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A. 0. HUME, C.B., 








This paper, written many montlis ago, had been long 
in type, when the Government emphasised many of 
the remarks that it contains by aboHshing altogether 
the Department of Agriculture. 

This Department has never, as fully explained in 
this pamphlet, been able to effect much where Agri- 
culture was concerned, but it was working in a 
right direction ; it knew what was required, and from 
time to time, when allowed a chance, did a little good 
on its own motion, or supported and assisted the 
efforts of others in this direction. 

So long as it existed, there was always some one at 
the Head- quarters of the Government of India who 
possessed a knowledge of these subjects, and was at 
hand to support and advocate the sanction of all 


reasonable and practicable projects for improving in 
any way, however humble, the Agriculture of the 
country. So long as it existed, there was always a 
hope, that amid the vicissitudes to which public affairs 
are subject, some lucky turn of the wheel might bring 
more enlightened ideas on these subjects into vogue, 
and thus render possible its conversion into a real, 
working Agricultural Bureau. 

All this has passed away, and the only hope for 
India now lies in the chance that the real bearings 
and vital importance of the questions herein discussed 
may be better understood and appreciated in England 
than they have ever been, since Lord Mayo's death, 
by those in power in India. 

A. 0. HUME, 


July \st, 1879. 



Recent and oft-recurring famines have revived, to a 
slight extent, the feeble interest which has occasionally, 
in past times, been evinced in regard to agriculture in 

Some few people are found who ask whether im- 
proved husbandry might not do much to mitigate the 
intensity and limit the areas of these calamities. 

Others, looking to India's present impecuniosity, to 
the difficulties involved in any very material reduction 
in her present expenditure, to the urgent necessities 
that must arise in the future for increased expendi- 
ture, to the comparatively slow growth of existing 
sources of revenue and the apparent impracticability 
of opening out new sources that her populations 
would accept without dangerous dissatisfaction, en- 
quire whether the time has not come for a careful 
reconsideration of our management of the land of the 
country. The land revenue in all historical periods 
has been the main financial resource of every succes- 
sive Grovernment, Hindoo or Mahomedan. We have 
done much for the country, have enormously increased 


[ 2 ] 

the value of its produce, yet province for province we 
are not receiving mucli more than many of our prede- 
cessors, Akbar for instance, did. Are we really 
making the most out of the land ? 

Philanthropic manufacturers of agricultural ma- 
chines, introducers of new forage plants, patentees 
of improved cattle food and the like, overcome by the 
woes of the Indian ryot, are perpetually dinning into 
the ears of the authorities and the public their unsel- 
fish anxiety to regenerate the country by supplying it 
with their wares on a large scale. 

One way or another a dim conception seems to be 
gaining ground that, perhaps, we have left well (or 
ill?) alone too long, and that possibly a systematic 
improvement in its agriculture might prove a remedy 
for many of India's present troubles. 

This is not the first time that some little stir has 
been made about this matter. The orbit is not cal- 
culable, but a certain periodicity has been observed, 
and every ten or fifteen years the idea has emerged 
into the blaze of public opinion. Whether this time 
it is destined to develop into a permanent source of 
light, or once more, its perihelion passed, to dart off 
into the space of oblivion, cannot be foretold. The 
chances are, it is to be feared, greatly in favour of the 
latter ; but who can tell ? The laws of mind are not 
as those of matter ; and anyhow, so long as a chance 
exists, all, however humble, who hope and believe — 
hope that at last the time may have arrived for ener- 
getic and sufficient action in this matter, and believe 
that that action will confer great and lasting benefits 
on a considerable fraction of mankind — are bound, so 

[ 3 ] 

far as in tliem lies, to endeavour to lead others to the 
same hope and belief. 

Most certainly the question, are we making the 
most out of the land, must be answered in the nega- 
tive; but this, not through any imperfection in the 
existing revenue administration, but because the land 
itself yields nothing like what it should. 

It is undeniable that in the tenures we have created, 
and the systems we have adopted, there have been 
grave errors. Take, for instance, the Permanent 
Settlement of Bengal. Here, as elsewhere in India, 
the ruling power was the sole proprietor of the land. 
Other people enjoyed various classes of occupancy 
rights, and could not, according to custom, be de- 
prived of these (though they often were so by our 
predecessors) so long as they continued to pay the 
demand of the ruling power, which again, though in 
practice often only limited by rebellion, ought to have 
been, according to tradition, one-sixth of the gross 
produce, or again, which according to custom is the 
same thing, one-half of what the actual cultivator paid 
the middleman who made the collections. No doubt 
over vast tracts the produce was nominally equally 
divided between cultivator and middleman (adh-huttai 
as this division is called), but as a matter of fact, 
owing to the frauds of the cultivators, we may say 
broadly, that these never did over any large area, for 
any prolonged period, yield more than one- third of 
the gross produce to the State collectors, middlemen, 
zemindars, &c. who, in various parts of the empire, at 
various periods, have been the primary recipients of 
the dues of the soil. 

1 * 

[ 4 ] 

It would be foreign to my present purpose to enter 
further into details here. Suffice it to say that the 
State, even if strictly adhering to traditional usage, 
retained the right to share in any increased pro- 
ductiveness in its property, and similarly to in- 
crease the tale of its demand if prices of produce rose, 
or the value of the currency fell. 

In Bengal, with the most laudable intentions, we 
relinquished this right. We began by fixing a demand 
higher than the existing condition of affairs justified 
according to traditional theory, but not higher than 
what our immediate predecessors had 'taken, and this 
demand we stereotyped for ever. 

Time has rolled on ; a roadless wilderness has been 
traversed in all directions by railways and roads; 
under our protecting rule a vast internal and foreign 
commerce has been developed, prices of agricultural 
produce have risen, new and extremely remunerative 
staples have been introduced, and vast tracts of waste 
have come under the plough, but our demand remains 
the same as it was seventy years ago, and is pro- 
bably between four and five* millions less than it 

* It will be doubtless urged that, according to the road cess 
returns, the gross rental is barely 13 millions, and that therefore 
at the outside the Government demand could not have exceeded 
6| millions, or say 3j millions in excess of its present amount. 
The writer, on the other hand, is confident, looking to area, soils, 
rates, and population that the "assets" of Bengal, as calculated 
for a North- West Province settlement, are not under 16 millions, 
and probably exceed this considerably. 

Years ago, when the Bengal population was assumed at from 40 
to 44 millions, the writer, from similar considerations, asserted 
in a printed memorandum to Government that it could not be 

L 5 J 

would have been at the present moment had our pre- 
decessors contented themselves in Bengal, as else- 
where, with fixing the demand for periods of twenty 
or thirty years. 

These extra millions would have made the adminis- 
tration easy. We should never have heard of license 
and income taxes, hateful to the country, however 
equitable in theory ; famine expenditure would not, as 
now, have involved proximate insolvency, and nine- 
tenths of the fiscal measures of the last fifteen years, 
which have created a more or less sore feeling in every 
section and grade of the community, would have been 

Had the country gained by it, we might derive some 
consolation in looking back on this stupendous error. 
But the result has been only to create a multitude of 
absentee landlords and rent-charge holders, and to 
leave the masses, except in particular localities,* 
worse off and more miserable than those of any other 
part of the empire. 

Again, throughout large tracts elsewhere, we have 
created middlemen and converted into joint proprie- 
tors with ourselves men formerly only representatives 
of a community, men anciently only jprimi inter pares, 
collecting for a small honorarium the dues of their 

less tlian 60 millions. Everybody ridiculed the idea, and many 
excellent jokes were made at his expense, hut, three years later, 
the first census was taken, and the population was proved to be 
66 millions. 

* The Mahomedan cultivators of Eastern Bengal, whose turbu- 
lent pugnacity has enabled them to hold their own to a certain 
extent, must be excepted. 

[ 6 ] 

brethren, now lording it as masters, and intercepting 
one-half of the State dues. 

In these and similar cases we are doubtless not now 
getting by perhaps eight millions a year as much as 
we might have done, but for the well-meant errors of 
our predecessors. But these are accomplished facts ; 
they have been built into the very foundations of the 
new social order that has arisen under our rule, and 
no wise or competent ruler could now dream of 
changes in these directions. For good or for evil, 
there they are, and there they must remain, unless 
we desire to shake society to its base and risk the 
overthrow of the fabric on which three generations 
have laboured. 

Broadly speaking, accepting these tenures and sys- 
tems that we have created, and of which we cannot 
and must not even try to rid ourselves, it may be 
safely asserted that we are making as much on the 
whole out of the land as, in its present condition, we 

It is only necessary, at any rate for those who 
understand these questions, to read the more recent 
Settlement Eeports of any of the temporarily-settled 
provinces, such as Bombay, the J^orth- Western Pro- 
vinces, the Punjab, to realise the patience and re- 
search, the care and intelHgence, with which the 
assessment of the Government land revenue is now 

Certainly, making due allowance where settlements 
have been running for some time, for improvements 
that railways, canals, and other less direct causes have 
effected in the value of produce, as a whole we are 

[ 7 ] 

taking as much from the land as we can, consistently 
with not injuring the capital value of our property. 
Like all great works, the workmanship varies some- 
what in quality, and it is only in human nature to err 
at times. Districts, both somewhat under and some- 
what over assessed, might easily be indicated, but 
taking a wide purview no competent authority can 
deny that, conditioned as it is by the irrevocable 
acts of the past, the land revenue administration is, 
on the whole, making as much out of the land as it 
can fairly be expected, as now worked, to yield to 

If, then, our revenue from land is to undergo any 
very marked development, and to bear hereafter that 
proportion to the rest of our revenues that in the 
times gone by it has always borne, it is to an increase 
in the produce of the land, to an. improved system of 
agriculture in fact, that we must look. 

And here it is due to the patient, frugal, and not 
unintelligent husbandmen of India to admit freely 
that, looking to the conditions under which they 
labour, their ignorance of scientific method, and their 
want of capital (and all that capital enables a farmer 
to command), the crops that they do produce are, on 
the whole, surprising. 

So far as rule-of-thumb goes, the experience of 
3,000 years has not been wholly wasted. They know 
to a day when it is best (if only meteorological condi- 
tions permit) to sow each staple and each variety of 
each staple that is grown in their neighbourhood; 
they know the evils of banks and hedges, dwarfing 
the crops on either side and harbouring vermin, and 

[ 8 ] 

will have none of tliem ; they accurately distinguish 
every* variety of soil, and, so far as the crops they 
grow are concerned, the varying properties and capa- 
cities of each; they fully realise the value (though 
they can command but little) of ordinary manure, 
ashes, and the like, and recognise which are most re- 
quired by which kind of crops ; they know the advan- 
tages of ploughing, in most cases as deep as their 
imperfect implements and feeble teams will permit, 
and of thoroughly pulverising the soil ; and they also 
recognise where, with a scanty or no supply of manure, 
it would be folly to break the shallow-lying pan. As 
for weeds, their wheat-fields would, in this respect. 

* Nothing, indeed, is more perplexing than the enormous 
number of names applied by native agriculturists to soils, the 
more so that probably almost every district rejoices in at least a 
dozen purely local names which are unknown elsewhere. There is 
no real confusion, however. Native cultivators as keenly appre- 
ciate the smallest differences in the relative qualities of different 
soils as do the best European farmers, but the fact is that inde- 
pendent of names indicative of the quality of the soil (and often 
to the entire exclusion of these) they make use, in describing their 
land, of names having reference to external conditions, the fre- 
quency or recency of cultivation therein, its situation as regards 
inhabited sites, &c., its position as upland or recently-formed allu- 
vium, its occupation for pasture, fields, or gardens, its external 
features, &c. &c. Nothing is more common than to hear soils 
referred to as such, by names which really only indicate features 
or circumstances altogether external to the soil itself and inde- 
pendent of its intrinsic quality. This is no doubt inaccurate, but 
it is very natural since the value to the agriculturist of any land 
will often depend far more on these external circumstances than 
on the inherent quality of the soil, which latter, moreover, will, as 
time goes on, be often greatly modified by the former, as where 
" hhoor " or light sandy soil, becomes in course of time, by prox- 
imity to a village, constant cultivation and manuring, a kind of 
*• do mut" between garden mould and rich loam. 

[ 9 ] 

shame ninety-nine hundredths of those in Europe. 
You may stand on some high old barrow-like village 
site in Upper India, and look down on all sides on one 
wide sea of waving wheat broken only by dark-green 
islands of mango groves — many, many square miles of 
wheat and not a weed or blade of grass above six 
inches in height to be found amongst it. What is to 
be spied out creeping here and there on the ground is 
only the growth of the last few weeks, since the corn 
grew too high and thick to permit the women and 
children to continue weeding. They know when to 
feed down a too forward crop ; they know the benej&t 
of, and practise, so far as circumstances and poverty 
permit, a rotation of crops. They are great adepts in 
storing grain, and will turn it out of rough earthen 
pits, after twenty years, absolutely uninjured. They 
know the exact state of ripeness to which grain should 
be allowed to stand in different seasons; in other 
words, under different meteorological conditions, to 
ensure its keeping when thus stored ; and equally the 
length of time that, under varying atmospheric con- 
ditions, it should lie upon the open threshing-floor to 
secure the same object. 

Imperfect appliances, superstition, money troubles, 
and the usurer's impatience, often prevent their prac- 
tising what they do know, but so far as what may be 
called non- scientific agriculture is concerned, there is 
little to teach them, and certainly very few European 
farmers could, fettered by the same conditions as our 
ryots, produce better, if as good, crops. 

On the other hand, we must not over-rate their 
knowledge ; it is wholly empirical, and is in many 

[ 10 ] 

parts of tlie country, if not everywHere, greatly 
limited in its application by tradition and superstition. 
Innumerable quaint couplets, to whicli a certain reve- 
rence is attached, deal with agricultural matters. 
These, in Upper India at any rate, are true " house- 
hold words " amongst all tillers of the soil. These 
govern their actions to a great extent, and often lead 
them wrong against their better judgment. They 
take omens of all kinds to guide their choice of crops 
and other operations of husbandry, and though some 
few of the more intelligent only act upon the results 
of these divinations when they coincide with their own 
views, the masses are blindly guided by them. 

So, then, it is not only external disadvantages 
against which the Indian cultivator has to contend, 
it is not only that his knowledge is still in the primary 
experience stage, but that even this knowledge is often 
rendered of no avail by the traditions of anj imme- 
morial religion of agriculture. 

It is necessary to realise* this (of which few Euro- 
peans ever even hear), as it is one great practical 
difficulty against which agricultural reform in India 
will have to contend. 

What other Grovernment is so favoured as that of 
India? A fertile soil, and nine-tenths of it (excluding 
Lower Bengal) still so far the property of the State, 
that the latter can, and does, levy a full rent on all 

* To give some more definite idea of this superstition, a brief 
extract from an unpublished Memoir on the Agriculture of the 
Doab is reproduced as Note A., at the close of this paper. 

[ 11 ] 

of it — a rent whicli it can periodically enhance as 
circumstances enable the land to bear it. 

And yet we are always in difficulty about money.* 
Conceive the Groyernment of Great Britain similarly 
situated, and yet having to levy income taxes, and 
license taxes, and the like. 

Well may the people of India cry out against inno- 
vations like these, and say, '^ the State keeps all the 
land in the country; this ought to suffice for any Gro- 
vernment ; if it does not, the Government, whatever 
its other merits, is too dear at the price." And this 
is the feeling that is slowly, but surely, creeping over 
the face of the empire. It is not the confirmed mal- 
contents only, these must always be numerous in a 
country governed by foreigners; it is equally those 
best affected to our rule who begin to say, " The 
Government means well, it does much for us, it gives 
us peace internally, but this is a poor country, and 
the Government costs too much ! '* 

We must be blind indeed to the teachings of history 
if we cannot, to some extent, foretell to what this 
must ultimately lead. 

Now that the people feel so keenly the costliness of 
the Government is due in some degree to unwise and 
unnecessary expenditure,! but mainly to the fact that 
our land revenue, not having advanced in proportion 

* Tlie writer can remember no period witliin tlie last twenty- 
years, when any attempts to obtain funds for agricultural im- 
provements were not negatived on the ground of financial 

t This is too large a question to enter on here, though one 
branch of it has been glanced at in a later portion of this paper. 

