(MENADO. JUNE TO SEPTEMBER, 1859.)
IT was after my residence at Timor–Coupang that I visited the northeastern extremity of Celebes, touching Banda, Amboyna, and Ternate on my way. I reached Menado on the 10th of June, 1859, and was very kindly received by Mr. Tower, an Englishman, but a very old resident in Menado, where he carries on a general business. He introduced me to Mr. L. Duivenboden (whose father had been my friend at Ternate), who had much taste for natural history; and to Mr. Neys, a native of Menado, but who was educated at Calcutta, and to whom Dutch, English, and Malay were equally mother-tongues. All these gentlemen showed me the greatest kindness, accompanied me in my earliest walks about the country, and assisted me by every means in their power. I spent a week in the town very pleasantly, making explorations and inquiries after a good collecting station, which I had much difficulty in finding, owing to the wide cultivation of coffee and cacao, which has led to the clearing away of the forests for many miles around the town, and over extensive districts far into the interior.
The little town of Menado is one of the prettiest in the East. It has the appearance of a large garden containing rows of rustic villas with broad paths between, forming streets generally at right angles with each other. Good roads branch off in several directions towards the interior, with a succession of pretty cottages, neat gardens, and thriving plantations, interspersed with wildernesses of fruit trees. To the west and south the country is mountainous, with groups of fine volcanic peaks 6,000 or 7,000 feet high, forming grand and picturesque backgrounds to the landscape.
The inhabitants of Minahasa (as this part of Celebes is called) differ much from those of all the rest of the island, and in fact from any other people in the Archipelago. They are of a light-brown or yellow tint, often approaching the fairness of a European; of a rather short stature, stout and well-made; of an open and pleasing countenance, more or less disfigured as age increases by projecting check-bones; and with the usual long, straight, jet-black hair of the Malayan races. In some of the inland villages where they may be supposed to be of the purest race, both men and women are remarkably handsome; while nearer the coasts where the purity of their blood has been destroyed by the intermixture of other races, they approach to the ordinary types of the wild inhabitants of the surrounding countries.
In mental and moral characteristics they are also highly peculiar. They are remarkably quiet and gentle in disposition, submissive to the authority of those they consider their superiors, and easily induced to learn and adopt the habits of civilized people. They are clever mechanics, and seem capable of acquiring a considerable amount of intellectual education.
Up to a very recent period these people were thorough savages, and there are persons now living in Menado who remember a state of things identical with that described by the writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The inhabitants of the several villages were distinct tribes, each under its own chief, speaking languages unintelligible to each other, and almost always at war. They built their houses elevated upon lofty posts to defend themselves from the attacks of their enemies. They were headhunters like the Dyaks of Borneo, and were said to be sometimes cannibals. When a chief died, his tomb was adorned with two fresh human heads; and if those of enemies could not be obtained, slaves were killed for the occasion. Human skulls were the great ornaments of the chiefs’ houses. Strips of bark were their only dress. The country was a pathless wilderness, with small cultivated patches of rice and vegetables, or clumps of fruit-trees, diversifying the otherwise unbroken forest. Their religion was that naturally engendered in the undeveloped human mind by the contemplation of grand natural phenomena and the luxuriance of tropical nature. The burning mountain, the torrent and the lake, were the abode of their deities; and certain trees and birds were supposed to have special influence over men’s actions and destiny. They held wild and exciting festivals to propitiate these deities or demons, and believed that men could be changed by them into animals — either during life or after death.
Here we have a picture of true savage life; of small isolated communities at war with all around them, subject to the wants and miseries of such a condition, drawing a precarious existence from the luxuriant soil, and living on, from generation to generation, with no desire for physical amelioration, and no prospect of moral advancement.
Such was their condition down to the year 1822, when the coffee-plant was first introduced, and experiments were made as to its cultivation. It was found to succeed admirably from fifteen hundred feet, up to four thousand feet above the sea. The chiefs of villages were induced to undertake its cultivation. Seed and native instructors were sent from Java; food was supplied to the labourers engaged in clearing and planting; a fixed price was established at which all coffee brought to the government collectors was to be paid for, and the village chiefs who now received the titles of “Majors” were to receive five percent of the produce. After a time, roads were made from the port of Menado up to the plateau, and smaller paths were cleared from village to village; missionaries settled in the more populous districts and opened schools; and Chinese traders penetrated to the interior and supplied clothing and other luxuries in exchange for the money which the sale of the coffee had produced.
At the same time, the country was divided into districts, and the system of “Controlleurs,” which had worked so well in Java, was introduced. The “Controlleur “was a European, or a native of European blood, who was the general superintendent of the cultivation of the district, the adviser of the chiefs, the protector of the people, and the means of communication between both and the European Government. His duties obliged him to visit every village in succession once a month, and to send in a report on their condition to the Resident. As disputes between adjacent villages were now settled by appeal to a superior authority, the old and inconvenient semi-fortified houses were disused, and under the direction of the “Controlleurs” most of the houses were rebuilt on a neat and uniform plan. It was this interesting district which I was now about to visit.
Having decided on my route, I started at 8 A.M. on the 22d of June. Mr. Tower drove me the first three miles in his chaise, and Mr. Neys accompanied me on horseback three miles further to the village of Lotta. Here we met the Controlleur of the district of Tondano, who was returning home from one of his monthly tours, and who had agreed to act as my guide and companion on the journey. From Lotta we had an almost continual ascent for six miles, which brought us on to the plateau of Tondano at an elevation of about 2,400 feet. We passed through three villages whose neatness and beauty quite astonished me. The main road, along which all the coffee is brought down from the interior in carts drawn by buffaloes, is always turned aside at the entrance of a village, so as to pass behind it, and thus allow the village street itself to be kept neat and clean. This is bordered by neat hedges often formed entirely of rose-trees, which are perpetually in blossom. There is a broad central path and a border of fine turf, which is kept well swept and neatly cut. The houses are all of wood, raised about six feet on substantial posts neatly painted blue, while the walls are whitewashed. They all have a verandah enclosed with a neat balustrade, and are generally surrounded by orange-trees and flowering shrubs. The surrounding scenery is verdant and picturesque. Coffee plantations of extreme luxuriance, noble palms and tree ferns, wooded hills and volcanic peaks, everywhere meet the eye. I had heard much of the beauty of this country, but the reality far surpassed my expectations.
