1902 Encyclopedia > Ceylon (Sri Lanka)

Ceylon
(now known as: Sri Lanka)




CEYLON, an island in the Indian Ocean, separated on the N.W. from continental India by the Gulf of Manaar. It lies between 5° 55' and 9° 51' N. lat., and between 79" 41' 40'' and 81° 54' 50" E. long. Its extreme length from north to south is 271 miles; its greatest width

Sketch Map of Ceylon (embracing 299 miles by 233).


is 137 miles; and its area, including that of its dependent islands, amounts to 25,742 miles, or about one-sixth smaller than Ireland. In its general outline the island resembles a cone, the apex of which points towards the north.

The Coast.-—The coast is beset on the N.W. with number-less sandbanks, rocks, and shoals, and may be said to be almost connected with India by the island of Ramisseram and Adam's Bridge, a succession of bold rocks reaching almost across the gulf at its narrowest point. Between the island and the opposite coast there exist two open channels of varying depth and width, beset by rocks and shoals. One of these, the Mannar Passage, is only navigable by very small craft. The other, called the Paumben Passage, lying between Bamisseram and the mainland, has been deepened at considerable outlay, and is now used by vessels drawing ten feet of water, in passing from the Malabar to the Coromandel coast, which were formerly compelled in doing so to make the circuit of the island. The west and south coasts, which are uniformly low, are fringed their entire length by cocoa-nut trees, which grow to the water's edge in great luxuriance, and give to the island a most picturesque appearance. Along these shores there are numerous inlets and backwaters of the sea, some of which are available as harbours for small native craft. The east coast from Point de Galle to Trincomalee is of an entirely opposite character, wanting the ample vegetation of the other, and being at the same time of a bold precipitous character. The largest ship3 may freely approach this side of the island, provided they take care to avoid a few dangerous rocks, whose localities are, however, well known to navigators.

Seen from a distance at sea, this "utmost Indian isle" of the old geographers wears a truly beautiful appearance. The remarkable elevation known as "Adam's Peak," the most prominent, though not the loftiest, of the hilly ranges of the interior, towers like a mountain monarch amongst an assemblage of picturesque hills, and is a sure landmark for the weary navigator, when as yet the Colombo light-house is hidden from sight amidst the green groves of palms that seem to be springing from the waters of the ocean.

The low coast-line of country encircles the mountain-zone of the interior on the east, south, and west, form-ing a belt which extends inland to a varying distance of from 30 to 80 miles; but on the north the whole breadth of the island from Kalpitiya to Batticaloa is an almost unbroken plain, containing magnificent forests of great extent.

Mountains.—The mountain zone is towards the south of the island, and covers an area of about 4212 miles. The up-lifting force seems to have been exerted from south-west to north-east, and although there is much confusion in many of the intersecting ridges, and spurs of great size and extent are sent off in many directions, the lower ranges mani-fest a remarkable tendency to run in parallel ridges in a direction from south-east to north-west. Towards the north the off-sets of the mountain system radiate to short distances and speedily sink to the level of the plain. Detached hills are rare; the most celebrated of these are Mihintale, which overlooks the sacred city of Anuradha-pura, and Sigiri. The latter is the only example in Ceylon of those solitary acclivities which form so remark-able a feature in the table-land of the Deccan,—which, starting abruptly from the plain, with scarped and perpen-dicular sides, are frequently converted into strongholds accessible only by precipitous pathways or by steps hewn in the solid rock.

For a long period Adam's Beak was supposed to be the highest mountain in Ceylon, but actual survey makes it only 7352 feet above the sea-level. This elevation is chiefly remarkable as the resort of pilgrims from all parts of the East. The hollow in the lofty rock that crowns the summit is said by the Brahmans to be the footstep of Siva, by the Buddhists of Buddha, by the Mahometans of Adam, whilst the Portuguese Christians were divided between the conflicting claims of St Thomas and the eunuch of Candace queen of Ethiopia. The footstep is covered by a handsome roof, and is guarded by the priests of a rich monastery half way up the mountain, who main-tain a shrine on the summit of the peak. The highest mountains in Ceylon are Piduru Talagala, 8295 feet in altitude; Kirigalpota, 7836 feet; and Totapelakanda, 7746 feet.

The summits of the highest ridges are clothed with ver-dure, and along their base, in the beautiful valleys which intersect them in every direction, the slopes were till within the last few years covered with forests of gigantic and valuable trees, which have now disappeared under the axe of the planter, who has felled and burnt the timber on all the finest slopes at an elevation of 2000 to 4500 feet, and converted the hill sides into highly-cultivated coffee estates. The plain of Nuwara Eliya, the sanatorium of the island, is at an elevation of 6200 feet and possesses many of the attributes of an alpine country. The climate of the Horton plains, at an elevation of 7000 feet, is still finer than that of Nuwara Eliya, but they are difficult of access, and are but little known to Europeans. The town of Kandy, in the Central Province, formerly the capital of the native sovereigns of the interior, is situated 1727 feet above sea-level.

Rivers.—The island, though completely within the influ-ence of oceanic evaporation, and possessing an elevated table-land of considerable extent, does not boast of any rivers of great volume. The rains which usher in each monsoon or change of season are indeed heavy, and during their fall swell the streams to torrents and impetuous rivers. But when these cease the water-courses fall back to their original state, and there are but few of the rivers which cannot be passed on horseback. " In the plains there are comparatively few rivulets or running streams; the rivers there flow in almost solitary lines to the sea; and the beds of their minor affluents serve only to conduct to them the torrents which descend at the change of each monsoon, their channels at other times being exhausted and dry. But in their course through the hills and the broken ground at their base they are supplied by numerous feeders, which convey to them the frequent showers that fall in these high altitudes. Hence their tracks are through some of the noblest scenery in the world; rushing through ravines and glens, and falling over precipitous rocks in the depths of wooded valleys, they exhibit a succession of rapids, cataracts, and torrents, unsurpassed in magnificence and beauty. On reaching the plains, the boldness of their march and the graceful outline of their sweep are indicative of the little obstruction opposed by the sandy and porous soil through which they flow. Throughout their entire course dense forests shade their banks." The most important of the Ceylon rivers is the Mahaveli-ganga, which has its source in the Pidurutalagala mountain, whence it takes a tor-tuous course through the Kotmale valley to Pasbage, where it is joined by a smaller branch issuing from the base of Adam's Peak; it then passes through the village of Peradeniya, where it is crossed by the railway bridge, and by a beautiful bridge, of a single span of 205 feet, constructed of satin wood, on the American or wedge principle. Thence it winds to the west and north of Kandy, and after an easterly descent of nearly 1000 feet between Kandy and Bintenne, sweeps suddenly to the north, and takes its course through the wild and open country, separating into two branches,—the smaller of which, the Verukal, enters the sea about 25 miles south of Trincomalee, while the larger, retaining its original name, falls into the great bay of Kottiar, near the noble harbour of Trincomalee, after a course of nearly 200 miles. In flood-time it rises 25 or 30 feet, but for the greater part of the year it is fordable in many places. It is seldom wider than the Thames at Bichmond, and is generally of much less width. Surveys have shown that, at some outlay, this river might be made navigable for a distance of 80 or 90 miles from the sea. The upper half of its course is through a rocky and precipitous country, but the lower half is through a fine open region, well watered throughout the whole of the year, and only requiring capital and labour to convert it into the garden of Ceylon, which it once doubt-less was. The remains of stupendous dams and canals bear witness to the importance which the ancient rulers of Ceylon attached to this portion of their possessions. The Kelani-ganga rises at the base of Adam's Peak, whence, running first north and then almost due west to Buwanwella, it takes its way more southerly to Colombo, on the northern outskirt of which it falls into the sea across a wide sand-bank. It is navigable for about 40 miles by flat-bottomed boats. The Kalu-ganga and the Walawe-ganga (or Wal-oya) flow from the eastern base of Adam's Peak through the district of Sabaragamuwa to the sea, the former south, westerly, the latter south-easterly. Both are navigable by country boats for some distance,—the Kalu-ganga for up-wards of 50 miles, from above Batnapura to the sea at Kalutara, whence a canal connects it with Colombo. The Walawe ganga falls into the sea 8 miles to the west of Hambantota. The Mahaoya falls into the sea, after a westerly course of about 70 miles, to the north of Negombo, The other rivers, except during the heavy rains, are of no great size, and none of them are navigable.

Lakes and Canals.—There are in Ceylon some lakes of considerable extent and of great beauty. Those of Colombo, Bolgoda, and Negombo are of natural formation; those which have been formed by human labour will be noticed below in connection with irrigation. The rivers, as already explained, descend rapidly from the hills, and sweep along in their rapid course large quantities of earthy matter; at their junction with the ocean they are met " transversely by the gulf-streams, and the sand and soil with which they are laden, instead of being carried out to sea, are heaped up in bars along the shores, and then, augmented by similar deposits held in suspension by the currents, soon extend to north and south, and force the rivers to flow behind them in search of a new outlet." At the mouths of the rivers, the bars thus created generally follow the direction of the current, and long embankments are gradually raised, behind which the rivers flow for considerable distances before enter-ing the sea. Occasionally the embouchures become closed by the accumulations without, and the rivers, swollen by the rains, force new openings for themselves, and leave their ancient channels converted into lakes. Thus have been formed the lakes of Colombo and Negombo on the west coast, the harbour of Batticaloa on the east, and the long low embankments of sand on both coasts. These embankments, known by the local name of "Gobbs," and often from one to three miles in breadth, are covered with thriving cocoa-nut plantations.

