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The Malay Archipelago by by Alfred Russell Wallace

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have no idea of Christmas-day as a festival. Our dinner was of
rice and curry as usual, and an extra glass of wine was all I
could do to celebrate it.

Dec. 26th.--Fine view of the mountains of Bouru, which we have
now approached considerably. Our crew seem rather a clumsy lot.
They do not walk the deck with the easy swing of English sailors,
but hesitate and stagger like landsmen. In the night the lower
boom of our mainsail broke, and they were all the morning
repairing it. It consisted of two bamboos lashed together, thick
end to thin, and was about seventy feet long. The rigging and
arrangement of these praus contrasts strangely with that of
European vessels, in which the various ropes and spars, though
much more numerous, are placed so as not to interfere with each
other's action. Here the case is quite different; for though
there are no shrouds or stays to complicate the matter, yet
scarcely anything can be done without first clearing something
else out of the way. The large sails cannot be shifted round to
go on the other tack without first hauling down the jibs, and the
booms of the fore and aft sails have to be lowered and completely
detached to perform the same operation. Then there are always a
lot of ropes foul of each other, and all the sails can never be
set (though they are so few) without a good part of their surface
having the wind kept out of them by others. Yet praus are much
liked even by those who have had European vessels, because of
their cheapness both in first cost and in keeping up; almost all
repairs can be done by the crew, and very few European stores are

Dec. 28th.--This day we saw the Banda group, the volcano first
appearing,--a perfect cone, having very much the outline of the
Egyptian pyramids, and looking almost as regular. In the evening
the smoke rested over its summit like a small stationary cloud.
This was my first view of an active volcano, but pictures and
panoramas have so impressed such things on one's mind, that when
we at length behold them they seem nothing extraordinary.

Dec. 30th.--Passed the island of Teor, and a group near it, which
are very incorrectly marked on the charts. Flying-fish were
numerous to-day. It is a smaller species than that of the
Atlantic, and more active and elegant in its motions. As they
skim along the surface they turn on their sides, so as fully to
display their beautiful fins, taking a flight of about a hundred
yards, rising and falling in n most graceful manner. At a little
distance they exactly resemble swallows, and no one who sees them
can doubt that they really do fly, not merely descend in an
oblique direction from the height they gain by their first
spring. In the evening an aquatic bird, a species of booby (Sula
fiber.) rested on our hen-coop, and was caught by the neck by one
of my boys.

Dec. 31st,.--At daybreak the Ke Islands (pronounced Kay) were in
sight, where we are to stay a few days. About noon we rounded the
northern point, and endeavoured to coast along to the anchorage;
but being now on the leeward side of the island, the wind came in
violent irregular gusts, and then leaving us altogether, we were
carried back by a strong current. Just then two boats-load of
natives appeared, and our owner having agreed with them to tow us
into harbour, they tried to do so, assisted by our own boat, but
could make no way. We were therefore obliged to anchor in a very
dangerous place on a rocky bottom, and we were engaged till
nearly dark getting hawsers secured to some rocks under water.
The coast of Ke along which we had passed was very picturesque.
Light coloured limestone rocks rose abruptly from the water to
the height of several hundred feet, everywhere broken into
jutting peaks and pinnacles, weather-worn into sharp points and
honeycombed surfaces, and clothed throughout with a most varied
and luxuriant vegetation. The cliffs above the sea offered to our
view screw-pines and arborescent Liliaceae of strange forms,
mingled with shrubs and creepers; while the higher slopes
supported a dense growth of forest trees. Here and there little
bays and inlets presented beaches of dazzling whiteness. The
water was transparent as crystal, and tinged the rock-strewn
slope which plunged steeply into its unfathomable depths with
colours varying from emerald to lapis-lazuli. The sea was calm as
a lake, and the glorious sun of the tropics threw a flood of
golden light over all. The scene was to me inexpressibly
delightful. I was in a new world, and could dream of the
wonderful productions hid in those rocky forests, and in those
azure abysses. But few European feet had ever trodden the shores
I gazed upon its plants, and animals, and men were alike almost
unknown, and I could not help speculating on what my wanderings
there for a few days might bring to light.



(JANUARY 1857)

THE native boats that had come to meet us were three or four in
number, containing in all about fifty men.

They were long canoes, with the bow and stern rising up into a
beak six or night feet high, decorated with shells and waving
plumes of cassowaries hair. I now had my first view of Papuans in
their own country, and in less than five minutes was convinced
that the opinion already arrived at by the examination of a few
Timor and New Guinea slaves was substantially correct, and that
the people I now had an opportunity of comparing side by side
belonged to two of the most distinct and strongly marked races
that the earth contains. Had I been blind, I could have been
certain that these islanders were not Malays. The loud, rapid,
eager tones, the incessant motion, the intense vital activity
manifested in speech and action, are the very antipodes of the
quiet, unimpulsive, unanimated Malay These Ke men came up singing
and shouting, dipping their paddles deep in the water and
throwing up clouds of spray; as they approached nearer they stood
up in their canoes and increased their noise and gesticulations;
and on coming alongside, without asking leave, and without a
moment's hesitation, the greater part of them scrambled up on our
deck just as if they were come to take possession of a captured
vessel. Then commenced a scene of indescribable confusion. These
forty black, naked, mop-headed savages seemed intoxicated with
joy and excitement. Not one of them could remain still for a
moment. Every individual of our crew was in turn surrounded and
examined, asked for tobacco or arrack, grinned at and deserted
for another. All talked at once, and our captain was regularly
mobbed by the chief men, who wanted to be employed to tow us in,
and who begged vociferously to be paid in advance. A few presents
of tobacco made their eyes glisten; they would express their
satisfaction by grins and shouts, by rolling on deck, or by a
headlong leap overboard. Schoolboys on an unexpected holiday,
Irishmen at a fair, or mid-shipmen on shore, would give but a
faint idea of the exuberant animal enjoyment of these people.

Under similar circumstances Malays could not behave as these
Papuans did. If they came on board a vessel (after asking
permission), not a word would be at first spoken, except a few
compliments, and only after some time, and very cautiously, world
any approach be made to business. One would speak at a time, with
a low voice and great deliberation, and the mode of making a
bargain would be by quietly refusing all your offers, or even
going away without saying another word about the matter, unless
advanced your price to what they were willing to accept. Our
crew, many of whom had not made the voyage before, seemed quite
scandalized at such unprecedented bad manners, and only very
gradually made any approach to fraternization with the black
fellows. They reminded me of a party of demure and well-behaved
children suddenly broken in upon by a lot of wild romping,
riotous boys, whose conduct seems most extraordinary and very
naughty. These moral features are more striking and more
conclusive of absolute diversity than oven the physical contrast
presented by the two races, though that is sufficiently
remarkable. The sooty blackness of the skin, the mop-like head of
frizzly hair, and, most important of all, the marked form of
countenance of quite a different type from that of the Malay, are
what we cannot believe to result from mere climatal or other
modifying influences on one and the same race. The Malay face is
of the Mongolian type, broad and somewhat flat. The brows are
depressed, the mouth wide, but not projecting, and the nose small
and well formed but for the great dilatation of the nostrils. The
face is smooth, and rarely develops the trace of a beard; the
hair black, coarse, and perfectly straight. The Papuan, on the
other hand, has a face which we may say is compressed and
projecting. The brows are protuberant and overhanging, the mouth
large and prominent, while the nose is very large, the apex
elongated downwards, the ridge thick, and the nostrils large. It
is an obtrusive and remarkable feature in the countenance, the
very reverse of what obtains in the Malay face. The twisted beard
and frizzly hair complete this remarkable contrast. Hero then I
had reached a new world, inhabited by a strange people. Between
the Malayan tribes, among whom I had for some years been living,
and the Papuan races, whose country I had now entered, we may
fairly say that there is as much difference, both moral and
physical, as between the red Indians of South America and the
negroes of Guinea on the opposite side of the Atlantic.

Jan. 1st, 1857.-This has been a day of thorough enjoyment. I have
wandered in the forests of an island rarely seen by Europeans.
Before daybreak we left our anchorage, and in an hour reached the
village of Har, where we were to stay three or four days. The
range of hills here receded so as to form a small bay, and they
were broken up into peaks and hummocks with intervening flats and
hollows. A broad beach of the whitest sand lined the inner part
of the bay, backed by a mass of cocoa-nut palms, among which the
huts were concealed, and surmounted by a dense and varied growth
of timber. Canoes and boats of various sizes were drawn up on the
beach and one or two idlers, with a few children and a dog, gazed
at our prau as we came to an anchor.

When we went on shore the first thing that attracted us was a
large and well-constructed shed, under which a long boat was
being built, while others in various stages of completion were
placed at intervals along the beach. Our captain, who wanted two
of moderate size for the trade among the islands at Aru,
immediately began bargaining for them, and in a short tine had
arranged the nuns number of brass guns, gongs, sarongs,
handkerchiefs, axes, white plates, tobacco, and arrack, which he
was to give for a hair which could be got ready in four days. We
then went to the village, which consisted only of three or four
huts, situated immediately above the beach on an irregular rocky
piece of ground overshadowed with cocoa-nuts, palms, bananas, and
other fruit trees. The houses were very rude, black, and half
rotten, raised a few feet on posts with low sides of bamboo or
planks, and high thatched roofs. They had small doors and no
windows, an opening under the projecting gables letting the smoke
out and a little light in. The floors were of strips of bamboo,
thin, slippery, and elastic, and so weak that my feet were in
danger of plunging through at every step. Native boxes of
pandanus-leaves and slabs of palm pith, very neatly constructed,
mats of the same, jars and cooking pots of native pottery, and a
few European plates and basins, were the whole furniture, and the
interior was throughout dark and smoke-blackened, and dismal in
the extreme.

Accompanied by Ali and Baderoon, I now attempted to make some
explorations, and we were followed by a train of boys eager to
see what we were going to do. The most trodden path from the
beach led us into a shady hollow, where the trees were of immense
height and the undergrowth scanty. From the summits of these
trees came at intervals a deep booming sound, which at first
puzzled us, but which we soon found to proceed from some large
pigeons. My boys shot at them, and after one or two misses,
brought one down. It was a magnificent bird twenty inches long,
of a bluish white colour, with the back wings and tail intense
metallic green, with golden, blue, and violet reflexions, the
feet coral red, and the eyes golden yellow. It is a rare species,
which I have named Carpophaga concinna, and is found only in a
few small islands, where, however, it abounds. It is the same
species which in the island of Banda is called the nutmeg-pigeon,
from its habit of devouring the fruits, the seed or nutmeg being
thrown up entire and uninjured. Though these pigeons have a
narrow beak, yet their jaws and throat are so extensible that
they can swallow fruits of very large size. I had before shot a
species much smaller than this one, which had a number of hard
globular palm-fruits in its crop, each more than an inch in

A little further the path divided into two, one leading along the
beach, and across mangrove and sago swamps the other rising to
cultivated grounds. We therefore returned, and taking a fresh
departure from the village, endeavoured to ascend the hills and
penetrate into the interior. The path, however, was a most trying
one. Where there was earth, it was a deposit of reddish clay
overlying the rock, and was worn so smooth by the attrition of
naked feet that my shoes could obtain no hold on the sloping
surface. A little farther we came to the bare rock, and this was
worse, for it was so rugged and broken, and so honeycombed and
weatherworn into sharp points and angles, that my boys, who had
gone barefooted all their lives, could not stand it. Their feet
began to bleed, and I saw that if I did not want them completely
lamed it would be wise to turn lack. My own shoes, which were
rather thin, were but a poor protection, and would soon have been
cut to pieces; yet our little naked guides tripped along with the
greatest ease and unconcern, and seemed much astonished at our
effeminacy in not being able to take a walk which to them was a
perfectly agreeable one. During the rest of our stay in the
island we were obliged to confine ourselves to the vicinity of
the shore and the cultivated grounds, and those more level
portions of the forest where a little soil had accumulated and
the rock had been less exposed to atmospheric action.

