FIGHTING WITH BORNEO PIRATES

JAMES BROOKES ON PIRACY IN MALAYSIA AND BORNEO

On the piracy of the Malayan Archi-pelago James Brooke wrote: "The piracy of the Eastern Archipelago is entirely distinct from piracy in the Western world; for, from the condition of the various governments, the facilities offered by natural situation, and the total absence of all restraint from European nations, the pirate communities have attained an importance on the coasts and islands most removed from foreign settlements. Thence they issue forth and commit depredations on the native trade, enslave the inhabitants at the entrance of rivers, and attack ill-armed or stranded European vessels; and roving from place to place, they find markets for their slaves and plunder. [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

"The old-established Malay governments (such as Borneo and Sooloo), weak and distracted, are, probably without exception, participators in or victims to piracy; and in many cases both — purchasing from one set of pirates, and enslaved and plundered by another; and whilst their dependencies are abandoned, the unprotected trade languishes from the natural dread of the better disposed natives to undertake a coasting voyage. It is needless to dwell upon the evil effects of piracy; but before venturing an opinion on the most effectual means of suppression, I propose briefly to give an account of such pirate communities as I am acquainted with.*-*

"The pirates on the coast of Borneo may be classed into those who make long voyages in large heavy-armed prahus, such as the Dlanuns, Balagnini, &c; and the lighter Dyak fleets, which make short but destructive excursions in swift prahus, and seek to surprise rather than openly to attack their prey. A third, and probably the worst class, are usually half-bred Arab Seriffs, who, possessing themselves of the territory of some Malay state, form a nucleus for piracy, a rendezvous and market for all the roving fleets and although occasionally sending out their own followers, they more frequently seek profit hy making advances, in food, arms, and gunpowder, to all who will agree to repay them at an exorbitant rate in slaves.*-*

"The Dyaks of Sarebus and Sakarran were under the influence of two Arab Seriffs, who employed them on piratical excursions, and shared in equal parts the plunder obtained. I had once the opportunity of counting ninety-eight boats about to start on a cruise; and reckoning the crew of each boat at the moderate average of twenty-five men, it gives a body of 2450 men on a piratical excursion. The" piracies of these Arab Seriffs and their Dyaks were so notorious, that it is needless to detail them here; but one curious feature, which throws a light on the state of society, I cannot forbear mentioning. On all occasions of a Dyak fleet being about to make a piratical excursion, a gong was beat round the town ordering a particular number of Malays to embark; and in case any one failed to obey, he was fined the sum of thirty rupees by the Seriff of the place.*-*

“The blow struck by Captain Keppel, of her Majesty's ship Dido, on these two communities was so decisive as to have put an entire end to their piracies; the leaders, Seriff Sahib and Seriff Muller, have fled; the Malay population has been dispersed and the Dyaks so far humbled as to sue for protection; and in future, by substituting local Malay rulers of good character in lieu of the piratical Seriffs, a check will be placed on the Dyaks, and they may be broken of their piratical habits, in as far as interferes with the trade of the coast.*-*

Mission Against Pirate Strongholds on a River in Borneo

Henry Keppel wrote in “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy”: On the 13th the Dido anchored off Tanjong Poe, outside the bar at the entrance of the river leading to Mr. Brooke's residence and seat of government, at the town of Sarawak, situated about twenty-four miles up. We came-to at the junction river which unites the two principal entrances to the Sarawak. On leaving the Dido, on the morning of the 8th, they proceeded to the island of Marundum, a favourite rendezvous for pirates, where they came on a fleet of the Illanun tribe, who, however, did not give them an opportunity of closing; but cutting their sampans adrift, made a precipitate flight, opening fire as they ran out on the opposite side of a small bay, in which they had been watering and refitting. This, of course, led to a very exciting chase, with a running fire kept up on both sides; but the distance was too great for the range of the guns on either side; and the pirates, who, in addition to sailing well, were propelled by from forty to sixty oars each, made their escape. It was not until nearly hull-down that they (probably out of bravado) ceased to fire their stern-guns. As they went in the direction of the Natunas, our boats steered for those islands, and anchored under the south-end of one of them. At daylight next morning, although in three fathoms water, the pinnace, owing to the great rise and fall of tide, grounded on a coral reef, and Lieutenant Horton and Mr. Brooke proceeded in one of the cutters to reconnoitre. As they neared the southwest point, they were met by six prahus, beating their tom-toms as they advanced, and making every demonstration of fighting. [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

“Lieutenant Horton judiciously turned to rejoin the other boats; and the pinnace having fortunately just then floated, he formed his little squadron into line abreast, cleared for action, and prepared to meet his formidable-looking antagonists. Mr. Brooke, however, whose eye had been accustomed to the cut and rig of all the boats in these seas, discovered that those advancing were not Illanuns, and fancied there must be some mistake. The Natunas people had been trading with Sarawak, and he was intimately acquainted with a rich and powerful chief who resided on the island; he therefore raised a white flag of truce on his spy-glass, and from the bow of the pinnace hailed, waved, and made all the signs he could to warn them of the danger into which they were running; but a discharge of small-arms was the only reply he got. They then detached their three smallest vessels inshore, so as to command a crossfire and cut off the retreat of our boats; and the rest advanced, yelling, beating their tom-toms, and blazing away with all the confidence of victory, their shot cutting through the rigging, and splashing in the water all round. It was an anxious moment for the Dido's little party. Not a word was spoken. The only gun of the pinnace was loaded with grape and canister, and kept pointed on the largest prahu. The men waited with their muskets in hand, for permission to fire; but it was not until within pistol-range that Lieutenant Horton poured into the enemy his well-prepared dose. It instantly brought them to a halt; yet they had the temerity to exchange shots for a few minutes longer, when the largest cried for quarter, and the other five made for the shore, chased hy the two cutters, and keeping up a fire to the last.*-*

“The prize taken possession of hy the pinnace proved to be a prahu mounting three brass guns, with a crew of thirty-six men, belonging to the Rajah of Bhio, and which had been despatched by that chief to collect tribute at and about the Natunas islands. They had on board ten men killed, and eleven (four of them mortally) wounded. They affected the greatest astonishment on discovering that our boats belonged to a British man- of-war, and protested that it was all a mistake; that the island had lately been plundered by the Illanun pirates, for whom they had taken us; that the rising sun was in their eyes, and that they could not make out the colours, &c. Lieutenant Horton thinking that their story might possibly have some foundation in truth, and taking into consideration the severe lesson they had received, directed Dr. Simpson, the assistant-surgeon, to dress their wounds; and after admonishing them to be more circumspect in future, restored them their boat, as well as the others which belonged to the island, two of them being a trifle smaller but of the same armament as the one from Bhio, and the remaining three still smaller, carrying twelve men each, armed with spears and muskets. These badbeen taken possession of by the cutters after they had reached the shore and landed their killed and wounded, who were borne away from the beach so smartly by the natives, that our people had not time to ascertain the number hurt. The surgeon went ashore, and dressed the wounds of several of them; an act of kindness and civilisation far beyond their comprehension. The natives, however, appeared to bear us no malice for the injury we had inflicted on their countrymen, but loaded our boats with fruit, goats, and every thing we required. It afforded some amusement to find that among the slightly wounded was Mr. Brooke's old, wealthy, and respectable friend already alluded to, who was not a little ashamed at being recognised; but piracy is so inherent in a Malay, that few can resist the temptation when a good opportunity for plunder presents itself. The fact, which I afterwards ascertained, was, that they took our boats for some coming from a wreck with whatever valuables they could collect and their not having seen any thing of the ship rather strengthened this conjecture; the excuse they made for continuing the fight after they had discovered their mistake being, that they expected no quarter.*-*

Killing Pirates Off of Borneo

Henry Keppel wrote in “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy”: Mr. Brooke lent a large boat which he had had built by the natives at Sarawak, and called the Jolly Bachelor. Having fitted her with a brass six-pounder long gun, with a volunteer crew, of a mate, two midshipmen, six marines, and twelve seamen, and a fortnight's provisions, I despatched her under the command of the second lieutenant, Mr, Hunt; Mr. Douglas, speaking the Malayan language, likewise volunteered his services. One evening, after they had been about six days absent, while we were at dinner, young Douglas made his appearance, bearing in his arms the captured colours of an Illanun pirate. It appears that the day after they had got outside, they observed three boats a long way in the offing, to which they gave chase; but soon lost sight of them, owing to their superior sailing. They, however, appeared a second and a third time after dark, but without the Jolly Bachelor being able to get near them; and it now being late, and the crew both fatigued and hungry, they pulled in shore, lighted a fire, cooked their provisions, and then hauled the boat out to her grapnel near some rocks for the night; lying down to rest with their arms by their sides, and muskets round the mast ready loaded. Having also placed sentries and look-out men, and appointed an officer of the watch, they one and all (sentries included, I suppose), owing to the fatigues of the day, fell asleep! [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

“At about three o'clock the following morning, the moon being just about to rise, Lieut. Hunt happening to awake, observed a savage brandishing a kris, and performing his war-dance on the bit of deck, in an ecstasy of delight, thinking in all probability of the ease with which he had got possession of a fine trading-boat, and calculating the cargo of slaves he had to sell, but little dreaming of the hornets' nest into which he had fallen. Lieut. Hunt's round face meeting the light of the rising moon, without a turban surmounting it, was the first notice the pirate had of his mistake. He immediately plunged overboard; and before Lieut. Hunt had sufficiently recovered his astonishment to know whether he was dreaming or not, or to rouse his crew up, a discharge from three or four cannon within a few yards, and the cutting through the rigging by the various missiles with which the guns were loaded, soon convinced him there was no mistake. It was as well the men were still lying down when this discharge took place, as not one of them was hurt; but on jumping to their legs, they found themselves closely pressed by two large war-prahus, one on each bow. To return the fire, cut the cable, man the oars, and back astern to gain room, was the work of a minute: but now came the tug of war; it was a case of life and death.*-*

“Our men fought as British sailors ought to do; quarter was not expected on either side; and the quick and deadly aim of the marines prevented the pirates from reloading their guns. The Illanun prahus are built with strong bulwarks or barricades, grape-shot proof, across the fore part of the boat, through which ports are formed for working the guns; these bulwarks had to be cut away by round shot from the Jolly Bachelor before the musketry could bear effectually. This done, the grape and canister told with fearful execution. In the mean time, the prahus had been pressing forward to board, while the Jolly Bachelor backed astern; but as soon as this service was achieved, our men dropped their oars, and seizing their muskets, dashed on: the work was sharp hut short, and the slaughter great. While one pirate-boat was sinking, and an effort made to secure her, the other effected her escape by rounding the point of rocks, where a third and larger prahu, hitherto unseen, came to her assistance, and putting fresh hands on board, and taking her in tow, succeeded in getting off, although chased by the Jolly Bachelor, after setting fire to the crippled prize, which blew up and sunk before the conquerors got back to the scene of action. While there, a man swam off to them from the shore, who proved to be one of the captured slaves, and had made his escape by leaping overboard during the fight.*-*

“The three prahus were the same IUanun pirates we had so suddenly come upon off Cape Datu in the Dido, and they belonged to the same fleet that Lieutenant Horton had chased off the island of Marundum The slave-prisoner had been seized, with a companion, in a small fishing-canoe off Borneo Proper; his companion suffered in the general slaughter. The sight that presented itself on our people boarding the captured boat must indeed have been a frightful one; none of the pirates waited on board for even the chance of receiving either quarter or mercy, but all those capable of moving had thrown themselves into the water. In addition to the killed, some lying across the thwarts with their oars in their hands, at the bottom of the prahu, in which there was about three feet of blood and water, were seen protruding the mangled remains of eighteen or twenty bodies. During my last expedition I fell in with a slave belonging to a Malay chief, one of our allies, who informed us that he likewise had been a prisoner and pulled an oar in one of the two prahus that attacked the Jolly Bachelor and that none of the crew of the captured prahu reached the shore alive, with the exception of the lad that swam off to our people; and that there were so few who survived in the second prahu, that having separated from their consort during the night, the slaves, fifteen in number, rose, and put to death the remaining pirates, and then ran the vessel into the first river they reached, which -proved to be the Kaleka, where they were seized, and became the property of the governing Datu; and my informant was again sold to my companion while on a visit to his friend the Datu. Each of the attacking prahus had between fifty and sixty men, including slaves, and the larger one between ninety and a hundred. The result might have been very different to our gallant but dosy Jolly Bachelors.*-*

“I have already mentioned the slaughter committed by the fire of the pinnace, under Lieutenant orton, into the largest Malay prahu; and the account given of the scene which presented itself on the deck of the defeated pirate, when taken possession of, affords a striking proof of the character of these fierce rovers; resembling greatly what we read of the Norsemen and Scandinavians of early ages. Among the mortally wounded lay the young commander of the prahu, one of the most noble forms of the human race; his countenance handsome as the hero of oriental romance, and his whole bearing wonderfully impressive and touching. He was shot in front and through the lungs, and his last moments were rapidly approaching. He endeavoured to speak, but the blood gushed from his mouth with the voice he vainly essayed to utter in words. Again and again he tried, but again and again the vital fluid, drowned the dying effort. He looked as if he had something of importance which he desired to communicate, and a shade of disappointment and regret passed over his brow when he felt that every essay was unavailing, and that his manly strength and daring spirit were dissolving into the dark night of death. The pitying conquerors raised him gently up, and he was seated in comparative ease, for the welling-out of the blood was less distressing; but the end speedily came: he folded his arms heroically across his wounded breast, fixed his eyes upon the British seamen around, and casting one last glance at the ocean — the theatre of his daring exploits, on which he had so often fought and triumphed — expired without a sigh.*-*

