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vantages to be made of its situation and productions.
Cochin China, called by the natives Anam, extends from about the twentieth degree of north latitude to Pulo Condore, which lies in eight degrees forty minutes. It is bounded by the kingdom of Tonquin on the north, from which it is separated by the river Sungen; by the kingdom of Laos, and a range of mountains which divides it from Cambodia on the west; and by that part of the eastern ocean, generally called the China Sea, on the south and
The kingdom is divided into twelve provinces all lying upon the sea-coast, and succeeding each other from north to south in the following order,
In the possession of the Tonquinese, Ding oie, Cong-bing, Ding-cat, Hué, or the Court.
In the possession of Ignaac, Cham, Cong-nai, Quinion.
Dubious whether subdued by Ignaac, or in the possession of the king. Phuyen, Bing-Khang, Nha-Tong, Bing thoan or Champa. In the possession of the king, Donai.
The breadth of the country bears no proportion to its length. Few of the provinces extend further than a degree from east to west; some less than twenty miles; Donai, which is properly a province of Cambodia, is much larger.
The whole country is intersected by rivers, which although not large enough to admit vessels of great burthen, yet are exceedingly well calculated for promoting inland commerce. Their streams are gentle, and the water clear.
The climate is healthy, the violent heat of the summer months being tempered by regular breezes from the sea; September, October and November, are the season of the rains. The low lands are then frequently and suddenly overflowed by immense torrents of water which fall from the mountains. The inundations happen generally once a fortnight, and last for three or four days at a time. In December, January, and February, there are also frequent rains, brought by cold northerly winds, which distinguish this country with a winter different from any other in the east.
The inundations have the same effect here as the periodical overflowings of the Nile in Egypt; and render the country one of the most fruitful in the world. In many parts the land produces three crops of grain in the year. All the fruits of India are found here, in the greatest perfection, with many of those of China.
No country in the east, and perhaps none in the world, produces richer, or a greater variety of articles, proper for carrying on an advantageous commerce: cinnamon, pepper, cardamoms, silk, cotton, sugar, aglua wood, (lignum aloës) sapan wood, and ivory, are the principal.
Gold is taken almost pure from the mines, and before the troubles great quantities were brought from the hills in dust, and bartered by the rude inhabitants of them for rice, cloths, and iron. It was from them also the Agula and Calambae woods were procured with quantities of wax, honey and ivory. For some years past, the communication between the hills and the
low lands have been entirely tribute for the liberty of bringing
The animals of Cochin China are bullocks, goats, swine, and buffaloes, elephants, camels, and horses. In the woods are found the wild boar, tiger, and rhinoceros, with plenty of deer. The poultry is excellent, and the fish caught on the coast abundant and delicious. The flesh of the elephant, which I never heard that any other nation thought eatable, is accounted a great dainty by the Cochin Chinese; and when the king or the viceroy of a province kills one, pieces are şent about to the principal mandarines as a most acceptable present. The breeding of bullocks is little attended to, their flesh is not esteemed as food, and they are made no use of in tilling the land, which is performed by buffaloes. As for milking their cattle, they are totally unacquainted with the art; strange as this may appear to us, who have been accustomed to find the most savage nations we have discovered, depending for a considerable part of their food on the milk of their cattle and flocks, yet I am inclined to think that the use of it was formerly unknown amongst the nations from the Straits of Malacca eastward; the Malays make no use of milk, the Chinese very little; amongst the latter it was probably introduced by the Tartars.
The Aborigines of Cochin China are called Moyes, and are the people who inhabit the chain of mountains which separates it from Cambodia. To these strong holds they were driven when the present possessors invaded the country. They formerly paid an annual
down the produce of their hills, and bartering it for such commodities as they stood in need of. They are a savage race of people, very black, and resemble in their features, the Caffrees.
