FROM England to Pinang, by way of the Suez Canal, is a voyage of about eight thousand miles, and the last stage of it, from Colombo to Achin Head, the northern point of Sumatra, is practically due east Turning that comer, the vessel steams down the east coast of Sumatra and then crosses to the Malay Peninsula, Pinang being a very small island at the northern end of the Malacca Strait, just off the coast of what used to be part of the Malay State of Kedah. The strip of territory facing Pinang was ceded to the East India Company a century ago; it is now British, and is called Province Wellesley. A reference to the map will show the exact positions of Pinang and the Province, as well as of Malacca, Singapore, and the Federated Malay States, far better than could be done by any written description, but the reader should understand at once that the following pages are concerned with the British Crown Colony known as the Straits Settlements, comprising Pinang, Province Wellesley and the Dindings, Malacca and Singapore; with Perak, Selangor, Negri

Sambllan, and Pahang, which constitute the Federated Malay States ; with Johore and Trengganu, independent states, the former of which is under British protection ; and with a number of other states over which Siam claims suzerainty.

What strikes the traveller, as his ship rounds the northern end of Pinang, is the extraordinary beauty of the scene to which he is introduced with almost startling suddenness. On his right is the island, a vision of green verdure, of steep hills rising from the water's edge till they culminate in a peak 2500 ft. high. The sides of these hills are partly forest, partly cultivated, but everywhere green, with the freshness and colour of tropical vegetation washed by frequent rains. About the hills, at varying heights, are picturesque buildings nestling amongst the trees or standing on outcrops of grey rock. Down by the shore — a fascinating in-and-out shore of little sandy bays and little rocky promontories — there is a deep belt of palms, shading but not altogether concealing quantities of brown cottages. Then a broad ribbon of sand, sometimes dazzlingly white, sometimes streaked, or wholly tinted, with burnt sienna ; and so the sea, a very wonderful summer sea, blue or grey or pale gold, under different conditions of sunlight, often chequered by great purple and indigo cloud shadows. Along the beach lie boats and nets set out to dry ; black nets and brown nets, of immense length, stretched on a framework of poles ; quaint objects and infinitely picturesque, but not more so than the fishing stakes, the upper half of which stand above the water, many fathoms from the shore, on the edge of every sand bank. That is what you see as you round the north foreland, by the loftily-placed lighthouse ; and then, in a moment, there is the town, and the ship seems to be running into its main street The white buildings and red roofs, which house a hundred thousand people, crammed closely together on the flat tongue of

land that stretches, from the foot of Pinang Hill, right oat into the Strait which divides it from the mainland, just as though the island were ever trying to get its foot back on to the opposite shore. And when the red roofs cease to catch the eye as a mass, they twinkle at you, here and there, from out the foliage of garden and orchard, till all is merged in green and purple against the background of that great hill.

Close in shore, beside the busy quays, are hundreds and hundreds of strange craft, a very forest of masts and rigging rising from acres of fantastically coloured hulls, of every form and every nationality the Further East produces. There are Chinese junks, small and great, with painted eyes on their low, narrow bows, and quaint erections on their high, wide stems ; there are Malay schooners, and fast boats, and fishing boats, things so small and so crank that only an amphibious creature, like the Malay, would trust himself in them. There are huge, unwieldy cargo boats, manned by natives of Southern India, and propelled by immense heavy sweeps when there is no wind to fill their single square sail. There are wicked-looking Bugis vessels from Celebes, low in the water, with black hulls, fine lines, brown canvas or yellow palm-leaf sails; clumsy old craft from Sumatra and the Malay States ; Chinese junks, piled high with firewood or palm thatch; long rakish Chinese fishing boats, loaded with dark brown nets ; scores and scores of every eastern boat that swims, navigated by black and brown and yellow men, in every kind of dress and undress known from Japan to Jeddah.