“The spectators, though not unused to tragical and sanguinary sights, were unanimous in speaking of the death of the pirate chief as the most affect ing spectacle they had ever witnessed. A sculptor might have carved him as an Antinous in the mortal agonies of a Dying Gladiator. The leaders of the piratical prahus are sometimes poetically addressed hy their followers as Matari, i. e. the sun, or Bulan, the moon; and from his superiority in every respect, physical and intellectual, the chief whose course was here so fatally closed seemed to he worthy of either celestial name.*-*

Looking for Pirates on the Rivers of Borneo

Henry Keppel wrote in “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy”: May 21st. — I received intimation that the Rajah had written a letter, and wished me to appoint a time and place, that it might he presented in due form. Accordingly I attended in Mr. Brooke's hall of audience on the following day, where I found collected all the chiefs, and a crowd of natives, many of them having already been informed that the said letter was a requisition for me to assist in putting down the hordes of pirates who had so long infested the coast. I helieve many of those present, especially the Borneons, to have heen casually concerned, if not deeply implicated, in some of their transactions. After I had taken my seat with Mr. Brooke at the head of the table, the Rajah's sword-bearers entered, clearing the way for the huge yellow canopy, under the shade of which, on a large brass tray, and carefully sewn up in a yellow silk bag, was the letter, from which it was removed, and placed in my hands by the Pangeran Budrudeen. I opened the bag with my knife, and giving it to an interpreter, he read it aloud in the Malayan tongue. It was variously received by the audience, many of whose counte nances were far from prepossessing. [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

“The following is a copy of the letter, to which was affixed the Rajah's seal: "This friendly epistle, having its source in a pure mind, comes from Rajah Muda Hassim, next in succession to the royal throne of the kingdom of Borneo, and who now holds his court at the trading city of Sarawak, to our friend Henry Keppel, head captain of the war-frigate belonging to her Britannic Majesty, renowned throughout all countries, — who is valiant and discreet, and endowed with a mild and gentle nature: "This is to inform our friend that there are certain great pirates, of the people of Sarebus and Sakarran, in our neighbourhood, seizing goods and murdering people on the high seas. They have more than three hundred war-prahus, and extend their ravages even to Banjarmassim; they are not subject to the government of Bruni (Borneo); they take much plunder from vessels trading between Singapore and the good people of our country. "It would be a great service if our friend would adopt measures to put an end to these piratical outrages.*-*

“This information about the pirates gave me good ground to make a beginning; and having arranged with Mr. Brooke to obtain all necessary intelligence relative to their position, strength, and numbers, I determined on attacking them in their Piratical habits are so interwoven with the character of these Sarebus people, that the capture at sea of a few prahus would have but small effect in curing the evil; whilst a harassing strongholds, commencing with the Sarebus, who, from all accounts, were by far the most strongly fortified, Mr. Brooke accepted my invitation to accompany us, as well as to supply a native force of about three hundred men, who, should we succeed in the destruction of the pirate forts, would be useful in the jungle. Mr. Brooke's going to join personally in a war against (in the opinion of the Datus) such formidable opponents as the Sakarran and Sarebus pirates — who had never yet been conquered, although repeatedly attacked by the united forces of the surrounding Kajahs— was strongly opposed by the chiefs. On his informing them that he should go, but leaving it optional whether they would accompany him or not, their simple reply was, " What is the use of our remaining? If you die, we die; and if you live, we live: we will go with you." Preparations for the expedition were accordingly commenced.*-*

“The news of our intended attack on the Sarebus pirates had soon reached them, and spread all over the country and we had daily accounts of the formidable resistance they, intended to make. By the 4th July our preparations were complete; and the ship had dropped down to the mouth of the river. I forgot to mention, that all the adjoining Seriffs had, in the greatest consternation, sent me assurances of their future good intentions. Seriff Jaffer, who lived with an indus-trious but warlike race of Dyaks up the Linga river, a branch of the Batang Lupar, had never been known to commit piracy, and had been frequently at war with both the Sarebus and Sakarrans, offered to join our expedition. From Seriff Sahib, who lived up a river at Sadong adjoining the Sarebus territory, and to whom the " Serpent" Macota had gone, Mr. Brooke and myself had invitations to partake of a feast on our way to the Sarebus river. This was accompanied with a present of a couple of handsome spears and a porcupine; and also an offer to give up the women and children he had, with the assistance of the Sakarran pirates, captured from the poor Sow Dyaks up the Sarawak.*-*

“Further to the eastward, and up the Batang Lupar, into which the Sakarran runs, lived another powerful Seriff, by the name of Muller, elder brother and coadjutor of Seriff Sahib, These all, however, through fear at the moment, sent in submissive messages; but their turn had not yet come, and we proceeded towards the Sarebus. The island of Burong, off which the Dido was to remain at anchor, we made the first place of rendezvous. The force from the Dido consisted of her pinnace, two cutters, and a gig; besides which Mr. Brooke lent us his native-built boat, the Jolly Bachelor, carrying a long six-pounder brass gun, and thirty of our men; also a large tope of thirty-five tons, which carried a well-supplied commissariat, as well as ammunition.*-*

“The native force was extensive; but I need only mention the names of those from Sarawak. The three chiefs (the Tumangong and two Patingis, Gapoor and Ali) had two large boats, esch carrying about 180 men. Then there was the Kajah's large heavy boat, with the rascally Borneons, and about 40 men; and sundry other Sarawak boats: and besides, a Dyak force of about 400 men from the different tribes of Lundu, Sow, Singe, &c. Of course, it caused some trouble to collect this wild undisciplined armament, and two or three successive points of rendezvous were ne-cessary; and it was the morning of the 8th before we entered the river.*-*

“The force from the Dido was about 80, officers and men. The command of the boats, when sent away from a man-ofwar, is the perquisite of the first lieutenant. My curiosity, however, would not allow me to resist the temptation of attending the party in my gig; and I had my friend Mr. Brooke as a companion. Lieutenant E. Gunnell whose troublesome duty it was to preserve order throughout this extensive musquito fleet, and to keep the natives from pressing too closely oh the rear of our boats — an office which became less troublesome as we approached the scene of danger. The whole formed a novel, picturesque, and excite ing scene; and it was curious to contemplate the different feelings that actuated the separate and distinct parties; the odd mixture of Europeans, Malays, and Dyaks; the different religions; and the eager and anxious manner in which all pressed forward. The novelty of the thing was quite sufficient to excite our Jacks, after having been cooped up so long on board ship — to say nothing of the chance of a broken head.*-*

“Of the Malays and Dyaks who accompanied us, some came from curiosity, some from attachment to Mr. Brooke, and many for plunder; but I think the majority to gratify revenge, as there were but few of the inhabitants, on the north coast of Borneo, who had not suffered more or less from the atrocities of the Sarebus and Sakarran pirates — either their houses burnt, their relations murdered, or their wives and children captured and sold into slavery.*-*

“On the 9th June, 1843, we had got some thirty miles in the same direction; every thing was in order; and, as we advanced. It rained hard; hut we were well supplied with kajans, a mat admirably adapted to keep out the wet; and securely covered in, my gig had all the appearance of a native boat, especially as I had substituted paddles for oars. In this manner I frequently went a little in advance of the force; and on the 9th I came on a couple of boats, hauled close in under the jungle, apparently perfectly unconscious of my approach. I concluded them to be part of the small fleet of boats that had been chased, the previous day, in the mouth of the river; and when abreast of them, and within range, I fired from my rifle. The crews of each boat immediately precipitated themselves into the water, and escaped into the jungle. They were so closely covered in, that I did not see any one at first; but I found that my ball had passed through both sides of an iron kettle, in which they were boiling some rice. How astonished the cook must have been ! On coming up, our Dyak followers dashed into the jungle in pursuit of the fugitives, but without success.*-*

“We moved on leisurely with the flood-tide, anchoring always on the ebb, by which means we managed to collect our stragglers and keep the force together. Towards the evening, by the incessant sound of distant gongs, we were aware that our approach was known, and that preparations were making to repel us. These noises were kept up all night; and we occasionally heard the distant report of ordnance, which was fired, of course, to intimidate us. During the day, several deserted boats were taken from the banks of the river and destroyed, some of them containing spears, shields, and ammunition, with a few fire-arms.*-*

“The place we brought up at for the night was called Boling; but here the river presented a troublesome and dangerous obstacle in what is called the bore, caused by the tide coming in with a tremendous rush, as if an immense wave of the sea had suddenly rolled up the stream, and, finding itself confined on either side, extended across, like a high bank of water, curling and breaking as it went, and, from the frightful velocity with which it passes up, carrying all before it. There are, however, certain bends of the river where the bore does not break across: it was now our business to look out for and gain these spots between the times of its activity, The natives hold them in great dread.*-*

“From Boling the river becomes less deep, and not safe for large boats; so that here we were obliged to leave our tope with the commissariat, and a sufficient force for her protection, as we had received information that thirteen piratical boats had been some time cruising outside, and were daily expected up the river on their return, when our unguarded tope would have made them an acceptable prize. In addition to this, we were now fairly in the enemy's country: and for all we knew, hundreds of canoes might have been hid in the jungle, ready to launch. Just below Boling, the river branches off to the right and left; that to the left leading to another nest of pirates at Pakoo, who are (by land) in communication with those of Paddi, the place it was our intention to attack first.*-*

“Having provisioned our boats for six days, and provided a strong guard to remain with the tope, the native force not feeling themselves safe separated from the main body — we started, a smaller and more select party than before, but, in my opinion, equally formidable, leaving about 150 men. This arrangement gave but little satisfaction to those left behind, our men not liking to exchange an expedition where a fight was certain, for a service in which it was doubtful, although their position was one of danger, being open to attack from three different parts of the river. Our party now consisted of the Dido's boats, the three Datus from Sarawak, and some Sow Dyaks, eager for heads and plunder. We arrived at our first resting-place early in the afternoon, and took up a position in as good order as the small space would admit.*-*

“I secured my gig close to the bank, under the shade of a large tree, at some little distance from the fleet of boats; and, by myself, contemplated my novel position — in command of a mixed force of 500 men, some seventy miles up a river in the interior of Borneo; on the morrow about to carry all the horrors of war amongst a race of savage pirates, whose country no force had ever yet dared to invade, and who had been inflicting with impunity every sort of cruelty on all whom they encountered, for more than a century.*-*

“As the sun went down, the scene was beautiful, animated by the variety and picturesque appearance of the native prahus, and the praying of the Mussulman, with his face in- the direction of the Prophet's tomb, bowing his head to the deck of his boat, and absorbed in devotions from which nothing could withdraw his attention. For a time — it being that for preparing the evening meal — no noise was made: it was a perfect calm; and the rich foliage was reflected in the water as in a mirror, while a small cloud of smoke ascended from each boat. Late in the evening, when the song and joke passed from boat to boat, and the lights from the different fires were reflected in the water, the scenery was equally pleasing; but later still, when the lights were out, there being no moon, and the banks overhung with trees, it was so dark that no one could see beyond his own boat.*-*

“A little after midnight, a small boat was heard passing up the river, and was regularly hailed by us in succession; to which they replied, " We belong to your party." And it was not until the yell of triumph, given by six or eight voices, after they had (with a strong flood-tide in their favour) shot past the last of our boats, that we found how we had been imposed on.*-*

Fighting Pirates in on a Borneo River

Henry Keppel wrote in “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy”: June 11th. — We moved on immediately after the passing up of the bore, the dangers of which appeared to have been greatly exaggerated. The beating of gongs and discharge of cannon had been going on the whole of the previous night. The scenery improved in beauty every yard that we advanced; but our attention was drawn from it by the increase of yelling as we approached the scene of action. Although as yet we had only heard our enemies, our rapid advance with a strong tide must have been seen by them from the jungle on the Various hills which now rose to our view. [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

“Being in my gig, somewhat ahead of the boats, I had the advantage of observing all that occurred. The scene was the most exciting I ever experienced. We had no time for delay or consideration: the tide was sweeping us rapidly up; and had we been inclined to retreat then, we should have found it difficult. A sudden turn in the river brought us (Mr. Brooke was by my side) in front of a steep hill which rose from the bank. It had been cleared of jungle, and long grass grew in its place. As we hove in sight, several hundred savages rose up, and gave one of their war-yells: it was the first I had heard. No report from musketry or ordnance could ever make a man's heart feel so small as mine did at that horrid yell: but I had no leisure to think. I had only time for a shot at them with my double-barrel as they rushed down the steep, whilst I was carried past. I soon after heard the report of our large boat's heavy gun, which must have convinced them that we likewise were prepared.*-*

“On the roof of a long building, on the summit of the hill, were several warriors performing a wardance, which it would be difficult to imitate on such a stage. As these were not the forts we were in search of, we did not delay longer than to exchange a few shots in sweeping along. Our next obstacle was more troublesome, being a strong barrier right across the river, formed of two rows of trees placed firmly in the mud, with their tops crossed and secured together by rattans; and along the fork, formed by the crossing of the tops of these stakes, were other trees firmly secured. Rapidly approaching this barrier, I observed a small opening that might probably admit a canoe; and gathering good way, and putting my gig's head straight at it, I squeezed through. On passing it the scene again changed, and I had before me three formidable-looking forts, which lost not a moment in opening a discharge of cannon on my unfortunate gig. Luckily their guns were properly elevated for the range of the barrier; and, with the exception of a few straggling grape-shot that splashed the water round us, the whole went over our heads. For a moment I found myself cut off from my companions, and drifting fast upon the enemy. The banks of the river were covered with warriors, yelling and rushing down to possess themselves of my boat and its crew. I had some difficulty in getting my long gig round, and paddling up against the stream; but while my friend Brooke steered the boat, my coxswain and myself kept up a fire, with tolerable aim, on the embrasures, to prevent, if possible, their reloading before the pinnace, our leading boat, could bring her twelvepound carronade to bear. I was too late to prevent the pinnace falling athwart the barrier, in which position she had three men wounded. With the assistance of some of our native followers, the rattan -lashings which secured the' heads of the stakes were soon cut through; and I was not sorry when I found the Dido's first cutter on the same side with myself. The other boats soon followed; and while the pinnace kept up a destructive fire on the fort, Mr. D'Aeth, who was the first to land, jumped on shore, with his crew, at the foot of the hill on the top of which the nearest fort stood, and at once rushed for the summit. This mode of warfare — this dashing at once in the very face of their fort — was so novel and incomprehensible to our enemies, that they fled, panic-struck, into the jungle; and it was with the greatest difficulty that our leading men could get even a snap-shot at the rascals as they went.*-*

