myths
and traditions, encumber the sacred text, which Eastern imagination
transforms into a fairy tale. Creeds lose their chiselled outline, and
crumble away in the disintegrating medium of Javanese thought, which
blends them into each other with changing colour and borrowed light.
The inconstant soul of the Malay knows nothing of that rigid adherence
to some centralising truth which often forms the heart of a living
faith, and his religious history is an age-long record of failure,
change, desertion, and oblivion, repeated in varying cadences, and
inscribed in unmistakeable characters on the ruined sanctuaries of old
Mataram.



SOURAKARTA.


The imperial city of Sourakarta, commonly abbreviated into "Solo," was
the hereditary capital of the Mohammedan emperors, now mere
puppet-princes held in the iron grasp of Holland. The present Susunhan,
descended from both Hindu and Arab ancestry, maintains a brilliant
simulacrum of royal state, and his huge Kraton, far surpassing that of
Djokjacarta, contains 10,000 inhabitants. The pronounced Hindu type,
though debased and degraded, remains noticeable even amid the
all-pervading environment of squalor and disorder, which dims the
gorgeous colour and brilliant ceremonial, producing the effect of
jewels flung in the dust. A dense throng of brown humanity, clad and
unclad, walks to and fro beneath the dusky avenues of feathery
tamarinds which shield Solo from the ardour of the tropical sun. Old
crones, with unkempt locks streaming over brown and bony necks, pass
by, their wide mouths distorted and discoloured with sucking the
scarlet lumps of _Sarya_, from which the native derives unfailing
consolation, even the Javanese girl showing absolute disregard of the
disfigurement produced by this favourite stimulant. Deep moats,
lichen-stained walls, and hoary forts, invest Solo with a feudal
aspect, and the grim tower of Vostenberg menaces the Kraton with
bristling cannon, reminding the hereditary Ruler of his subserviency to
modern Holland, for only a melancholy illusion of past glory remains to
him. The dragon-carved eaves of the Chinese quarter, the open _tokos_
beneath waringen boughs, the shadowy _passer_ brightened by mounds of
richly-coloured fruits, and the stuccoed palaces of Court dignitaries,
framed in dark foliage, give character and interest to the city, where
the life of the past lingers in a series of street pictures remaining
from bygone days of pomp and show. Ministers of State walk beneath
many-coloured official umbrellas, held by obsequious attendants;
graceful _bedayas_, in glittering robes, execute intricate dances, and
_gamelon_ players discourse weird music on pipe and drum. Court
ballet-girls, known as _Serimpi_, are borne swiftly through the crowd
in gilded litters, and masked actors give _al fresco_ performances of
the historic _Wayang-wayang_, represented by living persons, for the
actual "shadow-play" is impossible in broad daylight. The colour of the
mask indicates the character assumed by the actor. The golden mask
signifies Divinity, heroes wear white, and evil spirits black or red.
Here, as elsewhere, the profile of the grotesque disguise invariably
shows either the Greek, or the hawk-nose strangely suggestive of
Egyptian origin, and which, as a variation on human physiognomy,
specially commended itself to Mohammedan thought as a skilful evasion
of an inconvenient dogma. Elsewhere the spirit of concession to alien
ideas is almost unknown, even flower and leaf being conventionalised on
those architectural monuments of Islam which form the supreme
expression of Mussulman genius. The suppression of national amusements
has ever proved a perilous step, and in the heart of this ancient
kingdom the original setting of Javanese life remained in stereotyped
form. The moving panorama of the tree-shadowed streets possesses a
strange fascination, and the light of the past lingers like a sunset
glow over the human element of the changed and modernised city. The
twang of double-stringed lutes, the tinkle of metal tubes, and the
elusive melody of silvery gongs, echo from the ages whence dance and
song descend as an unchanged inheritance. An itinerant minstrel recites
the history of _Johar Mankain_, the Una of Java, who shone like a jewel
in the world which could not tarnish the purity and devotion of one
whose heart entertained no evil thought. In the intricate byways of the
crumbling Kraton, a professional story-teller draws a squalid crowd of
women from their dark hovels and cellars, with the magic wand of
enchantment wielded by the reciter of heroic deeds from the _Panji_,
exaggerated out of all recognition by the addition of fairies and
giants, demons and dwarfs, to the simple human element of the original
story. The apathy and decay of native life, lacking all the scope and
interest common to a strenuous age, appears galvanised into some
fleeting semblance of vitality by the extravaganza presented to it, for
the language of hyperbole is the natural expression of Eastern thought,
and penetrates into mental recesses unknown and unexplored by the
relater of unvarnished facts. The quick response of the native mind to
Nature's teaching, and the wealth of tradition woven round flower and
tree, mountain and stream, foster the love of marvel and miracle in
those whose daily wants are supplied by the prodigality of a tropical
climate, for the innate poetry of the race has never been crushed out
by the weight of practical necessities.

A permit being obtained to view the interior of the Susunhan's palace
under a Dutch escort, we present ourselves at the colonnaded portico,
where the Prince Probolingo, brother of the Susunhan, receives his
visitors with simple courtesy. This descendant of a hundred kings is
simply attired in a dark brown _sarong_ and turban, the _kris_ in his
belt of embroidered velvet ablaze with a huge boss of diamonds.
Attendants, holding State umbrellas over the favoured guests, usher
them through marble-paved courts, in one of which a little prince is
seated, with furled golden umbrella behind him to denote his rank, a
group of royal children playing round him, their lithe brown forms
half-hidden in the green shadows of a great tamarind tree. A superb
marble ball-room with crystal chandeliers, forms an incongruous modern
feature of the spacious Palace, but helps to popularise the so-called
"Nail of the Universe" among the European inhabitants of Solo, by the
splendid entertainments continually given at the imperial command. The
porcelain and glass rooms convey an idea of the boundless hospitality
bestowed; the thousands of wine-glasses being especially noticeable,
for 800 guests are often invited at a time. Treasures of linen and
costly embroidery, silken hangings and velvet banners, gorgeous carpets
and mats of finest texture, are displayed to our admiring eyes, but
possession rather than enjoyment is the keynote of Eastern character,
and the bales and bundles of priceless value, kept in huge cabinets of
fragrant cedar-wood, seldom see the light of day. Long counting-houses
are crowded with native scribes, their brown bodies naked except for
_sarong_ and _kris_, the perpetual rattle of the abacus making a
deafening din, for apparently the smallest sum cannot be added up under
Eastern skies without the assistance of this wire frame with the
ever-shifting marbles. Cramped fingers move wearily over the yellow
parchments, with their long lists of undecipherable hieroglyphics, and
the turbaned heads are scarcely raised until the entrance of the Prince
necessitates the time-honoured salute of the _dodok_, the crouching
posture assumed in the presence of a superior. The needs and luxuries
of the immense royal household render the counting-house a feature of
the utmost importance. The Prince Probolingo has himself forty wives,
and a Harem in proportion to their numbers, the Susunhan's Imperial
Harem far exceeding that of his brother. Wonderful tales are told of
the fairy-like loveliness belonging to these inner palaces, with their
treasures of ivory and sandalwood, cedar and ebony, but they are
jealously guarded from intrusion, and a glimpse of their fantastic
glory seldom permitted to Western eyes. After an exhibition of
gold-encrusted litters and painted coaches of State, used in royal
processions, the Prince, a clever-looking man of forty, takes wine with
his guests. Each stand of solid silver contains six bottles, the
crouching attendants also carrying silver trays of tumblers and
wine-glasses, a gaily clad servitor with a huge silver ice-bowl
bringing up the rear. After drinking the health of His Royal Highness
in iced Rhine wine, we make our adieux, and escape from our splendid
_pajongs_ of rainbow hue on the steps of the Great Entrance, conveying
our thanks through the medium of an interpreter. These fainéant princes
learn no tongue but their own, greatly to the advantage of their Dutch
masters. The colossal incomes assigned to scions of the royal stock
only serve the double purpose of political expediency and personal
extravagance, for the luxury of a licentious Court remains unchecked,
and the idea of educating or reforming tributary princes is unknown in
Java. Territorial rights were relinquished for pecuniary gains, and the
entire Court of the Susunhan is in the pay of the Dutch, the wealth
amassed from the richest island in the world affording ample
compensation for the pensions lavishly bestowed on the former owners of
the tropical Paradise. The Dutch Resident, in his capacity of "Elder
Brother" to the indigenous race, claims the full privileges of his
assumed position, but the advancing tide of social reform has even
touched these distant shores, and the alien authority tends on the
whole to the welfare of the community. Hygienic regulations are
compulsory, and even here the traditions of Holland enjoin an amount of
whitewashing and cleaning up unique in tropical colonies. The green and
vermilion panelled _sarongs_ of Solo are renowned for their elaborate
designs, and the painting of _battek_, or cotton cloth, remains a
flourishing industry of the ancient capital. The intricate beauty of
the hand-made patterns far surpasses that of the woven fabrics
wherewith new mills and factories begin to supply the market. Centuries
of hereditary training, from the days when royal Solo was a
self-supporting city, contribute to the amazing skill of the _battek_
girls, but the elaboration of native Art is doomed to decay, for Time,
hitherto a negligeable quantity in this "summer isle of Eden," begins
to reveal a value unknown to the Javanese past, and as the poetry of
illumination vanished before the prose of the printing press, so the
painting of _battek_ must inevitably give way to the wholesale methods
of Manchester in the near future of Java, just awakening from her
spellbound sleep to the changed conditions of life and labour. An
exquisite plain, described by de Charnay as unrivalled even in Java,
surrounds Sourakarta with belts of palm, avenues of waringen, and
picturesque rice-fields of flaming green and vivid gold. Azure peaks
frame the enchanting picture. The storied heights are rich in
traditions of gods and heroes, with innumerable myths haunting the
ruined temples which cluster round the base of the mountain range, and
suggest themselves as relics of an earlier creed than Buddhism or
Brahminism. Archaic sculptures, obelisks, and gateways, massive and
undecorated, recall the architecture of Egyptian sanctuaries, but no
record exists which throws any light on the origin of the extensive
monuments of a forgotten past, though the triple pyramid of Mount Lawu
is still a place of sacrifice to Siva the Destroyer. Pilgrims climb the
steep ascent to lay their marigold garlands and burn their
incense-sticks at the foot of the rude cairn erected in propitiation of
the Divine wrath, typified by the cloud and tempest hovering round the
jagged pinnacles of the volcanic range, which frowns with perpetual
menace above the verdant loveliness of plain and woodland. The
instinctive worship seems one of those hereditary relics of a perished
faith so frequently encountered in Java; a blind impulse for which no
reason can be ascribed by the devotee, swayed by those mysterious
forces of the subconscious self which seem imperishable elements in the
brown races of the Malay Archipelago. The native Court attracts myriad
parasites, and the wealthy Chinese half-castes, or _Paranaks_ of Solo,
with their inborn commercial genius, surpass all competitors in the
pursuit of fortune. The three centuries of mixed marriages have
modified Chinese conservatism, and though the _Paranak_ is severely
taxed, and excluded from all political offices, he remains supreme in
the kingdom of finance, regarded even by the Dutch as an indispensable
factor in the complicated affairs of the island.

The great _passer_ of Solo becomes an endless delight, and the
interminable corridors, where the fumes of incense mingle with the
breath of flowers, convey strange suggestions of antiquity. Simple
meals of rice and bananas progress round cooking-pots of burnished
copper. Pink pomelo and purple mangosteen vary the repast; strips of
green banana leaf folded into cups fastened with an acanthus thorn, or
serving as plates for Dame Nature's prodigality, provide the
accessories of the feast as well as the provisions. The Javanese
populace, wonderfully free from those household cares which involve so
much time and trouble in Northern nations strenuously occupied in
keeping the wolf from the door, and left to carry out their own
inventions, have evolved numerous methods of blending the different
metals--steel and iron, brass and silver. The veinings of the _kris_,
beautiful as those of any Toledo blade, are produced by the welding of
metals steeped in lime-juice and arsenic, which destroy the iron and
retain the ingrained pattern. The chains of mingled brass and silver
show exquisite designs and a special charm of colour, in the soft
golden hue and subdued gleam of the heavy links, with their
richly-enamelled talismans of ruby and turquoise enamel. Soft voices,
tranquil movements, and courteous manners are the age-long heritage of
Malay idiosyncracy, and even in the crowded _passer_, with its horde of
buyers and sellers, noise and dispute are non-existent. It is a market
of dreamland, and though echoes of marching feet and music of native
bands remind us that we are in imperial Sourakarta, the busy hive of
the _passer_ suggests a panoramic picture of native life, rather than
the pushing, jostling crowd represented by the ordinary idea of a
market in that Western hemisphere which, in bestowing so many priceless
gifts on humanity, has taken from it the old-world grace of repose.



SOURABAYA AND THE TENGGER.


The port of Sourabaya, supreme in mercantile importance, ranks as the
second city of Java, as it contains the military headquarters, the
principal dockyards, and the arsenal. Leagues of rice and sugar-cane
lie between Solo and Sourabaya, the landscape varied by gloomy teak
woods, feathery tamarinds, and stately mango trees. White towns nestle
in rich vegetation, and the green common known as the _aloon-aloon_
marks each hybrid suburb, Europeanized by Dutch canals, white bridges,
and red-tiled houses, planted amid a riotous wealth of palm and banana.
A broad river, brimming over from the deluge of the previous night,
flows through burning Sourabaya; a canal, gay with painted _praus_
connecting it with the vast harbour, where shipping of all nations lies
at anchor, the sheltered roads bristling with a forest of masts and
funnels. Bungalows, in gorgeous gardens, flank dusky avenues of
colossal trees, for even Sourabaya, the hottest place in steaming Java,
enjoys "a boundless contiguity of shade." In the _sawa_ fields
broad-eaved huts, set on stilts above the swamp, protect the brown boys
who frighten birds from the rice, for the clapping and shouting must be
carried on under shelter from the ardent sun. No air blows from the
rippling water, set with acres of lotus-beds, the fringed chalices of
rose and azure swaying on their plate-like leaves of palest green. The
heterogeneous character of Sourabaya gives unwonted interest to the
streets, uniquely brilliant in grouping and colour. Gilded eaves of
Chinese houses, many-tiered Arab mosques, encrusted with polished tiles
of blue and purple, white colonnades of Dutch bungalows, and pointed
huts of woven basket-work within wicker gate and bamboo fence, mingle
in fantastic confusion to frame a series of living pictures.
Cream-coloured bullocks and spirited Timor ponies, in creaking waggons
and ramshackle carriages, pass in endless procession. Bronze-hued
coolies balance heavy loads on the swaying _pikolan_, a sloping pole of
elastic bamboo, and strolling players, rouged and tinselled, collect
crowds in every open space where a fluttering tamarind-tree offers a
welcome patch of shadow to each turbaned audience, clad in the
paradisaical garb of the tropics. Graceful Malay women flit silently
past, in pleasing contrast to their burly Dutch mistresses, clad in a
caricature of native garb which the appalling heat of Sourabaya renders
a more slatternly disguise than even colonial _sans géne_ accomplishes
elsewhere. Orchids spread broad spathes of scented bloom from grey
trunks of courtyard trees, and cascades of crimson and purple creepers
tumble over arch and wall. Insinuating Chinamen untie bundles of
_sarongs_, scarves, and delicate embroideries on the marble steps of
hotel porticoes, where the prolonged "shopping" of the drowsy East is
catered for by the industrious Celestial, when _tokos_ are closed, and
the tradesman sleeps on the floor amid his piled-up wares, for the
slumber of Java is too deep to be lightly disturbed, and the solemnity
of the long siesta seems regarded almost as a religious function. In
this far-off land of dreams it seems "always afternoon," and the
complacency wherewith the entire population places itself "hors de
combat" becomes a perpetual irritation to the traveller, anxious to
seize a golden opportunity of fresh experience. The sun sinks out of
sight before the sultry atmosphere begins to cool. The weird "gecko," a
large lizard which foretells rain, screams "Becky! Becky!" in the
garden shadows, and a cry of "Toko! Toko!" echoes from another unseen
speaker of a mysterious language, while wraith-like forms of his tiny
brethren make moving patterns on the white columns, as the hungry
little reptiles hunt ceaselessly for the mosquitos which form their
staple diet. Lashing rain and deafening thunder at length cool the
fiery furnace, blue lightning flares on the solid blackness of heaven,
and the storm only dies away when we start at dawn for Tosari, the
mountain sanatorium of the Tengger. The flat and flooded land glows
with the vivid green of springing rice, tremulous tamarind and
blossoming teak bordering a road gay with pilgrim crowds, for the great
volcano of the Tengger remains one of Nature's mystic altars, dedicated
to prayer and sacrifice. Moslem girls in yellow veils jostle brown men
with white prayer-marks and clanking bangles. The _sari_ of India
replaces the _sarong_ of Java, with fluttering folds of red and purple;
children, clad only in silver chains and medals, or strings of blue
beads, dart through the crowd, from whence the familiar types of Malay
and Javanese personality are absent. We change carts in a busy roadside
_passer_, which drives a roaring trade in rice-cakes and fruit, syrups
and stews, to mount through changing zones of vegetation, where palms
give place to tree ferns, and luscious frangipanni or gardenia yields
to rose and chrysanthemum. From the half-way house of Poespo, a forest
road ascends to Tosari. Sombre casuarina, most mournful of the pine
tribe, mingles with teak and mahogany in dense woods falling away on
either side from the shadowy path. Innumerable monkeys swing from bough
to bough, eating wild fruits, and breaking off twigs to pelt the
intruders on their domains. At length the sylvan scenery gives place to
endless fields of cabbage, potatoes, maize, and onions, for the cool
heights of the Tengger range serve the prosaic purpose of market-garden
to Eastern Java, and all European vegetables may be cultivated here
with success. A patchwork counterpane of green, brown, and yellow,
clothes these steep slopes, but the extent of the mountain chain, and
the phantasmal outlines of volcanic peaks, absorb the incongruities
grafted upon them. Valerian and violet border the track between swarthy
pines with grey mosses hanging down like silver beards from forked
branches, and sudden mists shroud the landscape in vaporous folds, torn
to shreds by gusts of wind, to melt away into the blue sky, suddenly
unveiled in dazzling glimpses between the surging clouds. A long flight
of mossy steps ascends to the plateau occupied by the Sanatorium, with
wide verandahs and a poetic garden, like some old Italian pleasaunce,
with fountain and sundial, espaliered orange boughs, and ancient
rose-trees overhanging paved walks, gay parterres, and avenues of
myrtle or heliotrope. Flowers are perennial even on these airy heights,
and dense hedges of datura, with long white bells drooping in myriads
over the pointed foliage, transform each narrow lane into a vista of
enchantment. Eastern Java spreads map-like beneath the overhanging
precipice, the blue strait of Madoera curving between fretted peak and
palm-clad isle. The velvety plum-colour of nearer ranges fades through
tints of violet and mauve into the ethereal lilac of distant summits.
The lowlands gleam with brimming fish-ponds and flooded _sawas_, as
though the sea penetrated through creek and inlet to the heart of the
green country, the vague glitter of this watery world investing the
scene with dream-like unreality. Brown _campongs_ cling to mountain
crest and precipitous ledge. These almost inaccessible fastnesses were
colonised after the Moslem conquest by a Hindu tribe which refused to
relinquish Brahminism. Driven from place to place by the fanatical
hordes of Islam on the downfall of the Hindu empire, the persecuted
race, a notable exception to native inconstancy and indifference,
retreated by degrees to this mountain stronghold, where they
successfully retained their religious independence, and defended
themselves from Mohammedan hostility. Brahminism through centuries of
isolation, has assimilated many extraneous heathen rites, and wild
superstitions have overlaid the original creed. The worship of the
Tenggerese is now mainly directed to the ever-active crater of the
awe-inspiring Bromo, always faced by the longer side of the windowless
communal houses, built to contain the several generations of the
families which in patriarchal fashion inhabit these spacious dwellings.
Huge clouds of smoke from the majestic volcano curl perpetually above
the surrounding peaks, and float slowly westward, the thunderous roar
of the colossal crater echoing in eternal menace through the rarefied
air, and regarded as the voice of the god who inhabits the fiery
Inferno. These lonely hills, ravaged by tempest and haunted by beasts
of prey, are the hiding-places of fear and the cradles of
ever-deepening superstition. Wild fancies sway the untaught
mountaineers, responsive to Nature's wonders, though powerless to
interpret their signification. The constant struggle for existence
produces a character utterly opposed to that of the suave and facile
Malay. The graces of life are unknown, but the strenuous temperament of
the Tenggerese is shown by indefatigable industry in the difficult
agriculture of the mountain region, and the careful cultivation of the
vegetables for which the district is renowned. Day by day, the
Tenggerese women--gaunt, scantily-clad, and almost unsexed by incessant
toil in the teeth of wind and weather--carry down their burdens to the
plain, their backs bent under the weight of the huge crates, while the
brown and wizened children are prematurely aged and deformed by their
share in the family toil. The more prosperous inhabitant carries his
vegetables on a mountain pony, trained to wonderful feats in the art of
sliding up and climbing down walls of rock almost devoid of foothold,
for the riding of Tenggerese youth and maiden rivals that of the Sioux
Indian. Misdirected zeal strips the hills of forest growth; the scanty
pines of the higher zone serving as fuel, and the ruthless destruction
of timber brings the dire result of decreasing rainfall. Only bamboo
remains wherewith to build the communal houses, formerly constructed of
tastefully blended woods, and the flimsy substitute, unfitted to resist
drenching rain and raging wind, is dragged with the utmost difficulty
from cleft and gorge along rude tracks hewn out in the mountain side.
Rice, elsewhere the mainstay of life in Java, has never been cultivated
by the Tenggerese, the sowing and planting of the precious crop being
forbidden to them during the era of gradual retreat before the
Mohammedan army centuries ago, and the innate conservatism of the
secluded tribe, in spite of life's altered environment, clings to the
dead letter of an obsolete law. The tigers, once numerous round Tosari,
have retreated into the jungle clothing the lower hills, and seldom
issue from their forest lairs unless stress of weather drives them
upward for a nightly prowl round byre and pen. The destruction of
covert renders Tosari immune from this past peril, and the tragic tiger
stories related round the hearthstone of the communal house are
becoming oral traditions of a forgotten day, gathering round themselves
the moss and lichen of fable and myth.

