Category Archives: Exploration

Lord Charles Beresford – 1861 – Manning the Ships

 

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Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  This is the seventh installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1861 – The Marlborough     

HMS Marlborough

Manning the Ships

Ships in those days were manned according to the number of guns they carried. The theory was that if the boats’ crews were absent from the ship, there should always be sufficient men on board to work the sails and the guns. The watch-bills were made out upon this principle, the men being distributed among what were called the “parts of the ship.”

In the case of a newly commissioned ship, the making out of the watch-bills and assigning his place to each man, was the first thing to be done. It was no small task, especially as no printed forms were supplied for the purpose. The watch-bills were ruled and entered by the officers on paper supplied by themselves, and were arranged upon the tradition handed down for centuries. Even the signalmen supplied their own pencils and paper. Each ship made its own arrangement. It was not until [1860] that uniform watch-bills, quarter-bills and station-bills were instituted.

The men were classed in the following categories, each “part of the ship” being divided into port watch and starboard watch.

The Forecastlemen
The Foretopmen
The Maintopmen
The Mizentopmen
The Gunners
The Afterguard
The Royal Marines
The Idlers

The Forecastlemen were most experienced seamen. They wore their caps a little differently from the others. They manned the foreyard, and worked the foresail, staysail, jib, flying jib, jibboom, flying jibboom and lower studdingsails.

The Foretopmen worked the foretopsail, foretopgallant and foreroyal yards, foretopgallantmast, foretopmast and topgallant studding-sails.

The Maintopmen worked the maintopsail, maintopgallant and main-royal yards and maintopgallantmast, maintopmast and topgallant studding-sails.

The Mizentopmen worked the mizentopsail, mizentopgallant and mizen-royal yards, and mizentopgallantmast, mizentopmast and mizencourse (if there was one), also the driver.

The upper-yard men were the smartest in the ship, whose character largely depended upon them.

The Gunners, assisted by the Afterguard, worked the mainsail and mainyard. These were generally old and steady men, who were not very quick aloft. The gunners were also responsible for the care and maintenance of the gun gear, side tackles, train tackles and the ammunition. The senior warrant officer was the gunner.

There were only three warrant officers:- gunner, boatswain and carpenter.

The Royal Marines were divided between fore and aft, working on forecastle and quarterdeck. I remember seeing a detachment of Marines, upon coming aboard, fallen in while the blacksmith, lifting up each man’s foot behind him, wrenched off and dropped into a bucket the metal on the heel of his boot, lest it should mark the deck.

The Afterguard worked on the quarterdeck and helped with the mainyard. They were the less efficient men and were therefore employed under the eye of the commander.

The Idlers were not idlers. They were so called because (theoretically) they had their nights in, although actually they turned out at four o’clock a.m. They were artificers, such as carpenters, caulkers, plumbers, blacksmiths, etc. They worked all day at their several trades until their suppertime. They were nearly all old petty officers, steady and respectable. It was part of their duty to man the pumps every morning for washing decks. I made up my mind that, if ever I was in a position to do so, I would relieve them of an irksome and an inappropriate duty.

In action, the carpenters worked below decks, stopping holes with shot-plugs, while many of the other Idlers worked in the magazines. Among the Idlers was the ship’s musician; unless the ship carried a band; who was a fiddler. He used to play to the men on the forecastle after working hours and when they manned the capstan. Personally I always considered the name of Idlers to be anomalous. They are now called Daymen.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

Lord Charles Beresford – 1861 – The Marlborough

 

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Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  This is the sixth installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1861 – The Marlborough

The Ship of Happiest Memory

HMS Marlborough 1861ON the 28th of March, [1861], I was appointed naval cadet in the Marlborough. As I climbed up her side by the hand-rungs, while my chest was being hoisted in over all, I perceived two huge men looking down upon me, and I heard one say to the other:-

              “That white-faced little beggar ain’t long for this world, Dick.”