Monsieur Le Gae, a Frenchman who was in Cochin China in the year one thousand seven hundred and twenty, mentions another race of people, distinct from the Cochin Chinese, who inhabit the province of Champa, called Loys. He also says the Muhammadan is one of the prevailing religions. But from the most particular inquiries I made, I did not find that there are now any people distinguished by that name, and I never met with a Musulman in the country.
It was about the year one thousand two hundred and eighty of the Christian era, that the first Tartar prince became possessed of the throne of China. This revolution afforded an opportunity to the western provinces bordering on the sea, to throw off their dependance, and they were formed into a kingdom under a prince, whose descendant now reigns in Tonquin, and is called KnahWhang. About the beginning of the fifteenth century, a large body of people from these provinces being disaffected to the Government, joined under a leader of abilities, and marched to the southward.
Meeting with little opposition, they soon became masters of Cochin China as far as Cape Avrilla. The Moys, the original inhabitants, retired to the hills bordering their country to the westward, where they have ever since remained. The emigrants, under their conductor, founded
the kingdom of Cochin China. His successor extended it to the great river of Cambodia, and raised it to a degree of splendor and opulence; the continual wars they were engaged in with the Tonquinese, who considered them as rebels, about one hundred and fifty years ago, induced the Cochin Chinese to build a wall, on the southern extremity of the province of Dingnoi, to prevent the irruptions of the Tonquinese. Every communication by sea was forbidden under the severest penalties. Long wars and mutual jealousies have rendered the Tonquinese and Cochin Chinese inveterate and implacable enemies. In the year one thousand seven hundred and sixty-four, when the Pocock Indiaman was in Cochin China, the country was in a flourishing condition, and governed by a prince of abilities; soon after her departure, his son, whose misfortunes and fate I have briefly given an account of in the foregoing narrative, succeeded to the throne, and anarchy and confusion ensued.
The Cochin Chinese bear evident marks of being derived from the same stock as the Chinese. They resemble them in their features and in most of their manners and customs: heir religion is the same, their oral language, though different, appears formed upon the same principles, and they use the same characters in writing. They are a courteous, affable, inoffensive race, rather in clined to indolence. The ladies are by far the most active; they usually manage all the concerns, while their lazy lords sit upon their haunches, smoking, chew
ing betel, or sipping tea: contrary to the custom in China, they are not shut up, and if unmarried, a temporary connexion with strangers who arrive in the country is deemed no dishonour. Merchants often employ them as their factors and brokers, and it is said the firmest reliance may be placed on their fidelity.
The habit of the men and women is cut after the same fashion, and is one of the most modest I know of: it is a loose robe buttoning with a small collar round the neck, and folding over the breast like a banyan gown, with large long sleeves which cover the hands. People of rank, and especially the ladies, wear several of these gowns one over the other; the undermost reaches to the ground, the succeeding ones are each shorter than the other, so that the display of the different colours makes a gaudy appearance as they walk along.
Such are the few particulars relative to Cochin China, that occur to me as curious or interesting. It now only remains to shew how aconnexion with this country may prove beneficial to my own, and to conclude the subject.
The drain of specie from the Company's settlements in India is become a matter of such serious import, that I make no doubt any plan which may be offered to remedy so growing an evil, will be deemed worthy of consideration. I am sanguine in my expectations that a settlement in Cochin China would conduce to that desirable end, and also be productive of many other advantages.
Our two little vessels brought from Cochin China to the amount of about sixty thousand rupees in
gold and silver bullion. Had we been paid for all we sold, the sum would have been much more considerable. The Rumbold, the year before, also brought bullion to a considerable amount. This money was received on account of sales of Bengal and Madras cloths, opium, iron, copper, lead, hardware, and glass. Some inquiries were made for broad cloth, but we unfortunately had none. These are matters of a trifling nature. In the sequel I hope to fix the attention to many of greater importance.
The situation of Cochin China is excellently well adopted to commerce. Its vicinity to China, Tonquin, Japan, Combodia, Siam, the Malay coast, the Philippines, Borneo, the Moluccas, &c. renders the intercourse with all these countries short and easy. The commodious harbours found on the coast, particularly that of Turon, afford a safe retreat for ships of any burden, during the most tempestuous seasons of the year.
