PIRACY OFF BORNEO IN THE 1840s

LOOKING FOR PIRATES OFF OF BORNEO IN THE 1840s

Henry Keppel wrote in “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy”: I had long felt a desire to explore the Island of Borneo, which the few travellers who have called there describe as not only one of the largest and most fertile in the world, but one of the most productive in gold and diamonds, and other rich minerals and ores; one from which the finest camphor known is brought into merchandise, and which is undoubtedly capable of supplying every kind of valuable spice, and articles of universal traffic and consumption. Yet, with all these capabilities and inducements to tempt the energetic spirit of trade, the internal condition of the country, and the dangers which beset its coasts, have hitherto prevented the interior from being explored by Europeans; and to prove how little we are acquainted even with its shores, I actually sailed by the best Admiralty chart eighty miles inland, and over the tops of mountains!” [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

“May 4tth 9 1843. — Passed through the Tambelans, a beautiful group of between 100 and 150 small islands. They are very extensive, and but thinly inhabited. There is good anchorage near some of them; but we had nothing less than twenty fathoms. They are placed so close together that, after passing the first, we were to all appearance completely land-locked in a magnificent and capacious harbour. The following morning we an-chored off the mouth of the Sambas river, and sent the boats away to examine the creeks, islands, and rivers along the coast for traces of pirates — which were discovered by the remains of their fires on different parts, although no clue could be obtained as to the direction in which they had gone.*-*

“On the morning of the 8th I again sent the pinnace and two cutters, Mr. Partridge, Messrs. D'Aeth and Jenkins, with a week's provisions, the whole under the command of Lieutenant Wilmot Horton, Mr. Brooke kindly offering his assistance, which, from his knowledge of the Malay language, as well as of the kind of vessels used by the pirates, was thankfully accepted. I directed them to proceed to the island of Marundum, and, after visiting the South Natunas, to rejoin the Dido at Sarawak. In the mean time I proceeded leisurely along the coast, anchoring where convenient, and finding regular soundings all the way in from four to ten fathoms — weather remarkably fine, and water smooth. On the morning of the 9th, on rounding Tanjong Datu, we opened suddenly on a suspicious-looking boat, which, on making us out, ran for a small deep bay formed by Gape Datu and the next point to the eastward. Standing a little farther on, we discovered a second large boat in the offing, which likewise stood in shore; and afterwards a third at the bottom of the bay. From the description I had received, I easily made these out to be Illanuns, an enterprising tribe of pirates, of whose daring adventures I had heard much. They inhabit a small cluster of islands off the northeast coast of Borneo, and go out in large fleets every year to look for prahus bound to Singapore or the Straits; and, after capturing the vessels, re duce their crews to slavery. It is of a cruel nature.*-*

Mr. Brooke observes: "Nor is the slavery of that mild description which is often attributed to the Asiatics; for these victims are bound for months, and crowded in the bottom of the pirate-vessels, where they suffer all the miseries which could be inflicted on board an African slaver." Having fairly pinned these worthies into a corner, and knowing that the only two small boats I had left on board would stand no chance with them in pulling, to make sure of my prizes I loaded the two foremost guns on each side, and, having no proper chart of the coast, proceeded under easy sail, feeling my way into the bay with the lead. When just within musket-range, I let go the anchor, which was no sooner done than the three boats commenced making a move. I thought at first they were coming alongside to sue for pardon and peace: and my astonishment was great when I discovered that nothing was farther from their intention. One pulled away, close in shore, to the eastward, and the other two to the westward. They were rowed by about forty oars each, and appeared from their swiftness to be flying, and that too from under my very nose; and what rendered it still more ridiculous and disagreeable, owing to a strong ebb-tide, the ship remained exactly in a position that no gun could be brought to bear on either side. The dingy and jolly-boat gave chase; but the pirates had the start, and it was useless; for although a few men were seen to drop from their oars in consequence of our fire of musketry from the forecastle, still their pace never slackened; and when they did come within the bearing of our guns, which they were obliged to do for a minute or two while rounding the points that formed the bay, though our thirty-two pound shot fell thickly about their heads, frequently dashing the spray all over them, not a man flinched from his oar.*-*