The island of Ke (pronounced exactly as the letter K, but
erroneously spelt in our maps Key or Ki) is long and narrow,
running in a north and south direction, and consists almost
entirely of rock and mountain. It is everywhere covered with
luxuriant forests, and in its bays and inlets the sand is of
dazzling whiteness, resulting from the decomposition of the
coralline limestone of which it is entirely composed. In all the
little swampy inlets and valleys sago trees abound, and these
supply the main subsistence of the natives, who grow no rice, and
have scarcely any other cultivated products but cocoa-nuts,
plantains, and yams. From the cocoa-nuts, which surround every
hut, and which thrive exceedingly on the porous limestone soil
and under the influence of salt breezes, oil is made which is
sold at a good price to the Aru traders, who all touch here to
lay in their stuck of this article, as well as to purchase boats
and native crockery. Wooden bowls, pans, and trays are also
largely made here, hewn out of solid blocks of wood with knife
and adze; and these are carried to all parts of the Moluccas. But
the art in which the natives of Ke pre-eminently excel is that of
boat building. Their forests supply abundance of fine timber,
though, probably not more so than many other islands, and from
some unknown causes these remote savages have come to excel in
what seems a very difficult art. Their small canoes are
beautifully formed, broad and low in the centre, but rising at
each end, where they terminate in high-pointed beaks more or less
carved, and ornamented with a plume of feathers. They are not
hollowed out of a tree, but are regularly built of planks running
from ego to end, and so accurately fitted that it is often
difficult to find a place where a knife-blade can be inserted
between the joints. The larger ones are from 20 to 30 tons
burthen, and are finished ready for sea without a nail or
particle of iron being used, and with no other tools than axe,
adze, and auger. These vessels are handsome to look at, good
sailers, and admirable sea-boats, and will make long voyages with
perfect safety, traversing the whole Archipelago from New Guinea
to Singapore in seas which, as every one who has sailed much in
them can testify, are not so smooth and tempest-free as word-
painting travellers love to represent them.

The forests of Ke produce magnificent timber, tall, straight, and
durable, of various qualities, some of which are said to be
superior to the best Indian teak. To make each pair of planks
used in the construction of the larger boats an entire tree is
consumed. It is felled, often miles away from the shore, cut
across to the proper length, and then hewn longitudinally into
two equal portions. Each of these forms a plank by cutting down
with the axe to a uniform thickness of three or four inches,
leaving at first a solid block at each end to prevent splitting.
Along the centre of each plank a series of projecting pieces are
left, standing up three or four inches, about the same width, and
a foot long; these are of great importance in the construction of
the vessel. When a sufficient number of planks have been made,
they are laboriously dragged through the forest by three or four
men each to the beach, where the boat is to be built. A
foundation piece, broad in the middle and rising considerably at
each end, is first laid on blocks and properly shored up. The
edges of this are worked true and smooth with the adze, and a
plank, properly curved and tapering at each end, is held firmly
up against it, while a line is struck along it which allows it to
be cut so as to fit exactly. A series of auger holes, about as
large as one's finger, are then bored along the opposite edges,
and pins of very hard wood are fitted to these, so that the two
planks are held firmly, and can be driven into the closest
contact; and difficult as this seems to do without any other aid
than rude practical skill in forming each edge to the true
corresponding curves, and in poring the holes so as exactly to
match both in position and direction, yet so well is it done that
the best European shipwright cannot produce sounder or closer-
fitting joints. The boat is built up in this way by fitting plank
to plank till the proper height and width are obtained. We have
now a skin held together entirely by the hardwood pins connecting
the edges of the planks, very strong and elastic, but having
nothing but the adhesion of these pins to prevent the planks
gaping. In the smaller boats seats, in the larger ones cross-
beams, are now fixed. They are sprung into slight notches cut to
receive them, and are further secured to the projecting pieces of
the plank below by a strong lashing of rattan. Ribs are now
formed of single pieces of tough wood chosen and trimmed so as
exactly to fit on to the projections from each plank, being
slightly notched to receive them, and securely bound to them by
rattans passed through a hole in each projecting piece close to
the surface of the plank. The ends are closed against the
vertical prow and stern posts, and further secured with pegs and
rattans, and then the boat is complete; and when fitted with
rudders, masts, and thatched covering, is ready to do battle
with, the waves. A careful consideration of the principle of this
mode of construction, and allowing for the strength and binding
qualities of rattan (which resembles in these respects wire
rather than cordage), makes me believe that a vessel carefully
built in this manner is actually stronger and safer than one
fastened in the ordinary way with nails.

During our stay here we were all very busy. Our captain was daily
superintending the completion of his two small praus. All day
long native boats were coming with fish, cocoa-nuts, parrots and
lories, earthen pans, sirip leaf, wooden bowls, and trays, &c.
&e., which every one of the fifty inhabitants of our prau seemed
to be buying on his own account, till all available and most
unavailable space of our vessel was occupied with these
miscellaneous articles: for every man on board a prau considers
himself at liberty to trade, and to carry with him whatever he
can afford to buy.

Money is unknown and valueless here--knives, cloth, and arrack
forming the only medium of exchange, with tobacco for small coin.
Every transaction is the subject of a special bargain, and the
cause of much talking. It is absolutely necessary to offer very
little, as the natives are never satisfied till you add a little
more. They are then far better pleased than if you had given them
twice the amount at first and refused to increase it.

I, too, was doing a little business, having persuaded some of the
natives to collect insects for me; and when they really found
that I gave them most fragrant tobacco for worthless black and
green beetles, I soon had scores of visitors, men, women, and
children, bringing bamboos full of creeping things, which, alas!
too frequently had eaten each other into fragments during the
tedium of a day's confinement. Of one grand new beetle,
glittering with ruby and emerald tints, I got a large quantity,
having first detected one of its wing-cases ornamenting the
outside of a native's tobacco pouch. It was quite a new species,
and had not been found elsewhere than on this little island. It
is one of the Buprestidae, and has been named Cyphogastra

Each morning after an early breakfast I wandered by myself into
the forest, where I found delightful occupation in capturing the
large and handsome butterflies, which were tolerably abundant,
and most of them new to me; for I was now upon the confines of
the Moluccas and New Guinea,--a region the productions of which
were then among the most precious and rare in the cabinets of
Europe. Here my eyes were feasted for the first time with
splendid scarlet lories on the wing, as well as by the sight of
that most imperial butterfly, the "Priamus "of collectors, or a
closely allied species, but flying so high that I did not succeed
in capturing a specimen. One of them was brought me in a bamboo,
bored up with a lot of beetles, and of course torn to pieces. The
principal drawback of the place for a collector is the want of
good paths, and the dreadfully rugged character of the surface,
requiring the attention to be so continually directed to securing
a footing, as to make it very difficult to capture active winged
things, who pass out of reach while one is glancing to see that
the next step may not plunge one into a chasm or over a
precipice. Another inconvenience is that there are no running
streams, the rock being of so porous a nature that the surface-
water everywhere penetrates its fissures; at least such is the
character of the neighbourhood we visited, the only water being
small springs trickling out close to the sea-beach.

In the forests of Ke, arboreal Liliaceae and Pandanaceae abound,
and give a character to the vegetation in the more exposed rocky
places. Flowers were scarce, and there were not many orchids, but
I noticed the fine white butterfly-orchis, Phalaenopsis
grandiflora, or a species closely allied to it. The freshness and
vigour of the vegetation was very pleasing, and on such an arid
rocky surface was a sure indication of a perpetually humid
climate. Tall clean trunks, many of them buttressed, and immense
trees of the fig family, with aerial roots stretching out and
interlacing and matted together for fifty or a hundred feet above
the ground, were the characteristic features; and there was an
absence of thorny shrubs and prickly rattans, which would have
made these wilds very pleasant to roam in, had it not been for
the sharp honeycombed rocks already alluded to. In damp places a
fine undergrowth of broadleaved herbaceous plants was found,
about which swarmed little green lizards, with tails of the most
"heavenly blue," twisting in and out among the stalks and foliage
so actively that I often caught glimpses of their tails only,
when they startled me by their resemblance to small snakes.
Almost the only sounds in these primeval woods proceeded from two
birds, the red lories, who utter shrill screams like most of the
parrot tribe, and the large green nutmeg-pigeon, whose voice is
either a loud and deep boom, like two notes struck upon a very
large gong, or sometimes a harsh toad-like croak, altogether
peculiar and remarkable. Only two quadrupeds are said by the
natives to inhabit the island--a wild pig and a Cuscus, or
Eastern opossum, of neither of which could I obtain specimens.

The insects were more abundant, and very interesting. Of
butterflies I caught thirty-five species, most of them new to me,
and many quite unknown in European collections. Among them was
the fine yellow and black Papilio euchenor, of which but few
specimens had been previously captured, and several other
handsome butterflies of large size, as well as some beautiful
little "blues," and some brilliant dayflying moths. The beetle
tribe were less abundant, yet I obtained some very fine and rare
species. On the leaves of a slender shrub in an old clearing I
found several fine blue and black beetles of the genus Eupholus,
which almost rival in beauty- the diamond beetles of South
America. Some cocoa-nut palms in blossom on the beach were
frequented by a fine green floral beetle (Lomaptera which, when
the flowers were shaken, flew off like a small swarm of bees. I
got one of our crew to climb up the tree, and he brought me a
good number in his hand; and seeing they were valuable, I sent
him up again with my net to shake the flowers into, and thus
secured a large quantity. My best capture, however, was the
superb insect of the Buprestis family, already mentioned as
having been obtained from the natives, who told me they found it
in rotten trees in the mountains.

In the forest itself the only common and conspicuous coleoptera
were two tiger beetles. One, Therates labiata, was much larger
than our green tiger beetle, of a purple black colour, with green
metallic glosses, and the broad upper lip of a bright yellow. It
was always found upon foliage, generally of broad-leaned
herbaceous plants, and in damp and gloomy situations, taking
frequent short flights from leaf to leaf, and preserving an alert
attitude, as if always looking out for its prey. Its vicinity
could be immediately ascertained, often before it was seen, by a
very pleasant odour, like otto of roses, which it seems to emit
continually, and which may probably be attractive to the small
insects on which it feeds. The other, Tricondyla aptera, is one
of the most curious forms in the family of the Cicindelidae, and
is almost exclusively confined to the Malay islands. In shape it
resembles a very large ant, more than an inch long, and of a
purple black colour. Like an ant also it is wingless, and is
generally found ascending trees, passing around the trunks in a
spiral direction when approached, to avoid capture, so that it
requires a sudden run and active fingers to secure a specimen.
This species emits the usual fetid odour of the ground beetles.
My collections during our four days' stay at Ke were as follow:--
Birds, 13 species; insects, 194 species; and 3 kinds of land-

There are two kinds of people inhabiting these islands--the
indigenes, who have the Papuan characters strongly marked, and
who are pagans; and a mixed race, who are nominally Mahometans,
and wear cotton clothing, while the former use only a waist cloth
of cotton or bark. These Mahometans are said to have been driven
out of Banda by the early European settlers. They were probably a
brown race, more allied to the Malays, and their mixed
descendants here exhibit great variations of colour, hair, and
features, graduating between the Malay and Papuan types. It is
interesting to observe the influence of the early Portuguese
trade with these countries in the words of their language, which
still remain in use even among these remote and savage islanders.
"Lenco" for handkerchief, and "faca" for knife, are here used to
the exclusion of the proper Malay terms. The Portuguese and
Spaniards were truly wonderful conquerors and colonizers. They
effected more rapid changes in the countries they conquered than
any other nations of modern times, resembling the Romans in their
power of impressing their own language, religion, and manners on
rode and barbarous tribes.

