J. Forbes (John Forbes) Royle.

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are yet able, by the influence of their living prin-
ciple, to control the powers of attraction and
affinity to which, being without life, mineral sub^
stances are alone subjected.

Derivesuste. Plants, Unlike animals, are able to derive sus-

nance trom ' '

*"Tte "''^ tenance from inorganic matter, such as air, water,
carbon, and carbonic acid ; but they flourish most
on that which has been already organized, though
it is in a state of decomposition. Hence, in the

Position in scale of nature they hold an intermediate posi-

scale of nature. ^ *' \

tion between animals and minerals. No animal
derives its food immediately from unorganized
matter, but many prey upon other animals, which
have, in the first instance, been nourished by
vegetable matter. It has therefore been well said,
that " if plants ceased to grow, animals would
cease to exist."

Influence of. The influence of Plants, therefore, even of those
of the lowest grade, is much greater than what
would at first appear to an unreflecting observer ;
• for even the jelly-like forms of vegetation seen
floating on stagnant water, aflbrd nourishment to
animalculae, which are themselves to serve as food

FojHiforani. ^ ^^^^ highly-developcd animals. Sea- weeds
afford sustenance to many fish, and even to the
Dugong and Lamantine of the tropical seas, as
well as to the huge Hippopotamus. Lichens and
Mosses are among the first plants to grow upon
newly-formed lands, and may be seen vegetating
even upon the barren rock. These, insignificant as


they may appear, afford by their decay a portion Planis.

of organized matter to barren soil, and allow of

the vegetation of grasses and other small her- Enrich soil.

baceous plants, which decaying in their turn,

give additional organized matter to enrich the

soil, and thus prevent that which has been long in

cultivation from becoming sterile.

Myriads, also, of the minutest as well as of the
largest living beings feed upon vegetable matter ;
even the insignificant rock-moss serves as food for Uses of.
the rein-deer, the pasture grasses for herds of
ruminating cattle, and the leaves of trees for the
largest quadrupeds now seen upon the surface of Food for am-
the earth. From the great similarity in nature of
the different pasture grasses, in every part of the
world, man has been able to transport cattle into
the various countries of the earth which he has
chosen to colonize. Some fruits afford nutriment
to birds and small quadrupeds; while others, em-
ployed as such by man, form, with vegetables,
the chief objects of attention to the Gardener, and Gardening.
the principles of their culture the science of Hor-
ticulture; while the Cereal grasses, as yielding
the greater portion of the food of man, form the
principal objects of Agriculture. Agriculture.

But it is not only as leading to settled habits Products >

... Plants.

in the early ages of the world, and givmg an inte-
rest to property in land, or as continuing to afford
a great portion of the food of man, and pastu-
rage for his cattle, that plants claim prominent
consideration. For we find that the various Their use«.






Products or principles whicli coiiipose the organs of plants,
or which are stored up within their structure,
serve man for many useful and important pur-
poses. The flower he may admire for its colour,
or value for its scent ; but the leaf he uses as a
thatch for his habitation ; the bamboo serves
him for arms and implements, and with the reed
he forms arrows. Hollowed trunks of trees no
doubt early afforded him the means of crossing
rivers ; while the wood serves all the purposes to
which [timber is applied ; and these are so varied
that it is difficult to say whether they be more
important previous or subsequent to the discovery
of metals. The cottony covering- of the seed must
early have been converted into clothing, and may
have led to the discovery of the applicability of
vegetable fibre to the same purposes, when exist-
ing in situations where it is less obvious, as in
the Flax and Hemp.

Besides the Fecula, or starch, which is stored
up in the Corn-grasses, we find a similar sub-
stance, and nearly as well fitted for food, in such
seeds as the Chestnut, and in tubers of various
kinds, as in those of the Potatoe and of the
Yam ; in the Arrow- root of the West, as in that
of the East-Indies, as well as in the Cassava and
the Sweet Potatoe ; and in the Arums, the taccas,
and eddoes of the islands of the Pacific Ocean,
with an analogous substance in the Salep, which
has long been famed for its nourishing properties.
Even the woody fibre, from tlie similarity in con-





Woody fibre.


