Charles Alfred Browne.

An introduction to the geography and history of India, and the countries adjacent; online

. (page 21 of 26)
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only cavalry employed in the armies of


Islands connected with Ava,


Situation J H the Bay of Bengal, opposite to the

and Des- ^ J 11 v *.

cription. I enassenm coast, and a short distance
from it, between lat. 10 32' and 13 40' N.
lie two islands called the Andamans.

The northernmost, or great Andaman,
is about 140 miles in length by twenty
in breadth. Though considered as only
one, the great Andaman consists in reali-
ty of three islands, as it is divided in two
places by very narrow straits. In the
centre of the great Andaman is a moun-
tain named Saddle Peak, about 2,400
feet high.

The southernmost, or little Andaman,
is about 28 miles in length by 17 in

There are no rivers of any size.

Produc- These islands produce various kinds
of wood, amongst which are ebony, red
wood, dammer, bamboo and rattans.
The coasts abound with fish of every

In the woods are a few kinds of birds
and fowls, and the shores abound with
a variety of beautiful shells.

There are no other animals with the
exception of swine. Within the caverns
and recesses of the rocks are found the
edible birds' nests, so highly prized by the


Produc- Chinese. The vegetable productions are
few, and there are no cocoa-nut trees.

inhabit- The inhabitants of these islands are a
very singular race, differing entirely not
only from all the inhabitants of the
neighbouring continent, but also from
the Natives of the Nicobar Islands,
though not a hundred miles distant.
In appearance they resemble a degen-
erate race of Negroes, having woolly
hair, flat noses, and thick lips. Their
eyes are small and red, and their skin of a
deep dull black. In stature they seldom
exceed five feet, with large heads, high
shoulders, protuberant bellies, and slender
limbs. They go quite naked, their only
covering being composed of a coat of mud,
which they plaster all over their bodies,
in order to protect themselves from the
insects. Their heads and faces they
paint with red ochre. They are an ex-
ceedingly savage and ignorant race, and
have always evinced an inveterate hatred
towards strangers ; constantly rejecting
all intercourse, and frequently attacking
boats 1 crews landing for water. They do
not appear ever to have made any at-
tempt to cultivate the ground, but sub-
sist on what they can pick up and kill.
They are armed with wooden spears,
and bows and arrows, which they use
with much dexterity. As far as can be
ascertained, they have no distinct ideas
of religion. They appear to pay some
sort of adoration to the sun, and to
spirits whom they suppose to rule over
the woods and waters and mountains.
They were formerly supposed to be can-


inhabit- nibals, that is men who eat human flesh,
but there is reason to believe that this is
not the case.

The total population is supposed not
to exceed 2,500.

History. ^he English formed a settlement on
the great Andaman in 1791, near its
southern extremity, which in 1793 was
removed to Port Cornwallis, or Cornwal-
lis Harbour, on the eastern coast.

The object of the English Government
was to procure a convenient harbour in
that part of the bay of Bengal, in which
ships might find shelter during the north-
east monsoon ; and it was also intended
to make a place of reception for convicts
sentenced to transportation, but the set-
tlement proving extremely unhealthy, it
\ was abandoned in 1796.

Language. AS far as is known 0f their language,
it does not possess the least affinity with
any spoken in India, er among the neigh-
bouring islands.


Account About 50 miles to the eastward of the
northern Andaman is a small island, call-
ed Barren Island, about 1800 feet high,
and of a circular form, in the centre of
which is a volcano. The eruptions are
frequent and very violent, stones of the
weight of three or four tons being some-
times discharged.

Situation. These islands are situated in the south-




Situation. eas t quarter of the bay of Bengal, be-
tween the sixth and tenth degrees of
north latitude, and occupy the space
from the little Andaman to the north-
western point of Sumatra.

These islands compose an extensive
group, of which the islands named Nan-
cowry, Car Nicobar, arid little Nicobar,
are the only ones which have been much
visited by Europeans. They are gene-
rally hilly, and some have high moun-
tains. Their chief productions are cocoa-
nuts and betel, for which they are much
resorted to by ships from India. The
Natives are in a very rude state, and
have sometimes attacked and murdered
the crews of vessels visiting them for
traffic. The Danes attempted to form a,
settlement upon them from Tranquebar
in 1756, and many missionaries engaged
in the undertaking ; but the climate
proved so extremely unhealthy, that after
a great number of missionaries and other
colonists had died, it was found necessary
in 1 787 finally to abandon the design.

