J. Forbes (John Forbes) Royle.

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

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proving the culture of Grain, and that the
premiums bestowed by them upon successful
candidates in the various branches of husbandry,
would operate with greater success, where these benefit of.
operations must necessarily be carried forward on
a large scale, and a comparative view made of
the advantage attending different modes of culture,
and of the produce of different kinds of soil.
This is, however, impracticable in many of our


Experimental foreiVn possessions, and must necessarily be

Farm attached . . .

to Botanic attended with many defects in them all, which it


is not necessary here to mention : the best substi-
tute for such a society seems to be, the attaching
of an Experimental Farm to a Botanical Garden,
a measure which the liberal views of the Govern-
ment of British India have induced them to adopt,
and which has been well repaid by the experi-
ments made there on the cultivation and produce
of different kinds of grain, on the strength and
durability of the fibres of the bark of various
plants, and upon various other subjects, highly
important to the Agricultural interests of the
country." — Introduction, p. 4 and 5.

Dr. Roxburgh. Though Dr. Roxburgh had very indifferent
health, having been obliged during his Superin-
^ tendence to make three distinct voyages, between
the time of his first coming to the Garden, in
1793, and that of his death, which happened in
1813, once to the Cape of Good Hope, and
twice to Europe, few men have laboured with
greater zeal, assiduity, and success ; and even
during his absence, some of the men who acted
for him were well qualified to do justice to the

Dr. John Fie- institution. Dr. Johu Fleming, President of the
Medical Board, and who is well known by his
Essay on Indian Medicinal Plants and Drugs,
acted as Superintendent when Dr. Roxburgh
went to the Cape of Good Hope ; and on another
occasion, Mr. Colebrooke, distinguished as a San-
scrit scholar, and for his Philosophical Essays



upon the Literature and Philosophy of the Hin- Mr.coie-
doos, as well as for the attention he paid to the
useful Plants of India, as displayed in his Papers
on Olibanura, Camphor, &c. in the Asiatic Re-
searches ; as likewise by his " Remarks on the
Husbandry and Internal Commerce of Bengal."
Dr. Carey also seems to have been in constant com- Dr. Carey.
municatioii with the Calcutta Botanic Garden, of
which he published the Catalogue in 1814, and a
complete edition of Dr. Roxburgh's Flora Indica
in 1831 and 1832.

The Botanic Garden of Calcutta has been use- Useful plants

- . . - . . - . introduced into

ful m mtroducmg many important plants mto India.
India. So long ago as 1814 Dr. Carey states,
" The Mahogany tree, for instance, which but a Mahogany.
few years ago was brought from Jamaica to this
country, thrives so luxuriantly in Bengal, that
many thousand trees of it are growing here, and
even small pieces of furniture have been already
made of the wood. The Pimento and Coffee Pimento,
prosper now as well in Bengal as in their native
soil, and the Nutmeg, notwithstanding the climate Nutmeg.
is somewhat too cold for it, already produces
fruit every year." The Nutmeg was but imper-
fectly known until it was correctly described by
Dr. Roxburgh from specimens growing in the
Calcutta Botanic Garden, which were obtained
from the Molucca Islands, while they were in the
possession of the English from 1796 to 1802.
A Spice plantation was established by the E. I.



Spice planta-
tion establish-
ed by the E.- 1.
Company in

Mr. Cole's
plantation at
fiencoolen ;

also in Penang.


Camplior tree.

Company, under the charge of Dr. C. Campbell,
on Mount Carmel, about sixteen miles south of
Marlborough. Mr. Cole, a Civil servant of the
Bencoolen establishment, was the first who took
measures to cultivate the Nutmeg and Clove
Plants on a scale that merited attention. " His
plantation, however," Dr. Heyne says, " was the
only one of its kind until 1803, when it began to
produce, and convinced the sneerers that the
Spice did not only grow well, but produced in
the greatest perfection." (Tracts p. 412.) From
that period, plantations sprang up on every side,
and the settlement thereby wonderfully improved.
The number of plantations amounted in 1812 to
about thirty-three, most of which had trees bear-
ing fruit, and their produce in the market, par-
ticularly the Mace and Cloves, was found equal
to that from the Eastern Islands : the Nutmegs
were not quite so large as those from Banda. Dr.
Roxburgh states that at Prince of Wales' Island,
where by far the most extensive plantations were
formed, the plants were in a middle state, between
those at Bencoolen and in Bengal, but did not
thrive by any means so well as in Sumatra,
where they are perfectly at home in every respect,
and fruit earlier than in the Molucca Islands. (Fl.
Ind. iii. p. 845.)

