11: Chapter XI
<< 10: Chapter X || 12: Chapter XII >>
The foregoing chapter may appear to decry in toto the indigenous
productions of Ceylon, as it is asserted that they are valueless
in their natural state. Nevertheless, I do not imply that they
must necessarily remain useless. Where Nature simply creates a
genus, cultivation extends the species, and from an insignificant
parent stock we propagate our finest varieties of both animals
and vegetables. Witness the wild kale, parsnip, carrot,
crab-apple, sloe, etc., all utterly worthless, but nevertheless
the first parents of their now choice descendants.
It is therefore impossible to say what might not he done in the
improvement of indigenous productions were the attention of
science bestowed upon them. But all this entails expense, and
upon whom is this to fall? Out of a hundred experiments
ninety-nine might fail. In Ceylon we have no wealthy
experimentalists, no agricultural exhibitions, no model farms,
but every man who settles in a colony has left the mother country
to better himself; therefore, no private enterprise is capable of
such speculation. It clearly rests upon the government to
develop the resources of the country, to prove the value of the
soil, which is delivered to the purchaser at so much per acre,
good or bad. But no; it is not in the nature of our government
to move from an established routine. As the squirrel revolves
his cage, so governor after governor rolls his dull course along,
pockets his salary, and leaves the poor colony as he found it.
The government may direct the attention of the public, in reply,
to their own establishment - to the botanical gardens. Have we
not botanical gardens? We have, indeed, and much good they
should do, if conducted upon the principle of developing local
resources; but this would entail expense, and, like everything in
the hands of government, it dies in its birth for want of
With an able man as superintendent at a good salary, the
beautiful gardens at Peredenia are rendered next to useless for
want of a fund at his disposal. Instead of being conducted as an
experimental farm, they are little more than ordinary
pleasure-grounds, filled with the beautiful foliage of the
tropics and kept in perfect order. What benefit have they been
to the colony? Have the soils of various districts been tested?
have new fibres been manufactured from the countless indigenous
fibrous plants? have new oils been extracted? have medicinal
drugs been produced? have dyes been extracted? have improvements
been suggested in the cultivation of any of the staple articles
of Ceylon export? In fact, has ANYTHING ever been done by
government for the interest of the private settler?
This is not the fault of the manager of the gardens; he has the
will, but no funds. My idea of the object of a botanical garden
is, that agricultural theories should be reduced to facts, upon
which private enterprise may speculate, and by such success the
government should ultimately benefit.
It is well known to the commonest school-boy that soil which may
be favorable to one plant is not adapted to another; therefore,
where there is a diversity of soils it stands to reason that
there should be a corresponding variety of crops to suit those
soils, so as to make the whole surface of the land yield its
In Ceylon, where the chief article of production is coffee, land
(upon an estate) which is not suitable to this cultivation is
usually considered waste. Thus the government and the private
proprietor are alike losers in possessing an amount of
Now, surely it is the common sense object in the establishment of
a botanical garden to discover for each description of soil a
remunerating crop, so that an estate should be cultivated to its
uttermost, and the word "waste" be unknown upon the property.
Under the present system of management this is impossible; the
sum allowed per annum is but just sufficient to keep the gardens
in proper condition, and the abilities of the botanist in charge
are sacrificed. Many a valuable plant now lies screened in the
shades of remote jungles, which the enterprising botanist would
bring to light were he enabled by government to make periodical
journeys through the interior. These journeys should form a part
of his duties; his botanical specimens should be his game, and
they should be pursued with the ardor of the chase itself, and
subsequently transferred to the gardens and their real merits
discovered by experiments.
But what can be expected from an apathetic system of government?
Dyes, fibres, gums may abound in the forests, metals and even
gold may be concealed beneath our feet; but the governor does not
consider it a part of his duty to prosecute the search, or even
to render facilities to those of a more industrious temperament.
What can better exemplify the case than the recent discovery of
gold at Newera Ellia?
Here was the plain fact that gold was found in small specks, not
in one spot, but everywhere throughout the swamps for miles in
the vicinity - that at a depth of two or three feet from the
surface this proof was adduced of its presence; but the governor
positively refused to assist the discoverers ("diggers," who were
poor sailors visiting Ceylon), although they merely asked for
subsistence until they should be able to reach a greater depth.
