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The Settlement of Penang
By James Scott

Of scarcely less importance than Francis Light in the settlement of Penang was his friend and partner, James Scott. The beginning of his career, and his precise relations with Light, the official government, and with his rivals in trade are uncertain. But there is no question that while Light was alive, Scott’s influence was great; and that after his partner’s death, his power grew steadily in spite of the constant opposition of successive Superintendents. A despatch written by Scott to Henry Dundas, in 1794, which has recently been acquired by the British Museum, now helps to give a better idea of Scott’s aims and ambitions for Penang, and the state of the settlement immediately after Light's death on 21st October 1794.

Scott was the second cousin of Sir Walter Scott. He was a shipmate of Francis Light from 1761-3, and later he followed him to India, reaching Calcutta in October, 1774. He came east as steward on a vessel hired by the East India Company, and presumably had little or no capital. Subsequently he apparently obtained command of a ship engaged in the country trade; for, according to Walter Lennon, who met him at Penang in 1795: “He had formerly been a Captain ________ but being unfortunate he had been obliged to live chiefly among the Malays, on the Island Junkceylon.” It was at Junk Ceylon that both Scott and Light made their trading headquarters, and after a few years they are even said to have been in partnership. Scott’s trading brought him into conflict with the Dutch; and in 1785 he wrote an indignant despatch to Warren Hastings to complain of arrest, on suspicion of “gun running," by the Governor of Malacca. At the same time he earnestly advocated that the Company should take advantage of a further offer to cede Junk Ceylon, from the local Governor. He warmly commended Light, and went on, "You may perhaps ask who this James Scott is. I will here, in part, anticipate the answer. He is a Scotsman struggling to-pay off some incumbrances incurred during the war, formerly a trading master and owner, otherwise but little known, but will be happy should his misfortunes turn out eventually of use to-his country.”

Scott was delighted when, the following year, Light was finally authorised to occupy Penang, and he wrote to congratulate the Company on entrusting its “design... .to a man of local knowledge and large experience.”0 He was not among those who landed with Light on the 16th July 1786, but he certainly followed soon after, and in January, 1808, actually claimed that he had then been on the island for upwards of twenty-two years. According to his own account it was in 1787 that “Scott and Light joined stocks,” and for as long as his friend administered the settlement he undoubtedly had a large voice in its management. The exact terms of the partnership are not clear, but according to Scott it seems to have been agreed that he should be left solely in charge of the company, while Light was to guarantee “perfect liberty of trade to all frequenting the port.” Light, himself, wrote to his friend George Doughty: “My Expenses exceeding salary just as 2 to 1 .... I should long ago have been Obliged to leave Superintending, had I not engaged in partnership with James Scott, a most Expert Merchant. The agreement, no doubt, greatly helped to secure Scott his predominant position as the chief trader of the settlement.

At the same time it is clear that his enormous success was also largely due to his own ability. After Light’s death he was continually at odds with his official successors, but, far from declining, his power continued to increase. Major Forbes Ross Macdonald, who was appointed in 1796, kept up an active feud with Scott, whom he regarded as arrogant and insubordinate; but although he reported that he was in an “agony of despair at the daily retrogradation of his influence from a period somewhat antecedent to Mr. Light’s death,” the firm of Scott & Co. increased its hold until it virtually controlled the entire trade of the island. Even although Macdonald disliked Scott, moreover, he was compelled to admit that so far as he knew Scott, among the merchants of Penang, conducted his trade honourably. He conceded, too, that in spite of his shrewdness, “his views have always tended to the property of the island towards which his own improvements, on an extended scale contribute.” Scott lacked official favour because he was independent, and in case of dispute was always prepared to appeal to higher authority. Other reasons for dislike, moreover, were his freer manners, and his close contacts with the various races of the peninsula. Scott, himself, mentioned in a report, that “the great merchants of Bengali could nit bear, with any degree of patience, that Pinang, the other day a jungle, that Scott, a perfect Malay, should dictate to them”; while Major Macdonald complained that, for several years and “in every respect,” Scott had adopted Malay “dress, manners, and mode of living,” even more closely than Light; and he declared that he considered such a “versatility, dishonourable and degenerate”.