In addition to the Spice trees, the Cinnamon
was introduced into the Calcutta Botanic Garden
from Ceylon ; and the Camphor tree from the


Cape of Good Hope, where it had been conveyed camphor and

, Benzoin trees.

by the Dutch ; also the Benzoin tree from Suma-
tra, and the Culitlawan from Amboyna.

Among other subjects of great national im-
portance, which at that time attracted Dr. Rox-
burgh's attention, were Barilla, Cotton, Sugar, useful Indian
Indigo, Hemp, and Caoutchouc. Experiments p'^""'^^'
were made on these in the Botanic Garden, but
of which, though very important in nature, it was
long before their results and value were appreci
ated, or before imitators were found among those
most interested in the improvement of the soil.

Potash and Barilla, which are imported in Bariiiain
such large quantities, the former chiefly from
America and Russia, and the latter from Spain
and Sicily, he proposed to supply from India.
The two species of Salicornia, and one of Sal-
sola, which he described, and which are extremely
abundant on the Coromandel Coast, he says might abundant;
be made to yield batilla sufficient to make soap
and glass for the whole world ; as labour is
cheap, population abundant, and, except in years
of remarkable drought, there is always more
grain produced than can be sold on the spot.
But as the natives can scarcely procure a suffi- would afford

the natives

ciency of food during the dry season of the year, useful employ-
when there is little or no employment for them, it
appears the more necessary to institute such
branches of manufacture as will employ them
during that season, — such as gathering these
plants, and burning them for the Alkali. " Our




Potash from

Mineral alkali
sent from In-

from Assam.

extensive, and I may also say impenetrable forests
which cover such large tracts of the best lands
in India, might by degrees be cleared and turned
into Potash, for the same reasons, and by the
same means. Certainly labour is as cheap here as
in Russia. In this hot country we have many
advantages, viz., immense tracts of wood of the
most solid texture, which requires little labour
to prepare it for the fire, on account of the great
drought and heat which prevail at the season
this manufacture could best be carried on. The
same heat and drought is fully sufficient to evapo-
rate the ley without the least assistance of fire.
All that could be necessary would be some broad
shallow vessels exposed to the sun and wind." Dr.
Helenus Scott, however, received a gold medal
from the Society of Arts for sending from Bom-
bay, as asubstitute for Barilla, considerable quanti-
ties of Mineral Alkali, which he describes as being
dug out of the ground, and which, though inter-
mixed with a little common salt, yielded as large
a proportion of Barilla as the Spanish. — v. Trans.
Society of Arts, vol. vi.

Caoutchouc, or India Rubber, long appeared a
substance of trifling importance, but we ^ee it every
day becoming a more extensive article of com-
merce. From a source of this substance, disco-
vered in Assam by Dr. Roxburgh above thirty
years ago, it has only now entered the market, in
consequence of letters written by the Author in
1836. It is now rapidly increasing in quantity.


and is of so excellent a quality as already to have Caoutchouc

trom Assam ;

reduced the price, nearly thirty per cent, of that
which had been so long and almost exclusively
imported from Para. Though an agency house in
Calcutta, to whom it was sent in 1828 by desire
of the late Mr. D. Scott, informed him that '* the
article being unknown in this (the Calcutta)
market, we are sorry we can give you no idea of
its value ;" and this, in March 1828, when it was
selling in London for two shillings a pound ; in
the year 1837, 514, and in 1838, 925 Bazar maunds
were exported from Calcutta ; the former of the
value of 4,112, and the latter 7,400 Rupees.

Wood Oil, which is also a remarkable substance, wood on.
and contains a large proportion of Balsam of Co-
paiba, is yielded by several trees described by him.*
This has never become an article of commerce,
but no less than five hundred gallons of it have imported;
been sent by a single individual, in consequence
of a letter, also written by the Author, stating that
it might become an article of commerce if made
known here. The Custom-house officers, how-
ever, refuse to pass it except at the highest rate high duty re-
of duty, namely that, for a manufactured article, ^""^ '
though it is actually obtained merely by tapping

* Species of the genus Dipterocarpus, as D. turbinatus,
D. costatus, D. incanus, D. alatus, belonging to a family rich
in valuable trees, as that yielding the Camphor and Camphor
Oil of Sumatra ; the Piney tree, which yields a liquid varnish,
Indian Copal,and a Vegetable Tallow ; the Saul tree, yielding
a valuable timber, and Dammer, an excellent resin.


