Some Account of the Governments of Amboina, Banda, Macasser, the Moluccas, Mallacca, and the Cape of Good Hope.
The third government under the East India Company is that of Amboina, one of the Molucca islands, which was formerly the seat of the governor-general till the building of Batavia, when it was transferred there on account of its advantageous situation, in the centre of the company’s trade and settlements, while Amboina lay too far to the east. The island of Java also is vastly more fertile than Amboina, producing all the necessaries of life in abundance, so that it has no dependence for provisions on any other country, while they had provisions to search for in all other places, at the time when the government was established at Amboina. This island is one of the largest of the Moluccas, being situated in the Archipelago of St Lazarus, in lat. 3 40’ S. and long. 128 deg. 30’ E. 21 deg. 30’ or 430 marine leagues east from Batavia. It was conquered in 1519 by the Portuguese, who built a fort there to keep the inhabitants under subjection, and to facilitate the conquest of all the adjacent islands. This fort was taken by the Dutch in 1605, but they did not entirely reduce the whole island of Amboina and the neighbouring islands till 1627, by which conquest they acquired entire possession of the clove trade, whence these islands are termed the gold-mine of the company, owing to the vast profit they draw from them, and it is so far superior to other gold-mines, that there is no fear of these islands being ever exhausted of that commodity. A pound weight of cloves or nutmegs, for the company has the entire monopoly of both, does not in fact cost the company much more than a half-penny, and every one knows at what rate the spices are sold in Europe. Amboina is the centre of all this rich commerce; and to keep it more effectually in the hands of the company, all the clove-trees in the other islands are grubbed up and destroyed; and sometimes, when the harvest is very large at Amboina, a part even of its superfluous produce is burnt.
This valuable spice grows only in Amboina and the other five Molucca islands, and in the islands of Meao, Cinomo, Cabel, and Marigoran. The Indians call cloves calafoor, while the inhabitants of the Moluccas call them chinke. The clove-tree is much like the laurel, but its leaves are narrower, resembling those of the almond and willow. Even the wood and leaves taste almost as strong as the cloves themselves. These trees bear a great quantity of branches and flowers, and each flower produces a single clove. The flowers are at first white, then green, and at last grow red and pretty hard, and are properly the cloves. While green, their smell is sweet and comfortable, beyond all other flowers. When ripe, the cloves are of a yellow colour, but after being gathered and dried, they assume