From what has been said, it will be apparent that, compared with continental India, the securities for health in Ceylon are greatly in favour of the island. As to the formidable diseases which are common to both, their occurrence in either is characterised by the same appalling manifestations: dysentery fastens, with all its fearful concomitants, on the unwary and incautious; and cholera, with its dark horrors, sweeps mysteriously across neglected districts, exacting its hecatombs. But the visitation and ravages of both are somewhat under control, and the experience bequeathed by each gloomy visitation has added to the facilities for checking its recurrence.
[Footnote 1: “It is worthy of remark, that although all the troops in Ceylon have occasionally, but at rare intervals; suffered severely from cholera, the disease has in very few instances attacked the officers; or indeed Europeans in the same grade of life. This is one important difference to be borne in mind when estimating the comparative risk of life in India and Ceylon. It must be due to the difference in comforts and quarters, or more particularly to the exemption from night duty, by far the most trying of the soldiers’ hardships. The small mortality amongst the officers of European regiments in Ceylon is very remarkable.”—Note by Dr. CAMERON, Army Med. Staff.]
In some of the disorders incidental to the climate, and the treatment of ulcerations caused by the wounds of the mosquitoes and leeches, the native Singhalese have a deservedly high reputation; but their practice, when it depends on specifics, is too empirical to be safely relied on; and their traditional skill, though boasting a well authenticated antiquity, achieves few triumphs in competition with the soberer discipline of European science.
VEGETATION.—TREES AND PLANTS.
Although the luxuriant vegetation of Ceylon has at all times been the theme of enthusiastic admiration, its flora does not probably exceed 3000 phaenogamic plants; and notwithstanding that it has a number of endemic species, and a few genera, which are not found on the great Indian peninsula, still its botanical features may be described as those characteristic of the southern regions of Hindustan and the Dekkan. The result of some recent experiments has, however, afforded a curious confirmation of the opinion ventured by Dr. Gardner, that, regarding its botany geographically, Ceylon exhibits more of the Malayan flora and that of the Eastern Archipelago, than of any portion of India to the west of it. Two plants peculiar to Malacca, the nutmeg and the mangustin, have been attempted, but unsuccessfully, to be cultivated in Bengal; but in Ceylon the former has been reared near Colombo with such singular success that its produce now begins to figure in the exports of the island;—and mangustins, which, ten years ago, were exhibited as curiosities from a single tree in the old Botanic Garden at Colombo, are found to thrive readily, and they occasionally appear at table, rivalling in their wonderful delicacy of flavour those which have heretofore been regarded as peculiar to the Straits.