Wood Oil. the tree. The selling price is hence increased be-
fore it is even known, and it may thus perhaps be
prevented from becoming an article of commerce.

Culture of Cotton in India.

Cotton ; Among the various products of the soil, there

are few, if any, which are at the present day of
greater importance than the wool-like covering
of the seeds of a tropical genus of plants, which
is so well known under the name of Cotton. This
is one of those products of the Vegetable King-
dom, which is common to both the New and the

known to Old World. It is mentioned by the Greeks, as

native of India. Hcrodotus statcs, that the Indians possess a
plant which produces wool of a finer and better
quality than that of sheep, of which the natives
make their clothes, and Nearchus describes it as
flax made from trees. That it was also indigenous

Indigenous in America, we know from its having been found

also in Ame- . . r» • •

rica. in some of the ancient Feruvian tombs, toge-

ther with specimens of Cotton cloths ; some of
the woven patterns of which, it is curious to
observe, very closely resemble some modern pat-

From India tcms. From India, Cotton seems to have been

introduced into . ii* -i-i-i

Persia and first mtroduced luto and cultivated m the islands

*^^ * of the Persian Gulf, and subsequently into Egypt,

where, though known as an article of commerce,

it does not seem to have been cultivated until

later times, nor could it have been very, common


as an article of clothing, for the Mummy Cloths Linen,
are found to consist of linen.

Though the Flax plant and Linseed are well
known, and extensively cultivated in India, it is
remarkable, considering the early and constant not known to


communication between the two countries, that
the Hindoos should not have learnt from the
Egyptians the art of separating the Flax, and of
weaving linen out of a plant, which they exten-
sively cultivate on account of its seeds. This is
most easily accounted for, by their possessing a
substance like the Cotton, which is obvious to AdvMitages of

Cotton cloth-

the senses, and easily spun into thread, and ing in hot cli-
which, when made into cloth, is so well suited

to the climate. Its inferior conducting powers
making, it like flannel, more efficacious than linen
in preventing chills, in a climate where perspira-
tion is so copious and evaporation very rapid,
which is necessarily accompanied with a certain
degree of cooling.

Seeing that Cotton is one of the indigenous
products of India, and one which has been so long
cultivated in the country for the uses of its in-
habitants, it strikes one as extraordinary to hear

India frequently adduced as a country incapable India errone-
ously supposed
of producing the finer kinds of Cotton. In the unfavourable

... .to growth of

history of the nation, it is only in comparatively Cotton,
recent times that it has been of such great impor-
tance to provide what is so much valued by
the English manufacturer, that is, Cotton of a
good length and quality of staple, as well as of



Indian Cotton
carelessly col-
lected ;

but cleaned
before weaving.

India not yet
recovered from
the revulsion
in the com-
merce of Cot-

Cotton ; im-
provement of
dependent on
careful culture,
and clean pick-

a certain degree of cleanness. From the earliest
times, the Hindoo, with his patient habits and
prodigal labour, because this was so cheap, though
he collected his Cotton carelessly, yet cleaned it
with care before weaving it into the matchless
fabrics, emphatically denominated " woven air,"
for which India is still unrivalled. Cotton Piece
Goods long formed an extensive commerce from
India to England, but the improvement in English
machinery has caused a revulsion in commerce,
from which, as it is not easy to change the
habits of a nation, the weavers of India con-
tinue to suffer. Their country is inundated with
the proceeds of the incessant working of English
machinery; and the English manufacturer re-
quires to be constantly supplied with the raw
material of a certain quality, instead of the Eng-
lish merchant importing, as heretofore, the manu-
factured products of Indian looms.

