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Title: British Borneo - Sketches of Brunai, Sarawak, Labuan, and North Borneo
Author: Treacher, W. H. (William Hood), Sir, 1849-1919
Language: English
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Sketches of Brunai, Sarawak, Labuan, and North Borneo.


Secretary to the Government of Perak,
Formerly Administrator of Labuan and
H.B.M. Acting Consul-General in Borneo,
First Governor of British North Borneo.

Reprinted from the Journal of the Straits Settlements Branch
of the Royal Asiatic Society.

Printed at the Government Printing Department.



  THE Hudson's Bay Company's Charter, 1670. British North Borneo
  Company's Charter, November 1881, as a territorial power. The
  example followed by Germany. Borneo the second largest island in
  the world. Visited by Friar Odoric, 1322, by Berthema, 1503; but
  not generally known until, in 1518 Portuguese, and in 1521
  Spanish, expeditions touched there. Report of Pigafetta, the
  companion of Magellan, who found there a Chinese trading
  community. Origin of the name Borneo; sometimes known as
  Kalamantan. Spanish attack on Brunai, 1573. First Dutch
  connection, 1600; first British connection, 1609. Diamonds.
  Factory established by East India Company at Banjermassin, 1702,
  expelled by natives. British capture of Manila, 1762, and
  acquisition of Balambangan, followed by cession of Northern Borneo
  and part of Palawan. Spanish claims to Borneo abandoned by
  Protocol, 1885. Factory established at Balambangan, 1771, expelled
  by Sulus, 1775; re-opened 1803 and abandoned the following year.
  Temporary factory at Brunai. Pepper trade. Settlement of
  Singapore, 1819. Attracted trade of Borneo, Celebes, &c. Pirates.
  Brooke acquired Sarawak 1840, the first permanent British
  possession. Labuan a British Colony, 1846. The Dutch protest.
  Their possessions in Borneo. Spanish claims. Concessions of
  territory acquired by Mr. Dent, 1877-78. The monopolies of the
  first Europeans ruined trade: better prospect now opening. United
  States connection with Borneo. Population. Malays, their Mongolian
  origin. Traces of a Caucasic race, termed Indonesians. Buludupih
  legend. Names of aboriginal tribes. Pagans and Mahomedans.


  Description of Brunai, the capital, and its river. Not a typical
  Malayan river. Spanish Catholic Mission. British Consulate. Inche
  Mahomed. Moses and a former American Consulate. Pigafetta's
  estimate of population in 1521, 150,000. Present estimate, 12,000.
  Decay of Brunai since British connection. Life of a Brunai noble;
  of the children; of the women. Modes of acquiring slaves: 'forced
  trade.' Condition of slaves. Character and customs of Brunai
  Malays. Their religion, gambling, cock-fighting: _amoks_,
  marriage. Sultan and ministers and officers of the state. How
  paid. Feudal rights--Ka-rájahan, Kouripan, Pusaka. Ownership of
  land. Modes of taxation. Laws. Hajis. Punishments. Executions. A
  naval officer's mistake. No army, navy, or police, but the people
  universally armed. Cannon foundries. Brass guns as currency.
  Dollars and copper coinage. Taxation. Revenue; tribute from
  Sarawak and North Borneo; coal resources.


  Pigafetta's description of Brunai in 1521. Elephants. Reception by
  the King. Use of spirituous liquors. Population. Floating Market.
  Spoons. Ladies appearing in public. Obeisance. Modes of addressing
  nobles. The use of yellow confined to the Royal Family. Umbrellas
  closed when passing the Palace. Nobles only can sit in the stern
  of a boat. Ceremonies at a Royal reception; bees-wax candles.

  Mr. Dalrymple's description of Brunai in 1884. Quakers' meeting.
  Way to a Malay's heart lies through his pocket. Market place and
  hideous women. Beauties of the Harems. Present population.
  Cholera. Exports. Former Chinese pepper plantations. Good water
  supply. Nobles corrupt; lower classes not. The late Sultan Mumim.
  The present Sultan. Kampongs, or parishes and guilds. Methods of
  fishing: Kèlongs; Rambat; peculiar mode of prawn-catching;
  Serambau; Pukat; hook and line; tuba fishing. Sago. Tobacco; its
  growth and use. Areca-nut; its use and effects. Costumes of men
  and women. Jewellery. Weapons. The _kris_; _parang_; _bliong_;
  _parang ílang_. The Kayans imitated by the Dyaks in a curious
  personal adornment. Canoes: dug-outs; _pakerangan_; prahus;
  tongkangs; steering gear; similarity to ancient Vikings' boat;
  boat races. Paddling. The Brunais teetotallers and temperate.
  Business and political negotiations transacted through agents.
  Time no object. The place of signatures taken by seals or _chops_.
  The great seal of state. Brunais styled by the aborigines, _Orang
  Abai_. By religion Mahomedans, but Pagan superstitions cling to
  them; instances. Traces of Javanese and Hindu influences. A native
  chronicle of Brunai; Mahomedanism established about 1478;
  connection of Chinese with Borneo; explanation of the name
  Kina-balu applied to the highest mountain in the island. Pepper
  planting by Chinese in former years. Mention of Brunai in Chinese
  history. Tradition of an expedition by Kublai Khan. The Chinese
  driven away by misgovernment. Their descendants in the Bundu
  district. Other traces of Chinese intercourse with Borneo. Their
  value as immigrants. European expeditions against Brunai. How
  Rajah Brooke acquired Sarawak amidst the roar of cannon. Brooke's
  heroic disinterestedness. His appointment as British confidential
  agent in Borneo. The episode of the murder of Rajah Muda Hassim
  and his followers. Brunai attacked by Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane.
  Captain Rodney Mundy follows the Sultan into the jungle. The
  batteries razed and peace proclaimed.


  Sarawak under the Brooke dynasty. By incorporation of other rivers
  extends over 40,000 square miles, coast line 380 miles, population
  280,000. Limbang annexed by Sarawak. Further extension impossible.
  The Trusan river; 'trowser wearers'; acquired by Sarawak. The
  Limbang, the rice pot of Brunai. The Cross flown in the Muhamadan
  capital by pagan savages. A launch decorated with skulls. Dyak
  militia, the Sarawak 'Rangers,' and native police force. Peace of
  Sarawak kept by the people. Cheap government. Absolute Monarchy.
  Nominated Councils. The 'Civil Service,' 'Residents.' Law, custom,
  equity and common sense. Slavery abolished. Sources of
  revenue--'Opium Farm' monopoly, poll tax, customs, excise, fines
  and fees. Revenue and expenditure. Early financial straits.
  Sarawak offered to England, France and Holland. The Borneo Company
  (Ltd.). Public debt. Advantages of Chinese immigration 'Without
  the Chinese we can do nothing.' Java an exception. Chinese are
  good traders, agriculturists, miners, artizans, &c.: sober and
  law-abiding. Chinese secret societies and faction fights; death
  penalty for membership. Insurrection of Chinese, 1857. Chinese
  pepper and gambier planters. Exports--sago and jungle produce.
  Minerals--antimony, cinnabar, coal. Trade--agriculture.
  Description of the capital--Kuching. Sir Henry Keppel and Sir
  James Brooke. Piracy. 'Head money.' Charges against Sir J. Brooke.
  Recognition of Sarawak by United States and England. British
  protectorate. Death of Sir J. Brooke. Protestant and Roman
  Catholic Missions. Bishops MacDougal and Hose. Father Jackson.
  Mahomedans' conversion not attempted.


  Incident of the Limbang rebellion against Sultan of Brunai.
  Oppression of the nobles. Irregular taxation--Chukei basoh batis,
  bongkar sauh, tulongan, chop bibas, &c. The orang kayas. Repulse
  of the Tummonggong. Brunai threatened. Intervention of the writer
  as acting Consul General. Datu Klassi. Meeting broken up on news
  of attack by Muruts. Sultan's firman eventually accepted.
  Demonstration by H.M.S. _Pegasus_. 'Cooking heads' in Brunai
  river. Death of Sultan Mumim. Conditions of firman not observed by
  successor. Sir Frederick Weld visits and reports on North Borneo
  and Brunai. Legitimate extension of Sarawak to be encouraged.


  The Colony of Labuan, ceded to England in return for assistance
  against pirates. For similar reasons monopoly of pepper trade
  granted to the East India Company in 1774. First British
  connection with Labuan in 1775, on expulsion from Balambangan.
  Belcher and Brooke visit Brunai, 1844, to enquire into alleged
  detention of an European female. Offer of cession of Labuan. Rajah
  Muda Hassim. At Sultan's request, British attack Osman, in Marudu
  Bay, 1845. Brooke recognised as the Queen's agent in Borneo.
  Captain Mundy, R.N., under Lord Palmerston's instructions, hoists
  British flag in Labuan, 24th Dec., 1846. Brooke appointed the
  first Governor, 1847, being at the same time British
  representative in Borneo, and independent ruler of Sarawak. His
  staff of 'Queen's officers'; concluded present treaty with Brunai;
  ceased to be Governor 1851. Sir Hugh Low, Sir J. Pope Hennessy,
  Sir Henry Bulwer, Sir Charles Lees. Original expectations of the
  Colony not realized. Description of the island. The Kadayans.
  Agriculture, timber, trade. Overshadowed by Singapore, Sarawak,
  and North Borneo. Writer's suggestion for proclaiming British
  Protectorate over North Borneo, and assigning to it the Government
  of Labuan, has been adopted. Population of Labuan. Its coal
  measures and the failure of successive companies to work them; now
  being worked by Central Borneo Company (Ltd.). Chinese and natives
  worked well under Europeans. Revenue and expenditure. Labuan
  self-supporting since 1860. High-sounding official titles. One
  officer plays many parts. Labuan celebrated for its fruits,
  introduced by Sir Hugh Low. Sir Hugh's influence; instance of,
  when writer was fired on by Sulus. H.M.S. _Frolic_ on a rock.
  Captain Buckle, R.N. Dr. Treacher's coco-nut plantation. The


  British North Borneo; mode of acquisition; absence of any real
  native government; oppression of the inland pagans by the coast
  Muhamadans. Failure of American syndicate's Chinese colonization
  scheme in 1865. Colonel Torrey interests Baron Overbeck in the
  American concessions; Overbeck interests Sir Alfred Dent, who
  commissions him to acquire a transfer of the concessions from the
  Sultans of Brunai and Sulu, 1877-78. The ceded territory known as
  Sabah. Meaning of the term. Spanish claims on ground of suzerainty
  over Sulu. Not admitted by the British Government. The writer
  ordered to protest against Spanish claims to North Borneo, 1879.
  Spain renounced claims, by Protocol, 1885. Holland, on ground of
  the Treaty of 1824, objected to a British settlement in Borneo;
  also disputed the boundary between Dutch and British Borneo. The
  writer 'violates' Netherland territory and hoists the Company's
  flag on the south bank of the Siboku, 1883. Annual tribute paid to
  the Brunai Government. Certain intervening independent rivers
  still to be acquired. Dent's first settlements at Sandakan,
  Tampassuk, and Pappar. Messrs. Pryer, Pretyman, Witti, and
  Everett. Opposition of Datu Bahar at Pappar. Difficult position of
  the pioneer officers. Respect for Englishmen inspired by Brooke's
  exploits. Mr. W. H. Read. Mr. Dent forms a 'Provisional
  Association' pending grant of a Royal Charter, 1881, composed of
  Sir Rutherford Alcock, A. Dent, R. B. Martin, Admiral Mayne, W. H.
  Read. Sir Rutherford energetically advocates the scheme from
  patriotic motives. The British North Borneo Company incorporated
  by Royal Charter, 1st November, 1881; nominal capital two
  millions, £20 shares. 33,030 shares issued. Powers and conditions
  of the Charter. Flag.


  Area of British North Borneo exceeds that of Ceylon; points of
  similarity; styled 'The New Ceylon.' Joseph Hatton's book. Tobacco
  planters attracted from Sumatra. Coast-line, harbours, stations.
  Sandakan town and harbour; founded by Mr. Pryer. Destroyed by
  fire. Formerly used as a blockade station by Germans trading with
  Sulu. Capture of the blockade runner _Sultana_ by the Spaniards.
  Rich virgin soil and fever. Owing to propinquity of Hongkong and
  Singapore, North Borneo cannot become an emporium for eastern
  trade. Its mineralogical resources not yet ascertained. Gold,
  coal, and other minerals known to exist. Gold on the Segama river.
  Rich in timber. 'Billian' or iron-wood; camphor. Timber Companies.
  On board one of Her Majesty's ships billian proved three times as
  durable as lignum vitæ. Mangrove forests. Monotony of tropical
  scenery. Trade--a list of exports. Edible birds'-nests.
  Description of the great Gomanton birds'-nests caves. Mr
  Bampfylde. Bats' Guano. Mode of collecting nests. Lady and Miss
  Brassey visit the Madai caves, 1887. Bêche-de-mer, shark fins,
  cuttle fish. Position of Sandakan on the route between Australia
  and China--importance as a possible naval station. Shipping.
  Postal arrangements. Coinage. Currency. Banking. Probable cable

  CHAPTER IX. PAGES 117-127.

  Importance of the territory as a field for the cultivation of the
  fine tobacco used for 'wrappers.' Profits of Sumatra Tobacco
  Companies. Climate and Soil. Rainfall. Seasons. Dr. Walker. The
  sacred mountain, Kina-balu. Description of tobacco cultivation.
  Chinese the most suitable labour for tobacco; difficulty in
  procuring sufficient coolies. Count Geloes d'Elsloo. Coolies
  protected by Government. Terms on which land can be acquired.
  Tobacco export duty. Tobacco grown and universally consumed by the
  natives. Fibre plants. Government experimental garden.
  Sappan-wood. Cotton flock.

  CHAPTER X. PAGES 127-147.

  Erroneous ideas as to the objects of the Company. Difficult to
  steal Highlanders' trowsers. Natives 'take no thought for the
  morrow.' The Company does not engage in trade or agriculture. The
  Company's capital is a loan to the country, to be repaid with
  interest as the country developes under its administration. Large
  area of land to be disposed of without encroaching on native
  rights. Land sales regulations. Registration of titles. Minerals
  reserved. Transfer from natives to foreigners effected through the
  Government. Form of Government--the Governor, Residents, &c. Laws
  and Proclamations. The Indian Penal, Criminal, and Civil procedure
  codes adopted. Slavery--provision in the Charter regarding. Slave
  legislation by the Company. Summary of Mr. Witti's report on the
  slave system. Messrs. Everett and Fryer's reports. Commander
  Edwards, R.N., attacks the kidnapping village of Teribas in H.M.S.
  _Kestrel_. Slave keeping no longer pays. Religious customs of the
  natives preserved by the Charter. Employment of natives as
  Magistrates, &c. Head-hunting. Audit of 'Heads Account.' Human
  sacrifices. Native punishments for adultery and theft. Causes of
  scanty population. Absence of powerful warlike tribes. Head
  hunting--its origin. An incident in Labuan. Mr. A. Cook. Mr.
  Jesse's report on the Muruts to the East India Company. Good
  qualities of the aborigines. Advice to young officers. The
  Muhamadans of the coast, the Brunais, Sulus, Bajows. Capture by
  Bajows of a boat from an Austrian frigate. Baron Oesterreicher.
  Gambling and cattle lifting. The independent intervening rivers.
  Fatal affray in the Kawang river: death of de Fontaine, Fraser and
  others. Mr. Little. Mr. Whitehead. Bombardment of Bajow villages
  by Captain A. K. Hope, R.N., H.M.S. _Zephyr_. Captain Alington,
  R.N., in H.M.S. _Satellite_. The Illanuns and Balinini. Absence of
  Negritos. The 'tailed' people. Desecration of European graves.
  Muhamadans' sepulture. Burial customs of the aborigines.

  CHAPTER XI. PAGES 147-165.

  Importance of introducing Chinese into Borneo. Java not an
  example. Sir Walter Medhurst Commissioner of Chinese immigration.
  The Hakka Chinese settlers. Sir Spencer St. John on Chinese
  immigration. The revenue and expenditure of the territory. Zeal
  of the Company's officers. Armed Sikh and Dyak police. Impossible
  to raise a native force. Heavy expenditure necessary in the first
  instance. Carping critics. Cordial support from Sir Cecil Clementi
  Smith and the Government of the Straits Settlements. Visit of Lord
  Brassey--his article in the 'Nineteenth Century.' Further
  expenditure for roads, &c., will be necessary. What the Company
  has done for Borneo. Geographical exploration. Witti and Hatton.
  The lake struck off the map. Witti's murder. Hatton's accidental
  death. Admiral Mayne, C.B. The _Sumpitan_ or Blow-pipe. Errors
  made in opening most colonies, e.g. the Straits Settlements. The
  future of the country. The climate not unhealthy as a rule.
  Ladies. Game. No tigers. Crocodiles. The native dog. Pig and deer.
  Wild cattle. Elephants and Rhinoceros. Bear. Orang-utan.
  Long-nosed ape. Pheasants. The Company's motto--_Pergo et perago_.
  Governor Creagh. Mr. Kindersley.



In 1670 CHARLES II granted to the Hudson's Bay Company a Charter of
Incorporation, His Majesty delegating to the Company actual sovereignty
over a very large portion of British North America, and assigning to
them the exclusive monopoly of trade and mining in the territory.
Writing in 1869, Mr. WILLIAM FORSYTH, Q.C., says:--"I have endeavoured
to give an account of the constitution and history of the _last_ of the
great proprietary companies of England, to whom a kind of delegated
authority was granted by the Crown. It was by some of these that distant
Colonies were founded, and one, the most powerful of them all,
established our Empire in the East and held the sceptre of the Great
Mogul. But they have passed away

  ----fuit Ilium et ingens
  Gloria Teucrorum--

and the Hudson's Bay Company will be no exception to the rule. It may
continue to exist as a Trading Company, but as a Territorial Power it
must make up its mind to fold its (buffalo) robes round it and die with
dignity." Prophesying is hazardous work. In November, 1881, two hundred
and eleven years after the Hudson's Bay Charter, and twelve years after
the date of Mr. FORSYTH'S article, Queen VICTORIA granted a Charter of
Incorporation to the British North Borneo Company, which, by confirming
the grants and concessions acquired from the Sultans of Brunai and Sulu,
constitutes the Company the sovereign ruler over a territory of 31,000
square miles, and, as the permission to trade, included in the Charter,
has not been taken advantage of, the British North Borneo Company now
does actually exist "as a Territorial Power" and not "as a Trading

Not only this, but the example has been followed by Prince BISMARCK, and
German Companies, on similar lines, have been incorporated by their
Government on both coasts of Africa and in the Pacific; and another
British Company, to operate on the Niger River Districts, came into
existence by Royal Charter in July, 1886.

It used to be by no means an unusual thing to find an educated person
ignorant not only of Borneo's position on the map, but almost of the
very existence of the island which, regarding Australia as a continent,
and yielding to the claims recently set up by New Guinea, is the second
largest island in the world, within whose limits could be comfortably
packed England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, with a sea of dense jungle
around them, as WALLACE has pointed out. Every school-board child now,
however, knows better than this.

Though Friar ODORIC is said to have visited it about 1322, and LUDOVICO
BERTHEMA, of Bologna, between 1503 and 1507, the existence of this great
island, variously estimated to be from 263,000 to 300,000 square miles
in extent, did not become generally known to Europeans until, in 1518,
the Portuguese LORENZO DE GOMEZ touched at the city of Brunai. He was
followed in 1521 by the Spanish expedition, which under the leadership
of the celebrated Portuguese circumnavigator MAGELLAN, had discovered
the Philippines, where, on the island of Mactan, their leader was killed
in April, 1520. An account of the voyage was written by PIGAFETTA, an
Italian volunteer in the expedition, who accompanied the fleet to Brunai
after MAGELLAN'S death, and published a glowing account of its wealth
and the brilliancy of its Court, with its royally caparisoned elephants,
a report which it is very difficult to reconcile with the present
squalid condition of the existing "Venice of Hovels," as it has been
styled from its palaces and houses being all built in, or rather over,
the river to which it owes its name.

The Spaniards found at Brunai Chinese manufactures and Chinese trading
junks, and were so impressed with the importance of the place that they
gave the name of Borneo--a corruption of the native name Brunai--to the
whole island, though the inhabitants themselves know no such general
title for their country.

In some works, Pulau Kalamantan, which would signify _wild mangoes
island_, is given as the native name for Borneo, but it is quite
unknown, at any rate throughout North Borneo, and the island is by no
means distinguished by any profusion of wild mangoes.[1]

In 1573, a Spanish Embassy to Brunai met with no very favourable
reception, and three years later an expedition from Manila attacked the
place and, deposing a usurping Sultan, re-instated his brother on the
throne, who, to shew his gratitude, declared his kingdom tributary to

The Portuguese Governor of the Moluccas, in 1526, claimed the honour of
being the first discoverer of Borneo, and this nation appears to have
carried on trade with some parts of the island till they were driven out
of their Colonies by the Dutch in 1609. But neither the Portuguese nor
the Spaniards seem to have made any decided attempt to gain a footing in
Borneo, and it is not until the early part of the 17th century that we
find the two great rivals in the eastern seas--the English and the Dutch
East India Trading Companies--turning their attention to the island. The
first Dutchman to visit Borneo was OLIVER VAN NOORT, who anchored at
Brunai in December, 1600, but though the Sultan was friendly, the
natives made an attempt to seize his ship, and he sailed the following
month, having come to the conclusion that the city was a nest of rogues.

The first English connection with Borneo was in 1609, when trade was
opened with Sukadana, diamonds being said to form the principal portion
of it.

The East India Company, in 1702, established a Factory at Banjermassin,
on the South Coast, but were expelled by the natives in 1706. Their
rivals, the Dutch, also established Trading Stations on the South and
South-West Coasts.

In 1761, the East India Company concluded a treaty with the Sultan of
Sulu, and in the following year an English Fleet, under Admiral DRAKE
and Sir WILLIAM DRAPER captured Manila, the capital of the Spanish
Colony of the Philippines. They found in confinement there a Sultan of
Sulu who, in gratitude for his release, ceded to the Company, on the
12th September, 1762, the island of Balambangan, and in January of the
following year Mr. DALRYMPLE was deputed to take possession of it and
hoist the British flag. Towards the close of 1763, the Sultan of Sulu
added to his cession the northern portion of Borneo and the southern
half of Palawan, together with all the intermediate islands. Against all
these cessions the Spanish entered their protest, as they claimed the
suzerainty over the Sulu Archipelago and the Sulu Dependencies in Borneo
and the islands. This claim the Spaniards always persisted in, until, on
the 7th March, 1885, a Protocol was entered into by England and Germany
and Spain, whereby Spanish supremacy over the Sulu Archipelago was
recognised on condition of their abandoning all claim to the portions of
Northern Borneo which are now included in the British North Borneo
Company's concessions.

In November, 1768, the Court of Directors in London, with the approval
of Her Majesty's Ministers, who promised to afford protection to the new
Colony, issued orders to the authorities at Bombay for the establishment
of a settlement at Balambangan with the intention of diverting to it the
China trade, of drawing to it the produce of the adjoining countries,
and of opening a port for the introduction of spices, etc. by the Bugis,
and for the sale of Indian commodities. The actual date of the
foundation of the settlement is not known, but Mr. F. C. DANVERS states
that in 1771 the Court ordered that the Government should be vested in
"a chief and two other persons of Council," and that the earliest
proceedings extant are dated Sulu, 1773, and relate to a broil in the
streets between Mr. ALCOCK, the second in the Council, and the Surgeon
of the _Britannia_.

This was a somewhat unpropitious commencement, and in 1774 the Court are
found writing to Madras, to which Balambangan was subordinate,
complaining of the "imprudent management and profuse conduct" of the
Chief and Council.

In February, 1775, Sulu pirates surprised the stockade, and drove out
the settlers, capturing booty valued at about a million dollars. The
Company's officials then proceeded to the island of Labuan, now a
British Crown Colony, and established a factory, which was maintained
but for a short time, at Brunai itself. In 1803 Balambangan was again
occupied, but as no commercial advantage accrued, it was abandoned in
the following year, and so ended all attempts on the part of the East
India Company to establish a Colony in Borneo.

While at Balambangan, the officers, in 1774, entered into negotiations
with the Sultan of Brunai, and on undertaking to protect him against
Sulu and Mindanau pirates, acquired the exclusive trade in all the
pepper grown in his country.

The settlement of Singapore, the present capital of the Straits
Settlements, by Sir STAMFORD RAFFLES, under the orders of the East India
Company in 1819, again drew attention to Borneo, for that judiciously
selected and free port soon attracted to itself the trade of the
Celebes, Borneo and the surrounding countries, which was brought to it
by numerous fleets of small native boats. These fleets were constantly
harassed and attacked and their crews carried off into slavery by the
Balinini, Illanun, and Dyak pirates infesting the Borneo and Celebes
coasts, and the interference of the British Cruisers was urgently called
for and at length granted, and was followed, in the natural course of
events, by political intervention, resulting in the brilliant and
exciting episode whereby the modern successor of the olden heroes--Sir
James Brooke--obtained for his family, in 1840, the kingdom of Sarawak,
on the west coast of the island, which he in time purged of its two
plague spots--head-hunting on shore, and piracy and slave-dealing
afloat--and left to his heir, who has worthily taken up and carried on
his work, the unique inheritance of a settled Eastern Kingdom, inhabited
by the once dreaded head-hunting Dyaks and piratical Mahomedan Malays,
the government of whom now rests absolutely in the hands of its one
paternally despotic white ruler, or Raja. Sarawak, although not yet
formally proclaimed a British Protectorate,[2] may thus be deemed the
first permanent British possession in Borneo. Sir JAMES BROOKE was also
employed by the British Government to conclude, on 27th May, 1847, a
treaty with the Sultan of Brunai, whereby the cession to us of the small
island of Labuan, which had been occupied as a British Colony in
December, 1846, was confirmed, and the Sultan engaged that no
territorial cession of any portion of his country should ever be made to
any Foreign Power without the sanction of Great Britain.

These proceedings naturally excited some little feeling of jealousy in
our Colonial neighbours--the Dutch--who ineffectually protested against
a British subject becoming the ruler of Sarawak, as a breach of the
tenor of the treaty of London of 1824, and they took steps to define
more accurately the boundaries of their own dependencies in such other
parts of Borneo as were still open to them. What we now call British
North Borneo, they appear at that time to have regarded as outside the
sphere of their influence, recognising the Spanish claim to it through
their suzerainty, already alluded to, over the Sulu Sultan.

With this exception, and that of the Brunai Sultanate, already secured
by the British Treaty, and Sarawak, now the property of the BROOKE
family, the Dutch have acquired a nominal suzerainty over the whole of
the rest of Borneo, by treaties with the independent rulers--an area
comprising about two-thirds of the whole island, probably not a tenth
part of which is under their actual direct administrative control.

They appear to have been so pre-occupied with the affairs of their
important Colony of Java and its dependencies, and the prolonged,
exhausting and ruinously expensive war with the Achinese in Sumatra,
that beyond posting Government Residents at some of the more important
points, they have hitherto done nothing to attract European capital and
enterprise to Borneo, but it would now seem that the example set by the
British Company in the North is having its effect, and I hear of a
Tobacco Planting Company and of a Coal Company being formed to operate
on the East Coast of Dutch Borneo.

The Spanish claim to North Borneo was a purely theoretical one, and not
only their claim, but that also of the Sulus through whom they claimed,
was vigorously disputed by the Sultans of Brunai, who denied that, as
asserted by the Sulus, any portion of Borneo had been ceded to them by a
former Sultan of Brunai, who had by their help defeated rival claimants
and been seated on the throne. The Sulus, on their side, would own no
allegiance to the Spaniards, with whom they had been more or less at war
for almost three centuries, and their actual hold over any portion of
North Borneo was of the slightest. Matters were in this position when
Mr. ALFRED DENT, now Sir ALFRED DENT, K.C.M.G., fitted out an
expedition, and in December, 1877, and January, 1878, obtained from the
Sultans of Brunai and Sulu, in the manner hereafter detailed, the
sovereign control over the North portion of Borneo, from the Kimanis
river on the West to the Siboku river on the East, concessions which
were confirmed by Her Majesty's Royal Charter in November, 1881.

I have now traced, in brief outline, the political history of Borneo
from the time when the country first became generally known to
Europeans--in 1518--down to its final division between Great Britain and
the Netherlands in 1881.

If we can accept the statements of the earlier writers, Borneo was in
its most prosperous stage before it became subjected to European
influences, after which, owing to the mistaken and monopolising policy
of the Commercial Companies then holding sway in the East, the trade and
agriculture of this and other islands of the Malay Archipelago received
a blow from which at any rate that of Borneo is only now recovering. By
the terms of its Charter, the British North Borneo Company is prohibited
from creating trade monopolies, and of its own accord it has decided not
to engage itself in trading transactions at all, and as Raja BROOKE'S
Government is similar to that of a British Crown Colony, and the Dutch
Government no longer encourage monopolies, there is good ground for
believing that the wrong done is being righted, and that a brighter page
than ever is now being opened for Borneo and its natives.

Before finishing with this part of the subject, I may mention that the
United States Government had entered into a treaty with the Sultan of
Brunai, in almost exactly the same words as the English one, including
the clause prohibiting cessions of territory without the consent of the
other party to the treaty, and, in 1878, Commodore SCHUFELDT was ordered
by his Government to visit Borneo and report on the cessions obtained by
Mr. DENT. I was Acting British Consul-General at the time, and before
leaving the Commodore informed me emphatically that he could discover no
American interests in Borneo, "neither white nor black."

The native population of Borneo is given in books of reference as
between 1,750,000 and 2,500,000. The aborigines are of the Malay race,
which itself is a variety of the Mongolian and indeed, when inspecting
prisoners, I have often been puzzled to distinguish the Chinese from the
Malay, they being dressed alike and the distinctive _pig-tail_ having
been shaved off the former as part of the prison discipline.

These Mongolian Malays from High Asia, who presumably migrated to the
Archipelago _viâ_ the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra, must, however, have
found Borneo and other of the islands partially occupied by a Caucasic
race, as amongst the aborigines are still found individuals of
distinctive Caucasic type, as has been pointed out to be the case with
the Buludupih tribe of British North Borneo, by Dr. MONTANO, whom I had
the pleasure of meeting in Borneo in 1878-9. To these the name of
pre-Malays has been given, but Professor KEANE, to whom I beg to
acknowledge my indebtedness on these points, prefers the title of
Indonesians. The scientific descriptions of a typical Malay is as
follows:--"Stature little over five feet, complexion olive yellow, head
brachy-cephalous or round, cheek-bones prominent, eyes black and
slightly oblique, nose small but not flat, nostrils dilated, hands small
and delicate, legs thin and weak, hair black, coarse and lank, beard
absent or scant;" but these Indonesians to whom belong most of the
indigenous inhabitants of Celebes, are taller and have fairer or light
brown complexions and regular features, connecting them with the brown
Polynesians of the Eastern Pacific "who may be regarded as their
descendants," and Professor KEANE accounts for their presence by
assuming "a remote migration of the Caucasic race to South-Eastern Asia,
of which evidences are not lacking in Camboja and elsewhere, and a
further onward movement, first to the Archipelago and then East to the
Pacific." It is needless to say that the aborigines themselves have the
haziest and most unscientific notion of their own origin, as the
following account, gravely related to me by a party of Buludupihs, will

    "_The Origin of the Buludupih Race._

    In past ages a Chinese[3] settler had taken to wife a daughter
    of the aborigines, by whom he had a female child. Her parents
    lived in a hilly district (_Bulud_ = hill), covered with a large
    forest tree, known by the name of _opih_. One day a jungle fire
    occurred, and after it was over, the child jumped down from the
    house (native houses are raised on piles off the ground), and
    went up to look at a half burnt _opih_ log, and suddenly
    disappeared and was never seen again. But the parents heard the
    voice of a spirit issue from the log, announcing that it had
    taken the child to wife and that, in course of time, the
    bereaved parents would find an infant in the jungle, whom they
    were to consider as the offspring of the marriage, and who
    would become the father of a new race. The prophecy of the
    spirit was in due time fulfilled."

It somewhat militates against the correctness of this history that the
Buludupihs are distinguished by the absence of Mongolian features.

The general appellation given to the aborigines by the modern Malays--to
whom reference will be made later on--is _Dyak_, and they are divided
into numerous tribes, speaking very different dialects of the
Malayo-Polynesian stock, and known by distinctive names, the origin of
which is generally obscure, at least in British North Borneo, where
these names are _not_, as a rule, derived from those of the rivers on
which they dwell.

The following are the names of some of the principal North Borneo
aboriginal tribes:--Kadaians, Dusuns, Ida'ans, Bisaias, Buludupihs,
Eraans, Subans, Sun-Dyaks, Muruts, Tagaas. Of these, the Kadaians,
Buludupihs, Eraans and one large section of the Bisaias have embraced
the religion of Mahomet; the others are Pagans, with no set form of
religion, no idols, but believing in spirits and in a future life, which
they localise on the top of the great mountain of Kina-balu. These
Pagans are a simple and more natural, less self-conscious, people than
their Mahomedan brethren, who are ahead of them in point of
civilization, but are more reserved, more proud and altogether less
"jolly," and appear, with their religion, to have acquired also some of
the characteristics of the modern or true Malays. A Pagan can sit, or
rather squat, with you and tell you legends, or, perhaps, on an occasion
join in a glass of grog, whereas the Mahomedan, especially the true
Malay, looks upon the Englishman as little removed from a "Kafir"--an
uncircumcised Philistine--who through ignorance constantly offends in
minor points of etiquette, who eats pig and drinks strong drink, is
ignorant of the dignity of repose, and whose accidental physical and
political superiority in the present world will be more than compensated
for by the very inferior and uncomfortable position he will attain in
the next. The aborigines inhabit the interior parts of North Borneo, and
all along the coast is found a fringe of true Malays, talking modern
Malay and using the Arabic written character, whereas the aborigines
possess not even the rudiments of an alphabet and, consequently, no
literature at all.

How is the presence in Borneo of this more highly civilized product of
the Malay race, differing so profoundly in language and manners from
their kinsmen--the aborigines--to be accounted for? Professor KEANE once
more comes to our assistance, and solves the question by suggesting that
the Mongolian Malays from High Asia who settled in Sumatra, attained
there a real national development in comparatively recent times, and
after their conversion to Mahomedanism by the Arabs, from whom, as well
as from the Bhuddist missionaries who preceded them, they acquired arts
and an elementary civilization, spread to Borneo and other parts of
Malaysia and quickly asserted their superiority over the less advanced
portion of their race already settled there. This theory fits in well
with the native account of the distribution of the Malay race, which
makes Menangkabau, in Southern Sumatra, the centre whence they spread
over the Malayan islands and peninsula.

The Professor further points out, that in prehistoric times the Malay
and Indonesian stock spread westwards to Madagascar and eastwards to the
Philippines and Formosa, Micronesia and Polynesia. "This astonishing
expansion of the Malaysian people throughout the Oceanic area is
sufficiently attested by the diffusion of common (Malayo-Polynesian)
speech from Madagascar to Easter Island and from Hawaii to New Zealand."


[Footnote 1: The explanation _Sago Island_ has been given, _lamantah_
being the native term for the raw sago sold to the factories.]

[Footnote 2: A British Protectorate was established over North Borneo on
the 12th May, over Sarawak on the 14th June, and over Brunai on the 17th
September, 1888. _Vide_ Appendix.]

[Footnote 3: The Buludupihs inhabit the China or Kina-batangan river,
and Sir HUGH LOW, in a note to his history of the Sultans of Brunai, in
a number of the Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic
Society, says that it is probable that in former days the Chinese had a
Settlement or Factory at that river, as some versions of the native
history of Brunai expressly state that the Chinese wife of one of the
earliest Sultans was brought thence.]


The headquarters of the true Malay in Northern Borneo is the City of
Brunai, on the river of that name, on the North-West Coast of the
island, where resides the Court of the only nominally independent Sultan
now remaining in the Archipelago.[4]

The Brunai river is probably the former mouth of the Limbang, and is now
more a salt water inlet than a river. Contrary, perhaps, to the general
idea, an ordinary eastern river, at any rate until the limit of
navigability for European craft is attained, is not, as a rule, a thing
of beauty by any means.

The typical Malay river debouches through flat, fever-haunted swampy
country, where, for miles, nothing meets the eye but the monotonous dark
green of the level, interminable mangrove forest, with its fantastic,
interlacing roots, whose function it appears to be to extend seaward,
year by year, its dismal kingdom of black fetid mud, and to veil from
the rude eye of the intruder the tropical charms of the country at its
back. After some miles of this cheerless scenery, and at a point where
the fresh water begins to mingle with the salt, the handsome and useful
_nipa_ palm, with leaves twenty to thirty feet in length, which supply
the native with the material for the walls and roof of his house, the
wrapper for his cigarette, the sugar for his breakfast table, the salt
for his daily needs and the strong drink to gladden his heart on his
feast days, becomes intermixed with the mangrove and finally takes its
place--a pleasing change, but still monotonous, as it is so dense that,
itself growing in the water, it quite shuts out all view of the bank and
surrounding country.

One of the first signs of the fresh river water, is the occurrence on
the bank of the graceful _nibong_ palm, with its straight, slender,
round stem, twenty to thirty feet in height, surmounted with a plume of
green leaves. This palm, cut into lengths and requiring no further
preparation, is universally employed by the Malay for the posts and
beams of his house, always raised several feet above the level of the
ground, or of the water, as the case may be, and, split up into lathes
of the requisite size, forms the frame-work of the walls and roof, and
constitutes the flooring throughout. With the pithy centre removed, the
_nibong_ forms an efficient aqueduct, in the absence of bambu, and its
young, growing shoot affords a cabbage, or salad, second only to that
furnished by the coco-nut, which will next come into view, together with
the betel (_Areca_) nut palm, if the river visited is an inhabited one;
but if uninhabited, the traveller will find nothing but thick, almost
impenetrable jungle, with mighty trees shooting up one hundred to a
hundred and fifty feet without a branch, in their endeavour to get their
share of the sun-light, and supporting on their trunks and branches
enormous creepers, rattans, graceful ferns and lovely orchids and other
luxuriant epiphytal growths. Such is the typical North Borneo river, to
which, however, the Brunai is a solitary exception. The mouth of the
Brunai river is approached between pretty verdant islets, and after
passing through a narrow and tortuous passage, formed naturally by
sandbanks and artificially by a barrier of stones, bare at low water,
laid down in former days to keep out the restless European, you find
your vessel, which to cross the bar should not draw more than thirteen
or fourteen feet, in deep water between green, grassy, hilly,
picturesque banks, with scarcely a sign of the abominable mangrove, or
even of the _nipa_, which, however, to specially mark the contrast
formed by this stream, are both to be found in abundance in the _upper_
portion of the river, which the steamer cannot enter. After passing a
small village or two, the first object which used to attract attention
was the brick ruins of a Roman Catholic Church, which had been erected
here by the late Father CUARTERON, a Spanish Missionary of the Society
of the Propaganda Fide, who, originally a jovial sea captain, had the
good fortune to light upon a wrecked treasure ship in the Eastern seas,
and, feeling presumably unwonted twinges of conscience, decided to
devote the greater part of his wealth to the Church, in which he took
orders, eventually attaining the rank of Prefect Apostolic. His Mission,
unfortunately, was a complete failure, but though his assistants were
withdrawn, he stuck to his post to the last and, no doubt, did a certain
amount of good in liberating, from time to time, Spanish subjects he
found in slavery on the Borneo Coast.