There are also a number of small
islands a few miles from the coast of
Tenasserim, known by the general name
of the Mergui islands, or the Mergui
Archipelago. They are occupied merely
by a few Burmese fishermen.



Cochin China.

Bound- Cochin China occupies the south-east-

ern corner of Asia, being bounded on
the north by a range of mountains divid-
ing it from China ; east, by the Chinese
Sea; south, by the Malayan Sea; west,
by the Gulf of Siam, and a range of .
mountains separating it from Siam.

Divisions. j( s divisions or provinces are Tunquin,
Cochin China, Cambodia, and Siampa.

Rivers. Few countries are better supplied with

water than Tunquin and the lower parts
of Cochin China. In the first there are
more than fifty rivers which flow into the
sea. The principal are the Donnai. or
Tunquin river, and the Cambodia. The
Donnai is said to have its source in the
province of Yoonan in China, and receiv-
ing the addition of many others in its
course, traverses nearly the whole extent
of the kingdom, falling into the sea near
Saigong, in lat. 10 47' N. The Cambo-
dia is also said to rise in the same prov-
ince, and flows southerly into the sea in
about lat. 10 N. after a course of about
1500 miles, the greater part of which is
navigable for boats. This is one of the
largest rivers in Asia.


General This country may be described in ofen-

Descrip- , . J y,. , ,,

tion. era! terms as consisting of long and well
watered valleys, lying between two prin-
cipal ranges of mountains running from
north to south, the one on its western, the
other towards its eastern side, besides other
ranges traversing it from west to east.

J tion" C " Taken altogether this is one of the
most fertile countries in this quarter of the
world, and abounds with valuable produc-
tions, such as rice in abundance, sugar,
cotton, silk, tobacco, betel, indigo, cinna-
mon, pepper, ivory, and wax. A coarse
kind of tea is also extensively cultivated.
The forests are well supplied with teak,
ebony, cedar, and various other woods,
and they also yield stick lac and gam-
boge ; which latter article derives its
English name from a corruption of that
of its native district, Cambodia. Mul-
berry trees abound, and supply food for
the silk- worm. Iron ore is found in great
purity, and it is said that there are also
mines of silver and tin. Gold is procur-
ed in most of the rivers and mountain
streams, and salt and saltpetre are plenti-
ful. The animals are in general the same
as are found in India, with the exception
of sheep, asses, and camels, which are not
common to this country. The flesh of
the elephant is used for food.

Towns. There are numerous towns, particu-

larly in Tunquin, the principal of which
are Cachao, the capital of Tunquin ; Quin-
nong, Hue, and Saigon, in Cochin China ;
and Parompin, in Cambodia, all seaports.
The capital of the kingdom is Hue-foo,


Towns. or fjite, the word "foo," meaning "city."
It is situated on a river of the same
name, about 10 miles from its mouth, jn
lat. 16 19' N. long. 107 12' E., strongly
fortified and armed, and containing about
40,000 inhabitants.

Saigong, which though not the capital
is the largest and most important city of
the whole, is situated on the banks of the
Donnai, in lat. 10 47' N. long. 107 5'
E. It is an extensive city, and well
burlt, and has a fortress of considerable
strength constructed upon European
principles. It is the chief naval depot
of the empire, and has large arsenals,
and numerous ship-builders. Its popula-
tion is estimated at about 200,000.

Name. The derivation and meaning of the

word " Cochin," applied to this country,
are not known ; amongst themselves
each province retains its distinct name.

^habitants, who are called by
Europeans by the general appellation
of Cochin Chinese, are properly speak-
ing composed of two divisions. The
Anams and Quantos. The Anams are
of Chinese origin, arid include Tunqi-
nese, Cochin Chinese, Cambodians, and

The Quantos, who inhabit the moun-
tainous districts, are the original Natives,
who were expelled from the low country
on its being colonised by the Chinese.

In appearance and manners the Anams
resemble the Chinese from whom they
are descended. They are accustomed to
redden their lips and stain their teeth


3 an\ a s bit black, considering white teeth to be fit
only for dogs. Though remarkably in-
dolent, they are a clever and ingenious
people, and particularly skilful in ship
and boat building. They have founderies
for casting cannon, and manufactories of
ammunition, as also of cotton and silk
cloths, paper, brass and iron ware, Sec. ;
but they have not yet been able to sup-
ply themselves with muskets, which they
still import from Europe and America.
The total population is estimated at
about five millions.

