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into decay, they have at one time been much more skilful cultivators than at present. Cinnamon is indigenous, and at one period formed the principal article of export, but coffee is now extensively grown, as well as tobacco, cinchona, and sugar. Among other crops, tea has been introduced, and promises to become a profitable plant. But cocoanut culture is among the natives the great “industry.” A European does not find this kind of farm a profitable investment for his capital, but to a Singhalese the cocoanut grove around his house is an independence. It furnishes all he requires for food, clothing, drink, and timber; and after he has lived sumptuously all the days of his life on the nuts and the sap, the trunk, hollowed out, makes a very comfortable coffin. Altogether, it has been calculated that, apart from the area devoted to the Areca and Palmyra palms, the cocoa-nut culture in the hands of Europeans or natives occupies about 250,000 acres of Singhalese soil (p. 169).
There are no native manufactures except of the most primitive kind, though the gold chain work and the imitations of gems are really very beautiful. For a “sapphire," hardly to be distinguished from the real stone at first sight, a ragged native will calmly ask the fresh arrival, or by choice the visitor who is just departing, from 400 to 4,000 rupees, and at the last moment joyously accept the fourpence, which is somewhat over its value. Though cinnamon, sugar, and coffee are all more important sources of Singhalese wealth, yet the famous pearl-fisheries of the island are most associated in the popular mind with its fame. The chief banks are near Arippo, off the northern part of the west coast, at a distance of six to twelve miles from the shore, but though of great extent, they vary in their yield. The banks are monopolies of the Government, who sell the privilege of fishing them by public auction. But owing to causes never clearly explained, though it has been attributed to the migratory character of the oyster (Jeleagrina margaratifera), the business is a rather precarious one, altogether apart from the fact that the divers must run the risk of bringing to the surface many oysters which are of little or no value for one which contains the precious pearl loose in its “mantle.” Since the Government sold the privilege of fishing the beds, the oysters have been disposed of as they come ashore from the boats, with the result that the returns vary from £87,000, the highest in any one year, to £7,200, which was the net revenue in 1874, though in the preceding year £16,000 was derived from it. These are Mr. Dickson's figures, and give a fair idea of the fluctuating character of this source of Ceylon revenue (which is, indeed, so old that it is mentioned in a chronicle dating 306 years B.c.), though the writer is in error in believing that the beds are worked by the Government directly. As soon as it is decided that there will be a fishery, the privilege is disposed of at Colombo to the highest bidder. The purchasers of this concession are generally Moors, Tamils, or Banian merchants, who now and then lose heavily by it. Such a case occurred in 1814, when the calculations which the experts profess to be able to make failed so egregiously that the Government remitted one-third of the money to the renter. On the other hand, in 1857 the speculators combined to bid low. Accordingly, though only £20,309 were obtained for the rental of the banks, an enormous quantity of oysters were landed, and the Government, in chagrin at being
duped, threatened to close the fishery altogether. Indeed, during the off-season a close watch has to be kept either by a vessel stationed on the banks or by guards on the shore to prevent poaching on these curious sea-preserves. The fishery commences at a period varying from March to May, but never later than that month, when the little villages of Arippo and Condatchy, which are the headquarters of the divers, the speculators, and the motley crowd who hie from far and near to profit by the money which for a few weeks is scattered so freely by those engaged in the business. The country about Arippo is naturally very dreary. Water is scarce away from the river, which flows into the sea at this place, and with the exception of a few scattered palms, a thorny, scattered jungle is the only vegetation, scattered behind the long sandy beach. Yet here from time immemorial have congregated for the one month during which the fishery lasts a motley multitude, numbering, it is said, upwards of one thousand, from all parts of Asia. At this season the author of “Ceylon” describes the vicinity as assuming the appearance of a vast fair. The dwellings are only temporary. Sheds, built of boards, palm-leaves, cotton-cloth, and straw, rise as if by magic on the barren sand; and the region so desolate a few days previously is thronged by a crowd of snake-charmers, jugglers, dancing girls, fakirs, whose revolting features enable them to prosper on the superstition of the crowd, and the vagabondage of half of Southern Asia, the variety of whose costume, features, tongues, and roguery afford endless subjects for the student of mankind and the artist's pencil. On the banks swarm canoes and dhoneys of all sizes, most of which come from the opposite shores of India with provisions and other goods. to supply the wants of the multitude who inhabit the impromptu bazaar-like town ashore. Finally, the strong detachment of Malay police and military sent from Colombo are absolutely necessary to keep order in such a gathering.
