J. Forbes (John Forbes) Royle.

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

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New Holland, and from the suitableness of the
climate and pastures of many parts of India,
there is little doubt that this will also be esta-
blished as an highly important, and much im-
proved branch of Indian commerce.

Though we have confined ourselves chiefly to the Natural pro.
principal Agricultural objects, and those which —importance
form the great Staples of Commerce, it would have
been easy, as may be apparent from hints in
several passages, to have enlarged on many other
substances, as well as on those coming under
the head of Natural Products. These employed


Indian Na-
tural Products
or Drugs.

Indian Drugs
said to be in-

High duties
imposed on in

Supposed in-
feriority of In.
dian Drugs.

by the natives of India in their various arts,
might, if better known, be useful also for the
manufacturers of England, and thus serve to in-
crease the commerce of both countries. Many of
these come under the general denomination of
Drugs, and we learn from Mr. Larpent's evi-
dence before the House of Lords' Committee,
March 1840, that those coming from India are
generally thought in the mercantile world to be
inferior to the drugs imported from other parts
of the world. That the great object of merchants
connected with India is to encourage them in the
English market, and to improve their qualities.
But to this, there are great difficulties in the
high duties which are imposed on their intro-
duction into this country; as Mr. L. informs
us, that the answer merchants get when they urge
their correspondents to improve their qualities,
is, *' Your duties are so high that it is of no use
to attempt to improve them."

Many Indian drugs are inferior, from the care-
lessness of the natives in preparing and in collect-
ing them ; but a part of their imputed inferiority is
ascribable to their being merely different in their
constituents from some of those better known,
which are imported from other parts of the world.
For it is only when the constituents of a natural
product are accurately known that we can speak
with any confidence of its relative value. Because
what is unsuited for one purpose, may be preferred
for another, and therefore what one manufacturer


miffhl consider inferior would be considered su- imputed infe-
riority of Indi-
perior bv another. Of the importance of these an Natural pro-

* . ducts.

natural products or drugs, one may be convinced,
by the history of the trade of Lac and Shell lac,
Safflower, and more recently in thai of Rape and
Linseed, Cocoa nut oil, and Caoutchouc, and
many others which remain in the category of drugs,
until becoming known and used, they are im-
ported in large quantities and come to be ranked
as staple articles of commerce. Catechu was only
employed in tanning after the analysis of Sir H.
Davy. The value of many others is evident from
some of the Chemical analyses which have re-
cently been made in India by Dr. O'Shaughnessy,
and in this country by Mr. E. Solly.

In the review which we have thus taken of the Results of re-

. , , , ^ew of expert-

different experimental cultures, we have seen that mental cui-
several have become established as great Indian
staples, and yet the difficulties which, as in al-
most all new cultures, were encountered in their
establishment, and the course by which they
arrived at their present state, seem to be for-
gotten. An attentive perusal of their history is,
however, instructive, as showing the measures
to be adopted, or those to be avoided, and the
results which may be expected, even when iSrst
experiments have not been successful, as in the
cases of Tobacco and Cotton. In the accounts
which are given of the several experiments
made, we seldom find any complaints that plants
do not grow ; for, in fact, those suited to a warm


Probable im- climate, usuallv ffTOw too inuch from the com-

provement of . .

Indian pro- billed Warmth and moisture of the climate. To

ducts from in- . i • i •

creased skiu in thesc experimeiitalists often think it necessary
to add richness of soil, though this only in-
creases the usual fault of over-luxuriance. But
after a repetition of trials, a modification of treat-
ment, and the application of European science,
we find that improvement does eventually take
place, and improvements will no doubt continue
to take place, when the same means are adopted
and the experiments are made in a suitable soil
and favourable climate. Superior science and
careful culture seem to have been originally the
causes of the great celebrity of the products of
Ancient India, and they have elsewhere pro-
duced similar results in modern times. But as
civilization has advanced, the European race have
applied their energies and skill to the culture of
the same products, and in soils and climates
similar to that of India. Hence the productions
of India have had to compete with the highly
improved products of these countries, and there-
fore a still further degree of skill is requisite there
to produce yet greater improvement.