The striking contrast of character between these people and the
Malays is exemplified in many little traits. One day when I was
rambling in the forest, an old man stopped to look at me catching
an insect. He stood very quiet till I had pinned and put it away
in my collecting box, when he could contain himself no longer,
but bent almost double, and enjoyed a hearty roar of laughter.
Every one will recognise this as a true negro trait. A Malay
would have stared, and asked with a tone of bewilderment what I
was doing, for it is but little in his nature to laugh, never
heartily, and still less at or in the presence of a stranger, to
whom, however, his disdainful glances or whispered remarks are
less agreeable than the most boisterous open expression of
merriment. The women here were not so much frightened at
strangers, or made to keep themselves so much secluded as among
the Malay races; the children were more merry and had the "nigger
grin," while the noisy confusion of tongues among the men, and
their excitement on very ordinary occasions, are altogether
removed from the general taciturnity and reserve of the Malay.

The language of the Ke people consists of words of one, two, or
three syllables in about equal proportions, and has many
aspirated and a few guttural sounds. The different villages have
slight differences of dialect, but they are mutually
intelligible, and, except in words that have evidently been
introduced during a long-continued commercial intercourse, seem
to have no affinity whatever with the Malay languages.

Jan. 6th.-The small boats being finished, we sailed for Aru at 4
P.M., and as we left the shores of Ke had a line view of its
rugged and mountainous character; ranges of hills, three or four
thousand feet high, stretching southwards as far as the eye could
reach, everywhere covered with a lofty, dense, and unbroken
forest. We had very light winds, and it therefore took us thirty
hours to make the passage of sixty miles to the low, or flat, but
equally forest-covered Aru Islands, where we anchored in the
harbour of Dobbo at nine in the evening of the next day.

My first voyage in a prau being thus satisfactorily terminated, I
must, before taking leave of it for some months, bear testimony
to the merits of the queer old-world vessel. Setting aside all
ideas of danger, which is probably, after all, not more than in
any other craft, I must declare that I have never, either before
or since, made a twenty days' voyage so pleasantly, or perhaps,
more correctly speaking, with so little discomfort. This I
attribute chiefly to having my small cabin on deck, and entirely
to myself, to having my own servants to wait upon me, and to the
absence of all those marine-store smells of paint, pitch, tallow,
and new cordage, which are to me insupportable. Something is also
to be put down to freedom from all restraint of dress, hours of
meals, &c., and to the civility and obliging disposition of the
captain. I had agreed to have my meals with him, but whenever I
wished it I had them in my own berth, and at what hours I felt
inclined. The crew were all civil and good-tempered, and with
very little discipline everything went on smoothly, and the
vessel was kept very clean and in pretty good order, so that on
the whole I was much delighted with the trip, and was inclined to
rate the luxuries of the semi-barbarous prau as surpassing those
of the most magnificent screw-steamer, that highest result of our




On the 8th of January, 1857, I landed at Dobbo, the trading
settlement of the Bugis and Chinese, who annually visit the Aru
Islands. It is situated on the small island of Wamma, upon a spit
of sand which projects out to the north, and is just wide enough
to contain three rows of houses. Though at first sight a most
strange and desolate-looking place to build a village on, it has
many advantages. There is a clear entrance from the west among
the coral reefs that border the land, and there is good anchorage
for vessels, on one side of the village or the other, in both the
east and west monsoons. Being fully exposed to the sea-breezes in
three directions it is healthy, and the soft sandy heath offers
great facilities for hauling up the praus, in order to secure
them from sea-worms and prepare them for the homeward voyage. At
its southern extremity the sand-bank merges in the beach of the
island, and is backed by a luxuriant growth of lofty forest. The
houses are of various sizes, but are all built after one pattern,
being merely large thatched sheds, a small portion of which, next
the entrance, is used as a dwelling, while the rest is parted
oft; and often divided by one or two floors, in order better to
stow away merchandise and native produce.

As we had arrived early in the season, most of the houses were
empty, and the place looked desolate in the extreme--the whole of
the inhabitants who received us on our landing amounting to about
half-a-dozen Bugis and Chinese. Our captain, Herr Warzbergen, had
promised to obtain a house for me, but unforeseen difficulties
presented themselves. One which was to let had no roof; and the
owner, who was building it on speculation, could not promise to
finish it in less than a month. Another, of which the owner was
dead, and which I might therefore take undisputed possession of
as the first comer, wanted considerable repairs, and no one could
be found to do the work, although about four times its value was
offered. The captain, therefore, recommended me to take
possession of a pretty good house near his own, whose owner was
not expected for some weeks; and as I was anxious to be on shore,
I immediately had it cleared out, and by evening had all my
things housed, and was regularly installed as an inhabitant of
Dobbo. I had brought with me a cane chair, and a few light
boards, which were soon rigged up into a table and shelves. A
broad bamboo bench served as sofa and bedstead, my boxes were
conveniently arranged, my mats spread on the floor, a window cut
in the palm-leaf wall to light my table, and though the place was
as miserable and gloomy a shed as could be imagined, I felt as
contented as if I had obtained a well-furnished mansion, and
looked forward to a month's residence in it with unmixed

The next morning, after an early breakfast, I set off to explore
the virgin forests of Aru, anxious to set my mind at rest as to
the treasures they were likely to yield, and the probable success
of my long-meditated expedition. A little native imp was our
guide, seduced by the gift of a German knife, value three-
halfpence, and my Macassar boy Baderoon brought his chopper to
clear the path if necessary.

We had to walk about half a mile along the beach, the ground
behind the village being mostly swampy, and then turned into the
forest along a path which leads to the native village of Wamma,
about three miles off on the other side of the island. The path
was a narrow one, and very little used, often swampy and
obstructed by fallen trees, so that after about a mile we lost it
altogether, our guide having turned back, and we were obliged to
follow his example. In the meantime, however, I had not been
idle, and my day's captures determined the success of my journey
in an entomological point of view. I had taken about thirty
species of butterflies, more than I had ever captured in a day
since leaving the prolific banks of the Amazon, and among them
were many most rare and beautiful insects, hitherto only known by
a few specimens from New Guinea. The large and handsome spectre
butterfly, Hestia durvillei; the pale-winged peacock butterfly,
Drusilla catops; and the most brilliant and wonderful of the
clear-winged moths, Cocytia durvillei, were especially
interesting, as well, as several little "blues," equalling in
brilliancy and beauty anything the butterfly world can produce.
In the other groups of insects I was not so successful, but this
was not to be wondered at in a mere exploring ramble, when only
what is most conspicuous and novel attracts the attention.
Several pretty beetles, a superb "bug," and a few nice land-
shells were obtained, and I returned in the afternoon well
satisfied with my first trial of the promised land.

The next two days were so wet and windy that there was no going
out; but on the succeeding one the sun shone brightly, and I had
the good fortune to capture one of the most magnificent insects
the world contains, the great bird-winged butterfly, Ornithoptera
Poseidon. I trembled with excitement as I saw it coming
majestically towards me, and could hardly believe I had really
succeeded in my stroke till I had taken it out of the net and was
gazing, lost in admiration, at the velvet black and brilliant
green of its wings, seven inches across, its bolder body, and
crimson breast. It is true I had seen similar insects in cabinets
at home, but it is quite another thing to capture such oneself-to
feel it struggling between one's fingers, and to gaze upon its
fresh and living beauty, a bright gem shirring out amid the
silent gloom of a dark and tangled forest. The village of Dobbo
held that evening at least one contented man.

Jan. 26th.--Having now been here a fortnight, I began to
understand a little of the place and its peculiarities. Praus
continually arrived, and the merchant population increased almost
daily. Every two or three days a fresh house was opened, and the
necessary repairs made. In every direction men were bringing in
poles, bamboos, rattans, and the leaves of the nipa palm to
construct or repair the walls, thatch, doors, and shutters of
their houses, which they do with great celerity. Some of the
arrivals were Macassar men or Bugis, but more from the small
island of Goram, at the east end of Ceram, whose inhabitants are
the petty traders of the far East. Then the natives of Aru come
in from the other side of the islands (called here "blakang
tana," or "back of the country") with the produce they have
collected during the preceding six months, and which they now
sell to the traders, to some of whom they are most likely in

Almost all, or I may safely say all, the new arrivals pay me a
visit, to see with their own eyes the unheard-of phenomenon of a
person come to stay at Dobbo who does not trade! They have their
own ideas of the uses that may possibly be made of stuffed birds,
beetles, and shells which are not the right shells--that is,
"mother-of-pearl." They every day bring me dead and broken
shells, such as l can pick up by hundreds on the beach, and seem
quite puzzled and distressed when I decline them. If, however,
there are any snail shells among a lot, I take them, and ask for
more--a principle of selection so utterly unintelligible to them,
that they give it up in despair, or solve the problem by imputing
hidden medical virtue to those which they see me preserve so

These traders are all of the Malay race, or a mixture of which
Malay is the chef ingredient, with the exception of a few
Chinese. The natives of Aru, on the other hand, are, Papuans,
with black or sooty brown skims, woolly or frizzly hair, thick-
ridged prominent noses, and rather slender limbs. Most of them
wear nothing but a waist-cloth, and a few of them may be seen all
day long wandering about the half-deserted streets of Dobbo
offering their little bit of merchandise for sale.

Living in a trader's house everything is brought to me as well as
to the rest,--bundles of smoked tripang, or "beche de mer,"
looking like sausages which have been rolled in mud and then
thrown up the chimney; dried sharks' fins, mother-of-pearl
shells, as well as birds of Paradise, which, however, are so
dirty and so badly preserved that I have as yet found no
specimens worth purchasing. When I hardly look at the articles,
and make no offer for them, they seem incredulous, and, as if
fearing they have misunderstood me, again offer them, and declare
what they want in return--knives, or tobacco, or sago, or
handkerchiefs. I then have to endeavour to explain, through any
interpreter who may be at hand, that neither tripang nor pearl
oyster shells have any charms for me, and that I even decline to
speculate in tortoiseshell, but that anything eatable I will buy-
-fish, or turtle, or vegetables of any sort. Almost the only
food, however, that we can obtain with any regularity, are fish
and cockles of very good quality, and to supply our daily wants
it is absolutely necessary to be always provided with four
articles--tobacco, knives, sago-cakes, and Dutch copper doits--
because when the particular thing asked for is not forthcoming,
the fish pass on to the next house, and we may go that day
without a dinner. It is curious to see the baskets and buckets
used here. The cockles are brought in large volute shells,
probably the Cymbium ducale, while gigantic helmet-shells, a
species of Cassis, suspended by a rattan handle, form the vessels
in which fresh water is daily carried past my door. It is painful
to a naturalist to see these splendid shells with their inner
whorls ruthlessly broken away to fit them for their ignoble use.

My collections, however, got on but slowly, owing to the
unexpectedly bad weather, violent winds with heavy showers having
been so continuous as only to give me four good collecting days
out of the first sixteen I spent here. Yet enough had been
collected to show me that with time and fine weather I might
expect to do something good. From the natives I obtained some
very fine insects and a few pretty land-shells; and of the small
number of birds yet shot more than half were known New Guinea
species, and therefore certainly rare in European collections,
while the remainder were probably new. In one respect my hopes
seemed doomed to be disappointed. I had anticipated the pleasure
of myself preparing fine specimens of the Birds of Paradise, but
I now learnt that they are all at this season out of plumage, and
that it is in September and October that they have the long
plumes of yellow silky feathers in full perfection. As all the
praus return in July, I should not be able to spend that season
in Aru without remaining another whole year, which was out of the
question. I was informed, however, that the small red species,
the "King Bird of Paradise," retains its plumage at all seasons,
and this I might therefore hope to get.

