When the Portuguese were masters of Malacca, they had no less than three churches and a chapel within the fortress, and one on the outside. That which is now used for worship by the Dutch stands conspicuously on the top of a hill, and may be seen for a great distance up or down the straits. It has a flag-staff on the top of its steeple, where a flag is always displayed on seeing a ship. The fort is large and strong. A third part of its walls is washed by the sea: A deep, narrow, and rapid river covers its western side; and all the rest is secured by a broad, deep ditch. The governor’s house is both beautiful and convenient, and there are several other good houses, both in the fort and the town. But, owing to the shallowness of the sea at this place, ships are obliged to ride above a league off, which is a great inconvenience, as the fort is of no use to defend the roads. The straits here are not above four leagues broad, and though the opposite coast of Sumatra is very low, it may easily be seen in a clear day: Hence the sea here is always quite smooth, except in squalls of wind, which are generally accompanied with thunder, lightning, and rain. These squalls, though violent, seldom last more than an hour.
The country of Malacca produces nothing for exportation, except a little tin and elephants teeth; but has several excellent fruits and roots for the use of its inhabitants, and the refreshment of strangers who navigate this way. The pine-apples of Malacca are esteemed the best in the world, as they never offend the stomach; while those of other places, if eaten in the smallest excess, are apt to occasion surfeits. The mangostein is a delicious fruit, almost in the shape of an apple. Its skin is thick and red, and when dried is an excellent astringent. The kernels, if they may be so called, are like cloves of garlic, of a most agreeable taste, but very cold. The rambostan is a fruit about the size of a walnut, with a tough skin beset with capillaments, and the pulp within is very savoury.
[Footnote 3: This uncommon word is explained by Johnson, as “small threads or hairs growing in the middle of flowers, adorned with little knobs.”—Here it may be supposed to mean that the fruit is hairy.—E.]
There is a high mountain to the N.E. of Malacca, whence several rivers descend, that of Malacca being one of them, and all these have small quantities of gold in their channels. The inland inhabitants, called Monacaboes, are a barbarous and savage people, whose chief delight is in doing injury to their neighbours. On this account, the peasantry about Malacca sow no grain, except in inclosures defended by thickset prickly hedges or deep ditches: For, when the grain is ripe in the open plains, the Monacaboes never fail to set it on fire. These inland natives are much whiter than the Malays of the lower country; and the king of Johor, whose subjects they are or ought to be, has never been able to civilize them.