About one o’clock we reached Tomohón, the chief place of a district, having a native chief now called the “Major,” at whose house we were to dine. Here was a fresh surprise for me. The house was large, airy and very substantially built of hard native timber, squared and put together in a most workmanlike manner. It was furnished in European style, with handsome chandelier lamps, and the chairs and tables all well made by native workmen. As soon as we entered, madeira and bitters were offered us. Then two handsome boys neatly dressed in white, and with smoothly brushed jet-black hair, handed us each a basin of water and a clean napkin on a salver. The dinner was excellent. Fowls cooked in various ways; wild pig roasted, stewed and fried; a fricassee of bats, potatoes, rice and other vegetables; all served on good china, with finger glasses and fine napkins, and abundance of good claret and beer, seemed to me rather curious at the table of a native chief on the mountains of Celebes. Our host was dressed in a suit of black with patent-leather shoes, and really looked comfortable and almost gentlemanly in them. He sat at the head of the table and did the honours well, though he did not talk much. Our conversation was entirely in Malay, as that is the official language here, and in fact the mother-tongue and only language of the Controlleur, who is a native-born half-breed. The Major’s father who was chief before him, wore, I was informed, a strip of bark as his sole costume, and lived in a rude but raised home on lofty poles, and abundantly decorated with human heads. Of course we were expected, and our dinner was prepared in the best style, but I was assured that the chiefs all take a pride in adopting European customs, and in being able to receive their visitors in a handsome manner.
After dinner and coffee, the Controlleur went on to Tondano, and I strolled about the village waiting for my baggage, which was coming in a bullock-cart, and did not arrive until after midnight. Supper was very similar to dinner, and on retiring I found an elegant little room with a comfortable bed, gauze curtains with blue and red hangings, and every convenience. Next morning at sunrise the thermometer in the verandah stood at 69°, which I was told is about the usual lowest temperature at this place, 2,500 feet above the sea. I had a good breakfast of coffee, eggs, and fresh bread and butter, which I took in the spacious verandah amid the odour of roses, jessamine, and other sweet-scented flowers, which filled the garden in front; and about eight o’clock left Tomohón with a dozen men carrying my baggage.
Our road lay over a mountain ridge about 4,000 feet above the sea, and then descended about 500 feet to the little village of Rurúkan, the highest in the district of Minahasa, and probably in all Celebes. Here I had determined to stay for some time to see whether this elevation would produce any change in the zoology. The village had only been formed about ten years, and was quite as neat as those I had passed through, and much more picturesque. It is placed on a small level spot, from which there is an abrupt wooded descent down to the beautiful lake of Tondano, with volcanic mountains beyond. On one side is a ravine, and beyond it a fine mountainous and wooded country.
Near the village are the coffee plantations. The trees are planted in rows, and are kept topped to about seven feet high. This causes the lateral branches to grow very strong, so that some of the trees become perfect hemispheres, loaded with fruit from top to bottom, and producing from ten to twenty pounds each of cleaned coffee annually. These plantations were all formed by the Government, and are cultivated by the villagers under the direction of their chief. Certain days are appointed for weeding or gathering, and the whole working population are summoned by the sound of a gong. An account is kept of the number of hours’ work done by each family, and at the year’s end, the produce of the sale is divided among them proportionately. The coffee is taken to Government stores established at central places over the whole country, and is paid for at a low fixed price. Out of this a certain percentage goes to the chiefs and majors, and the remainder is divided among the inhabitants. This system works very well, and I believe is at present far better for the people than free-trade would be. There are also large rice-fields, and in this little village of seventy houses, I was informed that a hundred pounds’ worth of rice was sold annually.
I had a small house at the very end of the village, almost hanging over the precipitous slope down to the stream, and with a splendid view from the verandah. The thermometer in the morning often stood at 62° and never rose so high as 80°, so that with the thin clothing used in the tropical plains we were always cool and sometimes positively cold, while the spout of water where I went daily for my bath had quite an icy feel. Although I enjoyed myself very much among these fine mountains and forests, I was somewhat disappointed as to my collections. There was hardly any perceptible difference between the animal life in this temperate region and in the torrid plains below, and what difference did exist was in most respects disadvantageous to me. There seemed to be nothing absolutely peculiar to this elevation. Birds and quadrupeds were less plentiful, but of the same species. In insects there seemed to be more difference. The curious beetles of the family Cleridae, which are found chiefly on bark and rotten wood, were finer than I have seen them elsewhere. The beautiful Longicorns were scarcer than usual, and the few butterflies were all of tropical species. One of these, Papilio blumei, of which I obtained a few specimens only, is among the most magnificent I have ever seen. It is a green and gold swallow-tail, with azure-blue and spoon-shaped tails, and was often seen flying about the village when the sun shone, but in a very shattered condition. The great amount of wet and cloudy weather was a great drawback all the time I was at Rurukan.
Even in the vegetation there is very little to indicate elevation. The trees are more covered with lichens and mosses, and the ferns and tree-ferns are finer and more luxuriant than I had been accustomed to seeing on the low grounds, both probably attributable to the almost perpetual moisture that here prevails. Abundance of a tasteless raspberry, with blue and yellow composite, have somewhat of a temperate aspect; and minute ferns and Orchideae, with dwarf Begonias on the rocks, make some approach to a sub-alpine vegetation. The forest, however, is most luxuriant. Noble palms, Pandani, and tree-ferns are abundant in it, while the forest trees are completely festooned with Orchideae, Bromeliae, Araceae, Lycopodiums, and mosses. The ordinary stemless ferns abound; some with gigantic fronds ten or twelve feet long, others barely an inch high; some with entire and massive leaves, others elegantly waving their finely-cut foliage, and adding endless variety and interest to the forest paths. The cocoa-nut palm still produces fruit abundantly, but is said to be deficient in oil. Oranges thrive better than below, producing abundance of delicious fruit; but the shaddock or pumplemous (Citrus decumana) requires the full force of a tropical sun, for it will not thrive even at Tondano a thousand feet lower. On the hilly slopes rice is cultivated largely, and ripens well, although the temperature rarely or never rises to 80°, so that one would think it might be grown even in England in fine summers, especially if the young plants were raised under glass.
