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Asiatic Possessions of Great Britain and other European Nations, apart from India, Burma, and Central Asia.

Mediaeval and Modern History of Asia.
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The beautiful and fertile island of Ceylon, called Lunka in Sanskrit, Singhala by the natives, and Taprobane by the Greeks, has its British name from Marco Polo's Sailan, a corruption of Sihalam, the Pali form of Sinhala, meaning "the place of lions." Native records, covering a period from 543 b.c. to the middle of the 18th century, describe the foundation of an Aryan realm in the 6th century b.c. and the introduction of Buddhism by Gautama. An early civilisation produced cities whose stupendous remains are found buried in tropical foliage, with bell-shaped shrines, temples, and great "tanks" or reservoirs for irrigation, Malabars or Tamils from the mainland of India began a series of invasions, anarchy, and civil strife, ended in the 11th century a.d. by the founding of a strong monarchy under native rulers, the most eminent of whom was Prakrama Bahu, in the 12th century, a promoter of religion and of tillage, as shown by his construction of many temples and of tanks called "the seas of Prakrama." After his age the whole island was conquered by the Malabars. The Portuguese first made European settlements in 1517, erecting a "factory" or trading-post near Colombo, by permission of a native king, and then constructing armed works and holding their ground against native attacks. In course of time, the Portuguese held the coasts and part of the north, arousing much hostility, by tyrannous conduct, among the Singhalese. In 1602 the Dutch made their first appearance as traders, and formed an alliance with the native king of Kandy. In 1638 the Dutch attacked the Portuguese posts, and finally drove their rivals out by the seizure of their capital, Colombo. The natives fared no better at the hands of the new-comers, and warfare ended in the Singhalese being driven for refuge to the interior hills and forests. The Dutch, during a century and a half of occupation, improved communication by making canals and roads, and developed a great trade in cinnamon, pearls, and cocoa-nut oil. At the close of the 18th century British forces, during the great European war, appeared on the scene, and an expedition from Madras seized Colombo, Trincomali, and other towns on the coast. The Peace of Amiens, in 1802, confirmed our conquest, which soon became a separate colony, after annexation for some years to the Madras Presidency. There was much trouble at first with the natives of the interior, but in 1815 the king of Kandy, a detestable specimen of the Oriental despot, was deposed, and the whole island came under British rule, with religious freedom for the Buddhist population. In 1817 a native rebellion was suppressed in a two-years' struggle, and the restoration of order was followed by the construction of a system of military roads, due to the initiative of an excellent governor, Sir Edward Barnes, and especially to the skill and energy of Major Skinner, "Tom Skinner," as he was popularly called, who was at work from 1819 until 1867. In this last year there were nearly 3,000 miles of roads in the island, one-fifth being first-class metalled highways, and another fifth good gravelled work. The resources of the island have of late years been greatly developed through the construction and restoration of irrigation-works, and the introduction of a most profitable cultivation of excellent tea, after the failure of the coffee-plants under the attacks of disease.

Turning next to the Malay territories, we find Penang, or Prince of Wales Island, and the strip of coast called Wellesley Peninsula, ceded to the British Crown, by purchase from a native raja, towards the end of the 18th century, the acquisition being soon followed by the suppression of the Malay pirates who, in their swift-sailing prahus or proas, had long been a pest to traders in those seas. Malacca, the largest of the "Straits Settlements," became a Portuguese colony in 1511, under the famous Albuquerque, and was conquered by the Dutch in 1641. After being held by British forces from 1795 till 1818, and then restored to the Dutch, it became ours by exchange for Bencoolen, in Sumatra, in 1824. Singapore, in British hands, has become the seat of an enormous trade. Its foundation was due to the able and enterprising Sir Stamford Raffles, Lieutenant-governor of Java during our possession of that island from 1811 till 1816. He was then chosen to form a new settlement in the island of Singapore, with the purpose of establishing a commercial rivalry with the Dutch, and of checking the Malay pirates who harassed the China trade of the East India Company. The town was founded in the year of Queen Victoria's birth, and the island, five years later, was purchased from the Sultan of Johore, the ruler of the opposite mainland. In other parts of south-eastern Asia, the acquisition of Hong-Kong has been already recorded. The island of Labuan, on the north-west coast of Borneo, mainly in Dutch possession, was ceded to Great Britain in 1846 by the Sultan of Brunei, who desired our aid in suppressing Malay piracy. British North Borneo, a territory as large as Scotland, in the extreme north of that vast island, was founded as a colony in 1881 by a chartered company, and seven years later became a British "Protectorate." The Protectorates of Brunei and Sarawak, adjacent to North Borneo, were established in 1888, the latter state having been founded by the famous Sir James (or "Raja") Brooke, an adventurous man born at Benares, a veteran of the first Burmese war, and then a pioneer of British civilisation in the Eastern Archipelago. His aid against rebels obtained for him the title and position of "Raja and Governor of Sarawak," in 1841, from a Bornese Sultan, and he did good work against piracy, winning a knighthood of the Bath from the Queen seven years later. The Malay States of Johore, Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, and others, were "federated " in July, 1896, under British control wielded by a "Resident-General" subject to the High Commissioner at Singapore, and the peace, order, and prosperity which had for 20 years been in progress under British influence have been thereby confirmed and secured.