To improve the length or the quality of the
staple of Cotton, and to collect it in as clean a
state as possible, are two very different, though
nearly equally important processes — one entirely
mechanical in nature, the other depending on
the application of the principles of Science to the
culture of the plant. These, we shall endeavour
to show, depend not only upon a proper selec-
tion of kinds of Cotton, — that is, of species suited
to particular situations, — in reference to pecu-
liarities of soil and of climate, embracing in
the latter term not only temperature, but also


dryness and moisture, and everytbinff which is Culture of

•■111, 1 . ^ Cotton.

now included under the comprehensive term of
Climate. Few of those who have written on the
subject seem to have been aware of the paramount
necessity of attending to the influence of the diffe-
rent Physical agents on the growth and secre-
tions, and therefore on the Products of Plants,
though the importance of so doing may any day
be proved, even in the growing of a Cabbage, or
the blanching of a Lettuce, or of Celery.

TheCourt of Directors called the attention of the culture of Cot-

^~u • T T 11 « ton encouraged

Government in India, as early as the year 1788, to by e.i. Com.
the cultivation of Cotton in India, " with a view^ ^*"^'
to affording every encouragement to its growth
and improvement in general, but particularly to
the species manufactured into the finer sorts of
thread in use for the superior goods of the Dacca
fabric." Reports were called for, from the Col- Reports re.
lectors of districts. Mr. Bebb's and Mr. Dun- ^^^^^ ' "
can's are among the most valuable of those re-
ceived. In the year 1794, a machine was sent out Machine sent

•^ out;

for cleaning Cotton from seeds or other im-
purities. A few years afterwards a bounty was Bounty offered
offered for its cultivation on the coast ; a planta-
tion was then established at Rhaudaterra on the Cotton Farm ;
Bombay side, under the superintendence of a Mr.
Brown. Instructions for the proper cultivation instructions

... sent out, &c.

of Cotton were also sent out : and it was inti-
mated that seeds of the West-India and Ameri- s^^'^^-
can Cottons would be procured, and sent out to




Means adopted
by EI. Com-
pany for en-
couraging the
culture of Cot-
ton in India.

Cotton sent
from India;

a small portion
only sold ;

its dirty state
particularly re-

Bourbon seed.

In consequence of the position of public rela-
tions with the United States of America, the Court
of Directors, at the commencement of 1809, sent
out instructions to India. The result of which
was, that about thirty millions of pounds weight
of Cotton- wool were sent by the month of Au-
gust in 1810 ; of this quantity, somewhat less than
five millions only were sold, the intercourse with
America having then been renewed. In the year
1810, one point especially noticed, is " the foul-
ness, dirt, and seeds which are suffered to remain
mixed with the Cotton, and for the continuance
of which no excuse would hereafter be admitted."
It was further stated " it is our positive order that
the commission be not paid to any commercial
resident, whose provision of cotton shall be faulty
in this particular." But even this failed to im-
prove the culture of Cotton.

In the vear 1811, the Court of Directors ex-
pressed their intention of consigning to the diffe-
rent Presidencies, a sufficient quantity of the seed
of the Cotton produced in the Isle of Bourbon,
with a statement of its mode of cultivation, and
the nature of the soil best suited to it. This was
done to enable the Governments in India to make
a decided experiment, and ascertain whether a
considerable quantity of Cotton-wool of good sta-
ple, which might in all respects be equal to Ame-
rican Cotton, could not be successfully grown in
India. The Court, however, were not unmindful
that the experiments previously made with Bour-


bon Cotton in India had not been very successful. Cotton— cul-
ture of;
We have seen (p. 66) that seed had been introduced

from the Mauritius into the Peninsula of India
by Dr. Anderson, but it did not succeed, evi-
dently from want of attention to the soil it re-
quires. Dr. Roxburgh early ascertained that " it
succeeds better in the more elevated, dryer, and soil suited to
less fertile soil of Coromandel, than in Bengal, tonT
where the plant grows to a great size, yields less
Cotton, and the cultivation is very generally re-
linquished, though there must be many situations
near the mountains of our northern frontier where
it would thrive." (Flora Indica iii., p. 187.)

Dr. Roxburgh also describes with the above, species of cot-
the green-seeded Cotton as a native of America, American;
and five other species, with their varieties, as
natives of Asia, stating that, "after a search of Asiatic;
thirty years, he had been unable to find more
well-defined species of the genus." Among the
varieties described, is the famous Dacca Cotton, Dacca cotton.
which is figured in his Coromandel Plants. This
Cotton was described by Mr. Bebb, Resident at
Dacca, as the finest in the world, and as produc-
ing cloth of astonishing beauty and fineness ; the
best quality of this was cultivated only in a tract
to the eastward of Dacca. But w hether its supe-
riority was owing to the soil, the quality of the air,
or to any particular art of cultivation, was uncer-
tain, and probably could not be ascertained. Dr.
Roxburgh states, that the most intelligent people
of that country (Dacca) think the great difference

G 2


Dacca Cotton. Hcs in the Spinning, and allow little for the in-
fluence of soil.

