History of Sumatera by William Marsden Chapter 17 ( Account of The Inland Country of Korinchi- expedition to The serampei and Sungei-tenang Countries)
ACCOUNT OF THE INLAND COUNTRY OF KORINCHI.
EXPEDITION TO THE SERAMPEI AND SUNGEI-TENANG COUNTRIES.
EXPEDITION TO THE SERAMPEI AND SUNGEI-TENANG COUNTRIES.
COUNTRY OF KORINCHI.
At the back of the range of high mountains by which the countries of Indrapura and Anak-sungei are bounded lies the district or valley of Korinchi, which, from its secluded situation, has hitherto been little known to Europeans. In the year 1800 Mr. Charles Campbell, whose name I have had frequent occasion to mention, was led to visit this spot, in the laudable pursuit of objects for the improvement of natural history, and from his correspondence I shall extract such parts as I have reason to hope will be gratifying to the reader.
MR. CAMPBELL'S JOURNEY.
Says this indefatigable traveller:
The country of Korinchi first occupied my attention. From the sea-coast at Moco-moco to the foot of the mountains cost us three days' weary journey, and although our path was devious I cannot estimate the distance at less than thirty miles, for it was late on the fourth day when we began to ascend. Your conjecture that the ridge is broader betwixt the plains of Anak-sungei and valley of Korinchi than that which we see from Bencoolen is just. Our route in general lay north-east until we attained the summit of the first high range, from which elevated situation, through an opening in the wood, the Pagi or Nassau Islands were clearly visible. During the next day our course along the ridge of hills was a little to the northward of northwest, and for the two following days almost due north, through as noble a forest as was ever penetrated by man. On the evening of the last we descended by a steep and seemingly short path from the summit of the second range (for there are obviously two) into the Korinchi country.
SITUATION OF LAKE.
This descent did not occupy us more than twenty minutes, so that the valley must lie at a great height above the level of the sea; but it was yet a few days march to the inhabited and cultivated land on the border of the great lake, which I conjecture to be situated directly behind Indrapura, or north-east from the mouth of that river. There are two lakes, but one of them is inconsiderable. I sailed for some time on the former, which may be nearly as broad as the strait between Bencoolen and Rat Island. My companions estimated it at seven miles; but the eye is liable to much deception, and, having seen nothing for many days but rivulets, the grandeur of the sheet of water, when it first burst upon our sight, perhaps induced us to form too high a notion of its extent. Its banks were studded with villages; it abounds with fish, particularly the summah, a species of cyprinus; its waters are clear and beautiful from the reflection of the black and shining sand which covers the bottom in many places to the depth of eight or ten inches.
The inhabitants are below the common stature of the Malays, with harder visages and higher cheekbones, well knit in their limbs, and active; not deficient in hospitality, but jealous of strangers. The women, excepting a few of the daughters of the chiefs, were in general illfavoured, and even savage in their aspect. At the village of In-juan on the borders of the lake I saw some of them with rings of copper and shells among their hair; they wore destars round their heads like the men, and almost all of them had siwars or small daggers at their sides. They were not shut up or concealed from us, but mixed with our party, on the contrary, with much frankness.
The people dwell in hordes, many families being crowded together in one long building. That in which I lived gave shelter to twenty-five families. The front was one long undivided verandah, where the unmarried men slept; the back part was partitioned into small cabins, each of which had a round hole with a door to fit it, and through this the female inmates crept backwards and forwards in the most awkward manner and ridiculous posture. This house was in length two hundred and thirty feet, and elevated from the ground. Those belonging to the chiefs were smaller, well constructed of timber and plank, and covered with shingles or thin plates of board bound on with rattans, about the size and having much the appearance of our slates.
The dresses of the young women of rank were pretty enough. A large blue turband, woven with silver chains, which, meeting behind and crossing, were fastened to the earrings in festoons, decorated their heads. In this was placed a large plume of cock's feathers, bending forward over the face. The jacket was blue, of a silky texture, their own work, and bordered with small gold chain. The body-dress, likewise of their own weaving, was of cotton mingled with silk, richly striped and mixed with gold thread; but they wear it no lower than the knees. The youths of fashion were in a kind of harlequin habit, the forepart of the trousers white, the back-part blue; their jacket after the same fashion. They delighted much in an instrument made from some part of the iju palm-tree, which resembled and produced a sound like the jews-harp.
Their domestic economy (I speak of the houses of the chiefs) seemed better regulated than it generally is in these countries; they seemed tolerably advanced in the art of cookery, and had much variety of food; such as the flesh of deer, which they take in rattan snares, wild ducks, abounding on the lake; green pigeons, quails innumerable; and a variety of fish beside the summah already mentioned, and the ikan gadis, a species of carp which attains to a greater size here than in the rivers.
The potato, which was introduced there many years ago, is now a common article of food, and cultivated with some attention. Their plantations supply many esculent herbs, fruits, and roots; but the coconut, although reared as a curiosity, is abortive in these inland regions, and its place is supplied by the buah kras (Juglans camirium), of which they also make their torches. Excellent tobacco is grown there, also cotton and indigo, the small leafed kind. They get some silk from Palembang, and rear a little themselves. The communication is more frequent with the north-west shore than with the eastern, and of late, since the English have been settled at Pulo Chinco, they prefer going there for opium to the more tedious (though less distant) journey by which they formerly sought it at Moco-moco.
