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THE EASTERN ISLANDS.
THE Eastern Seas contain an immense number of islands, many of which are large and inhabited, and carry on a considerable trade with each other; but the greater part are uninhabited, and imperfectly known. The principal islands frequented by Europeans, are the various Spice Islands, Celebes, Borneo, the Sooloo Archipelago, and the Philippines.
BANDA ISLANDS.-This group consists of ten islands: Banda Neira, Gonong Apee, Banda Lantoir, Pulo Ay, or Way; Pulo Rondo, or Pulo Roon; Rosengyn, Pulo Pisang, Craka, Capella, and Sonangy. The harbour is formed by Great Banda on the S. side, Gonong Apee, and Banda Neira on the N., with Pulo Pisang and Capella on the W. entrance. The anchorage, in latitude 4° 31' S., and longitude 130° E., is at the foot of Gonong Apee, or the Burning Mountain, which smokes almost continually, and from which proceed frequent earthquakes, whose shocks are sometimes repeated three or four times in a day. You moor directly off the wharf on Banda Neira, at about half a mile distance.
BANDA NEIRA is the seat of Government, and subordinate to Amboyna. Besides the forts, there are a number of redoubts and military posts all round these islands, to prevent smuggling, and protect the plantations and villages against the pirates from New Guinea, who frequently land, and carry off the inhabitants, and whatever else they can take by surprise, but are seldom hardy enough to attack where resistance may be expected.
TRADE.-The spice trade is monopolized by the Dutch Government, and intercourse with the Moluccas and their dependencies is interdicted to foreigners. On the visit of the Governor-General, in April 1824, some new regulations were promulgated by him; the object of which was announced to be that of abolishing the unnecessarily oppressive laws, relative to the monopoly of the spice trade, &c., whereby it was directed that all the laws and regulations tending to protect the existing monopoly of the spices, especially in nutmegs and mace, should be maintained in their rigour. All
other laws, which owe their origin to this monopoly, but do not tend to protect or maintain it, were declared null and void.-It was provided by the same edict, that the Residency of Banda should thenceforward consist of the following, besides the Banda islands:The East part of Great Ceram, the Islands of Kessing, Ceram Laut, Gisser (Gasses) Goram, Key, and Arou, and in general all the other little islands to the East and South of Banda.
ARTICLES PRODUCED AT BANDA, WITH DIRECTIONS.
NUTMEGS (Jaephal, Hind. Jatiphalo, San.) are the produce of the Myristica, a tree, native of several of the islands to the E., but which has in a great measure been extirpated from them all, except that of Banda. The tree is handsome and spreading, the bark smooth, and of a brownish grey colour; the leaves elliptical, pointed, obliquely nerved, on the upper side of a brightish green, on the under whitish, and stand alternately upon foot stalks; they afford a most grateful aromatic scent when bruised. It does not bear fruit till the eighth or ninth year, when little yellowish buds appear, out of which small white flowers are blown, hanging two or three together upon slender peduncles; in the centre of the flower is an oblong reddish knob, from which the fruit is produced, though no more than one blossom out of three commonly ripens. The fruit is eight or nine months arriving at maturity; but blossoms and ripe fruit are found at the same time upon the tree, and the nutmegs are generally gathered three times in a year. The fruit appears like a small peach, in shape and colour, only pointed towards the stalk when ripe; the outer coat, which is almost half an inch thick, opens, and shews the nutmeg in its black and shining shell, encircled by a net-work of scarlet mace; the outer coat is generally whitish, a little hard, and is very good preserved in sugar, or stewed. You then come to the mace, which is of a fine bright red colour, and under it a black shell, about as thick as that of a filbert, but very hard; it is opened by being first dried successively in five different drying places, made of split bamboos, upon which the nutmegs are laid, and placed over a slow fire, in each of which places they remain a week, till the nutmegs are heard to shake within the shell, which is then easily broken. The nutmegs are then sorted, and delivered; each sort is separately put into baskets, and soaked three times in tubs of sea water and lime; they are then put into distinct closets, where they are left for six weeks to sweat: this is done that the lime, by closing the pores of the nuts, may prevent their strength from evaporating, and
likewise because such a prepared nutmeg is not fit for propagation. The nutmeg tree is distinguished into three sorts: male, or barren nutmeg; royal nutmeg, a female producing long nuts; and the queen nutmeg, yielding the round nut. The only difference between the royal and queen nutmeg is in the fruit; that of the royal is thicker, longer, and more pointed; the green shell is thicker, and it is longer ripening; the green shell, after opening, preserves its freshness eight or nine days; the mace is more substantial, and three times as long as that of the queen nutmeg, and its stripes or thongs (from fifteen to seventeen principal ones) are of a livelier red; they are also broader, longer, and thicker, and not only embrace the nut through its whole length, but pass it, and cross under it. The royal nutmeg remains on the tree a long time after the opening of the green shell, and gives birth to an insect in the shell that feeds upon it. The queen nutmeg produces much smaller nuts, well marked by a longitudinal groove on one side; it is round, and the green shell is not so thick; the mace, composed of nine or ten principal stripes, grows only half down the nut, leaving it at liberty to escape, and plant itself. By thus detaching itself, the nut prevents the insect from destroying it; the green shell also, changing at the end of two or three days, soon falls, and separates from the nut.
Nutmegs should be chosen large, round, heavy and firm, of a lightish grey colour on the outside, and the inside beautifully marbled, of a strong fragrant smell, warm aromatic taste, and a fat, oily body. They are subject to be worm-eaten, unless properly prepared. Particular care should be taken that the worm holes are not filled up; the best manner of packing them is in dry chunam. The oblong kind, and the smaller ones should be rejected. For freight, 15 Cwt. are allowed to a ton.