History. The ancient history of this country is
little known. It appears to have been
conquered and settled by the Chinese at
an early period ; and to have constituted
part of the Chinese empire until the Tar-
tar invasion of China in 1644, when the
governors of these southern provinces
took advantage of the opportunity to
make themselves independent; and in
this manner Tunquin and the other prov-
inces became distinct kingdoms, remain-
ing so until towards the end of the 18th
century, when they were finally subdued
by Kaung Shang, the king of Cochin
China, and the whole formed into one
empire. Kaung Shaug was one of the
most remarkable men in the east. With
the assistance of a French missionary,
named Adran, he introduced many great
improvements, and arranged his govern-
ment upon a system far superior to any
thing known in the countries around him.
He encouraged cultivation, established
schools and manufactories, disciplined his
troops, and formed a considerable navy ;

G g*


History. so that Cochin China may now be con-
sidered as one of the most advanced of
the eastern states. Foreigners are ad-
mitted to the ports to trade, but none are
permitted to settle. The Portuguese,
Dutch, English, and French, had for-
merly factories in different parts, but
they have all been abandoned, and none
have since been allowed.

Religion. The religion of this country is a branch
of the Booddhist system, though some of
the mountain tribes are said still to fol-
low the ancient idolatry, and to worship
the tiger and the dog. The Romish re-
ligion was introduced by the Portuguese
about the beginning of the 17th century,
and subsequently carried on by French
missionaries, and notwithstanding repeat-
ed and violent persecutions, it has made
great progress ; as according to the state-
ments of the French missionaries, there
are throughout the kingdom as many as
350,000 persons professing their religion.

Language. The general language is the Anam,
which is of Chinese origin, though now
so far changed as to be distinct. The
character remains the same as the Chi-
nese, and is written the same way. The
Quantos have a distinct language' of their
own, which they write on leaves with an
iron style. On the sea coast the people
usually carry on their intercourse with
foreigners in a very corrupt sort of Por-
tuguese. Printing with wooden blocks is
practised, but books are not numerous, nor
do the Cochin Chinese possess any works
of value, either in history or science.





Bound- Siam is bounded on the north by
China ; east, by the dominions of Cochin
China; south, by the sea, and by the
Peninsula of Malaya ; and west, by the
sea, a range of mountains dividing it
from the British province of Tenasserim,
and the Saluen river separating it from
the dominions of Ava.

Divisions. it consists of the following principal
divisions: Northward, the Shan Coun-
try ; central, Siam Proper ; eastward,
part of Cambodia ; southward, part of
the Malay Peninsula, as far as lat. 7 N.
where at Trang, on the western side, and
Sungora on the eastern, commence the
possessions of the Malay nation ; and
westward, Junk Ceylon, (Jan Silan.J



It has one great river, the Menam,
which rises in the Yoonan province of
China, and flows southward through
Siam into the gulf of Siam, watering
the whole country in its course.

Siam Proper may be described as a
vast plain, intersected by the river Me-
nam, on the banks of which all the prin-
cipal towns are situated. The other
divisions are hilly and wooded.

356 SIAM.

prodtic- The productions of Siam are numerous
and valuable. The land in the vicinity
of the river is remarkably fertile, and
yields rice in such abundance, that it is
probably cheaper here than in any part
of the world. It produces also sugar,
pepper, tobacco, gurn, gamboge, and car-

The Shan districts supply benzoin and
stick lac. The fruits are in general the
same as in India, as also the domesticated
animals, but their horses are of an in-
ferior description. In the jungles are
tigers, rhinoceroses, and elephants, in-
cluding those of a white colour, which
here as in Ava are held in great esti-
mation, and considered a necessary ap-
pendage of royalty. The most valuable
woods are the teak, rose- wood, eagle,
and sapan ; of the latter of which large
quantities are exported to China. In
the interior, to the northward, are mines
of iron, tin, copper, and gold.

Towns. r fhe principal towns are Yoodia and

Bankok, and there are also several sea-
ports in the gulf of Siam, chiefly on its
western coast.

Yoodia is situated in lat. 14 5' N.
long. 100 25' E., on an island formed
by the branches of the river Menam. It
is of great extent, and was the ancient
capital, until its capture by the Burmese
in 1767.

