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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mrs. R. learns more about her husband's past

...that Hugh Reid, as a young lieutenant, was a privateer ... though the Dutch would have called him a pirate

[July 1800, at anchor at Galilo] It very much surprised the mates to find our captain so well known at this apparently wild place. 

But nothing will remain to excite wonder, when it is known that he assisted in reinstating the Sultan, just mentioned, as Chief of Tidore, an eminence which was his by birthright; but he had formerly been displaced by the Dutch, and a price put upon his head, in consequence of his having supplied an English ship with provisions, &c. To revert to the origin of that transaction: in 1776 [1796], our captain received a lieutenant’s commission, signed by Sir John Shore, and the other members of council at Calcutta, to act against the Dutch. The establishment he then belonged to fitted out several armed vessels, as well for trade as war; and the officers directing this force acted amongst these islands and people near two years, assisted by a number of war-proas well armed: they drove the Dutch from Tidore, and attacked Ternate three successive times, where a number of men were killed and wounded on both sides.

The Dutch at this time were almost starved out, and otherwise to harassed, that had any of our king’s ships been present, these lords of the eastern seas would most gladly have delivered up the island; but they thought, and justly too, that the influence of the private ships were not sufficient to keep the hostile Malays in check. Some of the Dutch governors in these settlements exercise great cruelty and tyranny over these people, particularly if the natives be detected in trafficking with the English, the Batavian authorities having the power of life and death vested in themselves without any appeal. But, thank God, this abuse of sovereignty cannot be erected in any of our settlements with impunity.

Twan-Allie [Tuan Hadjee] stated that the Sultan was very happy now at Tidore, and had not for some time been attacked from Ternate, the Dutch having no disposable force; but as he was upwards of seventy years of age, it was thought that his youngest brother, Rajah Mooda, from the island of Ceram, would be called to the government of Tidore.

Our friend, Twan-Allie, continued on board all the time we remained here; notwithstanding his apparent strictness in keeping the institutes of the koran, he partook of our wine, and the common fare of the table, ham and pork excepted. He was too high a personage to trade, but made presents in hopes of a double return. This is the custom with the Sultan and all his chief men in these parts. However, I must not say too much on this score, as I came off pretty well.

He admired a topaz broach which I had; this was presented to him; in return he gave me three beautiful birds of paradise, two cockatoos, and two handsome luries [lories]; he was pleased with the exchange, and so was I. We also received from this person about two ounces of seed pearls, and some fine tortoise-shell, in the rough state; for all which he got more than an equivalent. The Malays had also plenty of the edible bird’s-nests, which are so much in demand amongst the Chinese, for making a luxurious soup: but as all our little merchandize was exhausted, we could purchase no more of their commodities.

The ship’s rudder being now put to rights, preparations were made for our departure. The ship at this place was filled with parrots, cockatoos, and luries, belonging to the seamen and lascars; many of them equal in beauty to our Botany Bay birds, but not so hardy.

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