In their cockpits the gold-scales are frequent, and I have seen considerable quantities weighed out by the losers. This metal, I am informed, they get in their own country, although they studiously evaded all inquiries on the subject.
They make gunpowder, and it is a common sport among the young boys to fire it out of bamboos. In order to increase its strength, in their opinion, they mingle it with pepper-dust.
In a small recess on the margin of the lake, overhung with very rugged cliffs and accessible only by water, I saw one of those receptacles of misery to which the leprous and others afflicted with diseases supposed to be contagious are banished. I landed much against the remonstrances of my conductors, who would not quit the boat. There were in all seven of these unfortunate people basking on the beach and warming the wretched remains of their bodies in the sun. They were fed at stated periods by the joint contribution of the neighbouring villages, and I was given to understand that any attempt to quit this horrid exile was punished with death.
I had little time for botanizing; but I found there many plants unknown to the lowlands. Among them were a species of prune, the water-hemlock, and the strawberry. This last was like that species which grows in our woods; but it was insipid. I brought the roots with me to Fort Marlborough, where it lingered a year or two after fruiting and gradually died.* I found there also a beautiful kind of the Hedychium coronarium, now ranked among the kaempferias. It was of a pale orange, and had a most grateful odour. The girls wear it in their hair, and its beautiful head of lily flowers is used in the silent language of love, to the practice of which, during your stay here, I suppose you were no stranger, and which indicates a delicacy of sentiment one would scarcely expect to find in the character of so rude a people.
(*Footnote. This plant has fruited also in England, but doubts are entertained of its being really a fragaria, By Dr. Smith it is termed a potentilla.)
CHARACTER OF PEOPLE.
Although the chiefs received us with hospitality yet the mass of people considered our intentions as hostile, and seemed jealous of our intrusion. Of their women however they were not at all jealous, and the familiarity of these was unrestrained. They entertained us with dances after their fashion, and made some rude attempts at performing a sort of pantomime. I may now close this detail with observing that the natives of this mountainous region have stronger animal spirits than those of the plains, and pass their lives with more variety than the torpid inhabitants of the coast; that they breathe a spirit of independence, and being frequently engaged in warfare, village against village, they would be better prepared to resist any invasion of their liberties.
They took great offence at a large package carried by six men which contained our necessaries, insisting that within it we had concealed a priuk api, for so they call a mortar or howitzer, one of which had been used with success against a village on the borders of their country during the rebellion of the son of the sultan of Moco-moco; and even when satisfied respecting this they manifested so much suspicion that we found it necessary to be constantly on our guard, and were once nearly provoked by their petulance and treachery to proceed to violence. When they found our determination they seemed humble, but were not even then to be trusted; and when we were on our return a friendly chief sent us intelligence that an ambuscade had been laid for us in one of the narrow passes of the mountains. We pursued our journey however without meeting any obstruction.
On the subject of gold I have only to add to Mr. Campbell's information that, in the enumeration by the natives of places where there are gold-mines, Karinchi is always included.
EXPEDITION TO INTERIOR COUNTRY.
Opportunities of visiting the interior parts of the island have so seldom occurred, or are likely to occur, that I do not hesitate to present to the reader an abstract of the Journal kept by Lieutenant Hastings Dare (now a captain on the Bengal establishment) whilst commanding an expedition to the countries of Ipu, Serampei, and Sungei-tenang, which border to the south-east on that of Korinchi above described; making at the same time my acknowledgments to that gentleman for his obliging communication of the original, and my apologies for the brevity to which my subject renders it necessary to confine the narrative.
ORIGIN OF DISTURBANCES.
Sultan Asing, brother to the present sultan of Moco-moco, in conjunction with Pa Muncha and Sultan Sidi, two hill-chiefs his relations, residing at Pakalang-jambu and Jambi, raised a small force with which, in the latter part of the year 1804, they made a descent on Ipu, one of the Company's districts, burnt several villages and carried off a number of the inhabitants. The guard of native Malay troops not being sufficiently strong to check these depredations, a party was ordered from Fort Marlborough under the command of Lieutenant Hastings Dare, consisting of eighty-three sepoy officers and men, with five lascars, twentytwo Bengal convicts, and eighteen of the Bugis-guard; in the whole one hundred and twenty-eight.
November 22 1804. Marched from Fort Marlborough, and December 3 arrived at Ipu. The roads extremely bad from the torrents of rain that fell. 4th. Mr. Hawthorne, the Resident, informed us that the enemy had fortified themselves at a place called Tabe-si-kuddi, but, on hearing of the approach of the detachment, had gone off to the hills in the Sungeitenang country and fortified themselves at Koto Tuggoh, a village that had been a receptacle for all the vagabonds from the districts near the coast. 13th. Having procured coolies and provisions, for which we have been hitherto detained, quitted Ipu in an east-north-east direction, and passed through several pepper and rice plantations. At dusun Baru one of our people caught a fine large fish, called ikan gadis. 14th. Marched in a south-east direction; crossed several rivulets, and reached again the banks of Ipu river, which we crossed. It was about four feet deep and very rapid. Passed the night at dusun Arah. The country rather hilly; thermometer 88 degrees at noon. 15th. Reached dusun Tanjong, the last place in the Ipu district where rice or any other provision is to be found, and these were sent on from Talang Puttei, this place being deserted by its inhabitants, several of whom the enemy had carried off with them as slaves. The country very hilly, and roads, in consequence of the heavy rains, bad and slippery. 16th. Marched in a north and east direction.
