Skip to main content

Full text of "Burmah and the Burmese [microform] : in two books"

See other formats



IPROFES^OH C.A. X^F^inl l 

1 5; 



In fcap. 8vo, price Two Shillings each, boards, or in cloth g It, 23. 6d. 

Harrv Ogilvie. 
Frank IIiltox. 
Yellow Frigate (The). 
Romance ov War (The). 
Scottish Cavalier (The). 

Jane Seton. 
Philip Rollo. 
Adventures op 
Camp (The). 


•* The author of the ' Romance of War ' deserves the popularity which has made 
him, perhaps, the most read of living novelists. His tales are full of life and 
action, and his soldier spirit and turn for adventure carry him successfully through, 
with a skill in narrative which even the author of ' Charles O'Malley' seldom 


In fcap. 8vo, price Eighteenpence each, boards. 

Newton Forster. 
Dog Fiend (Thei. 
Valerie. (Edited.) 
Poacher (The). 
Phantom Ship (The). 
Pjercival Keene. 

Peter Simple. 

Midshipman Easy (Mr.). 

Kino's Own (The). 

Rattlin the Reefer. (Edited) 

Jacob Faithful. 

Japhkt in Search of a Father. 

Pacha of Many Tales (The). 

" Marryat's works abound in humour — real, unaffected, buoyant, overflowing 
humour. Many bits of his writings strongly remind us of Dickens. He is an in- 
corrigible joker, and frequently relates such strange anecdotes and adventures, that 
the gloomiest hypochondriac could not read them without involuntarily indulging 
in the unwonted luxury of a hearty cachinnation." — Dublin Vniversitu Magazine. 


In fcap. 8vo, price One Shilling each, boards. 
Miser's Daughter (The). I Saint James's. 

Windsor Castle. I James II. (Edited by.) 

Also, uniform. 
Price \a. Gd., boards. Price 2j. each, boards. 

Tower op London (The). 
Lancashire Witches (Thet. 



Guy Fawkks. 

Flitch of Bacon (TheK 

" A cheap Edition of Mr. Ainsworth's Novels is now being published, and that 
fact we doubt not will enable thousands to possess what thousands have before 
been only able to admire and covet." 


In fcap. 8vo, price Eighteenpence each, boards, or in cloth, 2*. 

Last of the Mohicans (The). 

Spy (The). 

Lionel Lincoln. 

Pilot (The). 

Pioneers (The). 

Sea Lions (The). 

Borderers, or Heathcotcs (The). 

Bravo (Thei. 

Homeward Bound. 

Afloat and Ashore. 



Mark's Reef. 

"Cooper constructs enthralling stories, which hold us in breathless suspense, 
and make our brows alternately pallid with awe and terror, or flushed with 
powerful cmotirin : when once taKen up, they are so fascinatirg, that we must per- 
force read on from beginning to end, panting to arrive at the thrilling denoue- 
ment." — Dublin Vnivernity Magazine, 

Deerslayer (The). 
Oak Openings (The). 
Pathfinder (The). 
Headsman (The). 
Water Witch (The). 
Two Admirals iThe) 
Miles Wallingford. 
Red Rover (The). 
F]vE Effingham. 
Heidenmauer (The). 



In fcap. 8vo, price Two Shillings each, boanU, or 2';. Gd. cloth gilt, 
ADVENTruESOP Mr. Ledbury (The). I SrATXERGooD Family (The). 
Christopher Tadtole. | Pottletox Legacv (The'. 

And price Eigliteonpcncr, boards, 
Thk Marchioxess of Bri.vvilliers; the Poisoner of the 17th Century. 
" Albert Smith's nainc, as the author of any work, is quite sufficient to prove 
that it is ail interesting one, and one that can be read with pleasure by every one." 


In feap. 8vo, price Is. boards, In fcap. 8vo, price 2?. l)oarils, 

The Roving E.vglishman; or, I Turkey, by the Roving' Englishman; 

Sketches on the Continent. | being Sketches from Life. 

" Who is unfamiliar with those brilliant sketches of naval, particularly the pic- 
tures of Turkish, life and manners, from the pen of the ' Roving Enulishman,' 
and who does not hail their collection into a companionable size volume with 


In fcap. 8vo, price 2.?. boards, 
Arthur O'Leary's Adventures. 

In post 8vo, price 3s. 6d. cloth, 
Co.N Cregan's Adventures. 

" We would rather be the author of ' Charles O'Malley,' and ' Harry Lorrequer,' 
than hundreds of ' Pickwick Papers,' and • Nicholas Nicklebys.'"— si'a«(iard. 


In feap. 8vo, price Two Shillings each volume, boards, or in cloth, 2.)'. Gd. 
Ferdinand and Isabella. 2 Vols. I Conquest of Mexico (The). 2 Vols. 
Conqikst O!- Peru. 2 Vols. Charles the Fifth. 2 Vols. 

Philip II., History of (The). 2 Vols. | 

Biographical and Critical Essays; reininted from the genuine American 
Edition, with all the Notes, &c. 1 Vol. 

" Preseott's works, in point of style, rank with the ablest English historians, 
and paragraphs m.ny be found in which the grace and elegance of Addison are 
oomUined witli Robertson's cadence and Gibbon's brilliancy." — Athenccum. 


In fcap. 8vo, price Is. Gd. each, boards. 
Light and Darkness. 
Lilly Dawson. 

In fcap. 8vo, price '2s. each, boards, 
Susan Hoplev. 
Night Side of Nature (The). 

" Mrs. Crowe has a clearness and plain force of style, and a power in giving 
reality to a scene, by accumulating a number of minute details, that reminds us 
forcibly of Defoe." — Aberdeen Baivicr. 


In t"cap. 8vo, price Eighteenpence each, boards, or in cloth, 2*. 

Self; or, the Narrow, Narrow 

Money Lender (The). 
" Mrs. Gore is one of the most popular writers of the d.iy ; her works are all 
pictures of existing life and manners." 

Heir of Selwood (The). 
Dowager (The), 
Pin Mo.ney. 






hi Cluo 53oofe£5. 



Editor of " Lepsius's Discoveries in Egtfpt and Ethiovia.'* 





OPY ADDED ' ' ^ 

)R1G^NALT0BE ^^ 

^2 4«a^ 





In offering tlie foUo"0'ing historical and social account 
of Burmese policy and importance, it may be permitted 
me to make a few remarks on the subject of the war now 
proceeding in that country. 

Unfortunate as any war always is, and must be, yet in 
contending with an unprincipled and tyrannical govern- 
ment like that of Burmah, there is a grain of satisfaction 
in knowing that we thereby shake the despotic thrones of 
the East, and thus add something to the cause of liberty 
and peace. Such, too, is the only advantage of a conten- 
tion with the king of Ava. If we cannot liumanizc by fair 
means, — of course, under fair means I do not intend to 
comprehend many of the so-called missionary labours, 
which cause more harm in a short while than all diplomatic 
fiddling will do in the course of years, — we must, vl et 
armix, carry civilisation into the country, and openly defy 
the custom-house of tyranny. The two courses to be 
adopted with respect to Burmah seem to be these ; — the 
one is to erect the Pegu province into a kingdom ; the 
other, to annex the country ourselves, placing it under 
Anglo-Indian rule ; and I cannot help believing that any 
fair investigation of the subject will produce the above 
conviction ; but time and the diplomatists must decide on 
the precise course. 

For the cause of religious truth and civil liberty, it is to 


be hoped that the missionary system at present pursued 
may be altered ; for the sake of peace, it is to be hoped 
that the utmost caution will be pursued in framing laws 
for these countries, wliieh must at last, in some way, 
become allies or tributaries of the imperial crown of 
Great Britain. 

It will be seen in the following pages, where I hare 
endeavoured to indicate rather than enlarge upon the 
social condition of the Burmese, that they have many 
admirable customs ; that they are industrious ; that their 
moral propensities are as yet undefiled ; and that their 
country presents a fine field for the development both of 
commercial and agricultural interests. Now, when even 
the colonies in the south are overstocked, or rather crowded 
vrith persons not capable, as a general rule, of occupying 
a responsible condition m life, there is a necessity for a 
new and yet old place. In Burmah we have it. Under 
the rule of an independent sovereign, Pegu would form a 
fine place, where our vessels could lie ; and the teak of the 
country would make Bassein and Hangoon of great im- 
portance to our shipping interests. If Burmah should be 
incorporated with our own dominions, why, then at least 
the same degree of elevation in the intellectual world 
would be obtained, as in Hindustan, or in Siam, where, 
ns JS'eale informs us, the king reads " Pickwick" in 
English, and enjoys it. 

In some respects the following character of the English, 
drawn by the Burmese themselves, is so just, that I shall 
hardly be wrong in submitting it to the reader : — 

" The English are the inhabitants of a small and remote 
island : what business have they to come in ships from so 
great a distance to dethrone kings, and take possession of 
countries they have no right toP They contrive to conquer 
and govern the black foreigners, the people of castes, who 
have puny frames and no courage : they have never yet 


fouglit with so strong and brave a people as the Burmas^ 
skilled in the use of the sword and spear. If they once 
fight with us, and we have an opportunity of manifesting 
our bravery, it will be an example to the black nations, 
which are now slaves to the English, and will encourage 
them to throw off the yoke."(l) 

The fact is, that the English never had any business in 
India, and their only title to it now consists in their long 
possession and occupation of the territory. The world 
has forgotten that, or overlooked it from the first. The 
nation is brave and intelligent, but hasty and inconsiderate, 
and so blind is it when excited, that, at such time, like 
Captain Absolute, it could cut its own throat, " or any 
other person's, with the greatest pleasure in the world." 

I trust this little work may serve as a guide to the 
many valuable and interesting volumes to which I have 
been indebted, and that the reader may not count the 
hours spent in its perusal lost. My literary engagements 
have somewhat hurried the close, but nothing of im- 
portance has been omitted ; indeed, by the kindness of 
several friends, I have been able, here and there, to add 
new illustrations and comments. 


(!) Judson, in Documents, pp. 223, 22l>. 





Geographical sketch — Character of the country — Climate — The 
river Irawadi — The Petroleum Welh — The Salueu, &c. — Forests — 
Plants — Minerals — Animals — Races of Burraah — Character of the 
Burmese nation 1 


The King absolute — Instances of despotism — Titles— Forms of 
government — Offices — The Law Courts — Theiriniquity — Instances 
— The Book of the Oath epitomized — The oath — Laws — Police- 
Revenues — Petroleum — Family-tax— Imports and exports — Ex- 
actions — Army — Equipments — Cowardice — March — The Invul- 
nerables — Discipline — Military character — White elephants — De- 
scription of an early traveller — Its high estimation — Treatment — 
Funeral 16 


Cosmography — The Burman hells — Definition of a Nat, by 
Hesiod — Buddha — Gaudama — His probable history — Buddhism 
— Priests — Temples — Curious cave near Prome — Monasteries — 
Ceremonies — Funeral — Concluding remarks 45 


Language — Literature — Manuscripts — The Aporazabon — Su- 
perstitions — Divination — The Deitton — Astronomy — Division of 
time 60 



Currency — Weights — Commerce — Ports — Teak-\vood — Houses 
— Tanks — Dress — Food — Marriages — Child-birth — Funerals — 
j^rts — Slavery — The Drama — Chess — Games — Music — Fire- 
works 81 


Ancient history — Pegu — Character of the Burmese — Con- 
•cluding reflections '• 99 

BOOK 11. 



1G87— 17G0. i 

Alompra, the liberator of Burmah 108 I 


Anaundopra — Zempiuscien— Chenguza— Paongoza— Menta- 
ra-gyee ^^'^ 


British intercourse with Ava— Alves's mission— Symes's mis- 
sion — Canning— King Nun-Sun— Rise of the Burman war— Its 
origin in official aggression — Evacuation of Cachar 145 



Bundoola— Retreat of Captain Noton — Defeat at Ramoo — 
Repulse of the Burmans — Burmese nrcount of the war— Rangoon 
expedition— Description of Rangoon 156 




Arrival at Rangoon — Taking of that town — Position of the 
troops — State of the neighbourhood — Confidence of the king of 
Ava — Attack of Loazong — Burmese embassy — Capture of Kemen- 
dine — Reinforcements from ^Madras — Sickness of the army — 
Endurance of the British soldier 161) 



Encounters with the Burmese — Capture of Kummeroot — Taking 
of Syriam — Storming of Dalla — Conquest of Tenaaserim province 
— The Invulnerables 181 



Battle of Kykloo — Thantabain — Maha Bundoola — Successes of 
the British — Discomfiture of Maha Bundoola — Campbell marches 
into the interior — Arrival at Donabew — Repulse — Death of Bun- 
doola — Capture of Donabew 189 



Arrival at Prome — Prome under English nile — Re-assembly of 
the Burmese army — Negotiations for peace— Battle of Meaday — 
McUoon — Yandabo — Treaty of peace 197 








Geographical sketch — Character of the country — Climate — The river 
Irawadi— The Petroleum wells — The Salneii, ^c. — Forests — Plants — 
Minerals — Animals — Races of Burmah — Character of the Burmese 

Before tlie war in 1821, 1825, and 1820, tlic empire of 
Burmali -was tlie most considerable amonf^ those of tlie 
Indo-Cliinese nations inliabilini^ the farther penmsula of 
India. Previous to the events of that campaign it com- 
prehended the whole of the extensive region lying be- 
tween the latitudes 9' and 27° N. At present, however, 
its limits are lat. \iV and 27° or 28° N., and long. 93'^ and 
99^ E. Its nortlieru boundnry is, even at th(i })resent day, 
imperfectly known ; and we are in still greater uncer- 
tainty concerniug the frontier to the east, in Upper Laos, 
partly subject to the king of Ava or Burmah. Berghaus 
is probably the most correct in following Sir Francis 
Hamilton, (1) who has done far more for the geography of 
these countries than any one else, and extending it to 
100'-' E. long., about the parallel of 22° N. It is bounded 

(1) Or Dr. l^uelianan. Sec lus pai)cr n\ tliQ Edinburgh Philosophical 
Journfti, vol. ii. j). t)<j 6(|(^, 


on tl'C MCF.t ^y Iht; Biillsh provinces of Arakhan, Cassay, 
and Oiiittagong ; io ilie nortli, by a portion of Assam and 
Thibet ; to the north-east it has the Chinese province of 
Yunan ; to the east, the independent Laos country and 
the Britisli territorA' of Martaban ; and to the south it has 
the kingdom of Siam and the Indian Ocean. 

Taken in its most extensive sense, that is, including all 
the countries subject to Burman influence, its area may 
contain 194,(X)0 square miles. The population is probably 
about 4,()<)0,00(). Tlie climate of a country comprehending 
such a vast extent of temtory, cannot fail to exhibit much 
variety, and topographical circum^ inc( s cannot fail to 
produce a still greater difference. But notwithstanding 
that the southern levels at the mouth of the Irawadi 
are swampy, yet the climate is not, even there, insalubrious, 
while farther north it is very similar to that of Hindostan. 
Col. Symes, to whose excellent, though somewhat over- 
charged narrative, we shall have ample occasion to refer, 
insists upon the salubrity of the climate in very strong 
terms indeed. The aspect of the country is low and 
champaign up to the full latitude o*f 17>°N. ; but from thence 
to the 22^ it assumes a hilly aspect, and beyond that it 
rises into mountains. Burmah is inclosed on the east 
and west by two branch ranges of the Himalaya ; other 
ranges run down, in general, from north to south, gra- 
dually decreasing in height toward the south. 

The upper portion of Burmah is mountainous. The 
scenery is among the most beautiful in the world. Plains 
and mountains, lovely valle3-s and gaping chasms, present 
themselves to the wondering eye of the traveller. JN^ow 
there is a space of level ground, covered witli straggling 
underwood ; plants trail along tlie eartli, the high dis- 
orderly grass of the jungle waves, and the wild stunted 
trees stretch their deformed limbs toward heaven, as if to 
pray that the hand of civilised man might at length re- 
lieve them. The waving grass is gone, and we are again 
amid the mountains, clothed with majestic trees, arching 
gloriously over the weary traveller's head, and concealing 
from his view llie wild animals that house there. Such is 
the greater part of Burmah, thus uninhabited and neg- 
lected; such the condition of a region belonging to an 
unenergetic people ; and such it vn\l remain, until the 
nations can recognise the vast wealth that the gorges and 
abysses of the mountains contain, llich and unexhausted 

1. 1.] lEAWADI lilVEE. 3 

is the land ; but tkc race that shall gather its treasures, 
and turn its wild|wastes into populous cities, is not, and 
will never be, that of the Burman ! 

The coasts and rivers are well studded with towns and 
villa<2;es, and the busy hum of the healthy labourers is 
heard everywhere. Yet there is a blank place in the 
maps for many portions still. No European voice has 
listened in the wildernesses of the Naga tribes, or in those 
of the Murroos. The land whence the human race first 
came is now left silent. 

In tlie maritime portions of the country the year has 
two seasons, — the dry and the wet. The latter always 
begins about the tenth of May, with showers gradually 
growing more frequent, for several weeks. It afterwards 
rains almost daily until about the middle of September, 
"svhen it as gradually goes off, and in the course of a 
month entirely ceases. During this time from one hun- 
dred and fifty to two hundred inches of water fall. This 
is the only time when the country is unhealthy for 
foreigners, and even then, there are many places where 
persons may reside with impunity. In other parts of the 
country there are three seasons. In the highest and 
wildest provinces there are severe winters. 

Amidst these mountain-passes rises the great and 
sacred river Irawadi, named from the elephant of Indra, 
which, like the stream of history, flows down from amidst 
obscurity and uncertainty. The sources of the Irawadi are 
yet undiscovered ; but Lieutenant AVilcox, who explored a 
considerable portion of Burmah, was informed, that they 
were not far distant from that " of the Burampooter, or 
Brahmapootra. It has a course of more than twelve hun- 
dred miles to the sea ; and passing through the whole of the 
empire, it falls into the Gulf of Martaban, by a great num- 
ber of mouths, in the kingdom of Pegu. Its breadth varies 
from one to three, and even five miles in various parts 
of its course. How different from its narrowest width of 
eighty 5'ards, at about forty miles from its supposed source. 

The river issues from the mountains, and enters an 
extensive valle}', occupied by the tribes of the Khun- 
oongs. At this early point of its course, the country 
is jjcrfectly level, and is partly cultivated, while the 
remainder is studded with small woods of bamboo. The 
Irawadi is little more than eighty yards broad at the 
town of Manchec, and is quite fordable. The plain of 

B 2 


Manclico Is 1,S55 feet above the level of the sea. After 
passing through this plain, it runs through countries very 
little known to Europeans, for about 120 miles. Kugged 
mountain-chains here form the banks of the river, some- 
times diversified by a plain of some extent. 

Eamoo is the first place of consequence on the river 
after Manchee, and is about 350 miles distant from the 
latter town. The level of the river falls 1,300 feet between 
the two places. At some distance from 13amoo, near a 
village called Kauntoun, the river suddenly turns west- 
wards but soon runs south-west again. A little above 
Hentha it takes a direction due south, so continuing to 
Amarapura. From Bamoo to Amarapura the country is 
only navigable for small boats. 

" With the change of the river the face of the country 
is changed. Issuing from the narrow valley, it enters a 
very wide one, or rather a plain. Along its banks, and 
especially on the southern side, the level country extends 
for many miles, in some places even to thirty, and even 
then is not bounded by high mountains, but b}^ moderate 
hills, which increase in height as they recede farther from 
the river. Considerable portions of these plains are covered 
by the inundations of the river in the wet season. On the 
north side of the river the hills are at no great distance 
from the banks, and here the ground is impregnated with 
muriate of soda, and with nitre, of which great quantities 
arc extracted." (1) 

The Irawadi now rolls its majestic floods towards the 
ocean, and receives an accession in the confluence of the 
Kyan Duayn, a river which first receives that name near 
the Danghii hills ; it then continues its course, and arrives 
at the former boundary of the kingdoms of Ava and Pegu, 
the promontory of Kyaok-ta-rau. 

" The valley of the Irawadi, south of its confluence 
with the Kyan Duayn, to the town of Melloon (south of 
20"^ N. lat.), is, in its general aspect, hilly and very uneven ; 
but the hills rise to no great height, at least not near 
the river, and are in many places separated by tracts of 
flat country, which in some places are extensive and well 
eiiltivated. South of Melloon the hills approach nearer 
tlio river, and often form its banks. They arc in most 
places covered with forest trees cf considerable size ; amon<; 

(n Penny Cyclop^Uja, vol, iv. p. 130 t^. 


M liicli ioak-trees are frcqmnit. Cultivation is confined to 
llie narrow Hat tracts wliicli licre and there separate tlie 
liills from the river." (1) 

In this neighbourhood are situated the famous Petro- 
leum wells, at a village called Ho-nau-khaung, from three 
to four miles from the river. Colonel Symes did not visit 
the intercstinn- spot at that time, but he has given us an 
excellent idea of the locality, by his brief but vigorous 
sketch : — 

" The country," he tells us,(2)" now displayed an aspect 
different from any we had yet seen ; the siu'face was 
broken into small separate hills, entirely barren and desti- 
tute of vegetation, except some stunted bushes that grew 
on the declivities, and in the dells, and a few unhealthy 
trees immediately in the neighbourhood of the villages : 
the clay was discoloured, and had the appearance of red 
ochre. We were informed, that the celebrated wells of 
petroleum, which supply the whole empire, and many 
parts of India, with that useful product, were five miles 
to the east of this place. The Seree brought me a piece 
of stone, which he assured me was petrified wood, and 
wliich c^^rtainly had much the appearance of it. In walk- 
ing about, I picked up several lumps of the same, in 
which the grain of the wood was plainly discernible ; it 
was hard, siliceous, and seemed composed of different 
lamina. The Birmans said it was the nature of the soil 
that caused this transmutation ; and added, that the petri- 
fying quality of the earth at this place was such, that 
leaves of trees shaken off by the wind were not unfre- 
quently changed into stone before they could be decayed 
by time. The face of the country was altered and the 
banks of the river were totally barren ; the ground was 
superficially covered with quartz gravel, and concreted 
masses of the same material were thickly scattered. The 
mouth of the creek was crowded with large boats, waiting 
to receive a lading of oil ; and immense pyramids of 
earthen jars were raised within and arflund the village, 
disposed in the same manner as shot and shells are pih*d 
iu an arsenal. This place is inhabited only by potters, 
who cany on an extensive manufactory, and liiid I'ull em- 
ployment. The smell of the oil was extremely offensive ; 
we saw several thousand jars filled with it ranged along 

(1) Penny Cycloprcdia, vol. iv. ]). 1:17. 

(2) Embassy to Avu, vol. ii. p. -il,! sq. 


the bank ; some of tlicso were continually breakino^, and 
the contents, mingling with the sand, formed a very filthy 

On the colonel's return, hoTvever, he and Dr. Buchanan 
rode over to the wells ; and their account of their visit 
is too interesting to be omitted here :(1) — 

"The face of the country was cheerless and sterile ; the 
road, which wound among rocky eminences, was barely 
wide enough to admit the passage of a single cart ; and in 
many places the track in which the wheels must run was 
a foot and a half lower on one side than the other : there 
were several of these lanes, some more circuitous than 
others, according to the situation of the small hdls among 
which they led. Vehicles, going and returning, were thus 
enabled to pursue different routes, except at particular 
places where the nature of the ground would only admit 
of one road : when a cart came to the entrance of such a 
defile, the driver hallooed out, to stop any that might 
interfere with him from the opposite side, no part being 
sufficiently wide for two carts to pass. The hills, or rather 
hillocks, were covered with gravel, and yielded no other 
vegetation than a few stunted bushes. The wheels had 
worn ruts deep into the rock, which seemed to be rather 
a mass of concreted gravel than hard stone, and many 
pieces of petrified Avood lay strewed about. It is remark- 
able, that wherever these petrifactions were found the soil 
was unproductive, and the ground destitute of A'erdure. 
The evening being far advanced, we met but few carts ; 
those which we did observe, were drawn each by a pair 
of oxen, of a length disproportionate to the breadth, to 
allow space for the earthen pots that contained the oil. 
It was a matter of surprise to us how they could convey 
such brittle ware, with any degree of safety, over so rug- 
ged a road : each pot was packed in a sepai'ate basket and 
laid on straw ; notwithstanduig which precaution, the 
ground all the way was strewed with the fragments of the 
vessels, and wet with oil ; for no care can prevent the frac- 
ture of some in every journey. As we approached the 
pits, which were more distant than we had imagined, the 
country became less uneven, and the soil produced herb- 
age : it was nearly dark when we reached them, and the 
labourers had retired from work. There seemed to be a 

(1) Embassy to Ava, vol. iii. p. 233 sq. 


orreat many pits within a small compass : walking to the 
nearest, we found the aperture about foiu* feet sqiiare, and 
the sides, as far as we could see down, were lined with tim- 
ber ; the oil is drawn up in an ii'on pot, fastened to a rope 
passed over a wooden cylinder which revolves on an axis 
supported by two upright posts. When the pot is filled, 
two men take the rope by the end, and rim down a decli- 
vity, which is cut in the ground to a distance equivalent 
to the depth of the weU : thus, when they reach the end 
of the track the pot is raised to its proper elevation ; the 
contents, water and oil together, are then discharged into 
a cistern, and the water is afterwards drawn off through a 
hole in the bottom." 

It is impossible to read this, without stopping to smile 
at the backwardness of the people, who, having invented 
all the machinery for a well, should still remain at that 
distance from the application of this discovery, as to resort 
to such a complicated and cumbersome arrangement, as 
cutting a trackway equal in length to the depth of the 
well ! How easy to have applied the winch and coiled the 
rope, as other nations as far back in civilisation have done, 
in the way with which we are acquainted ! But it is such 
little hitches that impede a nation's progress ! (1) But to 
continue the narrative of the envoy. 

" Our guide, an active, intelligent man, went to a neigh- 
bouring house and procured a well-rope, by means of which 
we were enabled to measure the depth, and ascertained it 
to be thirty-seven fathoms ; but of the quantity of oil at 
the bottom we could not judge. The owner of the rope, 
who followed our guide, affirmed, that when a pit yielded 
as much as came up to the waist of a man, it was deemed 
tolerably productive ; if it reached to his neck, it was abun- 
dant ; but that which rose no higher than the knee was 
accounted indifferent. When a well is exhausted, they re- 
store the spring by cutting deeper into the rock, which is 
extremely hard in those places where the oil is produced. 
Government farms out the ground that supplies this useful 
commodity; and it is again let to adventurers, who dig wells 
at their own hazard, by which they sometimes gain and often 
lose, as the labour and expense of digging are considerable. 
The oil is sold on the spot for a mere trifle ; I think two 
or three hundred pots for a tackal, or half a crown. The 

(I) Near Amarapura, however, Symes obsen'Cd a man in a plantation 
using a wheel to a well. See Ixis Ava, vol. ii. p. 87, small edition. 


principal cliarj^o is incurred by llio transportation and 
purchase of vessels. We had but half gratified our 
curiosity, when it grew dark, and our guide urged us not 
to remain any longer, as the road was said to be infested 
by tigers, that prowled at niglit among the rocky unin- 
habited ways through wliich we had to pass. We fol- 
lowed his advice, and returned, with greater risk, as I 
thought, of breaking our necks from the badness of the 
road than of being devoured by wild beasts. At ten 
o'clock we reached our boats without any misadventure." 

Captain Hiram Cox, the British resident at Eangoon in 
179(5-7, describes the town of Ile-nau-kh5^aung, or as he 
spells it, Ramanghong, meaning the ioicn throuffh wliich 
jiows a river of earth-oil, as " of mean appearance ; and 
several of its temples, of wliich there are great numbers, 
falling to ruins ; the inhabitants, however," he continues, 
*' are well dressed, many of them with golden spiral ear 
ornaments. "(1) Altogether the town or village, and its 
environs, are as bleak as bleak can be, if we may trust the 
description. We shall hereafter return to the considera- 
tion of the Petroleum trade as a source of revenue to the 

The most important place about this portion of the 
course of the Irawadi is Prome, a city which we shall here- 
after have to mention as one of those celebrated in the 
ancient history of the country ; we will therefore omit 
further notice of it here. Exclusive of the Delta of the 
Irawadi, to which we must now turn our attention, there 
is very little low land in the Burman territory. Like the 
Delta of the Nile it is exceedingly fruitful, and it produces 
abundant crops of rice. It is, too, the commercial highway 
of the laud. 

Malcom, who travelled in the country, expresses his 
astonishment at the number of boats ever passing up and 
down the river. It would seem that the navigation is 
very tedious; for, according to the same traveller, the boats 
are genc^'ally from three to four months ascending from 
the Delta to the city of Ava.(2) 

The Irawadi finally embouches into the Bay of Bengal 
by several mouths, of which the chief are, the Bassein 
river, the Dallah, the Chinabuckecr, and the Eangoou or 
Syriam river. 

(P Asiatic Researches, vol. vi. p. 127 sq. 

(2) Malcom, Travels in South-Eastcru Asia, vol. i. p. oG sq. 

I. 1.] niYEES OF 9 

Tlio Sahion or INTartaban river rises in llie same range 
of mountain wlience the Biirampooter, the Irawach, and 
the great Knniboja rivers originate. In tlic early part of 
its course, it is named Nou-Kiang by the Chinese, through 
whose territory it at first flows. It disembogues into the 
Gulf of Poolooghoon opposite the island of that name. 

The Kyan Duayn is a river which, rising near the sources 
of the Irawadi, traverses the Kubo valley, and falls into 
that river in lat. 21° 35' N., long. 95° 10' E. ; forming several 
islands at the junction. The principal of these is Alakyun. 

The river Setang makes a grand appearance, as Malcom 
says, upon the map, still it is of little use, as its depth is 
only four feet, though at diflerent places it has a depth of 
from ten to fifteen feet. It must at one time have been 
deeper and navigable, for the ancient capital of Tongho, 
in the kingdom of that name, is built upon it. There is a 
bore of three feet on the Setang. The other rivers of 
Burmah are of little consequence. There are but few 
lakes, and the most considerable will be noticed hereafter. 

The fruits of Burmah are very varied in their character, 
and though they surpass their neighboui's in the article of 
timber, yet the fruit-trees are far inferior. A very complete 
list is given in Malcom's comprehensive work, to which I 
must refer the reader. (1) The teak forests, whose produce 
forms no inconsiderable article in Burmese commerce, are 
situated in the province of Sarawadi, in the hilly mountain- 
ous district east and north-east of Bangoon, The forests 
in this part of Asia, like the woody and uncultivated parts 
of Hindostan, are extremely pestiferous, and even though 
the wood-cutters be a hardy and active race of men, on 
■whom climate and suffering would seem to have little 
efl'ect, yet they never attain to any considerable age, and 
are very short-lived. 

Dr. Wallich, on his visit to Burmah in 1820, collected 
specimens of upwards of sixteen thousand difl'erent sorts 
of trees and plants. I need only refer the reader to his 
learned and magnificent work for a description and classi- 
fication of them. 

The mineral riches of the land, whicli are considerable, 
are not sufficiently attended to. The head-waters of the 
vai'ious rivers contain gold-dust, and from Bamoo, on the 
frontier of China, much gold has been obtained. Malcom 

(1) Malcom, vol. i. p. 173 sqq. ; and Wallicli, Planta Itariures, SiC. 

10 MINES. [I. 1. 

suggests tliat want of enterprise and capital lias alone pre- 
vented these sources of prosperity from being worked. 
Yes, it has been that curse ! From the earliest ages they 
liave laboured under it, and time seems not to have taught 
them the important lesson that all the world beside are 
learning and repeating every day, — the necessity of pro- 
gress. Much of their gold is drawn from China, and their 
love for using it in gilding edifices resembles the taste 
of the Incas, who, richer in tlie metal, plated their temples 
with gold.(l) What is not used for this purpose is em- 
ployed in the setting of the jewels of tlie great, and as 
in Peru, remains in the hands of the Inca lords. It is 
rarely used as currency, and then in ingots. 

Notwithstanding that there is much, silver elsewhere, 
the only mines worked are in Laos, and there even the 
mines are not wrought by the Burmese, but by natives of 
China and Laos, to the number of about a thousand, Tlie 
estimated produce does not seem large, amounting annually 
to only one hundred thousand pounds, on which the con- 
tractors pay a tax of five thousand pounds. 

The diamonds are all small, and emeralds are wanting. 
Hubics are found in great quantities, however, at about 
five days' journey from Ava, near the villages of Mo-gout 
and Kyat-pyen. Malcom saw one for which the owner 
asked no less than four pounds of pure gold. The king is 
reported to have some which weigh from one hundred and 
twenty to one himdred and fifty grains. Sapphires, too, 
abound. " Some hare been obtained," Malcom assures 
us, " weighing from three thousand to nearly four thou- 
sand grains." (2) Many other precious stones are to be foimd 
in this wealthy country. Much amber is found round the 
Hu-kong valley, on the Assam frontier. Iron, tin, lead, 
and many of those staples of commerce which form the 
real wealth and resources of every countr)^ abound, and 
coal is to be found in the inland provinces, (13) Marble, 
and of the finest, also exists in the land ; better than which 
there would seem to be none in the world. AVliat might 
such a country be in the hands of an energetic and intel- 
ligent people ! , 

(1) Prescott's Conquest of Peru, vol. ii. p. 101-3, 

(2) Malcom, vol. i. j). Ifi;. 

(3) See Journal of the Asiatic Society of Beng'al. vol. iv, p. 704, On 
the Further Discovery of Coalbeds in As.sani, by Capt. F. .Fenkins; also 
vol. viii, p, 385. The existence of coal has, however, been disputed. 


I subjoin a translation of a description of the mines of 
precious stones in Kyat-p5''en, from tlio orisjinal of Pere 
Giuseppe d'Amato.(l) It gives a clearer and conciser 
account of tlie mines than I can meet with elsewhere, and 
I therefore offer it to the reader in an abridged form. 

" The territory of Kyat-pyen [written Chia-ppien by 
d'ilmato] is situated to the east, and a little to the south 
of the town of Mon-tha (lat. 22° 16' N.), distant about 
seventy miles. It is surrounded by nine mountains. The 
soil is uneven and full of marshes, forming seventeen 
small lakes, each having a particular name. It is this soil 
which is so rich in mineral treasures. It shoiJd be 
noticed, however, that the dry ground alone is mined. 
The miners dig square wells, supporting the sides with 
piles and cross-pieces. These wells are sunk to the depth 
of fifteen or twenty cubits. When it is secure, the miner 
descends with a basket, which he fills with loose earth, 
the basket is drawn up, and the jewels are picked out and 
washed in the brooks in the neighbouring hills. They 
continue working the wells laterally till two meet, when 
the place is abandoned. There are very few accidents. 
•The precious stones that are found there consist of rubies, 
sapphires, topazes, and other crystals. Many fabidous 
stories are related concerning the origin of the mines at 
Kyat-pyen." An anecdote was told Amato, as he says, 
" by a person of the highest credit," of two masses {amas) 
of rubies at Kyat-pyen. One weighed eighty viss. (2) 
"When the people were taking them to Ava to the king, 
a party of robbers attacked the convoy, and made off with 
the smaller one ; the other, injured by fire, was brought 
to Ava. 

The animals of the country arc very numerous. The 
domestic quadrupeds of the Burmans are the ox, the 
buffalo, the horse, and the elephant. The two first arc 
very much used throughout the country. They are both 
of a very good species, and generally well kept. The ox 
is to them an expensive animal, as their religion forbids 
its use as food, and they have, therefore, no profitable 
manner of disposing of the disabled cattle. This, probably, 
led to the taming of the buffalo, an animal which has been 
in use among them from time immemorial. It is less 

(1) Jounial of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol. ii. p. 7a sq. 

(2) The viss is equal to 3i pounds. The Burmese word is peik-tha. 

13 ANIMALS. ^ [I. 1. 

expensive to roar, and is contcntcJ with coarser food. 
But it is not so valual)lo in some respects, for tliouijli 
stronger, it is not so hardy, and cannot endure long- 
continued exertion. The liorse is never full-sized in 
Burmah, as in every Asiatic tropical country east of 
Bengal, and it somewhat resembles the Canadian pony. 
The animal is expensive, and rarely used except for the 
saddle. In some parts of the country it is almost un- 

The elephant, well named the Apis of tlie Buddhists 
by M. Dubois de Jancigny,(l) is now much more the 
object of royal luxury and ostentation tlian anything else, 
and I shall, when speaking of the religious eeremonies of 
the Burmans, again refer to the place it occupies in their 
estimation. It is only used in Laos as a beast of burden. 

Hogs, dogs, cats, besides asses, sheep, and goats, 
which last are but little known, arc little cared for, and 
they are allowed to pm'sue their own paths unmolested. 
The camel, an animal, which as Mr. Crawfurd says, is 
" sufficiently well suited to the upper portions of the 
country," is unknown to the Burmese. (2) 

Wild animals of many descriptions abound in Bm'mah, 
still it is a remarkable fact, noticed by Crawfurd, that 
neither wolves, jackals, foxes, nor hyenas, are to bo found 
in the countr3^ Many species of winged game abound, 
as also hares. 

The Indo-Chinese nations are considered by Prichard (3) 
to consist of various races, while Pickermg (1) seems to 
be able to detect but two, the Malay, and, in an isolated 
position, the Telingan. It is therefore dilficult with such 
contradictory evidence to arrive at the probable result. 
But as, without a slight sketch of this important subject, 
my work would fall under the just imputation of incom- 
pleteness, I shall venture to give some account of the 
races of Burmali, and I the rather take Pricliard as my 
chief guide, as his research is the completer of the two, 
notwithstanding that Pickering has shown himself well 
able through his work to distinguish the Malay race from 
every other, in the most difficult and delicate cases. I 
shall not trouble the reader with any account of the 

(1) Japon, Indo-Chine, et Ceylan, par M. Dubois de Jancigny, p. 236. 
(•2) Crawfurd's Ava, vol. ii. p. 2-22, to whom I am mainly indebted. 
(:e Researches into the Physical History of Mankind, vol. iv. p. 499. 
(1) Races of Man, p. 137. " tjeo his Etliiiolo{,'iciiil map. 

I. 1.] KACES. 13 

adjacent races, but occupy myself solely ^vitIl the prin- 
cipal nations under the Burman dominion. And first of 
the people of Pegu : (1) they inhabit the Delta of the 
Ira^vadi, and the low coast which terminates in the hilly 
country of the Burnians or Maramas. They are called by 
the Burmans, Tiilain ; but their own name for themselves 
is jMan or J\I6n. The Pegu race, we shall see in the 
course of its history, was once very powerful, and its 
ascendancy remained for many years, and during the 
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the empire of Pegu 
is often spoken of in the Portuguese chronicles as power- 
ful and magnificent. Their language is entirely different 
from that of the Burmese and Siamese, as Leyden 
judged, (2) and Low has since amply proved. (3) In 
Low's opinion, the Man is the most original of the Lido- 
Chinese language. They use the Pali alphabet, and pro- 
bably had it before the Burmans. 

The Kariau race inhabits the borders and low plains in 
Bassein province, but do not present any salient points for 

The Maramas or Burmans inhabit the high lands above 
Pegu, where they created a powerful empire for them- 
selves in very ancient times. They are some of that 
valiant Malay stock Avho subsequently colonized so large a 
portion of tlie globe, and passed by way of Polynesia to 
the American continent. They, like the Incas of Peru, 
boast a celestial origin ; and the similarity of some of their 
institutions lead to no unfair presumption of their being 
of the same original family. (1) They are the most ex- 
tended race in the Burman empires, reaching from the 
frontiers of Laos and Siam westward to Arakhan. 

The country of Arakhan, which next claims our atten- 
tion, and concludes om- consideration of the races of 
Burmah, stretches along the eastern vshore of the Gulf of 
Bengal, from about 21^ to 18° of north latitude. Having 
in ancient times formed a portion of the empire of ]\la- 
gad'ha, they were for centuries connected with India. 
The Burmans tliemselves derive'their origin from tliem ; l)ut 
this is only indirectly true. The solution of the problem 
remains yet to bo told. The opinion of the Burmans re- 

(1) Prirhard, vol. iv. p. r>oCt. {2) Asiat. Rcs. vol. x. p. 210. 

(?.) Liiw's (iraminar of tho T'hay. 

(•»> See my rpmarkii in I3ucHlt7's Grcut Cities of llic Auciciit Wgrlfl, 
p. 3tiy. 


garding tlie antiquity 'of the Eiiklicng, or Ai'aklian dialect, 
is fully borne out by Dr. Leyden. The chief modifications 
it has undergone are traceable to the Pali.(l) 

The ethnology of the Burman empire is neither so in- 
tricate or so unsatisfactory as some otliers. There does 
not seem to have been a similar extent of change of race, 
and probably to that very circumstance do they owe the 
feebleness of character, which, however willingly we 
w'ould omit seeing, docs not fail to make itself conspicuous 
in a consideration of their prowess, social institutions, and 
advancement. The very fact of their quiescent state has 
debarred from progress, as the most mixed race is ever 
the most energetic. AYitness our own, where so many 
various bloods have commingled, and formed a nation, 
which, emphatically speaking, is a progressive one, and 
now more than ever. 

The Burmans have not made the advancement they 
might have made. There has been sluggish, age-lasting 
improvement in their empire, and it has been the want of 
a stimulating and decisive energy alone that has kept 
them back. Simplicity forms, too, no inconsiderable part 
of the national character, and this, by leading them to 
accept various doctrines without examination — a quality 
usually observable in semi-civilised races — has not given 
them au)^ reason to think and to look around. Like the 
American races, they proceeded to a certain point, and 
then improved but little. 

Colonel Symes, who was inclined to magnify the im- 
portance of the nation in every way, applied some remarks 
to them, which, however applicable now, Avere certaiuly 
not then. With those remarks I shall terminate this 
chapter, leaving their truth or falsehood to be discovered 
in the course of the w^ork. 

" The Birmans," observes he,(2) " are certaiuly rising 
fast in the scale of Oriental nations ; and it is to be hoped 
that a long respite from foreign wars will give them leisure 
to improve their natural advantages. Knowledge in- 
creases with commerce ; and as they are not shackled by 
any prejudices of castes restricted to hereditary occupa- 
tions, or forbidden from participating with strangers in 

(1) 111 concluiliny: this subject, allow mc to refer tlic reader to some 
useful observations on Ethnology by Dr. Prirliard, in the Admiralty 
Manual of Scicntilic liKjuiiy, edited by Sir Joint (Icrscliel, p. J'2.J-444. 

(2) Euibassy to Ava, vol. i. p. '2S6 sq. ; later edition, vol. i. p. 148. / 


« every social bond, their advancement will, in all proba- 
bility, be rapid. At present, so far from being in a state 
of intellectual darkness, altkougli they have not explored 
the depths of science, nor reached to excellence in the 
finer arts, they yet have an undeniable claim to the cha- 
racter of a civilised and well-instructed people. Their 
laws are wise, and pregnant with sound morality ; their 
poHce is better regulated than in most European coun- 
tries ; their natural disposition is friendly, and hospitable 
to strangers ; and their manners rather expressive of 
manly candour than courteous dissimulation : the grada- 
tions of rank, and tlie respect due to station, are main- 
tained with a scrupidosity which never relaxes. A know- 
ledge of letters is so widely diffused that there are no 
mechanics, few of the peasantry, or even the common 
watermen (usually the most illiterate class), who cannot 
read and write in the vulgar tongue. Few, however, are 
versed in the more erudite volumes of science, which, 
containing many Shanscrit terms, and often written in the 
Pali text, are (like the Hindoo Shasters) above the com- 
prehension of the midtitude ; but the feudal system, 
which chcrish'es ignorance, and renders man the property 
of man, still operates as a check to civilisation atid im- 
provement. This is a bar which gradually weakens as 
their acquaintance A^ith the customs and manners of other 
nations extends ; and unless the rage of civil discord be 
again excited, or some foreign power imjiose an alien 
yoke, the Eirmans bid fair to be a prosperous, ^Acalthy, 
and enhghtencd people." 


Tho kins: absolute — Instances of despotism — Titles — Form of government 
—Offices— The law courts— Their iniciuity — Instances;— The Book of the 
Oath epitomised— The oath— Laws — Police — Revenues- Petroleum — 
Family tax— Imports and exports— Exactions— Army— Equipments- 
Cowardice— March— The Invulnerables- Discipline— Military character 
—The white elephant— Det:;cription of an early traveller— Its high esti- 
mation — Treatment — Funeral. 

All -writers arc unanimous in the cry that there is no 

Sotcntatc upon earth equally despotic with the lord of 
iurmah. There is no disguise about the fact, and he 
openly asserts, in his titles, that he is lord, ruler, and sole 
possessor of the lives, persons, and property of his sub- 
iects. He advances and degrades ; his word alone can 
promote a beggar to the highest rank, and his word can 
also utterly displace the proudest officer of his court. His 
people is a capacious storehouse, whence he obtains tools 
to work his will. As soon as any person becomes distin- 
guished by his wealth or influence, then does he pay the 
penalty with his life. He is apprehended on some sup- 
posed crime, and is never heard of more. Every Burman 
is born the king's slave, and it is an honour to tlie subject 
to be so called by his sovereign. 

Sangermano mentions that, in approaching the royal 
person, the petitioner or officer is to prostrate himself 
before him, clasping his hands together above his head.(l) 
The fact is curious, and I mention it here, as it presents a 
striking similarity to the act of homage to which the luca 
race themselves were suljjected in approachmg the sacred 
person of the Child of the Sun. (2) They clasped their 
hands over their heads, and bore a burthen upon their 
backs. Now the usage is such here, for the manner of 
clasping the hands in the Burman court is typical of bear- 
ing a burthen, tho actual presence of which is dispensed 

(1) Sanpcrmano's Description of the Uurmcsc Empire, p. 58. 
i'i) Prv'scott, Coiujucst of J'cru, vol, ii. j). 80. 


It is, However, an honour both to the institntor of the 
Biirman laAV and the sovereign, -who, though absolute, 
obeyed it, to mention that no married woman can be 
seized on by the emissaries of the kiug. This, of course, 
leads tlie Burmese to contract marriages very early, cither 
actually or fictitiously. 

The property of persons who die without heirs is swept 
into the coffers of the state, and by law the property 
of unmarried foreigners is subject to the same regidation 
upon their death. Jetsome and flotsome belong to the 
king. These last provisions have not, however, been 
much enforced, in consequence of the urgent representa- 
tions of the foreigners residing at llangoou, Bassein, and 
other places. The king alone decides upon peace and war, 
and his call brings the whole populatioD to the rescue. 
All serve, all are conscripts. " The only effectual re- 
straint," as Crawfurd remarks, "on the excesses of mal- 
administration is the apprehension of insurrection." 

However, notwithstanding his being acknowledged as 
absolute, he, like a present president in Europe, has two 
nominal councils, — a public one and a cabinet. But he is 
neither bound to abide by their advice, nor does he. His 
measures are predetermined, and should they prove im- 
Milling to give an immediate and imconditional assent, he 
has been known to chase his ministers from his presence, 
with a drawn sword. Two instances are related of his 
rigour, which will sulHce to show the capriciousness of the 
unrestrained Oriental. 

The first is related by Crawfurd. (1) " The workman 
who built the present palace committed some professional 
mistake in the construction of the spire. The king re- 
monstrated with him, saying, that it would not stand. 
The architect pertinaciously insisted upon its stabihty 
and sufliciency, and was committed to prison for contu- 
macy. Shortly afterwards the spire fell in a thunder- 
storm, and about the same time accounts were received at 
court of the arrival of the British expedition ; upon which 
the architect was sent for from prison, taken to the place 
of execution, and forthwith decapitated. This," concludes 
the envoy, '* although upon a small scale, is a fair example 
both of the despotism and superstition by which this 
people ai'e borne down." 

[V. Ava, vol. ii. p. in" a\u\ m 1< 


The second instance, for the truth of wliicli I would 
scarcely voucli, -svas reported to Malcom,(l) uLence I 
quote it. " On a late occasion, for a very slight oflfence, 
he had forty of his his^hest olncers laid on their faces in 
the public street, before the palace wall ; kept for hours in 
a broihng sun, with a beam extended across their bodies." 
This is scarcely credible, and I think Malcom's informer 
must have been a Burmese Chartist, an Oriental Cuff'ey. 
However that traveller pithily observes, that he is " sel- 
dom allowed to know much of passing events, and parti- 
cularly of the delinquencies of particular officers, who arc 
ever ready to hush up accusations by a bribe to their im- 
mediate superior." 

Many circumstances lead me to suspect, however, that 
the king has httle real power, and that the officers reap the 
benefits of the acts of enormity which he commits at their 
instigation, or which they commit under the shadow of 
his responsibility. It has often been the case in the 
world's varied history, and why not here ? Facts will 

As a specimen of the pride of the Buraiese government, 
I shall append the fonii of addi'ess, which an Enghsh envoy 
received with the recommendation that he should pro- 
noimce it before the king. (2) 

" Placing above qur heads the golden majesty of the 
Mighty Lord, the Possessor of the mines of rubies, amber, 
gold, silver, and all kinds of metal ; of the Lord, under 
whose command are innumerable soldiers, generals, and 
captains ; of the Lord, who is King of many countries and 
provinces, and Emperor over many Hulers and Princes, 
'tcho wait round the throne icith the badges oj' his authority; 
of the Lord, who is adorned with the greatest jjower, wis- 
dom, Ivnowlcdge, jjrndenee, foresight, 4*c. ; of the Lord, 
who is rich in the possession of elephants, and liorses, 
and in particidar is the Lord of many AVhite Elephants ; 
of the Lord, who is the greatest of kings, the 'tnost just 
and the most religious, the master of life and death ; we 
his slaves the Governor of Bengal, the officers and admi- 
nistrators of the Company, bowing and lowering our 

(1) Malcom, Ti-aviis, vol. i. p. 249. 

(2) My immediate autliority is Sangcrmano, p. Co. This most lucid and 
interesting account of tlie Uurmesc empire, containing more than its title 
imi)()rts, deserves the most earnest attention of the liistorian, ConipUed 
from Ijurmcsv Uocvuucat!>j it bears the highest worth h\ itself. 


licads under llio solo of liis royal golden foot, do present 
to him -ftitli the greatest veneration, this our humble 

I have, by my italics, pointed out the "richest" parts 
of this grandiose address, which, I think, requires no fur- 
ther comment. It may be as well to add, however, that 
the presence and attributes of the sovereign are always 
represented as golden. 

The form of the Burman administration 'may be thus 
brielly described. There is not here, as in other countries 
of the East, any official answering to the post of Vizier or 
Prime Minister. The place of such an officer is supplied 
by the councils mentioned above. The first or public 
council is the higher in rank, and it has received the name 
of Lut-d'hau or Lwat-d'hau. Its officers arc four iu 
number, and Saugermano adds four assistants as a staff, (1) 
Avhich Crawfurd omits to mention. (2) The ministers bear 
the olHcial name of Wun-kri (Biu'then-bearers great). It 
is now understood to signify figuratively any one who is 
responsible ; but in the days when the future colonists of 
Peru left the land, there is not a doubt that it was literally 
applied to the officers. For in the first place the designa- 
tion woidd be applied to them as constantly bearing bur- 
thens, being continually in the presence of the king ; and 
tJien, far from being a term of contempt, it would be a 
designation of honour and consideration. Thus they were 
literally, and are figuratively. Bearers of the Great Bur- 
thens. (3) The questions of state are discussed by this 
body, and the decision is by a majority of voices. Its 
sittings are held within the precincts of the palace in a 
spacious hall. All the royal edicts and grants pass through 
this council, and require its sanction ; in fact, though they 
are the king's acts, yet his name never appears in them. 
The custom is somewhat similar to our own of never men- 
tioning the sovereign directly by name in the houses of 
]iarliaraent. The king is occasionally himself present at 
their deliberations. The edicts of the council are written 
upon palm-leaves, and a style of extreme brevity is adopted. 
Indeed, Sangermano assures us that "the more concise it 
is, the more forcible and efficacious the sentence is consi- 
dered." Would that our legislators and lawyers with their 

(1) Sangermano, p. fiJ. (2) Ava, vol. ii. p. 137. 

(3J In accurUaucg with my suggestions at p. lO of tl'is work, 


lengthy document a thought so ! They may yet learn a 
lesson from barbarians- 

The proclamations and writings of the council all bear 
the dc^^cc of a sabre, to intimate the strength and swift- 
ness of the pmiishment awaitiug the transgressors of its 
decrees. The assistants or deputies are called AVun-tauk 
(Burthen-proppers). The literal signification was equally 
in force in ages gone by. Beside the Wun-tauks there 
are from eight to ten secretaries, called Sare-d'haukri 
(Scribes-ro3^al great). 

The second council, like the first, has deliberations with 
the king. But those of the Atwen-wun (Interior burtlien- 
bearers) are private and preliminary to those of the Wun- 
kri. They are considered to be inferior to tlie Wunkri, and 
yet they have a great deal of by-infiuence, from tlieir posi- 
tion in tlie royal palace. The subjects of their deliberations 
are precisely similar to those of the Lut-d'hau, and they 
exercise the same judicial functions ; and even now it is 
a question of some doubt as to which of the assemblies is 
in reality the higher. There are various officers attached 
to the Atwen-wim, as to the Wun-kri. 

The number four is retained in the next rank of officers. 
They are the four general commanders and surveyors of 
the northern, southern, eastern, and western parts of 
the empire respectively. Then follow many subordinate 
officers attached in various capacities to the administration. 
None of this numerous stafl" of officers receive any regu- 
lar salary, but their payment somewhat resembles the 
system of repartimientos established in the Spanish 
colonies of America, being assignments of the lands and 
labour of certain nuinbers of the people. These are 
granted to officers of the executive governments, in the 
same way as the king of Persia assigned various cities and 
lands to Themistocles in more ancient times. (1) To\^^ls 
and lands are also granted to the ladies of the king's 
harem, and to the other numerous members of the royal 
famdy. The whole country is looked upon as crown pro- 
perty ; and the waste and uncultivated parts are at the 
disposition of any one who will settle in them. The only 
duty incumbent on the settler is that he must inclose and 
cultivate it. If he do not improve the land within a cer- 
tain period, it reverts to the Crown, and may be settled by 

(1) Thucydides, lib, i. c. 138. 


another. Strangely enough, this does not prevent tho 
sale, inheritance, or leasing of land, which goes on just as 
in Europe, although, of course, contrary to law. The con- 
ditions of mortgage are simpler than with us ; for the 
lender takes possession of the mortgaged estate, and ho 
becomes the owner of it, if the borrowed amount be not 
returned before the expiration of three years. (1) 

In civil disputes the parties have the right to select 
their own judges, while criminal causes are tried before 
the chief governor of the town or village. (2) At first 
this system of administering justice would appear to bo 
a fair and equitable plan, being apparently merely an 
agreement to refer the matter to the consideration of 
umpires. This is, however, not the case. The orders of 
government forbid this, but nevertheless the prohibition 
is not observed ; the utmost corruption prevails, for any 
complainant goes to a sufficiently influential person in the 
neighbourhood, and for a bribe obtains a decision in his 
favour. Sangermano sarcastically remarks, " It may be 
easily conceived to what injustice and inconvenience this 
practice must necessarily lead." The severest calamity 
that can befall any person is *' to be put into justice." 
There is no small degree of wit in this Burman phrase. 

Crawfurd mentions an instance of the strange proceed- 
ing of the Burman courts, which may be interesting. (3) 

"In 1817, an old Burmese woman, in the service of a 
European gentleman, was cited before the llung-d'hau, or 
court of justice, of Rangoon. Her master appeared on 
her behalf, and was informed that her oilence consisted 
in having neglected to report a theft committed upon 
herself three years before, hy which the government officers 
uiere defrauded of the fees and profits which ought to have 
accrued from the investigation or trial. On receiving this 
information, he was about to retire, in order to make 
arrangements to exonerate her, when lie was seized by two 
messengers of the court, and informed, that by appearing 
in the business he had rendered himself responsible, and 
could not be released unless some other individual Avere 
left in pledge for liim, imtil the old woman's person were 
produced. A Burman lad, his servant, who accompanied 
him, was accordingly left in the room. In an hour he 

(1) Malcom, vol. i. p. 2O2. (2) Sangcnnano, p. 6(i. 

(3) Ava, vol. ii. p. 149 sq. 


returned witli tlic accused, and found, tliat in the interval, 
the lad left in pledge had been put into the stocks, his 
ankles sciueezcd in them, and by this means, a little money 
\vhich lie had about his person, and a new handkerchief, 
extorted from him. The old woman was now put into 
the stocks in her turn, and detained there until all were 
paid, when she was discharged witZ/out any investigation 
whatever into the theft." 

One would imagine that this circumstance was much 
more likely to have happened in our High Court of Clian- 
cery, under the " sharp practice" of a Dodson and Fogg. 
It seems to be a mutilated Burman version of one of oui* 
" great" institutions made into a matter of physical force 
by Malcom's Oriental Chartist. I may here mention an 
affecting incident related by Sangermano, (1) and doubt- 
lessly too true. 

A poor widow, who was hard pinched to pay the tax 
demanded of her, was obliged to sell her only daughter to 
obtain the sum. The money was received, and heavy at 
heart she returned home, and put it in a box in her house, 
intending to lament that night, and carry the money to 
her inexorable creditor in the morning. But the measure 
of her sorrows was not yet full. Some thieves broke 
into the house and stole the money. In the morning 
she discovered her loss, and this additional circumstance 
caused the bounds of her grief to flow even beyond that 
of silence, and sitting before her door she gave herself up 
to loud lamentations. As she was weeping, an emissary 
of the city magistrate passed by, and inquired into the 
cause of her sorrow. He, upon hearing the sad story, 
related the matter to his master. The poor creature 
was then summoned to the court of justice, and com- 
manded to deliver up the thief. Of course this was im- 
possible. She was detained in the stocks imtil she could 
scrape together money enough to satisfj the rapacity of 
the judge. 