As I became familiar with the forest scenery of the island,
(perceived it to possess some characteristic features that
distinguished it from that of Borneo and Malacca, while, what is
very singular and interesting, it recalled to my mind the half-
forgotten impressions of the forests of Equatorial America. For
example, the palms were much more abundant than I had generally
found them in the East, more generally mingled with the other
vegetation, more varied in form and aspect, and presenting some
of those lofty and majestic smooth-stemmed, pinnate-leaved
species which recall the Uauassu (Attalea speciosa) of the
Amazon, but which I had hitherto rarely met with in the Malayan

In animal life the immense number and variety of spiders and of
lizards were circumstances that recalled the prolific regions of
south America, more especially the abundance and varied colours
of the little jumping spiders which abound on flowers and
foliage, and are often perfect gems of beauty. The web-spinning
species were also more numerous than I had ever seen them, and
were a great annoyance, stretching their nets across the
footpaths just about the height of my face; and the threads
composing these are so strong and glutinous as to require much
trouble to free oneself from them. Then their inhabitants, great
yellow-spotted monsters with bodies two inches long, and legs in
proportion, are not pleasant to o run one's nose against while
pursuing some gorgeous butterfly, or gazing aloft in search of
some strange-voiced bird. I soon found it necessary not only to
brush away the web, but also to destroy the spinner; for at
first, having cleared the path one day, I found the next morning
that the industrious insects had spread their nets again in the
very same places.

The lizards were equally striking by their numbers, variety, and
the situations in which they were found. The beautiful blue-
tailed species so abundant in Ke was not seen here. The Aru
lizards are more varied but more sombre in their colours--shades
of green, grey, brown, and even black, being very frequently
seen. Every shrub and herbaceous plant was alive with them, every
rotten trunk or dead branch served as a station for some of these
active little insect-hunters, who, I fear, to satisfy their gross
appetites, destroy many gems of the insect world, which would
feast the eyes and delight the heart of our more discriminating
entomologists. Another curious feature of the jungle here was the
multitude of sea-shells everywhere met with on the ground and
high up on the branches and foliage, all inhabited by hermit-
crabs, who forsake the beach to wander in the forest. I lave
actually seen a spider carrying away a good-sized shell and
devouring its (probably juvenile) tenant. On the beach, which I
had to walls along every morning to reach the forest, these
creatures swarmed by thousands. Every dead shell, from the
largest to the most minute, was appropriated by them. They formed
small social parties of ten or twenty around bits of stick or
seaweed, but dispersed hurriedly at the sound of approaching
footsteps. After a windy night, that nasty-looking Chinese
delicacy the sea-slug was sometimes thrown up on the beach, which
was at such times thickly strewn with some of the most beautiful
shells that adorn our cabinets, along with fragments and masses
of coral and strange sponges, of which I picked up more than
twenty different sorts. In many cases sponge and coral are so
much alike that it is only on touching them that they can be
distinguished. Quantities of seaweed, too, are thrown up; but
strange as it may seem, these are far less beautiful and less
varied than may be found on any favourable part of our own

The natives here, even those who seem to be of pare Papuan race,
were much more reserved and taciturn than those of Ke. This is
probably because I only saw them as yet among strangers and in
small parties, One must see the savage at home to know what he
really is. Even here, however, the Papuan character sometimes
breaks out. Little boys sing cheerfully as they walk along, or
talk aloud to themselves (quite a negro characteristic); and try
all they can, the men cannot conceal their emotions in the true
Malay fashion. A number of them were one day in my house, and
having a fancy to try what sort of eating tripang would be, I
bought a couple, paying for them with such an extravagant
quantity of tobacco that the seller saw I was a green customer.
He could not, however, conceal his delight, but as he smelt the
fragrant weed, and exhibited the large handful to his companions,
he grinned and twisted and gave silent chuckles in a most
expressive pantomime. I had often before made the same mistake in
paying a Malay for some trifle. In no case, however, was his
pleasure visible on his countenance--a dull and stupid hesitation
only showing his surprise, which would be exhibited exactly in
the same way whether he was over or under paid. These little
moral traits are of the greatest interest when taken in connexion
with physical features. They do not admit of the same ready
explanation by external causes which is so frequently applied to
the latter. Writers on the races of mankind have too often to
trust to the information of travellers who pass rapidly from
country to country, and thus have few opportunities of becoming
acquainted with peculiarities of national character, or even of
ascertaining what is really the average physical conformation of
the people. Such are exceedingly apt to be deceived in places
where two races have long, intermingled, by looking on
intermediate forms and mixed habits as evidences of a natural
transition from one race to the other, instead of an artificial
mixture of two distinct peoples; and they will be the more
readily led into this error if, as in the present case, writers
on the subject should have been in the habit of classing these
races as mere varieties of one stock, as closely related in
physical conformation as from their geographical proximity one
might suppose they ought to be. So far as I have yet seen, the
Malay and Papuan appear to be as widely separated as any two
human races that exist, being distinguished by physical, mental,
and moral characteristics, all of the most marked and striking

Feb 5th.--I took advantage of a very fine calm day to pay a visit
to the island of Wokan, which is about a mile from us, and forms
part of the "canna busar," or mainland of Aru. This is a large
island, extending from north to south about a hundred miles, but
so low in many parts as to be intersected by several creeks,
which run completely through it, offering a passage for good-
sized vessels. On the west side, where we are, there are only a
few outlying islands, of which ours (Wamma) is the principal; but
on the east coast are a great number of islands, extending some
miles beyond the mainland, and forming the "blakang tang," or
"back country," of the traders, being the principal seat of the
pearl, tripang, and tortoiseshell fisheries. To the mainland many
of the birds and animals of the country are altogether confined;
the Birds of paradise, the black cockatoo, the great brush-
turkey, and the cassowary, are none of them found on Wamma or any
of the detached islands. I did not, however, expect in this
excursion to see any decided difference in the forest or its
productions, and was therefore agreeably surprised. The beach was
overhung with the drooping branches of lame trees, loaded with
Orchideae, ferns, and other epiphytal plants. In the forest there
was more variety, some parts being dry, and with trees of a lower
growth, while in others there were some of the most beautiful
palms I have ever seen, with a perfectly straight, smooth,
slender stem, a hundred feet high, and a crown of handsome
drooping leaves. But the greatest novelty and most striking
feature to my eyes were the tree-ferns, which, after seven years
spent in the tropics, I now saw in perfection for the first time.
All I had hitherto met with were slender species, not more than
twelve feet high, and they gave not the least idea of the supreme
beauty of trees bearing their elegant heads of fronds more than
thirty feet in the air, like those which were plentifully
scattered about this forest. There is nothing in tropical
vegetation so perfectly beautiful.

My boys shot five sorts of birds, none of which we had obtained
during a month's shooting in Wamma. Two were very pretty
flycatchers, already known from New Guinea; one of them (Monarcha
chrysomela), of brilliant black and bright orange colours, is by
some authors considered to be the most beautiful of all
flycatchers; the other is pure white and velvety black, with a
broad fleshy ring round the eye of are azure blue colour; it is
named the "spectacled flycatcher" (Monarcha telescopthalma), and
was first found in New Guinea, along with the other, by the
French naturalists during the voyage of the discovery-ship

Feb. 18th.--Before leaving Macassar, I had written to the
Governor of Amboyna requesting him to assist me with the native
chiefs of Aru. I now received by a
vessel which had arrived from Amboyna a very polite answer
informing me that orders had been sent to give me every
assistance that I might require; and I was just congratulating
myself on being at length able to get a boat and men to go to the
mainland and explore the interior, when a sudden check carne in
the form of a piratical incursion. A small prau arrived which had
been attacked by pirates and had a man wounded. They were said to
have five boats, but more were expected to be behind and the
traders were all in consternation, fearing that their small
vessels sent trading to the "blakang tana" would be plundered.
The Aru natives were of course dreadfully alarmed, as these
marauders attack their villages, burn and murder, and carry away
women and children for slaves. Not a man will stir from his
village for some time, and I must remain still a prisoner in
Dobbo. The Governor of Amboyna, out of pure kindness, has told
the chiefs that they are to be responsible for my safety, so that
they have au excellent excuse for refusing to stir.

Several praus went out in search of the pirates, sentinels were
appointed, and watch-fires lighted on the beach to guard against
the possibility of a night attack, though it was hardly thought
they would be bold enough to attempt to plunder Dobbo. The next
day the praus returned, and we had positive information that
these scourges of the Eastern seas were really among us. One of
Herr Warzbergen's small praus also arrived in a sad plight. It
had been attacked six days before, just as it was returning, from
the "blakang tana." The crew escaped in their small boat and hid
in the jungle, while the pirates came up and plundered the
vessel. They took away everything but the cargo of mother-of-
pearl shell, which was too bulky for them. All the clothes and
boxes of the men, and the sails and cordage of the prau, were
cleared off. They had four large war boats, and fired a volley of
musketry as they came up, and sent off their small boats to the
attack. After they had left, our men observed from their
concealment that three had stayed behind with a small boat; and
being driven to desperation by the sight of the plundering, one
brave fellow swam off armed only with his parang, or chopping-
knife, and coming on them unawares made a desperate attack,
killing one and wounding the other two, receiving himself numbers
of slight wounds, and then swimming off again when almost
exhausted. Two other prams were also plundered, and the crew of
one of them murdered to a man. They are said to be Sooloo
pirates, but have Bugis among them. On their way here they have
devastated one of the small islands east of Ceram. It is now
eleven years since they have visited Aru, and by thus making
their attacks at long and uncertain intervals the alarm dies
away, and they find a population for the most part unarmed and
unsuspicious of danger. None of the small trading vessels now
carry arms, though they did so for a year or two after the last
attack, which was just the time when there was the least occasion
for it. A week later one of the smaller pirate boats was captured
in the "blakang tana." Seven men were killed and three taken
prisoners. The larger vessels have been often seen but cannot be
caught, as they have very strong crews, and can always escape by
rowing out to sea in the eye of the wind, returning at night.
They will thus remain among the innumerable islands and channels,
till the change of the monsoon enables them to sail westward.

March 9th.-For four or five days we have had a continual gale of
wind, with occasional gusts of great fury, which seem as if they
would send Dobbo into the sea. Rain accompanies it almost every
alternate hour, so that it is not a pleasant time. During such
weather I can do little, but am busy getting ready a boat I have
purchased, for an excursion into the interior. There is immense
difficulty about men, but I believe the "Orang-kaya," or head man
of Wamma, will accompany me to see that I don't run into danger.

Having become quite an old inhabitant of Dobbo, I will endeavour
to sketch the sights and sounds that pervade it, and the manners
and customs of its inhabitants. The place is now pretty full, and
the streets present a far more cheerful aspect than when we first
arrived. Every house is a store, where the natives barter their
produce for what they are most in need of. Knives, choppers,
swords, guns, tobacco, gambier, plates, basins, handkerchiefs,
sarongs, calicoes, and arrack, are the principal articles wanted
by the natives; but some of the stores contain also tea, coffee,
sugar, wine, biscuits, &c., for the supply of the traders; and
others are full of fancy goods, china ornaments, looking-glasses,
razors, umbrellas, pipes, and purses, which take the fancy of the
wealthier natives. Every fine day mats are spread before the
doors and the tripang is put out to dry, as well as sugar, salt,
biscuit, tea, cloths, and other things that get injured by an
excessively moist atmosphere. In the morning and evening, spruce
Chinamen stroll about or chat at each other's doors, in blue
trousers, white jacket, and a queue into which red silk is
plaited till it reaches almost to their heels. An old Bugis hadji
regularly takes an evening stroll in all the dignity of flowing
green silk robe and gay turban, followed by two small boys
carrying his sirih and betel boxes.

In every vacant space new houses are being built, and all sorts
of odd little cooking-sheds are erected against the old ones,
while in some out-of-the-way corners, massive log pigsties are
tenanted by growing porkers; for how can the Chinamen exist six
months without one feast of pig?

Here and there are stalls where bananas are sold, and every
morning two little boys go about with trays of sweet rice and
crated cocoa-nut, fried fish, or fried plantains; and whichever
it may be, they have but one cry, and that is
"Chocolat-t--t!" This must be a Spanish or Portuguese cry, handed
down for centuries, while its meaning has been lost. The Bugis
sailors, while hoisting the main sail, cry out, "Vela a vela,--
vela, vela, vela!" repeated in an everlasting chorus. As "vela"
is Portuguese a sail, I supposed I had discovered the origin of
this, but I found afterwards they used the same cry when heaving
anchor, and often chanted it to "hela," which is so much an
universal expression of exertion and hard breathing that it is
most probably a mere interjectional cry.

