J. Forbes (John Forbes) Royle.

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

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was also Maize, or Indian corn, which is not cul- Maize,
tivated to the extent, or with the care it merits,
considering the nourishing nature of its grain as
food for man, and its straw as fodder for cattle.
The Capsicum is so extensively cultivated both in capsicum,
the plains and mountains, and has become such a
necessary of life, that few will believe that it was
originally introduced from the New World, though
it is considered to have been so by all botanists. So
many species of Silk- worm and of Mulberry are in- suk-worm.
digenous in India, it is possible, that the common
species may also be a native, though it was most
likely introduced at an early time from China.

The indigenous products are, however, nume- indigenous

, ,, 111 x-»- 1 products of the

rous and equally valuable, as Kice, and numerous v^euWe king-
smaller Grains and Pulses,which afford food to the
inhabitants, while Sugar has been cultivated from
such early times, that we are unable to trace its
earliest history. Pepper, Cardamoms, Ginger, and



Indigenous Turmeric furnished them with condiments ; their
vegetabie°king! Cotton provided them with clothing ; Indigo, Lac,
Munjeet, and numerous other Dyes,with colouring
matter; many Vegetable Oils, fitted either for
food or for affording light ; Sun and Jute for cor*?
dage ; Catechu as an astringent and for tan-
ning leather. These form the principal articles
of the modern commerce of India ; and they must
always have been produced within the limits of
its territory. Many of them can be traced as hav-
ing been known to the Greeks and Romans at
very early periods.
, . The substances which have been noticed, with

Mineral sub-

stancespro- the exceptiou of Silk and Lac, are from the vege-

duced in India. '^ _ ^

table kingdom ; but several Mineral substances
are equally produced in great abundance within
the Indian territory, and which are too obvious to
have escaped notice. These the Author has al-
ready noticed in another work. "As Common and
Wt8. Rock Salt ; the former evaporated, as now, from

sea water in the Bay of Bengal ; the latter abun-
dant in the salt rocks of the Punjab. Borax was
probably obtained, in former times, as at the pre-
sent day, from Tibet. Saltpetre must long before
the time of the Arabs have been washed out of
the soil, as it is in the present day, and was re-
quired for making the fireworks for which the
Indians have long been famous. Sulphate of
Soda (kharee muttee) they are in the present day
well acquainted with, and obtain by similar means.
Alum is made in Cutch, from an Alum eartli ; it


is in constant use by the Hindoos in a variety of Mineral sob-
arts, as well as in medicine ; and its Sanscrit dused in India,
name, pliitkara, begins with a letter which is want-
ing in the Arabic alphabet. Sal Ammoniac must
have been familiar to the Hindoos, ever since
they have burnt bricks, as they now do, with the
manure of animals, as some may usually be found
crystalized at the unburnt extremity of the kilns.
The Egyptians obtained it from the soot of the
same kind of fuel. The Sanscrit name, nuosaduVy
is that, moreover, under which it is described by
Arabian authors. Lime, they have long known
how to obtain, by burning, not only limestone,
but also shells and corals. Charcoal and Sul-
phur they were early acquainted with ; the for-
mer they obtain from a variety of plants, and
value that of each according to the purposes for
which it is required.

" The alkalis even must have been known to Aikaiis known
the Hindoos, as salts from the ashes of several ve- doos!
getables ; and caustics made from them are men-
tioned in the works to which the Arabs had ac-
cess. The ashes of the plantain (Musa sapientum),
and of the dhak (Butea frondosa) most frequently
mentioned for medicinal purposes, must have
afforded them a Carbonate of Potash (Pearl-ash),
while the incineration of the Salsolas and Salicor-
nias on the coasts of the peninsula, and the shores
of the salt lakes of North-western India, must
in former, as in the present day, have afforded
them a Carbonate of Soda (Barilla), which is also


Alkaline Salts found effloresccd Oil the soil in some parts of their

Known to Hin- *^

doos. country." Essay on the Antiquity of Hindoo

Medicine, p. 40.*

♦ As Hindoo works on medicine make references to the above
substances, as well as to the three principal acids, and to nine
of the metals, the author conceived that Chemistry originated
with the Hindoos, and was borrowed from them by the Arabs,
especially as Serapion,Rhazes,and Avicenna quote from Sanscrit
works, one of which, the Susruta, has a chapter, the title
of which Professor Wilson translates, as " Rasayana or Che-
mistry, or more correctly. Alchemy ; as the chief end of the
combinations it describes, and which are mostly metallurgic, is
the discovery of the universal medicine, or the elixir that was
to render health permanent, and life perpetual." — Essay, p. 39.