Nature of skill The skill required for the culture either of the
indigenous or exotic plants in India may be dis-
tinguished into two kinds : —

1. A practical knowledge of the details of cul-
ture in general, or of that peculiar to particular

2. A knowledge of the principles which are



applicable to all, and which necessarily influence ^*2l^°for^'"

all the results. ^^^^^ ^" ^"-

The first can onlv be acquired by practice, or ob- Practical «-

^ " * _ penence ortne

servation, or by consulting the writings, or taking advice of prac-
the advice of practical men. This is, however,
generally applicable only to the particular soil
and situation to which a planter has been ac-
customed. But those who have carried on the
arts of culture in the varying soils and climates
of different districts know that in all some mo-
difications of treatment are required. Therefore,
before commencing culture in a new situation,
farmers first ascertain by inquiries respecting the
soil and climate, what are the modifications of
treatment necessary to insure success. By com-
bining a knowledge of the practical details of
culture in different places, and seeing how they
correspond with the principles of the science, it
is possible so to arrange the instructions for cul-
ture as to be applicable to a new soil and situa-
tion. This would save many mistakes ; and at all
events, point out the sources of error and the
means of obviating them.

A knowledge of the principles on which de- a knowledge

^ ^ _ * of the princi-

pend the successful practice of the arts of culture, pies of culture^
can only be thoroughly acquired by those who
are acquainted with, at least the general principles
of several sciences. Though a knowledge of these
is not essential for successful practice, it is yet
difficult without them to understand the full ope-
ration of physical agents or the modifications


Sciences con-
nected with
the Arts of

Rock forma-
tions as form-
ing earths.

analysis of

Physical pro-
perties of soils.

Geology of In-

which maj' be required in different cultures to suit
them to new situations.

Though an acquaintance with rock formations
may not be essentially necessary to a knowledge
of soils, yet earths are formed from the disintegra-
tion of rocks exposed on the surface, and these
often extend over a considerable extent of country.
Hence we are often able, without examination,
to say that such and such mineral constituents
will predominate in the soil and subsoil of another,
perhaps distant district, and to which the same
culture will therefore often be applicable. Che-
mical analysis will reveal to us, indeed, the consti-
tuents of a soil, and show us whether those are
such as are best suited to the culture we wish
to attempt ; also enable us to judge what are the
constituents it has in excess, and what in defici-
ency, and therefore on the mineral additions which
require to be made. These are as material as the
organized additions which it requires, as manure
for the plant. For on them, in a great measure,
depend the physical properties, which are quite
as important as the chemical, as on them depend
the firmness and consistency of the soil, its power
of retaining water, or of becoming dry, its capa-
city of absorbing humidity, or oxygen from the
atmosphere, or of becoming more or less warm by
exposure to the sun.

Few of the varied soils of India have had their
chemical or physical properties carefully examined,
but we have now a very fair general idea of the
rock formations of different parts of India, and



may infer that, of much of the intermediate tracts, sciences con-
Thus commencing- with the south, Drs. Buchanan the Arts of
Hamilton and Heyne, Mr. TurnbuU Christie,
Drs. Benza and Malcolmson, and Mr. Cole,
have described that of the Peninsula. Col.
Sykes has elucidated the trap formation of the
Deccan ; Dr. Thomson the geology of Bombay ;
and Capt. Grant of Cutch. Dr. Voysey, when
attached to the Trigonometrical Survey, published
some of the earliest papers on the geoloo;y of Cen- Geology of

. 1 -1 1 I T-v different parts

tral India ; this has been since described by Dr. of India de-
Malcolmson and by Capt. Jenkins. Meywar and
the valley of O udeypore have been described by Mr.
Hardie ; Malw a by Capt. Dangerfield ; Saugur by
Capt. Coulthurd and Dr. Spry ; Bundlecund by
Capt. Franklin ; the series of rock formations on
the great military road from Calcutta to Benares,
and the sandstone formation of N. West India,
by the Rev. Mr. Everest. Much valuable infor-
mation is also contained in the works of Dr. B.
Hamilton. The Himalayas, which bound the
great Gangetic plains, have been described by Mr.
Colebrooke, Dr. Gerard, Capts. Herbert and
Cautley, Mr. McClelland, and Dr. Falconer, as
well as by the Author.* Immense deposits of

