Page images
PDF
EPUB

1016 Thibet, on the other hand, strikes a traveller, at first sight,

as one of the least favoured countries under heaven, and appears to be in a great measure incapable of culture. It exhibits only low rocky hills, without any visible vegetation, or extensive arid plains, both of the most stern and stubborn aspect, prenising full as little as they produce.

1017. The agriculture of Thibet has many obstacles to contend with. Its common products are wheat, peas, and barley, Rice grows only in the southern parts. Turnips, pumpkins, and cucumbers are abundant. The greater part of the plants which travellers have noticed are such as are met with also in Europe and in Bengal. At the foot of the mountains are forests of bamboos, bananas, aspens, birches, cypresses, and yew trees. The ash (Orus floribunda) is remarkably large and beautiful, but the firs small and stunted. On the snow-clad mountains grows the Rhèum undulàtum, which the natives use for medicinal purposes. The country contains, both in a wild and cultivated state, peaches and apricots, apples, pears, oranges, and pomegranates. The Cacàlia saracénica serves for the manufacture of chong, a spirituous and slightly acid liquor.

1018. Thaibet abounds in animals, partly in herds and flocks; but chiefly in a wild state. The tame horses are small, but full of spirit and restive. The cattle are only of middling height. There are numerous flocks of sheep, generally of small breed; their head and legs are black, their wool fine and soft, and their mutton excellent; it is eaten in a raw state, after having been dried in the cold air, and seasoned with garlic and spices. The goats are numerous, and celebrated for their fine hair, which is used in the manufacture of shawls; this grows under the coarser hair. The yak, or grunting ox, furnished with long and thick hair, and a tail singular for its silky lustre and undulating form, furnishes an article of luxury common in all the countries of the East. The musk a, the ounce, a species of tiger, the wild horse, and the lion, are among the animals of the country. 1019. That elegant specimens of civil archi

134 tecture, both in the construction of mansions (fig. 134.), or palaces, and in bridges and other publie works, should be found in such a country is rather singular. In Turner's journey through this mountainous region, he found bridges of various descriptions gene rally of timber. Over broad streams, a triple of quadruple depth of stretching timbers project one over the other, their ends inserted into the rock. Piers are almost totally excluded, on account of the extreme rapidity of the rivers. The widest river has an iron bridge, consisting of a number of iron chains which support a matted platform, and two chains are stretched above parallel with the sides, to allow of a matted border for the safety of the passenger, Horses are permitted to go over this bridge, one at a time. There is another bridge of a more simple construction, formed of two parallel chains, round which creepers are loosely twisted, sinking very much in the middle, where suitable plants are placed for a path. Another mode of passing rivers is by two ropes of rattan o stout osier, stretched from one mountain to another, and encircled by a hoop of the same. The passenger places himself between them, sitting in the hoop, and seizing a rope in each hand, slides himself along with facility and speed over an abyss tremendous to behold. Chain and wire bridges, constructed like those of Thibet, are now becoming common in Britain; and it is singular, that one is described in Hutchinson's Durham (Newcast. 1785) as having been erected over the Tees.

[graphic]

SUBSECT. 10. Of the present State of Agriculture in the Asiatic Islands. 102. Tee islands of Asia form a considerable part of our globe ; and seem well adapted by nature for the support of civilised man, though at present they are mostly peopled by savages. We shall notice these islands in the order of Sumatra, Borneo, the Varillas, tbe Celebes, the Loochoo Isles, and the Moluccas,

1021. Sumatra is an island of great extent, with a climate more temperate than that of Bengal, a surface of mountains and plains, one third of which is covered with impervious forests, and a soil consisting of a stratum of red clay, covered with a layer of black mould. The post important agricultural product is rice, which is grown both for home consumption and export. Next may be mentioned the cocoa-nut, the areca palm, or betel-nut tree, and the pepper.

Cotton and coffee are also cultivated; and the native trees afford the resin benzoin, cassia or wild cinnamon, rattans or small canes (Arundo Ròtang), canes for walkingsticks, turpentine, and gums; besides ebony, pine, sandal, teak, manchineel, iron wood, banyan, aloe, and other woods.

