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FOR MARCH, 1809.
FROM THE LITERARY PANORAMA.
Journey from Madras through the Countries of Mysore, Canara, and Malabar, &c.
By Francis Buchanan, M. D.
[Resumed from p. 90.] WE have already stated with sufficient distinctness, the general contents of Dr. Buchanan's volumes, and have given extracts that manifest the diligence and attention with which he discharged the duties of his appointment. It might be thought, that Dr B. had already described a tribe of men the lowest on the scale of human nature. But the following appears to be still lower than that we transcribed in our former article. We the rather add the following account, because the popular idea of India is, that of a region“ all gold and bounty,” replete with wealth, and luxuries, abundant in all enjoyments, and the very seat of gain, both mercantile and political. India has certainly been highly peopled during many ages. The country is fertile, and in general is capable of cultivation : yet the human race does not more than maintain itself against the wild animals of the forest; and whenever, by adverse incidents, the number of in. habitants is diminished, the beasts resume their dominion, and support their establishments. The maintenance of this balance offers no unworthy, subject of contemplation to an inquisitive mind. How is it, that the lord of the creation tolerates such adversaries as elephants, tigers, and panthers : and why does he not, by extermination, rid himself of these danger. ous and destructive intruders? Perhaps Providence knows a reason for this, that man has not discerned, all-wise as he fancies himself; and is, on this, as on innumerable other occasions,
From seeming evil still educing good. In this part of the country (Garuda-giri) there are many sheep, but few black cattle. The shepherds and their families live with their Hocks. The men wrap themselves in a blanket, and sleep in the open air among the sheep. The women and children sleep under hemispherical baskets about six feet in diameter, and wrought with leaves so as to turn the rain. At one side a small hole is left open, through which the poor creatures can creep, and this is always turned to leeward, there being nothing to cover it. I have not in any other country seen a habitation so very Wretched. Vol. III. p. 383.
Other tribes (and there appear to be many such) are little better off in the world. Some of them will form our introduction to several particulars which we have collected from sundry places, in reference to the ferocity of the tiger and the elephant.
The Goalas are herdsmen, and shut up their cattle in folds, which are strongly fortified with thorny bushes, to defend the cattle from tigers. These Goalas remore.
to different places for pasture. During the whole time that they are absent they never sleep in a hut; but, wrapped up in their blankets, and accompanied by their dogs, they lie down among their cattle within the folds, where all night they burn fires to keep away the tigers. This, however, is not always sufficient, and these ferocious animals sometimes break through the fence, and kill or wound the cattle. Vol. II. p. 11.
The fortifications at Priya Pattana are quite ruinous, the late Sultan having blown up the best works. In the inner fort there are no inhabitants, and tigers have taken entire possession of its ruins. A horse that strayed in a few nights ago was destroyed, and even at midday, it is considered as dangerous for a solitary person to enter. It was deemed imprudent for me, who was followed by a multitude, to enter any of the temples, which serve the tigers as shelter from the heat of the day, by which these animals are much oppressed. The outer fort contains a few houses of Brah. mans, who are forced to shut themselves up at sunset. Vol. II. p. 96.
of this latter calamity the Dr. gives a melancholy instance, in p. 426.
Speaking of Cancan-hully, he describes the country as having been fully cultivated, previous to Lord Cornwallis's invasion :
The devastation was commenced by Tippoo, who blew up the works, in order to prevent them from being useful to the British army. After this the Anicul Polygar ravaged the country, colonel Read having invited him back to his dominions. According to the accounts of the Amildar, this gentle Hindoo has rendered two fifths of the whole arabie lands a waste ; and, from the small number of inhabitants, the beasts of prey have increased so much, that, during the two last years of the Sultan's government, eighty of the inhabitants of Cancan-hully were carried away by tigers from within the walls of the fort. These have been since repaired, and the people can now sleep with safety. Tippoo destroyed the Hindoo temple, which kind of devastation was one of his favourite amusements.
But the tiger, though the most dreadful, is not the only scourge of In. dia. Other beasts of his genus partake of his blood-thirsty disposition, and of his powers. One of these the Dr. describes.
