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supreme board, unless a proper representation was made, either by the individuals that were aggrieved, or by the government of their country. This, however, was a condescension, to which the mighty emperor of the Birmans, who conceives himself superior to every potentate on earth, would never stoop. To ask redress was beneath his dignity; he proceeded by a more summary course to do himself justice. On its being ascertained that three distinguished leaders of the robbers had sought refuge in the British districts, his Birman majesty, without communicating his intention, or in any form demanding the fugitives, thought fit to order a body of 5,000 men, under an officer of rank, to enter the company's territories, with positive injunctions to the commander not to return, unless he brought with him the delinquents, dead or alive; further, to support this detachment, an army of 20,000 men were held in readiness at Arracan.
So unexpected an aggression, offered without any previous remonstrance, or the assignment of any plea, left no room for discussing the merits of the case. The Birmans having taken upon themselves to redress their own grievances, it became necessary to convince them that they had mistaken the mode; and what they might readily procure from English justice, they could never extort through fear to accomplish this purpose, a strong detachment was formed by the presidency, the conduct of which was intrusted to major-general Erskine ; the troops proceeded from Calcutta to Chittagong, a battalion of Europeans and artillery by water, and the native seapoys by land.
Seree Nunda Kiozo, the Birman chief, to whom the arduous task of reclaiming the fugitives was assigned, acted with more circumspection and prudence, than the government from which he had received his instructions. After his army had crossed the river, and encamped on the westeru bank, he dictated a letter to the British judge and magistrate of Chittagong, acquainting him of the reasons for the inroad; that the caption of the delinquents was his sole object, without harbouring any design of hostilities against the English. At the same time he declared, in a style of peremptory demand, VOL. IV.(61)
that until they were given up, he would not depart from the company's territories: in confirmation of this menace, he fortified his camp in the Birman manner, with a stockade, and seemed determined to resist any attempt to oblige him to retire. These matters being reported to government, the governor-general was pleased to order the magistrate of Chittagong to apprehend the refugees, and keep them in safe custody until further directions.
On the approach of general Erskine, Seree Nunda Kiozo sent a flag of truce, to propose terms of accommodation, stipulating for the surrender of the fugitives, as the basis of the agreement. The general replied, that no proposals could be listened to whilst the Birmans continued on English ground; but as soon as they should withdraw from their fortified camp, and retire within their own frontiers, he would enter upon the subject of their complaints; notifying also, that unless they evacuated the company's possessions in a limited time, force would be used to compel them. The Birman chief, in a manly confidence of the English character, personally waited on general Erskine, and disclosed to him the nature of his instructions, the enormity of the offences, and the outrages they had committed. General Erskine, whose moderation and judgment on this occasion cannot be too highly commended, assured him, that it was far from the intention of the British government to screen the delinquents, or sanction in their country an asylum for robbers; but as the manner in which the Birman troops had entered the company's district, was so repugnant to the principles that ought to regulate the conduct of civilized nations, it was impossible for him to recede from his first determination. He gave hopes, notwithstanding, that if the Birmans peaceably retired, the governor-general would institute a regular inquiry into the charges preferred against the prisoners: adding, that instant compliance with the conditions prescribed, was the only ground on which they could expect so great an indulgence. The Birman general, either contented with this intimation, or convinced that opposition would be fruitless, professed his reliance on general Erskine, and agreed to withdraw his troops: the retreat was
conducted in the most orderly manner; and so strict was the subordination observed in the Birman army, that not one act of violence was committed either on the person or property of British subjects, during the time their troops continued within the company's districts. General Erskine was afterwards empowered, by the governor-general, to investigate the charges against the refugees, when, after a formal and deliberate hearing, their guilt being established on the clearest evidence, they were delivered over to their own laws, by whose sentence, two out of the three underwent capital punishment.
