Images de page

We fear much for Germany and its future, for all its political changes have been won by the sacrifice of human life; and it is our firm conviction that the robe of freedom ought not-must not ever be stained with blood. That "damned spot" can never be washed out; it corrodes, it cankers, converts that which might be a panoply for a people into a tunic of Nessus, poisoning the wearer by its pressure, and at length impelling him, by the agony of his torture, to his own destruction, prepared to plunge with suicidal despair into an abyss of anarchy, or rendering him a willing victim on the fiery altar of despotism.

ART. IV.-Eleven Years in Ceylon. By MAJOR FORBES, 78th Highlanders. 2 vols. 8vo. Bentley, 1840.


HE facilities for travelling about are now so great, that there are but few parts of the world that are not visited. And the result of all this going to and fro over the earth is shown in the numberless works of modern travel which are almost daily issuing from the press. And yet, though there is a great increase of general knowledge respecting foreign countries, and almost everybody is acquainted with the most commonplace differences between one country and another, yet there is surprisingly little advance made in a real and intimate acquaintance with the feelings, tastes, and temper of mind of other peoples-all, in short, which constitutes their essential difference of character.

President of the assembly and the majority of those who are its chosen members."-Frankfort Correspondence of the Morning Herald, May 22nd, 1848.


Among ninety-two members now elected in Bohemia, there are not less than forty peasants. The same is the case with Styria, where there are thirty-one peasants among seventy-five deputies, by far the major part of whom do not understand one word of German. It is certain that the great majority of the assembly" (the Austrian Constituent Assembly) will consist of men without political education, without any idea of the questions of the epoch, and who are totally unable to understand or join in the discussions."Times, July 5th, 1848.

Nor is this at all to be wondered at, if we look at the temper with which a modern traveller goes abroad. Instead of endeavouring to make himself for the time being one of the people with whom he is, he guards all his little national ways and feelings more jealously than his virtue. Instead of striving to enter into the feelings and tastes of others, and to understand their way of looking at things by viewing them from the same point, he seems to be quite afraid of sympathizing with them, and to think that the only way of preventing his national character from being spoilt, is by having a sort of noble contempt for everything that he sees abroad, and a feeling of compassion for their want of civilization, because their ways are not like his own. It is only when his prejudices are fairly worn out, and the real character of a nation is forced upon his observation by a long residence in a country, that he comes to understand their ways, and appreciate their character. And this very superficial way of observing things is no doubt the cause of what others must have observed as well as ourselves-namely, that Protestants who make a tour in a Catholic country, so generally come back disgusted with what they have seen, while those who have resided any length of time in one are as generally pleased with it.

It is not surprising, then, that one cannot often come at the real spirit and character of a people by reading the books of modern travellers. And this remark applies to the numerous works that have appeared upon Ceylon. Of these there has been no want. Among those we call to mind at the present moment there are, besides the work we have placed at the head of the present article, De Butt's Rambles in Ceylon, Knighton's History, Bertolacci's Book, intended to show its commercial capacities, Heber's Journal, Campbell's and Perceval's Works, and Davy, who investigated the island as a naturalist, and who gives us some very interesting accounts of the plants and animals, and of the experiments he made with snakes. There is also another History by a Portuguese of the name of Ribeiro; but the writer, whose work still stands pre-eminent, notwithstanding all that have succeeded it, is Knox, who was there in the time of the Dutch, having been kept a prisoner in the interior province by the native king of Candy for many years, where he had great opportunities of making himself acquainted with the country and its in

habitants, their manners and habits. And as he made a good use of those opportunities, and has given us an account of all that he saw or heard, in a simple unpretending style, his work is an interesting as well as a valuable one. From these sources a curious and entertaining account of the island may be derived. Several of these works contain a great deal of information on those subjects which will most interest general readers in the present day. Still they do not, it must be confessed, supply all that is wanted. There is a class of readers, though perhaps not the largest class, who seek a deeper knowledge of a place than a mere acquaintance with its wild sports or commercial capacities, with its scenery and wild animals, its facilities for travelling and dining. Interesting and even important as these are in order to gain a full knowledge of a place, they are but accessories after all to what is much more important, viz., the study of the internal character of a people, their state of feeling on moral and religious matters, and the way in which they are accustomed to view things in their every day affairs, and in their relations to one another. And such an account of Ceylon as this a history not merely of facts, but of the philosophy of them-is still a desideratum.