In the forenoon a leopard was killed by the people of the village, in a garden near the town, and brought to my tent in great triumph, with every thing resembling a fag, and every instrument capable of making a noise, that could be collected. First, he had been shot in the belly, and then he was driven to the banks of a reservoir, where he stood at bay; and, before he was killed, wounded three of the men who attacked him with spears ; one of whom was severely torn. He agreed very well with the description in Ker's translation of Linnæus, and was about four feet from the snout to the root of the tail. ' He had killed several oxen, and in this country, it is not unusual for leopards to attack even men. Although I have called this animal the leopard, there is reason to think, that it does not differ from the panther of India ; for, I am persuaded, that we have no larger spotted animal of the feline genus. The Indian panther and leopard, I consider, therefore, as two names for the same animal. The African panther, may, however, be different, as certainly is the hunt. ing leopard of India. Vol. II. p. 337. · Will it be believed, after such afflicting demonstrations of the tiger's ferocity, and that of his fellows, that superstition and ignorance could fancy the conversion of these creatures into guards, and guards too of the most endearing subjects of the human affections ?
I took a very long and fatiguing walk to the top of the western hills, in order to see a Cambay, or village inhabited by Eriligaril. The love of the marvellous, so pre valent in India, has made it commonly reported, that these poor people go abso. lutely naked; sleep under trees without any covering; and possess the power of charming tigers, so as to prevent those ferocious animals from doing them any injury. My interpreter, although a very shrewd man, gravely related, that the Eriligaru women, when they go into the woods to collect roots, intrust their children to the care of a tiger.
The village that I visited contained seven or eight huts, with some pens for their goats; the whole built round a square, in which they burn a fire all night to keep away the rigers. The huts are very small, but tolerably neat, and constructed of bumius interwoven like basket work, and plastered on the inside with clay.
Tiese people take wild fowl in nets ; and sometimes kill the tiger in spring traps loaded with stones, and baited with a kid.
The Dr. mentions other tribes, to which this power of domesticating the tiger is attributed, which of course they deny ; yet believe it of their fellow tribes.
The Elephant is no less inimical to man, though there seems to be less reason for it; as he does not live on flesh, or support his own life by depriving others of their's. His food is rice ; his drink is water; yet is he equally fierce with the tiger.
We leave to the philosopher the explication of the peculiarity in the " elephant," of being “ discontented," and forsaking his appropriate community ; together with the circumstance, that when solitary, he is ferocious and desperate, though easily frightened when in company. Have such been expelled ; or have they forsaken the society of their fellows? Are there jacobin elephants, among these “ half reasoning" brutes, which, discontented with the present order of things, attempt revolutions, and are banished by the herd?
The woods are infested by wild elephants, which do much injury to the crops. They are particularly destructive to the sugar cane and palm gardens ; for those monstrous creatures break down the betel-nut tree to get at its cabbage. The natives have not the art of catching the elephant in kyddas, or folds, as is done in Bengal; but take them in pitfalls, by which only a few can be procured. These are frequently injured by the fall. Vol. II. p. 117.
At Hejuru, I went into the forests about three cosses, to a small tank, further than which the natives rarely venture, and to which they do not go without being much alarmed on account of wild elephants. In this forest these animals are certainly more numerous, than either in Chittagong or Pegu. I have never seen any where so many traces of them. The natives, when they meet an elephant in the day time, hide themselves in the grass, or behind bushes, and the animal does not search after them; but were he to see them, even at a distance, he would run at them, and put them to death. It is stragglers only from the herds, that, in the day time, frequent the outer parts of the forest. The herds, that at night destroy the crops, retire with the dawn of day into the recesses of the forest ; and thither the natives do not venture, as they could not hide themselves from a number. It is said, that at the abovementioned tank, there was formerly a village ; but that both it and several others on the skirt of the forest have lately been withdrawn, owing to an increased number of ele. phants, and to the smaller means of resistance which the decrease of population allows. The forest is free from underwood or creepers ; but the whole ground is covered with long grass, often as high as a man's head. This makes walking rather disagreeable and dangerous, as one is always liable to stumble over rotten trunks, to rouse a tiger, or to tread on a snake. These latter are said to be found of great dimensions, and have been seen as thick as the body of a middle-sized man. Their length does not exceed seven cubits. P. 127.