Had the poor fellow settled in the interior, amongst the Pagans, he
might, by his patience and the example of his good life, have made some
converts, but amongst the Mahomedans of the coast it was labour in vain.
The bricks of his Brunai Church have since been sold to form the
foundation of a steam sawmill.

Turning a sharp corner, the British Consulate is reached, where
presides, and flies with pride the Union Jack, Her Majesty's Consular
Agent, Mr. or Inche MAHOMET, with his three wives and thirteen children.
He is a native of Malacca and a clever, zealous, courteous and
hospitable official, well versed in the political history of Brunai
since the advent of Sir JAMES BROOKE.

The British is the only Consulate now established at Brunai, but once
the stars and stripes proudly waved over the Consulate of an unpaid
American Consul. There was little scope at Brunai for a white man in
pursuit of the fleeting dollar, and one day the Consulate was burnt to
the ground, and a heavy claim for compensation for this alleged act of
incendiarism was sent in to the Sultan. His Highness disputed the claim,
and an American man-of-war was despatched to make enquiries on the spot.
In the end, the compensation claimed was not enforced, and Mr. MOSES,
the Consul, was not subsequently, I think, appointed to any other
diplomatic or consular post by the President of the Republic. A little
further on are the palaces, shops and houses of the city of Brunai, all,
with the exception of a few brick shops belonging to Chinamen, built
over the water in a reach where the river broadens out, and a vessel can
steam up the High Street and anchor abreast of the Royal Palace. When
PIGAFETTA visited the port in 1521, he estimated the number of houses at
25,000, which, at the low average of six to a house, would give Brunai a
population of 150,000 people, many of whom were Chinese, cultivating
pepper gardens, traces of which can still be seen on the now deserted
hills. Sir SPENCER ST. JOHN, formerly H. B. M. Consul-General in Borneo,
and who put the population at 25,000 at the lowest in 1863, asserts that
fifteen is a fair average to assign to a Brunai house, which would make
the population in PIGAFETTA'S time 375,000. From his enquiries he found
that the highest number was seventy, in the Sultan's palace, and the
lowest seven, in a fisherman's small hut. PIGAFETTA, however, probably
alluded to families, _fires_ I think is the word he makes use of, and
more than one family is often found occupying a Brunai house. The
present population perhaps does not number more than 12,000 or 15,000
natives, and about eighty Chinese and a few Kling shop-keepers, as
natives of India are here styled. Writing in 1845, Sir JAMES BROOKE,
then the Queen's first Commissioner to Brunai, says with reference to
this Sultanate:--"Here the experiment may be fairly tried, on the
smallest possible scale of expense, whether a beneficial European
influence may not re-animate a falling State and at the same time
extend our commerce. * * * If this tendency to decay and extinction
be inevitable, if this approximation of European policy to native
Government should be unable to arrest the fall of the Bornean dynasty,
yet we shall retrieve a people already habituated to European habits and
manners, industrious interior races; and if it become necessary, a
Colony gradually formed and ready to our hand in a rich and fertile
country," and elsewhere he admits that the regeneration of the Borneo
Malays through themselves was a hobby of his. The experiment has been
tried and, so far as concerns the re-animation of the Malay Government
of Brunai, the verdict must be "a complete failure." The English are a
practical race, and self-interest is the guide of nations in their
intercourse with one another; it was not to be supposed that they would
go out of their way to teach the degenerate Brunai aristocracy how to
govern in accordance with modern ideas; indeed, the Treaty we made with
them, by prohibiting, for instance, their levying customs duties, or
royalties, on the export of such jungle products as gutta percha and
India rubber, in the collection of which the trees yielding them are
entirely destroyed, and by practically suggesting to them the policy, or
rather the impolicy, of imposing the heavy due of $1 per registered ton
on all European Shipping entering their ports, whether in cargo or in
ballast, scarcely tended to stave off their collapse, and the Borneans
must have formed their own conclusions from the fact that when they gave
up portions of their territory to the BROOKES and to the British North
Borneo Company, the British Government no longer called for the
observance of these provisions of the Treaty in the ceded districts. The
English have got all they wanted from Brunai, but I think it can
scarcely be said that they have done very much for it in return. I
remember that the late Sultan thought it an inexplicable thing that we
could not assist him to recover a debt due to him by one of the British
Coal Companies which tried their luck in Borneo. Moreover, even the
cession to their good and noble friend Sir JAMES BROOKE of the Brunai
Province of Sarawak has been itself also, to a certain extent, a factor
in their Government's decay, that State, under the rule of the
Rája--CHARLES BROOKE--having attained its present prosperous condition
at the expense of Brunai and by gradually absorbing its territory.

Between British North Borneo, on the one side, and Sarawak, on the
other, the sea-board of Brunai, which, when we first appeared on the
scene, extended from Cape Datu to Marudu Bay--some 700 miles--is now
reduced to 125 or 130 miles, and, besides the river on which it is
built, Brunai retains but two others of any importance, both of which
are in rebellion of a more or less vigorous character, and the whole
State of Brunai is so sick that its case is now under the consideration
of Her Majesty's Government.

Thus ends in collapse the history of the last independent Malay
Government. Excepting only Johor (which is prosperous owing to its being
under the wing of Singapore, which fact gives confidence to European and
Chinese capitalists and Chinese labourers, and to its good fortune in
having a wise and just ruler in its Sultan, who owes his elevation to
British influences), all the Malay Governments throughout the Malay
Archipelago and in the Malay Peninsula are now subject either to the
English, the Dutch, the Spanish or the Portuguese. This decadence is not
due to any want of vitality in the race, for under European rule the
Malay increases his numbers, as witness the dense population of Java and
the rapidly growing Malay population of the Straits Settlements.

That the Malay does so flourish in contact with the European and the
Chinese is no doubt to some extent due to his attachment to the
Mahomedan faith, which as a tee-total religion is, so far, the most
suitable one for a tropical race; it has also to be remembered that he
inhabits tropical countries, where the white man cannot perform out-door
labour and appears only as a Government Official, a merchant or a

But the decay of the Brunai aristocracy was probably inevitable. Take
the life of a young noble. He is the son of one of perhaps thirty women
in his father's harem, his mother is entirely without education, can
neither read nor write, is never allowed to appear in public or have any
influence in public affairs, indeed scarcely ever leaves her house, and
one of her principal excitements, perhaps, is the carrying on of an
intrigue, an excitement enhanced by the fact that discovery means
certain death to herself and her lover.

Brunai being a water town, the youngster has little or no chance of a
run and game ashore, and any exercise he takes is confined to _being_
paddled up and down the river in a canoe, for to paddle himself would be
deemed much too degrading--a Brunai noble should never put his hand to
any honest physical work--even for his own recreation. I once imported a
Rob Roy canoe from England and amused myself by making long paddling
excursions, and I would also sometimes, to relieve the monotony of a
journey in a native boat, take a spell at the paddle with the men, and I
was gravely warned by a native friend that by such action I was
seriously compromising myself and lowering my position in the eyes of
the higher class of natives. At an early age the young noble becomes an
object of servile adulation to the numerous retainers and slaves, both
male and female, and is by them initiated in vicious practices and,
while still a boy, acquires from them some of the knowledge of a fast
man of the world. As a rule he receives no sort of school education. He
neither rides nor joins in the chase and, since the advent of Europeans,
there have been no wars to brace his nerves, or call out any of the
higher qualities of mind or body which may be latent in him; nor is
there any standing army or navy in which he might receive a beneficial
training. No political career, in the sense we attach to the term, is
open to him, and he has no feelings of patriotism whatever. That an
aristocracy thus nurtured should degenerate can cause no surprise. The
general term for the nobles amongst the Brunais is _Pangeran_, and their
numbers may be guessed when it is understood that every son and
daughter of every many-wived noble is also a Pangeran.

Some of these unfortunate noblemen have nothing wherewith to support
their position, and in very recent times I have actually seen a needy
Pangeran, in a British Colony where he could not live by oppression or
theft, driven to work in a coal mine or drive a buffalo cart.

With the ordinary freeborn citizen of Brunai life opens under better
auspices. The children are left much to themselves and are merry,
precocious, naked little imps, able to look out for themselves at a very
much earlier age than is the case with European infants, and it is
wonderful to see quite little babies clambering up the rickety stairs
leading from the river to the house, or crawling unheeded on the
tottering verandahs. Almost before they can walk they can swim, and they
have been known to share their mother's cigarettes while still in arms.
All day long they amuse themselves in miniature canoes, rolling over and
over in the water, regardless of crocodiles. Happy children! they have
no school and no clothes--one might, perhaps, exclaim happy parents,
too! Malays are very kind and indulgent to their children and I do not
think I have seen or heard of a case of the application of the parental
hand to any part of the infant person. As soon as he is strong enough,
say eight or nine years of age, the young Malay, according to the
_kampong_, or division of the town, in which his lot has been cast,
joins in his father's trade and becomes a fisherman, a trader, or a
worker in brass or in iron as the case may be. The girls have an equally
free and easy time while young, their only garments being a silver fig
leaf, fastened to a chain or girdle round the waist. As they grow up
they help their mothers in their household duties, or by selling their
goods in the daily floating market; they marry young and are, as a rule,
kindly treated by their husbands. Although Mahomedans, they can go about
freely and unveiled, a privilege denied to their sisters of the higher
classes. The greatest misfortune for such a girl is, perhaps, the
possession of a pretty face and figure, which may result in her being
honoured with the attentions of a noble, in whose harem she may be
secluded for the rest of her life, and, as her charms wane her supply of
both food and clothing is reduced to the lowest limit.

By the treaty with Great Britain traffic in slaves is put down, that is,
Borneo is no longer the mart where, as in former days, the pirates can
bring in their captives for sale; but the slaves already in the place
have not been liberated, and a slave's children are slaves, so that
domestic slavery, as it is termed, exists on a very considerable scale
in Brunai. Slaves were acquired in the old days by purchase from pirates
and, on any pretext, from the Pagan tribes of Borneo. For instance, if a
feudal chief of an outlying river was in want of some cash, nothing was
easier than for him to convict a man, who was the father of several
children, of some imaginary offence, or neglect of duty, and his
children, girls and boys, would be seized and carried off to Brunai as
slaves. A favourite method was that of "forced trade." The chief would
send a large quantity of trade goods to a Pagan village and leave them
there to be sold at one hundred per cent, or more above their proper
value, all legitimate trade being prohibited meanwhile, and if the money
or barter goods were not forthcoming when demanded, the deficiency would
be made up in slaves. This kind of oppression was very rife in the
neighbourhood of the capital when I first became acquainted with Borneo
in 1871, but the power of the chiefs has been much curtailed of late,
owing to the extensive cessions of territory to Sarawak and the British
North Borneo Company, and their hold on the rivers left to them has
become very precarious, since the warlike Kyans passed under Rája
BROOKE'S sway. This tribe, once the most powerful in Borneo, was always
ready at the Sultan's call to raid on any tribe who had incurred his
displeasure and revelled in the easy acquisition of fresh heads, over
which to hold the triumphal dance. The Brunai Malays are not a warlike
race, and the Rájas find that, without the Kyans, they are as a tiger
with its teeth drawn and its claws pared, and the Pagan tribes have not
been slow to make the discovery for themselves. Those on the Limbang
river have been in open rebellion for the last three or four years and
are crying out to be taken under the protection of the Queen, or,
failing that, then under the "Kompani," as the British North Borneo
Company's Government like that of the East India Company in days gone
by, is styled, or under Sarawak.

The condition of the domestic slaves is not a particularly hard one
unless, in the case of a girl, she is compelled to join the harem, when
she becomes technically free, but really only changes one sort of
servitude for another and more degrading one. With this exception, the
slaves live on friendly terms with their masters' families, and the
propinquity of a British Colony--Labuan--has tended to ameliorate their
condition, as an ill-used slave can generally find means to escape
thither and, so long as he remains there, he is a free man.

The scientific description of a typical Malay has already been given,
and it answers well on almost all points for the Brunai specimen, except
that the nose, as well as being small, is, in European eyes, deficient
as to "bridge," and the legs cannot be described as weak, indeed the
Brunai Malay, male and female, is a somewhat fleshy animal. In
temperament, the Malay is described as "taciturn, undemonstrative,
little given to outward manifestations of joy or sorrow, courteous
towards each other, kind to their women and children. Not elated by good
or depressed by bad fortune, but capable of excesses when roused. Under
the influence of religious excitement, losses at gambling, jealousy or
other domestic troubles they are liable to _amok_ or run-a-muck, an
expression which appears to have passed into the English language." With
strangers, the Brunai Malay is doubtless taciturn, but I have heard
Brunai ladies among themselves, while enjoying their betel-nut, rival
any old English gossips over their cup of tea, and on an expedition the
men will sometimes keep up a conversation long into the night till
begged to desist. Courtesy seems to be innate in every Malay of whatever
rank, both in their intercourse with one another and with strangers. The
meeting at Court of two Brunai nobles who, perhaps, entertain feelings
of the greatest hatred towards each other, is an interesting study, and
the display of mutual courtesy unrivalled. I need scarcely say that
horseplay and practical joking are unknown, contradiction is rarely
resorted to and "chaff" is only known in its mildest form. The lowest
Malay will never pass in front of you if it can be avoided, nor hand
anything to another across you. Unless in case of necessity, a Malay
will not arouse his friend from slumber, and then only in the gentlest
manner possible. It is bad manners to point at all, but, if it is
absolutely necessary to do so, the forefinger is never employed, but the
person or object is indicated, in a sort of shamefaced way, with the
thumb. It is impolite to bare a weapon in public, and Europeans often
show their ignorance of native etiquette by asking a Malay visitor to
let them examine the blade of the _kris_ he is wearing. It is not
considered polite to enquire after the welfare of the female members of
a Brunai gentleman's household. For a Malay to uncover his head in your
presence would be an impertinence, but a guttural noise in his throat
after lunching with you is a polite way of expressing pleased
satisfaction with the excellence of the repast. This latter piece of
etiquette has probably been adopted from the Chinese. The low social
position assigned to women by Brunai Malays, as by nearly all Mahomedan
races, is of course a partial set-off to the general courtesy that
characterises them. The average intelligence of what may be called the
working class Malay is almost as far superior to that, say, of the
British country bumpkin as are his manners. Mr. H. O. FORBES says in his
"Naturalist in the Eastern Archipelago" that he was struck with the
natives' acute observation in natural history and the accuracy with
which they could give the names, habits and uses of animals and plants
in the jungle, and the traveller cannot but admire the general handiness
and adaptability to changed circumstances and customs and quickness of
understanding of the Malay coolies whom he engages to accompany him.

Cannot one imagine the stolid surprise and complete obfuscation of the
English peasant if an intelligent Malay traveller were to be suddenly
set down in his district, making enquiries as to the, to him, novel
forms of plants and animals and asking for minute information as to the
manners and customs of the new people amongst whom he found himself,
and, generally, seeking for information as the reasons for this and for

Their religion sits somewhat lightly on the Brunai Malays; the Mahomedan
Mosque in the capital was always in a very dirty and neglected state,
though prayers were said there daily, and I have never seen a Borneo
Malay under the influence of religious excitement.

Gambling prevails, doubtless, and so does cock-righting, but neither is
the absorbing passion which it seems, from travellers' accounts, to be
with Malays elsewhere.

When visiting the Spanish settlements in Sulu and Balabac, I was
surprised to find regular officially licensed cock-fighting pits, with a
special seat for the Spanish Governor, who was expected to be present on
high days and holidays. I have never come across a regular cockpit in
Brunai, or in any part of northern Borneo.

The _amoks_ that I have been cognisant of have, consequently, not been
due to either religious excitement, or to losses at gambling, but, in
nearly every case, to jealousy and domestic trouble, and their
occurrence almost entirely confined to the British Colony of Labuan
where, of course, the Mahomedan pains and penalties for female
delinquencies could not be enforced. I remember one poor fellow whom I
pitied very much. He had good reason to be jealous of his wife and, in
our courts, could not get the redress he sought. He explained to me that
a mist seemed to gather before his eyes and that he became utterly
unconscious of what he was doing--his will was quite out of his control.
Some half dozen people--children, men and women--were killed, or
desperately wounded before he was overpowered. He acknowledged his
guilt, and suffered death at the hands of the hangman with quiet
dignity. Many tragical incidents in the otherwise uneventful history of
Labuan may be traced to the manner in which marriages are contracted
amongst the Borneo Malays. Marriages of mere love are almost unknown;
they are generally a matter of bargain between the girls' parents and
the expectant bridegroom, or his parents, and, practically, everything
depends on the amount of the dowry or _brihan_--literally "gift"--which
the swain can pay to the former. In their own country there exist
certain safeguards which prevent any abuse of this system, but it was
found that under the English law a clever parent could manage to dispose
of his daughter's hand several times over, so that really the plot of
Mrs. CAMPBELL PRAED'S somewhat unpleasant play "Arianne" was anticipated
in the little colony of Labuan. I was once called upon, as Coroner, to
inquire into the deaths of a young man and his handsome young wife, who
were discovered lying dead, side by side, on the floor of their house.
The woman was found to be fearfully cut about; the man had but one
wound, in his abdomen, penetrating the bowels. There was only one weapon
by which the double murder could have been committed, a knife with a six
inch blade, and circumstances seemed to point to the probability that
the woman had first stabbed the man, who had then wrenched the knife
from her grasp and hacked her to death. The man was not quite dead when
found and he accused the dead woman of stabbing him. It was found, that
they had not long been married and that, apparently with the girl's
consent, her father had been negociating for her marriage with another.
The father himself was subsequently the first man murdered in British
North Borneo after the assumption of the Government by the Company, and
his murderer was the first victim of the law in the new Colony.
Altogether a tragical story.

Many years ago another _amok_, which was near being tragical, had an
almost comical termination. The then Colonial Treasurer was an
entertaining Irishman of rather mature age. Walking down to his office
one day he found in the road a Malay hacking at his wife and another
man. Home rule not being then in fashion with the Irish, the Treasurer,
armed only with his sun umbrella, attempted to interfere, when the
_amoker_ turned furiously on him and the Irish official, who was of
spare build, took to his heels and made good his escape, the chase,
though a serious matter to him, causing irrepressible mirth to
onlookers. The man was never captured, and his victims, though
disfigured, recovered. I remember being struck by the contemptuous
reply of Sir HUGH LOW'S Chinese servant when he warned him to be on his
guard, as there was an _amoker_ at large, and alluded to Mr. C.'s narrow
escape--it was to the effect that the Treasurer was foolish to interfere
in other people's concerns. This unwillingness to busy oneself in
others' affairs, which sometimes has the appearance of callousness, is
characteristic of Malays and Chinese.

The readers of a book of travels are somewhat under a disadvantage in
forming their opinion of a country, in that incidents are focussed for
them by those of the same nature being grouped together. I do not wish
it to be thought that murders and _amoks_ are at all common occurrences
in Northern Borneo, indeed they are very few and far between, and
criminal acts of all kinds are remarkably infrequent, that is, of
course, if we regard head-hunting as an amusement sanctioned by usage,
especially as, in the parts under native government, there is a total
absence of any kind of police force, while every man carries arms, and
houses with palm leaf walls and innocent of locks, bolts and bars, offer
unusual temptations to the burglariously inclined. My wife and I nearly
always slept without a watchman and with the doors and windows unclosed,
the servants' offices being detached from the house, and we have never
had any of our property stolen except by a "boy."

Brunai is governed by a Sultan styled Iang-di-pertuan, "he who rules,"
and four principal Ministers of State, "Wazirs"--the Pangeran Bandahara,
the Pangeran di Gadong, the Pangeran Pamancha and the Pangeran
Temenggong. These Ministers are generally men of the royal blood, and
fly distinctive flags at their residences, that of the Bandahara being
white, of the di Gadong, green, and of the Temenggong, red. The flags
are remarkably simple and inexpensive, but quite distinctive, each
consisting of a square bit of bunting or cloth of the requisite colour,
with the exception of the Temenggong's, which is cut in the shape of a
burgee. The Sultan's flag is a plain piece of yellow bunting, yellow
being the Brunei royal colour, and no man, except the Sovereign, is
permitted to exhibit that colour in any portion of his dress. It shows
how little importance attaches to the female sex that a lady, even a
slave, can sport yellow in her dress, or any colour she chooses.
Theoretically the duties of the Bandahara are those of a Home Secretary;
the di Gadong is Keeper of the Seal and Chancellor of the Exchequer; the
Pamancha's functions I am rather uncertain about, as the post has
remained unfilled for many years past, but they would seem to partake of
those of a Home Secretary; and the Temenggong is the War Minister and
Military and Naval Commander-in-chief, and appears also to hear and
decide criminal and civil cases in the city of Brunai. These
appointments are made by the Sultan, and for life, but it will be
understood that, in such a rough and ready system of government as that
of Brunai, the actual influence of each Minister depends entirely on his
own character and that of the Sultan. Sometimes one Minister will
practically usurp the functions of some, or, perhaps, all the others,
leaving them only their titles and revenues, while often, on a vacancy
occurring, the Sultan does not make a fresh appointment, but himself
appropriates the revenue of the office leaving the duties to take care
of themselves.

To look after trade and commerce there is, in theory, an inferior
Minister, the Pangeran Shabander.

There is another class of Ministers--_Mantri_--who are selected by the
Sultan from among the people, and are chosen for their intelligence and
for the influence and following they have amongst the citizens. They
possess very considerable political power, their opinions being asked on
important matters. Such are the two Juwatans and the Orang Kaya di
Gadong, who may be looked upon as the principal officers of the Sultan
and the Wazirs.

The State officials are paid by the revenues of certain districts which
are assigned, as will be seen below, to the different offices.

The Mahomedan Malays, it has already been explained, were an invading
and conquering race in Borneo, and their chiefs would seem to have
divided the country, or, rather, the inhabitants, amongst themselves,
in much the same way as England was parcelled out among the followers of
WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR. The people of all the rivers[5] and of the
interior, up to the limits where the Brunai Malays can enforce their
authority, own as their feudal lord and pay taxes to either the Sultan,
in his unofficial capacity, or to one of the nobles, or else they are
attached to the office of Sultan or one of the great Ministers of State,
and, again theoretically speaking, all the districts in the Sultanate
are known, from the fact of the people on them belonging to a noble, or
to the reigning Sultan for the time being, or to one of the Ministers of
State, as either:--

     1. Ka-rájahan--belonging to the Sultan or Rája.

  or 2. Kouripan--belonging to certain public officials during
        their term of office.

  or 3. Pusaka or Tulin--belonging to the Sultan or any of the
        nobles in their unofficial capacity.

The crown and the feudal chiefs did not assert any claim to the land;
there are, for instance, no "crown lands," and, in the case of land not
owned or occupied, any native could settle upon and cultivate it without
payment of any rent or land tax, either to the Sultan or to the feudal
chief of the district; consequently, land was comparatively little
regarded, and what the feudal chief claimed was the people and not the
land, so much so that, as pointed out by Mr. P. LEYS in a Consular
report, in the case of the people removing from one river to another,
they did not become the followers of the chief who owned the population
amongst whom they settled, but remained subject to their former lord,
who had the right of following them and collecting from them his taxes
as before. It is only of quite recent years, imitating the example of
the English in Labuan, where all the land was assumed to be the property
of the Sovereign and leased to individuals for a term of years, that the
nobles have, in some instances, put forward a claim to ownership of the
land on which their followers chose to settle, and have endeavoured to
pose as semi-independent princes. These feudal chiefs tax, or used to
tax, their followers in proportion to their inability to resist their
lords' demands. A poll tax, usually at the rate of $2 for married men
and $1 for bachelors, is a form of taxation to which, in the absence of
any land tax, no objection is made, but the chiefs had also the power of
levying special taxes at their own sweet will, when they found their
expenditure in excess of their income, and advantage was taken of any
delay in payment of taxes, or of any breach of the peace, or act of
theft occurring in a district, to impose excessive fines on the
delinquents, all of which if paid went to the chief; and if the fine
could not be paid, the defaulter's children might be seized and
eventually sold into slavery. The system of "forced trade" I have
alluded to when speaking on the subject of domestic slavery. The chiefs
were all absentees and, while drawing everything they could out of their
districts, did nothing for their wretched followers. The taxes were
collected by their messengers and slaves, unscrupulous men who were paid
by what they could get out of the people in excess of what they were
bidden to demand, and who, while engaged in levying the contributions,
lived at free quarters on the people, who naturally did their best to
expedite their departure. Petty cases of dispute were settled by headmen
appointed by the chief and termed _orang kaya_, literally "rich men."
These _orang kayas_ were often selected from their possessing some
little property and being at the same time subservient to the chief. In
many cases, it seemed to me, that they were chosen for their superior
stupidity and pliability. I have made use of the past tense throughout
my description of these feudal chiefs as, happily, for reasons already
given, the "good old times" are rapidly passing away.

The laws of Brunai are, in theory, those inculcated by the Korán and
there are one or two officials who have some slight knowledge of
Mahomedan law. Owing to the cheap facilities offered by the numerous
steamers at Singapore, there are many Hajis--that is, persons who have
made the pilgrimage to Mecca--amongst the Brunais and the Kadaaans,
amongst the latter more especially, but of course a visit to Mecca does
not necessarily imply that the pilgrim has obtained any actual knowledge
of the holy book, which some of them can decipher, the Malays having
adopted the Arabic alphabet, but without, however, understanding the
meaning of the Arabic words of which it consists. A friend of mine, son
of the principal exponent of Mahomedan law in the capital, and who
became naturalised as a British subject, had studied law in

There is no gaol in Brunai, and fines are found to be a more profitable
mode of punishment than incarceration, the judge generally pocketing the
fine, and when it does become necessary to keep an offender in
detention, it is done by placing his feet in the stocks, which are set
up on the public staging or landing before the reception room of the
Sultan, or of one of his chief Ministers, and the wretched man may be
kept there for months.

The punishment for theft, sanctioned by the Korán, is by cutting oft the
right hand, but this barbarous, though effective, penalty has been
discountenanced by the English. On one occasion, however, when acting as
H. B. M. Consul-General, I received my information too late to
interfere. I had been on a visit to the late Sultan in a British
gunboat, and anchored off the palace. During the evening, just before
dinner, notwithstanding the watch kept on deck, some natives came
alongside and managed to hook out through the ports my gold watch and
chain from off the Captain's table, and the first Lieutenant's revolver
from his cabin. During our interview next morning with the Sultan, I
twitted him on the skill and daring of Brunai thieves, who could
perpetrate a theft from a friendly war-ship before the windows of the
Royal palace. The Sultan said nothing, but was evidently much annoyed,
and a few weeks afterwards the revolver and the remains of my watch and
chain were sent to me at Labuan, with a letter saying that three thieves
had been punished by having had their hands chopped off. I subsequently
heard that two of the unfortunate men had died from the effects of this
cruel punishment.

On another occasion, some Brunai thieves skilfully dismounted and
carried off two brass signal guns from the poop of a merchant steamer at
anchor in the river, eluding the vigilance of the quarter-master, while
the skipper and some of the officers were asleep on the skylight close
by. The guns were subsequently recovered.

Execution is either by means of the bow string or the _kris_.

I had once the unpleasant duty of having to witness the execution by the
bow string of a man named MAIDIN, as it was feared that, being the son
of a favourite officer of the Sultan, the execution might be a sham one.
This man, with others, had raided a small settlement of Chinese traders
from Labuan on the Borneo coast, killing several of the shop-keepers and
looting the settlement. So weak was the central government, and so
little importance did they attach to the murder of a few Chinese, that,
notwithstanding the efforts of the British Consul, MAIDIN remained at
liberty for nearly two years after the commission of the crime.

The execution took place at night. The murderer was bound, with his
hands behind his back, in a large canoe, and a noose of rope was placed
round his neck. Two men stood behind him; a short stick was inserted in
the noose and twisted round and round by the two executioners, thereby
causing the rope to compress the windpipe. MAIDIN'S struggles were soon

In the case of common people the _kris_ is used, the executioner
standing behind the criminal and pressing the _kris_ downwards, through
the shoulder, into the heart. This mode of execution has been retained
by the European rulers of Sarawak. In British North Borneo the English
mode by hanging has been adopted.

Formerly, when ancient customs were more strictly observed, any person
using insulting expressions in talking of members of the Royal family
was punished by having his tongue slit, and I was once shewn by the
Temenggong, in whose official keeping it was, the somewhat cumbrous pair
of scissors wherewith this punishment was inflicted, but I have never
heard of its having been used during the last twenty years, although
opportunities could not have been wanting.

I was once horrified by being informed by an observant British Naval
Officer, who had been to Brunai on duty, that he had been disgusted by
noticing, notwithstanding our long connection with Brunai and supposed
influence with the Sultan, so barbarous a mode of execution as that of
keeping the criminal exposed, without food, day and night, on a stage on
high posts in the river. I had never heard of this process, and soon
discovered that my friend had mistaken men fishing, for criminals
undergoing execution. Two men perch themselves up on posts, some
distance apart, and let down by ropes a net into the river. Waiting
patiently--and Brunais can sit still contentedly doing nothing for
hours--they remain motionless until a shoal of fish passes over the net,
when it is partially raised and the fish taken out by a third man, and
the operation repeated.

I do not think my naval friend ever published his Brunai reminiscences.

I have already said there is no police force in Brunai; an official
makes use of his own slaves to carry out his orders, where an European
would call in the police. Neither is there any army and navy, but the
theory is that the Sultan and Ministers can call on the Brunai people to
follow them to war, but as they give neither pay nor sufficient food
their call is not numerously responded to.

Every Brunai man has his own arms, spear, kris and buckler, supplemented
by an old English "Tower" musket, or rifle, or by one of Chinese
manufacture with an imitation of the Tower mark. The _parang_, or
chopper, or cutlass, is always carried by a Malay, being used for all
kinds of work, agricultural and other, and is also a useful weapon of
offence or defence.

Brunai is celebrated for its brass cannon foundries and still produces
handsome pieces of considerable size. PIGAFETTA describes cannon as
being frequently discharged at Brunai during his visit there in 1521.
Brass guns were formerly part of the currency in Brunai and, even now,
you often hear the price of an article given as so many pikuls (a pikul
= 133-1/3 lbs), or catties (a catty = 1-1/3 lbs) of brass gun. The
brass for the guns is chiefly furnished by the Chinese cash, which is
current in the town.

In former days, in addition to brass guns, pieces of grey shirting
(_belachu_) and of Nankin (_kain asap_) and small bits of iron were
legal tender, and I have seen a specimen of a Brunei copper coinage one
Sultan tried to introduce, but it was found to be so easily imitated by
his subjects that it was withdrawn from circulation. At the present day
silver dollars, Straits Settlements small silver pieces, and the copper
coinage of Singapore, Sarawak and British North Borneo all pass current,
the copper, however, unfortunately predominating. Recently the Sultan
obtained $10,000 of a copper coin of his own from Birmingham, but the
traders and the Governments of Singapore and Labuan appear to have
discountenanced its use, and he probably will not try a second shipment.

The profit on the circulation of copper coinage, which is only a token,
is of course considerable, and the British North Borneo Company obtained
a substantial addition to its revenue from the large amount of its coin
circulated in Brunai. When the Sultan first mooted the idea of obtaining
his own coin from England, one of the Company's officers expostulated
feelingly with him, and I was told by an onlooker that the contrast of
the expressions of the countenances of the immobile Malay and of the
mobile European was most amusing. All that the Sultan replied to the
objections of the officer was "It does not signify, Sir, my coin can
circulate in your country and yours can circulate in mine," knowing well
all the time the profit the Company was making.

The inhabitants of the city of Brunai are very lightly taxed, and there
is no direct taxation. As above explained, there is no land tax, nor
ground rent, and every man builds his own house and is his own landlord.
The right of retailing the following articles is "farmed" out to the
highest bidder by the Government, and their price consequently enhanced
to the consumer:--Opium (but only a few of the nobles use the drug),
foreign tobacco, curry stuff, wines and spirits (not used by the
natives), salt, gambier (used for chewing with the betel or _areca_
nut), tea (little used by the natives) and earth-nut and coco-nut oil.
There are no Municipal rates and taxes, the tidal river acting as a self
cleansing street and sewer at the same time; neither are there any
demands from a Poor Law Board.

On the other hand, there being no Army, Navy, Police, nor public
buildings to keep up, the expenses of Government are wonderfully light

Other Government receipts, in addition to the above, are rent of Chinese
house-boats or rather shop-boats, pawnbroking and gambling licenses, a
"farm" of the export of hides, royalties on sago and gutta percha,
tonnage dues on European vessels visiting the port, and others. The
salaries and expenses of the Government Departments are defrayed from
the revenues of the rivers, or districts attached to them.

Considerable annual payments are now made by Sarawak and British North
Borneo for the territorial cessions obtained by them. The annual
contribution by Sarawak is about $16,000, and by the British North
Borneo $11,800. These sums are apportioned amongst the Sultan and nobles
who had interests in the ceded districts. I may say here that the
payment by British North Borneo to the Sultan of the State, under the
arrangement made by Mr. DENT already referred to, is one of $5,000 per

An annual payment is also made by Mr. W. C. COWIE for the sole right[6]
of working coal in the Sultanate, which he holds for a period of several
years. Coal occurs throughout the island of Borneo, and its existence
has long been known. It is worked on a small scale in Sarawak and in
some portions of Dutch Borneo, and the unsuccessful attempts to develope
the coal resources of the Colony of Labuan will be referred to later on.

In the Brunai Sultanate, with which we are at present concerned, coal
occurs abundantly in the Brunai river and elsewhere, but it is only at
present worked by Mr. COWIE and his partners at Muara, at the mouth of
the Brunai river--Muara, indeed, signifying in Malay a river's mouth.
The Revd. J. E. TENNISON-WOOD, well known in Australia as an authority
on geological questions, thus describes the Muara coalfields:--"About
twenty miles to the South-west of Labuan is the mouth of the Brunai
river. Here the rocks are of quite a different character, and much
older. There are sandstones, shales, and grits, with ferruginous joints.
The beds are inclined at angles of 25 to 45 degrees. They are often
altered into a kind of chert. At Muara there is an outcrop of coal seams
twenty, twenty-five and twenty-six feet thick. The coal is of excellent
quality, quite bitumenised, and not brittle. The beds are being worked
by private enterprise. I saw no fossils, but the beds and the coal
reminded me much of the older Australian coals along the Hunter river.
The mines are of great value. They are rented for a few thousand dollars
by two enterprising Scotchmen, from the Sultan of Brunai. The same
sovereign would part with the place altogether for little or nothing.
Why not have our coaling station there? Or what if Germany, France or
Russia should purchase the same from the independent Sultan of Brunai?"
As if to give point to the concluding remarks, a Russian man-of-war
visited Muara and Brunai early in 1887, and shewed considerable interest
in the coal mines.[7]


[Footnote 4: He has since been "protected"--see ante page 6, note.]

[Footnote 5: Owing to the absence of roads and the consequent importance
of rivers as means of getting about, nearly all districts in Borneo are
named after their principal river.]

[Footnote 6: This right was transferred by Mr. COWIE to Rája BROOKE in

[Footnote 7: The British Protectorate has obviated the danger.]


The fairest way, perhaps, of giving my readers an idea of what Brunai
was and what it is, will be by quoting first from the description of the
Italian PIGAFETTA, who was there in 1521, and then from that of my
friend the late Mr. STAIR ELPHINSTONE DALRYMPLE, who visited the city
with me in 1884. PIGAFETTA'S description I extract from CRAWFORD'S
_Descriptive Dictionary of the Indian Islands_.

    "When," says he, "we reached the city, we had to wait two hours
    in the _prahu_ (boat or barge) until there had arrived two
    elephants, caparisoned in silk-cloth, and twelve men, each
    furnished with a porcelain vase, covered with silk, to receive
    and to cover our presents. We mounted the elephants, the twelve
    men going before, carrying the presents. We thus proceeded to
    the house of the Governor, who gave us a supper of many dishes.
    Next day we were left at our leisure until twelve o'clock, when
    we proceeded to the King's palace. We were mounted, as before,
    on elephants, the men bearing the gifts going before us. From
    the Governor's house to the palace the streets were full of
    people armed with swords, lances and targets; the King had so
    ordered it. Still mounted on the elephants we entered the court
    of the palace. We then dismounted, ascended a stair, accompanied
    by the Governor and some chiefs and entered a great hall full of
    courtiers. Here we were seated on carpets, the presents being
    placed near to us. At the end of the great hall, but raised
    above it, there was one of less extent hung with silken cloth,
    in which were two curtains, on raising which, there appeared
    two windows, which lighted the hall. Here, as a guard to the
    King, there were three hundred men with naked rapiers in hand
    resting on their thighs. At the farther end of this smaller
    hall, there was a great window with a brocade curtain before
    it, on raising which, we saw the King seated at a table
    masticating betel, and a little boy, his son, beside him. Behind
    him women only were to be seen. A chieftain then informed us,
    that we must not address the King directly, but that if we had
    anything to say, we must say it to him, and he would communicate
    it to a courtier of higher rank than himself within the lesser
    hall. This person, in his turn, would explain our wishes to the
    Governor's brother, and he, speaking through a tube in an
    aperture of the wall would communicate our sentiments to a
    courtier near the King, who would make them known to his
    Majesty. Meanwhile, we were instructed to make three obeisances
    to the King with the joined hands over the head, and raising,
    first one foot and then the other, and then kissing the hands.
    This is the royal salutation. * * * All the persons present in
    the palace had their loins covered with gold embroidered cloth
    and silk, wore poiniards with golden hilts, ornamented with
    pearls and precious stones, and had many rings on their fingers.

           *       *       *       *       *       *

    We remounted the elephants and returned to the house of the
    Governor. * * * After this there came to the house of the
    Governor ten men, with as many large wooden trays, in each of
    which were ten or twelve porcelain saucers with the flesh of
    various animals, that is, of calves, capons, pullets, pea-fowls
    and others, and various kinds of fish, so that of meat alone
    there were thirty or two-and-thirty dishes. We supped on the
    ground on mats of palm-leaf. At each mouthful we drank a
    porcelain cupful, the size of an egg, of a distilled liquor made
    from rice. We ate also rice and sweetmeats, using spoons of
    gold, shaped like our own. In the place where we passed the two
    nights, there were always burning two torches of white wax,
    placed on tall chandeliers of silver, and two oil lamps of four
    wicks each, while two men watched to look after them. Next
    morning we came on the same elephants to the sea side, where
    forthwith there were ready for us two _prahus_, in which we were
    reconducted to the ships."

