Captain Alexander Hamilton collated an account of his voyage to Cambodia and Siam in 1718 with accounts of his
experiences in Pegu and elsewhere on earlier travels, as well as information he had gathered about certain other
locations (such as Arakan) in his A New Account of the East Indies (Edinburgh, 1727). While the original account also
included accounts of parts of the Malay world and "Cochinchina," these have been excluded from the following
text. The account begins with a brief account of Chittagong and concludes with eastern mainland Southeast Asia.
The best biographical account of Hamilton is that by William Foster in his introduction to the 1930 reprint of the
text (London, Argonaut Press).
Account of Pegu and the Voyage to Cambodia and Siam in 1718
Captain Alexander Hamilton
Xatigam [Chittagong] is a town that borders on Bengal and Arackan, and its poverty makes it a matter of indiffer-
ence whom it belongs to. It was here that the Portugueze first settled in Bengal, but the dangers their ships run in
coming thither in the South-west monsoons, made them remove to the bandel at Hughly. The Mogul keeps a Cad-
jee or judge in it, to administer justice among the pagan and Mahometan inhabitants, but the offspring of those
Portugueze that followed the fortune of Sultan Sujah, when he was forced to quit Bengal, are the domineering
lords of it. It is not so fertil in corn as Bengal, and has but few cotton manufactories, but it affords the best timber
for building, of any place about it. The river has a deep enough entrance, but is pestered with sand banks, and
some rocks within. I have known some English ships forced from Point Palmeira by stress of weather thither, and
had safe riding till the North-east monsoons came to relieve them. The government is so anarchical, that every one
goes armed with sword, pistol, and blunder-bush, nay, even the priests are obliged to go armed, and often use their
arms to as bad ends as the licentious laity, and some of the priests have died martyrs to villainous actions.
Arackan is the next maritim[e] country to the Southward of Bengal, and in former times made some figure in trade.
It was into this country that the unfortunate Sultan Sujah came a supplicant for protection, when Emirjemal chased
him out of Bengal. He carried his wives and children with him, and about two hundred of his retinue, who were
resolved to follow his fortune, and he carried six or eight camels load of gold and jewels which proved his ruin,
and in the end, the ruin of the kingdom of Arackan.
When Sultan Sujah first visited the king of Arackan, he made him presents suitable to the quality of the do-
nor and receiver, the Arackaner promising him all the civilities due to so great a prince, with a safe asylum for him-
self and family. When Emirjemal knew where Sultan Sujah had taken sanctuary, he sent a letter to the king of
Arackan, wherein he demanded the poor distrest prince to be delivered up to him, otherwise he threatned to bring
his army into his country to take him by force. The threatning letter wrought so far on the base Arackaner, that he
contrived ways and means to pick a quarrel with his guest, to have a pretext to oblige Emirjemal, at last he found a
very fair one.
Sultan Sujah having a very beautiful daughter, the king of Arackan desired her in marriage, but knew well
enough that Sultan Sujah would never consent to the match, he being a pagan and she a Mahometan. Her father
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used all reasonable arguments to diswade the Arackaner from prosecuting his suit, but in vain, for the Arackaner
grew daily more pressing, and Sultan Sujah at last gave him a flat denial, on which the base king sent him orders to
go out of his dominions in three days, and forbad the markets to furnish him any more with provisions for his
Sultan Sujah knowing it would be death for him to go back to Bengal, resolved to pass over some moun-
tains overgrown with woods, into the king of Pegu's dominions, which were not above one hundred miles off, and
so next day after summons, with his family, treasure, and attendants, Sultan Sujah began his march, but the barba-
rous Arackaner sent a strong party after him, who overtook him before he had advanced far into the woods, and
killed most of Sultan Sujah's company, and seized the treasure, and brought it back in an inglorious triumph. What
became of Sultan Sujah and his fair daughter, none could ever give a certain account; whether they were killed in
the skirmish, or whether they were destroyed by wild elephants and tigers in the woods, none ever knew, but the
Arackaners alledge they were destroyed by the wild beasts of the woods, and not by the more savage beasts in
So much treasure never had been seen in Arackan before, but to whom it should belong caused some dis-
turbance. The king thought that all belonged to him, those that fought for it claimed a share, and the princes of the
blood wanted some fine large diamonds for their ladies, but the tribe of Levi found a way to make up the differ-
ence, and perswaded the king and the other pretenders, to dedicate it to the God Dagun, who was the titular god
of the kingdom, and to depositate it in his temple, which all agreed to; now whether this be the same Dagon of
Ashdod, mentioned in the first Book and fifth Chapter of Samuel, I do not certainly know, but Dagun has a large
temple in Arackan, that I have heard of, and another in Pegu that I have seen.
In 1690, a king of Arackan dying without issue, two princes of the blood quarrelled about filling up of the
vacancy, they both took arms, and both had an eye upon the treasure, which so frightned the priesthood, that they
removed Sultan Sujah's treasure to another place only known to themselves; and those two hot blades pursued
their quarrel so warmly, that in one year themselves and families were intirely cut off, and the kingdom has con-
tinued in anarchy ever since.
Arackan has the conveniency of a noble spacious river, and its mouth is both large and deep enough to ac-
commodate ships of the greatest burden into a spacious harbour, large enough to hold all the ships in Europe.
When the English left Bengal in anno 1686. Mr. Charnock came thither with half a dozen of great ships, to
pass the South-west monsoons away, the country assisted them plentifully with provisions, but they had no other
commerce; they had no less than six fathoms water going in to the river, and in some places within, above twenty.
The country produces timber for building, some lead, tin, stick-lack, and elephants teeth.
The sea coast of Arackan reaches from Xatigam to Cape Negrais, about four hundred miles in length, but
few places inhabited, because there are such vast numbers of wild elephants and buffaloes, that would destroy the
productions of the ground, and tigers to destroy the tame animals, that they think it impracticable to inhabit it,
only some islands in the sea are peopled with some poor miserable fishers, who get their bread out of the water, to
keep them from starving, and they live out of the way of oppression.
There are some of the Mogul's subjects who trade to Arackan for the commodities above mentioned, and
sometimes they meet with good bargains of diamonds, rubies, &c. precious stones, and gold rupees, which are to
be supposed are some of Sultan Sujah's treasure, pilfered by the avaricious priests.
There are abundance of islands on the Arackan coast, but they lie close to the shore, only the Buffalo Islands
lie about four leagues off, and there is a rock that shews its head above water about the middle of the chanel, be-
tween those islands and the continent. The chanels among the Buffalo Islands seem to be clear of danger, and
above twenty fathoms water in them, but about eight leagues off the North end of the great island of Negrais, is a
dangerous rock that only appears above water in the low ebbs of spring tides, it lies in fifteen fathoms water, and
twenty yards off are thirteen fathoms.
The other island of Negrais, which makes the point called the Cape, is a small, low, barren rocky island, it is
often called Diamond Island, because its shape is a rhombus. About the year 1704, four French ships went to careen
at the great Negrais, and turning in between the islands, one ship of seventy guns called U Indien, run aground on
some rocks lying on the inside of Diamond Island, and was lost, but the rest saved the men, and all her portable
Three leagues to the Southward of Diamond Island, lies a reef of rocks a league long, but they do not appear
above water, tho' they are conspicuous at all times by the sea breaking on them. There is a good chanel between the
island and them, above a league broad, and eleven or twelve fathoms deep; the rocks are called the Legatti, or, in
English, the Lizard.
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(information gathered in 1709)
The sea-coast from Negrais to Syrian Bar, is in the dominions of Pegu, there are some of the mouths of Pegu River
open on that coast into the sea. Dolla is the first, about fifty miles to the Eastward of Negrais. China Backaar is an-
other about forty miles to the Eastward of Dolla, and between these openings there is a dangerous bank of black
sand, that runs four or five leagues out into the sea, and so far off there are but fourteen foot water. About sixty
miles to the Eastward of China Backaar, is the Bar of Syrian, the only port now open for trade in all the Pegu do-
If by accident a ship bound to Syrian, be driven a league or two to the Eastward of that river's mouth, a
strong tide carries her on hard sands till she sits fast on them, for anchors are of no use to stop them, because of the
rapidity of the current; at low water the ships are dry when on those sands, and the sea leaves them, and retires
five or six leagues, at which time the shipwrackt men walk on the sands toward the shore for their safety, for the
sea comes back with so much noise, that the roring of the billows may be heard ten miles off, for a body of waters
comes rolling in on the sand, whose front is above two fathoms high, and whatever body lies in its way it over-
turns, and no ship can evade its force, but in a moment is overturned, this violent Boer the natives call a Mackrea.
About six leagues from the bar of Pegu River, is the city of Syrian, it is built near the river's side on a rising
ground, and walled round with a stone-wall without morter. The governor, who is generally of the blood-royal, has
his lodgings in it, but the suburbs are four times bigger than the city. It was many years in possession of the Portu-
gueze, till by their insolence and pride they were obliged to quit it. The ancient city of Pegu stands about forty
miles to the Eastward of Syrian, the ditches that surrounded the city, which are now dry, and bear good corn, testi-
fie that few cities in the world exceeded it in magnitude, for they are reckoned six or seven leagues round their
It was the seat of many great and puissant kings, who made as great a figure as any in the East, but now its
glory is in the dust, for not one twentieth part of it is inhabited, and those are but the lower class of people who in-
habit it. The cause of the ruin of the kingdoms of Pegu, Martavan, and some others under the dominions of Pegu, I
had from some Peguers, in several discourses with them about that revolution, which was thus.
There was great love and friendship between the kings and subjects of Pegu and Siam, being next neigh-
bours to one another, and they had a good intercourse of trade, both by land and sea, till in the fifteenth century, a
Pegu vessel being at Odia the chief city of Siam, and when ready to depart for Pegu, anchored one evening near a
little temple a few miles below the city, and the master of the vessel, with some of his crew, going to worship in that
temple, seeing a pretty well carved image of the God Samsay, about a covet high, fell in love with it, and finding
his priests negligent in watching, stole him away, and carried him on board prisoner for Pegu. When the negligent
priests mist their little god they were in a deplorable condition, lamenting their loss to all their neighbouring
priests, who advised them to complain to the king of Siam of the theft, which accordingly they did, imploring his
good offices with the king of Pegu, to have their god sent back; and it happened that by the unseasonable flood in
the river that year, there came to be a great scarcity of corn, which calamity was imputed by the priests to the loss
of Samsay, upon which the pious prince sent an embassy to his brother of Pegu, desiring the restitution of the im-
age, whose absence had caused so great loss and clamour in his country.
The king of Pegu being as great a bigot as his brother of Siam, would by no means deliver back a god who
had fled from the impieties of his native land to him for protection, and with that answer sent back the Siam am-
bassador, who was not a little mortified with the disappointment.
Since fair means could not perswade the Peguer to send back the little god, the Siamer was resolved to try
what force would do, and accordingly raised an army of two or three hundred thousand men to invade the king of
Pegu's dominions, and the first fury of the war fell on the Province of Martavan, being contiguous to the territories
of Siam, and with fire and sword destroyed the open country almost to the gates of the city of Martavan, where of-
ten the king of Pegu kept his court, and was formerly the metropolis of an independent kingdom, before Pegu re-
duced that country by conquest to be a province of theirs.
After the Siamer had satiated his cruelty and rage, by the destruction of many poor innocents, he retired
back to his own country very much elevated with pride and vain-glory for his great atchievements, but next year
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he was pretty well humbled, for the Peguer raised a much greater army, and embarking them in small boats on the
River Memnon, on which the City of Odia stands in one of its islands, his army was brought with so much celerity
and secrecy, that the Peguer brought the first news of his invasion, and pitching his tents round the city, soon
brought it into great straits, by stopping the daily provisions that supported it, but unexpectedly the river bringing
down great floods of waters, sooner than their ordinary time, the country about the city overflowed, and spoilt all
the Peguer's provisions of corn, and drowned near the half of his army, which obliged him to raise the siege, and
retire to his own dominions.
Next year, the Siamer, to be revenged, levied another great army, with which he over-ran all the inland
countries of Pegu that lay near him, and annext them to his own dominions. The Peguer finding that he could not
recover his lands without foreign aid and assistance, invited the Portugueze, whose name began to be dreadful in
India, and by the great encouragement he gave them, got about one thousand volunteers into his service.
Neither the Siamers nor the Peguers at that time understood the use of fire arms, and their noise and execu-
tion at so great a distance terrified them. With the Portugueze assistance, the Peguer went with his army, which
was very numerous, to find out the Siamer and having found him, gave him battle, the Portugueze being in the
front with their fire arms, soon put the Siamer to flight before they could come to handy-blows, on which he left the
Peguer's country in greater haste than he came into it.
The king of Pegu was so sensible of the Portugueze service in gaining the battle, and driving the Siamers
out of his conquered country, that he made one Senhor Thoma Pereyra (who commanded the Portugueze in the
war) generalissimo of all his forces, which preferment made the Portugueze so insolent, that in a few years they
became intolerable to all ranks and degrees of persons in Pegu.
Both kings grew tired of war, but both too proud to make advances toward peace, so that for many years
they had skirmishing with small parties, tho' no set battles, and where ever the Portugueze arms went, they had
victory to accompany them.