After crossing the Ayer Ikan stream twice we arrived at some hot springs, about three or four miles in the winding course we were obliged to take from dusun Tanjong, situated in a low swampy spot, about sixty yards in circumference. This is very hot in every part of it, excepting (which is very extraordinary) one place on its eastern side, where, although a hot spring is bubbling up within one yard of it, the water running from it is as cold as common spring water. In consequence of the excessive heat of the place and softness of the ground none of us could get close to the springs; but upon putting the thermometer within three yards of them it immediately rose to 120 degrees of Fahrenheit. We could not bear our fingers any time in the water. It tasted copperish and bitter; there was a strong sulphurous smell at the place, and a green sediment at the bottom and sides of the spring, with a reddish or copper-coloured scum floating on the surface. After again crossing the Ikan stream we arrived at dusun Simpang. The enemy had been here, and had burned nearly half of the village and carried off the inhabitants. The road from Tanjong to Simpang was entirely through a succession of pepper-gardens and rice plantations. We are now among the hills. Country in a higher state of cultivation than near the coast, but nearly deserted, and must soon become a waste. Could not get intelligence of the enemy. Built huts on Ayer Ikan at Napah Kapah. 17th. Marched in a south direction and crossed Ayer Tubbu, passing a number of durian trees on its bank. Again crossed the stream several times. Arrived early at Tabe-si-kuddi, a small talang, where the enemy had built three batteries or entrenchments and left behind them a quantity of grain, but vegetating and unfit for use. Previously to our reaching these entrenchments some of the detachment got wounded in the feet with ranjaus, set very thickly in the ground in every direction, and which obliged us to be very cautious in our steps until we arrived at the banks of a small rivulet, called the Nibong, two or three miles beyond them.
Ranjaus are slips of bamboo sharpened at each end, the part that is stuck in the ground being thicker than the opposite end, which decreases to a fine thin point, and is hardened by dipping it in oil and applying it to the smoke of a lamp near the flame. They are planted in the footpaths, sometimes erect, sometimes sloping, in small holes, or in muddy and miry places, and when trodden upon (for they are so well concealed as not to be easily seen) they pierce through the foot and make a most disagreeable wound, the bamboo leaving in it a rough hairy stuff it has on its outside, which irritates, inflames, and prevents it from healing. The whole of the road this day lay over a succession of steep hills, and in the latter part covered with deep forests. The whole of the detachment did not reach our huts on the bank of the Nibong stream till evening, much time being consumed in bringing on the mortar and magazine. Picked up pouches, musket stocks, etc., and saw new huts, near one of which was a quantity of clotted blood and a fresh grave. 18th. Proceeded east-north-east and passed several rivulets. Regained the banks of the Ipu river, running north-east to south-west here tolerably broad and shallow, being a succession of rapids over a rough stony bed. Encamped both this night and the last where the enemy had built huts. 19th. Marched in a north direction. More of the detachment wounded by ranjaus planted in the pathways. Roads slippery and bad from rains, and the hills so steep it is with difficulty we get the mortar and heavy baggage forward. Killed a green snake with black spots along its back, about four feet long, four to five inches in girt, and with a thick stumpy tail. The natives say its bite is venomous. Our course today has been north along the banks of the Ipu river; the noise of the rapids so great that when near it we can with difficulty hear each other speak. 20th. Continued along the river, crossing it several times. Came to a hot spring in the water of which the thermometer rose to 100 degrees at a considerable distance from its source. The road today tolerably level and good.
We were much plagued by a small kind of leech, which dropped on us from the leaves of the trees, and got withinside our clothes. We were in consequence on our halting every day obliged to strip and bathe ourselves in order to detach them from our bodies, filled with the blood they had sucked from us. They were not above an inch in length, and before they fixed themselves as thin as a needle, so that they could penetrate our dress in any part. We encamped this evening at the conflux of the Simpang stream and Ipu river. Our huts were generally thatched with the puar or wild cardamum leaf, which grows in great abundance on the banks of the rivers in this part of the country. It bears a pleasant acid fruit, growing much in the same way as the maize. In long journeys through the woods, when other provisions fail, the natives live principally on this. The leaf is something like that of the plantain, but not nearly so large. 21st. Arrived at a spot called Dingau-benar, from whence we were obliged to return on account of the coolies not being able to descend a hill which was at least a hundred and fifty yards high, and nearly perpendicular. In effecting it we were obliged to cling to the trees and roots, without which assistance it would have been impracticable. It was nearly evening before one half of the detachment had reached the bottom, and it rained so excessively hard that we were obliged to remain divided for the night; the rear party on the top of the steep hill, and the advanced on the brow of another hill. One of the guides and a Malay coolie were drowned in attempting to find a ford across the Ipu river. I was a long time before we could get any fire, everything being completely soaked through, and the greater part of the poor fellows had not time to build huts for themselves. Military disposition for guarding baggage, preventing surprise, etc. 22nd. We had much difficulty in getting the mortar and its bed down, being obliged to make use of long thick rattans tied to them and successively to several trees. It was really admirable to observe the patience of the sepoys and Bengal convicts on this occasion. On mustering the coolies, found that nearly one half had run during the night, which obliged us to fling away twenty bags of rice, besides salt and other articles. Our course lay north, crossing the river several times. My poor faithful dog Gruff was carried away by the violence of the stream and lost. We were obliged to make bridges by cutting down tall trees, laying them across the stream, and interlacing them with rattans.
