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Bantam, in the west end of Java, were orignally brought the diminutive race of fowl known by that name.
Ceylon.- Opposite to the southern promontory of the great peninsula of India, lies Ceylon, an island of an oval form, about 240 geographic miles from north to south, and 130 from west to east where broadest. It is separated from the continent by a strait about 40 miles across, but full of rocky sboals, and impassable for large ships.
The eastern shores are high and bold with deep water, the northern and western parts of the island are low and lat, deeply indented by arms of the sea. The interior contains many lofty steep mountains covered with thick forests and impenetrable underwood, entirely in the possession of the natives, under the king of Candy, whose capital is situated amongst the fastnesses in the center of the country. The settlements formerly belonging to the Dutch, and now to the British, are confined to a narrow slip along the shore encompassing the island.
The seasons in Ceylon are more affected by the periodical winds or monsoons, then by the position of the sun; for although the island lies on the north side of the equator, the coolest weather is about the middle of summer, because then the western monsoon prevails; the spring begins in October, and the hottest season lasts from January to April: but along the sea coast in general, the heat is sensibly less than on the adjoining Indian continent.
The principal towns in the British possession are Co. lumbo and Trincomalee; the former on the south-west coast is a regular fortress, with a large adjoining town, inha. bited by natives and other Indians: the latter, a strong post on the north-east coast, commanding a spacious bay, forming by its different points and inlets, one of the best harbours in those seas. This harbour is one of the principal advantages possessed by Ceylon, being, together with Bombay on the opposite side of the peninsula of India, the only place of safety for vessels during the prevalence of the
Ceylon produces many valuable vegetables ; but the great treasure is the cinnamon-tree, which covers a plain of fifteen miles in length along the coast stretching south-east from Columbo. The best sort of cinnamon is the produce of a species of bay-tree, called laurus cinnamomum, the other spurious sort being procured from the laurus cassia. The true cinnamon has a large root, and divides into several branches covered with a bark, which on the outer side is of a grayish brown, and on the inner side of a reddish cast. The wood of the roots is hard and white, but without any peculiar smell or taste. The body of the tree, which grows to the height of 20 or 30 feet, is covered, as well as the numerous branches, with a bark at first green, but afterwards red. The leaf is longer and broader than that of the common bay: when first unfolded it is of a flame colour, but when some time exposed to the air, and dry, it changes to a deep green on the upper surface, and to a light green on the under face. The flowers are small and white, growing in large bunches at the extremity of the branches : they have an agreeable smell resembling that of the lily of the valley. The fruit resembles an acorn, but is smaller. This tree delights in a loose soil, with a warm exposure. What we callcinnamon is the under bark of this tree, separated from the rugged outer bark in the spring when the sap
is abundant: it is cut into thin slices, and curls up by being dried in the sun In Ceylon the best bark is procured from trees of the age of three or four years. When the trunk has been stripped it affords no more bark; but the root sends out a number of young suckers. To be good, cinnamon ought to be of a fine grain, smooth, brittle, thin, of a yellowcolour, inclining to red, fragrant, aromatic, of a pungent but agreeable taste: the long slender pieces are most esteemed. The cinnamon we receive in Europe.is frequently
mixed with casssia bark, which may however be distinguished from it; for genuine cinnamon splinters in breaking, and has a roughness along with its aromatic flavour; while cassia breaks smooth, and has a mucilaginous or yummy taste.
The elephants of Ceylon are the largest animals of their kind: the oxen are small and distinguished by a bunch on the shoulder; these cattle when brought to England are improperly called buffaloes, which are much larger and stronger, and used in Ceylon in the room of oxen for labour. The anaconda, or boa constrictor, perhaps the largest of the serpent tribe, is not uncommon in the forests of Ceylon.
great pearl-fishery is carried on chiefly in the bay of Condachy, on the west side of the island : the principal bank where the pearl-oysters are found, lies about twenty miles out from the land. The pearls are supposed to be in perfection in the course of seven years: the fishing commences in February, and ends in the beginning of April. The boats employed in this fishery generally contain 20 men, one half to row and the other half to dive and bring up the oysters from the bottom. The diver being accustomed to the exercise from his infancy, plunges into the Water to depths of from four to ten fathoms, having a Weight to accelerate his descent, and a net to collect the oysters, together with a rope connected with the boat, which he pulls as a signal to draw him up, when he can no longer remain under water, which is usually about two minutes : instances have been known however of a diver continuing five minutes below the surface. An expert diver will make 40 or 50 plunges in a day, bringing up each time 80 or 100 oysters. When the oysters are brought on shore, they are placed by the different owners in small pits lipon inats to keep them from the ground: there they die and putrify
, after which they are easily opened without injuring the pearls. The pearls of Ceylon are of a white colour than
those of the Persian Gulf, but in other respects are not so much esteemed by the Asiatics, who prefer those of a yellowish or golden cast, while the Europeans choose the whitest.
New Holland, &C. -Adjacent to the south-east corner of Asia is situated a vast tract of country, to which we give the name of New Holland. This great island is situated between 110 and 39° of south latitude, and between 112°, 30', and 153o of longitude enst from Greenwich: the extent therefore from north to south is about 1680 geographic, or 1960 English miles, and that from west to east about 2220 geographic, or 2580 English miles.
Of the face of this extended tract little but detached parts of the sea coast have yet been explored: there the country is billy, but not mountainous, partly covered with tall trees, free from underwood; many parts of the shores are swampy, and overrun with brush-wood.
The animals hitherto discovered in this county, in general partake much of the nature of the opossum or kangaroo, distinguished by a sort of pouch, formed by folds of the skin under the belly, where the young are suckled and cherished until they arrive at a due age and size. The common size of the kangaron is that of a full grown sheep; the upper parts are small, but the lower are in proportion remarkably large; but the gradation is so elegant as to render this a very picturesque aninial: the fore-legs are extremely short, but the hind legs are stout and long, serving to carry him along by long high bounding leaps, with considerable rapidity. Of the various birds met with in New Holland, a great number have the peculiar formation of the head and beak, observed in the parrot kind. The black swan, to find which was by the antients regarded as next to impossible, is by no means a rarity in New Holland.
Botany Bay, so named, from the number and variety of uncommon plants there discovered, is an inlet on the east