These form the inner line, five or six boats deep, stretching as far south as the eye can reach. Then there are steam launches, of every colour and size, and every degree of cleanliness or dirtiness, rushing or crawling about the harbour, some full of passengers, some empty ; while a few ride silently at anchor, here and there, amongst

the crowd of small coasting steamers, which puff and squeal, arrive or depart, take or discharge cargo, or simply rest between two voyages. And last the outer line, where, in midstream, a few large steamers and sailing vessels strain at cables. But, there is another shore, upon the other side,the shore of Province Wellesley, distant from the nearest point of Pinang, about two miles. Far to north and far to south, an endless grove of palm trees fringes the strip of yellow sand, which is sometimes land and sometimes sea. Behind the palms are acres of rice fields, villages, hamlets, and isolated huts ; then low hills, forest, and higher hills ; range upon range in ever rising steps, till the eye loses count in heat waves, mist, and distance. Nearly due north, a little inland, and distant about thirty-five miles, stands the sharp peak of Gunong Jerai, five thousand feet high. Almost in a line with this mountain, some hazily-blue islands seem to swim on the surface of the sea. Looking south, the coast line of Pinang curves, crescent-wise, to its extreme point, and in the land-locked space of water are islands, large and small, clad like the rest in green. What is called the South Channel is not often used now except by coasting steamers, but the approach to Pinang is even more attractive by this route than by the North Channel. The beauty of the place comes more gradually, sinks deeper into the appreciation, and leaves a picture of form and colour, a sensation of real warmth and real life, which only the East can offer. This feeling will be intensified if the traveller is fortunate enough to see what I have tried to describe under the glamour of a moonlit night.

Yet the pride of Pinang is the Hill, and those who reach the summit will not regret the effort Looking westward, the eye travels over a wide expanse of jungle — covered slopes, and foot hills, pierced by narrow cultivated valleys, till it rests on the " measureless expanse of ocean." One

may gaze for hours, fascinated by the ever-changing effects of sunlight and shadow playing on the mirror of the sea. Northward lie the islands, coast, and sharply outlined peak of Kedah ; while to the south are lower ranges of the main hill, the rice fields and the sinuous coast line of Pinang. Due west is the ship-board view reversed, only softened by height and distance. There are the woods, with their half-hidden dwellings, leading up to a flat but ever-narrowing plain, completely covered by white, red- roofed buildings, broken here and there by groups of dark trees. Then the shining stretch of water, carrying its burden of ships and boats, the smaller craft looking like queer black insects ; and last, the long coast line of Province Wellesley, with its palms and rice fields and winding rivers, the whole bounded by successive ranges of blue hills, the most distant summits lost in clouds.

Seventy miles south are just visible some islands off the coast of Peak, and the traveller who means to see Malacca, and prefers a journey by ship to one by rail, will appreciate their beauty on closer inspection. Mail steamers do not call at Malacca, so the voyage from Pinang, about two hundred and fifty miles, must be made in some humbler vessel. She will probably reach the roadstead before dawn, and the passenger will have the advantage of landing at the ancient port in the early morning. Even small vessels cannot get within less than two or three miles of the shore, and whilst covering that distance in a launch or more probably a Malacca boat, the visitor will first be struck by the curious spectacle of a town with its legs in the sea. The reason is that the houses which face the main street of Malacca have their backs to the shore, and the space between road and sea is so narrow that the Chinese, who love deep, narrow houses, have built out over the water ; this end of the building being supported upon high pillars of a peculiar red stone called laterite. The effect is strange but picturesque, and from the