Of the town itself he says:--

    "The city is entirely built in the saltwater, the King's house
    and those of some chieftains excepted. It contains 25,000
    _fires_, or families. The houses are all of wood and stand on
    strong piles to keep them high from the ground. When the flood
    tide makes, the women, in boats, go through the city selling
    necessaries. In front of the King's palace there is a rampart
    constructed of large bricks, with barbacans in the manner of a
    fortress, on which are mounted fifty-six brass and six iron

With the exception of the statement concerning the number of families,
Mr. CRAWFORD considers PIGAFETTA'S account contains abundant internal
evidence of intelligence and truthfulness. I may be allowed to point out
that, seeing only the King's house and those of some of the nobles were
on _terra firma_, there could have been little use for elephants in the
city and probably the two elephants PIGAFETTA mentions were the only
ones there, kept for State purposes. It is a curious fact that though in
its fauna Borneo much resembles Sumatra, yet, while elephants abound in
the latter island, none are to be found in Borneo, except in a
restricted area on the North-East Coast, in the territories of the North
Borneo Company. It would appear, too, that the tenets of the Mahomedan
religion were not strictly observed in those days. Now, no Brunai noble
would think of offering you spirits, nor would ladies on any account be
permitted to appear in public, especially if Europeans were among the
audience. The consumption of spirits seems to have been on a very
liberal scale, and it is not surprising to find PIGAFETTA remarking
further on that some of the Spaniards became intoxicated. Spoons,
whether of gold or other material, have long since been discarded by all
respectable Brunais, only Pagans make use of such things, the Mahomedans
employ the fingers which Allah has given them. The description of the
women holding their market in boats stands good of to-day, but the
wooden houses, instead of being on "strong piles," now stand on
ricketty, round _nibong_ palm posts. The description of the obeisance to
the King is scarcely exaggerated, except that it is now performed
squatting cross-legged--_sila_--the respectful attitude indoors, from
the Sanskrit çîl, to meditate, to worship (for an inferior never stands
in the presence of his superior), and has been dispensed with in the
case of Europeans, who shake hands. Though the nobles have now
comparatively little power, they address each other and are addressed by
the commonalty in the most respectful tone, words derived from the
Sanskrit being often employed in addressing superiors, or equals if both
are of high rank, such as _Baginda_, _Duli Paduka_, _Ianda_, and in
addressing a superior the speaker only alludes to himself as a slave,
_Amba_, _Sahaya_. I have already referred to the prohibition of the use
of yellow by others than the Royal family, and may add that it is a
grave offence for a person of ordinary rank to pass the palace steps
with his umbrella up, and it is forbidden to him to sit in the after
part of his boat or canoe, that place being reserved for nobles. At an
audience with the Sultan, or with one of the Wazirs, considerable
ceremony is still observed. Whatever the time of the day, a thick bees'
wax candle, about three feet long is lighted and placed on the floor
alongside the European visitor, if he is a person of any rank, and it is
etiquette for him to carry the candle away with him at the conclusion of
his visit, especially if at night. It was a severe test of the courteous
decorum of the Malay nobles when on one occasion, a young officer, who
accompanied me, not only spilt his cup of coffee over his bright new
uniform, but, when impressively bidding adieu to H. H. the Sultan, stood
for sometime unconsciously astride over my lighted candle. Not a muscle
of the faces of the nobles moved, but the Europeans were scarcely so
successful in maintaining their gravity.

Mr. DALRYMPLE'S description of Brunai, furnished to the _Field_ in
August, 1884, is as follows:--

    "On a broad river, sweeping round in an imposing curve from the
    South-Eastward, with abrupt ranges of sandstone hills, for the
    most part cleared of forest, hemming it in on either side, and a
    glimpse of lofty blue mountains towering skywards far away to
    the North-East, is a long straggling collection of _atap_
    (thatch made of leaves of _nibong_ palm) and _kajang_ (mats of
    ditto) houses, or rather huts, built on piles over the water,
    and forming a gigantic crescent on either bank of the broad,
    curving stream. This is the city of Brunai, the capital of the
    Yang di Pertuan, the Sultan of Brunai, _ætat_ one hundred or
    more, and now in his dotage: the abode of some 15,000 Malays,
    whose language is as different from the Singapore Malay as
    Cornish is from Cockney English, and the coign of vantage from
    which a set of effete and corrupt _Pangerans_ extended
    oppressive rule over the coasts of North-West Borneo, from
    Sampanmangiu Point to the Sarawak River in days gone by, ere
    British enterprise stepped in, swept the Sulu and Illanun
    pirates from the sea, and opened the rivers to commercial

    "Standing on the summit of one of the above-mentioned hills, a
    fine bird's eye view is obtained of the city below. The
    ramshackle houses are all built in irregular blocks or clusters,
    but present on either side a regular frontage to the broad
    river, and following its sweeping curve, form two imposing
    crescent, divided by a fine water-way. Behind these main
    crescents are various other blocks and clusters of buildings,
    built higgledy piggledy and without plan of any sort. On the
    true left bank are some Chinese shops built of brick, and on the
    opposite bank a brick house of superior pretensions and a waving
    banner proclaiming the abode of the Chinese Consular Agent of
    the British North Borneo Company. * * *

    "A heterogeneous collection of buildings on the right side of the
    upper part of the city forms the _palace_ (save the mark!) of
    the Sultan himself. A little further down a large, straggling,
    but substantial plank building, with a corrugated iron roof,
    marks the abode of the Pangeran Temenggong, a son of the former
    Sultan and the heir apparent to the throne of Brunai. Two steam
    launches are lying opposite at anchor, one the property of the
    Sultan, the other belonging to the heir apparent. * * *

    "The public reception room of the Sultan's palace is a long
    apartment with wooden pillars running along either side, and
    supporting a raised roof. Beyond these on either side, are
    lateral compartments. At the far end, in the centre of a kind of
    alcove, is the Sultan's throne. The floors are covered with
    matting. * * *

    "Although the glories of Brunai have departed, and it is only the
    shadow of what it was when PIGAFETTA visited it, a certain
    amount of state is still kept up on occasions. A boat comes
    sweeping down the river crowded with Malays, a white flag waving
    from its stern, seven paddles flashing on either side, and an
    array of white umbrellas midships. _It is_ the Pangeran di
    Gadong coming in state to pay a ceremonial visit. As it sweeps
    alongside, the Pangeran is seen sitting on a gorgeous carpet,
    surrounded by his officials. One holds an umbrella over his
    head, while another holds aloft the _tongkat kraidan_, a long
    guilded staff, surmounted by a plume of yellow horse hair, which
    hangs down round it. The most striking point in the attire of
    the Pangeran and his Officers is the beauty of the _krises_ with
    which they are armed, the handles being of carved ivory
    ornamented with gold, and the sheaths of beautifully polished
    wood, resembling satin wood. Cigars and coffee are produced, and
    a _bichara_ ensues. A Quakers' meeting is no bad metaphor to
    describe a Malay _bichara_. The Pangerans sit round in a circle
    smoking solemnly for some time, until a question is put to them,
    to which a brief reply is given, followed by another prolonged

    "In this way the business on which they have come is gradually

    "Their manners are as polished as their faces are immobile, and
    the way to a Malay's heart lies through his pocket.

    "To the outsider, Brunai is a city of hideous old women, for such
    alone are met with in the thronged market place where some
    hundreds of market boats jostle each other, while their inmates
    shriek and haggle over their bargains, or during a water
    promenade while threading the labyrinths of this Oriental
    Venice; but if acquainted with its intricacies, or if paying a
    ceremonial visit to any of the leading Pangerans, many a glimpse
    may be had of some fair skinned beauty peeping through some
    handy crevice in the _kajang_ wall, or, in the latter case, a
    crowd of light-skinned, dark-eyed houris may be seen looking
    with all their might out of a window in the harem behind, from
    which they are privileged to peep into the hall of audience.

    "The present population of Brunai cannot exceed 12,000 to 15,000
    souls, a great number having succumbed to the terrible epidemic
    of cholera a year ago. The exports consist of sago, gutta
    percha, camphor, india-rubber, edible birds' nests, gum dammar,
    etc., and what money there is in the city is almost entirely in
    the hands of the Chinese traders. * * *

    "In the old days, when it enjoyed a numerous Chinese population,
    the surrounding hills were covered with pepper plantations, and
    there was a large junk trade with China. At present Brunai lives
    on her exports of jungle produce and sago, furnished by a noble
    river--the Limbang, whose valley lies but a short distance to
    the Eastward. One great advantage the city enjoys is a copious
    supply of pure water, drawn from springs at the base of the
    hills below the town on the left bank of the river. * * *

    "Such is a slight sketch of Brunai of the Brunais. If the
    Pangerans are corrupt, the lower classes are not, but are law
    abiding, though not industrious. And the day may yet come when
    their city may lift her head up again, and be to North Borneo
    what Singapore is to the straits of Malacca."

This description gives a capital idea of modern Brunai, and I would only
observe that, from the colour of his flag and umbrellas the nobleman who
paid the state visit must have been the Bandahara and not the Di Gadong.

The aged Sultan to whom Mr. DALRYMPLE refers was the late Sultan MUMIM,
who, though not in the direct line, was raised to the throne, on the
death of the Sultan OMAR ALI SAIFUDIN, to whom he had been Prime
Minister, by the influence of the English, towards whom he had always
acted as a loyal friend. He was popularly supposed to be over a hundred
years old when he died and, though said to have had some fifty wives and
concubines, he was childless. He died on the 29th May, 1885, having
previously, on the advice of Sir C. C. LEES, then British
Consul-General, declared his Temenggong, the son of OMAR ALI SAIFUDIN to
be his successor. The Temenggong accended the throne, without any
opposition, with the title of Sultan, but found a kingdom distracted by
rebellion in the provinces and reduced to less than a fourth of its size
when the treaty was made with Great Britain in 1847.

I have said that there is no ground rent in Borneo, and that every one
builds his own house and is his own landlord, but I should add that he
builds his house in the _kampong_, or parish, to which, according to his
occupation, he belongs and into which the city is divided. For instance,
on entering the city, the first _kampong_ on the left is an important
one in a town where fish is the principal article of animal food. It is
the _kampong_ of the men who catch fish by means of bambu fishing
stakes, or traps, described hereafter, and supply the largest quantity
of that article to the market; it is known as the _Kampong Pablat_.

Next to it is the _Kampong Perambat_, from the casting net which its
inhabitants use in fishing. Another parish is called _Membakut_ and its
houses are built on firm ground, being principally the shops of Chinese
and Klings. The last _kampong_ on this side is that of _Burong Pingé_,
formerly a very important one, where dwelt the principal and richest
Malay traders. It is now much reduced in size, European steamers and
Chinese enterprise having altered entirely the character of the trade
from the time when the old Brunai _nakodahs_ (master or owner of a
trading boat) would cruise leisurely up and down the coast, waiting for
months at a time in a river while trade was being brought in. The
workers in brass, the jewellers, the makers of gold brocade, of mats, of
brass guns, the oil manufacturers, and the rice cleaners, all have their
own _kampongs_ and are jealous of the honour of each member of their
corporation. The Sultan and nearly all the chief nobles have their
houses on the true left bank of the river, _i.e._, on the right bank

The fishing interest is an important one, and various methods are
employed to capture the supply for the market.

The _kélong_ is a weir composed of nets made of split bambu, fastened in
an upright position, side by side, to posts fixed into the bed of the
stream, or into the sand in the shallow water of a harbour. There are
two long rows of these posts with attached nets, one much longer than
the other which gradually converge in the deeper water, where a simple
trap is constructed with a narrow entrance. The fish passing up or down
stream, meeting with the obstruction, follow up the walls of the
_kélong_ and eventually enter the trap, whence they are removed at low
water. These _kélong_, or fishing stakes as they are termed, are a well
known sight to all travellers entering Malay ports and rivers. All sorts
of fish are caught in this way, and alligators of some size are
occasionally secured in them.

The _rambat_ is a circular casting net, loaded with leaden or iron
weights at the circumference, and with a spread sometimes of thirty
feet. Great skill, acquired by long practice, is shewn by the fisherman
in throwing this net over a shoal of fish which he has sighted, in such
a manner that all the outer edge touches the water simultaneously; the
weights then cause the edges of the circumference to sink and gradually
close together, encompassing the fish, and the net is drawn up by a
rope attached to its centre, the other end of which the fisherman had
retained in his hand. The skill of the thrower is further enhanced by
the fact that he, as a rule, balances himself in the bow of a small
"dug-out," or canoe, in which a European could scarcely keep his footing
at all. The _rambat_ can also be thrown from the bank, or the beach, and
is used in fresh and salt water. Only small fish and prawns are caught
in this way. Prawns are also caught in small _kélong_ with very fine
split bambu nets, but a method is also employed in the Brunai river
which I have not heard of elsewhere. A specially prepared canoe is made
use of, the gunwale on one side being cut away and its place taken up by
a flat ledge, projecting over the water. The fisherman sits paddling in
the stern, keeping the ledged side towards the bank and leaning over so
as to cause the said ledge to be almost level with the water.

From the same side there projects a long bambu, with wooden teeth on its
under side, like a comb, fastened to the stern, but projecting outwards,
forwards and slightly upwards, the teeth increasing in length towards
its far end, and as they sweep the surface of the water the startled
prawns, shut in by the bank on one side, in their efforts to avoid the
teeth of the comb, jump into the canoe in large quantities.

I have described the method of using the dip net, or _serambau_, on page
30. Many kinds of nets are in use, one--the _pukat_--being similar to
our seine or drag net.

The hook and line are also used, especially for deep sea fishing, and
fish of large size are thus caught.

A favourite occasional amusement is _tuba_ fishing. The _tuba_ is a
plant the juice of which has strong narcotic properties. Bundles of the
roots are collected and put into the bottom of the canoes, and when the
fishing ground is reached, generally a bend in a river, or the mouth of
a stream which is barred at low tide, water is poured over the _tuba_
and the juice expressed by beating it with short sticks. The fluid, thus
charged with the narcotic poison, is then baled out of the canoes into
the stream and the surface is quickly covered by all sorts of fish in
all stages of intoxication, the smaller ones even succumbing altogether
to the poison.

The large fish are secured by spearing, amid much excitement, the eager
sportsmen often overbalancing themselves and falling headlong into the
water to the great amusement of the more lucky ones. I remember reading
an account of a dignified representative of Her Majesty once joining in
the sport and displaying a pair of heels in this way to his admiring
subjects. The _tuba_ does not affect the flesh of the fish, which is
brought to the table without any special preparation.

The principal export from Brunai is sago flour. The sago palm is known
to the natives under the name of _rumbiah_, the pith, after its first
preliminary washing, is called _lamantah_ (_i.e._, raw), and after its
preparation for export by the Chinese, _sagu_. The botanical name is
_Metroxylon_, _M. Lævis_ being that of the variety the trunk of which is
unprotected, and _M. Rumphii_ that of the kind which is armed with long
and strong spikes, serving to ward off the attacks of the wild pigs from
the young palm.

This palm is indigenous in the Malayan Archipelago and grows to the
height of twenty to forty feet, in swampy land along the banks of rivers
not far from the sea, but out of the reach of tidal influences. A
plantation once started goes "on for ever," with scarcely any care or
attention from the proprietor, as the palm propagates itself by numerous
off-shots, which take the place of the parent tree when it is cut down
for the purpose of being converted into food, or when it dies, which,
unlike most other palms, it does after it has once flowered and seeded,
_i.e._, after it has attained the age of ten or fifteen years.

It can also be propagated from the seed, but these are often

If required for food purposes, the sago palm must be cut down at its
base before it begins to flower, as afterwards the pith or _farina_
becomes dried up and useless. The trunk is then stripped of its leaves
and, if it is intended to work it up at its owner's house, it is cut
into convenient lengths and floated down the river; if the pith is to be
extracted on the spot the trunk is split in two, longitudinally, and is
found to contain a mass of starchy pith, kept together by filaments of
woody fibre, and when this is worked out by means of bambu hatchets
nothing but a thin rind, the outer bark, is left. To separate the starch
from the woody fibre, the pith is placed on a mat in a frame work over a
trough by the river side; the sago washer then mounts up and, pouring
fresh water over the pith, commences vigorously dancing about on it with
his bare feet, the result being that the starch becomes dissolved in the
water and runs off with it into the trough below, while the woody fibre
remains on the mat and is thrown away, or, if the washer is not a
Mahomedan, used for fattening pigs. The starch thus obtained is not yet
quite pure, and under the name of _lamantah_ is sold to Chinese and
undergoes a further process of washing, this time by hand, in large,
solid, wooden troughs and tubs. When sufficiently purified, it is
sun-dried and, as a fine white flour, is packed in gunny bags for the
Singapore market. At Singapore, some of this flour--a very small
proportion--is converted into the pearl sago of the shops, but the
greater portion is sent on direct to Europe, where it is used for sizing
cloth, in the manufacture of beer, for confectionery, &c.

It will be seen that the sago palm thus affords food and also employment
to a considerable number of both natives and Chinese and, requiring
little or no trouble in cultivation, it is a perfect gift of the gods to
the natives in the districts where it occurs. It is a curious fact that,
though abounding in Sarawak, in the districts near Brunai and in the
southern parts of British North Borneo on the West Coast, it seems to
stop short suddenly at the Putatan River, near Gaya Bay, and is not
found indigenous in the North nor on the North-East. Some time ago I
sent a quantity of young shoots to a Chief living on the Labuk River,
near Sandakan, on the East Coast, but have not yet heard whether they
have proved a success.

A nasty sour smell is inseparable from a sago factory, but the health of
the coolies, who live in the factory, does not appear to be affected by

The Brunais and natives of sago districts consume a considerable
quantity of sago flour, which is boiled into a thick, tasteless paste,
called _boyat_ and eaten by being twisted into a large ball round a
stick and inserted into the mouth--an ungraceful operation. Tamarind, or
some very acid sauce is used to impart to it some flavour. Sago is of
course cheaper than rice, but the latter is, as a rule, much preferred
by the native, and is found more nutritious and _lasting_. LOGAN, in the
_Journal of the Indian Archipelago_, calculates that three sago palms
yield more nutritive matter than an acre of wheat, and six trees more
than an acre of potatoes. The plantain and banana also flourish, under
cultivation, in Borneo, and Mr. BURBIDGE, in his preface to the _Gardens
of the Sun_, points out that it fruits all the year round and that its
produce is to that of wheat as 133 : 1, and to that of the potato as
44 : 1. What a Paradise! some of my readers will exclaim. There can be
no want here! I am sure the figures and calculations above quoted are
absolutely correct, but I have certainly seen want and poverty in
Borneo, and these tropical countries are not quite the earthly
paradises which some old writers would have us believe. For our poor
British "unemployed," at any rate, I fear Borneo can never be a refuge,
as the sun would there be more fatal than the deadly cold here, and the
race could not be kept up without visits to colder climates. But if
sago and bananas are so plentiful and so nourishing, as we are taught
by the experts, it does seem somewhat remarkable, in this age of
invention, that some means cannot be devised of bringing together the
prolific food stores of the East and the starving thousands of the

Both before, during and after the day's work, the Malays, man and woman,
boy and girl, solace and refresh themselves with tobacco and with the
areca-nut, or the _betel_ nut as, for some unexplained reason, it is
called in English books, though _betel_ is the name of the pepper leaf
in which the areca-nut is wrapped and with which it is masticated.

A good deal of the tobacco now used in Brunai is imported from Java or
Palembang (Sumatra), but a considerable portion is grown in the hilly
districts on the West Coast of North Borneo, in the vicinity of Gaya
Bay, by the Muruts. It is unfermented and sun-dried, but has not at all
a bad flavour and is sometimes used by European pipe smokers. The
Brunai Malays and the natives generally, as a rule, smoke the tobacco in
the form of cigarettes, the place of paper being taken by the fine inner
leaf of the _nipa_ palm, properly prepared by drying. The Court
cigarettes are monstrous things, fully eight inches long sometimes, and
deftly fashioned by the fingers of the ladies of the harem.

Some of the inland natives, who are unable to procure _nipa_ leaf
(_dahun kirei_), use roughly made wooden pipes, and the leaf of the
maize plant is also occasionally substituted for the _nipa_. It is a
common practice with persons of both sexes to insert a "quid" of tobacco
in their cheek, or between the upper lip and the gum. This latter
practice does not add to the appearance of a race not overburdened with
facial charms. The tobacco is allowed to remain in position for a long
time, but it is not chewed. The custom of areca-nut chewing has been so
often described that I will only remind the reader that the nut is the
produce of a graceful and slender palm, which flourishes under
cultivation in all Malayan countries and is called by Malays _pinang_.
It is of about the size of a nutmeg and, for chewing, is cut into pieces
of convenient size and made into a neat little packet with the green
leaf of the aromatic betel pepper plant, and with the addition of a
little gambier (the inspissated juice of the leaves of the _uncaria
gambir_) and of fine lime, prepared by burning sea shells. Thus
prepared, the bolus has an undoubtedly stimulating effect on the nerves
and promotes the flow of saliva. I have known fresh vigour put into an
almost utterly exhausted boat's crew by their partaking of this

It tinges the saliva and the lips bright red, but, contrary to a very
commonly received opinion, has no effect of making the teeth black. This
blackening of the teeth is produced by rubbing in burnt coco-nut shell,
pounded up with oil, the dental enamel being sometimes first filed off.
Toothache and decayed teeth are almost unknown amongst the natives, but
whether this is in some measure due to the chewing of the areca-nut I am
unable to say.

It used to be a disagreeable, but not unusual sight, to see the old
Sultan at an audience remove the areca-nut he had been masticating and
hand it to a small boy, who placed it in his mouth and kept it there
until the aged monarch again required it.

The clothing of the Brunai Malays is simple and suitable to the climate.
The one garment common to men, women and children is the _sarong_, which
in its general signification means a sheath or covering, _e.g._, the
sheath of a sword is a _sarong_, and the envelope enclosing a letter is
likewise its _sarong_. The _sarong_ or sheath of the Brunai human being
is a piece of cotton cloth, of Tartan pattern, sewn down the side and
resembling an ordinary skirt, or petticoat, except that it is not
pleated or attached to a band at the waist and is, therefore, the same
width all the way down. It is worn as a petticoat, being fastened at the
waist sometimes by a belt or girdle, but more often the upper part is
merely twisted into its own folds. Both men and women frequently wear
nothing but this garment, the men being naked from the waist up, but the
women generally concealing the breasts by fastening the _sarong_ high up
under the arms; but for full dress the women wear in addition a short
sleeved jacket of dark blue cotton cloth, reaching to the waist, the
tight sleeves being ornamented with a row of half-a-dozen jingling
buttons, of gold if possible, and a round hat of plaited _pandan_
(screw-pine) leaves, or of _nipa_ leaf completes the Brunai woman's
costume. No stockings, slippers, or shoes are worn. Ladies of rank and
wealth substitute silk and gold brocade for the cotton material used by
their poorer sisters and, in lieu of a hat, cover their head and the
greater part of the face with a _selendang_, or long scarf of gold
brocade. They occasionally also wear slippers. The gold brocade is a
specialty of Brunai manufacture and is very handsome, the gold thread
being woven in tasteful patterns on a ground of yellow, green, red or
dark blue silk. The materials are obtained from China. The cotton
_sarongs_ are also woven in Brunai of European cotton twist, but
inferior and cheap imitations are now imported from Switzerland and
Manchester. In addition to the _sarong_, the Brunai man, when fully
dressed, wears a pair of loose cotton trowsers, tied round the waist,
and in this case the _sarong_ is so folded as to reach only half way
down to the knee, instead of to the ankle, as ordinarily.

A short sleeved cotton jacket, generally white, covers his body and his
head dress is a small coloured kerchief called _dastar_, the Persian
word for turban.

The nobles wear silks instead of cottons and with them a small but
handsome _kris_, stuck into the _sarong_, is _de rigueur_ for full
dress. A gold or silver betel-nut box might almost be considered as part
of the full dress, as they are never without one on state occasions, it
being carried by an attendant.

The women are fond of jewellery, and there are some clever gold and
silversmiths in the city, whose designs appear to be imitated from the
Javanese. Rings, earrings, broaches to fasten the jacket at the neck,
elaborate hairpins, massive silver or gold belts, with large gold
buckles, and bracelets of gold or silver are the usual articles
possessed by a lady of position.

The characteristic earring is quite a specialty of Brunai art, and is of
the size and nearly the shape of a very large champagne cork,
necessitating a huge hole being made for its reception in the lobes of
the ear. It is made hollow, of gold or silver, or of light wood gilt, or
sometimes only painted, or even quite plain, and is stuck, lengthwise,
through the hole in the ear, the ends projecting on either side. When
the ladies are not in full dress, this hole occasionally affords a
convenient receptacle for the cigarette, or any other small article not
in use for the time being.

The men never wear any jewellery, except, perhaps, one silver ring,
which is supposed to have come from the holy city--Mecca.

The Malay _kris_ is too well known to need description here. It is a
dagger or poignard with a blade varying in length from six inches to two
feet. This blade is not invariably wavy, or serpentine, as often
supposed, but is sometimes quite straight. It is always sharp on both
edges and is fashioned from iron imported from Singapore, by Brunai
artificers. Great taste is displayed in the handle, which is often of
delicately carved ivory and gold, and just below the attachment of the
handle, the blade is broadened out, forming a hilt, the under edge of
which is generally fancifully carved. Age adds greatly to the value of
the _kris_ and the history of many is handed down. The highest price I
know of being given for a Brunai _kris_ was $100, paid by the present
Sultan for one he presented to the British North Borneo Company on his
accession to the throne, but I have heard of higher prices being asked.
Very handsomely grained and highly polished wood is used for the sheath
and the two pieces forming it are frequently so skilfully joined as to
have the appearance of being in one. Though naturally a stabbing weapon,
the Malays of Brunai generally use it for cutting, and after an _amok_
the blade employed is often found bent out of all shape.

The _parang_ is simply an ordinary cutlass, with a blade two feet in
length. As we generally carry a pocket knife about with us, so the
Brunai Malay always wears his _parang_, or has it near at hand, using it
for every purpose where cutting is required, from paring his nails to
cutting the posts of which his house is built, or weeding his patch of
rice land.

With this and his _bliong_ he performs all his carpentry work; from
felling the enormous timber tree in the jungle to the construction of
his house and boat. The _bliong_ is indeed a most useful implement and
can perform wonders in the hands of a Malay. It is in the shape of a
small adze, but according to the way it is fitted into the handle it can
be used either as an axe or adze. The Malays with this instrument can
make planks and posts as smooth as a European carpenter is able to do
with his plane.

The _parang ílang_ is a fighting weapon, with a peculiarity in the shape
of the blade which, Dr. TAYLOR informs me, is not known to occur in the
weapons of any other country, and consists in the surface of the near
side being flat, as in an ordinary blade, while that of the off side is
distinctly convex. This necessitates rather careful handling in the case
of a novice, as the convexity is liable to cause the blade to glance off
any hard substance and inflict a wound on its wielder. This weapon is
manufactured in Brunai, but is the proper arm of the Kyans and, now,
also of the Sarawak Dyaks, who are closely allied to them and who, in
this as in other matters, such as the curious perforation of a part of
their person, which has been described by several writers, are following
their example. The Kyans were once the most formidable Sub-Malay tribe
in Northern Borneo and have been alluded to in preceding pages. On the
West coast, their headquarters is the Baram River, which has recently
been added to Sarawak, but they stretch right across to the East Coast
and Dutch territory.

There are many kinds of canoes, from the simple dug-out, with scarcely
any free-board, to the _pakerangan_, a boat the construction of which is
confined to only two rivers in North Borneo. It is built up of planks
fastened together by wooden pegs, carvel fashion, on a small keel, or
_lunas_. It is sharp at both ends, has very good lines, is a good sea
boat and well adapted for crossing river bars. It is not made in Brunai
itself, but is bought from the makers up the coast and invariably used
by the Brunai fishermen, who are the best and most powerful paddlers to
be found anywhere. The trading boats--_prahus_ or _tongkangs_--are
clumsy, badly fastened craft, not often exceeding 30 tons burthen, and
modelled on the Chinese junk, generally two-masted, the foremast raking
forward, and furnished with rattan rigging and large lug sails. This
forward rake, I believe, was not unusual, in former days, in European
craft, and is said to aid in tacking. The natives now, however, are
getting into the way of building and rigging their boats in humble
imitation of the Europeans. The _prahus_ are generally furnished with
long sweeps, useful when the wind falls and in ascending winding rivers,
when the breeze cannot be depended on. The canoes are propelled and
steered by single-bladed paddles. They also generally carry a small
sail, often made of the remnants of different gaily coloured garments,
and a fleet of little craft with their gaudy sails is a pleasing sight
on a fresh, bright morning. At the sports held by the Europeans on New
Year's Day, the Queen's Birthday and other festivals, native canoe
races are always included and are contested with the keenest possible
excitement by the competitors. A Brunai Malay takes to the water and to
his tiny canoe almost before he is able to walk. Use has with him become
second nature and, really, I have known some Brunai men paddle all day
long, chatting and singing and chewing betel-nut, as though they felt it
no exertion whatever.

In the larger canoes one sees the first step towards a fixed rudder and
tiller, a modified form of paddle being fixed securely to one _side_ of
the stern, in such a way that the blade can be turned so as either to
have its edges fore and aft, or its sides presented at a greater or less
angle to the water, according to the direction in which it is desired to
steer the boat.

I was much interested, in going over the Pitt-Rivers collection, at the
Oxford University Museum, to find that in the model of a Viking boat the
steering gear is arranged in almost exactly the same manner as that of
the modern Malay canoe; and indeed, the lines generally of the two boats
are somewhat alike.

To the European novice, paddling is severe work, more laborious than
rowing; but then a Brunai man is always in "training," more or less; he
is a teetotaller and very temperate in eating and drinking; indeed the
amount of fluid they take is, considering the climate, wonderfully
small. They scarcely drink during meals, and afterwards, as a rule, only
wash their mouths out, instead of taking a long draught like the

Mr. DALRYMPLE is right in saying that a State visit is like a Quakers'
meeting. Seldom is any important business more than broached on such an
occasion; the details of difficult negotiations are generally discussed
and arranged by means of confidential agents, who often find it to their
pecuniary advantage to prolong matters to the limit of their employer's
patience. The Brunai Malays are very nice, polite fellows to have to
deal with, but they have not the slightest conception of the value of
time, and the expression _nanti dahulu_ (wait a bit) is as often in
their mouths as that of _malua_ (by-and-by) is by Miss GORDON CUMMING
said to be in those of the Fijians. A lady friend of mine, who found a
difficulty in acquiring Malay, pronounced _nanti dahulu_, or _nanti
dulu_ as generally spoken, "nanty doodle," and suggested that "the nanty
doodles" could be a good name for "the Brunai Malays."

As writing is a somewhat rare accomplishment, state documents are not
signed but sealed--"_chopped_" it is called--and much importance is
accordingly attached to the official seals or _chops_, which are large
circular metal stamps, and the _chop_ is affixed by oiling the stamps,
blacking it over the flame of a candle and pressing it on the document
to be sealed. The _chop_ bears, in Arabic characters, the name, style
and title of the Official using it. The Sultan's Chop is the Great Seal
of State and is distinguished by being the only one of which the
circumference can be quite round and unbroken; the edges of those of the
Wazirs are always notched.

By the aboriginal tribes of Borneo, the Brunai people are always spoken
of as _Orang Abai_, or Abai men, but though I have often enquired both
of the aborigines and of the Brunais themselves, I have not been able to
obtain any explanation of the term, nor of its derivation.

As already stated, the religion of the Brunais is Mahomedanism; but they
do not observe its precepts and forms with any very great strictness,
nor are they proselytisers, so that comparatively few of the surrounding
pagans have embraced the religion of their conquerors.

Many of their old superstitions still influence them, as, in the early
days of Christianity, the belief in the old heathen gods and goddesses
were found underlying the superstructure of the new faith and tinging
its ritual and forms of worship. There still flourishes and survives,
influencing to the present day the life of the Brunais, the old Spirit
worship and a real belief in the power of evil spirits (_hantus_) to
cause ill-luck, sickness and death, to counteract which spells, charms
and prayers are made use of, together with propitiatory offerings. Most
of them wear some charm to ward off sickness, and others to shield them
from death in battle. If you are travelling in the jungle and desire to
quench your thirst at a brook, your Brunai follower will first lay his
_parang_, or cutlass in the bed of the stream, with its point towards
the source, so that the Spirit of the brook shall be powerless to harm

In caves and on small islands you frequently find platforms and little
models of houses and boats--propitiatory offerings to _hantus_. In times
of general sickness a large model of a boat is sometimes made and decked
with flags and launched out to sea in the hope that the evil spirit who
has brought the epidemic may take his departure therein. At Labuan it
was difficult to prevail on a Malay messenger to pass after sunset by
the gaol, where executions took place, or by the churchyard, for fear of
the ghosts haunting those localities.

Javanese element, and Hindu work in gold has been discovered buried in
the island of Pappan, situated between Labuan and Brunai. Mr. INCHE
MAHOMET, H. B. M.'s Consular Agent in Brunai, was good enough to procure
for me a native history of Brunai, called the _Telselah Besar_, or
principal history. This history states that the first Mahomedan
Sovereign of Brunai was Sultan MAHOMET and that, before his conversion
and investiture by the Sultan of Johor, his kingdom had been tributary
to the State of Majapahit, on the fall of which kingdom the Brunai
Government transferred its allegiance to Johor. Majapahit[8] was the
last Javanese kingdom professing Hinduism, and from its overthrow dates
the triumph of Mahomedanism in Java. This occurred in A.D. 1478, which,
if the chronicle can be trusted, must have been about the period of the
commencement of the Mahomedan period in Brunai. Inclusive of this Sultan
MAHOMET and of the late Sultan MUMIM, who died in May, 1885,
twenty-three Mahomedan Sultans have reigned in Brunai and, allowing
eighteen years for an average reign, this brings us within a few years
of the date assigned to the overthrow of the kingdom of Majapahit, and
bears testimony to the reliability of the chronicle. I will quote the
first few paragraphs of the _Telselah_, as they will give the reader an
idea of a Brunai history and also because they allude to the connection
of the Chinese with Borneo and afford a fanciful explanation of the
origin of the name of the mountain of Kinabalu, in British North
Borneo, which is 13,700 feet in height:--

    "This is the genealogy of all the Rájas who have occupied the
    royal throne of the Government of Brunai, the abode of peace,
    from generation to generation, who inherited the royal drum and
    the bell, the tokens from the country of Johore, _kamal
    almakam_, and who also possessed the royal drum from
    Menangkabau, namely, from the country of Saguntang.

    "This was the commencement of the kingdom of Brunai and of the
    introduction of the Mahomedan religion and of the Code of Laws
    of the prophet, the beloved of God, in the country of
    Brunai--that is to say (in the reign of) His Highness Sultan
    MAHOMET. But before His Majesty's time the country of Brunai was
    still infidel, and a dependency of Majapahit. On the death of
    the Batara of Majapahit and of the PATIH GAJA MEDAH the kingdom
    of Majapahit fell, and Brunai ceased to pay tribute, which used
    to consist of one jar of the juice of the young betel-nut every

    "In the time of the Sultan BAHTRI of the kingdom of Johor, Tuan
    ALAK BETATAR and PATIH BERBAHI were summoned to Johor, and the
    former was appointed Sultan MAHOMET by the Sultan of Johor, who
    conferred on him the royal drum and assigned him five provinces,
    namely, Kaluka, Seribas, Sadong, Samarahan and Sarawak. PATIH
    BERBAI was given the title of Bandhara Sri Maharaja. After a
    stay of some little time in Johor, His Highness the Sultan
    MAHOMET returned to Brunai; but His Highness had no male issue
    and only one daughter. At that time also the Emperor of China
    ordered two of his ministers to obtain possession of the
    precious stone of the dragon of the mountain Kinabalu. Numbers
    of Chinese were devoured by the dragon and still possession was
    not obtained of the stone. For this reason they gave the
    mountain the name of Kinabalu (_Kina_ = Chinese; _balu_ =

    "The name of one of the Chinese Ministers was _Ong Kang_ and of
    another ONG SUM PING, and the latter had recourse to a
    stratagem. He made a box with glass sides and placed a large
    lighted candle therein, and when the dragon went forth to feed,
    ONG SUM PING seized the precious stone and put the lamp in its
    place and u the dragon mistook it for the precious stone. Having
    now obtained possession of the precious stone all the junks set
    sail for China, and when they had got a long way off from
    Kinabalu, ONG KANG asked ONG SUM PING for the stone, and
    thereupon a quarrel ensued between them. ONG KANG continued to
    press his demand for the precious stone, and ONG SUM PING became
    out of humour and sullen and refused to return to China and made
    his way back to Brunai. On arriving there, he espoused the
    Princess, the daughter of Sultan MAHOMET, and he obtained the
    title of Sultan AHAMAT.

    "The Sultan AHAMAT had one daughter, who was remarkably
    beautiful. It came to pass that a Sheriff named ALLI, a
    descendant of AMIR HASSAN (_one of the grandchildren of the
    prophet_) came from the country of Taif to Brunai. Hearing of
    the fame of the beauty of the Sultan's daughter, he became
    enamoured of her and the Sultan accepted him as his son-in-law
    and the Government of Brunai was handed over to him by His
    Highness and he was styled Sultan BERKAT. He enforced the Code
    of Laws of the beloved of God and erected a mosque in Brunai,
    and, moreover, ordered the Chinese population to make a stone

The connection of the Chinese with Brunai was an important event in
Borneo history and it was certainly to them that the flourishing
condition of the capital when visited by PIGAFETTA in 1521 was due. They
were the sole planters of the pepper gardens, the monopoly of the trade
in the produce of which the East India Company negotiated for in 1774,
when the crop was reported to the Company to have been 4,000 pikuls,
equal to about 240 tons, valued on the spot at 17-1/4 Spanish dollars
per pikul. The Company's Agent expressly reported that the Chinese were
the only pepper planters, that the aborigines did not plant it, and that
the produce was disposed of to Chinese junks, which visited the port and
which he trusted would, when the exclusive trade in this article was in
the hands of the Company, be diverted from Brunai to Balambangan.

The station at this latter island, as already mentioned, was abandoned
in 1775, and the English trade with Brunai appears soon afterwards to
have come to an end.

From extracts from the Journal of the Batavia Society of Arts and
Sciences published in _The British North Borneo Herald_ of the 1st
October, 1886, the first mention of Brunai in Chinese history appears to
be in the year 669, when the King of Polo, which is stated to be another
name for Bunlai (corruption of "Brunai"), sent an envoy to Pekin, who
came to Court with the envoy of Siam. Again, in the year 1406, another
Brunai envoy was appointed, who took with him a tribute of the products
of the country, and the chronicle goes on to say that it is reported
"that the present King is a man from Fukien, who followed CHENG HO when
he went to this country and who settled there."

This account was written in 1618 and alludes to the Chinese shipping
then frequenting Brunai. It is by some supposed that the northern
portion of Borneo was the destination of the unsuccessful expedition
which KUBLAI KHAN sent out in the year 1292.

Towards the close of the eighteenth century a Government seems to have
arisen in Brunai which knew not ONG SUM PING and, in 1809, Mr. HUNT
reported that Chinese junks had ceased visiting Brunai and, owing no
doubt to the rapacious and piratical character of the native Government,
the pepper gardens were gradually deserted and the Chinese left the
country. A few of the natives had, however, acquired the art of pepper
cultivation, especially the Dusuns of Pappar, Kimanis and Bundu and when
the Colony of Labuan was founded, 1846, there was still a small trade in
pepper with those rivers. The Brunai Rájas, however, received their
revenues and taxes in this commodity and their exhorbitant demands
gradually led to the abandonment of its cultivation.

