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Eight Years' Wanderings in Ceylon by Samuel White Baker

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throughout Ceylon, and the soil of her own shores would produce a
supply for the island consumption. The revenue would be derived
direct from the land which now produces nothing but thorny
jungle. The import trade of Ceylon would be increased in
proportion to the influx of population, and the duties upon
enlarged imports would again tend to swell the revenue of the

The felling and clearing of the jungle, which cultivation would
render necessary, would tend, in a great measure, to dispel the
fevers and malaria always produced by a want of free circulation
of air. In a jungle-covered country like Ceylon, diseases of the
most malignant character are harbored in these dense and
undisturbed tracts, which year after year reap a pestilential
harvest from the thinly-scattered population. Cholera,
dysentery, fever and small-pox all appear in their turn and
annually sweep whole villages away. I have frequently hailed
with pleasure the distant tope of waving cocoa-nut trees after a
long day's journey in a broiling sun, when I have cantered toward
these shady warders of cultivation in hopes of a night's halt at
a village. But the palms have sighed in the wind over tenantless
abodes, and the mouldering dead have lain beneath their shade.
Not a living soul remaining; all swept away by pestilence; huts
recently fallen to decay, fruits ripening, on the trees, and no
hand left to gather them; the shaddock and the lime falling to
the earth to be preyed upon by the worm, like their former
masters. All dead; not one left to tell the miserable tale.

The decay of the population is still progressing, and the next
fifty years will see whole districts left uninhabited unless
something can be done to prevent it. There is little doubt that
if land and water could be obtained from government in a
comparatively healthy and populous neighborhood, many would
migrate to that point from the half-deserted districts, who might
assist in the cultivation of the country instead of rotting in a
closing jungle.

One season of pestilence, even in a large village, paves the road
for a similar visitation in the succeeding year, for this reason:

Say that a village comprising two hundred men is reduced by
sickness to a population of one hundred. The remaining one
hundred cannot keep in cultivation the land formerly open;
therefore, the jungle closes over the surface and rapidly
encroaches upon the village. Thus the circulation of air is
impeded and disease again halves the population. In each
successive year the wretched inhabitants are thinned out, and
disease becomes the more certain as the jungle continues to
advance. At length the miserable few are no longer sufficient to
cultivate the rice-lands; their numbers will not even suffice for
driving their buffaloes. The jungle closes round the village;
cholera finishes the scene by sweeping off the remnant; and
groves of cocoa-nut trees, towering over the thorny jungle,
become monuments sacred to the memory of an exterminated

The number of villages which have thus died out is almost
incredible. In a day's ride of twenty miles, I have passed the
remains of as many as three or four, how many more may have
vanished in the depths of the jungle!

Wherever the cocoa-nut trees are still existing, the ruin of the
village must have been comparatively recent, as the wild
elephants generally overturn them in a few years after the
disappearance of the inhabitants, browsing upon the succulent
tops, and destroying every trace of a former habitation.

There is no doubt that when sickness is annually reducing the
population of a district, the inhabitants, and accordingly the
produce of the land, must shortly come to an end. In all times
of pestilence the first impulse among the natives is to fly from
the neighborhood, but at present there is no place of refuge. It
is, therefore, a matter of certainty that the repair of one of
the principal tanks would draw together in thousands the
survivors of many half-perished villages, who would otherwise
fall victims to succeeding years of sickness.

The successful cultivation of rice at all times requires an
extensive population, and large grazing-grounds for the support
of the buffaloes necessary for the tillage of the land.

The labor of constructing dams and forming watercourses is
performed by a general gathering, similar to the American
principle of a "bee;" and, as "many hands make light work," the
cultivation proceeds with great rapidity. Thus a large
population can bring into tillage a greater individual proportion
of ground than a smaller number of laborers, and the rice is
accordingly produced at a cheaper rate.

Few people understand the difficulties with which a small village
has to contend in the cultivation of rice. The continual repairs
of temporary dams, which are nightly trodden down and destroyed
by elephants; the filling up of the water-courses from the same
cause; the nocturnal attacks upon the crops by elephants and
hogs; the devastating attacks of birds as the grain becomes ripe;
a scarcity of water at the exact moment it is required; and other
numerous difficulties which are scarcely felt by a large

By the latter the advantage is enjoyed of the division of labor.
The dams are built of permanent material; every work is rapidly
completed; the night-fires blaze in the lofty watch-house,, while
the shouts of the watchers scare the wild beasts from the crops.
Hundreds of children are daily screaming from their high perches
to scare away the birds. Rattles worked by long lines extend in
every direction, unceasingly pulled by the people in the
watch-houses; wind-clackers (similar to our cherry-clackers) are
whirling in all places; and by the division of the toil among a
multitude the individual work proceeds without fatigue.

Every native is perfectly aware of this advantage in rice
cultivation; and were the supply of water ensured to them by the
repair of a principal tank, they would gather around its margin.
The thorny jungles would soon disappear from the surface of the
ground, and a densely-populated and prosperous district would
again exist where all has been a wilderness for a thousand years.

The system of rice cultivation is exceedingly laborious. The
first consideration being a supply of water, the second is a
perfect level, or series of levels, to be irrigated. Thus a
hill-side must be terraced out into a succession of platforms or
steps; and a plain, however apparently flat, must, by the
requisite embankments, be reduced to the most perfect surface.

This being completed, the water is laid on for a certain time,
until the soil has become excessively soft and muddy. It is then
run off, and the land is ploughed by a simple implement, which,
being drawn by two buffaloes, stirs up the soil to a depth of
eighteen inches. This finished, the water is again laid on until
the mud becomes so soft that a man will sink knee-deep. In this
state it is then trodden over by buffaloes, driven backward and
forward in large gangs, until the mud is so thoroughly mixed that
upon the withdrawal of the water it sinks to a perfect level.

Upon this surface the paddy, having been previously soaked in
water, is now sown; and, in the course of a fortnight, it attains
a height of about four inches. The water is now again laid on,
and continued at intervals until within a fortnight of the grain
becoming ripe. It is then run off; the ground hardens, the ripe
crop is harvested by the sickle, and the grain is trodden out by
buffaloes. The rice is then separated from the paddy or husk by
being pounded in a wooden mortar.

This is a style of cultivation in which the Cingalese
particularly excel; nothing can be more beautifully regular than
their flights of green terraces from the bottoms of the valleys
to the very summits of the hills: and the labor required in their
formation must be immense, is they are frequently six feet one
above the other. The Cingalese are peculiarly a rice-growing
nation; give them an abundant supply of water and land on easy
terms, and they will not remain idle.

CHAPTER V. Real Cost of Land - Want of Communication -
Coffee-planting - Comparison between French and English Settlers
- Landslips - Forest-clearing - Manuring - The Coffee Bug - Rats
- Fatted Stock - Suggestions for Sheep-farming - Attack of a
Leopard - Leopards and Chetahs - Boy Devoured - Traps - Musk Cats
and the Mongoose - Vermin of Ceylon.

What is the government price of land in Ceylon? and what is the
real cost of the land? These are two questions which should be
considered separately, and with grave attention by the intending
settler or capitalist.

The upset price of government land is twenty shillings per acre;
thus, the inexperienced purchaser is very apt to be led away by
the apparently low sum per acre into a purchase of great extent.
The question of the real cost will then be solved at his expense.
There are few colonies belonging to Great Britain where the
government price of land is so high, compared to the value of the
natural productions of the soil.

The staple commodity of Ceylon being coffee, I will assume that a
purchase is concluded with the government for one thousand acres
of land, at the upset price of twenty shillings per acre. What
has the purchaser obtained for this sum? One thousand acres of
dense forest, to which there is no road. The one thousand pounds
passes into the government chest, and the purchaser is no longer
thought of; he is left to shift for himself and to make the most
of his bad bargain.

He is, therefore, in this position: He has parted with one
thousand pounds for a similar number of acres of land, which will
not yield him one penny in any shape until he has cleared it from
forest. This he immediately commences by giving out contracts,
and the forest is cleared, lopped and burnt. The ground is then
planted with coffee and the planter has to wait three years for a
return. By the time of full bearing the whole cost of felling,
burning, planting and cleaning will be about eight pounds per
acre; this, in addition to the prime cost of the land, and about
two thousand pounds expended in buildings, machinery etc., etc.,
will bring the price of the land, when in a yielding condition,
to eleven pounds an acre at the lowest calculation. Thus before
his land yields him one fraction, he will have invested eleven
thousand pounds, if he clears the whole of his purchase. Many
persons lose sight of this necessary outlay when first purchasing
their land, and subsequently discover to their cost that their
capital is insufficient to bring the estate into cultivation.

Then comes the question of a road. The government will give him
no assistance; accordingly, the whole of his crop must be
conveyed on coolies' heads along an arduous path to the nearest
highway, perhaps fifteen miles distant. Even this rough path of
fifteen miles the planter must form at his own expense.

Considering the risks that are always attendant upon agricultural
pursuits, and especially upon coffee-planting, the price of rough
land must be acknowledged as absurdly high under the present
conditions of sales. There is a great medium to be observed,
however, in the sales of crown land; too low a price is even a
greater evil than too high a rate, as it is apt to encourage
speculators in land, who do much injury to a colony by locking up
large tracts in an uncultivated state, to take the chance of a
future rise in the price.

This evil might easily be avoided by retaining the present bona
fide price of the land per acre, qualified by an arrangement that
one-half of the purchase money should be expended in the
formation of roads from the land in question. This would be of
immense assistance to the planters, especially in a populous
planting neighborhood, where the purchases of land were large and
numerous, in which case the aggregate sum would be sufficient to
form a carriage road to the main highway, which might be kept in
repair by a slight toll. An arrangement of this kind is not only
fair to the planters, but would be ultimately equally beneficial
to the government. Every fresh sale of land would ensure either
a new road or the improvement of an old one; and the country
would be opened up through the most remote districts. This very
fact of good communication would expedite the sales of crown
lands, which are now valueless from their isolated position.

Coffee-planting in Ceylon has passed through the various stages
inseparable from every "mania."

In the early days of our possession, the Kandian district was
little known, and sanguine imaginations painted the hidden
prospect in their ideal colors, expecting that a trace once
opened to the interior would be the road to fortune.

How these golden expectations have been disappointed the broken
fortunes of many enterprising planters can explain.