The mountains have an unusual quantity of earth and vegetable mould spread over them. Even on the steepest slopes there is everywhere a covering of clays and sands, and generally a good thickness of vegetable soil. It is this which perhaps contributes to the uniform luxuriance of the forest, and delays the appearance of that sub-alpine vegetation which depends almost as much on the abundance of rocky and exposed surfaces as on difference of climate. At a much lower elevation on Mount Ophir in Malacca, Dacrydiums and Rhododendrons with abundance of Nepenthes, ferns, and terrestrial orchids suddenly took the place of the lofty forest; but this was plainly due to the occurrence of an extensive slope of bare, granitic rock at an elevation of less than 3,000 feet. The quantity of vegetable soil, and also of loose sands and clays, resting on steep slopes, hill-tops and the sides of ravines, is a curious and important phenomenon. It may be due in part to constant, slight earthquake shocks facilitating the disintegration of rock; but, would also seem to indicate that the country has been long exposed to gentle atmospheric action, and that its elevation has been exceedingly slow and continuous.
During my stay at Rurukan, my curiosity was satisfied by experiencing a pretty sharp earthquake-shock. On the evening of June 29th, at a quarter after eight, as I was sitting reading, the house began shaking with a very gentle, but rapidly increasing motion. I sat still enjoying the novel sensation for some seconds; but in less than half a minute it became strong enough to shake me in my chair, and to make the house visibly rock about, and creak and crack as if it would fall to pieces. Then began a cry throughout the village of “Tana goyang! tana goyang! “(Earthquake! earthquake!) Everybody rushed out of their houses — women screamed and children cried — and I thought it prudent to go out too. On getting up, I found my head giddy and my steps unsteady, and could hardly walk without falling. The shock continued about a minute, during which time I felt as if I had been turned round and round, and was almost seasick. Going into the house again, I found a lamp and a bottle of arrack upset. The tumbler which formed the lamp had been thrown out of the saucer in which it had stood. The shock appeared to be nearly vertical, rapid, vibratory, and jerking. It was sufficient, I have no doubt, to have thrown down brick, chimneys, walls, and church towers; but as the houses here are all low, and strongly framed of timber, it is impossible for them to be much injured, except by a shock that would utterly destroy a European city. The people told me it was ten years since they had had a stronger shock than this, at which time many houses were thrown down and some people killed.
At intervals of ten minutes to half an hour, slight shocks and tremors were felt, sometimes strong enough to send us all out again. There was a strange mixture of the terrible and the ludicrous in our situation. We might at any moment have a much stronger shock, which would bring down the house over us, or — what I feared more — cause a landslip, and send us down into the deep ravine on the very edge of which the village is built; yet I could not help laughing each time we ran out at a slight shock, and then in a few moments ran in again. The sublime and the ridiculous were here literally but a step apart. On the one hand, the most terrible and destructive of natural phenomena was in action around us — the rocks, the mountains, the solid earth were trembling and convulsed, and we were utterly impotent to guard against the danger that might at any moment overwhelm us. On the other hand was the spectacle of a number of men, women, and children running in and out of their houses, on what each time proved a very unnecessary alarm, as each shock ceased just as it became strong enough to frighten us. It seemed really very much like “playing at earthquakes,” and made many of the people join me in a hearty laugh, even while reminding each other that it really might be no laughing matter.
At length the evening got very cold, and I became very sleepy, and determined to turn in; leaving orders to my boys, who slept nearer the door, to wake me in case the house was in danger of falling. But I miscalculated my apathy, for I could not sleep much. The shocks continued at intervals of half an hour or an hour all night, just strong enough to wake me thoroughly each time and keep me on the alert, ready to jump up in case of danger. I was therefore very glad when morning came. Most of the inhabitants had not been to bed at all, and some had stayed out of doors all night. For the next two days and nights shocks still continued at short intervals, and several times a day for a week, showing that there was some very extensive disturbance beneath our portion of the earth’s crust. How vast the forces at work really are can only be properly appreciated when, after feeling their effects, we look abroad over the wide expanse of hill and valley, plain and mountain, and thus realize in a slight degree the immense mass of matter heaved and shaken. The sensation produced by an earthquake is never to be forgotten. We feel ourselves in the grasp of a power to which the wildest fury of the winds and waves are as nothing; yet the effect is more a thrill of awe than the terror which the more boisterous war of the elements produces. There is a mystery and an uncertainty as to the amount of danger we incur, which gives greater play to the imagination, and to the influences of hope and fear. These remarks apply only to a moderate earthquake. A severe one is the most destructive and the most horrible catastrophe to which human beings can be exposed.
A few days after the earthquake I took a walk to Tondano, a large village of about 7,000 inhabitants, situated at the lower end of the lake of the same name. I dined with the Controlleur, Mr. Bensneider, who had been my guide to Tomohon. He had a fine large house, in which he often received visitors; and his garden was the best for flowers which I had seen in the tropics, although there was no great variety. It was he who introduced the rose hedges which give such a charming appearance to the villages; and to him is chiefly due the general neatness and good order that everywhere prevail. I consulted him about a fresh locality, as I found Rurúkan too much in the clouds, dreadfully damp and gloomy, and with a general stagnation of bird and insect life. He recommended me a village some distance beyond the lake, near which was a large forest, where he thought I should find plenty of birds. As he was going himself in a few days, I decided to accompany him.