[ 12 ] 

to the growth in other directions of the empire, money 
has had to be raised in ways which, however equit- 
able in principle, are opposed to the traditions and 
repugnant to the feelings of the people. 

Were our land revenue now only thirty instead 
of twenty-two millions, our expenditure might be pre- 
cisely what it is, and yet no one, malcontent or other- 
wise, would ever have grumbled. All the money we 
needed would have been obtained by what the people 
consider constitutional and legitimate means, and so 
long as we adhered to old-established lines and intro- 
duced no new forms of taxation (and we should have 
needed none had our land revenue been what it should) 
we were welcome to spend all we got and, for all the 
masses cared, how we pleased. 

That our land revenue has not kept pace with the 
general development is due to two causes : — 

The first, mistakes in system, already alluded to — 
mistakes now irremediable. 

The second, our absolute neglect, though sole or 
part proprietors of the major portion of the land, to 
attempt the smallest improvement on a primitive sys- 
tem of agriculture, stereotyped two thousand years 
ago, when the conditions and requirements of the 
country were utterly unlike what they are now, and 
when scientific method was undreamt of. 

So long as we hold the country and see a fair pro- 
spect of continuing to hold it for another quarter of a 
century, it can never be too late to repair this second 
error, and the sooner we boldly face the necessity of 
doing this, and take action on a scale commensurate 
with the greatness of the task, the sooner we shall 

[ 13 ] 

extricate ourselves from the trying position in which 
we are now placed, and relieve the country of troubles 
mainly due to our own past, unintentional, misman- 

And here the reader may possibly think that some 
injustice is being done to our administration, and re- 
membering that eight years or so ago a good deal 
was heard of the establishment, under Lord Mayo's 
auspices, of an Agricultural Department in India, may 
ask how the existence of this special department is 
compatible with such an entire neglect of agricultural 
reform as has been asserted. 

The answer is simple : There is not, and never 
has been, any real Agricultural Department in India. 
There is a Miscellaneous Department of the Govern- 
ment of India, which, amongst its various titles, bears 
the word *' Agriculture," but that Department has 
not, and cannot, from the nature of things, exercise 
any potential influence on the agriculture of the 
country quoad which it is a vox et prceterea nihih 

Nothing is more calculated to deter earnest men 
from exerting themselves to secure for India that 
agricultural development of which she stands so 
grievously in need than the belief (erroneous as it is) 
that there already exists a special local organisation 
for this very purpose, and I propose, therefore, to 
explain — 

What the so-called Agricultural Department really 

How, though bearing this title, it has done, and (as 
at present constituted) can do, nothing (worthy the 
name) to reform Indian agriculture ; 

[ 14 ] 

What organisation is necessary to any real and 
efl&cient Department of Agriculture in India, and tlie 
urgent need in which the country stands of this. 

Lastly I shall, by way of illustration, glance at some 
few of the more important problems that would pro- 
bably, at the outset, engage the attention of any such 

What the so-called Department of Agriculture really 
does and has done. 

Although circumstances (to be explained later) had 
deprived Lord Mayo's new department of all claim to 
be considered an Agricultural Bureau, its formation 
marked an era in the history of the country, and 
served a most useful purpose. In it were gathered 
up into one homogeneous whole numberless branches 
of the administration, all more or less potential factors 
in the material progress of the empire. Branches, 
therefore, scattered amongst the different secretariats 
of the Government of India, to be attended to or not, 
as the more obligatory business of these secretariats 
might, from time to time, permit ; and when obtaining 
attention, dealt with too often by ofi&cers necessarily 
possessing neither the special knowledge nor the ex- 
perience essential to their satisfactory direction. 

The administration of the Forest Department was 
transferred from the Public Works Secretariat, and 
with it the immediate control of a large staff. This 
involved the general direction of the demarcation, con- 

[ 15 ] 

servation, and improvement of all State forests in 
the Bengal Presidency, of the supply of timber and 
firewood to State Departments and the general public, 
of the formation of new plantations, the reboisment of 
denuded tracts, and the other very varied operations 
of this extensive Department.* 

From the Military Department was transferred all 
business connected with studs and horse-breeding. 
From the Financial Department the supervision of 
the Department of Inland Customs, and salt matters 
generally, including all correspondence connected — at 
first with the maintenance and guard, and later with 
the gradual abolition,! of the vast customs' barrier, 
then extending across the continent of India from 
above Attock to near Cuttack ; with the working of 
the great salt mines in the Punjab and the Sambhur 

* Although the Secretary possesses some knowledge of forestry, 
and has co-operated cordially with Colonel Pearson, Mr. Baden- 
Powell, and Dr. Brandis, who have successively (the first two 
officiating) held under him the office of Inspector- G-eneral of 
Forests, the real credit for the enormous progress effected in 
forest administration, since the formation of the Revenue, Agricul- 
ture, and Commerce Department, is primarily due to Dr. Brandis, 
the founder, in India, of scientific forestry. 

t This, though the proposal was of old standing, and the mea- 
sure has received the approval, and more or less the support, of 
Lords Lawrence, Mayo, Northbrook, and Lytton, was more 
especially the Secretary's work. Its feasibility depended on the 
negotiation of a series of treaties with numerous native states. 
Writing of this recently, the Secretary of State remarked (De- 
spatch No. 3 of 6th February 1879, para. 8) : — " I entirely concur 
in the high appreciation of Mr. Hume's long and valuable ser- 
vices expressed by your Excellency's G-overnment ; for to him, as 
you observe, is due the initiation, prosecution, and completion of 
that policy which has led to the agreements entered into with the 
several states concerned." 

L 16 ] 

lake, and with all measures relating to ihe security 
and development of the salt revenue in India, and 
the reduction of the price of this necessary to con- 

From the Foreign Department was taken over the 
control of all matters connected with Land Revenue 
and Settlements in the non-regulation provinces ; and 
from the Home Department all similar work pertain- 
ing to the regulation provinces. 

The business thus devolving on the new Depart- 
ment included all questions connected with the settle- 
ment and assessment of the land in all that portion 
of India which is not permanently settled (i.e, nearly 
the whole empire with the exception of the major por- 
tion of Lower Bengal and the Benares division) ; all 
questions connected with waste lands, and their grant 
in lease or fee-simple to European and other settlers ; 
all questions connected with the alienation of the State 
revenue derived from the land ; all questions con- 
nected with the imposition of local taxes and cesses 
on the land, and later, when an Act was passed pro- 
viding for the making of pecuniary advances by the 
State to aid the landholder or cultivator in improving 
his land, all questions connected with the working of 
that Act. 

From the Home Department also, the following 
other branches of work were transferred : — 

Surveys. — Under this head were included the direc- 
tion of the Trigonometrical, Topographical, Revenue, 
and Geological Surveys, and the administration of the 
vast establishments charged with their execution. 
Connected with the Greological Survey were explora- 

[ 17 ] 

tions for minerals, — coal, petroleum, &c., and the 
grant of leases and concessions to individuals or com- 
panies desirous of searching for, or working these in 
various parts of the country. 

Industry, Science, and Art, — Including questions 
connected with the representation of India at Exhibi- 
tions in Europe, America, and Australia ; the hold- 
ing of art and other exhibitions in this country ; the 
general control of museums of natural history and 
economic products of such scientific matters as the 
maintenance of astronomical observatories and the 
arrangements for observing solar eclipses, the transit of 
Yenus, and securing daily photographs of the sun; also 
all questions connected with industrial products, and 
the encouragement and development of local industries. 

Meteorology. — Including the administration of the 
Meteorological Department, and the initiation and 
control of a system for the regular record and weekly 
or daily publication of reports on atmospheric varia- 
tions and the prospects of the seasons. 

Agriculture and Horticulture, — Including the general 
direction and control of model and experimental farms 
and botanic gardens ; the introduction of new products, 
and of improved varieties of those already grown in 
the country ; the introduction of new implements, 
and the improvement of those used by cultivators ; the 
improvement of stock, and the prevention and cure of 
cattle disease; the conduct of operations connected 
with the cultivation of chinch ona and the preparation 
from its bark of a really cheap and efficient febrifuge. 

Fibres and SilJc. — Including all questions connected 
with the improvement of the quality of Indian cotton, 


[ 18 ] 

and the development of fhe trade in it ; tlie improve- 
ment and development of Indian silk, the produce of 
the domesticated as well as of the wild worms ; the 
introduction of suitable machinery for the treatment 
of rheea ; the development of paper-making from fibres 
grown in the country, and the experimental cultivation 
of new or hitherto little known and neglected fibres. 

Fisheries. — The whole of the inland and sea fisheries 
of the different provinces of India were systematically 
inspected and reported upon under the orders of this 
department, and measures taken, where necessary, in 
communication with Local Grovernments, for their con- 
servation. A scientific manual of Indian Fishes by 
Dr. Day was also arranged for and has been pub- 

Port Blair and the Nicobars. — The administration 
of these settlements was vested in this department, 
and remained with it for over a year and a half, when, 
for reasons of administrative convenience, the work 
was retransferred to the Home Department. 

Sanitation, — Questions connected with rural, urban, 
and army sanitation, and the organisation and work- 
ing of the Sanitary Department, and the administra- 
tion of lock hospitals. This work was retransferred 
about twenty-seven months later to the Home Depart- 

Municipalities. — Including all questions connected 
with municipal taxation and municipal government 
generally ; the making of loans to municipalities for 
the execution of projects of local improvement, and 
cognate matters. This work was, after five and a 
half years, retransferred to the Home Department. 

[ 19 ] 

Emigration. — Including the regulation and control 
of emigration from India to British and Foreign colo- 
nies, and correspondence connected with the treatment 
of the emigrants there, and their return to India ; also 
all correspondence connected with emigration to the tea 
districts of Assam, and State schemes of emigration, 
such as the emigration from Bengal to Burmah in 
1874, during the famine in Behar, and the emigration 
of agriculturists to the Central Provinces from other 
over-populated tracts. 

Statistics. — Operations connected with the Weights 
and Measures Act (a dead letter), the taking of the 
census of India, and the preparation of a Gazetteer, 
based on the results of an elaborate statistical survey. 

To all these departments were added ; — 

In 1874 — All correspondence connected with mer- 
chant shipping, lights, buoys, and beacons, ports and 
port dues, pilots and pilotage. 

In the same year — The administration of a new 
department then constituted for the purpose of sur- 
veying systematically all the coasts and harbours of 
India, issuing charts of the same to the public, pub- 
lishing hydrographic notices and notices of dangers to 
navigation, and changes in positions of lights and 
buoys, registers of wrecks, and accounts of light- 
houses and light-vessels. 

In 1875 — The compilation of statistics of trade, sea- 
borne and inland, for the whole empire, their collation 
and prompt publication, with explanatory notices and 
reviews of the figures, involving detailed enquiries 
into the commercial and industrial aspects of the 

2 * 

[ 20 ] 

In 1876 — The administration of the sea customs 
revenue, bringing with it the control of all the custom 
houses, and the discussion of all matters connected 
with the tariff of import and export duties. 


Why the Agricultural Department has not done, and 
never can do {as at present constituted), anything 
material for the improvement of Indian Agriculture, 

The organisation essential to any efficient Bureau of 
Agriculture, and the urgent need in which India stands 
of such a department. 

The above brief resume of the work with which the 
Department of Revenue, Agriculture, and Commerce 
has been charged, and of the very numerous subjects 
dealt with in it, might, to a certain extent, be held to 
explain why so little, comparatively, has been done 
where agriculture is concerned. 

It might, with much show of reason, be argued that 
with such an inordinate variety of questions to deal 
with, with such a vast mass of operations of the most 
diverse kinds, to direct, control, or supervise, no small 
department, with a single Secretary and Under Secre- 
tary, could possibly find time, after disposing of current 
work that inevitably came before it, to make new work, 
such as any effective action in the direction of agricul- 
tural improvement must involve. 

This explanation, this argument, however valid per 
se, would not fully or sufficiently state the case. 

[ 21, ] 

Despite its heavy normal work, this Department has 
found the time to introduce more or less important 
reforms in the majority of the other branches with 
which it is supposed to deal. It has continually, and 
it is believed usefully, made new work for itself and 
carried out that work. It is in agriculture only that 
the Department, conceived originally mainly as an 
instrument for agricultural reform, has done next to 
nothing, and the reasons for this lamentable anomaly 
are to be sought for in causes widely different from 
the mere pressure of other work. 

Though originally designated the Department of 
Agriculture, &c., this Department has never, from the 
first, been so constituted as to permit of its dealing 
either directly or efficiently with agricultural matters. 

Lord Mayo's conception was one thing, the sadly 
modified scheme that as the result of vehement oppo- 
sition he was compelled to accept, another. Lord 
Mayo accepted this as a sort of instalment, as a grant 
of ground on which he might later build what was 
necessary, but no one was more thoroughly alive to 
the fact than himself, that in the shape in which his 
cherished project ultimately saw the light, it afforded 
little or no prospect of material improvement in agri- 
culture. He believed that in a few years this might 
all be changed, and had he lived, this might have been 
so, but he fully realised the position, and his invari- 
able reply to protests on this subject were : " We 
must have patience ; it will all come right." 

Lord Mayo clung, however, to the idea of ultimately 
making this reall}^ a Department of Agriculture, but 
the Secretary of State did not approve of even this. 

[ 22 ] 

Lord Majo named it the Department of Agricul- 
ture, Eevenue, and Commerce. The Secretary of State 
objected to this, said that Revenue, and not Agricul- 
ture, was the main object of the Department, and 
ordered the name to be altered* to " Revenue, Agri- 
culture, and Commerce." 

Lord Mayo selected as head of the Department, an 
officer whom, from his own thoroughf knowledge of 
the subject, he ascertained to be well versed in prac- 
tical European agriculture, who had, for his own in- 
formation and amusement, farmed in a small experi- 

* Extract paras. 3 and 4 of a despatch (No. 27 of tlie 3rd 
August 1871) of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for India, to 
His Excellency the Governor- General of India in Council. 

" 3. I consider, however, that the change that has been made in 
the designation enjoined in paragraph 20 of my despatch of the 
22nd September 1870, No. 61, by transposing the words Revenue 
and Agriculture, is objectionable, as giving rise to the notion that 
the revenue subjects, which are undoubtedly of the first import- 
ance, are not so esteemed by the authorities in this country or in 
India. Of such paramount importance are these subjects, that it 
is obviously necessary that the officer appointed to the post of 
Secretary in this Department should always be chosen on account 
of his knowledge of the subjects connected with revenue, rather 
than from any knowledge which he may possess of agricultural or 
commercial matters. 

" 4. I must, therefore, direct you to revert to the title settled 
by my despatch above alluded to, which, indeed, is the designation 
most frequently made use of by your Excellency in Council in the 
Resolution of the 6th of June." 

t Lord Mayo was probably the only Governor- General who has 
farmed for a livelihood and made a living out of it. "When he 
came of age (he was then Mr. Bourke), his father (whose elder 
brother was still living) could not afford to make him any allow- 
ance, but rented to him one of his farms to make what he could 
out of it. This Lord Mayo farmed himself (" Many a day," he 
used to say, " have I stood the livelong day in the market selling 
my beasts,") and made enough out of it to enable him to attend 
Parliament regularly from after Easter to the end of the Session. 

[ 23 ] 

mental way throughout his many years of service in 
India as a District Officer, and who was fairly conversant 
with all the then more modern German and English 
writings on the theory and practice of agriculture. 

The Secretary of State remarked (replying as it were 
ofl&cially to what Lord Mayo had written to him on 
this subject privately or demi-ofl&cially) that the next 
head of the Department was to be chosen for his 
knowledge of revenue and not of agricultural matters. 

It will be seen, therefore, that, as constituted, this 
Department never was, and never was intended by 
the Home Government to be, a Department of Agri- 
culture. Lord Mayo hoped to convert it into this, 
but with his death India lost the warmest, most com- 
petent, and, at the same time, most influential advo- 
cate for agricultural reform, j^o change, such as he 
contemplated, has ever been made in the constitution 
of the Department, and succeeding administrations 
have only made the official bonds more rigid, and con- 
verted its chief more and more thoroughly into a mere 
desk-tied Secretary. 

