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now, a precious large round loving one, as should be set on the monyment by way of example. And so here's your health, ladies and gentlemen, and your's, dear missis, and the little ones, not forgetting Tit, as has taken to chirp so extraordinarily.”
“And I say,” said Bloomforth, “blessings on all those who recognise the mighty public heart.”
Even whilst this picture fades from before you, reader, Isabella leads down the dance with Mr. Bobbin, and the music that is whispered in your ear is beyond that of earth, for it is the voice of Nature glorifying in the happiness of her children.
COMMERCE OF THE ORIENTAL ARCHIPELAG0.
THE Chambers of Commerce of Manchester and Glasgow, and the London East India Association, as well as several other bodies interested in the success of trade, sent in repeated memorials to the late Government in the hope of inducing it to take some measures for multiplying our relations with the Indian Archipelago. But before those applications had produced any effect there occurred a change of ministry, and it was feared that the work would have to be begun again. Fortunately for the enterprising and industrious classes, the new administration complied at once with the wishes of the country, and resolved to take the first step by forming an entrepôt and naval station on Pulo Labuan, off the mouth of the Borneo River.
Many circumstances combined to render this policy extremely desirable :-our intercourse with China, from which so much was expected, had not proved very profitable; our Australasian colonies, through neglect and mismanagement, had lessened greatly their demand for our goods; or, which is exactly the same thing, had not enlarged their demands in proportion to the increase of their population. The mischievous delay which took place in the repeal of the Corn-laws and in the equalisation of the sugar duties circumscribed our foreign trade, so that the absolute necessity was felt of seeking new outlets for our manufactures, in order to provide employment for the rapidly increasing population at home.
What in this respect, therefore, has been done by the cabinet, we consider to have been wisely done. Able and well-informed persons had long seen the value of Labuan, not as a means of gratifying insane ambition, but as a position useful to commerce, and no less advantageous to suffering humanity. For the effect of its occupation will be twofold. First, it will facilitate the suppression of piracy, and thus deliver the Archipelago from the worst calamity that has ever afflicted it ; and second, it will excite the emancipated populations to exert all their energies in collecting or creating the materials of that commerce by which, if by anything, they are to be raised from their present state of extreme degradation. We may in this way make some amends to them for what they have suffered from other European nations, and in part perhaps formerly from ourselves ; for our achievements in the Archipelago have not always been harmless. Even lately, if we are not misinformed, there has been a repetition of the ancient excesses, on a small scale no doubt, but not therefore the less culpable. When the old navigators touched upon the coasts of some of these islands, of which, to the reproach of geography, the number is far from being known, they found the natives addicted as else“where to the admiration of baubles, as beads, buttons, brass, and gilded ornaments. At present, if we may fairly generalise from a few striking instances, articles of utility are almost exclusively prized, such as handkerchiefs to be worn as turbans, calicoes and ginghams for clothing, tools, ammunition and arms. Still the imagination of nearly all the islanders requires to be captivated by showy patterns, and brilliant colours strongly contrasted with each other; the reason of which may be that the luminous atmosphere in which they live causes sober colours to appear insipid. But what are the extent and boundaries of the Indian Archipelago 2 By what races is it inhabited? Are they few or many ? Are they Anthropophagi who eat each other, or men whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders ? Is it true, as our immediate forefathers seem to have believed, that their ignorance is like that of the ox—that the grossness of their manners is only to be equalled by their barbarity ? Are they Pagans or Mohammedans. Is the Llama their God, or do they worship Fo, or is it customary with them to bow down like the negro before the first tree they meet in the morning, and mistake the rustling of its leaves in the breeze for divine responses 2 The answers to all these questions, if given at due length, would fill a volume or two. We must content ourselves, therefore, with delineating the subject in outline, and selecting a few facts from the vast accumulation before us. The Oriental Archipelago, commencing with Sumatra, which appears to be but a prolongation of the Malay Peninsula, stretches far below the equator, and then taking abruptly an easterly direction extends through nearly fifty-five degrees of longitude, where it terminates beyond Torres Straits with the southern promontory of Papua or New Guinea. Returning to Singapore, and following the sweep of the islands northward, we find them ascending to the latitude of Hainan in China. Within the immense circumference thus indicated we find the Philippines and the Moluccas, the land of the Papuas, the extensive islands of Celebes and Mindanao, of Timor and Flores, of Lombok and Java, and lastly, of Pulo Kalamantan, which, from its dimensions, deserves rather to be regarded as a continent. If properly cultivated, the whole population of the Chinese Empire might be transported into this Archipelago, and find abundant means of subsistence. As it is, with all the drawbacks of barbarism, and with its extremely limited trade, in proportion, we mean, to its extent, it has been roughly computed to contain nearly forty millions of inhabitants. Nor do we think the calculation at all exaggerated, since one of its islands, Pulo Kalamantan alone, if blessed with a good system