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the vegetable riches of the new acquisitions
should be ascertained.
Parts of India Dr. WalHch has effected this to a srreat extent,

visited, and in- , _ _

restigated. as iu 1820 he made an excursion into Nepal, and
on his return commenced publishing an account
of the more conspicuous plants of that region, in a
work which is remarkable, as presenting us with
the first specimen of a Botanical work* with
lithographic drawings, published in Calcutta. A
severe illness having forced Dr. W. to seek bene-
fit from a voyage to sea, he visited the islands of
Penang and Singapore, and other places in the
Straits of Malacca. In 1 825 he was deputed by
the Indian Government to inspect the Timber
forests of the western provinces of Hindoostan,
when he had a favourable opportunity for examin-
ing and collecting the plants of the kingdom
of Oude, of the province of Rohilcund and the
Deyra valley, &c. In 1826 and 1827 he accom-
panied a mission from the Supreme Government
of British India to the court of Ava, and ascended

• Tentamen Florae Nepalensis illustratae. Folio. Calcuttai


the Irrawaddy as far as its capital, and the moun- Parts of India

... T r- 1 investigated.

tains in its vicinity ; proceeding afterwards to the
then lately acquired territories on the coasts of
Martaban and of Tenasserim.

Besides personal examination, Dr. Wallich has contributors

^ and plant coU

stated that he further enioved all the advantages lectors in dif-

*' / ^ ^ ferent parts of

belonging to the institution over which he pre- India.
sides, and which, for extent and importance, he
believes to be unrivalled. These consist in the
co-operation of many distinguished individuals
residing in different parts of India, who are in
the habit of transmitting every object of interest
which the vegetable kingdom presents to their
notice. Thus he received contributions from
Penang, Singapore, and Bencoolen,* and from
Nepal nearly to the banks of the Sutlej from the
Himalayan mountains. Besides these a number
of plant-collectors connected with the Garden
are stationed in various parts of India, such as
Silhet, Nepal, Kemaon, Penang, &c.

From the strenuous and extended exertions
which have been made, a very complete idea has
necessarily been obtained of the vegetation of a Living and

-^ _ *^ _ ^ dried plants

great part of India. The number of indigenous collected.
plants cultivated in the Botanic Garden of Cal-

* Of the various contributors none deserve more notice
than Mr. W. Jack, assistant surgeon at Bencoolen, who contri-
buted much valuable information respecting the Botany of the
Malayan Peninsula, in the " Malayan Miscellanies," re-pub-
lished with a memoir and notice of his other writings, by Sir W.
J. Hooker, in the Companion to the Botanical Magazine, p. 121.






brought to

and 6gures of
new plants

Useful plants.

cutta was greatly increased in the course of a few
years; and the Herbarium attached to it amounted
to upwards of 8,000 species, comprising a vast
number of duplicates, and coloured drawings
were made of upwards of 2,000 species.

Dr. Wallich's health having become impaired
from repeated attacks of illness, he obtained per-
mission to visit Europe, and to take with him the
collections which had been made, in order that
he might deliver them in person to the Court of
Directors. On arrival. Dr. W. commenced pub-
lishing his magnificent folio work,* containing
descriptions and coloured figures of a select num-
ber of unpublished East-Indian plants. Among
these are included many of the most ornamental
plants (such as the Amherstia nobilis), which
the vegetable kingdom produces ; and many cu-
rious for their structure, with otheis suited to
form the ornaments of the Shrubberies and
Forests of this country. Among those remark-
able for their useful or dangerous properties, is
the Aconite, yielding the famous Bikh or Bish
poison, which is used in India as a medicine, and
for nearly the same purposes as the Aconite of
Europe ; also the kind of Gentian of which the
dried plant forms the Cheretta, so celebrated as a

• Plantae Asiaticae Rariores, or Descriptions and Figures of a
select number of unpublished East-Indian Plants, by N. Wal-
lich, M.&Ph.D &c., 297 coloured plates. London, vol.1. 1830 ;
II. 1831 ; III. 1832 ; with a Map, which points out the places
examined by the several naturalists.


bitter ; likewise a substitute for the Ginseng of Useful plants.
the Chinese, which, though produced in their own
country, they also import from North America.

Besides these, the celebrated Prangos Hay Prangos Hay

- . . . Plant figured ;

plant is figured m pi. 205. This was discovered
by Mr. Moorcroft, in Tibet, and found by him to
be employed as winter fodder for sheep and goats,
and frequently for neat cattle. Mr. M., writing
from the neighbourhood of Droz, describes the discovered by

j^ Ti 1 i J • r i. • Mr.Moorcroft;

rrangos nay plant as producing fatness in a
space of time singularly short, and likewise as
being destructive to the Liver Fluke ; he there-
fore justly concluded that it would be an inva-
luable acquisition to any country to the climate of
which it was suited, ** as its highly nutritious
qualities, its vast yield, its easy culture, its great value of;
duration, its capability of flourishing on lands of
the most inferior quality and wholly unadapted
to tillage, impart to it a general character of pro-
bable utility unrivalled in the history of agricul-
tural productions. When once in the possession
of the ground, for which the preparation is easy,
it requires no subsequent ploughing, weeding,
manuring, or other operation, save that of cutting
and of converting the foliage into Hay." — (Moor-
croft in a letter to W. Butterworth Bay ley, Esq.,
now Chairman of the Court of Directors.)