The nations of Europe, having hitherto found it impossible to provide cargoes sufficiently valuable to barter for the commodities of China, are obliged to make up the deficiency by sending thither immense quantities of bullion, by which means it has, for a number of years past, drained the eastern and western worlds of their specie, The number of junks annually resorting to Cochin China plainly proves how much the productions of it are in demand among the Chinese. These productions, had we a settlement and a confirmed influence in the country, might with ease be brought to center
with us, purchased with the staples of India and of Europe; Turon would become the emporium for them, where our ships bound to Canton, from whence it is only five days sail, might call and receive them.
The quantity procurable it is impossible to determine; whatever it might be, it would prove a saving of so much specie to Great Britain or India, as the value of the commodities amounted to in China; in a few years there is every reason to believe, a very considerable investment might be provided.
Our trade to China has ever been burthened with enormous imposts and exactions; these, under various pretences, are annually increasing, and in process. of time may become insupportable. It is an opinion latterly grown current that the Chinese are desirous of totally excluding all Europeans from their country: may we not hazard a conjecture, that the vexations they oblige them to suffer are the premeditated schemes of this politic people to effect it? Were such, an event to happen, the want of a settlement to the eastward would be severely felt. The Chinese would export their own commodities, and Java or the Philippines, as the Philippines, as the nearest ports, would become the marts for them. As there is no reason to suppose that our inability to procure them from the first hand would hinder their consumption, we must buy them either from the Dutch or from the Spaniards. A settlement in Cochin China will give us a superior advantage to either, both as its situation is nearer, and the Chinese are more accustomed to resort thither; in
all events there is reason to suppose it will enable us to procure the commodities of China at a much more reasonable rate than now purchased by our factors at Canton, and certainly on less humiliating terms to the nation. Large colonies of Chinese have from time to time emigrated from the parent country and fixed their abode in different parts of Cochin China; these have their correspondents in every seaport of the empire; through their means, teas, China ware, and the various other articles, the objects of our commerce with China, might be imported in junks to our own settlements, equally good in quality, and cheaper, as the Chinese are exempted from the exorbitant duties levied on foreigners. Some of the best workmen might be encouraged to settle in Cochin China, and under their direction manufactories carried to as great a degree of perfection as in China itself.
The intercourse between Japan and Cochin China might be renewed, and we might participate in a trade for many years monopolized by the Dutch.
An advantageous trade might be carried on with the Philippine Islands, and Madras and Bengal goods introduced amongst them by means of the junks for the consumption of Spanish America.
The Siamese and Cambodians would bring the produce of their respective countries and barter or sell them for such articles as they wanted from Cochin China Amongst them it is probable a vent might be found for quantities of Bengal cloths.
The lower class of people in Co
chin China are, for the most part, clothed in canvass, a coarse cotton cloth brought from China; but the preference which I had opportunity of observing they gave to Bengal cloths, on account of their being wider and cheaper, would soon induce them to adopt the use of them.
The demand for opium, already, in some measure, become a necessary of life to the Chinese, would increase in proportion to the facility of procuring it. The importation of it no longer confined to Canton, but carried by the junks in every seaport in the country, would spread the demand of this drug to the remotest parts of the empire.
But what inspires the most flattering hopes from an establishment in this country is its rich gold mines; celebrated for ages as producing the richest ore, so pure that the simple action of fire is said to be sufficient to refine it; I omitted no opportunity of making inquiries respecting this valuable article, and was informed that mines were formed in different parts of the northern provinces, particularly in Hué, where the ore lay so near the surface of the earth that it was dug up with little labour. Under the direction of a skilful metallurgist, what might not be expected from such
Great as the commercial advantages are, the political ones resulting from a settlement in Cochin China would be scarce inferior. Turon Bay would not only afford a secure retreat to our Indiamen in case of their losing their passage to China; but from thence we might also intercept the fleets