We were now between two ranges of very high hills; on our right hand Bukit Pandang, seen from a great distance at sea; the road shockingly bad. Encamped on the western bank. 23rd. Marched in a north direction, the roads almost impassable. The river suddenly swelled so much that the rear party could not join the advanced, which was so fortunate as to occupy huts built by the enemy. There were fires in two of them. We were informed however that the Serampei and Sungei-tenang people often come this distance to catch fish, which they dry and carry back to their country. At certain times of the year great quantities of the ringkis and ikan-gadis are taken, besides a kind of large conger-eel. We frequently had fish when time would admit of the people catching them. It is impossible to describe the difficulties we had to encounter in consequence of the heavy rains, badness of the roads, and rapidity of the river. The sepoy officer and many men ill of fluxes and fevers, and lame with swelled and sore feet. 24th. Military precautions. Powder damaged. Thunder and lightning with torrents of rain. Almost the whole of the rice rotten or sour. 25th. Continued to march up the banks of the river. No inhabitants in this part of the country.
IRREGULARITY OF COMPASS.
The compass for these several days has been very irregular. We have two with us and they do not at all agree. The road less bad. At one place we saw bamboos of the thickness of a man's thigh. There were myriads of very small flies this evening, which teased us much. Occupied some huts we found on the eastern bank. This is Christmas evening; to us, God knows, a dull one. Our wines and liquors nearly expended, and we have but one miserable half-starved chicken left although we have been on short allowance the whole way. 26th. Roads tolerable. Passed a spot called Kappah, and soon after a waterfall named Ipu-machang, about sixty feet high. Picked up a sick man belonging to the enemy. He informed us that there were between two and three hundred men collected at Koto Tuggoh, under the command of Sutan Sidi, Sutan Asing, and Pa Muncha. These three chiefs made a festival, killing buffaloes, as is usual with the natives of Sumatra on such occasions, at this place, and received every assistance from the principal Dupati, who is also father-in-law to Pa Muncha. They possess sixty stand of muskets, beside blunderbusses and wall-pieces. They had quitted the Company's districts about twenty-three days ago, and are gone, some to Koto Tuggoh, and others to Pakalang-jambu. 27th. Marched in a north-north-east direction; passed over a steep hill which took us three hours hard walking. The river is now very narrow and rapid, not above twelve feet across; it is a succession of waterfalls every three or four yards. After this our road was intricate, winding, and bad. We had to ascend a high chasm formed in the rock, which was effected by ladders from one shelf to another. Arrived at the foot of Bukit Pandang, where we found huts, and occupied them for the night. We have been ascending the whole of this day. Very cold and rainy. At night we were glad to make large fires and use our blankets and woollen clothes. Having now but little rice left we were obliged to put ourselves to an allowance of one bamboo or gallon measure among ten men; and the greater part of that rotten.
ASCEND A HIGH MOUNTAIN.
28th. Ascended Bukit Pandang in an east-north-east direction. Reached a small spring of water called Pondo Kubang, the only one to be met with till the hill is descended. About two miles from the top, and from thence all the way up, the trees and ground were covered very thick with moss; the trees much stunted, and altogether the appearance was barren and gloomy; to us particularly so, for we could find little or nothing wherewith to build our huts, nor procure a bit of dry wood to light a fire. In order to make one for dressing the victuals, Lieutenant Dare was compelled to break up one of his boxes, otherwise he and Mr. Alexander, the surgeon, must have eaten them raw. It rained hard all night, and the coolies and most of the party were obliged to lie down on the wet ground in the midst of it.
MEN DIE FROM SEVERITY OF THE WEATHER.
It was exceedingly cold to our feelings; in the evening the thermometer was down to 50 degrees, and in the night to 45 degrees. In consequence of the cold, inclemency, and fatigue to which the coolies were exposed, seven of them died that night. The lieutenant and surgeon made themselves a kind of shelter with four tarpaulins that were fortunately provided to cover the medicine chest and surgical instruments, but the place was so small that it scarcely held them both. In the evening when the former was sitting on his campstool, whilst the people were putting up the tarpaulins, a very small bird, perfectly black, came hopping about the stool, picking up the worms from the moss. It was so tame and fearless that it frequently perched itself on his foot and on different parts of the stool; which shows that these parts of the country must be very little frequented by human beings. 29th. Descended Bukit Pandang. Another coolie died this morning. We are obliged to fling away shells. After walking some time many of the people recovered, as it was principally from cold and damps they suffered. Crossed a stream called Inum where we saw several huts. In half an hour more arrived at the banks of the greater Ayer Dikit River, which is here shallow, rapid, and about eighty yards broad. We marched westerly along its banks, and reached a hut opposite to a spot called Rantau Kramas, where we remained for the night, being prevented from crossing by a flood. 30th. Cut down a large tree and threw it across the river; it reached about halfway over. With this and the assistance of rattans tied to the opposite side we effected our passage and arrived at Rantau Kramas. Sent off people to Ranna Alli, one of the Serampei villages, about a day's march from hence, for provisions. Thermometer 59 degrees.