* Mr. McClelland ha.s furnished a valuable report on the
Coal and Mineral resources of India. Dr. B. Hamilton has des-
cribed the Minerals of the Rajmuhl Hills ; Capt. Herbert those
of the Himalayas; Drs. Anderson and Heyne those of the Penin-
sula. The Author has enumerated most of the Mineral Produc-
tions : V. Essay on the Antiquity of Hindoo Medicine, p. 97, &c.

2 D


Sciences con- fossil remaiiis have been found, both along the
the Arts of Nei'biidda and the Jumna, as well as in the Hima-
layas, but not having immediate reference to our
subject, we need not further notice.
Meteorology in The uecessitv of attending to the climate of a

reference to . , .

plants. country, when attemptmg a new culture, is gene-

rally acknowledged. Few, however, pay attention
to the details which are absolutely necessary to be
known, before we can be assured that the climate
of a place is suited to the plant we wish to cul-
tivate. Observation could alone have inform-
ed us what peculiarities of climate are suited
to particular plants. The illustrious Humboldt
has shown how different cultures are, in conse-
quence, restrained within certain limits. As the
temperatures of different countries which corres-
pond in latitude have a general correspondence,
so it has been inferred that the plants of one
will grow in the other. This is often found
to be the case, but still exceptions are frequently
observed. These can usually be accounted for,
from some difference in the climate, or want
of suitableness between the soil and climate.
Observations of the thermometer, which are so
generally made, are seldom taken with all the
precautions necessary for ascertaining the true
climate of the open country of a place. They
are sometimes observed in the house, and fre-
quently at such hours and under such circum-
stances as to prevent us knowing the true ex-
tremes, and therefore the means of temperature.
The first is essentially necessary, as a very short


frost, or a very little exposure to the hot winds, Sciences con-

, , . . , -f^ . , nected with the

may be injurious to many plants, ror perennials Arts of cul-


we require to know the annual temperature, but
for annuals only that of the season of cultivation.
This in India being very different at different
periods of the year, we require the extremes and
mean temperature of the rainy as well as of the
cold season. Temperature, however, is not suffi-
cient; the dryness and moisture of the atmosphere
are equally essential ; also the effects of absorption
of the solar rays, by which we ascertain the heat
to which plants are exposed during the day at the
surface of the earth ; likewise those of radiation,
which will give us information regarding the cold to Meteorology as

, . 1 , , I 1 • • 1 A 1 , connected with

which they are exposed during night. Also the vegetation.
quantity and times of rain, as well as the force, tem-
perature and dryness, or moisture of the wind ; as
on these will depend the rate of evaporation, which
will influence the growth of plants, and therefore
the mode in which we should grow them. For
instance, cotton requires to be planted at such
distances as to allow of the free circulation of
air, and thus a certain loss of space is caused, but
this should not be more than is necessary. As the
distances depend on the soil and climate, the drier
air of the northern provinces will admit of the
plants being placed much closer to each other than
in the moister soil and air of Bengal. The im-
portance of such investigations has been pointed
out in the several specific subjects which have
been treated of.

2 D 2


Sciences con. The Meteorologv, like the Geolosfv of India, is

nected with the . **' ^-^

Arts of cui- known m a general way, and we have very good
series of observations at several stations all along
the extent of British India, and may for the pre-
sent infer that of intermediate places. At these,
precise observations are, however, also required,
and will form a fruitful subject of interesting ob-
servation. Many important papers are contained
in the Transactions of the Royal and Asiatic
Societies, and in the invaluable Journal of the
Asiatic Society of Bengal, edited by the late
highly-talented and deeply-lamented Secretary,
Mr. James Prinsep ; also in that of the Madras
Society of Literature and Science.
Mapnetic Ob- Prccisc information will also be afforded by the
ing also Mete- Magnetic Observatories, which, in conjunction
stral^nts, ''^ with her Majesty's Government in different parts
estabTishcd iif of the world and with the naval expedition under
India. Capt. James Ross, the Court of Directors of the