These rivers have since passed under the Government of the British North
Borneo Company, and in Bundu, owing partly to the security now afforded
to life and property and partly to the very high price which pepper at
present realizes on account of the Dutch blockade of Achin--Achin
having been of late years the principal pepper-growing country--the
natives are again turning their attention to this article. I may remark
here that the people of Bundu claim and shew evidence of Chinese
descent, and even set up in their houses the little altar and joss which
one is accustomed to see in Chinamen's shops. The Brunai Malays call the
Chinese _Orang Kina_ and evidence of their connection with Borneo is
seen in such names as _Kina-batangan_, a river near Sandakan on the
north-east coast, _Kina-balu_, the mountain above referred to, and
_Kina-benua_, a district in Labuan. They have also left their mark in
the very superior mode of cultivation and irrigation of rice fields on
some rivers on the north-west coast as compared with the primitive mode
practised in other parts of Northern Borneo. It is now the object of the
Governments of Sarawak and of British North Borneo to attract Chinese to
their respective countries by all the means in their power. This has, to
a considerable extent, been successfully achieved by the present Rája
BROOKE, and a large area of his territory is now under pepper
cultivation with a very marked influence on the public revenues. This
subject will be again alluded to when I come to speak of British North

It would appear that Brunai was once or twice attacked by the Spaniards,
the last occasion being in 1645.[9] It has also had the honour in more
recent times, of receiving the attentions of a British naval expedition,
which was brought about in this wise. Sir JAMES, then Mr. BROOKE, had
first visited Sarawak in 1839 and found the district in rebellion
against its ruler, a Brunai Rája named MUDA HASSIM, who, being a friend
to the English, received Mr. BROOKE with cordiality. Mr. BROOKE returned
to Sarawak in the following year and this time assisted MUDA HASSIM to
put down the rebellion and finally, on the 24th September, 1841, the
Malay Rája retired from his position as Governor in favour of the

The agreement to so transfer the Government was not signed without the
application of a little pressure, for we find the following account of
it in Mr. BROOKE'S Journal, edited by Captain RODNEY MUNDY, R. N., in
two volumes, and published by JOHN MURRAY in 1848:--

    "October 1st, 1841. Events of great importance have occurred
    during the last month. I will shortly narrate them. The advent
    of the _Royalist_ and _Swift_ and a second visit from the
    _Diana_ on her return from Brunei with the shipwrecked crew of
    the _Sultana_, strengthened my position, as it gave evidence
    that the Singapore authorities were on the alert, and otherwise
    did good to my cause by creating an impression amongst the
    natives of my power and influence with the Governor of the
    Straits Settlements. Now, then, was my time for pushing measures
    to extremity against my subtle enemy the arch-intriguer MAKOTA."
    This Chief was a Malay hostile to English interest. "I had
    previously made several strong remonstrances, and urged for an
    answer to a letter I had addressed to MUDA HASSIM, in which I
    had recapitulated in detail the whole particulars of our
    agreement, concluding by a positive demand either to allow me to
    retrace my steps by repayment of the sums which he had induced
    me to expend, or to confer upon me the grant of the Government
    of the country according to his repeated promises; and I ended
    by stating that if he would not do either one or the other I
    _must find means to right myself_. Thus did I, for the first
    time since my arrival in the land, present anything in the shape
    of a menace before the Rája, my former remonstrances only going
    so far as to threaten to take away my own person and vessels
    from the river." Mr. BROOKE'S demand for an investigation into
    MAKOTA'S conduct was politely shelved and Mr. BROOKE deemed "the
    moment for action had now arrived. My conscience told me that I
    was bound no longer to submit to such injustice, and I was
    resolved to test the strength of our respective parties.
    Repairing on board the yacht, I mustered my people, explained
    my intentions and mode of operation, and having loaded the
    vessel's guns with grape and canister, and brought her broadside
    to bear, I proceeded on shore with a detachment fully armed, and
    taking up a position at the entrance of the Rája's palace,
    demanded and obtained an immediate audience. In a few words I
    pointed out the villany of MAKOTA, his tyranny and oppression of
    all classes, and my determination to attack him by force, and
    drive him from the country. I explained to the Raja that several
    Chiefs and a large body of Siniawan Dyaks were ready to assist
    me, and the only course left to prevent bloodshed was
    immediately to proclaim me Governor of the country. This
    unmistakeable demonstration had the desired effect * * * None
    joined the party of MAKOTA, and his paid followers were not more
    than twenty in number.

    "Under the guns of the _Royalist_, and with a small body of men
    to protect me personally, and the great majority of all classes
    with me, it is not surprising that the negotiation proceeded
    rapidly to a favourable issue. The document was quickly drawn
    up, sealed, signed, and delivered; and on the 24th of September,
    1841, I was declared Rája and Governor of Sarawak amidst the
    roar of cannon, and a general display of flags and banners from
    the shore and boats on the river."

This is a somewhat lengthy quotation, but the language is so graphic and
so honest that I need make no apologies for introducing it and, indeed,
it is the fairest way of exhibiting Mr. BROOKE'S objects and reasons and
is, moreover, interesting as shewing under what circumstances and
conditions the first permanent English settlement was formed in Borneo.

Mr. BROOKE concludes his account of his accession to the Government in
words that remind us of another unselfish and modest hero--General
GORDON. He says:--

    "Difficulty followed upon difficulty; the dread of pecuniary
    failure, the doubt of receiving support or assistance; this and
    much more presents itself to my mind. But I have tied myself to
    the stake. I have heaped faggots around me. I stand upon a cask
    of gunpowder, and if others bring the torch I shall not shrink,
    I feel within me the firm, unchangeable conviction of doing
    right which nothing can shake. I see the benefits I am
    conferring. The oppressed, the wretched, the outlawed have found
    in me their only protector. They now hope and trust; and they
    shall not be disappointed while I have life to uphold them. God
    has so far used me as a humble instrument of his hidden
    Providence; and whatever be the result, whatever my fate, I know
    the example will not be thrown away. I know it tends to a good
    end in His own time. He can open a path for me through all
    difficulties, raise me up friends who will share with me in the
    task, awaken the energies of the great and powerful, so that
    they may protect this unhappy people. I trust it may be so: but
    if God wills otherwise; if the time be not yet arrived; if it be
    the Almighty's will that the flickering taper shall be
    extinguished ere it be replaced by a steady beacon, I submit, in
    the firm and humble assurance that His ways are better than my
    ways, and that the term of my life is better in His hands than
    in my own."

On the 1st August, 1842, this cession of Sarawak to Mr. BROOKE was
confirmed by His Highness Sultan OMAR ALI SAIFUDIN, under the Great
Seal. MUDA HASSIM was the uncle of the Sultan, who was a sovereign of
weak, vacillating disposition, at one time guided by the advice of his
uncle, who was the leader of the "English party," and expressing his
desire for the Queen's assistance to put down piracy and disorder and
offering, in return, to cede to the British the island of Labuan; at
another following his own natural inclinations and siding altogether
with the party of disorder, who were resolved to maintain affairs as
they were in the "good old times," knowing that when the reign of law
and order should be established their day and their power and ability to
aggrandize and enrich themselves at the expense of the aborigines and
the common people would come to an end. There is no doubt that Mr.
BROOKE himself considered it would be for the good of the country that
MUDA HASSIM should be raised to the throne and the Sultan certainly
entertained a not altogether ill-founded dread that it was intended to
depose him in the latter's favour, the more so as a large majority of
the Brunai people were known to be in his interest. In the early part
of 1845 MUDA HASSIM appears to have been in favour with the Sultan, and
was publicly announced as successor to the throne with the title of
_Sultan Muda_ (muda = young, the usual Malay title for the heir apparent
to the Crown), and the document recognising the appointment of Mr.
BROOKE as the Queen's Confidential Agent in Borneo was written in the
name of the Sultan and of MUDA HASSIM conjointly, and concludes by
saying that the two writers express the hope that through the Queen's
assistance they will be enabled to _settle the Government of Borneo_. In
April, 1846, however, Mr. BROOKE received the startling intelligence
that in the December, or January previous, the Sultan had ordered the
murder of his uncle MUDA HASSIM and of several of the Ràja's brothers
and nobles of his party, in all some thirteen Ràjas and many of their
followers. MUDA HASSIM, finding resistance useless, retreated to his
boat and ignited a cask of powder, but the explosion not killing him, he
blew his brains out with a pistol. His brother, Pangeran BUDRUDIN, one
of the most enlightened nobles in Brunai, likewise terminated his
existence by an explosion of gunpowder. Representations being made to
Sir THOMAS COCHRANE, the Admiral in command of the station, he proceeded
in person to Borneo with a squadron of eight vessels, including two
steamers. The Sultan, foreseeing the punishment that was inevitable,
erected some well-placed batteries to defend his town. Only the two
steamers and one sailing vessel of war, together with boats from the
other vessels and a force of six hundred men were able to ascend the
river and, such was the rotten state of the kingdom of Borneo Proper and
so unwarlike the disposition of its degenerate people that after firing
a few shots, whereby two of the British force were killed and a few
wounded, the batteries were deserted, the Sultan and his followers fled
to the jungle, and the capital remained at the Admiral's disposition.
Captain RODNEY MUNDY, accompanied by Mr. BROOKE, with a force of five
hundred men was despatched in pursuit of His Highness, but it is
needless to add that, though the difficulties of marching through a
trackless country under a tropical downpour of rain were pluckily
surmounted, it was found impossible to come up with the Royal fugitive.
Negotiations were subsequently entered into with the Prime Minister,
Pangeran MUMIM, an intelligent noble, who afterwards became Sultan, and
on the 19th July, 1846, the batteries were razed to the ground and the
Admiral issued a Proclamation to the effect that hostilities would cease
if the Sultan would return and govern lawfully, suppress piracy and
respect his engagements with the British Government; but that if he
persisted in his evil courses the squadron would return and burn down
the capital. The same day Admiral COCHRANE and his squadron steamed
away. It is perhaps superfluous to add that this was the first and the
last time that the Brunai Government attempted to try conclusions with
the British, and in the following year a formal treaty was concluded to
which reference will be made hereafter.

(_To be continued._)


[Footnote 8: CRAWFURD'S Dictionary--Indian Islands--_Majapait_.]

[Footnote 9: Captain RODNEY MUNDY, R. N., states that in 1846 he
captured at Brunai ten large Spanish brass guns, the longest being
14 feet 6 inches, cast in the time of CHARLES III of Spain and the
most beautiful specimens of workmanship he had ever seen. CHARLES III
reigned between 1759 and 1788.]


Having alluded to the circumstances under which the Government of
Sarawak became vested in the BROOKE family, it may be of interest if I
give a brief outline of the history of that State under its European
rulers up to the present time. The territory acquired by Sir JAMES
BROOKE in 1841 and known as Sarawak Proper, was a small district with a
coast line of sixty miles and with an average depth inland of fifty
miles--an area of three thousand square miles. Since that date, however,
rivers and districts lying to the northward have been acquired by
cessions for annual payments from the Brunai Government and have been
incorporated with the original district of Sarawak, which has given its
name to the enlarged territory, and the present area of Raja BROOKE'S
possessions is stated to be about 40,000 square miles, supporting a
population of 280,000 souls, and possessing a coast line of 380 miles.
The most recent acquisition of territory was in 1884, so that the young
State has shewn a very vigorous growth since its birth in 1841--at the
rate of about 860 square miles a year, or an increase of thirteen times
its original size in the space of forty-three years.

Now, alas, there are no "more lands to conquer," or acquire, unless the
present kingdom of Brunai, or Borneo Proper, as it is styled by the old
geographers, is altogether swallowed up by its offspring, which, under
its white ruler, has developed a vitality never evinced under the rule
of the Royal house of Brunai in its best days.[10]

The limit of Sarawak's coast line to the South-West is Cape, or
_Tanjong_, Datu, on the other side of which commences the Dutch portion
of Borneo, so that expansion in that direction is barred. To the
North-East the boundary is Labuk Pulai the Eastern limit of the
watershed, on the coast, of the important river Barram which was
acquired by Raja BROOKE, in 1881, for an annual payment of £1,000.
Beyond this commences what is left of the Brunai Sultanate, there being
but one stream of any importance between the Barram river and that on
which the capital--Brunai--is situated. But Sarawak does not rest here;
it acquired, in 1884, from the then Pangeran Tumonggong, who is now
Sultan, the Trusan, a river to the East of the Brunai, under somewhat
exceptional circumstances. The natives of the river were in rebellion
against the Brunai Government, and in November, 1884, a party of Sarawak
Dyaks, who had been trading and collecting jungle produce in the
neighbourhood of the capital, having been warned by their own Government
to leave the country because of its disturbed condition, and having
further been warned also by the Sultan not to enter the Trusan, could
not refrain from visiting that river on their homeward journey, in order
to collect some outstanding trade debts. They were received is so
friendly a manner, that their suspicions were not in the slightest
degree aroused, and they took no precautions, believing themselves to be
amongst friends. Suddenly in the night they were attacked while asleep
in their boats, and the whole party, numbering about seventeen,
massacred, with the exception of one man who, though wounded, managed to
effect his escape and ultimately found his way to Labuan, where he was
treated in the Government Hospital and made a recovery. The heads of the
murdered men were, as is customary, taken by the murderers. No very
distinct reason can be given for the attack, except that the Trusan
people were in a "slaying" mood, being on the "war-path" and in arms
against their own Government, and it has also been said that those
particular Dyaks happened to be wearing trowsers instead of their
ordinary _chawat_, or loin cloth, and, as their enemies, the Brunais,
were trowser-wearers, the Trusan people thought fit to consider all
natives wearing such extravagant clothing as their enemies. The Sarawak
Government, on hearing of the incident, at once despatched Mr. MAXWELL,
the Chief Resident, to demand redress. The Brunai Government, having no
longer the warlike Kyans at their beck and call, that tribe having
passed to Raja BROOKE with the river Barram, were wholly unable to
undertake the punishment of the offenders. Mr. MAXWELL then demanded as
compensation the sum of $22,000, basing his calculations on the amount
which some time previously the British Government had exacted in the
case of some British subjects who had been murdered in another river.

This demand the bankrupt Government of Brunai was equally incompetent to
comply with, and, thereupon, the matter was settled by the transfer of
the river to Raja BROOKE in consideration of the large annual payment of
$4,500, two years' rental--$9,000, being paid in advance, and Sarawak
thus acquired, as much by good luck as through good management, a _pied
à terre_ in the very centre of the Brunai Sultanate and practically
blocked the advance of their northern rivals--the Company--on the
capital. This river was the _kouripan_ (see _ante_, page 26) of the
present Sultan, and a feeling of pique which he then entertained against
the Government of British North Borneo, on account of their refusing him
a monetary loan to which he conceived he had a claim, caused him to make
this cession with a better grace and more readily than might otherwise
have been the case, for he was well aware that the British North Borneo
Company viewed with some jealousy the extension of Sarawak territory in
this direction, having, more than probably, themselves an ambition to
carry their own southern boundary as near to Brunai as circumstances
would admit. The same feeling on the part of the Tumonggong induced him
to listen to Mr. MAXWELL'S proposals for the cession to Sarawak of a
still more important river--the Limbang--one on which the existence of
Brunai itself as an independent State may be said to depend. But the
then reigning Sultan and the other Ministers of State refused their
sanction, and the Tumonggong, since his accession to the throne, has
also very decidedly changed his point of view, and is now in accord with
the large majority of his Brunai subjects to whom such a cession would
be most distasteful. It should be explained that the Limbang is an
important sago-producing river, close to the capital and forming an
actual portion of the Brunai river itself, with the waters of which it
mingles; indeed, the Brunai river is probably the former mouth of the
Limbang, and is itself but a salt-water inlet, producing nothing but
fish and prawns. As the Brunais themselves put it, the Limbang is their
_priuk nasi_, their rice pot, an expression which gains the greater
force when it is remembered that rice is the chief food with this
eastern people, in a more emphatic sense even than bread is with us.
This question of the Limbang river will afford a good instance and
specimen of the oppressive government, or want of government, on the
part of the Brunai rulers, and I will return to it again, continuing now
my short glance at Sarawak's progress. Raja BROOKE has had little
difficulty in establishing his authority in the districts acquired from
time to time, for not only were the people glad to be freed from the
tyranny of the Brunai Rajas, but the fame of both the present Raja and
of his famous uncle Sir JAMES had spread far and wide in Borneo, and, in
addition, it was well known that the Sarawak Government had at its back
its war-like Dyak tribes, who, now that "head-hunting" has been stopped
amongst them, would have heartily welcomed the chance of a little
legitimate fighting and "at the commandment of the Magistrate to wear
weapons and serve in the wars," as the XXXVIIth Article of our Church
permits. In the Trusan, the Sarawak flag was freely distributed and
joyfully accepted, and in a short time the Brunai river was dotted with
little roughly "dug-out" canoes, manned by repulsive-looking, naked,
skin-diseased savages, each proudly flying an enormous Sarawak ensign,
with its Christian symbol of the Cross, in the Muhammadan capital.

A fine was imposed and paid for the murder of the Sarawak Dyaks, and the
heads delivered up to Mr. A. H. EVERETT, the Resident of the new
district, who thus found his little launch on one occasion decorated in
an unusual manner with these ghastly trophies, which were, I believe,
forwarded to the sorrowing relatives at home.

In addition to these levies of warriors expert in jungle fighting, on
which the Government can always count, the Raja has a small standing
army known as the "Sarawak Rangers," recruited from excellent
material--the natives of the country--under European Officers, armed
with breech-loading rifles, and numbering two hundred and fifty or three
hundred men. There is, in addition, a small Police Force, likewise
composed of natives, as also are the crews of the small steamers and
launches which form the Sarawak Navy. With the exception, therefore, of
the European Officers, there is no foreign element in the military,
naval and civil forces of the State, and the peace of the people is kept
by the people themselves, a state of things which makes for the
stability and popularity of the Government, besides enabling it to
provide for the defence of the country and the preservation of internal
order at a lower relative cost than probably any other Asiatic country
the Government of which is in the hand of Europeans. Sir JAMES BROOKE
did not marry, and died in 1868, having appointed as his successor the
present Raja CHARLES JOHNSON, who has taken the name of BROOKE, and has
proclaimed his eldest son, a youth of sixteen, heir apparent, with the
title of Raja Muda. The form of Government is that of an absolute
monarchy, but the Raja is assisted by a Supreme Council composed of two
European officials and four natives nominated by himself. There is also
a General Council of some fifty members, which is not usually convened
more frequently than once in two or three years. For administrative
purposes, the country is divided into Divisions, each under a European
Resident with European and Native Assistants. The Resident administers
justice, and is responsible for the collection of the Revenue and the
preservation of order in the district, reporting direct to the Raja.
Salaries are on an equitable scale, and the regulations for leave and
pension on retirement are conceived in a liberal spirit.

There is no published Code of Laws, but the Raja, when the occasion
arises, issues regulations and proclamations for the guidance of
officials, who, in criminal cases, follow as much as possible the Indian
Criminal Code. Much is left to the common sense of the Judicial
Officers, native customs and religious prejudices receive due
consideration, and there is a right of appeal to the Raja. Slavery was
in full force when Sir JAMES BROOKE assumed the Government, all captives
in the numerous tribal wars and piratical expeditions being kept or sold
as slaves.

Means were taken to mitigate as much as possible the condition of the
slaves, not, as a rule, a very hard one in these countries, and to
gradually abolish the system altogether, which latter object was to be
accomplished by 1888.

The principal item of revenue is the annual sum paid by the person who
secures from the Government the sole right of importing, preparing for
consumption, and retailing opium throughout the State. The holder of
this monopoly is known as the "Opium Farmer" and the monopoly is termed
the "Opium Farm." These expressions have occasionally given rise to the
notion that the opium-producing poppy is cultivated locally under
Government supervision, and I have seen it included among the list of
Borneo products in a recent geographical work. It is evident that the
system of farming out this monopoly has a tendency to limit the
consumption of the drug, as, owing to the heavy rental paid to the
Government, the retail price of the article to the consumer is very much

Were the monopoly abolished, it would be impossible for the Government
efficiently to check the contraband importation of so easily smuggled an
article as prepared opium, or _chandu_, and by lowering the price the
consumption would be increased.

The use of the drug is almost entirely confined to the Chinese portion
of the population. A poll-tax, customs and excise duties, mining
royalties and fines and fees make up the rest of the revenue, which in
1884 amounted to $237,752 and in 1885 to $315,264. The expenditure for
the same years is given by Vice-Consul CADELL as $234,161 and $321,264,
respectively. In the early days of Sarawak, it was a very serious
problem to find the money to pay the expenses of a most economical
Government. Sir JAMES BROOKE sunk all his own fortune--£30,000--in the
country, and took so gloomy a view of the financial prospects of his
kingdom that, on the refusal of England to annex it, he offered it first
to France and then to Holland. Fortunately these offers were never
carried into effect, and, with the assistance of the Borneo Company (not
to be confused with the British North Borneo Company), who acquired the
concession of the right to work the minerals in Sarawak, bad times were
tided over, and, by patient perseverance, the finances of the State have
been brought to their present satisfactory condition. What the amount of
the national public debt is, I am not in a position to say, but, like
all other countries aspiring to be civilized, it possesses a small one.
The improvement in the financial position was undoubtedly chiefly due to
the influx of Chinese, especially of gambier and pepper planters, who
were attracted by liberal concessions of land and monetary assistance in
the first instance from the Government. The present Raja has himself
said that "without the Chinese we can do nothing," and we have only to
turn to the British possession in the far East--the Straits Settlements,
the Malay Peninsula, and Hongkong--to see that this is the case. For
instance, the revenue of the Straits Settlements in 1887 was $3,847,475,
of which the opium farm alone--that is a tax practically speaking borne
by the Chinese population--contributed $1,779,600, or not very short of
one half of the whole, and they of course contribute in many other ways
as well. The frugal, patient, industrious, go-ahead, money-making
Chinaman is undoubtedly the colonist for the sparsely inhabited islands
of the Malay archipelago. Where, as in Java, there is a large native
population and the struggle for existence has compelled the natives to
adopt habits of industry, the presence of the Chinaman is not a
necessity, but in a country like Borneo, where the inhabitants, from
time immemorial, except during unusual periods of drought or epidemic
sickness, have never found the problem of existence bear hard upon them,
it is impossible to impress upon the natives that they ought to have
"wants," whether they feel them or not, and that the pursuit of the
dollar for the sake of mere possession is an ennobling object,
differentiating the simple savage from the complicated product of the
higher civilization. The Malay, in his ignorance, thinks that if he can
obtain clothing suitable to the climate, a hut which adequately protects
him from sun and rain, and a wife to be the mother of his children and
the cooker of his meals, he should therewith rest content; but, then, no
country made up of units possessed of this simple faith can ever come to
anything--can ever be civilized, and hence the necessity for the Chinese
immigrant in Eastern Colonies that want to shew an annual revenue
advancing by leaps and bounds. The Chinaman, too, in addition to his
valuable properties as a keen trader and a man of business, collecting
from the natives the products of the country, which he passes on to the
European merchant, from whom he obtains the European fabrics and
American "notions" to barter with the natives, is also a good
agriculturist, whether on a large or small scale; he is muscular and can
endure both heat and cold, and so is, at any rate in the tropics, far
and away a superior animal to the white labourer, whether for
agricultural or mining work, as an artizan, or as a hewer of wood and
drawer of water, as a cook, a housemaid or a washerwoman. He can learn
any trade that a white man can teach him, from ship-building to
watchmaking, and he does not drink and requires scarcely any holidays or
Sundays, occasionally only a day to worship his ancestors.

It will be said that if he does not drink he smokes opium. Yes! he does,
and this, as we have seen, is what makes him so beloved of the Colonial
Chancellors of the Exchequer. At the same time he is, if strict justice
and firmness are shewn him, wonderfully law-abiding and orderly. Faction
fights, and serious ones no doubt, do occur between rival classes and
rival secret societies, but to nothing like the extent that would be the
case were they white men. It is not, I think, sufficiently borne in
mind, that a very large proportion of the Chinese there are of the
lower, I may say of the lowest, orders, many of them of the criminal
class and the scourings of some of the large cities of China, who arrive
at their destination in possession of nothing but a pair of trowsers and
a jacket and, may be, an opium pipe; in addition to this they come from
different provinces, between the inhabitants of which there has always
been rivalry, and the languages of which are so entirely different that
it is a usual thing to find Chinese of different provinces compelled to
carry on their conversation in Malay or "pidgeon" English, and finally,
as though the elements of danger were not already sufficient, they are
pressed on their arrival to join rival secret societies, between which
the utmost enmity and hatred exists. Taking all these things into
consideration, I maintain that the Chinaman is a good and orderly
citizen and that his good qualities, especially as a revenue-payer in
the Far East, much more than counterbalance his bad ones. The secret
societies, whose organization permeates Chinese society from the top to
the bottom, are the worst feature in the social condition of the Chinese
colonists, and in Sarawak a summary method of suppressing them has been
adopted. The penalty for belonging to one of these societies is death.
When Sir JAMES BROOKE took over Sarawak, there was a considerable
Chinese population, settled for generations in the country and recruited
from Dutch territory, where they had been subject to no supervision by
the Government, whose hold over the country was merely nominal. They
were principally gold diggers, and being accustomed to manage their own
affairs and settle their disputes amongst themselves, they resented any
interference from the new rulers, and, in 1857, a misunderstanding
concerning the opium revenue having occurred, they suddenly rose in arms
and seized the capital. It was some time before the Raja's forces could
be collected and let loose upon them, when large numbers were killed and
the majority of the survivors took refuge in Dutch territory.

The scheme for introducing Chinese pepper and gambier planters into
Sarawak was set on foot in 1878 or 1879, and has proved a decided
success, though, as Vice-Consul CADELL remarked in 1886, it is difficult
to understand why even larger numbers have not availed themselves of the
terms offered "since coolies have the protection of the Sarawak
Government, which further grants them free passages from Singapore,
whilst the climate is a healthy one, and there are no dangers to be
feared from wild animals, tigers being unknown in Sarawak." The fact
remains that, though there is plenty of available land, there is an
insufficiency of Chinese labour still. The quantity of pepper exported
in 1885 was 392 tons, valued at £19,067, and of gambier 1,370 tons,
valued at £23,772.

Sarawak is said to supply more than half of the sago produce of the
world. The value of the sago it exported in 1885 is returned at £35,953.
Of the purely uncultivated jungle products that figure in the exports
the principal are gutta-percha, India rubber, and rattans.

Both antimony ores and cinnabar (an ore of quicksilver) are worked by
the Borneo Company, but the exports of the former ore and of quicksilver
are steadily decreasing, and fresh deposits are being sought for. Only
one deposit of cinnabar has so far been discovered, that was in 1867.
Antimony was first discovered in Sarawak in 1824, and-for a long time it
was from this source that the principal supplies for Europe and America
were obtained. The ores are found "generally as boulders deep in clayey
soil, or perched on tower-like summits and craggy pinnacles and,
sometimes, in dykes _in situ_." The ores, too poor for shipment, are
reduced locally, and the _regulus_ exported to London. Coal is abundant,
but is not yet worked on any considerable scale.[11] The Borneo Company
excepted, all the trade of the country is in the hands of Chinese and
Natives, nor has the Government hitherto taken steps to attract European
capital for planting, but experiments are being made with the public
funds under European supervision in the planting of cinchona, coffee,
and tobacco. The capital of Sarawak is _Kuching_, which in Malay
signifies a "cat." It is situated about fifteen miles up the Sarawak
river and, when Sir JAMES first arrived, was a wretched native town,
with palm leaf huts and a population, including a few Chinese and Klings
(natives of India), of some two thousand. Kuching now possesses a well
built "Istana," or Palace of the Raja, a Fort, impregnable to natives, a
substantial Gaol, Court House, Government Offices, Public Market and
Church, and is the headquarters of the Bishop of Singapore and Sarawak,
who is the head of the Protestant Mission in the country. There is a
well built brick Chinese trading quarter, or "bazaar," the Europeans
have comfortable bungalows, and the present population is said to number
twelve thousand.

In the early days of his reign, Sir JAMES BROOKE was energetically
assisted in his great work of suppressing piracy and rendering the seas
and rivers safe for the passage of the peaceful trader, by the British
men-of-war on the China Station, and was singularly fortunate in having
an energetic co-adjutor in Captain (now Admiral) Sir HENRY KEPPEL,

It will give some idea of the extent to which piracy, then almost the
sole occupation of the Illanun, Balinini, and Sea Dyak tribes, was
indulged in that the "Headmoney," then paid by the British Government
for pirates destroyed, amounted in these expeditions to the large total
of £20,000, the awarding of which sum occasioned a great stir at the
time and led to the abolition of this system of "payment by results."
Mr. HUME took exception altogether to the action of Sir JAMES BROOKE,
and, in 1851, charges were brought against him, and a Royal Commission
appointed to take evidence on the spot, or rather at Singapore.

A man like BROOKE, of an enthusiastic, impulsive, unselfish and almost
Quixotic disposition, who wore his heart on his sleeve and let his
opinions of men and their actions be freely known, could not but have
incurred the enmity of many meaner, self-seeking minds. The Commission,
after hearing all that could be brought against him, found that there
was nothing proved, but it was not deemed advisable that Sir JAMES
should continue to act as the British representative in Borneo and as
Governor of the Colony of Labuan, positions which were indeed
incompatible with that of the independent ruler of Sarawak. Sarawak
independence was first recognised by the Americans, and the British
followed suit in 1863, when a Vice-Consulate was established there. The
question of formally proclaiming a British Protectorate over Sarawak is
now being considered, and it is to be hoped, will be carried into
effect.[12] The _personel_ of the Government is purely British, most of
the merchants and traders are of British nationality, and the whole
trade of the country finds its way to the British Colony of the Straits

We can scarcely let a country such as this, with its local and other
resources, so close to Singapore and on the route to China, fall into
the hands of any other European Power, and the only means of preventing
such a catastrophe is by the proclamation of a Protectorate over it--a
Protectorate which, so long as the successors of Raja BROOKE prove their
competence to govern, should be worked so as to interfere as little as
possible in the internal affairs of the State. The virulently hostile
and ignorant criticisms to which Sir JAMES BROOKE was subjected in
England, and the financial difficulties of this little kingdom, coupled
with a serious dispute with a nephew whom he had appointed his
successor, but whom he was compelled to depose, embittered the last
years of his life. To the end he fought his foes in his old, plucky,
honest, vigorous and straightforward style. He died in June, 1868, from
a paralytic stroke, and was succeeded by his nephew, the present Raja.
What Sir JAMES BROOKE might have accomplished had he not been hampered
by an opposition based on ignorance and imperfect knowledge at home, we
cannot say; what he did achieve, I have endeavoured briefly to sketch,
and unprejudiced minds cannot but deem the founding of a prosperous
State and the total extirpation of piracy, slavery and head-hunting, a
monument worthy of a high, noble and unselfish nature.

In addition to that of the Church of England, there has, within the last
few years, been established a Roman Catholic Mission, under the auspices
of the St. Joseph's College, Mill Hill.

The Muhammadans, including all the true Malay inhabitants, do not make
any concerted effort to disseminate the doctrines of their faith.

The following information relative to the Church of England Mission has
been kindly furnished me by the Right Reverend Dr. HOSE, the present
Bishop of "Singapore, Labuan and Sarawak," which is the official title
of his extensive See which includes the Colony of the Straits
Settlements--Penang, Province Wellesley, Malacca and Singapore and--its
Dependencies, the Protected States of the Malay Peninsula, the State of
Sarawak, the Crown Colony of Labuan, the Territories of the British
North Borneo Company and the Congregation of English people scattered
over Malaya.

The Mission was, in the first instance, set on foot by the efforts of
Lady BURDETT-COUTTS and others in 1847, when Sir JAMES BROOKE was in
England and his doings in the Far East had excited much interest and
enthusiasm, and was specially organized under the name of the "Borneo
Church Mission." The late Reverend T. MCDOUGALL, was the first
Missionary, and subsequently became the first Bishop. His name was once
well known, owing to a wrong construction put upon his action, on one
occasion, in making use of fire arms when a vessel, on which he was
aboard, came across a fleet of pirates. He was a gifted, practical and
energetic man and had the interest of his Mission at heart, and, in
addition to other qualifications, added the very useful one, in his
position, of being a qualified medical man. Bishop MCDOUGALL was
succeeded on his retirement by Bishop CHAMBERS, who had experience
gained while a Missionary in the country. The present Bishop was
appointed in 1881. The Mission was eventually taken over by the Society
for the Propagation of the Gospel, and this Society defrays, with
unimportant exceptions, the whole cost of the See.

Dr. HOSE has under him in Sarawak eight men in holy orders, of whom six
are Europeans, one Chinese and one Eurasian. The influence of the
Missionaries has spread over the Skerang, Balau and Sibuyan tribes of
_Sea_-Dyaks, and also among the _Land_-Dyaks near Kuching, the Capital,
and among the Chinese of that town and the neighbouring pepper

There are now seven churches and twenty-five Mission chapels in Sarawak,
and about 4,000 baptized Christians of the Church of England. The
Mission also provides means of education and, through its press,
publishes translations of the Bible, the Prayer Book and other religious
and educational works, in Malay and in two Dyak dialects, which latter
have only become written languages since the establishment of the
Mission. In their Boys' School, at Kuching, over a hundred boys are
under instruction by an English Master, assisted by a staff of Native
Assistants; there is also a Girls' School, under a European Mistress,
and schools at all the Mission Stations. The Government of Sarawak
allows a small grant-in-aid to the schools and a salary of £200 a year
to one of the Missionaries, who acts as Government Chaplain.

The Roman Catholic Mission commenced its works in Sarawak in 1881, and
is under the direction of the Reverend Father JACKSON, Prefect
Apostolic, who has also two or three Missionaries employed in British
North Borneo. In Sarawak there are six or eight European priests and
schoolmasters and a sisterhood of four or five nuns. In Kuching they
have a Chapel and School and a station among the Land-Dyaks in the
vicinity. They have recently established a station and erected a Chapel
on the Kanowit River, an affluent of the Rejang. The Missionaries are
mostly foreigners and, I believe, are under a vow to spend the remainder
of their days in the East, without returning to Europe.

Their only reward is their consciousness of doing, or trying to do good,
and any surplus of their meagre stipends which remains, after providing
the barest necessaries of life, is refunded to the Society. I do not
know what success is attending them in Sarawak, but in British North
Borneo and Labuan, where they found that Father QUARTERON'S labours had
left scarcely any impression, their efforts up to present have met with
little success, and experiments in several rivers have had to be
abandoned, owing to the utter carelessness of the Pagan natives as to
matters relating to religion. When I left North Borneo in 1887, their
only station which appeared to show a prospect of success was one under
Father PUNDLEIDER, amongst the semi-Chinese of Bundu, to whom reference
has been made on a previous page. But these people, while permitting
their children to be educated and baptized by the Father, did not think
it worth their while to join the Church themselves.

Neither Mission has attempted to convert the Muhammadan tribes, and
indeed it would, at present, be perfectly useless to do so and, from the
Government point of view, impolitic and inadvisable as well.


[Footnote 10: On the 17th March, 1890 the Limbang River was forcibly
annexed by Sarawak, subject to the Queen's sanction.]

[Footnote 11: Since this was written, Raja Sir CHARLES BROOKE has
acquired valuable coal concessions at Muara, at the mouth of the Brunai
river, and the development of the coal resources of the State is being
energetically pushed forward.]

[Footnote 12: This has since been formally proclaimed.]


I will now take a glance at the incident of the rebellion of the
inhabitants of the Limbang, the important river near Brunai to which
allusion has already been made, as from this one sample he will be able
to judge of the ordinary state of affairs in districts near the Capital,
since the establishment of Labuan as a Crown Colony and the conclusion
of the treaty and the appointment of a British Consul-General in Brunai,
and will also be able to attempt to imagine the oppression prevalent
before those events took place. The river, being a fertile and well
populated one and near Brunai, had been from old times the common purse
of the numerous nobles who, either by inheritance, or in virtue of their
official positions, as I have explained, owned as their followers the
inhabitants of the various villages situated on its banks, and many were
the devices employed to extort the uttermost farthing from the
unfortunate people, who were quite incapable of offering any resistance
because the warlike Kyan tribe was ever ready at hand to sweep down upon
them at the behest of their Brunai oppressors. The system of _dagang
sera_ (forced trade) I have already explained. Some of the other devices
I will now enumerate. _Chukei basoh batis_, or the tax of washing feet,
a contribution, varying in amount at the sweet will of the imposer,
levied when the lord of the village, or his chief agent, did it the
honour of a visit. _Chukei bongkar-sauh_, or tax on weighing anchor,
similarly levied when the lord took his departure and perhaps therefore,
paid with more willingness. _Chukei tolongan_, or tax of assistance,
levied when the lord had need of funds for some special purpose or on a
special occasion such as a wedding--and these are numerous amongst
polygamists--a birth, the building of a house or of a vessel. _Chop
bibas_, literally a free seal; this was a permission granted by the
Sultan to some noble and needy favourite to levy a contribution for his
own use anywhere he thought he could most easily enforce it. The method
of inventing imaginary crimes and delinquencies and punishing them with
heavy fines has been already mentioned. Then there are import and export
duties as to which no reasonable complaint can be made, but a real
grievance and hindrance to legitimate trade was the effort which the
Malays, supported by their rulers, made to prevent the interior tribes
trading direct with the Chinese and other foreign traders--acting
themselves as middlemen, so that but a very small share of profit fell
to the aborigines. The lords, too, had the right of appointing as many
_orang kayas_, or headmen, from among the natives as they chose, a
present being expected on their elevation to that position and another
on their death. In many rivers there was also an annual poll-tax, but
this does not appear to have been collected in the Limbang. Sir SPENCER
ST. JOHN, writing in 1856, gives, in his "Life in the Forests of the Far
East," several instances of the grievous oppression practiced on the
Limbang people. Amongst others he mentions how a native, in a fit of
desperation, had killed an extortionate tax-gatherer. Instead of having
the offender arrested and punished, the Sultan ordered his village to be
attacked, when fifty persons were killed and an equal number of women
and children were made prisoners and kept as slaves by His Highness. The
immediate cause of the rebellion to which I am now referring was the
extraordinary extortion practised by one of the principal Ministers of
State. The revenues of his office were principally derived from the
Limbang River and, as the Sultan was very old, he determined to make the
best possible use of the short time remaining to him to extract all he
could from his wretched feudatories. To aid him in his design, he
obtained, with the assistance of the British North Borneo Company, a
steam launch, and the Limbang people subsequently pointed out to me this
launch and complained bitterly that it was with the money forced out of
them that this means of oppressing them had been purchased. He then
employed the most unscrupulous agents he could discover, imposed
outrageous fines for trifling offences, and would even interfere if he
heard of any private disputes among the villagers, adjudicate unasked in
their cases, taking care always to inflict a heavy fine which went, not
to the party aggrieved, but into his own pocket. If the fines could not
be paid, and this was often the case, owing to their being purposely
fixed at such a high rate, the delinquent's sago plantations--the
principal wealth of the people in the Limbang River--would be
confiscated and became the private property of the Minister, or of some
of the members of his household. The patience of the people was at
length exhausted, and they remembered that the Brunai nobles could no
longer call in the Kayans to enforce their exactions, that tribe having
become subjects to Raja BROOKE. About the month of August, 1884, two of
the Minister's messengers, or tax collectors, who were engaged in the
usual process of squeezing the people, were fired on and killed by the
Bisayas, the principal pagan tribe in the river. The Tumonggong
determined to punish this outrage in person and probably thought his
august presence on the spot in a steam-launch, would quickly bring the
natives to their knees and afford him a grand opportunity of
replenishing his treasury.

He accordingly ascended the river with a considerable force in
September, and great must have been his surprise when he found that his
messenger, sent in advance to call the people to meet him, was fired on
and killed. He could scarcely have believed the evidence of his own
ears, however, when shortly afterwards his royal launch and little fleet
were fired on from the river banks. For two days was this firing kept
up, the Brunais having great difficulty in returning it, owing to the
river being low and the banks steep and lined with large trees, behind
which the natives took shelter, and, a few casualties having occurred on
board and one of the Royal guns having burst, which was known as the
_Amiral Muminin_, the Tumonggong deemed it expedient to retire and
returned ignominiously to Brunai. The rebels, emboldened by the impunity
they had so far enjoyed, were soon found to be hovering round the
outskirts of the capital, and every now and then an outlying house
would be attacked during the night and the headless corpses of its
occupants be found on the morrow. There being no forts and no organized
force to resist attack, the houses, moreover, being nearly all
constructed of highly inflammable palm leaf thatch and matting, a
universal panic prevailed amongst all classes, when the Limbang people
announced their intention of firing the town. Considerable distress too
prevailed, as the spirit of rebellion had spread to all the districts
near the capital, and the Brunai people who had settled in them were
compelled to flee for their lives, leaving their property in the hands
of the insurgents, while the people of the city were unable to follow
their usual avocations--trading, planting, sago washing and so forth,
the Brunai River, as has been pointed out, producing nothing itself.
British trade being thus affected by the continuance of such a state of
affairs, and the British subjects in the city being in daily fear from
the apprehended attack by the rebels, the English Consul-General did
what he could to try and arrange matters. A certain Datu KLASSIE, one of
the most influential of the Bisaya Chiefs, came into Brunai without any
followers, but bringing with him, as a proof of the friendliness of his
mission, his wife. Instead of utilizing the services of this Chief in
opening communication with the natives, the Tumonggong, maddened by his
ignominious defeat, seized both Datu KLASSIE and his wife and placed
them in the public stocks, heavily ironed.

