صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
[ocr errors]

vinces. Constant changes in Indo-China.— The stability of China Proper and Japan for so many centuries, forms a remarkable contrast to the constant and total changes which have happened in the adjoining countries comprised under the name of Indo-China, the constituent

parts of which, are Cochin-China, Tonkin, Cambogia, Anjam or Loas, * Siam, and Burmah. One race of people destroyed the other, and was

again expelled and supplanted like the former, by subsequent con. querors. The kingdoms just mentioned as they exist at present, are erected upon the ruin of vanquished nations, whose history even, is frequently lost:

Alompra's Empire.-The territories of the Burmese empire had the same fate; and the present dynasty of Burmah is but of recent į origin. Alompra, assisted by favourable circumstances, after many

struggles, bloodshed, and devastation, finally overthrew Pegu, and established a new kingdom at Amarapoora, carrying from thence his victorious arms over a wide extent of country.

History of Tenasserim.The history of the Tenasserim provinces is involved in darkness. Who the first inhabitants were can scarcely even be guessed at, for it is not known who the inhabitants were four centuries ago. To judge from the Kareans inhabiting the interior, who seem to have outlived all revolutions of the successive conquests, and following analogy, whatever inhabitants there were they seem to have belonged to Mongolic races. Burmah as well as Siam and Cambogia, seem to have been originally peopled from the north, and it is very improbable that the inhabitants of Tenasserim were ever mixed with Malay blood. The comparatively late arrival of that race from Menamcaboo in Sumatra, in the Malay peninsula, in the districts of Jabor, Malacca, and Queda, where they formed colonies, is now almost universally adopted as a fact approaching to certainty, and if so, they had no time to disperse themselves towards the north.

Two hundred years ago the inhabitants seem to have been of Talian extraction, somewhat related to Siam ; and Martaban is men. tioned by the Portuguese as a place of great commercial importance ; the town of Tenasserim was an important fortress. The provinces remained under Siamese dominion until the latter part of the eighteenth century, when Alompra, the conqueror, took possession of them ; and notwithstanding the repeated contests and incursions of the Siamese, they remained a part of the Burman empire until they were incorpo. rated with the British empire in the east, in the year 1826.

Change of population. With new conquerors arrived new settlers. After Alompra’s conquest the Siamese seem altogether to have withdrawn, and to have been supplanted by the inhabitants of Burmah.

Forcible introduction of people.-In many cases the introduction of new inhabitants was forcibly effected ; of this we have still a proof among the Burmese inhabitants of the village of Tenasserim. After the conquest and destruction of this once important town, the governors of the province intended to rebuild it. The Burmese however, transplanted to that place, were more than any others exposed to the continuing invasions of the Siamese, who used to carry every Burmese into slavery. The inhabitants returned therefore repeatedly to the sea-coast, and Mergui became in consequence the chief town of the province. To force however the inhabitants to remain at Tenasserim, a number of people, formerly runaways, were marked with a painted ring round their eyes, and an inscription upon their chests, and many of the older inhabitants of Mergui and Tenasserim are yet to be found with these indelible signs.

People now inhabiting Tenasserim.-The people now inhabiting the Tenasserim provinces, altogether in number not exceeding one hundred thousand, are Burmese, Talians, Siamese, Kareans, Seelongs, and foreigners.

1. Burmese.—The Burmese, the former conquerors and lords, are to this day the most numerous. Their chief seat was Martaban; the settlement of Mergui was the second in importance; Ye the third. Maulmain is of recent origin, sprung up since the occupation of the country by the British.

Situation of their villages.-All villages, hamlets, and even solitary plantations of the Burmese, are near the sea-coast, or on the banks of navigable rivers, or creeks. They never established themselves far inland, even since the time of their first settlement in the country.

Apprehensions of Siamese incursions, natural predilection for water, and the facilities of transporting themselves and their goods through a country where roads do not exist, and if they exist, are with great difficulty kept in order, will be found the reason.

2. Talians-from whence. The Talians are the inhabitants of the kingdom of Pegu, formerly the lords of Burmah, now subdued, and the slaves of the Burmese, by whom they have been since that time always treated with severity and barbarity. The greatest part of the original country of this people consists of plains of fertile rice-ground; and from the disposition of the Talians it would seem that nature had marked them out for husbandmen, and especially rice planters.

[ocr errors]

Where settled.- From the great tracts of alluvion which the mighty Irawaddy deposited, and which its numerous branches now intersect, as well as from the banks of the Pegu and Sittary rivers,

the Talians extended to the Salween, compelled as it seems to spread ise and to retire, on account of the oppression exercised by the little controled Burmese governors.

The province of Martaban, part of which is at present British, and comprised under the name of the Province of Amherst, was also inha. bited by Talians, whence they seem to have spread from the banks of the Salween to the eastward, over the plains which are intersected by the waters of the Guin and Attaran. The mountain range to the east (now the frontier between Tenasserim and Siam) divided them from the river territories of the Menam, and appeared to form a barrier to their further extension from west to east.