Bankok, which became the capital on
the capture of Yoodia, is situated on the
banks of the Menam, in lat. 13 40' N.
long. 101 10' E. It is the chief seaport
of Siarn, and is a busy flourishing town,

SIAM. 357

Towns. containing about 40,000 inhabitants. It
is built almost entirely of wood, the
houses being all raised upon posts so
as to place them above the rise of the
tide and the periodical inundations. The
greater 'part of the town ftoats upon the
river, the houses being constructed upon
bamboo rafts, and moved in rows of ten
or more from each bank. The popula-
tion forms a mixed assemblage of Sia-
mese, Burmese, Shans, Malays, and Chi-
nese, the last amounting to a half of the
whole number. The principal manufac-
tures are in tin, iron, and leather, carried
on entirely by Chinese artisans. Nearly
all the junks used in the eastern trade
are built here.

Name. r f \ ie names Siam and Siamese, which

are given to this country and its inhabit-
ants by Europeans, appear to be corrup-
tions of the word Shan, the appellation
by which they are known amongst the
Burmese. The Natives style it the
T'hay country, and call themselves
T'hay. The Siamese nation, properly
so called, consists of two races or
tribes of people ; the T'hay, and the
T'hay Phay. By the Burmese they are
generally called Shans, and sometimes
from the name of the ancient capital
Yoodras. In manners and customs they
greatly resemble the Burmese, and like
them are distinguished by the most inor-
dinate ideas of their national importance.
The amount of the population cannot
be correctly stated. It probably does
not exceed 3,000,000, including 150,000

358 SIAM.

History. Ti ie Siamese records are said to con-
tain minute accounts of all that lias oc-
curred in Siam and the adjacent countries
for more than a thousand years past ; but
their country was not known in Europe
even by name, until after the discovery
of the route to India by the way of the
Cape of Good Hope. About the year
1550 Siam was first visited by some
Portuguese adventurers, and in 1662
French Missionaries established them-
selves in the country. In 1684 the
king of Siam sent ambassadors to the
king of France to solicit his alliance,
which was granted, and several French-
men entered into his service. In 1688,
however, a sudden revolution broke out,
when the king was dethroned, and the
French were expelled. A long period
of internal war and confusion followed,
but withoiat any foreign interference,
until 1754, when a collision took place
with the Burmese. In 1767 Alompra,
the emperor of Ava, invaded Siam, plun-
dered and burnt the capital Yoodia,
and left the country almost depopulated.
The Siamese recovered their indepen-
dence a few years afterwards, and they
have since succeeded in maintaining it,
though continually at war with the Bur-
mese. Their government is a pure des-
potism, the monarch being absolute, and
considered so sacred a character, that
even bis name is not allowed to be utter-
ed. Heretofore the troops have been a
mere rabble, badly armed, and without
discipline; but latterly the government
has directed its attention to the estab-
lishment of a regular army. Siam has

SIAM. 359

History. an extensive commerce with- China and
the Eastern Islands, and Bankok is also
visited by European and American ship-
ping. Until recently the Siamese car-
ried on no foreign commerce in their
own vessels, but they now venture to
China and the straits of Malacca, and
occasionally to India and Ceylon.

A commercial treaty was concluded
between the British and Siamese govern-
ments in 1827, by which all Asiatic sub-
jects of Great Britain "not being Bur-
mese, Peguers, or descendants of Euro-
peans," are allowed to travel through the
interior of Siam from Tenasserim or
other British provinces ; and British sub-
jects of all descriptions may proceed by
sea to any Siamese port.

Religion. J n religion the Siamese are Booddhists
of the same sect as the Singalese, but all
religious are tolerated.

Language. Their language is called by Euro-
peans the Siamese, and by themselves
the Thay. It belongs apparently to
the same general division as the Bur-
mese, and is written from left to right.


General Junk, or Jonk Ceylon, properly Jan
Lnt * Silan, may be considered as an island,
being connected with the mainland only
by a sand-bank which overflowed at
high water. It is situated on the western
coast of Siam, near the northern entrance
of the Straits of Malacca, in lat. 8 N.
It is 40 miles in length by 15 in breadth




the country is mountainous, but
towards the coast low, well supplied
with water, and fruitful. The hills are
covered with large and useful timber,
and the land produces every variety of
rice. Tin of the best quality is found in
great abundance, and terms a valuable
article of commerce. The mines are
worked entirely by Chinese settlers.
The island is thinly inhabited, having
been nearly depopulated in the course
of. the Burmese invasions; and from 14
or 15,000 persons, it is now reduced to
riot more than 2,000, including Chinese.
The Natives are Booddhists as in Siam,
but there are also some Mahomedans.




