AN incident, which must always be connected with the history of Malacca, has introduced Raffles as the leading figure in the final arrangements for the dispatch of Lord Minto's expedition for the conquest of Java.

Stamford Raffles, who has written his name for all time in the book of great English Empire builders, was the son of the master of a West Indiaman, and the boy was bom on board ship on 5 July, 1781. After a very brief schooling Raffles, at the age of fourteen, became a clerk in the offices of the East India Company in Leadenhall Street, and when only twenty-four he was sent to join the Pinang establishment as an assistant secretary. Raffles began to learn Malay on his voyage to the East, and from the moment he reached Pinang he devoted all his leisure to the study of the language and people with whom his lot was cast, and for whom he appears to have conceived a great sympathy and affection. This characteristic not only won him the confidence of the Malays, but through the instrumentality of Dr. Leyden, who met him in Pinang, it brought his name prominently to the notice of Lord Minto, and laid the foundations of that knowledge of Malay affairs which so soon carried him to the front and established his fame as Lieutenant-Governor of Java, and later as the founder of Singapore.
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About 1807 Raffles visited Calcutta, where he was received with great kindness by the Governor-General, and returned to the Straits with the title of Governor-General's Agent in the Eastern Seas. This appointment gave him a position of semi-independence, and enabled him to collect alt the information necessary to determine the Government to dispatch an expedition for the capture of Java. We have seen how the force, six thousand British and six thousand Indian troops, in ninety vessels, rendezvoused at Malacca, from whence they sailed on 11 June, 1811, under the personal direction of Lord Minto with Raffles as his chief Intelligence Officer. The army landed near Batavia on 4 August, occupied that place on the 9th, and on the 25th fought the decisive Battle of Cornelis, where we lost five hundred men, and the enemy, under General Janssens, four thousand, while five thousand were taken prisoners.

Six weeks later Lord Minto returned, leaving Raffles as Lieutenant-Governor of the newly conquered, populous and fertile island with all its dependencies. It is certainly remarkable that Raffles, with no family or other influence, and little education except what was due to his own industry, should, at the age of thirty, after only six years in the East, have found himself in a position of such honour and responsibility. The fact is immensely creditable to Raffles, and not less so to the discernment and sound judgement of the Governor-General.

It cannot but be interesting to have a description of such a personality at such a moment ; and the interest is all the deeper when the picture is drawn by one who was daily and hourly studying his subject with the alert intelligence of a bright Malay boy. Reference has been made to Abdullah's history, and this is Raffles, in 1811, drawn by Abdullah's pen. I have only put the writer's words into English : —

Singapore River


" Now as to the appearance of Mr. Raffles, I noticed that he was of medium height, neither tall nor short, neither stout nor thin. His forehead was wide, a sign of great power of organization, and the front of his head was large, a sign of ability. His hair was light, a sign of courage ; his ears were broad, to enable him to hear everything; his eyebrows were strongly marked ; he had a cast in his left eye ; his nose was thin, the sign of a clever talker : his tongue was persuasive, his mouth large, and his neck of a good length. His complexion was not excessively fair ; be bad a broad chest, a small waist, and feet of medium size. When be walked, it was with a slight stoop. As to his manner, he seemed generally to be absorbed in thought He was extraordinarily courteous, with a pleasant face and word for every one, of every station, and a wide sympathy for all men. He was generous to the poor. He was very clever in repartee, and whenever he spoke it was always with a smile. He had a great power of getting out the details of long past events, and he never let a matter go till he bad got to the bottom of it He preferred quiet places, and he was for ever writing or reading books. Whenever he was studying or talking, it did not matter who came to his house, he would not see them till he had finished. I also observed that he did everything with method ; taking each in its turn, and never jumbling up one with another. I noticed also that in the evening, when he had had his tea with his friends, there were always ready, on a large table, pens, ink and paper, and two lighted candles. And when he was tired of walking up and down the room, be would lean right down on the table and shut his eyes like one weary and asleep. Two or three times I thought he was asleep, when suddenly he would start up and write, and then return to his former attitude. He would go on like that till eleven or twelve o'clock when he went to bed. That was his daily custom, except when he had friends. When he woke in the morning, he would read what he had


written the night before, walking backwards and forwards all the time; Out of ten pages which he read, he would give three or four to a clerk to copy into a book ; the rest he would tear up and throw away." 
This is not the place to speak of the remarkable work done by Raffles during his five years in Java ; but when he left the island in 1816, it was to go to England for a much-needed rest In 1817 he was appointed Lieutenant- Governor of Bencoolen, in Sumatra, a miserable out-of-the-way place, to which he was sent by those who feared his restless energy. Raffles reached Bencoolen in March, 1818, and in April he was already insisting upon the necessity of finding a suitable spot on which to establish a British Settlement, to counteract the aggressive and exclusive policy of the Dutch.