Major Forbes's book is one of the most interesting of the modern accounts of the island, and contains some spirited accounts of its wild sports, as well as some graphic sketches of its characteristic scenery, and of the habits of the natives. There is also some very interesting information respecting the early history of the island, and of the ruins and monuments still remaining. But neither this nor any other book contains any adequate information on the particular point of view which we have selected as the subject of the present article-viz., the History and Prospects of the Church there. The only work from which we have been able to derive much assistance, is from an article that appeared some years ago in the first number of the Catholic Colonial Intelligencer, and from which we shall make one or two extracts.

Before, however, entering immediately on our subject, it will be necessary to give a brief sketch of the character of the island and its inhabitants, such as may suffice to make our future remarks better understood.

It lies between the parallels of 6° and 10° N. latitude,

and between 80° and 82° E. longitude, and is situated very nearly at the extremity of the great promontory which forms the west side of the Bay of Bengal. It is on the Coromandel coast, from which it is separated by the straits of Manaar, about twenty-six miles across at the nearest point. A reef of sunken rocks, so near the surface as to prevent the passage of vessels of any considerable burthen, connects the island with the continent of India. This reef, which goes by the name of Adam's Bridge, runs from the small island of Manaar, off the mainland, to the island of Ramiseram adjoining the coast of Ceylon. It seems to have taken its name from an ancient tradition which makes the garden of Eden to have been situated in Ceylon, out of which Adam was driven after the fall, and it is probably from a part of the same tradition that one of the principal mountains in the island is called Adam's Peak. Ceylon is in shape like a pear, being about 270 miles long and 145 miles broad. In area it is two-thirds the size of Ireland. It has been known by various names. By the Greeks and Romans it was called Salice and Taprobane; in the Sanscrit writings it is called Lanka; among the Arabs it went by the name of Serendib; among the Portuguese by that of Selan; while in the Singhalese annals themselves, it is denominated Singhaladwipa, Island of Lions. Though situated so near the equator, the climate, compared with that of the continent, is very temperate. Most of the chief towns are on the coast, and so are refreshed by the sea breeze. Other places, again, in the interior, are on high ground, where the temperature is of course much lower. And though the power of the sun is always very great, yet being near the equator, there is very little difference in the length of the days. The longest is not more than twelve hours and twenty minutes, so that the nights being a good length, but a small elevation is sufficient to allow the air to cool by night, and to keep it so during the day when the sky is overclouded. Another thing which renders the temperature cooler is, that, in consequence of the extreme fertility of the soil, the foliage is so dense and so universal that the sun's rays can seldom penetrate to the earth. And the forests of cocoa nut with which all the lower parts of the island are filled, are peculiarly adapted to keep the air cool; as while their leaves afford a pretty thick shade against the sun at the height of 70 or 80 feet, their bare

and slender trunks leave all the space below free and open for an unimpeded current of air to cool and freshen it. Notwithstanding this however, the heat is in some places very great wherever the land is low or sheltered from the wind. Towards the sea coast, as also all the northern part of the island, the country is inclined to be low and Hat; but as we approach towards the centre there is a great crown of high and mountainous country, which rises so abruptly that it would be perhaps impossible to construct a carriage road to ascend it by, except at some points. This mountainous tract of land rises towards the centre to the height of 7000 feet, and at this elevation there is a small town called Nuwera Ellia, too cold indeed to be frequented by the natives, but the great resort of Europeans, not only from the lower parts of the island, but also from the continent of India; as the low temperature and bracing air render it a most excellent place for the restoration of invalids, and those who suffer from the weakening effects of the climate.

The climate of Nuwera Ellia is as delicious a one as we could suppose to be found any where. Twice in the year the enjoyment of it is for a time interrupted by the monsoons, when the rain is sometimes incessant, and the plain covered with a fog: but with this exception, the air is light and bracing, and the atmosphere so pure, that the deep blue sky seems almost as if it could be touched. The weather, too, is for the most part very fine, and the thermometer so low, that in the morning and evening a fire is very acceptable. There is in the high lands something like a change of seasons, one part of the year being colder than another. And it happens now and then that the nights in the month of January are cold enough to freeze water, which, however, is soon melted when the day breaks. In the lower parts of the island the year is broken by no perceptible change of seasons, but month succeeds to month in one unvarying summer, the leaves ever falling and budding out afresh, and the trees and fields bearing twice a-year. Indeed, some of the trees do not recognize seasons at all, but bear at whatever time they find most convenient, or rather go on bearing continually as they have strength. Though, for the most part, the monsoons have an influence over the crops, or perhaps over the husbandman, who finds it more pleasant or more profitable to cultivate the land at one time than at another.

« PrécédentContinuer »