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National gazette. [volume] (Philadelphia [Pa.]) 1791-1793, August 24, 1793, Image 4

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De/cription of the BOHON UPAS, or
Poison Tree, in the IJl >nd of Java, in
the jt.ajl Indies, By a Gentleman xaho
resided many years in th it place.
INJava'sifle, midst circling mountains
The Bohon Upas casts his deadly (hade ;
With poifiHlous Iteanis, this tyrant oi the
Tai:it3 the warm air and bids all nature
Each beast of prey. each bird of loftieft
m,!ii himfelf the deadly vapours seize,
Bind the clos'd eyelid in eternal night,
Quench the blue vein, or bid its current
THIS tree grows in the Dutch island
of Java, in the Eait Indies, and
renders a vast extent of country round it,
noxious and sickly by its vapours. The
following account of this extraordinary
tree, which is found in no other part of
the world, is extracted from a letter writ
ten by a gentleman of information and
veracity, a furgt-on by profetiion, whore
Tided many years at Batavia, in the island
of Java.
" In the year 17*74, I was Rationed at
Batavia, as a surgeon in the frrvice of the
Dutch Eatt India company. During my
residence there I received several differ
ent accounts of the Bohon Upas, and the
violent effects of its poison. They all
then seemed incredible lo me, but.raised
my curiosity in so liigh a degree, that I
resolved to inveltigate this iwbjeft tho
roughly, and to trust only to my own ob
fervations. In cottftquence of this reso
lution 1 applied to the governor general
for a pass to travel thro' the country —
My requell was granted, and having pro
Cured every information, I £et out 011 my
expedition. I had procured a recommen
dation from ah old Malayin priest to an
other priest:, who lives on 'he nearest ha
bitnblefpot to the tree, which is about 15
or 16 miles d ill ant. The letter proved of
great service to me in my undertaking, aS
that priest is appointed by the emperor to
reside the e, in order to prepare for eter
nity the fouls of those who, fo.r different
crimes, are fentenc-d to approach the tree
and to procure the-poifon.
This malignant tree grows about 27
leagues from Batavia. It is surrounded
on all fides, by a circle of high hills and
mountains, and tile country round it, to
the dill ant of ten or twelve miles from the
tree is entirely barren : Not a tree, not a
' shrub, nor even the lead plant or grass is
to be fcen. I have made the tour all
around his dangerous spot, at about 18
miles distant from the centre,>.nd I found
the afpe.n of the country on all fides
«q ially dreary. The winJs are for the
mod part hot and sultry, at other times
the atmosphere is calm and fuffocating,
and every thing around wears the appear
ance of dejedtion, death&melancholy. The
eafielt ascent of the hills is f om that part
where the old ecclesiastic 1 wells. From
his hcufe the criminals are sent for the poi
son, into-which the points of all the war
like instruments arc cipped It is of high
value, and produces a considerable revenue
to the Indian emperor of the interior regi
ods of the island.
The peiion which is procured from this
tree, is a gum that iflues constantly out
in abundance between the baik .md the
tree itfelf, like the camphire. M ilefac
tors, who for their crimes are sentenced tc
die, are the only persons who fetch the
poison, and this is the only chance they
have of saving their lives After sentence
as pronounced upon them by the judge,
they are alked in court, whether they will
die by the hands of the executioner, 01
whether they will go to the Upas tree sot
a ' *of poison J
Th;y commonly prefer the latter pro
pi 1 1, as there is not only some chance ol
preserving their lives, but also a certainty,
in cafe of their fafe return, that a provision
will be made for them in future by the
emptror. They are also permitted to ask
a favour from the emperor, which is gen
erally of a trifling nature, and commonly
granted. They are then provided with a
silver or tortoise fhellbox, into which they
are to put the poisonous gum, and are pro
perly inttru&ed how to proceed, while they
are upon their dangerous expedition. A
mong other particulars they are always
told to attend to the diredtion of the
winds, as they are to go towards the tree
fc«fore the wind, so that the effluvia from
die tree Sre always blown from them.
They are told, likevvife, to travel with the
titmoft dispatch, as that is the only me
thod ef enluring a fafe return. They arc
afterwards sent to the house of the oIJ
pried, to which place they are commonly
attended by their friends and relations
Here they generally remain foine days, in
expe&ation of a favourable breeze. Du
ring that time the etclefiadic prepares
them for their future fate, in the eternal
world, by piayer6 and admonitions.