1022. The pepper plant (Piper nigrum, fig. 135. a) is a slender climbing shrub, which also

135

roots at the joints. It is extensively cultivated at Sumatra, and the berries exported to every part of the world. According to Marsden (Hist. of Sumalra), the ground chosen by the Sumatrans for a pepper-garden is marked out into regular squares of six feet, the intended distance of the plants, of which there are usually a thousand in each garden. The next business is to plant the chinkareens, which serve as props to the pepper-vines, and are cuttings of a tree of that name, which is of quick growth. When the chinkareen has been some months planted, the most promising perpendicular shoot is reserved for growth, and the others lopped off: this shoot, after it has acquired two fathoms in

height, is deemed sufficiently high, and its top is cut off. Two pepper-vines are usually planted to one chinkareen, round which the vines twist for support; and after being suffered to grow three years (by which time they acquire eight or twelve feet in height), they are cut off about three feet from the ground, and being loosened from the prop, are bent into the earth in such a manner that the upper end is returned to the root. This operation gives fresh vigour to the plants, and they bear fruit plentifully the ensuing season. The fruit, which is produced in long spikes, is four or five months in coming to maturity: the berries are at first green, turn to a bright red when ripe and in perfection, and soon fall off if not gathered in proper time. As the whole cluster does not ripen at the same time, part of the berries would be lost in waiting for the latter ones; the Sumatrans, therefore, pluck the bunches as soon as any of the berries ripen, and spread them to dry upon mats, or upon the ground; by drying they become black, and more or less shrivelled, according to their degree of maturity. These are imported here under the name of black pepper.

1023. White pepper consists of the ripe and perfect berries of the same species stripped of their outer coats. For this purpose the berries are steeped for about a fortnight in water, till, by swelling, their outer coverings burst ; after which they are easily separated, and the pepper is carefully dried by exposure to the sun or the berries are freed from their outer coats by means of a preparation of lime and mustard-oil, called “chinam," applied before it is dried. Pepper, which has fallen to the ground over-ripe, loses its outer coat, and is sold as an inferior sort of white pepper.

1024. The betel leaf (Piper Bètle, fiy. 135. 6) is also cultivated to a considerable extent. It is a slender-stemmed climbing or trailing plant, like the black pepper, with smooth pointed leaves. These leaves serve to enclose a few slices of the nut of the areca palm erroneously called the betel nut. The areca being wrapped up in the leaf, the whole is covered with a little chunam or shell-lime to retain the flavour. The preparation has the name of betel, and is chewed by the better sort of southern Asiatics to sweeten the breath and strengthen the stomach ; and by the lower classes for the same reasons as ours do tobacco. The consumption is very extensive.

1025. The areca palm (Arèca Cátechu) grows to the height of forty or fifty feet with a straight trunk, and is cultivated in the argin of fields for its nut or fruit, which is sold to be prepared as betel.

1026. Three sorts of colton are cultivated, including the silk cotton (Bómbax Ceiba), a handsome tree, which has been compared by some to a dumb waiter, from the regularity of its branches.

1027. The live stock of Sumatra consists of horses, cows, buffaloes, sheep, and swine. They are all diminutive. The horse is chiefly used for the saddle, and the buffalo for labour. The wild animals are numerous, and include the civet cat, monkey, argus pheasant, the jungle or wild fowl, and the small breed of poultry found also at Bantam on the west of Java, and well known in Britain by that name.

1028. Borneo is the largest island in the world next to New Holland. It is low and marshy towards the shore, and in this respect and in its climate, is similar to Java. The soil is naturally fertile ; but agriculture is neglected, the inhabitants occupying themselves in searching for gold, which they exchange with the Japanese for the neces saries of life.

1029. The ava, or intoxicating pepper (Piper methýsticum), is cultivated here. It is a shrub with a forked stem and oblong leaves, bearing a spike of berries, and having thick roots. The root of this plant, bruised or chewed in the mouth, and mixed with the saliva, yields that nauseous, hot, intoxicating juice, which is so acceptable to the natives of the South Sea islands, and which is spoken of with so much just detestation by voyagers. A similar drink is made in Peru froin the meal of the maize. They pour the liquor of the cocoa-nut, or a little water, on the bruised or masticated matter, and then a small quantity proluces intoxication and sleep. After the use of it for some time, it produces inflamination, leprous ulcers, and consumption. It is cultivated in all the South Sea islands, esæpt the New Hebrides and New Caledonia. (Spix's Travels.)

