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Voyages in the Southern Hemisphere, Vol. IVoyaging Accounts
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Transactions at Batavia


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Transactions at Batavia (continued)

told that he was at his country house, about four miles distant from the town. I met however with an officer, called a shebander, who is a kind of master of the ceremonies, and he acquainted me, that if I chose to go to the Governor immediately, rather than wait for his coming to town, he would attend me; I accepted his offer, and we set out together in his chariot. The Governor received me with great politeness and told me, that I might either take a house in any part of the city that I should like, or be provided with lodgings at the hotel. This hotel is a licensed lodging-house, the only one in the place, and kept by a Frenchman, an artful fellow, who is put in by the Governor himself. It has indeed more the appearance of a palace than a house of entertainment, being the most magnificent building in Batavia; nor would a small edifice answer the purpose, for as there is a penalty of five hundred dollars upon any person in the city who shall suffer a stranger to sleep a single night at his house, the strangers who make it their residence are never few: all the houses indeed have a stately appearance on the outside, and are elegantly fitted up within, and we were told that the Chinese, of whom there are great numbers at this place, were the architects. The city is large, and the streets well laid out, but they have greatly the appearance of those in the cities of Holland, for a canal runs through most of them, with a row of trees planted on each side: this is convenient for the merchants, who have every thing brought up to their own doors by water, but it probably contributes to the unhealthiness of the place; the canal, indeed, as the city is built in a swamp, might be necessary as a drain, but the trees, though they have a pleasant appearance, must certainly prevent the noxious vapours that are perpetually arising, from being dispersed, by obstructing the circulation of the air.

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© Derived from Volume I of the London 1773 Edition: National Library of Australia call no. FERG 7243, page 132, 2004
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