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Owners how we will, we must come to the conclusion, that at some future-and, perhaps, no very distant period—this class of the community will be paramount in this Colony. And have the members of this class “ sprung from the lowest democracy ?” So far from this, we do not hesitate to affirm, that taken as a body, the setiler-population (if we may coin such a phrase) is infinitely more respectable, and better connected, than any other class in the island. And it behoves its members, too, to maintain this respectability by every means in their power. They have every thing at stake; unlike the ephemeral official, who scrapes together all he can, and as fast as he can, regardless of the future welfare of the Colony—the gettler does not look merely to his present temporary advantage, but he provides for that of his descendants, and reflects with pride and satisfaction upon the benefits which those descendants will derive from the exertions and respectability of their ancestors.
We can easily believe that Mr. Prinsep and his family experienced much kindness from the government;” and that they spent their time very pleasantly in such “worshipful society :” but we must not allow the gentleman's dictum, touching the “ democracy," to pass unnoticed, -neither can we permit our good friends at home to enjoy the delusion, that there is no good society here, at the Antipodes but that which may be found amongst the " aristocracy.' It is very true, notwithstanding, that the favoured class, thus eulogized, and justly eulogized, by our good-natured author, enjoys a degree of luxury, which would startle Mr. Secretary Stanley, and fright him out of his notions of this “ Convict Colony.” As , much taste and elegance, with as many costly luxuries, are to be found in the houses of some of our colonial employees, as in any gentleman's house in England: and right merrily do these fortunate gentlemen enjoy themselves. And why should they not? This we shall never oppose, as it circulates money, and otherwisu confers benefit upon our contracted community.
In estimating the economy (if we may so term it) of the society of Van Diemen's Land, we must not overlook the influence and operation of by far the largest number of its inhabitants—the prisoner population. Under the present rigid regulations this class of the community can exercise no influence, beyond that of their mere individual servitude, and it is only as emancipists of property, that they are to be considered, as hereafter to become an important portion of the people of this Colony. Judging, however, from their present number and condition, the free settler need not entertain any very serious apprehensions as to the overpowering 'encroachments of the emancipists. Such apprehension, however, has, we know, existed in the minds of some of our legislating wiseacres at hoine, and has been used as an argument against the admission of these Colonies to the advantages of free representation in a Legislative Assembly: that this may apply to New South Wales, we can readily believe: because the state of society there differs widely from that here ; but in this Colony very many years,
VOL. II. NO. XI.
must, we think, elapse, before this class of the community can possibly attain any considerable influence either in a political or social point of view. The time has now gone by, when wealth alone constitutes the criterion of power : a certain portion of intelligence is equally essential, and it is only when both are combined, that the highest and most useful attributes of humanity can be duly and extensively exercised.
The best written portions of Mr. Prinsep's little book are those which are descriptive of the scenery of the island; and if these descriptions are not always correct, they are extremely graphic and picturesque.
A “ Trip to Launceston," with “our two friends F. and G.” is narrated with considerable liveliness; and the several most distinguished farms and estates are described with spirit and accuracy. A few discrepancies however, have crept in; thus, in speaking of the natives, we are gravely informed, that “they move in large bodies, with incredible swiftness, forty or fifty miles in one night” -a rate of travelling perfectly incompatible with the sluggish and . indolent Australian trip to Launceston. On the whole, the volume, upon which we have offered these cursory observations, is a favourable addition to works which have been on this Colony, as such, we can cordially recommend it to our readers, especially as its price is extremely reasonable, containing, as it does, a very neat and faithful
of the route from Hobart Town to Launceston,
SOME ACCOUNT OF THE EMPIRE OF TONQUIN.
