The first destination of the up-country traveller in Java is Buitenzorg, the Dutch "Sans Souci," containing the Governor-General's rural Palace, the houses of Court officials, and the superb Botanical Garden, which ranks first among the horticultural triumphs of the world. The two hours' journey by the railway, which now traverses the whole of Java, shows a succession of tropical landscapes, appearing unreal in their fantastic and dream-like beauty. The glowing green of rice-fields, the dense forests of swaying palms, the porphyry tints of the teeming soil, and the purple mountains, carved into the weird contours peculiar to volcanic ranges, frame myriad pictures of unfamiliar native life with dramatic effect. Villages of woven basket-work cluster beneath green curtains of banana and spreading canopies of palm, the central mosque surmounting the tiny huts with many-tiered roofs, and walls inlaid with gleaming tiles of white and blue. Brown figures, with gay sarong and turbaned headgear, bring bamboo buckets to moss-grown wells, gray water-buffaloes crop marshy herbage, a little bronze-hued figure seated on each broad back, and busy workers stand knee-deep in slush, to transplant emerald blades of rice or to gather the yellow crops, for seedtime and harvest go on together in this fertile land. Our train halts at Depok, a Christian village unique in Java, for the religious history of the island shows little missionary enterprise among a race strangely indifferent to the claims of faith, and lightly casting away one creed after another, with a carelessness which has ever proved a formidable bar to spiritual progress. The Portuguese Jesuits were expelled by the Dutch, and English efforts at conversion were succeeded by a general exclusion of foreign missionaries. Public opinion eventually prevented the continuance of this despotic rule, and at the present day a certain number of Roman and Protestant clergy are supported by the Government, but Roman zeal outstrips the niggardly spiritual provision, and proves the appreciation in which it is held by full churches and devout worshippers. The Mohammedanism of the Malay lacks the fiery fervour common to Islam, and his slack hands are ever ready to forego all symbols of faith. From the region of rice and tapioca, maize and sugar-cane, we reach the great cacao plantations, hung with chocolate-coloured pods, and the ruddy kina-groves on the lower slopes of the mountain chain. The palms are everywhere, clashing their huge fronds, and undulating in waves of fiery green, the light and shadow of the golden evening reflected on the swaying foliage. Stately Palmyra, slender areca, graceful pandang with a length of scarlet crowning each smooth grey stem, the mighty royal palm, king of the forest, spreading cocoanuts, and a hundred unknown varieties, soaring among bread-fruit and teak, nutmeg and waringen, reveal the inexhaustible powers of tropical Nature. Buitenzorg occupies an ideal position between the blue and violet peaks of Gedeh and Salak, the guardian mountains of the fairy spot, perennially green with spring-like freshness, from the daily showers sweeping across the valley from one or other of the lofty crests, and possessing a delicious climate at an altitude of eight hundred feet. The Hotel Bellevue, where back rooms should be secured on account of a superb prospect, comprising river, mountain and forest, stands near the great entrance of the world-famous Gardens, and our balcony commands a profound ravine, carved by a clear river, winding away between forests of palm to the dark cone of Mount Salak, the climax of the picture. The artist destined to interpret the soul of Java is yet unborn, or unable to grasp the character of her unique and distinctive scenery, but a village of plaited palm-leaves, accentuating this tropical Eden, brings it down to the human level, where soft Malay voices, glimpses of domestic life, and a canoe afloat on the brimming stream, remind us that we are still on terra firma, and not gazing at a dreamland Paradise beyond earthly ken. Sleeping accommodation in the hills suggests little comfort. A hard mattress beneath a sheet is the sole furniture of the huge four-poster, surrounded by thick muslin curtains to exclude air and creeping things; pillows are stuffed hard with cotton-down, and no coverings are provided—an unalterable custom possessing obvious disadvantages in a climate reeking with damp, where the walls of a room closed for a day or two become green with mould. Rheumatic stiffness on waking is a matter of course in humid Java, for the hour between darkness and dawn contains a concentrated essence of dew, mist, and malaria, which penetrates to the very marrow of unaccustomed bones, even when it lacks the frequent accompaniment of the violent cascade known as "a tropical shower." The glorious Botanical Garden is approached by a mighty avenue of colossal kanari-trees, over a hundred feet high, with yellow light filtering through the fretted roof of interlacing boughs, which suggests a vast aisle in some primeval forest. Stately columns and spreading roots garlanded with stag-horn ferns, waving moss, white and purple orchids, or broad-leaved creepers, falling in sheets and torrents of shining foliage and knitting tree to tree, attest the irrepressible growth of vegetation, which flings a many-coloured veil of blossom and leaf over root, branch, and stem. A fairy lake glows with the pink and crimson blossoms of the noble Victoria Regia, the huge leaves like green tea-trays