stituent principles, raay, when reduced to the state Products or
of saw-dust, by the slow application of heat,
be converted into a kind of gummy substance,
which has been proposed as a substitute for
bread in times of scarcity. Other plants secrete
Saccharine principle, as the Sugar-cane and seve-
ral of the Palms, as well as the Sugar-maple of sugar.
North America, and the Beet-root of European

Some plants are remarkable for the Mucilage
which they contain, or the Gum, soluble in water. Gum.
which they exude. Others, again, yield Resins, Resin.
which, unlike these, are dissolved by oils and
spirit, and are therefore employed for making
Varnishes, to defend various substances from the
influences of air and moisture. Nature herself
presents to us some of these, fitted for such pur-
poses, as the Piney Varnish tree of the Penin- Varnish.
sula of India, as well as that of Burma.

The natural mixtures of Gums with Resins are
employed chiefly as medicines, as are also the
Volatile Oils, though many of these give the Volatile oils.
agreeable flavour to our most valued Spices and spices.

The Fatty Oils are expressed from the Cocoa- Fatty oils.
nut, Olive, Sesamum, Rape, Linseed, and from
many other plants ; or they are found in the form
of Butter, as in the Ghee tree of Almora, the Butter.
Tallow tree of Canara and of China, all employed
either in cookery, for anointing the body, or for
affording light. Other plants are remarkable for



PlT^""^ °^ secreting Colouring matter, which may be em-





As articles of

ployed as a Dye, or for the astringent principle*
which is indispensable to the art of Tanning.

Some substances which are very peculiar in
their nature, as the Caoutchouc, or Indian-
rubber, take long before their applications are
discovered, but when time and science have
effected this, they are found to be not less
important than others of which the uses are
more obvious. The several vegetable Acids are
chiefly useful as articles of diet or as medicines ;
but are also necessary in a variety of arts, like
the alkalis obtained from the incineration of vege-
tables. Wood serves every where as fuel, except
where Coal is abundant, which, though more
valuable, is also of vegetable origiti.

As Plants and their products may be applied
to such a variety of purposes, and as most coun-
tries have some which are peculiar to themselves,
or to which their soil and climate are best adapted ;
so it is found that different countries produce very
different products, or, if the same, then of very
different degrees of goodness. Hence these be-
come objects of desire to other nations, and thus
form a very large proportion of the Commerce of
the world, as we may observe in the Corn,
Hemp, and Flax of the North of Europe ; the
Timber of Norway and of Canada ; the Gin of
Holland ; and the Oil, the Fruits, and the Wine
and Brandy of the South of Europe ; the Cotton
and Tobacco^ the Rice and Flour of the United


States of America : the Losrwoocl and Mahoarany Products or

^ ^ » -^ Plants.

of Honduras ; the Caoutchouc of Para ; and the
Bark of Peru ; the Sugar and Rum, Cocoa and
Coffee, Tobacco, Allspice, and Arrow Root of Articles of

' r y Commerce.

the West- Indies ; the Gum, Myrrh, and Aloes
of Africa ; the Dates, the Coffee, and Senna of
Arabia ; the Saffron and Gum Resins of Persia ;
the Rhubarb of Tibet ; the Tea of China ; the
Rice and Indigo, Spices and Sugar, Opium and
Teak of India ; with a variety of Medicines from
all parts of the world ; and Barilla from the
South of Europe ; with Potash, Pitch and Tar,
from the North of Europe, as well as from North

Many Manufacturers, moreover, are engaged ^^^J^^^^
entirely on the products of Plants, as those who
use Timber for carpentering, mill-work, and
house or ship-building ; or such as make use of
vegetable fibre, as Flax and Hemp, or Cotton,
for spinning and weaving into cloth for domestic
purposes, or into sails for shipping, or for manu-
facturing into ropes and cables. Others, again,
are employed in Bleaching the cloth, or in Dyeing
it of various colours, or in Calico-printing ; and
in this also employ vegetable substances to
effect their purpose. Some occupy themselves in
grinding the corn into Flour, or in converting this
into Starch, or in Malting, Brewing, or in Distil-
ling, and in some countries in making Wine ot
Vinegar ; in manufacturing or refining Sugar, in
expressing Oils, or in extracting Tannin, or in




Relative im-
portance of
products of

Product or dissolving Gum or Resin, for the various purposes
to vv^hich these substances are applied. Even
the destruction of vegetables affords useful pro-
ducts, as Charcoal, Pitch and Tar, Potash and
'" Barilla ; finally, vegetable matter is required for
making paper in all its varieties.