“ We could not help admiring their plan of escape, and the gallant manner in which it was effected. I saw that it would be quite unavailing to attempt to catch the boats that had pulled to windward; but we lost no time in slipping our cable and making all sail in chase of the one that had gone to leeward. But the " artful dodger" was still too fast for us; we lost sight of him at dusk close off the mouth of a river, up which, however, I do not think he went; for our two boats were there very shortly after him; and although they searched all night and next morning, they could discover no traces of the fugitive. Besides, these pirates have no friends among the inhabitants of the province of Sarawak who would have screened them from us; on the contrary, they would have put them to death if once in their power. I certainly never made so sure of any thing in my life as of capturing the three prahus after I had seen them safe into the bottom of the little bay at Tanjong Datu: but " there is many a slip between the cup and the lip." We returned the following day to pick up the anchor and cable, and observed that it was a place well adapted as a rendezvous for pirates. The bay is studded with rocks; and to my horror, I found that I had run her Majesty's ship Dido inside two that were a-wash at low water ! A mountain-stream of most delicious water runs into the bay between two rocks, and the coast abounds with oysters.*-*

See Malaysia History of Borneo and Brookes

Capture of a Pirate Off Borneo

James Brooke wrote in his journal in “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy”: " August 8th. — Off Ujong Sapo, at the entrance of Borneo river. The time since I last added to my most desultory journal is easily accounted for. I have been at Singapore and Malacca, and am now anchored off Borneo Proper, with seven vessels, and an eighth is hourly expected. It is difficult with such a force to be moderate; and with Sir Thomas Gochrane's other duties and engagements, it is probably impossible to devote any length of time on this coast; yet moderation and time are the key-stones of our policy. I have settled all the ceremonial for a meeting between the Sultan and the Admiral. [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

“The Pangeran Budrudeen came on board H.M.S. Agincourt, with every circumstance of state and ceremony, and met the Admiral, I acting as interpreter. , It was pleasing to witness his demeanour and bearing, which proved that in minds of a certain quality the power of command, though over savages, gives ease and freedom. The ship, the band, the marines, the guns, all excited Budrudeen's attention. On the 9th it is arranged that the Admiral shall meet the Sultan and the Rajah.*-*

"9th In the course bf the day, after the audience had terminated, the Admiral made his demand of reparation on the Sultan and Muda Hassim for the detention and confinement of two British subjects subsequent to their agreement with the British government. Of course the Sultan and the Rajah replied that they were not in fault, that the act was Pangeran Usop's, and that he was too powerful for them to control by force. If Sir Thomas Cochrane would punish him, they should he much obliged, as they desired to keep the treaty inviolate.*-*

“10th. — Pangeran Usop had to be summoned; come he would not; and yet I was in hopes that when he saw the overwhelming force opposed to him, his pride would yield to necessity. About 2 p.m. the steamers took up their positions; the marines were landed, every thing was prepared — yet no symptom of obedience. At length a single shot was fired from the Vixen by the Admiral's order through the roof of Usop's house, which was instantly returned; thus proving the folly and the temper of the man. In a few minutes his house was tenantless, having been overwhelmed with shot. Usop was a fugitive; the amount of mischief done inconsiderable, and no damage except to the guilty party. Twenty captured guns the Admiral presented to the Sultan and the Rajah; two he kept, from which to remunerate the two detained men. So far nothing could be more satisfactory. Usop has been punished severely, the treaty strictly enforced, and our supremacy maintained. No evil has been done except to the guilty; his house and his property alone have suffered; and the immediate flight has prevented the shedding of blood.*-*

Mission Against Pirates in Borneo in 1846

According to an additional chapter in in “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy”: On the 4th of July, the Admiral, accompanied by Mr. Brooke, arrived off Mooarro island, at the entrance of the Bruni River, where they learned several particulars respecting the recent murders, and found that rumour, instead of exaggerating the reality, had fallen far short of it. The Bajah Muda Hassim, one of his sons, Pkngeran Budrudeen, seven brothers, one sister, other relations, and about a similar number of other persons, had perished simultaneously. Two of the remaining princes were subsequently put to death upon its being discovered that Si Japper had fled to Mr, Brooke with information of what had occurred; and of the whole family there remained in existence only two brothers, and the son and heir of the Rajah. These three owed their safety to the protection of the most powerful remaining Pangeran, named Mumim, who, although son-in-law of the Sultan, disapproved of the deed, but confined his interference to the protection of those parties. [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