The greater Ayer Dikit river, on the north side of which this place lies, runs nearly from east to west. There are four or five bamboo huts at it, for the temporary habitation of travellers passing and repassing this way, being in the direction from the Serampei to the Sungei-tenang country. These huts are covered with bamboos (in plenty here) split and placed like pantiles transversely over each other, forming, when the bamboos are well-grown, a capital and lasting roof (see above). 31st. A Malay man and woman taken by our people report that the enemy thirteen days ago had proceeded two days march beyond Koto Tuggoh. Received some provisions from Ranna Alli. The enemy, we are informed, have dug holes and put long stakes into them, set spring-spears, and planted the road very thickly with ranjaus, and were collecting their force at Koto Tuggoh (signifying the strong fortress) to receive us. 1805. January 1st and 2nd. Received some small supplies of provisions.
COME UP WITH THE ENEMY.
On the 3rd we were saluted by shouting and firing of the enemy from the heights around us. Parties were immediately sent off in different directions as the nature of the ground allowed.
The advanced party had only time to fire two rounds when the enemy retired to a strong position on the top of a steep hill where they had thrown up a breastwork, which they disputed for a short time. On our getting possession of it they divided into three parties and fled. We had one sepoy killed and several of the detachment wounded by the ranjaus. Many of the enemy were killed and wounded and the paths they had taken covered with blood; but it is impossible to tell their numbers as they always carry them off the moment they drop, considering it a disgrace to leave them on the field of battle. If they get any of the bodies of their enemies they immediately strike off the head and fix it on a long pole, carrying it to their village as a trophy, and addressing to it every sort of abusive language. Those taken alive in battle are made slaves. After completely destroying everything in the battery we marched, and arrived at the top of a very high hill, where we built our huts for the evening. The road was thickly planted with ranjaus which, with the heavy rains, impeded our progress and prevented us from reaching a place called Danau-pau. Our course today has been north-east and easterly, the roads shockingly bad, and we were obliged to leave behind several coolies and two sepoys who were unable to accompany us. 4th. Obliged to fling away the bullets of the cartridges, three-fourths of which were damaged, and other articles. Most of the detachment sick with fluxes and fevers, or wounded in the feet. Marched in an eastern direction. Reached a spot very difficult to pass, being knee-deep in mud for a considerable way, with ranjaus concealed in the mud, and spring-spears set in many places. We were obliged to creep through a thicket of canes and bamboos. About noon the advanced party arrived at a lake and discovered that the enemy were on the opposite side of a small stream that ran from the lake, where they had entrenched themselves behind four small batteries in a most advantageous position, being on the top of a steep hill, of difficult access, with the stream on one side, the lake on the other, and the other parts surrounded by a swamp.
ENTRENCHMENTS ATTACKED AND CARRIED.
We immediately commenced the attack, but were unable, from the number of ranjaus in the only accessible part, to make a push on to the enemy. However about one o'clock we effected our purpose, and completely got possession of the entrenchments, which, had they been properly defended, must have cost us more than the half of our detachment. We had four sepoys severely wounded, and almost the whole of our feet dreadfully cut. Numbers of the enemy were killed and wounded. They defended each of the batteries with some obstinacy against our fire, but when once we came near them they could not stand our arms, and ran in every direction. At this place there are no houses nor inhabitants, but only temporary huts, built by the Sungei-tenang people, who come here occasionally to fish. The lake, which is named Danau-pau, has a most beautiful appearance, being like a great amphitheatre, surrounded by high and steep mountains covered with forests. It is about two miles in diameter. We occupied some huts built by the enemy. The place is thickly surrounded with bamboos.
MOTIVES FOR RETURNING TO THE COAST.
In consequence of the number of our sick and wounded, the small strength of coolies to carry their baggage, and the want of medicines and ammunition, as well as of provisions, we thought it advisable to return to Rantau Kramas; and to effect this we were obliged to fling away the mortar-bed, shells, and a number of other things. We marched at noon, and arrived in the evening at the top of the hill where we had before encamped, and remained for the night. 6th. Reached Rantau Kramas. 7th. Marching in torrents of rain. People exceedingly harassed, reduced, and emaciated. Relieved by the arrival of Serampei people with some provisions from Ranna Alli. 8th. After a most fatiguing march arrived at that place half-dead with damps and cold. The bearers of the litters for the sick were absolutely knocked up, and we were obliged to the sepoys for getting on as we did. Our route was north-west with little variation. 9th. Remained at Ranna Alli. This serampei village consists of about fifteen houses, and may contain a hundred and fifty or two hundred inhabitants. It is thickly planted all round with a tall hedge of live bamboos, on the outside of which ranjaus are planted to the distance of thirty or forty feet. Withinside of the hedge there is a bamboo pagar or paling. It is situated on a steep hill surrounded by others, which in many places are cleared to their tops, where the inhabitants have their ladangs or rice plantations. They appeared to be a quiet, inoffensive set of people; their language different from the Malayan, which most of them spoke, but very imperfectly and hardly to be understood by us. On our approach the women and children ran to their ladangs, being, as their husbands informed us, afraid of the sepoys.
