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second officer, was sent in the pinnace, with instructions to proceed up the river as far as Rangoon, in case he did not find a pilot sooner. On the ensuing day, the wind being moderate and fair, captain Thomas ventured to stand in; and steering by land-marks, and sending a boat a-head, crossed the bar without a pilot, at half flood, in four fathoms. At 12 o'clock we entered the Rangoon river; the land on each side appeared low and swampy, and the banks skirted with high reeds and brushwood. Four miles within the extremes we came abreast of a small village, whence a boat rowed towards us: it proved to be a watch boat, stationed at the mouth of the river, to send intelligence of the arrival of vessels to the nearest guard, whence it is forwarded to the governor of Rangoon. The Birman officer that came on board was a mean looking man, dressed in a shabby cotton jacket, and a piece of faded silk, which, after twice encircling his waist, was passed loosely between his legs and fastened behind, covering the thighs about half way to the knees. This personage, in his own opinion of no insignificant consequence, sat down on a chair without the smallest ceremony, and called in an authoritative tone for his implements of writing, which were produced by one of three attendants that accompanied him. These, when their master was seated, squatted upon their heels on the deck before his chair, attentive only to his commands, in an attitude and manner very much resembling baboons, although they were well proportioned men. The officer inquired, in broken Portuguese, the name of the ship, whence she came, what arms and ammunition were on board, and the name of the commander: being satisfied in these points, he carefully committed them to writing. Hearing that we were not provided with a pilot, he desired the captain to come to an anchor till one could be procured; as, in case of any accident happening, he would be held responsible for permitting us to proceed. Just then, Mr. Palmer in the ship's boat made his appearance. He had been to Rangoon, and brought down a pilot with him: our cautious visitor offered no farther objections, but took his leave with as little ceremony as he had entered.
'About two o'clock a small boat from Rangoon met the ship: a man in it hailed our pilot, in the language of Hindostan, and desired him to cast anchor, as it was the intention of the governor of Rancoon to come down and receive the British deputation in person. We immediately
complied with his desire.
The place where we brought to, is 12 miles below Rangoon. The entrance of the river, and the banks on each side, bore a near resemblance to those of the Ganges; but the navigation is much more commodious. The channel is bold and deep, from 6 to 8 fathoms, uninterrupted by shoals or inequality of soundings. Mr. Wood judged the river at this place to be from three-quarters to a mile in breadth. We continued at anchor till next day, in expectation of the promised visit. About noon the fleet came in sight: it consisted of from 20 to 30 boats; on a nearer approach, only four out of the number seemed to belong to persons of superior condition; these were not unlike, in form, to the drawings of the state canoes of some of the South-sea islands: they were long and narrow, with an elevated stern, ornamented with peacocks' feathers, and the tails of Tibet cows; each boat bore a different flag, and had a long, flexible, painted pole, with a gilded ball at the extremity, protruding horizontally from the stern. Three persons, apparently of higher rank, came on board; they meant to be civil, but were perfectly free from restraint, and took possession of chairs without waiting for any invitation, or paying the smallest regard to those who were not seated; whilst their attendants, seemingly as much at their ease as their masters, formed a semicircle around them on the deck, in like manner as the servants of our former visitor. Being as yet unapprized of the external forms of respect among them, such conduct surprised us a good deal. The chief of the three, a good looking young man, of short stature, I understood to be a man of consideration. He was a governor of the province of Dalla, on the opposite side of the river to Rangoon, which he held on the part of the mother of the queen, whose jaghire, or estate, it is. The second, an elderly plain man, said he was nak-haan-gee;
literally, the royal ear. I was afterwards informed he was transmitter of intelligence, or reporter to the imperial court, an office of much confidence. The third, a seree, an inferior secretary, was a man of little relative importance compared with the other two. We conversed for an hour, through the medium of an interpreter who spoke the language of Hindostan: they were extremely inquisitive, and asked a number of questions concerning the mission, which were answered in friendly but general terms. Having paid their compliments, they arose to depart, and returned to their boats, making lavish professions of friendship; and whilst the ship sailed before a gentle breeze, they rowed with great velocity round her, performing a variety of evolutions, and exhibiting considerable skill in the management of their vessels, which were of unequal dimensions, from 28 to 40 oars: we judged the longest to be between 60 and 70 feet, and from 6 to 8 in breadth: in this manner we proceeded until the town and shipping were in view. The Princess Royal East Indiaman, that had come from Madras for a cargo of timber, fired a salute to the company's colours; and the Sea-horse paid a compliment to the battery on shore, of 11 guns, which were returned by an equal number: the pilot came to, below the town, apart from the other ships about half a mile. As soon as the Sea-horse dropped anchor, all the boats withdrew, without further notice or explanation."
