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NOTES ON THE TENASSERIM PROVINCES.
The Tenasserim provinces, situated on the eastern side of the Bay of Bengal, extend from about 11° 30' to 18° N. Lat. They are bounded on the N. by Burmah, on the E. and S. by the Siamese territory, and on the W. by the Sea They were conquered during the late Burmese war, and were formally ceded to the British by the treaty of Yandaboo. The breadth of territory from the sea-shore eastward, is not accurately defined, but does not, I understand, exceed on an average fifty miles.
The Provinces are three in number; viz., Amherst to the North, Tavoy (Dha-way) in the centre, and Mergui (Beit) to the South.
The town of Amherst is situated at the mouth of the river Salween. It is the residence of the Master-Attendant who has charge of the jail, superintends the police of the town, and also, I believe, a certain number of the surrounding villages. The town contains 1,500 inhabitants, nearly all Burmans and Talains. The jail contains from 180 to 200 prisoners, 4ths of whom are convicts from Bengal. The garrison consists of one company of native infantry. The climate of Amherst is delightful. It is situated on a high cliff, at the very last point of land which may be called the bank of the Salween. The waves roll on a fine sandy beach, and the refreshing sea breeze would render this a delightful place of resort for an invalid from Bengal. Fish of the best quality is abundant; at present, however, there are no houses for hire. Leaving Amherst and proceeding up the river the course lays nearly north, and after a pull of 25 miles we reach Maulamyne, the principal town of Province Amherst. The banks of the river from its mouth up to the town, present an uninterrupted line of jungul, except here and there where a small house or hut, near a line of stakes in the water, shews it to be the residence or occasional resort of fishermen. The horizon is bounded by hills which run parallel with the stream, and from 1 to 5 or 6 miles distant. They are covered with trees to their summits. The approach to Maulamyne is striking. Fancy yourself advancing up a river about a mile in width. On the edge of the stream stand the Burman mat houses, raised on piles 10 or 12 feet high, while underneath them flows the tide; behind these are seen the tops of the Europeans' houses; and about half a mile in rear of them runs a range of heights thickly wooded, their summit towards the northern extremity being crowned by a lofty Burman pagoda. In the distance in front can be distinguished the pagodas on the heights above Martaban, which is the Burman town on the opposite bank of the river. The Salween is here the W. boundary of the British possessions. The Europeans' houses, and those of the wealthier classes of Burmans, are built entirely of teakwood, raised on piles from 4 to 8 feet from the ground. The roofs are for the most part formed of leaves of the nipah tree (in form like the cocoanut leaf) which are doubled across a bamboo lath of from 2 to 4 feet in length. These leaves form light roofs and keep out the heavy rains that prevail here, admirably. Brick houses are beginning to appear in the town, belonging generally to Moosulmaun merchants; but flat roofs will not bear the rains, during which season an inclined roof of grass or leaves is superadded. The native part of the town of Maulamyne, may be said to consist of one long street, which runs for nearly four miles along the left bank of the Salween; here and there it throws out arms towards the
heights on the E. connecting the main street with the European houses, and towards the river on the W., when the street inclines from the bank : the latter lead to wooden jettés, of which there are several along the shore.
The rise of Maulamyne, and the increase of its population, has been most rapid. Ten years ago, when Sir A. Campbell pitched his tent here after the Burman war, there was nought but jungul, and that overrun by tigers. In former times there had been a fortification, the remains of which still exist, but it had been apparently long abandoned, and tigers and buffaloes were the undisputed lords of the soil. At present there are at least 15,000 inhabitants, consisting of Burmans, Talains,” Chinese, Bengallees, Madrassees, Merchants from the Persian Gulf, some Jews, and a few stray Malays and Cingalese. Maulamyne was peopled partly by Burman emigrants from Martaban, which on the first arrival of the British was a populous town; it now consists of but a few huts, the remainder of the inhabitants having been forcibly removed to Beelin, a stockade 40 miles inland. China men emigrated here from Malacca and Penang, and as the trade of the place increased, petty merchants and adventurers of various nations congregated together.
The Burmans and Talains forming the bulk of the population, are the cultivators of the soil : they are also the day labourers, wood-cutters, boatmen, and carpenters of rough work. The Chinamen are carpenters, shoe-makers, traders, &c. and form the most useful and industrious class in the town. The Bengallees here, both Moosulmans and Hindoos, are any thing but a credit to their country, being principally discharged servants, or people who accompanied the army to Rangoon, and form with the Madrassees the most idle and disreputable portion of the population. The Persians and Jews are merchants; there are also a few European traders.