The divers are principally Malabars from Cape Comorin, in India, but a few come from the Persian Gulf. They all wear amulets against sharks; and until recently the Government had to maintain a Kadal-Katti, or “shark-binder," whose business it was to supply the credulous pearl-divers with charms against their powerful submarine enemy. Indeed, this functionary holds an office which is hereditary in his family; and the fact that in 1847 he was a Roman Catholic seemed, Sir J. Emerson Tennent tells us, in noway to have impaired the virtue of his charms in the eyes of his patrons. The oysters, when brought ashore, are sold by the thousand to small speculators, who, in their turn, either take the risk themselves, or dispose of smaller quantities to still humbler adventurers. Indeed, few of those who camp on Arippo beach during the fishing season do not venture from a few pence to several pounds in the prevailing lottery. The smaller dealers usually open them on the spot, but most frequently the oysters are placed in hollow enclosures, covered with sheds, and fenced round and guarded to prevent pilfering. There they are allowed to remain until they rot, when the pearls, if any, are sought for. It is needless to say that the putrefaction of such an immense quantity of shell-fish fills the air with an abominable odour for miles around, and nurtures vast swarms of flies, which blacken the air, and cover every article of food, furniture, and clothing. At first this horrible smell produces nausea, but after a time the stomach gets accustomed to it, and some optimists will even declare that it sharpens. the appetite. It does not, however, seem to be injurious to health, for mortality is not higher at Arippo than among the crowded population of the native towns.
The trade of Ceylon is steadily increasing. In 1876 its imports were valued at £5,562,884, and its exports at £4,509,595, its commercial intercourse being chiefly with India and Great Britain. Coffee, cinnamon, and cocoa-nut oil are the chief articles
sent out of the country; for, of course, the pearls, though intrinsically valuable, do not figure in Custom House schedules, and leave the island in small quantities and for the most part in private hands.
The population is reckoned to be over two and a half millions. the Singhalese are by far
the most numerous ; but Tamils, Moors, or descendants of the Arab settlers, Malays, and other Asiatics are
The European and other half-caste descendants do not number over 20,000, the actual European settlers not being over a third as many, while the Veddas and Rodiyas are wild tribes, about whom very little is known. The majority of the people are Buddhists
of the strictest type, but there are Sivites, one of the Hindoo faiths, in large numbers, Roman Catholics, Mohammedans, and Protestants of various sects. Missionaries havo for long laboured in the country, though, as the vast majority of the Christians belong to the population of European descent, their efforts have not proved very successful. The Singhalese, it is needless to say, are not barbarians. Among them a high civilisation has long existed, though under their earlier native kings they had attained a loftier grade of culture than in later times. In 1505 the decadence of native rule
began by the Portuguese settling in the country. There they remained until, in the course of the next century, the Dutch gained a footing, and ousted the “Portugals.” The Netherlanders in their turn had to yield to the British, who iu 1795-6 annexed the foreign settlements in the island to the Presidency of Madras, and two years later erected them into a separate colony. The inevitable, of course, soon followed. The last of the “Kings of Candy,” having made himself objectionable, was taken prisoner, and with him ended in exile that long line of sovereigns whose pedigree could be traced back for nearly 2,000 years. Since that date the British have exercised complete and— with the exception of three outbreaks, only one of which was, however, of importance undisputed mastery of the island. Under our rule the condition of the population has improved and the prosperity of the country increased. Roads are being rapidly made all over the