This may appear too absurd to be correct, but it is nevertheless
At the time that I commenced these sketches of Ceylon the gold
was just discovered, and I touched but lightly upon it, in the
expectation that a few months of labor, aided by government
support, would have established its presence in remunerating
quantities. The swampy nature of the soil rendered the digging
impossible without the aid of powerful pumps to reduce the water,
which filled the shaft so rapidly that no greater depth could be
obtained than eighteen feet, and even this at immense labor.
The diggers were absolutely penniless, and but for assistance
received from private parties they must have starved. The rainy
season was at its height, and torrents fell night and day with
little intermission. Still, these poor little fellows worked
early and late, wet and dry, ever sanguine of success, and they
at length petitioned the Government to give them the means of
subsistence for a few months - "subsistence" for two men, and the
assistance of a few coolies. This was refused, and the reply
stated that the government intended to leave the search for gold
to "private enterprise." No reward was offered for its discovery
as in other colonies, but the governor would leave it to "private
enterprise." A promising enterprise truly, when every landholder
in Ceylon, on referring to his title-deeds, observes the
reservation of all precious metals to the crown. This is a fair
sample of the narrow-minded, selfish policy of a government
which, in endeavoring to save a little, loses all; a miserable
tampering with the public in attempting to make a cat's paw of
How has this ended? The diggers left the island in disgust. If
the gold is there in quantity, there in quantity it remains to
the present time, unsought for. The subject of gold is so
generally interesting, and in this case of such importance to the
colony, that, believing as I do that it does exist in large
quantities, I must claim the reader's patience in going into this
subject rather fully.
Let us take the matter as it stands.
The reader will remember that I mentioned at an early part of
these pages that gold was first discovered in Ceylon by the
diggers in the bed of a stream near Kandy - that they
subsequently came to Newera Ellia, and there discovered gold
It must be remembered that the main features of the country at
Newera Ellia and the vicinity are broad flats or swampy plains,
surrounded by hills and mountains: the former covered with rank
grass and intersected by small streams, the latter covered with
dense forest. The soil abounds with rocks of gneiss and quartz,
some of the latter rose-color, some pure white. The gold has
hitherto been found in the plains only. These plains extend over
some thirty miles of country, divided into numerous patches by
The surface soil is of a peaty nature, perfectly black, soapy
when wet, and as light as soot when dry; worthless for
cultivation. This top soil is about eighteen inches thick, and
appears to have been the remains of vegetable matter washed down
from the surrounding hills and forests.
This swampy black soil rests upon a thin stratum of brownish
clay, not more than a few inches thick, which, forming a second
layer, rests in its turn upon a snow white rounded quartz gravel
intermixed with white pipe-clay.
This contains gold, every shovelful of earth producing, when
washed, one or more specks of the precious metal.
The stratum of rounded quartz is about two feet thick, and is
succeeded by pipe-clay, intermixed with quartz gravel, to a depth
of eighteen feet. Here another stratum of quartz gravel is met
with, perfectly water-worn and rounded to the size of a
In this stratum the gold was of increased size, and some pieces
were discovered as large as small grains of rice; but no greater
depth was attained at the time Of writing than to this stratum,
viz., eighteen feet from the surface.
No other holes were sunk to a greater depth than ten feet, on
account of the influx of water, but similar shafts were made in
various places, and all with equal success.
>From the commencement of the first stratum of quartz throughout
to the greatest depth attained gold was present.
Upon washing away the clay and gravel, a great number of gems of
small value remained (chiefly sapphire, ruby, jacinth and green
tourmaline). These being picked out, there remained a jet-black
fine sand, resembling gunpowder. This was of great specific
gravity, and when carefully washed, discovered the gold - some in
grains, some in mere specks, and some like fine, golden flour.
At this interesting stage the search has been given up: although
the cheering sight of gold can be obtained in nearly every pan of
earth at such trifling depths, and literally in every direction,
the prospect is abandoned. The government leaves it to private
enterprise, but the enterprising public have no faith in the
Without being over-sanguine, or, on the other side, closing our
cars with asinine stubbornness, let us take an impartial view of
the facts determined, and draw rational conclusions.
It appears that from a depth of two and a half feet from the
surface to the greatest depth as yet attained (eighteen feet),
gold exists throughout.