I was Acting Consul-General at the time, and my assistance in arranging
matters had been requested by the Brunai Government, while the Bisayas
also had expressed their warm desire to meet and consult with me if I
would trust myself amongst them, and I at once arranged so to do; but,
being well aware that my mission would be perfectly futile unless I was
the bearer of terms from the Sultan and unless Datu KLASSIE and his wife
were released, I refused to take any steps until these two points were

This was a bitter pill for the Brunai Rajas and especially for the
Tumonggong, who, though perfectly aware that he was quite unable, not
only to punish the rebels, but even to defend the city against their
attacks, yet clung to the vain hope that the British Government might
be induced to regard them as pirates and so interfere in accordance with
the terms of the treaty, or that the Raja of Sarawak would construe some
old agreement made with Sir JAMES BROOKE as necessitating his rendering
armed assistance.

However, owing to the experience, tact, perseverance and intelligence of
Inche MAHOMET, the Consular Agent, we gained our point after protracted
negotiations, and obtained the seals of the Sultan, the Bandahara, the
Di Gadong and the Tumonggong himself to a document, by which it was
provided that, on condition of the Limbang people laying down their arms
and allowing free intercourse with Brunai, all arbitrary taxation such
as that which has been described should be for ever abolished, but that,
in lieu therefor, a fixed poll-tax should be paid by all adult males, at
the rate of $3 per annum by married men and $2 by bachelors; that on the
death of an _orang kaya_ the contribution to be paid to the feudal lord
should be fixed at one pikul of brass gun, equal to about $21; that the
possession of their sago plantations should be peaceably enjoyed by
their owners; that jungle products should be collected without tax,
except in the case of gutta percha, on which a royalty of 5% _ad
valorem_ should be paid, instead of the 20% then exacted; that the taxes
should be collected by the headmen punctually and transmitted to Brunai,
and that four Brunai tax-gatherers, who were mentioned by name and whose
rapacious and criminal action had been instrumental in provoking the
rebellion, should be forbidden ever again to enter the Limbang River;
that a free pardon should be granted to the rebels.

Accompanied by Inche MAHOMET and with some Bisaya interpreters, I
proceeded up the Limbang River, on the 21st October, in a steam-launch,
towing the boats of Pangeran ISTRI NAGARA and of the Datu AHAMAT, who
were deputed to accompany us and represent the Brunai Government.

Several hundred of the natives assembled to meet us, and the Government
conditions were read out and explained. It was evident that the people
found it difficult to place much reliance in the promises of the Rajas,
although the document was formally attested by the seals of the Sultan
and of his three Ministers, and a duplicate had been prepared for them
to keep in their custody for future reference. It was seen, too, that
there were a number of Muhammadans in the crowd who appeared adverse to
the acceptance of the terms offered, and, doubtless, many of them were
acting at the instigation of the Tumonggong's party, who by no means
relished so peaceful a solution of the difficulties their chief's action
had brought about.

Whilst the conference was still going on and the various clauses of the
_firman_ were being debated, news arrived that the Rajas had, in the
basest manner, let loose the Trusan Muruts on the district the day we
had sailed for the Limbang, and that these wretches had murdered and
carried off the heads of four women, two of whom were pregnant, and two
young unmarried girls and of two men who were at work in their gardens.

This treacherous action was successful in breaking up the meeting, and
was not far from causing the massacre of at any rate the Brunai portion
of our party, and the Pangeran and the Datu quickly betook themselves to
their boats and scuttled off to Brunai not waiting for the steam-launch.

But we determined not to be beaten by the Rajas' manoeuvres, and so,
though a letter reached me from the Sultan warning me of what had
occurred and urging me to return to Brunai, we stuck to our posts, and
ultimately were rewarded by the Bisayas returning and the majority of
their principal chiefs signing, or rather marking the document embodying
their new constitution, as it might be termed, in token of their
acquiescence--a result which should be placed to the credit of the
indefatigable Inche MAHOMET, whose services I am happy to say were
specially recognised in a despatch from the Foreign Office. Returning to
Brunai, I demanded the release of Datu KLASSIE, as had been agreed upon,
but it was only after I had made use of very plain language to his
messengers that the Tumonggong gave orders for his release and that of
his wife, whom I had the pleasure of taking up the river and restoring
to their friends.

H. M. S. _Pegasus_ calling at Labuan soon afterwards, I seized the
opportunity to request Captain BICKFORD to make a little demonstration
in Brunai, which was not often visited by a man-of-war, with the double
object of restoring confidence to the British subjects there and the
traders generally and of exacting a public apology for the disgraceful
conduct of the Government in allowing the Muruts to attack the Limbang
people while we were up that river. Captain BICKFORD at once complied
with my request, and, as the _Pegasus_ drew too much water to cross the
bar, the boats were manned and armed and towed up to the city by a
steam-launch. It was rather a joke against me that the launch which
towed up the little flotilla designed to overawe Brunai was sent for the
occasion by one of the principal Ministers of the Sultan. It was placed
at my disposal by the Pangeran Di Gadong, who was then a bitter enemy of
the Tumonggong, and glad to witness his discomfiture. This was on the
3rd November, 1884.

With reference to the heads taken on the occasion mentioned above, I may
add that the Muruts were allowed to retain them, and the disgusting
sight was to be seen, at one of the watering places in the town, of
these savages "cooking" and preparing the heads for keeping in their

As the Brunai Government was weak and powerless, I am of opinion that
the agreement with the Limbang people might have been easily worked had
the British Government thought it worth while to insist upon its
observance. As it was, hostilities did cease, the headmen came down and
visited the old Sultan, and trade recommenced. In June, 1885, Sultan
MUMIM died, at the age, according to Native statements, which are very
unreliable on such points, of 114 years, and was succeeded by the
Tumonggong, who was proclaimed Sultan on the 5th June of the same year,
when I had the honour of being present at the ceremony, which was not of
an imposing character. The new Sultan did not forget the mortifying
treatment he had received at the hands of the Limbang people, and
refused to receive their Chiefs. He retained, too, in his own hands the
appointment of Tumonggong, and with it the rights of that office over
the Limbang River, and it became the interest of many different parties
to prevent the completion of the pacification of that district. The
gentleman for whom I had been acting as Consul-General soon afterwards
returned to his post. In May, 1887, Sir FREDERICK WELD, Governor of the
Straits Settlements, was despatched to Brunai by Her Majesty's
Government, on a special mission, to report on the affairs of the Brunai
Sultanate and as to recent cessions of territory made, or in course of
negotiation, to the British North Borneo Company and to Sarawak. His
report has not been yet made public. There were at one time grave
objections to allowing Raja BROOKE to extend his territory, as there was
no guarantee that some one of his successors might not prefer a life of
inglorious ease in England to the task of governing natives in the
tropics, and sell his kingdom to the highest bidder--say France or
Germany; but if the British Protectorate over Sarawak is formally
proclaimed, there would appear to be no reasonable objection to the
BROOKES establishing their Government in such other districts as the
Sultan may see good of his own free will to cede, but it should be the
duty of the British Government to see that their ally is fairly treated
and that any cessions he may make are entirely voluntary and not brought
about by coercion in any form--direct or indirect.


The British Colony of Labuan was obtained by cession from the Sultan of
Brunai and was in the shape of a _quid pro quo_ for assistance in
suppressing piracy in the neighbouring seas, which the Brunai Government
was supposed to have at heart, but in all probability, the real reason
of the willingness on the Sultan's part to cede it was his desire to
obtain a powerful ally to assist him in reasserting his authority in
many parts of the North and West portions of his dominions, where the
allegiance of the people had been transferred to the Sultan of Sulu and
to Illanun and Balinini piratical leaders. It was a similar reason
which, in 1774, induced the Brunai Government to grant to the East India
Company the monopoly of the trade in pepper, and is explained in Mr.
JESSE'S letter to the Court of Directors as follows. He says that he
found the reason of their unanimous inclination to cultivate the
friendship and alliance of the Company was their desire for "protection
from their piratical neighbours, the Sulus and Mindanaos, and others,
who make continual depredations on their coast, by taking advantage of
their natural timidity."

The first connection of the British with Labuan was on the occasion of
their being expelled by the Sulus from Balambangan, in 1775, when they
took temporary refuge on the island.

In 1844, Captain Sir EDWARD BELCHER visited Brunai to enquire into
rumours of the detention of a European female in the country--rumours
which proved to be unfounded. Sir JAMES BROOKE accompanied him, and on
this occasion the Sultan, who had been terrified by a report that his
capital was to be attacked by a British squadron of sixteen or seventeen
vessels, addressed a document, in conjunction with Raja Muda HASSIM, to
the Queen of England, requesting her aid "for the suppression of piracy
and the encouragement and extension of trade; and to assist in
forwarding these objects they are willing to cede, to the Queen of
England, the Island of Labuan, and its islets on such terms as may
hereafter be arranged by any person appointed by Her Majesty. The Sultan
and the Raja Muda HASSIM consider that an English Settlement on Labuan
will be of great service to the natives of the coast, and will draw a
considerable trade from the northward, and from China; and should Her
Majesty the Queen of England decide upon the measure, the Sultan and the
Raja Muda HASSIM promise to afford every assistance to the English
authorities." In February of the following year, the Sultan and Raja
Muda HASSIM, in a letter accepting Sir JAMES BROOKE as Her Majesty's
Agent in Borneo, without specially mentioning Labuan, expressed their
adherence to their former declarations, conveyed through Sir EDWARD
BELCHER, and asked for immediate assistance "to protect Borneo from the
pirates of Marudu," a Bay situated at the northern extremity of
Borneo--assistance which was rendered in the following August, when the
village of Marudu was attacked and destroyed, though it is perhaps open
to doubt whether the chief, OSMAN, quite deserved the punishment he
received. On the 1st March of the same year (1845) the Sultan verbally
asked Sir JAMES BROOKE whether and at what time the English proposed to
take possession of Labuan. Then followed the episode already narrated of
the murder by the Sultan of Raja Muda HASSIM and his family and the
taking of Brunai by Admiral COCHRANE'S Squadron. In November, 1846,
instructions were received in Singapore, from Lord PALMERSTON, to take
possession of Labuan, and Captain RODNEY MUNDY was selected for this
service. He arrived in Brunai in December, and gives an amusing account
of how he proceeded to carry out his orders and obtain the _voluntary_
cession of the island. As a preliminary, he sent "Lieutenant LITTLE in
charge of the boats of the _Iris_ and _Wolf_, armed with twenty marines,
to the capital, with orders to moor them in line of battle opposite the
Sultan's palace, and to await my arrival." On reaching the palace,
Captain MUNDY produced a brief document, to which he requested the
Sultan to affix his seal, and which provided for eternal friendship
between the two countries, and for the cession of Labuan, in
consideration of which the Queen engaged to use her best endeavours to
suppress piracy and protect lawful commerce. The document of 1844 had
stated that Labuan would be ceded "on such terms as may hereafter be
arranged," and a promise to suppress piracy, the profits in which were
shared by the Sultan and his nobles, was by no means regarded by them as
a fair set off; it was a condition with which they would have readily
dispensed. The Sultan ventured to remark that the present treaty was
different to the previous one, and that a money payment was required in
exchange for the cession of territory. Captain MUNDY replied that the
former treaty had been broken when Her Majesty's Ships were fired on by
the Brunai forts, and "at last I turned to the Sultan, and exclaimed
firmly, 'Bobo chop bobo chop!' followed up by a few other Malay words,
the tenor of which was, that I recommended His Majesty to put his seal
forthwith." And he did so. Captain MUNDY hoisted the British Flag at
Labuan on the 24th December, 1846, and there still exists at Labuan in
the place where it was erected by the gallant Captain, a granite slab,
with an inscription recording the fact of the formal taking possession
of the island in Her Majesty's name.

In the following year, Sir JAMES BROOKE was appointed the first Governor
of the new Colony, retaining his position as the British representative
in Brunai, and being also the ruler of Sarawak, the independence of
which was not formally recognised by the English Government until the
year 1863. Sir JAMES was assisted at Labuan by a Lieutenant-Governor and
staff of European Officers, who on their way through Singapore are said
to have somewhat offended the susceptibilities of the Officials of that
Settlement by pointing to the fact that they were Queen's Officers,
whereas the Straits Settlements were at that time still under the
Government of the East India Company. Sir JAMES BROOKE held the position
of Governor until 1851, and the post has since been filled by such
well-known administrators as Sir HUGH LOW, Sir JOHN POPE HENNESSY, Sir
HENRY E. BULWER and Sir CHARLES LEES, but the expectations formed at its
foundation have never been realized and the little Colony appears to be
in a moribund condition, the Governorship having been left unfilled
since 1881. On the 27th May, 1847, Sir JAMES BROOKE concluded the Treaty
with the Sultan of Brunai which is still in force. Labuan is situated
off the mouth of the Brunai River and has an area of thirty square
miles. It was uninhabited when we took it, being only occasionally
visited by fishermen. It was then covered, like all tropical countries,
whether the soil is rich or poor, with dense forest, some of the trees
being valuable as timber, but most of this has since been destroyed,
partly by the successive coal companies, who required large quantities
of timber for their mines, but chiefly by the destructive mode of
cultivation practised by the Kadyans and other squatters from Borneo,
who were allowed to destroy the forest for a crop or two of rice, the
soil, except in the flooded plains, being not rich enough to carry more
than one or two such harvests under such primitive methods of
agriculture as only are known to the natives. The lands so cleared were
deserted and were soon covered with a strong growth of fern and coarse
useless _lalang_ grass, difficult to eradicate, and it is well known
that, when a tropical forest is once destroyed and the land left to
itself, the new jungle which may in time spring up rarely contains any
of the valuable timber trees which composed the original forest.

A few cargoes of timber were also exported by Chinese to Hongkong. Great
hopes were entertained that the establishment of a European Government
and a free port on an island lying alongside so rich a country as Borneo
would result in its becoming an emporium and collecting station for the
various products of, at any rate, the northern and western portions of
this country and perhaps, too, of the Sulu Archipelago. Many causes
prevented the realization of these hopes. In the first place, no
successful efforts were made to restore good government on the mainland,
and without a fairly good government and safety to life and property,
trade could not be developed. Then again Labuan was overshaded by the
prosperous Colony of Singapore, which is the universal emporium for all
these islands, and, with the introduction of steamers, it was soon found
that only the trade of the coast immediately opposite to Labuan could be
depended upon, that of the rest' including Sarawak and the City of
Brunai, going direct to Singapore, for which port Labuan became a
subsidiary and unimportant collecting station. The Spanish authorities
did what they could to prevent trade with the Sulu Islands, and, on the
signing of the Protocol between that country and Great Britain and
Germany freeing the trade from restrictions, Sulu produce has been
carried by steamers direct to Singapore. Since 1881, the British North
Borneo Company having opened ports to the North, the greater portion of
the trade of their possessions likewise finds its way direct by steamers
to the same port.

Labuan has never shipped cargoes direct to England, and its importance
as a collecting station for Singapore is now diminishing, for the
reasons above-mentioned.

Most or a large portion of the trade that now falls to its share comes
from the southern portion of the British North Borneo Company's
territories, from which it is distant, at the nearest point, only about
six miles, and the most reasonable solution of the Labuan question would
certainly appear to be the proclamation of a British Protectorate over
North Borneo, to which, under proper guarantees, might be assigned the
task of carrying on the government of Labuan, a task which it could
easily and economically undertake, having a sufficiently well organised
staff ready to hand.[13] By the Royal Charter it is already provided
that the appointment of the Company's Governor in Borneo is subject to
the sanction of Her Majesty's Secretary of State, and the two Officers
hitherto selected have been Colonial servants, whose service have been
_lent_ by the Colonial Office to the Company.

The Census taken in 1881 gives the total population of Labuan as 5,995,
but it has probably decreased considerably since that time. The number
of Chinese supposed to be settled there is about 300 or 400--traders,
shopkeepers, coolies and sago-washers; the preparation of sago flour
from the raw sago, or _lamuntah_, brought in from the mainland by the
natives, being the principal industry of the island and employing three
or four factories, in which no machinery is used. All the traders are
only agents of Singapore firms and are in a small way of business. There
is no European firm, or shop, in the island. Coal of good quality for
raising steam is plentiful, especially at the North end of the island,
and very sanguine expectations of the successful working of these coal
measures were for a long time entertained, but have hitherto not been
realised. The Eastern Archipelago Company, with an ambitious title but
too modest an exchequer, first attempted to open the mines soon after
the British occupation, but failed, and has been succeeded by three
others, all I believe Scotch, the last one stopping operations in 1878.
The cause of failure seems to have been the same in each
case--insufficient capital, local mismanagement, difficulty in obtaining
labour. In a country with a rainfall of perhaps over 120 inches a year,
water was naturally another difficulty in the deep workings, but this
might have been very easily overcome had the Companies been in a
position to purchase sufficiently powerful pumping engines.

There were three workable seams of coal, one of them, I think, twelve
feet in thickness; the quality of the coal, though inferior to Welsh,
was superior to Australian, and well reported on by the engineers of
many steamers which had tried it; the vessels of the China squadron and
the numerous steamers engaged in the Far East offered a ready market for
the coal.

In their effort to make a "show," successive managers have pretty nearly
exhausted the surface workings and so honeycombed the seams with their
different systems of developing their resources, that it would be,
perhaps, a difficult and expensive undertaking for even a substantial
company to make much of them now.[14]

It is needless to add that the failure to develop this one internal
resource of Labuan was a great blow to the Colony, and on the cessation
of the last company's operations the revenue immediately declined, a
large number of workmen--European, Chinese and Natives--being thrown out
of employment, necessitating the closing of the shops in which they
spent their wages. It was found that both Chinese and the Natives of
Borneo proved capital miners under European supervision. Notwithstanding
the ill-luck that has attended it, the little Colony has not been a
burden on the British tax-payer since the year 1860, but has managed to
collect a revenue--chiefly from opium, tobacco, spirits, pawnbroking and
fish "farms" and from land rents and land sales--sufficient to meet its
small expenditure, at present about £4,000 a year. There have been no
British troops quartered in this island since 1871, and the only armed
force is the Native Constabulary, numbering, I think, a dozen rank and
file. Very seldom are the inhabitants cheered by the welcome visit of a
British gunboat. Still, all the formality of a British Crown Colony is
kept up. The administrator is by his subjects styled "His Excellency"
and the Members of the Legislative Council, Native and Europeans, are
addressed as the "Honourable so and so." An Officer, as may be supposed,
has to play many parts. The present Treasurer, for instance, is an
ex-Lieutenant of Her Majesty's Navy, and is at the same time Harbour
Master, Postmaster, Coroner, Police Magistrate, likewise a Judge of the
Supreme Court, Superintendent of Convicts, Surveyor-General, and Clerk
to the Legislative Council, and occasionally has, I believe, to write
official letters of reprimand or encouragement from himself in one
capacity to himself in another.

The best thing about Labuan is, perhaps, the excellence of its fruit,
notably of its pumeloes, oranges and mangoes, for which the Colony is
indebted to the present Sir HUGH LOW, who was one of the first officials
under Sir JAMES BROOKE, and a man who left no stone unturned in his
efforts to promote the prosperity of the island. His name was known far
and wide in Northern Borneo and in the Sulu Archipelago. As an instance,
I was once proceeding up a river in the island of Basilan, to the North
of Sulu, with Captain C. E. BUCKLE, R.N., in two boats of H. M. S.
_Frolic_, when the natives, whom we could not see, opened fire on us
from the banks. I at once jumped up and shouted out that we were Mr.
Low's friends from Labuan, and in a very short time we were on friendly
terms with the natives, who conducted us to their village. They had
thought we might be Spaniards, and did not think it worth while to
enquire before tiring. The mention of the _Frolic_ reminds me that on
the termination of a somewhat lengthy cruise amongst the Sulu Islands,
then nominally undergoing blockade by Spanish cruisers, we were
returning to Labuan through the difficult and then only partially
surveyed Malawalli Channel, and after dinner we were congratulating one
another on having been so safely piloted through so many dangers, when
before the words were out of our mouths, we felt a shock and found
ourselves fast on an unmarked rock which has since had the honour of
bearing the name of our good little vessel.

Besides Mr. Low's fruit garden, the only other European attempt at
planting was made by my Cousin, Dr. TREACHER, Colonial Surgeon, who
purchased an outlying island and opened a coco-nut plantation. I regret
to say that in neither case, owing to the decline of the Colony, was the
enterprise of the pioneers adequately rewarded.

Labuan[15] at one time boasted a Colonial Chaplain and gave its name to
the Bishop's See; but in 1872 or 1873, the Church was "disestablished"
and the few European Officials who formed the congregation were unable
to support a Clergyman. There exists a pretty little wooden Church, and
the same indefatigable officer, whom I have described as filling most of
the Government appointments in the Colony, now acts as unpaid Chaplain,
having been licensed thereto by the Bishop of Singapore and Sarawak, and
reads the service and even preaches a sermon every Sunday to a
congregation which rarely numbers half a dozen.


[Footnote 13: My suggestion has taken shape more quickly than I
expected. In 1889 Labuan was put under the administration of the

[Footnote 14: Since the above was written, a fifth company--the Central
Borneo Company, Limited, of London--has taken in hand the Labuan coal
and, finding plenty of coal to work on without sinking a shaft,
confidently anticipate success. Their £1 shares recently went up to £4.]

[Footnote 15: The administration of this little Crown Colony has since
been entrusted to the British North Borneo Company, their present
Governor, Mr. C. V. CREAGH, having been gazetted Governor of Labuan.]


The mode of acquisition of British North Borneo has been referred to in
former pages; it was by cession for annual money payments to the Sultans
of Brunai and of Sulu, who had conflicting claims to be the paramount
power in the northern portion of Borneo. The actual fact was that
neither of them exercised any real government or authority over by far
the greater portion, the inhabitants of the coast on the various rivers
following any Brunai, Illanun, Bajau, or Sulu Chief who had sufficient
force of character to bring himself to the front. The pagan tribes of
the interior owned allegiance to neither Sultan, and were left to govern
themselves, the Muhammadan coast people considering them fair game for
plunder and oppression whenever opportunity occurred, and using all
their endeavours to prevent Chinese and other foreign traders from
reaching them, acting themselves as middlemen, buying (bartering) at
very cheap rates from the aborigines and selling for the best price they
could obtain to the foreigner.

I believe I am right in saying that the idea of forming a Company,
something after the manner of the East India Company, to take over and
govern North Borneo, originated in the following manner. In 1865 Mr.
MOSES, the unpaid Consul for the United Sates in Brunai, to whom
reference has been made before, acquired with his friends from the
Sultan of Brunai some concessions of territory with the right to govern
and collect revenues, their idea being to introduce Chinese and
establish a Colony. This they attempted to carry out on a small scale in
the Kimanis River, on the West Coast, but not having sufficient capital
the scheme collapsed, but the concession was retained. Mr. MOSES
subsequently lost his life at sea, and a Colonel TORREY became the chief
representative of the American syndicate. He was engaged in business in
China, where he met Baron VON OVERBECK, a merchant of Hongkong and
Austrian Consul-General, and interested him in the scheme. In 1875 the
Baron visited Borneo in company with the Colonel, interviewed the Sultan
of Brunai, and made enquiries as to the validity of the concessions,
with apparently satisfactory results, Mr. ALFRED DENT[16] was also a
China merchant well known in Shanghai, and he in turn was interested in
the idea by Baron OVERBECK. Thinking there might be something in the
scheme, he provided the required capital, chartered a steamer, the
_America_, and authorised Baron OVERBECK to proceed to Brunai to
endeavour, with Colonel TORREY'S assistance, to induce the Sultan and
his Ministers to transfer the American cessions to himself and the
Baron, or rather to cancel the previous ones and make out new ones in
their favour and that of their heirs, associates, successors and assigns
for so long as they should choose or desire to hold them. Baron VON
OVERBECK was accompanied by Colonel TORREY and a staff of three
Europeans, and, on settling some arrears due by the American Company,
succeeded in accomplishing the objects of his mission, after protracted
and tedious negotiations, and obtained a "chop" from the Sultan
nominating and appointing him supreme ruler, "with the title of Maharaja
of Sabah (North Borneo) and Raja of Gaya and Sandakan, with power of
life and death over the inhabitants, with all the absolute rights of
property vested in the Sultan over the soil of the country, and the
right to dispose of the same, as well as of the rights over the
productions of the country, whether mineral, vegetable, or animal, with
the rights of making laws, coining money, creating an army and navy,
levying customs rates on home and foreign trade and shipping, and other
dues and taxes on the inhabitants as to him might seem good or
expedient, together with all other powers and rights usually exercised
by and belonging to sovereign rulers, and which the Sultan thereby
delegated to him of his own free will; and the Sultan called upon all
foreign nations, with whom he had formed friendly treaties and
alliances, to acknowledge the said Maharaja as the Sultan himself in the
said territories and to respect his authority therein; and in the case
of the death or retirement from the said office of the said Maharaja,
then his duly appointed successor in the office of Supreme Ruler and
Governor-in-Chief of the Company's territories in Borneo should likewise
succeed to the office and title of Maharaja of Sabah and Raja of Gaya
and Sandakan, and all the powers above enumerated be vested in him." I
am quoting from the preamble to the Royal Charter. Some explanation of
the term "Sabah" as applied to the territory--a term which appears in
the Prayer Book version of the 72nd Psalm, verse 10, "The kings of
Arabia and Sabah shall bring gifts"--seems called for, but I regret to
say I have not been able to obtain a satisfactory one from the Brunai
people, who use it in connection only with a small portion of the West
Coast of Borneo, North of the Brunai river. Perhaps the following note,
which I take from Mr. W. E. MAXWELL'S "Manual of the Malay Language,"
may have some slight bearing on the point:--"Sawa, Jawa, Saba, Jaba,
Zaba, etc., has evidently in all times been the capital local name in
Indonesia. The whole archipelago was pressed into an island of that name
by the Hindus and Romans. Even in the time of MARCO POLO we have only a
Java Major and a Java Minor. The Bugis apply the name of Jawa, _jawaka_
(comp. the Polynesian _Sawaiki_, Ceramese _Sawai_) to the Moluccas. One
of the principal divisions of Battaland in Sumatra is called _Tanah_
Jawa. PTOLEMY has both Jaba and Saba."--"Logan, Journ. Ind. Arch., iv,
338." In the Brunai use of the term, there is always some idea of a
Northerly direction; for instance, I have heard a Brunai man who was
passing from the South to the Northern side of his river, say he was
going _Saba_. When the Company's Government was first inaugurated, the
territory was, in official documents, mentioned as Sabah, a name which
is still current amongst the natives, to whom the now officially
accepted designation of _North Borneo_ is meaningless and difficult of

Having settled with the Brunai authorities, Baron VON OVERBECK next
proceeded to Sulu, and found the Sultan driven out of his capital, Sugh
or Jolo, by the Spaniards, with whom he was still at war, and residing
at Maibun, in the principal island of the Sulu Archipelago. After brief
negotiations, the Sultan made to Baron VON OVERBECK and Mr. ALFRED DENT
a grant of his rights and powers over the territories and lands
tributary to him on the mainland of the island of Borneo, from the
Pandassan River on the North West Coast to the Sibuko River on the East,
and further invested the Baron, or his duly appointed successor in the
office of supreme ruler of the Company's territories in Borneo, with the
high sounding titles of Datu Bandahara and Raja of Sandakan.

On a company being formed to work the concessions, Baron VON OVERBECK
resigned these titles from the Brunai and Sulu Potentates and they have
not since been made use of, and the Baron himself terminated his
connection with the country.

The grant from the Sultan of Sulu bears date the 22nd January, 1878, and
on the 22nd July of the same year he signed a treaty, or act of
re-submission to Spain. The Spanish Government claimed that, by previous
treaties with Sulu, the suzerainty of Spain over Sulu and its
dependencies in Borneo had been recognised and that consequently the
grant to Mr. DENT was void. The British Government did not, however,
fall in with this view, and in the early part of 1879, being then Acting
Consul-General in Borneo, I was despatched to Sulu and to different
points in North Borneo to publish, on behalf of our Government, a
protest against the claim of Spain to any portion of the country. In
March, 1885, a protocol was signed by which, in return for the
recognition by England and Germany of Spanish sovereignty throughout the
Archipelago of Sulu, Spain renounced all claims of sovereignty over
territories on the Continent of Borneo which had belonged to the Sultan
of Sulu, including the islands of Balambangan, Banguey and Malawali, as
well as all those comprised within a zone of three maritime leagues from
the coast.

Holland also strenuously objected to the cessions and to their
recognition, on the ground that the general tenor of the Treaty of
London of 1824 shews that a mixed occupation by England and the
Netherlands of any island in the Indian Archipelago ought to be avoided.

It is impossible to discover anything in the treaty which bears out this
contention. Borneo itself is not mentioned by name in the document, and
the following clauses are the only ones regulating the future
establishment of new Settlements in the Eastern Seas by either
Power:--"Article 6. It is agreed that orders shall be given by the two
Governments to their Officers and Agents in the East not to form any new
Settlements on any of the islands in the Eastern Seas, without previous
authority from their respective Governments in Europe. Art. 12. His
Britannic Majesty, however, engages, that no British Establishment shall
be made on the Carimon islands or on the islands of Battam, Bintang,
Lingin, or on any of the other islands South of the Straits of
Singapore, nor any treaty concluded by British authority with the chiefs
of those islands." Without doubt, if Holland in 1824 had been desirous
of prohibiting any British Settlement in the island of Borneo, such
prohibition would have been expressed in this treaty. True, perhaps half
of this great island is situated South of the Straits of Singapore, but
the island cannot therefore be correctly said to lie to the South of the
Straits and, at any rate, such a business-like nation as the Dutch would
have noticed a weak point here and have included Borneo in the list with
Battam and the other islands enumerated. Such was the view taken by Mr.
GLADSTONE'S Cabinet, and Lord GRANVILLE informed the Dutch Minister in
1882 that the XIIth Article of the Treaty could not be taken to apply to
Borneo, and "that as a a matter of international right they would have
no ground to object even to the absolute annexation of North Borneo by
Great Britain," and, moreover, as pointed out by his Lordship, the
British had already a settlement in Borneo, namely the island of Labuan,
ceded by the Sultan of Brunai in 1845 and confirmed by him in the Treaty
of 1847. The case of Raja BROOKE in Sarawak was also practically that of
a British Settlement in Borneo.

Lord GRANVILLE closed the discussion by stating that the grant of the
Charter does not in any way imply the assumption of sovereign rights in
North Borneo, _i.e._, on the part of the British Government.

There the matter rested, but now that the Government is proposing[17] to
include British North Borneo, Brunai and Sarawak under a formal "British
Protectorate," the Netherlands Government is again raising objections,
which they must be perfectly aware are groundless. It will be noted that
the Dutch do not lay any claim to North Borneo themselves, having always
recognized it as pertaining, with the Sulu Archipelago, to the Spanish
Crown. It is only to the presence of the British Government in North
Borneo that any objection is raised. In a "Resolution" of the Minister
of State, Governor-General of Netherlands India, dated 28th February,
1846, occurs the following:--"The parts of Borneo on which the
Netherlands does not exercise any influence are:--

    _a._ The States of the Sultan of Brunai or Borneo Proper;

           *       *       *       *       *       *

    _b._ The State of the Sultan of the Sulu Islands, having for
    boundaries on the West, the River Kimanis, the North and
    North-East Coasts as far as 3° N.L., where it is bounded by the
    River Atas, forming the extreme frontier towards the North with
    the State of Berow dependant on the Netherlands.

    _c._ All the islands of the Northern Coasts of Borneo."

Knowing this, Mr. ALFRED DENT put the limit of his cession from Sulu at
the Sibuku River, the South bank of which is in N. Lat. 4° 5'; but
towards the end of 1879, that is, long after the date of the cession,
the Dutch hoisted their flag at Batu Tinagat in N. Lat. 4° 19', thereby
claiming the Sibuko and other rivers ceded by the Sultan of Sulu to the
British Company. The dispute is still under consideration by our Foreign
Office, but in September, 1883, in order to practically assert the
Company's claims, I, as their Governor, had a very pleasant trip in a
very small steam launch and steaming at full speed past two Dutch
gun-boats at anchor, landed at the South bank of the Sibuko, temporarily
hoisted the North Borneo flag, fired a _feu-de-joie_, blazed a tree, and
returning, exchanged visits with the Dutch gun-boats, and entertained
the Dutch Controlleur at dinner. Having carefully given the Commander of
one of the gun-boats the exact bearings of the blazed tree, he proceeded
in hot haste to the spot, and, I believe, exterminated the said tree.
The Dutch Government complained of our having violated Netherlands
territory, and matters then resumed their usual course, the Dutch
station at Batu Tinagat, or rather at the Tawas River, being maintained
unto this day.

As is hereafter explained, the cession of coast line from the Sultan of
Brunai was not a continuous one, there being breaks on the West Coast in
the case of a few rivers which were not included. The annual tribute to
be paid to the Sultan was fixed at $12,000, and to the Pangeran
Tumonggong $3,000--extravagantly large sums when it is considered that
His Highness' revenue per annum from the larger portion of the territory
ceded was _nil_. In March, 1881, through negotiations conducted by Mr.
A. H. EVERETT, these sums were reduced to more reasonable proportions,
namely, $5,000 in the case of the Sultan, and $2,500 in that of the

The intermediate rivers which were not included in the Sultan's cession
belonged to Chiefs of the blood royal, and the Sultan was unwilling to
order them to be ceded, but in 1883 Resident DAVIES procured the cession
from one of these Chiefs of the Pangalat River for an annual payment of
$300, and subsequently the Putalan River was acquired for $1,000 per
annum, and the Kawang River and the Mantanani Islands for lump sums of
$1,300 and $350 respectively. In 1884, after prolonged negotiations, I
was also enabled to obtain the cession of an important Province on the
West Coast, to the South of the original boundary, to which the name of
Dent Province has been given, and which includes the Padas and Kalias
Rivers, and in the same deed of cession were also included two rivers
which had been excepted in the first grant--the Tawaran and the
Bangawan. The annual tribute under this cession is $3,100. The principal
rivers within the Company's boundaries still unleased are the Kwala
Lama, Membakut, Inanam and Menkabong. For fiscal reasons, and for the
better prevention of the smuggling of arms and ammunition for sale to
head-hunting tribes, it is very desirable that the Government of these
remaining independent rivers should be acquired by the Company.

On the completion of the negotiations with the two Sultans, Baron VON
OVERBECK, who was shortly afterwards joined by Mr. DENT, hoisted his
flag--the house flag of Mr. DENT'S firm--at Sandakan, on the East Coast,
and at Tampassuk and Pappar on the West, leaving at each a European,
with a few so-called Police to represent the new Government, agents from
the Sultans of Sulu and Brunai accompanying him to notify to the people
that the supreme power had been transferred to Europeans. The common
people heard the announcement with their usual apathy, but the officer
left in charge had a difficult part to play with the headmen who, in the
absence of any strong central Government, had practically usurped the
functions of Government in many of the rivers. These Chiefs feared, and
with reason, that not only would their importance vanish, but that trade
with the inland tribes would be thrown open to all, and slave dealing be
put a stop to under the new regime. At Sandakan, the Sultan's former
Governor refused to recognise the changed position of affairs, but he
had a resolute man to deal with in Mr. W. B. PRYER, and before he could
do much harm, he lost his life by the capsizing of his prahu while on a
trading voyage.

At Tampassuk, Mr. PRETYMAN, the Resident, had a very uncomfortable post,
being in the midst of lawless, cattle-lifting and slave-dealing Bajaus
and Illanuns. He, with the able assistance of Mr. F. X. WITTI, an
ex-Naval officer of the Austrian Service, who subsequently lost his
life while exploring in the interior, and by balancing one tribe against
another, managed to retain his position without coming to blows, and, on
his relinquishing the service a few months afterwards, the arduous task
of representing the Government without the command of any force to back
up his authority developed on Mr. WITTI. In the case of the Pappar
River, the former Chief, Datu BAHAR, declined to relinquish his
position, and assumed a very defiant attitude. I was at that time in the
Labuan service, and I remember proceeding to Pappar in an English
man-of-war, in consequence of the disquieting rumours which had reached
us, and finding the Resident, Mr. A. H. EVERETT, on one side of the
small river with his house strongly blockaded and guns mounted in all
available positions, and the Datu on the other side of the stream,
immediately opposite to him, similarly armed to the teeth. But not a
shot was fired, and Datu BAHAR is now a peaceable subject of the

The most difficult problem, however, which these officers had to solve
was that of keeping order, or trying to do so, amongst a lawless people,
with whom for years past might had been right, and who considered
kidnapping and cattle-lifting the occupations of honourable and high
spirited gentlemen. That they effected what they did, that they kept the
new flag flying and prepared the way for the Government of the Company,
reflects the highest credit upon their pluck and diplomatic ingenuity,
for they had neither police nor steam launches, nor the prestige which
would have attached to them had they been representatives of the British
Government, and under the well known British flag. They commenced their
work with none of the _éclat_ which surrounded Sir JAMES BROOKE in
Sarawak, where he found the people in successful rebellion against the
Sultan of Brunai, and was himself recognised as an agent of the British
Government, so powerful that he could get the Queen's ships to attack
the head hunting pirates, killing such numbers of them that, as I have
said, the Head money claimed and awarded by the British Government
reached the sum of £20,000. On the other hand, it is but fair to add
that the fame of Sir JAMES' exploits and the action taken by Her
Majesty's vessels, on his advice, in North-West Borneo years before, had
inspired the natives with a feeling of respect for Englishmen which must
have been a powerful factor in favour of the newly appointed officers.
The native tribes, too, inhabiting North Borneo were more sub-divided,
less warlike, and less powerful than those of Sarawak.

The promoters of the scheme were fortunate in obtaining the services,
for the time being, as their chief representative in the East of Mr. W.
H. READ, C.M.G., an old friend of Sir JAMES BROOKE, and who, as a Member
of the Legislative Council of Singapore, and Consul-General for the
Netherlands, had acquired an intimate knowledge of the Malay character
and of the resources, capabilities and needs of Malayan countries.

On his return to England, Mr. DENT found that, owing to the opposition
of the Dutch and Spanish Governments, and to the time required for a
full consideration of the subject by Her Majesty's Ministers, there
would be a considerable delay before a Royal Charter could be issued,
meanwhile, the expenditure of the embryo Government in Borneo was not
inconsiderable, and it was determined to form a "Provisional
Association" to carry on till a Chartered Company could be formed.

Mr. DENT found an able supporter in Sir RUTHERFORD ALCOCK, K.C.B., who
energetically advocated the scheme from patriotic motives, recognising
the strategic and commercial advantages of the splendid harbours of
North Borneo and the probability of the country becoming in the near
future a not unimportant outlet for English commerce, now so heavily
weighted by prohibitive tariffs in Europe and America.