The king of Pegu, to have his forces nearer the borders of Siam, settled his court at Martavan, and kept the
Portugueze near him, to be ready on all occasions, either to repel or assault the Siam forces, as opportunity served,
and Thoma Pereyra was the darling favourite at court, he had his elephants of state, and a guard of his own coun-
trymen to attend him. One day as he was coming from court in state, on a large elephant, towards his own palace,
he chanced to hear musick in a burgher's house, whose daughter being a very beautiful virgin, had been married
that morning to a young man of the neighbourhood. The general went to the house and wished them joy, and de-
sired to see the bride. The parents took the general's visit for a great honour done them, and brought their daughter
to his elephant's side; he being smitten with her beauty, ordered his guard to seize her and carry her to his house.
His orders were but too readily obeyed, and the poor bridegroom not being able to bear his loss, cut his
own throat, and the disconsolate parents of their injured children, rent their clothes, and went crying and com-
plaining through the streets towards the king's palace, imploring their gods and country-men to avenge them on
the insolent Portugueze, the common oppressors of their country. Crowds of people came from all parts of the city
to hear and see the tragedy, their numbers grew so great, that the streets were hardly big enough for them, and
their noise so loud that it reached the king's ears, who sent to know the cause of their uprore. The messenger re-
turning, acquainted the king what had been transacted, and he, to appease the tumult, sent them word that he
would punish the criminal, and accordingly sent for his general, but he being much taken up with the enjoyment of
his new purchase, made an excuse that he was so much out of order, that he could not then wait on his majesty till
he was better, which answer so provoked the king, that he ordered the whole city to take arms, arid to make a gen-
eral massacre on all the Portugueze wheresoever they could be found in city or country.
The king's orders were put in execution so speedily, that in a few hours all the Portugueze were slaugh-
tered, and the guilty criminal was taken alive, and made fast by the heels to an elephant's foot, who dragged him
through the streets till there was no skin nor flesh left to cover his bones, which spectacle appeased the enraged
populace. There were only three Portugueze saved, who were accidentally in the suburbs next the river, who hid
themselves till night favoured their escape in a small boat, in which they coasted along the shore, feeding on what
the woods and rocks afforded them, and at length arrived at Malacca, to give an account of the melancholy scene.
Both kingdoms being much weakned with bloody wars, took rest for many years, but never entred on trea-
ties of peace. So about the middle of the seventeenth century, the Siamer invaded the dominions of Pegu, and con-
quered all to the Southward of Martavan, taking in the provinces of Tanacerin and Ligore, who were tributaries to
Pegu, and retains them still in his possession.
The king of Pegu finding that the incroachments of Siam daily lessened his dominions, and his own forces
were not able to protect what he had left, sent an embassy to the king of Barma, a potent prince, whose dominions
SBBR 4.2 (Autumn 2006) 1 01
lay about five hundred miles up the river from Pegu, to beg his assistance to stop the Siamers in their course of
conquests, and he promised to give good encouragement to the Barmaes. The embassy was graciously received,
and an army of an hundred thousand was levied for that service, and sent on transport vessels to Pegu, and joyned
the Pegu army, who conjunctly marched against the Siamer, and drove him quite out of his new conquests; and
when the Barmaes observed the feebleness and bad discipline of the Pegu army, they even killed the king of Pegu,
and broke the Pegu army, and seized the kingdoms of Pegu and Martavan for their master, and in that family it
continues to this time. The Barmaes ruined both the cities of Pegu and Martavan, and sunk vessels in the mouth of
the River of Martavan, to make it unnavigable, and so it continues. This account I had at Pegu in anno 1709, both
from Peguers and Portugueze, who agreed in the history as I have related it.
The dominions of Barma are at present very large, reaching from Moravi near Tanacerin, to the Province of
Yunan in China, about eight hundred miles from North to South, and 250 miles broad from West to East. It has no
sea-port but Syrian, and that river is capable to receive a ship of six hundred tuns. The town drives a good trade
with Armenians, Portugueze, Moors and Gentows, and some English; their import is several sorts of Indian goods,
such as beteellas, mulmuls, cossas, sannis, orangshays, tangebs, European hats coarse and fine, and silver. The customs
are eight and an half per cent, which, with other charges, amount to about twelve in the hundred. The product of
the country is timber for building, elephants, elephants teeth, bees-wax, stick-lack, iron, tin, oyl of earth, wood-oyl,
rubies the best in the world, diamonds, but they are small, and are only found in the craws of poultry and pheas-
ants, and one family has only the indulgence to sell them, and none dare open the ground to dig for them. Salt-
petre they have in abundance, but it is death to export it, plenty of ganse or lead, which passeth all over the Pegu
dominions for money. About twenty sail of ships find their account in trade for the limited commodities, but the
Armenians have got the monopoly of the rubies, which turns to a good account in their trade; and I have seen
some blue sapphires there, that I was told were found on some mountains of this country.
The country is very fruitful in corn, fruits, and roots, and excellent Legumen of several species, abundance
of wild game either quadrupeds or winged. In the months of September and October, wild deer are so plentiful
that I have bought one for three or four pence; they are very fleshy, but no fat about them. They have many sorts of
good fish, and swines flesh and poultry are both plentiful and good.
They wear none of our European commodities but hats and ribbons, and the gentry will give extravagant
prices for fine beaver hats, and rich ribbons flowered with silver and gold, and if it be never so broad it is stretcht
up the crown of the hat as far as it can go, and they use no sort of cock to their hats. Cotton cloths from Bengal and
Chormondel, with some stripped silks, are best for their market, and silver of any sort is welcome to them. It pays
the king eight and an half per cent. Custom, but in lieu of that high duty, he indulges the merchants to melt it
down, and put what alloy they please in it, and then to pass it off in payments as high as they can.
Rupee silver, which has no alloy in it, will bear twenty eight per cent, of copper-alloy, and keep the Pegu
Touch, which they call flowered silver, and if it flowers, it passes current. Their way to make flowered silver is,
when the silver and copper are mixed and melted together, and while the metal is liquid, they put it into a shallow
mould, of what figure or magnitude they please, and before the liquidity is gone, they blow on it through a small
wooden pipe, which makes the face, or part blown upon, appear with the figures of flowers or stars, but I never
saw any European or other foreigner at Pegu, have the art to make those figures appear, and if there is too great a
mixture of alloy, no figures will appear. The king generally adds ten per cent, on all silver that comes into his treas-
ury, besides what was put on at first, and tho' it be not flowered, it must go off in all his payments, but from any
body else it may be refused if it is not flowered.
His government is arbitrary. All his commands are laws, but the reins of government are kept steady and
gently in the king's own hand. He severely punishes his governors of provinces or towns, if oppressions or other
illegal practices are proven upon them; and to know how affairs pass in the state, every province or city has a
mandereen or deputy residing at court, which is generally in the city of Ava, the present metropolis. Every morn-
ing these mandereens are obliged to attend at court, and after his majesty has drest and breakfasted, which is gen-
erally on a dish of rice boiled in fair water, and his sauce is some shrimps dried and powdered, and some salt and
cod-pepper mixt with those two ingredients, and that mixture makes a very pungent sauce, which they call prock,
and is in great esteem and use among the Peguers.
When his breakfast is over, he retires into a room so contrived that he can see all the attendants, but none
can see him, and a page stands without to call whom the king would have give account of the current news of his
province or city, which is performed with profound reverence toward the room where the king stays, and with a
distinct audible voice; and if any particular matters of consequence is forgot or omitted, and the king comes to hear
of it by another hand, severe punishments follow, and so he passes his mornings in hearing the necessary cases of
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his own affairs as well as those of his subjects.
If he is informed of treason, murder, or such like hainous crimes, he orders the matter to be judicially tried
before judges of his own choosing, for that time and affair, and on conviction he signs the dead warrant, wherein
he orders, that the wretch convicted shall trade no more on his ground, and execution presently follows, either by
beheading, or ordering them to be sport for his elephants, which is the cruellest death. Sometimes he banishes
them for a certain time to the woods, and if they are not devoured by tigers, or killed by wild elephants, they may
return when their term is expired, and pass the remainder of their days in serving a tame elephant; and for smaller
crimes they are only condemned to clean his elephants stables for life.
His subjects, if they may be so called, treat him with fulsom adulation. When they speak or write to him
they call him their god (or in their language Kiack) and in his letters to foreign princes, he assumes the title of king
of kings, to whom all other kings ought to be subject, as being near kinsman and friend to all the gods in heaven
and on earth, and by their friendship to him all animals are fed and preserved, and the seasons of the year are regu-
larly kept: The sun is his brother, and the moon and stars are his near relations, lord over the floods and ebbing of
the sea; and after all his lofty epithets and hyperboles, he descends to be king of the white elephant, and of the
twenty four white somereroes or umbrellaes. These two last he may indeed claim with some shew of justice, for I
have seen elephants of a light yellow colour both in Pegu and Siam, but who ought to be called their lord is a ques-
tion not yet decided; and as king of the twenty four white somereroes, I believe few kings will much care to dispute
that glorious title with him, for those somereroes are only common China umbrellaes, covered over with thin
Chormondel beteellaes, and their canes lackt and gilded, and because his own subjects dare not use any such um-
brellaes, he wisely lays his imperial commands on all other kings to forbear wearing of them when they go abroad.
After his majesty has dined, there is a trumpet blown, to signifie to all his slaves, as he terms other kings,
that they may go to dinner, because their lord has already dined and when any foreign ships arrive at Syrian, the
number of people on board, with their age and sex, are sent to him, to let him know that so many of his slaves are
arrived to partake of the glory and happiness of his reign and favour, and the highest title his own subjects assume,
is the king's first slave. The king's palace at Ava is very large, built of stone, and has four gates for its convenien-
cies. ambassadors enter at the East Gate, which is called the Golden Gate, because all ambassadors make their way
to him by presents. The South Gate is called the gate of Justice, where all people that bring petitions, accusations, or
complaints, enter. The West is the Gate of Grace, where all that have received favours, or have been acquitted of
crimes, pass out in state, and all condemned persons carried out in fetters; and the North Gate fronting the river, is
the Gate of State where his majesty passes through, when he thinks fit to bless his people with his presence, and all
his provisions and water are carried in at that gate.
When pots of water, or baskets of fruits are carried through the streets for the king's use, an officer attends
them, and all the people that fortune to be near, must fall on their knees, and let it pass by, as a good Catholick does
when he sees the host.
When an ambassador is admitted to audience in the palace, he is attended with a large troop of guards,
with trumpets sounding, and heralds proclaiming the honour the ambassador is about to receive, in going to see
the glory of the earth, his majesty's own sweet face, and between the gate and the head of the stairs that lead to the
chamber of audience, the ambassador is attended with the master of the ceremonies, who instructs him to kneel
three times in his way thither, and continue so with his hands over his head, till a proclamation is read before he
dare rise. Some of his elephants are instructed to fall on their belly when the king passes by them.
This relation I had from one Mr. Roger Alison, who had been twice ambassador from the Governor of Fort
St. George, or his agents at Syrian, to the court of Ava; and tho' the palace is very large, yet the buildings are but
mean, and the city tho' great and populous, is only built of bambow canes, thatcht with straw or reeds, and the
floors of teak plank, or split bambows, because if treason or other capital crimes be detected, the criminals may
have no place of shelter, for if they do not appear on the first summons, fire will fetch them out of their combustible
habitations. His sword-officers have no salary, nor his soldiers for their support, but there is a province or a city
given to some minion, who is to give sustenance to such a number of soldiers, and find the palace at Ava with such
a quota of provisions as the providore thinks fit to appoint.
When there is a war, and parties are sent on expeditions, then the king allows them pay, clothes, arms, and
provides magazines of provisions for them; but as soon as the war is at an end, then the clothes and arms are re-
turned, by which means discipline is little known among them, and a man of a tolerable stock of courage may pass
there for an hero.
The quality of an officer is known by his tobacco pipe having an earthen or metallick head, with a socket to
let in a joynted reed, that on its upper end has a mouthpiece of gold, joynted as the reed or cane is, and by the
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number of joynts in the golden mouth-piece, the quality of the officer is known, and respect paid him accordingly.
All cities and towns under this king's dominions are like aristocratical commonwealths. The prince or gov-
ernor seldom sits in council, but appoints his deputy, and twelve counsellers or judges, and they sit once in ten
days at least, but oftner when business calls them. They convene in a large hall, mounted about three foot high, and
double benches round the floor for people to sit or kneel on, and to hear the free debates of council. The hall being
built on pillars of wood, is open on all sides, and the judges set in the middle on marts, and sitting in a ring there is
no place of precedence; there are no advocates to plead at the bar, but every one has the privilege to plead his own
cause, or send it in writing to be read publickly, and it is determined judicially within the term of three sittings of
council, but if any one questions his own eloquence, or knowledge of the laws of equity, he may impower a friend
to plead for him, but there are no fees but what the town contributes for the maintenance of that court, which in
their language is called the rounday, and those contributions are very small: There are clerks set at the backs of the
judges, ready to write down whatever the complainant and defendant has to say, and the case is determined by the
prince and that council, very equitably; for if the least partiality is found awarded to either party, and the king is
made acquainted with it by the deputies at court, the whole sentence is revoked, and the whole board are corrected
for it, so that very few have occasion to appeal to court, which they may do if they are aggrieved, and if an appeal
is made upon ill grounds, the appellant is chastised, which just rigour hinders many tedious suits that arise where
there are no penalties annext to such faults.
