Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

to others of a less violent, though equally fatal effect. I have seen many suffering under the effects of the latter. The victim of revenge is not insensible of his situation, and sees the mournful prospect of many years to be passed in pain and torment, for the gratification of his implacable enemy. Soom, a China medicine, (for a small stick of which, three or four inches long, a hundred dollars is paid) is the only antidote to these poisons; but it is so seldom to be procured, and the circumstances of the person are in general so inadequate to the purchase, that it is very rare those once poisoned ever recover.

The Battas, with whom the Company's Settlements to the northward have communication, are a faithless, litigious, vindictive, and an independent race of people. I am sorry to say, I cannot allow them a single virtue. It is only the dread of punishment from a superior power, that will keep them in any degree of subordination, or excite them to the performance of their engagements. It is by no means uncommon for a chief to conceal his real inclinations with so much art, as to receive a compensation as a bribe from both parties, either for his assistance in the wars, or his opinion on a trial. A dispute, of which the value will not exceed ten dollars, is sufficient to set two kampongs, or districts, at war; though in this case, it is not so much the consideration of the sum, (for ten times the amount is probably expended before it is concluded, beside the loss of lives) as the mutual dislike to surrender the point which has caused the difference; and unless mediators appear from other districts, a war of this nature will continue for months and years. They carry their revenge to such an extent, as to eat their prisoners. Should the adverse party have attempted to burn the kampong, or should the war happen to be on a point of consequence, if they cannot vent their hatred in a public manner, they resort to their favourite resource, poison. Some idea of their obstinacy or independence (I believe it should be termed the former) may be obtained, from the conduct of Batta Koolies, hired to work in the Company's Settlements; they will continue their services as long only as they please; so that unloading a cargo of salt with despatch, depends on their good humour: the instant an example is made of those who are unwilling to proceed in their work, the rest run away to the main, and leave you to finish the business as you can. The Rajahs have no authority over them; and your only satisfaction is the curtailing of their wages, which

they willingly admit, from a consciousness that they have gained their point, and can in future have an opportunity of retaliating, by refusing their services. This circumstance (although the inconvenience attending it is now removed) is sufficient to give you an idea of the impossibility of urging the execution of any scheme or plan, contrary to their real wishes, even when supported by the opinion and concurrence of their chief.

The authority of a chief is hereditary to the son or brother, and founded solely on his abilities in regard to the sway he has among his people: his right to that part of the country no one will dispute; but if he be not prompt to resent insult, ready to take advantage of the weak and credulous, endowed with facility of speech and argument, bold in war and rapine, he has but few adherents; who, in return for their services, require from him those qualities, which will protect them in their agricultural pursuits during peace, and lead them to victory in war. Every kampong of consequence, is well furnished with matchlocks; and being easily supplied with powder and ball of their own manufacture, they frequently practise firing at a mark, and are, in general, excellent shots.

The Rajah and his adherents being unanimous in the necessity of having recourse to arms, (all discussions of a public nature requiring the presence of the commonalty) presents and messengers are despatched to other Rajahs, to join, or preserve their neutrality. This being ascertained, the people are collected by each chief, feasted on buffalo meat, and the cause of the war is loudly proclaimed, accompanied by the music of gongs, drums, and fifes. During this, they supplicate the anger of evil spirits, that their undertaking may succeed; and every man binds himself by oath, to be true to the cause, in taking of which, he participates of the buffalo. The next thing is, to announce the declaration of war to their enemies, which is done by erecting in the road leading to their kampong, a number of reeds, and the wooden figure of a human face on a post, from which a bamboo, containing the cause of enmity, is suspended. A matchlock is then fired, to draw attention to the spot, and the party returns: after this, every opportunity is taken for annoying each other, and the war is the cause of much privation and confinement; as the husbandman is afraid to work in his ladang, lest he should be shot or carried off by a party of the enemy, of whom there are always small detachments on the look out for the defence

less. Day-break is generally the time of attack, superstition prohibiting any other part of the twenty-four hours to be so appropriated."

Sketch of the Present Condition of the Native Population of Sumatra; and of the Probability of its Amelioration, by the Education of its Children.

