FRENCH CIRCUMNAVIGATORS, II
To go to Surabaya without paying a visit to the Sultan of Madura, whose reputation for hospitality had crossed the seas, would have been as impossible as it is to visit Paris without going to see Versailles and Trianon. After a comfortable lunch on shore, therefore, the staff of the two vessels set out in open carriages and four; but the roads were so bad and the horses so worn out that they would many a time have stuck in the mud if men stationed at the dangerous places had not energetically shoved at the wheels. At last they arrived at Bankalan, and the carriages drew up in the third court of the palace at the foot of a staircase, at the top of which the hereditary prince and the prime minister awaited the arrival of the travellers. Prince Adden Engrate belonged to the most illustrious family of the Indian Archipelago. He wore the undress uniform of a Java chief, consisting of a long flowered petticoat of Indian make, scarcely allowing the Chinese slippers to be seen, a white vest with gold buttons, and a small skirted waistcoat of brown cloth, with diamond buttons. A handkerchief was tied about his head, on which he wore a visor-cap, his ease and dignity of bearing alone saving him from looking like the grotesque figure of a carnival amazon. The palace or "kraton" consisted of a series of buildings with galleries, kept delightfully cool by awnings and curtains, whilst lustres, tasty European furniture, pretty hangings, glass and crystal ornaments decorated the vast halls and rooms. A suite of private apartments, with no opening to the court, but with a view of the gardens, is reserved for the "Ratu" (sovereign) and the harem.
The reception was cordial, and the repast, served in European style, was delicious. "The conversation," says Bougainville, "was conducted in English, and many toasts were proposed, the prince drinking our healths in tea poured from a bottle, and to which he helped himself as if it had been Madeira. Being head of the church as well as of the state, he strictly obeys the precepts of the Koran, never drinking wine, and spending a great part of his time at the mosque; but he is not the less sociable, and his talk bears no trace of the austerity to be expected in that of one who leads so regular a life. This life is not, however, all spent in prayer, and the scenes witnessed by us would give a very false impression if we did not know that great latitude is allowed on this point to the followers of the prophet."
In the afternoon the Frenchmen visited several coach-houses, containing very handsome carriages, some of which, built on the island, were so well-made that it was absolutely impossible to distinguish them from those which had been imported. Some archery was then witnessed, and joined in, after which, on the return to the palace, the visitors were welcomed by the sound of melancholy music, speedily interrupted, however, by the barking and fantastical dancing of the prince's fool, who showed wonderful agility and suppleness. To this dance, or rather to these postures of a bayadère, succeeded the excitement of vingt-et-un, followed by well-earned repose. Next day there were new entertainments and new exercises; beginning with wrestling-matches for grown men and for youths, and proceeding with quail-fights, and feats performed by a camel and an elephant. After lunch Bougainville and his party had a drive and some archery, and witnessed sack-races, basket-balancing, &c. In this way, they were told, the sultan passed all his time. Most striking is the respect and submission shown by all to this sovereign. No one ever stands upright before him, but all prostrate themselves before addressing him. All his subjects do but "wait at his feet," and even his own little child of four years clasps his tiny hands when he speaks to his father.
While at Surabaya, Bougainville took the opportunity of visiting the volcano of Brumo, in the Tengger Mountains; and this excursion, in which he explored the island for a hundred miles, from east to west, was one of the most interesting undertaken by him. Surabaya contains some curious buildings and monuments, most of them the work of a former governor, General Daendels; such are the "Builder's Workshop," the "Hôtel de la Monnaie" (the only establishment of the kind in Java), and the hospital, which is built on a well-chosen site, and contains 400 beds. The island of Madura, opposite to Surabaya, is at least 100 miles in length, by fifteen or twenty in breadth, and does not yield produce sufficient to maintain the population, sparse as it is. The sovereignty of this island is divided between the sultans of Bankalan and Sumanap, who furnish annually six hundred recruits to the Dutch, without counting extraordinary levies.