Reasons of their migration towards the east.—But it seems the oppression of the Burmese in these districts, distant from the seat of government, must have been too severe to be borne; and forty thou. sand people expatriated themselves at once from the Province of Amherst into Siam, to exchange the yoke of Burmese rule for a milder despotism. When Amherst Province became British it was almost destitute of inhabitants.

Sensation and feelings of the Talians towards the British at the time of their first arrival. - At the commencement of the last Bur. mese war, the arrival of English soldiers in Pegu created an extraor. dinary sensation among the Peguans, the greater part of whom never before saw Europeans, who were represented to them as cannibals. When the first excitement subsided, and the people of Pegu had opportunities of perceiving that the foreign invaders were not only men like others, but much kinder enemies than they even thought compatible with the character of a soldier ; they began to assist the British army, their hatred against their old oppressors broke out a fresh and they sincerely desired the total downfall of Burmese despotism.

The historian must regret to record, that conquered Pegu was again restored to the court of Ava, at the peace of Yandaboo. By this, these faithful allies were inconsiderately, and we may say mercilessly, delivered up again into the hands of their irreconcilable oppressors ; an act, which they the least expected, as it was a notion incomprehensible to them, that a conqueror ever gives up voluntarily, what he once possessed indisputably. Many sought of course a refuge in the Tenasserim provinces, but many, chiefly those from dis. tant parts, could not remove their families and goods in the first in.

stance, and were afterwards prevented from effecting their escape by the Burmese authorities. The cession of the kingdom of Pegu is the only reproach which this unfortunate race has to urge against the English.

Maulmain peopled by Talians.—The new settlement of Maulmain opposite to Martaban, now the capital of the Tenasserim provinces, was at first almost entirely peopled by Talians, and to this day it is computed that the number of Burmese to that of the Talians is in the proportion of one to twenty.

Obliteration of their distinguishing features. The features of the Talians do not perceptibly distinguish them at present from the Burmese, the intermixture between the two races, which has taken place since many generations, has probably effaced or obliterated the distinguishing characteristics.

Existence of the Talian language.That they are however a distinct people, is proved by their language, which they have preserved to this day, and which is said to have scarcely any resemblance to the Burmese. It is fast declining, and will probably cease to exist should the Talians continue to be subject to foreign powers, and there seems to be no probability of their again becoming an independent nation.

Burmese language generally adopted.-In British Tenasserim the Burmese language is adopted as the language of the courts, of public transactions, and of general conversation, which is but fair, as the majority of the inhabitants speak that language, and it is no griev. ance to the Talians, as two-thirds of them speak Burmese besides their mother tongue. The chief and almost sole occupation of the Talians is agriculture, and almost exclusively rice cultivation; they scarcely ever retire to the mountains, the amphibious life of a rice planter during six months of the year being to them the most con. genial.

3. Withdrawal of the Siamese from Tenasserim.-Almost all the Siamese retired from these provinces after Alompra's conquest, except two villages to the south of Mergui, Boukpeen, and Lennya, where the Burmese had never resided; that part of the country, having al. ways remained a disputed district.

From the time of the conquest, and probably before that time, Siamese and Burmese never met except as foes, and the system of alternate petty warfare, accompanied by kidnapping, plunder, and devastation, was carried on without intermission along the frontier districts, which in consequence, were soon transformed into a waste, and such they remain to this day. The Siamese seem to have been the

[ocr errors]

24 most dexterous in their plundering expeditions, and were, besides their

greater daring, the most numerous ; for the Burmese in these provinces could only be considered as colonies, established partly by force, and kept up by dread.

Security established since the British occupation.—When security of person and property were established at the beginning of the British dominion, the Siamese government was given to understand that any such marauding excursions as were kept up under Burmese rule, would be considered as a breach of peace.

The Siamese government released a number of people, about one thousand from Mergui Province, carried away during the last incursion, who were delivered up

and returned to their homes.

The Siamese were of course permitted to come to the provinces on friendly terms. At first they were fearful, but when they perceived the difference between Burmese and English management, they gained confidence; as the Burmese subjects once fled to Siam, to seek shelter under a milder yoke, so the Siamese now seek a refuge in Tenasserim.

New settlements of Siamese. --The Siamese population, consisting entirely of recent emigrants, increases, and there are settlements of these fugitives in several parts of the country; their chief resort is the Province of Mergui, where they spread along the banks of the greater and lesser Tenasserim river.

Great difficulties it is said, are thrown in the way, on the part of the Siamese government, to prevent their migration. If caught, it is affirmed that decapitation is the inevitable consequence.

To reach the first British Tenasserim settlement, they have (besides the danger of being apprehended) great difficulties in passing through the pathless wilds; whole families not unfrequently lose their way, erring for a month or more in the forests, reduced to the greatest extremities, living upon jungle-fruits, leaves, and barks, before they arrive near the sea-coast. It may be imagined that without these impediments, the influx of Siamese would be much greater than it is at present.

Their character.—The Siamese are an industrious, hardy race, and more enterprising than the Burmese, besides being easily manageable, quiet, obedient, and orderly. They would be, in greater numbers, a desirable accession in the wilds of Tenasserim.

They are the only people who have introduced the cultivation of the sugar-cane, for the purpose of making sugar; of course as yet to such a limited extent, that it has not in any degree become important.

« السابقةمتابعة »