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Title: Java, Facts and Fancies
Author: Wit, Augusta de, 1864-1939
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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With 160 Illustrations

Chapman & Hall, Ltd.


When the Lady Dolly van der Decken, in answer to questions about
her legendary husband's whereabouts, murmured something vague about
"Java, Japan, or Jupiter," she had Java in her mind as the most
"impossible" of those impossible places. And, indeed, every schoolboy
points the finger of unceremonious acquaintance at Jupiter; and
Japan lies transparent on the egg-shell porcelain of many an elegant
tea-table. But Java? What far forlorn shore may it be that owns the
strange-sounding name; and in what sailless seas may this other Ultima
Thule be fancied to float? Time was when I never saw a globe--all spun
about with the net of parallels and degrees, as with some vast spider's
web--without a little shock of surprise at finding "Java" hanging in
the meshes. How could there be latitude and longitude to such a thing
of dreams and fancies? An attempt at determining the acreage of the
rainbow, or the geological strata of a Fata Morgana, would hardly
have seemed less absurd. I would have none of such vain exactitude;
but still chose to think of Java as situate in the same region as the
Island of Avalon; the Land of the Lotos-Eaters, palm-shaded Bohemia by
the sea, and the Forest of Broceliand, Merlin's melodious grave. And it
seemed to me that the very seas which girt those magic shores--still
keeping their golden sands undefiled from the gross clay of the outer
world--must be unlike all other water--tranquil ever, crystalline,
with a seven-tinted glow of strange sea-flowers, and the flashing
of jewel-like fishes gleaming from unsounded deeps. And higher than
elsewhere, surely, the skies, blessed with the sign of the Southern
Cross, must rise above the woods where the birds of paradise nestle.

Where is it now, the glory and the dream? The soil of Java is hot
under my feet. I know--to my cost--that, if the surrounding seas be
different from any other body of water, they are chiefly so in being
more subject to tempest, turmoil, and sudden squalls. I find the benign
influences of the Southern Cross--not a very brilliant constellation by
the way--utterly undone by the fiery fury of the noonday-sun; and have
learnt to appreciate the fine irony of the inherited style and title,
as compared with the present habitat, of the said Birds of Paradise.
And yet--all disappointing experience notwithstanding, and in spite
of the deadly dullness of so many days, the fever of so many sultry
nights, and the homesickness of all hours--I have still some of the
old love for this country left; and I begin to understand something of
the fascination by which it holds the Northerner who has breathed its
odour-laden air for too long a time; so that, forgetting his home, his
friends, and his kindred in the gray North, he is content to live on
dreamily by some lotos-starred lake; and, dying, to be buried under the

                                                         AUGUSTA DE WIT.


[Illustration: "A "brownie" of that enchanted garden that men call


My first impression of Java was not that of effulgent light and
overpowering magnificence of colour, generally experienced at the
first sight of a tropical country; but, on the contrary, of something
unspeakably tender, ethereal, and soft. It was in the beginning of
the rainy season. Under a sky filmy with diaphanous fleecy texture,
in which a tinge of the hidden blue was felt rather than seen, the
sea had a pearly sheen, with here and there changefully flickering
white lights, and wind-ruffled streaks of a pale violet. The slight
haziness in the air somewhat dulled the green of innumerable islets
and thickly-wooded reefs, scattered all over the sea; and, blurring
their outlines, seemed to lift them until they grew vague and airy as
the little clouds of a mackerel sky, wafted hither and thither by the
faintest wind. In the distance the block of square white buildings on
the landing-place--pointed out as the railway station and the custom
houses--stood softly outlined against a background of whitish-grey sky
and mist-blurred trees.

Slowly the steamer glided on. And, as we now approached the roadstead
of Batavia, there came swimming towards the ship numbers of native
boats, darting out from between the islets, and diving up out of the
shadows along the wooded shore, like so many waterfowl. Swiftest of
all were the "praos'" very slight hulls, almost disappearing under
their one immense whitish-brown sail, shaped like a bird's wing, and
thrown back with just the same impatient fling--ready for a swoop and
rake--so exactly resembling sea-gulls skimming along, as to render the
comparison almost a description. On they came, drawing purplish furrows
through the pearly greys and whites of the sea. And, in their wake,
darting hither and thither with the jerky movements of water-spiders,
quite a swarm of little black canoes--hollowed-out tree-trunks, kept
in balance by bamboo outriggers, which spread on either side like
sprawling, scurrying legs. As they approached, we saw that the boats
were piled with many-tinted fruit, above which the naked bodies of
the oarsmen rose, brown and shiny, and the wet paddle gleamed in
its leisurely-seeming dip and rise, which yet sent the small skiff
bounding onward. They were along-side soon, and the natives clambered
on board, laden with fragrant wares. They did not take the trouble
of hawking them about, agile as they had proved themselves, but
calmly squatted down amid their piled-up baskets of yellow, scarlet,
crimson, and orange fruit--a medley of colours almost barbaric in its
magnificence, notwithstanding the soberer tints of blackening purple,
and cool, reposeful green; and calmly awaited customers. Under the
gaudy kerchiefs picturesquely framing the dark brows, their brown
eyes had that look of thoughtful--or is it all thoughtless?--content,
which we of the North know only in the eyes of babies, crooning in
their mother's lap. And, as they answered our questions, their speech
had something childlike too, with its soft consonants and clear
vowels, long-drawn-out on a musical modulation, that glided all up
and down the gamut. They had a great charm for me, their flatness of
features and meagreness of limbs notwithstanding; and I thought, that,
if not quite the fairies, they might well be the "brownies" of that
enchanted garden that men call Java.

[Illustration: "Fishing-praos, their diminutive hulls almost
disappearing under the one tall whitish-brown sail, shaped like a
bird's wing and flung back, as if ready for a swoop and rake."]

[Illustration: "The ship lay still, and we trod the quay of Tandjong

But alas! for day-dreaming--the gruff authoritative voice of the
quartermaster was heard on deck; and--after the manner of goblins at
the approach of the Philistine--all the little brownies vanished. They
were gone in an instant: and, in their pretty stead, came porters,
cabin-stewards with trunks, and passengers in very new clothes. For we
were fast approaching; and, presently, with a big sigh of relief, the
steamer lay still, and we trod the quay of Tanjong Priok.

It would seem as if the first half hour of arrival must be the same
everywhere, all the world over; but here, even in the initial scramble
for the train, one notices a difference. There is a crowd; and there
is no noise. No scuffling and stamping, no cries, no shouting, no
gruff-voiced altercations. All but inaudibly the barefooted coolies
trot on, big steamer-trunks on their shoulders; they do not hustle,
each patiently awaiting his turn at the office and on the platform;
and, as they stand aside for some hurrying, pushing European, their
else impassible faces assume a look of almost contemptuous amazement.
Why should the "orang blanda"[1] thus discourteously jostle them? Are
there not many hours in a day, and many days to come after this? And do
they not know that "Haste cometh of the evil?"

[1] "People from Holland" the name for Europeans generally.

The train has started at last, and is hurrying through a wild, dreary
country, half jungle, half marshland. From the rank undergrowth of
brushwood and bulrushes rise clumps of cocoanut palms, their dark
shaggy crowns strangely massive above the meagre stems through which
the distant horizon gleams palely. In open spaces young trees stand out
here and there, half strangled in the festoons of a purple-blossomed
liana that trails its tendrilled length all over the lower shrub-wood.
Thickets of bamboo bend and sway in the evening wind.

To the right stretches a long straight canal, dull as lead under
the lustreless sky; the breeze, in passing, blackens the motionless
water, and a shiver runs through the dense vegetation along the
edge--broad-leaved bananas, the spreading fronds of the palmetto, and
mimosas of feathery leafage, above which the silver-grey tufts of
bulrushes rise. After a while the jungle diminishes and ceases; and a
vast reach of marshy country stretches away to the horizon. We neared
it as the sun was setting. Though it had not broken through the clouds,
the fiery globe had suffused their whiteness with a deep, dull purple
as of smouldering flames. A tremulous splendour suddenly shot over
the rush-beds and rank waving grasses of the marshy land; the shining
reed-pricked sheets of water crimsoned; and along the canal moving like
an incandescent lava stream, the broadly curving banana leaves seemed
fountains of purple light, and the palmetto and delicate mimosa fronds
grew transparent in the all-pervading rosiness--almost immaterial. Even
after the burning edge of the sun, perceived for a brief moment, had
sunk away, these marvellous colours did not fade; softly shining on
they seemed to be the natural tint of this wonderful land--independent
of suns and seasons. Then, all at once, they were extinguished by the
rapidly-fallen dusk, as a fire might be under a shower of ashes; and, a
few minutes after, it was night.

At the lamplit station of Batavia I hailed one of the vehicles waiting
outside--a curious little two-wheeled conveyance, which, with its
enormous lanterns, airily supported roof, and long shafts between
which a diminutive pony trotted, looked like a fiery-eyed cockchafer
that darts about, moving its long antennae. I hoisted myself on to
the sloping seat, and, for some time was driven through an avenue,
the trees on either side of which made a cloudy darkness against
the pale strip of sky overhead. There was an incessant high-pitched
twittering of birds among the leaves; and, every now and then, a
fragrance of invisible flowers came floating out on the windless air.
We passed a tall building, shimmering white through the darkness--the
Governor-General's palace I was told. Then the horse's hoofs clattered
over a bridge, and, past the turn of the road, a long row of brilliant
windows flashed up, with a white blaze of electric light in the

Past the resplendent shop-windows on the left side of the street--the
other remaining dark, featureless--a leisurely crowd moved; open
carriages, bearing ladies to some evening entertainment, bowled along;
a many-windowed club-building blazed out; a canal shone with a hundred
slender spears of reflected light--I had reached my destination, the
suburb of Rijswijk.






If, in this commonplace-loving age, there be one thing more commonplace
and utterly devoid of character than another, it is a hotel. Hotels!
where are railroads there are they. The locomotive scatters them
along its shining path together with cinders, thistleseeds, and
tourists. They are everywhere; and everywhere they are the same. The
proverbial peas are not so indistinguishably alike. Surely, a whimsical
imagination may be pardoned for fancying a difference between the pods
"shairpening" in some Scotch kailyard, the petits-pois coquettishly
arranged in Chevet's shop-window, and the Zuckererbsen mashed down to
a green pulse in some strong-jawed Prussian's plate--a difference, the
far and faint and fanciful analogy to the more obvious one between
the gudeman, the French chef, and the Königlich Preussischer Douanen
Beamten Gehilfe who own the said peas. But a hotel, on whatever part
of Europe it may open its dull window-eyes, has not even a name native
of the country, and declaring its citizenship. The genius of speech
despairs of making a difference in the name, where there is none in
the thing; and thus, from Orenburg to Valentia, and from Hammerfest
to Messina, a hôtel is still called a hôtel, and the traveller still
expects and finds the same Swiss portier and the same red velvet
portières, the same indescribable smell of sherry, stewed-meat,
and cigars in the passages, the same funereally-clad waiters round
the table d'hôte, and the same dishes upon it. Thus I thought in
my old European days. But, since, I have come to Java, and I have
seen a Batavia hotel--_a rumah makan_. Ah! that was a surprise, a
shock, a revelation--I would say "un frisson nouveau" if Batavia and
shivering were compatible terms. "Un étouffement nouveau" better
expressed my sensations, as it flashed upon me in full noon-day glory.
Noon is its own time, its hour of hours, the instant when those
opposing elements of Batavia street-life--the native population most
conspicuous of a morning, and the European contingent preponderant in
the evening--attain that exact equipoise which gives the place its
particular character; and when the conditions of sky, air, and earth
are attuned to truest harmony with it.

The great, strong, full noon-day sun beats on the stuccoed buildings,
heating their whiteness to an intolerable incandescence. It has set
the garden ablaze, burning up the long grey shadows of early morning
to round patches of a charred black, that cling to the foot of the
trees; and making the air to quiver visibly above the scorched yellow
grass-plots. Among their dark leafage, the hibiscus flowers flare
like living flame; and the red-and-orange blossoms, dropping from the
branches of the Flame of the Forest, seem to lie on the path like
smouldering embers. Through this blaze of light and colour, move
groups of gaudily-draped natives--water-carriers, flower-sellers,
fruit-vendors, pedlars selling silk and precious stones--their heads
protected from the sun by enormous mushroom-shaped hats of plaited
straw, and their shining shoulders bending under a bamboo yoke, from
the ends of which dangle baskets of merchandise. Small, brown, chubby
children, a necklet their one article of wear, are gathering the tiny,
yellow-white blossoms that bespangle the grass under the tanjong trees.
Grave-faced Arabs stride past. Chinamen trudge along--lean, agile
figures--chattering and gesticulating as they go.

[Illustration: "A seller of fruit and vegetables his baskets dangling
from the ends of a bamboo yoke."]

But, among the crowd of orientals, no Europeans are seen, save such
as rapidly pass in vehicles of every description, from the jolting
dos-à-dos onwards--with its diminutive pony almost disappearing between
the shafts--to the elegant victoria drawn by a pair of big Australian
horses. But, even when driving, the noon-day heat is dangerous to the
Westerner; and the European inmates of the hotel are all in the dark
cool verandahs, enjoying a dolce far niente enlivened by chaffering
with the natives and drinking iced lemonades, the ladies--here is
another surprise for the newcomer!--all attired in what seems to
be the native dress of sarong and kabaya! A kabaya is a sort of
dressing-jacket of profusely-embroidered white batiste, fastened down
the front with ornamental pins and little gold chains; and under it is
worn the sarong, a gaudily-coloured skirt falling down straight and
narrow, with one single deep fold in front, and kept in place by a silk
scarf wound several times round the waist, its ends dangling loose.
With this costume, little high-heeled slippers are worn on the bare
feet; and the hair is done in native style, simply drawn back from the
forehead, and twisted into a knot at the back of the head. Altogether,
this style of attire is original rather than becoming.

And, if this must be confessed of the ladies' costume, what must be
said of the garb some men have the courage to appear in? A kabaya,
and--may Mrs. Grundy graciously forgive me for saying it! for how
shall I describe the indescribable, save by calling it by its own
by me never-to-be-pronounced name?--A kabaya and trousers of thin
sarong-stuff gaily sprinkled with blue and yellow flowers, butterflies,
and dragons!

[Illustration: "Pine-apples and mangosteen, velvety rambootan and
smooth-skinned dookoo."]

But all this is only an induction into that supreme mystery, celebrated
at noon, the rice-table. Here is indeed, "un étouffement nouveau." All
things pertaining to it work together for bewilderment. To begin with;
it is served up, not in any ordinary dining-room, but in the "back
gallery," a place which is a sight in itself, a long and lofty hall,
supported on a colonnade, between the white pillars of which glimpses
are caught of the brilliantly-flowering shrubs and dark-leaved trees
in the garden without. In the second place, it is handed round by
native servants, inaudibly moving to and fro upon bare feet, arrayed
in clothes of a semi-European cut, incongruously combined with the
Javanese sarong and head-kerchief. And, last not least, the meal itself
is such as never was tasted on sea or land before. The principal dish
is rice and chicken, which sounds simple enough. But on this as a basis
an entire system of things inedible has been constructed: besides
fish, flesh, and fricassees, all manner of curries, sauces, pickles,
preserved fruit, salt eggs, fried bananas, "sambals" of fowl's liver,
fish-roe, young palm-shoots, and the gods of Javanese cookery alone
know what more, all strongly spiced, and sprinkled with cayenne. There
is nothing under the sun but it may be made into a sambal; and a
conscientious cook would count that a lost day on which he had not sent
in at the very least twenty of such nondescript dishes to the table of
his master, for whose digestion let all gentle souls pray! And, when to
all this I have added that these many and strange things must be eaten
with a spoon in the right hand and a fork in the left, the reader will
be able to judge how very complicated an affair the rice-table is, and
how easily the uninitiated may come to grief over it. For myself, I
shall never forget my first experience of the thing. I had just come in
from a ride through the town, and I suppose the glaring sunlight, the
strangely-accoutred crowd, the novel sights and sounds of the city must
have slightly gone to my head (there are plenty of intoxicants besides
"gin" _vide_ the Autocrat of the Breakfast Table). Anyhow, I entered
the "back gallery" with a sort of "here-the-conquering-hero-comes"
feeling; looked at the long table groaning under its dozens of
rice-bowls, scores of dishes of fowls and fish, and hundreds of
sambal-saucers, arrayed between pyramids of bananas, mangosteens, and
pine-apples, as if I could have eaten it all by way of "apéritif;"
sat me down; heaped my plate up with everything that came my way;
and fell to. What followed I have no words to express. Suffice it to
say, that in less time than I now take to relate it, I was reduced to
the most abject misery--my lips smarting with the fiery touch of the
sambal; my throat the more sorely scorched for the hasty draught of
water with which, in my ignorance, I had tried to allay the intolerable
heat; and my eyes full of tears, which it was all I could do to prevent
from openly gushing down my cheeks, in streams of utter misery. A
charitable person advised me to put a little salt on my tongue, (as
children are told to do on the tail of the bird they want to catch). I
did so; and, after a minute of the most excruciating torture, the agony
subsided. I gasped, and found I was still alive. But there and then I
vowed to myself I would never so much as look at a rice-table again.

[Illustration: "The big kalongs hanging from the topmost branches in a
sleep from which the sunset will presently awaken them."]

I have broken that vow: I say it proudly. It is but a dull mind which
cannot reverse a first opinion, or go back upon a hasty resolve. And
now I know _how_ to eat rice, I love it. Still, that first meal was a
shock. It suddenly brought home to the senses what up to that minute
had been noted by the understanding only: the fact of my being in a
new country. The glare of the garden without, the Malay sing-song of
those dark bare-footed servants, the nondescript clothes of the other
guests, united with the tingling and burning in my throat to make me
realise the stupendous change that had come over my universe, the
antipodal attitude of things in Europe and things in Java. I had the
almost bodily sensation of the intervening leagues upon leagues, of the
dividing chasm on the unknown side of which I had just landed. And it
fairly dizzied me.

Now, the natural reaction following upon a shock of this kind throws
one back upon the previous state of things--in the case the ways and
manners of the old country--and one stubbornly resolves to adhere to
them. But, though this may be natural, it is not wise. I, at least,
soon discovered for myself the truth of the old sage's saw: "Vérité
en deçà des Pyrénées, erreur en delà," as applied to the affairs of
everyday life; the more so, as oceans and broad continents, the space
of thousands of Pyrenean ranges, separate those hither and thither
sides, Holland and Java. The home-marked standard of fit and unfit
must be laid aside. The soul must doff her close-clinging habits of
prejudiced thought. And the wise man must be content to begin life over
again, becoming even as a babe and suckling, and opening cherub lips
only to drink in the light, the leisure, and the luxuriant beauty of
this new country as a rich mother's milk--the blameless food on which
to grow up to (colonial) manhood.

But to return to that first "rice-table." After the rice, curries,
etc. had been disposed of, beef and salad appeared, and, to my
infinite astonishment, were disposed of in their turn, to be followed
by the dessert--pine-apples, mangosteens, velvety "rambootans," and
an exceedingly picturesque and prettily-shaped fruit--spheres of a
pale gold containing colourless pellucid flesh--which I heard called
"dookoo." Then the guests began to leave the table, and I was told
it was time for the siesta--another Javanese institution, not a whit
less important, it would appear, than the famous rice-table--and
vastly more popular with newcomers. Perhaps, the preceding meal
possesses somniferous virtue; or, perhaps, the heat and glare of the
morning predispose one to sleep; or, perhaps--after so many years of
complaining about "being waked too soon"--the sluggard in us rejoices
at being bidden in the name of the natural fitness of things, to "go
and slumber again." I will not attempt to decide which of those three
possible causes is the true one; but so much is certain: even those who
kick most vigorously at the rice-table, lay them down with lamb-like
meekness to the siesta. I confess I was very glad myself to escape into
the coolness and quiet of my room. Plain enough it was, with its bare,
white-washed walls and ceiling, its red-tiled floor and piece of coarse
matting in the centre, its cane-bottomed chairs. But how I delighted in
the absence of carpets and wall-papers, when I found the stone floor so
deliciously cool to the feet, and the bare walls distilling a freshness
as of lily-leaves! The siesta lasted till about four. Then people began
to hurry past my window, with flying towels and beating slippers,
marching to the bath-rooms. And, at five, tea was brought into the

Then began the first moderately-cool hour of the day. A slight breeze
sprang up and wandered about in the garden, stirring the dense foliage
of the waringin-tree, and making its hundreds of pendulous air-roots
to gently sway to and fro. A shower of white blossom fluttered down
from the tanjong-branches, spreading fragrance as it fell. And, by and
by, a faint rosiness began to soften the crude white of the stuccoed
walls and colonnades, and to kindle the feathery little cirrus-clouds
floating high overhead, in the deep blue sky where the great "kalongs"
were already beginning to circle.

At six it was almost dark.

The loungers in the verandah rose from their tea, and went in. And,
some half-hour later, I saw the ladies issue forth in Paris-made
dresses, the men in the garb of society accompanying them on their
calls, for which I was told this was the hour. The "front gallery" of
the hotel, a spacious hall supported on pillars, was brilliantly lit.
A girl sat at the piano, accompanying herself to one of those weird,
thrilling songs such a Grieg and Jensen compose. And when I went in to
the eight-o'clock dinner, the menu for which might have been written
in any European hotel, I had some trouble in identifying the scene
with that which, earlier in the day, had so rudely shocked my European
ideas. I half believed the rice-table, the sarongs and kabayas, and
the Javanese "boys" must have been a dream, until I was convinced of
the contrary by the sight of a lean brown hand thrust out to change my
plate of fish for a helping of asparagus.





It is only for want of a better word that one uses this term of "town"
to designate that picturesque ensemble of villa-studded parks and
avenues, Batavia. There is, it is true, an older Batavia, grey, grim
and stony as any war-scarred city of Europe--the stronghold which the
steel-clad colonists of 1620 built on the ruins of burnt-down Jacatra.
But, long since abandoned by soldiers and peaceful citizens alike,
and its once stately mansions degraded to offices and warehouses, it
has sunk into a mere suburb--the business quarter of Batavia--alive
during a few hours of the day only, and sinking back into a death-like
stillness, as soon as the rumble of the last down-train has died away
among its echoing streets. And the real Batavia--in contradistinction
to which this ancient quarter is called "the town"--is as unlike it as
if it had been built by a different order of beings.

It is best described as a system of parks and avenues, linked by many
a pleasant byway and shadowy path, with here and there a glimpse of
the Kali Batawi gliding along between the bamboo groves on its banks,
and everywhere the whiteness of low, pillared houses, standing well
back from the road, each in its own leafy garden. Instead of walls, a
row of low stone pillars, not much higher than milestones, separates
private from public grounds, so that from a distance one cannot see
where the park ends and the street begins. The shadow of the tall
trees in the avenue keeps the garden cool, and the white dust of the
road is sprinkled with the flowers that lie scattered over the smooth
grass-plots and shell-strewn paths of the villa.

Among the squares of Batavia, the largest and most remarkable by far is
the famous Koningsplein. It is not so much a square as simply a field,
vast enough to build a city on, dotted from place to place by pasturing
cattle, and bordered on the four sides of its irregular quadrangle by
a triple row of branching tamarinds. From the southern distance two
aerial mountain-tops overlook it. The brown bare expanse of meadowy
ground, lying thus broadly open to the sky, with nothing but clouds and
cloudlike hill-tops rising above its distant rampart of trees, seems
like a tract of untamed wilderness, strangely set in the midst of a
city, and all the more savage and lonely for these smooth surroundings.
Between the stems of the delicate-leaved tamarinds, glimpses are caught
of gateways and pillared houses; the eastern side of the quadrangle
is disfigured by a glaring railway-station; and, notwithstanding,
it remains a rugged solitary spot, a waste, irreclaimably barren,
which, by the sheer strength of its unconquered wildness, subdues its
environment to its own mood. The houses, glinting between the trees,
seem mere accidents of the landscape, simply heaps of stones; the
glaring railway-station itself sinks into an indistinct whiteness,
dissociated from any idea of human thought and enterprise.

[Illustration: "A triple row of branching tamarinds."]

[Illustration: "The idyllic Duke's park, very shadowy, fragrant, and

Now and then a native traverses the field, slowly moving along an
invisible track. He does not disturb the loneliness. He is indigenous
to the place, its natural product, almost as much as the cicadas
trilling among the grass blades, the snakes darting in and out among
the crevices of the sun-baked soil, and the lean cattle, upon whose
backs the crows perch. There is but one abiding power and presence
here--the broad brown field under the broad blue sky, shifting shades
and splendours over it, and that horizon of sombre trees all around.

This vast sweep of sky gives the Plein a tone and atmosphere of its
own. The changes in the hour and the season that are but guessed at
from some occasional glimpse in the street, are here fully revealed.
The light may have been glaring enough among the whitewashed houses
of Ryswyk and Molenvliet--it is on the Plein only that tropical
sunshine manifests itself in the plenitude of its power. The great sun
stands flaming in the dizzy heights; from the scorched field to the
incandescent zenith the air is one immense blaze, a motionless flame in
which the tall tamarinds stand sere and grey, the grass shrivels up to
a tawny hay, and the bare soil stiffens and cracks.--The intolerable
day is past. People, returning home from the town, see a roseate
sheen playing over roofs and walls, a long crimson cloud sailing high
overhead. Those walking on the Plein behold an apocalyptic heaven and a
transfigured earth, a firmamental conflagration, eruptions of scarlet
flame through incarnadined cloud, runnels of fire darting across the
melting gold and translucent green of the horizon; hill-tops changed
into craters and tall trees into fountains of purple light. And many
are the nights, when, becoming aware of a dimness in the moonlit air,
I have hastened to the Koningsplein, and found it whitely waving
with mist, a very lake of vapour, fitfully heaving and sinking in the
uncertain moonlight, and rolling airy waves against a shore of darkness.

[Illustration: "The Business-quarter of Batavia."]

The seasons, too--how they triumph in this bit of open country! When,
after the devouring heat of the East monsoon, the good gift of the
rains is poured down from the heavens, and the town knows of nothing
but impracticable streets, flooded houses, and crumbling walls, it is
a time of resurrection and vernal glory for the Plein. The tamarinds,
gaunt gray skeletons a few days ago, burst into full-leaved greenness;
the hard, white, cracked soil is suddenly covered with tender grass,
fresh as the herbage of an April meadow under western skies. In the
early morning, the broad young blades are white with dew. There is a
thin silvery haze in the air, which dissolves into a pink and golden
radiance, as the first slanting sunbeams pierce it. And the tree tops,
far off and indistinct, seem to rise airily over hollows of blue shade.

[Illustration: "A footsore Klontong trudging wearily along."]

Not far from the Koningsplein there is another square, its very
opposite in aspect and character--the idyllic Duke's Park very shadowy,
fragrant, and green. One walks in it as in a poet's dream. All around
there is the multitudinous budding and blossoming of many-coloured
flowers, a play of transparent bamboo-shadows that flit and shift over
smooth grassplot and shell-strewn path, a ceaseless alternation of
glooms and glories. Set amidst tall dark trees, whose topmost branches
break out into a flame of blossom, there stands a white pillared
building, palace-like in the severe grace of its architecture. Is it
the Renaissance style of those gleaming columns and marble steps,
or that name of "the Duke's Park," or both, that stir up the fancy
to thoughts of some sixteenth-century Italian pleasaunce, such as
Shakespeare loved as a setting for his love-stories? A Duke as gentle
as his prince of Illyria, Olivia's sighing lover, might have walked
these glades, listening to disguised Viola as, all unsuspectedly, she
wooed him from his forlorn allegiance.

The irony of facts has willed it otherwise.

[Illustration: The Chinese quarter.]

A duke it was, sure enough, who stood sponsor to the spot. But as
(according to French authorities) there are fagots and fagots, even
so there are Dukes and Dukes--and vastly more points of difference
than of resemblance between Viola's gentle prince, and the thunderous
old Lord of Saxen-Weimar, to whose rumbling Kreuzdonnerwetters and
Himmel-Sakraments this abode of romance re-echoed some fifty years ago.
A distant relative to the King of the Netherlands, he was indebted
to his Royal kinsman's sense of family duty for these snug quarters,
a very considerable income (from the National Treasury) and the post
of an Army Commander, which upheld the prince in the pensioner. His
tastes were few and simple, and saving the one delight of his soul,
a penurious youth, and the hardships of the Napoleonic supremacy
having so thoroughly taught him the habit, that it had become a second
nature to him; and would not be ousted now by the mere fact of his
having become rich. He was proud of his parsimony too, prouder even
than of his swearing, remarkable as it was; and, amidst the pomp and
circumstance he had so late in life attained to, neglected not the
humble talents which had solaced his less affluent days. So that,
looking upon the many goodly acres around his palace, lying barren
of all save grass, flowers, blossoming trees, and such like useless
stuff, he at once saw what an unique opportunity it would afford him
for the exercise of his favourite virtue. And, setting about the matter
in his own thorough-going way, he cut down the trees, ploughed up the
grassplots, and had the grounds neatly laid out in onion-beds, and
plantations of the sirih, which the Javanese loves. Here one might meet
the Duke of a morning--a portly, bald-pated, red-faced old warrior with
a prodigious "meerschaum" protruding from his bristling white beard,
stars, crosses, and goldlace all over his general's uniform, and a pair
of list slippers on his rheumatic old toes. An orderly walked behind
him, holding a gold-edged sunshade over his shining pate. And, every
now and then, the Duke would stop to look earnestly at his crops; and,
stooping with a groaning of his flesh, and a creaking of his tight
tunic, straighten some trailing plant, or flick an insect off the sirih

                  "The Duke was in his kitchen-garden,
                       A counting of his money,"

as one might vary the nursery rhyme.