OIL OF NUTMEGS is expressed from the imperfect nutmegs, and such as are unfit for the European market: there are three sorts of it, commonly called oil of mace. The best is brought in stone jars; softish, of a yellowish colour, an agreeable fragrant smell, greatly resembling that of the nutmeg. This is denominated Banda soap, and should be chosen free from impurities, and of a pleasant smell and good colour. The next comes from Holland, in solid masses, generally flat, and of a square figure; paler coloured, weaker in its smell, and inferior in its quality to that of India. The last is the worst, and seems to be a composition of suet, or some such matter, flavoured with a little of the genuine oil of nutmegs.
MACE, (Jawatri, Hind., Jatipatri, San.), is a thin flat membraneous substance enveloping the nutmeg; of a lively reddish yellow, saffron-like colour, of a pleasant aromatic smell, and a warm, bitterish, pungent taste. Mace should be chosen fresh, tough, oleaginous, of an extremely fragrant
smell, of a bright reddish yellow, the brighter the better; the smaller pieces are esteemed the best. The state it is in when packed, should be particularly attended to; if it be too dry, it will be broken, and lose much of its fragrance; if too moist, it is subject to decay, and breed worms. The best mode of packing is in bales, pressed down close and firm, which preserves its fragrance and consistence.
A production is met with on the Coast of Malabar so like mace, that at first sight it is not easy to be distinguished; it differs, however, in form from real mace, which appears of a leafy texture, while this is in thinner filaments; the colour is exactly alike, but this has not the least spicy flavour, and when chewed, has a kind of resiny taste. The ton of mace is 8 Cwt.
LANTORE, or Great Banda, is to the N. of Banda Neira. It is unhealthy the water is said to be very bad, and the smoke which descends from the volcano on Gonong Apee, is represented as being particularly noxious.
GONONG APEE is likewise to the N. of Banda Neira; it derives its name from a large volcano, which constantly emits smoke, and sometimes cinders and stones. A new crater has recently opened, and is in activity.
PULO WAY is about nine miles to the W. of Gonong Apee; here is a strong fort. It is esteemed the most healthy of the group, and produces nutmegs in abundance. Both the nutmegs and mace grown on this island, are said to be superior to those from the other islands.
PULO RONDO, or Pulo Roon, is about four miles further, in a somewhat more northerly direction. The Dutch have not inhabited it; it has therefore become a wilderness.
ROSENGYN is about seven miles to the S. E. of Lantore; it produces nutmegs, mace, and some yams, and feeds a few cattle.
PULO PISANG is about two miles N. E. from Banda Neira, and yields some fine fruits as well as nutmegs and mace. The other three islands are uninhabited, being little more than barren rocks.
AMBOYNA is the largest of the islands denominated the Clove Islands. It is divided into two parts, a greater and a less peninsula; the largest is called Hitoo, and is about twelve leagues long, and two and a half broad; the other, called Leytimoor, is about five leagues long, and one and a half broad. This is the southernmost part of the island, on which stand the fort and town. The islands subordinate to Amboyna are ten in number:-Ceram, which is equal in size to all the rest; Ceram Laut, Bouro, Amblaw, Manipa, Kelang, Bonoa, Haraucka, Saparoua, and
Noossa Laut; but it is in Amboyna, and the three last islands only, that cloves are now cultivated.
Fort Victoria, the capital of the island, is in latitude 3° 40′ S., and longitude 128° 15' E. The bay is very deep, and formed at its entrance by Allang Point on its W. side, and Noessaniva Point to the E. The best anchorage is abreast the town, and rather above the wharf, in from 20 to 35 fathoms; moor with hawsers to the anchors, which are placed at convenient distances on the shore for that purpose: the bank being very steep, ships are frequently driven off by neglecting this precaution.
PROVISIONS AND REFRESHMENTS.-Fresh meat for a ship's crew is seldom to be procured. There are no sheep, and poultry is scarce and dear; a few deer and wild hogs are in the woods, but difficult to be got. Water is procured up the harbour, seven or eight miles from where the ships lay. The watering place is up a small inlet; it is a fine full river, running down from the rocks, and with hoses you can fill your butts in a very short time: it will be necessary to get the boats in and out as near high water as possible. You will be directed to the watering place by two houses, which are situated at about a musket shot on each side of it.
HARAUCKA.-This island is about three miles to the E. of Am
SAPAROUA is about 35 miles from Amboyna. This island and Noossa Laut yield an abundance of fine cloves.
NOOSSA LAUT is the easternmost and smallest of the Clove Islands, and bears from Amboyna E. § N. about 40 miles' distance.
ARTICLES PROCURABLE AT AMBOYNA, &c. WITH DIRECTIONS.
CLOVES, (Laung, Hind., Lavanga, San.)-The clove-tree is a native of the Molucca Islands, particularly Amboyna, where it is principally cultivated. It is very handsome, somewhat resembling a large pear-tree; its stem is straight, and at the distance of five feet from the ground its branches begin; the bark is thin and smooth, and adheres closely to the wood. The wood is heavy and hard; the leaves stand two and two opposite, about a hand's breadth long, and two inches broad, pointed, ribbed, and reddish on the upper side, but smooth and of a bright green colour on the under side; they have a very aromatic smell when bruised between the fingers. When a tree is nine years old, and has been well attended to, it begins to yield cloves; they appear in the beginning of the rainy season; they are then little dark green longish buds, and become perfect cloves in shape in the month of August or September; they then turn yellow, and afterwards red,