The British North Borneo Provisional Association Limited, was formed in
1881, with a capital of £300,000, the Directors being Sir RUTHERFORD
ALCOCK, Mr. A. DENT, Mr. R. B. MARTIN, Admiral MAYNE, and Mr. W. H.
READ. The Association acquired from the original lessees the grants and
commissions from the Sultans, with the object of disposing of these
territories, lands and property to a Company to be incorporated by Royal
Charter. This Charter passed the Great Seal on the 1st November, 1881,
and constituted and incorporated the gentlemen above-mentioned as "The
British North Borneo Company."

The Provisional Association was dissolved, and the Chartered Company
started on its career in May, 1882. The nominal capital was two million
pounds, in £20 shares, but the number of shares issued, including 4,500
fully paid ones representing £90,000 to the vendors, was only 33,030,
equal to £660,600, but on 23,449 of these shares only £12 have so far
been called up. The actual cash, therefore, which the Company has had to
work with and to carry on the development of the country from the point
at which the original concessionaires and the Provisional Association
had left it, is, including some £1,000 received for shares forfeited,
about £384,000, and they have a right of call for £187,592 more. The
Charter gave official recognition to the concessions from the Native
Princes, conferred extensive powers on the Company as a corporate body,
provided for the just government of the natives and for the gradual
abolition of slavery, and reserved to the Crown the right of
disapproving of the person selected by the Company to be their Governor
in the East, and of controlling the Company's dealings with any Foreign

The Charter also authorised the Company to use a distinctive flag,
indicating the British character of the undertaking, and the one
adopted, following the example of the English Colonies, is the British
flag, "defaced," as it is termed, with the Company's badge--a lion. I
have little doubt that this selection of the British flag, in lieu of
the one originally made use of, had a considerable effect in imbuing the
natives with an idea of the stability and permanence of the Company's

Mr. DENT'S house flag was unknown to them before and, on the West Coast,
many thought that the Company's presence in the country might be only a
brief one, like that of its predecessor, the American syndicate, and,
consequently, were afraid to tender their allegiance, since, on the
Company's withdrawal, they would be left to the tender mercies of their
former Chiefs. But the British flag was well-known to those of them who
were traders, and they had seen it flying for many a year in the Colony
of Labuan and on board the vessels which had punished their piratical
acts in former days.

Then, too, I was soon able to organise a Police Force mainly composed of
Sikhs, and was provided with a couple of steam-launches. Owing doubtless
to that and other causes, the refractory chiefs, soon after the
Company's formation, appeared to recognize that the game of opposition
to the new order of things was a hopeless one.


[Footnote 16: Now Sir ALFRED DENT, K.C.M.G.]

[Footnote 17: The Protectorate has since been proclaimed.]


The area of the territory ceded by the original grants was estimated at
20,000 square miles, but the additions which have been already mentioned
now bring it up to about 31,000 square miles, including adjacent
islands, so that it is somewhat larger than Ceylon, which is credited
with only 25,365 square miles. In range of latitude, in temperature and
in rainfall, North Borneo presents many points of resemblance to Ceylon,
and it was at first thought that it might be possible to attract to the
new country some of the surplus capital, energy and aptitude for
planting which had been the foundation of Ceylon's prosperity.

Even the expression "The New Ceylon" was employed as an alternative
designation for the country, and a description of it under that title
was published by the well known writer--Mr. JOSEPH HATTON.

These hopes have not so far been realized, but on the other hand North
Borneo is rapidly becoming a second Sumatra, Dutchmen, Germans and some
English having discovered the suitability of its soil and climate for
producing tobacco of a quality fully equal to the famed Deli leaf of
that island.

The coast line of the territory is about one thousand miles, and a
glance at the map will shew that it is furnished with capital harbours,
of which the principal are Gaya Bay on the West, Kudat in Marudu Bay on
the North, and Sandakan Harbour on the East. There are several others,
but at those enumerated the Company have opened their principal

Of the three mentioned, the more striking is that of Sandakan, which is
15 miles in length, with a width varying from 11 miles, at its entrance,
to 5 miles at the broadest part. It is here that the present capital is
situated--Sandakan, a town containing a population of not more than
5,000 people, of whom perhaps thirty are Europeans and a thousand
Chinese., For its age, Sandakan has suffered serious vicissitudes. It
was founded by Mr. PRYER, in 1878, well up the bay, but was soon
afterwards burnt to the ground. It was then transferred to its present
position, nearer the mouth of the harbour, but in May, 1886, the whole
of what was known as the "Old Town" was utterly consumed by fire; in
about a couple of hours there being nothing left of the _atap_-built
shops and houses but the charred piles and posts on which they had been
raised above the ground. When a fire has once laid hold of an atap town,
probably no exertions would much avail to check it; certainly our
Chinese held this opinion, and it was impossible to get them to move
hand or foot in assisting the Europeans and Police in their efforts to
confine its ravages to as limited an area as possible. They entertain
the idea that such futile efforts tend only to aggravate the evil
spirits and increase their fury. The Hindu shopkeepers were successful
in saving their quarter of the town by means of looking glasses, long
prayers and chants. It is now forbidden to any one to erect atap houses
in the town, except in one specified area to which such structures are
confined. Most of the present houses are of plank, with tile, or
corrugated iron roofs, and the majority of the shops are built over the
sea, on substantial wooden piles, some of the principal "streets,"
including that to which the ambitious name of "The Praya" has been
given, being similarly constructed on piles raised three or four feet
above high water mark. The reason is that, owing to the steep hills at
the back of the site, there is little available flat land for building
on, and, moreover, the pushing Chinese trader always likes to get his
shops as near as possible to the sea--the highway of the "prahus" which
bring him the products of the neighbouring rivers and islands. In time,
no doubt, the Sandakan hills will be used to reclaim more land from the
sea, and the town will cease to be an amphibious one. In the East there
are, from a sanitary point of view, some points of advantage in having a
tide-way passing under the houses. I should add that Sandakan is a
creation of the Company's and not a native town taken over by them. When
Mr. PRYER first hoisted his flag, there was only one solitary Chinaman
and no Europeans in the harbour, though at one time, during the Spanish
blockade of Sulu, a Singapore firm had established a trading station,
known as "Kampong German," using it as their head-quarters from which to
run the blockade of Sulu, which they successfully did for some
considerable time, to their no small gain and advantage. The success
attending the Germans' venture excited the emulation of the Chinese
traders of Labuan, who found their valuable Sulu trade cut off and,
through the good offices of the Government of the Colony, they were
enabled to charter the Sultan of Brunai's smart little yacht the
_Sultana_, and engaging the services as Captain of an ex-member of the
Labuan Legislative Council, they endeavoured to enact the roll of
blockade runner. After a trip or two, however, the _Sultana_ was taken
by the Spaniards, snugly at anchor in a Sulu harbour, the Captain and
Crew having time to make their escape. As she was not under the British
flag, the poor Sultan could obtain no redress, although the blockade was
not recognised as effective by the European Powers and English and
German vessels, similarly seized, had been restored to their owners. The
_Sultana_ proved a convenient despatch boat for the Spanish authorities.
The Sultan of Sulu to prove his friendship to the Labuan traders, had an
unfortunate man cut to pieces with krisses, on the charge of having
betrayed the vessel's position to the blockading cruisers.

Sandakan is one of the few places in Borneo which has been opened and
settled without much fever and sickness ensuing, and this was due
chiefly to the soil being poor and sandy and to there being an abundance
of good, fresh, spring water. It may be stated, as a general rule, that
the richer the soil the more deadly will be the fever the pioneers will
have to encounter when the primeval jungle is first felled and the sun's
rays admitted to the virgin soil.

Sandakan is the principal trading station in the Company's territory,
but with Hongkong only 1,200 miles distant in one direction, Manila 600
miles in another, and Singapore 1,000 miles in a third, North Borneo can
never become an emporium for the trade of the surrounding countries and
islands, and the Court of Directors must rest content with developing
their own local trade and pushing forward, by wise and encouraging
regulations, the planting interest, which seems to have already taken
firm root in the country and which will prove to be the foundation of
its future prosperity. Gold and other minerals, including coal, are
known to exist, but the mineralogical exploration of a country covered
with forest and destitute of roads is a work requiring time, and we are
not yet in a position to pronounce on North Borneo's expectations in
regard to its mineral wealth.

The gold on the Segama River, on the East coast, has been several times
reported on, and has been proved to exist in sufficient quantities to,
at any rate, well repay the labours of Chinese gold diggers, but the
district is difficult of access by water, and the Chinese are deferring
operations on a large scale until the Government has constructed a road
into the district. A European Company has obtained mineral concessions
on the river, but has not yet decided on its mode of operation, and
individual European diggers have tried their luck on the fields,
hitherto without meeting with much success, owing to heavy rains,
sickness and the difficulty of getting up stores. The Company will
probably find that Chinese diggers will not only stand the climate
better, but will be more easily governed, be satisfied with smaller
returns, and contribute as much or more than the Europeans to the
Government Treasury, by their consumption of opium, tobacco and other
excisable articles, by fees for gold licenses, and so forth.

Another source of natural wealth lies in the virgin forest with which
the greater portion of the country is clothed, down to the water's edge.
Many of the trees are valuable as timber, especially the _Billian_, or
Borneo iron-wood tree, which is impervious to the attacks of white-ants
ashore and almost equally so to those of the _teredo navalis_ afloat,
and is wonderfully enduring of exposure to the tropical sun and the
tropical downpours of rain. I do not remember having ever come across a
bit of _billian_ that showed signs of decay during a residence of
seventeen years in the East. The wood is very heavy and sinks in water,
so that, in order to be shipped, it has to be floated on rafts of soft
wood, of which there is an abundance of excellent quality, of which one
kind--the red _serayah_--is likely to come into demand by builders in
England. Other of the woods, such as _mirabau_, _penagah_ and _rengas_,
have good grain and take a fine polish, causing them to be suitable for
the manufacture of furniture. The large tree which yields the Camphor
_barus_ of commerce also affords good timber. It is a _Dryobalanops_,
and is not to be confused with the _Cinnamomum camphora_, from which the
ordinary "camphor" is obtained and the wood of which retains the camphor
smell and is largely used by the Chinese in the manufacture of boxes,
the scented wood keeping off ants and other insects which are a pest in
the Far East. The Borneo camphor tree is found only in Borneo and
Sumatra. The camphor which is collected for export, principally to China
and India, by the natives, is found in a solid state in the trunk, but
only in a small percentage of the trees, which are felled by the
collectors. The price of this camphor _barus_ as it is termed, is said
to be nearly a hundred times as much as that of the ordinary camphor,
and it is used by the Chinese and Indians principally for embalming
purposes. Billian and other woods enumerated are all found near the
coast and, generally, in convenient proximity to some stream, and so
easily available for export. Sandakan harbour has some thirteen rivers
and streams running into it, and, as the native population is very
small, the jungle has been scarcely touched, and no better locality
could, therefore, be desired by a timber merchant. Two European Timber
Companies are now doing a good business there, and the Chinese also take
their share of the trade. China affords a ready and large market for
Borneo timber, being itself almost forestless, and for many years past
it has received iron-wood from Sarawak. Borneo timber has also been
exported to the Straits Settlements, Australia and Mauritius, and I hear
that an order has been given for England. Iron wood is only found in
certain districts, notably in Sandakan Bay and on the East coast, being
rarely met with on the West coast. I have seen a private letter from an
officer in command of a British man-of-war who had some samples of it on
board which came in very usefully when certain bearings of the screw
shaft were giving out on a long voyage, and were found to last _three
times_ as long as lignum vitæ.

In process of time, as the country is opened up by roads and railways,
doubtless many other valuable kinds of timber trees will be brought to
light in the interior.

A notice of Borneo Forests would be incomplete without a reference to
the mangroves, which are such a prominent feature of the country as one
approaches it by sea, lining much of the coast and forming, for mile
after mile, the actual banks of most of the rivers. Its thick,
dark-green, never changing foliage helps to give the new comer that
general impression of dull monotony in tropical scenery, which, perhaps,
no one, except the professed botanist, whose trained and practical eye
never misses the smallest detail, ever quite shakes off.

The wood of the mangrove forms most excellent firewood, and is often
used by small steamers as an economical fuel in lieu of coal, and is
exported to China in the timber ships. The bark is also a separate
article of export, being used as a dye and for tanning, and is said to
contain nearly 42% of _tannin_.

The value of the general exports from the territory is increasing every
year, having been $145,444 in 1881 and $525,879 in 1888. With the
exception of tobacco and pepper, the list is almost entirely made up of
the natural raw products of the land and sea--such as bees-wax, camphor,
damar, gutta percha, the sap of a large forest tree destroyed in the
process of collection of gutta, India rubber, from a creeper likewise
destroyed by the collectors, rattans, well known to every school boy,
sago, timber, edible birds'-nests, seed-pearls, Mother-o'-pearl shells
in small quantities, dried fish and dried sharks'-fins, trepang
(sea-slug or bêche-de-mer), aga, or edible sea-weed, tobacco (both
Native and European grown), pepper, and occasionally elephants' tusks--a
list which shews the country to be a rich store house of natural
productions, and one which will be added to, as the land is brought
under cultivation with coffee, tea, sugar, cocoa, Manila hemp, pine
apple fibre, and other tropical products for which the soil, and
especially the rainfall, temperature and climatic conditions generally,
including entire freedom from typhoons and earthquakes, eminently adapt
it, and many of which have already been tried with success on an
experimental scale. As regards pepper, it has been previously shewn that
North Borneo was in former days an exporter of this spice. Sugar has
been grown by the natives for their own consumption for many years, as
also tapioca, rice and Indian corn. It is not my object to give a
detailed list of the productions of the country, and I would refer any
reader who is anxious to be further enlightened on these and kindred
topics to the excellent "Hand-book of British North Borneo," prepared
for the Colonial and Indian Exhibition of 1886, at which the new Colony
was represented, and published by Messrs. WILLIAM CLOWES & SONS.

The edible birds'-nests are already a source of considerable revenue to
the Government, who let out the collection of them for annual payments,
and also levy an export duty as they leave the country for China, which
is their only market. The nests are about the size of those of the
ordinary swallow and are formed by innumerable hosts of
swifts--_Collocalia fuciphaga_--entirely from a secretion of the glands
of the throat. These swifts build in caves, some of which are of very
large dimensions, and there are known to be some sixteen of them in
different parts of British North Borneo. With only one exception, the
caves occur in limestone rocks and, generally, at no great distance from
the sea, though some have been discovered in the interior, on the banks
of the Kinabatangan River. The exception above referred to is that of a
small cave on a sand-stone island at the entrance of Sandakan harbour.
The _Collocalia fuciphaga_ appears to be pretty well distributed over
the Malayan islands, but of these, Borneo and Java are the principal
sources of supply. Nests are also exported from the Andaman Islands, and
a revenue of £30,000 a year is said to be derived from the nests in the
small islands in the inland sea of Tab Sab, inhabited by natives of
Malay stock.

The finest caves, or rather series of caves, as yet known in the
Company's territories are those of Gomanton, a limestone hill situated
at the head of the Sapa Gaia, one of the streams running into Sandakan

These grand caves, which are one of the most interesting sights in the
country, are, in fine weather, easily accessible from the town of
Sandakan, by a water journey across the harbour and up the Sapa Gaia, of
about twelve miles, and by a road from the point of debarkation to the
entrance of the lower caves, about eight miles in length.

The height of the hill is estimated at 1,000 feet, and it contains two
distinct series of caves. The first series is on the "ground floor" and
is known as _Simud Hitam_, or "black entrance." The magnificent porch,
250 feet high and 100 broad, which gives admittance to this series, is
on a level with the river bank, and, on entering, you find yourself in a
spacious and lofty chamber well lighted from above by a large open
space, through which can be seen the entrance to the upper set of caves,
some 400 to 500 feet up the hill side. In this chamber is a large
deposit of guano, formed principally by the myriads of bats inhabiting
the caves in joint occupancy with the edible-nest-forming swifts.
Passing through this first chamber and turning a little to the right you
come to a porch leading into an extensive cave, which extends under the
upper series. This cave is filled half way up to its roof, with an
enormous deposit of guano, which has been estimated to be 40 to 50 feet
in depth. How far the cave extends has not been ascertained, as its
exploration, until some of the deposit is removed, would not be an easy
task, for the explorer would be compelled to walk along on the top of
the guano, which in some places is so soft that you sink in it almost up
to your waist. My friend Mr. C. A. BAMPFYLDE, in whose company I first
visited Gomanton, and who, as "Commissioner of Birds-nest Caves," drew
up a very interesting report on them, informed me that, though he had
found it impossible to explore right to the end, he had been a long way
in and was confident that the cave was of very large size. To reach the
upper series of caves, you leave Simud Hitam and clamber up the hill
side--a steep but not difficult climb, as the jagged limestone affords
sure footing. The entrance to this series, known as _Simud Putih_, or
"white entrance," is estimated to be at an elevation of 300 feet above
sea level, and the porch by which you enter them is about 30 feet high
by about 50 wide. The floor slopes steeply downwards and brings you into
an enormous cave, with smaller ones leading off it, all known to the
nest collectors by their different native names. You soon come to a
large black hole, which has never been explored, but which is said to
communicate with the large guano cave below, which has been already
described. Passing on, you enter a dome-like cave, the height of the
roof or ceiling of which has been estimated at 800 feet, but for the
accuracy of this guess I cannot vouch. The average height of the cave
before the domed portion is reached is supposed to be about 150 feet,
and Mr. BAMPFYLDE estimates the total length, from the entrance to the
furthest point, at a fifth of a mile. The Simud Putih series are badly
lighted, there being only a few "holes" in the roof of the dome, so that
torches or lights of some kind are required. There are large deposits of
guano in these caves also, which could be easily worked by lowering
quantities down into the Simud Hitam caves below, the floor of which, as
already stated, is on a level with the river bank, so that a tramway
could be laid right into them and the guano be carried down to the port
of shipment, at the mouth of the Sapa Gaia River. Samples of the guano
have been sent home, and have been analysed by Messrs. VOELCKER & CO. It
is rich in ammonia and nitrogen and has been valued at £5 to £7 a ton in
England. The bat-guano is said to be richer as a manure than that
derived from the swifts. To ascend to the top of Gomanton, one has to
emerge from the Simud Putih entrance and, by means of a ladder, reach an
overhanging ledge, whence a not very difficult climb brings one to the
cleared summit, from which a fine view of the surrounding country is
obtained, including Kina-balu, the sacred mountain of North Borneo. On
this summit will be found the holes already described as helping to
somewhat lighten the darkness of the dome-shaped cave, on the roof of
which we are in fact now standing. It is through these holes that the
natives lower themselves into the caves, by means of rattan ladders and,
in a most marvellous manner, gain a footing on the ceiling and construct
cane stages, by means of which they can reach any part of the roof and,
either by hand or by a suitable pole to the end of which is attached a
lighted candle, secure the wealth-giving luxury for the epicures of
China. There are two principal seasons for collecting the nests, and
care has to be taken that the collection is made punctually at the
proper time, before the eggs are all hatched, otherwise the nests become
dirty and fouled with feathers, &c., and discoloured and injured by the
damp, thereby losing much of their market value. Again, if the nests are
not collected for a season, the birds do not build many new ones in the
following season, but make use of the old ones, which thereby become
comparatively valueless.

There are, roughly speaking, three qualities of nests, sufficiently
described by their names--white, red, and black--the best quality of
each fetching, at Sandakan, per catty of 1-1/3 lbs., $16, $7 and 8 cents

The question as to the true cause of the difference in the nests has not
yet been satisfactorily solved. Some allege that the red and black nests
are simply white ones deteriorated by not having been collected in due
season. I myself incline to agree with the natives that the nests are
formed by different birds, for the fact that, in one set of caves, black
nests are always found together in one part, and white ones in another,
though both are collected with equal care and punctuality, seems almost
inexplicable under the first theory. It is true that the different kinds
of nests are not found in the same season, and it is just possible that
the red and black nests may be the second efforts at building made by
the swifts after the collectors have disturbed them by gathering their
first, white ones. In the inferior nests, feathers are found _mixed up_
with the gelatinous matter forming the walls, as though the glands were
unable to secrete a sufficient quantity of material, and the bird had to
eke it out with its own feathers. In the substance of the white nests no
feathers are found.

Then, again, it is sometimes found in the case of two distinct caves,
situated at no great distance apart, that the one yields almost entirely
white nests, and the other nearly all red, or black ones, though the
collections are made with equal regularity in each. The natives, as I
have said, seem to think that there are two kinds of birds, and the Hon.
R. ABERCROMBY reports that, when he visited Gomanton, they shewed him
eggs of different size and explained that one was laid by the white-nest
bird and the other by the black-nest builder. Sir HUGH LOW, in his work
on Sarawak, published in 1848, asserts that there are "two different and
quite dissimilar kinds of birds, though both are swallows" (he should
have said swifts), and that the one which produces the white nest is
larger and of more lively colours, with a white belly, and is found on
the sea-coast, while the other is smaller and darker and found more in
the interior. He admits, however, that though he had opportunities of
observing the former, he had not been able to procure a specimen.

The question is one which should be easily settled on the spot, and I
recommend it to the consideration of the authorities of the British
North Borneo Museum, which has been established at Sandakan.

The annual value of the nests of Gomanton, when properly collected, has
been reckoned at $23,000, but I consider this an excessive estimate. My
friend Mr. A. COOK, the Treasurer of the Territory, to whose zeal and
perseverance the Company owes much, has arranged with the Buludupih
tribe to collect these nests on payment to the Government of a royalty
of $7,500 per annum, which is in addition to the export duty at the rate
of 10% _ad valorem_ paid by the Chinese exporters.

The swifts and bats--the latter about the size of the ordinary English
bat--avail themselves of the shelter afforded by the caves without
incommoding one another, for, by a sort of Box and Cox arrangement, the
former occupy the caves during the night and the latter by day.

Standing at the Simud Putih entrance about 5 P. M., the visitor will
suddenly hear a whirring sound from below, which is caused by the
myriads of bats issuing, for their nocturnal banquet, from the Simud
Itam caves, through the wide open space that has been described. They
come out in a regularly ascending continuous spiral or corkscrew coil,
revolving from left to right in a very rapid and regular manner. When
the top of the spiral coil reaches a certain height, a colony of bats
breaks off, and continuing to revolve in a well kept ring from left to
right gradually ascends higher and higher, until all of a sudden the
whole detachment dashes off in the direction of the sea, towards the
mangrove swamps and the _nipas_. Sometimes these detached colonies
reverse the direction of their revolutions after leaving the main body,
and, instead of from left to right, revolve from right to left. Some of
them continue for a long time revolving in a circle, and attain a great
height before darting off in quest of food, while others make up their
minds more expeditiously, after a few revolutions. Amongst the bats,
three white ones were, on the occasion of my visit, very conspicuous,
and our followers styled them the Raja, his wife and child. Hawks and
sea-eagles are quickly attracted to the spot, but only hover on the
outskirts of the revolving coil, occasionally snapping up a prize. I
also noticed several hornbills, but they appeared to have been only
attracted by curiosity. Mr. BAMPFYLDE informed me that, on a previous
visit, he had seen a large green snake settled on an overhanging branch
near which the bats passed and that occasionally he managed to secure a
victim. I timed the bats and found that they took almost exactly fifty
minutes to come out of the caves, a thick stream of them issuing all
that time and at a great pace, and the reader can endeavour to form for
himself some idea of their vast numbers. They had all got out by ten
minutes to six in the evening, and at about six o'clock the swifts began
to come home to roost. They came in in detached, independent parties,
and I found it impossible to time them, as some of them kept very late
hours. I slept in the Simud Putih cave on this occasion, and found that
next morning the bats returned about 5 A.M., and that the swifts went
out an hour afterwards.

As shewing the mode of formation of these caves, I may add that I
noticed, imbedded in a boulder of rock in the upper caves, two pieces of
coral and several fossil marine shells, bivalves and others.

The noise made by the bats going out for their evening promenade
resembled a combination of that of the surf breaking on a distant shore
and of steam being gently blown off from a vessel which has just come to

There are other interesting series of caves, and one--that of Madai, in
Darvel Bay on the East coast--was visited by the late Lady BRASSEY and
Miss BRASSEY in April, 1887, when British North Borneo was honoured by a
visit of the celebrated yacht the _Sunbeam_, with Lord BRASSEY and his
family on board.

I accompanied the party on the trip to Madai, and shall not easily
forget the pluck and energy with which Lady BRASSEY, then in bad health,
surmounted the difficulties of the jungle track, and insisted upon
seeing all that was to be seen; or the gallant style in which Miss
BRASSEY unwearied after her long tramp through the forest, led the way
over the slippery boulders in the dark caves.

The Chinese ascribe great strengthening powers to the soup made of the
birds'-nests, which they boil down into a syrup with barley sugar, and
sip out of tea cups. The gelatinous looking material of which the
substance of the nests is composed is in itself almost flavourless.

It is also with the object of increasing their bodily powers that these
epicures consume the uninviting sea-slug or bêche-de-mer, and dried
sharks'-fins and cuttle fish.

To conclude my brief sketch of Sandakan Harbour and of the Capital, it
should be stated that, in addition to being within easy distance of
Hongkong, it lies but little off the usual route of vessels proceeding
from China to Australian ports, and can be reached by half a day's
deviation of the ordinary track.

Should, unfortunately, war arise with Russia, there is little doubt
their East Asiatic squadron would endeavour both to harass the
Australian trade and to damage, as much as possible, the coast towns, in
which case the advantages of Sandakan, midway between China and
Australia, as a base of operations for the British protecting fleet
would at once become manifest. It is somewhat unfortunate that a bar has
formed just outside the entrance of the harbour, with a depth of water
of four fathoms at low water, spring tides, so that ironclads of the
largest size would be denied admittance.

There are at present, no steamers sailing direct from Borneo to England,
and nearly all the commerce from British North Borneo ports is carried
by local steamers to that great emporium of the trade of the Malayan
countries, Singapore, distant from Sandakan a thousand miles, and it is
a curious fact, that though many of the exports are ultimately intended
for the China market, _e.g._, edible birds'-nests, the Chinese traders
find it pays them better to send their produce to Singapore in the first
instance, instead of direct to Hongkong. This is partly accounted for by
the further fact that, though the Government has spent considerable sum
in endeavouring to attract Chinamen from China, the large proportion of
our Chinese traders and of the Chinese population generally has come to
us _viâ_ Singapore, after as it were having undergone there an education
in the knowledge of Malayan affairs.

As further illustrating the commercial and strategical advantages of the
harbours of British North Borneo, it should be noted that the course
recommended by the Admiralty instructions for vessels proceeding to
China from the Straits, _viâ_ the Palawan passage, brings them within
ninety miles of the harbours of the West Coast.

As to postal matters, British North Borneo, though not in the Postal
Union, has entered into arrangements for the exchange of direct closed
mails with the English Post Office, London, with which latter also, as
well as with Singapore and India, a system of Parcel Post and of Post
Office Orders has been established.

The postal and inland revenue stamps, distinguished by the lion, which
has been adopted as the Company's badge, are well executed and in
considerable demand with stamp collectors, owing to their rarity.

The Government also issues its own copper coinage, one cent and
half-cent pieces, manufactured in Birmingham and of the same intrinsic
value as those of Hongkong and the Straits Settlements.

The revenue derived from its issue is an important item to the Colony's
finances, and considerable quantities have been put into circulation,
not only within the limits of the Company's territory, but also in
Brunai and in the British Colony of Labuan, where it has been proclaimed
a legal tender on the condition of the Company, in return for the profit
which they reap by its issue in the island, contributing to the
impoverished Colonial Treasury the yearly sum of $3,000.

Trade, however, is still, to a great extent, carried on by a system of
barter with the Natives. The primitive currency medium in vogue under
the native regime has been described in the Chapters on Brunai.

The silver currency is the Mexican and Spanish Dollar and the Japanese
Yen, supplemented by the small silver coinage of the Straits
Settlements. The Company has not yet minted any silver coinage, as the
profit thereon is small, but in the absence of a bank, the Treasury, for
the convenience of traders and planters, carries on banking business to
a certain extent, and issues bank notes of the values of $1, $5 and $25,
cash reserves equal to one-third of the value of the notes in
circulation being maintained.[18]

Sir ALFRED DENT is taking steps to form a Banking Company at Sandakan,
the establishment of which would materially assist in the development of
the resources of the territory.

British North Borneo is not in telegraphic communication with any part
of the world, except of course through Singapore, nor are there any
local telegraphs. The question, however, of supplementing the existing
cable between the Straits Settlements and China by another touching at
British territory in Borneo has more than once been mooted, and may yet
become a _fait accompli_. The Spanish Government appear to have decided
to unite Sulu by telegraphic communication with the rest of the world,
_viâ_ Manila, and this will bring Sandakan within 180 miles of the
telegraphic station.


[Footnote 18: Agencies of Singapore Banks have since been established at


In the eyes of the European planter, British North Borneo is chiefly
interesting as a field for the cultivation of tobacco, in rivalry to
Sumatra, and my readers may judge of the importance of this question
from a glance at the following figures, which shew the dividends
declared of late years by three of the principal Tobacco Planting
Companies in the latter island:--

                         Dividends paid by

              The Deli      The Tabak     The Amsterdam
   In       Maatschappi.   Maatschappi.      Deli Co.

  1882     65 per cent.    25 per cent.    10 per cent.

  1883    101    "         50    "         30    "

  1884     77    "         60    "         30    "

  1885    107    "        100    "         60    "

  1886    108    "         .....            .....

In Sumatra, under Dutch rule, tobacco culture can at present only be
carried on in certain districts, where the soil is suitable and where
the natives are not hostile, and, as most of the best land has been
taken up, and planters are beginning to feel harassed by the stringent
regulations and heavy taxation of the Dutch Government, both Dutch and
German planters are turning their attention to British North Borneo,
where they find the regulations easier, and the authorities most anxious
to welcome them, while, owing to the scanty population, there is plenty
of available land. It is but fair to say that the first experiment in
North Borneo was made by an English, or rather an Anglo-Chinese Company,
the China-Sabah Land Farming Company, who, on hurriedly selected land in
Sandakan and under the disadvantages which usually attend pioneers in a
new country, shipped a crop to England which was pronounced by experts
in 1886 to equal in quality the best Sumatra-grown leaf. Unfortunately,
this Company, which had wasted its resources on various experiments,
instead of confining itself to tobacco planting, was unable to continue
its operations, but a Dutch planter from Java, Count GELOES D'ELSLOO,
having carefully selected his land in Marudu Bay, obtained, in 1887, the
high average of $1 per lb. for his trial crop at Amsterdam, and, having
formed an influential Company in Europe, is energetically bringing a
large area under cultivation, and has informed me that he confidently
expects to rival Sumatra, not only in quality, but also in quantity of
leaf per acre, as some of his men have cut twelve pikuls per field,
whereas six pikuls per field is usually considered a good crop. The
question of "quantity" is a very important one, for quality without
quantity will never pay on a tobacco estate. Several Dutchmen have
followed Count GELOES' example, and two German Companies and one British
are now at work in the country. Altogether, fully 350,000 acres[19] of
land have been taken up for tobacco cultivation in British North Borneo
up to the present time.

In selecting land for this crop, climate, that is, temperature and
rainfall, has equally to be considered with richness of soil. For
example, the soil of Java is as rich, or richer than that of Sumatra,
but owing to its much smaller rainfall, the tobacco it produces commands
nothing like the prices fetched by that of the former. The seasons and
rainfall in Borneo are found to be very similar to those of Sumatra. The
average recorded annual rainfall at Sandakan for the last seven years is
given by Dr. WALKER, the Principal Medical Officer, as 124.34 inches,
the range being from 156.9 to 101.26 inches per annum.

Being so near the equator, roughly speaking between N. Latitudes 4 and
7, North Borneo has, unfortunately for the European residents whose lot
is cast there, nothing that can be called a winter, the temperature
remaining much about the same from year's end to year's end. It used to
seem to me that during the day the thermometer was generally about 83 or
85 in the shade, but, I believe, taking the year all round, night and
day, the mean temperature is 81, and the extremes recorded on the coast
line are 67.5 and 94.5. Dr. WALKER has not yet extended his stations to
the hills in the interior, but mentions it as probable that freezing
point is occasionally reached near the top of the Kinabalu Mountains,
which is 13,700 feet high; he adds that the lowest recorded temperature
he has found is 36.5, given by Sir SPENCER ST. JOHN in his "Life in the
Forests of the Far East." Snow has never been reported even on
Kinabalu, and I am informed that the Charles Louis Mountains in Dutch
New Guinea, are the only ones in tropical Asia where the limit of
perpetual snow is attained. I must stop to say a word in praise of
Kinabalu, "the Chinese Widow,"[20] the sacred mountain of North Borneo
whither the souls of the righteous Dusuns ascend after death. It can be
seen from both coasts, and appears to rear its isolated, solid bulk
almost straight out of the level country, so dwarfed are the
neighbouring hills by its height of 13,680 feet. The best view of it is
obtained, either at sunrise or at sunset, from the deck of a ship
proceeding along the West Coast, from which it is about twenty miles
inland. During the day time the Widow, as a rule, modestly veils her
features in the clouds.

The effect when its huge mass is lighted up at evening by the last rays
of the setting sun is truly magnificent.

On the spurs of Kinabalu and on the other lofty hills, of which there is
an abundance, no doubt, as the country becomes opened up by roads many
suitable sites for sanitoria will be discovered, and the day will come
when these hill sides, like those of Ceylon and Java, will be covered
with thriving plantations.

Failing winter, the Bornean has to be content with the the change
afforded by a dry and a wet season, the latter being looked upon as the
"winter," and prevailing during the month of November, December and
January. But though the two seasons are sufficiently well defined and to
be depended upon by planters, yet there is never a month during the dry
season when no rain falls, nor in the wet season are fine days at all
rare. The dryest months appear to be March and April, and in June there
generally occurs what Doctor WALKER terms an "intermediate" and
moderately wet period.

Tobacco is a crop which yields quick returns, for in about 110 to 120
days after the seed is sown the plant is ripe for cutting. The _modus
operandi_ is somewhat after this fashion. First select your land, virgin
soil covered with untouched jungle, situated at a distance from the
sea, so that no salt breezes may jeopardise the proper burning qualities
of the future crop, and as devoid as possible of hills. Then, a point of
primary importance which will be again referred to, engage your Chinese
coolies, who have to sign agreements for fixed periods, and to be
carefully watched afterwards, as it is the custom to give them cash
advances on signing, the repayment of which they frequently endeavour to
avoid by slipping away just before your vessel sails and probably
engaging themselves to another master.

Without the Chinese cooly, the tobacco planter is helpless, and if the
proper season is allowed to pass, a whole year may be lost. The Chinaman
is too expensive a machine to be employed on felling the forest, and for
this purpose, indeed, the Malay is more suitable and the work is
accordingly given him to do under contract. Simultaneously with the
felling, a track should be cut right through the heart of the estate by
the natives, to be afterwards ditched and drained and made passable for
carts by the Chinese coolies.

That as much as possible of the felled jungle should be burned up is so
important a matter and one that so greatly affects the individual
Chinese labourer, that it is not left to the Malays to do, but, on the
completion of the felling, the whole area which is to be planted is
divided out into "fields," of about one acre each, and each "field" is
assigned by lot to a Chinese cooly, whose duty it is to carefully burn
the timber and plant, tend and finally cut the tobacco on his own
division, for which he is remunerated in accordance with the quality and
quantity of the leaf he is able to bring into the drying sheds. Each
"field," having been cleared as carefully as may be of the felled
timber, is next thoroughly hoed up, and a small "nursery" prepared in
which the seeds provided by the manager are planted and protected from
rain and sun by palm leaf mats (_kajangs_) raised on sticks. In about a
week, the young plants appear, and the Chinese tenant, as I may call
him, has to carefully water them morning and evening. As the young
seedlings grow up, their enemy, the worms and grubs, find them out and
attack them in such numbers that at least once a day, sometimes oftener,
the anxious planter has to go through his nursery and pick them off,
otherwise in a short time he would have no tobacco to plant out. About
thirty days after the seed has been sown, the seedlings are old enough
to be planted out in the field, which has been all the time carefully
prepared for their reception. The first thing to be done is to make
holes in the soil, at distances of two feet one way and three feet the
other, the earth in them being loosened and broken up so that the tender
roots should meet with no obstacles to their growth. As the holes are
ready for them, the seedlings are taken from the nursery and planted
out, being protected from the sun's rays either by fern, or coarse
grass, or, in the best managed estates, by a piece of wood, like a
roofing shingle, inserted in the soil in such a way as to provide the
required shelter. The watering has to be continued till the plants have
struck root, when the protecting shelter is removed and the earth banked
up round them, care being taken to daily inspect them and remove the
worms which have followed them from the nursery. The next operation is
that of "topping" the plants, that is, of stopping their further growth
by nipping off the heads.

According to the richness of the soil and the general appearance of the
plants, this is ordered to be done by the European overseer after a
certain number of leaves have been produced. If the soil is poor,
perhaps only fourteen leaves will be allowed, while on the richest land
the plant can stand and properly ripen as many as twenty-four leaves.
The signs of ripening, which generally takes place in about three months
from the date of transplantation, are well known to the overseers and
are first shewn by a yellow tinge becoming apparent at the tips of the

The cooly thereupon cuts the plants down close to the ground and lightly
and carefully packs them into long baskets so as not to injure the
leaves, and carries them to the drying sheds. There they are examined by
the overseer of his division, who credits him with the value, based on
the quantity and quality of the crop he brings in, the price ranging
from $1 up to $8 per thousand trees. The plants are then tied in rows on
sticks, heads downwards, and hoisted up in tiers to dry in the shed.

After hanging for a fortnight, they are sufficiently dry and, being
lowered down, are stripped of their leaves, which are tied up into small
bundles, similar leaves being roughly sorted together.

The bundles of leaves are then taken to other sheds, where the very
important process of fermenting them is carried out. For this purpose,
they are put into orderly arranged heaps--small at first, but increased
in size till very little heat is given out, the heat being tested by a
thermometer, or even an ordinary piece of stick inserted into them. When
the fermentation is nearly completed and the leaves have attained a
fixed colour, they are carefully sorted according to colour, spottiness
and freedom from injury of any kind. The price realized in Europe is
greatly affected by the care with which the leaves have been fermented
and sorted. Spottiness is not always considered a defect, as it is
caused by the sun shining on the leaves when they have drops of rain on
them, and to this the best leaves are liable; but spotted leaves, broken
leaves and in short leaves having the same characteristics should be
carefully sorted together. After this sorting is completed as regards
class and quality, there is a further sorting in regard to length, and
the leaves are then tied together in bundles of thirty-five. These
bundles are put into large heaps and, when no more heating is apparent,
they are ready to be pressed under a strong screw press and sewn up in
bags which are carefully marked and shipped off to Europe--to Amsterdam
as a rule.

As the coolies' payment is by "results," it is their interest to take
the greatest care of their crops; but for any outside work they may be
called on to perform, and for their services as sorters, etc. in the
sheds, they are paid extra. During the whole time, also, they receive,
for "subsistence" money, $4 or $3 a month. At the end of the season
their accounts are made up, being debited with the amount of the
original advance, subsistence money and cost of implements, and credited
with the value of the tobacco brought in and any wages that may be due
for outside work. Each estate possesses a hospital, in which bad cases
are treated by a qualified practitioner, while in trifling cases the
European overseer dispenses drugs, quinine being that in most demand.
If, owing to sickness, or other cause, the cooly has required assistance
in his field, the cost thereof is deducted in his final account.

The men live in well constructed "barracks," erected by the owner of the
estate, and it is one of the duties of the Chinese "tindals," or
overseers acting under the Europeans to see that they are kept in a
cleanly, sanitary condition.