The Dutch whilst in possession of Ceylon did much to improve its water communication, and connected the natural channels formed by these embankments by con-structing artificial canals, so as to provide unbroken water communication between Kalpitiya, on the N.W. coast, and Negombo; this line has been extended from Negombo to Colombo, and on to the south as far as Kalutara.

Harbours.—The magnificent basin of Trincomalee, sit-uated on the east coast of Ceylon, is perhaps unsurpassed in extent, security, and beauty by any haven in the world. The Admiralty has a dockyard here, and it is the principal naval station in the Indian Seas; but it is far removed from the productive districts, the population is small and scattered, and vessels have to resort to the rocky and dangerous harbour of Point de Galle at the south, or to the open roadstead of Colombo on the west. Something has been done by blasting to improve Galle harbour, but it is small, and its entrance is narrow and difficult; it is also somewhat remote from the most productive districts, and the Colonial Government has decided on making a break-water at Colombo in preference to improving Galle har-bour. The anchorage at Colombo is good, and it is antici-pated that the new works will render it a secure harbour at all times of the year.

Seasons, Climate, etc.—The seasons in Ceylon differ very slightly from those prevailing along the coasts of the Indian peninsula. The two distinctive monsoons of the year are called, from the winds which accompany them, the south-west and the north-east. The former is very regular in its approach, and may be looked for along the S.W. coast be-tween the 10th and 20th of May; the latter reaches the N.E. coast between the end of October and the middle of November. There is a striking contrast in the influence

which, the south-west monsoon exerts on the one side of the island and on the other. The clouds are driven against the lofty mountains that overhang the western and southern coasts, and their condensed vapours descend there in copious showers. But the rains do not reach the op-posite side of the island: whilst the south-west is deluged, the east and north are sometimes exhausted with dryness ; and it not unfrequently happens that different sides of the same mountain present at the same moment the opposite extremes of drought and moisture. The influence of the north-east monsoon is more general. The mountains which face the north-east are lower and more remote from the sea than those on the south-west; the clouds are carried further inland, and it rains simultaneously on both sides of the island. Owing to the efforts of Lieut.-Col. Fyers, B.E., the surveyor-general of Ceylon, very accurate meteorological observations have been recorded throughout Ceylon for the last few years, and the following table has been compiled from the official return of rainfall in Ceylon during the years 1870-1874 inclusive :—

== TABLE ==

This table shows that throughout Ceylon the greatest quantity of rain falls in the last three months of the year, though at high elevations and within the immediate influence of the highest mountains the rainfall in June is very great. At Colombo, on the west coast, the rainfall is 75 p70 inches, and the number of rainy days is 148 ; at Galle, at the south-west corner, the rainfall is nearly the same, viz., 75p31, but the number of rainy days is 195. At Ratna-pura, about 65 miles S.E. of Colombo, and lying immediately under Adam's Peak, the rainfall is 146 '26, and the rainy days 228. Jaffna is at the extreme north of the island ; Puttalam lies on a salt lake, behind a gobb, close to the west coast. Anuradhapura lies to the north-east of Puttalam, about 40 miles from the low hills at the north of the mountain zone. Trincomalee is on the east coast, almost due east of Anuradhapura. Badulla lies to the far east of the mountain zone, and, though at a higher elevation than Kandy, has a very small rainfall. The hill-station of Nuwara Eliya has a rainfall of 96 '66, and the coffee district of Kotmale, lying below the highest hills, has a rainfall of 164'22, and 182 rainy days. The returns for 1874 show that at four stations the rainfall in 24 hours exceeded five inches. The following table, compiled from the surveyor-general's returns, shows the temperature:—

== TABLE ==

The length of the day, owing to the proximity of the island to the equator, does not vary more than an hour at any season. The mean time of the rising of the sun's centre at Colombo on February 1st is 6 23m A.M., and of its setting 6h 5m P.M. On August 15th its rising is at gh 45m A.M., and its setting at 6h 7m P.M. It is mid-day in Colombo when it is morning in England. Colombo is situated in 79° 50' 45" E. long., and the day is further advanced there than at Greenwich by 5k 19m 23s.

Geology and Minerals.-—Ceylon may be said to have been for ages slowly rising from the sea, as appears from the terraces abounding in marine shells, which occur in situations far above high-water mark, and at some miles distance from the sea. A great portion of the north of the island may be regarded as the joint production of the coral polypi and the currents, which for the greater part of the year set impetuously towards the south; coming laden with alluvial matter collected along the coast of Coro-mandel, and meeting with obstacles south of Foint Cali-mere, they have deposited their burdens on the coral reefs round Point Bedro; and these, raised above the sea-level, and covered deeply by sand drifts, have formed the penin-sula of Jaffna, and the plains that trend westward till they unite with the narrow causeway of Adam's Bridge. The Tertiary rocks are almost unknown. The great geologicol feature of the island is the profusion of gneiss, overlaid in many places in the interior by extensive beds of dolo-mitic limestone. This formation appears to be of great thickness ; and when, as is not often the case, the under-sur-face of the gneiss series is exposed, it is invariably found resting on granite. Veins of pure quartz and felspar of considerable extent have been frequently met with in the gneiss; whilst in the elevated lands of the interior in the Galle districts may be seen copious deposits of disinte-grated felspar, or kaolin, commonly known as porcelain clay. At various elevations the gneiss may be found intersected by veins of trap rocks, upheaved whilst in a state of fusion subsequent to the consolidation of the former. In some localities on the sea-shore these veins assume the character of pitch-stone porphyry highly im-pregnated with iron. Hornblende and primitive green-stone are found in the vicinity of Adam's Peak and in the Pussellava district.

Laterite, known in Ceylon as cabooh, a product of disintegrated gneiss, exists in vast quantities in many parts, and is quarried for building purposes.

As yet no traces of coal have been found, with the exception of a little anthracite ; but looking to the position of the carboniferous deposits of northern India, lying as they do on the gneiss formation, it is not impossible that similar deposits may be here met with in like positions.

Specimens of tin, platina, copper, and black oxide of manganese from the southern province have been placed in the museum of the Ceylon Asiatic Society. Quicksilver mines existed at one time in the vicinity of Colombo, and the Dutch are said to have exported the article to Europe. Plumbago is quarried to a great extent, and has for a series of years formed a considerable item in the exports of the island. In 1850 the shipments of this article amounted to 23,823 cwts., in 1860 to 75,000 cwts., and in 1874 to 150,000 cwts. Iron exists in vast quantities in the western, southern, and central provinces, of excellent quality, in many places cropping out at the surface in a state of great purity. The Sinhalese have been accus-tomed to work the ore into tools and implements from the most remote times ; and although the means they employ are rude, imperfect, and wasteful in the extreme, they nevertheless manufacture articles wdiich are esteemed by them far above those imported from Europe, and the rudely worked Sinhalese iron is equal in temper to the finest Swedish metal.

Nitre and nitrate of lime are to be met with in many caves of the low country, whilst alum and sulphate of magnesia are known to exist, though in limited quantities. Natural deposits of common salt are found in many parts of the maritime provinces. It is also produced by arti-ficial means in large quantities under the supervision of Government, in whose hands its manufacture and sale form a monopoly which yields an annual revenue of con-siderable amount. In 1873 the sale of this article yielded £80,000.

In the Sabaragamuwa district precious stones are met with in great abundance; also, though less commonly, in the Badulla, Nuwara Eliya, and Matara districts. The most valuable are the ruby, the sapphire, the amethyst, the cat's-eye, and the carbuncle. Emeralds are rarely met with in any purity; but the moon-stone, cinnamon stones, and garnets are found in great abundance and variety.

Soil.—The natural soils of Ceylon are composed of quartzose gravel, felspathic clay, and sand often of a pure white, blended with or overlaid by brown and red loams, re-sulting from the decay of vegetable matter, or the disintegra-tion of the gneiss and hornblende formations. The whole of the great northern extremity of the island consists of a sandy and calcareous admixture, made to yield productive crops of grain, tobacco, cotton, and vegetables by the care-ful industry of the Tamil population, who spare no pains in irrigating and manuring their lands. Between the northern districts and the elevated mountain ranges which overlook the Bintenne and Uva countries are extensive plains of alluvial soil washed down from the table-lands above, where once a teeming population produced large quantities of grain. The remains of ancient works of irrigation bear testimony to the bygone agriculture of these extensive regions now covered by swamps or dense jungle.

The general character of the soil in the maritime pro-vinces to the east, south, and west is sandy. Large tracts of quartzose sand spread along the whole line of sea-coast, some of which, of a pure white, and very deficient in vegetable matter, is admirably adapted to the growth of the cinnamon plant. In the light sandy districts, where the soil is perfectly free, and contains a portion of veget-able and mineral loam, the cocoa-nut palm flourishes in great luxuriance. This is the case along the entire coast line from Kalpitiya to Boint de Galle, and further east-ward and northward to Matara, stretching to a distance inland varying from 100 yards to 3 miles. From this light sandy belt as far as the mountain-zone of the Kandyan country the land is mainly composed of low hilly undula-tions of sandstone and ferruginous clay, incapable of almost any cultivation, but intersected in every direction with extensive valleys and wide plains of a more generous soil, not highly fertile, but still capable, with a little industry, of yielding ample crops of rice.