The judges have a particular garb of their own. Their hair being permitted to grow long, is tied on the top of
their heads with cotton ribbon wrapt about it, and it stands upright in the form of a sharp pyramid. Their coat is of
a thin Betella, so that their skin is easily seen through it. About their loyns they have a large lungee or scarf, as all
other Peguers have, that reaches to their ancles, and against the navel a round bundle made of their lungee, as big
as a child's head, but stockings and shoes are not used in Pegu.
The Barmaes wear the same habit, and imprint several devices in their skins, prickt with a bodkin, and
powder of charcoal rubbed over the little wounds, while the blood continues wet in them, and the black marks re-
main ever after. The Peguers dare not paint their skins, so that the natives of each nation are easily known by the
distinguishing mark of painting or plainness. There are few of their men fat, but plump, well shaped, of an olive
colour, and well featured.
The women are much whiter than the men, and have generally pretty plump faces, but of small stature, yet
very well shaped, their hands and feet small, and their arms and legs well proportioned. Their headdress is their
own black hair tied up behind, and when they go abroad, they wear a shaul folded up, or a piece of white cotton
cloth lying loose on the top of their heads Their bodily garb is a frock of cotton cloth or silk, made meet for their
bodies, and the arms of their frock stretcht close on the arm, the lower part of the frock reaching half-thigh down.
Under the frock they have a scarf or lungee doubled fourfold, made fast about their middle, which reaches almost
to the ancle, so contrived, that at every step they make, as they walk, it opens before, and shews the right leg and
part of the thigh. This fashion of petticoats, they say, is very ancient, and was first contrived by a certain queen of
that country, who was grieved to see the men so much addicted to sodomy, that they neglected the pretty ladies.
She thought that by the sight of a pretty leg and plump thigh, the men might be allured from that abominable cus-
tom, and place their affections on proper objects, and according to the ingenious queen's conjecture, that dress of
the lungee had its desired end, and now the name of sodomy is hardly known in that country. The women are very
courteous and kind to strangers, and are very fond of marrying with Europeans, and most part of the strangers
who trade thither, marry a wife for the term they stay The ceremony is, (after the parties are agreed) for the bride's
patents or nearest friends or relations, to make a feast, and invite her friends and the bridegroom's, and at the end
of the feast, the parent or bride-man, asketh them both before the company, if they are content to cohabit together
as man and wife, and both declaring their consent, they are declared by the parent or friend to be lawfully married,
and if the bridegroom has an house, he carries her thither, but if not, they have a bed provided in the house where
they are married, and are left to their own discretion how to pass away the night.
They prove obedient and obliging wives, and take the management of affairs within doors wholly in their
own hands. She goes to market for food, and acts the cook m dressing his victuals, takes care of his clothes, in
washing and mending them; if their husbands have any goods to sell, they set up a shop and sell them by retail, to
a much better account than they could be sold for by wholesale, and some of them carry a cargo of goods to the
inland towns, and barter for goods proper for the foreign markets that their husbands are bound to, and generally
bring fair accounts of their negotiations. If she proves false to her husband's bed, and on fair proof convicted, her
husband may carry her to the rounday, and have her hair cut, and sold for a slave, and he may have the money; but
if the husband goes astray, she'll be apt to give him a gentle dose, to send him into the other world a sacrifice to her
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If she proves prolifick, the children cannot be carried out of the kingdom without the king's permission, but
that may be purchased for forty or fifty L. sterling and if an irreconcilable quarrel happen where there are children,
the father is obliged to take care of the boys, and the mother of the girls. If a husband is content to continue the
marriage, whilst he goes to foreign countries about his affairs, he must leave some fund to pay her about six shil-
lings eight pence per month, otherwise at the year's end she may marry again, but if that sum is paid her on his
account, she is obliged to stay the term of three years, and she is never the worse, but rather the better lookt on,
that she has been married to several European husbands.
Account of the Pegu Clergy
The Pegu clergy are the best observers of the rules of morality and charity, that I have met with in my travels, and
the people are pious and hospitable. There are vast numbers of temples built in this country, but most of wood, be-
cause that material is plentifullest and cheapest, and takes varnish and gilding best, being gawdily painted both
within and without. Every one has free liberty to build a baw or temple, and when it is finished, purchases or be-
stows a few acres of ground to maintain a certain number of priests and novices, who manure and cultivate the
ground for their own sustenance, and in the garden the priests and novices have a convent built for their conveni-
ency of lodgings and study, and those are their settled benefices, for they are no charge to the laity, but by their in-
dustrious labour in managing their garden, they have enough for themselves, and something to spare to the poor
indigent of the laity; but if their garden is too small or steril for the subsistence of their family, then they send some
novices abroad with a large orange-coloured mantle about their bodies, with a basket hanging on their left arm, a
little drum in the left hand, and a little stick in the right, and when they come to the people's doors they beat three
strokes with the stick on the drum, and if none come to answer, they beat again, and so onto the third time, and
then if none answer, they proceed to the next house without speaking a word, but they are seldom sent away with-
out an alms of rice, pulse, fruits, or roots, which is their only food, and what they receive more than they have pre-
sent occasion for, they distribute to the poor, for they never take care for to morrow, living all their days in celebacy,
they have none of the anxiety of thinking about provision for a widow and children. Their innocent exemplary
lives procure them many free-will-offerings from the well disposed laity, and what is saved after providing their
convents, of eatables and clothing, returns to the maintenance of the distrest laity, who, through age, sickness, or
other accidents, cannot maintain themselves by labour, but none who are able to work, partake of their charity.
They preach or lecture frequently, and have a numerous auditory. Their religion is paganism, and their sys-
tem of divinity polytheism. They have images in all their temples or haws, of inferior gods, such as Somma Cud-
dom, Samsay and Prawpout, but they cannot form an idea of the image of the great god, whose adoration is left to
their tallapoies or priests.
Those tallapoies or priests, teach, that charity is the most sublime virtue, and therefore ought to be extensive
enough to reach not only to human species, but even to animals, wherefore they neither kill nor eat any, and they
are so benevolent to mankind, that they cherish all alike without distinction, for the sake of religion. They hold all
religions to be good that teach men to be good, and that the deities are pleased with variety of worship, but with
none that is hurtful to men, because cruelty must be disagreeable to the nature of a deity: So being all agreed in that
fundamental, they have but few polemicks, and no persecutions, for they say that our minds are free agents, and
ought neither to be forced nor fettered.
The images in their temples are placed in domes, in a sitting posture, with their legs across, their toes all
alike long, their arms and hands very small in proportion to their bodies, their faces longer than human, and their
ears large, and the lappets very thick. The congregation bows to them when they come in and go out, and that is all
the oblation they receive.
They never repair an old baw, nor is there any occasion for that piety or expence; for in every September
there is an old custom for gentlemen of fortune, to make sky rockets, and set them a flying in the air, and if any fly
any great height, that is a certain sign that the owner is in favour with the gods, but if it comes to the ground, and
spends its fire without rising, the owner is much dejected, and believes that the gods are angry with him, but the
happy man, whose rocket makes him in the gods favour, never fails of building a new baw, and dedicates it to the
god he adores, and some priests, whose temples are gone to decay, bring their images to adorn it, who have the
benefice for their pains.
I have seen some of those rockets so large, that one of them could contain above five hundred weight of
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powder dust and coal, which is their common composition. The carcase is the trunk of a great tree made hollow,
leaving about two inches of solid wood without the cylinder, to strengthen it, the hollow they fill with the composi-
tion well rammed in, and after that is done, they make Thongs of green buffaloes hides, and hale tight round the
carcase to keep it from splitting, and those Thongs are put from one end to the other, in the place of hoops, and
when they grow dry, they are as close on the carcase as so many hoops. Then they secure the ends, that the compo-
sition may come gradually out, when fired. The carcase they place on a branch of a large high tree, which grows
plentifully in their fields, and fix it in the position they would have it mount in when fired, and then they take a
large bambow for a tail to balance it. Some I have seen above 120 foot long. When the tail is made fast according to
art, then the day of solemnity is proclaimed, and great numbers of people of all ranks, degrees and ages, assemble
to see the rocket fly. When all are convened, the lashings that fastned it to the tree, are cut, except so many as can
support it from falling, and there are men with hatchets ready to cut them, when the fire is put to it, which is done
by the owner, and then the rocket takes flight, and some fly a prodigious height, others come to the ground, and fly
five to six hundred paces in an irregular motion, wounding or scorching all that come in its way. The consequences
of the high flier and the low, I have described at length above.
A little while after the rockets flying they have another feast, called the collock, and some women are cho-
sen out of the people assembled, to dance a dance to the gods of the earth. Hermophradites, who are numerous in
this country, are generally chosen, if there are enow present to make a set for the dance. I saw nine dance like mad
folks, for above half an hour, and then some of them fell in fits, foming at the mouth for the space of half an hour;
and, when their senses are restored, they pretend to foretel plenty or scarcity of corn for that year, if the year will
prove sickly or salutary to the people, and several other things of moment, and all by that half hour's conversation
that the furious dancer had with the gods while she was in a trance.
They have various sorts of musick, but the pipe and tabor are esteemed the best, tho their stringed instru-
ments pleased my ears best. They have one sort in shape of a galley, with about twenty bells of several sizes and
sounds, placed fast on the upper part, as it lies along. The instrument is about three foot long, and eight or ten
inches broad, and six inches deep. They beat those bells with a stick made of heavy wood, and they make no bad
There are two large temples near Syrian, so like one another in structure, that they seem to be built by one
model. One stands about six miles to the Southward, called Kiakiack, or, the god of gods temple. In it is an image
of twenty yards long, lying in a sleeping posture, and, by their tradition, has lien in that posture six thousand
years. His doors and windows are always open, and every one has the liberty to see him; and, when he awakes,
this world is to be annihilated. The temple stands on an high champain ground, and may easily be seen, in a clear
day, eight leagues off. The other stands in a low plain, North of Syrian, about the same distance, called Dagun. His
doors and windows are always shut, and none enters his temple but his priests, and they won't tell what shape he
is of, only he is not of human shape. As soon as Kiakiack dissolves the being and frame of the world, Dagon or Da-
gun will gather up the fragments, and make a new one. There are yearly fairs held near those temples, and the free-
will offerings arising at those fairs, are for the use of the temples.
For finding out secret murder, theft or perjury, the trial of ordeal is much in custom in Pegu. One way is to
make the accuser and the accused take some raw rice in their mouths, and chew, and swallow it, but he that is
guilty of the crime alledged, or of false accusation, cannot swallow his morsel, but the innocent chews and swal-
lows his easily.
Another way they have by driving a stake of wood into a river, and making the accuser and accused take
hold of the stake, and keep their heads and bodies under water, and he who stays longest under water, is the per-
son to be credited, and whosoever is convicted by this trial, either for the crime alledged, or for malicious slander,
by accusation, must ly on his back three days and nights, with his neck in a pair of stocks, without meat or drink,
and fined to boot. They have also the custom of dipping the naked hand in boyling oyl, or liquid lead, to clear them
from atrocious crimes, if accused, and if the accuser scalds himself in the trial, he must undergo the punishment
due to the crime, which makes people very cautious how they calumniate one another: and, if any one asperse a
woman with the name of whore, and cannot prove the aspersion to be hue, they are fined severely.
The country is fruitful and healthful, and the air so good, that when strangers come hither in a bad state of
health, they seldom fail of a speedy recovery; but the small pox is dreaded as pestiferous, and in the Province of
Kirian that distemper is most dangerous and most infectious, so that if any one is seized by that disease, all the
neighbourhood removes to two to three miles distance, and builds new houses, which are easily done with bam-
bows and reeds, which they have in great plenty. They leave with the diseased person a jar of water, a basket of
raw rice, and some earthen pots to boyl it in, then they bid him farewel for twenty one days. If the patient has
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strength enough to rise and boyl rice, he may then recover, if not, he must even die alone, and it is observable, that,
while a person has that distemper, the tiger, for all his voraciousness, will not touch him. If the patient dies within
the term of twenty one days, then the smell certifies them on their approaching the house, and if he live, they carry
him to their new built city, and make him a free burgess.
I saw the ceremony of an high priest's funeral, and was not a little pleased with the solemnity. After the
corps had been kept three or four months by spirits or gums from putrefaction, there was a great mast fixt in the
ground, so fast, that it could be moved no way from its perpendicular position. Then, about fifty or sixty yards on
each side of that mast, four smaller masts were placed, and fixed perpendicularly in the ground. Around the great
mast, in the middle, were erected three scaffolds above one another, the lowermost bigger than the second, and the
third smaller than that, so that it lookt like a pyramid four stories high. The scaffolds were railed in on each side,
except an open place of three or four foot wide on each side. All the scaffolds, and the ground below them, were
filled with combustibles. From the mast in the middle four ropes were carried to the other four masts, and haPd
tight, and a fire-rocket on each rope was placed at the respective small masts. Then the corps was carried to the up-
per story of the pyramid, and laid flat on the scaffold, and, after a great shew of sorrow among the people there
present, a trumpet was sounded, which was a signal to set fire to the rockets, which, in an instant, flew with a quick
motion along the ropes, and set fire to the combustibles, and in a moment they were all in a flame, so that in an
hour or two all was consumed.