After dinner I asked him for a guide to the celebrated waterfall on the outlet stream of the lake. It is situated about a mile and half below the village, where a slight rising ground closes in the basin, and evidently once formed, the shore of the lake. Here the river enters a gorge, very narrow and tortuous, along which it rushes furiously for a short distance and then plunges into a great chasm, forming the head of a large valley. Just above the fall the channel is not more than ten feet wide, and here a few planks are thrown across, whence, half hid by luxuriant vegetation, the mad waters may be seen rushing beneath, and a few feet farther plunge into the abyss. Both sight and sound are grand and impressive. It was here that, four years before my visit, the Governor–General of the Netherland Indies committed suicide, by leaping into the torrent. This at least is the general opinion, as he suffered from a painful disease which was supposed to have made him weary of his life. His body was found next day in the stream below.
Unfortunately, no good view of the fall could now be obtained, owing to the quantity of wood and high grass that lined the margins of the precipices. There are two falls, the lower being the most lofty; and it is possible, by long circuit, to descend into the valley and see them from below. Were the best points of view searched for and rendered accessible, these falls would probably be found to be the finest in the Archipelago. The chasm seems to be of great depth, probably 500 or 600 feet. Unfortunately, I had no time to explore this valley, as I was anxious to devote every fine day to increasing my hitherto scanty collections.
Just opposite my abode in Rurukan was the schoolhouse. The schoolmaster was a native, educated by the Missionary at Tomohón. School was held every morning for about three hours, and twice a week in the evening there was catechising and preaching. There was also a service on Sunday morning. The children were all taught in Malay, and I often heard them repeating the multiplication-table, up to twenty times twenty, very glibly. They always wound up with singing, and it was very pleasing to hear many of our old psalm-tunes in these remote mountains, sung with Malay words. Singing is one of the real blessings which Missionaries introduce among savage nations, whose native chants are almost always monotonous and melancholy.
On catechising evenings the schoolmaster was a great man, preaching and teaching for three hours at a stretch much in the style of an English ranter. This was pretty cold work for his auditors, however warming to himself; and I am inclined to think that these native teachers, having acquired facility of speaking and an endless supply of religious platitudes to talk about, ride their hobby rather hard, without much consideration for their flock. The Missionaries, however, have much to be proud of in this country. They have assisted the Government in changing a savage into a civilized community in a wonderfully short space of time. Forty years ago the country was a wilderness, the people naked savages, garnishing their rude houses with human heads. Now it is a garden, worthy of its sweet native name of “Minahasa.” Good roads and paths traverse it in every direction; some of the finest coffee plantations in the world surround the villages, interspersed with extensive rice-fields more than sufficient for the support of the population.
The people are now the most industrious, peaceable, and civilized in the whole Archipelago. They are the best clothed, the best housed, the best fed, and the best educated; and they have made some progress towards a higher social state. I believe there is no example elsewhere of such striking results being produced in so short a time — results which are entirely due to the system of government now adopted by the Dutch in their Eastern possessions. The system is one which may be called a “paternal despotism.” Now we Englishmen do not like despotism — we hate the name and the thing, and we would rather see people ignorant, lazy, and vicious, than use any but moral force to make them wise, industrious, and good. And we are right when we are dealing with men of our own race, and of similar ideas and equal capacities with ourselves. Example and precept, the force of public opinion, and the slow, but sure spread of education, will do every thing in time, without engendering any of those bitter feelings, or producing any of that servility, hypocrisy, and dependence, which are the sure results of despotic government. But what should we think of a man who should advocate these principles of perfect freedom in a family or a school? We should say that he was applying a good, general principle to a case in which the conditions rendered it inapplicable — the case in which the governed are in an admitted state of mental inferiority to those who govern them, and are unable to decide what is best for their permanent welfare. Children must be subjected to some degree of authority, and guidance; and if properly managed they will cheerfully submit to it, because they know their own inferiority, and believe their elders are acting solely for their good. They learn many things the use of which they cannot comprehend, and which they would never learn without some moral and social, if not physical, pressure. Habits of order, of industry, of cleanliness, of respect and obedience, are inculcated by similar means. Children would never grow up into well-behaved and well-educated men, if the same absolute freedom of action that is allowed to men were allowed to them. Ruder the best aspect of education, children are subjected to a mild despotism for the good of themselves and of society; and their confidence in the wisdom and goodness of those who ordain and apply this despotism, neutralizes the bad passions and degrading feelings, which under less favourable conditions are its general results.
Now, there is not merely an analogy — there is in many respects an identity of relation between master and pupil or parent and child on the one hand, and an uncivilized race and its civilized rulers on the other. We know (or think we know) that the education and industry, and the common usages of civilized man, are superior to those of savage life; and, as he becomes acquainted with them, the savage himself admits this. He admires the superior acquirements of the civilized man, and it is with pride that he will adopt such usages as do not interfere too much with his sloth, his passions, or his prejudices. But as the willful child or the idle schoolboy, who was never taught obedience, and never made to do anything which of his own free will he was not inclined to do, would in most cases obtain neither education nor manners; so it is much more unlikely that the savage, with all the confirmed habits of manhood and the traditional prejudices of race, should ever do more than copy a few of the least beneficial customs of civilization, without some stronger stimulus than precept, very imperfectly backed by example.
If we are satisfied that we are right in assuming the government over a savage race, and occupying their country, and if we further consider it our duty to do what we can to improve our rude subjects and raise them up towards our own level, we must not be too much afraid of the cry of “despotism” and “slavery,” but must use the authority we possess to induce them to do work which they may not altogether like, but which we know to be an indispensable step in their moral and physical advancement. The Dutch have shown much good policy in the means by which they have done this. They have in most cases upheld and strengthened the authority of the native chiefs, to whom the people have been accustomed to render a voluntary obedience; and by acting on the intelligence and self-interest of these chiefs, have brought about changes in the manners and customs of the people, which would have excited ill-feeling and perhaps revolt, had they been directly enforced by foreigners.
In carrying out such a system, much depends upon the character of the people; and the system which succeeds admirably in one place could only be very partially worked out in another. In Minahasa the natural docility and intelligence of the race have made their progress rapid; and how important this is, is well illustrated by the fact, that in the immediate vicinity of the town of Menado are a tribe called Banteks, of a much less tractable disposition, who have hitherto resisted all efforts of the Dutch Government to induce them to adopt any systematic cultivation. These remain in a ruder condition, but engage themselves willingly as occasional porters and labourers, for which their greater strength and activity well adapt them.
