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country about Aracan river abounds with rice, which may be procured at a moderate price; but the natives are not to be trusted, being unfriendly to Europeans.
COINS.-There was a mint at Aracan, where silver rupees were coined. An Aracan rupee is equal to 12 annas duss massa, or in Aracan to three kahawons, each kahawon 16 puns of cowries.
CHEDUBA.—This island extends nearly N. W. and S. E. about 7 leagues, and is situated between the latitudes of 18° 36′ and 18° 50′ N.; it is about twenty miles from the coast, and there is a safe passage between the island and the main. The town is situated on the E. side of the island, in long. 93° 40′ E., up a small river, into which it is difficult for boats to get at falling tide, on account of a number of mud banks which lie off its entrance more than 1 mile from the shore. The river is narrow and winding, but deep enough, after passing the flats, for large boats at all times of the tide. The landing-place is near a small wooden bridge, about two miles up on the right hand side of the river, where there is a bazar, well supplied with poultry, hogs, goats, vegetables, and fruits in abundance, at reasonable prices, and of excellent quality. Shipping may fill water here in their own boats at half ebb; though it may be procured more expeditiously, but at a greater expence, by application to the Chief, to employ the boats of the country. Permission must be obtained from him previous to procuring any supplies. The sale of cattle is restricted, not only by the Government, but also by the tenets of their religion; and so rigidly do the natives adhere to them, that it is impossible to procure a bullock at any price, though the island abounds with them. The anchorage for large ships is the mouth of the river W. 15° S., and the town pagoda W. 19° S. in 4 fathoms.
Large quantities of rice are grown upon the island. The Island of Ramree, to the S. E. of Cheduba, also produces large quantities of rice. Cheduba was occupied by the British forces in 1824.
The Coast of Ava extends in a S. direction from near Cheduba to Cape Negrais, forming several bays destitute of shelter for ships, and having several small islands and dangers in its vicinity.
NEGRAIS.-Cape Negrais, the south-westernmost land of the Coast of Ava, is in lat. 16° 2′ N. and long. 94° 13′ E.; but the southernmost extremity of that coast is generally called Pagoda Point, from a pagoda standing upon it, and is in lat. 15° 58′ N. This point forms the W. side of Ava River, called also Persaim and Bassein River, and Point Porean the E. side.
The Island of Negrais is in the entrance of the river, about four or five miles inside of Pagoda Point. It is about six miles in circumference,
extending N. E. and S. W., almost covered with thick jungle, and full of deep inlets of salt water. At the N. E. extremity is a hill with an old pagoda upon it; and on the S. W. end is a plain, or flat, which is the only part sufficiently cleared, to allow of the erection of a few fishermen's huts, and the pasturage of some cattle. No run of fresh water could be found when the British troops landed there in 1824.
The entrance into Negrais harbour is described as difficult, the channel being narrow; it is quite secure from all winds. The river thence to Bassein is clear and safe from the island to Bassein.
DIAMOND ISLAND, in latitude 15° 52′ N., and longitude 94° 19′ E., is about seven miles to the S. of Pagoda Point, and fronting the entrance of Ava River; it is about 1 mile in extent, low, and covered with trees, but should not be approached by large vessels, on account of the reefs that surround it.
Diamond Island is at some seasons much frequented by turtle, and has been, occasionally visited by men of war stationed in India; but a great number of lives have been lost, it being extremely dangerous and unhealthy for people to remain on shore during the night.
PEGU. The coast of Pegu extends from Ava, or Persaim River, to the Gulph of Martaban, and is generally low and woody, intersected by many rivers, with reefs and shoal water extending along it to a considerable distance. Rangoon River, called also Sirian and Pegu River, is the only place on this coast frequented by European ships. The entrance to the river is known by a grove of trees, about fifteen miles to the S. W., called China Buckeer. This mark, ships that are bound into the river, first endeavour to make.
RANGOON.-This town is about twenty miles up a considerable branch of the principal river, having a bar, on which are only about two fathoms at low water; but the perpendicular rise and fall of the tide is frequently 21 feet. Ships bound into the river should anchor at its entrance, and make the signal for a pilot, or dispatch a boat into the river for one, if the weather be favourable.
Rangoon stretches along the banks of the river about a mile, and is not more than the third of a mile in breadth. The city is a square, surrounded by a high stockade; and on the N. side it is further strengthened by a fosse, across which a wooden bridge is thrown; in this face there are two gates, but in each of the others only one. On the S. side towards the river, which is about 20 or 30 yards from the palisade, there are a number of huts, and three wharfs with cranes for landing goods, which enable ships to deliver and receive cargoes expeditiously, and without the use of
small craft. The Custom-house is built of brick and mortar, and covered with tiles, having within a number of platforms for the reception of balegoods. Close to the principal wharf are two commodious wooden houses, used by the merchants as an Exchange, where they usually meet in the cool of the morning and evening, to converse, and transact business. The streets of the town are narrow, but clean, and well paved; there are numerous channels to carry off the rain, over which strong planks are laid, to prevent an interruption of intercourse. The houses are raised on posts from the ground, the smaller supported by bamboos, the larger by strong timbers. All the officers of Government, the most opulent merchants, and persons of consideration, live within the fort; shipwrights and people of inferior rank, inhabit the suburbs. Rangoon was taken by the British in 1824.