This high priest was held in so great veneration, that he was reckoned a saint among the people. He was in
great esteem with the king, and when any nobleman fell into disgrace, he used his interest with the king to have
him restored again to favour, unless they were guilty of atrocious crimes, and, in that case, he used his endeavours
to have the rigour of the punishment extenuated.
All the Pegu clergy are mediators in making up cases of debate and contention that happen among neigh-
bours. They never leave mediating till there be a reconciliation, and, in token of friendship, according to an ancient
custom there, they eat champock from one another's hand, and that seals the friendship. This champock is tea of a
very unsavoury taste, it grows, as other tea does, on bushes, and is in use on such occasions all over Pegu.
And now, since I must leave Pegu, I must not omit giving the clergy their due praises in another particular
practice of their charity. If a stranger has the misfortune to be ship-wracked on their coast, by the laws of the coun-
try, the men are the king's slaves, but, by the mediation of the church, the governors overlook that law; and when
the unfortunate strangers come to their haws, they find a great deal of hospitality, both in food and raiment, and
have letters of recommendation from the priests of one convent to those of another on the road they design to
travel, where they may expect vessels to transport them to Syrian, and if any be sick or maimed, the priests, who
are the Peguers chief physicians, keep them in their convent, till they are cured, and then furnish them with letters,
as is above observed, for they never enquire which way a stranger worships god, but if he is human, he is the ob-
ject of their charity. There are some Christians in Syrian of the Portugueze offspring, and some Armenians. The Por-
tugueze have a church, but the scandalous lives of the priests and people make them contemptible to all people in
I have only to add to my observations of Pegu, that, in former times, Martavan was one of the most flour-
ishing towns for trade in the East, having the benefit of a noble river, which afforded a good harbour for ships of
the greatest burden; but, after the Barmaes conquered it, they sunk a number of vessels full of stones, in the mouth
of the river, so that now it is unnavigable, except for small vessels. They make earthen ware there still, and glaze
them with lead-oar. I have seen some jars made there, that could contain two hogsheads of liquor. They have also
still a small trade in fish. Their mullet dried is the best dry fish I ever tasted, either in India or Europe.
The islands off the coast of Pegu, are the Cocoes, uninhabited, but full of cocoa-nut trees. They ly about
twenty leagues West-south-west from Cape Negrais: and the islands Perperies ly thirty-six leagues South of the
said cape. They are high islands uninhabited, and so environed with rocks under water, that there is danger in
landing on them. They seem to be overgrown with woods, and that is all that I could observe of them. There is an-
other small island called Commoda, that lies about ten leagues off the Coast of Pegu, but is not inhabited.
Merjee [Mergui] and Tanacerin
The next place on the continent, to the Southward, is Merjee, a town belonging to the king of Siam, situated on the
banks of the river of Tanacerin, lying within a great number of small uninhabited islands. The harbour is safe, and
the country produces rice, timber for building, tin, elephants, elephants teeth and agala wood. In former times a
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good number of English free merchants were settled at Merjee, and drove a good trade, living under a mild indul-
gent government; but the old East-india Company envying their happiness, by an arbitrary command, ordered
them to leave their industry, and repair to Fort St. George, to serve them, and threatned the king of Siam with a sea
war, if he did not deliver those English up, or force them out of his country, and, in anno 1687, sent one Captain
Weldon in a small ship called the Curtany, to Merjee with that message. He behaved himself very insolently to the
government, and killed some Siamers, without any just cause. One night when Weldon was ashore, the Siamers
thinking to do themselves justice on him, got a Company together, designing to seize or kill the aggressor, but Wel-
don having notice of their design, made his escape on board his ship, and the Siamers missing him, tho' very nar-
rowly, vented their rage and revenge on all the English they could find. The poor victims being only guarded by
their innocence, did not so much as arm themselves, to withstand the fury of the enraged mob, so that seventy-six
were massacred, and hardly twenty escaped on board of the Curtany; so there was the tragical consequence of one
Before that fatal time, the English were so beloved and favoured at the court of Siam, that they had places of
trust conferred upon them, both in the civil and military branches of the government. Mr. Samuel White was made
shawbandaar or custom-master at Merjee and Tanacerin, and Captain Williams was admiral of the king's navy; but
the troublesom Company, and a great revolution that happened in the state of Siam, made some repair to Fort St.
George, others to Bengal, and some to Atcheen.
The islands opposite to the Coast of Tanacerin, are the Andemans. They ly about eighty leagues off, and are sur-
rounded with many dangerous banks and rocks, they are all inhabited with canibals, who are so fearless, that they
will swim off to a boat if she approach near the shore, and attack her with their wooden weapons, notwithstanding
the superiority of numbers in the boat, and the advantage of missive and defensive arms of iron, steel and fire.
I knew one Fergusson, who commanded a ship from Fort St. George, bound from Malacca to Bengal, in
Company with another ship, going too near one of the Andeman Islands, was driven, by the force of a strong cur-
rent, on some rocks, and the ship was lost. The other ship was driven thro' a chanel between two of the same is-
lands, and was not able to assist the ship-wracked men, but neither Fergusson nor any of his people were ever
more heard of, which gave ground to conjecture that they were all devoured by those savage canibals.
I saw one of the natives of those islands at Atcheen in anno 1694. He was then about forty years of age. The
Andemaners had a yearly custom to come to the Nicobar Islands, with a great number of small praws, and kill or
take prisoners as many of the poor Nicobareans as they could overcome. The Nicobareans again joyned their
forces, and gave the canibals battle, when they met with them, and one time defeated them, and gave no quarter to
the Andemaners. This man above mentioned, when a boy of ten or twelve years of age, accompanied his father in
the wars, and was taken prisoner, and his youth recommending him to mercy, they saved his life, and made him a
slave. After he had continued so three or four years, he was carried to Atcheen to be sold for cloth, knives and to-
bacco, which are the commodities most wanting on the Nicobar. The Atcheenen being Mahometans, this boy's pa-
tron bred him up in that religion, and some years after his master dying, gave him his freedom; he having a great
desire to see his native country, took a praw, and the months of December, January and February being fair weather,
and the sea smooth, he ventured to the sea, in order to go to his own country, from the islands of Gomus and Pullo-
wey, which ly near Atcheen. Here the Souther-most of the Nicobars may be seen, and so one island may be seen
from another, from the Southermost of those to Chitty-andeman, which is the Southermost of the Andeman, which
are distant from Atcheen about an hundred leagues. Arriving among his relations he was made welcome, with
great demonstrations of joy to see him alive, whom they expected to have been long dead.
Having retained his native language, he gave them an account of his adventures; and, as the Andemaners
have no notions of a deity, he acquainted them with the knowledge he had of a god, and would have perswaded
his country-men to learn of him the way to adore god, and to obey his laws, but he could make no converts. When
he had stayed a month or two, he took leave to be gone again, which they permitted, on condition that he would
return. He brought along with him four or five hundred weight of quick-silver, and he said, that some of the An-
deman Islands abound in that commodity. He had made several trips thither before I saw him, and always brought
some quick-silver along with him. Some Mahometan fakires would fain have accompanied him in his voyages, but
he would never suffer them, because he said, he could not engage for their safety among his countrymen. When I
saw him, he was in company with a Seid, whom I carried a passenger to Surat, and from him I had this account of
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The next place of any commerce on this coast, is the island of Jonkceyloan, it lies in the dominions of the king of
Siam. Between Merjee and Jonkceyloan there are several good harbours for shipping, but the sea-coast is very thin
of inhabitants, because there are great numbers of freebooters, called salleiters, who inhabit islands along the sea-
coast, and they both rob, and take people for slaves, and transport them for Atcheen, and there make sale of them,
and Jonkceyloan often feels the weight of their depredations.
The North end of Jonkceyloan lies within a mile of the continent, but the South end is above three leagues
from it. Between the island and the continent is a good harbour for shipping in the South-west monsoons, and on
the west side of the island Puton Bay is a safe harbour in the North-east winds. The islands afford good masts for
shipping, and abundance of tin, but few people to dig for it, by reason of the afore-mentioned outlaws, and the
governors being generally Chinese, who buy their places at the court of Siam, and, to reimburse themselves, op-
press the people, in so much that riches would be but a plague to them, and their poverty makes them live an easie
Yet the villages on the continent drive a small trade with shipping that come from the Chormondel Coast,
and Bengal, but both the buyer and seller trade by retail, so that a Ship's cargo is a long time in selling, and the
product of the country is as long in purchasing. The islands off this part of the coast are the Nicobars, and are about
ninety leagues distant from the continent. The Northmost cluster is low, and are called the Carnicubars, and by
their vicinity to the Andemans, are but thinly inhabited. The middle cluster is fine champain ground, and all but
one, well inhabited. They are called the Somerera Islands, because on the South end of the largest island, is an hill
that resembles the top of an umbrella or Somerera. About six leagues to the Southward of Somerera Island, lies
Tallang-jang the uninhabited island, where one Captain Owen lost his ship in anno 1708, but the men were all
saved, and finding no inhabitants, they made fires in the night, and next day there came five or six canoaes from
Ning and Goury, two fine islands that ly about four leagues to the Westward of the desert island, and very courte-
ously carried the shipwrackt men to their islands of Ning and Goury, with what little things they had saved of their
apparel and other necessaries.
The captain had saved a broken knife about four inches long in the blade, and he having laid it carelesly by,
one of the natives made bold to take it, but did not offer to hide it. The captain seeing his knife in the poor native's
hand, took it from him, and bestowed some kicks and blows on him for his ill manners, which was very ill taken,
for all in general shewed they were dissatisfied with the action; and the shipwrackt men could observe contentions
arising between those who were their benefactors in bringing them to their island, and others who were not con-
cerned in it: However, next day as the captain was sitting under a tree at dinner, there came about a dozen of na-
tives towards him, and saluted him on every side with a shower of darts made of heavy hard wood, with their
points hardned in the fire, and so he expired in a moment. How far they had a mind to pursue their resentment, I
know not, but their benefactors kept guard about their house till next day, and then presented them with two
canoaes, and fitted them with out-leagers to keep them from overturning, and put some water in pots, some cocoa-
nuts and dry fish, and pointed to them to be immediately gone, which they did. Being sixteen in company, they di-
vided equally, and steered their course for Jonkceyloan, but in the way one of the boats lost her out-leager, and
drowned all her crew, the rest arrived safe, and I carried them afterwards to Matchulipatam.
Ning and Goury
Ning and Goury are two fine smooth islands, well inhabited, and plentifully furnished with several sorts of good
fish, hogs and poultry, but they have no horses, cows, sheep, nor goats, nor wild beasts of any sort, but monkies.
They have no rice nor pulse, so that the kernel of cocoa-nuts, yams, and potatoes serves them for bread. Along the
North end of the eastmost of the two islands, are good soundings from ten to eight fathoms sand, about two miles
off the shore.
The people come thronging on board in their canoaes, and bring hogs, fowl, cocks, fish, fresh, salted and
dried yams, the best I ever tasted, potatoes, parots and monkies, to barter for old hatchets, sword-blades, and thick
pieces of iron-hoops, to make defensive weapons against their common disturbers and implacable enemies the
Andemaners, and tobacco they are very greedy of, for a leaf of tobacco, if pretty large, they will give a cock, for
three foot of an iron hoop, a large hog, and for one foot in length, a pig. They all speak a little broken Portugueze,
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but what religious worship they use, I could not learn.
The island Sometera lies about eight leagues to the Northward of Ning and Goury, and is well inhabited by the
number of villages that shew themselves as we sail along its shores. The people, like those of Ning and Goury are
very courteous, and bring the product of their island aboard of ships to exchange for the aforementioned commodi-
ties. Silver nor gold they neither have nor care for, so the root of all evil can never send out branches of misery, or
bear fruit to poison their happiness. The mens clothing is a bit of string round their middle, and about a foot and an
half of cloth six inches broad, tuckt before and behind within that line.
The women have a petticoat from the navel to the knee, and their hair close shaved, but the men have the
hair left on the upper part of the head, and below the crown, but cut so short that it hardly comes to their ears. The
Southward cluster of the Nicobars, is mountainous, and the people partake of its unpolished nature, being more
uncivil and surly than those to the Northward. Their islands produce the same necessaries as the others do.
Quedah is the next place of note on the continent to the Southward, and is honoured with the title of a kingdom,
tho' both small and poor. The town which bears the same name, stands on the banks of a small navigable river,
deep, but narrow, about fifty miles from the sea, and the king resides in it, but shews no marks of grandeur, besides
Their religion is Mahometan, much mixt with paganism. The people are deceitful, covetous, and cruel. It
was many years tributary to Siam, but in their long Pegu war, it threw off the yoke. Its product is tin, pepper, ele-
phants, and elephants teeth, canes, and damar, a gum that is used for making pitch and tar for the use of shipping.
The king is poor, proud, and beggarly, he never fails of visiting stranger merchants at their coming to his port, and
then, according to custom, he must have a present. When the stranger returns the visit, or has any business with
him, he must make him a present, otherwise he thinks due respect is not paid to him, and in return of these pre-
sents his majesty will honour the stranger with a seat near his sacred person, and will chew a little betel, and put it
out of his royal mouth on a little gold saucer, and sends it by his page to the stranger, who must take it with all the
signs of humility and satisfaction, and chew it after him, and it is very dangerous to refuse the royal morsel...