It also appears that this is not only the case in one particular
spot, but all over this part of the country, and that this fact
is undeniable; and, nevertheless, the government did not believe
in the existence of gold in Ceylon until these diggers discovered
it; and when discovered, they gave the diggers neither reward nor
encouragement, but they actually met the discovery by a published
prohibition against the search; they then latterly withdrew the
prohibition and left it to private enterprise, but neglected the
unfortunate diggers. In this manner is the colony mismanaged; in
this manner is all public spirit damped, all private enterprise
checked, and all men who have anything to venture disgusted.
The liberality of a government must be boundless where the actual
subsistence for a few months is refused to the discoverers of
gold in a country where, hitherto, its presence had been denied.
It would be speculative to anticipate the vast changes that in
extended discovery would effect in such a colony as Ceylon. We
have before us the two pictures of California and Australia,
which have been changed as though by the magician's wand within
the last few years. It becomes us now simply to consider the
probability of the gold being in such quantities in Ceylon as to
effect such changes. We have it present these simple data - that
in a soft, swampy soil gold has been found close to the surface
in small specks, gradually increasing in size and quantity as a
greater depth has been attained.
>From the fact that gold will naturally lie deep, from its
specific gravity, it is astonishing that any vestige of such a
metal should be discovered in such soil so close to the surface.
Still more astonishing that it should be so generally
disseminated throughout the locality. This would naturally be
accepted as a proof that the soil is rich in gold. But the
question will then arise, Where is the gold? The quantities found
are a mere nothing - it is only dust: we want "nuggets."
The latter is positively the expression that I myself frequently
heard in Ceylon - "We want nuggets."
Who does not want nuggets? But people speak of "nuggets" as they
would of pebbles, forgetting that the very principle which keeps
the light dust at the surface has forced the heavier gold to a
greater depth, and that far from complaining of the lack of
nuggets when digging has hardly commenced, they should gaze with
wonder at the bare existence of the gold in its present form and
The diggings at Ballarat are from a hundred to an hundred and
sixty feet deep in hard ground, and yet people in Ceylon expect
to find heavy gold in mere mud, close to the surface. The idea
is preposterous, and I conceive it only reasonable to infer from
the present appearances that gold does exist in large quantities
in Ceylon. But as it is reasonable to suppose such to be the
case, so it is unreasonable to suppose that private individuals
will invest capital in so uncertain a speculation as mining
without facilities from the government, and in the very face of
the clause in their own title-deeds "that all precious metals
belong to the crown."
This is the anomalous position of the gold in Ceylon under the
governorship of Sir G. Anderson.
Nevertheless, it becomes a question whether we should blame the
man or the system, but the question arises in this case, as with
everything else in which government is concerned, "Where is the
fault?" "Echo answers 'Where?'" But the public are not satisfied
with echoes, and in this matter-of-fact age people look to those
who fill ostensible posts and draw bona fide salaries; and if
these men hold the appointments, no matter under what system,
they become the deserved objects of either praise or censure.
Thus it may appear too much to say that Sir G. Anderson is liable
for the mismanagement of the colony in toto -for the total
neglect of the public roads. It may appear too much to say, When
you came to the colony you found the roads in good order: they
are now impassable; communication is actually cut off from places
of importance. This is your fault, these are the fruits of your
imbecility; your answer to our petitions for repairs was, "There
is no money;" and yet at the close of the year you proclaimed and
boasted of a saving of twenty-seven thousand pounds in the
treasury! This seems a fearful contradiction; and the whole
public received it as such. The governor may complain that the
public expect too much; the public may complain that the governor
does too little.
Upon these satisfactory terms, governors and their dependants bow
each other out, the colony being a kind of opera stall, a
reserved seat for the governor during the performance of five
acts (as we will term his five years of office); and the fifth
act, as usual in tragedies, exposes the whole plot of the
preceding four, and winds up with the customary disasters.
Now the question is, how long this age of misrule will last.
Every one complains, and still every one endures. Each man has a
grievance, but no man has a remedy. Still, the absurdity of our
colonial appointments is such that if steps were purposely taken
to ensure the destruction of the colonies, they could not have
been more certain.
We will commence with a new governor dealt out to a colony. We
will simply call him a governor, not troubling ourselves with his
qualifications, as of course they have not been considered at the
Colonial Office. He may be an upright, clear-headed,
indefatigable man, in the prime of life, or he may be old,
crotchety, pigheaded, and mentally and physically incapable. He
may be either; it does not much matter, as he can only remain for
five years, at which time his term expires.
We will suppose that the crotchety old gentleman arrives first.
