A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 11 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 783 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 11.
is the inner bark of a tree resembling the orange, the flowers of which very much resemble those of the laurel both in size and figure.  There are three sorts of cinnamon.  The finest is taken from young trees; a coarser sort from the old ones; and the third is the wild cinnamon, or cassia, which grows not only in Ceylon, but in Malabar and China, and of late years in Brazil.  The company also derives great profit from an essential oil drawn from cinnamon, which sells at a high price; and it also makes considerable gain by the precious stones found in this island, being rubies, white and blue sapphires, topazes, and others.

Off the coast of this island, at Manaar and Tutecorin, there is a fine pearl fishery, which brings in a large revenue, being let twice a-year in farm to certain black merchants.  The oysters are at the bottom of the sea, and the fishery is only carried on in fine weather, when the sea is perfectly calm.  The diver has one end of a rope fastened round his body below the arm-pits, the other end being tied to the boat, having a large stone tied to his feet, that he may descend the quicker, and a bag tied round his waist to receive the oysters.  As soon as he gets to the bottom of the sea, he takes up as many oysters as are within his reach, putting them as fast as possible into the bag; and in order to ascend, pulls strongly at a cord, different from that which is round his body, as a signal for those in the boat to haul him up as fast as they can, while he endeavours so shake loose the stone at his feet.  When the boats are filled with oysters, the black merchants carry them to different places on the coast, selling them at so much the hundred; which trade is hazardous for the purchasers, who sometimes find pearls of great value, and sometimes none at all, or those only of small value.

The inhabitants of Ceylon are called Cingolesians, or Cingalese, who are mostly very tall, of a very dark complexion, with very large ears, owing to the numerous large and heavy ornaments they wear in them.  They are men of great courage, and live in a hardy manner, and are therefore excellent soldiers.  They are, for the most part, Mahomedans,[2] though there are many idolaters among them who worship cows and calves.  The inhabitants of the interior do not greatly respect the Dutch, whom they term their coast-keepers, in derision; but the Dutch care little about this, endeavouring to keep in good correspondence with the king of Candy, whose dominions are separated from theirs by a large rapid river, and by impenetrable forests.  The Ceylonese are remarkable for their great skill in taming elephants, which they employ as beasts of burden in time of peace, and render serviceable against their enemies in war.

[Footnote 2:  The author has probably confounded the original natives of Ceylon, who are idolaters, with the Malays, who are Mahomedans, and of whom a considerable number are settled on the coast country.—­E.]

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