The kings of Johore ever paid homage to the kings of Siam, by sending them a rose made of gold in a golden box
once in three years. The year 1719 happened to be the year that the rose came, for I saw the messenger that brought
it at Siam, where he had orders from his master to know how my affairs went, with a profer of the king's service, if
I came back into his country.
Sangore is the first town on the king of Siam's dominions. On that side it is under the government of Ligore,
which was once the metropolis of a kingdom of the same name, but, by civil dissensions, it became a prey to the
king of Siam.
Sangore stands on the side of a large river. It yields some tin, elephants teeth, agala-wood and coarse gold,
but the inhabitants meet with so great discouragements in digging for tin, that there is very little to be procured;
and what is manufactured, is bought up by the Dutch factory at Ligore. Ligore lies about twelve leagues to the
Northward of Sangore, and between them lies a low uninhabited island, called Papier. It reaches from Sangore
within three leagues of Ligore River. It is well stored with wild buffaloes, hog and deer, which are free for all per-
sons to kill at pleasure. The road of Ligore lies two leagues from the river, and about a league within the river's
mouth stands the Dutch factory, a pretty commodious house, built of brick, after the Dutch fashion. The town
stands about two miles above the factory. It is built of barnbows, and thatcht with reed. There are many pagan
temples in it, which have steeples built very high, in form of very sharp pyramids. They are so small, that, in the
road, they look like ships masts. It produces abundance of tin, but the Dutch engross it all. Pullo Cara, an high is-
land, lies about twelve leagues off Ligore.
The next place of note is Cui, a place that produces great quantities of tin and elephants teeth, but all are
sent to the city of Siam or Odia for the king's use. The rest of the coast being little frequented, I will pass by it, and
110 SBBR 4.2 (Autumn 2006)
steer for the Bar of Siam. The city stands on an island in the River Memnon, which, by turnings and windings,
makes the distance from the bar about fifty leagues. The country is low, and as fruitful as any spot of ground in the
world, in rice, legumen, fruits and roots, cattle wild and tame. And the river abounds in many species of excellent
fish, which plentifully indulge the inhabitants, and make them indolent and lazy, and consequently proud, super-
stitious and wanton.
The city is reckoned ten miles round the walls, and many canals, from the river, pierce thro' the city from all
quarters. The walls of the city are high and thick, built of stone and brick; but the houses of the natives, tho' large,
are low, built on stakes driven into the ground, about ten or twelve foot high; but the Mahometans, Chinese and
Christians raise the grounds they build on high enough to be secure from the yearly inundations. The natives
houses are raised on those stakes on the same account, and as their walls are built of bambow and reeds, their roofs
are built of the same materials, and are all thatcht, except what are built on terra firma, and they are generally tiled.
There are many arched bridges in the city, built of brick or stone, and some of wood. The floors of the natives
houses are made of split bambow or reeds made fast together, so that one cannot move on them without both
noise, and shaking them.
The three palaces of their kings, and some temples, are the only magnificent edifices in the city; and some
steeples belonging to the temples are gilded with gold on the outside, and in a sun-shine they reflect the rays so
strongly, that, at two or three miles distance, they disturb the eye, when lookt upon.
They have many large temples well decorated after their way, and well stockt with gilded images of gods
and goddesses, of the priests contrivance and canonizing, and they never want devotees to adore them, who pay
their deceitful imposers very well for deceiving them; but they are not the only people that are so cunningly de-
luded, for the fatal custom has spread universally in all the corners of the world.
The great god, who created the universe, they have no image of, nor can they make any of him, because he
never shewed himself in any bodily shape, and therefore they can form no idea of his shape, dimensions or beauty;
but Tipedah, the great god's partner has often shewed himself, and him they worship in his image with the highest
adoration. Praw Prumb and Sommo Cuddem his friends they adore with the second degree in worship; and Pra-
pout and Samsay have the third sort of veneration paid to their images.
They have many little deities inferior to those above mentioned, whom they adore as patrons or protectors
of several tribes of men, and other animals of different countries and cities, of health, prosperity and other chances
and casualties, so every one is at liberty to choose his own patron or protector, and worship him according to his
own mind, but none are persecuted for the opinion of the way he is to worship, either the great or the little gods.
That heavenly frenzy is only a raging mad distemper that affects the melancholick brains of the western world.
I was in one temple pretty large, built exactly four square, and each square contained just an hundred im-
ages They were placed in notches or domes about four foot from the ground. There were more goddesses than
gods, and all were in. a sitting posture cross-legged, as taylors sit on their shop-boards. Their noses were low and
small, their vissage long, their ears large, and the lappets of them thick and plump. They sat promiscuously in
those notches, and all clothed in one livery of gold-leaf. They were almost as big as full-grown men and women,
but very different in their substances. The priests told us, that some were of pure gold, others of tecul silver, which
has no alloy in it, some of copper, and some of brass, and some of baked clay; but, for want of sumpture laws
among them, it was hard to know the gentleman from the beggar by their garb, or a lady from a lawndress.
In one temple, as I was informed, stands the famous Samsay twenty yards in height. He is in a right lineal
descent from little Samsay, who caused so much war between Siam and Pegu, which never ended but with the dis-
solution of the Pegu Empire. In most of their temples there are frightful dragons standing sentinels at their gates,
but whether they are placed there to keep in the gods, or to keep out devils, I know not.
There are reckoned no less than fifty thousand clergymen or tallapoys belonging to the temples in and
about the city of Siam; but they are easy to the state, having no stated benefices or other revenues, and yet they are
plentifully supplied with all the necessaries of life by the charity and benevolence of the laity.
There is one temple about three miles below the city on the opposite side of the river, called the fishes tem-
ple, because annually in the month of September, when the floods overflow the low ground, (as in Egypt) there are
good numbers of fishes almost like small Salmon, that frequent a pond close to that temple, and are to be found in
no other place in the Siam dominions, and they are so tame, that they will come close to our boats, and frisk and
play on the surface of the water, if any body has a mind to feed them, with bread, cocoa-nut meat, or other food
that does not easily separate. Tis only to hold some near the surface of the water, and they will take it familiarly
from the hand. I have often taken pleasure to feed them, and see them play, but as soon as we leave off feeding
them, they will withdraw, so that hardly one is to be seen till a new supply of victuals is offered to them.
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But none dares offer to take one of them, for fear of raising a zealous sanctified mob, who punish small
faults with the greatest severities, and those fishes being consecrated to the god of that temple, are securely pro-
tected by the consecration. They continue about the temple till the middle of December, that the floods begin to
draw off the ground, and then they depart, and are seen no where in any river or pond belonging to Siam, till Sep-
tember brings them back to their temple.
Whatever animal comes within the verge of a temple, it is secured from pursuit or violence. I knew a Portu-
gueze inhabitant of Siam, who shot a crow as it sat on the branch of a tree that grew near a temple, on which the
priests raised a mob, who broke both the poor man's legs and arms, and left him in the field for dead, but some
Christians coming accidentally by, carried him in a boat, in that deplorable state, to a French surgeon, who set his
bones, and cured him. I saw him alive and well in anno 1720.
The French have a bishop at Siam, with a church and a seminary for the education of converts. They stand a
little above the city, on the opposite side of the river. They make but few converts, except when corn is dear, and
then some of the poorer sort receive baptism, which intitles them to a maintenance from the church, but, when
plenty returns, they throw away their beads and brazen saint, and bid farewel to Christianity In anno 1720 there
were not above seventy Christians in and about Siam, and they the most dissolute, lazy, thievish rascals that were
to be found in the country.
The Bishop was one Mr. Cissee, a man of about eighty years of age, who, in a famine that happened there in
anno 1708, took up about three thousand pounds sterling from the king, to buy coin for the support of his church,
and such poor Siamers as were converted by the necessity of the times, who relapsed again as soon as the famine
ceased, and the poor old bishop cannot leave the country till that debt be discharged. He is superstitiously zealous
for his religion, and would fain go to Cochin-china or Tunquin to die a martyr, because it is death by their law to
preach any foreign doctrine without leave first obtained from their kings.
Whatever principles he may have had in religion I know not, but I am sure that he was a diminutive moral-
ist, which I knew by experience, in seducing some of my seamen, who were black Christians, to leave any ship at
Siam, contrary to his promise, which obliged me to buy slaves to supply their places; but I left him some cause to
repent of his folly and breach of promise.
There were four or five priests there besides the bishop, one whereof always attends the college, and the
others officiate daily in the church. They live abstemiously, but, I believe, lather thro' force than choice, for their
incomes are very small, as charity and piety are very cold among their flock The Portugueze have also a church
there, built on the side of the river opposite to the lower end of the town; but their priests are generally so scandal-
ous in their lives, that few frequent their church, or care for their conversation. The Chinese being very numerous
in Siam, have several small temples, but none remarkable for their structure or beauty.
The Dutch have a factory there, about a mile below the town, on the same side of the river. Their greatest
investments are in tin, sapan-wood and deers skins, which they buy up for the Japan market. The Siam market
takes off but little European goods; however the Dutch chief makes a pretty good figure there.
The English, for many years, had also a factory there, till about the year 1686, the East-India Company seek-
ing occasions to pick a quarrel with the Siamers, in order to withdraw, they took hold of such as they could first
find, tho' never so frivolous. The first was about anno 1684.
The Carolina, bound from England to China, had the misfortune to lose her passage, and corning to Siam to
pass away the North-east monsoons, and the king of Siam having occasion for some stores for shipping out of the
Carolina's cargo, to equip some ships that he had built in order to humble the Cambodians and the Couchin-
chinese, who disturbed the navigation of his country, he civilly requested the English chief to supply him at the
prices the same commodities used to be sold at to merchants, but he could not find that favour, which he resented,
and threatned to disturb their commerce. At length they supplied him with some part of what he demanded, to
avert the ill consequences that might happen by a total refusal. This was represented to the Company in the darkest
colours, and they thought that sufficient to ground a war on; but they had, at that time, a fleet of large ships, which
they had equipt to regain their trade of Bantam and other places, which the Dutch had insolently robbed them of;
but they were disappointed by the deep politicks of King Charles II, as is before observed.
However, the king of Siam continued his indulgence to the Company and their servants, in much affluence
and luxury, continually carousing in debaucheries with wine and women, till their common salaries and gains by
trade, were in no proposition to their extravagant expences, however that being a free country, they had liberty to
spend their own and their masters estates, as they pleased.
The king of Siam having formed the design of a war, as above mentioned, with Cambodia and Couchin-
china, employed a good number of English who had resorted to Siam, to partake of the king's indulgence and
112 SBBR 4.2 (Autumn 2006)
bounty, and to help the Company's servants to spend their money. All the English who had a mind to list them-
selves on board of his fleet, had great encouragement of honourable posts and good salaries well paid, and they
did perform actions in the war worthy of the bravery and courage of the English Nation, by which the king's fa-
vour to the English, increased more than before the war.
One Mr. Pots happened to be chief of the English factory at that time, who by his extravagant luxury had
rioted away a great part of his masters goods and money and had run his own credit out of doors. He then began
to form projects how to clear accounts with his masters and creditors, without putting any thing in their pockets.
The first was on five hundred chests of Japon copper, which his masters had in specie at Siam, and they were
brought into account of profit and loss, for so much eaten up by the white ants, which are really insects, that by a
cold corroding liquid quality, can do much mischief to cloth, timber, or on any other soft body that their fluids can
penetrate, but copper is thought too hard a morsel for them; however, I saw that article in the Company's accounts,
as they were remitted from Siam to Bombay, and were in Mr. Vaux's custody at Surat afterwards.
But that small article of 2500 pounds, went but a small way towards clearing of his accounts. So after sup-
per one night as they were merrily carousing, the factory was set on fire, and that balanced all other accounts. Mr.
Pots alledged to the king, that his subjects the Siamers, had done that mischief, and expected the king to be ac-
countable for losses and damages, sustained by the Company and their servants.
The king, on the other hand, proferred to prove, that Mr. Pots and his drunken companions had done it,
and that he expected the company should be accountable to his subjects for the loss they had sustained by the fire,
which had burnt several houses that lay near the factory.
However, the Company adhered to the just complaints of their honest servants, and thought that the king's
refusal to make good their demands, was a sufficient piece of ground to build their war on. However, the Company
considering that a war could bring them no advantage, thought it enough to bully the Siamers, but never declared
In the year 1685, the Company sent two ships to the Bar of Siam. One was the Herbert of 800 tuns, the other
the prudent Mary of 400 [tons], to frighten the Siamers, but they did no damage to them, and the Siamers treated
About 1680 there was one Constantine Falcon, a Greek by birth, that some years before had shipt himself
steward of an English ship at London, bound to India, and. being ordered for Siam, and finding some ill treatment
on board, he deserted from the ship, and fled to a small village some distance from the city, where he amused him-
self in learning the Siam language. He being a sober, ingenious, and industrious person, soon made himself master
of the language, and served as an interpreter for the English at court, where he was remarkably taken notice of, and
got a post there. His behaviour recommended him to greater preferments, so that in a very few years he became
prime minister of state, and behaved himself so well in that high station, that every thing belonging to the state of
the country prospered, so that Siam became the richest and powerfullest kingdom in that part of the world. The
Jesuits hearing that one of the Romish communion sat at the helm of the Siam affairs, and it being a rich country,
brought whole troops of them into Siam, who got the whole management of affairs into their hands, through the
interest of the Barkalong, that being the appellation of first minister. They tickled themselves with the fancy of
bringing the whole kingdom of Siam under the Pope's jurisdiction, and in anno 1683, the first year of his ministry,
they got the king to send an embassy to the king of France, which ambassador came also to London, and settled a
treaty of commerce for the English that should trade in Siam. The Jesuits imposed on the king of France, and made
him believe, that if he would send an embassy to Siam, that king would leave his own superstition, and embrace
theirs. Accordingly an ambassador was sent, with many valuable French curiosities, and among them a very fine
mass-book, with beautiful cuts of all the first rate saints in the Romish Kalendar.
