presented to Napoleon, and he reached London on 16 July.
He at once set to work to clear himself from the charges which had been made against his administration; but the court of directors declined to go beyond the exoneration of his personal honour, which they had already recorded. He then turned to the composition of his ‘History of Java,’ a somewhat hasty work, diffuse and bulky, and inaccurate in its account of the history and religion of the Javanese, but full of interesting matter with regard to the actual condition and manners of that people. He began to write in October 1816, and published the book in the following May. Its publication excited considerable public interest. A second edition appeared in 1830, and a French translation in 1824. He was presented to the prince regent and knighted. He visited Holland to lay before the Dutch king his views on the administration of Java, but found him more concerned about revenue than philanthropy. He travelled extensively, and formed plans for making new scientific collections relating to the further Indies.
In 1817 the court of directors confirmed him in the governorship of Bencoolen, and he took up his appointment there on 22 March 1818. He found the administration utterly disorganised. The public buildings had been wrecked by earthquakes, and the pepper cultivation, for the sake of which the settlement existed, was totally neglected. The principal item of revenue arose from the breeding of gamecocks, and there was little security for either life or person. He at once set to work to cultivate friendly relations with the native chiefs, emancipated a number of negro slaves, the property of the East India Company, established schools, organised the police, and checked the attempts of neighbouring Dutch officials to extend their territories at the expense of the natives. An impression prevailed that the interior of Sumatra was impenetrable. He undertook various excursions from the sea-coast, and eventually crossed the island from one sea to the other, travelling constantly on foot, and often sleeping in the forests. On one of these journeys he discovered the extraordinary and enormous flower of the Rafflesia Arnoldi, a fungus parasite on the roots of the Cissus angustifolia. It measures a yard across, and attains a weight of fifteen pounds. The Nepenthes Rafflesiana, which he subsequently discovered at Singapore, was also named after him.
Having received information that the Dutch were fitting out expeditions with the view of occupying all the most commanding situations in the Archipelago, Raffles urged upon his superiors the necessity of taking counter steps. Proceeding to Calcutta in the autumn of 1818 to confer with the government of Bengal, a voyage on which he was shipwrecked at the mouth of the Hooghly, he obtained authority to assume charge of British interests to the eastward of the Straits of Malacca, as agent to the governor-general, and prevailed upon the Marquis of Hastings, who had now been brought to express approval of his conduct in Java, to allow the occupation of Singapore. This almost uninhabited island he had selected even before leaving England as highly fitted for preserving to British trade free access to the eastern islands, and preventing the Dutch from securing the exclusive command of the eastern seas. He had discovered its capabilities in the course of his Malay studies. It was unknown alike to the European and to the Indian world, and it had been overlooked by the Dutch, who conceived themselves to have occupied every place available for securing the only two practicable approaches to the Archipelago—the Straits, namely, of Malacca and Sunda. By Raffles's advice the company purchased Singapore from the sultan of Johore, and Raffles in person hoisted the British flag there on 29 Feb. 1819, in a spot occupied by the remains of the fortifications of the ancient maritime capital of the Malays. His services to British commerce in selecting this site were enormous. The acquisition of Singapore itself has been justified by its extraordinary growth and success as the meeting-point of all the routes and all the races of the eastern seas, and as the most important commercial centre between Calcutta and Hongkong. At the same time, Raffles's plan for the extension of British power in Sumatra was not adopted, and the settlement at Singapore marked the back current of British enterprise from the islands to the mainland of the Malay peninsula.
Returning to Bencoolen, he established schools and a bible society, and imported baptist missionaries from India. He formed plans for a native college at Singapore, and strongly urged the court of directors to unite all their separate stations in the Straits in one government. He does not appear to have ever been in high favour with the directors at home, who probably feared, without appreciating, his restless and reforming energy, and, in spite of a visit to Bengal, this cherished plan failed, to his lasting disappointment.
In February 1820 he left Calcutta to return to Sumatra, but from this time forward