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- Himalayan Journals (Complete) - 4/157 -

Government such aid as might enable me to devote the necessary time to the arrangement, naming, and distributing of my collections, the publication of my manuscripts, etc. I am in this most deeply indebted to the disinterested and generous exertions of Mr. L. Horner, Sir Charles Lyell, Dr. Lindley, Professor E. Forbes, and many others; and most especially to the Presidents of the Royal Society (the Earl of Rosse), of the Linnean (Mr. R. Brown), and Geological (Mr. Hopkins), who in their official capacities memorialized in person the Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests on this subject; Sir William Hooker at the same time bringing it under the notice of the First Lord of the Treasury. The result was a grant of 400 annually for three years.

Dr. T. Thomson joined me in Dorjiling in the end of 1849, after the completion of his arduous journeys in the North-West Himalaya and Tibet, and we spent the year 1850 in travelling and collecting, returning to England together in 1851. Having obtained permission from the Indian Government to distribute his botanical collections, which equal my own in extent and value, we were advised by all our botanical friends to incorporate, and thus to distribute them. The whole constitute an Herbarium of from 6000 to 7000 species of Indian plants, including an immense number of duplicates; and it is now in process of being arranged and named, by Dr. Thomson and myself, preparatory to its distribution amongst sixty of the principal public and private herbaria in Europe, India, and the United States of America.

For the information of future travellers, I may state that the total expense of my Indian journey, including outfit, three years and a half travelling, and the sending of my collections to Calcutta, was under 2000 (of which 1200 were defrayed by government), but would have come to much more, had I not enjoyed the great advantages I have detailed. This sum does not include the purchase of books and instruments, with which I supplied myself, and which cost about 200, nor the freight of the collections to England, which was paid by Government. Owing to the kind services of Mr. J. C. Melvill, Secretary of the India House, many small parcels of seeds, etc., were conveyed to England, free of cost; and I have to record my great obligations and sincere thanks to the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, for conveying, without charge, all small parcels of books, instruments and specimens, addressed to or by myself.

It remains to say something of the illustrations of this work. The maps are from surveys of my own, made chiefly with my own instruments, but partly with some valuable ones for the use of which I am indebted to my friend Captain H. Thuillier, Deputy Surveyor-General of India, who placed at my disposal the resources of the magnificent establishment under his control, and to whose innumerable good offices I am very greatly beholden.

The landscapes, etc. have been prepared chiefly from my own drawings, and will, I hope, be found to be tolerably faithful representations of the scenes. I have always endeavoured to overcome that tendency to exaggerate heights, and increase the angle of slopes, which is I believe the besetting sin, not of amateurs only, but of our most accomplished artists. As, however, I did not use instruments in projecting the outlines, I do not pretend to have wholly avoided this snare; nor, I regret to say; has the lithographer, in all cases, been content to abide by his copy. My drawings will be considered tame compared with most mountain landscapes, though the subjects comprise some of the grandest scenes in nature. Considering how conventional the treatment of such subjects is, and how unanimous artists seem to be as to the propriety of exaggerating those features which should predominate in the landscape, it may fairly be doubted whether the total effect of steepness and elevation, especially in a mountain view, can, on a small scale, be conveyed by a strict adherence to truth. I need hardly add, that if such is attainable, it is only by those who have a power of colouring that few pretend to. In the list of plates and woodcuts I have mentioned the obligations I am under to several friends for the use of drawings, etc.

With regard to the spelling of native names, after much anxious discussion I have adopted that which assimilates most to the English pronunciation. For great assistance in this, for a careful revision of the sheets as they passed through the press, and for numerous valuable suggestions throughout, I am indebted to my fellow-traveller, Dr. Thomas Thomson.



Sunderbunds vegetation--Calcutta Botanic Garden--Leave for Burdwan--Rajah's gardens and menagerie--Coal-beds, geology, and plants of--Lac insect and plant--Camels--Kunker--Cowage-- Effloresced soda on soil--Glass, manufacture of--Atmospheric vapours--Temperature, etc.--Mahowa oil and spirits--Maddaobund --Jains--Ascent of Paras-nath--Vegetation of that mountain.

I left England on the 11th of November, 1847, and performed the voyage to India under circumstances which have been detailed in the Introduction. On the 12th of January, 1848, the "Moozuffer" was steaming amongst the low swampy islands of the Sunderbunds. These exhibit no tropical luxuriance, and are, in this respect, exceedingly disappointing. A low vegetation covers them, chiefly made up of a dwarf- palm (_Phoenix paludosa_) and small mangroves, with a few scattered trees on the higher bank that runs along the water's edge, consisting of fan-palm, toddy-palm, and _Terminalia._ Every now and then, the paddles of the steamer tossed up the large fruits of _Nipa fruticans,_ a low stemless palm that grows in the tidal waters of the Indian ocean, and bears a large head of nuts. It is a plant of no interest to the common observer, but of much to the geologist, from the nuts of a similar plant abounding in the tertiary formations at the mouth of the Thames, and having floated about there in as great profusion as here, till buried deep in the silt and mud that now forms the island of Sheppey.* [Bowerbank "On the Fossil Fruits and Seeds of the Isle of Sheppey," and Lyell's "Elements of Geology," 3rd ed. p. 201.]