[Illustration: "The West monsoon has set in, flooding the town."]

For money it was he counted, when he gazed so long and earnestly at his
vegetables--the alchemy of his thrifty imagination turning every young
stalk and sprouting leaflet into a bit of metal, adorned with his Royal
kinsman's effigy. And when the green pennies-to-be were plentiful,
well content was the gardener; and if not--"Mountains and vales and
floods, heard Ye those oaths?" Tradition has kept an echo of them.
They were something quite out of the common order, and with a style
and sound so emphatically their own as to baffle imitation, and render
description a hopeless task.

[Illustration: "The Kali Batawi on its way through the Chinese

Nor did this originality wear off as, in the course of time, the worthy
Duke began to forget the language of the Fatherland. For, losing his
German, he found not his Dutch, and the expressions he composed out
of such odds and ends of the two languages, as he could lay tongue
to, would have astonished the builders of Babel Tower. Fortunately,
however, his anger was as short-lived as it was violent, and, when the
last thunderclap of Kreuzmillionen Himmels Donnerwetter had gradually
died away in an indistinct grumbling, he would summon his attendant
for a light to rekindle his pipe with a "come now, thou black pigdog"
that sounded quite friendly. A kind-hearted old blusterer at bottom,
he treated his dependents well and never sent away a beggar pennyless.
"Doitless" I should have written, for his donations never exceeded that

There is a tale of an A. D. C., his appointed almoner for the time,
having one day come to him with a subscription-list on which the
customary doit figured as His Serene Highness the Duke of Saxen
Weimar's contribution; and hinting at what he considered the
disproportion between the exiguity of the gift, and the wealth and
worldly station of the giver. He must have been a very rash A. D. C.
The Duke turned upon him like a savage bull. And, after a volley of
oaths: "Too little!" he roared: "Too little!" and again, "Too little! I
would have you know, younker! that a doit is a great deal when one has
nothing at all!"

It was a cry de profundis--laughable and half contemptible as it
sounded, the echo from unforgotten depths of misery.

He had known what it meant "to have nothing at all." Wherefore, and
for those winged words in which he uttered the knowledge, let his
onion-beds be forgiven him. Of the outrage he committed, only the
memory is left--the effects have long since been obliterated: bountiful
tropical nature having again showered her treasures of leaf and flower
over the beggared garden, and re-erected in their places the green
towers of her trees.

[Illustration: Entrance to a rich Chinaman's House.]

Rijswijk, Noordwijk, and Molenvliet, the commercial quarters of
Batavia, are more European in aspect than the Koningsplein; the
houses--shops for the most part--are built in straight rows; a pavement
borders the streets, and a noisy little steam-car pants and rattles
past from morning till night. But, with these European traits, Javanese
characteristics mingle, and the resulting effect is a most curious
one, somewhat bewildering withal to the new-comer in its mixture of
the unknown with the familiar. Absolutely commonplace shops are
approached through gardens, the pavement is strewn with flowers of the
flame-of-the-forest: and, at the street-corners, instead of cabs, one
finds the nondescript sadoo, its driver, gay in a flowered muslin vest
and a gaudy headkerchief, squatting cross-legged on the back seat.
Noordwijk is unique, an Amsterdam "gracht" in a tropical setting.
Imagine a long straight canal, a gleam of green-brown water between
walls of reddish masonry--spanned from place to place by a bridge,
and shaded by the softly-tinted leafage of tamarinds; on either side
a wide, dusty road, arid gardens, sweltering in the sun, and glaring
white bungalows; the fiery blue of the tropical sky over it all.
Gaudily-painted "praos" glide down the dark canal; native women pass up
and down the flight of stone steps that climbs from the water's edge to
the street, a flower stuck into their gleaming hair, still wet from the
bath; the tribe of fruitvendors and sellers of sweet drinks and cakes
have established themselves along the parapet, in the shade of the
tamarinds; and the native crowd, coming and going all day long, makes a
kaleidoscopic play of colours along the still dark water.

From the little station at the corner of Noordwijk and Molenvliet,
a steam-car runs along the canal down to the suburbs; every quarter
of an hour it comes past, puffing and rattling; and every time the
third-class compartment is choking full of natives. The fever and the
fret of European life have seized upon these leisurely Orientals too.
They have abandoned their sirih-chewing and day-dreaming upon the
square of matting in the cool corner of the house, the dusty path along
which they used to trudge in Indian file, when there was an urgent
necessity for going to market; and behold them all perched upon this
"devil's engine," where they cannot even sit down in the way they
were taught to, "hurkling on their hunkers."

[Illustration: "A glimpse of the river as it glides along between the
bamboo groves of its margins."]

The skippers and raftsmen are more conservative in their ways--owing,
perhaps, to their constant communion with the deliberate stream, which
saunters along on its way from the hills to the sea, at its own pace.
They take life easily; paddling along over the shifting shallows and
mud-banks of the Kali (river) in the same leisurely way their forbears
did; conveying red tiles, bricks, and earthenware in flat-bottomed
boats; or pushing along rafts of bamboo-stems, which they have felled
in the wood up-stream. As they come floating down the canal, these
rafts of green bamboo, with the thin tips curving upwards like tails
and stings of venomous insects, have a fantastical appearance of
living, writhing creatures, which the native raftsman seems to be for
ever fighting with his long pole. After dark, when the torch at the
prow blazes out like the single baleful eye of the monstrous thing,
the day-dream deepens into a nightmare. And, shuddering, one remembers
ghastly legends of river-dragons and serpents that haunt the sea,
swimming up-stream to ravish some wretched mortal.

The native boats appeal to merrier thoughts. With the staring
white-and-black goggle eyes painted upon the prow, and the rows of red,
yellow, and green lozenges arranged like scales along the sides, they
remind one irresistibly of grotesque fishes for those big children,
the Javanese, to play with--at housekeeping. For keep house they do in
their boats. They eat, drink, sleep, and live in the prao. A roof of
plaited bamboo leaves helps to make the stern into the semblance of a
hut; and here, whilst the owner pushes along the floating home by means
of a long pole and a deal of apparent exertion, his wife sits cooking
the rice for the family meal over a brazier full of live coals; and
the children tumble about in happy nakedness. Javanese babies, by
the way, always seem happy. What do they amuse themselves with, one
wonders? They do not seem to know any games, and playthings they have
none, except the tanjong-flowers they make necklaces of, and perchance
some luckless cockroach, round whose hindmost leg they tie a thread to
make him walk the way he should. Their parents, Mohammedan orthodoxy
debars them from the society of their natural companions--dogs; and, as
for cats, that last resource of unamused childhood in Europe, they hold
them sacred, and would not dare to lay a playful hand upon one of them.
Yet, there they are--plaything-less, naked, and supremely happy.

Their parents, for the matter of that, are exactly the same; they
seem perfectly happy without any visible and adequate cause for such
content. As long as they are not dying--and one sometimes doubts if
Javanese die at all--all is well with them. The race has a special
genius for happiness, the free gift of those same inscrutable powers
who have inflicted industry, moral sense, and the overpowering desire
for clothes upon the unfortunate nations of the North.

Following the left-ward bend of the canal, past the sluice, and
the Post Office,--the most hideous structure by the bye that ever
disfigured a decent street--one comes to the bridge of Kampong Bahru;
and, crossing it, suddenly finds oneself in what seems another
quarter of the globe. Tall narrow houses, quaintly decorated and
crowned with red-tiled roofs, that flame out against the contrasting
azure of the sky, stand in close built rows; the wide street is
full of jostling carts and vans, fairly humming with traffic; and
the people move with an energy and briskness never seen among
Javanese. This is the Chinese quarter. There are three or four such
in the town, inhabited by Chinese exclusively. This habit of herding
together--though now a matter of choice with the Celestials--is the
survival of a time when Batavia had its "camp" as mediæval Italian
cities had their Ghetto: a period no further back than the beginning of
the last century.

[Illustration: Procession at the funeral of a rich Chinaman.]

[Illustration: Funeral Procession on its way to the Chinese Cemetery.]

[Illustration: Burning of symbolical figures at a Chinese funeral.]

At that time, when Chinese immigration threatened to become a danger
to the colony, the then Governor-General, Valckenier, took some
measures against the admittance of destitute Chinese, which, however
well-designed, were so clumsily executed as to spread the rumour
that the Government intended to deport even the Chinese residents of
Batavia. A panic broke out among them, and then a revolt, in which they
were soon joined by their countrymen from all over the island. After a
desperate struggle, atrocities innumerable both suffered and inflicted,
a siege sustained, and an attack of fifty and odd thousand beaten back
by their two thousand men, the Hollanders succeeded in putting down the
rebellion, and the enemy fled to the woods and swamps of the lowlands
around Batavia. A few months later, however, a general amnesty having
been granted, such of them as had escaped from famine and jungle-fever
returned, and a special quarter was assigned to them, where it would
be easy both to protect and to control them. There they have since
continued to live.

[Illustration: "The deliberate stream sauntering along at its own pace
on its way from the hills to the sea."]

The houses of some rich Chinamen in the Kampong Bahru neighbourhood
are truly splendid; the most modest ones still have an air of comfort.
According to the ideas of the inhabitants, there are none absolutely
squalid. All these houses are, at the same time, shops. They are, in a
way, wonderful people, these sons of the Celestial Empire, merchants,
in one way or other, all of them. There is, of course, a difference.
There is the foot-sore "klontong" trudging trough the weary streets
all day, and shaking his rattle as he goes, to advertise the reels of
cotton and the cakes of soap in his wallet; and, again, there is the
portly millionaire, who entertains army officers and civil servants
in his own profusely-decorated mansion; but the difference is one in
degree only, not in kind. Amid the pomp and circumstance of the one
condition, and the squalor of the other, the individualities are the
same, the attitude of mind and the habits of thought identical, the sum
and substance of a Chinaman's life in Java being expressed in "the
making of bargains." He could as soon leave off breathing as leave off
buying and selling; trading seems to be his natural function. And this,
one fancies, is the great difference between his race and ours; and
the true secret of their superiority as money-makers. A Caucasian, if
he is a merchant, is so with a certain part of his being only--during
certain hours of the day, in his own office. A Chinaman is a merchant
with his whole heart, his whole soul, and his whole understanding, a
merchant always and everywhere, from his cradle to his grave, at table,
at play, over his opium-pipe, in his temple. Trade is the element in
which he lives, moves, and has his being. His thoughts might be noted
in figures. The world is to him one vast opportunity for making money,
and all things in it are articles of trade; which, in Chinese, means
gain to him, and loss to everybody else. He has few wants, infinite
resources, and the faith (in himself) that removeth trading towns.
Small wonder if he succeeds.

I fancy it would be quite a practical education in the principles of
business, to watch the career of one of these Chinamen, from the hour
of his arrival at Tanjong Priok onward. At first, you see him trudging
along with a wallet, containing soap, sewing cotton, combs, and
matches. After a few months, you find him in your compound surrounded
by the whole of your domestic staff, to whom he is selling sarong
cloth and thin silks. When a year has gone by, a coolie trudges at his
heels panting under a load of wares, the samples of which he subjects
to your approval with the most correct of bows. Have but patience, and
you will find him in a diminutive shop, where somehow he finds place
for a settee in the corner, a mirror on the wall, and all around such a
collection of articles as might fitly be termed an epitome of material
civilization. Nor does he stop in that tiny shop. A few years later,
he will be taking his ease behind the counter of a spick-and-span
establishment in the camp; and, if, by chance, you get a glimpse of his
wife, you will be astonished at the size of the diamonds in her shiny
coil of hair. Our friend is on the high road to prosperity now, which
leads to a big house separate from the shop. Before he is fairly fifty,
he has built it, high and spacious, with an altar to the gods and to
the spirits of his ancestors set in the midst of it, and a profusion
of fine carving and gilding, of embroidered hangings and lacquered
woodwork all around. He will invite you for the New Year's festivities
now, and, if your wife accompanies you, introduce you to his spouse,
resplendent as the rainbow in many-tinted brocades, and more thickly
covered with diamonds than the untrodden meadow with the dews of a
midsummer night. He talks about the funeral of his honoured father,
which cost him upward of three thousand pounds sterling; and he will
ask your advice, over the pine-apples and the champagne, about sending
his son to Europe in one of his own ships, that the youth may see
something of the world, and, if he so list, be entered as a student at
the famous university of Leijden.




"It is the North which has introduced tight-fitting clothes and high
houses." Thus Taine, as, in the streets of Pompeii, he gazed at
nobly-planned peristyle and graceful arch, at godlike figures shining
from frescoed walls, and, with the vision of that fair, free, large
life of antiquity, contrasted the Paris apartment from which he was but
newly escaped, and the dress-coat which he had worn at the last social
function. And a similar reflection crosses the Northerner's mind when
he looks upon a house in Batavia.

I am aware that Pompeii and Batavia, pronounced in one breath, make a
shrieking discord, and that, between a homely white-washed bungalow,
and those radiant mansions which the ancients built of white marble
and blue sky, the comparison must seem preposterous. And, yet, no one
can see the two, and fail to make it. The resemblance is too striking.
The flat roof, the pillared entrance, the gleam of the marble-paved
hall, whose central arch opens on the reposeful shadow of the inner
chambers, all these features of a classic dwelling are recognized in
a Batavia house. Evidently, too, this resemblance is not the result of
mere mechanical imitation. There are a consistency and thoroughness
in the architecture of these houses, a harmony with the surrounding
landscape, which stamp it as an indigenous growth, the necessary
result of the climate, and the mode of life in Java, just as classic
architecture was the necessary result of the climate and the mode of
life in Greece and Italy. If the two styles are similar, it is because
the ideas which inspired them are not so vastly different. After all,
in a sunny country, whether it be Europe or Asia, the great affair of
physical life is to keep cool, and the main idea of the architect,
in consequence, will be to provide that coolness. It is this which
constitutes a resemblance between countries in all other respects so
utterly unlike as Greece and Java, and the difference between these
and Northern Europe. In the North, the human habitation is a fortress
against the cold; in the South and the East, it is a shelter from the

There is no need here of thick walls, solid doors, casements of
impermeable material, all the barricades which the Northerner throws
up against the besieging elements. In Italy, as in Greece, Nature is
not inimical. The powers of sun, wind, and rain are gracious to living
things, and under their benign rule man lives as simply and confidingly
as his lesser brethren, the beasts of the fields and forests and
the birds of the air. He has no more need than they to hedge in his
individual existence from the vast life that encompasses it. His
clothes, when he wears them, are an ornament rather than a protection,
and his house a place, not of refuge, but of enjoyment, a cool and
shadow spot, as open to the breeze as the forest, whose flat spreading
branches, supported on stalwart stems, seem to have been the model
for its column-borne roof.

[Illustration: "Compound" of a Batavia house.]

The Batavia house, then, is built on the classic plan. Its entrance
is formed by a spacious loggia, raised a few steps above the level
ground, and supported on columns. Thence, a door, which stands open
all day long, leads into a smaller inner hall, on either side of which
are bedrooms, and behind this is another loggia--even more spacious
than the one forming the entrance of the house--where meals are taken
and the hot hours of the day are spent. Generally, a verandah runs
around the whole building, to beat off both the fierce sunshine of the
hot, and the cataracts of rain of the wet, season. Behind the house
is a garden, enclosed on three sides by the buildings containing the
servants' quarters, the kitchen and store rooms, the bath-rooms, and
stables. And, at some distance from the main building and connected
with it by a portico, stands a pavilion, for the accommodation of
guests;--for the average Netherland-Indian is the most hospitable of
mortals, and seldom without visitors, whether relatives, friends, or
even utter strangers, who have come with an introduction from a common
acquaintance in Holland.

It takes some time, I find, to get quite accustomed to this arrangement
of a house. In the beginning of my stay here, I had an impression
of always being out of doors and of dining in the public street,
especially at night, when in the midst of a blaze of light one felt
oneself an object of attention and criticism to every chance passer-by
in the darkness without. It was as bad as at the ceremonious meals of
the Kings of France, who had their table laid out in public, that their
faithful subjects might behold them at the banquet, and, one supposes,
satisfy their own hunger by the Sovereign's vicarious dining.

In time, however, as the strangeness of the situation wears off, one
realises the advantage of these spacious galleries to walled-in rooms,
and very gladly sacrifices the sentiment of privacy to the sensation of

For to be cool, or not to be cool, that is the great question, and all
things are arranged with a view to solving it in the most satisfactory
manner possible. For the sake of coolness, one has marble floors or
Javanese matting instead of carpets, cane-bottomed chairs and settees
in lieu of velvet-covered furniture, gauze hangings for draperies of
silks and brocade. The inner hall of almost every house, it is true, is
furnished in European style--exiles love to surround themselves with
remembrances of their far-away home. But, though very pretty, this room
is generally empty of inhabitants, except, perhaps, for an hour now
and then, during the rainy season. For, in this climate, to sit in a
velvet chair is to realize the sensations of Saint Laurence, without
the sustaining consciousness of martyrdom.--For the sake of coolness
again, one gets up at half-past five, or six, at the very latest,
keeps indoors till sunset, sleeps away the hot hours of the afternoon
on a bed which it requires experience and a delicate sense of touch
to distinguish from a deal board, and spends the better part of one's
waking existence in the bath room.

[Illustration: The servants' kitchen.]

Now, a bath in Java is a very different thing from the dabbling among
dishes in a bedroom, which Europeans call by that name, even if their
dishes attain the dimensions of a tub. Ablutions such as these are
performed as a matter of duty; a man gets into his tub as he gets into
his clothes, because to omit doing so would be indecent. But bathing
in the tropics is a pure delight, a luxury for body and soul--a dip
into the _Fountaine de Jouvence_, almost the "cheerful solemnity and
semi-pagan act of worship," which the donkey-driving Traveller through
the Cevennes performed in the clear Tarn. A special place is set apart
for it, a spacious, cool, airy room in the outbuildings, a "chamber
deaf to noise, and all but blind to light." Through the gratings over
the door, a glimpse of sky and waving branches is caught. The marble
floor and whitewashed walls breathe freshness, the water in the stone
reservoir is limpid and cold as that of a pool that gleams in rocky
hollows. And, as the bather dips in his bucket, and send the frigid
stream pouring over him, he washes away, not heat and dust alone, but
weariness and vexatious thought in a purification of both body and
soul, and he understands why all Eastern creeds have exalted the bath
into a religious observance.

Like the often-repeated bath, the rice table is a Javanese institution,
and its apologists claim equal honours for it as an antidote to
climatic influences. I confess I do not hold so high an opinion of
its virtues, but I have fallen a victim to its charms. I love it but
too well. And there lies the danger, everybody likes it far too much,
and, especially, likes far too much of it. It is, humanly speaking,
impossible to partake of the rice table, and not to grossly overeat
oneself. There is something insidious about its composition, a cunning
arrangement of its countless details into a whole so perfectly
harmonious that it seems impossible to leave out a single one. If you
have partaken of one dish, you must partake of the rest, unless you
would spoil all. Fowl calls to fowl, and fish answers fish, and all the
green things that are on the table, aye, and the red and the yellow
likewise, have their appointed places upon your plate. You may try to
escape consequences by taking infinitesimal pinches of each, but many
a mickle makes a muckle, and your added teaspoonfuls soon swell to a
heaped-up plate, such as well might stagger the stoutest appetite. Yet,
even before you have recovered from your surprise, you find you have
finished it all. I do not pretend to explain, I merely state the fact.

Records have survived of those Pantagruelic feasts with which the great
ones of the mediæval world delighted to celebrate the auspicious events
of their lives, and the chronicler never fails to sum up the almost
interminable list of the spices and essences with which the cook, on
the advice of learned physicians, seasoned the viands, in order that,
whilst the grosser meats satisfied the animal cravings of the stomach,
those ethereal aromatics might stimulate the finer fluids, whose ebb
and flow controls the soul, and the well-flavoured dishes might not
only be hot on men's tongues but eke "prick them in their courages."
They pricked to some purpose, it seems. And, if the spice-sated
Netherlands-Indian is a comparatively law-abiding man, it must be
because battening rice counteracts maddening curry. But for this
providential arrangement, I fully believe he would think no more of
battle, murder, and sudden death than of an indigestion, and consider a
good dinner as an ample explanation of both.

Now, as to what they clothe themselves withal. Taine's opinion
concerning tight fitting clothes has been mentioned--viz: that they
are an invention of the North. A fortnight in Batavia will explain and
prove the theory better than many books by many philosophers; and,
moreover, cause the most sartorially-minded individual to consign the
"invention" to a place hotter than even Java. Like the habitations, the
habits of European civilization are irksome in the tropics; and, for
indoor-wear at least, they have suffered a sun-change into something
cool and strange--into native costume modified in fact. Now, the
outward apparel of the Javanese consists of a long straight narrow
skirt "the sarong" with a loose fitting kind of jacket over it,--short
for the men, who call it "badjoo," and longer for the women who wear
it as "kabaya": which garments have been adopted by the Hollanders,
with the one modification of the sarong into a "divided skirt" for
the men, and the substitution of white batiste and embroidery for the
coloured stuffs of which native women make their kabayas, in the case
of the ladies. On the Javanese, a small, spare, slightly-made race,
the garb sits not ungracefully; narrow and straight as it is, it goes
well with contours so attenuated. But on the sturdier Hollander the
effect is something appalling. An adequate description of the men's
appearance in it would read like a caricature; and though, with the
help of harmonious colours and jewellery, the women look better when
thus attired, the dress is not becoming to them either, at least in
non-colonial eyes. The æsthetic sense shies and kicks out at the sight
of those straight, hard, unnatural lines. Modern male costume has been
held up to ridicule as a "system of cylinders". The sarong and kabaya
combine to form one single cylinder, which obliterates all the natural
lines and curves of the feminine form divine, and changes a woman into
a parti-coloured pillar, for an analogy to which one's thoughts revert
to Lot's wife. But, though utterly condemned from an artistic point of
view, from a practical one it must be acquitted, and even commended. In
a country where the temperature ranges between 85° and 95° Fahrenheit
in the shade, cool clothes which can be changed several times a day,
are a condition not merely of comfort, but of absolute cleanliness and
decency, not to mention hygiene. For it is a noteworthy fact that the
women, who wear colonial dress up to six in the evening, stand the
climate better than the men, who, in the course of things, wear it
during an hour or an hour and a half at most, in the day. And it must
be admitted that both men and women enjoy better health in Java,
under this colonial regime of dressing than in the British possessions,
where they cling to the fashions of Europe.

[Illustration: Native Servants.]

As for the children, they are clad even more lightly than their elders,
in what the Malay calls "monkey-trousers", chelana monjet, a single
garment, which, only just covering the body, leaves the neck, arms, and
legs bare. It is hideous, and they love it. In German picture-books one
sees babes similarly accoutred riding on the stork, that brings them to
their expectant parents. Perhaps, after all, monkey-trousers are the
paradisiacal garment of babes; and it is a Wordsworthian recollection
of this fact, that makes them cling to the costume so tenaciously.

One cannot speak of an "Indian" child, and forget the "babu," the
native nurse, who is its ministering spirit, its dusky guardian angel,
almost its Providence. All day long, she carries her little charge
in her long "slendang," the wide scarf, which deftly slung about her
shoulders, makes a sort of a hammock for the baby. She does not like
even the mother to take it away from her; feeds it, bathes it, dresses
it prettily, takes it out for a walk, ready, at the least sign, to lift
it up again into its safe nest close to her heart. She plays with it,
not as a matter of duty, but as a matter of pleasure, throwing herself
into the game with enjoyment and zest, like the child she is at heart;
so that the two may be seen quarrelling sometimes, the baby stamping
its feet and the babu protesting with the native cluck of indignant
remonstrance, and an angry "Terlalu!" "it is too bad!" And, at night,
when she has crooned the little one to sleep, with one of those
plaintive monotonous melodies in a minor key, which seem to go on for
ever, like a rustling of reeds and forest leaves whilst the crickets
are trilling their evensong, she spreads her piece of matting on the
floor, and lies down in front of the little bed, like a faithful dog
guarding its master's slumbers.

As for the other servants, their name is Legion. A colonial household
requires a very numerous domestic staff. Even families with modest
incomes employ six or seven servants, and ten is by no means an
exceptional number. The reason for this apparent extravagance is, that,
though the Javanese is not lazy--as he often and unjustly is accused
of being--yet he is so slow, that the result practically is the same,
and one needs two or even three native servants, for work which one
Caucasian would despatch in the same time.

All these have their own quarters in the "compound" and their own
families in those quarters; they go "into the house" as a man would go
to his office; coming home for meals, and entertaining their friends
in the evening, on their own square of matting, and with their own
saffron-tinted rice, and syrup-sweetened coffee.

Such then, is the setting of every-day existence in Java.

As for the central fact, it is less interesting than its circumstances,
in so far as it is more familiar. The three or four great conceptions
which determine the home-life of a people--its ideas social, ethical,
and religious concerning the relations between parent and child,
and between men and women--are too deeply ingrained into its mental
substance to be affected by any merely outward circumstances.
Therefore, home-life among the Hollanders in Java, is essentially
the same as among Hollanders in their own country. Still there is
difference, that it has more physical comfort, and less intellectual
interest. The climate, it seems to me, is in a high degree responsible
for both these facts.

[Illustration: Native gardener.]

A continual temperature of about 90 degrees is not favourable to the
growth of the finer faculties, in Northerner's brains at least. The
little band of eminent men who have gone up from Java to shine in Dutch
Universities must be regarded as a signal exception to a very general
rule. Besides, the heat is so grave an addition to the already heavy
burden of the day, that one requires all one's energies, both of body
and soul, to conscientiously discharge one's ordinary duties; and
there is no surplus left to devote to literary, artistic, or scientific
pursuits. There are no theatres, no operas, no concerts, no lectures,
no really good newspapers, even, in Java. There could not be, where
there is so little active public life. So that a man's one relaxation
after a hard day's work--unless he looks at dances and dinners in that
light--must be found in his own house.

One continually hears the phrase in the East, "our house is our life."
Naturally, therefore, the house is made as pleasant as possible, and
as comfortable, not to say luxurious. Incomes are proportionately very
much higher in Java than in Holland--without financial advantage as
an incentive nobody would accept life under tropical conditions--and
the better part of the money is spent on good living in the majority
of cases. Even families of comparatively moderate means have a roomy
house, a sufficient domestic staff, and keep a carriage and a good

And as to the heat, which assuredly is a discomfort, and no trifling
one, the accepted mode of life does much to palliate it, not only by
the regime of housing, feeding, and dressing, but almost as much by the
way the day is divided. Work is begun early, so as to get as much as
possible done in the cool hours; between nine and five everybody keeps
indoors; and those who can snatch an hour of leisure after the one
o'clock rice-table, spend it in a siesta. Only in the early morning,
and in the evening does one see Europeans about. Not even the greatest
enthusiast for cricket and tennis dare begin games earlier than
half-past four.

Formerly this was different.

On old engravings, one may see the tall sombre houses which the first
colonists built on those "grachts" now long since demolished. One
may mark them walking home from a three hours' sermon in broadcloth
mantles, and velvet robes, giving solemn entertainments in their trim
gardens along the canal, with the sun in noon-day glory over-head,
and generally ignoring the trifling differences between Amsterdam and
Batavia. They fought very valiantly for their ancestral customs; but
very few returned to tell of the fight.

[Illustration: Native footboy.]

Since, people have reflected that a live Netherland-Indian is better
then a dead Hollander. And, giving up a fight, in which defeat was
all but certain, and success worse than useless, they have effected a
compromise with the climate. In Java they do as Java does, from sunrise
to sunset. But, with the congenial cool of the evening, they resume
their national existence, the garb, the manners and the customs of
Holland. At seven there is a general "va et vient" of open carriages
bearing women in light dresses, and men in correct black-and-white to a
"reception" in some brilliantly-lighted house; and for a few hours, the
life of Home is lived again.

Outside is the black tropical night, heavy with the scent of invisible
blossoms, pricked here and there by the yellow spark of some trudging
fruitvendor's oilwick. The small fragment of Europe with that
tall-colonnaded marble-paved loggia, with its gliding figures of men
and women, is, stands an Island of Light among the waveless seas of

[Illustration: Sacred gun near the Amsterdam gate, Batavia.]




The social life of Batavia has a physiognomy of its own; curious
enough in some of its features. But it is not this which strikes
the new-comer most forcibly. In certain Byzantine mosaics, the
figure represented is entirely eclipsed by the magnificence of the
background: the eye must grow accustomed to the splendour of the gold
and precious stones surrounding it, before it can take in the lines
of the face. In a similar manner, no surmise can be formed as to the
character of Batavia social life before the charm has, at least in
part, passed off, which its setting casts over the critical faculties.
It moves in romance; it is surrounded by beauty; its conditions and
circumstances are in themselves a source of delight. It would seem
almost enough for a feast, in the cool of the evening, to sit under
the verandah, marking on the gleaming marble floor half-reflections
as in tranquil waters under a tranquil sky seen from afar; and the
rich strange green, relieved against blackness, of the plants on
the steps outside, their every leaf and shoot shone upon by the
lamplight, standing out sparkling against the ebon wall of night. From
without, there comes the chirping of crickets, and the deepbreathed
fragrance of flowers--tuberose, gardenia and datura, nocturnal
blossoms. Framed between pillars and architrave, great rectangles of
sky are seen, interstellar azure, and the countless scintillation of
stars. Environings such as these shed a grace and dignity even over
the actions of daily life. When the scene is in itself fair, it is
transfigured into what seems the vision of a poet.