On the ambassador's arrival, he was received with the respect due to his character, and when the presents
were laid before the king, according to custom, he seemed much pleased with their curiosity, but when he viewed
the pictures in the Mass-book, he askt a Jesuit who was interpreter, what they were, who answered, that they were
the pictures of holy men now in heaven, and such as his brother the king of France adored, and as he designed an
eternal friendship with his majesty, he hoped that he would also adore those pictures, and worship the images of
those saints, rather than those idols that were worshipped all over his dominions. The king returned answer, that
the gods of his country had been auspicious to them who lived in it for time out of mind, and as it would be unjust
and ungrateful to banish those gods that had been so long very kind to his predecessors and himself, so he could
not turn his old gods off and take new ones in their places that he did not so well know, and that he would oblige
his brother of France in any thing but that the king of France complimented Mr. Falcon with the order of knight-
hood, and in his letter to him, wherein he recommended the French affairs to his care, particularly that of religion,
SBBR 4.2 (Autumn 2006) 1 1 3
he stiled him loving cousin and counselled
After the embassy was gone from Siam to France, the Jesuits thought of nothing but bringing the trade of
Siam under the power of the French, and in order to that, got the king to order the building of a fort on the river's
side, opposite to the Fort of Bencock, a town about twenty leagues below the city of Siam, and to have it manned
with a garrison of French, to be paid by the exchequer of Siam, and all this was granted according to their mind.
The fort is a regular tetragon, and can mount about eighty great guns. When the French got possession they
grew intolerably arrogant, which made the Siamers uneasie, and murmured at the king's weakness, but that was in
private, for certain destruction is the sure reward of talking publickly of any mismanagement of the state, for a
king of Siam can no more err in politicks, than a Pope can in matters of faith.
Yet about the year 1688, by some malevolent planet that over-ruled his actions, he made a war with his
neighbors the kings of Cambodia, and Couchin-china He sent an army by land, and a fleet by sea, to carry on the
war, but was not successful by land. However in the land-army there was a mean person, a citizen of Siam, who
kept a fruit-shop, he had a bold daring spirit, and behaved himself so well on all occasions, in the land war, that he
came to preferment, and at last was made generalissimo, and then ended the war to the satisfaction of the whole
army abroad, and his prince at home; but when he brought back the army to Siam, seeing the king wrapt up in the
opinion he had of the Jesuits counsels, and the management they had in the affairs of state, by the countenance of
the king and his first minister my Lord Falcon, he pickt a quarrel with the king, and having most of the army at his
devotion, seized his master and put him to death, after the manner of royal criminals, or as princes of the blood are
treated when convicted of capital crimes, which is, by putting them into a large iron caldron, and pounding them
to pieces with wooden pestles, because none of their royal blood must be spilt on the ground, it being, by their re-
ligion, thought great impiety to contaminate the divine blood, by mixing it with earth. And after he had murdered
his master, he summoned all the mandereens in the city, to hold a council in the palace.
My Lord Falcon, for that was generally his designation, had, by his civil deportment towards people of all
ranks and degrees, so ingratiated himself, that he had a stronger party by far, both in the city and country, than the
general; and besides, had all the fleet at his devotion. Many of my Lord's friends disswaded him from obeying the
summons, but to raise the forces of the city, and revenge the death of the king, and many officers of the army that
detested the regicide would have come over to his party, which at least was above fifty thousand strong, but being
infatuate, he was deaf to all good advice, and went to the palace, where as soon as he had set his foot, he was
seized by the general's guards, and beheaded, so the usurper took the sovereignty into his own hands, and at that
instant was by jure divino made an infallible favourite of heaven, and the sun, moon, and stars, had the honour to
be his near relations.
Had my Lord Falcon followed his friends advice, or had courage answerable to his other good qualities, he
had certainly been honoured with the diadem in Siam, and if he had introduced popery in the place of paganism,
he had been honoured with a place in the Pope's Almanack, but his pusillanimity made him unworthy of both.
I had this account from my Lord Secretary Mr. Bashpool, who, on his master's death, was clapt up in prison,
and lay three years with his neck in the congoes, which are a pair of stocks made of bamboes, and was never taken
out, but in order to be severely whipped, to make him accuse rich men whom the usurper had a mind to destroy,
that he might seize their estates under the umbrage of justice and law.
I saw my Lady Falcon in anno 1719, and she was then honoured with the superintendency of his majesty's
confectionary. She was born in Siam of honourable parents, and at that time much respected both in the court and
city, for her prudence and humanity to natives and strangers, when they came into difficulties, or under the weight
of oppressions from the officers of the court or city.
When the Siam ambassador returned from France and England, in the murdered king's time, his master,
among many other questions, askt him if the king of France had any palaces like his at Siam, for beauty and magni-
tude, and the poor man unadvisedly told him truth, that in France were many finer, nay, that the king of France's
horse stables in Paris, exceeded any buildings in India, which his majesty took so ill, that he disgraced him, and
was very near losing his head for his telling truth.
The king of Siam is as fond of lofty titles as the king of Pegu. Besides his proximity with the heavenly lumi-
naries, he is a god on earth, in whose court are to be found justice, mercy, and benevolence to mankind, with such a
train of senseless hyperboles, and at last, to illustrate all the rest, he is king of the white elephant, a title that none
disputes with him but the king of Pegu.
The king bestows his anniversary blessing on his people in the month of September, when he passes
through the city attended with a numerous train of elephants, among whom is the white elephant, but he is only of
a cream colour, and I have seen severals at Bangarie a village near Jonkceyloan, as white as him. All the elephants
114 SBBR 4.2 (Autumn 2006)
that day are drest in their finest trappings, with drums, trumpets, hautboys, and other musical instruments making
a noise as they go along, but whether it is to divert his majesty or his elephants, I know not, but I am sure the noise
was harsh in my ears.
While he is making his elephantine cavalcade through the city, the populace dares not look him in the face,
but prostrate on their knees and their elbows on the ground, with their hands open and joyned above their heads,
and their eyes fixt on the ground, or shut till he has past by them, then they are permitted to rise and look on his
back parts or side.
In the month of November he also shews himself on the river, in a ballong or barge of thirty or forty yards
long, about two yards broad, and two foot deep, with a throne placed near the middle of her length, about seven
foot high, and a rich canopy over his head, and being seated on the throne, his greatest lords or minions sit under
the throne, and about fifty or sixty rowers are seated a-fore and be-aft the throne, (clothed in carnation coloured
waistcoats, with fine caps or turbands on their heads) to row or paddle his majesty wherever he orders them, and
there are ordinarily above one thousand other barges to wait on his majesty, besides several thousands of other
common ballongs, insomuch, that for five or six miles, the river is covered with boats, except near his majesty's
barge, and there is half a mile of the river clear for his barge to move in.
About four or five in the evening, he goes in his barge to a temple about three miles above the city, on the
opposite side of the river, where the priests pray for him, and present him with two yards and an half of cotton
cloth, that must be spun and woven the same day that the king comes to receive it. After sun sets, he embarks again
(leaving some royal gratuity to the priests for their miraculous present) and is attended in state to his palace.
His reason for honouring the river and his people that time of the year, is to forbid the river formally to
flow higher or longer than such a number of inches in height, or of days in time, as he sets it; yet sometimes it dis-
obeys his royal commands.
All the mandarines belonging to the government, whose affairs require their residence in the city, whose
numbers generally amount to three thousand, must daily attend in the palace, except they have leave to be absent,
and if any one transgresses, he is severely whipt with split rattans, which cut pretty deep into the flesh, and leave
conspicuous marks behind them. The greater the marks appear, the greater the honour they take them to be. And
the pretty ladies are not exeemed from the flagellation, for very small faults. And I have seen some pretty agreeable
young gentle-women with rottan marks on their backs, which they are so far from covering, that as they pass the
streets, they expose their backs, tho' their breasts, bellies, and necks are covered with a scarf, seeming to glory in
being so much taken notice of by the greatest king on earth.
The women in Siam are the only merchants in buying goods, and some of them trade very considerably.
The husbands in general are maintained by the industry of their wives. And the Europeans that trade to Siam, ac-
commodate themselves as they do in Pegu, with temporary wives, almost on the same conditions too, and it is
thought no disgrace to have had many temporary husbands, but rather an honour that they have been beloved by
so many different men. The Christian priests cry down that way of marrying, and want every heretick, as well as
Christian Catholick, to be tied to some young lasses of their bringing up, but the hereticks, according to their innate
principles, generally continue deaf and obstinate to the grave advice and sound doctrine of the holy fathers, and
marry according to the Siam way. The Catholicks dare not do so for fear of excommunication, but the Siam wives
generally prove the most obedient, loving, and chaste, for which reason, when the Catholicks once go from Siam to
follow their business in other countries, they seldom return to Siam, but leave their beloved wives a legacy to the
church, who is a very indulgent mother to her termagant daughters.
The natives of both sexes go bare-headed, and their hair cut within two inches of the skin, and gummed,
and combed upwards, which makes their head seem very big, and all in bristles like a boar's back. They are well
shaped in body and limbs, with a large fore-head and a little nose, and handsom mouth with plump lips, and black
sparkling eyes. Their ears of a moderate size, but large thick lappets. The men have but little hair on their chins,
and they are of an olive-colour, but the women of a straw complexion, and some of the ladies have a little tincture
of red in their cheeks and lips, but whether it is natural or artificial I know not. They are very prolifick and long-
lived, which may be partly imputed to their temperance in eating and dunking.
After the usurper had settled himself on the throne of Siam, he ordered the French to deliver their fort at
Bencock, to an officer that he sent to take possession of it, but they refused, without first making terms for them-
selves, on which he sent a part of his army to attack it, and threatned every man's life that returned before it was
taken. His orders were punctually put in execution, and all the French got, was the honour of dying bravely in the
defence of their liberty. The fort stands still undemolished, but no artillery is in it.
In Siam they have several ways in punishing criminals with death, for theft and other such like peccadil-
SBBR 4.2 (Autumn 2006) 1 1 5
loes. Beheading is the common way. For rebellion or mutiny they are ript up alive, and their guts and intrails taken
out, and their carcases woven up in a twig-case, and tied up to a stake for vultures and other voracious fowls, or
dogs to feed on I saw eighteen one morning going to be executed so for mutiny. They were each put on a triangular
seat, with their necks and hands in wooden fetters, and carried by three slaves in chains through the streets to the
place of execution, but they lookt as if they had been almost starved in prison, for they were very meagre. Some
were weeping, others joyful that they were near the end of a miserable life.
For treason and murder, the elephant is the executioner. The condemned person is made fast to a stake
driven into the ground for the purpose, and the elephant is brought to view him, and goes twice or thrice round
him, and when the elephant's keeper speaks to the monstrous executioner, he twines his trunk round the person
and stake, and pulling the stake from the ground with great violence, tosses the man and the stake into the air, and
in coming down, receives him on his teeth, and shaking him off again, puts one of his fore feet on the carcase, and
squeezes it flat.
In anno 1717, the king of Siam made war on his neighbour of Cambodia, and invaded his country with an
army of fifty thousand by land, and twenty thousand by sea, and committed the care of his armies to his Barka-
long, a Chinese, altogether unacquainted with war. The China Man accepted of the charge with much reluctancy,
but the king would not be denied. The war proved unsuccessful, but I'll leave the particulars till I treat of Cambo-
dia, and return to Siam, where I had some difficulties to meet with.
In anno 1719, I went thither with a cargo to dispose on, expecting to trade on the footing of the old treaty
concluded at London with the king of England, and the king of Siam's ambassador, in anno 1684. but on my arri-
val, I found that Mr. Collet, Governor of Fort St. George, had cancelled that agreement by his ambassador Powny,
as I have already observed, and the new conditions being too hard for me to stand to, I solicited for liberty to de-
part again with my ship and cargo, which I could not obtain in less than four months.
Collet's attorney at the court of Siam, was a Persian by birth, but had come to Siam with his father when
very young, and had remained about forty years at Siam, He was as complete a rascal as Collet could have found
for his villanous purposes, for by false informations to the king, he had brought many honest men into trouble, and
some treasure into the king's coffers.
When I understood that he was the Remora that had put a stop to my commerce, I tried if I could remove
him by large presents, but all to no purpose, for if I traded, it must be on the scheme laid down by Collet, by the
negotiation of Powny, who kept one Collison as his resident at Siam, to consult and inform the Persian of the best
methods to ruine the English traders that had not Collet's letters of protection.