“In one of his despatches to the Admiralty, Sir Thomas Cochrane says: " The cause of this sudden change of conduct on the part of the Sultan (who, their Lordships are already aware, is a very weak as well as illconditioned character) was the fate that had attended Pangeran Usop, whom, their Lordships will remember, I, at the Sultan's request, last year attacked and drove from the city, and who was subsequently taken and put to death by Budrudeen, in consequence of an attack he made upon it after my departure. It would appear that the Sultan's reputed son, a man of worthless character, Pangeran Hassim, had married Usop's daughter; and, partaking of his father-in-law's hostility to the English, and disposition to piracy, as well as deeply resenting his fall, and exercising the very great influence he had over the mind of the Sultan, he, in conjunction with a very clever and artful man, named Hadgi Samod, at last brought his Highness to consent to this deed of revenge.*-*

"Our informants further stated, that so soon as this crime had been perpetrated, the Sultan began to place the river and city in a state of defence; and Commander Egerton, of the Hazard, corroborated the statement that a trap had been laid for him to get him to the city, and, as alleged by the informants, with the view of putting him to death. "Under all the foregoing circumstances, and those considerations alluded to in my letter, No. 95, before referred to, there did not appear to me the shadow of a doubt as to my right, with reference to those principles which govern European states under similar circumstances, to proceed with an armed force, and demand an explanation of these hostile deeds."

“When off the island of Chermin, at the mouth of Bruni River, the Admiral received a sort of apologetic letter from the Sultan, offering a vague explanation of the treatment complained of by Commander Egerton, of the Hazard, and requesting in general terms that "his friend should not believe any thing Si Japper might have stated." The letter contained no more explicit allusion to the recent transactions, nor did it prohibit an approach by an armed force, or threaten resistance.*-*

Fighting with Borneo Pirates in 1846

According to an additional chapter in in “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy”: “On the 8th of July the fleet passed the bar and ascended the river, the Phlegethon leading the way, and sounding. On approaching Pulo Bangore, five forts opened to view, admirably placed for denying a passage beyond them. A gun was fired from one of the forts, and the largest of them hoisted a flag, which Mr. Brooke recognised as that of his murdered friend, Muda Hassim. For a while some doubt was felt on board the flag-ship as to whether this was not intended as an intimation that the English should be received as friends. But they were not long left in suspense upon the subject, as the moment the Fhlegethon had passed the narrows, the battery commenced a spirited fire, which was promptly returned. The five forts were stormed, the guns destroyed, and the magazine blown up. [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

“Higher up the river there was a heavy battery, afleur (Feau, consisting of eight brass and two iron guns, from 68 to 9 pounders, supported by five other heavy works on hills not far in the rear. The main battery pointed directly down to a bend of the river, from which it was distant about 800 yards, and round which the fleet had to turn. As soon as the ships appeared in sight, all these batteries commenced a sharp and extremely well-directed fire upon them, seconded by a play of musketry from the woods on the right, to which the Spiteful, the flag-ship, was obliged to submit without retaliation. Her position was for a while very critical, with the beach but a few yards beyond her paddle-boxes, the Royalist in tow, and the boats filled with the whole of the landing force. The utmost silence and attention were required to prevent the whole being thrown on shore. But the Phlegethon soon put an end to the crisis. The fire from her ship -guns, from the battery of field -pieces placed round her bows, and from the brigade of rockets planted upon her bridge, together with the now rapid progress of the whole force directly up the river, so astonished and dismayed the enemy that they fled before the steamers could reach their works, or the storming party carry out the service intended for it. The marines under Captain Hawkins immediately took possession of the heights that command the town. These operations were not accomplished without loss; two men having been killed, and seven wounded.*-*

“The city was found entirely deserted by the inhabitants, and the Sultan had fled into the interior. A force of nearly 500 men, under Capt. Mundy, was sent in pursuit of him on the 10th. Mr. Brooke accompanied the expedition, which was directed against Damuan, a village SO miles from Bruni, where the Sultan was supposed to have determined on making a stand. On their way they arrived at the village of Kabran, where they found a large house deserted by its owners, but full of valuable property secured in massive chests; also arms, ammunition, &c. both for great guns and small arms, and several tin cases of fine English powder, all of which belonged to Hadgi Hassim. The magazines, ammunition, and property were destroyed, and six Spanish brass guns of considerable size and great beauty, which we found on an adjacent eminence, were carried off.*-*

