4 APRIL 1840, Page 15


MAJOR FORBES resided for eleven years (1826-1837) in Ceylon; filling various offices in addition to his military command—such as district Judge, and Superintendent of Elephant-hunting by the compulsory labour of a levy en masse. Having a passion for field- Bp,

orts he traversed many districts in pursuit of the game with which that thinly-peopled island abounds ; an admirer of the picturesque, he made several pilgrimages to scenes of' natural beauty or magnificence ; and gifted with a liberal curiosity, he studied the Cingalese language and manners. Stimulated, more-

over, by the example and conversation of Mr. TURNER, the Ceylon

antiquary, he investigated the ancient history of the island, and visited the sites of its principal cities ; tracing out ruins as exten- sive as those of Paris or London might be if abandoned for ages, and finding in the dense forests of the unhealthy and depopulated districts the fragments of towns and temples, apparently first de- caying with the national prosperity, then becoming pernicious to health from neglect of the works that drained the soil and an insufficiency of hands to cultivate it, and finally yielding to the luxuriant growth of tropical vegetation, which, in that climate of heat and moisture, soon overruns the land unless constantly resisted by labour. The result of so much opportunity, time, and industry, is a very valuable work ; full of interesting sketches of the scenery and wild sports of Ceylon, and of the character of its inhabitants. It contains besides, many striking indications of its former condition, given not with set purpose, but furnished incidentally in describing the me- morials of the past. There is also an account of the late altera- tions in the government of the colony, and of the rapid progress it is making in prosperity, in consequence of the abolition of com- pulsory services and other remains of an Indian feudal system. fhe curious, too, will hod a sufficient narrative of the successive wars of the Portuguese, Dutch, and English invaders; a chrono- logical resume of the ancient history of the island ; and a good many antiquarian descriptions and disquisitions. Valuable, however, as are the matter and style of the work, it would have been more attractive had it been set off by a better arrangement ; for the author mingles together topography, personal adventure, history, and archmology—from the religion of' Budhism and the legends of its votaries down to the description of ruined buildings. After a general introduction and an historical sketch, the Major proceeds to give an account of his first adventures in ele- phant-hunting. Anon he narrates a tour to Adam's Peak, cele- brated throughout the Mahomedan regions as the spot where our progenitor first set foot after his expulsion from Paradise. Then we are taken to the ruins of two ancient cities; after that to the pearl- fishery ; next we go on another shooting-excursion ; Kandian festivals film the succeeding topic ; then another tour ; then an- tiquities again ; and so on. Nor is this all : the Major frequently goes off at a tangent ; he will stop on the road to tell a story of monarch, minister, or noble, which, however good, is felt as lugged in by the head and shoulders ; strange to say, he will pause in the act or shooting, to narrate an anecdote, and then return to draw his trigger in short, his digressions are endless.

To such nu eetent does this dituinish the effect of his book, and, except to le rsole; who will undergo the labour of studying it, its utility, that in ease a new edition were called fur, we should recommend Major FORBES to remodel and in a certain sense to rewrite his volumes. In this case, the history, whether an- cient or medern, native or European, would stand all together in chronolegical order, instead of being scattered up and down in many places, without the least regard to time or method. The curious notices of the religious superstitions and festivals of the

Cingalcse would also appear in a connected ; as well as the descriptions of the diGrent antiquities the author surveyed. Tours of a topographical nature would likewise stand together ; and the text would be more clearly elucidated by a map. Journies distinguished by personal incident, sporting adventure, or in which Cingalese manners and character were illustrated by in- dividual anecdote, would fitly follow one another in the order of their occurrence ; and hither would be relegated the many notices of natural history, and the miscellaneous topics, with which the volumes of Major FORBES abound.

