AMBERGRIS

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AMBERGRIS is found floating in the sea near the coasts of various tropical countries, and has also been taken from the intestines of the spermaceti whale, where it is supposed to originate, owing to disease. It is met with in masses of various sizes, sometimes weighing nearly 200 pounds. Its color is a yellowish or blackish white ; it is generally brittle, and may be compressed with the teeth or nails. It melts at 140°, and is entirely dissipated on redhot coals. It is soluble in aether, volatile oils and alcohol, and is chiefly composed of a peculiar animal substance called adipocire. Its odor is very agreeable, and hence arises its only use. In the state of an alcoholic solution,. it is added to lavenderwater, toothpowder, hairpowder, washballs, &c, to which it communicates its fragrance. Its retail price in London is a guinea per oz. AMBOYNA ; one of the largest and most valuable of the Molucca islands, in the Indian ocean, the seat of their government, and the centre of the commerce in nutmegs and cloves. It lies in E. Ion. 128° 15', and S. lat. 3° 42', and is between 50 and 60 miles long. Its general aspect is beautiful, and its climate generally salubrious. It has been occasionally visited by earthquakes. It affords a great variety of beautiful wood for inlaying and other ornamental work. Rumphius reckons the species at 400. The clovetree is the staple production of A. The island affords annually about 650,000 pounds of its fruit. The Dutch, during the long period of their possession of A., made every effort to monopolize this valuable spice. The number of trees was regularly re^fetered by the governor, all the plantations of them visited, and particular districts devoted to their cultivation. They bought from the neighboring islands all the cloves that other nations were likely to impost, and, in some cases, compelled the chiefs to destroy the rest, and even the trees that bore them. They are said to have prohibited the culture of many edible roots on the island, to withhold the means of subsistence from settlers and conquerors. Sugar and coffee are plentiful in A. Sago is the principal article of food. The few fruits cultivated are delicious. The natives, like other Malays, are rude and savage, and, when intoxicated with opium, capable of any crime. There are many Chinese and European settlers on the island, and mixed races, from intermarriages, nearly as fair as Europeans. The Chinese are industrious, and live much together. Some of the aborigines in the woods are said to be as barbarous as ever, and to offer human sacrifices. When the English took A., in 1796, it contained about 45,252 inhabitants, of whom no less than 17,813 were Protestants ; the rest were Mohammedans and Chinese. The houses of the natives are made of bamboocanes and sagotrees. They sleep upon mats. Their weapons are bows, darts, cimeters and targets. They are said to be indolent, effeminate and pusillanimous, and their women to be licentious.In 1605, A. was conquered by the Dutch, and taken from the Portuguese, its former masters. They did not, however, get possession of the whole island, till after the lapse of some years. During this period, the English had erected some factories in A., and the dispute between the settlers of the two nations led to the event called the massacre of Amboyna. The Dutch accused the English inhabitants of being engaged in a conspiracy against the Dutch possessions. They were immediately seized, loaded with irons, thrown into prison, put to the torture to extort a confession, and those who survived this treatment were executed. The number of persons who perished were 22; 10 Englishmen, 11 Japanese, and 1 Portuguese. The English factory was in consequence withdrawn from the island, and the effects of the English merchants seized to the amount of £400,000. The English factories in the adjacent islands were also seized. James I and Charles I obtained no satisfaction for this outrage, but Cromwell compelled the United Provinces to pay £300,000 as a small compensation. A. has been twice taken by the English, in 1796 and 1810, but, after each capture, restored to the Dutch, in whose possession it is at present. The capital city of the island is called by the same name.