Shortly after my arrival, I was invited to a ball at the palace. I was
at the time staying with friends in the Salemba quarter; and we had a
drive of nearly an hour through avenues of tall waringin trees. There
was no wind, not the faintest breath of air; all that world of leaves
stood unstirred; summits broad as hilltops, and cascades of massive
foliage, making a blackness against skies all limpid with diffused
starlight. Between the vaguely-discerned stems, the little lights,
which fruit vendors keep twinkling all the night through, would now and
then flare up, and a reddish arm be revealed, the portion of a face,
and some fruits in a basket. Once, too, we saw the shining of a fire
with some native watchmen crouching around it, their faces strangely
distorted in the ever-writhing and shifting light. One of them shouted
out a hoarse "who goes there?" That was the only sound I heard all the
time. Silence and night all around; and overhead, like some pale river
winding along between shores of darkness, the gleaming course of the
sky between the dark waringin-tops. We might have been in the heart
of a woodland, miles away from the populous city, when suddenly the
horses turned a corner, and there burst upon us the great white blaze
of the palace, shining beyond intervening darknesses. It seemed like
a low-hanging lightning-cloud, with myriads of little flames, like
sparks of Saint-Elmo's fire hovering around, above, and underneath.
Those aloft hung immovable: the steadfast stars; lower down, immovable
too, a wide-swung circle of seemingly larger luminaries defining a
tract of darkness; within that flame-bound space, trembling hither and
thither, fitful will-o'-the wisps; and, without the shining boundary,
rushing lights that darted by and suddenly stood, and then with jerks
and stops drew ever nearer to the great effulgent cloud. The lights
of stars, lanterns, oil-wicks, and carriage-lamps seemed all to have
been scattered from that central glow. As we drew nearer, its cloudlike
aspect changed to the semblance of an alabaster grotto, the fire in its
white core streaked with lines of black; and these lines broadened and
lengthened until they grew into solid shafts; when the columns of the
loggia stood revealed, rising from the height of a marble terrace.

I ascended the white steps. I was in the very heart of the light. The
pillars, the floor, the walls, and the ceiling seemed to be made of
light. And, suddenly, I had a sense of home-coming. Why, I knew all
this very well! I had known it for years, for ever so long, ever since
the time when I listened to fairy tales, and in the beautifully-bound
book--I must not touch it, and I kept my hands behind my back to
withstand the temptation--was shown the picture of the castle where
the Sleeping Beauty lived. At night, lying wide awake up to quite nine
o'clock, I saw it as plain as could be, growing up around the lamp,
with the groundglass shade for a cupola. Later on, when I could read
myself, and also climb trees as the boys in the village had taught
me, sitting all through the drowsy summer afternoons in the forked
branch of an old, crooked pear-tree, with Hans Andersen's tales on my
knees, I rebuilt the Castle on a bolder scale for the Little Mermaiden.
Alas! she was never to live there! Until, at last, when Romeo crossed
the threshold, and Juliet turned and stood at gaze, a burst of music
flooded the widening halls, entwined couples moved like flowers that
sway in the evening wind, and, between the tall columns, I caught a
glimpse of the sky and "all the little stars." Now, I had entered the
palace myself. The great La France roses, and the Maréchal Niel that
fell in showers of gold over the edge of the marble urns, had budded in
my dream-garden. The music played; and in the vast hall I knew so well,
the polonaise began to unwind its slow coils, with a flash of goldlace
and of diamonds, a gleaming of bare shoulders, and a wavy movement of
silken trains, whose hues enriched the pale marble underfoot.... "We
should move into this place, I think," said my partner.

Since then, I have been to many entertainments. It is but honest to
say that at some I have enjoyed myself exceedingly, pouring rains,
and the croaking of frogs, almost in the house, notwithstanding; and
that at others I have felt my eyes burning with tears of suppressed
yawning. It is true this has not happened often; but, when it has, not
all the stars in their courses, nor all the constellations in their
fixed places, could inspirit me; and the perfume of the tuberoses gave
me a headache. I look at these things by gas-light now; and some of
them I find curious and not altogether beautiful. One especially: the
official character of social life in the best circles. It seems as if
discipline regulated matters of pleasure as strictly as matters of
business. A man will go to his chief's party as he would to his office
of a morning, never dreaming of staying away; and imposing old ladies
resent the presence of the wrong partner at a whist table, as if it
were an obstacle in their husband's career. It is as if they could
not, even for one evening, forget the struggle for existence, and as
if they regarded a dinner or a dance as an engagement with the enemy;
a brisk assault to carry by storm some place that has long stood a
regular siege--a lively skirmish in which everything that comes to
hand is a weapon for either attack or self-defence. One cannot be too
well equipped, in this great battle of official life. Intellect is
an excellent weapon, but it is not the only one; and though zeal is
indispensable, it is not enough. There are too many intelligent and
conscientious men jostling each other already. To pass them by, the
ambitious man must be more than merely intelligent and conscientious.
He must choose some special talent--any talent provided it be special.
Where merits are equal, the supererogatory decides the contest. For a
man at all well born and well bred, accomplishments of the social order
are the easiest to acquire; besides, these seemingly futile things are
in reality most important. It is the men of the world who get the good
places; while stay-at-home drudges may after ten years still stay at
home and drudge. Accordingly, social accomplishments are what a wise
man will strive to acquire. And, before anything else, let him see that
he plays a good game of cards. All elderly gentlemen like cards; all
chiefs of departments are elderly gentlemen; therefore, all chiefs of
departments like cards. Hence these many and long-drawn-out parties,
where one sits at little green tables until, dear God! those very
tables seem asleep, and the faint heart is all but lying still. And
hence the patience and the stoical courage, with which ambitious men
endure the trial. Though, to the superficial observer, they are only
taking their pleasures laboriously, they take better things than their
pleasure: a chance of preferment. They have heard ballads being sung
and said about the man who stormed the high places with his chair for
a steed and a pack of cards for shield and spear, and utterly defeated
and drove out the garrison of quill-armed men. These things have been.
And once upon a time, there was a Head of Department, who held the
official virtues to be statistics, discipline, and cards: but the
greatest of these was cards. By his play, he judged a man. A woman he
did not judge at all, conceiving her to be a non-card-playing being.
And a woman sitting down to a game, notwithstanding her declared and
organic inability, was to him the abomination of desolation. But let
young civil servants come to him! And happy that young civil servant
who could, and would, and did stand up to him, and even defeat him
utterly, to the greater glory of cards! For this man was a truly great
soul; and he preferred the honour of the game very far indeed to his
own as a player.

Still, as all roads lead to Rome, so a good many lead to preferment.
If one great man loves cards, another is partial to a good dinner, and
most affable over paté de foie gras and a bottle of Burgundy. And a
third--this one, presumably, the proud father of pretty daughters--has
a predilection for dances. So that a man may choose his own path
upwards; and, if he will not play, why, he may dance.

And dance they do in Batavia, with fervour and assiduity. On
east-monsoon nights, when the very crickets judge it too hot for
the exertion of chirping, snatches of Strausz waltzes may be caught
floating out on the heavy air; and luminous shapes be seen twirling
in some brilliantly-lighted front-gallery. Out of every ten persons
you meet, nine are enthusiastic waltzers; and the fieriest fanatic
of them all is sure to be a young civil servant thus "with victory
and with melody" pursuing his upward path to the heights of official
honours. Nothing arrests him in his career. The gallery too narrow for
his evolutions does not exist. One exhausted partner after another he
has led back to her mamma and the restorative champagne-cup, and his
ardour is not a whit abated, though his hair seems to be sprinkled with
diamond-dust, and its cheeks have sunk to the pallor of that wilted
lily, his collar--the last of the posy gathered at home, and thrown
away drooping into a corner of the dressingroom, off the verandah. This
is sublime courage, indeed. As one looks at him, one is reminded of
Indian braves, who, at the first outburst of the war-hoop, put on their
very best paint and shiniest mocassins, and hurry to the gathering of
the chiefs, there to dance the war-dance; not inelegantly, nor without
hidden meaning: each prance and twirl a prophecy of scalp-wreathed

But dancing--like virtue--may be argued to be its own reward. And, as
such, it but partially fits into the system of amusements considered as
a means to preferment. For the triumph of the principle, commend me to
a reception. Each great man's day--for it is his, observe, and not his
wife's--is announced beforehand in the newspapers, or printed, one in a
long list, on a separate slip of paper, which you must stick up in the
corner of your mirror, so that there shall be no pretext for ignorance.
To make assurance doubly sure, you put a pencil mark against the name
and "day" of your own particular great man. On the appointed date, as
the clock strikes seven, you go. From afar you see the blaze of his
front gallery; the drive shines with multitudinous carriage-lamps,
and every now and then, as another vehicle draws up, the master of
the house is seen descending the verandah-steps, to help some lady to
alight from her carriage, with grave courtesy offering her his arm
to conduct her towards the hostess. She rises, extends a welcoming
hand, begs her newly-arrived guest to be seated, and resumes a languid
conversation with the great lady at her right. Unless, indeed, the new
arrival be a greater lady, in which case the former occupant will cede
to her the place of honour, and content herself with the next. Soon,
around the big marble-topped table, the circle is drawn, one-half of it
shining like the rainbowed sky; the other black as innermost darkness;
one semi-circle of women; another of men; as strictly separated as
we are taught that the sheep and goats shall be, on a certain day. I
cannot but think that the men must be conscious of the fact, and its
dire symbolism. For, as often as not, they get up, and stand unhappily
together in the farthest corner of the verandah, and, with cigars and
cigarettes, make little clouds to hide themselves from the children of
the light shining afar off, and drink sherry out of little glasses, in
deep meditation. Until, suddenly, the booming of the eight o'clock gun
breaks the spell. Every watch is taken out of every waistcoat-pocket,
and set aright. Every countenance brightens, and the greatest man of
all--"not Lancelot, nor another," for his life!--catching a look from
his lady, sitting mournful in her place, steps forward, and boldly
claims her for his own again. Then the others follow, the host still
conducting each fair one back to her carriage; and in another moment
the verandah is left desolate, and that reception is a thing of the

Not more than two or three of the guests have interchanged a word with
either host or hostess beyond the conventional phrases of welcome and
good bye; and unless some members of the same coterie have been sitting
together,--Batavia society is as full of coteries as a pine-apple is of
seeds--they have not had much conversation among themselves either. Of
pleasure, there has been nothing, of profit so much as may be derived
from seeing and being seen. It is almost as it was at the Court of
Louis XIV. Acte de présence has been made: and that is all; but, as it
seems, it is enough. This is, indeed, a triumph of the bureaucratie

In "Java"--as the Batavians call the rest of the island, in curious
contradistinction to the capital--this principle rules with even
greater despotism: it assumes the importance of an article of faith.
Batavia, after all, that "suburb of the Hague," is too much influenced
by the manners and opinions of the Mother Country to be accounted
a colonial town. And, among the colonial ideas it is gradually
discarding, is that one of the extreme importance and supereminence of
office. In Holland, society metes with a different measure. And the
knowledge, perpetually forced on him, that the Honourable of Batavia
must sink into plain Mr. Jansen or Smit of the Hague, is sobering
enough to keep the vanity of even the most arrogant official within
decent limits. Not to mention the fact that, among his fellow-citizens,
there is a large proportion of non-officials, not at all eager to
acknowledge even his temporary superiority. But in "Java," where
communication with the civilized world is much less frequent and much
more difficult, old colonial notions have retained their pristine
vigour. The "Resident" of a little Java station is still very much what
his predecessor, the "Merchant," was in the days of the East-India
Company: a veritable little king. The gilt "payong" held over his
head on official occasions seems a royal canopy, and his gold-laced
uniform-cap a kingly crown in the eyes of his temporary subjects. The
native chiefs revere him as their "elder brother." His own subordinates
naturally look up to him. The planters, who, in their transactions with
the native population--bad keepers of contracts, on the whole--are
dependent upon his decision, need to be, and to continue on good terms
with him. And when it is further taken into consideration that the
social life of the station must be exactly what he chooses to make
it, it will be evident why even absolutely independent persons should
seek to be in his good graces. Thus the man lives in an atmosphere
of adulation. If there be a lack of humour or an abundance of vanity
in his composition, he will take his pseudo-royalty seriously, and
strictly exact homage. But, in the opposite case, and even when he
is averse to it, it will be still pressed upon him. An anecdote
illustrating this was told me, the other day, by an official, himself
the object, or, as he put it, the victim, of this particular kind of

He was driving at a rapid pace, down a precipitous road, when the horse
stumbled and fell, his light dogcart was upset, and he himself flung
out of the seat. He had barely recovered from the stunning fall, when
he caught sight of his secretary--who had been following in his own
carriage--coming bounding down the steep road like a big india-rubber
ball, rolling over and over in the dust. "Hullo, Jansen! have you been
upset, too?"--"No, Resident," sputters the fat little man, scrambling
to his feet again, "but I thought, the R-Resident l-l-leaps, I leap,

And here is the pendent:

In the latest cholera-scare, an old lady, the widow of a comptroller,
had been left the sole European resident of her station, all the others
having left for the hills. The Resident, surmising inability to meet
the expenses of travel to be the reason of her staying on, offered
to convey her to a bungalow in the hills, which his own family was
then occupying. The old lady came to thank him for the proposal. But
she could not, she said, accept it. She judged her hour had come;
and she was not afraid of death. Only one favour she would beg from
the Resident. It should be remembered that her husband had been a
comptroller, and that, as his widow, she was in rank superior to all
the European inhabitants of the station, coming second after the
Resident himself. Now her request was this; would the Resident be so
good as to leave written instructions, in case they both should die, to
the effect that her grave should be dug next to his?

One would expect such an excess of bureaucratic etiquette to breed
dullness and constraint unspeakable. And it certainly somewhat galls
the new-comer. But it is all an affair of custom, and, after a while,
these ceremonious manners come to seem as natural and necessary as
the ordinary courtesies of life, and not a whit more detrimental to
the pleasantness of social intercourse. Indeed, one sometimes sees
positions reversed, and Netherland-Indians accusing Hollanders of
stiffness. And it must be owned that the new-comer in Batavia Society,
is struck by a certain grace and easiness of manner that contrasts
forcibly with the somewhat frigid reserve of the typical Hollander: as
forcibly as a seventeenth-century family mansion on the Heerengracht,
solid, imposing, and gloomy as a fortress, contrasts with an airy
Batavia bungalow, where birds build their nests on the capitals of
the columns, and the whiteness of the floor is tinged with slanting
sunbeams and reflections of tall-leaved plants. And, analogous
contrasts meet one at every step. Life here has less dignity than it
has in the mother country; but it has more grace. Of its--real or
seeming--necessaries, not a few are lacking. But what was that saying
about the wisdom of striving for the superfluities, and caring naught
for the necessaries of life? Existence in Netherland-India is based
upon this principle. The superfluous is striven for--the richness and
the romance of things: and everyday-life is the more acceptable for it.
The comparatively poor in the colony fare better than the comparatively
rich at home. They have more leisure, greater comforts, and better
opportunities for amusement. Hence, the prevalence of "mondain" manners.

Hospitality is another characteristic of the average Netherland-Indian.
In the mother country, a man's house is his castle; but in Java it is
the castle of his guest. And his guest is practically, whoever likes,
a relation, a friend, a mere acquaintance, an utter stranger, his name
not so much as heard of before, who comes "to bring the greetings of a
friend"--as the pretty, old fashioned phrase has it: and he will meet
with the most cordial of welcomes. People are not content with simply
receiving a guest: they feast him. And, when hospitality is offered,
it is meant, not for days, but for weeks. To stay for two or three
months at a friend's house is nothing out of the common; and this not
for a single person merely, but for a whole family--parents, servants,
and all. I know I am speaking within the mark: having myself been one
of nine guests, four of whom had been staying for some weeks already
at a hospitable house in Batavia. And in "Java"--where hotels are bad
and railways few and far between, it is by no means rare to find an
even more numerous company foregathered at the house of the Resident,
who thus "does the honours" of an entire district; or at the bungalows
of rich planters, jealously competing with the official for what they
consider the privilege rather than the duty of hospitality. They
exercise it in a truly princely way. A well-known tea-planter, some
time ago, celebrating his silver wedding, commemorated the event by
an entertainment, which lasted for three days, and to which a hundred
and fifty guests were invited. Bamboo huts had been erected for those
who could not be accommodated in the house; barns were converted into
ball-rooms and dining-halls; and the native population of half the
district came and was welcomed to its share of the feast.

This, of course, is a signal instance; but the tendency which it
illustrates is a very general one, so much so, in fact, that it has
influenced domestic architecture, and rendered the pavilion (the
colonial equivalent for our "spare room") as indispensable a part of
the house as the bath-room and the kitchen.--Sometimes indeed the
pavilion is let. But generally it remains dedicated to the uses of
hospitality, and still awaits the "coming and going man," as the Dutch
phrase has it. At its door welcome for ever smiles, and farewell goes
out weeping.

Welcome. Farewell. Here, in Batavia, the short significant words ever
and again fall upon the ear, recurrent in conversations as the deep,
dominant bass-note that sends a repeated vibration through all the
changes and modulations of a melody; far off and distinct, as the
moan of circling seas, heard in the central dells of an island where
the clear-throated thrushes sing. The sensation of the temporary,
the transitory, and the uncertain that thrills the atmosphere of a
sea-port is in the air of this seemingly-quiet inland town. It is a
common saying here, that one should not make plans for more than a
month beforehand. But even a month seems almost too bold a reaching
into futurity, when every day is full of chances and changes, and the
aspect of things alters over-night. A promotion, an attack of fever, a
fluctuation in the sugar or tobacco-market, a letter from Holland--and
friends are separated, homes broken up, and careers changed.

The effects of this living on short notice, if I may so call it, are
perceptible in everything pertaining to colonial customs, ideas, and
society. I entered, the other day, one of those ancient mansions long
ago degraded to offices of "the old city." The armorial bearings of the
patrician, who built it in the beginning of the century, still ornament
the entrance. There are stucco mouldings over the doors that lead into
the great, half-dark chambers. A trace of gold and bright colours
is still discernible on the blinds of the tall lattice windows, the
glass of which shines with the iridescent colours that so many days of
sunshine and of rain have wrought into it; and the great staircase has
an oaken balustrade richly sculptured in the style of the 17th century.
The paint might be gone, the mouldings choked with dust and cobwebs,
the sculptured ornaments of the balustrade defaced; but there was not a
stone loose in those massive old walls nor a plank rotten in the floor.
Yet, it had been abandoned. And so has the conception of life, of which
it was the visible and tangible expression. Much hard-and-fastness of
tradition and convention has been done away with. Where circumstances
change so frequently opinions must likewise change. As a result a
certain liberality of thought has come to be a characteristic of
colonial society. There is something generous and truly humane in the
opinions one hears currently professed, and the courage to act up to
these convictions is not wanting. But on the other hand delicacy,
chivalry, and what one might call the decorum of the heart, are on
the whole sadly wanting. The general tone is somewhat "robustious";
this is perhaps an effect of the climate and soil. On the whole, and
to give a general idea of Batavia society, I fancy one might compare
it to that of some rich provincial town. There is the same eagerness
for precedence, the same intimacy and tattle and neighbourly kindness,
the same high living and plain thinking. But, in the little provincial
town, there is not such freedom from narrowness and prejudice, nor is
there so much hard work done under such unfavourable circumstances, nor
so much home sickness and anxiety and lonely sorrow so bravely borne,
as in Batavia.






A just appreciation of sentiments and motives repugnant to our own is
among the most difficult of intellectual feats. The Germans express
their sense of this truth by a concise and vigorous, if not altogether
elegant saying: "No man can get out of his own skin, and into his
neighbour's." A difference of colour between the said skins, it may be
added, withholds even adventurous souls from attempting the temporary
transmigration. And the wisdom of nations, brown and white, sanctions
this diffidence. In Java Occidentals and Orientals have been dwelling
together for about three centuries. They have become conversant with
each other's language, opinions, and affairs; they are brought into a
certain mutual dependence, and into daily and hourly contact; there
is no arrogance or contempt on the one side, no abject fear or hatred
on the other; no wilful prejudice, it would seem, on either. But
the Hollanders do not understand the Javanese, nor do the Javanese
understand the Hollanders, in any true sense of the word. So that it
seems the part of wisdom to acknowledge this at the outset, merely
stating that the notions of nice and nasty, fair and foul, right and
wrong, such as they obtain among the two nations are antagonistic.
Anyway, on the part of a casual observer, such as the present writer,
any further criticisms would be presumptuous and almost inevitably
unjust; therefore, they will be refrained from.

But, whereas I freely confess that the inner life of the Javanese has
remained hidden from me, their outward existence has become familiar
enough. The Javanese practically live out-of-doors. They take their
bath in the river; perform their toilet under some spreading warigin
tree, hanging a mirror as big as the hand on the rugged stem; and squat
down to their meal by the roadside. After nightfall, dark figures may
be discerned around the stalls of fruit-vendors, fantastically lit up
by the uncertain flame of an oil-wick. And, in the dry season, they
often sleep on the moonlit sward of some garden, or on the steps of an
untenanted house.

This life seems strange to us Northerners, self-constituted prisoners
of roofs and walls. But we have only to look at a Malay, and the
intuitive conviction flashes on us, that it is eminently right and
proper for him to live in this manner. He is a creature of the field.
His supple, sinewy frame, his dark skin, the far-away look in his
eyes, the very shape of his feet, with the short, strong toes, well
separated from one another--his whole appearance--immediately suggest
a background of trees and brushwood, running water, sunlit, wind-swept
spaces, and the bare brown earth. And the scenery of Java with its
strange colouring, at once violent and dull, its luxuriant vegetation,
and its abrupt changes in the midst of apparent monotony, lacks the
final, completing touch in the absence of dusky figures moving through
it. Landscape and people are each other's natural complement and
explanation. Hence, the picturesque and poetic charm of the Javanese

[Illustration: The River-Bath.]

One of the most fascinating scenes is that of the bath in the river,
soon after sunrise: at Batavia, I have frequently watched it from the
Tanah Alang embankment. The early sunlight,--a clear yellow, with a
sparkle as of topazes in it--makes the dewy grass to glisten, and
brightens the subdued green of the tamarind-trees along the river;
between the oblique bars of shadow the brownish water gleams golden.
On the bank, scores of natives are stripping for the bath. The men run
down, leap into the stream, and dive under; as they come up again,
their bare bodies shine like so many bronze statues. The women descend
the slope with a slower step; they have pulled up their sarong over
the bosom, leaving their shapely shoulders bare to the sun. At the edge
of the water they pause for an instant, lifting both arms to twist
their hair into a knot on the summit of the head; then, entering,
they bend down, and wet their face and breast. Young mothers are
there, leading their little ones by the hand, and coaxing them step
by step further into the shallow stream. Crowds of small boys and
girls have taken noisy possession of the river, plunging and splashing
and calling out to each other, as they swim about, kicking up the
water at every stroke of their sturdy little feet. Half hidden in a
clump of tall-leaved reeds by the margin, young girls are disporting
themselves, making believe to bathe, as they empty little buckets,
made of a palmleaf, over each other's head and shoulders, until their
black hair shines, and the running water draws their garments into
flowing, clinging folds, that mould their lithe little figures from
bosom to ankle. Then, perhaps, all of a sudden, a bamboo raft will
appear round the bend of the river; or a native boat, its inmates
sitting at their morning meal under the awning; and some friendly talk
is exchanged between them and the bathers, as the craft makes its way
through the slowly-dividing groups. One day I saw a broad, brick-laden
barge, that had thus come lumbering down the stream, run aground on
the shallows; the men jumped out, and began pulling and shoving to
get it afloat again. The water dripped from their tucked-up sarongs,
and their backs gleamed in the sunshine, as, almost bent double, they
urged the ponderous thing forward. But still, the bright red heap
remained stationary. Suddenly, a young boy, who had just stripped for
the bath came down the embankment with a running leap, and giving the
boat a sudden sharp push, sent it darting forward. Then he stood up,
laughing, and shook back the shock of black hair which had fallen
over his eyes. He looked like a dusky young river god, who out of his
kindness had come to assist his votaries.

[Illustration: A laundry in the river.]

The flower-market too is a scene of idyllic grace, when, after their
early bath in the river, the women come trooping thither, and stand
bargaining, their hands full of red and pink roses, creamy jessamine,
and tuberoses whiter than snow. The Javanese have a great love of
flowers, though, apparently, they take no trouble to raise them in
their gardens. In Batavia, at least, I never saw any growing near their
cottages in the kampong; save perhaps the sturdy hibiscus in hedges,
and that large white, odoriferous convolvulus which the wind sows
along roadsides and hedgerows--the "beauty-of-the-night." And they do
not seem to care for a handful of flowers in a vase, to brighten the
semi-darkness of their little pàgar huts.

[Illustration: Native lady travelling in her litter.]

[Illustration: A Litter.]

But the women are hardly ever seen without a rosebud or
tuberose-blossom twined into their hair, and the men not unfrequently
have one stuck behind the ear, or between the folds of their
head-kerchief. As for the children; their bare brown little bodies
are hung with tandjong wreaths. The plucked-out petals of all manner
of fragrant flowers are used to scent the water which the women pour
over their long black hair, after washing it with a decoction of
charred leaves and stalks; and, together with ambergris, and a sweet
smelling root, called "akhar wanggi," dried flowers are strewn between
the folds of their holiday-attire. Like all Orientals, the Javanese
are excessively fond of perfumes, which, no doubt, partially explains
their profuse use of strongly-scented flowers. But that, apart from
the merely sensual enjoyment of the smell, they prize flowers for the
pleasure afforded to the eye by their tints and shapes, is proved by
the frequency with which floral designs occur on their clothes and
ornaments. The full globes of the lotos-buds, the disc of the unfolded
flower with leaves radiating, its curiously-configurated pistil, are
recognized again and again on the scabbards and handles of the men's
poniards and on the girdle-clasps and the large silver kabaya-brooches
of the women. The fine cloth for sarongs is decorated with fanciful
delineations of the flowers that blow in every field and meadow, their
calixes and curly tendrils sprouting amidst figures of widemouthed
dragons, fanged and clawed. Moreover, for their hidden virtues, and
the sacred meanings of which they are the symbol, flowers are by the
natives associated with all the principal acts and circumstances of
their lives--with joy and sorrow and ceremony, and the service of the
gods. When the village folk, donning their holiday-attire, go forth to
the festive planting of the rice, or the gathering, stalk by stalk,
of the ripe ears, they wear wreaths of flowers twined in their hair.
At the feast of his circumcision, the boy is crowned with them. They
are the chief ornament of lovers on their marriage day--gleaming in
the elaborate head dress of the bride, and dangling down as a long
fringe from the groom's golden diadem; wreathing the scabbard of his
poniard; and girdling his naked waist, all yellow with boreh powder.
They are brought in solemn offering to the dead, when, on the third,
the seventh, the fortieth, the hundredth, and the thousandth day,
the kinsmen visit the grave of the departed one, to pray for the
welfare of his soul, and in return implore his protection, and that
of all the ancestors up to Adam and Eve, the parents of mankind. And
lastly, flowers are thought the most acceptable offering to the gods,
the ancient gods whom no violence of Buddhist or Mohammedan invader
has succeeded in ousting from that safe sanctuary, the people's
heart, which they share now, in mutual good-will and tolerance, with
the Toewan Allah, "besides whom there is no God." Under some huge
waringin tree, at the gate of a town or village, an altar is erected
to the tutelary genius the "Danhjang Dessa," who has his abode in
the thick-leaved branches. And the pious people, whenever they have
any important business to transact, come to it, and bring a tribute
of frankincense and flowers, to propitiate the god, and implore his
protection and assistance, that the matter they have taken in hand may
prosper. On the way from Batavia to Meester Cornelis, there stands such
a tree by the road-side, an immense old waringin, in itself a forest.
And the rude altar in its shade, fenced off from the public road by
a wooden railing, from sunrise to sunset is fragrant with floral

[Illustration: The Market at Malang.]

There are several flower-markets in Batavia. But I have taken a
particular fancy to the one held at Tanah Abang. Its site is a somewhat
singularly chosen one for the purpose, near the entrance to the
cemetery, and in the shadow of the huge old gateway, the superscription
on which dedicates the place to the repose of the dead, and their pious
memory. In its deep, dark arch, as in a black frame, is set a vista of
dazzling whiteness, plastered tombstones, pillars, and obelisks huddled
into irregular groups, with here and there a figure hewn in fair white
marble soaring on outstretched wings, and everywhere a scintillation
as of molten metal--the colourless, intolerable glare, to which the
fierce sunlight fires the corrugated zinc of the roofs protecting the

But on the other side of the gateway there are restful shadows and
coolness. Some ancient gravestones pave the ground, as if it were the
floor of an old village church--bluish-grey slabs emblazoned with
crests and coats-of-arms in worn away bas-relief. Heraldic shapes are
still faintly discernible on some; and long Latin epitaphs, engraved
in the curving characters of the seventeenth century, may be spelt
out, recording names which echo down the long corridors of time
in the history of the colony; and, oddly latinized, the style and
title bestowed on the deceased by the Lords Seventeen, rulers of the
Honourable East India Company--the Company of Far Lands, as in the
olden time it was called.

Hither, before the sun is fairly risen, come a score of native
flower-sellers, shivering in the morning air, who spread squares of
matting on the soil, and, squatting down, proceed to arrange the
contents of their heaped-up baskets. The bluish-grey gravestones, with
the coats of arms and long inscriptions, are covered with heaps of
flowers: creamy Melati as delicate and sharply-defined in outline as if
they had been carved out of ivory; pink and red Roses with transparent
leaves, that cling to the touch; Tjempakah-telor, great smooth globes
of pearly whiteness; the long calixes of the Cambodja-blossom, in which
tints of yellow and pink and purple are mixed as in an evening sky; the
tall sceptre of the Tuberose, flower-crowned; and "pachar china," which
seems to be made out of grains of pure gold.

