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Art, I.-INDIA AND COMPARATIVE PHILOLOGY.
Selections from the Records of the Bengal Government, No. XXV., Report on the Teak Plantations of Bengal, by Dr. H. Falco
Notes on the Productive Capacities of the Shan Countries, by Lieut. Col. S. F. Hannay. Report on Serajgunge, by A. J. M. Mills, Esq. Correspondence relative to Vaccination. Correspondence relative to the discovery of the Tea Plant in Sylhet. Report on the Honorable Company's Botanic Garden, by Dr. T. Thomson. Notes on the Patna Opium Agency, by Dr. R. Lyell. Calcutta, 1857.
This number of the “ Selections from the Records of the Bengal Government” is more than usually interesting. The two last reports, on the Botanic Garden, and on the methods adopted in the cultivation, collection, and preparation of opium in the Patna district, are especially so, and could we transfer them in extenso to our pages, we are sure that our readers would thank us. What strikes us as to the first report, by Dr. Falconer, is the late period of its publication, it having been written early in 1854. It contains information on the growth of teak in Sylhet, Bancoorah, Rajshaye, Rampore Bauleah, and Kishnaghur. The subject is one of vast importance to the commercial interests of India, and one that has been neglected till almost too late. Civilisation is often apt to be too hasty, and in its efforts to clear the land and fit it for the abode of man, to deprive itself of that which is one of its most material aids in its progress and extension. Recently an attempt has been made to correct the error by planting young trees in various parts of Bengal. Dr. Falconer, however, is of opinion that “no portion of the delta land of Bengal is suited to the growth of first-class teak." The reason that he assigns for this, is the excessive moisture of the rainy season, the compact character of the soil, and the inferiority so great as fifty per cent—of the fruit, or nut to that of the Tenasserim Provinces. Injury has further arisen from unskilfulness in planting. In most of the Bengal plantations, the young trees were placed at intervals of only ten feet apart, whereas “first-class teak cannot be grown at a less distance apart than forty feet,
or 272 trees to the acre.” In the conclusion of the Report, a remarkable instance of the growth of teak in the Bengal Provinces is mentioned. “A teak tree at Gowalparah, planted about twenty-five years before, had attained a height of between fifty and sixty feet, with the following dimensions to the trunk.
Girth, at three feet above the ground 9 feet 3 inches.
The subject is one of vast importance, and it is hoped that Government will direct more attention to it. Neither they nor the Agricultural Society will be able to effect permanent good, unless the Zemindars take it up.
The Report on the Shans, by Lieut.-Col. Hannay, is precisely of such a character, as might have been inserted in the Asiatic Researches of former days, or as would enliven the dulness of the Asiatic Society's Journal, in more modern times. From it, it seems that their country is one that, in a commercial point of view, is of immense importance. Its vegetable productions consist of teak, rose-wood, gamboge, a species of gum-benjamin, cardamum, saffron, red-wood, sandal-wood, stic-lac, a variety of the tea-plant similar to that which grows in Assam, and the leaves of which are prepared by a peculiar process as a condiment. Several useful fibresamong which is silk, are also produced. In the department of minerals we have tin, antimony, lead and abundance of iron. There is also a silver mine, ruby, sapphire, serpentine rock of a fine quality, amber of various colours and qualities, lignite, fossil-wood, and gold dust in small quantities. Though far behind the Chinese, in arts and manufactures, the Shans yet produce fine particoloured silk, such as is worn by the highest dignitaries of the Burmese Court; they understand something of mining and smelting, produce beautiful lacquered-ware, and are excellent workmen in silver. The Burmese Pony, so well-known and so useful in Bengal, is “entirely a native of the Shan states." It is taken to Ava, thence to Rangoon, and shipped to Madras and Calcutta. Bamo on the Upper Irrawaddy (latitude 24° 12', longitude 97") is the modern capital of the old Shan Province, the seat of a Burmese Governor, and yields a revenue of three lakhs of rupees. The following description of it is given :
“I find that this is a modern town, erected on the banks of the Irrawaddy for the convenience of water carriage between it and Ava. The old Shan town of Manmo or Bamno is situated two days' journey up the Tipan River, which falls into the Irrawaddy, about a mile above the new town of Bamo or Zee-theet Zeit, or new mart landing place.
“This modern town is situated on high unequal ground, and the bank toward the river is from forty to fifty feet in height and composed of clay.
"With the exception of Ava and Rangoon, it is the largest place I have seen in Burmah, and not excepting these places, I certainly think it is the most interesting. The novelty of so large a fleet as ours passing up, (and no doubt having heard that an European officer was of the party,) had attracted a great crowd of people to the river side, and on landing, I felt as if I were almost in a civilized land again, when I found myself amongst fair-complexioned people, wearing jackets and trowsers, after being accustomed to the harsh features and parti-colored dress of the Burmans. The people I saw were Chinese from the province of Yunan, and Shans from the Shan Provinces subject to China. Bamo is said to contain 1,500 houses, but including several villages which join it, I should say it contained 2,000, at least 200 of which are inhabited by Chinese. Besides the permanent population of Bamo, there are always a great number of strangers there, Chinese, Shans, Polongs and Khykhyens, who either come to make purchases, or to be hired as workmen. There are also a great number of Assamese, both in the town and in the villages immediately connected with it, amongst whom are several members of the Tapan or Assam Rajah's family.