(A SKETCH OF THE TOWN AND ISLAND AS SEEN DURING SEVERAL VISITS FROM 1854 TO 1862)
FEW places are more interesting to a traveller from Europe than the town and island of Singapore, furnishing, as it does, examples of a variety of Eastern races, and of many different religions and modes of life. The government, the garrison, and the chief merchants are English; but the great mass of the population is Chinese, including some of the wealthiest merchants, the agriculturists of the interior, and most of the mechanics and labourers. The native Malays are usually fishermen and boatmen, and they form the main body of the police. The Portuguese of Malacca supply a large number of the clerks and smaller merchants. The Klings of Western India are a numerous body of Mahometans, and, with many Arabs, are petty merchants and shopkeepers. The grooms and washermen are all Bengalees, and there is a small but highly respectable class of Parsee merchants. Besides these, there are numbers of Javanese sailors and domestic servants, as well as traders from Celebes, Bali, and many other islands of the Archipelago. The harbour is crowded with men-of-war and trading vessels of many European nations, and hundreds of Malay praus and Chinese junks, from vessels of several hundred tons burthen down to little fishing boats and passenger sampans; and the town comprises handsome public buildings and churches, Mahometan mosques, Hindu temples, Chinese joss-houses, good European houses, massive warehouses, queer old Kling and China bazaars, and long suburbs of Chinese and Malay cottages.
By far the most conspicuous of the various kinds of people in Singapore, and those which most attract the stranger's attention, are the Chinese, whose numbers and incessant activity give the place very much the appearance of a town in China. The Chinese merchant is generally a fat round-faced man with an important and business-like look. He wears the same style of clothing (loose white smock, and blue or black trousers) as the meanest coolie, but of finer materials, and is always clean and neat; and his long tail tipped with red silk hangs down to his heels. He has a handsome warehouse or shop in town and a good house in the country. He keeps a fine horse and gig, and every evening may be seen taking a drive bareheaded to enjoy the cool breeze. He is rich--he owns several retail shops and trading schooners, he lends money at high interest and on good security, he makes hard bargains, and gets fatter and richer every year.
In the Chinese bazaar are hundreds of small shops in which a miscellaneous collection of hardware and dry goods are to be found, and where many things are sold wonderfully cheap. You may buy gimlets at a penny each, white cotton thread at four balls for a halfpenny, and penknives, corkscrews, gunpowder, writing- paper, and many other articles as cheap or cheaper than you can purchase them in England. The shopkeeper is very good-natured; he will show you everything he has, and does not seem to mind if you buy nothing. He bates a little, but not so much as the Klings, who almost always ask twice what they are willing to take. If you buy a few things from him, he will speak to you afterwards every time you pass his shop, asking you to walk in and sit down, or take a cup of tea; and you wonder how he can get a living where so many sell the same trifling articles.
The tailors sit at a table, not on one; and both they and the shoemakers work well and cheaply. The barbers have plenty to do, shaving heads and cleaning ears; for which latter operation they have a great array of little tweezers, picks, and brushes. In the outskirts of the town are scores of carpenters and blacksmiths. The former seem chiefly to make coffins and highly painted and decorated clothes-boxes. The latter are mostly gun-makers, and bore the barrels of guns by hand out of solid bars of iron. At this tedious operation they may be seen every day, and they manage to finish off a gun with a flintlock very handsomely. All about the streets are sellers of water, vegetables, fruit, soup, and agar-agar (a jelly made of seaweed), who have many cries as unintelligible as those of London. Others carry a portable cooking-apparatus on a pole balanced by a table at the other end, and serve up a meal of shellfish, rice, and vegetables for two or three halfpence--while coolies and boatmen waiting to be hired are everywhere to be met with.
In the interior of the island the Chinese cut down forest trees in the jungle, and saw them up into planks; they cultivate vegetables, which they bring to market; and they grow pepper and gambir, which form important articles of export. The French Jesuits have established missions among these inland Chinese, which seem very successful. I lived for several weeks at a time with the missionary at Bukit-tima, about the centre of the island, where a pretty church has been built and there are about 300 converts. While there, I met a missionary who had just arrived from Tonquin, where he had been living for many years. The Jesuits still do their work thoroughly as of old. In Cochin China, Tonquin, and China, where all Christian teachers are obliged to live in secret, and are liable to persecution, expulsion, and sometimes death [footnote: Since the French settlement in Cochin China this is no longer the case.], every province, even those farthest in the interior, has a permanent Jesuit mission establishment, constantly kept up by fresh aspirants, who are taught the languages of the countries they are going to at Penang or Singapore. In China there are said to be near a million converts; in Tonquin and Cochin China, more than half a million. One secret of the success of these missions is the rigid economy practised in the expenditure of the funds. A missionary is allowed about £30. a year, on which he lives in whatever country he may be. This renders it possible to support a large number of missionaries with very limited means; and the natives, seeing their teachers living in poverty and with none of the luxuries of life, are convinced that they are sincere in what they teach, and have really given up home and friends and ease and safety, for the good of others. No wonder they make converts, for it must be a great blessing to the poor people among whom they labour to have a man among them to whom they can go in any trouble or distress, who will comfort and advise them, who visits them in sickness, who relieves them in want, and who they see living from day-to-day in danger of persecution and death--entirely for their sakes.
My friend at Bukit-tima was truly a father to his flock. He preached to them in Chinese every Sunday, and had evenings for discussion and conversation on religion during the week. He had a school to teach their children. His house was open to them day and night. If a man came to him and said, "I have no rice for my family to eat today," he would give him half of what he had in the house, however little that might be. If another said, "I have no money to pay my debt," he would give him half the contents of his purse, were it his last dollar. So, when he was himself in want, he would send to some of the wealthiest among his flock, and say, "I have no rice in the house," or "I have given away my money, and am in want of such and such articles." The result was that his flock trusted and loved him, for they felt sure that he was their true friend, and had no ulterior designs in living among them.
The island of Singapore consists of a multitude of small hills, three or four hundred feet high, the summits of many of which are still covered with virgin forest. The mission-house at Bukit-tima was surrounded by several of these wood-topped hills, which were much frequented by woodcutters and sawyers, and offered me an excellent collecting ground for insects. Here and there, too, were tiger pits, carefully covered over with sticks and leaves, and so well concealed, that in several cases I had a narrow escape from falling into them. They are shaped like an iron furnace, wider at the bottom than the top, and are perhaps fifteen or twenty feet deep so that it would be almost impossible for a person unassisted to get out of one. Formerly a sharp stake was stuck erect in the bottom; but after an unfortunate traveller had been killed by falling on one, its use was forbidden. There are always a few tigers roaming about Singapore, and they kill on an average a Chinaman every day, principally those who work in the gambir plantations, which are always made in newly-cleared jungle. We heard a tiger roar once or twice in the evening, and it was rather nervous work hunting for insects among the fallen trunks and old sawpits when one of these savage animals might be lurking close by, awaiting an opportunity to spring upon us.
Several hours in the middle of every fine day were spent in these patches of forest, which were delightfully cool and shady by contrast with the bare open country we had to walk over to reach them. The vegetation was most luxuriant, comprising enormous forest trees, as well as a variety of ferns, caladiums, and other undergrowth, and abundance of climbing rattan palms. Insects were exceedingly abundant and very interesting, and every day furnished scores of new and curious forms.
In about two months I obtained no less than 700 species of beetles, a large proportion of which were quite new, and among them were 130 distinct kinds of the elegant Longicorns (Cerambycidae), so much esteemed by collectors. Almost all these were collected in one patch of jungle, not more than a square mile in extent, and in all my subsequent travels in the East I rarely if ever met with so productive a spot. This exceeding productiveness was due in part no doubt to some favourable conditions in the soil, climate, and vegetation, and to the season being very bright and sunny, with sufficient showers to keep everything fresh. But it was also in a great measure dependent, I feel sure, on the labours of the Chinese wood- cutters. They had been at work here for several years, and during all that time had furnished a continual supply of dry and dead and decaying leaves and bark, together with abundance of wood and sawdust, for the nourishment of insects and their larvae. This had led to the assemblage of a great variety of species in a limited space, and I was the first naturalist who had come to reap the harvest they had prepared. In the same place, and during my walks in other directions, I obtained a fair collection of butterflies and of other orders of insects, so that on the whole I was quite satisfied with these--my first attempts to gain a knowledge of the Natural History of the Malay Archipelago.
MALACCA AND MOUNT OPHIR
(JULY TO SEPTEMBER, 1854)
BIRDS and most other kinds of animals being scarce at Singapore, I left it in July for Malacca, where I spent more than two months in the interior, and made an excursion to Mount Ophir. The old and picturesque town of Malacca is crowded along the banks of the small river, and consists of narrow streets of shops and dwelling houses, occupied by the descendants of the Portuguese, and by Chinamen. In the suburbs are the houses of the English officials and of a few Portuguese merchants, embedded in groves of palms and fruit-trees, whose varied and beautiful foliage furnishes a pleasing relief to the eye, as well as most grateful shade.
The old fort, the large Government House, and the ruins of a cathedral attest the former wealth and importance of this place, which was once as much the centre of Eastern trade as Singapore is now. The following description of it by Linschott, who wrote two hundred and seventy years ago, strikingly exhibits the change it has undergone:
"Malacca is inhabited by the Portuguese and by natives of the country, called Malays. The Portuguese have here a fortress, as at Mozambique, and there is no fortress in all the Indies, after those of Mozambique and Ormuz, where the captains perform their duty better than in this one. This place is the market of all India, of China, of the Moluccas, and of other islands around about--from all which places, as well as from Banda, Java, Sumatra, Siam, Pegu, Bengal, Coromandel, and India--arrive ships which come and go incessantly, charged with an infinity of merchandises. There would be in this place a much greater number of Portuguese if it were not for the inconvenience, and unhealthiness of the air, which is hurtful not only to strangers, but also to natives of the country. Thence it is that all who live in the country pay tribute of their health, suffering from a certain disease, which makes them lose either their skin or their hair. And those who escape consider it a miracle, which occasions many to leave the country, while the ardent desire of gain induces others to risk their health, and endeavour to endure such an atmosphere. The origin of this town, as the natives say, was very small, only having at the beginning, by reason of the unhealthiness of the air, but six or seven fishermen who inhabited it. But the number was increased by the meeting of fishermen from Siam, Pegu, and Bengal, who came and built a city, and established a peculiar language, drawn from the most elegant nodes of speaking of other nations, so that in fact the, language of the Malays is at present the most refined, exact, and celebrated of all the East. The name of Malacca was given to this town, which, by the convenience of its situation, in a short time grew to such wealth, that it does not yield to the most powerful towns and regions around about. The natives, both men and women, are very courteous and are reckoned the most skillful in the world in compliments, and study much to compose and repeat verses and love-songs. Their language is in vogue through the Indies, as the French is here.
At present, a vessel over a hundred tons hardly ever enters its port, and the trade is entirely confined to a few petty products of the forests, and to the fruit, which the trees, planted by the old Portuguese, now produce for the enjoyment of the inhabitants of Singapore. Although rather subject to fevers, it is not at present considered very unhealthy.
The population of Malacca consists of several races. The ubiquitous Chinese are perhaps the most numerous, keeping up their manners, customs, and language; the indigenous Malays are next in point of numbers, and their language is the Lingua-franca of the place. Next come the descendants of the Portuguese--a mixed, degraded, and degenerate race, but who still keep up the use of their mother tongue, though ruefully mutilated in grammar; and then there are the English rulers, and the descendants of the Dutch, who all speak English. The Portuguese spoken at Malacca is a useful philological phenomenon. The verbs have mostly lost their inflections, and one form does for all moods, tenses, numbers, and persons. Eu vai, serves for "I go," "I went," or, "I will go." Adjectives, too, have been deprived of their feminine and plural terminations, so that the language is reduced to a marvellous simplicity, and, with the admixture of a few Malay words, becomes rather puzzling to one who has heard only the pure Lusitanian.
In costume these several peoples are as varied as in their speech. The English preserve the tight-fitting coat, waistcoat, and trousers, and the abominable hat and cravat; the Portuguese patronise a light jacket, or, more frequently, shirt and trousers only; the Malays wear their national jacket and sarong (a kind of kilt), with loose drawers; while the Chinese never depart in the least from their national dress, which, indeed, it is impossible to improve for a tropical climate, whether as regards comfort or appearance. The loosely-hanging trousers, and neat white half- shirt half jacket, are exactly what a dress should be in this low latitude.
I engaged two Portuguese to accompany me into the interior; one as a cook, the other to shoot and skin birds, which is quite a trade in Malacca. I first stayed a fortnight at a village called Gading, where I was accommodated in the house of some Chinese converts, to whom I was recommended by the Jesuit missionaries. The house was a mere shed, but it was kept clean, and I made myself sufficiently comfortable. My hosts were forming a pepper and gambir plantation, and in the immediate neighbourhood were extensive tin-washings, employing over a thousand Chinese. The tin is obtained in the form of black grains from beds of quartzose sand, and is melted into ingots in rude clay furnaces. The soil seemed poor, and the forest was very dense with undergrowth, and not at all productive of insects; but, on the other hand, birds were abundant, and I was at once introduced to the rich ornithological treasures of the Malayan region.
The very first time I fired my gun I brought down one of the most curious and beautiful of the Malacca birds, the blue-billed gaper (Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchus), called by the Malays the "Rainbird." It is about the size of a starling, black and rich claret colour with white shoulder stripes, and a very large and broad bill of the most pure cobalt blue above and orange below, while the iris is emerald green. As the skins dry the bill turns dull black, but even then the bird is handsome. When fresh killed, the contrast of the vivid blue with the rich colours of the plumage is remarkably striking and beautiful. The lovely Eastern trogons, with their rich-brown backs, beautifully pencilled wings, and crimson breasts, were also soon obtained, as well as the large green barbets (Megalaema versicolor)--fruit- eating birds, something like small toucans, with a short, straight bristly bill, and whose head and neck are variegated with patches of the most vivid blue and crimson. A day or two after, my hunter brought me a specimen of the green gaper (Calyptomena viridis), which is like a small cock-of-the-rock, but entirely of the most vivid green, delicately marked on the wings with black bars. Handsome woodpeckers and gay kingfishers, green and brown cuckoos with velvety red faces and green beaks, red-breasted doves and metallic honeysuckers, were brought in day after day, and kept me in a continual state of pleasurable excitement. After a fortnight one of my servants was seized with fever, and on returning to Malacca, the same disease, attacked the other as well as myself. By a liberal use of quinine, I soon recovered, and obtaining other men, went to stay at the Government bungalow of Ayer-panas, accompanied by a young gentleman, a native of the place, who had a taste for natural history.
At Ayer-panas we had a comfortable house to stay in, and plenty of room to dry and preserve our specimens; but, owing to there being no industrious Chinese to cut down timber, insects were comparatively scarce, with the exception of butterflies, of which I formed a very fine collection. The manner in which I obtained one fine insect was curious, and indicates bow fragmentary and imperfect a traveller's collection must necessarily be. I was one afternoon walking along a favourite road through the forest, with my gun, when I saw a butterfly on the ground. It was large, handsome, and quite new to me, and I got close to it before it flew away. I then observed that it had been settling on the dung of some carnivorous animal. Thinking it might return to the same spot, I next day after breakfast took my net, and as I approached the place was delighted to see the same butterfly sitting on the same piece of dung, and succeeded in capturing it. It was an entirely new species of great beauty, and has been named by Mr. Hewitson--Nymphalis calydona. I never saw another specimen of it, and it was only after twelve years had elapsed that a second individual reached this country from the northwestern part of Borneo.
Having determined to visit Mount Ophir, which is situated in the middle of the peninsula about fifty miles east of Malacca, we engaged six Malays to accompany us and carry our baggage. As we meant to stay at least a week at the mountain, we took with us a good supply of rice, a little biscuit, butter and coffee, some dried fish and a little brandy, with blankets, a change of clothes, insect and bird boxes, nets, guns and ammunition. The distance from Ayer-panas was supposed to be about thirty miles.
|RARE FERNS AT MOUNT OPHIR
Our first day's march lay through patches of forest, clearings, and Malay villages, and was pleasant enough. At night we slept at the house of a Malay chief, who lent us a verandah, and gave us a fowl and some eggs. The next day the country got wilder and more dilly. We passed through extensive forests, along paths often up to our knees in mud, and were much annoyed by the leeches for which this district is famous. These little creatures infest the leaves and herbage by the side of the paths, and when a passenger comes along they stretch themselves out at full length, and if they touch any part of his dress or body, quit their leaf and adhere to it. They then creep on to his feet, legs, or other part of his body and suck their fill, the first puncture being rarely felt during the excitement of walking. On bathing in the evening we generally found half a dozen or a dozen on each of us, most frequently on our legs, but sometimes on our bodies, and I had one who sucked his fill from the side of my neck, but who luckily missed the jugular vein. There are many species of these forest leeches. All are small, but some are beautifully marked with stripes of bright yellow. They probably attach themselves to deer or other animals which frequent the forest paths, and have thus acquired the singular habit of stretching themselves out at the sound of a footstep or of rustling foliage. Early in the afternoon we reached the foot of the mountain, and encamped by the side of a fine stream, whose rocky banks were overgrown with ferns. Our oldest Malay had been accustomed to shoot birds in this neighbourhood for the Malacca dealers, and had been to the top of the mountain, and while we amused ourselves shooting and insect hunting, he went with two others to clear the path for our ascent the next day.
Early next morning we started after breakfast, carrying blankets and provisions, as we intended to sleep upon the mountain. After passing a little tangled jungle and swampy thickets through which our men had cleared a path, we emerged into a fine lofty forest pretty clear of undergrowth, and in which we could walk freely. We ascended steadily up a moderate slope for several miles, having a deep ravine on our left. We then had a level plateau or shoulder to cross, after which the ascent was steeper and the forest denser until we came out upon the "Padang-batu," or stone field, a place of which we had heard much, but could never get anyone to describe intelligibly. We found it to be a steep slope of even rock, extending along the mountain side farther than we could see. Parts of it were quite bare, but where it was cracked and fissured there grew a most luxuriant vegetation, among which the pitcher plants were the most remarkable. These wonderful plants never seem to succeed well in our hot-houses, and are there seen to little advantage. Here they grew up into half climbing shrubs, their curious pitchers of various sizes and forms hanging abundantly from their leaves, and continually exciting our admiration by their size and beauty. A few coniferae of the genus Dacrydium here first appeared, and in the thickets just above the rocky surface we walked through groves of those splendid ferns Dipteris Horsfieldii and Matonia pectinata, which bear large spreading palmate fronds on slender stems six or eight feet high. The Matonia is the tallest and most elegant, and is known only from this mountain, and neither of them is yet introduced into our hot-houses.
It was very striking to come out from the dark, cool, and shady forest in which we had been ascending since we started, on to this hot, open rocky slope where we seemed to have entered at one step from a lowland to an alpine vegetation. The height, as measured by a sympiesometer, was about 2,800 feet. We had been told we should find water at Padang-batuas we were exceedingly thirsty; but we looked about for it in vain. At last we turned to the pitcher-plants, but the water contained in the pitchers (about half a pint in each) was full of insects, and otherwise uninviting. On tasting it, however, we found it very palatable though rather warm, and we all quenched our thirst from these natural jugs. Farther on we came to forest again, but of a more dwarf and stunted character than below; and alternately passing along ridges and descending into valleys, we reached a peak separated from the true summit of the mountain by a considerable chasm. Here our porters gave in, and declared they could carry their loads no further; and certainly the ascent to the highest peak was very precipitous. But on the spot where we were there was no water, whereas it was well known that there was a spring close to the summit, so we determined to go on without them, and carry with us only what was absolutely necessary. We accordingly took a blanket each, and divided our food and other articles among us, and went on with only the old Malay and his son.
After descending into the saddle between the two peaks we found the ascent very laborious, the slope being so steep, as often to necessitate hand-climbing. Besides a bushy vegetation the ground was covered knee-deep with mosses on a foundation of decaying leaves and rugged rock, and it was a hard hour's climb to the small ledge just below the summit, where an overhanging rock forms a convenient shelter, and a little basin collects the trickling water. Here we put down our loads, and in a few minutes more stood on the summit of Mount Ophir, 4,000 feet above the sea. The top is a small rocky platform covered with rhododendrons and other shrubs. The afternoon was clear, and the view fine in its way--ranges of hill and valley everywhere covered with interminable forest, with glistening rivers winding among them.
In a distant view a forest country is very monotonous, and no mountain I have ever ascended in the tropics presents a panorama equal to that from Snowdon, while the views in Switzerland are immeasurably superior. When boiling our coffee I took observations with a good boiling-point thermometer, as well as with the sympiesometer, and we then enjoyed our evening meal and the noble prospect that lay before us. The night was calm and very mild, and having made a bed of twigs and branches over which we laid our blankets, we passed a very comfortable night. Our porters had followed us after a rest, bringing only their rice to cook, and luckily we did not require the baggage they left behind them. In the morning I caught a few butterflies and beetles, and my friend got a few land-shells; and we then descended, bringing with us some specimens of the ferns and pitcher-plants of Padang- batu.
The place where we had first encamped at the foot of the mountain being very gloomy, we chose another in a kind of swamp near a stream overgrown with Zingiberaceous plants, in which a clearing was easily made. Here our men built two little huts without sides that would just shelter us from the rain; we lived in them for a week, shooting and insect-hunting, and roaming about the forests at the foot of the mountain. This was the country of the great Argus pheasant, and we continually heard its cry. On asking the old Malay to try and shoot one for me, he told me that although he had been for twenty years shooting birds in these forests he had never yet shot one, and had never even seen one except after it had been caught. The bird is so exceedingly shy and wary, and runs along the ground in the densest parts of the forest so quickly, that it is impossible to get near it; and its sober colours and rich eye-like spots, which are so ornamental when seen in a museum, must harmonize well with the dead leaves among which it dwells, and render it very inconspicuous. All the specimens sold in Malacca are caught in snares, and my informant, though he had shot none, had snared plenty.
The tiger and rhinoceros are still found here, and a few years ago elephants abounded, but they have lately all disappeared. We found some heaps of dung, which seemed to be that of elephants, and some tracks of the rhinoceros, but saw none of the animals. However, we kept a fire up all night in case any of these creatures should visit us, and two of our men declared that they did one day see a rhinoceros. When our rice was finished, and our boxes full of specimens, we returned to Ayer-Panas, and a few days afterwards went on to Malacca, and thence to Singapore. Mount Ophir has quite a reputation for fever, and all our friends were astonished at our recklessness in staying so long at its foot; but none of us suffered in the least, and I shall ever look back with pleasure to my trip as being my first introduction to mountain scenery in the Eastern tropics.
The meagreness and brevity of the sketch I have here given of my visit to Singapore and the Malay Peninsula is due to my having trusted chiefly to some private letters and a notebook, which were lost; and to a paper on Malacca and Mount Ophir which was sent to the Royal Geographical Society, but which was neither read nor printed owing to press of matter at the end of a session, and the MSS. of which cannot now be found. I the less regret this, however, as so many works have been written on these parts; and I always intended to pass lightly over my travels in the western and better known portions of the Archipelago, in order to devote more space to the remoter districts, about which hardly anything has been written in the English language.
BORNEO - THE ORANGUTAN
I ARRIVED at Sarawak on November 1st, 1854, and left it on January 25th, 1856. In the interval I resided at many different localities, and saw a good deal of the Dyak tribes as well as of the Bornean Malays. I was hospitably entertained by Sir James Brooke, and lived in his house whenever I was at the town of Sarawak in the intervals of my journeys. But so many books have been written about this part of Borneo since I was there, that I shall avoid going into details of what I saw and heard and thought of Sarawak and its ruler, confining myself chiefly to my experiences as a naturalist in search of shells, insects, birds and the Orangutan, and to an account of a journey through a part of the interior seldom visited by Europeans.
The first four months of my visit were spent in various parts of the Sarawak River, from Santubong at its mouth up to the picturesque limestone mountains and Chinese gold-fields of Bow and Bede. This part of the country has been so frequently described that I shall pass it over, especially as, owing to its being the height of the wet season, my collections were comparatively poor and insignificant.
In March 1865 I determined to go to the coalworks which were being opened near the Simunjon River, a small branch of the Sadong, a river east of Sarawak and between it and the Batang- Lupar. The Simunjon enters the Sadong River about twenty miles up. It is very narrow and very winding, and much overshadowed by the lofty forest, which sometimes almost meets over it. The whole country between it and the sea is a perfectly level forest- covered swamp, out of which rise a few isolated hills, at the foot of one of which the works are situated. From the landing- place to the hill a Dyak road had been formed, which consisted solely of tree-trunks laid end to end. Along these the barefooted natives walk and carry heavy burdens with the greatest ease, but to a booted European it is very slippery work, and when one's attention is constantly attracted by the various objects of interest around, a few tumbles into the bog are almost inevitable. During my first walk along this road I saw few insects or birds, but noticed some very handsome orchids in flower, of the genus Coelogyne, a group which I afterwards found to be very abundant, and characteristic of the district. On the slope of the hill near its foot a patch of forest had been cleared away, and several rule houses erected, in which were residing Mr. Coulson the engineer, and a number of Chinese workmen. I was at first kindly accommodated in Mr. Coulson's house, but finding the spot very suitable for me and offering great facilities for collecting, I had a small house of two rooms and a verandah built for myself. Here I remained nearly nine months, and made an immense collection of insects, to which class of animals I devoted my chief attention, owing to the circumstances being especially favourable.
