Skip to main content

Full text of "The modern traveller"

See other formats


















Printed by W. CLOWES, 















PEGU 161 




AVA 205 


ASSAM 245 









BANKOK '. 275 









TURON 339 


HUE 362 


MAP of IffDo-CniNA to face the Title. 







[An empire lying between the parallels of 8 and 27 N-, and be- 
tween long. 91 30 and 102 E. ; bounded, on the N., by the 
Brahmapootra and Tibet; on the E. by China, Laos, Siam, 
and the Gulf of Siam ; on the S. by the Gulf of Martaban and 
Malacca ; on the W. by the Bay oi Bengal and British India.*] 

WE have at present no geographical name, in general 
use, for the vast region of Asia which lies between 
British India and the Chinese territory, comprehend, 
ing the Birman empire, the kingdoms of Siam and 
Anam (or Cochin China), and the peninsula of Ma- 
lacca. The appellation of Ultra Gangetic India is far 
from being appropriate, since the Ganges forms no 
part of its western boundary. It has sometimes been 
denominated the Ultra Gangetic Peninsula, in con- 
tradistinction from what is improperly called the 
Peninsula of India ; but, although it terminates In 
a sort of double peninsula, it will be seen, from a 

* These were the boundaries of Birmah at the commencement 
of the present war; and we have therefore deemed it proper to 
adhere to them, although it appears probable that the empire will 
in future be circumscribed on every side within much narrower 

"AR.T.J. B 

2 B1RMAH. 

glance at the map, that the Malay country, the Golden 
Chersonesus of the ancients, is alone entitled to the 
appellation improperly extended to this immense por- 
tion of the Asiatic continent. An objection lies 
against all compound words ; yet, as the adjective 
Indo-Chinese has already come into extensive use,* 
the most unexceptionable generic appellation would 
seem to be INDO- CHINA, understanding by that 
term the country lying between the Indian and the 
Chinese. seas. } The whole of the western part, having 
recently been comprised in the Binnan empire, may 
conveniently be designated by that of Birmah. 

This vast region has till of late been scarcely known 
to Europeans, except along its shores ; and the inte- 
rior is still for the most part a terra incognita. The 
whole, however, appears to be formed by four or five 
ranges of mountains, proceeding from Tibet, which, 
running southward in parallel directions, divide it 
longitudinally into the magnificent valleys watered by 
four great rivers : the Irrawaddy, or river of Ava ; 
the Thaluayn, or Martaban river; the Mei-nam, or 
river of Siam ; and the Mei-kong, or Cambodia river. 
Besides these, there are several considerable streams 
of shorter course, and valleys of a subordinate rank, 

* Dr. Leyden has sanctioned this word in his Dissertations on 
the Language and Literature of the Indo-Chinese nations ; and a 
small periodical publication commenced at Malacca in 1817* bears 
the title of " The Indo-Chinese Gleaner." 

t M. Malte Brun was disposed at one time to adopt this word ; 
but in the edition of his Geography now in progress, he proposes 
to substitute for it the uncouth compound Chin-India; assigning 
as his reason, that the country is not an Indo China a China 
resembling India, but rather a Chinese India an India with Chi- 
nese features. This distinction is far from being accurate if ap- 
plied to the eastern part of the country, which is altogether of a 
Chinese character ; and we regret that he has not adhered to what 
we deem in every f espect the preferable appellation. , 


which will claim description, but do not form distin- 
guishing features of the country. Of the five chains 
which are believed to exist, that which separates the 
Birman empire from Bengal and the plains of Chitta- 
gong, becomes gradually ower in the kingdom of 
Arracan, and is lost in small hills before it reaches 
Cape Negrais. It is known to the Birmans under 
the name of Anou-pec-tou-miou, or the great western 
hilly country. Its distance from the coast varies from 
ten to a hundred miles. Of that which separates the 
valley of Ava from the basin of the Thaluayn, little 
is known. The principal range, surpassing all the 
others in height as well as length, appears to be that 
which separates Ava and Pegu from the great valley 
of the Mei-nam, and stretching along the whole penin- 
sula of Malacca, terminates in Cape Romania, the 
southernmost point of Asia. The valley of Siam is se- 
parated from the river of Cambodia by a fourth range, 
which is said to unite with the mountains of China in 
lat. 22, and almost reaches the sea near the river of 
Chantibond.* From Cape Liant, the coast takes a 
S.E. direction to Cambodia Point, which is formed 
of low land. The fifth and last chain, one of the 
most considerable in Asia, proceeds from Yun-nan in 
China, and taking a south-easterly direction, forms 
the western boundary of Tonking and Cochin China. 
The first of these rivers, the Irrawaddy (Erawady, 
Era Wuddey, A-rah-wah-tee),-|- divides the territory 

* " Chantibond is a mountainous country, forming the eastern 
boundary of the kingdom of Siam, dividing it from Cambodia, and 
situated at the head of the Gulf of Siam. The passage thence to 
Cambodia is of short distance, a ridge of mountains dividing the 
two countries." FINLAYSON'S Siam, p. 255. 

t Malte Brun supposes the Irrawaddy to be the Ken-poo of 
Thibet ; the Tsan-poo, which D'Anville considered as identical 
with the river of Ava, being the Brahmapootra. It is believed to 


of t?*. HJncans into two unequal parts. To the east- 
ward, the) possess a tract of ten days' journey, about 
150 miles, to the banks of the Thaluayn,* which 
forms the proper boundary towards Siam. Very little 
of the tract of country between these two mighty 
rivers is either cultivated or inhabited. A ridge of 
high mountains divides them, and the country is for 
the most part barren and jungly. The Irrawaddy is 
to Ava, what the Ganges is to Bengal, the high road 
of population and commerce; and both the ancient 

be the Nan-kiang, or Great Fish river of the Chinese. The name 
of the river is Hindoo, being, in fact, that of Indra's elephant 
(written by Mr. Ward oira-vtlta). M. Langles, in his erudite work, 
Monumens des Indes, speaking of Indra and his elephant, says, 
that Iravatti means aqueous. Whether the river be named from 
the elephant, or the elephant takes its name from the watery ele- 
ment, appears, therefore, doubtful. There is a Hindoo tradition 
respecting a fabled lake called Anaudat, on the eastern bank of 
which, it is said, is the image of a lion's head, on the southern that 
of an elephant's, on the western that of a horse's, and on the north- 
ern that of a cow's ; and from these four heads are poured forth 
four rivers. The meaning of the fable is supposed to be, that the 
banks of these four rivers, the sources of which were unknown, 
abounded respectively with lions, elephants, horses, and cows 
See Asiat. Res., vol. vi. p. 233. Every one knows, that the Ganges 
is represented as flowing from the cow's mouth, the name given to 
a large stone in the bed of the river at Gangoutri. It is possible, 
that a similar legend may connect the Irrawaddy with the mouth 
of the elephant. However this may be, the cow is not held more 
sacred in Hindostan, than the elephant is in Birmah. 

* This river, of which scarcely any thing appears to be known, 
is supposed to be the Lu-kiang-of Yun-nan. It is the Pegu river 
of Buchanan, the Caypumo of older travellers ; it is sometimes 
distinguished as the Martaban river ; but its true name appears to 
be Thaluayn or Ta-lain, sometimes written Sanluayn, Sa-lwen, 
Thaulayn. It has been confounded with the Sitang, Sittong, or 
Zeet-taung river, which is, we suspect, the one to which the name 
of Pegu (or Bagoo) was first applied by the Portuguese. By some 
geographers, the Thaluayn is represented as falling into the Sitang ; 
and it is not improbable, that there may be at least some commu- 
nication between them. " 

BlilMAH. 5 

and the modern capitals are seated on its banks. It 
is navigable by the native boats as high as Quantong, 
on the frontiers of Yun-nan ; and it presents one of 
the readiest means of opening a commercial inter- 
course with the south-west dominions of China. West- 
ward of the Irrawaddy, and along the right bank of 
its western branch, the Kiayn-duem, as high as lat. 24, 
the Birmans possessed, prior to the conquest of Arracan, 
a tract varying in breadth from ten to thirty miles, 
and^ confined by a ridge of mountains inhabited by 
a barbarous race called Kains, or Kiayns, who are for 
the most part independent of the Birmans. Further 
northward, the country is said to be mountainous or 
desert ; so that, with the exception of the fertile plains 
of Manchewban, or Monchaboo, lying between the 
Kiayn-duem and the eastern or principal branch of 
the Irrawaddy, and extending from lat. 22 to 24, 
(which district is said to be the granary of Ava,) 
there does not appear to be any part of their own 
extensive territory northward of Prome, from which 
the Birmans derive much advantage, except within 
an average distance of fifteen miles from either bank 
of the river. Below Prome, the frontier of Pegu, the 
country is in general more level and susceptible of 
cultivation, and, on the banks of the river, is as rich 
a soil as any in the world. That of the upper pro- 
vinces is said to be a sandy loam on a bed of free- 
stone or ferruginous rock : in the lower provinces, 
there is a larger proportion of argillaceous earth and 
vegetable matter.* To the south-east of Prome lies the 
ancient kingdom of Tonghoo, or Taungu, said to be fer- 

These particulars are derived chiefly from a tract drawn up by 
Col. Francklin See Asiatic Journal, vol. xx. p. 4. 


tile, but thinly inhabited.* To the south and west of 
Tonghoo, the country in general to the sea, including 
the delta of the Irrawaddy and the low lands watered 
by the Martaban river, in fact, the whole of what 
may be termed Pegu Proper, has received from the 
Birmans the name of Henzawuddy.-j- 

The periodical inundation of the valleys and mari- 
time plains by the rising of the rivers, is a circum- 
stance common to all this region, although they observe 
different periods, which indicates that their sources 
must be at unequal distances. The Mei-nam, or Siam 
river, has the highest and most regular inundations, 
on which account, it has been supposed to have its 
sources in the most distant mountains of central 
Tibet.J The more probable explanation is, that it 

* Beyond Tonghoo, CoL Francklin says, to the eastward and 
southward, is the ancient kingdom of Sittong, now dependent on 
Henzawuddy. This we apprehend to be the very nucleus of Pegu. 

t Henza is the Birman name of a species of wild fowl called in 
India the Brahminy goose, which is said to be the standard of the 
Blnuans, as the eagle was of the Romans. 

$ This river is supposed by Malte Brun (we incline to think, 
erroneously) to be the Nu-kiang. It is the Yuthia of our older 
maps. Yuthia or Yoodra is the name of the ancient Siamese 
capital, mote properly See-y-thaa. Vincent Leblanc, of Marseilles, 
who travelled in the seventeenth century, describes " the fair and 
large river Mecan," on which the town of Siam stands, as springing 
from a famous lake, 200 miles about, called the lake of Chiamay, 
whence, he says, " many great and famous rivers arise, as Ava, 
Caypumo, Menan, Cosmin, and others. They overflow like the 
Nilus. This lake is bounded eastward by vast forests and impass- 
able marshes and fens." He has mistaken the name of the Siam 
river, the Mei-nam, and given it that of the Cambodia river, the 
Mei-kong. Although this Traveller has hitherto been regarded as 
a very doubtful authority, it is remarkable that several accounts 
agree in stating that these two rivers communicate by a navigable 
branch called the Anan-myeet; and it is by no means improbable, 
therefore, that in the rainy season, the intervening country should 


receives a larger body of water from its numerous 
tributary streams. . . It is highly remarkable, that this 
inundation, like that occasioned by the expansion of 
the Paraguay, is greatest in the centre of the king- 
dom, and much less in the neighbourhood of the sea ; 
a fact which strongly favours the idea of its commu- 
nicating at the rainy seastfn with other waters. The 
kingdom of Siam may be considered as a wide valley, 
the central basin of this vast region, terminating in a 
broad and deep gulf ; and there are many reasons for 
thinking that the basin of the Mei-nam is, of all the 
valleys, the least elevated above the sea level. The 
whole southern part, called by the Birmans Dwara- 
wuddy, appears to be intersected by streams, and 
the soil is adapted to the cultivation of rice. The 
northern part is little known. It has been supposed 
to be separated from Laos by mountains, but of this we 
have no clear evidence ; and we are strongly inclined 
to believe, that that unknown country includes, to- 
gether with immense forests, a low and swampy 
tract, extending from the Mei-nam to the Mei-kong, 
and partially inundated by the waters of both rivers. 
The vague and apparently jarring accounts of different 
travellers, may, on this hypothesis, be partly recon- 
ciled. One of these tells us,* that in Laos, there is 

be inundated, and become an immense lake, like those of Xarays 
and Ybyra, formed by the expansion of the Parana, the Uruguay, 
and Paraguay. (See MOD. TRAV., Brazil, vol. L p. 85.) From the 
lake of Ybyra three mighty rivers might be said to issue, although 
their sources are far distant ; and it may, perhaps, be found, that 
that of Chiamay communicates, not only with the Mei-nam and the 
Mei-kong, but even with the Thaluayn, which is what is meant by 
the Caypumo river. In confirmation of this opinion, it may be 
added, that Koempfer represents the Mei-nam as sending branches 
through the kingdoms of Cambodia and Pegu. 
* M. de la Bissachere. 


110 sort of river, yet, that rice is the only produce ; 
and its rice is represented by other travellers * as the 
best of all these countries : leguminous crops are also 
cultivated in great quantities. And Lac-tho (or 
Lac-tchoo), which, according to M. la Bissachere, 
lies to the north of Laos, but which M. Malte Brun 
supposes to be the same country, is also described to 
be without rivers, yet having a moist soil, abounding 
in bamboos, and laid out in rice fields, but containing 
no towns. If it has no river, it must have lakes and 
canals ; probably a series of lakes ; and accordingly, a 
Portuguese traveller went from China to Laos by 
descending a river and crossing a lake.-j- Again, the 
received opinion is, that Laos is watered by the upper 
part of the river of Cambodia, which one old traveller 
represents as issuing from an immense lake, and an- 
other makes it to be a branch of the Mei-nam. : If 
these two rivers communicate any where by a navi- 
gable branch, as appears certain^ it is not improbable 
that, higher up, they may unite their waters in some 
" periodical Caspian." The country to the north-east 
of Siam is stated to consist of vast forests and 
impassable marshes and fens. Here, probably, are 
the forests of Laos, which are said to abound with 
elephants in so great numbers, that the country 
derives its name from that circumstance. Many buf- 
faloes are also reared there. The Siamese were once 
in the habit of repairing to Laos in caravans of waggons 
drawn by buffaloes, making a journey of two months. 
Such journeys could not have been made across high 

Marini and Wusthof, as cited by Malte Brun. 

t Jarric. See Malte Brun, vol. iii. p. 364, from whom we have 
gathered most of these facts, though we have not adopted his 

$ See note at page 6. f Malte Brun, vol. iii. p 365. 


mountains. Taking all these circumstances into con- 
sideration, we infer that, to the south of Yun-nan, there 
Js an immense tract of low level country, abounding 
with lakes, swamps, and morasses,* like the Hou- 
quang, or lake-country of China, or that of the Sete La- 
ffoas (Seven Lakes) of Paraguay ; that here the waters 
of the Siam and Cambodia rivers, at certain seasons at 
least, unite, though one or both of these streams may 
have a more distant source ; -j- while, to the east of 
the kingdom of Siam, a range of mountains, apparently 
bending to the S.W., intervenes between the vast 
plains of Dwarawaddy and the rocky channel of the 
Mei-kong. Further information, however, can alone 
verify these conjectures. J 

Indo-China, then, consists of three grand divisions, 
Birmah, Siam, and Annam, besides the peninsula of 
Malacca, and the various independent principalities of 

* Districts lying near the base of great ranges of mountains, 
Mr. Marsden remarks, especially within the tropical latitudes, are 
always found to be unhealthy. The Yun-nan mountains are of 
great height, " while the great Nu-kiang, said to be navigable be- 
tween that province and Ava, must flow chiefly through a plain 
and comparatively low country." MARSDEN'S Marco Polo, 
note 858. 

t Marini places the sources of the Mei-kong in the Chinese pro- 
vince of Yun-nan. The Dutch envoy, Wusthof, ascended it in a 
boat to the north of Cambodia, and met with great cataracts. 
This renders it probable that its banks are rocky, and that it de- 
scends from a higher level than the Mei-nam. 

t The strange perplexity in which we have found ourselves in- 
volved in attempting to clear up this point, is in great measure 
occasioned by the almost ad libitum application of the word Laos 
to different regions. " Laou or Laos," Sir Stamford Raffles says, 
" is the country north of Siam Proper." (FINLAYSON'S Siam, 
p. 223, note. If so, it includes Siammay and Yunshan. Yet, 
Malte Brun (on the alleged authority of Wusthof) brings it down 
almost as far south as Tsiompa, between Cambodia and Cochin 

B 2 


the mountain frontiers. The Malays form a distinct 
race, who are supposed to have proceeded originally 
from the Indian archipelago, and their language is a 
mixture of Coptic, Sanscrit, and Arabic. All the 
other Indo-Chinese nations resemble more or less the 
Mongolian and Chinese races in their figure, square 
countenance, yellow complexion, strong hair, and 
oblique eyes ; and are evidently of the same original 
stock. Their languages, too, exhibit the same cha- 
racteristic simplicity, poverty, and deficiency with the 
monosyllabic languages of Tibet and China. The 
three-fold division of the country corresponds to the 
three distinct languages which are found prevailing : 
the Birman, which is spoken in Ava and Arracan ; 
the Siamese, which extends over Laos ; and the 
Annamese, which is used in Tonking, Cochin China, 
and Cambodia. Pegu, however, is said to have an 
original dialect called the Mon, of which too little is 
known to determine its relation to either of the three 
classes. These languages are more or less mixed with 
Chinese and Hindoostanee, according as the nations 
are situated near India or China. The sacred lan- 
guage of Birmah is the Pali, which is believed to be 
the same that is vernacular in Magadha or Southern 
Bahar. The Birman dialect has also borrowed the 
Sanscrit alphabet ; the character in common use, 
however, is a round Nagari, consisting of curves fol- 
lowing the analogies of the square Pali, and written 
from left to right like the languages of Europe. 
Their legal code is one of the commentaries on the 
Institutes of Menu.* In these and other respects, 

* It is a singular fact, that the first version of Sir William Jones's 
translation of the Institutes of Hindoo law, was made into the 


the Birmans discover their affinity to the Hindoo 
family, while the Siamese, the Annamese, and the 
Peguans bear a more strongly-marked resemblance to 
the Chinese.* 

The political divisions of the Indo-Chinese countries 
have undergone the perpetual changes consequent on 
ill-defined boundaries, and the constant struggles of 
the various rival states to obtain the supremacy. The 
most powerful monarchy at one time, as it is probably 
the most ancient, was that of Siam, which extended 
from the Gulf of Martaban to Cambodia, and south- 
ward to Malacca.f Afterwards, Pegu appears to have 
been the most flourishing state. Its tyrant is stated to 
have demolished the capital of Siam, made himself 
master of the white elephant, and sacked the town of 
Martaban. Between Siam and Pegu, there seems to 
have been carried on a constant struggle for supremacy 
from time immemorial. At one time, Pegu is said to 
have been conquered by a king of Tonghoo; but the 
white elephant, the Buddhic Apis was wrested from 
Pegu by a king of Arracan.J When the Portuguese, 

Birman language by an Armenian, for the use of the Birman 
emperor, in 1795. 

* The Indo-Chinese languages are reckoned to be fourteen in 
number. Seven of these are polysyllabic, viz. 1. Malayu; 2. 
Jawa; 3. Bugis; 4. Bima; 5. Batta; 6. Ta-gola; 7. Pali, the 
learned language. The other seven are monosyllabic, viz. 1. Rak- 
heng (Arracanese); 2. Barma (Birman); 3. Mon (Peguan); 4. 
Thay (Siamese); 5. Khohmin (Cambodian); 6. Law(Laos); 7. 

t "The king of Siam," says Tavernier, " is one of the richest 
monarchs in the East, and styles himself king of heaven and earth, 
though he be tributary to the kings of China." Travels, part ii. 
b. Hi. c. 18. Tavernier travelled in 166070. 

| The Lord of the White Elephant is the distinctive title of the 
rightful possessor of an incarnate symbol of Buddha, who is thereby 
exalted above his equals ; it therefore is not an empty sound, but 
confers an actual supremacy. In like manner, the kings of Egypt 


early in the sixteenth century, had succeeded in mak- 
ing themselves masters of Malacca, they found the 
regions between the Indian Sea and Anam divided 
among the four powerful states which have since been 
familiarly known under the names of Arracan, Ava, 
Pegu, and Siam.* Their historians tell us, that the 
Birmans, though previously subject to the king of 
Pegu, had recently become masters of Ava ; and these 
Birmans the Portuguese assisted in their subsequent 
wars against the Peguans. Ava is, properly speaking, 
the name only of a town, and does not appear to have 
been ever recognised by the natives as the name of 
their country. Besides which, as the name is gene- 
rally applied, it seems difficult to understand how 

looked upon Apis as a symbol of Osiris. This envied distinction 
has for ages been as much an object of ambition in the Buddhic 
states, as universal empire has been among the nations of Christen- 
dom. The sovereign of Tonghoo once possessed the title with all 
its prerogatives ; it was wrested from him by the king of Siam ; 
from whom, after torrents of blood had been shed, it passed to the 
Talien monarchy. " You hear for what reasons," says Leblanc, 
" the king of Pegu waged war with Siam, that bred so much ruin 
and desolation for a white elephant only ; a fatal and unhappy 
beast that hath cost the lives of five kings, as it happened to the 
last king of Pegu, who had it lately taken from him by the king of 
Arracan." This old Traveller was not aware, apparently, of the 
sacred and symbolical character of the fatal beast. Atiat. Journal, 
vol. xix. p. 652. See also PICART'S Histoire des Religions et 
Maun des Peuples, 

* Assam, however, was, at this time, a powerful and independent 
monarchy. " The chiefest of the idolatrous kings of Asia," says 
Tavernier, " are the king of Arracan, the king of Pegu, the king 
of Siam, the king of Cochin China, and the king of Tonquin." 
p. 163. But he afterwards devotes a chapter to the kingdom of 
Asem, which he describes as one of the best countries of all Asia ; 
and he describes the gold and silver money of the kings of Asem, 
Tipoura, Arakan, and Pegu. In one place he seems to make 
Asem border on Pegu, and he clearly includes Ava in the latter 
kingdom. pp. 187, 8. 


the Portuguese could enter into alliance with the 
inhabitants of a country so far inland, to whom they 
could gain access only through Arracan or Pegu. 
But, in point of fact, the names of Ava and Pegu 
appear to have been originally applied by the Portu- 
guese to two rivers;* one, the Irrawaddy, and the 
other we suspect to be the Sitang or Zeet-taung, the 
river of Tonghoo or Taung-oo, although the Bagoo 
Mioup or Pegu river is a name applied to a smaller 
stream, navigable only with the tide, and communi- 
cating with the Rangoon or Syriam branch of the 
Irrawaddy. The proper name of the Peguans, that 
by which they are known to the Birmans, is Taliens 
or Ta-lain, which seems to be the same appellation as 
we find given to the Caypumo or great Martaban 
river. Their original country would seem to be that 
which lies to the west of that river, and which is 
traversed by the Zeet-taung. Martaban appears to 
have been anciently a dependency of Pegu. It is not 
improbable, indeed, that the Talain might occupy 
both banks of the river, and extend themselves south- 
ward towards Malacca. The isthmus seems to have 
been a scene of perpetual contention between the 
Siamese, the Taliens, the Birmans, and the Arra- 
canese. To whom it originally belonged, it would 
perhaps be' impossible to ascertain ; but those who 
commanded the mouths of the rivers which fall into 
the head of the Gulf of Martaban, would seem to 
have the best title to the proprietorship of the western 

* Tavernier says : " Siren is the name of the city where the king 
of Pegu resides, and Ava is the port of his kingdom. From Ava 
to Siren you go by -water in great flat -bottomed barks, which is a 
voyage of sixty days." By Siren, Syriam is probably meant ; and 
if so, the Traveller has simply mistaken the city for the port, and 
the port for the capital. 


The native name of the country, improperly called 
Ava, Dr. Buchanan says, is My-am-ma. The Chinese 
know it under the name of Mien-tien, or Zo-mien. 
The earliest notice we have of the country, occurs in 
the Travels of Marco Polo, who gives an account of 
a memorable battle that was fought in the year 1272, 
in the province of Vochang or Yunshang, between 
the great khan and the king of Mien and Bangala in 
India. " The losses in this battle, which lasted from 
the morning till noon, were severely felt on both sides ; 
but the Tartars were finally victorious; a result that 
was materially attributed to the troops of the king 
of Mien and Bangala not wearing armour as the 
Tartars did, and to their elephants, especially those of 
the foremost line, being equally without that kind of 
defence, which, by enabling them to sustain the first 
discharges of the enemy's arrows, would have allowed 
them to break his ranks, and throw him into disorder. 
From this period, the great khan has always chosen to 
employ elephants in his armies, which before that time 
he had not done. The consequences of this victory 
were, that his majesty acquired possession of the whole 
of the territories of the king of Bangala and Mien, and 
annexed them to his dominions."* By some writers, 
this title has been understood to imply two confederate 
sovereigns; but the context shews that only one per- 
sonage is intended, whom we may assume to be the 
sovereign of Ava and Arracan. This passage is im- 

* Travels of Marco Polo, by Marsden, 4to. p. 444. D'Anville 
and others have supposed Mien to be Pegu, which mistake the 
learned Editor of Marco Polo supposes to have arisen from the 
Peguans having conquered Ava or the Birmah country, from 
which, however, they were subsequently driven. Since the year 
1757, he adds, Pegu has been a province dependent on the kingdom 
of Ava. The fact is, that Pegu has been loosely applied to the 
whole country. 


portant, as it proves a close connexion, either by origin 
or conquest, between the people of the two countries. 
The lord of Arracan long assumed the title of sovereign 
of Bengal ; and it appears that whichever of the rival 
monarchs of the Buddhic world laid claim to the supre- 
macy, assumed the prerogative of including among his 
titular dominions all the other states.* 

The word Myamma is evidently the same as Mien, 
but conformed to the Birman pronunciation.^ It is not 
so easy to decide on the etvmology of the latter word. 

* The following passage from Vincent Leblanc's Travels (1660) 
throws no small light on the facts referred to : " Verma (Bir- 
mah) hath formerly belonged unto the kingdom of Bengalee : the 
people are very civil and given to trade. Catigan (Chittagong) 
belongs to the kingdom of Bengale, which reaches over 400 leagues 
of land ; and the lordship of Aracan, a kingdom between Bengale 
and Pegu, stronger by sea than by land, and wages often war 
with Pegu, and some years since, they say, hath swallowed up 
Pegu, but ruined my neighbours, and therefore the king is called 
king of Aracan, Tiparet (Tipperah) Chacomas (Cachar?) Bengale, 
and Pegu-" Asiat. Journal, vol. xix. p. 650. 

t The pronunciation of the Birmans is, to a stranger, almost inar- 
ticulate : they hdrdly ever pronounce the letter r ; and t, d, th, s, 
and z, are almost used indiscriminately. The same may be said of 
p and b. Thus, the word for water, which the Birmans universally 
pronounce yoe, Is written rae. This indistinct pronunciation pro- 
bably arises from the excessive quantity of betel which they chew. 
No man of rank ever speaks without his mouth being as full as 
possible of a mixture of betel-nut, tobacco, quick-lime, and spices. 
In this state, he is nearly deprived of the use of his tongue, and 
hence an indistinct articulation has become fashionable, even when 
the tongue is at liberty. A striking singularity in the language is, 
that every syllable is liquid in its termination, each letter having 
its peculiar vowel or nasal mark subjoined, and in no instance 
coalescing with a following letter. Were a native of Birmah or of 
Arracan, acquainted with the Roman letters, but not with the rules 
of English pronunciation, to read the words, book, boot, bull, he 
would, agreeably to the powers he is taught to affix to the charac- 
ters of his own language, pronounce them respectively bu, or buca, 
buta, bula; the organs of articulation being inadequate to give ut- 


In Dalrymple's Oriental Repository, the Birmans 
are called Boragrhmans. In the Birman alphabet, 
published at Rome in 1776, the name is written 
Bomans.* The first question to be determined is, 
whether the appellative is derived from the name 
of a country, or is merely an honourable designa- 
tion denoting a warlike class. Some have sup- 
posed that Birmah or Birman is the same as Myamma 
or Biamma the proper name of Ava. On the other 
hand some old travellers mention a city and country 
to the east of Ava, under the name of Banna, Brema, 
or Brama, which they describe as a separate kingdom 
from Ava, and whose king sometimes carried on wars 
against the king of Ava/f* While again, Leblanc dis- 

terance to the final consonants according to the abrupt mode by 
which we are accustomed to terminate these words. " A native 
of Arracan," says Dr, Hamilton, "of natural strong parts and 
acute apprehension, with whom more than common pains 
have been taken for some months past, to correct this defect, 
can scarcely now, with the most determined caution, articu- 
late a word or syllable in Hindustani that has a consonant for a 
final, which frequently occasions very unpleasant and some ridicu- 
lous equivocations ; and such is the force of habit, even in making 
the most simple and easy thing difficult, that, obvious as the first 
elementary sound appears to our comprehension, in an attempt that 
was made to teach him the Nagari character, of which it is the 
inherent vowel, a number of days elapsed before he could be 
brought to pronounce it, or even to form any idea of it, and then 
but a very imperfect one." Asiat. Res., vol. v. p. 148. Nor is 
this peculiarity confined to the Birmans. The Chinese is formed 
on the same principle, as well as some of the African dialects, 
and, possibly, those of Tibet. 

* Malte Brun. vol. iii. p. 340. 

t " Southward, Pegu confines upon Martaban and Siam ; east- 
ward, upon Brama, Camboya, and Cochin China; northward, 
upon Ava, Tazaty, and Arracan; westward, upon the gulf 
of Bengal. The kingdom of Pegu is cut through in many places 
by that great river, called by the High Indians Amoucherat, and 
by the natives, the river of Peni or Caypumo, or Martaban, that 


tinctly mentions a kingdom of Verma or Berma, 
adjoining to Chittagong, and consequently to the west 
of Ava, and which, he says, formerly belonged to 
Bengal. Without laying too much stress on either 
the veracity or accuracy of this Traveller, it seems to 
us reasonable to believe that there was a country 
known under that name. His description of its 
position would lead us to conclude, that this could 
be no other than that part of Birmah westward of 
Chittagong and to the north of Arracan, which is 
watered by the Kiayn-duem and its confluents.* On 
the other hand, the national name of the Arracanese 
is said to be Marwnma, supposed to be a corruption of 
Maha-vunna, (the great Vurma)f Vurma being, we 
are told, an appellation peculiar to tribes of Khetri or 

runs by several branches through the level, and fertilizes the soil. 
This river rises at the lake Chiamay, passes through Brema or 
Brama, washing in with her waves refined gold. It runs through 
the kingdom of Prom, where are the famous towns of Milintay, 
Calamba, and Amirandou ; those territories join Ava; then to 
Boldia, called by the Higher Indians Siami ; then to Berma or 
Verma, whereof the capital is Carpa, and butts upon Tazatay, and 
the kingdoms of Pandior (Pandua or Assam), and Muantay (Cassay 
or Meckley). The king of Pegu subjected the kingdom of Berma 
two years after he conquered Siam." LEBLANC'S Travels, cited 
in Atiat. Journal, vol. xix. p. 652. In this account, the Irrawaddy 
and the Caypumo are confounded or mistaken for branches of the 
same river ; but in other respects it is accurate, and the countries 
of Brema and Verma are clearly distinguished. 

" Bengal is bounded eastward by the province of Edaspa 
(Tiperah?) that joins to the kingdom of Aracan ; one of its limits 
southward is Castigan or Catigan (Chatigam or Chittagong) at the 
third mouth of the Ganges, over against the kingdom of Verma or 
Berma, where are the mines of chrysolites, sardonyx, and to- 
pazes." Atiat. Journal, vol. xix. p. 650. "There are mines of 
gold, silver, rubies, and sapphires, now open in a mountain called 
Wooboolootan, near the river Ken-duem." SrMES, vol. iii. p, 374. 

f Hamilton's Gazetteer, art. Arracan. 


Cshatriya extraction, that is, of the warrior caste. 
In Bengal, the Arracanese are known under the name 
of Mughs or Maugas, that is, subjects of the Great 
Mogo, a title of high ecclesiastical dignity assumed 
by their rajahs. The Birmans, according to Colonel 
Francklin, derive their origin and name from Brum- 
wha, who is evidently the same as Maha-vurma; and by 
other authorities it is stated, that they profess to have 
come originally from Arracan. If the Mogo and the 
Maha-vurma be not the same personage, we should 
still incline to believe that the Marumma, Vermas, or 
Birmans, and the natives of Arracan, belong to the 
same race. The proper country of the Mughs is 
the Mogo Calinya, extending along the coast from 
the eastern branch of the Ganges to Cape Negrais, 
whence they appear to have spread into Cassay, called 
in Sanscrit the country of the Muggaloo, which has 
been corrupted into Meckley, having for its capital the 
flourishing city of Munnipore.* Both the Arracanese 

* Malte Brun, vol. iii. p. 345. " The inhabitants call themselves 
Moytai." This is doubtless the Moantay of Vincent Leblanc, 
which he describes as a great kingdom, lying to the north of Cana- 
rene, in which we recognise the country of the Kains or Kiayns. 
Canarene is described as " a fair town, rich and flourishing as any 
in India, the capital of a kingdom of the same name, confining 
eastward on the country of Tazatay, south on Carpa (Verma), and 
northward on Moantay. The town is seated betwixt two great 
rivers, Jiame and Pegu ; it is in circuit about four leagues, magni- 
ficently built. In customs and conditions, the people differ much 
from those of Pegu, for they never go barefoot. The king of Ca- 
narene is potent and wealthy in mines of gold and silver : he hath 
also one of emerald, and some mines of turkesses (turquoises)." 
The Kien-duem, or Kiayn-duom, the great western branch of the 
Irrawaddy, derives its name from the Kiayn tribe, the name signi- 
fying the Fountain of the Kiayns. It arrives in the Birman 
country from the N.W., and separates it from the conquered pro- 
vince of Cassay. The river Jiame is perhaps a mistake for 
Mamma. Casssay is now called by the Birmans Ka-thee. Meckley 


and the Birmans are evidently of Hindoo extraction 
and are only different tribes of the same stock, a 
branch, it is supposed, of the Palli or Palays, whose 
overthrow and dispersion form one of the most re- 
markable events in the history of India. Their sacred 
language, the Pali, their religious faith, the title of 
Mogo, and every other circumstance, connect them 
with the country of Magadha or Southern Bahar. 
The Pali, which is, in fact, a dialect of the Sanscrit, 
is the vernacular dialect of Magadha or Southern 
Bahar. Magadha was the kingdom of the great 
Mago Rajah. Now Gayah, the birth-place of Buddha, 
is in this province, fifty-five miles S. of Patna, and is 
still a place of pilgrimage for his votaries, though 
among the resident inhabitants remarkably few Bud- 
dhists are to be found, the Brahminical being the 
prevailing religion. That the history of the Birmans, 
mythological and civil, is the same as that of the 
v Hindoos, Colonel Francklin says, he has abundant 
proof in various tracts which he has collected, parti- 
cularly the Maha Bogdha-whein, or the great history 
of their duties, and the Maha Rqj-whien, the great 
history of their kings. A remarkable passage is cited 
by Sir William Jones, from the Institutes of Menu, 
respecting the origin of the Chinese and other eastern 
nations. " Many families," it is said, " of the mili- 
tary class (Cshatriya) , having gradually abandoned 
the ordinances of the Veda and the company of Brah- 

forms the northern part. See HAMILTON'S Gazetteer, art. Keen- 
duem. The Chinese call Arracan, Yee-kien, or Yo-kien ; and the 
Kains, Canaranes, and Rak-kaings (the same word as Ya-kaings), 
are evidently the same people. Kiayn-duem, therefore, is literally 
the Arracan river, although it must not be confounded with the 
Mayoon or Myoo river, which flows through Arracan into the Bay 
of Bengal. 


mans, lived in a state of degradation, as the Pahlavas, 
the Chinas" &c. These emigrant tribes are stated 
to have rambled in different bodies to the north-east of 
Bengal, and to have established separate principalities 
in those countries.* It is a striking coincidence, that, 
in the war of the Mahabharat, the tribe of warriors is 
represented as having been annihilated. Vishnu, 
under the form of Ramaswara, is fabled to have 
gained this triumph, on which occasion he founded a 
new order of Brahmans. From this sanguinary revo- 
lution dates the overthrow of Buddhism in India, 
Buddha being thenceforth reduced to a subordinate 
deity in the Hindoo pantheon. In the Mughs, the 
Birmans, and the Panduans of Assam, it seems in the 
highest degree probable, that we have the remains of 
the annihilated Cshatriya class, the widely-dispersed 
Palli of the fallen empires of Pandu and Magadha. 

Thus much, then, appears tolerably certain; that 
the Birmans were originally, as their name indicates, 
a tribe of warriors f of the . Pali nation ; that they 
fixed themselves in the first instance on the banks of 
the Kien-duem, thence extending themselves east- 
ward over the country of Mien to the confines of 
China, and descending the great Irrawaddy, possessed 

* Sir W. Jones's Works, 4to. vol. i. p. 96, &c. 

t In confirmation of this etymology, it may be mentioned, that 
the Birmans are a nation of soldiers, every man in the empire being 
liable to be called on for his military service. It is somewhat sin- 
gular that the word German, which has, in like manner, become 
the geographical designation of a collection of separate states, has 
a similar meaning : in the Teutonic, according to D'Anville, it 
signifies a war-man or warrior. And the emperor of Germany was 
formerly, like the Lord of the White Elephant, the military head 
of a body of crowned feudatories. The Birmanic empire, too, is 
likely to undergo a dismemberment not very dissimilar to that 
which has transformed the circles of Germany into distinct king- 


themselves of the eastern coast as far as Cape Negrais, 
while to the south-east they found powerful rivals in 
the Taliens, who possessed the line of the Irrawaddy, 
south of Prome. By this means they came in contact 
with the Portuguese settlements in Chittagong, and 
with their assistance carried on their wars against the 
Peguans. The main point of contention has always 
been, the sovereignty of this important river, the 
grand channel of commerce and enterprise ; and to 
the foundation of Ragoon, and the total overthrow 
of the rival capital of Pegu, may be traced all the 
greatness of the Birman empire.* The romantic 

* The statements of the Portuguese writers, that the Peguans 
were at one time subject to the Birmans, before Alom-praw raised 
the standard of independence, appear to us deficient in probability ; 
and there is a passage in Leblanc's Travels, which goes some way 
towards both proving and explaining their mistakes. It would 
seem that, not the Birmans, but an individual of the name of 
Bramaa, was the conqueror of Pegu. " Some years before we 
arrived, there was in the country a king of the ancient royal race, 
who had many deputies in the country of Brema towards the lake 
Chiamay ; among the rest, one in the kingdom of Tangu (Tong- 
hoo), that rebelled against him, defeated and slew him, and made 
himself king of Pegu. They called him the Brama of Tangu, a 
great and potent tyrant, who, by force of arms, joined many king- 
doms to his empire, as Prome, Melintay, Calcam, Bacam, Mirandu, 
Ava, Martaban, and others. He was afterwards put to death by a 
Peguan lord, called Xemin or Zatan," (probably the king of Sitang 
is meant,) " who made himself king, but was defeated and slain 
by another, called Xomindoo, who likewise being made king, was 
not long after defeated and put to death by Chaumigren, of near 
alliance to Bramaa, who became one of the most powerful kings 
that hath reigned in Pegu : he brought totally under the empire 
of Siam, with twelve other great kingdoms. The king that reigned 
in Pegu in our time, called Brama, was, as I think, the son of this 
Chaumigren, afterwards hard enough dealt with by the kings of 
Tangu, Aracan, and Syan." (Asiat. Journal, vol. xix. p. 653J 
Here, it will be seen, the king of Birmah or Ava is not men- 
tioned. The Brama of Tangu may have been a Birman, although 


story of the circumstances which led to these events, 
will form the proper 


AT the beginning of the seventeenth century, 
both the English and the Dutch had obtained set- 
tlements in various parts of the Birnian dominions; 
but owing to the misconduct of the latter, all Eu- 
ropeans were subsequently banished from Ava. It 
was many years after this expulsion, that the En- 
glish were reinstated in their factories at Ava and 
Syriam, and they also took possession of the Island of 
Negrais. The superiority of the Birmans over the 
Peguans was maintained until 1740, when a general 
revolt took place, and a civil war ensued, which was 
prosecuted with savage ferocity. In the course of this 
contest, the British factory at Syriam was destroyed, 
and all commerce was, for several years, suspended. 
At length the Peguans, having procured supplies of 
European fire-arms, with the assistance of some 
renegade Dutch and Native Portuguese, gained seve- 
ral victories over the Birmans, during the years 1750 
and 1751; and in the year 1752, the capital of Ava, 
after a short siege, surrendered. Dweepdee, the 
Birman king, was made prisoner, with all his family, 
except two sons, who found means to escape to Siam, 
where they met with a friendly reception. Beinga 
Delia, king of Pegu, returned in triumph with his 
captives to his capital, leaving his brother Apporaza 
to govern the subjugated country, and to exact an 
oath of allegiance from all Birmans that should be 

he is represented as coming from Brama near Siam. But the -word 
seems to be used as denoting a chief, or as a proper name. At all 
events, it was not the Birman king of Ava that acquired the su- 
premacy over the Taliens of Pegu. 


suffered to retain their former possessions. All wore 
the appearance of submission; the inhabitants and 
principal landholders took the prescribed oath, and 
Birmah seemed prostrate at the feet of her successful 
rival; when an obscure individual, indignant at the 
humiliation of his country, effected a complete revo- 
lution, and laid the foundation of the present extended 
empire. Alom-praw, or Luong-praw, a Birman of 
low extraction, known by the humble name of 
Aumdzea, or the huntsman, had been continued by 
the conqueror in the chiefship of Monchaboo, at that 
time an inconsiderable village about twelve miles 
from the river, west of Keoum-meoum. Endowed 
with a spirit of enterprise and talent equal to the 
greatest undertakings, he harboured a fervent desire 
to rescue his country from her humiliating yoke ; and 
it was not long before the arrogance of the Peguan 
monarch afforded him a favourable moment for 
making the attempt. On his return to his capital, 
the conqueror, in terms of insolent triumph, an- 
nounced, that Birmah, subdued by his prowess, was 
annexed as a conquered province to his dominions, 
and that the city of Pegu was in future to be the 
general metropolis. Alom-praw had, at this period, 
about a hundred devoted followers, on whose courage 
and fidelity he could rely, while there were not more 
than fifty Pegu soldiers in Monchaboo, who treated the 
natives with ths most galling contempt. Availing 
himself of some particular act of indignity, Alom-praw 
so skilfully worked on the minds of his followers, 
that, attacking the Peguans with irresistible violence, 
they put them all to the sword. After this act of 
inexpiable rebellion, Alom-praw, still dissembling his 
intention, wrote in terms of contrition to Apporaza, 
representing the affair as an act of unpremeditated 


violence, arising out of mutual irritation. The vice- 
roy, being called to the metropolis by urgent business, 
and underrating the character of his adversary, con- 
tented himself with ordering the reduction of Mon- 
chaboo, and the imprisonment of Alom-praw until his 
return. A small force was accordingly despatched to 
bring him in bonds to Ava; but, on approaching 
Monchaboo, to their astonishment they found it 
strongly stockaded, and were received with threats 
of defiance. Alom-praw was not a person to suffer 
them to recover from their surprise. At day-break, 
he sallied forth at the head of his little band, and so 
furiously assaulted the Peguans, who did not exceed 
a thousand, as utterly to rout them, and he pursued 
them for two miles. After this exploit, he invited all 
the neighbouring places to join his standard, and 
many obeyed the summons, while others thought 
the enterprise as yet too hazardous. When news of 
this disaster reached Ava, Dotachew, the nephew of 
Apporaza, who governed in his absence, timidly 
hesitated whether to march at the head of his troops, 
to await a reinforcement, or to retreat to Prome; 
and while he lingered, Alom-praw, who, through the 
affections of his countrymen, had faithful intelligence 
of all that passed, boldly resolved to advance, before 
he could strengthen himself by the numerous Pegu 
forces scattered throughout the country. The report 
of his approach was sufficient to embolden the Bir- 
mans to rise on their oppressors. Dotachew fled; 
all the Peguans who remained behind were slain; 
and Alom-praw, spared the necessity of advancing in 
person, sent his second son, Shembuan, to take pos- 
session of the capital. 

At this time, both the English and the French had 
re-established their factories at Syrian), and had, of 


course, their separate interests. The French favoured 
the Peguans; the English took the part of the Bir- 
mans ; both parties, however, contented themselves 
with rendering the petty aid of clandestine supplies. 
Early in 1754, the Pegu monarch, now awakened to 
a sense of the danger, despatched Apporaza from 
Syriam, with a numerous fleet of war-boats up the 
Irrawaddy, to reconquer the revolted provinces. The 
season at which this expedition was undertaken, 
was unfavourable. In the dry months of January, 
February, March, and April, the river subsides so as 
to be scarcely navigable from shoals and sand-banks, 
and the northerly wind, which invariably prevails at 
this season, retards all boats of burthen. After sus- 
taining a series of harassing attacks from the Birmans 
on the shores of the river, as they proceeded, Appo- 
raza succeeded in advancing as high as the city of Ava ; 
but Ava was of sufficient strength to stand a pro- 
tracted siege, and Shembuan resolved to defend it to 
the last extremity. Alom-praw had, in the mean- 
while, collected in the immediate vicinity, at Keoum- 
meoum, a powerful fleet, and an army of ten thousand 
men; and Apporaza, preferring the risk of a battle 
to the tedious and doubtful operation of a siege, left 
Ava in his rear, and advanced to attack the Birman 
forces. The contest was obstinate and bloody. At 
length a report, skilfully spread, that Shembuan was 
advancing on their rear from the fort of Ava, threw 
the Peguan force* into total disorder and rout ; num- 
bers were slaughtered in the retreat, and Shembuan, 
issuing from the fort of Ava, completed their destruc- 
tion. This signal victory secured the emancipation of 
Ava, Enraged at these repeated defeats and reverses, 
the Peguans had recourse to vindictive measures, 
which, in the end, proved fatal to themselves. Their 



aged and unoffending prisoner, the dethroned king of 
the Birmans, was accused of conspiring against the 
Peguan government, and on this pretence was put to 
death. The principal Birmans in the districts yet in the 
hands of the Peguans, being supposed to be implicated, 
were every where indiscriminately slaughtered. These 
atrocious and bloody scenes effected no other purpose 
than to drive to desperation the numerous Birmans in 
the towns and districts of Promej Keounzeik, Loon- 
zay, and Denoobew. Furious at the murder of their 
monarch and the slaughter of their countrymen, they 
simultaneously rose upon their oppressors, and having 
exterminated the several garrisons, united themselves 
to the now distinguished leader of their countrymen. 

At this period, the eldest son of the deposed and 
murdered monarch, hearing of the success of Alom- 
praw, returned to Monchaboo, with a set of brave and 
faithful followers, from an eastern province of Siam ; 
but, on his venturing imprudently to assume the dis- 
tinctions of royalty, Alom-praw so clearly developed 
his views on the throne, that the prince thought it 
prudent to consult his safety by flight, and again 
sought an asylum among the Siamese. In the au- 
tumn of 1754, Beinga Delia, king of Pegu, having 
made the greatest efforts to raise fresh levies, ad- 
vanced and laid siege to Prome. This city was 
fortified by a wall and fosse as well as a strong stock- 
ade, and for forty days its was vigorously defended 
against every assault, until Alom-praw, having col- 
lected the choicest of his troops, proceeded down the 
river with a formidable fleet of war-boats. A fierce 
and bloody encounter took place between the two 
armies; but at length, the Birmans obtained a deci- 
sive victory, and the vanquished Peguans sought 
safety by flight. The mere terror spread by the 


conqueror's approach, sufficed to clear the whole river 
to the sea, and to extend his authority over the delta 
formed by the mighty waters of the Irrawaddy. Here, 
before his return to Monchaboo, on the ruins of a 
large and populous town, called in the Pali, Singoun- 
terra, Alom-praw laid the foundation of the flourishing 
sea-port of Rangoon,* which has since become so well 
known, not only to our merchants, but our troops. 
The revered temple of Shoe Dagon (the Golden Dagon), 
a noble edifice, stands three miles from the banks of 
the river. 

The contests maintained by the expiring efforts of 
the Peguans, were continued for a considerable time 
on the Persaim (or Bassien), Syriam, and Martaban 
rivers and estuaries ; but Alom-praw finally defeated 
all his opponents. Exasperated at the instances of 
duplicity and weakness displayed in turn by the prin- 
cipal persons of the English and French factories, who 
were desirous of assisting only the strongest, and 
thereby betrayed both parties, he took a sanguinary 
revenge by putting to death the principal Europeans 
on both sides, and destroying the factories. Pur- 
suing his victorious career, he at length invested 
Pegu, the capital of the rival and constant enemy of 
Birmah. Having erected numerous stockades so as 
to form a circumvallation round the whole city, in 
January, 1757, he sat down to wait the slow but 
certain effects of hunger and distress. A gallant 
struggle, the dying efforts of a once powerful nation, 
protracted the siege, and various fruitless efforts 
were made to escape the last point of humiliation. 
At length, the king of Pegu, whose imbecility seems 
to have equalled his ill fortune, surrendered himself 

Rangoon, or Dzangoon, Col. Byrnes says, signifies victory 


with his family to the discretion of the conqueror, and 
Pegu was given up to indiscriminate plunder. 

Turning now again southward, Alom-praw pro- 
ceeded to reduce the large district of Martaban, and 
the important line of sea-coast from that river down- 
wards through the peninsula of Tenasserim to 
Mergui, together with the independent state of 
Tavoy. In a subsequent expedition, occasioned by 
the revolt of the southern provinces, he wrested 
Mergui and Tenasserim from the Siamese ; and 
provoked at the assistance they had lent to the insur- 
gents, he resolved to annex the kingdom of Siam to 
his dominions. He had proceeded, in May, 1760, to 
lay siege to its capital, and so decided and energetic 
were his measures, that he would probably have suc- 
ceeded in this bold enterprise, when death arrested his 
career, and thus saved the Siamese from total ruin. 
Foreseeing that his end was approaching, he raised the 
siege, hoping to reach once more his own dominions ; 
but within two days' march of Martaban, he expired, 
in the fiftieth year of his age. The short space of 
seven years not only sufficed to achieve these splendid 
conquests, but Alom-praw proved the strength of his 
capacity not less by the extent, variety, and clearness 
of his civil and judicial enactments. He laid deep and 
strong the foundations of the Birman power; they 
have never hitherto been shaken, and his posterity still 
wield his sceptre. It is unfortunate that the im- 
pression of ill-faith on the part of the European 
factories long survived his reign, and has apparently 
sunk very deep in the minds of the Birman govern- 
ment. The incidents of the wars of Alom-praw are not, 
therefore, without their interest, even at this distant 
period, as they tend to throw considerable light on the 
present obstinate contest. 


The eldest son of Alom-praw succeeded to the vacant 
throne, but not without a recurrence of those scenes of 
sanguinary civil contest which are continually exhibited 
in countries scourged by eastern despotism. Nam- 
dojee-praw found a rival in his younger brother Shem- 
buan, who, being with the army at the decease of his 
father, not only endeavoured to gain their support, 
but went so far as to issue a proclamation declaratory 
of his having been nominated heir to the crown by 
the deceased monarch. Finding himself, however, 
unable to maintain his claims, he sued for a reconcilia- 
tion, which his brother had the magnanimity to grant. 
He had to encounter a more dangerous competitor in 
Meinla Rajah, a general high in favour with the late 
king, who not only seized Tonghoo, the strongest for- 
tress in the Ava country, but succeeded in possessing 
himself of Old Ava, the ancient capital. His prompti- 
tude and rapidity had nearly gained the crown, and 
made him master of the person and fortunes of Nam- 
dojee-praw, who remained at Monchaboo, the favourite 
residence and capital of Alom-praw, engaged in raising 
fresh levies to oppose the rebels, but whose chief reli- 
ance rested upon the junction of his raw soldiers with 
the veteran army led by his father against Siam. The 
season befriended him, for the volume of waters poured 
down from the Tibetian mountains on the melting of 
the snows, so increases the rapidity and force of the 
stream, that, in the months of June, July, and 
August, the navigation of the Irrawaddy would be 
impracticable, were it not counteracted by the strength 
of the north-west monsoon. Assisted by this wind, 
and cautiously keeping within the eddies of the banks, 
the Birman boats use their sails, and make a more 
expeditious passage at this season than at any other 
time of the year. The distance of the present capital 


of Birmah from Rangoon, by the river, is about 500 
miles ; but although so far from the sea, its noble 
breadth of stream, aided by the inundation, placed the 
royal forces far beyond the reach of any annoyance 
from the walls of Ava, which they passed to effect a 
junction with the king; and this union of strength 
finally enabled him, after an obstinate defence, the 
result of despair, to reduce the city, and exterminate 
the rebels. 

Two other unsucessful revolts occupied the atten- 
tion of Namdojee-praw during his short reign of three 
years ; but the only event requiring notice was the 
tacit agreement of both parties to bury in oblivion 
the circumstances connected with the expulsion of 
the English from their factory at Negrais, and the 
grant of as much ground as they could occupy at 
Persaim. Namdojee-praw had the character of a 
severe and rigorous judge, punishing slight immorali- 
ties with the severities due only to atrocious crimes. 
A second conviction even of drunkenness, incurred 
the inevitable penalty of death; and any offences 
against the tenets of religion or its ministers, were 
inflexibly punished. He left one child, an infant ; 
but the throne was immediately seized by Shembuan, 
his brother, whom he had formerly so generously par- 
doned. The reign of this monarch, which lasted for 
twelve years, was a scene of active and successful war- 
fare, and proved him to be possessed of distinguished 
abilities. Pursuing the plans of his parent, Alom- 
praw, against the Siamese, Shembuan, in the begin- 
ning of the year 1766, advanced against the capital, 
which soon surrendered, and the king became his 
prisoner. Shembuan appointed a governor over the 
country, and exacted an oath of allegiance ; but so 
inveterate is their national hatred of the Birmans, 


that nothing short of extermination could long retain, 
the kingdom in subjection to the foreign yoke. The 
hate of the Siamese soon found vent, and Pe-ya-tai, 
the son of a rich China man by a native woman, 
governor of the province of Muong-tai, led a revolt 
which, after a violent struggle, rescued Siam from its 
invaders. The capture and plunder of Yuthia, the 
ancient capital, by the Birmans, together with the 
disastrous events which followed, had induced many 
of the inhabitants to abandon the place. Pe-ya-tai, 
collecting the scattered remains of the dispirited popu- 
lation, was soon in a condition to found a new city. 
Bankok, also seated on the great river of Siam, the 
Meinam, was at this time a place of little importance, 
noted chiefly for the excellence of its fruits, which 
were sent in great abundance to Yuthia; but its site 
offered several advantages over that of Yuthia, and 
Bankok has ever since been the capital of the king- 

In the year 1744, Shembuan sent a formidable force 
against the Munnipoora Rajah and the Cassay Shaan, 
carrying his arms into the recesses of the distant hill 
districts of the Brahmapootra. The rajah of Cachar 
consented to yield as tribute to the Birman monarch, 
besides a sum of money, a virgin of the royal blood, 
and a tree with the roots bound in their native clay; 
thereby indicating that both person and property were 
at the disposal of his sovereign pleasure. In the 
south of his dominions, Shembuan repressed a most 
formidable and dangerous rebellion of the Peguans, 
of which he availed himself to bring to a mock trial 
and execute as a common criminal, Beinga Delia, the 
aged monarch of Pegu, who had lingered for twenty 
years in captivity. It deserves notice, however, how 
precisely the fate of this unhappy sovereign corre- 


sponded to the act of barbarity inflicted by Beinga 
Delia himself on his vassal, the captive king of 

The most singular and important event of the reign 
of Shembuan, was a powerful invasion of the Birman 
dominions by a numerous army of Chinese. Scarcely 
was the Siamese war concluded, when the Chinese 
emperor, conceiving, probably, that the long and bloody 
wars between the Birmans and the Peguans must 
have enfeebled the neighbouring state, prepared an 
expedition which had for its object to annex the fine 
and fertile countries of the Irrawaddy to his immense 
dominions. It was in 1767, that the Birman monarch 
was informed that a Chinese army of 50,000 men, 
supported by a powerful body of Tatar cavalry, had al- 
ready advanced from the western frontiers of Yun-nan, 
and crossed the mountains that skirt the Chinese and 
Birman empires. Shembuan had prepared two armies : 
one, consisting of 10,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry, 
under Amiou-mee, engaged the attention of the Chinese, 
and harassed their progress; while a much greater 
force, commanded by Tenjia-boo, a general of high 
rank, was directed to get in the rear of the enemy by 
a circuitous march over the mountains that lay further 
southwards. The Chinese approached by unremitting 
marches. Leaving the province of Bamoo to the west, 
they penetrated by Gouptong, between which and 
Quantong there is a jee, or mart, where the Birmans 
and Chinese meet to barter the commodities of their 
respective countries. The jee was taken by the 
Chinese and plundered; and near Peenjee, the ad- 
vanced forces of Amiou-mee sustained an action, in 
which, from their inferiority of numbers, they were 
worsted and obliged to fall back. This inconsiderable 
success led to the total destruction of the Chinese 


army, which became so elated as to conceive that no 
obstacle existed to impede their advance to the capital. 
Forsaking the high road, probably for the convenience 
of forage, they had advanced by Chenghio as far as the 
town of Chiboo, when the army of Tenjia-boo appeared 
in their rear, while the governor of Quantong, having 
joined Amiou-mee, took up a strong position in their 
front. Thus enclosed on all sides, the Chinese army 
was soon compelled to make a desperate effort at 
breaking through their straitened bounds. Supposing 
Amiou-mee to be the weaker party, they attacked 
his division with the fury of despair ; but, after a very 
long and bloody conflict, the arrival of the fresh and 
numerous forces of Tenjia-boo decided their fate. Of 
50,000 Chinese, not a man returned to their country. 
The Birmans have always practised an exterminating 
policy towards their enemies, and have followed up 
any revolts or resistance to their arms by such unre- 
lenting cruelties as have tended to strike terror into 
every adjoining state. About 2,500 only were pre- 
served from the sword, and conducted in fetters to the 
capital, where a quarter was assigned for their resi- 
dence. These captives, in conformity to the custom 
of the empire, were encouraged to marry Birman 
wives, and to consider themselves as natives. This 
remarkable peculiarity in the Birman customs, which 
reminds us of the Lacedemonian liberality, or of the 
genius of Roman institutes, speaks highly for the fol- 
lowers of the Shaster, marking the superior character 
of their general polity, which grants to every sect the 
practice of its religious rites. Tolerant alike of Chris- 
tian, Mussulman, or Jew, they admit to equal privi- 
leges the votaries of Confucius, or of the Arabian 
prophet; and their children, if born of a Birman 
woman, are entitled to the same protection from the 


state, as if descended from a long line of Birman 

Shembuan, having now established his throne on 
the strong foundations of terror and respect, resolved 
upon an act of policy, under the disguise of a religious 
solemnity, adapted to confirm the impression of his 
power. The sacred temple of Dagon near Rangoon, 
where Guadma Buddha had been adored from time 
immemorial, had, in the year 1769, been greatly da- 
maged by an earthquake, and the sacred tee, or umbrella 
of open iron work, which crowned the spire, had been 
thrown down and irreparably damaged. In Birmah, 
a pagoda is not deemed sanctified until it receives the 
tee, and its erection is an act of high solemnity. 
Shembuan, having caused a magnificent tee to be 
constructed at Ava, announced his intention of de- 
scending the Irrawaddy, and assisting in person at its 
erection. Attended by a numerous train of Birman 
nobles, and a body guard of 50,000 men, he left his 
capital, and arrived at Rangoon in October, 1775. At 
the different stages of his progress, he inflicted the 
most relentless punishments upon the different Peguans 
of rank who had been concerned in the recent rebel- 
lion; and it was upon this occasion that, after a mock 
trial, he wantonly put to death the aged monarch 
whom he had led captive in his train. These cruelties 
and this act of devotion to Buddha were the last deeds 
of Shembuan. On his return to the capital, he was 
seized with a mortal illness, and expired in the spring 
of the year 1776. 

Momien, the infant son of Namdojee-praw, was 
now growing towards manhood. He had been se- 
cluded in the kioum or monastery of Lo-ga-ther-poo, 
at a short distance from the fort of Ava, and he was 
yet destined to inhabit its privacy. Chenguza, the 


son of Shembuan, ascended, as rightful heir, the 
throne which his father had wrested from the infancy 
of Momien. Arrived himself at maturity, the state of 
the Birman empire so flourishing, its foundations laid 
so firm, and potently supported by the faithful ad- 
herents and able counsellors of his father, every cir- 
cumstance augured a prosperous and brilliant reign; 
but the short and ignominious career of Chenguza was 
marked by shameless debauchery, and by acts of the 
greatest cruelty and barbarity. Stimulated by jealousy, 
he caused his younger brother, Chilenza, to be put to 
death ; his uncle Terroug-mee also fell a victim to his 
suspicions, and his other relatives were either detained 
in confinement or harrassed by a vigilant surveillance. 
His first marriage being unfruitful, he espoused as his 
second wife, a daughter of one of the attawoons, or 
chief counsellors of his court. His intemperance 
causing mutual alienation, he, in a groundless fit of 
jealousy, had the unfortunate victim dragged in open 
day from the palace, enclosed in a scarlet sack, and 
drowned in the Irrawaddy, in the view of thousands 
of spectators, among whom were her agonised father 
and many of her relations. His insane caprice induced 
him to reverse most of the late king's plans, by recall- 
ing his armies, and disgracing Maha-see-soo-ra, the 
general in highest reputation; and not content with 
having repealed the edicts against drunkenness, he 
constantly exhibited himself in a state of inebriety. 
By his contemptuous treatment of the sacerdotal class, 
with which the sovereign of these regions is closely 
and intimately associated, he drew on himself the 
hatred of that powerful order, and thereby enabled his 
subjects to overthrow his throne, and free themselves 
from his yoke. Despotic as are the monarchs of 


Birmah, they are, nevertheless, circumscribed in their 
apparently unlimited despotism, by the rhahaans or 
priests. This was made apparent by the part they 
were prevailed upon to take at the present emergency. 
Protected by the sanctity of the chosen retreat and the 
sacred functions for which he was professedly destined, 
Mornien had been screened by the rhahaans from the 
fears and jealousy of Shembuan and his yet more dan- 
gerous son and successor Chenguza; and they now 
silently prepared to avail themselves of their ascendancy 
over their pupil, whose slender capacity made him a 
willing instrument. Minderajee-praw, the younger 
brother of Shembuan, a man of eminent parts and equal 
ambition, soon laid the plans which effected their pur- 
pose, One proof of the capricious, unsettled mind of 
Chenguza, was his irregularity in issuing from and 
returning to his royal fort and palace ; a station in all 
Asiatic kingdoms, even in Turkey and Persia, of the 
highest importance, as usually containing the trea- 
sures and exhibiting the state of the sovereign, and 
almost conferring the possession of the royal power on 
its occupier. Chenguza had gone to Keoptaloun, about 
thirty miles below Ava, to celebrate a high festival, 
when Momien, attired in the ensigns of royalty, and 
supplied with a royal retinue by the address of his 
advisers and followers, presented himself as Chenguza, 
at midnight, at the golden gate, and demanded ad- 
mission. It was opened, but, suspicions being excited, 
an effort was made to close it, which would have been 
fatal to the whole enterprise ; the conspirators, how- 
ever, rushed in, and after a smart conflict, gained pos- 
session of the palace. Early next day, Momien was 
proclaimed sovereign of Birmah, and Chenguza was 
declared an outlaw. Forces were despatched by sea 
and land to Keoptaloun, to seize his person ; but Chen' 


guza, informed of his danger, had shut himself up in 
the strong fortress of Chagaing. There he was in- 
vested by the forces of the new king, and soon finding 
that the weakest of all beings is a despised and de- 
throned tyrant, he determined on fleeing to the Cassay 
country, and soliciting protection from the Munnipoora 
Rajah. During the six years of his reign, he had 
observed the most pacific conduct towards his vassals 
and neighbours; he might, therefore, have received 
the shelter which he courted. From this resolve he 
was, however, dissuaded by the voice of his mother, 
the widow of Shembuan-praw, who urged him to 
prefer death in his own golden courts, rather than to 
depend on the precarious bounty of a vassal. Chen- 
guza, although so long immersed in vice and profligacy, 
yielded to this counsel, and thus gave in his last act one 
proof of a lofty and magnanimous spirit. Having pri- 
vately prepared a small boat, in disguise, and with only 
two adherents, he crossed the Irrawaddy to the prin- 
cipal ghaut, or landing-place, at the foot of the walls of 
the palace, where he was speedily challenged by the 
sentinels. No longer seeking to conceal himself, he 
called out in a loud voice, that he was Chenguza- 
nandoh-yeng-praw Chenguza, lawful lord of the 
palace. A conduct so unexpected and lofty, surprised 
the guards, who, overawed and restrained by the 
Birman law, which expressly forbids the shedding of 
the blood of one of the royal family, suffered him to 
proceed, and the crowd that had quickly collected, 
respectfully opened for his passage. He had pene- 
trated to the gate of the outer court of the palace; and 
so rapid are the changes in human affairs, especially in 
eastern climates, that he might again have reached the 
summit of .power, when he was confronted by the 



attawoon whose daughter he had so inhumanly 
drowned in the Irrawaddy. Chenguza, on perceiving 
him, exclaimed : " Traitor, I am come to take pos- 
session of my right, and to wreak vengeance on my 
enemies !" Scarcely had he uttered the words, ere his 
exasperated foe, seizing a sabre from one of the attend- 
ants, laid him breathless at his feet. For shedding 
royal blood, however, the ill-fated attawoon was 
basely delivered over to the executioner. Momien, a 
mere tool in the hands of those who had made use 
of him to achieve the tyrant's downfall, was, within 
the space of six days, himself precipitated from the 
throne by his ambitious uncle Minderajee-praw ; and 
the new king, to prevent any future danger from his 
pretensions, caused him to perish in the waters of the 

In 1782, Minderajee-praw commenced his reign ; 
and although he was indebted for his elevation to deeds 
of blood, he governed with clemency and justice, re- 
calling and replacing Maha-see-soo-ra, and the officers 
and counsellors of his brother and father. Secured 
against foreign enemies, and exempt throughout his 
reign from family disturbances, he was nearly deprived 
of his throne and life by a conspiracy, over the object 
and motives of which there hangs a considerable 
degree of obscurity. The leader in this treasonable 
attempt was Magoung, a low-born man ; and it is 
said to have been concerted without the privacy of 
any person of consequence. Magoung is represented, 
as having been " remarkable only for the regularity 
of his actions and a gloomy cast of thought ;" yet, he 
must have possessed a certain consideration, as he had 
influence enough to form a confederacy of a hundred 
persons as visionary and desperate as himself. These 


persons bound themselves, under an oath of secrecy 
and fidelity to each other, to take away the life of 
the king. Whether Minderajee-praw had infringed 
on any privileges, or excited hatred by the outrage 
against Momien's sacred person, whatever were 
their motives, their attempt to effect their pur- 
pose was so energetic and powerful, that, breaking 
through the customary guard of seveu hundred men, 
they were on the point of succeeding : nothing pre- 
served the king but the casualty of his having retired 
to the range of apartments allotted to the women. Dis- 
appointed of their prey, and surrounded by the guards, 
the conspirators were all put to death. 

Although, as votaries of Buddha in his character of 
Guadma, the Birmans are exempted from the yoke of 
Hindoo castes, and pay no regard to the innumerable 
deities of the Hindoo mythology, yet, there is a close 
connexion between the two forms of superstition. 
Brahmins admit Buddha into their pantheon as an 
incarnation of Vishnu the preserver ; while the Bir- 
mans, although esteeming the Brahmins inferior in 
sanctity to their own rhaha'dns, yet hold them in high 
respect, and these personages have for ages been 
accustomed to migrate from Cassay and Arracan to 
Ava. The habits of the Brahmins, and their inter- 
course with society, must raise them in general know- 
ledge far above the Birman priesthood, who are an 
order of monks residing in convents, and holding it to 
be an abuse to perform any of the common functions 
of life. The Brahmins, skilfully availing themselves 
of the early predilection of Minderajee-praw for the 
science of judicial astrology, and flattering him with 
favourable prognostics, soon introduced themselves into 
high influence at court, obtained the grant of a college 


and lands for their support, and engrossed the whole 
regulation of the national calendar, assuming the 
prerogative of pronouncing upon the propitious or 
adverse moment of any undertaking from unerring 
prognostics. The Brahmins have thus obtained a 
permanent footing in Birmah. A certain number of 
them form a train of fatidical augurs, who, like the 
Magi of Iran, or the Druids of Britain, compose a 
sacred band, the guardians of the throne * Prompted 
by these new counsellors, Minderajee-praw removed 
his seat of government fromAwa Kaung, or Old Ava, 
and founded a new metropolis. His choice was judi- 
cious. About four miles from Ava, towards the north- 
east, is a deep and extensive lake called Tounzemaun, 
formed by the influx of the river during the monsoon, 
through a narrow channel, which afterwards expands, 
and forms a sheet of water seven or eight miles in 
length, and about a mile and a half broad. On a penin- 
sula formed by this lake on the one side, and the river 
Irrawaddy on the other, stands Amara-pura (Umme- 
rapoora), or the immortal city, the flourishing 
metropolis of the empire. The situation is dry and 
salubrious, and Amara-pura soon became one of the 
best built and most flourishing cities of the East. 

The chief event of the reign of Minderajee-praw 
was the successful invasion of Arracan, a state 
of the greatest natural strength, which appears 
to have been judiciously planned and executed. Ar- 

* Colonel Symes calls them the king's " private chaplains." On 
the day of audience, " four Brahmins, dressed in white caps and 
gcwns, chanted the usual prayer at the foot of the throne ; a rah- 
haan then advanced into the vacant space before the king, and 
recited in musical cadence the name of each person who was to be 
introduced, and of whose present he entreated his majesty's ac- 
ceptance." SYMES, vol. iii. p. 169. 


racan, or Yee-kien, stretches from the river Naff 
(or Naaf), which separates it from the district 
of Chittagong, as far southward as Cape Negrais. 
The great range of western mountains, called Anou- 
pectou-mlou, nearly encircles it. From Bass'ien or 
Cape Negrais, its southern frontier can be invaded 
only by water. On the north, it is accessible from the 
Chittagong frontier only by the sea-beach, which is 
continually intersected by channels from the sea ; and 
the mountainous passes of the Anou-pectou-miou Ghauts 
are so difficult, that an enterprising people might, with 
a small force, defend them against any numbers. 
Although the great river on which the city of Arracan 
stands, expands into a noble sheet of water, yet, its 
entrance is well protected by sands and numerous 
islands. A strong fleet of boats, however, descending 
the Irrawaddy, entered the waters of Arracan by the 
creeks and channels of the Bassien river, and a naval 
action took place about two miles from the fort, which 
terminated in favour of the Birmans. The approach 
of a powerful detachment under the Prince of Prome, 
who had penetrated the mountain denies, completed 
the victory. Maha Sumda, the Rajah of Arracan, 
terrified at the bold and warlike character of his foes, 
sought safety in flight, but was overtaken, and con- 
veyed with all his family to Amara-pura, where he 
died in the first year of his captivity. The town and 
fort of Arracan fell after a faint resistance. This was 
followed by the surrender of the islands of Cheduba, 
Ramree, and the Broken isles. Many of the Mughs,* 
or natives of Arracan, preferring flight to servitude, 

* A corruption of Mngo, a term of high sanctity, properly belong- 
ing only to the sacerdotal order and the rajah. 


took refuge in the Dumbuck hills on the borders of 
the Chittagong district, and amid the forlorn waste* 
and jungles skirting the frontiers ; where, having 
formed themselves into independent tribes of robbers, 
they have carried on unceasing hostilities against the 
Birmans. Some settled in the districts of Dacca and 
Chittagong, under the protection of the British flag; 
while others, rather than abandon their country, sub- 
mitted to the conqueror. 

The total reduction of Arracan occupied but a few 
months. The booty is said to have been considerable ; 
but on nothing was so high a value placed as on the 
original sitting statue of Guadma Buddha, made of 
brass highly burnished.* This, together with five 
other gigantic images, of the same metal, representing 
racshyaSy or Hindoo demons, the guardians of the 
sanctuary, and an enormous brass cannon, thirty feet 
in length, was conveyed by water to the capital with 
much pomp and superstitious parade. It was upon 
this occasion, we are told, that the Birman monarch, 
having gained possession of so important a trophy, and 
succeeded to the prerogatives of the great Mogo, as- 
sumed the imperial title of .Boa, and the still prouder 
designation of Lord of the White Elephant, the 
highest distinction in the Buddhic world. This im- 
portant acquisition did not, however, satisfy the 
conqueror's ambition. The rival state of Siam was 

* " The figure is about ten feet high, in the customary sitting 
posture, with the legs crossed and inverted, the left hand resting on 
the lap, and the right pendant. This image is believed to be the 
original resemblance of the reshee (saint), taken from life, and is so 
highly venerated, that pilgrims have for centuries been accustccned 
to come from the remotest countries where the supremacy of 
Guadma is acknowledged, to pay their devotions at the feet of his 
brazen representative." SYMBS, voL i. p. 253. 


recovering its former vigour after enjoying a long 
respite from hostilities ; but the Binnan emperor now- 
resolved to push his conquests further southward along 
the western coast of the peninsula. After an unsuc- 
cessful effort made by an expedition from Rangoon to 
gain possession of the island of Junkseylon, Minde- 
rajee left his capital at the head of 30,000 men, and a 
train of twenty field-pieces, and taking the route of 
Tonghoo, reached Martaban in the spring of 1786. 
Scarcely had he entered the Siamese territory, when 
he was met by the king of Siam with a powerful army. 
A furious engagement ensued, in which the Birmans 
were completely routed, their useless cannon were 
taken, and the emperor himself narrowly escaped being 
made prisoner. Hostilities were carried on between, 
the two nations without any decisive result for several 
ensuing years, till at length, in the year 1793, over- 
tures for peace were made by the Siamese, and a 
treaty was entered into, by which they consented to 
cede to the Birmans the western maritime towns as 
far south as Mergui, including the important province 
of Tenasserim and the port of Tavoy ; acquisitions of 
great importance, considered either in a political or 
a commercial light. The province of Bamoo and the 
fort of Quantong had also been wrested from the 
Chinese, and the boundary extended to the thickly- 
wooded heights which separate the Chinese province 
of Yun-nan from Ava ; and the Birman emperor thus 
found himself invested with the undisputed sovereignty 
of a territory equal in geographical extent to the whole 
of France. 