The subjoined particulars, relating to a very populous and interesting country, are compiled from the Report, (in French) of Mons. de la Bissachére, a missionary at Tonquin many years ago. This gentleman was not a transitory or a temporary traveller, who visited the country from motives of amusement or curiosity, but a resident for the space of eighteen years, during which period, he not only acquired the language of the inhabitants, but was enabled to view and observe society, in all its various aspects. Admitted by his profession, into the intimate confidence of his numerous Christian brethren, he became connected with many eminent officers of state, and at one time, actually bore a mandarin's commission. On several occasions, the Tonquinese Government was pleased to direct that the attendance on his person should be performed by their subjects, and he had the honour, more than once, to be admitted into the presence of the reigning sovereign. From this we
may infer, that he was a person especially qualified to collect information; and, as such, we now present it to our readers.
Tonquin appears to have been originally peopled from China, by southward emigrants from the adjoining provinces of that empire. For many years, its inhabitants seem to have been composed of tribes of wandering barbarians, such as still exist, in the mountainous districts of Tsiam-pa and Laos ; and, even after the consolidation of the fertile regions of Tonquin and Cochin-China under a regular government, their sovereigns acknowledged, for a long period, a subjection to the Emperor of China Their distance, however, from the centre of that empire, the natural strength of their frontiers, as well as the rapid augmentation of their power, from the increase of their population, encouraged them to make strong and persevering efforts to throw off the yoke of a foreign government, and to seek a complete exemption from foreign control. Hence a long series of sanguinary contests, attended with the usual alternations of success and failure-of victory and defeat—was the result, which terminated, however, in the establishment of Tonquinese independence, and the production of the most rooted and inveterate national hatred and antipathy, between the more dissevered nations. During the latter part of the last century, after the Chinese power had become less formidable, the horrors of civil war succeeded those of foreign hostility, and in 1774 a revolt broke out, which continued for twenty-eight years. Three brothers of a family in Cochin-China, called Tay-son, contrived to usurp the sovereignty, by putting to death the nearest heirs to the crown, and compelling the Emperor to seek his safety in flight. After various unsuccessful efforts to recover his authority, this prince was at last enabled to contract (in 1788) a treaty of alliance with France, which, although not productive of assistance from a court, already tottering to its foundation, procured him, nevertheless, the energetic co-operation of individuals of that country. Aided by these, and by the returning loyalty of his subjects, he succeeded, after many sanguinary contests, in uniting all the provinces of the empire under his dominion. This was effected in 1802, when he had reached the age of forty-five, and after he had given ample and abundant proofs, during the long course of his adversity, of the most heroic and distinguished virtues. But the sufferings he had undergone, and the perils he had escaped, failed to teach him humility, and instead, on his restoration to power, of reaping sweet and wholesome fruits from his adversity, he oppressed his country with enormous taxes; and he has forfeited the veneration of his subjects by his attachment to pleasure and licentiousness, by his intidelity in matters of religion, and his vindictive treatment of his former opponents and persecutors,
,-a line of conduct, however, not very remarkable in a prince so little removed from barbarism.
We have deemed it expedient to present our readers with this short outline of the political state of Tonquin, in order that they
may render the application of its internal or physical resources with greater certainty as to the effects. We shall now, therefore, proceed with the statistical description of this powerful empire, commencing with its Situation and Climate. --The points of contact between Tonquin and China are, for the most part, extensive deserts, the water in which is unwholesome. Between Tonquin and that part of China, which cumprises the province of Canton, runs a chain of impassable mountains, with only one open space, in which a great wall has been constructed, one of the gates of whicii is guarded on the Chinese, and the other on the Tonquinese side. The sovereign of Tonquin has lately assumed the title of Emperor, and has united under his charge the countries of Cochin-China, Tsiam-pa, Cambodia, Laos, and a province to the north of Laos, and unknown to Europeans, called Lac-tho. These five divisions, taken altogether, are not, however, equal either in population or resources, to Tonquin alone. They are separated from each other by chains of mountains, and the inhabitants of each, while they join in acknowledging the sway of a common sovereign, continue to preserve their separate and distinctive character. Tonquin, and the lower part of Cochin-China, abound with rivers, of which more than fifty have their embouchures in the sea. The largest is the river which takes the name of Cambodia, from the region whence it flows. After having passed the walls of the capital of Cochin-China, it pours its waters into the ocean, and is navigable for vessels of any depth, fifty miles from its mouth. The coasts of Tonquin, by forming a gulph, render the communication between different parts of the pire easier by water than by land ; though the navigation is much impeded by shallows, and the beds of the rivers are deficient in depth. There is not in all Tonquin a harbour or roadstead fit for the reception of men of war: but in Upper Cochin-China, in latitude 16 deg. 7 min. 18 sec., is a bay called by the natives Han, and by Europeans Turon, which is one of the finest in the universe. Shipping is there protected from every wind, and
may anchor in the greatest numbers: but the government vessels are, notwithstanding in general stationed in a roadstead near the mouth of the Cambodia, which, though inferior to the other, is preferred on account of the facility which it affords for running up the river, and resorting to the naval arsenals.
