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their country with his own, and his successors continued to extend its influence and bounds until the year 1822, when they came into collision with the British. The result of the war which ensued was the imposition of a heavy fine on the Burmese, and the surrender by them of a great part of their country, in addition to the sovereign rights which they claimed over Assam and several neighbouring petty states. In 1852, the insolence of the Burmese Court to our representative, the outrages of the people and officials on British seamen, and their general hostility to us, brought on a second war, which,
though like the first, not altogether one continuous success for the British, resulted so far disastrously to the Burmese that they lost the cities of Pegu (p. 112) and the whole of that province, which was accordingly formally annexed to India, and as part of British Burmah continues to this day an integral part of the Empire. The war had also this secondary effect, that it deprived the Burmese of any seaports, the whole of the coastlying country being under our sway, only the inland or rolling hilly country being
Since that date-in 1867-permission was obtained for British steamers to navigate Burmese waters; and to Bhamo, accordingly, the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company run a fortnightly steamer. The late king also showed considerable interest in the development of
the commercial resources of his country, by assisting various expeditions despatched to endeavour to open up the trade with Western China via Burmah. But, subsequently, the evil counsellors who have always been abundant at Mandalay, the capital, hare obtained the upper hand. The old king died in October, 1878; his successor, Theebaw, a young man of twenty, afterwards indulged in such a wild orgie of drunkenness and murder, that it was found necessary, in order to avoid complications, to withdraw the British Resident from his court.
The present kingdom of Burmah, including its tributary states, comprises about 188,000 square miles, and a population roughly estimated at between three and four millions. In the northern part of the country the inhabitants are chiefly Singphos, Shans, and other half-wild tribes; the eastern districts, or Sban states (p. 123), are peopled by tribesmen who only acknowledge the Mandalay Government under protest; while, lopped of these quasi-independent parts, Burmah proper does not contain over 45,000 square miles, with a population of 1,200,000, scattered over a varied surface of rolling upland, interspersed with alluvial basins and sudden ranges of hills,” the country sloping upwards from the coast until it reaches the snowy highlands of the north, which contribute so many of the rivers which drain the region described, and where alluvial tracts are rare.
Take it as a whole, Independent Burmah is not so fertile as the lower-lying maritime tracts of British Burmah, but on the uplands rice of many different kinds, maize, millet, wheat, various kinds of pulse, indigo, cotton, and tobacco flourish. But the sugar-cane, which has from time immemorial been known to the Burmese, is not much cultivated, although the climate seems particularly well suited for its growth.
Most of their sugar -of a coarse, but cheap, quality—is made from the juice of the Palmyra palm, which is abundant in the country south of the capital. The tea-plant is indigenous, and is cultivated by the wild tribes who live at a distance from Mandalay ; but the hlapet, or pickled tea, which is a favourite Burman relish, seems obtained from an entirely different plant—the Elæodendron persicum. Mangoes, oranges, citrons, pine-apples, custard apples, plantains, jacks, papayas, yams, and sweet potatoes are grown. Onions are less common, but capsicum, which, after salt, is the most common condiment in the country, is grown everywhere. The varied surface of the country yields an equally varied flora. There are but few deciduous trees, but owing to the plentiful moisture and the warmth of the atmosphere, General Fytche notices that the plains are during the greatest part of the year enamelled with a most exuberant vegetation and flowers of the brightest hues, while the mountains are clothed to their tops “with perennial foliage of endless variety, bright with the verdure of perpetual spring.” It is also curious to find on the plains and on low hills extra-tropical plants, which only appear on the opposite coast, and in India generally on the mountains, and at an elevation of several thousand feet, and consequently in a much lower temperature. This cannot be attributed—as has been done to the moisture of the climate; for the same peculiar moisture of tropical and temperate
forms of vegetation occurs in Upper Burmah, where the rainfall is much less, and the atmosphere drier also than in Bengal.* All the trees found in India flourish in Burmah, and though with the loss of Pegu the Burmese were deprived of their finest forests of teak, yet fine timber trees are still abundant. Among the niost graceful of these is the Amherstia nobilis, peculiar to Pegu. It grows to a height of forty feet, and is beautiful in the extreme, its slender pendulous branches being covered with bright green foliage, "draperied with large pea-blossomed-shaped flowers of scarlet and gold, which hang down from its graceful arches in tassels more than a yard long." Dr. Wallich considers that when this tree is in foliage and blossom it is one of the most superb objects which can be imagined. “It is unequalled in the flora of the East, and I presume not surpassed in magnificence and elegance in any part of the world.” The fragrant gold-coloured blossom of the Champac (Michelia champaca), with which the Burmese and Indian women deck their hair, but the strong aromatic scent of which is disagreeable to bees, is another favourite ornament of Burmese gardens. The Mesua, or Gungu, is another tree which readily attracts the eye of a new comer, and though the palm order comprises some twenty species, with the exception of the cocoa-nut, the Areca (Areca catechu), and the Palmyra (Borassus flabelliformis), few of them are very widely distributed.
