Among the early voyages of the English to the East Indies, none have been preserved that were made to China, nor have we been able to discover any satisfactory account of the commencement of the trade of our East India Company with that distant country, now said to be by far the most profitable branch of the exclusive commerce. In the Annals of the Company, several references are made to the China trade, but more in the nature of notices or memoranda for the purpose of after investigation, than as conveying any actual information on the subject. In this singular paucity of materials, we are reduced to the following short “Observations and Remarks, by Doctor James Cunningham, made during his Residence as Physician to the English Factory at the Island of Chusan, on the Coast of China.” Doctor Cunningham is stated by Harris to have been a fellow of the Royal Society, distinguished by his natural talents and acquired accomplishments, well versed in ancient and modern learning, and to have diligently used these advantages in making judicious remarks on the places where he resided in the service of the Company. Yet all that has been recorded by Harris of these remarks, give only a very imperfect account of Chusan and of China. This short article consists of extracts from two letters written by Cunningham from Chusan, and a brief supplement by Harris respecting two unfortunate factories at Pulo Condore and Pulo Laut.—E.
[Footnote 318: Harris. I. 852.]
[Footnote 319: Annals of the E.I. Co. vol. II. and III. passim.]
Sec.1. Voyage to Chusan, and short Notices of that Island.
In my last letter, from the island of Borneo, I gave you an account of our arrival at that island on the 17th July. We only remained there two days, as the season of the year was already far advanced, and made the best of our way from thence through the Straits of Banda, with favourable winds and weather. We got upon the coast of China on the 13th August, when we had variable winds, which carried us abreast of Emoy by the 19th following. The wind then set in fresh at N.E. so that we were in great fear of losing our passage, and were now obliged to beat up all the way against both wind and current; yet the weather remained so favourable that we were never obliged to hand our top-sails, otherwise we must have lost more way in a single day than we could have recovered in eight. On the 31st August we came to anchor under the Crocodile islands, both for shelter from the bad weather, usual on this coast at new and full-moon, which has been fatal to many ships, and also to procure fresh water, now scarce with us, as we had not recruited our store since leaving the Cape of Good Hope. These are three small islands in lat. 26 deg. N. about six leagues from the river of Hokien, [Fo-kien] on two of which we found very good water, with a convenient landing-place on the S.W. side of the innermost island. By