The public will be in a delightful perplexity as to what the new
governor will do - whether he will carry out the views of his
predecessor, or whether he will upset everything that has been
done in the past five years; all is uncertainty. The only thing
known positively is, that, good or bad, he will pocket seven
thousand a year!* *[since reduced to five thousand pounds].
His term of government will be chequered by many disappointments
to the public, and, if he has any feeling at all, by many
heartburnings to himself. Physically incapable of much
exertion, he will be unable to travel over so wild a country as
Ceylon. A good governor in a little island may be a very bad
governor in a large island, as a good cab-driver might make a bad
four-in hand man; thus our old governor would have no practical
knowledge of the country, but would depend upon prejudiced
accounts for his information. Thus he would never arrive at any
correct information; he would receive all testimony with doubt,
considering that each had some personal motive in offering
advice, and one tongue would thus nullify the other until he
should at length come to the conclusion of David in his haste,
"that all men are liars," and turn a deaf ear to all. This would
enable him to pass the rest of his term without any active
blunders, and he might vary the passive monotony of his existence
by a system of contradiction to all advice gratis. A little
careful pruning of expenses during the last two years of his term
might give a semblance of increase oŁ revenue over expenditure,
to gain a smile from the Colonial Office. On his return the
colony would be left with neglected roads, consequent upon the
withdrawal of the necessary funds.
This incubus at length removed from the colony, may be succeeded
by a governor of the first class.
He arrives; finds everything radically wrong; the great arteries
of the country (the roads) in disorder; a large outlay required
to repair them. Thus his first necessary act begins by an outlay
at a time when all outlay is considered equivalent to crime.
This gains him a frown from the Colonial Office. Conscious of
right, however, he steers his own course; he travels over the
whole country, views its features personally, judges of its
requirements and resources, gathers advice from capable persons,
forms his own opinion, and acts accordingly.
We will allow two years of indefatigable research to have passed
over our model governor; by that time, and not before, he may
have become thoroughly conversant with the colony in all its
bearings. He has comprehended the vast natural capabilities, he
has formed his plans methodically for the improvement of the
country; not by any rash and speculative outlay, but, step by
step, he hopes to secure the advancement of his schemes.
This is a work of time; he has much to do. The country is in an
uncivilized state; he sees the vestiges of past grandeur around
him, and his views embrace a wide field for the renewal of former
prosperity. Tanks must be repaired, canals reopened, emigration
of Chinese and Malabars encouraged, forests and jungles cleared,
barren land brought into fertility. The work of years is before
him, but the expiration of his term draws near. Time is
precious, but nevertheless he must refer his schemes to the
Colonial Office. What do they know of Ceylon? To them his plans
seem visionary; at all events they will require an outlay. A
correspondence ensues - that hateful correspondence! This ensures
delay. Time flies; the expiration of his term draws near. Even
his sanguine temperament has ceased to hope; his plans are not
even commenced, to work out which would require years; he never
could see them realized, and his successor might neglect them and
lay the onus of the failure upon him, the originator, or claim
the merit of their success.
So much for a five years' term of governorship, the absurdity of
which is superlative. It is so entirely contrary to the system
of management in private affairs that it is difficult to imagine
the cause that could have given rise to such a regulation. In
matters great or small, the capability of the manager is the
first consideration; and if this be proved, the value of the man
is enhanced accordingly; no employer would lose him.
But in colonial governments the system is directly opposite, for
no sooner does the governor become competent than he is withdrawn
and transferred to another sphere. Thus every colony is like a
farm held on a short lease, which effectually debars it from
improvement, as the same feeling which actuates the individual in
neglecting the future, because he will not personally enjoy the
fruits of his labor, must in some degree fetter the enterprise of
a five years' governor. He is little better than the Lord Mayor,
who flutters proudly for a year, and then drops his borrowed
feathers in his moulting season.
Why should not governors serve an apprenticeship for five years
as colonial secretaries to the colonies they are destined for, if
five years is still to be the limited term of their office? This
would ensure a knowledge of the colony at a secretary's salary,
and render them fit for both the office and salary of governor
when called upon; whereas, by the present system, they at once
receive a governor's salary before they understand their duties.
In casually regarding the present picture of Ceylon, it is hard
to say which point has been most neglected; but a short
residence in the island will afford a fair sample of government
inactivity in the want of education among the people.