Higher up, the river Hoogly is entered, and large trees, with villages and cultivation, replace the sandy spits and marshy jungles of the great Gangetic delta. A few miles below Calcutta, the scenery becomes beautiful, beginning with the Botanic Garden, once the residence of Roxburgh and Wallich, and now of Falconer,--classical ground to the naturalist. Opposite are the gardens of Sir Lawrence Peel; unrivalled in India for their beauty and cultivation, and fairly entitled to be called the Chatsworth of Bengal. A little higher up, Calcutta opened out, with the batteries of Fort William in the foreground, thundering forth a salute, and in a few minutes more all other thoughts were absorbed in watching the splendour of the arrangements made for the reception of the Governor-General of India.

During my short stay in Calcutta, I was principally occupied in preparing for an excursion with Mr. Williams of the Geological Survey, who was about to move his camp from the Damooda valley coal-fields, near Burdwan, to Beejaghur on the banks of the Soane, where coal was reported to exist, in the immediate vicinity of water-carriage, the great desideratum of the Burdwan fields.

My time was spent partly at Government-House, and partly at Sir Lawrence Peel's residence. The former I was kindly invited to consider as my Indian home, an honour which I appreciate the more highly, as the invitation was accompanied with the assurance that I should have entire freedom to follow my own pursuits; and the advantages which such a position afforded me, were, I need not say, of no ordinary kind.

At the Botanic Gardens I received every assistance from Dr. McLelland,* [Dr. Falconer's _locum tenens,_ then in temporary charge of the establishment.] who was very busy, superintending the publication of the botanical papers and drawings of his friend, the late Dr. Griffith, for which native artists were preparing copies on lithographic paper.

Of the Gardens themselves it is exceedingly difficult to speak; the changes had been so very great, and from a state with which I had no acquaintance. There had been a great want of judgment in the alterations made since Dr. Wallich's time, when they were celebrated as the most beautiful gardens in the east, and were the great object of attraction to strangers and townspeople. I found instead an unsightly wilderness, without shade (the first requirement of every tropical garden) or other beauties than some isolated grand trees, which had survived the indiscriminate destruction of the useful and ornamental which had attended the well-meant but ill-judged attempt to render a garden a botanical class-book. It is impossible to praise too highly Dr. Griffith's abilities and acquirements as a botanist, his perseverance and success as a traveller, or his matchless industry in the field and in the closet; and it is not wonderful, that, with so many and varied talents, he should have wanted the eye of a landscape-gardener, or the education of a horticulturist. I should, however, be wanting in my duty to his predecessor, and to his no less illustrious successor, were these remarks withheld, proceeding, as they do, from an unbiassed observer, who had the honour of standing in an equally friendly relation to all parties. Before leaving India, I saw great improvements, but many years must elapse before the gardens can resume their once proud pre-eminence.

I was surprised to find the Botanical Gardens looked upon by many of the Indian public, and even by some of the better informed official men, as rather an extravagant establishment, more ornamental than useful. These persons seemed astonished to learn that its name was renowned throughout Europe, and that during the first twenty years especially of Dr. Wallich's superintendence, it had contributed more useful and ornamental tropical plants to the public and private gardens of the world than any other establishment before or since.* [As an illustration of this, I may refer to a Report presented to the government of Bengal, from which it appears that between January, 1836, and December, 1840, 189,932 plants were distributed gratis to nearly 2000 different gardens.] I speak from a personal knowledge of the contents of our English gardens, and our colonial ones at the Cape, and in Australia, and from an inspection of the ponderous volumes of distribution lists, to which Dr. Falconer is daily adding. The botanical public of Europe and India is no less indebted than the horticultural to the liberality of the Hon. East India Company, and to the energy of the several eminent men who have carried their views into execution.* [I here allude to the great Indian herbarium, chiefly formed by the staff of the Botanic Gardens under the direction of Dr. Wallich, and distributed in 1829 to the principal museums of Europe. This is the most valuable contribution of the kind ever made to science, and it is a lasting memorial: of the princely liberality of the enlightened men who ruled the counsels of India in those days. No botanical work of importance has been published since 1829, without recording its sense of the obligation, and I was once commissioned by a foreign government, to purchase for its national museum, at whatever cost, one set of these collections, which was brought to the hammer on the death of its possessor. I have heard it remarked that the expense attending the distribution was enormous, and I have reason to know that this erroneous impression has had an unfavourable influence upon the destination of scarcely less valuable collections, which have for years been lying untouched in the cellars

Himalayan Journals (Complete) - 4/157

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