One oft he most striking points impressed by the work, is the num- ber and mischievous power of the wild beasts. Some diminution of crops is Ibmiliar enough to English flirmers, who live in the vicinity of a preserve, as well as injury to hen-roosts ; and one can readily conceive that heavy losses may occur to flocks and herds in countries where carnivorous animals are numerous. But in Ceylon, some districts are not cultivated by the natives on account of the num- ber of wild beasts, and almost everywhere they have to live in a constant state of war against their ravages ; the whole population of a village turning out to protect their fields against a drove of elephants, with shouts and drums and tom-toms by day, and, more successfully by night, with flaming torches in addition. A band of these animals destroy the whole agricultural hopes of a commu- nity with the promptness of human marauders. In Ceylon, therefore, an elephant is a public enemy ; and though, in many cases, the old system of compulsory labour must have been hurtful to all industry, yet, when employed in elephant- hunting, it can only be considered as a species of militia-levy,- unless the native chiefs and their European successors took care not to kill or capture so many as would lessen sport. At the head of one of these public establishments for limiting and train- ing elephants, and a keen sportsman to boot, Major FORBES'S opportunities for observing the animal were numerous, and his various sketches upon his favourite subject form one of the most graphic portions of the book. His experience, however, has led him to draw conclusions opposite to the general opinion as to the elephant's intelligence. " Bethre proceeding to describe the manner in which elephants are captured in Ceylon, 1 WWI offer a few observations (the result of my experience) on the characteristics of these animals. I think their intelligence or sagacity has been much overrated ; and that the merit of some of the most wonderful feats for which their intellect has got credit, ought to be set down to the weight of their unwieldy carcases, such as their throwing down and pulling up trees. or remov- ing timber, in which the tame ones are always directed by their keeper, who communieates his ideas upon the subject to them by means of an iron instru- ment resembling a boat-hook. The cocoa-nut trees which are thrown down by wild elephants, are upset by continual shaking, produced by pressing their beads against those plants which are least able to resist : but a goat will show more ingenuity, and contrive to reach leaves, or the top of such plants as he may covet, in (comparatively speaking) more difficult positions than can be done by an elephant. Their sparing the lives of human b. iligs, which from revious impressions I was at first inclined to consider as magnanimity, 1 soon earned to class as stupidity, with ignorance of their own paw r. and how to apply it ; for I have oftener sects them fail than succeed in their fierce but awk- ward attempts to kill persons completely in their power. Another circum- stance which assisted in cohvincing me that the instinct of the elephant is not of that superior order which is usually assigned to it, was the facility with which two halt-trained elephants were recaptured after they had escaped into the jungle; and I was then assured by the hunters, that, so far fans becoming more wary, such elephants as, after being partially or entirely trained, bad broken loose in the jungle, were easily retaken. They are fond of clambering on steep hills, and do not scitto slippery rocks, on which so clumsy an animal is neces- wally insecure. I have known three instances, in the Matale district, of ele- phants being killed by tkIling down precipices. " Elephants, although not preeminently sagacious, arc in general peculiarly docile; yet there is amongst them an endless variety in temper as well as in appearance, and sonic few arc found so sulky and outs actable as to he entirely useless. In all, the sense of smell is acute, and their hearing on a pm with that of other animals; but their sight is not quick, particularly in a bright light, which they generally avoid. On plain ground, their long step or shuffling trot does not exceed the speed of an active man; and I have known two in- stances of European gentlemen, who, in an open path, owed their escape to their speed exceeding that of a pursuing elephant ; heat, iu jungle. the pare Of an elephant is but little retarded by forcing through La ushus Laud so thick as to be impervious to man."

The description of the fortress-like snare, or. in the language of Ceylon sportsmen, the knurl, into which the wild elephants are driven or decoyed, does not greatly differ from that with which students of natural history are already familiar, except that Major FORBES is more minute and specific. The mode of capture has greater novelty, from its exactness and individual air.


The kraal being completed, and the people being arranged on as to surround the herd, driving is commenced b, tiring a few blank shots, followed by the rolling pattering sound of tom Stools and shouts from the beaters. On the large trees persons are stationed to give information of I he elephants' movements, and preventing their resting meler the shade ; for it the dij be dear, and the brushwood of a low size. it. is ti dicult to dislodge them from the pr, (cetion of a threst-tree with thick folia:e. 4) two occasions I witnessed men, thus sta- tioned. limo' themselves it n from a branch (hut of w bith they still kept bold) upon the backs of oast elephants. and regain their posit ion in the tree, whilst the:min:As were and speedily dislodged Lc t loud shout. sharp goad, and unexpected deseelit of ['Rst w ateliers. V% hen the herd appreaclies near to the kraal, the deeovs, which are w it bout any trappn izs whateso, are taken in front ; and they following the keepers, who are 0n toot. hrCom, leaders to the wild ones, who, thus seduced, cutter into the snare, ,sidle the hunting tusk- elephants. being close on their track, more up, and the gate is fastened under their protection and by their assistance. At the same tine, the hunters spread thems, IttN around the fence, ready to resist the first efforts of the atimals; for, frightened by the tumult and enraged at their entrapment, they sometiales charge furiously at the barricades ; but are soon repelled by sharp sticks, blunt spears, and smoking brands.