Of the women whom we saw almost every one had the goitres or swellings under the throat; and it seemed to be more prevalent with these than with the men. One woman in particular had two protuberances dangling at her neck as big as quart bottles.
There are three dupatis and four mantris to this village, to whom we made presents, and afterwards to the wives and families of the inhabitants. 10th and 11th. Preparing for our march to Moco-moco, where we can recruit our force, and procure supplies of stores and ammunition. 12th. Marched in a north and north-west direction.
Passed over a bridge of curious construction across the Ayer Abu River. It was formed of bamboos tied together with iju ropes and suspended to the trees, whose branches stretched nearly over the stream.
The Serampei women are the worst-favoured creatures we ever saw, and uncouth in their manners. Arrived at Tanjong Kasiri, another fortified village, more populous than Ranna Alli. 13th. The sick and heavy baggage were ordered to Tanjong Agung, another Serampei village.
14th. Arrived at Ayer Grau or Abu, a small river, within a yard or two of which we saw columns of smoke issuing from the earth, where there were hot springs of water bubbling up in a number of places. The stream was quite warm for several yards, and the ground and stones were so hot that there was no standing on them for any length of time. The large pieces of quartz, pumice, and other stones apparently burnt, induce us to suppose there must have formerly been a volcano at this spot, which is a deep vale, surrounded by high hills. Arrived much fatigued at Tanjong Agung, where the head dupati received us in his best style.
He seemed to know more of European customs and manners than those whom we have hitherto met with, and here, for the first time since quitting the Ipu district, we got coconuts, which he presented to us.
We saw numbers of cassia-trees in our march today. The bark, which the natives brought us in quantities, is sweet, but thick and coarse, and much inferior to cinnamon. This is the last and best fortified village in the Serampei country, bordering on the forests between that and Anak-Sungei.
They have a custom here of never allowing any animal to be killed in any part of the village but the balei or town hall, unless the person wishing to do otherwise consents to pay a fine of one fathom of cotton cloth to the priest for his permission. The old dupati told us there had been formerly a great deal of sickness and bloodshed in the village, and it had been predicted that, unless this custom were complied with, the like would happen again. We paid the fine, had the prayers of the priest, and killed our goats where and as we pleased. 16th. Marched in a south-westerly direction, and, after passing many steep hills, reached the lesser Ayer Dikit River, which we crossed, and built our huts on its western bank. 17th. Marched in a west, and afterwards a south, direction; the roads, in consequence of the rain ceasing today, tolerably dry and good, but over high hills. Arrived at Ayer Prikan, and encamped on its western bank; its course north and south over a rough, stony bed; very rapid, and about thirty yards across, at the foot of Bukit Lintang. Saw today abundance of cassiatrees. 18th. Proceeded to ascend Bukit Lintang, which in the first part was excessively steep and fatiguing; our route north and north-west when descending, south-south-west. Arrived at one of the sources of the Sungei-ipu. Descending still farther we reached a small spring where we built our huts. 19th. On our march this day we were gratified by the receipt of letters from our friends at Bencoolen, by the way of Moco-moco, from whence the Resident, Mr. Russell, sent us a supply of wine and other refreshments, which we had not tasted for fourteen days. Our course lay along the banks of the Sungei-ipu, and we arrived at huts prepared for us by Mr. Russell. 20th. At one time our guide lost the proper path by mistaking for it the track of a rhinoceros (which are in great numbers in these parts), and we got into a place where we were teased with myriads of leeches. Our road, excepting two or three small hills, was level and good. Reached the confluence of the Ipu and Si Luggan Rivers, the latter of which rises in the Korinchi country. Passed Gunong Payong, the last hill, as we approached Moco-moco, near to which had been a village formerly burnt and the inhabitants made slaves by Pa Muncha and the then tuanku mudo (son of the sultan). 21st. Arrived at talang Rantau Riang, the first Moco-moco or Anak-Sungei village, where we found provisions dressed for us. At dusun Si Ballowe, to which our road lay south-easterly, through pepper and rice plantations, sampans were in readiness to convey us down the river. This place is remarkable for an arau tree (casuarina), the only one met with at such a distance from the sea. The country is here level in comparison with what we have passed through, and the soil rather sandy, with a mixture of red clay. 22nd. The course of the river is south-west and west with many windings. Arrived at Moco-moco.
DESCRIPTION OF MOCO-MOCO.
Fort Ann lies on the southern and the settlement on the northern side of the Si Luggan River, which name belongs properly to the place also, and that of Moco-moco to a small village higher up. The bazaar consists of about one hundred houses, all full of children. At the northern end is the sultan's, which has nothing particular to distinguish it, but only its being larger than other Malay houses. Great quantities of fish are procured at this place, and sold cheap. The trade is principally with the hill-people, in salt, piece-goods, iron, steel, and opium; for which the returns are provisions, timber, and a little gold-dust. Formerly there was a trade carried on with the Padang and other ate angin people, but it is now dropped. The soil is sandy, low, and flat.