The speaker was John Glanville (called Clamfy Glanville), boatswain’s mate (of whom more anon), and he addressed this lugubrious remark to Dicky Home, the quartermaster, a very fat man. It was a far from encouraging welcome to the sea; but the fact was that I had been ill, and was feeling very cold as I climbed up the side of the ship. At first, I was much disappointed at having been sent to a large ship, for we youngsters had a notion that there were more freedom and independence in a small ship; and besides, I wanted to go to China. But I went to China all in good time.

The Marlborough was the flagship of the Mediterranean station. She was a wooden line of battleship, three-decker, launched in [1835], 4000 tons burthen old measure, 6390 displacement new measure, fitted with single screw horizontal Maudslay engines. The length of her gundeck was 245 feet 6 inches, her extreme beam was 61 feet, her maximum draught was 26 feet Her complement was 950, and she always carried 100 or more supernumeraries. She was pierced for 131 guns and she carried 121 guns. She was one of the first ships to be fitted with wire lower rigging. In the Marlborough the old 24-inch hemp cable was used for laying out anchor at drill. It was the same class of cable as that which was used in Nelson’s time; it was superseded by the chain cable.

The vice-admiral in command of the Mediterranean station was Sir William Fanshawe Martin (called “Fly” Martin); the captain, William H. Stewart; the commander, Thomas Brandreth: three of the finest officers that ever lived. The captain of the Fleet was Rear-Admiral Sydney C. Dacres, C.B. His duties were those of what we should now call a chief of staff. The office was subsequently abolished; and it was always my desire to see it restored.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

Mungo Park the Explorer – 1804

 

 

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Below is a piece about Mungo Park the Scottish explorer, explorer of the African continent – including Timbuktu.

Excerpt from Memoirs of the life of Sir Walter Scott Volume 1 – 1837 by John Gibson Lockhart

Mungo Park the Explorer – 1804

During this autumn Scott formed the personal acquaintance of Mungo Park, the celebrated victim of African discovery. On his return from his first expedition, Park endeavoured to establish himself as a medical practitioner in the town of Hawick; but the drudgeries of that calling in such a district soon exhausted his ardent temper, and he was now living in seclusion in his native cottage at Fowlsheils on the Yarrow, nearly opposite Newark Castle.

His brother, Archibald Park, a man remarkable for strength both of mind and body, was the sheriffs-officer of that district, and introduced the traveller to his principal. They soon became much attached to each other; and Scott supplied some interesting anecdotes of their brief intercourse, to the late Mr. Wishaw, the editor of Park’s posthumous Journal, with which I shall blend a few minor circumstances which I gathered from him in conversation long afterwards. “On one occasion,” he says, “the traveller communicated to him some very remarkable adventures which had befallen him in Africa, but which he had not recorded in his book.” On Scott’s asking the cause of this silence, Mungo answered, “that in all cases where he had information to communicate, which he thought of importance to the public, he had stated the facts boldly, leaving it to his readers to give such credit to his statements as they might appear justly to deserve; but that he would not shock their faith, or render his travels more marvellous, by introducing circumstances, which, however true, were of little or no moment, as they related solely to his own personal adventures and escapes.” This reply struck Scott as highly characteristic of the man; and though strongly tempted to set down some of these marvels for Mr. Wishaw’s use, he on reflection abstained from doing so, holding it unfair to record what the adventurer had deliberately chosen to suppress in his own narrative.

He confirms the account given by Park’s biographer of his cold and reserved manners to strangers; and, in particular, of his disgust with the indirect questions which curious visitors would often put to him upon the subject of his travels. “This practice,” said Mungo, “exposes me to two risks; either that I may not understand the questions meant to be put, or that my answers to them may be misconstrued;” and he contrasted such conduct with the frankness of Scott’s revered friend, Dr. Adam Ferguson, who, the very first day the traveller dined with him at Hallyards, spread a large map of Africa on the table, and made him trace out his progress thereupon, inch by inch, questioning him minutely as to every step he had taken. “Here, however,” says Scott, “Dr. F. was using a privilege to which he was well entitled by his venerable age and high literary character, but which could not have been exercised with propriety by any common stranger.”