The spot selected was the island of Singapore, at the southern extremity of the Straits of Malacca, and there a preliminary treaty was concluded with the local Malay chief, the Dato Temenggong of Johore, on 30 January, 1819, and a more formal document was drawn up on 6 February, 1819, between Sir Stamford Raffles, on behalf of the Honourable East India Company, and Sultan Husein of Johore and the Dato Temenggong. How Singapore came to be chosen for the British Settlement and the steps which actually led up to the making of the treaties are questions which have been greatly argued. The interest which now attaches to these matters has grown out of the succession of controversies raised by different writers on the subject The generally accepted version is that Raffles, having been to Calcutta and persuaded the Supreme Government that his view of the situation was correct, returned to Bencoolen with authority to select and occupy, at the southern end of the Malacca Straits, a position which would act as a barrier to Dutch influence and open the door to the extension of British trade in the Malay Archipelago. At this very


time Colonel Farquhar, the Resident of Malacca, was about to return to England, as Malacca was on the point of being handed back to the Dutch under the terms of the Treaty of Vienna. Whilst in Malacca Colonel Farquhar had been under the Government of Pinang, and, by their instructions, he had attempted to secure a suitable position for a British Settlement on the island of Bentan, in the neighbourhood of Singapore. This attempt had failed (owing to the action of the Dutch, who had seized Rhio), and the Pinang Government abandoned the scheme as hopeless. Colonel Farquhar had, however, discharged his duties to the satisfaction of the authorities in Calcutta, and they, thinking that his experience and services would be very useful to Raffles, wrote to Colonel Farquhar directing him to postpone his departure, and to place himself at the disposal of Raffles for the selection of a new station which, when occupied, would be placed under his charge.

Raffles was also entrusted with a mission to Achin, and his instructions were to deal first with that question and then proceed to the selection of the new Settlement. Raffles, apparently at the instance of the Government of Pinang, determined to let the Achin matter wait and immediately sailed down the Straits, picking up Colonel Farquhar somewhere — certainly not at Malacca — on the way. Raffles and Farquhar then visited and abandoned in turn Siak, on the east coast of Sumatra, and the Karimun Islands. Disappointed with these places, they sailed for Johore and, either by accident or design, landed at Singapore. Finding this place almost uninhabited and with great natural advantages. Raffles immediately determined to acquire it, and to that end made a preliminary arrangement with the local chief This Malay chief was the Dato Temenggong of Johore, a high officer of the Sultan of Johore, who asserted that he had certain special rights over Singapore, though by his action, and by his other


statements to the English officers, it was clear that any arrangement made by him must be subject to the approval and confirmation of the Sultan of Johore.

At this time, owing to intrigues and a variety of circumstances needless to relate, the younger of two brothers had, on the death of their father and during the temporary absence of the elder and rightful heir, been persuaded to allow himself to be proclaimed Sultan of Johore. It was also known that this younger brother was under the influence of designing people with Dutch sympathies. Raffles, therefore, sent at once to Rhio for the elder brother, Tunku Husein, otherwise called Tunku Long, and on his arrival in Singapore he was duly proclaimed Sultan of Johore, His title and authority were formally recognized by Raffles, on behalf of the East India Company, and a new treaty was made on 6 February, 1819, between Raffles on the one hand and the Sultan Husein and the Temenggong on the other, by which the Malays granted to the British Government the right to settle on the island.

A further arrangement, dealing with administrative questions, was entered into on 26 June, 1819 ; yet another agreement was made in June, 1S23 ; and the final treaty, by which Singapore is now held, is dated 19 November, 1824.

All this seems plain and simple enough, but seeing the immense success of Singapore under English rule, its rapid rise, its great natural advantages, its unique position and immense importance to the Imperial Government, the interest of many intelligent men who had a hand in its advancement was, years ago, aroused to ascertain and record the exact facts of its occupation as a British Settlement. In the course of the inquiries which began then and have continued spasmodically ever since, some claim has been made to give Colonel Farquhar at least a part of the credit for choosing Singapore as the new English

Smelting Works at Singapore Keppel Harbour


station. That claim was asserted by Colonel Farquhar in his lifetime, but it found few supporters, and the theory generally accepted is the one just stated. To support it there are a number of official documents, a few statements in letters from Raffles — not very definite or positive statements — added to the general belief that Raffles alone was responsible for the selection of Singapore, as well as for the far-seeing and broad-minded policy on which the place was nurtured into greatness. A stronger proof than anything before advanced is probably to be found in the original Malay treaty, lately unearthed by the diligent inquiries of Mr. C. B. Buckley, a photographic copy of which is to be found in his interesting book. An Anecdotal History of Singapore. This is the treaty of 30 January, 1819, between Sir Stamford Raffles and the Dato Temenggong of Johore, signed by Raffles and sealed by both the parties.

