p. x: In these latter regions there is indeed but one thing that mars the traveller’s enjoyment. The book of Nature lies freely open to him, but without years of study he cannot read it. It is written in an unknown language. He is confused with the unfamiliarity of the character and the apparently insuperable obstacles it presents. Such at least were my own feelings, although travel in tropic lands was no new thing to me. The few sentences I have deciphered have for the most part, I fear, been already translated by others, and in giving them to my readers I can only express my regret that Nature’s volume has not met with a better exponent.
p. 35: Eating, as well as reading, maketh a full man, and repletion and content are synonymous terms in other languages besides Japanese. “Estando contento no tiene masque desear,” says Sancho Panza, and the fact is accordingly announced with the accompaniment of various natural phenomena to which it is unnecessary to allude, and which are, to say the least of it, somewhat subversive of European decorum.
Dinner over, we took an unfair advantage of our guests, and again approached the subject of our visit to the capital of the island. This time, thanks to the “good familiar creature, well used,” things went smoothly, and it was arranged that we should start on the morrow if fine. We finished the evening over photographs and maps; and after the display on the part of our visitors of a knowledge of European history which put most of us to shame, they bade us adieu with bows so low and oft repeated, that our stiffer English backs suffered considerably in our vain endeavours to emulate them.
p. 229, at Tawi-tawi: The Commandant was pleased enough to have the dull monotony of his life interrupted by our arrival. He spoke Portuguese fluently, and aided by our letter of introduction from Don Julian Parrado, we were becoming very good friends when the door opened and the captain of the gun-boat reeled in. He helped himself to the Vermouth unasked, and turning round on us, abused us in the most violent terms for not having called on him before the Commandant—he “would teach the English to be as insolent to him again,” and so on, part of the harangue being, in the language of the police-courts, unfit for publication. He finally concluded by spitting in the Commandant’s face. We were on the eve of a row, for the brute was not sufficiently drunk to be harmless, but it happily passed over, and we left the house at once without further incident. The sight was scarcely an edifying one to the native soldiers by whom we were surrounded.
p. 265: re Borneo: From its size and importance it was naturally the first place with which Europeans became acquainted, and hence it came about that the great water city of the East and the island on which it was situated were known by one and the same name. Its large size and the extraordinary manner in which it is built have astonished travellers for the past three hundred years. Pigafetta and other older voyagers have described it, and in later times it has become familiar to those who have read the works of St. John, Keppel, and Earl. Even in these days of easy steam communication, however, Brunei is but little visited, and it is remarkable as being one of the largest places in the Eastern Archipelago, and at the same time destitute of a single European inhabitant.
p. 302, in the Dutch Celebes [New Guinea]: Our host was a very handsome man of about five and thirty, who had been specially appointed to the district by the Dutch Government on account of his knowledge of coffee-planting. We found him reading the “Revue des Deux Mondes,” and soon discovered that his ideas were by no means exclusively centred in coffee. Keenly interested in European affairs, in politics, and in art, he proved a most pleasant companion, and, by his kindness and readiness to show us the district, made our visit a most agreeable one. In addition to his own language he spoke Malay, Javanese, and Tondano, besides English, French, and German.
p. 313, on Talisse Island: We went ashore and introduced ourselves to the manager of the estate, a half-caste gentleman of the name of Rijkschroeff, whom we found reading a life of Dryden in Dutch! He was a most pleasant fellow, had been wounded in the Atjeh war, and had seen many vicissitudes.