In later years, until his death in 1808, Scott was often in a position to harrass the Government if not to dictate his terms. Macdonald had reported that “of every spot which Mr. Scott’s sagacity pointed out as at a future hour, likely to become valuable, he has made himself a part owner”; and Macdonald’s successor, Sir George Leith, found that Scott & Co., had not only acquired the Superintendent’s house, for which an exorbitant rent was demanded, but that it had bought up the last available building site. Eventually Government House had to be leased from the firm. Certainly the low-lying land opposite Pulau Jercjak, which is recommended in the following despatch as an alternative site for the capital of the island, had already been acquired by Scott: for it was there that he established the sillage of Jamestown — one of his less successful speculations.

At the time of writing the despatch to Dundas, however, the whole future of Penang was in doubt. As the report makes clear, the traders of the island were still uneasy at the possibility that the Company was about to give it up in favour of one of the Andamans. Admiral Cornwallis advocated the move; and a Major Kyd had been despatched from Calcutta to investigate their relative advantages. Although his conclusions, given in his report of the 20th August 1795, were more or less in favour of Penang, the settlers had good reason to be anxious. Some time in 1794, therefore, James Scott had been "prevailed upon to act as their spokesman,” and, apparently as a result, Light had asked him “to prepare a report from our books of the nature and value of the import trade....and other advantages.” It was as a consequence of this anxiety, therefore, that Scott began his despatch in August 1794, and completed it in December.

The two letters with which it was enclosed follow one another on the same folded sheet; and its composition was presumably delayed by the administrative work which must have fallen on Scott during Light’s last illness. He had been nominated as one of Light’s executors in company with Thomas Pigou, whom he mentions in the second letter, whom Light had also recommended as his successor “in the Civil Department”:

To the Right Hon’ble Henn,' Dundas Esqr.
Pinang, August 28th, 1794.
Honble Sir,

I have perused a treaties on India, said to be compiled under your direction, which has given me much information of easy Application from the Clear arrangement of Previous Circumstances, Resulting Consequences, and Comprehensive Suggestions,— Corrective or Amending to which little can be added.

But, as the same publication Acknowledges, where a paucity of Information Renders the Correcting or Amending suggestions less conclusive and at (the) same time invites the Communication of such information as Local Scite may have generated in any Individual.

And as I have spent some part of my life among a people and Scenery which seems little known, I have taken the liberty of transmitting such part of my local Service thereof as I apprehend may prove useful.

Knowing the multiplicity of matters which hourly require your attention I have evaded the Detail and touched only on such prominent features as tended to give a Clear and Comprehensive conception.

I trust you'll overlook inaccuracy's or Omissions in Consideration of the Active and hurried Scene in which I live.

I have the Honor to be with all Esteem and Respect.

Honble Sir,
Your most Obedt. Svt.
J. A. Scott.

December 28th, 1794.

Honble Sir,

Since writing this, and Before a Convenient Occasion offered for sending to Bengali, our late worthy superintendant Departed this life, the 22nd October '94; and, in Casting my eye Around I cannot find a Successor enabled to Carry into their full and Pervading Effect the few Regulations Recommended, none being Acquainted with Existing Circumstances and Actors therein. Mr. Pegou. his Assistant, offers Fairest to give Effect to the variety of Operations and negociations which he had in hand, and which will otherwise be forgot or neglected.

I have the Honour to Remain, Honble Sir, Your most Obedt. Servt.

J. A. Scott.

A Narrative of the Circumstances which led to the Settling of the Island Pinang in 1786.

Previous to the peace of 1763 we had little or no Country trade to China or its Archipelago, which was totally in the hands of the Chinese, Arabs and Dutch.

Soon after the peace of 1763, and the quiet management of the produce of Bengali, we began to send one or two vessels to the Straits of Malacca, annually, [and] in 1768 we began to resort to a port on the Island Bintang, called Rhiow, where the Kings of Johore had liberty to trade in the Independant produce of the Chinese Archipelago the Items of the Dutch monopoly.