Professor Dietz (vide Essay, p. 64) had already discovered,
though the fact was unknown to the author, that the later Greek
physicians were acquainted with the medical works of the
Hindoos, and that Hindoo physicians even held appointments
at the court of Harun-al-Rashid. Mr. Cureton has since pub-
lished a paper on the Indian physicians at Bagdad, to which
Professor Wilson has appended remarks, identifying many of
the names. He comes to the conclusion, as the author had done
by another series of proofs, " that the astronomy and medicine
of the Hindoos were cultivated anteriorly to those of the Greeks,
by the Arabs of the eighth century." Vide Journ. Royal Asiat.
SocNo. XI,p. 105. 1840.

The early attention paid by the sovereigns of India to the
culture of trees and of useful plants, and the great attention pjiid
by the natives of India to medicine, and the esteem in which it
was held, are proved by the following most important inscrip-
tion, of the date of about 220 B.C. , deciphered by my late
friend, the deeply lamented Secretary of the Asiatic Society of
Calcutta, Mr. James Prinsep. Journal Asiatic Society, vol. V.,
p. 158. Calcutta, 1838.
; ** Everywhere within the conquered provinces of raja Piva-


In the preceding very cursory view of the com- commercial

- ,.„ ' . ^ ,, articles pro-

merce oi dmerent countries, we observe that duced less in
many of the principal articles are not so much
exported from the countries where they are indi-
genous, as from those where they have been intro-
duced by individuals, or the patronage of the
government. Also, that these strangers in new
countries and climates are better and more pro- timn in ti»e
ductively cultivated in them than in the regions o^ where they are
their birth, in consequence, no doubt, of the zeal *^*^'
and energy of the people, who in the first in-
stance took the trouble to introduce them. But
also owing to the increased skill required on the
part of the cultivator to overcome the difficulties Owing to skiu

*■ and industry

opposed by nature. These are often apparently of inhabitants,
so great as to seem insurmountable, while, in fact,
all that is required is such modification of the
culture as to suit it to the new situation or to the

DASi, the beloved of the gods, as well as in the parts occupied
by the faithful, such as Chola, Pida, Satiyaputra, and Ketala-
putra, even as far as Tamhapannl {^Ceylon), — and moreover
within the dominions of Antiochus the Greek, (of which
Antiochus' generals are the rulers) — everywhere the heaven-
beloved raja Piyadasis' double system of medical aid is esta-
bh'shed ; — both medical aid for men, and medical aid for ani-
mals; together with medicaments of all sorts, which are suitable
for men, and suitable for animals. And wherever there is no
(such provision) — in all such places they are to be prepared,
and to be planted: both root-drugs and herbs, wheresoever
there is not (a provision of them), in all such places they
shall be deposited and planted.

" And in the public highways, wells are to be dug, and trees
to be planted, for the accommodation of men and animals."



Countries rich
in gifts of na>
ture, often neg-
lect Arts of

India rich in
natural pro-
ducts, also cul-
tivates exten-

and Chemical
arts early prac-
tised by natives
of India.

product that is required. We have at the same
time observed, that the countries which most
abound in natural riches are frequently least so-
licitous about possessing the valuable products of
other parts of the world. But they are unfortu-
nately equally careless about their own, which
they cultivate but little, or with indifferent skill,
relying entirely upon the bounty of nature : this
produces apathy and indolence, instead of the re-
quisite degree of energy to benefit to the full ex-
tent by the facilities which she bountifully offers.
India, like China, offers a great contrast to
both, as fertile in soil, favoured in climate, and
rich in natural products, its inhabitants have yet
from an early period practised extensive cultivation.
They have originated, moreover, some of what are
considered even the improved processes of agri-
culture in Europe. Possessing, as they do na-
turally. Rice, Sugar, Cotton, and Indigo, they have
yet, as we have seen, long cultivated Wheat, Bar-
ley, Flax, Poppy, and in later times. Capsicum,
Maize, and Tobacco, and still more recently the
Potatoe and many of the Fruits of different coun-
tries. The early attention paid by the natives
of India to such subjects is a proof of their
civilization. This is remarkably conspicuous in
so many articles of their ancient commerce, being
not the spontaneous production of their wilds and
forests, though these were not wanting, but the
results of careful culture, and of manufacturing
skill. This is evident in the Steel which was pre-