When the hour of their departure ar
riv.s, the pried puts over their heads a
long leather cap, with tvo glaflcs before
their eyes, which comes d wn as far a;
their breail ; and also provides them vvit'i
a pair of leather gloves. They are then
condn&ed by a guard, attended by the
pried,and their friends and relations, about
two miles on their journey. Here the
pried repeats his indruftions, and tel's
:htm where they are to look for the tree.
He shews them a hill, which they are told
to ascend, and that on the other fide they
will find a rivulet, which they are to fol
low, and which will conduct them dire&ly
:o the Upas. They now take leave of
?ach other, and amidd prayers for their
r uccefs, the criminals haflen away.
The worthy old ecclefiadic has allured
cne, that during his residence there, for
ipwards of 30 years, he had difmified
\bove seven hundred criminals in the manner
which I have described, and that scarce
y two out of twenty have returned. He
shewed me a catalogue of all the unhappy
ufferers, with the date of their departure
r rom his house annexed, and a lift of the
:ffences for which they had been con
demned. To which were added the named
as those who ha I returned in fafety. 1
lfterwards saw a lift of those culprits, at
he jail keeper's at Sotira Charta, and found
hat they perfe&ly corresponded with each
3ther, and with the different infoimativms
which I afterwards obtained.
1 was present at some of those meian
:holy ceremonies and desired different
Criminals to bring with them some pieces
if the wood, or a final! branch, or some
eaves of this wonderful tree. I have also
jiven them silk cords, defuing them to
ir.eafure its-lhickncfs. I never could pro
;ure more than two dry leaves, that were
picked up by one of them on his return ;
md all I could learn from him concerning
he tree itfclf was, that it dood o» the
borders of a rivulet, as described by the
jld priest, that it was of a middling fiz»,
"another account fays eight feet in circum
'"erence near the ground, and about ninety
Fe t high] ;:nd that five or fix young trees
:>f the fame kind, dood close by it ; but
:hat no other 111 rub or plant could be seen
n its neighbourhood ; and that the ground
:onlided of a brownifli sand, full of pebble
Hones of a flinty kind, almod impractica
ble for travelling, and covered with bleach
id bones and dead bodies.
After many conversations with the old
Malayan pried, I rpeftioned him about the
fird discovery, and alked his opinion ol
this dangerous tree; upon which he in
formed me, that above one hundred years
igo, the country round the tree was beau
tiful and verdant, but inhabited by a race
i>f people drongly addidted to the fins of
Sodom and Gomorrah : when the great
departed prophet Mahomet, incensed that
they led such detedable lives, applied to
God to punish them : upon which God
eaufed this tree to grow out of the earth,
which destroyed them all, and rendered
the country forever uninhabited.
Such was the opinion and creed of the
Malayan priest. I fliall not attempt a
:omment, but must observe that all the
Malayans consider this tree as an holy in
(lrument of the great prophet to punifli
the fins of mankind, and therefore to die
if the poison of the Upas is generally con
sidered among them as an honourable
death. For that reason I also observed
that the criminals who were going to the
tree, were generally dressed in their bed
This however is certain, though it may
ippear incredible, that from 15 to lb
niles round this tree, not oaly no human
:reature can exist, but ill that space of
ground, no living animal of any kind has
ever been difeovcred. I have also been
allured by several persons of veracity, that
there are no fifh in the waters, nor has any
r -t. mouse, nor any o.her vermin been
seen there ; and when any birds fly so near
his tree that the effluvia reaches them,
hey fall a f.crificeto the effedts of the
poison. This fircumftar.ce has been as
cettatned by different criminals, who, in
their return, have fc:n the bir<3a drof
down, and have picked them up dead, and
brought tl.em to the old eccieiiallic. I
'."ill here mention an instance which provet
this fact beyond all doubt, and which hap
pened during my stay at Java. —In the
year 1775, a rebellion broke out amor.g
Ihe fubjefts of the Mafiay, a fovereigir
prince whose dignity is nearly equal to
that of the emperor: They refufed to
pay a duty imposed upon them by their
lovereign, whom they openly opposed.