In the tropics a large proportion of the insects of all orders, and especially of the large and favourite group of beetles, are more or less dependent on vegetation, and particularly on timber, bark, and leaves in various stages of decay. In the untouched virgin forest, the insects which frequent such situations are scattered over an immense extent of country, at spots where trees have fallen through decay and old age, or have succumbed to the fury of the tempest; and twenty square miles of country may not contain so many fallen and decayed trees as are to be found in any small clearing. The quantity and the variety of beetles and of many other insects that can be collected at a given time in any tropical locality, will depend, first upon the immediate vicinity of a great extent of virgin forest, and secondly upon the quantity of trees that for some months past have been, and which are still being cut down, and left to dry and decay upon the ground.
Now, during my whole twelve years' collecting in the western and eastern tropics, I never enjoyed such advantages in this respect as at the Simunjon coalworks. For several months from twenty to fifty Chinamen and Dyaks were employed almost exclusively in clearing a large space in the forest, and in making a wide opening for a railroad to the Sadong River, two miles distant. Besides this, sawpits were established at various points in the jungle, and large trees were felled to be cut up into beams and planks. For hundreds of miles in every direction a magnificent forest extended over plain and mountain, rock and morass, and I arrived at the spot just as the rains began to diminish and the daily sunshine to increase; a time which I have always found the most favourable season for collecting. The number of openings, sunny places, and pathways were also an attraction to wasps and butterflies; and by paying a cent each for all insects that were brought me, I obtained from the Dyaks and the Chinamen many fine locusts and Phasmidae, as well as numbers of handsome beetles.
When I arrived at the mines, on the 14th of March, I had collected in the four preceding months, 320 different kinds of beetles. In less than a fortnight I had doubled this number, an average of about 24 new species every day. On one day I collected 76 different kinds, of which 34 were new to me. By the end of April I had more than a thousand species, and they then went on increasing at a slower rate, so that I obtained altogether in Borneo about two thousand distinct kinds, of which all but about a hundred were collected at this place, and on scarcely more than a square mile of ground. The most numerous and most interesting groups of beetles were the Longicorns and Rhynchophora, both pre- eminently wood-feeders. The former, characterised by their graceful forms and long antenna, were especially numerous, amounting to nearly three hundred species, nine-tenths of which were entirely new, and many of them remarkable for their large size, strange forms, and beautiful colouring. The latter correspond to our weevils and allied groups, and in the tropics are exceedingly numerous and varied, often swarming upon dead timber, so that I sometimes obtained fifty or sixty different kinds in a day. My Bornean collections of this group exceeded five hundred species.
REMARKABLE BEETLES FOUND AT SIMUNJON, BORNEO
My collection of butterflies was not large; but I obtained some rare and very handsome insects, the most remarkable being the Ornithoptera Brookeana, one of the most elegant species known. This beautiful creature has very long and pointed wings, almost resembling a sphinx moth in shape. It is deep velvety black, with a curved band of spots of a brilliant metallic-green colour extending across the wings from tip to tip, each spot being shaped exactly like a small triangular feather, and having very much the effect of a row of the wing coverts of the Mexican trogon, laid upon black velvet. The only other marks are a broad neck-collar of vivid crimson, and a few delicate white touches on the outer margins of the hind wings. This species, which was then quite new and which I named after Sir James Brooke, was very rare. It was seen occasionally flying swiftly in the clearings, and now and then settling for an instant at puddles and muddy places, so that I only succeeded in capturing two or three specimens. In some other parts of the country I was assured it was abundant, and a good many specimens have been sent to England; but as yet all have been males, and we are quite unable to conjecture what the female may be like, owing to the extreme isolation of the species, and its want of close affinity to any other known insect. [footnote: Females have since been captured in some plenty. They resemble the male, but have more white and less brilliant colours.]|
One of the most curious and interesting reptiles which I met with in Borneo was a large tree-frog, which was brought me by one of the Chinese workmen. He assured me that he had seen it come down in a slanting direction from a high tree, as if it flew. On examining it, I found the toes very long and fully webbed to their very extremity, so that when expanded they offered a surface much larger than the body. The forelegs were also bordered by a membrane, and the body was capable of considerable inflation. The back and limbs were of a very deep shining green colour, the undersurface and the inner toes yellow, while the webs were black, rayed with yellow. The body was about four inches long, while the webs of each hind foot, when fully expanded, covered a surface of four square inches, and the webs of all the feet together about twelve square inches. As the extremities of the toes have dilated discs for adhesion, showing the creature to be a true tree frog, it is difficult to imagine that this immense membrane of the toes can be for the purpose of swimming only, and the account of the Chinaman, that it flew down from the tree, becomes more credible. This is, I believe, the first instance known of a "flying frog," and it is very interesting to Darwinians as showing that the variability of the toes which have been already modified for purposes of swimming and adhesive climbing, have been taken advantage of to enable an allied species to pass through the air like the flying lizard. It would appear to be a new species of the genus Rhacophorus, which consists of several frogs of a much smaller size than this, and having the webs of the toes less developed.
During my stay in Borneo I had no hunter to shoot for me regularly, and, being myself fully occupied with insects, I did not succeed in obtaining a very good collection of the birds or Mammalia, many of which, however, are well known, being identical with species found in Malacca. Among the Mammalia were five squirrels,and two tigercats--the Gymnurus Rafesii, which looks like a cross between a pig and a polecat, and the Cynogale Bennetti--a rare, otter-like animal, with very broad muzzle clothed with long bristles.
One of my chief objects in coming to stay at Simunjon was to see the Orangutan (or great man-like ape of Borneo) in his native haunts, to study his habits, and obtain good specimens of the different varieties and species of both sexes, and of the adult and young animals. In all these objects I succeeded beyond my expectations, and will now give some account of my experience in hunting the Orangutan, or "Mias," as it is called by the natives; and as this name is short, and easily pronounced, I shall generally use it in preference to Simia satyrus, or Orangutan.
Just a week after my arrival at the mines, I first saw a Mias. I was out collecting insects, not more than a quarter of a mile from the house, when I heard a rustling in a tree near, and, looking up, saw a large red-haired animal moving slowly along, hanging from the branches by its arms. It passed on from tree to tree until it was lost in the jungle, which was so swampy that I could not follow it. This mode of progression was, however, very unusual, and is more characteristic of the Hylobates than of the Orang. I suppose there was some individual peculiarity in this animal, or the nature of the trees just in this place rendered it the most easy mode of progression.
About a fortnight afterwards I heard that one was feeding in a tree in the swamp just below the house, and, taking my gun, was fortunate enough to find it in the same place. As soon as I approached, it tried to conceal itself among the foliage; but, I got a shot at it, and the second barrel caused it to fall down almost dead, the two balls having entered the body. This was a male, about half-grown, being scarcely three feet high. On April 26th, I was out shooting with two Dyaks, when we found another about the same size. It fell at the first shot, but did not seem much hurt, and immediately climbed up the nearest tree, when I fired, and it again fell, with a broken arm and a wound in the body. The two Dyaks now ran up to it, and each seized hold of a hand, telling me to cut a pole, and they would secure it. But although one arm was broken and it was only a half-grown animal, it was too strong for these young savages, drawing them up towards its mouth notwithstanding all their efforts, so that they were again obliged to leave go, or they would have been seriously bitten. It now began climbing up the tree again; and, to avoid trouble, I shot it through the heart.
On May 2nd, I again found one on a very high tree, when I had only a small 80-bore gun with me. However, I fired at it, and on seeing me it began howling in a strange voice like a cough, and seemed in a great rage, breaking off branches with its hands and throwing them down, and then soon made off over the tree-tops. I did not care to follow it, as it was swampy, and in parts dangerous, and I might easily have lost myself in the eagerness of pursuit.
On the 12th of May I found another, which behaved in a very similar manner, howling and hooting with rage, and throwing down branches. I shot at it five times, and it remained dead on the top of the tree, supported in a fork in such a manner that it would evidently not fall. I therefore returned home, and luckily found some Dyaks, who came back with me, and climbed up the tree for the animal. This was the first full-grown specimen I had obtained; but it was a female, and not nearly so large or remarkable as the full-grown males. It was, however, 3 ft. 6 in. high, and its arms stretched out to a width of 6 ft. 6 in. I preserved the skin of this specimen in a cask of arrack, andprepared a perfect skeleton, which was afterwards purchased for the Derby Museum.
Only four days afterwards some Dyaks saw another Mias near the same place, and came to tell me. We found it to be a rather large one, very high up on a tall tree. At the second shot it fell rolling over, but almost immediately got up again and began to climb. At a third shot it fell dead. This was also a full-grown female, and while preparing to carry it home, we found a young one face downwards in the bog. This little creature was only about a foot long, and had evidently been hanging to its mother when she first fell. Luckily it did not appear to have been wounded, and after we had cleaned the mud out of its mouth it began to cry out, and seemed quite strong and active. While carrying it home it got its hands in my beard, and grasped so tightly that I had great difficulty in getting free, for the fingers are habitually bent inwards at the last joint so as to form complete hooks. At this time it had not a single tooth, but a few days afterwards it cut its two lower front teeth. Unfortunately, I had no milk to give it, as neither Malays- Chinese nor Dyaks ever use the article, and I in vain inquired for any female animal that could suckle my little infant. I was therefore obliged to give it rice-water from a bottle with a quill in the cork, which after a few trials it learned to suck very well. This was very meagre diet, and the little creature did not thrive well on it, although I added sugar and cocoa-nut milk occasionally, to make it more nourishing. WhenI put my finger in its mouth it sucked with great vigour, drawing in its cheeks with all its might in the vain effort to extract some milk, and only after persevering a long time would it give up in disgust, and set up a scream very like that of a baby in similar circumstances.|
When handled or nursed, it was very quiet and contented, but when laid down by itself would invariably cry; and for the first few nights was very restless and noisy. I fitted up a little box for a cradle, with a soft mat for it to lie upon, which was changed and washed everyday; and I soon found it necessary to wash the little Mias as well. After I had done so a few times, it came to like the operation, and as soon as it was dirty would begin crying and not leave off until I took it out and carried it to the spout, when it immediately became quiet, although it would wince a little at the first rush of the cold water and make ridiculously wry faces while the stream was running over its head. It enjoyed the wiping and rubbing dry amazingly, and when I brushed its hair seemed to be perfectly happy, lying quite still with its arms and legs stretched out while I thoroughly brushed the long hair of its back and arms. For the first few days it clung desperately with all four hands to whatever it could lay hold of, and I had to be careful to keep my beard out of its way, as its fingers clutched hold of hair more tenaciously than anything else, and it was impossible to free myself without assistance. When restless, it would struggle about with its hands up in the air trying to find something to take hold of, and, when it had got a bit of stick or rag in two or three of its hands, seemed quite happy. For want of something else, it would often seize its own feet, and after a time it would constantly cross its arms and grasp with each hand the long hair that grew just below the opposite shoulder. The great tenacity of its grasp soon diminished, and I was obliged to invent some means to give it exercise and strengthen its limbs. For this purpose I made a short ladder of three or four rounds, on which I put it to hang for a quarter of an hour at a time. At first it seemed much pleased, but it could not get all four hands in a comfortable position, and, after changing about several times, would leave hold of one hand after the other, and drop onto the floor. Sometimes when hanging only by two hands, it would loose one, and cross it to the opposite shoulder, grasping its own hair; and, as this seemed much more agreeable than the stick, it would then loose the other and tumble down, when it would cross both and lie on its back quite contentedly, never seeming to be hurt by its numerous tumbles. Finding it so fond of hair, I endeavoured to make an artificial mother, by wrapping up a piece of buffalo-skin into a bundle, and suspending it about a foot from the floor. At first this seemed to suit it admirably, as it could sprawl its legs about and always find some hair, which it grasped with the greatest tenacity. I was now in hopes that I had made the little orphan quite happy; and so it seemed for some time, until it began to remember its lost parent, and try to suck. It would pull itself up close to the skin, and try about everywhere for a likely place; but, as it only succeeded in getting mouthfuls of hair and wool, it would be greatly disgusted, and scream violently, and, after two or three attempts, let go altogether. One day it got some wool into its throat, and I thought it would have choked, but after much gasping it recovered, and I was obliged to take the imitation mother to pieces again, and give up this last attempt to exercise the little creature.
After the first week I found I could feed it better with a spoon, and give it a little more varied and more solid food. Well-soaked biscuit mixed with a little egg and sugar, and sometimes sweet potatoes, were readily eaten; and it was a never-failing amusement to observe the curious changes of countenance by which it would express its approval or dislike of what was given to it. The poor little thing would lick its lips, draw in its cheeks, and turn up its eyes with an expression of the most supreme satisfaction when it had a mouthful particularly to its taste. On the other hand, when its food was not sufficiently sweet or palatable, it would turn the mouthful about with its tongue for a moment as if trying to extract what flavour there was, and then push it all out between its lips. If the same food was continued, it would set up a scream and kick about violently, exactly like a baby in a passion.
After I had had the little Mias about three weeks, I fortunately obtained a young hare-lip monkey (Macacus cynomolgus), which, though small, was very active, and could feed itself. I placed it in the same box with the Mias, and they immediately became excellent friends, neither exhibiting the least fear of the other. The little monkey would sit upon the other's stomach, or even on its face, without the least regard to its feelings. While I was feeding the Mias, the monkey would sit by, picking up all that was spilt, and occasionally putting out its hands to intercept the spoon; and as soon as I had finished would pick off what was left sticking to the Mias' lips, and then pull open its mouth and see if any still remained inside; afterwards lying down on the poor creature's stomach as on a comfortable cushion. The little helpless Mias would submit to all these insults with the most exemplary patience, only too glad to have something warm near it, which it could clasp affectionately in its arms. It sometimes, however, had its revenge; for when the monkey wanted to go away, the Mias would hold on as long as it could by the loose skin of its back or head, or by its tail, and it was only after many vigorous jumps that the monkey could make his escape.
It was curious to observe the different actions of these two animals, which could not have differed much in age. The Mias, like a very young baby, lying on its back quite helpless, rolling lazily from side to side, stretching out all four hands into the air, wishing to grasp something, but hardly able to guide its fingers to any definite object; and when dissatisfied, opening wide its almost toothless mouth, and expressing its wants by a most infantine scream. The little monkey, on the other hand, in constant motion, running and jumping about wherever it pleased, examining everything around it, seizing hold of the smallest object with the greatest precision, balancing itself on the edge of the box or running up a post, and helping itself to anything eatable that came in its way. There could hardly be a greater contrast, and the baby Mias looked more baby-like by the comparison.
When I had had it about a month, it began to exhibit some signs of learning to run alone. When laid upon the floor it would push itself along by its legs, or roll itself over, and thus make an unwieldy progression. When lying in the box it would lift itself up to the edge into almost an erect position, and once or twice succeeded in tumbling out. When left dirty, or hungry, or otherwise neglected, it would scream violently until attended to, varied by a kind of coughing or pumping noise very similar to that which is made by the adult animal. If no one was in the house, or its cries were not attended to, it would be quiet after a little while, but the moment it heard a footstep would begin again harder than ever.
After five weeks it cut its two upper front teeth, but in all this time it had not grown the least bit, remaining both in size and weight the same as when I first procured it. This was no doubt owing to the want of milk or other equally nourishing food. Rice-water, rice, and biscuits were but a poor substitute, and the expressed milk of the cocoa-nut which I sometimes gave it did not quite agree with its stomach. To this I imputed an attack of diarrhoea from which the poor little creature suffered greatly, but a small dose of castor-oil operated well, and cured it. A week or two afterwards it was again taken ill, and this time more seriously. The symptoms were exactly those of intermittent fever, accompanied by watery swellings on the feet and head. It lost all appetite for its food, and, after lingering for a week a most pitiable object, died, after being in my possession nearly three months. I much regretted the loss of my little pet, which I had at one time looked forward to bringing up to years of maturity, and taking home to England. For several months it had afforded me daily amusement by its curious ways and the inimitably ludicrous expression of its little countenance. Its weight was three pounds nine ounces, its height fourteen inches, and the spread of its arms twenty-three inches. I preserved its skin and skeleton, and in doing so found that when it fell from the tree it must have broken an arm and a leg, which had, however, united so rapidly that I had only noticed the hard swellings on the limbs where the irregular junction of the bones had taken place.
Exactly a week after I had caught this interesting little animal, I succeeded in shooting a full-grown male Orangutan. I had just come home from an entomologising excursion when Charles [footnote: Charles Allen, an English lad of sixteen, accompanied me as an assistant.] rushed in out of breath with running and excitement, and exclaimed, interrupted by gasps, "Get the gun, sir,--be quick,-- such a large Mias!" "Where is it?" I asked, taking hold of my gun as I spoke, which happened luckily to have one barrel loaded with ball. "Close by, sir--on the path to the mines--he can't get away." Two Dyaks chanced to be in the house at the time, so I called them to accompany me, and started off, telling Charley to bring all the ammunition after me as soon as possible. The path from our clearing to the mines led along the side of the hill a little way up its slope, and parallel with it at the foot a wide opening had been made for a road, in which several Chinamen were working, so that the animal could not escape into the swampy forest below without descending to cross the road or ascending to get round the clearings. We walked cautiously along, not making the least noise, and listening attentively for any sound which might betray the presence of the Mias, stopping at intervals to gaze upwards. Charley soon joined us at the place where he had seen the creature, and having taken the ammunition and put a bullet in the other barrel, we dispersed a little, feeling sure that it must be somewhere near, as it had probably descended the hill, and would not be likely to return again.
After a short time I heard a very slight rustling sound overhead, but on gazing up could see nothing. I moved about in every direction to get a full view into every part of the tree under which I had been standing, when I again heard the same noise but louder, and saw the leaves shaking as if caused by the motion of some heavy animal which moved off to an adjoining tree. I immediately shouted for all of them to come up and try and get a view, so as to allow me to have a shot. This was not an easy matter, as the Mias had a knack of selecting places with dense foliage beneath. Very soon, however, one of the Dyaks called me and pointed upwards, and on looking I saw a great red hairy body and a huge black face gazing down from a great height, as if wanting to know what was making such a disturbance below. I instantly fired, and he made off at once, so that I could not then tell whether I had hit him.
He now moved very rapidly and very noiselessly for so large an animal, so I told the Dyaks to follow and keep him in sight while I loaded. The jungle was here full of large angular fragments of rock from the mountain above, and thick with hanging and twisted creepers. Running, climbing, and creeping among these, we came up with the creature on the top of a high tree near the road, where the Chinamen had discovered him, and were shouting their astonishment with open mouths: "Ya Ya, Tuan; Orangutan, Tuan." Seeing that he could not pass here without descending, he turned up again towards the hill, and I got two shots, and following quickly, had two more by the time he had again reached the path, but he was always more or less concealed by foliage, and protected by the large branch on which he was walking. Once while loading I had a splendid view of him, moving along a large limb of a tree in a semi-erect posture, and showing it to be an animal of the largest size. At the path he got on to one of the loftiest trees in the forest, and we could see one leg hanging down useless, having been broken by a ball. He now fixed himself in a fork, where he was hidden by thick foliage, and seemed disinclined to move. I was afraid he would remain and die in this position, and as it was nearly evening. I could not have got the tree cut down that day. I therefore fired again, and he then moved off, and going up the hill was obliged to get on to some lower trees, on the branches of one of which he fixed himself in such a position that he could not fall, and lay all in a heap as if dead, or dying.
I now wanted the Dyaks to go up and cut off the branch he was resting on, but they were afraid, saying he was not dead, and would come and attack them. We then shook the adjoining tree, pulled the hanging creepers, and did all we could to disturb him, but without effect, so I thought it best to send for two Chinamen with axes to cut down the tree. While the messenger was gone, however, one of the Dyaks took courage and climbed towards him, but the Mias did not wait for him to get near, moving off to another tree, where he got on to a dense mass of branches and creepers which almost completely hid him from our view. The tree was luckily a small one, so when the axes came we soon had it cut through; but it was so held up by jungle ropes and climbers to adjoining trees that it only fell into a sloping position. The Mias did not move, and I began to fear that after all we should not get him, as it was near evening, and half a dozen more trees would have to be cut down before the one he was on would fall. As a last resource we all began pulling at the creepers, which shook the tree very much, and, after a few minutes, when we had almost given up all hope, down he came with a crash and a thud like the fall of a giant. And he was a giant, his head and body being fully as large as a man's. He was of the kind called by the Dyaks "Mias Chappan," or "Mias Pappan," which has the skin of the face broadened out to a ridge or fold at each side. His outstretched arms measured seven feet three inches across, and his height, measuring fairly from the top of the head to the heel was four feet two inches. The body just below the arms was three feet two inches round, and was quite as long as a man's, the legs being exceedingly short in proportion. On examination we found he had been dreadfully wounded. Both legs were broken, one hip-joint and the root of the spine completely shattered, and two bullets were found flattened in his neck and jaws. Yet he was still alive when he fell. The two Chinamen carried him home tied to a pole, and I was occupied with Charley the whole of the next day preparing the skin and boiling the bones to make a perfect skeleton, which are now preserved in the Museum at Derby.
About ten days after this, on June 4th, some Dyaks came to tell us that the day before a Mias had nearly killed one of their companions. A few miles down the river there is a Dyak house, and the inhabitants saw a large Orang feeding on the young shoots of a palm by the riverside. On being alarmed he retreated towards the jungle which was close by, and a number of the men, armed with spears and choppers, ran out to intercept him. The man who was in front tried to run his spear through the animal's body, but the Mias seized it in his hands, and in an instant got hold of the man's arm, which he seized in his mouth, making his teeth meet in the flesh above the elbow, which he tore and lacerated in a dreadful manner. Had not the others been close behind, the man would have keen more seriously injured, if not killed, as he was quite powerless; but they soon destroyed the creature with their spears and choppers. The man remained ill for a long time, and never fully recovered the use of his arm.
They told me the dead Mias was still lying where it had been killed, so I offered them a reward to bring it up to our landing- place immediately, which they promised to do. They did not come, however, until the next day, and then decomposition had commenced, and great patches of the hair came off, so that it was useless to skin it. This I regretted much, as it was a very fine full-grown male. I cut off the head and took it home to clean, while I got my men to make a closed fence about five feet high around the rest of the body, which would soon be devoured by maggots, small lizards, and ants, leaving me the skeleton. There was a great gash in his face, which had cut deep into the bone, but the skull was a very fine one, and the teeth were remarkably large and perfect.
On June 18th I had another great success, and obtained a fine adult male. A Chinaman told me be had seen him feeding by the side of the path to the river, and I found him at the same place as the first individual I had shot. He was feeding on an oval green fruit having a fine red arillus, like the mace which surrounds the nutmeg, and which alone he seemed to eat, biting off the thick outer rind and dropping it in a continual shower. I had found the same fruit in the stomach of some others which I had killed. Two shots caused this animal to loose his hold, but he hung for a considerable time by one hand, and then fell flat on his face and was half buried in the swamp. For several minutes he lay groaning and panting, while we stood close around, expecting every breath to be his last. Suddenly, however, by a violent effort he raised himself up, causing us all to step back a yard or two, when, standing nearly erect, he caught hold of a small tree, and began to ascend it. Another shot through the back caused him to fall down dead. A flattened bullet was found in his tongue, having entered the lower part of the abdomen and completely traversed the body, fracturing the first cervical vertebra. Yet it was after this fearful wound that he had risen, and begun climbing with considerable facility. This also was a full-grown male of almost exactly the same dimensions as the other two I had measured.
On June 21st I shot another adult female, which was eating fruit in a low tree, and was the only one which I ever killed by a single ball.
On June 24th I was called by a Chinaman to shoot a Mias, which, he said, was on a tree close by his house, at the coal-mines. Arriving at the place, we had some difficulty in finding the animal, as he had gone off into the jungle, which was very rocky and difficult to traverse. At last we found him up a very high tree, and could see that he was a male of the largest size. As soon as I had fired, he moved higher up the tree, and while he was doing so I fired again; and we then saw that one arm was broken. He had now reached the very highest part of an immense tree, and immediately began breaking off boughs all around, and laying them across and across to make a nest. It was very interesting to see how well he had chosen his place, and how rapidly he stretched out his unwounded arm in every direction, breaking off good-sized boughs with the greatest ease, and laying them back across each other, so that in a few minutes he had formed a compact mass of foliage, which entirely concealed him from our sight. He was evidently going to pass the night here, and would probably get away early the next morning, if not wounded too severely. I therefore fired again several times, in hopes of making him leave his nest; but, though I felt sure I had hit him, as at each shot he moved a little, he would not go away. At length he raised himself up, so that half his body was visible, and then gradually sank down, his head alone remaining on the edge of the nest. I now felt sure he was dead, and tried to persuade the Chinaman and his companion to cut down the tree; but it was a very large one, and they had been at work all day, and nothing would induce them to attempt it. The next morning, at daybreak, I came to the place, and found that the Mias was evidently dead, as his head was visible in exactly the same position as before. I now offered four Chinamen a day's wages each to cut the tree down at once, as a few hours of sunshine would cause decomposition on the surface of the skin; but, after looking at it and trying it, they determined that it was very big and very hard, and would not attempt it. Had I doubled my offer, they would probably have accepted it, as it would not have been more than two or three hours' work; and had I been on a short visit only, I would have done so; but as I was a resident, and intended remaining several months longer, it would not have answered to begin paying too exorbitantly, or I should have got nothing done in the future at a lower rate.