“That evening the country was illuminated for miles by the burning of the capital, Paddi, and adjacent villages; at which work, and plundering, our native followers were most expert. At Paddi the river branches off to the right and left; and it was on the tongue of land formed by them that the forts were very cleverly placed. We took all their guns, and burnt the stockades level with the ground. The banks of the river were here so confined, that a man might with ease throw a spear across; and as the jungle was close, it was necessary to keep pretty well on the alert. For the greater part of the night, the burning of the houses made it as bright as day. In the evening, Drs. Simpson and Treacher amputated a poor fellow's arm close to the shoulder, which, in the cramped space of a boat, was no easy operation. He was one of our best men, and captain of the forecastle on board the Dido.*-*

“Early on the following morning (12th) our boats, with the exception of the Jolly Bachelor, now become the hospital, proceeded up the two branches of the river; almost all the native force remaining to complete the work of destruction. An accident had nearly occurred at this period. A report had reached us that several large boats — supposed to be a fleet of Sarebus pirates returning from a cruise — were in the river; and knowing that they could not well attack and pass our force at Boling without our hearing of it, I took no further notice of the rumour, intending to go down in my gig afterwards, and have a look at them. While we were at breakfast in the Jolly Bachelor, a loud chattering of many voices was heard, attended by a great beating of tom-toms; and suddenly a large prahu, crowded with savages, came sweeping round the bend of the river, rapidly nearing us with a strong flood-tide. As she advanced, others hove in sight. In a moment pots and spoons were thrown down, arms seized, and the brass sixpounder, loaded with grape and canister, was on the point of being fired, when Williamson, the only person who understood thfeir character, made us aware that they were a friendly tribe of Dyaks, from the river Linga, coming to our assistance, or, more likely, coming to seek for plunder and the heads of their enemies, with whom they had for many years heen at war. Those in the leading boat had, however, a narrow escape, I had already given the order to fire; but luckily the priming had been blown off from the six-pounder. Had it not been so, fifty at least out of the first hundred would have been sent to their long homes. They were between eight and nine hundred strong. The scene to me was indeed curious and exciting: for the wild appearance of these fellows exceeded any thing I had yet witnessed. Their war-dresses — each decorating himself according to his own peculiar fancy, in a costume the most likely at once to adorn the wearer and strike terror into the enemy— made a remarkable show. Each had a shield and a handful of spears; about one in ten was furnished with some sort of fire-arm, which was of more danger to himself or his neighbour than to any one else. They wore short padded jackets, capable of resisting the point of a wooden spear.*-*

“The first thing necessary was to supply each with a strip of white calico, to be worn in the head-dress as a distinguishing mark, to prevent our people knocking them over if met by accident while prowling about the jungle. We also established a watchword, Datu, which many of them, who had great dread of the white men, never ceased to call out. Seriff Jaffer, in command of their force, had promised to join us from the beginning; but as they did not make their appearance off the mouth of the river, we thought no more of them. It was necessary to despatch messengers up the rivers to inform our boats of this reinforcement, as in all probability an attack would have been made immediately on the appearing in sight of so formidable a force.*-*

“At 10 a.m. our boats returned, having gone up the right-hand branch as far as it was practicable. That to the left having been obstructed by trees felled across the stream, was considered, from the trouble taken to prevent our progress, to be the branch up which the enemy had retreated; and not being provisioned for more than the day, they came back, and started again in the afternoon with the first of the flood-tide. Of this party Lieutenant Horton took charge, accompanied by Mr. Brooke. It was a small but an effective and determined and well-appointed little body, not likely to be deterred by difficulties. A small native force of about forty men accompanied them, making, with our own, between eighty and ninety people. The forts having been destroyed, no further obstacles were expected to our advance beyond the felling of trees and the vast odds as to numbers in case of attack, the pirates being reckoned to about six thousand Dyaks and five hundred Malays.*-*

Night-attack by the Pirates

Henry Keppel wrote in “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy”: The evening set in with rain and hazy weather. Our native skirmishing parties were returning to their boats and evening meals; our advancing party had been absent about an hour and a half; and I had just commenced a supper in the Jolly Bachelor on ham and poached eggs, when the sound of the pinnace's twelve -pounder carronade broke through the stillness of the night. This was responded to by one of those simultaneous waryells apparently from every part of the country. My immediate idea was that our friends had been surrounded. It was impossible to move so large a boat as the Jolly Bachelor up to their assistance; nor would it be right to leave our wounded without a sufficient force for their protection. I immediately jumped into my gig, taking with me a bugler, whom I placed in the bow; and seeing our arms in as perfect readiness as the rain would allow us to keep them in, I proceeded to join the combatants. [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

“Daylight had disappeared, as it does in tropical climates, immediately after the setting of the sun. The tide had just turned against me; and as I advanced up the river, the trees hung over many parts, nearly meeting across; at the same time the occasional firing that was kept up assured me that the enemy were on the alert, and with all the advantages of local knowledge and darkness on their side. From the winding of the stream, too, the yells appeared to come from every direction, sometimes ahead and sometimes astern. I had pulled, feeling my way, for nearly two hours, when a sudden and quick discharge of musketry, well on my left hand, intimated to me that I was approaching the scene of action; and, at the same time, passing several large canoes hauled up on the bank, I felt convinced that my anticipation was right, that our party were surrounded, and that we should have to fight our way to each other. My plan was to make it appear as if I was bringing up a strong reinforcement; and the moment the firing ceased, I made the bugler strike up " Rory O'More," which was immediately responded to by three British cheers and then followed a death-like stillness — if any thing, more unpleasant than the war-yell; and I could not help feeling certain that the enemy lay between us.*-*

“The stream now ran rapidly over loose stones. Against the sky, where the jungle had been cleared, I could distinctly see the outlines of human beings. I laid my double-barrel across my knees, and we pulled on. When within shotrange, I hailed, to make certain; and receiving no answer, after a second time, I fired, keeping the muskets of the gig's crew ready to repel the first attack in case the enemy did not decamp. My fire was answered by Lieutenant Horton: " We are here, sir." At first I was much distressed, from the fear that I might have hurt any one. They had not heard me hail, owing, I suppose, to the noise of the water rushing over the stones; and they had not hailed me, thinking that I must of course know that it was them; and the enemy being in the jungle all round, they did not like to attract attention to where they were. I found they had taken up a very clever position. The running stream had washed the ground away on the right bank, leaving a sort of little deep bay, just big enough to hold the boats, from which the bank rose quite perpendicularly. On the top of this. bank the jungle had been cleared for about thirty yards; and on this Lieutenant Gunnell, with seven royal marines, was posted as a rear-guard. This was an important position, and one of danger, as the jungle itself was alive with the enemy; and although the spears were hurled from it continually during the night, no shot was thrown away unless the figure of the pirate could be distinctly seen.*-*

“It continued to rain: the men wore their great-coats for the purpose of keeping their pieces dry; and several times, during that long night, I observed the muskets of these steady and good men brought to the shoulder and again lowered without firing, as that part of the jungle whence a spear had been hurled to within a few feet of where they stood did not shew a distinct form of any thing living. The hours were little less interesting for those who, in the boats below, stood facing the opposite bank of the river with their arms in their hands. It appears that the enemy had come down in great force to attack the boats from that side; and as the river was there very shallow, and the bottom hard, they could, by wading not more than knee-deep, have approached to within five or six yards of them: but in the first attack they had lost a great many men; and it is supposed that their repeated advances throughout the night were more to recover their dead and wounded than to make any fresh attack on our compact little force, whose deadly aim , and rapid firing must have astonished them, and who certainly were, one and all, prepared to sell their lives as dearly as possible.*-*

“To the left of our position, and about 200 yards up the river, large trees were being felled during the night; and by the torch-lights shewing the spot, the officer of the boat, Mr. Partridge, kept up a very fair ball-practice with the pinnace's gun. Towards morning a shot fell apparently just where they were at work; and that being accompanied by what we afterwards ascertained caused more horror and consternation among the enemy than any thing else, a common signal sky-rocket, made them resign the ground entirely to us. The last shot, too, that was fired from the pinnace had killed three men.*-*

“As daylight broke, I found that most of our party had squatted down with their guns between their knees, and being completely exhausted, had fallen asleep in spite of the rain. Few will ever forget that night. There were two natives and one marine only of our party badly wounded: the latter was struck by a rifle-shot, which entered his chest and lodged in the shoulder; and this, poor fellow a gallant young officer named Jenkins, already distinguished in the Chinese war, volunteered to convey in the second gig, with four boys only, down to the Jolly Bachelor. He performed this duty, and was again up with the party before daylight.*-*

“At daylight we found the pirates collecting in some force above us; and several shots were fired, as if to try the range of their rifles; but they took good care not to come within reach of our muskets. Shortly after, the tide beginning to rise, we made preparations for ascending further up the river. This was more than they bargained for, as we were close to where they had removed their families, with such little valuables as they could collect, when we so unexpectedly carried their forts and took possession of their town; and we were not sorry on observing, at that moment, a flag of truce advance from their party down the stream, and halt half-way to our position. We immediately sent an unarmed Malay to meet them; and after a little talk, they came to our boats. The message was, that they were ready to abide by any terms we might dictate. I promised that hostilities should cease for two hours but told them we could treat only with the chiefs, whose persons should be protected, and I invited them to a conference at 1 p.m.*-*

“In the mean while, having first sent notice by the messengers, I took advantage of the time, and ascended in my gig, without any great difficulty, above the obstruction they had been so busy throwing across the river during the night. The news that hostilities were to cease was not long in being communicated; and, by the time I had got up, the greatest confidence appeared to be established. Having pulled up into shoal-water, and where the river widened, the banks were soon covered with natives; and some seventy or eighty immediately laid aside their spears and walked off to my boat, the whole of which, together with its crew, they examined with the greatest curiosity.*-*

“In the heat of the day we indulged in a most refreshing bath under the shade of over-hanging trees, the bottom of the river being fine sand and pebbles worn smooth by the running stream. At the appointed hour the chiefs made their appearance, dressed in their best, but looking haggard and dejected. Mr. Brooke, the "Tuan Besar," or great man, officiated as spokesman. He fully explained that our invasion of their country, and destruction of their forts and town, was not for the purposes of pillage or gain to ourselves, but as a punishment for their repeated and aggravated acts of piracy; that they had been fully warned, for two years before, that the British nation would no longer allow the native trade between the adjacent islands and Singapore to be cut off and plundered, and the crews of the vessels cruelly put to death, as they had been.*-*

“They were very humble and submissive; admitted that their lives were forfeited; and if we said they were to die, they were prepared, although, they explained, they were equally willing to live. They promised to refrain for ever from piracy, and offered hostages for their good be haviour. Mr. Brooke then explained how much more advantageous trade would be than piracy, and invited them to a further conference at Sarawak, where they might witness all the blessings resulting from the line of conduct he had advised them to follow. If, on the other hand, we heard of a single act of piracy being committed by them, their country should be again invaded and occupied; and their enemies, the whole tribe of Linga Dyaks, let loose upon them, until they were rooted out and utterly destroyed.*-*

“To other questions they replied, that although the chief held communication and was in the habit of cruising with the people of the other settlements of Pakoo and Bembas, still they could not hold themselves responsible for their good conduct; and as both held strongly fortified positions (of course supposed by themselves to be impregnable), they did not think that they would abstain altogether from piracy unless we visited and inflicted a similar chastisement to that they themselves had suffered. They also stated that, although they never would again submit to the orders of the great and powerful chiefs, Seriffs Sahib and Muller, still they could not join in any expedition against them or their old allies, their bloodthirsty and formidable neighbours in the Sakarran river.*-*

“On our return to the still-smoking ruins of the once picturesque town of Faddi, we found that Seriff Jaffer, with his 800 warriors, had not been idle. The country round had been laid waste. All had been desolated, together with their extensive winter-stores of rice. It was a melancholy sight; and, for a moment, I forgot the horrid acts of piracy and cruel murders of these people, and my heart relented at what I had done — it was but for a few minutes.*-*

“Collecting our forces, we dropped leisurely down the river, but not without a parting yell of triumph from our Dyak force — a yell that must have made the hearts of those quail whose wives and children lay concealed in the jungle near to where we had held our conference. We arrived at Boling soon after midnight, where we found the tope, with our provision, quite safe. Several shots had been fired at her the night before; and large parties had repeatedly come down to the banks, and endeavoured to throw spears on board.*-*

“At daylight (Wednesday, 14th) we lost no time in completing to four days' provisions, and starting, with the flood-tide, for Pakoo. It took us until late in the evening before we appeared in sight of two newly built stockades, from which the pirates fled, panic-struck, without firing a shot, on our first discharge. We had evidently come on them before they were prepared, as we found some of the guns in the forts with the slings still on by which they had been carried. The positions of the forts here, as at Faddi, were selected with great judgment; and had their guns been properly served, it would have been sharp work for boats. The same work of destruction was carried on; but the town was larger than at Paddi, and night setting in, the conflagration had a grand effect. Although the greater part of their valuables had been removed, the place was alive with goats and poultry, the catching of which afforded great sport for our men.*-*

“Some of the Singe Dyaks succeeded in taking the heads of a few pirates, who probably were killed or wounded in the forts on our first discharge. I saw one body afterwards without its head, in which each passing Dyak had thought proper to stick a spear, so that it had all the appearance of a huge porcupine. The operation of extracting the brains from the lower part of the skull, with a bit of bamboo shaped like a spoon, preparatory to preserving, is not a pleasing one. The head is then dried, with the flesh and hair on it, suspended over a slow fire, during which process the chiefs and elders of the tribe perform a sort of war-dance.*-*