The relative importance of these, as compared
with one another, or with the other products of
Nature or of Art, which contribute to the wealth
and resources of a country, it is not easy to deter-
mine, as they must vary in different parts of the
world, and in the several states of society, as well
as at different times in the same country. But their
value as objects of commerce, or as contributing
to the revenues of a country, may be seen by the
quantities in which they form its Exports or
Imports ; and also in a great measure, by the
amount of the Taxes collected on each. This is
likewise an interesting subject of investigation, as
giving us some means of ascertaining the nature
of the products of a country, as well as the occu-
pations of a people.

Great Britain. The result in Great Britain, we observe, is
that a very large proportion of the Imports con-
sists of raw produce obtained from the vegetable
kingdom. Thus, in the year 1836, the net pro-
duce of the Custom-house duties amounted to
£22,774,991. Of this large sum, 98J per cent, of
the whole, or £22,376,869, was collected upon
forty-five articles; that is, no less than£21, 127,456
upon Vegetable, £1,177,091 upon Animal, and



only £72,323 upon Mineral Substances.* These
sums are certainly not in proportion, to the im-
portance to the country, of the three kingdoms of
Nature, as the Exports consist chiefly of Manu-
factured articles, both of Mineral and Animal
products, as well as of the Vegetable Substances
previously imported ; but they very strikingly con-
firm the importance of the Vegetable Kingdom.

In India, however, the Exports, (amounting in
1837-38, in value to Co. Rs. 6,14,79,472,)t consist
chiefly of Vegetable Products, as of Opium and
Indigo, Sugar, Rice, and Cotton, Wheat, Flour,
and Pulses ; with Ginger, Saffiower, Vegetable
Oils, Indian Hemp and Jute, also Cotton Piece
Goods and Coarse Cloths. The Animal sub-
stances, of Raw Silk and Piece Goods, Lac,
Hides, Horns, and Elephants' Teeth ; with
Saltpetre, Borax, and Sal Ammoniac from the
Mineral Kingdom. The Imports, on the con-
trary, consist principally of the Manufactured
produce of Europe, as of Cotton and Silk Piece
Goods, chiefly the former, with Wines and
Spirits, and the various articles required for the
use of the European inhabitants. Betel-nuts,
Pepper, Cloves, Spices, and Teak from the

* The Progress of the Nation, by G. Porter, Esq. F.R.S.
Interchange, Revenue, and Expenditure, p. 323.

f A comparative view of the External Commerce of Bengal
during the years 1836-37, and 1837-38, by John Bell, Superin-
tendent of the Preventive Service in the Calcutta Custom-house.



countries to the southward and eastward ; Coffee
and Dates from Arabia, Tea from China, large
quantities of Metals from Europe, and Salt from
the Sunderbunds ; with Coral, Chanks, Cowries,
Horns, Hides, &c., many of which are again

These Imports, contributing to the comforts of
the inhabitants, are evidently bought with the raw
produce of the soil, which, as we have seen, is
exported in such large quantities. The culture of
the land, therefore, is of proportionate importance,
as it not only affords abundance of food, and em-
ployment for the great agricultural population, but
also materials for manufactures, and likewise for
both external and internal commerce.

Tabular View of the Value of Exports and Imports from the
Port of Calcutta, in 1837-38, arranged according to the
Kingdoms of Nature by which they are produced.


Manufectured : — '
Cloth, Rope, &c.
Wines, &c.






Total. .


Imports— Value.





Re-Export8— Value.



Exports— Value .