Some who know the tastes of the "orang blandah" have brought flowering
plants to market, mostly Malmaison Roses and tiny Japanese Lilies,
just dug up, the earth still clinging to their delicate roots; or they
sit binding wax-white Gardenias, violet Scabiosa, and leaves as downy
and grey as the wings of moths, into stiff clumsy wreaths; for they
have learnt that the white folks choose flowers of these dull tints
to lay upon the tombs of their dead. And there is one old man, brown,
shrunken, and wrinkled, as if he had been made out of the parched earth
of the cemetery, who sells handfuls of plucked-out petals, stirring
up now and then, with his long finger, the soft, fragrant heap in his
basket--thousands of brilliantly-coloured leaflets.

About seven o'clock, the customers, almost exclusively women, arrive,
fresh from their bath in the neighbouring river. They form picturesque
groups on the sunny road, those slender figures in their bright-hued
garments, pink, and red, and green, their round brown faces and
black hair, still wet and shining, framed in the yellow aureole of
the payong[2] which they hold spread out behind their head. And the
quiet spot in the shadow of the cemetery gate is alive with their
high-pitched twittering voices, as they go about from one flower-seller
to another, bargaining for Jessamines, Orange-blossoms, and tiny pink
Roses, which, with deft fingers, they twist into the glossy coil of
their "kondeh."

[2] The payong is an umbrella, quite flat when spread out, of yellow
oiled paper.

Javanese women are most pardonably proud of their hair. It is somewhat
coarse, but very long and thick and of a brilliant black, with bluish
gleams in it; and it prettily frames their broad forehead with regular,
well-defined curves and points. They take great care of it, too,
favourably contrasting, in this respect, with European women of the
lower classes, though some of their methods, it must be owned, are
repugnant to European notions of decency. As they bathe, and sleep, and
eat in public, so, in public, they cleanse each other's hair. A woman
will squat down in some shady spot by the roadside, and, shaking loose
her coiled-up hair, submit to the manipulations of a friend, who parts
the strands with her spread-out fingers, and removes ... superfluities,
with quick monkey-like gestures. What would you have? "The country's
manner, the country's honour," as the Dutch proverb hath it. This
particular way of cleansing the hair is a national institution among
the Javanese. And, as such, it is celebrated in the legends of the
race, and in the tales of the olden time, which are still repeated, of
an evening, among friends.

[Illustration: Street-Dancers.]

[Illustration: Musicians.]

The scholar of the party, by the light of an oil-wick, reads from
a greasy manuscript which he has hired for the evening at the price
of one "pitji."[3] It is the story of the beautiful beggarmaid, who
wanders from village. She does not know her own name or who were her
parents, having, in infancy, been stolen by robbers. One day, she
comes begging to the gates of the palace. The Rajah orders the guards
to admit the suppliant, and his Raden-Ajoe[4] causes a repast to be
prepared for her. They are kind towards those in affliction, having
known great sorrow themselves: for their only child a daughter,
mysteriously disappeared years and years ago; and now they are old and
childless. The Rajah, gazing upon the stranger, frequently sighs: his
daughter would have grown up to be a maiden as fair, if she had lived.
And the Raden-Ajoe, taking her by the hand, bids her sit down, and
unloose those glossy locks, worthy to be wreathed with the fragrant
blossom of the asana. She herself will cleanse them. Then, as she parts
the long braids, ah! there upon the crown, behold the cicatrice which
her little daughter had! The long-lost one is found again.

[3] About twopence.

[4] Chief wife.

[Illustration: The native cithara and violin.]

[Illustration: Clasp for fastening a kabaya in front.]

In Javanese fairy tales the long locks of nymphs and goddesses are
treasured as talismans by the hero who has been fortunate enough to
obtain one. There is great virtue for instance, in the long hair of
the Pontianak, the cruel sprite that haunts the waringin tree. Have
you never seen her glide by, white in the silver moonlight? Have you
never heard her laugh, loud and long, when all was still? She is the
soul of a dead virgin, whom no lover ever kissed. And now she cannot
rest, because she never knew love; and she would fain win it yet;
though not in kindness now, but in spite and deadly malice. She sits
in the branches of trees, softly singing to herself as she combs her
long hair. And when a young man, hearing her song, pauses to listen,
she meets him, in the semblance of a maid fairer than the bride of the
Love-god, and raises soft eyes to him and smiling lips. But, when he
would embrace her, he feels the gaping wound in her back, which she
had concealed under her long hair. And, as he stands speechless with
horror, she breaks away from him with a long loud laugh, and cries:
"Thou hast kissed the Pontianak, thou must die!" And, ere the moon is
full again, his kinsmen will have brought flowers to his grave. But, if
he be quick-witted and courageous, he will seize the evil spirit by her
flying locks; and, if he succeeds but in plucking out one single hair,
he will not die, but live to a great age, rich, honoured, and happy,
the husband of a Rajah's daughter and the father of Princes.

[Illustration: A Native Restaurant in its most compendious shape.]

Some men are fortunate, however, from their birth, and do not need the
Pontianak's long hair; that is because their own grows in a peculiar
manner, from two circular spots near the crown. To the owner of such a
"double crown," nothing adverse can ever happen. All his wishes will be
fulfilled, and he will prosper in whatever matter he sets his hand to.

Again, it is not men alone who are thus visibly marked by fate. In the
crinklings of the hair on a horse's neck, the wise read plain signs
of good or bad fortune by which it is made manifest whether the horse
will be lucky and carry his rider to honour and happiness, or unlucky
and maim or even kill him. That is the great point about a horse: the
way in which the hair on his neck grows. If therefore you should find
the auspicious sign on him, buy the animal, whatever may be the price
and however old, ugly, or weak he may seem to the ignorant. But, if you
find the sign of ill-luck, send him away at once, and cause the marks
of his hoofs to be carefully obliterated from the path that leads to
your door; for if you neglect this precaution, great disaster may be
brought upon you and all your house. Reflect upon this, and the true
significance of the history of Damocles will be revealed to you. In
truth, all fortune, good or bad, hangs by a single hair.

[Illustration: For the morning and evening meal he prefers the open air
and the cuisine of the warong.]

After the bath, the Javanese proceeds to take his morning meal; and
this, again is a public performance. The noon repast--the only solid
one in the day--is prepared and eaten at home. But, for the morning
and evening meals, the open air and the cuisine of the warong are
preferred. The warong is the native restaurant. There are many kinds
and varieties of it: from its most simple and compendious shape--two
wooden cases, the one containing food, prepared and raw, the other,
a chafing-dish full of live coals, and a supply of crockery--to its
fully-developed form, the atap-covered hut. There, a dozen, and more
customers hold their symposia presided over by the owner, who sits
cross-legged on the counter amid heaps of fruit, vegetables, and
confectionery. All manner of men meet here: drivers of sadoos or hack
carriages, small merchants, artizans, Government clerks, policemen,
water-carriers, servants, hadjis,[5] not to mention the "corresponding"
womankind. They talk, they talk! and they laugh! The affairs of all
Batavia are discussed here--matters of business, intrigue, love,
money, office, everything, material to make a Javanese Decamerone
of, if a Boccaccio would but come and put it into shape. There are
several of these warongs about Tanah-Abang and the Koningsplein, and,
of course, in the native quarters. But the smaller, portable ones are
found everywhere: by the river-side, at the railway stations, at the
sadoo-stands, along the canals, at the corners of the streets; and they
seem to do a thriving business.

[5] Title given to those who have performed the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Each of these itinerant cooks has his own place on the pavement or in
the avenue, recognised as such by the tacit consent of the others.
Hither he comes trudging, in the early morning, carefully balancing his
cases at the end of the long bamboo yoke, so as not to break any of the
dozens of cups, glasses, and bottles on his tray; then, having disposed
his commodities in the most appetizing manner, he stirs up the charcoal
in the chafing-dish, and begins culinary operations. One of these is
the preparation of the coffee, which consists of pouring boiling water
upon the leaves, instead of the berries, of the coffee tree, after
the manner of some Arab tribes. Sometimes, however, the berries also
are used, and the infusion is sweetened with lumps of the dark-brown,
faintly flavoured sugar that is won from the areng-palm. Then the
rice--the principal dish of this, as of any other meal--is boiled in
a conical bag of plaited palm fibre; and, when ready, is made up into
heaped-up portions, with, perhaps, a bit of dried fish and some shreds
of scarlet lombok[6] stuck on the top. This is for the solid part of
the repast; the dessert is next thought of. It is ready in the portable
cupboard--the thrifty wife of the vendor having risen long before dawn
to prepare it--and is now set forth, on strips of torn-up banana-leaf,
as on plates and saucers; green and white balls of rice-meal, powdered
over with rasped cocoa-nut, orange cakes of Indian corn, shaking pink
jellies, and slices of some tough dark-brown stuff. The cool fresh
green of the banana-leaf makes the prettiest contrast imaginable to
all these colours, its silky surface and faint fragrance giving, at
the same time, an impression of dainty cleanliness such as could never
be achieved by even the most spotless linen and china of a European

[6] The seed-capsules of the red pepper-plant.

The Javanese are very frugal eaters. A handful of rice with a pinch of
salt, and, perhaps, a small dried fish being sufficient for a day's
ration. Of course, we, Europeans, confessedly, eat too much. But
how grossly we over-eat ourselves, can only be realized on seeing a
Javanese subsisting on about a tenth part of our own daily allowance,
and doing hard work on that--labouring in the field, travelling on
foot for days together, and carrying heavy loads without apparent

[Illustration: A kitchen.]

However, though so abstemious in the matter of solid food, they are
excessively fond of sweetmeats. I have often watched a party of grown
men and women, seated on the low bench in front of a warong, and
eating kwee-kwee[7] with perfectly childish relish, or bending over
a stall, gravely comparing the respective charms of white, pink, and
yellow cakes; hesitating, consulting the confectioner, and at last
solving the difficulty by eating a little of everything. Whatever ready
money they may chance to have, is spent either on personal adornment or
on sweetmeats; and on festive occasions, they will pawn their furniture
rather than deny them selves the enjoyment of more cakes, jellies,
fruit and syrups than they can partake of without making themselves
sick and sorry.

[7] Malay for "cakes."

[Illustration: A native restaurant in its simplest and most compendious

Nor do they show more discretion in the matter of the dieting of their
children. Though left, in almost all other respects, to chance and
the guidance of its own instincts, a native child is not trusted to
eat alone. The mother's idea seems to be that, if left to itself, her
child would never eat at all, and that it is her plain duty to correct
this mistake in nature's plan. Wherefore, having prepared a mess of
rice and banana, she lays the little thing flat on its back, upon
her knees, takes some of the food between the tips of her fingers,
kneading it into a little lump, and pushes this into the baby's mouth,
cramming it down the throat with her thumb, when the baby, willy nilly,
must swallow it. Thus she goes on, the baby alternately screaming and
choking, until she judges it has had enough--is full to the brim, so to
speak, and incapable of holding another grain of rice. Then she will
set it on its feet again, dry the tears off its round cheeks, and rock
it to sleep against her breast, closefolded in the long "slendang."

A similar principle obtains in education. To watch the native
schoolmaster drilling the Koran into his pupils, is to be reminded
of the rice-balls and the maternal thumb. I witnessed the scene, the
other day, at a little school--if a framework of four bamboo-posts and
an "atap" roof deserves that name--in a native "kampong" at Meester
Cornelis.[8] I had come upon this school quite accidentally, in the
course of a ramble along the river-side. As I was making my way through
a plantation of slim young trees, all festooned with dangling lianas,
I had been conscious for some minutes of a droning and buzzing sound,
somewhere near me, and fancied it to be the humming of bees, hovering
over the lantana-blossoms that covered the steep bank of the river
with flames of red and orange, and filled the air with their pungent
scent. But, suddenly, I caught the word "Allah:" and, the next moment,
I was standing in an open space in the midst of some ten or twelve
bamboo huts. One of these, evidently, was a school; and the droning
noise I had heard proceeded from an old spectacled schoolmaster, who
was reading aloud--or, rather, chanting--from a book held in his hand.
A little boy stood in front of him, listening very attentively, and,
every time the old schoolmaster had completed a phrase, the child
repeated it in exactly the same sing-song, closing his eyes the while,
and rocking his little body to and fro. After he had finished, another
came up; there were some twelve or thirteen seated on a sort of bench,
awaiting their turn; and all of them went through the same course
of listening and repeating, the master, now and then, correcting the
intonation of some phrase. It was the Koran which they were thus
reciting in the Arabic language. In all probability, the master did not
understand a single word of Arabic; assuredly none of the boys did. But
what of that? They know it by heart, from its very first word to its
very last. They learn to mis-pronounce the Confession of the Unity of
God; and they are taught to consider themselves Mohammedans. That is

[8] A suburb of Batavia.

[Illustration: Native restaurant.]

After the early morning meal, the Javanese begin the business of the
day. In towns, where they are debarred their natural occupation,
agriculture, and where, moreover, the Chinese artisans and shopkeepers
have almost entirely ousted them from trade and commerce, the majority
of the natives, men and women, are employed as domestic servants
in the houses of European residents. Hence, but little is seen of
them during the greater part of the day. Towards four o'clock, they
reappear, and again repair to the kali or the canal for a plunge into
the tepid water. Cigarettes are lit, sirih-leaves cut up and neatly
rolled into a quid and some friendly conversation is indulged in. In
fine weather games are played.

The behaviour of Javanese at play is one of the things which strike
most strongly upon the Northerner's observation. There is nothing here
of that vociferous enthusiasm which characterises our young barbarians
at play--no shouts of exultation or defiance, no applause, no derision,
no cries, no quarrelling or noisy contest. From beginning to end of the
game, a sedate silence prevails. This is not, as might be imagined,
due to apathy and indifference--the Javanese are keen sportsmen, and
often stake comparatively important sums on the issue of a game--but
the effect of an etiquette which condemns demonstrativeness as vulgar.
Outward placidity must be maintained, whatever the stress of the
emotions, and whether circumstances be important or trivial. Hence the
apparent calm of Javanese at play, even when engaged in games that most
excite their naturally fierce passions of ambition and envy. The winner
does not seem elated, the loser is not spiteful. They are in the full
sense of the word "beaux joueurs."

During the East monsoon, when high south-easterly winds may be counted
upon, flying kites is a favorite game; and not only with boys, but with
grown men. Groups of them may often be seen in the squares and parks of
Batavia or in the fields near the town, floating large kites, shaped
like birds and winged dragons, which, in ascending, emit a whistling
sound, clear and plaintive as that of a wind-harp. They sometimes
remain soaring for days together, and strains of that aerial music,
attuned in sad "minore," float out upon every passing breath of air.
Passers-by in the street look up, shading their eyes from the sun, at
the bright things soaring and singing in the sky, and dispute much
about the melodious merits of each.

[Illustration: Breakfast in the open air.]

The paper singing-birds, called "swangan," are very popular with the
masses. But the true amateurs of the sport prefer another kind, the
"palembang" and "koenchier" kites, which do not sing but fight, or,
at least, in skilful hands, can be made to fight. These are made
of Chinese paper, and decorated with the image of some god or hero
of Javanese mythology. The cord twisted out of strong rameh fibre
is coated with a paste of pounded glass or earthenware, mixed with
starch. This renders it strong and cutting as steel wire. The aim
of each player is to make the cord of his kite, when up in the air,
cross his opponent's cord, and then, with a swift downward pull, cut
it in two: a manœuvre which requires considerable dexterity. The game
is played according to strict rules and with some degree of ceremony
and etiquette, as prescribed by the "adat"--the immemorial law of
courtesy which, in Java, regulates all things, from matters of life and
death down to the arrangement of a girl's scarf and the games which
children play. When all the kites are well up in the air, tugging on
the strained cords, each player chooses his antagonist. He advances to
within a few paces, makes his kite approach the other's, all but touch
it, swerve, and come back; having thus preferred his challenge, he
retires to the place first occupied. Thither, presently, his opponent
follows him, and, by the exact repetition of his manœuvre, signifies
his acceptance of the combat, retiring afterwards in the same stately
manner. Then the contest begins. The agile figures of the players dart
hither and thither, fitfully, with swift impulse and sudden pause, and
abrupt swerve, bending this way and that, swaying, with head thrown
back and right arm flung up along the straining cord. The groups
of spectators, standing well aside so as not to interfere with the
movements of the players, gaze upward with bated breath. And, aloft,
sparkling with purple and gold, their long streamers spread out upon
the wind, the two kites soar and swoop, swerve, plunge a second time,
slowly swim upwards again, glide a little further, and hang motionless.
The thin cords are all but invisible; the fantastic shapes high in the
air seem animated with a life of their own, wilful, untiring, eager to
pursue, and swift to escape, full of feints and ruses. Suddenly, as one
again plunges, the other, tranquilly sailing aloft, trembles, staggers,
tumbles over, and leaping up, scuds down the wind and is gone. The
severed length of cord comes down with a thud; and, as the unlucky
owner darts away after the fugitive, in the forlorn hope of finding it
hanging somewhere in the branches of a tree, the victor lets his kite
reascend and triumphantly hover aloft, straining against the wind, and
tugging upon the strong shiny cord that has come off scathless from the

The aboriginal craving for battle and mastery, which, philosophers
tell us, is at the bottom of all our games, is even more strongly
developed in the Javanese than in the Caucasian. But the race is not
an athletic one; immemorial traditions of decorum condemn hurry and
violence of movement; and active games, such as this of flying kites,
are the exception. Even at play, the Javanese loves repose; and, when
gratifying his combative instincts, he is mostly content to fight by

Cocks and crickets are the chosen deputies of the town-folk in this
matter; and Javanese sportsmen are as enthusiastic about them as
Spaniards about a toreador, as Englishmen about a prize-fighter.

[Illustration: Here they are: without plaything naked, and supremely

The Government forbids the cock- and cricket-fights on account of the
gambling to which they invariably give rise. But the police are not
omniscient or ubiquitous. Where there is a will, there is a way; and,
in hidden corners, cocks continue to hack, and crickets to bite and
kick each other to the greater amusement of native sporting circles.

On the training of a game-cock, his owner spends much time, care, and
forethought. The bird's diet is regulated to a nicety: so much boiled
rice per diem, so much water, so much meat, hashed fine and mixed with
medicinal herbs. One a week, a bath is given him, after which he is
taken in his coop to a sunny place to dry; and he is subjected to a
regular course of massage at the hands of his trainer, who, taking
the bird into his lap, with careful finger and thumb, "pichits" or
shampoos the muscles of neck, wings, and legs, to make them supple and
strong. Connoisseurs arrive from compound and "kampongs" to exchange
criticisms. The age, strength, and agility of rival birds are discussed
at length and finally, when there is a sufficient number in good
condition, a match is arranged.

[Illustration: A Chinese carpenter.]

[Illustration: A Chinese Dyer.]

The amateurs arrive at the spot, each carrying his bird cooped up in
a cage of banana-leaves, through opposite openings in which the head,
shorn of its comb, and the tail protrude. A ring is formed, every one
squatting down, with his cage in front of him; and the birds are taken
out, and passed round for general inspection. After careful comparison
and deliberation, two of approximately equal strength are selected as
antagonists, and the umpire, whose office it is to arm the birds with
the trenchant steel spurs, further equalizes chances by attaching the
weapons of the weaker party to the spot where they will prove most
effective: high up the leg. The owners then take up each his own bird,
allow the two to peck at each other once or twice, put them down upon
the ground again, and, at the signal given by the umpire, let go. The
cocks fight furiously. Generally, one of the two is killed; and, almost
inevitably, both are cruelly injured by the long, two-edged knives
attached to their legs in place of the cut-off spurs.

Cricket-fights do not seem quite as brutal: the natural weapons of
the little combatants, at least, are not artificially added to; and
victory, it appears, is as often achieved by courage and skill as by
mere force. It is said that even more patience is required to train a
game-cock; and the process certainly seems elaborate.

First, there is the catching of the "changkrik." For this, the amateur
goes, after nightfall, to some solitary spot out in the fields or
woods--preferably near the grave of some Moslem saint, or royal hero,
or in the shadow of some sacred tree, the "changkriks" caught in these
consecrated places being considered much superior to those of the ditch
and garden as participating in the virtue of their habitat. Here,
then, the amateur builds some stones into a loose heap, hiding in the
midst of it a decoy "changkrik" in a little bamboo cage and retreats.
When, a little before dawn, he again approaches the spot, treading
cautiously, and shading the light of his little lantern, he is sure to
surprise quite a company of crickets gathered around the mound and
crouching under the stones, whither they have been lured by the shrill
song of the captive insect; and, if he is adroit, he may catch a score
at a time. Only the finest and strongest of these he retains; and
straightway the work of education is begun.

[Illustration: The miniature stage on which the lives and adventures
of Hindoo heroes, queens and saints are acted over again by puppets of
gilt and painted leather.]

This is not easy; for the cricket is among the most liberty-loving of
animals, and, at first, utterly refuses to be tamed. Unless the bamboo,
of which his little cage is made, be very hard and close-grained, he
manages to gnaw his way through it; and, when baulked in this attempt,
tries to shatter the walls of his prison by battering them with his
horny head, never ceasing until he has killed or, at any rate, stunned
himself. In order to tame him, his trainer throws the "changkrik" into
a basin full of water, and there lets him struggle and kick until he is
half-drowned and quite senseless; then, fishing out the little inert
body, he puts it in the palm of his hand, and, with a tiny piece of
cottonwool fastened to a "lidi"[9] begins to stroke and rub it, in a
kind of lilliputian massage. Then, pulling out a long lank hair from
the shock hidden under his "kain kapala"[10] he delicately ties it round
one of the cricket's hind legs, and hangs him to a nail, in some cool
draughty place, where the air may revive him. After a couple of hours,
perhaps, the tiny creature, dangling by one leg, begins to stir. It is
then taken down, warmed in the hollow of the hand, encouraged to stand
upon its legs, and crawl a little way, and, finally, replaced in its
bamboo cage. It does not again try to escape.

[9] Lidi:--Fibre from the stalk of the palm leaf.

[10] Kain Kapala:--Head Kerchief.

[Illustration: Scene in a Wayang-Wong Place.]

When it has thus been brought to the proper frame of mind, its real
education begins. With a very fine brush, made of grass-blossoms,
the trainer tickles its head, side, and back; a mettlesome individual
immediately begins to "crick" angrily, and to snap at the teasing
brush. After some time, he flies at the brush as soon as he sees it,
hanging on to it with his strong jaws, as to a living thing. This shows
he is in good condition for fighting. He is now, for some days, fed
upon rice sprinkled with cayenne-pepper, to "prick him in his courage;"
and then taken to the arena. His antagonist is there, in his narrow
bamboo cage, quivering with impatience under the touch of his trainer's
brush of grass-blossoms; the cages are placed over against one another;
and as soon as they are opened, the two "changkriks" rush at each
other. The one who is first thrown, or who turns tail and flies, is
beaten; and great is the glory of the victor. The Javanese often stake
comparatively important sums on fighting crickets. And there is always
a chance that the quarrel of the tiny champions may be fought out by
their owners.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: The Regent of Malang's Wayang-Wong.]

To all other pleasures, the Javanese prefers that of witnessing a
performance of the wayang, the native theatre. He is an artist at
heart, loving sweet sounds, graceful movements, and harmonies of bright
colour; and all these he may enjoy at the wayang, where, in the pauses
of the drama, ballads are sung to the tinkling accompaniment of the
"gamellan," and splendidly-arrayed dancers put forth "the charm of
woven paces and of waving hands." There are several kinds of "wayang,"
each having its own range of subjects and style of acting; the most
ancient as well as the most popular, however, is the "wayang poerwa,"
the miniature stage on which the lives and adventures of Hindoo heroes,
queens, and saints are acted over again by puppets of gilt and painted
leather, moving in the hands of the "dalang," who recites the drama.

The "wayang poerwa" is best described as a combination of a
"Punch-and-Judy" show and a kind of "Chinese shadows"; and--as with the
famed shield which was silver on one side and gold on the other--its
appearance depends upon the stand-point of the spectator. A puppet show
to those in front of the screen, where the gaudily-painted figures are
fixed in a piece of banana stem, it is a Chinese lantern to those on
the other side, who see the shadows projected on the luminous canvas.
According to ancient custom, the men sit in front and see the puppets;
the women have their place behind the screen, and look on at the play
of the shadows. In fully-equipped wayangs, as many as two hundred of
these puppets are found, each with its own particular type and garb,
characteristic of the person represented.

Certain conventional features, however, are repeated throughout as
symbols of their moral disposition. Long thin noses continuing the
line of the sloping forehead, narrow, slanting eyes, and delicate
mouths, firmly shut, indicate wisdom and a gentle disposition; a
bulging forehead, short thick nose, round eyes and gaping mouth,
indicate lawlessness and violence. No difference is made between
the portraitures of gods and those of mortals; but the Titans are
distinguished by the size and unwieldiness of their body, their staring
eyes, and huge teeth, sometimes resembling tusks. The bodies and faces
are indifferently black, blue, white, flesh-coloured, or gilt; the
colour of the face, moreover, often being a different one from that of
the rest of the person. And all the figures are taken in profile.

[Illustration: The native orchestra which accompanies every
representation of the wayang.]

The stage on which these puppets are shown consists of an upright
screen of white sarong cloth. A lamp hangs from the top; at the bottom,
it has a transverse piece of banana stem, into the soft substance of
which the puppets may easily be fixed by means of the long sharp point
in which their supports terminate. The centre of the screen is occupied
by the "gunungan," the conventionalized representation of a wooded
hill, which symbolizes the idea of locality in general, and stands for
a town, a palace, a lake, a well, the gate of Heaven, the stronghold of
the Titans, in short, for any and every place mentioned in the course
of the drama. Among the further accessories of the wayang are a set of
miniature weapons, shields, swords, spears, javelins, and "krisses,"
exactly copied after those now or formerly in use among Javanese, and
often of the most exquisite workmanship, destined to be handled by the
gods and the heroes to whose hands they are very ingeniously adapted.
Nor should such items as horses and chariots be forgotten. To manœuvre
this lilliputian company of puppets is the difficult task of the

In continuance of the Punch-and-Judy comparison, the "dalang" should
be called the "showman" of the wayang. But he is a showman on a grand
scale. Not only does he make his puppets act their parts of deities,
heroes, and highborn beauties according to the strict canons of
Javanese dramatic art, observant at the same time of the exigencies of
courtly etiquette; but he must know by heart the whole of those endless
epics, the recitation of which occupies several nights; sometimes he
himself dramatizes some popular myth or legend; and he must always
be ready at a moment's notice to imagine new and striking episodes,
adapt a scene from another play to the one he is performing, and
improvise dialogues in keeping with the character of the dramatis
personæ. He should have an ear for music and a good voice, and possess
some knowledge of Kawi[11] to give at all well the songs written in
that ancient tongue, which announce the arrival of the principal
characters on the stage. Moreover, he conducts the "gamellan," the
native orchestra which accompanies every representation of the wayang;
and finally he orders the symbolical dance, which gorgeously-attired
"talèdèks" execute in the pauses of the drama. Manager, actor,
musician, singer, reciter, improvisator, and all but playwright, he is,
in himself, a pleiad of artists.

But the "dalang's" reward is proportionate to those exertions. He
and his art are alike held in almost superstitious respect. No one
dreams of criticizing his performances. If he wishes to travel, not
a town or hamlet but will give him an enthusiastic welcome. And, at
home, he enjoys that princely prerogative, immunity from taxes, his
fellow-citizens discharging his obligations in requital of the pleasure
he procures them by his wayang performances. If nothing else were
known about them, this one trait, it seems to me, would be sufficient
to prove the Javanese to be a people capable of true enthusiasm,
and a generous conception of life. There is something Greek in this
notion that holds the artist acquitted of all other duties towards the
community, since he fulfils the supreme one of giving joy.

[11] Ancient Javanese.

[Illustration: Wayang-Wong Players missing a Fight.]

[Illustration: Wayang-Wong Scene.]

At the same time that it is the chief national amusement, the
wayang-show is, in a sense, a religious act, performed in honour of
the deity, and to invoke the blessing of the gods and the favour
of the "danhjang dessa" and all other good spirits upon the giver of
the entertainment. The baleful influence of the Evil Eye, also, is
averted by nothing so surely as by a wayang-performance, wherefore no
enterprise of any importance should be entered upon without one of
these miniature dramatical representations being given. Domestic feasts
such as are held at the birth of a child, or at his circumcision,
seldom lack this additional grace. And a marriage at which Brahma,
Indra, and, above all, Ardjuna, the beloved of women, had not been
present in effigy, would be considered ill-omened from the beginning.

As soon as it becomes known that some well-known "dalang" will hold
a wayang-performance at such and such a house,[12] the village folk
from miles around come trooping toward the spot, trudging for hours,
or even days, along the sun-scorched, dust-choked highroads, an
enormous, mushroom-shaped hat on their head, and a handful of boiled
rice, neatly folded in a green leaf, tucked into their girdle. At one
of the numerous warongs or shops temporarily erected near the spot,
where the wayang is to be performed, they buy some bananas and a cup of
hot water, flavoured, perhaps, with green leaves of the coffee-plant,
and sweetened with the aromatic areng-sugar. And, provided with these
simple refreshments, they squat down upon the ground--the men on that
side of the wayang-screen where they will see the puppets, the women on
the other where the shadows are seen--and prepare to restfully enjoy
the drama.