The Dutch have for nearly three centuries been the holders of a great colonial dominion in the East Indies - in Java and Sumatra, Banca and Billiton, Borneo and Celebes, the Moluccas, the Timor Archipelago, and other islands. Little that can be called history attaches to their tenure of these vast possessions, having an area of about 740,000 square miles, and a population of 35,000,000 or seven times that of the mother country. A tragical event of distant date occurred in Amboyna, the chief of the Moluccas or Spice Islands, taken by the Dutch from the Portuguese in 1605. The British settlement was destroyed by the Hollanders in the "Amboyna massacre" of 1623. It is significant that the Stuart kings, James I. and Charles I., took little heed of this outrage, and that no compensation was exacted until 1654, when the British Isles were under the rule of that great Englishman, "Protector" Cromwell. The island of Amboyna, held by British forces from 1796 to 1802, became finally a Dutch possession in 1814. Java has been a most profitable source of income to Holland, under a system of rule which, with little regard to the interests of the natives compels them to cultivate the soil for staple articles of trade, and deliver the produce at a fixed price to the government-magazines. An "Agrarian Law" of 1870 has now done something to promote the establishment of private plantations. Sumatra, a great region under Hindu influence before the 7th century, became Mohammedan in the 13th century. First introduced to European notice in 1508, by the Portuguese, who soon, founded coast-settlements for trade, the island came into Dutch possession at the end of the 16th century. In 1620 the Dutch East India Company began to settle the coast, but even that part of the island was not completely occupied by Europeans until recent years, and much of the interior is still unexplored. In north Sumatra there was an independent Malay state called Atcheen, which -was a powerful sultanate during the earlier part of the 17th century. Its independence, after a decline of power, was reserved in a treaty between Great Britain and Holland in 1824, but in 1873 a long and severe struggle began between the Dutch and the bold, active, treacherous, bloodthirsty Atcheenese, with great cost to the military and financial resources of the European state. In 1874 the capital, Atcheen, was stormed by the Dutch troops, but the country was not nominally subdued until 1879, and has even now been hardly quite pacified.

Spain, conspicuous among European nations for ignominious failure as a colonising power and a ruler of dependencies, the Spain whose atrocious misrule of Cuba brought her in April, 1898, into war with the United States, has for over three centuries held the Philippine Islands. Discovered in 1521 by Magellan, who was killed in that year on one of the islets, the Philippines, named from the bigot and miscreant who then ruled Spain, were formally annexed in 1569. Manilla, the capital, was founded in 1571, and, becoming famous, and dear to smokers, in course of time, for admirable cigars and cheroots, has been further distinguished by liability to destructive earthquakes. In 1863 the great town, with a population of 250,000, was nearly destroyed. The seismographs of the government-observatory are in almost incessant vibration, and in 1872 and 1880 there were disastrous convulsions in various parts of the great archipelago. In 1896 and 1897 the Spanish government had to deal, as in Cuba, with persistent rebellion.

Tongking (Tonquin or Tonkin), in the north-east of the Indo Chinese peninsula, came before the world prominently in 1883, when French colonial ambition led to warfare. In the 15th century Annam, of which Tongking forms part, became independent of China, and early in the 16th century the Portuguese entered the country, being followed by the Dutch, who founded a trading-town at Hanoi. In 1789, with French aid, the emperor of Annam brought Tongking and Cochin-China under his rule. In 1861 the province of Saigon was annexed by France, and in 1862 a treaty established "French Cochin-China." In 1882 Hanoi, the capital of Tongking, was captured by the French, and held with great difficulty, until the arrival of strong reinforcements in the following year, against Chinese attempts to retake it, Admiral Courbet was in charge of a newly formed naval brigade, and in December, 1883, after desperate fighting, the town of Son-tai, the military "key" of Tongking, was gallantly stormed by the French troops, giving the Europeans firm possession of the country. In 1884 Annam, which may be regarded as the southern part of Cochin-China, acknowledged the suzerainty of France, and her right to regulate her relations with foreign powers. In 1885 China recognised this state of affairs, and the whole peninsula is now practically a dependency of France.

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Pictures for Asiatic Possessions of Great Britain and other European Nations, apart from India, Burma, and Central Asia.

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