A Secretariat is under no circumstances the form 
of organisation best suited to the promotion of agri- 
cultural development. Still even a Secretariat might 
do much if it possessed three needful adjuncts : 

(1.) Competent advisers, not tied to an office, but 
able to move about, collect and digest the necessary 
facts, and put schemes before it in a shape in which 
sound decisions can be arrived at. 

(2.) A qualified agency, either of its own, or belong- 
ing to administrations subordinate to it, to give effect 
to its decisions. 

[ 24 ] 

(3.) Money to expend in giving effect to these and 
in experiments, &c. 

The Department of Revenue, &c., has nevey- had any 
one of these three requisites at its command. 

The only person connected with it from first to last 
who has possessed any knowledge of both the theory 
and practice of agriculture has been the Secretary, who 
has had always from eight to ten hours a day (and 
often much more) office work, and who for ten years 
has barely seen a field, except from the train, on the 
occasion of the half-yearly migration of the Govern- 
ment of India between Simla and Calcutta. 

It has never had any agency, though the creation 
of a Directorship of Agriculture in the North- Western 
Provinces in recent years has at last originated a 
nucleus in 07ie province out of which such an agency 
will, it is to be hoped, develop. Last, but not least, 
it has had no money. 

How it comes that the Government should have no 
money to spend on improving the one branch of in- 
dustry to which it chiefly owes its revenue, will be 
briefly discussed further on. At present it is sufficient 
to say that it had not the money to give. There was 
no illiberality. Without a fundamental alteration in 
its entire policy, no Government, situated as ours has 
been, could have given for agricultural reform any- 
thing that would have been of material use. 

Constituted therefore and carried on under these 
conditions, no one possessing any real insight into 
what is required could ever have expected from this 
Department any very tangible results in the way of 
agricultural reform. 

[ 25 ] 

Its possible sphere of action in this direction was 
limited to a degree that rendered almost nugatory any 
efforts it might make. 

Still it never abandoned the tradition of what its 
ultimate object was intended to be. What little did 
fall within its reach it dealt with in the best fashion 
that its means and appliances permitted. 

But what little it may have done (and of this a 
brief account will be found in the appendix, note B.) 
is to what is requisite, if any tangible results are to 
be secured within any reasonable period, as the scratch- 
ings of sparrows* feet to deep ploughing. 

And the soil we have to deal with is the stiffest of 
clay : an indigenous agriculture, that no frost of our 
disapproval will disintegrate; self-coherent from the 
intermixture of the traditions and superstitions, almost 
a religion in themselves, of innumerable past ages. 

If this Department has succeeded in some solitary 
instance in doing a minute amount of good in such 
matters, it is much as though a grain falling by chance 
into the little bird's tracts, and favoured by unusual 
fortune, gave rise to a solitary plant boasting some 
few good ears, and bears to what it ought to have ac- 
complished had it been properly constituted much the 
same proportion that those straggling ears do to the 
massive yield of some adjacent well-ploughed field. 

What that proper constitution would have been 
may, perhaps, be gathered by looking back to what 
Lord Mayo first contemplated ; to what he would have 
carried out had the decision rested entirely with him. 

Lord Mayo's original conception of this Department 
was as a purely agricultural bureau, presided over im- 

[ 26 ] 

mediately by a Director-Greneral of Agriculture and 
not by a Secretary. He considered the subject too 
great to admit of its being satisfactorily dealt with, 
unless the best man available gave it his entire time 
and thoughts. He intended the Director- General to 
be supreme in his own Department, and only nominally 
attached for official purposes to one or other Secreta- 
riat, in the same way as the Director-General of Post 
Offices is practically supreme in all departmental 
matters, though nominally attached to the Financial 

The Director-General was to have immediately under 
him a small staff of experts, and was to keep up only 
just such an office as was absolutely unavoidable. 
There was to be as little writing and as much actual 
work as possible. Directors of Agriculture were to 
be appointed in each province, also to be aided by ex- 
perts. They were to work partly through the direct 
agency of farms* and agricultural schools, and partly 
through the revenue officials of all grades down to the 
village accountants. The Director- General was to be 

* By farms are to be liere -understood real model farms on care- 
fully selected sites, presided over by picked experts, and liberally 
supjplied with funds and all requisite appurtenances. No plots of 
waste, sucb as of late years have almost universally done duty as 
model farms, waste brought roughly under cultivation by amateurs 
or florists, who never enjoyed a single day's real training in either 
theoretical or practical agriculture, and never had at their com- 
mand more than a fraction of the funds requisite, if justice was to 
be done to their charges. That these gentlemen and their so- 
called farms were unsuccessful was surely their misfortune, not 
their fault, and they deserve, most of them, much credit for doing 
their best. But let no one gauge the capacity for good, in solving 
agricultural problems and in imparting agricultural knowledge, of 
well organized model farms by these failures. 

[ 27 ] 

moving about generally whilst tlie crops were on the 
ground. He was to confer personally with all the Pro- 
vincial Directors and their Governments, go thoroughly 
with the aid of his staff into all their projects and 
schemes, make himself fully acquainted with local 
wants and wishes, and then during the hot season join 
the Government of India, and lay before it as suc- 
cinctly as possible all that was desired with his (and 
his experts') opinions and recommendations. He was 
to watch closely all the schemes and experiments car- 
ried out by the Provincial Directors, to furnish them 
with suggestions, information, and advice ; to procure 
for them, if they wished it, chiefly through the Agri- 
cultural Societies of Europe and America, any infor- 
mation, seeds, cattle, sheep, models of implements, &c., 
that they required ; to keep all fully informed through 
the medium of his journal of what all the rest were 
doing; and as his experience and practical knowledge 
increased, and alternate failures and successes gra- 
dually indicated these, to lay down the broad lines of 
the general policy in regard to agricultural matters that 
the Government should pursue. 

In connection with the Provincial Directors were to 
be model and experimental farms, which were to be 
at the same time agricultural schools of one grade or 
another, some of the farms being more specially de- 
voted to the improvement of seed by selection, others 
to the introduction and acclimatisation of exotic 
staples, others to the trial of implements and mecha- 
nical appliances, others to stock-breeding, others to 
the purposes of tuition, and so on. Mechanical engi- 
neers were to be employed in connection with some of 

[ 28 ] 

these farms and schools, whose special duty it was to 
be to adapt the results (where implements of all 
kinds were concerned) of European and American 
science, to the wants and means of the Indian hus- 
bandman. At first the best civil officers available 
were to be picked out as Directors, and the best avail- 
able trained European agriculturists were to be got 
out to direct the schools and farms, and act as advi- 
sers to the Director- Greneral and Directors. Conti- 
nuity was to be secured by making the service one ; 
Directors were to be promoted to Director- General, 
experts and heads of farms and schools were to be 
promoted to Directorships. G-radually, as the expert 
element acquired knowledge of the country, people, 
and language, the non-expert element of civilians was 
to be allowed to disappear. There was to be consti- 
tuted a compact agricultural service in two divisions, 
the lower and larger one recruited entirely from the 
Indian schools, the smaller and higher division re- 
cruited to a certain extent from the lower, but, at any 
rate for many years, mainly from home. 

Under the Director-General a Journal of Agricul- 
ture was to be issued. A separate and competent 
editor was to be employed, but the Director- General 
was to be responsible, and he was to secure for it the 
aid of all his own and all the Provincial Agricultural 
Officers. The collection of agricultural statistics was 
to be the work of the local Directors, but the further 
tabulation of these statistics, and the preparation from 
the provincial reports of a monthly or fortnightly 
summary of the prospects and progress of the crops on 
the model of those issued by the Bureau at Washing- 

[ 29 ] 

ton — then, I believe, a new thing — was to be done by 
the Director- Greneral or his immediate subordinates. 
The prices in Europe and elsewhere of important arti- 
cles of Indian produce in which no trade already existed, 
were to be carefully enquired into by the Director, 
and published from time to time, and, if necessary, ex- 
perimental shipment of articles in which a profitable 
trade seemed probable, undertaken. As the scheme 
developed itself, Government revenue oflBcials were to 
be instructed to use their utmost endeavours to lead 
the landholders of each district to constitute Agricul- 
tural Associations ; they were to be urged and encou- 
raged to send some of their relatives to the schools. 
Exhibitions were to be held, prizes given, and every 
effort made to give dignity in the eyes of the- natives 
to the pursuit of agricultural science. But nothing 
of this was to be attempted until some distinct suc- 
cess had been achieved which could be pointed to as 
proof that we had really something to teach, which it 
would pay to learn. 

There were a great many other details, but these 
do not call for recapitulation here, even were this pos- 
sible. The above sufficiently indicates the main out- 
lines of Lord Mayo's original scheme. 

All experience in other branches of the administra- 
tion, in Forests, Post Offices, Telegraphs, Education, 
Surveys, leads irresistibly to the conclusion that Lord 
Mayo's first idea was the right one, and that until some 
such distinct and thoroughly homogeneous organisa- 
tion is here created for this express purpose, no very 
perceptible or remunerative improvement in Indian 
agriculture can be looked for. 

[ 30 ] 

But the present Secretary of this Department, at 
that time residing with Lord Mayo, and with whom 
he discussed all the details repeatedly, prepared an 
estimate, the best he could then furnish, of the cost 
of carrying out such a scheme, including Director- 
General and seven Directors, and their staffs and 
offices, and forty model farms, with schools or colleges 
of one grade or another attached, contingencies and 
plant, &c. &c., showing that the net expenditure when 
the scheme was in full play would amount to nearly 
25 lakhs of rupees (£250,000) a year, independent of 
an initial, virtually unreproductive, outlay for offices 
and buildings of possibly not less than 25 lakhs 

Lord Mayo, when convinced that this estimate 
(avowedly tentative) was in the main not a grossly ex- 
aggerated one, considered the whole thing as utterly 
hopeless, and fixed his mind on carrying a much more 
modest and admittedly imperfect scheme, to serve as 
a beginning, a peg to which as time went on all else 
could be by degrees appended. Even this idea was 
greatly modified before the scheme was officially put 
forth ; this, again, was met with perhaps the most 
strenuous opposition any long-considered project of a 
Viceroy, himself a practical expert in the particular 
subject, ever encountered, and when at the last the 
Department was created, it had lost every one of the 
essential characters on which its possible success as a 
Bureau of Agriculture was absolutely dependent. It 
has done, it is hoped and believed, some good and use- 
ful work in other branches, but as regards agriculture 
it was and still remains virtually impotent. 

[ 31 ] 

That from the traditional and lon^-established Indian 
administrative point of view, Lord Mayo was right in 
considering the expenditure likely to be involved pro- 
hibitive, no experienced Indian oflScial will deny. But 
the question remains whether from the earliest period 
of our rule our administration, as regards this most 
important matter, has not been utterly and funda- 
mentally wrong ; whether we have not systematically 
ignored the gold at our door-steps, while we moved 
heaven and earth to scrape together copper from all 
quarters of the globe ; whether our present position, 
as regards local agriculture, after so long a period of 
rule, is not the very most conspicuous blot on our ad- 
ministration ; and whether many of the more serious of 
our internal troubles, past and present, debt, famine, 
and discontent, have not been mainly and directly due 
to the long-continued failure to realise what is alike our 
duty and our interest, where agriculture is concerned. 

Our mighty military expenditure has always been 
(whatever people unacquainted with the country may 
think) to a very great extent beyond our control. 
The exigencies of our position, and the irrepressible 
growth of our empire, have been such as to render 
impracticable any great reduction in this item. 

But in our civil expenditure, which really was within 
control, we have, with the best of intentions, mis- 
applied too large a share of the limited funds available. 

We have gone on elaborating in every branch highly 
organised systems of administration which were alike 
beyond the wants and the wealth of our Indian 

So long as the masses of the population remained 

[ 32 ] 

as poor, and therefore necessarily as ignorant, as they 
still are, all that was needed was a rough system of 
patriarchal administration, a purified and somewhat 
systematised reproduction of the native rule that we 
replaced, a development of the then existing (now 
unfortunately almost extinct) system of local self- 
government by juries, and a rigid repression of all 
crimes of violence. Under such a form of govern- 
ment, and it has existed for a time in almost every 
province we have acquired, the people have ever been 
more contented and better satisfied with their lot than 
under any of the more advanced and Europeanised 
forms that have later always displaced it. 

Had one-fourth only of what has been expended in 
developing the existing elaborate and unpopular sys- 
tem of civil administration been steadily and judi- 
ciously employed in the improvement of agriculture, 
had even only the same energy and the same funds 
been devoted to this purpose, that have been devoted 
to the cause of education, the people would now be 
comparatively wealthy, famines would have been 
greatly limited in area, and their pressure, even 
within these narrowed limits, greatly lessened, and 
there would have been no necessity for those un- 
popular cesses, license taxes, and the like, which, 
however inevitable, create equally inevitable discon- 
tent, and the land revenue of the country, our main 
source of income, would have stood at at least 30* per 
cent, above its present level. 

* If the produce were increased by 50 per cent., we could double 
our land revenue, and yet leave all classes dependent on the land 
better off than they are now. 

[ 33 ] 

Without undervaluing anything that has been done, 
above all in the direction of education, it can scarcely 
be denied that the first essential is to fill the stomachs 
of the people, and that a certain degree of material 
comfort, considerably in excess of what the masses of 
the population now enjoy, must be attained before 
any real necessity can exist for elaborate* systems of 
civil administration. That we have spent our money 
in these rather than in promoting what would have 
simultaneously enriched the people and the Govern- 
ment, in a degree that no other conceivable measure 
could approach, must be held to have been a most 
grievous error. 

That with proper manuring and proper tillage, 
every acre, broadly speaking, of land in the country 
can be made to yield 30, 50, 70 per cent, (according 

* In a recent debate (7tli May 1879) in the Imperial Legislative 
Council, the Hon. Mr. Cockerell remarked: — 

" For an elaborate Code of Procedure naturally not only pro- 
moted an increase of litigation, but also tended in a still more 
marked degree to enhance the time occupied in the disposal of 
every contested suit. The Secretary to the Government of the 
North-West Provinces, in a letter addressed to the Grovernment of 
India relating to this measure, wrote : — 

" ' Although /Sir George Couper has always been strongly in favour 
of the non-regulation system, he must admit that, owing to various 
causes, it is now out of date. It is enough to mention one fact; 
and that is, the number of legal practitioners who practise in our 
Courts. Formerly the parties appeared in person, and the Judge 
had little difficulty in ascertaining the facts of the case. Now, in a 
great number of suits, the parties are represented by barristers or 
pleaders ; it is not only much more difficult to get at the bottom of 
the case, but a great deal of time is tahen up by the arguments of the 
lawyers ; and it is no exaggeration to say that a case which would 
formerly have been disposed of in one hour now often occupies the 
Court for two days.' " 


[ 34 J 

to circumstances) more of every kind of crop than it 
at present produces, and this with a fully correspond- 
ing increase in the profits of cultivation, is a patent fact 
that the writer has proved with almost every common 
North-Western Provinces' crop, that Mr. Eobertson 
has proved with most of the Southern Indian staples, 
that has been in fact established as well as any point 
can be, until the masses prove it for themselves. 

But — and this is the explanation of the apparent 
apathy that has ever left our most important source 
of revenue, the only one capable of very great de- 
velopment, absolutely, if I may use the phrase, uncul- 
tivated — the immense majority of officials in India 
never have, and do not to this day in the least believe 
it, while the very few who do realise it as an abstract 
truth, stand aghast at the gigantic nature of the task 
involved in securing the supply and use of this proper 
manure and recourse to this proper tillage. 

It is, however, just to pick to pieces a formidable 
obstacle like this, that looms so portentous when 
viewed from a distance and en masse, and to demolish 
it in detail, that a special and skilled agency is re- 

And, whatever the expense involved, it would seem 
that, looking to the enormous magnitude of the mere 
pecuniary interests at stake and the almost over- 
whelming necessities that oppress us, we should, we 
must, have that agency. 

After all, a healthy equilibrium of the finances is a 
primary condition of the well-being of the State. Can 
anything be more gloomy than our financial jDrospects? 
More money we must have ; much more as time goes 

[ 35 ] 

on ; look round on all possible sources of income 
and say Lvhere there is any hope of such a material 
increment as, in the face of an ever-falling exchange, 
would relieve our anxieties on this score. 