The amicable termination of this difference, afforded a favourable opportunity to acquire a more accurate knowledge than had hitherto been obtained, of a people, whose situation, extent of territory, and commercial connexion with British India, rendered a liberal intercourse with them highly desirable. The trade between Calcutta, Madras, and Rangoon, had of late years so rapidly increased, as to become an object of national importance, more particularly on account of teak timber, the produce of Ava and Pegu, whence Calcutta and Madras drew all their supplies of wood for ship building, and for various other purposes. A commerce in one article so essential to us, and, on a general scale, so extensive as to require an annual return of Indian commodities to the amount of 200,000l. sterling, was an object well worth cultivating. Representations had, at different times, been made to the supreme board by private merchants and mariners, complaining of injustice and oppression at the port of Rangoon; the recent inroad of the Birmans, which originated partly in pride, and partly in ignorance, would probably not have occurred, had there existed an authorized channel of intercourse between the respective governments. To prevent the recurrence of a like misunderstanding; to form a commercial connexion on equitable and fixed principles, and to establish a confidential and authentic correspondence, such as ought to subsist between two great and contiguous nations; sir John Shore (afterwards created lord Teignmouth) thought proper to send a formal deputation to the Birman court. MICHAEL SYMES, esq., major in his majesty's 76th regiment of foot, was selected for this service;
and the following brief sketch will evince, that a better selection could scarcely have been made.
Having received my commissions,' says he, from the governor-general, one appointing me agent-plenipotentiary, with powers to treat, in the name of the supreme government of India, with the emperor of Ava; the other, vesting in me authority to take cognizance of the conduct of British subjects, trading to, or residing in, the countries I was destined to visit; on the 21st of February, 1795, I embarked at Calcutta, on board the Sea-horse, an armed cruizer belonging to the East India company, captain Thomas, commander, attended by Mr. Wood, assistant and secretary, and Dr. Buchanan, surgeon to the mission. A havildar (native serjeant), naick (native corporal), and 14 seapoys, selected from a battalion at the military station of Barracpore, formed an attendant guard; these, with an Hindoo pundit (professor of Hindoo learning), for whose company I was indebted to the goodness of sir Robert Chambers, a monshee (a mussulman professor of language), and inferior servants of various descriptions, increased our numbers to more than 70 persons.'
On the 5th of March, major Symes landed at Port Cornwallis, a new settlement, established by the company for the reception of convicts, on the Andaman islands. All that voyagers,' says our author, have related of uncivilized life, seems to fall short of the barbarism of the people of this island. The ferocious natives of New Zealand, or the shivering half-animated savages of Terra del Fuego, are in a relative state of refinement, compared to these islanders. population of the Great Andaman, and all its dependencies, does not, according to captain Stokoe, exceed 2,000 or 2,500 souls; these are dispersed in small societies along the coasts, or on the lesser islands within the harbour, never penetrating deeper than the skirts of the forests, which hold out little inducement for them to enter, as they contain no animals to supply them with food. Their sole occupation seems to be that of climbing rocks, or roving along the margin of the sea in quest of a precarious meal of fish, which during the tempestuous season they often seek for in vain.
The Andamaners are not more favoured in the conformation of their bodies, than in the endowments of their mind. stature, they seldom exceed five feet; their limbs are disproportionably slender, their bellies protuberant, with high shoulders and large heads; and, strange to find in this part of the world, they are a degenerate race of negroes with woolly hair, flat noses, and thick lips; their eyes are small and red, their skin of a deep sooty black, whilst their countenances exhibit the extreme of wretchedness: a horrid mixture of famine and ferocity. They go quite naked, and are insensible of any shame from exposure.
Having passed five days in this wild sequestered abode, where the novelty of the scene, and friendly attention of our entertainers, captains Ramsay and Stokoe, would have rendered a longer stay agreeable, we prepared to depart. The Hindoos, whose religion forbid them to drink water drawn by impure hands, had filled their own casks; and the stock of our numerous company was replenished. On the 10th we re-embarked, and stood to sea: next morning at daylight made the island of Narcondam, about 20 leagues east of the Andamans; a barren rock, rising abruptly out of the ocean, uninhabited, and seemingly destitute of vegetation. wind foul, we were obliged to tack; and on the following day we had advanced so little to the northward, that Narcondam was still in sight. About noon, we discovered two ships and a schooner, standing to the south-east: they hoisted English colours, and we kept our course. On the 13th the wind veered to the southward, and became fair: on the 16th we found ourselves, by a meridian observation, nearly in the latitude of the roads of Rangoon, but by our reckoning and time-piece too far to the eastward: after steering west some hours, we anchored for the night in five fathoms, and plainly perceived lights on the beach. Next morning we discovered low land, about six miles to the north-west. Here we remained till the 18th, waiting for a pilot, standing off and on with short tacks in the daytime, and at anchor during the night. Finding that our signals, by firing guns and hoisting colours in the usual manner, were not answered, Mr. Palmer, the