Malacca River, where Albuquerque and his men performed such deeds of valour, to the northern end of the town, every house on the sea side of the long main street has one foot on land and one in the sea. On the south side of the river, and close to it, is the landing-place ; further south still, a long pier with the end still in very shallow water. Beyond the fact that a sea-wall protects a broad strip of close green turf, with great ansenna trees planted at intervals along its edge, while a small hill, crowned by the ruins of an ancient church, shows well above the trees, there is nothing particular to be seen from the boat Quite near the landing-place, and close to the left bank of the river, is the old Dutch Stadt House, a very solid old-world building, approached by flights of steps. The house is built round a square, stone-paved courtyard, with a double flight of stone steps leading up to the side of the hill, on the summit of which are the walls of the roofless old Portuguese church. There is also on this bill the house of the Resident Councillor of Malacca, with a most attractive garden of very ancient date. The view from the hill is enchanting, whether one looks southward over the orchards and villages to Gunong Ledang, called Mount Ophir, or westward to the hill which has been appropriated by the Chinese as their fashionable burying-place; or over the dark red roofs of Malacca town, across the rice-fields and cocoanut groves to Cape Rachado in the north. Drive along any road in Malacca and you can feast your eyes on a picture which is typical of cultivated Malaya at its best On either hand there will be rice fields : emerald-green when newly planted, golden with ripe grain, or brown when fallow. These are studded by topes of lofty palms shading a few brown huts. The distance is always shut in by hills of a marvellous blue. But of all roads the most lovely is that which runs along the very edge of the coast, passing through palm groves and villages, with vistas of rice fields and blue hills on one side, and

on the other spaces of water, green or blue, grey or blood-red, molten silver or black, under the varying conditions of sunlight and shadow, of eastern day or eastern night. There are no Malay villages, no country scenes, more picturesque than those of Malacca; and if the visitor chances to meet a wedding party in bullock carts, or a Malay funeral procession ; if he witnesses a fleet of fishing boats putting out at sunset, or homing at dawn ; and has eyes to see and to appreciate the colours, the movement, the strange people with their strangely beautiful surroundings, the scene will live in his memory for all time.
Singapore is 120 miles south-east of Malacca, a few miles north of the southernmost point in Asia ; the island stands sentinel at the narrow gate which divides the Straits of Malacca from the China Sea. A dozen ocean-going steamers pass into or out of its harbours every day, and most of these vessels call at no other port in the Straits. By good fortune, it commonly happens that, owing to the dangers of navigation in such narrow seas, one arrives at dawn and leaves at sunset In either case, the most unobservant must be struck by a scene as beautiful as it is unusual Long before making the Karimun Islands (which are thirty-five miles from Singapore, on the right as you come from the west), the coast of the Malay Peninsula has been visible ; a low coast covered by mangroves growing out into the water. Ten miles from the narrow entrance to the harbour the vessel passes between the mainland (and later the shores of Singapore) and a succession of small islands, which gradually converge till they seem to bar further progress. Just when the space of water has so narrowed that the forts and guns, on either side of the channel, become visible to the practised eye, the bow of the vessel swings to the left, through jade-green eddying waters, and she slowly forces her way along a channel so narrow that it will only just admit the safe meeting of two

large steamers. Still there are islands, quantities of islands, large and small, but only large by comparison. They are covered with foliage, with gardens, with cool pleasant-looking bungalows, with barracks and other military buildings. Near the water the soil, where you can see it, is more red than brown, and the rocks, where they come through the soil, are much more red than grey. But the water is always green, and clear, and swirling ; it looks and is very deep, and the foliage of the islands is repeated on its surface, in dark green reflections. Then the passage widens somewhat, the shore of Singapore becomes one interminable line of wharves, against which lie an almost unbroken chain of ships, flying every known flag, but mostly the red ensign of Britain. The wharves, the warehouses, the docks, the coal-sheds, seem parts of some gigantic manhive, where men of every colour, in every conceivable garb, load and unload, gather and stack and store, every imaginable human production, from locomotives and lanterns, to mail bags and matches, pianos and pickaxes. Behind the ships, and wharves, and docks, and warehouses are roads, with a ceaseless traffic of people, carts, and carriages ; then villages and green hills, chequered by houses and gardens. Across the waterway there are still islands, far as the eye can reach ; but they are curving seawards, and whilst those nearest are covered, or partly covered, by buildings and chimneys or groups of Malay huts straggling off the land right out into the water, as though they had walked there on stilts, there are others green with pineapples or jungle, and others still, away in the distance, like opals on the shining surface of the water. It is a thousand to one that the vessel, which brings the stranger from a distance, will tie up alongside the wharves, and he will then enter the town by a drive along a dusty, crowded road. The more excellent way is that of the small steamer which, skirting the long line of wharves, makes for the roads and gives the traveller the best and most compre