The soil of the central province, although frequently containing great quantities of quartzose sand and ferrugi-nous clay, is in many of the more elevated districts of a fine loamy character. Sand sufficiently vegetable and light for rice culture may be seen at all elevations in the hill districts; but the fine chocolate and brown loams overlying gneiss or limestone formations, so admirably adapted for coffee cultivation, are only to be found on the steep sides or along the base of mountain ranges at an elevation varying from 2000 to 4000 feet. Such land well-timbered contains in its elements the decomposed particles of the rocks above, blended with the decayed vegetable matter of forests that have for centuries scattered beneath them the germs of fertility. The quantity of really rich coffee land in these districts is but small as compared with the extent of country,—vast tracts of open valleys consisting of an indifferent yellow tenacious soil interspersed with many low ranges of quartz rock.

Botany.—The characteristics of the low-growing plants of Ceylon approach nearly to those of the coasts of southern India. The Rhizophorea; are numerous along the low muddy shores of salt lakes and stagnant pools; and the acacias are equally abundant. The list comprises JEgiceras fra-grans, Mpithinia malayana, Thespesia populnea, Feronia elephantum, Salvadora persica (the true mustard tree of Scripture), Eugenia, bracteata, Elatodendron Roxburghii, Cassia Fistula, Cassia Roxburghii, &c. The herbaceous plants of the low country belong mostly to the natural orders Compositor, Leguminosw, Rubiacece, Scrophulariacece, and Euphorbiaceas.

Leaving the plains of the maritime country and ascend-ing a height of 4000 feet in the central districts, we find both herbage and trees assume an altered character. The foliage of the latter is larger and deeper coloured, and they attain a height unknown in the hot low country. The herbaceous vegetation is there made up of ferns, Cyr-tandrea, Composite, Scitaminece, and Urtieacece. The dense masses of lofty forest at that altitude are interspersed with large open tracts of coarse wiry grass, called by the natives patanas, and of value to them as affording pas-turage for their cattle.

Between the altitudes of 4000 and 8000 feet, many plants are to be met with partaking of European forms, yet blended with tropical characteristics. The guelder rose, St John's wort, the Nepenthes distillatoria or pitcher plant, violets, geraniums, buttercups, sun-dews, ladies' mantles, and campanulas thrive by the side of Magno-liaceo3, Ranunculacece, Elmoearpew, &c. The most beauti-ful flowering shrub of this truly alpine region is the rhododendron, which in many instances grows to the height of 70 feet. It is met with in great abundance in the moist plains of the elevated land above Nuwara Eliya, flowering abundantly in June and July. There are two distinct varieties, one similar to the Nilgiri plant, having its leaves broad and cordate, and of a rusty colour on the under side; the other, peculiar to Ceylon, is found only in forests at the loftiest elevations; it has narrow rounded leaves, silvery on the under side, and grows to enormous heights, frequently measuring three feet round the stem. At these altitudes English flowers, herbs, and vegetables have been cultivated with perfect success, as also wheat, oats, and barley. English fruit-trees grow, but rarely bear. Grapes are grown successfully in the north of the island. The vines were introduced by the Dutch, who overcame the difficulty of perpetual summer by exposing the roots, and thus giving the plants an artificial winter.

Timber.—The timber trees indigenous to Ceylon are met with at every altitude from the sea-beach to the loftiest moun-tain peak. They vary much in their hardiness and dura-bility, from the common cashew-nut tree, which when felled decays in a month, to the ebony and satinwood, which for many years resist the attacks of insects and climate. The known woods amount to 416 varieties, of which 33 are valuable for furniture, and house and shipbuilding, and are capable of standing long exposure to weather. The most beautiful woods adapted to furniture work are the cala-mander, ebony, flowered-satinwood, tamarind, nedun, dell, kadomberiya, kitul, cocoa-nut, &c.; the sack-yielding tree (Antiaris saccidora), for a long time confounded with the far-famed upas tree of Java (Antiaris toxicaria), grows in the Kurunegala district of the island.

Palms.—The Cocos nucífera, or cocoa-nut palm, is a native of the island, and may justly be considered the most valuable of its trees. It grows in vast abundance along the entire sea-coast of the west and south sides of the island, and furnishes almost all that a Sinhalese villager requires. Its fruit, when green, supplies food and drink; when ripe, it yields oil. The juice of the unopened flower gives him toddy and arrack. The fibrous casing of the fruit when woven makes him ropes, nets, matting. The nut-shells form drinking-vessels, spoons, &c. The plaited leaves serve as plates and dishes, and as thatch for his cottage. The dried leaves are used as torches, the large leaf-stalks as garden fences. The trunk of the tree sawn up is employed for every possible purpose, from knife-handles to door-posts; hollowed out it forms alike a canoe or coffin. There are four kinds of this palm,—the common, the king, the dwarf, and the Maldive.

The Palmyra and Areca palms grow luxuriantly and abundantly, the former in the northern, the latter in the western and central districts. The one is valuable chiefly for its timber, of which large quantities are exported to the Indian coasts; the other supplies the betel-nut in common use amongst natives of the eastern tropics as a masticatory. The export trade in the latter to India and eastern ports is very considerable, amounting to £70,000 a year in value.

Cinnamon.—Next in importance to the cocoa-nut palm amongst the indigenous products of Ceylon is the cinna-mon plant, yielding the well-known spice of that name.

Animals.—Foremost among the animals of Ceylon is the elephant, which, though far inferior to those of Africa and the Indian continent, is nevertheless of considerable value when tamed, on account of its strength, sagacity, and docility. They are to be met with in greater or less numbers throughout most unfrequented parts of the interior. Occasionally they make inroads in herds upon the culti-vated grounds and plantations, committing great damage. In order to protect these lands, and at the same time keep up the Government stud of draught elephants, " kraals" or traps on a large scale are erected in the forests, into which the wild herds are driven; and once secured, they are soon tamed and fit for service. The oxen are of small size, but hardy, and capable of drawing heavy loads. Buffaloes exist in great numbers throughout the interior, where they are employed in a half-tame state for plough-ing rice-fields and treading out the corn. They feed upon any coarse grass, and can therefore be maintained on the village pasture lands where oxen would not find support. Of deer, Ceylon possesses the spotted kind (Axis maculata), the muntjac (Stylocerus muntjac), a red deer (the Sambur of India), popularly called the Ceylon elk (Musa Aristotelis), and the small musk (Moschus meminna). There are five species of monkeys, one the small rilawa (Maca.cus pileatus), and four known in Ceylon by the name of " wandaru" (Presbytes ursinus, P. Thersites, P. cephalopterus, P. Pria-mus), and the small quadrumanous animal, the loris (Loris gracilis), known as the " Ceylon sloth." Of the Cheiroptera sixteen species have been identified; amongst them is the rousette or flying fox (Pteropus Edwardsii). Of the Carni-vora the only one dangerous to man is the small black bear (Prochilus labiatus). The tiger is not known in Ceylon, but the true panther (Felis pardus) is common, as is the jackal (Canis aureus) and the mongoos or ichneumon (Herpestes vitticollis). Rats are numerous, as are the squirrel and the porcupine, and the pig-rat or bandicoot (Mus bandicota), while the scaly ant-eater (Manis pentedactyla), locally known by the Malay name of pengolin, is occasionally found. The dugong (Halicore dugong) is frequently seen on various points of the coast.





Birds.—Upwards of 320 species of birds have been found in Ceylon, and many of them have splendid plumage, but in this respect they are surpassed by the birds of South America and Northern India. The eagles are small and rare, but hawks and owls are numerous ; among the latter is a remarkable brown species, the cry of which has earned for it the name of the " devil-bird." The esculent swift, which furnishes in its edible nest the celebrated Chinese dainty, builds in caves in Ceylon. Crows of various species are numerous, and in the wilder parts pea-fowl are abundant. There are also to be men-tioned king-fishers, sun-birds, several beautiful fly-catchers and snatchers, the golden oriole, parroquets, and numerous pigeons, of which there are at least a dozen species. The Cey-lon jungle-fowl (Gallus Lafayetti) is distinct from the Indian species. Ceylon is singularly rich in wading and water birds.—ibises, storks, egrets, spoonbills, and herons being frequently seen on the wet sands, while flamingoes line the beach in long files, and on the deeper waters inland are found teal and a countless variety of ducks and smaller fowl. Of the birds familiar to European sportsmen there are partridge, quail, and snipe in abundance, and the wood-cock has been seen.