“Soon after daylight the following morning (Thursday, 15th), the chiefs of the tribe came down with a flag of truce, when much the same sort of conference took place as at Paddi. They were equally submissive, offering their own lives, but begging those of their wives and children might be spared. After promising to accede to all we desired, they agreed to attend the conference about to assemble at Sarawak, where the only terms on which they could expect lasting peace and mutual good understanding would be fully explained and discussed.*-*

Attack on the Pirates at Rembas

Henry Keppel wrote in “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy”: “Like their friends at Paddi, they were of opinion that their neighbours at Rembas would not abstain from piracy until they had received convincing proof that the power existed which was capable and determined to put down piracy. All these misguided people appeared not only to listen to reason, but to be open to conviction; and I am far from imputing to them that treachery so commonly attributed to all classes of Malays. The higher grades, I admit, are cunning and deceitful; but subsequent events during the last two years have proved the truth and honesty of the intentions of these people. They have strictly adhered to their promises; and have since, although surrounded by piratical tribes, been carrying on a friendly trade with Sarawak. [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

“Our next point of attack was Rembas, Although there was a nearer overland communication between those places, the distance by water was upwards of sixty miles; but the strong tides were of great assistance, as we could always rest when they were against us. High water was the only time, however, that suited us for landing, as the fall of tide left a considerable space of soft mud to wade through before reaching terra jirma: this was sufficiently unpleasant to our men, without the additional trouble of having to load and fire when in that position — besides, when stuck fast in the mud, you become a much easier object to be fired at. At Rembas the tide was not up until just before daylight; and having no moon to light us, a night attack was not considered advisable; so that we brought up about a quarter-tide below the town on the evening of the 16th.*-*

“As Rembas contained a larger proportion of Malays (who are always well supplied with fire-arms) than the other settlements, though we had not experienced any opposition at Pakoo, we fully expected they would here make a better stand. We advanced early in the morning, and soon came up with a succession of formidable barriers, more troublesome to cut through than any we had before encountered. About a mile below the town we landed 700 of the Linga Dyaks on the left bank of the river, who were to separate into two divisions — commanded by Seriff Jaffer and his son, a remarkably fine and spirited youth — and creep stealthily through the jungle, for which the country was well adapted, so as to get to the rear of the town and forts, and make a simultaneous attack on the first shot being fired from our boats. The last barrier (and there were four of them) was placed just within point-blank range; the gig being a light boat, I managed to haul her over, close to the bank, and advanced so as to be both out of sight and out of range; and just as our first boat came up with the barrier, I pushed out from under the bank, and opened a fire of musketry on the stockade, which was full of men. This, with the war-yell that followed from their rear (both unexpected), together with their fears having been already worked upon by the destruction of Faddi and defeat of Fakoo, threw them into the greatest confusion. They fled in all directions, without provoking us by firing a shot, although we found the guns loaded. Seriff Jaffer and his Dyaks were gratified by having all the fighting to themselves, and by some very pretty hand-to-hand encounters. We were much amused afterwards by their own account of the heroic deeds they had performed. Lives were lost on both sides, and heads taken. This Rembas was by far the largest and strongest place we had assaulted. We found some very large war-boats---both fitted and building; one measured ninetytwo feet in length, with fourteen beam; and in addition to the usual good supply of fruit, goats, and poultry, our men were gratified by finding several bullocks;.. The plunder was great; and although, with the exception of the guns, of no value to us, it was very much so to our native followers.*-*

“After we had destroyed every thing, we received a flag of truce, when similar explanations and promises were made as at Paddi and Pakoo; and here ended, for the present, the warlike part of our expedition. The punishment we had inflicted was severe, but not more than the crime of their « horrid piracies deserved. A few heads were brought away by our Dyak followers as trophies; but ther,e was no unnecessary sacrifice of life, and I do not believe there was a woman or child hurt. The destruction of these places astonished the whole country beyond description. In addition to the distance and difficulty of access to their strongly-fortified positions, they looked for protection from the bore that usually ran up the Sarebus, and which they imagined none but their own boats could manage. As the different Malay chiefs heard that in ten- days a handful of white men had totally destroyed their strongholds, they shook their heads, and exclaimed, "God is great !" and the Dyaks declared that the Tuan Besar (Mr. Brooke) had charmed the river to quiet the bore, 1 and that the whites were invulnerable. Although this expedition would have a great moral effect on all the more respectable and thinking natives, inasmuch as the inhabitants of the places destroyed were looked upon, from the large proportion of Malays, as more civilised than their formidable and savage neighbours, the Dyaks inhabiting the Sakarran river; still it was not to be supposed, when the settlements of Paddi, Pakoo, and Rembas, could not be responsible for the good behaviour of one another, that it was probable the severe lesson taught them would have any great effect on the Sakarrans.*-*

“On regaining the tope at Boling, we found our assistant-surgeon, Dr. Simpson, who had been left in charge of the sick, laid up with fever and ague. For conveniency's sake, the wounded men had been removed to a large native boat; and while the doctor was passing along the edge of the boat, his foot slipped, he fell overboard, and not being much of a swimmer, and a strong tide running, he was a good while in the water, though a native went after him. He had for some time past been in bad health; but the cold he then caught brought on inflammation in the lungs, under the effects of which he sank soon after our return to Singapore. Poor Simpson I he was not only clever in his profession, but endeared to us all. It had never been known so quiet as during the days we were up their river. by his kind and gentle manner, so grateful to the sick. There were few of us while in China who had not come under his hands, and experienced his tender, soothing, and unremitting attention.*-*

Rajah Grateful for the Dido Suppression Mission

“We now gave our native followers permission to depart to their respective homes, which they did loaded with plunder, usually in India called loot; ourselves getting under weigh to rejoin the Dido off the island of Burong, and from thence we proceeded to the mouth of the Morotaba, where, leaving the ship, Mr. Brooke and I went in my boat, with two others in attendance, to take leave of the Rajah, prior to my return to Singapore and China. Although the greater part of the native boats attached to the expedition had already arrived at Sarawak, the Rajah had sent them back, some miles down the river, with as many others as he could collect, gorgeously dressed Out with flags, to meet Mr. Brooke and myself, the heroes of the grandest expedition that had ever been known in the annals of Malayan history. Our approach to the grand city was, to them, most triumphant, although to us a nuisance. From the moment we entered the last reach, the saluting from every gun in the capital that could be fired without bursting was incessant; and as we neared the royal residence, the yells, meant for cheers, and the beating of gongs, intended to be a sort of " See, the conquering hero comes," were quite deafening. The most minute particulars of our deeds, of course greatly exaggerated, had been detailed, long before our arrival, by the native chiefs, who were eye-witnesses; and when we Were seated in the Rajah's presence, the royal countenance relaxed into a smile of real pleasure as he turned his wondering eyes from Mr. Brooke to myself and back again. I suppose be thought a great deal of us, as he said little or nothing; and as we were rather huilgry after our pull, we were very glad to get away once more to Mr. Brooke's hospitable board, to which we did ample justice.*-*

“My stay at Sarawak was but of short duration, as, before I had time to carry out the arrangements I had made to put down this horrid traffic, the Dido was, owing to some changes in the distribution of the fleet, recalled to China. As the tide would not suit for my return to the Dido until two o'clock the following morning, we sat up until that hour; when, with mutual regret, we parted. I had just seen enough of Borneo and my enterprising friend Mr. Brooke, to feel the deepest interest in both. No description of mine can in any way give my readers a proper idea of the character of the man I had just then left; and however interesting his journal may appear in the reading, it is only by being in his company, and by hearing him advocate the cause of the persecuted inland natives, and listening to his • vivid arid fair description of the beautiful country he has adopted, that one can be made to enter fully into and feel what I would fain describe, but cannot.*-*

“We parted; and I did not then expect to be able so soon to return and finish what I had intended, viz. the complete destruction of the strongholds belonging to the worst among the pirate hordes, so long the terror of the coast, either by capturing or driving from the country the piratical Seriffs Sahib and Muller, by whose evil influence they had been chiefly kept up. From all that I had seen, the whole country appeared to be a large garden, with a rich and varied soil, capable of producing any thing. The natives, especially the mountain Dyaks, are industrious, willing, inoffensive, although a persecuted race; and the only things wanted to make the country the most productive and happiest in the world were, the suppression of piracy, good government, and opening a trade with the interior, which could not fail of success. All these I saw partially begun; and I felt assured that with the assistance of a vessel of war, and the countenance only of the government, Mr. Brooke would, although slowly yet surely, bring about their happy consummation.*-*

Return to Borneo to Battle the Sakarran Pirates

Henry Keppel wrote in “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy”: Having landed the treasure at Hong Kong, and completed stores and provisions, I sailed from Macao on 21st June; and working down against the monsoon, arrived at Singapore on the 18th July. I here found letters from Mr. Brooke, stating that the Sakarrans had been out in great force. ...I found Sarawak much altered for the better, and the population considerably increased. Mr. Brooke had established: himself in a new house built on a beautiful and elevated mound, from which the intriguing Macota had just been ejected on my first visit. Neat and pretty-looking little Swiss cottages had sprung up on all the most picturesque spots, which gave it quite a European look. He had also made an agreeable addition to his English society; and a magazine of English merchandise had been opened to trade with the natives; together mth many other improvements. [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

“On the other hand, Seriff Sahib not deterred, as it had anticipated he would be, by the example I made of his neighbours in the Sarebus, had taken measures for withdrawing from the adjoining river of Sadong, where he had been living in a comparatively unguarded state, and had, during the last nine months, been making busy preparations for fortifying himself at a place called Patusen, up the Batang Lupar. He had lately got things in a forward state, had called out a large fleet of Sakarrans as an escort; and being pufled up with his own power and importance, had thought proper to prolong the performance of his voyage, of about 100 miles, from his residence in Sadong to his fortified position at Patusen, for three weeks or a month, during which time he had despatched small parties of his fleet, which consisted of upwards of 150 war-prahus, on piratical excursions. These robbers had, in addition to their piracies on the high seas, scoured the coast in all directions, and committed the greatest atrocities, attended with some of the most cruel murders. One sample will be sufficient to shew their brutal character: — A detachment of three of their boats, having obtained information that a poor Dyak family, belonging to a tribe in Mr. Brooke's territory, had come down from their mountain to cultivate a small portion of land nearer the coast, and, for their better security, had made their dwelling in the upper branches of a large tree on the outskirts of the forest, determined to destroy them. Their little children were playing in the jungle when the pirates were seen approaching the tree with their diabolical war-yells. As the poor man did not descend immediately on being summoned, he was shot; when other ruffians, to save their ammunition, mounted the tree, murdered the woman, and returned in triumph to their boats with the heads of both victims. The children who had witnessed this from their hiding-places, succeeded in getting to Sarawak.*-*

“Taking advantage of Mr. Brooke's unusually long absence, Sarawak itself was threatened, and open defiance hurled at any European force that should dare approach Patusen. Reports, too, had been industriously spread that Mr. Brooke never intended to return; and when he did get back to his home, he found the town guarded and watched like a besieged city. With his usual nerve and decision he withdrew his men from the forts, and sent to Seriff Sahib to inform him that he should suffer for his temerity.*-*

“A letter I received from him is so characteristic, and gives so lively a description of these events, that I am tempted to print it: " Sarawak, 26th May, 1844. My dear Keppel — It is useless applying a spur to a willing horse; so I will only tell you that there is plenty to do here, and the sooner you can come the hetter for all of us, especially your poor friends the Dyaks. Bring with you as much force as you can to attack Sakarran. The case stands thus: Seriff Sahib, quite frightened at Sadong since last year, enraged likewise at his loss of power and his incapability of doing mischief, collected all the Sakarran Dyaks, and was joined by many of the Dyaks of Sarebus and some Balows. He likewise had a good many Malays, and bullied every one in his vicinity. This force met at the entrance of the Sadong Delta, and committed depredations. They were not less than 200 Dyak boats and some 15 or 20 armed Malay prahus, besides others. Just as they were collected, the Harlequin appeared off the coast; and had the Dido been with us, we might have had them all; but the opportunity will never again occur. Seriff Sahib, with this force, has started today for Sakarran, and I was not strong enough with my eight native boats to attack him: It is really greatly to be lamented, because we should most completely have crushed the head of the snake. We must, however, make the best of it. It is his intention, on his arrival at Sakarran, to fortify and wait for our attack; and in the mean time to send out his Dyaks along the coast and inland to such places as they dare venture to attack.*-*

"Come, then, my dear Keppel, for there is plenty to do for all hands. I have ordered a gunboat from Mr. Goldie to make our force stronger; and had I possessed such a one the day before yesterday, I would have pulled away for the Sadong today. My regards to all. I still propose Pepper-Pot Hall for your residence. I only wish I felt quite sure that Fortune had it in store that you would be here on your return from China. That dame, however, seems to delight in playing me slippery tricks just at present; and never was the time and tide so missed before, which would have led to fortune, as the other day. All the Queen's ships and all the Queen's men could not bring such a chance together again. — Ever, my dear Keppel, your sincere friend, "J. Brooke.*-*

“Seriff Sahib, especially as he had a small score to settle with that kind of gentry, having had his first-lieutenant, H. Chads, severely wounded in two places, and several men killed, in the affair at Acheen Head. It was, however, all for the best, as the few boats that the Harlequin could have sent would have stood but a poor chance against upwards of 200 war-prahus, all fitted and prepared for fight. On the 1st of August, with the Dido and Phlegethon at anchor off Sarawak, the warlike preparations were going on rapidly. I had saluted and paid my visit to Muda Hassim; he was delighted to see me again, and we went through the form of holding several conferences of war in his divan. He appears to be a good well-meaning man, well inclined towards the English, moderately honest, and, if roused, I daresay not without animal courage; and altogether, with the assistance of his clever younger brother, Budrudeen, a very fit person to govern that part of Borneo of which he is Kajah.*-*