Such was the state of things when, in 1794, an 
event occurred, which had nearly embroiled the Bir- 
mans in fresh hostilities with a more powerful foe than 
they had yet encountered. The trade of Arracan had 

44 B1RMAH. 

long suffered from the attacks of piratical banditti, 
and even fleets laden with the royal customs had been 
attacked by these bold freebooters, chiefly refugees 
from Arracan, who scrupled not to make predatory 
incursions by land also. Having accomplished their 
object, they, as the Birmans alleged, transported their 
spoil across the river Naaf, the boundary of the Chit- 
tagong district, and under the protection of the British 
flag, lived in safety and at ease, until impelled by want 
to renew their depredations. His Birman majesty, 
on becoming acquainted with these facts, disdaining 
to institute any inquiry or to prefer any complaints, 
ordered a body of 5,000 troops to march into the dis- 
trict, with positive commands to apprehend and bring 
back the culprits. The British Government, surprised 
at this aggression, despatched a strong detachment 
with artillery forthwith to Chittagong, to expel the 
invaders. Seeree Nunda Kiozo, the Birman general, 
appears to have conducted himself with singular 
moderation and discretion. After his army had crossed 
the river and encamped on the western bank, he dic- 
tated a letter to the British magistrate of Chittagong, 
stating that the only object of this inroad was the 
caption of the delinquents, and disclaiming any design 
of hostilities against the British : at the same time, 
he declared his resolution not to quit the Company's 
territory till they were given up ; and having fortified 
his camp with a stockade, he seemed determined to 
abide by this resolution. On the approach, however, 
of Major-general Erskine, Seeree Nunda Kiozo sent a 
flag of truce, proposing terms of accommodation on 
the same basis ; and he afterwards, with a manly 
confidence in the British character, personally waited' 
on General Erskine, who appears to have acted with 
equal firmness and prudence. It being represented 


to them, that no proposals could be listened to while 
they remained on English ground, the Birmans were 
induced to recross the river, having received a pro- 
mise that the matter of complaint should instantly be 
investigated. The refugees were already in custody ; 
and the result was, that the three principal delinquents 
were surrendered to the Birman chief, who, having 
attained the object of his expedition, retired with his 
captives from the British frontier. 

The governor-general (Sir John Shore) now deemed 
it expedient to endeavour to cultivate a better under- 
standing and a closer connexion with this bold and 
formidable neighbour. With this view, an embassy 
to the Birman court was determined upon; and in 
1795, Colonel Symes was despatched from Calcutta in 
the character of agent plenipotentiary, with a suite of 
more than seventy persons. To this gentleman's 
account of his successful mission, and the historical 
memoir prefixed to it, we are indebted for the mate- 
rials of the preceding sketch, and for the greater part 
of the information which we possess respecting the 
geography, manners, and political condition of the 
country. The trade between Rangoon and both Cal- 
cutta and Madras had, for some time, been on the 
increase, more particularly on account of teak timber, 
the produce of Ava and Pegu,* which is invaluable 
for the purpose of ship-building. But from this 
period, it has been more especially an object with the 

* In proof of the importance of the Pegu trade, Colonel Symes 
states, that " a durable vessel of burthen cannot be built in the 
river of Bengal, except by the aid of teak plank, which is only to 
be procured from Pegu. Madras is supplied from Rangoon with 
timber for all the common purposes of domestic use ; and even 
Bombay, although the :oast of Malabar is its principal storehouse, 
finds it worth while annually to import a lar^e quantity of planks 
from Pegu." SYMES. vol. iii. pp. 2(>6, 10. 
I) 2 


Indian government to secure an amicable intercourse, 
for the purposes of commerce, with the Birman power. 
In the year 1799 and 1800, fresh hostilities broke 
out between the Birmans and the Siamese, in 
which the latter were the aggressors ; and they ob- 
tained at first considerable advantages, routing 
the Birmese forces opposed to them. But so great 
were the exertions and resources of Minderajee-praw, 
that the Siamese were soon compelled to fall back ; 
and the result appears to have been, a recognition of 
the old boundary, and a truce of longer duration than 
usual. The feudal system of conscription which pre- 
vails in the Birman empire, enables the sovereign 
readily to bring into the field a force of powerful and 
menacing amount. The court of Amarapura can 
without much difficulty, command, by means of its 
great feudatories, the viceroys of Pagahm, Prome, 
Tonghoo, and other chiefs, a body of from 60 to 80,000 
men on any one poinj;, and by means of its noble 
rivers can direct this vast force with sufficient precision 
to the prescribed spot. So well arranged and com- 
bined are their military movements, that, in the in- 
vasion of Arracan by the late monarch in 1783, a 
simultaneous operation by three divisions of troops, 
and a flotilla of war-boats, took place so accurately, 
that they all appeared at nearly the same moment 
before Arracan ; and that country has ever since fur- 
nished its contingent levy of troops for the armies of 
Birmah. But during the Siamese war of 1799 and 
1800, a large mass of Arracanese, disgusted or terrified 
by the new regulations of conscription, emigrated in 
a body into the British province of Chittagong ; and 
after various disputes and altercations with the Bir- 
mans, they at length were allowed peaceably to settle 
on districts apportioned out for them in the British 


territories. The truce with Siam lasted until 1810, 
when another furious contest took place, which, after 
much bloodshed, terminated as usual to the advantage 
of the Birmans, by extending and consolidating all 
their conquests, on the western coast from Mergui to 
the island of Junkseylon. 

No interruption of commercial intercourse between 
British India and the Birmans took place during the 
remainder of this reign ; but a deep-rooted jealousy 
of the British appears to have taken possession of the 
mind of the emperor. In 1818, the Marquess of 
Hastings had certain information of his having joined 
the formidable Mahratta confederacy, which had for 
its object to subvert our Indian empire. By the well- 
conceived device of transmitting the intercepted docu- 
ments to the Birman emperor as forgeries, accompanied 
with an account of the triumphant ascendancy of our 
arms in all quarters, the governor-general succeeded 
in warding off at that time a tremendous inroad on 
our eastern frontier. The Birman emperor wisely 
availed himself of the hint, and the intercourse be- 
tween the two countries went on as before. In June 
1819, Minderajee-praw terminated his long and pro- 
sperous career, after a reign of thirty-seven years. The 
state paper issued on the occasion announced, accord- 
ing to the Chinese formula, that the immortal king 
had gone up to amuse himself in the celestial regions. 
He was succeeded without opposition by his grandson, 
the Engy Tekien, or prince royal. The new emperor 
was proclaimed in June 1819 ; and on the 2d of No- 
vember following, being his birth-day, he was solemnly 
crowned at Ava. He must immediately after his 
accession have entered on the reduction of the pro- 
vince of Cassay, as in January 1820, he celebrated his 
victory in presence of the American Baptist mission- 

48 B1RMAH. 

aries. By this conquest, the frontiers of Birmah Avere 
pushed forward, on the north and west, to the eastern 
boundary of Bengal, to Dinapore and its districts, the 
Garrows, the Sylhet Hills, and the mountain ridges of 
Cachar. Nor was it long before this close contact 
with our Indian empire became the occasion of fresh 
disagreements. In 1822, a large body of the perse- 
cuted Assamese migrated into the British territory, 
and, as before, the fugitives were followed thither by 
a considerable Birman force sent to reclaim them. 
The assurance that these refugees were strictly pre- 
cluded from exercising any act of hostility against 
their conquerors, seems, however, to have satisfied 
the Birman commander, and no act of hostility fol- 
lowed. Indeed, the attention of the sovereign of 
Birmah appears at this time to have been wholly oc- 
cupied with the reduction of Siam, the favourite object 
of his predecessors in the empire. - In order to accom- 
plish the final overthrow of this kingdom, an effort 
was made to obtain the concurrence of the king of 
Cochin China. Whatever may have been the plans 
of attack, the relative frontiers remained unaltered in 
1824, when the eventful war broke out between the 
British government and the Birman empire. Many 
petty acts of ill will had betokened the jealousy and 
alienation of the Binnans, when, in September 1823, 
a body of their troops, amounting to 500, took forcible 
possession of the island of Shapuree, in pursuance of 
an order from the capital, read publicly at Arracan. 
They were instantly expelled by force, and an expla- 
nation demanded. The next act of open hostility, 
was the advance of 2000 Birman troops, with a view 
to restore the rightful rajah of Cachar, who had been 
deposed and had sought refuge in the Biroian domi- 
nions. Ghumbur Sing, the usurper, was supported 


by the British ; and by this revolution, that state had 
been for some months under the British protection. 
These acts, therefore, of hostility against Cachar, to- 
gether with the attempted occupation of Shapuree, 
were the ostensible grounds of the war. 

It has been usual, in former wars with the Asiatic 
states, to experience a violence of onset, impetuous in 
the extreme, but which has soon exhausted itself, so that 
it has required only the perseverance and combination 
requisite to surmount the first attack, and the storm has 
subsided of itself. Not so in the recent contest with the 
Birmans. On the northern or Sylhet frontier, in the 
district of Chittagong, in the southern maritime districts 
of Rangoon, Dalla, and Mergui, every where large 
bodies of troops met the British detachments, fought 
with a bravery the most determined, and evidenced a 
decided superiority over most of the native armies. 
The island of Shapuree, in the river Naaf, the boundary 
of Chittagong, was soon retaken, and was never again 
made the scene of action. In Cachar, the ground was 
contested with vigour and skill, large bodies of Bir- 
mans and Assamese presenting themselves at every 
point. The latter forces, dragged into the war to 
support the power of their oppressor, usually fled at 
the first encounter ; but the former, entrenching them- 
selves in their peculiarly effective stockades, main- 
tained a persevering resistance.* 

After many severe conflicts, they were expelled 
from Cachar ; but invading the Chittagong province. 

* Col. Bowen, giving an account of an attack made upon the 
stockade of Doodpattee, in Feb. 1824, says : " They fought with a 
bravery and obstinacy which I had never experienced in any 
troops." The Birmans amounted to 2000. After a most severe 
action, which lasted from ten in the morning till the evening, the 
British were obliged to retire to Juttrapore with a heavy loss. 


they advanced as far as Ramoo, and surrounding a 
detachment consisting of five companies of the 23d 
native infantry, three companies of the 20th, some 
provincials, the Mugh levy and artillery, they com- 
pletely overwhelmed and routed the whole force. 
The highest alarm was excited in Calcutta by this 
victory, in consequence of the unprotected state of 
this important frontier ; but the enemy, as if unde- 
cided in their object of warfare, remained stationary 
at Ramoo. The brunt of the contest, however, was 
destined to fall upon the southern maritime provinces, 
and a large armament from the Bengal and Madras 
presidencies anchored off Rangoon, on May 16, 1824. 
This flourishing place, which had grown to conse- 
quence and prosperity by the extent and importance 
of its commercial relations, was abandoned and par- 
tially destroyed on the approach of the British, and 
was completely desolated by the series of obstinate 
conflicts carried on in its neighbourhood. In the 
month of May, the island of Cheduba and the point 
of Negrais were taken possession of by the British 
troops, but in neither case without a severe contest. 
Stockades of great strength were established by the 
Burmans along the river ; and although repeatedly 
driven from their stations, they immediately occupied 
some post in the rear, retreating with equal order 
and judgement, until the gradual rising of the 
Irrawaddy, laying the whole country under water, 
suspended active proceedings from June to Octo- 
ber. The district of Dalla, eventually subjected 
by the British, was also spiritedly contested. The 
pagoda at Keykloo, fourteen miles above Rangoon on 
the Irrawaddy, when attacked by Lieutenant-Colonel 
Smith, on the 5th of October, was so judiciously and 
skilfully defended, that cur troops were repulsed witb> 


considerable loss, and were obliged to retreat, as the 
despatch expresses it, dispirited and ungovernable. 
On returning to the attack, on the 9th of October, 
with a reinforcement of European troops, the town 
was found evacuated and in flames. After a series of 
actions, more or less obstinate, Martaban, Tavoy, and 
Tenasserim were at length reduced by the British 
arms, and the whole Birman possessions eastward of 
Pegu fell before the superiority of European tactics. 
In Mergui, there were found 143 pieces of ordnance ; 
in Martaban, 1 16 pieces. Not in one point only, but 
throughout the border of this extensive dominion, the 
Birmans had provided formidable means of defence. 
But it was in the central provinces, and on Ava's 
mighty river, the Irrawaddy, that the most effective 
preparations were made for the important struggle. 
In the beginning of December, the Maha Bundoola 
descended the river, from Prome, with an army of 
60,000 men. A series of attacks and combats now 
commenced, which manifested a spirit and courage 
the most determined on the part of the Birmans, and 
a knowledge and skill in the Maha Bundoola, which 
extorted the praise of Sir A. Campbell. Their attacks 
upon the British line continued for six days. The 
left wing of their army, when defeated with great 
loss, merely retreated on their right, and the struggle 
was renewed, till this division also was routed, with 
the loss of 5000 men, and their ordnance and chattahs 
(honorary standards). Still undismayed, they rallied 
the remnant of this great army, and entrenched 
themselves within five miles of their original position, 
at the village of Corkain, to the number of about 20 
or 25,000 men, " with a judgement," says the 
despatch of the brigadier-general, " which would do 
credit to the best-instructed engineers of the most 


civilised and warlike nations." In the mean time, 
our shipping was attacked by a large naval armament 
of war-boats, and was in no small danger from the 
fire-rafts of the enemy. Accident, however, had for- 
tunately attached to the British fleet a steam-vessel, 
equipped in India by a private individual, which 
rendered the most efficient assistance, rushing amid 
the Birman war-boats with an impetus which nothing 
could withstand. Astonished and alarmed at the 
wheels, the noise, and the column of smoke which 
issued from this mysterious assailant, these brave but 
inexperienced foes suffered a total defeat, the larger 
portion of their boats being overset and run down. 
Driven from the water, and combated both by flood 
and by land with arms hitherto unknown in this part 
of the East, the remains of the grand army under 
their brave leader, retreated towards the shores of 
Pegu, there to prepare for future conflicts. 

In January 1825, the Birman generalissimo was 
found to have stationed himself at Derioobew, a large 
town on the great river, about fifty miles above Ran- 
goon ; so small a space in the heart of the country 
had the British acquired by the series of brilliant but 
dearly-bought victories they had gained. Here, the 
Birman general prepared to sustain an attack, having 
combined the remaining resources of the Pegu vice- 

About the middle of February, General Cotton 
captured the stockade of Panlung, principally by 
means of the rockets and mortars ; but at Denoobew, 
he sustained a serious repulse, and was obliged to 
retire with the loss of many of his officers and men. 
In April, General Campbell, \vho had ascended the 
Irrawaddy towards Prome without encountering any 
resistance, was recalled to the attack on Denoobew, 


which was regularly assaulted with the mortars and 
rockets. Here, the brave Maha Bundoola ended his 
military career, being killed by a rocket while going 
his rounds, and his dismayed followers retired from 
the place without much further resistance. The 
quantity of ordnance and stores captured was very 
considerable. On the 24th of this month, the flotilla 
and army advanced to Prome, which city was eva- 
cuated by the enemy, after an attempt had been 
made to destroy it by conflagration. One quarter 
was laid in ashes, and much grain consumed. Above 
100 pieces of ordnance were captured here. The 
despatch states, that the surrounding hills were for the 
most part fortified to their very summits, presenting a 
position of a very formidable appearance, and, in 
reality, so strong, that 10,000 regular troops could 
have defended it against any attack from ten times 
that force. While these important movements were 
taking place, a series of brilliant and sharply-contested 
actions put the British forces in possession of the 
kingdom of Arracan. From Cachar and Assam, also, 
the Birmans were completely expelled. 

Thus terminated, in the beginning of May 1825, 
the second campaign of this bloody and devastating 
war. Prome, the ancient frontier town of Pegu, is 
120 miles from Rangoon, but the distance still from 
Amara-pura, the capital, is about 250 miles. Taught 
by lamentable experience the great inferiority of their 
weapons and tactics to European practice, the Birman 
government seems now to have resorted to the fright- 
ful expedient of firing every town and village, and 
laying waste the lands in the track of their retreat. 
The present aspect of Birmah, in fact, is that of a 
proud and threatening ruin. Her resources exhausted 
beyond what half a century will be sufficient to restore ; 


her population diminished to a frightful extent ; 
stripped of Arracan, of the great delta of the Irra- 
waddy, of the maritime peninsular provinces ; on the 
north and west, driven from Assam, from Cachar, and 
Cassay ; a formidable enemy advanced a third of the 
way to her capital, and possessed of the strong places 
of her conquered and discontented province, the once 
flourishing kingdom of Pegu ; still, this powerful state 
maintains a posture of defiance, assembles fresh 
levies, and seems resolved on trying the fate of arms 
'n another campaign. Whether we reflect upon the 
pertinacity and bravery of the constant attacks made 
on our positions in the vicinity of Rangoon, for at 
least the space of twelve months ; the repetition of the 
contest after every repulse ; the simultaneous struggle 
in the maritime peninsula, tne province of Arracan, 
and the mountains of Cachar and Assam ; the various 
repulses which at times they inflicted on our troops ; 
and the combined arrangements requisite to sustain 
so great a chain of warfare upon the scale that every 
where was exhibited, we must admit the energy and 
power of the Birman empire to have surpassed that 
of any Asiatic state of modern times. 

" Lord Amherst and his advisers certainly," remarks 
a writer in the Quarterly Review, " made a false esti- 
mate of the power and resources of the Birmans, when 
they so hastily determined on the invasion of their 
country. They believed, perhaps, that the military esta- 
blishment was the same now as thirty years ago ; they 
could not have anticipated that one city alone, that of 
Prome, would be found to contain more than one 
hundred pieces of ordnance, and to have been capable, 
had not the Birmese leader been killed or deserted 
by his men, of resisting ten times the force that was 
brought against it. But whatever was the belief as 

EiRMAH. 55 

to the actual state of their fortified towns, and the 
extent of their regular forces, Lord Amherst might 
fairly consider that neither the one nor the other 
could long resist his well-disciplined sepoys, led on by 
the gallantry of British officers. This, however, is 
not a war against the regular army of Birmah ; it 
appears pretty certain, that the Bengal government 
either did not know, or left out of their calculation, 
that the whole Birman population, capable of bearing 
arms, would at once be brought against the invading 
army ; that all the lands in the empire are held on a 
tenure resembling that of the feud ; that a levy of 
100,000 men could, at the shortest notice, be brought 
down to any specified point on the frontier, by means 
of the numerous navigable rivers which intersect the 
country ; and that, in addition to these levies, might 
be brought into operation, along the whole course of 
the Irrawaddy, from 500 to 1000 war-boats, carrying 
each from forty to eighty rowers, with a piece of 
ordnance, a nine or ten-pounder, in the prow, and 
having on board, besides the rowers, twenty or thirty 
men armed with muskets and pikes ; the towns on 
the banks of the rivers being compelled to furnish 
men for these boats. We had very soon proofs of the 
efficacy of these war -boats, when we had taken Ran- 
goon. Several hundred of them were brought down to 
arrest our advance up the river, which, with the aid 
of immense fire-rafts, completely succeeded, for the 
first year of the campaign, in stopping our progress.... 
One thing seems also to have escaped the governor- 
general, that, though sure to conquer the enemy, the 
British troops were by no means so sure of conquering 
the elements ; that the Birmans had only to retreat to 
their strong holds in the mountains, and lay waste 
their towns and villages, which they could rebuild in 


a month, drive the cattle from the plains, and leave 
disease and famine to do the rest, which, with the 
assistance of swamps, jungles, forests, and the rainy 
season, they would speedily and surely accomplish. 
The Birmans did not, however, act thus ; they met 
their foes hravely and resolutely, disputed every foot 
of territory, and checked effectually the progress of 
the invading army, which in twelve months was 
unable to push forward twelve miles. It is greatly to 
be lamented, that, previously to the present hostilities, 
the commander of the British forces had not been 
instructed to try what negotiation might effect, 
instead of rushing into a war, which, splendid as 
may be the achievements, and to whatever results 
they may lead, can confer no advantage on either 
party, and has inflicted a deplorable loss on both." 


THE population of the Birman empire, it will be 
seen from the preceding historical sketch, consists of 
various distinct nations or tribes, differing widely in 
dialect, physiognomy, and customs. Among these 
may be enumerated, 1. The proper Birmans of the 
Irrawaddy or Myamma ; 2. The Talain, or Peguans ; 
3. The Siamese of the conquered provinces ; 4. The 
Kiayn of the western mountains ; 5. The Arracanese 
of the coast ; 6. The Karayn, a tribe of cultivators ; 
7. The Cassayers, or Kathee people. Besides these, 
there are several tribes inhabiting the mountains or 
frontiers, of whom little is known, foreigners of 
various nations, and mixed castes.* Undefined and 

In the sixth volume of the Asiatic Researches, a list is given of 
one hundred and one nations with which the Birmans are ac- 

B1RMAH. 67 

changing as are the boundaries of the empire, it 
seems impossible to ascertain, with any tolerable 

quainted, obtained from an intelligent native. Many of these 
names, however, refer only to cities or towns, others to classes of 
persons, as So-g-e, hermits; and a great number are of unknown 
reference. Those which can be made out are as follow : 

1. Myamma. The Birmans. 

2. Ta-lain. The Peguans. 

3. Yun. The inhabitants of Sayammay or Chiamay (Upper 

Siam) ; the province is called Yun-shan. 

4. Yoo-da-ya. The Siamese of the Mei-nam, corrupted into 

Yoodras, from Yu-thai, the capital. 

5. Sham or Shan. The Siamese subject to Birmah. 
(5. Layn-sayn. The inhabitants of Lower Laos. 

7. ::. Gium and Khiun. Rude tribes in the Sham country. 
9. Dhanu. A rude tribe inhabiting the banks of the Martaban 

10. Karayn. An agricultural class, Peguans, who, as cultivators 

of the soil, are exempted from the Birman conscription 
laws. No. 7, 8, and 9, are also supposed to be Karayn. 

11. La-wa. A numerous tribe, inhabiting the forests east of the 

Martaban river. 

12. Ku-la. Europeans, or Occidentals. 

13. Padeik-kara. A western nation. 

14. Da-way. Inhabitants of Tavoy. 
1"). Ta-nayn-tha-re. Tenasserim. 

1C. Ka-du. A tribe between Martaban and Siam. 

17. Kiayn. Inhabiting the mountains separating Ava from 


18. Ain-jiay. Said to live between Cassay and the Kiayn-duayn. 

19. Ka-thee. Cassay, or Meckley. 

20. Myvan. Inhabiting the hills between Arracan and Chitta- 

gong, called by the Bengalees, Mowong. 

21. Thcek. Inhabiting the east bank of the Naaf river and the 

upper part of the Kurnafoolce or Chatu river, which rises 
in Cachar, and falls into the Chittagong river. 

22. Kien-zout. Said to live near Cassay. 

23. Ta-rout. The Chinese. 

24 Ta-rcek. The Tartars governing China. 

2">. Layn-thock. An independent people bordering on Chink 

probably Lac-tho. 
20, 27. Pft-le and Pa-laung. Inhabitants of the mountains noith- 

east of Ava, who pickle the tea-leaves. 


precision, either the extent of surface or the amount 
of the population. Malte Brun estimates the empire 
at about 1,050 geographical miles in length and 600 
in breadth, and it may probably contain, he thinks, 
194,000 square miles. Colonel Symes rated the popu- 
lation, in 1795, at seventeen millions, while Captain 
Cox sets it down at no more than eight, and Colonel 
Francklin doubts whether it exceeds four. That of 
the capital is estimated at 25,000 houses, or 175,000 
souls. In the valuable Essay on the Birman Empire, 
by the last-mentioned writer, are given some im- 
portant data, which throw considerable light on the 
present question. 

28. Ka-kiayn. A wild people on the Chinese frontier. 

29. Poun-na. The Brahmins. 

30. Pat-ta. The Malays of Acheen. 

31. The-ho. Ceylon. 

32. La-waik. The capital of Cambodia. 

33. Zanda. The capital of Laos is said to be Zandapure. 

34. A-myayn. A Birman city, remarkable for the resemblance 

of its name to that of the country, Mien. 

Dr. Buchanan says, that he always heard Great Britain men- 
tioned at Amarapura under the name of Pyse-gye, the great king- 
dom. The following Birman words are given as often occurring in 
composition : 

Bura, ^ 

Praw I Lord. Applied also to Temples. It seems to answer 

Bhra.' J toBaa1 ' 

Do. A forest. 


Kioup. } A small river. 

Kioum. A monastery. 
Mayn. A prince. 
Mioup. A river. 
Myeet. A great river. 
Myoo. A city or township. 
'O-wa. A port. 
Pyee. A kingdom. 

Tbung. AhilL 


Minderajee-praw, desirous of information on the 
subject, is said to have ordered that every city, town, 
and village in his dominions, including the conquered 
countries, should send one soldier to the Birman 
army. When they were mustered at Amarapura, 
there appeared to be 8000 men. Now, their towns 
and villages, in general, are little more than a strag- 
gling line of bamboo huts along the banks of the 
Irrawaddy, or a double row lining a road of communi- 
cation, and the whole of these 8000 towns do not 
average more than 150 or 200 houses each. Taking 
the largest statement, or 200, it will make the num- 
ber of houses in the Birman dominions amount to 
1,600,000, and reckoning seven persons to a house, 
will give a population of 11,200,000 souls; a very 
scanty population for so extended a territory, and not 
above one half are in a state of firm allegiance. It is 
stated, moreover, that the proportion of women to 
men is as ten to six, and in some cases, four to one. 
This enormous disproportion is accounted for by their 
incessant wars ; for, on the strictest inquiry, Colonel 
Francklin says, he pretty well ascertained that the 
births of females do not exceed those of males. 
Reckoning 6,000,000, then, for the effective popula- 
tion, this will give only 1,500,000 males ; and making 
from these the usual deductions for all persons 
under fifteen and above fifty years of age, it may be 
assumed that there are not more than 375,000 men 
capable of bearing arms, were even the country to 
rise en masse. His Birman majesty has no stand- 
ing land force, except a few undisciplined native 
Christians and renegadoes of all descriptions, who act 
as artillery, a small body of Cassay cavalry, not ex- 
ceeding a hundred, and perhaps about two thousand 
ill-armed infantry. His armies are composed of levies, 


raised, on the spur of the occasion, by the tee-kiens 
(princes), chobwas (tributary chiefs), and great lords, 
who hold their lands by military tenure, and are 
liable to be assessed according to the emergency of 
their sovereign. In Birmah, every man is liable to 
be called upon for his military services, and war is 
deemed the most honourable profession. When an 
army is to be raised, a mandate issues from the golden 
palace to all maywoons (viceroys) and miou-jees 
(heads of districts), requiring a certain number of 
men to be at a general rendezvous on a particular day. 
As soon as the imperial mandate is issued, Colonel 
Francklin says, " the jugghiredaur (or governor) in. 
trigues and employs all his art and interest to get the 
number reduced ; hence, various delays and obstruc- 
tions to the public service. When his quota is finally 
fixed, he proceeds to his jugghire, and gives the like 
orders to the mewdhagees (zemindars), but exceeding 
the proportion established by the court, that he may 
pocket the commutation for the difference. The 
mewdhagees strive to abate their respective propor- 
tions, and impose on the inhabitants from the same 
corrupt motives ; and the inhabitants, in like manner, 
strive to avoid part of the imposed burthen ; so that 
the whole country is thrown into commotion, business 
is neglected, and many of the poorer class flee to the 
jungles, or totally abandon their country, in order to 

avoid these impositions, of which there is no end 

They travel by land in squads to the place of general 
rendezvous, at their own expense, or are transported 
in boats, put in requisition by his majesty's officers. 
Every thing wanted for his majesty's service is im- 
pressed or put in a state of requisition, without the 
smallest indemnification. Captain Cox saw strings of 
these miserable recruits, boys under age and decrepit 


old men, inarching from Arracan to Amarapoorah, in 
particular at Pegaan, as he was coming down the 
river : they had been six weeks marching so far. 
Another oppressive part of the Birman policy is, that 
men for the defence of the eastern frontier, are 
drafted from the west, those for the defence of the 
southern, from the north, and vice versa, in order to 
secure their fidelity."* 

The levy is calculated according to the population 
of the province or district, estimated from the number 
of registered houses that it contains. Should the 
number of any allotted district fall short, they must 
l<e commuted for by fines. Commonly, every two, 
three, or four houses are to furnish among them one 
recruit, or to pay 300 tecals in money (about 40/. or 
451.} The recruit is obliged to furnish himself with 
a short spear, sword, and target : he is supplied b} 
Government with a musket, for which, however, he 
pays ten tecals, and is accountable for it at the end of 
the war. He has an allowance of grain, but no pay, 
and subsists chiefly by marauding. The families of 
these conscripts are carefully retained in the district, 
as hostages for the good conduct of their relations ; 
and any misconduct on his part, or desertion, inva- 
riably proves the destruction of all his family, who 
are put into a straw hut and burnt alive : many 
dreadful examples of this kind have recently occurred. 
This national regulation binds all classes to their 
standards under every emergency, and serves in some 
degree to account for the obstinacy of their resistance. 
The cavalry, who compose the king's guards, are pro- 
vided with a spear about seven or eight feet long, 
which they manage with great dexterity. All the 

* Asiat. Journal, vol. xix. p. 8. 


troopers are Cassayers, who are much better horse- 
men than the Birmans. Although the Birmans are 
very fond of their muskets, the fire-arms are almost 
useless, and certainly, in their present imperfect state, 
are much less formidable than their national weapons, 
the sabre and spear. But the most respectable part of 
the Birman force is their war -boats (tee-lees}. Every 
town is obliged to furnish a certain proportion of men 
and one or more boats, according to its population, 
and 500 of these vessels can in a short time be equip- 
ped. They are constructed of the trunk of the teak- 
tree. The largest are from 80 to 100 feet long, but 
the" breadth seldom exceeds eight feet. They carry 
from fifty to sixty rowers, who use short oars that 
work on a spindle. The prow is solid, and has a flat 
surface, on which is mounted a piece of ordnance, a 
six, nine, or even twelve-pounder, secured by strong 
lashings on each side. Each rower has a sword and 
lance ; and besides the boatmen, there are usually 
thirty soldiers on board, armed with muskets. Thus 
prepared, they sail in fleets, and draw up in line, 
presenting their prows to the enemy. Their attack 
is extremely impetuous ; they advance with great 
rapidity, singing a war song, and generally endeavour 
to grapple when the contest becomes very severe. 
The rowers are practised to impel the vessel with the 
stern foremost, by which means the artillery still 
bears on their enemies. The largest of the war-boats 
do not draw more than three feet of water. When 
any person of rank is on board, there is a moving 
canopy, but gilded boats are allowed only to maywoons, 
whoongees (ministers of state), or the princes. These 
war-boats, Colonel Francklin says, are the most re- 
spectable part of the Birman force in a military point 
of view ; but they live chiefly by rapine, and are in a 


constant state of hostility against the rest of the 
people, which makes them audacious and prompt to 
execute any orders, however cruel or violent. It is 
supposed that the emperor can muster from two 
to three hundred of those boats. 

" A Birman," adds Colonel Francklin, " is seldom 
any thing else than a government servant, a soldier, 
boatman, husbandman, or labourer. All their best 
artificers are foreigners." His account of their cha- 
racter is very unfavourable. " The Birman court 
appears to me," he says, " an assembly of clowns, 
who have neither improved their manners nor their 
sincerity by their transposition : they have retained 
their native chicane and vicious propensities, and have 
not acquired the blandishments of polish to veil the 
deformities of vice, or expansion of mind to check ks 
domination. To their superiors, the Birmans are 
abjectly submissive ; towards strangers, audacious and 
ungrateful ; in power, rapacious and cruel ; in war, 
treacherous and ferocious ; in their dealings, litigious 
and faithkgs ; in appetite, insatiable and avaricious ; 
in habit, lazy ; in their ideas, persons, houses, and 
food, obscenely filthy below any thing I had ever seen 
that has claims to humanity.* It must not be denied 
that they have brutal courage, but it tends to debase, 
rather than to exalt them ; it is irregular, uncertain, 
and not to be depended upon. They are strict ob- 
servers of the ceremonial parts of their religion, cha- 
ritable to their priests and the poor ; in the country, 

In their food, the Birmans are very uncleanly. Being fond of 
animal food, but restricted by their religion from killing, (venison 
is the only meat permitted to be sold in the markets of the empire, 
a privilege allowed to hunters,) they will partake of any putrid or 
diseased carcase. All game is eagerly sought for. Reptiles, lizards, 
guanas, and snakes are devoured by the lower classes. 


I am told, hospitable and not vindictive ; superstitious, 
addicted to magic (and alchemy) ; cheerful, patient 
under sufferings, hardy, frugal to penuriousness in 
their diet, and affectionate parents. They would 
make good soldiers in the hands of a skilful general, 
and perhaps good subjects under a virtuous magis- 
trate ; but, unhappily, their present government seems 
adapted only to exalt their vices and depress their 

Cunning is, among all the worshippers of Buddha, 
esteemed a virtue ; and in their sacred books, the most 
abominable exemplifications of this attribute in Guadma 
are cited as laudable actions. The deeply-rooted opi- 
nion, that address in stealing ranks as an accomplish- 
ment next to valour, prevails all over the East, not 
only in the Buddhic states, but in Hindostan and 
Egypt ; and the Spartan legislator only borrowed his 
laws from institutes still existing among the mountain 
tribes of Asia. Thus, among the wild mountaineers 
to the north-east of Chittagong, whatever property a 
thief can convey undiscovered to his own house, can- 
not afterwards be claimed : if detected, he is no other- 
wise punished than by being exposed to the ridicule 
of the village, and being obliged to restore what he 
has taken. The idea seems to be, that the address 
and dexterity shewn by the successful thief, would 
equally qualify the warrior. So thought Lycurgus. 

Mrs. Judson gives a somewhat more pleasing cha- 
racter of the Birmans. She describes them as " a 
lively, industrious, and energetic race, further ad- 
vanced in civilisation than most of the Eastern nations. 
They are frank and candid, and destitute of that 
pusillanimity which distinguishes the Hindoos, and of 
that revengeful malignity which is a leading trait in 
the Malay character. Some of their men are powerful 


logicians, and take delight in investigating new sub- 
jects. Their books ai-e numerous, some of them 
written in the most flowing, beautiful style and much 
ingenuity is manifested in the construction of their 
stories."* Dr. Buchanan asserts that they possess 
numerous historical works relating to the different 
dynasties of their princes, the most celebrated of which 
is the Maha-rajah-waynjee already referred to. They 
have also translated histories of the Chinese and Siam- 
ese, and of the kingdoms of Kathee, Koshan-pyee, Pegu, 
Sammay, and Layn-zayn. On medicine, the Birmans 
have several books : they divide diseases into ninety- 
six genera. Mummy is a favourite article in their 
pharmacopoeia. They are acquainted with the use of 
mercury, but their remedies are mostly from the 
vegetable kingdom, and chiefly of the aromatic kind. 
Their practice is almost entirely empirical, and in 
spite of every mode of indirect influence and preten- 
sion, the medical class is in low estimation. ] 

The Birman language appeai-s originally to have 
been purely monosyllabic, but it has borrowed largely 
from the Pali, and has formed many polysyllables from 
its monosyllabic roots, according to the analogies of that 

* Judson's Account of the American Baptist Mission to the Bir- 
inan Empire, p. 4. 

t One curious custom of the Birman physicians may be men- 
tioned here. If a young woman is dangerously ill, the doctor and 
her parents frequently enter into an agreement, the doctor under- 
taking to cure her. If she lives, the doctor takes her as his pro- 
perty ; but if she dies, he pays her value to the parents : for, in 
the Birman dominions, no parent parts with his daughter, whethei 
to be a wife or a concubine, without a valuable consideration. 
" I do not know," adds Dr. Buchanan, " if the doctor may sell 
the girl again, or must retain her in his family ; but the number of 
fine young women which I saw in the house of a doctor at Meaday, 
makes me think the practice to be very common." Asiat. Res., 
vol. vi. p. 304. 



language. It has no inflexions, and depends almost 
entirely on juxta-position for the relative value of its 
words. Its pronouns and particles are peculiar, its 
idioms few and simple, its metaphors of the most 
obvious kind, hut it is copious in terms expressive of 
rank and dignity ; and the rank of the speaker is in- 
dicated by the peculiar phraseology which he employs. 
Repetitions of the same turn and expression are affected, 
rather than shunned ; and a sententious brevity and 
naked simplicity of phrase are the greatest beauties 
of which the language admits. Too little is known 
of the Indo-Chinese languages to enable us to deter- 
mine what resemblances may exist between them, but 
hitherto it has been considered as having no decided 
affinity to any except the Arracanese.* From the 
large portion of Pali which has become incorporated 
with it, so as to affect even its structure, it may be 
considered as the link between the poly syllabic^ and^ the 
monosyllabic languages of India and China, -f- 

* Among the various dialects of the Birman empire, Dr. Bu- 
chanan mentions one that is spoken by a small tribe called Yo, 
(and by the Arracanese Ro,) who inhabit the eastern side of the 
Arracan mountains, governed by chiefs of their own, but tributary 
to the Birmans. There are four governments of this nation. This 
dialect is, in fact, only a slight variation of the Ruk-hing, which 
it approaches much nearer than the Birman. The people of Tenas- 
serim and Tavoy also speak a peculiar dialect; but, as the ma- 
jority of the words in common use among them are to be found in 
the Birman writings, they are reckoned to use an obsolete dialect, 
rather than a peculiar language. See Asiat. Res., voL v. p. 224 ; 
vol. x. p. 236. 

t " The greater part of my time, for the last six months," says 
Mr. Judson, " has been occupied in studying and transcribing, in 
alphabetical arrangement, the Pali Abigdan, or dictionary of the 
Pali language, affixing to the Pali words the interpretation in 
Birman, and again transferring the Birman words to a dictionary 
Birman and English. With the close of the year I have brought 
thu tedious work to a close; and J find that the number of Pali 


The Binnans write from left to right, like the 
Europeans. Their common books are leaves of the 
Palmyra palm, strung together, on which they engrave 
their writing with an iron style. Others are formed 
of thin pieces of bamboo delicately plaited and var- 
nished, the surface being gilded, on which the cha- 
racters are marked in black and shining Japan ink. 
The margins are often very prettily illuminated in 
red and green colours. In their more elegant books, 
they sometimes use sheets of ivory stained black, on 
which the characters are enamelled or gilded, the 
margins being also ornamented with gilding; or at 
other times, very fine white Palmyra leaves, on which 
the characters are in general of black enamel, and the 
ends of the leaves and margins are ornamented with 
flowers painted in various bright colours. As there 
are but few of the Birmans who do not both read and 
write, almost every man, Dr. Buchanan says, carries 
with him a parucek, in which he keeps his accounts, 
copies songs, and transcribes any thing he deems 
curious. " It is in these paruceks that the zares, or 

words collected amounts to about 4000. The constant occurrence 
of Pali terms in every Birman book has made it absolutely neces- 
sary." A considerable number of words in common use, and a 
very great proportion of theological terms, are of Pali origin, 
although the two languages are entirely distinct. Some knowledge 
of the learned language is therefore indispensable to the acquisition 
of a perfect knowledge of the Birman. See JUDSON'S Account, 
pp. 159, 61. One great impediment to attaining a critical know- 
ledge of the idiom of both the Birman and the Rukhing, is, that 
there is no regular standard of orthography, or the smallest trace 
of attention to grammatical inquiry among these nations. Every 
writing that has hitherto come under observation, not excepting 
even official documents, has been found full of the grossest inac- 
curacies. l*he priests are the only persons conversant with the 
Pali, and few even among them are celebrated for either the ex- 
tent or accuracy of their knowledge. Asiat, Res., vol. v. p. 236. 


writers, in all courts and public offices, take down the 
proceedings and orders, from thence copying such 
parts as are necessary into more durable books. The 
paruoek is made of one sheet of thick and strong paper, 
blackened, about 8 feet long and 18 inches wide ; it is 
folded up somewhat like a fan, each fold or page being 
about six inches wide, and its length the whole breadth 
of the sheet : hence, wherever the book is opened, 
whichever side is uppermost, no part of it can be 
rubbed but the two outer pages; and it only occupies a 
table one foot in width by 18 inches long. The 
Birmans write on the paruoek with a pencil of steatites. 
When in haste, the ssares use many contractions, and 
write with wonderful quickness. I have seen them 
keep up with an officer dictating and not speaking 
very slow. But when they take pains, the characters 
written in the paruoek are remarkably neat. Indeed, 
this nation, like the Chinese, pique themselves very 
much on writing an elegant and distinct character. 
When that which has been written on a paruoek be- 
comes no longer useful, the pages are rubbed over 
with charcoal, and the leaves of a species of dolichos ; 
they are then as clean as if new, and equally fit for 
the pencil." * 

All the boys in the empire are taught by the priests, 
who are dependent for their support on the contribu- 
tions of the people ; but no attention is given to female 
education, excepting in a few instances among the 
higher classes, f The boys are taught to read and write 
by means of boards blackened with charcoal and the 
juice of a leaf, which answers the same purpose as our 
slates, and the letters are formed by a species of white 
stone, a little similar to our slate-pencils. A lesson is 

* Asiat. Res., vol. vi. p. 307. t Judson, p. 5. 


written out on this board by the instructor : when 
the scholar is perfect master of it, it is erased, and a 
new one written. 

The Birmans are extremely fond both of poetry and 
of music. They call the former yeddoo. When repeated 
by a scholar, it flows soft and measured to the ear j 
it is sometimes in successive, and often in alternate 
rhymes. A line is called tagioung, a stanza tubbouk. 
They have epic as well as religious poems of high 
celebrity, and they are fond of reciting in heroic verse 
the exploits of their kings and generals.* Music is a 
science held in high estimation. Although termed, 
in India as in Greece, the language of the gods, it is 
cultivated more generally in Birmah. The royal 
library of Amarapura is said to contain several treatises 
on the art. Some of the musicians display considerable 
skill and execution, and the softer airs are said to be 
very pleasing. -f- Among the principal instruments is a 

* " It has been said, that his present majesty has a person of 
poetic talents, on whom he bestows his royal patronage, and who, 
in return, delights the ' precious ear ' with the measured lines of 

his own composition Prose works are commonly read, as well 

as poetry, and are some of them works of fiction, and others reli- 
gious. Of the latter kind, the Dzat and Woottoo, or those books 
which illustrate the influence of merit and demerit, are most exten- 
sively read. Historical works are scarce, and therefore but little 
read. Few individuals have the means or the opportunity of col- 
lecting private libraries." HOUGH on the Manners of the Burmese. 
Friend of India, No. xii. p. 12. 

t " In the music of the Burmese," the Rev. Mr. Hough says, 
" there is far more noise than harmony. They make use of 
wind and stringed instruments, brass plates of different tones, 
and drums of various sizes. For the sake of noise, they will ac- 
company the instrumental music by striking together two pieces of 
split bamboo on the palms of their hands. They are evidently un- 
acquainted with the nature of tones and harmony, all their airs 
being wild, irregular, and discordant." Friend of India, No. xii. 
p. 11. In founding these brass musical plates, they must be allowed 
to shew considerable art. Their tones are exceedingly fine, sur- 

70 HI KM AH. 

soum or harp, made of light wood, hollowed and var- 
nished, in shape somewhat like a canoe with a deck : at 
the extremity, a piece of hard wood is neatly fastened, 
which tapers to the end, and rising, curves over the 
body of the harp ; from this curvature, the strings, 
usually made of wire, are extended to a hridge on the 
belly of the instrument. There are two sounding, 
holes, one on each side of the bridge. It varies from 
two to five feet in length. The turr resembles our violin, 
but has only three strings ; it is played on with a bow. 
The pullaway is a common flageolet. The kye-zoup is 
a collection of cymbals suspended in a bamboo frame, 
producing modulated gradations of sounds : they vary in 
size and number. The patola, or guitar, is a curious 
instrument, exactly resembling a crocodile in miniature : 
the body is hollow, with sounding -holes on the back ; 
three strings of wire extend from the shoulder to the 
tail, and are supported on bridges at each extremity. 
The strings are tuned by means of pegs in the tail, 
to which they are fastened ; it is played on by the 
finger, and accompanies the voice. The loundaw is a 
collection of drums, oblong in form and varying in 
size, which are suspended perpendicularly, in a wooden 
frame, by leathern thongs. The whole machine is 
about five feet in diameter and four feet high. They 
accompany full bands, and are used in processions, be- 
ing carried by two men, while the performer shuffles 
along between them, playing as he goes. The heem is 
the pipe of Pan, of reeds neatly joined together, with 
a mouth-piece : it produces a very plaintive melody.* 

passing the finest bells in power and sweetness, and the vibration is 
prolonged to an astonishing degree. Plates of this description are 
worn by the priests, suspended to the neck, and arc used as bells. 

* Dr. Buchanan purchased a whole set of these musical instru- 
ments for 54 tecttls (between five and six guineas). 


The Birmans are cheerful and fond of music : not 
a boatman of the crew, Col. Symes observes, but had 
some instrument to beguile the hours ; and he who 
could procure no better, had what we call a Jew's 
harp. They greatly excel in the art of gently striking 
masses of metal so as to elicit the most melodious and 
ringing sounds. 

The ancient game of chess, called chit-tha-reen, is 
in high estimation among the higher classes. Their 
board is exactly the same as ours, containing sixty- 
four squares, and the pieces are the same in num. 
her, sixteen on each side, but vary very consider- 
ably from ours in power. They have the king 
and his minister on two elephants, (a piece with the 
power of the queen is unknown among them,) two 
rut-ha or war-chariots, two chein or elephants, two 
mhee or cavalry, and eight yein or foot troops. 
Each party is arranged on three lines, so that eight 
squares are left unoccupied ; and the whole scheme is 
rendered more complex than ours. The game is of 
very high antiquity among them, and is even autho- 
rised by their sacred writings, although every play of 
chance is prohibited. 

The Birmans, like the Chinese, have no coin, silver 
in bullion and lead being the current monies of the 
country. Weight and purity are of course the standard 
of value : in the ascertainment of both, the natives 
are exceedingly scrupulous and expert. The tecal or 
kiat is the most general piece of silver in circulation : 
it weighs 10 pennyweights, 10 grains, and f. Its 
subdivisions are, the tubbee^ two of which make one 
moo, two TTioo one math, four math one tecal, and 100 
tecal one visa. Weights are all made at the capital, 
where they are stamped, and then circulated through 


the country : all others are forbidden. Rice is sold by 
a measure called tayndaung, or basket : the weight is 
16 viss (about 561bs). 

The Birmah measures of length are, a paul-ghaut, 
or inch, 18 of which compose the taim or cubit ; the 
saundaung, or royal cubit, of 20 inches ; and the dha, 
or bamboo, which consists of seven royal cubits = 11 feet 
8 inches : 1000 dha make one Birman league, or dain, 
nearly equal to two miles two furlongs, British. The 
league is also subdivided into tenths. The Birmans. 
like the Chinese, keep their accounts in decimals. 

In their physiognomy, the Birmans bear a nearer 
resemblance to the Chinese, than to the natives of 
Hiiidostan. The women are fairer than the Hindoo 
females, but not so delicately formed ; they are, how. 
ever, well made, and in general inclined to corpulence ; 
their hair is black, coarse, and long. The men are 
not tall, but active and athletic, and have a very youth- 
ful appearance, from the custom of plucking their 
beards. In their temperament, which is lively, cho- 
leric, and restless, they present a striking contrast to 
the languid inactivity of the Hindoos. Dr. Buchanan 
describes them as of a short, squat, robust, fleshy 
make, with a face somewhat in shape of a lozenge, the 
forehead and chin being sharpened, while at the cheek- 
bones it is very broad. The eye-brows or superciliary 
ridges project very little ; the eyes are very narrow, 
and placed rather obliquely, the external angles being 
the highest ; the nose is small, but has not the flat- 
tened appearance of that feature in the negro; 
the nostrils, circular and divergent ; the mouth in 
general well shaped ; the hair harsh, lank, and black. 
Those who reside in the warmest climate do not 
acquire the deep hue of the negro or Hindoo ; nor do 


such as live in the coldest countries ever acquire the 
clear bloom of the European.* In common with all 
the Indo-Chinese races, in their shape and stature, 
square features, elongated eyes, yellow complexion, 
and lank locks, they bear a strong resemblance to the 
Mongol tribes. The Birmans have a tradition, that 
a colony of Mongols once arrived in their country, 
amounting in number to 700,000 men capable of 
bearing arms.f Such traditions, however, serve only 
to prove, that the original stock of these nations must 
have occupied these regions from time immemorial. 

In Indo- China, as in Hindostan and in Egypt, re- 
mains of an indigenous race, of widely different 
character, are found occupying the recesses of the 
mountain ridges which stretch throughout the whole 
empire. Among these, one of the most remarkable 
are the Kiayns or Kayns, who extend over the moun- 
tainous and woody tract lying between Bengal, 
Arracan, Ava, and Cassay. They call themselves 
Koloun. Many of them, since the conquest of Arracan 
by the Birmans, have been induced to quit the moun- 
tains, and settle in the plains. " They speak a dialect 
peculiar to themselves, and appear distinct from all 
the surrounding tribes. They are remarkable for 
simple, honest industry and inoffensive manners, ac- 
companied by the rudest notions respecting religion. 
They have no idea of a place of future reward and 
punishment, and deny the existence of sin in their 
country. They burn their dead, and collect the ashes, I 
which, after certain ceremonies, are carried to a place 

* Asiat. Res., vol. v. p. 220. 

t Probably this refers to the conquest of Mien by the great khan, 
mentioned by Marco Polo. 

I This is a Tatar custom, and still prevails among the people of 
Tibet and in Yun-nan. P. GerbiJJon says, that even the Chinese 
sometimes adopt it. See MARSDEN'S Marco Polo, note 328, 

PART 1 I. F 


of interment, and on the sod which covers them is 
laid a wooden image of the deceased. They believe 
that their deity resides on the great mountain Gnowa, 
which the Birmans have never yet invaded. When a 
Kayn dies within the jurisdiction of the Birmans, the 
relations of the deceased always convey the urn and 
image of the departed person to this mountain, there 
to be deposited in the sacred earth. These people 
have no letters, nor any law except custom, to which 
the Birmans leave them, never interfering in their 
municipal or social economy. The females of this 
tribe have their faces tattoed all over in lines, mostly 
describing segments of circles, which give them a most 
extraordinary and hideous appearance."* 

The Carayns, Karaian, or Carianers, are another 
singular people. They are supposed to be originally 
from the province of Yun-nan, but are now widely 
scattered over the empire. Col. Symes, on the autho- 
rity of a respectable Italian missionary, represents 
them as " a simple, innocent race, speaking a language 
distinct from that of the Birmans, and entertaining 
rude notions of religion. They lead quite a pastoral 
life, and are the most industrious subjects of the state. 
Agriculture, the care of cattle, and rearing poultry, 
are almost their only occupations. A great part of the 
provisions used in the country is raised by the Carian- 
ers; and they particularly excel in gardening." Dr. 
Buchanan adds, that they have sufficient knowledge 
of the useful arts to manufacture comfortable, and 
even handsome clothing, f They are a peaceable people, 
disinclined to war, and it is universally agreed, that 

* Symes, Buchanan, &c. in Hamilton's Gazetteer. 

t Col. Francklin, speaking of the Binnans generally, says, " To 
their women alone must be ascribed the merit of weaving and dye- 
ing." Col. Symes, on visiting the queen mother, saw the females 
in the palace busily engaged at the loom. 


their morals are good ; but, like the Kiayns, if, 
indeed, they are not the same people, they have 
no laws, are wholly illiterate, and, though they be- 
lieve in a future state, have no notion of its being a 
state of retribution.* Whether these Tibetian tribes 
are aboriginal inhabitants, older than the Birmans, 
or remains of Chinese colonists, their affinity to the 
Tartar tribes is obvious and decided. Many of their 
customs attach equally, however, to the Birmans, as 
will be seen from the following valuable account of 
the manners and customs of the Birmans, by the Rev. 
G. H. Hough, some time resident in that empire, for 
which we are indebted to a recent number of " The 
Friend of India," published at Serampore in Bengal. 

" There is perhaps no country in the world, in which 
the sway of despotism has been less controlled by any 
correct feeling or sentiment, or which exhibits a 
stronger specimen of its injurious effects upon the 
physical and moral powers of mankind, than the Birman 
dominions. . . . The obstacles to mental and moral im- 
provement there, however, are neither so numerous 
nor so formidable as those which have presented them- 
selves in India. 

" Caste, which has separated the Indian community 
into so many diversified sects, and the motto of which 
is, ' taste not, handle not,' has no existence in the 
Birman empire. There, society is founded on a basis 
that would admit the existence of the most liberal 

* Asiat. Res., vol. vi. p. 300. In Marsden's Marco Polo, (note 
826, ) the learned editor cites P. Gaubil and De Guignes as autho- 
rities for the opinion, that Karaian is the north-western part of 
the province of Yun-nan, which is bounded in great measure by 
the Kiu-sha-kiang. Its capital is said to have been Yachi ( Ye-chu 
or Yao-cheu), afterwards changed to Tali-fu, on the western bank 
of the lake Siul. Karazan or Kalashan is either the same pro- 
vince or another district of Yun-nan, further westward. 


institutions. There, no individual, through fear of 
personal defilement, is deterred from acting in every 
ease according to those rules which secure entire free- 
dom of intercourse between man and man. While, in 
many other countries, official rank, wealth, and re- 
spectability of character, create the only lines of dis- 
tinction, the path to honour and influence is here 
equally open to all, without the least distinction. 

" The priests have their religious peculiarities; but 
even these have no relation to caste. These peculiari- 
ties are seen in their monastic habits, their yellow 
apparel, their shaven heads, their unshod feet, their 
sober, meditative demeanour, and in their morning 
perambulations to receive the voluntary contributions 
of the people. Their monasteries may be considered 
as the literary as well as the religious institutions of 
the country. Into these, without restricting them- 
selves to any limited term, young men in their novici- 
ate enter, considering it as a merit which will hereafter 
meet its sure reward, to deny themselves indulgences 
enjoyed by other men, to assume the yellow cloth, to 
deprive the head of that ornament which nature has 
bestowed, to taste the fancied sweets of abstraction, 
and employ their minds in committing to memory 
extracts from the books they esteem sacred. The age 
or previous character of candidates for the priesthood, 
forms no objection to their admittance. Present in- 
tention is the only subject of investigation, and this 
is done by an established catechetical form. Persons 
of all ages, from the mere youth to the hoary head, 
assume the sacred habiliments and character: even 
conjugal and paternal affection are not unfrequently 
smothered by the superstitious wish of self-consecration 
to this sacred order. To reject a wife and family, to 
abandon them to distress and suffering, are esteemed 


acts of religion in any individual who wishes to enter 
it ; and his thus doing is deemed an eminent attain- 
ment in piety, and a meritorious result of self-denial. 
It is related that Gautama, the last Boudh, in one of 
his incarnations, while heir-apparent to the throne, 
not only suffered banishment to a remote and solitary 
place for giving away a white elephant; but, during 
the term of his expiation, attained to such an eminent 
degree of self-denial, as to yield up first his son and 
daughter to slavery, and then his wife to the impor- 
tunities of another. 

" The priests perform no labour, except what is 
considered as particularly meritorious, and this consists 
in eradicating the grass and shrubs which sprout up 
around their monasteries and pagodas. They never 
ride on horseback, nor eat after the sun has passed 
the meridian. Such is their reverence for the yellow 
cloth which covers their bodies, that they view it as 
disgraceful to pass underneath any building, or convey 
themselves through any aperture, while to do so even 
by bending the head, would save them the trouble of 
avoiding any obstruction in their path. They restrain 
their minds from all attachment to the fair sex; and 
no female ventures to approach a priest, unless to per- 
form some religious duty, or to present some pious 
offering. Their public duties consist of recitations 
from the Dzats, said to be revelations of Gautama re- 
lating to his own history throughput his previous 
transmigrations, in which the consequences of works 
of merit and demerit are illustrated by his own per- 
sonal example ; and in repeating extracts from other 
writings esteemed sacred, which tend to enforce the 
duties of morality as taught in their system of religion. 
On days of public worship, they edify their congre- 
gations, which assemble in zayats (or sheds) contiguous 


to some pagoda of importance, by repeating their 
liturgy or form of religious service, when the auditory 
evince their devotion by their humble posture, by ele- 
vating their hands with the pakns united, and by 
regular responses. The priests affect the most entire 
disinterestedness in the discharge of their sacred 
functions ; but their worldly wants are always amply 
supplied, and they uniformly receive the tribute of a 
reverential public. Even their monasteries are not 
approached or passed with the feet covered. Many of 
them are learned in the Pali or Magudha, but the 
great majority exhibit evident marks of mental sloth 
and inanity. 

" The sacred writings of the Birmans are reported 
to have been transcribed in the most miraculous man- 
ner, in one day, from the original copies first put 
into a legible form by yahans (rahaans), or priests, on 
the island of Thee-ho (Ceylon), nearly 400 years 
after the supposed annihilation of Guatama, and about 
a century previous to the Christian era.* These 
writings, embracing every science, natural and reli- 
gious, within the scope of their author's reputed 
universal and infallible knowledge, amount to some 
thousands. Few of them are read by the priests, and 
fewer still by the reading part of the public. The 
middling and lower classes of society are content with 
knowing little more of the principles of their religion 
than what is ascertained from the public ritual. This 
announces the three grand objects of religious homage ; 

* There is a tradition among the Cingalese, that one of the 
kings of Hindostan, immediately after Boodhu's death, collected 
together 500 learned ascetics, and persuaded them to write down 
on palmyra leaves, from the mouth of one of Boodhu's principal 
disciples, all the doctrines taught by Boodhu in his life-time." 
WARD'S View of the Hindoos, vol. ii. p. 211. 


God (or his substitute, a pagoda or image) ; Fate, or 
the immutable law or course of things; and the 
Priesthood. The fundamental moral precepts are 
five, and are merely prohibitory : they forbid the de- 
struction of animal life, theft, lying, adultery, and 
drinking ardent spirits. The doctrine of transmigra- 
tion is most firmly believed, and also the final anni- 
hilation of animal life, and the destruction of material 
substances. Every thing is mutable but fate, which 
is eternal; and while that ordains the final destruc- 
tion of present things, it has provided that another 
material universe shall of itself necessarily arise, and 
thus successively, ad infimtum. Even their God is the 
subject of merit or demerit; he has undergone incar- 
nations as beast, as man, and as a celestial being; he 
has been repeatedly punished millions of years in hell, 
has enjoyed ages of sensual happiness in the Nat 
country, and is now in Niekbaan, or annihilation. 

"The Birmans, considering the moral features of 
their religious system, and their being surrounded 
with objects of misery, both among beasts and their 
own species, which they are taught to contemplate as 
the effects of retributive justice awarded by irresistible 
and unmerciful fate, ought to be a pious and orderly 
race of men. In this respect, however, little can be 
said in their favour. Of their religious character it 
may be observed, that while it exhibits little of per- 
sonal concern and anxiety, and appears to be unmixed 
with enthusiasm, it manifests on all occasions a suf- 
ficently conspicuous faith in the religion of their 
country. The religion, being national, is therefore 
popular, and every appearance of dissent is deemed to 
present just cause for criminal prosecution. The 
Birmans do not appear to be so deeply impressed with 
cordial regard for their religion, as with the duty of 


conformity. They exhibit, in matters of religion, 
just that state of mind and that exterior deportment 
which might be expected from a people, among whom 
secular authority claims dominion over the free exer- 
cise of conscience. The despot of the realm by one 
word could annihilate Boodhism, with all its monu- 
mental memorials and imagery, and with the same 
ease could ordain the observance of a new religion. 

"The days of public worship are pointed out by 
the change, the first quarter, the full, and the last 
quarter of the moon.* Those of the full and new 
moon are observed with more general attention. The 
grand annual festival happens at the beginning of their 
year, about March. During three days, religious 
prostrations, music and dancing, masquerades, pugil- 
ism, throwing water upon one another, puppet-shows, 
and comic scenes, make up the festive jumble. Reli- 
gious duties consist in building pagodas and ornament- 
ing them with gold leaf; in forming large and small 
images of Gautama; in erecting monasteries, zayats, 
and bridges; in digging tanks; in supporting the 
priesthood by donations of food, cloth, &c. ; in pro- 
strations before pagodas and images, and in presenting 
before them lighted candles, clusters of flowers, um- 
brellas of various descriptions, rice, and fruits; in 
erecting high poles, and suspending long flags on their 
tops ; in casting bells, and hanging them near their 
pagodas ; or contributing to any of these objects ; in 
attention to the recitations of the priests, and when- 
ever an offering is made, expressing a wish that the 
merits of it may be enjoyed. The use of the bells is, 
to proclaim to the celestial regions the fact of present- 

The four quarters of the moon are, in like manner, festival 
days among the Cingalese. 


ing an offering; and the person who thus announces 
the fact, is both worshipper and bellman. 

" Nearly allied to the religion of the Birmans are 
their superstitious ideas. They have their fortunate 
and unfortunate days, and no affair of importance is 
undertaken without consulting astrologers. The par- 
ticular day and hour, with the position of the planets, 
are carefully observed on the birth of a child. A man's 
fortune may be read on the lines of the palm of his 
hand. They believe in the. existence of evil spirits, 
ghosts, and witches, in demoniacal possessions, and the 
use of charms. According to their ideas, the cholera 
morbus has been several times expelled from Rangoon 
by the noise produced by the simultaneous discharge 
of cannons and muskets, and beating the houses with 
bamboos. In the year 1823, when the cholera was 
extensively fatal, the supreme court at Ava issued an 
order that the inhabitants should wear the title of the 
heir apparent, written on a small slip of paper, in the 
hole of the lobe of their ears, as an infallible specific 
against the effects of that destructive demon.* If a 
vulture perch upon a house, some awful calamity 
threatens its inhabitants, and they immediately aban- 
don it. The doctrine of transmigration leads them 
into the absurdity of propitiating their future destiny 

* Capt. Cox relates a disgusting instance of this medical super- 
stition. A criminal's body was exposed above ground, pinned to 
the earth, and left to rot, " The king's doctor cut off the tip of 
his nose, ears, lips, tongue, and fingers, which, with some of his 
blood, is to form a compound in some medicine of wonderful 
efficacy in insuring longevity and prosperity to those who are so 
happy as to obtain a portion of it from his majesty's bounty. This 
is one of the palace nostrums, of which there are many others 
equally mystic in the preparation, and wonderful in the operation. 
These his majesty occasionally dispenses to the credulous multi- 
tude." Cox's Journal, p. 342. 

F 2 


by offerings of food to animals : a deceased friend may 
thus be nourished in the form of a four-footed or 
feathered animal, and, in some future period of ex- 
istence, the good deed be repaid with ample interest. 
Carved images of the most ridiculous shapes are to be 
seen in many places, the supposed representatives of 
different nats or demons. Astrologers are numerous, 
and obtain the means of subsistence by the practice of 
their profession. A great proportion of them are 
Brahmuns, or professors of Hindooism, here called 
Pounas, who have been born in the country, or have 
emigrated from Assam or Hindostan. Birmans also 
embrace the profession. The order is highly respected, 
but not esteemed so sacred as that of the priesthood. 
The medical department is peculiarly subject to the 
control of superstition. Its influence is often seen 
in the collection of medicinal roots, the method of 
compounding medicines, and the time and manner of 
administering them. Of books which treat of the 
nature of diseases, the virtues of medicinal roots and 
plants, the art of compounding them, and their specific 
qualities, they have a considerable number. Shops of 
drugs and medicines are in full proportion to the 
wants of the public. With surgery they are wholly 

"Their funeral solemnities are conducted with 
decency. The manner of disposing of the dead is 
either by incineration or burial: the former is 
esteemed the most honourable. The corpse is en- 
closed in a coffin, ornamented with gold leaf or other- 
wise, according to the means of the friends of the 
deceased, and, followed by the mourners dressed in 
white, is borne to the public place of interment, ( which 
is without the city or town,) the procession being 
usually preceded by the music of wind-instruments 
and drums, and the presents intended for the priests 


who may be invited on the occasion. These presents 
usually consist of pieces of cotton cloth, sugar-cane, 
and fruits of various kinds. On their arrival at the 
place of incineration, fuel is placed under the coffin, 
the moveable ornaments being first taken away ; and 
the corpse is consumed, after which the bones are 
interred. Infants and criminals are buried, as also 
the poorest part of the community. All funeral pro- 
cessions must pass out of the city by a particular gate, 
called the Funeral Gate ; and no corpse must be car- 
ried towards a city or town where the governors 
usually reside. The banks of the Irrawaddy are not 
selected for the performance of funeral obsequies, like 
the banks of the Ganges; neither are its waters re- 
garded as possessing any sacred qualities, nor are they 
in the least degree the object of superstitious reverence. 
The business of the priests at funerals is, to recite 
some portion of their sacred books, and to receive 
presents; -but it is not customary for them to take 
any other part in funeral ceremonies, unless at the 
incineration of their own order, in which they render 
personal assistance. As food is generally given them, 
and they do not eat in the afternoon, funerals are 
usually attended in the morning. It is customary 
to preserve the corpses of priests a long time previously 
to incineration. This is done by embalming the body, 
after removing those parts and fluids most liable o 
become offensive, and then covering it with gold leaf.* 

* " When apriest dies, he has peculiar honors paid him. Several 
months since, a neighbouring priest died, or returned, for the 
Birmans think it undignified to say that a priest dies. His body 
was immediately wrapped up in tar and wax ; holes were perfo- 
rated through the feet and some distance up the legs, into which 
one end of a hollow bamboo was inserted, and the other fixed m 
the ground. The body was then pressed and squeezed, so that its 
fluids were forced down through the legs, and conveyed off by 


"In the construction of their dwelling-houses, 
bamboo, of which there are several species, and in 
great abundance, is the principal, and in many in- 
stances the only material used. Holes, two or three 
feet deep in the earth, receive the posts, which are 
more or fewer according to the size of the houses. 
Mats, made of split bamboos, form the outside cover- 

i of the bamboos. In this state of preservation the body bar- 
been kept. For some days past, preparations have been making 
to burn this sacred relic, and to-day it has passed away in fumiga- 
tion. On four wheels was erected a kind of stage or tower, about 
twelve or fifteen feet high, ornamented with paintings of different 
colours, and figures, and small mirrors. On the top of this was 
constructed a kind of balcony, in which was placed the coffin, de- 
corated with small pieces of glass of different hues ; and the corpse, 
half of which was visible above the edge of the coffin, was covered 
with gold leaf. Around the tower and balcony was fixed several 
bamboo poles, covered with red cloth, displaying red flags at their 
ends, and small umbrellas glittering with spangles ; among which 
was one longer than the others, covered with gold leaf, shading the 
corpse from the sun. Around the upper part of the balcony was 
suspended a curtain of white gauze, about a cubit in width, the 
lower edge of which was hung round with small pieces of isinglass. 
Above the whole was raised a lofty quadrangular pyramid, gradu- 
ating into a spire, constructed in a light manner of split bamboo, 
covered with small figures cut out of white cloth, and waving to 
and fro for some distance in the air. The whole, from the ground 
to the top of the spire, might measure fifty feet. This curious 
structure, with some living priests upon it, was drawn half a mile 
by women and boys, delighted with the sport, and in the midst of a 
large concourse of shouting and joyous spectators. On their arrival 
at the place of burning, ropes were attached to the hinder end of 
the car, and a whimsical sham contest, by adverse pulling, was for 
some time maintained, one party seeming to indicate a reluctance 
to have the precious corpse burned. At length, the foremost party 
prevailed, and the body must be reduced to ashes. Amidst this, 
there were loud shoutings, clapping of hands, the sound of drums, 
of tinkling and wind instruments, and a most disgusting exhibition 
Of female dancing, but no weeping or wailing. The vehicle was then 
taken to pieces, the most valuable parts of which were preserved, 
and the body was consumed." JUDSON'S Account, pp, 82, 3. 


ing, inside partitions, and sometimes the floor. But 
commonly the latter is made by splitting the material 
into quarters, laying them down in a series, and 
tying them to the transverse poles with split rattans. 
Leaves of the Nipah tree, called here donee, compose 
the roof; and a house not positively uncomfortable, 
and sufficiently capacious for a small family, is con- 
structed at the moderate expense of thirty or forty 
rupees. Men of high rank and ample means build 
their houses in the same form with posts of teak ; the 
sides, partitions, and floor are boards of the same 
wood, and the roof is made either of leaves or of flat 
tiles. These tiles are burnt like bricks, each about 
eight inches long, five broad, and nearly one thick, 
jutting over at the head about an inch, by which they 
retain their positions upon the rafters. They are laid 
double, the lower edges of one series projecting over 
and lying upon the heads of the next lower series; 
thus forming a defence from wind and rain, and pre- 
senting a good degree of security from exterior fires. 
The monasteries are built in the same manner, having 
two or three roofs elevated one above another, and in 
many instances, their cornices, angles, and eaves 
ornamented with carved work of flowers, figures of 
elephants, of priests, and of other forms which have 
no existence but in the superstition of the people. 
The posts of the houses and monasteries, being inserted 
from two to four or five feet in the ground, are subject 
to the depredations of white ants, and to rapid decay. 
The old palace at Amarapoora is built of teak: the 
roofs piled upon each other to a great height, and 
diminishing in size as they ascend, present the 
appearance of a lofty spire. The exterior and inte- 
rior parts are covered with gold leaf, and the whole 
exhibits a resplendent object to the beholder. His 
present majesty, who ascended the throne of his 


grandfather about June 1819, has since built a new 
palace at Ava, a few miles below the former capital, of 
which he took possession about March 1824. The 
pagodas are solid masses of masonry, varying in 
height, of a conical form, covered with plaster, com- 
posed of sand and lime, and many of them with gold 
leaf. The large pagoda situated about a mile and a half 
to the N.W. of Rangoon, and called Shwa-dagon Porah, 
is a splendid and magnificent monument of heathen 
superstition and idolatry. According to its history, 
the foundation was laid soon after the supposed anni- 
hilation of Gautama. If this be true, it must have 
existed for a period of about 2,300 years. Since its 
erection, its size has been increased by successive 

" From the above description of their dwelling- 
houses, the transition is easy to a correct inference 
relative to the furniture which they contain. A few 
mats answer the purpose of beds, couches, chairs, and 
tables; and two or three wooden plates of Birman 
manufacture, or of coarse earthen-ware imported, 
form the breakfast and dinner service. A small box 
or two, or as many baskets, contain the wardrobe of 
the family. Those, however, who have the means, 
indulge themselves in the use of a bedstead. Although, 
in their houses and persons, the appearance of clean- 
liness is not very striking, yet, in this respect, they 
are on a par with their western neighbours. But this 
is not saying much in their favour. They certainly 
do not exhibit, particularly in their houses, any special 
regard to neatness ; nor, on the other hand, can they 
be considered as inattentive to personal appearance. 
Both sexes enjoy the comfort of frequent bathing. 
They are much addicted to the practice of chewing 
betel; and in the disposition of the saliva, they are 


not particularly nice. The more respectable class 
accommodate themselves with pig-dannies and betel- 
boxes, the bearers of which are in constant attendance. 
These materials are of gold, silver, or less valuable 
metal, according to the rank or circumstances of those 
who use them. They universally anoint the head 
with oil ; and as the hair is permitted to grow to its 
natural length and density without the frequent appli- 
cation of a comb, a convenient situation is afforded 
for the accommodation of vermin ; and as the Birman 
religion prohibits the destruction of life, their propaga- 
tion is seldom interrupted, except by casualties. 

" On public days, days of worship, and when visit- 
ing, it is an object with them to put on the appearance 
of neatness in their persons and apparel. The women 
are usually dressed in long, loose, white cotton gowns, 
with petticoats of cotton, cotton and silk, or silk, of 
vari-coloured stripes. The men wear gowns a little 
similar to those of the women, with cotton or silk plaid 
cloth, decently wrapped around their loins, and hang- 
ing in front below the knees. The women wear their 
hair collected into a knot on the back part of the 
head, while the men twist theirs into a spiral form 
upon the top, encircling the head either with a 
checquered or a white muslin kerchief folded to a 
narrow width. The men commonly tattoo themselves 
with various figures upon the thighs, the abdomen, 
and the loins. The shoes of both sexes protect only 
the sole of the foot, having two loops, into which the 
great toe and the other four are inserted: they are 
manufactured of wood, or of hides. The women, to 
render themselves more attractive, rub their faces 
with a fine powder, made of the bark of a species of 
sandal highly odoriferous, and sometimes colour with 
a beautiful red, the nails of their fingers and toes. 


" In the management of internal household affairs, 
the wife takes the principal share. She goes herself 
to the market, or directs purchases to be made, and 
superintends the cooking, or does it with her own 
hands. As opportunity presents, she brings in . her 
contribution to the domestic establishment, by spin- 
ning, weaving, trafficking in bazar articles, or by 
keeping a shop and vending merchandise. In con- 
ducting the general family concerns, she is by no 
means excluded: her judgment is consulted, given 
with perfect freedom, and seldom entirely disregarded. 
The female branches of the family are not recluses 
here, neither are they reserved or shy in their man- 
ners; they form a constituent part of domestic and 
public society. They esteem it happy to become 
mothers, but consider the birth of a son as a more 
fortunate event than that of a daughter. They in 
general nurse their children till they arrive at the age 
of three or four. As they are seldom blessed with a 
numerous progeny, the increase of population is slow. . . . 
The wife of a judge or governor is often seen at his 
side, assisting in the decision of causes ; and the wives 
of viceroys and other high officers are often permitted 
to hold their own courts, and decide independently on 
petitions presented to them. Women of all ranks 
enjoy a high degree of freedom, appear abroad un- 
veiled whenever they choose, ornamented according 
to the taste and fashion of the country, and add zest 
to public scenes of amusement by their presence and 

" In the formation of their matrimonial connexions, 
there is generally an appropriate preface of personal 
acquaintance and plighted love. In the ceremony of 
marriage, little expense is incurred either of time or 
of money. A feast of good things, according to the 


ability of the bridegroom, is prepared, in which the 
assembled family connexions participate. The mar- 
ried pair taste a mixture of the tea-leaf steeped in oil, 
(which is the form of sealing all contracts,) eat toge- 
ther from the same plate, and, exchanging their reci- 
procal promises, they twain are made one flesh. 
Unfortunately, however, for the perpetuity of conjugal 
felicity, in no country, perhaps, is the marriage-con- 
tract regarded with so little respect, or maintained 
with so little propriety as in Birmah. No disgrace is 
attached to a divorced husband or wife. Slight occa- 
sions originate verbal abuse, and these quarrels are 
often protracted till both parties seek that remedy 
which is to be found, in their country, in any common 
court of justice. Polygamy is not only allowed, but 
abounds in this country. Money is not offered to 
obtain a female as a wife, but for the purchase of 
bond-maids as concubines. If a concubine of this sort 
wishes to be released, the terms of her departure are 
made easy. A high sense of female chastity not being 
prevalent, the consequences are obvious. The male 
sex conceive themselves by nature, both physically and 
mentally, the superior: hence are seen lordship in 
the one sex, and subjection in the other. A brother 
exercises over a sister, and a husband over a wife, con- 
trol at pleasure, and applies, if need require, the shoe, 
the rod, the foot, the palm of the hand, or even the 
point of the elbow, to correct the forwardness or obsti- 
nacy of the weaker vessel. Among the higher and 
more polite circles, however, this right is n<3t so much 
exercised as acknowledged. 