Excerpt from Memoirs of the life of Sir Walter Scott Volume 1 – 1837 by John Gibson Lockhart

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Further Reading and External Links

Mungo Park the Explorer on Wikipedia

Rene Auguste Caillie and Timbuktu – 1828

 

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Excerpt from The Encyclopaedia Britannica

Rene Auguste Caillie and Timbuktu – 1828

CAILLIE (or CAILLE), RENE AUGUSTE (1799-1838), French explorer, was born at Mauze, Poitou, in 1799, the son of a baker. The reading of Robinson Crusoe kindled in him a love of travel and adventure, and at the age of sixteen he made a voyage to Senegal whence he went to Guadeloupe.

Returning to Senegal in 1818 he made a journey to Bondu to carry supplies to a British expedition then in that country. Ill with fever he was obliged to go back to France, but in 1824 was again in Senegal with the fixed idea of penetrating to Timbuktu. He spent eight months with the Brakna “Moors” living north of Senegal river, learning Arabic and being taught, as a convert, the laws and customs of Islam. He laid his project of reaching Timbuktu before the governor of Senegal, but receiving no encouragement went to Sierra Leone where the British authorities made him superintendent of an indigo plantation. Having saved L80 he joined a Mandingo caravan going inland. He was dressed as a Mussulman, and gave out that he was an Arab from Egypt who had been carried off by the French to Senegal and was desirous of regaining his own country. Starting from Kakundi near Boke on the Rio Nunez on 19th of April 1827, he travelled east along the hills of Futa Jallon, passing the head streams of the Senegal and crossing the Upper Niger at Kurussa. Still going east he came to the Kong highlands, where at a place called Time he was detained five months by illness.

Resuming his journey [v.04 p.0949] in January 1828 he went north-east and gained the city of Jenne, whence he continued his journey to Timbuktu by water. After spending a fortnight (20th April-4th May) in Timbuktu he joined a caravan crossing the Sahara to Morocco, reaching Fez on the 12th of August. From Tangier he returned to France. He had been preceded at Timbuktu by a British officer, Major Gordon Laing, but Laing had been murdered (1826) on leaving the city and Caillie was the first to accomplish the journey in safety. He was awarded the prize of L400 offered by the Geographical Society of Paris to the first traveller who should gain exact information of Timbuktu, to be compared with that given by Mungo Park. He also received the order of the Legion of Honour, a pension, and other distinctions, and it was at the public expense that his “Journal d’un voyage a Temboctou et a Jenne dans l’Afrique Centrale“, etc. (edited by E.F. Jomard) was published in three volumes in 1830.

Caillie died at Badere in 1838 of a malady contracted during his African travels. For the greater part of his life he spelt his name Caillie, afterwards omitting the second “i.

See Dr Robert Brown’s “The Story of Africa“, vol. i. chap. xii. (London, 1892); Goepp and Cordier, “Les Grands Hommes de France, voyageurs: Rene Caille” (Paris, 1885); E.F. Jomard, “Notice historique sur la vie et les voyages de R. Caillie” (Paris, 1839). An English version of Caillie’s “Journal” was published in London in 1830 in two volumes under the title of “Travels through Central Africa to Timbuctoo“.

Excerpt from The Encyclopaedia Britannica

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Further Reading and External Links

Rene Caillie on Wikipedia

Timbuktu – Then and Now – BBC Magazine

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1844 – The Batang Lapur

 

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James Brooke became the first White Rajah of Sarawak in 1841 after inheriting £30,000 and investing it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailing for Borneo. 

We are publishing a blog series that covers his adventures – taken from one of the books in our library called Rajah Brooke by Sir Spenser St John published in 1899.

Catch-up with earlier posts in the James Rajah Brooke series here or search our library here.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1844 – The Batang Lapur

James Rajah Brooke

The Batang Lupar for the first twenty miles looks a noble stream. About that distance from the mouth occurs the Linga, the first branch of the river which leads to the Balow villages, inhabited by Dyaks under the influence of Sherif Jaffer the same Dyaks who had joined Keppel’s expedition against the Seribas pirates; they were warlike but not piratical. The next branch on the left bank of the river was the Undup, and then on the right bank the Sakarang, a stream inhabited by a dense population of piratical Dyaks; and about fifteen miles below the mouth of that branch was built the town of Patusin, strongly defended by forts and stockades.