sented to Alexander the Great on his reaching the Manufactures
north of India. Cotton, also, we know, as having Arts early prac-
formed the clothing of the Indians in the time
of Herodotus. It is probable that it was exported cotton cioth.
to Asiatic countries at still earlier periods, as the
word karpas is used in the book of Esther, c.
i. V. 6 (translated hangings) : also karpasos, by
Arrian ; both are derived from the Sanscrit kar-
pasa, Hindee kapas. We see this also in Sugar, Sugar.
which was known to the Greeks : here they must
have expressed the juice of the cane and then
crystallized it into sugar. Also in the Indigo, res- indigo.
pecting which Dr. Bancroft says, " By what cir-
cumstance or event the people of Hindoostan
alone were led several thousand years ago to dis-
cover and adopt means by which the blue colour-
able matter of the indigo plant might be extracted,
oxygenated, and precipitated free from almost all
the other matters naturally combined with it, and
afterwards brought into the dry solid form in
which we now find it, no one can, I believe, con-
jecture." — (Philosophy of Permanent Colours.)
Their early success in so many Chemical arts, can
only be explained, as the author has inferred, by
their having originated the science of Chemistry,
instead of the Arabs, as is generally supposed.

We have stated, that the natural fruitfulness Natural fruit-

/. 1 , 1 1 /> -1 • • /^ 1 fulness allowed

of the country, and the tacilities for culture, must leisure for arts

And sci6nc6s»

early have furnished a superabundance of food,
tended to increase the population, and allowed
some the leisure to pursue manufactures, com-

•2 c 2


India early

Still manufkC'
turing, but
chiefly agricul

now thought
unable to pro-
duce some of
the great sta-
ples of com-

pwing to infe-
riority in skill
to the western

merce, literature, and science. Hence the early
celebrity and far-extended diffusion of the rich
products of the Indian soil, as well as of the
prized manufactures of their patient industry. In
. the present day, though manufacturing both In-
digo and Sugar, India must be considered a great
agricultural country, because these, as well as its
Corn-grasses, Poppy, Cotton, and Mulberry, &c.,
all require extensive cultivation. Yet, notwith-
standing its ancient fruitfulness, we may often
hear it mentioned as unfitted to produce Cotton,
Tobacco, and Rice equal to America, or Sugar
and Coffee, like the West Indies ; or Silk, like
China or the South of Europe ; or Flax like
Ancient Egypt, or Hemp like Modern Italy. But
we have seen that England was itself thought
unfitted even for the growth of vegetables and
of those fruits which we now see produced of the
finest quality ; not from any change in the soil
or improvement in the climate, but in conse-
quence of the increase in skill of its cultivators.
We have also seen that the Arts of Culture even
in Europe have arrived by slow degrees at their
present perfection, and that the impulse has been
given by sovereigns, remarkable men, and in later
times, by the associating together of individuals
in societies.

Though we have stated that India was in-
debted for its ancient celebrity to its superior
agricultural and manufacturing skill, yet it does
not follow that these can now compete, either


with the improved manufactures, or with the India now in-
agriculture of Europe in the present day, or with to some other
that of North America, or of the West-Indies, worid°
which are conducted with the energy and skill
characteristic of the European race. But by fol-
lowing the course which these have so success-
fully pursued, the same results may and undoubt-
edly will be obtained in India.

In the preceding observations we have briefly Historical sur-
alluded to the origin of the Arts of Culture, and cuiturerto"
their slow progress both in Europe, its Colonies, tJ^fpro^eS
and in Extra- European countries, for the express 'ni"****-
purpose of comparing with other countries the
Natural Resources of India, the Progress which
has been made in the Arts of Culture, and the
Prospects which may be looked to for the future.

