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that I obtained numerous skins and skeletons of the orangutan, as fully described in my“ Malay Archipelago."
In my first letter, dated May, 1855, I gave a sketch of the country and people :
“As far inland as I have yet seen this country may be described as a dead level, and a lofty and swampy forest. It would, therefore, be very uninviting were it not for a few small hills which here and there rise abruptly-oases in the swampy wilderness. It is at one of these that we are located, a hill covering an area of, perhaps, three or four square miles, and less than a thousand feet high. In this hill there are several coal seams; one of these three feet and a half thick, of very good coal for steamers, crops out round three-fourths of the hill, dipping down at a moderate angle. We have here near a hundred men, mostly Chinese ; ground has been cleared, and houses built, and a road is being made through the jungle, a distance of two miles, to the Sadong river, where the coal will be shipped.
“The jungle here is exceedingly gloomy and monotonous; palms are scarce, and flowers almost wanting, except some species of dwarf gingerworts. It is only high overhead that flowers can be seen. There are many fine orchids of the genus cælogyne, with great drooping spikes of white or yellow flowers, and occasionally bunches of the scarlet flowers of a magnificent creeper, a species of æschynanthus. Oak trees are rather common, and I have already noticed three species having large acorns of a red, brown, and black colour respectively.
“Our mode of life here is very simple, and we have a continual struggle to get enough to eat, as all fowls and vegetables grown by the Dyaks go to Sarawak, and I have been obliged to send there to buy some.
“ The old men here relate with pride how many “heads' they took in their youth; and though they all acknowledge the goodness of the present rajah, yet they think that if they were allowed to take a few heads, as of old, they would have better crops. The more I see of uncivilized people, the better I think of human nature on the whole, and the essential differences between civilized and savage man seem to disappear. Here we are, two Europeans, surrounded by a population of Chinese, Malays, and Dyaks. The Chinese are generally considered, and with some amount of truth, to be thieves, liars, and reckless of human life, and these Chinese are coolies of the lowest and least educated class, though they can all read and write. The Malays are invariably described as being barbarous and bloodthirsty; and the Dyaks have only recently ceased to think head-taking a necessity of their existence. We are two days' journey from Sarawak, where, though the government is nominally European, it only exists with the consent and by the support of the native population. Yet I can safely say that in any part of Europe where the same opportunities for crime and disturbance existed, things would not go so smoothly as they do here. We sleep with open doors, and go about constantly unarmed; one or two petty robberies and a little fighting have occurred among the Chinese, but the great majority of them are quiet, honest, decent sort of people. They did not at first like the strictness and punctuality with which the English manager kept them to their work, and two or three ringleaders tried to get up a strike for shorter hours and higher wages, but Mr. Coulson's energy and decision soon stopped this by discharging the ringleaders at once, and calling all the Malays and Dyaks in the neighbourhood to come up to the mines in case any violence was attempted. It was very gratifying to see how rapidly they obeyed the summons, knowing that Mr. Coulson represented the rajah, and this display of power did much good, for since then everything has gone on smoothly. Preparations are now making for building a 'joss-house,' a sure sign that the Chinese have settled down contentedly."
In my next letter, a month later, I gave the following account of an interesting episode :
“I must now tell you of the addition to my household of an orphan baby, a curious little half-nigger baby, which I have nursed now more than a month. I will tell you presently how I came to get it, but must first relate my inventive
skill as a nurse. The little innocent was not weaned, and I had nothing proper to feed it with, so was obliged to give it rice-water. I got a large-mouthed bottle, making two holes in the cork, through one of which I inserted a large quill so that the baby could suck. I fitted up a box for a cradle with a mat for it to lie upon, which I had washed and changed every day. I feed it four times a day, and wash it and brush its hair every day, which it likes very much, only crying when it is hungry or dirty. In about a week I gave it the rice-water a little thicker, and always sweetened it to make it nice. I am afraid you would call it an ugly baby, for it has a dark brown skin and red hair, a very large mouth, but very pretty little hands and feet. It has now cut its two lower front teeth, and the uppers are coming. At first it would not sleep alone at night, but cried very much; so I made it a pillow of an old stocking, which it likes to hug, and now sleeps very soundly. It has powerful lungs, and sometimes screams tremendously, so I hope it will live.
