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TRADE.-Considerable quantities of rice and paddy are annually taken hence by the traders, in exchange for iron, steel, beads, tobacco, and coarse piece-goods. Numbers of wild hogs are reared here, and some parts of the main, especially Baroos, are supplied from hence with yams, beans, and poultry; neither buffaloes, cattle, nor horses are indigenous. Some of the Rajahs are said to have amassed from 10 to 20,000 dollars each, which are kept in ingots of gold and silver; much of the latter consisting of small Dutch money (not of the purest coin) melted down, and of these they make an ostentatious display at weddings and other festivals.
NASSAU, OR POGGY ISLANDS.-These two islands are called the North and South Poggy, or Nassau Islands; Cape Cuddalore, the N. point of the former, is in latitude 2° 32 S. They are separated by a narrow strait, called Se Cockup; the straits are about two miles long, and a quarter of a mile broad, and an excellent place for ships of any size to anchor, being perfectly secure from every wind. They have both inhabitants divided into small tribes, each occupying a small river, and living in one village. On the S. island are five, and on the N. seven villages, of which Kakap is reckoned the chief, although Labulabu is supposed to contain the greater number of people. Their houses are built of bamboos, and raised on posts, the under part of which is occupied by hogs and poultry. Sago constitutes the principal food of the inhabitants, who do not cultivate rice. Large red deer, hogs, and fowls are common, but they have neither buffaloes nor goats. They are strangers to the use of coin of any kind, and have little knowledge of metals. The iron bill or chopping-knife, called parang, is in much esteem amongst them; it serves as a standard for the value of other commodities, such as articles of provision. A metal coat button is of equal value in their esteem to a piece of gold or silver coin. On the N. island, near the entrance of the straits, are a few houses inhabited by some Malays from Fort Marlborough; they reside here for the purpose of building large boats, the timber and planks for which are found close at hand; the mountains being covered with various kinds of timber, amongst which are poon trees, of sufficient dimensions for lower masts to a first-rate man of war, and several sorts suitable for building ships of large burden.
ENGANO, the southernmost of the large islands fronting the W. Coast of Sumatra, is large, triangular, and the inland country high; its S. extreme is in latitude 5° 30′ S., and longitude 102° 29′ E. The N. point is in latitude 5° 15′ S., longitude 102° 25′ E. The N. coast is bold; no soundings from 3 to 5 miles off; the shore in some places rocky, but the beach mostly of sand. The island is very imperfectly known; all attempts
to open a friendly communication with the natives having hitherto proved fruitless. To the E. of it, near its southernmost point, are four small islands, which form an exceeding fine bay, with clear ground, good anchorage, and shelter from any wind for ships of any burthen. One of these islands is sandy, and there vessels may go in, and repair or careen with great facility, having four fathoms clear ground close to the shore; there is also good running water, plenty of fine wood for building or repairing ships, and abundance of excellent fish, yams, and coco-nuts. The island is said to be well inhabited; the houses stand singly in the plantations, are circular, about eight feet in diameter, raised about six feet from the ground on slender iron-wood sticks, floored with planks, and the roof, which is thatched with long grass, rises from the floor in a conical shape. They have a number of canoes, which are very neat, and in general contain six or seven men. A ship requiring refreshments should anchor so as to protect the boats and people, as the natives are very treacherous. The crew of the Union, wrecked here in 1815, were retained by them in captivity some time.
There are several bays on the South Coast of Sumatra, but they are seldom visited by Europeans, as they produce no articles of trade, and the natives, being very treacherous, are not to be trusted.
PALEMBANG.—This kingdom is of considerable importance, and its river one of the largest in the island, disemboguing itself by various branches into the sea. Its principal entrance is in latitude about 2° 52′ S., and longitude 104° 50′ E., opposite to the city of Palembang, which is 14 leagues from its entrance; it is upwards of a mile in breadth, and is conveniently navigated by vessels drawing 14 feet water. Those of a larger description have been carried thither for military purposes; but the operation is attended with considerable difficulty and danger, on account of the numerous shoals in the river, the lower parts of the country being flat and marshy, and overflowed during the rainy season.