The articles which form the principal trade of Maulamyne are teak timber, rice, and ivory in small quantities. Rice is taken by Chinese junks, and ships from the Coromandel coast, to Penang, Malacca, and Singapoor, whence a part is sent to China. They bring tea, sugar, raw silk, coarse China earthen-ware, fire-works, tobacco, coarse paper, opium, and English cotton manufactures. Teak is taken principally by English ships to Calcutta and Madras, and now and then a cargo goes to the Isle of France. The English traders in Maulamyne appear to confine themselves principally to buying the timber as it is floated down the river in rafts from the forest. This may be a sure plan for the small capitalist who thus runs little risk; but, from there being no regular plan of operations in the forests up the river, the supply of timber of a proper size, is uncertain. The Burmans content themselves with bringing down timber of an inferior size, and they even cut up large trees, ignorant apparently of the increased value of lengthy timber. Ships frequently are detained for months before they can get a cargo, and some depart in despair. If a man of capital were to settle here, I doubt not that by entering into an agreement with Government, for permission to cut timber in some of these extensive forests, a profitable trade would be the consequence. At present the Government impost is 15 per cent. paid either in money or kind, on arrival of the timber at Maulamyue. The port charges are very moderate; not above oth of those of Rangoon. The price of labour is extravagantly high, as compared with the price of food. No Burman labourer could, I fancy, be entertained under 10 Rs. per mensem. I must add that from what I have heard, some European traders on the Coast have not
* Talains are the Pegueans.
gained any reputation among the Burman wood-cutters, either for punctuality, or for honesty of payment,
The jail of Maulamyne contains eight or nine hundred prisoners, nearly all of whom are Thugs and other convicts from Bengal. They are employed in making roads and other public works. From 60 to 70 are hired out as servants and labourers, the hirer paying 5 Rs. per mensem for each. The public bazar is a large collection of buildings where a market is held daily. This brings in a revenue to Government of 800 Rs. per mensem, the farm of it being put up to auction every three months. The farmer is allowed to collect a certain sum on each article. Fish in abundance, vegetables, venison from the adjoining forests, Chinese pork stalls, spices, &c. are arranged in their proper wards. There is no beef or mutton to be had in the market.
The European community of Maulamyne consists of the Officers of the garrison, the Staff, the Commissioner, and his assistants. There are the head-quarters of two regts.; one European (H. M. 62d) and one Native, (13th Mad.) Each of these furnishes detachments for the Southern provinces. There is also a company of European artillery. A Brigadier commands in the provinces. The troops belong to the Madras presidency; the civil department is under that of Bengal. There is an American mission establishment consisting of several members. The Government School contains about 100 boys who are taught English grammar, geography, writing, and arithmetic. The boys are chiefly Burmans and Talains; there are also some Chinese and Anglo-Burmans. The American Baptist Missionaries have schools in which children are taught to read in Burmese with a direct view to their becoming Christians. At the head of this mission is Dr. Judson, well known for his philological attainments in the Burman language, and not less so for his perseverance as a missionary during ten years in Burmah. There is a press attached to the mission, where religious tracts are printed in the Burman language. A complete translation of the Bible has been effected by the labours of Dr. Judson, a great part of which is already printed.
A large portion of province Amherst is covered with jungul. The villages lie generally on the banks of rivers, for all Burmans are enthusiastic boatmen. The usual mode of travelling is by water; marching as practised in India is unknown. The relief of troops is sent to the Southern provinces by Sea. When officers march on shooting excursions, or the Commissioner's Assistants go their rounds of the provinces, they put up in the zayats, a sort of bungalow abounding in every village and by the road side. Zayats are built by villages and individuals, for the accommodation of travellers, such act being considered a work of merit. The total population of province Amherst, exclusive of the town of Maulamyne, is estimated at 35,000. The people are scattered over a wide extent of country. The wild animals inhabiting the forests of these pro"inces are, the elephant, rhinoceros, tiger, leopard, black-leopard, wild cow, buffalo, bison, (uncertain) deer of various sorts, the flying-squirrel, the macaucus, and several kinds of monkeys. There are no wolves, jackals, foxes or hares. Peafowls are plentful, and pheasants are to be found in some parts; snipe and jungul fowl are abundant, but there are very few quails, and no partridges I believe. Adjutants are said to breed here.
I will now attempt to sketch in as few words as possible, the revenue and judicial
*ystem followed in these provinces. First I will describe the Native Officers and their duties.
