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首页 » 英文短篇小说 » Where the Strange Trails Go Down » CHAPTER IV THE EMERALDS OF WILHELMINA
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In Singapore stands one of the most significant statues in the world. From the centre of its sun-scorched Esplanade rises the bronze figure of a youthful, slender, clean-cut, keen-eyed man, clad in the high-collared coat and knee-breeches of a century ago, who, from his lofty pedestal, peers southward, beyond the shipping in the busy harbor, beyond the palm-fringed straits, toward those mysterious, alluring islands which ring the Java Sea. Though his name, Thomas Stamford Raffles, doubtless holds for you but scanty meaning, and though he died when only forty-five, his last years shadowed by the ingratitude of the country whose commercial supremacy in the East he had secured and to which he had offered a vast, new field for colonial expansion, he was one of the greatest architects of empire that ever lived. He combined the vision and administrative genius of Clive and Hastings with the audacity and energy of Hawkins and Drake. It was his dream, to use his own words, "to make Java the center of an Eastern insular empire" ruled "not only without fear but without reproach"; an empire to consist of that great archipelago—Sumatra, Java, Borneo, the Celebes, New Guinea, and the lesser islands[75]—which sweeps southward and eastward from the Asian mainland to the edges of Australasia. Though this splendid colonial structure was erected according to the plans that Raffles drew, by curious circumstance the flag that flies over it today is not his flag, not the flag of England, for, instead of being governed from Westminster, as he had dreamed, it is governed from The Hague, the ruler of its fifty million brown inhabitants being the stout, rosy-cheeked young woman who dwells in the Palace of Het Loo.

Though in area Queen Wilhelmina's colonial possessions are exceeded by those of Britain and France, she is the sovereign of the second largest colonial empire, in point of population, in the world. But, because it lies beyond the beaten paths of tourist travel, because it has been so little advertised by plagues and famines and rebellions, and because it has been so admirably and unobtrusively governed, it has largely escaped public attention—a fact, I imagine, with which the Dutch are not ill-pleased. Did you realize, I wonder, that the Insulinde, as Netherlands India is sometimes called, is as large, or very nearly as large, as all that portion of the United States lying east of the Mississippi? Did you know that in the third largest island of the archipelago, Sumatra, the State of California could be set down and still leave a comfortable margin all around? Or that the fugitive from justice who turns the prow of his canoe westward from New Guinea must sail as far as from Vancouver to [76]Yokohama before he finds himself beyond the shadow of the Dutch flag and the arm of Dutch law?

Until the closing years of the sixteenth century, European trade with the Far East was an absolute monopoly in the hands of Spain and Portugal. Incredible as it may seem, the two Iberian nations alone possessed the secret of the routes to the East, which they guarded with jealous care. In 1492, Columbus, bearing a letter from the King of Spain to the Khan of Tartary, whose power and wealth had become legendary in Europe through the tales of Marco Polo and other overland travelers, sailed westward from Cadiz in search of Asia, discovering the islands which came to be known as the West Indies. Five years later a Portuguese sea-adventurer, Vasco da Gama, turned the prow of his caravel south from the mouth of the Tagus, skirted the coast of Africa, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, crossed the Indian Ocean, and dropped his anchor in the harbor of Calicut—the first European to reach the beckoning East by sea. For a quarter of a century the Portuguese were the only people in Europe who knew the way to the East, and their secret gave them a monopoly of the Eastern trade. Lisbon became the richest port of Europe. Portugal was mistress of the seas. But in 1519 another Portuguese seafarer, Hernando de Maghallanes—we call him Ferdinand Magellan—who, resenting his treatment by the King of Portugal, had shifted his allegiance to Spain, sailed southwestward across the Atlantic, rounded the southern extremity of America by the [77]straits which bear his name, crossed the unknown Pacific, and raised the flag of Spain over the islands which came in time to be called the Philippines. Spain had reached the Indies by sailing west, as Portugal had reached them by sailing east.