THE eleventh article in the "Malayan Miscellanies," enables us to lay before our readers a brief, but very interesting account of the present state of the native population of Sumatra, and some very encouraging prospects of its speedy amelioration, by the establishment of schools for the education of the young. To this object, we have reason to know, that the attention of the enlightened, the benevolent, and the active lieutenant-governor of Fort Marlborough, the first European in rank and authority in the island, was very powerfully directed before he left England; and, with his wonted despatch in the furtherance of every plan of improvement, soon after his arrival at his government, he appointed a committee, having at its head the chaplain of the settlement, to draw up a plan for the extension of the system of education, already in operation, for the benefit of the emancipated Caffree slaves of government to native children of all descriptions. In his instruction to that Committee, he very justly remarks:

"At present, though there does not seem to exist any. prejudice or objection to sending children to the school, many parents are so inattentive to their interests, and unacquainted with the benefits to be derived, that it cannot be expected they will send them without some pressing invitation and encouragement; - others derive some advantages from the services of their children, in attending cattle and otherwise; and, therefore, in order to remove these impediments, it may be advisable to afford to the individuals some positive advantage, of which they cannot fail to be sensible. With this view, a certain allowance of rice to each of the children, to be delivered monthly to those who regularly attend, may be advisable; and you are authorized to include it in the general plan of the parent school."

His final direction is:

"You will be pleased to accompany your Report by such observations as occur to you, on the necessity and advantage

of this intended plan of educating the native population, the difficulties which may be expected, and the probable success and effects to be contemplated: and, as the same will probably form the subject of a communication to the Supreme Government, and the authorities in Europe, I earnestly recommend that your Report be as circumstantial and explicit as possible, in order to enable a distant authority to judge and decide on the advantage of the measure, and the probable results."

These instructions are dated Fort Marlborough, Sept. 19, 1819; and, in obedience to the governor's directions to the committee, to assemble with the least delay practicable, and to lose no time in carrying into effect such part of the plan as would depend on their individual exertions, they, on the 14th of the same month, prepared for circulation, in the Malay language, the following


"This is to give notice, that a school has been opened, under the protection of Government, for the instruction of native children; which institution is in accordance with a benevolent and extensive scheme, which has been adopted by the British Nation, for the spread of useful knowledge, and the improvement of mankind. At this school, children will be taught to read and write their native language, instructed in the elements of general science, and the principles of practical morality, so that they may be brought up as profitable and respectable members of society. Be it, however, distinctly understood, that any interference with the religious principles of the scholars, will be strictly avoided. It is intended to receive into the school all children between the ages of three and sixteen years. The blessings of education have been generally confined to the rich; but in this institution, the poor have equal advantages; for it is the humane intention of Government to grant an allowance of rice to all whose parents come forward to apply for that indulgence, from inability to support them whilst deprived of their services. It is hoped that all natives of rank and education will, by their example in sending their own children, and by their influence among their dependants, endeavour to promote the extension and consequent utility of the institution; and they are invited to come and satisfy themselves, that the regulations adopted, and the instructions communicated, are such as have been

set forth, and as are calculated for the advantage and improvement of the population of the country."

This Advertisement was accompanied by the following judicious Prospectus, translated also into the Malay tongue :


It has pleased Almighty God to inspire the good in many parts of the world with a desire to supply the destitute, to instruct the ignorant, and to render happy the miserable; this desire is extending on every side, and many people of many nations, who have hitherto been living in misery, because they have been living in ignorance of a state superior to that which they had been habituated to, are now receiving the blessings of their benefactors with pleasure and gratitude. At length the wishes of these benevolent individuals have reached the shores of Sumatra, and are only restrained till the consent of its inhabitants be obtained, when they will be extended and diffused without distinction over every part of the island. It is the opinion of the learned and the wise, that the most effectual means of rendering men happy, is to extend the capacity of their minds, to increase the degree of their knowledge, and to make them acquainted with the capability they possess, of occupying an exalted situation in the creation of the Supremely Wise. But how is it possible to bring them into this state? for if men be ignorant of the benefits afforded by it, they have no inducement to exert their activity in attaining to it; and the advantages arising from it, can be duly appreciated by none but those whose minds are already expanded, and whose abilities enable them to judge of the nature of good and evil. When men perceive the advantages to be derived from the possession of a thing, they require no foreign stimulus to excite them to obtain it; they immediately ask, "How shall I get it?" and embrace those measures without delay or hesitation, which are most likely to bring it into their possession. Thus money having been adopted as the standard value of property, and being that which can purchase articles necessary for the pleasures of the body, all men are endeavouring to obtain it; they make it the grand object of their constant pursuit; they use every just means calculated to bring it into their hands; and many are so eager to possess it, that they scruple not to act with the greatest injustice and cruelty. But where is the money that purchases happiness of mind? What will expand the mind, and increase the knowledge of men? It is not wealth, nor property, nor manual labour, nor superior

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »