An Expedition against

The Moluccas by the Squadron

Of Admiral Ranier in 1795

          At the commencement of the
Dutch war in 1795 the first object
of the British Squadron in the East Indies
was the reduction of Ceylon, the trade
of this island in cinnamon which grows
in great abundance, it also contains
some mines of precious stone but its
chief importance is an excellent harbour
the only refuge on the Easter coast
from the violence of the winter monsoon.

           When Ceylon had surrendered a few
troops were embarked on board the
Squadron of Admiral Ranier to take
possession of the Moluccas a group
of islands Eastward of Calebes rich in
growth of Nutmegs and cloves the
profits of which had long been enjoyed
by the Dutch. The Swift sailed
from Madras near the end of October
laden with shot, shells and other
Military stores and anchored after
a tedious passage at Prince of Wales’s
Island in the straits of Malacca where
we overtook the rest of the Squadron.

          This settlement was first obtained
from the King of Queda who governs
the opposite coast

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         he gave his daughter to a Captain Light
in 1786 with the Island as her dower,
which the Captn afterwards delivered to the
East India Company The scenery of
this little island is beautiful it is
extremely fertile producing herbs and
fruits in the greatest abundance, the
pines are so plentiful that they spring
up in hedges, and beast of prey
which abound on the opposite continent
are seldom met with, but the inhabitants
are not always in security. I remember
an enormous serpent which was found
in the fields twined about a buffaloe
which expired in its grasp, and I saw
from the ship a crocodile lurking on the
shore which was driven away by the cannon
of the fort one of then having a short time
before carried off a child. Indeed
considering how much the inhabitants of
this part of the globe are liable to such
disasters exposed to the wild
beasts in the woods, the Sharks and
crocodiles in the waters and the scorpions
and other pernicious reptiles haunting
their very houses, we cannot justly envy
them the perpetual summer of Asia.

          The laborious Chinese here as in
many other places are occupied in clearing
away the woods and cultivating the grounds,
for the native malays are too indolent
to thus employed, they also carry on a
retail traffic with merchandise which they
receive annualy from China.

           It has been attempted to raise a
plantation of spices here from the Moluccas

Page 23

          whether the soil and climate permit the
experiment to succeed I cannot learn.

           The harbour is a safe and commodious
refuge for ships returning from China which
may have suffered from the tempestuous gales
frequent in those Seas, and here owing
perhaps to the agitation of phosphoric particles,
when the sea is disturbed at night by the
oars of a boat it appears as if the latter
was surrounded by circles of fire,
but the true cause of this phenomenom
has never been satisfactorily explained.

           While the squadron remained
the Swift was despatched on various
little services as occasion required we first
cruised among the Nicobar Islands in
search of a French privateer. These islands
are on the East side of the Nay of Bengal,
the natives are mere inoffensive savages,
we traded with them for pigs, poultry and
large green parrots which we had in exchange
for rusty knives and pieces of old iron,
some of them amused us by appearing with
European articles ridiculously misapplied,
thus one wore a pair of spectacles in his
cap and another carried his fishing tackle
in an old peruke. We failed in the
object of our search, but one morning
during our return we discovered a neutral brig
anchored so near the shore that the over
hanging boughs at the edge of the woods
almost prevented us from perceiving her and
at first caused us to suspect that the umbrage
was intended as a concealment and possibly
they practised this subterfuge from the dread
of an enemy for it was recollected that the master

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          of a small trading vessel being narrowly
pursued by a privateer went in behind one
of these islands and finding a steep place
where the margin of the woods dipt into the Sea
he ran his ship on shore on shore and instantly collected
a great quantity of leafy boughs with which
the vessel was in a short time so completely
disguised that when his enemy arrived they
passed him unheeded under a crowd of sail

           Very soon after our return the Admiral
sent us with several launches to the residence
of the King of Queda who governs that part of
the continent contiguous to Prince of Wales’s
Island, we had directions to treat with him
for the purchase of cattle to supply the ships
and we anchored on the ensuing morning at
the mouth of a rivulet which led to the
village where his Majesty resided,
I accompanied the Captain in the pinnace
which with the launches proceeded at an
early hour up this little meandering inlet
whose shores were prettily interspersed with
a variety of pleasing objects, in some places
a rich verdure covered the banks, in others
they displayed the rugged face of a rock
overshadowed by the thicket, sometimes we
heard nothing but the screaming of parrots,
at others were delighted with the gambols
of the monkeys which now and then chattered
on such slender twigs that they seemed
ready to drop into the stream,
the weather was uncommonly beautiful
and the labours of the oar were assisted
by a gentle current, after we had for some
time enjoyed this agreeable scene our attention
was suddenly attracted by a large animal

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which was perceived basking in the sun
on a low point of land formed by the winding
of the stream we lost no time in loading our
muskets and on our nearer approach
discovered it to be a crocodile apparently
watching for its prey, as this dangerous
animal did not perceive us we advanced
towards it with caution and the moment
we were near enough for good aim we discharged
our pieces, the creature appeared to be
wounded but it instantly rushed into the
water and disappeared. It is said these
animals are so ferocious that when
oppressed with hunger they have sometimes
to attack the tyger seizing him when he
approaches to drink and dragging him into
the water where a fierce conflict ensues
which is usually fatal to both. Others we
afterwards observed which from their colour
resembled at a distance the trunks of trees,
when fired at they instantly glided down
the slippery bank and gained the stream
except a young one which had the ill fortune
to linger on shore till it was destroyed by a
second volley, when it ceased to struggle our
men ventured to land, and it seeming
perfectly dead they brought it into the
pinnace, but just as the oars were taken
up to proceed it extended its horrid jaws
in a convulsive agony and as we apprehended
that the animal might revive we were some
moments in great alarm
but were soon convinced that it had
no longer power to hurt us, and a musket
being thrust into its throat put an end to
our fears, it measured above twelve feet in length

Page 26

Yet some of them were considerably larger.
In about 2 hours we arrived at the village
which consists chiefly of bamboo huts
the Captain then waited on the chief
who in exchange for a few muskets and
a trifling quantity of ammunition agreed
to furnish a small number of oxen and
a few baskets of poultry with which after
having taken some refreshments, we
returned to the ship.

Soon after this the China fleet having touched at
Prince of Wales Island in their way to Bengall,
we were despatched to convoy it. During our
return from this service we discried one
morning a small vessel rigged like a
Malay prow, but with little above water
except the masts, we steered towards here
and sent a boat to examine, but found no
one on board, and thence concluded that the
Malays had escaped in their boat when the
prow struck (as we supposed) upon some
rocks which were near, the water was
so high in the hold that our men could
not discover the lading and therefore found
only some culinary articles and a swivell gun,
which were put into the boat, just as they
were about to depart with these, a faint
noise was heard in the cabin, which was
nearly under water and it proved to be a
poor cat dripping with wet, and reduced
almost to a skeleton, this foundling was
brought on board and made amends for our
trouble by destroying a greedy colony of
rats and mice who had long laid waste the ships.

As we were apprehensive that the Admiral had sailed
from Prince of Wales Island we left the prow to its fate

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which was probably soon decided by the tempestuous weather which ensued.

           The Admiral had as we had conjectured sailed
leaving orders that we should follow him
immediately, in consequence of which we
proceeded to Malacca where the Centurion
of 50 guns waited to accompany us in pursuit
of the squadron - This ancient Dutch
Settlement has been lately taken by the English,
here we procured great plenty of that delicious
fruit called the mangostein, it has a tough
bitter rind like the pomgranite the inside
is divided into chambers, containing a
white pulp of most delicious flavour, they
have here a singular mode of fishing with
a little rattle composed of three pieces of
stick fixed in form of a triangle the lower
one being loosely put through some hard bits
of cocoa nut shell, with which they make
a rattling noise at the surface of the water
to make the fish descend to their baits.

           From Mallacca we hastened with
the Centurion to rejoin the Admiral and
were fortunate enough to overtake him next
day when our little ship owing to some
accidental alteration in the trim sailed
with such unusual velocity that we outran
the whole squadron with merely the topsails,
though they were under a crowd of sail,
in a day or two this extraordinary aptness was
destroyed by the removal of a few water
casks and in vain we tried every method
to recover it - there are some scientific
principals in the mode of trimming ships of
war for fast sailing not sufficiently attended to.

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          We now entered the great Eastern
Archipelago inhabited by a half civilized
people called Malays. Distinguished by
their elevated cheek bones and tawney
complections but still more by their gloomy
revengefull tempers and their custom of
wearing poisoned daggers which are too
often produced on trivial occasions.

It is conjectured that many of
these islands have arisen from the gradual
accumulation of sand and coral thrown
up from the Pacific ocean and afterwards
augmented and fertilized by the dung of
birds and decay of vegetables cast on shore
by the waves, they are remarkably
irregular and mountainous and the bottom
of the sea resembles them being in some
parts too shallow for a boat and at the
distance of a few fathoms lost in immeasurable
depth, this causes an astonishing rapidity
and uncertain direction of the currant which
much embarrases the navigation of these
seas. We passed south of the great island
of Borneo and being near Celebes we captured
from the Dutch and armed brig called the
Harlem, at a little station occupied by that
nation on the island of Bouro we contrived to
procure a few Buffaloes which are eaten in
the East in the room of beef, for the Squadron
was very sickly many were dying and we
were happy at length to find ourselves among
the Moluccas. Our first design was the attack
of Amboyna where we arrived at the beginning
of February 1796 but as soon as the British force
entered the harbour it capitulated, and we
took possesion in the name of the Prince or Orange

Page 29

While this was transacting a large brig was
seen hovering off the harbours mouth and we
were sent out to reconoitre, but when we
approached she struck the Dutch flag and
surrendered to us. This brig was on the
point of entering the harbour with reinforcement
of troops for the enemies defence, from Batavia
where they had notice of our intentions, we
speedily removed most of our prisoners into the
Swift but as their numbers greatly exceeded
ours, most of us remained under arms till
next morning when we returned with the
prize to Amboyna. Our crew was at this time
so much reduced that we prevailed on several
Malays who were among these prisoners to enter into
the British service.

          Amboyna is the chief of a
cluster of islands of small extent a few miles
south of Jeram, the others are Arukasapania
Nickilon and Manilla, on each of which are
one or more small forts better calculated to
keep Malays in awe than to resist any
European force, these islands contain lofty
mountains whose intermediate spaces are
in general rather narrow chasms than
vallies, and they are covered with thick
woods except where so steep or so much
exposed to prevailing winds as to interrupt
the progress of vegetation, in which places
they display a dreary brown appearance
interspersed with a few solitary shrubs.
The woods near fort Victoria are in great
measure felled and the brown of the mountains
spangled with the tombs of Chinese traders,
who often in the vigour of life erect these
sad receptacles for their remains. A Chinese

Page 30

Merchant at Prince of Wale’s island
showed me his coffin, hewn out of an entire
piece of timber, and with philosophic
indifference removed its lid and described
the manor in which his body would be deposited.

          Amboyna is almost divided by a
deep bay which forms a commodious harbour
and terminates at a narrow isthmus called
Bagwalla pass, over which the natives often
convey canoes to the outer shore of the island,
near it a stream of excellent water pours
into the harbour over a rock easily
approached by boats at high tide.

          The Garrison of Amboyna at the time
of our arrival was reduced by sickness
The guns of fort Victoria were in bad order
and their carriages decayed, yet the fort seems
well calculated to withstand a siege, it is
built of stone flanked by 5 bastions there
are 2 gates and a covered way which extends
also along the sea face, the gate towards the
harbour is defended by 2 outwards mounting
heavy guns, and a wharf extends from it
about 100 yards supported by piles driven
into the harbour, at the extremity of which a
ship mat discharge her cargo. The fort is
surrounded on the land side by a wet ditch
its right is connected with a small river
by palisades and was afterwards by order of
the Admiral strengthened by a temporary battery
the works are in some measure overlooked by a
hill behind them which the Dutch neglected
to fortify, little addition however to its natural
strength would effectually prevent an enemy from
profiting by its circumstance, some batteries
defend the mouth of the harbour one of which is

Page 31

admirably concealed in the trees. The inside of the
fort contains the government house, a handsome
building ornamented with pillars also the houses
of the officers and the barracks and several magazines
and stores none exceeding the hight of one story.
on the side next to the sea we found a long
store house containing a vast quantity of spices.
opposite to the government house is the parade
which occupies the center of the fort The Chinese
reside on the left of the fort and the native Malays
on the right, from whence the Dutch residences
extend as far as the commencement of the
mountains. The Malays in the town and its
vicinity were under a Dutch Fiscal or Judge
those at a distance were governed by their respective
Rajas who are the native chiefs Many of these
visited the Admiral and on these occasions were
curiously clad in habits of black cloth which
they had obtained from the Dutch made up in
the fashion of ancient days They wear no clothing
but a loose linnen dress except on special occasions
these therefore have probably descended from father
to son, preserved with the greatest care, thus attired
their nock knees and uncouth manners made
their appearance extremely ridiculous and
amusing.       The features of the natives are
not so harsh and unpleasing as those of Malays
in other parts, still more may be said for the
women During our residence the society of
the place was much enlivened by the good
humour and condescension of Admiral Ranier
here were no European females the Dutch having
married the daughters of native chiefs whose
complexions were those of our English gypsies but
many of them had beautiful features and
sparkling eyes, we were sometimes tempted to

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smile at their awkwardness, but on other
hand they were free from that ridiculous sort of
affectation which is more odious than the other
extreme of unpolished manners,

Six and a quarter lines crossed out and made unreadable here.

when permitted to accompany their jealous
husbands and suspicious fathers they added much
to the gaiety of our evening amusements which
consisted of dances and suppers given by the
Admiral and the principal Military officers,
their dresses displayed an elegant simplicity
they wore little muslin jackets and white
petticoats, their heads were surrounded by
wreaths of fragrant flowers like white roses
their hair being collected into a knot on the
crown of the head, they were attended by female
slaves carrying small ornamented boxes of
Betel nut, which they used by spreading over
one of the Betel leaves a white paste called
chenam and folding the nut within it,
then putting it into their mouths and chewing it
till saliva became red, which was spit
into pans placed about the room for that
purpose, it was the usual ceremony to take
the box from the slave and prepare one of
these quids for the lady with whom you
danced, the use of this nut is said to preserve
the teeth, though after a while it is apt to
tinge them with red, however their custom
seems full as reasonable as out use of snuff and

Page 33

as they spoke the Malay language we were at
some pains to acquire the common phrases for
the sake of conversing with them, this language is
celebrated for the sweetness of its sounds, so few
and simple are their modes of expression that we
were soon able to understand them with ease.
It happened that the Admirals chief clerk
at the end of some months fell so desperately
in love with a young Malay daughter of the
Superintendant of Saparra, that after betraying
for a time the usual symptoms of this malady,
he one morning disburthened himself of his
woefull story to the Admiral, begging earnestly
to remain on the island with the object of his
affections, but the Admirals heart did not beat
in sympathy with this love lorn tale, and the
enamoured scribe was doomed to linger on board
the Suffolk, he would have corresponded with
his mistress but alas she could not write,
at length a scheme was devised and the lovers
privately embarked in a small transport which
had attended the expedition and was about to
return, here again they failed for the plan being
suspected the transport was searched and so
sailed without them. Their perseverance
however in the end overcame every obstacle and
this constant couple were spliced as the sailors
have it, or (according to the lubbers phrase) united in
the bands of Hymen. The ceremonies
of a Malay wedding are (like many other
ceremonies of semibarbarous nations) distinguished
by their indecency. I was not a guest upon this
occasion or should have witnessed a very curious
scene much too indecorous to be described.

          The canoes of the natives are long and
very narrow hewn out of solid timber but raised by

Page 34

An additional plank on each side and strengthend
with cross pieces serving as seats, they are preserved
from the risk of being upset by a large square
frame called by the sailors an outrigger, extending
horizontally from each side of the boat to preserve
its balance in the water and made of the
buoyant branches of the sago tree, they are not
calculated to contain more than three, two
paddling & the third with a much broader paddle
steering and assisting occasionally his companions,
at night numbers of these canoes are ranged
along the shores of the harbour, fastened to
heavy stones which serve them as anchors,
and provided with torches which illuminate
the surrounding water, this is the manner
in which the natives catch fish for the glare
of the torches is found to decoy them to the baits.

           Their huts are built chiefly with
soft branches from the sago tree pegged together
with a harder wood the convex side of one
branch placed perpendicularly is fixed to the
concave side of the next and so on till they form
a compact wall, then the whole is firmly
united by horizontal pieces of bamboo.
the roofs of these hits are thatched with the
leaves of the same tree.

           In Amboyna there still may be
seen the remains of the dungeon in which
the English were confined in the 16.. whose
cruel massacre cast such infamy on the Dutch.
This place is opposite to the Stadthouse,
it is about 30 feet square, the stone walls
very thick but not now in most places above
4 or 5 feet in hight, upon these ruins the
Admiral erected a gibbet to punish a few
Malays who had destroy’d some of the Dutch