As the arrival of the Dido had been fully expected, the Sarawak preparations for the expedition were well advanced, and in view of Keppel’s triumphs in the previous year, there was no holding back, but all were eager for the fray. Even Pangeran Budrudin was permitted to join the Sarawak contingent something quite new in the annals of the royal family.

On the 5th of August [1844] the expedition started, and on the 6th was well within the river Batang Lupar. By the 8th all was ready for the attack, and on the rising flood tide the steamer and boats were carried up stream at a bewildering pace, and soon found themselves in face of the town and forts of Patusin. The English boats formed up alongside of the steamer, and pulled to the shore under a very hot fire; but nothing could daunt their crews, and they carried the forts by assault, with the loss of only one English sailor killed and a few wounded. Nor were the natives behindhand; they vied with their white comrades, and were soon in full pursuit of the flying enemy.

In the afternoon the force marched to the attack of a neighbouring town where the chief Sherif Sahib had his residence; but there was no resistance, and the place was soon plundered and destroyed by our native allies. Amongst the spoil captured at Patusin were sixty-four brass guns and a smaller number of iron ones; the latter were thrown into the river. Having completely destroyed these Malay pirate settlements, not forgetting that which had been formed by Pangeran Makota, and handed over to the natives those war boats which would be useful to them, while the remainder were hacked to pieces and burnt, the force prepared for an assault on the Sakarang pirates.

Excerpt from Rajah Brooke, published in 1899 by Sir Spenser St John

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Further Reading and External Links

James Rajah Brooke on Wikipedia

The Royalist Schooner

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1843 – The Seribas

 

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James Brooke became the first White Rajah of Sarawak in 1841 after inheriting £30,000 and investing it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailing for Borneo. 

We are publishing a blog series that covers his adventures – taken from one of the books in our library called Rajah Brooke by Sir Spenser St John published in 1899.

Catch-up with earlier posts in the James Rajah Brooke series here or search our library here.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1843 – The Seribas

One result of the defeat of the Seribas was the increased influence of the English ruler. Sherif Sahib of Sadong now thought it prudent to return to the Sow tribe of Dyaks fifty of the women and children whom his people had seized, and although this was but an instalment it was something gained.

In a few lines written on November 14, [1843], Brooke sketched the policy which he wished the English Government to pursue. ‘If we act, we ought to act without unnecessary delay. Take Sarawak and Labuan, or Labuan alone, and push our interest along the coast to Sulu, and from Sulu towards New Guinea, gaining an influence with such states (and acquiring dormant rights) as are clear of the Dutch on the one hand and of the Spaniards on the other.’ But this policy was neglected, and to some extent it is now too late to carry it out.

In December [1843] Brooke again visited Singapore, and there he shortly afterwards received news of his mother’s death. Though affectionate to all his relations, his love and tenderness centred in his mother, and her loss was the more acutely felt, as, from a mistaken feeling, the seriousness of her illness had not been reported to him.

Whilst visiting Penang Brooke joined in an expedition to punish some piratical communities on the coast of Sumatra; and as a guest on board H.M.S. Wanderer he went with the boats that were sent to attack the town of Murdoo. A strong current swept the captain’s gig under an enemy’s stockade. There was no help for it, so Brooke sprang out and led a rush upon the fort, during which he received a gash in the forehead and a shot in the arm. Reinforcements coming up, the place was soon captured. On the return of the expedition to Penang the ship’s crew begged the captain’s permission to man yards and give three cheers for their gallant guest. Here he met Captain Keppel on his way to Calcutta, who promised to pick him up at Singapore on his return and visit Sarawak again, and chastise the pirates of Sakarang.

Brooke therefore waited, but was again disappointed, as the Dido was ordered to China, and he had therefore to remain in the Straits until the end of May, when Captain Hastings gave him a passage over to Borneo in the Harlequin.