“After two ineffectual attempts to continue its march to Damuan, under heavy rain and through a deeply flooded country, the expedition returned to Bruni; whence it started again to take a new route on the morning of the 13th. This time it succeeded in reaching Damuan; but too late to capture the Sultan, who had already fled further inland. The destruction of some household furniture belonging to the Sultan, magazines of powder, ammunition for guns of different calibre, and a considerable quantity of cartridges, admirably made, for musketry, was all that could be effected.*-*

“At Bruni the Admiral managed, through Tapper, to open a communication with those of the dispersed inhabitants who were friendly to the British; and on the day following the occupation of the city, he was visited by Pangerans Mumim, Buher, and Muda Mohammed. As the Sultan had fled, and they were, in fact, without a government, the Admiral " invited them to come to some determination as to the course they would pursue for the well-being of their country;" but they appeared to be entirely paralysed. " Pangeran Mumim," the Admiral observes " although condemning the Sultan's proceedings, and himself very respectable in character, yet was most timid, and seemed to have an aversion to setting the Sultan aside; and the others, although very violent against him, had neither talent nor weight to undertake the formation of a new government."

Appreciation of the English After the Fight with Borneo Pirates in 1846

According to an additional chapter in in “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy”: " Mr. Brooke landed on the following day, and at Mumim's house had a meeting on an enlarged scale, and stated to it my readiness to assist them in any measure that would have the effect of putting an end to the existing anarchy, or that might give permanent security to life and property. But on this and subsequent occasions he found the same timidity and irresolution to prevail as at their conference with me. In point of fact, the massacre had been of that sweeping character, as to cut off every man of weight or intelligence, and leave the survivors in an irrecoverable state of helplessness and dismay. [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

“In the mean time, the common people had recovered from their panic, and commenced returning to the town; and by the fourth or fifth day nearly every house was inhabited, and the same busy scene presented itself as on ordinary occasions, the boats flocking round the ships to sell or exchange their produce, with as much confidence as in any English port; and I am persuaded nothing would have been more gratifying to them than to have learned from me that I was authorised to establish an Englishman (such a one, for instance, as Mr. Brooke) as their governor and chief, under whom they would have felt confident of the undis turbed enjoyment of the produce of their industry, and of protection from uncertain and despotic exactions."

“Having remained eleven days at the city without any prospect of securing a definite and satisfactory arrangement, the Admiral, with Mr. Brooke's concurrence, addressed a proclamation to the chief person actually in the place, to be given to the Sultan on his return, detailing the whole of the proceedings between him and the British authorities during the past twelve months; pointing out the unprincipled conduct of the Sultan; shewing how entirely he and his subjects were at the Admiral's mercy, and threatening him with the most vigorous retaliation should he ever again evince hostility towards Great Britain. The document was read to the assembled authorities, merchants, &c, who seemed perfectly pleased with its contents, and no less so with the intimation that a ship of war was to be left with them until Mr. Brooke's return. The meeting having broken up, the Admiral sailed northward, taking Mr. Brooke with him.*-*

Mission Against Pirates in Northern Borneo in 1846

According to an additional chapter in in “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy”: The Admiral's next visit was to the Ulanun pirates, on whom he inflicted severe punishment, including the destruction of their strongholds on the rivers Tampassok and Fandassar. He then left Capt. Mundy of the Iris to finish the work so well begun, by settling accounts with some of the pirates who had not yet been made to feel our force; and who, under the directions of Hadgi Samod, the Sultan's general, were still carrying on hostilities against the native tribes that were friendly to the English. Nothing could exceed the glee with which our sailors engaged in this service. [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

“A very animated description of the operations is given by Capt. Mundy in a letter dated August 28, 1846, from which the following is an extract: " On the 7th instant, I parted company with the Commander-in-Chief; and no sooner was the squadron out of sight than I sent Lieut. Little away with my boats and five days' provisions, with orders to cruise that time along the coast and join me 100 miles to the southward. The Admiral's orders to me were to carry on the war against the Illanun rascals by sea and land, according to my discretion, and to look after the Sultan's first chieftain, Hadgi Samod, who had been the principal adviser of the Sultan in the hostile measures against us; and who, it was now reported, had sought refuge somewhere amongst the piratical tribes.*-*