Page 35

prisoners of war, so that our generous protection to
the enemy was exerted on the very spot where
in cold blood they formerly murthered our
countrymen. Sometime after our arrival the
Risistance of 44 guns was dispatched to the
Banda isles to summon their governor to
surrender, these islands are a days sail S.E.
of Amboyna and are famed for the produce of
the best nutmegs When the ship arrived the
Captain sent an officer on shore with the
message, but the governor would not receive
him and ship was fired at by the batteries.
In the mean time the Admiral made the
necessary preparations & hearing that his
proposals were rejected, he left a sufficient
force for the protection of Amboyna and
embarking the troops together with some
volunteers who had enterd into our service
from the Wertenburg regiment, he proceeded
to attack Banda, we arrived before the rest,
on our approach many signal guns were
fired from the advanced batteries and repeated
progressively by those on the interior islands
till they reached the principal fortress giving
notice of our arrival. Here we waited for
the Admiral who joined us the same night
and our whole force being assembled consisting
of men of war besides transports, we advanced
towards the place. The batteries fired at
us as we passed them but were too distant
to take effect till the Admiral sent the
Orpheus frigate and the Haerlern brig closer
to the shore who plied them with so much
vigour that the enemy deserted their guns the
boats were then hoisted out & the troops landed
who proceeded by a party of pioneers to clear the

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way marched at midnight through the forest to attack
the principal fort, at the same time the
squadron entered the harbour and anchored
before it. Early in the morning the Admirals
Captain was sent on shore to the governor with
proposals of surrender who being informed that
a formidable force had penetrated the woods
and were preparing to storm the fort, surrendered
and we took possesion without loss.

           When news of the surrender was
received on board the Suffolk the Admiral
went on shore and was saluted by the fort,
the Squadron also manned their Yards and
fired 21 guns The Succeeding day the
Admiral entertained the cidevant governor
on board his ship who was conveyed in great
form in a painted barge fantasticaly
ornamented and accompanied with music,
the Malay boatmen were decorated with
feathers of the beautiful bird of paradise
Few of the Banda Isles are more than 2 or 3
miles in diameter, they are all thickly clothed
with wood except where it has been cleared
away by the Dutch for their plantations.
They are protected by numerous batteries
and inconsiderable forts, the principal place
is called fort Nassau which defends the
central islands, it is partly encompassed
by the town, and a hill rises beside it
supporting a white Castle of hexagonal form
surrounded by six towers, which commands
the rest like a citadel, behind this appears
an ascent covered with a grove of nutmeg
trees which are carefully preserved from the
depredations of the natives who are
immoderately fond of the husk which covers

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the fruit      The Nutmeg is produced from a tree
bearing leaves like the orange, the husk on
exterior covering is a yellow substance shaped as
a pear in which the nutmeg is inclosed like a
walnut, when the fruit becomes ripe this
husk assumes and orange colour and frequently
splits exposing part of the nut which is a
very deep shining brown its surface being greasy
with the oil – this dark exterior is not the
nutmeg but a delicate shell which encloses it
being itself partly obscured by the tapering
blades of mace which when ripe are of rich
crimson, springing from one part they strive
to embrace the nut in all directions contrasting
beautifully with the dark surface underneath -
the outer husk has a strong flavour of the nut
and the leaves and even the branches partake
of this in a smaller degree.

          The clove tree is raised principaly at Amboyna
and its dependancies and when it spontaneously
made its appearance in any of the neighbouring
parts not immediately under the Dutch
dominion they endeavoured to have it rooted
up and distroyed, this tree has some resemblance
to a laurel, the cloves are the flowers which
harden after a time upon the stem and when
gathered become brown at which period they
abound in a pungent aromatic oil, but this is
expressed from them in general before they are
sent to Europe, where the narrow policy of the
Dutch always hindered them from arriving in
any considerable quantity.

           The Bird of Paradise is extremely common
among these islands, the head is lemon coloured
the neck and breast of a velvet green intermixed
with gold and the tail in many which I saw

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(for there are several species) was of pale yellow
these splendid birds fly against the wind lest
it should discompose their gay plumage and it was
long conjectured by Europeans that they were
continualy on the wing having no legs to repose on
but this error proceeds from a custom among
the natives of cutting them off as soon as the bird
are caught in proceeding to stuff their bodies.

          The Loory is a beautiful bird about the
size of a gold finch its breast (and sometimes the
whole body is a deep crimson, but the wings
are generally green without and striped green &
yellow within, on the breast are a few specks
of yellow, the head is crowned with purple,
the legs are light blue, and the beak is small
and yellow with a little instruction they
learn like parrots to articulate entire
sentences, but their voices are more indistinct
& their nature is not so easily tamed.