Though the fabulous wealth of the lands thus discovered was discussed around every council table and camp-fire in Europe, the routes by which that wealth might be attained were guarded by Portugal and Spain as secrets of state. The charts showing the routes were not intrusted to the captains of vessels in the Eastern trade until the moment of departure, and they were taken up immediately upon their return; the silence of officers and crews was insured by every oath that the church could frame and every penalty that the state could devise. For more than three-quarters of a century, indeed, the two Iberian nations succeeded in keeping the secret of the sea roads to the East, its betrayal being punishable by death. In 1580, however, the English freebooter, Francis Drake, nicknamed "The Master Thief of the Unknown World," duplicated the voyage of Magellan's expedition of threescore years before, thus discovering the route to the Indies used by Spain.

At this period the Dutch, "the waggoners of the sea," possessed, as middlemen, a large interest in the spice trade, for the Portuguese, having no direct access to the markets of northern Europe, had made a practise of sending their Eastern merchandise to the Netherlands in Dutch bottoms for distribution by way [78]of the Rhine and the Scheldt. As a result, the enormous carrying trade of Holland was wholly dependent upon Lisbon. But when Spain unceremoniously annexed Portugal in 1580, the first act of Philip, upon becoming master of Lisbon, was to close the Tagus to the Dutch, his one-time subjects, who had revolted eight years before. As a result of the revenge thus taken by the Spanish tyrant, the Dutch were faced by the necessity of themselves going in quest of the Indies if their flag was not to disappear from the seas. Their opportunity came a dozen years later when a venturesome Hollander, Cornelius Houtman, who was risking imprisonment and even death by trading surreptitiously in the forbidden city on the Tagus, succeeded in obtaining through bribery a copy of one of the secret charts. The Spanish authorities scarcely could have been aware that he had learned a secret of such immense importance, or his silence would have been insured by the headsman. As it was, he was thrown into prison for illegal trading, where he was held for heavy ransom. But he managed to get word to Amsterdam of the priceless information which had come into his possession, whereupon the merchants of that city promptly formed a syndicate, subscribed the money for his ransom, and obtained his release. Thus it came about that shortly after his return to Holland there was organized the Company of Distant Lands, a title as vague, grandiose and alluring as the plans of those who founded it. In 1595, then, nearly a century after da Gama had shown the way, four caravels[79] under the command of Houtman, the banner of the Netherlands flaunting from their towering sterns, sailed grandly out of the Texel, slipped past the white chalk cliffs of Dover, sped southward before the trades, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and laid their course across the Indian Ocean for the Spice Islands. When the adventurers returned, two years later, they brought back tales of islands richer than anything of which the Dutch burghers had ever dreamed, and produced cargoes of Eastern merchandise to back their stories up.

The return of Houtman's expedition was the signal for a great outburst of commercial enterprise in the Low Countries, seekers after fortune or adventure flocking to the Indies as, centuries later, other fortune-seekers, other adventurers, flocked to the gold-diggings of the Sierras, the Yukon, and the Rand. On those distant seas, however, the adventurers were beyond the reach of any law, the same lawless conditions prevailing in the Indies at the beginning of the seventeenth century which characterized Californian life in the days of '49. The Dutch warred on the natives and on the Portuguese, and, when there was no one else to offer them resistance, they fought among themselves. By 1602 conditions had become so intolerable that the government of Holland, in order to tranquillize the Indies, and to stabilize the spice market at home, decided to amalgamate the various trading enterprises into one great corporation, the Dutch East India Company, which was authorized to exercise the [80]functions of government in those remote seas and to prosecute the war against Spain. When Philip shut the Dutch out of Lisbon, he made a formidable enemy for himself, for, though the burghers went to the East primarily in order to save their commerce from extinction, they were animated in a scarcely less degree by a determination to even their score with Spain.

The history of the Dutch East India Company is not a savory one. It was a powerful instrument for extracting the wealth of the Indies, and, so long as the wealth was forthcoming, the stockholders at home in Holland did not inquire too closely as to how the instrument was used. The story of the company from its formation in 1602 until its dissolution nearly two centuries later is a record of intrigue, cruelty and oppression. It exercised virtually sovereign powers. It made and enforced its own laws, it maintained its own fleet and army, it negotiated treaties with Japan and China, it dethroned sultans and rajahs, it established trading-posts and factories at the Cape of Good Hope, in the Persian Gulf, on the coasts of Malabar and Coromandel, and in Bengal; it waged war against the Portuguese, the Spaniards and the English in turn. When at the summit of its power, in 1669, the company possessed forty warships and one hundred and fifty merchantmen, maintained an army of ten thousand men, and paid a forty per cent dividend.