Sometimes these affairs are very comical. The same 
author relates another, the circumstances of which are as 
follows : — 

A woman employed in cooking fish for dinner was 
called away for an instant. The cat, watching lier oppor- 
tunity, sciiscd a half-roasted fish, and ran out of the house. 

(1) Page 74, 


The woman immediately ran after tlie cat, exclaimini;, 
" The cat has stolen my iish ! " A few day^s afterwards slio 
was summoned before the mafristrate, who demanded tho 
thief at her hands. It was of no use that she explained 
that tlie thief was a cat. The maoistrate has notliinir to 
do with that. His time was valuable, and the expenses of 
the court must be paid. 

The report of Captain Alves, cited in Crawfui'd,(l) 
contains ample accoimts of the court charges. 

How very similav the Burman law courts are to our 
own ! The followinj^ extract from the jjjood father's work 
will sliow it : (2) — " In civil causes, lawsuits are terminated 
much more expeditiously than is generally the case in our 
part of the world, provided always that the litigants are 
not rich, for then the affair is extremely long, and some- 
times never eonchided at all. I was myself acquainted 
with two rich European merchants and ship-masters, Avho 
ruined themselves so completely by a lawsuit, that they 
became destitute of the common necessaries of life, and 
the lawsuit withal was not decided, nor will ever be." 
Just like Jarndycc and Jarndyce, — the same costly affair 
everywhere ! 

Witnesses, both in the civil and criminal causes, are 
sometimes examined upon oath, tliough not always. Tho 
oath is written in a small book of palm-leaves, and is held 
over the head of the witness. Foreigners, however, take 
their own oaths. The substance of the Eook of Impreca- 
tions, or, as the Burmese call it, the Book of the Oath, 
is as follows :(3) — 

False witnesses, M'ho assert anything from passion, 
and not from love of truth, — witnesses who affirm that 
they have heard and seen what they have not heard or 
seen, may all such fiilse witnesses be severely punished 
with death, by that God who, through the duration of 
4'00,100,U(X) worlds, has performed every species of good 
work, and exercised every virtue. I say, may God, who, 
after having acquired all knowledge and justice, obtained 
divinity, leaning upon the tree of Godama, may this God, 
with the Nat who guards him day and night, that is, the 
Assura Nat, and the giants, slay these false witnesses. 

[Here follows the invocation of many dillercnt Nats.] 

(1) Ava, vol. ii. jip. i:,l>-i.">(). (-2) Saiip:cM-inaiii>, p. 07- 

(3) My uulhurity is, as usual, the excellent Saiigfiuiano, p. (ia. 

24 BOOK OF THE OATF. [I. 2. 

May all tlioso who, in consequence of bribery from 
either party, do not speak the truth, incur the eight 
dangers and tlio ten punishments. May they be infected 
with all sorts of diseases. 

Moreover, may they be destroyed by elephants, bitten 
and slain by serpents, killed and devoured by the devils 
and giants, the tigers, and other ferocious animals of the 
forest. May whoever asserts a falsehood be swallowed by 
the earth, may he perish by sudden death, may a thunder- 
bolt from heaven slay him, — the thunderbolt which is one 
of the arms of the Nat Deva. 

May false witnesses die of bad diseases, be bitten by 
crocodiles, be drowned. May they become poor, hated 
of the king. May they have calumniating enemies, may 
they be driven away, may they become utterly wretched, 
may every one ill-treat them, and raise laii'suits against 
them.{\) May they be killed with swords, lances, and every 
sort of weapon. May they be precipitated into the eight 
great hells and the 120 smaller ones. May they be tor- 
mented. May they be changed into dogs. And, if finally 
they become men, may they be slaves a thousand and ten 
thousand times. May aU their undertakings, thoughts, 
and desires, ever remain as worthless as a heap of cotton 
burnt by the fire. 

Such is the fearful anathema held over the head of the 
witness. The oath that the witness himself pronounced 
is very cimous, and being imique in its way, I shall insert 
it here. (2) The book of the oath is held over the de- 
ponent's head, and he says : — 

" I will speak the truth. If I speak not the truth, may 
it be through the influence of the laws of demerit, \\z., 
passion, anger, folly, pride, false opinion, immodesty, hard 
heartedness, and scepticism, so that when I and my rela- 
tions are on land, land animals, as tigers, elephants, bufla- 
loes, poisonous serpents, scorpions, *.^c.. shall seize, crush, 
and bite us, so that we shall certainly die. Let the cala- 
mities occasioned by fire, water, rulers, thieves, and 
enemies oppress and destroy us, till we perish and come to 
utter destruction. Let us be subject to all the calamities 
that are within the body, and all that are without the 

(1) This shows how the Burmans fear jtistice. How deeply seated is 
this disorder, and wlio can nnseat and drive it away ? 

(2) I am indebted to Malcom, vol. i. p. 256, and others. 

I. 2.] THE OATH. 25 

body. May wo bo soizoiwitli madnoss, diunbnoss, blind- 
ness, doafnoss, leprosy, and hydrophobia. May we be 
struck -with thimderbolts and lightning, and come to 
sudden death. In the midst of not speaking truth may 
I be taken with vomiting clotted black blood, and sud- 
denly die before the assembled people. TVTien I am going 
by water, may the water Nats assault me, the boat be 
upset, and the property lost; and may alligators, por- 
poises, sharks, or other sea monsters, seize and crush mo 
to death ; and when I change worlds, may I not arrive 
among men or ISTats, but suffer unmixed punisliment and 
regret, in the utmost wretchedness, among the four states 
of punishment, HeU, Prita, Beasts, and Athurakai. 

'* If I speak the truth, may I and my relations, through 
the influence of the ten laws of merit, and on account of 
the efficacy of truth, be freed from all calamities within 
and without the body ; and may evils which have not yet 
come, be warded far away. May the ten calamities and 
five enemies also be Icept far away. May the thunderbolts 
and liglitning, the Nat of the waters, and all sea animals, 
love me, that I may be safe from them. May my pros- 
perity increase like the rising sun and the waxing moon ; 
and may the seven possessions, the seven laws, and the 
seven fmerits of the virtuous, be permanent in my 
person; and when I change worlds, may I not go to 
the four states of punishment, but attain the happiness 
of men and Nats, and realize merit, reward, and perfect 

The last term requires explanation. It is the Buddhistic 
state of extreme delight, called nUyhan^ or niehan. A 
Burman rarely takes the oath, for it is not only ter- 
rible but expensive, as the report of Captain Alves will 
show:(l) — 

Administration of the oath ten ticals. 

Messenger for holding the book one tical. 

Two other messengers' fees two ticals. 

Bccorders two ticals. 

Pickled tea used in the ceremony half a tical. 

The pickled tea, as it is called, is a rough, coarse tea, 
chewed at the conclusion of tho ceremony, and without it 
no oath is binding. 

(1) Report ou Basseiu. 

26 CODES OF LAW. [I. 2. 

Tlicre is anollior way in wliicli causes arc decided on 
very rare and special occasions, — the trial by ordeal. This 
is either by water or melted lead. In the first instance, 
the plaintiff and defendant are made to walk into the 
water, and whichever can hold out longest nndcr its sur- 
face is declared the winner. The otlier mode consists in 
putting the linger in boiling water or melted lead, and 
trying who can keep it in the longest. The stocks are a 
great torture in this country, for they are made to slide 
up and down, so that the head and shoidders touch the 
floor. Of the prisons, sad and disagreeable accounts are 
given, but they are very insecure. 

I may here remark, that it is an accepted truth, that the 
only use to be derived from the examination of the insti- 
tutions of other countries, is that they may be compared 
by us with our own, and that they may serve as a standard 
whereby to measure the enlightennient to which we have 
attained. I hope, therefore, that I shall find some one 
willing to excuse me for having mentioned our "noble 
institution," that " bulwark of our liberties," the most 
High Court of Chancery, in the same page with the law 
courts of Burmah, where so much equity and moderation 
prevail. Because, of course, it is only the " rabble," the 
"herd," the "great unwashed," that suffer, and these are 
of no account whatever in either nation, British or Burman, 
especially in the eyes of Secretaries at War. 

Having now ended my account of the Burmese law 
courts, I shall pass on to a totally different subject, — the 
Burmese law. 

The various codes of laws which are considered of 
authority are, according to Crawford, (1) tlic ISliwe-men, or 
Golden Prince, tlie Wan-da-na, and the Damawilatha, to 
which may be added the Damasat or Pamathat, a Bur- 
mese translation of the Institutes of Manu. In these 
law courts, however, all codes wliatever are dead let- 
ters, for to none docs any judge ever refer. Malcom 
observes :(2) — " As a great part of their income is derived 
from lawsuits, they [the riders] generally encourage liti- 

The flight of a debtor does not relieve his family of the 
liability ; but no wife can be obligcnl to ■|)ay Ihe debts he 
has contracted during a former marriage. When a loan 

(1) Ava, vol, ii. p. 156, (.2) Travels, vol. i, j). 'j,bQ. 

I. 2.] LAWS. 27 

is entered upon, each of tlic securities is responsible for 
the whole amonnt, ami the lender enn force the lirst person 
to pay that lie can catch. The property of insolvents 
must be equally shared amonjT the creditors without pre- 
ference. The eldest son inherits the arms, wardrobe, 
bed, and jewellery of his father; the rest of his property 
is di\nded into four equal sliares, of which the widow has 
three, and the family, exclusive of the eldest son, take the 
remainins:^ fourth. 

The dilferent punishments for offences are these, in- 
creasing]: with the enormity of the crime : — Fines, the 
stocks, imprisonment, labour in chains. Hogging, branding, 
maiming, pagoda slavery, and death. The last, whicli 
seldom occurs but for murder and treason, is inflicted by 
decapitation, drowning, or crucifixion. But killing slaves 
is not criminal, and is atoned by fines. A libel is punished 
by the infliction of the punisliment corresponding to the 
crime unjustly charged upon the plaintiff by the libeller : 
however, if the truth of the charge be proven, it is not a 
libel. In our country, it is a well-known fact that the 
truth alone is a libel, a falsehood needing no refutation. 
Judgments, as in England, go by default of appearance, 
though that is no rule in i3urman practice, whatever it 
may be in theory. 

The husband has power to chastise his wife for mis- 
behaviour, after repeated admonitions and remonstrances 
in the presence of witnesses. In the event of continued 
offences, he has the power to divorce her, without appeal. 
A woman whose husband has gone away with the army is 
at liberty to marry at the expiration of six years ; if his 
object were business, she must wait seven years ; and if 
he was sent on any religious mission, she must wait ten 
years. The slave-laws are very strict, yet favourable on 
the whole ; but I should imagine that judge's opinion 
settled the matter. 

Changing a landmark is heavily punished. Betting 
debts are recoverable from the loser, but not from any 
person in any way otherwise responsible. A person hurt 
in wrestling, or any other athletic exercise, cannot recover 
damages : but if he be mortally hurt, the other must pay 
the price of his body. An empty vehicle nmst give place 
before a full one ; and when two loaded men meet, he lliat 
has t1\e Sim at his back nuist give way. Tlie following 
value is set upon men, women, and children : — 


.€. s. (1. 

A new-born male infant 4 ticals = 10 

A female infant 3 „ =0 7 6 

Aboy 10 „ =15 

Agirl 7 „ = 17 6 

A young man 30 ,, = 3 15 

A young woman 35 ,, =4 2 

Kick persons pay in proportion to their wealth and 
importance. Of course the high officers of the adminis- 
tration thus become very valuable men, in one respect at 

The Burmese code, in its various aspects, seems most 
strangely inapposite for the land in which it is placed ; or, 
it might be more correct to say, for the officers by whom 
it is dispensed. The police magistrate's position is in 
Europe a responsible and disagreeable one ; but the case 
is far otherwise in Burmah, and indeed in all Oriental 
governments having native ministers. For, though there 
may be amongst them some few scrupidous men, yet, as a 
whole, we cannot look upon the magisterial office as other- 
wise than an engine of extortion, and as a means whereby 
to turn the weaknesses of the human disposition to the 
best advantage. It is, however, not very remarkable that 
a country should exist with good laws and bad adminis- 
trations, as it is not impossible for a nation to continue 
under the rule of obsolete ordinances and quibbling sine- 
curists. Many of the grievances are, however, cliargeable 
on the inactive and unenergetic disposition of the people. I 
am not, however, prepared, witli all this, to go tlie length 
of Crawfurd, who thus speaks :(1) — 

" The police is as bad as possible ; and it is notorious 
that in all times of which wo can speak with certainty, the 
country has been overrun with pirates and robbers. Ee- 
sponsibdity is sliifted from one person to another, and a 
general ignorance and want of intelligence pervades every 
department. (2) It is a matter well known, however con- 
trary to tlieory, that in consequence of this state of things 
even a royal order will often fail of commanding respect 
or attention nt tlio distance of five sliort miles from the 
seat of government." 

These are but broad, sweeping assertions, like those 
exactly contradictory remarks of Symes, quoted at the 

(1) Ava, vol. ii. \). 157, 

(2) This is remaxkably applicable to a certain European nation. 


close of the last cliapter ; and sueli broad assertions must 
ever be received cum qrano sails. A middle path Ijetwcen 
these two must be taken. The condition of the country- 
is probably no worse, and no better, than in the nci<^h- 
bourinor empire of China, where the same iniquitous sys- 
tem of bribery prevails amongst the magistracy, and 
Avherc the actual amount of crime is not great in propor- 
tion to the population and extent of the country. The 
envoy of a government is not likely in the quick progress 
of his passage through the country, to bo able to examine 
into the condition of the people impartially, and, as they 
are prepared to make the best or the worst show they can 
to the foreign ambassador, so, too, will the foreign ambas- 
sador take the best or the worst view of their character. 

That there is much crime is undeniable ; but they are 
not monsters of iniquity, neither, on the other hand, are 
they angels of heaven. We must ever, in our judgment 
of imcivilised or semi-civilised races, be careful and lenient 
to a degree. They have not always the same advantages, 
and they are kept back by their rulers, ever ignorant and 
bigoted. Example, experience, and interest cause a nation 
to progress, not violence nor fanaticism. Witness the 
Turkish nation, formerly wild and brutish, now to be con- 
sidered in every way as a civilised and generous nation. 
And this T^as brought about by the force of example and 
the energy of the rider. We shall, in the history of Bur- 
mah, meet with a somewhat similar case in Alompra.(l) 

Let us now turn to the revenues accruing to the govern- 
ment, and first of the earth-oil. 

Tlie petroleum wells, once already described, are of 
immense value to the government as a source of revenue. 
The annual produce of the wells is, according to Craw- 
furd,(2) twenty-two millions of viss, each of ^{^ pounds 
avoirdupois. The wells altogether occupy a space of about 

(1) I should not have ventured to say as much as this, had I not found 
myself corroborated by Dr. Buchanan Hamilton. His remark is as fol- 
lows : — " 1 should certainly have been silent, had I thouf^ht that Captain 
Symes or Mr. Wood's inquiries on these subjects had jirepared them to 
give their opinions \s'ith advantage. But 1 imagine that tliis has not been 
the case ; and I hope the information 1 here give ma)- be of use to jirofcs- 
sional men." — MS. in tlic British Museum, Additional MS. Nn. i;»,H72. 
In the same collection of papers on Ava are a number of comnuuiications 
from Symes to the Maniuis of Wcllcslcy. in the course of his second em- 
bassy. It i-; but fair to add, that thesi' ktters appear written UJjder more 
just impressions than bis printed journal was. 

(2) Ava, vol. ii. p. '20ti. 

30 rEirOLEtM WELLS, [1. 2. 

six: square miles. Cox, wlio visited them early in 1707, 
says, that at the place where he stayed to examine the 
Avells, there were about one hundred and eighty of them, 
and at the distance of four or live miles there were, he 
was told, three hundred and forty more.(l) I cannot do 
better than subjoin some few of Crawfurd's excellent 
remarks, in connection with his visit. He was put in 
possession of more correct data on which to found his 
calculation than his intelligent predecessor Captain Cox, 
and his observations are consequently of more authority, 

"The country here," he says, (2) "is a series of sand- 
hills and ravines — the latter, torrents after a fall of rain, 
as we now experienced, and the former either covered 
with a very thin soil, or altogether bare. The trees, 
which were rather more numerous than we looked for, did 
not rise beyond twenty feet in height. The surface gave 
no indication that we could detect of the existence of the 
petroleum. On the spot which we reached, there were 
eight or ten wells, and we examined one of the best. The 
shaft was of a square form, and its dimensions about four 
feet to a side. It was formed by sinking a frame of wood, 
composed of beams of the Mimosa catechu, which affords a 
durable timber. Our conductor, the son of the Myosugi (3) 
of the village, informed us that the wells were commonly 
from one hundred and forty to one hundred and sixty 
cubits deep, and that their greatest depth in any case was 
two hundred. He informed us that the one we were ex- 
amining was the private property of his father — that it 
was considered very productive, and that its exact depth 
was one hundred and forty cubits. AVe measured it with 
a good lead-line, and ascertained its depth to be two hun- 
dred and ten feet, thus corresponding exactly with the 
report of our conductor — a matter which we did not look 
for, considering the extraordinary carelessness of the Bur- 
mans in all matters of this description. A pot of this oil 
was taken up, and a good thermometer being immediately 
plunged into it, indicated a temperature of ninety degrees. 
That of the air, when we left the ship an hour before, was 
eighty-two degrees. To make the experiment perfectly 
accurate, we ought to have brought a second thermometer 
along with us ; but this was neglected. We looked into 
one or two of the wells, and could discern the bottom. 

CO Residence in Ava, p. 134. (2) Embassy to Ava, vol. i. p. 93 sq, 
(3) Governor or chief man, 

1. 2.] rETKOLETTM. 31 

The liquid soomotl as if boiliiifx ; but whether from tlio 
emission of o;aseous fhiids, or simply from the escape of 
the oil itself from the ground, wo had no means of deter- 
mining. TJie formation Mhcrc the wells are sunk con- 
sisted of sand, loose sandstone, and blue clay. AVben a 
well is dug to a considerable extent, the labourers informed 
us that brown earth was occasionally foimd The petro- 
leum itself, when first taken out of the well, is of a thin 
watery consistence, but thickens by keeping, and in the 
cold weather it coagulates. Its colour at all times is a dirty 
green, not much unlike that of stagnant water. It has a 

pungent aromatic odour, ofiensive to most people 

The contents of the pot are deposited for a time in a 
cistern. Two persons are employed in raising the oil, 
making the whole number of persons engaged on each 
well only four. The oil is carried to the village or port in 
carts drawn by a pair of bullocks, each cart conveying 
from ten to fourteen pots, of ten viss each, or from 2G5 to 

371 pounds avoirdupois of the commodity The 

price, according to the demand, varies from four ticals of 
flowered silver to six ticals per 1,000 viss ; which is from 

fivepence to sevenpcnce halfpenny per cwt Sesa- 

mum oil will cost at the same place not less than three 
Imndred ticals for an equal weight ; but it lasts longer, 
gives a better light, and is more agreeable than the petro- 
leum, which in burning emits an immense quantity of 
black smoke, which soils every object near it." 

The oil is much used, not^^'ithstanding this last incon- 
venience, by the Burmans in their lamps ; and besides 
this there is another important service which it renders 
them, — that of preservmg their timber from destruction by 
insects, who detest it. How great must be such a blessing 
in a land where the detestable white ant commits its 
dreadful ravages ! 

It is chiefly consumed in the country itself, where two- 
thirds of it is used for burning, thirty v4ss per annum 
being considered a moderate consumption for a family of 
about five or six persons. Mr. Crawfurd, during his short 
stay, collected some interesting statistical information on 
the subject of these mines, which I abridge from his 

The number of boats waiting for cargoes of oil was 

(1) Ava, vol. i, \K t)S sq, Sec also Cox, Rciiidencc iu Ava, pp. 3/"-45, 


correctly taken, and found to amount to one hundred and 
eii^hty-tliree, of various sizes, some caiT3'mg only 1AM) 
viss, and others 1,40(). The average burthen of the vessels 
employed in this trade is about 4,(X>0 viss. They complete 
their carf^oes in fifteen days ; they are, therefore, renewed 
twenty-four times in the year; the exportation of oil, 
according to this estimate, will, therefore, be 17,5C)8,(X)0 
viss. Deducting a third from this, used for other purposes 
than burning, and avc have, at the annual consumption of 
thirty viss for a family of live and a half individuals, a 
population of 2,147,200. 

The actual daily produce of the wells is rather uncer- 
tain. It was stated to vary from thirty to five himdred, 
the average giving about 235 viss ; the number of wells 
was sometimes given as low as fifty, and sometimes as 
high as four hundred. (1) The average made about 200, 
and, considering the extent of ground covered by the 
wells, about sixteen square miles, Mr. Crawfurd does not 
think this an exaggeration. This estimate would reduce 
the amount of the population somewhat, causing it to con- 
sist only of 2,066,721 persons. 

On Mr. Crawfurd's return in December, he again visited 
the weUs. His investigations did not materially aflect his 
previous calculations, which, on the whole, we can but 
consider as the most satisfactory that, under circimi- 
stances, have yet been attainable. I close this rather 
extended account of the petroleum wells, by an extract 
from Crawfurd's work, w^hich I fancy is the best finale 
that can be imagined, \dz., the duty levied on it by the 
Grovernment :(2) — 

" The celebrated petroleum wcUs afford, as I ascer- 
tained at Ava, a revenue to the king or his officers. The 
weUs are private property, and belong hereditarily to 
about thirty-two individuals. A duty of five parts in a 
hundred is levied on the petroleum as it comes from the 
wells, and the amount realized upon it is said to be twenty - 
five thousand ticals per annum. jN^o less than twenty 
thousand of this goes to contractors, collectors, or public 
officers ; and the share of the state, or five thousand, was 

(1) Cox, on the contrai*y, was informed that there were live hundred 
and twenty wells : this, however, is ably oliown to be impossible by Craw- 
furd, not by snappish contradiction, but by calculation. The captain wa"?, 
evidently, niisintonned. 

(2) Ava, vol. ii. p. 178. 

1. 2. J EEVENUE AND TAXE?^. 33 

assii^^nod duriiif^ our visil:^ as a pension of one of llic 

Truly, this docs not look lil:o rapacity on llic part of 
the kiuj^ ! Who can tell what portion is legitimately the 
share of the oliiecrs of the Crown ? 

The revenue of the Burman empire is a duty of ten per 
cent, upon all merchandise coming; from abroad ; of the 
produce of some of the mines in the Burman dominions ; 
export duties ; a family tax, and an excise on salt, fisheries, 
fruit-trees, rice, and, as before seen, on petroleum. Be- 
sides this, there is /a supply of money continually comini; 
in by the presents which the officers receive for the attain- 
ment of various favours. The latter, thou,<Th of course 
wavering, forms a by no means inconsiderable portion of 
the royal income. The taxes are principally taken in 
kind, with the exception of the tax on families, which is 
usually demanded in specie. 

But even these form a very inconsiderable portion of 
the income of the Crown. Sangermano tells us very 
quaintly, " as he considers the property of his subjects as 
in reality belonging to himself, he therefore exacts from 
them anything he pleases ; so that it may be said with 
truth, that the unfortunate Burmese labour in acquiring 
riches, not for themselves or their children, but merely to 
gratify the avarice of the emperor; as tiieir possessions 
almost invariably find their way, sooner or later, into the 
royal treasury."(l) We shall in the course of a few pages 
see in what manner this took place. 

It is, however, somewhat remarkable, as Crawfurd 
observes, (2) that "a direct tax on the land, according 
either to its extent or fertility, is not known to the Bur- 
mese." This, though forming a source of much emolu- 
ment in other Oriental countries, appears to be Avholly un- 
known here. Its place is supplied by the family tax, above 
mentioned. This family, or more correctly property -tax, is 
confined to the Burmese, Talains (Peguers), and a few natu- 
ralized foreigners. ^Vn extract from Alves's Eeport will show 
its operation. (3) " The arbitrary assessments for various 
purposes, which were levied upon the Burmese and Talains, 
amounted annually, I am informed, to about 50,(X>0 iira/s{i) 

(l> Sanpermano, p. 171 . (2) Ava, vol. ii. i>. 1O2. 

(:i) Alvfs, quoteil in Ava, vol. ii. pp. ifi^-f). 

(4) A tictU is worth abuut two snilliuHs an^l sLvpeiico. This woulil be 

34 PEOPEBTY-TAX. [I. 2. 

on ordinary occasions, for tlic two townships of Bassein 
and Pantano. Bassein, the chief town of the province, 
was exempt from rer^ilar assessment, being subject to calls 
for the support of messengers or other public authorities 
from the capital, and for their travelling expenses. Pan- 
tano, and another district of the province, were exempt, 
as being assignments for the maintenance of their respec- 
tive Myo-thugyis. (1) I might probably have obtained in- 
formation regarding the amount of these arbitrary cesses 
in the other townships ; but the subject of inquiry was 
rather a delicate one, and might have led to the belief 
that its continuance was contemplated under British sway. 
Besides, the tax was an ever-fluctuating one ; information 
regarding it not very readily given ; and the purpose for 
which the money was often required, I was told, was too 
ludicrous to bear repetition to an Englishman. The 
amount for the other township may be inferred from the 
above, and was probably about 127,000 ticals. On extra- 
ordinary occasions there was no limit to exactions of both 
men and money. It does not appear that assessments 
could have been properly ordered for other than public 
purposes, or under instructions from court ; although the 
amount might not always find its way into the treasury of 
the State, it ought to have been expended in the service of 
the State. The principle of this tax seems to be that of 
a property-tax. A town or village having to pay a certain 
sum, the heads of wards, or principal people of the village, 
were called together by the Myo-thu-gyi or Thu-gyi, and 
informed of their quota in men and money to be furnished, 
and they assessed the householders agreeably to their 
means, or supposed means, — some having to pay, say fifty 
ticals, others one, or even less. I have been informed 
that there are tolerably correct accounts of the means of 
each householder ; but on such occasions poverty is often 
pleaded, and it too frequently happens that confinement 
and torture are resorted to before the collection is com- 
pleted. The system is obviously open to the greatest 
abuses, and although it is not against these abuses that 
the people generally exclaim, it is evident this is the most 
vexatious of all parts of the Burmese administration ; and 
its abolition or modification would have been most desir- 
able, had the country been retained. All persons in public 

(1) See Wilson's Dociimeuts of the Burmese War, AppencUx, p. xliv. 

I. 2.] TREE-TAX. 35 

employ were exempt from this tax — also artifieers, as they 
had to work without pay, Avhen. required for public pur- 
poses, or for the business of the local officers. (1) Also 
the Mussulman and Chinese inhabitants at Bassein : the 
former, when required, beino^ made to work as tailors ; 
the latter, to manufacture gunpowder and fireworks. Both 
these classes, however, were compelled to make gunpowder, 
from the breaking out of the war until the arrival of the 
British armament at Bassein. There ought to have been 
no expense of collection, although it appears to have been 
perfectly understood, that the overplus exacted by the 
Thu-gyis on such occasions was their chief source of emo- 

Tlie amount charged upon each family is in English 
money about twenty shillings and tenpence ; and a family 
consisting of six persons, the taxation per head is about 
three shillings and llvepence. Besides this, however, there 
is much to bo paid, which varies very considerably, and is 
apjilicd to extraordinary uses. 

In some portions of Burmah a tax is levied upon fruit- 
trees, and a fixed price is set upon each species of tree. 
The tax, as usual, was exorbitant, though, as the envoy 
remarks, " it may be stated generally that the unsettled 
habits of the people, and the ignorance and unskilfulness 
of the tax-gatherer, contribute in practice to counter- 
balance, in some degree, the arbitrary and oppressive cha- 
racter of the government in theory." (2) In Lower Pegu, 
a mango, a jack, (3) a cocoa-nut, and a mariam tree (a small 
kind of mango), paid each one-eighth of a tical (threepence 
three farthings) per annum. An areca and Palmyra palm 
paid a quarter of a tical, and a betel-vino one sixteenth. 
A titlie was levied in other places. Mr. Crawfurd was 
unable to ascertain what the total produce of the tax was. 
Indeed it is difficult to arrive at any determination in any 
of these cases, for they arc all equally wanting in point 
of data. 

The import duties, as already stated, are one-tenth of 
the value of the articles imported, but the custom-house 
has the option of levying them in money or in kind. An 
instance of the vexation attending the latter system was 

(1) But, after all, this cannot be considered as other than the substitu- 
tion of a lifcht or hea\'>', as the case might be, personal service for a tax in 
kind or specie. The tax was taken in labour, that is all the <liffcrcnce. 

(2) Crawfurd, vol. ii. p. 175. (3) See Malcom, vol. i. p. 174. 

D 2 

30 extraoKdin'akY levies. [1. '1. 

related to Mr. Crawfurd. It sceras tliat on board some 
European vessel there was a small cable or hawser whieli 
was imported. The inspector was, I suppose, " entirely 
bothered;" for he knew not how to manage the matter. 
At last he settled it by cutting off a tithe, remarking, at 
the same time, that if it were not long enough for any 
other purpose, it would do to light the king's cigar ! The 
import duties on the land frontier of China amounted to 
4(j,000 ticcds (about £5,000). 

The whole amount of royal revenue, from various 
soiu'ces, owing probably to the cheating system of the 
officers, is not more than £25,00<^) per annum, " an in- 
come," as Crawfurd concludes, " far exceeded by that of 
many native subjects of the British possessions in India." (1) 

But the inhabitants of the land are subjected to many 
other grievances in the way of extortion, and, taking 
Sangermano for a guide, I shall enumerate some of these. 
The funds for building the public edifices and palaces, 
bridges, convents, and pagodas, are raised by extraordi- 
nary levies. Even if that were all, it might be sufferable ; 
but when anything of this nature is required, the govern- 
ment officers extort three or four times as much as would 
suffice for tlie pui'pose. And just as the king acts in Ava, 
so do the governors of the other towns. The whole system 
of practical government in Ava is one gigantic mass of 
corruption and iniquity, and nothing but the total over- 
throw of the present government, and establishment of 
British supremacy, can rescue the unhappy people of 
Burmah. In Rangoon, however, as it is at the greatest 
distance from the government, these exactions are carried 
to the greatest excess. It is at that place that those 
enormities are committed, of which I have already men- 
tioned a few instances. However, the dignitaries meet 
their reward ; " for," says the good Eather Sangermano, (2) 
" sooner or later tlie news of their conduct reaches the court, 
tliey arc stripped of their dignit3% and sometimes, if their 
crimes be great, are put to death, and tlicir property is 
confiscated for the use of the emperor. Generally, how- 
ever, they save themselves at the expense of their riches, 
which are entirely consumed in presents to the wives, 
sons, and chief ministers of the emperor; and then they 
arc frequently scut back to the same governments where 

(1) Ava, vol. ii. 11. isC. (2) Page 73, 


Ihcy had practised their extortions, to heap \ip new trea- 
sures for new confiscations. Ilencc it may justly be 
inferred, that the rapacity of the emperor is not less" than 
that of his mandarins ; and that he does not care for the 
spoliation of his subjects, but rather encourages it, that 
he may thus always have means in his power to replenish 
his treasury." 

In short we may conclude these " Sketches of Govern- 
ment" with the remark of the reviewer: (1) "The 
fjovernment is a despotism upon the model of that of 
China ; the fiction of paternity in the person of the ruler 
being in both countries upheld. The emperor is the 
father of the state ; each mandarin is the father of the 
province which he governs ; and each magistrate, of what- 
ever gradation, father of the subordinate department in 
which he i^resides." We have seen how fatnerly is the 
whole behaviour of the Burman rulers, and we may well 
agree with the reviewer, in pronouncing the fiction in- 
vented for the benefit of the despot, and not for the benefit 
of the people. 

There is no regular Burmese army. (2) When the king 
requires one, he fijses the number of soldiers necessary 
for the enterprise, and nominates the general who is to 
command them. The Lut-d'hau in the capital, and the 
Ion or Rondai of the provincial town, then send for a 
certain number more than absolutely mentioned by the 
king. These are brought together by a forced conscription, 
and the conduct of the officers who levy them not a little 
resembles that of the renowned and valiant Falstafi*. 
Such persons as are unable to serve, or are rich enough 
to buy themselves off, do so, and the consequence is, that 
a rabble is assembled, without subordination or discipline, 
and consequently formidable only to the barbarian tribes 
on the frontiers, but totally unable to cope with the 
civilised forces of the Company. The money obtained 
from the Burmans who buy off' is applied to the equip- 
ment of the army ; " for the emperor," Sangermano ob- 
serves, " does not furnish anything but the arms, which 
must be well taken care of; and woe to the soldier who 
loses them." (3) The whole male population between the 
ages of seventeen and sixty serve, and those with wives 

(1) Edinburgh Review, No. xliv. p. 351, .Ian. 181 J. 

(2) I am chiefly indebted to Sanfrorinano, pp. 76-g ; and Crawfurd, 
vol. ii. pp. 1.17-9. (3) Page 77. 

38 ARMY. [I. 2. 

and families arc ever preferred, as these last serve as 
hostages for tlicir good behaviour. This forcible conscrip- 
tion partly induces unwillingness, and partly the natural 
cowardice of the peasantry. Cra^^ furd was informed by 
several Europeans, who were present at Kangoon when 
the troops were embarking for Junk Ceylon, and other 
parts of the Siamese coast, that they were often carried 
on board tied hands and feet, and this not in a few cases, 
but repeatedly, and in great numbers. "What soldiers for 
our disciplined army to contend with, and A^"hat an insight 
into their military character this gives us, \f it he not an 
cjcaggeration ! And yet these cowards, forced into the 
service in this valiant way, caused the retreat of the 
British force at Uamoo in 182-1! Perhaps their conduct 
is somewhat Hke that of our own sailors. There is, how- 
ever, little doubt of their being an utterly despicable foe, 
though they will undergo the severest privations without 
a word. In time, however, and under judicious general- 
ship, they might become very passable soldiers. 

" As soon as the order for marching arrives," says 
Sangermano, (1) " the soldiers, leaving their sowing and 
reaping, and whatever occupation they may be engaged in, 
assemble instantly in different corps, and prepare them- 
selves ; and throwing their weapon over their shoulders 
like a lever, they hang from one end of it a mat or blanket 
to cover them at night, a provision of powder, and a little 
vessel for cooking ; and from the other end, a provision of 
rice, of salt, and of Nape, a species of half-putrid, half- 
dried fish, pickled with salt. In this guise they travel to 
their place of destination, without transport-waggons, 
without tents, in their ordinary dress, merely carrying 
on their J^heads a piece of red cloth, the only distinctive 
badge of a Burmese soldier. (2) About nine o'clock in the 
morning they begin to march, after having taken a short 
sleep, and cooked and eaten their rice, and Care, a sort of 
stew eaten with the rice, of which that kind which is 
used by soldiers and travellers is generally made of herbs 
or leaves of trees, cooked in plain water, with a little 
Nape. He might then bivouac on the bare ground, with- 
out any protection from the night air, the dew, or even 
the rain ; merely constructing a palisade of branches of 

(1) Description, p. 77- 

(2) Now, liowever, the soldiers have attempted to irct into tiniforni, ajud 
wear belts and conical cases of tin, to resemble the English cap. 


trees or thorns. Sometimes it happens that the expe- 
dition is deferred till the followin<r year, and then the 
soldiers beinij^ arrived on the enemy's confines are made 
to work in the rice-grounds, thus to furnish a store of 
that commodity for their provision." 

This is the picturesque description left us by the mis- 
sionar}', and it is of the more vakio as \ce know it to come 
from an (^ye-witness. But in the Burmese army, as in the 
ancient Persian, there is a corps of several thousand men, 
known by the name of the Invulncrables. Major Snod- 
grass has given us an interesting sketch of this body of 
military ; and it being short, finds a fitting place here. (Ij 

" They are distinguished by the short cut of their 
hau*, and the peculiar manner in which they are tattooed, 
having the figures of elephants, tigers, and a great variet}'- 
of ferocious animals, indelibly and even beautifully marked 
upon their arms and legs ; but to the soldiers they were 
best known by having bits of gold, silver, and sometimes 
precious stones in their arms, probably introduced under 
the skin at an early age. 

" These men are considered by their countrymen as 
invulnerable ; and from their foolish and absurd exposure 
of their persons to the iire of an enemy, the}'' arc either 
impressed with the same opinion, or find it necessary to 
show a marked contempt for danger, in support of their 
pretensions. In all the stockades and defences of the 
enemy, one or two of these heroes were generally found, 
whose duty it was to exhibit the war-dance of defiance 
upon the most exposed part of their defences, infusing 
courage and enthusiasm into the minds of their comrades, 
and afibrding much amusement to their enemies. The 
infatuated wretches, under the excitement of opium, too 
frequently continued the ludicrous exhibition, tiU they 
afforded convincing proof of the value of their claims to 
the title they assume." 

The anus in use among the Burmese are clumsy two- 
handed sabres, named das, lances, bo\^'s, and matchlocks. 
A few cannon are managed by a corps of Christians in 
the service of the countr5\ These Christians, in the time 
of Anaundopra, amounted, with their wives and families, 
to about two thousand, being the descendants of the 
Portuguese transported from Syriam more than a century 

;l) Siiodprrass, Narrative of the Burmese Wiir, pp. <1» aii'I ri.i. Wc shall 
hereafter return to these excellent " boldiers and gentlemen." 

40 EIGOROrS DISCirLIXE. [1. 2. 

before. Tlioir gunpowder they manufacture themselves, 
and Crawfui'd pronour.ecs it to be as bad as any prepared 
in the Orient. (1) Snodgrass, (2) Crawfurd, Wilson, 
and others, are unanimous in pronouncing the chief 
military talents of the Burmese to lie in lield-AAorks ; yet, 
though their position "was well selected and quickly occu- 
pied, the execution of their stockades, with a few excep- 
tions, seems to be very inferior. 

After their conq^ucst of Munipur they enrolled a small 
body of cavalry, which, however, has rarely proved 
eflective, for the horses are of very inferior ({uality. 

The troops are subject to a rigorous diseiphne. The 
power of capital punishment is not vested only in the 
general, but the officer of any corps that happens to be 
somewhat distant from the main body, has the same 
liberty of punishing with death, and this without appeal, 
any soldier that he judges worthy of it, "' The sword," 
observ^cs Sangermano, " is always hanging over the head 
of the soldier, and the slightest disposition to flight, or 
reluctance to advance, will infallibly bring it down upon 
him. But what above all," continues the Father, " tends 
to hold the Burmese soldiery to their duty, is the dread- 
ful execution that is done on the wives and children of 
those who desert. The arms and legs of these miserable 
victims are bound together with no more feeling than if 
they were brute beasts, and in this state they are shut up 
in cabins made of bamboo, and filled with combustible 
material, which are then set on fire by means of a train 
of gunpowder." (3) The power of the king, however, is 
as great over his officers, as that of liis officers over the 
common soldiers. "Woe -to the commander," exclaims 
the quaint old missionary, " Avoe to the commander who 
suffers himself to be worsted ! The least he can expect is 
the loss of all his honours and dignities ; but if there has 
been the slightest negligence on his part, his possessions 
and life must also be sacrificed to the anger of the em- 

The iron rule of the king has caused a vast falling oS 
in his subjects, who have Avithdrawn to Siam and to the 
British possessions in Bengal and Araklian. The maxim 
of the government has been the sayhig of its king : — *' Wc 
must liold down the Burmese by oppression, so that they 

(1) Ava, vol. ji. p. iGo. (2) Ijurincsc Wai-, p. 21. 

(3) Description, p. 7S. 


may never dare to mcdilatc rebellion." Another aneedole 
is related (1) of the same king, Men-ta-ra-gyee ; and though 
it may be apocryphal, yet it shows the spirit of the age. 
Some one of his court represented to him that tlio inces- 
sant wars were materially reducing the number of liis 
subjects ;■ but the only reply vouchsafed by the inexorable 
monarcli was, " It matters but little ; for if all the men 
are killed, then we can enrol and arm the women." 

The military character of the Burmese is well summed 
up by Snodgrass in the following terms : (2) — " When 
engaged in offensive warfare, Mhich in their native quar- 
rels has generally been the ease, the Burmese is arrogant, 
bold, and daring ; possessed of strength and activity 
superior to all his neighbours, and capable of enduring 
great fatigue, his movements are rapid, and his perse- 
verance in overcoming obstacles almost ii*resistible : pos- 
sessed, too, of superior science and ability in their peculiar 
system of lighting, he had seldom met his equal in the 
field, or even experienced serious resistance in the nu- 
merous conquests which of late 5'ears had been added to 
the empire, until the increasing arrogance and aggressions 
of his government brought him at last in contact with an 
enemy of a very different description from any he had yet 
contended with, and presented his military character in 
a different light, divested of the glare which victory and 
success had long shed around it." Arrogant and daring, 
indeed, when the Burman name alone was sufficient to 
cause the wild tribes of the frontier to lay down their 
arms, and humbly beg for peace on any terms. 

Before closing this chapter, it were well to give some 
account of that celebrated appendage to Burman state, the 
white elephant. I shall here take occasion to introduce a 
description of them by an old traveller, the first English- 
men indeed who ever visited Burmah. It is given in 
Ilakluyt's collection of " Nauigations, Tralliques, and 
Discoueries." (3) 

" And among the rest he hath foure white elephants, 
which arc very strange and rare, for there is none other 
king that hath tliem but he ; if any otlier king hatli one, 
hee will send vnto him for it. When any of tliesc white 
elejihants is brought vnto the king, all the m'erclumts in 
the city are commanded to see them, and to giue him a 

;i) Sangcrmano, p. 79. (i) liurnirsc War, p. 205. 

(3) Ralph Fitch, in Ilakluyt, vol. ii. p. 25y. Loiuluji, isyg. 


present of halfe a ducat, which doth come to a great 
summc, for that there are many merchants in the city. 
After that you have given your present, you may come 
and see them at your pleasure, although they stand in the 
king's house. I'liis king, in his title, is called, the king 
of the white elephants. (1) If any other king haue one, 
and will not send it him, he will make warre with him for 
it, for he had rather lose a gi'cat part of his kingdome 
than not to conquere him. They do very great seruice 
vnto these white elephants ; euery one of them standeth 
in a house gilded A^ith golde, and they doe feede in vessels 
of siluer and gilt. One of them, when he doth go to the 
riuer to he washed, as euery day they do, goeth under a 
canopy of clothe, of golde or of silke, carried ouer him by 
sixe or eight men, and eight or ten men goe before linn, 
playing on drummes, sliawmes, or other instruments : 
and when he is washed and conm.ieth out of the riuer, 
there is a gentleman which doth M'ash his feet in a sUuer 
basin, which is his office giuen him by the king. There is 
no such account made of any blacke elephant, be he neuer 
so great. And surely there be woonderfuU faire and 
great, and some be nine cubites in height." (2) 

Since the institution of the Burmese monarch}'', its 
kings have ever been most desirous of having one of these 
white elephants in their possession, as they conceived it 
added additional strength to their arms, and good fortune 
to their administration. At the accession of Men-ta-ra- 
gyee there was no such animal in the royid stables, and 
he directed all his efforts to the satisfying of a natui'al 
desire to have one. His endeavours were crowned with 
success, for, in 1805, a female was caught at Lain, in the 
forests of Pegu. Sangermano gives the following accoimt 
of its treatment and transportation to Amarapura. (3) 

" Immediately upon its being captured, it was bound 
with cords covered with scarlet, (1) and the most consider- 
able of the mandarins were deputed to attend it. A 
house, such as is occupied by the greatest ministers, was 
built for its reception ; and numerous servants Avere ap- 

(1) Seep. 18. 

(2) I have preferred to f,'ivc the spelling: of the black-letter folio, as it is 
not verj- corrupt, and lends adflitional (piaintness to the writer's remarks. 

(3) Pape6l. 

(4) Tliis intimated that the elephant was the divine rider of the other 
animals, and th^ scarlet borla of tlie Peruvian Inca was bound upon its 
temples. — Prescott, Conquest of Peru, vol. ii. p. 44. 


pointed to •writcli over its cleanliness, to carry to it every 
day tkc freshest herbs, which had first been washed with 
water, and to provide it ^^-ith evcrythiuii^ else that could 
contribute to its comfort. As the place where it was 
taken was infested with mosquitoes, a beautifuljnet of silk 
was made to protect it from them ; (1) and to preserve it 
from all harm, mandarins and guards watched by it botli 
day and night. No sooner was the news spread abroad 
that a white elephant had been taken, than immense mul- 
titudes of every age, sex, and condition flocked to behold 
it, not only from the neighbouring parts, but even from 

the most remote provinces At length the king gave 

orders for its transportation to Amarapura, and imme- 
diately two boats of teak wood were fastened together, 
and upon them was erected a superb pavilion, with a roof 
similar to that which covers the royal palaces. It was 
made perfectly impervious to the sun or rain, and draperies 
of silk embroidered in gold adorned it on every side. 
This splendid pavilion was towed up the river by three 

large and beautiful gilded vessels full of rowers The 

king and royal family frequently sent messengers, to bring 
tidings of its health, and make it rich presents in their 

name To honour its arrival in the city, a most splendid 

festival was ordered, which continued for three days, and 
was celebrated with music, dancing, and fireworks. The 
most costly presents continued daily to be brought to it 
by all the mandarins of the kingdom, and one is said to 
have offered a vase of gold weighing 480 ounces. But it 
is well known that these presents and the eagerness shown 
in bestowin": them, were owing more to the avaricious 
pohcy of the king than to the veneration of his subjects 

(1) Herodotus has recorded the fact of the fishermen of Eg:ypt hanguig 
their nets around them to keep off the mosquitoes. — Herod, ii. c. 9"'- 

The following remarks, for which I am indebted to my friend the Rev. 
J. G. Wood, M.A., will, I am sure, interest the reader : — 

" The same precautions are taken now. The fisherman i)lants a pole, 
usually his fi.shhif^pole, upright in the ground, and cUsposcs his net over 
it so as to form a kind of tent. Under this he sleeps securely, as no tties 
dare pass through the meshes of a net, even were they an inch wide. This 
may he proved by stretching a series of crossed threads across an open 
window. Nt) flies will venture to jiass through the spaces, as they 
evidently take the net for the toils of some overgrown spider. Should, 
however, a gauze curtain be drawn across the window, and a small hole 
made in it, plenty of flics will creep through. By thus stietchiug a lict, it 
is possible, even in the heat of summer, to enjoy the full benefit of the 
fresh air, and yet to have the satisfaction of knowing that your winged 
foes arc buzzing outside in useless anxiety. There must be no cross light, 
or the flics do not appear to see the net." 


towards ilio olcpbant, for all llicsc golden utensils and 
ornaments found their Avay at last into the royal trea- 

A lit conclusion to so tremendous a piece of superstition 
and absurdity ! Crawfurd, however, denies that the vene- 
ration paid to it was so great as reported ; there is at any 
rate no question that the fortunate discoverer is well re- 
Vrarded. The one now in the possession of the king of 
Ava was discovered by four villagers, who, in addition to 
rank, offices, title, and estates, each received the sum of 
two thousand five hundred ticals, — about £312 sterling. (1) 

"At the death of the elephant," continues Sangermano,(2) 
" as at that of an emperor, it is publicly forbidden, under 
heavy penalties, to assert that he is dead ; it must only be 
said that he is departed, or has disappeared. As the one 
of which we have spoken was a female, its funeral was 
conducted in the form practised on the demise of a prin- 
cipal queen. The body was accordingly placed upon a 
funeral pile of sassafras, sandal, and other aromatic woods, 
then covered over with similar materials ; and the pyre 
was set on fire with the aid of four immense gilt bellows 
placed at its angles. After three days, the principal man- 
darins came to gather the ashes and remnants of the 
bones, which they enshrined in a gilt and well-closed um, 
and bm'ied in the royal cemetery. Over the tomb ^^'as 
subsequently raised a superb mausoleum of a pjTamidal 
shape, built of brick, but richly painted and gilt. Had 
tlie elephant been a male, it would have been interred 
with the ceremonial used for the sovereign." 

The loss of the elephant was, however, soon supplied ; 
for another was caught in 180G near a place called Nibban, 
in Pegu, and the day that Sangcrmano quitted Ivangoon 
for Europe, the first of October, it was expected at that 
place. It was the same one that Crawfurcl saw in Octo- 
ber, 1826. 

(1) Crawfiml, vol. i. p, 24;. (2) Description, p. 63. 


Cosmnpraphy — The Surnian liclls — Definition of a Nat by Ileslod— Buddha 
— ti'audania — His probable history — ISuddhism — Priests — Temples — 
Curious cave near Promo — Monasteries — Ceremonies — I'uneral— Con- 
cluilinjj remarks. 

TuE origin of the Burmese nation, like tliat of every 
otlier, is lost in the mists of antiquity. AVc know not 
wlience wo proceed, and the bcginnini; and end of our 
being on this earth are alike wrapt in obscurity. But in 
addition to the unavoidable gloom that envelops the be- 
ginning of every nation, we have, amongst the Indian 
races, the additional uncertainty caused by a wild and in- 
coherent cosmography, which, pervading the early portions 
of their national annals, renders it almost impossible to 
elicit any sort of narrative that would be satisfactory to 
tlie reader in an historical point of view. But, as every- 
tliing connected with a nation and its belief, is interest- 
ing to the curious observer of mankind, it will be as well 
to listen to the wild and wondrous strain, the sounds of 
which still thrill and tremble upon the thresliold of time. 
Here, then, is a short view of the Burmese cosmography, 
as a prelude to the ancient history of that country. Wo 
will listen to it from the mouth of Sangermano, one of 
the best and most modest of the exponents of Burmese 
antiquities. (1) 

According to the Burmese sacred books, there are five 
species of atoms. , The first is an invisible permeating 
fluid, distinguisliable only by the superior order of genii 
called iS^at. The second species is that which may be 
seen dancini; in the irleam of a streak of sunlight. The 
third species consists of the dust raised by the motion 
of animals, and vehicles from the earth. The fourth 

(1") Description of the Burmese Empire. Comi)iled from native docu- 
ments, by the Rev. Father Saufcermano. Translated from his MS. by 
W.Tandy. Published at Home in is:t:!, in the invalualile series of the 
Oriental Translation Committee. I have abrid^'ed the lentjtiiy details in 
the work vf the father. 


comprises the gross particles whicli form the soil on 
which, men live. And the fifth consists of those little 
grains -which ftiU when writing with an iron pen upon a 

These atoms are exactly proportioned to each other in 
the following way. Thirty-six atoms of the first make 
one of the second ; thirty-six of the second make one of 
the third, and so on. Upon these proportions depends a 
strange system of measurement, which, carried on like 
the world-renowned calculation of the horse's shoes and 
nails, astonishes us by its simplicity, and amuses us by its 
uselessness. It is as follows : " Seven atoms of the fifth 
and last species are equal in size to the head of a louse ; 
seven such heads equal a grain of rice ; seven grains of 
rice make an inch; twelve inches a palm, and two palms a 
cubit ; seven cubits give one ta ; twenty fa one ussaha ; 
eighty nxsaha one gmit ; and four (jaiit Vijuzena. Finally, 
a juzena contains about six Burmese leagues, or 28,000 
cubits." (1) The measure of time into homceopathical in- 
finitesimals is equally absurd. 

The world, called Logha, -vvhich signifies alternate de- 
struction and reproduction, is divided into three parts. It 
is not conceived by the Burmese to be spherical, but is 
imagined to bo a circular plain somewhat elevated in the 
centre. The three parts into which the earth is divided 
are called the superior, where the Nat live ; the middle, 
the residence of man ; and the inferior, the place of sub- 
sequent retribution. The middle part is bounded on all 
sides by an impenetrable barrier of mountains, called 
Zacchiavala, which rise S2,000 juzena above the surface of 
the sea, and have an equal depth in the sea itself. (2) "The 
diameter of tliis middle part is 1,203, 100 juzena, and its cir- 
cumference is throe times the diameter. Its depth is 2 10,0(X) 
juzena. The half of this depth entirely consists of dust, the 
other half, or the lower part, is a hard compact stone, called 
sibapatavi. This enormous volume of dust and stone is 
supported by a double volume of water, under which is 
placed a double volume of air ; and beyond this there is 
nothing but vacuity. "(3) Buchanan supplies some parti- 

{\) Sangermaiio, Description, p. 2. See Buchanan, Asiatic Researches, 
vol. vi. p. His. The latter tells us that these measures are not used iii 
Burmali. Wlin can wonder at it } 

(*2) Strange this is; but at the same time it displays a species of physical 
and mechanical knowledge which we should hardly have expected in. these 
legends. (3) Sangermano, p. .3. 


ciilars lierc, omitted by Sangermano : — " Besides this 
earth of ours, it is imagined, that there are of the same 
form 10,100,0(}() otliers, -which mutually touch in three 
points, forming between them a number of eciuilateral 
spaces, which, on account of the sun's not reaching them, 
are filled witli ^Yater intensely cold. The depth of these 
10,100,000 triangular spaces is 81,000 Juzcna, and each of 
their sides is 3,000 juzena in length. "(1) 

In the centre of the middle system of the world, above 
the level of the sea, is a mountain called Miemmo or 
Mienmo, said to be the highest in the world, rising to the 
height of 84,000 juzena, and having a similar depth in 
the sea. Buchanan-Hamilton tells us that the word sig- 
nifies Mountain of Vision in Burmese. (2) The plateau at 
the extreme height of Mienmo is 48,000 jiizoia in diameter, 
with a circumference of three times that extent. Three 
enormous rubies support the whole mass, being themselves 
based on the great stone Silapatavi. The four sides of the 
mountain are respectively of silver, glass, gold, and ruby. 
Miemmo is surrounded by seven chains of hills, and seven 
rivers, called Sida, whose waters are so clear and limpid 
that the lightest piece of down stripped from a feather 
woidd sink to the bottom. These various rivers arc of 
different heights and widths. Buchanan considers the 
word ' sea' as much more applicable to these waters ; Sida, 
in the Arakhan dialect, having that signification. 

At the four cardinal points of Miemmo, in the midst of 
an immense sea, lie the four great islands which form the 
habitations of mankind. They are respectively in the 
forms of a half-moon, a full moon, a square, and a lozenge 
or trapezium. In the last of these, lying towards the 
south, opposite the rub}^ side of Miemmo, are situated 
the kingdom of Burmah, Siam, China, Ceylon, and the 
other places with which the Burmans are acquainted, 
together with many more with which nobody is ac- 
quainted. (3) Besides these four great islands, there are 
two thousand small ones, whence, according to the Bur- 
mau idea, the Europeans come. The seas are filled with 

(1) Buchanan, Asiat. Res. vol. vi. p. 175. 

<-j; As. Res. vol. vi. p. 17.5 n. He adds that it would seem to he iden- 
tical with the Meru Paravada of the Brahmins. 

[■A) The eastern island is named Pioppavideha ; the western, Amara- 
goga; the northcni, Unchegrn ; and the southern, Zahuiliba. Tlie tree 
of (iodama (mentioned in a former chapter, p. 23) is the Ficus religiosa, 
the BOdhe-bayn. 

48 NiiiBAN, on pr.r.FECT t.e^t. [I. 3. 

liorriblo monster.^ and lorril)lo wliirlpools ; liovrcrcr, this 
h not the case in the small straits between the little 
islands and Zabudiba. "With the other islands, on account 
of the horrors of" the deep, it is impossible to hold any 
communication. At present, however, the Burmans are 
beginning to lose faith in their geography ; and Buchanan 
always heard Britain spoken of in ^Imarapura as Pj/cc-f/j/e, 
or the Great Xiugdom.(l) 

"We have next to consider the nature of the living beings 
which, according to the Burmese, live in this world. (2) 
They are divided into three classes : Chama, or gene- 
rating beings ; llupa, or corporeal, but ungenerated and 
ungenerating beings ; and Arupa, or spirits. These three 
classes are again subdivided into thirty-one species. The 
Chama contains eleven species, seven happy and four 
imhappy. One of the happy states is man, and the re- 
maining six arc of the Nats, corporeal beings in every 
respect superior to men. The four unhappy states are 
infernal states, into which the sinful are sent to expiate 
their crimes in torment for a season. These are called 
Ape. The Eupa contains sixteen bou, or states, as they 
are called, and the Arupa foui*. 

The doctrine of metempsychosis, or transmigration of 
souls, is admitted by the Burmans, but is not precisely of 
the same character with that of the Hindoos, or the im- 
proved system promidgated by Pythagoras. They main- 
tain that the soul and body perish together, and that then 
a new body and soul are formed from the fragments, and 
that its nature agrees with the deservings of the indivi- 
dual. Thus every one gradually attains higher excellence, 
becoming successively a Nat, a Eupa, an Arupa, Sic, till 
at length the individual attains that high state of eternal 
calm known by the name of Nieban. 

Tliis state of existence has been generally translated 
anniliilation, and, as Crawfurd observes, (3) this miscon- 
ception has thrown *' an unmerited share of obloquy on 
the worship of Budd'ha." Dr. Buchanan remarks, that 
the term is very inaccurately translated ; (1) and Colc- 
brooke was the first to give a correct definition of it, in an 
essay on the Philosophy of Indian Sectaries. (5) Sanger- 
mano's definition I subjoin : — " This consists in an ahuost 

(1) As. Res. vol. vi. p. 1/8. (2) Sangermano, p. 6. 