This country occupies the southern
extremity of the continent of Asia. It
forms a peninsula extending from about
lat. 8 30' to 1 SO' N., bounded on
the north by the Siamese territories ;
east and south by the sea ; west by
the straits separating it from Sumatra,
called the Straits of Malacca, and by
the Bay of Bengal. In length it may


Bound- be estimated at 800 miles from north
to south, by an average breadth of 125
from east to west.

Divisions. ft consists of the following principal
divisions: Queda, Province Wellesley,
Perak, Salengore, Malacca, and Johore ;
with the islands of Penang, Singapoor, and
Bintang, which will be separately noticed.

Queda occupies the northern part of
the western coast, between lat. 8 and 5 a
N. This was formerly an independent
principality, until 1821, when it was
invaded by the Siamese, who drove out
the king, and annexed his country to
their dominions. Province Wellesley,
which belongs to the British, was for-
merly a part of Queda, being a tract of
the Queda coast about 35 miles long
from north to south, and about four in

Perak and Salengore follow southward
from Queda, and are both independent

Malacca occupies the coast towards
the southern extremity, between Salen-
gore and Jahore, and is about 40 miles
in length by about 30 in breadth inland.
It belongs to the British.

Johore occupies the south-eastern quar-
ter of the peninsula, and forms an inde-
pendent state.

This peninsula is composed of a cen-
tral range of mountains traversing its
whole length from north to south, leav-
ing a tract of undulating low country on
both sides to the sea, watered in every
direction by small rivers, of which there


General are about ninety altogether, and covered

Bescnp- .., / . Y ' .

tion. with forests and vegetation.

Froduo Its principal articles of produce are
rice, rattans, canes, betel, ivory, and
various kinds of useful wood. The for-
ests do not, however, yield the teak.
The animals, both wild and domestic,
are the same as are found in India, with
the exception of sheep and horses, which
are not natural to the country. Tin is
plentiful, and there is some gold.

Towns. The only towns upon the peninsula,

worthy of notice, are Malacca and

Malacca, so named from a fruit called
the Malka, produced in great abundance
in its neighbourhood, was one of the
first settlements of the Malays. It was
founded by them in 1252, and in 1511
was captured by the Portuguese, remain-
ing with them until 1640, when it fell into
the hands of the Dutch. In ]795 it was
taken from the latter by the English, but
restored at the peace in 1801. It was
again taken in 1 807, and again restored
in 1815 ; and in 1825 it was finally made
over by the Dutch to the British, in ex-
change for some British possessions in
Sumatra. It contains, including the ad-
jacent district, about 25,000 inhabitants,
composed of Malays, Hindoos, descen-
dants of Dutch and Portuguese, and
Chinese, almost all the cultivators and
artisans being of the last nation. Lat.
2 U' N. long. 102 12' E.

Name. By the Natives this peninsula is called

"Tana Malaya," or the land of the Ma-


Name. lays. By the Siamese the Malays are
usually termed "Khek," and by the Bur-
mese " Masoo."

inhabit- The inhabitants of this peninsula con-
sist of two classes, the original Natives,
and the Malays. The original Natives,
(or aborigines) are of the class usually
denominated oriental Negroes, and in-
habit the mountains of the interior.
They are of a diminutive stature, but
in other respects resemble the Negroes
of Africa, having woolly hair, black
skins, thick lips, and flat noses. They
are in a perfectly savage state, going
quite naked, and subsisting upon roots
and game. They form numerous little
tribes, many of which acknowledge no
chief and lead a wild wandering life.
By the Malays they are called Samang.

The Malays were originally from Sum-
atra, from which island their tribe emi-
grated about 1160 to the southern part
of the peninsula, and soon establishing
themselves throughout, gave their name
to their new country.

As a people, the Malays are noted for
their ferocity, cunning, and treachery ;
never forgiving an affront, but always
taking a cruel revenge. They are ad-
dicted to gambling of all kinds, especially
to cock-fighting, to an extraordinary de-

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Online LibraryCharles Alfred BrowneAn introduction to the geography and history of India, and the countries adjacent; → online text (page 21 of 26)