East India Company have, on the application of
the Royal Society, directed to be established at
Simla, in the Himalayas, Singapore, Madras, and
if possible at Aden. -The best instruments both
for Magnetic and Meteorological observations have
been provided, and placed under Engineer offi-
cers, who have been instructed in their use by
Professor Lloyd, of Dublin.*

• To those desirous of making observations, it may be sug-
gested, that they could not confer a greater benefit on Indian
Meteorology, than by making simultaneous observations with


As the Arts of Culture are employed upon sciences con-

1 1 • iiectcd with the

Plants, it \vou Id appear necessary that a cultiva- Arts of cul-


tor should be acquainted with the science of vege-
tation. This, however, is seldom the case, though a
general knowledge of the subject is essential to a
right understanding, even of the operations of
agriculture ; or of the effects produced on the
plant or its products by the more or less expo-
sure to the influence of physical agents, or by the
several labours on the soil or plants which con-
stitute agriculture. Though it is not requisite that Botany, or tke

1 • I 1 1 I -I'll- knowledge of

a cultivator should be acquainted with what is plants.
generally considered Botany, but which is only
the systematic department of tbat extensive sci-
ence ; yet it is essential that he should know the
plant he wishes to cultivate, that he may not
mistake it for some other variety, or perhaps
species of the same genus, as has often been done.
Sometimes even one plant has been cultivated for
another, when they had no other similarity than
that of being employed for the same purpose.

One department of the science which treats of Physiology ef

_ *^ _ Plants.

Vegetation, namely, that of the vital actions, called
the Physiology of Plants, is so interesting, and at
the same time so important, that a knowledge
of its principles would form an agreeable pur-

those made at the Magnetic Observatories, &c., at as many and
at such hours as are convenient to the individual, and suited to
attdn the object in view, conformably to the instructions drawn
up by the Meteorological Committee of the Royal Society.


Sciences con-
nected with the
Arts of Cul-

PliysioJogy of

Action of ex-
ternal agents.

Geography of

suit, and is at the same time essential towards con-
ducting a scientific, and it might almost be said a
successful, cultivation in a new situation. By it
we may understand the process of germination and
the growth of the plant, as well as the functions
of the root, stem, and leaves, and the processes
which favour the appearance of flowers and the
production of fruit. The Author has frequently
endeavoured to direct attention to the influence
of external agents on the growth of the different
parts, and consequently on the products of plants,
so as to alter the quality and the productiveness of
some of the great staples of Indian agriculture.
To this subject he hopes to return on some future
occasion, and to elucidate it, with the details appli-
cable to Indian culture and climate ; feeling that
when principles are understood, sources of error
will readily be discovered, and modifications of
treatment easily be made. The importance of this
subject is strongly evinced by the appearance,
while the present work has been passing through
the press, of one by Dr. Lindley, called the
*' Theory of Horticulture," elucidating the prac-
tice of gardening by the principles of vegetable
physiology. Much of this is necessarily applicable
to culture of all kinds.

Another important branch of the science of
botany of the present day is one whicli has been
already alluded to at p. 244, that is, the Geography
of Plants. Almost every one knows, that particu-
lar sets of plants are found growing in hot and


tropical parts of the world, which, when trans- sciences con-

. • 1 1 • neeted with the

ferred to European latitudes, require the climate ArtsofCui-

of our hot-houses, while those from more tempe- Geography of

rate climates are suited to green-houses, and those ^'*"f^-

from colder parts of the world to the shrubberies

and forests of the country.