Meanwhile a formidable rival to the Dutch company, the English East India Company, had arisen, but the accession of a Dutchman, William, Prince of [81]Orange, to the throne of England in 1688 turned the rivals into allies, the trade of the eastern seas being divided between them. But toward the close of the eighteenth century there came another change in the status quo, for the Dutch, by allying themselves with the French, became the enemies of England. By this time Great Britain had become the greatest sea power in the world, so that within a few months after the outbreak of hostilities in 1795 the British flag had replaced that of the Netherlands over Ceylon, Malacca, and other stations on the highway to the Insulinde. When the Netherlands were annexed to the French Empire by Napoleon in 1810 the British seized the excuse thus provided to occupy Java, Thomas Stamford Raffles, the brilliant young Englishman who was then the agent of the British East India Company at Malacca, in the Malay States, being sent to Java as lieutenant-governor. Urgent as were his appeals that Java should be retained by Britain as a jewel in her crown of empire, the readjustment of the territories of the great European powers which was effected at the Congress of Vienna, in 1816, after the fall of Napoleon, resulted in the restoration to the Dutch of those islands of the Insulinde, including Java, which the British had seized. But, though Raffles ruled in Java for barely four and a half years, his spirit goes marching on, the system of colonial government which he instituted having been continued by the Dutch, in its main outlines, to this day. He won the confidence and friendship of the powerful native [82]princes, revolutionized the entire legal system, revived the system of village or communal government, reformed the land-tenure, abolished the abominable system of forcing the natives to deliver all their crops, and gave to the Javanese a rule of honesty, justice and wisdom with which, up to that time, they had not had even a bowing acquaintance. As a result of the lessons learned from Stamford Raffles, the Dutch possessions in the East are today more wisely and justly administered than those of any other European nation.

The Dutch had not seen the last of Raffles, however, for in 1817 he returned from England, where he had been knighted by the Prince Regent, to take the post of lieutenant-governor of Sumatra, to which the British did not finally relinquish their claims until half a century later. His administration of that great island was characterized by the same breadth of vision, tact, and energy which had marked his rule in Java. It was during this period that Raffles rendered his greatest service to the empire. The Dutch, upon regaining Java, attempted to obtain complete control of all the islands of the archipelago, which would have resulted in seriously hampering, if not actually ending, British trade east of Malacca. But Raffles, recognizing the menace to British interests, defeated the Dutch scheme in January, 1819, by a sudden coup d'etat, when he seized the little island at the tip of the Malay Peninsula which commands the Malacca Straits and the entrance to the China seas, and founded Singapore, thereby giving Britain control of the gateway [83]to the Farther East and ending forever the Dutch dream of making of those waters a mare clausum—a Dutch lake.

The thousands of islands, islets, and atolls which comprise Netherlands India—the proper etymological name of the archipelago is Austronesia—are scattered over forty-six degrees of longitude, on both sides of the equator. Although in point of area Java holds only fifth place, Sumatra, Borneo, New Guinea and the Celebes being much larger, it nevertheless contains three-fourths of the population and yields four-fifths of the produce of the entire archipelago. Though scarcely larger than Cuba, it has more inhabitants than all the Atlantic Coast States, from Maine to Florida, combined. This, added to the strategic importance of its situation, the richness of its soil, the variety of its products, the intelligence, activity and civilization of its inhabitants, and the fact that it is the seat of the colonial government, makes Java by far the most important unit of the Insulinde. Because of its overwhelming importance in the matters of position, products and population, it is administered as a distinct political entity, the other portions of the Dutch Indies being officially designated as the Outposts or the Outer Possessions.