To those who have no special interest in the Straits the question may seem to be of small importance, but it is impossible to leave it without drawing attention to the fact that Abdullah, who in his History gives several most carefully written chapters to the search for a place on which to found a new British Settlement, and to the actual occupation of Singapore, not only does not mention that Raffles was present when the expedition landed at Singapore, but distinctly and several times says he was not there.

Some of these chapters were translated and published many years ago, and those writers who have referred to them, in connexion with this question, were satisfied to dismiss Abdullah's record with the statement that he admits he only went to Singapore four months after its occupation, and therefore that his account is all hearsay. A careful examination of the original Hikaiat Abdullah leaves the reader in doubt on this point, for several reasons which need not be gone into here. It might be argued


that the visit paid to the Settlement, when it was four months old, was not the first; but if it was, then Abdullah, long before mentioning that fact, has recounted several personal adventures of his own in Singapore which must of necessity have occurred subsequent to his arrival, and should have so appeared in his book. If there were no evidence available beyond Abdullah's History, it would be difficult to believe that Sir Stamford Raffles was present when Colonel Farquhar landed at Singapore. The preliminary treaty of 30 January, i8i9,with the Temenggong, the treaty of 6 February, 1819, with the Sultan and Temenggong, both signed by Raffles, and the instructions which Sir Stamford addressed to Colonel Farquhar on 6 February, 1819, settle this question absolutely in a contrary sense. 
Raffles' knowledge of Malay history, or tradition, would have made him acquainted with the fact that, six hundred years earlier, ages before Portuguese or Dutch had been heard of in the Far East, Singapore had been a thriving, populous city, the foremost in the Archipelago. Yet we know that Raffles' first idea was to found a station in the Straits of Sunda, and he actually did attempt to create such a place, but it was a failure. When he sailed down the Straits of Malacca in January, 1819, and met Colonel Farquhar, it is probable that Raffles may have had Singapore in his mind as a suitable spot for his settlement, if be found nothing better. Colonel Farquhar, who had been some years at Malacca, where he had made friends with Tunku Husein, and probably discussed with him the possibility of finding a good station in the vicinity of Johore, ought to have known the neighbourhood much better than Raffles. Moreover, Colonel Farquhar had already visited Rhio at least once, and that journey must have taken him past the Johore side of Singapore, both going and returning. Siak was useless, and the Karimun Islands, which seem to have been the suggestion of Colonel


Farquhar, were also unsuitable. Raffles' instructions from the Supreme Government were, that he was to negotiate for a firm position at Achin, in Sumatra, and endeavour to establish "a station beyond Malacca." The port of Rhio was specifically named, and failing that place, on account of its being previously occupied by the Dutch, Raffles was directed "to endeavour to establish a connexion with the Sultan of Johore," his instructions adding : "The position of Johore renders it nearly, or perhaps entirely, as convenient a post for our purposes as Rhio." It is therefore probable that the expedition was cruising along without a definite destination when, passing Singapore, the explorers decided to put in there and consult the Dato Temenggong, who had made Singapore his headquarters since 1811. The splendid roadstead and other natural advantages once seen, there would be no further doubt, and Raffles lost no time in coming to terms with the Malay chief whom he found on the spot ; though he realized at once that, to secure his title, he must have the consent of the Sultan of Johore. Tunku Husein's presence was a necessity; he was summoned from Rhio, proclaimed Sultan of Johore (a title to which he had an absolute right), and the more formal treaty of 6 February was then concluded. Raffles immediately sailed for Pinang and Sumatra to carry out his mission to Achin, and report to the Governor-General, the Marquis of Hastings; white Colonel Farquhar was left in charge of the infant Settlement. The exact facts are not of real importance ; but it is more than probable that Raffles, by good luck and without assistance from others, selected Singapore as the site of his avowedly anti-Dutch pro-British Station. The idea of such a post was Raffles' own ; for it is probable that his instructions were drafted on information supplied by himself, and in that case it is noticeable that Rhio and Johore are indicated as likely places, but not Singapore; he went South with the


express object of carrying out his favourite scheme before his masters could have time to change their minds, or his rivals to anticipate his design. Colonel Farquhar was only there to help his senior, and it is certain that, if there had been no Raffles in 1819, there would have been no British Singapore to-day.