Each village, and each division of a town, is under an officer called a Thoo-gye, who is at the head of the revenue and police affairs of his village. He is paid 10 per cent, on his collections." The Thoo-gye is elected by the free suffrages of the respectable householders (£10 'ers of course () of his village, subject to the approval of the Commissioner. He has no subordinate police officers, nor are there any Thannas scattered through the country, the people of the villages being always will. ing to assist the Thoo-gye in the apprehension of thieves. There is also in each village an officer called Ka-dain-gye, who is likewise elected by the inhabitants, and is in no way dependant upon the Government. He receives no salary, but appears from what I have learnt, to help or advise the Thoo-gye in his revenue duties. He is eventually elected to that office when it becomes vacant, if he have heretofore given satisfaction to his constituents. Next above the Thoo-gyes are the Goung-kioups, or heads of districts. These officers have under them a certain number of villages ; they reside in their own districts, and decide civil suits to the amount of 60 Rs. They send in a report monthly of all suits entered in their courts. They receive a monthly salary of 50 Rs. At the head-quarters of each province where the European officer resides, there is an Akhwon-goung, or “head of revenue,” and a Tset-kai, or petty “magistrate.” The former attends entirely to the revenue affairs of the whole province, the details of which he must be well acquainted with, and overlooks the proceedings of the Thoo-gyes. He receives a monthly salary of 100 Rs. The Tset-kai s the head of police, and decides civil suits to the amount of 100 Rs. This officer receives 120 Rs. per mensem. The European Officers are as follows: The Commissioner (Mr. Blundell) has supreme controul of every department, judicial and revenue, and is agent to the Governor-General. There is a Senior Assistant in charge of Amherst province stationed at Maulamyne, and an Assistant also in charge of the police of that town. A third is in charge of the town and jail of Amherst, at the mouth of the river. In the Southern Provinces, there is a Senior Assistant at Tavoy for that province, and an Assistant at Mergui. The Government revenue is derived principally from the rice crop, which is the only grain cultivated, and which is assessed as follows. The European Officer, with the assistance of the Thoo-gye and Akhwon-goung, together with information derived from village records (when such exist), makes an estimate of the gross annual produce of each village, 25 per cent of which is fixed as the Government share. Two years ago a settlement was made for seven years, taking the average of the three preceding crops from which to calculate the Government share in kind, which under no circumstances was to be more than 25 per cent. The value of this share Government was to receive in money, according to the market price of grain during each succeeding year of the settlement. This year, from there being but little foreign demand for ricet, it is very cheap in the Provinces; and as Government can only claim 25 per cent. of the produce, or its value in the current market price, they will suffer a considerable loss. Any jungul brought into cultivation during the seven years' settlement is free of taxation until the term expires. The rice is generally not transplanted. The crop is sown in June and reaped in December. The only Burman implement of husbandry is a sort of harrow for working fresh ground. When the earth is well satured with rain, buffalos are
• In Tavoy province, when a Thoo-gye's percentage amounts to less than 150 Rs per annum, it is made up to that sum from the general fund.
t This is in consequence of rice being now cultivated in Province Wellesley, the coast opposite to Penang.
turned into the fields, they trample and mash the soil ; the seed is then thrown down, and no further trouble is taken. Yet the crops in some parts yield 70 fold In reaping they cut the straw close to the ear, leaving long stubble, which is partly consumed by the bnffalos, and partly burnt on the ground to serve as manure. The revenue derived from the bazar in Maulamyne, amounting to 800 Rs. per mensem, has already been noticed. The Abkarree is farmed out in three (16) chief towns of the provinces, a certain number of shops being allowed in each. The spirit is imported from Madras. The right to vend opium is also farmed to the highest bidder. The drug is brought from Penang and Calcutta. A revenue was formerly derived from the licensing of gambling houses. They are now abolished and the practice forbidden. There is a small tax on the manufacturing of salt. In Tavoy there is a tax upon pán gardens, tobacco, chilli plants, pines and other garden produce, but so small as to be little more than nominal. Pines last year sold four and five for a pice ; the tax, therefore, cannot be very heavy.
The criminal laws in force are the Bengal regulations, as far as they are applicable to the existing state of the people. When the Commissioner sits as Judge, in cases for capital offences, he summons a jury, consisting of 13 house-holders, if procurable. They pronounce upon the fact of guilt or innocence.
There exists among the Burmans a slavery called debtor-slavery, by which persons borrowing money become the slaves of their creditors. According to the Burman law the slave could only be set free by absolute payment of the original sum lent, the debtor's labour being considered equivalent merely to payment of interest. Thus he was a slave for ever. On the death of a slave, if he had children, one of them supplied his place. This law has been modified in the provinces, and the way prepared for eventually abolishing the custom. All debtor-slaves must be registered in the Magistrate's Court, or the slavery is illegal. Each day's labour as a slave, counts as two pice, which is deducted from the sum lent, and thus he in time emancipates himself. On proof of ill-usage by the creditor, the debtor slave is at once set free. As the revenue and judicial system of the Southern Provinces is precisely the same as that described to prevail in Province Amherst, I shall merely offer upon them a few general remarks.
The Town of Tavoy (properly Dha-way) is situated above 200 miles South of Maula. myne. It is connected with the latter by a road which runs nearly the whole way through forest: this is scarcely passable in the rains, nor is it much used at any season. The communication is kept up principally by sea. The coast from Maulamyne to Tavoy is bold and rocky ; when sailing along it, high hills are visible inland, the ranges running N. and S. Tavoy lies 40 miles from the mouth of a river, (called only Tavoy river) which runs Southerly, but the town is only eight miles distant from the Sea in an Easterly direction. It is situated in an amphitheatre surrounded by hills. The highest point of the E. range, distant 20 miles, is about 4,000 feet above the sea. The town contains 18,000 inhabitants; the rest of the province 30,000. This is the only town on the Tenasserim coast that manufactures silk cloths in any quantity. The raw material is brought from China. Coarse cotton pieces are also woven by the women. The town is scattered, most of the houses having a court round them planted with trees. The houses are in general roomy and comfortable ; but few are built of wood; they are generally of bamboo matting set on wooden frames and raised, as is