The Cad Curubaru are a rude tribe of Karnata, who are exceedingly poor and wretched. They watch the fields at night, to keep off elephants and wild hogs. Their manner of driving away the elephant is by running against him with a burning torch made of bamboos. The animal sometimes turns, and waits till the Curubaru comes close up; but these poor people, taught by experience, push boldly on, and dash their torches against the elephant's head, who never fails to take immediate flight. Should their courage fail, and should they attempt to run away, the elephant would immediately pursue, and put them to death. The Curubaru have no means of killing so large an animal, and on meeting one in the day time, are as much alarmed as any other of the inhabitants. These poor people frequently suffer from tigers, against which their wretched huts are a poor defence : and, when this wild beast is urged by hunger, he is regardless of their burning torches.
The Cutari rice is that most commonly cultivated, as it is less liable than the others to be injured by the herds of wild elephants; for these animals, though they eat rice, do not kill that kind when they tread on it. P. 333.
On strong, high trees, the guard has constructed two stages, to which the men Ay when they are attacked by solitary, discontented, male elephants, who are not to be driven away by firing at them, unless the ball takes place in some sensible part.
Herds of elephants come very frequently to drink at the torrent; but are easily alarmed, and run away at the first shot. P. 340.
The elephants are a dreadful nuisance to the farmers, who live near these forests, and have prevented much land, formerly deserted, from being again cultivated. A regular hunting of them would be a great relief, and might be done to advantage, if the company could afford to purchase the elephants.
But let it not be thought that these great creatures only are injurious. Animals of a lower class, if it be allowable to place anthropomorphous ani. mals in a lower class, can do as much mischief by their numbers, as the huge elephant can do by his power. That they should be protected in their devastations, must be traced to causes not explicable by the principles of natural history.
The monkeys and squirrels are very destructive ; but it is reckoned criminal to kill either of them. They are under the immediate protection of the Daseris, who assemble round any person guilty of this offence, and allow him no rest, until he bestows on the animal a funeral, that will cost him from 100 to 200 fanams, according to the number of Daseris that have assembled.
The proprietors of the gardens used formerly to hire a particular class of men, who took these animals in nets, and then by stealth conveyed them into the gardens of some distant village ; but, as the people there had recourse to the same means, all parties have become tired of this practice. If any person freed the poor people, by killing these mischievous vermin, they would think themselves bound in decency to make a clamour ; but inwardly they would be very well pleased: and the government might do it, by hiring men whose consciences would not suffer by the action, and who might be repaid by a small tax on the proprietors. Vol. II.
The houses at Mail-cotay are roofed with tiles, and have an odd look, from being entirely covered with thorns. This is done to prevent the monkeys from unroofing the houses; for these mischievous animals are here very numerous, and to destroy them is reckoned a grievous sin. The very person who applauds his Guru for having ground the Janas (a set of people, with their priests and followers, whom he could not convert] in an oil mill, will shudder with horrour at the thought of a monkey's being killed.
Wiat strange contradictions maintain themselves in the human mind! Are similar anoinalies restricted to India ?
A good hint, perhaps, may be gathered from a remark of the Dr's, p. 343. Speaking of the Corunga Munji Maram, Rottleria tinctoria. Roxb. he informs us that this name signifies Monkey's face-tree, or Mimusops ; for these animals paint their faces red, by rubbing them with the fruit. The natives deny all knowledge of the dying quality possessed by the red powder that covers the fruit; but, at different places in Mysore, I was told that the die was imported from this part of the country.- What are the nature and properties of this die ?
That the Europeans in India have taken advantage of similar suggestions, and are turning them to advantage in a commercial sense, is evident from the following remaks.—This country affords ample scope for the spirit of speculation.
At Bailaru, I found two men whom an officer, now stationed at Arcot, employed in rearing cochineal. They have been in this country one year; have sent to their employer fifteen maunds ; have fifteen muunds ready for sale, and before the insects have consumed all the nopals (cactus] that are near the town, they expect to have ten maunds more. When this happens, they will carry two men's load of branches filled with the insect, and apply these to the nopals of some other place, where they will remain until the insects breed, and consume all the plants. The nopals have been raised by the farmers as fences round their gardens, but were sold by the officers of the revenue for about a guinea and a half. The hedges will grow up again in three years, when it is expected that some other person rearing the insect will come and buy the plants. Vol. III. p. 399.