The City of Palembang extends about 8 miles along both banks of the river, and is mostly confined to them, and to the creeks which open into the river. As the nature of the surrounding country, being overflowed in high tides, scarcely admits of roads, almost all communication is carried on by means of boats, which are seen moving in every direction.
The policy of this Government having always encouraged foreign settlers, the city and lower parts of the river are in a great measure peopled with natives of China, Cochin China, Siam, Cambodia, Patany, Java, Celebes, Borneo, and other eastern places.
TRADE. Very few articles of European or Indian produce are disposed
of at Palembang, its wants being supplied from Batavia. A few chests of opium and piece-goods form the principal part; the remainder consists of Spanish dollars, and for them alone tin can be procured.
Tin and pepper are the staple exports. The former is procured from Banca, and is delivered to the King at a fixed rate per pecul, and by him to the Dutch. It is stated that 3,000,000 lbs. are annually supplied to them, of which the greater part is sent to China, and the remainder to Europe. The pepper produced at Palembang is in general very foul, and considered inferior to what is brought from the W. side of the island, and that of Malabar. The other articles procured here, are diamonds, canes, and rattans. Of the first, it is stated that about 1000 carats are annually purchased by the Dutch, and of the latter from 70 to 100,000 bundles per annum, which are principally sent to China. Palembang is much frequented by proas from Macassar, Borneo, Bally, and Java, which bring rice, salt, and some few cloths manufactured to the eastward, and worn by the Malays, taking in return opium and other Indian commodities.
Late accounts represent the trade as declining. Siamese salt is excluded in favour of that from Java, and a heavy tonnage duty on the Chinese junks diminishes this branch of the trade.
DUTIES.-No regular traffic being permitted here, presents only are necessary to the Dutch Resident, and the Shabundar or King's Minister, according to the business likely to be transacted. On your arrival in the roads, send your long boat into the river (for water), and send accounts of the ship's arrival to the Governor. The fishermen will let the natives know of your arrival; and if the Governor means to do any business, you will have accounts in the course of three or four days; but should he not be prepared to deal with you, no time should be lost in getting your boat on board, and proceeding to sea.
COINS. The currency of the country, and the only money allowed to be received at the King's Treasury, is Spanish dollars; but there is also in general circulation a species of small base coin, called petis, which are cut out of plates composed of lead and tin; and having a square hole in the middle, like the Chinese cash, are strung in parcels of 500 each, 16 of which are equivalent to a Spanish dollar. Accounts are kept in rix dollars (a nominal coin) of 48 stivers; the exchange between Spanish and rix dollars being five of the latter for four of the former.
WEIGHTS.-Here, as well as at all other places where the Chinese have settled, their weights have become in common use. In weighing gold, the tale is considered as the tenth part of the catty, or equal to the weight of 2 Spanish dollars. The catty weighs 11 oz. 15 dwts. 14 grs., troy.
The commercial weights are the ganton, baly, and copang; 10 gantons make 1 baly, (about 60 catties, or 81 lbs. avoirdupois), and 80 balies 1 copang. By this measure rice is also sold.
The goelack of pepper is 1 catty, or 27 oz. avoirdupois; but the weight used by the Dutch Company is the pecul, which is equal to 133 lbs. avoirdupois.
BANCA. This island is nearly opposite the various mouths of Palembang River. The passage between it and Sumatra is called the Straits of Banca, and extends in an undulating course about 34 leagues. Monopin Hill, which answers as a guide to ships approaching the island, is in latitude 2° S., and longitude 105° 14′ E., about 2 leagues S. W. from which is Mintow Point, the W. extremity of Banca. The principal town is a short distance to the E. The best anchorage is in 10 or 11 fathoms, about three miles off the town, Monopin Hill bearing N. 10° E. and Mintow Point N. 82° W.
