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island, and 118 miles of railway have already been completed. The six provinces are administered a Crown colony by a governor, aided by executive and legislative councils, the actual officials being members of the Ceylon Civil Service, a very highly trained body of “competition wallahs.” The revenue was in 1878—a fair average year-£1,6 12,609; and though a debt of £900,000 was incurred for the construction of public works, it is being so rapidly extinguished that at the end of 1878 it amounted to only £350,000.* In addition to schools under various missionary societies, the Government maintains a number in the villages throughout the island, and pays large sums “on results” to those supported by private organisations.
There are numerous towns scattered over the colony, both in the interior and on the coast, but the only ones of any size are Colombo (100,240), which we have already mentioned, Galle (47,059), Jaffna (34,86+), and Kandy, which, though once the capital of the country, has now sunk down into insignificance. It is picturesquely situated on the border of a small artificial lake, surrounded by wooded hills, at the base of which a road runs around the lake, and forms the favourite evening drive of the inhabitants. Between the lake and the town there is also an esplanade, and in the lake a tiny island, on which in former days the Kings of Kandy kept their wives.
The more prosaic English have converted this Agapemone into
this Agapemone into a powder-magazine. Kandy seems never at any time to have been an imposing town. The ruins of the king's palace indicate a mean building, while the rest of the town is made up of mod huts, the monarchs having reserved the luxuries of windows and tiles for themselves. The temples, which were at one time numerous here, are also falling into ruins—the most elegant now standing being that containing the “tooth of Buddha"but since the arrival of the English many substantial houses have been built, and the poorer natives have taken to the suburbs. Some of these parts of the town are densely crowded, especially along the road to Peradenia, which is studded on either side for mile after mile with huts, bazaars, and gardens. The place does not bear the best of reputations for healthiness, and was formerly terribly infested by snakes. There is, however, a good botanic garden at Peradenia, and the fine Government House adds a little loveliness to this dull, hot Singhalese city. In a climate so warm athletic amusements must necessarily be limited; but being an English dependency, of course a club is
among its “institutions,” and where ladies live there are, it is needless to say, balls also, and the usual pastimes which our race carry with them all over the world. At Newera-Ellia two packs of hounds are kept: one is employed in hunting the great elk, which, though abundant in the neighbourhood affords but poor sport, owing to its habit of taking to the water as soon as it can; the other is a pack of harriers. The land-leeches, which are the pest of Ceylon, especially after rain, are very troublesome alike to horses, men, and hounds. “Leech gaiters” are worn by planters, and though efficacious enough in keeping off some of the species, one of the kinds (Hæmadipsa Ceylanica) which frequents the damp jungles climbs up the legs and gets inside the clothes, and can spring on the passer-by from among the leaves. The “rest-houses,” which are built for the accommodation of travellers on the Ceylon roads, are often infested with them, and the writer whom I have already so often quoted mentions that wayfarers have been driven out of the one at Kaigalle by these sanguinary annelids, and that they have been known to draw blood from people in their palanquin carriages. The railway route from Kandy to Colombo is one of the most beautiful in the world. Near the sea the line runs across jungle and plains, but the latter portion gradually ascends, until the passenger can peep out of the carriage windows at rich tropical vegetation, not only around him but in the valleys below, and at “distant mountains shimmering in the glare and blaze of the burning sun.” Colombo itself is a European-looking town, very pleasant in itself ; while from Wockwalla, a hill commanding the plain, and a favourite drive of the inhabitants, can be obtained a view over "paddyfields, jungle, and virgin forest, up to the hills close by and to the mountains beyond, which it would be difficult to surpass in the tropics.”* Trincomalee is noted for its spacious harbour; and Galle (p. 161), though within six degrees of the equator, is healthier than most of the tropical stations, and has a fair harbour, though small, and with coral-reefs scattered over its entrance. Point Pedro, the harbour of Jaffna, is an open roadstead, with tolerable shelter behind the coral-reefs; but the coast is dangerous during the prevalence of the north-east monsoon.t Altogether, in spite of the fungus which is preying on the coffee-leaves, the beetle that bores into its stem, the “bug” which makes its home in its bark, and the rat which eats its buds and blossoms, Ceylon is prospering fairly well. The mania for coffee-planting, which for a time threatened ruin to the island, and actually caused great loss, has now abated, and as other crops are being cautiously introduced, a rich future evidently awaits this tropical dependency—for colony it cannot really be called-of England. Ceylon has, moreover, dependencies of its own, though to these our space will only admit of a few words being devoted.