The main interest of Tosari centres round the stupendous Bromo,
possessing the largest crater in the world, a fathomless cavity three
miles in diameter, veiled in Stygian darkness, and suggesting the
yawning mouth of hell. This bottomless pit, bubbling like a boiling
cauldron, pouring out black volumes of sulphureous smoke, and
clamouring with unceasing thunder, was for ages a blood-stained altar
of human sacrifice. Every year the fairest maiden of the Tengger was
the chosen victim offered to Siva, who, in his attribute of a Consuming
Fire, occupied the volcanic abyss. The worship of the Divine Destroyer
has ever been a fruitful source of crime and cruelty, and a tangible
atmosphere of evil lingers round those hoary temples of India dedicated
to the Avenging Deity, whose fanatical followers are reckoned by
millions. Through the inversion of creed peculiar to Hindu Pantheism,
the propitiation of Divine wrath has become the fundamental principle
of religion, and pathetic appeals for mercy continually ascend from
darkened hearts to those unseen powers vividly present to Hindu
thought, which, amid countless errors and degradations, has never
ceased to grasp the central fact of Eternity. The impalpable air teems
with Divinity. Watchful eyes and clutching hands surround the pilgrim's
path, and unseen spirits dog faltering footsteps as they stumble
through the snares and pitfalls of earthly life. In the rude tribes of
the Tengger, hereditary faith reflects the uncompromising features of
local environment. The lotus-eating races of the tropical lowlands,
with their feeble grasp on the sterner aspects of creed and character,
have nothing in common with this Indian tribe, remaining on the
outskirts of an alien civilisation. The creed for which the early
Tenggerese fought and conquered, has cooled from white heat to a
shapeless petrifaction, and weird influences throng the ruined temple
of a moribund faith, but the shadows which loom darkly above the
mouldering altars still command the old allegiance, and a thousand
hereditary ties bind heart and soul to the past.

The expedition to the Bromo, by horse or litter, affords the supreme
experience of Javanese volcanoes. The broken track, knee-deep in mud
and rent by landslips, traverses fields of Indian corn, rocky clefts,
and rugged water-courses. The familiar flora of Northern Europe fringes
babbling brooks, their banks enamelled with wild strawberries and
reddening brambles. Curtains of ghostly mist lift at intervals to
disclose the magical pink and blue of the mountain distance, as sunrise
throws a shaft of scarlet over the grim cliff's of the Moengal Pass. A
chasm in the stony wall reveals the famous Sand Sea below the abrupt
precipice, a yellow expanse of arid desert encircling three fantastic
volcanoes. The pyramidal Batok, the cloud-capped Bromo, and the
serrated Widodaren, set in the wild solitude of this desolate Sahara,
form a startling picture, suggesting a sudden revelation of Nature's
mysterious laboratories. The deep roar of subterranean thunder, and the
fleecy clouds of sulphureous smoke ever rising from the vast furnaces
of the Bromo, emphasise the solemnity of the marvellous scene. Native
ideas recognise this terror-haunted landscape as the point where Times
touches Eternity, and natural forces blend with occult influences.
Tjewara Lawang, "the gate of the spirits," traditionally haunted by the
countless _Devas_ of Hindu Pantheism, bounds the ribbed and tumbled
Sand Sea with a black bridge of fretted crags, from whence the
invisible host keeps watch and ward over the regions of eternal fire.

By a fortunate coincidence, the annual festival of the Bromo is
celebrated to-day, when Siva, the Third Person of the Hindu Triad, is
propitiated by a living sacrifice. Goats and buffaloes were flung into
the flaming crater long after the offering of human victims was
discontinued, but, alas for the chicanery of a degenerate age! even the
terrified animals thrown into the air by the sacrificing priest never
reach the mystic under-world, their downward progress being arrested by
a skilled accomplice, who catches them at a lower level, and risks
great Siva's wrath by preserving them for more prosaic uses. The
silence of the Sand Sea is broken to-day by the bustle of a gay market
on the brink of the yellow plain. The terrific descent through a gash
in the precipice, carved by falling boulders, landslips, and torrential
rains, lands the battered pilgrim in the midst of a lively throng in
festal array. Girls in rose and orange _saris_, with silver pins in
sleek dark hair plaited with skeins of scarlet wool, dismount from
rough ponies for refreshment, or gallop across the Sand Sea to the
mountain of sacrifice. The turbaned men in rough garb of indigo and
brown show less zeal than their womenkind, and betel-chewing, smoking,
or the consumption of syrups and sweetmeats, prove more attractive than
the religious service, for modern materialism extends even to these
remote shores, and the Avenging God is often worshipped by proxy.

The Sand Sea was originally the base of the Tengger volcano, split from
head to foot by an appalling eruption, which forced mud, sand, and lava
from the enclosing walls into the surrounding valley. Fresh craters
formed in the vast depths of sand and molten metal; the three new
volcanoes--Bromo, Battok, and Widodaren--casting themselves up from the
blazing crucibles hidden beneath the fire-charged earth. We stand on
the thin and crumbling crust of the globe's most friable surface, a
mere veil concealing fountains of eternal fire, foaming solfataras, and
smoking fumaroles. Circle after circle, the great belt of volcanic
peaks rises around us, visible outlets of incalculable forces, ever
menacing the world with ruin and havoc.

On the steep descent, a few devout pilgrims offer preliminary
sacrifices of food, or flowers, to the _Devas_ of the mountains, laying
the little treasures in oval vaults dug by human hands, before entering
the inner courts of the fiery sanctuary. The yellow Sand Sea, swept by
a moaning wind, sends up whirling eddies, and the dusky haze shimmers
in fantastic outlines, which probably originated the idea of spiritual
presences hovering round the scene. Grey heather and clumps of
cypress-grass dot the wild Sahara with their dry and colourless
monotony, but give place on the southern side to patches of fern and
turf, the scanty pasture of the mountain ponies, herding together until
sickness or accident breaks the ranks, when the hapless sufferer,
deserted by his kind, falls an easy prey to the wild dogs of the
Tengger ranges. A heap of bleaching bones points to some past tragedy,
and terrifies the swerving horses of the native pilgrims. The ascent of
the Bromo is negotiated from the eastern side to the lip of the
gigantic crater. Slanting precipices of lava, their grey flanks scored
with black gullies below the volcanic ash which covers the upper
slopes, rise to the jagged pinnacles bordering the black gulf of
eternal mystery and night. A rickety ladder of bamboo, approached
through a chaos of boulders, mounts to the edge of the profound abyss.
The ladder has been renewed for this Day of Atonement, and worshippers
clad in rainbow hues crowd round the base of the volcano, while the
priests of Siva, in motley robes of brilliant patchwork, adorned with
cabalistic tracery in white, ascend the swaying rungs, bearing their
struggling victims, bleating, crowing, and clucking in mortal terror.
Stalwart arms toss the black goat with accurate aim to an assistant
priest, who passes on his clever "catch" to a third expert in the task
of hoodwinking Siva and depriving him of his lawful prey. Sundry cocks
and hens, evidently toothsome morsels, are then thrown from one priest
to another, and saved for the cooking-pot, but a tough-looking
chanticleer of the Cochin China persuasion is finally selected, and
cast into the seething pit to propitiate the terrible wrath of the
Avenging Deity at the smallest expense and loss to the astute
priesthood. At the close of the sacerdotal is sacreligious performance,
we mount the shaking ladder to a thatched shed on the rim of the
crater. From hence, between the dense volumes of smoke, the huge cavity
is visible to a depth of 600 feet. Sallow clouds of sulphur emerge from
a pandemonium of tumultuous clamour; red-hot stones shoot upward, but
fall back into the chasm before they reach us; burning ashes strike the
smooth walls with a weird scream, and then whirl back into the
darkness; yellow solfataras rise in foaming jets, with the fierce hiss
of unseen serpents, and bellowing thunders shake the earth. The superb
spectacle of nature's power in her armoury of terror is unique among
the volcanos of Java, for unless the Bromo blazes in the throes of a
violent eruption, when the ascent to the crater becomes impossible, no
danger exists in gazing down into the mysterious abyss. At every gust
which rages round this laboratory of Nature, the vast clouds--black,
yellow, and blue--floating away into space, assume grotesque forms
suggesting primeval monsters or menacing giants, darkening the skies
with their ghostly presence. Driving rain and a rising gale hasten a
rapid descent to the Sand Sea, but the sudden storm dies away into
sunlit mists. The climb to the Moenggal Pass is complicated by a series
of pools and cascades; the horses pick their own perilous way, but the
management of the chairs by the noisy coolies demands superhuman
strength and security of hand and foot, the crazy and battered _doolie_
escaping falls and collisions by a continuous miracle.

The expedition to Ngandwona, in the heart of the hills, skirts green
precipices and traverses brown _campongs_ forlorn and neglected, like
this stranded Hindu race, incapable of adjustment to life's law of
change, and retaining the form without the spirit of the past. The
glens lie veiled in cloud, but the peaks bask in sunshine. Waterfalls
dash through thickets of crimson foxglove, and daturas swing their
fragrant bells over the dancing water. A little goatherd, leading his
bleating flock, plays on a reed flute to summon a straggler from a
distant crag. The brown figure, in linen waistcloth and yellow turban,
suggests that Indian personality which has survived ages of exile on
these lonely heights. The route to Ngandwona discloses the Tengger in
a different aspect; the volcanos are far away, and this central region
is rich in pastoral pictures full of lulling charm. The voice of the
Bromo still breaks the silence of the deep valley with a mysterious
undertone, but only benignant _Devas_ haunt this flower-filled hollow,
remote alike from the terrors of Nature and the influences of the
external world.

The following day varies the character of the range, exposed to every
vicissitude of temperature and climate. White billows of fog beat upon
the mountain tops like a silent sea, and blot out the landscape with an
impenetrable veil. Thunder echoes through the rocky caves with
incessant reverberations, and rain settles down in a drenching flood.
The chill of the wooden Hotel penetrates to the bone; enthusiasm wanes
below zero, and even scorching Sourabaya appears preferable to this wet
and windy refuge on the storm-swept heights. The hurricane proves brief
in proportion to the violence displayed, and the walk to Poespo at
dawn, behind the baggage-coolie, is a vision of delight. Violet
mountains lean against the pale blue of a rain-washed sky, tjewara and
teak glisten with jewelled lustre, and the Tengger, bathed in
amethystine light, lifts itself above the world as the realm of purity
and peace, ever revealed and prophesied by the glory of mountain
scenery.



CELEBES.



MAKASSAR AND WESTERN CELEBES.


Each island of the great Archipelago offers distinctive interests, for
many alien races grafted themselves on the original stock, after those
age-long wanderings across the Southern seas which probably coincided
with the westward march from Central Asia, whereby primeval man
fulfilled the decrees of destiny.

A long pull in a rickety _sampan_ across the harbour of Sourabaya
involves numerous collisions with fruit-boats, canoes, and rafts,
before reaching the steamer in the offing. Intervals of comparative
safety permit cursory observation of the gorgeously-painted _praus_
with upturned stern, curving bamboo masts, and striped sails, the
outline of the gaudy boats accentuated by a black line, and producing
the effect of huge shells tossing on the tide. The green isle of
Madoera, and the level morasses of Eastern Java, bound the wide
harbour, the blue cloud of the distant Tengger soaring abruptly on the
horizon. The ship becomes our home for a month, and affords a welcome
relief from divers struggles on land, involved by a dual language,
official red tape, and native incompetence. A brilliant sunset flames
across the heavens, and we glide across a golden sea as a fitting
prelude to unknown realms of enchantment. The dreamful calm of the two
days' passage obliterates the memory of bygone difficulties and
perturbations, the interval between past and future experiences falling
like refreshing dew on the weary spirit, and increasing the receptive
capacity required for the assimilation of new impressions. The vast
extent of the Malay Archipelago, and the stupendous size of the
principal islands, comes as a fresh revelation to travellers whose
ideas have been limited by vague recollections of schoolroom geography.
The seven hundred miles of Java's length, Sumatra's vast extent of
fourteen hundred miles, the area of Borneo equalling that of France and
Germany combined, and the fact of Celebes, for which we are bound,
exceeding the dimensions of Norway and Sweden, convey startling
suggestions of the limitless space occupied by the great Equatorial
group. The palms and flowers of myriad smaller isles break the blue
monotony of these summer seas traversed by the Malay wanderers of olden
days, striving to sail beyond the sunset, and to overtake that
visionary ideal flitting ever before them, and luring them on with the
fairy gold of unfulfilled desires.

At length the high blue peaks of central Celebes pierce the silver
mists of a roseate dawn, and beyond a cluster of coral islets, the
white town of Makassar gleams against a green background of palms.
Miles of brown _campongs_ fringe the shore, but the gay scene on the
wooden wharves at first occupies undivided attention. _Sarongs_ of
crimson, orange, purple, or boldly-contrasting plaids, enhance the deep
bronze of native complexion, the ample folds of the wide skirts drawn
up above the knees. High turbans of white or red cambric, elaborately
twisted, add dignity to the stately figures, deeply-cut features and
hawk noses denoting Arab origin, for the Makassarese is a lineal
descendant of the Moslem pirates, once the terror of these
island-studded seas. Proud, courageous, and passionately addicted to
adventurous travel in far-off lands, these sturdy islanders have little
in common with the inert races of Java. The normal Malay element
appears extinguished by the fiery superstructure of Arab nature,
retaining the vindictive and fanatical traits of ancestral character.
The women, in rainbow garb, use their floating _slandangs_ as
improvised _yashmaks_, holding the red and yellow folds before their
faces in approved Moslem fashion, when passing a man. Makassar,
formerly ruled by a line of powerful princes as an independent fief,
but now subject to a Dutch Governor, has become the capital of Celebes,
and occupies an important commercial position. The wharves are filled
with bales of _copra_, mother-of-pearl shells, plumage of native birds,
dried fish, bundles of rattan, and precious woods from the primeval
forests of the interior. The boom of the fisherman's drum echoes across
the water in constant reverberations, a secularised relic of the
religious past, originally serving the purpose of the Mohammedan call
to prayer, but now fulfilling the prosaic office of signalling the
arrival or departure of boats, though the devout mariner still appeals
by drum to the Heavenly Powers for fair weather and a good haul of
fish. The official buildings of Makassar, including the Dutch
Governor's palace, face a green _aloon-aloon_, flanked by superb
avenues of kanari and tamarind trees. The hoary fort, scarcely
distinguishable from the solid rock which supports it, was captured
from the King of Goa by a Dutch admiral, who thrust his sword through
an adjacent cocoanut palm, to symbolise his intention of piercing the
hearts of all who resisted the Treaty afterwards drawn up. The sword
and cocoanut now form part of the heraldic arms belonging to Makassar.

Local costume affords a continuous feast of colour, and streets and
avenues appear like moving tulip beds, the broad blue sky and dazzling
sunshine of this tropical land intensifying every glowing tint of robe,
fruit, and flower. In the umber shadows of dusky _tokos_, gold-beaters
fashion those red-gold ornaments rich in barbaric beauty, for which
Makassar has ever been renowned. Portuguese art glorifies native
workmanship, and the Dutch carry on the traditions of the past, merely
simplifying the old methods by introducing modern tools to lighten the
labour of production. Silken scarves, and elaborately-painted _battek_,
woven with gold and silver thread, swing from the black rafters of dim
corridors, and countless treasures of the deep, in shells and coral of
rich and delicate colouring, manifest the infinite variety of Nature's
handiwork. From the crowded lanes, with their busy markets and hybrid
population, we drive through the long line of _campongs_ bordering the
palm-fringed coast. The bamboo walls of the fragile houses, standing on
stilts or rocking on poles in the rippling sea, show a multitude of
fantastic designs, the broad roofs of thatched grass or plaited
palm-leaves extending in penthouse eaves above carven panels let into
the gables. A riot of glorious vegetation frames and overshadows the
clustering huts of deftly-woven cane. Dark faces peer through the
narrow slits of bamboo window-spaces, but Makassar pride contains the
elements of self-respect, and though the stranger attracts a certain
amount of interest, no discourtesy mars the pleasure of exploration. A
red road beneath towering palms, skirts rice-fields and bamboo thickets
to the beautiful ford of the Tello, a broad river flowing between vast
woods of cocoanut and bread-fruit trees, with only a tiny dug-out,
steered by a brown boy in a scarlet turban, to dispel the loneliness of
the scene. The vicinity of Makassar offers no special characteristics
beyond those of a tropical garden, but the changing aspects of native
life provide subjects of unceasing interest. To-day a great Chinese
festa takes place, which attracts all the inhabitants of town and
_campong_, for amusements are scarce on these distant shores, and no
questions of race or faith complicate the determination to secure a
share in the pleasures of the ceremony. When the usual burst of squibs
and crackers, lighting of bonfires, and tossing of joss-papers into the
air, marks the commencement of the holiday, spectators line the roads,
climb the trees, and crowd the fiat roofs of Portuguese houses. The
afternoon is the children's portion of the festival, and the little
bedizened figures, with rouged faces, tinsel crowns, and spangled
robes, bestride grotesque wooden dragons, fishes, and birds,
brilliantly painted, and drawn on wheels by masked men in robes of pink
and green. A crowd of high-class babies, also bedizened and spangled,
follows in perambulators wreathed with flowers, and pushed by their
Chinese nurses. Hideous gods in glittering robes, and appalling demons
painted in black and scarlet, bring up the rear of the long procession,
which traverses every street and lane of the Chinese _campong_, the
open houses displaying the lighted altars and tutelary gods of
Buddhist and Taoist creed, for the mystic philosophy of the Eastern
sages materialises into grossest realism by passing through the
crucible of Chinese thought.

A visit to the so-called "Kingdom of Goa" fills up our last day in
Makassar. The Palace of the tributary Sultan, ten miles from the
capital, consists of steep-roofed houses built upon huge trunks of
forest trees, and connected by carved galleries and crumbling stairs
with the Harem at the back of the main edifice. Squalid women in blue
yashmaks loll on the crazy verandah, whence a native secretary marshals
us through the dusty and ruinous building. The Sultan, taking to the
hills as a necessary precaution after inciting his subjects to
rebellion against the Dutch, has just been captured, but, whether by
accident or design, fell over a cliff, and until his dead body is
brought back to receive the Mohammedan rites of burial, the royal
residence remains in charge of the police. The grass-grown road to the
decaying Palace intersects the rambling and sordid village of Goa, the
feudal appanage of the sorry chieftain, a perpetual thorn in the side
of the Dutch Government. The surrounding country appears almost a
solitude, the silence stirred by the song of the distant surf, the
chirping of myriad grasshoppers, and the ceaseless clash of waving
palms in the breeze which steals up from the sea. A quaint
water-castle, shaped like a Chinese junk, stands on a rock in a
fish-pond reflecting the rosy sky, and the fretted marble of a
beautiful Arabian tomb gleams from a clump of white-starred _sumboya_
exhaling incense on the air. As the magic and mystery of night shroud
Makassar in a mantle of gloom, the surrounding sea becomes a vision of
phosphorescent flame to the furthest horizon. The sheet-lightning of
the tropical sky repeats the wonders of the deep, the glamour of
romance gilds the prose of reality, and we apprehend that spirit of
wondering awe which breathes through the records of old-world voyagers
across uncharted oceans, when witnessing the phenomena of Nature in the
sanctuary of her power, before Science had torn the veil from the
mystic shrine.

The steamer's course follows the bold and mountainous coast; steep
cliffs alternate with forest-clad ravines, the purple ranges of the
foreground melting into the azure crests of soaring peaks. Skilful
navigation is required in threading the blue water-lanes of the
Spermunde group, the scores of palm-clad islets like bouquets of
verdure thrown on the tranquil sea. The wicker-work _campongs_ of the
fishing population form a ring round each white beach of sparkling
coral sand. The black bow of the "Bromo," a ship which broke her back
on a reef twenty years ago, stands high above the treacherous rocks,
and accentuates the vivid colouring of water and foliage. At Paré-Paré,
a native _campong_ in a deep bay at the edge of a forest, the steamer
stops to discharge cargo, and affords an opportunity of landing. A gay
crowd lines the shore of the picturesque village, the houses of
palm-thatched bamboo adorned with carved ladders and upcurving eaves of
white wood. One of the numerous military expeditions to turbulent
Celebes has lately been successful, and the _campong_, where every hut
was closed for a year in consequence of the local Rajah forcing his
people to join in his insurrection, has at last been re-opened, though
under a guard of Dutch and Malay troops. A brown bodyguard of native
children, mainly clad in silver chains and medals, escorts the
strangers with intense delight to a shabby little mosque, where a
Dervish, in the orange turban rewarding a pilgrim to Mecca, beats a big
drum in the stone court. The little savages encountered at Mandja on
the following day seem equally free from clothes and cares, but
Europeans, though possessing the charm of novelty, are regarded with
awe; a sudden stop, a word, or even a lifted hand, sufficing to make
the whole juvenile population take to their heels, and hide among the
palms and bananas until a sudden impulse of fresh curiosity banishes
fear. Clothing is at a discount, but ornaments of brass, silver, and
coloured beads, are evidently indispensable. Natural flowers, like
immense red fuchsias with long white bells, serve as ear-rings, and
scarlet caps adorn the sleek black heads of the elder girls. An _al
fresco_ picnic party from the hills occupies a green mound, and boils a
kettle on sticks of flaming bamboo, though a stray spark might easily
burn down the entire _campong_. A great part of Celebes is uninhabited
and uncultivated, but the tribes of the interior, warlike and
treacherous, have never been completely subjugated. The slave trade
flourishes among these lonely hills, murder and violence are rife; the
methods of warfare, comprising poisoned arrows, and bullets containing
splinters of glass, denote absolute barbarism, and the enormous island,
which ought to be a field of emigration for some of Java's twenty-seven
millions, except for the coast _campongs_ and the rice-grounds of the
far interior, remains one of the waste places of the earth, in spite of
a perfect climate and a teeming soil.

Day by day the scenery becomes more wild and dreary; the forests
disappear, and the sun-baked hills encroach on the low brushwood beyond
the white beaches of coves and inlets, without any sign of habitation.
An atmosphere of crystalline purity discloses the highest range of the
interior, a long chain of azure peaks. Our course traverses league upon
league of melancholy solitude, emphasised rather than relieved by the
brilliant sunlight and balmy breezes playing over this realm of
neglected possibilities, where the wants of countless sufferers might
be abundantly supplied. Anchoring for an hour in the deep blue bay of
Tontoli, we come once more into the haunts of men, and two picturesque
_campongs_ buried in cocoa-palms beneath the wooded mountains of Tomini
are pointed out as exclusively peopled by descendants of the pirates
who infested this western coast of Celebes. From this point the
interest of the cruise increases. Pretty _campongs_ line the shore of
every sheltered creek. Boats of quaint form and colour push off to meet
the steamer, quickly surrounded by _sampans_, _blotos_ (the native
canoes), or carved and painted skiffs, all manned by an amphibious race
in Nature's suit of brown, which renders the wearers indifferent to
overturned boats, water-logged _blotos_, and collapsing rafts, though
the encouraging statements of our Malay crew as to the warmth and
shallowness of the water in case of any contretemps, is less reassuring
to the travellers who venture shoreward on the risky craft. The loan of
the captain's boat makes the visit to Dongalla an experience of
unalloyed pleasure, but the people appear morose and sullen. A
dignified youth, in purple turban and checked _sarong_, attempts to do
the honours of his native place, but his comrades, oppressed by vague
suspicions, close the heavy doors of their wooden houses, and peep
through the interstices of the bamboo shutters as we thread the narrow
alleys, escorted by the deck steward. A more genial crowd welcomes us
to the palm-groves of Palehle, where a light-hearted bodyguard of
children shows us every nook and corner of the brown _campong_, with
smiling faces and merry laughter. The heart-whole mirth of these little
savages might brighten the saddest soul. Living in the present, with no
artificial wants to create dissatisfaction, and free from the pains or
penalties of poverty, as experienced in Northern climes, the simple
life close to the heart of Nature suggests ideas of Eden's unshadowed
joy. Amid the treasures of memory garnered during the winter's
wanderings through the Malay Archipelago, the unclouded merriment which
endows these children of Nature remains as the deepest impression
stamped on the memory of the Western pilgrim. European childhood, at
the best and brightest, but faintly approaches this spontaneous gaiety,
the special attribute of untutored souls in a world of primal
innocence.

