Some Account of the Residences of Cheribon, Siam, and Mockha.
The chiefs of those factories belonging to the Dutch in India are termed Residents, and correspond directly with the governor-general at Batavia, and are not dependent on any subordinate governor or director. The first of these independent residents is fixed at Cheribon, on the coast of Java, at the distance of about forty leagues from Batavia, where a very advantageous commerce is carried on by the company in coffee, cardamoms, indigo, and cotton. The land at this place is as fertile in rice and other provisions as perhaps any country in the world. This district is of considerable extent, and was formerly under the dominion of four great lords, who used to be styled pangerans, but have now the titles of sultans, though their authority is not much extended by these more splendid titles. One of these is called the company’s sultan, because always attached to the interests of the company, though in truth they might all get the same appellation, as they are all under the protection of the company, and freed from apprehensions of the king of Bantam, who used formerly to be continually at war with them, and must have reduced them under subjection, but for the assistance of the Dutch. Since then, both from gratitude for past favours, and in expectation of future protection, they have granted great privileges to the company in their dominions. The company maintains a fort at Cheribon, with a garrison of sixty men, and has an excellent factory.
About half a league from the fort of Cheribon, the tombs of the princes of Cheribon stand in a vast temple, splendidly built of various fine kinds of stone, and are said to contain vast riches, yet are left unguarded, from an idea that they are protected by some supernatural power; and they tell strange stories of persons having dropt down dead, on approaching the places where these riches are hidden, with an intention to steal. Many people believe that the Javanese priests, who are Mahometans, have the power of causing sudden death by means of incantations; and that they are able to enchant crocodiles and serpents, causing the former to go into and out of the water at command, and the latter to remain in any posture they please. A great number of priests are maintained about this great temple, many of whom have made the pilgrimage to Mecca, and are therefore held in much veneration. These priests are all governed by a sovereign pontiff or mufti, who is even more respected than the sultans. There was formerly a considerable English factory at Cheribon, having a small town belonging to it: But the persons of the factory so provoked the people, by intriguing with their wives, that they rose one night and massacred them all. Perhaps this might have been set on foot by their Dutch neighbours.