I daresay there are now near five hundred people in Dobbo of
various races, all met in this remote corner of the East, as they
express it, "to look for their fortune;" to get money any way
they can. They are most of them people who have the very worst
reputation for honesty as well as every other form of morality,--
Chinese, Bugis, Ceramese, and half-caste Javanese, with a
sprinkling of half-wild Papuans from Timor, Babber, and other
islands, yet all goes on as yet very quietly. This motley,
ignorant, bloodthirsty, thievish population live here without the
shadow of a government, with no police, no courts, and no
lawyers; yet they do not cut each other's throats, do not plunder
each other day and night, do not fall into the anarchy such a
state of things might be supposed to lead to. It is very
extraordinary! It puts strange thoughts into one's head about the
mountain-load of government under which people exist in Europe,
and suggests the idea that we may be over-governed. Think of the
hundred Acts of Parliament annually enacted to prevent us, the
people of England, from cutting each other's throats, or from
doing to our neighbour as we would not be done by. Think of the
thousands of lawyers and barristers whose whole lives are spent
in telling us what the hundred Acts of Parliament mean, and one
would be led to infer that if Dobbo has too little law England
has too much.

Here we may behold in its simplest form the genius of Commerce at
the work of Civilization. Trade is the magic that keeps all at
peace, and unites these discordant elements into a well-behaved
community. All are traders, and know that peace and order are
essential to successful trade, and thus a public opinion is
created which puts down all lawlessness. Often in former year,
when strolling along the Campong Glam in Singapore, I have
thought how wild and ferocious the Bugis sailors looked, and how
little should like to trust myself among them. But now I find
them to be very decent, well-behaved fellows; I walk daily
unarmed in the jungle, where I meet them continually; I sleep in
a palm-leaf hut, which any one may enter, with as little fear and
as little danger of thieves or murder as if I were under the
protection of the Metropolitan police. It is true the Dutch
influence is felt here. The islands are nominally under the
government of the Moluccas, which the native chiefs acknowledge;
and in most years a commissioner arrives from Amboyna, who makes
the tour of the islands, hears complaints, settle disputes, and
carries away prisoner any heinous offender. This year he is not
expected to come, as no orders have yet been received to prepare
for him; so the people of Dobbo will probably be left to their
own devices. One day a man was caught in the act of stealing a
piece of iron from Herr Warzbergen's house, which he had entered
by making a hole through the thatch wall. In the evening the
chief traders of the place, Bugis and Chinese, assembled, the
offender was tried and found guilty, and sentenced
to receive twenty lashes on the spot. They were given with a
small rattan in the middle of the street, not very severely, the
executioner appeared to sympathise a little with the culprit. The
disgrace seemed to be thought as much of as the pain; for though
any amount of clever cheating is thought rather meritorious than
otherwise, open robbery and housebreaking meet with universal



(MARCH TO MAY 1857.)

MY boat was at length ready, and having obtained two men besides
my own servants, after an enormous amount of talk and trouble, we
left Dobbo on the morning of March 13th, for the mainland of Aru.
By noon we reached the mouth of a small river or creek, which we
ascended, winding among mangrove, swamps, with here and there a
glimpse of dry land. In two hours we reached a house, or rather
small shed, of the most miserable description, which our
steersman, the "Orang-kaya" of Wamma, said was the place we were
to stay at, and where he had assured me we could get every kind
of bird and beast to be found in Aru. The shed was occupied by
about a dozen men, women, and children; two cooking fires were
burning in it, and there seemed little prospect of my obtaining
any accommodation. I however deferred inquiry till I had seen the
neighbouring forest, and immediately started off with two men,
net, and guns, along a path at the back of the house. In an
hour's walk I saw enough to make me determine to give the place a
trial, and on my return, finding the "Orang-kaya" was in a strong
fever-fit and unable to do anything, I entered into negotiations
with the owner of the house for the use of a slip at one end of
it about five feet wide, for a week, and agreed to pay as rent
one "parang," or chopping-knife. I then immediately got my boxes
and bedding out of the boat, hung up a shelf for my bird-skins
and insects, and got all ready for work next morning. My own boys
slept in the boat to guard the remainder of my property; a
cooking place sheltered by a few mats was arranged under a tree
close by, and I felt that degree of satisfaction and enjoyment
which I always experience when, after much trouble and delay, I
am on the point of beginning work in a new locality.

One of my first objects was to inquire for the people who are
accustomed to shoot the Paradise birds. They lived at some
distance in the jungle, and a man was sent to call them. When
they arrived, we had a talk by means of the "Orang-kaya "as
interpreter, and they said they thought they could get some. They
explained that they shoot the birds with a bow and arrow, the
arrow having a conical wooden cap fitted to the end as large as a
teacup, so as to kill the bird by the violence of the blow
without making any wound or shedding any blood. The trees
frequented by the birds are very lofty; it is therefore necessary
to erect a small leafy covering or hut among the branches, to
which the hunter mounts before daylight in the morning and
remains the whole day, and whenever a bird alights they are
almost sure of securing it. (See Frontispiece.) They returned to
their homes the same evening, and I never saw anything more of
them, owing, as I afterwards found, to its being too early to
obtain birds in good plumage.

The first two or three days of our stay here were very wet, and I
obtained but few insects or birds, but at length, when I was
beginning to despair, my boy Baderoon returned one day with a
specimen which repaid me for months of delay and expectation. It
was a small bird a little less than a thrush. The greater part of
its plumage was of an intense cinnabar red, with a gloss as of
spun glass. On the head the feathers became short and velvety,
and shaded into rich orange. Beneath, from the breast downwards,
was pure white, with the softness and gloss of silk, and across
the breast a band of deep metallic green separated this colour
from the red of the throat. Above each eye was a round spot of
the same metallic green; the bill was yellow, and the feet and
legs were of a fine cobalt ˇ111e, strikingly contrasting with all
the other parts of the body. Merely in arrangement of colours and
texture of plumage this little bird was a gem of the first water,
yet there comprised only half its strange beauty. Springing from
each side of the breast, and ordinarily lying concealed under the
wings, were little tufts of greyish feathers about two inches
long, and each terminated by a broad band of intense emerald
green. These plumes can be raised at the will of the bird, and
spread out into a pair of elegant fans when the wings are
elevated. But this is not the only ornament. The two middle
feathers of the tail are in the form of slender wires about five
inches long, and which diverge in a beautiful double curve. About
half an inch of the end of this wire is webbed on the outer side
only, awe coloured of a fine metallic green, and being curled
spirally inwards form a pair of elegant glittering buttons,
hanging five inches below the body, and the same distance apart.
These two ornaments, the breast fans and the spiral tipped tail
wires, are altogether unique, not occurring on any other species
of the eight thousand different birds that are known to exist
upon the earth; and, combined with the most exquisite beauty of
plumage, render this one of the most perfectly lovely of the many
lovely productions of nature. My transports of admiration and
delight quite amused my Aru hosts, who saw nothing more in the
"Burong raja" than we do in the robin of the goldfinch.

Thus one of my objects in coming to the far fast was
accomplished. I had obtained a specimen of the King Bird of
Paradise (Paradisea regia), which had been described by Linnaeus
from skins preserved in a mutilated state by the natives. I knew
how few Europeans had ever beheld the perfect little organism I
now gazed upon, and how very imperfectly it was still known in
Europe. The emotions excited in the minds of a naturalist, who
has long desired to see the actual thing which he has hitherto
known only by description, drawing, or badly-preserved external
covering--especially when that thing is of surpassing rarity and
beauty, require the poetic faculty fully to express them. The
remote island in which I found myself situated, in an almost
unvisited sea, far from the tracks of merchant fleets and navies;
the wild luxuriant tropical forest, which stretched far away on
every side; the rude uncultured savages who gathered round me,--
all had their influence in determining the emotions with which I
gazed upon this "thing of beauty." I thought of the long ages of
the past, during which the successive generations of this little
creature had run their course--year by year being born, and
living and dying amid these dark and gloomy woods, with no
intelligent eye to gaze upon their loveliness; to all appearance
such a wanton waste of beauty. Such ideas excite a feeling of
melancholy. It seems sad, that on the one hand such exquisite
creatures should live out their lives and exhibit their charms
only in these wild inhospitable regions, doomed for ages yet to
come to hopeless barbarism; while on the other hand, should
civilized man ever reach these distant lands, and bring moral,
intellectual, and physical light into the recesses of these
virgin forests, we may be sure that he will so disturb the
nicely-balanced relations of organic and inorganic nature as to
cause the disappearance, and finally the extinction, of these
very beings whose wonderful structure and beauty he alone is
fitted to appreciate and enjoy. This consideration must surely
tell us that all living things were _not_ made for man. Many of
them have no relation to him. The cycle of their existence has
gone on independently of his, and is disturbed or broken by every
advance in man's intellectual development; and their happiness
and enjoyment, their loves and hates, their struggles for
existence, their vigorous life and early death, would seem to be
immediately related to their own well-being and perpetuation
alone, limited only by the equal well-being and perpetuation of
the numberless other organisms with which each is more or less
intimately connected.

After the first king-bird was obtained, I went with my men into
the forest, and we were not only rewarded with another in equally
perfect plumage, but I was enabled to see a little of the habits
of both it and the larger species. It frequents the lower trees
of the less dense forests: and is very active, flying strongly
with a whirring sound, and continually hopping or flying from
branch to branch. It eats hard stone-bearing fruits as large as a
gooseberry, and often flutters its wings after the manner of the
South American manakins, at which time it elevates and expands
the beautiful fans with which its breast is adorned. The natives
of Aru call it "Goby-goby."

One day I get under a tree where a number of the Great Paradise
birds were assembled, but they were high up in the thickest of
the foliage, and flying and jumping about so continually that I
could get no good view of them. At length I shot one, but it was
a young specimen, and was entirely of a rich chocolate-brown
colour, without either the metallic green throat or yellow plumes
of the full-grown bird. All that I had yet seen resembled this,
and the natives told me that it would be about two months before
any would be found in full plumage. I still hoped, therefore, to
get some. Their voice is most extraordinary. At early morn,
before the sun has risen, we hear a loud cry of "Wawk-wawk-wawk,
wˇk-wˇk-wˇk," which resounds through the forest, changing its
direction continually. This is the Great Bird of Paradise going
to seek his breakfast. Others soon follow his example; lories and
parroquets cry shrilly, cockatoos scream, king-hunters croak and
bark, and the various smaller birds chirp and whistle their
morning song. As I lie listening to these interesting sounds, I
realize my position as the first European who has ever lived for
months together in the Aru islands, a place which I had hoped
rather than expected ever to visit. I think how many besides my
self have longed to reach these almost fairy realms, and to see
with their own eyes the many wonderful and beautiful things which
I am daily encountering. But now Ali and Baderoon are up and
getting ready their guns and ammunition, and little Brio has his
fire lighted and is boiling my coffee, and I remember that I had
a black cockatoo brought in late last night, which I must skin
immediately, and so I jump up and begin my day's work very

This cockatoo is the first I have seen, and is a great prize. It
has a rather small and weak body, long weak legs, large wings,
and an enormously developed head, ornamented with a magnificent
crest, and armed with a sharp-pointed hoofed bill of immense size
and strength. The plumage is entirely black, but has all over it
the curious powdery white secretion characteristic of cockatoo.
The cheeks are bare, and of an intense blood-red colour. Instead
of the harsh scream of the white cockatoos, its voice is a
somewhat plaintive whistle. The tongue is a curious organ, being
a slender fleshy cylinder of a deep red colour, terminated by a
horny black plate, furrowed across and somewhat prehensile. The
whole tongue has a considerable extensile power. I will here
relate something of the habits of this bird, with which I have
since become acquainted. It frequents the lower parts of the
forest, and is seen singly, or at most two or three together. It
flies slowly and noiselessly, and may be killed by a
comparatively slight wound. It eats various fruits arid seeds,
but seems more particularly attached to the kernel of the kanary-
nut, which grows on a lofty forest tree (Canarium commune),
abundant in the islands where this bird is found; and the manner
in which it gets at these seeds shows a correlation of structure
and habits, which would point out the "kanary" as its special
food. The shell of this nut is so excessively hard that only a
heavy hammer will crack it; it is somewhat triangular, and the
outside is quite smooth. The manner in which the bird opens these
nuts is very curious. Taking one endways in its bill and keeping
it firm by a pressure of the tongue, it cuts a transverse notch
by a lateral sawing motion of the sharp-edged lower mandible.
This done, it takes hold of the nut with its foot, and biting off
a piece of leaf retains it in the deep notch of the upper
mandible, and again seizing the nut, which is prevented from
slipping by the elastic tissue of the leaf, fixes the edge of the
lower mandible in the notch, and by a powerful nip breaks of a
piece of the shell. again taking the nut in its claws, it inserts
the very long and sharp point of the bill and picks out the
kernel, which is seized hold of, morsel by morsel, by the
extensible tongue. Thus every detail of form. and structure in
the extraordinary bill of this bird seems to have its use, and we
may easily conceive that the black cockatoos have maintained
themselves in competition with their more active and more
numerous white allies, by their power of existing on a kind of
food which no other bird is able to extract from its stony shell.
The species is the Microglossum aterrimum of naturalists.