No doubt the system here sketched seems open to serious objection. It is to a certain extent despotic, and interferes with free trade, free labour, and free communication. A native cannot leave his village without a pass, and cannot engage himself to any merchant or captain without a Government permit. The coffee has all to be sold to Government, at less than half the price that the local merchant would give for it, and he consequently cries out loudly against “monopoly” and “oppression.” He forgets, how ever, that the coffee plantations were established by the Government at great outlay of capital and skill; that it gives free education to the people, and that the monopoly is in lieu of taxation. He forgets that the product he wants to purchase and make a profit by, is the creation of the Government, without whom the people would still be savages. He knows very well that free trade would, as its first result, lead to the importation of whole cargoes of arrack, which would be carried over the country and exchanged for coffee. That drunkenness and poverty would spread over the land; that the public coffee plantations would not be kept up; that the quality and quantity of the coffee would soon deteriorate; that traders and merchants would get rich, but that the people would relapse into poverty and barbarism. That such is invariably is the result of free trade with any savage tribes who possess a valuable product, native or cultivated, is well known to those who have visited such people; but we might even anticipate from general principles that evil results would happen.
If there is one thing rather than another to which the grand law of continuity or development will apply, it is to human progress. There are certain stages through which society must pass in its onward march from barbarism to civilization. Now one of these stages has always been some form or other of despotism, such as feudalism or servitude, or a despotic paternal government; and we have every reason to believe that it is not possible for humanity to leap over this transition epoch, and pass at once from pure savagery to free civilization. The Dutch system attempts to supply this missing link, and to bring the people on by gradual steps to that higher civilization, which we (the English) try to force upon them at once. Our system has always failed. We demoralize and we extirpate, but we never really civilize. Whether the Dutch system can permanently succeed is but doubtful, since it may not be possible to compress the work of ten centuries into one; but at all events it takes nature as a guide, and is therefore, more deserving of success, and more likely to succeed, than ours.
There is one point connected with this question which I think the Missionaries might take up with great physical and moral results. In this beautiful and healthy country, and with abundance of food and necessaries, the population does not increase as it ought to do. I can only impute this to one cause. Infant mortality, produced by neglect while the mothers are working in the plantations, and by general ignorance of the conditions of health in infants. Women all work, as they have always been accustomed to do. It is no hardship to them, but I believe is often a pleasure and relaxation. They either take their infants with them, in which case they leave them in some shady spot on the ground, going at intervals to give them nourishment, or they leave them at home in the care of other children too young to work. Under neither of these circumstances can infants be properly attended to, and great mortality is the result, keeping the increase of population far below the rate which the general prosperity of the country and the universality of marriage would lead us to expect. This is a matter in which the Government is directly interested, since it is by the increase of the population alone that there can be any large and permanent increase in the production of coffee. The Missionaries should take up the question because, by inducing married women to confine themselves to domestic duties, they will decidedly promote a higher civilization, and directly increase the health and happiness of the whole community. The people are so docile and so willing to adopt the manners and customs of Europeans, that the change might be easily effected by merely showing them that it was a question of morality and civilization, and an essential step in their progress towards an equality with their white rulers.
After a fortnight’s stay at Rurúkan, I left that pretty and interesting village in search of a locality and climate more productive of birds and insects. I passed the evening with the Controlleur of Tondano, and the next morning at nine, left in a small boat for the head of the lake, a distance of about ten miles. The lower end of the lake is bordered by swamps and marshes of considerable extent, but a little further on, the hills come down to the water’s edge and give it very much the appearance of a greet river, the width being about two miles. At the upper end is the village of Kakas, where I dined with the head man in a good house like those I have already described; and then went on to Langówan, four miles distant over a level plain. This was the place where I had been recommended to stay, and I accordingly unpacked my baggage and made myself comfortable in the large house devoted to visitors. I obtained a man to shoot for me, and another to accompany me the next day to the forest, where I was in hopes of finding a good collecting ground.
In the morning after breakfast I started off, but found I had four miles to walk over a wearisome straight road through coffee plantations before I could get to the forest, and as soon as I did so,it came on to rain heavily and did not cease until night. This distance to walk everyday was too far for any profitable work, especially when the weather was so uncertain. I therefore decided at once that I must go further on, until I found someplace close to or in a forest country. In the afternoon my friend Mr. Bensneider arrived, together with the Controlleur of the next district, called Belang, from whom I learned that six miles further on there was a village called Panghu, which had been recently formed and had a good deal of forest close to it; and he promised me the use of a small house if I liked to go there.
The next morning I went to see the hot-springs and mud volcanoes, for which this place is celebrated. A picturesque path among plantations and ravines brought us to a beautiful circular basin about forty feet in diameter, bordered by a calcareous ledge, so uniform and truly curved, that it looked like a work of art. It was filled with clear water very near the boiling point, and emitted clouds of steam with a strong sulphureous odour. It overflows at one point and forms a little stream of hot water, which at a hundred yards’ distance is still too hot to hold the hand in. A little further on, in a piece of rough wood, were two other springs not so regular in outline, but appearing to be much hotter, as they were in a continual state of active ebullition. At intervals of a few minutes, a great escape of steam or gas took place, throwing up a column of water three or four feet high.
We then went to the mud-springs, which are about a mile off, and are still more curious. On a sloping tract of ground in a slight hollow is a small lake of liquid mud, with patches of blue, red, or white, and in many places boiling and bubbling most furiously. All around on the indurated clay are small wells and craters full of boiling mud. These seem to be forming continually, a small hole appearing first, which emits jets of steam and boiling mud, which upon hardening, forms a little cone with a crater in the middle. The ground for some distance is very unsafe, as it is evidently liquid at a small depth, and bends with pressure like thin ice. At one of the smaller, marginal jets which I managed to approach, I held my hand to see if it was really as hot as it looked, when a little drop of mud that spurted on to my finger scalded like boiling water.
