Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

apparent resignation. It is also said that they are very seldom une faithful to their foreign masters, indeed they are often essentially use. ful, particularly to those who trade, by keeping their accounts and transacting their business : but when a man departs from the country, he is not suffered to carry his temporary wife along with him ; on that point the law is exceedingly rigorous: every mip, before she . receives her clearance, is diligently searched by the officers of the

custom-house: even if their vigilance were to be eluded, the woman would be quickly milled; and it would be soon discovered in what veTel she had gone, nor could that ship ever return to a Birman' port but under penalty of confiscation of the property, and the infliction of a heavy fine and jinprisonment on the master : female children also, born of a Birman mother, are not suffered to be taken away. Men are permitted to emigrate; but they think that the expatriation of women would impoverith the state, by diminish. ing the sources of its population.' P. 328. ;

The Birman ladies, like Penelope, ply the loom, and the mild active benevolence of the men, while at home, gives way, during a foreign invasion, to every ferocious passion: as invaders, desolation marks their track, and they spare neither age nor sex.' It is singular, that the symbol of their nation is a goofe. Elephants are numerous, but the jackall, though frequent in the neighbouring countries, is unknown in the Birman empire.

The division of the year is not very accurate in this country; and the emperor, who seems one of the first astronomers in it, is so well aware of the deficiency, that he has requested the affistance of an astronomical bramin from Bengal. The Pali is their sacred text, not very distant in its nature and appearance from the Sanscrit Birman, and the character is the round Nagari. The Pali, like that of the Sanscrit, and all other ancient characters, represents the letter in relief. The account of the music and poetry of the Birmans we cannot abridge. Dr. Buchanan's geographical inforınation we shall select.

• It appears “ that the Arracan river is not to considerable as what has been supposed, but takes its rise in hills at no great distance to the north.

" That the river coming from Thibet, which is supposed to be that of Arracan, is in fact the Keenduem, or the great western branch of the Ava river. .

“ That what is supposed to be the western branch of the Irrawaddy, is in fact the eastern one, which passes by Ava', and runs to the north, keeping west from the province of Yunan, and leaving between it and that part of China a country subject to the Bire mans,

är That the Loukiang, which is supposed to be the great branch

of the Irrawaddy, has no communication with that river ; but on entering the Birman dominions assumes the name of Thaluayn, or Thanluayn, and falls into the sea at Martaban. ; .'. .." That the river of Pegue, which is supposed to come from China, rises among hills about 100 miles from the sea, and which form the boundary between the Birnian and Pegue kingdoms. . .,

“ That between the Pegue and Martaban rivers there is a lake, from which two rivers proceed : the one runs north to, Old Ava, where it joins the Myoungnya, or Little River of Ava, which conies from mountains on the frontiers of China; the other river ruos fouth from the lake to the sea, and is the Sitang river in the inap.

" That the rivers of China, which are supposed to be the heads of the Pegue river, are those of the river of Siam.

“ That the rivers of Siam and Cambodia communicate by a very considerable branch, called the Annan.” P. 341. . .

The general character of the Birmans displays benevolence and liberality : it was only in his public situation that major Symes could complain of the refined insults, which we have noticed. He visited the king and the princes, his fons, who were governors of different provinces, and in each visit found omiffions, which a people fo punetilious as the Birmans would not have made, except from design. These ceremonies are too tedious for an extract, and with the descriptions of the palace, the kioums (monafteries), the feredaw (chief prielt), can only be perused with satisfaction in the author's own language. The palace and the kiounis are particularly splendid, from the quantity of gold profusely spread over every part. The libraries consist of numerous chests, in which the works are arranged with great regularity, the contents being marked in gold letters on the head of each cheit. Some of these are written on thin sheets of ivory; and there are various works in the ancient Pali, the religious text and language of the shepherd race.

In consequence of major Symes' very calm and temperate remonstrance, he is at last admitted to an audience of the king: for on his former visit the monarch did not appear. His embally had a fortunate termination, and a commercial connection of a very advantageous kind was established. The ac. count of his audience we must not omit. :

« On entering the gate, we perceived the royal saloon of cere. mony in front of us, and the court assembled in all the parade of pomp and decoration. It was an open hall, supported by colonnades of pillars, twenty in length, and only four in depth : we were conducted into it by a flight of steps, and advancing, took our places next the space opposite to the throne, which is always left vacant, as being in full view of his majesty. On our entrance, the basement of the throne, as at the Lotoo, svas alone visible, which we judged to be about five feet high ; folding.doors screened the feat from our view. The throne, called yazapalay, was-richly gilded and carved; on each side a small gallery, inclosed by a gilt balustrade, extended a few feet to the right and left, containing four umbrellas of state; and on two tables, at the foot of the throne, were placed several large vesels of gold, of various forms and for different purposes : immediately over the throne, a splendid piafath role in seven stages above the roofs of the building, crowned by a tee, or uinbrella, from which a spiral rod was elevated above the whole.

"We had been seated a little more than a quarter of an hour, whers the folding.doors that concealed the seat, opened with a loud noise, and discovered his majefty ascending a flight of steps, that led up to the throne from the inner apartment; he advanced but fowly, and feemed not to possess a free use of his limbs, being obliged to fupport himself with his hands on the balustrade. I was informed, however, that this appearance of weakness did not proceed from any bodily infirmity, but from the weight of the regal habiliments in which he was clad; and if what we were told was true, that lie carried on his dress fifteen viss, upwards of fifty pounds avoirdupois of golt, his difficulty of ascent was not surprising. On reaching the top he stood for a minute, as though to take breath, and then fat down on an embroidered cushion, with his legs inverted. His crown was a high conical cap, richly studded with precious stones; his fingers were covered with rings, and in his dress he bore the appearance of a man, cared in golden armour, whilst a gilded, or probably a golden, wing on each fhoulder, did not add much lightness to his figure. His looks denoted him to be between fifty and sixty years old, of a strong make, in stature rather beneath a middle height, with hard features, and of a dark complexion; yet the exprefsion of his countenance was not unpleasing, and seemed, I thought, to indicate an intelligent and inquiring mind, u.