The protective duty being withdrawn, a competition with foreign
coffee at once reduced the splendid prices of olden times to a
more moderate standard, and took forty per cent. out of the
pockets of the planters. Coffee, which in those days brought
from one hundred shillings to one hundred and forty shillings per
hundred-weight, is now reduced to from sixty shillings to eighty

This sudden reduction created an equally sudden panic among the
planters, many of whom were men of straw, who had rushed to
Ceylon at the first cry of coffee "fortunes," and who had
embarked on an extensive scale with borrowed capital. These were
the first to smash. In those days the expenses of bringing land
into cultivation were more than double the present rate, and, the
cultivation of coffee not being so well understood, the produce
per acre was comparatively small. This combination of untoward
circumstances was sufficient cause for the alarm which ensued,
and estates were thrust into the market and knocked down for
whatever could be realized. Mercantile houses were dragged down
into the general ruin, and a dark cloud settled over the Cinnamon

As the after effects of a "hurricane" are a more healthy
atmosphere and an increased vigor in all vegetation, so are the
usual sequels to a panic in the commercial world. Things are
brought down to their real value and level; men of straw are
swept away, and affairs are commenced anew upon a sound and
steady basis. Capital is invested with caution, and improvements
are entered upon step by step, until success is assured.

The reduction in the price of coffee was accordingly met by a
corresponding system of expenditure and by an improved state of
cultivation; and at the present time the agricultural prospects
of the colony are in a more healthy state than they have ever
been since the commencement of coffee cultivation.

There is no longer any doubt that a coffee estate in a good
situation in Ceylon will pay a large interest for the capital
invested, and will ultimately enrich the proprietor, provided
that he has his own capital to work his estate, that he gives his
own personal superintendence and that he understands the
management. These are the usual conditions of success in most
affairs; but a coffee-estate is not unfrequently abused for not
paying when it is worked with borrowed capital at a high rate of
interest under questionable superintendence.

It is a difficult thing to define the amount which constitutes a
"fortune:" that which is enough for one man is a pittance for
another; but one thing is certain, that, no matter how small his
first capital, the coffee-planter hopes to make his "fortune."

Now, even allowing a net profit of twenty per cent. per annum on
the capital invested, it must take at least ten years to add
double the amount to the first capital, allowing no increase to
the spare capital required for working the estate. A rapid
fortune can never be made by working a coffee estate. Years of
patient industry and toil, chequered by many disappointments, may
eventually reward the proprietor; but it will be at a time of
life when a long residence in the tropics will have given him a
distaste for the chilly atmosphere of old England; his early
friends will have been scattered abroad, and he will meet few
faces to welcome him on his native shores. What cold is so
severe as a cold reception? - no thermometer can mark the degree.
No fortune, however large, can compensate for the loss of home,
and friends, and early associations.

This feeling is peculiarly strong throughout the British nation.
You cannot convince an English settler that he will be abroad for
an indefinite number of years; the idea would be equivalent to
transportation: he consoles himself with the hope that something
will turn up to alter the apparent certainty of his exile; and in
this hope, with his mind ever fixed upon his return, he does
nothing for posterity in the colony. He rarely even plants a
fruit tree, hoping that his stay will not allow him to gather
from it. This accounts for the poverty of the gardens and
enclosures around the houses of the English inhabitants, and the
general dearth of any fruits worth eating.

How different is the appearance of French colonies, and how
different are the feelings of the settler! The word "adieu" once
spoken, he sighs an eternal farewell to the shores of "La belle
France," and, with the natural light-heartedness of the nation,
he settles cheerfully in a colony as his adopted country. He
lays out his grounds with taste, and plants groves of exquisite
fruit trees, whose produce will, he hopes, be tasted by his
children and grandchildren. Accordingly, in a French colony
there is a tropical beauty in the cultivated trees and flowers
which is seldom seen in our possessions. The fruits are brought
to perfection, as there is the same care taken in pruning and
grafting the finest kinds as in our gardens in England.

A Frenchman is necessarily a better settler; everything is
arranged for permanency, from the building of a house to the
cultivation of an estate. He does not distress his land for
immediate profit, but from the very commencement he adopts a
system of the highest cultivation.

The latter is now acknowledged as the most remunerative course in
all countries; and its good effects are already seen in Ceylon,
where, for some years past, much attention has been devoted to
manuring on coffee estates.

No crop has served to develop the natural poverty of the soil so
much as coffee; and there is no doubt that, were it possible to
procure manure in sufficient quantity, the holes should be well
filled at the time of planting. This would give an increased
vigor to the young plant that would bring the tree into bearing
at an earlier date, as it would the sooner arrive at perfection.

The present system of coffee-planting on a good estate is
particularly interesting. It has now been proved that the best
elevation in Ceylon to combine fine quality with large crops is
from twenty-five hundred to four thousand feet. At one time it
was considered that the finest quality was produced at the
highest range; but the estates at an elevation of five thousand
feet are so long at arriving at perfection, and the crop
produced is so small, that the lower elevation is preferred.

In the coffee districts of Ceylon there is little or no level
ground to be obtained, and the steep sides of the hills offer
many objections to cultivation. The soil, naturally light and
poor, is washed by every shower, and the more soluble portions,
together with the salts of the manure applied to the trees, are
being continually robbed by the heavy rains. Thus it is next to
impossible to keep an estate in a high state of cultivation,
without an enormous expense in the constant application of

Many estates are peculiarly subject to landslips, which are
likewise produced by the violence of the rains. In these cases
the destruction is frequently to a large extent; great rocks are
detached from the summits of the hills, and sweep off whole lines
of trees in their descent.

Wherever landslips are frequent, they may be taken as an evidence
of a poor, clay subsoil. The rain soaks through the surface; and
not being able to percolate through the clay with sufficient
rapidity, it lodges between the two strata, loosening the upper
surface, which slides from the greasy clay; launched, as it were,
by its own gravity into the valley below.

This is the worst kind of soil for the coffee tree, whose long
tap-root is ever seeking nourishment from beneath. On this soil
it is very common to see a young plantation giving great promise;
but as the trees increase in growth the tap-root reaches the clay
subsoil and the plantation immediately falls off. The subsoil is
of far more importance to the coffee-tree than the upper surface;
the latter may be improved by manure, but if the former is bad
there is no remedy.

The first thing to be considered being the soil, and the planter
being satisfied with its quality, there is another item of equal
importance to be taken into consideration when choosing a
locality for a coffee estate. This is an extent of grazing land
sufficient for the support of the cattle required for producing

In a country with so large a proportion of forest as Ceylon, this
is not always practicable; in which case land should be cleared
and grass planted, as it is now proved that without manure an
estate will never pay the proprietor.

The locality being fixed upon, the clearing of the forest is
commenced. The felling is begun from the base of the hills, and
the trees being cut about half through, are started in sections
of about an acre at one fall. This is easily effected by felling
some large tree from the top, which, falling upon its
half-divided neighbor, carries everything before it like a pack
of cards.

The number of acres required having been felled, the boughs and
small branches are all lopped, and, together with the cleared
underwood, they form a mass over the surface of the ground
impervious to man or beast. This mass, exposed to a powerful
sun, soon becomes sufficiently dry for burning, and, the time of
a brisk breeze being selected,. the torch is applied.

The magnificent sight of so extensive a fire is succeeded by the
desolate appearance of blackened stumps and smouldering trunks of
trees: the whole of the branches and tinderwood having been swept
away by the mighty blaze, the land is comparatively clear.

Holes two feet square are now dug in parallel lines at a distance
of from six to eight feet apart throughout the estate, and
advantage being taken of the wet season, they are planted with
young coffee trees of about twelve inches high. Nothing is now
required but to keep the land clean until the trees attain the
height of four feet and come into bearing. This, at an elevation
of three thousand feet, they generally do in two years and a
half. The stem is then topped, to prevent its higher growth and
to produce a large supply of lateral shoots.

The system of pruning is the same as with all fruit trees; the
old wood being kept down to induce fruit bearing shoots, whose
number must be proportioned to the strength of the tree.

The whole success of the estate now depends upon constant
cleaning, plentiful manuring and careful pruning, with a due
regard to a frugal expenditure and care in the up-keep of
buildings, etc., etc. Much attention is also required in the
management of the cattle on the estate, for without a proper
system the amount of manure produced will be proportionately
small. They should be bedded up every night hock deep with fresh
litter and the manure thus formed should be allowed to remain in
the shed until it is between two and three feet deep. It should
then be treated on a "Geoffrey" pit (named after its inventor).

This is the simplest and most perfect method for working up the
weeds from an estate, and effectually destroying their seeds at
the same time that they are converted into manure.

A water-tight platform is formed of stucco - say forty feet
square - surrounded by a wall two feet high, so as to form a
tank. Below this is a sunken cistern -say eight feet square -
into which the drainage would be conducted from the upper
platform. In this cistern a force-pump is fitted, and the
cistern is half filled with a solution of saltpetre and

A layer of weeds and rubbish is now laid upon the platform for a
depth of three feet, surmounted by a layer of good dung from the
cattle sheds of one foot thick. These layers are continued
alternately in the proportion of three to one of weeds, until the
mass is piled to a height of twenty feet, the last layer being
good dung. Upon this mass the contents of the cistern are pumped
and evenly distributed by means of a spreader.

This mixture promotes the most rapid decomposition of vegetable
matter, and, combining with the juices of the weeds and the salts
of the dung, it drains evenly through the whole mass, forming a
most perfect compost. The surplus moisture, upon reaching the
bottom of the heap, drains from the slightly inclined platform
into the receiving cistern, and is again pumped over the mass.

This is the cheapest and best way of making manure upon an
estate, the cattle sheds and pits being arranged in the different
localities most suitable for reducing the labor of transport.

The coffee berry, when ripe, is about the size of a cherry, and
is shaped like a laurel berry. The flesh has a sweet but vapid
taste, and encloses two seeds of coffee. These are carefully
packed by nature in a double skin.

The cherry coffee is gathered by coolies at the rate of two
bushels each per diem, and is cleared from the flesh by passing
through a pulper, a machine consisting of cylindrical copper
graters, which tear the flesh from the berry and leave the coffee
in its second covering of parchment, The coffee is then exposed
to a partial fermentation by being piled for some hours in a
large heap. This has the effect of loosening the fleshy
particles, which, by washing in a cistern of running water, are
detached from the berry. It is then rendered perfectly dry in the
sun or by means of artificially heated air; and, being packed in
bags, it is forwarded to Colombo. Here, it is unpacked and sent
to the mill, which, by means of heavy rollers, detaches the
parchment and under silver skin, and leaves the grayish-blue
berry in a state for market. The injured grains are sorted out
by women, and the coffee is packed for the last time and shipped
to England.

A good and well-managed estate should produce an average crop of
ten hundredweight per acre, leaving a net profit of fifteen
shillings per hundredweight under favorable circumstances.
Unfortunately, it is next to impossible to make definite
calculations in all agricultural pursuits: the inclemency of
seasons and the attacks of vermin are constantly marring the
planter's expectations. Among the latter plagues the "bug"
stands foremost. This is a minute and gregarious insect, which
lives upon the juices of the coffee tree, and accordingly is most
destructive to an estate. It attacks a variety of plants, but
more particularly the tribe of jessamine; thus the common
jessamine, the "Gardenia" (Cape jessamine) and the coffee
(Jasminum Arabicum) are more especially subject to its ravages.