(.3) Ava, vol. ii. Appendix, No. xi. p. 140, (4) As. Ucs, vol. vi. p. 180, 

(5) Truus. K. A. S. vol. i. p. m. 


perpetual ecstasy, in which those who attain it are not 
only free from the troubles and miseries of life, from 
death, illness, and old age, but arc abstracted from all 
sensation ; they have no longer a thought or desire." (1) 

Human life is continually on the decrease or the in- 
crease. At first men attained to an age which can only 
be conceived by this calculation, " It is said, that if it 
should rain continually for the space of three years over 
the whole world, which is 1,203,430 juzena in diameter, 
the number of drops of rain fallen in this time would ex- 
press the number of years that compose an assenchie,"(2) 
the term implying the whole period. But the wickedness 
of man caused his life to be more and more limited, and 
it reached at length to ten years only. From that time it 
increased, on their becoming more virtuous, and again 
they lived an assenchie. This increase and decrease is to 
be fulfilled sixty -four times before the destruction of the 
world. This variation is however limited to the in- 
habitants of Zabudiba. Space will not permit me to give 
the description I would of the northern island, where 
the Burman Utopia is placed. The philosophical inquirer 
will find it in Sangermano and Buchanan. 

The Nats, or genii, have their various seats in the inter- 
mediate space between Mienmo and the confines of the 
world, and live in different degrees of happiness and 
power. These** abodes of the Nats arc represented as very 
delightful, and it is thither that the devout Buddhist 
hopes to come. The four conditions of punishment arc, 
degradation into beasts ; Preitta, a state of sorrow re- 
sembling the Tartarus of the IleUenes ; the Assuriche, 
almost identical with Preitta ; and Niria, the actual hell 
of the Burmese. 

The transformation into beasts is reserved for those who 
do not keep a sufficient restraint over themselves, and 
who speak in a heedless and evil manner. Those who 
neglect to give alms, too, pass into this condition. An 
elephant fives sixty years, a horse thirty, an ox and a dog, 
ten, and upon this they base their calculations, (3) 

In the second state of punishment, Preitta, the con- 
demned are obliged to live upon disgusting filth, and 
inhabit sewers, cisterns, and tombs. Some wander naked 
through gloomy forests, making them re-echo with their 

(1) Dcscriptiou, p. 0. (2) Page 7- 

(3) Sangermano, p. 20. 


50 HESIOD'S definition of a NAT. [I. 3. 

lam en I at ions, exposed to storms, and faintin;j^ with Limj^cr 
and tliirst. Some plougli the unround Avith a ])loufrh of 
fire ; others feed on tlieir own flesh and blood, and tear 
themselves M^ith hooks ; and some are tormented by fire. 
Misers, uncharitable persons, persons who give alms to the 
wrong illaliaans or priests, are condemned to Preitta. 

Assuriche is very like Preitta in its punishments, only 
every torment is here more acute and frightful. Quarrel- 
some persons, strikers with weapons, advancers and 
abettors of bad men, are sent thither. 

In the fourth hell, Niria, the sufferings are by lire and 
cold. It is situated in the midst of the great stone Sila- 
patavi, and is divided into many hells. Here the worst of 
mankind are punished, and here sit the judges, selected 
from the dead, upon their peculiar expiation. The time of 
confinement in all these places is undecided, and very few, 
if any, are sentenced to eternal punishment. By good 
behaviour in all these places the sufferers may attain to 
the position of insects, and gradually rise through all gra- 
dations, and finally attain Nieban. (1) The crimes and 
their punishments are very whimsical, and some very 
horrid. Tliey are given at length in Sangcrmano. However, 
a spirit of mercy runs through all their dogmas, and, 
as already observed, every one may regain his lost 
position, though it is this southern island that is the most 
favoured ; for here only can the believer attain I\ ieban. 
The infidels only are condemned to eternal torment. 

I may conclude this account of the Biifman cosmo- 
graphy with a few lines of the oldest writer on Hellenic 
philosophy, in which a very tolerable description of the 
nature of the JSTat is given. 

When in the flark and dread abodes of earth, 

The men of earliest j^olden aj^e were laid, 

Their hones remained, hut, soarinf? to the sky. 

Their life- enduring souls fled far on hifrh ; 

Still hov'rinp: there above the realms of earth, 

Still lovinp much the land that prave tlicm birth, 

They kindly watch o'er the alfairs of men. 

Spirits beneficent, clad in the tilmy air. 

They take their rapid fliffht, and witli a lib'ral hand. 

Like kin{,'s, they scatter wealth and juslicc in their fatherland. (2) 

It may easily be conceived, from what I have had occa- 
sion to mention, that the Burman chronology is as wild 

(1) Sec Ranpcrmano and Malcom, vol. i. pp. 2.^9-201. 

(2) Hcsiod, Op. < t dIk.'^, lib. i. vv. rj(i-i25. The above mubt rather be 
called a paraphrase thau a blrict version. 


as any of tlic otlicr Tiulian cIivonolojTics.(l) According to 
them, in cv(Ty period (tlio age wliicli intervenes between 
one time, when the life of man amounts to an assenehie, 
and the next) there appears a royal being, who lives to an 
incalculable age, and assumes the title of Sumada. There 
have been eleven of these. The whole number of kings 
who have reigned since the last of these Sumadas to the age 
of Gaudama, is estimated at 334,569 ! The earhcst date 
in Burmese to which we can give any credence, is the 
beginning of the epoch in which the period of Gaudama, or 
Gautama, falls, corresponding with B.C. 661. The date 
of the birth of Gaudama is said to be B.C. 626. He was 
the son of Thoke-daw-da-reh, king of Ma-ge-deh, the 
present province of Behar, in Hindustan. His mother's 
name was Maha-Mai, or the Great Maia, a coincidence 
w hich has led to his identification with the Hermes of the 
Hellenes, and the Thoth of the Egyptians. The new-born 
child was nursed and baptized by two incarnate deities 
called Esrur-Tengri and Hurmusta-Tengri, and received 
the name of Artashidi (Artasidd'hi) ; his divine origin 
and perfections were made known by the bowing of the 
idol, before which he was presented, according to the 
custom of his father's family. (2) He had lived in four 
hundred millions of worlds before his present appearance, 
and, like any other inhabitant of the world, had gra- 
dually worked his way up through the state of beasts, 
and had been in every condition of human life. He 
exclaimed, immediately upon his birth, " Now I am the 
noblest of men ! This is the last time I shall ever be born ! " 
"When ten years of age he was placed under the care of 
a wise man, named Bahburemihbacshi, who instructed 
liim in every kind of knowledge : however, he soon seems 
to have outstripped his teacher, for we learn that sliortly 
afterwards he retaliated and taught the wise man fifty or 
sixty languages. At twenty he married, but either from 
the shrewishness of his wife, or some other cause, he 
expressed a desire to turn ancliorite, assumed the name of 
Gaudama, and gave himself up to the contemplation of 
the Deity. But for some reason or other he had great 
difficulty in following up his wishes, and it was not until 

(1) I have partly availed myself of the able summary of Crawfnrrl, 
vol. ii. p. 274 sq. ; as well as Malcom, vol. i. p. 28" sq. ; and Sangcrmano, 
p. 80 sq. 

(2) Encyclopedia Mctropolitaiia, vol. iii. Miscellaneous, p. 55. 

E 2 

52 GAUDAMA. [I. 3. 

some strenuous attempts that he finally combated all the 
arguments of his antagonists. This is not the place to go 
into the numerous disputes concerning this person, and 
I shall content myself with presenting the reader with 
the remarks of a writer in the Encyclopaedia Metro- 
politana. (1) 

" The Indian fable, therefore, may be assumed as the 
basis of the rest ; and the truth, concealed under this mass 
of fiction, seems to be simply this : that a son of the 
king of Magad'ha, whose rank and austerities had secured 
the veheration of his countrymen, had sense enough to 
perceive the absurdity of the Brahmanical system, and 
ability enough to persuade his countrymen to adopt his. 
The success of his new doctrine was such, that at one 
period it had nearly suppressed the ancient faith of the 
Hindus ; but when events, which we cannot now trace, 
had re-established the authority of the Brahmans, they 
showed that they were not behindhand in retaliation ; 
the followers of Budd'ha were persecuted without mercy, 
and scarcely an individual of that faith can now be found 
in Hindustan. Some of the fugitives appear to have 
taken refuge in Ceylon, while others fled into the moun- 
tains of Tibet. From Ceylon they conveyed their doc- 
trine to the eastern peninsula of India. From Tibet it 
travelled over Tatary to the north and west, into China 
on the east, and from thence into Cochin- China and the 
other regions on the south, where it is only divided by a 
lofty chain of mountains from its kindred faith, imported 
from the south and west into the kingdoms of Ava and 

He obtained Nicban, or died, B.C. 543,(2) At his death 
he advised that his relics and image should be wor- 
shipped and his law obeyed, until the appearance of the 
next Boodh or Budd'ha. This event is to take place 
in five or six thousand years. Tlie ordinances of Gau- 
dama are still in existence, although all the sayings of his 
three predecessors are lost. Gaudama's laws were handed 
down by tradition until four hundred and fifty years after 
his obtaining IS^ieban, when they were written down in 
A.D. Odf. The work, which is divided into three sections, 
having similar subdivisions, is called the Bedagat, and is 
written in PaU. The book in an entire state is rare, 

(1) Vol. iii. p. .5(5. 

(2) Priusep'a Tibet, Taxtary, aad Mongolia, p. 136 and l62 n. 


tlioui^li parts arc uot very scarce. The cosmo^rapliy, of 
whieii 1 have given a specimen, is contained in tlieni. 

The following hymns, translated by Csoma do Koros, 
will give a good idea of the Buddhistic ritual. (1) 

Priest. " There has arisen the Illuminator of the world ! 
the world's Protector ! the Maker of hght ! who gives 
eyes to the world, that is blind, — to cast away the burden 
of sin." 

Congregation. " Thou hast been victorious in the fight: 
thy aim is accomplished by thy moral excellence : thy 
\'irtues are perfect : Thou shalt satisfy men with good 

P. " Gotama (Sakhya) is without sin : He is out of the 
miry pit. He stands on dry ground." 

C. " Yes, He is out of the mire ; and he wiU save other 
animate beings, that are carried off by tlie mighty stream." 

P. " The living world has long suffered the disease of 
corruption. The Prince of physicians is come to cure men 
from all diseases." 

C. " Protector of the world ! by thy appearance all the 
mansions of distress shall be made empty. Henceforth, 
angels and men shall enjoy happiness," &c. &c. 

P. "To Thee, whose virtue is immaculate, whose un- 
derstanding is pure and brilliant, who hast the thirty -two 
characteristic signs complete, and who hast memory of all 
things, with discernments and foreknowledge." 

C. " Reverence be to Thee : we adore Thee ; bending 
our heads to our feet." 

P. "To Thee, who art clean and pure from all taint of 
sin; who art immaculate, and celebrated in the three 
worlds ; who being possessed of the three kinds of science, 
givest to animated beings the eye to discern the three de- 
grees of emancipation from sin." 

C. "Eeverencc be to Thee !" 

P. "To Thee, who with tranquil mind clearest the 
troubles of evil times : who, with loving kindness, teachest 
all living things to walk in the path designed for them." 

C\ " Keverence be to Thee !" 

P. "Muni! (Sage!) whose heart is at rest, and who 
delightest to explain the doubts and perplexities of men : 
who hast suffered much for the good of living beings : 
Thy intention is pure ! Thy practices are perfect !" 

(1) My immediate authority is Prinsep, ia Tibet, &c. pp. 14'2-M-l. 

51 BlTDDHIST CEE£D. [I. 3. 

C. " Eercrenco be to Thee ! " 

P. " Teacher of the four truths ; rejoice in salvation ! 
who, being thyself free from sin, desirest to free the 
Avorld from sin." 

a " Eeverence be to Thee !" 

Such is the strain in which the believers in Gaudama 
address their Saviour ; and its similarity to the Roman 
Catholic services, noticed by so many writers, is extreme. 
Prinsep well assigns the origin of the legend of Prester 
John to the accounts which the early missionaries heard 
of the Dalai Lama of Tibet. (1) 

The reformation which led to the establishment of 
Buddhism in the place of the ancient Hindu creed, was im- 
portant in many respects, but in none so much as in the 
grand principle which it instilled into the minds of its 
votaries ; the unity and indivisibility of the object of ado- 
ration, substituted for the gross polytheism of Hindustan. 
Put it has this fault, if it be a fault, that no clear concep- 
tion of the object of adoration is presented in the place 
of the numerous divinities the creed displaces. Gau- 
dama, like Confucius in China, is to be venerated, and 
not adored. The perfect Buddha whence Gaudama and his 
predecessors proceeded can alone be confided in. Even 
this, however, admits of some palliation. The vulgar, per- 
haps, could not understand, and certainly not appreciate, 
the mystery which the ministers of religion cherish and 
preserve. Consequently a scale has been instituted, like 
that in Tibet, for the capacity of the several classes of 

The general principles of the practical creed have been 
thus summed up by Csoma de Koros : (2) — 

1. To take refuge only with Buddha. 2. To be stead- 
fast in the determination of aiming at the highest pitcli 
of excellence, in order thus to arrive at the proper 
state of Nicban. 3. To be obedient and reverent 
toward Buddha. 4. To make pleasing offerings. 5. To 
glorify and exalt Buddha by music and singing, and 
constant praise. 6. To confess sin truly and humbly, 
with a fixed resolution to repent. 7. To wish well toward 
all. 8. To encourage the ministers of the faith in their 

Toong-kha-pa, an eminent Buddhist reformer of the 

(1) Tibet, Tartary, and Mongolia, p, 145. (2) Prinsep, p. 167. 


fonrtccnlli century, dofinecl the duty of ilio diflcrcnt 
classes of 33udd]iists in the followinjj^ manner.(l) 

*' jMen of the lowest order of mind must i)elievc that 
there is a God ; and that there is a future life, in which 
tliey will receive the reward or punishment of their actions 
and conduct in this life. 

" Men of the middle degree of mental capacity must 
add to the above, the knowledijjc that all things in this 
Morld are perishable ; that imperfection is a pain and de- 
gradation ; and that deliverance from existence is a dehver- 
ance from pain, and, consequently, a final beatitude. 

" Men of the third, or highest order, must believe in 
further addition : that nothing exists, or will continue 
always, or cease absolutely, except through dependence 
on a causal connection, or concatenation. So will they 
arrive at the true knowledge of God." 

" What is this," exclaims Prinsep, enthusiastically, 
" but Christianity, wanting only the name of Christ as its 
preacher, and the Mosaic faith for its antecedent ? It is 
these that the missionary must seek to add." 

The foundation of Buddhism is certainly rotten, and yet 
we cannot deny that in its recognised principles, the re- 
ligion is far from being so debasing as many others. Pre- 
judice, that great foe to toleration and peace, has prevented 
the perception of this fact. Of course, the lamentable 
truth of the generally lax administration of every faith, 
is no less false with regard to Buddhism ; and by the care- 
h'ssness of its ministers, and indifference of the laymen, 
it is in as bad odour as any other faith. Thus much for 
Buddhism in general ; novr I shall proceed to give a short 
account of Burman Buddhism. 

Gau(lama(2) declares himself God and Lord for 5,000 
years, during which time his ordinances must be kept. 
Gaudama declares himself the only true God, and states 
that there were many false gods of all descriptions. The 
doctrines of the false gods are called the laws of the six 
Deitti. Upon the appearance of Gaudama some renounced 
their errors, and others were conquered. The laws and 
ordinances of the Burmans are precisely similar to tliose 
which I mentioned in another place, (3) and therefore need 

(1)1 quote Prinsep's summary, p. lfi«t. (2) Sangpcrmano, p)). 80 ct sqq. 

(3) See my remarks on IJuddhism in Peking;:; Great Cities of tlie Ai\cient 
"World, p. 177. It may he interestinp: to compare the oatli of the witness 
at p. 2 », with tlie Buddhist treaUse, translateil from the C'liinesc by myself, 
in Uie siuuc work, pp. iHl-lsi. 


not be repeated here. The observer of these rommaiid- 
ments will finally become a great Nat or spirit. Besides 
the observation of these laws, there is merit in the deeds 
called Dana., and Bavana,. The first is charity to the priests, 
the second, the meditation of the three words Aneizz'a, 
Doecha, ilnatta. The transfjnressors of the laws vrill be 
condemned to Niria, or one of the other places of punish- 
ment. In the course of 2,000 years the ordinances of 
Gaudama, 3,0(X) years havinf]^ already elapsed, will no 
longer be binding, but another god will appear to give 
laws to the world. 

The images of Buddha or Gaudama are generally repre- 
sented with a pleasant countenance ; and, on the whole, 
his religion cannot be considered a severe one. " It 
unites," as Dr. Buchanan Hamilton has romarked,(l) " the 
temporal promises of the Jewish, with the future rewards 
of the Christian dispensation ; all its states of beatitude are 
represented in the glowing and attractive colouring of the 
Mohammedan paradise ; and its various gradations of 
future punishment have the plausibility of purgatory ; but 
its priests are not like those of the lioman Church, intnisted 
with the dangerous power of curtailing their duration. "(2) 

At Pegu, the deserted capital of the kingdom of that 
name, there is a celebrated temple, which Symes has well 
described in the Asiatic Hesearches, in an elaborate arti- 
cle on the city of Pegu, and it will not be inappropriate 
to transfer the account to my own pages :(3) — 

" The object in Pegu that most attracts and most 
merits notice is the temple of Shoe-ma-doo, or the Gulden 
Supreme. This extraordinary edifice is built on a double 
terrace, one raised above anotlier ; the lower and greater 
terrace is above ten feet above the natural level of the 
ground ; it is quadrangidar. Tlio upper and lesser terrace is 
of a like shape, raised abo\it twenty feet above the lower 
terrace, or thirty above the level of the country. I judged 
a side of the lower teri'ace to be 1,391 feet, of the upper, 
684; the walls that sustained the sides of the terraces, 
both upper and lower, are in a state of ruin ; the}^ were 
formerly covered with plaster, wrought into various 
figures ; the area of the lower is strewed with the frag- 
ments of small decayed buildings, but the upper is kept 

(1) As. Res. vol. vi. p. 255. 

(2) Encyclopaedia Mctroixilitaiia, art. Buddhism, p. 6o. 
(.3) As. Res. vol. V. p. 115 sq. 


free from filth, and in tolerably good order These 

terraces arc ascended by flights of stone steps, broken 
and neglected ; on each side are dwellings of the llahaans 
or priests, raised on timbers four or five feet from the 
ground; their houses consist only of a single hall — the 
wooden pillars that support them are turned with neat- 
ness, the roof is of tile, and the sides of shoathin^-boards : 
there are a number of bare benches in every nouse, on 
which the Eahaans sleep — we saw no other furniture. 

" Shoemadoo is a pyramid, composed of brick, and plas- 
tered with fine shell-mortar, Avithout excavation or aper- 
ture of any sort, octagonal at the base and spiral at top — 
each side of the base measures 162 feet; this immense 
breadth diminishes abruptly, and a similar building has 
not inaptly been compared to a large speaking-trumpet. 

" Six feet from the ground tliere is a wide ledge, 
which surroimds the base of the building, on the plane of 
which are fifty- seven small spii'es of equal size and equi- 
distant; one of them measured twenty-seven feet in 
height, and forty in circumference at the bottom ; on a 
higher ledge there is another row, consisting of fifty-three 
spires, of similar shape and measurement. A great variety 
of mouldings encircle the building, and ornaments, 
somewhat resembling the fleur-de-lys, surround what may 
be called the base of the spire ; circular mouldings like- 
wise gird this part to a considerable height, above which 
there are ornaments in stucco, not unlike the leaves of a 
Corinthian capital, and the whole is crowned by a tee, or 
umbrella of open iron-work, from which rises an iron rod 
with a gilded pennant. The iee, or umbrella, is to be 
seen on every sacred building in repair, that is of a spiral 
form. The raising and consecration of this last and indis- 
pensable appendage is an act of high religious solemnity, 
and a season of festivity and relaxation The cir- 
cumference of the tee is fifty-six feet ; it rests on an iron 
axis fixed in the building, and is further secured by large 
chains strongly riveted to the spire. Round the lower 
rim of the umbrella are appended a number of bells, of 
difierent sizes, which, agitated by the wind, make a con- 
tinual jingling. The tee is gilt, and it is said to be the 
intention of the king to gild the whole of the spire ; all 
the lesser pagodas are ornamented with proportionable 
umbrellas, of similar workmanship, which are likewise 
encircled by small bells. The extreme height of the 

58 BUBMESE ZA-TAT. [I. 3. 

builclinjT from the level of the country is 3G1 feet, and 
above the interior terrace 331 feet." 

I have been tlms particular in quotinjj this curious 
account, as I wish to impress upon my readers tlie neces- 
sity of comparinjT this place of worship with those de- 
scribed by myself in another place. (1) 

Crawfurd, the intelhgent ambassador, who unfortimately 
looked with too sinister an eye upon the institutions of the 
Burmese, has given us an interesting description of the 
appurtenances of a temple, together with a few remarks 
upon their endowment, of which I present the reader with 
a condensed abstract, epitomizing but little : — 

" Close to our dwelling," says the judicious observer, (2) 
" there was the neatest temple which I had yet seen in 
the country. It was quite unique, being entirely built of 
hewn sandstone. The workmanship was neat, but the 
polished stone was most absurdly disfigured by bein^ 
daubed over with whitewash. The temple itself is a soUd 
structure, at the base of a square form, each face mea- 
suring about eighty-eight feet. It is surrounded by a 
court, paved with large sandstone flags, and inclosed by a 
brick wall. At each comer of the area there is a large 
and handsome bell with an inscription. To the eastern 
face of the temple there are two open wooden sheds, each 
supported by thirty-eight pillars. These were among the 
richest things of the kind that I had seen in the country. 
The pillars, the carved work, the ceiling, the eaves, and a 
great part of the outer roof, were one blaze of gilding. 
In one of them only there was a good marble image of 
Gautama. Buildings of this description are called by the 
Burmans, Za-yat, or, in more coiTcct orthography, (3) 

Ja-rat On the west side of the temple there is a 

long, rudely-constructed wooden shed, where are depo- 
sited the offerings made by the king aud his family to the 
temple. These consist of two objects only, state palan- 
quins and figures of elephants The palanquins 

now alluded to are litters of immense size and weight, 
with two poles, and each requiring forty men to bear 

(1) See my essay on the "Ruins of American Civilisation," pp. 232-259, 
in Great Cities of the Ancient World, by my friend the Rev. T. A. Ruck- 
ley, B.A. ; also Prescott's Mexico, vol. i. p. 6o -, and Peru, vol. i. pp. yi-9l. 

(2) Ava, vol. i. p. :i92 sq. 

(:<) Will no one observe that "correct orlliogrraphy" is tautology, and 
" false ortl\oj>:rai>hy " a coiitradicUou? IIow c:ui uiir lanjjuage be pure 
under such cu'cumstanecs ? 


them. They are all richly gilt and carved, with a high 
wooden canopy over them. In each of those in the temple 
there was placed one or more large fifjiires of Gautama or 
his disciples. The figures of elephants are about a foot 

and a half high, stranding upon wooden pedestals 

Why the gifts to this temple in particular consist of 

elephants, I was not able to learn On the river 

face of this temple there arc two large houses of brick 
and mortar, of one story, with flat stone roofs, called 
Taik, by the Burmans, and purporting to be in imitation 
of European dwellings. These are also considered Za-yats, 
or caravanseras. They are comfortless places as can be, 
the interior being so occupied with stone pillars that there 

is hardly room to move about The guardian Nat 

of the temple now described, is Tha-kya-men, or, more 
cori'ectly, Sa-kya-men, or the lord Sakya. He is, ac- 
cording to the Burmans, the second in power of the two 
kings of the Nats. Of this personage there is, in a small 
temple, a standing figure, in white marble, not however 
of a very good description, measuring not less than nine 
feet eleven inches high. The statue seems to bo of one 
entire block." 

This temple is named Aong-mre-lo-ka, a title signifying 
the " place of victory." — It was bmlt by King Men-ta-ra- 
gyi, in the year 1144 of the Burman era, or a.d. 1782, in 
the second year of his reign. He was the fourth son of 
the energetic Alompra, the founder of the dynasty which 
still occupies the throne. Alompra was succeeded by his 
first and second brother, and by his nephew, Senku-sa, 
son of the latter. His uncle, however, conspired against 
him, raised the son of the elder brother, Maong-maong, 
to the regal dignity, who had been excluded from the 
throne, partly by reason of the law of succession, and 
partly by the ambition of his uncle. In a few days, how- 
ever, he, after drowning Senku-sa, and probably disposing 
in a like manner of Maong-maong, assumed the govern- 
ment, "and, in thanks to heaven for the success of his 
ambitious schemes, he built this temple on the spot 
whence he had commenced his successfid agitation. (1) 

I shall have occasion hereafter to return to the subject 
of the Burmese temples, in connection with the Golden 
Uagon temple atliangoon; I shall, therefore, say no more 

(I) I am indebted to Crawfurd, vol. i. p. 397. 


of tliem in this place. Two cxirious monuments, however, 
deserve mentioning, as they have evidently some connec- 
tion with the ancient religion of Burmah. I shall again 
use the words of an eye-witness :(1) — 

" On the summit of a steep tongue of land I found a 
large circular opening, about fifty feet deep, caused by the 
earth having given way ; there beiug no apparent reason 
for this, unless an excavation existed, I immediately de- 
scended into the valley, in hopes of finding an opening at 
the side of the hill. After a short search, I discovered 
tliree small brick arches, about four feet high, leading 
into the hill ; having crept into one of these, I perceived, 
by a ray of light issuing from the aperture above, that 
there were several more passages branching ofi" from the 
spot where I remained ; and I therefore detennined on re- 
turning at some future period with a lantern, to examine 
the cavern. On subsequently renewing my search, I 
found that after creeping along the passage from the arch 
for about five yards, the communication entered a small 
chamber, sufficiently high to enable me to stand erect, 
whence four other passages led oflf in different directions ; 
and it was from one of these having given way that the 
chasm had been formed in the hill. As the quantity of 
earth requisite to fill up the passage could not have caused 
such a large hollow above, it may be concluded that a 
room of considerable dimensions must have existed there. 
Notwithstanding the annoyance I experienced from 
many bats, which were constantly flying about my face 
and lantern, and from the heat, which was very oppres- 
sive, I proceeded on my hands and knees down the other 
passages ; but, after going a very short distance, was 
obliged to return, the earth having fallen and filled tip the 
gaUery so very much, that it did not seem prudent to 
proceed further, particularly as, from the closeness of the 
air, I might have been rather unpleasantly situated." 

This same officer saw another such structure on the 
plain of Pagahm, among the ruins ; but finding that it was 
used as a robber's cavern, he did not explore it. From 
what he could see, it was larger, and in better repair. 

The priests of Burmah (2) are named Pongyees, mean- 
ing " great example," or " great glory." The Pali name, 

(1) Two Years in Ava, pp. 26-2 sqq. This most iiitcrestinp: work seems 
fVeer from prcjuilicc tliaii many of its more assuming bretliren. 

(2) I am chiefly indebted to Molconi, vol. i. p. 308 sq. 

I. 3.] PRIESTS. 61 

" Ealian," or ''holy man," onco so miicli in use among 
them, is now almost obsolete. The office is Jiot hereditary, 
for the Burmans are unshackled by castes ; and, indeed, a 
priest may become a layman again, though after re-entering 
society he may not again assume the sacerdotal position. 
Thus the convenls of Burmah serve as a place where an 
education superior to that usually obtained in the schools 
may be received, and the young man, not being bound by 
any vow, may return to the active scenes of life, and take 
military or pohtieal rank. If the youth find the peaceful 
pursuits of the convent more to his taste, he can remain, 
and become a priest. The system of the priesthood is 
not badly managed. The Burmans have no church-rates, 
and 'pluralism, not being worth anything, is, of course, 
unknown. The priests have no political influence, and are 
only consulted on ecclesiastical and literary matters ; they 
live on the charity of their parishioners, and, on the 
whole, they do not appear to be badly off". 

The ritual, for which I must refer the reader to my fre- 
quently quoted authority Sangermano,(l) is very strict in 
regard to priests ; that, however, is of no consequence, 
for in the foul and corrupted Burmese empire all these 
institutions have fallen into disrepute. The priests live 
as those of the convents of the middle ages did ; and the 
similarity between the Roman Catholic and Buddhist 
ceremonies, so amply proved by MM. Hue and Gabet,(2) 
extends equally to the men. 

Their dress is of a yellow colour, and is formed by two 
cloths, which are so wrapped around them as to com- 

?letely envelop them from the shoulders to the heels, 
'heir heads are shaved, and to shade the bare poll from 
the burning sun, they carry a talipot or palmyra-leaf in 
their hands. In M. Dubois de Jancigny's Indo-Chine, 
and in Malcom, there are plates of the dress, which convey 
a very tolerable idea of the look of a priest out walking. 

The priesthood of Burmah is divided mto regular 
grades, like those of Europe. I shall quote the summary 
of Malcom in preference to any other. (3) " The highest 
functionary is the T/ia-thcna-hi/ng\ or archbishop. He 
resides at Ava, has jurisdiction over all the priests, and 
apponits tlie president of every monastery. He stands 
high at court, and is considcrea one of the great men of 

(I) Pages 89-94 J but see also Malcom, /. r. 
(2) Travels in Tartary. (3) Malcom, vol. i. p. 315 sq. 


the kincjdom. Next to him are the Fonghcc'^, strictly bo 
called, one of whom presides in each monastery. Next 
are the Oo-jje-zins, comprising those who have passed the 
noviciate, sustained a regular examination, and chosen the 
priesthood for life. Of this class are the teachers or pro- 
fessors in [the monasteries. One of them is generally 
vice-president, and is most likely to succeed to the head- 
ship on the demise of the Toncjyee. Both these orders 
are sometimes called Rahaiis, or Yahans. They are con- 
sidered to understand religion so Trell as to think for 
themselves, and expound the law out of their own hearts, 
without being obliged to follow what they have read in 
books. Next are the Ko-yen-ga-lay, who have retired 
from the world, and wear the yellow cloth, but are not all 
seeking to pass the examination, and become Oo-pe-zins. 
They have entered for an education, or a liveUhood, or to 
gain a divorce, or for various objects ; and many of such 
return annually to secular hfe. Many of this class remain 
for life without rising a grade. Those who remain five years 
honourably are called Tay, i.e. simply, priests ; and those 
who remain twenty, are Maha Tay, great or aged priests. 
They might have become Ponghees at any stage of this 
period if their talents and acquirements had amounted to 
the required standard. By courtesy, all who wear the 
yellow cloth arc called Ponghees." 

In some parts of Burmah there are also nunneries, 
though the Bedagat neither authorizes nor requires them ; 
indeed, manifestoes have been issued by several of the 
kings of Ava to prevent women under a certain age from 
entering these institutions. (1) On the subject of the 
khyoums, however, I cannot do better than refer to the 
works of MM. Hue and Gabet, Mr. Priuscp, and others. 

The most interesting and most characteristic ceremony 
of these Burmese is the funeral of a priest, as it contains 
a mixture of solemnity and absurdity rarely to be met 
witli anywhere. I shall proceed, tlierefore, to describe it. 

When a Bunnan priest dies, his body is embalmed. 
The process of embalming is conducted in the follo^wing 
manner. The body is opened, the intestines taken out, 
and the spaces filled with various descriptions of spices, 
the orifice being closed up again, and sewed together. 
After this the whole body is covered by a layer of wax, to 

(!) Encyclopaedia Mctropolitaiia, s.v. Budclliisra, p. 6l. 


prevent tlio air from injuring it ; over tlic wax is placed a 
layer of lac, toiijetlier with some bituminous compound, 
and tlic whole is covered with leaf j?old. The ceremony 
somewhat reminds one of the description jriven by Herodo- 
tus of ancient Egyptian embalming. (1) The arms are laid 
across the breast of the body. The preparation of the 
body takes place at the house. (2) 

About a year afterward the body is removed to a house 
built expressly for such purposes, where it is kept until 
the other priests order it to be burnt. In this house the 
body is disposed upon a raised stage of bamboo and wood, 
and the house itself is ornamented with paper and leaf 
gold. By the stage, the cofBn, overlaid with gold and 
painted with figures of death in various ways, was placed. 
In the courtyard of the house two four-wheel carriages 
await the time fixed for the burning, one being intended 
for the coffin, the other for the stage, with its apparatus. 
The carriage on which the coi-pse is placed has another 
stage built upon it, similar to the one in the house, with 
the difference of its being larger, and fixed upon an 
elephant in a kneeling posture. 

The people of the place have to prepare rockets and 
other fireworks, as well as images of animals to which the 
rockets are fixed. The images are then drawn through 
the streets and round the town ; all the citizens, when the 
ceremonies are strictly observed, being compelled to 
assist. The procession opens with some fiags ; then a 
number of dancing girls and boys follow ; after this llic 
carriages with the figures, drawn by boys and bullocks ; 
and on the occasion which Mr. Carey describes, there fol- 
lowed, by tlie express command of the governor, a quan- 
tity of young women " dancing and singing, with an 
older woman between each row to keep them in order." 
Then came the principal persons of the place under 
umbrellas, a sign of rank, as in ancient Nineveh, and all 
modem Asiatic countries. Lastly, the procession was 
closed by men, dancing and singing in like manner. 

The images on the carriages are usually very large, 
much larger than life, and represented buffaloes, ele- 
pliants, horses, and men. Each street attends its oun 
carriage in the procession. 

(0 Lib. ii. cr. s6-!)n. 

(2) I ain indebted to an account by Mr. Caicy in Asiatic Researches, 
vol. xvi. p. 186 sq. 


The followinf^ day the townspeople are divided into two 
parties, and strange indeed must be the sight of the mul- 
titude. The carriage containing the corpse has four large 
cables attached to it, and tlie two parties of the towns- 
people pull against one another, and strive to draw away 
the carriage and its contents. This contest is continued 
till superior strength puts an end to it, or till the cable 
breaks, and the losing party tumble head over heels. 

The third day is spent in discharging the rockets. The 
figures were fixed on carriages, and the rocks were fas- 
tened to strong ropes by rattan loops, in such a manner 
that being passed between the legs of the animals, " so 
that when discharged, they, slidiug on the ropes, ran 
along the ground." In the evening there is another 
grand display of fireworks. 

The next day the corpse is burnt in a temporary house 
by small rockets, which, sliding down on to the coffins 
along ropes in rings of rattan, set the coffin on fire. 
Sometimes, as we are. informed by Crawfui'd, (1) the body 
is blown from a cannon to convey it more quickly to 
heaven ! 

"Wliat can be said of such puerility and solemnity 
joined together ? How melancholy is the aspect of such 
things, and what can we think of the moral or religious 
condition of a nation who made such seeming fun (for 
under what other term can a large portion of the cere- 
mony be comprehended?) of the solemnest moment of 
existence, and that, too, in the burial of a minister of that 
God to whom, in humility and reverence, they Hfted up 
their hearts in prayer. Very often, however, the most 
solemn and the most trivial are mingled in very remark- 
able proportions. We have one example of that, at 
least, in religion, nearer home. 

The Buddhist religion is remarkable in many points, 
but decidedly the most curious circumstance connected 
with it, is the vast numbers of believers which own its 
intlucncc. That the religion is ancient, perhaps more 
ancient than any other "form of eastern worship, except 
Brahmanism, can scarcely be doubted; but that it extended 
so far over the earth as some would have us believe, is 
scarcely credible. Kcuben Burrow, a long time ago, 
called Stonehenge 'a Buddhist temple ; and since then the 

(1) Ava, vol. ii. p. V27. 


notion has been revived by Iliggins iu liis Celtic Diniids, 
as well as in another work. (1) 

Mr. Poeoeke, too, the author of India in Greece, 
would persuade us that the early Greeks were Buddliists, 
and that Pythagoras, correctly written (according to him) 
13uddha-gooroos (Buddha's spiritual teacher), was a Bud- 
dhist missionary ! 

However, let the religion be ancient or modern, in prin- 
ciple it is one of the best that man ever made for man. 
Mr. Malcom, from whom as a missionary one would of 
course expect rabid intolerance, bears testimony to this : — 
** There is scarcely a principle, or precept, in the Bedagat, 
which is not found in the Bible. Did the people but act 
up to its principles of peace and love, oppression and 
injury would be known no more within their borders. Its 
deeds of merit are in all cases either really beneficial to 
mankind, or harmless. It has no mythology of obscene 
and ferocious deities ; no sanguinary or impure obser- 
vances ; no self-inflicted tortures ; no tyrannizing priest- 
hood ; no confounding of right and wrong, by making 
certain iniquities laudable in worsliip. In its moral code, 
its descriptions of the purity and peace of the first ages, 
of the shortening of man's life because of its sins, &c., it 
seems to have followed genuine traditions. In almost 
every respect it seems to be the best rehgion which man 
has ever invented." (2) 

It is true there is another side to the picture ; but why 
should we turn the face to tlie wall, and expose the tat- 
tered back ? Let us leave it as it is, but let us recollect that 
the ill side is there, and make the recollection atone for 
many faidts in the character of the worshippers of 

(1) The Anacalypsis, vol. i. p. 93. I may here take occasion to remark, 
that the author ot India in Greece, Mr. Pococke, to whose enthusiastic 
labours I would do all the justice iu my power, has not, in any i)art of that 
work, acknowledi^ed the manifold obligations under which he lies to the 
author of the Anacalypsis. I make this remark more h\ self-defence than 
otherwise, for, upon my attention havinjc been lately turned to Godfrey 
Hil^rt^ns's work, I there found my own theory of the population of 
America anticipated, though not worked out in the mamicr it mipht be 
done. 1 must own this, as I am anxious to avoid the imputation of 
pldpiarism. However, I find myself amply corroborated in some of my 
own researches ; but tlie writer's whole feelings merge into a love of every 
kind of mystical foolery that man has ever imagined. 

(,2) Malcom, vol. i. p. 321 sq. 


Langriiage — Literature — Manuscripts — The Aporazabon — Superstitions — 
Divination — The Deitton — Astronomy — Division of time. 

Of a literature and language so little known as tliat of 
Bui-mali, a notice, of course, can but be brief. The few 
particulars with, which we are acquainted, I will, however, 
oflfer to the reader. 

The sacred books are in a language usually called 
Pah, which denomination, Mr. Wilson contends, should 
only be apphed to the character. He proposes that the 
name of the language should be Magadeh or Puncrit, 
corresponding to the terms Magari and Sanscrit. He 
informs us, also, that the language differs from Sanscrit in 
enunciation only, , being softer, and liquifying all the 
harsh sounds. (1) With this language we have but little 
to do, as it is only the language of the priests, and not 
that of the whole population. A grammar of the Pali has 
been published at Colombo, with a vocabulary attached. (2) 

The Burman language is very different from the other 
Oriental languages. The character is very simple, and 
easily written. The vowels are eleven, and the con- 
sonants thirty-three, but the combinations are excessively 
numerous. All pure Burman words are monosj'llabic, so 
pointing to a similar fountain-head as the Chinese ; in 
process of time, however, polysyllables, derived from the 
JPali, have crept in, and given a somewhat different com- 
plexion to the language. Like some other languages, the 
number, person, mood, and tense, are formed by suffixes, a 
system of grammar much simpler than the difficult in- 
flected languages. But the great difficulty is in the number 
of verbs, signifying the same thing with a very slight dif- 
ference. Malcom well instances the verb to wash : " One 

(1) My immediate authority is Malcom. vol. i. p. 278. 

(2) Pali Granmiar, with a copious vocabulary in the same lang:uage. By 
the Rev. B. Clough, 8vo. Colombo. 1824. 


is used for wasliiniT the face, anotlier for wasliinpj tlie 
hands, another for washing Hnen in mere water, another 
for washing it with soap, another for washing dishes, 
&c." (1) The national Mavor is the " Them-bong-gyee," 
a very ancient and complete work. The books publislied 
by iSuropeans on the subject are, a Dictionary of the 
Burman Language, with explanations in English ; com- 
piled from the MSS. of A. Judson, &c. 8vo. Calcutta, 1826. 
Carey's Burman Grammar ; Serampore, 1815. Laner's 
Burmese Dictionary; Calcutta, 1841. Latter's Burman 

" The rudiments of education," observes Malcom,(2) 
"are widely diffused : and most men, even common la- 
bourers, learn to wi'ite and read a little. But few go 
beyond these attainments." What a different picture 
does this present to the assertions of Lieutenant-Colonel 
Symes, who exalts tlie Burmans to such a pitch of mental 
cultivation. This is, however, in no slight degree owing 
to the character of their literature, which, however inte- 
resting to the observer of the rise of human civilisation, 
has nothing in it of permanent value to the people, as the 
account which I shall give of the Museum collection will 
amply show. I do not mean to say that they have not 
treatises on many subjects of science, and many interest- 
ing histories ; but their books, for the most part, consist of 
bsdlads,ilegends of Gaudama, astrology, and cosmography; 
an idea of the value of which has already been given. 

The MSS. in the British Museum of which I shall first 
give an account, form the Tytler Collection, as it may be 
called, nmning from No. 10,548 to No. 10,572 of the 
Additional MSS., and was presented to the library by John 
Tytler, Esq., on the 9th July, 1836. Unfortmiately, tlie 
Museum authorities are not acquainted with the contents 
of them ; for which reasons the reader must be contented 
with the meagre account I can offer. The MSS., of which 
we have a magnificent collection in the British Museum, are 
written upon palm-leaves of fifteen to eighteen inches in 
length. The wTiting upon them looks more like a series 
of scratches with a fine-pointed instrument than anytliing 
else. They are written upon both sides, and two spaces 
are left, in order to admit of strings being passed through 
the volume to keep the leaves together. These strings 

(1) Malcom, vol. i. p. 277. (2) Vol. i. p. 277- 

F 2 

68 MANCSCKTPTS. [1.4. 

fasten witli "svooden tags. Occasionally a large space is 
left unwritten upon, and a third of the leaf is only used. 
The book, when closed and fastened with tags, presents a 
singular appearance. Ii is outwardly divided into three 
divisions, of which the two outside are gilt, and the middle 
painted with a ghstening, Hary red. A pattern ruus 
along the edge of the red portion. No. 10,548 contains, as 
nearly as I can judge, three hundred and twelve such leaves, 
forming a volume of about ten inches in thickness. The 
Museum carefully preserve these MSS. in a cardboard 
case, which prevents their being spoiled by dust and dirt. 
No. 10,550, a very thin MS., consisting of but eleven 
leaves, appears to contain astrological calculations. It is 
not nearly in such good preservation as the large one. 

The instrument used in writing upon these MSS. is 
sometimes (as one of those in the British Museum, ^i'^- 
sented by John Barlow Hay, Esq., in 1839) of brass, and 
is eighteen inches in length ; it has a decorated top, and a 
very sharp point. The ink-pot used would appear to be 
somewhat deep, as the sii/his is covered with ink for two 
or three inches. 

In one of the cases there are several gorgeous MSS., 
one written on five palm-leaves of about the usual length, 
in the Bui'mese character (which differs some\\ hat from 
the Pali). It is written on a gold ground, and is adorned ( ? ) 
with figures of Gaudama. The covers are of wood, and 
are ornamented. This MS. contains the fii'st book of the 

The second is on a silver ground, in the Burmese cha- 
racter, on palm-leaves, and] was presented in 1771 by 
Mrs. Mead. There is another MS., in the same case, of 
the Kammavaca, the first and the fourth books. It is 
profusely gUded. The character is the square Pali. The 
, Kammavaca is one of the most esteemed rituals of the 
Buddhist priesthood. 

The other manuscripts are not so fine as those I have 
mentioned, and present similar characteristics to the infe- 
rior sort that I have described above. It is much to be 
regretted that we have scarcely an Orientalist in England 
who can unfold to us the meaning of these MSS. Never, 
in any institution, was a richer bait held out to the scholar 
than at the Musemu at the present time, and yet there 
are but one or two gentlemen capable of instructing us 
upon this interesting and important point. The Museum 


authorities tlioniselvos rocjrot, "svitli tlic rest of srliolavdom, 
that so lav^e a ])ortion of their Oriental collection is still 
a dead letter to them. If the present war be produetive 
of no better result, let us hope that it will cause some one 
able to translate and comment on these MSS. to turn his 
attention to this subject, and give his researches to an 
expectant world. (1) 

It may not be uninteresting to append a portion of a list, 
kindly placed at my disposal by Sir Frederick Madden, of 
some of the ascertained ]3urmese Buddhistic MSS., among 
tlie Additional MSS. in the British Museum. 'No. 18,753: A 
Burmese MS. containing the Sut Silakkham, a part of the 
second division, or Sutrapituka, of the Buddhistic Scrip- 
tures, translated from the Pali. No. 15,240. Burmese 
translation of a portion of the Kammavaca, or Kamma- 
vjicha. This was presented by the earl of Enniskillen on 
the 10th July, 1844', and is written in dark browa 
letters, on an ivory plate about fifteen inches in length. 
No, 17,945 : The Tika Kavisara Nissaza, a Burmese trans- 
lation of a Pali commentary on a Buddhistic work called 
Kavi-Sara, or the Essence of the Poets. No. 17,700 : 
Part of a Burmese translation of a Buddhistic legend. 
This MS. is bound in wood, profusely gilt. No. 17,099 : 
A religious treatise in Burmese, on the dilTereut sorts of 
punishment in this life. 

•• The original," observes Buchanan, (2) " of most of the 
Burma books on law and religion is in the Pali, or Pale 
language, which, undoubtedly, is radically the same with 
the Sanscrit. I was assured at Amarapura that the Pali 
of Siam and Pegu differed considerably from that of the 
Burnias ; and an intelligent native of Tavay, who had 
been at Cingala, or Candy, the present capital of Ceylon, 
and at the ruins of Anuradapura, the former capital, 
assured me that the Pali of that island was considerably 
different from that of Ava. 

I "In many inscriptions, and in books of ceremony, such 
as the Kammua, the Pali language is written in a square 
character, somewhat resembling the Bengal Sanscrit, and 
called Magata. Of this a specimen may be seen in the 
description of the Borgian Museum by Paulinus. ('-)) But 

(1) I must not in this place forpct to thank the gentlemen at the Museum 
for the ai'l tliey so courteously and willinjjly gave me in my examination 
of their Burmese MSS. 

(2) Asiatic Researches, vol, vii. p. 305 sq. (3) Page 15. 


in general it is written in a round character, nearly re- 
sembling the Burmah letters. Of this kind is the speci- 
men given by the accurate M. De la Loubere, and which 
some persons have rashly conceived to be the Burmah. 
There is no doubt, however, that all the different cha- 
racters of India, both on the west and on the east of the 
Ganges, have been derived from a common source ; and 
the Burmah writing on the whole appears to be the most 
distinct and beautiful. 

" In their more elegant books the Burmas write on 
sheets of ivory, or on very fine white palmira leaves. The 
ivory is stained black, and the margins are ornamented 
with gilding, while the characters are enamelled or gilded. 
On the palmira leaves the characters are in general of 
black enamel, and the ends of the leaves and margins are 
painted with flowers in various bright colours. In their 
more common books, the Burmas, with an iron style, 
engrave their writings on palmira leaves. A hole through 
both ends of each leaf, serves to connect the whole into a 
voliune by means of two strings, which also pass through 
the two wooden boards that serve for binding. In the 
finer binding of these kind of k^books the boards are 
lacquered, the edges of the leaves cut smooth and gilded, 
and the title is written on the upper board ; the two 
cords are, by a knot or jewel, secured at a little distance 
from the boards, so as to prevent the book from ialling to 
pieces, but sufficiently distant to admit of the upper 
leaves being turned back, while the lower ones are read. 
The more elegant books are in general ^vrapped up in silk 
cloth, and bound round by a garter, in which the Bur- 
mas have the art to weave the title of the book." 

Like the ancients, almost every Burman " carries with 
him a paraivaik, (1) in which he keeps his accounts, 
copies songs till he can repeat them from memory, and 
takes memorandums of anything curious. It is on these 
l^arawaiks that the zares or writers, in all courts and 
public offices, take down the proceedings and orders of 
the superior officers, from thence copying such parts as 
are necessary into books of a more durable and elegant 
nature. The parawaik is made of one sheet of thick and 
strong paper blackened over. A good one may be about 
eight feet long and eighteen inches wide. It is folded 

(1) I (lu nut know but that this ought to be written parueek,— Buchanan. 


up somewhat like a fan, each fold or page being 
about six inches, and in length the whole breadth 
of the sheets. Thence, wherever the book is opened, 
whichever side is uppermost, no part of it can be nibbed 
but the two outer pages, and it only occupies a table 
one foot in width by eighteen inches long. The Burmas 

wrrite on the paraioaih with a pencil of steatites 

When that which has been written on a parmoaik be- 
comes no longer useful, the pages are rubbed over with 
charcoal and the leaves of a species of dolichos ; they are 
then clean as if new, and equally fit for the pencil." (1) 

It will not be amiss to pursue the usual plan that I 
have proposed to myself, and in every practicable case to 
illustrate the literature of a nation by extracts from some 
one of its approved works. Fortunately, the missionary 
Sangermano has supphed me with the means of doing so, 
which would otherwise have failed. I cannot do better, 
therefore, than quote from that ^vriter his account and 
extracts from one of their volumes. It will, I suppose, 
furnish as fair a specimen of their literature as any which 
can be offered. 

" Among these books," says Sangermano, " the one 
called Aporazabon deserves to be placed the first ; it is a 
species of romance, in which the principal character is 
Aporaza, an old minister, to whom the emperor, and 
several mandarins, put a number of questions on the 
science of government. To give my readers some idea of 
this work, I will here translate some extracts. (2) 

" One day the emperor asked Aporaza what he meant 
to do to render his kingdom flourishing and populous ; 
the old minister replied, that, in the first place, he must 
have the success of all his subjects in their affairs at 
heart, as much as if they were his own. 2. He should 
diminish the taxes and ciochi. 3. In putting on imposts he 
should have regard to the means of his subjects. 4. He 
must be liberal. 5. He must frequently inquire into the 
affairs of his kinn^dom, and make himself fully acquainted 
with them. 6. He must love and esteem nis good and 
faithful servants. 7. Finally, he should show courtesy and 
affability, both in his manners and words, to all persons. 
He ought, moreover, to take measures that the population 
of his kingdom is augmented, and that his government 

(1) Huchauan, iii Asiatic Researches, vol. vi. p. 307- 

(2) Description, p. 141 et sqq. 


acquire honour and respect among foreign nations ; he 
should not molest the rich, but, on the contrary, should 
encourage their industry- and promote their interests ; he 
should show a proper regard to his generals and minis- 
ters, who govern in the name of the emperor, for it is not 
seemly that they should be publiclj' disregarded and ill- 
treated ; he shoidd not despise prudent and careful men ; 
and, finally, he should be just and moderate in exacting 
tributes, and should always proportion them to the pro- 
ducts of agriculture and commerce. As a confirmation of 
this precept, he refers to the fruits of the earth, when 
eaten before they are ripe. ' You see,' he says, ' that the 
fruits which are gathered ripe from the tree, are well- 
flavoured and pleasant to the taste ; but when they are 
plucked before they have ripened, they are insipid, and 
sour, and bitter. Rice that is taken at its proper season 
is excellent food, but if it is collected before its time, it is 
devoid of substance and nutriment.' He then advises 
the emperor not to shut up his kingdom ; that is to say, 
that he ought to allow all foreign merchants a free 
entrance, to encourage their commerce, and make it 

flourish Another time, when two petty kings 

had declared war against each other, they both had 
recourse to the Burmese monarch for assistance. Accord- 
ing to his custom, the emperor sent for Aporaza, who 
spoke thus on the occasion : — ' It once happened that two 
cocks of equal strength began fighting in the presence of 
a countryman ; after continuing their combat for some 
time, they were so overcome by their exertions, that they 
were unable to do anything more, when the coj.mtryman 
sprang upon tliem, and made himself master of them 
])otli. Thus ought you, O king ! to do at present. Let 
these two princes fight with each other till you see that 
their resources are exhausted, and then, pouncing upon 
them, seize upon their teri'itories for yourself.' 

"A man of mean extraction was raised by the elTorts of 
an old mandarin to the throne. But the mandarin after- 
wards became overbearing, and even tried to be in some 
measure the master of the emperor. The latter bore all 
this for some time, but at length, growing wear}- of this 
insolence, he determined to rid himself of his importunate 
minister. AVherefore, one da}^ that he was surrounded 
by a number of his mandarins, among whom was the one 
who had raised him to the throne, he directed liis dis- 


course to him, and asked him •what they do •wllli tlio zen, 
%\ hich are erected round the pagodas, after tlie gilding 
and painting are finished, for which they were raised ; for 
the zen is a scaflblding of bamboo, or thick cane, serving 
to support tlie gilders and painters of the pagodas. * They 
are taken down and carried away,' repHed the old man- 
darin, ' that tliey may not obstruct the view of the 
pagoda, or spoil its beauty.' 

" 'Just so,' replied the monarch, ' I have made use of 
you to ascend the throne, as the gilders and painters 
make use of the zen ; but now that I am firmly seated in 
it, and am obeyed as emperor by all, and respected by 
all, you are become useless to me, or rather your presence 
only disturbs my peace.' He then drove him from his 
palace, and sent him in banishment to a village. One 
da3^ while this mandarin was yet in banishment, a dread- 
ful tempest arose ; in the course of which, looking out 
into the country, he observed that the great trees, which 
resisted the force of the wind, were not bent, but broken 
or torn up by its fury ; while the grass and the canes, 
yielding before the blast, returned to their original posi- 
tion the moment it was gone by. ' Oh,' said the man- 
darin, within himself, ' if I had followed the example of 
these canes and this grass, I should not now be in so 
miserable a condition.' " 

Among a semi-civihsed people (and look on them as we 
may, the Burmans are no more), superstition ever has a 
powerful, almost unassailable hold upon the public mind. 
The vague dread of future existence, the indefinable curi- 
osity which tempts man to search, by his own endeavours, 
for the ultimate end of all his strivings on earth, is to be 
found more closely allied to a feeling of scientific appre- 
ciation among such a people than anywhere else. The 
imperfect comprehension of what is passing around, leads 
the untutored mind ever to trench on the supernatural 
world, of the existence of which he has an innate percep- 
tion. But having no clear knowledge, unable perhaps to 
express his forebodings in a distinct and comprehensible 
manner, he runs to the priest, or the learned man, and, 
expecting a knowledge of futurity to be part of his 
learning, asks what the fate may be to which he is 
destined. The wise man, anxious to keep up a reimtatiou 
for superior knowledge, invents something from the cir- 
cumstances in which he knows the person to be placed. 


Subsequently he systematizes and arranges these notions, 
connecting them with the stars, those high and -wonderful 
lights that unceasingly pass on in an ever-determined 
cycle above our heads. Such would seem to have been 
the origin of astrology. 

Divination is universally credited by the Burmese, and 
Dr. Buchanan's picture, so melancholy as showing to what 
extent priestcraft obtained among them in his time (and 
it is probably not much decreased in their estimation 
now), is too interesting to be omitted in this place : — 

" No person will commence the building of a house, a 
journey, or the most trifling imdertaking, without con- 
sulting some man of skill to find a fortunate day or hour. 
Friday is a most unlucky day, on which no business must 
be commenced. I saw several men of some rank, who had 
got from the kin^ small boxes of thcriac, or something 
like it, and which they pretended would render them 
invulnerable. I was often asked for medicines that would 
render the body impenetrable to a sword or musket-ball, 
and on answering that I knew of none such, my medical 
skill was held in very low estimation. Indeed, every 
Burman doctor has at the end of his book some charms, 
and what are called magical squares of figures, which he 
copies, and gives to be worn by Ins patients. And although 
these squares are all of uneven numbers, and consequently 
of the easiest construction, yet the ignorant miiltitude 
repose great confidence in their virtue. Some men, whom 
we saw, had small bits of gold or jewels introduced under 
the skin of their arms, in order to render themselves 
invrdnerable ; and the tattooing on the legs and thighs of 
the Burma men they not only think ornamental, but a 
preservative against the bite of snakes." (1) 

Cheiromancy and oneiromancy are in as great estima- 
tion as divination or amulets. With all their skiU in 
astrology, which they practise to a great extent, they are 
very ignorant of astronomy, and Dr. Buchanan tells us, 
" Although they sometimes attempt to calculate eclipses, 
yet they pretend not to ascertain either the hour of their 

commencement or the extent of the obscuration It 

would indeed appear, from a treatise of JVIr. Samuel 
Davis, (2) that the time of the full moon, and the duration 
of the eclipse, found by the rides given in the Surya 

(1) Asiatic Researches, vol. vi. p. 172. (2) Asiat. Res, vol. ii. p. 285. 

I. 4.] THE DEITTON. 75 

SidcUianta, differ considerably from the truth ; and that, 
althouf^h the rides <^iven in the Siddhanta Raliasya, and 
other modern books, make a near approach, yet they are 
far from being correct ; so that even the Brahmens of 
Hindustan are not much further advanced than those of 
Amarapura, notwithstanding the improvements they have 
introduced from time to time, perhaps as they were able 
gradually to prociu-e a little better information from their 
conquerors, Mohammedans and Christians." (1) 

Saugermano has a few remarks on the subject of the 
superstitions of the Burmese, that it would not be in- 
appropriate to transfer to these pages. (2) 

" The Burmese possess a large volume containing a full 
accoimt of all their superstitious observances, and of the 
different omens of good or evil fortune to be drawn from 
an immense number of objects, — as from the wood with 
which their houses are built, from their boats and car- 
riages, from the aspects of the sim, moon, and planets, 
from the howling of dogs, and the singing of bii'ds, &c., 
and also from the involimtary movements of the members 
of one's own body. We will here translate some portions 
of this book, as specimens of the superstitions which 
paganism conducts to. 