Iii gencr.11. the violent excitement of the lenders of a berth on their entrap- ment is s silt 111 Cr., and the thole draw up with their heads in a line, in the thickest brushwood Ilan is 1% ithin their prison. Ocu asdinall, some one more valiant than the lest, after sarious scripts of his feet, hat ing duly elevated his trunk and sounded a charge. rushes l'orw ard as if irresistible : but a few pricks from spears ffireet ell against his feet and proboscis are sufficient to send the siEgle champion discomfited and sulky hack to his ranks. It is impos-ible to conevivc a more awkward Rpm' than nit elephant Chariling, with his great tri- angular cars set out like studding-sails from a huge head, in front of Which ascends the trunk like the funned of a steam-carriage. ei Idle the main body creates lumbering after, terminated by a half-cocked, scanty, scrubby tail. The tails of those els phants that inhabit thick jungles are usually fond denuded of hair, or witi but a few broken stumps near the extremity : when the hairs are thick, and seven or eight inches in length, they are used for forming bracelets and other ornaments ; and, being difficult to procure, are proportionably es- teemed.

Amidst the confusion of tongues and straining of voices by those employed about an elephant-kraal, the few notes of a Kandian pitv may be disthigoish-ed: this instrument is played for the purpose of SOOthing the captives. and seems to have some effect in rendering them tranquil. Nutldug appears to excite their anger so much as the barking of a dog, for I have know n a whole herd made furious by the yelping of a cur that had intruded into a kraal.

The opinion of Major Foicus.s is strongly in favor of the civili- zation and wealth of the ancient Cingalese : and, no doubt, the ruins of cities and the remains ot' roads and canals attest aver great know- ledge of mechanical power, and the means of appis fug both knowledge and compulsory labour to public purposes. It appears that, two thousand years ago, the natives used those expedients for procuring large granite pillars which have only been introduced into Britain within this century ; and at a period almost equally early, they were acquainted with the effect of non-conductors of lightning. But the positive extent, or rather the quality of civilization, is almost as difficult a question to determine as its origin. Not merely the East, but the whole world, so far as it has been dis- covered, Australasia excepted, displays traces of a remote and very advanced civilization, so far as it can be judged of by monu- mental remains, various implements, and in ninny cases by works of art. Throughout this wide range, (we know not whether North America and Siberia should be excepted,) the extinct people are found to have possessed some :means of conveying ideas by written signs; and we see that great numbers must have been capable of combining together for the purpose of attaining some single end— which has been held, by a competent judge, to be the true test of. civilization. Yet, from sonic defect of character, or institutions, or circumstances, they seem unable to have perpetuated their ad- vances in their own race, or to have transmitted them to another : and this is the real distinction between the European and the Ori- ental or American fanny. The Greeks, though yielding to the ,force of the Roman arms, exercised an by-hence over the minds of their conquerors, which is seen in its fruits,. and even produces di- rect abets to this day. The Romans in Europe Proper, though unable to resist the hordes of barbarians which overwhelmed the Empire, engrafted their customs upon their conquerors, and produced from the junction a social system superior to either of those which were superseded. But the Orientals appear to be de- ficient in the qualities necessary to produce these results : they have corrupted their conquerors, but never, apparently, done more than substitute effeminacy and deceit for the rough and hardy vir- tues. If we except the Chinese, they do not appear able to remain stationary : for the civilization both of India and the Islands, to say nothing of Persia, was much more perfect at an anterior period; and but. for English interference, it is very probable that anarchy would have reduced the continent of Ilindostan to a condition si- milar to that of Assyria. Of the ancient laws of Ceylon, Major FORBES speaks highly ; they only appear to have required a good administration, to answer the purposes of government very efficiently : and it may be noted as a curious fact, that they had a counterpart of our coroner's inquest,— by the old law an inquiry ought to beheld in case of " every violent, sudden, or suspicious death," and which custom is now revived. The theory of their religion—a sect of Budhism—Major Foams also estimates highly, in these judicious remarks.