It being still necessary to make an example of the Sungei-tenang people for assisting the three hostile chiefs in their depredations, in order thereby to deter others from doing the same in future, and the men being now recovered from their fatigue and furnished with the requisite supplies, the detachment began to march on the 9th of February for Ayer Dikit. It now consists of Lieutenant Dare, Mr. Alexander, surgeon, seventy sepoys, including officers, twenty-seven lascars and Bengal convicts, and eleven of the bugis-guard. Left the old mortar and took with us one of smaller calibre.
ACCOUNT OF SERAMPEI COUNTRY AND PEOPLE.
From the 10th to the 22nd occupied in our march to the Serampei village of Ranna Alli. The people of this country acknowledge themselves the subjects of the sultan of Jambi, who sometimes but rarely exacts a tribute from them of a buffalo, a tail of gold, and a hundred bamboos of rice from each village. They are accustomed to carry burdens of from sixty to ninety pounds weight on journeys that take them twenty or thirty days; and it astonishes a lowlander to see with what ease they walk over these hills, generally going a shuffling or ambling pace. Their loads are placed in a long triangular basket, supported by a fillet across the forehead, resting upon the back and back part of the head, the broadest end of the triangle being uppermost, considerably above the head, and the small end coming down as low as the loins. The Serampei country, comprehending fifteen fortified and independent dusuns, beside talangs or small open villages, is bounded on the north and north-west by Korinchi, on the east, south-east, and south by Pakalang-jambu and Sungei-tenang, and on the west and south-west by the greater Ayer Dikit River and chain of high mountains bordering on the Sungei-ipu country. 23rd. Reached Rantau Kramas. Took possession of the batteries, which the enemy had considerably improved in our absence, collecting large quantities of stones; but they were not manned, probably from not expecting our return so soon. 24th. Arrived at those of Danau-pau, which had also been strengthened. The roads being dry and weather fine we are enabled to make tolerably long marches. Our advanced party nearly caught one of the enemy planting ranjaus, and in retreating he wounded himself with them. 25th. Passed many small rivulets discharging themselves into the lake at this place.
COME UP WITH THE ENEMY.
26th. The officer commanding the advanced party sent word that the enemy were at a short distance ahead; that they had felled a number of trees to obstruct the road, and had thrown an entrenchment across it, extending from one swamp and precipice to another, where they waited to receive us. When the whole of the detachment had come up we marched on to the attack, scrambled over the trees, and with great difficulty got the mortar over.
FIRST ATTACK FAILS.
The first onset was not attended with success, and our men were dropping fast, not being able to advance on account of the ranjaus, which almost pinned their feet to the ground. Seeing that the entrenchments were not to be carried in front, a subedar with thirty sepoys and the bugis-guard were ordered to endeavour to pass the swamp on the right, find out a pathway, and attack the enemy on the flank and rear, while the remainder should, on a preconcerted signal, make an attack on the front at the same time. To prevent the enemy from discovering our intentions the drums were kept beating, and a few random shots fired. Upon the signal being given a general attack commenced, and our success was complete.
The enemy, of whom there were, as we reckon, three or four hundred within the entrenchments, were soon put to the rout, and, after losing great numbers, among whom was the head dupati, a principal instigator of the disturbances, fled in all directions. We lost two sepoys killed and seven wounded, beside several much hurt by the ranjaus. The mortar played during the time, but is not supposed to have done much execution on account of the surrounding trees.
The entrenchments were constructed of large trees laid horizontally between stakes driven into the ground, about seven feet high, with loopholes for firing. Being laid about six feet thick, a cannonball could not have penetrated. They extended eighty or ninety yards. The headman's quarters were a large tree hollowed at the root.
As soon as litters could be made for the wounded, and the killed were buried, we continued our march in an eastern direction, and in about an hour arrived at another battery, which however was not defended. In front of this the enemy had tied a number of long sharp stakes to a stone, which was suspended to the bough of a tree, and by swinging it their plan was to wound us.
ARRIVE AT A STREAM RUNNING INTO THE JAMBI RIVER.
Crossed the Tambesi rivulet, flowing from south to north, and one of the contributary streams to the Jambi River, which discharges itself into the sea on the eastern side of the Island. Built our huts near a field of maize and padi.
27th. Marched to Koto Tuggoh, from whence the inhabitants fled on our throwing one shell and firing a few muskets, and we took possession of the place. It is situated on a high hill, nearly perpendicular on three sides, the easiest entrance being on the west, but it is there defended by a ditch seven fathoms deep and five wide. The place contains the ballei and about twenty houses, built in general of plank very neatly put together, and carved; and some of them were also roofed with planks or shingles about two feet long and one broad. The others with the leaves of the puar or cardamum, which are again very thinly covered with iju. This is said to last long, but harbours vermin, as we experienced. When we entered the village we met with only one person, who was deformed, dumb, and had more the appearance of a monkey than a human creature.
DESTROYED. ENTER KOTO BHARU.