This long absence had encouraged his enemies, who now hoped that they were free from their troublesome neighbour. Sherif Sahib, however, though boasting as loudly as ever, did not feel secure in Sadong, and therefore prepared his vessels to remove himself and all his immediate following to the interior of the Batang Lupar river, where he would be in touch with the other Arab adventurers who commanded the different districts of that mighty stream. As a defiance to Sarawak, he invited all the Sakarang Dyaks to meet him at the entrance of the Sadong river, and there they rendezvoused to the number of two hundred Dyak bangkongs and Malay war boats. Some mischief was done along the coast, but Brooke surprised one of their expeditions and captured several of their war vessels.

During Brooke’s absence from Sarawak, his new house on the left bank of the river had been built on a rising knoll between two running streams, with the broad river flowing below. It was a pretty spot, and now he could write, I like couches, and flowers, and easy-chairs, and newspapers, and clear streams, and sunny walks.’ Here and there were planted and tended with uncommon care some rose plants, the Rajah’s favourite flower. “All breathes of peace and repose, and the very mid-day heat adds to the stillness around me. I love to allow my imagination to wander, and my senses to enjoy such a scene, for it is attended with a pleasing consciousness that the quiet and the peace are my own doing.’

 Excerpt from Rajah Brooke, published in 1899 by Sir Spenser St John

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Further Reading and External Links

James Rajah Brooke on Wikipedia

The Royalist Schooner

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – Good Government

 

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James Brooke was the first White Rajah of Sarawak. After inheriting £30,000 in 1833 he invested it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailed for Borneo. 

Below is an excerpt from one of the books in our library called Rajah Brooke by Sir Spenser St John published in 1899.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

Good Government

James Rajah BrookeWhilst all was proceeding favourably in Borneo, Brooke was much disturbed by the news of the proceedings of Mr Wise, his agent in London. There was no doubt of the talent and earnestness of this man, but those who knew him well felt that he was rather working for his own benefit than for that of his employer. He knew that a true account of the actual state of Sarawak would fail to draw the attention of the mercantile community; he therefore raised false expectations as to the value of the trade which would arise as soon as Borneo was thrown open to British commerce. When Brooke was made aware of this he wrote to his friend Templer, “It does appear to me, judging from Mr Wise’s letters and the steps he has taken, that some exaggerated hopes are entertained, and hopes as unreasonable as exaggerated…. In fact, I will become no party to a bubble; or gain, or accept any negotiation from Government upon false grounds’ (sic).

Brooke’s views on the management of a wild country and the only way to develop commerce among savage, and even among half-civilised peoples, were so wise and trustworthy that they would merit being quoted in full did space permit. He was indeed a most sagacious ruler, with a positive instinct as to the manner in which native races should be treated, and he always insisted that progress to be permanent must be slow, and that throwing capital en masse into an undeveloped country would only produce disappointment and loss.

How true is the following; “Good temper, good sense and conciliatory manners are essential to the good government of natives, and on this point it is that most Europeans are so grossly wanting. They always take with them their own customs, feelings and manners, and in a way force the natives to conform to them, and never give themselves the trouble of ascertaining how far these manners are repugnant to the natives”.  In my long experience I could scarcely name a dozen men whom I have seen treat native races as they should be treated, and most of these were among the devoted followers of Rajah Brooke. His own manners were perfect.

Excerpt from Rajah Brooke, published in 1899 by Sir Spenser St John

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Further Reading and External Links

James Rajah Brooke on Wikipedia

The Royalist Schooner

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1843 – H.M.S. Samarang

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James Brooke became the first White Rajah of Sarawak in 1841 after inheriting £30,000 and investing it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailing for Borneo. 

We are publishing a blog series that covers his adventures – taken from one of the books in our library called Rajah Brooke by Sir Spenser St John published in 1899.