The European overseers are under the orders of the head manager, and an
estate is divided in such a way that each overseer shall have under his
direct control and be responsible for the proper cultivation of about
100 fields. He receives a fixed salary, but his interest in his division
is augmented by the fact that he will receive a commission on the value
of the crop it produces. His work is onerous and, during the season, he
has little time to himself, but should be here, there, and everywhere in
his division, seeing that the coolies come out to work at the stated
times, that no field is allowed to get in a backward state, and that
worms are carefully removed, and, as a large proportion of the men are
probably _sinkehs_, that is, new arrivals who have never been on a
tobacco estate before, he has, with the assistance of the tindals, to
instruct them in their work. When the crop is brought in, he has to
examine each cooly's contribution, carefully inspecting each leaf, and
keeping an account of the value and quantity of each.

Physical strength, intelligence and an innate desire of amassing
dollars, are three essential qualifications for a good tobacco cooly,
and, so far, they have only been found united in the Chinaman, the
European being out of the question as a field-labourer in the tropics.

The coolies are, as a rule, procured through Chinese cooly brokers in
Penang or Singapore, but as regards North Borneo, the charges for
commission, transport and the advances--many of which, owing to death,
sickness and desertion, are never repaid--have become so heavy as to be
almost prohibitive, and my energetic friend, Count GELOES, has set the
example of procuring his coolies direct from China, instead of by the
old fashioned, roundabout way of the extortionate labour-brokers of the
Straits Settlements. North Borneo, it will be remembered, is situated
midway between Hongkong and Singapore, and the Court of Directors of
the Governing Company could do nothing better calculated to ensure the
success of their public-spirited enterprise than to inaugurate regular,
direct steam communication between their territory and Hongkong. In the
first instance, this could only be effected by a Government subsidy or
guarantee, but it is probable that, in a short time, a cargo and
passenger traffic would grow up which would permit of the subsidy being
gradually withdrawn.

Many of the best men on a well managed estate will re-engage themselves
on the expiration of their term of agreement, receiving a fresh advance,
and some of them can be trusted to go back to China and engage their
clansmen for the estate.

In British North Borneo the general welfare of the indentured coolies is
looked after by Government Officials, who act under the provisions of a
law entitled "The Estate Coolies and Labourers Protection Proclamation,

Owing to the expense of procuring coolies and to the fact that every
operation of tobacco planting must be performed punctually at the proper
season of the year, and to the desirability of encouraging coolies to
re-engage themselves, it is manifestly the planters' interest to treat
his employés well, and to provide, so far as possible, for their health
and comfort on the estate, but, notwithstanding all the care that may be
taken, a considerable amount of sickness and many deaths must be allowed
for on tobacco estates, which, as a rule, are opened on virgin soil;
for, so long as there remains any untouched land on his estate, the
planter rarely makes use of land off which a crop has been taken.

In North Borneo the jungle is generally felled towards the end of the
wet season, and planting commences in April or May. The Native Dusun,
Sulu and Brunai labour is available for jungle-felling and
house-building, and _nibong_ palms for posts and _nipa_ palms for
thatch, walls and _kajangs_ exist in abundance.

Writing to the Court of Directors in 1884 I said:--"The experiment in
the Suanlambah conclusively proves so far that this country will do for
tobacco. * * * There seems every reason to conclude that it will do as
well here as in Sumatra. When this fact becomes known, I presume there
will be quite a small rush to the country, as the Dutch Government, I
hear, is not popular in Sumatra, and land available for tobacco there
is becoming scarcer."

My anticipations have been verified, and the rush is already taking

The localities at present in favour with tobacco planters are Marudu Bay
and Banguey Island in the North, Labuk Bay and Darvel Bay in the
neighbourhood of the Silam Station, and the Kinabatangan River on the

The firstcomers obtained their land on very easy terms, some of them at
30 cents an acre, but the Court has now issued an order that in future
no planting land is to be disposed of for a less sum than $1[21] per
acre, free of quit-rent and on a lease for 999 years, with clauses
providing that a certain proportion be brought under cultivation.

At present no export duty is levied on tobacco shipped from North
Borneo, and the Company has engaged that no such duty shall be imposed
before the 1st January, 1892, after which date it will be optional with
them to levy an export royalty at the rate of one dollar cent, or a
halfpenny, per lb., which rate, they promise, shall not be exceeded
during the succeeding twenty years.

The tobacco cultivated in Sumatra and British North Borneo is used
chiefly for wrappers for cigars, for which purpose a very fine, thin,
elastic leaf is required and one that has a good colour and will burn
well and evenly, with a fine white ash. This quality of leaf commands a
much higher price than ordinary kinds, and, as stated, Count
GELOES'trial crop, from the Ranan Estate in Marudu Bay, averaged 1.83
guilders, or about $1 (3/2) per lb. It is said that 2 lbs. or 2-1/2 lbs.
weight of Bornean tobacco will cover 1,000 cigars.

Tobacco is not a new culture in Borneo, as some of the hill natives on
the West Coast of North Borneo have grown it in a rough and ready way
for years past, supplying the population of Brunai and surrounding
districts with a sun-dried article, which used to be preferred to that
produced in Java. The Malay name for tobacco is _tambako_, a corruption
of the Spanish and Portuguese term, but the Brunai people also know it
as _sigup_.

It was probably introduced into Malay countries by the Portuguese, who
conquered Malacca in 1511, and by the Spanish, who settled in the
Philippines in 1565. Its use has become universal with men, women and
children, of all tribes and of all ranks. The native mode of using
tobacco has been referred to in my description of Brunai.

Fibre-yielding plants are also now attracting attention in North Borneo,
especially the Manila hemp (_Musa textilis_) a species of banana, and
pine-apples, both of which grow freely. The British Borneo Trading and
Planting Company have acquired the patent for Borneo of DEATH'S
fibre-cleaning machines, and are experimenting with these products on a
considerable scale and, apparently, with good prospects of success.[22]
For a long time past, beautiful cloths have been manufactured of
pine-apple fibre in the Philippines, and as it is said that orders have
been received from France for Borneo pine-apple fibre, we shall perhaps
soon see it used in England under the name of French _silk_.

In the Government Experimental Garden at Silam, in Darvel Bay, cocoa,
cinnamon and Liberian coffee have been found to do remarkably well.
Sappan-wood and _kapok_ or cotton flock also grow freely.


[Footnote 19: Governor CREAGH tells me 600,000 acres have now been
taken up.]

[Footnote 20: For the native derivation of this appellation see page

[Footnote 21: Raised in 1890 to $6 an acre.]

[Footnote 22: The anticipated success has not been achieved as yet.]


Many people have a very erroneous idea of the objects and intentions of
the British North Borneo Company. Some, with a dim recollection of
untold wealth having been extracted from the natives of India in the
early days of the Honourable East India Company, conceive that the
Company can have no other object than that of fleecing our natives in
order to pay dividends; but the old saying, that it is a difficult
matter to steal a Highlander's pantaloons, is applicable to North
Borneo, for only a magician could extract anything much worth having in
the shape of loot from the easy going natives of the country, who, in a
far more practical sense than the Christians of Europe, are ready to say
"sufficient for the day is the evil thereof," and who do not look
forward and provide for the future, or heap up riches to leave to their

Some years ago, a correspondent of an English paper displayed his
ignorance on the matter by maintaining that the Company coerced the
natives and forced them to buy Manchester goods at extortionate prices.
An Oxford Don, when I first received my appointment as Governor,
imagined that I was going out as a sort of slave-driver, to compel the
poor natives to work, without wages, on the Company's plantations. But,
as a matter of fact, though entitled to do so by the Royal Charter, the
Company has elected to engage neither in trade nor in planting, deeming
that their desire to attract capital and population to their territory
will be best advanced by their leaving the field entirely open to
others, for otherwise there would always have been a suspicion that
rival traders and planters were handicapped in the race with a Company
which had the making and the administration of laws and the imposition
of taxation in its hands.

It will be asked, then, if the Company do not make a profit out of
trading, or planting, or mining, what could have induced them to
undertake the Government of a tropical country, some 10,000 miles or
more distant from London, for Englishmen, as a rule, do not invest
hundreds of thousands of pounds with the philanthropic desire only of
benefitting an Eastern race?

The answer to this question is not very plainly put in the Company's
prospectus, which states that its object "is the carrying on of the work
begun by the Provisional Association" (said in the previous paragraphs
of the prospectus to have been the successful accomplishment of the
_completion_ of the pioneer work) "and the further improvement and full
utilization of the vast natural resources of the country, by the
introduction of new capital and labour, which they intend shall be
stimulated, aided and protected by a just, humane and enlightened
Government. The benefits likely to flow from the accomplishment of this
object, in the opening up of new fields of tropical agriculture, new
channels of enterprise, and new markets for the world's manufactures,
are great and incontestable." I quite agree with the framer of the
prospectus that these benefits are great and incontestable, but then
they would be benefits conferred on the world at large at the expense of
the shareholders of the Company, and I presume that the source from
which the shareholders are to be recouped is the surplus revenues which
a wisely administered Government would ensure, by judiciously fostering
colonisation, principally by Chinese, by the sale of the vast acreages
of "waste" or Government lands, by leasing the right to work the
valuable timber forests and such minerals as may be found to exist in
workable quantities, by customs duties and the "farming out" of the
exclusive right to sell opium, spirits, tobacco, etc., and by other
methods of raising revenue in vogue in the Eastern Colonies of the
Crown. In fact, the sum invested by the shareholders is to be considered
in the light of a loan to the Colony--its public debt--to be repaid with
interest as the resources of the country are developed. Without
encroaching on land worked, or owned by the natives, the Company has a
large area of unoccupied land which it can dispose of for the highest
price obtainable. That this must be the case is evident from a
comparison with the Island of Ceylon, where Government land sales are
still held. The area of North Borneo, it has been seen, is larger than
that of Ceylon, but its population is only about 160,000, while that of
Ceylon is returned as 2,825,000; furthermore, notwithstanding this
comparatively large population, it is said that the land under
cultivation in Ceylon forms only about one-fifth of its total area. From
what I have said of the prospects of tobacco-planting in British North
Borneo, it will be understood that land is being rapidly taken up, and
the Company will soon be in a position to increase its selling price.
Town and station lands are sold under different conditions to that for
planting purposes, and are restricted as a rule to lots of the size of
66 feet by 33 feet. The lease is for 999 years, but there is an annual
quit-rent at the rate of $6 per lot, which is redeemable at fifteen
years' purchase. At Sandakan, lots of this size have at auction realized
a premium of $350. In all cases, coal, minerals, precious stones, edible
nests and guano are reserved to the Government, and, in order to
protect the native proprietors, it is provided that any foreigner
desirous of purchasing land from a native must do so through the

Titles and mutations of titles to land are carefully registered and
recorded in the Land Office, under the provisions of the Hongkong
Registration of Documents Ordinance, which has been adopted in the

The local Government is administered by a Governor, selected by the
Court of Directors subject to the approval of the Secretary of State for
the Colonies. He is empowered to enact laws, which require confirmation
by the Court, and is assisted in his executive functions by a Government
Secretary, Residents, Assistant Residents, a Treasurer-General, a
Commissioner of Lands, a Superintendent of Public Works, Commandant,
Postmaster-General and other Heads of Departments usually to be found in
Crown Colonies, and the British Colonial Regulations are adhered to as
closely as circumstances admit. The title of Resident is borrowed from
the Dutch Colonies, and the duties of the post are analogous to those of
the Resident Councillors of Penang or Malacca, under the Governor of
Singapore, or of the Government Agents in Ceylon. The Governor can also
call to assist him in his deliberations a Council of Advice, composed of
some of the Heads of Departments and of natives of position nominated to
seats therein.

The laws are in the form of "Proclamations" issued by the Governor under
the seal of the Territory. Most of the laws are adaptations, in whole or
in part, of Ordinances enacted in Eastern Colonies, such as the Straits
Settlements, Hongkong, Labuan and Fiji.

The Indian Penal Code, the Indian Codes of Civil and Criminal Procedure
and the Indian Evidence and Contract Acts have been adopted in their
entirety, "so far as the same shall be applicable to the circumstances
of this Territory."

The Proclamation making these and other Acts the law in North Borneo was
the first formal one issued, and bears date the 23rd December, 1881.

The law relating to the protection of estate coolies and labourers has
been already referred to.

The question of domestic slavery was one of the first with which the
Company had to grapple, the Royal Charter having ordained that "the
Company shall to the best of its power discourage and, as far as may be
practicable, abolish by degrees, any system of domestic servitude
existing among the tribes of the Coast or interior of Borneo; and no
foreigners whether European, Chinese or other, shall be allowed to own
slaves of any kind in the Company's territories." Slavery and kidnapping
were rampant in North Borneo under native regime and were one of the
chief obstacles to the unanimous acceptance of the Company's rule by the
Chiefs. At first the Residents and other officers confined their efforts
to prohibiting the importation of slaves for sale, and in assisting
slaves who were ill-treated to purchase their liberty. In 1883, a
Proclamation was issued which will have the effect of gradually
abolishing the system, as required by the Charter. Its chief provisions
are as follows:--No foreigners are allowed to hold slaves, and no slaves
can be imported for sale, nor can the natives buy slaves in a foreign
country and introduce them into Borneo _as slaves_, even should there be
no intention of selling them as such. Slaves taking refuge in the
country from abroad will not be surrendered, but slaves belonging to
natives of the country will be given up to their owners unless they can
prove ill-treatment, or that they have been brought into the territory
subsequently to the 1st November, 1883, and it is optional for any slave
to purchase his or her freedom by payment of a sum, the amount of which
is to be fixed, from time to time, by the Government.

A woman also becomes free if she can prove that she has cohabited with
her master, or with any person other than her husband, with the
connivance of her master or mistress; and finally "all children born of
slave parents after the first day of November, 1883, and who would by
ancient custom be deemed to be slaves, are hereby proclaimed to be free,
and any person treating or attempting to treat any such children as
slaves shall be guilty of an offence under this Proclamation." The
punishment for offences against the provisions of this Proclamation
extends to imprisonment for ten years and to a fine up to five thousand

The late Mr. WITTI, one of the first officers of the Association, at my
request, drew up, in 1881, an interesting report on the system of
Slavery in force in the Tampassuk District, on the West Coast, of which
the following is a brief summary. Slaves in this district are divided
into two classes--those who are slaves in a strict and rigorous sense,
and those whose servitude is of a light description. The latter are
known as _anak mas_, and are the children of a slave mother by a free
man other than her master. If a female, she is the slave or _anak mas_
of her mother's master, but cannot be sold by him; if a boy, he is
practically free, cannot be sold and, if he does not care to stay with
his master, can move about and earn his own living, not sharing his
earnings with his master, as is the case in some other districts. In
case of actual need, however, his master can call upon him for his

If an _anak mas_ girl marries a freeman, she at once becomes a free
woman, but a _brihan_, or marriage gift, of from two to two and a half
pikuls of brass gun--valued at $20 to $25 a pikul is payable by the
bridegroom to the master.

If she marry a slave, she remains an _anak mas_, but such cases are very
rare and only take place when the husband is in a condition to pay a
suitable _brihan_ to the owner.

If an ordinary slave woman becomes _enceinte_ by her owner, she and her
offspring are henceforth free and, she may remain as one of her late
master's wives. But the jealousy of the inmates of the harem often
causes abortion to be procured.

The slaves, as a rule, have quite an easy time of it, living with and,
as their masters, sharing the food of the family and being supplied with
tobacco, betel-nut and other native luxuries. There is no difference
between them and free men in the matter of dress, and in the arms which
all carry, and the mere fact that they are allowed to wear arms is
pretty conclusive evidence of their not being bullied or oppressed.

They assist in domestic duties and in the operations of harvest and
trading and so forth, but there is no such institution as a slave-gang,
working under task masters, a picture which is generally present to the
Englishman's mind when he hears of the existence of slavery. The slave
gang was an institution of the white slave-owner. Slave couples,
provided they support themselves, are allowed to set up house and
cultivate a patch of land.

For such minor offences as laziness and attempting to escape, the master
can punish his slaves with strokes of the rattan, but if an owner
receives grave provocation and kills his slave, the matter will probably
not be taken notice of by the elders of the village.

An incorrigible slave is sometimes punished by being sold out of the

If a slave is badly treated and insufficiently provided with food, his
offence in endeavouring to escape is generally condoned by public
opinion. If a slave is, without sufficient cause, maltreated by a
freeman, his master can demand compensation from the aggressor. Slaves
of one master can, with their owner's consent, marry, and no _brihan_
is demanded, but if they belong to different masters, the woman's
master is entitled to a _brihan_ of one pikul, equal to $20 or $25.
They continue to be the slaves of their respective masters, but are
allowed to live together, and in case of a subsequent separation they
return to the houses of their masters. Should a freeman, other than her
master, wish to marry a slave, he practically buys her from her owner
with a _brihan_ of $60 or $75.

Sometimes a favourite slave is raised to a position intermediate between
that of an ordinary slave and an _anak mas_, and is regarded as a
brother, or sister, father, mother, or child; but if he or she attempt
to escape, a reversion to the condition of an ordinary slave is the
result. Occasionally, slaves are given their freedom in fulfilment of a
vow to that effect made by the master in circumstances of extreme
danger, experienced in company with the slave.

A slave once declared free can never be claimed again by his former

Debts contracted by a slave, either in his own name, or in that of his
master, are not recoverable.

By their own extra work, after performing their service to their owners,
slaves can acquire private property and even themselves purchase and own

Infidel slaves, of both sexes, are compulsorily converted to
Muhammadanism and circumcized and, even though they should recover their
freedom, they seldom relapse.

There are, or rather were, a large number of debt slaves in North
Borneo. For a debt of three pikuls--$60 to $75--a man might be enslaved
if his friends could not raise the requisite sum, and he would continue
to be a slave until the debt was paid, but, as a most usurious interest
was charged, it was almost always a hopeless task to attempt it.

Sometimes an inveterate gambler would sell himself to pay off his debts
of honour, keeping the balance if any.

The natives, regardless of the precepts of the Koran, would purchase any
slaves that were offered for sale, whether infidel or Muhammadan. The
importers were usually the Illanun and Sulu kidnappers, who would bring
in slaves of all tribes--Bajaus, Illanuns, Sulus, Brunais, Manilamen,
natives of Palawan and natives of the interior of Magindanau--all was
fish that came into their net. The selling price was as follows:--A boy,
about 2 pikuls, a man 3 pikuls. A girl, 3 to 4 pikuls, a young woman, 3
to 5 pikuls. A person past middle age about 1-1/2 pikuls. A young
couple, 7 to 8 pikuls, an old couple, about 5 pikuls. The pikul was then
equivalent to $20 or $25. Mr. WITTI further stated that in Tampassuk the
proportion of free men to slaves was only one in three, and in Marudu
Bay only one in five. In Tampassuk there were more female than male

Mr. A. H. EVERETT reported that, in his district of Pappar-Kimanis,
there was no slave _trade_, and that the condition of the domestic
slaves was not one of hardship.

Mr. W. B. PRYER, speaking for the East Coast, informed me that there
were only a few slaves in the interior, mostly Sulus who had been
kidnapped and sold up the rivers. Among the Sulus of the coast, the
relation was rather that of follower and lord than of slave and master.
When he first settled at Sandakan, he could not get men to work for him
for wages, they deemed it _degrading_ to do so, but they said they
would work for him if he would _buy_ them! Sulu, under Spanish
influence, and Bulungan, in Dutch Borneo, were the chief slave markets,
but the Spanish and Dutch are gradually suppressing this traffic.

There was a colony of Illanuns and Balinini settled at Tunku and Teribas
on the East Coast, who did a considerable business in kidnapping, but in
1879 Commander E. EDWARDS, in H. M. S. _Kestrel_, attacked and burnt
their village, capturing and burning several piratical boats and prahus.

Slavery, though not yet extinct in Borneo, has received a severe check
in British North Borneo and in Sarawak, and is rapidly dying out in both
countries; in fact it is a losing business to be a slave-owner now.

Apart from the institution of slavery, which is sanctioned by the
Muhammadan religion, the religious customs and laws of the various
tribes "especially with respect to the holding, possession, transfer and
disposition of lands and goods, and testate or intestate succession
thereto, and marriage, divorce and legitimacy, and the rights of
property and personal rights" are carefully regarded by the Company's
Government, as in duty bound, according to the terms of Articles 8 and 9
of the Royal Charter. The services of native headmen are utilised as
much as possible, and Courts composed of Native Magistrates have been
established, but at the same time efforts are made to carry the people
with the Government in ameliorating and advancing their social position,
and thus involves an amendment of some of the old customs and laws.

Moreover, customs which are altogether repugnant to modern ideas are
checked or prohibited by the new Government; as, for example, the
time-honoured custom of a tribe periodically balancing the account of
the number of heads taken or lost by it from or to another tribe, an
audit which, it is strange to say, almost invariably results in the
discovery on the part of the stronger tribe that they are on the wrong
side of the account and have a balance to get from the others. These
hitherto interminable feuds, though not altogether put a stop to in the
interior, have been in many districts effectually brought to an end,
Government officers having been asked by the natives themselves to
undertake the examination of the accounts and the tribe who was found
to be on the debtor side paying, not human heads, but compensation in
goods at a fixed rate per head due. Another custom which the Company
found it impossible to recognize was that of _summungap_, which was, in
reality, nothing but a form of human sacrifice, the victim being a slave
bought for the purpose, and the object being to send a message to a
deceased relative. With this object in view, the slave used to be bound
and wrapped in cloth, when the relatives would dance round him and each
thrust a spear a short way into his body, repeating, as he did so, the
message which he wished conveyed. This operation was performed till the
slave succumbed.

The Muhammadan practice of cutting off the hair of a woman convicted of
adultery, or of men flogging her with a rattan, and that of cutting off
the hand of a thief, have also not received the recognition of the
Company's Government.

It has been shewn that the native population of North Borneo is very
small, only about five to the square mile, and as the country is fertile
and well-watered and possesses, for the tropics, a healthy climate,
there must be some exceptional cause for the scantiness of the
population. This is to be found chiefly in the absence, already referred
to, of any strong central Government in former days, and to the
consequent presence of all forms of lawlessness, piracy, slave-trading,
kidnapping and head-hunting.

In more recent years, too, cholera and small-pox have made frightful
ravages amongst the natives, almost annihilating some of the tribes, for
the people knew of no remedies and, on the approach of the scourge,
deserted their homes and their sick and fled to the jungle, where
exposure and privation rendered them more than ever liable to the
disease. Since the Company's advent, efforts are being successfully made
to introduce vaccination, in which most of the people now have

This fact of a scanty native population has, in some ways, rendered the
introduction of the Company's Government a less arduous undertaking than
it might otherwise have proved, and has been a fortunate circumstance
for the shareholders, who have the more unowned and virgin land to
dispose of. In British North Borneo, luckily for the Company, there is
not, as there is in Sarawak, any one large, powerful tribe, whose
presence might have been a source of trouble, or even of danger to the
young Government, but the aborigines are split up into a number of petty
tribes, speaking very distinct dialects and, generally, at enmity
amongst themselves, so that a general coalition of the bad elements
amongst them is impossible.

The institution and amusement of head-hunting appears never to have been
taken up and followed with so much energy and zeal in North Borneo as
among the Dyaks of Sarawak. I do not think that it was as a rule deemed
absolutely essential with any of our tribes that a young man should have
taken at least a head or two before he could venture to aspire to the
hand of the maiden who had led captive his heart. The heads of slain
enemies were originally taken by the conquerors as a substantial proof
and trophy of their successful prowess, which could not be gainsaid, and
it came, in time, to be considered the proper thing to be able to boast
of the possession of a large number of these ghastly tokens; and so an
ambitious youth, in his desire for applause, would not be particularly
careful from whom, or in what manner he obtained a head, and the victim
might be, not only a person with whom he had no quarrel, but even a
member of a friendly tribe, and the mode of acquisition might be, not by
a fair stand-up fight, a test of skill and courage, but by treachery and
ambush. Nor did it make very much difference whether the head obtained
was that of a man, a woman or a child, and in their petty wars it was
even conceived to be an honourable distinction to bring in the heads of
women and children, the reasoning being that the men of the attacked
tribe must have fought their best to defend their wives and children.

The following incident, which occurred some years ago at the Colony of
Labuan, serves to shew how immaterial it was whether a friend, or foe,
or utter stranger was the victim. A Murut chief of the Trusan, a river
on the mainland over against Labuan, was desirous of obtaining some
fresh heads on the occasion of a marriage feast, and put to sea to a
district inhabited by a hostile tribe. Meeting with adverse winds, his
canoes were blown over to the British Colony; the Muruts landed, held
apparently friendly intercourse with some of the Kadaian (Muhammadan)
population and, after a visit of two or three days, made preparations to
sail; but meeting a Kadaian returning to his home alone, they shot him
and went off with his head--though the man was an entire stranger to
them, and they had no quarrel with any of his tribe.

With the assistance of the Brunai authorities, the chief and several of
his accomplices were subsequently secured and sent for trial to Labuan.
The chief died in prison, while awaiting trial, but one or two of his
associates paid the penalty of their wanton crime.

A short time afterwards, Mr. COOK and I visited the Lawas River for
sport, and took up our abode in a Murut long house, where, I remember, a
large basket of skulls was placed as an ornament at the head of my
sleeping place. One night, when all our men, with the exception of my
Chinese servant, were away in the jungle, trying to trap the then newly
discovered "Bulwer pheasant," some Muruts from the Trusan came over and
informed our hosts of the fate of their chief. On the receipt of this
intelligence, all the men of our house left it and repaired to one
adjoining, where a great "drink" was held, while the women indulged in a
loud, low, monotonous, heart-breaking wail, which they kept up for
several hours. Mr. COOK and myself agreed that things looked almost as
bad for us as they well could, and when, towards morning, the men
returned to our house, my Chinese boy clung to me in terror and--nothing
happened! But certainly I do not think I have ever passed such an
uncomfortable period of suspense.

Writing to the Court of Directors of the East India Company a hundred
and thirteen years ago, Mr. YESSE, who concluded the pepper monopoly
agreement with the Brunai Government, referring to the Murut
predilection for head-hunting says:--"With respect to the Idaan, or
Muruts, as they are called here, I cannot give any account of their
disposition; but from what I have heard from the Borneyans, they are a
set of abandoned idolaters; one of their tenets, so strangely inhuman, I
cannot pass unnoticed, which is, that their future interest depends
upon the number of their fellow creatures they have killed in any
engagement, or common disputes, and count their degrees of happiness to
depend on the number of human skulls in their possession; from which,
and the wild, disorderly life they lead, unrestrained by any bond of
civil society, we ought not to be surprised if they are of a cruel and
vindictive disposition." I think this is rather a case of giving a dog a
bad name.

I heard read once at a meeting of the Royal Geographical Society, an
eloquent paper on the Natives of the Andaman Islands, in which the
lecturer, after shewing that the Andamanese were suspicious,
treacherous, blood-thirsty, ungrateful and untruthful, concluded by
giving it as his opinion that they were very good fellows and in many
ways superior to white man.

I do not go quite so far as he does, but I must say that many of the
aborigines are very pleasant good-natured creatures, and have a lot of
good qualities in them, which, with care and discriminating legislation
on the part of their new rulers, might be gradually developed, while the
evil qualities which they possess in common with all races of men, might
be _pari passu_ not extinguished, but reduced to a minimum. But this
result can only be secured by officers who are naturally of a
sympathetic disposition and ready to take the trouble of studying the
natives and entering into their thoughts and aspirations.

In many instances, the Company has been fortunate in its choice of
officials, whose work has brought them into intimate connection with the

A besetting sin of young officers is to expect too much--they are
conscious that their only aim is to advance the best interests of the
natives, and they are surprised and hurt at, what they consider, the
want of gratitude and backwardness in seconding their efforts evinced by
them. They forget that the people are as yet in the schoolboy stage, and
should try and remember how, in their own schoolboy days, they offered
opposition to the efforts of their masters for _their_ improvement, and
how little gratitude they felt, at the time, for all that was done for
them. Patience and sympathy are the two qualifications especially
requisite in officers selected for the management of native affairs.

In addition to the indigenous population, there are, settled along the
coast and at the mouths of the principal rivers, large numbers of the
more highly civilized tribes of Malays, of whose presence in Borneo an
explanation has been attempted on a previous page. They are known as
Brunais--called by the Natives, for some unexplained reason, _orang
abai_--Sulus, Bajows, Illanuns and Balininis; there are also a few
Bugis, or natives of Celebes.

These are the people who, before the Company's arrival, lorded it over
the more ignorant interior tribes, and prevented their having direct
dealings with traders and foreigners, and to whom, consequently, the
advent of a still more civilized race than themselves was very

The habits of the Brunai people have already been sufficiently

The Sulus are, next to the Brunais, the most civilized race and, without
any exception, the most warlike and powerful. For nearly three
centuries, they have been more or less in a state of war with the
Spaniards of the Philippine Islands, and even now, though the Spaniards
have established a fortified port in their principal island, their
subjugation is by no means complete.

The Spanish officials dare not go beyond the walls of their settlement,
unless armed and in force, and it is no rare thing for fanatical Sulus,
singly or in small parties, to make their way into the Spanish town,
under the guise of unarmed and friendly peasants, and then suddenly draw
their concealed krises and rush with fury on officers, soldiers and
civilians, generally managing to kill several before they are themselves
cut down.

They are a much bolder and more independent race than the Brunais, who
have always stood in fear of them, and it was in consideration of its
undertaking to defend them against their attacks that the Brunai
Government conceded the exclusive trade in pepper to the East India
Company. Their religion--Muhammadanism--sits even more lightly on the
Sulus than on the Brunais, and their women, who are fairer and better
looking than their Brunai sisters, are never secluded or veiled, but
often take part in public deliberations and, in matters of business, are
even sharper than the men.

The Sulus are a bloodthirsty and hard-hearted race, and, when an
opportunity occurs, are not always averse to kidnapping even their own
countrymen and selling them into slavery. They entertain a high notion
of their own importance, and are ever ready to resent with their krises
the slightest affront which they may conceive has been put upon them.

In Borneo, they are found principally on the North-East Coast, and a
good many have settled in British North Borneo under the Company's
Government. They occasionally take contracts for felling jungle and
other work of similar character, but are less disposed than the Brunai
men to perform work for Europeans on regular wages. Among their good
qualities, it may be mentioned that they are faithful and trustworthy
followers of any European to whom they may become attached. Their
language is distinct from ordinary Malay, and is akin to that of the
Bisaias, one of the principal tribes of the Philippines, and is written
in the Arabic character; but many Malay terms have been adopted into the
language, and most of the trading and seafaring Sulus know enough Malay
to conclude a bargain.

The most numerous Muhammadan race in British North Borneo is that of the
Bajows, who are found on both coasts, but, on the West Coast, not South
of the Pappar River. These are the _orang-laut_ (men of the sea) or
sea-gipsies of the old writers, and are the worst class that we have to
deal with, being of a treacherous and thievish disposition, and
confirmed gamblers and cattle-lifters.

They also form a large proportion of the population of the Sulu Islands,
where they are, or used to be, noted kidnappers and pirates, though also
distinguished for their skill in pearl fisheries. Their religion is that
of Mahomet and their language Malay mixed, it is said, with Chinese and
Japanese elements; their women are not secluded, and it is a rare thing
for a Borneo Bajow to take the trouble of making the pilgrimage to
Mecca. They are found along the coasts of nearly all the Malay Islands
and, apparently, in former days lived entirely in their boats. In
British North Borneo, a large majority have taken to building houses
and residing on the shore, but when Mr. PRYER first settled at Sandakan,
there was a considerable community of them in the Bay, who had no houses
at all, but were born, bred, married and died in their small canoes.

On the West Coast, the Bajows, who have for a long time been settled
ashore, appear to be of smaller build and darker colour than the other
Malays, with small sparkling black eyes, but on the East Coast, where
their condition is more primitive, Mr. PRYER thinks they are much larger
in stature and stronger and more swarthy than ordinary Malays.

On the East Coast, there are no buffaloes or horned cattle, so that the
Bajows there have, or I should say _had_, to be content with kidnapping
only, and as an example of their daring I may relate that in, I think,
the year 1875, the Austrian Frigate _Friederich_, Captain Baron
OESTERREICHER, was surveying to the South of Darvel Bay, and, running
short of coal, sent an armed party ashore to cut firewood. The Bajows
watched their opportunity and, when the frigate was out of sight, seized
the cutter, notwithstanding the fire of the party on the shore, who
expended all their ammunition in vain, and carried off the two
boat-keepers, whose heads were subsequently shewn round in triumph in
the neighbouring islands. Baron OESTERREICHER was unable to discover the
retreat of these Bajows, and they remain unpunished to this day, and are
at present numbered among the subjects of the British North Borneo
Company. I have been since told that I have more than once unwittingly
shaken hands and had friendly intercourse with some of them. In fairness
to them I should add that it is more than probable that they mistook the
_Friederich_ for a vessel belonging to Spain, with whom their sovereign,
the Sultan of Sulu, was at that time at war. After this incident, and by
order of his Government, Baron OESTERREICHER visited Sandakan Bay and, I
believe, reported that he could discover no population there other than
monkeys. Altogether, he could not have carried away with him a very
favourable impression of Northern Borneo. On the West Coast, gambling
and cattle-lifting are the main pursuits of the gentlemanly Bajow,
pursuits which soon brought him into close and very uncomfortable
relations with the new Government, for which he entertains anything but
feelings of affection. One of the principal independent rivers on the
West Coast--_i. e._, rivers which have not yet been ceded to the
Company--is the Mengkabong, the majority of the inhabitants of which are
Bajows, so that it has become a sort of river of refuge for the bad
characters on the coast, as well as an entrepôt for the smuggling of
gunpowder for sale to the head-hunting tribes of the interior. The
existence of these independent and intermediate rivers on their West
Coast is a serious difficulty for the Company in its efforts to
establish good government and put down lawlessness, and every one having
at heart the true interests of the natives of Borneo must hope that the
Company will soon be successful in the negotiations which they have
opened for the acquisition of these rivers. The Kawang was an important
river, inhabited by a small number of Bajows, acquired by the Company in
1884, and the conduct of these people on one occasion affords a good
idea of their treachery and their hostility towards good government. An
interior tribe had made itself famous for its head-hunting proclivities,
and the Kawang was selected as the best route by which to reach their
district and inflict punishment upon them. The selection of this route
was not a politic one, seeing that the inhabitants _were_ Bajows, and
that they had but recently come under the Company's rule. The expedition
was detained a day or two at the Bajow village, as the full number of
Dusun baggage-carriers had not arrived, and the Bajows were called upon
to make up the deficiency, but did not do so. Matters were further
complicated by the Dusuns recognising some noted cattle-lifters in the
village, and demanding a buffalo which had been stolen from them. It
being impossible to obtain the required luggage carriers, it was
proposed to postpone the expedition, the stores were deposited in some
of the houses of the village and the Constabulary were "dismissed" and,
piling their arms, laid down under the shelter of some trees. Without
any warning one of two Bajows, with whom Dr. FRASER was having an
apparently friendly chat, discharged his musket point blank at the
Doctor, killing him on the spot, and seven others rushed among the
unarmed Constables and speared the Sikh Jemmadhar and the
Sergeant-Major and a private and then made off for the jungle. Captain
DE FONTAINE gallantly, but rashly started off in pursuit, before any one
could support him. He tripped and fell and was so severely wounded by
the Bajows, after killing three of them with his revolver, that he died
a few days afterwards at Sandakan. By this time the Sikhs had got their
rifles and firing on the retreating party killed three and wounded two.
Assistant Resident LITTLE, who had received a spear in his arm, shot his
opponent dead with his revolver. None of the other villagers took any
active part, and consequently were only punished by the imposition of a
fine. They subsequently all cleared out of the Company's territory. It
was a sad day for the little Colony at Sandakan when Mr. WHITEHEAD, a
naturalist who happened to be travelling in the neighbourhood at the
time, brought us the news of the melancholy affray, and the wounded
Captain DE FONTAINE and several Sikhs, to whose comfort and relief he
had, at much personal inconvenience, attended on the tedious voyage in a
small steam-launch from the Kawang to the Capital. On the East Coast,
also, their slave-dealing and kidnapping propensities brought the Bajows
into unfriendly relations with the Government, and their lawlessness
culminated in their kidnapping several Eraan birds' nest collectors,
whom they refused to surrender, and making preparations for resisting
any measures which might be taken to coerce them. As these same people
had, a short time previously, captured at sea some five Dutch subjects,
it was deemed that their offences brought them within the cognizance of
the Naval authorities, and Captain A. K. HOPE, R.N., at my request,
visited the district, in 1886, in H. M. S. _Zephyr_ and, finding that
the people of two of the Bajow villages refused to hold communication
with us, but prepared their boats for action, he opened fire on them
under the protection of which a party of the North Borneo Constabulary
landed and destroyed the villages, which were quickly deserted, and many
of the boats which had been used on piratical excursions. Happily, there
was no loss of life on either side, and a very wholesome and useful
lesson was given to the pirates without the shedding of blood, thanks
to the good arrangements and tact of Captain HOPE. In order that the
good results of this lesson should not be wasted, I revisited the scene
of the little engagement in the _Zephyr_ a few weeks subsequently, and
not long afterwards the British flag was again shewn in the district, by
Captain A. H. ALINGTON in H. M. S. _Satellite_, who interviewed the
offending chiefs and gave them sound advice as to their conduct in

Akin to the Bajows are the Illanuns and Balinini, Muhammadan peoples,
famous in former days as the most enterprising pirates of the Malayan
seas. The Balinini, Balignini or Balanguini--as their name is variously
written--originally came from a small island to the north of Sulu, and
the Illanuns from the south coast of the island of Mindanao--one of the
Philippines, but by the action of the Spanish and British cruisers their
power has been broken and they are found scattered in small numbers
throughout the Sulu Islands and on the seaboard of Northern Borneo, on
the West Coast of which they founded little independent settlements,
arrogating to their petty chiefs such high sounding titles as Sultan,
Maharajah and so forth.

The Illanuns are a proud race and distinguished by wearing a much larger
sword than the other tribes, with a straight blade about 28 inches in
length. This sword is called a _kampilan_, and is used in conjunction
with a long, narrow, wooden shield, known by the name of _klassap_, and
in the use of these weapons the Illanuns are very expert and often boast
that, were it not for their gunpowder, no Europeans could stand up to
them, face to face. I believe, that it is these people who in former
days manufactured the chain armour of which I have seen several
specimens, but the use of which has now gone out of fashion. Those I
have are made of small brass rings linked together, and with plates of
brass or buffalo horn in front. The headpiece is of similar

There are no Negritos in Borneo, although they exist in the Malay
Peninsula and the Philippines, and our explorers have failed to obtain
any specimens of the "tailed" people in whose existence many of the
Brunai people believe. The late Sultan of Brunai gravely assured me
that there was such a tribe, and that the individuals composing it were
in the habit of carrying about chairs with them, in the seat of each of
which there was a little hole, in which the lady or gentleman carefully
inserted her or his tail before settling down to a comfortable chat.
This belief in the existence of a tailed race appears to be widespread,
and in his "Pioneering in New Guinea" Mr. CHALMERS gives an amusing
account of a detailed description of such a tribe by a man who vowed _he
had lived with them_, and related how they were provided with long
sticks, with which to make holes in the ground before squatting down,
for the reception of their short stumpy tails! I think it is Mr. H. F.
ROMILLY who, in his interesting little work on the Western Pacific and
New Guinea, accounts for the prevalence of "yarns" of this class by
explaining that the natives regard Europeans as being vastly superior to
them in general knowledge and, when they find them asking such questions
as, for instance, whether there are tailed-people in the interior, jump
to the conclusion that the white men must have good grounds for
believing that they do exist, and then they gradually come to believe in
their existence themselves. There is, however, I think, some excuse for
the Brunai people's belief, for I have seen one tribe of Muruts who, in
addition to the usual small loin cloth, wear on their backs only a skin
of a long-tailed monkey, the tail of which hangs down behind in such a
manner as, when the men are a little distance off, to give one at first
glance the impression that it is part and parcel of the biped.