During the two weeks which I spent in this little settlement, I
had good opportunities of observing the natives at their own
home, and living in their usual manner. There is a great monotony
and uniformity in everyday savage life, and it seemed to me a
more miserable existence than when it had the charm of novelty.
To begin with the most important fact in the existence of
uncivilized peoples--their food--the Aru men have no regular
supply, no staff of life, such as bread, rice, mandiocca, maize,
or sago, which are the daily food of a large proportion of
mankind. They have, however, many sorts of vegetables, plantains,
yams, sweet potatoes, and raw sago; and they chew up vast
quantities of sugar-cane, as well as betel-nuts, gambir, and
tobacco. Those who live on the coast have plenty of fish; but
when inland, as we are here, they only go to the sea
occasionally, and then bring home cockles and other shell-fish by
the boatload. Now and then they get wild pig or kangaroo, but too
rarely to form anything like a regular part of their diet, which
is essentially vegetable; and what is of more importance, as
affecting their health, green, watery vegetables, imperfectly
cooked, and even these in varying and often in sufficient
quantities. To this diet may be attributed the prevalence of skin
diseases, and ulcers on the legs and joints. The scurfy skin
disease so common among savages has a close connexion with the
poorness and irregularity of their living. The Malays, who are
never without their daily rice, are generally free from it; the
hill-Dyaks of Borneo, who grow rice and live well, are clean
skinned while the less industrious and less cleanly tribes, who
live for a portion of the year on fruits and vegetables only, are
very subject to this malady. It seems clear that in this, as in
other respects, man is not able to make a beast of himself with
impunity, feeding like the cattle on the herbs and fruits of the
earth, and taking no thought of the morrow. To maintain his
health and beauty he must labour to prepare some farinaceous
product capable of being stored and accumulated, so as to give
him a regular supply of wholesome food. When this is obtained, he
may add vegetables, fruits, and meat with advantage.

The chief luxury of the Aru people, besides betel and tobacco, is
arrack (Java rum), which the traders bring in great quantities
and sell very cheap. A day's fishing or rattan cutting will
purchase at least a half-gallon bottle; and when the tripang or
birds' nests collected during a season are sold, they get whole
boxes, each containing fifteen such bottles, which the inmates of
a house will sit round day and night till they have finished.
They themselves tell me that at such bouts they often tear to
pieces the house they are in, break and destroy everything they
can lay their hands on, and make such an infernal riot as is
alarming to behold.

The houses and furniture are on a par with the food. A rude shed,
supported on rough and slender sticks rather than posts, no
walls, but the floor raised to within a foot of the eaves, is the
style of architecture they usually adopt. Inside there are
partition walls of thatch, forming little boxes or sleeping
places, to accommodate the two or three separate families that
usually live together. A few mats, baskets, and cooking vessels,
with plates and basins purchased from the Macassar traders,
constitute their whole furniture; spears and bows are their
weapons; a sarong or mat forms the clothing of the women, a
waistcloth of the men. For hours or even for days they sit idle
in their houses, the women bringing in the vegetables or sago
which form their food. Sometimes they hunt or fish a little, or
work at their houses or canoes, but they seem to enjoy pure
idleness, and work as little as they can. They have little to
vary the monotony of life, little that can be called pleasure,
except idleness and conversation. And they certainly do talk!
Every evening there is a little Babel around me: but as I
understand not a word of it, I go on with my book or work
undisturbed. Now and then they scream and shout, or laugh
frantically for variety; and this goes on alternately with
vociferous talking of men, women, and children, till long after I
am in my mosquito curtain and sound asleep.

At this place I obtained some light on the complicated mixture of
races in Aru, which would utterly confound an ethnologist. Many
of the, natives, though equally dark with the others, have little
of the Papuan physiognomy, but have more delicate features of the
European type, with more glossy, curling hair: These at first
quite puzzled me, for they have no more resemblance to Malay than
to Papuan, and the darkness of skin and hair would forbid the
idea of Dutch intermixture. Listening to their conversation,
however, I detected some words that were familiar to me. "Accabˇ"
was one; and to be sure that it was not an accidental
resemblance, I asked the speaker in Malay what "accabˇ" meant,
and was told it meant "done or finished," a true Portuguese word,
with its meaning retained. Again, I heard the word "jafui" often
repeated, and could see, without inquiry, that its meaning was
"he's gone," as in Portuguese. "Porco," too, seems a common name,
though the people have no idea of its European meaning. This
cleared up the difficulty. I at once understood that some early
Portuguese traders had penetrated to these islands, and mixed
with the natives, influencing their language, and leaving in
their descendants for many generations the visible
characteristics of their race. If to this we add the occasional
mixture of Malay, Dutch, and Chinese with the indigenous Papuans,
we have no reason to wonder at the curious varieties of form and
feature occasionally to be met with in Aru. In this very house
there was a Macassar man, with an Aru wife and a family of mixed
children. In Dobbo I saw a Javanese and an Amboyna man, each with
an Aru wife and family; and as this kind of mixture has been
going on for at least three hundred years, and probably much
longer, it has produced a decided effect on the physical
characteristics of a considerable portion of the population of
the islands, more especially in Dobbo and the parts nearest to

March 28th.--The "Orang-kaya" being very ill with fever had
begged to go home, and had arranged with one of the men of the
house to go on with me as his substitute. Now that I wanted to
move, the bugbear of the pirates was brought up, and it was
pronounced unsafe to go further than the next small river. This
world not suit me, as I had determined to traverse the channel
called Watelai to the "blakang-tana;" but my guide was firm in
his dread of pirates, of which I knew there was now no danger, as
several vessels had gone in search of them, as well as a Dutch
gunboat which had arrived since I left Dobbo. I had, fortunately,
by this time heard that the Dutch "Commissie" had really arrived,
and therefore threatened that if my guide did not go with me
immediately, I would appeal to the authorities, and he would
certainly be obliged to gig a back the cloth which the "Orang-
kaya" had transferred to him in prepayment. This had the desired
effect; matters were soon arranged, and we started the next
morning. The wind, however, was dead against us, and after rowing
hard till midday we put in to a small river where there were few
huts, to cook our dinners. The place did not look very promising,
but as we could not reach our destination, the Watelai river,
owing to the contrary wind, I thought we might as well wait here
a day or two. I therefore paid a chopper for the use of a small
shed, and got my bed and some boxes on shore. In the evening,
after dark, we were suddenly alarmed by the cry of "Bajak!
bajak!" (Pirates!) The men all seized their bows and spears, and
rushed down to the beach; we got hold of our guns and prepared
for action, but in a few minutes all came back laughing and
chattering, for it had proved to be only a small boat and some of
their own comrades returned from fishing. When all was quiet
again, one of the men, who could speak a little Malay, came to me
and begged me not to sleep too hard. "Why?" said I. "Perhaps the
pirates may really come," said he very seriously, which made me
laugh and assure him I should sleep as hard as I could.

Two days were spent here, but the place was unproductive of
insects or birds of interest, so we made another attempt to get
on. As soon as we got a little away from the land we had a fair
wind, and in six hours' sailing reached the entrance of the
Watelai channel, which divides the most northerly from the middle
portion of Aru. At its mouth this was about half a mile wide, but
soon narrowed, and a mile or two on it assumed entirely the
aspect of a river about the width of the Thames at London,
winding among low but undulating and often hilly country. The
scene was exactly such as might be expected in the interior of a
continent. The channel continued of a uniform average width, with
reaches and sinuous bends, one bank being often precipitous, or
even forming vertical cliffs, while the other was flat and
apparently alluvial; and it was only the pure salt-water, and the
absence of any stream but the slight flux and reflux of the tide,
that would enable a person to tell that he was navigating a
strait and not a river. The wind was fair, and carried us along,
with occasional assistance from our oars, till about three in the
afternoon, when we landed where a little brook formed two or
three basins in the coral rock, and then fell in a miniature
cascade into the salt water river. Here we bathed and cooked our
dinner, and enjoyed ourselves lazily till sunset, when we pursued
our way for two hours snore, and then moored our little vessel to
an overhanging tree for the night.

At five the next morning we started again, and in an hour
overtook four large praus containing the "Commissie," who had
come from Dobbo to make their official tour round the islands,
and had passed us in the eight. I paid a visit to the Dutchmen,
one of whom spoke a little English, but we found that we could
get on much better with Malay. They told me that they had been
delayed going after the pirates to one of the northern islands,
and had seen three of their vessels but could not catch them,
because on being pursued they rowed out in the wind's eye, which
they are enabled to do by having about fifty oars to each boat.
Having had some tea with thorn, I bade them adieu, and turned up
a narrow channel which our pilot said would take us to the
village of Watelai, on the west side- of Are. After going some
miles we found the channel nearly blocked up with coral, so that
our boat grated along the bottom, crunching what may truly be
called the living rock. Sometimes all hands had to get out and
wade, to lighten the vessel and lift it over the shallowest
places; but at length we overcame all obstacles and reached a
wide bay or estuary studded with little rocks and islets, and
opening to the western sea and the numerous islands of the
"blakang-tuna." I now found that the village we were going to was
miles away; that we should have to go out to sea, and round a
rocky point. A squall seemed coming on, and as I have a horror of
small boats at sea, and from all I could learn Watelai village
was not a place to stop at (no birds of Paradise being found
there), I determined to return and go to a village I had heard of
up a tributary of the Watelai river, and situated nearly in the
centre of the mainland of Aru. The people there were said to be
good, and to be accustomed to hunting and bird-catching, being
too far inland to get any part of their food from the sea. While
I was deciding this point the squall burst upon us, and soon
raised a rolling sea in the shallow water, which upset an oil
bottle and a lamp, broke some of my crockery, and threw us all
into confusion. Rowing hard we managed to get back into the main
river by dusk, and looked out for a place to cook our suppers. It
happened to be high water, and a very high tide, so that every
piece of sand or beach was covered, and it was with the greatest
difficulty, and after much groping in the dark, that we
discovered a little sloping piece of rock about two feet square
on which to make a fire and cook some rice. The next day we
continued our way back, and on the following day entered a stream
on the south side of the Watelai river, and ascending to where
navigation ceased found the little village of Wanumbai,
consisting of two large houses surrounded by plantations, amid
the virgin forests of Aru.