'' This book, which is called Deitton, in the treatise on 
the woods used in building, distinguishes various kinds. 
Such beams as are equally large at the top as at the 
bottom are called males ; those which are thicker at the 
bottom than above are females ; the neuters are those in 
which the middle is thickest ; and when the greatest 
thickness is at the top, they are called giants ; linally, 
when a piece of wood, on being cut, and falling to the 
ground, rebounds from its place, it is called monkey- 
wood. Whoever lives in a house made of male wood, 
will be happy in all places, and at all times, and in all 
circimistances ; but if the wood of any person's house be 
neuter, continual misery will be his lot ; and if it be of 
the gigantic species, he will die. By dividing the two 
pieces of wood which form the stairs into ten com])art- 
ments, and observing in which the knots occur, we may 
also learn a man's fortune. If a knot be found in the 
iirst compartment, it is a sign that the master of the 
liouse will l)e honoured by princes ; if in the second, that 

(1) Asiat. Res. vol. vi. p. 174. (.2) Burmese Empire*, p. ill sq. 

70 SrPERSTITIONS. [1. 4. 

he vrill ahound in rice, and all kinds of provisions ; but if 
there be one in the fourth division, then a son, or a 
nephew, or a slave, or an ox of the master will die ; a 
knot in the sixth division is a sign of riches in oxen and 
buffaloes ; but one in the eighth portends the death of his 
•wife ; and finally, one in the tenth, is an augury of great 
possessions in gold and silver, and such other valuables. 

" From the wood used in the eonstructiou of the 
houses, the Deitton passes to the holes in which the poles 
that support them are fixed ; for if these be square, it is a 
sign of sickness ; and divers other prognostics are drawn 
fi'om the manner in which they are dug, and from the 
difl'erent substances that are met with in making them. 
Ilence various rules are given for choosing a spot of 
ground for the foundation of houses. 

"• The next sources of superstition are the boats and 
carriages ; for from the knots that are in them, good or 
bad success is assigned to the possessors ; as also from 
the different objects they meet with on their progresses 
on different days of the week. 

" All involuntary movements of the eyes, the head, or 
the forehead, are considered as indications of the lot of 
those in whom they are observed, as their happiness, or 
of the honours they will receive, or of a litigious dis- 
position," &c. 

And again, a little after, our missionary continues : — 

" In the time of war, or during a law suit, there is a 
curious way of finding out the success to be expected. 
Three figures are made of cooked rice, one representing a 
lion, another an ox, and a third an elephant. These are 
exposed to the crows, and the augury is taken according 
to which is eaten. If they fall on the figure of the lion, it 
is a sign of victory ; if they eat that of the ox, things will 
be made up by accommodation ; but if they eat the ele- 
phant, then bad success is to be looked for. 

" When a dog carries any unclean thing to the top of 
a house, it is supposed that the master will become rich. 
If a hen lay her egg upon cotton, its master will become 
poor. If a person, who is going to conclude a law suit, 
meet on the road another carryuig brooms or spades, the 
suit will be lontr, and in the end he will be deceived. If 
the wind shouUl carry away any of the leaves of the 
betel, Avhen, according to custom, it is being carried 
to the house of a uewly-married woman, it is a sign 

I. 4.] ASTBONOMY. 77 

that the marriage will be unhappy, and that separation 
will ensue. 

" If in f2:oing to war, or to prosecute a law suit, a per- 
son meet with a fish, there will be no war, and tJie law- 
suit will cease ; if he see another catchincf a gnat, the 
mandarins will exact many presents, the client will be 
deceived, and the law suit a long one ; if he meet any one 
carrying packages, then everything will succeed to his 
wishes ; if he meet a serpent, the alfair will be long ; if a 
dog, or a female elephant, or a person playing on the 
instrument called zauu, a species of cymbal, all things 
will go well." 

The good fatlier mentions some more instances of a 
similar kind, and thus concludes : (1) — " But we should 
never finish, were we to extract all the follies of this book, 
for they are so numerous, and at the same time so incon- 
sistent with common comfort, that, as one of our oldest 
missionaries has observed, if a man were to be entirely 
guided by it, he would not have a house to live in, nor a 
road to walk on, nor clothes to cover him, nor even rice 
for his food ; and yet the bhnd and ignorant Burmese 
place the greatest laith in it, and endeavour to regulate 
their actions according to its directions." I have not 
space to speak of all the various superstitious weaknesses 
which rule this people, or I would tell of the cheiro- 
mancy of the Burmans, their amulets and their love- 
philtres ; for these, however, I must refer the reader to 

Burraan astronomy is similar in most points to thap^f 
the Hindoos ; but a short account of it, after Buchanan (2) 
and Sangermano, (;3) will not be out of place here. 

They recognise eight planets, viz., the Sun, the Moon, 
Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and another 
named Eahu, which is invisible. Buchanan tells us that 
some one discovered in it the Georgium Sidus ; but if its 
invisibility be taken into consideration, it is much more 
likely to be the recently discovered and lost ])lanet Nep- 
tune. A description of it from the treatise oi Buchanan, 
will, liowever, settle any doubts as to this star: (4) — 

" The form of Ivahu is thus described. His stature is 
48,000 juzana ; the breadth of his breast 12,0(X) ; of his 

(11 Burmc-o Emiiirc, \k 113. 

(2) Asiatic licscarchcs, vol. vi. pp. 1RR-'2(I,">. (3) Description, pp. 11-U. 

(4) Buchanan, uOi auih-u, p. igi j aud Saugcrinaiio, p. l^i. 

78 RAHU. [1. 4. 

head, 9(A) ; of Lis forehead, his nostrils, and mouth, 300 ; 
the thickness of his fingers, 50 juzana; of his feet and 
hands, 200. When this monstrous and foul planet, who, 
like the others, is a Nat, (1) is inflamed with envy, at the 
brightness of the sun or moon, he descends into their 
path and devours, or rather takes them into his mouth ; 
but he is soon obliged to spit them out, for if he retained 
them long, they would burst his head by the constant 
tendency which they have to pursue their course. At 
other times he covers them with his chin, or licks them 
with his immense tongue. In this manner the Burmah 
writings explain eclipses of the sun and moon, both total 
and partial, making the duration of the eclipse depend on 
the time that Rahu retains the planet in his mouth or 
under his chin. The Ilahiins sa)^ tliat every three years 
Rahu attacks the sun, and every half-year the moon. 
The eclipses, however, are not always visible to the 
inhabitants of this southern' island : but although they 
may be invisible here, they are not so to the inhabitants 
of the other islands, according as the sun and moon may 
be opposite to them at the time of the eclipse." 

This will serve as a tolerably fair specimen of Burmese 
abstract astronomy ; and as my limits preclude further 
remark, it will be well to go on to their division of time. 

" The Burmas," remarks Dr. Buchanan, (2) " in what- 
ever manner they may have obtained it, have the know- 
ledge of a solar year, consisting of 305 days, and com- 
mencing on the iSth of April. Like most nations, they 
akic use a week of seven days, named after the planets. 
Sunday, Ta-nayu-ga-nuc ; Monday, Ta-nayn-la ; Tuesday, 
Ayn-ga ; Wednesday, Boud-dha-hu; Thursday, Kia-sa- 
ba-da ; Friday, Thouk-kia ; Saturday, Tha-na. 

" The common year, however, of the Burmas, is 
lunar ; and by this year are regulated their holidays and 
festivals. It is composed of twelve months, which alter- 
nately consist of thirty and twenty-nine days, as follows : — 

Of Thirty Ihii/s. 

1. Ta-goo. 3. Na-miaung. 5. Wap-goun. 7. Sa-deen-put. 9. Na-to. 

11. Ta-bu-dna. 

0/ Twenty-nine Days. 

2. Kas-soon. -1. Wa-goo. 6. Ta-da-lav. S. Ta-zaung-mo. lO. Pya-zo. 

12. Ta-l)6uii. 

(1) Sec book i. chap. iii. p. 50. 

(2) Asiatic Researches, vol. vi. p. 169 sq. 

1.4] DIVISION OF TIME. * 79 

*' This beings eleven days shorter than their solar year, 
in order to make the be^nning of Ta-goo coincide with 
our 18th of April, the first day of their solar year, the 
Burmas every third year add an intercalary moon. This 
seems to have been the extent of chronological science in 
Hindustan, during the prevalence of the doctrine of 
Bouddha, as the Eahans will go no further. But it was 
soon discovered by the Brahmens, that this contrivance 
would not make the commencements of the lunar and 
solar years coincide. They, therefore, wish from time to 
time to introduce other intercalary moons, in order to 
make the festivals occur at the proper season. The pre- 
sent king, who is said to be a studious and intelligent 
prince, was convinced of the propriety of the Brahmens' 
advice, and persuaded the Kahans of the capital to add an 
intercalary moon during the year we were there. He 
had not, however, the same success in the more distant 
provinces ; for, although very strong measures were taken 
at Bangoun, such as ordering the people for some days 
not to supply the Bahans with provisions, yet, in the end, 
the obstinacy of the clergy prevailed, and they celebrated 
a great festival a month earlier at Bangoun than was done 
at Amarapura. To this obstinacy the Bahans were, pro- 
bably, in a great measure, instigated by a jealousy, 
which they, not without reason, entertain against' such 
dangerous intruders as the Brahmens ; and they were 
encouraged to persist by the ignorance of those about the 
king. Of this ignorance his majesty was very sensible, 
and was extremely desirous of procuring from Bengal 
some learned Brahmens, and proper books. None of 
those I saw in the empire could read Sanscrit, and all 
their books were in the common dialect of Bengal. 

" The 1st of October, 1795, was at Amarapura, Kiasa- 
bada, the 19th of Sadeengiut, in the year of the Burma 
aTa 1157, so that the reckoning, at that ])lace at least, 
agreed very well witli tlie solar year ; but I observed, 
that the Burraas in general, if not always, antedated by 
one day the four phases of the moon, which are their 
common holidays. I did not, however, learn, whether 
this proceeded from their being imable to ascertain tlie 
true time of the change of the moon, or if it was only an 
occasional circumstance, arising from some further con- 
trivance used to bring the solar and lunar years to coin- 
cide. In the common reckoning of time the Burmas 

80 mil. ' [1.4. 

divide tho moon into two parts, tlic liglit and the dark 
moon ; the first contained the days, during \^ liich the 
moon is on the. increase ; and the second, those in which 
she is in the wane. Tims, for instance, the litli of 
Sadcengiut is called the lltli of tlie light moon Sadccn- 
ghit ; but the IGth is called the 1st of the dark moon 

" Whence the Burmans date their a?ra I could not from 
them learn. Joannes Moses, Akunvrun or collector of 
the land-tax for the province of Pegu, the most inteUigent 
man m ith whom we conversed, did not seem to know. He 
said that whenever the king thought the years of the rera 
too many, he changed it. The fact, however, I believe is, 
that this {cra, commencing in our year 638, is that used by 
the astronomers of Siam, and from them, as a more 
polished nation, it has passed to the Burmas, whose pride 
hindered them from acknowledging the truth. "(1) 

The common lunar year consists, however, only of 
twelve months ; consequently they are obliged to add an 
intercalary month every three j^ears, as the year is only 
three hundred and fifty-four days in length. Even this, 
however, does not supply all deficiencies, and the fur- 
ther rectifications are made by public proclamation. Their 
worship days are four every month, viz., at the new and 
the full moon, and half-way between these ; so that some- 
times the interval is seven days, and sometimes eight. 
Day and night are divided into four equal parts. At 
Kaugoon, however, the European mode of reckoning the 
hours is much in use, and timepieces are not wholly un- 
known. (2) 

(1) Loubere, du Royaumc de Siara, vol. ii. p. 102. 

(2) Malcom, vol. i. p. 275. 


Currency — Weig:hts — Commerce — Ports — Teak-wood — Houses — Tanks — 
Dress — Food — Marriages — Cliil dbirth — Funerals — Arts — Slavery — The 
drama — Chess — Games — Music — ^reworks. 

The Burmese have no coined money. At every pay- 
ment the money is assayed and weighed, to ascertain its 
value. ^Mien a bargain is to be concluded, very often the 
seller asks to see the money the purchaser has to offer 
liim. The circulating medium is lead, for small payments. 
Silver, however, is the standard, although gold is also in 
use ; it is considered seventeen times as valuable as silver. 
The frequent assaying process that the money undergoes 
has given rise to a business ; the persons following it are 
named Poe-za, and for a commission of two and a half 

f)er cent, they will assay the money. One per cent, is 
ost in the operation, so that if" that operation be repeated 
forty times, it follows that the original amount is wholly 
absorbed, — a fact which shows the enormous waste of the 
precious metals which attends this rude substitute for a 

Of course, the value of money is continually fluctuating, 
and Crawfurd informs us, that the alloy in silver varies 
from two to twenty -five per cent.. ! " The finest gold," he 
says, "in circulation is, according to this scale, of nine 
and three-quarters touch, or twenty-three and a quarter 
carats fine. Between this and that which is only twelve 
carats, or contains one-half alloy,' is to be found in use 
almost every intermediate degree of fineness." 

Malcom gives us the following scale of weights, which 
answers both for goods and money :(2) — 

2 small mays = 1 large ruay = 1 pice. 
J large mays = 1 bai or ruay = 1 anna. 

2 bais = 1 moo =2 annas. 

2 moos ^1 mat =4 annas (02^ gr. troy). 

4 mats = 1 kyat = 1 tical. 

100 kyats = 1 piakthah or vis (3AV ^^^- avoird.). 

(1) Crawfurd, vol. ii. p. 188. (2) Malcom, vol. i. p. 27.1. 

82 TRADE OF UrBMAH. [I. 5. 

Tlie hoad-Tvatcrs of most of the rivers, ns before re- 
marked,(l) yield fxold; but p^old washings are to be found 
in the Irawadi above Prome, and also near Iian*TOon.(2) 
" But the little ^old," says the missionary, " that is thus 
collected is far from beiiii; sufficient for the Burmese, who 
use great quantities of this metal, not only in their brace- 
lets, earrings, and other ornaments, which persons of both 
sexes are accustomed to wear, but much more for gilding 
the convents of the Talapoins, the public porticoes, and 
particularly the pagodas, which, being exposed to the rain 
and the action of the air, soon lose their gilding, and are, 
therefore, continually requii'ing fresh gold to repair them. 
To supply this demand, gold is imported from the Malay 
coast, from China, and other places." 

The silver is principally procured from the Chinese 
provinces of Yunnan, and the mines in Burmah are worked 
by natives of China. The only place in Burmah where 
silver-mines are worked is at Bor-twang, twelve days' 
journey from Bamoo. 

Burmah has considerable foreign trade. The natives 
carry on a communication for this purpose with Mergui 
and Chittagong. and occasionally with Calcutta, Penang, 
and Madras. Burmah has at present but two good har- 
bours remaining, namely, Eangoon and Bassein. Both of 
these are good, but foreign vessels never go to the latter, 
notwithstanding the fact that it is the better of the two. (3) 
The port of Rangoon is the only one, therefore, of any 

The exports of Burmah are teak-wood, cotton, wax, 
cutch, sticklac, and ivorj- ; also lead, copper, arsenic, tin, 
birds' nests, amber, indigo, tobacco, honey, tamarinds, 
gnapee, or nape, gems, orpiment, &c. The most consider- 
able article of commerce, however, is the teak-wood. " In- 
deed," says Sangermano, " it is for this wood, more than for 
anything else, tliat vessels of every nation come to Pegu 
from all parts of India, It is found also in Bombay, but in 
small quantities, and is excessively dear ; whereas in Pegu 
and Ava there are such immense forests of it that it can 
be sold to as many ships as arrive, at a moderate price. 
This wood, while it does not quickly decay, is very easily 
wrought, and very light. Cases have occurred of ships 
made of it, and laden with it, which have been filled with 

(1) Book i, chap. i. p. 9. (2) Sangermano, p, 16;, 

(3) Sangermano, p. 16;. 


water, but yet did not sink. Ilcneo, all the sliips that 
come to Pegu return Mith cargoes of this Avood, Avliieh is 
employed in common houses, hut particularly in ship- 
building. Most of the ships that arrive in these ports are 
here careened and refitted ; and there are, besides, two 
or three English and French shipbuilders established at 
Kangoon. One reason of this is the prohibition that 
exists of carrying the specie out of the empire. For, as 
merchants, after selling their cargo, and talcing in another 
of teak-wood, generally have some money remaining in 
their hands, ihey arc obliged to employ it in building a 
new ship. Though, perhaps, this is not the only motive 
for building vessels in Eangoon ; but the quantity of teak 
and other kinds of wood with which the neighbouring 
forests abound, may also have a great influence in this 
way. If the port of llangoon entices strangers to build 
ships there, it also obliges them to sail as soon as possible. 
For there is a species of worm bred in the waters of the 
river which penetrates into the interior of the wood, and 
eats it away in such a manner that the vessel is exposed to 
the greatest danger, since the holes formed by these 
worms being hidden, cannot easily be stopped up. They 
attack every species of wood except ebony and tamarind, 
which are so' hard that they are used to make the mallets 
with which carpenters drive their chisels." 

These facts, together with the diihculty of entering into 
the harbour, should be carefully considered by the rulers 
of the Company's territories, and they must weigh the 
importance of the position against the fatal effects of the 
climate, and when they have the upper fertile territory of 
Ava almost within their grasp, they should not content 
themselves with the low Hats of Pegu, as some of the 
public press have advised. 

Bassein, however, which has been lately captured, 
should be the principal port. That it is the better, is 
plainly to be seen from the fact of its having been so con- 
sidered at an earlier period of the history of the country ; 
and that the Company thought so, is plam from their first 
factories having been in that district. 

Eurman domestic architecture presents many similarities 
with that of Polynesia, except in the temples, already 
described in a former chapter, wliere the diflerence is, 
however, very slight. (1) The houses arc constructed of 

(1) Uouk i. chap. iii. p, 50. 

Q 2 


timbers, and bamboos fastened with ligliter pieces placed 
transversely. If strong posts are used, they are placed at 
distances of about seven feet, of coarse bamboo, and licrhter 
ones are placed at closer intervals. Pillars made of brick 
or stone supporting a frame are never seen. The sides are 
usually covered with mats ; but sometimes with thatch 
fastened by split canes. In the best houses even, the roofs 
are almost invariably of thatch wrought most skilfully, and 
forming a perfect security against both wind and rain, but 
sometimes they are made of thin tiles, turned up at one 
end.(l) The best kind of thatch is made of attap or denvice 
leaves, bent over canes, and attached by the same material ; 
a cheaper kind is made of strong grass six or seven feet 
long. These overlap each other from twelve to eighteen 
inches, much in the same manner as our tiles : they cost 
very little and require renewing about every three years. 

The floors are elevated a few feet from the earth, which 
makes them more comfortable than the houses of Bengal, 
and to render them clean, and secure ventilation, they are 
made of split cane. Unfortunately, the crevices between 
the cane often invite carelessness, and dirty hquids are 
allowed to run through, and not unfrequently the space 
becomes filled with mud and vermin, particularly among 
the poorer classes. The doors and windows are merely 
of matting in bamboo frames ; when not closed, they are 
propped up so as to form a shade. There are of course 
no chimneys. They cook in a sort of square box of earth. 
A house does not cost more than from sixty to a hundred 
rupees, many not nearly so much, and they may be put up 
in about three days. The houses have only one story. 
In some of the large towns the houses of the rich are 
built of wood with plank floors, and panelled doors and 
shutters, but neither lath, plaster, nor glass. The houses 
are infested with insects of various descriptions, also with 
lizards, but they are useful in destroying the former. 

The buildings not being of brick, the utmost precaution 
is taken against fire. The roofs of the houses are loosely 
thatched, and a long pile of bamboo, with a hook at the 
end, is provided in every dwelling to pull down the thatch, 
while another pole is placed ready with a grating at the 
end of it to put out the flame by means of pressure. 

But it is not only in houses and pagodas that the arehi- 

(1) Sangermaiiu, p. V2G. 

I. 5.] DRESS, 85 

tectural skill of the Bunnans displays itself. Tlie nation, 
like the ancient Peruvians, also constructs tanks, which 
are of immense utility in fertilizing the country. One of 
these, at Moutzoboo, the birthplace of Alompra, is a very 
handsome work. They have also a few bridges, one of 
which, at Ava, is very long, and which Malcom empha- 
tically says, " I have not seen surpassed in India, and 
scarcely in Europe."(l) The arrangement of the palace 
at Ava, it may not be inapposite to remark, is not unlike 
that of the ancient palaces of Nineveh, as brought to light 
by Mr. Layard, and restored by Mr. Ferguson. 

Tlie Burmese dress is very simple. That of the men 
consists of a long piece of striped cotton or silk, folded 
round the middle, and flowing down to the feet. When 
they are not at work, this is loosed, and is thrown partly 
over the shoulder, covering the body in no ungraceful 
manner. It very closely resembles the modern JN^ubian 
dress. The higher classes add to this a jacket with 
sleeves, called ingee, of white muslin, or, occasionally, 
broadcloth or velvet, buttoning at the neck. The turban 
or gounhoung, of muslin, is worn by every one. Their 
shoes or sandals are of wood, or cowhide covered with 
cloth and strapped on. These are only worn abroad. 

The women wear a te-mine, or petticoat, of cotton or 
silk. It is open in front ; so that in walking the legs and 
a part of the thigh are exposed. But in the street, they 
wear a jacket like that of the men, and a mantle over it. 

Both sexes wear cylinders of gold, silver, horn-wood, 
marble, or paper in their ears. The fashionable diameter 
of the ear-hole is one inch. At the boring of a boy's ears, 
a great festival is generally held, as it is considered equal 
to the assumption of the toaa virilis among the ancient 
llomans ; yet, the period of youth and dandyism gone 
by, they care no more for such a decoration, and usually 
use the ear-hole as a cigar-rack, or flower-stand. The 
hair is always well taken care of, and is anointed every 
day with sessamum oil. The men gather it in a bunch on 
the top of the head, like the ISTorth American Indians, 
while the women tie it into a knot behind. The use of 
betel, which at one time was very general, is now no 
longer so much consumed, and the practice of staining 
the teeth is not so universal. 

(1) Malcom, vol. i. p. 211, 

86 FOOD. [1. 5. 

"The men of this nation," says a g^ood authority,(l) 
"have a singular custom of tattooing their thighs, which 
is done by wounding the skin, and then filling the wound 
with the juice of certain plants, which has tlie property of 
producing a black stain. Some, besides both their thighs, 
will also stain their legs of the same colours, and others 
paint them all over with representations of tigers, cats, 
and other animals. The origin of this custom, as well as 
of the immodest dress of the women, is said to have been 
the policy of a certain queen ; who, observing that the 
men were deserting their wives, and giving themselves up 
to abominable vices, persuaded her husband to establish 
these customs by a royal order ; that thus by disfiguring 
the men, and setting ofi" the beauty of the women, the 
t/^ latter might regain the affections of their husbands." 
l In speaking of the military institutions of the Burmese, 
I quoted from Sangermano a passage in which the food of 
the soldiers was mentioned. (2) To the account then given, 
I have little to add here. The food of the people is mean 
and bad indeed ; in fact, as they eat all kinds of reptiles 
and insects, we may \qy\ well agree ■with Malcom,(3) and 
call them omnivorous. They make two meals in a day, 
one at about nine in the morning, and the other at sunset. 
The rice, or whatever the dish may be, is placed on a 
wooden plate, raised upon a foot, and the eaters squat 
round it on the bare ground, or perchance on a few mats, 
using their fingers in the feast. Their usual beverage is 

The bed consists of a simple mat spread on the ground, 
and a small piljow, or piece of wood, precisely in the man- 
ner of the Polynesians. The rich occasionally have a low 
wooden bedstead and mattresses. 

Their mode of kissing is again like that of the Poly- 
nesians. Instead of touching the lips, they apply the 
mouth and nose to the check, and draw in the breath, and 
instead of saying, " Give me a kiss," they say, " Give me 
a smell." Children are carried astride the hips as in some 
other parts of India. 

When a young man has made his choice of a wife, he 
first sends some old persons to the father to propose the 
marriage. If the family and the girl are agreed to the 
match, the bridegroom inmiediati ly goes to the house of the 

(1) Sangermano, p. Vl\. (2) Book i. ohap. ii. p. 38. 

(3) South- Eastern Asia, vol. i. p, 212. 

I. 5.] MAnniAGE— DEATH. 87 

father-in-law, and resides there for three years. At tlio 
expiration of that period, he may, if he choose, take his 
wife and reside somewhere else. The first night of the 
mamage is one of considerate hazard, for a laroje mim- 
bcr of persons will coHect together and throw stones and 
logs on to the roof of the house. Sangermano, on whose 
authority I mention the custom, could obtain no reason 

A strange practice attends the birth of a Burmese 
infant. " No sooner is the infant come to light, than an 
immense fire is lighted in the apartment, so large that a 
person can hardly approach it without experiencing con- 
siderable hurt. Yet the woman is stretched out before it; 
and obliged to support its action on her naked skin, which 
is often bhstered from its efi*ects as badly as if the fire had 
been actually made for this purpose. This treatment is 
persevered in for ten or fifteen days without intermission, 
at the end of which time, as it will be easily supposed, 
the poor woman is quite scorched or blackened. "(2) 

In their treatment of the sick, they are very absurd 
and unskilful, but at the same time, some of their remedies 
are good. Space will not permit me to speak of this sub- 
ject, and I must refer to the copious accounts of Malcom, 
Sangermano, Crawfnrd, and others. 

At the death of any one, the following ceremonies are 
observed. (3) The body is immediately washed and laid 
in a white cloth, and visits of condolence are paid by the 
connections and friends. While the family give them- 
selves up to lamentation, these friends perform the office 
of preparing the coffin, assembling the musicians, getting 
betel and lapcch. the pickled tea, which is given to every 
one on the occasion. Then a great store of fruit, cotton 
cloths, and money is prepared for distribution among the 
priests and the poor. Tliis is effected by means of a 
burial club, which, strangely enouijli, is one of the institu- 
tions oi this singular country. The body is then kept a 
day or two, after which tlie procession is formed in the 
following manner. First, the alms destined for tlie priests 
and poor are carried along ; next, come tlie baskets of 
betel and lapech, borne by female priests dressed in white. 
These are followed by a procession of priests, walking two 
and two. AVlien there is music, it usually comes next. 

(I) Sangermano, p. 129. (2) .Sanpormano, «i« supra, p. )29. 

(3) My principal authority is yaiiscrmano, p. 136. 


Then tlie bier is carried along, borne by friends of tlie 
deceased. Immediately behind the bier comes the wives, 
children, and nearest relations, all dressed in white. The 
procession is closed by a concourse of people more or less 
connected with the departed person. Arrived at the place 
where the body is burnt, the senior priest delivers a ser- 
mon, consisting of reflections on the five secular command- 
ments and the ten good works. At the conclusion of the 
sermon, the coffin is delivered to the burners of the dead, 
who set fire to it, while others distribute the alms to the 
priests and people. The burning, however, does not 
always take place. Persons that have been drowned, or 
have died of infectious diseases, are immediately interred. 

On the third day after the burning, the relations go to 
the place and collect the ashes, which are placed in an 
urn and buried, and a cenotaph is erected over the re- 
mains. All this time a festival is kept up at the house of 
the deceased. Readers are engaged, who read out poetry 
and history. Much feasting and drinking goes on, and 
this is all done to keep off the thoughts of their loss from 
the minds of the relations. On the ninth day the con- 
cluding feast to the priests is given, and all is over. 

The arts of the Burmese are very simple, as may be ex- 
pected.(l) Their progress in them has been very small, 
chiefly on account " of the great simplicity of their dress 
and houses." Every one builds his own house, and the 
females of the family can manufacture all the apparel that 
is required by the family. The silkworm is kept in Ava, 
and the products of the looms of that province, though 
susceptible of improvement, yet deserve high commenda- 
tion for the strength of the material and brilliancy of the 
colours. Carving in wood, an art at which a semi-civilised 
nation generally soon arrives, has been brought to some 
degree of perfection ; but painting, the kindred art, is 
here, as among all Oriental nations, in a very languishing 
condition. Lately, at a meeting of the Asiatic Society of 
Bengal, a very interesting picture by a Biu'mese artist was 
exhibited. Dr. A. Thomas, who presented it to the society, 
thus describes it : — " On one side of the picture is re- 
presented the royal palace and the royal monastery ; the 
priests in their sacerdotal garb, the white elephant, &c. &c. 
axe all shown. On the other side is a grand procession 

(1) My chief authority is Saogcrmaao, pp. l44-u6. 

I. 5.] SLAVERY. 80 

showintT that a lad is about to enter into the order of 
priesthood." In painting flowers the Burmese are not so 
bad, but, Hke the Cliinese, they have very imperfect 
notions of drawinii^ and perspective. 

The betel boxes and drinking-cups are exceedingly 
curious. They are formed of very fine basket-work of 
bamboo, covered with varnish, which is brought from 
China in very great quantities. An interesting account 
of their manufacture is given by Colonel Burney in the 
Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal ; but the exact 
volimie has escaped me. Working in gold, as among their 
kindred in America, the Incas and the Mexicans, has 
been perfected in no slight degree. In casting bells, too, 
no Oriental nations can compete with them. 

" Such are the principal arts," concludes Sanger- 
mano, (1) " of the Burmese ; and if they are in a low 
state, this must be attributed more to the destructive 
despotism of their government than to the want of genius 
or inclination of the people, for they have in reality a 
great talent in this way. It is the emperor, with his 
mandarins, who is the obstacle in the way of the industry 
of his subjects ; for no sooner has any artist distinguished 
himself for his skill, than he is oonstrained to work for 
the emperor or his ministers, and this without any profit, 
farther than an uncertain patronage." 

Can there be the least doubt in the mind of any unpre- 
judiced person, that the British ought to annex the whole 
of Burmah, and so rescue the flocks that are bleeding 
under 'the ruffian claws of the official tigers ? Remember 
Prome under British justice in the last war ; and though, 
in every way, the Indian government is de facto a mild 
despotism, yet is not that better than the present state of 
things ? Besides, it is our interest. If we do not get this 
coimtry, some other nation will,j and we want no Euro- 
pean neighbours in the East. 

And this is a fitting place for an account of the treat- 
ment of slaves among the Burmese, a subject of no little 
importance to its future interests. 

olavery is very general in Ava and the subdued pro- 
vinces, and it has not yet been abolished in the territory 
ceded to the British in 182^. (2) It may be as well to 
mention this fact, as otherwise the British will get a cha- 

(1) Burmese Empire, p. 146- (2) Malcom, vol. i. p. 272. 

90 SLAVERY. [I. 5. 

ractcr for inconsistency, and some one will plead, in ex- 
tenuation of the African slave-trade, that though such 
efforts arc made in the Atlantic, yet that in the tan^^iblc 
property of Britain, the provinces of Arakhan, Chitta- 
gong, Assam, and Tenasserim, the practice is not sup- 
pressed, notwithstanding that it might be effected with 
much more ease than in Africa, or on the Brazilian coast. 
Naturally, in so recent a possession, the measure cannot 
be immediately introduced ; yet it would be well for 
the Company to think and act, as it is necessary to 
be consistent throughout, even if that were the only 

A slight slave-trade appears to be carried on upon the 
frontiers ; and though the Bumians, with somewhat of a 
Jesuitical spirit, do not actually engage in it themselves, 
yet they do not hesitate to recognise and support it by 
purchasing the slaves thus kidnapped from home. 

Debtor slaves, Malcom tells us, are very numerous. 
When persons borrow, they mortgage themselves to their 
creditors till they can repay the money. In Burmah this 
is not done by any remuneration for the service thus ren- 
dered, but in our possessions it diminishes four pice 
per day. Their master can sell and chastise them, 
though he is restrained from ill-using them. However, 
when they can obtain the momey, and tender it to their 
creditor, he is not at liberty to refuse the payment. 

The children of slaves are free ; though this is more by 
usage than by the law. Under that, there would be some 
redemption-money to be paid. However, custom has 
ordanied that both mother and child are free. Husbands 
have the power of selling their wives, or rather borrowing 
money upon them ; and of course, unless the person so 
sold, or pawned, can obtain a sum equal to the amount 
borrowed, they are condemned to life-servitude. 

T]ie condition of slaves, however, is little different 
from that of a free person. The estimation, too, in whicli 
they are held, is high, for they are, in a popular super- 
stition, ranked with "a son, a nephew, and an ox;" 
and though the last of these appears somewhat ludi- 
crous to tlie ear of an European, yet we must recollect 
tliat tlic religious value of an ox Avas high in the land, 
probably from the tinge of Brnhminism with which the 
Burnians are dashed. 

It is interesting to compare the state of the slaves of 


Burmali witli tlio condition of the sanio class among tho 
Visirjotlis, Avlio may, in some respects, be looked upon as 
tlie Burmans of Europe. Prescott has given an able 
sketch in his " Ferdinand and Isabella : "(ij — 

" The lot of the A^isigothic slave was sufficiently hard. 
Tho oppressions -w-hich this unhappy race endurccl, were 
such as to lead Mr. Southey, in his excellent introduction 
to the ' Chronicle of the Cid,' to impute to their co- 
operation, in part, the easy conquest of the country by 
the Arabs. But, althou(;h the laws in relation to them 
seem to be taken up willi determining their incapacities, 
rather than their privik\2:es, it is probable that they 
secured to them, on the whole, quite as great a degree of 
civil consequence as was enjoyed by similar classes in the 
rest of Europe. By the Euer Juzoo, the slave wns 
allowed to acquire property for himself, and with it to 
purchase his own redemption. (2) A certain proportion 
of every man's slaves were also required to bear arms, 
and to accompany their master to the field. (3) But their 
relative rank is better ascertained by the amount of com- 
position (that accurate measurement of civil rights with 
all the barbarians of the north) prescribed for any per- 
sonal violence inflicted on them. Thus, by the Salic law, 
the life of a free lloman was estimated at only one-fifth of 
that of a Frank, (1) while* by the law of the Visigoths, tho 
life of a slave was valued at half of that of a free man. (5) 
In the latter code, moreover, the master was prohibited, 
under the severe penalties of banishment and sequestra- 
tion of property, from either maiming or murdering his 
own slave, (G) while, in other codes of the barbarians, the 
penalty was confined to similar trespasses on the slaves 
of another ; and by the Salic laAv, no higher mulct was 
imposed for killing than for kidnapping a slave. (7) The 
legislation of the Visigoths, in those particulars, seems to 
have regarded this unhappy race as not merely a distinct 
species of property ; it provided for their personal secu- 
rity, instead of limiting itself to the iudemniiication of 
their masters."- 

It is a curious circumstance that the malefactors, whose 
punishment has been commuted from death to slavery 

(I) Vol. i. p. 7, note. (2) Lib. v. tit. 4, ley l6. 

(3) Lib. i.\. tit. 2, ley 8. (4) Lex .Salica, tit. -i:}, sec. 1, 8. 

(5) Lib. vi. tit. 4. ley 1. (G) Lib. vi, tit. 3, Icycs 12, 13. 

Ij) Le.\ Salica, tit. ii, &cc. i, 3. 

92 DEAMA. [I. 5. 

in the pagodas, arc better off than the s^enerality of the 
slave population ; so that, in fact, there is not such indig- 
nity and misery in it as some authors have represented. 
The Mexicans, who formed some portions of their polity 
on a higher model, esteemed it an honour to serve in the 
temples of the gods. Let us now turn to a liveUer theme — 
the Burman amusements. 

Symes, the energetic envoy, to whose work I have so 
often referred, gives the following curious description of a 
dramatic entertainment in Burmah -.(l) — 

" The solar year of the Birmans was now drawing to a 
cloSe, and the three last days are usually spent by them 
in merriment and feasting. "VYe were invited by the 
Maywoon to be present on the evening of the 10th of 
April, at the exhibition of a dramatic representation. 

" At a little before eight o'clock, the hour when the 
play was to commence, we proceeded to the house of 
the Maywoon, accompanied by Baba- Sheen, who, on all 
occasions, acted as master of the ceremonies. The theatre 
was the open court, splendidly illuminated by lamps and 
torches ; the Maywoon and his lady sat in a projecting 
balcony of his house ; we occupied seats below him, raised 
about two feet from the ground, and covered with car- 
pets ; a crowd of spectators were seated in a circle roimd 
the stage. The performance began immediately on our 
arrival, and far excelled any' Indian drama that I had 
ever seen. The dialogue was spirited without rant, and 
the action animated without being extravagant ; the 
dresses of the principal performers were showy and 
becoming. I was told that the best actors were natives 
of Siam, a nation which, though unable to contend with 
the Birmans and Peguers in war, have cultivated with 
more success the retined arts of peace. By way of inter- 
lude between the acts, a clownish buffoon entertained the 
audience with a recital of different passages ; and by 
grimace, and frequent alterations of tone and countenance, 
extorted loud peals of laughter from the spectators. The 
Birmans seem to delight in mimickry, and are very 
expert in the practice, possessing uncommon versatility of 
countenance. An eminent practitioner of this art amused 
us with a specimen of his skill, at our own house, and, to 

(1) Embassy to Ava in the year l"95, vol. ii. p. 41 sqq. ; later ed. vol. i. 
p. 208 sq. 

I. 5.] DEAMA. 93 

our no small astonishment, cxliibitcd a masterly display 
of the passions in pantomimic looks and gestures ; the 
transitions he made, from pain to pleesurc ; from joy to 
despair ; from rage to madness ; from laughter to tears : 
liis expression of terror, and, above all, his look of idiot- 
ism, were performances of first-rate merit in their line ; 
and we agreed in opinion, that had his fates decreed him 
to have been a native of Great Britain, his genius would 
have rivalled that of any modern comedian of the English 

" The plot of the drama performed this evening, I 
understood, was taken from the sacred text of the JRa- 
mnyam of Balmiec, a work of high authority amongst the 
Hindoos. (1) It represented the battles of the holy Ham 
and the impious llahwaan, chief of the ilalkuss, or demons, 
to revenge the rape of Seeta, the wife of Kam, who was 
forcibly carried away by Rahwaan, and bound under the 
spells of enchantment. Vicissitudes of fortune took place 
during the performance, that seemed highly interesting 
to the audience. !Ram was at length wounded by a 
poisoned arrow ; the sages skilled in medicine consulted 
on his cure ; they discovered, that on the mountain Indra- 
gurry grew a certain tree that produced a gum, which 
was a sovereign antidote against the deleterious effects of 
poison ; but the distance was so great that none could be 
foimd to undertake the journey : at length, Honymaan, (2) 
leader of the army of apes, offered to go in quest of it. 
A\Tien he arrived at the place, being uncertain which was 
the tree, he took up half the mountain, and transported 
it with ease : thus was the cure of Ram happily effected, 
the enchantment was broken, and the piece ended with a 
dance and songs of triumph." 

Dr. Buchanan gives us some farther particulars on this 
curious subject, which I subjoin : (3) 

" Although these entertainments, like the Italian opera, 
consist of music, dancing, and action, with a dialogue in 
recitative ; yet we understood, that no part but the songs 

(1) Called by Sir William Jones, Valmiec. 

(2) Hon>'maan is worshipped by tlic Hindoos under the form of an ape, 
and is one of the most frequent objects of tlieir adoration; almost every 
Hindoo pagoda has this figure delineated in some part of it. Honymaan 
(Hanuinan; is the term used by the Hindoos to denote a lar^c ape. The 
worship was widely extended even among the Mexicans, wlio portrayed 
monkeys in their picture writings. In the Coptic -Egyptian, llaanu signi> 
fles monkey. 

(3) Asiatic Researches, vol. vi. p. 305. 

04 DRAMA, [I. 5. 

was previously romposccl. The subject is generally taken 
from some oi' tlie legends of their heroes, especially of 
Rama ; and the several parts, songs, and actions, being 
assigned to the different performers, the recitative part or 
dialogue is left to each actor's ingenuity. If, from the 
eflects on the audience, we might judge of the merit of 
the performance, it must be very considerable, as some of 
the performers had the art of keeping the multitude in 
a roar. I often, however, suspected, that the audience 
were not difficult to please ; for 1 frequently observed the 
]\Iyoowun of Haynthawade (the man of high rank whom 
we most frequently saw), thrown into immoderate laugh- 
ter by the most childish contrivances. These easterns are 
indeed a lively, merry people ; and, like the former 
French, dance, lau^jh, and sing, in the midst of oppres- 
sion and misfortune." 

But by far the most lucid account that we have of the 
Burmese drama, is in one of the dramas themselves, 
which Mr. Smith has translated in the Journal of the 
Asiatic Society of Bengal ; and he has added much to the 
value of the work by a few judicious observations, from 
which I present an extract to the reader : — 

'• The Eamadzat (Eamahyaua), and other ancient fabu- 
lous histories, form the groundwork of nearly all the 
favourite plays, the outline of the story being merely 
preserved, while the language of the play depends as 
much upon the fancy of the performer as the taste of the 
audience. Each company is presided over by a teacher 
or manager, who drills the actors in their tasks from 
rough notes, which contain only the songs and the sub- 
stance of the parts assigned to each performer. In every 
play, without perhaps a single exception, the following 
characters are represented, — a king, a queen, a princess, 
a minister of state, a himtsman, and some kind of mon- 
ster. (1) The female characters are usually personated 
by men, it being considered indecorous in a woman to 
appear as an actress. I have to plead as an apology for 
the unpolished style of this translation, the acknowledged 
difficulty of turning the dialogue of a play into a foreign 
dress ; moreover, the original, which was written from 
the mouth of an actor, was imperfect and OI written. I 
believe there are books in the palace at Umeraporee, con- 

(i) stock characters seem as prcviJcnt as at the Victoria or Ailelphi, 


tainiuij the propor roadin<T of all the approvod ])lays, and 
tlio costumes of the cliaracters, wliich arc placed near the 
members of the royal fiimily whenever they call their 
companies before them ; but I have not been able to dis- 
cover any work of this description here." (1) 

Of the play {riven by Smith, I shall here olTer an 
epitome : — The nine prmcesses of the silver mountain, 
which is separated from the abode of mortals by a triple 
barrier (the first, a belt of priclcly cane ; the second, a 
stream of liquid copper ; and the third, a Bcloo, or devil), 
p^ird on their enchanted zones, which give them the power 
of flying like birds, and visit a pleasant forest of the 
earth. While bathing, a Imntsman snares the youngest 
with a magic noose, and carries her to the young prince 
of Pyentsa, who, on account of her beauty, makes her his 
chief queen, notwithstanding his recent marriage with 
the daughter of the head astrologer of the palace. During 
the princess's absence, the astrologer takes the oppor- 
tunity to misinterpret a dream, which the king calls upon 
him to explain, and declares that the evil spirit, who is 
exerting himself against the king's power, is only to be 
appeased by the sacrifice of the beautiful Manauhurree. 
The princess's mother, hearing of this, visits the lovely 
^Manauhurree, and restores to her the enchanted zone, 
which had been picked up, and given to the old cpieen, by 
the huntsman. The princess immediately returns to the 
silver mountain, but on her way stops at the hermitage of 
a recluse, who lives on the borders of the forest, and 
gives him a ring and some drugs, by which the possessor 
of them can pass unharmed through the dangers of the 
barrier. The young prince having put an end to the 
war, returns, and finding his favourite queen gone, ho 
instantly sets off to seek her. Being arrived at the forest, 
he dismisses his followers, visits the recluse, who gives 
him the ring and drugs ; he then enters the frightful 
barrier, and, after many adventures, arrives at the city 
of the silver mountain, and makes known his presence to 
his beautiful bride, by dropping the ring into a vessel of 
water, which a damsel is conveying to the bath of the 
princess. The princess, on finding the rmg, inquires of 
one of the damsels what has happened at the lake, who 
tells her, that they found a young spirit resting himself, 

(1^ Journal of the As. Soc. of Bengal, vol. viii, p. 535 sq. 




and that he assisted one of the maids to place the vessel 
of water on her head. The princess cries out, " Oh my 
husband, come and take me." The king, her father, 
is angry that any mortal should presume to enter his 
country and claim his daughter, he makes him go thi'ough 
trials of riding elephants and horses, and shooting arrows, 
in which the prince acquits himself surprisingly, but the 
king insists on his selecting the little linger of Manau- 
hurree from among those of her sisters, thrust through a 
screen ; this he does by the assistance of the king of the 
"Nats. Then, as in a European play, every one is made 
happy and comfortable. 

Perhaps, indeed, the game of chess does not methodi- 
cally fall in immediately after the consideration of the 
drama, yet I cannot allow the Burman game, their chief 
sedentary amusement, to pass ^vithout notice. As their 
principal in-door game, indeed, it may not seem inoppor- 
tune to place it here. The form of the chess-board, and 
the manner of arrangement, will be readily understood 
by the accompanjdng diagram : (1) — 






















1 Meng . . 

2 Chekoy 

3, 3 Rutha. . 

4, 4 CheiJi . . 

5, 5 Mhee . . 
6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6 Yein . . 

Tlie king. 
Lieut.- General. 
War chariot. 
Foot soldiers. 

The Burman name for chess is Chit-tha-reen, a name 
applied by them to the chief ruler, or leader of an army, 
or to war itself. 

The king has the same powers and moves as in our own 

fame, except that there is no castling, and no stalemate, 
'he Chekoy, or general, moves diagonally either way, in 
advance or retrograde, but only one move at a time. The 
S lit ha, or war-chariot, has exactly the same moves and 
powers as our castle. The Che in, or elephants, have five 

(1) I am partly indebted to Cox, Asiatic Researches, vol. vii. p. -ly; sq. 

1. 5.] CHESS. 97 

distinct moves ; diagonal in advance, both in fact diafronal 
retrograde; also, both ways, and direct forward; but in 
every case they are limited to one check or step at a 
move. The move direct in advance being only intended 
to alter the line of their operations, which gives tliem 
somewhat of the power of our queen. The Mhec, or 
cavalry, have exactly the same powers as our knights. 
The Ydn, or foot-soldiers, have the same moves and 
powers as in the English game ; they are, however, limited 
to one check or move at a time, and the right-hand 
pieces alone are susceptible of promotion to the rank of 
general, in the event of that piece being taken. It is not 
necessary, however, that they should have advanced to 
the last row of the adversary's squares, but to that square 
Avliich is in a diagonal line with the left-hand square in 
tlie last row of the adversai'y's section ; consequently, the 
right-hand pawn will have to advance four steps to ransom 
the Chekoy ; the next, three ; and so on to the fifth pawn, 
who has to make but one step. 

But notwithstanding this manner of disposing the 
forces, which is generally followed, the arrangement is 
quite arbitrary ; and the player strengthens or exposes 
liis wing according to his own judgment, and the pro- 
iiciency of his adversary. 

"This liberty," as Cox well observes, "added to the names 
and powers of the pieces, gives the Burmha game more 
the appearance of a real battle than any other game I 
know of. The powers of the Chein are well calculated 
for the defence of each other and the king, where most 
vulnerable ; and the Kutha, or war-chariots, are certainly 
more analogous to an active state of warfare, than rooks 
or castles." (1) 

There is a game played amongst them, called cog- 
nento. (2) It resembles very much the popular English 
game of knock'emdowns. Tliey liave also a kind of game 
of goose and cards of ivory, introduced from Si:mi. Foot- 
l)all is very usual, and is played witli much skill. The 
ball is hollow, and formed of split rattan, from six to ten 
inches in diameter. It is not struck alone with the instep, 
but with tlie head, shoulder, knee, elbow, heel, or sole of 
the fool. Malcom(3) thinks it has been introducetl from 

(1) Asiatic Ue^carohes, vol. vii. p. jgO- Comp. S)"mes, vol. ii. j). 226, 
small ed. v-' Saiigermano. p. \'i~. (3) Vol. i. p. 240. 



Boxing and fighting-cocks are well known ; and the 
latter is a favourite amusement with the youth of 
Burmah, as it used to be in England. 

The Burmese never dance themselves, but hire dancers, 
who make extraordinary eHbrts in their dancing. No 
figures are attempted, nor do women and men dance 
together ; indeed, very few females dance at all ; the men 

generally assuming the dress of women, and tying their 
air in the manner of women. They cannot imderstand 
what the English dance for ; they, in common with all 
Indians, wonder at it. 

The musical instruments are the moung or gong, struck 
with a mallet covered with leather ; the panma-gyee, or 
large drum ; the tseing or houndaw, is a collection of small 
drums, disposed within a frame in a circle. The size varies 
in every case. The player sits in the middle, and strikes 
them with his fingers. The me-goum or me-hyong, is a 
kind of guitar, played with the fiiigers. The sonng, is a 
kind of harp. They have also a kind of violin, called 
ie-yau, very disagreeable, with only two strings. The 
hyay-icyng is formed by a number of gongs, of difierent 
sizes, struck with smadl sticks, very pleasant of sound. 
There are also two or three kinds of wind-instruments, 
but very inferior in tone. 

Malcom (1) remarks it as a curious fact, that the Bur- 
mese are totally ignorant of whistling. 

In making fireworks, the Burmese display great in- 
genuity, and their delight is immense at a well-made 
rocket. Sangermano tells us, (2) that " when the great 
rockets are let ofi', if these fireworks ascend straight up 
into the air without bursting or running obliquely, the 
makers of them burst out into the wildest shouts and 
songs, and dance about with the most extravagant con- 
tortions, like reid madmen." 

We will leave them shouting, and turn to the ancient 
history of the country. 

(1) Vol. i. p. 242. (2) Burmese Empire, p. 128. 


Ancient history— Pegue— Character of the Burmese— Concluding 

The ancient history of Burmah differs in one remark- 
able particular from that of almost every other Oriental 
nation. The historiographers, except Avhere they have 
been led into speaking of Gaudama and his wondrous 
career, in effect, present a more coherent chronology than 
is offered by any other Eastern historians. The simple, 
almost nngarnished tale of their doings in the country, 
present self-evident proofs of its truthfulness. The reigns 
of the kings none of them exceed the limits of proba- 
bility, and what is more, they are shorter than usual, 
which shows in every way that there was no desire to 
magnify the doings of their sovereigns. "We find the 
kings of this early period doing just what the kings of the 
present dynasty have been doing, and there is no undue 
disguise of facts ; though now and then (as in the narra- 
tive of the two blind princes of Sagaing) there is a dash 
of the marvellous ; yet one cannot help wondering at the 
extraordinary simplicity that pervades the whole narrative 
given by the Burmese historians. 

All that the Burmese know of their emigration from 
India, and of the founding and history of the ancient city 
of Tagoung, is to be found in the third volume of the 
Clironicles of the Kings of Ava. Here is an abstract of 
the tale. (1) 

]\[any years before the appearance of Gaudama, a king 
of Kanthalatt (Oude) and Pinjalarit (a kingdom in the Pun- 
jab), being desirous of a connection by marriage with the 
king of Kauliya, sent to him to demand a daughter ; but 
receiving a refusal on the grounds of inferiority of caste, 
he declared war, and destroyed several cities governed by 
the Thaki family. These cities were afterwards rebuilt, and 

(1 My authority is an interesting article in the Journal of the Asiatic 
Society of Bengal, vol. v. p. 159 sq. 

u 2 


the Thi'iki line rc-cstablislicd ; but one of tlie Tliald race 
of kings, Abliiraja, the king of Kappilawot, emigrated 
with his troops and followers from Central India, and 
came and built Tagoung, which was then also styled 
Thengat-the-ratha, and TJiengat-the-nago. The place had 
been inhabited before, during the period of the three pre- 
ceding Buddhas. In the time of Xekkuthan it was called 
Thanthaya-pura ; in that of Gounagoun, Eatha-pura ; and 
in that of Xatthaba, Thendwe. On the death of Xing 
Abliiriija, his two sons, Kan Yaziigyee and Ivan Yazan- 
gay, disputed the throne, but agreed by the advice of 
their respective officers to let the question be decided in 
this way ; that each should construct a large building on 
the same night, and he whose building should be found com- 
pleted by the morning, should take the throne. The younger 
brother used planks and bamboos only, and covered the 
whole with cloth, to which, by a coat of whitewash, he 
gave the appearance of a finished building. At dawn of 
day, Kan Yiizagyee, the elder brother, seeing the other's 
being completed, collected his troops and followers, and 
came down the Irawadi. He then ascended the Khyend- 
wen, and established himself for six months at Kule(l) 
Toungnyo, calling it Yazagyo, and sent his sou, Moo- 
dootscitta, to be king over the Thoonaparnn Pyoos, 
Kanyan, and Thet, who then occupied the territory be- 
tween Pegu, Arakhan, and Pagan, and had applied to him 
for a prince. Eau Yazagyee then built the city Kyouk- 
padoung to the east of the Guttshapanadee, and resided 
there for twenty-four years. From thence he went and 
took possession of the city of Diniawadee, or Arakhan, 
which had originally been founded by a King jNlayayoo, 
and having constructed fortifications, a palace, &c., took 
up his residence there. 

The younger brother, Kan Yazangay, took possession 
of his father's throne at Tagoung, and was followed suc- 
cessively by thirty-three kings, the last of whom was 
Bheinnaka Yazti. During this monarch's reign, the 
Chinese and Tartars, from the country of Tsein, in the 
empire of Gandalareet. attacked and burnt Tagoung. The 
king and his followers retired up tlie j\tali river, and 
shortly afterwards died. His people then divided them- 
selves into three portions, one of which established the 

(1) A territory to tUe southward of Manipur. 


jiiuetecn Slicin states. A second portion allied tlicmselves 
with the Thiinaparanta kingdom, composed of the people 
of Kanyan and Thet, who were f^overued by Mudutseitta 
and other kings of the Thaki race. The last remained 
near the Mall river, under the command of Naga Zeiu, 
the last king's principal wife. 

About this time Gaudama appeared in Central India. In 
that part of Hindustan, also, a dispute arose between 
King Pethauadi Kauthala of Thawotta (1) and Maha Nansa 
of KappihiM'ot. The dispute originated in a matter of 
marriage again. Pathanadi had sent an embassy to Maha 
Nama for one of his daughters. Nama, however, sent him 
the daughter of a slave girl instead. She was received, 
and had a son, Prince Wit'hat'hoopa. When he had 
grown, he went to see his relations in Kappilawot, and 
then first learned the indignity which had been put upon 
his father. Gaudama stopped his army three times in its 
passage to Kappilawot, but let him do as he pleased the 
fourth time, when he took ample vengeance on the per- 
fidious Maha Nama, and he destroyed Kappilawot and 
two other cities in the country of Thekka, M'hich, not 
improbably, is the present Dekkan. 

This caused another dispersion of the Thaki race, and 
we find that Daza Yaza(2) established himself at Tagoung, 
carrying with him the name of his city, Pinjalarit; ho 
assumed the title of Thado Zaboodipa Daza Y aza, which 
may be translated Emperor Daza, king of Zaboodipa, the 
name, as we have seen, (3) of the southern island in the 
Burmese cosmography. Thus he aspired to the govern- 
ment of the world, for Zaboodipa was to the Burmese 
the whole world. He founded, also, the city of Pagan. 
Seventeen kings of his race reigned over Tagoung. " None 
of these kings," says Colonel Burney, " reigned long, the 
countiy having been much molested by evil spirits, mon- 
sters, and serpents In the fortieth year after Gau- 

dania's death, whilst Thado Maha Yaza, the seventeenth 
king of Tagoung, was reigning, an immense wild boar 
appeared, and committed great destruction in his country. 
Ihe crown prince went forth against the animal, and ])ur- 
sued it for several days, until he overtook and killeil it 
near Prome, and then finding himself so far from home, 

(1) Sravasti in Oudc. — Wilson. 

(2) Y<i/.a is the Burmese pronunciation of Raja. 

(3) Book i. chap, iii. p. 47. 

102 ^ .; ^ , _ _ TIIAfiE KBJITTARA. [I. 6. 

he determined on remainini"^ where he was as a hermit. 

Through the recommendation of the hermit prince of 

Tagoung, the Queen Nan Khan married one of his 
nephews, Maha Thavibawa, who became king of the Pp'is, 
and estabUslied the Prome or Thare Khettara empire, sixty 
years after Gaudama's death, 481 B.C." 

A curious account of the origin of the name Thare 
Khettara is given by S3rme8,(l) in whose words I shall 
relate the legend. " It is related, that a favourite female 
slave of Tutebongmangee, or the Miglity Sovereign with 
three eyes, importuned her lord for a gift of some ground ; 
and being asked of what extent,*replied in similar terms 
with the crafty and amorous Elisa, when she projected the 
site of ancient Carthage. Her request was granted, and 
she used the same artifice. The resemblance of the stories 
is curious." It is, however, met vritli in many parts of 
the world. Thare Khettara signifies single skin. Symes 
is mistaken, however, in the town ; it is Issay Mew, six 
leagues from Prome. 

Lpon the fall of the empire of Prome, Thamauddarit 
transferred the government to Pagahm, then an incon- 
siderable place. A young man named Tsaudi destroyed 
the wild animals of the neighbourhood, and in recompense 
for this important service he was offered the succession 
by the king. This, however, he refused, making his 
former instructor king in his stead ; but on the old man's 
decease he assumed the sovereignty, in the year 81) of the 
Pagan a^ra, a.d. 167. Thisfyouth, however, was of the 
royal race of Tagoung. 