Westernmost and by far the most important of the Outposts is Sumatra, an island four-fifths the size of France, as potentially rich in mineral and agricultural wealth as Java, but with a sparse and intractable population, certain of the tribes, notably the Achinese, who [84]inhabit the northern districts, still defying Dutch rule in spite of the long and costly series of wars which have resulted from Holland's attempt to subjugate them. The unmapped interior of Sumatra affords an almost virgin field for the explorer, the sportsman and the scientist. It has ninety volcanoes, twelve of which are active (the world has not forgotten the eruption, in 1883, of Krakatu, an island volcano off the Sumatran coast, which resulted in the loss of forty thousand human lives); the jungles of the interior are roamed by elephants, tigers, rhinoceroses, panthers and occasional orang-utans, while in the scattered villages, with their straw-thatched, highly decorated houses, dwell barbarous brown men practising customs so incredibly eerie and fantastic that a sober narration of them is more likely than not to be greeted with a shrug of amused disbelief. One who has no first-hand knowledge of the Sumatran tribes finds it difficult to accept at their face value the accounts of the customs practised by the Bataks of Tapanuli, for example, who, when their relatives become too old and infirm to be of further use, give them a pious interment by eating them. When the local Doctor Oslers have decided that a man has reached the age when his place at the family table is preferable to his company, the aged victim climbs a lemon-tree, beneath which his relatives stand in a circle, wailing the deathsong, the weird, monotonous chant being continued until the condemned one summons the courage to throw himself to the ground, whereupon the members [85]of his family promptly despatch him with clubs, cut up his body, roast the meat, and eat it. Thus every stomach in the tribe becomes, in effect, a sort of family burial-plot. I was unable to ascertain why the victim is compelled to throw himself from a lemon-tree. It struck me that some taller tree, like a palm, would better accomplish the desired result. A matter of custom, doubtless. Perhaps that explains why we dub persons who are passé "lemons." Then there are the Achinese, whose women frequently marry when eight years old, and are considered as well along in life when they reach their teens; and the Niassais, who are in deadly fear of albino children and who kill all twins as soon as they are born. Or the Menangkabaus, whose tribal government is a matriarchy: lands, houses, crops and children belonging solely to the wife, who may, and sometimes does, sell her husband as a slave in order to pay her debts.

Trailing from the eastern end of Java in a twelve-hundred-mile-long chain, like the wisps of paper which form the tail of a kite, and separated by straits so narrow that artillery can fire across them, are the Lesser Sundas—Bali, noted for its superb scenery and its alluring women; Lombok, the northernmost island whose flora and fauna are Australian; Sumbawa, where the sandalwood comes from; Flores, whose inhabitants consider the earth so holy that they will not desecrate it by digging wells or cultivation; Timor, the northeastern half of which, together with Goa in India and Macao in China, forms the last remnant of [86]Portugal's once enormous Eastern empire; Rotti, Kei, and Aroo, the great chain thus formed linking New Guinea, the largest island in the world, barring Australia, with the mainland of Asia. Of the last-named island, the entire western half belongs to Holland, the remaining half being about equally divided between British Papua, in the southeast, and in the northeast the former German colony of Kaiser Wilhelm Land, now administered by Australia under a mandate from the League of Nations.

The population of Dutch New Guinea is estimated at a quarter of a million, but the predilection of its puff-ball-headed inhabitants for human flesh has discouraged the Dutch census-takers from making an accurate enumeration, as the Papuan cannibal does not hesitate to sacrifice the needs of science to those of the cooking-pot. Though New Guinea is believed to be enormously rich in natural resources, and has many excellent harbors, the secrets of its mysterious interior can only be conjectured. The natives are as degraded as any in the world; their principal vocation is hunting birds of paradise, whose plumes command high prices in the European markets; their chief avocation in recent years has been staging imitation cannibal feasts for the benefit of motion-picture expeditions. But, unknown and unproductive as it is at present, I would stake my life that New Guinea will be a great colony some day.

To the west of New Guinea and to the south of the Philippines lie the Moluccas—Ceram, Amboin, [87]Ternate, Halmahera, and the rest—the Spice Islands of the old-time voyagers, the scented tropic isles of which Camoens sang. Amboin, owing to the fact that Europeans have been established there for centuries on account of its trade in spices, is characterized by a much higher degree of civilization than the rest of the Moluccas, a considerable proportion of its inhabitants professing to be Christians. The flower of the colonial army is recruited from the Amboinese, who regard themselves not as vassals of the Dutch but as their allies and equals, a distinction which they emphasize by wearing shoes, all other native troops going barefoot. Beyond the Moluccas, across the Banda Sea, sprawls the Celebes,[1] familiar from our school-days because of its fantastic outline, the plural form of its name being due to the supposition of the early explorers that it was a group of islands instead of one. And finally, crossing Makassar Straits, we come to Borneo, the habitat of the head-hunter and the orang-utan. Though Borneo is a treasure-house for the naturalist, the botanist, and the ethnologist, the Dutch, as in New Guinea, have merely scratched its surface, almost no attempt having thus far been made to exploit its enormous natural resources. Thus I have arrayed for your cursory inspection the congeries of curious and colorful islands which constitute Netherlands India in order that you may comprehend the problems of civilization and administration which [88]Holland has had to solve in those distant seas, and that you may be better qualified to judge the results she has achieved.