Catch-up with earlier posts in the James Rajah Brooke series here or search our library here.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1843 – H.M.S. Samarang

The next event of importance was the arrival of Sir Edward Belcher in H.M.S. Samarang. He had been sent to report on Sarawak and on Bornean affairs in general. He was a clever but very unpopular man, and made his ship the most uncomfortable in the service.

After a short stay in Sarawak, visiting the interior and making inquiries, he decided to proceed to Brunei and enter into communication with the Sultan. Brooke was to have accompanied him, but the Samarang had but just started to descend the river when she touched on a rock, and as the tide fell, she turned over on her side and filled with water.

It was a misfortune to the ship, but a blessing to Sarawak, as it drew general attention to Brooke’s settlement. By dint of the greatest exertion on the part of officers and crew, and the aid afforded by the native population, within eleven days the vessel was again afloat. In the meantime the ‘Royalist’ had been sent to Singapore for provisions and aid, and before twelve days had elapsed she returned with a ship of war. Others soon followed, to find the Samarang out of all danger.

As soon as her refit was completed, she sailed for Brunei with Brooke on board. His friends had pointed out to him that, to render his work in Sarawak permanent, he must obtain a grant in perpetuity from the Government of Brunei, and this he readily secured. More over, His Highness the Sultan wrote to Sir Edward Belcher expressing the strong desire of his Government to trade and their wish to co-operate in the suppression of piracy.

Excerpt from Rajah Brooke, published in 1899 by Sir Spenser St John

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Further Reading and External Links

James Rajah Brooke on Wikipedia

The Royalist Schooner

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1843 – The Dido

 

 

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James Brooke became the first White Rajah of Sarawak in 1841 after inheriting £30,000 and investing it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailing for Borneo. 

We are publishing a blog series that covers his adventures – taken from one of the books in our library called Rajah Brooke by Sir Spenser St John published in 1899.

The episode below covers a time when Captain Henry Keppel – during his voyage on the Dido – visited the Rajahs residence in Sarawak.

Catch-up with earlier posts in the James Rajah Brooke series here, search our library here, or catch-up with our series on Henry Keppel here.

Captain Keppel and the Dido

Captain Keppel, in his Voyage of the Dido has given us a very good account of the house in which Mr Brooke lived in [1843], and of which I have already introduced its occupant’s own description. Captain Keppel says that the English Rajah’s residence, although equally rude in structure with the abodes of the natives, was not without its English comforts of sofas, chairs and bedsteads. It was larger than any other house in the place, but, like them, was built on nibong piles, and to enter it it was necessary to make use of a ladder. The house consisted of but one floor; a large room in the centre, neatly ornamented with every description of firearms in admirable order and ready for use, served as audience hall and mess room, and the various apartments around it as bedrooms, most of them comfortably furnished with matted floors, easy-chairs, pictures and books, with much more taste and attention to comfort than bachelors usually display. But, the fact is, you could never enter any place where Brooke had passed a few days without being struck by the artistic arrangement of everything. His good taste was shown even in trifles, though comfort was never sacrificed to show. The house was surrounded by palisades and a ditch, forming an enclosure, in which were to be found sheep, goats, pigeons, cats, poultry, geese, ducks, monkeys, dogs, and occasionally a cow or two.

Then, as later, the great hour of meeting was sunset, when, after the preliminary cold bath to brace the nerves, relaxed by the heat of the day, all the party met to dine. When Keppel was at Kuching all the officers of the Dido were welcome, and many a merry evening was passed at Brooke’s house. I have often heard him speak of that glorious time. Then the future was all hope, no disappointments had depressed the mind, and the cheerfulness of the host was infectious. I have never met anyone who in his playful mood was more charming. He told a story well, he was animated in discussion, fertile in resource, and, when beaten in argument, would shift his ground with great dexterity, and keep up the discussion to the entertainment of us all. An appreciative observer once wrote,  

‘The Rajah has certainly a most uncommon gift of fluency of language. Every subject derives an additional interest from his mode of discussing it, and his ideas are so original that to hear him speak is like opening out a new world before one. His views about Sarawak are so grand that it is with real pain one thinks how very little has been done to aid him in his noble efforts.’