Reptiles.—The poisonous snakes of Ceylon are not nume-rous. Four species have been enumerated,—the ticpolonga (Daboia elegans), the cobra di capello (Naja tripudians), the carawilla (Trigonocephalus hypnale), and the Trigono-cephalies nigromarginatus, which is so rare that it has no popular name. The largest snake in Ceylon is the "boa," or "anaconda" of Eastern story (Python reticulatus); it is from 20 to 30 feet in length, and preys on hog-deer and other smaller animals. Crocodiles infest the rivers and estuaries, and the large fresh-water reservoirs which supply the rice-fields ; there are two species (C. biporcatus and C. palus-tris). Of lizards the most note-worthy are the iguana, several bloodsuckers, the chameleon, and the familiar geckoes, which are furnished with pads to each toe, by which they are enabled to ascend perpendicular walls and adhere to glass and ceilings.
Insects.—Insects exist in great numbers. The leaf and stick insects are of great variety and beauty. Ceylon has four species of the ant-lion, renowned for the predaceous ingenuity of its larvae; and the white ants or termites, the ravages of which are most destructive, are at once ubiquitous and innumerable in every place where the climate is not too chilly, or the soil too sandy for them to construct their domed dwellings. They make their way through walls and floors, and in a few hours destroy every vegetable substance within their reach. Of all the insect pests that beset an unseasoned European the most annoying are the mosquitoes. Ticks are also an intolerable nuisance ; they are exceedingly minute, and burrow under the skin. In the lower ranges of the hill country land leeches are found in tormenting profusion
Fishes. —Of the fish in ordinary use for the table the finest is the seir, a species of scomber (Cybium guttatum). Mackerel, dories, carp, whitings, mullet (red and striped), soles, and sardines are abundant. Sharks appear on all parts of the coast, and the huge saw fish (Pristis antiquorum) infests the eastern coast of the island, where it attains a length of from 12 to 15 feet. There are also several fishes remarkable for the brilliancy of their colouring; e.g., the Eed sea perch (Holocentrum rubrum), of the deepest scarlet, and the great fire fish (Scorpcena miles), of a brilliant red. Some are purple, others yellow, and numbers with scales of a lustrous green are called "parrots" by the natives; of these one (Sparus Hardwickii) is called the " flower parrot," from its exquisite colouring—irregular bands of blue, crimson, and purple, green, yellow and grey, crossed by perpendicular stripes of black.

Pearl Fishery.—Pearl oysters are found in the Tambala-gam bay, near Trincomalee, but the great banks on which these oysters are usually found lie near Arippu, off the northern part of the west coast of Ceylon, at a distance of from 16 to 20 miles from the shore. They extend for many miles north and south, varying considerably in their size and productiveness. A naturalist was recently employed by the Government for five years to study the habits of the pearl oysters, but no information of any value has been obtained. It is, however, generally believed that the oyster arrives at maturity in its seventh year, that the pearl is then of full size and perfect lustre, and that if the oyster be not then secured it will shortly die, and the pearl be lost It is certain that from some unexplained cause the oysters disappear from their known beds for years together. The Dutch had no fishery from 1732 to 1746, and it failed them again for 27 years from 1768 to 1796. The fishery was again interrupted between 1820 and 1828, also from 1833 to 1854, and from 1864 to 1873. In 1797 and 1798 the Government sold the privilege of fishing the oyster-beds for £123,982 and £142,780 respectively. Since that time the fishery has been conducted by the Government itself, which sells the oysters in heaps of 1000 as they are landed from the boats. Under this system, however, receipts have not exceeded £87,000 in any year, and have fallen as low as £7200, which was the net revenue from the fishery of 1874. The fishery immediately preceding (that of 1863) yielded a net revenue of £46,000. The small oyster found at Tambalagam is the Placuna placenta; the pearl-oyster of the Arippu banks is the Meleagrina margaritifera.
History.—The island of Ceylon was known to the Greeks and Eomans under the name of Taprobane, and in later times Serendib, Sirinduil, and Zeylan have been employed to designate it by writers of the Western and Eastern Worlds. Serendib is a corruption of the Sanskrit Sinhaladvlpa. Like most Oriental countries, Ceylon possesses a great mass of antiquarian records, in which the real is so intimately and largely blended with the ideal that the student finds it difficult to determine the respective limits of history and fable. The labours of Turnour have, however, helped to dissipate much of what was before confused and con-tradictory, and in his admirable translation of the " Maha-wanso"' we may trace the true current of Sinhalese history.

Of the first colonization of Ceylon but little is known. In the great Hindu epic, the Eamayana, we have the fable of the conquest of a part of Ceylon by the hero Eama and his followers, who, as the poem tells, besieged and took the capital of its king Eawana. No permanent occupation of the country took place at this time, nor until the advent, in 543 B.C., of Vijaya an Indian prince, who, arriving from the mainland with a small band of followers, succeeded in establishing himself as sole ruler of the country. To this king is attributed the introduction of caste into Ceylon, an institution which, although far less rigorously observed than on the continent, is still maintained.

Under him and his successors Ceylon attained a degree of civilization scarcely to be looked for in that remote age of Oriental despotism. The purity of the religious and moral code, the strict administration of justice, and the well-defined and carefully protected rights of the king and his many classes of subjects excite our admiration not less than our astonishment. It is impossible, however, to follow the subsequent current of Sinhalese history through its many intricate windings. It must suffice to say that the descendants of Vijaya the conqueror continued to hold the reins of government with varied ability and unequal success. Some of them were distinguished for their learning, their military prowess, their benevolence, and the length of their reigns. Others lived amidst civil dissensions and foreign invasions, which not unfrequently cost them their lives. The incursions of the Malabars upon their territories were not less frequent and fatal than those of the Danes in Britain. During a period of four or five centuries, these marauders continued to pour their bands of armed men into the island; and so far had the country fallen off from its ancient prosperity and strength that when, in the year 1505, the Portuguese adventurer Almeida landed at Colombo, he found the island divided into seven separate kingdoms.

The first settlement of the Portuguese was effected in 1517, when Albergaria succeeded in obtaining permission from the king of Kotta, whose territories closely adjoined Colombo, to erect a small factory on the latter spot for purposes of trade. Once established, the new-comers lost no opportunity of strengthening their position and extend-ing their intercourse with the natives. Stone walls quickly took the place of palisades; the factory became a fort; whilst bristling cannon commanded alike the approaches by land and the entrance by sea. Alarmed at these unequivocal signs of military possession, the Sin-halese kings attempted to expel their new friends from the island, in which they were joined by the Moorish and other traders opposed to the progress of the Portuguese. But their efforts were too late, and proved ineffectual; and after a series of unequal and sanguinary conflicts, the Europeans found themselves in secure possession of the west coast of Ceylon.

The fanatical zeal and remorseless cruelty of the Portuguese were a constant source of dissension with the natives; and when, in the year 1602, the Dutch, under Admiral Spilberg, landed on the east coast and sought the alliance of the king of Kandy in the interior of the island, every encouragement was held out to them with the view of inducing them to aid in expelling the Portuguese. Nothing seems to have come of this until 1638-9, when a Dutch expedition attacked and razed the Portuguese forts on the east coast. In the following year they landed at Negombo, without, however, establishing themselves in any strong post. In 1644 Negombo was captured and fortified by the Dutch, while in 1656 they took Colombo, and in 1658 they drove the Portuguese from Jaffna, their last stronghold in Ceylon.
Pursuing a wiser policy than their predecessors, the Dutch, lost no opportunity of improving that portion of the country which owned their supremacy, and of opening a trade with the interior. More tolerant and less ambitious of military renown than the Portuguese, they so far succeeded in their object as to render their commerce between this island and Holland a source of great profit. Many new branches of industry were developed. Public works were undertaken on a large scale, and education, if not universally placed within the reach of the inhabitants of the maritime provinces, was at least well cared for on a broad plan of Government supervision.

That which they had so much improved by policy they were, however, unable to defend by force when the British turned their arms against them. A century and a half had wrought great changes in the physical and mental status of the Dutch colonists. The territory which in 1658 they had slowly gained by undaunted and obstinate bravery, they as rapidly lost in 1796 by imbecility and cowardice.

The first intercourse of the English with Ceylon took place as far back as 1763, when an embassy was despatched from Madras to the king of Kandy, without, however, leading to any result. On the rupture between Great Britain and Holland in 1795, a force was sent against the Dutch possessions in Ceylon, where the opposition offered was so slight that by the following year the whole of their forts were in the hands of the English com-mander.
At first the island was placed under the care of the East India Company, but in 1802 the whole seaboard of Ceylon became, by the treaty of Amiens, a possession of the British Crown. The central tract of hilly country, hedged in by impenetrable forests and precipitous moun-tain ranges, remained in possession of Wikrama Sinha, the last of the Malabar dynasty of kings, who showed no signs of encouraging communication with his European neighbours.

Minor differences led in 1803 to an invasion of the Kandyan territory; but sickness, desertion, and fatigue proved more formidable adversaries to the British forces than the troops of the Sinhalese monarch, and peace was eventually concluded upon terms by no means favourable to the English. The cruelty and oppression of the king now became so intolerable to his subjects that disaffection spread rapidly amongst them. Executions of the most horrible kinds were perpetrated. The utmost stretch of despotism failed to repress the popular indignation; and in 1815 the British, at the urgent request of many of the Adigars and other native chiefs, proceeded against the tyrant, who was captured near Kandy, and subsequently ended his days in exile. With him ended a long line of sovereigns, whose pedigree may be traced through upwards of two thousand years.