The dwelling of this insect is frequently confounded with the
living creature itself. This dwelling is in shape and
appearance like the back shell of a tortoise, or, still more,
like a "limpet," being attached to the stem of the tree in the
same manner that the latter adheres to a rock. This is the nest
or house, which, although no larger than a split hempseed
contains some hundreds of the "bug." As some thousands of these
scaly nests exist upon one tree, myriads of insects must be
feeding upon its juices.

The effect produced upon the tree is a blackened and sooty
appearance, like a London shrub; the branches look withered, and
the berries do not plump out to their full size, but, for the
most part, fall unripened from the tree. This attack is usually
of about two years' duration; after which time the tree loses its
blackened appearance, which peels off the surface of the leaves
like gold-beaters' skin, -and they appear in their natural color.
Coffee plants of young growth are liable to complete destruction
if severely attacked by " bug."

Rats are also very destructive to an estate ; they are great
adepts at pruning, and completely strip the trees of their young
shoots, thus utterly destroying a crop. These vermin are more
easily guarded against than the insect tribe, and should be
destroyed by poison. Hog's lard, ground cocoa-nut and phosphorus
form the most certain bait and poison combined.

These are some of the drawbacks to coffee-planting, to say
nothing of bad seasons and fluctuating prices, which, if properly
calculated, considerably lessen the average profits of an estate,
as it must be remembered that while a crop is reduced in
quantity, the expenses continue at the usual rate, and are
severely felt when consecutive years bring no produce to meet

Were it not for the poverty of the soil, the stock of cattle
required on a coffee estate for the purpose of manure might be
made extremely profitable, and the gain upon fatted stock would
pay for the expense of manuring the estate. This would be the
first and most reasonable idea to occur to an agriculturist -
"buy poor cattle at a low price, fatten them for the butcher, and
they give both profit and manure."

Unfortunately, the natural pasturage is not sufficiently good to
fatten beasts indiscriminately. There are some few out of a herd
of a hundred who will grow fat upon anything, but the generality
will not improve to any great degree. This accounts for the
scarcity of fine meat throughout Ceylon. Were the soil only
tolerably good, so that oats, vetches, turnips and mangel wurtzel
could be could be grown on virgin land without manure, beasts
might be stall-fed, the manure doubled by that method, and a
profit made on the animals. Pigs are now kept extensively on
coffee estates for the sake of their manure, and being fed on
Mauritius grass (a coarse description of gigantic " couch") and a
liberal allowance of cocoa-nut oil cake ("poonac"), are found to
succeed, although the manure is somewhat costly.

English or Australian sheep have hitherto been untried - for what
reason I cannot imagine, unless from the expense of their prime
cost, which is about two pounds per head. These thrive to such
perfection at Newera Ellia, and also in Kandy, that they should
succeed in a high degree in the medium altitudes of the coffee
estates. There are immense tracts of country peculiarly adapted
for sheep-farming throughout the highlands of Ceylon, especially
in the neighborhood of the coffee estates. There are two
enemies, however, against which they would have to contend -
viz., "leopards" and "leeches." The former are so destructive
that the shepherd could never lose sight of his flock without
great risk; but the latter, although troublesome, are not to be
so much dreaded as people suppose. They are very small, and the
quantity of blood drawn by their bite is so trifling that no
injury could possibly follow, unless from the flies, which would
be apt to attack the sheep on the smell of blood. These are
drawbacks which might be easily avoided by common precaution,
and I feel thoroughly convinced that sheep-farming upon the
highland pasturage would be a valuable adjunct to a coffee
estate, both as productive of manure and profit. I have heard the
same opinion expressed by an experienced Australian

This might be experimented upon in the "down" country of Ouva
with great hopes of success, and by a commencement upon a small
scale the risk would be trifling. Here there is an immense tract
of country with a peculiar short grass in every way adapted for
sheep-pasturage, and with the additional advantage of being
nearly free from leopards. Should sheep succeed on an extensive
scale the advantage to the farmer and to the colony would be

The depredations of leopards among cattle are no inconsiderable
causes of loss. At Newera Ellia hardly a week passes without
some casualty among the stock of different proprietors. Here the
leopards are particularly daring, and cases have frequently
occurred where they have effected their entrance to a cattle-shed
by scratching a hole through the thatched roof. They then commit
a wholesale slaughter among sheep and cattle. Sometimes,
however, they catch a "Tartar." The native cattle are small, but
very active, and the cows are particularly savage when the calf
is with them.

About three years ago a leopard took it into his head to try the
beefsteaks of a very savage and sharp-horned cow, who with her
calf was the property of the blacksmith. It was a dark, rainy
night, the blacksmith and his wife were in bed, and the cow and
her calf were nestled in the warm straw in the cattle-shed. The
door was locked, and all was apparently secure, where the hungry
leopard prowled stealthily round the cowhouse, sniffing the prey
within. The scent of the leopard at once aroused the keen senses
of the cow, made doubly acute by her anxiety for her little
charge, and she stood ready for the danger as the leopard, having
mounted on the roof, commenced scratching his way through the

Down he sprang!- but at the same instant, with a splendid charge,
the cow pinned him against the wall, and a battle ensued which
can easily be imagined. A coolie slept in the corner of the
cattle-shed, whose wandering senses were completely scattered
when he found himself the unwilling umpire of the fight. He
rushed out and shut the door. In a few minutes he succeeded in
awakening the blacksmith, who struck a light and proceeded to
load a pistol, the only weapon that he possessed. During the
whole of this time the bellowing of the cow, the roars of the
leopard and the thumping, trampling and shuffling which
proceeded from the cattle-shed, explained the savage nature of
the fight.

The blacksmith, who was no sportsman, shortly found himself with
a lanthorn in one hand, a pistol in the other, and no idea of
what he meant to do. He waited, therefore, at the cattle-shed
door, and holding the light so as to shine through the numerous
small apertures in the shed, he looked in.

The leopard no longer growled; but the cow was mad with fury.
She alternately threw a large dark mass above her head, then
quickly pinned it to the ground on its descent, then bored it
against the wall as it crawled helplessly toward a corner of the
shed. This was the "beef-eater" in reduced circumstances! The
gallant little cow had nearly killed him, and was giving him the
finishing strokes. The blacksmith perceived the leopard's
helpless state, and, boldly opening the door, he discharged his
pistol, and the next moment was bolting as hard as he could run,
with the warlike cow after him. She was regularly "up," and was
ready for anything or anybody. However, she was at length
pacified, and the dying leopard was put out of his misery.

There are two distinct species of the leopard in Ceylon - viz.,
the "chetah," and the "leopard" or "panther." There have been
many opinions on the subject, but I have taken particular notice
of the two animals, and nothing can be more clear than the

The "chetah" is much smaller than the leopard, seldom exceeding
seven feet from the nose to the end of tile tail. He is covered
with round black "spots" of the size of a shilling, and his
weight rarely exceeds ninety pounds.

The leopard varies from eight to nine feet in length, and has
been known to reach even ten feet. His body is covered with black
"rings," with a rich brown centre - his muzzle and legs are
speckled with black "spots," and his weight is from one hundred
and ten to one hundred and seventy pounds. There is little or no
distinction between the leopard and the panther, they are
synonymous terms for a variety of species in different countries.
In Ceylon all leopards are termed "chetahs" which proceeds from
the general ignorance of the presence of the two species.

The power of a leopard is wonderful in proportion to his weight.
I have seen a full-grown bullock with its neck broken by the
leopard that attacked it. It is the popular belief that the
effect is produced by a blow of the paw; this is not the case; it
is not simply the blow, but it is the combination of the weight,
the power and the momentum of the spring which renders the
effects of a leopard's attack so surprising.

Few leopards rush boldly to the attack like a dog; they stalk
their game and advance crouchingly, making use of every object
that will afford them cover until they are within a few bounds of
their prey. Then the immense power of muscle is displayed in the
concentrated energy of the spring; he flies through the air and
settles on the throat, usually throwing his own body over the
animal, while his teeth and claws are fixed on the neck; this is
the manner in which the spine of an animal is broken - by a
sudden twist, and not by a blow.

The blow from the paw is nevertheless immensely powerful, and at
one stroke will rip open a bullock like a knife ; but the after
effects of the wound are still more to be dreaded than the force
of the blow. There is a peculiar poison in the claw which is
highly dangerous. This is caused by the putrid flesh which they
are constantly tearing, and which is apt to cause gangrene by

It is a prevalent idea that a leopard will not eat putrid meat,
but that he forsakes a rotten carcase and seeks fresh prey.
There is no doubt that a natural love of slaughter induces him to
a constant search for prey, but it has nothing to do with the
daintiness of his appetite. A leopard will eat any stinking
offal that offers, and I once had a melancholy proof of this.

I was returning from a morning's hunting; it was a bitter day;
the rain was pouring in torrents, the wind was blowing a gale and
sweeping the water in sheets along the earth. The hounds were
following at my horse's heels, with their cars and sterns down,
looking very miserable, and altogether it was a day when man and
beast should have been at home. Presently, upon turning a corner
of the road, I saw a Malabar boy of about sixteen years of age,
squatted shivering by the roadside. His only covering being a
scanty cloth round his loins, I told him to get up and go on or
he would be starved with cold. He said something in reply, which
I could not understand, and repeating my first warning, I rode
on. It was only two miles to my house, but upon arrival I could
not help thinking that the boy must be ill, and having watched
the gate for some time to see if he passed by, I determined to
send for him.

Accordingly, I started off a couple of men with orders to carry
him up if he were sick.

They returned in little more than an hour, but the poor boy was
dead! - sitting crouched in the same position in which I had seen
him. He must have died of cold and starvation; he was a mere

I sent men to the spot, and had him buried by the roadside, and a
few days after I rode down to see where they had laid him.

A quantity of fresh-turned earth lay scattered about, mingled
with fragments of rags. Bones much gnawed lay here and there on
the road, and a putrid skull rolled from a shapeless hole among a
confused and horrible heap. The leopards had scratched him up
and devoured him; their footprints were still fresh upon the damp

Both leopards and chetahs are frequently caught at Newera Ellia.
The common trap is nothing more or less than an old-fashioned
mouse-trap, with a falling door on a large scale; this is baited
with a live kid or sheep; but the leopard is naturally so wary
that he frequently refuses to enter the ominous-looking building,
although he would not hesitate to break into an ordinary shed.
The best kind of trap is a gun set with a line, and the bait
placed so that the line must be touched as the animal advances
toward it. This is certain destruction to the leopard, but it is
extremely dangerous, in case any stranger should happen to be in
the neighborhood who might inadvertently touch the cord.

Leopards are particularly fond of stealing dogs, and have
frequently taken them from the very verandas of the houses at
Newera Ellia in the dusk of the evening. Two or three cases have
occurred within the last two years where they have actually
sprung out upon dogs who have been accompanying their owners upon
the high road in broad daylight. Their destruction should be
encouraged by a government reward of one pound per head, in which
case their number would be materially decreased in a few years.