From the opium revenue, long threatened, but like 
threatened men living long, we can at best expect no 
permanent material increase. Insolvent as we are, an 
Imperial policy demands the reduction of our customs 
duties. Stamps and excise might each yield some 
trifling increment, but the former at a greater cost, 
perhaps, where the true interests of the people are 
concerned, than it would be worth. Three or four 
extra millions might be on a temporary emergency 
extracted from salt, without much local . dissatisfac- 
tion, but only in direct opposition to the policy which 
the Grovernment have so earnestly avowed. Lastly, 
by additional direct taxation, a couple or even three 
millions extra might be raised, but not without creat- 
ing the most widespread discontent that any accident 
might develop into a costly outbreak or series of 

We have really only the land to look to, and here, 
though we have for generations steadily refused to 
see it, the gold lies thickly for the gathering. 

It is one of those incomprehensible instances of de- 
termined national blindness of which history records 
too many similar examples, but it is a fact that, land- 
lords of an estate, let on comparatively short leases, 
with a gross rental of seventeen millions,* with the 

* I exclude about four and a half millions, the revenue derived 
from permanently settled and quit-rent estates. 

3 * 

[ 36 ] 

full knowledge that the great mass of our land is 
yielding less than two-thirds of what it should and 
would if properly cultivated, we absolutely in prac- 
tice refuse to take one single material step towards 
remedying this lamentable waste of our property. 

We spend millions on the minds and morals of our 
fellow-subjects, but shrink, as if from a crime, from 
spending a quarter of a million on what would bring 
to each that full quota of daily food they need, and 
which the masses now never enjoy for any twelve 
consecutive months, and with this would relieve the 
State of the existing all over-shadowing financial 

Here, in improved agriculture, lies the one reason- 
able hope of extricating ourselves from our difficul- 
ties, and our present apparently almost hopeless 
financial position offers the most irresistible argument 
against further delay. 

So long as things went fairly smooth with us, as we 
could drift along after a fashion and pay our way, our 
neglect of this great source of revenue might, looking 
to the formidable difficulties which undoubtedly sur- 
round the question, be only weak and foolish, but 

* I need scarcely point out that it would not only be directly 
as regards the food of the people and their land revenue that im- 
proved agriculture would operate. Increased production would 
involve an increase in exports, and pro tanto probably some dimi- 
nution of the exchange burthen. It means an increase of imports, 
and a relief to manufacturing interests at home, who then might 
realise (hungry men can rarely stop to be rigidly honest about the 
food they grasp) the true merits of their recent cry and leave us 
the remnants of our customs. In a dozen ways, it would act and 
re-act beneficially. 

[ 37 ] 

now, when herein appears to lie our sole hope of re- 
newed prosperity, to hesitate longer would be criminal. 

Unfortunately, while none will deny our necessities, 
few, very few, are competent at this stage to realise 
the certainty of the ultimate success of the proposed 
remedy. Of those even who clearly admit the theo- 
retic truth of the proposition, the vast majority will 
at once recur to innumerable practical difficulties, and 
if we are not prepared with immediate answers for 
each, abandon the whole project as impracticable, for- 
getting that it is just to sift these difficulties, to 
gather the right facts in regard to, and bring a 
scientific method of solution to bear upon them, that 
we in the first instance require the powerful organisa- 
tion suggested. 

The best European experts, selected specially with 
reference to the peculiar qualifications required for our 
purposes here, and working hand in hand with the 
ablest of our Indian Revenue and Irrigation Officers, 
will unquestionably meet with difficulties at every step ; 
but nothing is more certain than that all such difficul- 
ties must disappear when attacked in a thoroughly 
systematic and scientific method. 

No matter how complicated and ill-conditioned the 
knot, the patient tracing out of each string reveals 
the point where the first advance may be successfully 
made, and this done, the next and the next *' follow 
fast and follow faster," till all that once seemed so 
tangled becomes smooth and straight. 

But this absolute certainty of ultimate success, of a 
success yielding results beyond what the majority 
would now even dare to hope for, is in no degree in- 

[ 38 ] 

compatible witli a full realisation of tlie difficulties 
that do at present bar its attainment. 

No magic transformation can be looked for. With 
tlie most careful selections, the utmost energy and 
good will on the part of all concerned, three or four 
years must elapse before, with an organisation such as 
is proposed, the men will have really settled down to 
their work, and perhaps as many more before all the 
most important problems, first demanding solution, 
will have been clearly marked out. Even then it may 
be only slowly that with silent fingers Science will 
unpick the knots, and if as, without being in any de- 
gree sanguine, we may fairly expect, after twenty 
years' work, and after spendiug four or five mil- 
lions, the main obstacles have been ' overcome, a 
thorough reform effected in the agriculture of par- 
ticular localities, and the people as a whole awakened 
to what can be and has been done in this way, we 
shall have made the best investment that ever landed 
proprietor did. 

It will be said that five millions is an enormous 
sum. But then the return is certain ; it may be more 
or less delayed, but it is the one investment that will, 
we know, return cent, per cent, and more. 

It is as though one were sinking a shaft to a bed of 
coal, the depth, quality, and extent of which have 
been ascertained. It may be far to sink, and some 
very hard beds to cut through, and here tools break, 
and there new tools have to be specially designed for 
the particular work, and the water is troublesome, and 
some of the beds very loose, and so on ; it may be a 
little sooner or a little later, but we go on, neither 

[ 39 ] 

grudging time nor expense, because we are certain, 
from our ascertained facts, that when we do get the 
coal, it will repay us tenfold all we can have possibly 
expended in reaching it. 

It is not, however, as the sole practicable means of 
materially increasing our revenues and ultimately re- 
storing our finances to a healthy position that energetic 
action in improving agriculture in India may be 
insisted on. 

On the contrary, not only is this necessary if we 
desire any large increase of our land revenue, but it ih 
equally so if we desire to avoid a material diminution 
of this hereafter. 

Notwithstanding the enormous additional areas 
brought under cultivation, notwithstanding our vast 
irrigation schemes, and our improved and really ad- 
mirable systems of settlement, our land revenue 
(excluding Burmah, still almost virgin soil, and making 
allowances for annexations, such as those of Oudh, 
the Punjab, &c.) has, if the rise of prices be taken 
into account, remained stationary, if it has not actually 
decreased. Yet the agricultural masses (there are 
more of them, no doubt) are, to say the least, neither 
wealthier nor better fed, taking the country as a whole, 
than they were seventy years ago. 

The sole explanation is, that the older tilled lands, 
as a body, yield now lighter crops than they formerly 

This is what almost every experienced and intelligent 
cultivator in Upper India will tell you is the fact in 
regard to all but that little circle of fields skirting each 
inhabited site, which gets the great bulk of what little 

[ 40 ] 

manure is available. This, too, miglit be gathered by 
comparing what was reckoned in the '' Ain Akbari" as a 
full yield for several descriptions of crops in the Agra, 
Muttra, Mynpooree, and Etawah districts (in regard 
to whicli the Emperor's information must have been 
accurate), with the known yield in these same localities 
at the present time.* 

But it seems needless to dwell on arguments of this 
nature, which are always liable to be directly traversed 
by people who have no real knowledge of the question, 
which from the complication of factors combining to 
produce any crop, in any field, in any season, requires 
not only a multitude of investigations, but their intel- 
ligent manipulation by an expert to establish them 
(and even then carry no conviction to the generality 
of minds), when we can prove from the nature of 
things that such must be the case. 

Owing to a variety of causes, some of which may 
be touched on in the next section, agriculture in India 
has become, and becomes daily, more and more what 
Liebig happily designated a system of spoliation. 
Deep as the purse may have been, and rich as much 
of our soil unquestionably was, it is clear that a time 

* As the result of scores of careful personal experiments carried 
out in the Allyghur, Mynpooree, and Etawah districts, the writer 
would state fourteen bushels an acre of wheat to be a high average 
for good fields, i.e. fields with which their cultivators are faii-ly 
satisfied ; in other words, for the more successful fields, of the best 
land, which alone is used for wheat. The " Ain Akbari" gives 
nineteen bushels as an average yield in those days. I need not 
say how far both these figures fall short of the yield of well-tilled 
first-class lands, in East Norfolk for instance. 

[ 41 J 

must arrive wlien, by continually taking out a great 
deal and putting back very little, both purse and soil 
are exhausted. 

Unlike the European peasant, the Indian husband- 
man more or less fully realises the evils of this system ; 
it is only on compulsion that he robs his mother soil, 
and it is only in comparatively quite recent times that 
this spoliation has acquired the alarming intensity that 
now characterises it. 

Only fifty years ago, when jungles and grazing 
grounds abounded, when cattle were more numerous, 
when much wood was available as fuel, there was 
actually a much greater amount of manure available 
and a very much smaller number of fields on which to 
spread it. 

The evil is a growing one, it is one of gigantic 
magnitude, and though, like all great causes, it ope- 
rates slowly, no one who has really watched agricul- 
ture for years in this country can doubt that its effects 
are already showing far and wide ; no one who under- 
stands the question can doubt that they will develop 
with most disastrously increasing virulence as years 
run on. 

Here, again, is a question in regard to which there 
can be no doubt. How quickly or how slowly a per- 
petually cropped and rarely, and then only scantily, 
manured field will become thoroughly exhausted and 
unculturable, depends, of course, on what we may 
term the original capital of that field, and on the pro- 
portion that may exist between the disbursements and 
receipts, but it being admitted that the former are 
and have been for years greatly in excess of the latter. 

[ 42 ] 

and that this disproportion is increasing, the ultimate 
result is certain. 

That the gradual (and perhaps later suddenly rapid) 
deterioration of the major portion of our cultivated 
lands is, unless a totally new system be inaugurated, 
inevitably impending, can be denied by no one con- 
versant with the subject. 

It is impossible for Government to disbelieve this ; 
they may think, and perhaps rightly, that it will last 
their time, but they cannot doubt as to what they are 
preparing for their successors. 

And it is not as in other countries, where the land 
is private property. It is its own land that Grovern- 
ment is allowing to go to ruin, its own financial blood 
that it lets run to waste. This is the sole goose that 
ever would or could lay golden eggs for us, and we are 
smiling as it is slowly starved before us, and will 
not make a single effort worthy of the name to arrest 
the catastrophe. 

Yet again, from another and distinct source, ruin 
and desolation, more palpable and speedy in its course, 
though more limited in its operation, await vast tracts 
in Northern India, unless the voice of reason can gain 
a hearing and science be allowed to guide agriculture. 

In Oudh, the Panjab, and the North- West Pro- 
vinces, the soils mostly contain an appreciable admix- 
ture of saline particles. With the construction of 
high-level canals, the subsoil water level is raised, the 
surface flooded, the earth yields up its soluble salts to 
the water, which again restores them (but on the sur- 
face) as it passes away in vapour. At first the result 
may be good, and marvellous are the crops that have 

[ 43 ] 

been raised in tlie Doab on the first introduction of 
canal irrigation, owing to the first slender doses of 
potash and chloride of sodium. 

But nature works on blindly and unceasingly. The 
water below searches out one by one each soluble par- 
ticle in excess of the particular soil's capacity of re- 
tention, and, as it slowly creeps up by capillary 
attraction, leaves these ever behind ib on the surface. 

Time passes on, some crops begin to be unprofitable ; 
in the hottest time of the year, a glimmer as though 
of a hoar frost overspreads the land. The land grows 
worse and worse, but ever night and day nature works 
slowly on, and the time comes when, abandoned by 
the cultivator, the land glitters white and waste as 
though thickly strewn with crisp, new-fallen snow ; 
never, alas ! to melt away, except under the rays of 

Along the little old Western Jumna Canal, thou- 
sands of fields are to be seen thus sterilised. Along 
the course of the mighty Ganges Canal — a work as it 
were but of yesterday — the dreary wintry-looking 
rime is already in many places creeping over the 

Come it quickly or come it slowly, the ultimate 
result here also is certain ; and, unless a radical 
change is effected in existing arrangements, we know, 
as definitely as we know that the sun will rise to-mor- 
row, that the time must come when some of the richest 
arable tracts in Northern India will have become 
howling saline deserts. 

The task, no doubt, looked at from a distance, seems 
almost a hopeless one, but when it is more closely 

[ 44 ] 

examined, and when we fully realise tlie vast strength 
of our revenue and irrigation establislinients tlirough- 
out all those portions of the empire in which we have 
the most direct interest in the progress of agriculture,* 
it will be perceived that the plant for much of the 
work is already on the ground, and that all that is 
primarily necessary is an efficient directing and con- 
trolling agency. 


Some of the problems that ivould at the outset engage 
the attention of an Indian Bureau of Agriculture. 

Assuming that now, at last., some real steps will be 
taken in the direction of agricultural reform, it may 
be useful to glance at some few of those problems 
which should apparently at the outset engage the 
attention of any working department of agriculture 
in India, t 

* In Lower Bengal no doubt these establishments are weak, 
but then the land revenue is here permanently settled, and we 
have not the same immediate pecuniary interest in the reform of 
agriculture there. 

t I have no doubt that many will be inclined to urge that 
Agricultural education — a kind of education infinitely more needed 
than the education in Law and Letters, now given at such a vast 
cost in our Colleges and Universities — is one of the first things 
to be undertaken, and that Agricultural manuals and text-books, 
with object lessons in elementary schools, &c., are primary essen- 

But this is not my view — these things, good as they are, belong 
to a more advanced stage of progress. 

At the outset, the Agricultural Department will have mainly to 
teach itself. Scientific truths are immutable, but their profitable 

[ 45 ] 

First and foremost unquestionably stands the in- 
creased provision of manure, not merely because tliis 
is the crying want of Indian agriculture, but because 
unavoidably any practicable arrangement for supplying 
this want must at the same time supply many other 
minor ones. 

We may pass lightly over the first branch of this 
subject, viz. the introduction of the Chinese system, 
because though by the help of combined tact and 
authority, kindness, patience, and gentle pressure, it 
could even now be introduced, in two or three years, 
into any small, well-supervised tract, and thence 
spread gradually over the entire empire, every one 
conversant with agricultural literature knows all about 
it, and knows that it would in India need for its sup- 
port legislation, and a happy combination of enthu- 
siasm and discretion in working the law, that at the 
present time is scarcely to be expected. 

application demands a thorough knowledge of the entire environ- 
ment of the particular position, a thorough comprehension of 
local conditions, and we cannot usefully begin to teach natives 
the theory of Agriculture until we have first taught ourselves (and 
are, therefore, in a position to teach them also) how, under the 
peculiar local conditions, of India and different provinces of 
India, we can advantageously give practical effect to that theory. 

I may add, though this is a distinct but germane question, that 
I believe in teaching botany, vegetable physiology, chemistry, and 
geology in schools, and practical farming on a farm ; I do not ad- 
vocate mixing up the two. For the great mass a practical training 
and the enforcement, as axiomatic rules of action, of certain defi- 
nite maxims and precepts, is all-sufficient. To the few whose 
capacities are of a higher order, or whom circumstances call to a 
higher position, a thorough scientific education should be first 
given, and then they should, in a distinct institution, be ini- 
tiated in the full practice of what they have already mastered in 

[ 46 ] 

Undoubtedly the introduction of this system which, 
while hugely benefiting agriculture, would perhaps do 
more than any other conceivable measure to restrict 
the ravages of cholera, should never be lost sight of. 
Its importance cannot be over-rated, but the immediate 
difficulties to be encountered, and the prejudices to be 
overcome, are (or seem to be, for this may be partly a 
chimera) so great that action in this direction may 
reasonably be postponed while there is so much else 
immediately practicable to be done. 

Setting this aside, the main causes of the scarcity 
of manure are the comparative paucity of cattle, and 
the almost universal use of their dung as fuel. 

The paucity of cattle is due almost entirely to the 
incredible losses of stock sustained from starvation 
and different forms of cattle disease. The consump- 
tion of their droppings as fuel is due to the impossi- 
bility, in some places, or expense, in others, of 
procuring wood. 