Dr. B.considers this plan as the most rational of any that has been hitherto proposed for rearing the cochineal in India. Unluckily, the insect is of the bad kind; and the plant is the native cactus.
Among the vegetables of India in which we are most interested, as being most familiar to us, the pepper vine must be included. Its fruit, as is well known, forms an ingredient of our food ; and use demands its flavour in sundry ways at our tables. The following account of its culture as well in its natural, as artificial growth, may, therefore, be acceptable to our readers.
The pepper plant (piper nigrum) seems to grow spontaneously on the sides of all the narrow vallies in the interiour of Haiga, where the soil is so rich and moist, as to produce lofty trees close to each other, by which a constant moisture is retained. In such places the pepper vine runs along the ground and the roots of dushes, and propagates itself entirely by striking its roots into the soil, and then again sending out new shoots. The natives say, that without assistance it cannot ascend a tree; and that, unless it is exposed in such a situation to sun and air, it never produces flowers. In order to procure fruit from a hill which spontaneously produces the pepper vine, the proprietor cuts all the underwood and bushes, and leaves only the large trees, and a number of the young ones sufficient to exclude the violence of the sun, but to allow a free circulation of air. Four cubits from tree to tree is reckoned a proper distance. The ends of the vines, which were lying on the ground, are then tied up to the nearest trees. Any kind of tree answers the pur. pose ; but those of about eight inches or a foot in diameter are preferred, as it is easy to climb such for the purpose of gathering the pepper. A quantity of leaves is then placed round the root of the vine, to rot, and serve as manure. In the course of the year, the vine, so far as it has been tied, strikes its roots into the bark of the tree ; but the shoots above that, hang down. Twice a year afterwards these are tied up, and strike root, till they spread over all the large branches of the tree. In places where no vines have naturally sprung, the owner, after having dug a small spot round the tree to loosen the earth, propagates them by planting slips near the roots of the trees on which he wishes them to climb. The early part of the rainy season is the proper time for this operation. In five years, after having been managed in this manner, a hill begins to produce fruit, and in eight years is in full bear. ing. The vines live about thirty years, when others, that are found creeping on the ground in their natural state, are tied up in their stead; or, where these happen to be wanting, shoots or cuttings are planted near the trees. There is no difference in the quality between the pepper springing spontaneously from seed, and that growing from cuttings. Nor is the pepper growing in gardens either better or worse than that growing on a hill, managed as I am now describing. These hills producing pepper, require no trouble, but the tying up of the plants, keeping the forest clear of underwood, and collecting the pepper. They are manured in the following manner. In the month succeeding the vernal equinox, a hole three or four inches above the ground is made into the trunk of any very large tree that is situated near the top of the hill. Into this are put some burning coals, and, for an hour, a fire is kept up with fresh fuel. After this, the tree will burn inwardly for two days and is then killed. A large insect immediately takes possession of the trunk, and works its nest into the wood. In the next rainy season the whole falls down into a rotten dust, which the rain washes away, so as to disperse it over the face of the bill below. The amenta are dried three days in the sun, and then are rubbed with the feet on a piece of smooth ground, to separate the grains; which, having been cleared from the husks and foot stalks, are again dried two days in the sun, and tied up for sale in straw bags. Vol. II, p. 158.
Notwithstanding the advantages attending this easy cultivation, Dr. B. informs us, that, " one half of these hills is waste, owing to a want of hands to cultivate them.”
Other valuable spices are natives of India : and where they grow natu. rally, they surely might be improved to perfection, by the skill of the cultivator.
The wild nutmeg, and cassia, are very common. As the nutmegs ripen, the mon. teys always eat up the outer rind, and mace; so that I could not procure one in a perfect state. They have little flavour ; but by cultivation might be greatly im. proved. P. 161.
The cassia, also, might be greatly improved.
The belel-leaf is cultivated exactly like the pepper, and lives the same length of ime. In this country, the nogwally, or female plant, for it is diæ cious, is that chiefly