But having to struggle against a previous arrangement under an oppressive monopoly, the Adventures were Attended with much loss to the Adventuring Individual, and Eventually to much Benefit to the Community, Because the Adventurers were in general Company’s servants who at the Solicitation of Individuals entered into this trade and as one Sett Sold out and another Commenced in Succession until they Banished all Competitors; who, as merchants, could not afford to Lose in their Company. We were, about ‘73, begining to Reap some Benefitt from our having thus done away Competition, when we were disturbed by the Accession of France to the American War.

Previous to this our trade to Rhiow had given much umbrage to the Dutch, who could ill Brook a port of Competition so near their Capital, and they determined without passable pretext to Ruin the King of Johore and his trading Port of Rhiow.

This the short sighted Avarice of the King soon furnished.

As it is Explanatory of the subject, I shall Briefly relate the Circumstances attending and Consequences resulting:—

Inability or Inattention in Admiral Hughes, and the Activity of the French Frigates and Island Privateers had so far repressed Individual Adventure as to occasion the Company’s sending their own Opium to Markett on their own Accorde and Risque. The Betsy, Capt. Geddes, with a Cargo of this Opium, Arrived at Rhiow, and was there Blocked up by a Dutch and French Ship, who Offered the King 1/3 of the plunder if he would permit them to take her from under his Guns. He assented to this, and Betsy and Cargo was Captured.

But a tardiness in the Dutch who were his Agents (for he wished to conceal his share of the transaction from the English) in Bringing his Share to Account, induced him to approach Malacca with a considerable force, in order to give more weight to his demand. This, in the End, produced a War which Continued Active two years, with Various Success, and Ended in the Death of the King and Capture of Rhiow.

The inhabitants Retired with their principal Effects to the Port of Succadena, but being followed there after the peace by some english Vessels, for the purpose of trade, they were Plundered and dispersed by the Dutch. As Salengore had joined in the war, it was Occupyd, Trangano and Quedah, the only ports with which we traded, threatned, and measures the most severe — Among which was private Assassination adopted by the Government of Batavia — entirely to Exclude us from this trade.

While these matters were passing, the empires of Ava and Siam were at war; and a fleet of Vessels sent by the Emperor of Ava, to Capture Tunsaling having been friendly Received by the King of Quedah, his Lord Paramount, the king of Siam threatened to Smash him the first Occasion.

It so happened that the Spain and Dutch threats came to hand at [the] same time, which had such an Effect on the King as to induce him in hopes of Protection to give Pinang to the English thro Mr. Light.

Rhiow was attacked and Blockade in ‘82, and Occupyd by the Dutch in 1784: and Pinang wac occupyd by the Government of Bengali in August 1786.

A three years Experience of the want at a Port where we Could Exchange the produce of India with that of the Chinese Archipelago, and a two warrs Experience of inconvenience attending the long recess of our Fleets to Bombay, had generated an Opinion in both Government and Individuals that a Port to the Eastward of the Bay of Bengali was necessary, and they hoped Pinang would answer both these purposes.

Under such Impressions, had Government ordered proper surveys, or given Credence to those which were ordered, we may Suppose they would have adopted measures adequate to Rendering the place Bcncficiall at the least possible Expense.

But either from Indecision, a want of Power, or a Change of Sentiment indicated by Occupying the Andamans, nothing was done.

Pinang was occupyd in 1786, the Andamans in 1787. Both were uninhabited jungles, and as it appeared that no Preference was given untill December 1792, they were — during the Period of 5 and 6 years — left to try their Natural Advantages; and this Result ought to have weighed in giving a preference to either.
In Regard to Natural Situation, the one is a Rugged Rocky Shore, with no ground at a Distance of 1 or 2 Leagues and in many Places Close to the Rocks, Situated in the Strength of Both monsoons and subject to frequent Gales. The other has 50 fathom Twenty Leagues off, which Shoals Regularly as you approach a fine Muddy Bottom — is Covered from the one Monsoon by the high Land of Sumatra, and from the other by the high Land of the Malay Peninsula, making all its Environs a Good Roadstead — and it never knew a Gale.

