2 AUGUST 1834, Page 16


CEYLON, in official parlance, is called a British colony ; although it has a tolerably authentic native history, which goes back four- and-twenty centuries, or to a period corresponding with the age of CYRUS and of CONFUCIUS, and with the sixtieth Olympiad. This is a trille,—we do not expect accuracy of scientific classification in the public offices; so we let the matter pass, simply observing that the island of Ceylon is literally a conquered province, of which the native inhabitants are excluded front every public trust of the smallest responsibility, and whose obedience is secured by the grand instrument of authority in such cases, the bayonet. We shall describe this conquered country briefly ; and a work now before us, called The Ceylon Almanac and Compendium of Useful Information, for the year 1834,* published at Colombo, will enable us to do it with sonic novelty. The little work referred to, indeed, abounds in useful information, much of it drawn from

very authentic sources. Ceylon lies between the 6th and 10th degrees of North latitude;

and is completely exposed to the influence of the north-east and south-west monsoons. It is separated from the main-land of Hin- dostan by a broad strait, not narrower anywhere than sixty miles, but interspersed with islands, rocks, and shoals, so as to leave but a very narrow navigable passage, and this only for craft not ex- ceeding 100 tons burden. Indeed, at low-water, there are few parts of the whole channel that may not be waded across. The area of the island is 24,664 square miles; that is, it is less than half the size of Java, and about 2000 square miles larger than Hayti. It is divided into seventeen civil subdivisions or districts ; nine of which belong to the maritime or old conquered provinces, and eight to the interior or Kandyan provinces. The total popu- • Transmitted with the Almanac for 1833. by a correspondent ; who judged from the Spectator's attention to Statistics, that we might be inclined to examine the work as a curiosity, and lay some of the results before our readers. The text shows the light in which a perusal of the Almanac. comparing it with other authorities, has led us to view the subject ; and this note explains how we come to have taken CZYLON as a topic of present consideration. lation, including about 10,000 resident strangers, amounts, in round numbers, to a million; giving about 40 inhabitants to the

square mile. This is a wretched population for a country boasting of such antiquity ; and if positive proof.; did not exist in abundance of bad government and barbarism, they might safely be inferred from this simple fact alone. The density of population here given for Ceylon, is just one fifth part of that of the British provinces in Bengal, and a good deal less than one half of that of the provinces adjacent to it under Madras. Even the population of the Negro republic of Hayti— strictly a colony—although peopled by Afri- cans and of comparatively recent establishment, exceeds it by 5 to the square mile. This ought not to have been the case in a coons try which for almost forty years has been a British possession, and which for a century and a half before had been occupied by another free European nation. By both these nations, however, the same false policy has been pursued throughout; and the results are, a scanty population, poverty, and barbarism.

The soil of Ceylon is not rich either in agricultural or mineral productions. The country is mountainous; many of the highest hills rising to the height of 8000 or 9000 feet. In the interior, besides these mountains, the land is composed of a congeries of lower hills or mountain elevations, leaving few vallies of any ex- tent between them; and among these, none composed of those fer- tile alluvial lands which are found in other mountainous countries, such as Java, St. Domingo, Cuba, and Italy. On the Northern and Western shores, there are sonic extensive low-lands, consist- ing for the most part of sterile plains of sheer sand. A country formed like Ceylon, and situated within the tropics, can only be rendered fertile by the application of capital to extensive and costly works of irrigation; and the bad forms el government, which have ever reigned in this island, have denied that advantage in any permanent and comprehensive extent. However, the occasional remains of tanks and water-courses upon a large scale, show prac- tically its capacity for improvement, and are an evidence of the extent to which such improvement may be carried under a just administration.

The people of Ceylon, with so scanty a population as has been described, have in all authentic times been unable to raise for themselves a sufficient supply of food. The Dutch furnished them with supplies from .lava, a country with three times as dense a population as their own ; and they are now furnished from the neighbouring country of Tanjore, having a population of more than six times the density of Ceylon, and where grain is raised through artificial irrigation only. So much for the effect of mo- nopolies, and of other oppressive and grievous forms of taxation, In 1832 (and the amount is nearly the average of former years), there were imported into Ceylon somewhere about 150,000 quar- ters of corn; which, allowing a quarter for the consumption of each individual of all ages, shows that the same number of inhabitants— between a sixth and, a seventh of the whole population—teas fed on imported corn. What is a prodigious aggravation of this evil is, that the corn, when exported from the territories of the East India Company, is heavily taxed, and again still more heavily taxed upon importation by the King's Government. A people thus treated, are virtually reduced to the condition of labouring serfs of the meanest order ; and such in fact is the situation of the poor and helpless Cingalese. In their physical and moral character, they are feeble, effeminate, apathetic, and for the most part eminently deficient in bodily strength, activity, mental energy, and enterprise; and this, not in comparison with the European standard, but even with the standard of the more civilized nations of Asia : for they are not only inferior to the Chinese and Arabs, but to almost all races of the Hindoos—nay, even to the ruder nations which lie between Hindostan and China, and the most elevated of the nations inhabiting the Eastern Archipelago. No European nation has ever thought of employine them, as other Asiatics are employed, in a military capacity ; and even the contractors and divers engaged in the pearl-fishery on their own coasts are natives of the opposite shore of India. But we come now to the question of the government which has produced these effects, as it is administered in a milder form under the sway of Great Britain, and after considerable ameliorations. The total fixed and incidental revenue of Ceylon for the year 1833 amounted to 369,4371. 17s. Id. This is at the rate of above is. per bead,—which is more than 2s. beyond the rate of taxation throughout the whole British territories in Hindostan, and within 3s.of that of Ireland. This, however, extravagant as it may seen, is not the fair way of considering the rate of taxation : the poverty, indolence, and ignorance of' the people taxed, must be considered; and when this is done, little doubt will exist but that the imposts borne by the people of Ceylon are among the heaviest, if um the very heaviest, borne by any people in the wide world. Let us observe upon some of the items of the Ceylon revenue. The first is the cinnamon monopoly, as it existed in 1832. This's stated at above 147,0001.; which, however, is above 40,0001. more than that of the previous year. The monopoly has been since abolished by orders from England; but in room of it, there has