At Soemalata the steep declivities of wooded mountains enclose the
harbour, and a narrow pass leads to the gold mines, where the process
of smelting and separating the ore takes place in a primitive series of
conduits, sluices, mills, and pounding machines. The gold concession
granted by the local Rajah prospers in European hands, but the barbaric
chieftain adheres to the ancient custom of having the gold washed from
the river sand by his own slaves. The English engineer of the mines
hails a compatriot with delight, and his explanation of the complicated
machinery ends with a welcome invitation to tea in his pretty
bungalow. A solitary Englishman is frequently found stationed in the
remotest outposts of civilisation throughout the Malay Archipelago,
enduring a life of unexampled loneliness with the tenacity and
determination inherent in national character. The oft-receding vision
of a successful future inspires the dauntless heart less than a sense
of present duty, and these exiles from the social ties of nation and
kindred possess special claims on sympathy and remembrance. Lovely
lanes of palm and banana, brightened by trees of crimson poinsettia,
wind upward to the hills, and a cluster of green islets gems the blue
waters; the scarlet-stemmed Banka palm offering a glowing contrast to
the sweeping emerald of the feathery fronds. The little settlement of
Kwandang, with a gold _fabrik_ occupying a wooded islet, completes the
circuit of the western coast, for the North-Eastern Cape comprises a
distinctive province, requiring a separate chapter. Intervening
mountains, with jagged cliffs and towering summits, rise like Titanic
fortresses from the creaming surf which washes the yellow bastions,
leaving no space for the wicker _campongs_, impermanent as a child's
house of cards, but perpetually rebuilt in identical fashion, and never
developing into substantial dwellings, or adjusted on the new lines
required by varieties of environment.



THE MINAHASA.


Steaming slowly through the phosphorescent seas of the starlit night,
we anchor at dawn in the forest-lined bay of Amoerang, the principal
harbour of the Minahasa. The picturesque Northern Cape of Celebes
contains a population differing in origin and character from all other
races of the vast island, and conveys the idea of a distinctive
country. The mountain panorama of shelving ridges and fretted
promontories, breaking the outlines of the rocky coast with infinite
variety, culminates in the chiselled contours of volcanic peaks,
cutting sharply into the silvery blue of a stainless sky. Amoerang,
half-buried in sago-palms, on the green rim of the secluded haven,
shows slight resemblance to the _campongs_ generally encountered on the
western coast. Wooden cottages, though built on piles of wood or stone,
and thatched with _atap_ (plaited palm leaves) possess many features in
common with the screened and balconied dwellings of Japan. The people,
in aspect and feature, also convey suggestions of the Japanese origin
ascribed to them, for ancient traditions assert that the Minahasa was
colonised by an Asiatic tribe, driven out of Formosa by native savages,
in one of those wild raids upon the peaceful maritime population which
drove them to face the perils of an unknown sea, rather than fall into
the ruthless hands of the bloodthirsty aborigines who inhabited the
forests and mountains of the interior. Many of the hapless exiles
perished through hunger, thirst, storm, and shipwreck of their
slightly-built craft, during the long wanderings which ended as though
by chance for the survivors, in the distant Minahasa. The Malay element
in those Japanese refugees, displayed the usual characteristics of
skill in boat-building and navigation, together with that accurate
observation of natural phenomena which alone could compensate for the
lack of scientific knowledge. The women, with oblique eyes and oval
faces, wear the gay _sarong_ and white _kabaja_ customary in Eastern
Java. The men, in shapeless gowns and wide trousers, with broad hats of
battered straw on their close-cropped hair, afford a sorry spectacle of
unbecoming and disorderly attire, conveying grotesque hints of Japanese
ideas beneath the squalid ugliness overlaying them. The fishermen,
conveniently unclad for the necessities of their calling, wear only a
yellow or scarlet waist-cloth, the bright touch of colour emphasising
the deep bronze of their slight but athletic forms. The people of the
Minahasa, Christianised after the Calvinistic methods of Dutch and
German missionaries a century ago, have always been specially favoured
by the Government of Holland, and large sums are annually expended in
improving the status of this distant colony. The making of roads, the
building of schools and churches, and the improvement of social
conditions, are liberally catered for, not only for the advantage of
the Minahasa, but that no excuse may exist for any rebellion against
such paternal rule. Tribal insurrections continually recur in the great
Archipelago, where a storm in a teacup often swells into dangerous
proportions, and the peaceful adherence of the Minahasa to the powers
that be becomes an important factor in turbulent Celebes. The race, so
strangely amalgamated with alien interests, shows the apathy of a
temperament incapable of developement on foreign lines, though unable
to resist the pressure imposed upon it. The pretty _campong_ seems
silent as the grave. No native _warongs_, or restaurants, enliven the
straight roads with their merry crowds or cheerful gossip, and sellers
of food and drink, whose cries echo through the streets of Makassar,
are unknown in this northern port, where even the arrival of the
fortnightly steamer fails to excite much interest in the public mind.

A rash determination to drive across the Minahasa, and pick up the boat
at Menado, involves unimagined difficulties. Heavy waggons drawn by
brown _sappies_ (_i.e._, bullocks), which travel at the rate of two
miles an hour, suffice for native use in remote Amoerang, but at length
a dilapidated gig, with two sorry steeds harnessed in tandem fashion by
sundry bits of old rope, is produced. Having frequently experienced the
pace accomplished by many a Timor pony of emaciated and dejected
aspect, faith accepts even this unpromising team for the long drive of
thirty miles. Quaint _campongs_, with bamboo fences and curiously
arched gateways, flank the woodland road. Each little garden flames
with red poinsettia, purple convolvulus, and yellow daisies. The
latticed screens pushed back from open verandahs, show Japanese-looking
rooms, furnished with the European lamps, chairs, and tables, exported
by thousands to the Minahasa, but the same atmosphere of stagnation
broods over these quiet villages, and even the children, returning from
a bamboo schoolhouse on the edge of the forest, show the staid and
solemn demeanour of their elders. For a few miles all goes well, with
the trifling exception of occasional breakages in the countless knots
of the rope harness. The last whistle of the steamer floats upward as
she leaves her anchorage, and refusing to yield to a faint misgiving as
to the success of the present enterprise, eyes and thoughts concentrate
themselves on the increasing beauty of the mountain road, the living
emerald of the rice-fields, and the picturesque mills for husking the
grain, which give special character to this unique district of Celebes.
Suddenly the rickety conveyance comes to a full stop, and a kicking
match begins, the plunging ponies refusing to budge an inch. The
incapable Jehu implores his fare's consent to an immediate return, but
meets with an inexorable refusal, the halting Malay sentences eked out
with an unmistakable pantomime of threats and warnings. The driver's
whip, supplemented by an English umbrella, produces no effect on the
obtuse animals, which have to be led, or rather hauled, on their
unwilling way. One obstreperous steed becomes so unmanageable that it
becomes necessary to hitch him to the back of the cart, at the imminent
risk of overturning it, in his determination to thwart his companion's
enforced progress. Mile after mile the wearisome struggle continues.
Even a lumbering bullock waggon passes us again and again, in the
numerous stoppages required for fresh conflict. The endless hours of
the weary day drag on like a terrible nightmare, but a descent into a
profound ravine of these mountain solitudes at length enables the
driver to start the team at a rate which makes it impossible for them
to stop, and he vaults lightly into his place as we spin merrily
downhill. Our troubles are not over, for on the next upward grade the
old game of rearing, backing, and futile attempts at buck-jumping,
begins again. Despairing eyes rest on a thatched booth at the
roadside, containing a row of bottles hung up by a string, with the
bamboo tube for coins. Holding the ropes, and currying favour with the
ponies by leading them to a patch of grass, it becomes possible for the
boy to leave them for a sorely-needed drink of the sago-wine. The
fiendish animals try to upset the cart, and the fight recommences for
the fiftieth time, but the brown huts of a _campong_ in a cactus
thicket inspire hope, and after a furious battle in the street, to the
intense delight of the Japanese-looking people, a man comes to the
rescue with a stout pony. The boy mounts one battered steed, the other
is left behind in a hospitable stable, and we trot briskly on through
lovely scenery of forest and mountain to Kanas, at the head of the
beautiful lake of Tondano, hitherto seen in glimpses at an immense
depth between encircling peaks. Wearied almost to stupefaction by
eleven hours of a combat, after which victory seems scarcely less
ghastly than defeat, we would gladly remain for the night at the little
Rest House of Kanas, but prudence compels us to push on to Tondano, at
the other end of the lake, while a capable pony remains at disposal.
The lake road is a vista of entrancing loveliness, overhung by arching
bamboos and great sago-palms, the vanguard of the forest which clothes
the lower spurs of the purple mountain ranges, shutting off the long
blue lake from the outside world. A rudely-built _bloto_, merely the
hollowed trunk of a tree, crosses the water, with a torch flickering at
the prow, for the sun has set, and the crimson afterglow begins to fade
from the serrated crests of the opposite heights. The ripple of the
water in the reeds at the edge of the road, and the sigh of the evening
breeze, fluttering the leaves and creaking the yellow canes of the
great bamboos, alone stir the silence, which comes as a welcome relief
after the toil and excitement of the day; but alas! we have all
forgotten the perils of the road at nightfall, and in the sudden
darkness, deepened by the shadowy trees, a false step might precipitate
cart and passengers into the deep water. Any advance becomes dangerous
on the winding way, which follows every curve of the irregular shore,
so a halt is called, while the boy rides on towards some twinkling
lights denoting a lakeside _campong_. After a long wait, he returns in
triumph with three matches and a piece of flaming tow in a bottle. By
observing due precaution, we can now follow his guidance, while he
holds out the flaring light with extended arm. As we turn round the
foot of the lake into a raised causeway above fields of ripening rice,
the full moon comes up behind the sombre hills, and transfigures the
night with a sparkling flood of silver glory. We reach the white Dutch
town of Tondano as the clock strikes ten, but everyone is in bed at
this dissipated hour, and difficulty is experienced even in getting
admission to the little Hotel, though the delight of finding an
English-speaking landlord atones for a somewhat ungracious reception
after a long and painful pilgrimage, which should serve as a solemn
warning against the rash attempt to penetrate the wilds of the Minahasa
under native guidance.

Tondano, with houses and verandahs gleaming in spotless whiteness among
green spaces and luxuriant trees, appears a typical Dutch town,
incongruous but picturesque. The absolute purity and transparency of
the atmosphere give value and intensity to every shade of colour, and
the scarlet hybiscus flowers show the incandescent glow belonging
rather to lamps than to blossoms. The river Tondano forms a series of
lovely cascades below the town, situated four miles from the lake at
the present time, for the marshy flats have been reclaimed as
rice-grounds, thus somewhat diminishing the stretch of water. The steep
drive down to Menado offers a succession of lovely views. The little
port, in a nest of verdure, encircles the azure bay, where our steamer,
merely a white speck in the distance, lies at anchor. A turn of the
road discloses a glimpse of the mountain lake, a sheet of sapphire
sparkling in the morning sun, but retrospective thoughts in this
instance convey pain as well as pleasure, for "mounting ambition" has
for once "o'erleapt itself," and failure counterbalances success.
Menado, divided by the river, is inhabited by two distinct tribes of
the mysterious colonists who came from the farthest East to these
unknown shores. The ubiquitous Chinaman has found a firm footing in the
northerly port of Celebes, and the splendidly-carved dragons of a
stately temple, rich in ornaments of green jade, blue porcelain, and
elaborate brass-work, denote the important status of the wealthy
community. A busy _passer_ supplies the usual pictures of native life,
but the people of the Minahasa, here as elsewhere, lack both the gay
insouciance of the South, and the strenuous energy of the Northern
mind, the residuum of apathetic dullness, deprived of all the salient
characteristics which constitute charm and interest. European houses of
Dutch officials stand in ideal gardens of brilliant flowers and richest
foliage. The little Hotel Wilhelmina is a paradise of exotic blossoms,
but Menado, apart from a lovely situation, and the usual riot of
glorious verdure which makes every tropical weed a thing of beauty,
offers little inducement for a prolonged stay. The bay, exposed to
contrary winds and chafed by conflicting currents, tosses in perpetual
turmoil, though a long jetty diminishes the former difficulties of the
stormy passage between ship and shore. In the amber light of sunset,
the dark mountain ranges stand out with unearthly clearness. The jagged
peaks of Klabat and Soedara in the background, bringing into prominence
the grey cliffs and purple ravines of the smoking Lokon. The wonderful
scenery of the Malay Archipelago seldom lacks that element of terror
which enhances the radiant loveliness of Nature by painting it on a
tragic background of storm and cloud, the vague suggestion of
evanescence intensifying the mysterious charm with poetic significance.
The receding coast discloses a striking panorama of the mountain
heights piled one upon another, the grey towers and bastions guarding
this narrowing Cape of the Minahasa, a veritable outpost of Nature,
eternally washed by the restless seas. As the steamer rounds the savage
promontories, and threads the blue straits formed by two rocky islets
at the northern extremity, the weird and desolate landscape conveys a
strange sense of separation even from the alien humanity which peoples
the far-reaching peninsula of the Minahasa, and this northern extremity
appears a limitless waste. Chaotic masses of imperishable granite,
splintered reefs thrusting black spikes through the creaming surge, and
wind-swept cliffs of fantastic form, characterise the solemn headland,
unpainted and unsung, although the sea-girt sanctuary of Nature demands
interpretation through the terms of Art and Poetry.



GORONTALO AND THE EASTERN COAST.


The steamer's first halt on the wild eastern coast of Celebes is the
gold-mining settlement of Todok, where the Company's rustic offices of
palm-thatched bamboo border an enchanting bay, with a string of green
islets studding the shoaling blue and purple of the gleaming depths.
Two passengers disembark for the ebony plantations on the slopes of a
volcanic range, declaring itself by a slight earthquake rocking the
_atap_ shanty, where the ship's officer who tallies the cargo, offers
hospitality until the fierce heat modifies sufficiently for a stroll.

A dusty and shadeless road leads up into the wooded hills which
bound the prospect, but the _campong_, largely consisting of
recently-constructed dwellings, occupied by alien employés in the
service of the Gold Syndicate, offers no inducements for exploration,
and until the launch returns, a shadowy palm-grove by the wayside makes
a welcome retreat from the dust and glare, the creaking of innumerable
bullock-waggons, and the shouts of crew and coolies, disputing over the
loading of a raft.

The arrival at Gorontalo in the radiant dawn provides a more
interesting experience. The river which forms the beautiful harbour,
rushes through a profound ravine of the forest-clad mountains, which
descend sharply to the water's edge. The scene resembles a Norwegian
fiord, translated into tropical terms of climate and vegetation. A
narrow track climbs the ledges of a cliff behind the brown fishing
_campong_ of Liato, but a rude wharf on the opposite side affords a
less picturesque though safer landing, for the swirling currents of the
swift stream require more careful navigation than the amphibious
boatman, unembarrassed by clothing, is wont to bestow on craft or
passenger. The spirit of enterprise is also in abeyance, scotched if
not killed by the struggles of the memorable pilgrimage through the
Minahasa. The quiet haven in the shadow of the guardian hills looks an
ideal haunt of peace. A Dutch battleship lies at anchor, and the red
sails of a wide-winged _prau_ make broken reflections in the rippling
clearness of the green water. A wooden bridge crosses the river at the
narrow end of the funnel-shaped harbour, connecting it with the town in
the steaming valley, the usual medley of open _tokos_ and _atap_ huts,
supplemented by two dubious hotels, a green _aloon-aloon_, and a few
stone houses denoting the presence of the European element. The
original inhabitants of Gorontalo are of Alfoer race--dark, glum, and
forbidding. How this ancient stock, indigenous to some of the southern
islands in the Malay Archipelago, wandered from thence to distant
Celebes has not been satisfactorily accounted for. The records of
savage tribes depend on oral tradition, but the outlines of an oft-told
tale become blurred and dim during the lapse of ages, when the mental
calibre of the racial type lacks normal acumen. The graces of life are
ignored by the Alfoer woman, her mouth invariably distorted by the red
lump of betel-nut, accommodated with difficulty, and rendering silence
imperative. Her bowed shoulders become deformed with the heavy loads
perpetually borne, for the rising trade of Gorontalo supplies the men
with more congenial employment than the field work, which frequently
becomes the woman's province. A straight road between crowding palms
crosses a wide rice-plain, opening out of the cleft carved by the
mountain river, and leads to the curious Lake of Limbotto, a green mass
of luxuriant water-weeds, the dense vegetation solidifying into
floating islands of verdure, intersected by narrow channels, only
navigable to a native _bloto_ skilfully handled, for Nature alternately
builds up and disperses these flowery oases, blocking up old water-ways
and opening new ones with bewildering confusion. Buffaloes wallow
between the tangled clumps of pink lotus and purple iris, and wild
ducks nest in the waving sedges, or darken the air in a sudden flight
down the long lake. A noisy market flanks the water, and bronze
figures, in red turbans row gaily-clad women, laden with purchases, to
some distant _campong_, reached through the mazes of verdure. The
country _passer_, a shifting scene of gaudy colouring, contains greater
elements of interest than commercial Gorontalo, where the native
_campong_ loses individuality in gaining the prosaic adjuncts of a
trading centre. The lovely harbour dreams in the moonlight as we steam
slowly out of the widening estuary to pick up cargo in the great bay of
Tomini, which sweeps in a mighty curve round half the Eastern coast of
Celebes. The conical island of Oena-Oena rises sheer from the waves,
the red peak of a lofty volcano composing the apex of a green pyramid,
formed by a forest of palms. Until six years ago no anchorage for ships
was possible at this forest-clad isle, but a volcanic eruption deepened
the bay, and a thriving trade in _copra_ was initiated, for the whole
surface of Oena-Oena is clothed with a dense mass of drooping cocoanut
trees. Scattered dwellings nestle in the thick woods, but no regular
_campong_ exists in this thinly-peopled spot, a vernal Eden set in the
purple sea. The heat of the day, though intense, is everywhere tempered
by the interlacing canopies of the feathery fronds, until sunset fuses
them into the vivid transparency of green fire, and a fluttering zephyr
stirs the whispering foliage. The shy brown people, who at first hide
in their _atap_ huts at the approach of strangers, venture out to see
the last of the departing steamer, which forms the sole link between
barbarism and civilisation, and a month must elapse before any contact
with the outside world can vary the seclusion of this lonely spot, a
dreamland vision of repose. At Posso, the next port on Celebes, we land
a Dutch officer, bound for the important barracks on a hill above the
straggling _campong_, after a successful expedition against the
tree-dwellers, cannibals, and slave-traders of the interior, still sunk
in barbarism. An olive-green river, infested with crocodiles, flows
sluggishly through rank vegetation into the sea below the dilapidated
huts of the depressing native town. This forlorn outpost of military
duty involves exile from civilisation, and the risk of occasional raids
from the wild tribes of the surrounding hills.

At Parigi, canopied by spreading palms, the _atap_ houses, with bamboo
rafters strengthening the fragile walls, stand in neglected gardens,
overgrown with a tangle of flower and foliage. The low tide makes the
dangerous _bloto_ a necessity, though the hollowed tree, top heavy and
water-logged, is in imminent peril of capsizing every minute of the
long course between ship and shore. Objections to a boat upsetting in
shallow water being beyond Malay comprehension, the only way of
accomplishing the transit in safety is by a summary command that two
brown boys should immediately jump overboard to lighten the rocking
craft. Nothing loth, they swim to shore in our wake, rolling over in
the sand to dry themselves like Newfoundland dogs, and with less
embarrassment on the score of clothing. A native Queen or Maharanee
rules Parigi from her bamboo palace in the deepest recesses of the
adjacent palm-forest, but she is invisible to her subjects, and dwells
in the seclusion of _purdah_, possibly a relic of Indian origin. Her
nominal authority proves insufficient to keep the peace between the
native population and the Dutch, for Parigi has been for months in a
state of insurrection and unrest. Only a year ago a raid was made on
the Eurasian merchant's office wherein I take shelter from the noonday
sun, and two white men were attacked by a band who rushed down from the
mountains and cut off their heads. The ringleader of the assassins is
now imprisoned for life in the gaol of Batavia, no capital punishment
being permitted in the Netherlands India. An immense cargo of _copra_
and rattan fills a fleet of boats and rafts. The great stacks of cane
cause no annoyance, but the sickening smell of _copra_ (the dried and
shredded cocoanut used for oil) pervades the ship, and an occasional
cockroach of crab-like dimensions clatters across the deck in his coat
of mail from a hiding place in the unsavoury cargo. The philosophic
Hollander accepts these horrors of the tropics with undisturbed
composure, but happily for the peace of the English passenger, the
Malay "room-boy" welcomes a new idea, and becomes gradually inspired
with the ardour of the chase. Ominous clouds darken over the Bay of
Tomini as we embark once more on the rolling waters, having completed
the circuit of the vast island, possessing a coast-line of 2,500 miles.
Blue peaks and waving palms recede into the mists of falling night. We
are once more afloat on a sleeping sea, the restful monotony of wind
and wave enabling indelible impressions of each varying scene to sink
deeply into mind and memory, and preventing the too rapid succession of
travelling experiences.



A GLIMPSE OF BORNEO.


