The forgotten story of a dramatic imperial adventure
April 1, 2013 6:59 PM   Subscribe

As a companion to his fascinating Raffles and the British Invasion of Java, Tim Hannigan has a blog — Footnotes and Sidelights from the Story of the British Interregnum in Java, wherein he shares interesting stories that could not find space in the published book.

Tim Hannigan previously.
posted by unliteral (5 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Utterly fascinating, thanks for sharing!

Raffles is an overarching figure in these parts (Singapore) much of it, I believe, for this apparent sense of fairness and all that that is a result of Singapore's self-identity as this meritocratic society, but is simply unjustified given Raffles' own personal history. His time in Java is at its most unknown (unspoken, even) in the regular Singaporean narrative; to that end, this is a great book/ blog. Will read it more closely, thanks!
posted by the cydonian at 7:49 PM on April 1, 2013

I thought this was a story about British software developers shaking things up in the Java development world, like the Beatles. Then I remembered that the British once invaded actual Java. Still the image of four lads from Liverpool and mop tops coming to shake up the music scene in the wake of Steve Jobs' too young like Buddy Holly departure from the scene, it amuses me. I also now have Don McLean stuck in my head.
posted by humanfont at 9:32 AM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

From the blog, ca.1810's:
At that time, I never met an Englishman who had a white face, for all of them had “mounted the green horse,” that is to say, were drunk. So much so, that when children cried, their mothers would say, “Be quiet, the drunken Englishman is coming,” and the children would be scared and keep quiet.
Hah, naik kuda hijau, is that expression still in use?

Just placed my order for the book.
posted by BinGregory at 7:51 PM on April 2, 2013

Just placed my order for the book
Money well spent.

The Land of Promise [p.25]
"The little boat ground onto a suppurating shoreline scattered with dead fish and a man leapt out with a shriek of delight. He was dressed as a pantomime pirate. He skipped over the lengths of waterlogged driftwood and tiptoed around the banks of rotting seaweed. The tassel on top of his red fancy-dress fez swung in wild circles as he went. At the head of the sticky beach a dreary expanse of mud, marsh and morass opened, shimmering in the yellow heat of a dry season afternoon. It was hardly a promising spectacle, but the man was exhilarated none the less. He took a deep breath of the fetid air, waved his antiquated pistol at the bleached tropical sky, and brandished his Sinband-style cutlass at a gaggle of scrawny hens that had been picking through the flotsam and jetsam. They clucked irately. The man drew another deep breath and sighed with delight. Java! Java! The Land of Promise lay before him!"

You might also be interested in another recommendation.
posted by unliteral at 4:37 AM on April 3, 2013

John Leyden
His spirit of romantic adventure led him literally to rush upon death; for, with another volunteer who attended the expedition, he threw himself into the surf, in order to be the first Briton of the expedition who should set foot upon Java. When the success of the well-concerted movements of the invaders had given them possession of the town of Batavia, Leyden displayed the same ill-omened precipitation in his haste to examine a library in which many Indian manuscripts of value were said to be deposited. A library, in a Dutch settlement, was not, as might have been expected, in the best order, the apartment had not been regularly ventilated, and, either from this circumstance, or already affected by the fatal sickness peculiar to Batavia, Leyden, when he left the place, had a fit of shivering and declared the atmosphere was enough to give any mortal a fever. The presage was too just; he took his bed, and died in three days (August 28), on the eve of the battle which gave Java to the British empire.
Down the rabbit hole.
posted by unliteral at 5:26 AM on April 3, 2013

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