" Generosity and hospitality are not among the 
practical virtues of the Birmans; on the contrary, 
they are cold-hearted, unfeeling, and suspicious, con- 
templating misery and suffering, in whatever form, with 


apathy. No public institutions of benevolence appear 
to proclaim a general interest in the comfort or conve- 
nience of the less happy. Avarice and selfishness, the 
two ruling passions of the Birmans, preclude the exer- 
cise of right feeling towards others. To the existence 
of such a state of feeling, it is probable the nature 
of the government contributes. The petty acts of 
tyranny practised by the subordinate civil officers, 
are a terror to the public, and create between man 
and man that jealousy and suspicion which destroy 
confidence, and annihilate the best feelings of huma- 
nity. The writer of this article beheld, in the 
eastern road leading from the town of Rangoon to the 
great pagoda, a Birman lying on the ground, under 
the suspension of his faculties by a fit. He fell while 
walking with a companion, which was no sooner dis- 
covered by the latter, than he departed with all pos- 
sible speed. No individual approached the miserable 
sufferer. The writer, not aware of any evil conse- 
quence, went towards him, when several voices from 
individuals at a distance urged him to retire. On 
inquiring their reasons, they replied : " You will meet 
with difficulty* from Government; the man may report 
that he has been deprived of something, and you may 
be called upon to answer as a thief.'" This was an 
effectual check to any offer of assistance. In such a 
state of things there can be found little benevolence, 
kindness, or hospitality in exercise, particularly to- 
wards strangers. 

" Travelling by boats, which affords the greatest 
personal comfort, presents the danger of bands of rob- 
bers, who often attack with knives and muskets, and 
make a ' clear sweep' of whatever portable effects can 
be seized, to the jeopardy, and frequently to the 
destruction of the lives of their possessors. It is but 


just to add, however, that the view which these re- 
marks would otherwise present, should in some 
respects be qualified. There are recognised among the 
Birmans, friendly relations and ties of consanguinity, 
which, in private life, are seen so to operate as to 
soften in some degree the sterner features of their 
public character. Among relatives and friends be- 
tween whom there is a mutual and thorough acquaint- 
ance, feelings which originate generous actions, the 
duties of hospitality, kind deportment and sympathy, 
prevail over those views of mere personal considera- 
tion, which govern the general course of their lives in 
their civil connexion with one another. They are 
certainly not incapable of strong attachments ; and 
could their public character be formed in a different 
mould from that in which their system of government 
has already cast it, they would be by no means desti- 
tute of those elementary principles which combine to 
form the happiness of civilised society." * 

Little will remain to be added to these details, 
as regards the manners and customs of the Bir- 
mans; but, in order that the reader may have a 
just idea of their religion, it will be necessary to lay 
before him a brief view of the history of the Buddhic 


THE origin of Buddhism, which, under some modi- 
fication or other, is the religion of the Birman empire, 
Siain, Ceylon, Japan, Anam, and the greater part of 
China, is involved in considerable obscurity. There 
is strong reason, however, to believe, that it is of the 
highest antiquity; that it was substantially the an- 

* Friend of India, No. xii. 1824. 


cient faith of India, the Brahminical superstition 
being the invention of later times; for it is certain, 
Mr. Ward says, " that, among the six schools of phi- 
losophy formerly famous among the Hindoos, two of 
them inculcated doctrines respecting the first cause of 
things that were decidedly atheistical, or such as the 
followers of Boodhii maintain at this day; and it is 
indisputable, according to the Hindoo writings, that 
these two sects were numerous before the appearance 
of Boodhii," The word Boodhii or Buddha, which 
signifies the wise or the sage, admits of a various 
application, that has served not a little to perplex the 
subject. It is the title of the Hindoo Mercury,* the 
Woden of the northern nations, traces of whose wor-- 
ship are to be found in almost every primitive lan- 
guage; but the historical Budha is quite a different 
personage ; or rather, there can be no doubt that, as in 
the case of Zoroaster, under that name several dis- 
tinct personages have been confounded. The distin- 
guishing tenet of the religion, or, as it has been cor- 
rectly termed, the atheoloyy of these nations, is the 
substitution of an incarnation of the divine energy, in 
some deified hero or sage, for the Creator of all things, 
who is reduced to a mere abstraction, unintelligent, 
and differing little from the Eternal Matter of the 
western atheists. They believe, in common with the 
Hindoos, that there is one God, but so completely 

* " This god has four arms ; in one hand he holds the discus, in 
another a club, in another a scimitar, and with the fourth is be- 
stowing a blessing. He rides on a lion, is of a placid countenance, 
and wears yellow garments." He was the eldest son of Somu or 
Chundru, the moon, whence he is called Soumyu, and from his 
mother, Rouhineyu. Wednesday (Boodhu-varu) is sacred to him : 
in Siamese, it is called Van-Phoodh, the day of Phoodh, Boodh, 
or Fo. See WARD'S View of the Hindoos, vol. i. p. 92. 


abstract in his essence, that he is not the object 
either of worship, of hope, or of fear ; that he is even 
destitute of intelligence, and remains in a state of 
profound repose, except at times, when, united to 
energy, he becomes possessed of qualities, and creates 
worlds. This energy, it is said, exists separate from 
Bramha in his abstract state, as smothered embers, 
and is, like himself, eternal. Among the regular 
Hindoos, the beings supposed to possess most of this 
energy are the gods, the giants, the bramhuns, and 
devout ascetics : among the heterodox sects of Bud- 
dhists, Jains, and some others, ascetics are almost 
exclusively considered as the favoured depositaries of 
the Divine energy. This " indwelling scheme," as it 
has been termed, is the prominent feature of all the 
systems of paganism throughout the East. The doc- 
trine of incarnations, that of transmigration, the 
adoration of the deified elements or of deified heroes, 
of Vishnoo, of Budha, of the Lama, of Fo, of the cow, 
of the elephant, all rest upon the same basis. The 
divine energy, wherever it is supposed to reside, or 
the abstract idea of power in alliance with sow* material 
form, is, under some modification or other, the univer- 
sal object of worship. " Exactly conformable to the 
Hindoo idea," remarks Mr. Ward, " was the declara- 
tion respecting Simon Magus : * This man is the great 
power of God.' And in union with this notion, all 
these people embrace the doctrine of transmigration, 
and the efficacy of religious austerities to restore these 
emanations of the deity, dwelling in matter, to the 
Great Spirit from which they issued."* 

* See Ward's View of the Hindoos, vol. i. pp. i. ix ; xvii. ; vol. ii. 
pp. 206, 306, &c. These notions of the Hindoo philosophers aic 
essentially the same as the system of Emanation, received not only 
by the Ionic philosophers, Thales and Anaximander, but by the 


The . Grand Lama is an hereditary living deity, 
before whom millions prostrate themselves. He dies 
only to re-appear in another form. Captain Turner, 
speaking of the religion of Tibet, says : " It seems to 
be the schismatical offspring of the religion of the 
Hindoos, deriving its origin from one of the followers 
of that faith, a disciple of Bouddhu, who first broached 
the doctrine which now prevails over the wide extent 
of Tartary. It is reported to have received its earliest 
admission in that part of Tibet bordering upon India, 
which hence became the seat of the sovereign Lamas, 
to have traversed Mantchieux Tartary, and to have 
been ultimately disseminated over China and Japan. 
Though it differs from the Hindoo in many of its 
outward forms, yet, it still bears a very close affinity 
with the religion of Brumha in many important parti- 
culars. The principal idol in the temples of Tibet is 
Muha-Moonee (the Great Philosopher), the Booddhu 
of Bengal, who is worshipped under these and various 
other epithets throughout the great extent of Tartary 
and among all nations to the eastward of the Brumhu- 
pootru. He is styled Godumii or Goutumu in Assam 

Pythagoreans, the followers of Heraclitus, and others. They held 
God to have been eternally united to matter in one whole, which 
they called Chaos, whence it was sent forth, and at a certain time 
brought into form by the energy of the divine inhabitant. Thia 
deity, far from being a simple spiritual essence, is a compound 
being, "the soul of the world inclosed in matter, the primeval 
energy, the prolific and vivifying principle dwelling in all animated 
existences." In fact, this atheistic system is that of the materialist, 
applied to the Divine Being, whose intelligence is made absolutely 
dependent on some mode of organisation. A learned bramhun, 
on having the well-known lines of Pope read to him, beginning, 
" All are but parts of one stupendous whole, 

Whose body Nature is, and God the soul," 
started from his seat, and declared that the author must have 
been a Hindoo. 


and Ava ; Shumunu, in Siam;* Amida Buth,f in 
Japan ; Fohe, in China ; Boodhu and Shakhu Moonee 
in Bengal and Hindoostan ; and Dhurmii Ra.jii and 
Muha Moonee, in Bootan and Tibet." 

The name under which the idol of Binnah is wor- 
shipped, is, as we have seen, Godama (Guadma, Gua- 
tama), the same as the Siamese Kodom, or Kodoma; 
a word which is said to signify cow-herd, and, meta- 
phorically, king; though Dr. Buchanan was assured 
by a Hindoo pundit, that it implies the eminently 
sage, which is the meaning of Boodha. There can be 
no uoubt, that under this name a real personage is 
intended, although it perhaps admits of question, 
whether the Divine Philosopher to whom all these 
titles refer, be the same. The Birmans, in common 
with the other Buddhic nations, reckon three pre- 
decessors of Guadma Budha. J The Zarado* or arch- 

* Or Soramono-kodara : i. e. Kodam (Godama) the saint. He is 
also known there under other titles, as Pra-phut, the high lord, 
Y-thee-pee-so, Pa-ka-wa, Ora-hang, &c. By the Cingalese, he is 
known under the name of Saka, or Sakya-muni, the astute sage. 
This is sometimes written Xaca, and again Shaknun and Shak- 
muny, and with the adjunct, burchan (the Tartar for deity), is 
corrupted by Marco Polo into Sogomon-barchan. MARSDEN'S 
Marco Polo, note 1354. FINIAYSON'S Siam, p. 253. 

t Boodh, Buth, Phoodh, Fohi, are evidently the same word 
under different forms. The Tamul, adding the termination en, 
makes it Pooden; whence Wod-en. Amita, in Chinese O-mee-to, 
the epithet applied to Buddha in China and Japan, is the Sanscrit 
Amita, immeasurable, whence the Greek ap.crpov. 

I " The religion of the Birmans," Colonel Francklin says, " is 
that of the younger Buddha or Bhaddoo of the Hindoos, the 
ninth incarnation of VUhnoo ; but the Birmans insist, that in his 
character of Weethandra, a prince of Godomha-it, he is a tenth 
incarnation of the divin'ty. The elder Buddha, or Rama the 
conqueror of Ceylon, which, in the ancient Pali, is called Dewi 
Lanca, they do not acknowledge as their legislator ; his history is 
merely read as an amusing fable by their bards or musicians. I 
have a co>y of his history : it agrees with the Indian legend, but 


abbot of Biruaah, at the solicitation of a Roman 
Catholic bishop, drew up an account of their tenets, 
in which the gods who have appeared in the present 
world, and who have obtained the perfect state of 
niffban, are said to be four ; viz. Chau-cha-sam 
(or Kau-ka-than), Gonagom (Gau-na-gon), Gaspa 
(Katha-pa), and Godama. * The Sakya-muni of 
Ceylon (the Sogomon-barchan of Marco Polo, and 
the Shakhu-moonee of Bengal), has generally been 

they call him Yama." We are not aware on what authority Rama 
is called the elder Budha. Ramu, or Rama, is the seventh incar- 
nation of Vishnoo, Bulurama the eighth, Boodhu the ninth ; but 
the origin of Buddhism is not to be found in these legends, which 
are of a more modern date. There are acknowledged to be four 
Buddhas ; but there seems no connexion between this succession 
of sages and the nine incarnations of Vishnoo. 

* This document then proceeds by question and answer. " Q. Of 
which of these gods ought the law at present to be followed? 
A. Of the god Godama. Q. Where is the god Godama? A. Go- 
dama, at the age of thirty-five, having attained his divinity, 
preached his law for forty-five years, and brought salvation to all 
living beings. At eighty years of age he obtained nigban, and this 
happened 2362 years ago [from 1795]. Then Godama said : after 
I shall have departed from this earth, I will preserve my law and 
disciples for 5000 years ; and he commanded that his images and 
relics should be worshipped, which has accordingly been ever since 
done. Q. What is meant by obtaining nigban T A. When a per- 
son is no longer subject to any of the following evils, weight, old 
age, disease, and death, then he is said to have obtained nigban. 
Nothing, no place can give us an adequate idea of nigban : we can 
only say, that to be free from the four above-mentioned miseries, 
and to obtain salvation, is nigban. In the same manner, as when 
any person labouring under a severe disease, recovers by the assist- 
ance of medicine, we say he has obtained health; but if any person 
wishes to know the manner or the cause of his thus obtaining 
health, it can only be answered, that to be restored to health 
signifies no more than to be recovered from disease : in the same 
manner only can we speak of nigban. And after this manner 
Godama taught." Reckoning the 2362 Birman years as equal to 
2341 Julian years, this would place the death of Godama about 
546 years B. C. Asiat. Res. vol. vi. p. 265. See also Ward's View, 
&c., vol. ii. p. 212. 


considered as the founder of the sect. M. la Loube*re 
supposes the Siamese Somonocodom to be unquestion- 
ably the same person ; and according to the sacred books, 
his father was Bali, king of Teve Lanca, or Ceylon. 
La Croze states, that the name of Fo before his apo- 
theosis, was Xaca (Saka), and that, according to the 
best-established opinion, he was born in the isle of 
Ceylon.* The name of Sommonokodam (Godama) 
before he was deified, Mr. Finlayson was told, was 
Pra-si-Thaat ; his father's name was Soori-soo-thoght, 
and his mother, Pra-soori-maha-maya. f The general 
persuasion of the priests, we are told, is, that their 
religion had its origin in Lanca, or Ceylon, and many 
circumstances establish the close connexion between 
the Cingalese and the Siamese ; but this is sufficiently 
to be accounted for, without supposing that Buddhism 
had its origin in that island. 1 If any stress can be 

* Marsden's Marco Polo, note 1355. Bali is evidently only the 
word Pali, the name of the sacred language, and of the nation to 
whom the Buddhists belong ; a proof that the Cingalese filiation of 
Godama is apocryphal. 

t Pra is a mere affix, signifying lord : the other names are pos- 
sibly mythological. One of the Siamese titles assigned by this 
Traveller to Buddha, that of Ora-hang, is the Siamese name of 
Adam's Peak, in Ceylon. 

J Not only the religion and sacred language of Ceylon are the 
same as those of Birmah and Siam, but there are many proofs of 
an intimate connexion and commercial intercourse between that 
island and the Indo-Chinese states ; as well as the clearest evidence 
that Ceylon derived alike its mythology, language, and priesthood 
from Magadha, or Bahar. The name of the island (Singhala) is 
clearly derived from tingh, a lion; a distinctive appellation of 
the khetries, or military class. We have evidently the same word 
in Sincapoor (Singa-pura), as well as in Singhea in Bahar, Singe- 
poorum and Singhboom in Orissa, &c. Sincapoor is said to have 
been founded by emigrants from Sumatra. In that island we find 
the Rakhan river, evidently the same as Arracan, and a town of 
Acheen, the same name as the chief place on the Kank-kao river, 
which falls into the gulf of Siam. Salanga (Junkseylon) is appa- 
rently the same word as Lanca, the Siamese name of Ceylon. 


98 B1RMAH. 

laid on the Jatiis, or histories of the ten incar- 
nations, Buddha, prior to his first incarnation as 
Teinee, had, at a remote period, reigned in Varanu- 
see (Benares) twenty years, and after an interval of 
80,000 years, had been born and lived in Tavutingsa 
(Ceylon?). This Maha-Satwa (great Saint), orBood- 
hii Sutwu, as he is called, would seem, indeed, at all 
events, not to be the first Buddha; but his earliest 
appearance is placed in Bahar. It is more to the pur- 
pose to remark, that the Cingalese admit that they 
received their religion from the hands of a stranger ; 
and Mr. Ward thinks, that it was probably propagated 
in the Birman empire soon after its reception in Cey- 
lon, that is, about four hundred and fifty years after 
Buddha's death. "The Birmans believe, that six 
hundred and fifty years after that event (about A.D. 
107), in the reign of Maha-moonee, a bramhun, named 
Buddha- Ghosha, was sent to Ceylon, to copy the 
Vishooddhimargu, which includes all the Jatus, or 
histories of the incarnations of Buddha. Since then, 
many Birmans have translated and commented on 
these writings. In a work entitled "The great Hi- 
story of the Birman and Pegu Kings,' it is recorded, 
that, during the T'hiooru-kshutriyu dynasty, no fewer 
than fifty-five translations were made, and as many 
comments written on these books. But the Birmans 
are believed to possess works of higher antiquity than 
the Jatus." * 

There can be, we think, no doubt, that India, and 
that part of India which formed the kingdom of Ma- 
gadha, or Benares, has the best claim to the honour of 
having given birth to Buddha Guadama. In fact, both 
Booddhu and Goutumii would seem, from the following 
account, given by Mr. Ward from Sanscrit documents, 

* Ward, vol. ii p. 211. 


to have been either family names or honorary titles of 
the Magadha dynasty.* 

" About 700 years before the commencement of the 
Christian era, Veeru-Vahoo, of the race of Goujumii, 
a person attached to one of these sects, destroyed his 
sovereign Bodhumullu, and immediately seized the 
throne of Delhi. This king, and his three immediate 
successors, reigned one hundred and eight years. 

* The Scanda and Buddha puranas, the two sacred poems 
which describe the actions of Godama, among a multitude of 
matter extravagant beyond the stretch of imagination to portray, 
and defying all rational analysis, contain these few intelligible 
historic details. It seems that Sataketu, of the race of the gods, 
had resolved to descend to earth and to become incarnate, in order 
to instruct mankind. The house of Sacya Singu was in possession 
of the sixty-four indispensable virtues, and therefore the god 
assumed the human form in the family of Sudd-hodana, at Capilu- 
vasu, in the kingdom of Magadha (South Bahar). His mother 
was Maha-divi. His wisdom puzzled his instructors in infancy. 
Repairing to Cushi, he took up his abode under a tree, and began 
a series of seven penances. He subsequently exemplified the duties 
of social life, and married Gopa, daughter of Sacshya; but finally 
renewed his penances, and became a complete Sanyasi. One thou- 
sand votaries were added to Buddha's disciples before he reached 
Gaya, the holy shrine near which he fixed his retreat. His mother, 
Maha-divi, afflicted at his tremendous penances, came down to 
remonstrate, but, instead of obeying, he fell down and worshipped 
her; for which act of extraordinary piety, together with his com- 
pletion of the unutterable Yoga, the samyacsam-bodhi, the asto- 
nished gods fell down in adoration, and thus completed the earthly 
consecration of this incarnate deity. The Birmans adopt this 
purana, but add other particulars; among which, the artificer, 
Viswakarma, is introduced, presenting a large forest, created for 
the scene of Buddha's austerities. The king his father, and the 
neighbouring princes, who had attempted to seize his kingdom 
during his absence, turn anchorets, in imitation of the rishi, or 
saint ; and even the horses and elephants in his father's train are 
so spiritualised, that, after having run wild on earth, they are born 
again in the six abodes of the gods. This legend, however, bears 
internal evidence of its relating to a personage far less important 
than the original Buddha. 

100 BIRMAH. 

Muhee-putee, or the lord of the earth, was the name 
of the third of these monarchs; and as most of the 
\vriters on this subject agree in placing the era of 
Boodhxi in the sixth century B.C., it seems reasonable 
to suppose, that Boodhii was the son or near relation 
of Muhee-putee. If not connected with this family, 
why should the family name of this race, Goutumii, be 
one of the most common names of Booddhu ?* As the 
capital of the most powerful of the Hindoo monarchs 
of this period was in South Bahar, if Booddhu was 
not the son of one of the Mugudhii kings, it is possible 
he belonged to some branch of the family reigning at 
Benares, which was probably then a separate king- 
dom. In the Te*mee Je"tu, a history of one of the 
incarnations of Booddhu, he is said to have been the 
son of a king of Benares, and to have persevered in 
choosing the life of an ascetic, against every possible 
artifice and persuasion of his royal parents. If then it 
be admitted that Booddhu was a person of royal descent, 
that he chose an ascetic life, and embraced a system of 
philosophy already prevalent in India, the other scenes 
of the drama require no assistance from conjecture : he 
became the patron and idol of the sect which from 
this time was distinguished by his name; he also re- 
ceived the support of the reigning monarchs, who 
were attached to him not only by holding the same 
philosophical opinions, but by the ties of blood. 

" This sect being thus established by Muhee-putee, 
the eleven Bouddlm monarchs who succeeded him, and 
who reigned 291 years, may reasonably be supposed 
to have done what the bramhiins charged them with, 
to have obliterated the religion of their opponents. 

" It is certain, however, that the learned adherents 

* Titles of deity have sometimes been assumed as family names. 
Thus, among the kings of Sirinagur, several bore the name of 
Deo, others that of Paal, &c. See Asiat. Res. vol. vi. p. 338. 

BIRMAH. 101 

of the bramhinical religion did not remain silent 
spectators of what they deemed the triumph of 
atheism. They contended with their equally learned 
opponents; and this dispute, as is manifest by the 
character of many of the works still read by the Hin- 
doos, called forth all the talents of both sides : chal- 
lenges to conduct the controversy in the presence of 
kings and learned assemblies were given and accepted. 
But here, as in innumerable other instances, the arm 
of power prevailed ; and as long as the reigning mo- 
narchs were Bouddhus, the bramhiins were obliged to 
confine themselves to verbal contentions. 

" At length, Dhoorundhuru, of the race of Muydorii, 
destroyed Adityii, the last Bouddhii king, and assumed 
the sovereignty ; and it is probable that from this 
time (about 300 years B.C.) we are, to date the com- 
mencement of the persecutions of the Bouddhus. 

"One or two facts tend to prove, that the bram- 
hiins were not much more mild and tolerant than 
other persecutors. Though a number of Joinus are 
scattered up and down in various parts of Hindoo- 
st'hanii, scarcely a vestige of the Bouddhii superstition 
is to be found, and all its adherents are seen in the 
adjoining countries. The fact respecting these per- 
secutions is, however, placed beyond all doubt by the 
Prayushchittii-vive'ku, a Hindoo work on atonements ; 
from which we learn, that Ooduyunacharjyu, a learned 
jramhun, and a fierce combatant against the Bood- 
dhiis, actually burnt himself to death on a chaff-fire 
(kooshuanulu), as an atonement for the sin of having 
excited the Hindoo kings to put to death many 
Bouddhu bramhuns. To avoid the malice of their 
enemies, therefore, the Bouddhus emigrated to the 
-neighbouring countries, and gave to the uncivilised 
inhabitants those doctrines for which they had been 


102 BIRMAH. 

unsuccessfully contending on the plains of Hin- 

" We have no authentic documents to prove how 
long this persecution lasted ; but it is a pretty current 
opinion among the most learned Biirmans, that the 
religion of Booddhu was introduced into that country 
about 450 years after his death. According to this 
statement, (admitting that the persecution began with 
Dhoorundhurii,) it will appear to have continued 183 
years." * 

According to this view of the subject, Godama, the 
fourth and last deity, and the founder of the present 
system of atheology which goes under the name of 
Buddhism, was an ascetic of royal birth, who lived 
about 2,370 years ago.f Having, like Zoroaster, 
Manes, Mahommed, and Abdul Wehhab, professed 
himself a religious reformer, he travelled over India, 
Ceylon, and other countries to propagate his doc- 
trines.J His image uniformly represents him with 

Ward, vol. ii. pp. 20710. See also Asiat. Res. vol. ix. 

f A native of Ceylon assured Mr. Ward, that the Cingalese con- 
sidered it to be about 2,500 years since the death of Gautama. 
Mr. Felix Carey, on the authority of the Birman history, made it, 
in 1813, 2,357 years since the birth of the god. According to other 
authorities, cited by Dr. Buchanan, both the Siamese and the 
Cingalese make Budha's death to have happened either 542 or 546 
years B.C. The Chinese authorities state that Shaka lived 1028 
years B.C. (see note p. 106.) . If any reliance could be placed on 
this opinion, it would go far to prove that Sakya-muni preceded 
Gautama by nearly 500 years. 

J " When the Budhuist superstition was first introduced to the 
island of Ceylon, has never been satisfactorily determined ; but the 
circumstances attendant on its introduction are set forth by the 
Singhalese historians in all the extravagant hyperbole of Eastern 
fable. According to their writings, Budhu visited Ceylon for the 
purpose of rescuing the natives from the tyranny of the demons, 
who covered the'whole island, and exercised the most cruel tyranny 
over the inhabitants. So numerous were these malignant spirits, 
that, on the arrival of Budhu, they covered the whole ground, and 

BIRMAH. 103 

curling hair, like that of an African ; his ears long, as 
if distended by heavy ear-rings, and in a sitting posture, 
with his legs folded. This physiognomy is remark- 
able, and may be admitted, perhaps, as an indication 
of the Ethiopic extraction of the Magadha dynasty, 
since Godama was clearly not a foreigner. In his life- 
time, there is no reason to suppose that he set up for 
a god ; and it would seem that, like all other pseudo 
reformers, he acknowledged certain predecessors in his 
office, Boudhas or wise men who had appeared before 
him. Who Kaukka-that, Gaunagon, and Kathapa 
were, can be but matter of conjecture ; but it may 
be allowed us to suggest, that the original Boodha 
was probably the Eastern Hermes, the Mercury of 
the Hindoo pantheon, and the Boodha of the calen- 
dar. Of the five deities assigned to the present 
kulpu, or mundane period, four have already ap- 
there -was not sufficient space left for him to set his foot ; and had 
a pin fallen, it could not have found its passage to the ground. 
IJudhu, confident of the efficacy of his doctrines, directed his dis- 
course to a part of the vast mass before him, which immediately 
yielded to its force, and became panic-struck by the superior power 
which was opposed to them. Availing himself of the confusion 
Into which the demons were thrown, and perceiving a vacant 
space, Budhu descended, and occupied the spot. As he continued 
to preach, directing his sermons to every part of the vast circle 
which was formed around him, the demons gradually retired fur- 
ther from his presence, until they were all at length driven into the 
gea. Budhu then issued the following proclamation : ' Behold, I 
have conquered the malignant spirits who had so long and with such 
irresistible sway tyrannised over you. Pear demons no more ! 
worship them no more f ' This tradition, divested of the absurdities 
in which it is clothed, represents Budhu as a religious reformer, 
\vho finding the Singhalese devoted to the Kappooa system of 
demon-worship, endeavoured, by preaching some portion of truth, 
though mixed up with much error, to raise their minds from the 
degraded and enslaved state In which they had been held for ages. 
Success followed the persevering promulgation of the system, until 
it gained the ascendancy, and became the established religion 
of the island." HARVARD'S Mission to Ceylon, p. liv. 

104 BIBMAH. 

peared, including Godama, whose exaltation is to 
continue till the expiration of 5000 years, 2,368 of 
which have now expired. Another saint will then 
obtain the ascendancy and be deified. 

The introduction of Buddhism into Indo-China ap- 
pears to have been through different channels, from 
Bengal and Assam, from Ceylon, and from China. It 
is evident that it must have had a footing in Birmah, 
before Budha-Gosha was deputed to visit the sacred 
isle to copy the Jatits. In fact, it must have been 
brought into the country with the first Pali emigra- 
tion consequent on the overthrow of the Boudhic 
dynasty in Magadha, supposed to be 300 years B.C., 
even if it had not previously extended over these 
countries. It is highly remarkable, however, that the 
Birman era carries us up no higher than A.D. 638. 
This era is said to be that used by the' astronomers of 
Siam, from whom, first the Taliens of Pegu, and then 
the Birmans are supposed, with great probability, to 
have adopted it.* The Siamese, there is reason to 
think, derived their religious lore and language from 
Laos on the borders of Yun-nan : in other words, they 
derived it from China.f But the worship of Fohi or 

* " Wheace the Birmans date their era, I could not learn worn 
them. The akunwoon of the province of Pegu, the most intelligent 
man with whom we conversed, did not seem to know. He said, 
that whenever the king thought the years of the era too many, he 
changed it. The fact, I believe, is, that the era 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 Birmans, 
whose pride hindered them from acknowledging the truth." 
Atiat. Res., vol. vi. p. 171. 

t " It is from this nation " (the Laws or Laos,) " that both the 
Birmans and Siamese allege they derive their laws, religion, and 
institutions. It is in the country of the Laos that all the celebrated 
founders of the religion of Buddha are represented to have left 
their most remarkable vestiges. Ceylon boasts the sacred traces 

BIRMAH. 105 

Buddha was not introduced into China till the first 
century of the Christian era; and the idol is said to 
have been imported from an island towards the west, 
which was probably Ceylon, about A.D. 66.* At 
that time, China was itself divided into petty king- 
doms : these were subsequently reduced to two, the 
northern and the southern, and at length, und*er the 
usurper Yang-kien, were united into one empire, 
A*D. 585. His successor, the first monarch of the 
Tang dynasty, which lasted for nearly 300 years, 
began to reign in the year 626 ; a period so nearly 
answering to the Birman era, (especially when we 
allow for the difference between the Birman and the 

of the left foot of Buddha on the top of the mountain Amali-sri- 
pali, or Adam's Peak. Siam exhibits the traces of the right foot 
on the top of the golden mountain Swa-na-bapato. Other traces 
of the sacred step are sparingly scattered over Pegu, Ava, and 
Arraoan. But it is among the Laos that all the vestiges of the 
founder of this religion seem to be concentered, and thither de- 
votees resort to worship at the sacred steps of Pra Ku-ku-son, Pra 
Kon-na-kon, Pra Putha-kat-sop, and Pra Samutta Kodom ; Siam- 
ese names of the four Buddhas, corresponding to the Birman 
Kaukason, Gonasom, Kasyapa, and Gautama ; and to the Cey- 
lonese Kakusanda, Konagom, Kasyapa, and Gautama." The 
Laos language, which, there is no reason to think, varies but very 
slightly from the Siamese, is said to abound in books, especially in 
translations from the Pali. HAMILTON'S Gazetteer, art. Laos. 

* Some authorities make it later. " In no age," remarks the 
learned Missionary Milne, " has China been free from idolatry ; 
but it greatly increased after the time of Laou-tsze, A.C. 500, the 
restorer of the religion of Taou, and especially after the introduc- 
tion of the superstition of Fuh, A.D. 81 . This last dragged in with 
it from the west, a sacred language the doctrine of a non-entity 
the transmigration of souls the final absorption of good men into 
deity also, a degrading idolatry and superstitions without number. 
We recognise :"n this sect, Indian deities, Indian doctrines, an In- 
dian language, and Indian canonicals. It has carried the Chinese 
nation further off from the fountain of life than it was before." 
First Trn Years of the Protestant Mission to China, by WILLIAM 
MILNE. (Malacca, 1820). P. 28. 

106 B1RMAH. 

Julian years,) that we are tempted to consider it as 
the real epoch adopted by the Siamese astronomers. 
On the other hand, M. Reinusat, in his learned " Dis- 
sertations on the Religion and Antiquities of the 
Hindoo and Tatar Natic-ns," has given a list of 
twenty-eight Buddhas, or Buddhic patriarchs, con- 
tained in a Japanese manuscript, which terminates 
with one who is said to have been the last who fixed 
his abode in Hindostan, and who, retiring to China, 
died there A.D. 495.* It would seem that the eccle- 
siastical supremacy of the Chinese sovereign, as lord 
of the Buddhic world, may be dated from that period. 
This last Buddha, who is said to have assumed the 

* This list is given in a paper explanatory of a Hindu map of 
sixty kingdoms. The name and birth-place of each illustrious 
rishi (saint) is carefully specified, together with the period of his 
death, in Chinese characters and Japanese letters, precisely answer- 
ing to the Sanscrit or Pali word. The birth of Sakya-muni is 
fixed on the eighth day of the fourth moon of the twenty-fourth 
year of the reign of Tchao-wang, of the dynasty of Tcheou ; that 
is, according to De Guignes, 1029 B.C. He is stated to have lived 
79 years, which, added to the 1445 years assigned to his successors, 
twenty-eight in number, down to Bodhidana, bring us to A.D. 
495. " The twenty-seventh patriarch burned himself A.D. 457, 
and left the secret doctrine to that Bodhidana, of the caste of 
Kettris, and son of the king of Mawar, in Western India, who 
changed his name to Bodhi-dharma, and was the twenty-eighth 
patriarch, and the last who fixed his residence in Hindostan. In 
fact, he embarked on the sea of the south, went to China, and 
fixed himself near the celebrated mountain of Soung, in the vicinity 
of Honan, where he died the fifth of the tenth moon, the nine- 
teenth year tai-ho ( A.D. 495). I came into this country, he said in 
dying, to teach the law, and to deliver men from their passions. 
Every flower produces five petals, which set themselves in fruit. 
Thus I have fulfilled my destiny. He bequeathed the secret doc- 
trine to a Chinese, who took the mystic name of Tsoui-kho." 
REMUSAT, Melanges Asiatiques, p. 125. Kcempfer, in his History 
of Japan, declares that Buddhism began generally to spread through- 
out that country, A.D. 518. It had been introduced, however, 
about A.D. 63. 

BIRMAH. 107 

name of Bodhi-dharma, is expressly stated to have been 
of the Khetri or Cshatriya caste, and son of the king of 
Mawar or Bahar. He took up his residence near the 
celebrated mountain of Soung, in the vicinity of the 
city of Ho-nan, and at his death bequeathed his office to 
a Chinese, who assumed the name of Tsoui-kho (skilful 
penetration). The first four successors of Bodhi- 
dharma were honoured with the title of muni or moonee 
(philosopher). But in the year 713, having acquired 
a greater degree of political influence, the Buddhic 
patriarch was dignified with the titles of great mas- 
ter and spiritual prince of the law. The Mongol 
princes, following up the system, attached to their 
throne this representative of Buddha, under the high 
titles of director of the conscience, chief of spiritual 
affairs, master of the kingdom (&oue-sse) , master of 
the emperor (ti-sse), and, at length, as the sovereign, 
immaculate, immortal, divine non-entity, the Grand 

The removal of the visible head of the Buddhic faith 
from the banks of the Ganges to China, and the esta- 
blishment of the ecclesiastical supremacy of the Chinese 
monarch, are certainly circumstances of sufficient im- 
portance to present a probable explanation of a new 
era. Bodhi-dharma died, however, we have seen, 
about 140 years before the Birman or Siamese era. 

* " It is a general belief in Tibet, that the arts and sciences had 
their origin in the holy city of Benares, which the inhabitants have 
been taught to esteem as the source both of learning and religion. 
Their alphabet and character they acknowledge to be derived from 
the Sanscrit. According to tradition, the ancient teachers of the 
faith professed by the inhabitants of Tibet, proceeded from Benares. 
There are two sects of priests, distinguished by their dress ; the 
red or the yellow cap. The latter is reckoned the most orthodox, 
andhas, nmong his votaries, theemperor of China." HAMILTON'S 
Gaz., art. Tibet. 

108 BIRMAH. 

That era, therefore, if connected with these events, 
must have been determined by some subsequent poli- 
tical or ecclesiastical change in one of the two coun- 
tries. However this may have been, the supremacy 
of the Chinese Boa (Ou-dee-Boa) or emperor, over 
the Indo-Chinese kingdoms, territories too distant to 
have been retained by the mere tie of conquest, appears 
to have been universally acknowledged, till Minderajee- 
praw, after the conquest of Arracan, first ventured to 
assert his equal dignity and independence by assum- 
ing the title of Boa of Birmah. 

Thus, then, we seem to have a variety of concurring 
evidence to prove that Buddhism had its origin in 
India, where it was identified with a dynasty of mo- 
narchs, and with a race whose vernacular dialect has be- 
come the sacred language as well of Ceylon as of all the 
other Indo-Chinese nations. The origin of the Bir- 
raans and Arracanese, as well perhaps of the Singh- 
alese, as a people, seems clearly referrible to emigra- 
tions of the Khetri caste from Magadha. The aboriginal 
population of Birmah was doubtless Tatar, and con- 
sisted of rude tribes similar to the Karayns. The 
Birmans themselves had probably well nigh lost all 
remembrance of their sacred institutes, having become 
a mixed people, when a learned brahman was sent to 
Ceylon to copy the sacred writings. In that island, 
the Buddhic religion appears to have been preserved 
in its greatest purity, probably as having been the 
asylum of the fugitive priesthood ; and from thence it 
was communicated to Japan and China. In the 
mean time, it appears to have spread northward over 
Bootan and Tibet, and the shadowy representative of 
the Buddhic sovereigns found refuge in China, whose 
monarch claims to be considered as the khalif of Bud- 
dhism. The emigrations of Chinese fugitives, conse- 

BIRMAH. 109 

quent on the Tatar conquest, may account for the 
superior information and polish ascribed to the people 
of Laos. Nor is there any violence in supposing that 
Buddhism, which had travelled from Magadha to 
Ceylon, and from Ceylon to China, found its way 
through Laos, by means of Chinese fugitives or 
colonists, to Siam and Pegu, and thus met, as it were, 
with the Buddhism already imported into Birmah, 
both from Ceylon and from Bengal.* 

There are several highly-interesting inquiries con- 
nected with the history of Buddhism and its intro- 
duction into these regions, to which we hare not 
ventured to advert. Whether the religious creed 
which it displaced was of a purer kind, as in China, 
or only a grosser adolatry, and whether Buddhism 
itself be not a corruption of a purer faith, are ques- 
tions not of very easy solution. How far any of the 
tenets or institutions of the Indo-Chinese nations may 
be thought to exhibit traces of a Christian origin, is 
also a curious inquiry. When it is recollected, that a 
Nestorian mission was introduced into Ceylon in the 
fifth or sixth century, it. is certainly possible that the 
striking coincidences observable in many parts of the 

* " The Birmans of Ava acknowledge the superior antiquity of 
the Cingalese, and the reception of their laws and religion from 
that quarter. The king of Ava has, within the last thirty years, 
at separate times, sent two messengers, persons of learning and 
respectability, to Ceylon, to procure the original books on which 
their tenets are founded. In one instance, the Birman minister 
made official application to the governor-general of India, to pro- 
tect and assist the person charged with the commission." HAMIL- 
TON'S Gazetteer, art. Ceylon. On the other hand, we are told, 
that "the Birmans entertain the highest reverence for Magadha. 
A deputation from his majesty of Ava visited the sacred places in 
that vicinity a few years ago." FINLAYSON'B Siam, p. 252, note 
(by SirS. Raffles.) 


110 BIRMAH. 

Buddhic system are not purely accidental.* The 
zarado who furnished the account, already referred 
to, of the religion of Birmah, mentions six impostors, 
teachers of false doctrine, who had appeared prior to 
the coming of Guadma. " The second of these pre- 
tenders taught," he says, "that after death, men are 
by no means changed into animals, and that animals, 
on being slain, are not changed into men ; but that 
after death, men are always born men, and animals 
born animals." "This," remarks Dr. Buchanan, 
" was probably the doctrine adopted by the Birmans 
before they embraced the religion of Buddha, for it is 
yet retained by the Pegu and Birman Carayns."f 
According to Mr. Judson, it is not more than about 
eight hundred years ago, that the religion of Boodha 
was first publicly recognised as the religion of this 
country. J 

The resemblances between some of the rites and 
regulations of the Romish Church and the monastic 
institutions of the Birman religion, are so striking as 
to suggest the idea that one must have been copied 
from the other, or both from a common model. In- 
deed, Father Boori, a Portuguese missionary who 
visited Cochin China in the sixteenth century, pro- 

* The Cingalese annals record that, in the fourth century, the 
throne of that island was usurped by two Malabar missionaries, 
who administered the government for upwards of twenty years, 
and were at length slain by a member of the royal family. 
HARVARD, p. Ixii. 

t Asiat. Research, vol. vi. p. 267. 

1 " Here, about eight hundred years ago, Ah-rah-ran, the first 
Boodhist apostle of Birmah, under the patronage of king Anan-ra- 
tha-men-zan, disseminated the doctrines of atheism, and taught 
his disciples to pant after annihilation as the supreme good." 
JUDSON, p. 224. 


tests in despair, in his narrative, " that there is not a 
dress, office, or ceremony in the church of Rome, to 
which the devil has not here provided some counter- 
part. Even when he began inveighing against the 
idols, he was answered, that these were the images of 
departed great men, whom they worshipped exactly on 
the same principle and in the same manner as the 
Catholics did the images of the apostles and martyrs."* 

The following additional particulars respecting the 
ecclesiastical system of the Birmans, are taken chiefly 
from Dr. Buchanan's valuable papers in the Asiatic 

The priests of Guadma, or rahaans, are all regulars, 
member of some kioum (monastery), and under the 
direction of a superior, in a manner strikingly resem- 
bling the monastic orders of the Romish Church. 
They are under vows of celibacy, and live together in 
their convents or colleges, which are by much the best 
habitations in the country. Every kioum has a head 
called zara, which may be interpreted "reader," but 
it may also be translated abbot. In a particular man- 
ner is respected the zarado (or seredaw), or royal 
abbot, who may be likened to the king's confessor. 
His apartments are very superb, and his attendants 
very numerous. Next to the emperor, he is the per- 
son to whom the greatest external homage is paid, and 
he is permitted to sleep under a piasath, a dignity not 
enjoyed even by the king's eldest son, who already 
possesses one half of the imperial power. But al- 
though these zaras possess grades of rank conformable 
to the opulence of their kioums, and the power of 
their patrons, every zara manages his own establish- 

Murray's Hist, of Discoveries in Asia, vol. iii. p. 249. 


ment, without any appeal to a superior, or even to the 
head zarado. 

The respect shewn to the rhahaans by the lay 
inhabitants is very great. The road on all occasions 
is yielded to them ; they are always addressed as 
phongi (or pun-jee, eminence) and bura (praw, lord) . 
They are permitted to use painting and gilding, and 
even white, the royal colour, common only to their 
divinity and the monarch. Although thus honoured, 
they retain the greatest simplicity in their manners, 
the dress of the high zarado not differing from the 
multitude prostrate before him. When at Rangoon, 
he used, like other rhahaans, to perform his rounds 
bare-footed, and to receive from house to house the 
rice that was offered as alms. In this, perhaps, there 
was somewhat more than humility, as the streets 
were covered with cloth, and the men prostrated 
themselves at his feet, begging his blessing, while the 
women were kept out of his way, as unworthy to be in 
the presence of a man so weaned from the pleasures of 

The necessaries for a rhahaan are, a sabeit (pitcher), 
a proper yellow garment, a large fan, serving for an 
umbrella, a mat and pillow for a bed, a bucket to 
draw water, a bottle to keep it in, and a drinking 
cup. The rhahaans are allowed to eat every thing 
they receive as a present, provided it be ready dressed, 
for they never kindle a fire, for fear of destroying 
some insect. On professing, the phonghi, or novice, 
is told, that his first duty consists "in eating that 
food only which is procured by the labour and motion 
of the muscles of the feet." What is meant is this : 
" Every morning, as soon as they can distinguish the 
veins on their hands, the rhahaans issue from their 

BIRMAH. 113 

convents, and spread themselves all over the neigh- 
bouring streets and villages : as they pass along, they 
stop at the different doors, but without saying a word. 
If the people of the house are disposed to be charitable, 
or have not already given away all that has been 
prepared for the purpose, a person, generally the 
mistress of the house, comes out, puts the ready- 
dressed provisions into the sabeit, and the rhahaan 
goes on in silence, without returning thanks. Nor 
does he ever solicit for any thing, should it not be 
convenient or agreeable for the family to bestow alms, 
but, after standing for a few minutes, proceeds on his 
rounds. So nice are they in this particular, that it 
is deemed sinful for a rhahaan on such occasions to 
cough, or make any signal, by which he might be 
supposed to put the laity in mind of their duty. As 
they literally take no care for the morrow, the super- 
fluity they daily give away to animals, to the poor, 
and to needy strangers and travellers. In order that 
they may be able to supply these demands, as well as 
to comply with the letter of this law, even when they 
are in no want of provisions, the rhahaans make their 
daily rounds. From this regulation It results, that 
where there are not a sufficiency of inhabitants to 
support a convent, there are no rhahaans; and thus 
the finest kioums in old Ava are deserted, and their 
gilded halls have become the habitations of outlaws 
and unclean animals." 

Among the instructions delivered to the rhahaan on 
his ordination are the following : " Whoever is ad- 
mitted into the priesthood, can by no means be per- 
mitted to extol himself as a saint, or as a person en- 
dowed with any preternatural gifts ; such as the gifts 
called meipo or zian; nor is it lawful for him to 
declare himself a hermit, or a person that loves soli- 

114 BIRMAH. 

tude. The priest who, prompted by ambition, falsely 
and impudently pretends to have obtained the extraor- 
dinary gifts of zian or of meipo, or to have arrived 
at nieban, is no longer a priest of the divine order. 
To what can he be compared ? In the same manner 
as a palm-tree cut through the middle can never be 
rejoined so as to live ; in such manner shall this am- 
bitious priest be unworthy of being esteemed as 
belonging to the sacred order." * 

The priests have no regular service like the mass. 
" As far as I could learn," Dr. Buchanan says, 
" they do not officiate at all in the temples. Very 
few of them were present at any religious ceremonies 
or processions; nor do any of them appear to take 
charge of the temples or images. Their time seems 
to be employed in instructing the youth, in reading, 
and soliciting alms."f This statement is hardly 
consistent with the account which represents them as 
passing a great part of their time reposing in seques- 
tered and umbrageous spots, as if absorbed in contem- 
plation. The Birmans are very fond of processions: 
scarcely a week passes, Colonel Symes says, in 
which there is not a religious spectacle of some kind 
at Rangoon ; either a pompous funeral, or rather 
incineration, or some festival or ceremony. They 
observe a species of Lent, which is followed by a 
month of public festivity. In their prayers, they use 
rosaries; these are made sometimes of amber beads, 
sometimes of seeds, especially those of the Canna 
Indica, a plant peculiarly sacred to Buddha, and sup- 
posed to have sprung from his blood, when, once upon 
a time, he cut his foot with a stone. They are in pos- 

* Asiat. Res. vol. vi. p. 289. Ziau and meipo are different de- 
grees of abstraction or absorption, 
t Asiat. Res. vol. vi. p. 279. 

BIRMAH. 115 

session of one very singular privilege. It is a law, 
that no criminal can be executed within the walls of a 
city, nor can he be put to death should a rhahaan touch 
him when being led to execution. " This privilege," 
Dr. Buchanan says, " they often exert ; and although 
they are, no doubt, sometimes bribed thus to save a 
bad man, yet, I believe, they much oftener interfere 
to prevent injustice'"* Col. Symes was told, that 
there were formerly nunneries of virgin priestesses, 
who, like the rhahaans, wore yellow garments, cut off 
their hair, and devoted themselves to religious duties ; 
but these societies were suppressed many years ago, as 
being unfavourable to the increase of the population. 
" At present," adds this gentleman, " there are a few 
old women, who shave their heads, wear a white dress, 
follow funerals, and carry water to the convents ; and 
these venerable dames have some portion of respect 
shewn to them." Whether these Buddhic vestals 
have the same privileges as the rhahaans, we are not 
told; but the classic reader will probably be not a 
little startled at finding these traces of customs so 
nearly allied to the institutions of Greece and Rome, 
among the semi-barbarous tribes of eastern Asia. We 
should err, however, were we to consider all the rites 
and usages which are now incorporated with the 
Birman religion, as original or essential and charac- 
teristic parts of Buddhism. Like every other form of 
superstition, it has undergone the modifications intro- 
duced by time, and has taken its complexion from 
national character, blending itself, in different coun- 
tries, more or less, with creeds and customs ancient 
and modern, Christian and heathen, Indian, Ta- 
tiirian, and Chinese. What its peculiar doctrines may 

Asiat. Res. vol. vi. pp. 276, 297. 

116 BIRMAH. 

be, is an inquiry more curious than important, except 
as it relates to the obstacles they may create in the 
way of the communication and spread of a purer faith. 
In this point of view, its negative character, as con- 
trasted with the Brahminical superstition, is the most 
pleasing feature of the system. But whatever be its 
dogmas, the system, as Mr. Judson remarks, " has 
no power over the heart, lays no restraint upon the 
passions. Though it forbids theft and falsehood, and 
inculcates benevolence, forgiveness of injuries, and 
love of enemies, it is destitute of power to repress the 
one, or to produce the other." In short, it has the 
beauty and symmetry of an image, but there is no 
life in it. 

We have, perhaps, too long detained the reader 
with a disquisition not strictly within the province oi 
the Traveller, but which we have thought adapted to 
throw some light on the present condition of the Indo- 
Chinese countries. In proceeding to avail ourselves 
of the very scanty materials which exist for illustrat- 
ing the topography of this country, our chief guide 
will be Colonel Symes, who visited Ava as envoy from 
the governor-general of India in the year 1795,* to- 
gether with the Journal of Captain Hiram Cox, who 
was selected as the company's first resident at Ran- 
goon, and who visited Amerapoora in 1797 ; besides 
which, the works of older travellers, the journals of 
the American missionaries, and the tracts and com- 
munications scattered through different periodical 
works, are the only accessible sources of informa- 

* Dr. Buchanan, whose contributions to the Asiatic Researches 
have been so repeatedly referred to, accompanied the embassy as 

BIRMAH. 117 


THE river of Rangoon is to the Irrawaddy, what 
the Hoogly is to the Ganges : it forms the grand en- 
trance to the Birman empire. The general appear- 
ance of the river and its banks resembles that of the 
Calcutta river; the navigation, however, is much 
more commodious. The land on each side is low and 
swampy, and the banks are skirted with high weeds 
and brushwood; but the channel is bold and deep. 
Before a vessel is quite land-locked, Dagon pagoda, 
with its gilt spire and tee, is seen towering above the 
trees; and, a little beyond, Syriam pagoda, which is 
of similar shape, but less lofty. Syriam, where the 
first British factory was established, lies up a branch 
of the river that comes from the N. N. E. ; it stands in 
lat. 16 49' N., long. 96 17' E. The Rangoon branch, 
called also the Panlang, comes from the N.W. The 
town is situated on a tongue of land about a mile and 
a half above its confluence with the Syriam river, in 
lat. 16 47' N., long. 96 9' E * The river, thus far, 
is perfectly commodious for shipping ; it is about 600 
yards wide at Rangoon; the water in general deep 
from shore to shore, the bottom good, and the current 
moderate. The spring tides rise twenty feet. The 
banks are soft, and so flat, that there is need of little 
labour for the formation of docks, although they can 
receive ships of 8 and 900 tons. 

The town, as seen from the river, has a rude ap- 
pearance, being composed of straggling huts of cadjan 
(palm-leaf) and bamboo, raised on piles close to the 

* Where not otherwise mentioned, the longitude and latitude 
are given on the authorities of Symes, Buchanan, and Hamilton's 
East India Gazetteer. 

H 2 

118 BIRMAH. 

water's edge, slips for building ships, and mud docks. 
Some few tiled houses are seen among the trees within 
the stockade, and the roof of the custom-house is raised 
two stories in the Chinese style. Part of the timber 
stockade, which encloses what is called the fort, is 
seen towards the river; and near the flag-staff is a 
very good wooden pier, with a crane and steps for 
landing goods. Here, also, is placed the saluting bat- 
tery of sixteen old iron guns, four or six pounders, 
which are run out through port-holes, in a wooden 
breast-work like a ship's side. Many small pagodas, 
some of them with gilt spires, are seen amid the trees 
on both sides of the river. The buildings along shore 
on the town side, extend about one mife and a half, 
and on the opposite one, about a quarter of a mile. 

The city forms a square, surrounded with a high 
stockade ; and on the north side it is further strength- 
ened by a fosse, across which is thrown a wooden 
bridge : on this side, there are two gates j in each of 
the others, only one. Wooden stages are erected in 
several places within the stockade, for musketeers to 
stand on in case of attack. The number of cannon, 
and the. quantity of spoil of every description captured 
here in 1825, prove the efforts made to strengthen 
the place, and to maintain its possession against an 
enemy, to have exceeded greatly the estimate made of 
its state by Col. Symes. Close to the principal wharf 
are (or were, for we are describing Rangoon as it was,) 
two commodious wooden houses, used by the mer- 
chants as an exchange. The streets are narrow, much 
inferior, Col. Symes says, to those of Pegu, but clean 
and well paved. There are numerous channels to 
carry off the rain, over which strong planks are laid 
to prevent any interruption of intercourse. The 
houses are raised on posts ; the smaller are supported 

BIRMAH. 119 

by bamboos, the larger ones by strong timbers. The 
officers of government, the most opulent merchants, 
and all persons of consideration, live within the fort : 
shipwrights, and people of inferior rank, inhabit the 
suburbs, where one entire street, called Tackally, is 
exclusively assigned to women of a class who too gene- 
rally abound in all sea-ports, and who are not permit- 
ted to dwell within the precincts of the fortification. 
The minute and interesting Journal of Mr. Judson, 
the American missionary, who resided nearly twelve 
years at Rangoon, describes the society there to be 
in a very insecure and disorganised state, robberies 
occurring nightly, and murders being very frequent. 
This state of things renders the outskirts of the town 
a very unsafe residence for any persons who might be 
deemed opulent ; but these marauders do not wantonly 
molest the lower classes. Rangoon, in fact, partakes 
of the vicious character of most sea-ports, which, 
attracting all descriptions of persons for the purposes 
of trade, are generally found to exhibit a state of 
manners and public character far below the average 
standard of morals in the interior. 

The population of Rangoon is considerable. In, 
1796, there were 5,000 taxable houses in the city and 
suburbs. Since then, it has enjoyed a flourishing trade, 
and efforts had evidently been made to increase the 
strength of the place. Before the war, it may be 
presumed to have contained at least 30,000 inhabit- 
ants. In January 1810, the town was almost totally 
consumed by fire ; and again, in March 1823, a most 
destructive conflagration was witnessed by the mission- 
aries resident there. " We beheld," says Mr. Judson, 
" several houses in flames, in a range which led 
directly to the city; and, as we saw no exertion to 
extinguish it, we concluded the whole place would be 

120 BIRMAH. 

destroyed. We set off immediately for our house in 
town, that we might remove our furniture and things 
that were there ; but when we came to the town gate, 
it was shut. The poor people, in their fright, had 
shut the gate, ignorantly imagining that they could 
shut the fire out, though the walls and gates were 
made entirely of wood. After waiting, however, for 
some time, the gate was opened, and we removed in 
safety all our things into the mission-house, some 
distance in the suburbs. The fire continued to rage 
all day, and swept away almost all the houses, with 
the walls, gates, &c." In a country of forests, how- 
ever, a wooden town is soon rebuilt. The fire, oc- 
curring in open day, did not occasion any loss of lives ; 
and the structures, light and slender as they are, were 
soon restored. Such is the character of all conflagra- 
tions in the cities of the East, that the same detail 
equally suits Delhi, Constantinople, Pekin, or Ran- 
goon. Fatalists by creed, indolent by habit, careless 
and improvident from the influence of a grinding 
despotism, the inhabitants view the devastation of 
public property with a callous and supine indifference. 
Having long been the asylum of insolvent debtors 
from the different settlements of India, Rangoon is 
crowded, Col. Symes observes, with foreigners of des- 
perate fortune. " Here are to be found fugitives from 
all countries of the East, and of all complexions. Their 
common place of meeting exhibits a motley assemblage 
of merchants, such as few towns of much greater mag- 
nitude can boast of : Malabars, Moguls, Persians, 
Parsees, Armenians, Portuguese, French, and English, 
all mingle here, and are engaged in various branches 
of commerce. They not only receive the protection 
of the government, but enjoy the most liberal tolera- 
tion in matters of religion ; they celebrate their several 

BIRMAH. 121 

rites and festivals, totally disregarded by the Birmans, 
who have no inclination to make proselytes. The 
Birmans never trouble themselves about the religious 
opinion of any sect, nor disturb their ritual cere- 
monies, provided they do not break the peace, or 
intermeddle with their own divinity Guadma." 

Nature has bestowed on Rangoon every facility and 
advantage calculated to render it a flourishing and 
highly important commercial place ; and from its 
position, in skilful hands, it would soon attract the 
richest commerce of these highly-gifted regions, and 
become an entrep6t for India. 

The imports from the British settlements consist 
chiefly of coarse piece goods, glass, hardware, and 
broad cloth; the returns are almost wholly in the 
teak timber, A considerable traffic also is carried on 
by boats, which are fitted out annually as well from 
Rangoon, as from various ports on the great river 
Irrawaddy, and which proceed by way of the Bassien 
river, through the channels which divide Cape Negrais 
from the Continent, to Luckipore and the Dacca pro- 
vinces, and through the whole course of the Brahma- 
pootra. These boats carry in general from 1000 to 1,500 
mounds (of 80 Ibs. each), with a crew of from twenty 
to twenty-five men. Each boat is supposed to contain, 
on an average, the value of 4000 rupees, the greater 
part in bullion : the remainder consists of sheathing 
boards, sticks of copper from China, stick lac, cutch, 
ivory, and wax. The indirect trade of China through 
Arracan, as well as from Rangoon, has of late years 
experienced an increase. In fact, from its geographical 
position, the commerce of Rangoon must become very 
productive and important. 

The facilities of the harbour being so great, and the 
teak forests of Henzawuddy almost inexhaustible, 

122 BIBMAH. 

ship-building forms an important and principal part 
of the occupation of the natives. Vessels of 900 and 
1000 tons burthen are built here at a considerably less 
cost than at any other part of India. In 1800, the 
cost of ship-building at Rangoon was 13/. per ton, 
coppered aud equipped in the European style : the 
French models are those used. It is asserted, that 
ships can be built here for one third less than they 
cost at Calcutta, and for nearly half what they cost at 

Speaking of their method of ship-building, Col. 
Symes observes: "While we admire the structure 
and materials of their ships, we could not overlook the 
mode in which the work was executed, and the obvious 
merit of the artificers. In Bengal, a native carpenter, 
though his business is commonly well done, yet, in his 
manner of performing it, excites the surprise and ridi- 
cule of Europeans. He cuts his wood with a diminu- 
tive adze, in a feeble and slow manner ; and when he 
wants to turn a piece of timber, has recourse to a 
labourer that attends him. Numbers there compensate 
for the want of individual energy: notwithstanding 
this, they finish what they undertake in a masterly 
manner. The Birman shipwrights are athletic men, 
and possess in an eminent degree that vigour which 
distinguishes Europeans, and gives them pre-eminence 
over the enervated inhabitants of the East ; nor, I 
imagine, are the inhabitants of any country capable 
of greater exertions than the Birmans." 

The. convents in the neighbourhood of Rangoon are 
numerous. Colonel Symes was told, that they exceeded 
1,300. From the high importance of the Shoe-dagun 
Pagoda, it follows that the zarado, or head of the 
rhahaans at Rangoon, receives the highest venera- 
tion. He lives in a very handsome monastery half a 

BIRMAH. 123 

mile from the town, on the way to the temple. No- 
thing can more strikingly exemplify the tolerant cha- 
racter of Buddism, than that its chief priest, who 
would not have gone out of his way, or stopped, had a 
monarch accosted him, on being joined by Col. Symes, 
entered freely into conversation with him, and not 
only suffered him to bear him company in his walk 
homeward, but invited him to enter and rest himself. 
The apartment consisted of a large, lofty hall, with 
mats spread on the floor, in the centre of which they 
seated themselves; several young rhahaans who had 
attended him in his walk, ranging themselves at a 
little distance. The conversation, as led by the 
zarado, referred solely to his rank as head of the 
church at Rangoon, and to the sacerdotal titles con- 
ferred on him by the Birman sovereigns. He is de- 
scribed as a diminutive old man, seventy-five years of 
age, but he still walked with a firm step. He wore 
the usual yellow dress of the rhahaans, and both his 
head and feet were bare. He maintained a perfectly 
abstracted appearance, rivetting his eyes on the ground 
before him, even when engaged in conversation; but 
he would seem not to have been wholly dead to the 
vanities of this world, whatever self-denial he might 
practice as to its gratifications. 

About two miles and a half N.N.W. of Rangoon 
stands the stately pagoda of Shoe-dagun, or the Golden 
Dagun. This grand building, although not so high 
by twenty-five or thirty feet as that of the Shoe-madoo 
at Pegu, is much more highly ornamented. The ter- 
race on which it stands, is raised on a rocky eminence, 
considerably higher than the circumjacent country, 
and is reached by above 100 stone steps, that have been 
suffered to fall into decay. The situation renders 
Shoe-dagun a conspicuous object at a distance of many 

124 BIRMAH. 

miles. The tee, or umbrella of open iron-work, and 
the whole of the spire, are richly gilded, and, when 
the sun shines, exhibit a singularly splendid appear- 
ance. The placing of the tee is an act of high import- 
ance and solemnity; it is, in effect, the sanctification of 
the temple, signifying that then, and not until then, 
the divinity takes possession of it. The borders of the 
terrace on which the temple is raised, are planted with 
trees in regular rows. From this eminence, there is 
a beautiful and extensive prospect; the Pegu and 
Rangoon rivers are seen winding through a level, 
woody country, and the temple of Syriam, little in- 
ferior to that of Dagun, stands near the junction of 
the streams. The road leading from the city to the 
temple is formed with care. A wide causeway in 
the centre prevents the rain from lodging, and throws 
it off to the sides. The road is made of bricks, and 
appears to be constructed in a way peculiar to this 
country. The bricks are about one inch and three- 
quarters thick, and are placed on the edges by sixes laid 
transversely. Judging from the length of time which 
has elapsed since the road was laid down, this method 
has all the recommendation of durability, it being very 
little cut up by the clumsy carriages drawn by bullocks 
passing over it. Numberless little spires are ranged 
along the edge of the road, in which are niches to 
receive small images of their divinity Guaduia or 
Dag-un. Several kioums or monasteries lie in this 
direction, generally removed a small distance from 
the public way, under the shade of pipal or tamarind 

The golden temple containing the idol, may chal- 
lenge competition in point of beauty with any other of 
its class in India. The building is composed entirely 
of teak wood, and indefatigable pains are displayed in 

BIRMAH. 125 

the profusion of rich carved work which adorns it. 
The whole is one mass of the richest gilding, with the 
exception of the three roofs, which have a silvery ap- 
pearance. A plank of a deep red colour separates the 
gold and silver, which has a happy effect in re- 
lieving them. The ornaments represent the head 
of the peacock. All round the principal pagoda are 
smaller temples richly gilded, and furnished with 
images of Guadma, whose unmeaning smile meets you 
in every direction, the sight of which, accompanied 
by the constant tinkling of the innumerable bells hung 
on the top or tee of each pagoda,* combines with the 
stillness and deserted appearance of the place, to pro- 
duce an impression on the mind not speedily to be 

The deity now worshipped in tbe temple of Shoe- 
dagun, is unquestionably Buddha ; but how comes he 
to have usurped here the name and honours of the 
monstrous deity who 

" had his temple high 

Reared in Azotus, dreaded through the coast 
Of Palestine, in Gath, and Ascalon, 
And Accaron, and Gaza's frontier bounds ?" 

The word Dag-un or Dagoung is composed of the 
word dag, fish, and the mysterious and sacred mono- 
syllable om, on, aum, or own, a title bestowed upon the 
sun, but which appears, under its various forms, to imply 
divine existence, t Dagon, therefore, is the Fish-God, 

* Each bell has a fan suspended to its tongue, to catch the pass- 
ing breeze. 

t Dagon, according to Sanchoniathon, was Osiris in the shape 
of a fish, Deus Cetus. Said-on is the same deity, both dag and said 
signifying fish, whence the names of Sidon and Beth-saida ; so, 
Beth-dagon, Josh. xv. 41, and xix. 27 ; places so named, in all pro- 
bability, from the idol worshipped there. Derketos or Atargatis 
(from Krros) is the same deity. Under this allegorical represen- 

126 BIRMAH. 

the amphibious deity who was the chief object of Phe- 
nician idolatry. Under this form, Vishnou himself is 
represented in the matsyu avatar, as a man issuing 
from a fish. According to the testimony of Mr. 
Hamelton, the idol originally enshrined here was not 
of a human form ; but he was not allowed to see it. 
There can, however, be little doubt that the place has 
taken its name from the deity to whom it was conse- 
crated, and who was worshipped here, ages before the 
era of Buddha, either by the Tallien nation or by a 
foreign colony ; and that the Indian Gaudama has in- 
herited the honours of the Syrian Dagon, just as the 
Virgin has succeeded in western countries to the 
shrines and altars of the Mater Dea, and the temple 
of Vesta has become the church of the Madonna of the 
Sun. Here, the mariner who has been delivered from 
peril, now presents as his votive offering, a model of a 
ship or boat to Buddha, as his ancestors once did to 
their amphibious patron, and as in many countries is 
practised by the worshippers of the Virgin as Our 
Lady of Deliverance. In like manner, the temple of 
Shoe-madoo (Maha Deo) at Syriam was once, no 
doubt, sacred to the Hindoo Apollo, Sooryii or Syrius; 
and Sitong may perhaps be nothing else than Saidon 
(or 2iTo>i'), the Phenician Dagon under another name.* 
Mr. Judson, the American missionary, was present, 
in 1817, at the grand annual festival held at Rangoon 
in honour of Gaudama. It lasts for three days. " It 

tation, it is plausibly supposed that Noah is referred to. See 
BRTAXT'S Mythology, vol. iii. p. 134; iv. 140; v. 236. CALMET'S 
Dictionary, by TAT LOR, art. Dagon; and Fragments, cxlv. ccxii. 

* If the Philistines or Palestines were, as has been contended, a 
branch of the Palli or Indo-Scythians, it would cease to be remark- 
able, that the same object of worship should be introduced by a 
maritime people into their different colonies. 

BIBMAH. 127 

is observed," he says, " all over the country; but I 
presume the multitude collected in this place is much 
greater than at any other, excepting Ava. Priests 
and people come in boats from a great distance, to 
worship at the pagoda in this place, which is supposed 
to contain a relic of Guadama. The viceroy, on these 
days, goes out in all the pomp and splendour possible, 
dressed and ornamented with all his insignia of office, 
attended by the members of government, and the 
common people. After kneeling and worshipping at 
the pagoda, they generally spend the day in amuse- 
ments, such as boxing, dancing, singing, theatrical 
exhibitions, and fire-works. Most of the older people 
spend the night at the pagoda, and listen to the in- 
structions of the priests. 

" Great and expensive offerings are made at this 
season. One, last year, presented by a member of 
government, cost 3,000 tecals, or 1,200 dollars. It was 
a kind of portable pagoda, made of bamboo and paper, 
richly ornamented with gold leaf and paintings. It 
was a hundred feet in height, and the circumference of 
its base about fifty. Half way up its height was a 
man ludicrously dressed, with a mask on his face, 
white wings on his shoulders, and artificial finger- 
nails, two inches in length, in the posture of dancing. 
This offering was carried by sixty men, preceded by a 
band of music, and followed by the officer who made 
it, and his suite. Other offerings presented at this 
festival are, various kinds of artificial trees, the 
branches and twigs of which are filled with cups, 
bowls, handkerchiefs, and garments of all descriptions : 
these are given to the slaves attached to the pagoda, 
who, the week following, have something like a fair to 
dispose of their offerings. 

" The pagoda to which such multitutes resort, is 

128 BIRMAH. 

one of the largest and most splendid in the empire. 
To give an accurate description of this noble edifice, 
requires an abler pen than mine ; and perhaps a better 
one of its construction and dimensions cannot be 
given, than that which has already been presented to 
the public by Col. Symes, of a similar pagoda at Pegu. 
The beauty and variety of its appendages, however, 
are far superior. After having ascended the flight of 
steps, a large gate opens, when a wild, fairy scene is 
abruptly presented to view. The ground is completely 
covered with a variety of ludicrous objects, which 
meet the eye in every direction, interspersed with the 
banyan, cocoa-nut, and toddy trees. Here and there 
are large open buildings, containing huge images of 
Guadama, some in a sitting, some in a sleeping position, 
surrounded by images of priests and attendants, in the 
act of worship, or listening to his instructions. Before 
the image of Guadama are erected small altars, on 
which offerings of fruit, flowers, &c. are laid. Large 
images of elephants, lions, angels, and demons, toge- 
ther with a number of indescribable objects, assist in 
filling the picturesque scene." 

It was in the year 1813, that this estimable mis- 
sionary and his wife, bidding farewell to the com- 
forts of civilised life and the privileges of Christian 
society, took up their residence at Rangoon, with the 
resolution of devoting themselves to the study of the 
language, for the purpose of being qualified to translate 
the Holy Scriptures and other religious works into 
Birman. There were at the time no English families 
in the town, nor a female in all Birmah with whom 
Mrs. Judson could converse. The difficulties to be 
overcome were appalling, and their situation was alike 
cheerless and defenceless, surrounded by despotism, 
avarice, and cruelty, and the palpable darkness of 

BIRMAH. 129 

heathenism. Several missionaries had previously made 
attempts to reside there, but had been discouraged, 
and had abandoned the enterprise. Too warm praise 
cannot be bestowed on the signal patience, constancy, 
and cheerfulness with which, year after year, they con- 
tinued to prosecute their silent labours, conciliating by 
their manners the esteem of the natives, but without 
attempting any direct attack on their prejudices. That 
they should have remained so long in this unprotected 
situation, without suffering either depredation or in- 
sult, must be admitted, however, to be greatly to the 
credit of the people, and a proof of their mild and tole- 
rant character. 

A few detached extracts from Mrs. Judson's Journal 
will supply some interesting illustrations of the man- 
ners and customs of the inhabitants of Rangoon. 

1813. " Our home is in the mission-house built by 
the English Baptist Society, on the first arrival of 
Messrs. Chater and Carey* in this country. It is 
large and convenient, situated in a rural place, about 
half a mile from the walls of the town.f We have 
gardens enclosed, containing about two acres of ground, 
full of fruit trees of various kinds. In the dry season, 
our situation is very agreeable. We often enjoy a 
pleasant walk within our own enclosure, or in some of 
the adjoining villages. 

"As it respects our food, we are much better cir- 
cumstanced than we expected. We have no bread, 

* The son of the venerable Dr. Carey, of Serampore. Mr. 
Carey married a Birman lady of European extraction, who, to- 
gether with their two children, was drowned in ascending the 
Irrawaddy, through the upsetting of the boat. Mr. Carey nar- 
rowly escaped. 

t They subsequently found it advisable to remove to a house 
in the town. 

130 BIRMAH. 

butter, cheese, potatoes, or scarcely any thing to which 
we have been accustomed. Our principal food is rice 
and curried fowl, and fowls stewed with cucumbers. 
The country presents a rich and beautiful appearance, 
every where covered with vegetation, and, if cultivated, 
would be one of the finest in the world. But the poor 
natives have little inducement to labour, or to accu- 
mulate property, as it would probably be taken from 
them by their oppressive rulers. Many of them live 
on leaves and vegetables which grow spontaneously, 
and some actually die of hunger. At the present time 
there is quite a famine. Every article of provision is 
extremely high; many, therefore, are induced to steal 
whatever comes in their way. There are robberies and 
murders committed frequently. Scarcely a night passes 
but houses are broken open, and things stolen; but 
our trust and confidence are in our Heavenly Father, 
who can easily preserve and protect us." 

1814. "Dec. 11. To-day, for the first time, I have 
visited the wife of the viceroy. I was introduced to 
her by a French lady, who has frequently visited 
her. When we first arrived at the government-house, 
she was not up; consequently we had to wait some 
time. But the inferior wives of the viceroy diverted 
us much by their curiosity in minutely examining 
every thing we had on, and by trying on our gloves, 
bonnets, &c. At last, her highness made her appear- 
ance, richly dressed in the Birman fashion, with a long 
silver pipe in her mouth, smoking. At her appear- 
ance, all the other wives took their seats at a respectful 
distance, and sat in a crouching posture without speak- 
ing. She received me very politely, took me by the 
hand, seated me upon a mat, and herself by me. She 
excused herself for not coining in sooner, on the ground 
of indisposition. One of her women brought her a 

BIRMAH. 131 

bunch of flowers, of which she took several, and orna- 
mented my cap. She was very inquisitive whether I 
had a husband and children, whether I was my hus- 
band's first or principal wife, supposing that Mr. Jud- 
son had several wives. When the viceroy came in, I 
really trembled, for I had never before beheld such a 
savage-looking creature. His long robe arid enormous 
spear not a little increased my dread. He spoke to 
me, however, very condescendingly, and asked if I 
would take some rum or wine. When I arose to go, 
her highness again took my hand, told me she was 
happy to see me, and that I must come to see her 
every day. She led me to the door; I made my 
salaam, and departed." 

1815. Sept. " A. new viceroy has lately arrived, 
who is much respected and beloved by the people. He 
visited us soon after his arrival, and told us that we 
must come to the government-house very often. After 
he had moved into his new house, he gave an invita- 
tion to all the English and Frenchmen to dinner. The 
viceroy and his wife did every thing in their power to 
amuse the company. Among other things were music 
and dancing. The wife of the viceroy asked me if I 
knew how to dance in the English way ? I told her, 
that it was not proper for the wives of priests to dance. 
She immediately assented, deeming that a sufficient 
reason for my declining." 

In the spring of 1816, Mr. and Mrs. Judson -were 
bereaved of the solace of their hearts, in their first- 
born and only son. "A few days after the death 
of our little boy," says Mrs. Judson, "the viceroy's 
wife visited us with a numerous retinue. She really 
appeared to sympathise with us in our affliction, and 
requested Mr. Judson not to let it too much affect his 

132 BIRMAH. 

health, which was already very feeble. Some time 
after her visit, she invited us to go out into the country 
with her for the benefit of our health, and that our 
minds, as she expressed it, might become cool. We 
consented, and she sent an elephant with a howdah 
upon it, for our conveyance. We went three or four 
miles through the woods. Sometimes, the small trees 
were so close together, that our way was impassable 
but by the elephant's breaking them down, which he 
did with the greatest ease, at the word of the driver. 
The scene was truly interesting. Picture thirty men 
armed with spears and guns, and with red caps on 
their heads, which partly covered their shoulders ; 
then, a huge elephant, caparisoned with a gilt howdah, 
containing a tall, genteel female, richly dressed in red 
and white silk. We had the honour of riding next 
to the viceroy's lady ; after us, on three or four ele- 
phants, came her son and some of the members of 
government. Two or three hundred followers, male 
and female, concluded the procession. Our ride ter- 
minated in the centre of a beautiful garden of the 
viceroy's. I say beautiful, because it was entirely the 
work of nature : art had no hand in it. It was full 
of a variety of fruit trees, growing wild and luxuriant : 
the noble banyan formed a delightful shade, under 
which our mats were spread, and we seated ourselves 
to enjoy the scenery around us. Nothing could ex- 
ceed the endeavours of the vice-reine to render our 
excursion agreeable. She gathered fruit and pared 
it, culled flowers and knotted them, and presented 
them with her own hands. At dinner, she had her 
cloth spread by ours, nor did she refuse to partake of 
whatever we presented her. We returned in the 
evening, fatigued with riding on the elephant, de- 

BIRMAH. 133 

lighted with the country and the hospitality of the Bir- 
mans, anJ dejected at their ignorance of the true God." 

Speaking again of this interesting person, the wife 
of the viceroy, Mrs. Judson says : " I had an oppor- 
tunity of trying the sincerity of her friendship at the 
time we procured our order for going to Bengal.* I 
went to her with* a petition, and, contrary to Birman 
custom, appeared without a present. She was in an 
inner room, with the viceroy, when I presented the 
petition, and after hearing it read, she said it should 
be granted. She called her secretary, and directed 
him to write an official order, have it regularly passed 
through all the offices, and impressed with the royal 
stamp. I was determined not to leave her until I 
received the order, as it would be very difficult to ob- 
tain it unless delivered in her presence." As Mrs. 
Judson had foreseen, the official persons wished to 
evade its being executed, and urged her to return 
home, promising that it should be brought her. The 
viceroy's wife asked her if that would answer her pur- 
pose. " Being perfectly acquainted with the object of 
the man," says Mrs. J., " I replied, that I had had 
much anxiety on account of this order, and if it was 
her pleasure, I preferred waiting for it. She said it 
should be as I wished, and ordered the man to expe- 
dite the business." Mrs. Judson was permitted to re- 
main in her apartment until towards the evening, when 
the order was brought in and delivered. 