For some weeks after, a cloud of flies could be seen all day, hovering over the body of the dead Mias; but in about a month all was quiet, and the body was evidently drying up under the influence of a vertical sun alternating with tropical rains. Two or three months later two Malays, on the offer of a dollar, climbed the tree and let down the dried remains. The skin was almost entirely enclosing the skeleton, and inside were millions of the pupa-cases of flies and other insects, with thousands of two or three species of small necrophagous beetles. The skull had been much shattered by balls, but the skeleton was perfect, except one small wristbone, which had probably dropped out and been carried away by a lizard.
Three days after I had shot this one and lost it, Charles found three small Orangs feeding together. We had a long chase after them, and had a good opportunity of seeing how they make their way from tree to tree by always choosing those limbs whose branches are intermingled with those of some other tree, and then grasping several of the small twigs together before they venture to swing themselves across. Yet they do this so quickly and certainly, that they make way among the trees at the rate of full five or six miles an hour, as we had continually to run to keep up with them. One of these we shot and killed, but it remained high up in the fork of a tree; and, as young animals are of comparatively little interest, I did not have the tree cut down to get it.
At this time I had the misfortune to slip among some fallen trees, and hurt my ankle; and, not being careful enough at first, it became a severe inflamed ulcer, which would not heal, and kept me a prisoner in the house the whole of July and part of August. When I could get out again, I determined to take a trip up a branch of the Simunjon River to Semabang, where there was said to be a large Dyak house, a mountain with abundance of fruit, and plenty of Orangs and fine birds. As the river was very narrow, and I was obliged to go in a very small boat with little luggage, I only took with me a Chinese boy as a servant. I carried a cask of medicated arrack to put Mias skins in, and stores and ammunition for a fortnight. After a few miles, the stream became very narrow and winding, and the whole country on each side was flooded. On the banks were an abundance of monkeys--the common Macacus cynomolgus, a black Semnopithecus, and the extraordinary long-nosed monkey (Nasalis larvatus), which is as large as a three-year old child, has a very long tail, and a fleshy nose longer than that of the biggest-nosed man. The further we went on the narrower and more winding the stream became; fallen trees sometimes blocked up our passage, and sometimes tangled branches and creepers met completely across it, and had to be cut away before we could get on. It took us two days to reach Semabang, and we hardly saw a bit of dry land all the way. In the latter part of the journey I could touch the bushes on each side for miles; and we were often delayed by the screw-pines (Pandanus), which grow abundantly in the water, falling across the stream. In other places dense rafts of floating grass completely filled up the channel, making our journey a constant succession of difficulties.
Near the landing-place we found a fine house, 250 feet long, raised high above the ground on posts, with a wide verandah and still wider platform of bamboo in front of it. Almost all the people, however, were away on some excursion after edible birds'- nests or bees'-wax, and there only remained in the house two or three old men and women with a lot of children. The mountain or hill was close by, covered with a complete forest of fruit-trees, among which the Durian and Mangusteen were very abundant; but the fruit was not yet quite ripe, except a little here and there. I spent a week at this place, going out everyday in various directions about the mountain, accompanied by a Malay, who had stayed with me while the other boatmen returned. For three days we found no Orangs, but shot a deer and several monkeys. On the fourth day, however, we found a Mias feeding on a very lofty Durian tree, and succeeded in killing it, after eight shots. Unfortunately it remained in the tree, hanging by its hands, and we were obliged to leave it and return home, as it was several miles off. As I felt pretty sure it would fall during the night, I returned to the place early the next morning, and found it on the ground beneath the tree. To my astonishment and pleasure, it appeared to be a different kind from any I had yet seen; for although a full-grown male, by its fully developed teeth and very large canines, it had no sign of the lateral protuberance on the face, and was about one-tenth smaller in all its dimensions than the other adult males. The upper incisors, however, appeared to be broader than in the larger species, a character distinguishing the Simia morio of Professor Owen, which he had described from the cranium of a female specimen. As it was too far to carry the animal home, I set to work and skinned the body on the spot, leaving the head, hands, and feet attached, to be finished at home. This specimen is now in the British Museum.
At the end of a week, finding no more Orangs, I returned home; and, taking in a few fresh stores, and this time accompanied by Charles, went up another branch of the river, very similar in character, to a place called Menyille, where there were several small Dyak houses and one large one. Here the landing place was a bridge of rickety poles, over a considerable distance of water; and I thought it safer to leave my cask of arrack securely placed in the fork of a tree. To prevent the natives from drinking it, I let several of them see me put in a number of snakes and lizards; but I rather think this did not prevent them from tasting it. We were accommodated here in the verandah of the large house, in which were several great baskets of dried human heads, the trophies of past generations of head-hunters. Here also there was a little mountain covered with fruit-trees, and there were some magnificent Durian trees close by the house, the fruit of which was ripe; and as the Dyaks looked upon me as a benefactor in killing the Mias, which destroys a great deal of their fruit, they let us eat as much as we liked; we revelled in this emperor of fruits in its greatest perfection.
The very day after my arrival in this place, I was so fortunate as to shoot another adult male of the small Orang, the Mias- kassir of the Dyaks. It fell when dead, but caught in a fork of the tree and remained fixed. As I was very anxious to get it, I tried to persuade two young Dyaks who were with me to cut down the tree, which was tall, perfectly straight and smooth-barked, and without a branch for fifty or sixty feet. To my surprise, they said they would prefer climbing up it, but it would be a good deal of trouble, and, after a little talking together, they said they would try. They first went to a clump of bamboo that stood near, and cut down one of the largest stems. From this they chopped off a short piece, and splitting it, made a couple of stout pegs, about a foot long and sharp at one end. Then cutting a thick piece of wood for a mallet, they drove one of the pegs into the tree and hung their weight upon it. It held, and this seemed to satisfy them, for they immediately began making a quantity of pegs of the same kind, while I looked on with great interest, wondering how they could possibly ascend such a lofty tree by merely driving pegs in it, the failure of any one of which at a good height would certainly cause their death. When about two dozen pegs were made, one of them began cutting some very long and slender bamboo from another clump, and also prepared some cord from the hark of a small tree. They now drove in a peg very firmly at about three feet from the ground, and bringing one of the long bamboos, stood it upright close to the tree, and bound it firmly to the two first pegs, by means of the bark cord and small notches near the head of each peg. One of the Dyaks now stood on the first peg and drove in a third, about level with his face, to which he tied the bamboo in the same way, and then mounted another step, standing on one foot, and holding by the bamboo at the peg immediately above him, while he drove in the next one. In this manner he ascended about twenty feet; when the upright bamboo was becoming thin, another was handed up by his companion, and this was joined by tying both bamboos to three or four of the pegs. When this was also nearly ended, a third was added, and shortly after, the lowest branches of the tree were reached, along which the young Dyak scrambled, and soon sent the Mias tumbling down headlong. I was exceedingly struck by the ingenuity of this mode of climbing, and the admirable manner in which the peculiar properties of the bamboo were made available. The ladder itself was perfectly safe, since if any one peg were loose or faulty, and gave way, the strain would be thrown on several others above and below it. I now understood the use of the line of bamboo pegs sticking in trees, which I had often seen, and wondered for what purpose they could have been put there. This animal was almost identical in size and appearance with the one I had obtained at Semabang, and was the only other male specimen of the Simia morio which I obtained. It is now in the Derby Museum.
I afterwards shot two adult females and two young ones of different ages, all of which I preserved. One of the females, with several young ones, was feeding on a Durian tree with unripe fruit; and as soon as she saw us she began breaking off branches and the great spiny fruits with every appearance of rage, causing such a shower of missiles as effectually kept us from approaching too near the tree. This habit of throwing down branches when irritated has been doubted, but I have, as here narrated, observed it myself on at least three separate occasions. It was however always the female Arias who behaved in this way, and it may be that the male, trusting more to his great strength and his powerful canine teeth, is not afraid of any other animal, and does not want to drive them away, while the parental instinct of the female leads her to adopt this mode of defending herself and her young ones.
In preparing the skins and skeletons of these animals, I was much troubled by the Dyak dogs, which, being always kept in a state of semi-starvation, are ravenous for animal food. I had a great iron pan, in which I boiled the bones to make skeletons, and at night I covered this over with boards, and put heavy stones upon it; but the dogs managed to remove these and carried away the greater part of one of my specimens. On another occasion they gnawed away a good deal of the upper leather of my strong boots, and even ate a piece of my mosquito-curtain, where some lamp-oil had been spilt over it some weeks before.
On our return down the stream, we had the fortune to fall in with a very old male Mias, feeding on some low trees growing in the water. The country was flooded for a long distance, but so full of trees and stumps that the laden boat could not be got in among them, and if it could have been we should only have frightened the Mias away. I therefore got into the water, which was nearly up to my waist, and waded on until I was near enough for a shot. The difficulty then was to load my gun again, for I was so deep in the water that I could not hold the gun sloping enough to pour the powder in. I therefore had to search for a shallow place, and after several shots under these trying circumstances, I was delighted to see the monstrous animal roll over into the water. I now towed him after me to the stream, but the Malays objected to having the animal put into the boat, and he was so heavy that I could not do it without their help. I looked about for a place to skin him, but not a bit of dry ground was to be seen, until at last I found a clump of two or three old trees and stumps, between which a few feet of soil had collected just above the water, which was just large enough for us to drag the animal upon it. I first measured him, and found him to be by far the largest I had yet seen, for, though the standing height was the same as the others (4 feet 2 inches), the outstretched arms were 7 feet 9 inches, which was six inches more than the previous one, and the immense broad face was 13 1/2 inches wide, whereas the widest I had hitherto seen was only 11 1/2 inches. The girth of the body was 3 feet 7 1/2 inches. I am inclined to believe, therefore, that the length and strength of the arms, and the width of the face continues increasing to a very great age, while the standing height, from the sole of the foot to the crown of the head, rarely if ever exceeds 4 feet 2 inches.
As this was the last Mias I shot, and the last time I saw an adult living animal, I will give a sketch of its general habits, and any other facts connected with it. The Orangutan is known to inhabit Sumatra and Borneo, and there is every reason to believe that it is confined to these two great islands, in the former of which, however, it seems to be much more rare. In Borneo it has a wide range, inhabiting many districts on the southwest, southeast, northeast, and northwest coasts, but appears to be chiefly confined to the low and swampy forests. It seems, at first sight, very inexplicable that the Mias should be quite unknown in the Sarawak valley, while it is abundant in Sambas, on the west, and Sadong, on the east. But when we know the habits and mode of life of the animal, we see a sufficient reason for this apparent anomaly in the physical features of the Sarawak district. In the Sadong, where I observed it, the Mias is only found when the country is low level and swampy, and at the same time covered with a lofty virgin forest. From these swamps rise many isolated mountains, on some of which the Dyaks have settled and covered with plantations of fruit trees. These are a great attraction to the Mias, which comes to feed on the unripe fruits, but always retires to the swamp at night. Where the country becomes slightly elevated, and the soil dry, the Mias is no longer to be found. For example, in all the lower part of the Sadong valley it abounds, but as soon as we ascend above the limits of the tides, where the country, though still flat, is high enough to be dry, it disappears. Now the Sarawak valley has this peculiarity--the lower portion though swampy, is not covered with a continuous lofty forest, but is principally occupied by the Nipa palm; and near the town of Sarawak where the country becomes dry, it is greatly undulated in many parts, and covered with small patches of virgin forest, and much second- growth jungle on the ground, which has once been cultivated by the Malays or Dyaks.
Now it seems probable to me that a wide extent of unbroken and equally lofty virgin forest is necessary to the comfortable existence of these animals. Such forests form their open country, where they can roam in every direction with as much facility as the Indian on the prairie, or the Arab on the desert, passing from tree-top to tree-top without ever being obliged to descend upon the earth. The elevated and the drier districts are more frequented by man, more cut up by clearings and low second-growth jungle--not adapted to its peculiar mode of progression, and where it would therefore be more exposed to danger, and more frequently obliged to descend upon the earth. There is probably also a greater variety of fruit in the Mias district, the small mountains which rise like islands out of it serving as gardens or plantations of a sort, where the trees of the uplands are to be found in the very midst of the swampy plains.
It is a singular and very interesting sight to watch a Mias making his way leisurely through the forest. He walks deliberately along some of the larger branches in the semi-erect attitude which the great length of his arms and the shortness of his legs cause him naturally to assume; and the disproportion between these limbs is increased by his walking on his knuckles, not on the palm of the hand, as we should do. He seems always to choose those branches which intermingle with an adjoining tree, on approaching which he stretches out his long arms, and seizing the opposing boughs, grasps them together with both hands, seems to try their strength, and then deliberately swings himself across to the next branch, on which he walks along as before. He never jumps or springs, or even appears to hurry himself, and yet manages to get along almost as quickly as a person can run through the forest beneath. The long and powerful arms are of the greatest use to the animal, enabling it to climb easily up the loftiest trees, to seize fruits and young leaves from slender boughs which will not bear its weight, and to gather leaves and branches with which to form its nest. I have already described how it forms a nest when wounded, but it uses a similar one to sleep on almost every night. This is placed low down, however, on a small tree not more than from twenty to fifty feet from the ground, probably because it is warmer and less exposed to wind than higher up. Each Mias is said to make a fresh one for himself every night; but I should think that is hardly probable, or their remains would be much more abundant; for though I saw several about the coal-mines, there must have been many Orangs about every day, and in a year their deserted nests would become very numerous. The Dyaks say that, when it is very wet, the Mias covers himself over with leaves of pandanus, or large ferns, which has perhaps led to the story of his making a hut in the trees.
The Orang does not leave his bed until the sun has well risen and has dried up the dew upon the leaves. He feeds all through the middle of the day, but seldom returns to the same tree two days running. They do not seem much alarmed at man, as they often stared down upon me for several minutes, and then only moved away slowly to an adjacent tree. After seeing one, I have often had to go half a mile or more to fetch my gun, and in nearly every case have found it on the same tree, or within a hundred yards, when I returned. I never saw two full-grown animals together, but both males and females are sometimes accompanied by half-grown young ones, while, at other times, three or four young ones were seen in company. Their food consists almost exclusively of fruit, with occasionally leaves, buds, and young shoots. They seem to prefer unripe fruits, some of which were very sour, others intensely bitter, particularly the large red, fleshy arillus of one which seemed an especial favourite. In other cases they eat only the small seed of a large fruit, and they almost always waste and destroy more than they eat, so that there is a continual rain of rejected portions below the tree they are feeding on. The Durian is an especial favourite, and quantities of this delicious fruit are destroyed wherever it grows surrounded by forest, but they will not cross clearings to get at them. It seems wonderful how the animal can tear open this fruit, the outer covering of which is so thick and tough, and closely covered with strong conical spines. It probably bites off a few of these first, and then, making a small hole, tears open the fruit with its powerful fingers.
The Mias rarely descends to the ground, except when pressed by hunger, it seeks succulent shoots by the riverside; or, in very dry weather, has to search after water, of which it generally finds sufficient in the hollows of leaves. Only once I saw two half-grown Orangs on the ground in a dry hollow at the foot of the Simunjon hill. They were playing together, standing erect, and grasping each other by the arms. It may be safely stated, however, that the Orang never walks erect, unless when using its hands to support itself by branches overhead or when attacked. Representations of its walking with a stick are entirely imaginary.
The Dyaks all declare that the Mias is never attacked by any animal in the forest, with two rare exceptions; and the accounts I received of these are so curious that I give them nearly in the words of my informants, old Dyak chiefs, who had lived all their lives in the places where the animal is most abundant. The first of whom I inquired said: "No animal is strong enough to hurt the Mias, and the only creature he ever fights with is the crocodile. When there is no fruit in the jungle, he goes to seek food on the banks of the river where there are plenty of young shoots that he likes, and fruits that grow close to the water. Then the crocodile sometimes tries to seize him, but the Mias gets upon him, and beats him with his hands and feet, and tears him and kills him." He added that he had once seen such a fight, and that he believes that the Mias is always the victor.
My next informant was the Orang Kaya, or chief of the Balow Dyaks, on the Simunjon River. He said: "The Mias has no enemies; no animals dare attack it but the crocodile and the python. He always kills the crocodile by main strength, standing upon it, pulling open its jaws, and ripping up its throat. If a python attacks a Mias, he seizes it with his hands, and then bites it, and soon kills it. The Mias is very strong; there is no animal in the jungle so strong as he."
It is very remarkable that an animal so large, so peculiar, and of such a high type of form as the Orangutan, should be confined to so limited a district--to two islands, and those almost the last inhabited by the higher Mammalia; for, east of Borneo and Java, the Quadrumania, Ruminants, Carnivora, and many other groups of Mammalla diminish rapidly, and soon entirely disappear. When we consider, further, that almost all other animals have in earlier ages been represented by allied yet distinct forms-- that, in the latter part of the tertiary period, Europe was inhabited by bears, deer, wolves, and cats; Australia by kangaroos and other marsupials; South America by gigantic sloths and ant-eaters; all different from any now existing, though intimately allied to them--we have every reason to believe that the Orangutan, the Chimpanzee, and the Gorilla have also had their forerunners. With what interest must every naturalist look forward to the time when the caves and tertiary deposits of the tropics may be thoroughly examined, and the past history and earliest appearance of the great man-like apes be made known at length.
I will now say a few words as to the supposed existence of a Bornean Orang as large as the Gorilla. I have myself examined the bodies of seventeen freshly-killed Orangs, all of which were carefully measured; and of seven of them, I preserved the skeleton. I also obtained two skeletons killed by other persons. Of this extensive series, sixteen were fully adult, nine being males, and seven females. The adult males of the large Orangs only varied from 4 feet 1 inch to 4 feet 2 inches in height, measured fairly to the heel, so as to give the height of the animal if it stood perfectly erect; the extent of the outstretched arms, from 7 feet 2 inches to 7 feet 8 inches; and the width of the face, from 10 inches to 13 1/2 inches. The dimensions given by other naturalists closely agree with mine. The largest Orang measured by Temminck was 4 feet high. Of twenty-five specimens collected by Schlegel and Muller, the largest old male was 4 feet 1 inch; and the largest skeleton in the Calcutta Museum was, according to Mr. Blyth, 4 feet 1 1/2 inch. My specimens were all from the northwest coast of Borneo; those of the Dutch from the west and south coasts; and no specimen has yet reached Europe exceeding these dimensions, although the total number of skins and skeletons must amount to over a hundred.
Strange to say, however, several persons declare that they have measured Orangs of a much larger size. Temminck, in his Monograph of the Orang, says that he has just received news of the capture of a specimen 5 feet 3 inches high. Unfortunately, it never seems to have a reached Holland, for nothing has since been heard of any such animal. Mr. St. John, in his "Life in the Forests of the Far East," vol. ii. p. 237, tells us of an Orang shot by a friend of his, which was 5 feet 2 inches from the heel to the top of the head, the arm 17 inches in girth, and the wrist 12 inches! The head alone was brought to Sarawak, and Mr. St. John tells us that he assisted to measure this, and that it was 15 inches broad by 14 long. Unfortunately, even this skull appears not to have been preserved, for no specimen corresponding to these dimensions has yet reached England.
In a letter from Sir James Brooke, dated October 1857 in which he acknowledges the receipt of my Papers on the Orang, published in the "Annals and Magazine of Natural History," he sends me the measurements of a specimen killed by his nephew, which I will give exactly as I received it: "September 3rd, 1867, killed female Orangutan. Height, from head to heel, 4 feet 6 inches. Stretch from fingers to fingers across body, 6 feet 1 inch. Breadth of face, including callosities, 11 inches." Now, in these dimensions, there is palpably one error; for in every Orang yet measured by any naturalist, an expanse of arms of 6 feet 1 inch corresponds to a height of about 3 feet 6 inches, while the largest specimens of 4 feet to 4 feet 2 inches high, always have the extended arms as much as 7 feet 3 inches to 7 feet 8 inches. It is, in fact, one of the characters of the genus to have the arms so long that an animal standing nearly erect can rest its fingers on the ground. A height of 4 feet 6 inches would therefore require a stretch of arms of at least 8 feet! If it were only 6 feet to that height, as given in the dimensions quoted, the animal would not be an Orang at all, but a new genus of apes, differing materially in habits and mode of progression. But Mr. Johnson, who shot this animal, and who knows Orangs well, evidently considered it to be one; and we have therefore to judge whether it is more probable that he made a mistake of two feet in the stretch of the arms, or of one foot in the height. The latter error is certainly the easiest to make, and it will bring his animal into agreement, as to proportions and size, with all those which exist in Europe. How easy it is to be deceived as to the height of these animals is well shown in the case of the Sumatran Orang, the skin of which was described by Dr. Clarke Abel. The captain and crew who killed this animal declared that when alive he exceeded the tallest man, and looked so gigantic that they thought he was 7 feet high; but that, when he was killed and lay upon the ground, they found he was only about 6 feet. Now it will hardly be credited that the skin of this identical animal exists in the Calcutta Museum, and Mr. Blyth, the late curator, states "that it is by no means one of the largest size"; which means that it is about 4 feet high!
Having these undoubted examples of error in the dimensions of Orangs, it is not too much to conclude that Mr. St. John's friend made a similar error of measurement, or rather, perhaps, of memory; for we are not told that the dimensions were noted down at the time they were made. The only figures given by Mr. St. John on his own authority are that "the head was 15 inches broad by 14 inches long." As my largest male was 13 1/2 broad across the face, measured as soon as the animal was killed, I can quite understand that when the head arrived at Sarawak from the Batang Lupar, after two or three days' voyage, it was so swollen by decomposition as to measure an inch more than when it was fresh. On the whole, therefore, I think it will be allowed, that up to this time we have not the least reliable evidence of the existence of Orangs in Borneo more than 4 feet 2 inches high.
BORNEO - JOURNEY INTO THE INTERIOR
(NOVEMBER 1855 TO JANUARY 1856)
As the wet season was approaching, I determined to return to Sarawak, sending all my collections with Charles Allen around by sea, while I myself proposed to go up to the sources of the Sadong River and descend by the Sarawak valley. As the route was somewhat difficult, I took the smallest quantity of baggage, and only one servant, a Malay lad named Bujon, who knew the language of the Sadong Dyaks, with whom he had traded. We left the mines on the 27th of November, and the next day reached the Malay village of Gúdong, where I stayed a short time to buy fruit and eggs, and called upon the Datu Bandar, or Malay governor of the place. He lived in a large, arid well-built house, very dirty outside and in, and was very inquisitive about my business, and particularly about the coal-mines. These puzzle the natives exceedingly, as they cannot understand the extensive and costly preparations for working coal, and cannot believe it is to be used only as fuel when wood is so abundant and so easily obtained. It was evident that Europeans seldom came here, for numbers of women skeltered away as I walked through the village and one girl about ten or twelve years old, who had just brought a bamboo full of water from the river, threw it down with a cry of horror and alarm the moment she caught sight of me, turned around and jumped into the stream. She swam beautifully, and kept looking back as if expecting I would follow her, screaming violently all the time; while a number of men and boys were laughing at her ignorant terror.
At Jahi, the next village, the stream became so swift in consequence of a flood, that my heavy boat could make no way, and I was obliged to send it back and go on in a very small open one. So far the river had been very monotonous, the banks being cultivated as rice-fields, and little thatched huts alone breaking the unpicturesque line of muddy bank crowned with tall grasses, and backed by the top of the forest behind the cultivated ground. A few hours beyond Jahi we passed the limits of cultivation, and had the beautiful virgin forest coming down to the water's edge, with its palms and creepers, its noble trees, its ferns, and epiphytes. The banks of the river were, however, still generally flooded, and we had some difficulty in finding a dry spot to sleep on. Early in the morning we reached Empugnan, a small Malay village, situated at the foot of an isolated mountain which had been visible from the mouth of the Simunjon River. Beyond here the tides are not felt, and we now entered upon a district of elevated forest, with a finer vegetation. Large trees stretch out their arms across the stream, and the steep, earthy banks are clothed with ferns and zingiberaceous plants.
Early in the afternoon we arrived at Tabókan, the first village of the Hill Dyaks. On an open space near the river, about twenty boys were playing at a game something like what we call "prisoner's base;" their ornaments of beads and brass wire and their gay-coloured kerchiefs and waist-cloths showing to much advantage, and forming a very pleasing sight. On being called by Bujon, they immediately left their game to carry my things up to the "headhouse,"--a circular building attached to most Dyak villages, and serving as a lodging for strangers, the place for trade, the sleeping-room of the unmarried youths, and the general council-chamber. It is elevated on lofty posts, has a large fireplace in the middle and windows in the roof all round, and forms a very pleasant and comfortable abode. In the evening it was crowded with young men and boys, who came to look at me. They were mostly fine young fellows, and I could not help admiring the simplicity and elegance of their costume. Their only dress is the long "chawat," or waist-cloth, which hangs down before and behind. It is generally of blue cotton, ending in three broad bands of red, blue, and white. Those who can afford it wear a handkerchief on the head, which is either red, with a narrow border of gold lace, or of three colours, like the "chawat." The large flat moon-shaped brass earrings, the heavy necklace of white or black beads, rows of brass rings on the arms and legs, and armlets of white shell, all serve to relieve and set off the pure reddish brown skin and jet-black hair. Add to this the little pouch containing materials for betel-chewing, and a long slender knife, both invariably worn at the side, and you have the everyday dress of the young Dyak gentleman.
|PORTRAIT OF DYAK YOUTH
The "Orang Kaya," or rich man, as the chief of the tribe is called, now came in with several of the older men; and the "bitchara" or talk commenced, about getting a boat and men to take me on the next morning. As I could not understand a word of their language, which is very different from Malay, I took no part in the proceedings, but was represented by my boy Bujon, who translated to me most of what was said. A Chinese trader was in the house, and he, too, wanted men the next day; but on his hinting this to the Orang Kaya, he was sternly told that a white man's business was now being discussed, and he must wait another day before his could be thought about.