“But I must now tell you how I came to take charge of it. Don't be alarmed; I was the cause of its mother's death. It happened as follows :- I was out shooting in the jungle and saw something up a tree which I thought was a large monkey or orang-utan, so I fired at it, and down fell this little baby—in its mother's arms. What she did up in the tree of course I can't imagine, but as she ran about the branches quite easily, I presume she was a wild 'woman of the woods ;' so I have preserved her skin and skeleton, and am trying to bring up her only daughter, and hope some day to introduce her to fashionable society at the Zoological Gardens. When its poor mother fell mortally wounded, the baby was plunged head over ears in a swamp about the consistence of peasoup, and when I got it out looked very pitiful. It clung to me very hard when I carried it home, and having got its little hands unawares into my beard, it clutched so tight that I had great difficulty in extricating myself. Its mother, poor creature, had very long hair, and while she was running about the trees like a mad woman, the little baby had to hold fast to prevent itself from falling, which accounts for the remarkable strength of its little fingers and toes, which catch hold of anything with the firmness of a vice. About a week ago I bought a little monkey with a long tail, and as the baby was very lonely while we were out in the daytime, I put the little monkey into the cradle to keep it warm. Perhaps you will say that this was not proper. 'How could you do such a thing?' But, I assure you, the baby likes it exceedingly, and they are excellent friends. When the monkey vants to run away, as he often does, the baby clutches him by the tail or ears and drags him back; and if the monkey does succeed in escaping, screams violently till he is brought back again. Of course, baby cannot walk yet, but I let it crawl about on the floor to exercise its limbs; but it is the most wonderful baby I ever saw, and has such strength in its arms that it will catch hold of my trousers as I sit at work, and hang under my legs for a quarter of an hour at a time without being the least tired, all the time trying to suck, thinking, no doubt, it has got hold of its poor dear mother. When it finds no milk is to be had, there comes another scream, and I have to put it back in its cradle and give it .Toby'-the little monkey-to hug, which quiets it immediately. From this short account you will see that my baby is no common baby, and I can safely say, what so many have said before with much less truth, 'There never was such a baby as my baby,' and I am sure nobody ever had such a dear little duck of a darling of a little brown hairy baby before.”
In a letter dated Christmas Day, 1855, I gave my impres. sions of the Dyaks, and of Sir James Brooke, as follows :
“I have now lived a month in a Dyak's house, and spent a day or two in several others, and I have been very much pleased with them. They are a very kind, simple, hospitable people, and I do not wonder at the great interest Sir James Brooke takes in them. They are more communi. cative and more cheerful than the American Indians, and it is therefore more agreeable to live with them. In moral character they are far superior to either the Malays or the Chinese, for though head-taking was long a custom among
them, it was only as a trophy of war. In their own villages crimes are very rare. Ever since Sir James Brooke has been rajah, more than twelve years, there has only been one case of murder in a Dyak tribe, and that was committed by a stranger who had been adopted into the tribe. One wet day I produced a piece of string to show them how to play 'cat's cradle,' and was quite astonished to find that they knew it much better than I did, and could make all sorts of new figures I had never seen. They were also very clever at tricks with string on their fingers, which seemed to be a favourite amusement. Many of the remoter tribes think the rajah cannot be a man. They ask all sorts of curious questions about him—Whether he is not as old as the mountains; whether he cannot bring the dead to life; and I have no doubt, for many years after his death, he will be held to be a deity and expected to come back again.
"I have now seen a good deal of Sir James, and the more I see of him the more I admire him. With the highest talents for government he combines in a high degree goodness of heart and gentleness of manner. At the same time, he has so much self-confidence and determination that he has put down with the greatest ease the conspiracies of one or two of the Malay chiefs against him. It is a unique case in the history of the world for a private English gentleman to rule over two conflicting races—a superior and an inferior
-with their own consent, without any means of coercion, but depending solely upon them both for protection and support, while at the same time he introduces some of the best customs of civilization, and checks all crimes and barbarous practices that before prevailed. Under his government 'running-a-muck,' so frequent in other Malay countries, has never taken place, and in a population of about 30,000 Malays, almost all of whom carry their kris, and were accustomed to revenge an insult with a stab, murders only occur once in several years. The people are never taxed except with their own consent, and in the manner most congenial to them, while almost the whole of the rajah's private fortune has been spent in the improvement of the country or for its