This island is famous for its tin mines. They are worked by a colony of Chinese, consisting of upwards of 20,000 persons, under the nominal direction of the Sultan of Palembang, but for the account and benefit of the Dutch Company, and the Sultan is under a standing contract to furnish them with the tin produced, at a fixed rate per ton; but the enterprising spirit of private merchants finds means to elude their vigilance, and the annual export amounts to from 40,000 to 60,000 peculs. It is the only export they possess. The island is said to produce gold and silver, but the Sultan will not suffer the mines to be worked.
TRADE.-The Sultan and the Dutch Resident live at Palembang : with the latter some business may be transacted; in case he should decline trading, you must endeavour to find out the agents of the Princes of Banca, and those of the Caranga, or Prime Minister, who have always carried on an illicit trade, in opposition to the Dutch and the Sultan. Access may be had to the Datoo at Mintow, on observing certain ceremonies, which the commanders of Dutch cruisers expect from strangers. It is necessary to cut through some of the slabs of tin, as iron shot and stones are often in the middle of them. Opium is usually brought by the country ships frequenting these Straits; but nothing will secure tin but Spanish dollars. There is another place for tin, called Yre Mass, at the N. end of Banca; and you deal chiefly with the Captain Chinaman, who resides there.
Small ships or vessels passing through the Straits of Banca, ought always to be upon their guard to repel any attack that may be made by the piratical proas, numbers of which lurk about the mouths of the rivers on the Coast of Sumatra, to surprise defenceless vessels.
JAMBEE. This river is of considerable size. The town of Jambee is about sixty miles from the sea.
TRADE. The trade consists chiefly of gold-dust, pepper, rattans, and canes; but most of the gold proceeds across the country to the W. coast; and the pepper, like that of Palembang, is not held in esteem. Sometimes a trading ship from Bengal endeavours to dispose of a few chests of opium; but the masters scarcely ever venture on shore, and deal with such of the Malays as come off to them at the sword's point, so strong is the idea of their treacherous character.
INDRAGIRI.-This river is about a degree to the N. of Jambee, and is navigable a great distance; sloops tide it up for five or six weeks, as they assert, anchoring as the ebb begins to make. It is but little frequented.
SIAC. This river, which is the most considerable on the island, empties itself into the sea, nearly opposite to Malacca, in latitude about 1° 40′ N. Opposite its entrance are several islands. From the place where it discharges itself into the Straits of Campar, or Bancalis, to the town of Siac, is about 65 miles, and from thence to a place called Pakanbharu, is about 100 more. The width of the river is in general from about to of a mile, and its depth from 7 to 15 fathoms; but on the bar at low water there are only 15 feet, and several shoals near its mouth; the tides about 11 feet at the town. Not far within the river is a small island. According to the information of the natives, the river is navigable for sloops to a place called Panti Chermin, being eight days' sail, with the assistance of the tide, and within half a day's journey by land, of another named Patapahan, which boats also of 10 to 20 tons reach in two days. This is a great mart of trade with the interior, and here its merchants resort with their gold.
TRADE. The commerce is chiefly carried on by kling vessels, as they are called, from the Coast of Coromandel, which are supplied, generally at Pinang, or Singapore, with the following articles, which, with the piecegoods brought from the coast, find a ready sale here:-Brass wire, coarse cutlery, China ware, gunpowder, iron, looking glasses, lead, muskets, opium, salt, steel, and tobacco.
In return they receive brimstone, camphire (head), bezoar stones, dammer, elephants' teeth, gutta gambir, gold-dust, rattans, sago, and wax.
Between Siac and Diamond Point is the river Arakan, or Rakan, by far the largest in the island; it may be considered as an inlet of the sea, and is navigable for sloops to a great distance from the sea; but from the danger apprehended from the natives, it is scarcely at all known to Europeans.
On this part of the coast are prodigious numbers of wild swine,