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784
CEYLON

tranquillity of the country to restore the irrigation tanks and the monasteries, but he availed himself of a disputed succession to the Pandya throne of Madura to turn the tables on his Tamil enemies by invading India. According to the Mahavamsa his generals met with immediate and unbroken success; according to the more probable account preserved in a long Chola inscription at Arpakkam near Kanchi, they were, though at first successful, ultimately driven out by a coalition of the southern princes (V. A. Smith, Early History of India, ed. 1908, p. 411). In any case, within thirty years of Parakrama Bahu’s death his work was undone; the Malabar invaders were once more able to effect a settlement in the island, and the Sinhalese capital was moved farther and farther south, till in 1410 it had become established at Kotta, now a suburb of Colombo. In 1408 a new misfortune had befallen the Sinhalese dynasty; in revenge for an insult offered to a Chinese envoy, a Chinese army invaded the island and carried away King Vijaya Bahu IV. into captivity. For thirty years from this date the Sinhalese kings of Ceylon were tributary to China.

When, in 1505, the Portuguese Francisco de Almeida landed in Ceylon, he found the island divided into seven kingdoms. Twelve years later the viceroy of Goa ordered the erection of a fort at Colombo, for which permission was obtained from the king of Kotta; and from this time until the advent of the Dutch in the 17th century the Portuguese endeavoured, amid perpetual wars with the native kings, who were assisted by Arab and other traders jealous of European rivalry, to establish their control over the island. They ultimately succeeded so far as the coast was concerned, though their dominion scarcely penetrated inland. Materially their gain was but small, for the trade of Ceylon was quite insignificant; but they had the spiritual satisfaction of prosecuting a vigorous propaganda of Catholicism, St Francis Xavier being the most notable of the missionaries who at this time laboured in the island.

The fanatical zeal and the masterful attitude of the Portuguese were a constant source of dissension with the native rulers, and when the Dutch, under Admiral Spilberg, landed on the east coast in 1602 and sought the alliance of the king of Kandy in the interior of the island, every inducement was held out to them to aid in expelling the Portuguese. Nothing seems to have come of this until 1638–1639, when a Dutch expedition attacked and razed the Portuguese forts on the east coast. In the following year they landed at Negombo, without however establishing themselves in any strong post. In 1644 Negombo was captured and fortified by the Dutch, while in 1656 they took Colombo, and in 1658 they drove the Portuguese from Jaffna, their last stronghold in Ceylon.

Pursuing a wiser policy than their predecessors, the Dutch lost no opportunity of improving that portion of the country which owned their supremacy, and of opening a trade with the interior. More tolerant and less disposed to stand upon their dignity than the Portuguese, they subordinated political to commercial ends, flattered the native rulers by a show of deference, and so far succeeded in their object as to render their trade between the island and Holland a source of great profit. Many new branches of industry were developed. Public works were undertaken on a large scale, and education, if not universally placed within the reach of the inhabitants of the maritime provinces, was at least well cared for on a broad plan of government supervision. That which they had so much improved by policy, they were, however, unable to defend by force when the British turned their arms against them. A century and a half had wrought great changes in the physical and mental status of the Dutch colonists. The territory which in 1658 they had slowly gained by undaunted and obstinate bravery, they as rapidly lost in 1796 by imbecility and cowardice.

The first intercourse of the English with Ceylon was as far back as 1763, when an embassy was despatched from Madras to the king of Kandy, without, however, leading to any result. On the rupture between Great Britain and Holland in 1795, a force was sent against the Dutch possessions in Ceylon, where the opposition offered was so slight that by the following year the whole of their forts were in the hands of the English commander.

The abiding results of the occupation of Ceylon by the Portuguese and Dutch is described by Sir Emerson Tennent (Ceylon) as follows:

“The dominion of the Netherlands in Ceylon was nearly equal in duration with that of Portugal, about 140 years; but the policies of the two countries have left a very different impress on the character and institutions of the people amongst whom they lived. The most important bequest left by the utilitarian genius of Holland is the code of Roman Dutch law, which still prevails in the supreme courts of justice, whilst the fanatical propagandism of the Portuguese has reared for itself a monument in the abiding and expanding influence of the Roman Catholic faith. This flourishes in every hamlet and province where it was implanted by the Franciscans, whilst the doctrines of the reformed church of Holland, never preached beyond the walls of the fortresses, are already almost forgotten throughout the island, with the exception of an expiring community at Colombo. Already the language of the Dutch, which they sought to extend by penal enactments, has ceased to be spoken even by their direct descendants, whilst a corrupted Portuguese is to the present day the vernacular of the lower classes in every town of importance. As the practical and sordid government of the Netherlands only recognized the interest of the native population in so far as they were essential to uphold their trading monopolies, their memory was recalled by no agreeable associations: whilst the Portuguese, who, in spite of their cruelties, were identified with the people by the bond of a common faith, excited a feeling of admiration by the boldness of their conflicts with the Kandyans, and the chivalrous though ineffectual defence of their beleaguered fortresses. The Dutch and their proceedings have almost ceased to be remembered by the lowland Sinhalese; but the chiefs of the south and west perpetuate with pride the honorific title Don, accorded to them by their first European conquerors, and still prefix to their ancient patronymics the sonorous Christian names of the Portuguese.”

The British forces by which the island had been conquered were those of the East India Company, and Ceylon was therefore at first placed under its jurisdiction and administered from Madras. The introduction of the Madras revenue system, however, together with a host of Malabar collectors, led to much discontent, which culminated in rebellion; and in 1798 the colony was placed directly under the crown. By the treaty of Amiens, in 1803, this situation was regularized, from the international point of view, by the formal cession to Great Britain of the former Dutch possessions in the island. For a while the British dominion was confined to the coast. The central tract of hilly country, hedged in by impenetrable forests and precipitous mountain ranges, remained in possession of Sri Vikrama Raja Sinha, the last of the Sinhalese dynasty, who showed no signs of encouraging communication with his European neighbours.

Minor differences led in 1803 to an invasion of the Kandyan territory; but sickness, desertion and fatigue proved more formidable adversaries to the British forces than the troops of the Sinhalese monarch, and peace was eventually concluded upon terms by no means favourable to the English. The cruelty and oppression of the king now became so intolerable to his subjects that disaffection spread rapidly amongst them. Punishments of the most horrible kinds were inflicted, but failed to repress the popular indignation; and in 1815 the British, at the urgent request of many of the Adigars and other native chiefs, proceeded against the tyrant, who was captured near Kandy, and subsequently ended his days in exile. With him ended a long line of sovereigns, whose pedigree may be traced through upwards of two thousand years.

By a convention entered into with the Kandyan chiefs on the 2nd of March 1815, the entire sovereignty of the island passed into the hands of the British, who in return guaranteed to the inhabitants civil and religious liberty. The religion of Buddha was declared inviolable, and its rights, ministers and places of worship were to be maintained and protected; the laws of the country were to be preserved and administered according to established forms; and the royal dues and revenues were to be levied as before for the support of government.

With the exception of a serious outbreak in some parts of the interior in 1817, which lasted for upwards of a year, and of two minor attempts at rebellion easily put down, in 1843 and 1848,