This chapter is tagged (labeled) with: 

Ch. 1: Gold in Ceylon

Ch. 1: Gold in Ceylon Page of 442 Ch. 1: Gold in Ceylon Text size:minus plus Restore normal size   Mail page  Print this page
96                                           GOLD IN CEYLON.
It is to be observed that no great bed, and that no considerable vein of iron ore has yet been found in Ceylon; though we must remark that a full half* of the island is comparatively speaking a terra incognita to the Europeans in Ceylon capable of investigating it. No foundry on an extensive scale could then, judging from present appearances, be established with success. To the natives it may possibly be worth while to collect scattered masses of ore for their little furnaces, but unless an extensive bed or vein of ore be found, the attempt to establish a foundry would be idle. Iron is melted by the natives in crucibles, over a fire which is blown with two bellows. The scoria is separated from it with tongs made expressly for the purpose, and the melted mass poured into a mould of clay, after which it is purified further, and forged for smaller uses. But one ore of manganese, the grey or the black oxide, is yet known in Ceylon, and that occurs in parts of Saffragam and Upper Uva. Like most of the ores of iron it occurs finely disseminated and imbedded in small masses in granitic rock; some specimens are pure, and in some places a considerable quantity might be collected. Hitherto it has been applied to no useful purpose, nor from its locale and dispersed state is it likely to be exported with profit.
From the nature of the rocks, other metals might have been expected in Ceylon, says a learned geologist, who mentions that he has "sought in vain among the mountains for tin, copper, and lead. All three, however, are re­ported to exist by persons who have themselves discovered them, and quicksilver and plumbago (kalu miniran, Singh.) which of late years has been largely ex­ported to England, may be added to the list. Gold and mercury, which are said to occur native in Ceylon, according to this writer are rarely found, but small lumps of the former have been at times met with. "Did any," he continues, " of the common, and what is more, of the precious metals occur in Ceylon it would have been known long ago; for the natives are inquisitive and curious, and being in the habit of searching for gems, and collecting everything that glitters, or that is in the least likely to sell, even bits of iron pyrites and ores of iron, it would be very extraordinary were they to pass unnoticed substances more attractive, with the value of which they are well acquainted." I may cursorily observe that this remark is rather applicable to the natives of the southern, than any of the other provinces of Ceylon, and that the opposite conclusion of another learned geologist, embodied in the note,f is nearer the truth. Dr. Davy's erroneous conclusion on these points must have arisen from the imperfect opportunities at his disposal for the survey of the whole island, not more than one-third of which he ever visited, and not from any want of sagacity in observing, or ardour in pursuing the various branches of natural science. Stahlstein, or crystallized pyrites, impregnated with a little copper, is used by the Singhalese for making buttons.
Most of the gems for which Ceylon is celebrated, occur in granitic rock; for though found in alluvial soil and the beds of rivers, their true source mav
* Coal is said to have been discovered iu the island by the Dutch ; but from the abundance of wood, and charcoal beiug the only fuel used by the native cooks, no notice was taken of the discovery, so that its habitat is now unknown. The discovery of coal would now be considered oue of the greatest acquisitions of which this favoured laird could boast. It is not at all improbable that it exists iu parts of the scarcely explored di-tricts in the north, where I venture to perdiet the mineral wealth of Ceylon will be fmrrd to lie.
t The sciences of geologv, mineralogy, &■,*., irr all their brauehes are but im­perfectly understood by the natives, notwiths'andrng Ceylon is the depositoryof such an extensive variety of specimens. Their attention s» ems never to have ex­tended much beyond the valuable gems ami the common ores. As to a thrusand other objects, both on the surface of the earth and imbedded in the hiddeu substrata of nature, so interesting to men of science, they have allowed them an almost undisturbed repose, never- having ex> rVd themselves either to quarry out & knowledge of their latent properties or ascertain their intrinsic worth.
Ch. 1: Gold in Ceylon Page of 442 Ch. 1: Gold in Ceylon
Suggested Illustrations
Other Chapters you may find useful
Other Books on this topic
bullet Tag
This Page