In Labuan it used to be a very common occurrence for the graves of the
Europeans, of which unfortunately, owing to its bad climate when first
settled, there are a goodly number, to be found desecrated and the bones
scattered about. The perpetrators of these outrages have never been
discovered, notwithstanding the most stringent enquiries. It was once
thought that they were broken open by head-hunting tribes from the
mainland, but this theory was disproved by the fact that the skulls were
never carried away. As we know of no Borneo tribe which is in the habit
of breaking open graves, the only conclusion that can be come to is that
the graves were rifled under the supposition that the Europeans buried
treasure with their dead, though it is strange that their experiences of
failure never seemed to teach them that such was not the case.

The Muhammadan natives are buried in the customary Muhammadan manner in
regular graveyards kept for the purpose.

The aborigines generally bury their dead near their houses, erecting
over the graves little sheds adorned, in the case of chiefs, with bright
coloured clothes, umbrellas, etc. I once went to see the lying in state
of a deceased Datoh, who had been dead nine days. On entering the house
I looked about for the corpse in vain, till my attention was drawn to an
old earthen jar, tilted slightly forward, on the top of the old Chief's
goods--his sword, spear, gun and clothing.

In this jar were the Datoh's remains, the poor old fellow having been
doubled up, head and heels together, and forced through the mouth of the
vessel, which was about two feet in diameter. The jar itself was about
four feet high. Over the corpse was thickly sprinkled the native
camphor, and the jar was closed with a piece of buffalo hide, well
sealed over with gum dammar. They told us the Datoh was dressed in his
best clothes and had his pipe with him, but nothing else. He was to be
buried that day in a small grave excavated near the house, just large
enough to contain the jar, and a buffalo was being killed and
intoxicating drink prepared for the numerous friends and followers who
were flocking in for the wake. Over his grave cannon would be fired to
arouse the spirits who were to lead him to Kinabalu, the people shouting
out "Turn neither to the right nor to the left, but proceed straight to
Kinabalu"--the sacred mountain where are collected the spirits of all
good Dusuns under, I believe, the presidency of a great spirit known as


The population of North Borneo, as has been shewn, is very scanty, and
the great object of the new Government should be to attract population
and capital to their territory. Java is often quoted as an island which,
under Dutch rule, has attained great prosperity without any large
immigration of Chinese or other foreigners. This is true, but in Java
the Dutch had not only a fertile soil and good climate in their favour,
but found their Colony already thickly populated by native races who
had, under Hindu and Arab influences, made considerable advances in
civilization, in trade and in agriculture, and who, moreover, had been
accustomed to a strong Government.

The Dutch, too, were in those days able to introduce a Government of a
paternal and despotic character which the British North Borneo Company
are, by the terms of the Royal Charter, precluded from imitating.

It was Sir JAMES BROOKE'S wish to keep Sarawak for the natives, but his
successor has recognised the impolicy of so doing and admits that
"without the Chinese we can do nothing." Experience in the Straits
Settlements, the Malay Peninsula and Sarawak has shewn that the people
to cause rapid financial progress in Malayan countries are the
hard-working, money-loving Chinese, and these are the people whom the
Company should lay themselves out to attract to Borneo, as I have more
than once pointed out in the course of these remarks. It matters not
what it is that attracts them to the country, whether trade, as in
Singapore, agriculture, as in Johor and Sarawak, or mining as in Perak
and other of the Protected Native States of the Peninsula--once get them
to voluntarily immigrate, and govern them with firmness and justice, and
the financial success of the Company would, in my opinion, be assured.
The inducements for the Chinese to come to North Borneo are trade,
agriculture and possibly mining. The bulk of those already in the
country are traders, shop-keepers, artisans and the coolies employed by
them, and the numbers introduced by the European tobacco planters for
the cultivation of their estates, under the system already explained, is
yearly increasing. Very few are as yet engaged in agriculture on their
own account, and it must be confessed that the luxuriant tropical jungle
presents considerable difficulties to an agriculturist from China,
accustomed to a country devoid of forest, and it would be impossible for
Chinese peasants to open land in Borneo for themselves without monetary
assistance, in the first instance, from the Government or from
capitalists. In Sarawak Chinese pepper planters were attracted by free
passages in Government ships and by loans of money, amounting to a
considerable total, nearly all of which have since been repaid, while
the revenues of the State have been almost doubled. The British North
Borneo Company early recognised the desirability of encouraging Chinese
immigration, but set to work in too great haste and without judgment.

They were fortunate in obtaining the services for a short time, as their
Commissioner of Chinese Immigration, of a man so well-known in China as
the late Sir WALTER MEDHURST, but he was appointed before the Company's
Government was securely established and before proper arrangements had
been made for the reception of the immigrants, or sufficient knowledge
obtained of the best localities in which to locate them. His influence
and the offer of free passages from China, induced many to try their
fortune in the Colony, but the majority of them were small shop-keepers,
tailors, boot-makers, and artisans, who naturally could not find a
profitable outlet for their energies in a newly opened country to which
capital (except that of the Governing Company) had not yet been
attracted, and a large proportion of the inhabitants of which were
satisfied with a loin cloth as the sole article of their attire. Great,
therefore, was their disappointment, and comparatively few remained to
try their luck in the country. One class of these immigrants, however,
took kindly to North Borneo--the Hakkas, an agricultural clan, many of
whom have embraced the Christian religion and are, in consequence,
somewhat looked down upon by their neighbours. They are a steady,
hard-working body of men, and cultivate vegetable and coffee gardens in
the vicinity of the Settlements and rear poultry and pigs. The women are
steady, and work almost as well as the men. They may form a valuable
factor in the colonization of the country and a source of cheap labour
for the planters in the future.

Sir SPENCER ST. JOHN, formerly Her Britannic Majesty's Consul-General at
Brunai and who knew Borneo well, in his preface to the second edition
of his "Life in the Forests of the Far East," lays great stress on the
suitability of North Borneo for the immigration of Chinese on a very
large scale, and prophesied that "should the immigration once commence,
it would doubtless assume great proportions and continue until every
acre of useless jungle is cleared away, to give place to rice, pepper,
gambier, sugar-cane, cotton, coffee, indigo and those other products
which flourish on its fertile soil." No doubt a considerable impetus
would be given to the immigration of Chinese and the introduction of
Chinese as well as of European capital, were the British Government to
proclaim[23] formally a Protectorate over the country, meanwhile the
Company should try the effect of the offer of free passages from China
and from Singapore and of liberal allotments of suitable land to _bonâ
fide_ agriculturists.

The sources of the Company's revenues have been referred to on a
previous page, and may be summarised here under the following principal
heads:--The "Farms" of Opium, Tobacco, Spirits, and of Pawnbroking, the
Rent of the edible birds'-nest caves, Market Dues, Duties on Imports and
Exports, Court Fines and Fees, Poll Tax on aborigines, House and Store
Rents, profit accruing from the introduction of the Company's copper or
bronze token coinage--a considerable item--Interest and Commission
resulting from the Banking business carried on by the Treasury pending
the establishment of a Banking Company, Land Sales and Quit-rents on
land alienated, and Postal Receipts.

The Poll Tax is a source of revenue well-known in the East and not
objected to by most of our natives, with whom it takes the place of the
land rent which the Government of India imposes. To our aborigines a
land rent would be most distasteful at present, and they infinitely
prefer the Poll Tax and to be allowed to own and farm what land they
like without paying premium or rent. The more civilized tribes,
especially on the West coast, recognize private property in land, the
boundaries of their gardens and fields being carefully marked and
defined, and the property descending from fathers to children. The rate
of the Poll Tax is usually $2 for married couples and $1 for adult
bachelors per annum, and I believe this is about the same rate as that
collected by the British Government in Burma. At first sight it has the
appearance of a tax on marriage, but in the East generally women do a
great deal of the out-door as well as of the indoor work, so that a
married man is in a much better position than a bachelor for acquiring
wealth, as he can be engaged in collecting jungle produce, or in
trading, or in making money in other ways, while his womenkind are
planting out or gathering in the harvest.

The amounts _received_ by the Company for the sale of their waste lands
has been as follows:--

    1882,        $16,340

    1883,        $25,449

    1884,        $15,460

    1885,         $2,860

    1886,        $12,035

    1887,[24]    $14,505

The receipts for 1888, owing to the rush for tobacco lands already
alluded to, and to the fact that the balances of the premia on lands
taken up in 1887 becomes due in that year, will be considerably larger
than those of any previous period.

The most productive, and the most elastic source of revenue is that
derived from the Excise on the retail of opium and, with the
comparatively small number of Chinese at present in the country, this
amounted in 1887 to $19,980, having been only $4,537 in 1882.[25] The
next most substantial and promising item is the Customs Duties on Import
and Export, which from about $8,300 in 1882 have increased to $19,980 in

The local expenditure in Borneo is chiefly for salaries of the
officials, the armed Constabulary and for Gaols and Public Works, the
annual "rental" payable to the Sultans of Brunai and Sulu and others,
the subsidizing of steamers, Medical Services, Printing, Stationery,
Prospecting, Experimental Gardens and Harbour and Postal Services. The
designations of the principal officials employed by the Company in
Borneo have been given on a previous page; the salaries allowed them, as
a rule, can scarcely be called too liberal, and unfortunately the Court
of Directors does not at present feel that it is justified in
sanctioning any pension scheme. Those of my readers who are conversant
with the working of Public Offices will recognize that this decision of
the Directors deprives the service of one great incentive to hard and
continuous work and of a powerful factor in the maintenance of an
effective discipline, and it speaks volumes for the quality of the
officials, whose services the Company has been so fortunate as to secure
without this attraction, that it is served as faithfully, energetically
and zealously as any Government in the world. It I may be allowed to say
so here, I can never adequately express my sense of the valuable
assistance and support I received from the officers, with scarcely any
exception, during my six years' tenure of the appointment of Governor.
An excellent spirit pervades the service and, when the occasions have
arisen, there have never been wanting officers ready to risk their lives
in performing their duties, without hope of rewards or distinctions,
Victoria Crosses or medals.

The figures below speak for the advance which the country is making, not
very rapidly, perhaps the shareholders may think, but certainly, though
slowly, surely and steadily:--

    Revenue in 1883, $51,654, with the addition of Land Sales,
    $25,449, a total of $77,103.

    Revenue in 1887, $142,687, with the addition of Land Sales,
    $14,505, a total of $157,192.

    Expenditure in 1883, including expenditure on Capital Account,

    Expenditure in 1887, including expenditure on Capital Account,

For reasons already mentioned, the revenue for 1888 is expected to
considerably exceed that of any previous year, while the expenditure
will probably not be more and may be less than that of 1887.[27]

The expenses of the London office average, I believe, about £3,000 a

As Sir RUTHERFORD ALCOCK, their able and conscientious Chairman,
explained to the shareholders at a recent meeting, "with reference to
the important question of expenditure, the position of the Company was
that of a man coming into possession of a large estate which had been
long neglected, and which was little better than a wilderness. If any
rent roll was to be derived from such a property there must be, in the
first place, a large outlay in many ways before the land could be made
profitable, or indeed tenantable. That was what the Company had had to
do and what they had been doing; _and that had been the history of all
our Colonies_." I trust that the few observations I have offered will
have shewn my readers that, though British North Borneo might be
described as a wilderness so far as regards the absence of development
when the Company took possession of it, such a description is by no
means applicable to it when regard is had to its great and undoubted
natural resources.

British North Borneo not being a Crown Colony, it has to provide itself
for the maintenance of order, both ashore and afloat, without assistance
from the Imperial Army or Navy, except such temporary assistance as has
been on two occasions accorded by Her Majesty's vessels, under
circumstances which have been detailed. There are no Imperial Troops
stationed either in Labuan or in any portion of Borneo, and the Company
has organized an armed Police Force to act both in a military and in a
civil capacity.

The numbers of their Force do not much exceed two hundred of all ranks,
and are composed principally of Sikhs from the Punjaub and a few Dyaks
from Sarawak--an excellent mixture for fighting purposes, the Dyaks
being sufficiently courageous and expert in all the arts of jungle
warfare, while the pluck and cool steadiness under fire of the Sikhs is
too well-known to need comment here. The services of any number of Sikhs
can, it appears, be easily obtained for this sort of work, and some
years ago a party of them even took service with the native Sultan of
Sulu, who, however, proved a very indifferent paymaster and was soon
deserted by his mercenaries, who are the most money-grabbing lot of
warriors I have ever heard of. Large bodies of Sikhs are employed and
drilled as Armed Constables in Hongkong, in the Straits Settlements and
in the Protected Native States of the Malay Peninsula, who, after a
fixed time of service, return to their country, their places being at
once taken by their compatriots, and one cannot help thinking what
effect this might have in case of future disturbances in our Indian
Empire, should the Sikh natives make common cause with the malcontents.

Fault has been found with the Company for not following the example of
Sarawak and raising an army and police from among its own people. This
certainly would have been the best policy had it only been feasible; but
the attempt was made and failed.

As I have pointed out, British North Borneo is fortunate in not
possessing any powerful aboriginal tribe of pronounced warlike
instincts, such as the Dyaks of Sarawak.

The Muhammadan Bajows might in time make good soldiers, but my
description of them will have shewn that the Company could not at
present place reliance in them.

While on the subject of "fault finding," I may say that the Company has
also been blamed for its expenditure on public works and on subsidies
for steam communication with the outer world.

But our critics may rest assured that, had not the Company proved its
faith in the country by expending some of its money on public works and
in providing facilities for the conveyance of intending colonists,
neither European capital nor Chinese population, so indispensable to the
success of their scheme, would have been attracted to their Territory as
is now being done--for the country and its new Government lacked the
prestige which attaches to a Colony opened by the Imperial Government.
The strange experiment, in the present day, of a London Company
inaugurating a Government in a tropical Colony, perhaps not unnaturally
caused a certain feeling of pique and uncharitableness in the breasts of
that class of people who cannot help being pleased at the non-success of
their neighbours' most cherished schemes, and who are always ready with
their "I told you so." The measure of success attained by British North
Borneo caused it to come in for its full share of this feeling, and I am
not sure that it was not increased and aggravated by the keen interest
which all the officers took in the performance of their novel duties--an
interest which, quite unintentionally, manifested itself, perhaps, in a
too enthusiastic and somewhat exaggerated estimate of the beauties and
resources of their adopted country and of the grandeur of its future
destiny and of its rapid progress, and which, so to speak, brought about
a reaction towards the opposite extreme in the minds of the class to
whom I refer. This enthusiasm was, to say the least, pardonable under
the circumstances, for all men are prone to think that objects which
intensely engross their whole attention are of more importance than the
world at large is pleased to admit. Every man worth his salt thinks his
own geese are swans.

A notable exception to this narrow-mindedness was, however, displayed by
the Government of Singapore, especially by its present Governor, Sir
CECIL CLEMENTI SMITH, who let no opportunity pass of encouraging the
efforts of the infant Government by practical assistance and
unprejudiced counsel.

Lord BRASSEY, whose visit to Borneo in the _Sunbeam_ I have mentioned,
showed a kindly appreciation of the efforts of the Company's officers,
and practically evinced his faith in the future of the country by
joining the Court of Directors on his return to England.

In the number of the "Nineteenth Century" for August, 1887, is a sketch
of the then position of the portion of Borneo which is under the British
influence, from his pen.

As the country is developed and land taken up by European planters and
Chinese, the Company will be called upon for further expenditure on
public works, in the shape of roads, for at present, in the interior,
there exist only rough native tracks, made use of by the natives when
there does not happen to be a river handy for the transport of
themselves and their goods. Though well watered enough, British North
Borneo possesses no rivers navigable for European vessels of any size,
except perhaps the Sibuku River, the possession of which is at the
present moment a subject of dispute with the the Dutch. This is due to
the natural configuration of the country. Borneo, towards the North,
becoming comparatively narrow and of roughly triangular shape, with the
apex to the North. The only other river of any size and navigable for
vessels drawing about nine feet over the bar, is the Kinabatangan,
which, like the Sibuku, is on the East side, the coast range of
mountains, of which Kinabalu forms a part, being at no great distance
from the West coast and so preventing the occurrence of any large rivers
on that side. From data already to hand, it is calculated that the
proceeds of Land Sales for 1887 and 1888 will equal the total revenue
from all other sources, and a portion of this will doubtless be set
aside for road making and other requisite public works.

The question may be asked what has the Company done for North Borneo?

A brief reply to this question would include the following points. The
Company has paved the way to the ultimate extinction of the practice of
slavery; it has dealt the final blow to the piracy and kidnapping which
still lingered on its coasts; it has substituted one strong and just
Government for numerous weak, cruel and unjust ones; it has opened
Courts of Justice which know no distinction between races and creeds,
between rich and poor, between master and slave; it is rapidly adjusting
ancient blood feuds between the tribes and putting a stop to the old
custom of head-hunting; it has broken down the barrier erected by the
coast Malays to prevent the aborigines having access to the outer world
and is thus enabling trade and its accompanying civilisation to reach
the interior races; and it is attracting European and Chinese capital to
the country and opening a market for British traders.

These are some, and not inconsiderable ones, of the achievements of the
British North Borneo Company, which, in its humble way, affords another
example of the fact that the "expansion of Britain" has been in the main
due not to the exertions of its Government so much as to the energy and
enterprise of individual citizens, and Sir ALFRED DENT the the founder,
and Sir RUTHERFORD ALCOCK the guide and supporter of the British North
Borneo Company, cannot but feel a proud satisfaction in the reflection
that their energy and patient perseverance have resulted in conferring
upon so considerable a portion of the island of Borneo the benefits
above enumerated and in adding another Colony to the long list of the
Dependencies of the British Crown.

In the matter of geographical exploration, too, the Company and its
officers have not been idle, as the map brought out by the Company
sufficiently shews, for previous maps of North Borneo will be found very
barren and uninteresting, the interior being almost a complete blank,
though possessing one natural feature which is conspicuous by its
absence in the more recent and trustworthy one, and that is the large
lake of Kinabalu, which the explorations of the late Mr. F. K. WITTI
have proved to be non-existent. Two explanations are given of the origin
of the myth of the Kinabalu Lake--one is that in the district, where it
was supposed to exist, extensive floods do take place in very wet
seasons, giving it the appearance of a lake, and, I believe there are
many similar instances in Dutch Borneo, where a tract of country liable
to be heavily flooded has been dignified with the name of _Danau_, which
is Malay for _lake_, so that the mistake of the European cartographers
is a pardonable one. The other explanation is that the district in
question is known to the aboriginal inhabitants as _Danau_, a word
which, in their language, has no particular meaning, but which, as above
stated, signifies, in Malay, a lake. The first European visitors would
have gained all their information from the Malay coast tribes, and the
reason for their mistaken supposition of the existence of a large lake
can be readily understood. The two principal pioneer explorers of
British North Borneo were WITTI and FRANK HATTON, both of whom met with
violent deaths. WITTI'S services as one of the first officers stationed
in the country, before the British North Borneo Company was formed, have
already been referred to, and I have drawn on his able report for a
short account of the slave system which formerly prevailed. He had
served in the Austrian Navy and was a very energetic, courageous and
accomplished man. Besides minor journeys, he had traversed the country
from West to East and from North to South, and it was on his last
journey from Pappar, on the West Coast, inland to the headwaters of the
Kinabatangan and Sambakong Rivers, that he was murdered by a tribe,
whose language none of his party understood, but whose confidence he had
endeavoured to win by reposing confidence in them, to the extent even of
letting them carry his carbine. He and his men had slept in the village
one night, and on the following day some of the tribe joined the party
as guides, but led them into the ambuscade, where the gallant WITTI and
many of his men were killed by _sumpitans_.[28] So far as we have been
able to ascertain the sole reason for the attack was the fact that WITTI
had come to the district from a tribe with whom these people were at
war, and he was, therefore, according to native custom, deemed also to
be an enemy. FRANK HATTON joined the Company's service with the object
of investigating the mineral resources of the country and in the course
of his work travelled over a great portion of the Territory, prosecuting
his journeys from both the West and the East coasts, and undergoing the
hardships incidental to travel in a roadless, tropical country with such
ability, pluck and success as surprised me in one so young and slight
and previously untrained and inexperienced in rough pioneering work.

He more than once found himself in critical positions with inland
tribes, who had never seen or heard of a white man, but his calmness and
intrepidity carried him safely through such difficulties, and with
several chiefs he became a sworn brother, going through the peculiar
ceremonies customary on such occasions. In 1883, he was ascending the
Segama River to endeavour to verify the native reports of the existence
of gold in the district when, landing on the bank, he shot at and
wounded an elephant, and while following it up through the jungle, his
repeating rifle caught in a rattan and went off, the bullet passing
through his chest, causing almost immediate death. HATTON, before
leaving England, had given promise of a distinguished scientific career,
and his untimely fate was deeply mourned by his brother officers and a
large circle of friends. An interesting memoir of him has been published
by his father, Mr. JOSEPH HATTON, and a summary of his journeys and
those of WITTI, and other explorers in British North Borneo, appeared in
the "Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society and Monthly Record of
Geography" for March, 1888, being the substance of a paper read before
the Society by Admiral R. C. MAYNE, C.B., M.P. A memorial cross has been
erected at Sandakan, by their brother officers, to the memory of WITTI,
HATTON, DE FONTAINE and Sikh officers and privates who have lost their
lives in the service of the Government.

To return for a moment to the matter of fault-finding, it would be
ridiculous to maintain that no mistakes have been made in launching
British North Borneo on its career as a British Dependency, but then I
do not suppose that any single Colony of the Crown has been, or will be
inaugurated without similar mistakes occurring, such, for instance, as
the withholding money where money was needed and could have been
profitably expended, and a too lavish expenditure in other and less
important directions. Examples will occur to every reader who has
studied our Colonial history. If we take the case of the Colony of the
Straits Settlements, now one of our most prosperous Crown Colonies and
which was founded by the East India Company, it will be seen that in
1826-7 the "mistakes" of the administration were on such a scale that
there was an annual deficit of £100,000, and the presence of the
Governor-General of India was called for to abolish useless offices and
effect retrenchments throughout the service.

The British North Borneo Company possesses a valuable property, and one
which is daily increasing in value, and if they continue to manage it
with the care hitherto exhibited, and if, remembering that they are not
yet quite out of the wood, they are careful to avoid, on the one hand, a
too lavish expenditure and, on the other, an unwise parsimony, there
cannot, I should say, be a doubt that a fair return will, at no very
distant date, be made to them on the capital they have expended.

As for the country _per se_, I consider that its success is now assured,
whether it remains under the rule of the Company or is received into the
fellowship of _bonâ fide_ Colonies of the Empire.

In bringing to a conclusion my brief account of the Territory, some
notice of its suitability as a residence for Europeans may not be out of
place, as bearing on the question of "what are we to do with our boys?"

I have my own experience of seventeen years' service in Northern Borneo,
and the authority of Dr. WALKER, the able Medical Officer of the
Government, for saying that in its general effect on the health of
Europeans, the climate of British North Borneo, as a whole, compares not
unfavourably with that of other tropical countries.

There is no particular "unhealthy season," and Europeans who lead a
temperate and active life have little to complain of, except the total
absence of any cold season, to relieve the monotony of eternal summer.
On the hills of the interior, no doubt, an almost perfect climate could
be obtained.

One great drawback to life for Europeans in all tropical places is the
fact that it is unwise to keep children out after they have attained the
age of seven or eight years, but up to that age the climate appears to
agree very well with them and they enjoy an immunity from measles,
whooping cough and other infantile diseases. This enforced separation
from wife and family is one of the greatest disadvantages in a career in
the tropics.

We have not, unfortunately, had much experience as to how the climate of
British North Borneo affects English ladies, but, judging from
surrounding Colonies, I fear it will be found that they cannot stand it
quite so well as the men, owing, no doubt, to their not being able to
lead such an active life and to their not having official and business
matter to occupy their attention during the greater part of the day, as
is the case with their husbands.

Of course, if sufficient care is taken to select a swampy spot, charged
with all the elements of fever and miasma, splendidly unhealthy
localities can be found in North Borneo, a residence in which would
prove fatal to the strongest constitution, and I have also pointed out
that on clearing new ground for plantations fever almost inevitably
occurs, but, as Dr. WALKER has remarked, the sickness of the newly
opened clearings does not last long when ordinary sanitary precautions
are duly observed.

At present the only employers of Europeans are the Governing Company,
who have a long list of applicants for appointments, the Tobacco
Companies, and two Timber Companies. Nearly all the Tobacco Companies at
present at work are of foreign nationality and, doubtless, would give
the preference to Dutch and German managers and assistants. Until more
English Companies are formed, I fear there will be no opening in British
North Borneo for many young Englishmen not possessed of capital
sufficient to start planting on their own account. It will be remembered
that the trade in the natural products of the country is practically in
the hands of the Chinese.

Among the other advantages of North Borneo is its entire freedom from
the presence of the larger carnivora--the tiger or the panther. Ashore,
with the exception of a few poisonous snakes--and during seventeen
years' residence I have never heard of a fatal result from a bite--there
is no animal which will attack man, but this is far from being the case
with the rivers and seas, which, in many places, abound in crocodiles
and sharks. The crocodiles are the most dreaded animals, and are found
in both fresh and salt water. Cases are not unknown of whole villages
being compelled to remove to a distance, owing to the presence of a
number of man-eating crocodiles in a particular bend of a river; this
happened to the village of Sebongan on the Kinabatangan River, which
has been quite abandoned.

Crocodiles in time become very bold and will carry off people bathing on
the steps of their houses over the water, and even take them bodily out
of their canoes.

At an estate on the island of Daat, I had two men thus carried off out
of their boats, at sea, after sunset, in both cases the mutilated bodies
being subsequently recovered. The largest crocodile I have seen was one
which was washed ashore on an island, dead, and which I found to measure
within an inch of twenty feet.

Some natives entertain the theory that a crocodile will not touch you if
you are swimming or floating in the water and not holding on to any
thing, but this is a theory which I should not care to put practically
to the test myself.

There is a native superstition in some parts of the West Coast, to the
effect that the washing of a mosquito curtain in a stream is sure to
excite the anger of the crocodiles and cause them to become dangerous.
So implicit was the belief in this superstition, that the Brunai
Government proclaimed it a punishable crime for any person to wash a
mosquito curtain in a running stream.

When that Government was succeeded by the Company, this proclamation
fell into abeyance, but it unfortunately happened that a woman at
Mempakul, availing herself of the laxity of the law in this matter, did
actually wash her curtain in a creek, and that very night her husband
was seized and carried off by a crocodile while on the steps of his
house. Fortunately, an alarm was raised in time, and his friends managed
to rescue him, though badly wounded; but the belief in the superstition
cannot but have been strengthened by the incident.

Some of the aboriginal natives on the West Coast are keen sportsmen and,
in the pursuit of deer and wild pig, employ a curious small dog, which
they call _asu_, not making use of the Malay word for dog--_anjing_. The
term _asu_ is that generally employed by the Javanese, from whose
country possibly the dog may have been introduced into Borneo. In
Brunai, dogs are called _kuyok_, a term said to be of Sumatran origin.

On the North and East there are large herds of wild cattle said to
belong to two species, _Bos Banteng_ and _Bos Gaurus_ or _Bos
Sondaicus_. In the vicinity of Kudat they afford excellent sport, a
description of which has been given, in a number of the "Borneo Herald,"
by Resident G. L. DAVIES, who, in addition to being a skilful manager of
the aborigines, is a keen sportsman. The native name for them on the
East Coast is _Lissang_ or _Seladang_, and on the North, _Tambadau_. In
some districts the water buffalo, _Bubalus Buffelus_, has run wild and
affords sport.

The deer are of three kinds--the _Rusa_ or _Sambur_ (_Rusa
Aristotelis_), the _Kijang_ or roe, and the _Plandok_, or mousedeer, the
latter a delicately shaped little animal, smaller and lighter than the
European hare. With the natives it is an emblem of cunning, and there
are many short stories illustrating its supposed more than human
intelligence. Wild pig, the _Sus barbatus_, a kind distinct from the
Indian animal, and, I should say, less ferocious, is a pest all over
Borneo, breaking down fences and destroying crops. The jungle is too
universal and too thick to allow of pig-sticking from horseback, but
good sport can be had, with a spear, on foot, if a good pack of native
dogs is got together.

It is on the East Coast only that elephants and rhinoceros, called
_Gajah_ and _Badak_ respectively, are found. The elephant is the same as
the Indian one and is fairly abundant; the rhinoceros is _Rhinoceros
sumatranus_, and is not so frequently met with.

The elephant in Borneo is a timid animal and, therefore, difficult to
come up with in the thick jungle. None have been shot by Europeans so
far, but the natives, who can walk through the forest so much more
quietly, sometimes shoot them, and dead tusks are also often brought in
for sale.

The natives in the East Coast are very few in numbers and on neither
coast is there any tribe of professional hunters, or _shikaris_, as in
India and Ceylon, so that, although game abounds, there are not, at
present, such facilities for Europeans desirous of engaging in sport as
in the countries named.[29]

A little Malay bear occurs in Borneo, but is not often met with, and is
not a formidable animal.

My readers all know that Borneo is the home of the _Orang-utan_ or
_Mias_, as it is called by the natives. No better description of the
animal could be desired than that given by WALLACE in his "Malay
Archipelago." There is an excellent picture of a young one in the second
volume of Dr. GUILLEMARD'S "Cruise of the Marchesa." Another curious
monkey, common in mangrove swamps, is the long-nosed ape, or _Pakatan_,
which possesses a fleshy probosis some three inches long. It is
difficult to tame, and does not live long in captivity.

As in Sumatra, which Borneo much resembles in its fauna and flora, the
peacock is absent, and its place taken by the _Argus_ pheasant. Other
handsome pheasants are the _Fireback_ and the _Bulwer_ pheasants, the
latter so named after Governor Sir HENRY BULWER who took the first
specimen home in 1874. These pheasants do not rise in the jungle and
are, therefore, uninteresting to the Borneo sportsman. They are
frequently trapped by the natives. There are many kinds of pigeons,
which afford good sport. Snipe occur, but not plentifully. Curlew are
numerous in some localities, but very wild. The small China quail are
abundant on cleared spaces, as also is the painted plover, but cleared
spaces in Borneo are somewhat few and far between. So much for sport in
the new Colony.

Let me conclude my paper by quoting the motto of the British North
Borneo Company--_Pergo et perago_--I under take a thing and go through
with it. Dogged persistence has, so far, given the Territory a fair
start on its way to prosperity, and the same perseverance will, in time,
be assuredly rewarded by complete success.[30]


P.S.--I cannot close this article without expressing my great
obligations to Mr. C. V. CREAGH, the present Governor of North Borneo,
and to Mr. KINDERSLEY, the Secretary to the Company in London, for
information which has been incorporated in these notes.


[Footnote 23: Now accomplished.]

[Footnote 24: In 1888, $246,457.]

[Footnote 25: In 1888, $22,755 were realized, and the Estimate for 1890
is $70,000 for the Opium Farm.]

[Footnote 26: In 1888, $22,755.]

[Footnote 27: Revenue in 1888, $148,286, with addition of Land Sales,
$246,457, a total of $394,743.

Expenditure in 1888, including Padas war expenses, $210,985, and
expenditure on Capital Account, $25,283--total $236,268.]

[Footnote 28: The _sumpitan_, or native blow-pipe, has been frequently
described by writers on Borneo. It is a tube 6-1/2 feet long, carefully
perforated lengthwise and through which is fired a poisoned dart, which
has an extreme range of about 80 to 90 yards, but is effective at about
20 to 30 yards. It takes the place in Borneo of the bow and arrow of
savage tribes, and is used only by the aborigines and not by the
Muhammadan natives.]

[Footnote 29: Dr. GUILLEMARD in his fascinating book, "The Cruise of
the Marchesa," states, that two English officers, both of them
well-known sportsmen, devoted four months to big game shooting in
British North Borneo and returned to Hongkong entirely unsuccessful.
Dr. GUILLEMARD was misinformed. The officers were not more than a week
in the country on their way to Hongkong from Singapore and Sarawak, and
did not devote their time to sport. Some other of the author's remarks
concerning British North Borneo are somewhat incorrect and appear to
have been based on information derived from a prejudiced source.]

[Footnote 30: In 1889, the Company declared their first Dividend.]

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber's Notes:

The author's original spelling has been preserved as far as possible,
including any idiosyncrasies and inconsistencies in the spelling and
accenting of words. Changes have only been made in the case of obvious
typographical errors and where it was felt necessary to remove
ambiguity or improve readability. All changes have been documented

Inconsistencies in the hypenation of words preserved. ( blood-thirsty,
bloodthirsty; head-quarters, headquarters; kina-balu, kinabalu;
kina-batangan, kinabatangan; salt-water, saltwater; sand-stone,
sandstone; sea-board, seaboard; shop-keepers, shopkeepers; war-like,

Treatment of Blockquotes. There are several blocks of text where the
author quoted extensively from other documentary sources. In some
cases, very long paragraphs contain a mixture of the author's words and
quoted material. In order to enhance readability, the portions of text
which are quoted material have been separated out and indented as
blockquotes. This treatment has been given to:

    Pg. 33-37. The block of text beginning '"When," says he....' to
    'maintaining their gravity.' which was originally a single
    contiguous paragraph.

    Pg. 37-40, several paragraphs beginning 'Mr. Darymple's
    description....' to 'Singapore is to the straits of Malacca.' The
    first paragraph from 'Mr. Darymple's description....' to
    'commercial enterprise' was originally a single contiguous
    paragraph. This block of text is also unusual in that while
    elsewhere, each new paragraph of quoted material began with a
    doublequote mark, in this block, only some paragraphs do so while
    others do not. This inconsistency on the part of the author has
    been preserved.

    Pg. 54-55, several paragraphs beginning 'Javanese element, and
    Hindu work....' to 'make a stone fort."' The section from
    'Javanese element, and Hindu work....' to 'country of
    Saguntang.' was originally one contiguous paragraph. The quoted
    material was originally printed with a doublequote mark at the
    beginning of each line. These doublequote marks have been
    removed except for those indicating the beginning and end of a

    Pg. 58-62, several paragraphs beginning 'The agreement to so
    transfer....' to 'reference will be made hereafter.' The
    section from 'The agreement to so transfer....' to 'twenty in
    number' was originally one contiguous paragraph. The block from
    'Mr. Brooke concludes....' to 'reference will be made
    hereafter.' was also one contiguous paragraph. The quoted
    material was originally printed with a doublequote mark at the
    beginning of each line. These doublequote marks have been
    removed except for those indicating the beginning and end of a

On Pg. 86 there is a short section of quoted material from '"Lieutenant
Little....' to 'await my arrival."' This quotation was originally
printed with a doublequote mark at the beginning of each line. The
doublequote marks have been removed. Because of its short length, the
quote has been left in the body of its parent paragraph, demarcated by
opening and closing doublequotes.

When the author quoted extensively from other sources, he used a row of
between 3-6 asterisks to represent omitted material. This style has
been reproduced in this transcription.

The author was inconsistent with respect to whether a space was added
between the letters in abbreviations such as A.M., R.N., i.e. and so
on. The original spacing has been preserved in all cases.

The original text included an Errata with the following text: "Page
136, line 15, _for_ 'head of a thief' _read_ 'hand of a thief.'" The
required change has been incorporated into this ebook and hence the
Errata has not been transcribed.

Table of Contents, Chapter VI., "expecttations" changed to
"expectations" (Original expectations of the Colony)

Table of Contents, Chapter X., "Tranfer" changed to "Transfer".
(Transfer from natives)

Pg. 2, "concesssions" changed to "concessions". (confirming the grants
and concessions acquired from the Sultans of Brunai)

Pg. 9, "slighlty" changed to "slightly". (black and slightly oblique)

Footnote 2 makes mention of an Appendix but the source document for
this transcription, although complete, did not have an Appendix.
Library catalogue entries for this title (with matching publication and
physical parameters) at libraries such as the Bodleian Library of
Oxford University (UK) and Harvard University make no mention of an
appendix and state that this title had 165 pages, which is exactly the
same as for the source document used.

Pg. 21, "adapability" changed to "adaptability". (adaptability to
changed circumstances)

Pg. 44, "fatening" changed to "fattening". (used for fattening pigs)

Pg. 53, "invesiture" changed to "investiture". (his conversion and
investiture by the Sultan)

Pg. 55, "beetwen" changed to "between". (quarrel ensued between them)

Pg. 59, sentence ends after "had the desired effect" without
punctuation. This is followed by a row of asterisks (omitted material)
and then the beginning of a new sentence: "None joined....". As it is
unclear whether "had the desired effect" ends the sentence or there
were more words (which have been omitted), the original text is
preserved as is.

Pg. 63, "poputation" changed to "population". (supporting a population)

Pg. 70, "beloved" original printed with an inverted "e". Corrected.
(beloved of the Colonial)

Pg. 72, "expirements" changed to "experiments". (but experiments are
being made)

Pg. 74, "scarely" changed to "scarcely". (We can scarcely let)

Pg. 75, "chaples" changed to "chapels". (twenty-five Mission chapels in

Pg. 79, "uncrupulous" changed to "unscrupulous". (most unscrupulous

Pg. 87, "witb" changed to "with". (covered with a strong growth)

Pg. 105, "authories" changed to "authorities". (for the Spanish

Pg. 114, "hat" changed to "that". (and found that next morning)

Pg. 114, "he" changed to "the". (and that the swifts went)

Pg. 116, "ino" changed to "into". (have been put into circulation)

Pg. 120, "rear", last letter originally printed as an inverted "r".
Corrected. (and appears to rear its isolated)

Pg. 120, inserted missing period at sentence end. (at all rare. The
dryest months)

Pg. 124, "amasing" changed to "amassing". (an innate desire of amassing

Pg. 126, inserted missing period at sentence end. (Kinabatangan River
on the East.)

Pg. 126, "ordidary" changed to "ordinary". (higher price than ordinary

Pg. 131, "hegrees" changed to "degrees". (abolish by degrees, any
system of)

Pg. 132, duplicated word "an" removed. (If an _anak mas_ girl)

Pg. 133, "incorrigble" changed to "incorrigible". (An incorrigible

Pg. 133, "agressor" changed to "aggressor". (compensation from the

Pg. 135, "pu-a stop to" changed to "put a stop to". (altogether put a
stop to in)

Pg. 135, "effecttually" changed to "effectually". (effectually brought
to an end)

Pg. 136, "and to the.consequent", extraneous dot removed. (and to the

Pg. 145, inserted missing period at end of sentence. (HOPE. In order
that the)

Pg. 145, "Zepyhyr" changed to "Zephyr". (in the Zephyr a few weeks)

Pg. 148, "acccustomed" changed "accustomed". (had been accustomed to)

Pg. 149, "desirabilty" changed to "desirability". (recognised the

Pg. 152, "Expendiure" changed to "Expenditure". (Expenditure in 1887)

Pg. 163, apparently extraneous comma removed from inside parenthesis of
"(_Rusa Aristotelis_,),". (_Rusa Aristotelis_), the)

Pg. 164, "N better" changed to "No better". (No better description of

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "British Borneo - Sketches of Brunai, Sarawak, Labuan, and North Borneo" ***

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