J. Forbes (John Forbes) Royle.

Essay on the productive resources of India [electronic resource] online

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mation as will be valuable in establishing prin-
ciples, or elucidating the causes, both of success-
ful and of unsuccessful practice.

Dr. Wight, in prosecution of the duties of his
appointment, has published a series of valuable
papers, as that already noticed (p. 341), on the
cultivation of Cotton in the several districts of
the Madras presidency ; others on the Nuth Grass
of the Ceded districts; on the cultivation of
Senna ; on the Mudar ; on the plant which yields
the Gamboge of Ceylon ; on the several plants
which yield the Cassia of commerce. ** The first
of these," he states, ** is the Malabar Carua of
Rheede, the second Nees von Esenbeck's Cinna-
momum aromaticum . The list, however, of Cassia-


producing plants is not limited to these tvro, but Plants yielding

- ,'"',. , - . - Cassia of com-

1 tirmly believe extends to nearly every spexiies of merce.
the genus. A set of specimens, submitted for my
examination, of the trees furnishing Cassia on the
Malabar Coast, presented no fewer than four dis-
tinct species ; including among them the genuine
Cinnamon plant, the bark of the older branches
of which, it would appear, are exported from that
coast as Cassia. Three or four more species are
natives of Ceylon, exclusive of the Cinnamon pro-
per, all of which greatly resemble the cinnamon
plant, and in the woods might easily be mistaken
for it, and peeled, though the produce might be
inferior. Thus we have from Western India and
Ceylon alone, probably not less than six plants
producing Cassia ; add to these nearly twice as
many more species of Cinnamomum, the pro-
duce of the more eastern states of Asia and the
Islands of the Eastern Archipelgo, all remarkable
for their striking family likeness ; all I believe en-
dowed with aromatic properties, and probably the
greater part, if not the whole, contributing some-
thing towards the general result, and we at once
see the impossibility of awarding to any one indi-
vidual species the credit of being the source
whence the Cassia Lignea of commerce is derived ;
and equally the impropriety of applying to any
one of them the comprehensive specific appellation
of Cassia, since all sorts of Cinnamon-like plants,
yielding bark of a quality unfit to bear the desig-
nation of Cinnamon in the market, are passed off
as Cassia."



On Flora of
Pulney moun-

On grafting
tropical plants.

On the Ho-
method of ac-

Besides several papers denominated Contribu-
tions to Indian Botany, Dr. Wight has some ex-
tremely interesting observations on the Flora of
the Courtallum, as well as on that of the Pulney
mountains. In the former much valuable infor-
mation is given on several of the Natural families
of plants found there. On the Pulney mountains
he finds European together with tropical forms,
and suggests the cultivation of Coffee. The soil
is fit for the production of grain of the first qua-
lity, if a little more care was bestowed on its
culture. *' This the inhabitants do not think it
worth, because, they say, they cannot sell it,
and what is the use of taking so much trouble
with what we have to eat ourselves ?"

A valuable proposition is made in his paper,
on an application of grafting so as to render it a
means of naturalizing new fruits. Conceiving that,
in the introduction of tropical plants, the chances
against success depend more on the soil than on
local differences of climate, he suggests as one of
the means to be tried, that of grafting the trees
under experiment, on hardy country stocks that
are known to thrive in nearly all kinds of soils.
The only precaution to be observed, as indispen-
sibly necessary to success in grafting, is that of
always using stocks of the same genus or natural
order with the scion to be grafted.

A very ingenious suggestion is that which Dr,
Wight calls the homoothermal method of accli-
mating extra-tropical plants within the tropics, in
which by altering entirely the constitution, and



thus qualifving the plant, though originally from a Homsother-

. , mal method of

cold or temperate climate, to endure, unmjured,the acclimating
extreme heat of the tropics. This is similar to Mr.
Speed's method of germinating, and at first grow-
ing such plants with the assistance of artificial
heat, until they become accustomed to the natural
heat of the climate; and rests on the supposi-
tion, that plants raised from seeds, sprouted under
a high temperature, have their constitutions so
modified, as to better fit them for successful culture
in higher temperatures than if raised in the usual
manner under shade.

Dr. Wight has recorded the results of his bo- Dr. wights
tanical investigations in a series of works * now
in coui*se of publication, which forming valuable
contributions to science, are extremely important

* Prodromus Florae Peninsulae Indise OrientaliSjby R, Wight,
M. D., and by G. A. W. Arnott, A.M. Vol I. London, 1834.

Contributions to the Botany of India, by R. Wight, M.D
London, 1834.

Illustrations of Indian Botany, or Figures Illustrative of each
of the Natural Orders of Indian Plants, with observations on
their Botanical Relations, Economical Uses, and Medicinal Pro-
perties, including descriptions of recently discovered or imper-
fectly known plants. Madras. Parts I— XI. 1838-39.