An order had arrived from court, some time after 
this, for the banishment from the country of all the 
Portuguese priests. There were but three then resi- 
dent at Rangoon; but to ascertain exactly this point, 

* The state of Mr. Judson's health had rendered a change of 
climate necessary; but, \rithout an order from the viceroy, no 
female can leave the country. 


134 BIBMAH. 

the viceroy had directed that all foreign priests should 
appear at the court-house ; and this edict had afforded 
the inferior officers the means of summoning and 
harassing the members of the mission, who were led 
to expect their own banishment. At length, a sum- 
mons, on a Sunday morning, incited Mrs. Judson to 
attend with the Rev. Mr. Hough, who had joined the 
American missionaries^ and to present a petition 
stating the grievance. As soon as she caught the 
viceroy's eye, he, in a very condescending manner, 
called her to come in and make known her request. 
On hearing the petition, the viceroy reproved the 
offender in the most austere manner; at the same 
time giving a written order that Mr. Hough should 
not be called on " his sacred day," and that he should 
be molested no more. 

1819. April. " This evening I went, for the 
second time, to hear a popular Birman preacher. On 
our arrival, we found a zayat* in the precincts of 
one of the most celebrated pagodas, lighted up, and 
the floor spread with mats. In the centre was a frame 
raised about eighteen inches from the ground, where 
the preacher, on his arrival, seated himself. He 
appeared to be about forty-five years of age, of very 

* The zayat is raised four feet from the ground, and divided 
into three parts. The first division is laid entirely open to the 
road, without doors, windows, or a partition in the front side; it 
takes up a third part of the building. Their size is of course re- 
gulated by the probability of the resort of hearers. They are 
made of bamboo and thatch. The building erected on the road 
to the Dag-un pagoda by Mr. Judson, to attract the passers-by, 
(an experiment highly hazardous,) was twenty-seven feet by 
eighteen. It must be considered as a very decisive proof of the 
mild administration of the Birman government, that this bold 
step was persevered in by Mr. Judson for some time, and he had 
made very considerable progress without any personal injury or 

EIRMAH. 135 

pleasing countenance and harmonious speech. He 
was once a priest, but is now a layman. The people, 
as they came in, seated themselves on the mats ; the 
men on one side of the house, and the women on the 
other. The congregation was small, not exceeding a 
hundred persons. The people being convened, one 
appointed for the purpose called three times for silence 
and attention. Each person then took the leaves and 
flowers which had been previously distributed, and 
placing them between his fingers, (as rosaries,) raised 
them to his head, and in that respectful posture 
remained motionless until the service was closed. 
When all things were properly adjusted, the preacher 
closed his eyes, and commenced repeating a portion 
from the Birman sacred writings. His subject was 
the conversion of the two prime disciples of Guadama, 
and their subsequent promotion and glory. His 
oratory I found to be entirely different from all that 
we call oratory. At first, he seemed dull and mono- 
tonous ; but presently his soft mellifluous tones won 
their way into the heart, and lulled the soul into that 
state of calmness and serenity, which, to a Birman 
mind, somewhat resembles the boasted perfection of 
their saints of old. His discourse continued about 
half an hour ; and at the close, the whole assembly 
burst out into a short prayer, after which, all rose 
and retired. This man exhibits twice every evening 
in different places." 

As far as regards acuteness, the Birman teachers 
would seem to be no mean proficients in the art of rea- 
soning, and fit to rank as scholars even of the Athenian 
sophists. Moi- ng-hong, " a disciple of the great Toung- 
dwen teacher, the acknowledged head of the semi- 
atheists," is described as a complete sceptic, scarcely 
believing his own existence, and always quarrelling on 

136 BIRMAH. 

some speculative point with his wife, who is pronounced 
by Mrs. Judson to be the most superior woman, in point 
of intellect, that she met with in Birmah. " If she 
says, the rice is ready, he will reply, Rice ! what is 
rice? Is it matter, or spirit? Is it an idea, or 
is it non-entity ? Perhaps she will say, It is matter. 
He will reply, Well, wife, and what is matter ? Are 
you sure there is such a thing in existence, or are you 
merely subject to a delusion of the senses ? " Yet, in 
manners, our philosopher was all suavity, humility, 
and respect. His wife, " as sharp as himself," 
harassed Mrs. Judson with all sorts of questions 
relative to the possibility of sin's finding entrance 
into a pure mind, or of its being permitted under the 
government of a holy sovereign. In their habits and 
mode of thought and reasoning, the Birmans are in- 
fluenced by a high conceit of their own powers, and a 
fancied superiority, fenced by strong prejudices. This 
was most apparent in the very interesting conversa- 
tions held with Oo-yan, a man of talents and respect- 
ability. On doctrinal points, he discovered a most 
acute, discriminating mind; and his reasoning was 
both insinuating and adroit. Candour, too, was strik- 
ingly evinced by some of the disputants. And num- 
bers, it appears, " indeed, all the semi-atheists," who 
seem to be Buddhists par excellence, are despisers of 
Guadama and the established religion of Birmah. 
While the rhahaans, however, affect to make no pro- 
selytes, both they and the government are strictly 
jealous to detect, and relentless to punjsh any indivi- 
dual Birmans who shall depart from the faith of 
Guadama. They are slaves of the emperor, and it is 
viewed as a mark of treason to dissent in this respect 
from his will. Thus, when the keen reasoners and 
disputants among their doctors could not gainsay the 

BIRMAH. 137 

zeal, talents, and Christian doctrine of Mr. Judson, 
and applied to the liberal-minded Maywoori Mya-day- 
mien to interfere and send him away, asserting that, 
by means of Moung-shway-gnong, a convert, every 
endeavour was making " to turn the priests' rice-pot 
bottom upward," he calmly replied, " What conse- 
quence? Let the priests turn it back again." But 
when proofs were alleged that he had become a 
Christian convert, the viceroy replied, " Then he is 
worthy of death." The mere rumour that the words 
" Inquire further" had proceeded from the lips of the 
viceroy, sufficed to occasion the desertion of the zayat, 
which was consequently shut up in 1819; and Mr. 
Judson determined on the bold measure of proceeding 
to the capital, to present a memorial to the young fno- 
narch. An account of his interview with the lord of 
all elephants will be given under our description of 
the capital. It was unsuccessful ; yet, up to the close 
of the Journal in December 1823, Mr. Judson was 
still allowed to carry on divine worship in private in 
the mission-house, and to give religious instruction to 
all who called upon him, while he prosecuted, as his 
main work, the translation of the New Testament. 

We must now prepare to ascend the mighty Irra- 
waddy; but, before we leave Rangoon, it will be 
proper to make a few remarks on the general appear- 
ance and nature of the surrounding country, and the 
southern portion of the delta. 

The country in the immediate vicinity of Rangoon, 
far from being flat and swampy, is agreeably diver- 
sified with gentle risings and slopes. From the site of 
an old pagoda on an eminence, Captain Cox obtained 
a commanding view of the country for many miles 
round. " The Martaban mountains formed a boun- 
dary to the N.E. To the south, and westward of the 
i 2 

138 BIRMAH. 

river, the meanderings of which are seen for many 
miles, is an extensive plain, cleared for paddy-grounds, 
and bounded by deep forests. The soil of the valleys 
is a fine loam, covered with rich luxuriant pastures ; 
the cattle are as large and in as good a condition as 
are to be seen in any part of India. The soil of the 
knolls or little hills appeared to be a red loam mixed 
with sand, on a basis of red rock, that seems to have 
undergone the action of fire ; it is friable and broken 
on the surface into gravel, and contains, apparently, a 
large portion of iron. The roads at present are very 
indifferent, but might very easily be rendered good 
and fit for carriages. In the vicinity of the town ,are 
several orchards and many pleasant situations for 
building. The air is pure and elastic ; and its general 
salubrity is evinced by the appearance of the inha- 
bitants, who are a hale, robust race."* It has been 
supposed that the inequalities in the soil are artificial. 
Nothing, however, Captain Cox states, can be more 
distant from the truth. Immediately to the north- 
ward of the town, a gentle ridge commences, extend- 
ing from the river two miles and a half, north and 
south: at its highest point, it is two hundred feet 
at least above the level of the river at neap tides. In 
its breadth, it varies from fifty to four hundred yards, 
shelving away to the westward, and sending off bluff 
spires to the eastward, f On the apex or northern 

* " The climate is good," says Mrs. Judson, " better than any 
other part of the East." 

t The soil of this ridge is, 1st. A thin stratum of vegetable 
mould, mixed with silicious earth, which latter predominates ; this 
first stratum is of various depths, from twelve feet to a few inches ; 
2d. Red, ferruginous, porous rock, with its stratum vertical or per- 
pendicular to the horizontal strata of the other classes ; 3d. De- 
composed red ferruginous rock, mixed with silicious earth, with a 
large proportion of iron ore, red, yellow, and blue ; 4th. Argilla- 

BIRMAH. 139 

edge of this ridge, stands the stupendous pagoda of 
Shoe-dagun; and to the north of it, in a hollow 
formed by the rains, is a pool of water, limpid but 
acid to the taste.* Wherever the blue, ponderous 
stone (which forms the sixth stratum) has been laid 
bare by the monsoon torrents, and is exposed to the 
rays of the sun, a native copperas is formed. The 
rocks on the surface near the large pool have the 
appearance of sandstone, in many places skinned over 
with a thin crust of red, dephlogisticated iron ore ; 
but when exposed to the air, they fall into a yellowish 
white impalpable powder. On the surface of the mud 
deposited in those pools which have been dried up by 
evaporation, a yellow scum appears; and among the 
rocks and hollows, the presence of sulphur is strongly 

" The general course of the river is to the S.E., but 
with frequent and deep windings, where the reaches 
on the river are about 250 yards broad, winding 
sometimes less than 100 yards, but with depth suf- 
ficient for ships. The banks are low, highest on the 
north-eastern side, and appear well cultivated and 
interspersed with straggling houses. The spontaneous 
growth of the banks are cane reeds from six to ten feet 
high, the tops of which are excellent provender for 
cattle. The soil from the edge of the river, is an 
unvaried stratum of rich, sandy loam " 

ceous earth, white clay ; 5th. Blue, silicious earth, with a large 
proportion of iron ore and vitriolic acid ; and Cth, immediately 
below it, is a dark blue, ponderous, granular stone, emitting fire 
on collision with steel, containing a large proportion of iron ore 
and vitriolic acid. 

* From the result of some experiments on the water, Cap- 
tain Cox was led to conclude that it is a pure chalybeate, contain- 
ing iron held in solution by either sulphuric or vitriolic acid, with 
a very small proportion of magnesia and common salt. 

140 BIRMAH. 

Panlang (by Captain Cox written Pau-layn), the 
first station above Rangoon, has once been a town of 
considerable magnitude, and the number of boats 
generally moored near ft, indicate that it is still a 
place of some importance. Here, the Rangoon river, 
which is frequently called the Panlang-mioup, sepa- 
rates from the great stream in the same manner as 
the Hoogley does from the Ganges. The principal 
branch, which is about 700 yards in width at this 
junction, pursuing a southerly course, divides, as it 
approaches the sea, into a number of channels, which 
are filled by the tide, and are for the most part navi- 
gable. The eastern bank is in the viceroyalty of Pegu, 
but the opposite country is included in the province of 
Dalla. The great delta of the Irrawaddy, extending 
from the western mountains of Cape Negrais to Sirian 
or Syriam, is about 110 geographical miles in length, 
and is divided into the governments of Negrais Bas- 
sien (or Persaim), Dalla, Rangoon, and Syriam. The 
district of Dalla extends westward to Mainda, the 
residence of the governor of the district ; a town con- 
sisting of one long street, at the east end of which is a 
creek, which extends all the way to Bassien, and has 
twelve feet of water at high tide. The city of Dalla, 
from which the district takes its name, is said to be on 
the western bank of an arm of the Irrawaddy, called 
the Chinabucker, and was formerly a place of import- 
ance. The jurisdiction is entirely distinct from that 
of Rangoon, which is vested in the viceroy of Henza- 
waddy : the Pegu maywoon cannot interfere with a 
criminal on the Dalla side of the river. 

Bassein (properly Persaim) is seated on the river to 
which it gives name, called also the Negrais river, the 
westernmost branch of the Irrawaddy, which falls into 
the Indian Ocean at Cape Negrais. The harbour is 

BIRMAH. 141, 

commodious, and it is reported that vessels of any 
size might securely anchor in its stream. The British 
factory established here in 1757, was destroyed in the 
wars between the Birmans and Taliens in the days of 
Alompraw ; and as it has never been restored, Bassien, 
though occupying so favourable a position, has not, of 
late years, been visited by Europeans, Rangoon having 
become the emporium of the empire. It stands in lat. 
16 50' N., long. 93 E. 

The island of Negrais lies off the mouth of the 
Bassien or Negrais river. Its only importance is 
derived from the harbour. There is not a single 
spring of fresh water, nor any habitation on the 
island. The coast is here a barren desert, covered 
with an impenetrable jungle. Towards the north, 
there is a hill crowned with an old pagoda, from 
which the point of Cape Negrais is known under the 
name of Pagoda Point. At its foot, a flat has been 
cleared of jungle sufficiently to allow of the erection 
of a few fishermens' huts. Negrais harbour is said 
to be, without exception, the most secure in the Bay 
of Bengal, as from hence a ship launches out at once 
into the open sea, and may work to the southward 
without any other impediment than the monsoon 

The whole delta of the Irrawaddy, including the 
country southward and westward of Tonghoo, and 
between Cape Negrais and the Bagoo-kioup, is now 
called Henzawaddy. The tract lying between the 
Syriam river and the Sittong river, formed the an- 
cient kingdom of Sittong, which divides Henzawaddy 
from Martaban. Exclusive of the delta, there is very 
little low land in the Birman dominions. The teak- 
tree does not grow here ; but even at a short distance 

142 BIRMAH. 

from Syriam, the country is dry and hilly. The soil 
is remarkably fertile, and produces the finest rice. 


THE voyage from Rangoon to the capital in the 
dry season, may be accomplished in little more than 
a month; it occupied, however, Colonel Symes and 
Captain Cox fifty-one and fifty-two days. The stream 
is always very rapid, but, at the season of its increase, 
it would become too powerful to admit of any boats 
proceeding upwards, were it not for the assistance of 
the south-west monsoon, which sets in at the same 
period, and enables them to stem the current. The 
navigation, however, is troublesome and tedious, 
owing to the frequent halts which it is necessary to 
make, to afford rest to the boatmen. Mr. Judson 
descended the river from Ava to Rangoon in twelve 

The boats which navigate the Irrawaddy in large 
fleets, and are constantly plying on its waters, are 

* Colonel Symes left Rangoon on May 29, 1795, and reached 
Amerapoora on the 20th of July ; the river was then regularly on 
its increase. Captain Cox set out from Rangoon, December 5, 1 796, 
at which season the stream was at the lowest, and reached the 
capital on January 25th. Mr. Judson embarked December 21st, 
1819, and reached the landing place of the capital January 25, being 
only the thirty-sixth day. On his return, he left Amerapoora on 
the 6th of February, and arrived at Rangoon on the 18th, being 
just a third of the time required to ascend the river, and not a 
fourth of the interval occupied by the voyage of Colonel Symes. 
In like manner, in ascending the Magdalena, boats are sometimes 
delayed, in the rainy season, from fifty to sixty days ; the average 
time is about twenty-five days ; whereas in descending, the voyage 
may be accomplished in seven days. Ten leagues is reckoned, in 
going up the stream, " a good day's journey." See MOD. TRAV., 
Colombia, p. 300, &c. 

BIRMAH. 143 

constructed on a commodious plan, and are well 
adapted to make their course against the powerful 
stream. A boat sixty feet in length measures not 
more than twelve feet across in the widest part. But 
the consequence of their being thus long and narrow 
is, that they not only require a great deal of ballast, 
but would be in constant danger of oversetting, were 
they not provided with outriggers, consisting of thin 
boards, or buoyant bamboos, which compose a plat- 
form extending horizontally six or seven feet on the 
outside of the boat from stem to stern; so that the 
vessel can incline no further than until the platform 
touches the edge of the water, when she immediately 
rights. Upon this platform the boatmen ply their oars, 
or impel the vessel forward by poles.* Here the crew 
sleep by night, and lire by day ; protecting themselves 
from the weather by putting up mats, or spreading a 
sail from the roof of the boat to the outside edge. A 
sort of cabin is constructed by taking away one thwart 
beam near the stern, laying a floor two feet below the 
gunwale, and raising an arched roof about seven feet 
above the floor; a commodious room is thus formed, 
14 feet in length and 10 feet in width, together with a 
small closet. At the stern is a stage, on which the 
leedegee or steersman takes his stand. A vacant space 
is left of about seven feet, where a kettle may be boiled 
and dinner cooked. On each side of the cabin, a door 
opens on the platform, and there are windows which 
admit of a free circulation of air. The roof is made 
of bamboos covered with mats, and over all is extended 
a piece of canvass that effectually secures it from the 
heaviest rain. The inside is neatly lined with matting. 

* In the same manner the roof of the champans, or flat-bot- 
tomed boats used on the Magdalena, serve as a deck for the boat- 
men, on which they stand to push along the boat with their poles. 

144 BIRMAH. 

A vessel of this bulk will require a crew of twenty-six 
boatmen, besides the leedegee, who acts as captain. 
Boats of precisely similar construction, with the ex- 
ception of the outriggers, are described by Herodotus, 
and are still to be seen represented on the sculptured 
walls of the Egyptian temples. 

The Irrawaddy, or, as it might be rendered, Ele- 
phantine river,* has been supposed to derive its name 
from the vast herds of that majestic animal which 
abound on its banks. As the word, however, is San- 
scrit, this is not so likely, as that it has a mythological 
reference, or that the sacred name of the Indian Iravati 
has been transferred to the Birman river; agreeably to 
the practice of all colonists, who love to bestow, on the 
ground of some real or fancied analogy, the names of 
their native scenes on new regions. Deep jungles 
skirt the banks of the river in this part, and, as usual 
in all uncleared tracts under this latitude, there is no 
trifling drawback on the pleasures of the voyage, occa- 
sioned by the swarms of mosquitoes. Captain Cox 
describes them as the largest and most ravenous he 
ever met with; and Col. Symes, as venomous beyond 
what he ever felt. Two pairs of thick stockings were 

We have already noticed the various orthography observed 
by different travellers in giving the name of this river. That 
which we have adopted in the text, is not the most correct, but 
comes near the pronunciation, and has been most commonly fol- 
lowed in our maps. Col. Francklin writes it Era Wuddey; Mrs 
Judson, A-rah-wah-tee and Aiayawotte; others, Iravati and Ira- 
bati ; from which it is easy to suppose that the word Ava has 
been formed. In like manner, the Elephantine river of India, 
the third of the Punjab, is called the Ravey, a corruption of 
Iravati, which the Greeks turned into Hydroates or Hydravates. 
The Nile also, which the Irrawaddy in many respects resembles, 
had the same title of Elephantine where it entered Egypt from 
the north, although the elephant is believed not to be indigenous 
.in Africa. See note at p. 4. 

BIRMAH. 145 

insufficient to guard against their attacks. The ser- 
vants, and even the boatmen, got no rest all night. A 
kind of reed that grows on the banks, breeds and har- 
bours them in the greatest abundance. Fortunately, 
this pest does not extend many miles up the river: a 
war-boat, quickly rowed, can soon escape from them, 
but a heavy vessel must lie for one tide exposed to their 
action. " They assailed us," says Col. Symes, " even 
in the day-time, and in such numbers, that we were 
obliged to fortify our legs with boots, and put on thick 
gloves, while, by continual flapping with a handker- 
chief, we endeavoured to defend our faces. But no 
sooner had darkness commenced, than these trouble- 
some insects redoubled their attacks in such multi- 
tudes, of such a size, and so venomous, that, were a 
European with a delicate skin to be exposed uncovered 
to their ravages for one night, it would nearly prove 
fatal. The Birman boatmen, whose skins are not 
easily penetrated, cannot repose within their action, 
and the Bengal servants actually cried out in tor- 
ment."* Indigo is cultivated here in patches on the 

* This is nothing to the insect plagues of the New World. Along 
the whole course of the Magdalena, innumerable insect tormentors 
wage war upon the lord of the creation. Mosquitoes near the sea, 
and further up, enormous flies glut themselves with his blood. 
See MOD. TRAV., Colombia, p. 292. A very interesting account 
of the singular manner in which these insects attach themselves to 
a particular spot, exhibiting varieties of species in the space of a 
few leagues, and never intermixing, and of other phenomena con- 
nected with their geographical distribution, may be found in 
Humboldt's Pers. Narr., vol. v. pp. 85118. " How comfortable 
must people be in the moon !" said an Indian to Father Gumilla; 
"she looks so beautiful and clear, that she must be free from 
mosquitoes." "When two persons meet in the missions of the 
Orinoco, the first questions they address to each other are : " How 
did you find the zancudoes (venomous gnats) during the night ? 
How stand we to-day as to mosquitoes ?" " These questions," 
adds the learned Traveller, " remind us of a Chinese form of 

146 BIRMAH. 

banks of the river, which are generally about a mile 
apart, with houses scattered at intervals. " Where- 
ever I have landed," says Capt. Cox, " the natives 
have appeared to me as well lodged, clothed, and fed, 
as the peasantry of any part of India I have seen. 
Every family plant their own indigo, cotton, and 
paddy; and the women spin, manufacture, and dye 
all the cloth necessary for their own consumption, 
while the men attend the labours of the field. Consi- 
dering that there is no encouragement for exporting 
the surplus produce, I am at a loss to account for any 
appearance of opulence among them. That they have 
some commerce is, however, certain, from the number 
of excellent boats of burthen that are seen lying at 
every considerable town, or passing and repassing. 

Above Panlang, the influence of the tide becomes 
weaker, and the water during the ebb is fresh. At 
Ran-gen-tsen-yah, (or, as Colonel Symes writes it, 
Yangain-chain-yah,) a village about forty miles from 
Rangoon, the traveller passes out of the Panlang or 
Rangoon stream, and enters into the great Irrawaddy. 
The course of the stream is here nearly south, and 

politeness, which indicates the ancient state of that country. 
Salutations were made heretofore in the celestial empire in the 
following words : Vou-to-hou implying, Have you been incom- 
moded in the night by the serpents ?" As both the mosquitoes and 
the gnats pass two-thirds of their lives on the water, in the forests 
crossed by great rivers, they generally become more rare in pro- 
portion as the traveller recedes from the shore. In that zone, 
" where the barometer becomes a clock," the true mosquito is not 
a nocturnal insect : their reign lasts from six in the morning till 
five in the afternoon, when they are succeeded by twilight tor- 
mentors (tempraneros), and these again give place to the zancju- 
does, who fly by night. This voracious appetite for blood, in in- 
sects that live on vegetable juices, and in countries so thinly in- 
habited, is very surprising. " What would these animals eat if 
we did not pass this way ?" say the Creoles in ascending the 
American rivers. 

BIRMAH. 147 

about a mile wide. Thus far, progress is made prin- 
cipally by rowing and poleing along the boats ; but 
now the river being no longer enclosed by high and 
close banks, the boatmen spread their canvass, and take 
advantage of the strong southerly gales to ascend the 

Denoobew (Da-noo-byoo) , about sixty miles from 
Rangoon, which Colonel Symes passed early on the 
sixth day, is an extensive town with a lofty temple, 
resembling Shoe-dagun in form, but of smaller size. 
There is here a manufactory of mats, which are made 
in beautiful variety, and superior in quality to what 
are fabricated in any other part of the empire. " We 
passed in the course of this day's journey," (the fifth 
from Rangoon,) proceeds Colonel Symes, "many 
islands of sand formed by different streams of the 
river in the dry season, but which are entirely covered 
when the waters swell : on some of these islands there 

* From Mr. Judson's Journal, we take the following itinerary : 
First Da}' (Dec. 21). To Kyee-myen-daing, a village. Second Day. 
Reached at noon, Kyoon-noo, a cluster of villages, hear one of 
which, about twenty miles from Rangoon, they remained the 
rest of the day. Third day. Passed into the Irrawaddy, and reached 
Ran-gen-tsen-yah, twenty miles from Kyoon-noo. Fourth day. 
Passed Danoo-byoo. Sixth day. Passed Hen-tha-dah. Tenth 
day. Reaced Kah-noung, a considerable town, ninety miles from 
Rangoon. Twelfth day (Jan. 1.) Passed a remarkably high, rocky 
mountain, the side of which, for a considerable extent, is indented 
with numerous recesses, containing images of Guadama, all carved 
out of the solid rock. Thirteenth day. Passed the large towns of 
Shway-doung and Pah-doung, on opposite sides of the river, and 
reached Pjee (Prome), 120 miles from Rangoon. On January 17, 
being the twenty-eighth day, they reached Pah-gan, distant about 
260 miles from Rangoon. Here the river bends to the east, and 
forms a point. On the 20th. Reached Guah-myah-gnay. 22d. 
Passed the confluence of the Kyen-duem with the Irrawaddy. 
25th. Passed Old Ava and Tsah-gaing; and about noon, reached 
O-ding-mau, the lower landing-place of Ahmarapoora, about 350 
miles torn Rangoon. 



are trees and verdure. We left the towns of Segah- 
ghee on the east, and Summeingtoh on the west. Our 
voyage this day was delightful; the weather turned 
out fine, and the wind was so strong, that we passed 
the banks at the rate of three miles an hour. There 
were no fewer than a hundred sail of boats of differ- 
ent sorts in company, and the whole was a cheerful 
and pleasing sight. We stopped at sunset near the 
town of Yeoung-benzah. The next day (the sixth), 
we passed several islands of sand. In one place, we 
perceived the roots and stump of a tree growing close 
to the water's edge under a high bank, about fourteen 
feet beneath the surface of the soil. This singular 
appearance is to be accounted for by supposing that, 
where the bank is now raised, there had formerly 
been a sand-bank level with the water, on which a 
tree had taken root, and which had been covered by 
annual deposites from the river during the inunda- 
tion. It is probable, that the tall reeds and coarse 
grass which every year rot and incorporate with the 
sand of the river, form the fine soil of the plains. 
Thus, aquatic exuviae are to be discovered every where 
deep in the earth. The stream, however, washes 
away on one side as much as it deposits on the other ; 
and, as is the case with all streams flowing through 
champaign countries, is continually changing its 
channel. In the morning we passed Taykyat, a long 
and straggling town on the west side ; also Terriato, 
or Mango village, small, but beautifully situated on a 
high bank that commands the country on the opposite 
side to a great distance : it is surrounded by groves of 
mango-trees, from which it takes the name. Taam- 
boo-terra, on the same side, is a long town. The 
country, in this day's voyage, did not appear so well 
inhabited as that we passed through the day before. 

BIRMA1I. 149 

At half-past four, we halted for the night at Kioum- 
zeik, or the convent stairs. Two temples, not very 
large, but gilded from top to bottom, here make a 
brilliant appearance. There are many monasteries, 
and the rhahaans are seen strolling about in consider- 
able numbers." This appears to be a very flourishing 
place, possessing a manufacture of cotton cloth. 
Several water-courses which intersect the town, have 
good wooden bridges built over them. Near the 
river are some fields planted with indigo, which 
thrives luxuriantly, and might be cultivated to great 
advantage; but the natives either do not know the 
process, or do not take the trouble of purifying and 
reducing it to a hard substance, being satisfied with 
using it in a coarse liquid state, to colour the coarse 
calicoes manufactured here. 

Near Kioum-zeik is the much more ancient town 
of Henzadah (Hen-thah-dah) . Buffaloes and other 
cattle were seen in large herds grazing on the neigh- 
bouring plain. In this vicinity, the reedy banks 
again renew the visitation of the annoying musquitoes. 
A little above this place, a considerable branch of the 
river goes off in a south-westerly course to Bassein : 
it is sometimes called Anou-kioup, or the western 
river. The great Arracan chain of hills are visible 
in the north-west quarter. On the eighth day, pass- 
ing several small villages, Colonel Symes reached a 
town called Ackeo. The course of the river was 
sluggish, running deep beneath an overhanging bank ; 
and the thermometer, which, on the preceding day, 
had stood at 78, rose to 86 ; but still, the heat was 
'not oppressive. The next evening they stopped close 
to the town of Gnapee-zeik, * having passed this day 

* Gnapee is a sort of sprat, which, " half pickled, half putrid," is 
K 3 

150 BIBMAH. 

Shwaye-gaim, so named because gold dust is some- 
times found here in the sands, washed down by the 
rains. The banks of the river in this part are covered 
with reeds six feet high, which harbour numerous 
tigers. Near Gnapee, the western bank is planted 
with pipal and mango-trees; and near Kanoung-lay, 
which they passed on the following day, on the same 
side, were seen orchards of mango, plantain, jack-fruit, 
and custard apple. The adjacent fields were enclosed 
with good fences; many boats were building on the 
banks ; and the general aspect of things denoted pro- 
sperity. A little further is Kanoung-ghe, or Great 
Kanoung ; " a long town, with a good quay and well- 
constructed stairs, consisting of a hundred steps, de- 
scending to the water's edge." The country is toler- 
ably well cleared in this part, and the population of 
the district must apparently be considerable. The 
thermometer at two o'clock this day rose to 94. A 
few quails and wild pigeons were noticed in the 

Early on the eleventh day, Colonel Symes reached 
Meyah-oun, formerly Loonzay, distant about 100 
miles from Rangoon, the scene of obstinate contests 
between the Birmans and the Peguans. This is a 
very ancient city, stretching two miles along the 
margin of the river, and is distinguished by nume- 
rous gilded temples and spacious convents. A great 
variety of tall, wide-spreading trees gives this place an 
air of venerable grandeur; several rhahaans were 
luxuriously reposing under their shade. At the time 
of Colonel Symes's visit, two hundred large boats, 
each, on an average, of sixty tons burthen, lay off the 

a favourite sauce with the Birmans, as a relish to their rice. Zeik 
signifies a landing-place. 

BIRMAHi 151 

quay, all provided with good roofs, and masted after 
the country manner. The neighbourhood is uncom- 
monly fruitful in rice, and a large quantity is annually 
exported to the capital. Here are capacious granaries 
belonging to the king, built of wood, and covered with 
thatch; these are kept filled with grain, ready to be 
transported to any part of the empire in which there 
happens to be a scarcity. During this day's voyage, 
the Anou-pec-tou-miou, or great western chain of 
mountains, was distinctly visible. The particular 
mountains in sight are named Taungzo. The districts 
passed through seemed exceedingly populous, and in 
most parts cultivated. 

As they advanced, the next day, towards the town 
of Peing-ghee (or Pohem-ghee), the western range of 
hills closed upon the river, and displayed in some 
places very beautiful scenery. The rocky banks rise 
abruptly to the height of two or three hundred feet, 
richly clothed with hanging trees of variegated foliage.* 

* Captain Cox, describing apparently the same part of this 
voyage, but at a different season, (Dec.) says : " About noon," on 
the fifteenth day, " as we approached the mountains on the 
western shore, a beautiful view opened to us. To the west was a 
margin of bright sand, backed by a green bank and woody hill ; to 
the northward, high and distant mountains, covered with forest- 
trees to their very summits; to the eastward, a high bank, with 
large trees and huts scattered below them, ending in an abrupt 
point, which closes the reach, so as to give the river here the ap- 
pearance of a fine lake chequered with the boats of our fleet. As 
we advanced, the scene varied ; many sandy islands divided the 
stream, some of them barren sand, others high and covered with 
lofty trees and cultivated ground. We advanced by the western 
channel, where a precipitous hill about 150 feet high, covered with 
trees and bushes, comes down abruptly to the river, and forms its 
western boundary. The basis of this hill is a crumbling rock of 
yellow, coarse grit sand ; the superstratum, an immense bed of rich 
sandy loam. The stream here is about a quarter of a mile wide, 
and pretty rapid. When we had passed these cliffs, we came to a 
K 4 

152 BIRMAH. 

Owing to the narrowness of the channel in this part, 
the stream is so rapid that oars are useless, and the 
perpendicular banks afford no foot-path to track; it 
is therefore necessary to impel the boat forward by 
bamboo poles, in the use of which the Birmans are 
very expert. The town of Peing-ghee, and that of 
Sahlahdan, a little above it, export a great part of the 
teak-timber that is carried to Rangoon. The forests 
extend along on the western mountains, and are in 
sight from the river. The trees are felled in the dry 
season, and, when the monsoon sets in, are borne by 
the torrents to these towns. Colonel Symes saw here 
on the stocks, a ship of 400 tons burthen, building 
for a Mussulman merchant of Surat. Ship and boat 
building is here most actively carried on. The teak- 
tree, although it will grow on the plains, is a native of 
the mountains. The forests, like most of the woody 
and uncultivated parts of India, are extremely pesti- 
ferous. " An inhabitant of the champaign country 
considers a journey thither, as almost inevitable 
destruction. The wood-cutters are a particular class 
of men, born and bred in the hills ; but even these are 
said seldom to attain longevity." The timber is sold 
very cheap. A plank three inches thick, and from 
sixteen to twenty feet long, may be purchased for a 
tecal or about half a crown. 

The scenery of the river in the approach to Prome 

beautiful valley, in which is situated the town of Pohem-ghee. 
The hills here make a bend to the westward, and send down 
another branch of the river, forming a beautiful gorge or valley, 
variegated with gentle risings : aU the flat grounds are cultivated 
with paddy." Journal, pp. 24, 5. The precipitous hill above 
mentioned, must be the rocky mountain referred to by Mr. 
Judson, as exhibiting numerous sculptures on the face of the 
rock ; but it is remarkable, that neither Col. Symes nor Captain 
Cox should notice them. 

BIRMAH. 153 

or Peeaye-mew, is pleasingly diversified with hill and 
valley, with spots of cleared ground and hanging 
woods. The range of high mountains recedes in a 
westerly direction, but smaller hills still skirt the 
river. Several populous towns occur : the principal is 
Podung-mew, on the right bank; and Schwaye-do- 
mew, on the left or eastern bank of the river. The 
city of Prome, also situated on the east side of the 
Irrawaddy, in lat. 18 50' N., and long. 95 E., forms 
an important point of the line of towns, being, in fact, 
the most northern fortress of Pegu. Many ages ago, 
it was the residence of a dynasty of Talien kings: 
it now forms a vice-royalty, usually conferred on a 
member of the reigning family. Prome is sometimes 
called TerreJcetteree, or single-skin; and they have a 
legendary tale respecting the origin of this name, 
which recalls, on the banks of the Irrawaddy, the 
fabled origin of Carthage and of Troy. " It is related, 
that a favourite female slave of Tutebong-mangee, 
or the mighty sovereign with three eyes, importuned 
her sovereign for a gift of some ground, and being 
asked of what extent, replied in similar terms with 
the crafty queen when she projected the site of 
Carthage. Her request was granted, and she used the 
same artifice."* 

The city is situated on the south side of a pleasant 
valley, on an elevated point projecting into the river. 
"At present," says Captain Cox, who visited it in 
December, when the water was low, " it is about 
forty feet above the level of the river, which rises 
during the rains about twenty or twenty-five feet. 
Its area, north and south, is about one mile and a half, 
and its breadth about three-fourths of a mile. It was 

* Symes, vol. ii. p. 182. 


154 BIRMAH. 

formerly surrounded with a wall of masonry : parts of 
two or three bastions, towards the river, still remain. 
They are in the old style of fortifications, with battle- 
ments intended for musketry only, the ramparts not 
having sufficient breadth to admit of cannon, which, if 
mounted, must have been fired en barbet. The inter- 
mediate spaces, where the old wall has fallen to ruins, 
are defended by a stockade of teak piles, about one foot 
square, and twenty feet high. In this stockade are 
many gates and steps of wood leading to the river, for 
the accommodation of the inhabitants. Within the 
stockade are several pagodas, some of them gilt; the 
rest of the buildings are mean ; some few are of wood, 
but the greater part are built of bamboos and cadjan. 
The only regular street leads through the centre of 
the town, north and south, the other quarters being 
only divided by crooked lanes and alleys. A large 
proportion of the inhabitants were stated to be 
Mohammedans. Its old fortifications and the remains 
of religious edifices attest its former opulence, and its 
position on the river renders it still a commanding 
post; it is also centrical to the best parts and the most 
populous districts of Ava. The hills with which it is 
surrounded, abound with teak timber, and are rich in 
metals: lead and iron only are at present got from 
them, in small quantities, but gold has been, and may 
be obtained. The iron is said to be softer and more 
malleable than any imported ; and is preferred by the 
natives, who manufacture it into many articles for 
their own consumption.* Teak timber is the chief 

* The tribe of smiths, including all the artificers of metals, (of 
which a considerable number reside in Proxne, where the best iron 
is procured,) are particularly fond of horse-flesh, supposing it to be 
particularly adapted to recruit their strength, when wasted by 
working at their forges. To the disgusting practice of eating the 

BIBMAH. lf>5 

article of trade, to which may be added cotton, grain, 
rope, and paper manufactured into umbrellas, books, 
&c." A ship of 300 tons was on the stocks when 
Captain Cox visited it. The difficulty of getting the 
vessel down in safety to Rangoon must be considerable, 
as the current is so rapid ; and their effecting it serves 
as a proof of their enterprise, and shews what they 
are capable of doing if encouraged. Stone-cutters also 
are numerous, who manufacture flags for pavements, 
and slabs and vases for the use of temples, out of a 
fine freestone found in the neighbourhood. Adjacent 
to the town, Colonel Symes states, there is a royal 
menagerie of elephants, consisting of two rows of 
lofty well-built stables, in which these animals are 
lodged during the rains. Altogether, Prome is one of 
the most important places of the empire. The situa- 
tion is deemed particularly salubrious. The river 
here flows in a bold, straight channel, from one mile to 
half a mile in breadth. To the westward, the hills, 
for several miles above and below the town, form the 
bank of the river. When the British troops advanced 
upon this place in April 1825, all the surrounding hills 
were fortified to their very summits, presenting a 
position of a very formidable appearance, and in reality 
so strong by nature, that 10,000 steady soldiers could 
have .defended it against an attack of ten times that 
force. The stockade itself was complete, and great 

putrid flesh of diseased animals, is attributed the prevalence of a 
dreadful disorder, which attacks the extremities, producing ulcer- 
ous sores, which soon mortify, and leave those who survive, dis- 
gusting and mutilated objects. The beggars of the country are 
chiefly composed of this class, who wander about in groupes, as- 
sembling at the feasts of the principal pagodas, where they are 
relieved by the bounty of the devout and the humane. With the 
exception of persons of this description, there is not a beggar to be 
seen in the Birman dominions. 

156 BIRMAH. 

labour must have been bestowed upon it. "Indeed, 
both in materials and workmanship," adds General 
Sir A. Campbell in his despatch, "it surpasses any 
thing we have hitherto seen in this country."* The 
place was, nevertheless, evacuated by night on the 
advance of the British troops apparently in confu- 
sion, as above 100 pieces of artillery were found in the 
works, and extensive granaries well filled with corn. 
Either by accident or through design, the town was on 
fire when our troops entered it; one whole quarter was 
reduced to ashes, and much grain destroyed, before it 
could be got under .f 

About five miles from Prome, in a southerly direc- 
tion, there are remains of a still more ancient city, 
called by Col. Symes Yaettee, by Capt. Cox written 
Therai-Kittra, which, some centuries ago, was the 
capital of a dynasty of Peguan kings. A level road, 

* Col. Symes mentions the ruins of an ancient fort at the upper 
end of the city, " a small pentagon built of brick, which, from its 
situation, must have been very strong. The modern fort," he 
adds, " is nothing more than a palisadoed enclosure, with earth 
thrown up behind it. ' But this was thirty years ago. These 
stockades have been found no contemptible defence. 

t From subsequent accounts, it would seem to have been inten- 
tionally set on fire. " It has been proved to me beyond a doubt," 
writes Sir A. Campbell, " that strong reinforcements and thirty 
pieces of cannon were within a short march of Prome, when I took 
possession of it. These troops have now very generally dispersed. 
Prince Sarawuddy is retiring direct upon the capital, with the 
remnant of his people. Desolation marks his track, and the 
merest cottage does not escape the incendiary's torch. Prompt and 
decisive measures alone saved Prome from the general conflagra- 
tion, and its inhabitants from a wretched fate The inhabitants 

are coming in in great numbers, and even chiefs of towns and vil- 
lages are now suing for passes of protection. They appear highly 
delighted at being relieved from a state of oppressive tyranny, that 
either compelled them to take up arms in a hopeless cause, or 
drove them into the jungles, with their families, to lead a life of 
wretchedness." Asiat. Journal, vol. xx. p. 684. 

BIRMAH. 157 

through cultivated fields interspersed with groves of 
tall palmyra-trees, leads from Prome to this place. 
He observed in the way, two rivers almost dry, but 
which, in the rainy season, pour down an impetuous 
torrent from the mountains into the Irrawaddy, bear- 
ing down the teak timber from the forests above. It 
was dusk before Col. Symes reached Yaettee. He 
entered the place through an old gateway, which ap- 
peared narrower, but of greater depth, than any that 
he had seen; but the ruinous state of both the gate- 
way and the wall rendered it difficult to judge of their 
original dimensions. Within, he could distinguish 
nothing but houses and fields, and it was too late to ex- 
plore the antiquities. Two intelligent men informed 
him, that it was once a fortified city of importance, 
of a square form,* measuring a space equal to two 
miles and a half; that it had flourished for several 
centuries before the fall Of the Pegu monarchy; and 
that the vestiges of the imperial palace and a large 
temple were still remaining. During his ride, he 
observed two caravans of waggons drawn up in the 
form of a double circle, one within the other, present- 
ing a very formidable barrier against the assaults 
either of men or of wild beasts. They were loaded 
chiefly with gnapee and salt fish, from the town of 
Omow, situated on a lake where fish is caught in such 
abundance, as to constitute an article of commercial 
exportation. The roads appeared well made and much 
frequented ; and the ledyeree or steersman, who had 
travelled by land from Prome to Rangoon, a journey 
of six days, reported it to be equally good the whole 
way. By similar caravans of waggons is conducted a 

* According to information given to Capt. Cox, it was of a cir- 
cular form, three miles in diameter, and surrounded with walls 
of masonry. 

158 BI11MAH. 

very important branch of Chinese commerce. Passing 
through the centre of the Birman dominions, they 
penetrate the Arracan chain of mountains, and thus 
traverse the whole country, from the Chinese province 
of Yunnan, on the eastern frontier of Birmah, to the 
banks of the Brahmaputra and the Bengal provinces. 

Leaving Prome at an early hour, with a strong 
southerly gale, Col. Symes reached, towards evening, 
the town of Kammah or Comma, on the western bank 
of the Irrawaddy.* They did not stop here, but con- 
tinued their course as far as Neoung-ben-zeik (or Nen- 
bon-zeik),f where the boats were moored for the night. 
" This also," he -says, " is a town of some respecta- 
bility." Among the chief places passed this day, was 
Pou-oo-daung, a small village on the western bank, 
behind which abruptly rises a hill of a conical form, 
on the top of which is a temple of peculiar sanctity, 
having once been, as legends say, the abode of Gaud- 
ama, the impression of whose foot is shewn indented 
on a slab of marble. Obscure hamlets, at distant in- 
tervals, just served to shew that this part of the coun- 
try was not without inhabitants. Comma is the chief 
town of a district, and sends large quantities of teak 
timber to Rangoon. " The fort," Capt. Cox says, 
" lies three miles inland, on a rivulet that empties it- 
self into the Irrawaddy, and is navigable, in the rains, 
for large boats almost all the way to Arracan. Here 
also is the high road by which the merchants who 

Capt. Cox did not reach Comma till the noon of the day after 
leaving Prome. 

t This, we presume to be the place that is afterwards called, in 
Col. Symes's Narrative, Yeoungben-zeik, or Indian fig-tree stairs, 
and described as a fine village, on the east side of the river, in a 
romantic country. In the despatches from General Campbell, it is 
written Nenbonzick. Col. Symes places Comma also on the east 
side, whereas it is on the west bank. 

BIRMAH. 159 

trade to Dacca, bring their goods on bullocks and in 
covered carts. The numerous religious buildings in 
the town indicate its opulence." 

The next evening, Col. Symes reached a town called 
Sirriap-mew, and, by noon the next day, the town of 
Mee-a-day, the personal estate of the then maywoon 
of Pegu, generally called on that accout Meeaday- 
praw. Here they halted for nine days, a temporary 
house being constructed for their accommodation, con- 
sisting of three small rooms and a hall open to the 
north : it was got ready for their reception in little 
more than four hours. " Fifty or sixty labourers 
completed it in that time, and on emergency could 
perform the work in much less. Bamboos, grass for 
thatching, and the ground rattan, are all the materials 
requisite. Not a nail is used in the whole edifice. A 
row of strong bamboos, from eight to ten feet high, 
is fixed firm in the ground, which describe the out- 
line, and are the supporters of the building. Smaller 
bamboos are then tied horizontally, by strips of the 
ground rattan, to these upright posts. The walls, 
composed of bamboo mats, are fastened to the sides by 
similar ligatures. Bamboo rafters are quickly raised, 
and a roof formed, over which thatch is spread in 
regular layers, and bound to the roof by filaments of 
rattan'. A floor of bamboo grating is next laid in- 
side, elevated two or three feet above the ground; 
this grating is supported on bamboos, and covered 
with mats and carpets. Thus ends the process, which 
is not more simple than effectual. When the work- 
men take pains, a house of this sort is proof against 
veiy inclement weather. We experienced during our 
stay at Meeaday, a severe storm of wind and rain, but 
no water penetrated ; and if the tempest should blow 
down the house, the inhabitants would run no risk of 

160 BtRMAH. 

having their brains knocked out, or their bones broken : 
the fall of the whole fabric would not crush a lady's 

"Meeaday is a place of no great magnitude, but 
extremely neat. There are two principal streets, and 
at the north end of the present town are to be seen 
the ruins of a brick fort, which, like all other forts of 
masonry in the Birman empire, is in a state of dilapi- 
dation. At a short distance there is a pleasant river, 
which flows through a fertile plain, affording some, 
rich pasture-ground, and interspersed with plantations 
of tobacco. On the south and south-east sides, the 
town is inclosed by a deep ravine, the banks of which 
are cut perpendicular ; and the remains of an old brick 
wall were discoverable, which was probably a defence to 
the former suburb. We observed many small temples 
and convents apart from the town, situated in groves of 
mango, tamarind, and pipal trees of uncommon state- 
liness and beauty. The maywoon had a residence 
here ; also a pleasure-house and betel garden at some 
distance. North of the town, there is a good deal of 
land in cultivation, chiefly rice. The fields are well 
laid down and fenced. This quarter is beautifully 
wooded and diversified with rising grounds. We ob- 
served many cart-roads and path-ways leading into 
the country in various directions. The soil is com- 
posed of clay and sand, and in some places is very- 
stony, particularly near the river." 

The point to which we have now conducted our 
readers, was the limit to which, in this direction, the 
British army had driven back the Birman forces, 
when, on the 17th of September last (1825), an armis- 
tice was concluded, with a view to the restoration of 
peace and amity between the contending powers. The 
third article of the armistice provides, that " a line of 

BIRMAH. 161 

demarcation shall be drawn between the two armies, 
commencing at Comma, passing through the village of 
Nenbonzick. and continuing along the road from that 
village to Tonghoo. The negociations for peace were 
to be carried on at Nenbonzick, or Nembenziek, as 
being half way between the armies, the British quar- 
tered at Prome, and the Birman head -quarters at 
Meeaday. Here, then, we shall for the present sus- 
pend our progress northward; and before we take 
leave of the kingdom of Pegu, on the confines of which 
we now find ourselves, we shall gather up what further 
information we possess respecting this important pro- 
vince of the Birman empire. 


THE site of Pegu, the ancient capital, situated about 
ninety miles by water above Rangoon, in lat. 17 40' 
N., long. 96 12' E., may still be traced by the ruins 
of the ditch and the wall which once surrounded it. 
The inside displays a striking and melancholy picture 
of fallen grandeur, and gives sad evidence of the ruth- 
less character of Birman warfare. Alom-praw, when 
he took the city in 1757, razed every building to the 
ground, and dispersed or led into captivity all the in- 
habitants : the praws, or temples, only were spared, 
and of these, the great pagoda of Shoe-madoo has alone 
been kept in repair. After it had long lain in desola- 
tion, Minderajee-praw, to conciliate the natives, issued 
orders, about the year 1790, to rebuild Pegu, and in- 
vited its scattered families to re-people their deserted 
city.* At the same time, the may woon was ordered to 

* The order for the rebuilding of the ancient capital of the Ta- 
lien monarchy, which Col. Byrnes represents as originating in 
liberal policy on the part of Minderajee-praw, is ascribed by Dr. 

162 BIRMAH. 

remove hither from Rangoon, and to make it the seat 
of his government. The present inhabitants are chiefiy 
rhahaans, or priests, followers of the provincial govern- 
ment, and poor Talien families, glad to regain a set- 
tlement in their once magnificent metropolis. Their 
numbers altogether, perhaps, do not exceed 6 or 7000. 
Those who dwelt there in its days of splendour are 
nearly extinct, and their descendants and relatives 
are scattered over the provinces of Tonghoo and 
Martaban. Many also took refuge in Siam. 

The kingdom of Pegu has unquestionably been the 
most powerful of all the Indo-Chinese states ; and the 
central position of this province, its abundant ferti- 
lity of soil, and its mineral wealth, might again render 
it a flourishing country. We have, in the Travels 
of Vincent Le Blanc, a most romantic account of 
what Pegu was in the seventeenth century. "The 
kingdom of Pegu," he says, " is one of the largest, 
richest, and most potent of the Indies, next to the 
Mogul and China ; but to the two last are happened 
lately strange revolutions : they are extremely fallen 
off from their state, and have been dismembered by 
the kings of Tungu and of Arracan, who had, in my 
time, the possession of the white elephant that bred so 
much contention in Siam. This kingdom, in my days, 
contained many others; viz. two empires, containing 

Buchanan to a very different motive. " Prophecies and dreams 
are also in great credit among the Birmans. We were informed, 
that a prophecy having lately been current, foretelling that Pegu 
would again be the seat of government, the king was thrown into 
considerable anxiety, and thinking to elude the prophecy, had sent 
orders tothemaywoon of Haynthawade (Henzawudy) to remove 
the seat of his government from Rangoon to Pegu, then in ruins. 
The late maywoon was so attached to Rangoon, that he always 
found some excuse for delaying the execution of the order ; but 
while \re were in Birmah, his successor was busily employed in 
rebuilding Pegu." Asiat. Reg., vol. vi. p. 173. 

BIRMAH. 163 

twenty-six crowned states. The town of Pegu is 
very large and square, five gates on every side, en- 
compassed with a deep work qr trench, full of 
water-crocodiles. The walls are built of wood, with 
watch-towers of rich work and gilt, repaired every 
tenth year. The houses are stately edifices. At New 
Pegu, the king keeps his court. The streets ase ex- 
actly straight, and large. About the heart of the town, 
you discover almost all the streets, which is a gallant 
curiosity. Old Pegu is built after the same model, 
and there the merchants inhabit. In New Pegu, the 
streets are set with palm-trees and cocoas, loaden with 
fruit. The new town was framed and built by the 
line, near a forest of palms, towards the north, in a 
large field. In the trenches, (filled with water by the 
river that washes the coast,) are baths purposely accom- 
modated. The town is as big as Fez. The king's 
palace stands at the further end of New Pegu, sheltered 
from the north wind by a little hill: there grow all 
sorts of trees, five sorts of palm-trees, enclosed with a 
wall like a park. The palace is built square, with a 
dome : at every corner stands the statue of a giant, of 
polished marble, who, Atlas-like, upheld this goodly 
fabric ; and are represented with such tortions of face, 
you would think they complain of their load. The 
stone of which it is composed, is smooth and resplendent 
as glass: it is environed with a deep trench. The 
entrance is over a drawbridge, through a gate of ex- 
cessive height and strength, where are the figures of 
a giant and his wife, each of one piece, and of a mixed 
coloured marble : the pavement is of the same. They 
spare neither gold nor azure; and in galleries we see 
carved the histories of all their wars. From thence, 
we descend some steps of marble into a lower court, 
encompassed with rails, where there is a pleasant 


164 BIRMAH. 

fountain, whence the water is conducted into several 
gardens by pipes. The gardens are fenced with strong 
walls; one of them is three miles long: the river 
Caypumo runs through one end of the garden, west- 
ward. There are many other gardens and palaces 
nearer hand, built of marble and porphyry, and a lake 
a mile in circuit. One of these palaces is allotted to 
the queen and her court, which joins to a park stored 
with exquisite and rare animals. In the lake belong- 
ing to the king's palace are seen all sorts of water- 
fowl ; and near this palace there is another park stored 
with tame beasts and birds. There is also a park for 
lions, tigers, and other fierce beasts; and it is a sad 
sight to see criminals daily devoured by them. 

" The kingdom of Pegu is rich in mines of gold 
and silver, rubies, sapphires, garnets, and other pre- 
cious stones : these daily augment the king's treasures. 
In one court of his palace at New Pegu, there is such 
store, that it is little esteemed ; not one man to guard 
it, nor the doors kept shut. There stands a figure or 
statue of an exceedingly tall man, all of beaten gold, 
with a crown of the same, enriched with rubies, upon 
his head ; and round it four other statues of youths, 
all of gold, which seem to be idols. In another court, 
is represented a giant sitting, of silver, with a crown 
of the same, but far richer, set with jewels. In other 
courts, stand statues made of gauze, a mixture of many 
metals : the crowns of these latter are richer than the 
others, with rubies and sapphires. 

" The Peguans go all clothed alike, in cottons, 
linens, and silks, the best; and all are barefoot ever, 
whether walking or riding. Their building-s are 
costly, carved and wrought, sparing neither gold nor 
azure. When the king or any nobleman builds a 
palace, he provides himself with the purest gold to 

BIRMAH. 165 

gild it. At Old Pegu are many refiners and gold 
and silver beaters, who work it into leaves as we do, 
for the convenience of the gilders; for they gild the 
very walls and towers, and their houses, after the 
Persian fashion. New Pegu is almost all so built, 
and nothing spared to make up a sumptuous, splendid 
structure. Merchants and other tradesmen and shop- 
keepers live in strong houses, well built of stone or 
brick, close shut with strong gates and locks, and call 
those houses^odon*."* 

When Col. Symes visited, in 1795, the site of this 
once magnificent capital, the building of the new 
town was still going forward. He thus describes the 
appearance which it then presented. 

" The extent of ancient Pegu may still be accurately 
traced by the ruins of the ditch and wall that sur- 
rounded 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 rub- 
bish that has been cast into it, and the falling of its 
own banks ; sufficient, however, still remains to shew 
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 was informed, that when 
the ditch was in repair, the water seldom, in the hot- 
test season, sunk below the depth of four feet. An 
injudicious faussebray, 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 magni- 
tude and labour: it is not easy to ascertain precisely 
what was its height, but we conjectured it at least 
thirty feet, and in breadth, at the base, not less than 

* Asiat. Journ. vol. xix. pp. 651, 2. 

166 BIRMAH. 

forty. It is composed of brick, badly cemented with 
clay mortar. Small equidistant bastions, about 300 
yards asunder, are still discoverable, and there 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 strength. 
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 the 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. 

" Pegu, in its renovated and contracted state, seems 
to be built on the plan of the former city, and occu- 
pies about one half of its area. It is fenced round by 
a stockade from ten to twelve feet high : on the north 
and east side, it borders on the old wall. The plane of 
the town is not yet filled with houses, but a number 
of new ones are 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 
wicket. 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 side of the stockade. 

" The streets of Pegu are spacious, as are those of 
all the Birman towns that I have seen. The new 
town is well paved with brick, which the ruins of the 
old plentifully supply; and on each side of the way 
there is a drain to carry off the water. The houses 
of the meanest peasants of Pegu, and throughout the 

BIRMAH. 167 

Birman empire, possess manifest advantage over Indian 
dwellings, by being raised from the ground either on 
wooden posts or bamboos, according to the size of the 
building. The kioums or monasteries of the rhahaans, 
and the habitations of the higher ranks, are usually ele- 
vated six or eight feet ; those of the lower classes from 
two to four feet. 

" There are no brick buildings, either in Pegu or 
Rangoon, except such as belong to the king, or are 
dedicated to their divinity, Gaudma; his majesty 
having prohibited the use of brick or stone in private 
buildings, from the apprehension, as I was informed, 
that if people got leave to build brick houses, they 
might erect brick fortifications, dangerous to the 
security of the state. The houses, therefore, are all 
made of mats, or sheathing-boards, supported on bam- 
boos or posts; but, from their being composed of such 
combustible materials, the inhabitants are under con- 
tinual dread of fire, against which they take every 
precaution. The roofs are lightly covered, and at 
each door stands a long bamboo, with an iron hook at 
the end, to pull down the thatch: there is also an- 
other pole, with a grating of iron at the extremity, 
about three feet square, to suppress flame by pressure. 
Almost every house has earthern pots filled with water, 
on the roof; and a particular class of people,* whose 

* " These people are called Pagwaai; they are slaves of govern- 
ment ; men who have been found guilty of theft, and, through 
mercy, had their lives spared. They are distinguished by a black 
circle on each cheek, caused by gunpowder and puncturation, as 
well as by having on their breast, in Birman characters, the word 
thief, and the name of the article stolen ; as, on one that I asked 
to be explained to me, putchoo khoo, cloth thief. These men 
patrole the streets at night, to put out all fires and lights after 
a certain hour. They act as constables, and are the public exe- 

168 BIBMAH. 

business it is to prevent and extinguish fires, peram- 
bulate the streets during the night. 

' The maywoon's habitation, though not at all a 
magnificent mansion for the representative of royalty, 
is, notwithstanding, a building of much respectability, 
compared to the other houses of Pegu. From an out- 
side view, we judged it to be roomy, and to contain 
several apartments, exclusive of that in which he gives 
audience: it possesses, however, but few ornaments. 
Gilding is forbidden to all subjects of the Birman em- 
pire; liberty even to lacker and paint the pillars of 
their houses, is granted to very few. The naked wood 
gave an unfinished appearance to the dwelling of the 
maywoon, which, in other respects, seemed well 
adapted for the accommodation of a Birman family. 

" The object in Pegu that most attracts and most 
merits notice, is the noble edifice of Shoemadoo, or 
the Golden Supreme. This extraordinary pile of build- 
ings is erected on a double terrace, one raised upon 
another. The lower and greater terrace is about ten 
feet above the natural level of the ground, forming an 
exact parallelogram: the upper and lesser terrace is 
similar in shape, and rises about twenty feet above 
the lower terrace, or thirty above the level of the 
country. I judged a side of the lower terrace to be 
1,391 feet; of the upper, 684. The walls that sus-, 
tained the sides of the terrace, both upper and lower, 
are in a ruinous state: they were formerly covered 
with plaster, wrought into various figures. The area 
of the lower is strewed with the fragments of small 
decayed buildings, but 'the upper is kept free from 
filth, and is in tolerably good order. There is reason 
to conclude that this building and the fortress are 
coeval, as the earth, of which the terraces are com- 
posed, appears to have been taken from the ditch, there 

BIRMAH. 169 

being no other excavation in the city, or in its neigh- 
bourhood, that could have afforded a tenth part of the 

"The terraces are ascended by flights of stone 
steps, which are now broken and neglected. On each 
side are dwellings of the rhahaans, raised on timbers 
four or five feet from the ground. These houses con- 
sist only of a large hall ; the wooden pillars that sup- 
port them are turned with neatness; the roofs are 
covered with tiles, and the sides are made of boards. 
There are a number of bare benches in every house, 
on which the rhahaans sleep; but we saw no other 

" Shoemadoo is a pyramidical building, composed of 
brick and mortar, without excavation or aperture 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 has not unaptly been 
compared in shape to a large speaking-trumpet. Six 
feet from the ground, there is a wide projection that 
surrounds the base, on the plane of which are fifty- 
seven small spires of equal size, and equidistant : 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 moulding^ encircle the building ; and orna- 
ments somewhat resembling the fleur-de-lis surround 
the lower part of the spire; circular mouldings like- 
wise girt it to a considerable height, above which 
there are ornaments in stucco, not unlike the leaves of 
a Corinthian capital ; and the whole is crowned with 
a tee, or umbrella, of open iron-work, from which 
rises a rod with a gilded pennant. 

"The circumference of the tee is fifty-six feet; it 

170 BIRMAH. 

rests on an iron axis fixed in the building, and is fur- 
ther secured by large chains strongly rivetted to the 
spire. Round the lower rim of the tee are appended 
a number of bells, which, agitated by the wind, make 
a continual 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 smaller pagodas are ornamented with 
proportionable umbrellas of similar workmanship, 
which are likewise encircled with small bells. The 
extreme height of the edifice, from the level of the 
country, is 361 feet, and above the interior terrace, 
331 feet. 

" On the south-east angle of the upper terrace, 
there are two handsome saloons, or Mourns, lately 
erected, the roofs composed of different stages, sup- 
ported by pillars : we judged the length of each to be 
about 60 feet, and the breadth 30. The ceiling of one 
is already embellished with gold leaf, and the pillars 
are lackered; the decoration of the other is not yet 
completed. They are made entirely of wood. The 
carving on the outside is laborious and minute : we 
saw several unfinished figures of animals and men in 
grotesque attitudes, which were designed as ornaments 
for different parts of the building. Some images of 
Gaudma, the supreme object of Birman adoration, lay 
scattered around. ^ 

" At each angle of the interior and higher terrace, 
there is a temple sixty-seven feet high, resembling, in 
miniature, the great temple : in front of that in the 
south-west corner, are four gigantic representations, 
in masonry, of Palloo, or the evil genius, half beast, 
half human, seated on their hams, with a large 
club on the right shoulder. The pundit who accom- 
panied me, said that they resemble the Rakuss of 
the Hindoos. These are guardians of the temple. 

BIRMAH. 171 

" Nearly in the centre of the east face of the area, 
are two human figures in stucco, beneath a gilded 
umbrella. One, standing, represents a man with a 
book before him, and a pen in his hand; he is called 
Thasiamee, the recorder of mortal merits and mortal 
misdeeds: the other, a female figure kneeling, is 
Mahasumdera, the protectress of the universe, so long 
as the universe is doomed to last; but when the time 
of general dissolution arrives, by her hand the world is 
to be overwhelmed and everlastingly destroyed. 

" A small brick building near the north-east angle, 
contains an upright marble slab, four feet high and 
three feet wide : there is a long legible inscription on it. 
I was told, it was an account of the donations of pil- 
grims of only a recent date. 

" Along the whole extent of the north face of the 
upper terrace, there is a wooden shed for the conve- 
nience of devotees who come from a distant part of 
the country. On the north side of the temple are 
three large bells of good workmanship, suspended 
nigh the ground, between pillars; several deer's horns 
lie strewed around. Those who come to pay their 
devotions, first take up one of the horns, and strike 
the bell three times, giving an alternate stroke to the 
ground: this act, I was told, is to announce to the 
spirit of Guadma the approach of a suppliant.* There 
are several low benches near the foot of the temple, on 
which the person, who comes to pray, places his offer- 
ing, commonly consisting of boiled rice, a plate of 
sweetmeats, or cocoa-nut, fried in oil. When it is 
given, the devotee cares not what becomes of it: the 

* It is deserving of remark, that the approach of a suppliant to 
the shrine of Jupiter Ammon in the Oasis, was announced to the 
divinity by the sounding of metal knobs suspended between two 


172 BlttMAH. 

crows and wild dogs often devour it in presence of the 
donor, who never attempts to disturb the animals. I 
saw several plates of victuals disposed of in this man- 
ner, and understood it to be the case with all that was 

" There are many small temples on the areas of 
both terraces, which are neglected and suffered to fall 
into decay. Numberless images of Gaudma lie indis- 
criminately scattered. A pious Birman who purchases 
an idol, first procures the ceremony of consecration 
to be performed by the rhahaans; he then takes his 
purchase to whatever sacred building is most conve- 
nient, and there places it within the shelter of a 
kioum, or on the open ground before the temple; nor 
does he ever again seem to have any anxiety about its 
preservation, but leaves the divinity to shift for itself. 
Some of those idols are made of marble that is found 
in the neighbourhood of the capital of the Birman 
dominions, and admits of a very fine polish; many 
are formed of wood, and gilded; and a few are of 
silver: the latter, however, are not usually exposed 
and neglected like the others. Silver or gold is 
rarely used, except in the composition of household 

" On both the terraces are a number of white cylin- 
drical flags, raised on bamboo poles; these flags are 
peculiar to the rhahaans, and are considered as em- 
blematic of purity and of their sacred function. On 
the top of the staff there is a henza, or goose, the 
symbol both of the Birman and Pegu nations. 

" From the upper projection that surrounds the 
base of Shoemadoo, the prospect of the circumjacent 
country is extensive and picturesque; but it is a pros- 
pect of nature in her rudest state; there are few in- 
habitants, and scarcely any cultivation. The hills of 

BIRMAH. 173 

Martaban rise to the eastward, and the Sitang river, 
winding along the plains, gives an interrupted view 
of its waters. To the north-west, about forty miles, 
are the Galladzet hills, whence the Pegu river takes 
its rise ; hills remarkable only for the noisome effects 
of their atmosphere. In every other direction, the 
eye looks over a boundless plain, chequered by a wild 
intermixture of wood and water." * 

Colonel Symes, accompanied by Dr. Buchanan, took 
a ride for about a mile and a half to the eastward of 
the fort. The road lay through woods intersected by 
frequent pathways. A miserable hut, here and there, 
beneath a clump of bamboos, was the only habitation 
they met with ; but the memorials of an extinct popu- 
lation were thickly strewed. Hillocks of decayed 
masonry, covered with a light mould, and the ruins of 
numerous temples, met the eye in every direction. 
They saw no gardens or enclosures, but the pathways, 
which bore the traces of cattle, indicated that the 
country further on was better peopled. On the 
western side of the river was found an inconsider- 
able village, in the neighbouroood of which there 
were rice-plantations that extended a mile to the 
westward. Beyond these lay a thick wood, chiefly of 

* Col. Symes was told by the zarado of Pegu, that the temple of 
Shoemadoo is believed to have been founded 2,300 years ago, by 
two merchants, brothers, who came to Pegu from Tallo-miou, a 
district one day's journey 's E. of Martaban . ' ' These pious traders 
at first raised a temple one Birman cubit (22 inches) in height. 
Sigeamee, the spirit that presides over the elements, in one night 
increased its size to two cubits. The merchants then added an- 
other cubit, which Sigeamee doubled in the same short time. 
The building thus attained the height of twelve cubits, when the 
merchants desisted. The temple was afterwards gradually in- 
creased by successive monarchs of Peg"u." Shoemadoo signifies 
literally Golden Divinity; shoe, or shwa, signifying golden, and 
madoo being a corruption of maha-deva ormaha-deo, magnus deus. 
Madlmvu is given by Mr. Ward as one of the titles of Vishnoo. 

174 BIRMAH. 

bamboo and pipal-trees. Through this wilderness, 
one of the party penetrated nine or ten miles, without 
meeting with an inhabitant or seeing a single dwell- 
ing. " Southward of Pegu, about a mile beyond the 
city walls, there is a plain of great extent, for the most 
part overgrown with wild grass and low brushwood, 
and bare of limber, except where a sacred grove 
maintains its venerable shade. A few wretched vil- 
lages are to be seen, containing not more than twenty 
or thirty poor habitations. Small spots have been 
cleared for tillage by the peasants, who seem to live in 
extreme poverty, notwithstanding they possess in 
their cattle the means of comfortable subsistence; 
but they do not eat the flesh, and what is remarkable 
enough, seldom drink the milk. Rice, gnapee, and 
oil, expressed from a small grain, with salt, are almost 
their only articles of food. Their cows are diminutive, 
resembling the breed on the coast of Coromandel; but 
the buffaloes are noble animals, much superior to 
those of India. Some are of a light cream-colour. 
The.y are used for draft and agriculture, and draw 
heavy loads on carts and small waggons, constructed 
with considerable neatness and ingenuity. 

" The only article of consequence manufactured at 
Pegu, is silk and cotton cloth, which the women 
weave for their own and their husbands' use. It is 
wrought with considerable dexterity; the thread is 
well spun; the texture of the web is close and strong, 
and it is mostly checkered like the Scotch tartan; 
but they make no more than what suffices for their 
own consumption." 

The country in this neighbourhood abounds with 
various kinds of game, particularly antelopes, jungle- 
fowl, and peacocks. Tigers prowl around the villages 
by night, and sometimes carry off the dogs, but do not 

BIRMAH. 175 

venture to attack the buffaloes, who, to all appearance, 
Colonel Symes says, are a match for any tiger, and 
almost as fierce. The inhabitants also complained of 
being much molested, in the wet season, by wild ele- 
phants, who occupy the forests in great numbers. 
" These powerful animals, allured by the early crops 
of rice and sugar-cane, make predatory excursions in 
large troops, and do a great deal of mischief, devas- 
tating more than they devour. The peasantry have 
often to lament the destruction of their more exposed 

" How much is it to be lamented," exclaims Colonel 
Symes, "that this country, one of the fairest and 
most healthful on the globe, should remain for the 
greater part, a solitary desert ! It must require a 
long and uninterrupted term of peace, to renew the 
population of Pegu. Should it be so fortunate, there 
can be little doubt that Pegu will be numbered 
among the most flourishing and delightful countries 
of the East." How far recent events may conduce to 
so desirable a result, time will shew. If, in pursuance 
of our Indian policy, it should be deemed advisable to 
re-establish the Peguan monarchy in the person of some 
native chief, with a British resident at his capital, the 
oppressed Taliens and Carayns would joyfully hail their 
emancipation' from their Birman masters; and the 
prediction which troubled Minderajee-praw, would be 
most singularly fulfilled.* 

* The Taliens or Talains of Pegu are evidently a race of Hindoo 
origin, who attained civilisation at an earlier period than the Bir- 
mans. They call themselves Mon, and are termed by the Siamese 
Ming-mon. Their language, the Mon,' has never been satisfac- 
torily analysed. " It seems," Dr. Leyden says, " to be quite ori- 
ginal, and is said by the Barmas (Birmans) and Siamese to have 
no affinity with either of their languages. In the early Portuguese 
histories, they arc denominated the Pandalus of Mon; and they 

176 BIRMAH. 


Of the country between Pegu and Martaban, our 
only information is derived from the journal of the 
late Mr. Francis Carey, who attended the viceroy in 
an expedition to Martaban, in the year 1809. "The 
Birman army moved before daylight on the morning of 
the 19th of November, passed a large village called Shoe- 
6on (golden flower), and after travelling for some hours 
in a N.W. direction, encamped in an extensive plain, 
within two days' march of the river Chitoung (Zeet- 
taung) . The first two hours, they penetrated through 
thick jungles of small trees and bamboos ; after which 
they entered upon a very large plain, extending to the 
E. as- far as the mountains, to the S.W. as far as the 
sea, and to the N.E. as far as the eye could reach. 
The plain was a complete grass jungle with a few 
cultivated spots, and abounded with various kinds of 
wild beasts. The mountains appeared to run in a 
north-easterly direction from Chitoung, and to turn 
off again to the S. towards Martaban. The next day, 
the army crossed, on boats rafted together, a river 
called Kouban, about 200 yards broad, and not ford- 
able. Mr. Carey supposed it to be a branch of the 
Chitoung, or to rise among the mountains of Tonghoo. 
The country, during the march, was a complete wilder- 
ness, covered with long grass: the course was N.E. 
On the 21st, the course was altered to S.E.; and after 
travelling through very high grass, the army encamped 
on the bank of the Chitoung river. The whole 
country from Pegu hither was an extensive plain, ap- 

are supposed to have founded the ancient Kalaminham empire at 
a very early peroid," Kalaminham is probably corrupted from 
ming-mon. The Mon alphabet appears to be a variety of the Pali. 
See Asiat. Res. vol. x. p. 240. 

BIRMAH. 177 

patently flooded during the rainy season, covered with 
long grass, and infested with wild beasts.* The town 
of Chitoung is situated on the east bank of the river ; 
it is surrounded by a few straggling villages. The 
river is about half a mile in breadth, and appears to 
be deep and regular: it abounds with alligators. 
Towards the N., it runs close up under the mountains, 
and then strikes off to the S., till it falls into the sea. 
Mr. Carey saw no mountains to the W. of the Chitoung 
river, as described in Symes's Embassy. The eastern 
mountains are totally uncultivated and uninhabited. 
Around the borders are to be found a few houses of 
Corians (Carayns) or mountaineers. The moun- 
tains appear to be covered with large trees, with here 
and there a vacancy; they are said to abound with 
chatts, a large sort of deer, chines, a species of ante- 
lope, and tigers ; and the valleys with elephants, wild 
hogs, deer, &c. 

" The passage of the viceroy took place the next 
morning with great pomp : he crossed the river upon 
four boats lashed together, and towed by two war- 
boats. The troops lined the road where he landed, 
sitting with their backs towards him, as a mark of very 
great respect. Presents of rice, fish, and betel-nut 
were made to him. On the ensuing morning, the 
army, still directing its march to the S.E., entered the 
thick forests which skirt the Chitoung mountains : 
they were found almost impenetrable, consisting of 
various kinds of timber trees, among which are the 
yendak, red and black, a species of mahogany; the 
moukkhou, a tall, smooth tree, of a hard grain; the 
ketchee, yielding a useful gum, and the wood of which 

* The Chitoung Sittong, or Zeet-taung river, formed the ancient 
boundary between the kingdoms of Pegu and Siam. 

178 BIRMAH. 

is durable; the peema or jarool; and the penyadoor, 
the hardest wood in the Birman dominions. The 
road had been long ago formed by cutting away the 
trees. There is a shorter and better road over the 
plain country, but it is passable only in the months of 
November and December. The rate of travelling 
through the forests was about two miles and a half 
an hour : it had been four miles an hour to the Chi- 
toung river. On the 25th, the viceroy amused himself 
with an elephant hunt. Next day, the track of march 
continued through the forests: the army encamped 
on the east side of the mountain called Tikklat, a 
cluster of six large hills. A small canal, called Theboo, 
runs from the mountain towards the Chitoung river. 

