HE city of Rangoon is a striking monument to the manner in which Burma has rapidly risen to a position of importance in the world of commerce. In fifty years it has developed irom an unimportant town set in the midst of a swamp into the first town in Burma and the fifth town of the Indian Empire; in thirty years its population has been almost trebled ; in twenty years a similar proportionate growth has been shown in its imports, and its exports have been multiplied in value by more than three.
According to the Talaing tradition, the accuracy of which cannot be implicitly trusted, Rangoon had its beginning 585 years before the birth of Christ. The founders were two brothers, Pu and Ta Paw by name, who received from Gautama himself some of the Buddhaas hairs, and enshrined them in a pagoda which has since become known as the Shwe Dagon Pagoda. Further records state that the town was refounded in 750 a.d. by the King of Pegu, Punnarika, under the name of Aramana. In 1413 it was occupied by the Burmese, but it was still little beyond a collection of huts and was of no practical importance. Dagon, as the town came to be called, frequently changed hands in the wars which were waged between the rulers of Burma and Pegu. In 1753 Alompra defeated the Talaing garrison at Ava, and under his direction Dagon was practically rebuilt, and the Shwe Dagon Pagoda was thoroughly repaired. By Alompraas orders the name of Dagon was changed to that of aYan Kon,a literally athe end of the war.a The modification to the present title of Rangoon was not a far step. Although under Alompra, Yan Kon became the seat of a Viceroy, an incessant struggle for its possession was waged between the Peguans and the Burmese.
About ten years before the dawn of the nineteenth century the British colours were
hoisted over the town of Rangoon by the East India Company, and a British Resident was appointed in 1798. An interesting description of the town at this period, from the pen of Captain Symes, is still extant.
a It stretches along the bank of the river about a mile,a he wrote, a and is not more than a third of a mile in breadth. The city.
or myo, is a square surrounded by a high stockade, and on the north side it is further strengthened by an indifferent fosse, across which a wooden bridge is thrown. In this face there are two gates, in each of the others only one. On the south side, towards the north, there are a number of huts and three wharves with cranes for landing goods. A battery of twelve cannon (six and nine-pounders) raised on the bank commands the river, but the guns and carriages are in
such a wretched condition that they could do but little execution. The streets of the town are narrow, and much inferior to those of Pegu, but clean and well paved. The houses are raised on posts from the ground. All the officers of the Government, the most opulent merchants, and persons of consideration, live within the fort; ship-
wrights and persons of inferior rank inhabit the suburbs.a
During the first Burmese War, in 1824, Rangoon fell into the hands of the British, but it was evacuated three years later under the terms of the Treaty of Yandabo. On the outbreak of the second Burmese War, in 1852, one of the first actions of the British forces was to occupy the town again, and since then its record has been one of almost uniform prosperity and growth. At
MERCHANT STREET, RANGOON, IN 1868.MERCHANT STREET, RANGOON, IN 1868.