The Soil and Climate are as varied as the Bri- The soil and

. , ...,,. 1 1 -n climate being

tish territories in India are extended. Every part favourable and

... . /. TVT 1 -r» natural pro-

is rich m a great variety or Natural Kesources, ducts abundant
valuable for Food, Commerce, and Manufactures.
Much has been done to increase these by the in-
troduction of useful plants of all countries, both
in the northern and in the southern provinces.
The great variety of useful products yielded by
plants generally, p. 13, is shown to be secreted
by many of those indigenous in, or introduced
into, and cultivated in India, The list of all these
might have been very much extended.

The soil is as capable of producing, and the skiii aione re-
climate as suited to these varied products, as it diaT "*
ever was. Yet that they are not cultivated with


with other
parts of tlie

Skill alone re- the skiU which is desirablc, is not to be wondered
?o compete" '^ ^t, since the Hindoos find their ancient systems of
Agriculture sufficient for their purposes, and they
are naturally prejudiced in favour of that which
has the sanction of antiquity. Few, if any, of the
Europeans who have settled as cultivators in
the country have been professional farmers. The
majority were therefore unacquainted with the
practice of the art in Europe, as well as with the
details of tropical culture in the New World.
Still fewer have been familiar with the Sciences
connected with the Arts of Culture, and which in
the absence of experience would have given them
principles for guidance in their practice.

The efforts of the Government, we have seen,
were commenced at an early period, and have been
continued up to the present time, in instituting
experiments, often on an extensive scale, for the
improvement of the resources of India. In addi-
tion to these, plants of all countries have been
incessantly introduced into the country by the
Government gardens ; and many which are useful
and important have been naturalized all over
the wide extent of British India. Several socie-
ties also have now been established. Our object
has been to show the course that has been pur-
sued, as well as the results which have been ob-
tained, and by the observations on the failures or
the successes, to indicate the course to be followed
in future experiments— that is, the iiecessity of
applying scientific principles to insure successful

Extensive re-
sults have al-
ready been


Thus, in the history of the several experimental instances of

. /.i-i 1 • iij.*i successful and

cultures of which we have given the details, we unsuccessful
see the Poppy cultivated in the cold weather, like J^JJ^* ""
other foreign introductions, as Wheat, Barley, and
Flax, and acclimated by the natives of India.
The opium produced is of as good quality in the
territories without, as in those within European
influence ; because, being simply an inspissated
juice, it required only care in the collection.
The Flax plant is valued only on account of the fux.
oil contained in its seeds, while the Hemp for the Hemp.
intoxicating nature of the secretions of its leaves.
Hence both are so planted as to receive the full
influence of light, heat, and air. In one, the lig-
neous fibre is short, and in the other hard and
brittle ; but a modification of the culture in both,
consisting only of the adoption of the European
mode of cultivation, or the imitation of that prac-
tised by the natives themselves for cordage plants,
would, no doubt, secure softness and length of
fibre, and the production of probably as good flax
and hemp as in any other part of the world.
Tobacco imported from the New World is now Tobacco,
cultivated all over India, but is not prepared so
as to be esteemed in European markets, because,
when cut, it is exposed to the full effects of the
sun and air, and thus becomes dry and powdery.
While in America the greatest care is taken by
effects of heating when heaped up, moisture and
afterwards by careful drying in the shade (that is,
by the process of curing), to bring it to a soft,
pliable state, of a brown colour, and with a honey


Cases of sue- siiiell. Hcncc, therefore, it is too much exposure

cessful and un- ,, ,.,.... ^^itt

successful cuJ. ancl clryncss which is injurious to the Indian pro-
cure. 1 ,

Cotton. In Cotton, on the contrary, a little exposure

and careful drying are absolutely necessary, as if
heaped up when fresh picked, the staple is sure
to get discoloured as well as weakened. This
very injurious process is that actually practised
in India, the cotton with the seed being fre-
quently heaped together for some time before it is
cleaned. Besides neglect in the cleaning of cot-
ton, the growth of the plant also is in most parts
of India neglected, and very different from the
careful culture of America; there being no selec-
tion of the seed ; also close sowing and mixture of
crops, by which the growth of the parts of vegeta-
tion is favoured, instead of those of fructification.
Sugar and Indigo for their successful produc-
tion require attention to the culture of the plants,
as well as to the Chemistry of the Manufacture.