          The most conspicuous feature of these islands
is a volcano called Goonon Apy, which rises from
the midst of them like a cone, when the settlement
capitulated the Dutch governor in consequence of some
conversation concerning this Mountain made a journey
to the top of it with some natives & there planted
a flag which he said the English might pull down
if they chose to encounter the difficulties attending it.
Its name litteraly signifies the mountain of
fire, it forms a small island (which probably
sprang from its eruptions) seperated by a narrow
channel from that on which fort Nassau stands
It is covered towards the base with a thick forest
of various wild trees besides a considerable quantity
of underwood springing wherever it can force a
passage among the loose fragments of rock with
which the lower grounds are covered.

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This mountain though on some sides steeper
than others gradually looses its declivity towards
the base, on two or three sides the verdure extends
in ridges about half way to the summit, but its
general appearance is a dreary ash colour the
white hue of the pummice stone appearing in
patches at top - several small forts and
batteries surround this island occupying the
projecting parts of the shore.

          Captain Ranier formed
a party to attempt its ascent; with this in view we
landed from a boat about 9 oclock at night,
near the foot of the mountain and immediately
began our route, each provided with a boarding
pike (a wooden staff pointed with iron) and laden
with a bundle of provisions or a bottle of
grog slung about the waist, at first we proceeded
with ease till beginning gradually to ascend we
were obliged to climb over craggy rocks covered
with large loose stones concealed in the underwood
which rendered our footing very uncertain and
brought the pikes into constant use to support
us, and we were so overshadowed by cocoa nut
tress that the moon tho’ it shone in full splendour
gave us little assistance. The fragments of rock
which made our journey fatiguing and wounded
our feet grew smaller and less frequent as the
ascent became steeper, no sooner were we out
of the thicket than we found ourselves near
half way on our journey & on an eminence which
commands an extensive view of the sea and islands
adjacent, the moon was now very elevated and
enabled us clearly to discern the Swift and the other
vessels in the harbour It rendered the landslip
beneath us extremely picturesque to which its
silvered light playing on the sea was no small

Page 40

improvement, but before we thus indulged in
contemplation we were far advanced and had
struck our pikes into the crust of ashes and small stones
in order to support our feet as we rested a while upon
the steep side of the mountain, we got out our provisions
with intention to make a short repast and continue
the ascent, but having once tasted repose, it was
no easy matter to abandon it, midnight arrived and
the whole party were extremely weary so we drank
our grog laughed at the novelty of our situation, sang
a few songs and droped asleep - being much fatigued
I did not awake till after the rest and found myself
alone for the others had pursued their journey and
were at some distance above me, however they
advanced but slowly as it was dangerously steep,
and they were obliged to stick their pikes into the
ashes to draw themselves up besides they incautiously
climbed too near each other so that the stones
which the foremost displaced in their attempts to
get footing rolled down upon the shins behind whose
owners were not a little out of humour and while
these bickerings were adjusting I overtook them,
as we found ourselves growing weary the greater
was our impatience often did we attempt to
outstrip our companions when a false step threw
us suddenly into the rear, at length after much
fatigue resting and complaining we reach the top
of the mountain, soon after this, morning disclosed
the sight which we had taken such pains to behold,
we found ourselves on the summit at the
entrance of a large opening which would have
conducted us had we been so minded, by a gradual
descent into the middle of the great crater, a
circular apperture bounded on every other side by
a steep precipice, enclosing as it appeared to us
an immense cauldron of melting sulpher.

Page 41

in going cautiously round the brink of the crater
to the right I found that it would have been
impossible to have ascended on the other side
without great risk owing to the increase of steepness

          This ridge however was very narrow and
unsafe, the steep slant of the mountain threatening
on one side and the crater gaping on the other,
to the left of our place of ascent we found great
masses of lava intercepted with narrow chasms
emitting hot smoke and sulphuroeus vapour.
I ventured a little way over them but the lava
itself which was of a dark hue heated my feet so
as to occasion pain, we thrusted a pike into one of
the openings and so burnt it that the wood was
detached from the iron - where the lava ceased
the ground was composed of softened sulphur
strewed with pummice stones, but in many places
its external coat was hardened by the air, and
sounded so hollow to our feet that we were now
and then somewhat alarmed, when the day fully
appeared we walked along the ridge to the right
and soon came to a little gap by which a way
appeared into a smaller crater beside the other
which seemed nearly choaked up, we then
continued winding along the ridge till it lead
to the highest & firmest edge of the crater where
I felt for the first time that I might look
about me with security, on one side I had an
extensive view over the sea as far as Amboyna
on the other a confined one into the large
crater, the smoke prevented my seeing far
down the precipice which I believe was deep as
the bottom seemed to slant downwards & from the
wide descent into it before mentioned ‘till it was
obscured by two columns of smoke which
ascended the side on which I now stood.

