Imagens das páginas

toient que leur succès, pour introduire des nouveautés, tenoit à faire croire qu'elles n'étoient pas neuves pour les grands esprits ; et comme les grands esprits Français, trop connus, ne ce prêtoient pas à un pareil dessein, les philosophes ont eu recours à l'Angleterre. Ainsi, un ouvrage fait en France, et offert à l'admiration de l'Europe comme l'ouvrage par excellence, fut mis par des Français sous la protection du génie Anglais. O 2 honte ! Et les philosophes se sont dit patriotes, et la France, pour prix de sa dégradation, leur a élevé des statues ! Le siècle qui commence, plus juste, parce qu'il a le sentiment de la véritable grandeur, laissera ces statues et l'Encyclopédie s'ensevelir sous la même poussière.'

When to this are added the commendations that have been bestowed on Newton, the magnitude and the originality of the discoveries which have been attributed to him, the admiration which the works of Locke have excited, and the homage that has been paid to Milton and Shakspeare, the treason which lurks at the bottom of it all will not escape the penetrating glance of Mr. -Fievée ; and he will discern that same cause, from which every good Frenchman knows the defeat of Aboukir and of the first of June to have proceeded the monster Pitt, and his English guineas.

ISLAND OF CEYLON. (E. Review, 1803.)

An Account of the Island of Ceylon. By Robert Percival, Esq. of his Majesty's Nineteenth Regiment of Foot. London. C. and R. Baldwin.

It is now little more than half a century since the English first began to establish themselves in any force upon the peninsula of India; and we at present possess, in that country, a more extensive territory, and a more numerous population, than any European power can boast of at home. In no instance has the genius of the English, and their courage, shone forth more conspicuously than in their contest with the French for the empire of India. The numbers on both sides were always inconsiderable; but the two nations were fairly matched against each other, in the cabinet and the field; the struggle was long and obstinate; and, at the conclusion, the French remained masters of a dismantled town, and the English of the grandest and most extensive colony that the world has ever seen. To attribute this success to the superior genius of Clive, is not to diminish the reputation it confers on his country, which reputation must of course be elevated by the number of great men to which it gives birth. But the French were by no means deficient in casualties of genius at that period, unless Bussy is to be considered as a man of common stature of mind, or Dupleix to be classed with the vulgar herd of politicians. Neither was Clive (though he clearly stands forward as the most prominent figure in the group) without the aid of some military men of very considerable talents. Clive extended our Indian empire; but General Lawrence preserved it to be extended; and the former caught, perhaps, from the latter, that military spirit by which he soon became a greater soldier than him, without whom he never would have been a soldier at all.

Gratifying as these reflections upon our prowess in India are to national pride, they bring with them the painful reflection, that so considerable a portion of our strength and wealth is vested upon such precarious foundations, and at such an immense distance from the parent country. The glittering fragments of the Portuguese empire, scattered up and down the East, should teach us the instability of such dominion. We are (it is true) better capable of preserving what we have obtained, than any other nation which has ever colonized in Southern Asia ; but the object of ambition is so tempting, and the perils to which it is exposed so numerous, that no calculating mind can found any durable conclusions upon this branch of our commerce, and this source of our strength.

In the acquisition of Ceylon, we have obtained the greatest of all our wants—a good harbour. For it is a very singular fact, that, in the whole peninsula of India, Bombay is alone capable of affording a safe retreat to ships during the period of the monsoons.

The geographical figure of our possessions in Ceylon is whimsical enough; we possess the whole of the seacoast, and enclose in a periphery the unfortunate King of Candia, whose rugged and mountainous dominions may be compared to a coarse mass of iron, set in a circle of silver. The Popilian ring, in which this votary of Buddha has been so long held by the Portuguese . Dutch, has infused the most vigilant jealousy into

the government, and rendered it as difficult to enter the

kingdom of Candia, as if it were Paradise or China; and yet, once there, always there; for the difficulty of departing is just as great as the difficulty of arriving; and his Candian Excellency, who has used every device in his power to keep them out, is seized with such an affection for those who baffle his defensive artifices, that he can on no account suffer them to depart. He has been known to detain a string of four or five Dutch embassies, till various members of the legation died of old age at his court, while they were expecting an answer to their questions, and a return to their presents”; and his Majesty, once exasperated a little French ambassador to such a degree, by the various pretences under which he kept him at his court, that this lively member of the Corps Diplomatique, one day, in a furious passion, attacked six or seven of his Majesty's largest elephants sword in hand, and would, in all probability, have reduced them to mince-meat, if the poor beasts had not been saved from the unequal combat. The best and most ample account of Ceylon is contained in the narrative of Robert Knox, who, in the middle of the 17th century, was taken prisoner there (while refitting his ship) at the age of nineteen, and remained nineteen years on the island, in slavery to the King of Candia. During this period, he learnt the language, and acquired a thorough knowledge of the people. The account he has given of them is extremely entertaining, and written in a very simple and unaffected style ; so much so, indeed, that he presents his reader with a very grave account of the noise the devil makes in the woods of Candia, and of the frequent opportunities he has had of hearing him. Mr. Percival does not pretend to deal with the devil; but appears to have used the fair and natural resources of observation and good sense, to put together an interesting description of Ceylon. There is nothing in the book very animated, or very profound, but it is without pretensions; and if it does not excite attention by any unusual powers of description, it never disgusts by credulity, wearies by prolixity, or offends by affectation. It is such an account as a plain military man of diligence and common sense might be expected to compose; and narratives like these we must not despise. To military men we have been, and must be, indebted for our first acquaintance with the interior of many countries. Conquest has explored more than ever curiosity has done; and the path for science has been commonly opened by the sword.

* Knox's Ceylon.

We shall proceed to give a very summary abstract of the principal contents of Mr. Percival's book. The immense accessions of territory which the English have acquired in the East Indies since the American War, rendered it absolutely necessary, that some effort should be made to obtain possession of a station where ships might remain in safety during the violent storms incidental to that climate. As the whole of that large track which we possess along the Coromandel coast presents nothing but open roads, all vessels are obliged, on the approach of the monsoons, to stand out in the open seas; and there are many parts of the coast that can be approached only during a few months of the year. As the harbour of Trincomalee, which is equally secure at all seasons, afforded the means of obviating these disadvantages, it is evident that, on the first rupture with the Dutch, our countrymen would attempt to gain possession of it. A body of troops was, in consequence, detached in the year 1795, for the conquest of Ceylon, which (in consequence of the indiscipline which political dissension had introduced among the Dutch troops) was effected almost without opposition. Ceylon is now inhabited by the English; the remains of the Dutch, and Portuguese, the Cinglese or natives, subject to the dominion of the Europeans; the Candians, subject to the king of their own name; and the Waddahs, or wild men, subject to no power. A Ceylonese Dutchman is a coarse, grotesque species of animal, whose native apathy and phlegm is animated only by the insolence of a colonial tyrant: his principal amusement appears to consist in smoking; but his pipe according to Mr. Percival's account, is so seldom out of his mouth, that his smoking appears to be almost as much a necessary function of animal life as his breathing. His day is eked out with gin, ceremonious visits, and prodigious quantities of gross food, dripping with oil and butter; his mind, just able to reach from one meal to another, is incapable of further exertion; and after the panting and deglutition of a long protracted dinner, reposes on the sweet expectation, that, in a few VOL. I. G

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