Captain Keppel was also a capital storyteller, so that between the two, with occasional assistance from the others, the time passed gaily, and it was often well on in the small hours before the party broke up.

It was a great disappointment to all that Captain Keppel now received orders to proceed to China, as he had intended before his departure to complete his work by attacking the Sakarangs, who lived in the interior of the Batang Lupar river, and who were powerfully supported by Arab and Malay chiefs.

Excerpt from Rajah Brooke, published in 1899 by Sir Spenser St John

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Further Reading and External Links

James Rajah Brooke on Wikipedia

The Royalist Schooner

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1843 – Singapore

 

 

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James Brooke was the first White Rajah of Sarawak. After inheriting £30,000 in 1833 he invested it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailed for Borneo.  In 1841 he became the Rajah of Sarawak. Below is an excerpt from one of the books in our library called Rajah Brooke by Sir Spenser St John published in 1899. Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

Visit to Singapore in 1843

In [1843], after an almost unbroken stay of nearly two years in Borneo, Brooke again visited Singapore, and found welcome news. The British Government had decided to inquire into the Bornean question, and it was stated that Sir Edward Belcher had been ordered to visit Sarawak in H.M.S. Samarang; but what was of much greater importance, and proved of incalculable benefit to Sarawak and to British interests in Borneo, was that Brooke made the acquaintance of Captain the Hon. Henry Keppel, who was in command of H.M.S. Dido. As I have elsewhere remarked, Keppel, with the instincts of a gentleman, at once recognised that he had no adventurer but a true man before him, and henceforward exerted all his energy and influence to further his friend’s beneficent projects. They were indeed genuine Englishmen, and looked to what would advance the veritable interests of their own country to increase its prestige in Borneo and clear the seas of the pirates who destroyed native commerce on its way to our settlements.

The Dido in the first days of May [1843] sailed from Singapore for Sarawak, and on the 13th anchored off the Moratabus entrance of the river. When the natives heard that their Governor had arrived, they swarmed down to the ship in their boats, delighted at his return among them; and the sight of the beautiful frigate, so powerful in their eyes, assured them that she would not leave before some measures had been taken against the pirates. Rajah Muda Hassim eagerly seized on this opportunity to obtain some security for native trade, and earnestly entreated Captain Keppel to attack the pirates of Seribas and Sakarang, who were especially dangerous to the coast traffic. Having satisfied himself of the truth of the allegations against the marauders, Keppel determined to act, and, having announced his intention, he was soon assured of the support of a native contingent, who decided to follow their English chief wherever he went, although with many misgivings as to the result of an attack on these much-feared corsairs, who had plundered their coasts with impunity for several generations.

I need not describe this expedition against the pirates, as the details have been often published; and as Admiral Keppel is now engaged in writing his memoirs, we shall have full particulars at first hand.  The Dido anchored off the Seribas river, and being joined by a native force of five hundred men, the English boats put off with crews of about eighty seamen and marines, and carried in the most dashing style every fort or obstruction placed in their way. No obstacles daunted them, and their enemies, numbering many thousands on each branch of the river, were so astonished by this novel mode of fighting in the open that they fled on every occasion, abandoning their towns and forts, which were promptly destroyed by our native allies, now trebled in number. The Seribas considered themselves invincible, and had collected their means of resistance in well-chosen spots, their guns covering the booms across the river, but to no purpose, and the towns of Paku, Padi and Rembas all shared the same fate.

It is a very remarkable circumstance that as soon as each section recognised the hopelessness of resistance, they entered freely into communication with their assailants, and under cover of the white flag, and often unarmed, approached their English conquerors with perfect trust and confidence. They all agreed to visit Sarawak, and promised amendment for the future.

The complete collapse of the defence astonished everyone, and those natives who had taken part in this memorable campaign began to acquire confidence in themselves, and were ever ready to follow their white leaders in all future expeditions.

Excerpt from Rajah Brooke, published in 1899 by Sir Spenser St John

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Further Reading and External Links

James Rajah Brooke on Wikipedia

The Royalist Schooner