Icones Plantarum IntHae Orientalis, or Figures of Indian
Plants. Madras. Parts I— XI. 1838-39.

For this work, Dr. Wight says, ♦' Dr. Wallich, the indefatigable
Superintendent of the Calcutta Botanic Garden, has most libe-
rally undertaken to supply me with copies of the rich collection
of drawings appertaining to that establishment, left by the late
Dr. Roxburgh."

2 B


Botany of the as aids to all who wish to become acquainted with

Indian Penin- x t t» i • • i

silk. Indian Botany, and who desire to be convinced

of the extensive practical applications of the
scientific investigations of the present day. In his
work, Illustrations of Indian Botany, with co-
loured plates of various plants, he gives general
observations on the geographical distribution,
properties, and uses of the plants belonging to the
several natural orders. His separate Papers are
published in the Madras Journal of Literature and

Agricultural and Horticultural
Society of India.

In a survey of the means which have been
adopted for developing the resources of India, it

Institution of would bc Unpardonable to omit noticing a body,
ocie , ^^ which the Author is proud of having been
one of the early members, and which has ex-
erted itself vigorously in directing attention to
improvements in the cultivation of the great sta-
ples of Indian commerce — that is, the Agricultural
and Horticultural Society of India, to whose Tran-
sactions he has so frequently referred. This Society
was established on the 14th September, 1820,
subsequent to the distribution of a prospectus by

on the pro- the Venerable Dr. Carey, whose views on the ad-

posal of Dr.

Carey. vautagcs of such an institution we have already

mentioned at p. 71. Mr. W. Leycester, of the
Civil service, was appointed President, and Dr.


Carey, Secretary, when he prepared a series of Agricultural

,., -Ill 1 1 ^"n of

... , t • I' • 1 r OovenimenL

With it, to promote the production oi articles oi

raw produce of an improved description. •

The Society, in their reply, recommended the Experimental
more immediate means of improvement, consisting bUshed;
in the distribution of seeds, plants, useful informa-
tion, and rewards. The government immediately
granted 20,000 rupees for premiums, and in fur-
ther aid of the Society's efforts, they were autho-
rized to establish an experimental farm, for which
the annual sum of 10,000 rupees, exclusive of
rent, was allowed, and 4,500 for buildings, and
stock for the firet year. A special report was de- Reported on.
livered to the Society, on the 12th August 1835,
on the experiments made at the Akra farm on the
cultivation of Cotton, Tobacco, and Sugar cane,
which is published at the end of the second vo-


Recent Pro- lume of their Transactions This has been al-

gress of the

Society. ready referred to, as well as the numerous valu-

able papers contained in the subsequent volumes
on most of the subjects treated of in this work.
A portion of the Botanic Garden at Calcutta has
been allotted as a nursery, and the members of the
Society have continued to prosecute their re-
searches with a vigour,* which cannot but be
productive of very beneficial consequences to
themselves and to the country. This has been
chiefly under the Presidency of Sir Edward Ryan,
with the able assistance of the successive secre-
taries, Mr. Robison, Dr. Wallich, Mr. Bell, and
Dr. Spry. Their Transactions are indispen-
sable to all who desire to enter upon any of the
.great cultures. It is to be wished that increased
attention should be generally paid in future com-
• munications to the full influence of physical

agents, and to the physiology of vegetation.

other Societies The example of the Calcutta Society has been

established in . . , i o

different parts loUowed by the institution of several branch so-
cieties in different parts of India, and by the
establishment of an Agricultural and Horticul-
tural Society at Madras in 1836, and another at
Bombay for the west of India, in 1830. We have
only seen the first part of the *' Proceedings" of
the latter Society, where the same useful subjects
attract attention, such as Sugar, Tobacco, Coffee,
Cotton, and all kinds of natural products.

• As an instance^ it may be mentioned, that 34,000 Otaheile
sugar canes were distributed during the year )831).

of India.


Recapitulation of the Survey of the His-
tory AND Prospects of the Produc-
tive Resources of India.
Havins: laid aside, for the present at least, any importance of

•ii- /•! /•! •! ^^ culture of

detailed notice of the treasures of the animal and plants.
mineral kingdoms, we have seen how much vege-
tables contribute to the wealth of nations, and
how essential is their careful and extended cul-
ture to the comfort and improvement of a coun-
try. This as yielding an abundant supply of food
both for man and the animals he has domesticated,
affording various products which may form arti-
cles both of internal and of external commerce,
as well as be useful both for home and foreign
manufactures, and all be valuable as sources of
revenue, and contribute to the necessary expenses
of all civilized countries.