In Regard to Communication, of which much has been said and Little Experienced in the one, and much Experienced and Little said about [in] the other, I shall only mention one preference which Pinang has, viz:— In October, when our fleets Leave the Coast, they arc at Pinang in 10 days to 15 days, and in July from Pinang to Madras in 15 to 20; whereas the Passage to the Andamans in October is very uncertain and Tedious, and in July almost Impracticable without first coming near Pinang.

As to the Harbours of each, we are safe in saying:—

That during the Period Instanced 2000 vessels have entered and rode in Penang without one Accident, going or Coming; the Indiamen at 24ft. come in at one end and work out at the other with ease and safety, and the habour within Po. Jerajah has anchorage for 50 to 100 sail. Seven fathom up and Down within the Rocks, Convenient for Docks or Heaving Down to, is a perfect Bason incapable of being forced if defended with a few Batteries.

During same period one of 3 vessels appointed to carry stores to the Andamans has been Lost, and the other two Drove ashore in the harbour. Such other vessels as has gone or Come have Complained heavily of the Gales and other Inconveniencys; and his majesty’s frigate the Perserverance, in a Passage to Madras in June-July, was Almost made a wreck of. In December '92 their acquired Improvements consequent to possession stood thus:—

The Andamans Remained as Occupied in ‘87, without Acquired population, trade or Revenue, and with Little or no Cultivation. Pinang had Invited About 300 vessels Annually to frequent its port for trade, Provisions or Repairs, and 2 to 3000 Country vessels; had acquired a Population of 20 to 30,000 Independent of its Establishment; produced a Revenue on the Luxurys of its Inhabitants of £7500 per annum; and they have about 7000 to 10,000 Acres in Cultivation.

The Expense to Government has been 250 Chests Opium, About £2000 marine stores per annum, or nearly, including Military Stores, £20,000 a year. This it promises soon to defray from its own Resources provided it be declared now and for ever a free Port.

Nothing herein Advanced can be controverted as the for and Against each is the Result of 8 years Experience.

Forts, Bridges, wharfs, Hospitals etc., occupy its Revenuenow, but which will Revert when these are finished.

And as all the officers and troops with the Bombay Cruizer etc. would be paid whether Pinang was settled or not, the additional Civil list seems no object when compared with the Extension of the trade which is produced thereby.

You may observe that I have Drawn a line under these words: The independant produce of the Chinese Archipelago the Items of the Dutch Monopoly.

And I intend on an Explanation with the more confidence as the elucidation of the Policy of the Dutch in Governing the Great East (as they call it) is in some degree involved in the Explanation and may repay the time spent in Perusal.

When the Dutch, by the Exclusion of other European Nations, became the Commercial! Soveireigns of these Numerous and Extensive Islands latterly called the Chinese Archipelago, and which is bounded by the Philippines, New Holland, Java, Sumatra and Continent of Asia, they either Continued the mercantile contracts previously made by others or made new' ones similar with all the Petty rajahs, the produce of whose Countrys promised a Profitt adequate to Keeping a Fortyfyd Factory.

In these contracts are to be traced the origin of the Malay princes being the only Merchants in their Countrys, Because the Prince became the only seller to the Dutch of the Produce of his Country, and the only seller to his people of what he Received in Return.

The prices agreed on at the time these contracts were formed, as they were Voluntary, were probably equal Between the Parties; but now, from a change of Situation and Circumstance, they' are barelv 1/3 of the Price on the fair Markett. As this difference became gradually Considerable and no Competition Offered, no change in the Relative Situation of the Parties took Place, and the Dutch Company’s gains were great and Expence Small. But when a Competition opened the eyes of the Natives, Smugling Commenced.

Had the Dutch Company at this period increased their Prices in Degree so as nearly to Quadrate with the Change in Circumstance, as the Natives are not Adventurous unless the gain be great, they would have prevented smugling and Reserved a Great tho lessened Profitt at a Small Expence. But in choosing the Alternative they' unfortunately multiplyd their cruizers and increased their Establishments to render the Exclusive Receipts pervading, [and] Punished Deveations with unparalelled severity. Yet some few escaped, and they returned with such tidings as inflamed Cupidity. All became smuglers. The Dutch Expences Encreased and their Receipts decreased in a Similar Ratio. The Dutch in this State severely felt the increasing Expence and Decreasing Receipts, which, in place of teaching them wisdom only increased their Severity which got to so Barbarous a height as to Occasion frequent Migrations from the Countrys under the Dutch Monopoly to the jungles with which they are surrounded. These migrations in fortunate Circumstances gave rise to new states; new states to new produce, both independant of the Dutch. This is what I call the Independant Produce. Tho items which the Dutch Monopolize.