The best traps for chetahs would be very powerful vermin-gins,
made expressly of great size and strength, so as to lie one foot
square when open. Even a common jackal-trap would hold a
leopard, provided the chain was fastened to an elastic bough, so
that it would yield slightly to his spring; but if it were
secured to a post, or to anything that would enable him to get a
dead pull against it, something would most likely give way. I
have constantly set these traps for them, but always without
success, as some other kind of vermin is nearly certain to spring
the trap before the chetah's arrival. Among the variety of small
animals thus caught I have frequently taken the civet cat. This
is a very pretty arid curious creature, about forty inches long
from nose to tip of tail. The fur is ash-gray, mottled with
black spots, and the tail is divided by numerous black rings. It
is of the genius Viverra, and is exceedingly fierce when
attacked. It preys chiefly upon fowls, hares, rats, etc. Its
great peculiarity is the musk-bag or gland situated nearly under
the tail; this is a projecting and valued gland, which secretes
the musk, and is used medicinally by the Cingalese, on which
account it is valued at about six shillings a pod. The smell is
very powerful, and in my opinion very offensive, when the animal
is alive; but when a pod of musk is extracted and dried, it has
nothing more than the well-known scent of that used by perfumers.
The latter is more frequently the production of the musk-deer,
although the scent is possessed by many animals, and also
insects, as the musk-ox, the musk-deer, the civet or musk-cat,
the musk-rat, the musk-beetle, etc.

Of these, the musk-rat is a terrible plague, as he perfumes
everything that he passes over, rendering fruit, cake, bread,
etc., perfectly uneatable, and even flavoring bottled wine by
running over the bottles. This, however, requires a little
explanation, although it is the popular belief that he taints the
wine through the glass.

The fact is, he taints the cork, and the flavor of musk is
communicated to the wine during the process of uncorking the

There is a great variety of rats in Ceylon, from the tiny shrew
to the large "bandicoot". This is a most destructive creature in
all gardens, particularly among potato crops, whole rows of which
he digs out and devours. He is a perfect rat in appearance, but
he would rather astonish one of our English tom-cats if
encountered during his rambles in search of rats, as the
"bandicoot" is about the same size as the cat.

There is an immense variety of vermin throughout Ceylon,
including many of that useful species the ichneumon, who in
courage and strength stands first of his tribe. The destruction
of snakes by this animal renders him particularly respected, and
no person ever thinks of destroying him. No matter how venomous
the snake, the ichneumon, or mongoose, goes straight at him, and
never gives up the contest until the snake is vanquished.

It is the popular belief that the mongoose eats some herb which
has the property of counteracting the effects of a venomous bite;
but this has been proved to be a fallacy, as pitched battles have
been witnessed between a mongoose and the most poisonous snakes
in a closed room, where there was no possibility of his procuring
the antidote. His power consists in his vigilance and activity;
he avoids the dart of the snake, and adroitly pins him by the
back of the neck. Here he maintains his hold, in spite of the
contortions and convulsive writhing of the snake, until he
succeeds in breaking the spine. A mongoose is about three feet
long from the nose to the tip of the tail, and is of the same
genus as the civet cat. Unfortunately, he does not confine his
destruction to vermin, but now and then pays a visit to a
hen-roost, and sometimes, poor fellow! he puts his foot in the

Ceylon can produce an enticing catalogue of attractions, from the
smallest to the largest of the enemies to the human race - ticks,
bugs, fleas, tarantulas, centipedes, scorpions, leeches, snakes,
lizards, crocodiles, etc., of which more hereafter.

CHAPTER VI. "Game Eyes" for Wild Sports - Enjoyments of Wild
Life - Cruelty of Sports - Native Hunters - Moormen Traders -
Their wretched Guns - Rifles and Smooth-bores - Heavy Balls and
Heavy Metal - Beattie's Rifles - Balls and Patches - Experiments
- The Double-groove - Power of Heavy Metal - Curious Shot at a
Bull Elephant - African and Ceylon Elephants - Structure of Skull
- Lack of Trophies - Boar-spears and Hunting-knives - " Bertram"
- A Boar Hunt - Fatal Cut.

In traveling through Ceylon, the remark is often made by the
tourist that "he sees so little game." From the accounts
generally written of its birds and beasts, a stranger would
naturally expect to come upon them at every turn, instead of
which it is a well-known fact that one hundred miles of the
wildest country may be traversed without seeing a single head of
game, and the uninitiated might become skeptical as to its

This is accounted for by the immense proportion of forest and
jungle, compared to the open country. The nature of wild animals
is to seek cover at sunrise, and to come forth at sunset;
therefore it is not surprising that so few are casually seen by
the passing traveler. There is another reason, which would
frequently apply even in an open country. Unless the traveler is
well accustomed to wild sports, he his not his "game eye" open in
fact; he either passes animals without observing them, or they
see him and retreat from view before he remarks them.

It is well known that the color of most animals is adapted by
Nature to the general tint of the country which they inhabit.
Thus, having no contrast, the animal matches with surrounding
objects, and is difficult to be distinguished.

It may appear ridiculous to say that an elephant is very
difficult to be seen! - he would be plain enough certainly on the
snow, or on a bright green meadow in England, where the
contrasted colors would make him at once a striking object; but
in a dense jungle his skin matches so completely with the dead
sticks and dry leaves, and his legs compare so well with the
surrounding tree-stems, that he is generally unperceived by a
stranger, even when pointed out to him. I have actually been
taking aim at an elephant within seven or eight paces, when he
has been perfectly unseen by a friend at my elbow, who was
peering through the bushes in quest of him.

Quickness of eye is an indispensable quality in sportsmen, the
possession of which constitutes one of their little vanities.
Nothing is so conducive to the perfection of all the senses as
the constant practice in wild and dangerous sports. The eye and
the ear become habituated to watchfulness, and their powers are
increased in the same proportion as the muscles of the body are
by exercise. Not only is an animal immediately observed, but
anything out of the common among surrounding objects instantly
strikes the attention; the waving of one bough in particular when
all are moving in the breeze; the switching of a deer's ear above
the long grass; the slight rustling of an animal moving in the
jungle. The senses are regularly tuned up, and the limbs are in
the same condition from continual exercise.

There is a peculiar delight, which passes all description, in
feeling thoroughly well-strung, mentally and physically, with a
good rifle in your hand and a trusty gun-bearer behind you with
another, thus stalking quietly through a fine country, on the
look-out for "anything," no matter what. There is a delightful
feeling of calm excitement, if I might so express it, which
nothing but wild sports will give. There is no time when a man
knows himself so thoroughly as when he depends upon himself, and
this forms his excitement. With a thorough confidence in the
rifle and a bright lookout, he stalks noiselessly along the open
glades, picking out the softest places, avoiding the loose stones
or anything that would betray his steps; now piercing the deep
shadows of the jungles, now scanning the distant plains, nor
leaving a nook or hollow unsearched by his vigilant gaze. The
fresh breakage of a branch, the barking of a tree-stem, the
lately nibbled grass, with the sap still oozing from the delicate
blade, the disturbed surface of a pool; everything is noted, even
to the alarmed chatter of a bird : nothing is passed unheeded by
an experienced hunter.

To quiet, steady-going people in England there is an idea of
cruelty inseparable from the pursuit of large game; people talk
of "unoffending elephants," "poor buffaloes," "pretty deer," and
a variety of nonsense about things which they cannot possibly
understand. Besides, the very person who abuses wild sports on
the plea of cruelty indulges personally in conventional
cruelties which are positive tortures. His appetite is not
destroyed by the knowledge that his cook his skinned the eels
alive, or that the lobsters were plunged into boiling water to be
cooked. He should remember that a small animal has the same
feeling as the largest and if he condemns any sport as cruel, he
must condemn all.

There is no doubt whatever that a certain amount of cruelty
pervades all sports. But in "wild sports" the animals are for
the most part large, dangerous and mischievous, and they are
pursued and killed in the most speedy, and therefore in the most
merciful, manner.

The government reward for the destruction of elephants in Ceylon
was formerly ten shillings per tail; it is now reduced to seven
shillings in some districts, and is altogether abolished in
others, as the number killed was so great that the government
imagined they could not afford the annual outlay.

Although the number of these animals is still so immense in
Ceylon, they must nevertheless have been much reduced within the
last twenty years. In those days the country was overrun with
them, and some idea of their numbers may be gathered from the
fact that three first-rate shots in three days bagged one hundred
and four elephants. This was told to me by one of the parties
concerned, and it throws our modern shooting into the shade. In
those days, however, the elephants were comparatively
undisturbed, and they were accordingly more easy to approach.
One of the oldest native hunters has assured me that he has seen
the elephants, when attacked, recklessly expose themselves to the
shots and endeavour to raise their dead comrades. This was at a
time when guns were first heard in the interior of Ceylon, and
the animals had never been shot at. Since that time the decrease
in the game of Ceylon has been immense. Every year increases the
number of guns in the possession of the natives, and accordingly
diminishes the number of animals. From the change which has come
over many parts of the country within my experience of the last
eight years, I am of opinion that the next ten years will see the
deer-shooting in Ceylon completely spoiled, and the elephants
very much reduced. There are now very few herds of elephants in
Ceylon that have not been shot at by either Europeans or natives,
and it is a common occurrence to kill elephants with numerous
marks of old bullet wounds. Thus the animals are constantly on
the "qui vive," and at the report of a gun every herd within
hearing starts off for the densest jungles.

A native can now obtain a gun for thirty shillings; and with two
shillings' worth of ammunition, he starts on a hunting trip.
Five elephants, at a reward of seven shillings per tail, more
than pay the prime cost of his gun, to say nothing of the deer
and other game that he has bagged in the interim.

Some, although very few, of the natives are good sportsmen in a
potting way. They get close to their game, and usually bag it.
This is a terrible system for destroying, and the more so as it
is increasing. There is no rest for the animals; in the day-time
they are tracked up, and on moonlight nights the drinking-places
are watched, and an unremitting warfare is carried on. This is
sweeping both deer and buffalo from the country, and must
eventually almost annihilate them.

The Moormen are the best hunters, and they combine sport with
trade in such a manner that "all is fish that comes to their
net." Five or six good hunters start with twenty or thirty
bullocks and packs. Some of these are loaded with common cloths,
etc., to exchange with the village people for dried venison; but
the intention in taking so many bullocks is to bring borne the
spoils of their hunting trip - in fact, to "carry the bag." They
take about a dozen leaves of the talipot palm to form a tent, and
at night-time, the packs, being taken off the bullocks, are piled
like a pillar in the centre, and the talipot leaves are formed in
a circular roof above them. The bullocks are then secured round
the tent to long poles, which are thrown upon the ground and
pinned down by crooked pegs.