In the sixth volume of the Chronicles of Ava, further 
mention is made of Tagoung. We there find it granted to 
Yahula by Theehapade, alias Menbyouk. Yaliula assumed 
the title of Thado-Men-bya ; he was afterwards driven 
from his government by the invading Shan tribes, in the 
Burmese year 725, a.d. 1363. However, he subsequently 
retrieved his fortunes, and in 726 (a.d. 1364), he founded 
the city of Ava, and established the line of the kings of 
Ava which has lasted to our times. 

"The great point," concludes Burney,(2) "with the 
Burmese historians is to show that their sovereigns are 
lineally descended from the Thaki race of kings, and are 

(1) Ava, vol. i. p. 270, small edition. 

(2),Joum. Asiat. Soc. Beng:al, vol. v. p. l64. > 

1. 6.] PEGU. 103 

' Children of tlic Siin ;'(1) and for this purpose the genea- 
logy of even Alonipra, the founder of the present dynasty, 
is iu<xeniously traced up to the kiui^ of Pagan, Prome, 
and Tagoimg." 

The internal history of Burmah, up to the sixteenth 
century, is not illustrated by any other documents than 
the native ; (2) but about this time Fitch visited the 
country, and his descriptions sliow that the state ■was on 
much the same footing as at present. At this period the 
Burnlans first conquered the Peguans, and had almost 
subdued Siani. But at the close of the seventeenth cen- 
tury the Peguans rose, and in a.d. 1753 carried the Bui'- 
man king captive to Pegu. But, like the Persians under 
the Mede governments, the proud Burmans rose, and 
Alompra, whose adventures will be discussed in the next 
chapter, beat the Peguans, and restored the Burmans to 
their ancient supremacy. 

Of modern Pegu, or Pegue, the foUowing account by 
Symes may be interestmg : — 

" The extent of ancient Pegue may still be accurately 
traced by the ruins of the ditch and walls that surrounded 
it ; from these it appears to have been a quadrangle, each 
side measuring nearly a mile and a half ; in several places 
the ditch is choked up by rubbish that has been cast into 
it, and the falling of its own banks ; sufficient, however, still 
remains to show that it was once no contemptible defence ; 
the breadth I judged to be about sixty yards, and the 
depth ten or twelve feet ; in some parts of it there is 
water, but in no considerable quantity. I w^as informed, 
that when the ditch was in repair, the water seldom, in 
the hottest season, sunk below the depth of four feet. An 
injudicious faussc-hraie, thirty feet wide, did not add to 
the security of the fortress. 

" The fragments of the wall likewise evince that this 
was a work of magnitude and labour ; it is not easy to 
ascertain precisely what was its height, but we conjectured 
it at least thirty ieet, and in breadth, at the base, not less 
than forty. It is composed of brick, badly cemented with 
clay mortar. Smnll equidistant bastions, about three 
hundred yards asunder, are still discoverable ; and there 

(1) One of the king of Ava's titles is Nctlwct bhuyen — Sun -descended 
monarch. Strange coincidence with the Inca boast ! 

(2) Mr. Judson has given us a translation of a chronological summary, 
which is of extreme value. It is now, together with the text, in the 
British Museum.— (Additional MS., No. 12,400.) 

104 THE TEGUEBS. [I. 6. 

had been a parapet of masonry ; but the whole is in a state 
so ruinous, and so covered with weeds and briars, as to 
leave very imperfect vestiges of its former strenj^h. 

" In the centre of each face of the fort there is a gate- 
way about thirty feet wide, and these gateways were the 
principal entrances. The passage across tlie ditch is over 
a causeway raised on a mound of earth, that serves as a 
bridge, and was formerly defended by a retrenchment, of 
which there are now no traces. 

" It is impossible to conceive a more striking picture of 
fidlen grandeur and the desolating hand of war, than the 

inside of these walls displays The temples, or praws, 

which are very numerous, were the only buildings that 
escaped the fury of the conqueror ; and of these the great 
pyramid of Shoemadoo has alone been reverenced and 
kept in repair. "(1) 

About the time when Symes visited Pegu, active exer- 
tions were being made to conciliate the Pegners, or Ta- 
liens, as the Burmans always called them ; and we may 
well agree with the energetic traveller, that '* no act of 
the Burman government is more likely to reconcile the 
Peguers to the Burman yoke than the restoration of their 
ancient place of abode, and the preservation and embel- 
lishment of the temple of Shoemadoo. "(2) The govern- 
ment were fully sensible of this, and the commands of his 
Burman majesty went forth, that the governor of l^angoon 
should transfer the proA'^incial seat of government to the 
imperial city of Pegu. Kothwithstanding these com- 
mands, the superior position of Kaugoon wDl ever cause 
it to remain the more considerable of the two. Even to 
this day, as it was at the period of Symes's visit in 1795, 
the city of Pegu is chiefly inhabited b}" Eahwans, or 
priests, attaches of the provincial government, and poor 
JPeguese ftimilies, who greedily availed tliemselves of the 
king's permission to colonise their deserted, though once 
magnificent metropolis. Symes estimates the population 
as not exceeding seven thousand. 3Ielancholy fate of the 
once proud and glorious capital ! 

Modern Pegu is built on the ruins of the ancient city, 
and occupies al)Out half its area. "It is fenced round by 
a stockade from ten to twelve feet liigh; on the nortli and 
east side it borders on the old wall. The plane of the 

(1) Symes, vol. ii. p. 51 sqq. (2) lb. id. p. 55. 


town is not yet filled with houses, but a number of new 
ones arc building^. There is one main street running east 
and west, crossed at right angles by two smaller streets 
not yet finished. At each extremity of the principal 
street there is a gate in the stockade, which is shut early 
in the evening ; and after that time, entrance during the 
night is confined to a Avicket. Each of these gates is 
defended by a wretched piece of ordnance, and a few 
musketeers, who never post sentinels, and are usually 
asleep in an adjoining shed. There are two inferior gates 
on the north and south sides of the stockade." (1) 

The character of the Burmese, on which we must here 
say a few ^^■ords, has its good points as well as its bad. 
" It difiers," according to the testimony of one who knew 
them wcU, (2) " in many points from that of the Hindus 
and other East-Indians. They are more lively, active, 
and industrious, and though fond of repose, are seldom 
idle when there is an inducement for exertion. When 
such inducement ofiers, they exhibit not only great 
strength, but courage and perseverance, and often accom- 
plish what we should think scarcely possible. But these 
valuable traits are rendered nearly useless by the want of 
a higher grade of civilisation. The poorest classes, fui'- 
uislicd by a happy climate with all necessaries, at the 
price of only occasional labour, and the few who are above 
that necessity, find no proper pursuits to fiU up their 
leisure. Books are too scarce to enable them to improve 

by reading, and games grow wearisome Folly and 

sensuality find gratification almost without efibrt, and 
without expenditure. Sloth, then, must be the repose of 

the poor, and the business of the rich Thus, life is 

wasted in the profitless alternation of sensual ease, rude 
drudgery, and native sport. No elements exist for the 
improvement of posterity, and successive generations pass 
like the crops upon their fields. Were there but a dis- 
position to improve the mind, and distribute benefits, 
what majesty of piety might we not hope to see in a 
country so favoured with the moans of subsistence, and 
so cheap in its modes of living ! Instead of the many 
objects of an American's ambition, and the unceasing 
anxiety to amass property, the Burman sets a limit to his 
desires, and when that is reached, gives himself to re- 

(1) Symes, vol. ii. p. 58. (2) Malcom, vol. i. p. 220. 


pose and enjoyment. Instead of wearing Jiimself out in 
endeavours to equal or surpass his neiglibour in dress, 
food, furniture, or house, he easily attains the customary- 
standard, beyond which he seldom desires to go." 

One hardly knows whether to call this " incorrigible 
idleness" (1) or no. It is certainly the same fatal consti- 
tution of character, or force of circumstances, which has 
ever conspired to prevent the Irish from rising in the 
scale of nations. But these are not the only similarities 
between the dispositions of the two nations. It is per- 
fectly fair to call the Burmese the Irish of the East. 

Yet they go beyond that nation in many of its worst 
characteristics. Servility, the inevitable consequence of 
despotism, prevails amongst them to a frightful extent, 
overcoming, in many instances, the sense of right im- 
planted in their bosoms as men. " Indeed," says an 
excellent authority, (2) " every Burman considers himself 
a slave, not merely before the emperor and the man. 
darins, but before any 'one who is his superior, either 
in age or possessions. Hence he never speaks of himself 
to them in the first person, but always makes use of the 
word Chiundo, that is, your slave. While asking for a 
favour from the emperor, the mandarins, or any respect- 
able person, he will go through so many humiliations 
and adorations, that one would imagine he was in the 
presence of a god. Even if he is desirous of obtaining 
something from one who is his equal, he wiU bow, and go 
on his knees, and adore him, and raise up his hands, &c." 
Yet gratitude is a virtue of great rarity. There is no 
such phrase in the language as, " I thank you." The 
statements of Sangermano contrast strangely with those, 
I think, of Crawfurd, whose remarks tend to the conclu- 
sion, that they never ask a favour. They consider that it 
is a favour to you to be allowed to gain merit by giving 
them something. This is not improbable. We learn, 
however, from others, that they will occasionally acknow- 
ledge an obligation by observing, " It is a favour." 

Slavishness naturdly leads to the remainder of the 
catalogue of mean vices. One of their principal precepts 
forbids lying ; but there is no ordinance so imiversaDy 
disregarcled. A person who t^lls the truth is con- 
sidered a good sort of person, but a fool, and incapable 

(1) Sangermano, p. 119- (2) Ibid. 


of managing his own affairs. (1) Inseparable from im- 
truthfulness is dissimnlation and deceit. TJiey practise 
these, also, to perfection. 

" But, as every rule will hare its exceptions," says the 
Jesuit, " it is not to be supposed that the Burmese have 
not some good qualities, and that estimable persons may 
not be found amongst them. Indeed, there are some 
persons, whose affability, courtesy and benevolence, gra- 
titude, and other virtues, contrast strongly with the vices 
of their countrymen. There are instances on record of 
shipwrecks on their coasts, when the sufferers have been 
^relieved in the villages, and treated with a generous hos- 
pitality, which they would probably not have experienced 
in many Christian countries." (2) 

Yes, let the faults of the Burmese be as they will ! let 
them be bad in every respect ! we cannot, will not, imagine 
these faults to be so deeply rooted, that a moderate and 
equitable government could not tear them up and destroy 
them. It is the corrupt administration, the merciless 
never-ending chancery-like avarice of the officials, that 
turns their hearts to stone, and makes them callous, and 
servile, and tyrannical. When the British army were at 
Prome, in 1825, when the Burmese tasted the blessings 
of Anglo-Indian justice, they showed as kindly a spirit as 
any could have done. It was shameful that the kindly 
Peguers should have been so deserted at the critical time, 
and that they should liave borne what the English army 
could not be made to feel. We muH liberate these people, 
we must wrest the sceptre from the palsied grasp of the 
cruel Burraan kings, even thougli we retain it ourselves. 
Then will the blessings of civilisation, and the peaceful 
arts that elevate man, extend a gentle sway over this 
misguided and persecuted nation. 

(1) Sangermano, p. 120. (2) Ibid. 





Alompra, the liberator of Burmah. 

We may safely say with Symes, even at the present 
time, that " there are no countries on the habitable globe, 
■where the arts of civilised life are understood, of -which 
"we have so limited a knowledge, as of those that lie 
between the British possessions in India and the empire 
of China." (1) And though of late years this knowledge 
has been materially increased, yet much remains to be 
told, much valuable information to be collected, ere we 
can boast of a full and true acquaintance with tlie country 
of Burmah and its capabihties. In the preceding pages, 
an attempt has been made (I am myself aware, how im- 
perfectly and unsatisfactorily), to give a short account of 
what we actually know of the state of civilisation in which 
they live : in the following chapters, it will be attempted 
to present the reader with an account of the historical 
events that have passed in the Burmau peninsula, from the 
rise of Alompra, the iirst king of any consequence, and 
the founder of the reigning dynasty, to the present time. 
I must here impress the fact of the meagreness of our 
knoAvledge of Burman history upon the reader, in order 
that he may not be disappointed. 

The geography of Ptolemy indicates the position of 
Burmah only by Aurea Kegio, Argentea llegio, and Aurea 

(1) Symcs, Ava, vol. i. p. I. 


Cliorsonesiis. The only iiiferorioo to be drawn from these 
facts, together witli ihat of Ptolemy distini^uisliini!: several 
places as Empor'ut. is. that which Symes draws, that there trade to those parts of Burmah and the Peninsula of 
Malacca at an early period. 

Our knowledi^e of the commercial relations of the an- 
cients with India has lately been extended by an interest- 
ing discovery made on the coast of Malabar, of Roman 
gold coins from Augustus downward. (1) 

Early in the sixteenth century we find the Portuguese 
masters' of ]Malacca, and it is from them only that we can 
learn anything concerning the habits of the nations then, 
as now, inhabiting that region. But so meagre and so 
overlaid with lictiou are their accounts, that it would be 
useless to take up time and space in. recounting their 
marvellous histories. 

The Burnums, though formerly subject to the king of 
Pegu, became afterward masters of Ava, and caused 
a revolution in Pegu about the middle of the six- 
teenth century The Portuguese assisted the Burmans 

against the Peguers, and if we may believe Pinto, per- 
formed prodigies of valour. But their influence rapidly 
declined in Burmah and Arakhan ; and on the ascendancy 
of the Dutch being established, they rapidly sunk into 
insignificance and contempt. The Enghsh and Dutch 
appear both to have had settlements in Burmah in the 
beginning of the seventeenth century ; but on the miscon- 
duct of the settlers, they were banished from Ava, and no 
European of any nation was permitted to enter the coun- 
try. In 1^)87, however, we find the English at Syriam 
and ISegrais, trading rather as private adventurers, than 
as on the part of the India Company. On the latter 
island, however, the government of Fort St. George had 
established a settlement. But men and money were 
M anting, and the colony seemed to have languished on, 
just keeping, as it were, above high-water mark. 

About the year 17-10, the Peguers in the provinces of 
Dalla, Martaban, Tongo, and Prome, raised the standard 
of revolt, and the nation being split into factions, a civil 
war ensued. In 174 1, the British fiictory in Syriam was 
destroyed, and thus an almost fatal blow was given to the 

(1) The particulars will be found in Captain Dnir>'s paper in No. V. of 
the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal fur 1851 ; and in Allen's 
Indian .Mail, vol. x, p. 265. 


commercial interests at stake in the country. The war 
lasted long, and was doubtful enough in its character, till 
the Peguers, by obtaining some indUQferent arms from a 
few Europeans still in the country, gained some advan- 
tages over the Burmans, and pursuing their victorious 
career, they invested the city of Ava in 1752. It soon 
surrendered, for the Burmese were sick at heart, and 
utterly discouraged. The king, whose name, according 
to Sangermano, (1) was Chioekmen, though Symes states 
it to have been Dwcepdee, (2) was seized, and, together 
with the whole court, carried to Pegu, where, after receiv- 
ing kind treatment for some time, he was barbarously 
murdered, after witnessing the slaughter of all his wives. 
Two of his sons, however, escaped into Siam, where they 
were kindly received. 

Bonna Delia, or Beinga Delia, king of Pegu, assured of 
the tranquillity of the country under his administration, 
returned to Pegu, leaving Apporaza in the government 
of the capital of Burmah. For some time everything 
seemed at peace, and all seemed to submit to the new 
government with a good grace ; but the lull was only the 
temporary calm that precedes a furious tempest. The 
avenger of Burman independence was about to arise, and 
tumble the now victorious king of Pegu from his tri- 
umphal chariot ! 

The chieftain of Moutzoboo, a small place about twelve 
miles from the river, had given his allegiance, but he 
brooded over the Avrongs of this race. (3) He felt that the 
Peguers were as dirt under the feet of the Burmans ; and 
it is not to be doubted, that he foresaw in a rebellion 
some advantage to himself. He was ambitious, and re- 
solved to set aU on the cast of a die. His name, Aoing- 
zaya (iaya), was a good omen to him ; (4) and we may well 
conceive that the resolute chief coimted on the aid of the 
divinity, since we find him assuming the style or regal 
name of Alaong-B'hura, or *' The A'owed to Buddha." (5) 
Like Charles Edward Stuart, he seemed to resolve on 
victory or a death, devoted to the God of his country. 

When Beinga Delia reached Pegu, he caused a pro- 
clamation to be made throughout his territories, in which 

(1) Burmese Empire, p. -17. (2) Ava, vol. i. p. 12. 

(3) My skftch nf the Uurmese revolution is derived from Symes. 

(4) The first is a Burmese word signifying victory j the second, Pali, for 
the same. — Crawl'urd, vol. ii. p. 281. 

(5) Jancigriiy, Indo-Chine, p. 255. 

II. 1.] ALOMPEA. Ill 

he set forth in frrandiloquent, and insolent expressions, 
the results of his campaigns. The proclamation, couched 
in the most odious and contemptuous words, increased 
the hatred of the Burmans, and caused them to long the 
more for the hour of vengeance. 

Alompra, or Alaong-B'hura, had at this time about a 
hundred followers on whom he could depend body and 
soul. Upon hearing of the proclamation, he judged that 
it was a favourable juncture for operation ; he, therefore, 
in his capacity of governor of Moiitzoboo, strengthened 
the stockade surrounding the town, and conducted every- 
thing so well, that he never caused any suspicion in the 
minds of tho Peguers. Indeed, their attention and force 
was ■ concentrated on the Burmese frontier, in order to 
oppose and destroy any force collected by the sons of 
Chioekmen. It may readily be understood, therefore, 
that the fifty Peguers at Moutzoboo, were easily over- 
powered and despatched by Alompra and his adherents. 
Probably he availed himself of some act of oppression or 
licentiousness on the part of the careless soldiery, and 
attacked them when least expected. Not a man escaped. 

Alompra now showed himself to be as dexterous a poli- 
tician, as he was prompt in action. Immediately after 
this event, he wrote to Apporaza in the most humble 
terms, expressing the greatest sorrow for the unhappy 
occurrences that had taken place at Moutzoboo, repre- 
senting it as a provoked affair wholly unlooked for, and 
as transitory as it was violent in its effects. It is even 
probable that he lu'ged upon the governor of Ava to in- 
vestigate the matter, in order that his attachment to the 
government of Pegu might be made more apparent. In 
conclusion, he expressed himself individually obliged to the 
governor for his forbearance, and professed himself an ad- 
herent of Beinga Delia. This epistle had the desired effect. 
Alompra's only object had been to gain time, and in this 
he perfectly succeeded. Apporaza, deceived by his hu- 
mility, took no immediate measures against him, and even 
([uittcd Ava, leaving the government in the hands of his 
nephew, Dotachew, with orders to keep Alompra in strict 
confijiement, when, in fact, the Peguers should be able to 
secure his person. 

The troop which had been detached for tho arrest of 
Alompra was considerably astonished at finding their 
entrance into Moutzoboo disputed. The gates of the 

112 Eort OF THE rcorEBs. [IT. 1. 

stockade wcro closed, and on their demandinj^ an entry, 
they were only laufrhed at and defied. "SMiat could they 
dor They were ill-anned, and ill-provisioned ; their dis- 
cipline was lax ; their cause rotten. If they opposed the 
Burmans, there was little hope of success ; and if ihey ran 
away, the dreadful fate whieli their wives and children 
would suffer stared them in the face. (1) 

Under these circumstances it was plain to them that 
they could only try the issue of a battle. These thoughts 
may have passed in quick succession throuj^h their minds ; 
and while they were yet uncertain, iUompra and his 
gallant band burst into the midst, and attacked them 
furiously with missiles, swords, and spears. The affrighted 
Peguers, scarcely acquainted with the power of the clumsy 
muskets they had with them, though most probably they 
had none or but few of these, feeUng that now, indeed, the 
Devoted to Buddha and his desperate irresistible band 
were upon them, threw away their arms and fled ; Alom- 
pra and the rest pursuing them on their way for Imo 
miles and more. The number of the Peguers thus routed 
are estimated at about one thousand. How fearful must 
the contest have appeared to the victory-drunken sol- 
diers ! The Burmese host seeming tenfold the number 
in the gray dawn of the morning, came down like an 
avalanche upon them, and swept all away whom it did 
not destroy. 

After an irregular pursuit for some distance, Alompra 
returned to his fortress, aware of the danger of trusting 
himself too near to a less panic-struck population. 
Arrived at that place, he addressed a few words to his 
comrades, telling them that they had now cast their for- 
tunes together, and that he and they were in as great 
danger; he called upon them all for assistance, and he 
invited the Burman towns in the neighbourhood to assist 
him in the glorious work he had beg\in so auspiciously. 
The Burmans were scarcely disposed to lend a willing ear 
to his exhortations, yet some places gave in their adhe- 
sion to his government. 

Such was the first decisive combat that was to change 
the fortunes of Burmah. 

Dotachew, with the characteristic irresolution of a de- 
puty, seems to have procrastinated frightfully. Probably 

(1) See booki. chap. ii. p. 40. 


he was a yountr man, utterly unacquainted with tlie art of 
war, and placed in the responsible position lie occupied by 
his uncle, merely that the important office shoidd not go 
out of the family ; possibly, his very inefficiency, by the 
stranfTc contradiction that always pervades a court, led to 
his promotion ; at all events ho was utterly unfit for his 
business, and at this time, when a few energetic measures 
would have crushed the rebellion at once, he was pecu- 
liarly unfitted by his disposition for this important duty. 
He was uncertain whether it would be more advisable to 
march against Alompra with the forces at his command, 
not exceeding three thousand, or to wait for reinforce- 
ments from Prome ; the third course was to retreat, or 
rather, in this case, to run away. I have not space to 
enter into a discussion of which the most advisable mea- 
sure would have been ; yet had he set lustily forward, and 
cheered his men by a good example, he would have led 
them on to a certain, though perhaps not easy, victory. 
However, he neither marched forward, or waited at Ava ; 
but discretion seeming to be the better portion of his 
valour, he ran away, and, terrified at the reports, no 
doubt exaggerated in every way, of the growing power of 
the enemy, he never stopped tiU he reached Pegu, toward 
the latter end of the autumn in the year 1753. Alompra 
meanwhile advanced on Ava, and, assisted by the enslaved 
Burmans in the capital, took the city, and put the few 
Peguers who had not pursued the valiant fortunes of 
Dotachew, to death. Alompra, however, hearing that the 
Peguese governor had fled, did not personally conduct 
the operations at Ava, but deputed this to his second 
son, Shembuan. himself remaining, or returning to 

Thus matters remained imtil Beinga Delia, the king of 
Pegu, afraid of losing the frontier provinces of Prome, 
Xeounzeik and Tambouterra, assembled a large army at 
Syriam under the generalship of Apporaza. This force 
departed up the Irawadi, in the month of January, 1754 
Both France and England had, established factories at 
Syriam again, at this time ; and, as the English leaned 
toward the Burman side, that was sufficient reason for the 
French to espouse the cause of Beinga Delia. However, 
aU their aid was secret, and until their neighbourhood 
became the seat of war, they did not proceed to active 

114 ArroRAZA. [II. 1. 

Apporaza, over whom a species of fatality seemed to 
hanjr, had again chosen a most improper and unfortunate 
season for commencin<T operations. He proceeded with 
extreme difficulty up the river, and, while hi.s troops were 
exhausting their strength amid the marshes of the Irawadi, 
the Burmans were preparing for the worst, and, having 
possession of a fine country, felt little uneasiness at the 
approach of the jaded Pegucrs. iS^o opposition was made 
to Apporaza, until he arrived near Ava itself, where strag- 
gling parties of the Burmans began to harass his army. 
"When near enough to the fort, he sent a message to 
Shembuan, calling upon him to surrender, in which case 
his life would be spared ; but vengeance of the most fright- 
ful kind was in store for him if he resisted. Shembuan, 
well knowing what value was to be attached to tlie profes- 
sions of Apporaza, merely replied, " that he would defend 
his post to the last extremity." 

Apporaza, not wilHng to waste time in a fruitless siege, 
determined to throw some cold water on the Burman 
cause, and particularly on the garrison of Ava, by accom- 
plisliiug something elsewhere. He thus hoped to restore 
the drooping spirits of his men, amonff whom sickness and 
labour had spread a sad confusion. Therefore he quitted 
his position at Ava, to oppose Alompra, Avho had collected 
a tremendous force at Iveoum-meouin, both soldiers and 
war-boats. Here again, though this was decidedly the 
most obstinately-contested battle, the Peguers gave way, 
and a report spreading that Shembuan was coming to 
attack their rear, they fled hastily. Shembuan presently 
did come, and the two armies pursued the luckless Peguers 
for many miles, thus gaining another great and important 

Yet the Peguers were not discouraged. Preparations 
were made to send forth another army to meet the f^ite of 
that which Apporaza had led to death, not victory. Fur- 
thermore, the Peguers showed themselves devoid of all 
political safracity, in taking a measure at this critical time 
which could not fail to seal the doom of his party. I said 
before, that the old kinir of Burmah was among the 
Peguers, and liad received kind treatment ; now, they 
completely changed their tactics, charged him with a con- 
spiracy, a charge probably not a\ ithout foundation ; impli- 
cated numbers of the Bm'maii nobility in the neighbour- 
hood, and agreed upon a simidtaucous slaughter of the 

II. 1.] SIEGE OF PBOME. 115 

obnoxious persons. Accordinfrly, on tlie 13tli of October, 
the Pe^ijuers rose, and lirst torturing and shiugliterinj^ the 
court of Chioekmen, drowned liim in a sack, and proceeded 
to the slau<;hter of tlie principal Burraans. The measure 
was not without its effects. The Burmans of Prome, 
DonabeAv, and the remaining border provinces, retaliated, 
and deserted to Alompra. 

But events were passing in his court of no little signi- 
ficance. Tiic eldest son of the deposed king had joined 
Alompra with a large force of the Quois or Yoos tribe in- 
habiting the country of Muddora, cast of Ava. But the 
prince, not having brains enough to sec that Alompra was 
lighting for himself, and not for any prince, as arrogantly 
as imprudently assumed the style and title of king. 
However Alompra would not brook two kings in Burmah, 
and the prince, soon seeing his mistake, fled to Siam. 
Alompra, enraged that the pseudo-king had escaped, 
slaughtered above a thousand of the Quois tribe, under 
pretence of a conspiracy. 

iVnnga DcUa, in the beginning of 1755, marched from 
Pegu upo]i the city of Prome, then occupied by a garri- 
son of Burmans. Here, however, he met with no degree 
of success, and when Meinlaw Tzezo, the commander 
sent by Alompra to relieve the town, approached, they 
had not the sense to engage him in open fight. After a 
litUe skirmishing, therefore, he eluded them, and threw 
himself into the place. 

Forty days passed without the Peguers gaining any ad- 
vantage, yet they prolonged the siege of Prome with no 
little obstinacy. But Alompra, with one of those tremen- 
dous marches for wliich he was so celebrated, soon came 
rushing down upon them, sweeping away men, stockades, 
war-boats, and everything else. Yet considerable bravery 
A\as exhibited in the naval portion of the battle. " In- 
stead of his ineffectual fire from ill-directed musketry," 
says Symes,(l) " the boats closed, and the highest personal 
prowess was evinced on both sides ; knives, spears, and 
swords, were their weapons ; after a long and bloody con- 
test, victory declared for the Burmans, whilst the van- 
quished Peguers sought safety in a precipitate flight." 

This defeat s])rcad consternation and horror throughout 
the Peguesc part of the po])ulatiou, and while the Bur- 

,r Av!|, vol, j.i'. 31, 

I 'J 


mans liailed the approackin^ change, the others fled in all 
directions. It was not any transitory panic, like many of 
those which had taken place before, but an enduring ter- 
ror, which relaxed both their mental and bodily strength, 
and drove them from their homes, and they wandered, 
Orestes-like, tlirough the land, not daring to lay their 
heads anywhere, for they knew not when the enemy would 
be upon them. 

No wonder, then, if a reconnoitring party of the Bur- 
mese discovered, on the 17th of February, 1750, that 
Bassein was utterly deserted by the Peguese population. 
The Burmese that were in the place joined AJompra's 
standard, and the populous emporium of Bassein was left 
to the English, who still remained under Captain Baker in 
their factory. On the 23rd, the Burman force returned, 
and marched up to the British post. Captain Baker re- 
ceived them peacefully, and claimed protection for the ser- 
vants and property of the India Company, which was 
granted liini. After remaining a short while, and burning 
the remainder of the town, they retired to Kioukioimgee, 
a town on the opposite side of the river Bassein. 

From this time to the 13th March, nothing of much 
consequence occurred ; but on that day Alompra, seeing 
the advantages likely to result from an alliance with Eng- 
land, sent a deputation to Captain Baker with a letter for 
Mr. Brooke, the head of the factories, then resident at 
Negrois. On the return of the captain with an order 
from Mr. Brooke that the deputies should accompany 
him to Negrais, the Burman? went to that place to trans- 
act the business. The objet^ts of the embassy were not 
settled until tlie 2Bth. when the deputies and Captain 
Baker went back to Bassein. But what was their asto- 
nishment to find it in the hands of tlie Peguers. who had 
occupied the ])lace three thousand strong. The captain 
was therefore obliged to send back the deputies to ]N^e- 
grais. By the 23rd of April, however, tlie district was 
again in the hands of the Burmans, as Alompra had again 
engaged and defeated Apporaza, at Synvangong. 

The deputies now returned to Bassein, at whicli place 
they arrived on the 3r(l of June, leaving it again on the 
5th for Dagon, as Jvangoon was then called, where Alom- 
pra was then staying. 

" The French and English factories at Syriam w(*re at 
this time in a state of rivalry, such as miglit be expected 


from tlie spirit of national emulation, and the avidity of 
traders on a naiTow scale; the situation of both became 
at this juncture highly critical ; danger approached, from 
which they could not hope to be entirely exempt. It was 
not to be expected that they would be suffered to remain 
in neutral tranquillity, indlfierent spectators of so serious 
a contest : it therefore became necessary to adopt some 
decided line of conduct, in order to avoid being considered 
as a common enemy, whilst the contending powers seemed 
equally anxious to attack them. In this difficult situation, 
neither the French nor the English seem to have acted 
with pohcy or candour; and the imprudence of certain 
individuals finally involved others, as well as themselves, 
in fatal consequences. 

" Monsieur Bourno, the chief of the French factory, in 
the interest of the Peguers, but apprehensive of the 
power, and dreading the success of the Birmans,(l) had 
recourse to dissimulation, and endeavoured to steer a 
middle course. Under pretence of occupying a station 
where he coidd more effectually aid the Peguers, he em- 
barked on board a French ship, and with two other ves- 
sels belonging to his nation, dropped dovATi from Syriam, 
and moored in the stream of the Kangoon river. Finding, 
soon after, that Alompra was likely to be victorious, he 
determined, if possible, to secure an interest in that 
quarter. With this intent he quitted his ship, accom- 
panied by two of his countrymen, and proceeded in a boat 
to Dagon, where Alompra received him with marks of 
distinction and kindness ; but on the second day after 
the departure of JM. Bourno, the officer whom he left in 
charge of the ship during his absence, in concert with a 
missionary who had long resided at the factory, either 
impelled by fear, or prevailed upon by some secret in- 
iluence, weighed anchor suddenly, and returned to the 
Peguers at Syriam, without permission from his com- 
mander, or even advising him of his intention. 

" So extraordinary a step surprised Alompra exceed- 
ingly ; he taxed Bourno with deceit ; the Frenchman pro- 
tested his own innocence, and argued the improbability of 
his assenting to any such measure whilst he remained in 
the Birman camp. He sent an order to his officers to 
return immediately ; an injunction that was disregarded 

(1) So Synies always spells the word. It is now generally spelt 


by tlicm, under plea of their commander being a prisoner, 
lie then requested leave from Alompra to go in person, 
and bring back the ship ; to this the king consented, on 
condition of leaving one of his attendants (Savine, a 
youth) as a hostage for his certain return. 

" From tlie procedure of IMr. Brooke, resident at 
Negrais, in his reception of the Birman deputies, and the 
aid of military stores sent by him to the liirmans, the 
English, when it became necessary to avow the side they 
meant to espouse, seem to have declared explicitly for the 
Birmans ; and this principle was adopted not only by 
the resident at Negrais. but also by the factory at Syriam. 
The Hunter schooner, belonging to the India Company; 
the J^lizaheth, a country ship, commanded by Captain 
Swain; and two other vessels, left Syriam in the month of 
May, and joined the Birmans at Dagon. In the begin- 
ning of June the Company's snow Arcot, bound to JS'egrais, 
commanded by a Captam Jackson, and having on board 
Mr. WhitehiU, a gentleman in the service of the East- 
India Company, proceeding to Negrais in an ofEcial capa- 
city, put into the Eangoon river through stress of weather. 
A boat that had been sent in to fetch a pilot returned with 
an account of the state of affairs ; and brought a letter 
and an invitation from Alompra to Captain Jackson, to 
carry his vessel up to Dagon, promising him every aid that 
the place afforded. On the Gth of June the Arcot reached 
Dagon, and Mr; "VMiiteliill went on shore to pay his re- 
spects to the Birman king, by whom he was recei\'ed in a 

manner that gave no apparent cause for complaint 

I' ntil the arrival of the Arcot, with Mr. Jackson and Mr. 
AYliitehill, no subject of offence seems to have been given 
to the English by the Birmans. "(1) 

Apporaza had about this time returned to Syriam, and 
assumed the command of the Pe^uese army. He saw, 
with sorrow and disgust, that the English were turning to 
the side of the usurper, and he attempted a diversion in 
favour of his master bv a negotiation with Captain Jack- 
son. This gentleman listened readily to the representa- 
tions of the general, and he attempted in every wav to 
cause a breach between illompra and the British. I'hat 
his endeavours met with some 8uccess may be judged by 
the fact, that wlicn, a short time after, the Peguers made 

(1) Symcs, vol. i. pp. .13- 19. 


an attack upou Dagon, the English sliips maintained a 
strict neutrality, though they allovrcd the Peguers to be 
beaten back. The Burraans became somewhat suspicious, 
still the assurances of friendship, and the promises of 
assistance, lulled them to rest again. Alompra quitted 
the district, — a sufficient guarantee for his trust in the 
English ; and after quelling the insurrection raised by the 
prince on the Siamese frontier, he docs not appear to have 
returned to Dagon. Meinla-Meingoun was appointed 
commander of the army. 

About this time the English commenced a correspond- 
ence with tlio Peguers, and concerted an attack with them 
in which they would assist them. Thus were the Peguers 
to be assisted by both the European fleets ! " Confiding 
in their new allies, and assured of victory, the war-boats 
of the Peguers during the night dropped down the Pegue 
river, and, with the French ships, moored in the streani of 
the Irawadi, waiting the return of tide to carry them to 
Hangoon. Dawn of day discovered them to the Birmans, 
whose general immediately sent for the English gentle- 
men, to consult on the best means of defence. At this 
interview the Birmans candidly acquainted IMr. WhitehiU 
how ill satisfied they were with the conduct of the English 
commanders during the late action, and desired a promise 
of more eftective assistance on the present occasion. Mr. 
WhitehiU replied, that withoiit the Company's orders he 
was not authorized to commence hostilities on any nation ; 
but if the Peguers lired on the English ships, it would be 
considered as an act of aggression, and resented accord- 
ingly. How much it is to be lamented," exclaims SjTues, 
" that such prudent and equitable principles were not 
better observed ! the departure from them affixed a stain 
on the national honour, which the lapse of more than forty 
years has not been able to ex])unge."(l) 

The forces of the Peguers were two large In'cnch ships, 
an armed snow, and two hundred teilee, or war-boats. In 
the afternoon, when within cannon-shot, the French ships 
came to anchor, and commenced cannonading the Bur- 
mese fleet, whic'li, to shelter itself from the lire nnd the 
galling musketry from the Peguese boats, had ])ulled into a 
creek, under a grove of maligo-trees, whence IIk^ lire was 
returned. They had here, too, raised a kind of fortifica- 

(1) Ava, ml. i. pp. sii-.'ij. 


tion, with a battery of a few ship cannon, which, from the 
awkwardness of the gunners, were of little use. " At this 
juncture," continues SyiJLies,(l) " the English ships Hunter, 
Arcof, and Elizabeth commenced a fire on the Birman 
fleet. Thus assailed by unexpected foes, the Birmans 
were obliged to abandon their boats, and take shelter in 
the grove. Had the Peguers improved the critical oppor- 
tunity, and pursued theii' advantage with resolution, this 
action miglit have retrieved their declining interests, and 
restored them to the possession of the lower provinces. 
In vain the Europeans persuaded them to attempt the 
capture of the Birman fleet ; too timid to expose them- 
selves to a close discharge of musketry from the grove, 
they were contented with the eclat of ha-sdng compelled 
the enemy to retreat from their boats, and the rest of the 
day was spent in distant random firing. Dui'ing the night 
the. English ships removed out of the reach of small-arms, 
two men being killed on board the Arcot. Tlie Peguers 
kept their situation for some days, during which much 
irregidar skirmishing passed ; when, having exhausted 
their ammunition without advancing their cause, the 
Peguers thought fit to return to Syriam, accompanied by 
the English and French ships, leai^ing the Birmans in 
possession of the fortified grove, and the lines of the 
newly-projected town." 

On the arrival of the English, Apporaza, who seems to 
have been Avell aware of the utility of such alhes, received 
them with every mark of kindness, and ^^■rote to Mr. 
Brooke at Negrais, ofiering him various advantages if he 
would enter into a compact with them. Mr. Brooke, dis- 
guising the feelings of vexation that he must have felt 
at the conduct of his oflicers, returned a courteous and 
friendly answer, but required the presence of Mr. A\Tiite- 
hiU and the English vessels. Accordingly, that gentle- 
man, escorted by twenty wai'-boats, quitted Syriam, and 
arrived at Negrais on the 2Gth of August. He was 
followed by the Hunter schooner, and the Arcof only 
remained behind, as it had to imdergo some repairs before 
being seaworthy. All this time Mr. Brooke was continuing 
his negotiations with Alompra, and he despatched Captain 
Baker and Lieutenant North to the king. Tliese gentle- 
men proceeded up the rivt>r but slowly, the torrent being 

(1) Vol. i. pp. 56-57. 


svrollen and rapid. Above Prome tliey met a detachment 
of Burman troops proceediuf^ to Daemon and the newly- 
founded city of Rangoon. Captain Baker had an inter- 
view with the chief, who was sanguine as to the result of 
the war. The meeting was embarrassing on both sides ; 
on the part of Captain Baker, because he had the strange 
occurrences connected with the Enghsh vessels to account 
for ; and on the part of the Burman general, as he was 
certain of the power and influence of the English, and 
totally ignorant of their intentions. Captain Baker !had 
the farther misfortune to lose his colleague, Lieutenant 
North, who died of dysentery a day or two after con- 
tinuing his journey. On the 8th of September, however, 
he reached Ava, the former metropolis, where he was 
civilly received by the governor. On the I6th he was 
summoned to Moutzoboo, to attend on the Golden Foot, 
for Alompra had now assumed the titles of the empire, 
as well as the emoluments. 

The interview was a characteristic one on both sides. 
The king, with aU the pride of an Eastern potentate 
elevated to the throne by his own endeavours, swelled with 
arrogance and vaunted of his successes. He justly cen- 
sured the duplicity, real or apparent, of the English at 
Dagon, reminding the envoy that he had tv^aied them 
kindly during his stay ; he said that it was far from 
gratefid thus to break all the promises that had been made. 

Captain Baker rephed with expressions of regret ; he 
solemnly declared that Mr. Brooke knew nothing of the 
aflair, had been very angry at its occurrence, and that 
the hostile movement was utterly unauthorized by the 
English resident. Alompra listened with attention and 
seeming satisfaction. So ended the first audience. 

At a subsequent meeting, permission was granted by 
the king for the erection of factories at Dagon and Bassein ; 
but the English never are satisfied, and therefore Captain 
Baker pressed his majesty to cede the island of Negrais. 
Strange it is, that, -VAhen, but a few days previously, the 
Burman cause had been totally deserted by the English, 
yet, upon the strength of a few paltry professions, the 
I3urme8e were supposed to have had siifficient confidence 
in them, as to lead to the sun-ender of an island of some 
little extent, commanding the finest port in the dominions 
of Alompra. However, the king showed policy, too ; for 
he neither granted nor denied their request, but left it 


for future decision. Baker was then dismissed, and re- 
embarked for Negrais on the 29th of September. 

Durini; tliis time, the Perruers had attempted the cap- 
ture of the Burman post at Da^on, with the assistance of 
the Arcot, and two other English ships. Ten thousand Pe- 
guers marclied round by land, and three hundred war-boats, 
toj^ether with a French vessel, accompanied the English 
ships. They were again repulsed by the Bunnans, who, 
probably under European direction, constructed lire-rafts, 
by which the French ship was placed in great peril. The 
land-forces, weakened by their own numbers, and de- 
prived of the co-operation of the fleet, retreated, and 
** never dared to hazard another enterprise." (1) 

But the Peguers were to suffer more. The Devoted to 
Buddha was coming, and who could stand against his 
bands? He attacked the fort of Svriam by land and 
water, and choosing the time of ebb-tide, when the 
French ship was aground, he attacked it with gun-boats. 
Upon this, Bourno desired to change sides again, and sent 
a letter to Alompra, oiTering fresh terms of accommoda- 
tion. But the Peguers suspected him of treachery, and 
removed him and his adherents into the fort of Svriam, 
leaving the factory and vessel deserted. These Alompra 
immediately seized, and he now let famine and disease do 
its work in the over-crowded place, and never quitted his 
position nntd the month of July, 175(3. The Peguers 
were gradually lulled into security, and Alompra seized a 
favourable opportunity, made a vigorous assault upon the 
place, and, though most of the garrison escaped, he made 
all the Europeans prisoners. 

" It has already appeared to have been the determined 
policy of the French to espouse the cause of the Peguers ; 
and had succours from IPondicherry arrived before the 
state of things became too desperate, alfairs would pro- 
bably have worn a different aspect, and the Peguers 
obtained such an addition to their strength, as would have 
enabled them to conclude a peace on advantageous terms. 
But assistance in war, to be efiectual, must be timely ; 
unless applied while the scales hang nearly even, it often 
comes too late, and is found not only to be useless, but 
even productive of deeper disappointment. In the ^u'esent 
case, the French brought th"ise supplies of wliidi the 

(I) Symes, vol. i. p. C;. 

ir. 1.] SEIZURE OF THE GALlTHIli. 123 

Petjiiers had lons^ buoyed themselves with hopes, at the 
unfortunate moment when the communication was cut 
off, when no rchef could be conveyed to them, and all 
prospect of retrieving their disastrous fortunes liad com- 
pletely vanished. 

" Mons. Dupleix, governor of Pondicherry, a man whose 
comprehensive mind perceived with clearness whatever 
could benelit his nation at this juncture, deeply engafi^ed 
in the important contest that was ultimately to determine 
the sovereignty of the East, being aware of the conse- 
quence of maintaining an influence in Pegu, (1) had, not- 
withstanding the exigencies of his own situation, equipped 
two ships, the Galatkie and Diligent, vessels of force, 
well manned and armed, and sent them, with a supply of 
military stores, to the assistance of the Peguers." (2) 

The Galaihie speedily arrived off the Burmese coast, 
but in consequence of mistaking the mouth of the Setang 
for that of the Kangoon embouchement, it did not get 
there in time. Alompra's spies, however, had already 
informed him of the approach of the inimical vessel, and 
when the captain sent up a boat for a pilot, it was seized. 
Alompra, then, after forcing Bourno to ^vrite a letter, 
encouraging the Galathie to come up the river, sent it 
with a pilot. Unfortunately for the IFrench commander, 
he fell into the trap, and on an*iving at Eangoon, he first 
learned in what position he was placed, and how fatal the 
matter had been to him. The Galathie was then seized, 
the arms and ammunition brought on shore, and the 
papers proved that these supplies were intended for 
the Peguers. (8) Alompra, upon being assured of this 
treachery, ordered the instant execution of Bourno, Mar- 
tine, and the rest of the French prisoners. " This san- 

(1) Compare the following observations of a late excellent writer upon 
India. '* M. Dupleix's wonderful talent for diplomacy and intrigue soon 
obtained signal triumphs. His emissaries were everywhere ; and the 
native princes were all as fickle as faithless. In his intrigues with them 
he is said to have derived wonderful assistance from his wife, who was 
bom in India, and perfectly understood not only the languages, but also 
the character of the natives. In his union with this lady, who is described 
as being even more ambitious than himself, we may probably trace the 
cause of the essentially Oriental spirit of many of his ])roceodings." — 
Macfarlaiic's History of British India, chap. iii. p. ID." We sluxll, here- 
after, have occasion to return to this work, in connection with the Bur- 
mese war in 182J-26. (2) Symes, vol. i. pp. 70-72. 

(3) Sangcrmano, however, shows, by the orilinancc of the jiort, that the 
seizure of tlic vessel and its contents was uothintj remaikable.— See his 
Bui'mese Empire, p. 170. 

124 FALL OF SYBIAM. [II. 1. 

giiinary mandate," concludes Symes, (1) "was obeyed 
with um-eleiiting promptitude ; a few seamen and Lascars 
alone escaped, and these were preserved for no other 
purpose than to be rendered of use in the further prose- 
cution of tlie war, and survived but to experience all the 
miseries of hopeless bondage." 

The Diligent was more fortunate. A storm had com- 
pelled her to take shelter at the JS^icobar islands, where 
she was obliged to remain some time. Adverse reports 
spread quickly, and the captain soon heard the sad fate 
of his countrymen, and he returned to Pondicherry with 
the evil tidings. The time had now passed, and Peguese 
supremacy and French ascendancy in Burmah might be 
numbered among the past events of history. 

It is strange, with the savage character that the man ever 
bore, that the French were the only victims on this occa- 
sion ; and it certainly argues more in favour of his justice 
than almost any action of his life. Policy, too, prevented 
him from offending the English at the time, though it is 
useless to disguise the fact, that they deserved quite as 
much, and even more than the French. The measures of 
Bourno had been infinitely more decided than those of the 
English, and an open enemy is ever more of a friend than 
a treacherous, creeping friend. But the tragedy was not 
at an end. 

Tliough the fall of Syriam " had determined the fate of 
the Peguers," yet they did not whoUy give up hope. I 
have already in a former chapter given a description of 
the capital of Pegu, (2) which I need not therefore repeat ; 
but still the following passage from Symes will prove of 
use in comprehending the detads of the siege : (3) — 

" Situated on an extensive plain, Pegue was surrounded 
with a high and solid wall, flanked by small towers, and 
strengthened on each face by demi-bastions, equidistant ; 
a broad ditch contained about three feet depth of water ; 
weUs or reservoirs supplied the to^\'n ; the stupendous 
pagoda of Shoemadoo,(4) nearly centrical, built on an 
artificial eminence, and inclosed by a substantial wall of 
brick, served as a citadel, and afibrded an enlarged view 
of tlie adjacent country. The extent, however, of the 
works, the troops necessary to defend them, and the nimi-^ 
ber of inhabitants within tlie walls, operated to the disad- 

(1) Vol. i. p. 74. (2) Book i. chap. vi. p. 103. 

(3) Symes, vol. i. p. 70. (4) Book i. chap. iii. p. 56. 

II. 1.] SIEGE OF PEGU. 125 

vantage of tlie besiejifcd, aud aggravated Ike distresses 
they -were shortly to endure." 

For Alompra, evidently perceiving the excellence of the 
plan pursued at Syriam in reducing his foes, again deter- 
mined to avrait the natural course of events, and let star- 
vation do its work in the ranks of the enemy. The siege 
of Pegu by Alompra is not dissimilar to the siege of 
Mexico by Cortes, and indeed, the whole progress of the 
movements of Alompra are worthy of comparison with the 
acts of the conqueror of MexicQ. Alike indomitable in 
character, energetic and swift in action, and fitfully cruel, 
though not insensible to the gentler voice of remonstrance, 
they stand as nearly side by side, as the semi-civilised, 
impulsive, and naturally politic Oriental, and the sternly 
educated, calculating, though rapidly acting ]<]uropean 
can. This is not the place for such a discussion, or many 
interesting coincidences might doubtless be elicited from a 
comparison of both their lives. 

As the Mexicans could look down from their ieocalU, 
and behold the relentless band of Spain around their 
walls, so could the Pegucrs look from the pagoda of Shoe- 
madoo, and behold the natural foes of their race waiting 
without, like sheriff's officers, until the beleaguered were 
too weak to hold the door against the besiegers. Meinla- 
Mein-goung was sent with a powerful detachment to com- 
mence the circumvallation of the town, and in a few days 
the Devoted to Buddha followed with the remainder of the 
army, and " sat down before the city," in the month of 
January, 1757. 

For two months the Burmans persevered in this plan, 
and, ever viijilant, allowed none to escape. The immense 
multitude of J'eguers, though but a small remnant of the 
nation, caused want to be soon felt ; discontent and mutiny 
were the consequence of the scarcity of provision, and it 
seemed as if the nation would fly to arms against itself. 
The danger of open revolt became every day more immi- 
nent. The royal family and oiiicers looked wistfully and 
anxiously from the pagodas, watching for the first intima- 
tion of any movement among their relentless besiegers. 
But it was all in vain. At this juncture. Beinga Delia 
summoned an assembly of all the famil}' and chiefs of any 
consequence. Apporaza, the king's brother ; Chouparea, 
his son-in-law and nephew; and a general named Talabaan, 
were among the principal persons in the assembly. The 

126 TALABAAN. [II. 1. 

kiiif^, after layini^ before llicm the utter hopelessness of 
resistance ; after remiuding them of the differences exist- 
ing between parties in the streets of Pegu itself; after 
calling upon them to avoid, by the best means in their 
power, the dreadful consequences of still stubbornly pro- 
longing their own sufferings, and feeding the rage of tlicir 
enemies, advised a timely submission, and offered to pre- 
sent his unmarried daughter to Alompra as a means of 
deprecating his anger. Such an act of homage, he con- 
cluded, was the only way he perceived of turning away 
the resentment of the Burraan conqueror. 

All heard this proposition with sorrow ; but there was 
nothing for it but to acquiesce. One chief present, liow- 
cver, ventured to remonstrate, and this was the valiant 
general Talabaan. He rose, and inveighing bitterly 
against such a course, reprobated the idea of submission ; 
he concluded a short but comprehensive speech, '" with an 
offer to sally forth at the head of six hundred chosen fol- 
lowers, and cither raise the siege, and procure an honour- 
able peace, or perisli in the attempt ; provided, iu the 
event of success, the king woidd promise to bestow on him 
his daughter as the reward of valour"(l) — for Talabaau 
secretly loved the maiden. 

The king assented to these terms, believing that Tala- 
baan would also perform what he had so well planned, and 
the council was dismissed. Apporaza, however, always 
indirectly or directly the cause of misfortune, having 
grown envious of the growing influence of Talabaan, 
worked upon the king's mind, representing that an alliance 
with Alompra was far more glorious than an alliance with 
such a pitiful, low-born personage as Talabaan. Overcome 
by the artful representations of Apporaza, seconded by 
the other chiefs, the king rescinded his assent. At this, 
Talabaau. disgusted with the ingratitude of Beinga Delia, 
assembled a few faithful attendants, sallied forth from 
the city, and forced his way through the niidst of the 
Burmans. He then escaped to the Setaug river, which he 
crossed, and then marched to his family estate of Mon- 
dimaa or Martaban. 

After the secession of Talabaan, the former measure 
proposed by the king of Pegu was carried out. Arrange- 
ments were made between the rival monarchs, and Beinga 

(i; Symcs, vol. i. p. 81. 


Delia was reinstated in his position as king of Pegu, being, 
however, subject to the king of Ava. 

" Some clays elapsed in festive ceremonies, during which 
both the besiegers and the besieged had frequent and 
almost uninterrupted intercourse ; the guards on botli sides 
relaxed in their vigilance, and small parties of Birmans 
found their way into the city, whilst the Peguers visited 
the Birman camp without molestation or inquiry. Alom- 
pra, who, it appears, had little intention of adhering to the 
recent compact, privately introduced bodies of armed men, 
with directions to secrete themselves within the city, until 
their services should be required ; arms and ammunition 
were also conveyed and lodged in places of concealment. 
Matters, however, were not managed with such circum- 
spection as to prevent discovery ; Chouparea, the king's 
nephew, received intimation of the meditated treachery ; 
he instantly ordered the gates of the city to be closed, 
and having found out the repositories where the weapons 
were lodged, and detected many Birmans in disguise, ho 
gave directions to put to death every man of that nation 
who should be found witliin the walls, and opened a lire 
upon such part of the Birman camp as was most exposed 
to 'he artillery of the fort. 

" Hostilities now recommenced with exasperated fury ; 
Apporaza with his royal niece were detained in the Birman 
camp ; the uncle under close confinement, "whilst the lady 
was consigned to the guardians of the female apartments. 
The Peguers having gained no accession to their strength, 
and added little to their stores, during the short interval 
of tranquillity, were not in a better condition than before 
to resist the enemy. The Birmans observed the system 
of warfare which they at lirst adopted; so that in six 
weeks, famine had again reduced the garrison to a deplor- 
able state of wretchedness and want ; the most loathsome 
reptiles were eagerly sought after and devoured, and the 
clamours of the soldiers could no longer be appeased. A 
few secret hoards of grain were by chance discovered, and 
many more were suspected to exist ; the crowd thronged 
tumultuously round the quarters of Chouparea, on whom, 
after the secession of Talabaan, and the imprisonment of 
Apporaza, the care of defending the fortress entirely de- 
volved. In order to silence and satis ly those whom he 
could not restrain, he ordered a general search for grain, 
and granted permission to the soldiers forcibly to cuter 


whatever houses fell under suspicion. This h'cense was 
dilifjently improved, and the house of a near relation of 
the king was discovered to contain more grain than eitlier 
the present situation of affairs or his own wants could 
justify. The deposit was demanded, and as resolutely 
refused. The crowd, authorized by the permission of 
Chouparea, proceeded to take by violence what was not to 
be obtained by entreaty ; a riot ensued, in which some 
lives were lost, and the prince was at len^h obliged to 
abandon his house. Repairing to the royal residence, he 
uttered violent invectives against Chouparea, whom he 
accused to the king of harbouring an intention to deprive 
his sovereign of life, and seize upon the imperial throne ; 
and advised his majesty rather to throw himself on the 
generosity of the besiegers, and obtain the best terms 
practicable, than hazard the danger to which his person 
and kingdom were exposed from the perfidy of a faitlilcss 
and powerful subject. The king, whose imbecilitv seems 
to have equalled his ill fortune, lent an ear to the com- 
plaints of a man stimulated by sudden rage and personal 
jealousy : the unhappy and distracted monarch resolved 
to pursue his counsel ; but being too timid openly to aVow 
his weakness and suspicion, he sent secret proposals to 
Alompra to surrender the city to him. stipulating for life 
alone, and leaving the rest to the discretion of the con- 
queror. According to the plan agreed on, the Birmans 
advanced to the gates, which were immediately deserted : 
thePeguers fled in the utmost panic ; many escaped in the 
confusion : tlie Pogne king was made prisoner and the citv 
given up to indiscriminate plunder.""(l) 

An affecting episode in the fate of the Peguese monar- 
chy was. however, yet to come. Talabaan, it will be 
recollected, had fled to Martaban, where his family re- 
sided. This cliief was as obnoxious to Alompra as anv 
one of the IVfrnese party. His influence was too great to 
admit of his being spared or forgotten. Therefore, after 
the reduction of Pegu, and the submission of all the comi- 
try around, he marched to Martaban with a considerable 
force. With the few adherents which still clung to the 
Peguese general, resistance was absurd ; he therefore fled 
to the woods, thinking that asxainst him alone would tiie 
I'csentment of Alompra be directed. Those that remained 

(1) Symcs, vol. i. pp. 83-8S. 


were seized by the king, and the unfortunate Talabaan. 
hoard in his retreat, that if he himself did not surr(>nder, 
the innoeent members of his family would l)e saerilieed to 
the fury of the eonqueror. All ])ersonal feeliiiji^s of fear 
now faded from his bosom ; he thouf^ht no longer of the 
vengeance that awaited him, but surrendering himself a 
voluntaiy prisoner, he thus preserved the dear relations 
" M'hom he loved more than life." Alompra was so much 
struelc with the unexpected heroism of the outcast, that he 
pardoned him, and subsequeutly raised him to a high 
position in his court. 

At this time the settlement of Negrais was in a critical 
position. The actors there had changed, and a Mr. 
Newton had succeeded Captain Howe, resident of the 
East-India Company, upon ]\Ir. Brooke's retirement. To 
this gentleman Alompra sent a message, requiring his 
presence at Prome. Mr. Ne^vton deputed Ensign Lyster 
thither. The envoy left Negrais on the 27th of June, 
1757, and proceeded to Bassein, where he had to await 
the arrival of Antonio, a native interpreter descended 
from a Portuguese family. On the 13tli of July, he was 
again en route, and on the 23rd he met Alompra on the 
Irawadi. He immediately had an audience, which led, as 
all first audiences do, to nothing. On the 29th, the king 
halted at Myan-aong, where a second audience took 
place. Alompra again adverted to the English treachery 
of Dagon, and, presenting some gifts of little value, in 
return for the presents from Negrais, he left the re- 
mainder to be settled between Lyster, Antonio, and i\\Q 
Acka-woon, or governor of the port of Bassein. After 
some boggling on both sides, the island of Negrais was 
ceded to the India Company in perpetuity, together with 
a piece of ground opposite Bassein, for a factory. The 
Company were to give arms and military stores in return, 
and aid against the king of Tavoy. This treaty, the 
result of bribery, according to Symes, (1) received the 
sanction of the king. On the 22nd of August, 1757, 
formal possession was taken by Ensign Lyster. 