* Ferguson's "Ceylon Directory and Handbook" (1878).
They are governed by their own Sultan, who, however, acknowledges his suzerainty to Ceylon by sending every year a present to the governor, a courtesy which is returned by the gift of a piece of red cloth. This custom dates, perhaps, from the period of the Chinese supremacy in Ceylon—that is, from A.D. 1430. The curious vessels of the Maldives are sometimes seen in the Ceylon harbours laden with cocoa-nuts, coir, and cowries, or with dried fish intended for the Indian market. The cowries are, in their turn, despatched to West Africa, where they are used—but nothing like to the old extent-in lieu of money. At one time they were worth £20 per ton, but they are nowadays of less value. The coral soil of the Maldives is rich, millet grows well, and banyan-trees, bread-fruit, tamarinds, and various other fruits and vegetables flourish. Cocoa-nut-trees cover them so densely that the voyager is quite close to them before anything can be seen, and even then the view is only that of a forest of the favourite tree of the low-lying Atolls. The dominant race is of Arab descent, but the other is evidently more or less aboriginal, though their origin is unknown, and both are strict Mohammedans. The Europeans have formed no settlements, for the prospects of trade are not so brisk as to counterbalance the fact of the climate being particularly unhealthy, dropsical complaints and disorders of the bowels being very common, and particularly fatal to strangers (p. 165).
* Mrs. Brassey : “ Voyage of the Sunbeam," p. 195. † Ceylon," Vol. I., p. 68.
Cocos OR KEELING ISLANDS.
This little group has been annexed by the Ceylon Government. They were discovered in 1608–9 by Captain William Keeling, of the East India Company's service, but the first settler on the group was, perhaps, Captain Ross, who in 1825 came there, and whose son is, we believe, still virtual governor of these lonely tropical isles.
There are a considerable number of inhabitants on the islands, but very few Europeans. Cocoanut oil is the chief article of trade, but cyclones sometimes desolate the islands, sweeping over them with such force as to carry trees, houses, grass—everything, before them. But the experiment of colonising the Cocos has been more favourable than might have been expected, since the climate is temperate and is reported to be extremely healthy. When Captain Ross first arrived the islands were for the most part covered with brush ; but much of this has been cleared away, and the ground planted with cocoa-nut trees and other crops, with the result that a considerable trade is carried on with Java and the neighbouring countries. Mr. Forbes, who is a modern visitor, speaks of the islands as belonging to the Ross family. But this phrase is, we suppose, only to be understood in the sense that their present representative is the chief trader on the group.*
The “Lakara-Divh,” or “Hundred Thousand Isles”-as the natives call them-- were discovered by Vasco da Gama in 1499, but at present they are attached to the district of Cananore, in the Presidency of Madras, to which they pay a tribute of about £1,000 per
The population numbers over 7,000, and are known as Moplays. They are of Arabian origin, and, like the people of the Maldives, are all Mohammedans, though not of a strict type. The rearing of a small breed of cattle, cocoa-nuts, rice, betel-nuts, sweet potatoes, and other vegetables, are their chief occupations, but the islands, seventeen in number, are of little value. They are composed of coral, and hence are mostly low, with deep water all around them, and on that account are dreaded by navigators of the Arabian Sea (p. 165).