Page 42

          The heat and smoke hindered my remaining
long, here the flags were planted by the
Dutch Governor and his Attendants which we furled
in token of having ascended the mountain, from
this hight as we beheld the forts and batteries on
the neigbouring islands they appeared like mere
white plans traced on a green field, and here
I observed the neat regularity and exact arrangement
of the streets and houses in the town for which the
Dutch are remarkable. Having satisfied ourselves
with a view of everything we were curious to see
we meditated our journey downward which we
effected by letting ourselves down gradually by the
help of our pikes forced into the ashes, in this
manner we made all possible haste to return as
it was near 6 oclock, in order to attain the shelter
of the woods before the suns heat became powerfull
but in this we were disappointed for owing to its
rapid ascent in this latitude and the steepness
of the mountain it soon shone perpendicularly
upon us, we were much incommoded by those
stones which had been loosened during our
ascent which wounded one of our party severely
in the heel, besides this on the sides of the
mountain there grew a small herb which stung
our hands when we inadvertently held it for
support. I was hurt by the falling of a stone
on my ankle which retarded me still more, so
that being long in a burning sun I sunk under
the faintness which is known in hot climates
by the name of coup de soleil, but soon revived
sufficiently to descend with some assistance to the
shelter of a small fort where I fell into a sound
sleep and awoke perfectly recovered.

when our ships returned to Amboyna we found the
Malays in a very turbulent state. The Dutch

Page 43

their tyrannic masters were no longer in power
and they considered this an apt time for revenge, they
assembled to request that the Admiral would deliver
the Dutch to them, and seemed to have no idea
that this could be refused, but the Dutch settlers who
fled into the fort were received under our protection.
The Admiral remonstrated with the Malays and
commanded them to disperse, but his orders were
disregarded they became still more enraged and
increasing in numbers threatened to attack the fort,
they drove the sick from the hospital with stones,
they assembled in large bodies on the shore and in
canoes in the harbour till several were wounded
by the guns from the ships, then they ravaged the
suburbs, plundered and destroyed the houses of the
Dutch murthering many unhappy victims who fell
in their way. On this occasion one of the Dutch
settlers who was styled Baron Van Schmele had a
narrow escape, for being at dinner with his wife,
he saw at some distance a party of Malays making
with speed towards his house, the baron was conscious
that if he was taken he would find
no mercy so without hesitation he leaped out
of the window and escaped just in time to save
his life, his house was pillaged and his wife
owed her preservation to her alliance with the
native chiefs. These riots were at length
suppressed by the spirited measures of the Admiral
and some of the ring leaders were executed.

          The rainy season prevailed in July and August
accompanied by sudden gusts of wind blowing
with great fury through the appertures between
the mountains which together with the very heavy
rains might have done mischief had the houses been
elevated above one story, owning to the frequency of
earthquakes scarce any are built higher.

Page 44

We felt two or three slight shocks both on board
the ships and on the island and I heard from
a Captain of the Garrison who had been here many
years that they were always felt as if they
proceeded from the volcano at Banda -
at this time our people were very sickly many
who were much exposed to the weather were
carried off by a disease which resembled the
yellow fever.

           This and the neigbouring islands produce
no sort of grain, in the room of which nature
has amply supplied the sago tree
which affords the inhabitants both food and
shelter. This tree grows to the height of 30 feet
its fiberous bark encloses a glutinous meal which
is hewn out of it with small wooden hatchets,
when the tree is felled. The branches begin
near the root and are of triangular form, a
little concave at the inner side, they rise gradually
till their weight makes them drop near the
extremities, the leaf is narrow and extensive
beginning near the insertion of the branch it
runs tapering towards the end. These trees
are inhabited at night by a noisy green
species of frogs who perch on the branches like
birds but their notes are by no means melodious.
When the meal is scooped from the tree it is
first washed and strained through a cloth
then dried and baked into little cakes which
serve for bread. At night they make
incisions in the tree, under which they hang
vessels to receive a liquor drank after fermentation,
it is called Sacavare and is favourite with the
natives for its intoxicating quality, it tastes like
the todde which in India is obtained in
like manner from the cocoa nut tree.