Before concluditr this account of my first visit to Randy, sad of the tsti- hition of the supposed relic of Geuranos Buddl.e, I shall give it brief account of the Buddhist priesthood, and of the moral laws of a religion the excellence and simplicity of which may estosisli those who have only heard it mentioned to be condemned as an impure, mewl, and unintelligible portion of Paganism. That despots professieg the religion of Buddha have been often cruel, cannot be denied ; that its admirable laws have little power to control his nominal fol lowers, may be admitted; yet it is unfair to charge Buddhism with the crimes of those who disobey its injunctions, defy its commandments, arid dare its threats of future punishment. The history of Christianity proves how the symbol of peace may be used as a standard of war and the signal for slaughter; and it is difficult to imagine what Christianity might ere now have become, if Europe had continued mildest by the art of printing„ and had been cursed with the distinction of caste.

The religion of Catatonia Buddha enjoins its followers to place reliance on Buddha, his religion, and its priesthood. It enjoins also just conversation, and strict adherence to veracity. Just conduct, and incessantly endeavouring to counteract the effects of former in by the practice of active virtues: Just living, coining a livelihood by lamest means : To reverence priests and your parents: To give alms, particularly to the priesthood: Forgiveness of injuries is also inculcated as a matter of wisdom as well as of virtue.

This religion forbids its followers—

To envy their neighbour, or covet his property : To follow the worship of false gods: To commit adultery : To indulge in unprofitable conversation, or use irritating or unbecoming language : To &stray any animate being : To sell the flesh of animate, or rear them for slaughter: To trade in deadly weapons, or fabricate instruments of war, or any thing to he used in the destruction of life : To trade in poisons: To use, prepare, or sell intoxicating liquors : To traffic in human beings ; to sell one's children, or transfer a slave: To receive bribes : To deprive any one of his property by violence, fraud, or deception : To tell a falsehood, or use words to conceal the truth.

Gautama thus sums up the duties of mankind—" Abstain from all sin,

acquire all virtue, repress thine own heart."

The established religion of' Ceylon is, however, declining; and the Missionary MaLconat notes a similar fact in Burman ; both the soldier and the divine drawing the same conclusion—that if the established religion fall into disuse without Christianity being substituted, the people will he worse than they are. The fret seems to be, that any established religion, which of necessity hn- plies a regular system of doctrine and morality, and a certain degree of civilization and method to preserve a priesthood with its gradation of orders, is better than leaving the uneducated to the devices and desires of' their own ignorance, which impel them to the most absurd superstitions. Here is the picture of some rites which appear to have survived the religion they belonged to.


At Payamadoe one human being remained; he was a Kapua (devil-dancer), and gained a livelihood by predicting events and prescribing medicine to those who conveyed salt into the interior by this dreary route. His small but of frail materials also served thr a Kowila (inferior temple to gods or devils); it was situated on the hank of a sluggish stream, and shaded by an immense banvan-tree. Under its branches, an open space levelhd and strewed with saner, served the Kellum thr it theatre on which to exhibit the various'attitudes and violent contortions which apparently constituted the whole of his devo„ tions : and certainly his performance had the effect of riveting the intention and exciting the liberality or our numerous folks erg. At night we trussed the stream to witness the Lncient Yuka ceremoniee: these rites belong to a superstition which may dispute priority if it were net cenjoimd with the Bali (planetary) worship : like it, thus superstition is 11F uded to in the catchiest tut- (Wiens ; and, like it, has maintained its hold over the tititithmtidisivoi fntolifeci;ttens through every change in the government or variety in The Kapua, an athletic and very powerful map, to the noise of the tom-toms whirl, bad ncconqinnied our party, and kept excellent ;La triIli his feet and bonds; on which, as well as on his neck, arras, and neklis, he wore large hollow metal rings, cal ed Salamba. Occasiooally he appeared in the highest state of bodily and mental excitement ; his flesh quit eriag and his eyes fixed, as if straining to distinguish forms in the /shams of the surrounding forest. In this mood, advancing towards the person tor whom his incantation, were performed, and while continuing one long respiration, he predicted the fate or prescribed for the complaint of the datmen worshiper. I examined se. vend of the Kaprees Bondi packets of mediciee ; they were leaves folded up and contaioing plain ginger in powder ; this was, hewever, to he taken mixed in very Warn] Neater, and with si■nn• peculiar ecremonh s. As the water in this part Of the country is not or:imsly unwholesome, it is probable the rept,. bene- fited by his nostrum. The lion belief in its efficacy, cenjoimal still: the rose. monies, no doubt contributed to the successful tee: It ; for all the inv: lids de- clared themseiVeS 10 be perfectly cured ; and the helms o ax conthialil Ids laborious rites, with unfired energy, when at midnight 1 li It Idol in ti:e full career of his uudirut ;did oophetic duties. The scene tlriltr,111,0jiiii,l, isvtirt,ntecsisieded was impressive eons its no stsrious : bens ;w- its huge brancla a oil one above the frail teeth: met throe hand: netiees dillurellI ranks, on the if her side extended ler ever the stream; while the Yaktidupha torch (formed of 111411 tout titro of 1i,, exorcist it.row over the scene an indietinet light end livid colouring, in nide!: his wild figure,. long dishevelled hair, and frantic gestures, could he discerned and emitieeaed with the mute and motionless body of the spectators, or the ham's:.ly ausi.us look of the one who stepped forward to hear or coming, crimps," :Ind pry into his future fate. Anon the torch blazed for an Neon!, then gaol; into a dull hlue flame, which blended with the halo formed around it by the dim,: fog that rested on the sling stream. With such a light, and in midi a chilling stag- nant atneepliere, the gigantic trees, even the people emongst whom we stood, had an unearthly Selnidance, as if the spirits of past ages were shadoued final— those a ho had known these woods and wilds ere death lind gained exclusive dominion over MOM, or the face of nature had been iii lured by forests. It is strauge but true, that here there has been more close in nurture thun iu mans kind : a populous district ha4 become a noxious wiHeiness; its vdiages and temples are overwhelmed by jungle ; while the Indin■i rs and religiou of the Cingalese, the rich dresses of the chiefs, and so Loy covering. of the lower classes as they now stood before us, have remained for upwards of two thousand years comparatively unchanpal.