March 1st. After completely destroying Koto Tuggoh we marched in a north and afterwards an east direction, and arrived at Koto Bharu. The head dupati requesting a parley, it was granted, and, on our promising not to injure his village, he allowed us to take possession of it. We found in the place a number of Batang Asei and other people, armed with muskets, blunderbusses, and spears. At our desire, he sent off people to the other Sungei-tenang villages to summon their chiefs to meet us if they chose to show themselves friends, or otherwise we should proceed against them as we had done against Koto Tuggoh.
This dupati was a respectable-looking old man, and tears trickled down his cheeks when matters were amicably settled between us: indeed for some time he could hardly be convinced of it, and repeatedly asked, "Are we friends?" 2nd. The chiefs met as desired, and after a short conversation agreed to all that we proposed. Papers were thereupon drawn up and signed and sworn to under the British colours. After this a shell was thrown into the air at the request of the chiefs, who were desirous of witnessing the sight.
MODE OF TAKING AN OATH.
Their method of swearing was as follows: The young shoots of the anau-tree were made into a kind of rope, with the leaves hanging, and this was attached to four stakes stuck in the ground, forming an area of five or six feet square, within which a mat was spread, where those about to take the oath seated themselves. A small branch of the prickly bamboo was planted in the area also, and benzoin was kept burning during the ceremony. The chiefs then laid their hands on the koran, held to them by a priest, and one of them repeated to the rest the substance of the oath, who, at the pauses he made, gave a nod of assent; after which they severally said, "may the earth become barren, the air and water poisonous, and may dreadful calamities fall on us and our posterity, if we do not fulfil what we now agree to and promise."
ACCOUNT OF SUNGEI-TENANG COUNTRY.
We met here with little or no fruit excepting plantains and pineapples, and these of an indifferent sort. The general produce of the country was maize, padi, potatoes, sweet-potatoes, tobacco, and sugar-cane. The principal part of their clothing was procured from the eastern side of the island. They appear to have no regular season for sowing the grain, and we saw plantations where in one part they had taken in the crop, in another part it was nearly ripe, in a third not above five inches high, and in a fourth they had but just prepared the ground for sowing. Upon the whole, there appeared more cultivation than near the coast.
MANNERS OF PEOPLE.
It is a practice with many individuals among these people (as with mountaineers in some parts of Europe) to leave their country in order to seek employment where they can find it, and at the end of three or four years revisit their native soil, bringing with them the produce of their labours. If they happen to be successful they become itinerant merchants, and travel to almost all parts of the island, particularly where fairs are held, or else purchase a matchlock gun and become soldiers of fortune, hiring themselves to whoever will pay them, but always ready to come forward in defence of their country and families. They are a thick stout dark race of people, something resembling the Achinese; and in general they are addicted to smoking opium. We had no opportunity of seeing the Sungei-tenang women. The men are very fantastical in their dress. Their bajus have the sleeves blue perhaps whilst the body is white, with stripes of red or any other colour over the shoulders, and their short breeches are generally one half blue and the other white, just as fancy leads them. Others again are dressed entirely in blue cotton cloth, the same as the inhabitants of the west coast. The bag containing their sirih or betel hangs over the shoulder by a string, if it may be so termed, of brass wire. Many of them have also twisted brass wire round the waist, in which they stick their krises.
They commonly carry charms about their persons to preserve them from accidents; one of which was shown to us, printed (at Batavia or Samarang in Java) in Dutch, Portuguese, and French. It purported that the writer was acquainted with the occult sciences, and that whoever possessed one of the papers impressed with his mark (which was the figure of a hand with the thumb and fingers extended) was invulnerable and free from all kinds of harm. It desired the people to be very cautious of taking any such printed in London (where certainly none were ever printed), as the English would endeavour to counterfeit them and to impose on the purchasers, being all cheats. (Whether we consider this as a political or a mercantile speculation it is not a little extraordinary and ridiculous). The houses here, as well as in the Serampei country, are all built on posts of what they call paku gajah (elephant-fern, Chamaerops palma, Lour.), a tree something resembling a fern, and when full-grown a palm-tree. It is of a fibrous nature, black, and lasts for a great length of time. Every dusun has a ballei or town hall, about a hundred and twenty feet long and proportionably broad, the woodwork of which is neatly carved. The dwelling-houses contain five, six, or seven families each, and the country is populous. The inhabitants both of Sungei-tenang and Serampei are Mahometans, and acknowledge themselves subjects of Jambi. The former country, so well as we were able to ascertain, is bounded on the north and north-west by Korinchi and Serampei, on the west and south-west by the Anak-sungei or Moco-moco and Ipu districts, on the south by Labun, and on the east by Batang Asei and Pakalang-jambu. 3rd. Marched on our return to the coast, many of the principal people attending us as far as the last of their plantations. It rained hard almost the whole of this day.
RETURN TO THE COAST.
On the 14th arrived at Moco-moco; on the 22nd proceeded for Bencoolen, and arrived there on the 30th March 1805, after one of the most fatiguing and harassing expeditions any detachment of troops ever served upon; attended with the sickness of the whole of the party, and the death of many, particularly of Mr. Alexander, the surgeon.
End of Lieutenant Dare's narrative.
It is almost unnecessary to observe that these were the consequences of the extreme impolicy of sending an expedition up the country in the heart of the rainy season. The public orders issued on the occasion were highly creditable to Lieutenant Dare.