of agriculture, would , maintain a much larger population. * The nature and extent of the trade actually carried on cannot be very easily described or estimated, since much of it passes through channels situated beyond the range of European observation. We only know from casual hints and inferences that the thing exists, and affords constant occupation to thousands of hardy adventurers who, in prahus of small size and most primitive construction, traverse thousands of miles of sea, distributing on one hand the produce of their own country, and on the other the fabrics of Europe, obtained from Samarang, Batavia or Surabeya, but chiefly from Singapore. Formerly the merchants of China and Japan took an active part in this commerce. ... The Japanese indeed disappeared early from the scene, yielding to the influence of circumstances of a very peculiar nature. While engaged in the trade, however, they displayed great intrepidity and much mercantile enterprise, proceeding regularly to the Philippines and the Moluccas, and Cochin China, and Siam, and the kingdom of Johor on the Malay Peninsula. In these voyages they purchased for gold and copper money the costly wood of aloes, then supposed to have been brought down from unknown mountains in the interior of Asia by the several large streams which empty themselves into the China Seas and the Gulf of Siam, and innumerable skins of wild goats, upon which they conferred extraordinary value by their rare ingenuity. The hair on these skins, when first obtained, was white, but with the smoke of rice straw, the impression of which they knew how to render permanent, they variegated the skins with numerous singular and grotesque figures, which caused them to be greatly coveted, not only by the rich of their own country, but by the Spanish grandees of the Philippines, who preferred them before the most celebrated furs. - The trade of the Chinese was of much greater importance; they took in exchange for the produce of their Empire almost every article, raw or manufactured, found in the Archipelago; and where the skill of the natives failed they stepped in and took upon themselves the task of preparing their own cargoes. Thus when the tin mines at Banca were discovered it was the Chinese who worked them; and at the present day, wherever mining goes on, the process is invariably in the hands of this enterprising people. Settling in various parts, also, they betook themselves to agriculture, and raised spices and other things for their own market, till the despotism of the native governments robbed themo of their profits and drove them ultimately from the field. An immense lumber trade was until recently carried on between the northern division of Pulo Kalamantan, including the Sultan of Borneo's territories and Hainan, Quang-tung, Fokien, and other maritime provinces of China. This has now been almost completely paralysed by piracy. The Chinese, who are not a fighting people, dread the fierce buccaneers, who, issuing in immense numbers from their strongholds, seize upon whatever ships or prahus they can overpower, and if they omit to murder the crews, invariably dispose of them as slaves. Though fond of gain, therefore, they are, of course, fonder of life and liberty, and check their commercial impulse till such time as some power shall appear equal to the task of dealing with the ferocious marauders who scatter death and servitude throughout the whole extent of the Archipelago. ... To restore safety to those seas may be regarded as the principal object of our naval station on Pulo Labuan, because until the
merchants, Chinese, Bugis or Papuas, are delivered from fear, they will not put forth a tithe of their trading energies, but creep timidly in small numbers from port to port only when constrained so to do by imperious necessity. The apprehension of violence on the high seas has in various islands given currency to extremely curious maxims of political economy. Bali, an island lying so close to Java that it was long thought to form a part of it, has always been remarkable for the growth of excellent rice, which, if properly cleaned, would probably equal the best brought from Carolina. It was consequently in much request among the neighbouring islanders; but, owing to the prevalence of piracy, the Balinese. Sultan, thinking it would always be uncertain whether or not he could, in case of necessity, venture abroad in search of a supply for his people, absolutely prohibited its exportation. To store away the surplus, which was generally considerable, he erected granaries on the tops of high mountains, where, at once inaccessible to marauders and superfluous moisture, it remained secure and in good condition for years. Latterly, the motives which impelled to this policy have been weakened, and Bali now exports rice in great quantities both to China and elsewhere, and our own whalers and merchantmen are frequently indebted to it for the better part of their provisions. Its coffee and Palmyra sugar also are celebrated, and the island is said to contain rich mines of gold, though the Sultan, with a policy which will admit of being differently characterised, "has prevented their being worked. By the last intelligence received from the East, we learn that the Dutch, who have long cast an eye of covetousness on the island, are at present engaged in effecting its reduction. A large force was fitted out against it from Java, and the Rajah of Lombok, with a short-sightedness truly surprising, is said to have-instigated the invasion. He does not apparently perceive that his own subjugation will almost inevitably follow that of his neighbours; but in revenge, perhaps, for some petty affront, facilitates a movement which must eventually precipitate him from his throne. Few parts of the Archipelago are invested with more obscurity. than the interior of Lombok, though two English merchants have for many years resided on the island in close friendship with the prince, and possessing every means of instructing themselves respecting the manners and customs of its inhabitants, its soil, climate, and productions. A friend of ours, who visited the