floating on the water, where a central fountain adds prismatic radiance to the scenic effect of the splendid lilies. Climbing palms and massive creepers, splashed with orange, scarlet, and gold, tumble in masses from lofty branches, and the dazzling Bougainvillea flings curtains of roseate purple over wall and gateway. A dense thicket of frangipanni scents the air with the symbolic blossoms, shining like stars from grey-green boughs of sharp-cut leaves. A copse of splendid tree-ferns flanks the forest-like plantation known as "The Thousand Palms," and beneath dusky avenues of waringen (a variety of the banyan species, which strikes staff-like boughs into the earth and springs up again in caverns of foliage), herds of deer are wandering, snatching at drooping vines, or sheltering from the fierce sun in depths of impenetrable shade. Tufts of red-stemmed Banka palms cluster on the green islets of lake and river, vista after vista opens up, each mysterious aisle appearing more lovely than the last, and luring the wanderer to the climax formed by a terraced knoll, commanding a superb view of Gedeh and Salak, the twin summits of chiselled turquoise, gashed by the amethyst shadows of deep ravines, with Gedeh's curl of volcanic smoke staining the lustrous azure of the sky. Many-coloured tree carnations, gorgeous cannas and calladiums, copses of snowy gardenia, and flowering shrubs of rainbow hues, blaze with splendour, or exhale their wealth of perfume on the languid air, thronged with the invisible souls of the floral multitude. Graceful rattans shoot up in tall ladders of foliage-hidden cane, climbing to the topmost fronds of the loftiest palm, and, unless ruthlessly cut down, overthrowing the stately tree with their fatal embrace. Sausage and candle trees, with strange parodies of prosaic food and waxen tapers, climbing palms, sometimes extending for five hundred feet, and gigantic blossoms like crimson trumpets, or delicately-tinted shells of ocean, comprise but a tithe of Nature's wonders, crowned by the mighty "Rafflesia," the largest flower in the world, with each vast red chalice often measuring a circumference of six feet. A hundred native gardeners are employed in this park-like domain, and seventy men work in the adjacent culture-garden of forty acres, where experiments in grafting and acclimatizing are carried on, as well as in the supplementary garden of Tjibodas, beautifully situated on the lower slopes of Mount Salak. The white palace of the Governor-General faces the lake, fed by the lovely river Tjiligong, winding in silver loops round verdant lawn and palm-clad hill, or expanding into bamboo-fringed lakes, and bringing perennial freshness into the tropical Eden of sun-bathed Java.
Beyond the fretted arches of the great kanari avenue, the white tomb of Lady Raffles, who died during her husband's term of office in the island, forms a pathetic link with the past. When the colony was restored to Holland, a clause in the treaty concerning it, made the perpetual care of this monument, to one deeply loved and mourned, binding upon the Dutch Governor—a condition loyally observed during the century since the cessation of English rule. Cinnamon and clove scent the breeze which whispers mysterious secrets to the swaying plumes of the tall sago-palms, and dies away in the delicate foliage of tamarind and ironwood tree. A network of air roots makes a grotesque circle round the spreading boughs of the banyan grove, mahogany and sandal-wood, ebony and cork, ginger-tree and cardamom, mingle their varied foliage, the translucency of sun-smitten green shading through deepening tones into the sombre tints of ilex and pine with exquisite gradation. Flamboyant trees flaunt fiery pyramids of blossom high in the air, and the golden bouquets of the salacca light up dusky avenues, where large-leaved lianas rope themselves from tree to tree in cables of vivid green. Bare stems, except in the palms, are unknown in this richly-decorated temple of Nature; climbing blade-plants with sword-like leaves of gold-striped verdure, huge orchids like many-coloured birds and butterflies fluttering in the wind, wreathe trunk and branch with fantastic splendour, and matted creepers weave curtains of dense foliage from spreading boughs. The austere and scanty vegetation of Northern climes, which gives a distinct outline and value to every leaf and flower, has nothing in common with the prodigal and passionate beauty of the tropical landscape, where the wealth of earth is flung broadcast at our feet in mad profusion. Day by day the marvellous gardens of Buitenzorg take deeper hold of mind and imagination. The early dawn, when the dark silhouettes of the palms stand etched against the rose-tinted heavens, the hot noontide in the shadows of the colossal kanari-trees, the sunset gold transfiguring the foliage into emerald fire, and spilling pools of liquid amber upon the mossy turf, or the white moonlight which transmutes the forest aisles into a fairy world of sable and silver, invest this vision of Paradise with varied aspects of incomparable beauty. The surrounding scenery, though full of interest, seems but the setting of the priceless gem, and when inexorable Time, the modern angel of the flaming sword, at length bars the way, and banishes us from our Javanese Eden, the exiled heart turns back perpetually to the floral sanctuary, the antitype of that Divinely-planted Garden on the dim borderland of Time which revealed and fulfilled the primeval beauty of earth's morning hours.