The recognition of the value of Singapore island to meet all the requirements of the situation, and its acquisition from those entitled to dispose of it, were very simple matters compared with the difficulty of retaining a hold upon it and of convincing the Governor-General, the Board of the East India Company, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the British Government, and the British people, that the island must on no account be given up. The Marquis of Hastings, under whose directions Raffles started with the special intention of occupying a position in Johore, wrote to the Governor of Pinang, less than two months later, to say that Raffles was not justified in sending Major Farquhar eastward in the face of a Dutch protest, and " if the post has not yet been obtained he is to desist from any further attempt to establish one " ! Fortunately the post had been obtained, and the weathercock-mind of the Governor-General veered round once again. The members of the East India Board were furious, and the ministers of the Crown were "excessively angry." Indeed, had it not been for Raffles, his insistence, his arguments, his labours to secure supporters for his scheme, it is certain that Singapore would have been abandoned by the British, and equally certain that it would now be a Dutch possession. Raffles made it, and Raffles saved it ; but even he alone could not have kept the place if the interest of the English mercantile community had not been aroused, and they had not exerted their influence to retain Singapore. Raffles' genius and patriotism were rewarded by endless worry, by the disapproval of his employers, and by public censure from his country's ministers.

Cargo Boats in Singapore


The jealousy of the Pinang Government (which had failed in its own attempt to secure a Settlement at Rhio), even tried to wreck Raffles' scheme; they refused to render assistance to Colonel Farquhar when he feared an attack ; suggested that he ought to withdraw all his people rather than risk an engagement, and advised the Calcutta authorities to abandon Singapore to the Dutch !

Time, mercantile influence, and the ever-growing success of the new station won the day. But fate seems to have been strangely malign, for with the assurance of the certain prosperity of his Settlement came the end of Raffles' career.

Raffles, the most assiduous worker, the most enthusiastic collector of everything which could advance the cause of knowledge and of science, sailed for England from Bencoolen in a small vessel called the Fame on 2 February, 1824. The same evening the vessel caught fire, and those on board had barely time to get out of the ship into small boats before she was nothing but a mass of flames. Sir Stamford and Lady Raffles and the rest of those saved from the Fame got back to Bencoolen with no little difficulty, but the fruits of many years' work in Sumatra and Singapore — the notes, the maps, the books, the collections of every kind, including many wild animals and birds — had gone utterly and for ever. Raffles himself was already broken in health ; he had lost his first wife in Java and three children in Bencoolen, and when, two mouths later, he finally left Sumatra and the Far East, he had exhausted his energies in the service of the Company and his country. Two years of further worry in England, of charges and claims by his late employers, resulted in his death at the age of forty-five. Comparatively few people in England know the name of Stamford Raffles or what it stands for ; and yet to him we owe the possession of Singapore, the Gate of the Farther East, a naval base of the highest importance, a great commercial centre, and


the most prosperous of British Crown Colonies. Indirectly, the foresight which secured Singapore for the British Empire led also to the extension of British influence throughout the States of the Malay Peninsula, a territory which, under British protection and guidance, has not only far surpassed in rapid development the progress of Raffles' Settlement, but has enormously contributed to the prosperity of both Pinang and Singapore, and proved itself to be, in proportion to its area, one of the richest countries in the world.

In all this, no British party and no British Government can claim to have taken any part, except by grudgingly assenting to what had been done, almost without their knowledge, entirely against their wishes. The man to whom the credit belongs gave his talents and his life to achieve an end which he believed to be necessary to the prestige, the power, and the trade of England in the Far East He died on 5 July, 1826, and was buried in England, but no one knows where to find his grave.

The single consolation vouchsafed to Raffles was the knowledge that Singapore had succeeded beyond his fondest hopes, and that, in the esteem and affection of all classes and nationalities there, he held a place which he never could lose. When he left the island for the last time, in June, 1823, the European and native merchants presented him with an address which contains the following passage : —

" To your unwearied zeal, your vigilance, and your comprehensive views, we owe at once the foundation and maintenance of a Settlement unparallelled for the liberality of the principles on which it has been established ; principles the operation of which has converted, in a period short beyond all example, a haunt of pirates into the abode of enterprise, security, and opulence.

" While we acknowledge our own peculiar obligations to you, we reflect at the same time with pride and satisc-


tion upon the active and beneficent means by which you have promoted and patronized the diffusion of intellectual and moral improvement, and we anticipate with confidence their happy influence in advancing the cause of humanity and civilization."

