Notes and Queries
Reprint 15
Notes and Queries
By W.E. Maxwell
146pp. Size:150x220mm Hardcover

Members of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (the precursor to the MBRAS) received a supplementary booklet alongside their copies of Vols. 14-17 of its Journal (JSBRAS) between 1885 and 1887. The entire contents of these separate publications have now been compiled in a single volume under their original title. This reprint now comes with a special introduction penned by the indefatigable J.M. Gullick (1916-2012) in which he outlined the original purposes of the publication and identified the various contributors whose only form of attribution hitherto was a set of initials which appeared at the end of every entry in the booklets.

A glance at the range of topics covered in this reprint reveals astonishing breadth and diversity, from Malay birth practices in 19th century Perak to nationwide legends about an unfilial son and his retinue petrified in stone. Though the modern academic may turn his nose up in scorn at this collection, this remarkable but short-lived enterprise reveals an inquisitive spirit and intellectual curiosity displayed by an extinct class of colonial officers known - for want of a better description - as scholar-administrators, many of whom were but amateurs of a superior breed. The contributors to this volume must have had a pretty sound grasp of the Malay language to enable them to pursue their investigations into these local legends and practices, much of which must have been picked up in the course of conversation with the local population. As cultural documentation is but a recent phenomenon among the Malays, much of their lores and legends have been irretrievably lost except for those which have been preserved in aspic, so to speak, by these British administrators many of whom were later subjected to revulsion and contempt in the nationalistic fervour that afflicted post-independence Malaysia.

Maxwell's Notes and Queries is a volume that might show the wealth of cultural legacy which have been allowed to vanish in a rapidly modernising society like Malaysia. Many of the legends described here are alien to the present-day generation and this volume is but a gentle reminder that unless such modest initiatives continue to be supported, there is a serious danger that the nation might become unappreciative of its brilliant past and lose its national pride.

The style used is perhaps gently archaic, recalling to mind mid-Victorian prose that is redolent of Trollope or Gaskell, but is charming nonetheless. The modern reader might perhaps find that this nostalgic collection of Malayan trivia would prove amply rewarding and is suitable for dipping into for gentle amusement rather than to be consumed at a single sitting.

About the Editor:

Sir William Edward Maxwell, KCMG was born 5 August 1846, the fourth son of Sir Peter Benson Maxwell, chief justice of the Straits Settlements. He was educated at Repton and later served at the supreme court of Penang and Singapore between 1865 and 1869. In 1867, he qualified as advocate at the local bar and in September 1869, appointed a police magistrate and commissioner of the court of requests at Penang. He served in the same capacity at Malacca, Singapore and Province Wellesley respectively. Maxwell was a Barrister-at-Law of the Inner Temple in London, having qualified in 1881 following admission as a student in 1872. He was a high ranking colonial officer based in the Straits Settlements, becoming among others, the Lieutenant-Governor of Malacca in 1870, and later became Acting Resident Councillor of Penang from 1884-1889. In 1889, Maxwell was made the Resident of Selangor. Maxwell was further promoted to colonial secretary in 1892 before becoming acting governor of the Straits Settlements between 1893-1895. His official residence as Governor in Singapore was known as Government House (now known as the Istana, the official residence of the President of Singapore). In March 1895, Maxwell was offered the governorship of the Gold Coast and was advanced to K.C.M.G. in 1896, having received the companionship of the order in 1884. Maxwell's health became increasingly fragile during his tenure at the Gold Coast where he worked tirelessly to establish order in the turbulent colony. Maxwell died at sea, possibly due to malarial infection, off Grand Canary on 14 December 1897 while returning to England from the Gold Coast. At an earlier point in his career, Maxwell was Assistant Resident of Perak to Sir Hugh Low, during which the former wrote A Manual of the Malay Language (1881). Sir William had extensively studied the manuscript of Misa Melayu before it was translated to English by R.O. Winstedt. Amongst his contribution to the JMBRAS included A History of Perak (a collaborative effort between R.J. Wilkinson, R.O. Winstedt and himself) and Notes and Queries (the current reprint). Maxwell Roads in Penang and Singapore were named after him, but not the hill in Taiping, currently known as Bukit Larut.

N & Q 1

1. Daun Sengugu
2. Gutta Percha

3. Ancient Settlement in Penang before British Occupation
4. Title and Offices of the Officers of Perak
5. Ophir

6. Pantang Baharu
7. Modes of Sitting in Driving an Elephant
8. Johor

Natural History
9. Sumatran Mawar
10. Turtles
11. Breeding Pearls and Bacteria in Rice
12. Are Cockatoos Carnivorous?
13. The Octopus<
14. Tiger Traps
15. Man Eaters
16. Tigers eating Frogs
17. Charms

Malay Folklore
18. Signs and Omens
19. Legends of Changkat Rambia
20. Nakhoda Ragam

Social Customs
21. Ganju

22. (No title)

Games and Amusements
23. Daun Tiga ‘lei

24. (no title) query on a point in Maxwell’s Malay Manual

N & Q 2

1. Perak and Penang in 1829
2. Visit of Lord William Bentinck to Penang in 1828
3. The Dutch in Perak
4. Ancient Chinese Colony in North Borneo

5. Management of Elephants
6. The Menangkabau Code

7. Legends of Petrified Ships
8. The Berik Berik of Biberik
9. Malacca Legends of Nakhoda Ragam
10. Penang Legends of Nakhoda Ragam
11. Mantra Sandaran
12. Legend of Toh Kuala Bidor
13. Gelegak nasi
14. Serawa langut
15. Magic Circle
16. Legend of Kubang Aji
17. Legend of Pulau Tunggal
18. Sang Kelembai
19. Origin of Orchids

Social Customs
20. The Malay Howdah
21. Fighting Dress of the Malays
22. Malay Superstitions

Games and Amusements
23. "Chai Mui" (Hokkien "Hoah-koon")
24. Daun Tiga ‘lei

25. Armenian inscription
26. Land Tenure in North Borneo
27. Rate of Speed of Elephant

N & Q 3

1. The Lagundi
2. The Ipoh Tree

4. The Stone Age in Perak
5. Letter of the King of Achin to King James I
6. Rembau
7. Sang Kelambu
8. The title "Sang

9. Malay Words of Portuguese Origin
10. Malay Titles in Ulu Perak
11. Malay in Cornell University
12. T J Newbold

Natural History
13. Death from Snake Bites
14. The Bite of the Python

Social Customs
14. Birth Ceremonies in Perak
15. Sacred Fire
16. Pelas Negri
17. Legend of Toh Panglima

18. Index of Asiatic Journals
19. The Borneo Coal Fields
20. Malayan Antiquities
21. Rock-Pictures in New Guinea
22. Astronomy

N & Q 4

1. The Brinjal
2. Ketiar

3. Malays
4. Pagar
5. Temikei; Mendikei; Kamendikei
6. Jalibut
7. Cockup
8. Galgal
9. Jam
10. Manuk
11. The Sakai Language

12. English Trade with Perak
13. The Founding of Singapore
14. Seals of Johor and Pahang in 1819
15. Date of the Foundation of Singapore

16. The Light Family

17. Senna

Social Customs
18. Panjat
19. Influence of the Breath in Healing
20. Modes of Carrying
21. Raja of the Bamboo
22. The Crocodile
23. Ceremonies when shooting Rapids

24. Mantra
25. Belief in Spirits and Demons

26. Land Revenue System in China
27. The Indian Notes and Queries

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