By a convention entered into with the Kandyan chiefs on the 2d of March 1815, the entire sovereignty of the island passed into the hands of the British, who in return guaranteed to the inhabitants civil and religious liberty. The religion of Buddha was declared inviolable, and its rights, ministers, and places of worship were to be main-tained and protected; the laws of the country were to be preserved and administered according to established forms ; and the royal dues and revenues were to be levied as before for the support of Government.
With the exception of a serious outbreak in some parts of the interior in 1817, which lasted for upwards of a year, and of two minor attempts at rebellion easily put down, in 1843 and 1848, the political atmosphere of Ceylon has remained undisturbed since the deportation of the last king of Kandy.

Population.—The total population of Ceylon, as ascertained by the census of March 1871, is given as 2,406,262. Its distribution according to Brovinces is as follows:—

== TABLE ==

The principal towns with these populations are— Colombo 95,843, GaUe 47,059, and Jaffna 34,864. The distribution according to race is as follows :
Sinhalese 1,670,207
Tamils 540,685
Arab descendants 163,516
Malays 7,952
Other Asiatics, Kafirs, &c 3,835
European descendants and half-castes... 14,181
Europeans 5,886
Total 2,406,262

Government.—Ceylon is a Crown colony, that is, a possession of the British Crown acquired by conquest oi cession, the affairs of which are administered by a governor, who receives his appointment from the Crown, generally for a term of six years. He is assisted by an executive and a legislative council. The executive council acts as the cabinet of the governor, and consists of the Queen's advocate, the three principal officers of the colony (namely, the colonial secretary, the treasurer, and the auditor-general), and the general in command of the forces. The legislative council, in addition to the members of the executive, includes the two principal civil officers of the western and central provinces, the surveyor-general, the collector of customs, and six unofficial members nominated by the governor, who generally selects three to represent the planting and mercantile community, and three to represent the Sinhalese, Tamil, and Eurasian inhabitants; the governor presides and has a casting vote, if the numbers are equal, in addition to his original vote. There are thus nine official members and six unofficial. The powers of the governor constitute a "paternal despotism," controlled, only by the distant authority of the Crown, as exercised through the secretary of state for the colonies. The functions of his councils are consultative; the adop-tion or rejection of their recommendations rests exclusively with himself. The executive council is the body by whose advice all Government measures are originally framed preparatory to their submission to the legislative council, by whom they are finally discussed with all the forms of parliamentary debate ; still the paramount authority of the governor can overrule their delibera-tions, and their labours may be nullified by his withholding his assent, which is necessary to give an enactment the force of law pending its allowance or disallowance by the Crown. All legisla-tive enactments must be published in the local gazette for three weeks before they can be finally adopted by the legislature. A certain portion of the colonial expenditure is covered by permanent ordinances, which provide for the fixed establishments of the colony, the contribution towards the military defence of the colony, and the payment of interest and sinking fund on account of loans. All other expenditure has to be covered by an annual vote of the legislative council. The administration is carried on by a civil service, organized on the model of the great institution by which our Indian empire has been formed. It is recruited by members selected by competition from a limited number of candidates nomi-nated by the secretary of state and the governor of Ceylon. The selected candidates are carefully trained in the colonial office at Whitehall and in the public offices in Ceylon, and are also required to pass an examination in the native languages before being em-ployed in any responsible office. For this highly-trained body the more dmportant civil appointments in Ceylon, including many of the judicial appointments, are reserved. The old routine system of rising by seniority was abolished by the order of the earl of Derby in 1845, and 'merit instead of seniority is professedly now the basis of promotion. The island is divided into seven provinces, each having its chief and assistant agents, who carry on the affairs of the province under the direct authority of the Government. The agents of Government are the sole means of communication between the Government and the native inhabitants of the island ; it is their duty to ascertain the real feelings of the people in refer-ence to any Government measure the expediency of which may be doubtful, and to keep them thoroughly acquainted with any change in the law, and also to bring before the Government the wants of the people, and to obtain early information of any disaffection or fear of a rising of the people. They have consequently very delicate and important duties to perform in relation to the native chiefs and nobles. They have also to collect, through their subordinates, all the revenue not derived from customs duties, to see that the public buildings and highways are kept in proper order, and generally to see to the welfare of the province. The provinces are divided into districts under an assistant agent, and the districts are parcelled out into smaller divisions under native chiefs and headnlen of various ranks,—called in the Kandyan country Ratemahatmayas, Koralas, and Arachehies ; in the maritime Sinhalese provinces Mudaliyas, Muhandirams, and Vidanas ; in the Tamil provinces Tanniyas, Udaiyars, and Vidanas. The Kandyan provinces are the central, north-central, and parts of the western and north-western ; the maritime or low-country Sinhalese provinces are the southern and parts of the western and north-western ; the Tamil provinces are the northern and eastern.

Justice.—The administration of justice is conducted by a Supreme Court, consisting of a chief justice and two puisne judges ; by dis-trict judges, police magistrates, justices of the peace, and commis-sioners of Courts of Request. There are a Queen's advocate and a deputy Queen's advocate for the island. These officers correspond to the attorney-general and solicitor-general in England. They are the law officers of the Government, and are bound to give their advice on any case submitted for their opinion, and to appear for the Crown in all civil suits. The Queen's advocate also has to discharge the duties of public prosecutor, to supervise the proceed-ings of the justices of the peace, and to conduct the prosecution in all cases before the Supreme Court and in all serious cases before the District Courts. The Queen's advocate is assisted by provincial deputies, who are the legal advisers of the agents of Government in charge of the provinces.

The Supreme Court has original criminal jurisdiction in all cases. It usually tries only cases ordinarily punished with more than one year's imprisonment; in all criminal cases it has the assistance of a jury. It goes on circuit twice a year for criminal cases. It has appellate jurisdiction, civil and criminal, over all the subordinate courts in the island, and the power to issue writs of mandamus and habeas corpus. The District Courts have criminal jurisdiction in cases ordinarily punishable by twelve months' imprisonment with or without hard labour, by a fine of £100 or, more strictly, 1000 rupees, or by 50 lashes, or by imprisonment and fine, or by imprison-ment and lashes within the specified limits. They have original civil jurisdiction in all eases, whether affecting land or not, in lunacy, in testamentary and matrimonial cases, and in administer-ing the estates of minors and intestates. They have long exercised the combined powers of the Court of Chancery and the Courts of Law which have been only recently conferred by the Judicature Acts on the Supreme Court of Judicature in England. The District Courts have no jury, but they have the power, which, however, is rarely exercised, of summoning assessors to their assistance. The police courts have jurisdiction in cases ordinarily punishable by imprison-ment with or without hard labour for three months, by a fine of £5 or 50 rupees, or by twenty lashes, or by imprisonment and fine, or by imprisonment and lashes within the specified limits. The Courts of Requests have jurisdiction in civil cases where the matter in dispute is not of greater value than £10. The pleadings in all the courts are in English, but the proceedings are conducted in the language of the district unless both parties are English. The evi-dence is interpreted and recorded in English.

Village Tribunals.—In ancient times all petty disputes were settled by the village elders, who formed the village council or gamsabawa. When the island fell under European control these native customs were rudely swept away, and courts were established which were to administer justice equally to all. In course of time it was found that these courts were in reality highly oppressive to the people, who are of a litigious disposition, by bringing parties and witnesses away from their homes for the settlement of every petty case and involving them in costs for stamps and legal assistance, the costs often being tenfold the value of the matter in dispute. It was also found that the ancient customs by which each shareholder in arable land was compelled to take his proper share in the common work, such as fencing, repairing the dams of the reservoirn for irrigation, and the like, had gradually fallen into disuse under British rule. It was consequently determined by Sir Hercules Robinson, then governor of Ceylon, to revive the ancient system, and by the "Village Communities Ordinance, 1871," power was given to every village or group of villages to frame rules, having the force of law, for the management of village affairs, and to form village tribunals on the ancient model for the settlement of all petty cases, such as petty assaults and the like, punishable by a small fine, and all civil cases of £2 and under. These tribunals are presided over by a native of rank and experience. The experiment has proved a suc-cess beyond the expectation of its original advocates. The relief to the people in getting their small disputes settled on the spot by their own elders is very great, and the revival of the ancient village customs is leading to the general restoration of the village tanks and other irrigation works, which were rapidly falling into decay from the failure of the Government to enforce the ancient rules for their preservation.

Laws.—In the maritime provinces ceded to Great Britain by the peace of Amiens the Roman-Dutch law prevails; in the Kandyan provinces the Kandyan law is administered under the convention of 1815. The Mahometans have their own laws of marriage and succession. The English law of evidence, trial by jury in the more serious criminal cases, and the English mercantile law have been introduced by local enactments. The Roman-Dutch law applies where no other system of law specially applies. Cases frequently occur in which it is a matter of the utmost difficulty to determine by which system of law they are to be decided, and it is a matter for surprise that no attempt has been made to codify the Ceylon laws, or at least to adapt to the not very different circumstances of Ceylon the admirable civil and criminal codes, and the regulations of procedure, which have been given to India by the able men who have followed Lord Macaulay in the great task of regulating the administration of justice in India.