This town, having long been the asylum of insolvent debtors from the different settlements in India, is crowded with foreigners of desperate fortunes, who, for the most part, support themselves by carrying on a petty trade. Here are to be met fugitives from all countries in the east. The Exchange exhibits a motley assemblage, such as few towns of much greater magnitude can produce. Malabars, Moguls, Persees, Armenians, Portuguese, French, and English all mingle here, and are engaged in various branches of commerce. The Persees, Armenians, and a few Mussulmen engross the greater part of the trade; and individuals from their number are frequently selected by Government, to fill employments of trust that relate to trade, and transactions with foreigners.
Heavy complaints have been made of oppression at Rangoon. In 1819, the commanders of two vessels were not only subjected to heavy fines, but to confinement, upon pretended charges of maltreating their crews.
The river of Rangoon is very commodious for building and repairing ships. The forests produce inexhaustible quantities of teak timber, and the banks of the river are so soft and flat, that there is little need of labour for the formation of docks. Ships of considerable burthen, from 600 to 900 tons, have been built here, of excellent workmanship, and of the best materials.
TRADE. The commerce carried on here is not to a considerable extent. Piece-goods form the most material part of the imports from India, and are generally of common kinds of British commodities. Broad cloth of two colours, one side red, the other green or blue, is in great request, being used for mantles in the cold season.
The chief exports are teak timber in balks, called duggies and arties, keel pieces, mast-fishes, planks, and sheathing boards. They have other timber in great abundance, but it is seldom exported, particularly an infe
rior kind of cedar, both red and white, called jarroll, and which is used here chiefly for compass and crooked timber, in ship-building.
The prices of timber at Rangoon in 1822 were as follow:-Mast pieces 250 to 500 ticals each; duggies 12 to 16 ticals each; shinbins 12 to 14 ticals per pair; pipe staves 20 to 25 ticals per 100; sheathing boards 70 ticals per 100.
Pegu also produces rubies, diamonds, emeralds, and other precious stones; iron, copper, tin, lead, wood oil, earth oil, wax, dammer, elephants' teeth, cutch, and silver. The iron is said to be of so excellent a quality, as to be little inferior to steel; but Europeans who build ships at Rangoon, generally carry their iron work, ready forged, from the English Presidencies, particularly from Calcutta.
PORT CHARGES.—The import and export charges on a ship, of whatever burthen she may be, and presents to the principal men, &c. used to be as follow; but a more recent report makes the charges somewhat higher, and they vary from time to time at the pleasure of the Shahbunder, or Port Officer, who, in 1819, was an English subject, named Gibson.
Pilotage in and out of Rangoon ---------- 300 ditto.
A boat to take the pilot out
forming a total of 1345 ticals. A new ship built in the river, on proceeding on her first voyage, is exempt from the port-charges, but she is afterwards subject to all charges, as other ships.
DUTIES. The duty levied on all goods imported was 12 per except on timber, which was 1 per cent.; goods exported paid 5 per cent. All canvas, cordage, wrought iron, and other stores, imported for the equipment of a ship building at Rangoon, were subject to half duty. Presents to the Princes, Ministers, &c. are necessary; and the more liberally they are given, the more accommodation is experienced in the transacting of business.
Since the occupation of Rangoon by the British forces, the following duties have been imposed upon the under-mentioned articles, viz: 4 rupees per gallon upon all kinds of spirits; 2 rupees per dozen upon wine and beer ;
upon all other import and export articles 8 per cent, except upon timber, which bears a duty of 2 per cent. only.
REGULATIONS.-Manifest of cargo must be delivered, including ammunition, arms, &c. Every article omitted is liable to seizure. Every time a person lands from the ship, he must submit to be searched at the Customhouse, or Godown.
PROVISIONS AND REFRESHMENTS.-Oxen and buffaloes are plentiful, but are not permitted to be killed, on account of the religious prejudices of the natives; they can therefore only be obtained clandestinely. Poultry is abundant, and as reasonable as at Calcutta. Hogs, goats, and deer are numerous, and the latter forms the principal food of the Europeans and natives. Rice, fruit, and vegetables are likewise plentiful. Water is obtained from the river, or from wells in the town.
COINS. The Burmans, like the Chinese, have no coin. Silver in bullion, and lead, are the current monies of the country; weight and purity are of course the standard of value, and in the ascertainment of both, the natives are exceedingly scrupulous and expert.
What foreigners call a tical, or tackal, properly kiat, is the most general piece of silver in circulation; it weighs 10 dwts. 10.75 grs., and is thus divided:
The Burmans keep their accounts in decimals, after the manner of the Chinese.
Money scales and weights are all fabricated at the capital, where they are stamped, and afterwards circulated throughout the empire; the use of any others is prohibited.
The Bankers, called by foreigners Pymons, are likewise workers in silver, and assayers of metal. This class of people is very numerous, and indispensably necessary, as no stranger can undertake either to pay or receive money without having it first examined. Every merchant has a banker of this description, with whom he deposits all his cash, and who, for receiving and paying, gets an established commission of 1 per cent.; in consideration of which, he is responsible for the quality of what goes through his hands, and a breach of trust is very seldom heard of.
The quantity of alloy varies in the silver current in different parts of the empire. At Rangoon it is adulterated 25 per cent. In pure, or what is called flowered silver, all royal dues are paid. The several modifications are as follow::