After the "bitchara "was over and the old chiefs gone, I asked the young men to play or dance, or amuse themselves in their accustomed way; and after some little hesitation they agreed to do so. They first had a trial of strength, two boys sitting opposite each other, foot being placed against foot, and a stout stick grasped by both their hands. Each then tried to throw himself back, so as to raise his adversary up from the ground, either by main strength or by a sudden effort. Then one of the men would try his strength against two or three of the boys; and afterwards they each grasped their own ankle with a hand, and while one stood as firm as he could, the other swung himself around on one leg, so as to strike the other's free leg, and try to overthrow him. When these games had been played all around with varying success, we had a novel kind of concert. Some placed a leg across the knee, and struck the fingers sharply on the ankle, others beat their arms against their sides like a cock when he is going to crow, this making a great variety of clapping sounds, while another with his hand under his armpit produced a deep trumpet note; and, as they all kept time very well, the effect was by no means unpleasing. This seemed quite a favourite amusement with them, and they kept it up with much spirit.
The next morning we started in a boat about thirty feet long, and only twenty-eight inches wide. The stream here suddenly changes its character. Hitherto, though swift, it had been deep and smooth, and confined by steep banks. Now it rushed and rippled over a pebbly, sandy, or rocky bed, occasionally forming miniature cascades and rapids, and throwing up on one side or the other broad banks of finely coloured pebbles. No paddling could make way here, but the Dyaks with bamboo poles propelled us along with great dexterity and swiftness, never losing their balance in such a narrow and unsteady vessel, though standing up and exerting all their force. It was a brilliant day, and the cheerful exertions of the men, the rushing of the sparkling waters, with the bright and varied foliage, which from either bank stretched over our heads, produced an exhilarating sensation which recalled my canoe voyages on the grander waters of South America.
Early in the afternoon we reached the village of Borotói, and, though it would have been easy to reach the next one before night, I was obliged to stay, as my men wanted to return and others could not possibly go on with me without the preliminary talking. Besides, a white man was too great a rarity to be allowed to escape them, and their wives would never have forgiven them if, when they returned from the fields, they found that such a curiosity had not been kept for them to see. On entering the house to which I was invited, a crowd of sixty or seventy men, women, and children gathered around me, and I sat for half an hour like some strange animal submitted for the first time to the gaze of an inquiring public. Brass rings were here in the greatest profusion, many of the women having their arms completely covered with them, as well as their legs from the ankle to the knee. Round the waist they wear a dozen or more coils of fine rattan stained red, to which the petticoat is attached. Below this are generally a number of coils of brass wire, a girdle of small silver coins, and sometimes a broad belt of brass ring armour. On their heads they wear a conical hat without a crown, formed of variously coloured beads, kept in shape by rings of rattan, and forming a fantastic but not unpicturesque headdress.
Walking out to a small hill near the village, cultivated as a rice-field, I had a fine view of the country, which was becoming quite hilly, and towards the south, mountainous. I took bearings and sketches of all that was visible, an operation which caused much astonishment to the Dyaks who accompanied me, and produced a request to exhibit the compass when I returned. I was then surrounded by a larger crowd than before, and when I took my evening meal in the midst of a circle of about a hundred spectators anxiously observing every movement and criticising every mouthful, my thoughts involuntarily recurred to the lion at feeding time. Like those noble animals, I too was used to it, and it did not affect my appetite. The children here were more shy than at Tabokan, and I could not persuade them to play. I therefore turned showman myself, and exhibited the shadow of a dog's head eating, which pleased them so much that all the village in succession came out to see it. The "rabbit on the wall" does not do in Borneo, as there is no animal it resembles. The boys had tops shaped something like whipping-tops, but spun with a string.
The next morning we proceeded as before, but the river had become so rapid and shallow and the boats were all so small, that though I had nothing with me but a change of clothes, a gun, and a few cooking utensils, two were required to take me on. The rock which appeared here and there on the riverbank was an indurated clay-slate, sometimes crystalline, and thrown up almost vertically. Right and left of us rose isolated limestone mountains, their white precipices glistening in the sun and contrasting beautifully with the luxuriant vegetation that elsewhere clothed them. The river bed was a mass of pebbles, mostly pure white quartz, but with abundance of jasper and agate, presenting a beautifully variegated appearance. It was only ten in the morning when we arrived at Budu, and, though there were plenty of people about, I could not induce them to allow me to go on to the next village. The Orang Kaya said that if I insisted on having men, of course he would get them, but when I took him at his word and said I must have them, there came a fresh remonstrance; and the idea of my going on that day seemed so painful that I was obliged to submit. I therefore walked out over the rice-fields, which are here very extensive, covering a number of the little hills and valleys into which the whole country seems broken up, and obtained a fine view of hills and mountains in every direction.
In the evening the Orang Kaya came in full dress (a spangled velvet jacket, but no trowsers), and invited me over to his house, where he gave me a seat of honour under a canopy of white calico and coloured handkerchiefs. The great verandah was crowded with people, and large plates of rice with cooked and fresh eggs were placed on the ground as presents for me. A very old man then dressed himself in bright-coloured cloths and many ornaments, and sitting at the door, murmured a long prayer or invocation, sprinkling rice from a basin he held in his hand, while several large gongs were loudly beaten and a salute of muskets fired off. A large jar of rice wine, very sour but with an agreeable flavour, was then handed around, and I asked to see some of their dances. These were, like most savage performances, very dull and ungraceful affairs; the men dressing themselves absurdly like women, and the girls making themselves as stiff and ridiculous as possible. All the time six or eight large Chinese gongs were being beaten by the vigorous arms of as many young men, producing such a deafening discord that I was glad to escape to the round house, where I slept very comfortably with half a dozen smoke-dried human skulls suspended over my head,
The river was now so shallow that boats could hardly get along. I therefore preferred walking to the next village, expecting to see something of the country, but was much disappointed, as the path lay almost entirely through dense bamboo thickets. The Dyaks get two crops off the ground in succession; one of rice, and the other of sugarcane, maize, and vegetables. The ground then lies fallow eight or ten years, and becomes covered with bamboos and shrubs, which often completely arch over the path and shut out everything from the view. Three hours' walking brought us to the village of Senankan, where I was again obliged to remain the whole day, which I agreed to do on the promise of the Orang Kaya that his men should next day take me through two other villages across to Senna, at the head of the Sarawak River. I amused myself as I best could till evening, by walking about the high ground near, to get views of the country and bearings of the chief mountains. There was then another public audience, with gifts of rice and eggs, and drinking of rice wine. These Dyaks cultivate a great extent of ground, and supply a good deal of rice to Sarawak. They are rich in gongs, brass trays, wire, silver coins, and other articles in which a Dyak's wealth consists; and their women and children are all highly ornamented with bead necklaces, shells, and brass wire.
In the morning I waited some time, but the men that were to accompany me did not make their appearance. On sending to the Orang Kaya I found that both he and another head-man had gone out for the day, and on inquiring the reason was told that they could not persuade any of their men to go with me because the journey was long and fatiguing one. As I was determined to get on, I told the few men that remained that the chiefs had behaved very badly, and that I should acquaint the Rajah with their conduct, and I wanted to start immediately. Every man present made some excuse, but others were sent for, and by hint of threats and promises, and the exertion of all Bujon's eloquence, we succeeded in getting off after two hours' delay.
For the first few miles our path lay over a country cleared for rice-fields, consisting entirely of small but deep and sharply- cut ridges and valleys without a yard of level ground. After crossing the Kayan river, a main branch of the Sadong, we got on to the lower slopes of the Seboran Mountain, and the path lay along a sharp and moderately steep ridge, affording an excellent view of the country. Its features were exactly those of the Himalayas in miniature, as they are described by Dr. Hooker and other travellers, and looked like a natural model of some parts of those vast mountains on a scale of about a tenth--thousands of feet being here represented by hundreds. I now discovered the source of the beautiful pebbles which had so pleased me in the riverbed. The slatey rocks had ceased, and these mountains seemed to consist of a sandstone conglomerate, which was in some places a mere mass of pebbles cemented together. I might have known that such small streams could not produce such vast quantities of well-rounded pebbles of the very hardest materials. They had evidently been formed in past ages, by the action of some continental stream or seabeach, before the great island of Borneo had risen from the ocean. The existence of such a system of hills and valleys reproducing in miniature all the features of a great mountain region, has an important bearing on the modern theory that the form of the ground is mainly due to atmospheric rather than to subterranean action. When we have a number of branching valleys and ravines running in many different directions within a square mile, it seems hardly possible to impute their formation, or even their origination, to rents and fissures produced by earthquakes. On the other hand, the nature of the rock, so easily decomposed and removed by water, and the known action of the abundant tropical rains, are in this case, at least, quite sufficient causes for the production of such valleys. But the resemblance between their forms and outlines, their mode of divergence, and the slopes and ridges that divide them, and those of the grand mountain scenery of the Himalayas, is so remarkable, that we are forcibly led to the conclusion that the forces at work in the two cases have been the same, differing only in the time they have been in action, and the nature of the material they have had to work upon.
About noon we reached the village of Menyerry, beautifully situated on a spur of the mountain about 600 feet above the valley, and affording a delightful view of the mountains of this part of Borneo. I here got a sight of Penrissen Mountain, at the head of the Sarawak River, and one of the highest in the district, rising to about 6,000 feet above the sea. To the south the Rowan, and further off the Untowan Mountains in the Dutch territory appeared equally lofty. Descending from Menyerry we again crossed the Kayan, which bends round the spur, and ascended to the pass which divides the Sadong and Sarawak valleys, and which is about 2,000 feet high. The descent from this point was very fine. A stream, deep in a rocky gorge, rushed on each side of us, to one of which we gradually descended, passing over many lateral gullys and along the faces of some precipices by means of native bamboo bridges. Some of these were several hundred feet long and fifty or sixty high, a single smooth bamboo four inches diameter forming the only pathway, while a slender handrail of the same material was often so shaky that it could only be used as a guide rather than a support.
Late in the afternoon we reached Sodos, situated on a spur between two streams, but so surrounded by fruit trees that little could be seen of the country. The house was spacious, clean and comfortable, and the people very obliging. Many of the women and children had never seen a white man before, and were very sceptical as to my being the same colour all over, as my face. They begged me to show them my arms and body, and they were so kind and good-tempered that I felt bound to give them some satisfaction, so I turned up my trousers and let them see the colour of my leg, which they examined with great interest.
In the morning early we continued our descent along a fine valley, with mountains rising 2,000 or 3,000 feet in every direction. The little river rapidly increased in size until we reached Serma, when it had become a fine pebbly stream navigable for small canoes. Here again the upheaved slatey rock appeared, with the same dip and direction as in the Sadong River. On inquiring for a boat to take me down the stream, I was told that the Senna Dyaks, although living on the river-banks, never made or used boats. They were mountaineers who had only come down into the valley about twenty years before, and had not yet got into new habits. They are of the same tribe as the people of Menyerry and Sodos. They make good paths and bridges, and cultivate much mountain land, and thus give a more pleasing and civilized aspect to the country than where the people move about only in boats, and confine their cultivation to the banks of the streams.
After some trouble I hired a boat from a Malay trader, and found three Dyaks who had been several times with Malays to Sarawak, and thought they could manage it very well. They turned out very awkward, constantly running aground, striking against rocks, and losing their balance so as almost to upset themselves and the boat--offering a striking contrast to the skill of the Sea Dyaks. At length we came to a really dangerous rapid where boats were often swamped, and my men were afraid to pass it. Some Malays with a boatload of rice here overtook us, and after safely passing down kindly sent back one of their men to assist me. As it was, my Dyaks lost their balance in the critical part of the passage, and had they been alone would certainly have upset the boat. The river now became exceedingly picturesque, the ground on each side being partially cleared for ricefields, affording a good view of the country. Numerous little granaries were built high up in trees overhanging the river, and having a bamboo bridge sloping up to them from the bank; and here and there bamboo suspension bridge crossed the stream, where overhanging trees favoured their construction.
I slept that night in the village of the Sebungow Dyaks, and the next day reached Sarawak, passing through a most beautiful country where limestone mountains with their fantastic forms and white precipices slot up on every side, draped and festooned with a luxuriant vegetation. The banks of the Sarawak River are everywhere covered with fruit trees, which supply the Dyaks with a great deal of their food. The Mangosteen, Lansat, Rambutan, Jack, Jambou, and Blimbing, are all abundant; but most abundant and most esteemed is the Durian, a fruit about which very little is known in England, but which both by natives and Europeans in the Malay Archipelago is reckoned superior to all others. The old traveller Linschott, writing in 1599, says: "It is of such an excellent taste that it surpasses in flavour all the other fruits of the world, according to those who have tasted it." And Doctor Paludanus adds: "This fruit is of a hot and humid nature. To those not used to it, it seems at first to smell like rotten onions, but immediately when they have tasted it, they prefer it to all other food. The natives give it honourable titles, exalt it, and make verses on it." When brought into a house the smell is often so offensive that some persons can never bear to taste it. This was my own case when I first tried it in Malacca, but in Borneo I found a ripe fruit on the ground, and, eating it out of doors, I at once became a confirmed Durian eater.
The Durian grows on a large and lofty forest tree, somewhat resembling an elm in its general character, but with a more smooth and scaly bark. The fruit is round or slightly oval, about the size of a large cocoanut, of a green colour, and covered all over with short stout spines the bases of which touch each other, and are consequently somewhat hexagonal, while the points are very strong and sharp. It is so completely armed, that if the stalk is broken off it is a difficult matter to lift one from the ground. The outer rind is so thick and tough, that from whatever height it may fall it is never broken. From the base to the apex five very faint lines may be traced, over which the spines arch a little; these are the sutures of the carpels, and show where the fruit may be divided with a heavy knife and a strong hand. The five cells are satiny white within, and are each filled with an oval mass of cream-coloured pulp, imbedded in which are two or three seeds about the size of chestnuts. This pulp is the eatable part, and its consistency and flavour are indescribable. A rich butter-like custard highly flavoured with almonds gives the best general idea of it, but intermingled with it come wafts of flavour that call to mind cream-cheese, onion-sauce, brown sherry, and other incongruities. Then there is a rich glutinous smoothness in the pulp which nothing else possesses, but which adds to its delicacy. It is neither acid, nor sweet, nor juicy; yet one feels the want of more of these qualities, for it is perfect as it is. It produces no nausea or other bad effect, and the more you eat of it the less you feel inclined to stop. In fact to eat Durians is a new sensation, worth a voyage to the East to experience.
When the fruit is ripe it falls of itself, and the only way to eat Durians in perfection is to get them as they fall; and the smell is then less overpowering. When unripe, it makes a very good vegetable if cooked, and it is also eaten by the Dyaks raw. In a good fruit season large quantities are preserved salted, in jars and bamboos, and kept the year round, when it acquires a most disgusting odour to Europeans, but the Dyaks appreciate it highly as a relish with their rice. There are in the forest two varieties of wild Durians with much smaller fruits, one of them orange-coloured inside; and these are probably the origin of the large and fine Durians, which are never found wild. It would not, perhaps, be correct to say that the Durian is the best of all fruits, because it cannot supply the place of the subacid juicy kinds, such as the orange, grape, mango, and mangosteen, whose refreshing and cooling qualities are so wholesome and grateful; but as producing a food of the most exquisite flavour, it is unsurpassed. If I had to fix on two only, as representing the perfection of the two classes, I should certainly choose the Durian and the Orange as the king and queen of fruits.
The Durian is, however, sometimes dangerous. When the fruit begins to ripen it falls daily and almost hourly, and accidents not unfrequently happen to persons walking or working under the trees. When a Durian strikes a man in its fall, it produces a dreadful wound, the strong spines tearing open the flesh, while the blow itself is very heavy; but from this very circumstance death rarely ensues, the copious effusion of blood preventing the inflammation which might otherwise take place. A Dyak chief informed me that he had been struck down by a Durian falling on his head, which he thought would certainly have caused his death, yet he recovered in a very short time.
Poets and moralists, judging from our English trees and fruits, have thought that small fruits always grew on lofty trees, so that their fall should be harmless to man, while the large ones trailed on the ground. Two of the largest and heaviest fruits known, however, the Brazil-nut fruit (Bertholletia) and Durian, grow on lofty forest trees, from which they fall as soon as they are ripe, and often wound or kill the native inhabitants. From this we may learn two things: first, not to draw general conclusions from a very partial view of nature; and secondly, that trees and fruits, no less than the varied productions of the animal kingdom, do not appear to be organized with exclusive reference to the use and convenience of man.
During my many journeys in Borneo, and especially during my various residences among the Dyaks, I first came to appreciate the admirable qualities of the Bamboo. In those parts of South America which I had previously visited, these gigantic grasses were comparatively scarce; and where found but little used, their place being taken as to one class of uses by the great variety of Palms, and as to another by calabashes and gourds. Almost all tropical countries produce Bamboos, and wherever they are found in abundance the natives apply them to a variety of uses. Their strength, lightness, smoothness, straightness, roundness and hollowness, the facility and regularity with which they can be split, their many different sizes, the varying length of their joints, the ease with which they can be cut and with which holes can be made through them, their hardness outside, their freedom from any pronounced taste or smell, their great abundance, and the rapidity of their growth and increase, are all qualities which render them useful for a hundred different purposes, to serve which other materials would require much more labour and preparation. The Bamboo is one of the most wonderful and most beautiful productions of the tropics, and one of nature's most valuable gifts to uncivilized man.
The Dyak houses are all raised on posts, and are often two or three hundred feet long and forty or fifty wide. The floor is always formed of strips split from large Bamboos, so that each may be nearly flat and about three inches wide, and these are firmly tied down with rattan to the joists beneath. When well made, this is a delightful floor to walk upon barefooted, the rounded surfaces of the bamboo being very smooth and agreeable to the feet, while at the same time affording a firm hold. But, what is more important, they form with a mat over them an excellent bed, the elasticity of the Bamboo and its rounded surface being far superior to a more rigid and a flatter floor. Here we at once find a use for Bamboo which cannot be supplied so well by another material without a vast amount of labour--palms and other substitutes requiring much cutting and smoothing, and not being equally good when finished. When, however, a flat, close floor is required, excellent boards are made by splitting open large Bamboos on one side only, and flattening them out so as to form slabs eighteen inches wide and six feet long, with which some Dyaks floor their houses. These with constant rubbing of the feet and the smoke of years become dark and polished, like walnut or old oak, so that their real material can hardly be recognised. What labour is here saved to a savage whose only tools are an axe and a knife, and who, if he wants boards, must hew them out of the solid trunk of a tree, and must give days and weeks of labour to obtain a surface as smooth and beautiful as the Bamboo thus treated affords him. Again, if a temporary house is wanted, either by the native in his plantation or by the traveller in the forest, nothing is so convenient as the Bamboo, with which a house can be constructed with a quarter of the labour and time than if other materials are used.
As I have already mentioned, the Hill Dyaks in the interior of Sarawak make paths for long distances from village to village and to their cultivated grounds, in the course of which they have to cross many gullies and ravines, and even rivers; or sometimes, to avoid a long circuit, to carry the path along the face of a precipice. In all these cases the bridges they construct are of Bamboo, and so admirably adapted is the material for this purpose, that it seems doubtful whether they ever would have attempted such works if they had not possessed it. The Dyak bridge is simple but well designed. It consists merely of stout Bamboos crossing each other at the road-way like the letter X, and rising a few feet above it. At the crossing they are firmly bound together, and to a large Bamboo which lays upon them and forms the only pathway, with a slender and often very shaky one to serve as a handrail. When a river is to be crossed, an overhanging tree is chosen from which the bridge is partly suspended and partly supported by diagonal struts from the banks, so as to avoid placing posts in the stream itself, which would be liable to be carried away by floods. In carrying a path along the face of a precipice, trees and roots are made use of for suspension; struts arise from suitable notches or crevices in the rocks, and if these are not sufficient, immense Bamboos fifty or sixty feet long are fixed on the banks or on the branch of a tree below. These bridges are traversed daily by men and women carrying heavy loads, so that any insecurity is soon discovered, and, as the materials are close at hand, immediately repaired. When a path goes over very steep ground, and becomes slippery in very wet or very dry weather, the Bamboo is used in another way. Pieces are cut about a yard long, and opposite notches being made at each end, holes are formed through which pegs are driven, and firm and convenient steps are thus formed with the greatest ease and celerity. It is true that much of this will decay in one or two seasons, but it can be so quickly replaced as to make it more economical than using a harder and more durable wood.
DYAK CROSSING A BAMBOO BRIDGE
One of the most striking uses to which Bamboo is applied by the Dyaks, is to assist them in climbing lofty trees by driving in pegs in the way I have already described at page 85. This method is constantly used in order to obtain wax, which is one of the most valuable products of the country. The honey-bee of Borneo very generally hangs its combs under the branches of the Tappan, a tree which towers above all others in the forest, and whose smooth cylindrical trunk often rises a hundred feet without a branch. The Dyaks climb these lofty trees at night, building up their Bamboo ladder as they go, and bringing down gigantic honeycombs. These furnish them with a delicious feast of honey and young bees, besides the wax, which they sell to traders, and with the proceeds buy the much-coveted brass wire, earrings, and bold-edged handkerchiefs with which they love to decorate themselves. In ascending Durian and other fruit trees which branch at from thirty to fifty feet from the ground, I have seen them use the Bamboo pegs only, without the upright Bamboo which renders them so much more secure.|
The outer rind of the Bamboo, split and shaved thin, is the strongest material for baskets; hen-coops, bird-cages, and conical fish-traps are very quickly made from a single joint, by splitting off the skin in narrow strips left attached to one end, while rings of the same material or of rattan are twisted in at regular distances. Water is brought to the houses by little aqueducts formed of large Bamboos split in half and supported on crossed sticks of various heights so as to give it a regular fall. Thin long-jointed Bamboos form the Dyaks' only water- vessels, and a dozen of them stand in the corner of every house. They are clean, light, and easily carried, and are in many ways superior to earthen vessels for the same purpose. They also make excellent cooking utensils; vegetables and rice can be boiled in them to perfection, and they are often used when travelling. Salted fruit or fish, sugar, vinegar, and honey are preserved in them instead of in jars or bottles. In a small Bamboo case, prettily carved and ornamented, the Dyak carries his sirih and lime for betel chewing, and his little long-bladed knife has a Bamboo sheath. His favourite pipe is a huge hubble-bubble, which he will construct in a few minutes by inserting a small piece of Bamboo for a bowl obliquely into a large cylinder about six inches from the bottom containing water, through which the smoke passes to a long slender Bamboo tube. There are many other small matters for which Bamboo is daily used, but enough has now been mentioned to show its value. In other parts of the Archipelago I have myself seen it applied to many new uses, and it is probable that my limited means of observation did not make me acquainted with one-half the ways in which it is serviceable to the Dyaks of Sarawak.
While upon the subject of plants I may here mention a few of the more striking vegetable productions of Borneo. The wonderful Pitcher-plants, forming the genus Nepenthes of botanists, here reach their greatest development. Every mountain-top abounds with them, running along the ground, or climbing over shrubs and stunted trees; their elegant pitchers hanging in every direction. Some of these are long and slender, resembling in form the beautiful Philippine lace-sponge (Euplectella), which has now become so common; others are broad and short. Their colours are green, variously tinted and mottled with red or purple. The finest yet known were obtained on the summit of Kini-balou, in North-west Borneo. One of the broad sort, Nepenthes rajah, will hold two quarts of water in its pitcher. Another, Nepenthes Edwardsiania, has a narrow pitcher twenty inches long; while the plant itself grows to a length of twenty feet.
Ferns are abundant, but are not so varied as on the volcanic mountains of Java; and Tree-ferns are neither so plentiful nor so large as on that island. They grow, however, quite down to the level of the sea, and are generally slender and graceful plants from eight to fifteen feet high. Without devoting much time to the search I collected fifty species of Ferns in Borneo, and I have no doubt a good botanist would have obtained twice the number. The interesting group of Orchids is very abundant, but, as is generally the case, nine-tenths of the species have small and inconspicuous flowers. Among the exceptions are the fine Coelogynes, whose large clusters of yellow flowers ornament the gloomiest forests, and that most extraordinary plant, Vanda Lowii, which last is particularly abundant near some hot springs at the foot of the Penin-jauh Mountain. It grows on the lower branches of trees, and its us strange pendant flower-spires often hang down so as almost to reach the ground. These are generally six or eight feet long, bearing large and handsome flowers three inches across, and varying in colour from orange to red, with deep purple-red spots. I measured one spike, which reached the extraordinary length of nine feet eight inches, and bore thirty- six flowers, spirally arranged upon a slender thread-like stalk. Specimens grown in our English hot-houses have produced flower- spires of equal length, and with a much larger number of blossoms.
Flowers were scarce, as is usual in equatorial forests, and it was only at rare intervals that I met with anything striking. A few fine climbers were sometimes seen, especially a handsome crimson and yellow Aeschynanthus, and a fine leguminous plant with clusters of large Cassia-like flowers of a rich purple colour. Once I found a number of small Anonaceous trees of the genus Polyalthea, producing a most striking effect in the gloomy forest shades. They were about thirty feet high, and their slender trunks were covered with large star-like crimson flowers, which clustered over them like garlands, and resembled some artificial decoration more than a natural product.