Language.—The language of nearly 70 per cent, of the population is Sinhalese; of the remaining 30 per cent., with the exception of about 6000 Europeans and about 14,000 of European descent, the language is Tamil. Sinhalese is an Aryan language, nearly allied to Pali, which is the sacred language of Buddhism. Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken by those of Arab descent and by the Tamils, who are natives of the northern and eastern provinces, as well as by the Tamil immigrants from Southern India. A corrupt form of Portuguese is spoken by some natives of European descent. The Vaddas, a small forest tribe, speak a distinct language, and the Bodiyas, an outcast tribe, possess a large vocabulary of their own. Pali is one of the Prakrits of ancient India, " which was spoken in the sixth century before Christ, and has been a dead language for upwards of two thousand years." It was the dialect of Magadha, or Southern Behar, and was'the language in which Gautama Buddha preached. " Originally a mere provincial dialect, it was raised by the genius of the great reformer to the dignity of a classic language. It stands to Sanskrit in the relation of a younger sister; Pali and Sanskrit, though intimately con-nected, being independent corruptions of the lost Aryan speech which is their common parent."

Literature.—The Sinhalese possess several original poems of some merit, and an extensive and most interest-ing series of native chronicles, but their most valuable literature is written in Pali, though the greater portion of it has been translated into Sinhalese, and is test known to the people through these Sinhalese translations. The Pali literature is of great extent; it comprises—(1.) The Buddhist Scriptures, called the Tripitaka, estimated in extent at eleven times that of our own Bible, and dating from 309 B.C.; (2.) The commentaries of Buddhaghosha, which date from the 5th century A.D.; and (3.) Historical, grammatical, and other works, of various dates from the 2d or 3d century to the present day, of which the most important are the two histories Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa, the discovery of which made the name of George Tumour illustrious, for in them we find the only authentic sources for the history of India previous to the Christian era. The treasures of the Pali literature are gradually being opened up to European scholars ; foremost amongst those who have sought to raise Pali scholarship to a science are a Frenchman and a Dane. Burnouf has left behind him the important works—Introduction á l'Histoire du Bouddhisme and Le Lotus de la Bonne Loi; and Fausboll is now editing the text of the entire Jataha, or History of the Births of Buddha. This work is being translated by an Englishman, Professor Childers, whose valuable diction-ary is an immense boon to the Pali student.

Religions.—The census of 1871 gives the following figures :—

Buddhists 1,520,575 I Mahometans 171,542
Hindus 465,944 | Christians 240,042





Of the Christians, about 186,000 are Roman Catholics, and 54,000 are Protestants of various denominations; and it is estimated that about 150,000 of them are Sinhalese, 72,000 Tamils, and 18,000 Europeans and Eurasians. The Mahometans are the descendants of Arabs (locally termed Moormen) and the Malays. The Tamils, both the inhabitants of the island and the immigrants from India, are Hindus, with the exception of the 72,000 Christians. The Sinhalese, numbering 70 per cent, of the whole population, are, with the exception of 150,000 Christians, Buddhists. Ceylon may properly be called a Buddhist country, and it is here that Buddhism is found almost in its pristine purity. Ceylon was converted to Buddhism about 300 years B.C. by the great Augustine of Buddhism, Mahinda, son of the Indian king Dhammasoka ; and the extensive ruins throughout Ceylon, especially in the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, bear witness to the sacrifices which kings and people joined in making to create lasting monuments of their faith. Under European rule royal support is no longer given to it, but its pure and simple doctrines live in the hearts of the people, and are the noblest monument to the memory of its founder Gautama Buddha. The taking of the meanest life is strictly forbidden, and falsehood, intem-perance, dishonesty, anger, pride, and covetousness are denounced as incompatible with Buddhism, which enjoins the practice of chastity, gratitude, contentment, modera-tion, forgiveness of injuries, patience, and cheerfulness. The Buddhist priests are sworn to celibacy, and are regu-larly ordained. They are required to meet at convenient places every fourteen days for mutual confession. The Buddhist Temples in the Kandyan country possess valuable lands, the greater portion of which is held by here-ditary tenants on the tenure of service. These lands were given out with much care to provide for all that was necessary to maintain the temple and its connected monastery. Some tenants had to do the blacksmiths' work, others the carpenters', while another set of tenants had to cultivate the land reserved for supplying the mon-astery; others again had to attend at the festivals, and prepare decorations, and carry lamps and banners. In course of time difficulties arose; the English courts were averse to a system under which the rent of lands was paid by hereditary service, and a commission was issued by the governor, Sir Hercules Bobinson, to deal with the whole question, to define the services and to enable the tenants to commute these for a money payment. The result of the inquiry was to show that the services, except in a few instances, were not onerous, and that almost without an exception the tenants were willing to continue the system. The Government maintains an ecclesiastical estab-lishment consisting, for the Church of England, of a bishop, whose see is Colombo, an archdeacon, four principal chap-lains, and several junior chaplains ; and, for the Church of Scotland, of four principal chaplains. The total cost of this establishment is about £14,000 a year. Various missionary bodies have established themselves in Ceylon.
Caste.—Caste exists among the Sinhalese as a conven-tional and social, not as a sacred institution. All castes, however low, are eligible to the priesthood, which com-mands the homage of the highest. Buddha teaches that—

" A man does not become low caste by birth, Nor by birth does one become high caste ; High caste is the result of high actions— And by actions does a man degrade himself to caste that is low."

Nevertheless, caste was tolerated under the Sinhalese kings as a social institution, and in the account given in the Mahavansa of the planting of the great Bo tree, it is said that " the sovereign, the lord of chariots, directed that it should be lifted by the four high caste tribes and by eight persons of each of the other castes." The highest caste among the Sinhalese is the goi-vansa, or tillers of the soil; there are, besides, fishers, smiths, washers, baggage-carriers, weavers, potters, scavengers, and many others. Every trade is a caste. The castes do not intermarry, and neither wealth nor European influence has had any effect in breaking down caste distinctions. At present the wealthiest native of Ceylon is a fisher by caste, but his wealth cannot gain him admittance to the houses of the native aristocracy, who are all of necessity of the highest caste. The Tamils have the same caste distinctions as their fellows on the mainland. The Mahometans have no caste distinctions.

Education.—The Ceylon Government maintains a large number of public schools, chiefly of the village class ; and there are throughout the island several schools under the management of the Eoman Catholics and other missionary bodies, which receive large grants from Government in the form of payments for results in subjects of secular instruc-tion. The education department is under a Director of Bublic Instruction. The following is an abstract of the school returns for 1874 :—

== TABLE ==

The annual expenditure by the Government on education is upwards of £30,000 ; of which from £17,000 to £18,000 is expended on general administration and salaries of masters of public schools, and £13,000 on grants in aid and other contingent charges.

Crime.—The criminal statistics for the year 1874 give the following figures, having reference to a popula-tion of upwards of 2,400,000. The justices of the peace made 10,171 preliminary inquiries, of which 2750 related to offences against the person, 2452 to cattle stealing, 3706 to offences against property, and 1263 to other offences; 1807 persons were committed for trial in the superior courts, of whom 528 were sent up for offences against the person, 552 for cattle stealing, 452 for offences against property, and 275 for other offences. There were 11,794 summary convictions in the magistrates' courts, of which 2568 were for assaults, &c; 178 malicious injuries; 1678 other offences against property; 5779 offences against Revenue Acts, Highway Acts, Health Acts, and the like; 437 under Masters and Servants Acts; and 1154 other offences. A comparison of the statistics for 1872, 1873, and 1874 shows a slight increase, under almost every head in 1874, as compared with the two previous years.

Diseases.—Ceylon is reputed to be more healthy than most parts of the adjoining continent of India. It is doubt-ful, however, how far this is true. It is a point which it is difficult to bring to the test of statistics. Experience proves that with ordinary care Europeans may pass many years in the island as free from disease as in any part of Europe, but a lengthened residence almost invariably induces a reduced vigour in the whole muscular apparatus. The diseases to which Europeans are most subject are dysentery and hepatic attacks. The returns from the native hospitals for 1874 show that chronic dysentery, diarrhoea, anasarca, and asthenia are the most fatal. In the principal hospital in Ceylon, namely, the Maradana hospital, near Colombo, out of 292 deaths 34 were from chronic dysentery, 99 from diarrhoea, 33 from anasarca, and 18 from asthenia; in the Kandy hospital, out of 304 deaths, 14 were from chronic dysentery, 99 from diarrhoea, 94 from anasarca, and 42 from asthenia; in the Galle hospital, out of 89 deaths, 4 were from chronic dysentery, 14 from diarrhoea, 11 from anasarca, and 1 from debility.

Roads.—The policy of the Sinhalese rulers of the interior was to exclude strangers from the hill country. Prior to the British occupation of the Kandyan territory in 1815, the only means of access from one district to another was by footpaths through the forests. The Bortuguese do not appear to have attempted to open up the country below the hills, and the Dutch confined them-selves to the improvement of the inland water-communications. The British Government saw from the first the necessity of making roads into the interior for military purposes, and, more recently, for developing the resources of the country. The credit of opening up the country is due mainly to the governor, Sir Edward Barnes, by whose direction the great military road from Colombo to Kandy was made. Gradually all the military stations were con-nected by broad tracks, which by degrees were bridged and converted into good carriage roads. The governors Sir Henry Ward and Sir Hercules Bobinson recognized the importance of giving the coffee planters every assistance in opening up the country, and the result of their policy is that the whole of the hill country is now intersected by a vast number of splendid roads, made at a cost of upwards of £2000 per mile. In 1848 an ordinance was passed to levy from every adult male in the colony (except Buddhist priests and British soldiers) six days' labour on the roads, or an equivalent in money. The labour and money obtained by this wise measure have enabled the local authorities to connect the Government highways by minor roads, which bring every village of importance into communication with the principal towns. The expenditure in 1874 out of the revenues of the colony on roads, streets, bridges, and canals was, in round numbers, £175,000, of which sum £113,500 was expended in the ordinary maintenance of existing roads. The expenditure by the local authorities under the road ordinance amounted in the same year to £65,000, and by the municipalities of Colombo, Kandy, and Galle to £23,000.

