A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 08 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 655 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 08.

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Sec. 1. Description of Java, with the Manners and Customs of its Inhabitants, both Javanese and Chinese.

Java Major is an island in the East Indies, the middle of which is in long. 104 deg.  E. and in lat. 9 deg.  S.[120] It is 146 leagues long from east to west, and about 90 leagues broad from south to north.[121] The middle of the island is for the most part mountainous, yet no where so steep as to prevent the people from travelling to their tops either a-foot or on horseback.  Some inhabitants dwell on the hills nearest the sea; but in the middle of the land, so far as I could learn, there were no inhabitants; but wild beasts of several sorts, some of which come to the valleys near the sea, and devour many people.  Towards the sea the land for the most part is low and marshy, whereon stand their towns of principal trade, being mostly on the north and north-east sides of the island, as Chiringin, Bantam, Jackatra, and Jortan or Greesey.  These low lands are very unwholesome, and breed many diseases, especially among the strangers who resort thither, and yield no merchandise worth speaking of, except pepper, which has been long brought from all parts of the island to Bantam, as the chief mart or trading town of the country.  Pepper used formerly to be brought here from several other countries for sale, which is not the case now, as the Dutch trade to every place where it can be procured, and buy it up.

[Footnote 120:  The longitude of the middle of Java may be assumed at 110 deg.  E. from Greenwich, and its central latitude 7 deg. 15’ S. The western extremity is in long. 105 deg. 20’ and the eastern in 114 deg. 48’ both E. The extreme north-west point is in lat. 6 deg., the most southeastern in 8 deg. 45’, both S. It is hard to guess what Mr Scot chose as his first meridian, giving an error of excess or difference of 30 deg. from the true position; as the meridian of Ferro would only add about 18 degrees.—­E.]

[Footnote 121:  The difference of longitude in the preceding note gives 189 leagues, being 43 more than in the text, whereas its greatest breadth does not exceed 28 leagues, not a third part of what is assigned in the text.—­E.]

The town of Bantam is about three English miles long, and very populous.  It has three markets held every day, one in the forenoon and two in the afternoon.  That especially which is held in the morning abounds as much in people, and is equally crowded with many of our fairs in England; yet I never saw any cattle there for sale, as very few are bred or kept in the country.  The food of the people is almost entirely confined to rice, with some hens and fish, but not in great abundance.  All the houses are built of great canes, with a few small timbers, being very slight structures; yet in many houses of the principal people there is much good workmanship, with fine carvings and other embellishments.  Some of the chiefest have a square chamber built of brick, in a quite rude manner, no better than a brick-kiln; the only use of which is to secure their household stuff in time of fires, for they seldom or never lodge or eat in them.

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