An element of uncertainty attends the cruise among the Malayan islands,
through sudden orders to include strange ports of call in the programme
of the route. During the stay at Makassar, a cable from Batavia
necessitates a flying visit to Borneo, and though the détour was made
from the western coast of Celebes, the great sister island demands a
special notice. In steaming thither through the radiant glory of an
Equatorial sunset, strange atmospheric effects denote fresh variations
of climate and temperature. The rounded horizon, which suggests the rim
of the terrestrial globe, seems within a stone's throw of the ship, and
as the crimson sun sinks below the sharply-defined curve outlined by
the sea, a glowing hearth of smouldering embers appears burning on the
edge of the water. The eastern sky blooms into vivid pink from the
reflection of this fiery incandescence, which fades only to give place
to the leaping brightness of phosphorescent waves, and the nightly
pageant of tropical skies ablaze with lambent flames of summer
lightning. Morning reveals the dark forests of mysterious Borneo,
rolling back to the misty blue of a mountain background. The pathless
jungles of teak and iron wood, inextricably tangled by ropes of liana
or ladders of rattan, latticed with creepers and wreathed with
clambering fern, make an impenetrable barrier between the settlements
of the coast and the unknown interior, where barbarism still reigns
triumphant, and "head-hunting" remains the traditional sport.
Insurmountable difficulties of transit and progress are reported, even
by the few enthusiastic botanists, who merely penetrate the outworks of
Nature's stronghold in search of rare orchids, worth more than a king's
ransom if we take into account the sacrifice of life, and the hardships
suffered in wresting these floral gems from their forest casket. Any
complete exploration of these tropical wilds seems at present beyond
human means and capacities, but even a few months of the soil and
climate of Borneo can transform a forest clearing into a wilderness of
riotous vegetation, more impassable than that woodland maze of a
century's growth encircling the palace of the Sleeping Beauty in the
loveliest of old-world fairy tales. Our present quest has no connection
with the mysteries of the interior, and only concerns itself with the
prosaic task of taking in a cargo of oil, used as the ship's fuel. We
steam into a wooded bay, beneath a hill covered with the brown _atap_
bungalows of European colonists. Colossal oil-tanks, painted red,
disfigure the shore. Each tank holds 4,000 tons of oil, 30,000 tons per
month being the usual export. Kerosene taints the air, but is
considered to be innocuous, and to drive away the curse of mosquitos.
The unimaginable and ferocious heat makes every step a terror, during a
snail's progress up a wooded road. Sun-hat and white umbrella scarcely
mitigate the scorching rays on this perilous promenade, but there is
only a day at disposal, and it cannot be wasted. Towards noon a breeze
springs up, and exploration of the long line of _tokos_ beyond the
wharves is simplified by the spreading eaves of palm-leaf thatch. A row
of workmen's dwellings forms a prosaic continuation of the _campong_,
inhabited by a mixed population, chiefly imported to Balik-Papan in the
interests of the oil trade. A chance rencontre with the Scotch doctor
of the European settlement affords an opportunity of visiting the Oil
Refinery, with the varied distillations, culminating in the great tank
of benzine, a concentration of natural forces like a liquid dynamite,
capable of wrecking the whole settlement in a moment. Endless
precautions and vigilant care alone secure the safety of Balik-Papan
from the perils incidental to the vast stores of explosive material.
The raw petroleum brought from the mines of Samarinda, farther down the
coast, by a fleet of _hoppers_ (the local steamers which ply round the
indented shore), is extracted by boring a stratum of coal known as
"antichine," and always containing indications of mineral oil. Dutch
and English Companies work this valuable product; fortunes are quickly
made, and the industrious inhabitants, absorbed in dreams of a golden
future, appear untroubled by any consciousness of metaphorically
sleeping on the brink of a volcano. Iced soda-water, and a brief
siesta, revive drooping spirits after the broiling exertions of the
morning, and as the shadows of the palm-trees lengthen on the edge of
the jungle, it becomes possible to mount the hill behind the wharf to
the picturesque bungalow of another kindly Scot, who invites me to tea.
The pretty tropical dwelling of plaited _atap_, through which every
precious breath of air can penetrate, stands in the midst of a gorgeous
thicket, composed of scarlet hybiscus and yellow Allemanda, the
splendid blossoms growing in wild luxuriance on this sandy soil. The
glare of the sun still requires the _atap_ screens to be closed on the
broad-eaved verandah, but the freshness of the evening breeze steals
into the twilight of the pretty drawing-room, the simple but refined
appointments of a restful home intensely refreshing after weeks of ship
and hotel existence. The fragrant tea, with dainty cups and saucers,
and the home-made cakes, seem almost forgotten luxuries, for the
amenities of British civilisation stop short at Singapore. A cheery
party assembles round the table, and these exiles on a foreign shore
extend the warmest of welcomes to the stray bird of passage, who will
soon leave behind only the shadowy "remembrance of a guest who tarrieth
but a day." The idea so familiar to the self-seeking spirit, that "it
is not worth while" to trouble about a passing acquaintance, finds no
echo in this hospitable coterie. To the visitor, the bright hours of
that afternoon, ten thousand miles away from England, remain as an
evergreen memory of genuine human sympathy, the true "touch of Nature"
linking hearts and lives. A long walk through the encroaching jungle
fills up the day. The narrow track skirts dark depths of matted
foliage, with strange bird-calls echoing through the gloom. The
phenomenal growth of vegetation in Borneo is so rapid that a month's
neglect in cutting back branches, and rooting up masses of strangling
creeper, would entirely obliterate the path. In six months a tree,
supposed to be cut down beyond possibility of resurrection, lately shot
up to the height of seventeen feet, with a girth of several inches in
diameter, so tenacious is the exuberant life of this irrepressible
vegetation, eternally renewing itself in immortal strength and primeval
freshness. From the edge of the sombre jungle the azure bay, set in the
dark frame of forest and gilded with sunset light, resembles a Scotch
loch at midsummer, and the poignant counterpart brings a sigh to the
lips of my companion, exiled for years from his Highland home. A long
slow river, navigable for native craft, widens into an estuary as it
approaches the sea, through the shadowy and impenetrable mazes of the
virgin woods traversed by the winding waterway. The Dyaks and other
wild aborigines of Borneo still haunt the forest depths, though the
fringe of civilisation drives them further inland, and some of the
local Sultans begin to fraternise with the settlers, who alone can
develope the riches of the extensive island. At present the northern
territory of Sarawak, successfully governed by an alien race, finds no
adequate counterpart on the island, though coast towns, springing up at
wide intervals, open small districts to the enterprise of the European
world. Balik-Papan, rising tier above tier on the dark hillside, and
brilliant with a multitude of flashing lights, looks picturesque as
Naples itself, when we steam away in the gathering gloom, and the
dazzling illumination, reflected in the tranquil sea, appears a
miraculous transfiguration. Oil tanks and warehouses, refineries and
factories, vanish under the veil of night, and only a fairy vision of
unearthly brightness remains as a final recollection of our brief visit
to Borneo.



THE MOLUCCAS.



TERNATE, BATJAN, AND BOEROE.


The Birds of Paradise (known by the Malay as _Manuk Devata_, "birds of
God") were traditionally represented as lured from their celestial home
by the spicy perfume of these enchanted isles, from whence perpetual
incense steals across the sea, and rises heavenward with intoxicating
fragrance. A Dutch naturalist in 1598 says, "These birds of the sun
live in air, and never alight until they die, having neither feet nor
wings, but fall senseless with the fragrance of the nutmeg." Linnaeus
asserts that "they feed on the nectar of flowers, and show an equal
variety of colour, blue and yellow, orange and green, red and violet."
Portuguese naturalists also represent the _passaros de sol_ as
footless, their mode of flight concealing the extremities. Birds of
Paradise were articles of tribute from native chiefs, and a sacred
character belonged to the feathered tribe, wheeling between earth and
sky above the spicy groves of the alluring Moluccas. This island group,
for ages the coveted prize of European nations, exercised an
irresistible attraction on Arabia and Persia. Various expeditions were
organised, and in the ninth century Arab sages discovered the healing
virtues of nutmeg and mace, as anodynes, embrocations, and condiments.
A record remains of a certain Ibn Amram, an Arabian physician, whose
uncontrolled passion for the _nux moschata_ overthrew his reason. The
story, continually quoted as a warning to subsequent explorers of the
Spice Islands, has apparently kept his memory green, for no previous
details of his career have come down to us. Eastern spices were
favourite medicines in Persia during the tenth century, and fifty years
later the _karoun aromatikon_ was added to the Pharmacopeia of Europe.
In A.D. 1400, Genoa and Barcelona became the principal spice markets,
though the attention of Northern Europe had been directed to the
Moluccas by those voyages of Marco Polo which, especially in lands of
fog and snow, fired popular imagination with myriad visions of realised
romance. Camöens, in the Lusiad, chanted the praises of the _verde noz_
in those poetic groves, which he regarded as a new garden of
Hesperides, when the magic lure of an untravelled distance, and the
dreamful wonder of an untracked horizon, wove their spells over the
mind of an awakening world. Powers of observation and comparison were
still untrained and untried; superstition was rife, and a necromantic
origin was frequently ascribed to the unfamiliar products of the mystic
East. Portugal, in the zenith of her maritime power, became the first
European trader in the Southern Seas, and in A.D. 1511 Albuquerque
reached the Moluccas, but was quickly followed by the Spaniards under
their great Emperor Charles V. Incessant war continued for the
possession of "the gold-bearing trees," until Spain and Portugal,
united by a common danger, combined their forces to exclude the
northern nations from any share in the coveted spoil. The rage for
spices spread throughout Europe, and kindled a fire of international
animosity which lasted for centuries. In A.D. 1595 the unwieldy Dutch
ships started on a perilous voyage round the Cape, to trace the unknown
path to the mysterious Moluccas, described as "odorous with trees of
notemuge, sending of their fragrance across the sea on the softe breath
of the south winde," and Holland, at the climax of her power,
eventually secured the monopoly of spices. The islands so fiercely
contested were twice owned by England, but finally relinquished in that
readjustment of power necessitated by the fall of Napoleon. Although
the Moluccas were declared open to the flag of every friendly nation in
1853, it was not until twenty years later that every vestige of
monopoly disappeared, and the Spice Islands were liberated from the
political chicanery of rival Powers. Peace brooded at last over the
sea-girt Elysium, where "Nature tries her finest touch," and in the
green shades of these "ultimate islands," the tumult of the world died
away into silence. Old German and Flemish ballads borrow quaint
anachronisms from that sylvan sanctuary of incense-laden sweetness,
which coloured the thoughts and dreams of contemporary poets, and added
exotic traits to their descriptions of northern scenery. "The nutmeg
boughs in the Garden of Love," droop over the fair-haired Teutonic
maiden in her home amid German pine-forests, and she gathers "the
scented fruit of gold," as a worthy _gage d'amour_ for her stalwart
Saxon lover, with that picturesque incongruity of poetical license
permitted to mediæval versifiers. The canvas of many an early painter
depicts the sacred figures of Madonna and Child on an incongruous
background of German or Italian landscape, and the mediæval poet seldom
hesitates to enrich his verse with whimsical allusions, full of
fantastical inaccuracy, but valuable as revelations of current thoughts
and ideas. Only a slight sketch of the prolonged conflict waged for
centuries round the nutmeg groves of the remote Moluccas is possible in
this little record, but even the briefest account of the Spice Islands
demands mention of evidence proving the value attached to the precious
"fruit of gold," then outweighing every other product of tropical
climes in popular estimation.

Three volcanic peaks tower up before us on reaching Ternate, the first
of the Molucca group. This mountain chain includes types representing
every period of volcanic agency. The smoking cone of Ternate slopes in
sweeping contours to the blue strait unbroken by bay or creek, and
smaller satellites flank the central height, grooved by wooded gorges.
The serrated ridge of Tidore, the opposite island, culminates in the
red pinnacle formed by a fresh pyramid of lava above the ruined wall of
a broken crater, the gap creating a sheltered inlet, where a fishing
boat with yellow sails skims like a huge butterfly across the
shimmering purple of the flowing tide. The fretted turquoise of the
further range rises on the great island of Halmaheira, inhabited by an
Alfoer population of Papuan origin, but beyond the scope of the present
cruise. The port of Ternate, on the southern slope of the volcano,
shows the pointed gables of palm-thatched dwellings rising from masses
of glorious greenery, brightened by purple torrents of bougainvillea,
or golden-flowered ansena trees, wreathed and roped with a gorgeous
tangle of many-coloured creepers. The breath of heavily-scented flowers
mingles with the pungent sweetness of clove and nutmeg. An avenue of
dadap trees skirts the shore, with varied foliage of amber and carmine.
The dark figures sauntering in the shade, and clad in rose-colour,
azure, or orange, add deeper notes to the symphony of colour, only
marred by the white-washed Dutch conventicle, like an emphatic protest
against Nature's response to her Creator. Ruined arches and pillars of
white Portuguese houses, standing in a wilderness of verdure amid
tumbled heaps of stone and concrete, testify to the earthquakes which
have continually wrecked the little port. The mixed population includes
Chinese, Arabs, and Malays. The original native race also contains
Malay, Dutch, and Portuguese elements, European descent resulting here
as elsewhere in darkening the native brown of the pure-blooded
Ternatian to ebony blackness in the second and succeeding generations.

The discovery of an English-speaking schoolmistress simplifies the
day's itinerary, which begins with the thatched palace or _kedaton_ of
the Sultan. The tiered roofs of the royal _Messighit_ rise above the
_atap_ dwellings of the rustic Court, still professing a slack
Mohammedanism. The Dutch territory includes the Chinese and Oriental
_campongs_ divided by Fort Orange, but though the palmy days of
Ternate's hereditary Ruler have long since passed away, he retains a
shadowy authority over a limited area. Sir Francis Drake, on one of his
romantic voyages, touched at Ternate in the early days of the 16th
century, and in graphic words records his amazement at "the fair and
princely show" of this barbaric potentate, who sat robed in cloth of
gold, beneath a gold-embroidered canopy, and wore "a crown of plaited
golden links." Chains of diamonds and emeralds clasped his swarthy
neck, and on the royal right hand "there shone a big and perfect blue
turky." This regal splendour was attained by monopoly of the Spice
Trade, the incalculable profits inducing Europeans to exchange fortunes
of gold and jewels with native magnates. The Dutch, when seizing the
islands, often compelled the local Sultans to destroy acres of
spice-bearing trees, in order to concentrate the focus of commerce. The
thriving industries of _copra_, rattan, and _damar_ (the gum used in
making varnish) were increased tenfold by the abolition of private
spice-trading, and by emancipation of the slaves in 1861, when the
Dutch Government placed the liberated population under police
surveillance, compelling each individual to prove honest acquirement of
the slender means necessary for subsistence. Contact with the world
begins to sharpen native intelligence, already heightened by the fusion
of European blood with the island race, and external cleanliness being
enforced systematically in Dutch territory, the concrete cottages which
alternate with the thatched dwellings are dazzlingly white, the
diligent sweeping and watering at fixed hours helping to energise the
indolent people of the Moluccas. The warm air, redolent of spices and
flowers, the riotous profusion of richest foliage, and the depth of
colour in sea and sky, imbue Ternate with the glow and glamour of
fairyland. Bright faces and gay songs manifest that physical _joie de
vivre_ of which Northern nations know so little. The grass screens
hanging before the open houses are drawn to keep off the burning sun,
but the twang of lutes (a relic of the Portuguese occupation), and the
sound of laughter echo from the dusky interiors. A forest of mangos,
mangosteens, bread-fruit, and cocoa-palms, extends between the town and
Fort Teloko, the first Portuguese stronghold, and now a rocky outpost
of Fort Orange, the headquarters of the Dutch troops. Beyond shadowy
nutmeg groves lies the Laguna, a volcanic lake between mountain and
sea. In the poetic Moluccas one draws closer to the warm heart of
Nature than in any other part of the vast Archipelago, for the great
Mother seems calling her children to rest, as she raises the veil from
her inmost shrine and discloses her altar of peace. The presence of the
smoking volcano which dominates the landscape, supplies that poignant
note which, like a minor chord, accentuates the sweetness of the
melody. "Gather ye roses while ye may," sounds Nature's admonition to
humanity amid the lavish loveliness of blossom and foliage, clothing
the mysterious height which hides the smouldering fountains of eternal
fire beneath the vivid splendours of tropical vegetation. The
population of Ternate--native, Malay, Dutch, and half-caste--throngs
the wharf; the pretty schoolmistress, in spotless muslin, waves a
smiling farewell. Though we are to each other but as "ships that pass
in the night," the memory of cheery words and gracious deeds throws
rays of light across the surging seas, and the golden cord of kindness
anchors heart to heart. Passengers are few from these remote parts. A
Dutch officer, with a half-caste wife and two unruly children, whose
violent outbreaks would even give points to the juvenile English of
British India, are returning from a three years' exile at Ternate. The
incompetence of Malay nurses is equalled by the maternal indifference
to kicking and squealing, which threatens pandemonium for the remainder
of the voyage. At the last moment the native Sultan of Batjan embarks
for his island home, after commercial negotiations in Ternate, for this
native prince, a keen-faced man in European dress and scarlet turban,
trades largely in _damar_, the basis of his wealth. When at anchor next
morning in the wooded bay of Batjan, the green State Barge of his
Highness, with drums beating and banners flying, flashes through the
water, the blades of the large green oars shaped like lotus-leaves. A
horse's head carved at the prow, and a line of floating pennants--red,
black, and white--above the gilded roof of the deck-house, enhance the
barbaric effect of the gaudy boat, the brown rowers clad in white,
with gay scarves and turbans.

Although our ship possesses a launch, various modes of landing are
required by the vagaries of the tide, the outlying reefs, and the
position of the ports. A wobbling erection of crossed oars, a plank
insecurely poised on the shoulders of two men, a rocking _bloto_, and
an occasional wade to shore, with shoes and stockings in hand, vary the
monotony of the proceedings. Landing at Batjan is accomplished in a
chair, borne aloft on two woolly black heads, but the shore, being cut
off by a crowd of fishing craft, can only be reached by sundry
scrambles over intermediate boats. The Sultan's modest mansion stands
in the midst of the palm-thatched _campong_, ostensibly guarded by a
grey fort, among rustling bamboos and tall sugar-canes. A friendly
native offers me a palm-leaf basket, filled with nutmeg sprays of
glossy leaves and yellow fruit from a roadside plantation, and a tribe
of children, dancing along through the delicious shade of a palm-grove,
leads the way to a point of view on a green knoll, with merry laughter
and eager gesticulation. Blue mountain crests soar above dark realms of
virgin forest, where the sombre conifers exude the precious _damar_,
which glues itself to the red trunks in shining lumps often of twenty
pounds' weight, or sinks deeply into the soft soil, from whence the
solidified gum needs excavation. The _damar_, pounded and poured into
palm-leaf tubes, serves for the torches of the fishermen, and for the
lighting of the dusky native houses. Batjan--rich in gold, copper, and
coal--awaits full development of the mineral treasures hidden in the
mountains of the interior. The island was colonised in early days by a
band of wandering Malays, who exchanged the perils of the sea for the
tropical abundance of this unknown anchorage, sheltered within the
reefs of the lagoon-like bay. If an aboriginal element existed in
Batjan, it probably died out or mingled with the immigrant race, which
broke off from the main body of the nomadic Malays, and formed one of
the numerous sub-divisions of the stock eventually planted on almost
every island and continent of the vast Pacific. The weaving of a bark
cloth, stained with the red juice of water-plants, suggests an industry
of these early days. The native cuisine still includes the unfamiliar
Malay delicacy of flying fox cooked in spice, and the hereditary skill
in hunting finds endless satisfaction in forests abounding with deer,
wild pig, and edible birds. A touch of barbarism lends a charm to
mysterious Batjan, and the marked individuality which belongs to every
portion of the Molucca group is nowhere more apparent than in this
island, which lies on the borderland of civilisation without losing the
distinctive character stamped upon it by the influences of an
immemorial past.

Crescent-shaped Boeroe, where difficulties in landing involve launch,
_bloto_, and paddling through a long reach of shallow water to a black
swamp, possesses a commercial rather than an artistic value, being the
only place in the Archipelago which exports eucalyptus oil, locally
known as _kajopoetah_. A fleet of _praus_, with graceful masts of
bending bamboo, surrounds the steamer, the aromatic cargo packed in
long bamboo cases. The head-man of the _campong_, lightly attired in
his native brown, with a few touches of contrasting colour in scarf and
turban, acts as escort through a maze of weedy paths, and across bamboo
bridges in various stages of dilapidation to a couple of dreary
villages. The religious interests of Boeroe are represented by two
ruinous _Messighits_, and a deplorable Dutch conventicle. Some Hindu
element underlies native idiosyncracy, for nearly every forehead bears
a white prayer-mark, but the unchanging conservatism of localities
almost untouched by the lapse of Time, often retains symbolic forms
when their original meaning is entirely forgotten, and the lack of
missionary or educational enterprise among the Dutch exercises a
paralysing effect on the small communities of distant islands. Only a
relative poverty belongs to a clime where the shaking of a sago-palm
provides a large family with rations for three months, but the physical
energies of Boeroe have ebbed to a point where "desire fails," and the
unsatisfactory conditions of life meet for the most part with apathetic
acceptance. The marshy coast abounds with harmless snakes, but these
gruesome inmates of the tropical morass seldom leave their
hiding-places before sunset. The presence of the steamer awakens a
faint simulacrum of life and interest in sleepy Boeroe, and a native
woman, in the rusty black calico wherewith Dutch Calvinism counteracts
the Eastern love of glowing colours, brings a rickety chair from her
dingy hut, and sets the precious possession under a shadowy nutmeg-tree
in the village street. A little crowd assembles, for local excitements
are few, and the Malay phrase-book, an inseparable companion, aids in
carrying on a halting conversation, eked out with signs and facial
contortions. No school is found on Boeroe, and the simple people assert
with submissive sadness that nothing is done for them. The tone of
regret suggests an underlying consciousness of the hopeless ignorance
inevitable under the conditions of their narrow lot. The watery plain,
covered with tangled verdure, extends to the foot of the twin peaks
which merge into a low range of wooded hills, their lower slopes
glistening with the grey-green foliage of the great _kajopoetah_ trees.
The writhing roots of screw-palms rise above the green marshes, and
patches of tobacco alternate with ripening millet, but every crop seems
allowed to degenerate into unpruned disorder, and the feeble attempts
at cultivation soon lapse into the surrounding wilderness. The ruddy
trunk of the candelabra-tree towers above the ferns and oil-palms of
the tall undergrowth, the glossy sword-like leaves, often ten feet
long, being woven into the _cocoyas_, or sleeping mats, peculiar to
Boeroe. The whistle of the steamer proves a welcome summons from this
melancholy island, a solitary exception to the divine beauty and
irresistible witchery of the Molucca group.



AMBON.