This Persian, (whose name was Oia Sennerat) and I, were discoursing one day of my affairs in the Industan
language, which is the established language spoken in the Mogul's large dominions, and, among other things, I
was laying down to him the difficulties that might attend the king of Siam's trade, carried on from Merjee to Fort
St. George, because if the rest of the English colonies were forbid trading with Siam, they had just cause to forbid
his subjects to trade to Fort St. George, or any where else, and that other troubles might arise to the king's affairs,
by thus imposing on the king, who was ignorant of the consequences that might follow in breaking the agreement
made in England, without so much as once giving warning to the English colonies of other parts of India.
He answered me, that the king of Fort St. George could best give me an answer, who was able to protect the
king of Siam's trade thither, and that his majesty had no other foreign trade but Japon, that he valued, and the Eng-
lish had no trade that way to disturb his master's commerce, and that if I did not comply with the agreement made
by Powny in Collet's name, I might go away when I could.
I told him that I had a mind to see the king, and would make him a present of a thousand dollars, if he
could find means to introduce me to his presence. He answered me, that the English had not good manners enough
to be admitted into the presence of so great a king, and therefore I ought not to expect to appear before him, and for
fear I should have made application to some other court favourite to introduce me, about two or three days after
our confabulation, I heard that there was a proclamation published, all over the city, that no foreigner should dare
to approach within such a distance of the king's palace, under very severe penalties.
About a week after I had a summons to appear before a tribunal, to answer to an indictment of speaking
treason of the king. I knew my self innocent, and appealed at the time appointed, which was about eight in the
morning. The court was held in a large, square, oblong hall, open on all sides. About nine the judge came with
some thousands of attendants, and, as he passed by me to take his place, he viewed me very narrowly, as I did him
with much attention. He was a man of a middle stature, about fifty years of age, of a pleasant, but grave counte-
nance, and had a quick sparkling eye. He spoke to my interpreter, to bid me have a care of my tongue, lest I should
prejudice myself in answering to intricate questions. I thanked him for his admonition, and told him, a word to the
116 SBBR 4.2 (Autumn 2006)
wise was sufficient.
Having placed himself, he ordered my indictment to be read, which was accordingly done, and in about
half an hour's time it was ended. He askt me by my interpreter, if I understood what was libelled against me. I an-
swered, No. He then bade the interpreter inform me of the meaning of each particular paragraph, as they were
read a second time with deliberation, and, having heard my impeachment, which was grounded only on my say-
ing. That the king had been imposed upon, I thought fit to deny all, and put my adversary Oia Sennet at to prove
that I had said so; but, by the by, I found, that saying the king of Siam was capable of being imposed on, is rank
The judge chose out of the assembly two procurators for each of us, and there were no small debates for
three or four hours, whether or not a stranger, who was ignorant of the laws of Siam, could come under the penalty
annext to the transgression of their laws, when they were broken through ignorance, and not with design, but my
antagonist at last carried it in the affirmative, tho' the judge seemed to incline towards the opinions of my advo-
Then the judge put Oia Sennerat to prove what I was accused of, and he produced two of his own servants,
who stood at some distance when we were discoursing of my affairs; but my advocates challenged the laws of
Siam for their insufficiency, for that law admits not of a servant's testimony, either for or against his master. Then
he proferred to bring an undeniable witness against me, who was the only person with us when we discoursed,
and that was Collison, who was presently sent for, and being set by my adversary, the judge askt him by the inter-
preter, if he was present at such a time, when Oia Sennet at and I were in warm discourse. He answered, he was he
then interrogated him, if he had heard me say in my discourse, that the king had been imposed on he affirmed he
had, on which I perceived a cloud overspread the judge's countenance, and many others, who had come to hear the
trial, seemed sorrowful.
After a little pause, the judge, by the interpreter, askt me what I had to say to Collison's evidence. I an-
swered, that I had little knowledge of him, but that he might be an honest man, or otherwise, as his interest led
him. All continued mute for a little space, and I broke the dilence by desiring the judge to ask Collison in what lan-
guage I held that discourse in with Oia Sennet at, which the judge did, and was answered, that he did not well
know, but that he believed it was in the Industan language. I begged the judge to ask him if he understood that
language, and he did so. Collison, after some pause, answered, No. Then the judge askt him angrily, and with an
air of disdain, how he could come in as an evidence of words spoken in a language that he did not understand, and
he simply said, that he thought I had said so, at which the whole crowd gave an Huzza, and clapt their hands, and
seemed joyful. The judge reprimanded Oia Senmrat for putting him and the court to so much trouble, and com-
plimented me on my safe delivery, and so departed seemingly well satisfied.
I had two British gentlemen that accompanied me all the time of my trial. One was commander of a small
ship from Bengal, called Mr. Alexander Dalgleish, and one Mr. John Saunders, who was second supercargo under
me; and when the judge came, some executioners followed him with their instruments of death, to put the sentence
in execution as soon as the judge pronounces it. Our debates held so long, that it was near eight at night before we
got home. Had I been cast in my process, my head had been a sacrifice to my adversary's resentment, and my ship
and cargo to the much injured king, and, to sum up all, my ship's company had been the king's slaves. On my re-
turning home victorious, I had the congratulations of all my friends, particularly the Chinese merchants, whose
lives and estates might have been endangered by the like villanous informations.
My adversaries being shamefully disappointed in that project, had one more to try their skill in, and that
was to bring me in for piracy, fors about four years before, Mr. Harrison, then Governor of Fort St. George, had sent
a ship to Amoy in China, and some China merchants having taken goods and money, to the amount of 20000
tayels, or 6700 pounds sterling, when the term of payment came, they eloped, and the supercargoes could have no
redress, which made them give orders to the captain of the ship to make reprisals, which they did on a large jonk
belonging to the Barkalong of Siam, which jonk they carried with them to Fort St George, and which fact my ad-
versaries fixed on me, tho', at that time, I was in Arabia or Persia, which I preferred to prove by some Mahometan
merchants that saw me there; but all that I could alledge would have been ineffectual, if I had not accidentally
found some Chinese who belonged to the jonk when she was seized, and who knew both me and Captain Jones,
who was the captor, and so it never came to a trial.
It being high time for me to get from Siam at any rate, I applied myself to my judge for his assistance, and
carried a present of four yards of scarlet cloth, and some pieces of Surat goods, to the value of twenty L. in all. He
received me very courteously, and promised me his assistance, but would accept of none of my presents. At last on
my pressing him to take it, he accepted of the scarlet cloth, but would not touch any of the Surat goods, tho' they
SBBR 4.2 (Autumn 2006) 117
were very fine in their kind, but recommended me to two officers more, whom I must address to make my request
be the easier granted, and he told me, that those Surat goods would serve to make them my friends. I took his ad-
vice, and in three days had my clearance, for paying about two hundred L. for my ship's measurage, (an imposition
of Mr. Collet's) and so I fell down to Bencock, where, according to the Siam custom, I was obliged to put my guns
ashore, before I could go up to the city. I lay there four or five days before orders were sent to deliver my guns,
which, as soon as I had got on board, and mounted, I told the officer that delivered them, to give my service to Oia
Sennerat, and tell him, that if the king's three jonks arrived on this coast this season, he would hear farther from me
By that time I was clear at Bencock, Captain Dalgleish arrived there also, in order to proceed to Bengal. He
had fallen into the trap laid by Collet, and had paid measurage and customs, besides the usual presents to the
court, according to the old constitution, but he could not get ready to go so soon out of the river as I, otherwise I
designed to have brought some troubles on Sennerat, if not on Collet and Powney's affairs at Siam y but Captain
Dalgleish being still in their power, tied my hands.
Siam Bar is only a large bank of soft mud, and, at spring-tides, not above ten or eleven foot water on it. It is
easy getting into it in the South-west monsoons, because, in two or three tides, with the motion the ship receives
from the small waves and the assistance of the wind, she slides thro' the mud. My ship drew thirteen foot, and we
had not above nine on the bar when we went into the river, but coming out with the North-east monsoons, the sea
being smooth, we are obliged to warp out with anchors and halsers, and, if the ship draws any considerable
draught of water, we are sometimes two springs in warping over, but, at twelve foot draught, I got over in four
And now, having given some particular accounts of my observations on and in Siam, I will also give some
general remarks, and begin with the fertility of the country, which, on that point, is inferior to few (if any) in the
There are but two parcels of mountains to be seen in the places that I passed thro', and they ly between East
and North-east from the City of Odia, about ten leagues distant, and they produce good timber for building, and
agala-wood for perfumes. They have also mines of iron, tin, lead, silver and gold, but they are all entailed on the
crown, who has the sole benefit of them. They breed vast numbers of wild deer, which are hunted and killed for the
sake of their skins, which they yearly send to Japon.
The plains produce all sorts of grain necessary for animal and human sustenance. They plentifully bear as
good, if not the best oranges, lemons and limes in the world. Their rivers super abound in fish of several species,
very good in their kind. Their villages are numerous, and well inhabited with artificers and peasants; but there are
but five walled towns in all the Siam dominions, and Odia is one of them.
They have abundance of wild animals in their woods, such as elephants, rhinoceroses, leopards and tigers,
and tame cattle, as bullocks, buffaloes and swine, in abundance about their farms. Temples and priests are more
numerous here, in proportion to the laity, than in any country I ever saw out of the dominions of Portugal. Their
tallapoys or priests are distinguished from the laity by a cinnamon or orange-coloured cloke which they wear, they
again differing among themselves by distinguishing badges, by which they know their degree and dignity. Their
heads, beards and eye-brows are kept close shaven. They are forbidden marriage or meddling with money, and if
any of the priesthood is convicted of incontinency with women, he is burned for it alive, and, if only suspected and
brought to a trial, he is degraded and banished.
They have sermons or lectures four times in a moon, the gates of the temples being set wide open, and the
people meet in good order. Their sermons consist in recommending moral duties to the people, and charity to-
wards one another, but particularly to the church, by which acts it subsists; and, after the priests benediction, every
one goes to an image, and kisses it, or bows to it, and marches off in good order They have morning and evening
prayers, and sing anthems. They visit the sick, and pray for the dead, and accompany the corps to the funeral pile,
and sing obsequies. They go to weddings, and make sacrifices for the prosperity of the bridegroom and bride, but
have no hand in joyning them together
Marriages are there made up by parents or near relations, without the consent of the parties to be married,
for that reason they are commonly married very young, but, if they are come to the years of discretion or maturity,
then the spark gets some female friend to acquaint his mistris with his passion for her, and if she will permit a visit
from him, the bargain is as good as made The civil magistrate with them officiates the priest's part with us, and
when once they are married, they seldom sue for a divorce, which is very hard to procure, except in case of insuffi-
ciency in the man, or barrenness in the woman, for adultery, in either party, is not reckoned infamous; and fornica-
tion is either allowed or tolerated.
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The children are carefully educated in schools by priests set apart for that service, and it is rare to find a
Siamer but who can write. After schooling, they are put to such callings as suit best with their genius and quality:
And there is generally a reciprocal harmony between parents and children. The children are obedient, and the par-
ent indulgent. In childhood and youth the parent furnishes the child with what is necessary, and in old age the
child supplies all the wants of his parent, as far as he is able. In marriages they make no account of consanguinity,
farther than between father and daughter, mother and son, and sister and brother; all other degrees are lawful.
And now it is time to steer my course to the Southward again as far as Cambodia. Coasting along shore, the
first place we meet with is Bankasoy, a place not frequented by strangers, tho' it produces much agala and sapan-
woods, and elephants teeth; but all are sent to the king, who, for all his gaudy titles, yet stoops to play the mer-
chant. I suppose he makes use of trading in honour of his kinsman mercury who superintends merchandizing, but
was never reckoned a fair dealer, and in that point the king is nearly related to him: but Bankasoy is famous, chiefly
for making Balhchang, a sauce made of dried shrimps, cod-pepper, salt and a sea weed or grass, all well mixed,
and beaten up to the consistency of thick mustard. Its taste and smell are both ungrateful to the nose and palate;
but many hundred tuns are expended in Siam and the adjacent countries.
Bankasoy River lies but four or five leagues to the Eastward of Siam Bar, and there are two islands, called
the Dutch Islands, where great ships are obliged to stay in the South-west monsoons, when they cannot get water
over the bar that bears off it South-east and by South, about nine leagues distant.
I observed before, that the Company sent the Herbert and another ship from England in anno 1685, and in
1686, as the Herbert lay at those islands, one Captain Udal, who commanded her, died, and the succeeding captain
carried his corps ashore, and buried it in a pretty deep grave. Two days after, some of the ship's people going
ashore, had the curiosity to go and see the grave. When they came near, to their great wonder, they saw the corps
stript of its winding sheet, and set upright against a tree. It was afterwards put again into the coffin, and buried in
the same grave, with a quantity of heavy stones on it, and next day they came to the grave, and found it opened a
second time, with the corps standing upright against another tree, so they made fast some stones to it, and carried
it a pretty way into the sea, and buried it in the water, where it remained undisturbed. This strange resurrection left
room for various conjectures, but the most probable seemed to be, that some sorcerers took it up, and put it in that
posture, whilst they, by their sorceries or incantations, interrogate it about future events, and received answers thro'
human organs. The matter of fact I have heard often affirmed by severals who were there at the time and saw it,
which made me enquire, if any people in Siam used to enquire about future events after that manner, and I was
told that they did.
