Page images

regardemy of the King of the Vaziconduct app

[ocr errors]

and been found faulty, by my head (an oath of no small force) he should have been cut in as many parts as there be days in the year and burnt in the open market with dog's turds.”

But after this he took no further notice of Sir Robert Sherley. This ungracious and ungrateful conduct apparently was partly owing to the influence of the Vazir Malomed Ali Beg, who was an old enemy of the Knight, partly to a change in the Shah's views in regard to European policy, partly to caprice, and above all to the fact that Sir Robert's work was now done ; his campaigning, voyages and troubles had made him prematurely old and infirm, and his presence was a constant reminder of claims for past service, which Shah Abbas was desirous to get rid of. Sir Robert's pension was considerably reduced, himself treated with neglect by the Shah, and with insult by the Vazir, and all his demands for enquiry or justice disregarded. These causes coupled with a broken constitution and previous anxieties, brought him to his grave on the 13th July, 1927, at Kasbin,-and according to Herbert “wanting a fitter place of burial we laid him under the threshold of his own door, without further noise or ceremony." Thus passed away a brave and adventurous spirit, a victim to Royal ingratitude, and an instance of the precarious nature of worldly prosperity and reputation. His faithful wife, who had shared all his fortunes, attended him at his death. Even then her misfortunes did not end; a Dutch Jew painter and one Crole a Fleming, who had both been some years in Persia,-most probably introduced by Sir Robert-advanced claims against the estate; in which they were supported by the Vazir, and under his authority they seized the property of the deceased Knight. Through the friendly offices of some members of Sir Dodmore Catton's Embassy she saved some of her jewels. With the proceeds of these she was enabled to leave Persia with the remnant of the Embassy-Sir Dodmore Catton having followed Sir Robert to the grave within the year—and ultimately found her way to Rome, where she finally ended her days in a convent.

Thus ended the first English attempt to establish a military and political influence in Persia. Although the idea originated entirely with Sir Anthony, who fairly opened the way, the details, slight and incomplete as they may have been, were carried out during a quarter of a century by Sir Robert Sherley.

He appears to have possessed many of his brothers' good qualities, but to have lacked the knowledge of the world, the tact, and also the education and literary abilities which Sir Anthony possessed. Moreover, commencing his career in Persia at an early age, he seems to have imbibed many of the ideas and prejudices of his adopted country, which were not at that period understood in Europe.

Perhaps a more appropriate summary of his career, wherewith to conclude our article, cannot be found than in the epitaph written at the time of his death by Sir Thomas Herbert :

“Lo here, the limits to whose restless brain,
No travels set, this Urn doth now contain.
A German Count I was ; the Papal State
Impower'd me th' Indians to legitimate.
Men, manners, countreys to observe and see
Was my ambition and felicitie.
The Persians last I viewed, with full desire
To purge my Fame, blurr'd by a Pagan's ire ;
Which done, death stopt my passage. Thus the mind
Which reacht the poles, is by this porch confin'd.

Reader ! live happy still in home contents,

Since outward hopes are but rich banishments.
After land-sweats and many a storm by sea,
This hillock aged Sherley's rest must be.
He well had viewed arms, men and fashions strange
In divers lands. Desire so makes us range.
Sad turning course, whilst the Persian tyrant he,
With well dispatched charge, hop'd glad would be.
See Fortune's scorn! Under this door he lies,
Who, living, had no place to rest his eyes.
With what sad thoughts man's mind long hopes do twine,
Learn by another's loss but not by thine."



JUNE, 1856.

Art. 1.-1. Blue Books from Ceylon for the years 1836 to 1854. 2. Evidence taken before the Committee of the House of Com

mons appointed to enquire into the administration of the

Government of Ceylon, in 1849-50, 2 vols. 3. Ceylon Almanac, 1834 to 1855. 4. Colombo Observer, from 1834 to November, 1855. 5. Ceylon Herald, from 1838 to 1846. 6. Ceylon Examiner, from 1846 to 1855, 7. Ceylon Times, from 1847 to 1855. 8. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society,

Nos. 1 to 6. 9. Young Ceylon, Nos. 1 to 5.

FIFTEEN years ago it would have been difficult to find any book of travel, touching upon “the utmost Indian Isle,” that was not pretty nearly half a century old. Old John Knox, Cordiner, Davy and one or two others of less note and trustworthiness, were the sole authors on Ceylonese subjects, and it may not be too much to say that at the period to which we refer the reading portion of the community of Great Britain knew about as much concerning the Island of Ceylon as they did of Pa. tagonia or Kamschatka. It is true Miss Martineau had handled the question of Colonial Government monopolies in her PoliticoEconomical Tale of “Cinnamon and Pearls;" but that clever woman had so little understood the subject, or had been so grievously misinformed on all that concerned either Pearl Fishing or Cinnamon cultivation, that her readers found themselves on laying down her little book more profoundly ignorant of the state of things in that dependancy of the British crown, than before they had perused a single page of it.

JUNE, 1856.

Past and ils elsewhereof the eastern which

So little informed were the English public in regard to Ceylon that when Coffee planting first called a little attention to its existence, there were not a few who confounded its name with Sierra Leone : even amongst the officials in Downing Street there were three who had but an indistinct idea of its geography, believing it to be “somewhere in India,” the self-same young gentlemen probably, who not very long since despatched à Government consignment of an iron Lighthouse and a few other small items for the Sydney authorities, by a vessel sailing to Port Philip, imagining that because the latter place was in Australia it could not be far from the former, and that the things would be all right!

Whatever the amount of literature relating to our actual knowledge of Ceylon a score of years since, we must candidly confess that there is at the present moment no lack of writers on the subject, though we can scarcely say as much for the sound or useful information given to the world in most of the books which have appeared. A full and faithful account of Ceylon and the Ceylonese has yet to be written ; and in our own desire to lay before our readers a concise yet reliable paper on the Past and Present of that Island, we have been compelled to seek its materials elsewhere than in the volumes which have been written upon “the Eden of the eastern wave.

The publications, the titles of which head this article, heterogenous as they may appear, in reality contain far more matter to our purpose than scores of such books as the “Rifle and the Hound, the “Bungalow and the Tent,” “Rambles in Ceylon," &c. The Blue Book annually forwarded to the Secretary of State for the Colonies by the Governor for the time being, has been often full of highly interesting matter, since the time when the financial state of the Island attracted the attention of Earl Grey, then Colonial Secretary of State. But from the arrival of the Indian Civilian, who until recently ruled the destinies of the Isle of Coffee and Cinnamon, these official annuals have quietly fallen back to their former stereotyped insipidity, and we may look in vain for any suggestive matter in their pages. It would be well indeed for the governed equally with the governing, if the authorities of British Colonies and Settlements were to make these Blue Book Returns as full and as faithful as they might be made. As it is, an interesting document is an exception to the rule in these matters, and one might easily imagine from a perusal of them that our Colonial Governors treat the execution of this important duty pretty much as idle school-boys take in hand the Latin grammar.

The Evidence printed by the Ceylon Committee of Enquiry, although taking a very different and much wider range than the wording of Mr. H. Baillie's motion led the public to expect, nevertheless contains a great deal of very valuable and suggestive matter touching the mode of administering the Government, the state of political factions and of society, the agricultural and commercial statistics of the Island, together with much of interest concerning the native community.

The Ceylon newspapers too, although differing very materially from those of the Presidencies or of Europe, contain much valuable matter scattered through their columns, especially the first amongst them, the Observer, which was originally established by the merchants of Colombo and edited by one of their body, with a view to combat the Tory obstructiveness of the existing Go. vernment. How successfully that infant journal,-infant in its age but mature and vigorous in its advocacy of popular reforms and good government,-fulfilled its mission, is best known to those who watched its struggles at a time when Ceylon was unknown to the world, and possessed even less of a “public" than is to be found in continental India at the present day.

One of the Ceylon Journals,* nine years ago, in treating of this very subject says, when drawing a comparison between the local newspapers of that day and of a former period :

“The first thing which strikes the eye, is the vast increase in the number of advertisements, which now occupy as much printed space as the entire newspaper of a few years back. The nature of the advertisements themselves, indicates at once a new order of things. The signatures show a great increase in the commer. cial community. Life, Fire, and Marine Insurance Companies have their agents here. Merchants advertise to peel and prepare Coffee (from estates which were forest seven years ago.) Three local Companies have lately been established, the Insurance Company, the Conveyance Company, and the Boat Company. Two Banks rear their ambitious heads in our principal street, and advertise their rates of Exchange. Sales are now announced to be held at the Exchange Rooms. The Exchange itself, a building of the Ceylonese mercantile composite order of architecture, now embellishes King Street. Three Steam Navigation Companies have their agencies here. Two Libraries in the Fort alone will soon be on foot : one, the United Service, has existed many years ; another under the auspices of the mercantile body, intended to be formed on a more liberal basis, is now about to be established. The Masonic Lodge has been revived; Masonry is all the rage; the number of Masons is becoming formidable.

"By the advertisements we see that many of the small villages of the interior, owing to the formation of Coffee plantations in their neighbourhood, are becoming towns of some importance, where

* Ceylon Examiner, October 15, 1847.

« PreviousContinue »