The Insulinde has eight times the population and sixty times the area of the mother country, from which it is separated by ten thousand miles of sea, yet the sovereignty of Queen Wilhelmina is upheld among the cannibals of New Guinea, the head-hunters of Borneo, and the savages of Achin, no less than among the docile millions of Java, by less than ten thousand European soldiers. That a territory so vast and with so enormous a population, should be so admirably administered, everything considered, by so small a number of white men, is in itself proof of the Dutch genius for ruling subject races.

From the day when Holland determined to organize her colonial empire for the benefit of the natives themselves, instead of exploiting it for the benefit of a handful of Dutch traders and settlers, as she had previously done, she has employed in her colonial service only thoroughly trained officials of proved ability and irreproachable character. The Dutch officials whom I met in Java and the Outposts impressed me, indeed, as being men of altogether exceptional capacity and attainments, better educated and qualified, as a whole, than those whom I have encountered in the British and French colonial possessions. Since the war, owing to the difficulty of obtaining men of sufficient caliber and experience to fill the minor posts, [89]which are not particularly well paid, Holland has given employment in her colonial service to a considerable number of Germans, most of whom had been trained in colonial administration in Germany's African and Pacific possessions, but they are appointed, of course, only to posts of relative unimportance.

Every year the Minister of the Colonies ascertains the number of vacancies in the East Indian service, and every year the Grand Examination of Officials is held simultaneously in The Hague and Batavia, the results of this examination determining the eligibility of candidates for admission to the colonial service and the fitness of officials already in the service for promotion. With the exception of the Governor-General and two or three other high officials, who are appointed by the crown, no official can evade this examination, to pass which requires not only an intimate knowledge of East Indian languages, politics and customs, but real scholarship as well. The names of those candidates who pass this examination are certified to the Minister of the Colonies, who thereupon directs them to report to the Governor-General at Batavia and provides them with funds for the voyage. Upon their arrival in the Indies the Governor-General appoints them to the grade of controleur and tests their capacity by sending them to difficult and trying posts in Sumatra, Borneo, the Celebes, or New Guinea, where they must conclusively prove their ability before they can hope for promotion to the grades of assistant resident and resident, and the relative comfort of [90]official life in Java. In the Outposts they at once come face to face with innumerable difficulties and responsibilities, for the controleur is responsible, though within narrower limits than the resident, for everything: justice, police, agriculture, education, public works, the protection of the natives, and the requirements of the settlers in such matters as labor and irrigation. He is, in short, an administrator, a police official, a judge, a diplomatist, and an adviser on almost every subject connected with the government of tropical dependencies. The officials in the Outposts are given more authority and greater latitude of action than their colleagues in Java, for they have greater difficulties to cope with, while the intractability, if not the open hostility of the natives whom they are called upon to rule demands greater tact and diplomacy than are required in Java, where the officials are inclined to become spoiled by their easy-going life and the semi-royal state which they maintain.

Though Holland demands much of those who uphold her authority in the Indies, she is generous in her rewards. The Governor-General draws a salary of seventy thousand dollars together with liberal allowances for entertaining, and is provided with palaces at Batavia and Buitenzorg, while at Tjipanas, on one of the spurs of the Gedei, nearly six thousand feet above the sea, he has a country house set in a great English park. Wherever he is in residence he maintains a degree of state scarcely inferior to that of the sovereign herself. The residents are paid from five [91]thousand dollars to nine thousand dollars according to their grades, the assistant residents from three thousand five hundred dollars to five thousand dollars, and the controleurs from one thousand eight hundred dollars to two thousand four hundred dollars. Though officials are permitted leaves of absence only once in ten years, those who complete twenty-five years' service in the Insulinde may retire on half-pay. Even at such salaries, however, and in a land where living is cheap as compared with Europe, it is almost impossible for the officials to save money, for they are expected to entertain lavishly and to live in a fashion which will impress the natives, who would be quick to seize on any evidence of economy as a sign of weakness.