The Buddhist sacred books are for the most part written on the leaves of the Corypha palm, while, as already noted, sugar is extracted from the veinous sap of the Palmyra. “ The mode of obtaining the sap is by crushing the young inflorescence, and amputating the upper half; the lower is then tied to a leaf-stalk, and has an earthen pot attached to its end, which gradually fills with sap, and is removed every morning; when replaced, a fresh slice is cut from the wounded end of the inflorescence, an operation which is repeated every day until the whole of the raceme is sliced away. In procuring the sugar exactly the same process is followed, but the inside of the receiver is powdered with lime, which prevents fermentation taking place; the juice is afterwards boiled down, and finally dried by exposure to the sun in little baskets, and in this form is sold in Burmah under the name of tan-lyet. The female tree produces three or four times as much sap as the male, and a good healthy one is said to furnish some three quarts a day, which is continued for about five months." Pine-apples are so plentiful that in early morning on the roads leading to Rangoon, carts laden with them like turnips in England may be seen wending their way to market, in which they are sold at the rate of four for a penny, or sometimes even more cheaply. Of the plantain there are at least thirty varieties, some of which are used as a dessert fruit, and others cooked in various ways as vegetable. The famous durian (Vol. IV., p. 255) will not grow in Upper Burmah, but before the annexation of Pegu the Kings of Burmah used to have this fruit despatched to them from Martaban by horse post. In that country it is as great a favourite as in Malaysia, and its warmest friends indignantly deny that it is so notoriously evil-odoured, except when it putrefies, as it does very rapidly after being completely ripe. Bamboos of many varieties are found, and are so valuable that the Bhatoos, one of the hill tribes
Mason: “ The Natural Productions of Burmah (1850); Kurtz: Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal (1874).
of India, offer worship to it as the impersonation or representative of the deity of the forest. But of all the forest products of Burmah, the teak (Tectonia grandis) is the most valuable, both for home use and as an article of export. There are a great number of varieties, but most probably they all belong to the same botanical species. It comes to maturity in about eighty years, when for eighty or ninety feet it will average a girth of twelve to sixteen feet. It does not grow in large clumps, but is scattered through the forest in the proportion or about one teak-tree to four hundred other trees. In the teak forests proper the peoportion is about one in three hundred, but confined to certain localities, where, as noted by Dr. McClelland, it constitutes the prevailing tree for a few hundred yards, “seldom for å mile continuously.” * In 1875–76 the area of the teak forests reserved by the Government of Pegu was 335,880 acres, and the products of them delivered at the central depôts during that year was 46,597 tons, which realised at auction the average of £3 18s. per ton. In all, the total of British and foreign teak exported from the Burmese was in the year mentioned 162,164 tons. Iron-wood (Inga), Engghyeng (Shorea), ebony, &c., are also obtained, and from two varieties of Dipterocarpus wood-oil is obtained. A triangular excavation is made in the bole of the tree, and on a fire being lighted therein the oil begins to flow freely into an earthen vessel placed to receive it. A single tree will yield from thirty to forty gallons in a season without injury.
Catechu is the inspissated brown juice obtained by decoction and evaporation from the heart wood of Mimosa catechu, and is exported in considerable quantity for the use of tanners and dyers, and also for the adulteration of various articles of commerce, among others tea. The shellac and varnish used by the Burmese in their lacquer-ware manufacture are also obtained in these forests, and exported in small quantities.
Iron has been worked in the country from the earliest times; and as coal has been discovered in various places, the materials for mining industry are in existence. Tin is worked with success, and gold, silver, bismuth, nitre, amber, jade, galena, copper, plumbago, antimony, &c., exist in some abundance. Sulphuret of antimony has been worked, though without much profit; and the manufacture of salt, which was at one time a considerable industry, is now partially abandoned, English salt of a better quality being imported much more cheaply. This imported salt is brought as ballast for the rice-ships, and finds its way to Upper Burmah and into China and the Shan States vid Bhamo, and causes the Chinese in their turn to bring to Bhamo their manufactures to offer in exchange. Long before the American oil-wells were discovered “Rangoon earth oil,” or petroleum, was known in commerce, and it is still utilised for burning and for the manufacture of candles from the paraffine extracted from the crude oil. The candles are used locally, but considerable quantities of the refined petroleum is exported to Calcutta and the Straits of Malacca. The wells are situated
à plateau about sixty miles beyond our frontier, and each yield from 250 to 1,400 lbs. daily, the estimated return from all of them being something like 12,000 tons per annum. The oil, when first taken out of the well, is of the consistence of cream, greenish in colour, and of strong, pungent, aromatic odour. The wells are private property, and, General Fytche tells us, have been in the
* “Report on the Teak Forests of Pegu" (1854), cited by Fytche: lib. cit., Vol. I., p. 303.
possession of the same families for many years. They do not allow interlopers to dig any wells in the vicinity; and by mutual agreement no well can be sold or mortgaged except to a well-owner. The Government is supposed to exact a royalty of five per cent. on the value of the produce, but this varies in amount according to the caprice or exigencies of the reigning king. The precious stones of Burmah are chiefly the ruby and sapphire, found
by sinking pits in a district sixty or seventy miles north-east from the capital. One of the many titles of the King of Burmah is “ Lord of the Rubies,” and a fine specimen of this precious gem is, next to the possession of a white elephant, one of that monarch’s most valued treasures. Some of the finest rubies known have been obtained within his territories; and it is believed that in the Royal Treasury there are stones far surpassing anything which the eyes of the outer world have as yet lighted on. The Crown lays claim to the produce of the sapphire mines, and all finds that exceed the value of £10 are sent to the Treasury. It may therefore be understood that not a great number of