Major Symes was for some time watched with the most vigilant suspicion, and subjected to a restriction little short of imprisonment: but growing impatient, he threatened to return, when it was agreed that the captains of the English ships were to have free access; his attendants liberty to purchase what they wanted, and to go where they pleased; the spies stationed on board the Sea-horse were to be removed; and boats suffered to pass from the ship to the shore without a Birman centinel.
The suspicions of the Birmans had been excited by designing men, who were jealous of the English: but, when a reconciliation took place, the major was urged to embark for Pegu, where the viceroy, resided, as soon as possible. The annual feast at the great temple of Pegu was about to be
celebrated with sumptuous magnificence; and the viceroy had expressed a particular desire that the English gentlemen should witness the rejoicings.
Pegu, calculating all the windings of the river, is about 90 miles from Rangoon. Here the major and his suite were kindly received by Baba-Sheen, a clever, intelligent officer. Scarcely was their baggage arranged in the house appointed for the residence of the embassy, when the maywoon, or viceroy, sent to the major, inviting him to wave ceremony, and to attend on the following morning at the great temple of Shoemadoo, to view the amusements of the first day.
• At eight o'clock in the morning,' says he, Baba-Sheen arrived, in order to conduct us to the temple; he brought with him three small horses, equipped with saddles and bridles, resembling those used by the higher ranks of the inhabitants of Hindostan. After breakfast, Mr. Wood, doctor Buchanan, and myself, mounted, and attended by Baba-Sheen, and an Ackedoo, an officer belonging to the maywoon's household, also on horseback, set out to view the ceremony. We entered the new town by the nearest gate, and proceeded upwards of a quarter of a mile through the principal street till we came to where it was crossed at right angles by another, which led from the may woon's residence to the temple: here our progress was stopped by a great concourse of people, and we perceived on each side of the way, troops marching by single files in slow time, towards the temple. By the advice of Baba-Sheen, we occupied a convenient spot to view the procession. The troops that we saw, were the maywoon's guard; 5 or 600 men passed us in this manner, wretchedly armed and equipped; many had muskets that appeared in a very unserviceable state, with accoutrements not in a more respectable condition; some were provided with spears, others with sabres; whilst their dress was as motley as their weapons. Several were naked to the middle, having only a kummerband, or waistcloth, rolled round their waist, and passed between their legs; some were dressed in old velvet, or cloth coats, which they put on regardless of size or fashion, although it scarce covered their nakedness, or trailed on the ground: it was finery, and finery VOL. IV. C
in any shape was welcome. Some wore Dutch broad brimmed hats, bound with gold lace, others the crown of hats, without any brim at all: the officers of this martial band, who were for the most part Christian descendants of Portugueze ancestors, exhibited a very grotesque appearance. The first personages of rank that passed by were three children of the maywoon, astride upon men's shoulders; the eldest, a boy about eight years of age; the youngest, a girl not more than five; the latter only was legitimate, being the first born of his present wife; the two elder were the offspring of concubines. The maywoon followed at a short distance, mounted on the neck of a very fine elephant, which he guided himself. His dress was handsome and becoming, he had on a dark velvet robe with long sleeves, trimmed with broad gold lace, and on his head he wore a conical cap of the same material, richly embroidered: a number of parade elephants in tawdry housings brought up the rear. As we had not been formally introduced, he passed by, without honouring us with any notice. Proceeding to the foot of the steps that lead to the pagoda, his elephant knelt down to suffer him to alight. Whilst he was in the performance of this act, the parade elephants knelt also, and the crowd that followed squatted on their heels. Having ascended the flight of steps, he put off his shoes, and walked once round the temple without his umbrella, which was laid aside out of reverence to the sanctity of the place. When he had finished this ceremony, he proceeded to the scene of amusement, a sort of theatre erected at an angle of the area of the temple. Town saloons, or open halls, separate from the great building, formed two sides of the theatre, which was about 50 feet square, covered by an awning of grass, spread on a flat roof of slender canes, supported by bamboo poles. Beneath the projecting verge of the roof of one of the saloons, there was an elevated seat, with a handsome canopy of cloth, for the accommodation of the maywoon and his three children; and on a bare bench beneath him sat the principal officers of his court. On the left side of the theatre, a similar canopy and chair were erected for the maywoon of Martaban, who happened at this time to be passing by to take possession