by Samuel White Baker
EIGHT years' wanderings in Ceylon have created a love for this beautiful island which can only be equaled by my affection for Old England from which the independence of a wild life, combined with an infatuation for rambling into every unvisited nook and corner, sentenced me to a term of voluntary exile.
During this period my delight has been in tracing the great natural resources of the country, in observing the immense relics of its former prosperity, and contrasting the past grandeur and energy of an extinct race with the apathetic and selfish polity of our present system.
It is the false economy of our present government to leave untested the actual capabilities of its possessions. Thus, while Ceylon remains with ruined tanks, deserted cities and vast tracts uncultivated rice-lands, India, governed by the. Company, is advancing in cultivation.* New tanks are formed, new canals for irrigation penetrate through hitherto barren jungles, and arouse the soil to fertility. In fact, the vigilant eye of the Company is directed to the true resources. of the country, and every acre of. available land must yield its proportion to the revenue.
Without the statistical details which would render a de scription `laborious to the general reader, I shall endeavor to give an impartial picture of Ceylon as it is, touching lightly upon the past, in order to prove the possibility of improvement for the future. Having given an account of the sports of the country in the "Rifle and Hound," I shall not dwell at too great length upon this topic, how tempting soever it may be.
In these days, when the enterprise of Englishmen is exhibited on so large a scale by the stream of emigration to foreign shores, a few hints may not be uninteresting to the intending settler. We are all more or less sanguine, and, if unguided by the experience of age, we are apt to paint the future too brightly. This is an error which entails disappointment and regret upon the hasty emigrant, who may discover, when far from his deserted home, that the paradise which he had pictured to himself is but earthly after all, and is accompanied by drawbacks and hardships which he had not anticipated.
It is not every temperament that is fitted for the anxieties of a wild life in a strange land. This many persons who have left England confident in their own strength have discovered, unfortunately, when too late.
Englishmen, however, are naturally endowed with a spirit of adventure. There is in the heart of all of us a germ of freedom which longs to break through the barriers that confine us to our own shores; and as the newborn wildfowl takes to water from its deserted egg-shell, so we wander over the world when launched on our own resources.
This innate spirit of action is the mainspring of the power of England. Go where you will, from north to south and from east. to west, you meet an Englishman. Sail round the glob; and upon every point of strength the Union Jack gladdens your eye, and you think with wonder of the vast possessions which have been conquered, and the immense tracts of country which have been peopled, by the overflow of our little island.
Among the: list of possessions, Ceylon is but a speck; nevertheless the act of. settling in one colony is a fair sample of the general hardships of emigration. I shall therefore introduce a slight sketch of a settlement in Ceylon, which may give some insight into the little disappointments inseparable from a new enterprise. The reader will, I trust, wander with me in my rambles through this lovely country, and endeavor to pass an idle hour among the scenes portrayed.
* Since the, above was written, the government of India has been transferred from the East India Company to the Crown,