“I received a second letter from Muda Hassim, of which the following is a translation: " This comes from Pangeran Muda Hassim, Rajah of Borneo, to our friend Captain Keppel, in command of Her Britannic Majesty's ship. (After the usual compliments): "We beg to let our friend Captain Keppel know, that the pirates of Sakarran, whom we mentioned last year, still continue their piracies by sea and land; and that ihany Malays, under Seriff Sahib, who have been accustomed to send or to accompany the pirates and to share in their spoils, have gone to the Sakarran river, with a resolve of defending themselves rather than accede to our wishes that they should abandon piracy.*-*

Expedition Against Sakarran Pirates

Henry Keppel wrote in “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy”: "Last year Captain Belcher told the Sultan and myself, that it would be pleasing to the Queen of England that we should repress piracy; and we signed an agreement, at his request, in which we promised to do so; and we tell our friend of the piracies and evil actions of the Sakarran people, who have, for many years past, done much mischief to trade, and make it dangerous for boats to sail along the coast; and this year many prahus, which wanted to sail to Singapore, have been afraid. We inform our friend Captain Keppel of this, as we desire to end all the piracy, and to perform our agreement with the Queen of England. " [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

“Monday, 5th August, 1844, being the morning fixed for the departure of our expedition against the Sakarran pirates, the Phlegethon steamer weighed at 8 o'clock, and proceeded down the river to await at the mouth the collection of our force. Among those who accompanied us from Sarawak, was the Pangeran Budrudeen, the intelligent brother of the Rajah already noticed. This was a great and unusual event in the royal family; and the departure from the Rajah's wharf, which I viewed from Mr. Brooke's house, on the opposite bank of the river, was intended to be very imposing. The barge of state was decked out with banners and canopies; all the chiefs attended, with the Arab priest Mudlana at their head, and the barge pushed off amidst the firing of cannon, and a general screech, invoking the blessing of Mahomet.*-*

“Having seen the last boat off, Mr. Brooke and myself took our departure in the gig, when another and last farewell salute was fired from the Rajah's wharf. Three hours brought us to the steamer, anchored off the fishing-huts at the mouth of the river. Here we heard that a small boat from the enemy's country had, under the pretence of trading, just been in to spy into our force, but decamped again on the appearance of the steamer. We now all got fairly away together, the smaller boats keeping near the shoals in shore, while the steamer was obliged to make an offing some miles from the coast. From the masthead we distinctly made out the small boat that had left the mouth of the river before, both pulling and sailing in the direction of the Batang Lupar, up which the Sakarran country lies; and as it was desirable that the pirates should not get information of our approach, at dusk, being well in advance, and our auxiliary force following, I despatched Mr. Brooke's Singapore sampan and one of the Dido's cutters in chase. At half-past nine we anchored in the stream within the entrance.*-*

“We were fortunate at Sarawak in picking up two excellent and intelligent pilots, who had long known the whole river, and had themselves been several times forced to serve in the boats while on their piratical excursions.*-*

“Tuesday, 6th. — With the flood-tide arrived all the well-appointed and imposing little fleet, and with them the cutter and sampan with two out of the three men belonging to the boat of which they had been in chase; the third having been speared by Seboo, on shewing a Strong inclination to run a-muck in his own boat, i. e. to sell his life as dearly as he could. From these men we obtained information that Seriff Sahib was fully prepared for defence — that his harem had been removed — and that he would fight to the last. We also learned that Macota, better known among us by the name of the " Serpent," and often mentioned in Mr. Brooke's journal, was the principal adviser, in whose house the councils of war were generally held.*-*

“We anchored, in the afternoon, off the mouth of the river Linga; and while there we despatched a messenger to Seriff Jaffer to caution him against giving any countenance or support to either of the Seriffs,. Sahib and Muller, on whose punishment and destruction we were determined. The Batang Lupar, as far as this, is a magnificent river, from three to four miles wide, and, in most parts, from five to seven fathoms water.*-*

Attacks Against Sakarran Pirate Forts

Henry Keppel wrote in “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy”: Wednesday 7 th. — We weighed at daylight, but were obliged to anchor again before appearing in sight of Patusen, until the tide should rise sufficiently to enable us to pass a long flat shoal, over which, during the spring-tides, a bore rushes with frightful velocity. We now collected our boats, and made our arrangements as well as we could, for attacking a place we had not yet seen. We had now a little more difficulty in keeping our native force back, as many of those who had accompanied the expedition last year had gained so much confidence that the desire of plunder exceeded the feeling of fear. [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

“After weighing at 11, with a strong tide sweeping us up, we were not many minutes in coming in sight of the fortifications of Patusen; and indeed they were not to be despised. There were five of them, two not quite finished. Getting suddenly into six-feet water, we anchored the steamer; not so formidable a berth, although well within musket-range, as we might have taken up had I been aware of the increasing depth of water nearer the town; but we approached so rapidly there was no time to wait the interpretation of the pilot's information.*-*

“The Dido and Phlegethon's boats were not long in forming alongside. They were directed to pull in shore, and then attack the forts in succession; but my gallant first-lieutenant, Wade, who had the command, was the first to break the line, and pull directly in the face of the largest fort. His example was followed by the others; and dividing, each boat pulled for that which appeared to the officer in command to be the one most likely to make a good fight. The forts were the first to open fire on both steamer and boats, which was quickly and smartly returned. It is impossible to imagine a prettier sight than it was from the top of the Phlegethon's paddle-box. It was my intention to have fired on the enemy from the -steamer, so as to draw their attention off the boats; but owing to the defective state of the detonating primingtubes, the guns from the vessel did not go off, and the boats had all the glory to themselves. They never once checked in their advance; but the moment they touched the shore the crews rushed up, entering the forts at the embrasures, while the pirates fled by the rear.*-*

“In this sharp and short affair we had but one man killed, poor John Ellis, a fine young man, and captain of the main- top in the Dido. He was cut in two by a cannon-shot while in the act of ramming home a cartridge in the bow-gun of the Jolly Bachelor. Standing close to poor Ellis at the fatal moment was a fine promising young middy, Charles Johnson, a nephew of Mr. Brooke's, who fortunately escaped unhurt. This, and two others badly wounded, were the only accidents on our side.*-*

Plundering and Looting Sakarran Pirates Forts

Henry Keppel wrote in “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy”: Wednesday 7 th. — We weighed at daylight, but were obliged to anchor again before appearing in sight of Patusen, until the tide should rise sufficiently to enable us to pass a long flat shoal, over which, during the spring-tides, a bore rushes with frightful velocity. We now collected our boats, and made our arrangements as well as we could, for attacking a place we had not yet seen. We had now a little more difficulty in keeping our native force back, as many of those who had accompanied the expedition last year had gained so much confidence that the desire of plunder exceeded the feeling of fear. [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

“Our native allies were not long in following our men on shore. The killed and wounded on the part of the pirates must have been considerable. Our followers got several heads. There were no fewer than sixty-four brass guns of different sizes, besides many iron, found in and about the forts: the latter we spiked and threw into the river. The town was very extensive; and after being well looted, made a glorious blaze. Our Sarawak followers, both Malays and Dyaks, behaved with the greatest gallantry, and dashed in under the fire of the forts. In fact, like their country, any thing might be made of them under a good government; and such is their confidence in Mr. Brooke's judgment, and their attachment to his person, that he might safely defy in his own stronghold the attacks of any foreign power.*-*

“After our men had dined, and had a short rest during the heat of the day, we landed our whole force in two divisions — and a strange but formidable-looking force they made — to attack a town situated about two miles up, on the left bank of a small river called the Grahan, the entrance to which had been guarded by the forts; and immediately after their capture the tide had fallen too low for our boats to get up. Facing the stream, too, was a long stockade; so that we determined on attacking the place in the rear, wliich, had the pirates only waited to receive us, would have caused a very interesting skirmish. They, however, decamped, leaving every thing behind them. In this town we found Seriff Sahib's residence, and, among other things, all his curious and extensive wardrobe. It was ridiculous to see our Dyaks dressed out in all the finery and plunder of this noted pirate, whose very name, a few days previous, would have made them tremble. Goats and poultry there were in abundance. We likewise found a magazine in the rear of the SeriiFs house, containing about two tons of gunpowder; also a number of small barrels of fine powder, branded 'Dartford’ in exactly the same state as it had left the manufactory in England. It being too troublesome and heavy to convey on board the steamer, and each of our native followers staggering up to his knees in mud, under a heavy load of plunder, I had it thrown into the river. It was evident how determined the chief had been to defend himself, as, besides the defences already completed, eight others, in different states of forwardness, were in the course of erection; and had the attack been delayed a few weeks, Patusen would not have been carried by boats without considerable loss of life. It was the key to this extensive river; the resort of the worst of pirates; and each chief had contributed his share of guns and ammunition towards its fortification and defence.*-*

“We returned to our boats and evening meal rather fatigued, but much pleased with our day's work, after ascending near seventy miles from the mouth of the river. The habitations of 5000 pirates had been burnt to the ground; four strong forts destroyed, together with several hundred boats; upwards of sixty brass cannons captured, and about a fourth that number of iron spiked and thrown into the river, besides vast quantities of other arms and ammunition and the powerful Seriff Sahib, the great pirate-patron for the last twenty years, ruined past recovery, and driven to hide his diminished head in the jungle.*-*

“The 8th and 9th were passed in burning and destroying the rest of the straggling town, and a variety of smaller boats, which were very numerous. I had also an account to settle with that cunning rascal Macota, for his aiding and abetting Seriff Sahib in his piracies. He had located himself very pleasantly near a bend in the river, about a mile above Seriff Sahib's settlement, and was in the act of building extensive fortifications, when I had the satisfaction of anticipating the visit and some of the compliments he would have conferred on my friend Mr. Brooke at Sarawak. Budrudeen, the Rajah's brother, had likewise been duped by this fellow, and was exceedingly anxious to insert the blade of a very sharp and beautiful kris into the body of his late friend. Mr. Brooke, however, was anxious to save his life, which he afterwards had the satisfaction of doing. I shall never forget the tiger-like look of the young Pangeran when we landed together in the hopes of surprising the " Serpent" in his den; but he was too quick for us, having decamped with his followers, and in so great a hurry as to leave all his valuables behind, — among them a Turkish pipe, some chairs once belonging to the Royalist, and other presents from Mr. Brooke. Every thing belonging to him was burnt or destroyed save some handsome brass guns. There was one of about 12 cwt. that had been lent by the Sultan when Macota was in favour, and which I returned to Budrudeen for his brother.*-*

“We were here joined by a large number of the Linga Dyaks, the same force that had joined us the year previous, while up the Sarebus, but unaccompanied by Seriff Jaffer, of whom it was not quite clear that he had not been secretly aiding the pirates. I sent them back with assurances to their chiefs that they should not be molested unless they gave shelter or protection to either Seriff Sahib or Muller. Seriff Sahib, with a considerable body of followers, escaped inland in the direction of the mountains, from the other side of which he would be able to communicate with the river Linga. Macota was obliged to fly up the river towards the Undop, on which the village and residence of Seriff Sahib's brother, Seriff Muller, was situated. Having destroyed every boat and sampan, as well as house or hut — on the 10th, as soon as the tide had risen sufficiently to take us over the shoals, we weighed, in the steamer, for the coun- try of the Sakarran Dyaks, having sent the boats on before with the first of the flood.*-*

More Fighting in the Strongholds of the Sakarran Pirates Further Up the River

Henry Keppel wrote in “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy”: About fifteen miles above Patusen is the branch of the river called the Undop: up this river I despatched Lieutenant Tumour, with Mr. Comber, in the Jolly Bachelor, and a division of our native boats, while we proceeded to where the river again branches off to the right and left, as on the tongue of land so formed we understood we should find a strong fort; besides, it was the highest point to which we could attempt to take the steamer. The branch to the left is called the Sakarran; that to the right retains the name of Lupar, inhabited chiefly by Sakarrans. We found the place deserted and the houses empty. Knowing that these people depended almost entirely for protection on the strongly fortified position at Patusen, I did not expect any similar opposition from either Seriff Muller or the des-v perate bloodthirsty Sakarrans, and consequently divided my force into three divisions — the one, already mentioned, under Lieutenant Tumour, up the Undop; another, under Mr. D'Aeth, up the Lupar while Lieutenant Wade, accompanied by Mr. Brooke, ascended the Sakarran. I had not calculated on the disturbed and excited state in which I found the country; and two wounded men having been sent back from the Undop branch with accounts of the pirates, chiefly Malays who were collected in great numbers, both before and in the rear of our small force; and an attempt having heen made to cut off the bearer of this information, Nakodah Bahar, who had had a very narrow escape, and had no idea of taking back an answer unless attended by a European force — I determined on sending assistance. But I had some difficulty in mustering another crew from the steamer, and was obliged to leave my friend Capt. Scott, with only the idlers, rather critically situated. [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

“I deemed it advisable to re-collect my whole force; and before proceeding to the punishment of the Sakarrans, to destroy the power and influence of Seriff Muller, whose town was situated about twenty miles up, and was said to contain a population of 1500 Malays, independently of the surrounding Dyak tribes. Having despatched boats with directions to Lieutenant Wade and Mr. D'Aeth to join us in the Undop, I proceeded in my gig to the scene of action, leaving the steamer to maintain as strict a blockade of the Sakarran and Lupar branches as, with their reduced force, they were capable of. On my joining Lieutenant Tumour, I found him just returned from a very spirited attack which he had made, assisted by Mr. Comber, on a stockade situated on the summit of a steep hill; Mr. Allen, the master, being still absent on a similar service, on the opposite side of the river. The gallant old chief Patingi Ail was likewise absent, in pursuit of the enemy that had been driven from the stockades, with whom he had had a hand-to-hand fight, the whole of which — being on the rising ground — was witnessed by our boats' crews, who could not resist hailing his return from his gallant achievement with three hearty British cheers. This had the effect of giving such an impulse to his courage, that, in a subsequent affair, it unhappily caused a serious loss among this active and useful branch of our force.*-*