hensive view of the Lion City, Queen of Far Eastern Seas.
Between the docks and the town, a bold headland, crowned by a battery, juts out into the water, and forms the southern horn of a crescent which embraces the whole city ; till the land curves round to a far distant point, where a thick grove of palms faintly indicates the northern horn. Singapore from the Roads is very fair to see. From Mount Palmer (the fortified headland), to the Singapore River — that is, about one-third of the crescent — there is an unbroken mass of buildings, shining and white, facing the sea. The next third is green with grass and trees, through which are caught glimpses of public buildings and the spires of churches, backed by low hills, on one of which, in the distance, stands white and stately the Governor's residence. The remaining third is again covered by closely packed houses, seen indistinctly through a forest of masts. The space enclosed by the beach and a line drawn from horn to horn of the crescent, would contain about 1500 acres of water, and that is the real harbour of Singapore. Native craft, mainly Chinese junks, great and small, with hundreds of other vessels of every form, and size, and rig, lie crowded together in the northern half, while the southern half is occupied by numbers of small coasting steamers. Outside, in the deeper water, four or five miles from shore, is the man-of-war anchorage. As for launches and cargo boats, fishing boats, passenger boats, and pleasure yachts, their name is legion, and their goings to and fro, day and night, are ceaseless. The Singapore river is so tightly packed with hundreds of small craft that it is difficult enough to preserve a fairway to admit of passage. On shore it is the same ; the place is seething with life, and, to the unaccustomed eye, the vehicles to be met with in the streets are almost as strange as the boats in the harbour ; while such a medley of nationalities, such a babel of languages, surely finds no parallel in all the

world. Of colour and life there is enough to satisfy the greediest ; of heat and dust and strange smells there are usually too much for the western visitor. Only the extraordinary novelty of the scene, the wonderful colouring, the unusual interest, will banish every other feeling — for a time.

Each of the three Settlements, which together form the Straits Colony, has attractions of its own, peculiar to itself, though all have much in common. Pinang has its hill, with that glorious view, and it also has Province Wellesley, where one can see the Malay and his rice fields, but not quite as they are to be found in Malacca. There Is a romance of age, of experience, of a full life lived, which remains with Malacca to-day as the heritage of her history. Malacca has drifted out of the stream of endeavour, away from the struggle for riches and greatness. She has drifted into the back waters of Time, and her attractions, for the dreamer, the lover of beauty and the student, may be greater than those of her sisters. Singapore has a history too, far more significant than and as full of thrilling incident as that of Malacca ; but of her former glory not a trace is left, not a stone remains to recall her ancient greatness, and little more than tradition to establish the fact that it ever existed. Yet it did exist, seven or eight hundred years ago, and perhaps not then for the first time ; and to-day it has come again, with new life, to flourish as never before. No stranger will approach this far eastern fortress, these wharves, and docks, and coalsheds, weaving stories of its long-forgotten past ; his eyes will glean unmeasured delight from the rich colours of ever-changing landscape and seascape, the countless islands and the wonderful harbour, half circled by a sunlit shore. But his mind will carry away an impression foreign to the east, a sense of hurry, of movement, of boats driven fast through the water, by steam or sail, of straining oars propelling deep-laden barges, of bustling

crowds jostling each other in the streets, of white and yellow, brown and black men, intent on something that matters, that makes for money. That is the new Singapore, where the traveller and his kind are the only idlers.

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