The Natural Classification of Plants, which has Natural classi-
fication of
also been alluded to, vide p. 242, affords peculiar Plant

advantages in studying their geographical distri-
bution. Because we soon perceive, though there
are exceptions, yet that the great majority of
the families of plants are found flourishing in
the greatest numbers in some particular country
or climate, and existing only in small numbers,
or as single species, in other countries, but where
there is usually some similarity in climate. The
Indian flora, as at present ascertained, consists
of about twelve thousand species of plants, which
are distributed in upwards of two hundred natural
families. Among these, there are representatives
of almost all the principal families of plants, and
certainly of all those which contain useful or im-
portant plants.

It has therefore been inferred that many of these
useful plants of other countries, or their conge-
ners, or those belonging to the same family, and
which so generally flourish in a similar soil and
climate, might be successfully cultivated within
the wide-spreading limits and elevated mountains
of the British dominions in India.


Transmission of Seeds to and from India
BY THE Overland Route.

Transmission The advantages beini»- iincloubted, and the

of Seeds to o n >

and from India, prospccts of succcss great, the Court of Directors
of the East-India Company determined on not
allowing the opportunity, offered by the speedy
communication with India, to escape, of sending-
to that country the materials for growing there
the plants suited to its varied soils and climate,
and such as are likely to conduce to the improve-
ment of the country, and the benefit of the peo-
ple ; obtaining also from its mountains such as
are suited to the climate of Great Britain. The
subject was brought under the notice of the
Court of Directors by a despatch from the Go-
vernor-general, dated Simla, the IGth Aug. 1838,
intimating that his lordship had addressed an
order to the officers in charge of such districts in
the north-western provinces as are either within,
or which border on, the Himalayan range, in-
structing them to collect in the autumn, suitable
seeds, bulbs, and roots, for transmission overland
to England.

The Governor-general, adverting to the facili-
ties afforded by the steam communication, and
referring to the interest known to be taken by
the Court in increasing the Vegetable riches of
the two countries, expresses a hope that such
useful seeds and plants may be sent out to Jndia


as may gradually be naturalized in that country, Advantages of

, . . , . 1 • 1 • ^^^ Transmis-

and recommends inquiry being made m this coun- sionof the
try for advice on the subject. fui piants to

On the importance of the object contemplated
by Lord Auckland, and sanctioned by the Court
of Directors, it is scarcely necessary to offer any
remarks. So large a share of the wealth of every
country is composed of its vegetable productions,
and those productions in such a variety of ways
minister to supply the wants of man, that to in-
crease their number or improve their quality can-
not fail to be regarded as a benefaction to the
country thus enriched. Indebted as man is to the
vegetable kingdom for food, shelter, and cloth-
ing, for the means of restoring health and as-
suaging pains, the propriety of Governments
promoting the introduction of valuable plants into
the countries over which they rule can scarcely
be questioned. In India, particularly, the duty
of acting upon these views is enjoined by pecu-
liar reasons. The productive powers of the soil will
give every advantage to the attempt of those dis-
posed to call them forth, and the people being ac-
customed so generally to a vegetable diet, renders
it important to secure to them as large a supply
and as great a variety of such diet as possible.
The occurrence of those severe visitations of Pro-
vidence, by which the happiness of the people is
for the time destroyed, and even the preservation
of existence rendered almost impossible, calls im-
peratively for the adoption of any measures, such
as the introduction of plants less dependant on


rain, which might tend to avert such calamities,
or alleviate their effects. The commercial position
of India requires a large amount of exchange-
able productions, and these must be raised from
the soil, for it is to agriculture that India must
look for the means of engaging in commerce.
Great extent Carried to its legitimate extent, the plan for

to which the /» t t i

introduction of the enrichment of India by such vegetable pro-

Plantsmaybe j .• i i i i i i

carried. Quctions as are adapted to the country would be

a most extensive one ; for, as is observed by Dr.
Lindley, " from the great extent of the British
possessions in India, and the infinite modifica-
tions and combinations of soil and climate to be
found within them, there can be no doubt what-
ever that almost every production of every climate,
except the Arctic, may be so completely natu-

Online LibraryJ. Forbes (John Forbes) RoyleEssay on the productive resources of India [electronic resource] → online text (page 28 of 32)