British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

35
STAMFORD RAFFLES TO LORD MINTO, 10 June 18111

. . . The annexation of Java and the Eastern Isles to our Indian empire, opens to the English nation views of so enlarged a nature, as seem equally to demand and justify a bolder policy, both of a commercial and political kind, than we could have lately contemplated. The countries which must, directly or indirectly, fall under our influence and authority, form a range of possessions which, with intervals of no great importance, extend nearly from the Bay of Bengal to our settlements on the continent of New Holland. These are occupied, excepting where the Dutch have taken the territorial possession into their own hands, by several small groups of principalities, none of which, taken separately, have any pretensions to the rank of a powerful or independent state. The tribes of which they are composed, though varying radically in customs, manners, religion, and language, and possessing very different degrees of civilization, have long been confounded by Europeans under the general appellation of Malays, a term which may still be retained for convenience. It may be safely affirmed that about the period when the Europeans first began to frequent these countries, they were not only much more populous, but the governments were more strong and steady, and the inhabitants in general much farther advanced in civilization. The Dutch, solely attentive to their own commercial interests, have, in their intercourse with these regions, invariably adhered to a more cold-blooded, illiberal, and ungenerous policy, than has ever been exhibited towards any country, unless we except the conduct of the European nations towards the slave-coast of Africa. In some instances, as in the case of the clusters of the Isles of Banda, the original inhabitants, when they opposed a resolute resistance to their encroachments, have been entirely extirpated. Whenever the natives have displayed great courage and magnanimity of character, as in the case of the Macasars of Guah, and the Bugis of Soping, these natives have been hunted down with a perseverance worthy of a better cause. Indeed, the domination of the Dutch in the Malay countries seems to have been maintained in direct opposition to all principles of natural justice and sound policy, and which amply deserves a degree of reprobation little short of their

____________________
1
Memoir of Sir T.S. Raffles, by his widow, Lond. 1830, pp. 69-71. (Sir) Stamford Raffles had been secretary to the Governor and Council at Penang. When Holland was annexed by the French, Lord Minto received permission to protect Java and Raffles was appointed Lieutenant-Governor in 1811. When, despite his remonstrances, Java was returned to the Dutch in 1816, Raffles was recalled, but was confirmed in office as Governor of Bencoolen the following year. In 1818 he was recognized as agent for British interests eastward of the Straits of Malacca and was successful in persuading the E.I. Company to purchase Singapore from the Sultan of Johore. Gilbert Elliot, first Earl Minto, had prepared with Burke the case for the impeachment of Hastings and Impey. He was appointed Governor-General of India in 1806.

-64-

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