POLYALTHEA - - - STRANGE FOREST TREE - - - TREE-FERN
The forests abound with gigantic trees with cylindrical, buttressed, or furrowed stems, while occasionally the traveller comes upon a wonderful fig-tree, whose trunk is itself a forest of stems and aerial roots. Still more rarely are found trees which appear to have begun growing in mid-air, and from the same point send out wide-spreading branches above and a complicated pyramid of roots descending for seventy or eighty feet to the ground below, and so spreading on every side, that one can stand in the very centre with the trunk of the tree immediately overhead. Trees of this character are found all over the Archipelago, and the accompanying illustration (taken from one which I often visited in the Aru Islands) will convey some idea of their general character. I believe that they originate as parasites, from seeds carried by birds and dropped in the fork of some lofty tree. Hence descend aerial roots, clasping and ultimately destroying the supporting tree, which is in time entirely replaced by the humble plant which was at first dependent upon it. Thus we have an actual struggle for life in the vegetable kingdom, not less fatal to the vanquished than the struggles among animals which we can so much more easily observe and understand. The advantage of quicker access to light and warmth and air, which is gained in one way by climbing plants, is here obtained by a forest tree, which has the means of starting in life at an elevation which others can only attain after many years of growth, and then only when the fall of some other tree has made room for then. Thus it is that in the warm and moist and equable climate of the tropics, each available station is seized upon and becomes the means of developing new forms of life especially adapted to occupy it.|
On reaching Sarawak early in December, I found there would not be an opportunity of returning to Singapore until the latter end of January. I therefore accepted Sir James Brooke's invitation to spend a week with him and Mr. St. John at his cottage on Peninjauh. This is a very steep pyramidal mountain of crystalline basaltic rock, about a thousand feet high, and covered with luxuriant forest. There are three Dyak villages upon it, and on a little platform near the summit is the rude wooden lodge where the English Rajah was accustomed to go for relaxation and cool fresh air. It is only twenty miles up the river, but the road up the mountain is a succession of ladders on the face of precipices, bamboo bridges over gullies and chasms, and slippery paths over rocks and tree-trunks and huge boulders as big as houses. A cool spring under an overhanging rock just below the cottage furnished us with refreshing baths and delicious drinking water, and the Dyaks brought us daily heaped-up baskets of Mangosteens and Lansats, two of the most delicious of the subacid tropical fruits. We returned to Sarawak for Christmas (the second I had spent with Sir James Brooke), when all the Europeans both in the town and from the out-stations enjoyed the hospitality of the Rajah, who possessed in a pre-eminent degree the art of making every one around him comfortable and happy.
A few days afterwards I returned to the mountain with Charles and a Malay boy named Ali and stayed there three weeks for the purpose of making a collection of land-shells, butterflies and moths, ferns and orchids. On the hill itself ferns were tolerably plentiful, and I made a collection of about forty species. But what occupied me most was the great abundance of moths which on certain occasions I was able to capture. As during the whole of my eight years' wanderings in the East I never found another spot where these insects were at all plentiful, it will be interesting to state the exact conditions under which I here obtained them.
On one side of the cottage there was a verandah, looking down the whole side of the mountain and to its summit on the right, all densely clothed with forest. The boarded sides of the cottage were whitewashed, and the roof of the verandah was low, and also boarded and whitewashed. As soon as it got dark I placed my lamp on a table against the wall, and with pins, insect-forceps, net, and collecting-boxes by my side, sat down with a book. Sometimes during the whole evening only one solitary moth would visit me, while on other nights they would pour in, in a continual stream, keeping me hard at work catching and pinning till past midnight. They came literally by the thousands. These good nights were very few. During the four weeks that I spent altogether on the hill I only had four really good nights, and these were always rainy, and the best of them soaking wet. But wet nights were not always good, for a rainy moonlight night produced next to nothing. All the chief tribes of moths were represented, and the beauty and variety of the species was very great. On good nights I was able to capture from a hundred to two hundred and fifty moths, and these comprised on each occasion from half to two-thirds that number of distinct species. Some of them would settle on the wall, some on the table, while many would fly up to the roof and give me a chase all over the verandah before I could secure them. In order to show the curious connection between the state of weather and the degree in which moths were attracted to light, I add a list of my captures each night of my stay on the hill.
||No. of Moths
| " . . 14th
||Drizzly and fog.
| " . . 15th
| " . . 16th
||(120 species.) Steady rain.
| " . . 17th
||Wet; rather moonlight.
| " . . 18th
| " . . 19th
||Fine; clear moonlight.
| " . . 31st
||(130 species.) Dark and windy; heavy rain.
| " . . 2cd
||Cloudy and showers.
| " . . 3rd
| " . . 4th
| " . . 5th
| " . . 6th
| " . . 7th
| " . . 8th
| " . . 9th
| " .. 10th
| " .. 11th
||Heavy rain all night, and dark.
| " .. 12th
| " .. 13th
||Showery; some moonlight.
| " .. 14th
| " .. 15th
| " .. 16th
| " .. 17th
| " .. 18th
It thus appears that on twenty-six nights I collected 1,386 moths, but that more than 800 of them were collected on four very wet and dark nights. My success here led me to hope that, by similar arrangements, I might on every island be able to obtain an abundance of these insects; but, strange to say, during the six succeeding years, I was never once able to make any collections at all approaching those at Sarawak. The reason for this I can pretty well understand to be owing to the absence of some one or other essential condition that were here all combined. Sometimes the dry season was the hindrance; more frequently residence in a town or village not close to virgin forest, and surrounded by other houses whose lights were a counter-attraction; still more frequently residence in a dark palm-thatched house, with a lofty roof, in whose recesses every moth was lost the instant it entered. This last was the greatest drawback, and the real reason why I never again was able to make a collection of moths; for I never afterwards lived in a solitary jungle-house with a low boarded and whitewashed verandah, so constructed as to prevent insects at once escaping into the upper part of the house, quite out of reach.|
After my long experience, my numerous failures, and my one success, I feel sure that if any party of naturalists ever make a yacht-voyage to explore the Malayan Archipelago, or any other tropical region, making entomology one of their chief pursuits, it would well repay them to carry a small framed verandah, or a verandah-shaped tent of white canvas, to set up in every favourable situation, as a means of making a collection of nocturnal Lepidoptera, and also of obtaining rare specimens of Coleoptera and other insects. I make the suggestion here, because no one would suspect the enormous difference in results that such an apparatus would produce; and because I consider it one of the curiosities of a collector's experience, to have found out that some such apparatus is required.
When I returned to Singapore I took with me the Malay lad named Ali, who subsequently accompanied me all over the Archipelago. Charles Allen preferred staying at the Mission-house, and afterwards obtained employment in Sarawak and in Singapore, until he again joined me four years later at Amboyna in the Moluccas.
BORNEO - THE DYAKS
THE manners and customs of the aborigines of Borneo have been described in great detail, and with much fuller information than I possess, in the writings of Sir James Brooke, Messrs. Low, St. John, Johnson Brooke, and many others. I do not propose to go over the ground again, but shall confine myself to a sketch, from personal observation, of the general character of the Dyaks, and of such physical, moral, and social characteristics as have been less frequently noticed.
The Dyak is closely allied to the Malay, and more remotely to the Siamese, Chinese, and other Mongol races. All these are characterised by a reddish-brown or yellowish-brown skin of various shades, by jet- black straight hair, by the scanty or deficient beard, by the rather small and broad nose, and high cheekbones; but none of the Malayan races have the oblique eyes which are characteristic of the more typical Mongols. The average stature of the Dyaks is rather more than that of the Malays, while it is considerably under that of most Europeans. Their forms are well proportioned, their feet and hands small, and they rarely or never attain the bulk of body so often seen in Malays and Chinese.
I am inclined to rank the Dyaks above the Malays in mental capacity, while in moral character they are undoubtedly superior to them. They are simple and honest, and become the prey of the Malay and Chinese trailers, who cheat and plunder them continually. They are more lively, more talkative, less secretive, and less suspicious than the Malay, and are therefore pleasanter companions. The Malay boys have little inclination for active sports and games, which form quite a feature in the life of the Dyak youths, who, besides outdoor games of skill and strength, possess a variety of indoor amusements. One wet day, in a Dyak house, when a number of boys and young men were about me, I thought to amuse them with something new, and showed them how to make "cat's cradle" with a piece of string. Greatly to my surprise, they knew all about it, and more than I did; for, after Charles and I had gone through all the changes we could make, one of the boys took it off my hand, and made several new figures which quite puzzled me. They then showed me a number of other tricks with pieces of string, which seemed a favourite amusement with them.
Even these apparently trifling matters may assist us to form a truer estimate of the Dyaks' character and social condition. We learn thereby, that these people have passed beyond that first stage of savage life in which the struggle for existence absorbs all of the faculties, and in which every thought and idea is connected with war or hunting, or the provision for their immediate necessities. These amusements indicate a capability of civilization, an aptitude to enjoy other than mere sensual pleasures, which night be taken advantage of to elevate their whole intellectual and social life.
The moral character of the Dyaks is undoubtedly high--a statement which will seem strange to those who have heard of them only as head-hunters and pirates. The Hill Dyaks of whom I am speaking, however, have never been pirates, since they never go near the sea; and head-hunting is a custom originating in the petty wars of village with village, and tribe with tribe, which no more implies a bad moral character than did the custom of the slave-trade a hundred years ago imply want of general morality in all who participated in it. Against this one stain on their character (which in the case of the Sarawak Dyaks no longer exists) we have to set many good points. They are truthful and honest to a remarkable degree. From this cause it is very often impossible to get from them any definite information, or even an opinion. They say, "If I were to tell yon what I don't know, I might tell a lie;" and whenever they voluntarily relate any matter of fact, you may be sure they are speaking the truth. In a Dyak village the fruit trees have each their owner, and it has often happened to me, on asking an inhabitant to gather me some fruit, to be answered, "I can't do that, for the owner of the tree is not here;" never seeming to contemplate the possibility of acting otherwise. Neither will they take the smallest thing belonging to an European. When living at Simunjon, they continually came to my house, and would pick up scraps of torn newspaper or crooked pins that I had thrown away, and ask as a great favour whether they might have them. Crimes of violence (other than head-hunting) are almost unknown; for in twelve years, under Sir James Brooke's rule, there had been only one case of murder in a Dyak tribe, and that one was committed by a stranger who had been adopted into the tribe. In several other matters of morality they rank above most uncivilized, and even above many civilized nations. They are temperate in food and drink, and the gross sensuality of the Chinese and Malays is unknown among them. They have the usual fault of all people in a half-savage state-- apathy and dilatoriness, but, however annoying this may be to Europeans who come in contact with them, it cannot be considered a very grave offence, or be held to outweigh their many excellent qualities.
During my residence among the Hill Dyaks, I was much struck by the apparent absence of those causes which are generally supposed to check the increase of population, although there were plain indications of stationary or but slowly increasing numbers. The conditions most favourable to a rapid increase of population are: an abundance of food, a healthy climate, and early marriages. Here these conditions all exist. The people produce far more food than they consume, and exchange the surplus for gongs and brass cannon, ancient jars, and gold and silver ornaments, which constitute their wealth. On the whole, they appear very free from disease, marriages take place early (but not too early), and old bachelors and old maids are alike unknown. Why, then, we must inquire, has not a greater population been produced? Why are the Dyak villages so small and so widely scattered, while nine-tenths of the country is still covered with forest?
Of all the checks to population among savage nations mentioned by Malthus--starvation, disease, war, infanticide, immorality, and infertility of the women--the last is that which he seems to think least important, and of doubtful efficacy; and yet it is the only one that seems to me capable of accounting for the state of the population among the Sarawak Dyaks. The population of Great Britain increases so as to double itself in about fifty years. To do this it is evident that each married couple must average three children who live to be married at the age of about twenty-five. Add to these those who die in infancy, those who never marry, or those who marry late in life and have no offspring, the number of children born to each marriage must average four or five, and we know that families of seven or eight are very common, and of ten and twelve by no means rare. But from inquiries at almost every Dyak tribe I visited, I ascertained that the women rarely had more than three or four children, and an old chief assured me that he had never known a woman to have more than seven.
In a village consisting of a hundred and fifty families, only one consisted of six children living, and only six of five children, the majority of families appearing to be two, three, or four. Comparing this with the known proportions in European countries, it is evident that the number of children to each marriage can hardly average more than three or four; and as even in civilized countries half the population die before the age of twenty-five, we should have only two left to replace their parents; and so long as this state of things continued, the population must remain stationary. Of course this is a mere illustration; but the facts I have stated seem to indicate that something of the kind really takes place; and if so, there is no difficulty in understanding the smallness and almost stationary population of the Dyak tribes.
We have next to inquire what is the cause of the small number of births and of living children in a family. Climate and race may have something to do with this, but a more real and efficient cause seems to me to be the hard labour of the women, and the heavy weights they constantly carry. A Dyak woman generally spends the whole day in the field, and carries home every night a heavy load of vegetables and firewood, often for several miles, over rough and hilly paths; and not unfrequently has to climb up a rocky mountain by ladders, and over slippery steppingstones, to an elevation of a thousand feet. Besides this, she has an hour's work every evening to pound the rice with a heavy wooden stamper, which violently strains every part of the body. She begins this kind of labour when nine or ten years old, and it never ceases but with the extreme decrepitude of age. Surely we need not wonder at the limited number of her progeny, but rather be surprised at the successful efforts of nature to prevent the extermination of the race.
One of the surest and most beneficial effects of advancing civilization, will be the amelioration of the condition of these women. The precept and example of higher races will make the Dyak ashamed of his comparatively idle life, while his weaker partner labours like a beast of burthen. As his wants become increased and his tastes refined, the women will have more household duties to attend to, and will then cease to labour in the field--a change which has already to a great extent taken place in the allied Malay, Javanese, and Bugis tribes. Population will then certainly increase more rapidly, improved systems of agriculture and some division of labour will become necessary in order to provide the means of existence, and a more complicated social state will take the place of the simple conditions of society which now occur among them. But, with the sharper struggle for existence that will then arise, will the happiness of the people as a whole be increased or diminished? Will not evil passions be aroused by the spirit of competition, and crimes and vices, now unknown or dormant, be called into active existence? These are problems that time alone can solve; but it is to be hoped that education and a high-class European example may obviate much of the evil that too often arises in analogous cases, and that we may at length be able to point to one instance of an uncivilized people who have not become demoralized, and finally exterminated, by contact with European civilization.
A few words in conclusion, about the government of Sarawak. Sir James Brooke found the Dyaks oppressed and ground down by the most cruel tyranny. They were cheated by the Malay traders and robbed by the Malay chiefs. Their wives and children were often captured and sold into slavery, and hostile tribes purchased permission from their cruel rulers to plunder, enslave, and murder them. Anything like justice or redress for these injuries was utterly unattainable. From the time Sir James obtained possession of the country, all this was stopped. Equal justice was awarded to Malay, Chinaman, and Dyak. The remorseless pirates from the rivers farther east were punished, and finally shut up within their own territories, and the Dyak, for the first time, could sleep in peace. His wife and children were now safe from slavery; his house was no longer burned over his head; his crops and his fruits were now his own to sell or consume as he pleased. And the unknown stranger who had done all this for them, and asked for nothing in return, what could he be? How was it possible for them to realize his motives? Was it not natural that they should refuse to believe he was a man? For of pure benevolence combined with great power, they had had no experience among men. They naturally concluded that he was a superior being, come down upon earth to confer blessings on the afflicted. In many villages where he had not been seen, I was asked strange questions about him. Was he not as old as the mountains? Could he not bring the dead to life? And they firmly believe that he can give them good harvests, and make their fruit-trees bear an abundant crop.
In forming a proper estimate of Sir James Brooke's government it must ever be remembered that he held Sarawak solely by the goodwill of the native inhabitant. He had to deal with two races, one of whom, the Mahometan Malays, looked upon the other race, the Dyaks, as savages and slaves, only fit to be robbed and plundered. He has effectually protected the Dyaks, and has invariably treated them as, in his sight, equal to the Malays; and yet he has secured the affection and goodwill of both. Notwithstanding the religious prejudice, of Mahometans, he has induced them to modify many of their worst laws and customs, and to assimilate their criminal code to that of the civilized world. That his government still continues, after twenty- seven years--notwithstanding his frequent absences from ill-health, notwithstanding conspiracies of Malay chiefs, and insurrections of Chinese gold-diggers, all of which have been overcome by the support of the native population, and notwithstanding financial, political, and domestic troubles is due, I believe, solely to the many admirable qualities which Sir James Brooke possessed, and especially to his having convinced the native population, by every action of his life, that he ruled them, not for his own advantage, but for their good.
Since these lines were written, his noble spirit has passed away. But though, by those who knew him not, he may be sneered at as an enthusiastic adventurer, abused as a hard-hearted despot, the universal testimony of everyone who came in contact with him in his adopted country, whether European, Malay, or Dyak, will be, that Rajah Brooke was a great, a wise, and a good ruler; a true and faithful friend-- a man to be admired for his talents, respected for his honesty and courage, and loved for his genuine hospitality, his kindness of disposition, and his tenderness of heart. [footnote: The present Rajah, Charles Johnston Brooke, nephew of Sir James, seems to have continued the government in the spirit of its founder. Its territories have been extended by friendly arrangement with the Sultan of Bruni so as to include the larger part of the north-west district of Borneo, and peace and prosperity have everywhere been maintained. Fifty years of government of alien and antagonistic races, with their own consent, and with the continued support of the native chieds, is a success of which the friends and countrymen of Sir James Brooke may well be proud.]
I SPENT three months and a half in Java, from July 18th to October 31st, 1861, and shall briefly describe my own movements, and my observations of the people and the natural history of the country. To all those who wish to understand how the Dutch now govern Java, and how it is that they are enabled to derive a large annual revenue from it, while the population increases, and the inhabitants are contented, I recommend the study of Mr. Money's excellent and interesting work, "How to Manage a Colony." The main facts and conclusions of that work I most heartily concur in, and I believe that the Dutch system is the very best that can be adopted, when a European nation conquers or otherwise acquires possession of a country inhabited by an industrious but semi-barbarous people. In my account of Northern Celebes, I shall show how successfully the same system has been applied to a people in a very different state of civilization from the Javanese; and in the meanwhile will state in the fewest words possible what that system is.
The mode of government now adopted in Java is to retain the whole series of native rulers, from the village chief up to princes, who, under the name of Regents, are the heads of districts about the size of a small English county. With each Regent is placed a Dutch Resident, or Assistant Resident, who is considered to be his "elder brother," and whose "orders" take the form of "recommendations," which are, however, implicitly obeyed. Along with each Assistant Resident is a Controller, a kind of inspector of all the lower native rulers, who periodically visits every village in the district, examines the proceedings of the native courts, hears complaints against the head-men or other native chiefs, and superintends the Government plantations. This brings us to the "culture system," which is the source of all the wealth the Dutch derive from Java, and is the subject of much abuse in this country because it is the reverse of "free trade." To understand its uses and beneficial effects, it is necessary first to sketch the common results of free European trade with uncivilized peoples.
Natives of tropical climates have few wants, and, when these are supplied, are disinclined to work for superfluities without some strong incitement. With such a people the introduction of any new or systematic cultivation is almost impossible, except by the despotic orders of chiefs whom they have been accustomed to obey, as children obey their parents. The free competition of European traders, however introduces two powerful inducements to exertion. Spirits or opium is a temptation too strong for most savages to resist, and to obtain these he will sell whatever he has, and will work to get more. Another temptation he cannot resist, is goods on credit. The trader offers him bay cloths, knives, gongs, guns, and gunpowder, to be paid for by some crop perhaps not yet planted, or some product yet in the forest. He has not sufficient forethought to take only a moderate quantity, and not enough energy to work early and late in order to get out of debt; and the consequence is that he accumulates debt upon debt, and often remains for years, or for life, a debtor and almost a slave. This is a state of things which occurs very largely in every part of the world in which men of a superior race freely trade with men of a lower race. It extends trade no doubt for a time, but it demoralizes the native, checks true civilization--and does not lead to any permanent increase in the wealth of the country; so that the European government of such a country must be carried on at a loss.
The system introduced by the Dutch was to induce the people, through their chiefs, to give a portion of their till, to the cultivation of coffee, sugar, and other valuable products. A fixed rate of wages--low indeed, but, about equal to that of all places where European competition has not artificially raised it- -was paid to the labourers engaged in clearing the ground and forming the plantations under Government superintendence. The produce is sold to the Government at a low, fixed price. Out of the net profit a percentage goes to the chiefs, and the remainder is divided among the workmen. This surplus in good years is something considerable. On the whole, the people are well fed and decently clothed, and have acquired habits of steady industry and the art of scientific cultivation, which must be of service to them in the future. It must be remembered, that the Government expended capital for years before any return was obtained; and if they now derive a large revenue, it is in a way which is far less burthensome, and far more beneficial to the people, than any tax that could be levied.
But although the system may be a good one, and as well adapted to the development of arts and industry in a half civilized people as it is to the material advantage of the governing country, it is not pretended that in practice it is perfectly carried out. The oppressive and servile relations between chiefs and people, which have continued for perhaps a thousand years, cannot be at once abolished; and some evil must result from those relations, until the spread of education and the gradual infusion of European blood causes it naturally and insensibly to disappear. It is said that the Residents, desirous of showing a large increase in the products of their districts, have sometimes pressed the people to such continued labour on the plantations that their rice crops have been materially diminished, and famine has been the result. If this has happened, it is certainly not a common thing, and is to be set down to the abuse of the system, by the want of judgment, or want of humanity in the Resident.
A tale has lately been written in Holland, and translated into English, entitled "Max Havelaar; or, the "Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company," and with our usual one-sidedness in all relating to the Dutch Colonial System, this work has been excessively praised, both for its own merits, and for its supposed crushing exposure of the iniquities of the Dutch government of Java. Greatly to my surprise, I found it a very tedious and long-winded story, full of rambling digressions; and whose only point is to show that the Dutch Residents and Assistant Residents wink at the extortions of the native princes; and that in some districts the natives have to do work without payment, and have their goods taken away from them without compensation. Every statement of this kind is thickly interspersed with italics and capital letters; but as the names are all fictitious, and neither dates, figures, nor details are ever given, it is impossible to verify or answer them. Even if not exaggerated, the facts stated are not nearly so bad as those of the oppression by free-trade indigo-planters, and torturing by native tax-gatherers under British rule in India, with which the readers of English newspapers were familiar a few years ago. Such oppression, however, is not fairly to be imputed in either case to the particular form of government, but is rather due to the infirmity of human nature, and to the impossibility of at once destroying all trace of ages of despotism on the one side, and of slavish obedience to their chiefs on the other.
It must be remembered, that the complete establishment of the Dutch power in Java is much more recent than that of our rule in India, and that there have been several changes of government, and in the mode of raising revenue. The inhabitants have been so recently under the rule of their native princes, that it is not easy at once to destroy the excessive reverence they feel for their old masters, or to diminish the oppressive exactions which the latter have always been accustomed to make. There is, however, one grand test of the prosperity, and even of the happiness, of a community, which we can apply here--the rate of increase of the population.
It is universally admitted that when a country increases rapidly in population, the people cannot be very greatly oppressed or very badly governed. The present system of raising a revenue by the cultivation of coffee and sugar, sold to Government at a fixed price, began in 1832. Just before this, in 1826, the population by census was 5,500,000, while at the beginning of the century it was estimated at 3,500,000. In 1850, when the cultivation system had been in operation eighteen years, the population by census was over 9,500,000, or an increase of 73 per cent in twenty-four years. At the last census, in 1865, it amounted to 14,168,416, an increase of very nearly 50 per cent in fifteen years--a rate which would double the population in about twenty-six years. As Java (with Madura) contains about 38,500 geographical square miles, this will give an average of 368 persons to the square mile, just double that of the populous and fertile Bengal Presidency as given in Thornton's Gazetteer of India, and fully one-third more than that of Great Britain and Ireland at the last Census. If, as I believe, this vast population is on the whole contented and happy, the Dutch Government should consider well before abruptly changing a system which has led to such great results. [footnote: In 1879 the population had still further increased to over nineteen millions, and in 1894 to twenty-five millions.]
Taking it as a whole, and surveying it front every point of view, Java is probably the very finest and most interesting tropical island in the world. It is not first in size, but it is more than 600 miles long, and from 60 to 120 miles wide, and in area is nearly equal to England; and it is undoubtedly the most fertile, the most productive, and the most populous island within the tropics. Its whole surface is magnificently varied with mountain and forest scenery. It possesses thirty-eight volcanic mountains, several of which rise to ten or twelve thousand feet high. Some of these are in constant activity, and one or other of them displays almost every phenomenon produced by the action of subterranean fires, except regular lava streams, which never occur in Java. The abundant moisture and tropical heat of the climate causes these mountains to be clothed with luxuriant vegetation, often to their very summits, while forests and plantations cover their lower slopes. The animal productions, especially the birds and insects, are beautiful and varied, and present many peculiar forms found nowhere else upon the globe.
The soil throughout the island is exceedingly fertile, and all the productions of the tropics, together with many of the temperate zones, can be easily cultivated. Java too possesses a civilization, a history and antiquities of its own, of great interest. The Brahminical religion flourished in it from an epoch of unknown antiquity until about the year 1478, when that of Mahomet superseded it. The former religion was accompanied by a civilization which has not been equalled by the conquerors; for, scattered through the country, especially in the eastern part of it, are found buried in lofty forests, temples, tombs, and statues of great beauty and grandeur; and the remains of extensive cities, where the tiger, the rhinoceros, and the wild bull now roam undisturbed. A modern civilization of another type is now spreading over the land. Good roads run through the country from end to end; European and native rulers work harmoniously together; and life and property are as well secured as in the best governed states of Europe. I believe, therefore, that Java may fairly claim to be the finest tropical island in the world, and equally interesting to the tourist seeking after new and beautiful scenes; to the naturalist who desires to examine the variety and beauty of tropical nature; or to the moralist and the politician who want to solve the problem of how man may be best governed under new and varied conditions.
