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Description of Batavia


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Description of the city, inhabitants, customs, and persons trading to Batavia

Batavia, formerly called Jocatra, is situated in a very large open bay, in which is a great number of low islands; the principal of which, called the Milles Isles, lie off the bay. It is walled round, and has many canals cut through it, supplied by a river, which is divided into several streams, that run through the town. The main canal, which is large enough to admit small vessels, is carried a long way into the sea by means of a mole. The mountainous part of this country is at a great distance within land; and the plain flat land, which surrounds the city, is of considerable extent, very fertile, and watered with a great many rivulets; which renders the communication between different parts very easy. The roads which lead from the city are many, and as good as ours in England; they extend a long way into the country, and are so many avenues, planted with Tamarind, Cocoa, Pisang, Bread-fruit, Jacca, Duriam, and Allango, trees, which render them very pleasant. There is a great number of villas all along these roads, many of which have a magnificent appearance. In brief, the whole country looks like a garden, divided into different plantations by hedge-rows of trees and canals. But these canals, which are so convenient and enrich the views of the country, are supposed to be pre-judicial to the health of the inhabitants: for, in the dry season, they stagnate, be-come putrid, and, being exhaled by the sun, the air is charged with noxious vapours: while the great number of trees prevents them from being dispersed by the winds, and occasions that kind of putrid fever, which is so common, rages so much, and is so fatal amongst them, insomuch that it carries off a patient in a few days; and indeed the climate is so unhealthy, that even the slaves, brought here from other parts of India, feel the effects of it. Fluxes too are also very common and dangerous at Batavia; and their intermittents, which the inhabitants think trivial, are very prejudicial to foreigners; but it must be allowed, however, that they mostly prove so for want of observing a proper regimen.

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© Derived from the London 1773 edition printed for Stanfield Parkinson, pages 173 - 174, 2004
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