But, while migrations in fortunate circumstances formed New States and new produce, others became Pyrates. This the Dutch winked [at], as it tended to make the Monopoly more compleat, every Pyrate Being equal [to] a Cruizer; and they Remedyd any Stoppages in their Licensed trade by Annual Ships of their own. of Force, so as not to dread the pyrates: thus Sacrifying the Property of their Subjects to preserve an Oppressive monopoly to themselves — and fostering a hive with that plunder which promises Eventually to smother them. These are the Sources of the Decline of the Dutch Company.

To all their other Errors they added the fresh one of Seizing the independant produce as if under Exclusive Contracts, which Involved them in Warrs with all the independant Sovereigns. These warrs, tho of Little Consequence which side lost, involved a great Expence to the Company from peculation in ther Servants; and the Consequence of their last one with the King of Johore has been the giving a sistem and unity' to the dispersed Pyrates who under the wandering King of Johore now commit Depredations in Batavia Roads along the Coast of Java and almost interrupt all Communication; and they' have Perfect Security among those Congeries of Islands which lay Between Borneo, Sumatra, and Malay Peninsula, so that unless the Dutch arc aided or amend their present Sistem, the consequences may be fatal, especially if aided by any European power.

On the Nature, Extent and Aim of the trade of Pinang.

 The ‘Glugor House and Spice Plantation’ painting on display at the Penang State Museum, was painted by Captain Robert Smith in 1818. (Thrifty Traveller pic)

The produce of the Chinese Archipelago ever has, and probably ever will, draw money from China in proportion to the Relative wants of each.

On this taken for Granted we wish, to pay for the Surplus which China wants, in the produce of India and Receive for the inhabitants of the Archipelago the Specie they now Receive, w'hich we may either Supply India with or Square our Europe Deficit.

The squaring differences in China by this mode is Better than finding Specie either from Bengali or Europe, and better than sending Cotton from the West of India while it is our aim to increase an export of woollens; and as the probable Resulting Surplus will do more in a little time than square differences Return of treasure to India and more Export from Europe are two Beneficial Consequences.—Besides an Encrease of our Indian tonnage to which is owing in a great measure that Stability which neither the French nor Portuguese could Acquire Before.

To aid our wishes in this and remove Sundry Impediments some Regulations will be necessary. The propriety of these Regulations may in some measure be Drawn from the preceding. Elucidations. But as it is difficult to dictate orders while strangers to Local Scite and Circumstances, as Severally Related, I have put them in the form in which your Superintendant will understand them:—

1st. That Pinang, at least for the present, be declared a free Port.

This will appear wise when it is Considered that the trade is not an import of Consumpt.. nor an Export of Produce, but a gain in Exchanges of others; and it seems wiser to trust to a Sure Revenue from an Encrease of Capital and Population consequent to a free trade, than trust to one on a Passing commodity which Impediments may move elsewhere: as every duty wall hurt more in repressing an Import of People and Capital than it will Benefitt in immediate Receipts.—Besides, the harm done is Permanent, the Benefit only Occasional and uncertain.

2d. In order to wave all disputes with the Dutch India Co. in Effecting our orders for the Extension of the trade of Pinang with the Chinese Archipelago, we have — by a Separate Convention — Ascertained the Countrys under Exclusive Contracts, a Schedule of which we now inclose; and with those powers or Countrys we Request you will not Interfere. But you will endeavour to Effect such Arrangements with the independant Princes as will tend to the mutual Benefitt and safty of our Subjects and theirs in trading with each Other. But, as the produce of the Independant Countrys are in many Instances the same as that of the Country's under Exclusive Contracts to the Dutch, and thence may be Impeded in Export on Native Bottoms by the Dutch Guarda Costas, it will be necessary for the Supcrin-tendant at Pinang to Countersign a Sufficient Number of Passports for each prince with whom he may form arrangements which will procure a quiet Passage from the Dutch — or such other mode as may Secure a safe Communication between the parties.