The Dutch mail steamer brought me from Ternate to Sourabaya, the chief town and port in the eastern part of Java, and after a fortnight spent in packing up and sending off my last collections, I started on a short journey into the interior. Travelling in Java is very luxurious but very expensive, the only way being to hire or borrow a carriage, and then pay half a crown a mile for post-horses, which are changed at regular posts every six miles, and will carry you at the rate of ten miles an hour from one end of the island to the other. Bullock carts or coolies are required to carry all extra baggage. As this kind of travelling world not suit my means, I determined on making only a short journey to the district at the foot of Mount Arjuna, where I was told there were extensive forests, and where I hoped to be able to make some good collections. The country for many miles behind Sourabaya is perfectly flat and everywhere cultivated; being a delta or alluvial plain, watered by many branching streams. Immediately around the town the evident signs of wealth and of an industrious population were very pleasing; but as we went on, the constant succession of open fields skirted by rows of bamboos, with here and there the white buildings and a tall chimney of a sugar-mill, became monotonous. The roads run in straight lines for several miles at a stretch, and are bordered by rows of dusty tamarind-trees. At each mile there are little guardhouses, where a policeman is stationed; and there is a wooden gong, which by means of concerted signals may be made to convey information over the country with great rapidity. About every six or seven miles is the post-house, where the horses are changed as quickly as were those of the mail in the old coaching days in England.
I stopped at Modjokerto, a small town about forty miles south of Sourabaya, and the nearest point on the high road to the district I wished to visit. I had a letter of introduction to Mr. Ball, an Englishman, long resident in Java and married to a Dutch lady; and he kindly invited me to stay with him until I could fix on a place to suit me. A Dutch Assistant Resident as well as a Regent or native Javanese prince lived here. The town was neat, and had a nice open grassy space like a village green, on which stood a magnificent fig-tree (allied to the Banyan of India, but more lofty), under whose shade a kind of market is continually held, and where the inhabitants meet together to lounge and chat. The day after my arrival, Mr. Ball drove me over to the village of Modjo-agong, where he was building a house and premises for the tobacco trade, which is carried on here by a system of native cultivation and advance purchase, somewhat similar to the indigo trade in British India. On our way we stayed to look at a fragment of the ruins of the ancient city of Modjo-pahit, consisting of two lofty brick masses, apparently the sides of a gateway. The extreme perfection and beauty of the brickwork astonished me. The bricks are exceedingly fine and hard, with sharp angles and true surfaces. They are laid with great exactness, without visible mortar or cement, yet somehow fastened together so that the joints are hardly perceptible, and sometimes the two surfaces coalesce in a most incomprehensible manner.
Such admirable brickwork I have never seen before or since. There was no sculpture here, but an abundance of bold projections and finely-worked mouldings. Traces of buildings exist for many miles in every direction, and almost every road and pathway shows a foundation of brickwork beneath it--the paved roads of the old city. In the house of the Waidono or district chief at Modjo- agong, I saw a beautiful figure carved in high relief out of a block of lava, and which had been found buried in the ground near the village. On my expressing a wish to obtain some such specimen, Mr. B. asked the chief for it, and much to my surprise he immediately gave it me. It represented the Hindu goddess Durga, called in Java, Lora Jonggrang (the exalted virgin). She has eight arms, and stands on the back of a kneeling bull. Her lower right hand holds the tail of the bull, while the corresponding left hand grasps the hair of a captive, Dewth Mahikusor, the personification of vice, who has attempted to slay her bull. He has a cord round his waist, and crouches at her feet in an attitude of supplication. The other hands of the goddess hold, on her right side, a double hook or small anchor, a broad straight sword, and a noose of thick cord; on her left, a girdle or armlet of large beads or shells, an unstrung bow, and a standard or war flag. This deity was a special favourite among the old Javanese, and her image is often found in the ruined temples which abound in the eastern part of the island.
The specimen I had obtained was a small one, about two feet high, weighing perhaps a hundredweight; and the next day we had it conveyed to Modjo-Kerto to await my return to Sourabaya. Having decided to stay some time at Wonosalem, on the lower slopes of the Arjuna Mountain, where I was informed I should find forest and plenty of game, I had first to obtain a recommendation from the Assistant Resident to the Regent, and then an order from the Regent to the Waidono; and when after a week's delay I arrived with my baggage and men at Modjo-agong, I found them all in the midst of a five days' feast, to celebrate the circumcision of the Waidono's younger brother and cousin, and had a small room in an on outhouse given me to stay in. The courtyard and the great open reception-shed were full of natives coming and going and making preparations for a feast which was to take place at midnight, to which I was invited, but preferred going to bed. A native band, or Gamelang, was playing almost all the evening, and I had a good opportunity of seeing the instruments and musicians. The former are chiefly gongs of various sizes, arranged in sets of from eight to twelve, on low wooden frames. Each set is played by one performer with one or two drumsticks. There are also some very large gongs, played singly or in pairs, and taking the place of our drums and kettledrums. Other instruments are formed by broad metallic bars, supported on strings stretched across frames; and others again of strips of bamboo similarly placed and producing the highest notes. Besides these there were a flute and a curious two-stringed violin, requiring in all twenty-four performers. There was a conductor, who led off and regulated the time, and each performer took his part, coming in occasionally with a few bars so as to form a harmonious combination. The pieces played were long and complicated, and some of the players were mere boys, who took their parts with great precision. The general effect was very pleasing, but, owing to the similarity of most of the instruments, more like a gigantic musical box than one of our bands; and in order to enjoy it thoroughly it is necessary to watch the large number of performers who are engaged in it. The next morning, while I was waiting for the men and horses who were to take me and my baggage to my destination, the two lads, who were about fourteen years old, were brought out, clothed in a sarong from the waist downwards, and having the whole body covered with yellow powder, and profusely decked with white blossom in wreaths, necklaces, and armlets, looking at first sight very like savage brides. They were conducted by two priests to a bench placed in front of the house in the open air, and the ceremony of circumcision was then performed before the assembled crowd.
The road to Wonosalem led through a magnificent forest in the depths of which we passed a fine ruin of what appeared to have been a royal tomb or mausoleum. It is formed entirely of stone, and elaborately carved. Near the base is a course of boldly projecting blocks, sculptured in high relief, with a series of scenes which are probably incidents in the life of the defunct. These are all beautifully executed, some of the figures of animals in particular, being easily recognisable and very accurate. The general design, as far as the ruined state of the upper part will permit of its being seen, is very good, effect being given by an immense number and variety of projecting or retreating courses of squared stones in place of mouldings. The size of this structure is about thirty feet square by twenty high, and as the traveller comes suddenly upon it on a small elevation by the roadside, overshadowed by gigantic trees, overrun with plants and creepers, and closely backed by the gloomy forest, he is struck by the solemnity and picturesque beauty of the scene, and is led to ponder on the strange law of progress, which looks so like retrogression, and which in so many distant parts of the world has exterminated or driven out a highly artistic and constructive race, to make room for one which, as far as we can judge, is very far its inferior.
Few Englishmen are aware of the number and beauty of the architectural remains in Java. They have never been popularly illustrated or described, and it will therefore take most persons by surprise to learn that they far surpass those of Central America, perhaps even those of India. To give some idea of these ruins, and perchance to excite wealthy amateurs to explore them thoroughly and obtain by photography an accurate record of their beautiful sculptures before it is too late, I will enumerate the most important, as briefly described in Sir Stamford Raffles' "History of Java."
BRAMBANAM.-- Near the centre of Java, between the native capitals of Djoko-kerta and Surakerta, is the village of Brambanam, near which are abundance of ruins, the most important being the temples of Loro-Jongran and Chandi Sewa. At Loro-Jongran there were twenty separate buildings, six large and fourteen small temples. They are now a mass of ruins, but the largest temples are supposed to have been ninety feet high. They were all constructed of solid stone, everywhere decorated with carvings and bas-reliefs, and adorned with numbers of statues, many of which still remain entire. At Chandi Sewa, or the "Thousand Temples," are many fine colossal figures. Captain Baker, who surveyed these ruins, said he had never in his life seen "such stupendous and finished specimens of human labour, and of the science and taste of ages long since forgot, crowded together in so small a compass as in this spot." They cover a space of nearly six hundred feet square, and consist of an outer row of eighty- four small temples, a second row of seventy-six, a third of sixty-four, a fourth of forty-four, and the fifth forming an inner parallelogram of twenty-eight, in all two hundred and ninety-six small temples; disposed in five regular parallelograms. In the centre is a large cruciform temple surrounded by lofty flights of steps richly ornamented with sculpture, and containing many apartments. The tropical vegetation has ruined most of the smaller temples, but some remain tolerably perfect, from which the effect of the whole may be imagined.
About half a mile off is another temple, called Chandi Kali Bening, seventy-two feet square and sixty feet high, in very fine preservation, and covered with sculptures of Hindu mythology surpassing any that exist in India, other ruins of palaces, halls, and temples, with abundance of sculptured deities, are found in the same neighbourhood.
BOROBODO.-- About eighty miles westward, in the province of Kedu, is the great temple of Borobodo. It is built upon a small hill, and consists of a central dome and seven ranges of terraced walls covering the slope of the hill and forming open galleries each below the other, and communicating by steps and gateways. The central dome is fifty feet in diameter; around it is a triple circle of seventy-two towers, and the whole building is six hundred and twenty feet square, and about one hundred feet high. In the terrace walls are niches containing cross-legged figures larger than life to the number of about four hundred, and both sides of all the terrace walls are covered with bas-reliefs crowded with figures, and carved in hard stone and which must therefore occupy an extent of nearly three miles in length! The amount of human labour and skill expended on the Great Pyramid of Egypt sinks into insignificance when compared with that required to complete this sculptured hill-temple in the interior of Java.
GUNONG PRAU.-- About forty miles southwest of Samarang, on a mountain called Gunong Prau, an extensive plateau is covered with ruins. To reach these temples, four flights of stone steps were made up the mountain from opposite directions, each flight consisting of more than a thousand steps. Traces of nearly four hundred temples have been found here, and many (perhaps all) were decorated with rich and delicate sculptures. The whole country between this and Brambanam, a distance of sixty miles, abounds with ruins, so that fine sculptured images may be seen lying in the ditches, or built into the walls of enclosures.
In the eastern part of Java, at Kediri and in Malang, there are equally abundant traces of antiquity, but the buildings themselves have been mostly destroyed. Sculptured figures, however, abound; and the ruins of forts, palaces, baths, aqueducts, and temples, can be everywhere traced. It is altogether contrary to the plan of this book to describe what I have not myself seen; but, having been led to mention them, I felt bound to do something to call attention to these marvellous works of art. One is overwhelmed by the contemplation of these innumerable sculptures, worked with delicacy and artistic feeling in a hard, intractable, trachytic rock, and all found in one tropical island. What could have been the state of society, what the amount of population, what the means of subsistence which rendered such gigantic works possible, will, perhaps, ever remain a mystery; and it is a wonderful example of the power of religious ideas in social life, that in the very country where, five hundred years ago, these grand works were being yearly executed, the inhabitants now only build rude houses of bamboo and thatch, and look upon these relics of their forefathers with ignorant amazement, as the undoubted productions of giants or of demons. It is much to be regretted that the Dutch Government does not take vigorous steps for the preservation of these ruins from the destroying agency of tropical vegetation; and for the collection of the fine sculptures which are everywhere scattered over the land.
Wonosalem is situated about a thousand feet above the sea, but unfortunately it is at a distance from the forest, and is surrounded by coffee plantations, thickets of bamboo, and coarse grasses. It was too far to walk back daily to the forest, and in other directions I could find no collecting ground for insects. The place was, however, famous for peacocks, and my boy soon shot several of these magnificent birds, whose flesh we found to be tender, white, and delicate, and similar to that of a turkey. The Java peacock is a different species from that of India, the neck being covered with scale-like green feathers, and the crest of a different form; but the eyed train is equally large and equally beautiful. It is a singular fact in geographical distribution that the peacock should not be found in Sumatra or Borneo, while the superb Argus, Fire-backed and Ocellated pheasants of those islands are equally unknown in Java. Exactly parallel is the fact that in Ceylon and Southern India, where the peacock abounds, there are none of the splendid Lophophori and other gorgeous pheasants which inhabit Northern India. It would seem as if the peacock can admit of no rivals in its domain. Were these birds rare in their native country, and unknown alive in Europe, they would assuredly be considered as the true princes of the feathered tribes, and altogether unrivalled for stateliness and beauty. As it is, I suppose scarcely anyone if asked to fix upon the most beautiful bird in the world would name the peacock, any more than the Papuan savage or the Bugis trader would fix upon the bird of paradise for the same honour.
Three days after my arrival at Wonosalem, my friend Mr. Ball came to pay me a visit. He told me that two evenings before, a boy had been killed and eaten by a tiger close to Modjo-agong. He was riding on a cart drawn by bullocks, and was coming home about dusk on the main road; and when not half a mile from the village a tiger sprang upon him, carried him off into the jungle close by, and devoured him. Next morning his remains were discovered, consisting only of a few mangled bones. The Waidono had got together about seven hundred men, and were in chase of the animal, which, I afterwards heard, they found and killed. They only use spears when in pursuit of a tiger in this way. They surround a large tract of country, and draw gradually together until the animal is enclosed in a compact ring of armed men. When he sees there is no escape he generally makes a spring, and is received on a dozen spears, and almost instantly stabbed to death. The skin of an animal thus killed is, of course, worthless, and in this case the skull, which I had begged Mr. Ball to secure for me, was hacked to pieces to divide the teeth, which are worn as charms.
After a week at Wonosalem, I returned to the foot of the mountain, to a village named Djapannan, which was surrounded by several patches of forest, and seemed altogether pretty well spited to my pursuits. The chief of the village had prepared two small bamboo rooms on one side of his own courtyard to accommodate me, and seemed inclined to assist me as much as he could. The weather was exceedingly hot and dry, no rain having fallen for several months, and there was, in consequence, a great scarcity of insects, and especially of beetles. I therefore devoted myself chiefly to obtaining a good set of the birds, and succeeded in making a tolerable collection. All the peacocks we had hitherto shot had had short or imperfect tails, but I now obtained two magnificent specimens more than seven feet long, one of which I preserved entire, while I kept the train only attached to the tail of two or three others. When this bird is seen feeding on the ground, it appears wonderful how it can rise into the air with such a long and cumbersome train of feathers. It does so however with great ease, by running quickly for a short distance, and then rising obliquely; and will fly over trees of a considerable height. I also obtained here a specimen of the rare green jungle-fowl (Gallus furcatus), whose back and neck are beautifully scaled with bronzy feathers, and whose smooth-edged oval comb is of a violet purple colour, changing to green at the base. It is also remarkable in possessing a single large wattle beneath its throat, brightly coloured in three patches of red, yellow, and blue. The common jungle-cock (Gallus bankiva) was also obtained here. It is almost exactly like a common game-cock, but the voice is different, being much shorter and more abrupt; hence its native name is Bekeko. Six different kinds of woodpeckers and four kingfishers were found here, the fine hornbill, Buceros lunatus, more than four feet long, and the pretty little lorikeet, Loriculus pusillus, scarcely more than as many inches.
One morning, as I was preparing and arranging specimens, I was told there was to be a trial; and presently four or five men came in and squatted down on a mat under the audience-shed in the court. The chief then came in with his clerk, and sat down opposite them. Each spoke in turn, telling his own tale, and then I found that those who first entered were the prisoner, accuser, policemen, and witness, and that the prisoner was indicated solely by having a loose piece of cord twilled around his wrists, but not tied. It was a case of robbery, and after the evidence was given, and a few questions had been asked by the chief, the accused said a few words, and then sentence was pronounced, which was a fine. The parties then got up and walked away together, seeming quite friendly; and throughout there was nothing in the manner of any one present indicating passion or ill-feeling--a very good illustration of the Malayan type of character.
In a month's collecting at Wonosaleni and Djapannan I accumulated ninety-eight species of birds, but a most miserable lot of insects. I then determined to leave East Java and try the more moist and luxuriant districts at the western extremity of the island. I returned to Sourabaya by water, in a roomy boat which brought myself, servants, and baggage at one-fifth the expense it had cost me to come to Modjo-kerto. The river has been rendered navigable by being carefully banked up, but with the usual effect of rendering the adjacent country liable occasionally to severe floods. An immense traffic passes down this river; and at a lock we passed through, a mile of laden boats were waiting two or three deep, which pass through in their turn six at a time.
A few days afterwards I went by steamer to Batavia, where I stayed about a week at the chief hotel, while I made arrangements for a trip into the interior. The business part of the city is near the harbour, but the hotels and all the residences of the officials and European merchants are in a suburb two miles off, laid out in wide streets and squares so as to cover a great extent of ground. This is very inconvenient for visitors, as the only public conveyances are handsome two-horse carriages, whose lowest charge is five guilders (8s. 4d.) for half a day, so that an hour's business in the morning and a visit in the evening costs 16s. 8d. a day for carriage hire alone.
|PORTRAIT OF JAVANESE CHIEF
Batavia agrees very well with Mr. Money's graphic account of it, except that his "clear canals" were all muddy, and his "smooth gravel drives" up to the houses were one and all formed of coarse pebbles, very painful to walk upon, and hardly explained by the fact that in Batavia everybody drives, as it can hardly be supposed that people never walk in their gardens. The Hôtel des Indes was very comfortable, each visitor having a sitting-room and bedroom opening on a verandah, where he can take his morning coffee and afternoon tea. In the centre of the quadrangle is a building containing a number of marble baths always ready for use; and there is an excellent table d'hôte breakfast at ten, and dinner at six, for all which there is a moderate charge per day.
I went by coach to Buitenzorg, forty miles inland and about a thousand feet above the sea, celebrated for its delicious climate and its Botanical Gardens. With the latter I was somewhat disappointed. The walks were all of loose pebbles, making any lengthened wanderings about them very tiring and painful under a tropical sun. The gardens are no doubt wonderfully rich in tropical and especially in Malayan plants, but there is a great absence of skillful laying-out; there are not enough men to keep the place thoroughly in order, and the plants themselves are seldom to be compared for luxuriance and beauty to the same species grown in our hothouses. This can easily be explained. The plants can rarely be placed in natural or very favourable conditions. The climate is either too hot or too cool, too moist or too dry, for a large proportion of them, and they seldom get the exact quantity of shade or the right quality of soil to suit them. In our stoves these varied conditions can be supplied to each individual plant far better than in a large garden, where the fact that the plants are most of them growing in or near their native country is supposed to preclude, the necessity of giving them much individual attention. Still, however, there is much to admire here. There are avenues of stately palms, and clumps of bamboos of perhaps fifty different kinds; and an endless variety of tropical shrubs and trees with strange and beautiful foliage. As a change from the excessive heat of Batavia, Buitenzorg is a delightful abode. It is just elevated enough to have deliciously cool evenings and nights, but not so much as to require any change of clothing; and to a person long resident in the hotter climate of the plains, the air is always fresh and pleasant, and admits of walking at almost any hour of the day. The vicinity is most picturesque and luxuriant, and the great volcano of Gunung Salak, with its truncated and jagged summit, forms a characteristic background to many of the landscapes. A great mud eruption took place in 1699, since which date the mountain has been entirely inactive.
On leaving Buitenzorg, I had coolies to carry my baggage and a horse for myself, both to be changed every six or seven miles. The road rose gradually, and after the first stage the hills closed in a little on each side, forming a broad valley; and the temperature was so cool and agreeable, and the country so interesting, that I preferred walking. Native villages imbedded in fruit trees, and pretty villas inhabited by planters or retired Dutch officials, gave this district a very pleasing and civilized aspect; but what most attracted my attention was the system of terrace-cultivation, which is here universally adopted, and which is, I should think, hardly equalled in the world. The slopes of the main valley, and of its branches, were everywhere cut in terraces up to a considerable height, and when they wound round the recesses of the hills produced all the effect of magnificent amphitheatres. Hundreds of square miles of country are thus terraced, and convey a striking idea of the industry of the people and the antiquity of their civilization. These terraces are extended year by year as the population increases, by the inhabitants of each village working in concert under the direction of their chiefs; and it is perhaps by this system of village culture alone, that such extensive terracing and irrigation has been rendered possible. It was probably introduced by the Brahmins from India, since in those Malay countries where there is no trace of a previous occupation by a civilized people, the terrace system is unknown. I first saw this mode of cultivation in Bali and Lombock, and, as I shall have to describe it in some detail there (see Chapter X.), I need say no more about it in this place, except that, owing to the finer outlines and greater luxuriance of the country in West Java, it produces there the most striking and picturesque effect. The lower slopes of the mountains in Java possess such a delightful climate and luxuriant soil; living is so cheap and life and property are so secure, that a considerable number of Europeans who have been engaged in Government service, settle permanently in the country instead of returning to Europe. They are scattered everywhere throughout the more accessible parts of the island, and tend greatly to the gradual improvement of the native population, and to the continued peace and prosperity of the whole country.
Twenty miles beyond Buitenzorg the post road passes over the Megamendong Mountain, at an elevation of about 4,500 feet. The country is finely mountainous, and there is much virgin forest still left upon the hills, together with some of the oldest coffee-plantations in Java, where the plants have attained almost the dimensions of forest trees. About 500 feet below the summit level of the pass there is a road-keeper's hut, half of which I hired for a fortnight, as the country looked promising for making collections. I almost immediately found that the productions of West Java were remarkably different from those of the eastern part of the island; and that all the more remarkable and characteristic Javanese birds and insects were to be found here. On the very first day, my hunters obtained for me the elegant yellow and green trogon (Harpactes Reinwardti), the gorgeous little minivet flycatcher (Pericrocotus miniatus), which looks like a flame of fire as it flutters among the bushes, and the rare and curious black and crimson oriole (Analcipus sanguinolentus), all of these species which are found only in Java, and even seem to be confined to its western portion.
In a week I obtained no less than twenty-four species of birds, which I had not found in the east of the island, and in a fortnight this number increased to forty species, almost all of which are peculiar to the Javanese fauna. Large and handsome butterflies were also tolerably abundant. In dark ravines, and occasionally on the roadside, I captured the superb Papilio arjuna, whose wings seem powdered with grains of golden green, condensed into bands and moon-shaped spots; while the elegantly- formed Papilio coon was sometimes to be found fluttering slowly along the shady pathways (see figure at page 201). One day a boy brought me a butterfly between his fingers, perfectly unhurt. He had caught it as it was sitting with wings erect, sucking up the liquid from a muddy spot by the roadside. Many of the finest tropical butterflies have this habit, and they are generally so intent upon their meal that they can be easily be reached and captured. It proved to be the rare and curious Charaxes kadenii, remarkable for having on each hind wing two curved tails like a pair of callipers. It was the only specimen I ever saw, and is still the only representative of its kind in English collections.
In the east of Java I had suffered from the intense heat and drought of the dry season, which had been very inimical to insect life. Here I had got into the other extreme of damp, wet, and cloudy weather, which was equally unfavourable. During the month which I spent in the interior of West Java, I never had a really hot fine, day throughout. It rained almost every afternoon, or dense mists came down from the mountains, which equally stopped collecting, and rendered it most difficult to dry my specimens, so that I really had no chance of getting a fair sample of Javanese entomology.|
By far the most interesting incident in my visit to Java was a trip to the summit of the Pangerango and Gedeh mountains; the former an extinct volcanic cone about 10,000 feet high, the latter an active crater on a lower portion of the same mountain range. Tchipanas, about four miles over the Megamendong Pass, is at the foot of the mountain. A small country house for the Governor-General and a branch of the Botanic Gardens are situated here, the keeper of which accommodated me with a bed for a night. There are many beautiful trees and shrubs planted here, and large quantities of European vegetables are grown for the Governor- General's table. By the side of a little torrent that bordered the garden, quantities of orchids were cultivated, attached to the trunks of trees, or suspended from the branches, forming an interesting open air orchid-house. As I intended to stay two or three nights on the mountain, I engaged two coolies to carry my baggage, and with my two hunters we started early the next morning.
The first mile was over open country, which brought us to the forest that covers the whole mountain from a height of about 5,000 feet. The next mile or two was a tolerably steep ascent through a grand virgin forest, the trees being of great size, and the undergrowth consisting of fine herbaceous plants, tree-ferns, and shrubby vegetation. I was struck by the immense number of ferns that grew by the side of the road. Their variety seemed endless, and I was continually stopping to admire some new and interesting forms. I could now well understand what I had been told by the gardener, that 300 species had been found on this one mountain. A little before noon we reached the small plateau of Tjiburong, at the foot of the steeper part of the mountain, where there is a plank-house for the accommodation of travellers. Close by is a picturesque waterfall and a curious cavern, which I had not time to explore. Continuing our ascent the road became narrow, rugged and steep, winding zigzag up the cone, which is covered with irregular masses of rock, and overgrown with a dense luxuriant but less lofty vegetation. We passed a torrent of water which is not much lower than the boiling point, and has a most singular appearance as it foams over its rugged bed, sending up clouds of steam, and often concealed by the overhanging herbage of ferns and lycopodia, which here thrive with more luxuriance than elsewhere.