On the first appearance of his majesty, all the courtiers, bent their bodies, and held their hands joined in an attitude of supplication. Nothing farther was required of us than to lean a little forward, and to turn in our legs as much as we could; not any act being so unpolite, or contrary to etiquette, as to present the soles of . the feet towards the face of a dignified person. Four bramins, drelled in white caps and gowns, chanted the usual prayer at the foot of the throne : a nakhaan then advanced into ihe vacant space before the king, and recited, in a musical cadence, the name of each person who was to be introduced on that day, and the present of which, in the character of a suppliant, he entreated his majesty's acceptance. My offering consisted of two pieces of Benares gold brocade; doctor Buchanan and Mr. Wood each presented one, When our names were mentioned, we were separately desired 10 "Take a few grains of rice in our hands, and, joining them, to bow to the king as low as we conveniently could, with which we im.

mediately complied. When this ceremony was finished, the king vitered a few indistinct words, to convey, as I was informed, an order for investing some persons present with the insignia of a cer-, tain degree of nobility: the imperial mandate was instantly proclaimed aloud by heralds in the court. His majelty remained only a few minutes longer, and during that time he looked at us attentively, but did not honour us with any verbal notice, or speak at all, except to give the order before mentioned. When he rose to depart, he manifested the same signs of infirmity as on his entrance; after he had withdrau'n, the folding doors were closed, and the court broke up.' *P. 412. .

The embassador returned down the Irrawaddy, laden with presents, equally in confequence of Birman kindness and Birman pride, which would accept of nothing without beftowing an equivalent. Among the presents were lome Birman horfes, which are represented as small, but beautiful, and, with their affistance, he could occasionally extend his limited sphere of obfervation. He saw the country fertile; the people industrious, and apparently happy. Numerous temples occurred in their way, in one of which was a colossal representation of their deity, being twenty-four feet from its head to the pedestał on which it fat, with proportional bulk. This was said to be made of a single block of 'marble, an assertion which the minutest observation could not disprove, though the difficulty of moving such an inimense mass 'must excite astonishment. The temple was evidently built over the statue. It was remarkable, that the images of the deity, brought from Arra. can, were constantly made of brāfs."; ,

The wells of Petroleum, which our travellers observed in their journey, are a singular curiosity, but the description is not very important. The country around was Alinty and barren ; tlie oil was conveyed in earthen jars, which were often broken, from the shocks received in a very uneven road. Two or three hundred pots of oil cost on the spot about half a crown. The depth of the wells was thirty-seven fathom, and it was reckoned a tolerably productive depth when the oil reached to a man's waist. · We suspect, in this estimation, a proportion of water must be included. The description of the Kayn, or mountaineers, inhabitants of the mountains on the east of Arracan, is very singular. The faces of the women only are tattooed in concentric circles. Their manners are fimple, and their minds uninformed: they believe in the trans, migration of souls, and have no idea of either future rewards or punishments.

Major Symes' reflections on the importance of establishing a friendly connection with the Birman empire, and of the nagure of the commerce which it will be expedient to carry ong are liberal and enlightened. Timber is the most indispensable article, but he thinks it highly inexpedient to encourage shipbuilding in these eastern harbours. In this last respect we cannot fully acquiesce in his conclufion, but muit acknowledge our inability to judge of his arguments with precision. The numerous harbours of this empire must be of the highest inportance to our East Indian marine. The Birmans are very fond of chess ; but their game differs, in some respects, from ours, as in all the oriental practice they have no piece whose movements are fo uncontrolled as those of our queen. The queen, in the eastern game, is the visier. ama

Of the 'rarer plants collected by Dr. Buchanan, fir foseph Banks has selected the following, of wbich plates, with a defcription, are annexed, viz. thalia cannæformis; gardenia. cosonaria ; pontederia dilatata ; ,bauhinia diphylla ; sonneratia apetala ; epidendrum moschatum ; agyneia coccinea ; and heritiera fomes. The first only seeins to have been known to the European botanists. The Appendix contains major Symes' letters, with the Birman monarch's proclamation, &c. in moro than the diffuse style of eastern exaggeration and ansplitcation, En , ii

. The plates of the work are numerous, and the objects well cholen, - They are said to be very faithful and accurate repre. fentations, often personal likenelles, and are executed with great neatness and precision. The mode of catching the wild elephants, froin a drawing sent by the king; the view of the jinperial court, with the ceremony of introduction; the reprefentations of the kiouin, and the golden boat, are the most Splendid; though those of the different races and characters, in their appropriate dresses, were to us most interesting. After the long account we have given of this work, we ljeed not fay that it has highly pleased and interested us; nor will our readers probably think a detail so curious and instructive un. necessarily protracted. On the contrary, it inay lead them to extend their gratification farther, by a perusal of the whole. ,

Medicina Nautica : An Esay on the Diseases of Seamen. With

an Appendix, containing Communications on the new Doftrine of Contagion and Yellow Fever, by American Physicians ; transmitted to the Admiralty by Sir John Temple, Bart, his Majesty's. Consul-General. By Thomas Trotter, M. D. Physician to his Majesty's Fleet. Vol. II. 8vo. 75. Boards, Longman and Rees. 1799. i W E spoke with approbation of the first volume of this work, in our XXII Vol. N. A. P. 386, and can cheerfully add

« ZurückWeiter »