Sometimes the irregelar professors of conjuration are not forte- nate ; as is this hist:ewe. E • t. or sZpERNATCRAI, PoWEI:S.

Among those persons wile, ante to ray their respets to me at this plane. were two remurkeble impastoes vesiiiing in this neighbourhood, moan acting in different departments of knaves). : end of them had lately aberahmed his claims to su- peroaluall power, to save himself from present injury ; and the reputation of the other I had completely ruined by convicting thieves to whom his god had promised concealment and security on receiving part of their plunder. The former of these knaves, an and man, had, unluckily for himself, inspired his neighbours with a belief that he had the power or bringing rain by performing certain ceremonies; and t 11 .y had spread his dune over the whole district. From this, and his knowledge of the appearance of the sky, and th:: various signs of coming showers Or :I ppronching heavy rains, he had long imposed on the people, and reaped corie:i1.•1:thle profit ; until at last their eagerness of he- lief outrunning his powers of impseation, not only destroyed his occupation,

but nearly cost him Ids It was urged by some one, and acquiesced ie. by all, that, as there tea no doubt of his ability to cell rai

n it lien novcs,ary, it ought ant to lie left to his eapriee when this talent should be este ei.isi; and that, when required by a whole villaee, he should he obliged to furnish rain it sufficient quantities: that, if he did Fa, lie was to he liberally rewarded ; but, on the contrary, if lie were rontomacieas, and tifuied to give the necessary slimly, that he should Pc tormented with thormi, or heat into (.01mill:wee. Having suffered severe punishments on various occasions, be at last made up his mind no longer to be a responsible agent file the Weather, and towns and constantly denied having any authority in the matter. This, although deemed to be a fake excuse, proved a sufficient protection to him dosing several seasons in which there was no deficiency' of moisture; but this season the people, losing all patience from a long-continued drought which was destroying their crops, dragged the recusant cloud-compeller to various eillegs.s, iu it Melt be suffered severely for his supposed neglect. Eves the chief of the district had deter- mined on having rain be force, if fair means proved insufficient, and had sent some of his followers to firing the conjurer to the vilhose where water was most required: it was while on his way there that he wit., fortunate enough to see me, and, making his esear, threw himself on my protection. In the court- house the old man stated, that he was in terror of iiis hre, for at present there was every appearance of cool:mance of the same dry weather that lied already done so much mischief ; and then gravely proceeded to prove to only by many oaths that it was no fault if his that no rain tolls fertliromiog. I hell some difficulty in protecting this old impostor, partiCidarly n; a few slight ShoWCTS fell near his tillage, wide!. was situated on one of tlw hi hest inhabited parts of the district; and I I.!;.v;: no doubt the peopl:: t!:,r:,1t, not that they had been the infatuated dupes of a rogue, but that I was imposed upon by a churlish wizard.