A short distance off, there was a flat bare surface of rock as smooth and hot as an oven floor, which was evidently an old mud-pool, dried up and hardened. For hundreds of yards around where there were banks of reddish and white clay used for whitewash, it was still so hot close to the surface that the hand could hardly bear to be held in cracks a few inches deep, and from which arose a strong sulphureous vapour. I was informed that some years back a French gentleman who visited these springs ventured too near the liquid mud, when the crust gave way and he was engulfed in the horrible caldron.
This evidence of intense heat so near the surface over a large tract of country was very impressive, and I could hardly divest myself of the notion that some terrible catastrophe might at any moment devastate the country. Yet it is probable that all these apertures are really safety-valves, and that the inequalities of the resistance of various parts of the earth’s crust will always prevent such an accumulation of force as would be required to upheave and overwhelm any extensive area. About seven miles west of this is a volcano which was in eruption about thirty years before my visit, presenting a magnificent appearance and covering the surrounding country with showers of ashes. The plains around the lake formed by the intermingling and decomposition of volcanic products are of amazing fertility, and with a little management in the rotation of crops might be kept in continual cultivation. Rice is now grown on them for three or four years in succession, when they are left fallow for the same period, after which rice or maize can be again grown. Good rice produces thirty-fold, and coffee trees continue bearing abundantly for ten or fifteen years, without any manure and with scarcely any cultivation.
I was delayed a day by incessant rain, and then proceeded to Panghu, which I reached just before the daily rain began at 11 A.M. After leaving the summit level of the lake basin, the road is carried along the slope of a fine forest ravine. The descent is a long one, so that I estimated the village to be not more than 1,500 feet above the sea, yet I found the morning temperature often 69°, the same as at Tondano at least 600 or 700 feet higher. I was pleased with the appearance of the place, which had a good deal of forest and wild country around it; and found prepared for me a little house consisting only of a verandah and a back room. This was only intended for visitors to rest in, or to pass a night, but it suited me very well. I was so unfortunate, however, as to lose both my hunters just at this time. One had been left at Tondano with fever and diarrhoea, and the other was attacked at Langówan with inflammation of the chest, and as his case looked rather bad I had him sent back to Menado. The people here were all so busy with their rice-harvest, which was important for them to finish owing to the early rains, that I could get no one to shoot for me.
During the three weeks that I stayed at Panghu it rained nearly everyday, either in the afternoon only, or all day long; but there were generally a few hours’ sunshine in the morning, and I took advantage of these to explore the roads and paths, the rocks and ravines, in search of insects. These were not very abundant, yet I saw enough to convince me that the locality was a good one, had I been there at the beginning instead of at the end of the dry season. The natives brought me daily a few insects obtained at the Sagueir palms, including some fine Cetonias and stag-beetles. Two little boys were very expert with the blowpipe, and brought me a good many small birds, which they shot with pellets of clay. Among these was a pretty little flower-pecker of a new species (Prionochilus aureolimbatus), and several of the loveliest honeysuckers I had yet seen. My general collection of birds was, however, almost at a standstill; for though I at length obtained a man to shoot for me, he was not good for much, and seldom brought me more than one bird a day. The best thing he shot was the large and rare fruit-pigeon peculiar to Northern Celebes (Carpophaga forsteni), which I had long been seeking.
I was myself very successful in one beautiful group of insects, the tiger-beetles, which seem more abundant and varied here than anywhere else in the Archipelago. I first met with them on a cutting in the road, where a hard clayey bank was partially overgrown with mosses and small ferns. Here, I found running about, a small olive-green species which never took flight; and more rarely, a fine purplish black wingless insect, which was always found motionless in crevices, and was therefore, probably nocturnal. It appeared to me to form a new genus. About the roads in the forest, I found the large and handsome Cicindela heros, which I had before obtained sparingly at Macassar; but it was in the mountain torrent of the ravine itself that I got my finest things. 0n dead trunks overhanging the water and on the banks and foliage, I obtained three very pretty species of Cicindela, quite distinct in size, form, and colour, but having an almost identical pattern of pale spots. I also found a single specimen of a most curious species with very long antennae. But my finest discovery here was the Cicindela gloriosa, which I found on mossy stones just rising above the water. After obtaining my first specimen of this elegant insect, I used to walk up the stream, watching carefully every moss-covered rock and stone. It was rather shy, and would often lead me on a long chase from stone to stone, becoming invisible every time it settled on the damp moss, owing to its rich velvety green colour. On some days I could only catch a few glimpses of it; on others I got a single specimen; and on a few occasions two, but never without a more or less active pursuit. This and several other species I never saw but in this one ravine.
Among the people here I saw specimens of several types, which, with the peculiarities of the languages, gives me some notion of their probable origin. A striking illustration of the low state of civilization of these people, until quite recently, is to be found in the great diversity of their languages. Villages three or four miles apart have separate dialects, and each group of three or four such villages has a distinct language quite unintelligible to all the rest; so that, until the recent introduction of Malay by the Missionaries, there must have been a bar to all free communication. These languages offer many peculiarities. They contain a Celebes–Malay element and a Papuan element, along with some radical peculiarities found also in the languages of the Siau and Sanguir islands further north, and therefore, probably derived from the Philippine Islands. Physical characteristics correspond. There are some of the less civilized tribes which have semi-Papuan features and hair, while in some villages the true Celebes or Bugis physiognomy prevails. The plateau of Tondano is chiefly inhabited by people nearly as white as the Chinese, and with very pleasing semi-European features. The people of Siau and Sanguir much resemble these, and I believe them to be perhaps immigrants from some of the islands of North Polynesia. The Papuan type will represent the remnant of the aborigines, while those of the Bugis character show the extension northward of the superior Malay races.