Over a great portion of the empire, the mass of the 
cattle are starved for six weeks every year. The hot 
winds roar, every green thing has disappeared, no hot- 
weather forage is grown, the last year's fodder has 
generally been consumed in keeping the well bullocks 
on their legs during the irrigation of the spring crops, 
and all the husbandman can do is just to keep his 
poor brutes alive on the chopped leaves of the few 
trees and shrubs he has access to, the roots of grass 
and herbs that he digs out of the edges of fields, and 
the like. 

In good years he just succeeds ; in bad years, the 
weakly ones die of starvation. But then come the 

[ 47 ] 

rains. "Within the week, as though by magic, the 
burning sands are carpeted with rank luscious her- 
bage, the cattle will eat and over-eat, and millions die 
of one form or other of cattle disease, springing out 
of this starvation, followed by sudden repletion with 
rank, juicy, immature herbage. 

Many years ago, the writer, when advocating the 
establishment of Veterinary Colleges,* estimated the 

* I quote from the memorandum on this subject which I sub- 
mitted to Government : — 

" According to censuses taken in tlie Punjab, Central Provinces, 
&c., there is at ]3resent in India about one head of horned cattle 
to every two human beings. This would give us about 100 mil- 
lions of cattle, worth at the very lowest calculation dS75,000,000." 

" It is not too much to say that one-half the whole capitalised 
wealth of ninety-nine hundredths of the whole population of 
India is to be found in their cattle ; it is not too much, I be- 
lieve, to assume that the value of this cattle falls little, if at all, 
short of 75 millions sterling. Hitherto diseases of the most 
virulent character have raged amidst agricultural stock unchecked, 
and almost unknown to and uncared for by the Government. 
Periodically, plagues and murrains have devastated vast districts, 
sweeping away the hard-earned savings of millions, and not only 
depriving them of the means of subsistence, but seriously endan- 
gering the food supply of the empire. Are we to accept such 
calamitous visitations as dispensations of Providence to be ac- 
quiesced in humbly, and submitted to as inevitable ? The spirit 
of the present age will permit no such passive submission. Mis- 
fortune and disease will and must come ; but whether in the case 
of man or beast, it is for intelligent rulers to struggle against the 
calamity, and circumscribe, by every effort that science can sug- 
gest, the limits of its action. Everything must have a commence- 
ment. Sanitation of human beings has been set on foot, and we 
have now that of their humble but indispensable servants to care 
for. I expect no great success at first. I look for no immediately 
valuable results. The best trees take longest to grow. All I ask 
is to be allowed to plant the seed ; and I submit that, having re- 
gard to the circumstances of the country, it is no unreasonable 

[ 48 ] 

average annual loss of cattle in India by preventible 
cattle disease of one form and another, at fullj ten 
million beasts, rouglilj valued at £7,500,000, and 
subsequent experience and enquiry lias led him to be- 
lieve that this estimate materially understated the 

The Indian climates, varying as these do, appear 
to be specially favourable to cattle. Every one who 
has kept cattle here knows that if moderately fed, and 
given plenty of work and kept away from contagion, 
they never seem to be sick or sorry, but work on, 
hardy and healthy, from youth to extreme old age. 
They are very prolific too. If our poor beasts only 
had reasonably fair play, the whole empire would 
swarm with cattle, and cattle able to work the heaviest 
ploughs, and, in soils and situations where this was 
necessary or desirable, to plough as deep as you 

request to urge a grant of =£1,000, and a yearly allowance (for the 
present) of about half that sum, to secure the establishment of 
an institution, which, if a success, will pave the way to an efficient 
system for bringing cattle epidemics by degrees more and more 
under control, and for introducing throughout the Bengal Presi- 
dency improved methods of dealing with stock, both in health and 
in disease." 

This project received Lord Mayo' s warmest support; it was, in 
fact, his own idea worked out by the writer. Before the design 
could be carried out he was taken from us. His successor pro- 
mised support. The principal of the first College was nominated, 
the premises even were taken, and the necessary alterations in 
them commenced, when the then Viceroy changed his mind, 
started oft: the Principal, Mr. J. B. Hallen (the only man then 
in India who could have successfully inaugurated this impor- 
tant work) elsewhere, and " concluded " the project. Ex uno 
disce omnesl 

[ 49 ] 

But what can be expected under existing condi- 
tions ? Annually a rigid Lent, too often merging into 
actual starvation, followed by a sudden gorging with 
unwholesome food. The people are keenly alive to 
the dangers of such alternations, and labour hard to 
prevent the latter, or they would not keep a single 
head alive ; but despite all their care, their losses are 
enormous. In bad years, whole provinces are devas- 
tated. But a few years ago more than half the cattle 
in Oudh were lost during two successive bad seasons. 

And be it noted that it is not only the supply of 
manure that this fearful mortality amongst the cattle, 
and their resulting paucity, so greatly restricts ; it is 
the little hoarded capital of the peasant, the very main- 
spring of agriculture in India, that is thus flung away. 
There is nothing new in all this ; everybody in India, 
Government and people, all know it, after a fashion, 
but beyond putting a single veterinary surgeon in a 
couple of provinces to try and train a score of native 
cow doctors, nothing is done. Nothing ever will be 
done until there is a special and properly organised 
department, whose sole business it is to look after it. 

Some are cautious : " We must begin gradually," 
say they; " Rome was not built in a day," &c. Every 
one knows these nauseating commonplaces by rote. 

Well and good, they make their infinitesimally 
minute beginning, but the moment you desire to go 
on, there is the cry of expense, "We cannot afford it." 

The policy of the Government of India in these 
matters for the last twenty-five years can only be 
likened to that of some nobleman, who, with his mag- 
nificent palace slowly burning beneath his gaze, first, 


[ 50 ] 

after mucli hesitation, allows you to hire a boy with 
a penny squirt, as a beginning, to prove that water 
can extinguish fire, and then, this simple fact esta- 
blished, directly you urge the hire of a powerful steam 
fire-engine to take up the work of extinction in earnest, 
shudders at the expense and will hear nothing further 
on the subject. 

But to return : Prevention is better than cure, and 
desirable, nay essential, as it will become later to dis- 
seminate correct veterinary knowledge amongst Indian 
agriculturists, and place sound advice on all matters 
connected with the treatment of cattle in health as 
well as in disease, within every villager's reach, the 
first thing clearly is to attack the root of the evil and 
to mitigate the intensity of those causes to which 
three-fourths of the mortality anaongst Indian cattle 
are primarily due. 

It is the hot-weather privations that have first to be 
dealt with. 

Now, no doubt, it may seem easy to deal with this. 
European agriculturists will say, " What simpler ? 
Grow sorgho, Guinea grass, &c. &c.," and probably 
twenty years hence, when the Agricultural Department 
gets a real hold upon the country and the people, and 
other changes to be hereafter foreshadowed have come 
about, this ivill be done to a certain extent. But at 
present the condition of the people is such that it is 
doubtful whether even the most stringent legislation, 
worked by the most energetic executive, would secure 
any such general growth of hot-weather forage as 
would, taking the country as a whole, materially 
ameliorate the miserable lot of our cattle. 

[ 51 ] 

Fairly good land, and a great deal of it, would be 
wanted, and the people can't spare this ; and irriga- 
tion is essential, and this is not at all generally avail- 
able during the hot weather ; and a certain amount of 
capital would be required, and the people have it not ; 
and the money-lenders would not advance it for a 
crop of which the greater part was not to come to 
them direct, and it is altogether a new thing, such as 
neither they nor their fore-fathers ever heard of ; and, 
though in particular localities it might from the very 
outset be pressed, and perhaps successfully, on some 
few of the people, it must be many many years before 
there can be the smallest chance of its general adop- 

But there is one thing that can be done^^a thing 
that is entirely in accord with the traditions of the 
country — a thing that the people would understand, 
appreciate, and, with a little judicious pressure, co- 
operate in, and that is the planting up with trees of a 
certain sufficient area in every village in the drier por- 
tions of the country. 

The undertaking is a very large one, but presents 
no insuperable difficulties ; it is a gigantic hill to cut 
away, but it is all earth and no rock, its greatness is 
purely numerical. There are an immense number of 
spadesful to be lifted, but the lifting each is per- 
fectly easy. Energy, perseverance, and time are all 
that is necessary. Once a sufficient area planted in 
each neighbourhood as a communal forest, and the 
cattle difficulty is at an end ; the forest would be 
closed till other fodder was consumed and the fields 
were bare, and then they would be opened to the vil- 

4 * 

[ 52 ] 

lage herds. In India, wherever you have a closed 
grove of trees, there spontaneously you have a luxu- 
riant growth of herbage, and at the end of April, even 
in the hottest and driest parts of Upper India, where 
the whole country round is as bare as any desert, you 
will find in preserved groves (such as the more wealthy 
zemindars often keep for their own cattle and in view 
to the sale of the grass in neighbouring towns) a mass 
of hay above and green grass below, that is perfectly 

This is due partly to the rich humus, the result of 
the decay for many years of fallen twigs and leaves, 
and partly to the diminished evaporation from the soil 
protected by the trees. 

But with this improved provision of fodder we 
obtain simultaneously an improved supply of fuel, and 
an immediate great diminution in the consumption of 
manure as such. Very few natives will cook with cow- 
dung cakes if they can procure sticks, and it is chiefly 
for cooking^' purposes that fuel is required in India. 
Moreover, in the wood ashes we have a new useful 
source of manure. 

Two main questions would have to be considered : — 
First, how the land is to be obtained ; second, how it 
is to be planted. 

For the first, legislation would be required. Re- 
course to the Act would not be necessary in all cases ; 

* Doubtless chiefly for cooking, but there is a vast consumption 
in brick-making, and here the P. W. B. are great sinners. The 
increase of brick-making, and with it, the consumption of dung 
as fuel (it being, in most places, cheaper than wood), has been 
enormous of late years. 

[ £3 ] 

a great deal could be done by the influence of the 
local officials, but the power to act with or without 
consent must be taken. 

In some places, Glovernment has plenty of land of 
its own which it could plant up, but this is almost 
exclusively in thinly populated and imperfectly settled 
tracts where no special action is required. Generally 
throughout those portions of the empire where this 
planting up is most urgently required, the Government 
has little or no land in its own exclusive possession. 
It is a sleeping partner in all the land, but it has 
made the management over to landholders of one 
class or another, whom it has taken in as working 
partners, on condition of receiving certain yearly pay- 
ments, supposed to be equivalent to half the average 
profits. Such payments are fixed for longer or 
shorter periods, and are liable to alteration at the 
close of these at the pleasure of the Government. 

In almost every village, larger or smaller tracts of 
land are to be found quite good enough for planting 
up with hardy trees, but yet too poor to be worth 
cultivating ; while besides these there are often con- 
siderable tracts of land, which, though culturable, are 
never cultivated, and bring in nothing to the land- 
holder. Legal authority would be required to set 
apart portions or the whole* of such lands as com- 

* Under any circumstances, as this land serves, after a fashion, 
as a grazing ground, it could rarely be talcen up at once as a 
whole. Part would be first planted, and five or six years later, 
when the trees in that part were sufficiently large to allow of 
the admission of cattle, another part would be taken up, and 
so on. 

[ 54 ] 

munal forests, without any compensation to tlie land- 
holder, unless it appeared that he derived any revenue 
therefrom, and that in consequence of the action thus 
taken, his receipts from his estate (technically called 
the " assets ") were reduced below twice the Grovern- 
ment rent, or as we call it, revenue. 

In nine cases out of ten no compensation would be 
required, and certainly at first I would only attempt 
to deal with the nine cases and leave the tenth, in 
which compensation would be necessary, to stand over 
till the people had fully realised the enormous advan- 
tages of the scheme. 

At the first glance it may be thought that what is 
proposed would involve a serious and indefensible in- 
terference with the rights of private property. It 
may be said : " True, these landholders are not abso- 
lute proprietors in the sense that we understand the 
word in England ; their tenures are more like copy- 
holds, subject to periodical enhancement of rents at 
the will and pleasure of the real proprietor, the State, 
but still they have a certain proprietary right, which 
they can in most places sell and mortgage and be- 
queath, a right to continue to hold the land undis- 
turbed, so long as they continue to pay the demand 
which the State from time to time assesses on it." 

Clearly we could not take any thing that directly 
helps them to pay this assessment, without a corre- 
sponding diminution in this latter ; but our primary 
condition is, that we shall grant this, where this is 
equitably required, and that we shall at first confine 
our action to lands which are at present bringing in 
Qothing. And we are not going to take these lands 

[ 55 ] 

away, nor are we going to derive any direct benefit 
from them. We are going to convert land, now 
valueless, into land which will directly and indirectly 
enrich alike landholder and cultivators ; we, in fact, 
only re-assume control over certain lands (in which, 
be it remembered, we are partners) because their util- 
isation in the manner demanded by our interests, the 
landholders' interests, and the interests of the entire 
nation, requires an organisation and intelligence that 
our managing partners cannot command and do not 

Looking to all that depends upon the measure, 
looking to the impossibility of carrying it out with- 
out State interference, I do not think that the most 
ardent advocate for non-interference with private 
rights would deny that here was a case in which it 
was not only justifiable, but incumbent, on the State 
to interfere. 

I do not go further into details ; every one's ideas 
on such a subject must be crude until we actually 
begin to carry out the work in practice. It is to 
elaborate the practical details of procedure here as 
in other matters that we require a special organisa- 

The land available, it will be necessary to surround 
it with a good stout mud^ fence, such as the people 
now construct around any grove they plant, and the 
ground inside must be more or less ploughed or 
broken up, and if the soil be such as to warrant the 
planting of fruit-trees, such as mangoes, some sort of 
a well may have to be dug. 

I do not hesitate to say that all this the villagers 

[ 56 ] 

should be required to do, and that power should be 
taken to order this, and to punish by some trivial fine 
disobedience of such orders. 

This power existing in the background, no compe- 
tent revenue officer would find the least difficulty in 
getting all that was necessary done with the entire 
good will of the people, and at really no cost to them 
or the State. There are several periods in the year 
when every cultivator can give half a day's labour 
daily at no loss to himself, and when, if not helping 
at the communal enclosure, he would be idling. 

And there are no people in the world that can be 
more easily led by an intelligent superior into combin- 
ing to carry out a single work (the benefit of which 
they understand) under his eye ; a few turbans given 
away and a few sweetmeats would convert the entire 
business into a sort of festival. Here once let it be 
clearly understood that the enclosure would be pre- 
served during the cold season, and (after the first five 
years) thrown open to cattle in the hot season, and 
every man will appreciate and approve them. 

In Mhairwarra, for forest purposes. Government 
took up large reserves. The measure, though neces- 
sary, was a very unpopular one. Last year when the 
country suffered from drought, and the starvation of 
their cattle stared the people in the face, these re- 
serves were thrown open to them. Forest conservancy 
was a little thrown back, but the people are no longer 
opposed to it; on the contrary, they quite appre- 
ciate it. 

As to lohat should be planted, hardy indigenous 
trees merely for shade, trees furnishing fruits for 

[ 57 ] 

men or cattle, in what localities and in what propor- 
tions — these are points to be worked out gradually by 
the Department. 

Again, rules will be required to regulate the use and 
prevent the abuse of these communal forests or groves. 
A system of management will have to be elaborated, 
the leading idea of which must be to induce the people 
to act to the greatest possible extent for themselves. 
A dozen other details will have to be dealt with, but 
there is not one single difficulty to be encountered of 
which we shall not be able to say solvitur eundo. 

I am quite sure that, looking at the work sketched 
out, many able and experienced officers will say at 
first, "It is too vast, it cannot be done." But these 
same officers would not deny that they could, if 
vested with the powers above contemplated, make all 
necessary arrangements and carry out the scheme in, 
say, a dozen villages. Nor, again, that having done 
this, they could repeat the operation more readily in 
another group of hamlets ; nor that when thus far 
advanced, their senior native revenue officers could 
carry on the work on the same lines in many villages, 
though some would still require their personal inter- 
vention to overcome difficulties. Nor would they 
deny that one pergunnah completed, the neighbour- 
ing ones would be much more easily dealt with, and 
so on. The truth is the fagot, taken in the lump, is 
rather alarming, but the sticks are all very little, 
and you have only to pick the fagot to pieces, to 
make the task a very easy, although a tedious and 
lengthy, one. 