been substituted a fixed duty of 3s. per pound, which is not quite so

pernicious as the monopoly, but nearly so. The pretext for this impolitic duty is, that it is paid by the consumers, and that these consumers are foreigners. This is not true, for some of the prin-

cipal consumers are Englishmen. In the next place, the duty .19 unequal; for some of the cinnamon is nearly twice as valuable in

quality as others; and the least valuable forms by far the largest quantity. The cost of producing cinnamon, in a free commerce, will

probably vary from 6d. to Is. per pound ; so that the rate of duties imposed will vary from GOO per cent. to 300 per cent. The inevi- table effect of this oppressive and injurious tax will be to restrict the consumption, to force the production of cinnamon in other countries, or to compel the consumer to substitute cassia for it,—a process which has been already going on very rapidly, so es to have reduced the produce of Ceylon from 1,000,000 of pounds a year to half that quantity. The revenue reckoned upon from this tax is calculated at from 75,000/. to 90,000/. a year; dearly bought, even if it could, which it will not, be realized, since Englishmen, or their Indian subjects, will contribute the greater part of it, and since a great portion of the remainder must fall upon the people of Ceylon in the shape of an oppressive restraint on industry. The next article of revenue consists of custom- duties : these are divided into sea-customs and transit-duties, and amount to nearly 70,000/. Not one rational word can be said in favour of transit-duties, in a country every inch of which is under a single sovereign, and sea-girt. The total value of ex- ports and imports, in 1S32, was 511,222/. : this, however, in- cludes the cinnamon, which pays no duty,—estimated at the enormous price of 7s. Gd. per pound, which happens to be a good deal mole than the highest price of the finest cinnamon in Eng- land, and nearly double the price of the lowest quality, which is also the greatest quantity ; a strange artifice for swelling out a cus- tomhouse-return. Even without including this, we have an ave- rage duty of 12.1; per cent. upon every article of import and export. The greater part of the 70,000/. is levied upon the food imported for the people, and upon the rags with which they cover their nakedness,—for they are too poor and too rude to have any consi- derable domestic manufactures cf their own. The next consider- able article of the Ceylon revenues is derived from monopolies, exclusive of those of cinnamon and pearls. These are stated in the official return under the gentle and unpretending name of "salt" and " licences." The salt monopoly (and a rigorous one it is) amounts to nearly 25,000/. a year. Salt in Ceylon is al- most formed by nature, and nearly as cheap as the earth or sand of the country ; but the monopoly is of course the bane of all foreign trade in this article, and consequently none exists. We understand that the present Government of Ceylon, with a view ofswelling the Colonial revenue, has been importuning the Colo- nial Office for permission to sell the salt of Ceylon to the people of Bengal, at a monopoly price. The Government of Ceylon is wise in its generation, but they bad better leave this scheme alone. If the salt of Ceylon can be furnished cheaper to the people of Ben- gal in a free trade than any other salt, then let the people of Ben- gal have it, and it will be a boon to them; but let allother salt be admitted upon the same terms. We warn the Governor of Ceylon not to incur the displeasure of the manufacturers of Cheshireand of the merchants of Liverpool; for he will find them more hard to deal with than the Wedderattes, with their tribute of 1041.4s.

or the Afters, Dessaves, and Madegey Mohandirams of the re- doubted kingdom of Kandy. The " licences" are all monopolies, or privileges for carrying on particular trades and occupations ; and are worthy of death by the most expeditious possible process. The pearl-fishery affords a precarious and inconsiderable revenue. In 1831, its gross amount was 28,332/., and the next year it dropped down to 3837/.; on the average of twenty years, it would not appear that this vaunted and specious tax had even paid its own expenses. Taxation in Ceylon seems to extend pretty nearly to every thing " in the earth beneath or in the waters under the earth." In accordance with this very comprehensive principle, there is a tax on " all fish, be it fresh or salt ; " the amount of which borders on 7000/. per annum. Of course there are stamp- duties, in a colony two centuries in possession of the Dutch and English, the inventors and improvers of this notable impost. The poverty of the Cingalese, however, makes the stamps but a small affair,—viz. about 2700/. The " taxes on justice' are more re- spectable,—we mean in amount, for they exceed 10,000/. They

are inserted under the modest name of " judicial receipts ; " but consist of institution fees, mulcts, et id genus omne. There arc

some items in the Ceylon ways and means, so paltry that they

seem only to have been named in order to proclaim the rapacity of the Government,—such as plumbago, 21/. 18s. 4d.; chunks (a species of univalve shell), 21/. 17s.; and elephants' tusks, 131. 17s. 4",d.; with a sum of 104/. 4s. 9Ld., dignified with the name of tribute from the Wedderatte, but which in fact consists

of the proceeds of a little wild honey and wax, exacted as tax from some wretched half-savages that wander in the forests of Ceylon. Among the items of the revenue, we find two which it is clear have no business there,—namely, " premium on the sale of bills," amounting to nearly 5000/. sterling ; and "receipts in aid of revenue," exceeding 25,000/. The last seem to be bills drawn on the English Treasury ; and the first an unfair profit Pocketed by the Ceylon Government on English bills drawn at a rate of exchange unfavourable to England. Here let us pause for a week. There is still more to be said in regard to the actual condition of Ceylon; and we have some hints to cffa- towards its future improvement.