“On the 12th I anchored at Amhong, and Lieut. Little joined me. He had captured and destroyed one piratical prahu, and had burnt a large Illanun village, after sustaining an attack from a large body of pirates, who threw spears from the banks at the boats, but were eventually driven off with the loss of several killed and wounded. No one was injured on our side, though the spears stuck into the sides of our boats — these fellows rushing down within ten yards of the pinnace, hurling their darts, and holding up their large wooden shields to protect them from musketry.*-*

“On the 14th we anchored off Kimanis, where Mr. Brooke received information that Hadgi Samod had fortified himself in the Mambacoot river, distant only six miles; and that nine gun-boats, which had been sent from Borneo to attack him, had found his position too strong, and had therefore decided to remain off Kimanis till the arrival of the frigate. I gave directions therefore to Mr. Little to be ready with all the boats of the Iris at daylight the. following morning, assisted by the Phlegethon cutters, and to proceed to attack this noted chief wherever he might be found. Mr. Brooke and I commenced business by sending a messenger to the Dyak chief, desiring him to give up Hadgi Samod, and enter into friendly communication with us. The return message was an insolent bit of bravado, desiring us to come and take him, and that they were not afraid of our shot, which they would catch in their hands and throw back at our boats.*-*

“Neither Mr. Brooke nor myself had intended to take any active part in the expedition; but the unlooked-for, and, I may add, extraordinary circumstance of the sudden arrival of thirty war prahus, carrying twenty guns and about four hundred men, under their chiefs, inhabiting districts for twenty miles round, for the purpose of paying their respects to the English Eajah, and to assure him of their anxiety for legitimate commerce, and their wish to be friends of England, entirely altered the position of affairs. Mr. Brooke, with his accustomed decision, after a lengthened discussion with their chieftains, declared it to be his bfelief that they were honest men, and that it would be very impolitic on our part to refuse the offer of their aid, and that he should wish to accompany them. Of course I acquiesced immediately, and it was arranged that we should go together in the gig, thus putting implicit confidence in their faith, whilst Lieutenant Little could always keep his force compactly together, ready to act on the first semblance of treachery.*-*

Fighting Against Pirates in Northern Borneo in 1846

Capt. Mundy wrote in in “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy”: " At five a.m. on the 18th, the boats were in movement. At eight I crossed the bar in a beautiful new gig the Admiral gave me, the principal Pangeran of our new allies shewing the channel. Lieutenant Little's force came next, and about a quarter of a mile in the rear the large fleet of prahus. It was a picturesque scene; boat after boat dashing through the surf with their gaudy flags and long streamers, and then shooting into the unruffled stream beyond, and taking up their assigned positions, which were well under command of my guns and rockets.Our force now commenced pulling up against a strong ebb; and, after three good hours at the oars, the first attempt to oppose our progress appeared in large rafts floating down, and soon afterwards the report of guns in the distance was heard. On pulling swiftly round a point to clear one of the rafts, the gig being then about fifty yards ahead of the main division, we came suddenly upon a long line of thick bamboo stakes fixed across the stream, with an immense boom attached to them, but which, owing to the freshes, had swung athwart. Facing these defences, only eighty yards distant, a fort had been erected, which, as soon as our boats came into view, opened fire. Before the enemy could reload, I fell back upon the gun-boats, and ordered Mr. Little to give way and 'at them.' He was soon followed by the barge and cutter, and the action became general — shot, rockets, and 'musketry; but, owing to the strength of the tide, it was ten minutes before my first lieutenant could get over the short distance; and when he finally captured the fort, he found it had been armed with small swivel-guns only, which the defenders had managed to carry into the jungle. One of our native allies recognised Hadgi Samod and his Bornean subofficers in the battery. [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

"Having demolished the fort and destroyed the magazines, ammunition, &c, we pushed on without losing time; and observing, as we passed a narrow creek, a prahu endeavouring to escape, we dashed at her and captured her; the crew, who escaped, leaving behind their spears, krises, and sumpitans, i. e. quivers of poisoned arrows. The country was' now extremely beautiful. The interior of the houses was extremely neat — mats, threshing and knitting machines, ordinary implements, and other furniture, in capital order; and had it not been for the numerous human skulls suspended from the ceiling in regular festoons, with the thigh and arm bones occupying the intervening spaces, and other ornaments peculiar to the wildest class of Dyaks, I should have fancied myself in a civilised land.*-*