At about 7,500 feet we came to another hut of open bamboos, at a place called Kandang Badak, or "Rhinoceros-field," which we were going to make our temporary abode. Here was a small clearing, with abundance of tree-ferns and some young plantations of Cinchona. As there was now a thick mist and drizzling rain, I did not attempt to go on to the summit that evening, but made two visits to it during my stay, as well as one to the active crater of Gedeh. This is a vast semicircular chasm, bounded by black perpendicular walls of rock, and surrounded by miles of rugged scoria-covered slopes. The crater itself is not very deep. It exhibits patches of sulphur and variously-coloured volcanic products, and emits from several vents continual streams of smoke and vapour. The extinct cone of Pangerango was to me more interesting. The summit is an irregular undulating plain with a low bordering ridge, and one deep lateral chasm. Unfortunately, there was perpetual mist and rain either above or below us all the time I was on the mountain; so that I never once saw the plain below, or had a glimpse of the magnificent view which in fine weather is to be obtained from its summit. Notwithstanding this drawback I enjoyed the excursion exceedingly, for it was the first time I had been high enough on a mountain near the Equator to watch the change from a tropical to a temperate flora. I will now briefly sketch these changes as I observed them in Java.
On ascending the mountain, we first meet with temperate forms of herbaceous plants, so low as 3,000 feet, where strawberries and violets begin to grow, but the former are tasteless, and the latter have very small and pale flowers. Weedy composites also begin to give a European aspect to the wayside herbage. It is between 2,000 and 5,000 feet that the forests and ravines exhibit the utmost development of tropical luxuriance and beauty. The abundance of noble Tree-ferns, sometimes fifty feet high, contributes greatly to the general effect, since of all the forms of tropical vegetation they are certainly the most striking and beautiful. Some of the deep ravines which have been cleared of large timber are full of them from top to bottom; and where the road crosses one of these valleys, the view of their feathery crowns, in varied positions above and below the eye, offers a spectacle of picturesque beauty never to be forgotten. The splendid foliage of the broad-leaved Musceae and Zingiberaceae, with their curious and brilliant flowers; and the elegant and varied forms of plants allied to Begonia and Melastoma, continually attract the attention in this region. Filling in the spaces between the trees and larger plants, on every trunk and stump and branch, are hosts of Orchids, Ferns and Lycopods, which wave and hang and intertwine in ever-varying complexity. At about 5,000 feet I first saw horsetails (Equisetum), very like our own species. At 6,000 feet, raspberries abound, and thence to the summit of the mountain there are three species of eatable Rubus. At 7,000 feet Cypresses appear, and the forest trees become reduced in size, and more covered with mosses and lichens. From this point upward these rapidly increase, so that the blocks of rock and scoria that form the mountain slope are completely hidden in a mossy vegetation. At about 5,000 feet European forms of plants become abundant. Several species of Honeysuckle, St. John's-wort, and Guelder-rose abound, and at about 9,000 feet we first meet with the rare and beautiful Royal Cowslip (Primula imperialis), which is said to be found nowhere else in the world but on this solitary mountain summit. It has a tall, stout stem, sometimes more than three feet high, the root leaves are eighteen inches long, and it bears several whorls of cowslip-like flowers, instead of a terminal cluster only. The forest trees, gnarled and dwarfed to the dimensions of bushes, reach up to the very rim of the old crater, but do not extend over the hollow on its summit. Here we find a good deal of open ground, with thickets of shrubby Artemisias and Gnaphaliums, like our southernwood and cudweed, but six or eight feet high; while Buttercups, Violets, Whortleberries, Sow-thistles, Chickweed, white and yellow Cruciferae Plantain, and annual grasses everywhere abound. Where there are bushes and shrubs, the St. John's-wort and Honeysuckle grow abundantly, while the Imperial Cowslip only exhibits its elegant blossoms under the damp shade of the thickets.
Mr. Motley, who visited the mountain in the dry season, and paid much attention to botany, gives the following list of genera of European plants found on or near the summit: Two species of Violet, three of Ranunculus, three of Impatiens, eight or ten of Rubus, and species of Primula, Hypericum, Swertia, Convallaria (Lily of the Valley), Vaccinium (Cranberry), Rhododendron, Gnaphalium, Polygonum, Digitalis (Foxglove), Lonicera (Honey- suckle), Plantago (Rib-grass), Artemisia (Wormwood), Lobelia, Oxalis (Wood-sorrel), Quercus (Oak), and Taxus (Yew). A few of the smaller plants (Plantago major and lanceolata, Sonchus oleraceus, and Artemisia vulgaris) are identical with European species.
The fact of a vegetation so closely allied to that of Europe occurring on isolated mountain peaks, in an island south of the Equator, while all the lowlands for thousands of miles around are occupied by a flora of a totally different character, is very extraordinary; and has only recently received an intelligible explanation. The Peak of Teneriffe, which rises to a greater height and is much nearer to Europe, contains no such Alpine flora; neither do the mountains of Bourbon and Mauritius. The case of the volcanic peaks of Java is therefore somewhat exceptional, but there are several analogous, if not exactly parallel cases, that will enable us better to understand in what way the phenomena may possibly have been brought about.
The higher peaks of the Alps, and even of the Pyrenees, contain a number of plants absolutely identical with those of Lapland, but nowhere found in the intervening plains. On the summit of the White Mountains, in the United States, every plant is identical with species growing in Labrador. In these cases all ordinary means of transport fail. Most of the plants have heavy seeds, which could not possibly be carried such immense distances by the wind; and the agency of birds in so effectually stocking these Alpine heights is equally out of the question. The difficulty was so great, that some naturalists were driven to believe that these species were all separately created twice over on these distant peaks. The determination of a recent glacial epoch, however, soon offered a much more satisfactory solution, and one that is now universally accepted by men of science. At this period, when the mountains of Wales were full of glaciers, and the mountainous parts of Central Europe, and much of America north of the great lakes, were covered with snow and ice, and had a climate resembling that of Labrador and Greenland at the present day, an Arctic flora covered all these regions. As this epoch of cold passed away, and the snowy mantle of the country, with the glaciers that descended from every mountain summit, receded up their slopes and towards the north pole, the plants receded also, always clinging as now to the margins of the perpetual snow line. Thus it is that the same species are now found on the summits of the mountains of temperate Europe and America, and in the barren north-polar regions.
But there is another set of facts, which help us on another step towards the case of the Javanese mountain flora. On the higher slopes of the Himalayas, on the tops of the mountains of Central India and of Abyssinia, a number of plants occur which, though not identical with those of European mountains, belong to the same genera, and are said by botanists to represent them; and most of these could not exist in the warm intervening plains. Mr. Darwin believes that this class of facts can be explained in the same way; for, during the greatest severity of the glacial epoch, temperate forms of plants will have extended to the confines of the tropics, and on its departure, will have retreated up these southern mountains, as well as northward to the plains and hills of Europe. But in this case, the time elapsed, and the great change of conditions, have allowed many of these plants to become so modified that we now consider them to be distinct species. A variety of other facts of a similar nature have led him to believe that the depression of temperature was at one time sufficient to allow a few north-temperate plants to cross the Equator (by the most elevated routes) and to reach the Antarctic regions, where they are now found. The evidence on which this belief rests will be found in the latter part of Chapter II. of the "Origin of Species"; and, accepting it for the present as an hypothesis, it enables us to account for the presence of a flora of European type on the volcanoes of Java.
It will, however, naturally be objected that there is a wide expanse of sea between Java and the continent, which would have effectually prevented the immigration of temperate fortes of plants during the glacial epoch. This would undoubtedly be a fatal objection, were there not abundant evidence to show that Java has been formerly connected with Asia, and that the union must have occurred at about the epoch required. The most striking proof of such a junction is, that the great Mammalia of Java, the rhinoceros, the tiger, and the Banteng or wild ox, occur also in Siam and Burmah, and these would certainly not have been introduced by man. The Javanese peacock and several other birds are also common to these two countries; but, in the majority of cases, the species are distinct, though closely allied, indicating that a considerable time (required for such modification) has elapsed since the separation, while it has not been so long as to cause an entire change. Now this exactly corresponds with the time we should require since the temperate forms of plants entered Java. These are now almost distinct species, but the changed conditions under which they are now forced to exist, and the probability of some of them having since died out on the continent of India, sufficiently accounts for the Javanese species being different. [footnote: I have now arrived at another explanation of these and analogous facts, and one which seems to me more complete and less improbable. (See my Island Life, chapter xxiii, and Darwinism, pp.362-373.)]
In my more special pursuits, I had very little success upon the mountain--owing, perhaps, to the excessively unpropitious weather and the shortness of my stay. At from 7,000 to 8,000 feet elevation, I obtained one of almost lovely of the small Fruit pigeons (Ptilonopus roseicollis), whose entire head and neck are of an exquisite rosy pink colour, contrasting finely with its otherwise blue plumage; and on the very summit, feeding on the ground among the strawberries that have been planted there, I obtained a dull-coloured thrush, with the form and habits of a starling (Turdus fumidus). Insects were almost entirely absent, owing no doubt to the extreme dampness, and I did not get a single butterfly the whole trip; yet I feel sure that, during the dry season, a week's residence on this mountain would well repay the collector in every department of natural history.
After my return to Toego, I endeavoured to find another locality to collect in, and removed to a coffee-plantation some miles to the north, and tried in succession higher and lower stations on the mountain; but, I never succeeded in obtaining insects in any abundance and birds were far less plentiful than on the Megamendong Mountan. The weather now became more rainy than ever, and as the wet season seemed to have set in in earnest, I returned to Batavia, packed up and sent off my collections, and left by steamer on November 1st for Banca and Sumatra.
(NOVEMBER 1861 to JANUARY 1862)
The mail steamer from Batavia to Singapore took me to Muntok (or as on English maps, "Minto"), the chief town and port of Banca. Here I stayed a day or two, until I could obtain a boat to take me across the straits, and all the river to Palembang. A few walks into the country showed me that it was very hilly, and full of granitic and laterite rocks, with a dry and stunted forest vegetation; and I could find very few insects. A good-sized open sailing-boat took me across to the mouth of the Palembang river where, at a fishing village, a rowing-boat was hired to take me up to Palembang--a distance of nearly a hundred miles by water. Except when the wind was strong and favourable we could only proceed with the tide, and the banks of the river were generally flooded Nipa-swamps, so that the hours we were obliged to lay at anchor passed very heavily. Reaching Palembang on the 8th of November, I was lodged by the Doctor, to whom I had brought a letter of introduction, and endeavoured to ascertain where I could find a good locality for collecting. Everyone assured me that I should have to go a very long way further to find any dry forest, for at this season the whole country for many miles inland was flooded. I therefore had to stay a week at Palembang before I could determine my future movements.
The city is a large one, extending for three or four miles along a fine curve of the river, which is as wide as the Thames at Greenwich. The stream is, however, much narrowed by the houses which project into it upon piles, and within these, again, there is a row of houses built upon great bamboo rafts, which are moored by rattan cables to the shore or to piles, and rise and fall with the tide.
The whole riverfront on both sides is chiefly formed of such houses, and they are mostly shops open to the water, and only raised a foot above it, so that by taking a small boat it is easy to go to market and purchase anything that is to be had in Palembang. The natives are true Malays, never building a house on dry land if they can find water to set it in, and never going anywhere on foot if they can reach the place in a heat. A considerable portion of the population are Chinese and Arabs, who carry on all the trade; while the only Europeans are the civil and military officials of the Dutch Government. The town is situated at the head of the delta of the river, and between it and the sea there is very little ground elevated above highwater mark; while for many miles further inland, the banks of the main stream and its numerous tributaries are swampy, and in the wet season hooded for a considerable distance. Palembang is built on a patch of elevated ground, a few miles in extent, on the north bank of the river. At a spot about three miles from the town this turns into a little hill, the top of which is held sacred by the natives, shaded by some fine trees,and inhabited by a colony of squirrels which have become half-tame. On holding out a few crumbs of bread or any fruit, they come running down the trunk, take the morsel out of your fingers, and dart away instantly. Their tails are carried erect, and the hair, which is ringed with grey, yellow, and brown, radiates uniformly around them, and looks exceedingly pretty. They have somewhat of the motions of mice, coming on with little starts, and gazing intently with their large black eyes before venturing to advance further. The manner in which Malays often obtain the confidence of wild animals is a very pleasing trait in their character, and is due in some degree to the quiet deliberation of their manners, and their love of repose rather than of action. The young are obedient to the wishes of their elders, and seem to feel none of that propensity to mischief which European boys exhibit. How long would tame squirrels continue to inhabit trees in the vicinity of an English village, even if close to the church? They would soon be pelted and driven away, or snared and confined in a whirling cage. I have never heard of these pretty animals being tamed in this way in England, but I should think it might be easily done in any gentleman's park, and they would certainly be as pleasing and attractive as they would be uncommon.
After many inquiries, I found that a day's journey by water above Palembang there commenced a military road which extended up to the mountains and even across to Bencoolen, and I determined to take this route and travel on until I found some tolerable collecting ground. By this means I should secure dry land and a good road, and avoid the rivers, which at this season are very tedious to ascend owing to the powerful currents, and very unproductive to the collector owing to most of the lands in their vicinity being underwater. Leaving early in the morning we did not reach Lorok, the village where the road begins, until late at night. I stayed there a few days, but found that most all the ground in the vicinity not underwater was cultivated, and that the only forest was in swamps which were now inaccessible. The only bird new to me which I obtained at Lorok was the fine long- tailed parroquet (Palaeornis longicauda). The people here assured me that the country was just the same as this for a very long way--more than a week's journey, and they seemed hardly to have any conception of an elevated forest-clad country, so that I began to think it would be useless going on, as the time at my disposal was too short to make it worth my while to spend much more of it in moving about. At length, however, I found a man who knew the country, and was more intelligent; and he at once told me that if I wanted forest I must go to the district of Rembang, which I found on inquiry was about twenty-five or thirty miles off.
CHIEF'S HOUSE AND RICE SHED IN A SUMATRAN VILLAGE
The road is divided into regular stages of ten or twelve miles each, and, without sending on in advance to have coolies ready, only this distance can be travelled in a day. At each station there are houses for the accommodation of passengers, with cooking-house and stables, and six or eight men always on guard. There is an established system for coolies at fixed rates, the inhabitants of the surrounding villages all taking their turn to be subject to coolie service, as well as that of guards at the station for five days at a time. This arrangement makes travelling very easy, and was a great convenience for me. I had a pleasant walk of ten or twelve miles in the morning, and the rest of the day could stroll about and explore the village and neighbourhood, having a house ready to occupy without any formalities whatever. In three days I reached Moera-dua, the first village in Rembang, and finding the country dry and undulating, with a good sprinkling of forest, I determined to remain a short time and try the neighbourhood. Just opposite the station was a small but deep river, and a good bathing-place; and beyond the village was a fine patch of forest, through which the road passed, overshadowed by magnificent trees, which partly tempted me to stay; but after a fortnight I could find no good place for insects, and very few birds different from the common species of Malacca. I therefore moved on another stage to Lobo Raman, where the guard-house is situated quite by itself in the forest, nearly a mile from each of three villages. This was very agreeable to me, as I could move about without having every motion watched by crowds of men, women and children, and I had also a much greater variety of walks to each of the villages and the plantations around them.|
The villages of the Sumatran Malays are somewhat peculiar and very picturesque. A space of some acres is surrounded with a high fence, and over this area the houses are thickly strewn without the least attempt at regularity. Tall cocoa-nut trees grow abundantly between them, and the ground is bare and smooth with the trampling of many feet. The houses are raised about six feet on posts, the best being entirely built of planks, others of bamboo. The former are always more or less ornamented with carving and have high-pitched roofs and overhanging eaves. The gable ends and all the chief posts and beams are sometimes covered with exceedingly tasteful carved work, and this is still more the case in the district of Menangkabo, further west. The floor is made of split bamboo, and is rather shaky, and there is no sign of anything we should call furniture. There are no benches or chairs or stools, but merely the level floor covered with mats, on which the inmates sit or lie. The aspect of the village itself is very neat, the ground being often swept before the chief houses; but very bad odours abound, owing to there being under every house a stinking mud-hole, formed by all waste liquids and refuse matter, poured down through the floor above. In most other things Malays are tolerably clean--in some scrupulously so; and this peculiar and nasty custom, which is almost universal, arises, I have little doubt, from their having been originally a maritime and water-loving people, who built their houses on posts in the water, and only migrated gradually inland, first up the rivers and streams, and then into the dry interior. Habits which were at once so convenient and so cleanly, and which had been so long practised as to become a portion of the domestic life of the nation, were of course continued when the first settlers built their houses inland; and without a regular system of drainage, the arrangement of the villages is such that any other system would be very inconvenient.
In all these Sumatran villages I found considerable difficulty in getting anything to eat. It was not the season for vegetables, and when, after much trouble, I managed to procure some yams of a curious variety, I found them hard and scarcely eatable. Fowls were very scarce; and fruit was reduced to one of the poorest kinds of banana. The natives (during the wet season at least) live exclusively on rice, as the poorer Irish do on potatoes. A pot of rice cooked very dry and eaten with salt and red peppers, twice a day, forms their entire food during a large part of the year. This is no sign of poverty, but is simply custom; for their wives and children are loaded with silver armlets from wrist to elbow, and carry dozens of silver coins strung round their necks or suspended from their ears.
As I had moved away from Palembang, I had found the Malay spoken by the common people less and less pure, until at length it became quite unintelligible, although the continual recurrence of many well-known words assured me it was a form of Malay, and enabled me to guess at the main subject of conversation. This district had a very bad reputation a few years ago, and travellers were frequently robbed and murdered. Fights between village and village were also of frequent occurrence, and many lives were lost, owing to disputes about boundaries or intrigues with women. Now, however, since the country has been divided into districts under "Controlleurs," who visit every village in turn to hear complaints and settle disputes, such things are heard of no more. This is one of the numerous examples I have met with of the good effects of the Dutch Government. It exercises a strict surveillance over its most distant possessions, establishes a form of government well adapted to the character of the people, reforms abuses, punishes crimes, and makes itself everywhere respected by the native population.
Lobo Raman is a central point of the east end of Sumatra, being about a hundred and twenty miles from the sea to the east, north, and west. The surface is undulating, with no mountains or even hills, and there is no rock, the soil being generally a red pliable clay. Numbers of small streams and rivers intersect the country, and it is pretty equally divided between open clearings and patches of forest, both virgin and second growth, with abundance of fruit trees; and there is no lack of paths to get about in any direction. Altogether it is the very country that would promise most for a naturalist, and I feel sure that at a more favourable time of year it would prove exceedingly rich; but it was now the rainy season, when, in the very best of localities, insects are always scarce, and there being no fruit on the trees, there was also a scarcity of birds. During a month's collecting, I added only three or four new species to my list of birds, although I obtained very fine specimens of many which were rare and interesting. In butterflies I was rather more successful, obtaining several fine species quite new to me, and a considerable number of very rare and beautiful insects. I will give here some account of two species of butterflies, which, though very common in collections, present us with peculiarities of the highest interest.
DIFFERENT FEMALES OF PAPILIO MEMNON
The first is the handsome Papilio memnon, a splendid butterfly of a deep black colour, dotted over with lines and groups of scales of a clear ashy blue. Its wings are five inches in expanse, and the hind wings are rounded, with scalloped edges. This applies to the males; but the females are very different, and vary so much that they were once supposed to form several distinct species. They may be divided into two groups--those which resemble the male in shape, and, those which differ entirely from him in the outline of the wings. The first vary much in colour, being often nearly white with dusky yellow and red markings, but such differences often occur in butterflies. The second group are much more extraordinary, and would never be supposed to be the same insect, since the hind wings are lengthened out into large spoon- shaped tails, no rudiment of which is ever to be perceived in the males or in the ordinary form of females. These tailed females are never of the dark and blue-glossed tints which prevail in the male and often occur in the females of the same form, but are invariably ornamented with stripes and patches of white or buff, occupying the larger part of the surface of the hind wings. This peculiarity of colouring led me to discover that this extraordinary female closely resembles (when flying) another butterfly of the same genus but of a different group (Papilio coön), and that we have here a case of mimicry similar to those so well illustrated and explained by Mr. Bates.[footnote: Trans. Linn. Soc. vol. xviii. p. 495; Naturalist on the Amazons, vol. i. p. 290.] That the resemblance is not accidental is sufficiently proved by the fact, that in the North of India, where Papilio coön is replaced by all allied forms, (Papilio Doubledayi) having red spots in place of yellow, a closely-allied species or variety of Papilio memnon (P. androgens) has the tailed female also red spotted. The use and reason of this resemblance appears to be that the butterflies imitated belong to a section of the genus Papilio which from some cause or other are not attacked by birds, and by so closely resembling these in form and colour the female of Memnon and its ally, also escape persecution. Two other species of this same section (Papilio antiphus and Papilio polyphontes) are so closely imitated by two female forms of Papilio tbeseus (which comes in the same section with Memnon), that they completely deceived the Dutch entomologist De Haan, and he accordingly classed them as the same species!|
But the most curious fact connected with these distinct forms is that they are both the offspring of either form. A single brood of larva were bred in Java by a Dutch entomologist, and produced males as well as tailed and tailless females, and there is every reason to believe that this is always the case, and that forms intermediate in character never occur. To illustrate these phenomena, let us suppose a roaming Englishman in some remote island to have two wives--one a black-haired/ red-skinned Indian, the other a woolly-headed/ sooty-skinned negress; and that instead of the children being mulattoes of brown or dusky tints, mingling the characteristics of each parent in varying degrees, all the boys should be as fair-skinned and blue-eyed as their father, while the girls should altogether resemble their mothers. This would be thought strange enough, but the case of these butterflies is yet more extraordinary, for each mother is capable not only of producing male offspring like the father, and female like herself, but also other females like her fellow wife, and altogether differing from herself!|
The other species to which I have to direct attention is the Kallima paralekta, a butterfly of the same family group as our Purple Emperor, and of about the same size or larger. Its upper surface is of a rich purple, variously tinged with ash colour, and across the forewings there is a broad bar of deep orange, so that when on the wing it is very conspicuous. This species was not uncommon in dry woods and thickets, and I often endeavoured to capture it without success, for after flying a short distance it would enter a bush among dry or dead leaves, and however carefully I crept up to the spot I could never discover it until it would suddenly start out again and then disappear in a similar place. If at length I was fortunate enough to see the exact spot where the butterfly settled, and though I lost sight of it for some time, I would discover that it was close before my eyes, but that in its position of repose it so closely resembled a dead leaf attached to a twig as almost certainly to deceive the eye even when gazing full upon it. I captured several specimens on the wing, and was able fully to understand the way in which this wonderful resemblance is produced.
The end of the upper wings terminates in a fine point, just as the leaves of many tropical shrubs and trees are pointed, while the lower wings are somewhat more obtuse, and are lengthened out into a short thick tail. Between these two points there runs a dark curved line exactly representing the midrib of a leaf, and from this radiate on each side a few oblique marks which well imitate the lateral veins. These marks are more clearly seen on the outer portion of the base of the wings, and on the innerside towards the middle and apex, and they are produced by striae and markings which are very common in allied species, but which are here modified and strengthened so as to imitate more exactly the venation of a leaf. The tint of the undersurface varies much, but it is always some ashy brown or reddish colour, which matches with those of dead leaves. The habit of the species is always to rest on a twig and among dead or dry leaves, and in this position with the wings closely pressed together, their outline is exactly that of a moderately-sized leaf, slightly curved or shrivelled. The tail of the hind wings forms a perfect stalk, and touches the stick while the insect is supported by the middle pair of legs, which are not noticed among the twigs and fibres that surround it. The head and antennae are drawn back between the wings so as to be quite concealed, and there is a little notch hollowed out at the very base of the wings, which allows the head to be retracted sufficiently. All these varied details combine to produce a disguise that is so complete and marvellous as to astonish everyone who observes it; and the habits of the insects are such as to utilize all these peculiarities, and render them available in such a manner as to remove all doubt of the purpose of this singular case of mimicry, which is undoubtedly a protection to the insect.
LEAF BUTTERFLY IN FLIGHT AND REPOSE
Its strong and swift flight is sufficient to save it from its enemies when on the wing, but if it were equally conspicuous when at rest it could not long escape extinction, owing to the attacks of the insectivorous birds and reptiles that abound in the tropical forests. A very closely allied species, Kallima inachis, inhabits India, where it is very common, and specimens are sent in every collection from the Himalayas. On examining a number of these, it will be seen that no two are alike, but all the variations correspond to those of dead leaves. Every tint of yellow, ash, brown, and red is found here, and in many specimens there occur patches and spots formed of small black dots, so closely resembling the way in which minute fungi grow on leaves that it is almost impossible at first not to believe that fungi have gown on the butterflies themselves!|
If such an extraordinary adaptation as this stood alone, it would be very difficult to offer any explanation of it; but although it is perhaps the most perfect case of protective imitation known, there are hundreds of similar resemblances in nature, and from these it is possible to deduce a general theory of the manner in which they have been slowly brought about. The principle of variation and that of "natural selection," or survival of the fittest, as elaborated by Mr. Darwin in his celebrated "Origin of Species," offers the foundation for such a theory; and I have myself endeavoured to apply it to all the chief cases of imitation in an article published in the "Westminster Review" for 1867, entitled, "Mimicry, and other Protective Resemblances Among Animals," to which any reader is referred who wishes to know more about this subject. [footnote: This article forms the third chapter of my Natural Selection and Tropical Nature.]