Various attempts have been made to introduce Attempts to in-

^ troduce it into

the Prangos Hay plant into Great Britain, but Great Britain.
hitherto unsuccessfully ; and yet it is probable it




Prangos Hay

of Herbarium

will only succeed, and be valuable in a climate
similar to that where it is found indigenous.

The duplicates of the vast collections which had
been made and accumulated for a series of years,
having been brought to this country, were ordered
ordered to he to be distributed to the various scientific societies

distributed to

museums Qf Europc by the Court of Directors. '* That en-
lightened body," as Dr.Wallich has said, " with
a munificence never equalled, and which has
been already appreciated and gratefully acknow-
ledged, not only in this country but throughout
Europe, immediately directed me to proceed to

in Europe, the distribution of the duplicates among the prin-
cipal public and private museums * in Europe and

• This novel and most liberal determination was one most
unexpected by the nations of Europe, as each had hitherto
accumulated such collections only for the benefit of its own
subjects. But it was duly appreciated and acknowledged in
the scientific publications of all nations. It may be sufficient to
adduce one instance only, published in the Bulletin Universel,
July 1829, Paris.

" C'est avec une vive satisfaction que nous communiquons a
nos lecteurs une noble determination que vient de prendre la
Compagnie Anglaise des Indes orientales. ... La Com-
pagnie des Indes, jalouse de donner a ces decouvertes toute
I'utilite possible, a charg6 M. Wallich de composer des collec-
tions de plantes rares cueillies en Asie, non-seulement pour les
principaux etablissemens scientifiques de la Grande-Bretagne,
mais encore pour ceux du Continent Europ^en et des autres
parties du monde. Cette belle et gen6reuse idee merite la
reconnaissance de toutes les nations, et la Compagnie des Indes
s'honore infiniment en associant a ses speculations commerciales
un but aussi 61eve que celui de concourir ainsi a la propagation


America. They were pleased to order a similar andAmerica.
distribution of the herbariums of Indian Con-
tinental Plants in their Museum, made by Drs.
Patrick Russell, Roxburgh, and Hamilton, the
Tranquebar Missionaries, the late Mr. Finlayson,
Dr. Wight, and myself." — (Preface to PI. Asiat.
Rar. p. ix.)

The Herbarium itself, "the fruits of there- original Her-
searches of the last half century, comprising about semed wLm-
1,300 genera and about 8,500 species," and in- Lo^ndon.'^^'*
valuable for consultation on all subjects relating
to Indian Botany, was presented by the Court of
Directors to the Linnean Society of London.*

des connaissances. Comme toutes les choses humaines, sa
prosperite actuelle peut passer; la politique de I'Angleterre elle-
meme peut amener de nouvelles combinaisons, qui changent
ou modifient beaucoup la nature de ses relations dans I'lnde :
aucun evenement ne peut lui ravir le m^rite qu'elle devra a de
pareilles communications."

* The correspondence ■which passed on this occasion. Dr.
Wallich has published in the Postscript, vol. III. p. vii. of his
great work.

Letter to the President of the Linnean Society : —

"East-India House, 19th June, 1832.
« My Lord,

'* The Court of Directors of the East- India Company have,
■within the last four years, caused to be distributed to various
bodies in this country and in Europe, interested in the promo-
tion of science, between 7,000 and 8,000 species of plants, col-
lected by celebrated naturalists in the Company's service during
a series of years in India.

" The objects being attained for which the originals of these
specimens have been placed with Dr. Wallich in Frith Street J


Herbarium. It is DOW, Conveniently arranged, named, and
deposited in an elegant cabinet in the same

the Court of Directors feel that this collection may not be an
unacceptable addition to the museum of the Linnean Society of
London, which already possesses the Herbarium of the cele-
brated Linnaeus. We have therefore the honour, at the instance
of the Court of Directors, and in the name of the East-India
Company, to proffer, through your Lordship, for the acceptance
of the Linnean Society, the collection in question ; and should
the Council of the Society be pleased to give effect to the in-
tentions of the Court, the necessary directions will be given to
Dr. Wallich to transfer the collection to the party who may be
authorized by the Council to receive the same.

" We have the honour to be,
" My Lord,
" Your Lordship's most obedient humble servants,
(Signed) " John G. Ravenshaw,

Online LibraryJ. Forbes (John Forbes) RoyleEssay on the productive resources of India [electronic resource] → online text (page 13 of 32)