Vegetables and their products being thus ne- CowtraEop
cessary for the food of man, and the maintenance
of his cattle, forming a great part of his clothing,
and furnishing materials for his habitation, af-
fording medicines to relieve him when sick, and
products necessary for the various arts and
manufactures ; their culture has from the earliest
times, and in all civilized nations, been favoured
by the people, and patronised by sovereigns.
An art which leads to settled habits, affords
employment to a large portion of the population,
as well as food for the whole, materials for the
arts and manufactures, as well as for internal
trade and external commerce, must necessarily
command the favourable consideration of every
Government. Besides its obvious utility, the
culture of Vegetables, moreover, affords much
pleasing employment even to those who do not
follow it as an occupation. Hence it has been ob- conncctedwith
served to have a civilizing effect on the passions,
and to lead to orderly habits, ever since the first
great advance was made in civilization by the
transition of the nomade shepherd into the settled
cultivator of the soil. Therefore not only did
those nations become first civilized who had the
greatest facilities for pursuing the Arts of Cul-
ture, or were the most determined to overcome by
labour the difficulties opposed by nature; but
even in the present day those who are the most




Culture of

In early times.



civilized in other respects, are observed to pay the
greatest attention to the Arts which improve the
fruitfulness, or increase the variety of the Pro-
ducts of the Soil.

The Arts of Culture were probably, in the first
instance, restricted to Fruit-trees and the Cereal
grains, and must then have been limited in
degree ; but in progress of time they came to be
distinguished by different names, either according
to the kinds of Plants, or the extent in which
these were cultivated. This is evident if we
observe that the culture of the same plant is
considered in different countries as belonging to
different departments. Employed upon plants
required for the food of man, or for producing
materials fitted for arts and manufactures and
extended into the open culture of a country, it
is denominated Farming or Agriculture. In the
present day, this also includes the rearing of
Stock, whether required as labouring cattle, or
as food for man. When this culture is moderate
in degree, or carried on in enclosed spaces, and
chiefly by manual labour, it is called Gardening
or Horticulture. This is usually engaged upon
plants yielding fruit, or such as are required in
their vegetable state, or as condiments, or which
are agreeable for their appearance, or grateful
for their odour. The culture of Plants is some-
times more minutely divided, as into that of
Corn, Hay, and Pasture Grasses, or into that
of Timber or of Fruit-trees, or such as are suited


to the Shrubbery or Flower Garden, or into that Coltque of
of Medicinal plants. Such as are too delicate for
our climate are protected from its severity in the
Green House, while those which have been pro-
cured from the hottest regions of the globe have
their climates imitated by the artificial heat and
moisture of the Hot-house. Culture is often still
more divided, as into that of particular plants,
as of the Hop, Hemp, Flax, and Cotton ; Sugar,
Tea, Coffee, Tobacco, Opium, and Indigo.

Ctilture of every kind must necessarily, in Culture must

*' _ . . at first be luni-

the first instance, be limited in extent, as it is ted in extent
only by the multiplication of the seed, or offsets
from the plant first cultivated, that means are
obtained for extending the cultivation even of
one that is indigenous in a country. This must be
still more the case with such as are foreign to the
soil. It is evidently impracticable, except at unne-
cessary expense, to introduce new plants, or their
seeds, in large enough quantities to suflSce for the
culture of a country ; and, at all events, it is pre-
mature to do so, before the question of their suc-
cess or failure in a new locality has been carefully
determined by experiment. Then their peculiari-
ties of habit in the new situation will have been
ascertained, as well as the modifications required
in culture, to compensate for differences of soil
or of climate.

It is evident, therefore, tliat as culture must Therefore of
be, in the first instance, limited in extent, it will cordensr^
partake, more or less, of the nature of garden


Institution of culture. Institutions of this kind, by whatever

Gardens. ...

name distinguished, may be traced from very early
to the present times, whether simply denomi-
nated a Garden, an Experimental Farm, a Nur-
sery, a Horticultural, or a Botanic Garden. The
earliest we find described as agreeable, from af-
fording shade or from coolness, or from con-
taining an assemblage of plants, pleasing for their
appearance or grateful for their odour, or such as
were celebrated for yielding delicious fruits.
Gardens first The East having been the first peopled, and
the East. the earliest civilized, it is not surprizing that
to its nations we are able to trace the origin
of many of the arts, and among the rest that of
Gardening. This, not only because in these
countries the arts of culture had been discovered,
and the transition first made from the wandering
shepherd to the settled cultivator of the soil, but
also because these regions present the greatest
contrasts of climate, at different seasons of the
year, as well as very dissimilar products in diflTe-
rent parts of the country. The mountains under
the influence of a cool and refreshing temperature,
afford verdant pastures, beautiful flowers, and
well-flavoured fruits ; while the plains, like the
summers, being hot and dry, present only a
brownish, stunted, and thorny vegetation, except
in the immediate neighbourhood of the streamlets
which descend from the mountains. The earliest
accounts of gardens we read of are in Syria, Pa-
lestine, Mesopotamia, and Persia ; and in the al-