The fiord-like Bay of Ambon flows into the heart of the fragrant Clove
Island, between the peninsulas of Heitor and Léitemor, which gradually
ascend from the harbour's mouth until their heights of glowing green
merge into wooded mountains, behind the white town of Amboyna. This old
European settlement ranks as the tiny capital of the Molucca group.
_Praus_ and fishing smacks dot the blue inlet with tawny sails and
curving masts, the local craft varied by a fantastic barque from the
barbarous Ké isles, with pointed yellow beak and plume of crimson
feathers at the prow, suggesting some tropical bird afloat upon the
tide. The glossy darkness of the clove plantations enhances the paler
tints of the prevailing foliage, and the virginal tints of the sylvan
scenery indicate a climate of perpetual spring. Thatched roofs, and
walls of plaited palm-leaf, stand among white-washed cottages of coral
concrete, for low houses, or slight material, afford comparative
security against collapse by earthquake. The brown population throngs
the pier, and a little fleet of _dug-outs_ escorts the steamer through
the bay with gay songs and merry laughter, for the lively Ambonese
value every link that binds them to the outside world, and this is
their gala day. Bold, eager, craving for foreign intercourse, and
possessing the quickened intelligence due to the mixture of Dutch and
Portuguese blood with the native strain, a roving spirit of adventure
counteracts the lazy independence of a life where daily needs are
supplied without exertion. The sea swarms with fish, the woods teem
with sago, and cultivation of the clove procures extra wages when any
special purpose requires them. The Portuguese who colonised Ambon, in
the zenith of their maritime power, were of vigorous stock, and the
mental heritage of the island was permanently enriched by elements
derived from a foreign source.

The Ambonese soldiers of the Netherlands India manifest a courageous
and warlike character; their rate of payment equals that of their
European brothers-in-arms, and in the raids or skirmishes frequent
throughout the wild districts of Celebes and Sumatra they play a
spirited part. The burghers of Ambon show more of the Dutch element in
their composition. The island, Christianised in the dreary mode of
Calvinistic Holland, accepts in half-hearted fashion the creed so
incongruous with tropical Nature. Dutch missionaries, waging aimless
war against brightness and colour, arrayed their brown converts in
funereal gloom. The Sunday attire of the men consists of black calico
coats down to the heels, and flopping black trousers. The women wear a
shapeless gown of the same shabby and shiny material, with a white
scarf dangling from the left arm. These blots on the brilliancy of the
scene produce a curious impression when approaching the wharf, where
the native bronze of children and coolies, the blue robes of Chinamen,
and the gay turbans of Mohammedans, blend harmoniously with the scheme
of colour in flower and foliage. The _praus_ which follow in our wake
make ready the rustic Malay anchor, a forked branch of stout timber,
strengthened by twisted rattan, which also secures the stone
cross-piece. This relic of a distant past can scarcely have changed
since the days when the wandering tribe first launched upon the blue
waters of the Pacific, in that mysterious voyage which moulded the
destinies of the Malay race. A rudimental feeling for art co-exists
with imperfect civilisation, and elaborate carving adorns rude skiffs,
floats of fishing lines, and even wooden beaters of the clay used in
native pottery. A dervish, in turban of flaming orange and garb of
green and white, beats a huge drum in the pillared court of a large
mosque, for the followers of the Prophet are numerous, and though the
usual deadly conventicle occupies a conspicuous place, it produces no
effect on the Arab element. The son of the Dutch pastor who, after his
grim fashion, Christianised the former generation, proves better than
his condemnatory creed, and acts as personal conductor to the sights of
Amboyna. After a rest in the flower-wreathed verandah of his home, and
a chat with his kindly half-caste wife, we visit the gilded and
dragon-carved mansion of a leading Chinese merchant, friendly,
hospitable, and delighted to exhibit his household gods, both in
literal and figurative form. A visit to the Joss Temple follows,
liberally supported by this smiling Celestial, whose zeal and charity
may perchance plead for him in that purer sanctuary not made with
hands, and as yet unrevealed to his spiritual sight. The appalling
green and vermilion deities who guard the temple courts, indicate fear
as the chosen handmaid of faith in this grotesque travesty of religion,
but the costly tiling of violet and azure, the rich gilding of the
curling eaves terminating in scarlet dragons, and the deeply-chiselled
ebony, falling like a veil of thick black lace before the jade and
porphyry shrines, prove that even the despised Chinaman offers of his
best to the Divinity dimly apprehended by his darkened soul.

The large Malay School of Amboyna manifests an educational position in
advance of the smaller islands, and knowledge of the wider world
beyond the Archipelago stimulates the spirit of enterprise inherited in
different degrees and varying conditions, both from Malay and
Portuguese ancestry.

A dilapidated carriage is chartered with difficulty, as only three
vehicles belong to the island, and the driver evidently expects his
skeleton steed to collapse at any pace quicker than a walk. The green
lanes, with their hedges of scarlet hybiscus overhung by the feathery
foliage of tamarind and bamboo, wind along the shore, and penetrate
into the depths of the hills. Rustling sago-palms sway their tall
plumes on the mountain side, and shadow luxuriant clove gardens, their
pungent aroma mingling with nutmeg and cinnamon to steep the soft
sea-wind in a wealth of perfume. European houses of white stone nestle
among palm and tamarind, the broad seats flanking the central door, and
the bulging balconies of old Dutch style recalling the 16th century
dwellings on the canal banks of distant Holland, but the crow-stepped
gable here gives place to the flat roof. Every green garden contains a
refuge of interwoven _gaba-gaba_ stalks, as a retreat during
earthquakes, when the overthrow of the flimsy arbour would entail no
injury, though it serves as a shelter from the torrential rains which
often accompany volcanic disturbances. A wayside stall of palm-thatched
bamboo provides _sageroe_ for thirsty pilgrims. This fermented beverage
often excites the Ambonese nature to frenzy, though only made from the
juice of the _arên_ or sugar palm. The brown dame who presides over the
bamboo buckets, in her eagerness to honour a white customer, wipes an
incredibly dirty tumbler on her gruesome calico skirt before dipping
the precious glass into the foaming pail, and tastes the draught by way
of encouragement. With some difficulty she is induced to wash the
tumbler, and to omit the last reassuring ceremony. The _sageroe_, sweet
and refreshing, gains tonic properties from an infusion of quassia,
which sharpens the flavour and strengthens the compound, packed in
bamboo cases or plaited palm-leaf bags for transport to the
neighbouring islands. A grey fort, and weather-worn Government offices,
flank the green _aloon-aloon_ of Amboyna, surrounded by tamarind
avenues. The Dutch Resident finds ample employment, owing to the mania
for litigation among the Ambonese. The honour of appearing before a
Court of Justice is eagerly sought, and imaginary claims or grievances
are constantly invented in order to satisfy the ambition for publicity.
A modest and retiring temperament forms no part of native equipment,
and the slight veneer of Christianity, in the crudest phase of Dutch
Protestantism, increases the aggressive tendency. The missionary
agencies of Calvinistic Holland seem incapable of practical sympathy
with the island people; but half a loaf is better than no bread, and
in any form of Christian faith the Heavenly Husbandman scatters grains
of wheat among the tares, that all His wandering children may reap a
share of harvest gold even from a stubborn and sterile soil.

Amboyna shows signs of commercial prosperity in the crowded _passer_
and the busy Chinese _campong_, for the enterprising Celestial forms an
important element of the mercantile community in the Clove Island.
Three memorial tablets erected in front of the hoary fort, the bare
Dutch church, and the crumbling guard-house, record the worthy name of
Padrugge, a Dutch Governor who restored Amboyna after complete
destruction by a violent earthquake, that ever-haunting terror within
the great volcanic chain of the Malay Archipelago. The steep acclivity
behind the palm-shaded park of the Residency contains a stalactite
grotto, infested by a multitude of bats, which cling to the sparkling
pendants of the fretted roof, unless disturbed by the Ambonese coolies,
who regard them as culinary delicacies, and catch them in this ancient
breeding-place, with a noise which brings down the terrified creatures
into unwelcome proximity, cutting short any attempts at exploration,
and causing rash intruders to beat a hasty retreat.

In the hush of dawn, when the intensity of calm steals colour as well
as sound from the motionless waters, we embark on an expedition to the
_Zeetuinen_, or Sea Gardens, the fairy world of the coral reefs,
revealed through the magic mirror of the watery depths. As we gaze
steadily through the silvery blue of the glassy sea, a misty vision of
vague outline and shifting colour materialises into an enchanted
forest, and appears rising towards the surface. Coral trees, pink and
white, gold and green, orange and red, wave interlacing branches of
lace-like texture and varying form, above the blue water-ways which
divide the tremulous masses of rainbow-tinted foliage. The sinuous
channels expand at intervals into quiet pools, bordered with azure and
purple sea-stars, or studded with clumps of yellow lilies, spotted and
striped with carmine. A circle of rock, enclosing a miniature lake,
blazes with rose and scarlet anemones, and the boat, floating over the
wilderness of marine vegetation, pauses above a coral growth, varied in
form as any tropical woodland. Majestic trees, of amber and emerald
hue, stand with roots muffled in fading fern, or sunk in perforated
carpets of white sponge, and huge vegetable growths or giant weeds,
lustrous with metallic tints of green and violet, fill clefts and
ravines of coral rock. A grove of sea-palms mimics the features of the
upper world, as though Nature obeyed some mysterious law of form, lying
behind her operations, to regulate expression and bring order out of
chaos. Giant bunches of black and mauve grapes, like the pictured
spoils of the Promised Land, lie on soft beds of feathery moss, but the
familiar greens of the velvety carpet shade into orange and pink. A
weird marine plant shoves long black stems, crowned with a circle of
azure blue eyes, which convey an uncanny sensation of being regarded
with sleepless vigilance by mysterious sentinels, transformed and
spellbound in ocean depths. Tree-fern and hart's-tongue show verdant
fronds, flushed with autumnal red or gold, and a dense growth of starry
flowers suggests a bed of many-coloured tulips. Dazzling fish dart
through the crystal depths. A shoal of scarlet and green parrot-fish
pursue a tribe striped with blue and orange. Gold-fish flash like
meteors between uplifted spears of blood-red coral, and the glittering
scales of myriads, splashed with ruby, or flecked with amethyst,
reflect the colours of the gorgeously-frilled and rosetted anemones in
parterres between red coral crags. Tresses of filmy green floating from
the mouth of a cavern, suggest a mermaid's hair, and her visible
presence would scarcely add to the wonders in this under-world of
glamour and mystery. Shells, pink and pearly, brown and lilac, scarlet
and cobalt, strew the flower-decked floor with infinite variety,
concave and spiral, ribbed and fluted, fretted and jagged--the satin
smoothness of convoluted forms lying amid rugged shapes bristling with
spines and needles. We gaze almost with awe at the lovely vision of a
dainty Nautilus, sailing his fairy boat down a blue channel fringed
with purple and salmon-coloured anemones, beneath a hedge of rosy
coral. The shimmering sail and carven hull of iridescent pearl skim the
water with incredible swiftness, and tack skilfully at every bend of
the devious course, not even slackening speed to avoid collision with a
lumbering star-fish encountered on the way. These submarine Gardens
contain the greatest natural collection of anemones, coral beds,
shells, and fish, discovered in the ocean world. The richest treasures
of Davy Jones's Locker lie open to view, as the boat glides through the
ever-changing scenery mirrored in the transparent sea. Opalescent
berries resemble heaps of pearls, and the lemon stalks of marine sedge
gleam like wedges of gold in the crystalline depths. The long oars
detach pinnacles of coral like tongues of flame, and a cargo of
seaweed, shells, and anemones, fills the boat as each enchanted grotto
contributes a quota of treasure trove, but the vivid colouring fades
apace when the sea-born flora leaves the native element, and the deep
blue eyes, gazing from their dark stems with weird human effect, lose
their radiance in the upper world.

We land at the pretty valley of Halong, where a rippling brook
traverses a wood of sago-palms, and falls in a white cascade over the
rocks of a sheltered bathing-pool, screened by green curtains of banana
and tall mangosteens, laden with purple fruit. Makassar-trees rain
their yellow blossoms into the water, cloves fill the air with pungent
fragrance, and lychees droop over the clear current. A melancholy Malay
song floats up from the sea, but the sad sweet notes only accentuate
the haunted silence of the fairy glen, with an echo from that distant
past which breathes undying music round these enchanted isles. Woodland
shadows and wayside palms disclose the sweeping horse-shoe curves of
numerous Chinese tombs, the white stone elaborately carved and covered
with hieroglyphics. Plumy cocoanut and tremulous tamarind wave over the
last resting-places of these exiles from the Holy Land of the Celestial
Empire, for the second generation established on an alien soil is
forbidden to seek burial in China. The so-called _Paranak_ of the Malay
Archipelago frequently marries a native wife, and, as purity of race
becomes destroyed, ancestral obligations lose their power even over the
mind of the most conservative people in the world.

The woods of Ambon teem with the abundant bird-life peculiar to the
Moluccas. An exquisite kingfisher, with golden plumage and emerald
throat, darts across the stream, and the scarlet crests of green
parrots resemble tropical flowers, glowing amidst the verdant foliage
hardly distinguishable from the fluttering wings of the feathered
tribe, which includes twenty-two species indigenous to the islands.
The megapodius or mound-maker, an ash-coloured bird about the size of a
small fowl, grasps sand or soil in the hollow of a powerful claw, and
throws it backwards into mounds six feet high, wherein the eggs are
deposited, to be hatched by this natural incubator, through the heat of
the vegetable matter contained in the rubbish heap. The young birds
work their way through the mound, and run off at once into the forest,
where they start on an independent career. They emerge from their
birthplace covered with thick down and provided with fully-developed
wings. The maternal instinct of the megapodius ceases with the laying
of eggs, and, having supplied a safe cradle for the rising generation,
she takes no further thought for her precocious progeny, capable of
securing a livelihood in the unknown world from the moment of their
first appearance in public.

A merry group, half-hidden in the shadows of clustering sago-palms,
gathers the harvest of precious grain, the pith of a large tree
producing thirty bundles, each of thirty pounds weight. The baking of
the sago-cakes made from this lavish store occupies two women for five
days, and the housekeeping cares of the largest family only need
quarterly consideration in this island of plenty, where the struggle
for the necessaries of existence is unknown and unimaginable. Leisure
and liberty, those priceless gifts which can only be attained where
the pressure of poverty is unfelt, serve valuable purposes in Ambonese
hands, for the European energies fused into the native race prevent
mental stagnation, and spur tropical indolence to manifold activities.
A variety of thriving industries belong to this far-off colony.
Mother-of-pearl shells, and _bêche-de-mer_ (the sea-slug of Chinese
cuisine) supplement the important export of the cloves, the speciality
of Ambon, chosen by the East India Company as the sole place of
cultivation for this spice-bearing tree, when the system of monopoly
extirpated the clove gardens of the other islands. Vases, mats, and
miniature boats, of fringed and threaded cloves, are offered as
fantastic souvenirs of Amboyna, and the spirit of the place seems
imprisoned in these tiny curios which revive so many haunting memories
of the romantic island.

Nominal adherence to Dutch Calvinism fails to repress the natural
instincts of a gay and pleasure-loving race. The national dance known
as _Menari_, and often performed on the shore in honour of the outgoing
steamer, no longer satisfies Ambonese requirements, with the slow
gyrations and studied postures of Oriental tradition. The eager and
passionate temperament finds truer expression in the walzes and galops
of European origin, known as _dansi-dansi_, enthusiastically practised
on those festive occasions, when the full dress of funereal black and
white seems specially inappropriate to the wild abandon of the
merry-making populace. In sunny Amboyna the cowl does not make the
friar, and the last recollection of the little Moluccan capital is a
vision of whirling figures and twanging lutes at the water's edge,
while the receding steamer furrows the milky azure of the land-locked
bay. The vivid green of one palm-clad shore burns in the gold of
sunset, but the eastern side lies veiled in shadow, and as the
sheltered inlet gives place to the open sea, the luminous
phosphorescence of the Southern ocean bathes the rocky bastions of
enchanted Ambon in waves of liquid fire. A strange history belongs to
the physical conformation of volcanic shores, alternately raised and
depressed by the agitation of earth and sea. The coast-line has varied
from time to time; straits have become lakes, islands have severed or
united, occasionally rising suddenly from the waves, or vanishing in
the bosom of the deep. Geologists assert that the Malay Archipelago was
originally thrown off by volcanic action from Asia and Australia, and
that an interchange of animal and vegetable life has frequently taken
place. Hurricanes have uprooted forest trees, and floods have borne
them out to sea, the tide eventually washing them up on the shores of
distant islands. A fresh growth of foreign vegetation was thus
inaugurated, as these sylvan colonists struck their saplings into an
alien soil. Insects, preserved by the bark, propagated themselves in
new surroundings, and seeds drifting on the waves, or clinging to roots
and fibres, wreathed unfamiliar shores with exotic flowers. Animal
migration has frequently been caused by natural catastrophes, and to
birds directing their swift flight by faculties now attributed to keen
observation rather than to unreasoning instinct, the change of locality
was infinitely simplified. In the Moluccas we may read a compendium of
the wide-spread history which applies to the vast regions comprised in
the mighty Archipelago. The doctrine of earthly changes and chances,
too often accepted as a mere figure of speech, is here recognised as a
stern reality; the tragedies of destruction repeat themselves through
the ages, the laboratories of Nature eternally forge fresh
thunderbolts, and the fate of humanity trembles in the balance.
Meanwhile a profusion of flowers wreathes the sacrificial altars, the
fairest fruits ripen above the thin veil which hides the fountains of
volcanic fire, and the sweetest spices of the world breathe incense on
the air. The uncertain tenure of earthly joys gives them redoubled zest
and poignancy, the passionate love of life becomes intensified by the
looming shadows of Death, and the light glows with clearer radiance
against the blackness of the menacing thunder-cloud.



BANDA.


The exquisite islands of Banda, dominated by the stately volcano of
Goenoeng Api (the mountain of fire), form the climax of the enchanting
Moluccas. Contour and colour reach their utmost grace and softest
refinement in this ideal spot, a priceless jewel resting on the heart
of the Malay Archipelago.

The mists of dawn have scarcely lifted their gossamer veils from the
dreaming sea, when the pinnacled rocks of Rum and Aye, the outposts of
the Banda group, pierce the swathing vapours. The creamy cliffs of
Swangi (the Ghost Island), traditionally haunted by the spirits of the
departed, show their spectral outlines on the northern horizon, and the
sun-flushed "wings of the morning" span the sapphire arch of heaven as
we enter the sheltered gulf of the Zonnegat, fringed by luxuriant woods
clothing a mountain side, and brushing the water with a green fringe of
trailing branches. Gliding between Cape Lantaka and two isolated crags,
the steamer enters a glassy lake, encircled by sylvan heights, with
the menacing cone of the Goenoeng Api rising sheer from the water's
edge. A white town climbs in irregular tiers up the shelving terraces
of a fairy island, the central hill crowned by the crenellated
battlements of a grey citadel. The largest ship can anchor close to
shore, for the rugged boundaries of Banda descend by steep gradients
into the crystalline depths. Chinese and Arab _campongs_ border
European streets of concrete houses, long and low, with flat roofs and
external galleries.