[graphic]

1030. The Manillas, or Phillipine Islands, are a numerous group, generally fruitful in rice, cotton, the sugar cane, and cocoa. The bread-fruit also begins to be cultivated here.

iosi. The Celebesian Islands are little known. They are said to abound in poisonous plants; and the inhabitants cultivate great quantities of rice.

1032. Tke agriculture of the Loochoo Isles, as far as it is known, resembles that of China. The climate and soil of the principal island seem to be among the most favourable for man on the face of the globe. The sea breezes, which, from its situation in the midst of an immense ocean, blow continually over it, preserve it from the extremes of heat and cold; while its configuration, rising in the centre into considerable eminences, supplies it with rivers and streamlets of excellent water. The verdant lawns and romantic scenery of Tinian and Juan Fernandez are displayed here in higher perfection ; cultivabon being added to the beauties of nature. The fruits and vegetable productions are excellent, and those of distant regions are found flourishing together. The orange and the time, the banyan of India and the Norwegian fir, all thrive in Loochoo. The chief object of cultivation is rice, the fields of which are kept extremely neat, and the furrows regularly arranged by a plough of a simple construction : irrigation is practised. They bare also a very nourishing variety of sweet potato. The animal creation is generally of dirninutive size, their bullocks seldom weighing more than 350 lbs., though plump and well conditioned, and the beef excellent ; their goats and hogs are also diminutive, but the poultry large and excellent. The bull is chiefly used in agriculture. These islands are not infested by any wild animals. The inhabitants seem to be gifted with a natural politeness, good-breeding, and kindness, analogous to their climate and the productions of their country. (Hall in Edin. Gaz., vol. iv.)

1033. The Moluccas, or Spice Islands, are small, but fertile in agricultural products. In some the bread-fruit is cultivated, also the sago palm, with cloves and nutmegs. The nutneg-tree (Myristica moschàta) grows to the size of a pear tree, with laurel-like leare; it bears fruit from the age of ten to one hundred years. The fruit is about the size of an apricot, and when ripe nearly of a similar colour. It opens and discovers the mace of a deep red, growing over, and in part covering, the thin shell of the nutmeg, wbieb is black. The tree yields three crops annually; the first in April, which is the best; the second, in August; and the third, in December; yet the fruit requires nine months to ripen it. When it is gathered, the outer coriaceous covering is first stripped of, and then the inner carefully separated and dried in the sun. The nutmegs in the sheil are exposed to heat and smoke for three months, then broken, and the kernels thrown into a strong mixture of lime and water, which is supposed to be necessary for their preservation, after which they are cleaned and packed up; and with the same intention the mace is sprinkled with salt water.

Sect. II. Of the present State of Agriculture in the Australian Isles. 1034. The Islands of Australia form a most extensive part of the territorial surface of our globe, and the more interesting to Britons as they are likely one day to be overspread by their descendants and language. The important colonies of New Holland and Van Diemen's Land are increasing in a ratio which, if it continue, will at no very distant period spread civilisation over the whole of the islands composing this large diFision of the earth. The immense population, territorial riches and beauty, commerce, naval power, intellect and refinement, which may then exist in these scarcely known regions are too vast and various for the grasp of the imagination. Their rapid progress to this state, however, is unquestionable ; being founded on those grand requisites, temperate climate, culturable soil, ample water intercommunication, and, to take advantage of all these, an advanced state of civilisation in the settlers.

1035. The principal Australian Isles are New Holland, Van Diemen's Land, New Guinea, New Britain, and New Zealand.

1036. New Holland and Van Diemen's Land are not rich in mines, sugar canes, cochineal, or cottons ; but they are blessed with a climate which, though different in different places, is yet, on the whole, favourable to the health, comfort, and industry of Europeans; they exhibit an almost endless extent of surface, various as to aspect and capability, but, taken together, suited in an extraordinary degree to the numerous purposes of rural economy, the plough and spade, the dairy and sheep-walk. The emigrant has not to wage hopeless and ruinous war with interminable forests and impregnable jungle, as he finds extensive plains prepared by the hand of nature, ready for the ploughshare, and capable of repaying manifold in the first season. He is not poisoned by pestiferous swamps, nor frightened from his purpose by beasts of prey and Loathsone reptiles; he is not chilled by hyperborean cold, nor scorched and enfeebled by tropical heat; and he is not separated from his kind, nor hardened in his heart, by the debasing influence of open or concealed slavery. It is true, that he is surrounded by those who have the brand of crime and punishment upon them, and who are, therefore, to a certain extent infamous; but he has the satisfaction of knowing that it is his duty and interest to improve, not contribute to the farther degradation of, these fallen beings. (Willowson's Present State of Van Diemen's Land. 1829.)