In the experiments hitherto made, we do not
Want ofatten. obscrve, howcvcr, that any attention was paid by
pie" in Sure the Expcrimcntors and Cultivators to what is
now thought so essential to success in a new
culture, or in, what is the same thing, the im-
provement of an old culture by the introduction
of new species, and the adoption of the practices
of other places. Such as, ascertaining whether
the soil and the climate of the new situation are
similar to that of the place of which we wish
to adopt both the plant and the practice ; or,
supposing differences of soil or of climate in the
country into which a plant is introduced, whether
such modifications may not be introduced into the
culture, as to be more suitable to the new situa-
tion, and thus enable us to obtain the same pro-
ducts as elsewhere. This we know may be done
by duly apportioning the influence of the several
physical agents, as light, air, heat, and moisture,
on the delicate and easily altered vegetable struc-
ture, according to the richness or poverty of the
soil, the dryness or moisture of the atmosphere.
Though we cannot alter the quantities of the
above agents, we may modify their effects, either by
open or close planting, by a richer or more sterile
soil, pruning or irrigation. We shall afterwards
see that those who succeeded best in their ex-
periments, were those who paid attention to the
influence of physical agents on vegetation.

cultuue of sugar in india. 85

Culture of Sugar in India.
Suffar is one of the ancient productions of Sugar-cane a

o * , native of India.

India, which was early known to the nations of

the West, and to the Greeks, four or five hundred

years before the Christian sera. It was at first

called " honey of canes," and afterwards sakkhar,

which is its Indian, and evidently the origin ot

its European names, as sukkhar kund is of Sugar

Candy, thus indicating very clearly their Eastern Jo^h^J^souUi "f

origin. The Saracens introduced the Susrar-cane Europe,

^ '^ the Canaries,

into Sicilv and the South of Europe, and the Por- the vvest-in-

* _ dies.

tuguese into the Canaries; from thence it was
taken to Hispaniola in the year 1506.*

The remarkable effects produced by the intro-
duction of a vegetable are in no cases more con-
spicuous than in the transportation of the Coffee
and of the Su&ar-cane into the West -Indies, sugar trade of

*^ West-Indies.

There, before the middle of the eighteenth cen-
tury, no less than three hundred sail of ships
went annually from Great Britain, besides those
from other places. The navigation of France also

• " The first Sugar-canes found in the West-Indies were at
Hispaniola in 1506, an inhabitant of La Vega, named Acquil-
lor, having brought them from the Canaries. BachillaVel-
losa and Pedro Atienga were the first who planted them, and
extracted Sugar from them. They yielded so well, that in a
short time there were on the island forty Water and Horse
Mills, The first was made by Christoval and Francisco de
Tapia, at Laguate." — Tablas Chronologicas por Claudio Cle-
mente. Valencia 1689; 4to. p. 168, as quoted by Dalrymple in
the Oriental Repertory, i., p. 2.


Sugar-cane in- ^^s described even in 1701, in a memorial by a

troduced from •'_

India into French Chamber of Commerce, as " owinff all its

America. ^

increase and splendour to the commerce of its
sugar islands;" and this owing to the intro-
duction of a plant which came originally from In-
india sup- Jia. Yct that country has lonff been supposed, and

posed mcapable _ ^ o i l ^

of producing still is SO by many, incapable of manufacturing
the product of the Cane, so as to compete with
those countries to which it has so freely given
this, as well as many other of its natural riches,
— as Rice, Ginger, Indigo, Tamarinds, the Man-
goe, the Orange and Lemon tribe. Coffee, Cloves,
Nutmeg, Cinnamon, and many others, have also
been derived from parts of Asia.

East-India In the year 1792, Sug-ar rose by decrees to

Company call- '' . . .

ed upon to im- an cuormous price, in consequence, it was sup-
port sugar from 1 n 1 1 • • 1 •
East-Indies, poscd, 01 the annual importation being very

unequal to the increased consumption of Great
Britain, combined with the demand for exporta-

Online LibraryJ. Forbes (John Forbes) RoyleEssay on the productive resources of India [electronic resource] → online text (page 6 of 32)