In Sumatra, monkeys are very abundant, and at Lobo Kaman they used to frequent the trees which overhang the guard-house, and give me a fine opportunity of observing their gambols. Two species of Semnopithecus were most plentiful--monkeys of a slender form, with very long tails. Not being much shot at they are rather bold, and remain quite unconcerned when natives alone are present; but when I came out to look at them, they would stare for a minute or two and then make off. They take tremendous leaps from the branches of one tree to those at another a little lower, and it is very amusing when a one strong leader takes a bold jump, to see the others following with more or less trepidation; and it often happens that one or two of the last seem quite unable to make up their minds to leap until the rest are disappearing, when, as if in desperation at being left alone, they throw themselves frantically into the air, and often go crashing through the slender branches and fall to the ground.
A very curious ape, the Siamang, was also rather abundant, but it is much less bold than the monkeys, keeping to the virgin forests and avoiding villages. This species is allied to the little long- armed apes of the genus Hylobates, but is considerably larger, and differs from them by having the two first fingers of the feet united together, nearly to the endm as does its Latin native, Siamanga syndactyla. It moves much more slowly than the active Hylobates, keeping lower down in trees, and not indulging in such tremendous leaps; but it is still very active, and by means of its immense long arms, five feet six inches across in an adult about three feet high, can swing itself along among the trees at a great rate. I purchased a small one, which had been caught by the natives and tied up so tightly as to hurt it. It was rather savage at first, and tried to bite; but when we had released it and given it two poles under the verandah to hang upon, securing it by a short cord, running along the pole with a ring so that it could move easily, it became more contented, and would swing itself about with great rapidity. It ate almost any kind of fruit and rice, and I was in hopes to have brought it to England, but it died just before I started. It took a dislike to me at first, which I tried to get over by feeding it constantly myself. One day, however, it bit me so sharply while giving it food, that I lost patience and gave it rather a severe beating, which I regretted afterwards, as from that time it disliked me more than ever. It would allow my Malay boys to play with it, and for hours together would swing by its arms from pole to pole and on to the rafters of the verandah, with so much ease and rapidity, that it was a constant source of amusement to us. When I returned to Singapore it attracted great attention, as no one had seen a Siamang alive before, although it is not uncommon in some parts of the Malay peninsula.
As the Orangutan is known to inhabit Sumatra, and was in fact first discovered there, I made many inquiries about it; but none of the natives had ever heard of such an animal, nor could I find any of the Dutch officials who knew anything about it. We may conclude, therefore, that it does not inhabit the great forest plains in the east of Sumatra where one would naturally expect to find it, but is probably confined to a limited region in the northwest part of the island entirely in the hands of native rulers. The other great Mammalia of Sumatra, the elephant and the rhinoceros, are more widely distributed; but the former is much more scarce than it was a few years ago, and seems to retire rapidly before the spread of cultivation. Lobo Kaman tusks and bones are occasionally found about in the forest, but the living animal is now never seen. The rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sumatranus) still abounds, and I continually saw its tracks and its dung, and once disturbed one feeding, which went crashing away through the jungle, only permitting me a momentary glimpse of it through the dense underwood. I obtained a tolerably perfect cranium, and a number of teeth, which were picked up by the natives.
Another curious animal, which I had met with in Singapore and in Borneo, but which was more abundant here, is the Galeopithecus, or flying lemur. This creature has a broad membrane extending all aound its body to the extremities of the toes, and to the point of the rather long tail. This enables it to pass obliquely through the air from one tree to another. It is sluggish in its motions, at least by day, going up a tree by short runs of a few feet, and then stopping a moment as if the action was difficult. It rests during the day clinging to the trunks of trees, where its olive or brown fur, mottled with irregular whitish spots and blotches, resembles closely the colour of mottled bark, and no doubt helps to protect it. Once, in a bright twilight, I saw one of these animals run up a trunk in a rather open place, and then glide obliquely through the air to another tree, on which it alighted near its base, and immediately began to ascend. I paced the distance from the one tree to the other, and found it to be seventy yards; and the amount of descent I estimated at not more than thirty-five or forty feet, or less than one in five. This I think proves that the animal must have some power of guiding itself through the air, otherwise in so long a distance it would have little chance of alighting exactly upon the trunk. Like the Cuscus of the Moluccas, the Galeopithecus feeds chiefly on leaves, and possesses a very voluminous stomach and long convoluted intestines. The brain is very small, and the animal possesses such remarkable tenacity of life, that it is exceedingly difficult to kill it by any ordinary means. The tail is prehensile; and is probably made use of as an additional support while feeding. It is said to have only a single young one at a time, and my own observation confirms this statement, for I once shot a female with a very small blind and naked little creature clinging closely to its breast, which was quite bare and much wrinkled, reminding me of the young of Marsupials, to which it seemed to form a transition. On the back, and extending over the limbs and membrane, the fur of these animals is short, but exquisitely soft, resembling in its texture that of the Chinchilla.
FEMALE HORNBILL, AND YOUNG BIRD
I returned to Palembang by water, and while staying a day at a village while a boat was being made watertight, I had the good fortune to obtain a male, female, and young bird of one of the large hornbills. I had sent my hunters to shoot, and while I was at breakfast they returned, bringing me a fine large male of the Buceros bicornis, which one of them assured me he had shot while feeding the female, which was shut up in a hole in a tree. I had often read of this curious habit, and immediately returned to the place, accompanied by several of the natives. After crossing a stream and a bog, we found a large tree leaning over some water, and on its lower side, at a height of about twenty feet, appeared a small hole, and what looked like a quantity of mud, which I was assured had been used in stopping up the large hole. After a while we heard the harsh cry of a bird inside, and could see the white extremity of its beak put out. I offered a rupee to anyone who would go up and get the bird out, with the egg or young one; but they all declared it was too difficult, and they were afraid to try. I therefore very reluctantly came away. About an hour afterwards, much to my surprise, a tremendous loud, hoarse screaming was heard, and the bird was brought me, together with a young one which had been found in the hole. This was a most curious object, as large as a pigeon, but without a particle of plumage on any part of it. It was exceedingly plump and soft, and with a semi-transparent skin, so that it looked more like a bag of jelly, with head and feet stuck on, than like a real bird.|
The extraordinary habit of the male, in plastering up the female with her egg, and feeding her during the whole time of incubation, and until the young one is fledged, is common to several of the large hornbills, and is one of those strange facts in natural history which are "stranger than fiction."
NATURAL HISTORY OF THE INDO-MALAY ISLANDS
IN the first chapter of this work I have stated generally the reasons which lead us to conclude that the large islands in the western portion of the Archipelago--Java, Sumatra, and Borneo--as well as the Malay peninsula and the Philippine islands, have been recently separated from the continent of Asia. I now propose to give a sketch of the Natural History of these, which I term the Indo-Malay islands, and to show how far it supports this view, and how much information it is able to give us of the antiquity and origin of the separate islands.
The flora of the Archipelago is at present so imperfectly known, and I have myself paid so little attention to it, that I cannot draw from it many facts of importance. The Malayan type of vegetation is however a very important one; and Dr. Hooker informs us, in his "Flora Indica," that it spreads over all the moister and more equable parts of India, and that many plants found in Ceylon, the Himalayas, the Nilghiri, and Khasia mountains are identical with those of Java and the Malay peninsula. Among the more characteristic forms of this flora are the rattans-- climbing palms of the genus Calamus, and a great variety of tall, as well as stemless palms. Orchids, Aracae, Zingiberaceae and ferns, are especially abundant, and the genus Grammatophyllum-- a gigantic epiphytal orchid, whose clusters of leaves and flower-stems are ten or twelve feet long--is peculiar to it. Here, too, is the domain of the wonderful pitcher plants (Nepenthaceae), which are only represented elsewhere by solitary species in Ceylon, Madagascar, the Seychelles, Celebes, and the Moluccas. Those celebrated fruits, the Mangosteen and the Durian, are natives of this region, and will hardly grow out of the Archipelago. The mountain plants of Java have already been alluded to as showing a former connexion with the continent of Asia; and a still more extraordinary and more ancient connection with Australia has been indicated by Mr. Low's collections from the summit of Kini-balou, the loftiest mountain in Borneo.
GRAMMATOPHYLLUM, A GIGANTIC ORCHID
Plants have much greater facilities for passing across arms of the sea than animals. The lighter seeds are easily carried by the winds, and many of them are specially adapted to be so carried. Others can float a long tune unhurt in the water, and are drifted by winds and currents to distant shores. Pigeons, and other fruit-eating birds, are also the means of distributing plants, since the seeds readily germinate after passing through their bodies. It thus happens that plants which grow on shores and lowlands have a wide distribution, and it requires an extensive knowledge of the species of each island to determine the relations of their floras with any approach to accuracy. At present we have no such complete knowledge of the botany of the several islands of the Archipelago; and it is only by such striking phenomena as the occurrence of northern and even European genera on the summits of the Javanese mountains that we can prove the former connection of that island with the Asiatic continent. With land animals, however, the case is very different. Their means of passing a wide expanse of sea are far more restricted. Their distribution has been more accurately studied, and we possess a much more complete knowledge of such groups as mammals and birds in most of the islands, than we do of the plants. It is these two classes which will supply us with most of our facts as to the geographical distribution of organized beings in this region.|
The number of Mammalia known to inhabit the Indo-Malay region is very considerable, exceeding 170 species. With the exception of the bats, none of these have any regular means of passing arms of the sea many miles in extent, and a consideration of their distribution must therefore greatly assist us in determining whether these islands have ever been connected with each other or with the continent since the epoch of existing species.
The Quadrumana or monkey tribe form one of the most characteristic features of this region. Twenty-four distinct species are known to inhabit it, and these are distributed with tolerable uniformity over the islands, nine being found in Java, ten in the Malay peninsula, eleven in Sumatra, and thirteen in Borneo. The great man-like Orangutans are found only in Sumatra and Borneo; the curious Siamang (next to them in size) in Sumatra and Malacca; the long-nosed monkey only in Borneo; while every island has representatives of the Gibbons or long-armed apes, and of monkeys. The lemur-like animals, Nycticebus, Tarsius, and Galeopithecus, are found on all the islands.
Seven species found on the Malay peninsula extend also into Sumatra, four into Borneo, and three into Java; while two range into Siam and Burma, and one into North India. With the exception of the Orangutan, the Siamang, the Tarsius spectrum, and the Galeopithecus, all the Malayan genera of Quadrumana are represented in India by closely allied species, although, owing to the limited range of most of these animals, so few are absolutely identical.
Of Carnivora, thirty-three species are known from the Indo-Malay region, of which about eight are found also in Burma and India. Among these are the tiger, leopard, a tiger-cat, civet, and otter; while out of the twenty genera of Malayan Carnivora, thirteen are represented in India by more or less closely allied species. As an example, the Malayan bear is represented in North India by the Tibetan bear, both of which may be seen alive at the Zoological Society's Gardens.
The hoofed animals are twenty-two in number, of which about seven extend into Burmahand India. All the deer are of peculiar species, except two, which range from Malacca into India. Of the cattle, one Indian species reaches Malacca, while the Bos sondiacus of Java and Borneo is also found in Siam and Burma. A goat-like animal is found in Sumatra which has its representative in India; while the two-horned rhinoceros of Sumatra and the single-horned species of Java, long supposed to be peculiar to these islands, are now both ascertained to exist in Burma, Pegu, and Moulmein. The elephant of Sumatra, Borneo, and Malacca is now considered to be identical with that of Ceylon and India.
In all other groups of Mammalia the same general phenomena recur. A few species are identical with those of India. A much larger number are closely allied or representative forms, while there are always a small number of peculiar genera, consisting of animals unlike those found in any other part of the world. There are about fifty bats, of which less than one-fourth are Indian species; thirty-four Rodents (squirrels, rats, &c.), of which six or eight only are Indian; and ten Insectivora, with one exception peculiar to the Malay region. The squirrels are very abundant and characteristic, only two species out of twenty-five extending into Siam and Burma. The Tupaias are curious insect-eaters, which closely resemble squirrels, and are almost confined to the Malay islands, as,are the small feather-tailed Ptilocerus lowii of Borneo, and the curious long-snouted and naked-tailed Gymnurus rafllesii.
As the Malay peninsula is a part of the continent of Asia, the question of the former union of the islands to the mainland will be best elucidated by studying the species which are found in the former district, and also in some of the islands. Now, if we entirely leave out of consideration the bats, which have the power of flight, there are still forty-eight species of mammals common to the Malay peninsula and the three large islands. Among these are seven Quadrumana (apes, monkeys, and lemurs), animals who pass their whole existence in forests, who never swim, and who would be quite unable to traverse a single mile of sea; nineteen Carnivora, some of which no doubt might cross by swimming, but we cannot suppose so large a number to have passed in this way across a strait which, except at one point, is from thirty to fifty miles wide; and five hoofed animals, including the Tapir, two species of rhinoceros, and an elephant. Besides these there are thirteen Rodents and four Insectivora, including a shrew-mouse and six squirrels, whose unaided passage over twenty miles of sea is even more inconceivable than that of the larger animals.
But when we come to the cases of the same species inhabiting two of the more widely separated islands, the difficulty is much increased. Borneo is distant nearly 150 miles from Biliton, which is about fifty miles from Banca, and this fifteen from Sumatra, yet there are no less than thirty-six species of mammals common to Borneo and Sumatra. Java again is more than 250 miles from Borneo, yet these two islands have twenty-two species in common, including monkeys, lemurs, wild oxen, squirrels and shrews. These facts seem to render it absolutely certain that there has been at some former period a connection between all these islands and the mainland, and the fact that most of the animals common to two or more of then, show little or no variation, but are often absolutely identical, indicates that the separation must have been recent in a geological sense; that is, not earlier than the Newer Pliocene epoch, at which time land animals began to assimilate closely with those now existing.
Even the bats furnish an additional argument, if one were needed, to show that the islands could not have been peopled from each other and from the continent without some former connection. For if such had been the mode of stocking them with animals, it is quite certain that creatures which can fly long distances would be the first to spread from island to island, and thus produce an almost perfect uniformity of species over the whole region. But no such uniformity exists, and the bats of each island are almost, if not quite, as distinct as the other mammals. For example, sixteen species are known in Borneo, and of these ten are found in Java and five in Sumatra, a proportion about the same as that of the Rodents, which have no direct means of migration. We learn from this fact, that the seas which separate the islands from each other are wide enough to prevent the passage even of flying animals, and that we must look to the same causes as having led to the present distribution of both groups. The only sufficient cause we can imagine is the former connection of all the islands with the continent, and such a change is in perfect harmony with what we know of the earth's past history, and is rendered probable by the remarkable fact that a rise of only three hundred feet would convert the wide seas that separate them into an immense winding valley or plain about three hundred miles wide and twelve hundred long. It may, perhaps, be thought that birds which possess the power of flight in so pre-eminent a degree, would not be limited in their range by arms of the sea, and would thus afford few indications of the former union or separation of the islands they inhabit. This, however, is not the case. A very large number of birds appear to be as strictly limited by watery barriers as are quadrupeds; and as they have been so much more attentively collected, we have more complete materials to work upon, and are able to deduce from them still more definite and satisfactory results. Some groups, however, such as the aquatic birds, the waders, and the birds of prey, are great wanderers; other groups are little known except to ornithologists. I shall therefore refer chiefly to a few of the best known and most remarkable families of birds as a sample of the conclusions furnished by the entire class.
The birds of the Indo-Malay region have a close resemblance to those of India; for though a very large proportion of the species are quite distinct, there are only about fifteen peculiar genera, and not a single family group confined to the former district. If, however, we compare the islands with the Burmese, Siamese, and Malayan countries, we shall find still less difference, and shall be convinced that all are closely united by the bond of a former union. In such well-known families as the woodpeckers, parrots, trogons, barbets, kingfishers, pigeons, and pheasants, we find some identical species spreading over all India, and as far as Java and Borneo, while a very large proportion are common to Sumatra and the Malay peninsula.
The force of these facts can only be appreciated when we come to treat the islands of the Austro-Malay region, and show how similar barriers have entirely prevented the passage of birds from one island to another, so that out of at least three hundred and fifty land birds inhabiting Java and Borneo, not more than ten have passed eastward into Celebes. Yet the Straits of Macassar are not nearly so wide as the Java sea, and at least a hundred species are common to Borneo and Java.
I will now give two examples to show how a knowledge of the distribution of animals may reveal unsuspected facts in the past history of the earth. At the eastern extremity of Sumatra, and separated from it by a strait about fifteen miles wide, is the small rocky island of Banca, celebrated for its tin mines. One of the Dutch residents there sent some collections of birds and animals to Leyden, and among them were found several species distinct from those of the adjacent coast of Sumatra. One of these was a squirrel (Sciurus bangkanus), closely allied to three other species inhabiting respectively the Malay peninsula, Sumatra, and Borneo, but quite as distinct from them all as they are from each other. There were also two new ground thrushes of the genus Pitta, closely allied to, but quite distinct from, two other species inhabiting both Sumatra and Borneo, and which did not perceptibly differ in these large and widely separated islands. This is just as if the Isle of Man possessed a peculiar species of thrush and blackbird, distinct from the birds which are common to England and Ireland.
These curious facts would indicate that Banca may have existed as a distinct island even longer than Sumatra and Borneo, and there are some geological and geographical facts which render this not so improbable as it would at first seem to be. Although on the map Banca appears so close to Sumatra, this does not arise from its having been recently separated from it; for the adjacent district of Palembang is new land, being a great alluvial swamp formed by torrents from the mountains a hundred miles distant.
Banca, on the other hand, agrees with Malacca, Singapore, and the intervening island of Lingen, in being formed of granite and laterite; and these have all most likely once formed an extension of the Malay peninsula. As the rivers of Borneo and Sumatra have been for ages filling up the intervening sea, we may be sure that its depth has recently been greater, and it is very probable that those large islands were never directly connected with each other except through the Malay peninsula. At that period the same species of squirrel and Pitta may have inhabited all these countries; but when the subterranean disturbances occurred which led to the elevation of the volcanoes of Sumatra, the small island of Banca may have been separated first, and its productions being thus isolated might be gradually modified before the separation of the larger islands had been completed.
As the southern part of Sumatra extended eastward and formed the narrow straits of Banca, many birds and insects and some Mammalia would cross from one to the other, and thus produce a general similarity of productions, while a few of the older inhabitants remained, to reveal by their distinct forms, their different origin. Unless we suppose some such changes in physical geography to have occurred, the presence of peculiar species of birds and mammals in such an island as Banca is a hopeless puzzle; and I think I have shown that the changes required are by no means so improbable as a mere glance at the map would lead us to suppose.
For our next example let us take the great islands of Sumatra and Java. These approach so closely together, and the chain of volcanoes that runs through them gives such an air of unity to the two, that the idea of their having been recently dissevered is immediately suggested. The natives of Java, however, go further than this; for they actually have a tradition of the catastrophe which broke them asunder, and fix its date at not much more than a thousand years ago. It becomes interesting, therefore, to see what support is given to this view by the comparison of their animal productions.
The Mammalia have not been collected with sufficient completeness in both islands to make a general comparison of much value, and so many species have been obtained only as live specimens in captivity, that their locality has often been erroneously given, the island in which they were obtained being substituted for that from which they originally came. Taking into consideration only those whose distribution is more accurately known, we learn that Sumatra is, in a zoological sense, more neatly related to Borneo than it is to Java. The great man-like apes, the elephant, the tapir, and the Malay bear, are all common to the two former countries, while they are absent from the latter. Of the three long-tailed monkeys (Semnopithecus) inhabiting Sumatra, one extends into Borneo, but the two species of Java are both peculiar to it. So also the great Malay deer (Rusa equina), and the small Tragulus kanchil, are common to Sumatra and Borneo, but do not extend into Java, where they are replaced by Tragulas javanicus. The tiger, it is true, is found in Sumatra and Java, but not in Borneo. But as this animal is known to swim well, it may have found its way across the Straits of Sunda, or it may have inhabited Java before it was separated from the mainland, and from some unknown cause have ceased to exist in Borneo.
In Ornithology there is a little uncertainty owing to the birds of Java and Sumatra being much better known than those of Borneo; but the ancient separation of Java as an island is well exhibited by the large number of its species which are not found in any of the other islands. It possesses no less than seven pigeons peculiar to itself, while Sumatra has only one. Of its two parrots one extends into Borneo, but neither into Sumatra. Of the fifteen species of woodpeckers inhabiting Sumatra only four reach Java, while eight of them are found in Borneo and twelve in the Malay peninsula. The two Trogons found in Java are peculiar to it, while of those inhabiting Sumatra at least two extend to Malacca and one to Borneo. There are a very large number of birds, such as the great Argus pheasant, the fire-backed and ocellated pheasants, the crested partridge (Rollulus coronatus), the small Malacca parrot (Psittinus incertus), the great helmeted hornbill (Buceroturus galeatus), the pheasant ground-cuckoo (Carpococcyx radiatus), the rose-crested bee-eater (Nyctiornis amicta), the great gaper (Corydon sumatranus), and the green- crested gaper (Calyptomena viridis), and many others, which are common to Malacca, Sumatra, and Borneo, but are entirely absent from Java. On the other hand we have the peacock, the green jungle cock, two blue ground thrushes (Arrenga cyanea and Myophonus flavirostris), the fine pink-headed dove (Ptilonopus porphyreus), three broad-tailed ground pigeons (Macropygia), and many other interesting birds, which are found nowhere in the Archipelago out of Java.
Insects furnish us with similar facts wherever sufficient data are to be had, but owing to the abundant collections that have been made in Java, an unfair preponderance may be given to that island. This does not, however, seem to be the case with the true Papilionidae or swallow-tailed butterflies, whose large size and gorgeous colouring has led to their being collected more frequently than other insects. Twenty-seven species are known from Java, twenty-nine from Borneo, and only twenty-one from Sumatra. Four are entirely confined to Java, while only two are peculiar to Borneo and one to Sumatra. The isolation of Java will, however, be best shown by grouping the islands in pairs, and indicating the number of species common to each pair. Thus:--
Making some allowance for our imperfect knowledge of the Sumatran species, we see that Java is more isolated from the two larger islands than they are from each other, thus entirely confirming the results given by the distribution of birds and Mammalia, and rendering it almost certain that the last-named island was the first to be completely separated from the Asiatic continent, and that the native tradition of its having been recently separated from Sumatra is entirely without foundation.
|Borneo . . 29 species|
Sumatra. . 21 do.
||20 species common to both islands.|
|Borneo . . 29 do.|
Java . . . . 27 do.
||20 do. do.
|Sumatra. . 21 do.|
Java . . . . 27 do.
||11 do. do.
We are now able to trace out with some probability the course of events. Beginning at the time when the whole of the Java sea, the Gulf of Siam, and the Straits of Malacca were dry land, forming with Borneo, Sumatra, and Java, a vast southern prolongation of the Asiatic continent, the first movement would be the sinking down of the Java sea, and the Straits of Sunda, consequent on the activity of the Javanese volcanoes along the southern extremity of the land, and leading to the complete separation of that island. As the volcanic belt of Java and Sumatra increased in activity, more and more of the land was submerged, until first Borneo, and afterwards Sumatra, became entirely severed. Since the epoch of the first disturbance, several distinct elevations and depressions may have taken place, and the islands may have been more than once joined with each other or with the main land, and again separated. Successive waves of immigration may thus have modified their animal productions, and led to those anomalies in distribution which are so difficult to account for by any single operation of elevation or submergence. The form of Borneo, consisting of radiating mountain chains with intervening broad alluvial valleys, suggests the idea that it has once been much more submerged than it is at present (when it would have somewhat resembled Celebes or Gilolo in outline), and has been increased to its present dimensions by the filling up of its gulfs with sedimentary matter, assisted by gradual elevation of the land. Sumatra has also been evidently much increased in size by the formation of alluvial plains along its northeastern coasts.
There is one peculiarity in the productions of Java that is very puzzling:--the occurrence of several species or groups characteristic of the Siamese countries or of India, but which do not occur in Borneo or Sumatra. Among Mammals the Rhinoceros javanicus is the most striking example, for a distinct species is found in Borneo and Sumatra, while the Javanese species occurs in Burma and even in Bengal. Among birds, the small ground-dove, Geopelia striata, and the curious bronze-coloured magpie, Crypsirhina varians, are common to Java and Siam; while there are in Java species of Pteruthius, Arrenga, Myiophonus, Zoothera, Sturnopastor, and Estrelda, the near allies of which are found in various parts of India, while nothing like them is known to inhabit Borneo or Sumatra.
Such a curious phenomenon as this can only be understood by supposing that, subsequent to the separation of Java, Borneo became almost entirely submerged, and on its re-elevation was for a time connected with the Malay peninsula and Sumatra, but not with Java or Siam. Any geologist who knows how strata have been contorted and tilted up, and how elevations and depressions must often have occurred alternately, not once or twice only, but scores and even hundreds of times, will have no difficulty in admitting that such changes as have been here indicated, are not in themselves improbable. The existence of extensive coal-beds in Borneo and Sumatra, of such recent origin that the leaves which abound in their shales are scarcely distinguishable from those of the forests which now cover the country, proves that such changes of level actually did take place; and it is a matter of much interest, both to the geologist and to the philosophic naturalist, to be able to form some conception of the order of those changes, and to understand how they may have resulted in the actual distribution of animal life in these countries; a distribution which often presents phenomena so strange and contradictory, that without taking such changes into consideration we are unable even to imagine how they could have been brought about.