Page 45

As Amboyna lies almost under the equator it
produces most of the tropical fruits -
The Paupau Apple, the shaddock, Mangoe
Mangostein Benana and water melons may vie for
excellence with the delicacies of Europe
The durian has a delicious flavour bit its smell
is so unsavoury that its admirers are few.
The brad fruit no where I believe grows in
India, this invaluable fruit is plentifull here
and Captn. Hayward who was at Otahitae in the
Bounty thought them comparable to those in the
South Seas. It is about the size of a large
Melon, nearly round and has a rough green
surface, it grows on a large spreading tree whose
broad leaves are deeply indented and resemble fig
leaves. The fruit is baked till the outside becomes
black and then the whole inside (except a spongy
core near the center) is nutritious palatable food,
so that many prefered it to wheaten bread.
When the Sultan of Ceram heard of the surrender
of Amboyna he thought fit to renew an ancient
claim he pretended to that island. The island
of Ceram is a few more leagues north of Amboyna & is
and extensive country spreading considerably to
the Eastwards. In order to support this claim the
Sultan sent an embasy accompanied by a great
number of armed prows each containing a
swivel gun and about 30 men armed with
daggers and narrow shields, the Ambassadors
prow was distinguished by a profusion of
streamers and flags, when the ambassador landed
he was received by the Admiral with great
civility and conducted on board the ships of
war in the harbour where he greatly admired
the warlike and ingenious contrivances which
were explained to him. but was given to

Page 46

understand that the sovereignity of Amboyana
was now by right of conquest transferred to the
King of England and that the Admiral had
no power to treat with any one about its
surrender. This answer was by no means
satisfactory but the report of our strength
prevented them from adopting any hostile
measures which in aiding the dissatisfied
natives might have occasioned us much

           The Swift being the smallest
of the ships of war was dispatched on various
occasions to the neighbouring islands, during
our continuance in these seas twice we went to
Saparua to take possession of the island and
to collect a very considerable quantity of cloves
which would have produced if sold in England
at the usual price near a hundred thousand
pounds. Here some of the sailors intoxicated
themselves with a pernicious drink which
as I have already described distils from sago
trees. Saparua has a small fort seated in a
pleasant valley at the bottom of a bay, it stands
on an elevated spot steep and rocky towards the
sea but of a gentle aclivity on the other sides.

After our return we visited the island
of Timor in quest of provisions for the squadron
The Portuguise settlements on this island being
incorrectly placed on the charts we were
obliged to search for it along the coast and
in doing this got considerably to leeward of the
place nor should we perhaps have discovered
it had we not met with a prow conveying a
Portuguise officer who directed us, notwithstan-
-ding which we were near ten days struggling
with contrary winds and strong currents.

Page 47

This island appears in high hills of dreary
barren aspect, Delli the chief settlement lies
within a shallow bay at the foot of huge and
desolate mountains which from a distance at
sea seem as if they extend to the very shore
but a nearer approach discovers a valley two or
three miles in depth covered chiefly with cocoa
nut trees, about ¼ of a mile from the shore
there extends a reef of rocks which serve as a
harbour for very small vessels but render
the anchorage dangerous to others.

When we arrived the Governor sent a courteous
invitation to the Captain to come on shore I was
of the party on this occasion, when we landed
we were conducted to a shabby hut divided
by thick matting into separate apartments
in one of which we were introduced to the
governor who wore a handsome Navel Uniform
which strikingly contrasted with the apartment
in which he received us, perceiving our surprise
he took us to the window and pointed to his
former dwelling which an earthquake had
just reduced to ruins. we had much conversation
with him in French & before dinner were
introduced to his wife and daughter two very
interesting Portuguize ladies whose laguage
much to our regret we did not understand -
the evening produced a ball and supper to which
the Governors officers & their Malay brides were
invited, and thus ended a very agreeable day.
we remained here but a short time to procure some
cattle for the squadron in return for which we
afforded the Governor a small quantity of powder
and shot. This settlement deals chiefly in
sandall wood which grows to the size of a
walnut tree and has oval leaves , it is much

Page 48

valued by the natives of India who consume it
in their religious rites.

           The squadron was near five months
among the Moluccas, during our return to the
coast of India we touched China then
at Prince of Wales’s Island and lastly we arrived
at Madrass, here Captn. Ranier was promoted
from the Swift into the Centurion and I removed
with him, shortly afterwards the Swift was
dispatched again to China seas where she
foundered in a hurricane and every soul
is supposed to have been lost.





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