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- The Malay Archipelago - 5/54 -


of the island. To the south is a fine. range of mountains, and I had noticed at several of our landing-places that the geological formation of the island was very different from those around it. Whenever rock was visible it was either sandstone in thin layers, dipping south, or a pebbly conglomerate. Sometimes there was a little coralline limestone, but no volcanic rocks. The forest had a dense luxuriance and loftiness seldom found on the dry and porous lavas and raised coral reefs of Ternate and Gilolo; and hoping for a corresponding richness in the birds and insects, it was with much satisfaction and with considerable expectation that I began my explorations in the hitherto unknown island of Batchian.

CHAPTER XXIV.

BATCHIAN.

(OCTOBER 1858 To APRIL 1859.)

I LANDED opposite the house kept for the use of the Resident of Ternate, and was met by a respectable middle-aged Malay, who told me he was Secretary to the Sultan, and would receive the official letter with which I had been provided. On giving it him, he at once informed me I might have the use of the official residence which was empty. I soon got my things on shore, but on looking about me found that the house would never do to stay long in. There was no water except at a considerable distance, and one of my men would be almost entirely occupied getting water and firewood, and I should myself have to walk all through the village every day to the forest, and live almost in public, a thing I much dislike. The rooms were all boarded, and had ceilings, which are a great nuisance, as there are no means of hanging anything up except by driving nails, and not half the conveniences of a native bamboo and thatch cottage. I accordingly inquired for a house outside of the village on the road to the coal mines, and was informed by the Secretary that there was a small one belonging to the Sultan, and that he would go with me early next morning to see it.

We had to pass one large river, by a rude but substantial bridge, and to wade through another fine pebbly stream of clear water, just beyond which the little but was situated. It was very small, not raised on posts, but with the earth for a floor, and was built almost entirely of the leaf-stems of the sago-palm, called here "gaba-gaba." Across the river behind rose a forest-clad bank, and a good road close in front of the horse led through cultivated grounds to the forest about half a mile on, and thence to the coal mines tour miles further. These advantages at once decided me, and I told the Secretary I would be very glad to occupy the house. I therefore sent my two men immediately to buy "ataps" (palm-leaf thatch) to repair the roof, and the next day, with the assistance of eight of the Sultan's men, got all my stores and furniture carried up and pretty comfortably arranged. A rough bamboo bedstead was soon constructed, and a table made of boards which I had brought with me, fixed under the window. Two bamboo chairs, an easy cane chair, and hanging shelves suspended with insulating oil cups, so as to be safe from ants, completed my furnishing arrangements.

In the afternoon succeeding my arrival, the Secretary accompanied me to visit the Sultan. We were kept waiting a few minutes in an outer gate-house, and then ushered to the door of a rude, half- fortified whitewashed house. A small table and three chairs were placed in a large outer corridor, and an old dirty-faced man with grey hair and a grimy beard, dressed in a speckled blue cotton jacket and loose red trousers, came forward, shook hands, and asked me to be coated. After a quarter of an hour's conversation on my pursuits, in which his Majesty seemed to take great interest, tea and cakes-of rather better quality than usual on such occasions-were brought in. I thanked him for the house, and offered to show him my collections, which he promised to come and look at. He then asked me to teach him to take views-to make maps-to get him a small gun from England, and a milch-goat from Bengal; all of which requests I evaded as skilfully as I was able, and we parted very good friends. He seemed a sensible old man, and lamented the small population of the island, which he assured me was rich in many valuable minerals, including gold; but there were not people enough to look after them and work them. I described to him the great rush of population on the discovery of the Australian gold mines, and the huge nuggets found there, with which he was much interested, and exclaimed, "Oh? if we had but people like that, my country would be quite as rich "

The morning after I had got into my new house, I sent my boys out to shoot, and went myself to explore the road to the coal mines. In less than half a mile it entered the virgin forest, at a place where some magnificent trees formed a kind of natural avenue. The first part was flat and swampy, but it soon rose a little, and ran alongside the fine stream which passed behind my house, and which here rushed and gurgled over a rocky or pebbly bed, sometimes leaving wide sandbanks on its margins, and at other places flowing between high banks crowned with a varied and magnificent forest vegetation. After about two miles, the valley narrowed, and the road was carried along the steep hill-side which rose abruptly from the water's edge. In some places the rock had been cut away, but its surface was already covered with elegant ferns and creepers. Gigantic tree-ferns were abundant, and the whole forest had an air of luxuriance and rich variety which it never attains in the dry volcanic soil to which I had been lately accustomed. A little further the road passed to the other side of the valley by a bridge across the stream at a place where a great mass of rock in the middle offered an excellent support for it, and two miles more of most picturesque and interesting road brought me to the mining establishment.