As I was wasting valuable time at Panghu, owing to the bad weather and the illness of my hunters, I returned to Menado after a stay of three weeks. Here I had a little touch of fever, and what with drying and packing all of my collections and getting fresh servants, it was a fortnight before I was again ready to start. I now went eastward over an undulating country skirting the great volcano of Klabat, to a village called Lempias, situated close to the extensive forest that covers the lower slopes of that mountain. My baggage was carried from village to village by relays of men; and as each change involved some delay, I did not reach my destination (a distance of eighteen miles) until sunset. I was wet through, and had to wait for an hour in an uncomfortable state until the first installment of my baggage arrived, which luckily contained my clothes, while the rest did not come in until midnight.
This being the district inhabited by that singular annual the Babirusa (Hog-deer), I inquired about skulls and soon obtained several in tolerable condition, as well as a fine one of the rare and curious “Sapiutan” (Anoa depressicornis. Of this animal I had seen two living specimens at Menado, and was surprised at their great resemblance to small cattle, or still more to the Eland of South Africa. Their Malay name signifies “forest ox,” and they differ from very small highbred oxen principally by the low-hanging dewlap, and straight, pointed horns which slope back over the neck. I did not find the forest here so rich in insects as I had expected, and my hunters got me very few birds, but what they did obtain were very interesting. Among these were the rare forest Kingfisher (Cittura cyanotis), a small new species of Megapodius, and one specimen of the large and interesting Maleo (Megacephalon rubripes), to obtain which was one of my chief reasons for visiting this district. Getting no more, however, after ten days’ search, I removed to Licoupang, at the extremity of the peninsula, a place celebrated for these birds, as well as for the Babirusa and Sapiutan. I found here Mr. Goldmann, the eldest son of the Governor of the Moluccas, who was superintending the establishment of some Government salt-works. This was a better locality, and I obtained some fine butterflies and very good birds, among which was one more specimen of the rare ground dove (Phlegaenas tristigmata), which I had first obtained near the Maros waterfall in South Celebes.
Hearing what I was particularly in search of, Mr. Goldmann kindly offered to make a hunting-party to the place where the “Maleos” are most abundant, a remote and uninhabited sea-beach about twenty miles distant. The climate here was quite different from that on the mountains; not a drop of rain having fallen for four months; so I made arrangements to stay on the beach a week, in order to secure a good number of specimens. We went partly by boat and partly through the forest, accompanied by the Major or head-man of Licoupang, with a dozen natives and about twenty dogs. On the way they caught a young Sapi-utan and five wild pigs. Of the former I preserved the head. This animal is entirely confined to the remote mountain forests of Celebes and one or two adjacent islands which form part of the same group. In the adults the head is black, with a white mark over each eye, one on each cheek and another on the throat. The horns are very smooth and sharp when young, but become thicker and ridged at the bottom with age. Most naturalists consider this curious animal to be a small ox, but from the character of the horns, the fine coat of hair and the descending dewlap, it seemed closely to approach the antelopes.
Arrived at our destination, we built a but and prepared for a stay of some days — I to shoot and skin “Maleos”, and Mr. Goldmann and the Major to hunt wild pigs, Babirusa, and Sapi-utan. The place is situated in the large bay between the islands of Limbe and Banca, and consists of steep beach more than a mile in length, of deep loose and coarse black volcanic sand (or rather gravel), very fatiguing to walk over. It is bounded at each extremity by a small river with hilly ground beyond, while the forest behind the beach itself is tolerably level and its growth stunted. We probably have here an ancient lava stream from the Klabat volcano, which has flowed down a valley into the sea, and the decomposition of which has formed the loose black sand. In confirmation of this view, it may be mentioned that the beaches beyond the small rivers in both directions are of white sand.
It is in this loose, hot, black sand that those singular birds, the “Maleos” deposit their eggs. In the months of August and September, when there is little or no rain, they come down in pairs from the interior to this or to one or two other favourite spots, and scratch holes three or four feet deep, just above high-water mark, where the female deposits a single large egg, which she covers over with about a foot of sand — and then returns to the forest. At the end of ten or twelve days she comes again to the same spot to lay another egg, and each female bird is supposed to lay six or eight eggs during the season. The male assists the female in making the hole, coming down and returning with her. The appearance of the bird when walking on the beach is very handsome. The glossy black and rosy white of the plumage, the helmeted head and elevated tail, like that of the common fowl, give a striking character, which their stately and somewhat sedate walk renders still more remarkable. There is hardly any difference between the sexes, except that the casque or bonnet at the back of the head and the tubercles at the nostrils are a little larger, and the beautiful rosy salmon colour a little deeper in the male bird; but the difference is so slight that it is not always possible to tell a male from a female without dissection. They run quickly, but when shot at or suddenly disturbed, take wing with a heavy noisy flight to some neighbouring tree, where they settle on a low branch; and, they probably roost at night in a similar situation. Many birds lay in the same hole, for a dozen eggs are often found together; and these are so large that it is not possible for the body of the bird to contain more than one fully-developed egg at the same time. In all the female birds which I shot, none of the eggs besides the one large one exceeded the size of peas, and there were only eight or nine of these, which is probably the extreme number a bird can lay in one season.
Every year the natives come for fifty miles round to obtain these eggs, which are esteemed as a great delicacy, and when quite fresh, are indeed delicious. They are richer than hens’ eggs and of a finer favour, and each one completely fills an ordinary teacup, and forms with bread or rice a very good meal. The colour of the shell is a pale brick red, or very rarely pure white. They are elongate and very slightly smaller at one end, from four to four and a half inches long by two and a quarter or two and a half wide.
After the eggs are deposited in the sand, they are no further cared for by the mother. The young birds, upon breaking the shell, work their way up through the sand and run off at once to the forest; and I was assured by Mr. Duivenboden of Ternate, that they can fly the very day they are hatched. He had taken some eggs on board his schooner which hatched during the night, and in the morning the little birds flew readily across the cabin. Considering the great distances the birds come to deposit the eggs in a proper situation (often ten or fifteen miles) it seems extraordinary that they should take no further care of them. It is, however, quite certain that they neither do nor can watch them. The eggs being deposited by a number of hens in succession in the same hole, would render it impossible for each to distinguish its own; and the food necessary for such large birds (consisting entirely of fallen fruits) can only be obtained by roaming over an extensive district, so that if the numbers of birds which come down to this single beach in the breeding season, amounting to many hundreds, were obliged to remain in the vicinity, many would perish of hunger.