Netherlands India is ruled by a dual system of administration—European and native. By miracles of patience, tact, and diplomacy, the Dutch have succeeded in building up in the Indies a gigantic colonial empire, which, however, they could not hope to hold by force were there to be a concerted rising of the natives. Realizing this, Holland—instead of attempting to overawe the natives by a display of military strength, as England has done in Egypt and India, and France in Algeria and Morocco—has succeeded, by keeping the native princes on their thrones and according them a shadowy suzerainty, in hoodwinking the ignorant brown mass of the people into the belief that they are still governed by their own rulers. Though at first the princes, as was to be expected, bitterly resented the curtailment of their prerogatives and [92]powers, they decided that they might better remain on their thrones, even though the powers remaining to them were merely nominal, and accept the titles, honors and generous pensions which the Dutch offered them, than to resist and be ruthlessly crushed. In pursuance of this shrewd policy, every province in the Indies has as its nominal head a native puppet ruler, known as a regent, usually a member of the house which reigned in that particular territory before the white man came. Though the regents are appointed, paid, and at need dismissed by the government, and though they are obliged to accept the advice and obey the orders of the Dutch residents, they remain the highest personages in the native world and the intermediaries through whom Holland transmits her wishes and orders to the native population.

In order to lend color to the fiction that the natives are still ruled by their own princes, the regents are provided with the means to keep up a considerable degree of ceremony and pomp; they have their opera-bouffe courts, their gorgeously uniformed body-guards, their gilded carriages and golden parasols, and some of the more important ones maintain enormous households. But, though they preside at assemblies, sign decrees, and possess all the other external attributes of power, in reality they only go through the motions of governing, for always behind their gorgeous thrones sits a shrewd and silent Dutchman who pulls the strings. Though this system of dual government has the obvious disadvantage of being both cumbersome [93]and expensive, it is, everything considered, perhaps the best that could have been devised to meet the existing conditions, for nothing is more certain than that, should the Dutch attempt to do away with the native princes, there would be a revolt which would shake the Insulinde to its foundations and would gravely imperil Dutch domination in the islands.

The most interesting examples of this system of dual administration are found in the Vorstenlanden, or "Lands of the Princes," of Surakarta and Djokjakarta, in Middle Java. These two principalities, which once comprised the great empire of Mataram, are nominally independent, being ostensibly ruled by their own princes: the Susuhunan of Surakarta and the Sultan of Djokjakarta, who are, however, despite their high-sounding titles and their dazzling courts, but mouthpieces for the Dutch residents. The series of episodes which culminated in the Dutch acquiring complete political ascendency in the Vorstenlanden form one of the most picturesque and significant chapters in the history of Dutch rule in the East. Until the last century these territories were undivided, forming the kingdom of the Susuhunan of Surakarta, who, being threatened by a revolt of the Chinese who had settled in his dominions, called in the Dutch to aid him in suppressing it. They came promptly, helped to crush the rebellion, and so completely won the confidence of the Susuhunan that he begged their arbitration in a dispute with one of his brothers, who had launched an insurrection in an attempt to place himself [94]on the throne. Certain historians assert, and probably with truth, that this insurrection was instigated and encouraged by the Dutch themselves, who foresaw that it would be easier to subjugate two weak states than a single strong one. In pursuance of this policy, they suggested that, in order to avoid a fratricidal and bloody war, the kingdom be divided, two-thirds of it, with Surakarta as the capital, to remain under the rule of the Susuhunan; the remaining third to be handed over to the pretender, who would assume the title of Sultan and establish his court at Djokjakarta. This settlement was reluctantly accepted by the Susuhunan because he realized that he could hope for nothing better and by his brother because he recognized that he might do much worse.