These people have an intimate knowledge of the country, and are
thoroughly acquainted with the habits of the animals and the most
likely spots for game. Buffaloes, pigs and deer are
indiscriminately shot, and the flesh being cut in strips from the
bones is smoked over a green-wood fire, then thoroughly dried in
the sun and packed up for sale. The deer skins are also
carefully dried and rolled up, and the buffaloes' and deer horns
are slung to the packs.

Many castes of natives will not eat buffalo meat, others will not
eat pork, but all are particularly fond of venison. This the
Moorman fully understands, and overcomes all scruples by a
general mixture of the different meats, all of which he sells as
venison. Thus no animal is spared whose flesh can be passed off
for deer. Fortunately, their guns are so common that they will
not shoot with accuracy beyond ten or fifteen paces, or there
would be no game left within a few years. How these common guns
stand the heavy charges of powder is a puzzle. A native thinks
nothing of putting four drachms down a gun that I should be sorry
to fire off at any rate. It is this heavy charge which enables
such tools to kill elephants which would otherwise be
impossible. These natives look upon a first-class English rifle
with a sort of veneration. Such a weapon would be a perfect
fortune to one of these people, and I have often been astonished
that robberies of such things are not more frequent.

There is much difference of opinion among Ceylon sportsmen as to
the style of gun for elephant-shooting. But there is one point
upon which all are agreed, that no matter what the size of the
bore may be, all the guns should be alike, and the battery for
one man should consist of four double-barrels. The confusion in
hurried loading where guns are of different calibres is beyond

The size and the weight of guns must depend as much on the
strength and build of a man as a ship's armament does upon her
tonnage; but let no man speak against heavy metal for heavy game,
and let no man decry rifles and uphold smooth-bores (which is
very general), but rather let him say, "I cannot carry a heavy
gun," and "I cannot shoot with a rifle."

There is a vast difference between shooting at a target and
shooting at live game. Many men who are capital shots at
target-practice cannot touch a deer, and cannot even use the
rifle as a rifle at live game, but actually knock the sights out
and use it as a smoothbore. This is not the fault of the weapon;
it is the fault of the man. It is a common saying in Ceylon, and
also in India, that you cannot shoot quick enough with the rifle,
because you cannot get the proper sight in an instant.

Whoever makes use of this argument must certainly be in the habit
of very random shooting with a smoothbore. How can he possibly
get a correct aim with "ball" out of a smoothbore, without
squinting along the barrel and taking the muzzle-sight
accurately? The fact is, that many persons fire so hastily at
game that they take no sight at all, as though they were
snipe-shooting with many hundred grains of shot in the charge.
This will never do for ball-practice, and when the rifle is
placed in such hands, the breech-sights naturally bother the eye
which is not accustomed to recognize any sight; and while the
person is vainly endeavouring to get the sight correctly on a
moving object, the animal is increasing his distance. By way of
cutting the Gordian knot, he therefore knocks his sight out, and
accordingly spoils the shooting of the rifle altogether.

Put a rifle in the hands of a man who knows how to handle it, and
let him shoot against the mutilated weapon deprived of its sight,
and laugh at the trial. Why, a man might as well take the rudder
off a ship because he could not steer, and then abuse the vessel
for not keeping her course!

My idea of guns and rifles is this, that the former should be
used for what their makers intended them, viz., shot-shooting,
and that no ball should be fired from any but the rifle. Of
course it is just as easy and as certain to kill an elephant with
a smooth-bore as with a rifle, as he is seldom fired at until
within ten or twelve paces; but a man, when armed for wild sport,
should be provided with a weapon which is fit for any kind of
ball-shooting at any reasonable range, and his battery should be
perfect for the distance at which he is supposed to aim.

I have never seen any rifles which combine the requisites for
Ceylon shooting to such a degree as my four double-barreled No.
10, which I had made to order. Then some persons exclaim against
their weight, which is fifteen pounds per gun. But a word upon
that subject.

No person who understands anything about a rifle would select a
light gun with a large bore, any more than he would have a heavy
carriage for a small horse. If the man objects to the weight of
the rifle, let him content himself with a smaller bore, but do
not rob the barrels of their good metal for the sake of a heavy
ball. The more metal that the barrel possesses in proportion to
the diameter of the bore, the better will the rifle carry, nine
times out of ten. Observe the Swiss rifles for accurate
target-practice - again, remark the American pea rifle; in both
the thickness of metal is immense in proportion to the size of
the ball, which, in great measure, accounts for the precision
with which they carry.

In a light barrel, there is a vibration or jar at the time of
explosion, which takes a certain effect upon the direction of the
ball. This is necessarily increased by the use of a heavy charge
of powder; and it is frequently seen that a rifle which carries
accurately enough with a very small charge, shoots wide of the
mark when the charge is increased. This arises from several
causes, generally from the jar of the barrel in the stock,
proceeding either from the want of metal in the rifle or from
improper workmanship in the fittings.

To avoid this, a rifle should be made with double bolts and a
silver plate should always be let into the stock under the
breech; without which the woodwork will imperceptibly wear, and
the barrel will become loose in the stock and jar when fired.

There is another reason for the necessity of heavy barrels,
especially for two-grooved rifles. Unless the grooves he
tolerably deep, they will not hold the ball when a heavy charge
is behind it; it quits the grooves, strips its belt, and flies
out as though fired from a smoothbore.

A large-bore rifle is a useless incumbrance, unless it is so
constructed that it will bear a proportionate charge of powder,
and shoot as accurately with its proof charge as with a single
drachm. The object in a large bore is to possess an extra
powerful weapon, therefore the charge of powder must be increased
in proportion to the weight of the ball, or the extra power is
not obtained. Nevertheless, most of the heavy rifles that I have
met with will not carry an adequate charge of powder, and they
are accordingly no more powerful than guns of lighter bore which
carry their proportionate charge - the powder has more than its
fair amount of work.

Great care should be therefore taken in making rifles for heavy
game. There cannot be a better calibre than No 10; it is large
enough for any animal in the world, and a double-barreled rifle
of this bore, without a ramrod, is not the least cumbersome, even
at the weight of fifteen pounds. A ramrod is not required to be
in the gun for Ceylon shooting, as there is always a man behind
with a spare rifle, who carries a loading rod, and were a ramrod
fitted to a rifle of this size, it would render it very unhandy,
and would also weaken the stock.

The sights should be of platinum at the muzzle, and blue steel,
with a platinum strip with a broad and deep letter V cut in the
breech-sights. In a gloomy forest it is frequently difficult to
catch the muzzle sight, unless it is of some bright metal, such
as silver or platinum; and a broad cut in the breech-sights, if
shaped as described, allows a rapid aim, and may be taken fine or
coarse at option.

The charge of powder must necessarily depend upon its strength.
For elephant-shooting, I always rise six drachms of the best
powder for the No. 10 rifles, and four drachms as the minimum
charge for deer and general shooting; the larger charge is then
unnecessary; it both wastes ammunition and alarms the country by
the loudness of the report.

There are several minutiae to be attended to in the sports of
Ceylon. The caps should always be carried in a shot-charger (one
of the common spring-lid chargers) and never be kept loose in the
pocket. The heat is so intense that the perspiration soaks
through everything, and so injures the caps that the very best
will frequently miss fire.

The powder should be dried for a few minutes in the sun before it
is put into the flask, and it should be well shaken and stirred
to break any lumps that may be in it. One of these, by
obstructing the passage in the flask, may cause much trouble in
loading quickly, especially when a wounded elephant is regaining
his feet. In such a case you must keep your eyes on the animal
when loading, and should the passage of the powder-flask be
stopped by a lump, you may fancy the gun is loaded when in fact
not a grain of powder has entered it.

The patches should be of silk, soaked in a mixture of one part of
beeswax and two of fresh hog's lard, free from salt. If they are
spread with pure grease, it melts out of them in a hot country,
and they become dry. Silk is better than linen as it is not so
liable to be cut down by the sharp grooves of the rifle. It is
also thinner than linen or calico, and the ball is therefore more
easily rammed down.

All balls should be made of pure lead, without any hardening
mixture. It was formerly the fashion to use zinc balls, and lead
with a mixture of tin, etc., in elephant-shooting. This was not
only unnecessary, but the balls, from a loss of weight by
admixture with lighter metals, lost force in a proportionate
degree. Lead may be a soft metal, but it is much harder than any
animal's skull, and if a tallow candle can be shot through a deal
board, surely a leaden bullet is hard enough for an elephant's

I once tried a very conclusive experiment on the power of balls
of various metals propelled by an equal charge of powder.

I had a piece of wrought iron five-eights of an inch thick, and
six feet high by two in breadth. I fired at this at one hundred
and seventy yards with my two-grooved four-ounce rifle, with a
reduced charge of six drachms of powder and a ball of pure lead.
It bulged the iron like a piece of putty, and split the centre of
the bulged spot into a star, through the crevice of which I could
pass a pen-blade.

A ball composed of half zinc and half lead, fired from the same
distance, hardly produced a perceptible effect upon the iron
target. It just slightly indented it.

I then tried a ball of one-third zinc and two-thirds lead, but
there was no perceptible difference in the effect.

I subsequently tried a tin bill, and again a zinc ball, but
neither of them produced any other effect than slightly to indent
the iron.

I tried all these experiments again at fifty yards' range, with
the same advantage in favor of the pure lead; and at this reduced
distance a double-barreled No. 16 smoothbore, with a large charge
of four drachms of powder and a lead ball, also bulged and split
the iron into a star. This gun, with a hard tin ball and the
same charge of powder, did not produce any other effect than an
almost imperceptible indentation.

if a person wishes to harden a bill for any purpose, it should be
done by an admixture of quicksilver to the lead while the latter
is in a state of fusion, a few seconds before the ball is cast.
The mixture must be then quickly stirred with an iron rod, and
formed into the moulds without loss of time, as at this high
temperature the quicksilver will evaporate. Quicksilver is
heavier than lead, and makes a ball excessively hard; so much so
that it would very soon spoil a rifle. Altogether, the hardening
of a ball has been shown to be perfectly unnecessary, and the
latter receipt would be found very expensive.

If a wonderful effect is required, the steel-tipped conical ball
should be used. I once shot through fourteen elm planks, each
one inch thick, with a four-ounce steel-tipped cone, with the
small charge (for that rifle) of four drachms of powder. The
proper charge for that gun is one-fourth the weight of the ball,
or one ounce of powder, with which it carries with great nicety
and terrific effect, owing to its great weight of metal
(twenty-one pounds); but it is a small piece of artillery which
tries the shoulder very severely in the recoil.

I have frequently watched a party of soldiers winding along a
pass, with their white trousers, red coats, white cross-belts and
brass plates, at about four hundred yards, and thought what a
raking that rifle would give a body, of troops in such colors for
a mark. A ball of that weight with an ounce of powder, would
knock down six or eight men in a row. A dozen of such weapons
well handled on board a ship would create an astonishing effect;
but for most purposes the weight of the ammunition is a serious

There is a great difference of opinion among sportsmen regarding
the grooves of a rifle; some prefer the two-groove and belted
ball; others give preference to the eight or twelve-groove and
smoothbore. There are good arguments on both sides.