We are now within 150 miles of the Malabar coast, having skirted the shores of India from Burmah to near the entrance of the Persian Gulf. It is but a short way to the continent again, and of that portion of Asia which we have as yet not visited the most part is India proper—that is, the Empire of Hindostan. Now, to describe India, even in the briefest manner, would requireas, indeed, it has obtained—many volumes. Our space will not admit of as many pages being devoted to it; but happily this is not necessary In another work, to which this is a companion, full descriptions have been given of the native and other races, and in the English language the information in
“Notes on the Cocos or Keeling Islands,” by H. O. Forbes (Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, 1879, pp. 777—784, and 1880, p. 49); Darwin : “Coral Reefs" (1874).
regard to the country itself is so abundant and easily accessible, that the outlines to which, in accordance with our plan, we are restricted can be easily filled up by any one desirous of fuller information.*
INDIA: ITS PHYSICAL FEATURES.
In familiar parlance we talk of India, or Hindostan,† as that huge triangle of Asia comprised in the area between the Indus on one side and the Ganges on the other, and
between Cape Comorin on the south and the Himalayas in the north. In reality, India includes within its comprehensive bounds a number of countries widely different as to their physical features, products, climates, races, religions, languages, and governments, and though the Hindoos form a considerable proportion of the people of these countries, it is almost needless to say that they are not the sole inhabitants of any large portion of a region as large as all of Europe, if Russia is excluded from the computation. Vor are the parts politically, historically, or socially one, though through the force of circumstances they are, with a few exceptions, units in the British Empire.
* “Races of Mankind," Vol. III., pp. 288—320, and Vol. IV., pp. 1--118.
+ I must here, if possible, shield myself from the wrath of rival nomenclatorial schools by at once declaring for none of them. The Indian names will be spelt in the manner most familiar to the greatest number of my probable readers, without any regard to the fact of its being archaiac or modern, right or wrong. I am afraid that, spelled after the new fashion, some of the old places would fail to be recognised.
« Wide differences of race and creed,” writes Dr. Hunter, “ are known to exist, but the recognition is dim and speculative rather than practically and substantially realised. Setting aside the Mussulmans and their faith, it is generally supposed that the inhabitants of India are, and for ages have been, Hindus; that the religion of India since the beginning of history has been the Hindu religion ; and that from time immemorial Indian society has been artificially divided into four classes, known as the Hindu castes. Such opinions have led to a complete misunderstanding of the Indian people, a misunderstanding which warpe our whole political dealings with India, and which stands as a barrier between our Eastern subjects and that new order of things, with its more active humanity and purer creed, of which England is the messenger and representative to the Asiatic world.” *
PLAINS AND TABLE-LAND.
From the twenty-fifth degree of latitude southward General Strachey justly characterises the Indian Peninsula as a great table-land, having its greatest elevation on the west, where some hills rise to 8,000 feet or more, though the ordinary heights are not over half of that, and the general level of the table-land lies between a maximum of 3,000 feet and a minimum of 1,000 feet. The great plain of Northern India, lying between the Ganges and Brahmapootra on the cast and the delta of the Indus on the west, and between the table-land of the peninsula and the foot of the Himalayan slope of the Tibetan Plateau, rises at its highest point to about 1,000 feet, and if its prolongation up the valley of the Assam is taken into account, is the richest, most populous, and most civilised portion of India. It stretches in an almost unbroken flat from one side of India to the other, and, to use General Strachey's words, “is composed of deposits so finely comminuted that it is no exaggeration to say that it is possible to go from the Bay of Bengal, up the Ganges, through the Punjab, and down the Indus again to the sea, over a distance of 2,000 miles and more, without finding a pebble, however small.” India has, indeed, not unfittingly been called an “epitome of the whole earth,” so varied is its surface, so widely different the climates of its different portions. In the north we bave mountains the highest in the world, whose peaks are covered with perpetual snow, and through whose valleys creep great glaciers, compared with which those of the Alps are mere puny ice-streams. Further south are fertile plains, sweltering under a torrid sun, and close by arid wastes and jungles, unpenetrated save by wild beasts or the rudest savages-wrecks of the prevailing barbarism which cverspread the country when the Aryan race, from which most of the European nations are sprung, poured through the mountain passes from High Asia, and gradually brought in a higher civilisation, just as
* Hunter: “Annals of Rural Bengal" (1871), p. 97.