A Visit to Ceylon

by Ernst Haeckel, 1883

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Chapter 4



The delightful residence in Colombo in which I passed the two first weeks of my stay in Ceylon, stands, as I have said, at the north end of the town, or, to be accurate, in the suburb of Mutwal, precisely in the angle made by the Kalany Ganga, or Colombo river, at its junction with the sea. Starting from the Fort, it is a good hour's walk among the brown mud-huts of the natives, through Pettah and its northern outskirts, before reaching "Whist Bungalow." Its isolated position, in the midst of the most luxuriant natural beauty, far from the business quarter of the town, and farther still from the fashionable southern suburbs or Kolpetty and the Cinnamon Gardens, was one source of the extraordinary charm I found from the very first in this quiet country retreat. Another reason, no doubt, was the hearty and homelike hospitality which the masters of "Whist Bungalow" - Stipperger himself and three other friendly countrymen - showed me from the first hour of my arrival. I woke on the first morning of my stay with the happy sense of having found here, on this unknown island of wonders, six thousand miles from home, a friendly roof to dwell under. The few days which were all I at first intended to spend there soon stretched into a fortnight; and as I again spent a week there on my return from the south, and another at the end of my stay in Ceylon, nearly a month out of my four months in the island were passed in this delicious country-house. There was ample room in "Whist Bungalow" for arranging my numerous cases and collections, and I found it the most convenient head-quarters from whence to make my several excursions; and after much fatigue and hardship in my labours on the south coast, and my excursion in the hill country, I came back thither with the comforting sense of being at home, a gladly suffered guest on a visit to faithful friends and fellow-countrymen. It is only meet and right that I should devote a few pages to a description of this lovely spot of earth; all the more so, since it was there that I first made acquaintance, from personal observation, with the life of man and nature on the island.

"Whist Bungalow" owes its extraordinary name to the circumstance that its first owner, an old English officer, at the beginning of the century, used to invite his friends out to this remote villa to play whist on Sunday evenings. As the strict observance of the English Church is, of course, strongly averse to such an employment on Sunday, these jovial meetings were kept a profound secret; and the whist parties and drinking bouts in the isolated bungalow seem to have been uproarious in proportion to the satisfaction of these jolly comrades at having escaped the dreary tedium of an English Sunday and orthodox society.

At that time, however, "Whist Bungalow" was a small plain house, buried in its shrubbery; it was enlarged to its present handsome dimensions by its next owner, a certain lawyer named Morgan. He, too, seems to have made the most of life, and spent a large part of his fortune in building and decorating this villa in a manner worthy of its beautiful situation. The large garden was planted with the finest trees and ornamental shrubs. A handsome collonade and airy verandah were erected round the house, which was much enlarged, and the spacious and lofty rooms were fitted with every luxury in a princely style. For many a year dinners and wine-parties were given here, more luxurious and splendid  if not noisier and more riotous - than formerly at the whist-playing officer's less pretentious drinking-bouts. It would seem, however, that Mr. Morgan at last failed to balance his enormous outlay on his residence and his magnificent style of living against his large income. When he died suddenly, a considerable deficit was discovered in his accounts; his creditors seized the bungalow, and, when it was finally sold under the auctioneer's hammer, were thankful to recover a small proportion of their money out of the proceeds.

Now came a crisis in the history of this pretty residence, which must have proved highly unsatistactory to the new owners. Rumour, which had attached many legends to this romantic spot, now declared with confident asseveration that there was something uncanny about "Whist Bungalow," and that the ghost of the suddenly deceased Mr. Morgan "walked" there every night; that at about midnight - moon or no moon - a hideous uproar and thumping were to be heard; that forms in white glided through the rooms, winged demons flew along the colonnade, and fiends with fiery eyes held sabbath on the roof. Mr. Morgan, as master of the fiends, was supposed to conduct and direct the revels. It was asserted that his enormous fortune, now melted into thin air, had not been earned by quite honest means; and that he, like so many other lawyers, had used his knowledge of the law, not so much to vindicate his clients rights, as to divert the flow of their gold into his own wide money-bags; that he had embezzled large sums, made away with trust moneys, etc., etc. As a punishment for these sins, he was compelled to haunt the scene of his former orgies all night, a restless ghost. And so many Cinghalese in the immediate neighbourhood of Mutwal had themselves heard these bogey noises, and seen the apparitions, that the purchasers of "Whist Bungalow', would not live in it themselves, and could not find a tenant.

The pretty villa therefore stood empty, when our friend Stipperger heard of it, and on seeing it, determined at once to take it. But then he met with the greatest difficulties, for he could nowhere find a servant who would go with him to the banned and haunted house. Nor did he succeed till he had proved on scientific grounds that the ghosts had a simple zoological origin. He waited for the fiends the first night, well armed with weapons and revolvers, and he found, as he expected, that they were true quadrupeds of flesh and blood, to which the late Mr. Morgan had certainly stood in no close relationship. The mysterious climbing ghosts, when shot, were wild cats; the gliding forms were huge bandicoots, and the flying fiends were flying foxes (Pteropus). Henceforth, and face to face with these convincing trophies of the night's sport, the doubts of the most timorous servants were dispelled, and my friend moved in all confidence into "Whist Bungalow."

The garden, which had run wild, was newly and better arranged,

the empty rooms refitted; and when some Germans saw the restored bungalow. it pleased them so much that they begged the new tenant to cede them part of the spacious house for a residence. This he did; and when I arrived, I found the quartet of Germans - a four-leaved shamrock - with whom I chatted through so many pleasant evenings. Nor was there any lack of individuality in our several views; indeed, I have never found it absent in spite of the much-talked of "German uniformity." Herr Both, of Hanau - to whom I am indebted for a nice collection of reptiles - represented Frankfort; Herr Suhren, of East Friesland - who gave me a beautiful collection of butterflies - represented the extreme north-west of Germany; and Herr Herath, of Bayreuth, our Bavarian member for South Germany, delighted me with a contribution of birds of paradise, parrots, and honey-birds.

The special charm of "Whist Bungalow," above others near Colombo, consists partly in its delightful situation, and partly in its really magnificent garden. The out-buildings, servants' rooms, and stables lie behind it, hidden among shrubberies, while the house itself stands in front on the shore of the fine expanse of water that stretches away westwards. The airy verandah commands a view of the sea, the mouth of the river, and of a pretty, thickly wooded island that crowns its delta. Northwards, the eye follows a long strip of cocoa-nut groves, that fringe the shore as far as Negombo. To the south, and adjoining the gardens of the bungalow, is a picturesque tract covered with fishermen's huts scattered in delightful disorder under tall cocoa-palms, in their midst a small Buddhist temple, and farther off the rocks on the shore with clumps of Pandanus, etc. Beyond, a narrow sandy spit projects, bending northwards towards the mouth of the river, and embracing a little bay in front of our garden, in such a way that it forms a small land-locked lake.

The promontory which parts this lagoon from the open sea is densely overgrown with a lovely red-flowered convolvulus (Ipomaea pes-caprae) and the curious hedgehog-grass (Spinifex squarrosus). There are a few fishers' huts on it, and all day long it affords a series of entertaining pictures with a constant change of scenery. Very early in the morning, to begin with, before sunrise, all the families inhabiting these huts assemble to take a bath in the river; then the horses and oxen come down to the stream. Busy washermen are often at their work there the whole day through, beating the linen on flat stones, and laying them out on the sands to dry. Numbers of fishing-boats pass out; and when, in the evening, they are drawn up on land, their large square sails stretched out to dry, the promontory has a most picturesque appearance, with its long row of motionless barks with their sails set, particularly when the evening breeze fills them out, and the setting sun, as it dips behind the waves, floods the whole coast with a glory of flaming gold, orange, and purple.

My friends informed me that this sandspit has altered in shape, and considerably in extent, in the course of years. It is, in fact, a shifting bar, such as is to be seen at the mouth of all the larger rivers of Ceylon. They bring down with them, in their wild and tumbling course through the mountains, a mass of sand and fragments of rock; then, during their slower flow through the flatter coast country, the abundant rains daily carry into them great quantities of earth and mud, so that, when these are at last deposited at the river's mouth, in a short time they form banks of considerable thickness. But these bars are constantly changing in size, form, and position, depending on the position of the channels cut by the river as branch outlets through its flat delta. Thus the main outlet of the Kalany is said to have been formerly a mile farther to the south, by the Cinnamon Gardens. The lagoons there, which now communicate with the river by little canals only, are the remains of its old branches; and the chief part of Colombo itself must be built on what was its delta. Our picturesque bar, just opposite "Whist Bungalow," has been connected with the land now by its northern and again by its southern extremity, and the wooded islet at the principal mouth has been sometimes a peninasula and sometimes an island.

The strand of this islet, as well as that of the garden of "Whist Bungalow," and to the north of it, are overgrown - like the banks of the estuary itself - with wonderful mangrove plants, and in my first walk in the immediate neighbourhood I had the pleasure of examining these characteristic and important forms of tropical vegetation with my own eyes. The trees which are included under the general name of mangroves belong to very different genera and families, as Rhizophora, Sonneratia,

Lomnitzera, Avicennia, etc. But they all agree in the peculiar manner of their growth, and a typical physiognomy which results from it; their close bushy crown of leaves, generally more or less spherical, grows on a thick stem which rises from a clump of many-branched roots, rising directly above the surface of the water, often to a height of six or eight feet. Between the forks of this dome-shaped mass of roots the mud and sand accumulate which the river deposits on its shores, and particularly at its debouchure; so that a mangrove wood is highly favourable to the extension of the land.

But quantities of organic matter, corpses and fragments of dead animals and plants, also get caught among this tangle of roots and decompose there; whence a mangrove thicket is, in many parts of the tropics, a dreaded source of dangerous fevers. But in most of the mangrove woods of Ceylon - including those of the Kalany river - this is not the case; and the various well-watered districts of the islands are by no means unhealthy, not even the stagnant lagoons of Colombo. Although I slept many nights in such spots I never had an attack of fever. This probably results from the fact that the frequent and violent storms of rain constantly renew the water in the stagnant or stream-fed pools, so that all decomposing matter is carried away before it has any injurious effects.

On the sandy shore of our garden, the mangrove is supplanted by

a number of beautiful shrubs of the Asclepiadeae - Cerbera, Tabernaemontana, Plumiera - all characterized by large white oleander-like flowers, growing at the ends of the candelabra-like branches in great abundance, among shining tufts of large dark-green leathery leaves. Most of these Asclepiadeae yield a poisonous milky juice. They are among the commonest and most characteristic ornaments of the roadside and boggy meadows in the swampy districts in the south-west of Ceylon. Between them and on other parts of the shore, grows the elegant bamboo, like enormous bunches of feathers, as strange as it is beautiful, with its tall bending clumps.

The garden of "Whist Bungalow" itself has, under the careful and loving hand of Stipperger, become one of the most enchanting spots in the paradise of Ceylon, containing specimens of almost every important plant characteristic of the flora of the islands; thus it is not merely a pleasure-ground of blossoms and perfumes, but an instructive botanical garden on a small scale. As I wandered, intoxicated with delight, under the shade of palms and figs, of bananas and acacias, in the garden itself and in the immediate vicinity, I acquired in one morning a very good general idea of the elements composing the flora of the low country. First in rank, of course, the noble family of palms, with their stately columnar trunks-Cocos and Talipot, Areca and Borassus, Catryota and Palmyra; then the beautiful banana, with its delicate but gigantic leaves, split into feathers by the wind, and its masses of excellent golden-yellow fruit. Besides many varieties of the common banana (Musa .sapientum), our garden boasts a fine specimen of the curious fan-shaped travellers' tree from Madagascar (Urania .speciosa); it stands exactly where the path divides, leading to the right straight to the bungalow, and to the left to a magnificent banyan, or sacred fig-tree (Ficus Bengalensis). This, with its large pendant aerial roots, and the new stems formed by such as have struck the ground, is a very extraordinary object; number of Gothic arches are formed between the root-stems which support the canopy of branches like pillars.

Other trees of various groups, as Terminalia, laurels, myrtles, ironwood, bread-fruit, and others, are embraced and overgrown by gorgeous creepers, that endless variety of lianas which play so conspicuous a part in the flora of Ceylon. These belong to the most dissimilar families; for the teeming vegetation, with the favourable condition of constantly moist heat in the densely crowded woods of this land of marvellous verdure, have induced a number of highly diverse plants to become climbers and to twine round others till they reach light and air.

Among other ornaments of our lovely garden, I must particularly mention the broad-leaved Callas or Arnoids, and the elegant ferns, two groups of plants which play a prominent part in the undergrowth of the Ceylon flora. Among these are scattered many of the handsomest tropical foliage-plants and flowers, some indigenous to Ceylon, and some natives of other lands, particularly of South America, which thrive here to perfection. Above them rises the tall mallow (Hibiscus), with splendid yellow or crimson blossoms; or acacias (Caesalpinia), with branches of brilliant flame-coloured plumes; mighty tamarind trees, with aromatic flowers; while from their boughs hang the huge purple bells of Thunbergia, and Aristolochia with its singular brown and yellow funnels. Other families, too, display blossoms of strange size and beauty, as many madders, Rubiaceae, lilies, orchids, etc.

I will not, however, weary the reader with a vain attempt to give him anything approaching to a true idea of the intoxicating splendour of the Indian flora of Ceylon, by mere description or a dry list of names. I gained my first conception of it in the garden of "Whist Bungalow" and the neighbouring shores of the Kalany river. I will confine myself instead to remarking that, on the first morning I spent in this paradise, I wandered for hours, dazed with admiration, from one plant to another, from one clump of trees to the next, incapable of deciding to which of the endless marvels before me I should direct my particular attention. How meagre and scanty now seemed all that I had seen and admired a fortnight since in Bombay!

The animal world which peoples this Eden does not, on the whole,

correspond to the extraordinary variety and beauty of the vegetable world, particularly as regards its wealth of ornamental, large, or singular forms. In this respect the island, from all I could learn, is far behind the mainland of Hindostan and the Sunda Islands, and still more behind tropical Africa and Brazil. I must confess that I was from the first a good deal disappointed in this particular, and that my disappointment increased rather than diminished later, when I made a closer acquaintance with the fauna of the wilder parts of the island. I had hoped to see the trees and shrubs covered with monkeys and parrots, and the flowering plants swarming with butterflies and beetles of strange shapes and gaudy colouring. But neither in number nor in splendour did what I now saw, or found afterwards, answer to my highly strung expectations, and my only comfort at last was that every zoologist who had ever visited the island had been equally disappointed. Nevertheless, a closer search brings to light an abundance of interesting and remarkable objects, even for the zoologist; and, on the whole, the fauna of Ceylon is no less strange and peculiar than its flora, though it is far from being so splendid or so striking.

The vertebrate animals which most immediately attracted my attention at "Whist Bungalow" and in the neighbourhood of Colombo were the various reptiles of bright colouring and extraordinary form, particularly snakes and lizards; there was also an elegant little tree-frog (Ixalus), whose strange, almost bell-like croak is to be heard on all sides in the evening. Of birds, the gardens principally attract numbers of starlings and crows, wagtails and bee-eaters, and especially the honeybirds (Nectarinia), which here take the place of humming-birds; then, on the river-banks, there are blue-green kingfishers and white egrets. Of mammalia, by far the commonest is a charming little squirrel (Sciurus tristriatus), which bustles off at every turn through the trees and bushes, and is most friendly and confiding; it is of a brownish grey, with three white bands on its back.

Among the insects ants must be regarded as the most important, from the incredible numbers in which they are everywhere to be found, from the very tiniest to really gigantic species, particularly the hated termites, or white ants as they are called; but other families of the Hymenoptera - the wasps and bees - are amply represented, and the Diptera no less so - gnats and flies. On the other hand, those insect tribes which display the largest and most beautiful species, the beetles and butterflies, are not seen in such abundance as might be expected from the character of the flora. The Orthoptera, however - the locusts and grasshoppers - are very remarkable, various, and peculiar. But for the present I will enlarge no farther on this strange world of creatures, as I shall have occasion to speak of it more fully.

The families of the Arachnidae, or spiders, here form a very interesting group of the Articulata, from the minutest mites and ticks to the monstrous bird-catching spiders and scorpions. Their near allies, the Myriapoda, are also both common and colossal; some of them being as much as a foot in length, and much dreaded for their venomous bite. I saw a few magnificent specimens on the very first morning of my stay at "Whist Bungalow," but I could devote no time to them just then; my whole attention was riveted by the marvels of the plant world.

I would gladly have devoted months and years to a thorough study of this flora, to which, as it was, I could give up only days and weeks. Besides, the Indian sun beats down from the cloudless sky with such brightness that the intense light and colour were almost too much for my unaccustomed northern eyes, and the heat would soon have been quite intolerable but that a light cool sea-breeze came to mitigate it. It was the 22nd of November, my good father's birthday; he had died at the age of ninety, just ten years since. He would on this day have completed his hundredth year, and as I inherit my love and enjoyment of nature from him - he particularly delighted in fine trees - a peculiar holiday sentiment took possession of me, and I accepted the keen and rapturous feelings of this unique moment as a special gift in honour of the day.

Such delights of nature as these have one inestimable advantage over all the pleasures of art, or even all other pleasures in life, for they never weary, and the mind that is open to them can return to them again and again with new interest and with enhanced appreciation, which ever increase as a man grows older. Thus it was that I repeated my morning walk in the paradise of the "Whist Bungalow" garden and its vicinity, sometimes on the river bank, sometimes on the sea-shore, every day while my good fortune allowed of it; and that even on the last morning I spent in Ceylon, March 18, 1882, I took leave of it with a sense of quitting Paradise lost.

My botanical knowledge was still farther increased within the next few days, as the visits which I paid to English families, to whom I had been introduced, gave me admission to several gardens in the southern suburbs of Colombo, Slave Island, and Kolpetty. Certain days linger in my memory as especially delightful which I spent in "Temple Trees Bungalow." Temple trees is the name here given to the Plumiera, of which the beautiful, fragrant blossoms are everywhere strewn by the Cinghalese in the Buddhist temples, with those of the jasmine and the oleander, as sacrificial flowers before the images of Buddha. Two old and splendid specimens of the Plumiera stand, with a few gigantic Casuarinas, on the broad grass-plot which divides the villa named after them from the Galle Road, in Kolpetty.

The owner, Mr. Staniforth Green, invited me in the most cordial manner to spend a few days there with him, and I found him a most amiable man, taking a deep and hearty interest in the study of nature. He devotes all the leisure allowed him by his business, as owner of a great coffee-factory, to the cultivation of his beautiful garden, and to collecting and observing insects and plants. Mr. Green has for years more particularly turned his attention to the life and development of the minutest insect forms, with that patient and loving care which distinguished the naturalists of the last century, but which is growing daily more rare among the "aspiring" investigators of the present day. He has made a number of elegant observations, some of which have been published in English journals. He showed me a great number of most carefully preserved curiosities, and made me a present of some of the most interesting. His nephew also, who assists him in his business, shares these favourite pursuits of his leisure hours, and showed me a very pretty collection of insects. He gave me, among other things, several specimens of the huge bird-catching spider (Mygale), which he himself had frequently seen in pursuit of small birds - Nectarinia -and the small gecko (Platydactylus).

Mr. Green's garden, which contains some old and noble specimens of Caesalpinia - Flamboyant, as it is called here - fine Yuccas (Adam's needle), and reed-palms (Calamus), adjoins on the east a pretty bay of the large lagoon lying between Kolpetty, Slave Island, and the Fort. One fine evening we rowed in a canoe across the mirror-like pool, covered with magnificent white and red water-lilies, to the house of Mr. William Ferguson. This friendly old gentleman, who for many years has filled the post of Inspector of Roads, also gives up his spare time to zoological and botanical studies, and has enriched these branches of science by many valuable contributions. I am indebted to him for much interesting information. He must not be mistaken for his brother, the Ceylon Commissioner, who edits and publishes the most influential paper in the island, the Ceylon Observer. This paper is conducted by him in the spirit of stern and gloomy orthodoxy and conservative rigidity which unfortunately characterizes so many professedly liberal English journals.

Another day, Mr. Green took me to the Colombo Museum, a handsome two-storied building in Cinnamon Gardens, intended for collections of all the literary, historical, and natural treasures of the island. The ground floor contains on one side a fine library, and on the other the antiquities, ancient inscriptions, sculptures, coins, ethnographical collections, etc. In the upper story is a rich collection of natural history, particularly of dessicated and stuffed animals, exclusively Cinghalese. Insects are remarkably well represented, being the special study of the director, Dr. Haly, who was absent at the time; and next to these, birds and reptiles. In most departments of the lower animals, however, much remains to be done. Still, the Colombo Museum, even now, affords a good general view of the rich and peculiar fauna of the island. The zoologist who comes here direct from Europe will, no doubt, find the state of a large part of the collection unsatisfactory; the stuffed and desiccated specimens are in many cases badly prepared, mildewed, decayed, etc. But only a newcomer will criticize this, in his ignorance of the extreme difficulties that stand in the way of the formation and maintenance of any collection of this kind in the damp hothouse climate of Ceylon. It was my fate ere long to have some bitter experiences of this.

Just as all kinds of leather and paper work mildew and drop to pieces, and everything made of iron and steel gets covered with rust in spite of the greatest care, so the chitinous bodies of insects and the skins of vertebrate animals sooner or later perish under the combined influence of a constant temperature of 15o to 30o centigrade, and an amount of moisture in the air which quite beats all our European powers of conception. Still worse in many cases are the combined attacks of myriads of various insects: ants both black and red, some two and three times as large as ours, others about the same size, and others again almost microscopically small; white ants or termites, the worst foes of all; gigantic cockroaches (Blatta), paper-mites (Psocus), museum weevils, and such small folk, seem to vie with each other in the work of destruction. To protect a collection against the attacks of these minute and innumerable enemies is, in Ceylon, not merely difficult, but in some cases impossible; I myself, in spite of every precaution, lost a large portion of my dried collections.

The effect of tho tropical heat, at only seven degrees from the equator, and combined with the excessive humidity, on our Eurorean manufactured articles, as well as on the natural products of the island, is a thing of which we at home can form no idea. After the first delightful days of seeing and wondering were over at "Whist Bungalow," I set to work to unpack my paraphernalia and instruments from the trunks and cases; and in what a state did I find them! In every scientific instrument those portions that were made of steel or iron were rusted; not a screw would run smoothly. All the books, all the paper, all the articles made of leather, were damp and mildewed; and - what went most to my soul - that famous black dress-coat, which plays as imponant a part in English society here as it does at home in Europe, was, when I took it out of its box - white! It, and all my cloth clothes, was covered with layers of delicate forms of fungus, which only disappeared after many days of exposure to the sun. For this reason, in every European house in Colombo, it is the special duty of a servant, known as the "clothes-boy," to air the clothes, beds, linen, papers, etc., every day in the sun, and keep them free from mould.

Worse even than this was it to find that a new photographic camera, made by one of the first firms in Berlin, of what professed to be "the best seasoned wood," was absolutely useless, every part of it having warped. The lids of almost all the wooden cases had sprung; the empty envelopes were all stuck down; various boxes of powdered gum arabic contained a stiff glutinous mess; while in a tin of peppermint lozenges I found nothing left but syrup. Stranger still was the condition of the boxes of effervescent powders. The tartaric acid had disappeared from all the blue papers, and the white ones, instead of carbonate of soda, contained sodic tartrate; the tartaric acid had melted, had mixed with sodium and released the carbonic acid.

Thus, even before they were unpacked the damp heat had destroyed a quantity of things which we never think of as destructible. And yet the four months I spent in Ceylon fell during the dry season, as it is called, of the north-east monsoon, which blows from November till April. What must the state of things be in the rainy season, from May till November, when the cloud-laden south-west monsoon is blowing? My friends, indeed, told me that they gave up all idea then of keeping anything dry, and that the water trickled down the inside walls.

It seems self-evident that such a hot-house climate, so utterly unlike ours in Central Europe, must have a very different effect on any human frame accustomed to more temperate conditions; and, in fact, the struggle with the inimical climate is everywhere, every day and at all times, a theme of conversation. I must confess I was somewhat anxious as to how I myself should endure it. During my first week in Colombo, I began to feel a great deal of the inconvenience and lassitude which are inseparable from it; particularly during the sultry nights, when the thermometer rarely fell below 25o centigrade, never down to 23o, while during the day it often rose to 30o or 33o in the shade (from 86o to 90o Fahrenheit). However, it was more endurable the second week than it had been the first, and later, not even on the south coast at not much above 5o N. lat., I never suffered so much as during those first sleepless nights and exhausting days in Colombo.

Under these conditions, of course, the frequent baths which, to Europeans and natives alike, are the greatest refreshment of the day, are quite indispensable. I commonly took two: one on rising at about six, and a second before the meal here called breakfast - in reality a luncheon - at about eleven. When in the south, I commonly indulged in a third bath in the evening, before dinner, at seven or half-past. I also at once adopted the usual garb of Europeans here, made of thin white cotton stuffs, a comfortable gauze jersey under a light loose coat. Precious above all as a constant head-covering was a Calcutta hat, or sola hemlet,*10 which I had bought in Port Said for three francs. This incomparable helmet is made of the very light and tough wood of the sola or shola plant, resembling elder-pith; it is constructed with a double dome-like crown and a deep brim, like a sou'wester, completely protecting the nape and neck. The brim is lined round the head with a strip of waxed linen, to which a series of separate discs are attached in such a way as that these only rest against the head; the air can pass between them freely, and the temperature inside the hat remains low.

By careful use of these and other precautions I remained perfectly

well throughout my stay in Ceylon, although - or perhaps because  I took a great deal of exercise, and was almost always out of doors, even in the noontide heat. It is true I lived more regularly and temperately than is common among the Europeans there, and consumed not half the amount of meals and of liquor which the English consider indispensable. Indeed, when, after a few years' residence here, they generally suffer from disorders of the stomach and liver, I must think that the fault lies less in the hot climate than in the want of exercise, on the one hand, and the unnecessary amount of food consumed on the other; for the residents often eat and drink twice or thrice as much as is necessary for health  heavy rich food and fiery spirituous liquors. In this respect they display a conspicuous contrast to the extremely simple and frugal natives, who, for the most part, live chiefly on rice, with curry and a little fruit at most. and who drink water exclusively, or a little palm-wine.

In Ceylon, as in most parts of India, the daily order of meals among Europeans is as follows: - In the morning, immediately on rising, tea and biscuits, bread, eggs or marmalade, banana, mangos, pine-apples, and other fruit. At ten comes breakfast - according to German notions a complete dinner with three or four courses; fish, roast fowls, beefsteaks, and more especially curry and rice, the national Indian dish, are never absent. This curry is prepared in many ways from spices of various kinds, with small pieces of vegetables or meat, making a highly flavoured compound. Tiffin at one o'clock is a third meal of tea or beer with cold meat, bread, butter, and jam. Many persons take tea or coffee again at three or four o'clock; and finally, at half-past seven or eight, comes the great event of the day: dinner of four to six courses, like a great dinner in Europe; soup, fish, several dishes of meat, curry and rice again, and various sweet dishes and fruits. With this several kinds of wine are drunk - sherry, claret, and champagne, or strong beer imported from England; latterly, however, the light and far wholesomer Vienna beer has been introduced. In many houses some portion of these superabundant meals is dispensed with; but in general the living in India must be condemned as too luxurious and too rich, particularly if we compare it with the simple and frugal diet common in the south of Europe. This is quite the view of many of the older English residents who are themselves exceptions to the rule, and, living very simply, have nevertheless spent twenty or thirty years in the tropics in unbroken good health; as, for instance, Dr. Thwaites, formerly director of the botanical gardens at Peradenia.

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