“We had now to unite in cutting our way through a barrier across the river similar to that described in the attack on the Sarebus, which having passed, we brought up for the night close to a still more serious obstacle, being a number of huge trees felled, the branches of which meeting midway in the river, formed apparently an insurmountable obstacle to our progress. But " patience and perseverance overcome all difficulties;" and by night only three of the trees remained to be cleared away. We were now within a short distance of their town, so that we could distinctly hear the noise and confusion which our advance had occasioned. On the right bank, and about fifty yards in advance of the barrier, stood a farmhouse, which we considered it prudent to occupy for the night, for which advanced post we collected about fifty volunteers. These consisted of Messrs. Steward, Williamson, and Comber; a corporal and four marines; my gig's qrewj and a medley of picked men from our Dyak and Malay followers; not forgetting my usual and trusty attendant John Eager with his bugle, the sounding of which was to be the signal for the whole force to come to the rescue, in the event of surprise — not at all improbable from the nature of our warfare and our proximity to the enemy's town.*-*

“And here a most ludicrous scene occurred during the night. Having placed our sentries and look-out men, and given "Tiga" as the watchword, we were, shortly after midnight, suddenly aroused from sound sleep by a Dyak war-yell, which was immediately responded to by the whole force. It was pitch dark: the interior of our farmhouse, the partitions of which had been removed for the convenience of stowage, was crowded to excess. In a moment every man was on his legs: swords, spears, and krisses dimly glittered over our heads. It is impossible to describe the excitement and confusion of the succeeding ten minutes: one and all believed that we had been surrounded by the enemy, and cut off from our main party. I had already thrust the muzzle of my pistol close to the heads of several natives, whom, in the confusion, I had mistaken for Sakarrans; and as each in his turn called out " Tiga," I withdrew my weapon to apply it to somebody else: until at last, we found that we were all "Tigas." I had prevented Eager, more than once, from sounding the alarm, which, from the first, he had not ceased to press me for permission to do. The Dyak yell had, however, succeeded in throwing the whole force afloat into a similar confusion, and not hearing the signal, they concluded that they, and not we, were the party attacked. The real cause we afterwards ascertained to have arisen from the alarm of a Dyak, who dreamt, or imagined, that he felt a spear thrust upwards through the bamboo-flooring of our building, and immediately gave his diabolical yell. The confusion was ten times as much as it would have been had the enemy really been there. So ended the- adventures of the night in the wild jungle of Borneo.*-*

Pursuit of the Pirate Leader Seriff Muller

Henry Keppel wrote in “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy”: At daylight we were joined by Lieutenant Wade and Mr. Brooke — their division making a very acceptable increase to our force — and by 8 o'clock the last barrier was cut through between us and Seriff Muller's devoted town. With the exception of his own house, from which some eight or nine Malays were endeavouring to move his effects, the whole place was deserted. They made no fight; and an hour afterwards the town had been plundered and burnt. The only lives lost were a few unfortunates, who happened to come within range of our musketry in their exertions to save some of their master's property. A handsome large boat, belonging to that chief, was the only thing saved; and this I presented to Budrudeen. After a short delay in catching our usual supply of goats and poultry, with which the place abounded, we proceeded up the river in chase of the chief and his people; and here again we had to encounter the same obstacle presented by the felled trees thrown across the river — if possible of increased difficulty, owing to their greater size and the narrow breadth of the stream; but although delayed, we were not to be beaten. We ascertained that the pirates had retreated to a Dyak village, situated on the summit of a hill, some twenty-five miles higher up the Undop, five or six miles only of which we had succeeded in ascending, as a most dreary and rainy night closed in, during which we were joined by Mr. D'Aeth and his division from the Lupar river. [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

“The following morning, the 13th of August, at daybreak, we again commenced our toilsome work. With the gig and the lighter boats we succeeded better; and I should have despaired of the heavier boats ever getting up, had they not been assisted by an opportune and sudden rise of the tide, to the extent of twelve or fourteen feet, though with this we had to contend against a considerably increased strength of current. It was on this day that my ever-active and zealous first lieutenant, Charles Wade, jealous of the advanced position of our light boats, obtained a place in my gig. That evening the Phlegethon's first and second cutters, the Dido's - two cutters, and their gigs, were fortunate enough to pass a barrier composed of trees (evidently but recently felled; from which we concluded ourselves to be so near the enemy that, by pushing forward as long as we could possibly see, we might prevent further impediments from being thrown in our way. This we did; but at 9 p.m. arriving at a broad expanse of the river, and being utterly unable to trace our course, we anchored our advanced force for the night.*-*

“On Wednesday, 14th, we again pushed on at daylight. We had gained information of two landing-places leading to the Dyak village on the hill, round three-fourths of the foot of which the Undop flowed. The first landing-place we had no trouble in discovering, from the number of deserted boats collected near it. Leaving these to be looted by our followers, we proceeded in search of the second, which we understood was situated more immediately under the village, and which, having advanced without our guides, we had much difficulty in finding. The circuit of the base of the hill was above five miles. In traversing this distance, we had repeated skirmishing with straggling boats of the enemy, upon whom we came unexpectedly. During this warfare, Patingi Ali, who, with hisusual zeal, had here come up, bringing a considerable native force of both Malays and Dyaks, was particularly on the alert; and while we in the gig attacked the large war-prahu of Seriff Muller himself — the resistance of whose followers was only the discharge of their muskets, after which they threw themselves into the river, part only effecting their escape— the Patingi nearly succeeded in capturing that chief in person. He had escaped from his prahu into a remarkably beautiful and fast-pulling sampan, in which he was chased by old Ali, and afterwards only saved his life by throwing himself into the water, and swimming to the jungle; and it was with no small pride that the gallant old chief appropriated the boat to his own use. In the prahu were captured two large brass guns, two smaller ones, a variety of small arms, ammunition, provisions, colours, and personal property, amongst which were also two pair of handsome jars of English manufacture. After this, having proceeded some considerable distance without finding the second landing-place, we put in close to a clear green spot, with the intention of getting our breakfasts, and of waiting the arrival of the other boat with the guides.*-*

Fierce Fighting with Pirates Under Seriff Muller

Henry Keppel wrote in “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy”: While our crew were busily employed cooking, Lieutenant Wade and myself fancied we heard the suppressed voices of many people not far distant, and taking up our guns we crept into the jungle. We had not penetrated many yards before I came in sight of a mass of boats concealed in a snug little inlet, the entrance to which had escaped our notice. These were filled with the piratical Dyaks and Malays, and on shore at various points were placed armed sentinels. My first impulse was to conceal ourselves until the arrival of our force; but my rash, though gallant friend deemed otherwise; and without noticing the caution of my upheld hand, dashed in advance, discharging his gun, and calling upon our men to follow. It is impossible to conceive the consternation and confusion this our sudden sally occasioned among the pirates. The confused noise and scrambling from their boats I can only liken to that of a suddenly-roused flock of wild ducks. Our attack from the point whence it came was evidently unexpected; and it is my opinion that they calculated on our attacking the hill, if we did so at all, from the nearest landing-place, without pulling round the other five miles, as the whole attention of their scouts appeared to be directed towards that quarter. A short distance above them was a small encampment, probably erected for the convenience of their chiefs, as in it we found writing materials, two or three desks of English manufacture, on the brass plate of one of which, I afterwards noticed, was engraved the name of "Mr. Wilson." To return to the pirates: with our force, such as it was — nine in number — and headed by Lieutenant Wade, we pursued our terrified enemy, who had not the sense or courage to rally in their judiciously selected and naturally protected encampment, but continued their retreat (firing on us from the jungle) towards the Dyak village on the summit of the hill. [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

“We here collected our force, reloaded our firearms; and Lieutenant Wade, seeing from this spot the arrival at the landing-place of the other boats, again rushed on in pursuit. Before arriving at the foot of the steep ascent on the summit of which the before-mentioned Dyak village stood, we had to cross a small open space of about sixty yards, exposed to the fire from the village as well as the surrounding jungle. It was before crossing this plain that I again cautioned my gallant friend to await the arrival of his men, of whom he was far in advance; and almost immediately afterwards he fell mortally wounded at my feet, having been struck by two rifle-shots, and died instantaneously. I remained with the body until our men came up, and giving it in charge, we carried the place on the height without a check or further accident. The Dyak village we now occupied I would have spared, as on no occasion had we noticed any of the tribe fighting against us; but it was by shot fired from it that poor Wade was killed, and the work of destruction commenced simultaneously with the arrival of our men. It was most gratifying to me throughout the expedition to observe the friendly rivalry and emulation between the crews of the Phlegethon and the Dido's boats. On this occasion the former had the glory of first gaining the height; and one of the officers of the former, Mr. Simpson, wounded, with a pistol-shot, a man armed with a rifle, supposed to have been the person who had slain our first-lieutenant.*-*

“I may here narrate a circumstance, from which one may judge of the natural kind-heartedness of my lamented friend. During the heat of the pursuit, although too anxious to advance to await the arrival of his men, he nevertheless found time to conceal in a place of security a poor terrified Malay girl whom he overtook, and who, by an imploring look, touched his heart. The village and the piratical boats destroyed, and the excitement over, we had time to reflect on the loss we had sustained of one so generally beloved as the leader of the expedition had been among us all. 1 Having laid the body in a canoe, with the Bri tish union-jack for a pall, we commenced our descent of the river with very different spirits from those with which we had ascended only a few hours before. In the evening, with our whole force assembled, we performed the last sad ceremony of committing the body to the deep, with all the honours that time and circumstance would allow. I read that beautiful, impressive service from a Prayer-book, the only one, by the by, in the expedition, which he himself had brought, as he said, "in case of accident."

“Before we again got under weigh, several Malay families, no longer in dread of their piratical chief, Seriff Muller, who had fled nobody knew whither, gave themselves up to us as prisoners, trusting to the mercy of a white man; the first instance of any of them having done so. We heard, also, that Macota had retreated with the Seriff; and on examination we found the papers captured in the encampment belonged to them, exposing several deep intrigues and false statements addressed to the Sultan, the purport of which was to impress his mind with the belief of a hostile intention on the part of the British government towards his country. We brought-up for the night off the still-burning ruins of Seriff Mullens town.*-*

Pursuing the Pirates Under Seriff Muller in the Jungle

Henry Keppel wrote in “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy”: On Thursday the 15th we again reached the steamer. We found her prepared for action, having been much annoyed during the night by the continued Dyak war-yells — sounds, to uninitiated ears, as unpleasant as those of musketry. Having driven away the two principal instigators and abettors of all the piracies committed along the coast of Borneo and elsewhere, and destroyed their strongholds, it now remained for us to punish the pirates themselves as far as lay in our power. The Sakarran Dyaks being the only ones now remaining who had not received convincing proofs that their brutal and inhuman trade would be no longer allowed, the 15th and 16th were passed on board the steamer, to rest the men after the severe fatigue encountered up the Undop, and in making preparations for an advance up the Sakarran. During the night of the 16th several of our native followers were wounded. Their boats not being furnished with anchors, and the river being deep, they were obliged to make fast to the bank, which in the dark afforded great facility for the enemy to creep down through the jungle unperceived, so close as to fire a shot and even thrust their spears through the thin matcovering of the boats. One poor fellow received , a shot in his lungs, from which # he died the following day; a Dyak likewise died from a spearwound; and in the morning we witnessed the pile forming for burning the Dyak, and the coffin making for conveying the body of the Malay to Sarawak, his native place; both parties having an equal horror of their dead falling into the hands of the enemy, although differing in their mode of disposing of them. [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

“On Saturday, the 17th, the expedition, consisting of the Dido's pinnace, her two cutters and gig, the Jolly Bachelor, and the Phlegethon's first and second cutters and gig, started up the Sakarran. A small division of light native boats, under the command of the brave old Patingi Ali, were selected to keep as a reconnoitring party with our leading boats, while the remaining native force, of above thirty boats, followed as a reserve. We advanced the first day some twenty miles without so much as seeing a native, although our progress was considerably delayed by stopping to burn farmhouses, and a number of war-prahus found concealed in the jungle or long grass on either side of the river. We brought up early in the afternoon, for the purpose of strongly fortifying ourselves, both ashore and afloat, against surprise before the night set in, by which time it would have taken a well-disciplined and powerful force to have dislodged us.*-*

“This evening we had unusually fine weather; and we squatted down to our meal of curry and rice with better appetites and higher spirits than we had done for some days. We advanced the following day: and although we reached several villages, the grain had been removed from them all; which, in all probability, was done immediately upon their hearing of the fall of their supposed impregnable Patusen. In the evening we took the same precautions as on the preceding night, considering that our enemies were not to be despised. Owing to heavy rains which fell during the night, and caused a strong current, our progress was considerably retarded. The scenery was beautiful — more so than in any of the rivers we had yet visited. We likewise now repeatedly fell in with small detachments of the enemy, and spears were thrown from the banks, which added considerably to our excitement and amusement. On every point we found the remains of the preceding night's watch-fires, so that news of our approach would have been conveyed rapidly along. While leading in the gig with a select few of our followers, we came suddenly on a boat full of warriors, all gorgeously dressed, and apparently perfectly unconscious of our approach. The discharge of our muskets and the capsizing of their war-boat was the work of an instant; but most of their crew saved their lives by escaping into the jungle.*-*

“This evening, Sunday, the 18th, we experienced some difficulty in finding a suitable place for our bivouac. While examining the most eligiblelooking spot on the bank of the river, the crew of one of the Phlegethon's boats, having crept up the opposite bank, came suddenly on a party of Dyaks, who saluted them with a war-yell and a shower of spears; and it was absurd to see the way in which they precipitated themselves into the water again to escape from this unexpected danger. The Dyaks, too, appear to have been equally surprised. The place we selected for the night was a large house about forty yards from the edge of the river; and for a musket-range around which we had not much difficulty in clearing the ground. Here we all united our different messes, and passed a jovial evening. The night, however, set in with a most fearful thunder-storm, accompanied by the most vivid flashes of lightning I ever witnessed. The rain continued to fall in torrents: it cleared up at daylight, when we proceeded. As yet the banks of the river had been a continued garden, with sugar-cane plantations and banana-trees in abundance. As we advanced, the scenery assumed a wilder and still more beautiful appearance, presenting high steep points, with large overhanging trees, and occasionally forming into pretty picturesque bays, with sloping banks. At other times we approached narrow gorges, looking so dark that, until past, you almost doubted there being a passage through. We were in hopes that this morning we should have reached their capital, a place called Karangan, supposed to be about ten miles further on. At 9 o'clock Mr. Brooke, who was with me in the gig, stopped to breakfast with young Jenkins in the second cutter. Not expecting to meet with any opposition for some miles, I gave permission to Patingi Ali to advance cautiously with his light division, and with positive instructions to fall back upon the first appearance of any natives. As the stream was running down very strong, we held on to the bank, waiting for the arrival of the second cutter. Our pinnace and second gig having both passed up, we had remained about a quarter of an hour, when the report of a few musket-shots told us that the pirates had been fallen in with.