The coasts of Liampe and Chiampo are the territories of Siam, but for fifty leagues and more along the sea-
shore, there are no sea-ports, the country being almost a desert. It produces good store of sapan and agala-woods,
with gumlack and sticklack, and many drugs that I know but little about.
The first sea-port to be met with is Cupangsoap, a town in the dominions of Cambodia, It affords elephants teeth,
sticklack and the gum Cambouge or Cambodia, but there is no free commerce allowed there, without a licence
from the court of Cambodia.
The next place is Ponteamass, a place of pretty good trade for many years, having the conveniency of a
pretty deep but narrow river, which, in the rainy seasons of the South-west monsoons, has communication with
Bansack or Cambodia River, which conveniency made it draw foreign commerce from the city of Cambodia hither;
for the city lying near one hundred leagues up the river, and most part of the way a continual stream running
downward, made the navigation to the city so long and trouble-som, that few cared to trade to it, for which reasons
foreign commerce chose to come to Ponteamass, and it flourished pretty well till the year 1717, that the Siam fleet
When the Siam army and fleet threatned Cambodia, the king knew his inability to withstand the Siamers,
so the inhabitants that lived on his borders had orders to remove towards the city of Cambodia, and what they
could not bring with them, to destroy it, so that for fifty leagues the country was a mere desert. He then addrest the
king of Couchin-china for assistance and protection, which he obtained, on condition, that Cambodia should be-
come tributary to Couchin-china, which was agreed to, and he had an army of fifteen thousand to assist him by
land, and three thousand in nimble gallies well manned and equipt, by sea.
The Siam army by land was above double the number of the Cambodians and Couchin-chinese in conjunc-
tion, and their fleet above four times their number. The land army finding all the country desolate, as they marched
SBBR 4.2 (Autumn 2006) 1 1 9
into the borders of Cambodia, soon began to be in distress for want of provisions, which obliged them to kill their
carriage beasts, and their elephants and horses which they could get no sustenance for, and the soldiers being
obliged to eat their flesh, it being a diet they had never been used to, an epidemick flux and fever seized the whole
army, so that in two months one half was not left, and those were obliged to retreat towards their own country
again, with the Cambodian army always at their heels.
Nor had their navy much better success, for they coming to Ponteamass, sent in their small gallies to plun-
der and burn the town, which they did effectually, and, of elephants teeth only, they burnt above two hundred
tuns. The ships and jonks of burden lying in the road, above four miles from the town, the Couchin-chinese taking
hold of that opportunity, attackt the large vessels, and burned some, and forced others ashore, whilst their gallies
were in a narrow river, and could not come to their assistance till high-water that they could get out. The Couchin-
chinese having done what they came for, retired, not caring to engage such a superior number, and the Siamers
fearing famine in their fleet, steered their course for Siam with disgrace. In anno 1720, 1 saw several of the wracks,
and the ruins of the town of Ponteamass.
The City of Cambodia stands on the side of the great river, about fifty or sixty leagues from Ponteamass by
land, or by water in the South-west monsoons. The country produces gold of twenty one caracts fine, raw silk at 120
dollars per pecul, elephants teeth at fifty to fifty-five dollars for the largest. The small are of different prices. They
have also much sapan-wood, sandal-wood, agala-wood, sticklack, and many sorts of physical drugs, and lack for
Japaning. They are very desirous of having a trade with the English; but they will not suffer the Dutch to settle fac-
tories in their country provisions of flesh and fish are plentiful and cheap, and are the only things that may be
bought without a permit from the king. I have bought a bullock, that weighed between four and five hundred
weight, for a Spanish dollar; and rice is bought at eight pence per pecul, which is about 140 lb. but poultry are
scarce, because the country being for the most part woody, when the chickens grow big, they go to the woods, and
shift for themselves. Tigers and wild elephants are numerous in the woods, and there are also wild cattle and buffa-
loes, and plenty of deer, all which animals every body is free to catch or kill.
There are about two hundred Topasses, or Indian Portugueze settled and married in Cambodia, and some
of them have pretty good posts in the government, and live great after the fashion of that country; but they have no
priests, nor will any venture to go among them, for in anno 1710, a poor Capuchin went there to officiate, and find-
ing one of the toppingest of his congregation to have two wives, ordered him, by virtue of his sacerdotal power, to
put one of them away, but his parishioner would not obey in that point, which made the priest use the weapon of
excommunication against him, which the other took in such dudgeon, that he knockt his spiritual guide's brains
out for his unseasonable severity, since that time they wrote to Siam and Macao in China for some more ghostly
fathers, but not one will go, tho' perhaps they might have the honour of dying martyrs.
They all of them have small pensions from the king, but too narrow to maintain them, so they go to the
woods with firearms, and kill wild elephants for their teeth, which they sell to foreigners; and their way of killing
them, is very singular, for they form a piece of iron like a slug, and the foremost end is made sharp. In the woods
grow certain trees with a thick bark of a violent poisonous quality. They drive the sharp end of the slug into the
bark, and let it stay a short time in it, then put the slug into their gun charged with powder, and coming near the
beast, fire the slug into its body. The elephant being thus wounded, flees from the man, but the man keeps sight of
it for a small space of time, and then it drops down dead.
And with the same poisoned slugs they kill cattle and buffaloes, for their tongues. This subtil poison has
also another strange quality, that if men become hungry or thirsty, (as they often do in the woods) they squeeze a
few drops of it on a leaf of a tree, and they licking the leaf, it gives immediate refreshment; but if the skin be bro-
ken, and the juice touch the part, it proves mortal without remedy.
When I arrived at Ponteamass, an officer came on board, who could speak a little Portugueze. He brought a
present of refreshments along with him, and advised me to send to the king, to give him an account of my arrival,
and acquaint him that I designed to trade with his subjects by his permission, which I did, and in twelve days, re-
ceived an answer that I might, but desired me to send some person up with musters of my goods, that he and his
merchants might see them, and sent two Portugueze for interpreters, one to stay with me on board of my ship,
while I staid, and the other to accompany the person I designed to send to him with the musters. On their arrival I
dispatcht my second supercargo, with an equippage of twenty-five men, well armed with fuzees and bayonets,
with two small bales of musters, and presents for the king, with instructions to let me hear from him once a week
by an express, if no other opportunity offered.
After he arrived at the city, he had a large house allowed him for the accommodation of him and his reti-
nue, and had store of provisions sent him, and many folks of distinction visited him, but ten days past before he
120 SBBR 4.2 (Autumn 2006)
could see his majesty, who at last received him in great state, sitting on a throne like a pulpit, with his face vailed
below his eyes, and after many gracious speeches, some whereof were pertinent to my purpose, but many not, he
gave me liberty and encouragement to trade.
I had staid above three weeks in expectation to hear from my second supercargo, but could get no account
from him. I beginning to be uneasie, got an express to carry letters to him, and ordered him to send it back with as
much speed as was possible, but had the mortification to find he had been stopt at the city. I was extremely uneasie
for want of advice what was become of my people, and the approaching of the South-west monsoons, which
would have made that coast a lee-shore, and would have obliged me to take sanctuary in one of their harbours for
five or six months, and was not certain whether I was in a friend's or an enemy's country. In this labyrinth I contin-
ued a week, and at last resolved to depart by a certain day, and leave my people to come after me to Malacca, if
they were alive and at liberty. The goods I had sent up with them, would have been sufficient to have hired a vessel
to carry them thither. I told my resolution to my interpreter, and that I should be obliged to carry him and some
more of the king's Subjects along with me as hostages for the civil treatment of my people at Cambodia. He seemed
surprised at my resolution, and got a person to go to the city in all haste to give an account of my impatience and
design, who returned in fourteen days, about two days before my term was expired, that I had set for my depar-
ture. There accompanied him three Portugueze, who brought me letters from my second supercargo, that he had
taken leave of the king, and was coming to me with all haste, and in three days after the Portugueze came, he ar-
rived with all his retinue, with a letter of compliment to me in the Portugueze language, and one directed to the
Governor of Bombay, to invite the English to settle in his country, and to build factories or forts in any part of his
dominions to protect trade.
The reason why he kept us so long in suspence, was, that he would enter into no correspondence with us
without the knowledge and consent of his guardian the king of Couchin-china, who at last consented to allow us
commerce both in Cambodia, and in his own proper dominions, but that the Siamers had destroyed the country
where they had been, and they had nothing ready for barter with my cargo then, but in a year or two they would
When the king bestows his favour on any person whom he has a mind to honour, which he never does
without a considerable present, he presents the person with two swords to be carried always before him when he
goes abroad in publick, one is the sword of state, and the other of justice. All people that meet him when those
swords are carried before him, must give him place, and salute him by a set form of words, but if he meets with
another court minion, then they compare the dates of their patents, and segniority takes place, and must be first
saluted. Wherever those mandareens go in the country, they hold courts of justice, both civil and criminal, and they
have the power of laying on fines, but they are paid into the king's treasury; but in capital crimes, his sentence is
law, and speedy execution follows sentence.
The Cambodians are of a light brown complexion, and very well shaped, their hair long, and beards thin.
Their women are very handsom, but not very modest. The men wear a vestment like our night-gowns, but nothing
on their heads or feet. The women wear a petticoat reaching below the ancle, and on their bodies a frock made
close and meet for their bodies and arms, and both sexes dress their hair. I saw none of their priests, but under-
stood from my interpreter, that they worship the same gods that are adored in Siam. They worship the great god
under the name of Tipedah, and Praw Prumb, and Prow Pout, are his Sons. The church subsists by freewill-
offerings, and their Priests are not much respected, being generally chosen from among the lower sort of the laity.
The kingdom of Laos borders on Siam, Cambodia, Couchin-china, and Tonquin. It produces gold, raw silk, and
elephants teeth are so plentiful, that they stake their fields and gardens about with them., to keep out wild hogs
and cattle from destroying their fruit and corn. They are all pagans in religion.
The natives of Laos are whiter in complexion than their circumjacent neighbours. I saw some of them at
Siam, of both sexes. Their women were little inferior to Portugueze or Spanish ladies.
There are several islands that ly off the coast of Cambodia, but none are inhabited, because the Saleeters, or pirates
that infest that coast, rob them of what they get by pains and industry, tho' there is one about three leagues West of
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Ponteamass, called quadrol, that has good qualifications for a settlement. It is about three leagues long, and one
broad wood and fresh water are plentiful, the ground of a moderate height, the soil black and fat, except along the
East Side which faces Ponteamass, and that has several fine sandy bays, and they are good safe harbours in the
rainy and windy seasons.
About thirty leagues East-south-east from Ponteamass, is the west entrance of Cambodia River, generally
called Bocca de Carangera. The shallowest place in the chanel in going in, is four fathoms, and within it deepens to
twenty in some places. The North entrance is broader, but much shallower, and lies about ten leagues distant from
the west chanel, but is little frequented. Between Ponteamass and the river, are several small uninhabited islands.
Pullo-panjang is the largest, and consists of a cluster of eight islands, which form a pretty good harbour. Pullo-ubi
is the East most, and affords good masts for shipping.
Pullo-condore is the largest and highest, composed of four or five islands It lies about fifteen leagues South
of the West chanel of Cambodia River. Pullo-condore had once the honour of an English colony settled on it, by Mr.
Allan Ketchpole, in anno 1702, when the Factory of Chusan, on the Coast of China, was broke up, he being then
director for affairs of the English East-india Company in those parts.
He made a bad choice of a place for a colony, that island producing nothing but wood, water, and fish for
catching. He got some Maccassers to serve for soldiers, and help to build a fortification, and made a firm contract
with them to discharge them at the end of three years if they were minded to quit his Service, but did not perform
what was contracted, which was the cause of his own ruin, and the loss of the colony, for those Eastern despera-
does are very faithful where contracts and covenants are duly observed when made with them, but in defailiance,
they are revengeful and cruel. Mr. Ketchpole having detained the Maccassers beyond their time of agreement, still
entrusted them with the guard of his own person and the garison, and they taking the opportunity of the night,
when all the English were in their beds, who lodged in the fort, they inhumanely murdered them all. There was
some noise made by those who were awake, which a few who lodged without the fort, hearing, took the alarm,
and ran to the sea Side, where kind providence directed them to a boat ready fitted with oars and Sails, which they
embarked in, and put off from the shore, and were not a stone throw off, till the bloody villains on the shore were
in quest of them. So those in the boat, with much fatigue, hunger, and thirst in sailing, and rowing above one hun-
dred leagues, got to some place of the king of Johore's dominions, where they were treated with humanity. The
reverend and ingenious Doctor Pound, was one of those that escaped, and Mr. Solomon Lloyd (an old acquain-
tance of mine) was another.
There were two harbours, or anchoring places, at Pullo-condore, but neither of them good. One at the
North-east end, they were forced to use in the South-west monsoons, the other on the West-side for the North-east
winds, the bottom of which is rocky, and therefore dangerous for losing anchors and cables, yet that was the place
chosen to build their fort on, but since a factory was thought necessary to be settled on that coast, I wonder why
they chose these islands, rather than Quadrole which I mentioned before.
The city of Cambodia is reckoned to ly one hundred leagues up from the bar, and the river filled with low
islands and sand banks. The country of Laos is about forty leagues farther up, but what navigation is used above
the city of Cambodia, is done by small rowing vessels, and the river being one of the longest in the world, employs
great numbers of those rowing boats.
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