most imperishable paintings of the Egyptians we Gardens in an.
observe the attention which they paid to the cul-
ture of vegetables, as well as to all the other arts
of Peace.

The Greeks have described the Gardens of The Greeks.
Cyrus ; and it is more than probable, that from
their intercourse with Persia and Egypt, they
may have learned to value their uses. Thence also
they may have acquired their love for and em-
ployment of flowers, as offerings at the altars
of their gods, as well as for adorning the persons
of their priests, philosophers, and warriors, as
has always been the custom in Eastern countries.

The Romans, though so warlike a people, paid The Eomans,
great attention to all the arts of culture ; indeed
we are indebted to them for many of the vegetables
andfruits at present so common in Europe. They
took great pains not only in introducing the use-
ful plants of the countries they conquered into
those which they alrefidy possessed, but also in
inculcating the practice of their own improved
agriculture throughout their widely-spread terri-

Granting the origin of civilization and of the Gardening in

. . 1 •! 1 • 1 modem Persia.

arts of culture m those regions described m the
earliest works of Western writers, it is not proba-
ble that they would cease to be esteemed in the
countries where they originated, or that they
would not, like civilization, spread to the south
and east as well as to the north and west. Gardens,
therefore, have continued to be cultivated by the


Gardens in the moilerii as bv the ancient Persians ; but there

East. . ,

Persia. IS a remarkable difference between those of An-

cient and Modern Europe and the gardens of the
East. In the former every year has seen numer-
ous accessions to their riches, and an increase in
their uses and applications, while the latter re-
main the same in appearance, and without much
increase of the objects of cultivation ; as the same
plants continue to be cultivated now as in an-
cient times, with but few additions to their
number. Persian gardens, in modern times, are
described as having a reservoir of water in the
centre, with a broad and straight avenue, planted
on either side with poplars, cypresses, and the
Oriental plane, the latter especially valued for the
shade it affords. The fruits cultivated are the
melon, apple, apricot, peach, and grape-vine:
also a few flowers, conspicuous for their odour
or appearance, as the rose, jessamine, narcissus,
hyacinth, and tulip, all of which are however in-
digenous in the plains or mountains of the coun-
try ; and for the love of which the Persians have
always been distinguished as a nation.
India. The arts of culture were not long confined to

the Persians, or to the ancient Egyptians, for
contemporary with them the Hindoos excelled in
all the arts of Peace ; and no doubt originated
many of them, as they early practised improved
Fruitfuiness of. proccsses of Agriculture. India, rich in natural
products, and easily cultivated, having water near
the surface, and its plains intersected by magnifi-


cent rivers, with a climate in which wheat and India,

. Fruitfulness of.

barley probably introduced from the north, could
be cultivated at one season, and at another the
rice and joar, indigenous in the country, must
easily have furnished superabundance of food,
and thus have afforded facilities for some of the
inhabitants to follow arts, pursue commerce, and
give themselves up to literature and science, for
which they were so early celebrated.

The Hindoo modes of Culture are in many re- Indian Agncui*
spects peculiar, as in sowing several kinds of
seed together, and collecting the different crops
as they successively come to perfection. Though
their Rice is collected year after year, and often
twice in the same year in the same field without
manure, they are well acquainted with the im-
proving effects on land, of the culture of legumi-
nous plants ; and also that the corn grasses, rice
excepted, impoverish it : whence Dr. Roxburgh
was of opinion, that " the western parts of the
old world first learned the art of changing their
crops." They have, besides, employed the Drill
plough from time immemorial, though this is

Online LibraryJ. Forbes (John Forbes) RoyleEssay on the productive resources of India [electronic resource] → online text (page 2 of 32)