1037. New Holland, Notasia, or what may be called the continent of Australia, is of a size nearly equal to the whole of Europe. So extended a surface naturally presents different characters of climate, elevation, and soil. But the climate is said to be every where temperate and salubrious; to the north it may be considered semitropical, to the south not materially different from that of England. The whole country being south of the equator, the seasons are like those of the southern parts of Africa and America, and consequently the reverse of those of Europe. The surface of the country is in general low and level ; far northward it is hilly, and a chain of mountains is said to run north and south, very lofty and irregular. Hills and mountains, however, form but a small part of this extensive country. Lakes and rivers are not very frequent; but in the interior there are extensive marshes and savannas, covered with luxuriant grasses. In some places the country is highly beautiful. Mr. Evans, who made a journey of 300 miles into the interior, in 1818, states that “the farther he advanced the more beautiful the scenery became ; both hill and dale were clothed with fine grass, the whole appearing at a little distance as if laid out into fields divided by hedge-rows. Through every valley meandered trickling streams of fine water. Many of the hills are capped with forest trees, chiefly of the eucalyptus ; and clumps of these, mixed with mimosas and the cassuarina, were interspersed along the declivities of the hills, and in the valleys, so as to wear the appearance of a succession of gentlemen's parks.”

1038. The mineral productions include coal, limestone, slate, granite, quartz, sandstone, freestone, and iron, the last in great abundance. The coal is of the best quality, often found in hills, and worked from the side like a stone quarry without expensive drainage.

1039. The soil towards the south is frequently sandy, and many of the lawns or savannas are rocky and barren. In general the soil towards the sea coast is naturally more fertile than in the interior ; but almost every where it may be brought into cultivation with little labour and abundant success. The colony of New South Wales possesses every variety of soil, from the sandy heath and the cold hungry clay, to the fertile loam, and the deep vegetable mould. The prevailing soil hitherto subjected to agriculture is a thin black earth resting on a stratum of yellow clay, which is again supported by a deep bed of schistus.

1040. The productions of nature in New Holland present a remarkable sameness among themselves, and a no less remarkable difference from those of the rest of the world. This applies more particularly to the animal and vegetable kingdoms. The rocks, mountains, and earths, resemble nearly the inorganic substances which are met with in other parts of the world; but the animals and plants are decidedly peculiar. The natives are copper-coloured savages of the very lowest description. The quadrupeds are all of the kangaroo or opossum tribe, or resemble these, with one or two exceptions, among which is the Ornithorhynchus paradoxus, a quadruped with the beak of a bird. The fish are for the most part like sharks. Among the birds are black swans and white eagles, and the emu, supposed to be the tallest and loftiest bird that exists; many of them standing full seven feet high. Every one acquainted in the slightest degree with the plants in our green-houses is aware of the very peculiar appearance of those of Australia, and there is scarcely a gardener who cannot tell their native country at first sight. Mr. Brown, who is better acquainted with these plants than any other botanist, observes that the Acàcia and Eucalyptus, of each of which genera there are upwards of one hundred species, when taken together, and considered with respect to the mass of vegetable matter which they contain, calculated from the size as well as from the number of individuals, are, perhaps, nearly equal to all the other plants of that country. (App. to Flinders's Voyage.)

1041. There is no indigenous agriculture in any part of New Holland; but the colony of New South Wales, which was established in 1788, has appropriated extensive tracts of country in that quarter of the island, and subjected them to the field and garden cul. tivation of Europe. Every thing that can be cultivated in the open air in England can be cultivated in New South Wales; the fruits of Italy and Spain come to greater perfection there than here, with the single exception of the orange, which requires a slight protection in winter. Pine-apples will grow under glass without artificial heat; the apple and the gooseberry are the only fruits which are found somewhat inferior to those produced in Britain. But the great advantage of this colony to the agriculturist is, that it is particularly suited to maize and sheep: maize, it is well known, produces a greater return in proportion to the seed and labour than any other bread-corn ; and the wool of the sheep of New South Wales is equal to the best of that produced in Saxony, and can be sent to the British market for about the same expense of transport. This wool forms the grand article of agricultural export from New Holland. According to a calculation made by Mr. Kingdom in 1820 (British Colonies, p. 282.), “making the most liberal allowance for all kind of expenses, casualties, and deteriorations, money sunk in the rearing of sheep in this colony will, in the course of three years, double itself besides paying an interest of 75 per cent."