As I liked the look of the place, and was desirous of staying
some time, I sent my pilot to try and make a bargain for house
accommodation. The owner and chief man of the place made many
excuses. First, be was afraid I would not like his house, and
then was doubtful whether his son, who was away, would like his
admitting me. I had a long talk with him myself, and tried to
explain what I was doing, and how many things I would buy of
them, and showed him my stock of heads, and knives, and cloth,
and tobacco, all of which I would spend with his family and
friends if he would give me house-room. He seemed a little
staggered at this, and said he, would talk to his wife, and in
the meantime I went for a little walk to see the neighbourhood.
When I carne back, I again sent my pilot, saying that I would go
away if he would not dive me part of his house. In about half an
hour he returned with a demand for about half the cost of
building a house, for the rent of a small portion of it for a few
weeks. As the only difficulty now was a pecuniary one, I got out
about ten yards of cloth, an axe, with a few beads and some
tobacco, and sent them as my final offer for the part of the
house which I had before pointed out. This was accepted after a
little more talk, and I immediately proceeded to take possession.

The house was a good large one, raised as usual about seven feet
on posts, the walls about three or four feet more, with a high-
pitched roof. The floor was of bamboo laths, and in the sloping
roof way an immense shutter, which could be lifted and propped up
to admit light and air. At the end where this was situated the
floor was raised about a foot, and this piece, about ten feet
wide by twenty long, quite open to the rest of the house, was the
portion I was to occupy. At one end of this piece, separated by a
thatch partition, was a cooking place, with a clay floor and
shelves for crockery. At the opposite end I had my mosquito
curtain hung, and round the walls we arranged my boxes and other
stores, fated up a table and seat, and with a little cleaning and
dusting made the place look quite comfortable. My boat was then
hauled up on shore, and covered with palm-leaves, the sails and
oars brought indoors, a hanging-stage for drying my specimens
erected outside the house and another inside, and my boys were
set to clean their gnus and get ail ready for beginning work.

The next day I occupied myself in exploring the paths in the
immediate neighbourhood. The small river up which we had ascended
ceases to be navigable at this point, above which it is a little
rocky brook, which quite dries up in the hot season. There was
now, however, a fair stream of water in it; and a path which was
partly in and partly by the side of the water, promised well for
insects, as I here saw the magnificent blue butterfly, Papilio
ulysses, as well as several other fine species, flopping lazily
along, sometimes resting high up on the foliage which drooped
over the water, at others settling down on the damp rock or on
the edges of muddy pools. A little way on several paths branched
off through patches of second-growth forest to cane-fields,
gardens, and scattered houses, beyond which again the dark wall
of verdure striped with tree-trunks, marked out the limits of the
primeval forests. The voices of many birds promised good
shooting, and on my return I found that my boy s had already
obtained two or three kinds I had not seen before; and in the
evening a native brought me a rare and beautiful species of
ground-thrush (Pitta novaeguinaeae) hitherto only known from New

As I improved my acquaintance with them I became much interested
in these people, who are a fair sample of the true savage
inhabitants of the Aru Islands, tolerably free from foreign
admixture. The house I lived in contained four or five families,
and there were generally from six to a dozen visitors besides.
They kept up a continual row from morning till night--talking,
laughing, shouting, without intermission--not very pleasant, but
interesting as a study of national character. My boy Ali said to
me, "Banyak quot bitchara Orang Aru "(The Aru people are very
strong talkers), never having been accustomed to such eloquence
either in his own or any other country he had hitherto visited.
Of an evening the men, having got over their first shyness, began
to talk to me a little, asking about my country, &c., and in
return I questioned them about any traditions they had of their
own origin. I had, however, very little success, for I could not
possibly make them understand the simple question of where the
Aru people first came from. I put it in every possible way to
them, but it was a subject quite beyond their speculations; they
had evidently never thought of anything of the kind, and were
unable to conceive a thing so remote and so unnecessary to be
thought about, as their own origin. Finding this hopeless, I
asked if they knew when the trade with Aru first began, when the
Bugis and Chinese and Macassar men first came in their praus to
buy tripang and tortoise-shell, and birds' nests, arid Paradise

This they comprehended, but replied that there had always been
the same trade as long as they or their fathers recollected, but
that this was the first time a real white man had come among
them, and, said they, "You see how the people come every day from
all the villages round to look at you." This was very flattering,
and accounted for the great concourse of visitors which I had at
first imagined was accidental. A few years before I had been one
of the gazers at the Zoolus, and the Aztecs in London. Now the
tables were turned upon me, for I was to these people a new and
strange variety of man, and had the honour of affording to them,
in my own person, an attractive exhibition, gratis.

All the men and boys of Aru are expert archers, never stirring
without their bows and arrows. They shoot all sorts of birds, as
well as pigs and kangaroos occasionally, and thus have a
tolerably good supply of meat to eat with their vegetables. The
result of this better living is superior healthiness, well-made
bodies, and generally clear skins. They brought me numbers of
small birds in exchange for beads or tobacco, but mauled them
terribly, notwithstanding my repeated instructions. When they got
a bird alive they would often tie a string to its leg, and keep
it a day or two, till its plumage was so draggled and dirtied as
to be almost worthless. One of the first things I got from there
was a living specimen of the curious and beautiful racquet-tailed
kingfisher. Seeing how much I admired it, they afterwards brought
me several more, which wore all caught before daybreak, sleeping
in cavities of the rocky banks of the stream. My hunters also
shot a few specimens, and almost all of them had the red bill
more or less clogged with mud and earth. This indicates the
habits of the bird, which, though popularly a king-fisher, never
catches fish, but lives on insects and minute shells, which it
picks up in the forest, darting down upon them from its perch on
some low branch. The genus Tanysiptera, to which this bird
belongs, is remarkable for the enormously lengthened tail, which
in all other kingfishers is small and short. Linnaeus named the
species known to him "the goddess kingfisher" (Alcedo dea), from
its extreme grace and beauty, the plumage being brilliant blue
and white, with the bill red, like coral. Several species of
these interesting birds are now known, all confined within the
very limited area which comprises the Moluccas, New Guinea, and
the extreme North of Australia. They resemble each other so
closely that several of them can only be distinguished by careful
comparison. One of the rarest, however, which inhabits New
Guinea, is very distinct from the rest, being bright red beneath
instead of white. That which I now obtained was a new one, and
has been named Tanysiptera hydrocharis, but in general form and
coloration it is exactly similar to the larger species found in
Amboyna, and figured at page 468 of my first volume.

New and interesting birds were continually brought in, either by
my own boys or by the natives, and at the end of a week Ali
arrived triumphant one afternoon with a fine specimen of the
Great Bird of Paradise. The ornamental plumes had not yet
attained their full growth, but the richness of their glossy
orange colouring, and the exquisite delicacy of the loosely
waving feathers, were unsurpassable. At the same time a great
black cockatoo was brought in, as well as a fine fruit-pigeon and
several small birds, so that we were all kept hard at work
skinning till sunset. Just as we had cleared away and packed up
for the night, a strange beast was brought, which had been shot
by the natives. It resembled in size, and in its white woolly
covering, a small fat lamb, but had short legs, hand-like feet
with large claws, and a long prehensile tail. It was a Cuscus (C.
maculatus), one of the curious marsupial animals of the Papuan
region, and I was very desirous to obtain the skin. The owners,
however, said they wanted to eat it; and though I offered them a
good price, and promised to give them all the meat, there was
grout hesitation. Suspecting the reason, I offered, though it was
night, to set to work immediately and get out the body for them,
to which they agreed. The creature was much hacked about, and the
two hind feet almost cut off; but it was the largest and finest
specimen of the kind I had seen; and after an hour's hard work I
handed over the body to the owners, who immediately cut it up and
roasted it for supper.

As this was a very good place for birds, I determined to remain a
month longer, and took the opportunity of a native boat going to
Dobbo, to send Ali for a fresh supply of ammunition and
provisions. They started on the 10th of April, and the house was
crowded with about a hundred men, boys, women, and girls,
bringing their loads of sugar-cane, plantains, sirih-leaf, yams,
&c.; one lad going from each house to sell the produce and make
purchases. The noise was indescribable. At least fifty of the
hundred were always talking at once, and that not in the low
measured tones of the apathetically polite Malay, but with loud
voices, shouts, and screaming laughter, in which the women and
children were even more conspicuous than the men. It was only
while gazing at me that their tongues were moderately quiet,
because their eyes were fully occupied. The black vegetable soil
here overlying the coral rock is very rich, and the sugar-cane
was finer than any I had ever seen. The canes brought to the boat
were often ten and even twelve feet long, and thick in
proportion, with short joints throughout, swelling between the
knots with the, abundance of the rich juice. At Dobbo they get a
high price for it, 1d. to 3d. a stick, and there is an insatiable
demand among the crews of the praus and the Baba fishermen. Here
they eat it continually. They half live on it, and sometimes feed
their pigs with it. Near every house are great heaps of the
refuse cane; and large wicker-baskets to contain this refuse as
it is produced form a regular part of the furniture of a house.
Whatever time of the day you enter, you are sure to find three or
four people with a yard of cane in one hand, a knife in the
other, and a basket between their legs, hacking, paring, chewing,
and basket-filling, with a persevering assiduity which reminds
one of a hungry cow grazing, or of a caterpillar eating up a

After five days' absence the boats returned from Dobbo, bringing
Ali and all the things I had sent for quite safe. A large party
had assembled to be ready to carry home the goods brought, among
which were a good many cocoa-nut, which are a great luxury here.
It seems strange that they should never plant them; but the
reason simply is, that they cannot bring their hearts to bury a
good nut for the prospective advantage of a crop twelve years
hence. There is also the chance of the fruits being dug up and
eaten unless watched night and day. Among the things I had sent
for was a box of arrack, and I was now of course besieged with
requests for a little drop. I gave them a flask (about two
bottles, which was very soon finished, and I was assured that
there were many present who had not had a taste. As I feared my
box would very soon be emptied if I supplied all their demands, I
told them I had given them one, but the second they must pay for,
and that afterwards I must have a Paradise bird for each flask.
They immediately sent round to all the neighbouring houses, and
mustered up a rupee in Dutch copper money, got their second
flask, and drunk it as quickly as the first, and were then very
talkative, but less noisy and importunate than I had expected.
Two or three of them got round me and begged me for the twentieth
time to tell them the name of my country. Then, as they could not
pronounce it satisfactorily, they insisted that I was deceiving
them, and that it was a name of my own invention. One funny old
man, who bore a ludicrous resemblance, to a friend of mine at
home, was almost indignant. "Ung-lung! "said he, "who ever heard
of such a name?--ang lang--anger-lung--that can't be the name of
your country; you are playing with us." Then he tried to give a
convincing illustration. "My country is Wanumbai--anybody can say
Wanumbai. I'm an ` orang-Wanumbai; but, N-glung! who ever heard
of such a name? Do tell us the real name of your country, and
then when you are gone we shall know how to talk about you." To
this luminous argument and remonstrance I could oppose nothing
but assertion, and the whole party remained firmly convinced that
I was for some reason or other deceiving them. They then attacked
me on another point--what all the animals and birds and insects
and shells were preserved so carefully for. They had often asked
me this before, and I had tried to explain to them that they
would be stuffed, and made to look as if alive, and people in my
country would go to look at them. But this was not satisfying; in
my country there must be many better things to look at, and they
could not believe I would take so much trouble with their birds
and beasts just for people to look at. They did not want to look
at them; and we, who made calico and glass and knives, and all
sorts of wonderful things, could not want things from Aru to look
at. They had evidently been thinking about it, and had at length
got what seemed a very satisfactory theory; for the same old man
said to me, in a low, mysterious voice, "What becomes of them
when you go on to the sea?" "Why, they are all packed up in
boxes," said I "What did you think became of them?" "They all
come to life again, don't they?" said he; and though I tried to
joke it off, and said if they did we should have plenty to eat at
sea, he stuck to his opinion, and kept repeating, with an air of
deep conviction, "Yes, they all come to life again, that's what
they do--they all come to life again."