The southern shore of Banda Neira faces the forest-clad heights of
Great Banda, clothed from base to summit with nutmeg trees, shadowed by
huge kanaris, their interlacing canopies protecting the precious spice
plantations from the sun. A slender rowing boat, known as a _belang_,
makes a brilliant point of colour on the blue strait between the sister
islands. Red and yellow flags and pennants flutter above the green
deck; the clash of gongs and cymbals echoes across the water, and a
weird chant accompanies the rhythmic plash of the short oars, as the
brown rowers toss them high in air, and bring them down with a sharp
splash. A splendid avenue of kanari-trees extends along the shore, the
usual Dutch church symbolises the uncompromising grimness of
Calvinistic creed, and the crumbling fort of Orange-Nassau, the scene
of many stirring incidents in the island past, adjoins the beautiful
thatched bungalow of the Resident, the broad eaves emerging from depths
of richest foliage. A subterranean passage connects the deserted
stronghold on the shore with Fort Belgica, the citadel now used as
barracks, but formerly for the preservation of the nutmegs from the
fierce raids of foreign powers, when the new-born passion for spices
intoxicated the mind of the world, and kindled the fires of war between
East and West. The lofty peak of the Goenoeng Api still smoulders,
although the main crater is supposed to be extinct. The lower slopes,
where not planted with vegetables by enterprising invaders from the
island of Boeton, abound with delicate ferns and rare orchids, for the
fertility of the volcanic soil, rich in metallic ingredients, creates a
luxuriant growth. Sulphureous vapours rise continually from a plateau
beneath the summit, where tumbled boulders of blackened lava lie sunken
in deep layers of volcanic ash. Banda Neira evidently rose from the sea
in some long-past eruption of the larger island, now the long ridge of
a ruined crater which collapsed in a fierce outburst, and threw off the
fragments of rock which compose the outer group. A curious fatalism
characterises the inhabitants of volcanic districts, and the
incalculable value of Banda in the middle ages outweighed all risks of
eruption and earthquake. The history of island colonisation by
Portugal, Spain, and Holland, forms a continuous record of battle,
loot, and persecution, in which the native population was decimated,
and even now the inhabitants would be quite insufficient to cultivate
and gather the "golden fruit," without the aid of innumerable emigrants
from Java. Hard measures were dealt out in order to maintain the
monopoly of spices, and the injury to the native races, by destroying
the nutmeg trees of the other islands, crippled the trade which had
found a natural outlet in Asia. All the nutmegs were sent to Europe,
but one-fifth of the yearly produce was diverted by smuggling into
forbidden channels, though severe punishment was inflicted upon
offenders. Economic administration was unknown in the 17th and 18th
centuries, but the holocaust of spices burnt in the market-place of
Amsterdam, and the extermination of the nutmeg trees in Moluccan
islands, sent a thrill of horror through the European world, which
placed such an exaggerated value on the possession of spices that the
wars waged to secure them breathe the romantic fanaticism of a wild
crusade. Monopoly and slavery were at length definitely abolished, and
in 1873 the Dutch Government, realising the necessity of Free Trade,
sanctioned the independence of the nutmeg planters. The far-seeing
views of Sir Stamford Raffles during the second brief English
occupation of the Moluccas, from 1810 to 1816, were disregarded in
England (knowing little, and caring less, about the remote Spice
Islands), though his counsels were eventually adopted by the Dutch
Government as the only means of ensuring an increased profit. A
high-prowed native boat, known as an _orembai_, plies across the
narrow strait which separates the islands of Banda Neira and Banda
Lonthar, or Great Banda. The long range of hills covered with a dense
forest of the precious nutmeg trees, attains an ideal of sylvan scenery
surpassing even the glorious palm-woods of Java. These may be described
in terms of comparative accuracy, and their beauty painted in realistic
language, but none can translate into words the irresistible charm and
glamour of the nutmeg aisles, the exquisite foliage and contours of the
spice-bearing trees, the wealth of delicate blossom and peach-like
fruit, and the flickering emerald light from hues shading through the
whole gamut of colour, from the tender verdure of spring to the glossy
darkness of winter evergreen. Colossal kanari-trees, veritable monarchs
of the forest, tower over the nutmegs, and form an unbroken roof of
interlacing boughs, for the nutmeg, needing shelter to bring the fruit
to perfection, is not suffered to attain a height of more than seventy
feet. The columnar trunks of the majestic kanaris wreathe their huge
girth with lace-like fern and broad-leaved epiphytal plants, and the
symmetrical beauty of the conical nutmeg-trees in these forest aisles
suggests a vast sanctuary of Nature, enshrining the mystic presence of
Divinity. Here, as amid the shades of unfallen Eden, we can imagine a
trysting-place of God and man in the perennial "cool of the day," which
breathes through the green twilight of these solemn groves, redolent
with the incense from myriad sprays of creamy blossom and ripened nuts
in shells of pink-flushed amber, for flower and fruit deck the
"gold-bearing tree" without intermission, and every day produces a
fresh harvest of nutmegs. The brown kernel of the opening fruit,
contained in a network of scarlet mace, falls to the ground in
twenty-four hours, and unremitting care is needed in gathering and
handling the nutmegs with the _gaai-gaai_, a long stick ending with a
prong, to break off the ripe fruit into the woven basket accurately
poised beneath the wooden fork. Only the female trees yield the
precious crop, and the highest point of production, attained at the
twentieth year, continues undiminished through four subsequent decades,
after which the strength of the average tree declines, although it
often lives for a century. The cooing of the nutmeg pigeon, which feeds
on the abundant fruit, echoes through the shadowy glades with soothing
monotony. Yellow canaries flit through the vivid green of the pointed
foliage, and the scarlet crests of parrots glow through the dark
canopies of the giant kanari-trees. The voices of children at play, the
distant songs of the nutmeg-gatherers, the plash of the waves on the
coral reef, and the scented breeze whispering in the green crowns of a
million trees, blend in harmonious concord to fill the sylvan temple of
tropical Nature with mysterious music. At wide intervals the white
houses of the planters gleam amid the drooping boughs, the prevailing
green of the spacious woods relieved by the rosy purple of
Bougainvillea mantling a pillared verandah, or by great vases of
crimson and yellow flowers, bordering broad flights of stone steps.
Life on a great nutmeg plantation retains patriarchal character and
archaic charm; the multitude of dependents calls forth, in the present
day at any rate, much of kindly solicitude, and though the unvarying
sameness of existence sometimes proves the serpent which destroys the
peace of the idyllic Eden in young and eager hearts, the ramifications
of the large family party, gathered under one roof, mitigate the
monotony of daily tasks, and supply the necessary mental friction. Work
in the nutmeg-woods begin at 5 a.m., when a pealing bell summons the
labourers to each plantation for their different duties of gathering
the nuts, drying the mace, or sorting and liming the fruit. The
beautiful forest constitutes the world of the nutmeg-gatherer, both for
labour and recreation. In these dusky avenues youth and maiden tell
each other Love's eternal story, wandering away into the dreamland
shadows, vocal with sweeter melody than that of bird or breeze. The
musical call of the nutmeg-pigeon serves as a danger-signal, uttered
by sympathising friends, when love must yield to life's stern realities
in the person of the overseer. An ardent courtship often contributes to
the rapid filling of the nutmeg-basket in the hand of a rustic beauty,
whose admirers strive to secure for her the premium awarded for special
diligence, and a judicious official learns on occasion to be
conveniently deaf to the feigned voice of the _manoek faloer_. If the
chivalrous zeal of the brown lover is apt to overleap frontiers, and to
fill the baskets of one plantation with the produce of the other, the
ethics of Banda demonstrate the identity of human nature when swayed by
the passion which, according to circumstances, wrecks Troy or raids a
nutmeg orchard. A story is told of a planter who, in consequence of
engaging a bevy of attractive maidens for the year's work, was rewarded
by a phenomenal harvest of nutmegs, though the adjacent estates were
barren of fruit. Evening shadows darken apace in the woodland world,
and work ceases at three in the afternoon, when the store of gathered
fruit is brought to the _pagger_, where drying and liming sheds
surround the central warehouse. The nutmeg-pickers sort the ripe nuts
in an open gallery before taking them to the drying-shed, where they
are spread on a platform of split bamboo, twelve feet above a
smouldering fire. The process continues for six weeks, the nuts being
repeatedly turned until they begin to rattle. Only a slow method of
drying prevents the escape of the essential oil, necessary to the
flavour of the fruit, which must afterwards be dipped in slaked lime to
preserve it from insects. The coral-like mace contains a rich supply of
aromatic balm, and when loosened from the nutmeg can be dried in the
sun. The delicate scarlet branches, spread on wickerwork frames in open
spaces of the woods, contrast vividly with the shaded verdure of the
beautiful trees. The mace, trodden flat for facility in packing,
resembles a dainty growth of finest seaweed, and in the 16th century
shared popularity with the nutmeg which produced it. Even in the
present day a pewter spice box is an indispensable present on that
sixth anniversary of a Dutch marriage still known as "the pewter
wedding," and a nutmeg-box, with a grater, remains as a favourite
bridal gift, the fashion originating when the passion for spices first
pervaded mediæval Europe. Trade, as well as Science, wrote many
chapters of romantic adventure in the long history of the world's
social development, and modern thought but dimly realises the magnetic
spell of the days when the veil was first lifted between East and West,
and the wonders of untrodden shores disclosed to the pioneer. Heine, in
his _Lieder_, chants of the mystic nutmeg-tree as the ideal growth of
the tropical forest, for every stage of life and growth reveals some
fresh beauty in delicate bloom, glistening foliage, and fruit of
roseate gold. The spreading boughs, with their perfect contour and
emerald depths of light and shadow, suggest a typical picture of that
unfading Tree of Life in the midst of the earthly Paradise, round which
the passing ages weave innumerable dreams, while faith transplants it
to a fairer Garden than that of Eden. Where the winding woodland roads
lead along the shore, colossal screw-palms and silver-flowered
Barringtonias border the rocks, the sparkling azure of the sea visible
through the fantastic boughs, and the eternal song of the surf
vibrating through the still air with mysterious undertones. The brown
_campong_ of Banda Lonthar stands at the foot of the mossy steps which
lead to the summit of the wooded range, and command a superb view of
the island group. A further flight of stairs descends to the outside
coast or Achterval, but wherever we go, to quote the words of a modern
traveller, "we may imagine ourselves transported to the holy groves
whereof ancient poets sing." From the rich carpet of velvety moss and
plumy fern to the green vault of the leafy roof, the eye for once seems
"satisfied with seeing," for no hint of imperfection breaks the fairy
spell of enchantment in this poetic nutmeg-forest. Among serpentine
kanari roots, which stream across the mossy turf as though poured out
in liquid form and then petrified, we come across brown babies sleeping
in the shade, and cradled softly in the tender lap of earth, while the
mother, crooning a low song, pursues her work among the rustling
leaves. Terrace after terrace, the green aisles mount to the summit of
the great ridge, and the ruined forts on each wooded promontory recall
the long-past days when the "fruit of gold" demanded the increasing
vigilance of military power to defeat the onslaught of merchantman or
privateer, willing to run every risk in order to capture a cargo of
spices, and secure fabulous gains by appeasing the frantic thirst of
Europe for the novel luxury of the aromatic spoils. The mediæval craze
has died away, and the pungent spices of the Orient have taken a
permanent position of reasonable proportion in the culinary art of
modern times, but the glamour of the past, like the amber haze of a
tropical sunset, still environs the poetic tree in the island home
where, amid evergreen foliage and waxen flowers, the famous "fruit of
gold" still opens each coral-lined censer to exhale a wealth of undying
fragrance on the balmy air.



THE SOELA-BESSIR ISLES.


Outside the fairy circle of the exquisite Moluccas, a tiny cluster of
palm-clad islets gems the wide blue spaces of the lonely sea, unbroken
for many leagues by any foothold possible for human habitation. The
Dutch steamer only calls thrice a year at the remote Soela-Bessir
group, in quest of rattan, a plentiful product of these fertile isles,
where the leafy ladders of the aspiring parasite climb to the green
crowns of the tallest palms, wrapping them in the fatal embrace which
eventually levels the strongest monarch of the tropical forest to the
earth. The thick mantle of glossy foliage often hides the multitude of
hooks, loops, and nooses which the pliant cane flings round branch and
stem, gripped by long ropes of flexible fibre, hardening into thick
coils, rigid and unyielding as iron. The immense export of rattan for
chairs, couches, and innumerable domestic purposes, indirectly results
in the preservation of myriad palm-trees, by releasing them from the
deadly grasp of the tenacious creepers. The waving cocoanut trees of
Senana, the principal island of the Soela-Bessir group, kiss the blue
water with sombre plumes, bowed down by the wealth of heavy fruit lying
in green and golden clusters between frond and stem. The steamer
anchors far from the shore, and the launch proving unable to cross the
shallow bay, the landing of passengers can only be accomplished by two
crossed oars, carried and steadied by four of the crew. The mode of
progression is wobbling and risky, but the improbability of revisiting
Senana supplied a mental argument of unfailing force in balancing pros
and cons. The secluded island, so slightly influenced by the outside
world, changes but little with the lapse of time, and the triple-tiered
roofs of numerous thatched _Messighits_ rising above the palm-leaf huts
of the brown _campong_, assert the hereditary creed. The green banner
of Islam was planted here centuries ago by a fanatical horde of Arab
pirates, who added religious enthusiasm to love of plunder and thirst
of conquest. Their fiery zeal, though not according to knowledge,
ensured a vigorous growth of the foreign offshoot from the questionable
faith of these Arab corsairs, who left indelible traces on the whole of
the Malay Archipelago. The _Messighits_ of Senana are now only the
ruined shrines of a decadent creed, but the simple islanders remain
nominal adherents to the Monotheism of the past. Canoes and _blotos_,
rowed by lithe brown figures, come out to welcome the steamer, and a
fantastic boat, with carven prow, darts from beneath a green bower of
tangled foliage, laden with golden bananas. Merry-faced little savages
line the shore, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the white strangers,
who supply them with the amusement afforded by a travelling circus to
the more sophisticated children of the West. An eager desire to please
and gratify the extraordinary visitors, mingles with the uncontrollable
delight, manifested in capering, dancing, and gay laughter, as they
beckon us to follow them through the narrow lanes of the long
_campong_. Naked brown forms dash into their native huts at sundry
points of the route, to summon friends and kinsfolk, until the
procession swells into formidable proportions, for the whole _campong_
is eventually in tow, with the exception of the men and boys occupied
in lading cargo. Through the dappled sunlight and shadows of the
sweeping palms which flank the glassy bay, we are personally conducted
to the principal _Messighit_, a bare, whitewashed building, without any
decoration beyond the blue and white tiles outlining the horse-shoe
arch of the _Mihrab_ looking towards Mecca. The exterior with three
roofs of mossy thatch supported on bamboo poles, offers a shelter from
the sun on a flight of crumbling steps, overshadowed by the spreading
eaves. A big cocoanut frond serves as an improvised broom in a dusky
hand, and the central step is carefully swept before the stranger, with
respectful salaams and gesticulations, is invited to sit down. A
turbaned _Imaum_, the custodian of the decaying sanctuary, comes forth
from his dilapidated hut among the palms behind the shrine, at the
unwonted excitement breaking the silence and solitude of the ancient
mosque, but he evidently belongs to the dreamland of the past, and
retires quickly from the disturbing present to meditations or slumbers
in his obscure dwelling, closing the bamboo door against all intruders.
This day's incident of the cruise in the Malay Archipelago seems
absolutely cut off from ordinary experience--a solitary Englishwoman,
resting in the shadow of the rustic mosque, and surrounded by a
half-barbaric tribe of unfamiliar aspect, the dark woolly hair, flat
noses, wide mouths, and dazzling teeth suggesting a liberal admixture
of negro or Papuan blood. Native intelligence simplifies a halting
conversation, carried on by means of the indispensable Malayan
phrase-book. Wistful eyes rest on the stranger whose lot is cast under
happier auspices, and unmistakeable characteristics manifest the
Soela-Bessir islanders as a gentle and teachable race. Alas! the Dutch
Government plants neither schools nor missions in distant Senana, too
far from the beaten track to commend itself to the religious or
educational care of a nation apparently indifferent to the claims of
small communities, in the vast Archipelago subject to Holland. Only the
quarterly call of the Dutch steamer stirs the stagnation of ages on the
Soela-Bessir isles, but although the young, sharing in that wondrous
heritage of mirth and gladness peculiar to the joyous early life of the
tropics, recognise no limitations in their lot, the mothers sadly
repeat the complaint heard elsewhere that no chance of improvement is
given to them. The steamer, frequently bringing hither the inhabitants
of more favoured islands in the interests of trade, already begins to
stir feelings of unrest, and vague longings for the better things as
yet withheld. A chieftain's daughter joins the throng round the old
_messighit_. A red-cotton drapery, thrown over bronze limbs, is her
only garment, but a diamond glistening on her dark hand looks
incongruous with the scanty clothing. The gem seems a talisman or
heirloom, but a request to examine it terrifies the owner, and she
rushes away into the woods to safeguard the precious possession from
perils suggested by the presence of the white pilgrim from across the
seas. The delicious breeze which always spring up after ten o'clock in
these latitudes renders walking a delight, the two following hours
being invariably cooler than the trying time between eight and ten,
when the fierce sun, on a level with the face, creates an atmosphere of
blistering glare. The brown procession forms an orderly escort to the
lading shed beneath a clump of tall cocoa-palms, and the kindly
merchant who negotiates the commerce of the Soela-Bessir isles for the
Dutch Government, sends a native boy up the smooth stem of a colossal
tree in search of a fresh cocoanut, which fills two tumblers with
refreshing sap. The thatched _campong_ stands against a background of
green hills and dense woods, rich in tropical verdure, but lacking the
loveliness of the Moluccas. The return to the ship involves a _bloto_
across the bay, with many misgivings as to the seaworthy capacities of
the clumsy craft, but four bamboo safety-poles, fastened by forked
sticks to the sides of the hollowed log, suffice to steady it enough to
avoid capsizal. In the Soela-Bessir Isles, as in many other far-off and
forgotten regions, the genius of commerce begins to awaken the desire
of civilisation in untutored hearts, for Trade sharing in the romance
no longer regarded as the exclusive attribute of Art or Science, now
helps to fuse opposing elements into unity and order. The simple
inhabitants of distant Senana seem only waiting for an outstretched
hand to lift them to a higher level of creed and culture, for the
modern pioneers of missionary enterprise raise the superstructure of
Christianity with unexampled success on the substratum of truth
contained even in imperfect and erroneous creeds. That solid foundation
stone of belief in the One Eternal God, laid by Arab pirates centuries
ago, amid the lust of rapine and the smoke of war, which ever heralded
the onward march of conquering Islam, should serve as a firm basis for
building up these simple children of Nature into the mystical sanctuary
of the Christian Church. The lapse of time obliterates countless
landmarks of Moslem creed in localities removed from external contact,
but amid the dust of disintegrating forces and forgotten forms, the
central Truth remains imbedded, like a wedge of gold trodden in the
mire, but retaining intrinsic value and untarnishable purity.



SUMATRA.



THE WESTERN COAST AND THE HIGHLANDS.


Passing through the straits of Saleir, between a cliff-bound island and
the south-eastern Cape of Celebes, the returning steamer in due time
reaches her moorings in Sourabaya, and a rapid railway journey through
Java connects with the outgoing boat from Batavia to Padang, a three
days' voyage through a chain of green islands breaking the force of the
monsoon on a desolate and harbourless shore. The forest-clad ranges of
Sumatra draw nearer at Benkoelen, buried in cocoa-palms on the rim of a
quiet bay, within a terrific reef which makes landing impossible in
stormy weather. Fort and Residency, villas and gardens, manifest
Benkoelen as an oasis of civilisation, the steeply-tiled roofs
remaining as relics of the English occupation a century ago. Beyond
the little military settlement, the Sumatran mountains tower in
majestic gloom beyond a broken line of bristling crags, like granite
outworks guarding the eleven hundred miles of coast-line facing the
Indian Ocean. The rugged backbone of mysterious Sumatra, descending
sharply to the western sea, overlooks a vast alluvial plain on the
eastern side, where rice and sugar-cane, coffee and tobacco, flourish
between the wide deltas of sluggish rivers, though rushing streams and
wild cascades characterise the opposite shore. Ridges and bastions of
rock, above profound valleys, culminate in cloud-capped Indrapura, at a
height of 12,000 feet. Geologists affirm the vast age of Sumatra,
indicated by the Silurian rock, the bastions of granite, the
extraordinary vegetation fossilised in the huge coal-beds, and the
sandstone formation, often a thousand feet thick, carved by time and
weather into fantastic ravines. Inexhaustible mineral wealth lies
hidden in these weird ranges, together with the costly chemical
products of a volcanic soil, but the rich treasures of the virgin rocks
are for the most part unknown and unexplored. Columns of smoke rise
continually from numerous active volcanos, and the beautiful mountain
lakes fill extinct craters. The great island, lying north-west and
south-east, possesses a glorious climate, and the superb vegetation
shows a distinctive character from that of Java. The Dutch, though
supreme on the coast, have never yet subdued the interior, and
unconquerable Acheen remains a perpetual centre of unrest. The flower
of the Malay race belongs to Sumatra, and the wild Battek tribes of
alien origin are fast merging themselves into the dominant stock,
though the Redjanger clan, retaining curious customs of a remote past,
and possessing a written character, cut with a _kris_ on strips of
bamboo, is slow to assimilate itself to the Malayan element. The
Sumatran language shows traces of Indian and Arabic influence, and that
the early civilisation of the huge island was of Hindu origin is
evidenced by innumerable Sanskrit words, and by the fact that the
consecrated pipal tree, the "Ficus Religiosa" of India, remains to this
day the sacred tree of the Batteks. Native chronicles record the
descent of Sumatran princes from Alexander the Great, but though the
pages of Javanese history are comparatively legible, those of Sumatra,
designated in early days as "the older Java," resemble a dim
palimpsest, marred by erasure or hiatus, and barely decipherable
beneath the lettering on the surface of the age-worn parchment.

Little _campongs_ of palm-thatched huts stand on piles at the water's
edge, and skirt the over-shadowing forest; fairy islands, encircled
with red-stemmed _arén_-palms, lie like green garlands on the indigo
sea, dotted with the yellow sails of native _proas_, and the little
train which conveys us to Padang, the western capital, seems an
incongruous feature in a scene suggestive of primeval peace and
solitude. A sylvan charm belongs even to this Sumatran township, for
the wooden houses, with pointed roofs of dried palm-leaves, and broad
eaves forming shady verandahs, stand far apart in flowery gardens,
aflame with orange or scarlet cannas, and fragrant with golden-hearted
frangipanni. The sweeping boughs of giant cocoanut trees make a green
twilight beneath their interwoven fronds, Bougainvillea drapes
crumbling wall and forest tree with curtains of roseate purple, and
thatched stalls of tropical fruits and glowing flowers brighten the
dusky avenues with patches of vivid colour. The determined aspect of
the Sumatran people denotes the superior calibre of the ancestral stock
which colonised the Archipelago, for foreign intercourse, which
elsewhere modified national character, scarcely affected the Sumatran
Malays, independent of the servile yoke imposed by the mighty princes
of Java. The forty _Soekoes_, or clans, of Sumatra, are sub-divided
into branches consisting of numerous families, all descended from a
common stock in the female line. This curiously constituted pedigree is
known as the Matriarchate, an ancient social system only retained in
Western Sumatra, and among certain South American tribes. The resolute
mien and dignified carriage of the Sumatran woman denote clear
consciousness of her supreme importance. The cringing submission so
painfully characteristic of Oriental womanhood is wholly unknown, and
though nominally of Mohammedan faith, the humble position prescribed by
the Korán to the female sex is a forgotten article of Sumatra's
hereditary creed. After marriage (forbidden between members of the same
clan) both man and woman remain in their own family circle. The husband
is only an occasional visitor, and the wife is regarded as the head of
the house. Her children remain under her exclusive care, and inherit
her property, together with the half of what their father and mother
earn together. The other half goes to the brothers and sisters of the
husband, whose titles descend to his own brothers and sisters. Sumatra
is veritably El Dorado to the Eastern wife and mother, conversant with
every detail respecting the management of land or money, and jealously
guarding the time-honoured rights and privileges of her exalted
position.

The hereditary chieftains of Sumatran clans exercise a patriarchal rule
of uncompromising severity, and combine in every district to form the
_Laras_ or local Council, the distance separating forest and mountain
_campongs_ often necessitating sub-division into a village assembly.
The _Laras_, and those rural chieftains nominated by popular consent,
possess a seat on the Supreme Council of the Dutch Government, thus
forming the transitional element between Asiatic and European rule.
There is no Sumatran nobility, and although the hereditary chief of a
clan is invested with official authority, the stringent regulations of
the Matriarchate acknowledge no superiority of social status as an
appanage of his power.