[12] The wayang-screen is erected in the open air, in front of the

Already the last streaks of crimson and gold-shot opal have faded in
the western skies, and the grey of dusk begins to deepen into nocturnal
blackness. The evening breeze is astir in the tall tree-tops, waking
a drowsy bird here and there among the branches; it chirps sleepily
and is still again. Aloft, a single star is seen limpid and tremulous,
like a dewdrop about to fall. And the garrulous groups around the
wayang-screen gradually cease their talk.

Now the "dalang" rising, disposes, on an improvised altar, the
sacrificial gifts--fruit, and yellow rice, and flowers, and lights
the frankincense that keeps off evil spirits. Then, as the column of
odoriferous smoke ascends, sways, and disperses through the thin, cool
air, a volley of thunderous sound bursts from the "gamellan," and the
dancers appear.

Slowly they advance, in hand-linked couples, gliding rather than
walking, with so gentle a motion that it never stirs the folds of
their trailing robes, gathered at the waist by a silver clasp. Their
bare shoulders, anointed with boreh,[13] gleam duskily above the purple
slendang that drapes the bosom. Their soft round faces are set in a
multi-coloured coruscation of jewellery, a play of green and blue and
ruby-red sparks, that chase each other along the coiled strands of the
necklace and the trembling ear-pendants, and shine with a steadier
light in the richly chased tiara. A broad silver band, elaborately
ornamented, clasps the upper arm; a narrower bracelet encircles the
wrist; the fingers are a-glitter with rings.

[13] A fragrant yellow unguent.

[Illustration: Scene from a Wayang-Wong Play.]

Arrived in front of the wayang-screen they pause; with the tips of
their fingers take hold of the long embroidered scarfs and stand
expectant of the music that is to accompany their dancing. The
"gamellan" intones a plaintive melody: a medley of tinkling, and
fluting, and bell-like sounds, scanded by the long-drawn notes of the
"rebab," the Persian viol. Following the impulse of its rhythm, the
dancers raise their hands making the scarf to float along the extended
arm, and waving about the glittering silk they drape themselves in its
folds as in a veil. Then, standing with feet turned slightly inwards,
and motionless, they begin to turn and twist the body, bending this
way and that way, with the swaying movement of slim young trees that
bow beneath the passing breeze, tossing their branches. And, with
arms extended and hands spread out, they mime a ballad which some of
their companions are singing, the prologue to the play. This may be
a fragment of that ancient Hindoo poem, the Mahâ-Bhârata; or a myth
of which Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiwa are the heroes, such as there are
recorded in the Manik Maja; or, again, some episode of the Ramayana;
the "wayang poerwa" being dedicated to the representation of these
three epics. A favourite subject, popular with the men on account of
the many battles occurring in the course of the drama, and with the
women because Ardjuna, the gentle hero, has the leading part, is the
rebellion and defeat of the Titans.

In the first scene the gods appear on either hand of the "gunungan";
Indra and Brahma hold anxious counsel as to what course of action
shall be pursued, now that the audacious Titans have dared to march
against the abode of the gods; for already their armies occupy the four
quarters of Heaven, and the insolent Raksasa, their king and general,
fears not the arms of the gods, their deadly swords, and intolerable
lances, for, his huge body--all but one hidden spot--is invulnerable.
And none may conquer him, except a mortal hero, pure of all passion
and sin. Sorrowfully, Brahma lift his hands. "Such a one exists not."
But Indra bethinks him of Ardjuna, the gentle prince, who, having
utterly forsworn the glories of warfare, the pride of worldly rank
and station, and the love of women, has retired to a cavern on Mount
Indra Kila; and under the name of Sang Parta--assumed instead of the
kingly one of Ardjuna--leads a life of prayer and penitence, mortifying
his flesh, and still keeping his constant thought fixed no Shiwa, the
giver of Victory. "Maybe Sang Parta is the hero destined to overcome

[Illustration: "Topeng" played by masked actors.]

[Illustration: "Topeng" actors.]

And the other gods, divided between hope and fear, answer: "Let us put
his virtue to the test, that we may know surely." Among the heavenly
nymphs, "the widadari," there are seven, the fairest of all, famous
for many victories over saintly priests and anchorites, whom, by a
smile, they caused to break the vows they had vowed, and forsake the
god to whom they had dedicated themselves. These now are sent to tempt
Ardjuna. If he withstand them, he will be, indeed, victor of the god of

[Illustration: Slowly they advance gliding rather than walking.]

The nymphs descend on Mount Indra Kila. "The wild kine and the deer of
the mountain raise their head to gaze after them as they frolic over
the dew-lit grass. The cinnamon trees put forth young shoots, less red
than the maidens' lips. And the boulders, strewn around Sang Parta's
cavern, glisten to welcome them, as, one by one, they pass the dark
entrance." But the hermit, absorbed in pious contemplations, never
turns his averted head, never looks upon the lovely ones, nor deigns
to listen to their wooing songs. And those seven fair queens are fain
to depart, hiding their face, smarting with the pain of unrequited love.

But the gods, beholding them come back thus shamefaced and sad, rejoice

Now, to put Sang Parta's courage to the test. Shiwa, the terrible one
assumes mortal shape; and descending on Indra Kila, defies the hermit.
They fight, and Sang Parta is victor. Then Shiwa, revealing himself,
praises the anchorite for his piety and his valour; and, for a reward,
bestows upon him his own never-failing spear. After which he returns
to the council of the gods, bidding them be of good cheer, for now it
cannot be doubted any longer that Sang Parta is the hero destined to
conquer the unconquerable Raksasa.

[Illustration: Street-dancers.]

[Illustration: The dancers stand listening for the music.]

[Illustration: A Wayang representation.]

He is now summoned to the presence of the gods, and receives their
command to go forth and slay the Raksasa. A goddess arms him; and
a nymph whispers into his ear the secret on which the Titan's life
depends: his vulnerable spot is the tip of his tongue. Sang Parta now
resumes his real name; and, as Ardjuna, goes to seek Niwàtakawaka.
After many wanderings and perilous adventures, in which Shiwa's
miraculous spear stands him in good stead, he finally meets his
destined antagonist, and defies him to single combat. For a long time
they fight, each in turn seeming victor and vanquished, until, at last,
Ardjuna, feigning to have received a deadly thrust, sinks down. Then,
as the Raksasa, skipping about in insolent joy, shouts out a defiance
to the gods, Ardjuna hurls his spear at the monster's wide-opened mouth
and pierces his tongue; and the blasphemer drops down dead. The other
Titans, seeing their king fallen, fly, and the gods are saved. But
Ardjuna is rewarded for his exploits, the grateful gods bestowing upon
him seven surpassingly fair "widadari," a kingdom, and the power of
working miracles.

[Illustration: A Wayang representation.]

This drama, called Ardjuna's marriage feast, is a comparatively short
one, which may be performed in the course of one night. The majority of
wayang-plays, however, require three or four nights, or even a whole
week, for an adequate representation; and there are some which last for
a fortnight. They consist of fourteen, fifteen, or even more acts. The
number of dramatis personæ is practically unlimited; new heroes and
heroines constantly appear upon the scene; and, to render confusion
still worse confounded, they again and again change their names. Time
is annihilated, the babe, whose miraculous birth is represented in the
beginning of an act, having arrived at man's estate before the end of
it, and one generation succeeding another in the course of the play.
Generally, too, no trace of any regular plan is discoverable. Incident
follows incident, and intrigue disconnected intrigue; and, at every
turn, fresh dramatic elements are introduced. So that, as the drama
ceases--for it cannot in any proper sense be said to finish--characters
whose very names have not been mentioned before, are making love,
waging war, and holding desultory counsel about events absolutely
irrelevant, and between which and those represented in the beginning
of the drama, it is all but impossible to find the slightest connection.

[Illustration: Wayang dancers.]

To a Javanese, these endless plays hardly seem long enough. He never
wearies of the innumerable adventures of these innumerable heroes.
Titans, queens, and gods, though he has seen them represented ever
since he was a child, and probably knows them by heart, almost as
well as the "dalang" himself. He has no prejudice in favour of any
regular intrigue, with beginning, catastrophe, and end. And, as for
improbabilities, many strange things happen, day by day. And, as
for time, was not the Prophet carried up to Heaven to sojourn among
the blessed for a thousand years, whence returning to Mecca, and
entering his chamber, he found the pitcher, which he had upset in his
heavenward flight, not yet emptied of its contents? Such considerations
cannot spoil his enjoyment of the wayang. Night after night, the
Javanese sit, listening to the grandiloquent speeches of the heroes
and their courting of queens and nymphs; discussing their opinions
and principles, moral and otherwise; and, amid bursts of laughter,
applauding any witticism, with which the "dalang" may enliven his
somewhat monotonous text. And as, at last, they regretfully rise in the
reddening dawn that causes the wayang lights to pale, visions of that
heroic and beautiful world accompany them on their homeward way. The
maidens would hardly be amazed to behold Ardjuna slumbering under the
blossoming citron bush. And the young men think of Palosara, who, by
his unassisted arm, won a royal bride and the kingdom of Ngastina.




The million-footed crowd of travelling humanity has trodden Tandjang
Priok out of all beauty and pleasantness. It is nothing now but a
heap of dust rendered compact by a coating of basalt and bricks, and
bearing on its flat surface some half-dozen square squat sheds, the
whitewashed walls of which glare intolerably in the sunlight that beats
upon the barren place all day long. But, a little further down the
shore, eastwards from the harbour, the natural beauty of the country
re-asserts itself. There are wide, shallow bays, where the water sleeps
in the shadow of overhanging trees; sandy points, one projecting beyond
the other across shimmering intervals of sea; and, alternating with
open spaces where a few bamboo huts are clustered together amidst a
plantation of young banana trees, great tracts of woodland that come
down to the very margin of the water. In one place where the narrow
beach broadens out a little, some half dozen shanties, one of which
might, by courtesy, be styled a bathing-lodge, have found standing-room
between the wood and the water. Some homesick exile from France
has christened the handful of bamboo posts and atap leaves: Petite
Trouville. In the dry season, when Batavia is parched with heat and
choked with dust, people come hither for a plunge into the clear cool
waves, and for some hours of blissful idleness in the shadow of the
broad-branched njamploeng trees, which mirror their dark leafage and
clusters of white wax-like blossoms in the tide.

The day some friends took me to see the place was one of the last in
April, when the rains were not yet quite over. We had left Batavia at
half-past five, when the Koningsplein was still white with rolling
mists and the stars had but just begun to fade in the greyish sky. The
train had borne us along some distance on our way to Tandjong Priok,
ere the sun rose. Rather, ere it appeared. There had been no heralding
change of colour in the eastern sky; only the uncertain light that lay
over the landscape had gradually strengthened; and, all at once, at
some height above the horizon a triangular splendour burst forth, a
great heart of flame which was the sun. The pools and tracts of marshy
ground flooded by the recent rains were ridged with long straight
parallel lines of red. The dark tufts of palm trees here and there
shone like burnished bronze. And where they grew denser, in groups and
little groves, the blue mist hanging between the stems was pierced by
lances of reddish light.

At Tandjong Priok station, we alighted amidst a crowd of natives,
dock-labourers and coal-heavers, on their way to the ships. They took
the road in true native style, one marching behind the other, laughing
and talking as they went. And we followed them, in our jolting sadoos,
along a sunny avenue, planted with slim young trees, as far as to the
bend of the road; then we left it and entered the wood on the right,
which we had for some time been skirting.

A rough track led through it. Our sadoos jolted worse than ever in the
ruts left by the broad-wheeled carts of the peasantry. We alighted and
made our way as best we could through the grass-grown clearings of the
jungle. The sun was but just beginning to warm the air. White shreds
of mist still hung among the tree-stems, and swathed the brushwood.
The grass underfoot was white with dew, glistening with myriads of
brilliant little points where the yellow sunlight touched it. The
broadly curved banana leaves, and the feathery tufts of the palm
trees overhead began to grow transparent, standing out in light green
against the shining whiteness of the sky. There was an inexpressible
vitality and exhilaration in all things, in the fine pure air, cool as
well water, in the sparkle of the dew-lit grass, in the bushes with
large round drops trembling on every leaf, in the pungent scent of
the lantana that on every side displayed its clusters of pink, mauve
and orange red blossoms. It was good to feel wet through on the tramp
through the drenched tangle, to feel the blood tingling in the finger
tips, the lungs full of quickening air, and the sunshine right in your
eyes. It was good to be alive.

After a while, we came to a little campong, some five or six bamboo
huts, grouped together in an open space of the wood. Some naked
children were playing around a fire of sticks and dry leaves. Under
a shed, a woman stood pounding rice in a hollowed-out wooden block,
whilst another carrying a child in her slendang, talked to her. There
were no men about, save one old fellow, white-haired and decrepit, who
sat in his doorway, mending nets. In that sunny forest clearing, that
was the one thing suggestive of the neighbouring sea.

Past the village there are several tanks of brackish water, where fish
is bred for Chinese consumption. Tangles of green weed floated on the
surface, which, in places, seemed to be filmed over with oily colours.
A man walked along the shore, dredging. Beyond, the wood recommenced.
But it was less dense there; great patches of sunlight lay on the
ground, and the sky showed everywhere through the stems. As we issued
out of the dappled shade, we beheld the sea.

Calm and clear, it lay under the calm clear sky, a silvery splendour
suffused in places with the faintest blue. Not a ripple disturbed the
lustrous smoothness. Only, out in the open, the water heaved with a
scarcely perceptible swell, its rise and subsidence revealed by a
rhythmic pulsation of colour--streaks of pale turquoise breaking out
upon the pearly monochrome, kindling into azure and gradually fainting
and fading again. To the westward the mole of Tandjong Priok and the
two bar-iron light-towers, standing seemingly close together, had
dwindled to a narrow dark line with, at its extreme point, two little
black filigree figures delicately defined against the shimmering white
of sea and sky. Near the shore, a fishing-prao, its slight hull almost
disappearing under the immense white winglike sail, lay still above its
motionless reflection. In the eastern distance, a group of islands,
ethereal as cloudlets, hung where the sheen of the sea and the shimmer
of the sky flowed together into one tremulous splendour, dazzling and
colourless. The beach with a nipah-thatched hut on the right and a
group of spreading njamploeng trees on the left framed the radiant
vista with sober browns and greens.

The morning was still, without a breath of air; and, all around, the
foliage hung motionless. Yet, as we walked over the fine grey sand,
which already felt hot under foot, there came drifting down to us now
and again, whiffs of a sweet subtle fragrance, as of March violets;
and transparent blossoms, fluttering down, whitened the shell-strewed
beach. Then njamploengs were in flower.

Looking at that dark-leaved grove on the margin of the water, I thought
I had seldom seen nobler trees. Not very tall; but round and broad,
great hemispheres of foliage squarely supported on column-like trunks.
In their general air and bearing, in the character of the oblong leaves
and their elegant poise upon the branch, they somewhat resemble the
walnuts of northern countries. The colour is even richer, a vigorous
bluish green, swarthy at a distance; and, when seen near at hand, as
full of tender beryl-tints as a field of young oats, with watery gleams
and glories playing through the depths of the foliage. For a crowning
grace, the njamploeng has its blossoms, fragrant, white, and of a
wax-like transparency--cups of milky light. Standing under an ancient
tree, that overhung the water with trailing branches and a tangle of
wave-washed roots, I could see the luminous clusters shining in that
dome of dusky leafage, like stars in an evening sky. And the water in
the shadow gleamed with pale reflections.

The sea that morning passed through a succession of chromatic changes.
The silvery smoothness of an hour ago had been broken by a ripple,
that came and went in dashes of ruffled ultra-marine. Then, here and
there, purplish patches appeared, which presently began to spread until
they touched, and flowed together, and the sea, all along the shore,
seemed turned to muddy wine whilst, out in the open, it sparkled in a
rich blue-green, rippling and flickering. At noon, the purplish brown
had disappeared, and the emerald-like tints had faded and changed to
an uncertain olive-green. The sky as yet retained its morning aspect,
cloudless and shimmering with a white brilliancy as if all the stars of
the Milky Way had been dissolved in it. Under that enduring paleness,
the fitful colouring and flushing of the sea seemed all the stranger.

As the day advanced, the heat had steadily increased, and, at last, it
was intolerable. About ten, when we swam out into the sea, the water,
even where it grew deeper, felt tepid; a little after noon, it was
warm. The windless air quivered. And the sand was so hot as to scorch
our bare feet when we attempted to step out of the circular shadow of
the njamploengs, where a little coolness as yet remained.

A dead quiet lay on sea and land. There was neither wind nor wave, not
the thinnest shadow of a sailing cloud, to temper for an instant the
unbearable glare. The foliage overhead was the one spot of colour in
a white-hot universe. There must be cicadas among the leaves: I had
heard them trilling, earlier in the day; but the heat had reduced them
to silence. Even the black ants, crawling among the roots, and in the
fissures of the rough rind of the trees seemed to move but listlessly.
From where I sat, I could see, framed by the circular sweep of the
hanging foliage, a stretch of beach, with some huts amidst a banana
plantation, and, further down, a native boat lying keel upwards upon
the sand. A lean dog crouched in the shadow, panting with tongue
hanging out. No other living creature was to be seen.

The afternoon was far gone before there came a change, imperceptible
at first, a gradual sobering of colour, and a growing definiteness in
the contours of trees and bushes. Then, the air began to cool down.
The horizon grew distinct; a curve of rich green against sunlit blue; a
short ripple roughened the water; and, suddenly, the breeze sprang up,
driving before it a wave that hurried and rose, and broke foaming upon
the beach. The tide was coming in.

It was as if the inspiriting hour, that changed the face of land
and sea, made itself felt also in the little brown huts under the
trees, stirring up the folk into briskness and activity. Merry voices
and the cries of children mingled with the sound of hammer strokes,
reverberating along the wooded beach. Among the trees, I could discern
the figure of a man bending over his boat, tool in hand; and a woman
coming out of her door with a bundle of clothes under one arm. Where
the lengthening shadow of the njamploeng trees fell on the sunny water,
two young girls were bathing; somewhat further down, a swarm of naked
urchins waded through the shallows, in search of mother-of-pearl.
The yellow sunlight shone on their little brown bodies, and made the
ripples sparkle around them as they splashed hither and thither,
feeling about with their feet for the flat sharp shards which the tide
leaves buried in the sands. Standing still for an instant, when they
had found one, they balanced on one foot, whilst, with the clenched
toes of the other they picked up the shiny piece, with a supple,
monkey-like movement. Presently, along came an old man, in a straw
topee broad-rimmed hat and a faded reddish sarong, who entered the
sea, and waded towards the spot, where, that morning,--when it was as
yet dry land--he had erected his "tero," the pliable bamboo palisade,
which, arranged in the shape of a V, with the opening towards the
shore, serves as a trap for fish. The hurdle was all but overflowed
now, only the points of the bamboo stakes emerging above the rising
tide, like the rigging of some wrecked and sunken ship. The old man
gave it a shake, to assure himself of having driven it deep enough down
into the sand, to withstand the impact of the waves; and, satisfied
upon this point, limped away again, with the air of a man who had
finished his day's work. He might lie down on his baleh-baleh now, and
peacefully smoke his cigarette. Whilst he was taking his ease, the sea
would provide for his daily fish. In a few minutes, the tide would
have submerged his "tero," and the heedless fish would swim across it;
and, as the water ebbed away again, they would be driven against the
converging sides of the lattice-work, and, presently, be left gasping
upon the bars. Then, the women of the village would come with their
baskets, and gather the living harvest, as they might a windfall of
ripe fruit; and his grandson, out at sea now, with the other young men,
would hang two full baskets to his bending yoke, and with the fire-car
go to Batavia, there to sell the fish for much money, a handful of
copper doits. Even, if he had caught "kabak" which the orang blandah
like, and "gabus," of which the rich Chinese are fond, the boy might
bring him home some silver coins. And his grand-daughter would salt and
dry in the sun the smaller fry, and make "ikan kring" for him and all
the household.

Happy the man who has dutiful children! In his old age, when he is
able no longer to earn his sustenance, he will not want; he need not
beg, nor borrow from the kampong folk; and he will not be tempted to
invoke Kjaï Belorong, the wicked goddess of wealth, who, in exchange
for riches, demands men's souls. Do not all in this kampong know of
Pah-Sidin, and what became of him after he had prayed to the evil
sprite? Here is the tale, as the old fisherman gave it me.

He was a poor man, Pah-Sidin, unlucky in whatever he undertook, and so
utterly ignorant as not to know one single "ilmu."[14] So that, though
his wife worked from morning till night, weaving and batiking sarongs,
and tending the garden and the field, and selling fruit and flowers,
things went from bad to worse with him. And at last, there was not a
grain of rice left in the house, and the green crop in the field was
the property of the usurer. His wife, weeping, said: "O Pah-Sidin!
how now shall we feed and clothe our little ones, Sidin, and all the
others?" But he, vexed with her importunities, and weary of fasting
and going about in faded clothes, without a penny to buy sirih or
pay his place at a cock-fight, said: "Be silent! for I know where to
find great wealth." Then he went away, and walked along the shore for
many days, until he came to a place where there were great rocks, and
caves in which the water made a sound as of thunder. Here lives the
dread goddess, Njai Loro Kidul, the Virgin Queen of the Southern Seas,
whom the gatherers of edible birds' nest invoke, honouring her with
sacrifices before they set out on their perilous quest. And here, too,
lives her servant, wicked Kjaï Belorong, the money-goddess.

[14] Charm to conjure good fortune.

Pah-Sidin, standing in the entrance of a black and thunderous cave,
strewed kanangan flowers, and melatih, and yellow champaka, and burnt
costly frankincense, and, as the cloud of fragrant smoke ascended, he
fell on his face, and cried: "Kjaï Belorong! I invoke thee! I am poor
and utterly wretched! Do thou give me money, and I will give thee
my soul, O Kjaï Belorong!" Then, a voice, which caused the blood to
run cold in his veins, answered: "I hear thee, Pah-Sidin." He arose,
trembling, and, as he turned his head, saw that the cave was a house,
large, and splendid, and full of golden treasure. But, as he looked
closer, behold! it was built of human bodies; floor, walls, and roof
all made of living men, who wept and groaned, crying: "Alas, alas! who
can endure these unendurable pains!" And the horrible voice, speaking
for the second time, asked: "Pah-Sidin, hast thou courage?"

Pah-Sidin, at first, seemed as though he would have fainted with
horror. But soon, reflecting how he was young and strong, and the hour
of his death far off as yet, and hoping, also, that, in the end, he
might be able to deceive Kjaï Belorong and save his soul, whilst in the
meanwhile, he would enjoy great honour and riches, he answered; "Kjaï
Belorong, I have courage!" And, the voice spoke for the third time:
"It is well! Go back to thine own house now; for, soon, I will come to

So, Pah-Sidin returned to his house, and waited for Kjaï Belorong,
saying nothing of the matter to his wife. And, in the night, she came,
and sat upon the baleh-baleh, and said: "Embrace me, Pah-Sidin, for
now I am thy love." Pah-Sidin would willingly have kissed her, for she
seemed as fair as the bride of the love-god. But, looking down, he saw
that, instead of legs and feet, she had a long scaly tail; then he was
afraid, and would have fled. But Kjaï Belorong, seizing him in her
arms, said: "If thou but triest to escape, I will kill thee," and she
pressed him to her bosom so violently that the breath forsook his body,
and he lay as one dead. Then she loosened her grasp, and disappeared,
rattling her tail. But when Pah-Sidin returned to consciousness, he
saw, in the faint light of the dawn, the baleh-baleh all strewn with
yellow scales, and each scale was a piece of the finest gold.

Pah-Sidin now was as the richest Rajah: he had a splendid house, with
granaries and stables, fine horses, great plantations of palms and
jambus and all other kinds of fruit, and rich _sawahs_ that stretched
as far as a man on horseback could see. He abandoned his wife, who was
no longer young, and was worn out with care and labour; and married
the daughter of a wealthy Rajah, and three other maidens, as fair
as bidadaris. And, whenever he wished for more money, Kjaï Belorong
came to him in the night, and embraced him, and gave him more than he
had asked for. Thus the years went by in great glory and happiness,
until the hair of his head began to grow white, and his eyes lost
their brilliancy, and his black and shining teeth fell out. Then, one
night, Kjaï Belorong came to his couch, unsummoned, looked at him, and
said: "Pah-Sidin! the hour is come. Follow me and I will make thee the
threshold of my palace." But Pah-Sidin made answer, and said: "Alas!
Kjaï Belorong! look at me, how lean I am! my ribs almost pierce through
the skin of my side. Assuredly, thou wilt hurt thy tail in passing over
me, if thou makest me the threshold of thy house. Rather take with thee
my plough-boy, who is young, and plump, and smooth!"

Then Kjaï Belorong took the plough-boy. And Pah-Sidin married a new
wife, and lived merrier than before. Thus ten years went by in great
glory and happiness. But, on the last night of the tenth year, Kjaï
Belorong again came to his couch, unsummoned, and looked at him, and
said: "Pah-Sidin! the hour is come. Follow me, and I will make thee
the pillar of my palace." But Pah-Sidin made answer and said: "Alas!
Kjaï Belorong! look at me, how weak I am! my shoulders are so bent I
can scarcely keep the badju jacket from gliding down. Assuredly, thy
roof will fall in and crush thee, if thou makest me the pillar of thy
house. Rather take with thee my youngest brother, who is strong, and
tall, and broad of shoulders!"

Then Kjaï Belorong took the brother. But Pah-Sidin married yet another
new wife, and lived even merrier than hitherto. Thus ten more years
went by in great glory and happiness. But, on the last night of the
tenth year, Kjaï Belorong for the third time came to his couch,
unsummoned, looked at him, and spoke: "Pah-Sidin! the hour is come.
Follow me, and I will make thee the hearth-stone of my palace!" And
Pah-Sidin made answer, and said: "Alas! Kjaï Belorong! look at me,
how cold I am and covered all over with a clammy sweat! Assuredly
thy fire will smoulder and go out if thou makest me the hearthstone
of thy house. Rather take with thee my eldest son, Sidin, who is
healthy, and warm, and dry!" But the wicked Kjaï Belorong, in a voice
which made Pah-Sidin's heart stand still, screamed: "I will take
none but thee, old man! and, since thou art so cold and wet, I will
bid my imperishable fire warm and dry thee!" And with these words
the demon seized Pah-Sidin by the throat, and carried him off to her
horrible abode, there to be the stone upon which her hearth-fire burns

At the conclusion of this long tale, the old fisherman drew a sigh of
relief. "Such is the fate of those who let themselves be conquered by
greed and the wiles of wicked Kjaï Belorong. But I, njonja, need have
no fear. For my children are dutiful, and provide for all my wants.
Nor need any one else in this dessa fear. For we are all pious men, who
pray to the Prophet and the Toewan Allah. Thus we are safe."

Indeed, to judge from the appearance of these good-natured, frugal and
careless people, I should have fancied that the money-goddess could not
make many victims among them.

But their safety is threatened by yet another enemy,--a much more
energetic one than Kjaï Belorong to all appearance: to wit "My Lord
the Crocodile." The coast swarms with these brutes; and according to
official reports, quite a number of people are annually devoured by

They infest especially the marshy country around the mouth of the Kali
Batawi, where they may sometimes be seen, lying half in the water and
half upon a mudbank, their wicked little eyes blinking in the sunlight,
their formidable jaws agape and showing the bright yellow of the
gullet. There, they wait for the carcases of drowned animals and the
offal of all kinds floating down the river. Imprudent bathers are often
attacked by them, and they even swim up the water-courses, and venture
for considerable distances inland.

The Government, some years ago, put a premium on the capture of
crocodiles, a relatively high sum being offered for a carcase. But the
measure had to be withdrawn after a while, and this, though, to all
appearance, it worked excellently well. Numbers of crocodiles were
caught and killed; not a day went by but natives presented themselves
at the police stations, exhibiting a limp carcase slung on to a bamboo
frame, which a score of coolies "pikoled"[15] along. Harassed officials
began to believe in a universe peopled exclusively by Malays and dead
or dying crocodiles; and philanthropists rejoiced over an imminent
extermination of caymans, and the consequent safety for bathers.
But there were those who understood the nature of both natives and
crocodiles, and who considered their ways; and they smiled a smile of
wisdom and ineffable pity, as they looked upon the dead saurians, and
saw that they were young. The philanthropists contended that a little
crocodile was a crocodile nevertheless, and would, in its own bad time,
be a big crocodile, and one which feasted on the flesh of men and
women and innocent children; but those wise men only smiled the more.
And, presently one of them took a philanthropist by the hand, and led
him by quiet waters, and showed him how men and women sought for the
eggs of the crocodile, and gathered them in their bosom, and watched
the young come out, and reared them even with a father's care and
loving-kindness, to the end that they might wax fat and kick, and be
bound with iron chains, and delivered over to the schout.[16]

The crocodiles now are left to multiply and replenish the shores of
Java; and nobody molests them, except now and then some adventurous
sportsman, upon whom tigers have palled, and who cares but little for
"bantengs,"[17] and holds the rhinoceros of no account. And, generally,
too, though he lie in wait for a crocodile, he catches only a fever--of
a particularly malignant kind, it is true.

[15] To pikol = to carry a load slung on a pole.

[16] A police official.

[17] The wild buffalo.