In principle, at least, the Sultan remained the vassal of the Susuhunan, in token of which he paid him public homage once each year at Ngawen, near Djokjakarta, where, in the presence of an immense concourse of natives, he was obliged to prostrate himself before the Susuhunan's throne as a public acknowledgment of his vassalage. But as the years passed the breach thus created between the Susuhunan and the Sultan showed signs of healing, which was the last thing desired by the Dutch, who believed in the maxim Divide ut imperes. So, before the next ceremony of homage came around, they sent for the Sultan, pointed out to him the humiliation which he incurred in kneeling before the Susuhunan, and offered to provide him with a means of escaping this abasement. Their offer was [95]as simple as it was ingenious—permission to wear the uniform of a Dutch official. This was by no means as empty an honor as it seemed, as the Sultan was quick to recognize, for one of the tenets of Holland's rule in the Indies is that no one who wears the Dutch uniform, whether European or native, shall impair the prestige of that uniform by kneeling in homage. The Sultan, needless to say, eagerly seized the opportunity thus offered, and, when the date for the next ceremony fell due he arrived at Ngawen arrayed in the blue and gold panoply of a Dutch official, but, instead of prostrating himself before the Susuhunan in the grovelling dodok, he coolly remained seated, as befitted a Dutch official and an independent prince.

The animosity thus ingeniously revived between the princely houses lasted for many years, which was exactly what the Dutch had foreseen. But, though the Susuhunan and the Sultan had been goaded into hating each other with true Oriental fervor, they hated the Dutch even more. In order to divert this hostility toward themselves into safer channels, the Dutch evolved still another scheme, which consisted in installing at the court of the Susuhunan, as at that of the Sultan, a counter-irritant in the person of a rival prince, who, though theoretically a vassal, was in reality as independent as the titular ruler. And, as a final touch, the Dutch decreed that the cost of maintaining the elaborate establishments of these hated rivals must be defrayed from the privy purses of the Susuhunan and the Sultan. The "independent" prince [96]at Surakarta is known as the Pangeran Adipati Mangku Negoro; the one at Djokjakarta as the Pangeran Adipati Paku Alam. Both of these princes have received military educations in Holland, hold honorary commissions in the Dutch army, and wear the Dutch uniform; their handsome palaces stand in close proximity to those of the Susuhunan and the Sultan, and both are permitted to maintain small but well-drilled private armies, armed with modern weapons and organized on European lines. The "army" of Mangku Negoro consists of about a thousand men, and is a far more efficient fighting force than the fantastically uniformed rabble maintained by his suzerain, the Susuhunan. In certain respects this arrangement resembles the plan which is followed at West Point and Annapolis, where, if the appointee fails to meet the entrance requirements, the appointment goes to an alternate, who has been designated with just such a contingency in view. Both the Susuhunan and the Sultan are perfectly aware that the first sign of disloyalty to the Dutch on their part would result in their being promptly dethroned and the "independent" princes being appointed in their stead. So, as they like their jobs, which are well paid and by no means onerous—the Susuhunan receives an annual pension from the Dutch Government of some three hundred and fifty thousand dollars and has in addition one million dollars worth of revenues to squander each year—their conduct is marked by exemplary obedience and circumspection.

[97]Ever since the Dipo Negoro rebellion of 1825, which was caused by the insulting behavior of an incompetent and tactless resident toward a native prince, to suppress which cost Holland five years of warfare and the lives of fifteen thousand soldiers, the Dutch Government has come more and more to realize that most of the disaffection and revolts in their Eastern possessions have been directly traceable to tactlessness on the part of Dutch officials, who either ignored or were indifferent to the customs, traditions, and susceptibilities of the natives. It is the recognition and application of this principle that has been primarily responsible for the peace, progress, and prosperity which, in recent years, have characterized the rule of Holland in the Indies. When a nation with a quarter the area of New York State, and less than two-thirds its population, with a small army and no navy worthy of the name, can successfully rule fifty million people of alien race and religion, half the world away, and keep them loyal and contented, that nation has, it seems to me, a positive genius for colonial administration.

Some one has described the Dutch East Indies as a necklace of emeralds strung on the equator. To those who are familiar only with colder, less gorgeous lands, that simile may sound unduly fanciful, but to those who have seen these great, rich islands, festooned across four thousand miles of sea, green and scintillating under the tropic sun, the description will not [98]appear as far-fetched as it seems. A necklace of emeralds! The more I ponder over that description the better I like it. Indeed, I think that that is what I will call this chapter—The Emeralds of Wilhelmina.


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