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% trial, since much important benefit might be derived, from the successful issue even of one attempt.
II. Advantages to our West Indian Possessions. This is a point that cannot be questioned, and in which some progress has been already made, under the auspices of the Board of Agriculture. A collection of very valuable seeds procured from Sumatra, was sent to Jamaica, and to the botanic garden in St. Vincents, for which the Board received the thanks of the House of Assembly of the former Island. The celebrated Teak Tree was at the same time transplanted from the East to the Wev. Indies, where it is found to florish, and where a foundation is laid for an article of cultivation,- 'which, in future ages, may contribute to the triumphs of the British Flag. An important plan is now in contemplation, that of sending from the Guzerat and the Mysore, badgeree, and other grain plants, which are produced in these hot and dry climates, without the aid of irrigation, but which furnish the means of subsistence to the natives of those countries. Their success in our West India colonies cannot be doubted; and by introducing them, those colonies would be rendered as independent of foreign supply, as the East is at present. Some West India productions, it is probable, might likewise be transferred to the East, with considerable advantage.
III. Advantages to Indian Agriculture.
But the great object to be kept in view is, that of contributing, by agricultural efforts, to the prosperity of that immense empire, which, by a series of fortunate events, is now subjected to the dominion of Great Britain.
In regard to the subsistence of the people, the introduction of the potatoe was certainly the most important object that has hitherto been accomplished. The more extended cultivation of that root, which was so strongly recommended by the Board of Agriculture in its correspondence with the Directors, may be the means of preventing many famines that would otherwise take place. But all the advantages of its culture are not yet known in India. The means of preserving it by expressing moisture, in which state it may be kept for years, is not yet practised. It might be of importance also, to teach the natives how to obtain, by a simple process, (merely that of grating,) the starch of the potatoe, which may be preserved for any length of time, and which would furnish a sure resource, if the crops of rice should fail. Indeed, as every joint of the potatoe, if earthed up, produces a new set of roots, it is incredible, what a quantity of food might be thus raised on a small space of ground, where labor is cheap and the soil fertile. By raising seed from the apple of the potatoe also, new varieties,
better suited to the soil and climate of the East, might be procured; whereas if the same seed is always cultivated, it is apt to become diseased.
Another European production, that might be introduced into the East with infinite advantage, is the Mangel-Wursel.1 Its success in St. Helena, as reported by Governor Beatson, has been of the most flattering description ; and there can be no doubt of its thriving equally well in our continental possessions in the East, where it would become a great resource, in unfavorable seasons.
A most material improvement has been already effected in India, through the medium of the Board of Agriculture. Understanding that herbage was much wanted in our Indian possessions, I ventur"ed to recommend the culture of Lucerne and Guinea grass, and sent some seeds of each, that the experiment might be fairly tried. The result has been most satisfactory. In a letter from the East India Company to the Marquis of Wellesley, dated March 12, 1802, there is the following paragraph.
"We have perused the Proceedings of the Board of Superintendence, referred to in your dispatches ; and we are much pleased to observe, by those proceedings, that the Lucerne and Guinea grass thrive in such a manner as to afford a reasonable prospect of their becoming an acquisition to the Bengal provinces, that will prove invaluable."1
It is likewise not improbable, that the introduction of improvements in agriculture, might indirectly be of use even in a moral or religious point of view. This idea is strongly sanctioned by the opinion of the noble lord who now governs our territorial possessions in the East. He recommends our beginning any attempt to introduce Christianity into India, by endeavouring to give the Hindoos some little previous assimilation to our manners and practices, more especially in agriculture, and a knowledge of those instruments which facilitates its labors. Any attempt indeed to change the ideas and usages of so many races of people, which they have held sacred for ages, cannot be too cautiously set about, and is more likely to be successful, by attention to the education of the young, than by endeavouring to convert the old; at any rate, the minds of
1 In a recent publication, (Newby's Remarks on the Mangel-Wursel, the average produce in Cambridgeshire, is stated at 54 tons; but it is said that it may be brought to 70 tons per statute acre; and for feeding stock it is maintained to be superior to any vegetable hitherto known.
* Upon this subject Mr.'Arthur Young observes, in his Lecture on the advantages which have resulted from the establishment of a Board of Agriculture," Should the cultivation of these plants spread in the manner to be expected, they will prove of as great importance to India, as ever clover and turnips have done to Britain, which would have beencheaply purchased, (had purchase been necessary,) at the price of a hundred millions sterling.
the natives would necessarily be better prepared to adopt other suggestions, if they were taught new.aud useful practices in an art, which they could easily comprehend, and the advantages of which could not be disputed. If they were convinced of our superiority in the important department of agriculture, (which they naturally consider as the first of arts,) they would be better disposed to give Europeans credit for other acquirements, of a moral or religious description. Hence, if they saw a scuffler or grubber, that would do the labor of five ploughs, or a threshing mill, that would accomplish the work of twenty oxen,1 it would induce them to receive with deference, other lessons from their European masters.
On this subject, I have received a letter from Mr. Hastings, dated August 24, 1814, an extract of which I subjoin. The reasoning which it contains, is so extremely conclusive, that it must convince the most prejudiced minds.