The Malays, as a rule, do not readily kill crocodiles. They believe
that the spirits of the dead are re-incarnated in these animals; so
that, what seems a repulsive and dangerous beast, may, in reality,
be an honoured father, or a long lamented bride. And they piously
prefer the risk of being devoured to the certainty of becoming
murderers. Far from injuring, they honour the "cayman" by sacrifices
of rice, meat, and fruit, which they send down the river in little
baskets of palm-leaves with a light twinkling a-top; a gift offered
whenever a child is born, to propitiate the metamorphosed ancestors
in river and sea, and implore their protection for this, their newly
born descendant. Human feelings and susceptibilities are attributed
to them which the Malay carefully abstains from wounding. He never
speaks but of "My Lord the Crocodile." And a wayang-play, such as, for
instance, Krokosono, the hero of which defeats and kills the King of
the Crocodiles, no dalang would dream of representing in a place where
caymans could hear or see it. There is one act, however, by which a
crocodile forfeits all claim to respect: and that is killing a human
being. From his supposed human nature, it evidently follows that this
is an act of malice prepense, a crime knowingly committed; and, as
such, should be punished as it would be were the perpetrator a man or a
woman--that is, with death. It would seem too as if the guilty creature
were conscious of his crime, and, sometimes, out of sheer remorse, gave
himself up to justice. At least, a story to this effect is told of a
certain crocodile, which had devoured a little girl, and this, though
the child's parents had duly offered rice and meat and fruit, at the
stated times; of which gifts this crocodile had undoubtedly had his
share. The parents, weeping, sought a hermit who lived not far from the
"dessa" or village, a wise man who understood the language of animals;
and implored him to restore at least the remains of their daughter's
little body to them, and to visit with condign punishment her brutal
murderer. The hermit, moved with pity and indignation, forthwith left
his cave, and repaired to the sea-shore. There, standing with his feet
in the waves, he pronounced the potent spell which all crocodiles
must obey. They came, hurrying, from far and near: the shore bristled
with their scaly backs ranged in serried rank and file. When all were
present, the hermit addressed them in their own tongue, declaring that
one of them had committed the unpardonable crime of murder, murder
upon an innocent child, whose parents had offered sacrifices for her
at her birth: rice and fruit and meat, of which they all had partaken,
in token of amity and good will. So abominable a breach of good faith
should not be suffered to remain unpunished. Wherefore, let him who had
perpetrated it, stand forth! But all the others, let them withdraw into
the sea! The crocodiles heard. The solid land seemed to heave and break
up, as the congregated thousands dispersed. But one crocodile remained
behind on the beach. It crawled nearer and lay down at the feet of
the hermit. And the father of the little girl, approaching, drew his
"kris," and thrust it into the creature's eyes, killing it. The holy
man then took out of the monster's jaws the necklace of blue beads,
which the little girl had worn, and handed it to the father, promising
him that, within the year, his wife would bear him another daughter,
even fairer than the lost one. But the carcase of the crocodile was
devoured by the dogs.

Something in the landscape near Petite Trouville brought back to my
memory this tale, heard from a village priest some time ago. It was a
fit scene for such events. That brown hut among the bananas might have
been the abode of the hapless little maid. The dense wood, behind,
might well shelter an anchorite, some old man, wise and humble, content
to live on wild fruit and learn from the birds among the branches and
the fish in the sea; assuredly, he would stand upon the little spit of
land that has the njamploeng on it, and the crocodiles, obedient to
his command, would raise their formidable heads from the water, and
with their serried ranks cover the shelving beach.... Very peaceful it
lay now, in the light of the setting sun. The sea shone golden. And
already, among the blossom-laden branches of the njamploeng, there
began to rustle the sea breeze, precursor of deepbreathed Night.






The Javanese Sans-Souci[18] lies cradled in a fold of the undulating
country at the base of the Salak, whose blue top, twin to that of
the Gedeh, is seen, in fine weather, from the Koningsplein, rising
aerially, fresh, and pure, above the dusty glare of Batavia. The
village is pretty,--all brown atap houses and gardens full of roses,
with the wooded hill-side for a background. One may wander for hours
in the splendid Botanical Garden, reputed to be the finest in the
world, and a goal of pilgrimage for scientists from every part of the
globe. Whoever visits the place in September may combine these tranquil
pleasures with the gaiety of the annual races, and the great ball at
the Buitenzorg Club, where "all Java" dances. I went in the last week
of the month, glad to escape from the town, which, at this time of the
year, is unbearable, scorched with the heat of the east monsoon and
stifled under a layer of dust, which makes the grass of the gardens
crumble away, and turns the "assam" trees along the river and in the
squares into grey spectres. The country through which the first part
of my road lay, seemed, however scarcely desolate. Nothing but flat
monotonous fields, some altogether bare and grey, others still covered
with yellowish stubble, through which the cracks and fissures of the
parched soil showed. Here and there, a patch of green, where some
huddled brown roofs and a group of thin palm-trees denoted a native
hamlet, forlorn in the wide arid plain. Then, again, bare brown fields,
where no living creature was to be seen, except, now and then, a herd
of dun buffaloes wallowing in the ooze of some dried-up pool.

[18] Buitenzorg, literally translated, means "away from sorrow or care."

By and bye, however, the character of the landscape began to change.
The rich blue-green of the young rice-crops, seen first in isolated
squares and patches, spread all over the gradually-ascending fields.
Along the course of a rapid rivulet, a bamboo grove sprang up, lithe
stems bending a little under their cascades of waving dull-green
foliage. Then the rice-clad undulations of the ground began to rise
into little hills, green to the very top, and down the sides of which
the water, that fed the terraced fields trickled in many a twisting
silvery thread; and suddenly on the left, rose the great triangular
mass of the Salak, dull-blue in the sober evening light. It was almost
dark when the train stopped at the Buitenzorg station. It stands at
some distance from the village; and, as I drove thither, sights and
sounds reached me that denoted the hilly country. The wheels of the cab
creaked over whitish pebbles clean as gravel from the rocky riverbed.
The gardens on each side of the road were full of flowers, that gleamed
palely through the semi-darkness. The voices of passers-by, the
laughter of children at play, the tones of a flute somewhere in the
distance, sounded clear and far through the thinner air. As I entered
the village, I noticed that the houses were built of bamboo instead of
the brick, which is the usual material in the clayey lowlands.

[Illustration: Buffaloes at grass.]

[Illustration: Avenue leading to the Botanical Garden.]

It is said that these bamboo houses, covered with atap, withstand the
shock of earthquakes, frequent in this country, much better than brick
buildings with tiled roofs. However that may be, their rural aspect
harmonizes with the landscape: and they are delightful to inhabit, cool
under the noonday heat, and proof against the torrential rains, which,
at Buitenzorg, fall every day, between two and four in the afternoon. I
lived for some time in a little pavilion,--wooden floor, pàgar walls,
and a roof of atap; a pleasanter abode I never knew. It was almost like
living in a hermit's cell out in the woods. I was never sure whether
the soft creaking noises heard all night through came from the bamboo
grove in the garden, or from the bamboo in my wall. The crickets seemed
to sing in my very ears; and a faint, sweet smell pervaded the little
room, such as breathes from the leafage, dead and living, of a forest.
Like a cenobite's cell, too, my pavilion was not meant for a storehouse
of worldly treasures. Even if moths and rust did not corrupt, thieves
would have quite exceptional facilities for breaking through and
stealing them. "Breaking through" is too energetic and vigorous a term;
with an ordinary penknife, one might cut away enough of the walls to
admit a battalion of burglars. Reading, one day, a French translation
of Don Quixote, I rested the ponderous folio, which tired my arms,
against the wall. It instantly gave way, sinking in, as if it had been
a canvas awning. I do not doubt that, with my embroidery scissors, I
might have cut out an elegant open-work pattern in it.

The morning after my arrival, I was up betimes and on my way to the
Botanical Garden. It was early as yet, a little after sunrise, and
the air felt as cool and as pure as well-water. A frost-like dew had
whitened the grass; shreds of mist hung between the trees, trailed
along the hillside, and floated like low white clouds in the depths of
the ravine, where the river foamed past over the boulders of its rocky
bed. And, in the branches, the birds were twittering and singing their
little hearts out. I met some natives on the way to their morning bath
hugging themselves in the folds of the "baju," the women among them
having the "slendang" drawn over their heads. They walked at a brisk
pace, very different from the listless movements of pedestrians in the
sultry streets of Batavia. The type was of another kind, a slightly
oval face, with a thin nose somewhat aquiline in design, and very
brilliant eyes; the complexion of a clear yellowish brown, with a touch
of red in the lips. They had an elastic gait, and the free carriage of
the head peculiar to hillfolk. Some of the young girls were absolutely

[Illustration: A Nipah Palm.]

[Illustration: The Brantas River. Malang.]


I asked my way of an old woman who sat by the roadside, complacently
smoking a cigarette, and soon found myself within the gates of the
Botanical Garden, and in the celebrated waringin avenue, one of the
glories of the place. The first impression, I confess, is somewhat
disappointing. The avenue is not very long, so that it lacks the depths
of green darkness, the prospect along apparently converging parallels
of pillar-like trunks, and the bluish shimmer of light afar off, which
are the characteristic charms of woodland glades. It seems more like a
square, planted with trees on two sides of the quadrangle only,
a comparatively narrow space of shadow, abutting on the broad fields
of sunlight beyond. After a while, however, one notices the smallness
of the figures moving past the trees, men, horses, and bullock-carts.
By comparison, one begins to realize the gigantic proportions of it
all,--the length and breadth and height of the leafy vault overhead,
and the hugeness of those stupendous growths that support it, each of
them a grove in itself, congregated hundreds of trees, group by group
of stately stems crowding round the colossal parent bole. Then, bye
and bye, the sense of grandeur is succeeded by a curious impression
of lifelessness. In their vast size, their stark immobility, and
their rigid attitudes, these grey masses resemble granite peaks and
cliffs rather than trees. The aged trunks, broadbased, are riven and
fissured like weather-beaten rocks, showing gnarled protuberances
and black clefts from which ferns and mosses droop. Some, rotten to
the core--nothing left of the trunk but a fragment of grey gnarled
rind, with the fungus-overgrown mould lying heaped up against the
base--resemble boulders, covered with earth and detritus. One or two,
quite decayed, hang in mid-air, dependent from a dome of interlacing
branches, stems, and air-roots, like some gigantic stalactite from the
roof of a pillared cavern. And, aloft, the dense masses of foliage,
grey against the sunlit brilliancy of the sky, seem like the broken
and crumbling vault of this immense grotto. This strange resemblance
of living vegetable matter to inert stone ceases only when, issuing
from among the stems, one looks at the waringins from a distance, and
sees the grey multitude of boles, trunks, and stems disappearing under
spreading masses of foliage, resplendent in the sun.

[Illustration: A Hill-man.]

[Illustration: In the depth of the ravine.]

The garden is worthy of this magnificent entrance. Enthusiastic
"savants" have sung its praises in all the languages of civilization,
and, by common consent, have declared it to be the finest botanical
garden in the world, assigning the second place to famous Kew, and
mentioning the gardens of Berlin, Paris, and Vienna as third, fourth,
and fifth in order of merit. Originally, it was no more than the park
belonging to the country-house, which Governor-General Van Imhoff built
here in 1754: a house since destroyed by an earth-quake, and on the
site of which the present lodge was erected.

[Illustration: Watch-men.]

In this park, Professor Bernwardt, some eighty years ago, arranged a
small botanical garden, a "hortus" as the innocent pedantry of the
period called it. The idea was to gather in this fertile spot specimens
of all the plants and trees growing in Java, so as to afford men of
science an opportunity for studying the flora of the island. By and
bye, however, especially under the direction of Teysmann, many plants
from other countries were introduced, with a view of acclimatizing
them in Java, often with signal success. And, recently, a museum and
a library have been established, as well as several laboratories for
chemical, botanical, and pharmaceutical research. For the cultivation
of such plants as require a cool climate, gardens have been laid out
on the terraced hill-side, in ascending tiers that climb up to the
heights of Tji-Bodas, where in the early morning, the temperature is
10° Celsius. These ameliorations, for the greater part, are due to the
untiring energy of the eminent scientist now directing the garden.

[Illustration: Prinsenlaan-corner, Batavia.]

[Illustration: The beautiful tall reeds of the sugar cane, their
pennon-like leaves gleaming in the sunshine.]

[Illustration: Avenue of old waringin trees, Botanical Garden,

But, that morning, as I wandered through the tall avenues of the
Buitenzorg Park, the thought of its importance as a scientific
institution disappeared before the perception of its exquisite
loveliness. Not a beauty of line and colour merely: it has these--the
park is admirably arranged, in broad effects of light and shadow,
dark hued groves and avenues contrasting with sunny expanses of lawn
and copse and mirroring lake; but there is something over and above
all this, an element of beauty as subtle and elusive as the transient
sparkle of a sun-beam, or the fitful comings and goings of the summer
wind. Perhaps it was the extraordinary brilliancy of the colours, and
the shimmer in the rain-saturated atmosphere; or perhaps it was the
profound quietude all around, a stillness so perfect that it seemed it
must endure for ever. I do not know what may have been the elements
that made up the nameless charm. But I yielded myself up to it; and it
seemed to me, as if I were walking in a dream, amidst objects at once
unreal and singularly distinct. For a long time I sat by the shore of
a little lake, that had an islet in the midst of it, all overgrown
with brushwood, and great tangles of liana, that opened hundreds of
pale violet flowers to the sunlight; in the centre there rose a group
of young palms, of the sort that has a bright red stem; and all these
colours, the many-tinted green and the lilac and the scarlet were
mirrored so vividly in the clear water as to almost make the reflection
seem brighter than the reality.... By and by, following a path that
wandered out of sunshine into chequered shadow, and out of shadow into
sunlight again, I came to a vast sweep of meadowy ground, where herds
of reddish deer were feeding as peacefully as in a forest clearing.
Presently I found myself in a great dim avenue of kenari-trees, through
whose sombre branches the sky showed but faintly; and anon in a bamboo
grove where there was a continual rustling and waving of leaves though
not the slightest breath of wind could be felt to stir the air.

[Illustration: A cactus in flower.]

[Illustration: Gum tree, Botanical Garden, Buitenzorg.]

[Illustration: Palm trees in the Botanical Garden.]

Here and there through gaps in the trees came a sudden glimpse of the
distant valley, with the river shining between the light-green
rice fields, and beyond the encircling hills. Everywhere, too, the
presence of living water made itself felt, in the cool damp air, and
in the delicious smell of moist earth, wet stones, and water-plants.
And I would suddenly catch the silvery gleams, between the bushes, of
a brooklet hurrying past over its pebbly bed, and foaming in small
cascades that be-sprinkled the ferns and tall nodding grasses upon
the bank with scintillating spray. Here and there, I heard the murmur
and tinkle of a fountain; and I passed by quiet ponds and lakelets,
dark green in the shadow of overhanging trees. One of these sheets of
water--or rather the streamlet into which it narrows at one end--is
completely overgrown with white lotus flowers; and a sight more
exquisitely beautiful cannot be imagined. It burst upon me suddenly,
as I came out of a long, dark avenue; and, at first, I could not
make out what that white splendour was. It seemed to float like a
luminous summer cloud, like a snowy drift of morning mist. A breath
of wind arose, and the even splendour trembled and seemed to break
up into hundreds of white flames and sparks, that for an instant all
blew one way, and then shot up again, and stood steadily shining. As
I came nearer, I discerned the great, round white flowers, radiant
in the sunshine. The circular, purplish brown leaves spread all over
the surface of the water, covering it from bank to bank. And, out of
these heaps of bronze shields, there rose the straight tall stems,
like lances, with the white flame of the flower breaking out at the
top--sparks of St. Elmo's fire, such as, on that memorable night,
tipped the spears of the Roman cohorts, on their march to battle and

[Illustration: A waringin-tree.]

[Illustration: A path leading from sunshine into dappled shade and from
shade into sunshine again.]

[Illustration: A bamboo-grove where was an incessant rustling and
waving of foliage though no wind.]

[Illustration: Carriers walking by the side of their lumbering,
bullock-drawn pedati, which creaks along the sun-scorched roads.]

This field of radiant lotus blossoms, and the sombre and solemn
waringin avenue, contrasting glories, seem to me to be the crowning
beauties of the Buitenzorg garden. The name of Buitenzorg, by the bye,
is an innovation. Natives still call the town by its ancient name of
Bogor, which it bore in the glorious age when it was the capital
of the Hindoo realm of Padjadjaran. A Muslim conqueror, Hassan Udin,
son of the Sheik Mulana, destroyed it; and a new town was reared on
the ruins, but legends of its bygone glory still haunt the imagination
of the country folk. In the tales which they repeat to one another
of an evening, the splendour of the ancient empire, and the wisdom
and unconquerable valour of its founder are still remembered. Tjioeng
Wonara was his name; and his son and successor, the victorious Praboe
Wangi, was even greater than he. In the craggy hill-tops of the Gedeh
range, popular tradition sees the ruins of the splendid palace he built
himself on the heights; the hall where the throne of gold and ivory
stood; the temple, where he worshipped the gods; the domes of his
harem; and the battlemented towers which his unconquerable warriors
kept against the world, a thousand years ago. The southern wall of
the Gedeh-crater surrounds, as an impregnable bulwark, the palace and
temple courts.

The Hindoo period, however, has left in this neighbourhood records
more authentic than Praboe Wangi's fancy-built palace on the heights.
Near a native kampong, which derives its name from this proximity, the
so-called Batu Tulis is found, a field covered with a quantity of stone
slabs, some lying prone, others still upright, adorned with figures in
bas-relief and covered with inscriptions. The legend on the largest of
these memorial tablets, traced in ancient Javanese characters, has been
deciphered; it celebrates the virtues and victories of a Hindoo king.
And the worn-away superscriptions and rude effigies discernible on the
other stones probably commemorate contemporary princes and warriors.
The Bogor country-folk greatly venerate these relics of a glorious past.

[Illustration: Palm trees and Arancaria.]

[Illustration: A tall gloomy avenue of kenari trees, the sky but
faintly showing through their sombre branches.]

[Illustration: Submerged rice-fields.]

Carriers walking by the side of their lumbering, bullock-drawn
"pedati," which creaks so leisurely along the sun-scorched roads;
labourers on their way to the rice fields, the light wooden ploughshare
across their shoulders, driving the patient yoke of oxen before them;
women from the hill-villages around, who come to the Bogor market in
holiday attire, a chaplet of jessamine blossoms twisted into their
"kondeh"--all turn aside from the road, to murmur a short prayer, and
offer a handful of flowers, of frankincense and yellow boreh unguent,
or even Chinese joss-sticks and small paper lanterns on the consecrated
spot. Whether this be an act of homage to those ancient kings and
heroes, whose rude effigies adorn the stones, and whose spirits are
believed still to haunt the spot; or simply a fetishistic adoration
of these blocks of granite and the curious signs engraved thereon, it
is difficult to decide; the worshippers themselves hardly seem
to know. When asked, they reply that they do as their fathers did
before them, and so, therefore, must be right; unless, indeed, they
merely smile, and offer the somewhat irrelevant remark that they are
true Moslemin. This, indeed, every native of Java (save such few as
have been converted to the Christian religion) professes himself to
be. And, in a measure, the Javanese are Mohammedans; they recite the
Mohammedan prayers and Confession of Faith, go to the Messigit--which
is Javanese for mosque--when it suits them, keep the Ramadan very
strictly; also, if they can afford it, they perform that most sacred
duty of the Mohammedan, the Mecca pilgrimage, and, returning thence,
live for ever on the purses of their admiring co-religionists. But
for the rest, one may apply to them Napoleon's dictum concerning the
Russians--mutatis mutandis. Scratch the Muslim, and you will find
the Hindoo; scratch the Hindoo, and you will find the fetish-adoring
Pagan. In the same way, too, as they confuse religious beliefs, they
distort historical facts and traditions so as to make them tally with
the prevalent opinions of the day. This Batu Tulis, for instance;
though they venerate it as a record of the Hindoo empire, they yet,
at the same time, honour it as a monument of the Mohammedan conquest.
According to them, these roughly-fashioned stones, of which, they say,
there are over eight hundred dispersed throughout the neighbourhood,
are the transformed shapes of Siliwangi, last King of Padjadjaran, and
his followers, who, in this spot, their last refuge on flight from the
victorious Muslim hosts, were turned into stones by Tuan Allah, as a
punishment for their persistent refusal to embrace El-Islam; and the
superscription celebrating the Hindoo prince they make out to be the
record of this miracle. A touch of romance clings to the grim legend
like a tender-petalled flower to a rock. It concerns the impress of
a foot, visible on one of the slabs, and a fair princess who left it
there, many centuries ago. Alone of all that multitude that fled with
Siliwangi, she, the consort of valiant Poerwakali, his son, escaped the
general doom, through the influence of an Arab priest who had converted
her to the true religion. She could not, however save her husband,
whom, before her very eyes, she saw turned into a stone. But, in her
faithful heart, love could not die, though the loved one was dead. The
victor, vanquished in his turn by her incomparable beauty, implored her
in vain. She would not be separated from her husband's inanimate
shape, and, building herself a little hut under the waringin trees,
she still, day by day, repaired to the stone, which bore Poerwakali's
semblance, with sacrifices and prayers, and tears. And, often, in a
transport of love and grief, she would throw her arms about the inert
mass, closely embracing it, and, into its deaf ear, murmur soft words,
and vows of eternal loyalty, and bitter-sweet memories of the days that
were no more. Her tears, still flowing, fell on the stone underfoot,
day by day, month by month, year by year, until at last it became soft
and yielding as clay, and received and retained the impress of those
tender feet, which for so long had known no other resting place.

[Illustration: Bamboo bridge near Batu Tulis.]

[Illustration: Bamboo bridge across the Tji-taroon.]

[Illustration: Bamboo bridge across the Tji-taroon.]

From these memories of an empire overthrown, a religion smitten with
the edge of the sword, and a love stronger than death--"old unhappy
far off things and battles long ago"--suggested by Batu Tulis, to the
gaiety of the Buitenzorg races is a wide step. But our modern souls
have grown accustomed to these sudden transitions. In Java, more than
in any other country, one must be prepared at any moment to pass from
the fairy lands forlorn of history, to contemporary Philistia. Let
me hasten to add, in justice, that I found that high festival of
Philistinism in Java, the Buitenzorg races, both amusing and full of
interest. The crowded Stands gave one an "impression d'ensemble" of
society in the colony, such as would be expected in vain on any other
occasion--formal functionaries and business men from the hot towns with
their exquisitely dressed, palefaced wives and daughters, mingling with
sunburnt planters from the interior, and rosy-cheeked girls from the
neighbouring hill-stations, in white muslin frocks, brightened up by
flowers such as those grown at home. And the spectacle of the races,
exciting in itself, is rendered the more interesting by the changes and
transformations which an essentially northern sport has suffered under
the sun of the tropics--by the substitution of Sandalwood and Battak
ponies for horses, of native syces, who clutch the stirrup with bare
toes, for jockeys, and of silent multitudes brightly garbed, for the
black-coated crowds that shout and huzza at Epsom or Longchamps.






Among other Western ideas and institutions, the Hollanders have
imported into Java that of health-resorts. Erstwhile lonely hills now
bear hotel and "pavilions" upon their disforested summits; picnics
are held in glades where, a few years ago, the timid antelopes fed;
and Strauss's waltzes have reduced to silence the noisy cicadas. In
the country south and east of Batavia, in the Gedehhills, and in the
Preanger district, there are several of these hill-stations. There, the
air is pure and cool, in the months when the hot east monsoon scorches
the plains. There is Tji-Panas, Tji-Bodas, Sookaboomi, Sindanglaya,
Tjandjoor, the country round about Bandong, and, somewhat farther east,
Garoot, all of which places are easily accessible from Batavia. The
hotels are generally airy, roomy, and clean, if not elegant; the food
is fairly good, and the charges moderate, about four dollars a day, the
average rate throughout Java.

The Preanger district, in which Garoot, Bandong, and Tjandjoor are
situated--the "Garden of Java" as it is fitly named--in more than
one respect reminds the traveller of the hillcountry. There is the
same clearness in the profiles of the mountain-ranges; the same
transparency of the air, which causes distant objects to appear quite
near, and reveals their contour rather than their modelling; the
same jewel-like sparkle in the colouring of the landscape, in the
clear-hued green of valley and hillside, in the changeful hues of the
water, and in the blue, opal, and roseate violet of the distances
under an azure sky. The thin pure air is as wellwater; in the evenings
one has to kindle a fire in order to keep warm; and walks of several
hours cause neither heat nor fatigue in this bracing climate, which
makes even natives quicken their naturally slow movements, and which
tinges their brown complexions with a flush of healthy red. In the
fields, corn is seen instead of rice, and, in places, golden wheat
waves. The gardens are fragrant with mignonette, heliotropes, and
carnations; mossroses flourish, velvety pansies, geraniums, fuchsias,
phlox in all its countless varieties of brilliant colours, and the
tender forget-me-nots of northern brooksides. Strawberries, along with
clusters of the blue and white grape show between the dense foliage
of the vines. At certain seasons of the year, the hills are purple
with the blossoms of the rasamala tree,--a magnificent growth which
throws out its first branches at a height of a hundred feet, and the
summit of which reaches an altitude of a hundred and eighty. The most
splendid orchids are found in the woods side by side with mushrooms
of extraordinary dimensions, some of three feet in diameter, and of
strange and brilliant colours. On all sides, too, there is sparkle
of living water as limpid as the air itself, leaping down the rocky
hill-sides in innumerable cataracts and shining in broad tranquil lakes
that mirror the encircling hill-tops and the clouds sailing overhead.
As one reaches higher levels, from about four thousand feet above the
sea level to six thousand and upwards, the changes in the landscape
become more and more marked. The Flame of the Forest, the kambodja,
the champaka, and all the countless host of large-flowered trees,
characteristic of the tropics, disappear. The type of the foliage
changes: it is less fantastic in shape, less luxuriant, and differently
tinted from the leafage of the lowland forests. To the sombre green
of the plains, which under the glaring sunlight, assumes tones of an
almost blackish blue, succeeds a vivid emerald, touched with tender
yellow. Then come dense forests of "tjemara", a coniferous tree, the dim
greyish foliage of which resembles a drift of autumnal mist; and, by
and bye, trees of the oak and chestnut kind appear, and the maple that
balances its fan-like leaves on bright red stalks. Violets open their
purple chalices in mossy hollows. On the cloudy mountain heights of
Tosari, one may gather flowers such as grow on the Alps. The scenery
here is grand beyond description--a landscape of vast hill ranges,
cataracts, and precipices, and heaving seas of cloud. The temperature
is almost too low; big fires are kept burning all day in the hotel,
through the verandahs of which the clouds float past. The one thing
that still reminds the traveller of the tropics is the wonderful
splendour of the orchids that grow here. In the fourth zone, at an
altitude of from seven thousand to ten thousand feet, the orchids, too,
disappear. A European vegetation covers the summits of the mountains
and the chill "plateau" of the Djeng, where four wonderful lakes
of green, and blue, and yellow, and pure white water sparkle in the
sunlight, and the nights are frosty.

[Illustration: A village couple.]

These wonders of the Javanese hill-country are well known, from the
descriptions of many able pens, and from the enthusiastic reports of
travellers. But, here and there, in the folds of the lower hills, there
are pleasant nooks and corners, all but ignored of the multitude, and
hardly inferior in beauty to these famous sites, albeit beauty of a
very different character. And, among these places, the idyllic grace of
which has not yet been marred by railroads and hotels, few can surpass
in loveliness the country round about Tjerimai, where it was my good
fortune to spend several pleasant days, last June.

Tjerimai, a spur of the lofty Preanger range, is situated on the
confines of the Preanger Regencies and the Cheribon district, the
broad green plains and marshy coast of which its finely shaped summit
dominates--a landmark to sailors.

[Illustration: Near Garoot.]

From Batavia, the way thither leads through some of the loveliest
scenery in Java--past Buitenzorg and Bandong, straight across the
Preanger. Rantja-ekkek, a village in the vast plain which begins an
hour or so east of Bandong, is the last railroad station on the route.
There, the noise, the hurry, and the bustle of western civilization
cease, as if arrested by some invisible barrier; and the traveller
enters the real Java, the Java of the Javanese, the tranquil land of
plenty, the inhabitants of which lead their leisurely lives without
much more thought of the morrow than the tall gandasoli lilies of their
fields. When we two--the friend whom I accompanied to her home among
the hills, and myself--reached this stage of our journey, the day was
still young. The summits of the hills, which bound the plain on
the west, had already assumed their sober day colours--greyish brown
and dark green. But the distant eastern range stood out in violet
gleams against a sky of crimson and orange; and the intervening plain
was a lake of whitish, waving mist. The air had a peculiar, sweetish
taste--like an insipid fruit--which reminded me of early autumn
mornings at home. It was cold, too. Our native servants went with head
and shoulders wrapped up: and the breath of the ponies waiting for us
at the station made little clouds about their heads. We were grateful
for the plaids which we found in the carriage.

The road lay straight before us--a long white streak through the soft
misty green of the plain. As we drove along, the pink sheen, which
rested on the hazy hillside to our left, like a handful of scattered
roses, began to spread and glide down into the valley, kindling as it
flowed, until the whole vast vapoury plain was suffused with purple.
The mist began to dissolve, and float upwards in little crimson drifts.
Suddenly, the great golden sun leaped up from behind the eastern
summits, and day streamed in upon us. The country-folk had already
begun the labours of the day. Children met us on the road, driving
powerful grey buffaloes before them; in a hamlet which we passed, the
women were pounding rice, breaking the silence of the morning with the
rhythmic click-clack of the wooden pestles. And, here and there, groups
of labourers moved through the rice fields, weeding. Overhead, larks
were soaring and singing; it was the first time I had heard their sweet
shrill note in Java. After a while, a partridge flew up with a whirr of
hurrying wings, almost from between the hoofs of the horses. They are
plentiful in this neighbourhood. At certain seasons of the year, large
parties of sportsmen assemble here to shoot them.