Of course works like these are not to be commenced 

r 58 1 

broadcast or at random. The work would be begun 
in specially selected localities, and the greatest avail- 
able strength turned on to these from Revenue, Irri- 
gation, Forest, and Agricultural Departments ; and 
you would begin prudently, not forcing the measure 
down any one's throat, but talking about it to every- 
one, and having public meetings (and very effective 
these are in the interior of districts if you manage 
properly) and devoting special endeavours to con- 
vincing men who, you know, carry weight locally, 
and letting it leak out that there will be turbans and 
dresses of honour for people who materially aid the 
progress of the scheme, and just possibly a C.S.I, or 
CLE. for any one who carried a large tract of 
country, and so on. Every one who has carried a 
new great measure through a district, such as the 
voluntary 1 per cent, subscription to schools was in 
the old days, knows all about it, and knows that any 
harmless and beneficial measure, not opposed to the 
religious opinions of the people, can be carried by 
patience, perseverance, and tact, if only it be known 
that the Government approves, and really wishes, and 
sooner or later intends, to have it carried. 

It may here be noticed that this extensive reboise- 
ment, while operating to augment materially the 
manure supply, to improve the breed and increase 
the supply of cattle and economise the agricultural 
capital of the country, cannot fail to exercise a power- 
ful check over the ravages of famine. 

How far the increase of trees in level country ope- 
rates (if at all) to increase the rainfall, is still an open 
question ; but that a tract thickly studded with forests 

[ 59 ] 

and groves retains the water it receives a great deal 
longer than one devoid of these, is a matter of every- 
day experience ; and it is certain that widespread and 
entire failure of crops over enormous areas, such as 
we have witnessed so often in the last quarter of a 
century, would have been impossible had cultivation 
and forest been interlaced throughout them as has 
been above proposed. There would, no doubt, have 
been some total failure, and much partial failure, but 
the intensity of the calamity would, beyond all ques- 
tion, have been much mitigated, and it is quite an 
open question whether, in some cases, it would not 
have been altogether averted. 

Moreover, it is fair to presume that a considerable 
proportion of the trees planted will be fruit-trees, the 
mango for instance, which always fruits most heavily 
in seasons of drought, and which furnishes a very 
important, and not unwholesome, supply of food to the 
people, at the most critical period of years of scarcity. 

The enormous increase in the supply of such food 
that the proposed measure involves would most mate- 
rially assist the people in tiding over bad seasons on 
greatly diminished rations of grain. 

And in famines, the death of the cattle is almost as 
disastrous to the State, from a mere utilitarian point 
of view, as the death of the men, and for the cattle 
our forests will provide. The cattle will never starve 
with these wide plantations everywhere, as there are 
scores of indigenous trees whose foliage furnishes 
fairly nutritious fodder, and in seasons of great 
drought the people would be allowed to make the 
utmost of every leaf. 

[ 60 ] 

In many of the tracts where famine has raged, a 
thorough reboisement, with improvement in cattle, 
and an abundant supply of manure would admit of 
deep ploughing, such that, with a large portion of the 
surface protected by trees, no total failure of the crops 
could result from the failure of a single monsoon. 

It is needless, however, to pursue the subject into 
all its details ; my object merely is to convey some 
general conception of the scheme which, the more it 
is considered, the more pregnant it will prove of direct 
and indirect benefits to agriculture in India. 

Although all that has been urged in regard to whole- 
sale reboisement is applicable to, perhaps, the major 
portion of the temporarily settled districts, no one 
rule holds good, and no one scheme can suffice for the 
whole of this vast empire. There are regions as large 
as the British Isles, where no reboisement is requisite, 
and where altogether different arrangements in regard 
to supply of manure are needed, where we have chiefly 
to teach the people more care in collecting it, more 
care in storing it, resort to available mineral manures, 
of the value of which they have little or no conception, 
and the like. 

Again, farm-yard manure, though I have laid so 
much stress on it, as it really contains everything that 
we take out of the land, is not the only organic manure 
readily available to which the Agricultural Department 
will have to direct attention. Outside each village is 
a golgotha, where the bones of all cattle and animals 
that die whiten and slowly decay in ghastly piles. At 
present this enormous supply of phosphates is abso- 
lutely wasted. Heally portable bone-crushers, that 

[ 61 ] 

could move easily over the sandy village tracks, will 
have to be devised. These will have to be sent round 
from village to village, crushing for each community 
their, at present, useless heaps. The people will have 
to be taught how, when, in what doses, and for what 
crops, to administer this powerful fertiliser, and how 
to increase the rapidity of its action by treating it 
with sulphuric acid, which latter will have to be loaned 
to them as an advance. 

There are districts where it will probably be found 
necessary to manufacture manures outright, and 
advance them to the cultivators, as any other advance 
is made, until, their pecuniary value established and a 
permanent demand created, private enterprise steps 

in to supply it. . * . . 

And of course careful analyses of soils (which in 
India are wonderfully homogeneous over wide areas) 
would be necessary to indicate with precision the 
nature of the plant food more especially wanting in 
each case, whether with reference to a particular soil 
or a particular crop ; but these are among the neces- 
sities of scientific agriculture everywhere; there is 
nothing in regard to them peculiar to India; and, 
with many other similar matters, they need no special 
notice here. 

Although with diminished mortality and improved 
condition of cattle, the agricultural capital of the 
country will be, as time runs on, notably increased, it 
would be idle to suppose that the generally im- 
poverished condition of the actual cultivators of the 


soil, almost throughout the empire, will need no other 
or direct relief. 

Wherever we turn we find agriculturists burdened 
with debts running on at enormous rates of interest. 
In some districts, even provinces, the evil is all- 
absorbing — a whole population of paupers, hopelessly 
meshed in the webs of usurers. 

No one probably needs to be told that no farmer or 
cultivator, hopelessly in debt, can ever do any justice 
to himself or his land. 

If only on account of our own direct and vital in- 
terest in the land, some action is necessary on our 
parts to limit the progress of and gradually wholly 
eradicate this plague of indebtedness ; certainly next 
to the manure question, there is no other that will 
earlier demand the attention of the Agricultural De- 

The subject is so large and complicated, its difficul- 
ties so protean, and the remedies required necessarily 
so liable to vary in relation to each of the almost 
innumerable combinations of circumstances under 
which the evil will have to be dealt with, that it is im- 
possible to discuss it at all exhaustively in a sketch 
like this. Still some indication may be given of the 
manner in which this indebtedness has come about 
and of the direction in which a remedy for it should 
be sought. 

A theory is at times gravely maintained, even in 
India, that the ryot is a thriftless, reckless fellow ; that 
no matter what he gets, he will always spend more 
than his income ; that it matters nothing whether the 
rent he has to pay is high or low ; that he rather likes 

[ 63 ] 

than otherwise having a balance against him at his 
banker's ; and that do what one will, he will always 
be in debt. 

Nothing can convey a more thoroughly and utterly 
false conception of our agriculturists as a body. 

That these, in common with the entire population, 
high and low, do, in accordance with immemorial 
custom,* spend a great deal more upon marriages than 
according to English ideas any similarly circumstanced 
sane man ought to or would, may be at once ad- 

Any real, vigorous, and persistent actionf to check 
this common form of extravagance, taken under sound 
native advice, would be a real blessing to the country. 
But, after all, this is the poor fellow's onjy extrava- 
gance ; these are almost the only white days in his 
dull-coloured life of toil and pinching, and unless he is 
singularly blessed (or unblest ?) there are not many of 
them, and for the rest, a more careful frugal being is 
not to be found on earth. 

He hates debt ; he hates the usurer's name ; let 
any stroke of luck befal him, and see how soon the 
monstrous account against him is settled. This is not 
the case merely with individuals, the population of 

* In most parts of India custom is still, be it remembered, where 
social matters are concerned, an iron, all-embracing, law. 

t Hitherto, as in most other matters in India, there has been a 
vast amount of "cry," and the smallest possible amount of "wool." 
Every now and then the question crops up, a great deal of talk 
ensues, nothing effective is done, and the matter drops. 

[ 64 J 

whole provinces (like Guzerat and Berar, owing to the 
abnormal profits from cotton during the American 
war) have similarly cleared themselves. 

Fools are scarce nowhere, but only show our ryots 
how to free themselves from the toils of the money- 
lender and how to keep out of his books, and none 
need fear that the great mass of them will long remain 
plunged in their present comparative misery; for 
misery of a kind it is. 

A very happy natured, contented race, as a whole, 
are our village husbandmen, and they have their little 
amusements and festivals, and when harvests are very 
good, pretty much all that, with their simple habits, 
they need. The picture is not all black, or how could 
we or any one hold the country ? But withal their 
lives are very hard and toilsome, and through it all too 
many are pressed with debt. Good crops ease the pain 
a little, and the village merry-making brings a tem- 
porary forge tfulness, but the sore is always there, and 
except in very good seasons multitudes for months in 
every year cannot get sufl&cient food for themselves 
and their families. They are not starving, but they 
are hungry, they get less than they want and than 
they ought to have. 

ISTo doubt they make the best of it, and keep cheer- 
ful under pressure that would crush men of more 
advanced races, but this very child-like nature involves 
dangers, and we may see from the Deccan riots and 
sporadic cases occurring constantly everywhere, that 
quite independent of the necessities of agricultural 
reform, and quite apart from the duty of ameliorating 
a lot on the whole so unenviable, cogent political reasons 

[ 65 J 

exist for grappling with this growing evil of indebted- 

Much has been said about tenures in connection 
with this matter, and many have ascribed the origin 
of the present depressed condition of the peasantry 
to mistakes perpetrated in regard to these. 

No doubt many errors have been here committed, 
and no doubt, other things being as they are, these 
have powerfully contributed to bring about the present 
lamentable state of affairs. But the root of the evil 
is not here, and but for other and utterly distinct mis- 
takes, these errors, though involving in some cases 
injustice or hardship to individuals, would have 
brought about no general indebtedness of the agricul- 
tural classes. 

It has already been remarked that we have wasted 
on an elaborate, cumbrous, and unsuitable system of 
civil jurisprudence, money that ought to have been 
employed in improving our agriculture and increasing 
the material comforts of the masses ; it may now be 
added that the system on which it was expended has 
been the chief and direct cause of the major portion 
of the indebtedness and impoverishment of our agricul- 

Errors as to tenures ; forcing proprietary rights 
upon people incapable of appreciating or understand- 
ing them ; forcing upon districts where one system 
of landholding was indigenous a wholly different, 
exotic, and therefore unsuitable one; the want of 
elasticity in our system of realising the revenue ; un- 
limited subdivision of holdings, and a dozen other 
causes, may be indicated as having, our courts being as 


[ 66 ] 

they are, contributed to it, but these courts themselves 
are the fans et origo of the evil, and had they been 
the simple summary courts of equity and not of law, 
which was all the state of the country demanded, all 
these other causes would have smouldered on almost 

It is necessary to realise the radical changes tliat 
our courts and revenue systems combined have wrought 
in the position of our agriculturists. 

Previous to our rule no private person had, broadly 
speaking, any property in the soil.* All proprietary 
right, in the sense in which we at home understand 
the word, vested directly in the State or vicariously in 
some powerful chief or official. All that the people 
as a body enjoyed were a high class of occupancy 
rights, heritable but not transferable. 

A man might be ever so much in debt, but you could 
not interfere with the land he held, for that was not 
his, but his ruler's; and such rights as he possessed 
therein were personal to himself and family, or, in 
some cases, clan ; and if any outsider had obtained 
possession, the State would have stepped in and resumed 
the property. No doubt, if sufficiently bribed, the 
local officials would, and often did, wink at transfers, 
but these were opposed alike to custom and tradition 
which then constituted the law, such as it was, on this 

There was, therefore, in those days no great in- 

* We must perhaps except lands given to Brahmins, saints, 
&c. for temple, mosque, or other religious or charitable purposes ; 
but even these were, properly speaking, inalienable. 

[ 67 ] 

ducement to money-lenders to advance money to land- 
holders or cultivators of any degree, still less was it 
their interest to tempt those to take money, which 
they really did not want, in order to make an extra 
display at a wedding or a durbar. 

They lent money, but only at enormous rates of in- 
terest ; but this was not unfair, as they never hoped 
even to recover the principal, while for such interest 
as they were to get (a widely different thing to what 
was written in the bond) they were dependent on the 
good will of their debtor, or the rare, paternal inter- 
ference of some superior, who, appealed to with suit- 
able presents, would say, '' Come, Rambuksh, you owe 
the Sahoo Sahib a lot of money, and you have paid 
him nothing for two years; you just satisfy him by 
some proper payment on account, or it will not be well 
for you." 

And even such interference was rarely needed, for 
the people are naturally very honest ; the creditor had 
no object in cheating, because he could, as a rule, 
only expect to get what he could convince his debtor 
was justly due, while as for the debtor, though he had 
no intention of paying off his creditor, whose debt 
was perhaps six generations old, and who moreover 
never expected this, still neither had he any objection 
to make, from year to year, such payments on account 
as he could afford and as according to custom (every- 
thing was custom in those days) were fair and right. 

It was a point of honour with him, and the natives 
of India had a very keen sense of honour ; they saw 
many things from a different point of view to what 
we do, but they kept, I think, as a whole, closer to 

6 * 

[ 68 ] 

their standard than we as a nation have ever kept to 

It was almost a point of honour with them to de- 
fraud the State, to make false statements to supe- 
riors, &c., just as it used to be for boys to rob their 
master's garden, and mislead him whenever possible ; 
but it would have been as base in their eyes to cheat 
or bilk their friend, the family banker, as it would have 
been for the schoolboy to steal from one of his own 

So there was debt in those days too, but it hurt 
nobody ; the banker got his annuity so long as things 
went well, and even if in bad times he got little or 
nothing, he knew that there were always strong arms 
and sharp swords, ready to defend him if things went 
wrong with him ; each party was dependent more or 
less on the good offices of the other, and so far from 
being enemies they were friends, bound together by 
the remembrance of many acts of mutual kindness, 
and if by chance they could not agree, — and men, 
though both honest and well meaning, will at times 
fall out and differ, — they called in a party of respect- 
able neighbours and friends (whose intervention only 
cost a good dinner) who heard all both had to say, 
effected a wise compromise, and settled the matter. 
There was no appeal ; the brotherhood, or mixed jury, 
as the case might be, had spoken and the matter was 
at an end. 

But with the enlightened rule of the British Grovern- 
ment all this was to cease. Brimful of philanthropy, we 
could not let well alone, or indeed believe that any- 
thing could be well for others, which was not in ac- 

[ 69 ] 

cordance with what we thought good for ourselves. 
With our innovations, our exotic systems of land and 
law, we have dissolved the bonds of society, we have 
turned peace into war, we have arrayed every class 
against that on which it was most dependent, capital- 
ists against landholders, landlords against tenants, 
every man almost against his fellow. 

There is not, I believe, a single wise and good native 
of India who will not freely admit that, whatever the 
failings and shortcomings of individual officers, the 
motives and intentions of the British Grovernment, 
where India is concerned, have, on the Avhole, been 
pure and noble. But I fear that there is not one who 
would not condemn, in terms stronger than I have the 
heart to use, the cruel blunders into which our nar- 
row-minded, though wholly benevolent, desire to re- 
produce England in India has led us. 

We began by conferring proprietary rights (the 
poor people, no ownership in the soil, mere serfs !) or, 
where as in Bombay we stopped short of this, we gave 
additional strength to occupancy rights, and made 
these transferable. Every one knows the European 
arguments about enhancing the value of rights by 
making them transferable. Such a great thing to 
enable them to be brought into the market ! Buying 
and selling, as a wise writer once said, is an English- 
man's idea of Paradise, and in the most unselfish spirit 
we desired to introduce our native fellow-subjects into 
this same Paradise. 

No one saw that the people were on the whole happy 
and contented as they were, that their past sufferings, 
where they had suffered, were due not to any defects 

[ 70 ] 

in their position or rights as established by custom, 
but to those rights having been ignored, and that 
custom having been over-ridden. 