" On the 27th, the army emerged from the thick 
forests on the banks of a beautiful river called Doung- 
wing, or Maywing (Taungwa-kiaung) , whence Mr. 
Carey could perceive that they had passed between 
two ranges of mountains : that on the W. was called 
Koukthinating, that on the E., Jingat, on which is a 
lofty pagoda. On the 28th and 29th, they again tra- 
versed dense forests; the course S.E. On the 30th, 
the course was altered to the E. On December 1st, 
the road was diversified with fine views on both sides 
of the mountains, spreading into an open plain or 
valley : those to the N.W. formed a regular range. 
Mr. Carey ascended one of the mountains, and found 
the habitations of some Corians, who are in a perfectly 
savage state.* The march next day diverged to the 
S. ; and on the 3d, they reached a village called Kwy- 

* Neither men, women, nor children appeared to have washed 
their hands or faces for months. Their faces were besmeared with 
the red betel, and the saliva drivelled down their chins. Their 
clothes were few and filthy, aod swarmed with vermin ; their nails 
were " like little spades." They use a small pipe, which is seldom 

BIRMAH. 179 

agan, three miles distant from Martaban. On the 4th, 
the army collected, and marched through the town of 
Martaban, which is more than a mile in length. Next 
day, Mr. Carey ascended one of the highest moun- 
tains, to take a view of the country, which he thus 
describes : ' The prospects were truly grand and mag- 
nificent. To the N. and S., the range of mountains 
upon which the town is situated, were to be seen as 
far as the eye could reach. To the E., the long and 
high range of mountains which separate the Birman 
dominions from those of Siam, run in a parallel line 
with those which skirt the sea-shore, at about the 
distance of 100 or 150 miles. To the W., was to 
be seen the river (the Thaluan), divided into two 
branches, and opening into the sea, with vast num- 
bers of high islands scattered in different directions. 
The town appears to be well peopled, as does the sur- 
rounding country. The population consists of Peguans, 
Birmans, Siamese, and mountaineers. The town is 
situated on the E. side of the mountain, and a stockade 
runs along the top and the, bottom of it; but it is 
now in a state of decay.' "* 

In Vincent Leblanc's Travels, before referred to, 
we have the following brief account of Martaban 
" From Siam, we came to the kingdom and town of 
Martaban, sometime subject to Pegu, but since to 
Siam. There is plenty of rice and other sorts of 
grain ; mines of metals, rubies, and other stones ; and 
the air is very wholesome. The capital town is Marta- 
ban, 16 N. (the true latitude is 16 8' N.) It hath 

out of their mouths. They acknowledge no government, and live 
entirely on what these forests yield, together with the rice, betel, 
&c. which they raise, a bare sufficiency for the year's consumption. 
* Asiat. Journal, vol. xx. p. 267. 

180 BIBMAH. 

a good harbour, situate upon the river Caypumo, or 
rather an arm of the sea, where the tides run strongly 
towards Pegu; for, whereas ordinarily it flows by 
degrees, with an easy motion, here it fills that arm of 
the sea or river on a sudden, and flows with such 
fury and impetuosity, as it were mountains rolled up 
in water; and the most rapid torrent in the world 
doth not parallel this in swiftness : by three passages, 
it fills the harbour with a most fearful force and 
rapidity. Martaban joins to the territories of Dougon" 
(probably, Dag-un, on the Syriam or eastern branch 
of the Rangoon river), " the remotest town of Pegu. 
At Martaban, some years before we made our travels 
there, a rich and potent king, named Chaubaina, was 
besieged by Bramaa of Pegu. That inhuman tyrant 
of Pegu put him to a cruel death, and sacked that 
flourishing town : it had twenty-four gates. We 
went from Martaban to Pegu, four small days' journey 
distant by land."* 

In October, 1824, an expedition, composed of Eu- 
ropean and native troops, was sent by General Camp- 
bell to take possession of this port. The place is 
described in the despatches as having a strong and 
commanding appearance. It is situated at the bottom 
of a very high hill, washed by an extensive sheet of 
water. On its right is a rocky mound, surmounted 
with a two-gun battery, with a deep nullah beneath. 
The battery communicated with a stockade of timber ; 
and behind this was a deep wall of masonry, varying 
from twelve to twenty feet in thickness, with small 
embrasures for cannon and musketry. The stockade 
ran along the margin of the water for three quarters 
of a mile, where it joined a large pagoda, which pro- 

* Asiat. Journal, vol. xix. p. 65 1. 

BIRMAH. 181 

jects into the sea as a bastion. The town continues 
to run in an angle from the pagoda for at least a 
mile, terminating at the house of the maywoon, close 
to a stockade which extends up the hill. The rear of 
the town and works was protected by a thick jungle 
and large trees. The enemy suffered the British to 
reconnoitre without molestation. On the next day 
(the 30th), after a heavy cannonade during the night, 
the British troops stormed the rock on which the bat- 
tery was placed ; it was bravely carried, and the re- 
maining works were soon cleared. The enemy fled at 
the approach of our troops, rushing into the water and 
the jungle by hundreds, under a destructive fire. The 
town was found deserted, all the property having 
been carefully carried off. A considerable number of 
prisoners, however, were taken, together with 116 
pieces of cannon, mostly wall-pieces. The capture of 
Martaban was followed by the voluntary submission 
of Tenasserim, and the town and province of Yeah ; 
Tavoy and Mergui had previously surrendered ; * and 
thus, the whole Birman coast, from Rangoon east- 
ward, was reduced to British authority. 

The coast of Tenasserim originally formed part of 
the dominions of Siam, but was ceded in 1793 to 
Birmah. Mergui is situated about six miles up the 
Tenasserim river, in lat. 19 12' N., long. 98 24' E. 
This river, like all others in this part, has a bar, but 
vessels of moderate size can cross it, and the port is 
said to be very commodious : the largest ships can 
anchor in the roads. The English had a factory here 
in 1687, and were much esteemed. A number of 
Mohammedans are settled here, and some Romish 

* An expedition sailed from Rangoon on the 20th August, 
under Lieut.-col. Miles, which soon gained possession of these 
valuable ports. 

182 BIRMAH. 

Christians, who have a priest and a church. The Mergui 
islands, an archipelago extending along this coast 135 
miles, are uninhabited, although the soil is said to be 
fertile. To the south of these is the island of Salanca, 
or Junk-seylon, about 54 miles long, and 15 broad, 
separated from the main land by a shallow channel, a 
mile in breadth, which is nearly dry at low water. It 
has a harbour at the north end, called Popra, which 
may be entered over a mud bar, during the spring 
tides, by ships drawing twenty feet of water. The 
anchorage round the island is generally good. There 
are valuable tin mines in the island, which are worked 
by the natives ; and prior to the colonization of 
Prince of Wales's Island, it was a place of considerable 
trade. The chief town is Terrowa. The inhabitants 
consist of Malays, Chinese, Siamese, and Birmans. 
This island formed the southernmost point of the 
Birman empire. 

Tavoy (or Daway), like Tenasserim, is at once the 
name of a town, a river, and a province. The town 
is about eight leagues up the river, in lat. 13 13' N., 
long. 98 6' E. A pagoda stapds on the point which 
forms the western side of the entrance of the river. 
The country is stated to be extremely fertile. 

The inhabitants of these provinces are said to be 
a peculiar tribe called Meng.* The country pro- 
duces tin, sapan wood, stick-lac, corn, and marbao, a 
timber fit for ship-building. From Martaban are 
exported tin, rice, wild cardamums, edible birds' nests 
from the Andaman and Nicobar islands, and a species 
of caviare called balachong, compounded from the 
spawn of fish and pounded shrimps, made into thin 
cakes : great quantities of this article are consumed in 

* Probably, Mong ; and if so, they are Talain or Peguans. 

BIRMAH. 183 

Ava, and by the Malays, but it is very disgusting to a 
European palate. The chief trade of Martaban arises, 
however, from its potteries. The port is about twenty 
leagues E. of Rangoon river.* 

We now resume our itinerary of the Irrawaddy, 

Asiat. Journ., vol. xix. p. 760. It will hardly be expected that 
we should undertake to expound the ancient geography of these 
regions, respecting which, learned authorities are so much at va- 
riance. Ptolemy is almost the only ancient writer who affords any 
intelligible information on this point ; and all he knew of the 
countries eastward of Ceylon, was from report. In the Periplus of 
the Erythean Sea, immediately after leaving the Ganges, there is 
said to be an island in the ocean, called Khruse, or the Golden Isle, 
which lies directly under the rising sun, and at the extremity of 
the world towards the east. Khruse is mentioned as an island by 
Mela, Dionysius, &c. ; as a Chersonese by Ptolemy. Acccording to 
Mela, it was an island at the promontory Tamos, supposed to be 
the Tamala of Ptolemy. But what point this name denoted, is 
questionable. D'Anville supposes it to be Cape Negrais ; yet, if 
so, how can the Golden Island be Malacca ? The learned Editor 
of the Periplus, concluding Tamala to be either Cape Negrais (as 
D'Anville supposes), or Botermango (according to the hypothesis 
of M. Gosselin), is disposed to place Khruse at the mouth of the 
Irrawaddy. Here Gosselin fixes his Golden Chersonese and the 
river Chrysoana. " But Ptolemy," remarks Dr. Vincent, " has 
two provinces, one of gold and one of iilver, before he arrives at 
the Chersonese ; and if his Kirrhadia be Arracan, these provinces 
must be on the western coast of Ava, above the Golden Chersonese 
of his arrangement." This would seem to prove that Gosselin's 
theory is untenable, and that D'Anville is correct in making the 
Aurea Chersonesus correspond to the Peninsula of Malacca, and 
the Magnum Promontorium to Cape Romania. Tamala may then 
be Malaya, and Khruse, Sumatra. The Zaba and Thagora of 
Ptolemy, which he mentions as ports on either.side of the great 
promontory, are supposed to be Saber (or Saban) and Tingoram. 
By the river Daona, seems to be meant that from which the city 
of Tana-serim takes its name. Here it may be supposed that the 
Seres had a colony. If SerusFluvius be the Meinam, as D'Anville 
concludes, we might expect to find traces of the same nation in 
this part of the ancient dominions of Siam. See D'ANVILLE'S 
Anc. Geoff., vol. ii, pp. 1215. VINCENT'S Periplus, vol. ii. p. 514. 

184 BIRMAH. 

and rejoining Col. Symes at Meeaday, shall proceed to 
trace his route 


IT has already been mentioned, that the line of 
demarcation agreed upon in the armistice between the 
British and the Birman forces, was drawn along a 
road leading eastward from Nenbon-zeik to Tonghoo. 
Respecting this important place, once the capital of a 
powerful state, we have at present no certain informa- 
tion, as it has never been visited by any European. 
It appears to be situated on one of the heads or 
tributaries of the Zeet-taung river, and is noted for its 
cotton-manufactories. The district is said to be fertile, 
but thinly inhabited; it yields the best betel-nut in the 
empire. Gold dust is found in the neighbourhood of 
the city. The prince of Tonghoo is generally one of 
the blood-royal. The inhabitants of this part of the 
empire would seem to bear not the very best character. 
While Colonel Symes was at Amarapura, the Tonghoo 
Tee-kien was residing there with a number of his 
followers. They are described as a class of persons 
notorious among the Birmans for their insolence and 
dishonesty. " I had before heard much," he says, 
" of the ferocity of these people : they were always 
quarrelling with the followers of the other princes, par- 
ticularly those of the prince of Prome." As the mili- 
tary retainers of a prince do not always present the 
most favourable specimens of national character, it 
would be hardly just to draw any sweeping inferences 
against the people of Tonghoo from this circumstance; 
but it shews that national or provincial feuds and 
jealousies are still rife between the several tribes or 

BIRMAH. 185 

During Colonel Symes's stay at Meeaday, he made 
several short excursions to different parts of the 
country. He found little variation in its appearance, 
but describes it as very beautiful, though but half cul- 
tivated. He was uniformly treated with respect by 
the natives. Not only the better class of the inha- 
bitants of Meeaday came to visit him, but people of 
condition from all the towns and villages, for twenty 
miles round; so great was the curiosity excited by 
the news of the mission, to see the general of the 
strangers. The Colonel says, he often received eight 
or ten different companies in a morning. " When a 
party wished to be introduced, a message was sent to 
ask permission; which being obtained, they entered 
the room in a crouching position, and sat down on 
their heels, men and women alike. They always 
brought a gift of something, whatever they supposed 
might be acceptable, tobacco, onions, fine rice, &c. : 
no company presented themselves empty-handed; it 
would not have been respectful. Of course, their 
offerings drew from me a suitable return, such as 
fillets of Indian muslin to the women, and a Cossem- 
buzar silk handkerchief to the men. Several parties 
of women came unaccompanied by their husbands or 
any of their male friends; and according to the no- 
tions entertained by them, there was nothing indeco- 
rous in it; they were unconscious of any thing but 
an innocent desire to gratify curiosity, and manifest 
respect. Women of a better class were -always accom- 
panied by a train of female attendants, and, like the 
sex every where, were more lively, good-humoured, 
and inquisitive, than the men. 

Colonel Symes mentions a very remarkable object, 
which he met with in the course of his walks, " a 
flat stone, of coarse grey granite, laid horizontally on 

186 BIRMAH. 

a pedestal of masonry, six feet in length and three in 
width, protected from the weather by a wooden shed. 
This stone, like that at Pou-oo-dang, was said to bear 
the genuine print of the foot of Guadma. On the 
plane of the foot, upwards of one hundred emblema- 
tical figures are engraved in separate compartments. 
Two convoluted serpents are pressed beneath the heel, 
and five conch- shells, with the involutions to the 
right, form the toes. It was explained to be a type 
of the creation, and is held in profound reverence." 
The rhahaans made no objection to Colonel Symes's 
copying it. A similar impression, he was informed, 
is to be seen on a large rock situated between two 
hills, one day's journey west of Memboo. Adam's 
Peak, in the island of Ceylon, is impressed with another 
of these sacred foot-prints; and it is a tradition com- 
mon to the Birmans, the Siamese, and the Singalese, 
that Gaudma Buddha placed one foot on the continent, 
and the other on the island of Ceylon ! 

On resuming their route for the capital, with a 
hard gale from the south, they made way at not less 
than five miles an hour, and soon passed, on the 
western side, Meelsah-gain ; "a large village at the 
foot of a fine, swelling, wooded lawn, ornamented 
with some neat temples." Beyond this occurred 
some villages of no note. The country seemed popu- 
lous, and herds of cattle were seen grazing on the 
banks. The next day, they sailed till they came to 
an extensive island, which divides the river into two 
branches, and taking the eastern channel, brought to 
at the lower town of Loon-ghee. "Loon-ghee, or 
Great Cable, takes its name from a curious ligament 
of stone, which unites a pointed rock that rises in the 
middle of the stream with the opposite bank: it has 
the appearance of a petrified cable; and the natives 

BIRMAH. 187 

relate, that, a hundred years ago, a large rope floating 
down the river, was stopped at this place, and that, 
one end adhering to the rock, and the other to the 
bank, the rope was changed into stone. The quality 
which the waters of the Irrawaddy possess, of chang- 
ing wood into stone, of which," continues Colonei 
Symes, " we afterwards saw innumerable instances, 
renders the transmutation of the cable by no means 
an impossible circumstance. They also say, that the 
opposite island formerly constituted part of one situated 
fifteen miles higher up, but was severed from it by an 
earthquake, and carried down to the place where it 
now rests. Whether removed by an extraordinary 
convulsion of nature, and by a still more extraordinary 
transportation, or whether encircled by the river from 
its having changed its channel, the island now consti- 
tutes a principal object in one of the finest sylvan 
scenes I ever beheld. From a temple above Loon- 
ghee, seated on a commanding cliff whose summit 
overhangs its base, the eye is gratified with a delightful 
combination of natural beauties. A fine sheet of 
water, three miles in breadth, broken by an island 
more than a mile long and half a mile wide, covered 
with trees of luxuriant foliage; eminences on the 
opposite shore, that rise from gently swelling grounds 
clothed with wood, to brown and rugged mountains, 
which, receding in an oblique direction, leave to the 
view a long and level plain; these altogether form a 
landscape rarely equalled." 

The embassy was detained for some days at Loon- 
ghee, in compliance with the wishes of the Maywoon 
who accompanied it. His infant son had been unwell 
for some time, and the illness had now increased to a 
dangerous height. " A war-boat was despatched 
express to the capital, to bring down medicine and a 


188 BIRMAH. 

celebrated professor of physic. In the mean time, all 
the physicians of the country, to the number of 
twenty, were assembled to consult and prescribe for 
the sick infant. The disorder was an inflammatory 
fever. Tea, made of wild thyme, and decoctions of 
several vegetable productions, were the only medicines 
administered. They did not, however, neglect to call 
in the aid of supernatural remedies : incantations and 
amulets were used, to the efficacy of which much was 
attributed." While the recovery of the child conti- 
nued doubtful, Colonel Symes sent his Hindoo pundit 
every morning to inquire after its health. The pundit 
was introduced into the sick chamber, where he wit- 
nessed the most amiable demonstrations of parental 
tenderness. Both the father and the mother were 
seen kneeling by the side of the infant's bed, and 
they attended on him day and night. At length, the 
twenty doctors pronounced their patient out of 
danger, to the joy of his parents, and all their 

During their detention here, Colonel Symes made 
several short excursions. The soil in the immediate 
neighbourhood is light and sandy, with many loose 
stones : it is very favourable for the cultivation of 
cotton, several plantations of which were seen. Sesa- 
sum also is sown here. The country is, for the most 
part, undulating. There are several neat villages 
within the distance of two or three miles. A deep 
ravine, formed by the monsoon rains, extends inland 
from the river, the banks of which are covered with 
stunted trees, affording shelter to numerous tigers, 
who abound in the adjacent forests. Partridges, 
hares, quails, and wood-pigeons of a beautiful plumage, 
may be met with in the open fields ; but the jungle- 
fowl keep close in the thick covers, where it is dan- 

BIRMAH. 189 

gerous to venture after them. On the island were 
seen a few deer, extremely wild, and three buffaloes. 
The cattle used for draft and tillage are remarkably 
good. They put only a pair in the plough, which 
differs little from that of India. In their large carts, 
they yoke four, and often six. Colonel Symes one day 
met a waggon drawn by four stout oxen, driven by a 
country girl standing in the vehicle, who seemed to 
manage the reins and a long whip with equal ease and 
dexterity. They were going at a hard gallop, "a 
novel sight to a person accustomed to the slow-moving 
machines of India, in which the women are almost too 
timorous to ride, much less to attempt to guide them." 
These vehicles are well constructed, and both neater 
and more commodious than the clumsy gawries of Hin- 
dostan. A caravan of eighteen waggons, each drawn 
by six bullocks, was met travelling from the south 
towards the capital. A good tilted roof of bamboo, 
covered with painted cloth, threw off the rain. " They 
contained not only merchandise, but also entire fami- 
lies, the wives, children, monkeys, cats, parroquets, 
and all the worldly substance of the waggoner. Each 
bullock had a bell under his throat. The wheels not 
being greased, a horrid noise announced the approach 
of the caravan long before it could be seen. They 
travel slowly, from ten to fifteen miles a day. At 
night, the waggons are disposed in a circle, and form 
a barrier, within which the carriers feed their cattle, 
light fires, and dress their victuals, secure from the 
attacks of tigers, which much infest the less populous 
parts of the empire." A well-frequented road leads 
from Loon-ghee to the city of Tonghoo, distant fifteen 
day's journey. 

At length, the embassy proceeded, and reached, at 
the end of the first day's voyage, Mee-ghe-oung-yay 

190 BIRMAH. 

or Crocodile Town, a place of considerable trade on 
the western bank. Nearly a hundred large boats and 
several smaller ones were lying off the stairs; they 
were taking on board rice, garlic, onions, and oil, for 
the consumption of the capital. The fields in this 
neighbourhood are divided by thorn hedges ; the low 
grounds are planted with rice, and the higher lands with 
leguminous shrubs, or are left for pasture. Some 
neat farms were observed, each containing four or five 
cottages, better built than the houses in general are in 
the towns, and fenced round with wide enclosures for 
the cattle. In this day's voyage, they passed many 
towns and villages, and, about half way, another 
island, two miles in extent, on which was a pyramidal 
temple called Keendoo-praw, together with several 
smaller ones. The next day, they passed Patanagoh, 
a long, straggling village, with a richly gilded temple. 
Every house had a comfortable garden, enclosed with a 
bamboo railing, with orchards of palmyra, plantain, 
and mango-trees. Near this place, which is on the 
eastern shore, the villagers were seen cutting the 
ripened indigo. On the western side, Melloon seemed 
rich in temples, but not otherwise important. Nume- 
rous villages were seen this day, and several sandy 
islands. In the evening, they brought to, on the 
eastern side, between the towns of Magway and Span- 
zeik. Low, woody hills now begin to skirt the river, 
particularly on the eastern bank. The summits of 
some of these hills are crowned with temples : one 
on the western bank, called Maynbu, appeared to be 
considerable. The river, where not interrupted by 
islands, is not less than two miles across. 

After passing various villages, (among others, 
Shoe-lee-rua, or Golden-boat-village, so called from 
its being inhabited by watermen in the golden service,) 

BIRMAH. 191 

the embassy reached, in the afternoon of the third 
day, Yanangheoum (Ranangoong), or Earth-oil-creek, 
which derives its name from the wells of petroleum 
in the neighbourhood. The aspect of the country 
now became totally changed. The surface is broken 
into small, separate hills, entirely barren; the only 
vegetation consists of some stunted bushes that grow 
on the declivities and in the dells, and a few un- 
healthy trees immediately in the neighbourhood of the 
villages. The soil, a reddish clay, is superficially 
covered with a quartz-gravel, and concrete masses of 
the same material were seen thickly scattered. The 
mouth of the creek was crowded with large boats, 
waiting to receive a lading of oil; and immense 
pyramids of earthern jars were disposed within and 
around the village, in the same manner as shot 
and shells are piled in an arsenal. Yanangheoum is 
situated in lat. 20 28' N., long. 94 30' E. The 
town has a mean appearance, notwithstanding its 
numerous pagodas, which Captain Cox describes as 
falling to ruins. The inhabitants, however, he says, 
were well dressed and many of them had gold ear- 
ornaments of a spiral form. They ought to be rich, 
from the great trade they carry on in the earth-oil. 
At the time of his journey, thirty-three large boats, 
besides numerous smaller ones, were lying here ; and 
thirty-three more large merchant-boats were lying at 
two villages a little higher up. Colonel Symes repre- 
sents the place to be inhabited only by potters, who 
carry on an extensive manufactory, and find full em- 
ployment. He found the smell of the oil extremely 
offensive. The nearest wells are about three miles 
from the river in an E.N.E. direction. The road lies 
through the dry, sandy channels of water-courses, and 
over rugged, arid downs, partially clothed with plants 
M 2 


of the euphorbium genus, the cassia-tree, which yields 
the cutch, or terra japonica, (used throughout India to 
add to the astringency of the betel,) and the hardy biar 
or wild plum of India. The wells in this place are 
180 in number; they are scattered over the downs at 
irregular distances. Four or five miles to the N.E., 
there are 340 more. The oil of naphtha is of a dingy 
green, and odorous. It is used for lamps. Boiled with 
a little dammer, (a resin of the country), it serves for 
paying the timbers of houses and the bottoms of boats, 
which it keeps from decay and vermin; it is also em- 
ployed as a lotion in cutaneous eruptions, and as an 
embrocation in bruises and rheumatic complaints. It 
is drawn pure from the wells in the liquid state; but, 
in the cold season, it congeals in the open air, and 
always loses something of its fluidity. " It is, in 
fact," says Captain Cox, " a genuine petroleum, pos- 
sessing all the properties of coal-tar. The only differ- 
ence is, that Nature elaborates in the bowels of the 
earth, that for the Birmans, for which European 
nations are indebted to the ingenuity of Lord Dun- 

The method of sinking these wells is ingenious. 
" The hill is cut down so as to form a square table of 
from fourteen to twenty feet for the crown of the well ; 
and from this table, a road is formed by scraping away 
an inclined plane. The shaft is sunk of a square 
form, and is lined, as the miner proceeds, with frames 
of cassia- wood staves; the uppermost ones about four 
feet and a half square, but more contracted below. 
When a miner has pierced six or more feet of the shaft, 
a series of these frames are piled one on another, and 
are regularly added to at top, the whole gradually 
sinking as he deepens the shaft, so as to secure him 
against the falling in of the sides. The strata to be 

BIRMAH. 193 

pierced through consist of, first, a light, sandy loam, 
intermixed with fragments of quartz, silex, &c. ; 
secondly, a friable sand-stone, easily wrought, with 
thin horizontal strata of martial ore, talc, and indu- 
rated argil; thirdly, at about twenty cubits from the 
surface, a pale blue, argillaceous schist, impregnated 
with the petroleum, very difficult to work, growing 
harder as they go deeper, and ending in schist and 
slate, such as is found covering veins of coal in Europe. 
Below this schist, at the depth of 130 cubits, is coal. 
The specimen seen by Captain Cox was mixed with 
sulphur and pyrites. The machinery used in drawing 
up the rubbish, and afterwards the oil, consists of an 
axle crossing the centre of the well, resting on two 
rude forked stanchions, with a revolving barrel like 
the nave of a wheel, in which is a score for receiving 
the draw-rope. The bucket is of wicker work covered 
with dammer. To receive the oil, one man is sta- 
tioned at the brink of the well, who empties the 
bucket into a channel leading to a jar sunk in the 
earth, whence it is ladled into smaller ones, and im- 
mediately carried down to the river. When a well 
grows dry, they deepen it : none have been abandoned, 
and they would seem to be inexhaustible. Even the 
death of a miner from mephitic air, which sometimes 
occurs, does not deter others from persisting in deep- 
ening them when dry. The miners assured Captain 
Cox, that no water ever penetrates the earth into these 
wells. The rains in this part of the country are, in 
fact, seldom heavy, owing probably to the high range 
of mountains to the eastward, which arrest the clouds. 
During the rainy season, a roof of thatch is thrown 
over the wells; the waters soon run off to the river, 
and what sinks into the earth, is prevented from 
descending to any great depth by the increasing hard- 

194 BIRMAH. 

ness of the oleaginous strata.* The property of these 
wells is in the owners of the soil, and descends as a 
sort of entailed hereditament, with which, it is said, 
the government never interferes, and which no dis- 
tress will induce them to alienate. One family gene- 
rally possesses as many as four or five wells; seldom 
more. A tenth of the produce goes to the king, and 
one-sixth to the labourers, either in oil or in money. 
The average, produce of each well per diem, Captain 
Cox estimates at 300 viss, or 109,500 viss per annum, 
equal to 173 tons 9551bs, or, in liquid measure, 793 
hogsheads of sixty- three gallons each. And as there 
are 520 wells registered by government, the total pro- 
duce per annum is 412,360 hogsheads; worth, at the 
wells, 711,750 tecals.-^ Between seventy and eighty 
boats, of an average burthen of sixty tons, are con- 
stantly employed in this branch of commerce. 

Colonel Symes picked up near this town, several 
lumps of petrified wood, in which the grain was clearly 
discernible. " It was hard, silicious, and seemed com- 
posed of different lamina. The natives said, that the 
petrifying quality of the earth at this place was such, 
that leaves of trees shaken off by the wind, were not 
unfrequently changed into stone before they could be 
decayed by time." This whole tract seems to invite 
the researches of the geologist. 

After passing Pengkioum, where a small river falls 
into the Irrawaddy, the country resumes its verdant ap- 

* The coal mines of Whitby are worked below the harbour, and 
the roof of the galleries is not more than fifty feet from the bed of 
the sea. 

t At the wells, it is worth & tecals per 100 viss. It is delivered 
to the exporter at the river, at two tecals per 100 visa, the value 
being enhanced three-eighths by the portage. At Rangoon, it 
is sold at the rate of three sicca-rupees, three anas, and six pice 
per 112 Ib. 

BIRMAH. 195 

pearanee, and the trees shoot up with their usual vigour. 
The bed of the river is here very wide, being about 
four miles across in the dry season, but its stream is 
then divided into different channels by low islands of 
sand. On the western bank is seen the town of 
Sembu-ghoon, a position of great importance, as here 
only the lofty range of Anou-pec-tou-miou, which 
sweep round and enclose the province of Arracan, 
open and form a pass about sixty miles in length. 
Through this opening, all the Bengal merchandise im- 
ported into Birmah by way of Arracan, is brought, to 
be shipped on the Irrawaddy.* A little higher up, on 
the eastern side, is a large town called Pakang-yay, 
with several neat temples, surrounded with groves of 
palmyra, tamarind, and banyan-trees; here also were 
some heavy trading-boats. In the evening after leav- 
ing Yanangheoun, the embassy reached Sillah-miou, a 
large and handsome town, shaded by wide-spreading 
trees, and embellished with several temples. A smooth 
bank of the finestvverdure, sloping to the river, adds 
much to its beaaty. The soil seemed in general poor, 
but some fields were regularly fenced, and large herds 
were grazing in the neighbourhood. The crotolaria 
juncea, which yields good hemp or flax, grows here 
spontaneously. This town is distinguished for its 
silk-manufactories. The silk is brought from Yun- 
man in China, by way of Amarapura, in a raw state, 
and is returned in the web. The colours are bright 
and beautiful, though not very durable, and the tex- 
ture is close and strong. The goods are mostly woven 

* The difficulties of reaching Arracan even through this na- 
tural gap, would be almost insurmountable by any other than 
native troops, accustomed to jungle warfare. Accordingly, it has 
been deemed necessary that the Bengal army, on evacuating Hen- 
zawuddy, should retire by way of Rangoon. 

196 BIRMAH. 

in patterns adapted to the Birman dress. At a short 
distance from the town are the ruins of a brick fort, 
erected in a very judicious situation. 

The next day, they made little progress, owing to 
the violence of the current, which obliged the boatmen 
to take to their poles. The Arracan mountains ap- 
peared to the west, and a lofty conical hill, called 
Poupa, was in sight to the eastward. A few villages 
and numerous temples skirted the banks. At a place 
called Yoo-wa, another small river enters the Irra- 
waddy; and two days' journey up this river, is a 
large town called Yoo-miou. The district derives its 
name from the people called Yoo, who were repre- 
sented to Colonel Symes as exceedingly ugly, having 
protuberant bellies and white teeth, a great deformity 
in the eyes of the Birmans, who stain their teeth, eye- 
lashes, and the edge of the eye-lids with black.* The 
Yoos are said to speak the language of Tavoy. They 
are subject to the Birmans, and are, like them, wor- 
shippers of Guadma. Their territory skirts the great 
chain of Anou-pec-tou-miou from lat. 21 to 23 N. 
Small barren hills now form the eastern bank, abound- 
ing with petrifactions, but relieved by fertile and well- 
cultivated valleys ; till, after doubling a rocky point, 
round which the current sets with formidable rapidity, 
we come to the large town of Seen-ghoo, situated on 
a green level bank, affording a fine range of pasturage. 
For a great distance, small temples are built close to 
the river. At Kea-hoh, a poor village, which Colonel 
Symes reached in the evening of the third day (from 
Yanangheoum), the inhabitants obtain a livelihood by 

* The collyrium they use is called surma, the Persian name for 
antimony. White teeth, they say, are fit only for dogs ! The 
practice of dying the eye-lashes is common to the females of Hin- 
dostan and Persia. 

BIRMAH. 197 

extracting molasses from the palmyra-tree, of which 
they make tolerably good sugar. " Although," re- 
marks Colonel Symes, " the soil near the river is in 
most places unproductive and barren, yet, as we ad- 
vanced northwards on the following day, population 
increased. Every little hill or rising ground was 
crowned with a temple. That of Logah-nunda is dis- 
tinguished for its superior size ; it is a clumsy, inele- 
gant mass of building, elevated on a semicircular 
terrace; the base is painted with different colours, 
and the cupola is richly gilded." A little beyond 
appears in view the once magnificent city of 


OF this ancient capital, celeorated in Birman 
history as the seat of a former dynasty,* little more 

Pah-gahn is said to have been the residence of forty-five suc- 
cessive monarchs, and to have been abandoned about 500 years ago, 
in consequence of a divine admonition. " Whatever may be its 
true history," remarks Colonel Symes, " it certainly was once a 
place of no ordinary splendour." The learned editor of Marco 
Polo's Travels, supposes it to be no other than the ancient capital 
of Mien, referred to by that Traveller in his account of the inroad 
made into Birmah by the Great Khan. He describes it as distant 
fifteen days' journey from the great plain in which the Birmans 
were totally defeated by the Tatar army. The coincidence of dates 
is remarkable, as five centuries would place the abandonment of 
Pah-gahn about the period of the Mongol conquest. Amarapura 
did not then exist, and Ava was too near to have taken fifteen days 
in reaching it. Marco Polo styles the city large and magnificent. 
"The inhabitants," he adds, "are idolaters, and have a language 
peculiar to themselves. It is related, that there formerly reigned 
in this country a rich and powerful monarch, who, when his death 
was drawing near, gave orders for erecting on the place of his inter- 
ment, at the head and foot of his sepulchre, two pyramidal towers, 
each terminating with a ball. Around the balls are suspended small 
bells of gold and silver, which sounded when put in motion by the 
wind. The whole formed a splendid object ; and the Great Khan, 

198 BIRMAH. 

than a few straggling houses is to be seen from the 
river; and " in fact," says Colonel Symes, " scarcely 
any thing remains of ancient Pagahm, except its nu- 
merous mouldering temples, and the vestiges of an old 
brick fort, the ramparts of which may still be traced." 
Mr Judson ascended one of the principal edifices, up- 
wards of a hundred feet high, and he describes the 
view presented from the summit as extremely striking 
and impressive. " All the country round seems 
covered with temples and monuments of every sort 
and size ; some in utter ruin, some fast decaying, and 
some exhibiting marks of recent attention and repair. 
The remains of the ancient wall of the city stretched 
beneath us, the pillars of the gates, and many a gro- 
tesque decapitated relic, checkered the motley scene." 
The ruins are stated by Colonel Symea to cover a space 
of ground not less than six or seven miles along the 
river and three miles inland. The religious edifices 
differ in structure from those in the lower provinces. 
" Instead of a slender spire rising to a great height 
from an extended base, the temples of Pah-gahn in 
general carry up a heavy breadth to very near the 
top, and then come abruptly to a point, which gives 
them a clumsy appearance.* Many of the more 
ancient temples are not solid at the bottom : a well- 

upon being informed that they had been erected in pious memory 
of a former king, would not suffer them to be violated or injured 
in the smallest degree." 

* The pyramid of Meidun near Memphis, displays the shape of 
the Pah-gahn temple, while that of Gheeza, if surmounted with a 
tee, would correspond precisely to that of Shoe-madoo. Both 
these pyramidal forms, as well as the globular structures of the 
Cingalese, are alike sacred to Buddha under different invocations 
or avatars. The variations of structure are neither accidental nor 
arbitrary, but imply the particular incarnation to which the edifice 
is dedicated. 

BIRMAH. 199 

arched dome supports a ponderous superstructure. 
Within, an image of Guadma sits enshrined. Four 
arched door-ways open into the dome." In one of 
these, Colonel Symes saw a human figure erect, 
which, he was told, represented Guadma, and another 
of the same personage, lying on his right side, asleep; 
both colossal. He supposes the erect figure, however, 
to be rather, the Hindoo, Ananda, and the recumbent 
one, Na-ra-yan, sleeping on the waters. A very cu- 
rious and ancient temple was being repaired by order 
of the Engy-Teekien, at the time of Colonel Symes's 
return. " It was built of masonry, and comprehended 
several arches, forming separate domes, into which 
four arched porches led, that faced the four cardinal 
points. On each side of the doors, in recesses in the 
walls, were seated gigantic human figures, made of 
stucco, with large staring eyes, and the head pro- 
truded forward, as if to look at those who approached 
the threshold. These were the preternatural porters, 
whose power of perception is believed to be such, that 
they can penetrate the recesses of the heart, and dis- 
cover the sincerity of devotion." The prince intended 
to gild this temple; and four visa of gold, equal to 
600/., were already prepared for it. The art of turning 
well-formed arches of brick, exhibited in the more an- 
cient temples, is now lost in Birmah; and wooden 
buildings have every where superseded the more sub- 
stantial edifices of masonry erected by a former race of 

Pah-gahn stands in lat. 21 9' N., long. 94 35' E., 
about 260 miles distant from Rangoon. A small 
river, named in the days of its splendour Shoe-Jciaung y 
the golden stream, here falls into the Irrawaddy. 
The modern town of Neoundah, about four miles to 
the north, is, in fact, a continuation of Pah-gahn, and 


200 BTRMAH. 

has succeeded to a portion of its honours. " On en- 
tering the town," says the Colonel, "we came into a 
long, narrow, winding street, about thirty feet wide; 
the houses were built of bamboo, and raised from the 
ground. This street was full of shops, containing no 
other articles than lackered ware; boxes, trays, cups, 
&c., varnished in a very neat manner, were displayed 
in the front of the shops; they were of various colours; 
some had figures painted on them, others wreaths of 
flowers. Leaving this street, we crossed a water- 
course on a good wooden bridge, and came to the 
bazar, or provision market ; the green-stalls seemed 
to be well provided with rice, pulse, greens, garlic, 
onions, and fruit; there were also fresh fish, gnapee, 
and dead lizards, which latter the Birmans account a 
delicacy; but there was not any meat. In our pro- 
gress, we passed over another bridge, and saw several 
streets running in parallel lines: some of these were 
inhabited by carriers, whose cattle were feeding on 
rice straw round their houses. Having reached the 
extremity of the town in this direction, we came upon 
a well-paved road, that led to the great temple named 
Shoezeegoon, to which we proceeded. On each side 
of the road there was a range of small temples, ne- 
glected and in ruins: the kioums, or monasteries, 
were in good repair, and we saw some handsome 
houses for the accommodation of strangers. Shoe- 
zeegoon is neither so large nor so well built as the 
temples at Rangoon or Pegu; the height does not 
exceed 150 feet; it is surrounded with a spacious area, 
paved with broad flags, on which there are a number 
of smaller buildings, profusely gilded and laboriously 
carved. A staircase on the outside leads up to a gal- 
lery, about a third of the height of the principal 
temple, whence we had an extensive prospect of the 

BIRMAH. 201 

country, whieh appeared to be exceeding unproductive 
and barren. 

" Returning by a different way, we walked through 
an alley occupied by blacksmiths' shops, furnished 
with bill-hooks, spike-nails, adzes, &c. A little fur- 
ther on, we saw the ruins of a street that had been 
consumed by fire only two days before : from seventy 
to eighty houses were destroyed by the conflagration. 
Passing through the suburbs, we came to a part where 
the inhabitants were employed in expressing oil from 
the sesauium seed : the grain is put into a deep, 
wooden trough, in which it is pressed by an upright 
timber fixed in a frame; the force is increased by a 
long lever, on the extremity of which a man sits and 
guides a bullock that moves in a circle, thus turning 
and pressing the seed at the same time. The machine 
was simple, and answered the purpose effectually. 
There were not less than 200 of these mills within a 
narrow compass. From the circumstance of the cattle 
being in good order, we concluded that they were fed 
on the seed after the oil was extracted. The land 
about Pagahn scarcely yields sufficient vegetation to 
nourish goats." 

Neoundah is a place of considerable trade. Cotton, 
japanned wares, and sesamum oil, are the principal 
exports. On his return, Colonel Symes brought to 
at night off this place, amid a fleet of not fewer than 
two hundred large trading boats, moored at the bank, 
in waiting for their lading. Here, in proceeding to 
the capital, the envoy took formal possession of a 
royal barge which had been sent down from Amara- 
pura for his personal accommodation, with two war- 
boats to row it. " The platform contained space for 
thirty-two rowers, sixteen on each side; but on this 
occasion the oars were not fastened, as it was meant 

202 BIRMAH. 

to be towed by the war-boats. The inside was divided 
into three small apartments handsomely fitted up. 
The roof and sides were lined with white cotton, and 
the floor was covered with carpets and fine mats. 

After leaving Neoundah, the eastern bank rises to 
from eighty to a hundred feet in perpendicular height. 
In the face of the cliff, more than half way up, are 
seen apertures resembling door-ways, said to be en- 
trances to caves formerly inhabited by hermits The 
river is perpetually divided by long islands, but is still 
for the most part about three miles wide. After 
passing the towns of Sirray-kioum and Gnerroutoh, 
both on the eastern bank, they brought to near 
Shwayedong, a small but neat town, containing about 
300 houses in a regular street, each with its small 
garden, fenced with a bamboo railing. Two monas- 
teries and a few small temples were seen under the 
shade of wide-spreading trees. The country, during 
the latter part of the day's voyage, seemed much more 
fertile and populous than in the neighbourhood of 
Pah-gahn. Keozee, on the same side, is the only place 
of consequence that occurred in the next day's voyage. 
Near this town, the country is enclosed, and the re- 
mains of a tobacco-plantation were seen. Detached 
hills appeared to the eastward. They brought to at a 
small village called Tou-cheac, where the inhabitants 
acquire a livelihood by selling the lapac, or pickled 
tea-leaf, of which the Birmans are extremely fond. 
The plant grows in a district to the north-east of Ama- 
rapura, called Palang-miou, but is very inferior to the 
tea of China, and is seldom used but as a pickle. 

The river is now from three to five miles in width. 
The country continued to improve in the appearance 
of culture and population. They passed on the eastern 
side, Kiouptaun, or the Line of Rocks, Tanoundain, a 

BIBMAH. 203 

respectable town, with several other smaller towns 
and villages, and in the evening, brought to at an 
island opposite Tirroup-miou, or Chinese City. This 
name commemorates a victory gained here over a 
Chinese army some centuries ago, when Pah-gahn 
was the seat of Government. It appears to have 
been through many ages, a favourite object of am- 
bition with the Chinese emperors, to achieve so de- 
sirable a conquest as that of the valley of the Irra- 

About five miles above Tirroup-miou, the Kiayn- 
duem river, which rises in the lower range of 
mountains on the confines of Assam, in lat. 25 N., 
mingles its waters with the Irravvaddy. At its en- 
trance, the Kiayn-duem is nearly a mile in breadth. 
It flows through a very fertile country, and is said to 
be navigable for large boats twenty days' distance 
from its confluence with the Irrawaddy. 

In the rowers of the barge sent down from Amara- 
pura to meet the embassy, Col. Symes was struck with 
a physiognomy differing much from the other boat- 
men, and a softness of countenance resembling the 
Bengalese, more than the Birman cast of features. They 
proved to be Cassayers who had been brought away 
from then: native country, which lies beyond the 
Kiayn-duem, when the Birmans earned their preda- 
tory incursions across its stream. Above the conflux 
of the two rivers, the Irrawaddy has the appearance of 
a beautiful canal, the island to the westward, as well 
as the eastern bank, being well inhabited. "Num- 
berless villages and hamlets, with farm-yards, sur- 
rounded with stacks of paddy, buffaloes, horses, and 
black cattle, recall to mind scenes of European hus- 
bandry, and evince the industry and plenty of the 
country." At Yanda-boo, are manufactories of 

204 BIRMAH. 

earthern-ware ; and at the succeeding town of Sum- 
mei-kioum is the greatest manufactory of saltpetre 
and gunpowder in the empire. Hence the royal 
magazines are supplied ; neither gunpowder nor salt- 
petre is, however, suffered to be exported under any 
plea, nor can the smallest quantity be sold without a 
special license from some man in power. A creek 
leads up to this town. The grounds in the neigh- 
bourhood are cultivated with rice. Temples and vil- 
lages now line the banks so thickly, Colonel Symes 
says, that it would be tedious to enumerate them. 
Gnameaghee is celebrated for producing the best tobacco 
in the empire. Many brick-kilns were burning here, 
preparing materials for building temples, of which 
there appeared to be already a sufficient number. 
Beyond this place occur numerous islands : some of 
them are wooded and cultivated, and have inhabitants. 
The next place of consequence is Sandaht, or Elephant 
Village, situated near a bend of the river, in doubling 
which, the boats had great difficulty in making their 
way against the powerful stream. It derives its name 
from being wholly occupied by the elephant-keepers of 
the royal stables. The king is sole proprietor of all 
the elephants in his dominions; and the privilege to 
ride on or keep one of these animals, is an honour 
granted only to personages of the very first rank and 
consequence. His Birman majesty is said to possess 
six thousand. 

The next day, they passed Meah-moo, a large town 
on the western bank, remarkable for a manufactory of 
coarse checkered cotton cloth ; Yapadain, on the east- 
ern side, a town with several temples and a handsome 
monastery ; further on, several populous villages, plea- 
santly situated and adorned with well-enclosed gar- 
dens and orchards of plantain, guava, and other fruit- 

BIRMAH. 205 

trees; and at night reached Kioptaloun, where a 
large temple, surrounded with several small buildings, 
was the only object that merited attention. " As our 
distance from Amarapura diminished," says Colonel 
Symes, " towns and villages on each side recurred at 
so short intervals, that it was in vain to inquire the 
name of each distinct assemblage of houses. Each, 
however, had its name, and was, for the most part, 
inhabited by one particular class, professing some 
separate trade, or following some peculiar occupation. 
We were shewn a tomb erected to the memory of a 
person of high distinction, who had been accidentally 
drowned near the spot fifteen years before : it was an 
oblong brick building, one story high, with eight or 
nine doors opening towards the river. Many beautiful 
temples and kioums would have engaged our attention, 
had we not already seen such numbers, and had we not 
been assured that all we had viewed fell far short of 
those we should have an opportunity of beholding at 
the capital." 

Late in the evening of the eighth day from Neoun- 
dah, they reached the lower landing-place of what was 
long the metropolis of 


THE scene of desolation which here presented itself, 
was very striking. The scattered religious buildings 
that yet remain, extend about two miles along the 
banks of the river, which are here of a moderate height 
and rocky. Ava (or Aungwa), says Colonel Symes, 
" is divided into an upper and a lower town, both of 
which are fortified. The lower, which is the more 
extensive, is about four miles in circumference; it is 
protected by a wall thirty feet in height, at the foot of 
which there is a deep and broad fosse. The upper fort 

206 BIRMAH. 

or citadel, about a mile in circuit, was much more 
compact and strong than the lower. The walls are 
now (1795) mouldering into decay; ivy clings to the 
sides, and bushes undermine the foundation, and have 
already caused large chasms in different faces of the 
fort. The materials of the houses, consisting chiefly 
of wood, had, on the first order for removing, been 
transported to the new city of Amarapura ; but the 
ground, except where covered with bushes or rank 
grass, still retains the traces of former buildings and 
streets. The lines of the royal palace, the lotoo, or 
grand council-hall, and the spot on which the piasath, 
or imperial spire, had stood, were pointed out to us by 
our guide. Clumps of bamboos, tall thorns, and a few 
plaintain-trees, occupy the greater part of the area of 
this once flourishing capital. Numerous temples (on 
which the Birmans never lay sacrilegious hands) were 
dilapidating by time. It would be impossible to draw 
a more striking picture of desolation and ruin." 

Among the religious buildings within the fort, the 
Shoegunga-praw has been always held peculiarly sacred. 
An oath of allegiance is taken in this temple by every 
Birman officer, on being appointed to any great public 
trust, whether civil or military ; and the infringement 
of this oath, which is viewed as the most heinous crime 
that a Birman can be guilty of, is invariably punished 
with the severest tortures. A temple of much greater 
magnitude stands a short distance to the westward of 
the fort. It is named Logatherpoo-praw, and was 
formerly the residence of the zarado or high priest of 
the empire. The area on which the temple stands, is 
a square surrounded with an arcade of masonry; on 
each side are erected nine cubical towers. The temple 
in which the stupendous idol is placed, has an arched 
excavation which contains the image of Guadania, 


seated on a pedestal in its customary position. The 
height of the idol, from the top of the head to the 
pedestal, is nearly twenty-four feet. The head is 
eight feet in diameter; across the breast it measures 
ten feet; and the hands are between five and six 
feet long. The pedestal, which is also of marble, 
is raised eight feet from the ground. The neck and 
left side of the image are gilded, but the right arm 
and shoulder remain uncovered. It was declared to 
be composed of one block of marble, nor could Col. 
Symes, on the closest inspection, observe any junction 
of parts. 

Ava was, at this period, the resort of numerous 
thieves, who found concealment among its decayed 
buildings. To any onejicquainted with the fickle cha- 
racter of Asiatic rulers, it will cause no surprise to 
learn, that recent accounts represent Ava as likely again 
to resume its ancient honours as once more the capital 
of the empire. Amarapura was the creation of Mindera- 
jee-praw ; its streets were laid out on the same plan as 
those of Ava. The will of the emperor once expressed, 
will soon restore the old city to its former splendour, 
and throw back the modern capital into a similar state 
of neglect and ruin. 

On leaving Ava, the river bends again to the north- 
ward, when the opposite city of Chagaing, and the 
spires, the turrets, and the lofty piasath of Amara- 
pura, create an unexpected pleasure, and exhibit a 
fine contrast to the gloomy and deserted walls of Ava. 
Chagaing, on the northern side, has also been an im- 
perial residence, and is noted in Birman history. It 
is situated partly at the foot, and partly on the side of 
a rugged bill, which is broken into separate eminences; 
and on each summit stands a spiral temple. These 
temples, rising irregularly one above another to the 
N 2 

208 BIRMAH. 

top of the mountain, forms a beautiful assemblage of 
objects, the effect of which is increased by their being 
carefully whitewashed and kept in repair. Chagaing 
is the principal emporium to which cotton is brought 
from all parts, and where, after being cleaned, it is 
embarked for the China market. Its scattered houses 
extend for three or four miles along the banks. It is 
very populous, and has a large share of trade. There 
are remains of a fort built of brick, the walls about 
sixteen feet high, but unimportant as to strength, 
being commanded by the adjacent hills. The river, 
when at its height, has the appearance of a vast lake 
interspersed with islands, in which the foundations of 
Amarapura seem to be immersed. Numberless boats 
are seen passing up and down, and the houses on the 
southern shore occur in such uninterrupted succession, 
as to appear like a continued town or the suburbs of a 


THE immortal city, stands on the banks of the 
deep and extensive lake of Tounzemahn, which 
communicates by a navigable channel with the Irra- 
waddy. The situation is particularly fine for the 
site of a metropolis: it was chosen by Minderajee- 
praw, who founded the city in 1783. To be seen to 
advantage, however, it should be visited when the 
river is at its height.* When filled by the periodical 
rains, the lake on the one side, and the river on the 
other, form a dry peninsula, on which advantageous 

* Mr. Judson, who visited Amarapura in January, landed at 
O-ding-miou, the lower landing-place. " At our present distance 
of nearly four miles from the city," he writes, " (and we cannot 
get nearer at this season,) it appears to the worst advantage. We 
can hardly distinguish the golden steeple of the palace amid the 
glittering pagodas, the summits of which just suffice to mark the 
spot of our ultimate destination." 

BIRMAH. 209 

situation the city is built. The number and variety 
of the boats moving on the waters of the lake, the 
great expanse of water, and the lofty surrounding 
hills, present a most striking scene. The palace, 
viewed in this direction, appears a confused assem- 
blage of buildings, glittering with a blaze of gilding. 
One part of it consists of a square building finished 
with battlements, and a flat roof, with Tuscan pilas- 
ters at the angles. It is painted white, with gilded 
mouldings, but is so surrounded with trees and the 
mean abodes of the natives, that it is very imperfectly 
seen from the river. The city extends for four miles 
along the south-eastern bank, and is filled with reli- 
gious buildings of various classes. The palace is about 
three-fourths of a mile N.E. by N. from the extre- 
mity of the western suburbs, and the fort about one 
mile further. To the eastward and northward is a 
high range of rugged, barren mountains, distant from 
four to five miles. The main breadth of the river, 
opposite Amarapura, is about two miles. In the dry 
season, its bed is mostly filled with high sandy islands, 
then under cultivation; but they are entirely covered 
by the inundation, and are annually changing their 
form and position. 

The fort of Amarapura is an exact square. There 
are four principal gates, one in each face, and a smaller 
gate on each side of the great gate, equidistant between 
it and the angle of the fort; twelve gates in all. At 
each angle of the fort there is a large quadrangular 
bastion, which projects considerably; there are also 
eleven smaller bastions on each side, including those 
over the gateway. A curtain extending two hundred 
yards connects each bastion. Each side of the fort 
occupies 2,400 feet. The rampart, faced with a wall 
of brick, is about twenty feet high, exclusive of the 

210 BIRMAH. 

parapet, which has embrasures for cannon, and aper- 
tures for musketry. Small bastions project at regular 
distances, and the gates are massive, and guarded by 
cannon. Considered as an Eastern fortification, it is 
highly respectable, but would be insufficient to resist 
modern tactics. From the height and solidity of the 
wall, the Birmans deem it impregnable, although a 
battery of half a dozen well-served cannon would effect 
a breach in a few hours. 

The southern face of the fort is washed, during the 
rainy season, by the waters of the lake. The houses of 
the city and suburbs extend along the bank as far as. 
the extreme point of land. The houses have in general 
but a mean appearance from the river : they are raised 
on piles, with pitched roofs. Few are built of brick 
and mortar, except those belonging to members of the 
royal family. Many are of wood, with tiled roofs: 
others are composed of mats and bamboos, covered in 
with shingles or thatch. The houses of the chief per- 
sons are surrounded with a wooden enclosure. On the 
ridge of the roofs are ranged earthen pots filled with 
water, which every citizen is compelled to provide in 
readiness against any conflagration. The religious 
buildings have a very splendid appearance, owing to 
the unbounded expenditure of gilding on the outside 
of the roofs, which must cost immense sums. The 
gold leaf used is exceedingly pure, and bears exposure 
to the air for a long time without injury. The size or 
glue used to make it adhere, called seesee, is prepared 
from the juice of the croton subiferum. 

On the further side of the lake, and opposite to 
the fort, stands the village of Tounzemahn, near 
which, in a tall grove of mango, palmyra, and 
cocoa-nut trees, a dwelling was prepared for the 
British embassy; and here all missions to the court 

BIRMAH. 211 

are detained until after their presentation to the 
Golden Feet.* " On entering the lake," says Col. 
Symes, " the number of boats that were moored, as 
in a harbour, to avoid the influence of the sweeping 
flood, the singularity of their construction, the height 
of the waters, which threaten inundation to the whole 
city, and the amphitheatre of lofty hills that nearly 
surrounded us, altogether presented a novel scene 
exceedingly interesting to a stranger." f* 

The population of Amarapura was estimated by 
Capt. Cox, in 1800, at 175,000 persons, and the houses 
at between 20,000 and 25,000; but in 1810, Captain 
Canning was of opinion, that it did not contain more 
than half that number, the entire city having 
recently been destroyed by fire. The city is divided 
into four subordinate jurisdictions, in each of which a 

* The usage of debarring an envoy or foreign minister from en- 
tering the capital previously to his first formal presentation, has 
long been the established practice of both the Birman and the 
Siamese courts. 

t The dwelling assigned to Colonel Symes was in a grove, behind 
which extended a smooth level plain, intersected by embankments 
enclosing plantations of rice. The spot was very little above the 
level of the lake, and the river, when it reached its utmost height, 
had encroached so much on the grove, as to excite the Colonel's 
apprehensions of inundation. " The cause of the swelling of the 
waters," he says, " was not apparent, as there had not fallen with 
us rain sufficient to produce the smallest alteration in the river. 
The Birmans, however, who knew the exact limit to which it would 
rise, laughed at our proposing to make arrangements for a sudden 
embarkation, and assured us, that within the memory of man, the 
floods had never surpassed a certain boundary." Nothing is more 
remarkable than this invariable regularity in those vast operations 
of nature to which these regions are indebted for their fertility, and 
to which it might have been expected that uncertainty must ine- 
vitably attach. In like manner the Nile, after a lapse of three and 
twenty centuries, still observes the same standard of sixteen cubits 
in its periodical rise, that was the point of plenty in the days of 

212 BIRMAH. 

raaywoon presides. This officer, who, in the provinces, 
has the powers of a viceroy, exercises in the metro- 
polis the functions of a mayor and recorder, holding 
both a civil and a criminal court of judicature; he 
acts also as a sheriff in all capital cases, being obliged 
to attend in person at the execution of the culprit. 
The power of life and death is vested in the monarch. 
The examinations taken by the maywoon are, in such 
cases, transmitted to the lotoo, or grand council, by 
whom, after further investigation, report is made to 
the king. Civil suits may also be transferred from 
the lower courts to the lotoo, but at a heavy expense. 
There are regular lawyers, who conduct causes and 
plead. Eight only are licensed to plead in the lotoo ; 
they are styled ameendozaan, and their usual fee is equal 
to about 16*. The government has moreover large 
profits on all suits that are brought into court. In 
fact, the advance which the Birmans have made in 
civilization, is most strikingly evirtced by the resem- 
blance which in these respects their legal and fiscal 
institutions bear to the enlightened system of European 

" In no country in the East," says Colonel Symes, 
" is the royal establishment arranged with more 
minute attention than in the Birmau court." Next 
in rank to the princes of the blood are the woongees, 
or chief ministers of state ; they are four in number, 
and form the grand council of state. They issue 
mandates to the maywoons or provincial viceroys, and 
control every department. To assist them in the 
administration of affairs, four woondocJcs are associ- 
ated with them, who sit in the lotoo in a deliberate 
capacity, but have no vote. Four attawoons, or 
privy-counsellors, seem to be a sort of check upon 
the woongees : they have the peculiar privilege, not 

BIRMAH. 213 

enjoyed even by the woongees themselves, of access 
to the emperor at all times. Besides these grand of- 
ficers of state, there are four chief secretaries, called 
seredojees, who have numerous screes (writers) under 
them; four nakhaanjees, who sit in the lotoo, and 
take notes of the proceedings; four sandohffaan, who 
regulate all ceremonials, introduce strangers of rank 
into the golden presence, and bear messages from the 
council to the emperor; nine sandozains, or readers, 
attached to the lotoo ; an assay woon, or paymaster- 
general ; a daywoon, or king's armour-bearer ; a 
chainjeewoon, or master of the elephants; together 
with woons, or pages of the queen's household, and of 
that of the prince royal. Each of the junior princes 
has also his distinct establishment. 

"In the Birman government, there are no here- 
ditary dignities or employments; all honours and 
offices, on the demise of the possessor, reverting to the 

" The tzaloe, or chain, is the badge of the order of 
nobility, of which there are different degrees, distin- 
guished by the number of strings or small chains that 
compose the ornament ; these strings are fastened by 
bosses where they unite ; three of open chain work is 
the lowest rank; three of neatly twisted wire is the 
next ; then of six, of nine, and of twelve. No subject 
is ever honoured with a higher degree than twelve : 
the king alone wears twenty-four. 

" It has already been noticed, that almost every 
article of use, as well as ornament, particularly in 
their dress, indicates the rank of the owner. The 
shape of the betel-box, which is carried by an attend- 
ant after a Birman of distinction wherever he goes, 
his ear-rings, cap of ceremony, horse furniture, even 

214 BIRMAH. 

the metal of which his spitting-pot and drinkiug-cup 
are made, (which, if of gold, denote him to be a man of 
high consideration,) all are indicative of the gradations 
of society; and woe be unto him that assumes the in- 
signia of a degree which is not his legitimate right ! * 

"The court dress of the Birman nobility is very 
becoming : it consists of a long robe, either of flowered 
satin or velvet, reaching to the ankles, with an open 
collar and loose sleeves; over this there is a scarf, or 
flowing mantle, that hangs from the shoulders; and 
on their heads they wear high caps made of velvet, 
either plain, or of silk embroidered with flowers of 
gold, according to the rank of the wearer, f Ear-rings 
are a part of male dress : persons of condition use 
tubes of gold about three inches long, and as thick as 
a large quill, expanding at one end like the mouth 
of a speaking-trumpet ; others wear a heavy mass of 
gold beaten into a plate, and rolled up : this lump of 
metal forms a large orifice in the lobe of the ear, and 

* This strict observance of the laws of etiquette regulates also 
their domestic architecture. In constructing houses, whether 
temporary or permanent, the rank of the occupant determines the 
form and number of stages of which the roof may be composed ; 
nor dares any subject assume a mode of structure to which he is 
not legally entitled : he would soon have his house pulled about 
his ears. Gradations of rank are indicated also by the chattdh or 
umbrella. That of the emperor is white with a deep fringe, 
adorned with gold lace and plates ; those of the princes of the blood 
are gilded, but without fringe ; those of the woongees are of the 
same shape as the imperial one, but red instead of white ; those of 
the tributary princes are yellow; those of the maywoons of pro- 
vinces, blue. Inferior officers have black umbrellas, but supported 
by very long shafts. Commoners use black umbrellas, with shafts 
of moderate length. 

t Three officers of high rank who visited Col. Symes, are de- 
scribed as having their caps ornamented with a wreath of gold 
leaves, not unlike the strawberry-leaves in a ducal coronet. 

BIRMAH. 215 

drags it down by the weight to the extent sometimes 
of two inches. The women, likewise, have their dis- 
tinguishing paraphernalia: their hair is tied in a 
bunch at the top of the head, and bound round with 
a fillet, the embroidery and ornaments of which ex- 
press their respective ranks, a short shift reaches 
to the pit of the stomach, is drawn tight by strings, 
and supports the bosom; over that is a loose jacket 
with close sleeves ; round their waist they roll a long 
piece of silk or cloth, which, reaching to their feet, 
and sometimes trailing on the ground, encircles them 
twice, and is then tucked in. When women of con- 
dition go abroad, they put on a silk sash, resembling 
a long shawl, which crosses the bosom, and is thrown 
over the shoulders, gracefully flowing on each side. 
The lowest class of females often wear only a> single 
garment, in the form of a sheet, which, wrapped round 
the body, and tucked in under the arm, crosses the 
breast, which it scarcely conceals, and descends to 
their ankles. Every woman, when walking, must shew 
great part of her leg, as what may be called the petti- 
coat is always open in front, instead of being closed by 
a seam. 

" Women, in full dress, stain the palms of their 
hands and their nails of a red colour, for which they 
use a vegetable juice, and strew on their bosoms powder 
of sandal-wood, or of a bark called suneka, with which 
some rub their faces. Men of rank wear, in common 
dress, a tight coat, with long sleeves made of muslin, 
or of extremely fine nankeen, which is manufactured 
in the country; also a silk wrapper that encircles the 
waist. The working class are usually naked to the 
middle; but in the cold season, a mantle or vest of 
European broad cloth is highly prized." 

The description given by Colonel Symes of his 

216 BIRMAH. 

formal presentation to the Lord of all Elephants, is 
highly curious and interesting. Owing, as it should 
seem, to unfavourable impressions respecting the rela- 
tive greatness and importance of the British empire, 
which he ascribes to foreign emissaries, and a hesi- 
tation on the part of the Birman emperor to recog- 
nise the governor-general of India in any higher cha- 
racter than that of a provincial governor, our envoy 
was at first treated with a parsimonious politeness 
bordering on contempt. At the first interview, the 
throne was vacant, his majesty not deigning to illu- 
minate them with the golden presence. At the same 
time, a studied exhibition was made of the pomp and 
dignity of the court. An elephant was sent to convey 
Colonel Syines from the landing place to the palace ; 
but Dr. Buchanan and Mr. Wood, who were attached 
to the mission, were provided only with horses. The 
procession was arranged with due formality. After 
proceeding a short way, they entered a wide and hand- 
some street, paved with brick. The houses, which 
were low, built of wood, and tiled, had evidently been 
afresh white-washed for the occasion, and were deco- 
rated with boughs and flowers. In front of each house 
projected a slight latticed railing of bamboo, over which 
were hung mats, forming a sort of covered balcony, 
every one of which was crowded with spectators, male 
and female. Boys sat on the tops of the houses, and 
the streets were so thronged as to leave only space 
sufficient for the procession to pass; but throughout 
this crowd there was no disturbance or noise. Every 
person, as the procession came in sight, squatted down, 
and remained in that respectful position till it had 
passed. The pagwaats, or constables, armed with long 
rods, drove back those who advanced too far, but 
without hurting any one. The distance from the 

BIRMAH. 217 

landing-place to the fort, the colonel supposes to be 
two miles. Within the fort are the dwellings of the 
official persons. They passed through a market sup- 
plied with rice, pulse, and other vegetables, but saw 
neither meat nor fish. At the distance of two short 
streets from the palace, they dismounted and pro- 
ceeded on foot to the rhoom> a lofty hall, raised four or 
five feet from the ground, and open on all sides, in the 
centre of a spacious area, about a hundred yards from 
the gate of the palace. On entering this saloon, they 
were required to put off their shoes, and to take their 
seats on the carpets spread for them, with their faces 
towards the palace gate, awaiting the arrival of the 
princes of the royal family. 

The prince of Pah-gahn, the junior in rank, though 
not in years, being born of a different mother, first made 
his appearance, mounted on the neck of a very fine ele- 
phant,* which he guided himself, while a servant be- 
hind screened him from the sun with a gilded cliattah. 
Fifty musketeers led the way; next came a number of 
halberdiers, carrying spears with gilded shafts and de- 
corated with gold tassels, followed by six or eight officers 
of his household, dressed in velvet robes, with em- 
broidered caps, and chains of gold depending from the 
left shoulder to the right side; these immediately pre- 

* Men of rank in Birmah always guide their own elephants, 
sitting on the neck in the same manner as the drivers do in India. 
Owing to this custom, they are unprovided with those commodious 
seats in which an Indian gentleman reposes at ease on the back of 
this noble beast while the guidance is intrusted to the attendant. 
Colonel Symes was placed in a large wicker basket, somewhat re- 
sembling the body of an open carriage, but smaller, without any 
seat, but carpeted, and fastened to the animal by iron chains passed 
round his body : the equipage was neither comfortable nor ele- 
gant. It is remarkable, that the drivers, instead of making the 
elephant kneel to receive his rider, guided him to a stage erected 
for the purpose of mounting. 

218 BIRMAH. 

ceded the prince's elephant; another body of spear- 
men, with his palanquin of state, closed the procession. 
On entering the gate, the prince gave to an attendant 
the polished iron hook with which he governed his 
elephant, as any thing that can be used as a weapon 
is not suffered to be brought within the precincts of 
the palace, even by the emperor's sons. Soon after, 
the prince of Tonghoo, the next in precedence, ap- 
peared, attended by a similar suite ; and then in suc- 
cession, the princes of Bassien and Prome. The Engy- 
Teekien, or heir-apparent, came last, just as the great 
drum that proclaims the hours, sounded twelve from 
a lofty tower near the palace. He was preceded by a 
body guard of infantry, of 4 or 500 men, armed with 
muskets, and uniformly clothed and accoutred. Next 
came a party of Cassay troopers, in their fanciful dress 
and high conical caps bending backwards. They 
were followed by twenty or thirty men with gilded 
wands. Then, after eighteen or twenty officers of rank 
with gilded helmets, came the civil officers of the 
household, wearing the tzaloe, or chain of nobility, 
over their robes, and in their caps of state. The prince 
now appeared, borne on men's shoulders, in a very rich 
palanquin, but without any canopy. On each side 
walked six Cassay astrologers of the brahminical sect, 
in white gowns and white caps studded with gold 
stars. Close behind, servants carried the prince's gold 
water-flaggon and an immense gold betel-box. Several 
elephants and led horses, with rich housings, came 
after; and lastly, inferior officers and a body of spear- 
men, with three companies of musketeers, one clothed 
in blue, another in red, and another in green, closed 
the procession. The utmost decorum and regularity 
were maintained; and if, Colonel Symes observes, the 
parade was less splendid than imperial Delhi could 

BIRMAH. 219 

exhibit in the days of Mogul magnificence, it was far 
more decorous than that of any court of Hindustan at 
the present day. The whole of these processions occu- 
pied two hours. 

Colonel Symes was now permitted to proceed to the 
lofoo, or grand hall of audience, where the court was 
assembled in all the pomp that Birmah could display. 
This magnificent hall was supported by seventy-seven 
pillars, disposed in eleven rows: the space between 
the pillars, Colonel S. judged to be about twelve 
feet, except the central row, which was wider. The 
roof of the building was composed of different stages, 
the highest in the centre. The row of pillars that 
supported the middle roof, was between thirty-five and 
forty feet in height ; the others gradually diminished 
towards the extremities of the building, and those 
which sustained the balcony were not more than twelve 
or fourteen feet high. At the further end of the hall, a 
high gilded lattice extended quite across the building : 
in its centre was a gilded door, elevated five or six 
feet from the floor, which, when open, displayed the 
throne. At the bottom of the lattice was a gilt balus- 
trade, in which were deposited the umbrellas and other 
insignia of state. The royal colour is white, and the 
umbrellas are of white silk bespangled with gold. 
Within this saloon were seated on their inverted legs, 
all the princes, woongees attawoons, officers of state, 
and principal nobility of the Birman empire. The 
space between the central pillars is always left open, 
that the Golden Eyes may not behold any persons but 
from choice. In a few minutes, eight Brahmins, dressed 
in uhite sacerdotal gowns, and silk caps of the same 
colour studded with gold, assembled round the foot of 
the throne, within the balustrade, and recited a long 
prayer in not unpleasing recitative ; this ceremony 

220 BIRMAH. 

lasted a quarter of an hour. When they had withdrawn, 
the letter from the governor-general was placed on a 
silver tray in front of the railing ; a reader then ad- 
vanced, and chanted what was understood to be a Bir- 
man translation of it, and proclaimed a list of the pre- 
sents for the emperor. Some questions were now put 
to the envoy by a nakhaanjee, as from his majesty, 
respecting the royal family of Great Britain and the 
state of England ; the officer withdrawing each time, 
to communicate the colonel's reply to the invisible 
sovereign.* A handsome dessert of sweetmeats, Chinese 
and Birman, including laepac or pickled tea-leaf and 
betel, was now served up in silver, china, and glass- 
ware. The gentlemen of the embassy tasted of a 
few, and found some of them very palatable. It was 
at length intimated, that there was no occasion for 
them to remain any longer; and after making three 
obeisances to the empty throne, they were reconducted 
to the saloon. Here they waited till the princes had 
taken their departure, the Engy-Teekien first, and the 
others according to their rank, and then returned to 
their dwelling on the island. 

At length, the unequivocal marks of disrespect 
which Col. Symes received, determined him on pre- 
ferring a temperate remonstrance. It had its designed 
effect, and his Birman majesty at length consented to 
receive the English gentlemen in the character of an 
imperial deputation. This time they were received 
with far more attention. Tea was served to them in 
the rhoom, and they were permitted to wear their 
shoes till they reached the inner enclosure that sepa- 

* No inquiry whatever was made respecting the governor-gene- 
ral, nor, in the colonel's subsequent conversations with the princes, 
was his name once mentioned ; but the woongees were anxious to 
draw from Mr. Wood the real extent of his authority. 

BIRMAH. 221 

rates the court of the lotoo from that of the royal 
palace, which no nobleman is allowed to tread with 
covered feet. The royal saloon of ceremony into which 
they were now ushered, was an open hall, supported 
by colonnades of pillars, twenty in length and four in 
depth. The basement of the throne, as in the lotoo, 
was alone visible : it was about five feet from the floor. 
Folding-doors screened the seat. The whole was 
richly gilded and carved. On each side extended a 
small gallery, enclosed with a gilded balustrade, a few 
feet in length, containing four umbrellas of state; and 
on two tables at the foot of the throne, were placed 
several large vessels of gold, of various forms. Imme- 
diately over the throne, a splendid piasath rose in 
seven stages above the roof of the building, crowned 
by a tee, from which issued a spiral rod. "We had 
been seated little more than a quarter of an hour," 
says the colonel, " when the folding-doors that con- 
cealed the seat, opened with a loud noise, and disco- 
vered his majesty* ascending a flight of steps that 
led up to the throne from the inner apartment. He 
advanced but slowly, and seemed not to possess the free 
use of his limbs, being obliged to support himself with 
his hands on the balustrade. I was informed, how- 
ever, that this appearance of weakness did not proceed 
from any bodily infirmity, but from the weight of the 
regal habiliments in which he was clad: and if what 
we were told was true, that he carried on his dress 
fifteen viss (upwards of fifty pounds avoirdupois) of 
gold, his difficulty of ascent is not surprising. On 
reaching the top, he stood for a minute, as though to 

* This was Minderajee-praw, who, "wearied with the fatigues 
of royalty, went up to amuse himself in the celestial regions," in 
1819, after a prosperous reign of thirty-seven years, and was suc- 
ceeded by his favourite grandson, the present emperor. 


take breath, and then sat down on an embroidered 
cushion with his legs inverted. His crown was a high 
conical cap, richly studded with precious stones ; his 
fingers were covered with rings; and in his dress he 
bore the appearance of a man cased in golden armour, 
while a gilded, or probably a golden wing on each 
shoulder, did not add much lightness to his figure. 
His looks denoted him to be between fifty and sixty 
years old, of a strong make, in stature rather beneath 
the middle height, with hard features, and of a dark 
complexion; yet, the expression of his countenance 
was not unpleasing, and seemed, I thought, to indicate 
an intelligent and inquiring mind. 

" On the first appearance of his majesty, all the 
courtiers bent their bodies, and held their hands joined 
in an attitude of supplication. Nothing further was 
required of us, than to lean a little forward, and to 
turn in our legs as much as we could, not any act 
being so unpolite or contrary to etiquette, as to pre- 
sent the soles of the feet towards the face of a digni- 
fied person. Four Brahmins, dressed in white caps and 
gowns, chanted the usual prayer at the foot of the 
throne: a nakhaan then advanced into the vacant 
space before the king, and recited in a musical cadence 
the name of each person who was to be introduced on 
that day, and of whose present, in the character of a 
suppliant, he entreated his majesty's acceptance. My 
offering consisted of two pieces of Benares gold bro- 
cade; Dr. Buchanan and Mr. Wood each presented 
one. When our names were mentioned, we were 
separately desired to take a few grains of rice in our 
hands, and, joining them, to bow to the king as low 
as we conveniently could, with which we immediately 
complied. When this ceremony was finished, the 
king uttered a few indistinct words, to convey, as I 

BIRMAI-I. 223 

was informed, an order for investing some persons pre- 
sent with the insignia of a certain degree of nobility : 
the imperial mandate was instantly proclaimed aloud 
by heralds in the court. His majesty remained only 
a few minutes longer, and during that time looked at 
us attentively, but did not honour us with any verbal 
notice, or speak at all, except to give the order before 
mentioned. When he rose to depart, he manifested 
the same signs of infirmity as on his entrance. After 
he had withdrawn, the folding-doors were closed, and 
the court broke up. 

" In descending, we took notice of two pieces of 
cannon, apparently nine-pounders, which were placed 
in the court, on either side of the stairs, to defend the 
entrance of the palace. Sheds protected them from the 
weather, and they were gilded all over. A royal car- 
riage was also in waiting, of curious workmanship, and 
ornamented with a royal spire: there was a pair of 
horses harnessed to it, whose trappings glistened in 
the sun." 

In the outer court, Col. Symes saw the immense 
piece of ordnance captured at Arracan: it had been 
gilded and placed beneath a roof of a dignified order.* 

Prior to this interview with the emperor, Col. 
Symes attended the levees of the Engy Teekien and 
the queen dowager. The etiquette observed in his visit 
to the prince, was much the same as in his presen- 
tation to the emperor. The saloon of audience was 
adorned with six rows of pillars, seven in a row; but 
there was neither gilding nor paint on them, such 
ornaments being strictly confined to the sovereign and 
the priesthood ; and the naked pillars gave a very rude 
appearance to the apartment. Four Brahmin priests 

See page 42. 


224 BIBMAH. 

chanted a prayer, that lasted a quarter of an hour; at 
the close of which, a window opened at the end of the 
saloon, and discovered the prince seated behind it, 
dressed in a habit that shone with gold, and with a 
pyramidal cap that glistened exceedingly. His head 
and shoulders alone were visible. He spoke not a 
word, and noticed no one, but sat erect and motionless 
like a pagod. A list of the presents was recited by a 
reader kneeling in front of the sofa ; and after about 
a quarter of an hour had elapsed in this dumb inter- 
view, the shutters were suddenly closed, and they 
saw him no more. Subsequently, however, the prince 
vouchsafed to honour Col. Symes with an. unceremo- 
nious reception, when, instead of merely exhibiting 
himself from a casement, he was seated on a richly 
ornamented couch, in a very simple costume : he wore 
a vest of white muslin, with a lower garment of silk, 
and his head was bound with an embroidered fillet. 
His manners on this occasion were frank and free from 
ostentation; he asked many frivolous questions, and 
endeavoured to amuse his visiter with the prattle of two 
sprightly children, his daughters. * 

The interview with Medaw-praw, the queen dowager, 
was far more interesting. An Asiatic princess holding 
a drawing-room, is no ordinary spectacle. This ve- 

* This prince, to whom Minderajee-praw is said to have been 
particularly attached, died before his father, in consequence of 
which, his son, at that time a boy, was declared heir to the throne. 
His claims, however, appear to have been contested by his uncles, 
and his accession was the signal for the execution of the Prince of 
Tonghoo, with his family and adherents. The Prince of Prome 
also, whose daughter he had married, was thrown into prison, 
where he died of his wounds shortly after. " The emissaries of 
the new king," writes Mr. Judson, (July 1819) " are searching in 
every direction for the adherents and proteges of his deceased 
uncles." He was crowned on the 2d of November following. 