Upon this subject more might be said than lies in my province to
dwell upon; nevertheless, after fifty years' possession of the
Kandian districts, this want is so glaring that I cannot withhold
a few remarks upon the subject, as I consider the ignorant state
of the native population a complete check to the advancement of
In commencing this subject, I must assume that the conquerors of
territory are responsible for the moral welfare of the
inhabitants; therefore our responsibility increases with our
conquests. A mighty onus thus rests upon Great Britain, which
few consider when they glory in the boast, "that the sun never
sets upon her dominions."
This thought leads us to a comparison of power between ourselves
and other countries, and we trace the small spot upon the world's
map which marks our little island, and in every sphere we gaze
with wonder at our vast possessions. This is a picture of the
present. What will the future be in these days of advancement?
It were vain to hazard a conjecture; but we can look back upon
the past, and build upon this foundation our future hopes.
When the pomps and luxuries of Eastern cities spread throughout
Ceylon, and millions of inhabitants fed on her fertility, when
the hands of her artists chiseled the figures of her gods from
the rude rock, when her vessels, laden with ivory and spices,
traded with the West, what were we? A forest-covered country,
peopled by a fierce race of savages clad in skins, bowing before
druidical idolatry, paddling along our shores in frames of
wickerwork and hide.
The ancient deities of Ceylon are in the same spots, unchanged;
the stones of the Druids stand unmoved; but what has become of
the nations? Those of the East have faded away and their strength
has perished. Their ships are crumbled; the rude canoe glides
over their waves; the spices grow wild in their jungles; and,
unshorn and unclad, the inhabitants wander on the face of the
Is it "chance" that has worked this change? Where is the
forest-covered country and its savage race, its skin-clad
warriors and their frail coracles?
There, where the forest stood, from north to south and from east
to west, spreads a wide field of rich fertility. There, on those
rivers where the basket-boats once sailed, rise the taut spars of
England's navy. Where the rude hamlet rested on its banks in
rural solitude, the never-weary din of commerce rolls through the
city of the world. The locomotive rushes like a thunder-clap
upon the rail; the steamer ploughs against the adverse wind, and,
rapid as the lightning, the telegraph cripples time. The once
savage land is the nucleus of the arts and civilization. The
nation that from time to time was oppressed, invaded, conquered,
but never subjected, still pressed against the weight of
adversity, and, as age after age rolled on, and mightier woes and
civil strife gathered upon her, still the germ of her destiny, as
it expanded, threw off her load, until she at length became a
nation envied and feared.
It was then that the powers of the world were armed against her,
and all Europe joined to tear the laurels from her crown, and
fleets and armies thronged from all points against the devoted
land, and her old enemy, the Gaul, hovered like his own eagle
over the expected prey.
The thunder of the cannon shook the world, and blood tinged the
waves around the land, and war and tumult shrieked like a tempest
over the fair face of Nature; the din of battle smothered all
sounds of peace, and years passed on and thicker grew the gloom.
It was then the innate might of the old Briton roused itself to
action and strained those giant nerves which brought us victory.
The struggle was past, and as the smoke of battle cleared from
the surface of the world, the flag of England waved in triumph on
the ocean, her fleets sat swan-like on the waves, her standard
floated on the strongholds of the universe, and far and wide
stretched the vast boundaries of her conquests.
Again I ask, is this the effect of "chance?" or is it the mighty
will of Omnipotence, which, choosing his instruments from the
humbler ranks, has snatched England from her lowly state, and has
exalted her to be the apostle of Christianity throughout the
Here lies her responsibility. The conquered nations are in her
hands; they have been subject to her for half a century, but they
know neither her language nor her religion.
How many millions of human beings of all creeds and colors does
she control? Are they or their descendants to embrace our faith?
- that is, I are we the divine instrument for accomplishing the
vast change that we expect by the universal acknowledgement of
Christianity? or are we - I pause before the suggestion - are we
but another of those examples of human insignificance, that, as
from dust we rose, so to dust we shall return? shall we be but
another in the long list of nations whose ruins rest upon the
solitudes of Nature, like warnings to the proud cities which
triumph in their strength? Shall the traveler in future ages
place his foot upon the barren sod and exclaim, "Here stood their
The inhabitants of Nineveh would have scoffed at such a
supposition. And yet they fell, and yet the desert sand shrouded
their cities as the autumn leaves fall on the faded flowers of
To a fatalist it can matter but little whether a nation fulfills
its duty, or whether, by neglecting it, punishment should be
drawn down upon its head. According to his theory, neither good
nor evil acts would alter a predestined course of events. There
are apparently fatalist governments as well as individuals,
which, absorbed in the fancied prosperity of the present,
legislate for temporal advantages only.
