ancient princes of Ceylon and modern English noblemen
The History of Ceylon
from the earliest period to the present time; with an appendix, containing an account of its present condition. London Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans; Smith, Elder & Co.; Madden & Malcolm; Edinburgh, Bell & Bradfute 1845
First edition. 8vo (20.5 x 12.5 cm), pp.xii, 399, [1, blank]. A very good copy in original green cloth, paper label on spine. Head of spine bruised. Contents fresh and partially unopened.
Goonetileke III, 1440
A narrative of two thousand years of Ceylon's history, from the sixth century BCE to the British capture of Kandy in 1815, by the British colonial official William Knighton (1823-1889). Knighton based his history on the pioneering translations of early Sinhalese chronicles by George Turnour and his circle in the 1830s, and Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonial records. Knighton wrote in the wake of the Colebrooke-Cameron reforms, laissez-faire and liberal, which dramatically altered the administration of Ceylon. A legislative council with local members was created, and the judicial administration of Kandy was brought into line with the rest of the island. This history is at pains to emphasise how advanced the island's ancient kingdoms were, noting that "the manner in which the princes of the tropical and luxuriant Ceylon were educated was precisely similar to that by which a modern English nobleman is fitted for his duties." Knighton saw British colonial administration as the path to restoring these ancient glories, comparing ancient Ceylon to Greece and writing admiringly of Buddhism.