BIRMAH. 22o 

nerable personage appears to have been held in the 
highest estimation. Her sister had been the wife of the 
famous Alom-praw, and her daughter being espoused 
to the reigning monarch, she stood in the double rela- 
tion of aunt and mother-in-law to Minderajee-praw. 
Her rank gave her precedence over all the sons of the 
emperor, except the heir-apparent. Col. Byrnes found 
her residing in a very handsome mansion, near the pa- 
lace. " We entered the enclosure," he says, " without 
any of the parade observed in our former visits. At the 
bottom of the stairs we put off our shoes, and ascended 
into a handsome hall, supported by several lofty pil- 
lars ; at the further end, a portion of the floor was ele- 
vated six or eight inches, and separated by a neat 
balustrade from the rest of the room; within this 
space, under a white canopy, was placed a large 
cushion of blue velvet fringed with gold, on a carpet 
covered with muslin. There was a numerous assem- 
blage of both sexes, but particularly women, sitting 
round the balustrade. As soon as we entered, a space 
was immediately vacated for us to occupy, in front of 
the door and opposite to the cushion. After we had 
been seated a few minutes, the old lady came forth 
from an inner apartment, and walked slowly towards 
the elevated seat, supported by two female servants, 
whilst another held up her train ; her long white hair 
hung loose upon her shoulders, but she wore neither 
covering nor ornament upon her head. Her dress, 
which was extremely fine, without being gaudy, be- 
came her advanced years and high dignity : it consisted 
of a long robe of white muslin, and over her shoulders 
was thrown a sash of gauze, embroidered with sprigs 
of gold. She advanced to where the cushion was 
placed, and took her seat on the carpet, supporting 
her head on her arm that rested on the pillow, whilst 

226 BIBMAH. 

the two female attendants, neatly dressed, kneeling, 
one on each side, fanned her with long gilded fans. 
Every person seemed to pay her profound respect, and 
when she entered, both men and women bent their 
bodies in the attitude of submission. I had brought, 
as a token of my veneration, a string of pearls and 
some fine muslin. The Sandphgaan announced the 
offering, and enumerated the articles with a loud voice, 
entreating, in my name, her gracious acceptance of 
them. She looked at the English gentlemen with 
earnestness, but seemed entirely to disregard the 
Chinese, although their dress was much more showy 
than ours. Her manner was on this occasion extremely 
complaisant, and she asked several questions, such as, 
what were our names ? how we were in health ? what 
were our ages ? On being informed, she obligingly said, 
she would pray that we might attain as great a longe- 
vity as herself; adding, that she had reached her 
seventy-second year. I did not perceive, amongst the 
numerous company that attended, any of the junior 
princes, or of the principal ministers, although there 
were several personages of distinction. After she had 
retired, a very handsome dessert was served up : the 
fruits and preserves were delicious: whatever China 
could yield, was united with the produce of their own 
country. Having tasted of various dishes, we withdrew 
without any ceremony." 

Rope-dancers, figure-dancers, musicians, tumblers, 
and masquerade performers, were in attendance both 
at the imperial palace and at the levees of the princes. 
The tumblers, however, appeared much inferior in 
agility to those of southern India. 

When Captain Cox repaired to Amarapura, the 
emperor, with all his court, was residing at Mhe- 
ghoon, a few miles higher up the river, where his 

BIRMAH. 227 

majesty was busily employed in erecting a magnificent 
pagoda. The city of Mheghoon was at this time 
merely " an assemblage of bamboo huts, with a few 
wooden houses, straggling along the western bank of 
the river for about two miles, under a range of high, 
barren hills." About the centre was a wooden pa- 
lace, externally of a mean appearance, a little beyond 
which was the site of the intended pagoda. His ma- 
jesty held his court in a large tent, about 300 feet in 
diameter, supported in the centre by a stout mast 
about sixty feet high, and the sides resting on an 
arcade of a hundred arches, of bamboo work, with 
wooden piers about fifteen feet high. " The throne, 
which came close to the outer edge of the tent, was an 
octagon of wood, like a large pulpit; each face was 
about ten feet ; the floor elevated about six feet above 
the level of the tent ; the sides open to the south and 
east, the west and north sides skreened by a curtain ; 
the floor was carpeted, and a raised bench, covered 
with velvet cushions laced with gold, was placed near 
the centre, a little advanced to the front. Below, 
within the circle of the tent, was a raised seat like a 
clerk's reading-desk, covered with green velvet, edged 
and trimmed with broad gold lace, with large red 
velvet cushions on it, trimmed in the same manner. 
To the right and left of the throne, on the ground, 
just within the arcade of the tent, were ranged twenty 
of the king's body-guard, in satin gowns trimmed 
with gold lace, with treble scolloped capes and cuffs, 
and gilt hats like Mambrino's helmet. Nearer the 
throne, to the right or west side, were seated in a line 
with the body-guards, six eunuchs of the palace, na- 
tive Mahommedans, in white jammas and coloured silk 
lungees, with white handkerchiefs round their heads. 
The princes of the blood, the chobwas (petty tributary 
o 2 

228 BIBMAH. 

princes), and all the courtiers of superior rank, were 
dressed in red velvet gowns, like that worn by the 
maywoon ; the caps of the princes and chobwas varying 
according to their rank, which is further denoted by 
the gold chains they wear. The inferior courtiers' 
dress and caps were made of satin trimmed with narrow 
gold lace, but in form the same as the viceroy's. 

" His majesty was dressed in white muslin with a 
gold border, and had on a crown, shaped something 
like a mitre, about fifteen inches in height. In his 
hand he had a Small chowrie, made of peacock's quills, 
with which he fanned away the flies. When seated, 
he asked in a clear and audible voice, which was the 
resident. The interview lasted about twenty minutes, 
during which the emperor made several inquiries re- 
specting the Europeans, and at length, addressing the 
viceroy, said, " The weather is very warm I must 
retire : take care of him." 

Mr. Burnet, who attended Capt. Cox, was subse- 
quently admitted to a still more familiar interview 
with his majesty in his retreat at Mheghoon. He 
found the king seated on a common mat on the floor 
of his bungalow, reclining on pillows covered with 
green velvet. He was dressed in an open jamma of 
white cloth, a common silk lunyee round his loins, his 
hair gathered into a knot on the crown of his head, 
without any handkerchief. The courtiers and Mr. 
Burnet were arranged on the same level, but on the 
bare bamboos. The king's grandson came in and took 
his seat at his majesty's left hand, on which Mindera- 
jee-praw embraced and kissed him. The daughter of 
the prince of Prome, the intended wife of the grand- 
son, seated herself on his right hand. Several of the 
emperor's daughters also came in, bowed to the ground, 
and then seated themselves opposite to his majesty. 

BIRMAH. 221) 

Mr. Burnet, though evidently noticed, was not spoken 
to by the emperor, whose mind was at this time wholly 
occupied with the changes which he meditated intro- 
ducing in the ecclesiastical system of the empire,* but 
which, it seems, he found it impracticable or impolitic 
to carry into effect. A few months after, the new regu- 
lations were repealed (it is said at the intercession of 
the queen), and the priesthood were again admitted to 
his favour 

* " Among the observations that were made by him on the 
subject, he said, that he feared too many resorted to a religious 
life from a love of indolence ; that he did not pretend to be learned 
in these matters himself, but, as the head of the religion of his 
dominions, it was his duty to see that those immediately intrusted 
with its rites were well informed ; and in consequence, he gave 
orders that candidates for the superiority of keoums should in 
future undergo a more strict examination. His courtiers main- 
tained a humble and profound silence, except when occasionally 
answering in the affirmative. It appears that his majesty is much 
dissatisfied with the present state of religion in his dominions, 
and meditates some great changes. He has found the priesthood 
in general miserably ignorant ; even his arch-priest cannot satisfy 
his doubts. He says, they read over their canonical books, when 
they first enter the monastic life, as a task imposed on school- 
boys ; and although they have no other employment to engage 
their attention, they never afterwards investigate or inquire into 
the mystical meaning of their rites ; so that they are totally unfit 
to instruct the people. Hence the various abuses that have crept 
into their religion ; the building of small pagodas, the use of beads, 
&c., all of which are cloaks for hypocrisy, and unauthorised by. the 
tenets of their ancient faith. These he means to forbid ; also the 
practice of the poonghees taking servants with them to carry the 
provisions they collect in the morning ; and to restrain the number 
of poonghees. These severe strictures and meditated reforms alarm 
his courtiers very much : they dare not remonstrate, and are afraid 
to obey." P. 231. It seems that Minderajee-praw was in no small 
degree under the influence of the Brahmin magi attached to his 
court. He wished to introduce an additional intercallary moon, in 
order to rectify die Birman calendar ; but the rhahaans resisted 
the innovation, and in the end prevailed. See As. Res. vol. vL 
p. 170. 

230 BIRMAH. 

Minderajee-praw was believed to be in heart hostile 
to the established religion, and his death was the sig- 
nal for renewed exertions on the part of the priests. 
" Since the decease of the old king," writes Mr. Jud- 
son, in 1819, "the people have been more engaged 
than ever in building pagodas, making sacred offerings, 
and performing the public duties of their religion." 
A persecuting spirit, instigated, by the rhahaans, be- 
gan at the same time to manifest itself against the 
estimable American missionaries stationed at Rangoon, 
which determined Mr. Judson and his colleague to go 
up to the new sovereign with their memorial.* They 
obtained without difficulty, through the good offices of 
the former viceroy of Rangoon, permission to behold 
the golden face. " The scene to which we were 
introduced," says Mr. Judson, " really surprised our 
expectation. The spacious extent of the hall, the 
number and magnitude of the pillars, the height of 
the dome, the whole completely covered with gold, 

* We have been unable to ascertain from any document the 
name of the reigning emperor ; a circumstance which will awaken 
no surprise when the Birman etiquette on this point is known. 
" Among the Hindus," says Dr. Buchanan, "it has never been 
customary to call any prince by his proper name. This custom has 
been communicated to the Birmans with such strength, that it is 
almost impossible to learn the name of any prince during his reign. 
His titles only can be lawfully mentioned ; and the law is enforced 
with such rigour, that Birmans even in Calcutta shudder when 
requested to mention his dreadful name." Asiat. Res. vol. vi. 
p. 264. In the letter addressed by Minderajee-praw to the governor- 
general (Sir John Shore), given by Col. Symes, no name occurs, 
but the imperial writer is designated as " the lord of earth and air, 
the monarch of extensive countries, the sovereign of the kingdoms 
of Sonahparinda, Tombadeva, Seawuttena, Zaniengnia, Soona- 
boomy, in the district of Hurry Mounza, in the country of Zemee, 
Hamaratta, Dzodinagara, &c. ; " moreover, master of the white, 
red, and mottled elephants; with a string of other pompous and 
unmeaning titles. By the way, no mention is made of the pro- 
prietorship of the white elephant. 

BIRMAH. 231 

presented a most grand and imposing spectacle. Very 
few were present, and these evidently great officers of 
state. We remained about five minutes, when every 
one put himself iiito the most respectful attitude, and 
Moung Yo whispered that his majesty had entered. 
We looked through the hall as far as the pillars would 
allow, and presently caught sight of this modern Aha- 
suerus. He came forward, unattended, in solitary 
grandeur, exhibiting the proud gait and majesty of an 
eastern monarch. His dress was rich, but not dis- 
tinctive; and he carried in his hand the gold-sheathed 
sword, which seems to have taken the place of the 
sceptre of ancient times. But it was his high aspect 
and commanding eye that chiefly rivetted our atten- 
tion. He strided on. Every head, excepting ours, 
was now in the dust. We remained kneeling, our 
hands folded, our eyes fixed on the monarch. When 
he drew near, we caught his attention : he stopped and 
partly turned towards us. * Who are these ? ' * The 
teachers, great king,' I replied. ' What ! you speak 
Birman? the priests that I heard of last night? 
when did you arrive ? are you teachers of religion ? 
are you like the Portuguese priest ? are you mar- 
ried ? why do you dress so ? ' These and some other 
similar questions we answered; when he seemed 
pleased with us, and sat down on an elevated seat, 
his hand resting ou the hilt of his sword, and his eyes 
intently fixed on us." 

Moung Zah, the prime minister of state, now read 
the petition, which stated, that the American teachers 
had come up to behold the golden face, and had reached 
the bottom of the golden feet, to ask permission to 
preach their religion in the Birman empire, and that 
those who were pleased with it, whether foreigners or 
natives, might not be molested by the officers of go- 

232 BIRMAH. 

vernment, this being the only favour they had to ask 
of the excellent king, the sovereign of land and sea. 
The emperor heard the petition, and stretched out his 
hand. Moung Zah crawled forward and presented it. 
His majesty began at the top, and deliberately read it 
through : he then handed it back without saying a 
word, and took the tract which had been prepared by 
the missionaries as a statement of their doctrines. He 
held it long enough to read the two first sentences, 
which asserted, " that there is one eternal God, who is 
independent of the incidents of mortality, and that, 
beside him, there is no god ; " he then, with an air 
of indifference or disdain, dasded it to the ground. 
Moung Yo, an officer of the viceroy, made an attempt 
to serve them by unfolding one of the volumes which 
composed their present a Bible in six volumes, co- 
vered with gold leaf, each volume enclosed in a rich 
wrapper : but his majesty took no notice. After a few 
moments, Moung Zah interpreted his imperial master's 
will in the following terms : " In regard to the objects 
of your petition, his majesty gives no order. In regard 
to your sacred books, his majesty has no use for them : 
take them away." Something was said respecting 
Mr. Colman's skill in medicine, upon which the em- 
peror once more opened his mouth and said, "Let 
them proceed to the residence of my physician, the 
Portuguese priest ; let him examine whether they can 
be useful to me in that line, and report accordingly." 
He then rose from his seat, strided on to the end of 
the hall, and there throwing himself down upon a 
cushion, lay listening to the music and gazing at the 
parade spread before him. The missionaries subse- 
quently learned from Moung Zah, that the policy of 
the Birman government, in regard to the toleration of 
any foreign religion, is precisely the same as that of 

BIRMAH. 233 

the Chinese; that there was no room to hope that any 
of the emperor's subjects who should embrace a reli- 
gion different from his own, would be exempt from 
punishment: and that, in presenting a petition to 
that effect, they had been guilty of an unpardonable 

This interview took place in January 1820. Cha- 
grined and disheartened, Mr. Judson returned to Ran- 
goon, and subsequently accompanied Mrs. Judson to 
Bengal, for the benefit of her health. In January 
1821, he resumed his duties at Rangoon, under some- 
what more favourable auspices. The viceroy had given 
unequivocal evidence of his disposition not to inter- 
fere, and had defeated the efforts of some of the native 
priests to injure Moung Shwa Gnoung, the most pro- 
minent among the converts. Towards the close of 
this year, Mr. J. was joined by Dr. Price, an American 
physician. In the mean time, it seems, the emperor 
had sometimes made inquiries respecting the Ameri- 
can teachers, in such a manner as to awaken a hope 
that another application might be more successful than 
the first had been ; and reports of Dr. Price's medical 
and chirurgical skill having reached the golden ears, 
an order was despatched from Amarapura, requiring 
his attendance at the palace. Accordingly, on the 
28th of August, 1822, Mr. Judson and Dr. Price, leav- 
ing the mission at Rangoon in charge of Mr. Hough, 
set out for the capital, which they reached on the 
27th of September following. They were favourably 
received by the emperor, f with whom, and some of his 

* Judson's Account, pp. 228 234. 

t When the missionaries were presented to the king this time 
(Sep. 27, 1822). Dr. Price was received very graciously; but, 
though Mr. Judson appeared before him almost every day, the 
emperor did not notice him till the 1st of October, when he thus 

234 BIRMAH. 

chief courtiers, conversations were several times held 
on the subject of Christianity. After spending about 
four months at Amarapura, Mr. Judson returned to 
Rangoon, to fetch his lady, while Dr. Price remained 
behind, having, it appears, gained ground considerably 
in the emperor's favour.* 

addressed him: "And you, in black, what are you? a medical 
man, too ?" " Not a medical man, but a teacher of religion, your 
majesty." The emperor then asked him if any persons had em- 
braced his religion ? to which Mr. Judson replied in the affirma- 
tive. No marks of displeasure were produced by this information, 
but the emperor asked Mr. Judson many questions on subjects of 
religion, geography, and astronomy. Mr. Judson remarks, in a 
letter dated November 22, of that year, that he is more cordially 
received as a minister of the Christian religion than he had ever 
anticipated, and that the disposition of the emperor and his most 
intimate associates appeared to be characterised by toleration and 
candour. It was believed that the emperor and other distin- 
guished natives had for some time been sceptical in relation to the 
superstitious theology of their own country, and that this state of 
mind had rendered them less hostile to principles subversive of 
the opinions generally held sacred by the Birmans. Mr. Judson 
supposes that the repulse which he met with on his former pre- 
sentation, was dictated as much by policy as by any other motive. 
The emperor had recently ascended the throne, and might fear to 
render the commencement of his reign unpopular by counte- 
nancing a new religion. " Besides, a distinguished nobleman, 
who is believed to be examining the truth of the Gospel revelation 
in a state of feeling bordering on anxious conviction, it is thought, 
that the princess, who directs the education of the heir-apparent, 
and who is a woman of superior endowments and great influence, 
is also impressed with the important facts made known in the 
Divine system." Miss. Reg. Jan. 1825, p. 48. 

* " Since Mr. Judson left me," writes Dr. Price, " the king has 
been more familiar than ever, manifesting a desire to make my 
solitude as comfortable as his favour can make it. His majesty 
exhibits an entire confidence, and admits me near his person. His 
counsellors are disposed to encourage every useful art. The king 
has given an order for granting me a building lot on the bank 
opposite Ava. The same privileges he promised to every American 
or Englishman. On a spot of ground, 245 cubits by 140 to 170, on 
the river directly opposite the palace, I have put up a bamboo 

BIRMAH. 235 

This unexpected turn of affairs changed the whole 
aspect of the Mission. No distinct promise to tolerate 
the Christian religion had, indeed, been given as yet 
by the monarch, but his affable manner awakened 
the sanguine expectation of ultimate success ; and 
the emperor's own brother, some time after Mr. 
Judson's return to Rangoon, wrote to him in affec- 
tionate terms, requesting his speedy return to Ava, 
and begging him to bring with him the sacred books.* 

On the 12th of December 1824, Mr. (now Dr.) and 
Mrs. Judson, embarked on the river for Ava, to which 
the court had removed. A foreign female had never 
yet been introduced at the Birman court, and much 
curiosity was excited by the expectation of her arrival. 
They arrived there after "a pleasant trip" of six 
weeks, and found that Dr. Price had taken a native wife. 
The war with England, unhappily, had somewhat 
soured the emperor's mind against foreigners, and 
Mr. Judson's reception at court was rather cool. But 
Mrs. Judson immediately commenced her benevolent 
plans by Opening a free school ; and in January, it 
already contained nine boys and seven girls. Since 
then, up to the last accounts, no intelligence had been 
received from them : but a sepoy who had escaped 
from Ava to the British head-quarters at Prome, 
stated, that all the Europeans at Ava were in chains, 
in prison, and wholly dependent on charity for subsist- 
ence ; that Mrs. Judson, however, was permitted to 
live at her own house, and was allowed to see Dr. 
Judson every two or three days.f Under few eastern 

house ; and as I have a royal order for as many bricks as I want, 
provided I take them immediately, I have thought it best to put 
up a brick house to accommodate one or two families." Miss. 
Reg. Jan. 1825, p. 48, 

Judson, p. 328. f Miss. Reg. Jan. 1826, p. 77. 


236 BIRMAH. 

despotisms would the life and liberty of an unprotected 
female, in such circumstances, have been so far re- 

Amarapura, to which Minderajee-Praw gave the 
proud title of the immortal city, is no longer the 
capital of Birmah. A new palace was being erected 
at Old Ava in February 1824, of which, as soon as 
completed, the emperor was expected to take pos- 
session in due form, and this city was to be the future 
residence of the court. Of the transitory nature of 
mundane grandeur, there cannot be a more striking 
illustration than a Birman capital, with its wooden 
houses and glittering pagodas. All the magnificence 
which once attached to New Ava has, probably, ere 
this, passed away. Colonel Symes describes several very 
handsome edifices. One of the most interesting was 
the Piedigaut-tiek, or royal library, a large brick 
building, raised on a terrace, at the north-west angle 
of the fort, close to a very handsome monastery. It 
consisted of one square room, with an enclosed veran- 
dah running round it. The room was locked, and 
could not be opened without a special order ; but the 
librarian assured Col. Symes that there was nothing in 
the inside different from what he saw in the verandah, 
where about a hundred large chests, curiously orna- 
mented with gilding and japan, were ranged against 
the wall. The books were regularly classed, and the 
contents of each chest were inscribed in gold letters on 
the lid. The librarian opened two, and shewed Co- 
lonel Symes some very beautiful writing on thin 
leaves of ivory, the margins ornamented with flowers 
of gold. Some were in the Pali language. " If all 
the other chests were as well filled as those that were 
submitted to our inspection," remarks the colonel, 
" his Birman majesty may probably possess a more 

BUIMAH. 237 

numerous library than any potentate from the banks 
of the Danube to the borders of China." 

The kioum-do-gee, or royal convent, is described as 
an edifice not less extraordinary from the style of its 
architecture, than from the magnificence of its deco- 
rations. " It was composed entirely of wood. The 
roofs, rising one above another in five distinct stories, 
diminished in size as they advanced in height, each roof 
being surmounted with a cornice curiously carved and 
richly gilded. The body of the building, elevated 
twelve feet from the ground, was supported on large 
timbers driven into the earth after the manner of 
piles, of which there were probably 150 to sustain the 
immense weight of the superstructure. The inside 
was most splendid. A gilded balustrade, fantastically 
carved into various shapes and figures, encompassed 
the outside of the platform. Within this, there was 
a wide gallery, that encompassed the entire circuit of 
the building. An inner railing opened into a noble 
hall, supported by colonnades of lofty pillars : the 
centre row was at least fifty feet high, and gilded from 
the summit to within four feet of the base, which was 
lackered red. In the middle of the hall there was a 
gilded partition of open latticed work, fifteen or twenty 
feet high, which divided it into two parts from N. to 
S. The space between the pillars varied from twelve 
to sixteen feet ; and the number, including those that 
supported the galleries, appeared not fewer than a 
hundred, which, as they approached the extremities, 
diminished in height, the outermost row not exceeding 
fifteen feet. 

" A marble image of Guadma, gilded, and sitting 
on a golden throne, was placed in the centre of the 
partition ; and in front of the idol, leaning against 
one of the pillars, we beheld the seredaw (or zarado) 

238 BIRMAH. 

sitting on a satin cushion, encompassed by a circle of 
rhahaans, from whom he could be no other ways 
distinguished, than by his preserving an erect position, 
while the others bent their bodies in an attitude of 
respect, with their hands joined in a supplicating 

On taking leave of the primate, Col. Symes pro- 
ceeded along a wide road leading to the northward, 
which soon brought him to an extensive plain, reach- 
ing in an uninterrupted level to the foot of a range of 
mountains ten or twelve miles distant. The soil is a 
poor clay, and the pasturage very indifferent. At a 
distance were seen some fields of grain ; and they were 
told, that capacious reservoirs had been constructed 
with great labour and expense, by order of the em- 
peror, in the vicinity of the mountains, which enabled 
the inhabitants of the low countries to irrigate the 
grounds, and render them productive in a season of 
drought. " Several kioums and villages were scat- 
tered over the plain; but," continues Col. S., " when 
we had advanced about two miles, the religious edi- 
fices increased beyond our power to calculate the 

" The first that we entered was called Knebany 
Kioum, or the kioum of immortality, from the centre 
of which rose a royal piasath to the height of 150 
feet: the roofs were of the customary structure, dimi- 
nishing in stories. This is the place where the em- 
balmed bodies of the deceased seredaws are laid in 
state. The building rests on a terrace of brick, and 
is not elevated on pillars as the kioums usually are. 
The hall was very handsome, about seventy feet 
square ; the roof sustained by thirty-six gilded pillars, 
the central one forty feet in height. Mats were 
spread in different parts for the repose of the rha- 

BIRMAH. 239 

haans, and on each was placed a hard pillow ; there 
v, as also a tray containing books on the duties of rha- 
haans, on religion, and the forms of worship. 

" The next kioum that we visited, was the ordinary 
residence of the seredaw : it far exceeded in size and 
splendour any that we had before seen, and is perhaps 
the most magnificent of its kind in the universe. It is 
constructed entirely of wood, and resembles, in the style 
of its structure and ornaments, that in which we had 
an interview with the seredaw, but is much more 
spacious and lofty. The numerous rows of pillars, 
some of them sixty feet high, were covered with bur- 
nished gilding; and the profuse expenditure of gilding, 
as well on parts exposed to the weather, as on the 
inside, cannot fail to impress a stranger with astonish- 
ment, although he may not approve of the taste with 
which it is disposed. This kioum was also divided by 
a partition. There was a small room on one side, 
made of gilded boards, which we were told was the 
bed-chamber of the seredaw. Mats were spread on 
the outside for the attendant rhahaans. The figure 
of Guadma was made of copper, and a European 
girandole of cut glass stood before his throne. 

" Leaving this building, we passed through many 
courts crowded with kioums and smaller temples. 
Several gigantic images of Rakuss, the Hindoo demon, 
half beast, half human, made of brass, were shewn as 
a part of the spoils of Arracan. From these we were 
conducted to a magnificent temple, which is erecting 
for the image of Guadma brought from the same 
country. The idol is made of polished brass, about ten 
feet high, and sitting in the usual posture, on a pe- 
destal within an arched recess ; the walls are gilded 
and adorned with bits of coloured mirrors disposed 
with much taste. Peculiar sanctity is ascribed to this 


image, and devotees resort from every part of tlie 
empire to adore the Arracan Guadraa. This temple, 
with its auxiliary buildings, promises to be the most 
elegant in the empire. The chounda, or place of re- 
ception for strangers coming from a distance to offer 
up their devotions, is also a beautiful specimen, of 
Birman architecture. It comprehends five long gal- 
leries separated by colonnades, each consisting of 
thirty-four pillars, or two hundred and four alto- 
gether: the two central rows are about twenty-five 
feet high, but the external ones do not exceed fourteen 
feet. They are painted of a deep crimson ground, 
enlivened by festoons of gold leaf encircling them in a 
very fanciful and pleasing manner. The ceiling is 
embellished with a profusion of carved work, executed 
with great labour and minuteness. The whole length 
is five hundred and seventy feet, and the breadth of 
each distinct gallery about twelve feet, the central one, 
as usual, being rather wider than the others. A low 
railing extends along the outer pillars, to prevent im- 
proper persons and dogs from defiling the place. It is 
built upon a terrace of brick, elevated three feet from 
the ground ; and the floor is made of chunam, a fine 
stucco composed of lime, pounded steatites, and oil, 
forming a hard and smooth surface that shines like 
marble. Our conductor informed us, that this edifice 
had been lately erected at the sole expense of the 
senior woonjee." 

The new pagoda wnich Minderajee-praw was erect- 
ing at Mheghoon in 1797, appears, from Captain Cox's 
description, to have been, at least in its design, one of 
the most singular and imposing edifices in this land of 
pagodas. It stands on a small natural mound, the 
sides of which have been cut down and faced with 
masonry, the terraces being left of the common soil, a 

BIHMAH. 241 

sandy loam mixed with shingle. The first terrace 
is about fifteen feet above the level of the river in 
the rainy season. " Immediately within the verge 
of the first terrace, on either side of the steps, are two 
colossal figures of lions, or rather sphinxes, couchant. 
They are of brick masonry, raised on pedestals of the 
same materials. The height of the figures is fifty- 
eight (Birman) cubits, and, with their pedestals, sixty 
cubits, or ninety-five English feet. The body and 
limbs are of proportionate magnitude. The eyes and 
teeth are of alabaster ;* the eye-ball is thirteen feet in 
circumference. Six terraces rise one above the other, 
their parapet walls equidistant, the faces of good brick 
masonry, with stone spouts, ornamented with sculp- 
tured alligators' heads, to carry off the water. On a 
seventh terrace stands the plinth of the pagoda. 
Within this plinth, a hollow chamber is left, forming 
a quadrangle of sixty-one feet, its depth eleven feet, and 
the walls are nearly thirteen feet thick. The interior 
of the chamber is plastered with white chunam, and 
decorated with painted flowers and pannelled compart- 
ments with trees and flower-pots in them. There are 
also rows of columns, twenty-nine inches square, and 
pilasters, to support the leaden beams and terrace with 
which the whole is to be covered when the dedicated 
treasures are deposited there ; with a number of 
quadrangular compartments, large and small, from 
ten feet to four feet five inches square, to contain 
them : the smaller ones are lined with plates of lead 
three fourths of an inch thick. The innermost quad- 
rangles are intended for the preservation of the trea- 
sures dedicated by his majesty, while the space around 
them is devoted to the oblations of his courtiers. Op- 
posite each of the smaller compartments, whose depth 

* The idol Guadma in the British Mi seum exhibits a specimen 
of the alabaster eye. 

242 BIRMAH. 

is equal to that of the larger ones, and which appeared 
like so many wells, were placed, on small Bengal carpets, 
little hollow temples, three feet square, with pyramidal 
roofs ornamented in the Birman style ; the interior 
frame being of painted wood, covered with thin plates 
of silver, alloyed to about fifty per cent standard ; in 
height, from the base to the pinnacle, seven feet ; the 
eaves ornamented with strings of red coral, about six 
beads in each, terminated with heart-shaped pieces of 
common window -glass. Round the solid part of the 
building and upon the terrace were arranged piles of 
leaden beams, about five inches square, and of sufficient 
length to cover .the respective chambers, with plates 
of lead of the same length, fourteen inches broad and 
three fourths of an inch thick, for the coverings ; and 
besides these, a number of slates of a schistous granite 
were arranged in readiness to cover the whole. We 
were told that there was another set of chambers of 
the same dimensions and structure, charged with trea- 
sure, below these : how true this is, I cannot pretend 
to determine. The invention of lining the chambers 
with lead for the preservation of the treasures, is an 
honour claimed by his present majesty, who has great 
skill in these matters. 

" The dedicated treasures were arranged on the 
platform of a bamboo shade, about seventy feet in 
length, and thirty broad ; they consisted of a great 
variety of Birman temples and kioums in miniature, 
covered with plates of fifty per cent, silver, and filled 
with little images of their idols, from three inches to a 
foot in height, of the same materials. Besides those 
in the temples, &c., there were -squadrons of others of 
the same kind and quality arranged on the floor ; also 
many which they said were of solid gold, but, on exa- 
mination, we found them less valuable; there were 
also two rows of about a dozen larger images of ala- 

BIRMAH. 243 

baster, from four to two feet in height, well gilded and 
burnished. Their cast of features and hair were pre- 
cisely that of the Abyssinian negroes.* There were 
also several flat caskets of gilt metal, said to contain 
gold and precious stones, several piles of bricks, slabs 
of coloured glass, white chattahs, and lastly, an appa- 
ratus for impregnating water with fixed air. On the 
opposite side, in another shade, was an idol in a port- 
able temple, with poles for four bearers, which, we 
were informed, were sufficient when its godship was 
hi good humour ; but when displeased, not all the 
power of the Binnan empire could move it. In a 
separate shade, in a moveable wooden house that tra- 
vels on wheels, is a print of the foot of Guadma on a 
slab of marble ; the impression is about three feet in 

A short time before Captain Cox visited Mheghoon, 
a silver mine had been discovered by a Chinese a little 
higher up, which was said to yield forty per cent, but 
he did not visit it. There are cliffs of a very tine 
limestone, of which he obtained specimens. -|- The 
hills on the western side of the river, which commence 
at Chagaing, terminate about sixteen miles above 

* Captain Cox remarked, that the four colossal gilded images of 
Ouadma standing on a lotos-dower in one of the principal pagodas 
at.Pah-gahn, have all the crisped hair. The priests pretend, that 
when Guadma assumed the religious habit, he cut off his hair with 
his sword, leaving it rugged or furrowed. " The features of a 
genuine Birman," Captain C. adds, " have a good deal of the Caffre 
cast." p. 416. 

i Near Chagaing also, Captain Cox noticed a white limestone 
marble. On some of the spars he found the stones variegated, 
black, blue, green, and red, mixed with silicious and quartzose 
pebbles and fragments; also those calcareous stalactites called in 
India couker. The whole range appears to be metalliferous. He 
met with nothing but iron ore ; but silver, copper, and lead, as- 
well as precious stones, are stated to have been obtained from dif- 
ferent parts. 

r 2 

244 BIRMAH. 

Mheghoon, where commences a high plain, lugged, 
and in general uncultivated, if not unsusceptible of 
cultivation. Only one considerable village occurs in 
the interval on the western bank. The eastern range 
of mountains continues to extend along the river as 
far as has hitherto been explored. Mr. Burnet, 
Capt. Cox's interpreter, ascended as high as Keoun. 
meoun, about forty-six miles above Amarapura. The 
course of the river is nearly north and south, with a 
very slight inclination from the east of north to S.W. 
by S. Monchaboo is about eight miles inland to the 
west of Keoun-meoun, in lat. 22 40' N., long. 96 20' E. 
To the N. of Menchaboo, there is reported to be a 
lake of very considerable extent, called Nandokando ; 
but no European has hitherto penetrated thus far into 
the interior. 

Of the northern and eastern extremities of Ava, 
scarcely any thing is known. The town of Bamoo, 
situated on the Irrawaddy, in lat. 24 N., long. 96 5& 
E., is only twenty miles from the Chinese frontier. 
Here, as in the days of Marco Polo, there is ajee, or 
mart, attended by the Chinese merchants. The go- 
vernor of the district, informed Col. Symes, that the 
road from the frontier to Manchegee or Yun-nan, 
lies over high mountains. He had been twice by this 
route to Pekin, and was upwards of three months 
performing the journey. During the last thirty days, 
he travelled in a boat on canals and rivers. 

Above Bamoo, still ascending the valley of the 
Trrawaddy, is the Bong district, reaching to Assam on 
the north, Yun-nan on the east, and Cassay on the 
west. The Bong mountains are inhabited by a wild 
tribe, called by the Cassayers, Koukies.* 

* For an account of this rude mountain tribe, who are all 
hunters and warriors, see Asiat. Res., vol. vii. p. 183. 

BIRMAH. 245 


CONSISTS for the most part of a long valley, about 
seventy miles in average breadth, and nearly 700 miles 
in length, divided through its whole extent by the 
Brahmapootra into nearly equal parts. It is situated 
principally between the 25th and 28th parallels of N. 
latitude, and between 94 and 99 of E. longitude, 
and contains probably an area of 60,000 square miles. 
It is known to be very thinly peopled, owing to the 
mcessant warfare carried on by the petty rajahs against 
each other. Seven-eighths of the country are said to 
be overgrown with jungle, though the soil is extremely 
fertile ; the climate is consequently most pestilential. 
Owing partly to this circumstance, every attempt to 
conquer this country had proved abortive, prior to the 
Birman invasion in 1817- Hossein Shah, nabob of 
Bengal, once attempted it, but the rainy season inter- 
cepted his supplies, and all his army perished. Ma- 
hommed Shah, Emperor of Hindostan, invaded Assam 
with 100,000 cavalry, and was never heard of more. 
The Emperor Aurungzeb was equally unsuccessful. His 
general, Mourzum Khan, penetrated as far as Gergong, 
the capital ; but, when the rains began, the Assa- 
mese came out from their hiding-places, and harassed 
the invaders, while sickness broke out, and the flower 
of the army perished. The rest endeavoured to escape 
along the narrow causeways which have been formed 
over the morasses, but few ever reached Bahar. After 
this expedition, the Mohammedans of Hindostan de- 
clared that Assam was inhabited only by infidels, hob- 
goblins, and devils. Yet, in spite of all obstacles, in 

* In 1801, the population was estimated at 493,000 souls. 

246 BlRMAH. 

1817, the Birrnan.s succeeded, under Minderajee-praw, 
in acquiring entire possession of the country. 

The general appearance of Assam is that of a num- 
ber of irregular, insulated hills, at short distances, 
clothed with trees and verdure to their very summits, 
while to the north and east, lofty mountains rise ab- 
ruptly, like a wall, to the height of from 5 to 6000 
feet above the adjacent plains. On the S.W., a less 
elevated range separates it from Sylhet, and, extend- 
ing southward through Cachar, forms the bold and 
lofty sweep of the Anou-pec-tou-miou. The western 
mountains, and part of those to the north, are inha- 
bited by a fierce race consisting of two tribes, the Abors 
and the Meshmees, of whom little is known. The 
latter extend down to the eastern hills, and mix with 
the Sing-fos. These formerly consisted of twelve 
tribes ; and about forty years ago, the poverty of their 
native soil, and the fertility of the plains of Assam, 
induced the Sing-fos to settle in the plains, which they 
cultivated by means of Assamese captrves, whom they 
carried off from the southward. At the commence- 
ment of the late campaign, there are supposed to have 
been about 15,000 of these Assamese vassals held in 
bondage : the greater part have been already liberated 
by the British.* In these Sing-fos, we may recognise 
a Birman tribe subjecting a native race of Carayns.-f 
From similar beginnings, doubtless, arose the empire 
of Ava. 

The mountainous country extending from Sylhet 
to the plains of Assam, and from about half way be- 
tween Laour and Doorgapore eastward to Cachar, is 
inhabited by the people called Cossyahs (or Cassayers), 

* Asiat. Journ., vol. xxi. p. 495. 

t In the word Sing, we have evidently the distinguishing appella- 
tion of the warrior caste. See p. 97- 

BlllMAH. 247 

but who are said to denominate themselves Khyee. 
They are described as a handsome, muscular race, 
active and martial ; they always go armed, in general 
with a bow and arrows, a long sword, and a large 
shield. Their language is said to differ entirely from 
that of the Garrows, Cacharrees, and other surrounding 
tribes, who speak various dialects of an original com- 
mon tongue ; and they are distinguished from them 
by their physiognomy, not having that peculiar con- 
formation of the eye-lid which forms the characteristic 
feature of those tribes, in common with the Indo-Chi- 
nese and Chinese nations. In religion, they are to a 
certain extent Hindoos : their laws of inheritance are 
similar to those of the Nairs, estates and governments 
descending to the sister's son. Their most powerful 
rajahs are those of Chyram, Sooloong, and Jyntah.* 
These Cassayers of the mountains, however, can hardly 
be the same race that are usually known under that 
name, inhabiting the district called Meckley, who in 
Bengal go. by the name of Muggaloos, but who are 
said to call themselves Moitay^ The Cassayers of 

* See Narrative of a Journey from Sylhet to Assam, by Mr. David 
Scott, Asiat. Journ., vol. xix. p. 259. 

j Cospoor is generally considered as the capital of Cachar, or 
Cosari, which is made to lie between Assam on the north, Tipperah 
and Sylhet on the west, and Cassay on the east and south ; but its 
dimensions, we are told, are uncertain. (See HAMILTON'S Gazetteer.) 
The fact appears to be, that Cachar, Cosari, Cassay, and Kathee, 
are the same word differently articulated. Cospoor (Caspura) is 
evidently the town of the Cassays, with which Cacharrees must be 
considered as synonymous. The true distinction is between the 
mountaineers (Khyee), and the equestrian tribes (Moi-tay). A 
water communication is said to exist between Cachar (Cassay) and 
Assam. In 1774, Oundaboo, the general of Shembuan, marched 
against the rajah of Cachar (Cospoor), whose country is described 
as to the N.W. of Munnipore. ' In his advance, he overcame 
Anoup Singh, prince of a country called Muggeloo, and advanced 
within three days' march of Cospoor. Here he was opposed by the 


Munnipora, to whom the Birmans are said to give 
the name of Kathee, are horsemen and gunsmiths, 
and, like the Assamese, people of the plains. Munni- 
pora (the town of jewels), situated, according to the 
maps, in lat. 24** 20' N., long. 94 30' E., appears to 
stand on one of the heads of the Kiayn-duem river, 
in the midst of a district liable to inundation in the 
rainy season.* It was captured by the Birmans in 
1774. An intercourse subsists between this town 
and Assam, and the road would seem to be passable 
at some periods for cavalry ; although our troops have 
found great difficulty in approaching it from Cachar. 
A few months, however, will clear up the uncertainty 
which at present hangs over the topography of these 

confederate rajahs of Cospoor and Gossain ; and his troops being 
attacked by the hill fever, his army was dispersed and destroyed." 
A second expedition was more successful, and the Cachar rajah 
averted the invasion, when the army had reached the pass of 
Inchamutty, by consenting to pay, besides a sum of money, an 
annual tribute of a maiden of the royal blood, and a tree with the 
roots bound in the native clay. Col. Symes, in 1795, witnessed the 
arrival at Amarapura of this degrading tribute. In like manner 
Xerxes demanded that the Greeks should prove their submission 
by sending to him earth and water in token of vassalage. 

* From April to December, the whole country is said to be one 
entire pool. Asiat. Journ., vol. xx. p. 484. 

t In 1794, the British detachment which went to Gergong, saw 
there a body of cavalry which had arrived from Munnipore. By 
what route they had reached Assam, does not appear to have been 
ascertained. According to the report of a Mr. Mathews, between 
Doodputly in Cachar and Munnipore, there are no fewer than 
seven distinct ranges of hills to be traversed ; and the pathway is 
described as leading, in some places, up rocks almost perpendicular. 
The first range, a continuation of the Garrows, is inhabited by the 
Nagahs, who are described as living in a state of rudeness bordering 
on savage life ; they are perfectly naked, dwell in small villages 
strongly stockaded, and subsist chiefly on swine's flesh, as the hiHs 
afford little soil susceptible of cultivation.~.<4iaf. Journ. , vol. xx. 


The vegetable and animal productions of Assam 
are nearly the same as those of Bengal, which country 
it resembles in its physical aspect and its multitude 
of rivers. In its mineral treasures, however, it is far 
richer, almost all the smaller streams being auriferous. 
In the number of its rivers it exceeds every other 
country of equal extent.* Including the Brahma- 
pootra and its two great branches, the Dehing and the 
Looichiel, sixty-one have been ascertained to exist, of 
which thirty-four flow from the northern, and twenty- 
four from the southern mountains. The latter are 
never rapid. The inundation commences from the 
northern rivers, filling both the Brahmapootra and 
the southern rivers, so that the water has no consider- 
able current till May or June. In May, the inunda- 
tions are usually at their height ; and on their subsid- 
ing, the most luxuriant vegetation bursts forth. The 
source of the Brahmapootra (or Burrampooter) has 
never yet been explored. Recent accounts, however, 
in contradiction to the received theory, place its pri- 
mary source not far from those of the Irrawaddy, 
which is represented as flowing down the opposite 
side of the same mountain to the plains of the Bor 
Khangty country, and running nearly south to Ava.-|- 

p. 484. In the vicinity of the Garrows (or Garudas), according to 
Dr. Leyden, there is a tribe called Hajin, who worship the tiger, 
and offer human flesh to their carnivorous idol. This ferocious 
race, as well as the Nagahs, seems to bear a resemblance to the 
Papuas and Haraforas of the Andaman Islands, Sumatra, and 
Borneo. See Dr. LEYDEN'S Dissertation .on the Indo-Chinese Na- 
tions. Asiat. Res., vol. x. pp. 217, 220, 2?2. 

* Many of these rivers are remarkable for their extremely sinuous 
course. The Dekrung, though it flows through a tract of only 
25 miles, has a winding course equal to 100 miles before it falls into 
the Brahmapootra. This river is particularly famous for the quality 
as well as quantity of its gold. 

t Aflat. Journ., vol. xxi. p. 491. 

250 B1RMAH. 

Other statements make the Irrawaddy communicate 
with a branch of the Brahmapootra. This would 
seem to sanction the old notion that prevailed when 
Count Buffon wrote, of " a lake Champe, giving rise 
to the two great rivers which water Assam and Pegu." 

The whole of Assam is now in full possession of the 
British. On the 1st of February, 1825, the fort of 
Rungpore, which commands the capital, surrendered 
to the British forces under Lieut. -col. Richards; and 
all the Birmans, in pursuance of the terms of capitu- 
lation, subsequently evacuated the Assamese territory. 

To the south of Bamoo, extending in fact along the 
western shores of the Thaluayn-meet, from where it 
enters Binnah from Yun-nan, to the city of Junsa- 
laen (Yun-saluain ?), on the frontiers of Martaban, is 
the mountainous region called Mrelap-shan. In these 
mountains are found the sapphire and ruby mines : 
they are stated to be also rich in the precious metals. 
The principal ruby mines are near the town of Momeit, 
in lat. 23, and at Mogouk-kiap-pyaya, some leagues 
further south. At Boduayn, a considerable place to 
the south-eastward of Momeit, not far from the Chi- 
nese frontier, are mines of gold and silver. They are 
chiefly worked by Chinese, under the crown. Exten- 
sive tracts in this quarter are covered with vast 
forests of the l&pac, or tea-tree. Great part of this 
district formerly belonged to the Chinese, and was 
wrested from them, in 1767, by Shembuan-praw.* 

* See p. 43. CoL Francklin says : " The whole produce of the 
ruby mines, (in which sapphires, topazes, emeralds, and garnets are 
found jumbled together,) does not amount to more than 30,000 
tecals per annum; at least, what are permitted to be sold, the most 
valuable being appropriated to the king, and locked up in his 
treasury. Mining, every where a dangerous speculation, is here 
particularly so : the Chinese and Shans are hi general the adven- 
turers." Neither Col. Symes nor Capt. Cox, however, saw any 

BIRMAH. 251 

Throughout this region of forests, various tribes of 
Carayns, nominally tributary to Birmah, maintain 
substantially their independence under their native 
chobwahs or chieftains. On the eastern side of the 
Thaluayn is the country of the Lowa-yayn and Yun- 
shan, formerly comprehended in Siam, into which no 
modern European traveller is known to have pene- 

It only remains briefly to notice the maritime 
province of 


AT the beginning of the seventeenth century, Ar- 
racan was the seat of a powerful monarchy, and the 
.Roman Catholics had established a mission in the 
capital. Towards the close of the last century, as 
stated in our historical sketch, it was annexed by con- 
quest to the Birman empire. In 1825, it yielded to 
the arms of the British. The capital is the only place, 
apparently, of much importance or interest ; and of 
this we are only able to give an imperfect description 
from the details furnished by the periodical press. 

" The city of Arracan presents a very peculiar ap- 

emeralds in Birmah. All precious stones go under the same name, 
being distinguished only as blue, violet, or yellow rubies. Taver- 
nier, speaking of the rubies of Pegu, says : " Among all the stones 
that are there found, you shall hardly see one of three or four carats 
that is absolutely clean, by reason that the king strictly enjoins his 
subjects not to export them out of his dominions ; besides that he 
keeps to himself all the clean stones that are found. So that I have 
got very considerably in my travels, by carrying rubies out of 
Europe into Asia; which makes me very much suspect the relation 
of Vincent Le Blanc, who reports that he saw in the king's palace 
rubies as big as eggs." Travels, part ii. b. 2, c. 16. Among the im- 
perial titles of Minderajee-praw, one was, Proprietor of all kinds of 
precious stones, of the mines of rabies, agate, gold, silver, amber. 

252 BIRMAH. 

pearance. It is built upon a plain, or it may be 
called a valley, about four miles in circumference, of a 
quadrangular form, and entirely surrounded with hills, 
some of which are 500 feet high. The plain itself is 
hard and rocky ; it is intersected by divers nullahs 
and streams, which occasionally join each other and 
fall into the river. Some of them rush with violence 
through chasms and fissures in the rock, and one flows 
directly through the city, which is thus divided into 
two parts, connected by means of strong and clumsy 
Avooden bridges. This stream ebbs and flows with the 
tide, and at high water, boats are able to navigate it. 
These nullahs are oif -shoots, as it were, of a stream 
which separates from the great river Mahatti, and 
traverses the plain in which the city stands. As the 
site of the city is thus pervaded by water, it is over- 
flowed during the rains ; consequently, the houses are 
raised upon piles, or strong posts of timber. These 
houses, or rather huts, are miserable structures, little 
more than four feet from the ground, composed of 
bamboos or timber, thatched with straw or mats, and 
only one story high. They are ranged with consi- 
derable regularity in streets : the principal street is on 
each side of the stream which runs through the city. 
The number of houses is nearly 19,000. Reckoning 
five persons to a house, the number of inhabitants in 
Arracan, before its capture by our troops, must have 
been about 95,000 ; and this estimate is said to be 
below the truth. Many of the houses (perhaps nearly 
half) are now unroofed or damaged, and some are 
burned. A considerable space was obliged to be cleared, 
to allow of commodious buildings for the accommoda- 
tion of oui' troops during the wet season. Although 
many of the inhabitants have returned, the native 
population of the city does not now exceed 20,000, a 

BIRMAH. 253 

large proportion of whom are priests, who were almost 
the only residents when our army entered the place, 
which presented a singular spectacle, from its marks 
of recent populousness, and its then stillness and 
aspect of desolation. 

" The most curious object within the city, is the 
ancient fort (the only building of durable materials 
in the place) which is surrounded with three quad- 
rangular concentric walls, each about twenty feet 
high, and of considerable thickness. They are formed 
of large stones, put together with great labour, and 
are evidently of some antiquity. Those parts which 
are decayed, have been repaired by pieces of timber 
being inserted in the interstices. The outer wall is 
partly natural, and of considerable extent. The inner 
space is the citadel, where resided the governor, the 
public officers, &c. ; and here also were situated the 
public granaries. The distance between the walls 
varies in different places ; sometimes being about 100 
feet, and sometimes not half so much. Upon the 
whole, this remnant of the power of the ancient king- 
dom of Arracan is highly deserving of attention. 

" The heights which surround the city are covered 
with pagodas, the gilded spires of which, shooting up 
from every pinnacle around, and glittering in the sun, 
contribute greatly to the singular and picturesque ap- 
pearance of the place. Upwards of sixty of these 
temples, the shapes of which are various, can be 
counted at once : each contains an image of Gaudama. 
Many of these buildings disclose subterranean pas- 
sages, which deserve exploring. The architecture of 
the temples in this country is curious. Although the 
style has no pretensions to real taste, it is not un- 
sightly ; and some of the porticoes of the better sort of 

254 BIRMAH. 

pagodas are handsome. There is a profusion of gild- 
ing and painting -in most of them : even marble is 
often covered with gold leaf. Sometimes a deception 
is practised, as in English architecture, where humble 
stucco assumes the character of a more costly material; 
wooden pillars are occasionally coated with a sort of 
composition or cement, which gives them the appear- 
ance of dark marble. Independently of the fort, the 
temples are the only stone or pucka buildings about 
Arracan ; and without them, this capital of an exten- 
sive province, once an independent state, would 
only deserve the name of a large but very beggarly 

The following paragraph is from the diary of Dr. 
Tytler, now in Arracan : 

" The Baboo Deeong is one of the most remarkable 
hills included within the boundaries of this extraordi- 
nary city. It is situated in a direction nearly due west 
from the entrance where the army gained admission, 
subsequently to the escalade which was so gallantly 
executed by the troops under the command of Briga- 
dier Richards; and is surmounted by four pagodas, 
dedicated to the worship of Gaudma, Saca-moonee, Si- 
moonee, Maha-moonee, or Buddha. Leading to those 
edifices are several flights of steps ascending the 
eastern face of the hill, which are ornamented with 
colossal figures of deformed giants, composed of brick- 
work, and plastered with chunam, of an uncouth 
shape, brandishing clubs in their hands ; and what is 
extremely remarkable, figures of the Egyptian sphinx 
present themselves close to the temples, and which are 
so constructed as to exhibit an acute triangle; two 
lions' bodies being conjoined to a single female head, 
placed at the sharp angle of the building. The Baboo 

BIRMAH. 255 

Deeong hill is about 100 feet in height, and is composed 
of strata of schistus : it is completely surrounded with 
water even when the tide is ebb. 

" Surrounding the outer wall of one of the principal 
and most ancient of the Arracan temples, is observed 
amongst the weeds and jungle, which in many places 
obscure those interesting relics, a series of very sur- 
prising mutilated sculptures, placed in interstices 
resembling embrasures, constructed in the ruined wall 
enclosing the court of the temple. Upon one of those 
stones is sculptured the Tauric man, or Bucephalus 
Siva, the Mithra of the Persians, or, in other words, 
the sun in Taurus. Another distinctly exhibits the 
Sphinx, consisting of the bust of a woman attached to 
the body and feet of a lion, or the solar luminary 
having passed Leo and entered Virgo. The dragon's 
head and tail, shewn in the headless volume of an im- 
mense snake's body, are conspicuous upon another 
stone in the series. Another contains a groupe appa- 
rently comprising the crow and Sagittarius, and repre- 
senting a man aiming with an arrow at an evident 
figure of a raven. Another exhibits a woman seem- 
ingly in the acf of striking a sleeping man with a stone ; 
which representation I take to form an allusion to 
the sun leaving Virgo, (under the figure of a man 
slain by a woman, and perhaps mixed up with a per- 
version of the historical fact of Jael and Sisera,) and 
entering Libra, the first of the lower or southern signs, 
and thus, slain by Virgo, or the woman, becoming 
dead and cold to the inhabitants of the northern hemi- 
sphere. I imagine the whole of the sculptures which 
are cut on both sides of those stones (a sort of dark, 
friable sandstone) to afford representations of the con- 
stellations, and thus to exhibit the remains of a very 
ancient and curious zodiac, differing totally, in some 

256 BIRMAH. 

respects, from any with which we are acquainted, and 
emitting a brilliant ray upon the antiquities of the 
western world ; for, between the hieroglyphics of Ava 
and Egypt, a striking analogy is particularly remarked 
by Symes, and every day's discoveries tend to confirm 
the fact."* 

" In point of magnitude," says a writer in The 
Scotsman in the East, " the monuments of Arracan 
are unequalled by any hitherto explored by me, and 
in some particulars differ essentially from the remains 
of former magnificence I have examined, either on the 
continent of India, or on the islands of the Eastern 
Archipelago. Similar to those of Java, they consist 
of octagonal temples, surrounded with bell-shaped fanes, 
but, unlike them, are less decorated with sculpture, 
and are distinguished by stupendous arches, vaults, 
and arched galleries, which, I had thought, existed 
only in the imagination of poets and novelists. There 
exist here the ruins of nearly three edifices, which 
consist of circular galleries, arches, and vaults, built 
of brick and stone, strong, cemented with mortar, and 
of the most massy construction. These subterraneous 
passages (for they consist of excavations in rocky 
masses of the hills) contain not fewer, probably, than ten 
thousand images of Buddha, varying in size from not 
less than fifteen or twenty feet high to an inch. Many 
of them are decapitated, which I attribute to the Mus- 
sulmans in their irruption into this province, as I 
have discovered a portion of an Arabic inscription near 
one of the entrances of the principal temple. In that 
extraordinary edifice, of which a portion is orna- 
mented with various sculptures, (among which we are 
enabled to discern the Ganesa Garuda and Nag Sing 

* Asiat. Journ., April 1826, p. 512. 

BIRMAI1. 257 

of Hindoo mythology,) is contained the sacred foot, 
consisting of a large slab of grey schist, about 3 feet 
10 inches long, and 3 feet broad, on which appears a 
rude representation of five mis-shapen toes and the 
side of a foot. Close behind this was a smaller, which 
I secured. These passages contain double, triple, and 
quadruple rows of fanes and niches, each containing a 
large figure of Buddha, accompanied with prodigious 
numbers of smaller dimensions. 

"Near the entrance is an inscription in ancient 
Deva-Nagri character, upon a large slab of sand-stone, 
the letters of which are remarkably distinct, and the 
writing legible throughout, so far as has yet been 
cleared. The square courts in front of these buildings 
exhibit numerous traces of tesselated pavements, or 
mosaic work, of brick and stone; and some of the 
temples contain metallic images of Buddha, so large 
that the nail of his finger, in one instance, measures 
upwards of half a foot! The metal of which these 
stupendous idols are composed, seems an alloy resem- 
bling the tutenaffue, or white copper, so commonly 
made use of in India. The bells in front of the pagoda 
are remarkably fine. One in particular is of immense 
size, and entirely covered with inscriptions in the 
Birman language."* 

Arracan is situated in lat. 20 40' N., long. 93 5' E. 
The city stands about two tides' journey from the sea, 
on the west side of the Arracan river, which here 
expands to a noble sheet of water, although it has 
but a short course, rising in the hills to the N.E. 
The harbour, however, cannot be approached without 
hazard during the south-west monsoon, on account of 

* Asiat. Journ., vol. xx. p. 695. The Rukheng is the more 
ancient and primitive dialect of the Birman, and the character is 
very similar. See Asiat. Res., vol. x, p. 222. 

258 BIRMAH. 

rocks and sands off its entrance. The climate has 
been reported to be salubrious, but the occupation of 
the city by the British troops was attended by a fright- 
ful mortality, and the stench of the forests after the 
rains have subsided, is described as most pestiferous.* 
Fowls of the finest breed, deer, and game of all kinds 
abound in the neighbourhood. Large herds of ele- 
phants inhabit the forests. The crops of grain appear 
to be abundant, if we may judge from the stores accu- 
mulated in the capital: about half a million maunds 
of paddy were found deposited in the fort of Arracan 
at the time of its capture by the British. The number 
of villages in Arracan Proper is about eighty. 

The principal exports are bees' wax and ivory, 
brought from the inland country; salt, produced on 
the coast ; rice, grown on the contiguous islands, which 
are highly fertile; small horses; lead, tin, and the 
precious metals. A considerable intercourse is carried 
on with the provinces of Bengal, especially Chitta- 
gong; and a general coasting- trade was maintained 
along this shore, during the north-west monsoon, from 
the ports of Henzawuddy and Martaban, to Chitta- 
gong, Dacca, and Calcutta. From forty to fifty boats 
of 500 maunds (of 80 Ibs.) each, were annually fitted 
out at Arracan by merchants from Amarapura and 

* According to a register published in the East India Gazette, 
the fall of rain at Arracan in the month of July, was nearly 60 
inches : in August it was rather more than 42%. A great deal had 
fallen previously in the months of April, May, and June. The 
rainy season in most parts of the tropics, yields from 100 to 115 
inches of water; at Bombay, 106 inches. In the West of England, 
the mean quantity of rain that falls annually, is only 57 inches. 
The greatest height of the thermometer in July was 89: in August, 
it rose to 94. The minimum in these months was 77. The weather 
in March also is usually very sultry, the thermometer frequently 
rising above 95 at noon, with a dry, hot wind, as at the com- 
mencement of the hot season in the upper provinces of India. 

BIRMAH. 259 

Chagaing, for the Bengal trade:* the cargo of each 
boat might amount to 4,000 rupees, chiefly in silver 
bullion. One half of them regularly returned laden 
with red betel-nut, chiefly from Luckipoor, where 
the merchants farmed the plantations of this article. 

The acquisition of Arracan must be considered as of 
immense importance. It gives us the undisputed pos- 
session of the whole coast of the Bay of Bengal, in- 
cluding a range of valuable harbours, and confers 
facilities for extending our commerce, which may be 
deemed alone sufficient to counterbalance the charges 
of the late war. 

The once powerful monarchies of Magadha, Pegu, 
and Assam, have passed away ; that of Siam is dwindled 
to the shadow of its ancient greatness; and now the 
Birman empire, which had swallowed up those rival 
states, and, like a mighty serpent gorged with its prey, 
was rendered powerless by its voracity, lies bleeding 
and dismembered. Deprived of the maritime pro- 
vinces of Arracan, Mergui, and Tavoy, the sovereign 
of Ava can no longer lay claim to the title of lord of 
the waters : and it matters little what becomes of the 
white elephant. Buddhism may be considered as 
having already received its death blow. In Ceylon, it 
is fast giving way before the progress of education and 
the exertions of the missionaries, and the sacred lan- 
guage has, for the first time, been made to speak the 
oracles of God. Buddhic priests have been transformed 
into Christian clergymen, and Birmah may hereafter 
be indebted to that island which she has long regarded 
as the mother-land of her laws, literature, and reli- 

* In the advance of the British forces to Prome, a large convoy 
of at least 400 bullocks, laden with commodities, was met proceed- 
ing to Arracan ; and a deputation was sent to inquire of the British 
commander, whether the road was open for them. 


260 BIBMAH. 

gion, for missionaries of a purer faith. In the mean- 
time, the results of the patient and exemplary labours 
of the American missionaries must not be lightly es- 
timated. As pioneers in the work of civilization, 
they have done incalculable service. The number of 
professed converts may be inconsiderable,* but it is 
evident that they have done much towards undermin- 
ing the prejudices of the natives, and wakening a 
spirit of intelligent inquiry among the higher orders. 
The impression of the superiority of the British in arts 
and arms, which our conquests cannot fail to produce, 
will not a little favour any attempts to impart to them 
the blessing of Christian instruction; while the more 
intimate commercial intercourse which promises to be 
carried on between British India and the Indo-Chinese 
nations, will inevitably lead to the most beneficial 
results. In Birmah, there is no intolerant sacerdotal 
caste to intercept the diffusion of knowledge; there, 
no shoodras are condemned to eternal mental bondage ; 
nor is woman there reduced to a cipher or a slave. 
The machinery of instruction seems ready prepared in 
the national institutions, and the zayats may here- 
after serve the same purpose as the Jewish synagogues 
in the Apostolic age. The costly war into which the 
British have been reluctantly forced, and which has 
shaken the Birman empire to its foundations, will, we 
doubt not, prove a benefit to that country, which it 
has laid open to the progress of knowledge and the 

* In 1825, the first native Christian Church established at Ran- 
goon, consisted of eighteen baptised converts. Mr. Hough had re- 
tired to Serampore, where he was engaged in superintending the 
printing of Dr. Judson's revised translation of the Gospel of St. 
Matthew in the Birman language. The Serampore missionaries, 
it seems, have already established stations in Arracan, which bids 
fair to be a most important sphere of exertion and channel of com- 
munication. Miss. Reg. Feb. 1826, p. 76. 

BIRMAH. 261 

spirit of enterprise; nor will an extension of the 
British territory and a crore of rupees be the only 
compensation gained by the dear-bought triumph of 
our arms. Its commercial and its moral results must 
be infinitely more important.* 

* While these sheets have been passing through the press, de- 
spatches have been received, announcing the ratification of a 
treaty of peace between the Honourable Company and the Bur- 
mese Government, of which the terms are to the following effect : 
" The four provinces of Arracan, and the provinces of Mergui, 
Tavoy, and Zea to be ceded in perpetuity to the Honourable Com- 
pany, and the Burmese Government engage to pay the Honour- 
able Company one crore of rupees by instalments. The provinces 
or kingdoms of Assam, Cachar, Zeatung (Sittong, Zeet-taung, 
Chitoung), and Munnipore, to be placed under princes to be named 
by the British Government. Residents, with an escort of fifty 
men, to be at each court. British ships to be admitted into Bur- 
mese ports, to land their cargoes free of duty, not to unship their 
rudders or land their guns. Burmese ships to have the same 
privilege in British ports. No persons to be molested for their 
opinions or conduct during the war. The Siamese nation to be 
included in the peace." Dated Jan. 3, 1826. 



S 1AM. 

[A kingdom lying between lat. 12 and 18 N M and long. 99 and 
104 E. ; bounded on the N. and W. by Birmah ; * on the E. by 
Cambodia and Anam ; on the S. by the Gulf of Siam.] 

THE kingdom of Siam ranked at one period, in wealth 
and importance, at the head of the Indo-Chinese 
states. Though considerably reduced in its geogra- 
phical limits, within the last fifty years by the en- 
croachments of the Birmans, it still extends over a 
vast and highly valuable tract of country, comprising 
the shores of the Gulf of Siam, and the grand valley of 
the Meinam. The name under which it is known, is 
said to be of Malay origin, and signifies black; an 
appellation probably derived from the colour of its rich 
alluvial soil.f The Siamese call themselves T'hay (or 
Tai), that is, Free-men or Franks. They are divided 

* The northern boundaries of Siam appear not to be ascertained. 
In Hamilton's Gazetteer, Siam is stated to lie principally between 
the parallels of 10 and 15; while Mr. Crawfurd makes it -extend 
as far southward as lat. 7, and its Malayan tributaries to 3. To 
the northward, he says, the extreme confines of the Siamese terri- 
tory extend, as far as could be learned, to lat. 25. Asiat. Jour. 
vol. xix. p. 12. The boundary of Siam Proper, however, has been 
understood to be a river that flows from the westward into the 
Meinam between lat. 17 and 18. 

t Plutarch informs us, that the priests of Isis called their coun- 
try Chemia, Black, (evidently the same word as Syama,) from its 
rich, black soil. And it will appear that this is not the only re- 
markable coincidence between the valley of Egypt and that of 
" the Siamese Nile." The Peguans pronounce the word Tsiam. 
Sayammay or Chiamay is probably derived from the same word. 

266 SI AM. 

into two distinct tribes ; the T'kay J'hay, or Great 
Tai, who inhabit the country between the Meinam 
and the Meikong, and the Thny Noe, or Little Tai, 
who, for the most part, inhabit the western bank of 
the Meinam, extending to the frontiers of Birmah, and 
who are at present the ruling race in Siam.* The for- 
mer are the more ancient race ; and they are the people 
once famous for their learning and the power of their 
empire. The records of their dynasty are supposed 
still to exist. The annals of the latter race are said to 
detail, with much minuteness and great exaggeration, 
the events which have happened in Siam and the 
adjacent states during the last 1000 years. They 
also, with less precision, go back 400 years earlier, to 
the building of the city Maha.Nakhon. Their astro- 
nomical era, however, is said to correspond to 
A.D. 638*f 


WARS with Pegu and usurpations of the throne 
constitute the only leading features of Siamese history 
subsequently to the discovery of the country. In 1568, 
Chaumigren, king of Pegu, invaded Siam, and after 
scenes of carnage, its monarch became his tributary. 
On his death in 1583, the king of Siam, as well as the 
kings of Ava and Tonghoo revolted ; and about 1600, 
after a series of desolating wars, succeeded in esta- 
blishing their independence.! Early in the seven- 

* Leyden. As. Res. vol. x. p. 241. 

t See p. 104. M. Malte Brun, without stating his authority, 
ssys, that their first king began his reign about A. D. 756. 

t "The Kingdom of Siam," says Le Blanc, "was subject to 
continual revolutions, till Bramaa, king of Pegu," (who is stated 
to have been the son of the conqueror Chaumigren,) " took occa- 

SIAM. 267 

teenth century, Rajah Hapi, or the black king, sub- 
dued the countries of Cambodia, Laos, Tenasserim, 
and several other states ; but these conquests were not 
long retained, owing to the civil wars which ensued. 
Chaw Naraya, who ascended the throne in 1657, dis- 
satisfied, as it would seem, with the conduct of his 
own priests, gave great encouragement to both Chris- 
tians and Mohammedans to settle in his kingdom. It 
was in his reign that a series of romantic adventures 
placed an Ionian Greek at the head of the administra- 
tion of an Indo-Chinese kingdom. 

Constantine Phalcon, a native of Cephalonia of a 
noble Venetian family, but reduced to poverty, being 
compelled to seek his fortune in foreign lands, came to 
England in the year 1660, where his talents soon re- 
commended him to employment. He was sent out to 
India, whence, having entered the service of a respect- 
able merchant of the name of White, he passed into 
Siam. He gradually acquired property sufficient to 
freight some ships, but disasters attended his course, 
and he was at length wrecked on the coast of Malabar, 
and lost every thing except about 2,000 crowns. Here, 
however, by one of those strange turns of fortune which 
sometimes make history read like fiction, he fell in with 
a fellow-sufferer, who proved to be no less important 
a personage than an ambassador from the king of Siam 
to the shah of Persia. Phalcon, being able to speak 
Siamese, offered his services to convey back the envoy 
to Siam, which were gladly accepted ; and the grateful 
noble recommended him so warmly to his master, that 

sion to besiege Odiaa" (Yuthia or Yoodra) ; "but leaving his life 
in the siege, his successor demolished the town, and obtained the 
white elephant. Since then, Siam hath revenged herself upon 

268 SIAM. 

the Greek soon became the favourite, and, in effect, 
the prime minister of the sovereign. 

Such was the state of things when, in 1685, a 
French embassy, attended by six Jesuits and a body 
of French soldiers, arrived at Bankok, the capital, to 
convert the king of Siam to the Christian faith, and 
lay the foundations of a Gallic-Indian empire. With 
the view of carrying into effect his ulterior designs, 
Phalcon had opened a trade with France; and under 
the pretext of protecting the navigation of the Gulf of 
Siam against the Dutch, he procured the introduction 
of a French garrison into the strong ports of Bankok 
and Mergui. He secured the warm support of the 
Jesuits by renouncing the Protestant for the Popish 
faith ; and so great was the ascendency he had ob- 
tained over the mind of Chaw Naraya, that, at his in- 
stigation, more than three hundred nobles were put to 
death, to clear the way for his ambitious plans. By 
these atrocious measures, Phalcon could not fail to 
render himself the object of universal hatred to the 
Siamese, who saw with indignation their seminaries 
filled with foreign teachers, and their cities with Euro- 
pean troops. A dangerousnllness which attacked the 
king at Lou-oo, his favourite hunting-seat, to the 
north of Yuthia, enabled them to mature their plans 
for ridding themselves of the foreigners. At the head 
of the conspiracy was a foster brother of Chaw Naraya's, 
named Oc-pra Pecherachas, or Pitrachas; an indivi- 
dual whose professed zeal for the national faith se- 
cured the attachment of all the talapoins or priests, 
and he is said to have been at the same time highly 
popular. Phalcon, having received intelligence of his 
designs, immediately sent orders to the French com- 
mander at Bankok to advance with a strong detach- 
ment to Lou-oo ; but, on reaching Yuthia, through 

SIAM. 2C9 

which it was necessary to pass, the French found the 
gates shut and the country in arms. Pitrachas was 
already in possession of the palace, and at the head of 
an army; and the wretched adventurer fell, without 
a struggle, into the hands of his enemy. After en- 
during dreadful tortures, he was beheaded. The 
adopted son and declared heir of Chaw Naraya was 
the next victim: he was put into a scarlet sack, and 
beaten to death with clubs of sandal wood.* The 
brothers of the king shared the same fate; and on the 
day following their execution, disease saved the usurper 
the additional crime of removing by violent means the 
unhappy monarch himself: he expired in the thirty- 
second year of his reign. 

The Jesuits and the French troops, it may easily be 
conceived, would not be very desirous to prolong their 
residence in a country where they had now neither 
allies nor protectors. They were glad to come to an 
arrangement, which provided for their undisturbed 
retreat and embarkation, but denounced, as the only 
alternative, the penalty of death. Thus were the 
crafty schemes of the French monarch rendered abor- 
tive, and, as M. Malte Brun expresses it, " the con- 
nexion with France was broken off."f 

This inhuman mode of execution was probably adopted to 
ave the shedding of royal blood. 

t There can be no doubt that the priests had a principal hand in 
this rebellion. A report had been spread, that the king had shewn 
a disposition to embrace the Christian religion. The Jesuits indeed 
state, that they had no ground to entertain such an expectation, 
and that Constantine had assured them, that such an idea was 
wholly out of the question. A speech, however, is attributed to 
him, in which he expressed his disbelief in the doctrine of me- 
tempsychosis, and his belief in one Eternal God. It is difficult to 
reconcile the representations made as to the enlightened and pa- 
triotic character of this prince, with the cruelties of which, at the 

270 3IAM. 

Pitrachas, when seated on the throne, is stated to 
have conducted himself with prudence and lenity. 
The reign of his successor was marked by two cala- 
mitous events. In 1717, he invaded Cambodia with an 
army of 50,000 men, half of whom perished for want 
of provisions; and some time after, a season of extra- 
ordinary drought, causing, probably, a failure of the 
annual inundation, led to a famine, by which Siam was 
to a great extent depopulated. This monarch died in 
1748, at an advanced age, and was succeeded by his son 
Chaw-Oual-Padou, in whose reign took place the first 
Birman invasion, under the famous Alom-praw. The 
death of that enterprising chief at that time saved the 
capital; but in 1767, Shembuan-praw took Yuthia by 
assault, and made the king of Siam his prisoner.* Pe- 
ya-tac, the son of a wealthy Chinese by a Siamese 
woman, who had risen from a humble office in the 
palace to be governor of the province of Muong-tac, 
having taken refuge in Chantibond, was soon in a 
condition to make head against the enemy; and he at 
length succeeded in expelling the Birmans from the 
valley of the Meinam. Having declared himself king, 
he removed the capital to Bankok, which he fortified, 
and where he built a palace, which is still to be seen. 
Every second or third year, he was involved in war 
with his restless and ambitious neighbours, the Bir- 
mans, whom he uniformly repulsed ; and he not only 
recovered all the former Siamese territories, but ex- 
tended them. Appreciating the superior industry of 
his countrymen, the Chinese, he granted them pecu- 

instigation of Constantino, he is said to have been guilty, and 
vrhich may be thought, after all, to have had as much share in 
producing the rebellion, as his supposed heterodoxy. 
See p. 30. 

SIAM. 271 

liar privileges, as an inducement to settle in his do- 
minions ; and they came in such swarms, that a third 
of the population of Siam is now said to be Chinese. 
Pe-ya-tac conducted himself for some time with ex- 
emplary moderation, and his memory is still honoured 
for his regard of justice. In the latter part of his 
reign, however, a sordid avarice took possession of his 
mind, and impelled him to the commission of several 
acts of cruelty. The natural consequence was a con- 
spiracy, headed by the father of the late monarch,* 
who, having put to death the tyrant, took possession 
of the undisputed throne. He died in 1782. 

The first public act of his son and successor was an 
inauspicious commencement of his reign. He was 
scarcely seated on the throne, when he put to death 
his nephew Chaw Pha, with upwards of a hundred 
nobles, who were supposed to be in his interest. The 
odium occasioned by this sanguinary proceeding, he 
contrived to avert by his subsequent good conduct ; but 
he was probably indebted, in no small degree, to inces- 
sant wars with the Birmans for the domestic tran- 
quillity of his reign. It is understood that, since 
Mr. Crawfurd's mission to Siam in 1821, he has been 
succeeded by his illegitimate son, Chroma Chit, who 
commenced his reign by allowing a general freedom of 
trade both to his subjects and foreigners, except in the 
articles of fire-arms, opium, and a few other royal 

As the greater part of our information respecting 
the present state of Siam is derived from the published 
accounts of the mission, from the Governor-general 
of India to the court of Bankok, in 1821, we shall now 

The monarch who was reigning in 1822, at the time of 
Mr. Crawfurd's mission. 