After a little while, and a good deal of talking among
themselves, he began again--"I know all about it--oh yes! Before
you came we had rain every day--very wet indeed; now, ever since
you have been here, it is fine hot weather. Oh, yes! I know all
about it; you can't deceive me." And so I was set down as a
conjurer, and was unable to repel the charge. But the conjurer
was completely puzzled by the next question: "What," said the old
man, "is the great ship, where the Bugis and Chinamen go to sell
their things? It is always in the great sea--its name is Jong;
tell us all about it." In vain I inquired what they knew about
it; they knew nothing but that it was called "Jong," and was
always in the sea, and was a very great ship, and concluded with,
"Perhaps that is your country?" Finding that I could not or would
not tell them anything about "Jong," there came more regrets that
I would not tell them the real name of my country; and then a
long string of compliments, to the effect that I was a much
better sort of a person than the Bugis and Chinese, who sometimes
came to trade with them, for I gave them things for nothing, and
did not try to cheat them. How long would I stop? was the next
earnest inquiry. Would I stay two or three months? They would get
me plenty of birds and animals, and I might soon finish all the
goods I had brought, and then, said the old spokesman, "Don't go
away, but send for more things from Dobbo, and stay here a year
or two." And then again the old story, "Do tell us the name of
your country. We know the Bugis men, and the Macassar men, and
the Java men, and the China men; only you, we don't know from
what country you come. Ung-lung! it can't be; I know that is not
the name of your country." Seeing no end to this long talk, I
said I was tired, and wanted to go to sleep; so after begging--
one a little bit of dry fish for his supper, and another a little
salt to eat with his sago--they went off very quietly, and I went
outside and took a stroll round the house by moonlight, thinking
of the simple people and the strange productions of Aru, and then
turned in under my mosquito curtain; to sleep with a sense of
perfect security in the midst of these good-natured savages.

We now had seven or eight days of hot and dry weather, which
reduced the little river to a succession of shallow pools
connected by the smallest possible thread of trickling water. If
there were a dry season like that of Macassar, the Aru Islands
would be uninhabitable, as there is no part of them much above a
hundred feet high; and the whole being a mass of porous coralline
rock, allows the surface water rapidly to escape. The only dry
season they have is for a month or two about September or
October, and there is then an excessive scarcity of water, so
that sometimes hundreds of birds and other animals die of
drought. The natives then remove to houses near the sources of
the small streams, where, in the shady depths of the forest, a
small quantity of water still remains. Even then many of them
have to go miles for their water, which they keep in large
bamboos and use very sparingly. They assure me that they catch
and kill game of all kinds, by watching at the water holes or
setting snares around them. That would be the time for me to make
my collections; but the want of water would be a terrible
annoyance, and the impossibility of getting away before another
whole year had passed made it out of the question.

Ever since leaving Dobbo I had suffered terribly from insects,
who seemed here bent upon revenging my long-continued persecution
of their race. At our first stopping-place sand-flies were very
abundant at night, penetrating to every part of the body, and
producing a more lasting irritation than mosquitoes. My feet and
ankles especially suffered, and were completely covered with
little red swollen specks, which tormented me horribly. On
arriving here we were delighted to find the house free from sand-
flies or mosquitoes, but in the plantations where my daily walks
led me, the day-biting mosquitoes swarmed, and seemed especially
to delight in attaching my poor feet. After a month's incessant
punishment, those useful members rebelled against such treatment
and broke into open insurrection, throwing out numerous inflamed
ulcers, which were very painful, and stopped me from walking. So
I found myself confined to the house, and with no immediate
prospect of leaving it. Wounds or sores in the feet are
especially difficult to heal in hot climates, and I therefore
dreaded them more than any other illness. The confinement was
very annoying, as the fine hot weather was excellent for insects,
of which I had every promise of obtaining a fine collection; and
it is only by daily and unremitting search that the smaller
kinds, and the rarer and more interesting specimens, can be
obtained. When I crawled down to the river-side to bathe, I often
saw the blue-winged Papilio ulysses, or some other equally rare
and beautiful insect; but there was nothing for it but patience,
and to return quietly to my bird-skinning, or whatever other work
I had indoors. The stings and bites and ceaseless irritation
caused by these pests of the tropical forests, would be borne
uncomplainingly; but to be kept prisoner by them in so rich and
unexplored a country where rare and beautiful creatures are to be
met with in every forest ramble--a country reached by such a long
and tedious voyage, and which might not in the present century be
again visited for the same purpose--is a punishment too severe
for a naturalist to pass over in silence.

I had, however, some consolation in the birds my boys brought
home daily, more especially the Paradiseas, which they at length
obtained in full plumage. It was quite a relief to my mind to get
these, for I could hardly have torn myself away from Aru had I
not obtained specimens.

But what I valued almost as much as the birds themselves was the
knowledge of their habits, which I was daily obtaining both from
the accounts of my hunters, and from the conversation of the
natives. The birds had now commenced what the people here call
their "sacaleli," or dancing-parties, in certain trees in the
forest, which are not fruit trees as I at first imagined, but
which have an immense tread of spreading branches and large but
scattered leaves, giving a clear space for the birds to play and
exhibit their plumes. On one of these trees a dozen or twenty
full-plumaged male birds assemble together, raise up their wings,
stretch out their necks, and elevate their exquisite plumes,
keeping them in a continual vibration. Between whiles they fly
across from branch to branch in great excitement, so that the
whole tree is filled with waving plumes in every variety of
attitude and motion. (See Frontispiece.) The bird itself is
nearly as large as a crow, and is of a rich coffee brown colour.
The head and neck is of a pure straw yellow above and rich
metallic green beneath. The long plumy tufts of golden orange
feathers spring from the sides beneath each wing, and when the
bird is in repose are partly concealed by them. At the time of
its excitement, however, the wings are raised vertically over
tile back, the head is bent down and stretched out, and the long
plumes are raised up and expanded till they form two magnificent
golden fans, striped with deep red at the base, and fading off
into the pale brown tint of the finely divided and softly waving
points. The whole bird is then overshadowed by them, the
crouching body, yellow head, and emerald green throat forming but
the foundation and setting to the golden glory which waves above.
When seen in this attitude, the Bird of Paradise really deserves
its name, and must be ranked as one of the most beautiful and
most wonderful of living things. I continued also to get
specimens of the lovely little king-bird occasionally, as well as
numbers of brilliant pigeons, sweet little parroquets, and many
curious small birds, most nearly resembling those of Australia
and New Guinea.

Here, as among most savage people I have dwelt among, I was
delighted with the beauty of the human form-a beauty of which
stay-at-home civilized people can scarcely have any conception.
What are the finest Grecian statues to the living, moving,
breathing men I saw daily around me? The unrestrained grace of
the naked savage as he goes about his daily occupations, or
lounges at his ease, must be seen to be understood; and a youth
bending his bow is the perfection of manly beauty. The women,
however, except in extreme youth, are by no means so pleasant to
look at as the men. Their strongly-marked features are very
unfeminine, and hard work, privations, and very early marriages
soon destroy whatever of beauty or grace they may for a short
time possess. Their toilet is very simple, but also, I am sorry
to say, very coarse, and disgusting. It consists solely of a mat
of plaited strips of palm leaves, worn tight round the body, and
reaching from the hips to the knees. It seems not to be changed
till worn out, is seldom washed, and is generally very dirty.
This is the universal dress, except in a few cases where Malay
"sarongs" have come into use. Their frizzly hair is tied in a
bench at the back of the head. They delight in combing, or rather
forking it, using for that purpose a large wooden fork with four
diverging prongs, which answers the purpose of separating and
arranging the long tangled, frizzly mass of cranial vegetation
much better than any comb could do. The only ornaments of the
women are earrings and necklaces, which they arrange in various
tasteful ways. The ends of a necklace are often attached to the
earrings, and then looped on to the hair-knot behind. This has
really an elegant appearance, the beads hanging gracefully on
each side of the head, and by establishing a connexion with the
earrings give an appearance of utility to those barbarous
ornaments. We recommend this style to the consideration of those
of the fair sex who still bore holes in their ears and hang rings
thereto. Another style of necklace among these Papuan belles is
to wear two, each hanging on one side of the neck and under the
opposite arm, so as to cross each other. This has a very pretty
appearance, in part due to the contrast of the white beads or
kangaroo teeth of which they are composed with the dark glossy
skin. The earrings themselves are formed of a bar of copper or
silver, twisted so that the ends cross. The men, as usual among
savages, adorn themselves more than the women. They wear
necklaces, earrings, and finger rings, and delight in a band of
plaited grass tight round the arm just below the shoulder, to
which they attach a bunch of hair or bright coloured feathers by
way of ornament. The teeth of small animals, either alone, or
alternately with black or white beads, form their necklaces, and
sometimes bracelets also. For these latter, however, they prefer
brass wire, or the black, horny, wing-spines of the cassowary,
which they consider a charm. Anklets of brass or shell, and tight
plaited garters below the knee, complete their ordinary

Some natives of Kobror from further south, and who are reckoned
the worst and least civilized of the Aru tribes, came one day to
visit us. They have a rather more than usually savage appearance,
owing to the greater amount of ornaments they use--the most
conspicuous being a large horseshoe-shaped comb which they wear
over the forehead, the ends resting on the temples. The back of
the comb is fastened into a piece of wood, which is plated with
tin in front, and above is attached a plume of feathers from a
cock's tail. In other respects they scarcely differed from the
people I was living with. They brought me a couple of birds, some
shells and insects; showing that the report of the white man and
his doing had reached their country. There was probably hardly a
man in Aru who had not by this time heard of me.

Besides the domestic utensils already mentioned, the moveable
property of a native is very scanty. He has a good supply of
spears and bows and arrows for hunting, a parang, or chopping-
knife, and an axe-for the stone age has passed away here, owing
to the commercial enterprise of the Bugis and other Malay races.
Attached to a belt, or hung across his shoulder, he carrion a
little skin pouch and an ornamented bamboo, containing betel-nut,
tobacco, and lime, and a small German wooden-handled knife is
generally stuck between his waist-cloth of bark and his bare
shin. Each man also possesses a ░cadjan," or sleeping-mat, made
of the broad leaves of a pandanus neatly sewn together in- three
layers. This mat is abort four feet square, and when folded has
one end sewn up, so that it forms a kind of sack open at one
side. In the closed corner the head or feet can be placed, or by
carrying it on the head in a shower it forms both coat and
umbrella. It doubles up ix a small compass for convenient
carriage, and then forms a light and elastic cushion, so that on
a journey it becomes clothing, house, bedding, and furniture, all
in one.

The only ornaments in an Aru horse are trophies of the chase--
jaws of wild pigs, the heads and backbones of cassowaries, and
plumes made from the feathers of the Bird of Paradise, cassowary,
and domestic fowl. The spears, shields, knife-handles, and other
utensils are more or less carved in fanciful designs, and the
mats and leaf boxes are painted or plaited in neat patterns of
red, black, and yellow colours. I must not forget these boxes,
which are most ingeniously made of the pith of a balm leaf pegged
together, lined inside with pandanus leaves, and outside with the
same, or with plaited grass. All the joints and angles are
coffered with strips of split rattan sewn neatly on. The lid is
covered with the brown leathery spathe of the Areca palm, which
is impervious to water, and the whole box is neat, strong, and
well finished. They are made from a few inches to two or three
feet long, and being much esteemed by the Malay as clothes-boxes,
are a regular article of export from Aru. The natives use the
smaller ones for tobacco or betel-nut, but seldom have clothes
enough to require the larger ones, which are only made for sale.

Among the domestic animals which may generally be seen in native
houses, are gaudy parrots, green, red, and blue, a few domestic
fowls, which have baskets hung for them to lay in under the
eaves, and who sleep on the ridge, and several half-starved
wolfish-baking dogs. Instead of rats and mice there are curious
little marsupial animals about the same size, which run about at
night and nibble anything eatable that may be left uncovered.

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