After these events had taken place, Alompra returned 
to JMoutzoboo, the capital of the kingdom, and com- 
menced an expedition against the inhabitants of Cassav ; 
but he soon returned to the south, on learning that tlie 
Peguers had again revolted. 

(I) Ava, vol. I, p, p(}, 


Many of that nation had fled across the frontier of 
Slam, whence they now returned in ^reat force, defeated 
Namdeoda, tlie Bumiese general, and recaptured Ran- 
goon, Dalla, and Syriani. But upon Alompra's dread 
approach, the fortune of war chanjjjed. Namdeoda re- 
turned, retook the towns, and after a severe engagement, 
again overthrew the Pcguese force. 

At this time, Whitehill, who supposed his treacherous 
deeds forgotten, went to Eangoon witli a smaU vessel, laden 
with such things as were fitted for the trade to that port. 
But Alompra had not forgotten him. His vessel was seized, 
and he himself Avas sent to Prome, where he met the king 
returning from Moutzoboo. Alom]ira, ])robably to allay 
all suspicions on the part of the Englij^h as to the des- 

f)erate game he was about to play, spared Mi\ Whitehill's 
ife, though he made him pay a heavy ransom, and confis- 
cated his vessel. He was afterwards allowed to return to 
IJegrais in a Dutch ship. At this time, unhappily for 
Negrais, Captain Newton returned to Bengal, taking Avith 
him all the available force. He ariived in Calcutta on 
the 14th of May, 1759. 

The Armenians, the Jews of the East, ever envious 
and suspicious of the progress of the colonies under 
European administration, looked •with an evil eye upon 
the settlement of !N^egrais. Among those at that port, 
Coja Pochas and Coja Gregory, were particulai-ly hostile 
to the English. In Laveene, the French youth left by 
Bourno as a hostage, and who had found favour in Alom- 
pra's eyes, Coja Gregor}^ found a fitting instrument to 
execute the plot that he had contrived for the ruin of 
English prosperity in Burmah. Whether Alompra knew 
of the affiiir long before, is uncertain ; but it is to be in- 
ferred from the tenor of his actions, that he did not, when 
it came to liis knowledge, condemn it. 

Mr. Southby, to whom the government of Bengal had 
committed the care of the colony, disembarked from the 
Victoria snow, on the 4th of October, 1759. The Shaftes- 
bury East-Indiaman was also in harbour, having put 
in for water. Antonio, the Portuguese-Bunnan iinter- 
preter, came down to receive Southby, and was treated 
well by Mr. Hope, at that time in charge of Negrais, as well 
as by the new resident. Antonio's errand was, of course, to 
superintend the conspiracy that Avas about to burst on the 


heads of tlic devoted Englishmen ; but the pretext was to 
deUver a letter from Alompra. 

" The address and secrecy with which the intended 
massacre was concerted, gave, no room for taking any pre- 
caution. Antonio, who had paid a visit to Mr. Southby 
on the morning of the Gth, was invited by him to dinner 
on the same day, at a temporary building belonging to 
the English. "V\ hilst the entertamment was serving up, 
the treacherous guest withdrew. At that instant a 
number of armed IBirmans rushed into the room, and put 
Messrs. Southby and Hope to death. This transaction 
took place in an upper apartment. Messrs. Robertson 
and Briggs happened to be below with eight Europeans of 
inferior note ; a separate attack was made on these by 
another set of assassins, in which five Europeans were 
slain ; the rest, with Mr. Hobertson and Mr. Briggs, shut 
themselves in a godown, or storeroom, where they con- 
tinued on the defensive until the afternoon, when, receiv- 
ing a solemn assurance that their lives should be spared, 
they surrendered, and experienced the utmost brutality 
of treatment from the murderers. Mr. Briggs being 
wounded, and unable to move with the alertness required 
of him, was knocked down, and a period put to his suffer- 
ings, by having a spear run through his body ; the rest 
were escorted to the water-side, where Antonio, who had 
retired when the massacre commenced, was waiting with 
a boat to receive them. This fellow had the humanity to 
unchain the prisoners, and pursued his journey with them 
to Dagon or llangoon, where he expected to find the king, 
and, doubtless, to receive a reward for the meritorious 
part he had acted. 

" A midshipman, of the crew of the Shaftesbury, was 
about to enter the house when the slaughter commenced ; 
but on hearing the cries of his countrymen, and perceiving 
the danger, he fled to the water-side, wounded by a spear 
that was cast at him in his retreat. The Shafteshurys 
pinnace brought away the midshipman, with several 
black people belonging to the settlement ; the fury of the 
murderers being indiscriminately levelled against Euro- 
peans and their Indian attendants. The long-boat also, 
that had brought on shore some of Mr. Southby 's bag- 
gage, was fortunate enough to push (jfT before the Bir- 
raans could get possession of her, and letting the ensign fly 

K 2 


with, the union downward?, p^ave intimation to the ship, 
by that token, of some unexpected mischance." (1) 
I In the whoh^ of this diabohcal affair, Laveene, the ^'ounjr 
Frenchman, was actively engaged. The battery being 
seized, was turned by him against the Shafteshiiry, and 
the action continued the whole day. IS^ext morning the 
Burmese renewed their fire, but the Shaffcshnrij had 
hauled beyond the range of shot, and the Victoria fol- 
lowed Jier example. 

" That Gregory, the Armenian, was the principal insti- 
gator, is a fact of which no native of the country, who 
remembers the transaction, entertains the smallest doubts, 
as well as that Laveene was the principal agent and in- 
strument of execution. It is said that the former accused 
Mr. Hope, who commanded after the departure of Lieu- 
tenant Newton, of having supplied the Peguers with pro- 
visions, and sold to them four or five hundred muskets ; 
that he had taken pains to instil into his majesty's mind a 
persuasion, that the English were a designing and dan- 
gerous people ; who, having acquired Indian territory, 
Brst by fraud, and afterwards by violence, meditated the 
practice of similar treachery upon them ; and only waited 
a fit opportunity to wrest from him his empire, and 
enslave his subjects, as they had recently done in the 
instance of the unsuspecting and abused Mogid. He also 
added, that the governor of ]N'egrais prevented vessels 
from going up to Bassein, by which tlie royal revenue 
was defrauded. These arguments, whether groundless or 
founded, were sufficiently plausible to produce the desired 
effect ; and there is but too much reason to think that 
some provocation had been given, though, perhaps, of a 
trivial nature, and certainly not sufficient to warrant a 
step unjustifiable by every law, human and divine." (2) 
That Alompra had some share in the matter, can hardly 
be doubted. lie had received too many crosses from the 
Englisli during his conquest of Burmah, to forget. Besides, 
the heart of the Oriental despot always rankles with envy 
and pride. He looked for an opportunity to make the 
lilnglish feel his vengeance, and he seized it. Undoubt- 
edl)% the Portuguese and Frenchman had not forgotten 
the massacre of their own nations ; and the latter, in- 
vested with a little brief authority, did the most that his 
spiteful heart could do. 

(1) SppB, YOh I. pp. 106- lop, (2) lb, id. pp. na-n.v 

IX. 1.] cUaeactee of alompra. 133 

This event forms the last one of any consequence in the 
life of Alompva, the liberator and conqueror of Biirmah 
and Petju. The conquest of Tavoy slied a brief lin^lit upon 
lliis portion of his career, and feeling certain of success, 
he determined to let the Siamese feel his strength ; and 
he thought to have vengeance for the assistance tliat 
countr}^ had given to the Peguese, during his reduction of 
their power. He therefore sent an expedition against 
Mergui, and on the talcing of that place, the army pro- 
ceeded against Tenasserim, which soon yielded to the 
victorious Burmese. 

He now determined to march against Bangkok, the 
capital of Siam, and thus complete the conquest of the 
peninsula. However, disease overtook him ; tlie Devoted to 
Buddha, who had been a victor in a hundred battles, now 
succumbed to a single arm ; but it was the arm of death, 
the strong force that assails every conqueror. Alompra, 
though he perceived that his end was drawing near, did 
not lose his presence of mind, but ordered a countermarch 
to liis own country, that his arms might ^^^ ^^ sullied by 
a defeat. But he expired about the I5th of May, 1760, 
wlu^n witliin two days' march of Martaban. 

The following sketch of his character, by Symes, will 
form a fitting conclusion to this chapter : — 

" Considering the limited progress that the Birmans 
had yet made in arts that refine, and science tliat tends to 
expand the human mind, jVlompra, w^hether viewed in the 
light of a politician or a soldier, is undoubtedly entitled to 
respect. The wisdom of his councils secured what his 
valour liad acquired ; he was not more eager for conquest, 
than attentive to tlie improvement of his territories and 
tlu' prosperity of his people ; he issued a severe edict 
against gambling, and prohibited the use of spirituous 
liquors througliout his dominions ; he reformed the 
rhooms or courts of justice ; he abridged the power of 
magistrates, and forbade them to decide at their pri- 
vate houses on criminal causes, or on property where 
the amount exceeded a specified sum ; every process of 
importance was decided in public, and every decree regis- 
tered. His reign was short, but vigorous ; and had his 
life been prolonged, it is probable that his country would 
at this day have been farther advanced in national refine- 
ment and tlie liberal arts. 

•' Alompra did not live to complete his fiftieth year : 


his person, strongs and weU proportioned, exceeded the 
middle size ; his features were coarse, his complexion 
dark, and his countenance saturnine ; and there was a 
dignity in his deportment that became his high station. 
In his temper, he is said to have been prone to anger ; in 
revenge, implacable ; and in punishing faults, remorseless 
and severe. The latter part of his character may, per- 
haps, have arisen as much from the necessities of his 
situation as from a disposition by nature cruel. He who 
acquires a throne by an act of individual boldness, is com- 
monly obliged to maintain it by terror : the right of 
assumption is guarded with more jealousy than that of 
prescription. If we except the last act of severity towards 
the English settlers, his conduct, on most occasions, 
seemed to be marked by moderation and forbearance ; 
even in that one disgraceful instance, he appeared to have 
been instigated by the persuasions of others, rather than 
by the dictates of a vindictive mind ; and it is manifest, 
from the expressions of his successor on a public occasion, 
that it never was his intention to consign the innocent, 
with the supposed guilty, to the same indiscriminate and 
sanguinary fate. 

" Be the private character of Alompra what it may, his 
heroic actions give him an indisputable claim to no mean 
rank among the most distinguished personages in the 
page of history. His firmness emancipated a whole nation 
from servitude, and, inspired by his bravery, the oppressed, 
in their turn, subdued their oppressors. Like the deliverer 
of Sweden, with his gallant band of Dalccarlians, he fought 
for that which experience tells us rouses the human 
breast above every other stimulant to deeds of daring 
valour. Private injuries, personal animosities, commercial 
emulation, wars of regal policy, are petty provocations 
compared to that which animates the resentment of a 
people whose liberties are assailed, whose right to govern 
themselves is wrested from them, and who are forced to 
bend beneath the tyranny of a foreign yoke." (1) 

(1) Syraes, vol. i. p. 120 sqq. 



I Anaundopra — Zempiuscien— Chcng;aza— Paongoza— Men-ta-ra-gyee. 

"When tlio political liistory of a country conimencea 
"uitli one brij^lit and sliininj; event, it is hardly possible to 
make the continuation of its career otherwise than " stale, 
flat, and unprofitable." How true this is, "was amply 
proved by Prescott, in the case of IMexico and Peru, when 
with all tiie ma<;ical charm of his eloquent pen, ho failed 
to give the liistory of Peru the same attractive feature 
that he had presented in Mexico. If it were impossible 
then for a master-hand like his, to invest the lluctuating 
events of the civil wars of Peru with the graces of 
romance, how difficult will it be for me to do tlie same by 
those of Burmah ! 

The great event of Burman history, the elevation of 
Alompra to the regal or imperial dignity, overshadows all 
the subsequent occurrences in tliat history, although, con- 
sidered by themselves, thoy form not the least interesting 
episodes of Oriental story. I sliall endeavour, in the fol- 
lowing pages, to present them, as they are, to tlie reader, 
begging him to bear in mind the iirst sentence of this 

Alompra, on his death-bed, left the succession unsettled, 
though, according to Sangermano, (1) he had stipulated 
for the successive administration of Ids seven sons. Whe- 
ther this was really the case, is impossil)le to say ; but tlie 
eldest brother seems to have ascended the throne with- 
out dispute. His name was Anaundopra; but, as Synies 
observes, " neither the mandates of law, nor the claims 
of equity, can curb the career of restless ambition ;"(*i) and 
as it had proved insufficient to restrain the father, it was 

(1) Burmese Empire, p. 48. (2) Ava, vol. i. p. 124. 


insufficient to restrain the son. Tlicmbuan, or Zem- 
]>iiiscien, whom we have seen in the government of Ava, 
raised a revolt against iiis brother's administration. Bnt 
he had not the solid talenl of his father, and his claims 
were scarcely recognised by his immediate followers ; con- 
sequently it is not very extraordinary that his rebellion 
fell to the ground. He hastened to give in his submis- 
sion, and his brother appears to have been forgiving 
enough, for he was soon restored to favour. 

But the flame of rebellion and revolution was kindled. 
It wanted but little to f\m it into a fornudable sheet of 
ilre. During the absence of Zempiuscien at Moutzoboo, 
the general Meinla Nuttoon, marcldng through the lo^A'er 
country, raised the standard of revolt, and seizing upon 
Tongho, marched upon Ava, which, intimidated by the 
force attached to his interests, immediately surrendered. 
It were foreign to my purpose to give a detailed account 
of this insurrection. I will only say, tliat it required 
all the strength of the king to quell it. The siege 
of Ava was protracted for seven months, as (Nuttoon 
expected assistance from Siam. 

" These expectations were not realized. Supplies from 
the country failed, and want began to make ravages 
within the walls, although the magazines, which at the 
commencement of the siege were full, had been husbanded 
with the utmost economy. Discontent is ever the con- 
comitant of distress. The governor of Mayah Oun, who 
had embraced Nuttoon's fortune, deserted from the fort. 
Flying to Mayah Oun, he collected his adherents ; but not 
being able to resist the royal forces, they set fire to the 
town, and betook themselves to the woods and jungles, 
whence they afterwards withdrew to the eastern pro- 
vinces, where the authority of the Birman monarch was 
yet scarcely recognised. The rebels had likewise evacu- 
ated the fort of Tongho. Towards the end of the year, 
the garrison in Ava was reduced to the greatest extremity, 
and their numbers diminished above one-half by sickness, 
famine, and desertion. In this helpless state, without any 
chance of relief, JS^uttoon made his escape from the fort 
in disguise ; but had proceeded only the distance of two 
days' journey, when he was discovered by some peasants, 
and brought back in fetters. The fort of Ava fell shortly 
afterwards by the flight of its commandant. Such of their 
uuibrtimate adherents as could not eflect their escape, 

II 2.] zEMnusciEN. 137 

were witliout mercy put to cloatli. Nuttoon, likewise, suf- 
fered the doom of a traitor." (1) 

This was, liowever, not all. Another revolt was raised 
by the viceroy of Tougho, an uncle of the kin^j^'s. How- 
ever, Anaundopra marched to Tougho, and took the place 
after a siege of three months, and, according to Sanger- 
mano, (2) put him to death. Symes, however, infoi'ms us, 
that he ^A as kept a close prisoner in the fort of Ava till 
his death. (:3) 

Talahaan, too, raised a rebellion, which was, however, 
very soon ended by the seizure and execution of that 
general. " So long as that monarch [Alompra] lived, he 
conducted himself like a dutiful servant : the death of his 
sovereign, however, cancelled in Talabaan's breast tlie 
bonds of duty and gratitude, and, though faithful to the 
father, lie took the earliest opportiinity to revolt against 
the sou." (1) In INIarch, 1761. the king breathed his last, 
of the same scrofulous complaint that killed his father, 
leaving behind an infant son named Momien. The nu- 
merous rebellions against his government would lead us 
to expect immense strictness in his character ; but he is 
represented as only severe in matters of religion ; except 
in tliis particular, his administration was forbearing and 
moderate. The insurrections were more probably induced 
by the double reason of ambition on the part of the 
revolution, and by the necessary restraint which follows 
the unlicensed liberties of war. The people were accus- 
tomed to feel themselves masters of all, and now, the 
turbulent and unsettled reign of Alompra 'having closed, 
they chafed and bit at the cord like irascible dogs. 

Zem])iuscien, as the nearest relation to the infant 
mouarch, became regent of Burmah, though the authority of 
the child was probably never recognised, either by regent 
or people. After some time, mdeed, he openly assumed 
the crown, and, at the petition of a sister of Alompra, 
sent Momien to the priests, instead of murdering him, 
as he intended. His reign was warlike, and marked 
with many rebellions and revolutions, which, though 
raging for the moment, had no effect beyond the fury of 
tlie moment. The principal event and shame of his life, 
cannot be better told than in the words of Symes. (5) 

(1) Symes, vol. i. p. 147 sq. (2) Burmese Empire, p. 49. 

(3) Symes, vol. i. p. 150. (41 lb. id. p. 1 51. 

(5) lb. id. p. 191 sqq. 


" Whatever respect the glory of conquest, and the 
wisdom of a "v^ell-rejrulated government, might attach to 
the reign of Shembunn, it must be wholly obscured by 
the cruelty exercised on the present occasion [the taking 
of Kangoon from the Pegucrs, who had again rebelled] 
towards his royal prisoner, the unhappy king of Pegue ; 
and this, too, like a more recent and equally inhuman regi- 
cide, (1) in a nation professing Christianity and enlight- 
ened by science, was perpetrated under the mockery of 
justice. Shembuan, not content with exhibiting to the 
humbled Peguers their venerable, and yet venerated 
monarch, bound in fetters, and bowed down with years 
and anguish, resolved to take away his life, and render 
the disgrace still deeper, by exposing him as a public 
malefactor, to suffer under the stroke of the public execu- 
tioner The process of law in Birman courts of 

justice, is conducted with as much formality as in any 
country on earth. Beinga Delia was brought before the 
judges of the Rhoom, among whom the Maywoon of Pegue 
presided. The late king of Pegue was there accused of 
having been privy to, and instrumental in exciting the 
late rebellion. Depositions of several witnesses, supposed 
to be suborned, were taken ; the prisoner denied the 
charge ; but his fate being determined on, his plea availed 
him nothing. He was found guilty ; and the proceedings, 
according to custom, were laid before the king, who 
passed sentence of death, and accompanied it by an order 
for speedy execution. In conformity with this cruel man- 
date, on the 7th of the increasing moon, in the month 
of Taboung, (2) the aged victim was led in public proces- 
sion through an insulting population, to a place called 
Awabock, three miles without the city, where he met his 
doom with fortitude, and had no distinction paid him 
above the meanest criminal, except that all the municipal 
officers attended in their robes of ceremony to witness his 
last moments." 

The death of Beinga Delia preceded his own by but a 
short space of time, for Zempiuscien, or Shembuan, died 
in the spring of 1776. 

His son and successor, Zinguza or Chenguza, presented 
very different traits of character to those of any of Alom- 
pra's dynasty. He ])lunged into the wildest excesses of 

(1) Syraes alludes to the fate of lK)uis XVI. 

(2) See book i. chap. iv. p. 78. 

II. 2.] ZINQUZA. 139 

debauchery, and left the government to the mal-adminis- 
tration of a corrupt court. This proved fatal to him. The 
excesses of king and ministers did not pass by unheeded. 
Momien, his cousin, had not forgotten that ho had an 
equal right to the throne, and the disgusting murder 
committed on the queen, afforded a pretext for revolt. A 
conspiracy had been formed by one of Alompra's bro- 
thers, Men-ta-ra-gyee, the queen's father, and one of the 
ministers whom Chenguza had insulted ; Momien was used 
as a tool to elevate Men-ta-ra-gyee to the throne. This 
young man, (1) " taking advantage of his [Chenguza's] ab- 
sence, advanced by night to Ava, in company with about 
forty inhabitants of a village called Ponga, and without 
experiencing any resistance, made himself master of the 
palace. Upon which the youth of Ava, and the neigh- 
bouring places, came eagerly to be enrolled, and take up 
arms in favour of the new king ; who, in the space of five 
days, was in possession of the person and kingdom of 
Zinguza. But the usurper, whose name was Paongoza, 
from the long abode he had made in Paonga, by these 
rapid and successful advances, only served as a means to 
Badonsachen [the former name of Men-ta-ra-gyee], the 
reigning sovereign, to mount upon the throne. For 
scarcely had he taken possession of the palace, than he 
called together all his uncles and made them an offer of the 
kingdom ; saying, that according to the dispositions of 
Alompra, to them it belonged. J3ut they suspected this 
ingenuous declaration of Paongoza to be nothing more 
than a maUcious contrivance to pryj into their secret 
thoughts, and upon their accepting his offers, to give him 
a pretence for their destruction ; and therefore not only 
declined to receive it, but declared themselves, by drink- 
ing the water of the oath, his subjects and vassals 

Paongoza then raised them to their, former state, and 
restored all the honours whereof they had been deprived 
by Zinguza. But they, a few days later, took that by 
force, which, when peacefully offered, they had not dared 
to accept. For on the 10th of February, 1782, they sud- 
denly entered the palace, seized Paongoza, and placed on 
the throne Badonsachen, third (2) son of Alompra. He, 
according to custom, caused the deposed monarch to be 
thrown into the river, calling him in scorn the king of 

(1) I continue the narrative in the words of Sangermano, p. 50. 

(2) Accordiiig to Malcom (vol. i. p. 157), the/our//« son. 

1-^10 EEVOLT OF MOMIEN. [II. 2. 

seven clays. (1) Paongoza at tlie time of his death, 
had only reached his twentieth 3*ear. On the fol- 
lowing day the unf.jrtunate Zinguza underwent the 
same fate, in liis twenty-sixth year ; and all his queens 
and concubines, holding their babes in their arms, were 
burnt alive." 

The particulars of the taking of Zinguza by Momien, or 
Moung-Moung, are as follows: (2) — 

Chcnguza had gone to Keoptaloum, a place on the 
banks of the Irawadi, about thirty miles from Ara, to 
celebrate a festival. As he was never regular in his time 
of going in or out, no one could tell when lie would 
return ; indeed, he was often late. Having obtained a 
royal di'ess, Momien presented himself at the portal shoe- 
dogaa. and demanded admission. But the haste of the 
conspirators betrayed them to the sentinel, who, opening 
the wicket, and then attempting to close, called out, 
*' Treason ! " However, it was too late, the guards were 
cut down, and the gate thrown open to the assailants. 
These, together with a body of men placed in ambuscade, 
occupied all the approaches to the palace, and kept it in a 
complete state of Ijlockade. The various court officials, 
on the approach of the rebels, shut themselves up within 
the inclosures of the palace. Consternation and fright 
prevailed through the city all the night ; the assailants 
were expected to attack them, but, in conformity with 
the Eastern and American custom, they did not attack 
the place till the morning, when they then blew open one 
of the palace-gates. They were gallantly met. however, by 
the guard, commanded by an Armenian, named Gabriel, 
who caused no small havoc among them, by three dis- 
charges of artillery from the guns on the top of the gate. 
However, the conspirators were too strong, or the de- 
fenders too uncertain as to whom thev might be con- 
tending with, to withstand them long. ^Tabriel was killed 
by the thrust of a spear, and then his party fled. Thus 
Momien obtained a speed}- and decisive victor}', little 
dreaming of the speedy fate that awaited him ! 

Chcnguza was now proclaimed an outlaw, and an armed 
force was detached to arrest him. But he had received 
timely notice of the fall of his administration, and, leaving 

(1) His rcipn, however, inclufled eleven days. — Synies, vol. i. p. '22^. 

(2) My chief authority is Symes, vol. i. p. 218 sq. 


all his court boJiind, escaped to Cliafjaing, were lie "was 
immediately besief|;ed. Cheuguza at lirst thought of de- 
fending himself; but linding that lie was deserted by 
those on vrhom he placed his chief reliance, after a resist- 
ance of four days the resolution failed, and he determined 
on flying to the Cassay country, there to throw himself on 
the protection of the Munnipoora Eaja. Tliis intention 
he privately communicated to his mother, the widow of 
Shembuan Praw, who resided in his palace m the city of 
Ava. Instead of encouraging her son to persevere in so 
pusillanimous a resolve, she earnestly dissuaded him 
from flight ; urging that it was far more glorious to die 
even by ignoble hands, within the prccincts of his own 
palace, than to preserve life under the ignominious clia- 
racter of a mendicant fed by strangers, and indebted for a 
precarious asylum to a petty potentate. Cheuguza yielded 
to his mother's counsel, and preferring death to a disgrace- 
ful exile, caused a small boat to be privately prepared, and 
kept in readiness at the gaut or landing-place ; disguising 
himself in the habit of a private gentleman, and attended 
only by two menials, he left Chagaing by break of 
day and embarking, rowed towards Ava, on the oppo- 
site shore. When the boat approached the principal 
gaut. at the foot of the walls, he was challenged by the 
sentinels on duty ; no longer desirous of concealing him- 
self, he called out in a loud voice, that he was '* Cheuguza 
Namdogy-yeng Praw ; — Chenguza, lawful lord of the 
palace." A conduct at once so unexpected and so resolute, 
struck the guards with astonishment, who, either over- 
awed by his presence, or at a loss how to act for want of 
instructions, suffered him to proceed unmolested ; the 
crowd, also, that so extraordinary a circumstance had by 
this time brouglit together, respectfidly made way for 
him to pass. Scarcely had he reached the gate of the 
outer court of the palace, when he was met by the Atta- 
woon, father of the princess whom he had so inhumanly 
slain ; Chenguza, on perceiving him, exclaimed, *' Traitor, 
I am come to take possession of my right, and wreak 
vengeance on mine enemies!" TJie Attawoon instantly 
snatched a sabre from an attendant officer, and at 
one stroke cut the unliappy Chenguza through the 
bowels, and laid him breathless at his feet. !Xo 
^as found to prevent or avenge bis death ; be ft 

ell iinla» 

142 MEN-TA-BA-GYEE.. [II. 2. 

mcntcd, as lie had lived despised." (1) Sucli was the end 
of a monarch, accelerated, probably, by his own daring, 
which we cannot call heroism, but desperate madness. 

Men-ta-ra-gyee, in the forty-fourth year of his age, at a 
period of life at which men have generallv acquired sta- 
bility of character and estimation, ascendea the throne of 
his father, the Devoted to Buddha, whose spirit seems to 
have lived on in the bosoms of some of his families. But 
this king, under the fatal curse that seems to give the 
race of Alompra no rest, had no quieter reign than any of 
his predecessors. *' Kings," observes the ingenious writer 
Symcs, " have other enemies to guard against, than 
avowed foes or rival competitors ; the wild maniac 
or fanatical enthusiast, often under the influence of 
frenzy, directs the poignard to the breasts of monarchs. 
The Birman king had but a short time enjoyed the 
crown, when he had nearly been deprived of his life and 
diadem by a person of this description. Magoung. a low- 
born man, unconnected with, and it is said, without the 
privacy of any person of condition, who had always been 
remarkable for the regularity of his actions, and a gloomy 
cast of thought, had influence enough to form a con- 
federacy of one hundred men as visionary and desperate 
as himself. This troop bound themselves in secrecy and 
fidelity to each other by an oath ; their object was to take 
away the life of the king ; but to answer what end, or 
whom they designed to elevate, is not ascertained. These 
desperadoes, headed by Magoung, at daybreak in the 
morning, made an attack on the palace. The customary 
guard over the king's dwelling consists of seven hundred, 
who are well appointed and kept about on duty. Kot- 
withstanding that, the attempt had nearly succeeded : 
bearing down the sentinels, they penetrated into the in- 
terior court, and the king escapea, from the casual cir- 
cumstance of being in the range of apartments belonging 
to the women, which he was least accustomed to frequent. 
His guards, who at first shrunk from the fury of the 
onset, quickly rallied ; their courage and numbers over- 
powered the assassins ; and Magoung was slain, with all 
his associates, within the precincts of the palace." (2) 

Another insurrection speedilv followed. A fisherman 
of the name of JS atchien, a Peguer of Eangoon, proclaimed 

(1) Symes, vol. i. pp. 221-224. Saagcrmauo's account, it will be per- 
ceived, is somewhat different. (2) Ava, vol. i. p. 231. 

II. 2.] CITY OF AVA. 113 

liimself the deliverer of the Peguers, and called upon that 
nation to rise jigainst the Burmans, He succeeded in 
raisiujL? a tumult, in which some of the officials of the 
l?hoon\ were slain ; however, the matter was soon put 
do\^■n by the Peter Laurie of the town, and an examina- 
tion imphcated some five hundred of the inhabitants of 
llangoon, who were executed. This was the last attempt 
made by the Peguers to throw oflf the Burman yoke. 
Prom this time forward his actions seem to have been 
offensive rather than defensive. In 1783 he commenced a 
war witli the independent kingdom of Arakhan, which he 
subdued, and added to his dominions. In 1786 he made 
an incursion into Siam, and secui'cd himself in the pos- 
session of Tavoy and Mergui. In 1810 he fitted out an 
enterprise against Junk Ceylon, an island belonging to 
the Siamese, and to which they were all so unwilling to 
go.(l) But from this place he was subsequently expelled 
by the enemy, and many of the Burmans were sent to 
Bangkok as slaves. This king, after a long, glorious, and 
cruel reign, of which a considerable part was directed 
against the priests, expired in his eighty-first year, at the 
beginning of 1819. 

It may here be not uninteresting to give some accoimt 
of the city of Ava, the capitiil of Burmah, whence the 
kingdom has sometimes been so called. (2) It lies in lat, 
21° 50' N., long. 96° E., and was made the capital of the 
country for the third time in 1822. The original name 
of the place is Augwa, corrupted in Awa and Ava ; but in 
public writings it is always named Eatnapura, the City of 
Gems. Montmorency has given a description of the place, 
which I epitomize. 

The city of Ava is surrounded by a brick wall fifteen 
and a half feet high, and ten feet thick ; there are innu- 
merable embrasures at about the distance of five feet from 
each other. The south and west faces of the town are de- 
fended by a deep and rapid torrent, called the Myit-tha, 
leading from the Myit-nge, which is not fordable. On the 
east the Myit-nge forms a considerable part of the defence. 
The Irawadi. opposite Sagaing and Ava, is 1,091- yards 
broad. Tlie circumference of Ava is about five and a lialf 
miles, excluding the suburbs. " In general," Si\ys Craw- 
furd, " the houses are mere huts, thatched with grass. 

(1) Sec book i. chap. ii. p. 40. 

(2J My chief authority is Crawfiu'd, vol. ii. pp. 1-9. 

141 TEMPLES OF AVA. [II. 2. 

Some of tlie dwellings of the chiefs arc constructed of 
plauks, and tiled, and there are probably in all not lialf a 
dozen houses constructed of brick and mortar. Poor as 
the houses are, they are thinly scattered over the exten- 
sive area of the place, and some lar^je quarters are, indeed, 
wholly destitute of habitations, and mere neglected com- 
mons. Including one large one in the suburb, lying between 
the town and the little river, there are eleven markets 
or bazaars, composed as usual of thatched huts or slieds : 
the three largest are called Je-kyo, Sara-wadi, and SJian- 
ze."{l) The temples are very numerous, and present a 
gorgeous appearance from a distance, " far from being 
realized," according to Crawfurd, " on a closer examina- 
tion. Some of tlie principal of these may be enumerated : 
the largest of all is called Lo-ga-thar-bu, and consists of 
two portions, or rather two distinct temples ; one in the 
ancient, and the other in the modern form. In the former 
there is an image of Gautama, in the common sitting 
posture, of enormous magnitude. Colonel Symes ima- 
gined this statue to be a block of marble ; but this is a 
mistake, for it is composed of sandstone. A second very 
large temple is called Angava Sc-kong ; and a third, Ph'ra- 
I'ha, or ' the beautiful.' A fourth temple, of great cele- 
brity, is named Maong-Hatna. This is the one m which 
the public officers of the government take, with great for- 
mality, the oath of allegiance. A fifth temple is named 
Maha-mrat-muni ; I inspected an addition which was 
made to this temple a short time before our arrival. It 
was merely a Zayat or chapel, and chiefly constructed of 
wood : it, however, exceeded in splendour everything we 
liad seen without the palace. The roof was supported by 
a vast number of pillars : these, as well as the ceihngs, 
were richly gilt throughout. The person, at whose ex- 
pense all this was done, was a I3urman merchant, or 
rather broker, from whom we learnt that the cost was 
forty thousand ticals, about £5.000 sterling. When the 
building was completed, he respectfully presented it to 
his majesty, not darivfj to take to himself the whole 
merit of so pious an undertaking." (2) The reader may 
bear in mind the similarity between these temples and 
those of the Peruvians. 

a) Av^, vol. U, p. 5, (2) lb. id. p. 6. 


British intercourse with A va — Alves's mission — Symes's mission — Canning 
— King Nun-Sun — Rise of the Burmanwar — Its origin in official aggres- 
sion — Evacuation of Cachar. 

We must now return somewhat upon our steps, to 
observe the ehanp^es which had taken place in European 
relations with the native kincjs. We have to look back to 
the time of the decease of Alompra. Doubtless, had the 
Encrlish force in Burraah been adequate to the execution 
of such a measure, ample revenjije would have been taken, 
or rather, ample satisfaction would have been enforced, 
for the brutal massacre of the English at Negrais : but 
their means were not up to the mark. " Perhaps, also," 
as Symes remarks, " they were not ignorant that a 
discussion of the causes might only produce useless 
explanations : a conjecture that is, in some degree, cor- 
roliorated by there being no steps taken at any subsequent 
period when the British superiority in Asia had crushed 
all rivalry, to vindicate the national honour, and chastise 
the perpetrators of the cruelty." (1) Most probably, how- 
ever, the English government was sensible that the part 
their countrymen had acted had been a treacherous one, 
and that it would not do to have it thrown in their faces, 
as it undoubtedly would have been. In this case the 
French would have succeeded in their darling scheme of 
shaking the importance of the English in the country, for 
the acbomplishment of which they have never in any way 
omitted any opportunity, supporting their plans also by 
that form of assertion, which admits of contradiction, but 
can never be disproved : and a like system of falsehood 
had been pursued by the English. 

It was, however, necessary to make some appeal in 
behalf of the remaining Europeans, and Captain Alves, 

(1) Avn, vol. i. 1). 131. 


mIio had broiifjht the sad news to Bengal, was the man 
selected for the negotiation. He was charfjed with letters, 
which, while they show little desire to uphold the dig- 
nity of England, yet manifest a praiseworthy and heart- 
felt interest in the fate of the British. They were signed 
hy Mr. Holwell, the governor of Bengal, and j\Ir. Pigot, 
the governor of Madras. The letter of the latter gentle- 
man, indeed, was of a more independent character, " and 
intimated expectation that the murderers of the English 
settlers should be brought to punishment ; a requisition 
that was little attended to, and which the British govern- 
ment of India never manifested any inclination to en- 
force." (1) 

Captain Alves sailed from Madras with these letters on 
the 10th of May, 17()0. He did not steer direct for 
JN^cgrais, but addressed a letter to Gregory the Armenian, 
then Ackawoon of Eangoon, whom it was desirable to 
conciliate, and after exaggerating his influence at court, 
he entreated his good oifices in behalf of the captives. 
With these letters a present of some value was sent. On 
the 5th of June, he arrived at Diamond Island, near 
Negrais, when he reconnoitred the disposition of the 
natives. However, his fears were removed, and he landed. 
Upon this, Antony came down, and was received with 
hypocritical cordiality by Alves, and the interpreter tried 
all he could to prevent his being considered guilty. In 
a short time he received a letter from Mungai Narrataw, 
one of the royal family, inviting him to liangoon ; he 
thought it politic to go thither, and arrived on the 5th of 
August. There seemed to be little objection to the release 
of the prisoners, and Mr. Bobertson was permitted to 
accompany Captain Alves to Bassein. Meanwhile, Gre- 
gory the Armeuian,returned, bearing a letter from Anaun- 
dopra, or Namdogee-Praw. " In the translation, which 
Gregory, as interpreter, delivered to Captain Alves, the 
crafty Armenian introduced passages favourable to him- 
self, attributing the obtainment of any attention to his 
intercession ; these interpolations were fabricated, as the 
imperial mandate did not even mention the name of 
Gregory." (2) Accordingly, on the 22nd of August, Alves 
took his departure from Bassein, and, tliough much an- 
noyed by the officials, he ariived at Chagaing, the then 

(1) Ava, vol. i. p. 133. (2) Symcs, vol. i. p. 138, 


capital, on tlio 22nd of September, -witliont any important 
event occurrinsx in the interim. 

On tlie 23rd, Alves had an audience with the Icinpf. 
His majesty seemed surprised that the Enj^lisli sliould 
desire any satisfoction for the punishment which had been 
dealt out aj^ainst the Company's servants in consequence 
of their own ill behaviour. At the same time he regretted 
the accident which had involved Mr. Southby in their 
fate, yet it was unavoidable; "for," said the king, "I 
suppose you have seen that in this country, in the wet 
season, there grows so much useless grass and weeds in 
the fields, that in dry weather we are forced to burn them 
to clear the groimd : it sometimes happens that there are 
salubrious herbs amongst these noxious weeds and grass, 
which, as they cannot easily be distinguished, are indis- 
criminately consumed with the others ; thus it happened 
to be the new governor's lot."(l) To the other demands, 
re'garding restitution of property, a decided refusal was 
returned, except as regarded the Company's goods ; but the 
release of the British prisoners was acceded to. " Having 
given an order for the release of all English subjects that 
were prisoners in his dominions, he desired that two of 
the most prudent should remain to take care of the tim- 
bers, and reside at Persaim,(2) where he consented to give 
the Company a grant of as much ground as they might have 
occasion to occupy, under the stipulation that their chief 
settlement should be at Persaim, and not at Negrais. He 
assigned as a reason, that at Negrais they would be ex- 
posed to the depredations of the French, or any other 
nation with whom the English might be at war, without a 
possibility of his extending that prolcciion to them that he 
wished : but of which they could always have the full 
henejit at Persaim. "(3) But at the same time he stipu- 
lated for an equivalent in arms and other goods, which 
were eonditional/j/ promised Knn. 

Falsehood and treachery rarely go unrewarded. And 
be it ever so well disguised, some hook ivill tear a hole 
in the garment and show the nakedness beneath. Sud- 
denly, the interpreter Gregory was discovered in his 
plans, and his punishment was quick, just, and severe ; 
indeed, he nearly lost his life. 

The transactions concluded, Captain Alves at length 

(1) Alves in Jcumal quoted by Symes, vol. i. p. lio. 

(2) Bassein. (3) Symes, vol. i. p. 112. 

L 2 


left Chagaing^ for Persaim ; and leaving Messrs. Hobert- 
8on and Helass at tliat place, he proceeded to Kancjoon, 
•wlience lie returned \>j the 14th of November. Having 
completed his mission, he then sailed for Bengal, wliich 
lie reached before the end of the year. From this time 
down to 1795, under the administration of Men-ta-ra-gyee, 
nothing of importance occurred in the colony. And here 
I cannot do better than offer a few remarks of Mr. 
Macfarlane, tlie historian of British India, already 
referred to : — 

" Ava and the Burmese empire either held a direct 
sovereignty or exercised control over nearly one-half of 
the vast regions described in maps as India beyond the 
Ganges. . . By a series of conquests they had overthrown 
all the adjacent nations, and had advanced their frontier 
to the shores of the Bay of Bengal, and close to the limits 
of the Company's territories. They proved but trouble- 
some and encroaching neighbours. During Lord Wel- 
lesley's administration, in 1799, when the mass of the 
Anglo-Indian army was engaged in the last war against 
Tippoo Sultaun, tlie Burmese made frequent attacks, and 
were very troublesome on our then weak eastern fron- 
tier, (1) As exclusive and anti-social as the Chinese, and 
quite as proud and insolent in their bearing towards 
foreign envoys, and foreigners of all classes, it was diffi- 
cult to establish any intercourse with them, or to obtain, 
by pacific representations, any redress of grievances.- 
T^heir government, too, was subject to frequent and san- 
guinary revolutions, insurrections, and rebellions ; one 
tyrant being murdered, and succeeded by another." (2) 

In 1795, Symes was deputed to the arrogant Men-ta- 
ra-gyee, to remonstrate against the incursions of the 
Burmese troops. " In 1795," says Maefarlane, " a Bur- 
mese army of five thousand men pursued three rebel- 
lious chieis, or, Jis they termed them (and as they might 
be), robbers, right into the English district of Chitta- 
gong. A strong detachment was sent from Calcutta to 
oppose these Burmese ; but the officer in command had 
orders to negotiate — not to fight. After some tedious 
negotiations, which ought not to have been allowed to 
occupy a single hour, the violators of our frontier conde- 
scended to agree to retire ; and they retired, accordingly, 

(1) Marquis WcUoslcy's Itulian D(5spatchcs, ^-c. 

(2) Macfarlanc's History of British India, p. 355. 

II. 3.] CANNING. 149 

into their own country. Nor was this all. These three 
men, who had taken refuge in our territories, were subse- 
quently given up to the Burmese, and two out of tho 
tliree were put to death with atrocious tortures. "(1) 
Little, however, came of the colonel's embassy, " except," 
as our historian goes on to remark, (2) " a very interest- 
ing book of travels." In the year 1809, a French ship 
attacked a small island belonging to the Burmese, and tho 
Golden Foot, not understanding the difference between 
French and English, (3) sent a sort of mission to Calcutta 
to expostulate against the proceeding, and to demand 
satisfaction. As this seemea to open the door of tho 
jealously-guarded court of Ava to some diplomatic inter- 
course. Lord Minto despatched Lieutenant Canning on. 
an embassy. This officer reached Hangoon ; and the 
king of Ava, ft*om the midst of his white elephants, 
decreed that the Englishman should be allowed to proceed 
to the capital, in all safety and honour ; but the incur- 
sions into the Company's territory at Chittagong of a 
predatory tribe of Burmese, called the Mughs, and other 
untoward events, broke off an intercourse which never 
could have promised any very satisfactory residt. Both 
our embassies to Ava appear to have been capital mis- 
takes, for they exhibited to a semi-barbarous and vain- 
glorious people a number of Englishmen in a very 
humiliating condition, and in the attitude of supplicants. 

" Lieutenant Canning returned to Calcutta, and 
disputes continued to occur on the frontiers of Chitta- 
gong and Tippera. As they were not met by bayonets, 
the Burmese grew more and more audacious ; and at the 
time when Lord Minto gave up his authority in India to 
the earl of Moira, the King of the World and the Lord of 
the White Elephants was threatening to march with 
forty thousand soldier-pilgrims, from Ava to Benares." 

We will now return to the history of the Bur- 
mese monarchy. At the death of Mcn-ta-ra-gyee, his 
gnindson, Nun-Sun, " The Enjoyer of the Palace," aa- 

(1) Macfarlane, I.e. 

(2) In 180*2 Symcs a^n visited Burmah for a diplomatic purpose ; but 
his letters, while they modify his book, add little of value to our know- 
ledge of the country. 

^3) This is, however, very problematical. Mr. Macfarlane cannot have 
forgotten the whole i)revious history of European intercourse with the 
country, and how many distinctions and quibbUngs were brought forward 
at different times upon that plea. 

150 KING KUN-SUN. [II. 3. 

cended tlie throne. His father, the heir-appareut, was 
the idol of the people, but an early death had deprived 
him of the crown to wiiich he "vras so justly entitled. Out 
of policy, Men-ta-ra-gyee, some of whose acts had con- 
tributed to render unpopular, adopted IS^un-Sun, his son, 
to the exclusion of the rest of the lamily. The history of 
this prince is thus given by Malcom : (1) — 

" He was married in early life to a daughter of his 
uncle, the Mekaru prince ; but one of his inferior wives, 
daughter of a comparatively humble officer, early acquired 
great ascendancy over his mind, and on his coming to the 
throne, m as publicly crowned by his side. On the same 
day the proper queen was sent out of the palace, and now 
lives in obscurity. His plan for securing the succession 
shows that he was aware that even the late king's will 
would not secure him from powerful opposition. The 
king's death was kept secret for some da3*s, and the 
interval employed to station a multitude of adherents in 
dilTereut parts of the city, to prevent any gatherings. On 
announcing the demise, the ceremony of burning Mas 
forthwith performed in the palace-yard, at which he 
appeared as king, with the queen by his side, under the 
white imibrella, and at once took upon himself all the 
fimctious of royalty. Several suspected princes were soon 
after executed, aud many others deprived of all their 
estates Two years after his accession, the king re- 
solved to restore the seat of government to Ava. To this 
he was induced, partly from the great superiority of tlie 
latter location ; partly from the devastation of a iire 
which burnt a great part of Umerapoora, a\ ith the prin- 
cipal public buikUngs ; partly from a desire to create a 
more splendid palace ; and partly (perhaps, not least) from 
the ill omen of a vulture lighting on the royal spire. (2) 
The greater part of his time, for two years, was spent at 
Ava, in temporary buildings, and suj)crint ending in person 
the erection of a palace, twice the size of the old one, and 
other important buildings. During this period, man}' 
citizens, especially those who had been burnt out, and 
numbers ot the court, settled in the new city, and the 
place became populous. On completing the palace 
(February, 1824), the king returned to I'merapoora, and, 
after brilliant parting festivities, came from thence with 

(1) Travels, vol. i. p. 159. (2) See Sangemiano, p. 113, 


great pomp and ceremony, attended by tho various 
governors, Chobwant, and highest oflicers. The proces- 
sion, in which tho -white ck^phant, decorated witli gold 
and gems, was conspicuous, displayed the glories of the 
kingdom, and great rejoicings pervaded all ranks." 

It was at this time that the portentous omens that had 
menaced the Burman monarchy found a corroboration in 
truth ; the glow of enmity, never to bo extinguished 
even in the hearts of civilised men, fiinned by the 1)roatli 
of presumption, had burnt into a flame that scorched and 
scared the weaker party. We must stay a while to con- 
sider the causes, and which led to the appeal to arms in 

It may be imagined that an outbreak of some kind was 
far from being unexpected on the part of the Anglo- 
Indian government. There were two interests striving 
against each other and the world — or rather the Indian 
world — within the territories of Burmah. The first of 
these, creating more apparent commotion and less real 
damage, was the struggle between the dog-like royal 
family for the bone-like tiara ; the second, more dan- 
gerous and more concealed, was the envious and ava- 
ricious passions of the nobles, or more properly, tho 
olUcials employed by the Burmese government to defeat 
its wishes and objects ; a task Avhich the officials of every 
administration seldom fail to perform to the complete dis- 
satisfaction of all parties. This has been the true cause 
of many disturbances in Burmah ; and I am compelled to 
dissent in some degi'ee from that feeling which causes 
Professor Wilson to say, that, " animated b}' the reaction, 
which suddenly elevated the Burmaus from a subjugated 
and humiliated people, into conquerors and sovereigns, 
the era of their ambition may be dated from the recovery 
of their political independence ; and their liberation from 
the temporary yoke of the Peguers was the prelude to 
their conquest of all the surrounding realms." (1) This 
might be very true of the immediate successors of the 
great Alompra ; but the power of the dignitaries had, by 
the time of which we now speak, risen to a very great 
pitch, which insensibly overawed and restrained the 
holder of the diadem, whoever he might be ; and though, 

(1) Wilson's Narrative of tlie Burmese War, p. 1 of the reprint of 


indeed, the ** vigorous despotism" of Meu-ta-ra-^yce might 
temporarily set at defiance iliis incomprehensible power, 
yet under the goverjmient of Nun-sun, the distant 
viceroys llrst, and gradually the less remote officers, re- 
sumed their former powerful position. And though they 
acted in subordination to the crown, and showed a species 
of heroism in defending its interests, yet they had raised 
the storm ; and it was for them, they knew, to battle with 
it, and uphold that single bond, the destruction of which 
would have been totally ruinous to them. 

The organized forays into our territory of Chittagong 
hardly assumed any definite form until the end of 1823. 
" The Burmans," says Professor Wilson, " claimed the 
right of levying a toll upon all boats entering the mouth 
of the river, although upon the British side ; and on one 
occasion, in January, 1823, a boat laden with rice, having 
entered the river on the west or British side of the 
channel, was challenged by an armed Burman boat, v hich 
demanded duty. As the demand was unprecedented, the 
Mugs, who were British subjects, demurred paj-meut ; on 
which the Burmans fired upon them, killed the manjhee, 
or steersman, and then retired. This outrage ^Aas fol- 
lowed by reports of the assemblage of armed men on the 
Burman side of the river, for the purpose of destroying 
the villages on the British territory ; and in order to 
provide against such a contingency, as well as to ])revent 
the repetition of any aggression upon the boats trailicking 
on the Company's side of the river, the militar}^ guard 
at Tek-naf, or the mouth of the Naf, was strengthened 
from twenty to fifty men, of w hom a few were posted on 
the adjoining island of Shapuri; a small islet or sand- 
Lank at the mouth of the river on the British side, and 
onl^ separated from the mainland by a narrow channel, 
which was furdable at low water." (1) 

This act attracted the attention of the Arakhan viceroy, 
who tliereupon demanded its unconditional surrender, 
claiming it as the property of the Burmese government. 
This was certainly untrue; and the existence of many 
documents and facts, favourable to the British claims, 
caused the resident to propose a friendly discussion of the 
matter. The fruitless negotiation met an almost deci- 
Bive blow on the 21th of Septi-mber, when one thousand 

(1) Wilson, 1). 25. 


Burnians landed and overpowered the British force, 
" killing three and wounding four of the sipahees sta- 
tioned there." 

" In order, however," observes Wilson, " to avoid till 
the last possible moment the necessity of hostilities, the 
government of Bengal, although determined to assert 
their just pretensions, resolved to afford to the court of 
Ava an opportunity of avoiding any collision. With this 
intent, they resolved to consider the forcible occupation of 
Shapuri as the act of the local authorities alone [as, in 
the first case, it probably was], and addressed a declara- 
tion to the Burman government, recapitulating the past 
occurrences, and calling upon the court of Ava to disavow 
its oilicers in Arakan. The declaration was forwarded by 
ship to Kangoon, with a letter addressed to the viceroy of 
Pegu. The tone of this despatch was that of firmness, 
though of moderation ; but when rendered into the Bur- 
mese language, it may, probably, have failed to convey 
the resolved and conciliatory spirit by which it was dic- 
tated, as subsequent information, of the most authentic 
character, established the fact of its having been mis- 
understood as a pusiUanimous attempt to deprecate the 
resentment of the Burmese ; and it was triumphantly 
appealed to at the court of Ava as a proof that the British 
government of India was reluctant to enter upon the con- 
test, because it was conscious of possessing neither courage 
nor resources to engage in it with any prospect ,of suc- 
cess ; it had no other effect, therefore, than that of con- 
firming the court of Ava in their confident expectation of 
reannexing the eastern provinces of Bengal to the empire, 
if not of expelling the English from India altogether." (1) 
However, the British reoccupied Shapuri, and stockaded 
themselves in that post, while, in retaliation, the Burmese 
seized upon the master and ofEcers of the Company's 
vessel Sophia, and sent them up the country. 

To continue the story in the words of Macfarlane, who 
has here ably epitomized the history of Wilson : — " More 
and more conhrmed in their idea that we were afraid, 
from four thousand to five thousand Burmese and Asa- 
mese advanced from Asam into the province of Cachar, 
and began to stockade themselves at a post witliin five 
miles of the town of Sylhet, and only two hundred and 

(1) Wilson, p. 20 sq. 


twenty-six miles from Calcutta. Major Newton, the 
officer commaiidin<ij on the Sylhot frontier, concentrated 
Kis detachment and marched ajjainst the invaders. It 
was at daybreak on the 17th of January, 1824, that he 
came in sight of their stockade and of a villafje adjoinin*^, 
of which they had taken possession. The Burmese in the 
village presently gave way, but those in the stockades 
made a resolute resistance, and were not driven out until 
they had lost about one hundred men, and had kiUed six 
of our sepoys. They then fled to the hills. Shortly after 
this action, Mr. Scott, our conmiissioner, arrived at 
SyUiet, and from that point he advanced to Bhadrapoor, 
in order to maintain a more ready communication with 
the Burmese authorities. On the Slst of January, Mr. 
Scott received a message from the Burmese general, aa ho 
justified his advance into Cachar, and declared that he 
had orders to follow and apprehend certain persons 
wherever they might take refuge. In reply, this Burmese 
general, who held the chief command in Asam, was told 
that he must not disturb the frontiers of the Company, 
nor interfere in the afiairs of its allies ; and that the Bur- 
mese invaders must evaciuite Cachar, or the forces of the 
British government would be compelled to advance both 
into Cachar and Asam. To this communication no answer 
was received. 

" It was clearly the object of the Burmese to procras- 
tinate the negotiations until the)'^ had strengthened them- 
selves in the advanced positions they had occupied. The 
'rajah of Synteea, who had been imperiously summoned 
to the Burmese camp, and commanded to prostrate him- 
self before the shadow of the Golden Foot, threw himself 
upon the British government for protection ; and various 
native chiefs, whose territories lay between the frontiers 
of the Burmese empire and the frontiers of the Britisli 
dominions, called loudly for English aid. Thus, the 
south-east frontier of Bengal had in fiict been kept in 
constant dread and danger of invasion for more than a 
year, while the adjoining and friendly territories had 
been exposed to the destructive inroads and the over- 
bearing insolence of the Burmese and Asamese, for many 

'* Major Newton did not follow the Burmese lie had 
routed, but, after driving them from their stockade, he 

II. 3.] MAJOi; NEWTON. 155 

returned to Syllict, and withdrew the wliolc of his force 
from Cachar. Ahnost as soon as the major Avas A\i(]iiii 
his own frontier, the Burmese advanced again into the 
country from wliieh he had driven them, and stockaded 
some stroui^er positions. They were joined by another 
considerable force, while another detachment, 2,000 stronuj, 
collected in their rear, as a reserve, or column of support. 
Still advauciuij^, and stockadintj^ as they advanced, the main 
body of the Burmese pushed their stockades on the nortli 
bank of the river Surma, to within 1,000 yards of the 
British post at Bhadrapoor. Captain Johnstone, who 
commanded at that post, had but a very small force Avitli 
him, yet he succeeded in dislod(rin<i^ the invaders from 
their uniinished works at the point of the bayonet, and in 
drivini; them beyond the Surma. This was on the llith 
of February. On the followini]^ day, Lieutenant-Colonel 
Bowen joined, and took the command over Captain Jolin- 
stone, and instantly marched in pursuit of the retreatint; 
enemy. They were found stockadini^ themselves in a 
strong position on the opposite bank of the Jelingha. 
As soon as our troops were over, and had lixed their 
bayonets, the Burmese cleared out of their stockade, and 
fled to the hills. But there was another division of the army 
of the Lord of the White Elephant, Avhich had stockaded a 
much stronger position at Doodpatlee, where their front 
was covered by the Surma river, and their rear rested 
on steep hills. The exposed face of this intrenchment 
was defended by a deep ditch, about fourteen feet 
wide ; a strong fence of bamboo spikes ran along the 
outer edge of the ditch, and the approach on the land 
side was through jungle and high grass. Lieutenant- 
Colonel Bowen, however, marched against this formidal)lc 
stockade, and attacked it. The Burmese remained passive 
till our troops advanced to the bamboo spikes, when they 
poured upon them a destructive and well-maintained ilre, 
which completely checked their advance, although they 
kept their ground. AYhen Lieutenant Armstrong had 
been killed, and four other ollicers wounded, and about 
150 of our sepoys killed or wounded, Bowen called off 
the attacking party, and retired to Jatrapoor, at a short 
distance. On the 27th of February, Colonel Innes joined 
the force at Jatrapoor, with foi^i* guns and a 1>attalion of 
fresh troops, and assumed the command. But, iu tho 


mean Avliile, tlie Burmese had retreated from their for- 
midable position, and retired into their own country, 
evacuating the whole of Cachar." (1) 

Sucli uas the orijjin and early process of a war fated 
to be most disastrous to all parties concerned in it. AVe 
must not introduce so jjreat a man as the Maha Bundoola 
at the close of a chapter ; so we end it here. 

(1) Macfarlaiie's British ludia, pp. 460-452. 


Bundoola — Retreat of Captain Noton — Defeat at Ramoo — Repulse of the 
Burmans — Burmese account of the war— Rangoon expedition — Descrip- 
tion of Rangoon. 

Maha Men-gyee Bundoola, the iDurman general, was 
one of the best of the subjects of the monarch of Ava. 
He owed his proud position, not to the empty promoting 
system of a European court, but, like an adventurer in a 
brave and warlike country, he rose from the ranks, and, 
pioneer-like, cut away the overhanging branches between 
liimself and his honourable goal. Such a change of for- 
tune is not uncommon in Oriental countries ; but it is 
uncommon to find little court favour at work in his 
slevation. He had fought and received honour and solid 
pudding, yet he had an end to expect, and the culminating 
point of his fame had now arrived, and cab-like, he would 
tiave to take care of the post at the corner. That post 
fvas the Anglo-Indian army, and he hazarded himself 
upon the chance of overthrowing it, with what success will 
iiterwards be seen. 