On starting from the railway station, I had thought that, in half an
hour or so, we should have reached the hill-range, which bounded the
plain in the north. But the clear atmosphere has a perspective of
its own, confusing to eyes unaccustomed to it. After about two hours
of rapid driving we were still in the valley--on either side of us,
immense tracts of soft bluish green, full of the thousand lights and
shades that form the peculiar beauty of these terraced rice-fields;
and, all around, the circling summits which seemed no sensibly nearer
than at first.

At every turn of the road, I expected to reach the base of the hills.
And again and again, they appeared to recede as we advanced, until
the fancy was stirred to the idea of some magic wall environing the
captive, withersoever he might turn; and the wish to find an exit
out of this hill-bounded plain grew almost to a fever. At length, we
reached it--a narrow defile between two steep green heights; and the
road began to climb. Here, in the deep glens and valleys, the air was
notably cooler than on the sunlit plain. Where the road broadened, it
was shaded by tall njamploeng trees, which strewed the ground with
their white transparent blossoms; and their faint fresh odour, which
reminded one of the scent of March violets, perfumed the breeze.

[Illustration: "A brownie of that enchanted garden that men call Java."]

[Illustration: Girl from the Preanger Country.]

[Illustration: Javanese of higher class.]

Meanwhile, we had changed horses at a "gladak"--a nondescript wooden
shed--stable, barn, and hostelry for native wayfarers in one--with a
spacious thoroughfare leading right through it. And our shaggy ponies
trotted along with a right good will, until they came to a sudden
stand at the bottom of a hill. "Gladakkers," as these ugly little
animals are called, are notorious for freakishness and perversity, and
often, without any apparent reason, will stand stockstill in the
middle of the road, and refuse to move another step. But this time,
as I soon found, they were moved by no such perverse whim; they knew
their duty, and that the dragging of carriages up this particular hill
was in no way a part of it. When the syce had unharnessed them, they
turned aside, and began to crop the dewy grass by the way-side, as
if work were over for that day. And, presently, their substitutes, a
pair of powerful grey buffaloes, appeared goaded on by their owner.
Slowly, the majestic brutes descended the hill, bending a broad
splendidly-horned head and an enormous neck under a triangular bamboo
yoke, and sending forth the breath in clouds from their large nostrils.
They drew the carriage up hill without any apparent effort, still
moving onward with that same slow, strong, steady gait, which neither
the impatient shouts of our syce, nor the goad which their owner plied,
could make them accelerate one whit. At the summit they halted of
their own accord; and, as soon as they felt their necks free of the
harness, turned and departed. As they passed me, the curved horn of the
one just grazing my shoulder, they seemed to me the personification
of resistless strength, unconscious of its own power, and patiently
subservient. Their large beautiful eyes had a look of meekness most
pathetic in so tremendous a creature.

After this steep hill, the ascent became easy and gradual, and the
ponies trotted on at a good round pace. The road still kept zig-zagging
between steep hill-sides, densely overgrown with nipah-palm, banana,
and dark-leaved brushwood, which shut out the view of the landscape.
And I remember no noteworthy incident, except the passing of a native
market, a "passar," in a spot where the road broadened a little, and
where an impetuous brook, that came bounding down the hillside, spouted
from a sort of primitive aqueduct made of bamboo. Half a score of naked
children were bathing themselves under the icy "douche," whilst their
parents stood bargaining and chaffering at the narrow booths that
adhered to the steep hillside like swallows' nests to a house-wall. As
we approached, the whole company, men, women, and children, squatted
down with one accord, as if they had been so many puppets pulled
by a string. One very fat baby, his fists and his mouth full of
sweetmeats, stood staring at us in round-eyed surprise; but his mother
managed to catch him and draw him to his little haunches, just in the
nick of time; and the whole company remained in this crouching posture
until our carriage rounded the bend of the road.

[Illustration: Girl from Kadoo.]

[Illustration: Women pounding rice.]

[Illustration: The rapids of the Tjitaroon.]

At Batavia, where the manners of the natives have suffered a change--a
change for the worse, as some maintain--by contact with Europeans, I
had never witnessed this peculiar mode of salutation. And I confess
I was painfully impressed by it, the more so as my friend warned me
that native etiquette forbade my acknowledging the humble greeting
by so much as a nod. I do not know whether it was the abjectness of
their semi-prostration, or the seemingly gratuitous insolence of our
thus ignoring it, that I felt as the more acute humiliation to human
dignity. But, after all, the only way to rightly judge the manners
and customs of a country is to look at them from the point of view
of the natives; and, to a Javanese, there is nothing undignified in
a salutation which impresses us as slavish. He squats down, just as
a European rises, in the presence of a superior. It is a token of
respect; nothing more. And the superior's apparent unconsciousness of
this greeting no more implies rudeness on his part than the familiar
nod with which in Europe a gentleman might answer a labourer's or
artisan's raising of his cap. "The way of the land, the honour of
the land," as the Dutch proverb puts it.

[Illustration: Pangeran Adipati Mangkoe Boemi (Djokjakarta).]

[Illustration: Javanese Lady.]

[Illustration: Waterfalls.]

[Illustration: The Tji-mahi falls.]


On the point of etiquette, the Javanese, moreover, are infinitely more
punctilious than any western people of our period. I believe they might
even be said to surpass the Spaniards of the time of Philip II, in the
elaborateness of their code of manners and in their strict adherence
to its requirements. Every possible circumstance and occurrence in
life have been foreseen, and the appropriate conduct noted down in
the unwritten law of the "adat"; the attitude, the gesture, and the
set phrase, are all prescribed, down to the smallest detail. Nor is
it a question of phraseology only; the very language is subject to
the regulations of the adat, which distinguishes three separate and
altogether different kinds of Javanese, according as a man speaks to
his superior, his equal, or his inferior. For speech to one higher
in rank, there is the "Kromo"; commands to a subordinate are given
in "Ngoko"; friends familiarly converse in a third idiom into which
elements of the other two enter. The theory of these three kinds of
Javanese is a science by itself, and one not easily acquired by a
westerner. At the same time, it is imperatively necessary to him, if
he would gain the esteem of the natives; for the use of a Ngoko word
when a Kromo term should have been employed, would mark the offender
with an indelible brand of vulgarity and ill-breeding. When the Bible
was being translated into Javanese, this peculiarity of etiquette
proved a considerable difficulty; and the missionaries had to consult
countless authorities and compare a thousand precedents, before they
could settle the question whether Christ should address Pilate in Kromo
or in Ngoko, or in the third idiom. A solecism would have fatally
injured the "prestige" of the new religion: and its ministers could
not have escaped the accusation of being "koerang atjar" which being
translated into English means "ill-bred." It was in order to avoid this
qualification, that my friend and I seeing the country folk at the
"passar" squat down in the dusty road, passed on, without so much as
looking at them.

Towards eleven o'clock, we reached the highest point of our journey--a
ledge upon the mountain-side called Njadas Pangeran. Here, the hills on
our right suddenly fell away, and the broad green plains of Cheribon
lay disclosed, dazzling with sunlight and living water. At our feet,
away far below, lay a brown hamlet in the midst of sawahs, like a
lark's nest in a field of clover; and the hills through which we
had threaded our way, since dawn, hung in the western distance like
massy clouds, tinted with brown and violet, and an exquisite pale,
half-transparent blue. We paused here for some minutes, to rest the
horses, whilst we gathered armsful of a splendid orchid which grew
in profusion on the hillside--great shiny snow-flakes of blossoms,
with a touch of carmine on the curling petals; and then resumed the
journey along a road which steadily sloped to the bottom of the valley.
A muddy river runs through it, which we crossed on a primitive kind
of ferry--the carriage, horses, and all standing on a raft, which a
score of natives dragged and pushed across the shallow water. On the
other bank, the road began to ascend again; we had reached the base
of Tjerimai, and a drive of some two or three hours more, along a
smooth road that passed by prosperous sugarcane plantations waving in
the breeze with thousands of glossy green streamers, brought us at
length to our destination--the little bamboo cottage upon the hillside,
whither my friends repaired for a spell of coolness and a breath of
mountain air, when the heat rendered the sojourn on their estate in the
plains unendurable. It was about four in the afternoon when we entered
the garden gates, and the air was as fresh as in the early morning.
The breeze rustled through the tall flower-laden njamploeng-trees on
the roadside; there was a smell of water and moist stones in the air;
I heard the murmur of a brook over its rocky bed. This was the country
of which hot, dust-stifled Batavia was the capital. The thing seemed
scarcely credible.





Our bungalow on the Tjerimai hillside was situated in the near
neighbourhood of a native dessa. But we had been there for some time,
before I became aware of the fact. And my first glimpse of the village
was a surprise as fascinating as it was sudden.

It chanced in the course of a cool clear morning, as we rode along on
our way to the sacred grove of Sangean and the legend-haunted lake in
its shadow.

We had been skirting for some time what seemed to be an unusually
dense bamboo-wood, when suddenly, in the wall of crowded stems, there
appeared a breach and framed in it, lo! a prospect of brown huts, with
flowering fruit-trees set between, and a well-kept road in the middle,
on which a score of children were playing about. A plough-man came
along, driving a pair of grey buffaloes before him, women were coming
and going, carrying waterpitchers and piled up baskets of fruit on
their erect heads; it was a busy hamlet in the heart of the wood.

We entered, passing from the sunny hillside into the green twilight
among the trees, and out again upon the village road, flecked with
changeful lights and shadows. It was trim and clean as a gardenpath.
The huts on either side of it had a prosperous look, each standing in
its own patch of ground, surrounded by fruit-trees--mangoes, bananas
and djamboos that turned the soil purple with their fallen blossoms.
The rice-barns shaped like a child's cradle, narrow at the base, and
broadening out towards the top, were full of sweet new rice and in the
sheds sleek dun-coloured cattle stood patiently chewing the cud.

[Illustration: Raised shed from which the ripening fields are watched.]

I saw no men about, they were probably at work on the outlying
ricefields. But here and there, under the pent-roofs of the houses,
women sat at their looms busily weaving sarong-cloth. And on the
doorsteps plump brown babies were rolling about.

[Illustration: Gunungan, or Pile of Sacrificial Food, as offered by
women on Garebeg Mulud, the feast of the nativity of Nabi Muhamed, the
Great Prophet.]

[Illustration: A native official and his followers.]

One hut we passed, where a very old man sat playing with a tiny baby,
so exceedingly pretty, that we could not help stopping to admire it.
With a proud smile he told us it was his great-grand-child. Its father
and mother were living with him, and so indeed were all the other
members of his numerous family, sons and daughters and grandsons and
granddaughters who, each in turn, had wedded and brought a wife or a
husband to the parental home.

[Illustration: Rice-barn shaped like a child's cradle.]

"There are over a score of them" said the patriarch proudly. To him
had, in truth, been granted the prayer, which, on their wedding-day
Javanese couples put up to the gods "Give us a progeny like to the
spreading crown of the waringin tree." And the venerable sire,
trusting in his helpless old age to the love and piety of his children,
reminded one of the parent trunk, which, when decaying, is upheld by
the stalwart young trees that have sprung up around it.

We asked after his family. The children, the old man answered, were all
out in the fields; no hands could be spared from the work just now.
Only his youngest grand-daughter, the baby's mother, had stayed in the
house, to look after the little one, and cook the familydinner. Yonder
she was, at her bâtik-frame, painting the sarong-cloth with flowers and
butterflies. The girl looked up as he spoke, turning a pretty face on
us; and smiled.

"Ah! happy those that live among the woods and fields, if they but knew
their happiness...." It seemed to me that these dessa-folk knew theirs.

And I filled my eyes and my heart with the scene before me--the low,
brown roofs amidst the fruittrees, the merry-eyed children at play, the
leisurely comings and goings of the women upon their daily occupation,
with the rustling coolness and the soft green light of the bamboo
leafage over it all; gathering all the gladsome beauty of it, that it
might keep fresh and fragrant my thoughts, when I should have returned
to the world outside, to the weariness, the fever and the fret to which
we of the conquering race have condemned ourselves.

As we rode on, and the wood-enshrined hamlet disappeared among the
folds of the hillrange, like the beautiful day-dream it all but seemed
to me, I learnt that it was but a fair type of the prosperous dessa,
such as it is found throughout the length and breadth of Java.

[Illustration: "A progeny like to the spreading crown of the

The plan and general appearance of these native villages are always the
same--a cluster of huts, each standing in its own patch of ground,
surrounded by a quick-set hedge; a main road from which numerous
bye-paths diverge, leading through; in the centre an open square,
shaded by waringin trees, fronting the mosque; then, surrounding the
whole, a dense plantation of bamboo trees, which completely hides the
village from sight. Around stretch meadows, ricefields, and plantations
of nipahpalm, which, in many cases, are the property of the community.

Where this particular form of proprietorship obtains, the village
authorities assign portions of the communal fields in usufruct to such
inhabitants of the dessa as will pledge themselves in return to pay
certain taxes, and to perform certain duties entailed by the possession
of landed property; the principal of which are, keeping the roads and
irrigation works in repair, and guarding the gates or patrolling the
streets at night. Moreover in all matters touching the cultivation of
these fields, they are obliged to observe the prescriptions of the
"adat," and such regulations as the village authorities may deem proper
to make.

Very strict supervision is excercised in this matter, so as to prevent
the occupant from exhausting, either through ignorance or neglect,
the field, which, at the expiration of his lease, will be allotted
to another member of the community. Disobedience to the commands of
the village authorities is punishable by forfeiture of the right of

In most districts, this communal right alternates with private

[Illustration: Sellers of rice.]

According to the ancient custom, which has been ratified by the
Colonial Regulations, whosoever, of his own free will, reclaims a piece
of waste ground, by that act acquires the possession of the same, and
the right to transmit it to his heirs, the "hereditary individual
right," as the legal term is. Any native, desirous to obtain land on
these terms, can apply for permission to the Government, which, having
taken the place of the ancient Sultans is considered as the "Sovereign
of the Soil." This permission is never refused. So that, under the
communal regime as under the system of hereditary individual ownership,
anyone who has the will to work is sure of being able to earn a
sufficiency for himself and his family. There need be no unemployed:
there are no paupers in our sense of the word. It should be added, that
the right of usufruct under the system of communal possession, can
be converted into that of "hereditary individual ownership." But the
inherited communistic sentiment is so strongly developed in the people
of the dessa, that they but rarely, if ever, avail themselves of the
facilities, which the law offers them in this respect; they prefer that
the community should own the soil.

[Illustration: Women dyeing sarong-cloth.]

[Illustration: Woman picking cotton, and man plaiting a sieve.]

As might be expected the principle of solidarity which pervades these
laws and customs, manifests itself even more strongly in the domestic
life of the dessa-folk.

[Illustration: A Javanese family.]

[Illustration: Mat-plaiting.]

The ties of kinship--though not those of marriage--are much respected
by them. Parents are so absolutely sure of the love and filial piety
of their children, that they often, as they grow older, abandon all
their property to them, content to live for the remainder of their
days as their sons' and daughter's pensioners. And even the most
distant relation, who, like the nearest, is termed brother or sister,
may count, in case of need, upon assistance and hospitality. Parents
are free to bequeath their property as they like; and they sometimes
give everything to the first-born son or daughter, without any of
the other children protesting. But, just as frequently, the heritage
is left to all the descendants in common, when the paternal house is
enlarged, so as to afford room for all the married sons and daughters
and their families; and the produce of the fields is equally divided
amongst them, as they equally divide the labour and the toil. Thus,
through all chances and changes, the communistic principle is still
maintained in the small community of the family, as in the greater
one of the dessa. And indeed it may be said that the dessa is but the
enlarged paternal house of the Javanese. All the inhabitants of it are
his kinsfolk and nearest of blood, whose interests are his own, whose
prosperity or misery is bound up with his, and who are his natural
allies in defending the common inheritance against the stranger. The
bamboo enclosure which defines and defends the dessa and the environing
fields--the common possession of all--are the symbols and the outward
visible signs of this.

Such then are the conditions which determine the existence of the
Javanese husbandman--a happy life on the whole, exempt from hardship,
excessive toil and care, and not without dignity or idyllic grace.

The dessa-man has to work, certainly, but he need not slave; a
very moderate exertion is sufficient to procure him what food and
raiment he wants. His neighbours are his next of kin, and spite
occasional bickerings, his helpful friends. He has himself chosen the
village-chief to whose authority he defers, and is free to follow that
ancestral law of the adat, which, to him, is the embodiment of supreme
wisdom and justice. And as he goes about his daily business, his labour
in wood and field, still keeping time to the recurrent rhythm of the
seasons, is graced by many a ceremony and religious rite, which while
honouring the gods, rejoices the hearts of the worshippers.

At these religious festivals called "Sedeka," sacrifices of flowers and
fruits are offered to the deity and the ancient, naïve idea, that which
is pleasant to human beings must also be acceptable to the gods, causes
the Javanese to lay on his altar offering of the eatables he is fondest
of himself. Such as spice-flavoured rice and all manner of sweetmeats.

[Illustration: A bamboo hut.]

[Illustration: Weighing rice-sheaves.]

[Illustration: Native official.]

In this he does but as Jews and Greeks did before him. But there is
a distinguishing detail about Javanese sacrificial rites,--a
feature, which one is never quite sure whether to call eminently
spiritual or naïvely gross and selfish. Of the food offered they
believe the deity to enjoy the savour only; the celestial being
disdains the material part. And so the worshippers, after a decorous
interval of waiting, when they may suppose the invisible and
imponderable essence of the meal to have been absorbed by the god,
make a cheerful repast on the visible and ponderable parts left on the
altar, thus combining piety and high living in one and the same act.
In Java, if anywhere, it may be said, that, when the gods are honoured
the people fare well.

It would be somewhat invidious to inquire whether piety or appetite
be the impelling motive; but, from whatever cause, the Javanese are
most assiduous in the performance of sacrificial rites. Not only are
the cardinal events of human existence, births, marriages and deaths,
and the recurrent epochs of the agricultural year honoured with solemn
observances, but any and every incident of daily existence is made the
occasion of a "Sedeka."

Sedeka is offered on setting out on a journey, on entering into any
contract or agreement, on moving into a new house, on taking possession
of a newly-acquired field: the sacrifice being oftenest dedicated to
the "Danhjang dessa," tutelary genius of towns and villages; to the
spirits who render the soil fertile; to the goddess Sri, protectress
of the rice crops; and to all the ancestors, up to Father Adam and
Mother Eve. Then too, side by side with these benignant deities, the
wicked "seitans" and djinns are worshipped, the princes of the air,
as powerful for evil as Sri and the Danhjang Dessa are for good. It
is they who send plagues and pestilence, who make the babe to die at
its mother's breast, and the buffalo to drop dead on the half-ploughed
field; who cause fires to destroy villages, and floods to sweep away
the standing crops; and who seduce men to theft, deceit, robbery, and
violence. Since, then, they are so powerful for harm, it is wise to
keep on terms of amity with them, and give even the Devil his due,
bringing him the appointed sacrifices of eggs and yellow boreh-unguent
and jessamine blossoms.

These evil spirits, it should be noted, are exceedingly jealous, and
one should never glory in the possession of any desirable thing, such
as good health, riches, power, or, above all, fine children, lest
in their spite, they should turn these blessings into curses. But
humility, or still better contempt of the things men generally covet,
conciliates them. Wherefore a Javanese mother will often call her
child, more particularly if it be remarkable for grace and beauty, by a
name implying that it is hateful, ugly and altogether worthless.

[Illustration: Preparing the village field.]

[Illustration: Native nobleman and his wife.]

Among the saints of El-Islam, Joseph the father of the Christian
prophet Jesus, is the one whom Javanese matrons venerate above all
others; from him they implore the gift of beauty for their children.
Nor do they implore in vain. Javanese babies are absolutely charming.
The brilliancy of their black eyes, and the dusky tints of their soft
skin give their round little faces a piquancy altogether fascinating.
The blue eyes, fair hair and pale complexion of European children
seem insipid by comparison. Now and then one sees faces amongst them,
innocent and earnest as those which on Murillo's canvases surround the
Madonna in cloud-like clusters. But alas! these heavenly memories fade
soon. The suns of a few East monsoons utterly wither them. Villon,
could he see the grown-up youths and maidens of Java, would vary his
melancholy refrain about fair dead ladies. "But where are the babes of

[Illustration: Pilgrims returned from Mecca.]

Among adults beauty is as rare as, among children, it is common.
So that after all, it seems Saint Joseph takes the prayer for fine
children "at the foot of the letter" and answers the petition in a
somewhat ironical spirit.

Of the many "Sedeka's" which grace the agricultural year, those
connected with the cultivation of the rice-plant are the most
important. Java is essentially what, according to tradition, its
ancient name betokens--the Land of the Rice. The whole island is one
vast rice-field. Rice on the swampy plains, rice on the rising ground,
rice on the slopes, rice on the very summits of the hills. From the
sod under one's feet to the uttermost verge of the horizon, everything
has one and the same colour, the bluish green of the young, or the
tawny gold of the ripened rice. The natives are all, without exception,
tillers of the soil, who reckon their lives by seasons of planting and
reaping, whose happiness or misery is synonymous with the abundance or
the dearth of the precious grain. And the great national feast is the
harvest home, with its crowning ceremony of the Wedding of the Rice.

In order to approximately understand the meaning of this strange rite,
it should be borne in mind that a Javanese, similar in this respect to
the ancient Greek, believes all nature to be endowed with a semi-divine
life. To him a tree is not a mere vegetable, nor a rock a mere mass
of stone, nor the sea a mere body of water, any more than he regards
a human being as a mere aggregate of flesh, blood, and bone. A hidden
principle of life, invisible, imponderable, and powerful for good or
evil animates the seemingly inert matter. In this sense, a Javanese
believes in the _soul_ of a plant or a rock almost as he believes in
the soul of a human being. And this soul he endeavours to propitiate
with prayers, libations and offerings of fruit and flowers. Hence
the frequent altars under old waringin-trees, in which the Danhjang
dessa, tutelary genius of towns and villages, is believed to dwell.
Hence the solemn sacrifices to the Lady of the Sea, Njai Loro Kidoel,
who has her shrine on the rocky south-coast. And hence too the rites
in honour of Dewi Sri, the Javanese Demeter, whose soul animates the
rice-plant,--rites which culminate in the Wedding of the Rice.

[Illustration: A scholar.]

At every Harvest-Home this mystical ceremony, the Pari Penganten, is
celebrated; and the manner of its conducting is as follows:

As soon as the owner of a field sees his rice ripening, he goes to
the "dookoon-sawah" literally, the "medicine man of the rice-field,"
to consult him as to the day and hour when it will be meet to begin
the harvest. This to a Javanese, is a most important matter, and it
requires all the astrological, necromantic and cabalistic knowledge
of the dookoon-sawah to settle it. For there are many unlucky days in
the Javanese year, and any enterprise begun on such a day is doomed to
inevitable failure. After long and intricate calculations, into which
the cabalistic values corresponding to the year, the month, the day,
and the hour enter, an acceptable date is at last fixed upon by the
dookoon-sawah, on which the selection of the Rice-Bride and Bridegroom
is to take place.

On the appointed day, having first solemnly consecrated the field by
walking round it with a bundle of burning rice-straw in his hand, and
by the planting of tall glagahstalks at each of the four corners,
invoking Dewi Sri as he does so,--the dookoon begins to search for two
stalks of rice exactly equal in length and thickness, and growing near
each other. When these are found, four more are hunted for, two pairs
of absolutely similar ears of rice. The first couple are the Bride and
Bridegroom; the four others the bridesmaids and the "best men," (if the
term may be used to designate what the French call garçons d'honneur.)
These couples are now tied together as they stand, with strips of
palm-leaves, and the doekoen invokes on them the blessing of Dewi Sri.
Then he addresses the Rice-Bride and the Rice-Bridegroom, asking
them, each in turn, whether they accept each other as husband and
wife, and answering for them. The marriage now is concluded; the stalks
are smeared with yellow boreh-unguent, decorated with garlands, and
shaded from the sun by a tiny awning of palm leaves, whilst the stalks
round about are cut off.

[Illustration: Filling the village field.]

[Illustration: Rice-barn.]

Now the dookoon, the owner of the field and his family, all those
who have in any way helped in preparing the "Sawah," or planting the
rice, sit down to a "Slamettan," a repast which is at the same time a
sacrifice to the gods, and a further celebration of the marriage just
contracted; and, at the end of the banquet, the doekoen, rising up,
solemnly declares that the hour of the harvest has come.

Now, it is the kindly custom of Javanese land-owners to invite to the
harvest-feast all who, during the past month, have taken any part,
however slight, in the cultivation of the Sawah. And as, under so
elaborate a system of agriculture as is demanded by the growing of
rice, these are necessarily many, the Pari Penganten is a feast for
the whole "dessa" as well as for a single family. The men leave their
work in the shops or the market, the women lay down the sarong-cloth on
which for weeks and weeks they have been patiently tracing elaborate
patterns with wax, and blue and brown pigment; and all, in holiday
attire and with flowers wreathed in their hair or stuck into a fold of
their head-kerchief, repair to the ripe rice-field.

[Illustration: Peasant ploughing.]

The dookoon-sawah is the first to enter it; and, as he does so, he in
this wise greets the spirits of the field.

[Illustration: Rice on the swampy plains.]

"O! thou invisible Pertijan Siluman! do not render vain the labour
I have bestowed upon my sawah! If thou dost render it vain, I will
hack thy head in two! Mother Sri Penganten! hearken! do thou assemble
and call to thee all thy children and grand-children! let them all
be present and let not one stay away! I wish to reap the rice. I
will reap it with a piece of whetted iron. Be not afraid, tremble
not, neither raise thine eyes! All my prayers implore thy favour and
gracious protection. Also, I propose to prepare a sacrificial repast,
and dedicate it to the spirits that protect this my sawah; and to the
spirits that protect the four villages nearest to this our village, and
also to Leh-Saluke and Leh-Mukalana!"

[Illustration: "The produce of the fields is equally divided amongst
them as they equally divide the labour and the toil."]

Having pronounced this invocation, he cuts off the ears which represent
the Rice-Bride and Bridegroom and their four companions, and the
reapers begin their work. The implement they use is best described as
a cross-hilted dagger of bamboo, having a little knife inserted into
the wooden blade; the reaper, holding the hilt in the fingers of his
right hand, with the thumb presses the rice-stalk against the small
knife, severing the ear, which he gathers in his left hand; and thus he
cuts off each ripe ear separately with a gesture as delicate as if he
were culling a flower. The whole rice harvest of Java is reaped in this

The loss of time may be imagined. The Government has, again and
again, tried to introduce the use of the sickle and more expeditious
methods, but in vain. In all things, the Javanese love to do as their
fathers did before them; and, in this particular matter of the reaping
of the rice, their attachment to ancestral customs is still further
strengthened by a religious sentiment. The Dewi Sri herself they
believe, having assumed the shape of a gelatik or rice-bird, which
broke off the ripe ears with its bill, taught mortals the manner in
which it pleased her that her good gift of the rice should be gathered.
And accordingly, her votaries to the present day do gather in thus,
culling each ear separately. In their opinion, to use a sickle would
be to show a wanton disrespect to the goddess, and a contempt of her
precious gift, as if it were not worth gathering in a seemly manner; a
sacrilege which the outraged deity would not fail to avenge by famine
and pestilence. On the other hand, what would they gain by departing
from their ancestors' honoured custom, and adopting instead the manners
of the men from Holland? "Time," these men respond. But then, that
means nothing to a Javanese. He no more wants to "gain time" than he
wants to "gain" fresh air or sunlight. It is there; he has it;
he will always have it. What absurdity is this talk of "gaining" an
assured and ever-present possession?

[Illustration: Flooded rice-fields.]

The idea of time as an equivalent for a certain amount--the greatest
possible--of labour performed, is essentially occidental. A Javanese
not only does not understand it, but he shrugs his shoulders and smiles
at the notion. He does not see what possible relation there can be
between a day and what these white men call a day's work. He works,
undoubtedly; but he works in a quiet deliberate fashion, for just so
long as he thinks pleasant, or fit, or when the monsoon threatens,
unavoidable; and then he stops; and, if the task be not finished, well,
it may be finished some future day. There is no cause why any ado
should be made about it. Everything in time. And let us remember that
haste cometh of the evil.

At last, however, the harvest is reaped, and the hour has come for the
Rice-Bride and Bridegroom to repair to their new home. The two reapers
on whom devolves the honourable duty of conducting them thither, don
their very best clothes for the occasion, and daub their faces with
yellow boreh-unguent. Then to the strains of the gamelan and followed
by all the reapers, men and women in solemn procession, they carry the
garlanded sheaves to the house of the owner of the field. He and his
wife meet them in the doorway; and, in set phrase, they inform the
Rice-Bride and Bridegroom that the house is swept and garnished, and
all things ready for their reception. The procession then wends its way
to the granary, where a small space, surrounded by screens and spread
with clean new matting, represents the bridal chamber.

The Rice-Bride and Groom and their "maids and youths of honour" are
introduced into this miniature room, the other sheaves are piled up in
the loomboong (rice-born) and when the whole harvest is stored, the
dookoon-sawah pronounces the prayer to the Goddess Sri.

[Illustration: "The men, with the father of the bride at their head,
come for the bridegroom, to conduct him to the mosque."]

"Mother Sri Penganten, do thou sleep in this dark granary, and grant
us thy protection. It is meet that thou shouldst provide for all thy
children and grandchildren."

[Illustration: "With measured steps the two advanced towards each
other, and whilst yet at some distance paused."]