272 SIAM. 

proceed to give, in connexion with a narrative of that 
mission, a description of the capital.* 

On the 21st of November, 1821, the " Agent," Mr. 
Crawfurd, with the other gentlemen attached to the 
mission, (the object of which was to open a friendly 
intercourse for the purpose of trade between the two 
countries,) embarked at Calcutta, and on the 21st of 
March following, they cast anchor off the coast of 
Siam. They had to send for a pilot to Packnam,f a 
village at the mouth of the river ; and it was not till 
the 25th, that they attempted to cross the bar. They 
succeeded in clearing the sand-bank, but the ship stuck 
in a bar of mud, on which, at ebb tide, there are only 
six feet water. Towards evening, as the tide rose, 
the vessel got afloat again ; and after passing two or 
three short reaches, they cast anchor opposite to Pack- 
nam. At its mouth, the river, which forms an angle 
with the entrance to the harbour, is about a mile and 
half in breadth ; it diminishes to about three quarters 
of a mile at Packnam, but is very deep : the banks 
are low and wooded. At this village, near a Buddhic 
monastery, there is a battery consisting of ten or 
twelve iron guns, mounted on decayed carriages, half 
sunk into the earth, and unserviceable. The houses 
extend in a straggling line for several miles along the 
banks, and there are some handsome temples. As 
they ascended the river, the banks still continued very 
low, but, being thickly planted with the attap, they 
had rather a picturesque appearance. In the back- 

* See " The Mission to Siam and Hue. From the Journal of 
the late George Finlayson, Esq., Surgeon and Naturalist to the 
Mission. With a Memoir by Sir T. S. Raffles, F.R.S." London, 
1826. Also, Asiat. Jour., vol. xix. p. 12. 

t This word, of frequent occurrence in Siam as the name of a 
place, apparently signifies the mouth of a river. 

SIAM. 273 

ground, the betel-palm was seen growing in great 
abundance, it is supposed spontaneously. Besides 
these, the jungle consisted of various species of calamus, 
bamboo, and long grass. Further up, extensive plains 
opened to view, occupying the left bank of the river, 
now between eight and ten feet above the level of the 
stream. In the rainy season, these plains are covered 
by the inundation to the depth of two or three feet, 
and are therefore well adapted for the cultivation of 
rice. Between them and the river, there is a narrow 
strip of jungle, and small houses or huts, built on piles, 
are interspersed along the bank, amid extensive planta- 
tions of areca-palm and plantain, with a few cocoa-nut 
trees. The opposite bank is covered with jungle.* 
The banks are tolerably steep, with very deep water, 
from thirty to sixty feet near their edge; the mud 
stiff and plastic. At night they were molested by 

As they approached Bankok, the next morning, the 
river assumed a very lively aspect. Canoes and small 
covered boats were plying in all directions. " The 
market hour was now approaching, and all seemed 
life and activity. Here, one or more of the priests of 
Buddha were guiding their little canoe on its diurnal 
eleemosynary excursion : there, an old women hawked 
betel, plantains, or pumpkins. Here, you saw canoes 
laden with cocoa-nuts : there, groupes of natives were 
proceeding from house to house on their various occu- 
pations. But the most singular feature in the busy 
scene was the appearance of the houses, floating on 
the water, in rows about eight, ten, or more, in depth 
from the bank. This novel appearance was peculiarly 

Mr. Finlayson noticed here, the adjutant and several species 
of falco, a beautiful species of pigeon, and the blue jay of Bengal. 

274 SI AM. 

neat and striking. The houses were built of boards, of 
a neat oblong form, and towards the river were provided 
with a covered platform, on which were displayed 
numerous articles of merchandize, fruit, rice, meat, &c. 
This was, in fact, a floating bazar, in which all the 
various products of China and of the country were 
exposed for sale. At either end, the houses were 
bound to long bamboos driven into the river. They 
are thus enabled to move from place to place, accord- 
ing as convenience may demand. Every house is fur- 
nished with a small canoe, in which they visit and go 
from place to place to transact business. Almost all 
those collected in this quarter seem to be occupied by 
merchants, many of them very petty, no doubt, and 
by tradespeople, as shoemakers, tailors, &c. The 
latter occupations are followed almost exclusively by 
the Chinese. The houses are in general very small, 
consisting of a principle centre room, and one or two 
small ones, the centre being open in front, for the 
display of their wares. The houses are from twenty 
to thirty feet in length, and about half that space in 
breadth. They consist of a single stage, the floor 
raised above the water about a foot, and the roof 
thatched with palm-leaves. At low water, when the 
stream is rapid, there appears to be but little business 
done in these shops. Their proprietors are then to be 
seen lolling or sleeping in front of their warehouses, 
or otherwise enjoying themselves at their ease. At 
all hours of the day, however, many boats are passing 
and repassing. They are so light and sharp in their 
form, that they mount rapidly against the stream. 
They are rowed with paddles, of which the long canoes 
have often eight or ten on each side. The number of 
Chinese appears to be very considerable ; they display 
the same activity and industry here that they do 

SIAM. 275 

wherever they are to be found. Their boats are gene- 
rally larger, and rowed by longer paddles. They have 
a sort of cabin, made of basket-work, in the centre, 
which serves to contain their effects, and answers the 
purposes of a house. Many of them carry pieces of 
fresh pork up and down the river for sale." 


THE Mei-nam, at Bankok, is about a quarter of a 
mile in breadth, not including the space on each side 
occupied by floating houses; its depth, close to the 
bank, varies from six to ten fathoms; its current is 
about three miles an hour. It brings down a large 
volume of water, containing a considerable proportion 
of soft mud. The fort and palace of Pe-ya-tac are on 
the right bank of the river : they have a mean and 
paltry appearance. The palace of the present king is 
situated on the left bank, nearly opposite, upon a nar- 
row island between two or three miles .in length. 
" This palace, and indeed almost the whole island, is 
surrounded with a wall, in some places of considerable 
height, with indifferent-looking bastions here and 
there, and numerous gates. The persons attached to 
the court reside here in wretched huts made of palm- 
leaves. There is, in fact, but little distinction be- 
tween this place and other parts of the town, except 
that you see few Chinese there, and that the shops are 
of inferior quality. The greater part, however, of the 
space included by the wall, consists of waste ground, 
swamps, and fruit-gardens. 

" The city is continuous with the palace, extending 
on both sides of the river to the distance of three or 
four miles; but it lies principally on the left bank. 
The town is built entirely of wood; the palaces of the 

276 SIAM. 

king, the temples, and the houses of a few chiefs being 
alone constructed of brick or mud walls. From the 
great length which it occupies along the banks of the 
river, it might be supposed to be a place of vast extent; 
this, however, is not the case. The Siamese may be 
said to be aquatic in their disposition. The houses 
rarely extend more than one or two hundred yards 
from the bank of the river; and by far the greater 
number of them are floating on bamboo rafts, secured 
close to the bank. The houses that are not so floated, 
are built on posts driven into the mud, and raised 
above the bank; a precaution rendered necessary 
both by the diurnal tides and by the annual inunda- 
tion. To every house, whether floating or not, there 
is attached a boat, generally very small, for the use of 
the family. There is little travelling but what is per- 
formed by water; and hence the arms both of the 
women and the men acquire a large size from the con- 
stant habit of rowing. 

"The few streets that Bankok boasts, are passable 
on foot only in dry weather; the principal shops, 
however, and the most valuable merchandise, are 
found along the river in the floating houses, occupied 
almost exclusively by Chinese. The greatest unifor- 
mity prevails in the appearance of the houses. A 
handsome spire here and there serves to enliven 
the view^ and these are the only ornaments which 
can be said, to produce this effect, for the singular 
architecture displayed in the construction of the tem- 
ples and palaces, can hardly be considered in this 

" The floating-houses, like every other building in 
the place, consist of one floor only. The houses gene- 
rally have a neat appearance; they are, for the most 
part, thatched with palm-leaves, but sometimes with 

SIAM. 277 

tiles. They are divided into several small apartments, 
of which the Chinese always allot the central one for 
the reception of their household gods. The shops, 
forming one side of the house, being shut up at night, 
are converted into sleeping apartments. The whole 
is disposed with the greatest economy of space ; even 
the narrow verandahs in front, on which are usually 
disposed jars of water, pots with herbs and plants, 
bundles of firewood, &c. They have become so habi- 
tuated to this sort of aquatic life, as scarcely to expe- 
rience any inconvenience from it. The walls and 
floors of the houses are formed of boards ; and consi- 
dering the nature of the climate, such buildings afford 
very comfortable shelter. The houses of the common 
people are equally wretched in appearance with those 
of a common bazar in India. Those occupied by the 
Chinese are in general neater and more comfortable. 
The latter people are not only the principal merchants, 
but the only artificers in the place. The most com- 
mon trades are those of tinsmith, blacksmith, and 
currier. The manufacture of tin vessels is very con- 
siderable, and the utensils, being polished bright, and 
often of very handsome forms, give an air of extreme 
neatness to the shops in which they are displayed. 
Were it not for the very extraordinary junction of the 
trade of currier, such places might readily be mistaken 
for silversmiths' shops. 

"The palaces are buildings of inconsiderable size, 
in the Chinese style, covered with a diminishing series 
of three or four tiled roofs, sometimes terminated by 
a small spire; they are more remarkable for singularity 
than beauty. The palace of the king is covered with 
tin tiles. Many of the temples cover a large extent of 
ground : they are placed in the most elevated and best 

278 SIAM. 

situations, surrounded with brick walls or bamboo 
hedges, and the enclosure contains numerous rows of 
buildings, disposed in straight lines. They consist of 
one spacious and, in general, lofty hall, with narrow 
but numerous doors and windows. Both the exterior 
and interior are studded over with a profusion of mi- 
nute and singular ornaments of the most varied de- 
scription. It is on the ends, and not on the sides of 
the exterior of the building, that the greatest care has 
been bestowed in the disposition of the ornaments. 
A profusion of gilding, bits of looking-glass, China 
basins of various colours, stuck into the plaster, are 
amongst the most common materials. The floor of the 
temple is elevated several feet above the ground, and 
generally boarded or paved, and covered with coarse 
mats. The wildest stories of Hindoo theology figure 
on the walls. Sometimes, the painter's hand, by acci- 
dent, perhaps, more than design, has portrayed human 
passions with a degree of spirit and of truth worthy 
of better subjects.* At one end of the temple, a sort 
of altar is raised, on which is placed the principal 
figure of Buddha, surrounded by innumerable smaller 
ones, and by those of priests ; and here and there is 
disposed the figure of a deceased king, distinguished 
by his tall, conical cap, peculiar physiognomy, and 
rich costume. The figures of Buddha have a cast of 
the Tartar countenance, particularly the eye of that 
race. It will scarcely be credited how numerous are 
the images of Buddha in the temples. They are dis- 
posed with unsparing profusion on the altar, of all 
sizes, from one inch to thirty feet in height. In the 

* Here, for the first time, Mr. Finlayson observed obscene paint- 
ings in a temple dedicated to Buddha. ' ' In Ceylon, they would 
have been deemed altogether profane." 

si AM. 279 

outer courts of the temple, they are disposed in still 

greater number.* The expense in gilding alpne 

(for every image is gilt) must be great. 

" The arrangement observed in the Waat-thay- 
cham-ponn, may be given as an instance of what occurs 
in the rest. This consists of a number of temples, 
pra-cha-dis, and buildings allotted for the accommo- 
dation of priests, enclosed in an ample square, rather 
more than a quarter of a mile on each side. The 
principal temples are further surrounded by a piazza, 
open only towards the temple, and about twelve or 
fifteen feet in breadth, and well paved. Against the 
back wall, a stout platform of masonry extends round 
the temple, on which are placed gilded figures of 
Buddha, for the most part considerably larger than 
the human size, and so close to each other as to leave 
no vacant place on the platform. Of these statues, 
the greater number are made of cast iron; others are 
made of brass, others of wood or of clay, and all with 
careful uniformity. Several hundreds of such images 
are thus seen at one glance of the eye. In other and 
less spacious passages, minor figures, chiefly of clay or 
wood, are heaped together in endless numbers. They 
would appear to accumulate so fast, that it seems 
probable, the priests are at times reduced to the neces- 
sity of demolishing hosts of them. The apartments 
allotted for the accommodation of the priests are clean, 
neat, substantial, and comfortable, without ornament 
or superfluity. The pra-cha-di of this temple is the 
handsomest of the kind in Bankok, and is deserving 
of notice on account of its architectural beauty. 

"The pra-cha-di, f called, by the Buddhists of 

* See page 255. 

t Mr. Finlayson interprets this word, "the roof of the pra or 
lord." Sir Thomas Raffles suggests, that both in their character 

280 SIAM. 

Ceylon, dagoba, is a solid building of m-asonry, without 
aperture or inlet of any sort, however large it may be. 
It is generally built in the neighbourhood of some 
temple, but is not itself an object or a place of worship, 
being always distinct from the temple itself. In its 
origin, it would appear to have been sepulchral, and 
destined to commemorate either the death of Buddha, 
or his translation into heaven. Even at the present 
time, these ornamental buildings are thought to con- 
tain some relic of Buddha. This one in particular 
makes a light and handsome appearance: the lower 
part consists of a series of dodecahedral terraces, dimi- 
nishing gradually to nearly one half of the whole 
height, where they are succeeded by a handsome spire, 
fluted longitudinally, and ornamented with numerous 
circular mouldings. The minor ornaments are nume- 
rous, and towards the summit there is a small globe 
of glass. The total height would appear to be about 
250 feet from the ground. Minor edifices of this sort 
are common in every temple. They are in general 
raised upon a base of twelve sides, but sometimes of 

Mr. Finlayson describes a temple which they visited, 
at a short distance from the hall of audience, a pyra- 
midal structure, its point terminating in a slender 
spire about 200 feet high. The interior is a lofty 
chamber, nearly fifty feet square, paved with stones. 
In the centre were placed, on irregular stages, count- 
less images of Buddha, intermixed with bits of looking- 
glass, scraps of gilded paper, and Chinese paintings: 
the whole was surmounted with a figure of Buddha, 
about a foot and a half high, of some sort of stone, 

as a sepulchral shrine, and in their form, the pyramid and the 
dagoba seem to coincide. 

SI AM. 281 

Mr. Finlayson supposes, Chinese figure-stone, or helio- 
trope. There was nothing in the shape of an altar. 
The strangers were followed into the temple by a 
crowd of idlers, whose noisy indecorum shewed little 
reverence for the place. A paved arcade surrounds 
the temple, the walls of which are covered with rude 
paintings of subjects taken from the Ramayana. In 
the same enclosure there is a small handsome building, 
also of a pyramidal form, in which are deposited the 
royal collection of sacred books. A flight of steps 
leads to it, which, as well as the floor, is covered with 
plates of tin. The books, which appear to be not 
very numerous, are contained in a cabinet ornamented 
with small pieces of mother-of-pearl. At each of the 
principal gates of this enclosure, stand gigantic earthen 
images, of grotesque form, with clubs in their hands ; 
and at each angle of the temple, are brass figures of a 
nondescript animal, somewhat resembling a lion. Be- 
sides these, there are other figures of clay, paltry in 
appearance and absurd in design. Altogether, in the 
style of their architecture, sculpture, painting, and 
decoration, the Siamese appeared to Mr. Finlayson to 
be far behind the rude inhabitants of Ceylon. 

The description given of the royal levee, at which 
the Agent of the Governor-general was presented to 
his majesty of Siam, exhibits the same ceremonials, 
but on a far less magnificent scale, that are observed 
at the court of Ava.* The reception given to Mr. 

* The hall was lofty and about 60 feet in length, supported by 
wooden pillars, ten on each side, painted spirally red and dark 
green. The ceiling and walls were also painted with wreaths and 
festoons in various colours. Some small and paltry mirrors were 
disposed on the walls ; glass lustres and wall- shades were hung in 
the centre ; and to the middle of each pillar was attached a lantern, 
not much better than our stable lanterns. The floor was carpeted. 
A large and handsome cloth curtain, covered with tinsel or gold. 

282 SIAM. 

Cravvfurd was pointedly disrespectful. Indeed, it was 
afterwards distinctly intimated to him, that the mis- 
sion had been received by the king as a deputation 
from a provincial government. Unfortunately, this 
gentleman arrived hi the country totally unacquainted 
with the manners of the people and the etiquette of 
the court ; and he unwittingly laid himself open to 
this contemptuous treatment, by entering into nego- 
tiations with persons of no authority, and trusting to 
verbal communications carried on by means of a low 
and artful fellow, a Malay. With singular indiscre- 
tion, also, he gave up the Governor-general's letter to 
an officer of subordinate rank, and he submitted to be 
lodged in a species of out-house. No person of rank 
waited upon him ; and even the Portuguese consul 
excused himself, on the pretence that Mr. Crawfurd 
had not yet been presented at court; yet, he con- 
sented to visit the minister and Prince Chroma-chit, 
on which occasion his own interpreters were excluded. 
When at length they were admitted to an audience, 
his majesty appeared without his crown; a few only 
of the presents from the Gavernor-general were exhi- 
bited, and no notice whatever was taken of the letter 
of the noble marquess. On leaving the hall, they were 
compelled to retrace their steps barefoot through 
muddy paths ; and for a royal present, they each re- 
leaf, hung before the arched niche in which was placed the 
throne, raised about twelve feet above the floor. The appearance 
of the king strongly reminded Mr. Finlayson of an image of 
Buddha, and the breathless silence of the prostrate multitude cor- 
responded to the idea of religious worship. Indeed, Buddha him- 
self does not receive such reverential homage from his votaries. 
When the king rose to go, all the people raised a shout, and turn- 
ing on their knees, touched with both hands the earth and their 
forehead alternately. This shout of adoration recalls the abject 
adulation offered by the Tyrians to Herod, as recorded, Acts, 
xii. 22. 

SIAM. 283 

ceived a paltry Chinese umbrella, which might have 
been purchased in the bazar for a rupee. All this 
might have been expected from the known character 
and customs of the Indo-Chinese courts ; and indeed, 
the treatment which Col. Symes met with, and more 
especially Capt. Cox, at Amarapura, might have put 
Mr. Crawfurd upon his guard against degrading con- 
cessions in the first instance. A mercantile agent 
would naturally be looked upon in a very contemptuous 
light by these haughty courts, and by the Portuguese 
'and Malay traders with any but friendly feelings. 
Mr. Crawfurd's mission failed in every respect. They 
were received with coldness, treated with contempt, 
and dismissed with indifference. 

They had been at Bankok about a month, when it 
so happened that a Cochin- Chinese embassy arrived at 
Packnam ; and now, they had the mortification of 
beholding how the court of Siam was accustomed to 
receive the recognised representative of an equal state. 
Notice of his arrival having been transmitted to the 
court, the chief of Packnam was ordered to entertain 
the ambassador, while preparations were made for 
conducting him in due form to the capital. The fes- 
tivities lasted for several days, consisting of scenic 
representations, musical entertainments, and gym- 
nastic exercises. At the end of a week, all things 
being ready, he embarked with his train, and pro- 
ceeded by easy stages up the river. " The scene," 
says Mr. Finlayson, " was interesting beyond expec- 
tation ; it was both beautiful and picturesque. The 
rapidity with which the boats and barges moved, the 
order and regularity with which innumerable rowers 
raised and depressed their paddles, guided by the shrill 
notes of a song that might well be deemed barbarous, 
together with the singular and barbaric forms, the 

284 SI AM. 

brilliant colours, the gilded canopies of the boats, the 
strange and gaudy attire of the men, the loud and 
reiterated acclamations of innumerable spectators, 
gave to the transient scene an effect not easily de- 

" It was now, for the first time, that we had an 
opportunity of seeing those singular and highly-orna- 
mented royal barges which had attracted the attention 
of M. Chaumont and his suite, ambassador to Siam 
from the court of Louis XIV. The description given 
of them by LoubeVe, in his Histoire de Siam, will, with 
very little alteration, apply to those now in use. They 
are in general from sixty to eighty feet, or more, in 
length, about four in breadth, and raised about two 
feet in the middle from the water, the bow and stern 
rising boldly to a considerable height. They are 
highly ornamented with curious and not inelegant 
devices, all of which are neatly carved on the wood 
and gilt. The form is that of some monstrous or ima- 
ginary animal. In the centre there is erected a 
canopy, generally well gilt, and hung with silken cur- 
tains, or cloth interwoven with gold tissue. The 
space under the canopy is calculated to contain but 
one or two persons, the rest of the boat being entirely 
occupied by the rowers, often to the number of forty 
or fifty. 

" The procession moved in the following order : 
Four long boats in front, with numerous rowers, 
dressed in red jackets, and wearing tall conical caps 
of the same colour. These boats were covered with a 
light awning of mats. Six richly-ornamented boats, 
with gilded canopies, in the form of a dome, and 
richly carved. In these were the assistants and suite 
of the ambassador. Each boat carried two small brass 
swivels in front: the men were dressed as in the 

S1AM. 285 

former. About forty rowers were in each boat. A 
very handsome, richly-ornamented barge, with a gilt 
canopy of a conical shape, and rich curtains, in which 
was the ambassador, bearing the letter from the king 
of Cochin-China. Four or six boats similar to those 
in front. 

" In the course of a few days after his arrival at 
Bankok, he was admitted to an audience of the king, 
without going through those forms which had been 
pointed out as necessary to be observed by the Agent 
to the Governor-general. The Cochin- Chinese am- 
bassador neither visited the Prince Chroma-Chit, nor 
his deputy the Pra-Klang, Suri-Wong, before he had 
obtained an audience of the king. 

" The ambassador was carried to the palace by his 
own followers in a palanquin, preceded by a number 
of armed men. He got out of his vehicle at the inner 
gate, and walking up to the hall of audience without 
laying aside his shoes, took his seat in the place 
allotted to him, taking his own interpreter along with 

* M. de Chaumont, the ambassador from Louis XIV. in 1685, 
made still higher terms for the mission, insisting upon keeping on 
their shoes, contrary to all oriental etiquette, and also upon deli- 
vering the letter into the king's own hands, instead of entrusting it 
to one of the officers. The ambassador, having entered and found 
the king seated, made three bows in the course of his advance ; 
then began his speech, after two or three words of which, he put on 
his hat, and delivered the rest sitting and covered. He then rose 
to give the letter ; but it appeared to him that the king's position 
was much higher than had been stipulated, or than would admit of 
his delivering the letter without stretching his person in a manner 
unsuitable to his dignity. He therefore formed the bold resolution 
not to lift the letter higher than himself. Constantine, the mi- 
nister, who was lying on his hands and feet, implored him to raise 
his arm; but the ambassador was deaf; and at last the king, laugh- 
ing, stooped and took the gold box in which the letter was con- 
tained. He then conversed for about an hour with great affability 

286 SIAM. 

The chief pride of the court of Siam still consists in 
its elephants ; but a white elephant is no longer so 
great a rarity as to claim to be worshipped as a divine 
phenomenon, an object of contention between rival 
powers. Instead of one white elephant, and that an 
old and sorry one, which the French mission saw, 
attended by a hundred servants, his Siamese majesty 
now possesses no fewer than five. This, however, is 
regarded as a most singularly auspicious and extraor- 
dinary circumstance. A white elephant is still reck- 
oned above all value, and a subject can perform no 
service more gratifying to the monarch than that of 
securing one. All elephants, as in Birmah, are the 
sacred property of the crown. 

"The appellation white, however," says Mr. Fin- 
layson, "as applied to the elephant, must be received 
with some degree of limitation : the animal is in fact 
an occasional variety, of less frequent occurrence in- 
deed, but in every respect analogous to what occurs in 
other orders of animals, and, amongst the rest, in the 
human species. They are, correctly speaking, albinos, 
and are possessed of all the peculiarities of that ab- 
normal production; but of these white elephants, it 
was remarkable that the organ of sight was, to all 
appearance, natural and sound, in no' way intolerant 
of light, readily accommodating itself to the dif- 
ferent degrees of light and shade, and capable of 
being steadily directed to objects at the will of the 

and made many inquiries about the affairs of France. All the 
mandarins in the hall remained flat with their faces to the ground, 
so long as the king was present. In Siam, every man is doomed to 
crawl before his superior. The servant crawls before the master, 
the master before the grandee, the grandee before the prince ; and 
thus, the greatest men are doomed to take their turn of grovelling. 
In Siam, as in Birmah, it is unlawful to speak of the king by name, 
and wives never pronounce the names of their lords. 

SIAM. 287 

animal ; in short, similar in all respects to that of the 
common elephant, with the exception of the iris, which 
was of a pure white colour. In this respect, they 
resembled all the quadrupedal albinos that I had 
hitherto seen, as those among horses, cows, rabbits. 
This circumstance I should scarcely have thought worth 
the noticing, were it not that I shall have occasion to 
mention in the sequel an instance of an animal of the 
albino kind, possessed of the peculiar eye of the human 
albino. In one or two of the elephants, the colour 
was strictly white, and in all of them, the iris was of 
that colour, as well as the margins of the eye-lids; in 
the rest, the colour had a cast of pink in it. The hairs 
upon the body were for the most part yellowish, but 
much more scanty, finer, and shorter than in other 
elephants; the strong hairs of the tail were darker, 
but still of a yellowish colour. In none did the colour 
and texture of the skin appear entirely healthy. In 
some, the cuticular texture of the legs was intf rspersed 
with glandular knobs, which gave a deformed appear- 
ance to these members. In others, the skin of the 
body was uncommonly dry, while the natural wrinkles 
were unusually large, secreted an acrid-like fluid, and 
seemed ready to burst out into disease. These beasts 
were all of small size, but in excellent condition ; and 
one 1 of them was even handsome. They were treated 
with the greatest attention, each having several keepers 
attached to him. Fresh-cut grass was placed in abun- 
dance by their side; they stood on a small boarded 
platform, kept clean ; a white cloth was spread before 
them ; and while we were present, they were fed with 
sliced sugar-cane, and bunches of plantains.* 

* When the king of Pegu was at the zenith of his power, the 
undisputed Lord of the White Elephant, the sacred animals, we are 

288 SI AM. 

" In the same place we observed rather a fine- 
looking elephant, but a small one, which appeared to 
me to be a greater object of curiosity than any of the 
others. This animal was covered all over with black 
spots, about the size of a pea, upon a white base. It 
is not unusual to observe a partial degree of this 
spotted appearance in the elephant of Bengal, as on 
the forehead and trunk of the animal ; but in this in- 
stance, the skin was entirely covered with them. 

" The greatest regard is entertained in Siam for 
the white elephant. He who discovers one, is regarded 
as the most fortunate of mortals. The event is of 
that importance, that it may be said to constitute an 

told, were served in vessels of vermilion; musical instruments 
preceded their steps when they went forth to take exercise or to 
drink ; and when they came up from the stream, a royal attendant 
washed their feet in a golden basin ! In Hamilton's description 
of Hindostan, there is an account of the household establishment 
of the white elephant belonging to the Emperor of Birmah, which 
goes even beyond this in absurdity. The sacred animal had his 
regular cabinet, composed of a woongee, a woondock, a serogee, a 
nakhaan, and various subordinate officers. Presents of muslins, 
chintzes, and silks, were regularly made to him by all foreign 
ambassadors. His residence, it is said, "is contiguous to the 
royal palace, with which it is connected by a long, open gallery, 
supported by numerous wooden pillars, at the further end of which 
a curtain of black velvet, embossed with gold, conceals the august 
animal from the eyes of the vulgar ; and before this curtaui the 
offerings intended for him are displayed. His dwelling is a lofty 
hall, covered with splendid gilding both inside and out, and sup- 
ported by sixty-four pillars, half of which are elegantly gilded. 
To two of these his fore feet are fixed by silver chains, while his 
hind ones are secured by links of a baser material. His bed con- 
sists of a thick mattrass covered with blue cloth, over which ano- 
ther of a softer composition is spread, covered with crimson silk. 
His trappings are very magnificent, being gold, studded with large 
diamonds, pearls, sapphires, rubies, and other precious stones. 
His betel-box, spitting-basin, ankle-rings, and the vessel out of 
which he feeds, are likewise all of gold, inlaid with precious stones ; 
and his attendants and guards amount to one thousand persons." 

SIAM. 289 

era in the annals of the nation. The fortunate dis- 
coverer is rewarded with a crown of silver, and with a 
grant of land equal in extent to the space of country 
at which the elephant's cry may be heard. He and 
his family, to the third generation, are exempted from 
all sorts of servitude, and their land from taxation. 

" The next and only other animals that we saw 
here, are certainly of very rare occurrence, and objects 
of great curiosity. These were two white monkeys, 
perfect albinos in every respect. They are about the 
size of a small dog, furnished with a tail about as long 
as the body. They are thickly covered with fur, 
which is as white as snow, or that of the whitest rabbit. 
The lips, eyelids, and feet are distinguished by the in- 
animate whiteness of the skin noticed in the human 
albino; while the general appearance of the iris, the 
eye, and even the countenance, the intolerance of the 
light, the unsettled air they assumed, and the grimace 
they affected, afforded so many points of resemblance 
between them and that unhappy variety of our species, 
as rendered the sight disgusting and humiliating. One 
who had seen a perfect albino of the human species, 
would find it impossible to separate the impression of 
his appearance from that of the animals now before us. 
These had but little of the vivacity or mischievious 
disposition for which this tribe is so remarkable. All 
their movements, all their attitudes, had for their 
apparent object the lessening of the effect of light and 
glare, towards which they always turn their backs. 
Their eye-brows seemed pursed up and contracted, the 
pupils were of a light rose-colour, the irides of a very 
pale cast of blue. One was very old, and had but 
few teeth in his head. His lips were besides remark- 
ably thick, and apparently diseased. The other was 
much younger. 

290 SIAM. 

" It did not appear that they were held in any de- 
gree of veneration by the Siamese : we learned that 
they were placed here from superstitious motives, with 
the object, as they said, of preventing evil spirits from 
killing the white elephants.!'* 

There are no data which enable us to estimate the 
population of Bankok. At least one half are supposed 
to be Chinese; the remainder consist of Siamese, 
native Christians, f Birmans, Peguans, Malays, and 
Laos, probably the same people as the Tai-yay, or 
Northern Siamese. These different classes occupy 
distinct portions of the town, and associate only with 
their countrymen. The population of the kingdom of 
Siam was computed, in 1750, to amount to something 
short of two millions of adults, which would give a 
population of between three and four millions; but 
no dependence can be placed on the estimate. Since 
then, Siam has been deprived of a very large and im- 
portant portion of territory. On the other hand, the 

* About two years before, the king was stated to have had in 
his possession, an albino of the deer kind; and albinos among 
buffaloes are, Mr. Finlayson says, not uncommon in Siam or in the 
Malay Islands. " How far the habit is developed by peculiarity 
of climate, it is difficult to determine. The geographical limits 
within which this variety occurs with unwonted frequency, are 
not very extensive." All the elephants which he saw here, were 
smaller than the Ceylon elephant, but of handsomer shape; their 
tusks were also shorter, and less curved. The royal tiger is very 
commonly to be met with in the interior ; the black tiger is by no 
means rare ; and the leopard is common. The bones of the tiger, 
to which medical virtues are ascribed, are, as well as skins, a 
considerable article of trade with China. 

t Chiefly the descendants of Portuguese settlers, a degraded and 
despised class, who are found throughout the coasts of Hindostan 
and Indo-China; but who, as interpreters, form a valuable link of 
communication. They speak Portuguese, in general, with ease 
and fluency, and may be considered as forming a caste or nation 
almost as distinct as the Armenians or Jews. 

SIAM. 291 

eastern province of Chantibond, acquired from Cam- 
bodia, is supposed to contain nearly a million ; but 
others reckon it under half that number. 

Before we take leave of the capital, we shall gather 
up a few additional scattered notices relating to the 
national customs and physical character. 


MR. FINLAYSON describes the Siamese physio- 
gnomy as characterised by a remarkably large face, 
the forehead very broad, prominent on each side, and 
the hairy scalp descending unusually low, so as to 
cover in some the whole of the temples ; the cheek- 
bones are large, wide, and prominent; but the most 
remarkable peculiarity is the extraordinary size of the 
back part of the lower jaw, which has almost the effect, 
on a careless inspection, of a swelling of the parotid 
gland. A similar appearance is often observable in Ma- 
lays. The eyes are small and oblique; the mouth is 
large ; the lips thick ; the beard scanty ; the hair thick, 
coarse, lank, and uniformly black, and both sexes wear 
it cut so short behind, as only to reach the tops of the 
ears, but leave a short tuft on the head, which they 
comb backward. The people generally go naked 
from the waist upwards, sometimes throwing a piece 
of cloth over the shoulders. The younger women 
fasten a short piece of cloth round the chest, leaving 
the shoulders and arms bare. From the loins to the 
knee, they wrap round them a piece of coloured cloth, 
generally blue, over which the better sort wear a piece 
of Chinese crape, or a shawl. Both the head and the 
feet are generally bare. Those who use papouches, or 
slippers, invariably lay them aside on entering their 
dwellings, and never wear them in the presence of 

292 SI AM. 

their superiors or of the priests. The mandarins wear, 
besides the loin-cloth, (called by the Portuguese payne, 
from the Latin pannus,} which is generally black, a 
muslin shirt or vest, and, on days of ceremony, a high 
conical cap, somewhat resembling the king's ; only that 
his is encircled with jewellery, while their respective 
rank is indicated by circles of gold, silver, or ver- 

" The skin of the Siamese is of a lighter colour than 
in the generality of Asiatics to the west of the Ganges, 
by far the greater number being of a yellow com- 
plexion; a colour which, in the higher ranks, and 
particularly among women and children, they take 
pleasure in heightening by the use of a bright yel- 
low wash or cosmetic, so that their bodies are often 
rendered of a golden colour. The texture of the skin 
is remarkably smooth, soft, and shining."* 

The Siamese women are represented by M. LoubeYe 
as both cleanly and modest. They are fond to excess 
of the bath, using it repeatedly in the twenty-four 
hours, and they are generally excellent swimmers, but 
they never lay aside the pagne. They never make a 
visit of ceremony without a previous ablution. They 
use perfumes, and apply a paste to their lips, which 
increases their natural pallidness, in order, it may be 
presumed, to set off their blackened teeth. 

The food of the Siamese consists chiefly of rice, 
which is eaten with a substance called balachonff, " a 
strange compound of things savoury and loathsome, 
but in such general use, that no one thinks of eating 
without some portion of it." The religion, as in the 

* This fondness for a golden complexion is not peculiar to the 
Indo-Chinese. Van Egmont tells us, that the Greek ladies at 
Smyrna, on high occasions, used to gild their faces, which was 
considered as rendering them irresistibly charming. 

SI AM. 293 

case of the Birmans, does not restrain them from 
animal food, provided that they are guiltless of having 
killed the animal. They are more choice in their 
food, however, and less indulgent of their appetites, 
than the Chinese inhabitants, who are described as 

Indolence is one of the most prominent traits in the 
character of the Siamese, and the ease with which they 
can procure the necessaries of life, contributes to foster 
this habit.* Their chief amusement is gambling, of 
which they are immoderately fond; they will even 
stake their wives and children. Both priests and 
laymen may often be seen squatted on the pavement 
of a pagoda, playing at chess or some game of chance, 
before the very shrine of the idol. They are also ex- 
cessively addicted to smoking. They are very fond of 
dramatic representations, founded chiefly on the ex- 
ploits of fabulous and mythological personages, and 
have the credit of being the best performers among 
the Indo-Chinese nations. Bull-races, cock-fights, 
and battles of wild beasts, wrestling, rope-dancing, 
and fire-works, are also enumerated among the na- 
tional amusements. The Siamese are moreover a very 

* M. Loubere draws the following portrait of a Siamese life : 
' ' When the six months' service to the king is expired, it belongs 
to their wife or mother to maintain them. They apply to no 
business, as they practice no particular profession. A Siamese 
works not but for the prince ; he neither walks nor hunts ; in 
short, he does nothing but sit or lie, eating, playing, smoking, and 
sleeping. His wife will wake him at seven in the morning, and 
serve him with rice and fish ; he will fall asleep hereupon, and at 
noon he will eat again ; and will sup at the end of the day. Be- 
tween these two last meals will be his day : conversation or play 
consumes the rest. The women plough, and sell and buy. Not- 
withstanding this unequal yoke on the female sex," he adds, " the 
Siamese love their wives and children exceedingly, and it appears 
that they are greatly beloved by them." P. 50. 

294 SIAM. 

musical people. " Even persons of rank," says Mr. 
Finlayson, " think it no disparagement to acquire a 
proficiency in the art. Their music is for the most 
part extremely lively, and more pleasing to the ear of 
a European, than the want of proficiency in the more 
useful arts of civilised life would lead him to expect of 
such a nation. Whence this proficiency has arisen, 
it may be somewhat difficult to explain; more especially 
as the character of their music partakes but little of 
that eccentricity of genius and apparent, heaviness of 
mind and imagination, for which they are, in other 
respects, so remarkable. We have no means of ascer- 
taining what is of domestic origin, or how much they 
may be indebted to foreign intercourse for the im- 
provement of their music. On inquiry, we were told 
that the principal instruments were of Birman, Peguan, 
or Chinese origin, and that much of the music had 
been borrowed from the two first-mentioned nations, 
particularly from Pegu. " It is somewhat singular that 
these nations consider the Siamese as superior in mu- 
sical skill, and attribute to them the invention of the 
principal instruments, as may be seen in Col. Symes's 
account of those countries. 

" It might be supposed that the Siamese had bor- 
rowed their music from the same source that they 
have their religion, the softness, the playful sweet- 
ness and simplicity of the former seeming to harmo- 
nise in some degree with the human tenets, the strict 
morality, and apparent innocence of the latter. The 
prominent and leading character, however, of the 
music, appears to be common to the Malays and 
other inhabitants of the Indian islands, as well as to 
the whole of the Indo-Chinese nations. 

" My friend Captain Dangerfield, himself an adept 
in musical science, remarks that the music of the 

SIAM. 295 

Siamese differs from that of all barbarous tribes, in 
being played upon a different key on that, if I un- 
derstand him right, which characterises the pathetic 
music of certain European nations. There is cer- 
tainly no harsh or disagreeable sound, no sudden or 
unexpected transition, no grating sharpness in their 
music. Its principal character is that of being soft, 
lively, sweet, and cheerful, to a degree which seemed 
to us quite surprising. They have arrived beyond 
the point of being placed with more sound : the 
musician aimed at far higher views, that of inte- 
resting the feelings, awakening thought, or exciting 
the passions. Accordingly, they have their different 
kinds of music, to which they have recourse accord- 
ing as they wish to produce one or other of these 

" Their pieces of music are very numerous. A 
performer of some notoriety, who exhibited before us, 
stated that he knew 150 tunes. This man brought 
with him two instruments, the one a wind, the other 
a stringed instrument. The former, called klani, re- 
sembled a flageolet, as well in form as in the tones, 
which, however, were fuller, softer, and louder, than 
those of that instrument. His manner of blowing on 
it resembled that of a person using the blow-pipe. He 
was thus enabled to keep up an uninterrupted series 
of notes. The other, a more curious, as well as more 
agreeable instrument is called tuk-kay, from its fancied 
resemblance to a lizard, though, in point of form, to me 
it appears to approach nearer to that of a Chinese 
junk. It is about three feet long, has a hollow body, 
and three large sounding holes on the back, which is 
of a rounded form. It is composed of pieces of hard 
wood, inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Three strings, 
one of brass wire, the others of silk, supported on 


296 si AM. 

small bits of^wood, extend from one end of the instru- 
ment to the other, and are tuned by means of long 
pegs. The performer, pressing his left hand on the 
cords, strikes them at proper distances with the fore- 
finger of the right. There is another instrument, 
called khong-nong, the music of which is also very 
pleasant. It consists of a series of small cymbals of 
different sizes, suspended horizontally in a bamboo 
frame, forming a large segment of a circle. It is 
sometimes so large, that the performer may sit within 
the circle of the instrument, his back being then 
turned to the vacant space. The tones of this instru- 
ment are very pleasing. It is usually accompanied by 
the instrument called ran-nan; this is formed of flat 
bars of wood, about a foot in length, and an inch in 
breadth, placed by the side of each other, and disposed 
so as to form an arch, the convexity of which is down- 
wards. Both this and the last-mentioned instrument 
are struck with a light piece of wood, or a small 
mallet. In conclusion, we may observe, that there is 
a very remarkable difference between the character of 
their vocal and of their instrumental music, the former 
being as plaintive and melancholy, as the latter is 
lively and playful." 

The Siamese or T'bay language contains a great 
variety of compositions. Their poems and songs are 
numerous, as are their cheritras or romantic fictions, 
which, in their general characteristics, resemble those 
of the Birman, Rukheng, and Malaya tribes.* Many 
of the Siamese princes have been celebrated for their 
poetical powers. Their books of medicine are reckoned 

* Dr. Leyden has given the titles of forty-one of the most po- 
pular cheritras, The Rama-kien seems, he says, to be a version 
of the Ramayana, and the greater part are obviously derived from 
the Sanscrit through the Pali. Asiat. Ret., vol. x. p. 248. 

SIAM. 297 

of considerable antiquity, and their laws are celebrated 
all over the East. Their medical practice, however, 
is behind even that of the Birmans ; and their litera- 
ture is, apparently, altogether exotic. Both in science 
and in poetry, we are told, those who affect learning 
and elegance of composition, sprinkle their style co- 
piously with a mixture of Pali. 

The language of Siam is considered by Dr. Leyden 
as an original one. It is, he says, "more purely 
monosyllabic than the languages of Birmah, Arracan, 
and Pegu, and is certainly connected in some degree 
with the Chinese dialects, especially the mandarin or 
court language, with which its numerals, as well as 
some other terms, coincide." In its construction, 
its intonations, and its modes of expression, it coin- 
cides much more closely with the Chinese dialects than 
with those of Birmah ; and the words which it has 
borrowed from the Pali or Magadha, (the sacred lan- 
guage of the votaries of Buddha) are much more con- 
tracted and disguised than in the other vernacular 
idioms.* The Siamese calendar differs little from 
that of the Chinese. Mr. Finlayson says, indeed, that 
it is very doubtful if they could construct one with- 
out the assistance of a Chinese calendar, which they 
procure regularly from Pekin. Their era, answering 
to A.D. 638, also appears to be derived from China. 

Their customs approximate to those both of India 
and China. Polygamy is tolerated. The monarchs 
have sometimes espoused their own sisters. Women 
enjoy far less freedom and consideration in Siam, than 
they do in Birmah. The wife is not allowed to eat 
with her husband, nor even to sail in the same boat. 
She must attend no public amusements, but confine 

Asiat. Res. vol. x. p. 244. 

298 S1AM. 

herself to her domestic duties. All the heaviest labour 
devolves on the females. Their treatment of the dead 
varies according to the rank of the deceased. The 
corpses of the poor are unceremoniously thrown into 
the river. Infants under the age of dentition, and 
women who have died before delivery, are interred 
in a superficial grave, a peculiarity connected with 
some obscure superstition. With these exceptions, 
the practice of burning the dead extends to all classes. 
This is often performed very imperfectly, and the 
partially consumed bones are left to bleach on the 
plain, or to be devoured by beasts. In some instances, 
it is deemed meritorious, before burning the corpse, 
to distribute the fleshy parts among the beasts of the 
field and the birds of the air. In other cases, the 
body is sometimes embalmed before it is burned. This 
appears to be a relic of a very ancient practice, in use, 
probably, prior to the introduction of the custom of 
incineration. The actual state of the art of embalming 
is characteristic, Mr. Finlayson says, of that general 
ignorance of the ornamental as well as of the useful 
arts of civilised life, which is displayed by the modern 

The criminal punishments, as among the Birmans, 
are most barbarous. Trial by ordeal is very frequently 
had recourse to: of this there are various kinds, 
walking over hot irons, ordeal by water, and by com- 
bat with tigers. Adultery is now punishable only by 
fine. Debtors are very severely treated, being for the 
most part reduced to slaver)'. All males in Siam are 
enrolled from infancy, and are liable, on' becoming 
adults, to be called on for military service, without 
pay, during six months of the year. The king has no 
standing army except his personal guards, who are 
chiefly Tatars, but the whole nation is thus formed 

SIAM 2&9 

into a militia. Here, as in the fiirman empire, it is 
striking to observe the analogy which some of their 
institutions present to the old feudal tenures and 
military service of Europe in the eleventh century. 
No Siamese can wear arms without special permission ; 
but a knife, as in Spain, is in universal use, not being 
considered as a weapon.* 

We should now proceed to the topographical de- 
scription of the country, but for this we have scarcely 
any materials. The interior of Siam is for the most 
part land untravelled by Europeans. It is remarkable, 
that while the Siamese found no cities or towns except 
on the borders of their rivers, they form no settlements 
on their maritime coasts, which are uniformly de- 
serted, and, for at least a day's journey from shore, are 
destitute of any habitation, whether through fear of 
piratical invaders, or from any other cause, does not 
clearly appear. 

Respecting Yuthia, the ancient capital, we have 
only the vague accounts of the missionaries and older 
travellers. Tavernier, referring, apparently, to the 
same city under the name of Siam, says : " Siam, the 
capital city, where the king keeps his court, is walled 
about, being about three of our leagues in circuit : 
it is situated on an island, the river running quite 
round it, and might easily be brought into every 
street in the town, if the king would but lay out as 
much money on that design, as he spends in temples 
ai d idols." Kaempfer states, that the temples are 

* The city of Campang-pet (walls of diamond) is celebrated for 
its mines, which yield excellent steel. Yet, iron is little used 
Their boats have only wooden anchors ; pegs of bamboo are usec 
for nails in the construction of their houses ; and they have neithe: 
i:ins, nail?, nor iron tools. There are also mines of tin and lead. 
S 2 

300 SIAM. 

more elegant than the churches are in Germany. In 
the eastern part of the city were two squares, sur- 
rounded with walls, and separated by a canal, contain- 
ing numerous monasteries, colonnades, and temples. 
In a plain to the north-west of the city, stood the 
Puka-thon^ a pyramid erected to commemorate a 
famous victory gained over the king of Pegu. Father 
Gervaise states, that the foreigners' quarter was full 
of brick houses, and that the parts occupied by the 
natives contained handsome paved streets.* 

Louvok, another populous town on the great river, 
(supposed to be the Loeach of Marco Polo,) is probably 
I/ou-oo, the favourite residence of Chaw Naraya. 
Above the capital also, we find mentioned, Porseloc, 
the chief town of an ancient principality of that name, 
famous for its dye-woods and valuable gums.-f- The 
names of other towns are given by Loubere as occur- 
ring on the Mei-nam between Yuthia and Metak, 
which is stated to be the frontier town of the Tay- 
iio'i, beyond which the country belongs to the Great 
Tays. From Bankok to Yuthia, the banks of the 
Mei-nam are believed to be populous. " Lower down, 
they are mere deserts, swarming with monkeys, phos- 
phoric flies, and mosquitoes." J 

* By the Birmans, the city of Siam is known under the name of 
Dwarawuddy ; the proper native name is See-y-thaa. See p. 6. It 
is said to stand in lat. 14 5' N., long. 100 25* E. Although of great 
extent, it now contains but a small population. HAMILTON'S 

t Malte Brun, vol. iii. p. 386- On the frontier of Pegu, there is 
said to be a considerable town called Cambouri, the seat of a great 
commerce in eagle-wood, ivory, and rhinoceros' horns, and from 
this place comes the finest varnish. Ligor, a town on the western 
coast of the Gulf of Siam, in lat. 8 SO 7 , gives name to a province 
still in the possession of the Siamese, which yields a very pure tin 
called I'filh). 

Malte Brun, vol. iii. p. 383. 

SI AM. 301 

About ninety miles N. of the frontier, of Lower 
Siam, in lat. 20* 30', according to Loubere, is Chiamay 
or Jamahay, the capital of a state called Yangoma. 
Thus far, the Mei-nam is said to be navigable by boats. 
This is apparently the province of Yun-shan ; or pos- 
sibly, the Yuns may be inhabitants of the shan, or 
mountainous region, bordering on the country of 
Chiamay or Saymmay, where there is said to be a lake 
two hundred miles in extent, bounded by vast forests 
and impassable marshes.* In this lake, according to 
Mendez Pinto, the Mei-nam has its rise ; and Father 
Gervaise places its source, on hearsay evidence, in a 
great lake in the country of Laos, which must be in 
this direction. Kaempfer states, however, that the 
Mei-nam was believed to have its source in the moun- 
tains of Tibet, -j- He describes it as dividing itself into 
three arms, one of which flows through Cambodia, 
another through Siam, and a third through Pegu, into 
the sea. That the Mei-nam and the Mei-kong mingle 
their waters by the Anan-myeet, seems to be ascer- 
tained ; and another branch of the Mei-nam, called the 
Bomeik-myeet, flowing westward, may perhaps find its 
way into the Thaluayn. J We have already suggested 
that possibly, in the rainy season, the waters of these 
great rivers may unite to form a periodical inland sea, 

* See p. 6, note. 

t M. Loubere also considers the story of its origin in a lake a* 
doubtful, " by reason it is so small at ita entrance into the kingdom 
of Siam, that, for about fifty leagues, it carries only little boats 
capable of holding no more than four or five persons at most. At 
the city of Laconcevan (the mountain of heaven), the Meinam re- 
ceives another considerable river, which also comes from the north, 
and is likewise called Meinam, a name common to all great rivers." 
LOUBERE, fol. p. 4. May not this river proceed from a lake ? Or 
perhaps, the lake is southward of their confluence. 

-t The authors of the Universal History, on the authority ol 
M. Loubcr<_ and the journal of two Chinese, speak of the ninctiai 

302 SIAM. 

similar to that which is produced by the expansion of 
the great South American rivers in the centre of 
Paraguay. But time will resolve these conjectures. 

The Mei-nam, or mother-water, is a name not re- 
stricted to the river of Siam ; a circumstance whicli 
contributes not a little to perplex the geography of 
these regions. That which we now speak of, seems, 
however, pre-eminently entitled to the appellation : it 
is certainly one of the most considerable in eastern 
Asia. The inundation takes place in September. In 
December, the waters decline. It differs from the 
Ganges, in swelling first in its upper part, owing its 
inundations principally to the rains which fall among 
the mountains. The inundation, as has been already 
mentioned, is most remarkable in the centre of the 
kingdom. The operations of the rice -harvest are 
conducted (as in Paraguay) chiefly in boats.* The 
water of the Mei-nam, though muddy, is agreeable 
and wholesome. The banks are uniformly a rich and 
deep alluvial soil, in which scarcely a stone or pebble 
is to be found. The soil of the mountains, which are 
granite, is dry and barren. 

Siam may be considered as an immense valley form- 
ed by a double chain of mountains, in some places 

of a great river (meaning theMei-kong) with the Mei-nam. They 
also mention two other considerable rivers which fall into the great 
Mei-nam near its mouth. One, on the western side, rises near the 
city of Kambui, (Cambouri ?) and divides into two branches, the 
more northerly of which joins the Mei-nam a little above Yuthia, 
while the other branch falls into the sea near Pipila. The river, 
on the eastern side, has its source a little above the city of Karazema 
on the frontiers of Laos, and passing by Kanayot and Perion, enters 
the sea at Banplasoy near the eastern mouth of the Mei-nam. 
Unit: Hist. vol. vj. p. 254. The Mei-nam falls into the Gulf of 
Siam by three mouths, but the Packnam branch only is navigable. 
* See Mod. Trav. Brazil, vol. ii. p. 127, note. 

SI AM. 303 

between fourscore and a hundred leagues in breadth, 
and extending on each side of the gulf in the form of 
a horse-shoe. The western range of mountains which 
stretch down through the peninsula of Malacca, have, 
from the gulf, a singularly picturesque appearance, 
thus described by Mr. Finlayson : 

" An extensive low ground, covered with thick 
woods, stretches along the sea-coast. We could here 
see abundance of palms growing; the Palmyra ap- 
peared to be the most common. Appearances would 
lead us to infer this low ground to be well inhabited. 
The lofty mountains in the back ground render this 
country singularly picturesque. Sam-rayot, signifying 
three hundred peaks, the name by which the Siamese 
designate this tract, is expressive of its appearance. 
The mountain ranges run in the direction of north 
and south. They are very elevated, extremely rugged 
on their flanks, as well as summits, projecting into 
innumerable bold conical peaks. It is perhaps a singular 
circumstance, considering that the direction of these 
mountain ranges is from north to south, that they are 
steepest towards the east, while of mountains so distri- 
buted, it has been observed, that the steepest acclivities 
lie towards the west. Another singular circumstance 
in the appearance of these mountains, is the insulated 
situation of somq of the loftiest peaks, or rather moun- 
tains. Three of the latter are perfectly conical, lofty, 
and very steep, and their position is perfectly insular, 
miles intervening between them and the mountain 
ranges from which they stand detached. They are 
situated upon the flat, apparently alluvial ground 
Already mentioned. The greater hardness of the 
granitic mass in these, will hardly account for thj 

304 SIAM. 

The eastern shores of the Gulf are bordered by in- 
numerable groupes of islands, composed, for the most 
part, of mountainous masses, and all of them are of 
considerable elevation. They are all covered with 
vegetation, and have a picturesque aspect ; but it 
does not appear that any of them have ever been 
occupied. " The want of a constant supply of water 
must ever be a principal objection : while their steep 
forms and scanty soil forbid every attempt at cultiva- 
tion. In many, the summits are rounded : in others, 
peaked and rugged. In fact"," continues Mr. Finlayson, 
" we here appear to have ascended the tops of a range 
of mountains, in structure partaking of the nature of 
rocks both of the primitive and the secondary kind. 
The direction of this partly submerged range is like 
that on the peninsula of Malacca, from north to south, 
bending a little from east to west. The breadth of the 
range is considerable. The islands form a continuous 
narrow belt extending along the coast, in this respect 
somewhat similar to those on the east coast of the Bay 
of Bengal. There, however, we observe a stupendous 
parallel chain of mountains, extending from one extre- 
mity of the peninsula to the other ; whilst here, the 
most remarkable circumstance is the extreme low- 
ness of the continental land. It is an extensive allu- 
vion, on a level with the sea, on which we look in 
vain for hill or elevation of any sort. At the distance 
of a few miles, the trees only, and not the ground, are 
visible from the deck, whilst the islands, many of them 
rising above 1000 feet, are to be seen many miles off. 
The occurrence of granite on this, the first of the 
series, was rather unexpected. This granite presents 
several varieties. It is less perfectly crystalised, and 
more granular, than that we found on the western coast 

SIAM. 305 

of the peninsula of Malacca. Many of the specimens 
contain hornblende; and on the summit of the hill, 
there is a red granite, which breaks into brick -like 
fragments. The lower granite is uncommonly hard, 
and breaks with much difficulty."* 

At the head of the gulf, a mountainous country 
divides the valley of Siam from Cambodia. This is 
the province of Chantibond, which originally belonged 
to the kingdom of Cambodia, but, on the partition of 
that beautiful country, was seized upon by the Cochin 
Chinese, and at length was annexed, by Pe-ya-tac, to 
the empire of Siam, of which it is stated to constitute 
one of the richest and most valuable provinces. Mr. 
Finlayson describes it as " singularly beautiful and 
picturesque, diversified by lofty mountains, extensive 
forests, and fertile valleys and plains. The passage 
thence to Cambodia is of short distance, a ridge of 
mountains dividing the two countries. It possesses a 
good and convenient harbour, well protected by nu- 
merous beautiful islands in front. The river is ob- 
structed in a great measure at its mouth, but affords 
convenient and safe navigation to small vessels and 
boats. It once possessed an extensive and profitable 

* Mr. Finlayson supposes, that the base, both of the islands and 
of the bay formed by them, is granite. " Extensive masses," he says, 
of a coarse-grained granite, abounding with plates of gray and 
black mica, in parallel laminae, are to be seen at low water at seve- 
ral points on the shores of the islands. This rock presents a rough, 
horizontal surface, never ascending into peaks, and rarely rising 
above high-water mark. On this rock are superposed, collaterally 
a d often alternating with each other, quartz rock and granular 
limestone, both of them varying in appearance, and containing a 
considerable proportion of calcareous matter. The direction of 
the strata is from E. to W., dipping to the north. On the smaller 
islands, the quartz is intersected by retiform veins of iron ore. 
Caves of considerable extent occur in the slaty quartz." See FIN- 
LAYSON'S Mitrion, pp. 90, 1 ; 2757- 

306 SIAM. 

commerce, which has been upon the decline since the 
place fell into the hands of the Siamese. The produce 
of the country is annually removed to Bankok, and 
the commerce with foreign ships is prohibited. The 
principal productions are pepper, the cultivation of 
which may be increased almost to an unlimited extent, 
benzoin, lac, ivory, agila-wood,* rhinoceros* horns, 
hides of cows, buffaloes, deer, &c., gamboge, some 
cardamoms, and precious stones, the latter of inferior 
quality. The forests abound in excellent timber, and 
afford the best materials for ship-building: accord- 
ingly, many junks are built at this place. Many of 
the islands in front of the port, and particularly that 
called Bangga-cha, produce abundance of precious 
stones. The island Sa-ma-ra-yat, to the east of the 
harbour, is said to produce gold. In the former of 
these islands, there is a safe and convenient harbour. 
At a short distance from the coast, there is a very 
high mountain, called Bomba-soi, commanding an ex- 
tensive view both of Chantibond and of Cambodia. 
" The amount of the population is uncertain, 

* The agila-wood of Chantibond is equalled only by that of 
Cochin China. The odoriferous principle, which gives it value, 
resides in a black, thick, concrete oil, resembling tar or resin 
while burning, and it is probably a combination of an essential 
oil with resin. It is disposed in numerous cells, and gives to the 
wood a blackish, dotted appearance. As it is found in compara- 
tively few trees, and those only which exhibit signs of decay, it 
has naturally been supposed to be the effect of disease. Probably, 
it is occasioned by the puncture of some insect. The Siamese 
name the substance nuga-mai : it is also called mai-hodm. The 
consumption of it is considerable, even in Siam ; but the greater 
part is exported to China, where it is used in the service of the 
temples, and in the incineration of the corpses of persons of dis- 
tinction. The powder, mixed with a gummy substance, is laid 
over small sticks, which burn with a slow and smothered flame, 
giving out a feeble but grateful perfume. 

SIAM. 307 

some estimating it at nearly one million, while 
others reckon it under half that number. It is com- 
posed of Chinese, Cochin- Chinese, Cambodians, and 
Siamese; but by far the greater number are Chinese, 
in whose hands are all the wealth and the richest 
products of the country. There are also from two to 
three hundred native Christians in the place, who, 
like those in other parts of Siam, are placed under the 
care of the bishop of Metellopolis, Joseph Florens, a 
Frenchman. The place is governed by a man of Chi- 
nese extraction, appointed by the king of Siam." 

To the south of Cape Liant, which bounds on that 
side the province of Chantibond, the eastern coast of 
the Gulf of Siam takes a south-easterly direction as 
far as Cape Cambodia. Two-third of this tract, 300 
miles in length, are a sandy desert; but here, near 
the mouth of a deep but narrow river, a small inde- 
pendent state was founded in 1705, by a Chinese mer- 
chant named Kiang-si, Avhich for some time prospered 
under a flourishing trade, presenting the phenomenon 
of a commercial republic, a Chinese Pisa or Ragusa, 
at the eastern extremity of Asia. 

" Departing," says Le Poivre, " from the peninsula 
of Malacca, I fell in with a small territory, known, in 
the maritime charts, by the name of Ponthiamas. 
Surrounded on all sides with despotism, this charming 
country, about fifty years ago, was uncultivated and 
almost destitute of inhabitants. A Chinese merchant 
who frequented these coasts, being a man of intelli- 
gence and genius, resolved on a colonisation of these 
parts. He hired a number of labourers, partly 
Chinese and partly from the adjacent states, and so 
skilfully ingratiated himself with the neighbouring 
princes, that they assigned him a guard for his pro- 
tection. In the course of his voyage to Batavia and 


308 SI AM. 

the Philippines, he borrowed from the Europeans 
their art of defence and fortification. With regard to 
the internal police, he gave the preference to the 
Chinese. The profits of his commerce soon enabled 
him to raise ramparts, sink fosses, and provide artil- 
lery; these precautions secured him from the sur- 
rounding barbarians. He distributed his lands among 
his labourers, without the least reservation in the 
shape of fines, duties, or taxes, and he provided his 
colonists also with all sorts of instruments of hus- 

. " His country became the resort of every indus- 
trious man who wished to settle there : his ports were 
open to all. The woods were cleared ; the grounds 
were sown with rice ; canals, cut from the rivers, 
watered their fields, and plentiful harvests supplied 
their own wants and afforded means of commerce. 
The neighbouring states call him king, a title he 
despises; he pretends to no sovereignty, but that of 
doing good, and certainly merits a very noble title, 
that of friend to mankind. The neighbouring dis- 
tricts, astonished at this abundance, flock to his 
magazines, which, notwithstanding the great fertility 
of Cochin China, are the granary of these eastern 
Asiatic states."* 

It were a pity to destroy so pleasing a picture, even 
if tinged with a little romance. It is clear, that a 
lucrative commerce was established here; but its 
prosperity must have been of short continuance, as, 
in 1720, Hamilton found the city in ruins. It had 
been taken and plundered in 1717, by the Siamese. 
It was then a place of considerable trade, and it is 
said, that not less than 200 tons of ivory, ready for 
exportation, were destroyed. 

* Pennant's Outlines of the Globe, vol. iii. p. 52. 

SIAM. 309 

The river on which the town of Ponthiamas is 
seated, communicates, in the season of inundation, 
with the Meikong, by which means commodities are 
brought to this mouth, instead of the Cambodia branch, 
which is said to be of very troublesome navigation, 
from the number of low islands and sand banks which 
obstruct the channel.* 

The valley of Cambodia is the last of those vast 
longitudinal basins into which this region is divided, 
and here we enter on the confines of the An ami tic 

* Probably, the Bassak is referred to. See p. 333, note. 




[An empire, comprising Tong-kin, Cochin China, Tsiampa, Cam- 
bodia, and Laos ; extending from lat. 9 to 23 ; bounded on 
the N. by China; on the E. and S. by the Chinese Sea; on the 
W. by Siam and unknown country.] 

THE country of Anarn (Aynam, An-nan, or Onam), 
which originally consisted of Tong-kin,* is recorded to 
have been at one time comprised, together with Cochin 
China, Cambodia, and Tsiampa, within the Chinese 
empire ; but, on the Mogul invasion of China in the 
thirteenth century, the Chinese governors of the south- 
ern provinces took the opportunity of setting up the 
standard of independence. In this manner several 
distinct kingdoms were created, the sovereigns of 
which, however, continued for many years to acknow- 
ledge a nominal vassalage to the throne of China. 
Tong-kin is stated to have separated from China in 
1368. Its princes gradually assumed a greater degree 
of independence, and about 1553, are asserted to have 
subdued Cochin China. The dynasty of Le" ruled the 
kingdom for many ages with all the wisdom and be- 
nignity that despotism can admit of. But one of the 

* There is no end to the arbitrary variations introduced in our 
geographical orthography. In Hamilton's Gazetteer, this word is 
written Tunquin. In a recent map by Mr. Wild, it is Ton-king. 
Mr. Barrow writes it Tung-quin ; Lieut. White, Tonquin, which 
is adopted by the Translator of Malte Brun; but we are told that 
the word is Don-kin, the " Court of the East." There is certainly 
no good reason for our adopting the French q, which answers to 
our * ; and it i j probable that Tong-kin comes near the true pro- 

314 ANAM. 

great officers of the crown, the shooa (chua, or shua- 
rua] , answering, apparently, to the Mahratta peishwas, 
or the ancient mayors of the palace in France, 
having placed himself at the head of the army, suc- 
ceeded in making the office hereditary, and in reducing 
the bova (boa) or king to the shadow of a monarch. 
The subsequent history of Tong-kin presents only a 
confused succession of assassinations and revolts, and 
a perpetual fluctuation of boundaries. 

Cochin China, or Southern Anam, is said to be in- 
debted for its present population to an unsuccessful 
rebellion of a Tongkinese prince against his sovereign, 
somewhat less than two centuries ago. The insur- 
gents, being totally routed, fled before the victorious 
troops of the king of Tongkin into Cochin China, 
then inhabited by the Lois or Laos, a timid and peace- 
ful race, who, at the approach of these intruders, 
retired into the mountains of Tsiampa, abandoning 
their country without a struggle, if we may believe 
the story, to the Tongkinese fugitives. In a very 
short time, the latter had spread themselves over the 
northern section of this fertile country ; nor was it 
many years ere they had penetrated southward as far 
as the borders of Cambodia, where they built the city 
of Sai-gon, and subsequently that of Don-nai. In 
somewhat less than forty years, they had gained pos- 
session of the whole of Cochin China, and had made 
successful inroads into Cambodia. There, however, 
they were opposed by a more warlike people than the 
Laos; nor were the Cambodians finally subdued by 
the Anamese until the reign of the monarch who still 
occupied the throne in 1820. 

The Cochin Chinese kingdom soon became one of 
the most powerful and prosperous in Eastern Asia. 
Its fertile soil, its important line of coast, and a mild 

A NAM. 315 

government, favoured its rapid improvement; and 
about the middle of the eighteenth century, it had 
attained its zenith. " The first six kings of the Tong- 
kinese race were," we are told, " greatly beloved by 
their subjects, whom they governed in the manner of 
the ancient patriarchs, looking upon their people as 
their children, and by their* own example prompting 
them to habits of simplicity, industry, and frugality. 
But the subsequent discovery of the gold and silver 
mines, and the easy and frequent communications 
which their commerce had opened with the Chinese, 
were the means of introducing luxury and effeminacy 
to the court of Anam, and of inflating the minds of its 
sovereigns, in imitation of the mighty monarchs of 
the celestial empire. Their courtiers, finding their 
interest in flattering them, bestowed the blasphemous 
epithet of King of Heaven upon their infatuated 
masters, who readily adopted this arrogant title: by 
edict, its use became general in their own country, and 
by courtesy, in imitation of the slavish adoration paid 
to other eastern potentates, was confirmed to them by 
the politic diplomatists of tributary and less powerful 
states, who occasionally visited the court. It would 
be absurd to suppose that the King of Heaven could 
be lodged and attended like the common kings of the 
earth; and we find Vous-tsoi, the immediate ancestor 
of the present sovereign, inhabiting, according to the 
seasons, his winter, summer, and autumnal palaces, 
and plunging into the greatest luxury and excess. 
Even the gold mines were not a sufficient resource 
against this torrent of extravagance; new taxes were 
levied, new impositions devised; and these exactions 
were 'wrung from the hard hands of peasants,' by 
force and tyrannical oppression, as their contributions 
had now ceased to be voluntary. The prince, sur- 
T 2 

16 ANAM. 

rounded by flattering sycophants, who guarded every 
avenue to the royal ear, was consequently ignorant of 
the growing evils which his mal-administration had 
produced. With astonishing infatuation, he aban- 
doned himself to his pleasures, and his government to 
his insidious courtiers, who, taking advantage of ex- 
emption from punishment, robbed the people, and 
plunged the nation into an abyss of poverty and dis- 
tress. This catastrophe was hastened by a general 
corruption of manners, communicated by the empoi- 
soned streams which flowed from the court and capital, 
and spread their baneful influence over all ranks and 
conditions of the people. 

" Notwithstanding the errors and defects of this 
sovereign, he is represented as having been of a mild 
disposition, and secretly attached to the simple and 
primitive manners of his ancestors; fond of his sub- 
jects, always calling them his children; friendly to 
the doctrines of Christianity, and treating its ministers 
with great respect and indulgence." 

The natural consequence of this state of things 
were soon exhibited in a rebellion, followed by a civil 
war, which for nearly thirty years agitated the country. 
The details of this revolution are tolerably authentic. 
In the year 1774, in the 35th year of the reign of 
Caung-shung, the father of the late King Gia-laong, 
the rebellion commenced in the city of Quin-hone, the 
capital of the division of Chang, headed by three 
brothers. The eldest, whose name was Yinyac, was 
a wealthy merchant, who carried on an extensive 
commerce with China and Japan; Long-niang, the 
second brother, was a general officer, or war-man- 
darin of high rank; and the third was a priest. 
Their first care was to get possession of the person of 
the king, which they effected, and put him to death, 

ANAM. 317 

together with all of the royal family who fell into their 
hands. The city of Saigon, in the province of Don- 
nai, was supposed to be favourable to the cause of the 
deposed sovereign; an army was therefore marched 
against it, the walls were levelled to the ground, and 
20,000 of its inhabitants put to the sword. In their 
arrangements for the future government of this ex- 
tensive country, it was determined that Yinyac should 
possess the southern and central divisions of Chang 
and Don-nai; Long-niang, that of Hue", bordering 
on Tongkin; and the youngest brother was to be 
high -priest of all Cochin China. 

Long-niang was soon involved in hostilities with 
the King of Tongkin, then a tributary to the Emperor 
of China, and defeated him in battle. The vanquished 
king fled to Pekin, and Tongkin was overrun by the 
victorious usurper. Kien-Long sent an army of 
100,000 men to replace the King of Tongkin on his 
throne; but Long-niang so skilfully harassed the Chi- 
nese army, laying waste the country in their line of 
march, that they retired in distress for provisions be- 
fore they had reached the frontiers of Tongkin. The 
consequence was a treaty, whereby the Chinese em- 
peror recognised and confirmed Long-niang as sove- 
reign of Cochin China and Tongkin, which were to be 
held as tributary to the emperor.* 

* Mr. Barrcrvr gives a truly curious account of the result of this 
Chinese expedition. Foo-chang-tong, the commander, -was so 
miserably harrassed in his retreat by the usurper, that no fewer 
than 50,000 men are said to have perished by famine and the sword,, 
without any general battle having been fought. To prevent in- 
evitable disgrace, he resolved therefore to open a negotiation with 
the usurper ; but Long-niang assumed the tone of a conqueror. 
Under these circumstances, the Chinese general had recourse to 
the bold expedient of transmitting to the court of Pekin an account 
of the unparalleled success of his expedition : the arms of the em- 

318 ANAM. 

At the period of the rebellion, there resided at the 
court of Cochin China a French emissary of the name 
of Adran, who styled himself the apostolic vicar of 
Cochin China. Caung-shung had held him in so high 
esteem as to place under his tuition his only son, the 
heir to the throne. Adran, on the first burst of the 
revolt, saw that the only hope of safety was in flight. 
The king was already in the power of the rebels, but 
the queen, the young prince, with his wife and infant 
son, and one sister, by Adran's assistance, effected 
their escape. They took refuge in a forest, where 
they lay concealed for several months. When the 
enemy retired, they made the best of their way to 
Saigon, where the prince was crowned under the name 

peror had been uniformly victorious ; but he bore honourable tes- 
timony, at the same time, to the valour of the enemy, and to the 
justice and reasonableness of his pretensions to the throne, which 
the former possessor had relinquished; and dwelt on the universal 
esteem in which he was held by the people ; giving it as his opi- 
nion, that Long-niang should be invited to Pekin, to receive the 
investiture of the Tongkin crown, and suggesting that a mandarin- 
ate would amply satisfy the dispossessed Tongkinese prince. The 
whole scheme succeeded, and an invitation in due form was sent 
down to Long-niang to proceed to Pekin. This wary general, how- 
ever, thinking it might be a trick of the viceroy to get possession 
of his person, remained in doubt as to what course he ought to pur- 
sue. On consulting one of his confidential generals, it was con- 
cluded between them, that this officer should proceed to the capital 
of China as his representative, and personate the new king of 
Tongkin and Cochin China. He was received at the court of Pekin 
with all due honors, loaded with the usual presents, and confirmed- 
in his title to the united kingdoms, which were in future to be 
considered as tributary to the emperor of China, On the return 
of this mock king to Hue, Long-niang was greatly puzzled how to 
act. But seeing that the affair could not long remain a secret with 
so many living witnesses, he caused his friend and the whole of 
his suite to be put to death, as the surest and perhaps the only 
means of preventing the trick which he had so successfully played 
on the emperor of China, from being discovered. This event hap- 
pened in 1779. BARROW, p. 254. 

ANAM. 319 

of his father, Caung-shung. Some efforts were made, 
under Adran's direction, to re-establish him on his 
throne ; but, after many unsuccessful attempts, the 
king was obliged to leave his country and take refuge 
in Siam, where he was hospitably received. In the 
meantime, Adran, to whom, at his earnest solicitation, 
he had intrusted his son, embarked for Pondicherry, 
and thence sailed for France, where he arrived with 
his royal charge in 1787. The young prince was pre- 
sented at court, and treated with every mark of 
respect; and the project of the missionary was so 
highly approved, that, in the course of a few months, 
a treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive, was drawn 
up and concluded between Louis XVI. and the king of 
Cochin China, (signed on the part of the latter by the 
young prince,) by which his most Christian majesty 
engaged to lend Caung-shung effectual assistance in 
recovering his throne. Adran was created bishop of 
Cochin China, and honoured with- the appointment of 
ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary. 

Matters being thus concluded, Adran and his 
charge again set sail for Pondicherry. From the 
Mauritius, a powerful armament was to have been 
sent out; but untoward events* retarded its operations 

* The untoward circumstances alluded to, are detailed by Mr. 
Barrow. At the time of the bishop's arrival at Pondicherry, 
Madame de Vienne, a celebrated beauty, was the mistress of Con- 
way the governor, and had obtained an absolute ascendency over 
him. Piqued at Adran's refusal to visit her, and still more enraged 
at some expressions which he was reported to have used in repro- 
bation of the general's licentiousness, she resolved to have her re- 
venge by frustrating the expedition. She managed so well to rouse 
Conway's jealousy of Adran, that he despatched a fast-sailing vessel 
to the Mauritius, with directions to suspend the armament till fur- 
ther orders should be received from Versailles. " Had not this 
event taken place," remarks Mr. Barrow, "it is difficult to say 
what the consequences of such a treaty might have been to uur 

320 ANAM. 

until the French revolution finally put a stop to the 

Adran, however, was not to be deterred from his 
undertaking. He had carried with him from France, 
several officers, who were to have held appointments 
under the government. With some of these as volun- 
teers, the bishop and the young prince embarked on 
board a merchant- vessel for Cape St. James. On 
reaching the coast, they learned that the king, availing 
himself of dissensions among the brother usurpers, had 
repossessed himself of Saigon, where Adran and his 
charge joined him in 1790. The greater part of the 
first year was occupied in fortifying Saigon, in recruit- 
ing and disciplining an army, and in collecting and 
equipping a fleet. In the following year, the usurper 
Long-niang died at Hu, leaving a son twelve years of 
age, to succeed him on the throne of Tongkin and 
Hue". The ratification of his title to the kingdom of 
Tongkin by the emperor, had been the cause of hosti- 
lities between the two brothers, in which Yinyac had 
been constantly worsted, and his dominions contracted. 
In 1792, Caung-shung attacked the fleet of Yinyac in 
the harbour of Quinhone, and either captured or de- 
stroyed the greater part. Yinyac did not long survive 
this defeat, and his son, Tai-saun, succeeded to his 

In the year 1796, Caung-shung resolved to attack 
the capital by land. Tai-saun was enabled to bring 
against him an army of a hundred thousand men ; but 
the king, supported by his French officers, completely 
routed it with a very inferior force, and gained posses- 
sion of the whole as far as Turon Bay. 

Indian possessions and to the trade of the East India company 
with China ; but it is sufficiently evident that it had for its object 
the destruction of both." Voyage to Cochin China, p. 266. 

ANAM. 321 

Bishop Adran had, in the mean time, become the 
oracle and guide of the king. " Under his auspices, 
the country was greatly improved; and during a short 
peace, previous to the final termination of the war, he 
established a manufactory of saltpetre, opened roads, 
cut canals, held out rewards for the propagation of 
the silk-worm, caused large tracts of land to be cleared 
for the cultivation of the sugar-cane, established manu- 
factories for the preparation of pitch, tar, rosin, &c. ; 
opened mines of iron, and constructed smelting-furnaces 
and foundries for cannon. Adran translated into the 
Anam language, a system of European military tactics, 
for the use of the army. Naval arsenals were esta- 
blished, and a large navy, principally consisting of 
gun-boats, galleys, &c. was built and equipped. Under 
his direction, a reformation was effected in the system 
of jurisprudence; he abolished several species of pu- 
nishments that were disproportionate to the crimes to 
which they were annexed; he established public 
schools, and compelled parents to send their children 
to them at the age of four years; he drew up com- 
mercial regulations, built bridges, caused buoys and 
sea-marks to be laid down in all the dangerous parts 
of the coast, and surveys to be made of the principal 
bays and harbours. The officers of the navy were 
instructed in naval tactics by Frenchmen; his army 
was divided into regular regiments; military schools 
were established, and the officers taught the science of 
gunnery. Unfortunately for the country, the death 
of Adran occurred shortly after this; and with him 
expired many of the wholesome laws, institutions, and 
regulations established by him." 