" It has been already noticed," says "Wilson, (1) " that 
I large Burman force had been assembled in Arakan, 
inder the command of the chief military officer of the 
itate of Ava, Maha Men-gyee Bundoola, an officer who 
i'njoyed a high reputation, and the entire confidence of 
:he court, and who had been one of the most strenuous 
idvisers of the war ; in the full confidence that it would 
uld a vast accession of power to his country, and glory to 
limself. His head-quarters were established at Arakan, 
ivhere, probablv, from ten to twelve thousand Burmans 
^ere assembled. Early in May, a division of this force 
'rossed the Naf, and advanced to Eutnapullung. about 
iburteeu miles south from Eamoo, where they took up 

(1) Burmese War, p. 52, cd. 1852. 


their position, and gradually conocntrated tlicir force to 
the extent of about eip^lit thousand men, under the com- 
mand of the four rajas of Arakan, Eamrce, Sandawav, and 
Chcduba, assisted by four of the inferior members of the 
royal council, or atwenwoons, and acting under the orders 
of Bundoola, who remained at Arakan. 

" Upon information being received of the Burmans 
having appeared, advancing upon llutnapullung, Captain 
Isoton moved from Kamoo with the whole of his dis- 
posable force, to ascertain the strength and objects of the 
enemy. On arri^dng near their position, upon some hills 
on the left of the road, in which the Burmans had stock- 
aded themselves, they opened a smart fire upon the de- 
tachment, which, however, cleared tiie hills, and formed 
upon a plain bej^ond them. In consequence, however, of 
the mismanagement of the elephant-drivers, and the want 
of artillery details, the guns accompanying the division 
could not be brought into action ; and as without them it 
was not ])0ssible to make any impression on the enemy. 
Captain Koton judged it prudent to return to his station 
at Ilamoo, where he was joined by three companies of 
the 40th native infantry, making his whole force about 
one thousand strong, of whom less than half were regu- 
lars. With these. Captain Noton determined to await at 
Ivamoo the approach of the Burmans, until the arrival of 
reinforcements from Chittagong." 

In this the captain was most decidedly wrong. It was 
not only injudicious to retreat before the barbarian Bur- 
mans, but it was reprehensible on his part to give them so 
much encouragement and breathing-time. The Burmans 
always looked upon the English as " wild foreigners," and 
despised tliem on account of their creeping, sn^^aking 
policy. The first impression made on their minds by the 
unresented massacre of Kegrais was not forgotten ; and 
tlie mission of Alves, Symes, Cox, and Canning, with their 
undecided, un-English measures, had added to form the 
contempt with ^^ Inch they had learnt to regard the Anglo- 
Indian government into a tangible shape. These con- 
siderations, joined with the natural arrogance of a semi- 
civilised race, with the advantage of a victorious general, 
with the indecision of a British ofhcer, all tended to pre- 
pare the Burmese for the victor}' wjiicli was soon to grace 
their arms. Biit. in recounting the events at liamoo, it 
must c^'c^ be remembered, that the day was lost rather 

TI. 4.] EAMoo. ' 159 

bv British indecision, than (gained by Eurman valour. 
Indeed, up to this time, it is remarkable to what extent 
snail policy had obtained amon"^ the Indian authorities ; 
and how, partly from want of accurate information, 
partly from this mean and truckling- spirit, the Auglo- 
Indian government had lost consequeuce in the eyes of 
the king of Ava. Undoubtedly, the overcharged work of 
Colonel Symes had led to an incorrect estimate of the 
resources of , the country ; it is well, however, that I shall 
hardly have occasion to return to this, for soon I shall 
have to record — welcome task ! — the daring scheme of Lord 
Amherst's administration, and its successful, though less 
fortunate, accomi)lishmcut. by Sir Archibald Campbell. To 
continue the narrative in tlie words of the Professor :(1) — 

" On the morning of the I3th of May, the enemy ad- 
vanced from the south, and occupied, as they arrived, the 
hills east of Ramoo, being separated from the British force 
by the Ivamoo river. On the evening of the llth, they 
made a demonstration of crossing the river, but were pre- 
vented by the fire from the two six-pounders with the 
detachment. On the morning of the loth, however, they 
efiected their purpose, and crossed the river upon the left 
of the detachment, when they advanced, and took posses- 
sion of a tank ; surrounded, as usual, with tanks in this 
situation, by a high embankment, which protected them 
from the fire of their opponents." However, the captain, 
who saw the necessity of action, soon took up a favour- 
able position, and " a sharp fire was kept up on the Bur- 
mans as they crossed the plain to the tank ; but they 
availed themselves with such dexterity of every kind of 
cover, and so expeditiously entrenched themselves, that it 
was much less effective than was to have been expected." 
Honour is certainly due to the ollicers and men so peril- 
ously situated ; and it gives us satisfactory proof that 
Captain Noton's previous retreat Mas not caused by want 
of courage, but by an indecision, as unaccountable as it 
was finally disastrous. 

The Professor proceeds : — " On the morning of the 
17th, the enemy's trenches were advanced within twelve 

Eaces of the picqucts, and a heavy and destructive lire was 
ept up by them. At about nine a.m., the provincials 
and Muglevy abandoned the tank entrusted to their 

(1) Burmese War, p. 5 J. 


defence, and it was immediately occupied by the enemy. 
The position beinf]^ now untenable, a retreat was ordered, 
and effected with some rcf^arity for a short distance. 
The increasinfj numbers and audacity of the pursuers, and 
the activity of a small body of horse attached to their 
force, by whom the men that fell off from the main body 
were instantly cut to pieces, fiUed the troops with an un- 
governable panic, which rendered the exertions of their 
officers to preserve order unavailing. These efforts, how- 
ever, were persisted in until the arrival of the party at a 
rivulet, when the detachment dispersed ; and the siphahis, 
throwing away their arms and accoutrements, plunged 
promiscuously into the water. In the retreat. Captains 
JN'oton, Trueman, and Pringle, Lieutenant Grigg, Ensign 
Bennet, and Assistant-surgeon Maysmore, were killed. 
The other officers engaged, Lieutenants Scott, Campbell, 
and Codrington, made their escape ; but the two former 
were wounded : the loss in men was not ascertained, as 
many of them found their way, after some interval and 
in small numbers, to Chittagong : according to official 
returns, between six hundred and eight hundred had 
reached Chittagong by the 23rd of May ; so that the whole 
loss, in killed and taken, did not exceed, probably, two 
hundred and fifty." (1) This was, however, enough to 
arouse the slumbering ire in British hearts. Colonels 
Shapland and James speedily revenged the death of the 
captain, whose imprudence had cost him so much, and 
whose courage and endurance had availed him so little ; 
soon the Burmese lost their temporary advantage, and 
never were they to regain it. At the end of July the 
enemy fled from all their positions on the Naaf. 

The campaign was also speedily terminated in the pro- 
vinces of Cachar, and the Burmese were much weakened 
in all their attempts upon the Anglo-Indian army. 

" We have thus terminated the first period of the sys- 
tem of defensive operations," observes the Professor, " and 
shall now proceed to the more important enterprises of an 
offensive war, to which those we have noticed were wholly 
subordinate. The results of the operations described 
were of a mixed description, but such as to leave no ques- 
tion of the issue of the contest. In Asam a considerable 
advance had been made. In Kachar, also, a forward posi- 

0) Burmese War, p. ."iO sq. 

11. 4] EAMOO. • 161 

tion had been maintained ; altliouc^li the nature of the 
country, the state of the weather, and the insulUcioney of 
the force, prevented the campaign from closinc; with the 
success with which it liad bej^un. Tiie disaster at llamoo, 
aUhou^h it mii^ht have been avoided, perhaps, by a more 
decided conduct on the part of the otiicer commanding, 
and would certainly have been prevented by greater 
promptitude than was shown on the despatch of the ex- 
pected reinforcements, reflected no imputation upon the 
courage of the regular troops, and, except in the serious 
loss of life, was wholly destitute of any important conse- 
quences. In all these situations the Burmas had displayed 
neither personal intrepidity nor military skill. Their 
whole S3'stem of warfare resolved itself into a series of 
intrenchments, which they threw up with great readiness 
and ingenuity. Behind these defences, they sometimes 
displayed considerable steadiness and courage ; but as 
they studiously avoided individual exposure, they were 
but little formidable in the field as soldiers. Neither was 
much to be apprehended from the generalship that suf- 
fered ^e victory of Ivamoo to pass away, without making 
the slightest demonstration of a purpose to improve a 
crisis of such splendid promises, and which restricted 
the fruits of a battle gained to the construction of a 
stockade." (1) 

There is certainly nothing which better shows the little 
real self-reliance possessed by the Burmese than the idle 
manner in which they neglected to pursue an advantage. 
One thing must, however, be ahvays borne in mind, that 
up to this time they had always been engaged with 
energies whose fate might be decided by a smgle skir- 
mish, or one complete rout. They had yet to learn how 
persevering the efforts of a civilised state are in war. 
They had now indeed met their masters, and were about 
to feel their inferiority ; for the Indian government at 
Calcutta were already carrjnng out an excellent and well- 
conceived idea, the history of the progress of which it is 
now my oflice to relate. But first, it were not inapposite 
to listen to the following account of the Burmese war by 
the Burmese themselves ; it will afford some amusement, 
though its strict truth cannot fail to be somewhat 
doubted. " In the years 1186 and 1187," according to 

(1) WUsoii, p. Cl. 


the Hoyal Historiographer, " the Xula-pyee, or white 
stranj^ers of the West, fastened a quarrel upon the Lord 
of the Golden Palace. They landed at liangoon, took 
that place at Prome, and were permitted to advance as far 
as Yandabo ; for the king, from motives of piety and 
regard to life, made no effort whatever to oppose them. 
TLe strangers had spent vast sums of money in their 
enterprise ; and by the time they reached Yandabo, their 
resources were exhausted, and they were in great distress. 
They petitioned the king, who, in his clemency and 
generosity, sent them large sums of money to pay their 
expenses back, and ordered them out of the country." (1) 

Ere I proceed to give the English account, I think it 
right to let the Burmans speak for themselves ; and there- 
fore I have placed this before the serious history, just as, 
at Ilichardson's, a comic song, by way of a honne louche, 
is placed before the deep tragedy, " Just a-goiu' to 

Some little time before the operations in Cachar were 
brou^'iit to a temporary close, Lord Amherst conceived 
the idea of diverting the attention of the Burmese from 
our possessions to their own, and of turning wliat had 
hitherto been a defensive war, on the part of the En^Ush, 
into an offensive one. Accordingly, after a formal decla- 
ration of war, and the promulgation of an address con- 
taining the details of the origin of the quarrel, the court 
commenced active preparations for an expedition into the 
enemy's territory. The idea was a good one, and it was 
nobly pursued ; yet, though it was successful in its ulti- 
mate object, it unfortunately cost the government more 
than its proceeds in laud can possibly repay for many 
years. The military resources of the Burmese were infi- 
nitely over-estimated, while the facihties for obtaining 
food and proper housing for the troops were also totally 
unknown, except from the work of Symes, who evidently 
caused tlie whole mischief, as far as the inadequate outfit 
was concerned. The consequences of his hasty views 
ought to be a warning to all travellers in countries so 
little known as Burmah was then, and, indeed, in many 
points is now. Symes sacrificed truth for the sake of 
making an agreeable and amusing book, which it is to be 
hoped no one else will do. 

{\) Crawfurd's Ava, vol, i. p. 30-i. 


" The Britisli p^ovcrnmcnt was driven into that war hy 
the iusoleneo and aggressions of the court of Ava, in- 
toxicated witli the uninterrupted success ■\\hich had 
attended all its schemes of aggrandisement from the days 
of Alompra. The most ambitious of our governors- 
general had entertained no views of conquest in that 
quarter. Lord Hastings had anxiously staved ofi' the 
contest, at the close of his administration, by a political 
ai-tillce. But Lord Amherst, the most moderate and 
pacitic, was compelled to add vast provinces, covered for 
the most part with trackless forests, miserably under- 
peopled, unhealthy, and far beyond our natural boun- 
daries, to our already enormous empire. In this case 
there was everything to dissuade from appropriation. It 
was known that the climate of one of the provinces was 
equally deadly to our European and our native troops ; 
it was known that many years must elapse before any of 
them could support their own indispensable establish- 
ments ; but there was no escape. It was absolutely 
necessary to interpose sufficient barriers between our 
peaceable subjects, on a frontier where it was impossible 
to maintain large military establishments, and their bar- 
barous neighbours ; to provide places of refuge for the 
reluctant tributaries, or half-conquered subjects of the 
Burmese, from whom we had received cordial assistance 
during the war ; and, not less, to intlict upon Ava a chas- 
tisement, the smart of which might protect us from 
future encroachment and annoyance." (1) 

The plan to be pursued in this campaign was to be as 
follows : — Hangoon, the great trading city, was to be the 
point assailed in the iirst instance. This place had its 
advantages as being the principal maritime (if it may so be 
called) place in the Burmese dominions ; it was also 
remote from the scene of war, that is, not remote enough 
to admit of the army remaining where it was in Araklian, 
and a fresh levy being made for the defence of the coast : 
the harbour \^ as hkewise good ; and there the advantages 
ceased. These manifest good qualities, in the eyes of the 
attacking army, were counterbalanced by the extreme 
unhealthiuess of the place, the difficulty of obtaining food 
there ; a disadvantage, however, with which the Indian 
authorities were not acquainted ; and the additional 

(1) Edinburgh Review, vol. Ixxi. p. 3(ii, July, 1840. 
M 2 


nuisance of the Irawacli not beinjij navijjable at the time 
of the year selected for the expedition. Upon the acquire- 
ment of Rangoon, the movements of the army were to 
depend very much upon circumstances, but an advance 
was to be attempted in any case. The soldiers for the enter- 
prise were to be levied both in the presidency of Bengal 
and in that of Madras ; and the forces were to unite in 
the harbour of Port Cornwallis, at the Great Andaman 
Island, whence the whole squadron was to proceed to 
]\an(TOon, under the general command of Sir Archibald 

The observations of an able historian Mill prove of no 
little interest : — "The difficulty of collecting a sufficient 
force for a maritime expedition from Bengal, owing to the 
repugnance which the saphahis entertain to embarking on 
board vessels, v\here their prejudices expose them to many 
real privations, had early led to a communication with 
the presidency of Fort Saint George, where there existed 
no domestic call for a large force, and where the native 
troops were ready to undertake the voyage without re- 
luctance. The views of the Supreme Government were 
prompt]}' met by Sir Thomas Munro, the governor of 
Madras, and a considerable force was speedily equipped. 
The like activity pervaded the measures of the Bengal 
authorities, and by the beginning of April the m hole was 
ready for sea. 

" The period of the year at which this expedition was 
fitted out was recommended by various considerations of 
local or political weight. Agreeably to the information 
of all nautical men, a more favourable season for navigat- 
ing the coast to the eastward could not be selected; and 
from the account given by those who had visited Ava, it 
appeared that the expedition, upon arriving at Ixangoon, 
would be able to proceed into the interior without delay ; 
tlie rising of the river, and the prevalence of a south- 
easterly wind, rendering June or July the most eligible 
months for an enterprise, which could only be eftected by 
water conveyance, by which it was asserted that a suffi- 
cient force might be conveyed to Amarapura, the capital, 
in the course of a month or five weeks. That no time 
should be lost in compelling the Burmas to act upon the 
defensive was also apparent; as, by tlie extent of their 
preparations in Arakan, Asam. and Kachar. they were 
evidently manifesting a design, to invade the frontier with 

II. 1.] FOBCES. 165 

a force tliat -would require the concentration of a large 
body of troops for the protection of the British provinces, 
in situations where mountains, streams, and forests, 
could not fail to exercise a destructive iniluence upon the 
physical energies of the oilicers and men, and wonld 
necessarily prevent the full development of the military 
resources of the state. To have remained throughout the 
rains, therefore, wholly on the defensive, would have been 
attended, it was thought, with a greater expense, and, 
under ordinary circumstances, with a greater sacrifice of 
lives than an aggressive movement, as well as with some 
compromise of national reputation. The armament, 
therefore, was equipped at once, and was not slow in 
reahzing some of the chief advantages expected from its 
operations." (1) 

The Bengal contingent amounted in all to 2.175 
men, consisting of two regiments, the second battalion 
of the 20th (now 40th) native infantry, and two com- 
panies of artillery ; that of Madras was much greater, 
and amounted to 9,300 men. making together the some- 
what formidable number of 11,475 men, of whom nearly 
5,000 were Europeans. In addition to the transports, 
there was a Bengal flotilla of twenty gun-brigs and 
rowing-boats, each carrying an eighteen-pounder. The 
shii)s in attendance were H.M.'s sloops Lame, Captain 
Marryatt, and Sophia, Captain Eeeves ; some Company's 
cruisers, and tlie Diana steam-boat. In the Madras 
division were comprised H.M.'s ship Liffey, Commo- 
dore Grant ; the Slanet/ sloop of war, and a number 
of transports and other vessels. Most of these arrived 
at Port Cornwallis about the 4th of May, and the next 
day the whole fleet set sail for llan^oon, and arrived 
off the mouth of that river on the 9th, and anchored 
within the bar on tlie following morning ; the vessels 
then proceeded witli the flood to the town ofKangoon, 
situated at about twenty- eight miles from the sea, and 
thus ably described by a visitor. 

" Built on tlie left bank of the river, by the great 
Alompra, in commemoration of his victories, Yangoon, 
or liangoon, oficrs but a very poor sample of Burman 
opulence. Its shape is oval, and round the town is 
a wooden stockade, formed of teak piles, driven a few 

(1) Wilson's Burmese War, p. Ga. 


feet into the ground, and in some places twenty feet liigli. 
The tops of these are joined by beams transversely 
placed, and at every four feet is an embrasure on the 
summit of the walls, which gives it a good deal the 
appearance of an ancient fortification. A wet ditch protects 
the town on three sides, the other is on the bank of the 

" The interior consists of four principal streets, inter- 
secting each at right angles, on the sides of which are 
ranged, with a tolerable degree of regularity, the huts 
of the inhabitants. These are solely built Math mats and 
bamboos, not a nail being employed in their formation : 
they are raised invariably two or three feet from the 
ground, or rather swamp, in which Rangoon is situated, 
thereby allowing a free passage for the water with which 
the town is inundated after a shower, and at the same time 
affording shelter to fowls, ducks, pigs, and pariah dogs, 
an assemblage which, added to the inmates of the house, 
place it on a par with an Irish hovel. The few brick 
houses to be seen are the property of foreigners, who are 
not restricted in the choice of materials for building, 
whereas the Burmans are, on the supposition that were 
they to buUd brick houses, they might become points of 
resistance against the government. But even these build- 
ings are erected so very badly, that they have more the 
appearance of prisons than habitations. Strong iron bars 
usurp the place of windows, and the only communication 
between the upper and lower stories is by means of wooden 
steps placed outside. Only two wooden houses existed 
much superior to the rest, and these were the palace of 
the Maywoon, and the Rondaye, or Hall of Justice. The 
former of these, an old dilapidated building, would have 
been discreditable as a barn in England, and the latter 

was as bad Two miles nortli of Rangoon, on the 

highest point of a low range of hills, stands the stupen- 
dous pagoda, called the Shoe Dagon Prah, or Golden 

Dagon It is encircled by two brick terraces, one 

above the other; and on the summit rises the splendid 
pagoda, covered with gilding, and dazzling the eyes by 
the reflection of the rays of the sun. The ascent to the 
upper terrace is by a fl.ight of stone steps, protected from 
the weather by an ornamented roof The sides are de- 
fended by a balustrade, representing a huge crocodile, the 
jaws of which arc supported by two colossal figures of a 


maJe and female PuUoo, or evil genius, who, with clubs in 
their hands, are emblematically supposed to be fiuarding 
the entrance of the temple. On the steps the Burmans 
had placed two guns, to enfilade the road ; and, when I 
first saw this spot, two British soldiers were mounting 
guard over them, and gave an indescribable interest to 
the scene : it seemed so extraordinary to view our arms 
thus domineering amidst all the emblems and idols of 
idolatry, that, by a stretch of fancy, I could almost sup- 
pose I saw the green monsters viewing with anger and 
humiliation the profanation of their sanctuaries. 

" After ascending the steps, which are very dark, you 
suddenly pass through a small gate, and emerge into the 
upper terrace, where the great pagoda, at about fifty yards' 
distance, rears its lofty head in perfect splendour. This 
immense octagonal gilt-based monument is surrounded by 
a vast number of smaller pagodas, grifilns, sphinxes, and 
images of the Burman deities. The height of the tee, (1) 
three hundred and thirty-six feet from the terrace, and 
the elegance with which this enormous mass is built, 
combine to render it one of the grandest and most curious 
sights a stranger can notice. From the base it assumes 
the form of a ball or dome, and then gracefully tapers to 
a point of considerable height, the summit of which is 
surmounted by a tee, or umbreUa, of open iron-work, 
from whence are suspended a number of small bells, 
which are set in motion by the slightest breeze, and 
produce a confused though not unpleasant sound. The 
pagoda is quite solid, and has been increased to its 
present bulk by repeated coverings of brick, the work of 
different kings, who, in pursuance of the national super- 
stitions, imagined that, by so doing, they were performing 
meritorious acts of devotion Facing each of the car- 
dinal points, and united with the pagoda, are smaU temples 
of carved wood, filled with colossal images of Gaudma. 
The eastern temple — or, as we call it, the golden — is a 
very pretty edifice. The style of building a good deal 
resembles the Chinese ; it is three stories high, and is 
surmounted by a small spire, bearing a tee ; the cornices 
arc covered in the most beautiful manner, and with a 
variety and neatness of conception scarcely to be sur- 
passed ; and the whole is supported by a number of gilt 

(1) The gilt umbrella surmouiitinp: the Iiighest puuiaclc of the pagoda. 


pillars Hound tlic foot of the pap^oda are ranged 

innumerable- small stone pillars, intended to support 
lamps on days of rejoicing ; and in their vicinity are 
large stone and wooden vases, meant for the purpose 
of receiving the rice and other offerings made by the 
pious." (1) 

Such is Eangoon and its great temple, and the reader 
will feel, as Major Snodgrass says, that after " we had 
been so much accustomed to hear Rangoon spoten of as 
a place of great trade and commercial importance, that 
we could not fail to feel disappointed at its moan and 
poor appearance. We had talked, " continues the gallant 
author, " of its custom-house, its dock-yards, and its 
harbour, until our imaginations led us to anticipate, if 
not splendour, at least some visible signs of a nourishing 
commercial city ; but however humble our expectations 
might have been, they must still have fallen short of the 
miserable and desolate picture which the place presented 
when first occupied by the British troops." (2) 

An unpardonable piece of Vandalism was attempted 
by the English, during their stay at this place. In the 
temple there was and is a great bell, famous for its in- 
scription, and this bell the English endeavoured to ship 
for Calcutta ; however, they were frustrated by the heeling 
over of the boat in which it was being conveyed to the 
ship ; the bell sunk to the bottom, but was subsequently 
raised and replaced. There is no extenuation for such a 
wanton violation of any place of worship; and though it 
may be excusable, and indeed proper, to preserve works of 
ancient art in museums, yet it was grossly wrong to take 
advantage of a victory, to shock the religious feelings of a 
people, however far from the truth they may be according 
to Christian ideas. The action was as reprehensible as 
the stealing system of that most miserable of all mean 
pretenders, Napoleon ; indeed, it was more so, for the 
bell was not even an ornament. 

(1) Two Years in Ava, p. 26 pq^. This intorcstinp: and wcH-wTittcn brok 
seems to be the prodnctidn of a naval offtccr attached to the expedition. 
It is by far the must altractivc narrative of the inoceedings iu 1821, with 
which I am acquainted. 

(2) Snodgrass, Burmese War, p. 12. 



Arrival at Rangoon — Taking: f>f (hat town — Position of the troops — 
State of the ncij^hbourhood — Contidcnce of the kin;^ of Ava — Attack of 
Joa/.ong: — Burmese embassy — Capture of Keniendine — Reinforcements 
from Madras — Sickness of the army — Endurance of the,British soldier. 

The country on the way to Rangoon is very flat, and 
consequently tlio vessels were easily seen coming up the 
river ; and they did not escape the rayhoon of the city. 
So unusual a luimber of vessels (they were forty-five in 
all) could not fail to arouse some dormant ideas of harm 
in the minds of the treacherous officials. xVt the time of 
their descrial, the principal European inhabitants were 
assembled at the house of Mr. Sarkies, an Armenian mer- 
chant, where they were going to dine. The rayhoon 
immediately sent tor them, and demanded what the ships 
were. The reply was, that there were some expected, and 
that these were probably them. As the number of ves- 
sels was, however, continually increasing, the governor 
was not satisfied, and he seized the euually ignorant 
Euro})eans, and threatened their immediate execution. 
He also sent notice of his intention to Sir Archibald 
Campbell, who declared his determination of destroying 
the town altogether if the governor carried his menace 
into eflfect.(l) Upon this the captives were chained and 
confined in different places. 

The L'ljfcy was the first to arrive opposite the king's 
quay, where a weak battery was planted, and it anchored 
at that place about twelve o'clock in the forenoon ; the 
other ships took their places in difTerent ways, so as to 
command the whole neighbourhood. I shall continue in 
the words of an eye-witness : — 

'* Having furled sails and beat to quarters, a pause of 
some minutes ensued, during which not a shot was fired; 

(1) See Two Years in Ava, p. 25. 


ou our side, humanity forbade that we should bo the first 
aggressors upon an almost defenceless town, containing, 
as we supposed, a large population of unarmed and in- 
offensive people; besides, the proclamations and assurances 
of protection which had been sent on shore the preceding 
day led us to hope that an offer of capitulation would still 
be made."(l) However, all the Burn^ans did was to pour 
a feeble, ill-sustained fire into the Lijfey, which, returning 
it with tremendous force, forced away the natives. 

Upon landing, after the second broadside, the author of 
Two Years in Ava informs us that " three men lying dead, 
and the broken gun-carriages, were the only vestiges of 
the injury done by the fire from the frigate. The town was 
completely deserted. It seemed indeed incredible whither 
the inhabitants could have fled to within such a short 
space of time ; and, as night was coming on, we could not 
proceed in search of them ; the troops, therefore, remained 
in and about the town, and the next morning were placed 
in positions, in two lines, resting on the Great Pagoda and 
the town. On entering the terrace of the Great Pagoda, 
the advanced guard discovered in a miserable dark cell 
four of the European residents at Hangoon, who were 
ironed, and had been otherwise maltreated ; the others 
had been released by us the evening before ; so that we 
had now the satisfaction of knowing that none of our 
countrymen were subjected to the cruelty of the Burman 
chieftains. "(2) 

After taking possession of the place, proclamations were 
immediately sent out among the inhabitants through a 
few stragglers, assuring the townspeople of protection, in 
the hope of inducing them to return. " The strictest 
orders were issued to prevent plunder, and a Burman 
having claimed several head of cattle which had been 
seized for tLe use of the army, they were immediately 
restored, in order to prove the sincerity of our protesta- 
tions ; but none of the inhabitants availed themselves 
of our offers, and we understood that the officers of 
government were driving the women and children into 
the interior, as hostages for the good conduct of the 

The soldiers while at Rangoon were billeted in a long 

(1) Snodgrass, p. 6. (2) Two Years in Ava, p. 2-1. 

(3) rbid. J). 2f). Cf. book i. chap. ii. p. -40 of tliis work. 


street wliicli leads from tlie Dafjon Pagoda to .l\aiij2:<^on, 
and in this exposed situation, without fresh supplies, they 
had to await the arrival of information regardinof the 
position assimied by the Burmese government. Space 
will not permit me to refer to the many anxieties which 
had to be considered in regard to the present position of 
our troops, but the reader will find. them amply discussed 
in Snodgrass ; (1) however, I shall lay before the reader a 
few remarks of that gentleman, which will amply show 
the many difficulties which beset the army. 

" The enemy's troops and new -raised levies were gra- 
dually collecting in our front from all parts of the king- 
dom ; a cordon was speedily formed around our canton- 
ments, capable, indeed, of being forced at every point, 
but possessing, in a remarkable degree, all the qualities 
requisite for harassing and wearing out in fruitless exer- 
tions the strength and energies of European or Indian 
troops. Hid from our crew on every side in the darkness 
of a deep, and, to regular bodies, impenetrable forest, 
far beyond which the inhabitants and all the cattle of the 
Eangoon district had been driven, the Burmese chiefs 
carried on their operations and matured their future 
schemes with vigilance, secrecy, and activity. Neither 
rumour nor intelligence of what M'as passing within his 
posts ever reached us. Beyond the invisible line which 
circumscribed our position, all was mystery or vague conjec- 
ture. (2) To form a correct idea of the difficulties which 

opposed the progress of the invading army, even had it 
been provided "N^th land-carriage and landed at the fine 
season of the year, it is necessary to make some allusion 
to the natural obstacles which the country presented, and 
to the mode of warfare generally practised by the Bur- 
mese. Henzawaddy, or the province of Rangoon, is a 
delta, formed by the mouths of the Irrawaddy, and. with 
the exception of some considerable plains of rice-groimds, 
is covered by a thick and tenacious jungle, interspersed 
by numerous creeks and rivers, from whose wooded banks 
an enemy may, unseen and unexposed, render their pas- 
sage difficult and dfstructive. 

" Eoads, or anything deserving that name, are wholly 
unknown in the lower provinces, rootpaths, indeed, lead 
through the woods in every direction, but requiring great 

(1) Burmese War, pp. 15-20. (2) Page 16. 


toil and labour to render tliem applicable to military pur- 
poses : they are impassable during the rains, and are only 
known and frequented by the Carian tribes, who cultivate 
the lands, are exempt from military service, and may bo 
considered as the slaves of the soil, living in wretched 
hamlets by themselves, heavily taxed and oppressed by 
the Burmese autliorities, by whom they are treated as 
altogether an inferior race of beings from their country- 
men of Pegu The Burmese, in their usual mode of 

•warfare, rarely meet their enemy in the open field. In- 
structed and trained from their youth in the formation 
and defence of stockades, in which tliey display great 
skill and judgment, their wars have been for many years 
a series of conquests : every late attempt of the neigh- 
bouring nations to check their victorious career had 
failed, and the Burmese government, at the time of our 
landing at Eaugoon, had subdued and incorporated into 
their overgrown empire all the petty states by which it 
■was surrounded, and stood confessedly feared and re- 
spected even by the Chinese, as a powerful and warlike 
nation. AMien opposed to our small but disciplined body 
of men, it may easily be conceived with how much more 
care and caution the system to which they owed their 
fame and reputation as soldiers was pursued — constructing 
their defences in the most dilEcult and inaccessible recesses 
of the jungle, from which, by constant predatory inroads 
and nightly attacks, they vainly imagined they would 
ultimately drive us from their country. "(1) 

The confidence which the king of Ava had in his own 
military resources is amply shown in' a speech reported 
by Snodgras8.(2) "As to llangoon," said the king. "I 
will take such measures as will prevent the English from 
even disturbing the women of the town in cooking 
their rice." This speech, Jiowever, only lends additional 
force to the remark of the Edinburgh Revie^ve^, that " the 
Burmese are much too arrogant even to attempt to im- 
prove themselves ; and such as their rabble of soldiery is 
now, such it will be found fifty years hence — utterly un- 
able to stand for a moment against British troops, even 
when protected by stockades. "(3) The events at present 
passing in the kingdom of Ava are but a practical demon- 

(1) Snodgrass. pp. 2n-'2'2. (2) Page 25. 

(3} Eilinbugh Review, vol. Ixxi. p. 358. 

IT. 5.] FIRE RAFTS. 173 

stvatioii of tlie truth of this assertion, nowevcr, such 
preparations as could he made were completed. Armies 
^ve^e stockaded in all directions near Kani^oon, nor was 
the river at all neglected. The boatmen, an enterprisin": 
and brave part of the community, all attached to the royal 
interests, were soon in readiness, and a respectable kind 
of fleet covered the waters of the Irawadi. 

Nothino^ of consequence occurred for some days. Some 
boats, sent up by Sir A. Campbell to gather intelligence as 
to the force and resources of the Burmese, were fired upon 
on the 15th May, near the village of Kemendine, and to 
prevent the recurrence of such an event, a body of men 
were embarked in order to drive the enemy from that 
place. Accordingly, after some little skirmishing and the 
loss of some men and officers, the detachment succeeded 
in their endeavours. Afterward, however, the Burmese 
returned, and annoyed the Anglo-Indian arni}^ very much 
by attempting to set the fleet on Are. " Our shipping," 
says an eye-witness, " were now daily and nightly exposed 
to a great deal of danger and annoyance from an engine 
of destruction much confided in by our invisible enemy, 
and which, if properly managed, might have caused us 
much injury. This Avas a large raft formed of pieces of 
wood and beams tied together, but loosely, so that if it 
came athwart a ship's bows, it would swing round and 
encircle her. On this were placed every sort of firewood, 
and other combustibles, such as jars of petroleum or eai'th 
oil, which, rising in a flame, created a tremendous blaze, 
and as this raft extended across the river, it often threat- 
ened to burn a great portion of our fleet. Hafts of this 
description were chiefly launched from Kemendine, where 
the greater number of them were constructed ; but fortu- 
nately the river made a bend a little above the anchorage, 
and the current running strong towards the opposite shore, 
the rafts were not unfrequently grounded, and thus ren- 
dered useless ; whilst, on the other hand, the precautions 
adopted by our naval officers of anchoring a number of 
beams across the river, in most instances efiectually ar- 
rested those unwieldy masses in their descent towards 

During this time the confidence of the Burmese had 
increased, and on the 27th they actually advanced within 

(1) Tnvo Years in .Vva, p. 40. 


sight of the picquets, and sat dovm. This was observed 
by Major ISnodgrass, who, desirous of knowing whether 
the J were merely stragglers, or part of any considerable 
body, immediately pursued them. He and his men found 
their way, however, stopped by a small stockade stretch- 
ing right across the road. After a few shots, the British 
party, only twenty -two in number, chai'ged the work, and 
carried it. The natives, sixty in number, immediately fled. 
The success which had attended this movement deter- 
mined iSir Archibald Campbell in his resolution to attempt 
a recoiinoissance in person ; a measure that was put into 
execution the next morning. On arriving at the stockade 
just mentioned, it was foujid reoccupied by the Burmese, 
w ho were repairing it with great rapidity. However, on 
perceiving the troops, they immediately fled. The same 
thing took place at a bridge beyond the village of Kokein, 
" and," observes iSnodgrass, " at every turn of the road, 
breastworks and half-tinished stockades, hastily abandoned, 
proved that so early a visit was neither anticipated nor 
provided for."(l) 

"■ Oiu- troops," says the author of Two Years in Ava,(2) 
" continued advancing in echellon, the light company of 
the thirty-eighth on the left skirting the jungle ; the 
grenadiers in the centre, on the plain ; and the tlui'teenth 
on the right : when, at a sudden turn, the light company 
observed a stockade about a hundred yards distant, hav- 
ing a ravine full of water in front of it. A dead silence 
pervaded the work ; and Captain Piper, instantly forming 
liis men in line, charged up to the stockade, and through 
the ravine without hiing a shot. When we were within 
about thirty yards, the Burmans gave a most terrific yell, 
accompanied by beating of di'ums, tom-toms, and other 
instruments, and opened a sharp and well-directed fire, by 
which we suflered severely. As the enemy was covered 
by a thick palisade, with loopholes, we saw not a man ; 
and even if we had, our fire could not have proved service- 
able, as not a single musket woiUd go olf, m consequence 
of the wet ; whereas the Burmans were protected from 
the weather by sheds, and consequently their arms were 
uninjured. On arriving at the foot of the work, after 
forcing the way through a capital abatis, the entrance was 
found barred up ; and the height of the work, and the 

(1) Bi;rmcse War, p. 27. (2) Page 43 sq. 


Trant of ladders, prcventiug cscalading, tlic men were for 
some time, therefore, exposed to the assaults of tlie enemy, 
■who threw out spears, and tried every effort to di'ive us 
oflf. They were unavailing : the passage was forced, and 
the troops rushed on with the bayonet. Finding this face 
of the work cai'ried, a number of Burmans rushed with 
their spears to the opposite side, and there awaited the 
approach of the assailants ; but a section dashing at them 

with the bayonets, annihilated almost the whole 

Evening was now coming on fast, we were encumbered 
with between thirty ana forty wounded, without any 
means of carrying them, except the officers' horses, and 
three or four doolies ;(1) and 8ir A. Campbell, therefore, 
determined on returning without attacking a small stock- 
ade a little farther on, having first made a forward move- 
ment with his troops to see whether the Burman line, 
which was still drawn up, would await our approach. It 
fell back as we advanced, and we then, after burning the 
two stockades of Joazong, recommenced the march home." 
In this action several officers were severely, some mortally, 
woimded. On the Burmese side the loss was about four 
hundred. The commander on the native side was the for- 
mer Eayhoon of Rangoon, a man of talent and experience. 
The enemy retired from the field during the night, after 
digging up and horribly mutilating the bodies of two sol- 
diers who had faUen there the day before ! 

The unexpected results of the skirmish opened the 
eyes of the Burmese commanders to the inefficacy of their 
system of warfare. Feeling their inferiority, and wishing 
to gain time for altering and strengthening their defences, 
the Burmese sent two ambassadors to the English camp. 
This was on the 9th June. Major Snodgrass thus de- 
scribes the whole interview :(2) — 

" The principal personage of the two, who had formerly 
been governor of Bassein, was a stout, elderly man, dressed 
in a long scarlet robe, with a red handkerchief tied round 
his head, in the usual Burman style. Ilis companion, 
although dressed more plainly, had much more intelli- 
gence in his countenance ; and notwithstanding his as- 
sumed indiiference and humble demeanour, it soon became 

(1) A doolie is a species of litter, used in the East to carry tlie wounded 
from the field of battle. (2) Burmese War, pp. 35-37. 


evident that to him the management of the interview was 
intrusted, though his colleague treated him in everv re- 
spect as an inferior. 

" The two chiefs, having entered the house, sat down 
with all the ease and familiarity of old friends ; neither 
constraint nor any symptom of fear appeared about either; 
they paid their compliments to the British officers, and 
made their remarks on what they saw with the utmost 
freedom and good-humour. The elder chief tlien opened 
the subject of their mission, with the question, ' Why 
are you come here with ships and soldiers ?' accompanied 
with manv professions of the good faith, sincerity, and 
friendly (disposition of the Burmese government. The 
causes of the war and the redress that was demanded 
were again fully explained to them. The consequences of 
the line of conduct pursued by their generals, in pre- 
venting all communication with the court, was also pointed 
out, and they were brought to acknowledge that a free 
and unreserved discussion of the points at issue could 
alone avert the evils and calamities with which their coun- 
try was threatened. Still they would neither confess that 
the former remonstrances of the Indian government had 
reached their king, nor enter into any arrangement for 
removing the barrier they had placed in the way of nego- 
tiation, but urged, with every argument they could think 
of, that a few days* dela}' might be granted, to enable them 
to confer with an officer of high rank then at some dis- 
tance U]) the river : they were, however, given to under- 
stand, that delay and procrastination formed no part of 
our system, and that the war would be vigorously prose- 
cuted, until the king of Ava thought proper to send officers 
with full authority to enter upon a treaty with the British 

" The elder chief, who had loudly proclaimed his love of 
peace, continued chewing his betel-nut with much compo- 
sure, receiving the intimation of a continuance of hostilities 
with more of the air and coolness of a soldier who consi- 
dered war as his trade, than became the pacific character 
he assumed ; while his more shrewd companion vainly 
endeavoured to conceal his vexation at the unpleasant ter- 
mination of their mission, and unexpected failure of their 
arts and protestations. But although the visit had evi- 
dently been planned for no other pui'pose than that of 


gaining time, the chiefs did not object to carry with them 
to their camp a declaration of the terms upon which peace 
would still be restored ; and that they might take their 
departure with a better grace, expressed their intention of 
repeating their visit in the course of a few days, for the 

Surpose of opening a direct communication between the 
Iritish general and the Burmese ministers. The elder 
chief, again alluding to his being no warrior, hoped that 
the ships had strict orders not to lire upon him ; but while 
he said so, in stepping into his boat, there was a con- 
temptuous smile upon his own face and the countenances 
of his men, that had more of defiance than entreaty in 

The next morning (June 10th) the British intentions 
regarding Kemendine were put into execution. A breach 
was soon made in the teak-wood stockade by the cannon, 
and a column of English and Indian troops stormed the 
place. Major jSale, T^dth his detachment, had some hot 
work, for the place at which he entered was full of men, 
who defended themselves with the bravery of despair. 
Thirty of the Anglo-Indians fell, though for them one 
hundred and sixty Burmese perished. Even when this 
place was taken, little had been accomplished, as the prin- 
cipal stockade, about half a mile distant, had yet to be 
besieged. " We lost no time," says an eye-witness, and 
actor in the affair, " in advancing to it ; and in order 
completely to hem the Burmahs in, the flotilla was sent up 
the river, beyond the works, so as to prevent their escap- 
ing by water ; whilst the land force proceeded through 
the jungle. The left of our line rested on the river, and 
the right was moving round the north of the stockade ; 
thus completing a semicircle ; when it was discovered 
that, in addition to the main work, two smaller ones 
existed further up, which it was impossible for us with 
our force to surround ; a space of two hundred yards was 
therefore unavoidably left between our right and the 
river, it being exposed to the fire of both stockades. 
Night had already approached ; the rain began to pour 
without intermission, and neither men nor officers were 
sheltered from it, or had any cover, not even of great 
coats. The night we passed in this situation was such as 
may easily be imagined. . . . The shouts of the Burmahs 
had a curious effect, much heightened by the wild scenery 



of the dark, jrloomy forest wliicli surrounded us ; first, a 
low murmur mitrht be heard, risiufi^ as it were f^raduallj 
in tone, and followed by the wild and loud huzza of thou- 
sands of voices ; then, again, all was silence, save now 
and then a straggling shot or challenge from our own 
sentries ; and soon after, another peal of voices would 
resound through the trees. This they continued all 
night ; but towards morning the yells became fainter and 
fainter, and at daybreak they totally ceased." (1) 

In the morning, operations were resumed ; and on the 
storming parties advancing to the capture, they found, to 
their astonishment, that the enemy had decamped ! Pos- 
session was immediately taken, and a regiment left in 
garrison, while the rest returned to cantonments, very 
much irritated by the loss of their opponents. Five pieces 
of cannon were found in the inclosure, and numbers of 
jinjals. Outside the upper gate lay a gilt chattah or 
umbrella of rank, and some distance beyond, the body of 
the elder chief, aaIio had visited the English camp. 

Major Wahab and Brigadier ]\IcCreagh returned 
from Cheduba and Ncgrais about this time, having ac- 
complished the purpose for which they were detached. 
The capture of these places had not been completed with- 
out some loss and considerable slaughter. Cheduba was 
expected to have proved of some use. but it \\as found 
that, with the exception of a few buffaloes, the supplies 
were not of any utility. About this time also, the force was 
augmented by the 89th British regiment from Madras. 

The effects of heavy work in the swamps now began to 
be seen in the fatal form of disease among the Anglo- 
Indian troops. *' Constantly exposed to the vicissitudes 
of a tropical climate, and exhausted by the lu^cessity of' 
un intermitted exertion, it need not be a matter of sur- 
prise that sickness now began to thin the ranks and 
impair the energies of the invaders. No rank was exempt 
from the operatinn of these causes ; and many ofiicers, 
amongst whom were the senior naval officer, Captain 
Marryat ; the political commissioner. Major Canning ; 
and the Commander-in-Chief himself, were attacked with 
fever, during the month of June. Amongst the privates, 
the Europeans especially, the sickness incident to fatigue 

(1) Two Yc<ars in Ava, p. .ifi. So, too, did the wild .-.lionis and savago 
songs of the Mexicans strike on the eai< ot the watching Siiaiiiards. 


and exposure was agfrravated by tlic defective quantity 
and quality of the provisions "^vhieli had been suppHod for 
their use. Kolying upon the reported fiicility of obtain- 
ing cattle and vegetables at Rangoon, it had not been 
thought necessary to embark stores for protracted con- 
sumption on board the transports from Calcutta, and the 
Madras troops landed with a still more limited stock. As 
soon as the cleficiency was ascertained, arrangements were 
made to remedy it ; but in the mean time, before supplies 
could reach Ivangoon, the troops were dependent for food 
upon salt meat, much of which was in a state of putres- 
cence, and biscuit, in an equally repulsive condition, under 
the decomposing influence of heat and moisture. The 
want of sufficient and wholesome food enhanced the evil 
efTects of the damp soil and atmosphere, and of the mala- 
ria from the decaying vegetable matter of the surround- 
ing forests, and the hospitals were rapidly filled with 
sick, beyond the means available of medical treatment. 
Fever and dysentery were the principal maladies, and were 
no more than the ordinary consequences of local causes ; 
*■ but the scurvy and hospital gangrene, which also made 
their appearance, were ascribable as much to depraved 
habits and inadequate nourishment as to fatigue and ex- 
posure. They were also latterly, in some degree, the con- 
sequences of extreme exhaustion, forming a peculiar fea- 
ture of the prevailing fever, which bore au epidemic type, 
and which had been felt with ec[ual severity in Bengal. 
The fatal operation of these causes was enhanced by their 
continuance ; and towards the end of the rainy season, 
scarcely tliree thousand men were fit for active duty. The 
arrival of adequate supplies, and more especially the 
change in the monsoon, restored the troops to a more 
healthy condition." (1) 

It is, however, worthy of especial notice, that though 
the army wanted provisions, health, and strength, their 
natural energy did not fail. In the midst of a crowd of 
foes, whose numerous force and equipments were alike 
unknown to the English soldier, his constitutional domi- 
nance of will flagged not at all, but seemed rather to 
become stronger, the more great the odds grew against it. 
Indeed, one of the authorities I have quoted tells us, that 
there went a feeling abroad among the Burmese, that it 

(I) Wilson, Burmese War, \\ 86 sq., and the authorities quoted there. 

N 2 


was of no use to contend -vs-itli an English soldier ; for, if 
the arm he had grasped the top of the stockade with 
were chopped, he never was disconcerted, but imme- 
diately applied the other ; even then they were at disad- 
vantage, for the skill of the British doctors was so great, 
that they could replace the severed limbs upon the trunk ; 
and for this reason diligent search was always made on 
the field after the battle, for these legs and arms ! 



Encounters \s'ith the Burmese— Capture of Kumeroot— Taking of Syriam— 
Storming of Dalla— Conquest of Tenasserim province — The Invulner- 

From the time of the takinoj of tlio stockades at Ke- 
mendine, little of moment occurred up to the 1st of July. 
About noon on that day the Burmans came out in great 
force upon the regiments under Majors Dennie and Frith, 
which were deputed to explore the jungle in front of the 
Great Pagoda. Then, just as ants flock out of their holes 
on being disturbed, the Burmese burst forth in every 
direction, shouting wildly at the same time. They were 
gallantly opposed by Major Frith's troops. " A column 
of three thousand of the enemy now advanced from the 
jungle into the plain, directing their march on Puzendoon, 
where we had a post ; another body moved towards our 
lines, and began skirmishing with a sepoy picket ; and a 
large force was also seen moving to the right. This was 
evidently meant as an attack on our position ; but it would 
seem that their courage failed them at the moment for 
action, as they contented themselves with burning a few 
houses at Puzendoon. "(1) Upon their being driven back, 
they entered Dalla opposite Kangoon, whence, however, 
they were driven, though Lieutenant Isaack, 8th Madras 
N.I., the commanding officer, was shot. Vengeance was, 
however, more than sufficiently taken in the destruction 
of the place. Thekia Woongyee, the originator of this 
plan of attack, met with a sad disgrace in his recall, while 
Thamba "Woongyee was deputed to the command of the 
anuy in his place. The ex-general, fearful of a still more 
dreadful fate should lie return to the court, retired te 
the neighbourhood of Pegu. 

The new general showed himself an able tactician, by 

(1) T\vo Years in Ava, p. Co. 


seizing upon one of the most impracticable and difficult 
positions in the vicinai:je, at a place called Kummoroot, 
lire miles from the Shoe-Dai^on Pagoda, This place it 
was highly necessary sliould be captured, and accordingly, 
on the Sth of July, tlie enterprise was determined upon. 
The following account, by an eye-witness, is the best that 
has been given us :(1) — 

" There were two roads leading from the Pagoda in the 
direction we wished to pursue, one a mere footpath, the 
other passable for guns. General Macbean preferred the 
former, and left his artillery behind. The enemy not 
expecting us by this path, we marched through the jungle 
for three miles without seeincj a soul, although in the wood 
to our left voices could be distinctly heard, and also the 
sound of the axe falling on trees, which they were felling 
to erect their fortifications ; but after marching this 
distance, two stockades were descried a fcvr yards in 
advance. The general instantly halted, to enable the 
troops, which were marching in single file (and conse- 
quently occupied a great length of ground), to form 
column, during which time we could observe small parties 
of Burmahs, armed with muskets, coming from the oppo- 
site wood to reinforce the stockades. Firing, also, was 
heard to the left, wliich indicated that Sir Archibald 
Campbell was engaged ; and Ge'neral Macbean, therefore, 
made his dispositions for an attack. Brigadier McCreagh, 
with five hundred men from liis Majesty's 13th and 38th 
regiments, commanded by Majors Sale and Frith, were 
formed in a column of subdivisions, and with unloaded 
muskets and fixed bayonets directed to advance on the 
work. This movement was effected with so much rapidity, 
order, and regularity, that to be in possession of this 
stockade, and moving on to attack the next, was the affair 
of a moment. The second was abandoned on the approach 
of the column, and we then discovered, in a large plain 
backed by the juntjle, a succession of stockades, amounting 
in all to seven. This did not deter the troops from esca- 
lading and capturing a third stockade, and then rushing 
on to the largest : there the column experienced some loss, 
in consequence of the delay in bringing up the scaling- 
ladders through the muddy paddy-fields ; but when they 
arrived, the work was assaulted at all points The 

(1) Two Years m Ava, p. CO sq. 

ll. G.] SUCCESS or THE BRITISH. 183 

panic that now took place amon^ the Burmahs can scarcely 
be described ; rnshintj in crowds towards the only j,^ate 
through which they miij^ht escape, they completely choked 
it up : others then attempted to climb over the walls, but 
were mowed down by our shot, and those at the pjate 
were falling by dozens. Some became quite desperate, 
and with their long, dishevelled black hair streaming over 
their shoulders, and giving them the most ferocious ap- 
pearance, seized their swords with both hands, and dashed 
on the bayonets of the soldiers, where they met with that 
death which they seemed alternately to fear and despise ; 
whilst others hid themselves in the trenches, full of water, 
and there lay motionless, feigning to be dead. The car- 
nage was very great, at least five hundred men being slain 
in the main stockade, and amongst them was Thumba 
Woonghee," He, contrary to the usual system of the 
Burman chiefs, had endeavoured to instil courage into the 
hearts of his men by his own example. However, nothing 
could avail before the iron soldiers of the British general. 

On the part of Sir Archibald Campbell, too, the move- 
ment had been singularly successful. He took the other 
water path, and proceeded, with a division of about eight 
hundred men, to ascend the river to the place where the 
Lyne river and theKangoon embouchment flow together. At 
this point they found the Burmese had strongly intrenched 
themselves. The main stockade was on the tongue of 
land at the confluence of the waters, while the two others, 
evidently constructed with an eye to position, were situated 
on the two banks of the Bangoon river, about eight hun- 
dred yards from the principal fortification. But cannon, 
and good cannon particular!}', can make a breach in any 
fortification so exposed to fire from the river, and the day 
was lost for the Burmese. The broadside of the Laryie 
frigate, supported by the boats and some other vessels 
under the command of Captain Marryat, covered the 
landing of the troops, who immediately took the first 
stockade ; this was follow( d by the immediate capture of 
the second, and the principal one was abandoned ! So 
much for Burmese self-reliance ! 

The only force now remaining near Ban goon was that 
under the former rayhoon of that place, who hovered 
about in the neighbourhood of Ivvkloo. All the other 
Burmese detachments had fled to the general rendezvous 
of the enemy at Donabew, a place some distance up the 


river Irawadi. But as it was necessary that peace should 
be restored everywhere in the vicinity of the British 
army, in order that the poor villagers should not be afraid 
of returning, Sir A. Campbell determined to scatter them, 
and send them to swell the panic-stricken force at Dona- 
bew. Accordingly, on the 19th of July he despatched 
twelve hundred^ men by land to that place, whilst, with 
another division of half that number, he himself went up 
thither by the Puzendoon creek. However, little came of 
it; the land army found it impossible to proceed, and so 
returned, while the only result at which the other party 
arrived was the liberation of some of tlie 'unoffending 
families of the forced conscripts in the Burmese army. 
A feeling of confidence, however, seems to have sprung 
up in the bosoms of the peasantry, who now gradually 
returned home, and even, we are told, saluted the military 
as they passed. 

The first act which is worthy of mention in August is 
the dislodgment of the Burmese force in Syriam. The 
matter was rendered necessary, it would appear, for the 
same reason that had caused the assault and capture of 
Kemendine, viz., the annoyance to which our vessels 
were exposed from the fire-rafts that the natives placed 
such great reliance in, but which, in reality, were rather 
annoying than dangerous. It was enough that men were 
obliged to be on duty to arrest their progress, and strand 
them. The object of Sir Archibald was to spare these 
men, who, though enfeebled by disease, yet were bravely 
bearing up against it. Accordingly, six hundred men, 
drafted from the 4l8t, the Madras European, and the 
12th Madras N.I., under the command of Brigadier Smelt, 
were embarked for Syriam, Sir Archibald, it must not be 
forgotten, accompanying them. 

The old Portuguese factory, of which mention has been 
made in a previous chapter, was found to have been con- 
verted into a Burmese fortification ; the breaches made in 
former times by the united efforts of Burmese, Peguers, 
Portuguese, and English, were repaired by teak-wood 
palisades, and the old gims, rusty and ill cast, were re- 
mounted upon the ramparts. 

The Anglo-Indian army was received with a brisk fire, 
but, as usual, the Burmese stayed not to await the results 
of their exertions, but fled to a pagoda some distance off, 
whither they were followed by a detachment imder 


Lieutenant- Colonel Kelly. Here, again, although, the place 
was fortified and turned into a battery, the Buimese fled 
away, after discharging tlie contents of the guns somewhere 
in tne direction of the British. Enough had been done 
in previous encounters to show the perseverance of the 
English, and so, as every one does, they supposed that 
they were invincible, because they had at first conquered. 

It seemed, however, that even the preliminary cam- 
paign of the British army was never to come to an end, 
and that, although the enemy was ever being beaten, the 
Burmese did not even now despair of wearying out the 
British, and by keeping them engaged at the threshold of 
their land, they hoped to have time to secure the key, 
and lock the door in their faces. Therefore, no sooner 
had operations been satisfactorily concluded at Syriam, 
than Sir A. Campbell heard of disturbances at Dalla, 
caused by the orders of the court for a general conscrip- 
tion. Lieutenant-Colonel Kelly, with a detachment of 
four hundred men, was sent thither to quiet the pro- 
vince. Upon coming near to Dalla creek, they found two 
stockades, one on either bank, which it was necessary to 
storm. The mud clogged the movements of the troops 
to some extent, and entailed, by the delay, some loss 
upon the British. However, as was ever the case, the 
intrenchments Avere in possession of the troops imme- 
diately ; for the Burmese fled before the English again. 
Their policy seems all to have been thrown overboard, 
and it is only on the assumption of each body of the 
enemy encountering us only once, that I can reconcile the 
idea of this continual fear to my mind. (1) 

" In the impossibility," says Professor Wilson, " that 
existed of engaging in any active operations in the direc- 
tion of Ava, it was judged advisable to employ part of 
the force in reducing some of the maritime provinces of 
the Burman kingdom. The district of Tenasserim, com- 
prising the divisions of Tavoy and Mergui, was that 
selected for attack, as containing a valuable tract of sea- 
coast, as well as being likely to afford supplies of cattle 
and grain. Accordingly, an expedition was detached 
against those places, consisting of details of his Majesty's 
89th and the 7th Madras native infantry, with several 

(1) I may here mention, that Major Canning, who had accompanied 
the expedition as political apeut, about this time returned to Calcutta by 
the Nereide, where, debilitated by the marsl\ fever of Ava, he shortly died. 

186 MERGUI. [II. 6. 

cruisers and gun-brigs, under command of Lieutenant- 
Colonel Miles. They sailed from Rangoon on tbe 2()tli of 
August, and reached the mouth of the river leading to 
TavoY on the 1st of September : some difficulty occur- 
red in working up tlic river, in consequence of which the 
vessels arrived off the town only on the eighth. A con- 
spiracy amongst the garrison facilitated the capture of 
the place ; the second in command making the INIaiwoon 
and his family prisoners, delivered them to the British 
officer, and the town was occupied without opposition. 
At Mergui, whither the armament next proceeded, and 
where it arrived on the 6th of October, a more effective 
resistance was offered : a heavy fire was opened from the 
batteries of the town, which was returned by the cruisers 
with such effect as to silence it in about an hour. The 
troops then landed, and after wading through mirv 
ground, between the river and a strong stockade whicli 
defended the town, and being exposed to a brisk fire 
from the enemy, they advanced to the stockade, and es- 
caladed it in the most gallant style. The enemy fled. The 
town, when first occupied, was deserted ; but the people 
soon returned, and both here and at Tavoy showed 
themselves perfectly indifferent to the change of autho- 
rities. After leaving a sufficient garrison of the native 
troops, and part of the flotilla. Colonel ]\Iiles returned 
with the European portion of his division to Rangoon, in 
November, in time to take a part in the more important 
operations about to recur." (1) 

We, too, must now go back to Rangoon, or we shall 
miss the sight'of some wondrous strange animals, which the 
Golden Foot sent down from his capital far away, to 
oppose and strike terror into the unabashed invaders. 
These were the fiir-famed Invulnerables, to which corps I 
have already alluded ; (2) and I cannot now do better than 
introduce themselves and their deeds to the readers, in 
the spirited narrative of Mr. Macfarlane. (3) 

" The Lord of the AATiite Elephant now sent his two 
brothers, the prince of Tonghoo and the prince of Sar- 
rawaddy, with a whole host of astrologers, and a corps of 
' Invulnerables,' to join the army, and to direct the 
future operations of the war. The astrologers were to fix 

(l^i Burmese War, p. ()6. f2i Book i. chap. ii. p. 39. 