In regard to climate, Tonquin, like other countries in similar latitudes, has been munificently gifted by the hand of nature. A temperate heat produces a steady and gentle fermentation, and enlivens all that is perceptible of animation. The soil is fertile; all the senses afford enjoyment; the air is embalmed by the odour of the plants ; the taste is feasted by the excellence of the fruits ; while the beauty of the flowers, and the richness of the prospect, present an enchanting spectacle. He, who has not visited the favoured regions in these latitudes, can have no adequate conception of the extent of delight, which our organs of sense are capable of receiving. While, on the one hand, the climate of Tonquin is exempt from severe cold, it is free likewise from the burning heats of Africa; the proximity of the sea, and the prevalence of easterly winds, which blow from the watery element, (like our sea-breeze) preserving a sufficient degree of moisture. Of the sensitive properties of the air of Tonquin, circumstances are related which must appear odd, and even incredible to an European. If, in carrying a dead body past a betel-nut garden, the coffin is not hermetically sealed, the eituvia has, it is said, the effect of vitiating the fruit, and, after some time, of destroying the trees. Certain it is, that the influence of exhalations, noxious as they are in all countries, appears to be baneful in a particular degree in this; the inhabitants being under the necessity of sharpening their instruments of iron and steel almost every time that they are used. The month of February may be said to represent spring in this country; summer lasts during seven months, from the beginning of March to the end of September; October and November constitute the autumn; while December and January form the season of winter, if, in this climate, winter can be said to exist. The rains, though less strictly periodical in Tonquin than in other tropical regions, are in general violent from April to August, and their occurrence at this season moderates greatly the power of a vertical sun. The months of March, April, and May, are the least healthy of the year: but so extensive a territory necessarily furnishes many exceptions to any general rule. The monsoons are less regular than in other parts of Asia, but sufficiently uniform to afford considerable assistance in long voyages. During three quarters of a year a westerly wind rises regularly at midnight, and the fishermen take advantage of it to get out to sea. The tides vary according to the season, the lowest being in May, June, and July, and the highest in November, December, and January; though even these are inferior to the tides in Europe. The typhoon in the Tonquin seas is less dreadful than a West India hurricane, inasmuch as it does not envelope resisting bodies in whirlwinds : but it lasts generally for the space of twentyfour hours, and blows from each of the four cardinal points in succession, beginning commonly from the east. The seafaring people run their ships into harbours and roadsteads on its first appearance; while on shore the doors are barricadoed, and the roofs sometimes secured by ropes to prevent their being blown down.
It is generally believed in Tonquin that the maratime provinces have been gained from the sea, and various circumstances concur to favour that opinion. The number of rivers pouring down soil from the upper grounds must have tended to produce this effect in the course of ages; and in digging for wells, the inhabitants often meet with shells and the vestiges of fish. The soil towards the coast is in general slimy, and favourable for the cultivation of rice; while in the inountains it is often fertile, but on the whole highly fertile. Some cayerns are found in this country, of surprising magnitude; and inines of iron and other metals are in abundance. Mines of the precious metals also might, in all probability, be suc