Raffles acknowledged this letter, and in the course of his reply, wrote : —

" It has happily been consistent with the policy of Great Britain, and accordant with the principles of the East India Company, that Singapore should be established as a free port ; that no sinister, no sordid view, no considerations either of political importance or pecuniary advantage, should interfere with the broad and liberal principles on which the British interests have been established. Monopoly and exclusive privileges, against which public opinion has long raised its voice, are here unknown, and while the Free Port of Singapore is allowed to continue and prosper, as it hitherto has done, the policy and liberality of the East India Company, by whom the Settlement was founded, and under whose protection and control it is still administered, can never be disputed.

" That Singapore will long and always remain a free port, and that no taxes on trade or industry will be established to check its future rise and prosperity, I can have no doubt I am justified in saying thus much, on the authority of the Supreme Government of India, and on the authority of those who are most likely to have weight in the Councils of our nation at home.

" For the public and peculiar mark of respect which you. Gentlemen, have been desirous of showing me on the occasion of my departure from the Settlement, I beg that you will accept my most sincere thanks. I know the feeling which dictated it, I acknowledge the delicacy with which it has been conveyed, and I prize most highly the gratifying terms to me personally in which it has been expressed."


Raffles' whole connexion with Singapore extended from February, 1819, to June, 1823, just over four years, and in that time he only visited the island three times ; but during those visits, by his personal influence and direction and by the written instructions which he issued to the Resident, he laid the foundations of that liberal and enlightened administration which secured the immediate and lasting success of the Settlement There is no need to detract from the credit due to others to increase Raffles' fame. His personality and his services were big enough to place him beyond the reach of comparison with men of his own time in eastern administration, but in matters of detail his judgement was sometimes hasty, and he did not like opposition. Singapore has to thank Farquhar and not Raffles for the splendid esplanade, which is one of the most attractive features of the island.

If we have no picturesque record of Raffles' first landing on the shores of Singapore, Abdullah has left us a very pathetic account of his own last hours with his master, and the tatter's final departure from the place he had created and of which he was so justly proud. Abdullah writes : —

" On the day after all his things had been put on board the ship, he sent for me and I went to the room where he used to write. He said, ' Take this letter and keep it carefully, with the one I gave you at Malacca. If hereafter any distinguished Englishman comes here, show him the letters and he will befriend you. Moreover, should you get work in the Court, show the letters to whoever is then at the head of affairs in Singapore, and you will receive a higher salary than is usually paid to Malays. Do not grieve, for if I live I will surely return to Singapore ; but should I die, then good bye, and I charge you to diligently learn the English language until you know it well. Here is another paper ; take it, and when I have gone give it to Mr. Queiros, who will pay you two hundred dollars, which


I ask you to accept from me. If I ever return, I want to write several books dealing with the countries in this neighbourhood ; in them I will mention your name and the great help you have given me in all Malay matters and everything that was within your knowledge, so that white men may know you and trust you.' I could not speak, but I took the papers while the tears streamed down my face without my being conscious of it That day, to part with Sir Stamford Raffles was to me as the death of my parents.

My regret was not because of the benefits I had received, or because of his greatness or attractions ; but because of his character and attainments, because every word he said was sincere and reliable, because he never exalted himself or depreciated others. All these things have remained in my heart till now, and though I have seen many distinguished men, many who were clever, who were rich, who were handsome — for character, for the power of winning affection, and for talent and understanding, I have never seen the equal of Sir Stamford Raffles. Though I die and live again, I shall never find his peer. . . . When I had received the two letters, Sir Stamford and his lady went down to the sea accompanied by an immense crowd of people of every nationality, I also went with them, and when they reached the ship they went on board. A moment later preparations were made to heave up the anchor, and Sir Stamford sent for me. I went into his cabin, and saw that he was wiping the tears from his eyes. He said, ' Go home ; you must not grieve, for if I live we shall meet again.' Then Lady Raffles came in and gave me twenty-five dollars, saying, ' This is for your children in Malacca.' When I heard that my heart was more than ever fired by the thought of their kindness, I thanked her, and shook them both by the hand ; but I could not restrain my tears, so I hurriedly got into my boat and pulled away. When we had gone some distance I looked back and saw Sir Stamford gazing from the port. I saluted him and he


waved his hand. After some moments the sails filled and the ship moved slowly away."

The great administrator and his Malay protégé were not to meet again, but the eastern did not forget his hero. Raffles' best epitaph is written in Malay ; and had he been buried in the country he loved so well, we should know where to find his grave.

Coconut Plantation
Cocoanut Plantation in Singapore

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