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JOURNAL

OF THE

ASIATIC SOCIETY

Extract of a Letter from Dr. Jameson to Mr. Clerk.

In Camp, Kalabagh on the Indus, November 15th 1811.

Since the 13th ultimo I have been engaged in examining the country between this and Mare. It is not my intention at present to give you any detailed account of the district that I have surveyed, as I am still among the same series of rocks; viz. Saliferous system; which extends uninterruptedly from this to Jubalpore.

The coal met with at Kalabagh occurs in thin seams, in a white sandstone that alternates with the red marls in which the rock salt and gypsum are imbedded. The largest seam is in breadth about seventeen inches, consisting partly of coal, sandstone, and mineral sulphur. Already about two thousand maunds have been collected, and brought to the town, which is on the banks of the Indus, from the different localities; but the people have such ideas of its value, it being used by them for medicinal purposes only, as to demand a most exorbitant price for it, iv.. four rupees per pucka maund!

A boat belonging to the Hon'ble Company has been here for five months waiting the delivery of the coal, but the orders issued by the Malik, (Governor,) of the district are, that until it is paid for, none is to <* delivered. As the seams from whence the small quantity of coal procured are, owing to their thinness, of no value, and not worth working I shall spend some time here in order to make a minute survey; I shall then proceed up the river as far as Sharki in the boat, there being no route along either bank, in order to examine the geolo

No. 121. New Series, No. 37. B

gical structure of the country, and at the same time to ascertain if any coal worth working is to be met with.

To the question,—Is any good coal likely to be found in quantity in this district? we would at once antwer decidedly in the negative.

In Europe, America, New Holland, &c. the bituminous coal alone is met with in the carboniferous series of rocks. The oldest rock met with between Jabalpore and Kalabagh is magnesion limestone; resting on it we have red sandstone of Europe; on it red marl, in which occur imbedded the rock salt and gypsum, or sulphate of lime, which yields the celebrated plaster of Paris; and alternating with the red marl at Kalabagh there is a white sandstone in which coal and sulphur occur, and alum slate from which alum is manufactured in large quantities ; there being in the town fourteen manufactories. In a limestone filled with organic remains, probably the equivalent of the Muschelkalk of Germany, iron ores (red and brown hematite) occur, forming enormous beds. On the banks of the river the sand is extensively washed for gold. And lastly, rock salt and gypsum occur, forming mountains from five to six hundred feet in height.

Such is a rapid account of the riches of this district; and there are few, if any districts in the world where iron, gold, sulphur, salt, gypsum, limestone, saltpetre, and coal are met with in such quantity; and all that is wanted to raise this to one of the most important cities in India, is coal in quantity, enterprise, and a hand to guide.

From the enumeration of the rocks above you will perceive that all are newer than the carboniferous series, the position of the magnesian limestone being immediately above that series in Europe. Sometimes a conglomerate is met with between the sandstone of the coal formation, but that is rare; hence it is known by the local name of the Exeter red conglomerate, Exeter being the locality where it is well developed. From this fact we conclude, that no coal worth working will be found in this district. Other seams may be found, and which may yield a few thousand maunds, but no supply to any extent will ever be procured. The coal now met with is partly brown coal (lignite) and partly jet, and not true bituminous coal; it however is, from the experiments on a small scale here made, well adapted for steam vessels, &c. burning as it does with good flame, emitting much gas, and at the same time having but a small quantity of earthy matter.

Below the carboniferous series there is another kind of coal met with in the primitive and transition series, viz. glance coal, or anthracite, a non-bituminous coal, which is now extensively used, particularly in America, in steam vessels, but as these rocks are still older than the carboniferous series, none are met with here in situ.

We have made these observations in order that you may decide what is to be done with the small quantity which has been collected. For my own part, I think that the boat might as well have remained where it was, or rather that the individual or individuals who preceded me, ought to have given it as his or their opinion, that the supply would never be commensurate with the demand, even for a single vessel for a few months; and that at the same time the collecting of coal from such small seams would incur great expense to Government. But no doubt the alum slate, which is of a deep black colour, and which occurs in many places along with the coal, was confounded with it, and led to the supposition that coal was to be met with in quantity.

If you think it necessary to send to Bombay any of the coal collected, I may mention that individuals who remove the alum slate from mines here to the place where the coal seams occur, receive one rupee for every sixteen pucka maunds they bring to the manufactory in the town, and it is so near to the river, that no less than half of it was washed away by the late flood.