Adran died in the year 1800, and was interred at 
Saigon with all the pomp and ceremonies prescribed 

322 AXAM. 

by the Anamese religion. The heir-apparent, hia 
pupil, died shortly after. 

The young usurper of Hue*, however, still kept pos- 
session of that city and part of Tongkin; but in 1802,* 
Caung-shung, at the head of a formidable armament, 
dislodged him; and in 1804, he was acknowledged by 
the emperor of China as the undisputed sovereign of 
the whole country, the name of which he changed on 
this occasion from Anarn to Viet-nam. 

Caung-shung died in February 1820, in the sixty- 
third year of his age, and was succeeded by his second 
son, who assumed the title of Minh-menh (or Ming- 
menff, shining providence). The character of this 
sovereign, who is compared by Mr. Barrow to Peter 
the Great of Russia, certainly exhibits a very extra- 
ordinary combination of talent, energy and courage. 
At one time an outcast, forced to flee from the hand 
of the usurper and the assassin, and to suffer the 
keenest pangs of adversity, he was nevertheless able, 
in the course of ten or twelve years, to recover the 
whole of his possessions, and to extend them by the 
acquisition of Tongkin. He undoubtedly owed much, 
however, in every point of view, to the instructions, 
the talents, and the efficient aid of Adran, whom he 
venerated almost to adoration, distingishing him by 
an epithet bestowed on Confucius alone, " the illus- 
trious master." 

* In 1800, the military forces of Caung-shung are said to have 
amounted to 113,000 men; viz. 24 squadrons of buffalo troops, 
6,000; 16 battalions of elephants (200 animals), 8,000; 30 regiments 
of artillery, 15,000 ; 24 regiments trained in the European manner, 
30,000; infantry -with matchlocks, 42,000; guards, trained to 
European tactics, 12,000; exclusive of a marine amounting to 
26,800. Total, 139,800. BARROW, p. 283. 

ANAM. 323 

Mr. Barrow portrays the character of this monarch 
in glowing colours. " Caung-shung," he says, " is 
represented to be a complete soldier. He is said to 
esteem the name of general far more than that of 
sovereign. At the head of his army, he is cheerful 
and good-humoured, polite and attentive to all the 
officers under his command. His memory is so correct 
that he is said to know by name the greater part of 
his army. He takes uncommon pleasure in conversing 
with his soldiers, and in talking over their adventures 
and exploits. He makes particular inquiries after 
their wives and children, whether the latter go regu- 
larly to school, how they mean to dispose of them 
when grown up ; and, in short, enters with a de- 
gree of interest into a minute detail of their domestic 

"His conduct to foreigners is affable. T9 the 
French officers in his service he pays the most marked 
attention, and treats them with the greatest polite- 
ness, familiarity, and good humour. On all his hunt- 
ing excursions and other parties of pleasure, one of 
these officers is always invited to attend.* He openly 
declares his great veneration for the doctrines of 
Christianity, and tolerates this religion, and, indeed, 
all others in his dominions. He observes a most scru- 
pulous regard to the maxims of filial piety, as laid 
down in the works of Confucius ; and humbles him- 
self in the presence of his mother, who is still living, 
as a child before its master. With the works of the 

" Though no apparent alteration took place in his conduct 
towards the French officers, yet, the French character is said to 
have suffered greatly in his estimation from the moment he was 
made acquainted with the outrageous and inhuman treatment 
which the unfortunate family experienced from a licentious and 
avage rabble." 

324 ANAM. 

most eminent Chinese authors, he is well acquainted ; 
and through the translations into the Chinese character 
of the Encyclopedic by the bishop Adran, he has 
acquired no inconsiderable knowledge of European 
arts and sciences, among which he is most attached to 
such as relate to navigation and ship-building. It is 
stated, on what appears to be good authority, that, in 
order to obtain a thorough knowledge of the practice 
as well as the theory of European naval architecture, 
he purchased a Portuguese vessel for the sole purpose 
of taking it to pieces, plank by plank, with his own 
hands, fitting in a new piece of similar shape and 
dimensions to the old one he removed, till every beam 
timber, knee, and plank had been replaced by new 
ones of his own construction, and the ship thus com- 
pletely renovated. 

" The energy of his mind is not less vigorous than 
the activity of his corporal faculties. He is repre- 
sented, in fact, as the mainspring of every movement 
that takes place in his extensive and flourishing king- 
dom. Intendant of the ports and arsenals, master- 
shipwright of the dock-yard, and chief engineer of all 
his works, nothing is attempted to be undertaken 
without his advice and instructions. In the former, 
not a nail is driven without first consulting him, nor 
a grin mounted in the latter but by his orders. He 
not only enters into the most minute detail by draw- 
ing up instructions, but actually sees them executed 

In his diet, he was singularly temparate, not taking 
Chinese wine or any kind of spirituous liquors, and 
contenting himself with a very small portion of animal 
food. A little fish, rice, vegetables, and fmit, with 
tea and light pastry, constituted the chief articles of 
his diet. Like a true Chinese, descended, as he boasted, 

ANAM. . 325 

from the imperial family of Ming, he always ate alone, 
not permitting either his wife or any part of his family 
to sit down at the same table with himself. His mode 
of life was almost methodical. He rose at six, and 
bathed; at seven, held a levee of mandarins; then 
proceeded to the naval arsenal, to inspect the works; 
between twelve and one took his first meal, consisting 
of a little boiled rice and dried fish ; at two, retired to 
take what might be called his siesta; at five, gave 
audience to naval and military officers and heads of 
departments; at midnight, supped and passed an hour 
with his family, and between two and three retired to 
his bed. In stature, he was somewhat above the mid- 
dle size, his features regular and agreeable, his com- 
plexion ruddy and sunburnt. Such was Caung- 
shung II., one of the most extraordinary personages, 
assuredly, that ever occupied an Asiatic throne. 


THE Anamese empire, according to its present limits, 
extends from Cambodia Point, in lat. 8 40' to the 
northern confines of Tongkin, which reach within a 
very few miles of the Tropic, and from long. 105 to 
109 24' E. From Cape Avarella, its easternmost point, 
it extends westward about a hundred and fifty miles, 
but its average breadth is about a hundred. It com- 
prises the following grand divisions : 

Lat. Lat. 

1. The Kingdom of Tongkin, lying between 23 30' and 17 30' N. 

2. The Province of Hue, 17 30' and 15 

3. Chang, 15 and 12 

4. Donnai, 12 and 8 4<H 

These grand divisions are subdivided into districts, 
the present names and limits of which are not ascer- 
tained with any accuracy. Hue" and Chang would 

326 ANAM. 

seem to include nearly the whole of Cochin Chit.a 
Proper;* while Don-nai comprises the little state of 
Tsiampa and the conquered parts of Cambodia.f The 
city of Hue" is the present capital of theempire. 

Within these limits there appear to be no fewer 
than five considerable rivers; namely, the Sang-koi, 
or river of Tongkin, that of Hue", that of Sai-gon, 
the Mei-kong, and the river of Ponthiamas. The 
river of Tongkin, on which Kescho the capital is 
situated, at the distance of 120 miles from its mouths, 
has its source in the Chinese province of Yun-nan: 
traversing the kingdom in a south-easterly direction, 
it fertilizes a great tract of country, and falls into 
the Bay of Tongkin in about lat. 20. Owing to the 
sand-bank whicli obstructs the entrance it is not now 
navigable for vessels of more than 200 tons burden. 
Cochin China Proper has no navigable river of any 
magnitude. The river of Hue* has but a very short 
course and, although broad, being but shallow, is not 
of extensive utility as regards navigation. Its estuary, 
however, forms a fine harbour, and, in the south-west 
monsoon, ships of 200 tons burden may enter and quit 

" The Japanese call the country westward of China, Cotchin 
Djina, and the Europeans have followed them." MALTE BRUN, 
vol. iii. p. 272. The Chinese call Cochin China Proper, Tchan- 
tching ; Tongkin is known to them under the name of Nyan-nan, 
and Tsiampa is called Tchin-la. MARSDEN'S Marco Polo, note 

t The northern division of Cochin China is stated to comprise 
the province of Dinhkhat (Dingoe), Kwangbin (or Quambin), a 
mountainous district, Dinhwi, and Hue. The southern com- 
prises, besides Chang (or Kyam), which skirts the Bay of Turon, 
the provinces of Don-nai, Nyat-lang, Quan-hia (or Kwangsia), 
Quin-nong (Kwin-yong, Quinhone, Quinam), containing the an- 
cient capital of the same name, situated on the bay of Shin-shen, 
Fuyen (Foy or Phayn), and Ran-ran. Tongkin is also subdivided 
into eleven province!. 

ANAM. 327 

it in safety. In the opposite monsoon, it is almost 
inaccessible. "In regard to harbours, Cochin China 
is singularly fortunate. Within the six degrees and a 
half of latitude which intervene between Cape St. 
James and the Bay of Turon, there are no fewer than 
nine of the finest harbours in the world, accessible 
with every wind, safe to approach, and affording the 
most complete protection." * 

There is no shore which suffers more perceptible 
encroachments from the sea, than that of Cochin 
China. M. Poivre found that, between the years 1744 
and 1749, it had gained 190 feet.f A range of moun- 
tains stretches down in a line parallel with the coast. 
The rocks in the southern provinces are unstratified 
masses, generally granite, and sometimes with perpen- 
dicular fissures. Cape St. James, which is the first 
land made on coming from the south, (lat. 10 16' 41", 
N., long. 107 45' E.J) is the extremity of a ridge of 
hills about 300 feet in height, forming the left bank 
of the Sai-gon river. It is seen at a great distance. 
The land on the opposite side of the river is extremely 
low, || and an extensive sand-bank lies before it, 
stretching for several miles. A few miles within this 
point is a fine, spacious, semi-circular bay, called the 
Bay of Cocoa-nuts. The rocks are granite and syenite, 
intersected with small veins of rich iron ore. Into 
this bay, the Gagn-jai, the Cai-mep, and other small 

Asiat. Jour. vol. xix. p. 122. 

t The general appearance of the coast of Tongkin indicates a 
retrogression of the sea. 

t White, p. 58. M. Dyot made it 10<> 15' 48" N. lat. and 107 
5' 51" E. long. 

|| A mud flat commences from Cambodia Point, and gradually 
increases in breadth till it terminates at the mouth of the Donnai 
river, where it extends into the sea about four leagues. 

Flnlayson, p. 295. 

328 AN AM. 

rivers fall. It is not considered as very safe in the 
S.W. monsoon, though the ground is good, but in the 
opposite season, the harbour is excellent. 

The coast of Cochin China, from Cape St. James to 
Turon Bay, is singularly bold and picturesque. A 
continuous chain of lofty mountains stretches in the 
direction of the coast, (that is S.E. and N.W.) 
throughout this tract, at a very short distance from 
the shores, which are in general abrupt, bold, and 
precipitous, or. begirt with a narrow sandy beach. 
" The ranges of hills are numerous, and for the most 
part are seen to rise above each other in gradual suc- 
cession as they recede from the. sea. Their abrupt, 
acuminated, and ridgy forms, their sterile summits, 
their steep flanks, leave little room to doubt that the 
greater part, and the whole of the western half of 
these mountains, are granitic. Near to the middle of 
the chain, they become less bold and less elevated, 
while their forms are rounded at top. With this 
change, increased fertility of the soil and a country 
better adapted for the support of man come into 
view. Here, human industry struggles against the 
inequality of the soil. Numerous fields are observed 
to occupy the sides of the hills, and a vast fleet of 
boats plying in the open sea, indicates the existence of 
a numerous population. Some of the islands along 
the coast are also cultivated in a similar manner." 
The bay of Turon is completely land-locked, and 
were its entrance as easy as its interior is safe, it 
would be justly numbered among the best of har- 

From Turon to Hue", a passage of about twenty 
hours, the coast still preserves its rugged, bold, and 
picturesque character. The chain of mountains is 
continued ; the ridges bear the same forms and direc- 

ANAM. 321) 

tion, but increase in altitude, and the granitic peaks 
become more acuminated. The coast now wears a 
more sterile aspect ; no signs of vegetation enliven the 
sandy shores, and the whole country is evidently 
granitic. But in the middle of the river of Hue*- 
Hane, three miles up, there is an island of sand, from 
the centre of which rises a large and magnificent ala- 
baster rock, which in several places is perforated quite 
across. It is called the hill of apes.* 

Cochin China includes two distinct regions, the 
mountains and the plains. The former enjoy a steady, 
temperate climate, but prove insalubrious to foreigners, 
owing, it has been supposed, to the quality of the 
waters. Here are found the savage tribes called Mays 
or Kemoys, who are said to worship the sun. The 
mountains contain some iron mines, which are worked ; 
pure gold is also found, and silver has recently been 
discovered. But their principal riches consist in their 
forests, which yield rose-wood, iron-wood (syderoxylori), 
sapan and sandal wood, eagle wood (agallochum) , ebony, 
and calambac (aloexylum verum), the most precious of 
all, on account of the aromatic resin which it yields ; 
also, the tree yielding the gum lac (croton lacciferum), 
various species of dragon's-blood-tree (dracona f erred) , 
the tallow-tree, the teak-tree, and the stately poon 
(callophyllum) , which furnishes excellent ships' masts ; 
besides cedars, mimosas, walnuts, and (in Cambodia) 

* Malte Bran, vol. iii. p. 374. This must be, we apprehend, the 
range of marble rocks which Mr. Crawford met with in his return 
overland from Hu6 to the bay of Turon, near the city of Faifo. 
He represents them as rising almost perpendicularly from the low 
sand-hills to an elevation of from 3 to 400 feet, without a hill or a 
mountain within twenty miles of them. They abound, he adds, 
in splendid cave*, containing temples and images in honour of 

330 AN AM. 

most of the timber trees of India.* The mountain* 
abound with tigers and monkeys. Tsiampa, Malte 
Brun remarks, is more the country of tigers and of 
elephants than of men. 

The plains are exposed to an insupportable degree 
of heat in the months of June, July, and August, ex- 
cept in the places which are refreshed by the sea- 
breezes, f In September, October, and November, 
the plentiful rains, which fall exclusively in the moun- 
tains, swell the numberless rivers with which the 
country is intersected : in an instant, all the plain is 
inundated, and the villages, and even the houses, are so 
many islets. Boats are navigated over the fields and 
hedges, and the children in small barks go out to fish 
for the mice, which cling to the branches of the trees. 
This is the season of inland commerce, large fairs, and 
popular fetes ; but the cattle are sometimes drowned, 
and are picked up by the first who finds them. These 
inundations recur every fifteen or twenty days, and 
last for three or four. From December to February, 
the rains are less violent and frequent, but are accom- 
panied with cold winds from the northern mountains. 
On the coasts, the north-easterly monsoon prevails 
from May to October, and the south-westerly during 
the remainder of the year. 

The low lands in Cochin China produce rice, areca- 
nut, betel, tobacco, indigo, a coarse cinnamon (pre- 
ferred, however, by the Chinese to that of Ceylon), 
pepper, cardamoms, cotton, silk, and sugar. Most of 

Malte Brun, vol. iii. p. 375. Barrow, p. 345. 

t From the beginning of May till the end of August, the ther- 
mometer, at Hue, varies from 70 to 90 Fahr. In July and Au- 
gust, it sometimes rises as high as 1 10 ; but this is rarely the case. 
From September till the end of April, it is from 55 to 75. 

ANAM. 331 

the tropical fruits are produced in great abundance. 
The inundated lands generally produce two crops of 
rice, one of which is reaped in April, the other in May, 
besides which there is the mountain rice. Maize, 
millet, several kinds of beans, and pompions are also 
raised; and wax, honey, ivory, gold dust, and aguila- 
wood are brought down by the mountaineers. The 
islands abound in the edible nests of the salangan 
swallow (hirundo esculentd), which are in so much 
request among the epicures of China. The Cochin 
Chinese have a small breed of horses; also, mules, 
asses, goats, and plenty of poultry. 

The chain of mountains which encircles Cochin 
China, reaches so nearly to the Tongkin Gulf, on the 
northern frontier, as to leave only a narrow defile, 
which, during the separation of the two kingdoms, 
was closed by a strong wall. Another ridge, extend- 
ing eastward, separates Tongkin into two unequal 
divisions, (the northern being considerably the larger,) 
and a prolongation of the same ridge is said to sepa- 
rate Laos from Lactho. Another lateral branch of 
the same plateau separates Tongkin from China. The 
passes are here also closed with walls, one side of which 
is guarded by Chinese soldiers, and the other by Tong- 
kinese. This frontier is represented as almost impe- 
netrable. The mountains are very lofty, and rise into 
sharp peaks. The soil is sandy, gypseous, and ferru- 
ginous That of the plains is in general rich, light, 
and marshy, watered by numberless streams, and of 
boundless fertility. The productions are nearly the 
same as those of Cochin China.* Mulberry-trees are 

* Mr. Crawford says that Tongkin is the only part of the em- 
pire which furnishes the metals. The iron of Tongkin, he says, 
supplies the whole kingdom, except Saigon, which is furnished by 
Siam. Gold and silver mines are also found here. 


332 ANAM. 

plentiful; also, the cocoa-nut and other palms, and 
an inferior sort of tea-plant; but the chief article of 
cultivation is rice. The grape does not come to ma- 
turity. There are neither sheep nor asses, nor hares, 
but deer of all kinds, goats, hogs, and poultry abound. 
The horses are a contemptible breed. The buffalo is 
used for agricultural purposes. The rhinoceros is oc- 
casionally discovered, and elephants are very numerous; 
also tigers, some diminutive bears, and monkeys of 
every description. The mountainous parts are much 
infested with rats, and the whole country swarms with 
vermin, reptiles, and insects, venomous and harmless. 

The population of Tongkin is said to be much 
greater than in any other part of the Anamese empire, 
notwithstanding that it suffered so severely during the 
civil wars. Recent accounts (but little dependence 
can be placed on them) carry the computation as high 
as eighteen millions, while that of Cochin China is stated 
by the missionaries at only six millions. It is, how- 
ever, unquestionably, the most populous and the richest 
province of the empire. Owing to the redundant 
population, vast numbers labour under the most ex- 
treme indigence; and it is computed, that one-tenth 
of the inhabitants of Lower Tongkin live constantly 
on the water. The mountains bordering on China, 
called Kaubang, are inhabited by the Quan-to, an 
ancient race, (as the name imports,) who regard them- 
selves as the original possessors of the country, and 
consider the Anamese as intruders. Their language is 
said to be essentially different from the Anam, (called 
Juan by the Siamese and Malays,) which appears to be 
an original monosyllabical language.* 

* The Anamese employ several sounds, in particular b, d, and 
r, which are'incapable of being pronounced by a Chinese. 


Our chief guides in the topographical description of 
such parts of the empire as have been visited by mo- 
dern travellers, will be Mr. Barrow, who visited Co- 
chin China in 1793; Lieut. White, of the United 
States navy, who made a voyage to Saigon in 1819; 
and Mr. Finlayson, who attended Mr. Crawfurd in 
his mission to the court of Hue* in 1822. 


THE reader has already been conducted from the 
Gulf of Siam to the mouth of the Don-nai or Saigon 
river, which appears to bear in fact the same relation 
to the Mei-kong or Cambodia river, that the Rangoon 
river does to the Irrawaddy.* Including its meander- 
ings, it is a distance of nearly sixty miles from Cape 
St. James to the city of Sai-gon. After passing Dai- 
jang point and the opposite village of Canjeo, the 
river gradually contracts to the breadth of half a mile, 
till, at about nine miles up, it expands into a large 
sheet of water, bearing the appearance of a capacious 
estuary, its surface rippled by the conflicting currents 
of the numerous streams which here flow into the 
Don-nai. This is Nga-bay, called by the Portuguese 

* The river of Cambodia (by the Malays written Camboetsja, 
and pronounced Cambootja) " falls into the sea by three mouths ; 
that of Sai-gong, which, according to the missionaries, is more 
particularly called the river of Cambodia ; one called the Japanese 
river, from being frequented by the junks of Japan ; (the proper 
name is the Bassak ;) and a third, the Mat-siam, which the Dutch 
have called the Onbequame, or the'Inconvenient. The tides extend 
a great way up this river; and it is said that a great lake or inland 
sea is connected with these mouths. The inundations take place 
in June. The beds of the two western channels are full of low 
islands and sand-banks, which render them unfit for being navi- 
gated by large vessels." MALTE BRUN, vol. iii. p. 381. Lieut. 
\Vhite says, that the Anamese call Cambodia Cou-maigne. 

334 AN AM. 

Sete Bocas (seven mouths), from the fact of so many 
entrances to the different rivers being visible from a 
certain point, " presenting long vistas fringed with 
foliage of different shades of verdure, like so many 
radii from a centre." The scene is described as highly 
beautiful. While crossing this noble basin, Lieut. 
White's attention was attracted by a curious and un- 
explained phenomenon. " Our ears," he says, " were 
saluted by a variety of sounds, resembling the deep 
bass of an organ, accompanied by the hollow guttural 
chant of the bull frog, and the tones which imagina- 
tion would give to an enormous Jew's harp. This 
combination produced a thrilling sensation on the 
nerves, and, as we thought, a tremulous motion in 
the vessel. On going into the cabin, I found the 
noise, which I soon ascertained proceeded from the 
bottom of the vessel, increased to a full and uninter- 
rupted chorus. The sensations it produced, were simi- 
lar to those of a torpedo or electric eel ; but, whether 
these feelings were caused by the concussion of sound, 
or by actual vibrations in the body of the vessel, I 
could neither then nor since determine. In a few 
moments, the sounds, which had commenced near the 
stern of the vessel, became general throughout the 
whole length of the bottom. Our linguist informed 
us, that our admiration was caused by a shoal of fish, 
of a flat oval form, like a flounder, which, by a certain 
conformation of the mouth, possesses the power of 
adhesion to other objects in a wonderful degree ; and 
that they are peculiar to the Seven Mouths. Whe- 
ther the noises were produced by any peculiar con- 
struction of the sonorific organs, or by spasmodic 
vibrations of the body, he was ignorant. Very shortly, 
after leaving the basin, a sensible diminution was per- 
ceived in the number of our musical fellow-voyagers ; 

AN AM. 335 

and before we had proceeded a mile, they were no 
more heard." 

The stream now contracts to the breadth of about 
two furlongs, and the current is very rapid; the 
general depth is from eight to fifteen fathoms in 
the middle, and from three to nine close to the bank; 
the bottom a soft ooze throughout. "The principal 
precaution necessary in navigating the Don-nai," 
Lieut. White remarks, "is, to have boats a-head 
of the ship, to tow in calm or light winds, to prevent 
her being drawn into the mouths of the numerous 
streams which communicate with it, and to assist 
in guiding her among the various intersecting currents 
thereby produced." No variation, thus far, is ob- 
servable in the features of the country. Nothing be- 
yond the banks of the river is visible from the deck, 
but from the mast-head might be perceived to the 
eastward, the rugged promontory of Cape St. James, 
and the lofty mountain of Baria, towering high above 
the dark line of unbounded forests which, in every 
other direction, mingled with the horizon. Thousands 
of monkeys and birds of the most beautiful plumage 
are the tenants of the woods. At night, the mosqui- 
toes were found intolerable. About twelve miles 
above the mouth of the principal branch of the Dong- 
thrang river, and about half-way between Canjeo and 
Saigon, is the only dangerous shoal in the Donnai 
river; it is composed of hard coral rocks, which stretch 
out from the eastern bank about half way across the 
river for the distance of more than a mile, having 
three feet water on it at the lowest ebb.* It is the 
haunt of innumerable alligators. Beyond this shoal, 

* Of this nature, probably, are the cataracts which the Dutch 
envoy Wusthof met with in the upper part of the Mei-kong. 
u 2 

336 ANAM. 

another large branch of the river joins the main 
stream. A short distance higher up, the prospect 
expands, and presents, on the left, another stream 
equally capacious with the Don-nai itself, called the 
river of Soirap. In front, and separated from it by the 
distance of a mile, is seen the majestic Rio Grande, 
(as the Portuguese have named it,) of which the Soirap 
is a branch. The latter is shallow and unnavigable 
for ships. Being very rapid, and forming an oblique 
angle with the great river, it produces strong and 
dangerous eddies in this part, and has formed a mud- 
bank on the eastern side of the main stream. Within 
a short distance of the city, scattered cottages and 
patches of cultivated ground, fishing-boats, and a dis- 
tant forest of masts, gave the first indications of human 
habitations which they had observed during the whole 
voyage from Canjeo, except a few huts on one spot 
where a few acres had been cleared of jungle. The 
banks are mostly covered with mangrove.* 


THE city of Sai-gon, the capital of the province of 
Don-nai (or Tsiampa), is one of the most important 
and flourishing places in the empire. Here the late 
king constructed a naval arsenal. There are, in fact, 
two cities here, " each of them," Mr. Finlayson says, 
" as large as the capital of Siam." They are above a 

* Mr. Finlayson, alluding, perhaps, to the same spot, says: 
" We observed no cultivation until we -were within twenty or 
thirty miles of the town." He ascended the river in a barge. 
They continued to row all night, and reached Saigon in fifteen 
hours. The fishing-boats frequently make a passage from the 
sea to Saigon in one tide. The American vessel was between six 
and seven days in accomplishing the navigation. 

ANAM. 337 

mile apart. That which is more recently built, is 
called Bingeh; the other is Saigon. Lieut. White 
gives the following description of both towns as they 
appeared in 1819 : 

" The city of Saigon is situated on a point formed 
by a confluence of two branches of the Donnai river, 
and occupies about six miles of the north bank. The 
population is dense near the river, but scattered at a 
short distance from it. The houses are built princi- 
pally of wood, thatched with palm-leaves or rice-straw, 
and are of one story; some few are of brick, and 
covered with tiles. Those of the higher classes have 
hanging chambers, built under the roof-tree, about 
ten feet wide, extending the whole length of the 
building, with wooden gratings on each side for air, 
to which they ascend by ladders; they are surrounded 
with a court, with a gate towards the street. The 
dwellings of the poor are situated in the streets, and 
generally present a miserable appearance. The streets 
are regularly laid out, generally intersecting each 
other at right angles, and some of them are quite 

In the western part of the city, are two Chinese 
pagodas; and they have a great number of these 
temples in various parts of the city. In a central 
situation is a Christian church, over which two Italian 
missionaries preside, who have several disciples and 

* Mr. Finlayson says : " The houses are large, very wide, and 
for the climate rery comfortable. The roof is tiled, and supported 
on handsome large pillars, of a heavy, durable black wood called 
too. The walls are formed of mud, enclosed in frames of bamboo, 
and plastered. The floor is boarded, and elevated several feet 
from the ground. The houses are placed close to each other, dis- 
posed in straight lines, along spacious and well-aired streets, or on 
the banks of canals. The plan of the streets is superior to that of 
many European capitals." p. 304. 

338 AX AM. 

many converts. The number of Christians in Cochin 
China is 70,000 ; of which number, according to the 
viceroy and the missionaries, the division of Don-nai 
contains 16,000; they are all Roman Catholics. The 
city of Saigon is said to contain 180,000 inhabitants, 
of which about 10,000 are Chinese. 

" Equidistant from the extremities of the city, near 
the bank of the river, are the magazines of rice ; which 
is a regular monopoly, the exportation being prohibited 
on pain of decapitation. The ground is occupied in 
the northern part of the city, for the space of two 
miles, by about three-fifths of a mile square, as a 
repository for the dead. This immense cemetery is 
filled with tombs, built, like those of the Chinese, in 
the form of a horse-shoe : its borders are planted, as 
are many of the streets in the suburbs, with the pal- 
maria-tree. In the north-eastern part of the city, on 
the banks of a deep creek, are the navy-yard and 
naval arsenal. This establishment does more honour 
to the Anamese than any other object in their country; 
indeed, it may vie with many of the naval establish- 
ments in Europe. The ship timber and planks ex- 
celled any thing I had ever seen.* There were about 
150 galleys, of most beautiful construction, hauled up 
under sheds; they were from 40 to 100 feet long, 
some of them mounting sixteen guns of three pounds 
calibre ; others mounted four or six guns each, of from 
four to twelve pounds calibre; all of brass, and most 
beautiful pieces. There were also about forty galleys 

One plank which Lieutenant White measured, was 109 feet 
long, more than four inches thick, and perfectly square to the 
top, where it was two feet wide ; it was sawed out of the trunk of 
a teak-tree, which here attains a most extraordinary magnitude. 
It is not unusual to see trees that would make a natural main- 
mast for a line of battle ship, clear of knots. 

ANAM. 339 

afloat, most of them decorated with gilding and carved 
work, presenting a very animated and pleasing spec- 

" The city of Saigon was formerly confined to the 
western extremity of its present site. The part now 
called old Saigon, bears much greater marks of an- 
tiquity, and exhibits a superior style of architecture. 
Some of the streets are paved with flags; and the 
quays, of stone and brick-work, extend nearly a 
mile along the river. Since the civil wars have ter- 
minated, the tide of population has flowed rapidly to 
the eastward, till it has produced one continued city, 
which has spread itself on the opposite bank of the 
streams on which it is situated, and surrounds the 
citadel and naval arsenal. From the western part of 
the city, a river or canal has been recently cut, to the 
distance of twenty-three English miles, connecting 
with the Meikong, by which a free water communi- 
cation is opened with Cambodia. This canal is twelve 
feet deep throughout, and about 80 feet wide. It was 
cut through immense forests and morasses, in the 
short space of six weeks : twenty-six thousand men 
were employed, night and day, by turns, in this stu- 
pendous undertaking, and 7000 lives were sacrificed 
by fatigue and consequent disease. The banks of 
this canal are already planted with the palmaria-tree, 
which is a great favourite with the Anamese. 

" The site of the citadel of Saigon is the first 
elevated land which occurs in the river, after leaving 
Cape St. James, and this is about 60 feet above the 
level of the river : it was formerly a natural conical 
mound, covered with wood. The grandfather of the 
present monarch caused the top to be taken off and 
levelled, and a deep moat to be sunk, surrounding the 
whole, which was supplied with water from the river 

340 AN AM. 

by means of a canal ; -it is most admirably situated for 
defence, and would be capable of standing a long siege 
against even an European army.* 

" The surrounding country is irriguous, and the 
city is intersected in various parts by creeks, over 
which are thrown bridges, each being a single plank 
of immense magnitude. Saigon is within a few miles 
of the head of the ship-navigation of the river Don- 
nai; it is there interrupted by shoals and sand-banks, 
but is navigable for small craft for a great distance 
inland. This is also the case with the stream washing 
the southern borders of the city, which, with the new 
river, connects the Cambodia and Don-nai rivers." 


IN their description of the appearance and character 
of the natives, the American lieutenant and the 
British surgeon are unaccountably at variance. The 
former speaks of " men, women, children, swine, and 
mangy dogs, equally filthy and miserable in appear- 
ance." The women, he describes as " coarse, dingy, 
and devoid of decency;" and the " rude curiosity" of 
the crowd by which they were annoyed, they were 
frequently obliged to chastise with their canes. " The 
young females of Cochin China," he says, " are fre- 
quently -handsome, and some even beautiful, before 
their teeth, tongue, gums, and lips become stained 

* " This fortress is furnished with a regular glacis, a -wet ditch, 
and a high rampart, and commands the whole country. It is of a 
square form, and each side is about half a mile in extent. It is in 
an unfinished state, no embrasures being made, nor cannon 
mounted on the rampart. The zig-zag is very short, the passage 
into the gate straight ; the gates are handsome, and ornamented 
in the Chinese style." Finlayson, p. 312. The fortifications of 
Saigon were constructed in 1790, by Colonel Victor Oliver. 

ANAM. 341 

with their detestable masticatory; the children of both 
sexes, however, begin this practice at a very early age. 
They are by nature finely formed; but their symme- 
trical proportions are distorted and disguised by their 
dirty habits:* a woman at thirty is an object of disgust, 
and, at forty, is absolutely hideous." Their traders 
are charged universally with meanness, fraud, and vil- 
lany; and Cochin China is pronounced the least desir- 
able country for mercantile adventurers, f 

Mr. Finlayson, who would naturally compare the 
appearance and manners of the people with those of 

* In their persons, the Cochin Chinese are, on all hands, ad- 
mitted to be not a cleanly people. Many of their customs are 
extremely disgusting. Those ablutions so much practised by all 
the -western Asiatics, are unknown among them ; and their dress 
is not washed from the time it is first put on, till it is no longer fit 
for use. In their food, they are any thing but nice, eating mice, 
rats, frogs, -worms, and other vermin ; and the entrails of pigs, 
fowls, deer, &c. are broiled and eaten, with no other cleansing than 
slightly rinsing them. Putrid meat and fish are generally pre- 
ferred to sweet. Fresh eggs are despised; those that have become 
to a certain degree putrid, fetch thirty per cent more in the market ; 
and if they contain young ones, they are still more highly esteemed. 
Among the numerous dishes sent to Mr. Crawfurd by the king, 
while they were at Hu6, were two plates of hatched eggs, containing 
young that were already fledged ; and they were assured that this 
was-meant as a compliment, it being considered as a great delicacy. 
The Tongkinese are equally gross in their food. Horse-flesh is 
exposed for sale. Dogs are esteemed a delicacy. Monkeys, grass- 
hoppers, lizards, mountain-rats, and snakes are also eaten. May- 
bugs deprived of their heads and intestines, and silk worms fried, 
are a bonne-bouche. Milk, butter, and cheese are their aversion. 

t That Lieutenant White, disappointed in his sugar-speculation, 
viewed every thing with a jaundiced eye, is very evident. " In 
vain," he says, " does the traveller look for glazed windou-t, so 
indispensable for the comfort of a European. The clumsy wooden 
shutters must be thrown open for light !" His expectations seem 
to have been the more unreasonable, as there are parts of the 
United States in which this indispensable comfort cannot be en- 

342 ANAM. 

the Siamese, whom he had so recently visited, describes 
them in much more favourable terms. " The man- 
ners of the people" (of Kan-dyu or Cangeo), he says, 
" were in general polite, I might say refined ; they 
were kind, attentive, and obliging: they courted, 
rather than shunned our society, and seemed to have 
less of the weakness or ostentation of natural pride 
than any of the tribes we had yet met. Their curiosity 
was naturally excited by the contrast which they 
could not but draw between themselves and us; but in 
the gratification of this feeling, or in its expression, 
was neither coarseness nor absence of good breeding; 
and the greatest liberty they ventured to assume, was 
that of simply touching our dress, with the design, I 
presume, of ascertaining the materials of its texture, 
they themselves having little notion of any other fit 
for this purpose than silk, in which all ranks are 
almost exclusively clothed. 

" They are good-natured, polite, attentive, and 
indulgent to strangers. Their manners are agreeable, 
and they are, for the most part, found in a lively, 
playful humour, and strongly disposed to indulge in 
mirth. They are the gayest of Orientals; yet, the 
transition from mirth to sorrow and the more hateful 
and mean passions, seems to cost them nothing; it is 
as rapid as it is unaccountable, insomuch that to a 
stranger their conduct appears quite unreasonable as 
well as fickle. Like the monkey race, their attention 
is perpetually changing from one object to another. 
The houses are large and comfortable, constructed in 
general with mud walls, and roofed with tiles. The 
palm-leaf is but little used. The interior disposition 
of the house is somewhat peculiar. About one half 
forms an open hall, in which they receive visitors, 
transact business, and, if shopkeepers, dispose their 

ANAM. 343 

wares. In the back part of this hall is placed an altar, 
with other emblems of religion. The private apart- 
ments are disposed in recesses behind ; these are in 
the form of square chambers, open on one side only. 
Their beds are formed of a bench, raised about a foot, 
and covered with mats. 

" The costume of the Cochin Chinese is more 
convenient than elegant. In both sexes it is much 
alike, consisting of two or more loose gowns with long 
sleeves, reaching to the knee, and buttoned close 
round the neck. Beneath this, they wear a pair of 
wide pantaloons, and, on occasions of ceremony, per- 
sons of distinction throw a large black mantle of 
flowered silk over the whole. The head is covered 
with a turban of crape ; that of the men is in general 
black. Over the turbans, females wear a large hat, 
similar to a basket. Dress is, with all ranks, an object 
of great attention ; even the poorest among them are 
clothed from head to foot, and the populace thus make 
a more decent and respectable appearance than other 
eastern nations." 

Again, at Saigon, the crowd conducted themselves 
with order, decency, and respect, as pleasing as it was 
novel ; a numerous guard of soldiers, however, armed 
with lances, were then present. All of the people 
were dressed, the greater part in a very comfortable 
manner. Their small stature, combined with the 
rotundity of their face and the liveliness of their fea- 
tures, was very striking. An early visit to the market- 
places served to confirm the observations which the 
author had made on the manners of the people. The 
Cochin Chinese cannot, he says, be considered as in 
any way handsome ; " yet, among the females, there 
are many that are even handsome as well as remark- 

344 ANAM. 

ably fair ; and their manners are engaging, without 
possessing any of that looseness of character which, 
according to the relation of French travellers, prevails 
among this people." More regard, however, it is 
admitted, is paid to decorum than to chastity ; at least 
among the unmarried females, who are liable to no 
disgrace or stigma in consequence of conduct held 
infamous in civilised society, and for which, after 
marriage, they would even there be punishable. 

" Here, as in Siam, the more laborious occupations 
are often performed by women, and the boats upon 
the river are in general rowed by them. A practice, 
as ungallant as it is unjust, prevails both here and in 
Siam ; that of making females only to pay for being 
ferried across rivers, the men passing always free. 
The reason alleged for the practice is, that the men 
are all supposed to be employed on the king's service. 
It is lamentable to observe how large a proportion of 
the men in this country are employed in occupations 
that are totally unproductive to the state, as well as 
subversive of national industry. Every petty man- 
darin is attended by a multitude of persons." 

" Such commodities as are used by the natives, were 
to be found in great abundance in every bazar. No 
country, perhaps, produces more betel or areca-nut 
than this ; betel-leaf less abundantly. Fish, salted 
and fresh ; sweet potatoes, of excellent quality ; In- 
dian corn ; the young shoots of the bamboo, prepared by 
boiling ; rice, in the germinating state ; coarse sugar ; 
plantains, oranges, pumeloes, custard-apples, pome- 
granates, and tobacco were to be had in the greatest 
quantity. Pork is sold in every bazar, and poultry of 
an excellent description is very cheap. Alligator's 
flesh is held 'in great esteem, and our Chinese inter- 

ANAM. 345 

preter states that dog's flesh is sold here. The shops 
are of convenient size, in which the wares are disposed 
to the best advantage. One circumstance it was im- 
possible to overlook, as it exhibits a marked difference 
of taste and manners in this people from that of the 
nations of India. Articles of European manufacture 
have, amongst the latter, in many instances, usurped 
the use of their own ; and you can scarcely name any 
thing of European manufacture which is not to be had 
in the bazars. Here, with the sole exception of three 
or four case bottles, of coarse glass, there was no 
article whatever to be found that bore the least resem- 
blance to any thing European. A different standard 
of taste prevails. A piece of cotton cloth was scarcely 
to be seen. Crapes, satins, and silks are alone in use, 
the greater number of them the manufacture of China 
or of Tongkin, there being, in fact, little or no manu- 
facturing industry here. The articles which they 
themselves had made, were not numerous. I may spe- 
cify the following : handsome and coarse mats, matting 
for the sails of boats and junks, coarse baskets, gilt 
and varnished boxes, umbrellas, handsome silk purses, 
in universal use, and carried both by men and women, 
iron nails, and a rude species of scissors. Every thing 
else was imported from the surrounding countries. 
In exchange, their territory affords rice in abundance, 
cardamoms, peppe^, sugar, ivory, betel, &c. There 
are a few wealthy Chinese who carry on an extensive 
trade here ; the bulk of the people are miserably poor, 
and but few amongst them are in a condition to trade 
but upon the most limited scale. Few of the shops in 
the bazars appear to contain goods of greater value 
than might be purchased for forty or sixty dollars, 
and the greater number are not worth half that sum. 
It is difficult to conceive that a population so extensive 

346 ANAM. 

can exist together in this form, with trade on so small 
a scale." 

Nothing could exceed the civility and hospitality 
with which Mr. Crawfurd and the other gentlemen 
who accompanied him were treated both by the man- 
darins and the people of Saigon ; they were enter- 
tained with shows and plays, and a fight between a 
tiger and an elephant was got up for their special 
amusement. Such a scene would not have been tole- 
rated in the dominions of his majesty the white 
elephant. The combat was most unequal ; the tiger 
was muzzled, and his claws had been torn out ; yet, 
the first elephant was wounded and put to flight. At 
length, the tosses which the tiger received at the tusks 
of his successive antagonists, (their trunks being cau- 
tiously rolled up under the chin,) terminated his life. 
When he was perfectly dead, an elephant was brought 
up, who, instead of raising him on his tusks, seized 
him with his trunk and threw him to the distance of 
thirty feet. 

After Mr. Finlayson had visited Turon Bay and the 
capital, and further intercourse with the natives had 
brought to light additional traits of character, and 
given him an opportunity of gaining a more intimate 
knowledge of their physical form and habits, he thus 
sums up his observations : 

" In point of stature, the Cochin Chinese are, 
perhaps, of all the various tribes that belong to this 
race, the most diminutive. We remarked, that they 
want the transverse breadth of face of the Malays, 
the cylindrical form of the cranium, as well as the 
protuberant and expanded coronoid process of the 
lower jaw of the Siamese, and the oblique eyes of the 
Chinese. In common with all of these, they have a 
scanty, grisly, straggling beard ; coarse, lank, black 

ANAM. 347 

hair ; small, dark eyes ; a yellowish complexion ; a 
squat, square form ; and stout extremities."* 

" The globular form of the cranium, and the 
orbicular shape of the face, are peculiarly character- 
istic of the Cochin Chinese. The head projects more 
backwards than in the Siamese ; it is smaller, and 
more symmetrical in regard to the body, than in 
the tribes already noticed ; and the transverse dia- 
meters, both of the occiput and the sinciput, are very 
nearly equal. The forehead is short and small, the 
cheeks round, the lower part of the face broad. The 
whole countenance is, in fact, very nearly round ; and 
this is more particularly striking in the women, who 
are reckoned beautiful in proportion as they approach 
this form of face. The eyes are small, dark, and 
round. They want the tumid, incumbent eyelid of 
the Chinese; and hence they derive a sprightliness 
of aspect unknown to the latter. The nose is small, 
but well formed. The mouth is remarkably large; 
the lips are prominent, but not thick. The beard is 
remarkably scanty, yet they cultivate it with the 
greatest care. There are amongst them those who 
can number scarcely one dozen of hairs upon the chin, 
or on the whole of the lower jaw. That on the upper 
lip is somewhat more abundant. The neck is for 
the most part short. Before quitting this part of the 
subject, I may remark, that there is in the form of 
the head a degree of beauty, and in the expression 
of the countenance a degree of harmony, spright- 
liness, intelligence, and good humour, which we 

* Of twenty-one persons, taken chiefly from the class of soldiers, 
the average height was five feet three inches. Few are of a very 
black complexion. Many of the females, in particular, are stated 
to be as fair as the generality of the inhabitants of the south of 

348 AN AM. 

should look for in vain either in the Chinese or the 

" The shape of the body and limbs in the Cochin 
Chinese, differs but little from that of the tribes 
already noticed. The chest is short, large, and well 
expanded ; the loins broad ; the upper extremities are 
long, but well formed ; the lower are short, and re- 
markably stout. There is this remarkable difference 
from the others of the same race, that here the ten- 
dency to obesity is of rare occurrence. The limbs, 
though large, are not swollen with fat. The mus- 
cular system is large and well developed, and the leg 
in particular is almost always large and well formed. 
The Cochin Chinese, though a laughing, are not a fat 

" Though living in not merely a mild, but a warm 
climate, the partiality for dress is universal. There 
is no one, however mean, but is clothed at least from 
the head to the knee. Nor is it comfort and conve- 
nience alone that they study : they are not above the 
vanity of valuing themselves on the smartness of their 
dress, a failing which often leads them into extra- 
vagance. The principal and most expensive article 
in their dress is the turban. That of the men is made 
of black crape, that of the women of blue. On occa- 
sions of mourning, it is made of white crape. 

" A loose jacket, somewhat resembling a large 
shirt, but with wide sleeves, reaching nearly to the 
knee, and buttoning on the right side, constitutes the 
principal covering of the body. Two of these, the 
under one of white silk, are generally worn, and they 
increase the number according to their circumstances 
and the state of the weather. Women wear a dress 
but little different from this, though lighter, and both 
wear a pair of wide pantaloons of various colours. 

ANAM. 349 

The dress of the poorer class is made of coarse cotton, 
but this is not very common, coarse silks being more 
in vogue. Those of China and Tongkin are worn by 
the more opulent classes. Shoes also are worn only 
by the wealthy, and are of Chinese manufacture ; 
clogs, in fact, rather than shoes."* 

The Tongkinese wear a long robe reaching to the 
heels, tied with a girdle or sash. Persons of rank 
have a robe of silk, and a cap of the same material. 
The lower classes wear the large Cochin Chinese hat. 
While subject to China, the Tongkinese were com- 
pelled to tuck up their hair in token of sxibjection. 
On recovering their independence, both sexes adopted 
the custom of letting it hang over their shoulders ; a 
practice which the close-shaven bonzes, however, dis- 
countenance and ridicule. 

Mr. Finlayson describes the Cochin Chinese as a 
nation almost without any religion whatever : " at 
all events, they derive no moral feeling from this 
source." Yet, he elsewhere remarks, that " in every 
house, and every building, whether public or private, 
even in the slightest temporary sheds, is placed some- 
thing to remind you of religion, or, to speak more 
accurately, of the superstitious disposition of the 
people. And as the emblems of this nature have, for 
the most part, a brilliant appearance, they produce a 
striking effect." They have, however, neither reli- 
gious instructors nor priests. In vain do we look 
here for the rhahaans of Birmah, or the talapoins of 

* The lower orders sometimes wear a jacket made of palm- 
leaves closely sewed together, having the appearance of a shaggy 
skin ; a hat, between two and three feet in diameter, shaped like 
& basket, comei down over the shoulders; and, thus protected, 
they suffer little inconvenience from the rains. 

350 AN AM. 

Siam.* Although Fo is an object of worship, the 
traces of Buddhism are much fainter and more indis- 
tinct here, than in the other Indo-Chinese kingdoms. 
They do not appear to believe in metempsychosis. 
The better sort, Mr. Finlayson says, affect to follow 
the precepts of Confucius. The adoration of ancestors 
seems, however, to be the most prevalent supersti- 
tion ; and this the government is said to foster. The 
more barbarous rites of the aborigines, who worship- 
ped the elephant, the dog, and the tiger, are not yet 
extinct. -f- In general, if religion is ever thought of, 
u it consists in the ceremony of placing on a rude 
altar, some bits of meat and a few straws covered with 
the dust of scented wood ; or in scattering to the 
winds a few scraps of paper covered with gold foil ; 
or in sticking a piece of writing on a post, a door, or 
a tree."J You inquire, in vain, for the motives of 

* In Tongkin, however, they have schools in every village, in 
which children are taught to read and write, but no superior col- 

t Lieut. White explored a rude hovel, " dedicated to the evil 
spirit," erected on Dai-jang Point. It contained two apartments. 
" The entrance to the first room was from the platform, through 
a large doorway. It was about fifteen feet square. At the further 
end was a sort of table of hewn planks, on one side of which was 
seated a small wooden idol, with an elephant's proboscis, not un- 
like some of the objects of Hindoo worship, but of most rude and 
disproportionate manufacture. On the other side of the table was 
the model of a junk, about two and a half feet long; and on the 
table was placed a brazen censer, and an earthen vessel half filled 
with ashes, in which were stuck a number of matches, the upper 
ends of which had been burnt. Several other small images, 
mostly broken and otherwise mutilated, were lying about in con- 
fusion. The back room was of smaller dimensions, and contained 
no object of curiosity. In fact, the whole establishment was in a 
ruinous state, and appeared to be seldom visited." 

In the woods in the suburbs of Saigon, Lieut. White says, 
hat he frequently saw miniature houses erected on four posts, with 

ANAM- 351 

such acts. The objects of their fear are as numerous 
as they are hideous. One form of superstition is ob- 
served by seafaring people; another by those who 
live on the coast ; and a third by those inhabiting 
agricultural districts. 

" In a sequestered spot in the environs of the 
city," (Saigon,) says Lieut. White, " at the further 
end of a romantic pathway, amid the foliage of various 
kinds of beautiful trees, we arrived at the largest 
pagoda we had yet seen in the country, situated on a 
small mound, apparently artificial. It was of brick, 
covered with tile, and in a totally different style from 
others in the city. It bore traces of great antiquity, 
which, with its immense proportions, and a certain 
air of Gothic grandeur and druidical seclusion, were 
admirably calculated to inspire involuntary awe, and 
to render it a proper retreat for the most rigid 
ascetic. An old priest with a grey beard, but not 
otherwise distinguishable from the laity, accompanied 
by a young aspirant, advanced a few steps to meet us, 
and received us with great appearance of cordiality ; 
and, when informed by the linguist that our object 
was curiosity to see the temple, he readily proceeded 
to gratify us. In front of the pile were suspended 
four bells of different sizes and tones, and of the form, 
and arranged in the manner, heretofore mentioned. 
We entered by a door near the eastern angle, and 
were ushered into a small apartment, where were 
suspended from the walls several articles of clothing, 
which appeared to be the vestments of the priests. 
From this, by a side door, we entered a spacious ves- 
tibule, separated from the nave of the church by a 
massy partition of polished wood in pannel work. In 

an idol sitting in the interior, and offerings of fruit and cooked 
dishes placed before it. 


352 ANAM. 

this place were three immense drums, mounted on 
frames, and on a table a small brass idol, with an 
elephant's proboscis, before which was a brazen censer 
filled with matches, one end of each of which had 
been burned. The priest then threw open a large 
door in the partition, and led the way into the body 
of the temple. There was no light besides what was 
admitted through the door by which we had entered, 
and that was barely sufficient to render ' darkness 
visible:' our eyes were, however, enabled to penetrate 
the gloom sufficiently to ascertain that its interior 
proportions were commensurate with the idea that 
we had formed from its exterior. Several groupes of 
idols, of hideous, and some of colossal proportions, 
were visible through the dim twilight that pervaded 
the temple, and seemed to render them still more 
hideous and unearthly. In fact, the recollections of 
this exhibition are more like the traces of an indis- 
tinct and feverish dream, than reality. It would be 
as futile to attempt any description of the various 
monstrosities in this pantheon of pagan divinities, as 
it would be to repeat their several genealogies, his- 
tories, exploits, &c., as delivered to us by the priest, 
through the medium of Polonio. Their divinities, 
however, were not treated with any great veneration 
by these guardians of the temple. 4 This fellow,' the 
old priest would say, taking hold of the hoof of an 
ox on the bust of a man with an elephant's head, 
' was famous for his gallantries ; and this one, 
tweaking a tremendous nose on a human head, stuck 
upon the body of what appeared to be intended for a 
tiger, ' was celebrated for destroying wild beasts ;' and 
his history of the capricious amours of some of their 
deities, no longer excited any wonder at the pro- 
duction of these anomalies. 

ANAM. 353 

" A more direct engine," continues ]\Ir. Finlayson, 
" than that of religion itself, has modified, if not formed, 
the moral character of the people ; it is that of an 
avaricious, illiberal, and despotic government, the effect 
of which, so sedulously pursued through a course of 
ages, it is melancholy and revolting to human nature 
to contemplate. It has involved the whole body of the 
people in perpetual and insurmountable poverty; it 
has debased the mind ; it has destroyed every generous 
feeling ; it has crushed in the bud the early aspira- 
tions of genius ; it has cast a blasting influence over 
every attempt at improvement. Such being the cha- 
racter of the government, it will not appear surprising 
that the moral character of the people should in many 
respects be brutalised. What is defective in their 
character, has been occasioned by perpetual slavery and 
oppression ; yet, notwithstanding all this, they dis- 
play traits of moral feeling, ingenuity, and acuteness, 
which, under a liberal government, would seem capable 
of raising them to an elevated rank amongst nations. 
But they are perpetually reminded of the slavery under 
which they exist ; the bamboo is constantly at work, and 
every petty paltry officer, every wretch who can claim 
precedence over another, is at liberty to inflict lashes 
on those under him. But the tameness with which 
they submit to this degrading discipline, alike appli- 
cable to the people as to the military, is the most 
extraordinary circumstance. Their obedience is un- 
limited, nor do they, by word or by action, manifest the 
slightest resistance to the arbitrary decisions of tlieir 
tyrants. It will not appear surprising that this system 
should render them cunning, timid, deceitful, and 
regardless of truth ; that it should make them con- 
ceited, impudent, clamorous, assuming, arid tyrannical, 
where they imagine they can be so with impunity. 

354 ANAM. 

Their clamorous boldness is easily seen through, and 
the least opposition or firmness reduces them to the 
meanest degree of submission and fawning. 

" Such are the more revolting traits' in their cha- 
racter ; they are in a great measure counterbalanced 
by a large share of others that are of a more amiable 
stamp. They are mild, gentle, and inoffensive in 
their character, beyond most nations. Though ad- 
dicted to theft, the crime of murder is almost unknown 
amongst them.* To strangers, they are affable, kind, 
and attentive ; and in their conduct, they display a 
degree of genuine politeness and urbanity quite un- 
known to the bulk of the people in other parts of 
India. They are, besides, lively and good-humoured, 
playful and obliging. Towards each other, their con- 
duct is mild and unassuming"; but the omission of 
accustomed forms or ceremonies, the commission of 
the slightest fault, imaginary or real, is followed by 
immediate punishment. The bamboo is the universal 
antidote against all their failings. 

" The Cochin Chinese are more industrious than 
we should be apt to suspect, considering the oppressive 
nature of the government. Where the government 
interferes but little, as in the fisheries on the coast,their 
industry is indeed very conspicuous, and there seems 
every reason to believe that, were they freed from op- 
pression, they would be equally so in other branches. 
They are capable of supporting a large share of fatigue ; 
and the quantum of daily labour, as for instance in 
the operation of rowing, or of running, is in general 
very considerable. But the greatest obstacle to the 
development of industry proceeds from the oppressive 

* Lieutenant White says, that murders are now by no means 
unfrequent, especially by poison. 

ANAM. 355 

nature of the military system, by which about two- 
thirds of the male population are compelled to serve 
as soldiers, at a low and inadequate rate of pay. Of 
all the grievances they labour under, it would appear 
that they consider this the most oppressive. It not 
only takes from agriculture and other occupations, the 
hands necessary for such labours, but by the idle habits 
which the military service generates in the men, it 
renders them unfit to return to that condition of life. 
The consequence of this system may easily be con- 
jectured, though not perhaps to the full extent. Almost 
all kinds of labour are performed by women, whom it 
is not unusual to see guiding the plough and sowing 
the seed. Besides, the labour of women is paid for at 
an equal rate with that of the men. The daily wages 
for either is one mas and their food, or two mas, with- 
out it. Another great evil arising out of the military 
system of levy, consists in the destruction of family 
connexions and ties. From the age of seventeen to 
twenty, a selection of the youth is made for military 
service, from which there is no retiring until age 
or infirmity has rendered them incapable of further 
service. It is true that, from time to time, they are 
allowed to return to their homes on leave of absence ; 
but it is to be feared that a temporary residence of 
this nature affords a feeble barrier to the unsocial 
tendency of the system." 

In the administration of justice, the utmost venality 
prevails. All capital crimes, except adultery, are 
punished by decollation. In that case, the parties are 
bound together, back to back, and thrown off a bridge 
into the river. Theft, though a capital crime, is uni- 
versally prevalent. Yet, the police is conducted on 
" an excellent plan," one of the most respectable in- 
habitants being made responsible for the good order 

356 ANAM. 

of every street. Riots and disturbances are conse- 
quently very rare. Minor crimes are punished by 
imprisonment, flagellation, and the caungue. Poly- 
gamy and concubinage are universal, and are under no 
restriction ; but a man " seldom takes more than three 
wives, one of which is always paramount : the children 
of all are equally legitimate. The marriage-festival 
lasts, according to the rank and means of the parties, 
from three to nine days. Their colour for mourning is 
white. In their funerals and funereal fetes, their mag- 
nificent coffins, the superstitious selection of particular 
spots for interment, and the festivals in honour of an- 
cestors, the Anamese copy the Chinese, or perhaps dis- 
cover an original affinity to that nation. Their dress, 
too, bears a general resemblance to that of the Chinese, 
prior to the Tatar invasion. Like the Chinese, they have 
no real coin, except the brass (or tutenague} money called 
sepecs (sapuca), rather smaller than an English shil- 
ling, and very brittle : 60 sepecs make one mace, and 
10 mace (600 sepecs) one quan or khwan. Both these 
are imaginary money. In 1764, a quan exchanged 
against a Spanish dollar, or two rupees. The value 
of 21 Spanish dollars ; n sepecs of tutenague, weighs 
150 Ibs. This currency, therefore, is most incommo- 
dious. Ingots of gold and silver, however, are the more 
common medium of exchange : their value as money 
is determined by an impression stamped upon them. 
Their weights have the same denomination as in 
China. The cattee is equal to a pound and a half 
English, and 100 cattees make apicul of 150 Ibs. Their 
bushel is equal to 39 quarts. 

We have thus brought together the substance of the 
information we possess relative to the Anamese, in this 
place, because most of the observations were collected 
at Saigon. From their vicinity to China, and the in- 

ANAM. 357 

timate connexion that has at different periods subsisted 
between the two countries, the Chinese character, as 
well as literature, has been extensively introduced; 
and whatever strongly-marked features of dissimilarity 
may originally have existed, have been softened down 
or effaced. The Chinese scattered about the kingdom, 
maintain, indeed, a distinctive character. " These 
industrious and enterprising people," says Mr. Finlay- 
son, " are the butchers, the tailors, the confectioners, 
and the pedlars of Cochin China ; they are met with 
in every bazar and in every street, with their elastic 
pole carried across their shoulders, at each end of 
which is suspended a basket filled with their various 
commodities ;* they are also the bankers and money- 
changers, and a great part of the circulating medium 
of the country passes through their hands." But the 
superior industry of the Chinese, both in Cochin 
China and in Siam, is partly accounted for by their 
exemption from the military conscription. In Cochin 
China, every man is a soldier, and even the commer- 
cial and mercantile operations, as well as all the native 
manufactures, are carried on by the women : they are 
the husbandmen, the mariners, and the merchants. 
Political causes have thus had a powerful influence on 
the national character. Nor do the Chinese differ 
more widely from the Anamese in the particulars re- 
ferred to, than, in Spain, the Galician differs from 
the Murcian, or than tribes of the same family are 
often found to be distinguished in habits, dialect, and 

The proper Anam written character is said greatly 
to resemble the Siamese. The language, in its con- 
struction, approaches nearer also to the Thay (or 

* Some of them are itinerant cooks, who carry in this way 
various dishes ready-dressed for the table. 

358 ANAM. 

Siamese) and the Malayu, than it does to the Chinese", 
although its vocabulary has borrowed more from the 
latter language, and bears little resemblance to that of 
Siam. In common with other monosyllabic languages, 
its essential poverty renders it necessary to use the 
primary monosyllables in a varying signification, de- 
termined solely by the accent ; and a diversity of 
dialect is produced merely by a difference of accentu- 
ation. Thus, Dr. Leyden has given a list of sixteen 
languages spoken in China, the Khunn, or mandarin 
language, varying considerably from the Kong-tong^ or 
language of Canton.* Whether the Anam may not 
be included among them, it is at present impossible to 
ascertain : he was inclined to consider it as wholly 
distinct and original. 

We must now hasten to complete, so far'as our mate- 
rials will enable us, our topographical description. 

From Saigon, Mr. Crawfurd proceeded to Turon Bay, 
which receives the waters of a river on which is situ- 
ated the city of Fai-Foh, once the centre of the com- 
merce of Cochin China. -f- 

* Asiat Res. vol. x. p. 267- Mr. Barrow declares that scarcely 
two provinces in China have the same colloquial language. 

f " On arriving at Faifo, we were surprised to find the recent 
ruins of a large city, the streets laid out on a regular plan, paved 
with flat stone, and well-built brick houses on each side. But, 
alas ! there was now little more remaining than the outward walls, 
within which, in a few places, you might behold a wretch who 
formerly was the possessor of a palace, sheltering himself from the 
weather in a miserable hut of straw and bamboos. Of the few 
edifices left entire, one was a wooden bridge built upon piles, over a 
narrow arm of the river, with a tiled roof. The temples and their 
wooden gods were no further molested than by being robbed of 
their bells, which, I understood the present usurper, with the 
purpose of coining them into money. The course of the river 
from Turon to Faifo was a little to the eastward of South." (The 
voyage occupied fourteen hours.) CHAPMAN'S Voyage to Cochin 
China, 1778. Asiatic Journ. vol. iv. p. 15. 

ANAM. 359 


THIS magnificent bay, which resembles a fine, tran- 
quil lake, is surrounded almost entirely with bold and 
lofty hills, clothed with wood to their very summit. 
Compared, however, with the more luxuriant vege- 
tation of the southern provinces, the aspect of the 
country is sterile, and the general effect, Mr. Finlayson 
describes as falling short of his expectation. Extensive 
sandy beaches surround the shore, except where they 
are rendered more bold by the projection of granitic 
rocks. In point of scenery, he says, it is greatly infe- 
rior to that of Trincomalee, to which the absence of 
cultivated land and the deficiency of human habita- 
tions assimilate it. Here and there, on the shores 
of the bay, are to be found the huts of a few wretched 
creatures who live by fishing ; but neither the betel, 
nor the cocoa-nut, nor a palm of any description is to 
be seen, nor, except a few acres of rice-ground, any 
signs of agriculture. Every thing indicates an un- 
grateful soil. Yet, the great extent of the circular 
basin, the serrated tops of the mountain ridges, par- 
tially enveloped in mists, the number of Chinese 
junks and other boats that are always to be seen 
sailing to and fro, and the bold forms of a few rocks, 
confer upon this harbour a peculiar interest.* 

* See the plate. Before the harbour, on a low peninsula, is a 
large mass of brown marble rocks, resembling, at a distance, a 
heap of ruins ; and on the point is a remarkable rock, bearing a 
strong resemblance to a lion couchant, as if about to spring into 
the sea ; and what renders the illusion more complete, the head, 
at the seat of the eye, is perforated. Turon Bay is in lat 16 7' N. 
The peninsular promontory of Turon (or Hansan), together with 
Callao Island, was the price demanded by France, in the treaty 
negotiated by Bishop Adran, for her assistance. This peninsula, 
Mr. Barrow observes, is to Cochin China, " what Gibraltar is to 

360 ANAM. 

Vast numbers of boats were seen plying off the 
coast in the open sea, indicating the existence of a 
numerous population. " These boats are in shape 
similar to those of the Malays, but are differently 
rigged, having a large square-shaped sail in the mid- 
dle, and one, somewhat similar, at each end ; at a 
distance they look like small ships. Several hundreds 
of them are sometimes in sight, all under sail. With 
scarcely a rag of clothes to cover them, without either 
house or home, other than that which their frail 
bark, covered with a sorry matting, affords, with a 
scanty supply of poor, and perhaps unwholesome food ; 
in this way does a numerous, but wretched popula- 
tion lead a life of misery. The more barbarous of 
the Orang Laut are not more squalid or more 
wretched, than many of the fishing tribes that occupy 
the coasts of Cochin China. The facility with which 
subsistence, though a miserable one, is to be procured 
in this occupation, will account for the great numbers 
that are engaged in fishing. It requires no funds, 
and but little industry, to put a family in the 
way of providing for itself. Hence, every boat is 
for the most part the residence of a single family ; 
and as the source from which they derive their sub- 
sistence it inexhaustible, there appears to be no 
limit to the increase of marriages amongst them. 
A man of ordinary industry is capable of construct- 

Spain, with this difference in favour of the former, that, to its 
impregnability, it adds the important advantage of a convenient 
and well-sheltered port and harbour. On the peninsula is a suf- 
ficient extent of level surface for a small town, with a naval 
arsenal and magazines of every description ; the whole capable 
of being rendered perfectly defensible by a handful of men. The 
small island of Callao, about thirty miles south of Turon Bay, 
completely commands the entrance to the river and city of Faifoe, 
the ancient mart for foreign commerce." BARROW, p. 335. 

ANAM. 361 

ing, with his own hands, the machinery and mate- 
rials necessary for the existence of himself and fam-ly. 
Of these, the boat is the principal and an indispensable 
part ; and here we observe a much cheaper and easier 
mode of constructing them than is generally adopted 
throughout these seas. The practice of hollowing out 
single trees must be painful, tedious, and difficult. 
The Cochin Chinese have substituted in its stead a 
sort of basket-work, of very close texture, of which 
they form both the bottom and the greater part of the 
sides of the boat. This close basket-work, or matting, 
is made of split rattans, and being stretched upon the 
frame, is well covered with pitch. The upper work 
is, however, formed of one or two planks, and the boat 
is further strengthened by a deck of the same mate- 
rials. In the centre, there is a small space covered 
with matting, the sole accommodation of the occu- 
piers; bamboos serve for masts; the bark of trees is 
made into tackling ; a few mats, sewed together, are 
the only sails ; all of which, as well as fishing-nets and 
lines, are made by every man for his own use. Thus 
equipped, they launch into the deep, carrying with them 
all that they possess, and wander from bay to bay in 
quest of a subsistence, which their squalid and wretched 
forms would lead us to believe to be precarious and 
inadequate. Though, for the most part, under the 
shelter of a bold and rocky coast, they are to be found 
at times far out at sea. The night and their idle 
time are invariably spent under the shade of trees, or 
on some sandy beach. Here they indolently saunter 
away their time, till necessity again calls for exertion. 
Their share of toil may be considered moderate, the 
stmcture of their boats being such as to admit of 
their sailing with all winds, and in every direction." 
The village of Turon lies nearly three miles from 

362 ANAM. 

the usual place of anchorage. The approach is through 
an' extensive shallow bank, guarded by a respectable 
fort. The houses appeared neat and clean, but there 
is little or no culture of any sort ; the bazar is an 
indifferent one. 

Two narrow barges, containing forty rowers each, 
but with very paltry accommodations, were sent from 
Hue, to convey the British Agent to the capital. It 
appears to have been the object of the Cochin Chinese 
government, to strip the mission from the Governor- 
general as much as possible of an imposing, or even a 
respectable appearance, that they might treat it ac- 
cordingly; owing, at least in part, to his not being 
the bearer of any letter from the British monarch, but 
only from a viceroy. 


THE mouth of the river of Hue (or Hoa) is nar- 
rowed by extensive sand -banks. After passing the 
bar, on which there are between sixteen and eighteen 
feet at high water, you seem to have entered a vast 
fresh-water lake, and to be completely excluded from 
the sea. The scenery now becomes very interesting. 
Islands covered with cultivation are visible at a dis- 
tance ; several vast rivers appear to pour their waters 
into one basin ; and thousands of boats are seen 
returning from or proceeding to sea. The city is 
about nine miles up the river, in lat. 16 45' N., long. 
106 32' E. Here we must again avail ourselves of 
Mr. Finlay son's Narrative. 

u The river is so much divided by islands of various 
dimensions, and so intersects the country in every 
way, that it is difficult to state more of its course, 
than its general direction, which is from west to east. 

ANAM. 363 

In ascending the river to the Mandarin's, we soon 
quitted the branch which we first occupied, and turn- 
ing to the right, entered a fine and wide canal, partly 
natural and partly artificial. This canal surrounds 
three sides of the capital, and, at both extremities, joins 
the great river, which lies in front of the fourth. The 
canal is about forty or fifty yards wide at its lowest 
part, where we entered ; it becomes narrower as you 
ascend, and, at the upper extremity, it is little more 
than eighteen or twenty yards across. It is main- 
tained in perfect order. The sides are regularly sloped, 
and supported by embankments where requisite. Its 
depth would appear to be, in most parts, about eight 
feet. It affords the double advantage of an outward 
defence of the place, for which it was doubtless ori~ 
ginally intended, as it bounds the glacis throughout 
its course, and of water -conveyance to the various 
parts of an extensive city. 

" We had seen little more than the bare walls of 
our habitation since our arrival. The most beautiful 
and luxuriant scenery now burst upon our view ; and 
we soon agreed, that the banks of the river of Hue 
present the most beautiful and interesting scenery of 
any river we had seen in Asia. Its beauties, how- 
ever, are the gifts of nature, more than of art. A vast 
expanse of water, conveyed by a magnificent river 
through a fertile valley, not so wide but that the eye 
can compass its several parts ; ridges of lofty and bold 
mountains in the distance ; the cocoa-nut, the areca, 
the banana, the sugar-cane ; hedges of bamboos that 
wave their elegant tops in the air ; and rows of that 
beautiful plant, the hibiscus ; are the principal mate- 
rials which, grouped in various forms, delight the eye. 
From this, we must not separate the not less interest- 
ing prospect of numerous and apparently comfortable 

364 ANAM. 

villages. In these, the most remarkable circumstance 
is the neatness and cleanliness of the houses of the 
natives, and the cheerful, contented, and lively dispo- 
sition of the people. The houses of the better sort 
are substantial and large, covered with tiles, the walls 
being partly made of brick and mortar, and partly of 
wood. Besides, they shew considerable taste in adorn- 
ing their grounds and little gardens with flowers and 
ornamental trees. 

" Though we were in the immediate vicinity of a 
large city, few people were to be seen : these were at 
work in the fields, collecting weeds from the canal, or 
passing on the roads. We were still more surprised 
to find so few boats upon the river ; and of junks, we 

saw no more than three or four As soon as we had 

entered the canal, we found ourselves in front of one 
face of the fort. The term fort, however, is apt to 
convey erroneous notions of this place : it is, in fact, 
a fortified city ; and if the French had compared it 
with such places as Delhi and Agra, instead of Fort 
William, the comparison had been more just. The 
fortifications are, without question, of a most extra- 
ordinary nature, whether considered in the magnitude 
of extent, the boldness of design, the perseverance in 
execution, or the strength which they display. The 
fort appears to be built with the greatest regularity, 
and according to the principles of European fortifica- 
tion. It is of quadrangular form ; each side appeared 
to us to be at least a mile and a half in length.* The 
rampart is about thirty feet high, and cased with brick 
and mortar. The bastions project but little, con- 
taining from five to eight embrasures, and are placed 

* The French mandarins told them, that the length of each side 
was 1,187 toises, and that the walls would contain 800 pieces of 

ANAM. 365 

at a great distance from each other. The walls are in 
excellent order. We could not distinctly see whether 
there was a ditch at the foot of the wall, but were told 
that there is. The glacis extends to the canal, and is 
about 200 yards in breadth. An enemy on the op- 
posite side of the canal would, in many parts, find 
shelter in the brushwood and hedges, and even vil- 
lages, within reach of the guns of the fort, and thence 
would find the means of attacking the place with little 
exposure of his men. But it is not to be expected, 
that such places should be capable of much resistance. 
They may serve as a temporary defence against a sud- 
den alarm, and against a tumultuary attack from irre- 
gular troops ; but a handful of brave and enterprising 
men would soon possess themselves of the place. The 
gates are ornamented in the Chinese style, but the 
approaches are calculated for the purpose of defence. 
There appeared no reason to doubt that we were 
brought by this circuitous route, in order that we 
might see the extent of the fortifications." 

Subsequently, they were permitted to see the interior. 
" On entering the gate, we turned to the right, and 
passed along the rampart. As much care has been be- 
stowed on the construction of the interior as of the ex- 
terior. The place is laid out in quadrangles ; the roads 
are wide and convenient ; and a navigable_canal, which 
leads to the granaries and magazines, passes through 
the place. The town, if it may be so called, is rather 
paltry : the greater part of the ground appears to be 
laid out in ill-cultivated gardens, attached to miserable, 
but probably only temporary huts. The bazars have 
an appearance of poverty ; yet, the regularity of the 
streets gives an air of great neatness to the place, and 
the view both of the country and the town, from the 
rampart, is very fine. After passing for more than a 

366 ANAM. 

mile along the rampart, we were conducted to the 
public granaries, consisting of a vast number of well- 
built, substantial storehouses. The greatest attention 
has been bestowed upon every thing, and the powder- 
magazines are erected in the midst of tanks. 

" The palace of the king is surrounded on every side 
with handsome and well-built rows of barracks. These 
were uncommonly clean, and very complete in their 
structure, and would lose little in comparison with the 

best we have in England The citadel is a small 

quadrangular building, with strong and lofty walls, 
close to the palace, not calculated to excite any pecu- 
liar interest." 

Of the palace itself, they could see nothing, except 
on passing one or two of the gates, so completely is it 
concealed by the barracks. The display of iron and 
brass guns of all sorts and sizes, of mortars and am- 
munition, in the artillery department, was truly sur- 
prising. " It was easy to perceive," Mr. Finlayson 
says, u that the genius which had directed every thing 
was French, and that the master-mind which had 
created such great works, no longer presided over 

The principal bazar at Hue consists of a spacious 
street about a mile in length, with shops on either side, 
some of them paltry huts made of palm-leaves ; the 
rest more substantially built of wood, with tiled or 
thatched roofs. The poverty of the shops was here 
very striking, and altogether, Hue and its inhabitants 
appeared to great disadvantage in comparison with the 
capital of Don-nai. There are few Chinese among the 
population, which is stated to amount to 30,000 souls. 
During the violent rains to which this part of Cochin 
China is subject, the town is liable to be speedily in- 
undated ; and people are seen moving about the streets 

ANAM. 367 

in boats, where, but the day before, they had passed 
on dry ground. 

Our limits restrict us from entering into further 
details. Mr. Crawfurd could not succeed in obtain, 
ing an audience of the king of Cochin China. 
He was told, that his business being entirely of a 
commercial nature, it altogether precluded the pos- 
sibility of his being admitted to the royal presence ; 
that it was an affair for the cognizance of his minis- 
ters ; that had he been the envoy of the king of Eng- 
land, or of any other king, he would have been pre- 
sented at court ; but that in his case, it was as if the 
governor of Saigon had sent an envoy to the imperial 
court. The presents of the Governor-general were 
politely declined by his majesty, and the mission was 
dismissed, not without evident manifestations of dis- 
pleasure or contempt.* 

Before many years, the British nation and the 
court and good people of Hue will be better acquainted 
with each other. His majesty has condescendingly 
promised to accept of whatever presents may be agree- 
able to him, next time, paying for the same. Who 
can tell but that, in a few years, we may have a British 
factory at Turon, steam-boats plying on the Saigon 
river, or even ascending the unknown course of the 
Mei-kong, and that a joint-stock company may be 
formed to work the geld mines of Tongkin ! 

* Mr. Crawfurd had suffered the letter from the Governor-general 
to be opened by the governor of Saigon, which evidently gave great 
offence. In 1804, Mr. Roberts, an envoy from the Governor-general, 
had been honourably received, and obtained two audiences of the 



Page 78, line 14, for Brimans read Birmans. 
95, line 5, for Binnah read Birmah.