Thus we see the most inconsistent and anomalous conditions
imposed in treaties with conquered powers; we see, for instance,
in Ceylon, a protection granted to the Buddhist religion, while
flocks of missionaries are sent out to convert the heathen. We
even stretch the point so far as to place a British sentinel on
guard at the Buddhist temple in Kandy, as though in mockery of
our Protestant church a hundred paces distant.
At the same time that we acknowledge and protect the Buddhist
religion, we pray that Christianity shall spread through the
whole world; and we appoint bishops to our colonies at the same
time we neglect the education of the inhabitants.
When I say we neglect the education I do not mean to infer that
there are no government schools, but that the education of the
people, instead of being one of the most important objects of the
government, is considered of so little moment that it is
tantamount to neglected.
There are various opinions as to the amount of learning which
constitutes education, and at some of the government schools the
native children are crammed with useless nonsense, which, by
raising them above their natural position, totally unfits them
for their proper sphere. This is what the government calls
education; and the same time and expense thus employed in
teaching a few would educate treble the number in plain English.
It is too absurd to hear the arguments in favor of mathematics,
geography, etc., etc., for the native children, when a large
proportion of our own population in Great Britain can neither
read nor write.
The great desideratum in native education is a thorough knowledge
of the English tongue, which naturally is the first stone for any
superstructure of more extended learning. This brings them
within the reach of the missionary, not only in conversation, but
it enables them to benefit by books, which are otherwise useless.
It lessens the distance between the white man and the black, and
an acquaintance with the English language engenders a taste for
English habits. The first dawn of civilization commences with a
knowledge of our language. The native immediately adopts some
English customs and ideas, and drops a corresponding number of
his own. In fact, he is a soil fit to work up on, instead of
being a barren rock as hitherto, firm in his own ignorance and
In the education of the rising native generation lies the hope of
ultimate conversion. You may as well try to turn pitch into snow
as to eradicate the dark stain of heathenism from the present
race. Nothing can be done with them; they must be abandoned like
the barren fig-tree, and the more attention bestowed upon the
But, unfortunately, this is a popular error, and, like all such,
one full of prejudice. Abandon the present race! Methinks I hear
the cry from Exeter Hall. But the good people at home have no
idea to what an extent they are at present, and always have been,
abandoned. Where the children who can be educated with success
are neglected at the present day, it may be imagined that the
parents have been but little cared for; thus, in advocating their
abandonment, it is simply proposing an extra amount of attention
to be bestowed upon the next generation.
There are many large districts of Ceylon where no schools of any
kind are established. In the Ouva country, which is one of the
most populous, I have had applications from the natives, begging
me to interest myself in obtaining some arrangement of the kind.
Throngs of natives applied, describing the forlorn condition of
their district, all being not only anxious to send their children
to some place where they could learn free of expense, but
offering to pay a weekly stipend in return. "They are growing up
as ignorant as our young buffaloes," was a remark made by one of
the headmen of the villages, and this within twelve miles of
Now, leaving out the question of policy in endeavoring to make
the language of our own country the common tongue of a conquered
colony, it must be admitted that, simply as a question of duty,
it is incumbent upon the government to do all in its power for
the moral advancement of the native population. It is known that
the knowledge of our language is the first step necessary to this
advancement, and nevertheless it is left undone; the population
is therefore neglected.
I have already adverted to the useless system in the government
schools of forcing a superabundant amount of knowledge into the
children's brains, and thereby raising them above their position.
A contrasting example of good common-sense education has recently
been given by the Rev. Mr. Thurston (who is indefatigable in his
profession) in the formulation of an industrial school at
This is precisely the kind of education which is required; and it
has already been attended with results most beneficial on its
This school is conducted on the principle that the time of every
boy shall not only be of service to himself, but shall likewise
tend to the support of the establishment. The children are
accordingly instructed in such pursuits as shall be the means of
earning a livelihood in future years: some are taught a trade,
others are employed in the cultivation of gardens, and
subsequently in the preparation of a variety of produce. Among
others, the preparation of tapioca from the root of the manioc
has recently been attended with great success. In fact, they are
engaged during their leisure hours in a variety of experiments,
all of which tend to an industrial turn of mind, benefiting not
only the lad and the school, but also the government, by
preparing for the future men who will be serviceable and
industrious in their station.