Railways.—After repeated vain attempts by successive governors to connect Colombo with the interior by railways, Sir Charles MacCarthy successfully set on foot the present railway of 75 miles in length from Colombo to Kandy, which is probably the most prosperous in the world. It was constructed at a cost of £1,738,483. The gross receipts in 1872 were £226,000, and the working expenses £89,000, or about 38 per cent, of the gross earnings. A branch rail-way from Beradeniya (four miles from Kandy) to Navala-pitiya, 17 miles in length, has just been completed, and a line from Colombo to Moratuwa, 11 miles in length, has been commenced ; the latter line will probably be extended to Kalutara, distant 26 miles from Colombo. The line from Colombo to Kandy is remarkable for its beauty, and for the engineering skill shown in its construction. The ruling gradient for the first 50 miles is 1 in 100; the line then rises for 12 miles with a gradient of 1 in 45 throughout and curves of 10 chains radius, to the Bera-deniya station, which is 1562 feet above the sea-level. The Navalapitiya railway station is 1913 feet above the sea-level.

Agriculture.—The Sinhalese are more attached to the pursuit of agriculture than any other occupation, and although their implements are of the rudest kind, and their processes the most simple, they succeed in obtain-ing successive crops of grain of good quality wherever they can secure sufficient water. The chief culture in every part of the island is that of rice, the staple food of all the native races in Ceylon.

Rice.—In a few places, where the rain-fall is abundant, rice cultivation is allowed to depend on the natural supply of water, but in most parts the cultivation is not attempted unless there is secured beforehand a certain and sufficient supply, by means of canals or reservoirs. In the hill country every valley and open plain capable of tillage is made to yield its crops of grain, and the steep sides of the hills are cut into terraces, on which are seen waving patches of green rice watered by mountain streams, which are conducted by means of channels ingeniously carried round the spurs of the hills and along the face of acclivities, by earthen water-courses and bamboo aqueducts, so as to fertilize the fields below. These works bear witness to the patience, industry, and skill of the Kandyan villagers. In the low country to the north and east and north-west of the hills, irrigation works of a more expensive kind are necessary.

|rrigation.—The native rulers covered the whole face of the country with a network of irrigation reservoirs, by which Ceylon was enabled in- ancient times to be the great granary of Southern'Asia. Wars, and the want of a strong hand to guide the agriculture of the country, have led to the decay of these ancient works, and large tracts of land, which were formerly highly productive, have become swampy wastes or dense forests. The remains of some of the larger irriga-tion works are amongst the most interesting of the memorials of Ceylon's former greatness. Some of the artificial lakes were of great size. Mineriya, formed by damming across the valleys between the low hills which surround it with an embankment 60 feet wide at the top, is at this day twenty miles in circumference. Another with an embankment several miles in length, the Kala-wewa, was formed by damming back the waters of the Kalaoya, but they have forced their way through the em-bankment, and in the ancient bed of the lake, or tank, are now many small villages. In connection with these large tanks were numerous canals and channels for supplying smaller tanks, or for irrigating large tracts of fields. Throughout the district of Nuwarakalawiya every village has its tank. The embankments have been formed with great skill, and advantage has been taken to the utmost of the slightest fall in the land; but they in common with the larger works had been allowed to fall into decay, and were being brought to destruction by the evil practice of cutting them every year to irrigate the fields. The work of restoring these embankments has at last been undertaken by the Government. Proper sluices will gradually be supplied to all the village tanks, and the em-bankments will be raised and strengthened by the united labour of the villagers in proportion to their shares in the fields under the gamsabdwa system.

Dry Grains.—Several dry grains (so called as distin-guished from rice, which is grown in water) are grown in Ceylon. These are chiefly kollu, millet, kurakkan, gingele, and pulse of various kinds.

Tobacco.—Tobacco is extensively cultivated in various parts of the island, and the growth of particular places, such as Dumbara and Uva, is much prized for local con-sumption. The tobacco of export is grown in the penin-sula of Jaffna, where the rajah of Travancore has an agent who purchases for him direct from the growers. The exports of this article in 1850 were 22,176 cwts., valued at £20,698, and in 1873, 36,676 cwts., valued at £99,174.

Cinnamon.—Ceylon has been celebrated since the middle of the 14th century for its cinnamon, and during the period of the Dutch occupation this spice was the principal article of commerce; under their rule and up to 1832 its cultivation was a Government monopoly. With the aboli-tion of the monopoly the quantity exported increased, but the value declined. European consumers contented them-selves with the cheaper and coarser cassia, and the Ceylon producers then peeled the coarser and less valuable shoots of cinnamon to compete with the cassia, till the average price in London, which was 5s. Id. per lb in 1841, was reduced in 1857 to Is. 6d. per ft. Cassia during this period varied from Is. l^d. to 6|d. per ft. The customs returns give the exports for 1850 at 664,857 lb, valued at £64,486, and for 1873 at 1,160,754 lb, valued at only £58,037.

Coffee.—The most important cultivation is that of coffee, a branch of industry which since the year 1841 has assumed a position of great and ever-increasing prominence. Coffee was an article of growth and export from Ceylon so far back as the time of the Portuguese, but like the cinnamon it grew wild without any attempt at cultivation. Patches of it were to be seen around the Kandyan villages in wild luxuriance; and the berry, gathered before it was ripe, and imperfectly cured, seldom possessed much flavour, and was lightly esteemed as an article of European com-merce. Coffee cultivation on the West Indian plan was first commenced in 1824 by Sir E. Barnes, then gover-nor of Ceylon, who hoped by his example to introduce coffee-planting by Europeans into the island. Until 1834, however, public attention does not seem to have been occupied with the subject; but in that year the falling off in the supplies from other quarters brought capitalists into ihe field; and when in 1836 the home duty on East India coffee was reduced to 6d. per ft, a great impulse was given to coffee planting in Ceylon. During that and the following year about 7000 acres of forest land were purchased for this object; and when at the end of a few years it became matter of notoriety that the soil and climate of Ceylon were capable of yielding a coffee equal in value to most kinds, the influx of capital from England for investment in this new branch of Ceylon industry became very great.

The commercial crisis of 1847 gave a check to coffee-planting in the island, and caused the abandonment of several estates. But enforced economy induced more careful cultivation, and the coffee enterprise soon recovered. There are now 1,215 coffee plantations of which 800 are owned by individual proprietors, 250 of whom reside on their own estates, and 400 more are resident in the island. The area is estimated at 250,000 acres, of which 195,000 are in bearing. The exports from these planta-tions for the coffee season ending 10th Oct. 1874 were 850,000 cwts., giving an average yield from old and new estates together of a little over 4 cwts. per acre. Estates from 5 to 10 years old probably yield about four and half cwts. per acre, and older estates about three and a half cwts. per acre. The price for plantation coffee in the London markets in 1845 was 74s. per cwt.; it has fluctuated considerably, and went down to 50s. in 1851, but it did not rise much above the price of 1845 till 1872, when it steadily rose till it reached 139s. on Feb. 7th,
1873. Land suitable for coffee is purchased from the
Government in forest. It was formerly sold in large
blocks at an upset price of 5s. an acre; it is now sold in
convenient blocks of 200 acres or less at an upset price
of £1 an acre ; no land, however, which is really well
suited for coffee can be obtained at less than £9 or £10 an
acre, and in 1873 a lot of 306 acres of forest land sold for
£18 per acre. Including the lands sold in small lots to
natives, the Government granted from 1833 to 1844

267,373 acres, and between 1844 and 1874 693,886 acres; the average price per acre has risen from 10s. 8d. to £2, 12s. 4d. per acre. The exports of coffee in 1850 were 278,473 cwts., valued at £609,262, and in 1873, 951,591 cwts., valued at £4,220,750.
Tea.—The cultivation of tea has recently been intro-duced. A small quantity of pure good tea is produced annually, and finds a ready market in the island. It has not yet become an article of export.

Cinchona.—Cinchona was introduced into the hill-districts of Ceylon and India from South America in 1860. It was brought direct from the forests, where it maintained an incessant struggle with other trees for existence. After patient and intelligent experiment its cultivation has been assured, and the object of its introduction secured. There is now provided an abundant supply of the bark at a price which will secure to the population at large the valuable febrifuge yielded by the alkaloids of cinchona.

Sugar.—The cultivation of sugar was commenced in 1836 near Kandy, and subsequently in several other parts of the island, but without any permanent success; the sugar grown in the island forms a very small portion of the annual consumption. The sugar imported in 1873 amounted to 28,956 cwts., valued at £46,953.