No one seems to have realised that the tenures of a 
country are the outcome of its whole past history, 
ever, as time rolled on, adjusting themselves to the 
varying conditions and relations of the different 
classes of the community. That they must necessarily, 
therefore, be under the circumstances, those best suited 
to the country ; that though they may require change 
as these conditions and relations varv, it must be 

" Change that broadens slowly down from precedent to 

and that any sudden and arbitrary, externally imposed, 
change must, however noble the impulse that prompted 
it, involve new and necessarily unsuitable combina- 

Human institutions to be healthy must grow where 
they are to stand. 

Not so reasoned our predecessors. They gave a new 
value to the land, by rigidly limiting their demand on 
the soil — a good thing, quite in accordance with the 
people's ideas of what a good prince should do, — and 
they conferred partial proprietary rights (which no one 
wanted or appreciated) wholesale, and they made all 
the rights they created or acknowledged in the soil 

Up to our time such rights as existed were entailed 
in the strictest fashion ; creditors could not get hold 
of the land, even during the lifetime of the debtor. 

[ 71 ] 

We raised the character of the rights, but cut off the 
entail without the consent of the heirs. 

At first this did no great harm. Nobody understood 
the change, our people then were no lawyers, courts 
were few, and administered simple justice according 
to equity and good conscience, and the majority of 
civil disputes continued to be settled by the people 
amongst themselves in the old fashion. 

But as times passed on new and new laws were con- 
tinually made, and courts were multiplied and gra- 
dually modified into courts of law, where justice sat 
fettered by codes, and whence equity and good con- 
science had been banished for contempt of court, and 
a swarm of professional pleaders (good and bad, but 
specially the latter) spread over the length and breadth 
of the land, and village verdicts ceased to carry weight, 
and in the simplest matter, which formerly would have 
been settled on his own village platform by his own 
brethren and elders, and rightly settled in an hour, a 
man now had to put up with wrong, or walk twenty 
miles to court, and fee pleaders, and waste a week or 
more, and many weeks' earnings, and all as often as 
not merely to see the wrong triumph. Or, if suc- 
cessful, to be dragged yet another fifty miles, on appeal 
to a higher court, where there were even more ex- 
pensive pleaders to fee, and more time and money to 
waste, dangling about the court-house steps or com- 
pound, dogged by peons and emissaries of the under- 
paid native subordinate ofi&cials, all threatening loss of 
his case, unless he bribed, bribed, bribed. And if he, 
— fortunatus nimium, — gained his case here too, and 
prepared to start for his neglected fields, a half-ruined 

[ 72 ] 

and yet partly happy man, (for natives acquire a pas- 
sion for litigation, just as Europeans do for drink or 
gambling,) lo and behold, a second or special appeal 
on some miserable quibble of law, evolved out of clum- 
sily drawn statutes, and he is dragged away yet another 
one, two, or three hundred miles to the provincial 
capital, where, after wasting months, and spending all 
he had with him or could borrow in fees to lawyers 
and bribes to hangers-on of the courts, he, as likely as 
not, finally loses his case. Constituted as our civil 
courts are, the chances on each hearing do not pre- 
ponderate largely in favour of real justice being done. 
What exactly the chances are of this happy event 
occurring three successive times in one case, I leave 
those, who make " the odds " their study, to calculate. 
Winning or losing, he often returns utterly demo- 
ralised to his home ; he has heard all the pleadings ; 
quibbles and fictions on his side, quibbles and fictions 
on the other side ; and he has listened to many other 
cases besides his own, and has been impressed with the 
fact that, on the whole, dishonesty is the best policy, 
and henceforth this conviction shapes his dealings with 
his banker and his neighbours. His banker on his 
part is in no way behind his debtor ; indeed, having 
necessarily more to do with the courts, he earlier, as 
a rule, became a convert to the gospel of fraud ; and 
the temptation to him was immense, for lands are 
saleable now, and the impossible rates of old bonds 
entered as a matter of form, when no one dreamt of 
repaying capital, are now enforcible, and the principal 
can be recovered too, and every landholder of every 
degree can be sold up out of house and home. 

L 73 ] 

And perhaps our man is sold up, and tHe banker 
buys his land, and takes possession, and then — now 
and then the inherent love of his ancestral lands, his 
strongest passion, is too strong for the poor homeless 
wretch, and one evening in the dusk, when the unwary- 
usurer, who has paid a visit to the village to see his 
new purchase, is wending his way homewards, there is 
a rush and the heavy thuds of a club, and the gallows 
ends the tragedy which our blundering philanthropy 
has so elaborately prepared. 

And similarly, be it noticed, though it is a digres- 
sion, that our laws and courts have set landlord against 
tenants, and converted too many of both classes into 
sad rogues. In the old days there was no talk of 
tenants-at-will, and tenants with occupancy rights, and 
so on. No doubt every landholder, where such really 
existed, could evict any tenant he chose, and if a man 
seduced his neighbour's wife (they were poor ignorant 
creatures), or otherwise insulted or offended the com- 
munity, evicted he was, but custom barred, and far 
more effectively than any British law or court, any 
arbitrary exercise of this power, and the landlord who 
might any day have to defend his Penates against a 
Maratha inroad, an imperial functionary, or a band of 
dacoits, was obliged to keep good friends on the whole 
with the mass of his cultivators, on whose strong arms 
the safety of his property and the honour of his house 
might, at any moment, become dependent. 

Both classes here, again, were bound together by 
ties of mutual obligation and inter-dependence, but 
we, with our ill-starred mania for exact systems of 
law, have dissolved the bonds, and have converted 

[ 74 ] 

into antagonists the two great classes on whose har- 
monious co-operation not only their own welfare, but 
in many parts of the country the progress of our land 
revenue, so materially depends. 

Let others write panegyrics on those who '' first 
planted the seeds of a civilised system of jurisprudence 
in India " : I, looking sadly now on the Upas tree that 
has crowned their labours, can only say : — 

Ille et nefasto te posuit die, 
Quicunque primum, et sacrileg^ manu, 
Produxit, arbos, in nepotum 
Perniciem, ojpjprohriumque pagi ! 

No doubt it may startle some to propose that we 
should in these respects retrace our steps, and, es- 
chewing the highly seasoned and artistic messes of 
civilisation, revert to the simple fruit and herbs of 
our unenlightened predecessors. 

But the case stands thus : — The country is on the 
high road to bankruptcy : sudden and arbitrary reduc- 
tions in all directions, not impossibly really wasting 
more money than they seem to save, will of course 
be resorted to, and a nominal equilibrium restored for 
a while. 

No such measures, however, can restore the finances 
of a growing country to a healthy condition any more 
than cutting off strips from the ends of the legs to let 
in as gussets into the seat, is calculated to place the 
trousers of the growing boy in a permanently satisfac- 
tory condition. 

He is bound to outgrow them, and the country is 

[ 75 ] 

bound to outgrow the existing revenue, snip and patch, 
botch and tinker as you will. 

The only source from which you can derive that 
large increase of revenue which the empire must have 
hereafter if it is to continue to flourish, or even exist, 
is the land ; and from the land this increase is not 
to be got so long as throughout wide provinces all 
classes of agriculturists are crippled by poverty and 

Some parts of the country are comparatively free 
from this blight. No measures that we decide to take 
need be universal in their application. In no two 
provinces, probably, would the remedy take precisely 
the same form, but broadly speaking, what is neces- 
sary wherever this disease has gained much ground, 
is to remove all cases connected with the money and 
grain transactions of agriculturists as such * from the 
cognisance of the regular courts, and secure the ad- 
justment of all these by local tribunals. 

Natives of known probity and fair intelligence (and 
in every province there are thousands of these, igno- 
rant enough of law, but thoroughly able to settle 
fairly a money question between two other natives, 
when they have the real facts before them), such 
natives, we say, would be selected, many no doubt 
from our huge revenue establishments, and sent as 
judges, from village to village, to settle up, with the 
aid of the village elders, every case of debt of the 

* Perhaps one in a thousand agriculturists is a trader as well 
as an agriculturist. With these and their trade transactions we 
need not concern oui'selves. 

[ 76 ] 

kind referred to, in which any one of its inhabitants 
was concerned. 

These judges would be fettered by no codes and no 
forms of procedure, and they would hear both parties' 
stories, coram populo, on the village platform of the 
debtor's own village. It is needless to tell any one 
who knows the country that while, when you get him 
into court, no witness seems to be able to tell the 
truth, on his own village platform, surrounded by his 
neighbours, no villager in personal questions like 
these seems able to tell an untruth. Everybody 
knows everybody else's affairs; let the speaker deviate 
perceptibly from the facts, and immediately out go 
tongues all round, and jeers and cries of '' Wah," 
" Wah," remind him that he is not in court, and that 
that kind of thing will not go down at home. 

The decisions thus passed would be final. Very likely 
some few of them would not be quite correct accord- 
ing to our ideas, but that signifies little ; they would 
embody simple justice according to native ideas, and 
that is all we want ; and even though a fraction did 
not do full justice according to even native ideas, we 
must accept some drawbacks in every arrangement, 
and, as every native says, better half justice at once 
than full justice after long delay and expensive liti- 
gation. Above all, even if in a few cases a partial 
failure of justice resulted, they would be absolutely 
insignificant in number as compared with those in 
which, under our present system, the failure is total. 

Common sense would be the judge's sole guide. 
He would consider the merits of the case, the sum 
originally advanced, the payments made on account, 

[ 77 ] 

the ordinary profits in regular (as opposed to specula- 
tive) trade in the neighbourhood, and either declare 
the debt discharged, or fix the amount still fairly due, 
and the interest, if any, thenceforth payable. 

All this is in favour of the agriculturist ; but, the 
decree given, the capitalist would no longer have to 
spend and spend, and petition and petition, to get it 
executed. The decree would be made over to the 
head revenue official* of the jurisdiction, whose duty 
it would be to see it realised, as an arrear of land 
revenue, as rapidly as was consistent with not ruining 
the debtor, without the money-lender taking any 
further trouble about the matter. 

In some localities the state of the people is such 
that it would be desirable to set perhaps a hundred 
such judges to work for three months in a single dis- 
trict, assigning to each a circle of from ten to twenty 
villages according to population, and requiring the 
judges to adjust every such matter pending in each 
village, and voiding all claims not laid before them 
for adjustment. In other districts, again, one such 
judge for each pergunnah, tuppah, or other convenient 
local subdivision, or even one such for each tahsil or 
other local revenue circle would suffice, and it might 
not be necessary here to void claims not presented, 
but only to empower the judge to decide all cases 
brought before them by either party. 

In many districts no immediate action seems called 

* Tahsildar (Upper India) ; MooTctearkar (Sindh) ; Mamlutdar 
(Bombay), &c. 

[ 78 ] 

for, and most of those in whicli it is needed would be 
found to present minor peculiarities, requiring a corre- 
sponding adjustment of details. In some cases it 
would only be necessary to deal with the indebted- 
ness of the landholders, in others only with that of 
the cultivators ; while in some all classes of agricul- 
turists need protection. All this would be for the 
decision of the local administrations in consultation 
with their revenue and agricultural officers ; all that 
it is here pretended to give, is the cloth ; if it is to 
wear well the coat must be carefully fitted in every 

The broad principles are, that whenever and wher- 
ever agricultural progress, on which the future welfare 
of the empire must, in a great measure, depend, is 
impeded or rendered impossible by the indebtedness 
of any or all classes of agriculturists, all questions 
connected with such indebtedness shall be removed 
from the cognisance of the civil courts, and their sum- 
mary and final adjustment provided for by the instru- 
mentality of respectable native judges versed in rural 
affairs, aided, but not governed, by the advice of the 
local elders in the village where the debtor resides ; 
no fees of any kind to be paid ; no stamps to be re- 
quired ; no pleaders or lawyers to be allowed to take 
any part in the transactions; decisions to be given 
effect to (equally without charge) by the revenue 
officials of the circle as speedily as is consistent with 
not ruining the debtor, and these officials to possess, 
in regard to amounts decreed, the same powers that 
they do in regard to arrears of land revenue. Adjust- 
ments once effected, arrangements to be made, either 

[ 79 ] 

by the retention of a limited number of these rural 
judges or by other measures, to prevent a relapse. 

It must be freely admitted that, under the proposed 
system, something like two-thirds of the existing total 
claims against agriculturists will probably be dis- 
allowed. In former days, when relations between 
money-lenders and agriculturists were less strained 
than they have now become in many places, the writer, 
taking advantage of his position and influence as dis- 
trict officer, has, as arbitrator, disposed, with the 
consent of both parties, of hundreds of such cases, 
precisely as he now proposes that the rural judges 
should be empowered to dispose of them. 

Every case varies, and naturally some money-lenders 
are more honest, others more usurious ; but it is be- 
lieved that, taking a large series of such claims, it 
might be broadly asserted that, out of the sum total 
claimed, one-third was fairly due, one-third fairly 
enough put on to compensate for the uncertainties 
and intolerable delays and expenses (licit and illicit) 
of our courts, and that one- third was an inequitable 
charge due to exorbitant interest and compound in- 

It would appear, therefore, that the proposed mea- 
sure would be a great blow to the capitalist class, 
and that there might be danger, existing debts once 
cleared, of the money-lenders refusing to make new 

In the first place, once the people were fairly out of 

24 to 30 per cent, are not at all unheard-of rates. 

[ 80 ] 

debt much fewer advances would be required, and 
the majority of these would not be to save ancestral 
holdings, but only to improve them ; advances always 
more readily obtainable and at easier rates, because 
often made by classes of capitalists who will not deal 
with nearly ruined men. 

In the second place, the native mofussil capital 
employed in usury is believed to be more than three- 
fold that employed in trade. By no possible means 
could the amount of the latter be more than doubled 
for many years, so that for a long time two-thirds at 
least of the capital now employed in money-lending in 
the mofussil must continue to be so employed. 

In the third place, as a matter of fact (and this 
assertion is based on the repeated assertions of scores 
of village bankers in the Doab), many money-lenders 
would be perfectly content to have all their money out 
in agricultural advances at nine per cent, if they 
might make these at the village platform, before the 
rural judge, without going near any other court, with- 
out any bonds or stamps, and could then look for the 
recovery of any items not voluntarily repaid, to the 
revenue officers of the circle, and they would gladly let 
Government keep half per cent, of all it realised for 
them (and this would more than cover any expense 
incurred), and accept such slight losses as might prove 

It is necessary here to explain that losses, under 
such circumstances, would be rare in the extreme. 
Aside from the fatal lotteries of the civil courts, and 
dealt with in his own village, the Indian peasant is 
very honest, and he is still a great respecter of autho- 

[ 81 ] 

ritj. Only death could prevent ninety-nine Hundredths 
of our rural population paying a debt fairly incurred, 
on which a reasonable rate of interest was charged, 
and which they understood that the authorities required 
them to pay. And in the event of death, in nine 
cases out of ten, the heirs and representatives of the 
deceased who take up his land, would be quite as 
ready to take up the debt as if it were their own, and 
anyhow whoever took the land would have to take up 
the debt. In estates under the Court of Wards, not 
leased out but managed direct by revenue officials, 
large sums are often given out as advances, and again 
recovered to the uttermost fraction. Or when some 
loss is sustained by men dying, or others whose cattle 
have died, and whose crops have failed absconding,* 
this under good management is small. 

Nor is it even necessary, though it is desirable, that 
there should be authority behind to sanction the debt. 
A gentleman, many years a planter in a district of 
which the writer had charge for a decade, remarked 
to him, speaking of cultivators : — 

" Deal with them wisely and fairly, and there is no 
difficulty. I give out large advances every year. I 
have never had a suit in any court with any ryot, and 

* As a rule it is bad management when men abscond. It is 
from fright they do so ; they know they owe money ; they find 
themselves, by some calamity, beggars ; they do not know what 
the consequences may be, and they run away. Many a time, in 
wards' estates, have I sent some relative with a few rupees to re- 
assure and bring such men back, and many a time have I known 
others, who could not be traced, come back two, three, four, years 
later, with their whole debt, earned elsewhere, in their hands. 