Here is a lesson for the government which, if carried out on an
extensive scale, would work a greater change in the colony within
the next twenty years than all the preaching of the last fifty.
Throughout Ceylon, in every district, there should be established
one school upon this principle for every hundred boys, and a
small tract of land granted to each. One should be attached to
the botanical gardens at Peredenia, and instruction should be
given to enable every school to perform its own experiments in
agriculture. By this means, in the course of a few years we
should secure an educated and useful population, in lieu of the
present indolent and degraded race: an improved system of
cultivation, new products, a variety of trades, and, in fact, a
test of the capabilities of the country would be ensured, without
risk to the government, and to the ultimate prosperity of the
colony. Heathenism could not exist in such a state of affairs;
it would die out. Minds exalted by education upon such a system
would look with ridicule upon the vestiges of former idolatry,
and the rocky idols would remain without a worshiper, while a new
generation flocked to the Christian altar.
This is no visionary prospect. It has been satisfactorily proved
that the road to conversion to Christianity is through knowledge,
and this once attained, heathenism shrinks into the background.
This knowledge can only be gained by the young when such schools
are established as I have described.
Our missionaries should therefore devote their attention to this
object, and cease to war against the impossibility of adult
conversion. If one-third of the enormous sums hitherto expended
with little or no results upon missionary labor had been employed
in the establishments as proposed, our colonies would now possess
a Christian population. But are our missionaries capable? Here
commences another question, which again involves others in their
turn, all of which, when answered, thoroughly explain the
stationary, if not retrograde, position of the Protestant Church
among the heathen.
What is the reader's conceived opinion of the duties and labors
of a missionary in a heathen land? Does he, or does he not
imagine, as he pays his subscription toward this object, that the
devoted missionary quits his native shores, like one of the
apostles of old, to fight the good fight? that he leaves all to
follow "Him?" and that he wanders forth in his zeal to propagate
the gospel, penetrating into remote parts, preaching to the
natives, attending on the sick, living a life of hardship and
It is a considerable drawback to this belief in missionary labor
when it is known that the missionaries are not educated for the
particular colonies to which they are sent; upon arrival, they
are totally ignorant of the language of the natives, accordingly,
they are perfectly useless for the purpose of "propagating the
gospel among the heathen." Their mission should be that of
instructing the young, and for this purpose they should first be
I do not wish to throw a shade upon the efforts of missionary
labor; I have no doubt that they use great exertions privately,
which the public on the spot do not observe; but taking this for
granted as the case, the total want of success in the result
becomes the more deplorable. I have also no doubt that the
missionaries penetrate into the most remote parts of Ceylon and
preach the gospel. For many years I have traversed the
wildernesses of Ceylon at all hours and at all seasons. I have
met many strange things during my journeys, but I never recollect
having met a missionary. The bishop of Colombo is the only man I
know who travels out of the high road for this purpose; and he,
both in this and many other respects, offers an example which few
appear to follow.
Nevertheless, although Protestant missionaries are so rare in the
jungles of the interior, and, if ever there, no vestige ever
remains of such a visit, still, in spots where it might be least
expected, may be seen the humble mud hut, surmounted by a cross,
the certain trace of some persevering priest of the Roman faith.
These men display an untiring zeal, and no point is too remote
for their good offices. Probably they are not so comfortable in
their quarters in the towns as the Protestant missionaries, and
thus they have less hesitation in leaving home.
The few converts that have been made are chiefly Roman Catholics,
as among the confusion arising from our multitudinous sects and
schisms the native is naturally bewildered. What with High
Church, Low Church, Baptists, Wesleyans, Presbyterians, etc.,
etc., etc., the ignorant native is perfectly aghast at the
variety of choice.
With the members of our Church in such a dislocated state,
progression cannot be expected by simple attempts at conversion;
even were the natives willing to embrace the true faith, they
would have great difficulty in finding it amidst the crowd of
adverse opinions. Without probing more deeply into these social
wounds, I must take leave of the missionary labors in Ceylon,
trusting that ere long the eyes of the government will be fixed
upon the true light to guide the prosperity of the island by
framing an ordinance for the liberal education of the people.
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