The hothouse atmosphere of Padang is gladly exchanged for the freshness
of the mountain heights, approached by a cog-wheel railway, and
affording truer pictures of Sumatran life than the hybrid port of the
steaming Lowlands. The luxuriant verdure of the swampy plain basks in
the sunshine of a blazing March day, and children in gaudy _sarongs_
drive a brisk trade at palm-thatched wayside stations, with bamboo
trays of sliced pineapple sprinkled with capsicum, the approved
"pick-me-up" of Sumatra. The little train burrows through a
forest-lined pass, and skirts the chafing waters of the Anei river,
foaming over swarthy boulders. The turbulent stream, now deeply sunk
between granite cliffs, rises with terrific violence when lashed by the
wild mountain wind known as the _bandjir_, and rushes up the rocky
walls, overthrowing bridges, and dragging along immense crags with
resistless impetus. The shrill laughter of the black bush-apes echoes
from sombre masses of matted foliage, as the train ascends the lofty
range, and curves round the basin of a sparkling waterfall, dashing
from a fern-draped height. Granite cliffs soar above tropical jungle
and solemn forest; the narrow gap of the Anei widens into a luxuriant
valley; sago-palms rustle in the breeze, and tree-ferns spread their
green canopies over the brawling river. The splendid scenery is viewed
to advantage from a platform of the foremost railway carriage, the
train being pushed up the mountains by an engine in the rear. Beyond
the climbing forests, a bare plateau affords a glimpse of ever-burning
Merapi, with wooded flanks and lava-strewn summit, from whence a grey
cloud of smoke mounts in a spiral curl to the azure sky. Beyond this
point of view lies the green plain of beautiful Fort de Kock, the gem
of the Sumatran Highlands, to be numbered henceforth among those ideal
scenes which remain permanently photographed on mind and memory. The
crystalline atmosphere seems the very breath of life after a long
sojourn in the steaming tropics, and Fort de Kock, under the shadow of
mysterious Merapi, an Elysium of health and repose. The little Hotel
Jansen offers clean and comfortable accommodation, the kindly German
hostess proving a model landlady. As a Residency and the headquarters
of a Dutch garrison. Fort de Kock provides all the necessaries of life,
and the broad military roads of the vicinity simplify exploration. The
little white settlement beneath the wooded volcano possesses a bright
and cheery character, in keeping with the exhilarating climate, and
the beautiful Sturm Park, from palm-crowned hill and flowery terrace,
commands an exquisite prospect of the blue peaks belonging to the
borderland of those Native States extending to the Dutch possessions on
the Eastern coast. The curious houses of the Sumatran Highlands, with
their adjacent rice-barns, form distinctive features of this unique
island. The ridge of the steep thatch rises in sharp horns, interlaced
with black fibres of _arén_ palm, or covered with glittering tin. These
tapering points are considered talismans of good fortune, a fresh horn
being added on every occasion of marriage, for the married daughters,
under the provisions of the Matriarchate, remain in the home of their
childhood, and portions of the central division belonging to the house
are reserved for their use. Manifold horns frequently bristle above the
lofty roof, and the front of the main building is the common living
room for unmarried members of the large household. Houses and
rice-barns stand on high poles, after the Malay fashion, which
originated in the malarious districts of the Lowlands. The typical
rice-barns are lavishly decorated with gilding, carving, and colour,
inlaid with glass mosaic, and edged with balls of red and blue crystal,
the upward sweep of the slender horns sharply silhouetted against the
glowing cobalt of heaven. In every _kota_ (the Sumatran word signifying
a fortified place, or village), the beauty of the picturesque roofs
culminates in _Messighit_ and _Balei_, respectively the Mosque and Hall
of Consultation for the Village Council. The roofs of the Mosque rise
on thatched tiers, mounted on slender pine-stems, and the long _Balei_,
with mossy thatch prolonged into an open verandah on either side, shows
a multitude of curving horns pointing to Heaven, and symbolically
invoking celestial aid for the solemn assembly gathered beneath them,
when the full moon floods upland Sumatra with molten silver. Primitive
hospitality provides a _roemah negari_, or "House of Strangers," in
every village rich enough to erect this refuge for the toil-worn
wanderer, but where no special resting-place for pilgrims can be
offered, lodging can always be had in the open _Balei_, on application
to any member of the Village Council. The primitive simplicity of
Sumatran life remains practically unchanged in these remote hamlets of
the Western Highlands, and though Fort de Kock poses as the nucleus of
modern progress, European influences glance off the indurated surface
of native character like water poured over a granite slab.

Across the rice-plain of Agam, dotted with brown _kotas_, crowned by
myriads of interweaving horns, we reach the scattered village of
Paja-Kombo, shadowed by dense woods of cocoanut palms, and famed for
one of the most picturesque native markets in the East. The women of
Paja-Kombo are noted for their beauty, enhanced by the splendour of
many-coloured _sarongs_, gleaming with gold and silver thread. Gay
turbans swathe the stately heads, and the golden filagree of barbaric
breastplates, heavy earrings, and broad armlets, lights up the shadowy
gloom of stone galleries and _al fresco_ stalls, beneath the drooping
boughs of ancient waringen-trees. The Sumatran Malays are energetic
traders, and the dignified personality of the Sumatran woman is
perpetually in evidence. Keen, thrifty, economical, and thoroughly
versed in all the details of commerce, she shows herself the
predominant partner in domestic life, and to her all decisions on
financial matters are referred, in accordance with the laws of the
Matriarchate, which protects her independence. The husbands and fathers
in attendance on their womankind at the great Market, submissively
defer to the gentler sex, which in Sumatra has ever held the reins of
social and domestic management, exercising authority wisely and well
within the wide area deputed to feminine sway. The Fair of Paja-Kombo
is a treasury of native Art in most delicate filigree, silver-threaded
cloth, baskets or fans of scented grass, and the heavy jewellery of
burnished brass which copies the designs of the many golden heirlooms
treasured by Sumatran womanhood. Streets of palm-thatched stalls,
alleys of eating-houses, and the wide enclosure of a Mule-Fair, cover
an open meadow, fringed by great sago-palms, the central grain and
rice Market crowded with picturesque figures in striped _sarong_ and
gold-flecked turban. The feast of colour provided by Paja-Kombo is
scarcely surpassed even by the famous Fair of Darjeeling, the
remoteness of the little settlement in the Sumatran Highlands
preserving the unfaded charm of an immemorial past. The wonderful Gap
of Harau may be reached by cart from Paja-Kombo; the palm-shaded road
narrows at the mighty gorge, where vermilion cliffs, grooved and ribbed
as though by some convulsion of Nature, tower up in colossal majesty on
either side. Splendid waterfalls flash down in foam and thunder,
scoring deep channels in the perpendicular heights, and bathing
thickets of tree-fern and maidenhair in pearly spray. A wild river
swirls through the deep ravine, opening towards the ethereal blue of
clustering peaks, which lie fold upon fold in the hazy distance of the
Native States, and disclose a mystic pathway into dreamland.

Another deep gully of yellow tufa-rock behind Fort de Kock, forms the
first stage of the romantic route to Lake Manindjoe. Crossing the twin
rivers which have carved their winding gorge in the bosom of the hills,
the rude track through the mountains ascends to smooth plateaux forming
a flight of gigantic stairs, supported by rocky girders like natural
cross-beams. In early days of Dutch colonisation these successive
points of vantage, occupied by hostile tribes, were stormed in vain by
the invading army, and eventually only captured by surprise. The beauty
of upland Sumatra culminates at this mountain lake, lying within the
foundered crater of the Danau. The volcanic walls rise fourteen hundred
feet above the dark blue mere, a glitting sheet of _lapis lazuli_ set
within the black cleft of the profound chasm. Brown and purple rocks
enamelled with orange lichen, and garlanded with waving verdure, open
to display a mysterious vision of the glistening sea, with one white
sail like a butterfly's wing, crossing the distant waves. The flushing
rose-tints of a tropical sunset glorify the landscape into transcendent
beauty; the rude sculpture of the river crags, the black shadows of
primeval forest, and the far-off gleam of the Indian Ocean, composing
an ideal picture, enhanced by vague impressions of Infinity and
Eternity.

The great Lake of Sinkarah, flanked by volcanic ridges, and by the
dense foliage of palm forests and coffee plantations, also presents a
succession of entrancing landscapes. White and purple orchids wreathe
the forest trees, troops of red monkeys chatter among the boughs, and
woodland vistas reveal leagues of emerald rice and golden millet.
Beyond Sinkarah lies the famous coal district of the island, where
Chinamen, convicts, and Hindu coolies, in perpetual bustle and
commotion, manifest an activity unique in the thinly-populated
interior of Sumatra, dependent on the labour of alien races. Javanese
act as woodmen, gardeners, and road-makers; the Klings serve as
cowherds and drivers of ox-waggons; the Bengalese prove efficient
policemen, and the Boyans skilful carpenters; the clearing of the
forest pertaining to Malays and Batteks, also responsible for the
building of the marvellous rice-barns, the apotheosis of Sumatran
architecture. The ordinary tourist omits Sumatra from his itinerary.
Occasional elephant-hunters penetrate the dense forests of the
interior, and engineers or tobacco-planters flock to the monotonous
levels of the eastern coast, but the glorious Western Highlands, the
Sumatran _Bovenland_, is seldom visited. Warlike Acheen, for ever at
feud with the Dutch Government, is forbidden ground to the European
traveller. The unconquerable independence of the Achinese, fiercely
resenting the sovereignty of Holland, proves an insoluble problem to
the Dutch methods of subjugation. The bold and lawless character of
this rebellious clan defies military discipline. The spirit of
insurrection animates every man, woman, and child of the brave but
treacherous race, and Acheen remains the dark centre of countless
tragedies, due to the spurious patriotism which counts a stab in the
dark, a poisoned arrow, or a cruel betrayal, as heroic and laudable
modes of resistance to the hated invader of Sumatra's ancient
liberties. The forest-clad interior of the vast island remains an
unknown wilderness. Cannibals still lurk in the black depths of the
pathless jungle; weird tribal customs linger unchanged in barbarous
_campongs_, where strange gods are worshipped with the immemorial rites
of an ageless past, rude carvings and weird symbols showing the
personification of those natural phenomena deified by primeval tribes.
Sumatra, with her wealth of mines and forests and her important
geographical position, remains as yet an almost undiscovered country,
and though her undeveloped resources excite the cupidity and arouse the
envy of European nations, political greed and private enterprise have
proved powerless to open up the hidden treasures of the vast island,
apparently intended by Nature to become the key of the Southern Seas.



A VIEW OF KRAKATAU.


Emma-Haven, the little port of Padang, twenty minutes by train from the
palm-girt Sumatran capital, scarcely mars the beauty of the secluded
inlet with the red and white warehouses standing against the sylvan
verdure which fringes the blue arc of the deep bay. Cloud upon cloud,
the spectral vision of distant mountains gleams through the vanishing
veil of mist melting in the sunrise, and the departing steamer, hugging
the shore, but halting for cargo at sundry barbaric _campongs_, affords
numerous glimpses of native life. Passengers are forbidden to land at
these rural ports of call, for a herd of twenty frolicsome elephants
battered down one brown village of palm-thatched bamboo only a week
ago, and although the ruined architecture possesses the advantage of
being as easily restored as destroyed, the unpleasant proximity of the
dark jungle suggests the need of prudence. At another point of the
little voyage, we anchor for a cargo of rattan before a thatched shed
on a shell-strewn beach, but even here a solitary elephant, disturbed
in bathing, has lately attacked a woman, rescued with difficulty from
formidable tusks and lashing trunk. A tribe of coolies come on board
from the pepper plantation on a terraced hill, covered with the vivid
green of the festooning creeper, twined round long poles, and
resembling hop-vines in growth and foliage. The landing of this
contingent involves a call at Anjer, the northern extremity of Java,
distinguished by the white column of the colossal Pharos on the green
headland. A halt at nightfall outside a bristling reef, in consequence
of a Malay lighthouse-keeper omitting to trim his lamp, after the
fashion of his unthinking kind, secures the compensation of steaming
within sight of world-famous Krakatau, the volcanic cone, which in 1883
was split in half by the stupendous eruption affecting in various
degrees the whole of the world. The successive waves of atmospherical
disturbance, travelling with the velocity of sound, were traced three
times completely round the globe. Krakatau, though uninhabited, was the
occasional resort of fishermen who plied their calling in the Sunda
Straits. A Dutch record exists of a violent eruption in 1680, but the
Krakatau volcano was afterwards considered extinct, and until the
spring of 1883 no signs of activity occurred. At this date, smoke,
pumice, and cinders, fell without intermission. For eight weeks
Krakatau blazed and thundered, the explosions being audible at Batavia,
eighty miles off. As the fatal dawn of an August morning broke with
lurid light, the culminating shock of an appalling detonation,
described as "the very crack and crash of doom," echoed across the
ocean, and was heard even in India and Australia, two thousand miles
away. Gigantic tidal waves swept the Sundanese shores, destroying the
adjacent villages, 36,000 people being either washed away or buried
under the boiling rain of mud, fire, and ashes. The Royal Society
estimated the altitude of the vast black and crimson column of flame
and smoke, mounting from the volcano, at seventeen miles. The ashes
fell at Singapore and on the Cocos Isles, respectively five and eight
hundred miles away, the ejection of volcanic matter being computed at
more than four cubic miles in extent. Krakatau, reduced from thirteen
to six square miles, from the northern portion of the symmetrical
pyramid being completely blown away by the volcanic fires, retains the
conical peak of Mount Radaka, nearly three thousand feet high. Some of
the contiguous islands sank beneath the waves, others changed their
shape, and the formation of various banks and shoals added fresh
difficulties to the intricate navigation of reef-bound seas. Thrilling
stories are told of the enveloping pall of smoke and ashes, which
shrouded Java in midnight gloom, amid the continuous roar of violent
explosions which led up to the awful climax of the final catastrophe.
Red-hot stones and burning cinders fired the ships, the weight of
pumice sinking _praus_ and fishing smacks as it fell into the hissing
sea, and a 600-ton schooner, thrown by the force of the world-shaking
concussion into a mountain cleft of the opposite coast, still lies
wedged between the black walls of rock. The floating pumice, which
filled the harbour of Batavia with layers so deep that planks resting
upon it made a safe bridge over a mile in length, drifted even to
Zanzibar and Madagascar. The fine dust, expelled into the upper air,
painted the sunset heavens with these translucent green and violet
tints which enhanced the pageantry of cloudland throughout the world
for many months after the fiery forces had expended themselves. Smoke
still issues from Krakatau, though the vast rent in the cloven pyramid
must materially diminish the power of any future eruption, and Nature's
busy hand already covers the torn side of the precipitous cone with a
green veil of sparse vegetation. A curious marine growth of weed and
moss rooted itself on Krakatau three years after the phenomenal
eruption, from seeds floating on the tide or carried by the wind. The
thin soil formed by these decaying plants, and enriched by the chemical
ingredients of disintegrating volcanic ash, in time produced a more
luxuriant verdure, and in the interval elapsing since the threefold
ravages of fire, flood, and earthquake, caused by Krakatau, convulsed
the East with terror, the dread mountain has become wreathed with
flower and fruit, for orchards and gardens, tended by the Malays from
the surrounding islands, now flourish at the foot of the quiescent
peak. Javanese colonists, who experienced the terrors of the
overwhelming catastrophe, assert that no similes drawn from the most
appalling thunderstorm, or from the roar of the heaviest artillery,
could convey an adequate idea of the stupendous detonation which seemed
to shatter earth and sky, as the pent-up fires burst forth in the final
explosion, which tore the mountain asunder and poured forth the
devastating forces of the abysmal depths over land and sea. Crimson
lava-flood and burning hail, blackened heaven and rocking earth,
roaring sea and clamouring volcano, represented an Apocalyptic vision
of Divine wrath, but probably no survivor remained to record the actual
sight of the unprecedented phenomenon, transcending every terrestrial
convulsion recorded in the chronicles of scientists. Only a slender
feather of grey steam now issues from the lofty crater. Leaves and
grasses flutter in the soft breeze, and a shower of white petals drifts
upon the iron boulders, once incandescent amid the red torrents of
rushing fire. A sheer precipice remained as the severed half of the
shattered cone, when the rent cliffs shivered into fragments, and
toppled over into the sea. Nature again breathes "peace and safety," as
she did before "the sudden destruction" gave the lie to her mocking
voice, and as the ruined pyramid of terrible Krakatau sinks below the
horizon, and the good ship speeds on her way, a weight of awe seems
lifted from the mind, oppressed by imagination and association with the
ghastly tragedy of those untameable forces which defy calculation or
comprehension.

History has often proved the truth of the assertion that Time turns
memories into dreams, but in the presence of Krakatau's smoking crater,
the memories looming over the haunted volcano translate themselves into
a nightmare of horror, for the shadows of doom still cling to the
monumental pyramid, a menacing witness to the existence of those occult
laws which baffle human investigation with their insoluble problems,
and compel the defeated scientist to acknowledge himself a mere
chronicler of inexplicable mysteries. The extent of the volcanic zone
encircling the Malay Archipelago minimises the risk of catastrophe by
numerous safety valves for the imprisoned forces of Earth's fiery
abyss. In isolated Krakatau only one outlet existed for the vast
accumulations of destructive agencies, gathering irresistible impetus
through the protracted period of condensation and suppression which
heated this mighty furnace of Nature's subterranean laboratory with
sevenfold power. A generation has grown up since the hell of devouring
fire swept across land and sea from this solitary mountain peak;
villages have been rebuilt on their ancient sites, and the activities
of life go on from year to year undisturbed. The story of Krakatau,
told under the drooping boughs of dusky waringen-trees in the evening
hour of leisure, seems veiled in the mists of legendary lore to youth
and maiden, listening to the oft-told tale. Poverty clings to familiar
soil, and in the deep groove of a narrow existence the popular mind
takes little thought for the future. The realities of life are bounded
by the daily needs, and the shadow of Krakatau fails to destroy the
present peace of the simple folk, who, like children gathering flowers
on the edge of a precipice, heed none of the grim possibilities of a
perilous environment.



PENANG.


Poelo-Penang, _The Isle of the areca-nut_, separated by a narrow strait
from the Malay Peninsula, was ceded to England in 1785 by the Rajah of
Kedah, from whom the present Sultan of Johore is lineally descended.
The little territory, chiefly consisting of a mountain covered with
palm-forests, was then almost uninhabited, but the strategetic
importance of the position resulted in the establishment of an English
Presidency, until the phenomenal growth of Singapore made it the
eventual centre of local authority. "Sinhapura," "the City of Lions"
(or, more accurately, of tigers), founded by the Hinduized Malays, and
developed by Sir Stamford Raffles into the principal trading port of
the Eastern seas, of necessity drew off from Penang a large contingent
of the polyglot races which flocked thither from all parts, when the
British flag first waved above the newly-built fort, but at least
100,000 inhabitants still occupy the verdant island, where the graceful
areca palm attains unexampled perfection. Penang was merely regarded
as an unimportant appendage of ancient Malacca, captured in 1311 by
Albuquerque, and though the territory of the principal Sultan underwent
innumerable vicissitudes through the changing fortunes of war, the
royal line retained Johore at the foot of the Peninsula, up to the
present day, the last scion of the old-world dynasty now accepting the
suzerainty of England.

A tribe of Klings (the Malay corruption of the word Telinga), sailing
from the Coromandel coast, were the first immigrants under British
rule. The half-breed Indian Malays, or _Jawi-Pekan_, followed, and the
Chinese, finding a new outlet for their commercial genius, soon secured
a firm footing on the fairy isle, a cone of emerald set in a sapphire
sea. As the rickshaw wheels away from the noisy wharves of busy
Georgetown into green aisles of areca and cocoanut, the spice-laden
breeze blowing from the heights, and mingled with the breath of a
thousand flowers, suggests Penang as "the mountain of myrrh, and hill
of frankincense," described in the Canticle of Canticles. Present
surroundings atone for the lack of life's amenities in the Dutch
dependencies. The ripple of the sea, and the rustle of swaying palms,
just stir the silence of the wave-washed terrace above the glassy
straits. The gloomy blue of the Kedah mountains on the peninsula of
Malacca, with black thunderclouds gathering round their serrated
crests, heightens the brilliant loveliness of immediate surroundings,
steeped in the ruby glow of the magical evening. Every road is an
over-arching avenue of gorgeous foliage--dark tunnels of interwoven
cocoa-palms, huge Amherstias alight as with lamps of fiery orange,
tremulous tamarinds, and, more wonderful than all, a wide highway
roofed by a continuous aisle of ansena-trees, the golden canopy of
blossom overhead rivalled by the thick carpet of yellow petals, which
deadens every sound, for the prodigal bounty of tropical Nature quickly
replaces the loss of falling flowers. Exquisite lanes, smothered in
glorious vegetation, surround the picturesque Racecourse, that
_sine-qûa-non_ of English occupation. Stately emperor palms, kitools
with crimped green tresses, fan and oil palms, with the slender areca
in countless thousands, vary the shadowy vistas branching out in every
direction, with huge-leaved creepers and glossy rattans garlanding the
gnarled trunks of forest-trees. The sculptured outlines of the splendid
traveller's palm adorn the green lawns of European bungalows, embowered
in torrents of trailing creepers, the scale of colour descending from
white and pink to royal purple and burning crimson. Snowy arums and
golden lilies choke the brooks, overflowing from the constant showers
combining with a vertical sun to foster the wealth of greenery, the
incandescent scarlet and yellow of hybiscus and allemanda glowing with
the transparent depth of hue, beside which the fragile fairness of
European flowers, is but a spectral reflection of those colour-drenched
blossoms fused into jewelled lustre by the solar fires. Night drops her
black curtain suddenly, with no intervening veil of twilight to temper
Earth's plunge into darkness. Great stars hang low in the sombre sky,
and the open interiors of Malay huts, aglow with lamp or torchlight,
produce Rembrandtesque effects, revealing brown inmates cooking or
eating their "evening rice."

Georgetown, loyally named by British pioneers after a monarch eminently
incongruous with any ideas belonging to a tropical fairyland, possesses
neither architectural beauty nor salient character; wooden warehouses,
Malay shanties, and white-washed streets being merely attractive from
the ever-changing scheme of colour painted by varieties of race and
costume. Tamils of ebon blackness drive picturesque teams of humped
white oxen in red waggons laden with purple sugar-cane. Noble-looking
Sikhs, in spotless linen, stride past with kingly gait. Brown Siamese,
in many-coloured scarves and turbans gleaming with gold thread, chaffer
and bargain at open stalls with blue-robed Chinamen, and the bronze
figures of slim Malays, brightened by mere wisps of orange and scarlet
added to Nature's durable suit, slip through the crowds, pausing before
an emporium of polished brass-work, or a bamboo stall of teak wood
carving. The sloping black mitre of a stout Parsee merchant,
accompanied by a pretty daughter in white head-band and floating _sari_
of cherry-coloured silk, varies the motley headgear of turban and fez,
straw hat and sun-helmet, worn by this cosmopolitan population, the
pink headkerchiefs, tinselled scarves, and jewelled buttons of the
beautiful Burmese dress, drawing attention to the energetic bargaining
of two astute customers for cooking utensils; these elegantly-attired
but mahogany-coloured dames, rivalling the Sumatran women in business
capacity, and equally determined on securing the _quid pro quo_. The
long esplanade between town and sea borders a series of green lawns,
where carriages draw up round a bandstand, and the youthful element of
European Penang plays tennis with laudable zeal in the atmosphere of a
stove-house. Chinese and Malay boyhood look on, and listen to the
regimental music. The pallid English occupants of the carriages, in
spite of diaphanous muslins and fluttering fans, appear too limp and
wilted to bestow more than a languid attention to their surroundings,
until the sea-breeze, springing up as the sun declines, revives their
flagging spirits. The smartest turnout and the finest horses generally
belong to John Chinaman, got up in irreproachable English costume, with
his pigtail showing beneath a straw hat, though considerably
attenuated, and lacking those adornments of silken braid and red
tassels, generally plaited into the imposing queue of the orthodox
Celestial. The indefatigable Chinese, frequently arriving on an alien
shore without a dollar in their pockets, continually prove potential
millionaires. Immune from climatic diseases, working early and late,
tolerant and unaggressive, the iron hand in the velvet glove
disentangles and grasps the threads of the most complicated commercial
enterprise, for the idle Malay, "the gentleman of the East," here as
elsewhere, cares for little beyond the sport of hunting and
fish-spearing, which satisfies the personal necessities of his indolent
existence. The wonderful solidarity of domestic life is an important
factor in the Chinese career, for centuries of ancestor-worship, in
spite of their arrestive tendency, have strengthened the bonds of
family union and filial obedience by insisting on the supreme sanctity
of blood-relationship.

