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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume IX. by Robert Kerr

Part 12 out of 12

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with kindness.

Sec.6. _Some Account of the Factory at Pulo Laut, with the Overthrow of
that Factory, and of the English Trade to Borneo_.

A year or two after this ruin of the factory at Pulo Condore, the
Company thought fit to order the establishment of a new factory on the
coast of the great island of Borneo. On the south of that vast island,
there is a small isle called Pulo Laut, having an excellent harbour. The
country here is but thinly peopled, and yields nothing except rice; but,
as it lies near the mouth of the great rivers which come from the pepper
countries in the interior; it is extremely well situated for trade.
Between this island and the great island of Borneo, there is a channel
about two miles wide in most places, narrower in some and broader in
others, and having from seven to five fathoms water the whole way
through. On the coast of this channel there are several rising grounds
fit for building on, and which were therefore extremely proper for the
situation of a factory, which, it may be presumed, induced those who had
the direction of the Company's affairs, to make choice of this place.

One Captain Barry, who is said to have been a very ingenious gentleman,
had the charge of establishing this new factory, in which he is reported
to have acted with much skill and prudence. But he died before the works
were completed; and the direction of the factory devolved upon Doctor
Cunningham, who came to this place after the ruin of the factory at Pulo
Condore. He is said to have given himself so entirely up to his studies,
that he left the care of the Company's concerns too much to the people
who were under him, who were unequal to the trust, and proved the ruin
of the factory. Before the fort was half finished, these people began to
insult the natives of the country; and, among other wanton acts of
folly, they very imprudently chose to search one of the boats belonging
to the king, which was carrying a female of rank down the river. This so
provoked the Bornean sovereign that he determined upon the utter
destruction of the English; for which purpose he collected his forces
together, amounting to about three thousand resolute men, which he
embarked in above an hundred proas, and sent them down to attack the
factory and unfinished fort.

There happened at this time to be two ships belonging to the Company in
the river, besides two merchant vessels of inconsiderable force; and as
Cunningham and his people had received advice of the preparations making
against them, they left their factory, taking refuge aboard the ships,
thinking themselves in greater security there than ashore. When all
things were in readiness for the intended assault, the native armament
came down the river in the night; and, while some landed and destroyed
the factory and fortifications, others attacked the ships, which were
fortunately prepared for their reception, the English having made fast
nettings along both sides of their ships, about two fathoms high above
the gunnels, to prevent the enemy from boarding, and were in readiness
to use their blunderbusses and pikes, to prevent them from forcing their
way to the decks.

On seeing the approach of the proas towards the ships, the English plied
their great guns, loaded with double, round, and partridge shot, and
made great carnage among the Borneans, yet this did not deter them from
pushing forwards and using their utmost endeavours to board. But, having
got up to the gunnels, they were unable to get over the netting, and so
were slaughtered with great ease by the English from the decks. Some of
the assailants got in at the _head doors_ of one of the ships and killed
a few of the English on the forecastle, but were soon overpowered and
slain. Thus, after a long and sanguinary contest, the two large ships
beat off the enemy with small loss; but the two little vessels were both
burnt with most of their men, among whom was one Mynheer Hoogh Camber, a
Dutch gentleman who had been ambassador of the king of Persia, and had
fled from Batavia in one of these small vessels. Some say that the
English killed above fifteen hundred of the assailants in two hours, for
the heat of the assault continued during that space, besides many others
wounded and maimed. But the English were under the necessity of
abandoning the settlement at Pulo Laut.

The Bornean king or rajah thought his revenge had gone far enough in
driving the English from their factory: And, finding his revenue
considerably diminished by the loss of trade with the English, he sent
notice to such of them as traded to Johor, and other places in the
neighbourhood of Borneo, that he would still admit them to trade in his
dominions on the old footing, but would never allow them or any other
nation to erect forts in his territories. Several English vessels have
been there since to load pepper, and were civilly treated. The Dutch
also sent a ship there from Batavia in the year 1712; but the natives
refused to have any dealings with them.


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