(w) British India, i). Uri sq. Geijer, the historian of Sweden, well com- 
pares them to the Bersekkars. 


the lucky momenta for attackino: : the Innilncrabh^s had 
some points of rcsomblaneo to the Turkisli Dolliis ; they 
were tlie desperadoes or madmen of tlie army, and their 
madness Mas kept up by enormous doses of opium. The 
corps of Invuhierabks consisted of several thousand men, 
divided into classes ; the most select band of all being 
called the Kinj^'s Invulnerables. The prince of Tontrhoo 
established his head-qu:irters at Pegu, and the prince of 
Sarrawaddy took post at Donoopeu, upon the great river, 
about sixty miles from Rangoon. 

" In the beginning of August, the prince of Sarrawaddy 
sent down a force to occupy a strong post at the mouth of 
the Pegu river, a few miles below Rangoon, giving his 
people strict orders to block the channel of the river in 
our rear, that not one of the ' wild foreigners,' or ' cap- 
tive strangers,' might escape the punishment that was 
about to overtake them. Sir Archibald Campbell pre- 
sently detached a small corps, under Brigadier Smelt, to 
dislodge Sarrawaddy 's warriors. Our land-troops were 
brought to a stand-still, when within musket-shot of the 
place, by a deep and impassable creek ; but a party of 
sailors from his Majesty's ship Lame, under Captain 
Marryat, threw a bridge over the creek ; and soon as the 
column of attack pushed forward, the enemy began to 
fl}', leaving eight guns and a quantity of ammunition in 
their stockade. A strong pagoda, with a numerous gar- 
rison, and with cannons pointing down every approach, 
was next carried with equal facility. Otlier ports on the 
rivers and creeks were successively and successfully at- 
tacked. Such of the enemy as had had any experience of 
our way of fighting seldom stopped to fight in their 
stockades, but a new set of people from the interior made 
a good stand in a succession of stockades on one of the 
rivers, and cost us the loss of a good many brave men. 
These affairs of posts were very mumerous. 

" At last the astrologers told the prince of Sarrawaddy 
that the stars had told them that the moment was come 
for a decisive action ; and on the night of the 30th of 
August, a body of the King's Invulnerables promised to 
attack and carry the Great or Golden Dagon Pagoda, in 
order that the princes, and the sages and pious men in 
their train, might celebrate the usual annual festival in 
the sacred place — a ])lace now crowded, not with Bouges, 
but with English grenadiers. And, true so far to their 


promise, the Inrulnerables, at the hour of midnight, 
rushed in a compact body from the jungle under 
the pagoda, armed with swords and muskets. A small 
picquet, thrown out in our front, retired in slow and 
steady order, skirmishing with the Inviilnerables until 
they reached the flight of steps leading from the road 
up to the pagoda. The moon was gone down, and the 
night was so dark that the Burmese could be dis- 
tinguished only by a few glimmering lanterns in the 
front ; but their noise and clamour, their threats and 
imprecations upon the impious strangers, if they did not 
immediately evacuate the sacred temple, proved their 
number to be very great. In a dense column, they rolled 
along the narrow pathway leading to the northern gate of 
the pagoda, wherein all seemed as silent as the grave. 
But, hark ! the muskets crash, the cannons roar along the 
ramparts of the British posts, drowning the tumult of the 
advancing column ; and see — see by the flash of our guns, 
the column reels back, the Invulnerables fall mortally 
wounded, and the rest turn their backs on the holy 
place, and run with frantic speed for the recovery of the 
jungle. Invulnerables ventured no more near any of our 
posts. But the dysentery broke out among our troops, 
killing many of them, and reducing more to a most 
emaciated and enfeebled state. Scarcely three thousand 
duty soldiers were left to guard our line. Floating hos- 
pitals were established at the mouth of the river ; bread 
was now furnished in sufficient quantities, but nothing, 
except change of season or of chmate, could restore the 
sufferers to health. Mergui and Tavoy, portions of our 
recent conquests on the sea-coast, were represented by the 
medical officers who visited them as admirable conva- 
lescent stations ; and thither a number of the people were 
sent, and with the most beneficial residt." 

Thus will the personification of plain, blunt valour ever 
overcome such as have no real courage, and are upheld 
only by superstition and credulity. 




Battle of Kyklod — Thantabaiii — Maha Bundoola — Successes of the British 
— Discomfitiu-e of Maha Bundoola — Canijjbell marches into the interior 
— Arrival at Donabew — Repulse — Death of Bundoola— Capture ol 

October began very inauspiciously. Colonel Smith, 
with about eight hundred men, was detached against 
Kykloo on the 5th, and at Tadaghee he was successful 
against a stockade. It was not until he had reached 
this place that he found the enemy was much stronger 
than was suspected. The colonel immediately applied for 
reinforcements, but he obtained only native troops and 
two Europeans. Two howitzers were sent with the 
Madras troop, which increased the number of cannon to 
four. With this force, inadequate enough to anything 
effectual, Smith arrived before the Burmese stockades at 
Kykloo on the 7th of October. 

The breastworks, which impeded the attack of the prin- 
cipal fortifications, were soon in the hands of the British. 
The principal stronghold was an intrcnchment, jvith a 
fortified pagoda. Major AVahab was placed in charge of 
the storming party. Captain Wilson was directed to 
assault the stockades in flank ; and a division of the 28th 
native infantry was to carry the pagoda ; and Colonel 
Smith took charge of a reserve party, to act wherever it 
was most needed. 

On the advance of Major Wahab, a voUey was fired 
from the pagoda ; but the stockaded Burmese, who 
seemed to have been superhumanly cunning for Burmese, 
waited until certain destruction might be dealt from their 
position, when they commenced firing with the greatest 

f)recision. Major Wahab and his men were obli":ed to 
ie flat on the ground to avoid the peppering. Like ill- 
fortune attended the efibrts of all the other divisions, and 
on a retreat being sounded, the men took to fhght. The 

190 KYKLOO. [II. 7. 

loss on this occasion was twenty-one killed, and seventy- 
four wounded. Ilowever, this reverse was counter- 
balanced by the success of Major Evans, at Thantabain, 
where the llrst minister of state, the Kyee Woongyee, was 
posted. After sliirmishing with the war-boats on the 
river, the detachment arrived opposite the village, which, 
after a brisk fire, soon surrendered on the 8th of October. 
Next morning the principal stockade was attacked, and 
carried without any opposition. Tlie Burmese having 
always carried ofi" their dead, it was impossible to find out 
how many were killed in the encounter ; but the place 
was riddled with shot, and a bungalow in the centre 
almost destroyed. The detachment returned home with- 
out the loss of a man. 

Brigadier M'Creagh, too, speedily returned to the 
charge at Kykloo, and finding the place, he went on, and 
after doing much damage, he returned to K)'kloo and 
Hangoon. "On their advance," we are told, "they [the 
soldiers] had an opportunity of witnessing the barbarous 
character of the enemy, many of the bodies of tlie sipahis 
and pioneers, who fell in the former attack, having been 
fastened to the trunks of trees, and mutilated by imbecile 
and savage exasperation. ''(I) 

In such operations as these, many months passed awa}'. 
Every successive encounter Avith the British troops gave 
the Burmese an additional hint that they must tax their 
energies to the utmost in order to bring about a tolerable 
issue. It might now be seen that the choicest troops of 
the empire must be opposed to the British invaders who 
had so coolly taken up their quarters among them ; and 
in the secrecy with which they summoned Bundoola, the 
great general of the age, in their estimation, from Ara- 
khau, they showed much diplomatic genius ; for ere Sir A. 
Campbell knew he was coming, he was at Donabew, and 
actively employed in concentrating all the available force 
of Burmah and Laos. It was about the end of August 
when he left Arakhan, and in November everything was 
prepared for a vigorous effort. "Tso pains nor expense 
were spared to equip this favourite general for the field, 
and by the approach of the season for active exertions, it 
was estimated that fifty thousand men were collected for 
the advance upon E^ngoon, who were to exterminate 

(1) Wilson's Burmese War, p. 105. 

11. 7.] KEMENDINE. 191 

the invaders, or carry them captives to the capital, where 
the chiefs were already calculatiug on the number of 
slaves who were, from their source of supply, to swell 
their train. Reports of the return of the Arakhan amiy 
soon reached Eaujj^oon, but some period elapsed before any 
certainty of its movements was obtained. By the end of 
November, an intercepted despatch from Bundoola, to the 
governor of Martaban,(l) removed all doubt, and an- 
nounced the departure of the former from Prome, at the 
head of a formidable host. His advance was hailed with 
deli^^ht, and preparations were made immediately for his 
reception. "(2) (rradually and slowly the Burmese posts 
were stretched close to Ban^oon, Dalla, Kemendine, the 
Shoo Dat^on to Puzendown creek, and no opposition was 
ofiered to their operations. By the end of December 
their careful and costly preparations were completed. On 
our part there was little fear. Determination was the rulinj^ 
sentiment in every bosom, and extraneously there was also 
no want of protection by fortifications and shipping. 

The enemy commenced by attacking Kemendine on the 
1st of December, but were repulsed by Major Yates, and 
Captain llyers, of H. M.S. Sojphia; and though throughout 
an aggressive skirmishing was carried on, fatiguing our 
troops considerably, yet the advantage remained on our 
side. Fire-rafts, sent down in great numbers, had no 
effect, as our seamen were on the look-out. 

From the 1st to the 5th constant sallies were made 
under able commanders, and many of the posts regained 
from the enemy. The Burmese showed no want of activity, 
yet, as a recent writer observes, "little harm was efl'ected 
by this show of activity ; but as the Buvmau force could no 
longer be permitted to harass the troops with impimity, 
and it was not impossible for them to escape from the con- 
sequences of a defeat, the commander-in-chief resolved to 
become the assailant, and terminate the expectations in 
which they had hitherto been permitted to indulge. "(3) 
jN'ow, at length, had the time arrived when the primary 
intentions of the general might be carried out, — now, in- 
deed, was that grand, resistless march to begin which finds 

(1) It may be as well to state, that about this time Colonel Godwin, 
alter a gallant resistance, took Martaban for the ttrst time ; it has since 
been piven up to the Burmese ; l)ut in this last war it was ay;ain taken pos- 
ses^sion of, and it is now in our liands. 

(2) Wilson, pp. 106, 107. (.3) Wilson, p. I1:J. 


no parallel in the history of any nation of modern times 
save our own. Sallies were continually made, — the men 
spared no nerve, — the officers no thought, — aU was bent 
upon the OTand idea of driving the enemy's vast army 
back into the heart of the land whence it had come. First, 
the Burmese posts at Puzendown were taken au point de 
Vepee by Majors Sale and Walker, the latter of whom 
fell during the contest, — then the division at Dalla was 
routed by Lieut. -Colonel Farrier and Lieut.-Colonel Parlby. 
Maha Bundoola himself began to be afraid of the redoubt- 
able '' foreigners," and retired from the active direction of 
the battle-field, giving up the executive command to Maha 
Thilwa, formerly governor of Asam, who stockaded his 
troops four miles to the north at Kokein. Emissaries 
were now set at work to destroy Bangoon by fire, and 
half of it was burnt, including the official quarter of the 
Madras commissariat. It became necessary to dislodge 
this body, and it was accordingly done under the direction 
of General Campbell. In fifteen minutes the strong 
stockades were in the possession of the British, and thus 
fifteen hundred determined men put to the rout twenty 
thousand — for such, it appeared, was the enemy's force — 
with only the loss of eighteen killed, though many were 
wounded. During these engagements the greatest terror 
was excited by the Diana steam-packet, by the aid of 
which many war-boats were captured. " The Burmans," 
concludes Wilson, " no longer dared attempt offensive 
operations, but restricted themselves to the defence of 
their positions along the river ; and the road was now open 
to the British army, which, agreeably to the policy that 
had been enjoined by the events of the war, prepared to 
dictate the terms of peace, if necessary, witliin the walls 
of the capital. "(1) 

Maha Jiuudoola was so dispirited by the events of the 
last few davs, that he retreated to Donabew again, and 
concentrated his forces at that place. His proud heart 
was broken, however, and he began to treat with the 
British residents at Eaugoon ; however, he would not 
make any direct advance to the officials, with whom alone 

(1) Burmese War, p. 119. My limits do not admit of my speaking much 
of the war in Arakhan, which was yet luidetermined . I shall content 
myself with referring to Macfarlane, Wilson, and other historians, merely 
adding, that the conquest of the pronncc was completed by the end of 
April, 1825, 

II. 7.] THANTABAIN. 193 

a formal peace could be concluded. It was intimated to 
him that he should pursue such a course, but he returned 
no answer to the letter, probably fecUng reassured by an 
accession of forces. The countiy being now clear, it ap- 
peared to Sir A. Campbell that an immediate advance 
should be made into the interior; and the arrival of 
H. M.'s 47th and some other reinforcements placed him 
in a position of being able to do so without fear of losing 
anything behind him. On the 11th of February, after the 
dispersion of the Burmese garrison in the fort of Syriam, 
the army was at liberty to move. All fear of insurrection 
on the part of the conquered provinces was at an end, as 
the Peguers, the principal inhabitants of the district, had 
deserted to the side of the British. 

The prehminary movement of the army was the dis- 
lodgment of the advanced guard of the native army at 
Thantabain, which was effectually done by Colonel God- 
win. This done, the army began its march in three divi- 
sions ; one, under General Campbell himself, was to pro- 
ceed by land, and left Eangoon on the 13th of February, 
1825 ; the next went by water up the Irawadi, on the 
16th ; and the third, under the command of Major Sale, 
set out for Bassein, which it was proposed first to occupy, 
on the 17th. Brigadier M'Creagh stayed in garrison with 
the reserve of feeble or iuvaUd men. 

The water-column, after having taken and destroyed 
several stockades in its way, arrived before Donabew on 
the 6th of March ; Brigadier-General Cotton immediately 
summoned the garrison to surrender, a summons which 
was of course useless. A party was then sent to recon- 
noitre ; and though the Burmese poured a heavy fire upon 
our men, a complete knowledge of the neignbourhood 
was gained. 

" The fortified post of Donabew was of considerable 
extent and breadth, situated on the right bank of the 
Irawadi, and commanding its whole channel. The main- 
work was a stockade parallelogram of one thousand by 
seven hundred yards, which was a Httle withdrawn from 
the bed of the river, on a bank rising above its level. The 
river face mounted fifty pieces of ordnance, of various 
sizes. The approach to the main structure from the 
south was defended by two outworks, one about four 
hundred yards lower down the river, and another about 
three hundred yards below it. Each was constructed of 


square beams of timber, provided with platforms, and 
pierced for cannon, and was strengthened by an exterior 
fosse, the outer edf^o of which was guarded with sharp- 
pointed timbers, planted obliquely, and a thick abatis of 
felled trees and brushwood. The lowest outwork was a 
square of about two hundred yards, with a pagoda in the 
centre ; the highest, of an irregular shape, running along 
the bank of a ri^^llet flowing into the main stream ; both 
works were occupied with strong parties of the enemy. "(1) 
The first stockade was attacked by the six hundred men 
yet at General Cotton's disposal (the rest being in garri- 
son, or with the flotilla), and was gained by the loss of 
twenty of our men. The faithless Burmese fled, leaving 
two hundred and eighty of their comrades in the hands of 
the enemy. But at the second stockade, a determined 
resistance met the fatigued troops, already clogged and 
weakened by the care of the numerous prisoners. A 
destructive fire was opened on them, and the only safe 
course was in flight, or, as it is named to " ears polite," 
in a retreat. General Cotton, therefore, receded to Yoong- 
yoon, where he awaited the answer to his account of tKe 
proceedings from General Campbell, who, in the mean 
time, had arrived at Yuadit, twenty-six miles above 
Tharawa. That answer was delivered by the general 
himself, who joined Cotton before Donabew by the 27th 
of March, after much vexation and toil. (2) Operations 
were immediately commenced ; and notwithstanding 
numerous sorties (on one occasion, Bundoola himself 
headed his seventeen elephants and infantry), they ad- 
vanced their works, and fatal were the effects of the 
mortars and bombs that were thrown into the thickly- 
peopled inclosure. The feeling of, fear grew strong with 
the Burmese ; and on the evening of the 31st, a soldier 
brought a laconic letter from Bundoola, couched in these 
terms : — " In war we find each other's force ; the two 
countries are at war for nothing, and we know not each 
other's minds! "(3) It seemed from what the soldier 
knew of the matter, which was very little, that the Bur- 
mese general desired peace. Very doubtful is the authen- 
ticity of this letter, when compared with the spirited 

(1) Wilson, p. i;.^. 

(2) I may here nwution, that the author of Two Years in Ava has en- 
riched his book by an excellent and complete plan of the fortress and works 
of Donabew, which I most heartily recommeud to the student of military 
science. (M) Mac Farkme's India, p. 4~9- 


reply sent to General Willoughby Cotton's summons of 
surrender. '* We are each fiojliting for our country, and 
you will Hud me as steady in defending mine, as you in 
maintaining the honour of yours. If you wish to see 
Donabew, come as friends, and I will show it you. If 
you come as enemies, Land !" (1) 

On the 1st of April the batteries opened, and by the 
2nd the enemy had decamped. It was discovered that 
Bundoola had met his death on the preceding day, by the 
bursting of a shell. All the courage of the Burmese war- 
riors had fled with his departing spirit. The greatest 
general, since the golden days of Alompra, the devoted to 
Buddha ; he had won his way to the most responsible 
position in the king's service, only to be singled out, as it 
were, by some supernatural power, as the victim of the 
fireballs of the persevering islanders of the far-off ocean. 
1^0 wonder, then, that the superstitious Burmese, on 
beholding the fate of their commander, gave themselves 
up for lost. What a mysterious power the English 
seemed to have of singling out the head of their army, 
and destroying him ! So they fled, and the British 
became masters of Donabew, where they found much 
welcome supply of corn and military stores. Notwith- 
standing the momentary panic of the Avan government, 
it soon regained its customary arrogance. The JEdin- 
burgh Eevieio has some remarks, which, though rather 
premature for our progress in the history, I shall here 

" But blood and treasure might be still more unprofit- 
ably expended. The ignorance and arrogance of the court 
of Ava are almost beyond occidental credence. When 
its favourite general, Bundoola, invaded Chittagong, our 
southernmost district, at the commencement of the last 
war, he brought with him golden fetters to bind Lord 
Amherst withal ; and had orders, after he had taken Cal- 
cutta, to march on to take London ! Defeat after defeat 
seemed to produce little sobering effect upon the drunken- 
ness of Indo-Chinese pride ; the officers who were fiying 
before our army in its advance upon the capital, and who 
must have felt the utter hopelessness of the contest, were 
obliged, as their intercepted letters vouched, to account in 
the most absui'd manner for their inability to stop us ; and 

(U Wilson's Burmese War, p. 191. 

o 2 


tlie unfortunate wretch who commanded the troops that 
made the last stand against us, at a place called Pagahm 
Mew, was trampled to death by elephants on his return 
with the news of his defeat, tt was not until our army- 
arrived within three days' march of the capital that the 
king's eyes appeared to be opened to any rational sense of 
his perilous situation ; and there was evidence enough, 
before we evacuated the country, that the effect even of 
such severe discipline as the exaction of a million sterling 
towards the expenses of the war, and the cession of some 
of his most valued provinces, was not likely to be jier- 

(1) Edinburgh Review, vol. Ixxi. p. 35&. 


Arrival at Prome — Prome under English rule — Re-assembly of the Burmese 
armies — Negotiations for peace — Battle of Meaday — Melloon — Yandabo 
—Treaty of peace. 

The general did not tarry long at Douabew, but pushed 
forward toward Prome, where the rainy season was to be 
passed. On his way to that place, he was joined at Tha- 
rawa by McCreagh's reserve column from Rangoon, and 
the united forces pushed forward for Prome. The charm 
was now broken, and as the British lines advanced, the 
prince of Tharawadi, at the head of the opposing army, 
fell back, and, though strong in numbers, oflfered no re- 
sistance to the progress of the Anglo-Indian army. Prome 
was reached by the 25th of April, and taken without one 
round of firing. The indecisive conduct of the prince 
seems to have arisen partly from a wish to negotiate a 
peace, which was attempted at Turriss Miu, a few miles 
below Prome. A native soldier came to the camp with a 
letter from two of the Atwenwoons, proposmg an accom- 
modation ; but Sir A. Campbell replied, that at all events 
he should advance to Prome : and though another letter 
was received from the Atwenwoons, he continued in his 
resolve. Luckily for him, he arrived in time to save the 
place from being stripped of all the necessaries of life, in 
the same manner as the towns he had before passed had 
been served. On hearing of the arrival of Campbell, 
Prince Tharawadi left for Ava, to insist upon a peace 
being concluded. 

The British had only just arrived in time to stand the 
change of the seasons in this place, — a more favourable 
spot than the lower country for that purpose. Previous 
to the setting in of the rainy season, the thermometer 
had risen in the shade to 110^, but the nights Mere still 
cool, and the climate was not unhealthy. The monsoon 
brought its ordinary eflfects upon the condition of the 

198 PEOME. [II. 8. 

European troops, who, tliougli suffering much less se- 
verely than at Kangoon, lost almost one-seventh of their 
number between June and October ; the native troops 
were much more exempt, although not wholly free, from 
disease. Although the level of the country was higher 
than in the coast districts, yet the site of the town 
was so low as to be under water at the rise of the river, 
and to the east extended for many miles a plain laid out 
principally in rice-cultivation ; south of the town was a 
range of low hills, crowned by the principal pagodas, 
and thither some of the troops were removed, w hen the 
suburbs in which they had been quartered were found 
liable to sudden inundations ; supplies were in some 
abundance, and there was comparatively little demand for 
the active services of the force ; it seems probable, there- 
fore, that much of the disease that still prevailed was the 
consequence of previous exposure and exhaustion, although 
ascribable in some measure to the effects of climate and of 
ill-selected quarters for the troops. (1) 

It were almost beyond the limits of this volume to en- 
large upon the prosperous state of Prome under British 
rule, and Mr. Mac Farlane's able sketch will compensate in 
every way for my own shortcomings. In speaking of an 
excursion made by Colonel Graham, partly for forage, and 
partly to cabn the fears of the natives themselves, the 
historian of India continues : (2) — "Almost immediately 
after their return, the persecuted and dislodged inhabitants 
of the town poured in from every quarter, some from the 
woods, bringing their families, their cattle, their waggons, 
and other property ; and some escaped from the military 
escorts and disjointed corps of the king's fugitive army. 
Food and covering were given to the starving and naked ; 
and those who had houses and property wore secured in 
the possession of them. Our British soldiers assisted 
them in rebuilding their wooden houses and their bamboo 
huts, and in a very short time Prome had risen from its 
ashes, a greater town than it had been before the war. As 
the people were punctually paid for whatever they brought, 
plentiful bazaars were soon estabhshed, and our soldiers 
lived in comfort and abundance, and unmolested ease ; 
while the ill-conducted armies of the king of Ava, unpaid, 
unsupplied, and driven up the country, were left to the 

(1) Wilson, Biirmcse War. p. ISl. (2) British India, p. 485. 


alternative of starvatiou or dispersion. The towns and 
districts in ovir rear followed the example of the provincial 
capital, and the banks of the Irawaddi below Prome were 
soon enlivened by the presence of a contented people. 
An excellent depot was soon formed at Prome, with sup- 
plies sufficient not only for the rainy season, but for the 
lonuj campaign which possibly mi2;ht follow. The plains 
wliicli our soldiers had traversed on their advance up the 
country without seeing a single bullock were again covered 
with numerous herds ; from every pathway of the deep 
and extensive forests, which cover far more than half of 
the country, droves of the finest oxen — the oxen of Pegu 
— now issued daily. The menthagoes, or hereditary head- 
men of the districts and chief towns, tendered their alle- 
giance, and were restored to their municipal functions by 
the British generals. A state of desolation and anarchy 
once more gave way to order and plenty ; and from Ean- 
goon to Prome, from Bassein to Martaban, all classes of 
natives not only contributed their aid in collecting such 
supplies as the country afibrded, but readil}' lent their 
services in facilitating the equipment and movement of 
military detachments. (1) The only anxiety which the 
people seemed to find was, that the English would leave 
them, and give them back to their old masters." 

It was now the rainy season, and the operations of both 
parties were, to a certain extent, suspended. Little was 
done by the British, and the Burmese made no prepara- 
tions against any hostile aggression on our part. The 
only event that at all did away with the tedium of the 
period was the discomfiture of the Thekia AVungyee at 
Old Pegu, where the Talicns, who trusted (a sad reliance, 
as it afterwards was found) in the British assistance 
towards the hoped-for object of the recovery of their 
independence, rose, and seized as many of the officers 
of Lis detachment as they could secure ; one chief of 
importance was amongst them, — the Thekia Wungyee 
himself escaping. Their prize they brought to llangoon, 
and delivered to Brigadier Smith. 

The successes of the British naturally created the 
utmost dismay at the metropolis ; but the native arrogance 

(1) " In the month of Aupnst, Sir Archibald Campbell went down to 
Rangoon, and returned from that place tu Prome, in the ^team-vessel the 
Diana, with as much case and tranquillity as we {jo from Limdon-bridgo 
to Ramsgate and back again."— Mac Farlane. 


of the people, so common in a semicivilised race, soon 
caused the usual lofty tone to be assumed, and generals 
stepped forward, "willing to risk a combat with the British 
army, or pay the hard penalty that awaited an unsuccess- 
ful commander. This man was the Pagahm Wungyee, 
a chief of no little consequence and considerable vanity. 
A leader found, it was necessary to get an army, — a far 
more difficult task. It may easily be conceived, that the 
forces levied in a hasty manner, and without any attention 
as to their courage, could not be very formidable ; and so, 
indeed, it proved on reconnoissance. 

But war costs money, as Sir A. Campbell found, and he 
was now fully sensible of the fact, that httle was to be re- 
gained from the enemy. Therefore, he gave the Burmese 
government another opportunity of coming to a peaceful 
conclusion, by means of a letter addressed to the prince 
of Tharawadi, and borne by a servant of that person, who 
had come under English protection to Prome. However, 
it was totally unavailing ; no answer was received, and 
therefore the hostile preparations of the king of Ava were 
continued ; and to facilitate these, the commander-in-chief 
went down to Eangoon in the Diana, and did not return 
till the 2nd of August. It was satisfactory to find that, 
in the lower provinces, " a state of desolation and anarchy 
once more gave way to order and plenty ; and from Bas- 
sein to Martaban, and Rangoon to Prome, every class of 
natives not only contributed their aid to collect such 
supplies as the country could afibrd, but readily lent their 
services to the equipment and march of military detach- 
ments." (1) 

Soon after, intelligence was received of the approach 
of the mighty armament of Burmah, amounting to 
40,000 men (so it was said), under the command of 
Memia-Bo, a brother of the king himself There were 
also 12,000 at Tongho, under the prince of Tongho. 
General Cotton was sent to reconnoitre their force, which 
he discovered at Meaday, on the loth, on the west bank 
of the river. Our forces, it may be observed, amounted 
to but 3,0(X) men, though 2.<MX) more were daily expected. 
The preparations at Meaday were very energetic, and the 
force amounted to 16,00() men, at the lowest estimate. 

At this juncture, a letter of Sir A. Campbell took effect 

(1) WilscHi's Burmese War, p. 196. 

II. 8.] ARMISTICE. 201 

on the Burmese, and on the Gth September, a boat 
arrived at Prome, with a flag of truce, and two commis- 
sioners presented a reply from the general of the Burmese 
army. Accounts differ as to the terms of the letter, but 
Wilson is decidedly the best authority ; and according to 
him, the letter was proud and unconciliating, yet a wish 
was expressed in it for a lasting peace. " Sir Archibald 
Campbell lost no time in sending two British oflScers to 
Meaday, to offer an armistice, and to propose a meeting 
of commissioners from the two armies. The Burmese 
prime minister tried hard to delay the meeting. It was 
found necessary to allow a delay of nearly two weeks, the 
Wongees protesting that they must wait until full powers 
arrived from their court. The Keewongee, or prime 
minister, agreed to be one of the commissioners, and it 
was finally settled that the meeting should take place at a 
spot midway between the two armies, and that each party 
should be accompanied by 600 men, the rank of the 
Keewongee not permitting him to move with a smaller 
escort." (1) 

It seemed, however, impossible to come to any deter- 
mination with this uncivilised, changeable race. On dis- 
cussing matters, on our demanding compensation, there 
was much hesitation, and, at last, when the armistice was 
on the point of expiring, the Wungyee sent these words 
to Sir A. Campbell : — 

" If you wish for peace, you may go away ; but if you 

ask either for money or territory, no friendship can exist 

^^etween us. This is Burmese custom." 

/ It is, indeed, Burmese custom ! Nothing is to be 

: obtained from them without force ; not that they do not 

feel the demand just, but because they will hold doggedly 

to what they can get, though it benefit them not, nay, 

even if it be hurtful. 

"The court of Ava," observes "Wilson, "indignant at 
the idea of conceding an inch of territory, or submitting 
to what, in oriental politics, is held a mark of excessive 
humiliation, payment of any pecuniary indemnification, 
breathed nothing but defiance, and determined instantly 
to prosecute the war." (2) It was then that, on the nu- 
merous incursions of the Burmese, the definite reply 
was returned to the British commander-in-chief, proving 

(1) Mac Farlane's British India, p. 487. (2) Wilson, p. 209. 


that, after all, the advances made by the Burmese were 
only made to gain time. 

The gallant general now determined to advance boldly 
on the enemy. His forces now amounted to 5,0()<^ men, 
of whom 3,0(.X) were Britisli. Up to the 1st of December, 
operations were rather unfavourable than otherwise ; on 
that day, however, tickle fortune again turned over to the 
English side. I shall give the events of the day in the 
words of Wilson : (1) 

" Leaving four regiments of native infantry for the 
defence of Promo, General Campbell marched, early on 
the morning of the 1st of December, against the enemy's 
left, while the flotilla, under Sir James Brisbane, and the 
26th Madras native infantry, acting in co-operation, by a 
cannonade of the works upon the river, diverted tlie 
attention of the centre from the real attack. 

Upon reaching the JS^awine river, at the village of 
Zeonke, -the force was divided into two columns, Tlie 
right, under Brigadier-General Cotton, formed of his 
Majesty's 41st and 89th regiments, and the 18th and 
28th native infantry, proceeding along the left bank of 
the river, came in front of the enemy's intrenehments, 
consisting of a series of stockades, covered on either flank 
by thick jungle, and by the river in the rear, and defended 
by a considerable force, of whom 8,000 were Shans, or 
people of Laos, vmder their native chiefs. The post was 
immediately stormed. The attack was led by Lieutenant- 
Colonel Godwin, with the advanced guard of the right 
column, and the stockades were carried in less than ten 
minutes. The enemy left three hundred dead, including 
their, general, Maha Kemyo, and all their stores and am- 
munition, and a considerable quantity of arms were taken. 
The left column, under the commander-in-chief, composed 
of his IMajesty's 13th, 38th, 47th, and 87th regiment*, and 
38th Madras infantry, which had crossed the Newine 
river lower down, came up as the fugitives were crossing, 
and completed the dispersion of the Burman army. 

" i'ollowing up the advantage thus gained. General 
Campbell determined to attack tlieKyeeAVoongyee in his 
position, without delay, llis force accordingly marched 
back to Zeonke, where they bivouacked for the night, 
and resumed their march on the following morning at 
day-break. The nature of the country admitted of no 

(P Bunnese War, p. 2l6. 


approach to the enemy's defences npon the hills, except in 
front, and that by a narrow pathway, accessible to but a 
limited number of men in line. Their posts at the foot of 
the hills were more readily assailable, and from these 
they were speedily driven ; but the attack of the heights 
was a more formidable task, as the narrow road by which 
they were approached was commanded by the enemy's 
artillery and breastworks, numerously manned. After 
some impression had been apparently made by the artil- 
lery and rockets, the first Bengal brigade, consisting of 
H.M.'s 13th and 38th regiments, advanced to the storm, 
supported on the right by six companies of H.M.'s 87th. 
They made good their ascent, in spite of the heavy fire 
they encountered, and to which scarcely a shot was re- 
tui-ned; and when they had gained the summit, they 
drove the enemy from hill to hill, until they had cleared 
the whole of the formidable and extensive intrenchments. 
These brilliant advantages were not gained without loss ; 
and in the affair of the 1st, Lieutenants Sutherland and 
Gossip, of H.M.'s list, and Ensign Campbell, of the royal 
regiment, were killed ; and Lieutenant Proctor, of H.M.'s 
38th ; Lieutenant Baylee, of the 87th ; and Captain Daw- 
son, of H.M.'s ship Arachne, in that of the second. The 
division under General Cotton, which had made a cir- 
cuitous march to take the enemy in flank, was unable to 
make its way through the jungle to bear part in the en- 
gagement. On the 5th a detachment from it proceeded 
across the river, and drove the right wing of the enemy, 
not only from their post upon the river, but from a strong 
stockade about half a mile in the interior, completely 
manned and mounting guns. The enemy were dispersed 
with severe loss in killed and prisoners, and their defences 
were set on fire." 

No time was now lost in advancing upon the retreating 
army. On the 9th of December the march of the Bri- 
tish columns began, and their path lay along " dismal 
swamps," and jungles, which, overrun with every kind of 
reeds and elephant-grass, presented a dreary and dis- 
piriting aspect to the troops. Indeed, the eflcct of the 
marshy country was soon felt on the army, for on the 
12th the cholera broke out among the troops, and, accord- 
ing to Lieutenant-Colonel Tulloch,(l) nearly two ret^iments 
■were placed in an Unfit condition for action. At Mcaday 
the sight was sad enough. " Within and among the 

(1) statistical Report. 


stockades," says Mac Farlane,"(l) "the ground -was strewed 
with dead and dying Burmese lying promiscuously toge- 
ther, the victims of wounds, of disease, or of want. Several 
large gibbets stood about the stockade, each bearing the 
mouldering remains of thi'ee or four crucified Burmese, 
who had been thus barbarously put to death for having 
wandered from their posts in search of food, or for having 
followed the example of their chiefs in flying from the 
enemy." (2) 

I must pass briefly over subsequent events. Con- 
ferences for the purpose of settling a peace were sought 
and obtained by the Burmese ; but the negotiations came 
to nothing. It seemed that all feelings of any kind had 
left them. They neither sought to conclude a peace, nor, 
on the other hand, did they prepare for contesting the 
advance of the army on the capital. At last, after much 
deliberation and little determination, a treaty of peace was 
concluded by commissioners appointed for that purpose, 
through the intervention of a priest. However, after all, 
it never reached the king for his ratification. " During 
the conferences," however, " the Burman commissioners 
repeatedly declared their being furnished with full powers, 
and their fii*m persuasion, that whatever they agreed to, 
the king would ratify ; they expressed their entire satis- 
faction with the spirit in which the negotiations had been 
conducted by the British commissioners, and their grati- 
fication at the prospect of a speedy renewal of friendly 
relations ; they made no secret of their motives, and frankly 
and unreservedly admitted that the king had been ruined 
by the war, that the resources of the country were 
exhausted, and that the road to Ava was open to the 
British army. There appears every reason to credit their 
assertions, and all who had an opportunity of exercising 
personal observation were impressed with this conWc- 
tion, that the negotiators were honest." (3) I cannot, 
however, but point out to the reader that there appears 
to be a singular dash of cunning in their confessions. 
The king was ruined, at least so they said; thus it was 
useless ever to require money for expenses. Otherwise, 
there seems to be simplicity enough. 
^ Still the war was not at an cud. The treaty was not 

(1) British India, p. 4(J0. 

(2) It may not be inapposite here to mentiou that, according: to a writer 
in the Times of the 7tli of September, 1852, "letters were found in the 
stockades at Prome, ordering white slaves to be sent up to Ava, for the 
use of the Ava ladies." (.3) Wilson, p. 229. 

n. 8.] FATE OF THE TEEATY. 205 

ratified ; nor destined to be. Time was asked, and re- 
peatedly granted ; but treachery was found to bo at work 
afjain in the Burman hearts. Ihey felt no peace with the 
wild foreigners. At last they were told, that on their 
withdrawing from Melloon by the morning of the 20th, 
and their passage to Ava, hostilities would not be recom- 
menced. But they refused ; therefore they received inti- 
mation of an attack on the 18th. " Batteries were accord- 
ingly erected with such expedition," says Wilson, " that 
by ten the next morning, eight and twenty pieces of ord- 
nance were in position on points presenting more than a 
mile on the eastern bank of the Irawadi, which corre- 
sponded with the enemy's line of defence on the opposite 
shore ; nor had the Burmas been idle, having, in the 
course of the night, thrown up additional defences of con- 
siderable strength and extent, and well adapted to the 
purposes for which they were constructed." (1) 

The heavy cannonade which ensued, soon drove away 
the fickle Burmese, and crowned the British armies with 
success. It is to be observed, that the rapidity and pre- 
cision of the English movements insured our success. 
Here was it discovered that the treaty had not been sent 
to Ava at all, and when a note was sent by the British to 
the chief commissioner, informing him that the treaty had 
been left behind and would be restored, that official replied, 
that a large sum of money had also been left behind, 
which he likewise hoped would be refunded. The whole 
show of negotiation was a blind for hostile preparations 
of no avail, as it was afterwards found. 

" By this time," says Mr. Mac Farlane,(2) "the Golden 
Face was completely clouded with despair. Every hope 
and every promise had failed ; every day fixed upon by 
his star-gazers as a lucky day had turned out an unlucky 
day ; and all his astrologers and soothsayers had proved 
themselves to be but cheats and liars. Sir Archibald 
assured the two envoys that he was desirous of peace, 
and that his terms would .vary very little from those 
which had been offered and accepted by the Wongees at 
Melloon. He furnished them with a statement of his 
terms, and promised not to pass Pagahm-mew for twelve 
days. On the following morning, the 1st of February, 
1826, the two delegates quitted the English camp to 
return to Ava, the American missionary being sanguine 

(1) Burmese War, p. 238. (2; British India, p. ■i02. 

206 PAGAHM-MEW. [11. 8. 

in liis expectations of returning in a few days with casli, 
and a treaty of peace, duly signed by the king. Yet, in 
truth, his Burmese majesty was still undecided, and, in 
the course of two or three days, it became known in the 
British camp that he was displaying a determination to 
try the fortune of war once more ere he submitted. He 
was probably encouraged herein by a knowledge of the 
smallness of the force with which Sir Archibald Camp- 
bell was advancing upon his capital, and by the intel- 
ligence received of the defeat of a weak British detach- 
ment, before the strong'stockade of Zitoung. in Pegu, where 
the commanding officer, Colonel Conroy, and another 
officer, were killed, and several wounded, and where the 
loss in men was very heavy for so small a force. 

" Sir Archibald Campbell continued his advance. On 
approaching Pagahm-mew, a town about a hundred miles 
above Melloon, he obtained positive information that a 
levy of 40,000 men had been ordered ; that the Golden 
Foot had bestowed upon his new army the flattering 
appellation of ' Retrievers of the King's Glory,' and that 
this army had been placed under the command of a 
savage warrior, styled Nee Woon-Breen, which has been 
variously translated as ' Prince of Darkness,' ' King of 
Hell,' and ' Prince of the setting Sun.' 

" Upon the 8th of February, when within a few days' 
march of Pagahm-mew, Sir Archibald ascertained that 
the Retrievers of the King's Glory and the Prince of 
Darkness were prepared to meet him imder the walls of 
that city. 

" On the 9th, the British column moved forward in order 
of attack, being much reduced by the absence of two 
brigades, and considerably under 2,000 fighting men. The 
advanced guard was met in the jungle by strong bodies 
of skirmishers ; and, after maintaining a running tight for 
several miles, tlie column debouched in the open country, 
and there discovered the Burmese army, from 1G,000 to 
20,000 strong, drawn up in an inverted crescent, the wings 
of which threatened the little body of assailants on both 
their flanks. But Sir Archibald pushed boldly forward upon 
the point for their centre, tlirew the whole weight of his 
column, broke and shattered it in the twinkling of an eye, 
and left the unconnected wings severed from each other. 
The Betrievers of the King's Glory did not fight so well 
as those who had been accused of forfeiting his majesty's 

n. 8.] PAGAHM-MEVr. 207 

glory : they all fled, as fast as their legs could cany them, 
to a second line of redoubts and stockades, close under 
the walls of Pagahm-mew ; but the British column followed 
them so closely, that they had little time for rallying in 
those works ; and as soon as a few English bayonets got 
within the stockades, all the Burmese went ofl' screammg 
like a scared flock of wild geese. Hundreds jumped into 
the river to escape their assailants, and perished in the 
water; and, with the exception of 2,000 or 3,000 men, 
the whole army dispersed upon the spot :" and from 
this time no opposition was offered to the British. The 
Burmese were now wearied out ; their resources, as it has 
been observed, were exhausted, their spirit broken, and 
while the court felt that resistance was impossible, the 
nobles individually saw that the Company was a better 
ally than the sovereign of Ava ; yet it was still attempted 
to gain some advantage, and inactive despair, succeeded 
by active flight, showed the English what the general 
sentiment of the Burmese nation was. As a means, how- 
ever, of gaining some little advantage, the European 
prisoners were retained in custody by the nation ; but at 
Yandabo it chanced that our troops caught sight of several 
of the captives, and their misery caused the troops to be 
more anxious than ever for vengeance upon the Burmese 
government. The two or three prisoners held out as a 
bait by the Burmese monarch, were not of much avail. 
The same sum of twenty-five lacs of rupees was demanded, 
and the Burmans had to pay ; shuffling was of no use. 

" After halting two or three days at Pagahm," says 
Wilson, (1) " General Campbell resumed his march, which 
now seemed likely to conduct him to the capital of Ava. 
There, one feeling alone prevailed, and although various 
reports were thrown out, at one time of the intention of 
the king to defend the city to the last extremity, and at 
another to protract the war by flying to the mountains, 
these purposes, if ever conceived, originated in the anxiety 
of the moment, and were never seriously entertained. 
The king and his ministers felt that they were in the 
power of the British ; and their only anxiety was that the 

Eersonal dignity and security of the sovereign should not 
e violated. It was witli as much satisfaction as astonish- 
ment, therefore, that they learned from Mr. Price, on his 

(1) PujfC -Jjj. 


return from Ava, that the British commissioners sought 
to impose no severer terms than those which had been 
stipulated in the treaty of Melloon. To these there was 
now no hesitation to accede, although a lurking suspicion 
was still entertained that the invaders would not rest 
satisfied with the conditions they professed to impose. 
With a mixture of fear and trust, Mr. Price was again 
despatched to the British camp to signify the consent of 
the Burman court to the terms of peace ; and Mr. Sand- 
ford was now set wholly at liberty, and allowed to accom- 
pany the negotiator to rejoin his countrymen. These 
gentlemen returned to camp on the 13th of February ; 
but as the envoy had brought no official ratification of the 
treaty, Sir A. CampbeU declined suspending his march 
until it should be received." 

Thus, at Yandabo the British were met by the return- 
ing envoy bearing the money, and the rest of the required 
despatches. On the 26th of February, the memorable 
treaty of Yandabo was drawn out, and by it British 
ascendancy in the farther peninsula of India fuUy 

In order that the reader may be fuUy acquainted with 
the bearings of our negotiations at Yandabo, I shall here 
give the treaty in extenso, from a late official document. (1) 

" Treaty of Peace between the Honourable East- 
India Company on the one part, and his Majesty the 
king of Ava on the other, settled by Major-General Sir 
Archibald Campbell, K.C.B. and K.C.T.S., commanding 
the expedition, and senior commissioner in Pegu and Ava ; 
Thomas Campbell Robertson, Esquire, civil commissioner 
in Pe^u and Ava ; and Henry Ducie Chads, Esquire 
(captam), commanding his Britannic Majesty's and the 
Honourable Company's naval force on the Irrawaddy 
river, on the part of the Honourable Company ; and by 
Men"yee-Maha-Men-Klah-Kyan-Tcn Woon^yec, Lord of 
Lay-E^aeng, on the part of the king of Ava ; who 
have each communicated to the other their full powers ; 
agreed to and executed at Yandaboo, in the kingdom of 
Ava, on the 24th day of February, in the year of our 
Lord 1826, corresponding with the fourth day of the 
decrease of the moon Taboung, in the year 1187, Man- 
dina era :— 

(1) Papers relating: to the Hostilities with Bunrvah. Presented to both 
Houses of Parliament by her Majesty's command, June 4, 1852, pp. 87-89- 

II. 8.] TliEATY OF PEACE. 209 

" Article I. — There shall bo perpetual peace and 
friendship bet\A'oen the Honourable Company, on the one 
part, and His Majesty the King of Avaon the other. 

" Article II. — His Majesty the King of Ava renounces 
all claims upon, and will abstain from all future inter- 
ference with, the Principality of Assam and its depen- 
dencies, and also with the contiguous petty states of 
Cachar and Jyntia. AVith regard to Munipore, it is 
stipulated, that should Ghumbheer Singh desire to return 
to that country, he shall be recognised by the King of 
Ava as rajah tlieroof. 

" Article III. — To prevent all future disputes re- 
specting the boundary-line between the two great na- 
tions, the British Government will retain the conquered 
provinces of Arracan, including the four divisions of 
Arracan, Eamree, Cheduba, and Sandowey, and His 
Majesty the King of Ava cedes all rights thereto. The 
Annonpecteetonmien, or Arracan Mountains (known in 
Arracan by the name of Yeornabourg or Pokhengloung 
range), will henceforth form the boundary between the 
two great nations on that side. Any doubts regarding the 
said line of demarcation will be settled by Commissioners 
appointed by the respective Governments for that pur- 
pose, such Commissioners from both powers to be of suit- 
able and corresponding rank. 

*' Article IV. — His Majesty the King of Ava cedes to 
the British Government the conquered Provinces of Yeh, 
Tavoy, Mergui, and Tenasserim, with the islands and 
dependencies thereunto appertaining, taking the Saluen 
Hiver as the line of demarcation on the frontier. Any 
doubts regarding their boundaries will be settled as speci- 
fied in the concluding part of Article III. 

" Article V. — In proof of the sincere disposition of 
the Burmese Government to maintain the relations of 
peace and amity between the nations, and as part indemni- 
fication to the British Government for the expenses of the 
war, His Majesty the King of Ava agrees to pay the sum 
of one crore of rupees. 

" Article VI. — No person whatever, whether native 
or foreign, is hereafter to be molested by either party, on 
account of the part which he may have taken, or have 
been compelled to take, in the present war. 

" Article VII. — In order to cultivate and improve the 
relations of amity and peace hereby established between 


210 TREATY OF. PEACE. [II. 8. 

the two Governments, it is agreed that accredited Mini- 
sters, retaining an escort or safeguard of fifty men, from 
each, shall reside at the Durbar of the other, who shall 
be permitted to purchase, or to build a suitable place of 
residence, of permanent materials, and a Commercial 
Treaty, upon principles of reciprocal advantage, will be 
entered into by the two High Contracting powers. 

"Article VIII. — All public and private debts con- 
tracted by either Government, or by the subjects of either 
Government, with the other previous to the war, to be 
recognised and liquidated upon the same principles of 
honour and good faith as if hostilities had not taken 
place between the two nations ; and no advantage shall be 
taken by either party of the period that may have elapsed 
since the debts were incurred, or in consequence of the 
war ; and, according to the universal Law of Nations, it 
is further stipulated, that the property of all British sub- 
jects who may die in the dominions of his Majesty the 
Xing of Ava shall, in the absence of legal heirs, be placed 
in the hands of the British Resident or Consul in the said 
dominions, who will dispose of the same according to the 
tenour of the British law. In like manner, the property 
of Burmese subjects, dying under the same circumstances 
in any part of the British dominions, shall be made over 
to the Minister or other authority delegated by his Bur- 
mese Majesty to the Supreme Government of India. 

"Article IX. — The King of Ava will abolish all exac- 
tions upon British ships or vessels in Burman ports, that 
are not required from Burman ships or vessels in British 
ports : nor shall ships or vessels, the property of British 
subjects, whether European or Indian, entering the Ean- 
goon river, or other Burman ports, be required to land 
their guns or unship their ruaders, or do any other act 
not required of Burmese ships or vessels in British ports. 

" Article X. — The good and faithfid ally of the Bri- 
tish Government, his Majesty the Xing of biam, having 
taken a part in the present war, will, to the fullest extent, 
as far as regards his Majesty and his subjects, be included 
in the above treaty. 

" Article XI. — This treaty to be ratified by the Bur- 
mese authorities competent in the like cases, and the 
ratification to be accompanied by all British, whether 
European or native (American), and other prisoners, who 


vrill be delivered over to the British Commissionera ; the 
British Commissiouers, on their part, en^aj^ing that the 
said treaty shall be ratified by the Right Honourable the 
Governor-General in Council, and the ratification shall be 
delivered to his Majesty the King of Ava in four months, 
or sooner if possible ; and all the Burmese prisoners shall, 
in like manner, be delivered over to their own Govern- 
ment as soon as they arrive from Bengal." 

Subsequently, the following article was added : — 
*' The British Commissioners being most anxiously de- 
sirous to manifest the sincerity of their wish for peace, 
and to make the immediate execution of the fifth article 
of thi§ treaty as little irksome or inconvenient as possible 
to His Majesty the King of Ava, consent to the following 
arrangements, with respect to the division of the sum 
total, as specified in the article before referred to, into 
instalments ; viz., upon the payment of twenty-five lacs of 
i-upees, or one-fourth of the sum total (the other articles 
of the treaty being executed), the army will retire to 
Kaugoon ; upon the further payment of a similar sum at 
that place, within one hundred days from this date, with 
the proviso as above, the army will evacuate the do- 
minions of His Majesty the King of Ava, with the least 
possible delay ; leaving the remaining moiety of the sum 
total to be paid by equal annual instalments in two years, 
from tliis 24th day of February, 1826, A.D., through the 
Consul, or Eesident in Ava, or Pegu, on the part of the 
Honourable the East-India Company." 

Since the conclusion of this treaty, little has occurred 
in the kingdom of general interest, as far as we are con- 
cerned, until the recent war. From the year 1820 to our own 
day, revolution has overthro^^^l revolution, and the same 
spirit is at work at present as in the days of the creator of 
Burmese importance, Alompra, with this difference, that 
while at that period the turbulent elements disturbing the 
peace of the peninsula could in some measure be con- 
trolled, as there was a man of consummate talent and 
great power capable of so doing, there is now no one ; and 
further, that if we do not annex the country, there is not a 
doubt, but that we shall find a disadvantage in not having 
done so. In the first place, the trade with the country 
will be destroyed by the hardness of the officials ; and, 
secondly, it has not been forgotten by the Peguese, that 


we foully betrayed them in 1827. They are now giving 
us another trial: let us show that we are worthy of 

I shall now close this sketch of the fortunes of the 
Burmese nation with a few remarks made during a former 
crisis by an Edinburgh reviewer, as they will, no doubt, 
be found somewhat applicable to the present time :(1) — 

" The difficulty of dealing with inflated barbarians, and 
of resisting the constant provocation to chastise them, not 
merely into civility, but into the due observance of their 
federal obligations, and the necessary restraint of the 
plundering propensities of their subjects upon our borders, 
is extreme. 

" Yet the dire necessity of entering upon another war 
with such enemies must be contemplated with unmixed 
dislike. There is nothing, either of honour or profit, to 
be gained ; and the process, from the nature of the 
country, and the remoteness of its vital parts from the 
stations of our troops, must always be tedious and expen- 
sive. The seat and strength of the government is fixed 
almost at the upper extremity of the long valley of the 
Irrawaddy. The capital is six or seven hundred miles 
from the sea. The lower part of the valley is a pestilen- 
tial swamp during a considerable portion of the year. 
Though the shorter route to the capital, over the Arracan 
mountains, would unquestionably be taken by our main 
army, the expense of transporting a considerable body of 
troops, with an adequate supply, not only of military 
appurtenances, but of provisions (for the Burmese proved, 
to our cost, in the last war, that they could effectually 
sweep the country of all resources), throu^-h such wilder- 
nesses, and by such mere footpaths, would necessarily be 
great. These were the circumstances which, joined with 
much ignorance and carelessness, rendered the last war 
so tedious and costly." 

(1) Edinburgh Review, vol. Ixxi. p. 356. 




In fcap. 8vo, price One Shillinpt each, boards. 
Charms ANB Countkr-Charms. | Grace and Isabel. 

In fenp. 8vo, price Eighteenpence each, boards, or in cloth, 2*. 
Lowly AND THE Lofty (The). | Violet; or, Found at Last. 

" Miss M'Intosh's style reminds the reader forcibly of Miss Edgeworth and Mrs. 
Opie; all her books inculcate high moral principles, and exalt what is honourable 
in purpose and deep in affection." i 


In fcap. 8vo, price Eighteenpence each, or in cloth, 2s. 

Three Tasks, Shane Fadh's 

Wedding, &c. (The). 
Phil Hircell, The Geography 

OK AN Irish Oath, &c. 
Fardarouqha the Miser. 

Phelim O' I'oole's Courtship, &c. 
Poor Scholar, Wildgoose Looob, 

<&c. (Thei. 
Tithe Proctor (The). 
Emigrants (The). 

" Unless another master-hand like Carleton's should appear, it is to his pages, 
and his alone, that future (generations must look for the truest and fullest picture 
of the Irish peasantry, who will ere long have passed away from the troubled 
land ind the records of history." — Edinburgh Review. 


In fcap. 8vo, price One Shilling each, boards, or in cloth, 1.?. 6d. 

Hyperion. | Song of Hiaavatha (The). 

Evangeline, Voices of the Night, &c., &c. 


In fcap. 8vo, price Two S illings each, boards, or in cloth, gilt, 2s. 6d. 
Sir Roland Ashton. | The First Likutknant's Story. 


In fcap. 8vo, price Two Shillings each, boards, or in cloth, gilt, 2s, 6d, 
Thrkb Musketeers (The). I Twenty Years After. 

Marguerite db Valois. | Count de Braggelonb (The). 2 vols 


In fcap. 8vo, price Eighteenpence each, boards, or in cloth, 2s. 
My Brother's WiFB. | Ladder of Life (The), 


In fcap. 8vo, price One Shilling each, boards, or in cloth, 1*. 6d. 
Little Wife (The;. j Young Pkiaia Donna (The). 


In fcap. 8vo, price Eighteenpence each, boards, or in cloth, 2s. 
The Stories OF Waterloo. | Wild Sports and adventures. 

In fcap. 8vo, price Two Shillings each, boards, or in cloth, gilt, ^s. Cd. 
LrcK IS Rverythino. I Hector O'Halloran. 

Bivouac (The . | Captain H lake; or. My Life. 

^^ /V^/^'^ RAILWAY AND HOME READING. A^^^ ^^ ^^ 


In fcap. 8vo, price One Shillini^ and Sixpence each, boards, or in cloth, 2*. 
Wild Sports ok tub Far West (The). | Pirates op the Missrssrppi (The). 
Price Two Shillings, l)oards. Price One Shilling, boards, 

Two Convicts (The). f Hauntkd House (The). 

"Gerstaeckcr's htioks abound in adventure and scenes of excitement; and are 
fully equal, in that respect, toj he stp ries either ofMarryat, Cooper, or Dana." 


In fcap. 8vo, price Eighteenpence boards, or in cloth, 2t., 
ZiifORA THB GYPsy. I Adrien (a sequel to Zi.vgra ths Gypsv). 

And price One Shilling, boards, 
, ,The Compulsory Marriage. 


And 1 



In fcap. 8vo, price Eighteenpence each, boards, or in cloth, 2^. 


Hills of the Siiatemuc (The). 

Price Two Shillings, boards. Price One Shilling, boards, 

QuHscHY. M \^. J My Brother's Keeper. L 


In fcap. 8vo, price One Shilling, boards, or in cloth, Is. Od. 
Uncle Tom's Cabin. | The May Flower. 

And price Eighteenpence, or in cloth, 2s. 
/ r Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands, c / "/ 

AIiFREl) CRO-WQUILIi'S "WORKS. hti^T^i' ^' 

In fcap. 8vo, price One Shilling, boards, or in cloth, \s. &i. I '7 / 

A Bundle of Crowquills. | Fun, with Illustrations. 


In fcap. 8vo, price One Shilling, boards, or in cloth, 1*. 6d. 
Representative Men. | English Traits. 


In fcap. 8vo, price One Shilling each, boards, or in cloth, l.». Grf. 
Oliver Goldsmith. Salmagundi. 

Life of Mahomet (The). Knickerbocker's New York. 

Lives OF Ma hojikt's Successors (The). Woolfkrt's Roost. 


In fcap, Gvo, price One Shilling each, boaids, or in cloth, 1*. G(f. 
Ruth Hall. I Rose Clark. 





This book is due on the last date stamped below, or 

on the date to which renewed. 

Renewed books are subjea to immediate recall. 

p2 N0ViJibD^o6 

< — " 



ftEC.ClR.JUNl 9*80 



1982 - B 

^KC u'68-ilAM 






F EB f) 1970 


DEC 101380 




D^^-' ■