"The practices of the East are doubtless capable of improvement, and such as this kingdom might impart to them ; but the only way to begin it, seems to me, to be the process of inquiry: that is, to ascertain what their practice is, and in what it is defective, consulting at the same time the differences of soil and climate, the bodily powers of the cultivator, and of the cattle that he works with, and all other peculiarities, even to the local usages of the country in this art, be they good or bad. should be sure we are right ourselves, before we assume the office of reformers. For instance: the oxen of Bengal, in their present state, would not be able to force a Norfolk plough to the depth of an English furrow; and to effect it would put a Bengal ploughman to the utmost stretch of his might.* It is possible too that the soil might not be meliorated by turning it to so great a depth.
"A single plough, of the Norfolk or Berwick construction, with a single implement of every other approved sort, would be sufficient for experiment, under the direction of a constituted board;
* It is the practice in many parts of India, to collect the grain inconsiderable quantities together, until it can be conveniently thrashed and disposed of. Each zemandar might have a moveable thrashing mill, such as are now common in Wiltshire, Norfolk, &c. which might go from one of these depots to the other, and greatly facilitate the separation of the grain from the straw.
1 An intelligent correspondent, (William Fairlie, Esq.) states his apprehensions, that the natives of Bengal could not make use of the ploughs of this country, from the weak state of the cattle used in agriculture, and want of means in other respects; but he is of opinion, that such implements might be introduced into the upper provinces of Hindostan, where the inhabitants and theircattle possess superior strength.
Mr. Arthur Young, in a communication upon this subject, recommends the improving the shape of the ploughs used in India, instead of attempting the introduction of new ones. He found that plan to answer so well in Russia, that he thinks it must be equally successful in Hindostan. Any suggestion from so respectable a quarter merits attention.
into which, if we are not too proud, one or more intelligent Hindoos might be admitted :—but on no account whatever would I propose, much less would I prescribe, an alteration in their practice. Let this be their own spontaneous adoption. I wish to God the rule were followed in all things.
"I do believe, that the superiority of understanding evinced by some of our inventions in husbandry, as in your instance of the thrashing machine, with the great assistance which this art has received from the sciences, and the same superiority so eminently displayed in all the other arts of life, might induce the more intelligent of these people, to draw the same favorable conclusions with respect to our moral and religious doctrines, and with the more probable effect, if left to their own reflections."
Honorary boards therefore, ought to be established at each settlement in the East Indies, and each colony in the West, to carry this plan of mutual aid into effect. They would not occasion any expense, and would, by a correspondence with a central office in London, conduct the whole operation, under the sanction of government, to the general benefit of all our colonial possessions.
On the whole, the advantages which might be derived by an attention to these objects, are certainly incalculable. They would add to the value of the stock of the Company;—they would promote the improvement of the British Islands;—they would augment the prosperity of our West Indian possessions;—and they would increase the happiness, and contribute to secure the permanent dominion of our territorial possessions in the East; and all these advantages might be obtained at an expense comparatively insignificant.
Ham Common, Richmond, Surrey,
To the Planters, Merchants, and others interested in the Improvement and Prosperity of our West Indian Islands, and the Colonies of Demarara, Essequibo, 4c
The return of peace will, I hope, enable this country to prosecute the improvement of its valuable colonies in the West Indies, and the continent of South America, with greater energy than has hitherto bean the case. I have always been of opinion, that the estates of which you are the proprietors, form a valuable part of the territorial possessions of Great Britain, the cultivation of which ought to be encouraged, and rendered as productive as possible to the owners. With that view, as soon as the Board of Agriculture was constituted, inquiries were set on foot to ascertain, what East Indian productions could be raised with advantage in the West Indies. In consequence of the correspondence carried on regarding those subjects, the celebrated teak tree has been transplanted to your Islands, and a variety of articles were sent from the Island of Sumatra to the Botanic garden at St. Vincents, the result of which may prove highly advantageous to the colonies: but, from recent inquiries, I find that there are various other articles which may be transported from the East to the West Indies, of perhaps still greater importance, and which therefore I beg to recommend to your particular attention.
Colonel Walker, of Bowland, near Selkirk, in Scotland, I found, was peculiarly conversant in the agriculture of the East. I requested him, therefore, to transmit to me, the observations he had collected; and I observed in them, an account of two articles, badgeree, and chena, the introduction of which into the West Indies would be of peculiar importance. The following is the substance of the description he gives of them.
Badgeree, he states, is the great article of food with the more numerous inhabitants of Guzerat. It grows in the greatest perfection, in a soil of rich clay, mixed with sand, called Gararoo ground in the East Indies. It is sown in Shrawun seed, which corresponds to July and August, of our reckoning, and which in the Guzerat is the season of the periodical rains. It would probably be proper to choose, in like manner, some time of the spring or summer, in the West Indies, when the greatest quantity of rain is expected. The ground requires to be well prepared, and unless rich, must be manured. It may be either sown alone, or mixed with other plants, which ripen later than the badgeree; but at first, it would be the most prudent course to cultivate it alone. When ripe, its straw becomes yellow, and its ears lose all their milk or juice. It is made into bread, like barley-cakes or bannocks, and is greatly preferred by the natives to them.1
Among the plants sown with badgeree, is the Erundee, (the palma Christi,) from which castor oil is expressed, which is not only used medicinally by the natives, but in the Guzerat, where they have
1 Sir Henry C. Montgomery informs me, that the straw of badgeree is very nutritive, and is the chief forage used in the north-west of India, for all sorts of cattle, being reckoned equal, if not superior to the best hay. Such a plant ought to be tried even in England, were it for the sake of the straw alone.