“At three p.m., on coming to a turn of the river, a magnificent mansion presented itself to our view, the verandah of which gave a frontage of 200 feet by 20 in breadth. It was close to the river, and partially concealed by cocoanut-trees. One of these had been cut down, and of it a kind of abatis was made, from behind which, as our boats advanced, a masked battery was opened. These guns were quickly silenced, and I was not long in jumping on terra Jirma, rifle in hand. The enemy were driven into the interior, carrying off their killed and wounded. The house was soon in flames; and amongst the internal decorations consumed were fifty human skulls, and as many packages of human bones — many of them evidently the. latest gifts of the Dyak gentlemen to their lady-loves; for you must know that no aristocratic youth dare venture to pay his addresses to the fair one unless he throws at the blushing maidens feet a net full of skulls at the same time that he offers his hand and heart.*-*

"At four p.m. we bivouacked for the night; and early in the morning of the 17th a deserter from Hadgi Samod swam across the river to our camp, and informed us that his chief had retreated in despair to the houses at the head of the river. At early dawn, therefore, we were on his track, and in half an hour a cheer from the headmost boats signalised that the last refuge of the enemy was in sight. A few strokes more and our guns and rockets were in play; and after a vain endeavour of the resolute chief by musketry and sumpets to oppose our steady advance, he was compelled to abandon his fortress and retreat into the wilderness. Having burnt all the buildings of those inhabitants who had taken an active part against us, we returned down the river, and were on board the ship by sunset. Our loss was one seaman of the Iris killed, and four wounded; two of the Phlegethon's, and eight of our native allies wounded.*-*

“The native chiefs rendezvoused at the Phlegethon, where we entertained them till a late hour, each of them swearing to protect the persons and property of all shipwrecked or distressed Europeans who might be driven upon their iron-bound coast; and I really hope we have made a commencement in the good work of rendering these seas secure for the peaceful trader. The wonderful effect of our Congreve rockets gave them an idea of our power; whilst our uniform kindness to all the unpiratical tribes plainly bespoke our anxiety to be friendly with the good."

“After the termination of the proceedings against the Illanuns, Mr. Brooke returned to Bruni to complete the task of re-establishing order there, which the Admiral had confided to his experienced judgment. Then, having made a short stay in the city, he returned to Sarawak, taking with him the remains of Muda Hassim's family, among the rest his young son, the heir presumptive to the throne of Borneo. Let us hope that the boy, thus early removed from contaminating associations, and trained up under so kind and judicious a guardian, will one day prove a compensation to his country for the disastrous loss it sustained in the premature death of his brave, upright, intelligent, and docile uncle, Budrudeen.*-*

“In his dealings towards the humbled and fugitive Sultan, Mr. Brooke appears to have acted in all respects as became his own high character and his station as a servant of the British crown. Had he chosen, as Rajah of Sarawak, to pursue his righteous quarrel to the uttermost against his delinquent feudal chief, he might easily have found specious arguments to justify such a course, and precedents in abundance as well in European as in Asiatic history. But he was not the man to sacrifice a great opportunity of doing good to the satisfaction of a merely personal vengeance. It was his duty, as British Agent, above all things to uphold the fair fame of his country for equity and moderation; and from that duty, he never swerved either in this or in any other instance. The Sultan was no longer dangerous; his teeth had been drawn; the mass of his people both feared and respected the English; and the presence of our ships on the coast would effectually prevent any outbreak of a hostile spirit. Meanwhile, Bruni was without a government, or the means of constructing one; so that it was evidently both safe and expedient to permit Omar to return to his capital, in order that the administrative routine might resume its ordinary course under the sanction and prestige of his name. With the consent, therefore, of our Agent, the Sultan re-entered Bruni within a month after his flight from it; and he wrote Mr. Brooke a very humble letter, entreating forgiveness of the past, and making strong promises of future good beha viour. He also addressed a penitent letter to her Majesty, Queen Victoria, in which he renewed and ratified his two former engagements.*-*

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Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

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