Across India eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 323 pages of information about Across India.

“There is something like ancient history in connection with Ceylon, dating back to 543 B.C.; but it would be hardly edifying to follow it.  It has also a Portuguese, a Dutch, and a British period; and it was finally annexed to the British crown by the Treaty of Amiens, in 1802.

“Thirty years ago coffee was the principal commercial production of the island; but a kind of fungus attacked the leaves of the trees, and within ten years the planters were obliged to abandon its cultivation to a great extent, though it is still raised.  Cacao, which is the name of the chocolate-tree, while cocoa is the name of the product, is cultivated to a considerable extent; so are cinchona, cardamoms, and various spices; though Bishop Heber’s lines—­

’What though the spicy breezes
Blow soft o’er Ceylon’s isle,’

are not applicable to the island as formerly.

“It has become evident in very recent years that Ceylon might become a great tea-growing region, and the planters are now largely engaged in its culture.  A dozen years ago only 3,515 pounds were raised; ten years later over 12,000,000 pounds of tea was the crop; and this year it is still greater.  The population in 1891 was 3,008,466.  It has a governor, who rules with an executive council of five, of which the officer in command of the troops is one.”

“Can your lordship tell me the salary of the governor-general of India?” asked Captain Ringgold.

“I figured it up at one time in your money, and forgot to mention it.  If I remember rightly, it was $125,400; and that of the governor of Ceylon is $20,000,” replied Lord Tremlyn.  “The former gets two and a half times the salary of your President.  I have nothing more to say of the island, but after a concert by the band, Sir Modava will tell you something about the principal towns;” and as he retired the audience separated, for it was to be a promenade concert.

“I was asked just now by Mrs. Blossom about missions here in Ceylon,” said the Hindu gentleman as he took the stand.  “The English Baptists sent missionaries here eighty years ago; the Methodists a year later; the Americans three years later; and the Church of England five years after.  A great deal of Christian teaching has been done in Ceylon, though I am not able just now to give you statistically the results of missionary work; but it has included the establishment of schools, female seminaries, and even collegiate institutions, carried on by the missionaries, outside of the government system of education.

“Point de Galle, at the south-western extremity of the island, is a town of forty-seven thousand inhabitants, and has a good harbor in a sheltered bay.  It was formerly the principal coaling and shipping station in this part of India; but all this has gone to Colombo.  The Orient line of steamers, whose principal business is with Australia, sends some of its ships here; and most steamers of the Peninsular and Oriental line, called the ‘P. & O.’ for short, touch here.  A great deal of freight had to be reshipped at Point de Galle for various ports of India.

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Across India from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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