This is situated in a large open space, at a spot where two tributaries fall into the main stream. Several forest-paths and new clearings offered fine collecting grounds, and I captured some new and interesting insects; but as it was getting late I had to reserve a more thorough exploration for future occasions. Coal had been discovered here some years before, and the road was made in order to bring down a sufficient quantity for a fair trial on the Dutch steamers. The quality, however, was not thought sufficiently good, and the mines were abandoned. Quite recently, works had been commenced in another spot, in Hopes of finding a better vein. There ware about eighty men employed, chiefly convicts; but this was far too small a number for mining operations in such a country, where the mere keeping a few miles of road in repair requires the constant work of several men. If coal of sufficiently good quality should be found, a tramroad would be made, and would be very easily worked, owing to the regular descent of the valley.

Just as I got home I overtook Ali returning from shooting with some birch hanging from his belt. He seemed much pleased, and said, "Look here, sir, what a curious bird," holding out what at first completely puzzled me. I saw a bird with a mass of splendid green feathers on its breast, elongated into two glittering tufts; but, what I could not understand was a pair of long white feathers, which stuck straight out from each shoulder. Ali assured me that the bird stuck them out this way itself, when fluttering its wings, and that they had remained so without his touching them. I now saw that I had got a great prize, no less than a completely new form of the Bird of Paradise, differing most remarkably from every other known bird. The general plumage is very sober, being a pure ashy olive, with a purplish tinge on the back; the crown of the head is beautifully glossed with pale metallic violet, and the feathers of the front extend as much over the beak as inmost of the family. The neck and breast are scaled with fine metallic green, and the feathers on the lower part are elongated on each side, so as to form a two-pointed gorget, which can be folded beneath the wings, or partially erected and spread out in the same way as the side plumes of most of the birds of paradise. The four long white plumes which give the bird its altogether unique character, spring from little tubercles close to the upper edge of the shoulder or bend of the wing; they are narrow, gentle curved, and equally webbed on both sides, of a pure creamy white colour. They arc about six inches long, equalling the wing, and can be raised at right angles to it, or laid along the body at the pleasure of the bird. The bill is horn colour, the legs yellow, and the iris pale olive. This striking novelty has been named by Mr. G. R. Gray of the British Museum, Semioptera Wallacei, or "Wallace's Standard wing."

A few days later I obtained an exceedingly beautiful new butterfly, allied to the fine blue Papilio Ulysses, but differing from it in the colour being of a more intense tint, and in having a row of blue stripes around the margin of the lower wings. This good beginning was, however, rather deceptive, and I soon found that insects, and especially butterflies, were somewhat scarce, and birds in tar less variety than I had anticipated. Several of the fine Moluccan species were however obtained. The handsome red lory with green wings and a yellow spot in the back (Lorius garrulus), was not uncommon. When the Jambu, or rose apple (Eugenic sp.), was in flower in the village, flocks of the little lorikeet (Charmosyna placentis), already met with in Gilolo, came to feed upon the nectar, and I obtained as many specimens as I desired. Another beautiful bird of the parrot tribe was the Geoffroyus cyanicollis, a green parrot with a red bill and head, which colour shaded on the crown into azure blue, and thence into verditer blue and the green of the back. Two large and handsome fruit pigeons, with metallic green, ashy, and rufous plumage, were not uncommon; and I was rewarded by finding a splendid deep blue roller (Eurystomus azureus); a lovely golden-capped sunbird (Nectarinea auriceps), and a fine racquet-tailed kingfisher (Tanysiptera isis), all of which were entirely new to ornithologists. Of insects I obtained a considerable number of interesting beetles, including many fine longicorns, among which was the largest and handsomest species of the genus Glenea yet discovered. Among butterflies the beautiful little Danis sebae was abundant, making the forests gay with its delicate wings of white and the richest metallic blue; while showy Papilios, and pretty Pieridae, and dark, rich Euphaeas, many of them new, furnished a constant source of interest and pleasing occupation.

The island of Batchian possesses no really indigenous inhabitants, the interior being altogether uninhabited; and there are only a few small villages on various parts of the coast; yet I found here four distinct races, which would wofully mislead an ethnological traveller unable to obtain information as to their origin, first there are the Batchian Malays, probably the earliest colonists, differing very little from those of Ternate. Their language, however, seems to have more of the Papuan element, with a mixture of pure Malay, showing that the settlement is one of stragglers of various races, although now sufficiently homogeneous. Then there are the "Orang Sirani," as at Ternate and Amboyna. Many of these have the Portuguese physiognomy strikingly preserved, but combined with a skin generally darker than the Malays. Some national customs are


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