Defeating the Sakarran Pirates

“We immediately pushed on; and as we advanced, the increased firing from our boats, and the waryells of some thousand Dyaks, let us know that an engagement had really commenced. It would be difficult to describe the scene as I found it. About twenty boats were jammed together, forming one confused mass; some bottom up; the bows or sterns of others only visible; mixed up, pellmell, with huge rafts; and amongst which were nearly all our advanced little division. Headless trunks, as well as heads without bodies, were lying about in all directions; parties were engaged hand to hand, spearing and krissing each other; others were striving to swim for their lives; entangled in the common melee were our advanced boats; while on both banks thousands of Dyaks were rushing down to join in the slaughter, hurling their spears and stones on the boats below. For a moment I was at a loss what steps to take for rescuing our people from the embarrassed position in which they were, as the whole mass (through which there was no passage) were floating down the stream, and the addition of fresh boats arriving only increased the confusion. Fortunately, at this critical moment one of the rafts, catching the stump of a tree, broke this floating bridge, making a passage, through which (my gig being propelled by paddles instead of oars) I was enabled to pass.*-*

“It occurred to Mr. Brooke and myself simultaneously, that, by advancing in the gig, we should draw the attention of the pirates towards us, so as to give time for the other boats to clear themselves. This had the desired effect. The whole force on shore turned, as if to secure what they rashly conceived to he their prize. We now advanced mid-channel: spears and stones assailed us from both banks. My friend Brooke's gun would not go off so giving him the yoke-lines, he steered the boat, while I kept up a rapid fire, Mr. Allen, in the second gig, quickly coming up, opened upon them, from a congreverocket tube, such a destructive fire as caused them to retire panic-struck behind the temporary barriers where they had concealed themselves previous to the attack upon Patingi Ali, and from whence they continued, for some twenty minutes, to hurl their spears and other missiles. Among the latter may be mentioned short lengths of bamboo, one end heavily loaded with stone, and thrown with great force and precision and the few fire-arms of which they were possessed were of but little use to them after the first discharge, the operation of reloading, in their inexperienced hands, requiring a longer time than the hurling of some twenty spears. The sumpitan was likewise freely employed by these pirates; but although several of our men belonging to the pinnace were struck, no fatal results ensued, from the dexterous and expeditious manner in which the wounded parts were excised by Mr. Beith, the assistant-surgeon; any poison that might remain being afterwards sucked out by one of the comrades of the wounded men. As our force increased, the pirates retreated from their position, and could not again muster courage to rally. Their loss must have been considerable; ours might have been light, had poor old Patingi Ali attended to orders.*-*

“It appears that the Patingi (over-confident, and probably urged on by Mr. Steward, who, unknown to me, was concealed in Ali's boat when application was made by that chief for permission to proceed in advance for the purpose of reconnoitring), instead of falling back, as particularly directed, on the first appearance of any of the enemy, made a dash, followed by his little division of boats, through the narrow pass above described. As soon as he had done so, huge rafts of bamboo were launched across the river, so as to cut off his retreat. Six large war-prahus, probably carrying 100 men each, then bore down — three on either side — on his devoted followers; and one only of a crew of seventeen that manned his boat escaped to tell the tale. When last seen by our advanced boats, 1 Mr. Steward and Patingi Ali were in the act (their own boats sinking) of boarding the enemy. They were doubtless overpowered and killed, with twenty-nine others, who lost their lives on this occasion. Our wounded in all amounted to fiftysix.*-*

“A few miles higher up was the town and capital of Karangan, which place it was their business to defend, and ours to destroy, and this we succeeded in effecting without further opposition. We ascended a short distance above this, hut found the river impracticable for the further progress of the boats; but our object having been achieved, the expedition may be said to have closed, as no more resistance was offered; so we dropped leisurely down the river, and that evening reached our resting-place of the previous night: but having burnt the house in the morning, we were obliged to sleep in our boats, with a strong guard on shore.*-*

“Attempts were made to molest the native boats by hurling spears into them from the jungle under cover of the night but after a few discharges of musketry the enemy retired, leaving us to enjoy another stormy and rainy night as we best could. On the 20th we reached the steamer, where we remained quiet all the next day, attending to the wounded, and ascertaining the exact extent of our loss. On the 22d we again reached Patusen. We found every thing in the same wretched state as when we left; and a pile of firewood, previously cut for the use of the steamer, had not been removed. After dark a storm of thunder, lightning, and heavy rain, came on as usual, and with it a few mishaps. A boat belonging to the old Tumangong was capsized by the bore, by which his plunder, including a large brass gun, was lost, and the crew with difficulty saved their lives. At eight we heard the report of a gun, which was again repeated much nearer at nine; and before a signal-rocket could be fired, or a light shewn, we were astonished by being hailed by the boats of a British man-of-war; and the next moment Captain Sir E. Belcher, having been assisted by a rapid tide, came alongside the steamer with the welcome news of having brought our May letters from England. On the arrival of the Samarang off the Morotaba, Sir Edward heard of the loss we had sustained; and, with his usual zeal and activity, came at once to our assistance, having brought his boats no less than 120 miles in about thirty hours. At the moment of his joining us, our second mishap occurred. The night, a$ previously mentioned, was pitch dark, and a rapid current running, when the cry of " a man overboard" caused a sensation difficult to describe.*-*

“All available boats were immediately despatched in search; and soon afterwards we were cheered by the sound of " all right." It appears that the news of the arrival of the mail was not long in spreading throughout our little fleet, when Mr. D'Aeth, leaving the first cutter in a small sampan, capsized in coming alongside the steamer; the man in the bow (who composed the crew) saved himself by catching hold of the nearest boat; Mr. D'Aeth would have been drowned had. he not been an excellent swimmer. This was not the last of our mishaps; for we had no sooner arranged ourselves and newly-arrived visitors from the Samarang. comfortably on board the steamer from the pelting rain, than the accustomed and quick ear of Mr. Brooke heard the cry of natives in distress. Jumping into his Singapore sampan, he pushed off to their assistance, and returned shortly afterwards, having picked up three, halfdrowned, of our Dyak followers, whom he had found clinging to the floating trunk of a tree. They too had heen capsized by the bore; when, out of eleven composing the crew, only these three were saved — although the Dyaks are invariably expert swimmers.*-*

“On the 23d, after waiting to obtain meridian observations, we moved down as far as the mouth of the river Linga, and then despatched one of our Malay chiefs to the town of Bunting, to summon Seriff Jaffer to a conference. This, however, he declined on a plea of ill health, sending assurance, at the same time, of his good-will, and inclination to assist us in our endeavours to suppress piracy.*-*

Making Peace with the Sakarran Pirates

Henry Keppel wrote in “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy”: On the night of the 24th, we once again reached Sarawak, where the rejoicings of the previous year, when we returned from a successful expedition, were repeated. On the third evening after our return, we were just settling down to enjoy a little rest, having got our sick and wounded into comfortable quarters, and were beginning heartily to indulge in the comforts of a bed after our fatigue and harassing duties in open boats during the previous three weeks, when information arrived that Seriff Sahib had taken refuge in the Linga river, where, assisted by Seriff Jaffer, he was again collecting his followers. No time was to be lost; and on the 28th, with the addition of the Samarang's boats, we once more started, to crush, if possible, this persevering and desperate pirate; and, in the middle of the night, came to an anchor inside the Linga river. [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

“When our expedition had been watched safely outside the Batang Lupar, on its return to Sarawak, all those unfortunate families that had concealed themselves in the jungle, after the destruction of the different towns of Patusen and Undop, had emerged from their hiding-places, and, embarking on rafts, half-ruined boats, or, in short, any things that would float, were in the act of tiding and working their passage towards the extensive and flourishing town of Bunting. Their dismay can well be imagined, when, at daylight on the morning of the 29th, they found themselves carried by the tide close alongside the long black terror-spreading steamer, and in the midst of our augmented fleet. Escape to them was next to hopeless nor did the softer sex seem much to mind the change — probably thinking that to be swallowed up by the white man was not much worse than dying in the jungle of starvation. I need not say that, instead of being molested, they were supplied with such provisions and assistance as our means would permit us to afford, and then allowed to pass quietly on; in addition to which we despatched several of our native followers into the Batang Lupar, to inform the poor fugitives that our business was with the chiefs and instigators of piracy, and not to molest the misguided natives.*-*

“With the ebb-tide a large number of boats came down from the town — the news of our arrival having reached them during the night — containing the principal chiefs, with assurances of their pacific intentions, and welcoming us with presents of poultry, goats, fruit, &c, which we received, paying the fair market-price for them, either by way of barter or in hard dollars. They assured us that Seriff Sahib should not be received among them and but that they had heard of his having arrived at Pontranini, on a small tributary stream some fifty miles above their town. We immediately decided on proceeding in pursuit before he could have time to establish himself in any force. It was also evident that the Balow Dyaks, who inhabit this part of the country, were decidedly in favour of our operations against Seriff Sahib, although afraid — on account of Seriff Jaffer and his Malays — to express their opinions openly. We also ascertained that Macota, with a remnant of his followers, was hourly expected in the mouth of the river, from the jungle, into which he had been driven during the fight on the Undop heights. Knowing that it would fare badly with this trea cherous and cunning, although now harmless chief, should he fall into the hands of any of our native followers, I despatched two boats to look out for and bring him to us alive. This they succeeded in doing, securing him in a deep muddy jungle, into which he had thrown himself upon perceiving the approach of our men. Leaving him a prisoner on board the Phlegethon, we, with the flood-tide, pushed forward in pursuit of Seriff Sahib.*-*

“For two days we persevered in dragging our boats, for the distance of twenty miles, up a small jungly creek, which, to all appearance, was impassable for any thing but canoes. But it had the desired effect, proving to the natives what determination could achieve in accomplishing our object, even beyond the hopes of our sanguine Balow Dyak guides. The consequence was, that Seriff Sahib made a final and precipitate retreat, across the mountains, in the direction of the Fontiana river. So close were we on his rear — harassed as he was by the Balow Dyaks, who had refused him common means of subsistence — that he threw away his sword, and left behind him a child whom he had hitherto' carried in the jungle and this oncedreaded chief was now driven, single and unattended, out of the reach of doing any further mischief.*-*

“The boats returned, and took up a formidable position off the town of Bunting, where we sum- moned Seriff Jaffer to a conference. To this he was obliged to attend, as the natives had learnt that we were not to he trifled with, and would have forced him on board rather than have permitted their village to be destroyed. With Pangeran Budrudeen, acting as the representative of the Sultan, Seriff Jaffer was obliged to resign all pretensions to the government of the province over which he had hitherto held sway, since it was considered, from his being a Malay and from his relationship to Seriff Sahib, that he was an unsafe person to be entrusted with so important a post.*-*

“A second conference on shore took plaxse, at which the chiefs of all the surrounding country attended, when the above sentence was confirmed. On this occasion I had the satisfaction of witnessing what must have been — from the effect I observed it to have produced on the hearers — a fine piece of oratory, delivered by Mr. Brooke in the native tongue, with a degree of fluency I had never witnessed before, even in a Malay. The purport of it, as I understood, was, to point out emphatically the horrors of piracy on the one hand, which it was the determination of the British government to suppress, and on the other hand, the blessings arising from peace and trade, which it was equally our wish to cultivate; and it concluded by fully explaining, that the measures lately adopted by us against piracy were for the protection of all the peaceful communities along the From these people many assurances were received of their anxiety and willingness to co-operate with us in our laudable undertaking; and one and all were alike urgent that the government of their river should be transferred to the English. On the 4th September, the force again reached Sarawak; and thus terminated a most successful expedition against the worst pirates on the coast of Borneo.*-*

Piracy of Seriff Houseman

James Brooke wrote in his journal in “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy”: "The next pirate horde we meet with is a mixed community of Illanuns and Badjows (or sea-gipsies) located at Tampasuk, a few miles up a small river; they are not formidable in number, and their depredations are chiefly committed on the Spanish territory; their market, until recently, being Bruni, or Borneo Proper. They might readily be dispersed and driven back to their own country; and the Dusuns, or villagers (as the name ' signifies), might be protected and encouraged. Seriff Houseman, a half-bred Arab, is located in Maludu Bay, and has, by account, from fifteen hundred to two thousand men with him. He is beyond doubt a pirate direct and indirect, and occasionally commands excursions in person, or employs the Illanuns of Tampasuk, and others to the eastward, who for their own convenience make common cause with him. He has no pretension to the territory he occupies; and the authority he exerts (by means of his piratical force) over the interior tribes in his vicinity, and on the island of Palawan, is of the worst and most oppressive description. This Seriff has probably never come in contact with any Europeans, and consequently openly professes to hold their power in scorn. [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