Indigo, "^^^ colouring matter of the Indigo being stored

up in the leaves, and these being produced in the
greatest profusion in the rich provinces of Bengal,
makes the culture there the most lucrative ; while
the comparative dryness of the northern provinces
and their freedom from inundation are favoura-
ble for the production of the seed. This is conse-
quently supplied by the planters of the north, to
those of the south, and has probably had con-
siderable effect in preventing deterioration of the
plant. India, we have also seen, was deprived of


the commerce, when European skill was applied to Cases of suc-

^ * * cessful and un-

its manufacture in the New World, and recovered successful cul-
it again by the very means by which it had been

deprived, assisted by the continued and powerful

support of the East India Company.

The cultivation of the Sugar Cane, so as to in- Sugar,
sure the largest secretion of saccharine matter,
has been less attended to ; but the different phy-
sical states on which this is dependant afford a
fruitful subject for experiment. We have seen,
that when the necessities of Great Britain re-
quired it, a trade in sugar was immediately esta-
blished. The China Sugar Cane was introduced
into India nearly at the same time that the Ota-
heite Cane was taken to the West Indies. This
is now spreading all over India, though some
doubt whether it be superior to the Cane of China;
but there can be no doubt that the sugar of the
East Indies has been greatly improved by the ap-
plication of the skill in manufacture of the West
Indies, and that it will be still more improved.

The Tea plant, we have seen, was, on scientific Tea plant
grounds, supposed could be grow^n in the Hima-
layas : the results of the experiments, as far as they
have yet gone, prove the opinions to have been cor-
rect. The tea from Assam has been pronounced
a good, strong, and very useful description, and
that it will probably be classed with good and
fine Congou tea. From the accounts which
have been received here of the cost of produc-
tion, with every charge for conveyance, it is likely


Cases of sue-
cessful and un-
successful cul-


Frait trees.




Animal sub-


that the Assam Company will considerably under-
sell the Chinese. (Lords' Committee on Petition
of East-India Company.) Dr. Falconer is also
of opinion that the culture will most undoubtedly
thrive, and Tea be produced at a cheaper rate
than in China.

Coffee is becoming cultivated in various parts
of India, and produced of very excellent qua-
lity. The Fruit trees of various countries are as
much at home as in their native sites, and many
of the important plants of the New World, as
the Mahogany, Logwood, Pimento, are becoming
spread over the whole country. There seems
no limit to the extent to which the acclimating
of the useful plants of other countries may be
carried, as there is no reason why we should not
be able to do this as easily as many of them have
acclimated the indigenous plants of India.

With regard to animal substances, the experi-
mental culture of Cochineal was as successful as
could be expected with the materials at that time
obtainable. And sufficient was learnt to satisfy
every one that the true Cochineal insect would
thrive well in the districts where the wild kind
had spread with such amazing rapidity. The Go-
vernment patronage, though liberal enough to have
established the culture even of the true insect, had
only a temporary effect upon that which was so
inferior, as the increased employment of Lac, and
the diminished price of Cochineal, combined their
effects in discouraging the culture.


The Silk culture, though known to India, was Cases of sue

, ii-ii fi-ii • cessful and un-

only established on a nrm basis by the energetic successful cui-
patronage of the East-India Company, and then
only by sending Europeans well acquainted with
the Italian method of culture to improve the silk suk.
of India. The difficulties were altogether great,
inasmuch as both the best kinds of Silk- worm and
of Mulberry were required, and a climate suited
to both. The best mode of culture of the Mul-
berry and the treatment of silk- worm in the diffe-
rent parts of India have yet to be determined,
but it is probable that the culture may be ex-
tended over many districts where it is at present

Wool is one of the articles which has most re- wool
cently become an article of commerce. From
the measures which have been adopted by the
Government of sending to India the most ap-
proved rams both from Europe, the Cape, and

Online LibraryJ. Forbes (John Forbes) RoyleEssay on the productive resources of India [electronic resource] → online text (page 27 of 32)