1042 As a country for an agriculturist ta emigrate to, New South Wales is perhaps me of the best in the world, and its advantages are yearly increasing by the great number of independent settlers who arrive there from Britain. Settlers, on arrival at New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, have a grant of land allotted to them proportionate to their powers of making proper use of it, with a certain number of convicts a labourers, who with their families are victualed from the public stores for six months. (Kingdom, p. 311.) The country seems fully adequate to support itself with every Decessary, and almost every luxury, requisite to the present state of human refinement; in this respect it has the advantage over France, in being able to bring to perfection the cotton plant. “ As a criterion of the luxuries enjoyed by the inhabitants in fruit, one garden, belonging to a gentleman a few miles from Sydney, contains the following extensive variety : – viz. oranges, citrons, lemons, pomegranates, loquatts, guavas, the olive, grapes of every variety, pine-apples, peaches, nectarines, apricots, apples, pears, plums, figs; English, Cape, and China mulberries; walnuts, Spanish chestnuts, almonds, medlars, raspberries, strawberries, melons, quinces and the caper, with others of minor Falue; and such is the abundance of peaches, that the swine of the settlers are fed with thern." (Kingdom, p. 308.) In the Gardener's Magazine, vol. v. p. 280., Mr. Fraser, the Colonial botanist, has given a catalogue of upwards of 100 species and varieties of fruit under his care in the open garden at Sydney, including the pine-apple, the date, the plantain, the cocoa, and the mango.

1043. An Australian Agricultural Society was established, in the year 1823, for “ the promotion both of field and garden cultivation ;” and, besides newspapers, there is a quarterly publication entitled the Australasian Magazine of Agricultural and Commercial lajor antion. In June 1824, an Act of Parliament was passed creating an “ Australian Agricultural Company, for the Cultivation and Improvement of waste Land, in the Colony of New South Wales." This company have an establishment in London, for the purpose of raising a capital of one million of pounds sterling, in shares of 1001. each.

1044. Van Diemen's Island is about as large as Ireland, and it enjoys a temperate climate resembling that of England, but less subject to violent changes. According to Erans, the deputy surveyor of the colony, the climate is more congenial to the European constitution than any other on the globe. That of New Holland has been commended for its salubrity, but the north-west winds which prevail there are unknown at Van Diemen's Land. Neither the summers nor winters are subject to any great extremes of heat or cold; for though the summits of the mountains are covered during the greater part of the year with snow, yet in the valleys it never remains on the ground more than a few hours. The mean difference of temperature between Van Diemen's Land and New South Wales is ten degrees, the mean temperature of the whole island may be reckoned at about 60°, and the extremes at from 36° to 80°. The spring commences early in September; the summer in December; the autumn in April ; and the winter, the severity of which continues about seven weeks, in June.

1045. The surface of the country is richly variegated, diversified by ranges of moderate bills and broad valleys, and towards the western part of the island there is a range of mountains, in height 3500 feet; on their summit is a large lake, the source of several rivers. But though there are hills in various other parts of the island, there are not above three or four of them that can be considered mountains. The hills, the ridges or sky outline of which form irregular curves, are for the greater part wooded ; and from their suunnits are to be seen levels of good pasture land, thinly interspersed with trees, below which is a luxuriant grassy surface. These beautiful plains are generally of the extent of 8000 & 10,000 acres, and, Evans observes, are common throughout the whole island.

1046. The sel, as in New Holland, is greatly diversified ; but in proportion to the surface of the two countries, this one contains comparatively much less of an indifferent quality. Many fine tracts of land are found upon the very borders of the sea ; and the plains and valleys in the interior are composed of rich loamy clay and vegetable mould.

1047. The animal and vegetable kingdoms are the same as those of New Holland. The native dog, the agriculturist's great enemy in that country, is unknown here ; but there is an animal of the panther family in its stead, which commits as great havoc among the flocks, as the wolf did formerly in Britain. It is very cowardly, and by no means formidable to man. The native savages are, if possible, more uncivilised than those of New Holland; they subsist entirely by hunting, and though the country has the finest rivers, they have no knowledge whatever of the art of fishing. They bear great animosity

« PreviousContinue »