Cocoa-nuts.—As an investment for English capital cocoa-nut planting has not proved remunerative. To the native cultivator a small cocoa-nut plantation adjoining his home-stead is of the utmost value, as has been already explained under the head " palms." It is estimated that the extent of land, held by Europeans and natives, bearing cocoa-nuts is 250,000 acres.

Manufactures.—-The native manufactures are of the most primitive description. Coarse cotton cloth of a strong and serviceable kind is woven in rude looms, but the looms are rapidly disappearing with the introduction of the cheaper but inferior productions of Manchester. The fibre of the cocoa-nut is worked up in large quantities into coir yarn and cordage, which is admirably adapted for use in salt water. The country trading vessels employ no other cordage or rope than this, and indeed the planks of their small vessels are held together solely by coir yarn, without the aid of a single nail. Cocoa-nut oil is expressed from the dried kernel of the cocoa-nut in native mills, which are simply a rough mortar of wood or stone in which a heavy pestle of hard wood is made to revolve by means of a pair of oxen at the end of a long pole, secured by a bamboo to the upper end of the pestle, the whole machine forming a simple kind of lever, by the action of which the oil is extracted. Steam-power is now used by European merchants in manufacturing this oil and in preparing and pressing coir fibre, and oil and coir have become important articles of export. In 1850 the exports of coir rope, yarn, <fcc.,were 39,886 cwts., valued at £20,435, and in 1873, 65,048 cwts., valued at £45,363. Of cocoa-nut oil the exports in 1850 were 32,785 cwts., valued at £35,035, and in 1873, 113,872 cwts., of the value of £141,818.

Trade and Commerce.—The trade of Ceylon shows a steady improvement. The earliest returns of imports and exports are thoso for 1825, which give the following figures:—Imports, £296,301 ; exports, £224,388; total, £510,689. The latest returns show that in 1874 the imports and exports together were valued at nearly ten millions, as against half a million in 1825, that is half e century ago. The figures are as follows:—

== TABLE ==

There has been a corresponding increase in the tonnage of ship-ping entered and cleared during the same period. The figures are as follows:—
1825 91,685 tons.
1835 145,182 ,
1845 423,370 „
1855 634,482 „
1865 1,150,840 „
1874 2,015,158 „
With the exception of a duty of one shilling per cwt. on plum-bago, which is in lieu of the royalty to which the Crown was entitled on all plumbago as it came from the pits, there are no export duties; the duty on imports is five per cent, on the declared value, with some few exceptions, such as arms, wines, spirits, and grain, which are liable to special rates; paddy, or rice in husk, which pays 3d. a bushel; rice and other grain, 7d. a bushel; and machinery, paper, and a few other articles, which are free.

Banks.—Two English banking companies and one Indian bank have branches in Ceylon—the Oriental Bank Corporation, the Chartered Mercantile Bank of India, London, and China, and the Bank of Madras. The two chartered banks, the Oriental and the Chartered Mercantile Bank, have the privilege of issuing notes of five rupees and upwards in value. The Government in 1856 gave up this privilege, and left the paper currency of the island entirely in the hands of the banks, who pay to the Government, in lieu of stamp duty, one per cent, per annum on the average amount of notes in circulation, and are required to keep in reserve bullion equal to oue-third of their issues. The bank notes are received at all the Government treasuries throughout the island, but the banks are bound to redeem them with specie after a notice of 60 days ; this rule is only enforced when the Government requires a remit-tance of specie at some distant treasury. The note circulation has increased with the general improvement in the financial position of Ceylon. In 1854 it amounted to £131,000, of which £70,000 was represented by Government notes ; in 1859 it amounted to £93,334, in 1864 to £259,631, in 1869 to £270,979, and in 1874 to £386,089. Since 1st January 1872 the rupee has been the sole standard of value in Ceylon, with decimal subdivisions, represented by bronze token pieces, which are taken as equivalent to injth part of a rupee or 5 cents, rsirth part of a rupee or one cent, j-^th part of a rupee or half a cent, ^wth part of a rupee or a quarter of a cent. All accounts are kept in rupees and cents. The Indian silver subsidiary coins are current,—the half rupee as 50 cents, the quarter rupee as 25 cents, and the two anna piece (|th of a rupee) as 12J cents. The rupee is the Company's silver rupee of India, of 180 grains weight and ^|ths fineness.
Revenue and Expenditure.—The total revenue for 1874 was £1,241,558, the total expenditure £1,110,180. The principal heads of revenue are customs, £268,203;' land sales, £67,795; land revenue, £80,822; tolls on roads and canals, £41,247; licences (under which head is derived the revenue from the Government monopoly of the arrack trade), £173,305 ; stamps (including both general and postage), £105,239, of which about £20,000 is postal revenue ; fines and forfeitures, £8440 ; sale of Government property, £133,323, of which about £70,000 is derived from the monopoly on salt; reim-bursements, £30,000 ; interest on suitors' deposits invested inlndian Government securities and on balances in England, £13,600; miscel-laneous, £44,633 ; pearl fishery, £9524 ; railway receipts, £221,168. Of the customs duties about £150,000 is derived from the import duty on grain, and of the land revenue about £70,000 is derived from the tithe on grain; it thus appears that about one-fifth of the total revenue of the island is derived from a tax on the daily food of the people. In defence of these burdens on food, it is urged that the importation of rice is rendered necessary, to a large extent, by the employment on the coffee estates of immigrant labourers from the south of India, who come over for the coffee season and return to India with their earnings, out of which they would contribute nothing to the revenue of Ceylon, if it were not for the tax on their imported food; and as regards the tithe on grain, that this is the reserved rent of the Crown as supreme landlord. The monopoly of the arrack trade yields about £170,000. The very name of monopoly has an odious sound, but in the instances in which it exists in Ceylon it is difficult to see what mode of taxation would be less oppressive, and, as regards the arrack monopoly, there can be no doubt that its possession by the Government renders possible the exercise of an effectual check on the abuse of this intoxi-cant. The Government restricts distillation to certain licensed stills, which are left free to sell the spirit wholesale in open market, but the right to retail is granted only to certain persons and certain taverns. This right is sold by auction from year to year to taverns or groups of taverns, which are bound to retail pure arrack at not more than a certain price, named in the conditions, and are subjected to stringent regulations for the prevention of drunkenness and the maintenance of order. In the management of this mono-poly, revenue is a secondary consideration, and taverns are only allowed where they are absolutely required, that is, where their place, if they were not allowed, would be supplied by the illicit sale of arrack. The proper management of this monopoly has received much attention from the present governor, Sir W. H. Gregory, and he has been careful to enforce the observance of the principles which have always been supposed to govern this question. The monopoly of salt has been from time immemorial in the hands of the sovereign, and, as it prevails in Ceylon, is common to every country in the East; it seems to be the only expedient by which to obtain a minimum of taxation from classes incapable of bearing in any other shape an equitable share of the public burdens. Salt is produced at about 1 Od. per cwt. and sold at 4s. 8d. per cwt.

The principal heads of expenditure are as follows :—Salaries and office charges, £354,761 ; pensions, £41,000; revenue services, £24,000; hospitals, £16,000; education, £14,600; police and jails, £30,700 ; works and buildings, £24,000 ; roads, streets, bridges, and canals, £185,300 ; military expenditure, £124,687. The returns of revenue and expenditure of the Government, as given above, do not represent the whole of the public revenue and expenditure of the island ; there have to be added the returns from the municipalities and the local boards by which the road tax is collected. These figures are as follows for the year 1874 :—_

Revenue. Expenditure
Colombo Municipality £38,961 £38,708
Galle „ 7,057 6,100
Kandy „ 11,766 14,548
Provincial Road Committees—o
Western Province 35,087 28,468
North-Western Province... 9,213 6,130
Southern ,, ... 9,554 8,046
Eastern „ ... 5,192 4,350
Northern ,, ... 7,117 6,976
Central „ ... 16,937 9,319
North-Central „ ... 2,635 1,833
Total, £143,519 £124,478

The returns of revenue from 1856 to the present time show a steady and rapid increase, and are a fair indication of the great advance which Ceylon is making. The revenue in 1856 was £504,174; it rose, year by year, till it reached £767,100 in 1860, and in 1865 it amounted to £978,462; it then fell somewhat owing to the cession by the Government to the municipalities of certain sources of revenue, butit rose in 1870 to £1,091,606, in 1871 to £1,121,679, in 1872 to £1,174,698, and in 1873 to £1,290,918. The revenue for 1874 in reality exceeded that of 1873, though it is only given as £1,241,558, which is the equivalent of rupees 1,32,43,288 at Is. 10Jd., at which the rupee is rated in the accounts for 1874, whereas in the previous year it was rated at 2s.

[Further Reading -- ] Tennent's Ceylon, 2 vols. 2d ed. 1859 ; Reports to Ceylon Govern-
ment by Service Tenures Commissioner, 1870-1873 ; Ceylon Govern-
ment Blue Book, 1874, and Gazette, 1875 ; Childers's Pali Dictionary,
1875 ; Ferguson's Ceylon Directory, 1875 (J. F. D.)




Search the Encyclopedia:



About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Sitemaps
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us



© 2005-17 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries