A general Description of the Island.
How this Island lyes with respect unto me Neighbouring Countries, I shall not speak at all, that being to be seen in our ordinary Sea-Cards, which describe those Parts; and but little concerning the Maritime parts of it, now under the Jurisdiction of the Dutch: my design being to relate such things onely that are new and unknown unto these Europæan Nations. It is the Inland Countrey therefore I chiefly intend to write of which is yet an hidden Land even to the Dutch themselves that inhabit upon the Island. For I have seen among them a fair large Map of this Place, the best I believe extant, yet very faulty: the ordinary Maps in use among us are much more so; I have procured a new one to be drawn, with as much truth and exactness as I could, and his Judgment will not be deemed altogether inconsiderable, who had for Twenty Years Travelled about the Iland, and knew almost every step of those Parts, especially, that most want describing.
I begin with the Sea-Coasts. Of all which the Hollander is Master: On the North end the chief places are Jafnipatan, and the Iland of Manaur. On the East side Trenkimalay, and Batticalow. To the South is the City of Point de Galle. On the West the City of Columbo, so called from a Tree the Natives call Ambo, (which bears the Mango-fruit) growing in that place; but this never bare fruit, but onely leaves, which in their Language is Cola> and thence they called the Tree Colambo: which the Christians in honour of Columbus turned to Columbo. It is the chief City on the Sea-coasts where the chief Governour hath his residence. On this side also is Negumba, and Colpentine. All these already mentioned are strong fortified places: There are besides many other smaller Forts and Fortifications. All which, with considerable Territories, to wit, all round bordering upon the Sea-coasts, belong to the Dutch Nation.
I proceed to the Inland-Country, being that that is now under the King of Cande. It is convenient that we first understand, that this land is divided into greater or less shares or parts. The greater divisions give me leave to call Provinces, and the less Counties, as resembling ours in England, tho not altogether so big. On the North parts lyes the Province of Nourecalava, consisting of five lesser Divisions or Counties; the Province also of Hotcourly (signifying seven Counties:) it contains seven Counties. On the Eastward is Mautaly, containing three Counties. There are also lying on that side Tammanquod, Bintana, Vellas, Paunoa, these are single Counties. Ouvah also containing three Counties. In this Province are Two and thirty of the Kings Captains dwelling with their Soldiers. In the Midland within those already mentioned lye Wallaponahoy (it signifies Fifty holes or vales which describe the nature of it, being nothing but Hills and Valleys,) Poncipot, (signifying five hundred Souldiers.) Goddaponahoy, (signifying fifty pieces of dry Land;) Hevoihattay (signifying sixty Souldiers,) Cote-mul, Horsepot (four hundred Souldiers.) Tunponahoy (three fifties.) Oudanour (it signifies the Upper City,) where I lived last and had Land. Tattanour (the Lower City) in which stands the Royal and chief City, Cande. These two Counties I last named, have the pre-eminence of all the rest in the Land. They are most populous, and fruitful. The Inhabitants thereof are the chief and principal men: insomuch that it is a usual saying among them, that if they want a King, they may take any man, of either of these two Counties, from the Plow, and wash the dirt off him, and he by reason of his quality and descent is fit to be a King. And they have this peculiar Priviledge, That none may be their Governour, but one born in their own Country. These ly to the Westward that follow, Oudipollat, Dolusbaug, Hotteracourly, containing four Counties; Portaloon, Tuncourly, containing three Counties; Cuttiar. Which last, together with Batticalaw, and a part of Tuncourly, the Hollander took from the King during my being there. There are about ten or twelve more un-named, next bordering on the Coasts, which are under the Hollander. All these Provinces and Counties, excepting six, Tammanquod, Vellas, Paunoa, Hotteracourly, Hotcourly, and Neurecalava, ly upon Hills fruitful and dwell watered: and therefore they are called in one word Conde Uda, which signifies, On top of the Hills, and the King is styled, the King of Conde Uda.
All these Counties are divided each from other by great Woods. Which none may fell, being preserved for Fortifications. In most of them there are Watches kept constantly, but in troublesome times in all.
The Land is full of Hills, but exceedingly well watered, there being many pure and clear Rivers running through them. Which falling about their Lands is a very great benefit for the Countrey in respect of their Rice, their chief Sustenance. These Rivers are generally very rocky, and so un-navigable. In them are great quantities of Fish, and the greater for want of Skill in the People to catch them the main River of all is called Maveli Gonga; Which proceeds out of the Mountain called Adams Peak (of which afterwards:) it runs thro the whole Land Northward, and falls into the Sea at Trenkimalay. It may be an Arrows flight over in bredth, but not Navigable by reason of the many Rocks and great falls in it: Towards the Sea it is full of Aligators, but on the Mountains none at all.
It is so deep, that unless it be mighty dry weather, a man cannot wade over it, unless towards the head of it. They use little Canoues to pass over it: but there are no Bridges built over it, being so broad, and the Stream in time of Rains (which in this Countrey are very great) runs so high, that they cannot make them, neither if they could, would it be permitted; for the King careth not to make his Countrey easie to travel, but desires to keep it intricate. This River runs within a mile or less of the City of Cande. In some places of it, full of Rocks, in others clear for three or four miles.
There is another good large River running through Catemul, and falls into that before mentioned. There are divers others brave Rivers that water the Countrey, tho none Navigable for the cause above said.The Land is generally covered with Woods, excepting the Kingdome of Ovuah, and the Counties of Oudipallet, and Dolusbaug, which are naturally somewhat clear of them. It is most populous about the middle, least near about by the Sea; how it is with those Parts under the Hollander, I know not. The Northern parts are somewhat sickly by reason of bad water, the rest very healthful. The Valleys between their Hills are many of them quagmires, and most of them full of brave Springs of pure water: Which watery Valleys are the best sort of Land for their Corn, as requiring much moisture, as shall be told in its place.
On the South side of Conde Uda is an Hill, supposed to be the highest on this Island, called in the Chingulay Language, Hamalell; but by the Portuguez and the Europæan Nations, Adams Peak. It is sharp like a Sugar-loaf, and on the Top a flat Stone with the print of a foot like a mans on it, but far bigger, being about two foot long. The people of this Land count it meritorious to go and worship this impression; and generally about their New Year, which is in March, they, Men, Women and Children, go up this vast and high Mountain to worship. The manner of which I shall write hereafter, when I come to describe their Religion. Out of this Mountain arise many fine Rivers, which run thro the Land, some to the Westward, some to the Southward, and the main River, viz. Mavelagonga before mentioned, to the Northward.
This Kingdom of Conde Uda is strongly fortified by Nature. For which way soever you enter into it, you must ascend vast and high mountains, and descend little or nothing. The wayes are many, but are many, but very narrow, so that but one can go abreast. The Hills are covered with Wood and great Rocks, so that ’tis scarce possible to get up any where, but onely in the paths, in all which there are gates made of Thorns; the one at the bottom, the other at the top of the Hills, and two or three men always set to watch, who are to examine all that come and go, and see what they carry, that Letters may not be conveyed, nor Prisoners or other Slaves run away. These Watches, in case of opposition, are to call out to the Towns near, who are to assist them. They oftentimes have no Arms, for they are the people of the next Towns: but their Weapons to stop people are to charge them in the Kings Name; which disobeyed, is so Severely punished; that none dare resist. These Watches are but as Sentinels to give notice; for in case of War and Danger the King sends Commanders and Souldiers to ly here. But of this enough. These things being more proper to be related, when we come to discourse of the Policy and Strength of the Kingdom.
The one part of this Island differs very much from the other, both in respect of the Seasons and the Soyl. For when the Westwardly Winds blow, then it rains on the West side of the Island: and that is the season for them to till their grounds. And at the same time on the East side is very fair and dry weather, and the time of their Harvest. On the contrary, when the East Winds blow, it is Tilling time for those that inhabit the East Parts, and Harvest to those on the West. So that Harvest is here in one part or other all the Year long. These Rains and this dry weather do part themselves about the middle of the Land; as oftentimes I have seen, being on the one side of a Mountain called Cauragas hirg, rainy and wet weather, and as soon as I came on the other, dry, and so exceeding hot, that I could scarcely walk on the ground, being, as the manner there is, barefoot.
It rains far more in the High-Lands of Conde Uda, then in the Low-Lands beneath the Hills. The North End of this Island is much subject to dry weather. I have known it for five or six Years together so dry, (having no Rains, and there is no other means of water but that; being but three Springs of running water, that I know, or ever heard of) that they could not plow nor sow, and scarcely could dig Wells deep enough to get water to drink, and when they got it, its tast was brackish. At which time in other Parts there wanted not Rain; Whither the Northern People were forced to come to buy food. Let thus much suffice to have spoken of the Countreys, Soyl and Nature of this Island in general. I will proceed to speak of the Cities and Towns of it, together with some other Remarkable Matters there-unto belonging.