A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 13 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 687 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 13.

SECTION XXXVIII.

Some Account of Batavia, and the adjacent Country; with their Fruits, Flowers, and other Productions.

Batavia, the capital of the Dutch dominions in India, and generally supposed to have no equal among all the possessions of the Europeans in Asia, is situated on the north side of the island of Java, in a low fenny plain, where several small rivers, which take their rise in the mountains called Blaeuwen Berg, about forty miles up the country, empty themselves into the sea, and where the coast forms a large bay, called the Bay of Batavia, at the distance of about eight leagues from the streight of Sunda.  It lies in latitude 6 deg. 10’ S., and longitude 106 deg. 50’ E. from the meridian of Greenwich, as appears from astronomical observations made upon the spot, by the Rev. Mr Mohr, who has built an elegant observatory, which is as well furnished with instruments as most in Europe.[129]

[Footnote 129:  Batavia, called by some writers, the Queen of the East, on account of its wealth and the beauty of its buildings, is situate very near the sea, in a fertile plain, watered by the river Jaccatra, which divides the town.  The sea-shore is on the north of the city; and on the south the land rises with a very gentle slope to the mountains, which are about fifteen leagues inland.  One of these is of great height, and is called the Blue Mountain.  The early history of this city is given in the tenth volume of the Modern Universal History, to which the reader is referred for information which it would perhaps be tedious to detail in this place.  Batavia, the reader will easily imagine, has been much impaired by the calamities of her European parent; but, indeed, for some considerable time before they commenced, she had very materially declined in consequence and power.—­E.]

The Dutch seem to have pitched upon this spot for the convenience of water-carriage, and in that it is indeed a second Holland, and superior to every other place in the world.  There are very few streets that have not a canal of considerable breadth running through them, or rather stagnating in them, and continued for several miles in almost every direction beyond the town, which is also intersected by five or six rivers, some of which are navigable thirty or forty miles up the country.[130] As the houses are large, and the streets wide, it takes up a much greater extent, in proportion to the number of houses it contains, than any city in Europe.  Valentyn, who wrote an account of it about the year 1726, says, that in his time there were, within the walls, 1242 Dutch houses, and 1200 Chinese; and without the walls, 1066 Dutch, and 1240 Chinese, besides 12 arrack houses, making in all 4760:  But this account appeared to us to be greatly exaggerated, especially with respect to the number of houses within the walls.

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