3d. We are given to understand that the present Alarming power of the Pyrates in the Eastern Seas Originated in the dutch Refusing to grant all or any Part of the Country's formerly Possessed by the Sultauns of Johore, which has reduced Sultaun Mahomined to the necessity of Associating with and Directing the Pyrates: equally as a present means of Subsistence, and as annoying his Enemies the Dutch.

And being Anxious to Remove every impediment to the Extension of our Commerce to the Chinese Archipelago, and further inclined to aid Sultaun Mahommed as far as our subsisting treatys with the Dutch will admit, from a belief that he has and now Suffers from his Connection with us.

We desire that the Superintendant at Pinang be directed to inform himself of the Nature of the Claims he has:

Those which as an Ultimatum he is willing to accept. Those which the Dutch now offers. Accompanied with the Supcrin-tendant’s sentiments on the Best mode of Accommodation in order that we may be enabled to interefere in his favour with Propriety and Effect.

4th. That the Superintendant at Pinang be directed to report how far the Dutch now do or have heretofore impeded at Malacca the passing or repassing of China junks or other Native Vessells, and to instance such as may have Come to his Knowledge, Accompanyd with such certifications as may be possible.

5th. That the Superintendant be directed to inform himself wether anv Impediments are laid on our Ships in the Dutch Ports to the Eastward, and wether they trade under a General Standing Order or by particular License Successively Procured.

6th. That the Superintendant of Pinang be directed to Nego-ciate with the King if Quedah for a Space on the Coast Opposite Pinang.

Say from Tanging Taga on North to the River Carrion on the South, and inland to the Mountains which divide Quedah and Trangano.

This we are Anxious to attain in order to Acquire the Entire Sovereignty of the Port of Pinang. and to have Pasturage equal to Rearing any Given quantity of Cattle Independant of Forreign Supply should Experience give a preference at a future period to Pinang as a Marine port.

That the Superintendant be directed to report on the Best Possible sistem of Marine Defence in Order at same time to protect the Native trade and annoy the Pyrates — and the Expence attending the Same.

These few Regulations involves an Extent of Effect, which will be found Generally favourable to the Extension of the most Lucrative trade we have, and thence to the Encrease of the Country Tonnage to which you must Look up for the Binding the Several parts of your Extended Empire in one. This truth will Every day become more and more known, and it Freely deserves the fostering Care of Government.When we consider the Country Tonnage in this Light, the impolicy of allowing Forreign Nations to Import into our ports the Produce of India, especially the Americans, will appear.

As. if permitted, they will gradually Become the Carriers of India. Annihilate your Tonnage (as they can Carry Cheaper than our Country tonnage), and on a future Day Join your Enemys and Leave you without Resource.

The extending the Navigation Act to India, modyfyd in the Number of English Navigators to the Circumstances Existing, would Ruin the Americans and all others which adventured in that line.

It seems to be a Mistaken Policy, the impeding Mariners to Remain in India if the Tonnage is 1000, the Mariners neces-sarv to a Lawful Clearance from your ports should be 2 to Every 100 Tons — and so on. This would at all Times preserve a fund of Reservists, ready on Demand as Exigence Required, Accustomed to the Country and involving no Public Expense.

Remark on the Foregoing Regulation.

On 1st. That Every Port Carrying on a Commerce of Oeconomv should have a freedom from Imposts sums admitted, and that relying on the influx of people and Capital Sums [as] a preferable and more certain Source of Revenue than that on a Passing Commodity.— Besides, while none is Lewd at Pinang and 6 per cent at Malacca, it is clear the trade, the people, and Capital will Remove from one to the other — unless where it is Founded on an Import of Consumpt. or Export of Produce.