The luxuriant Botanical Garden, situated in a green cleft of an angle
formed by encircling hills, is a paradise of dreamland, though but a
miniature when compared with Buitenzorg for extent and variety. In the
restful charm of the Penang garden Art and Nature go hand in hand,
giving it an unique character among the horticultural pleasaunces of
the Eastern world. The rolling lawns of the exquisite valley, the song
of the waterfall which bounds the view as it leaps down the lofty
cliffs, the abundant shade of tamarind and palm, and the gorgeous
flowering shrubs, suggest nothing artificial or conventionalised in the
deep seclusion of the fairy glen. Tall bamboos mirror fluffy foliage
and white or golden stems in stream and pool. Orchids of the Brazils
festoon unknown trees with the rose and purple butterflies formed by
their brilliant blossoms, and colossal traveller's palms, so-called
from the draught of water obtained by incision of the stem, stud the
glades with stiffly-fluted fans. Lilac thunbergia wreaths over-arching
boughs, and passion-flower flings white and crimson garlands over turf
flushed with the pink blossoms of the sensitive plant. Gold mohur and
red poinsettia blaze with fiery splendour, and huge crotons, with
velvety leaves of pink, violet, and chocolate, grow to the height of
forest trees. The tangle of brilliant flowers, systematically arranged
by the concealed art of the Eastern horticulturist, shows many weird
botanical forms. Green spears, bristling on mossy banks, are starred
with crimson and barred with orange. Wine-coloured cacti twist
blue-green spikes and stems in grotesque contortions, and topaz or
ruby-tinted calladiums flame in thickets of hot colour outside cool
green dells, filled by a forest of tropical ferns, mosses, and
creepers. Lack of botanical knowledge constitutes a sore disadvantage
in this treasury of floral beauty, but happily we may "consider the
lilies," without cataloguing them, in this garden, "beautiful for
situation," and worthy to be a "joy of the whole earth." The sombre
jungle on the mountain side supplies the atmosphere of mystery which
enhances the ideal peace of the cloistered Paradise, wrapt in the
embrace of the haunted hills, and numbered among those visions of an
earlier Eden, only realised in the Asiatic birthplace of Humanity which
contained the typical Garden of the World, Divinely planted, where the
Voice from Heaven deepened the music of whispering leaves and sighing
breeze.

A purple-red pat--for even the jasper-tinted tropical soil is
beautiful, climbs through the glorious woods to the chief Sanatorium of
the Malay Peninsula. A free fight among the coolies before starting
demands a lengthy exercise of that stolidity with which the Western
pilgrim must invest himself, as the invulnerable armour needed by the
conflict of daily life. As a mere matter of personal convenience, this
quality bears scant resemblance to the weapons enumerated by S. Paul in
the Christian panoply. The oppressive heat, the futility of argument in
an almost unknown tongue, and the general uncertainty of the subject in
dispute, gradually producing this spurious virtue as the external
decoration of sorely-exasperated souls. The exertion of the long ascent
in the steaming heat requires six coolies for every chair. The red road
mounts through enchanting vistas of palms and creepers, on the edge of
the dark jungle, each turning point bringing a whiff of cooler air, as
the evening gold flickers through the velvety fronds of tree-ferns, and
the green feathers of spreading bamboos. From the white hotel near the
summit, the blue Straits and the flats of Province Wellesley, the
English portion of the Malay Peninsula, stand out against the frowning
ridge of mountains, for black thunder-clouds continually brood over
Malacca. Monkeys caper and chatter in the teak-trees bordering a
circular terrace, and an ideal sylvan path leads to the Signal Station,
Hospital, and Post Office, on an opposite height, dotted with the
bungalows of summer visitors. A palm-shaded plateau beneath the hotel
offers an ideal resting-place, but the impenetrable jungle covering the
Penang Hills makes expeditions on foot or by chair, impracticable, and
the wild deluges of rain, with terrific thunder peals bursting in
uncontrolled fury on this exposed peak, minimise the delights of a
mountain sojourn. The invasion of an army of jungle rats, behind the
walls and above the ceiling of a room sodden and dripping with the
afternoon's flood, completes the disillusion, and compels a hasty
descent to the warmer damp of the lowlands, for the Equatorial climate,
and the general absence of bed-coverings, causes a rheumatic stiffness
on rising, which has to be steamed out by the atmospheric vapour-bath
of the tropical island. A long rickshaw ride to Tanjong Bungah
("Flowery Point") completes the day's cure in a sweltering heat, which
on the return journey at 8 a.m. causes even the Chinese coolies to stop
perpetually at wayside stalls, for the coloured syrups and sticky
sweetmeats on which they perform prodigies of endurance and speed. An
English planter, in his solitary cacao-garden on the edge of the sea,
hails his compatriots with delight, and leads the way through the rocky
ravines bordering his solitary bungalow. The glories of the tropics
seldom alleviate the sense of exile, and cloudy England, with her
"green fields and pastures dim," remains dearer than all the pageantry
of Nature elsewhere to most of her absent sons.

The Buddhist temple of Ayer-Etam, built in ascending tiers on a steep
acclivity, varies the natural interests of Penang, with the marvels of
Chinese architecture elaborated in the deep seclusion of mountain and
forest. The dewy areca-palms throw a dark network of interlacing
shadows across the red road, winding for miles through the sylvan
scenery, the alchemy of the rising sun transmuting the myriad feathery
fronds into fountains of green fire. Only the creaking of a
bullock-waggon, or the thud of a falling cocoanut, breaks the hush of
the tropical daybreak, when the leaves only whisper in their dreams,
and the vernal earth, fresh as from her Creator's hand, renews her
strength for the heat and burden of the coming day. The colossal pile,
consisting of temple, monastery, and innumerable shrines, amid
fountains and fish-ponds, bridges and balconies, courts and terraces,
gleams whitely against the green gloom of the vast palm-forest on
either side, sloping sharply to the shimmering sea. The usual appalling
images of vermilion and gold guard every sculptured gateway, and
surmount the painted shrines encircled by parterres of votive flowers,
for the philosophic Buddhism of Ceylon and Siam gathers the moss and
weeds of many an incongruous accretion in countless ages of pilgrimage
through the Eastern world. The transcendental mysticism which spun the
finest cobwebs of human thought, crystallises into concrete form when
interpreted in the terms of China, where dim reminiscences of early
Nature worship, and the terrors which upheld the authority of many
obsolete creeds, have been incorporated into the vague ideals of Prince
Gautama's prophetic soul. Altars, strewn with fragrant champak-flowers,
stand beneath lace-carved alcoves of black teakwood, on the broad
plateaux which form welcome resting-places beside each flight of steps
on the marble stairway, the gilded pinnacles and aerial spires of the
white temple sparkling against the sea of rich foliage. A knot of
Burmese worshippers, with rose-coloured scarves and turbans, throw
their infinitesimal coins on the palm-leaf mats of a red-roofed shrine,
and tell the wooden beads of the Buddhist rosary, chanting the
perpetual refrain of "_Pain_, _Sorrow_, _Unreality_," as a warning
against the temptations of _Maya_, the world of illusion. The brown
faces raised imploringly to the presiding deity, a leering demon with
green face and yellow body, inspire the hope that the grotesque monster
may prove his own unreality by vanishing from the hearts of his
devotees into the limbo of nightmares from which he has emerged, for
the philosophic quietism of Buddhist creed offers no disguise to the
horrors of a hell far surpassing the terrific literalism of Dante's
Inferno. Rippling conduits edge pillared courts and cloistered arcades,
resplendent with frieze and cornice of blue and scarlet, a central
fountain falling in prismatic showers over a sacred pond of golden
carp. A white-robed monk smilingly conducts us across hump-backed
bridges and colonnaded galleries to a bench beneath a grey frangipanni
tree, starred with fragrant flowers, and brings welcome cups of tea,
before another struggle up the interminable steps, which symbolise the
mystic "path" leading to Nirvana's rest. Further hospitality meets us
at a yellow kiosk, higher up the sacred hill, where a dainty breakfast
of eggs, cakes, and honey stands on a white table-cloth, bearing a
steaming coffee-pot. The temple paraphernalia of Buddhist worship
strangely resembles Catholic imagery. Incense rises from open censers
on the dais, the blue cloud enveloping a gorgeous altar, encrusted with
gold. The central figure of Gautama Buddha, on the lotus leaf
expresses supernal calm, and the symbolic flower, in bud, blossom, or
foliage, forms the prevailing design of vase and amphora, within golden
lattice-work. Hanging lamps glow on rapt faces of attendant saints, or
on those supplementary local Buddhas which Chinese doctrine adds to the
comparative simplicity of the original system. The foreshadowing of
Christian truth culminates in the fact stated by a Buddhist priest,
that bread and wine of mystic meaning are reserved on the altars of
many among the forty subdivisions of Buddhism. The mountain Sanctuary,
though marred by debased decoration and heathenised by the lurid
figures of the guardian demons, inspires a reverent devotion, and
exercises a solemnising influence on many souls whose faith differs
from that of the white-clad monks, who seek to scale the dim heights of
perfection from this lofty peak. "The Light which lighteth every man"
must needs throw a faint and far-off ray even on an erroneous creed,
groping through the darkness for the outstretched Hands which embrace
all Humanity with boundless Love.

Penang, as a little field of missionary enterprise, possesses many
privileges often denied to the further islands of Malaysia. The variety
of immigrant races, the constant intercourse with the Indian mainland,
and the needs of travellers belonging to every nation, keep the
settlement in touch with a multitude of spiritual needs. Christianity,
both in Anglican and Roman guise, sows diligently in fields gradually
whitening to harvest. The English Church, with reverent services and
kindly priest, remains a little centre of cherished associations. The
S. Francis Xavier Institute, which brings many Chinese boys into the
Christian fold, through the labours of another Communion, carries on
the work of the great mediæval missionary, who reached the farthest
East in his apostolate of love. The scarlet, yellow, and white veils of
Eastern converts, the crowd of Eurasian Christians in both churches,
and the presence of a devout Malay priest assisting at the English
service, add unfamiliar notes of colour among the snowy muslins and
flower-decked hats of English residents, but correctness of costume,
both in men and women, contrasts refreshingly with the slovenly
déshabille of the Netherlands India, the last and easily-snapped link
between civilisation and barbarism.

An opportunity occurs for a visit to Taiping, the capital of the Native
Federated States, and situated in Province Wellesley. The launch
crosses to Prai, the rising port of Malacca, and the northern terminus
of the railway, sure to upset the passenger lists of the great steamers
by traversing the entire peninsula to Johore. Through a channel
bordered with weird mangroves, the boat enters a long, slow river,
flowing between boundless palm-forests. The "black but comely" captain
of the snorting boat escorts his European passengers to the station,
arranges tickets, and waits on the platform till the train starts; the
portly sailor in spotless linen, surmounted by his genial ebony face,
waving encouragement as long as we remain in sight. The perils and
dangers of the way are _nil_, and none of the threatened contingencies
arise, but to Eastern thought risks, however remote and improbable, add
to the value of a journey. Real drawbacks seem seldom mentioned, but
imaginary lions in the way offer unlimited scope to Oriental fancy, and
help to create a thrilling drama of destruction. Green paddi-fields,
tall sugar-canes, and a world of palms, rise from the alluvial flats of
Province Wellesley. The great rubber plantations, which form the chief
source of wealth in Malacca, follow in endless succession, but, as
usual, the astute Chinaman has obtained almost a monopoly of the
industry, from which the greatest fortunes of the tropics are now
derived. The bushy trees, with their black stems and ragged foliage,
are destitute of the beauty so lavishly bestowed even on the weeds of
this fertile soil. The tangled splendour of the wild jungle, which
presently borders the track, demonstrates the immense difficulty of
pioneering in a tropical forest, where the interlacing boughs of the
myriad trees, with their impenetrable screen of climbing parasites,
make perpetual walls of living green, defying human progress. Malay
villages, brown and palm-thatched in the immemorial style, stand on
piles above the swampy ground, which seems the approved site of
habitation. A barren district devastated by a forest fire, contains the
disused pits of ancient tin-mines, but these unsightly hollows have
been decorated by Nature's hand with a luxuriant growth of the frilled
pink lotus. Malay children, themselves unadorned, stand on wayside
platforms, every brown hand filled with the rosy chalices of the sacred
Buddhist emblem. Tradition says that the blossom, drawn up from the
mire by the rays of the morning sun, symbolised the earth-stained soul,
made pure and stainless by the attraction of that Divine Glory which
Buddhism, though in distorted form, strove to attain.

At the end of the sixty-mile journey, the English station-master at
Taiping proved a veritable friend in need, arranging for a hot
breakfast at the station, chartering rickshaw coolies, and--greatest
blessing of all--directing the route, with a menacing pantomime
concerning any shirking of duty, which saved all further trouble.
Taiping is in an early stage of progress, and the open _tokos_ in
waringen-shaded streets, show nothing but the necessaries of life, with
terrible mementos of Birmingham in petroleum lamps, hideous oleographs,
and machine-made household goods. Pretty bungalows stand beyond the
interlacing avenues of dusky trees, and a framework toy of a church in
the green outskirts, contains numerous brass tablets recording English
lives laid down in this weary land. These pathetic memorials seem the
only permanent features of the frail edifice in the shadowy God's-acre
already filled with graves. The newly-planted park, with a lake fringed
by a vivid growth of allemanda and hybiscus, stands below the purple
heights of a long mountain chain, but Taiping offers few inducements to
a prolonged stay, and after a hurried glimpse of terrific beasts and
snakes of the jungle, preserved in the local museum, we return to the
station, the kindly chef-de-gare disturbing his wife from her siesta in
the adjacent bungalow, to feast us on tea and bananas. Darkness falls
before the train reaches Penang, but a Chinese gentleman acts as pilot
across some rocking boats, with only a faint flare from expiring
torches to light the way, and starts the cringing coolies, with true
politeness to the "foreign devils," but manifest wonder at their
eccentric customs. Chinese womanhood, painted, bedizened, and tottering
on the pink and gold hoofs which cause a sickening shudder to the
Western spectator, indicates the barrier of prejudice to be surmounted
before China can mould national ideals into harmony with modern
progress.

The vicinity of Penang to the Equatorial junction of the maritime
world, widens local interests by the development of the Malay
Peninsula, partly governed through the instrumentality of native
Sultans under English guidance, but the abiding charm of the island
lies beyond the radius of the thriving port. Nature still reigns
supreme in this jewel of the Equator, where the amber swathes of Indian
laburnum, the golden-hearted whiteness of luscious frangipanni blossom,
and the red fire of the flamboyant tree, light up the endless aisles of
swaying palms, where temple-flower and tuberose mingle their fragrance
with the breath of clove and cinnamon, interpreting the imagery of the
Eastern monarch's bridal song, and luring each lover of Earth's
manifold beauty to "go down into her garden of spices and gather
lilies."



EPILOGUE.


The infinite variety of interests connected with the vast Malay
Archipelago, mainly dominated by European authority, can only be
inadequately mentioned in the simple record of a half-year's wandering
through scenes which stamp their unfading beauty indelibly on mind and
memory. Virgin fields of discovery still invite scientific exploration,
and the green sepulchre of Equatorial vegetation retains innumerable
secrets of Art and architecture. The geological mysteries of these
volcanic shores offer a host of unsolved problems, the surpassing
magnificence of flower and foliage makes every island a botanical
Paradise, and the varieties of race and language which moulded and
coloured the destinies of the Equatorial world, supply historian and
philologist with opportunities of unlimited research. The dim
chronicles of a distant past, inscribed in vague characters with faint
traces of the earliest Malay wanderers, link their shadowy pages with
historic records of falling dynasties and warring creeds, preceding
the eventful period of colonial enterprise, initiated by the wild
campaigns in quest of the precious spices. Although the Malay voyagers
remain veiled in the twilight which clouds the verge of authentic
history, the track of their keels may yet be followed through the
conflicting currents of that hitherto unknown ocean which they opened
to a future world. The forests and fishing grounds of every coast and
island still support the manifold divisions of the nomadic race which
forms the substratum of island life, and the star of hope which led
them onward, shone for many subsequent adventurers across those
Southern seas which aroused the energies and ambitions of later ages.
The symbolical stories of the world's infancy join the actual
experience of struggling humanity to the dreamland from whence it
emerged, as some syren song lured it into unknown regions. The
old-world legends of mankind "launching out into the deep, and letting
down the nets for a draught," repeat themselves from age to age, for
the human heart has ever sacrificed comfort and safety in order to set
sail upon some trackless ocean, on the chance of reaping that harvest
of life's sea for which man yearns with insatiable desire. The
wanderings of Odysseus, in the youth of the world, illustrate the
eternal pursuit of a visionary ideal, in those adventures which breathe
the undying romance of the sea. The resemblance between the traditions
of savage and civilised nations appears too strong to be fortuitous,
and indicates the underlying unity of feeling and purpose implanted in
the human race. Modern environment renders it impossible to calculate
the tremendous force of the mysterious impulse which swayed the onward
march of primeval tribes; even the later obstacles, overcome by bold
spirits who followed in their wake, can never be adequately realised
amid the artificial conditions of our present life. The charmed circle
of the "Equator's emerald zone," encloses a region of marvel and
mystery, where Imagination, the fairy with the magic mirror, helps to
interpret and reveal the secrets of Beauty and Truth, which transfigure
material form and colour with the halo of idealism. The tale of the
mysterious ages when "the threads of families" were first "woven into
the ropes of nations," still sways mind and fancy, but the romance of
the world continues, though the progress of Humanity varies the
pictured page. In the warm heart of the tropical Archipelago, Nature,
triumphing in eternal youth, seems to mock the transient phases of
aspiration and achievement, which vanish by turn into the misty past.
The great Mother chants her "Song of Songs" throughout the myriad
changes of Time, in terms so similar to the imagery of the Divine
Epithalamium that, from a human standpoint, it seems swept by the
spice-laden breezes of the Malayan Lotus-land, rather than by the
fainter fragrance wafted from the orchards and gardens of Palestine or
Egypt. Possibly the Syrian fleet, in search of ivory and peacocks,
touched at the enchanted shores where "all trees of frankincense"
perfumed the air, and produced those aromatic "powders of the
merchant," regarded as priceless treasures both in primitive and
mediæval days. The story might well capture the fancy of the royal
poet, and enrich the music of his verse with the luscious fragrance of
a more luxuriant land than even his own pastoral Canaan, flowing with
milk and honey. The hyperbole of Eastern thought often rests on a solid
foundation of fact, and the Hebrew love-song weaves tropical Nature's
lavish wealth of flower, fruit, and fragrance into a symbolic garland,
flung in passionate rapture at the feet of the beloved one. The
spiritual significance of the sacred lyric only transposes the mystic
melody into a higher key, and heaps the thurible of the sanctuary with
the frankincense of praise, to celebrate the typical bridal of Earth
and Heaven.

The diadem of palms on the last outlying islet of the Malay
Archipelago, stands out in dark relief against the golden haze of the
afterglow, which floods the sky, and changes the purple waters into a
sea of fire. The pageant of sunset lingers for a moment, and then
vanishes beneath of the pall of the swiftly-falling night. The
fairyland of eternal summer sinks below the horizon, and realities melt
into the shadows of that mental subconsciousness which holds the
wraiths of departed joys. Memories of the golden hours spent in
threading the flowery maze of the vast Archipelago, seem a mere handful
of shells gathered on the surf-beaten shores, but if even the empty
shell can hold the sound of the waves, this brief record of a cruise in
sunny seas may also convey faint whispers of that syren voice which
echoed through the ages of the past, and still allures the spellbound
listener to the swaying palms and spice-scented bowers of Malaya's
Island Paradise.



Transcriber's Notes:


The preference has been to retain inconsistencies and idiosyncracies in
spelling, especially of proper nouns, except in the case of obvious
typographical errors. Any corrections made are noted below.

Many Javanese names use the "oe" group of vowels. In a few cases, the
original text uses "oe" ligatures. Since such usage is inconsistent,
even for the same name, and the number of instances are few, the "oe"
ligatures have not been retained.

Inconsistencies in the hyphenation of words retained. (dream-like,
dreamlike; ear-rings, earrings; re-adjustment, readjustment;
sandal-wood, sandalwood; sub-consciousness, subconsciousness;
sub-divisions, subdivisions; thunder-clouds, thunderclouds;
waist-cloth, waistcloth; white-washed, whitewashed; wicker-work,
wickerwork)

In the original text, the entire Table of Contents was printed in
italic typeface. For the plaintext version of this ebook, in order to
reduce clutter, the standard markup for italics has not been used for
text in the Table of Contents.

Table of Contents, entry for "The Solo-Bessir Isles". The chapter
heading in the main text reads "THE SOELA-BESSIR ISLES." The original
wording has been retained in both cases.

Pg. 34, "int oa" changed to "into a". (forest aisles into a)

Pg. 35, "sanatorioum" changed to "sanatorium". (a favourite sanatorium
of the Dutch)

Pg. 38, "possing" changed to "possessing". (possessing a notable)

Pg. 79, unusual spelling "pourtrayed" retained.

Pg. 89, "ominious" changed to "ominous". (played an ominous part)

Pg. 94 and 202, "unmistakeable" is also spelled "unmistakable" on page
140. Original spellings retained in all cases.

Pg. 114 and 115, "sulphureous" is also spelled "sulphurous" on page 44.
Original spellings retained in all cases.

Pg. 118, "prisets" changed to "priests". (while the priests of Siva)

Pg. 144, "elswhere" changed to "elsewhere". (here as elsewhere)

Pg. 155, "benath" changed to "beneath". (beneath a hill covered)

Pg. 156, "pentrate" changed to "penetrate". (of air can penetrate)

Pg. 166, "smoulderng" changed to "smouldering". (which hides the
smouldering)

Pg. 179, "he" changed to "the". (from the motionless waters)

Pg. 187, "inagurated" changed to "inaugurated". (growth of foreign
vegetation was thus inaugurated)

Pg. 189, "Calvanistic" changed to "Calvinistic". (grimness of
Calvinistic creed)

Pg. 223, "violents" changed to "violent". (continuous roar of violent
explosions)

Pg. 239, "Buddhim" changed to "Buddhism". (philosophic Buddhism of
Ceylon)

Pg. 239, extraneous dot in between sentences: "through the Eastern
world. . The transcendental". It does not appear to be an ellipsis and
has thus been removed.

Pg. 243, extraneous dot in between sentences: "derived. . The bushy
trees". It does not appear to be an ellipsis and has thus been removed.

Pg. 247, "Archipegalo" changed to "Archipelago". (the vast Malay
Archipelago)





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