As I find that it is necessary to go to Peshawur by Cohat, unless I proceed by the right bank of the river, I shall be in this district some ten or twelve days, as it is both an important and interesting geological one. By the district, I mean some 20 coss round. To-morrow I shall be in the immediate neighbourhood. On the 17th, I shall ascend the river in the boat, leaving every thing here, with the exception of a small tent, and shall be absent some six or seven days, depending much, however, on the geological structure of the country. I shall also have ample opportunity of witnessing the devastations of the late flood, the accounts of which given here are awful. I have made a magnificent collection of minerals at the different mines, and intend to send two camel loads for the boat to Bahawulpore, with directions to forward them to Ferozepore. I trust my collection of minerals, birds, &c. will surpass any that have been sent to Calcutta for some time. In addition to the two camel loads of minerals, I have other two camels and three mules loaded with specimens, so that it is necessity which forces me to adopt the above plan, and here there are thousands of specimens which any collection in Europe would be proud to have. To shew the nature of the coal, I have enclosed specimens, which probably you will think worthy of being sent to the Goal Committee, Calcutta, in order that they may see that it is not true bituminous coal. The rocks illustrative of the district I shall afterwards furnish. I have made a small collection of coins; I send some that appear most interesting; probably you will transmit them to Secretary Torrens, for examination; their history, where found, &c. I shall afterwards send.

On the Literature and Origin of certain Hill Tribes in Sikkim. By A. Campbell, Esq. Superintendent of Darjeeling. *

I lam Sing, Dewan of the Sikkim Raja, who is a Limboo, informs me, that the original country of his tribe is the province of Chung in Thibet, a short distance to the south of Lassa, and that the word "Chong," used by the Lepchas to designate this tribe, is a corruption of the provincial name. He also informs me that in his youth, fifty years ago, he used to see Limboos reading pothis in a character, which he believes was peculiar to his tribe, and that he was told by some of the patriarchs, that this character was one which had been compounded from many others, by a sage of the tribe, who had lived at a very remote unknown period. There are now no traces of the existence of a written character peculiar to the Limboos on this side of the snows, and as there is scarcely any intercourse between the southern members of the tribe and their northern progeners, and as those who essay writing in Nipal and Sikkim choose the Nagri character, it is probable that the language of the Limboos will not again be known as a written one on the southern side of the Himalaya.

Regarding the "Murmis," the same intelligent old gentleman tells me, that their Thibetan origin is well established, and known to all wellinformed persons, who take an interest in tracing the peculiarities and affinities of the Cis and Trans-Himalayan tribes. Although I have mixed with many Murmis, I have not met with any who could give me particulars of their Thibetan origin, all being satisfied with the knowledge of their tribe having at some remote period migrated across the snows from Bhote, and with asserting that they had preserved their language (Thibetan) and religion (Bhuddism) unchanged since their arrival. The Murmis are by the Lepchas and the Bhootiahs of Nipal and Sikkim, called " Nishung," which my informant says, arises from their being composed of two families, or divisions; one having migrated from the province of "Nimo" in Thibet, and the other from the district of "Shung" in the same country. Hence the general appellation "Nishung." The Dewan says, that the " Murmis" are a numerous tribe in their original country, through which he has passed en route from Sikkim to Lassa, by a road running parallel with the one from Digarchi to that city, but considerably to the eastward of it. He believes that the Murmis on this side of the snow are less changed in habits than any of the other Thibetan ones with which we are acquainted. Of the " Magars" he says, "They are unquestionably a people of this side of the snows, and the original country is Sikkim, from which they were first driven west by the Lepchas across the Mechi and Konki rivers, and thence further west by the Limboos beyond the Aran and Doodkooshi. While in Sikkim they were not Hindoos; they ate fowls, pigs, and everything except the cow, from which 1 believe they abstained. They had no priests, or puja of any kind. Now, however, they have the Brahmins, and are, I believe, reckoned very good Hindoos in Nipal."

As to the "Gurungs," said the Dewan in reply to my questions anent mem, "we people of Thibetan origin have nothing to do with them, they belong especially to the central and western parts of the Nipal mountains, and have always, I believe, been less or more followers of Hindooism." The locale of the Gurungs is correctly enough stated ■here; whether their Thibetan origin can be disproved I know not, but Mr. Hodgson probably can settle the question.

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