There is no doubt that the two-groove is the hardest hitter and
the longest ranger; it also has the advantage of not fouling so
quickly as the many-grooved. On the other hand, the
many-grooved is much easier to load; it hits quite hard enough;
and it ranges truly much farther than any person would think of
firing at an animal. Therefore, for sporting purposes, the only
advantage which the two-groove possesses is the keeping clean,
while the many-groove claims the advantage of quick loading.

The latter is by far the more important recommendation,
especially as the many-groove can be loaded without the
assistance of the eye, as the ball, being smooth and round, can
only follow the right road down the barrel. The two-grooved
rifle, when new, is particularly difficult to load, as the ball
must be tight to avoid windage, and it requires some nicety in
fitting and pressing the belt of the ball into the groove, in
such a manner that it shall start straight upon the pressure of
the loading-rod. If it gives a slight heel to one side at the
commencement, it is certain to stick in its course, and it then
occupies much time and trouble in being rammed home. Neither
will it shoot with accuracy, as, from the amount of ramming to
get the ball to its place, it has become so misshapen that it is
a mere lump of lead, and no longer a rifle-ball. My
double-barreled No. 10 rifles are two-grooved, and an infinity
of trouble they gave me for the first two years. Many a time I
have been giving my whole weight to the loading rod, with a ball
stuck half-way down the barrel, while wounded elephants lay
struggling upon the ground, expected every moment to rise. >From
constant use and repeated cleaning they have now become so
perfect that they load with the greatest ease; but guns of their
age are not fair samples of their class, and for rifles in
general for sporting purposes I should give a decided preference
to the many-groove. I have had a long two-ounce rifle of the
latter class, which I have shot with for many years, and it
certainly is not so hard a hitter as the two-grooved No. 10's;
but it hits uncommonly hard, too; and if I do not bag with it, it
is always my fault, and no blame can be attached to the rifle.

For heavy game-shooting, I do not think there can be a much
fairer standard for the charge of powder than one-fifth the
weight of the ball for all bores. Some persons do not use so
much as this; but I am always an advocate for strong guns and
plenty of powder.

A heavy charge will reach the brain of an elephant, no matter in
what position he may stand, provided a proper angle is taken for
attaining it. A trifling amount of powder is sufficient, if the
elephant offers a front shot, or the temple at right angles, or
the ear shot; but if a man pretend to a knowledge of
elephant-shooting, he should think of nothing but the brain, and
his knowledge of the anatomy of the elephant's head should be
such that he can direct a straight line to this mark from any
position. He then requires a rifle of such power that the ball
will crash through every obstacle along the course directed. To
effect this he must not be stingy of the powder.

I have frequently killed elephants by curious shots with the
rifles in this manner; but I once killed a bull elephant by one
shot in the upper jaw, which will at once exemplify the
advantage of a powerful rifle in taking the angle for the brain.

My friend Palliser and I were out shooting on the day previous,
and we had spent some hours in vainly endeavouring to track up a
single bull elephant. I forget what we bagged, but I recollect
well that we were unlucky in finding our legitimate game. That
night at dinner we heard elephants roaring in the Yallé river,
upon the banks of which our tent was pitched in fine open forest.
For about an hour the roaring was continued, apparently on both
sides the river, and we immediately surmised that our gentleman
friend on our side of the stream was answering the call of the
ladies of some herd on the opposite bank. We went to sleep with
the intention of waking at dawn of day, and then strolling
quietly along with only two gun-bearers each, who were to carry
my four double No 10's, while we each carried a single barrel for

The earliest gray tint of morning saw us dressed and ready, the
rifles loaded, a preliminary cup of hot chocolate swallowed, and
we were off while the forest was still gloomy; the night seemed
to hang about it, although the sky was rapidly clearing above.

A noble piece of Nature's handiwork is that same Yallé forest.
The river flows sluggishly through its centre in a breadth of
perhaps ninety yards, and the immense forest trees extend their
giant arms from the high banks above the stream, throwing dark
shadows upon its surface, enlivened by the silvery glitter of the
fish as they dart against the current. Little glades of rank
grass occasionally break the monotony of the dark forest; sandy
gullies in deep beds formed by the torrents of the rainy season
cut through the crumbling soil and drain toward the river. Thick
brushwood now and then forms an opposing barrier, but generally
the forest is beautifully open, consisting of towering trees, the
leviathans of their race, sheltering the scanty saplings which
have spring from their fallen seeds. For a few hundred yards on
either side of the river the forest extends in a ribbon-like
strip of lofty vegetation in the surrounding sea of low scrubby
jungle. The animals leave the low jungle at night, passing
through the forest on their way to the river to bathe and drink;
they return to the low and thick jungle at break of day and we
hoped to meet some of the satiated elephants on their way to
their dense habitations.

We almost made sure of finding our friend of yesterday's trek,
and we accordingly kept close to the edge of the river, keeping a
sharp eye for tracks upon the sandy bed below.

We had strolled for about a mile along the high bank of the river
without seeing a sign of an elephant, when I presently heard a
rustle in the branches before me, and upon looking up I saw a lot
of monkeys gamboling in the trees. I was carrying my long
two-ounce rifle, and I was passing beneath the monkey-covered
boughs, when I suddenly observed a young tree of the thickness of
a man's thigh shaking violently just before me.

It happened that the jungle was a little thicker in his spot, and
at the same moment that I observed the tree shaking almost over
me, I passed the immense stem of one of those smooth-barked trees
which grow to such an enormous size on the banks of rivers. At
the same moment that I passed it I was almost under the trunk of
a single bull elephant, who was barking the stem with his tusk as
high as he could reach, with his head thrown back. I saw in an
instant that the only road to his brain lay through his upper
jaw, in the position in which he was standing; and knowing that
he would discover me in another moment, I took the eccentric line
for his brain, and fired upward through his jaw. He fell stone
dead, with the silk patch of the rifle smoking in the wound.

Now in this position no light gun could have killed that
elephant; the ball had to pass through the roots of the upper
grinders, and keep its course through hard bones and tough
membranes for about two feet before it could reach the brain; but
the line was all right, and the heavy metal and charge of powder
kept the ball to its work.

This is the power which every elephant-gun should possess: it
should have an elephant's head under complete command in every

There is another advantage in heavy metal; a heavy ball will
frequently stun a vicious elephant when in full charge, when a
light ball would not check him; his quietus is then soon arranged
by another barrel. Some persons, however, place too much
confidence in the weight of the metal, and forget that it is
necessary to hold a powerful rifle as straight as the smallest
gun. It is then very common during a chase of a herd to see the
elephants falling tolerably well to the shots, but on a return
for their tails, it is found that the stunned brutes have
recovered and decamped.

Conical balls should never be used for elephants; they are more
apt to glance, and the concussion is not so great as that
produced by a round ball. In fact there is nothing more perfect
for sporting purposes than a good rifle from a first-rate maker,
with a plain ball of from No. 12 to No. 10. There can be no
improvement upon such a weapon for the range generally required
by a good shot.

I am very confident that the African elephant would be killed by
the brain-shot by Ceylon sportsmen with as much case as the
Indian species. The shape of the head has nothing whatever to do
with the shooting, provided the guns are powerful and the hunter
knows where the brain lies.

When I arrived in Ceylon one of my first visits was to the
museum at Colombo where I carefully examined the transverse
sections of an elephant's skull, until perfectly acquainted with
its details. From the museum I cut straight to the
elephant-stables and thoroughly examined the head of the living
animal, comparing it in my own mind with the skull, until I was
thoroughly certain of the position of the brain and the
possibility of reaching it from any position.

An African sportsmen would be a long time in killing a Ceylon
elephant, if he fired at the long range described by most
writers; in fact, he would not kill one out of twenty that he
fired at in such a jungle-covered country as Ceylon, where, in
most cases, everything depends upon the success of the first

It is the fashion in Ceylon to get as close as possible to an
elephant before firing; this is usually at about ten yards'
distance, at which range nearly every shot must be fatal. In
Africa, according to all accounts, elephants are fired at thirty,
forty, and even at sixty yards. It is no wonder, therefore, that
African sportsmen take the shoulder shot, as the hitting of the
brain would be a most difficult feat at such a distance, seeing
that the even and dusky color of an elephant's head offers no
peculiar mark for a delicate aim.

The first thing that a good sportsmen considers with every animal
is the point at which to aim so to bag him as speedily as
possible. It is well known that all animals, from the smallest to
the largest, sink into instant death when shot through the brain;
and that a wound through the lungs or heart is equally fatal,
though not so instantaneous. These are accordingly the points for
aim, the brain, from its small size, being the most difficult to
hit. Nevertheless, in a jungle country, elephants must be shot
through the brain, otherwise they would not be bagged, as they
would retreat with a mortal wound into such dense jungle that no
man could follow. Seeing how easily they are dropped by the
brainshot if approached sufficiently near to ensure the
correctness of the aim, no one would ever think of firing at the
shoulder who had been accustomed to aim at the head.

A Ceylon sportsman arriving in Africa would naturally examine the
skull of the African elephant, and when once certain of the
position of the brain he would require no further information.
Leave him alone for hitting it if he knew where it was.

What a sight for a Ceylon elephant-hunter would be the first view
of a herd of African elephants - all tuskers! In Ceylon, a
"tusker" is a kind of spectre, to be talked of by a few who have
had the good luck to see one. And when he is seen by a good
sportsman, it is an evil hour for him - he is followed till he
gives up his tusks.

It is a singular thing that Ceylon is the only part of the world
where the male elephant has no tusks; they have miserable little
grubbers projecting two or three inches from the upper jaw and
inclining downward. Thus a man may kill some hundred elephants
without having a pair of tusks in his possession. The largest
that I have seen in Ceylon were about six feet long, and five
inches in diameter in the thickest part. These would be
considered rather below the average in Africa, although in Ceylon
they were thought magnificent.

Nothing produces either ivory or horn in fine specimens
throughout Ceylon. Although some of the buffaloes have tolerably
fine heads, they will not bear a comparison with those of other
countries. The horns of the native cattle are not above four
inches in length. The elk and the spotted deer's antlers are
small compared with deer of their size on the continent of India.
This is the more singular, as it is evident from the geological
formation that at some remote period Ceylon was not an island,
but formed a portion of the mainland, from which it is now only
separated by a shallow and rocky of some few miles. In India the
bull elephants have tusks, and the cattle and buffaloes have very
large horns. My opinion is that there are elements wanting in
the Ceylon pasturage (which is generally poor) for the formation
of both horn and ivory. Thus many years of hunting and shooting
are rewarded by few trophies of the chase. So great is the
natural inactivity of the natives that no one understands the
preparation of the skins; thus all the elk and deer hides are
simply dried in the sun, and the hair soon rots and fills off.
In India, the skin of the Samber deer (the Ceylon elk) is prized
above all others, and is manufactured into gaiters, belts,
pouches, coats. breeches, etc.; but in Ceylon, these things are
entirety neglected by the miserable and indolent population,
whose whole thoughts are concentrated upon their bread, or rather
their curry and rice.

At Newera Ellia, the immense number of elk that I have killed
would have formed a valuable collection of skins had they been
properly prepared, instead of which the hair has been singed from
them, and they have been boiled up for dogs' meat.

Boars' hides have shared the same fate. These are far thicker
than those of the tame species, and should make excellent
saddles. So tough are they upon the live animal that it requires
a very sharp-pointed knife to penetrate them, and too much care
cannot be bestowed upon the manufacture of a knife for this style
of hunting, as the boar is one of the fiercest and dangerous of

Living in the thickest jungles, he rambles out at night in search
of roots, fruits, large earthworms, or anything else that he can
find, being, like his domesticated brethren, omnivorous. He is a
terrible enemy to the pack, and has cost me several good dogs
within the last few years. Without first-rate seizers it would
be impossible to kill him with the knife without being ripped, as
he invariably turns to bay after a short run in the thickest
jungle he can find. There is no doubt that a good stout
boar-spear, with a broad blade and strong handle, is the proper
weapon for the attack; but a spear is very unhandy and even
dangerous to carry in such a hilly country as the neighbourhood
of Newera Ellia. The forests are full of steep ravines and such
tangled underwood that following the hounds is always an arduous
task, but with a spear in the hand it is still more difficult,
and the point is almost certain to get injured by striking
against the numerous rocks, in which case it is perfectly useless
when perhaps most required. I never carry a spear for these
reasons, but am content with the knife, as in my opinion any
animal that can beat off good bounds and a long knife deserves to

My knife was made to my own pattern by Paget of Piccadilly. The
blade is one foot in length, and two inches broad in the widest
part, and slightly concave in the middle. The steel is of the
most exquisite quality, and the entire knife weighs three pounds.
The peculiar shape added to the weight of the blade gives an
extraordinary force to a blow, and the blade being double-edged
for three inches from the point, inflicts a fearful wound:
altogether it is a very desperate weapon, and admirably adapted
for this kind of sport.

A feat is frequently performed by the Nepaulese by cutting off a
buffalo's head at one blow of a sabre or tulwal. The blade of
this weapon is peculiar, being concave, and the extremity is far
heavier than the hilt; the animal's neck is tied down to a post,
so as to produce a tension on the muscles, without which the
blow, however great, would have a comparatively small effect.

The accounts of this feat always appeared very marvellous to my
mind, until I one day unintentionally performed something similar
on a small scale with the hunting-knife.

I was out hunting in the Elk Plains, and having drawn several
jungles blank, I ascended the mountains which wall in the western
side of the patinas (grass-plains), making sure of finding an elk
near the summit. It was a lovely day, perfectly calm and
cloudless; in which weather the elk, especially the large bucks,
are in the habit of lying high up the mountains.

I had nine couple of hounds out, among which were some splendid
seizers, "Bertram," "Killbuck," "Hecate," "Bran," "Lucifer," and
"Lena," the first three being progeny of the departed hero, old
"Smut," who had been killed by a boar a short time before. They
were then just twelve months old, and "Bertram" stood
twenty-eight and a half inches high at the shoulder. To him his
sire's valor had descended untarnished, and for a dog of his
young age he was the most courageous that I have ever seen. In
appearance he was a tall Manilla bloodhound, with the strength of
a young lion; very affectionate in disposition, and a general
favorite, having won golden opinions in every contest. Whenever
a big buck was at bay, and punishing the leading hounds, he was
ever the first to get his hold; no matter how great the danger,
he never waited but recklessly dashed in. "There goes Bertram!
Look at Bertram! Well done, Bertram!" were the constant
exclamations of a crowd of excited spectators when a powerful
buck was brought to bay. He was a wonderful dog, but I
prophesied an early grave for him, as no dog in the world could
long escape death who rushed so recklessly upon his dangerous
game.* His sister "Hecate," was more careful, and she is alive at
this moment, and a capital seizer of great strength combined with
speed, having derived the latter from her dam, "Lena," an
Australian greyhound, than whom a better or truer bitch never
lived. "Old Bran," and his beautiful son "Lucifer," were fine
specimens of grayhound and deerhound, and as good as gold.
*Speared through the body by the horns of a buck elk and killed
shortly after this was written.

There was not a single elk track the whole of the way up the
mountain, and upon arriving at the top, I gave up all hope of
finding for that day, and I enjoyed the beautiful view over the
vast valley of forest which lay below, spangled with green
plains, and bounded by the towering summit of Adam's Peak, at
about twenty-five miles' distance. The coffee estates of
Dimboola lay far beneath upon the right, and the high mountains
of Kirigallapotta and Totapella bounded the view upon the left.

There is a good path along the narrow ridge on the summit of the
Elk Plain hills, which has been made by elephants. This runs
along the very top of the knife-like ridge, commanding a view of
the whole country to the right and left. The range is terminated
abruptly by a high peak, which descends in a sheer precipice at
the extremity.

I strolled along the elephant-path, intending to gain the extreme
end of the range for the sake of the view, when I suddenly came
upon the track of a "boar," in the middle of the path. It was
perfectly fresh, as were also the ploughings in the ground close
by, and the water of a small pool was still curling with clouds
of mud, showing most plainly that he had been disturbed from his
wallowing by my noise in ascending the mountain-side.

There was no avoiding the find; and away went "Bluebeard,"
"Ploughboy," "Gaylass" and all the leading hounds, followed by
the whole pack, in full chorus, straight along the path at top
speed. Presently they turned sharp to the left into the thick
jungle, dashing down the hillside as though off to the Elk Plains
below. At this pace I knew the hunt would not last long, and
from my elevated stand I waited impatiently for the first sounds
of the bay. Round they turned again, up the steep hillside, and
the music slackened a little, as the bounds had enough to do in
bursting through the tangled bamboo up the hill.

Presently, I heard the rush of the boar in the jungle, coming
straight up the hill toward the spot where I was standing; and,
fearing that he might top the ridge and make down the other side
toward Dimboola, I gave him a halloo to head him back. Hark,
for-r-rard to him! yo-o-ick! to him!

Such a yell, right in his road, astonished him, and, as I
expected, he headed sharp back. Up came the pack, going like
race-horses, and wheeling off where the game had turned, a few
seconds running along the side of the mountain, and then such a
burst of music! such a bay! The boar had turned sharp round, and
had met the hounds on a level platform on the top of a ridge.

"Lucifer" never leaves my side until we are close up to the bay;
and plunging and tearing through the bamboo grass and tangled
nillho for a few hundred yards, I at length approached the spot,
and I heard Lord Bacon grunting and roaring loud above the din of
the hounds.

Bertram has him for a guinea! Hold him, good lad! and away
dashed "Lucifer" from my side at the halloo.

In another moment I was close up, and with my knife ready I broke
through the dense jungle and was immediately in the open space
cleared by the struggles of the boar and pack. Unluckily, I had
appeared full in the boar's front, and though five or six of the
large seizers had got their holds, he made a sudden charge at me
that shook them all off, except "Bertram" and "Lena."

It was the work of an instant, as I jumped quickly on one side,
and instinctively made a downward cut at him in passing. He fell
all of a heap, to the complete astonishment of myself and the
furious pack.

He was dead! killed by one blow with the hunting knife. I had
struck him across the back just behind the shoulders, and the
wound was so immense that he had the appearance of being nearly
half divided. Not only was the spine severed, but the blade had
cut deep into his vitals and produced instant death.

One of the dogs was hanging on his hind quarters when he charged,
and as the boar was rushing forward, the muscles of the back were
accordingly stretched tight, and thus the effect of the cut was
increased to this extraordinary degree. He was a middling-sized
boar, as near as I could guess, about two and a half

Fortunately, none of the pack were seriously hurt, although his
tusks were as sharp as a knife. This was owing to the short
duration of the fight, and also to the presence of so many
seizers, who backed each other up without delay.

There is no saying to what size a wild boar grows. I have never
killed them with the hounds above four hundredweight; but I have
seen solitary boars in the low country, that must have weighed
nearly double.

I believe the flesh is very good; by the natives it is highly
prized; but I have so strong a prejudice against it from the
sights I have seen of their feasting upon putrid elephants that I
never touch it.

The numbers of wild hogs in the low country is surprising, and
these are most useful in cleaning up the carcases of dead animals
and destroying vermin. I seldom or never fire at hog in those
districts, as their number is so great that there is no sport in
shooting them. They travel about in herds of one and two hundred,
and even more. These are composed of sows and young boars, as
the latter leave the herd when arrived at maturity.

CHAPTER VII. Curious Phenomenon - Panorama of Ouva - South-west
Monsoon - Hunting Followers - Fort M'Donald - River - Jungle
Paths - Dangerous Locality - Great Waterfall - Start for Hunting
- The Find - A Gallant Stag - "Bran" and Lucifer" - "Phrenzy's"
Death - Buck at Bay - The Cave Hunting-box- "Madcap's" Dive - Elk
Soup - Former Inundation - " Bluebeard" leads off - " Hecate's"
Course -The Elk's Leap - Variety of Deer - The Axis - Ceylon
Bears - Variety of Vermin - Trials for Hounds - Hounds and their
Masters - A Sportsman "shut up"- A Corporal and Centipede.

>From June to November the south-west monsoon brings wind and
mist across the Newera Ellia mountains.

Clouds of white fog boil up from the Dimboola valley like the
steam from a huge cauldron, and invade the Newera Ellia plain
through the gaps in the mountains to the westward.

The wind howls over the high ridges, cutting the jungle with its
keen edge, so that it remains as stunted brushwood, and the
opaque screen of driving fog and drizzling rain is so dense that
one feels convinced there is no sun visible within at least a
hundred miles.

There is a curious phenomenon, however, in this locality. When
the weather described prevails at Newera Ellia, there is actually
not one drop of rain within four miles of my house in the
direction of Badulla. Dusty roads, a cloudless sky and dazzling
sunshine astonish the thoroughly-soaked traveler, who rides out
of the rain and mist into a genial climate, as though he passed
through a curtain. The wet weather terminates at a mountain
called Hackgalla (or more properly Yakkadagalla, or iron rock).
This bold rock, whose summit is about six thousand five hundred
feet above the sea, breasts the driving wind and seems to command
the storm. The rushing clouds halt in their mad course upon its
crest and curl in sudden impotence around the craggy summits.
The deep ravine formed by an opposite mountain is filled with the
vanquished mist, which sinks powerless in its dark gorge; and the
bright sun, shining from the east, spreads a perpetual rainbow
upon the gauze-like cloud of fog which settles in the deep

This is exceedingly beautiful. The perfect circle of the rainbow
stands like a fairy spell in the giddy depth of the hollow, and
seems to forbid the advance of the monsoon. All before is bright
and cloudless; the lovely panorama of the Ouva country spreads
before the eye for many miles beneath the feet. All behind is
dark and stormy; the wind is howling, the forests are groaning,
the rain is pelting upon the hills.

