He praised the south Indian pioneers and stated that it was probably their good example that “contributed to the extraordinary and good behavior of the cingalese (Sinhalese) coolies who went with them”. Earlier however north had defended the Sinhalese against charges of indolence in a dispatch to Lord Hobart, the governor of madras when he wrote:
The cingalese like every other people had rather be poor and idle than work for nothing; and during the Dutch government they had no other alternative. The enjoyment of security and prosperity for a certain time is undoubtedly necessary to give them a correct idea of the relative value of labour and acquisition. But in the neighborhood of the great towns and even in the interior of the country they are every day acquiring that knowledge with a rapidity which astonishes me.
Governor sir Thomas Maitland (1805-1811) criticized north for having incurred expenditure in importing south Indian labour but he too criticiesd the Sinhalese, saying “there is not an inhabitant in this island that would not sit down and starve out the year under the shade of two or three cocoa nut trees, the whole of his property, the whole of his subsistence, rather than increase his income and his comforts by his manual labour.”
Governor Barnes (1824-1831) would have tried Sinhalese labour before he experimented with Indian labour in which, as seen earlier he was unsuccessful. That he held a poor opinion of the Sinhalese is seen in a letter to Bathurst in which he wrote that the coconut tree “supplies all their wants, which appear to be extremely small, for generally speaking they are, with a very small exception of covering round their waist in a perfect state of nudity…” Barnes was unsuccessful in getting the Sinhalese to join the pioneer corps despite offered of high wages. While ordinary workers were offered 71/2 d a day, artificers were offered 91/4 d and in both cases the wives of the men were also offered rations in kind, or cash. Despite these terms less than a dozen men enlisted according to Calvin r. De Silva. De Silva says Barnes regarded the Sinhalese as “innately prone to idleness” but the Tamils were not brought under this accusation “their industry being always considered exemplary.”