The Mafiay sent a body of a thousand
troops to disperse the rebels, and to drive
them with their families, out of his do
minions. '1 hus 4.00 families, confiding ol
above 1600 fou!s, were obliged to leave
their native country. Neither the empe
ror nor the sultan would give them pro
tection, not only because rhey were rebels,
but also thro' fear of di pleasing their
neighbour, the Mafiay. In this dillrefsfr.!
situation, tlicy had no other rcfource thar
to repair to the uncultivated parts around
the Upas, and requeued permission of the
;mperor to fettle there. Thisrequeft was
granted on condition of their fixing theii
lbode not more than 12 or 14. miles from
the tree, in order not to deprive the inha
hitants already fettled there, at a greater
•-i'd a nee, of-their cultivated lands. Wit!
this they were obliged to comply : bin
the confequsnce was, that in less than twe
months their number was rednced to abotn
500. The chiefs of those who remained.
l eturned to the Mafiay, informed him oi
their loflVs, and intreated his pardon, which
induced him to receive them again as his
fubjeft.=, thinking them ftifficiently punish
ed for their mifconduft. I have seen and
coriyerfed with fever .1 of those who fur
vived, soon after their return. They al
had tile appearance of persons tainted with
an infjftious disorder ; they looked pale
a- d weak, and from the account which
they gave of the loss of their comrades, ol
the fymptomsand circumstances which at
tended their difiolution, such as convjl
fions, and other ligns of a violent death,
I was fully convinced that they fell victims
to the poison.
[The remainder in our next.]
July 1793.
D. Vi\Barum. 7b(r. jy.ni. JVtatbcr
Tuefddy, 13. 6| 30 05 71 S. wLFW.
V 30. o 89 W. H •
Wedntjday, 14. Ctj 30. c 75 S. VV . hair.
~ 1: oc 8a IS. W Ruin.
'Tbur/dJJ, 15. L, 30. u 72 N.N fc.j Rain.
330 1' 7C j Nt- Clouay.
t riddy, 10. o 3;,. i yj jN.N.E .\talr.
3 1 V- il S3 IN. h I fIV
dd: '■ rday, 17. 6 33. l| Ijb. Vv fair J
3' 30. G' Bfi IS. W. <in
Sunday, it, o 30. 1 73 c-.in ,Fuit.
3 30. o 89 S. W do.
Monday, 19. 6 30. ji 72 N. \ratr.
3 30. i| So N. I Cloudy.
To be Sokl or Let,
(And of tbh immediate pojjr-flun given )
THAT handsome, well-bum three ltory new
house, fuuate on the east fide of fouch
Fourth-ltreer, ne. r the Indian Philadel
phia. This fituati>n is valuable, being in a
central part of the city, and convenient to the
banks and public offices. The house is 25 feet
in front, and, with its offices, extends nearly 10c
feet backwards. It has the privilege of an ale .
4 \ feet wiae* The offices ate three stories high,
and, together with the house, arc built ot brick :
thefecontain five apartments, befiJes a wash houle.
and four of them have fi.e places. In the dwell
ing house itftlf, there are nine rooms and eight
fiie places ; fix of the rooms are spacious, and aI»
fafhionably finifhed. T1 e garrets are ceiled : tht
stair-case is elegant. There is a good cellar under
the whole, and in the yard a pump.
And to be Soid,
230 Acres of unimproved la' <.i, 18 miles from the
thriving town ol Harrifburg, Pennl)lvaiiia. This
tract lies in a val'ey, and is fa id to be vet/ gooo
farming land. There are ore or more mills near
the prcmifes. The river Juniata is about five
miles distant 5 whence it is boatable into the Suf
quehanna, and thence so Hariifburg. Also,
A deftrablt reirtat, or firm, in Newtown, the
county town of Bucks, Pennsylvania j contain
ing nearly 15 acies of luid, natural]) very rich,
3nd now highly improved, it is surrounded on all
lides by public flreets or roads j and may, with
present advantage, be converted into town lots
that would prove 0/ giowiwg importance. Then
i- 2 commodious brick houle upon the premises,
two stories in height, having four rooms on
rloor, a fpsCious entry o-r pafiage throughout, and
a extending under the whole houle. It i
well acCcrwmodated with out houses. About thret
acres are occupied by an orchard of tfie best graft
ed Newtown pippins r distant from Philadelphia
25 miles 5 from Trenton 9 ; from Bristol 11 ; and
is within five miles of the river Delaware. The
situation rs extremely healthy ; the profpe&s are
charmingly pidiurefque, and the neighbourhood
aftbrds a genteel society.
Besides the above,
Two corner lots in the town, of one acre each,
are ottered for sale, together with abowt 16 acies
of excellent land, half a n.Ue from the tywa,
under the bed culture anJ Improvement* Tir»
or three of t'nefe acre? are in timber.
Ltkeicife :s be S Jd.