In the structure of the feet of this bird, we may detect a cause for its departing from the habits of its nearest allies, the Megapodii and Talegalli, which heap up earth, leaves, stones, and sticks into a huge mound, in which they bury their eggs. The feet of the Maleo are not nearly so large or strong in proportion as in these birds, while its claws are short and straight instead of being long and much curved. The toes are, however, strongly webbed at the base, forming a broad powerful foot, which, with the rather long leg, is well adapted to scratch away the loose sand (which flies up in a perfect shower when the birds are at work), but which could not without much labour accumulate the heaps of miscellaneous rubbish, which the large grasping feet of the Megapodius bring together with ease.
We may also, I think, see in the peculiar organization of the entire family of the Megapodidae or Brush Turkeys, a reason why they depart so widely from the usual habits of the Class of birds. Each egg being so large as entirely to fill up the abdominal cavity and with difficulty pass the walls of the pelvis, a considerable interval is required before the successive eggs can be matured (the natives say about thirteen days). Each bird lays six or eight eggs or even more each season, so that between the first and last there may be an interval of two or three months. Now, if these eggs were hatched in the ordinary way, either the parents must keep sitting continually for this long period, or if they only began to sit after the last egg was deposited, the first would be exposed to injury by the climate, or to destruction by the large lizards, snakes, or other animals which abound in the district; because such large birds must roam about a good deal in search of food. Here then we seem to have a case in which the habits of a bird may be directly traced to its exceptional organization; for it will hardly be maintained that this abnormal structure and peculiar food were given to the Megapodidae in order that they might not exhibit that parental affection, or possess those domestic instincts so general in the Class of birds, and which so much excite our admiration.
It has generally been the custom of writers on Natural History to take the habits and instincts of animals as fixed points, and to consider their structure and organization, as specially adapted, to be in accordance with these. This assumption is however an arbitrary one, and has the bad effect of stifling inquiry into the nature and causes of “instincts and habits,” treating them as directly due to a “first cause,” and therefore, incomprehensible to us. I believe that a careful consideration of the structure of a species, and of the peculiar physical and organic conditions by which it is surrounded, or has been surrounded in past ages, will often, as in this case, throw much light on the origin of its habits and instincts. These again, combined with changes in external conditions, react upon structure, and by means of “variation” and “natural selection”, both are kept in harmony.
My friends remained three days, and got plenty of wild pigs and two Anoas, but the latter were much injured by the dogs, and I could only preserve the heads. A grand hunt which we attempted on the third day failed, owing to bad management in driving in the game, and we waited for five hours perched on platforms in trees without getting a shot, although we had been assured that pigs, Babirusas, and Anóas would rush past us in dozens. I myself, with two men, stayed three days longer to get more specimens of the Maleos, and succeeded in preserving twenty-six very fine ones — the flesh and eggs of which supplied us with abundance of good food.
The Major sent a boat, as he had promised, to take home my baggage, while I walked through the forest with my two boys and a guide, about fourteen miles. For the first half of the distance there was no path, and we had often to cut our way through tangled rattans or thickets of bamboo. In some of our turnings to find the most practicable route, I expressed my fear that we were losing our way, as the sun being vertical, I could see no possible clue to the right direction. My conductors, however, laughed at the idea, which they seemed to consider quite ludicrous; and sure enough, about half way, we suddenly encountered a little hut where people from Licoupang came to hunt and smoke wild pigs. My guide told me he had never before traversed the forest between these two points; and this is what is considered by some travellers as one of the savage “instincts,” whereas it is merely the result of wide general knowledge. The man knew the topography of the whole district; the slope of the land, the direction of the streams, the belts of bamboo or rattan, and many other indications of locality and direction; and he was thus enabled to hit straight upon the hut, in the vicinity of which he had often hunted. In a forest of which he knew nothing, he would be quite as much at a loss as a European. Thus it is, I am convinced, with all the wonderful accounts of Indians finding their way through trackless forests to definite points; they may never have passed straight between the two particular points before, but they are well acquainted with the vicinity of both, and have such a general knowledge of the whole country, its water system, its soil and its vegetation, that as they approach the point they are to reach, many easily-recognised indications enable them to hit upon it with certainty.
The chief feature of this forest was the abundance of rattan palms hanging from the trees, and turning and twisting about on the ground, often in inextricable confusion. One wonders at first how they can get into such queer shapes; but it is evidently caused by the decay and fall of the trees up which they have first climbed, after which they grow along the ground until they meet with another trunk up which to ascend. A tangled mass of twisted living rattan, is therefore, a sign that at some former period a large tree has fallen there, though there may be not the slightest vestige of it left. The rattan seems to have unlimited powers of growth, and a single plant may moult up several trees in succession, and thus reach the enormous length they are said sometimes to attain. They much improve the appearance of a forest as seen from the coast; for they vary the otherwise monotonous tree-tops with feathery crowns of leaves rising clear above them, and each terminated by an erect leafy spike like a lightning-conductor.
The other most interesting object in the forest was a beautiful palm, whose perfectly smooth and cylindrical stem rises erect to more than a hundred feet high, with a thickness of only eight or ten inches; while the fan-shaped leaves which compose its crown, are almost complete circles of six or eight feet diameter, borne aloft on long and slender petioles, and beautifully toothed round the edge by the extremities of the leaflets, which are separated only for a few inches from the circumference. It is probably the Livistona rotundifolia of botanists, and is the most complete and beautiful fan-leaf I have ever seen, serving admirably for folding into water-buckets and impromptu baskets, as well as for thatching and other purposes.
A few days afterwards I returned to Menado on horse-back, sending my baggage around by sea; and had just time to pack up all my collections to go by the next mail steamer to Amboyna. I will now devote a few pages to an account of the chief peculiarities of the Zoology of Celebes, and its relation to that of the surrounding countries.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01