Ceylon; an Account of the Island Physical, Historical, and eBook

James Emerson Tennent
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 892 pages of information about Ceylon; an Account of the Island Physical, Historical, and.


LONDON:  November 28th, 1859.


The rapidity with which the first impression has been absorbed by the public, has so shortened the interval between its appearance and that of the present edition, that no sufficient time has been allowed for the discovery of errors or defects; and the work is re-issued almost as a corrected reprint.

In the interim, however, I have ascertained, that Ribeyro’s “Historical Account of Ceylon,” which it was heretofore supposed had never appeared in any other than the French version of the Abbe Le Grand, and in the English translation of the latter by Mr. Lee[1], was some years since printed for the first time in the original Portuguese, from the identical MS. presented by the author to Pedro II. in 1685.  It was published in 1836 by the Academia Real das Sciencias of Lisbon, under the title of “Fatalidade Historica da Ilka de Ceilao;” and forms the Vth volume of the a “Collecao de Noticias para a Historia e Geograjia das Nacoes Ultramarinas” A fac-simile from a curious map of the island as it was then known to the Portuguese, has been included in the present edition.[2]

[Footnote 1:  See Vol.  II.  Part vi. ch. i. p.5, note.]

[Footnote 2:  Ibid. p. 6.]

Some difficulty having been expressed to me, in identifying the ancient names of places in India adverted to in the following pages; and mediaeval charts of that country being rare, a map has been inserted in the present edition[1], to supply the want complained of.

[Footnote 1:  See Vol.  I. p. 330.]

The only other important change has been a considerable addition to the
Index, which was felt to be essential for facilitating reference.

J E.T.


There is no island in the world, Great Britain itself not excepted, that has attracted the attention of authors in so many distant ages and so many different countries as Ceylon.  There is no nation in ancient or modern times possessed of a language and a literature, the writers of which have not at some time made it their theme.  Its aspect, its religion, its antiquities, and productions, have been described as well by the classic Greeks, as by those of the Lower Empire; by the Romans; by the writers of China, Burmah, India, and Kashmir; by the geographers of Arabia and Persia; by the mediaeval voyagers of Italy and France; by the annalists of Portugal and Spain; by the merchant adventurers of Holland, and by the travellers and topographers of Great Britain.

But amidst this wealth of materials as to the island, and its vicissitudes in early times, there is an absolute dearth of information regarding its state and progress during more recent periods, and its actual condition at the present day.

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