An eftimablc farm of 53© acies, in the county
ot Chelter, 39 miles from Philadelphia : acres
of which are of the richest bottom. 'The whole
of this land enjoys a k:nJ, itr.ng and fertile foil :
is well watered, and admiiab'y adapted to the
raiting of grain and ajl kinds of (tock \ at prefenC
there are nearly 30 acres of made-meadow, and
20 or 30 more of watered meadow may be made
ac pleasure : about 200 aie luxuriantly covered
with a vaiiety of valuable tirnber. Upon the
preni fes, there are a fsim house, barn, &c. a
never-failing dream of good water, and a moffc
produ&ive apole-orchard covering about fix acres 5
the fruit of a pood and lasting quality : the pur
chaser may b<". accommodated wich all or any part
of the stock or farming utensils upon ths place.
The position of this farm is important, lying or\
>oth fiJe9 of the tnain road, and bounaed south
erly by the road to Philadelphia through Down
ing-town j—Whence it is distant 12 or 13 miles :
On the north iris bounded by the road to Warwick
Furnace, fjtuate but a few miles diltant. At thia
point, the premises enjoy a capital stand both for
I store a»d tavern, and also an eligible situation
for a village, which would here have foms
rommnnding advantages, and might be an object
:o any gentlemen wishing to found an exrenlivc
and profitable settlement. On the one fide, it
has a dirctt communication with Downing'*
town ; and with rhe rich and populous fettleunene
>f C<>nefto«o valley on the other, both lying with
in a /hort ride of the place. There is already a
market here for produce at the PhiladeJphn prices
-•-the neighbouring iron-works creating a constant
demand. Plenty of good limestone may be had
within 5 miles of the premises, „and a ts
make use of ir will be convejed by the proprie
tor if reouired. In short this farm deserves the
attention of any person or persons inclined to
avail themselves of advantages such as those it
The title to tl'r several premises are indifpnta
ble 5 and the proprietor will warrant to defend
tiliern. The terms of sale, for all or any of the
lands, will be made accommodating to the p*urcha
lers. For farcher particulars, a, ply to the sub
scriber, «t No. 6, south Fourth-ftfeef, or at his
store, the corner of Market and Thiid-flreets*
Aug. 10. i'j. w. t. f.
Boulting-Cloths & Mill-Jloms,
For sale at No, 437 NorthSecoml-ftreet, by
VAT"HO hath viewed the Cloths and Stones in a
gteat many of the be/t mills in different parts
of America, and procured samples of the clcths,
with an account how they proved, and colle&ed
the opinion and judgment of many of the molt
experienced n;illers refpedVmg the quality of cloths
stone for the different purposes : therefore, if
they do n »t prove good, and suitable for the pur
poses for which he fells them, they will be re
ceived again, others delivered in their ftrad, and
the cofls of carriage paid. Drafts of the belt and
fim;ile(t plans for boulting, and belt and fimpltfk
cpnftrudtions of mills now in use, will be (hewei
to the pUrchasers, if required.
August 17. I a. w. t. f.
And to be fold by Thom asDobson, Wil
li am Young, Robert Campbell*
MeflTrs. Rice and Co. and John M,
Culloch, No. 1, North Third-ltreet,'
A N EXAMINATION of the late pro
* ceedings in Congress rcfpe&ing the
official condu£V of the Secretary of the
Treafnry ; with Obfrrvations, &c. on the
application of loans from Koll ml, negoci
ated under the aits of the 4th and 12th of
Aiiguit 1790.' —The price of the above
pamphlet is three sixteenths of a dollar, or
is 4d. 1-2. April 24. 2aw if
*#* The author requests his readers to
correct the following ERRATA in the
pamphlet above mentioned Page 5.
line 11 —2d. paragraph, ior Coalition read
Collifio?j. Page 25. line n—2d.parag
■tead of Batik directors read 44 Stocks
And to b« fold at the refpedlive Book Stores of
Jofepb Crukjhank and c Than:as Dcbfon, and may
be had at the Printing office, No. 209, Mar-
[Price ore eighth of a dollar.J
iddrefil'd to the Yeomanry of the
United States:
Containing forae Obfcrvations on Funding
and Bar.ft Syfiemr.
AU/v town/hip, Lancd/lsr county,
To whom it may concern.
>ehaved tiefelf in a very unbecoming manner, I
>iave thought fit to forewarn all persons t»-ufting
ner on my account, as 1 am determined to pay
"o debts of her contra&ing, after the date
August C<h, 1793.
AT Tit—lfc *TF IC S N0» 209, HICH-STI E£ T»

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