The change appears impossible; but there it is, ever the same;
season after season, year after year, the rugged top of Hackgalla
struggles with the storms, and ever victorious the cliffs smile
in the sunshine on the eastern side; the rainbow reappears with
the monsoon, and its vivid circle remains like the guardian
spirit of the valley,.

It is impossible to do justice to the extraordinary appearance of
this scene by description. The panoramic view in itself is
celebrated; but as the point in the road is reached where the
termination of the monsoon dissolves the cloud and rain into a
thin veil of mist, the panorama seen through the gauze-like
atmosphere has the exact appearance of a dissolving view; the
depth, the height and distance of every object, all great in
reality, are magnified by the dim and unnatural appearance; and
by a few steps onward the veil gradually fades away, and the
distant prospect lies before the eye with a glassy clearness made
doubly striking by the sudden contrast.

The road winds along about midway up the mountain, bounded on the
right by the towering cliffs and sloping forest of Hackgalla, and
on the left by the almost precipitous descent of nearly one
thousand feet, the sides of which are clothed by alternate forest
and waving grass. At the bottom flows a torrent, whose roar,
ascending from the hidden depth, increases the gloomy mystery of
the scene.

On the north, east and south-east of Newera Ellia the sunshine is
perpetual during the reign of the misty atmosphere, which the
south-west monsoon drives upon the western side of the mountains.
Thus, there is always an escape open from the wet season at
Newera Ellia by a short walk of three or four miles.

A long line of dark cloud is then seen, terminated by a bright
blue sky. So abrupt is the line and the cessation of the rain
that it is difficult to imagine how the moisture is absorbed.

This sudden termination of the cloud-capped mountain gives rise
to a violent wind in the sunny valleys and bare hills beneath.
The chilled air of Newera Ellia pours down into the sun-warmed
atmosphere below, and creates a gale that sweeps across the
grassy hilltops with great force, giving the sturdy rhododendrons
an inclination to the north-east which clearly marks the
steadiness of the monsoon.

It is not to be supposed, however, that Newera Ellia lies in
unbroken gloom for months together. One month generally brings a
share of uninterrupted bad weather; this is from the middle of
June to the middle of July. This is the commencement of the
south-west monsoon, which usually sets in with great violence.
The remaining portion of what is called the wet season, till the
end of November, is about as uncertain as the climate of England
- some days fine, others wet, and every now and then a week of
rain at one bout.

A thoroughly saturated soil, with a cold wind, and driving rain
and forests as full of water as sponges, are certain destroyers
of scent; hence, hunting at Newera Ellia is out of the question
during such weather. The hounds would get sadly out of
condition, were it not for the fine weather in the vicinity which
then invites a trip.

I have frequently walked ten miles to my hunting grounds,
starting before daybreak, and then after a good day's sport up
and down the steep mountains, I have returned home in the
evening. But this is twelve hours' work, and it is game thrown
away, as there is no possibility of getting the dead elk home.
An animal that weighs between four hundred and four hundred and
fifty pounds without his insides, is not a very easy creature to
move; at any time, especially in such a steep mountainous country
as the neighborhood of Newera Ellia. As previously described, at
the base of the mountains are cultivated rice-lands, generally
known as paddy-fields, where numerous villages have sprung up
from the facility with which a supply of water is obtained from
the wild mountains above them. I have so frequently given the
people elk and hogs which I have killed on the heights above
their paddy-fields that they are always on the alert at the sound
of the bugle, and a few blasts from the mountain-top immediately
creates a race up from the villages, some two or three thousand
feet below. Like vultures scenting carrion, they know that an
elk is killed, and they start off to the well-known sound like a
pack of trained hounds. Being thorough mountaineers, they are
extraordinary fellows for climbing the steep grassy sides. With
a light stick about six feet long in one hand, they will start
from the base of the mountains and clamber up the hillsides in a
surprisingly short space of time, such as would soon take the
conceit out of a "would-be pedestrian." This is owing to the
natural advantages of naked feet and no inexpressibles.

Whenever an elk has given a long run in the direction of this
country, and after a persevering and arduous chase of many hours,
I have at length killed him on the grassy heights above the
villages, I always take a delight in watching the tiny specks
issuing from the green strips of paddy as the natives start off
at the sound of the horn.

At this altitude, it requires a sharp eye to discern a man, but
at length they are seen scrambling up the ravines and gullies and
breasting the sharp pitches, until at last the first man arrives
thoroughly used up and a string of fellows of lesser wind come
in, in sections, all thoroughly blown.

However, the first man in never gets the lion's share, as the
poor old men, with willing spirits and weak flesh, always bring
up the rear, and I insist upon a fair division between the old
and young, always giving an extra piece to a man who happens to
know a little English. This is a sort of reward for
acquirements, equivalent to a university degree, and he is
considered a literary character by his fellows.

There is nothing that these people appreciate so much as elk and
hog's flesh. Living generally upon boiled rice and curry
composed of pumpkins and sweet potatoes, they have no
opportunities of tasting meat unless upon these occasions.

During the very wet weather at Newera Ellia I sometimes take the
pack and bivouac for a fortnight in the fine-weather country.
About a week previous I send down word to the village people of
my intention, but upon these occasions I never give them the elk.
I always insist upon their bringing rice, etc., for the dogs and
myself in exchange for venison, otherwise I should have some
hundreds of noisy, idle vagabonds flocking up to me like

Of course I give them splendid bargains, as I barter simply on
the principle that no man shall come for nothing. Thus, if a man
assist in building the kennel, or carrying a load, or cutting
bed-grass, or searching for lost hounds, he gets a share of meat.
The others bring rice, coffee, fowls, eggs, plantains,
vegetables, etc., which I take at ridiculous rates-a bushel of
rice for a full-grown elk, etc., the latter being worth a couple
of pounds and the rice about seven shillings. Thus the hounds
keep themselves in rice and supply me with everything that I
require during the trip, at the same time gratifying the natives.

The direct route to this country was unknown to Europeans at
Newera Ellia until I discovered it one day, accidentally, in
following the hounds.

A large tract of jungle-covered hill stretches away from the Moon
Plains at Newera Ellia toward the east, forming a hog's back of
about three and a half miles in length. Upon the north side this
shelves into a deep gorge, at the bottom of which flows, or
rather tumbles, Fort M'Donald river on its way to the low
country, through forest-covered hills and perpendicular cliffs,
until it reaches the precipitous patina mountains, when, in a
succession of large cataracts, it reaches the paddy-fields in the
first village of Peréwellé (guava paddy-field). Thus the river
in the gorge below runs parallel to the long hog's back of
mountain. This is bordered on the other side by another ravine
and smaller torrent, to which the Badulla road runs parallel
until it reaches the mountain of Hackgalla, at which place the
ravine deepens into the misty gorge already described.

At one time, if an elk crossed the Badulla road and gained the
Hog's Back jungle, both he and the hounds were lost, as no one
could follow through such impenetrable jungle without knowing
either the distance or direction.

"They are gone to Fort M'Donald river!" This was the despairing
exclamation at all times when the pack crossed the road, and we
seldom saw the hounds again until late that night or on the
following day. Many never returned, and Fort M'Donald river
became a by-word as a locality to be always dreaded.

After a long run one day, the pack having gone off in this fatal
direction, I was determined, at any price, to hunt them up, and
accordingly I went some miles down the Badulla road to the
limestone quarries, which are five miles from the Newera Ellia
plain. From this point I left the road and struck down into the
deep, grassy valley, crossing the river (the same which runs by
the road higher up) and continuing along the side of the valley
until I ascended the opposite range of hills. Descending the
precipitous side, I at length reached the paddy-fields in the low
country, which were watered by Fort M'Donald river, and I looked
up to the lofty range formed by the Hog's Back hill, now about
three thousand feet above me. Thus I had gained the opposite
side of the Hog's Back, and, after a stiff pull lip the mountain,
I returned home by a good path which I had formerly discovered
along the course of the river through the forest to Newera Ellia,
via Rest-and-be-Thankful Valley and the Barrack Plains, having
made a circuit of about twenty-five miles and become thoroughly
conversant with all the localities. I immediately determined to
have a path cut from the Badulla Road across the Hog's Back
jungle to the patinas which looked down upon Fort M'Donald on the
other side and, up which I had ascended on my return. I judged
the distance would not exceed two miles across, and I chose the
point of junction with the Badulla road two miles and a half from
my house. My reason for this was, that the elk invariably took
to the jungle at this place, which proved it to be the easiest

This road, on completion, answered every expectation, connecting
the two sides of the Hog's Back by an excellent path of about two
miles, and débouching on the opposite side on a high patina peak
which commanded the whole country. Thus was the whole country
opened up by this single path, and should an elk play his old
trick and be off across the Hog's Back to Fort M'Donald river, I
could be there nearly as soon as he could, and also keep within
hearing of the bounds throughout the run.

I was determined to take the tent and regularly hunt up the whole
country on the other side of the Hog's Back, as the weather was
very bad at Newera Ellia, while in this spot it was beautifully
fine, although very windy.

I therefore sent on the tent, kennel-troughs and pots, and all
the paraphernalia indispensable for the jungle, and on the 31st
May, 1852, I started, having two companions - Capt. Pelly,
Thirty-seventh Regiment, who was then commandant of Newera Ellia,
and his brother on a visit. It was not more than an hour and a
half's good walking from my house to the high patina peak upon
which I pitched the tent, but the country and climate are so
totally distinct from anything at Newera Ellia that it gives
every one the idea of being fifty miles away.

We hewed out a spacious arbor at the edge of the jungle, and in
this I had the tent pitched to protect it from the wind, which it
did effectually, as well as the kennel, which was near the same
spot. The servants made a good kitchen, and the encampment was
soon complete.

There never could have been a more romantic or beautiful spot
for a bivouac. To the right lay the distant view of the low
country, stretching into an undefined distance, until the land
and sky appeared to melt together. Below, at a depth of about
three thousand feet, the river boiled through the rocky gorge
until it reached the village of Peréwellé at the base of the line
of mountains, whose cultivated paddy-fields looked no larger than
the squares upon a chess-board. On the opposite side of the
river rose a precipitous and impassable mountain, even to a
greater altitude than the facing ridge upon which I stood,
forming as grand a foreground as the eye could desire. Above,
below, around, there was the bellowing sound of heavy cataracts
echoed upon all sides.

Certainly this country is very magnificent, but it is an awful
locality for hunting, as the elk has too great an advantage over
both hounds and hunters. Mountainous patinas of the steepest
inclination, broken here and there by abrupt precipices, and with

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