“To my own knowledge Seriff Houseman seized and sold into slavery a boat's crew (about twenty men) of the Sultana, a merchant ship, which was burned in the Palawan passage. Within the last few months he has plundered and burned an European vessel stranded near the Mangsi Isles; and to shew his entire independence of control, his contempt for European power, and his determination to continue in his present course, he has threatened to attack the city of Bruni, in consequence of the Bruni government having entered into a treaty with her Majesty's government for the discouragement and suppression of piracy. This fact speaks volumes; an old-established and recognised Malay government is to be attacked by a lawless adventurer, who has seized on a portion of its territory, and lives by piracy, for venturing to treat with a foreign power for the best purposes. If any further proof of piracy were requisite, it would readily be established by numerous witnesses (themselves the victims), and by the most solemn declaration of the Bruni authorities, that peaceful traders on the high seas have been stopped by the prahus of this Seriff and his allies, their vessels seized, their property plundered, and their persons enslaved: numerous witnesses could attest their having been reduced to slavery and detained in the very household of Seriff Houseman I When, however, the facts of his having sold into slavery the crew of a British vessel (which has been established before the Singapore authorities) come to be known, I conceive every other proof of the character of this person is completely superfluous.*-*

“The indirect piracy of Seriff Houseman is even more mischievous than what is directly committed; for he supplies the Balagnini (a restless piratical tribe, hereafter to be mentioned) with food, powder, arms, salt, &c. under the agreement that they pay him on their return from the cruise, at the rate of five slaves for every 100 rupees worth of goods. The Balagnini are in consequence enabled, through his assistance, to pirate effectively, which otherwise they would not be able to do; as, from their locality, they would find it difficult to obtain fire-arms and gunpowder. The most detestable part of this traffic, however, is Seriff Houseman selling, in cold blood, such of these slaves as are Borneons to Pangeran Usop, of Bruni, for 100 rupees for each slave, and Pangeran Usop re-selling each for 200 rupees to their relations in Bruni. Thus this vile Seriff (without taking into account the enormous prices charged for his goods in the first instance) gains 500 percent for every slave, and Pangeran Usop clears 100 percent on the flesh of his own countrymen, thereby de facto becoming a party to piracy, though doubtless veiled under the guise of compassion.*-*

“More might be added on the subject of the piracies committed by this Seriff; and it could easily be shewn that the evils accruing from them affect not only the peaceful trader, but extend to the peaceful agriculturist; but, for the sake of brevity, I deem it sufficient to add, that he exercises the same malign influence on the north coast as Seriff Sahib exercised on the north-west; and that, having surrounded himself by a body of pirates, he arrogates the rights of sovereignty, defies European power, contemns every right principle, and threatens the recognised and legitimate governments of the Archipelago.*-*

“The Balagnini inhabit a cluster of small islands somewhere in the vicinity of Sooloo; they are of the Badjow or sea-gipsy tribe, a wandering race, whose original country has never been ascertained. At present, as far as I can learn, they are not dependent on Sooloo, though it is probable they may be encouraged by some of the Rajahs of that place, and that they find a slavemarket there.*-*

“The Balagnini cruise in large prahus, and to each prahu a fleet sampan is attached, which, on occasion, can carry from ten to fifteen men. They seldom carry large guns, like the Illanuns, but, in addition to their other arms, big lelas (brass pieces, carrying from a one to a three-pound ball), spears, swords, &c. They use long poles with barbed iron points, with which, during an engagement or flight, they hook their prey. By means of the fleet sampans already mentioned, they are able to capture all small boats; and it is a favourite device with them to disguise one or two men, whilst the rest lie concealed in the bottom of the boat, and thus to surprise prahus at sea, and fishermen or others at the mouths of rivers. By being disguised as Chinese they have carried off numbers of that nation from the Sambas and Pontiana rivers. The cruisinggrounds of these pirates are very extensive; they frequently make the circuit of Borneo, proceed as far as the south of Celebes; and in the other direction have been met off Tringanu, Calantan, and Patani. Gillolo and the Moluccas lie within easy range, and it is probable that Papua is occasionally visited by them. It will readily be conceived how harassing to trade must be the continued depredations of the Balagnini pirates, and more especially to the trade of Bruni, which seems, from the unwarlike habits of the natives, the chosen field of their operations. The number of Borneons yearly taken into slavery is very considerable, as a fleet of six or eight boats usually hangs about the island of Labuan, to cut off the trade, and to catch the inhabitants of the city. The Borneons, from being so harassed by these pirates, call the easterly wind ' the pirate wind. The Balagnini commence cruising on the north- west coast about the middle of March; and return, or remove to the eastern side of the island, about the end of November.*-*

“Of Magindano, or Mindanao, we are at the present time very ignorant; but we know that the inhabitants are warlike and numerous, and that that part of the island called Illanun Bay sends forth the most daring pirates of the Archipelago. The first step requisite is, to gain more information concerning them — to form an acquaintance with some of their better-disposed chiefs — and subsequently we might act against them with a suitable force; but it would be rash and premature, in the present state of our knowledge, to come in contact with them in their own country. On one occasion I met eighteen Illanun boats on neutral ground, and learned from their two chiefs that they had been two years absent from home; and from the Papuan negro-slaves on board, it was evident that their cruise had extended from the most eastern islands of the Archipelago to the north-western coast of Borneo.*-*

James Brookes on How to Handle Piracy in Malaysia and Borneo

James Brooke wrote in his journal in “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy”: " Having now enumerated the pirates I have become acquainted with since my residence in Sarawak, I shall proceed to offer an opinion on the best mode for the suppression of piracy in these seas. "In the first place, a blow should be struck at the piratical communities with which we are already acquainted, and struck with a force which should convince all other pirates of the hopelessness of resistance; subsequently the recognised Malay governments may be detached from all communication with pirates and, joining conciliation with punishment, laying down the broad distinction of piracy and no piracy, we may foster those who abandon their evil habits, and punish those who adhere to them. [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

" A system of supervision will, however, be necessary to carry out these measures: our knowledge of the native states must be improved; and as we become able to discriminate between the good and the bad, our sphere of action may be enlarged, and we may act with decision against all descriptions of pirates against the indirect as well as the direct pirate; against the receiver of stolen goods as well as the thief; and against the promoter as well as the actual perpetrator of piracy.*-*

“I would especially urge that, to eradicate the evil, the pirate-haunts must be burned and destroyed, and the communities dispersed; for merely to cruise against pirate-prahus, and to forbear attacking them until we see them commit a piracy, is a hopeless and an endless task, harassing to our men, and can be attended with but very partial and occasional success; whereas, on the contrary principle, what pirate would venture to pursue his vocation if his home be endangered — if he be made to feel in his own person the very ills he inflicts upon others?

"A question may arise as to what constitutes piracy; and whether, in our efforts to suppress it, we may not he interfering with the right of native states to war one upon another. On the first point, it appears clear to me, that the plunder or seizure of a peaceful and lawful trader on the high seas constitutes an act of piracy, without any reference to the nation or colour of the injured party; for if we limit our construction of piracy, we shall, in most cases, he in want of sufficient evidence to convict, and the whole native trade of the Archipelago will be left at the mercy of pirates, much to the injury of our own commerce and of our settlement of Singapore.*-*

“On the second point, we can only concede the right of war to recognised states; and even then we must carefully avoid introducing the refinements of European international law amongst a rude and semi-civilised people, who will make our delicacy a cloak for crime, and declare war merely for the sake of committing piracy with impunity. On the contrary, all chiefs who have seized on territory and arrogate independence (making this independence a plea for piracy) can never he allowed the right of declaring war, or entering on hostilities with their neighbours for, as I have before remarked, all native trade must in that case be at an end, as the piratical chiefs, no longer in dread of punishment from European powers, would doubtless declare war against every unwarlike native state which they did not need as a market for the sale of their slaves and plunder.*-*

“Practically acting, however, on the broad principle, that the seizure of any lawful trader constitutes piracy, I consider no injustice could be done to the native states, and no interference occur with their acknowledged rights; for in practice it would be easy to discriminate a war between native nations from the piracies of lawless hordes of men; and without some such general principle, no executive officer could act with the requisite decision and promptitude to ensure the eradication of this great evil.*-*

“With a post such as is proposed to be established, our measures for the suppression of piracy (after the punishment of Seriff Houseman and the Balagnini) would advance step by step, as our knowledge increased, and with alternate conciliation and severity, as the case might require. By detaching the recognised governments from the practice, and gradually forming amongst the chief men a friendly and English party opposed to piracy, we should, I doubt not, speedily obtain our principal object of clearing the sea of marauders, and ultimately correct the natural propensity of the natives for piracy.*-*

“In order to extend our commerce in these seas generally, and more particularly on the n.w. coast of Borneo, it is requisite, 1st, that piracy be suppressed; 2ndly, that the native governments be set-tied, so as to afford protection to the poorer and producing classes; and, 3rdly, that our knowledge of the interior should be extended, and our intercourse with the various tribes more frequent.*-*

“The slightest acquaintance with the north-west coast of Borneo would convince any observer of the ease with which these objects might be effected; for the native government, being in a state of decadence, requires protection, and would willingly act justly towards traders and capitalists, and encourage their enterprises, in order to continue on friendly terms with any European power located in their vicinity. The numerous rivers on the coast, with their local rulers, are harassed by the demands of every petty Pangeran; and whilst the sovereign is defrauded of his revenue, which the people would cheerfully pay, and his territory ruined, this host of useless retainers (acting always in his name) gain but very slight personal profits to counterbalance all the mischief they do.*-*

“The principal feature is the weakness of the governments, both of the capital and its dependencies; and in consequence of this weakness there is a strong desire for European protection, for European enterprise, and for any change effected by Europeans. Supposing Labuan to be taken as a naval post, I consider that European capital might with safety be employed in Bruni. In the rivers contiguous to Sarawak, the presence of Europeans would be hailed with joy, not only by the Dyaks, but by the Malays; and subsequently it would depend on their own conduct to what degree they retained the good will of the natives.*-*

Return of the Pirates to Borneo

The Postscript of the “Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido for the Suppression of Piracy” reported: June 6th, 1846. In the foregoing remarks with which I closed the first edition of this book, I ventured to congratulate the public on the cheerful aspect of affairs in Borneo at the latest period of which accounts had then reached me. I could then say with a joyful heart, " Thus far all is well and as it should be, and promising the happiest issue." But now I must write in a different strain. The mischiefs I pointed out above as likely to ensue from a desultory and intermittent mode of dealing with Malay piracy have revealed themselves even sooner and in a more formidable manner than I had anticipated. The weak and covetous Sultan of Borneo has, with more than the usual fickleness of Asiatics, already forgotten the lessons we gave him and the engagements he solemnly and voluntarily contracted with us. Mr. Brooke's faithful friends, Muda Hassim and the Pangeran Budrudeen, with numbers of their families and retainers, have been basely murdered by their treacherous kinsman, because of their attachment to the English, and their unswerving determination to put down piracy; and what is worst of all, Mr, Brooke's arch-enemy, the subtle and indefatigable villain Macota, the man whose accursed head was thrice saved by my too-generous friend, has now returned triumphantly to the scene of his former crimes, and is commissioned by the Sultan to take Mr. Brooke's life by poison, or by any other of those treacherous arts in which there is no more consummate adept than Macota. I could trust securely to Mr. Brooke's gallantry and skill for the protection of his life against the attacks of open foes; and my only fears arise when I reflect on his utter insensibility to danger, and think how the admirable qualities of his own guileless confiding nature may facilitate the designs of his enemies. [Source: “The Expedition to Borneo of H.M.S. Dido For the Suppression of Piracy” by Henry Keppel and James Brooke (1847)*-*]

The Rajah Muda Hassim was raised by the Sultan to the title of Sultan Muda (or young Sultan), and, together with his brothers and followers, was living in security, when he was at- tacked by orders of the Sultan at night, and, together with thirteen of his family, killed, in different places. Four brothers, viz. Pangeran Muda Mahomed, Pangeran Abdul Kader, Pangeran Abdulraman, and Pangeran Mesahat, together with several young children of the Rajah Muda Hassim, alone survive. The deponent Japper was in attendance on his lord, the Pangeran Budrudeen, at the time of the attack. The Pangeran, though surprised by his enemies, fought for some time, and when desperately wounded, retired outside his house with his sister and another woman named Koor Salem. The deponent was there and was wounded, as were both the women. The Pangeran Budrudeen ordered deponent to open a keg or cask of gunpowder, which he did; and the last thing his lord did was to take his ring from his finger and desire the deponent to carry it to Mr. Brooke; to bid Mr. Brooke not to forget him, and not to forget to lay his case before the Queen of England. The deponent then quitted his lord, who was with the two women, and immediately after his lord fired the powder, and the three were blown up. The deponent escaped with difficulty; and a few days afterwards, the ring entrusted to his charge was taken from him by the Sultan. The Sultan and those with him killed the Rajah Muda Hassim and his family, because he was the friend of the English, and wanted to suppress piracy. The Sultan has now built forts and defied the English. He talked openly of cutting out any vessel that arrived; and two Pangerans went down, bearing the flag of the Rajah Muda Hassim, to look at the vessel, and to kill the captain if they could get him ashore. The deponent had great difficulty in getting to the ship; and should his flight be discovered, he considers the lives of the surviving portion of the Rajah Muda Hassim's family will be in danger. The deponent did what he was ordered, and what his late lord the Pangeran Budrudeen desired him to do. The Sultan had a man ready to send, named Nakodah Kolala, to Kaluka, to request that Pangeran Macota would kill Mr. Brooke by treachery or poison. Having put Mr. Brooke on his guard, the Hazard proceeded to Singapore, whence the H. E. I. C. war-steamer Phlegethon would be immediately despatched to Sarawak. “ *-*

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Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board, 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, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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