The culture of vegetables we have traced as Progress of the

..... , . . ArUi of Cul.

connected with civilization itself ; at first, limited ture.
in extent, and partaking of the nature of garden
culture ; subsequently extended into the open fields
of a country; and at a still later period distin-
guished into the culture of particular plants,
which continue to characterize different countries
and nations in modern as in ancient times.

Attention to, and improvements in. Agriculture Benefits of im-
we have seen followed by the disappearance of culture.
famines, great increase in the numbers of the
people, as well as in the prosperity of the country.
And yet, though conducing so much to the com-


Arts of Culture

promoted by

and by non-
individuals ;

by union of
men into so-

Plants, nature

fort and riches of the subject, we have observed
that, in the first instance, it has in most countries
required the interference, and the encourage-
ment of the Sovereign, for the commencement of
cultures, which were as much for the advantage
of the individual as for the improvement of the
country. We had occasion also to notice in the
course of our survey that the improvements in
agriculture had not usually proceeded from its
ordinary cultivators, but from tliose who with
cultivated minds had turned to it as a recreation,
or with the desire of improving what was of na-
tional importance, and which they saw but im-
perfectly performed. The want of skill in the
earlier cultivators is apparent, from their depre-
ciation of soil which in subsequent times is found
well able, when differently cultivated, to produce
the very plants with which they could not succeed.

This deficiency of skill, and the inability of in-
dividuals to contend with all the difficulties inci-
dent on improving old, and in introducing new
cultures, seem to have been felt in the associat-
ing together of men for a common purpose in
Societies. Here each might take up, or induce
others to take up, different parts of the extensive
subject, and the whole be forwarded by mutual
consultation and united energies.

Plants being living and organized bodies, fixed
in the earth and growing in the air, have their
functions dependant in a great measure upon
physical agents. And, as the Arts of Culture ob-


tain their principles from the sciences which Arts of cui-

^ '^ ^ ture improved

treat of the several agrents of Light, Heat, Air, with progress

^ ^ -.y of Natural Sci-

and Moisture, and the Physiology of Vegeta- ences.
tion, so did they improve with the improvement
of the several Natural Sciences, and when men
began to think of applying the Principles of Sci-
ence to the Practice of the arts of culture. This
we may see in the comparatively recent great im-
provements in the Horticulture as well as in the
Agriculture of Europe.

Gardeninsr and Agriculture were, no doubt. Great improve.

® ® ' mentof Arts

practised in eastern countries long before they of culture

* , ' among the 1-u-

were known in Europe. But once introduced, ropeanrace,
they have, like many other of the arts, similarly
originating in the East, attained a degree of per-
fection unknown in the countries of their birth.
With the characteristic energy of the European
character, these have not been confined to the
narrow limits of their own respective countries,
for we find them spread wherever their influence
extends, and especially introduced into their seve-
ral colonies. Those who see a country teeming
with population, and abounding in the cultivated
produce of the soil for their subsistence and com-
fort, seldom think of the slow progress by which
the several arts have arrived at the state of civi- "I^ spread

wherever their

lized perfection : nor how much the country they "iflueuce ex-
inhabit is indebted for many of what appear its
natural riches to the zeal and energy of its earlier
inhabitants. But if we refer to the annals of his-
tory, or the records of science, we shall soon be


Countries en- convinccd that many of the richest districts were,

richea by m-

troduced and that at no very remote period, but barren

wastes, and their most valued products introduced
from far distant countries. Though not more
striking, it is yet within the memory of man that
great changes have taken place in the Colonies
and extra European countries both in the in-
crease and decrease of some great staple pro-
ducts, which Europe had perhaps first received
from some older civilized country, and conveyed
to its earliest colonies.
Contrast be- Those who do uot Tcadily perceive the benefits
lectand patron- which havc bceu dcrivcd, from the successiveintro-
cuiture. duction of new plants, or the improved culture of

old ones, have only to observe the stationary state
of those European countries, or their Colonies,
where these arts are neglected, and contrast them
with the progressive improvement of such coun-
tries as England, where they are esteemed by the
people, and patronized by the great. If we wish
still further to be convinced of the importance,
or are desirous of tracing the effects, of introducing
useful plants into a country of which the soil and
climate are suitable, we have only to inquire into
the history, and observe the present state of many
of the products of different countries, as well as of
the principal staples of modern commerce. If we
do so, we shall be surprised at finding how many
were once strangers in the countries where they
are now most abundantly produced.
We have seen that the Romans, and afterwards


Charlemagne, introduced into Europe many of Agri

Online LibraryJ. Forbes (John Forbes) RoyleEssay on the productive resources of India [electronic resource] → online text (page 26 of 32)