On 2d. The Absurd and unheard of Pretensions of the Dutch to the Exclusive produce and Navigation of the Chinese Archipelago, and the Streches of power they' have Exhibited to Carry these Pretensions into Effect, Especially to the Country Native Vessels, Requires the Strictest enquiry and the most pointed Restrictions.

On 3d. Somewhat is necessary to [be] done on this: either Effective means adopted bv the Dutch, or Effective aid given by their allies, to Crush their increasing power, or then some Accomodation with Sultaun Mahommed. But if matters are allowed to proceed in the progressive Ratio-they have done these 6 years Past, all trade, and probably Pinang and most of the out dutch settlements, will fall a Sacrifice.

In every view the present state is Dangerous, Especially should a turn in European Politics enable any one to join with them.

4th. Forms only a more nearly Connected Branch of the 2d.

5th. Is proper to be Known because I believe they do not adhere to Provisions agreed on between the Governments.

On 6th. This is an Object of the Utmost Import and ought not to be delayed an hour. The protection of the King Quedah in the quiet possession of his other domains as an Accessory' to Pinang is a necessary measure, and would be a Dower adequate to procuring the Space Described.

I have Reserved last Some Remarks on the Latter Part of the 2d. as requiring a fuller Explanation.

We have no Accounts when or how the Malays Established themselves on the Sea Coasts of the Islands in the Chinese Archipelago, But we find them the Sovereigns of most of them, so Situate on the mouths of such Rivers as nave extensive Inland Communications as to Command the Import and Export trade of the neighbouring districts. The Government is entirely Feudall, and their power Capable of great Effective defence, tho Capable of no forreign Annoyance. They are the Sole merchants when Forreigners or Europeans come to trade, tho their Subjects Import and Export on their own vessells duty Free.

So Situated, they are individually difficult to Annoy by their preserving about 2 or 3 Leagues of Jungle along the Sea and fortifying the mouths of the Rivers. Another Source of their Safety is the Prize being of small value and its attainment attended with some Risque and great Expence.

Hence even the preserving their Country in Quiet involves no great Responsibility, as Giving them Arms would Enable them to Baffle a Larger force than the Object would warrant any Power to Send Against them: without further interference on our Part.

And hence Mercantile Arrangements cannot Involve government in any unforeseen trouble.

Some Thoughts on the Scite of the Capital of Pinang and fortifications necessary both as a Mercantile and Marine Port.

Our present Station is in a sand Bank nearly Insulated by a Creek. The Bank itself is intersected with salt Nullahs, and is in most places 12 inches below Equinoctial Spring tides, and where highest about 18 Inches above them. Hence it presents in the Rainy season, at high water, a curious Scene of Houses and Streets and hillocks interested by or surrounded with water.

And it may be Expected, as Accumulated filth Consequent to increased population and Decreased circulation, that it will be unhealthy. It has a further Inconvenience, as no fortifications Could give greater Security than the Road of Madras affords.

Our Remaining on such a Spott is one Consequence of the Indecision of Government. But a Removal, if carried into Effect Immediately, would not be attended with much trouble to the Community.

We understand that the Government has it in Contemplation to fortify the whole Land Base, which will require a great Expence and a Large force or Expence, provided always Definite Arrangements are previously made with the Dutch who are the only Power Large or Small inimical to your Success in this quarter.

If Pinang is Retained Simply as a mercantile station such fortifications are unnecessary. If as a Marine Port they' are useless as giving No Security to a fleet under Repairs.

About 7 miles to the Southward, at a Place called Battu Lanchon, is an Elevated dry plain of Sufficient Extent for a Fort and a City, and being Contiguous to the Inner harbour and all ships coming up the Channel being obliged to steer direct for it; and its Defences forming a Cross fire with the Batteries on P°. Jeraja, seems the most healthy and Convenient Station.

The Idea, at present held out, that the defences on the Sand Bank would Cover the Entrance to the Inner harbour and thence Secure our fleets and Stores at Jarajah is quite new, as proposing to Defend Docks, Stores and Ships at a Distance of 3 to 4 Leagues from these defences in place of doing it within One or 2 miles.

This ought to be well weighed. An Experienced Error will Cost dear if an After Removal should be found necessary.

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