Then the door of the loomboong is locked; and during forty days
none dare unlock it. At the end of that time the honey-moon of the
Rice-Bride and Bridegroom is supposed to be over. The owner of the
field comes to the loomboong, unlocks the door, and in set phrase
invites the couple to an excursion on the river. "The boat," he says,
"lies ready; and the rowers know how to handle the oars." With this
comparison the process of husking the grain is designated.

The sheaves are laid in the hollowed-out tree-trunk which serves as a
kind of mortar, and the women, bringing down the long wooden pestles
in a rhythmic cadence husk the rice. And this is the end of the Pari

[Illustration: "Humbly kneeling down, the bride proceeded to wash the
bridegroom's feet, in token of loving submission."]

But, as the proverb has it, "of a wedding comes a wedding" and this
mystic marriage of the rice invariably proves the prelude to marriages
among the young folk of the dessa, who have met and wooed and won
one another during the long days of common work and play in the ripe
rice-field. During our stay on the Tjeremai hill-side we had occasion
to convince ourselves of this. The Pari Penganten was but just over
when we arrived; and already several marriages were being arranged in
the dessa, among the number that of the headman's pretty daughter to a
good-looking youth, her remote cousin.

[Illustration: Bride and bridegroom sitting in state.]

As a preliminary the village scholar had been consulted as to the
young couple's chances of happiness; and he having declared the
cabalistic meaning of their united initials to be "a broadly-branching
waringin-tree" which is the symbol of health, riches and a numerous
progeny, the parents, reassured as to the future of their children, had
begun negotiations about the dowry. This, it should be noted, is given
by the family of the future husband.

[Illustration: The wedding-guests on their procession through the

After a great deal of haggling and protesting, they had at last agreed
upon a sum about half-way between the amount originally offered by the
bridegroom's parents and that demanded by the father of the bride. In
due course, then, the youth had sent the customary presents of food,
clothes, and domestic utensils to the house of his bride. And now he
was busy preparing himself for the great day. He had had his teeth
filed almost to the gums, and blackened till they shone like lacquer,
so that his enthusiastic mother and sisters compared his mouth to the
ripe pomegranate, in which the black seeds show through the red flesh.
And, day by day, he went to the village-priest to recite to him the
words of the marriage-formula, which he did, sitting up to his chin in
the cold water of the tank behind the mosque, the priest standing over
him, Koran in hand. The bride, on her side, had been living on a diet
of three tea-spoonfuls of rice and a glass of hot water per diem, so as
to lose flesh and--according to Javanese notions--gain beauty against
the happy day; and to the great satisfaction of her family she was now
so thin, that they could almost see the flame of the oilwick shining
through her.

Meanwhile the entire population of the dessa was busy with preparations
for the marriage-feast. The women might be seen all day long, under
the pent-roof of the bride's house and in the kitchen, pounding rice,
boiling vegetables, broiling fish, roasting goats' flesh, and mixing
all manner of condiments for the innumerable dishes, which figure at
a Javanese repast. And the young men were chopping wood and carrying
water as if for their livelihood.

At length the wedding-day arrived.

The sun had hardly risen when already the women of the village were
up and stirring, hastening on their way to the house of the bride,
whom they were to assist at her toilet. This was a most complicated
affair, the girl's hair having to be dressed in a curious and elaborate
fashion, requiring much twisting and coiling of oil-saturated tresses,
interwoven with wreaths of jessamine blossom, and fixed with large
ornamental pins; and a row of little curls must be painted on the
forehead with black pigment. Furthermore the face must be carefully
whitened with rice-powder, and the shoulders and arms anointed with
yellow boreh-unguent. It need hardly be said that it required the whole
morning to bring these many and delicate operations to a satisfactory

The men, meanwhile, with the father of the bride at their head,
had gone to the house of the bridegroom, to conduct him in solemn
procession to the mosque, where the priest was to perform the
marriage-ceremony between him and the representative of the bride;
for, according to Javanese notions, a woman has no business at a
wedding--least of all at her own. From the mosque the groom then
returned to his own house, where he proceeded to a toilet hardly
less elaborate than that of his bride. After a considerable time,
he issued forth again, resplendent with boreh-unguent, garlands
of jessamine-blossoms and silver ornaments. He mounted a richly
caparisoned pony, which his "youth of honour" held ready for him; and,
at the head of the procession, triumphantly rode to his bride's house,
where the guests were waiting, my friends and I among the number, to
witness the meeting of the newly-wedded pair.

As the bridegroom drew rein in front of the house, the bride supported
by two maids of honour, slowly came out of her chamber. With measured
steps the two advanced towards each other; and whilst yet at some
distance paused. Two small bags of sirih-leaves containing chalk and
betel-nuts were handed them; and with a quick movement each threw his
at the other's head. The bride's little bag struck the groom full in
the face. "It is she that will rule the roost," said one of the women,
chuckling. And I fancied I saw a gleam of satisfaction pass over the
bride's demure little face, half hidden though it was by the strings
of beads and jessamine flowers dependent from her head dress. The next
moment however, she had humbly knelt down on the floor. One of the
bridesmaids handed her a basin full of water, and a towel; and she
proceeded to wash her husband's feet, in token of loyalty and loving

[Illustration: "The men sat down to a repast."]

When she was done, he took her by the hand, raising her; and led
her towards the middle of the apartment, where a piece of matting
was spread on the floor. On this she squatted down, holding up a
handkerchief; and the bridegroom threw into it some rice, some
"peteh"-beans and some money, symbolising the sustenance which he bound
himself to afford her. The symbolical ceremonies were then concluded
by his sitting down next to her, and putting three spoonfuls of rice,
kneaded into little balls, into her mouth, after which he ate himself
what was left in the dish. The solemn part of the proceedings being now
over, the festivities began.

As a preliminary, the bridal party was to go in solemn procession
through the village; and they were marshalled in order before the door.

A curious cortege it was. At the head appeared two "barongans" the
images of a giant and a giantess, carried on the shoulders of men who
were hidden in the large framework; then came the gamelan orchestra,
bells, drums, kettles, viols and all; next a group of men mounted on
hobby-horses, and beating on the sonorous "angkloeng."[19] After these
came some half dozen women, carrying the bridal insignia--paper birds,
bunches of green leaves and paper flowers, and tall fans made of
peacocks feathers. A group of priests followed, beating tambourines and
chanting a sort of epithalamium. Next came the bride and her maidens in
a litter, carried upon the shoulders of four men; and immediately after
her the bridegroom on horseback followed by a group of musicians. The
wedding-guests brought up the rear.

[Illustration: Native policeman.]

In this order the procession took the road; went round the dessa twice;
and finally halted at the house of the bridegroom.

[19] An instrument composed of a series of graduated bamboo tubes.

The father appeared in the door, as soon as he heard the music
approaching; came out to meet the procession; and advancing towards
the litter of the bride, lifted her out of it, and carried her into
the house, where the bridegroom's relations were seated in a circle to
receive her. To these she was now, with great ceremony, introduced as
the daughter of the house, whilst she and the bridegroom saluted every
member of the assembly in turn, by kneeling down and kissing his or her

The guests were then invited to enter, and the men sat down to a
repast, at which the women served them, whilst the bride and bridegroom
took their meal together, separately from the rest.

We took advantage of the momentary bustle to slip away unobserved.
There was not a soul to be seen on the moonlit village street; the huts
were dark and silent; and at the entrance of the village the watchman
on duty for the night had left his post vacant.

A din of laughter and buzzing voices pursued us as we descended the
hill-path to our bungalow. And all that night, long after the last
cricket had ceased his song we heard the thin clear notes of the
gamelan resounding from the heights.






As I write these lines--adding a last touch to the slight sketches in
which I have endeavoured to render my impressions of this country--the
shrill whistle of steam and the thudding and panting of powerful
engines are in my ears, and I see the radiant sky blackened by volumes
of smoke. The "campaign" has begun in the Cheribon plains. In endless
file the lumbering, buffalo-drawn "pedatis"[20] creaking under the
load of luscious green sugar-cane, jolt along upon the dusty road, on
their way to the factory yonder,--a great, square, ungainly building,
all around which there is a stir and bustle of dark figures, like the
swarming of ants around an ant-hill. The gate is thrown wide; tall
black shapes loom through the semi-darkness of the interior; and,
now and then, the sudden flare from a furnace reveals the bulging,
sooty-black mass of a boiler, or the contour of the gigantic wheel
slowly revolving. The nauseous smell of the boiling syrup taints the

[20] Carts the wheels of which are wooden discs.

I went to the mill, the other morning, to watch the transformation
of the beautiful tall reeds, which, only a few hours ago, so gaily
fluttered their pennon-like leaves in the wind and sunshine without,
into a shapeless pulp, and a turbid viscous liquor. The "mandoor"
showed me the first sugar-bags of the season. I looked at them with
some interest beyond that which they deserved in themselves. We were
to be companions on the journey westwards, and already the steamer
which was to convey us hence, was riding at anchor in the roadstead of

Last impressions, it is said, are the strongest, and those which
ultimately fix the mental images. If so, I will remember Java, years
hence, not as the fairy-land it seemed to me only yester day, in the
sylvan solitudes of Tjerimai, but as a busy manufacturing country,
prosperous and prosaic.

I will remember a rich soil, an enervating climate, alternating
droughts and inundations and fever-breathing monsoons; a mode of life,
comfortable and even luxurious, but monotonous in the extreme, which
taxes to the utmost both mental and physical energies. I will think
of white dusty towns by yellow muddy rivers; of hills, and vales, and
marshy lowlands overgrown with thick, sprouting rice; of admirable
irrigation works; of a system of political administration, apparently
wise and equitable and conducive to the well-being of a prosperous
native population. And I will be at a loss how to reconcile all these
hard solid facts about Java with the airy fancier, the legends and the
dreams, which must still, as with white splendours of zodiacal light,
illumine my thoughts of the beautiful island.

It seems impossible that both should be true. And yet, I know that the
fancies are every whit as real and living as the facts, that the poetry
and the romance are as faithful representations of things as they are,
as the driest prose could be.

Even now, whilst in the factory yonder, fires roar, engines pant,
and human beings sweat and toil, to change the dew-drenched glory of
the fields into a marketable commodity some hamlet in the plains is
celebrating the Wedding of the Rice with many a mystic rite. Some
native chief, celebrating the birth of a son, welcomes to his house
the "dalang," the itinerant poet and playwright, who on his miniature
stage, represents the councils of the Gods, and the adventures, in
war and love, of unconquerable heroes, and of queens more beautiful
than the dawn. And in the sacred grove of Sangean on Tjerimai, the
green summit of which dominates the southern horizon, some huntsman,
crouching by the shore of the legend-haunted lake, invokes the
Princess Golden Orchid, and her saintly brother, Radhen Pangloera,
who live in a silver palace deep down in the shining water, and who
shower wealth, honour, and long life upon the mortal, who pronounces
the names the spirits of the lake know them by. Nay--on this very
estate, amid the smoke of the factory-chimneys romance still holds
her own. The mythopœic fancy of the country-folk has enthroned a
"danhjang," tutelary genius of the field, in the branches of an ancient
waringin-tree out in the fields. On their way to the mill, men and
women pause in its shade, to hang little paper fans on the branches, or
deposit on the humble altar jessamine blossoms, yellow "boreh" unguent
and new-laid eggs in homage to the agrestic god. Now, the waringin tree
stands in a field of sugarcane, where its wide-spreading roots exhaust
the soil, and its broad shadow kills the young plants within an ever
expanding circle. Clearly, it should be cut down. But the owner of the
estate, warned by recent events, wisely forbears. He chooses to put up
with these inconveniences, rather than expose himself and his property
to the revenge which the votaries of the Danhjang would undoubtedly
take, if a sacrilegious hand were laid on his chosen abode. And so, the
Sacred Waringin thrives and flourishes in the midst of the plantations
of sugar-cane, a fit symbol of the romance which, in this island,
pervades all things, even those the most prosaic in appearance.

It is this, I believe, this constant intrusion of the poetic, the
legendary, the fanciful into the midst of reality, which constitutes
the unique charm of Java. This is the secret of the unspeakable and
irresistible fascination by which it holds the men of the north, born
and bred among the sterner realities of European civilisation. A spell
which becomes so potent as to countervail ills which otherwise would
prove unbearable; and to temper, with a regret and a strange sense of
want, the joys of the exile's home-coming.

And this, too, is the reason why, to me as to so many who have beheld
Java not with the bodily eye alone, it must still remain a land of
dreams and fancies, the Enchanted Isle where innocent beliefs and
gladsome thoughts, such as are the privilege of children and childlike
nations, still have their happy home.




  *Mask used by Topeng-players                                         I

  *Batik-freme for the exclusive use of ladies of quality              V

   A "brownie" of that enchanted garden that men call Java             2

  *Batik-pattern                                                       3

   "Fishing-praos, their diminutive hull almost disappearing under
     the one tall whitish-brown sail, shaped like a bird's wing and
     flung back, as if ready for a swoop and rake"                     6

   "The ship lay still and we trod the quay of Tandjong Priok"         7

  *Sekin. (Interior of Sumatra)                                       11

  *Four-armed Çiva                                                    12

  *Lamp.--Garuda the Sun-Bird in the shape of a winged woman          14

  *Landing of a Hindoo Ship.--Relief to Boroboedoer (Java)            15

   "A seller of fruit and vegetables his baskets dangling from the
     end of a bamboo yoke"                                            17

   "Pine-apples and mangosteen, velvety rambootan and smooth-skinned
     dookoo"                                                          19

   "The big kalongs hanging from the topmost branches in a sleep
     from which the sunset will presently awaken them"                21

  *Ivory Mortar and Pestle, decorated with representations of scenes
     from the Life of Krishna                                         26

  *Mask used by Topeng-players                                        28

  *Wayang "bèbèr", drawing, representing the story of Djaka Prataka.
     (Vide: Vreede Catalogue of Javanese and Madurese MS. Leiden
     1892, page 196)                                                  29

   "A triple row of branching tamarinds"                              32

   "The idyllic Duke's park, very shadowy, fragrant and green"        33

   The business quarter of Batavia                                    36

   A footsore Klontong trudging wearily along                         37

  †The Chinese Quarter                                                39

   "The West-monsoon has set in, flooding the town"                   40

  †"The Kali Batawi on its way through the Chinese Quarter"           41

  †Entrance to a rich Chinaman's House                                43

   "A glimpse of the river as it glides along between the bamboo
     groves of its margins"                                           45

  †Procession at the funeral of a rich Chinaman                       50

  †Funeral procession on its way to the Chinese Country               51

  †Burning of symbolical figures at a Chinese Funeral                 53

   "The deliberate stream sauntering along at its own pace on its way
     from the hills to the sea"                                       55

  *Bamboo case. (Java: Preanger Regencies)                            60

  *Batik-pattern                                                      61

   "Compound" of a Batavia House                                      62

  †The servants' kitchen                                              67

  †Native servants                                                    71

  †Native gardener                                                    75

  †Native footboy                                                     77

  †Sacred gun near the Amsterdam-gate, Batavia                        78

  *Brass flower-pot, modern (Java: Resid of Surabaya)                 80

  *Wayang bèbèr, drawing, representing the story of Djaka Prataka.
     (Vide: Vreede, Catalogue of Javanese and Madurese MS. Leiden
     1892. page 196)                                                  81

  *Mandau. (S. E. Borneo)                                             95

   Raksasa (Demon)                                                    96

  *Mask used by Topeng-players                                        98

  *Creese. (Java)                                                     99

  †The River-Bath                                                    101

  †A Laundry in the River                                            103

   Native Lady travelling in her Litter                              104

   A Litter                                                          105

  †The Market at Malang                                              107

  †Street-Dancers                                                    110

   Musicians                                                         111

  †The native cithara and violin                                     112

   Clasp for fastening a kabaya in front                             113

  †A native restaurant in its most compendious shape                 115

   "For the morning and evening meal he prefers the open air and
     the cuisine of the Warong"                                      117

  †A kitchen                                                         120

   A native restaurant in its simplest and most compendious shape    121

  †Native restaurant                                                 123

   Breakfast in the open air                                         125

   "Here they are: without playthings naked and supremely happy"     129

  †A Chinese Carpenter                                               130

  †A Chinese Dyer                                                    131

   "The miniature stage on which the lives and adventures of Hindoo
     Heroes, Queens and Saints are acted over again by puppets of
     gilt and painted leather"                                       133

   Scene in a Wayang-Wong Place                                      136

   The Regent of Malang's Wayang-Wong                                137

   The native orchestra which accompanies every representation of
     the Wayang                                                      139

   Wayang-Wong Players missing a Fight                               144

   Wayang-Wong Scene                                                 145

   Scenes from a Wayang-Wong Play                                    149

   "Topeng" played by masked actors                                  152

   "Topeng" actors                                                   153

   "Slowly they advance gliding rather than walking"                 155

   Street-dancers                                                    156

   "The dancers stand listening for the music"                       157

   A Wayang representation                                           159

   A Wayang representation                                           160

   Wayang dancers.                                                   161

  *Wooden model of a boat (majang.--Java: Res. of Japara)            164

  *Batik-pattern                                                     165

  *Balinese crease.--Stabbard made of "Kajoe pèlèt"                  181

  *Padi-Reaper.--Java                                                182

  *Laksjmi seated on a lotos-cushion                                 184

  *Batik-pattern taken from a Head-kerchief                          185

   Buffaloes at grass                                                188

  †Avenue leading to the Botanical-garden                            189

   A Nipah Palm                                                      194

   The Brantas-River.--Malang                                        195

   A Javanese                                                        197

   A Hill-man                                                        198

  †"In the depth of the ravine"                                      199

   Watch-men                                                         201

  †Prinsenlaan-corner, Batavia                                       202

   "The beautiful tall reeds of the sugar-cane, their pennon-like
     gleaming in the sunshine"                                       204

   Avenue of old Waringin-trees, Botanical-garden, Buitenzorg        205

  †A cactus in flower                                                208

  †Gum tree, Botanical-garden, Buitenzorg                            210

  †Palmtrees in the Botanical-garden                                 211

  †A Waringin-tree                                                   214

  †"A path leading from sunshine into dappled shade and from shade
     into sunshine again"                                            216

  †"A bamboo-grove where was an incessant rustling and waving of
     foliage though no wind"                                         217

   "Carriers walking by the side of their lumbering, bullock-drawn
     pedati, which creaks along the sun-scorched roads"              219

  †Palm trees and Arancaria                                          222

  †"A tall gloomy avenue of Kenari-trees, the sky but faintly
     showing though their sombre branches"                           223

   Submerged rice-fields                                             225

  †Bamboo-bridge near Batu-Tulis                                     227

   Bamboo-bridge across the Tjitaroon                                229

   Bamboo-bridge across the Tjitaroon                                230

  *Brass water-kettle.--Java: Res. of Surabaya                       231

  *Copper Dish, decorated with Wayang-figures                        232

  *Javanese girl                                                     234

  *Relief to Boroboedoer                                             235

   A village couple                                                  237

   Near Garoot                                                       241

   A "brownie" of that enchanted garden that men call Java           246

   Girl from the Preanger-Country                                    247

   Javanese of the higher class                                      249

   Girl from Kadoo                                                   251

  †Women pounding rice                                               253

   The rapids of the Tjitaroon                                       254

   Pangeran Adipati Mangkoe Boemi (Djokjakarta)                      256

   Javanese Lady                                                     257

   Waterfalls                                                        259

   The Tjimahi falls                                                 260

  †"Through the darkling stillness of the grove there break the
     splendour and the sound of living water"                        261

   Pedang. (Interior of Sumatra)                                     264

  *Ganeça.--The God of Wisdom                                        266

  *Priests with their Guru or Teacher                                267

   Raised shed from which the ripening fields are watched            268

  *Gunungan, or Pile of Sacrificial Food, as offered by women, on
     Garĕbĕg Mulud, the feast of the nativity of Nabi Muhamed, the
     Great Prophet. (Vide: Groneman, "the Garĕbĕg". The Hague 1895,
     page 33)                                                        270

   A native official and his followers                               271

  †Rice-barn shaped like a child's cradle                            273

   "A progeny like to the spreading crown of the waringin-tree"      275

   Sellers of rice                                                   278

  †Women dyeing sarong cloth                                         279

  †Woman picking cotton, and men plaiting a sieve                    281

   A Javanese Family                                                 282

  †Mat-plaiting                                                      283

  †A bamboo hut                                                      286

   Weighing rice-sheaves                                             287

  †Native official                                                   289

   Preparing the village field                                       291

   Native nobleman and his wife                                      292

  †Pilgrims returned from Mecca                                      293

  †A scholar                                                         295

   Filling the village field                                         297

  †Rice-barn                                                         299

   Peasant ploughing                                                 300

   Rice on the swampy plains                                         301

   "The produce of the fields is equally divided amongst them as
     they equally divide the labour and the toil"                    303

   Flooded rice-fields                                               306

  †"The men, with the father of the bride at their head, had come
     for the bridegroom, to conduct him to the mosque"               308

  †"With measured steps the two advanced towards each other, and
     whilst yet at some distance paused"                             309

  †"Humbly kneeling down, the bride proceeded to wash the
     bridegroom's feet, in token of loving submission"               310

  †Bride and bridegroom sitting in state                             311

  †The wedding-guests on their procession through the village        312

  †"The men sat down to a repast"                                    315

   Native Policeman                                                  316

  *Mandou (S. E. Borneo)                                             317

  *Vishnu the preserver, four-armed, standing on a lotos-cushion,
     lotos-plants to his right and left, under which two women
     standing: Laksjmi and Satiavana the Consorts of the God. (Java) 318

  *Javanese Type                                                     320

  *Crease. (Java)                                                    321

   A seller of Peruvian bark                                         325

   Crease. (Java)                                                    329

   A Malay                                                           330

   Crease. (Java)                                                    331

  *Kartakeya Çiva's Son, the War-God, seated on a pea-cock           331

   Cock-fighting                                                     332

         The illustrations marked * are taken from originals in
   the Leyden Ethnographical Museum, those marked † from the Haarlem
                            Colonial Museum.

      Vide also: H. H. Juynboll, "Das Javanische Maskenspiel" in:
                   Intern. Archiv. für Ethn. XIV 41.

   L. Serrurier, De Wayang Poerwâ. Eene ethnologische studie. Leiden





         PROLOGUE                          v

     I.  FIRST GLIMPSES                    1

    II.  A BATAVIA HOTEL                  13

   III.  THE TOWN                         27

    IV.  A COLONIAL HOME                  59

     V.  SOCIAL LIFE                      79

    VI.  GLIMPSES OF NATIVE LIFE          97

   VII.  ON THE BEACH                    163

  VIII.  OF BUITENZORG                   183

    IX.  IN THE HILL COUNTRY             233

     X.  IN THE DESSA                    265

         EPILOGUE                        319

         ILLUSTRATIONS                   325




      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber's note:

    Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as
    possible. Obvious punctuation errors repaired.

    The usage of hyphenated words in this text is inconsistent. This was

    The following is a list of changes made to the original.
    The first line is the original line, the second the corrected one.

    Page VI
    breathed its odour-laden air for to long a time;
    breathed its odour-laden air for too long a time;

    Page VI
    he is content to live on dreamely by some
    he is content to live on dreamily by some

    Page 18
    immates of the hotel are all
    inmates of the hotel are all

    Page 18
    Pine-apples and mangosteen, velvetry rambootan
    Pine-apples and mangosteen, velvety rambootan

    Page 26
    a spacious hall supported on pillars, was brillantly lit.
    a spacious hall supported on pillars, was brilliantly lit.

    Page 38
    such as Shakspeare loved as a setting
    such as Shakespeare loved as a setting

    Page 54
    Funeral Procession on its way to the Chinese Cimetery.
    Funeral Procession on its way to the Chinese Cemetery.

    Page 57
    the attitude of mind and the habits of though identical
    the attitude of mind and the habits of thought identical

    Page 57
    He could as soon leave off breathing as leave of buying and selling
    He could as soon leave off breathing as leave off buying and selling

    Page 61
    the Northerner's mind when the looks upon a house
    the Northerner's mind when he looks upon a house

    Page 65
    and supported on colums
    and supported on columns

    Page 76
    a sufficient domiestic staff
    a sufficient domestic staff

    Page 81
    and the deepbreathed fragance of flowers
    and the deepbreathed fragrance of flowers

    Page 84
    almost in the house, nothwithstanding;
    almost in the house, notwithstanding;

    Page 91
    nests on the capitals of the columms,
    nests on the capitals of the columns,

    Page 92
    analogous contasts meet one at every step
    analogous contrasts meet one at every step

    Page 92
    Thy have more leisure,
    They have more leisure,

    Page 92
    a friend, a mere acquintance, an utter stranger,
    a friend, a mere acquaintance, an utter stranger,

    Page 106
    invader has suceeded in ousting from
    invader has succeeded in ousting from

    Page 109
    wax-white Gardenias, violet Seabiosa, and leaves
    wax-white Gardenias, violet Scabiosa, and leaves

    Page 109
    the soft, fragant heap in his basket
    the soft, fragrant heap in his basket

    Page 109
    figures in their brigh-hued garments
    figures in their bright-hued garments

    Page 112
    the fragant blossom of the asana.
    the fragrant blossom of the asana.

    Page 121
    the guidance of its own insticts
    the guidance of its own instincts

    Page 129
    a Englismen about a prize-fighter.
    as Englishmen about a prize-fighter.

    Page 131
    and the tail protude.
    and the tail protrude.

    Page 138
    figures are fixed in a piece of bananastem
    figures are fixed in a piece of banana stem

    Page 142
    and posess some knowledge of Kawi
    and possess some knowledge of Kawi

    Page 147
    that some well-know "dalang" will hold
    that some well-known "dalang" will hold

    Page 150
    the pride of wordly rank and station
    the pride of worldly rank and station

    Page 155
    that we many know surely.
    that we may know surely.

    Page 156
    thus shamefaced and sad, rejoice exeedingly.
    thus shamefaced and sad, rejoice exceedingly.

    Page 159
    as Ardjuna, goes to seek Niwâtakawata
    as Ardjuna, goes to seek Niwàtakawaka

    Page 160
    called Ardjuna's marrage feast
    called Ardjuna's marriage feast

    Page 165
    In one place were the narrow beach broadens
    In one place where the narrow beach broadens

    Page 166
    of the broad-branched nyamploeng trees
    of the broad-branched njamploeng trees

    Page 167
    cool a well water
    cool as well water

    Page 167
    one old fellow, white-haired and decrepid
    one old fellow, white-haired and decrepit

    Page 168
    a group of island, ethereal as cloudlets
    a group of islands, ethereal as cloudlets

    Page 169
    whitened the shell-strewd beach
    whitened the shell-strewed beach

    Page 169
    Then jamploengs were in flower.
    Then njamploengs were in flower.

    Page 169
    its blossoms, fragant, white, and of
    its blossoms, fragrant, white, and of

    Page 171
    erected his "tero," the piable bamboo palisade
    erected his "tero," the pliable bamboo palisade

    Page 173
    weaving and batikking sarongs
    weaving and batiking sarongs

    Page 176
    For my childern are dutiful
    For my children are dutiful

    Page 186
    The gardens on each side the road
    The gardens on each side of the road

    Page 220
    the Gedeh-crater surrouds, as an impregnable bulwark
    the Gedeh-crater surrounds, as an impregnable bulwark

    Page 226
    a tender-pettalled flower to a rock
    a tender-petalled flower to a rock

    Page 236
    The gardens are fragant with mignonette
    The gardens are fragrant with mignonette

    Page 239
    where four wounderful lakes of green
    where four wonderful lakes of green

    Page 243
    with the rhytmic click-clack of the wooden pestles
    with the rhythmic click-clack of the wooden pestles

    Page 254
    "They way of the land, the honour of the land,"
    "The way of the land, the honour of the land,"

    Page 267
    Our bungalaw on the Tjerimai hillside
    Our bungalow on the Tjerimai hillside

    Page 267
    in the near neighbourhood af a native dessa
    in the near neighbourhood of a native dessa

    Page 267
    a prosprect of brown huts
    a prospect of brown huts

    Page 268
    Raised shad from which the ripening fields are watched.
    Raised shed from which the ripening fields are watched.

    Page 277
    Around stretch meadows, ricefields, and plantions of nipahpalm
    Around stretch meadows, ricefields, and plantations of nipahpalm

    Page 277
    in return to pay certain taxas
    in return to pay certain taxes

    Page 289
    detail about Javanese sacrifical rites
    detail about Javanese sacrificial rites

    Page 292
    European children seem insiped by comparison
    European children seem insipid by comparison

    Page 293
    Pelgrims returned from Mecca
    Pilgrims returned from Mecca

    Page 294
    takes the prayer for fine childeren
    takes the prayer for fine children

    Page 300
    under so eleborate a system of agriculture
    under so elaborate a system of agriculture

    Page 307
    for the Rice-Bride and Bridegoom to repair
    for the Rice-Bride and Bridegroom to repair

    Page 307
    and all thing ready for their reception
    and all things ready for their reception

    Page 315
    And I fancied a saw a gleam of satisfaction
    And I fancied I saw a gleam of satisfaction

    Page 315
    The symbolical ceromonies were then concluded
    The symbolical ceremonies were then concluded

    Page 322
    of a system of political admistration
    of a system of political administration

    Page 324
    if a sacriligious hand were laid on his chosen abode
    if a sacrilegious hand were laid on his chosen abode

    Page 327
    *Copper Dish, decorated with Wayang-figures
    Wayang dancers.

    Page 328
    Raised shad from which the ripening fields are watched.
    Raised shed from which the ripening fields are watched.

    Page 329
    Bride and bridegoom sitting in state
    Bride and bridegroom sitting in state

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