[ 82 ] 

I have never lost any money worth speaking of. Mis- 
fortunes will happen, and you may have to wait and 
to do what sometimes looks like throwing good money 
after bad, but give them time and they will pay, if 
they feel you have always been on the square with 

It may safely be asserted that it rests merely with 
us to redeem our people from the slavery of debt, and 
to ensure them a continuance of the enjoyment of the 
major portion of the capital hitherto available to 
them, and on incomparably easier and more satisfactory 

But it is conceivable that in some particular locality 
there might be a temporary strike of the money- 
lenders, and it is not only conceivable, but certain, 
that in some localities the Agricultural Department 
will find that the capital theretofore there available is 
wholly inadequate for the efficient working of the 

So most certainly it is necessary to foresee the pro- 
bability in some instances of Government having itself 
temporarily to undertake the duty of making ad- 

Here it will perhaps be said that the system has 
already been tried and has failed. As a matter of 
fact, no real trial has ever been made, and it is, 
humanly speaking, certain that any properly made 
trial must succeed. 

What has been done two or three times is this : 
Some district officer, already burthened with abso- 
lutely innumerable other duties, answerable to from 
twelve to twenty different superiors, each worrying 

[ 83 ] 

his life out about his own section of the administration, 
has yet seen what was wanted and has asked permis- 
sion to make advances. This has been accorded on a 
small scale, too small to pay its way, but still calcu- 
lated to be of some use as an experiment. A begin- 
ning has been made, in one instance that I can recall 
in Oudh, on marvellously good lines, considering that 
the responsible officer had no time to give to the 
matter. Still his heart was in it, and at first some- 
thing seemed to be coming of it. Long before any 
conclusion could be formed, the father of the scheme 
falls sick, or is promoted, or is transferred, and a new 
man comes who cares for none of these things ; how 
many amongst us care to be bothered with other 
folks' trouble-giving children ? Of course ^he scheme 
dies away. 

Naturally I contemplate no such half-hearted ped- 
dling arrangements. The advances must be on a scale 
to pay for their administration, and the officer who 
makes them must have these and nothing else to attend 
to ; it must be by these he makes or mars his reputa- 
tion, stands or falls. 

The agriculturist can well afford to pay nine per 
cent, for any money he wants. It is to him what 
money at three per cent would be to a farmer at 

"With no courts, no stamps, no bonds, nine per cent, 
will, if work is done on a considerable scale, pay all 
expenses of management, all losses, and return at least 
a clear six per cent. 

It is not even possible that Government should have 
to undertake this business generally; it will only 

6 * 

L 84 J 

be in some special localities tliat its intervention 
will be needed. Nor is it contemplated tliat it should 
anywhere permanently carry it on ; there are political 
objections to an alien Government becoming the uni- 
versal creditor. Men are but men, and when the debt 
grew burthen some and hard to be repaid, there might 
be a tendency to seize the sponge of rebellion and 
wipe out the foreign creditor. And, indeed, even 
from the first it is probable that much of the capital 
required for these rural banks could be obtained 
locally from natives on a guarantee of six per cent., 
the money only to be called for as required, and to 
be repayable at any time. Great native bankers even 
have repeatedly assured the writer, that when money 
was perfectly safe, and there was no chance of courts 
or other trouble, they were well satisfied to have a 
portion of their money out at six per cent. And by 
a little tact in dealing with the subscribers, utilising 
their local knowledge, giving them a sort of voice in 
the management of affairs, and so paving the way for 
it, there is no doubt that after a time Government 
would be able to drop out of these rural banks, leaving 
them in the hands of partners or associations, and 
retaining no responsibility except for keeping up the 
rural judges, before whom the advances would be 
made, and who would settle disputes about them, 
(and once the system was in force there would be 
few of these,) and for giving effect, as above described, 
to the judge's decisions. 

But we must not pursue further this inexhaustible 
subject ; suffice it if we have conveyed some idea of 
the more prominent features of this great obstacle to 

[ 85 ] 

agricultural reform, and have afforded some indication 
of the direction in which remedies may be sought. 

There is another large, and in Upper India very 
pressing, question which must have the early attention 
of the Agricultural Department. "We have already 
described the progress and explained the inevitable 
future results of that insidious saline efflorescence 
known locally as '' re/^." No one can doubt that one 
of two measures is essential — either give up all hopes of 
making canals pay, and only allow irrigation, in locali- 
ties where the soil is favourable to the formation of 
this pest, once or twice in every ten or eleven years, 
in other words, in seasons of severe drought, or lower 
the level of your head of water, reduce your subsoil 
water level, allow only irrigation by lift and none by 
flow, and have recourse to subsoil drainage. 

So little is generally understood of the natural pro- 
perties of soils that here in India, at any rate, two 
strong objections are often raised to subsoil drain- 
age :— 

1st. — That the soils are poor enough and light 
enough as they are, and that to encourage the water 
to run through them as a sieve, would in two or 
three years ensure all " the goodness " being washed 
out of them. 

2nd,— That where ''reh'* is concerned, all subsoil 
drainage could do would be to draw into the soil what 
is now on the surface, and make matters worse. 

The answer, as all agriculturists know, is complete. 
Without trenching on debateable ground, and avoiding 
the details of this very difficult question, it may be 

[ 86 ] 

stated that, so far from water passing through the soil 
being able to wash out of it "the goodness," the soil 
exercises the most powerful attraction over the food 
constituents of plants, and not only retains those ex- 
isting in it but seizes these out of solutions passing 
through it. Thus phosphoric acid, potash, ammonia, 
and (except in soils verj poor in lime) silicic acid, the 
most important of the food elements, obtained from 
the soil, cannot normally be washed out of it by any 
amount of subsoil drainage ; on the contrary, the soil 
acts like a filter to arrest these and decomposes solu- 
tions containing these which pass through it in order 
to retain them. 

Of course there are limitations, most prominent 
amongst which is the fact that for each soil there 
seems to be a point of saturation, if we may use the 
word, of each food constituent ; up to that point the 
soil seizes all it can get of that element ; beyond that 
point it allows it to pass away in solution. Nothing is 
more greedily seized by most soils than potash, but 
you may get bog-earths that allow potash solutions 
to pass through them untouched. 

Of course, you may raise the point of saturation for 
any element by adding more of some other element, 
but this is in effect changing the soil. For each soil 
the point of saturation for each food constituent is 
liable to vary. 

Other minerals, not useful to plant-life, pass freely 
in solution through the soil, and food constituents 
even, when by the chemistry of the soil they have 
assumed forms useless as the food of plants, or forms 
of which there is already a full supply, pass away. 

[ 87 ] 

So while by subsoil drainage our soils will lose* no 
appreciable percentage of plant food not already stored 
therein up to their maximum retention capacity, all 
the excess salts now lying thick on the surface will 
be redissolved, carried down through the soil, so far as 
needed, decomposed therein, all useful portions re- 
tained which are necessary to make up the full capital 
stock that the particular soil can hold, and the excess 
together with useless or injurious matter passed away 
with the drainage water. 

Varying as does the composition of this always com- 
plex saline efflorescence, in different localitiest very 
different additions to the soil, organic or mineral, may 
be necessary to enable it to seize the maximum share 
of the utilisable portions of the " reh " when by sub- 
soil drainage it is filtered downwards. 

All these are details which must be worked out by 
experiment on scientific principles ; the broad truth 
remains that save under, for India, exceptional circum- 
stances, the only practicable mode of purifying land 
now sterilised by this '' reh,'^^ or protecting land in 
course of being so sterilised, is by passing the excess 
of saline matters away by subsoil drainage. 

It is needless to add that, independent of this spe- 
cial evil, subsoil drainage, and the deep working and 
oxidization of the soil that it involves, by multiplying 

* In solution, of course, is meant ; mechanically, anything may, 
by bad arrangements, be swe2>t away. 

t Lime, soda, potassium, magnesia, as carbonates, chloride, 
sulphates, nitrites, and nitrates, all occur, but the soda salts are 
usually the chief constituents, and the nitrites and nitrates are 

[ 88 ] 

many fold the area of storage of moisture and food 
constituents available to the crops, must in the case 
of many* soils exercise a most powerful influence in 
controlling the ravages of drought. 

The great difficulty with us, where subsoil drainage 
is most required, is to obtain a suitable outfall, but 
this again, like so many of the points touched on in 
the foregoing remarks, is just one of those questions 
that we require an Agi'icultural Department to thresh 
out thoroughly. 

Innumerable other minor matters naturally suggest 
themselves as falling within the scope of the Agricul- 
tural Department. 

One not unimportant point is economy in seed grain. 
It is astonishing what an enormous amount of grain 
is wasted in most parts of the country in over-seed- 
ing, the result being a poorer and lighter crop than if 
one-third of the quantity had been used as seed. It 
ought not to be difficult to bring this gradually home 
to the minds of the masses. 

The unquestionable improvement in the size, 
strength, and condition of the major portion of the 
cattle when relieved of the cruel yearly fast which 
now so certainly dwarfs the young, and injures per- 
manently the stamina of the adults, has been already 

♦ In the preceding remarks I liave endeavoured to avoid putting 
forward partial as absolute truths. Yet I feel that even now there 
is scarcely a sentence that does not require further limitations 
and qualifications to make it accurate ; but how is it possible to 
convey in a couple of pages truly accurate ideas on such subjects ? 
A general, if rather hazy, bird's-eye view, neglecting' all but the 
most prominent features, is all that can be hoped for. 

[ 89 ] 

alluded to. Few realise how great this improvement 
would be ; the writer has out of pure pity taken almost 
moribund calves out of skeleton herds, to turn them 
out, three or four years later, double the weight and 
almost half as bis: asfain as any adult in the herd from 
which they sprung. Ensure the existing herds sufficient 
food all the year round for a dozen years, and the 
whole aspect of our cattle will have changed. But it 
is not therefore contended that much besides this may 
not be done to improve the breed in many places by 
an infusion of a superior strain. On the contrary, 
there is no question that this will have to be done. 
There are whole provinces in which the climate is less 
favourable to cattle than that of others, and where the 
constant infusion of new blood will be necessary to 
maintain a fine breed. There are limited tracts asfain 
where the cattle are perhaps, for the purposes for 
which we require them, second to none in the world, 
and clearly the diffusion of these fine strains will be- 
come a necessity later. And perhaps the Agricultural 
Department may improve on these even by judicious 

It must here, however, be noticed, for the mistake 
is often made, that the last cross we require is with 
prize English cattle. At home they have for genera- 
tions bred for meat and milk. "We want to breed for 

If existing domestic breeds do not suffice (and they 
are very numerous and some of them very fine), then 
further efforts should be made to obtain crosses from 
the magnificent indigenous wild stocks (the Gaur and 
the Mithun, Bos gaurus and Bos frontalis), grand 

[ 90 ] 

beasts that stand seventeen hands high, whose rush 
is Hke that of a broad-gauge express, and who yet 
scamper over rocks and ravines almost hke goats. 

Greater cleanliness in harvesting, and greater care 
in separating grains* and seeds intended for or likely 
to reach foreign markets, would probably do much to 
improve the demand for our agricultural products, and 
doubtless some endeavours will be made by the Agri- 
cultural Department to impress this on the people, both 
by precept and by example at their own farms, but 
this is typical of a whole class of reforms, on which it 
is needless to touch, as they must mainly be brought 
about by private enterprise and by the pressure of pur- 
chasers. Could we only secure a fairly steady and 
moderately large export trade in wheat and barley, for 
instance, there is no doubt that in a very few years 
the better prices given by the purchasing agents of 
exporting firms would effect a complete change in the 
existing slovenly practices, but unfortunately it would 
seem that, at any rate until the more easily acces- 
sible virgin lands of Western America are more or less 
exhausted (and they do appear to be exhausting these 
in a wickedly wasteful manner), it will only be under 
favour of bad seasons elsewhere, or of wars interfering 
with the natural course of trade, that our wheat is 
likely to find a wide European market. t 

* It is not merely that grains of two species should not be 
muddled up together as now, but that the different qualities of 
each grain, e.g. red and white, soft and hard wheat, and the like, 
should be kept distinct. 

t It has, however, been asserted that a great deal of this 
wheat has been put into the European market below its cost 

[ 91 ] 

Again, as typical of another class of duties whicli 
the Department would undertake, but of which little 
need here be said (so obviously do they fall within its 
province) may be instanced, the improvement of staples, 
both by disseminating the better existing indigenous 
varieties in tracts where now only inferior ones are 
cultivated, and by further improving the best existing 
sorts by selection* and careful cultivation. 

But among the secondary objects of the Depart- 
ment, not perhaps so obvious, may certainly be men- 
tioned the improvement of agricultural implements and 
mechanical appliances. The magnificent mechanical 
developments of European scientific agriculture are, 
and will for many generations probably remain, 
utterly unsuited to Indian requirements. On the 
other hand, the mdigenous appliances that here do 
duty for these, are of the crudest and most inefficient 
character. Improvements in these are urgently called 
for, but they have yet to be created, and this not by 
the bodily importation of the results achieved by 

price, having been carried in America at nominal rates in conse- 
quence of certain railway combinations. In the absence of par- 
ticulars, it is impossible to say whether this can appreciably affect 
our future trade. 

* The word " selection " is here used in its widest sense, and is 
not intended only to signify the picking out for seed purposes the 
biggest grains out of the finest ears and the like. It is meant to 
include the careful study of varieties, with reference to local con- 
ditions, and the further development of peculiarities which in any 
locality tend to diminish the chance of the failure of the crop or 
increase its probable yield. Take, for instance, the Long-husked 
Giant Millet (or Choncha Jowar)^ which is even now almost proof 
against the attacks of crows, mainas, and the like, and which a 
very slight further development of its peculiarity would render 
absolute proof against all birds but parroquets. 

[ 92 ] 

science in Europe, but by the application of tbe prin- 
ciples on which those results are based to the widely 
different conditions and requirements of this country. 
Of these, the people who pester Government to pur- 
chase grand combined steam ploughing, reaping and 
threshing machines for the ryots here, seem to have 
about as accurate a conception as a certain Maha- 
rajah, who was with difficulty dissuaded from sending 
home an elephant to an old pensioner at Bayswater 
(who complained of being no longer able to get about 
on foot and being too poor to keep a conveyance), had 
of those of our London suburbs. 

Perhaps next to ploughs, in regard to which Mr. 
Buck has already done something (and if we had half 
a dozen provincial Directors, each aided by proper 
mechanical engineers, and each improving on the im- 
provements of his neighbours, we should soon get the 
very thing wanted), next we say to ploughs, no me- 
chanical appliances will more emphatically demand the 
study of the Department than those for raising water 
by wind-power. Assuming, as we may, that as the 
Agricultural Department obtains a real hold upon the 
country, high-level canals rendering subsoil drainage 
impossible, and involving the gradual sterilisation of 
the soil, wherever this is at all appreciably impreg- 
nated with saline substances, will become things of 
the past, and assuming, too, that irrigation on a 
rational system will be largely developed, the import- 
ance of cheap and efficient contrivances for raising 
water becomes obvious. 

And for cheapness, in a country like India where, 
over whole provinces, winds blow with almost the re- 

[ 93 ] 

gularity of clockwork, probably no motive power could 
compare with that of wind. 

At present a gigantic wind-power (second only to 
the equally unutilised sun-ray power) is running to 
waste, utterly uncared for over the whole empire, and 
any successful application of this to the purposes of 
irrigation would inaugurate a new era in the history 
of Indian Agriculture. 

But it never was intended in this paper to enter into 
details like these, or to attempt even in the most pre- 
liminary fashion an exhaustive sketch of the work 
which lies before a real working Department of Agri- 
culture in India. On the contrary, although we may 
even now form certain general conceptions of some of 
the problems awaiting its investigations, it will not 
be until years after its establishment that the Depart- 
ment itself will be in a position to set out the majority 
of these problems with that precision and fulness 
which is essential to any scientific method of solution. 

After all, despite the attempts that have been made 
in this paper to give a somewhat more definite, and 
to the ordinary mind, more satisfactory reply, the best 
answer to the question — '' For what do we need an 
Agricultural Department in India?" — must still re- 
main, — firstly, to ascertain precisely what reforms are 
essential in our existing agriculture, as practised in 
various parts of the empire ; secondly, to work out 
systematically the best methods of carrying through 
these reforms. 

[ 95 ] 


Note A. 

(Extract from an unpublished Memoir on the Agriculture of the 
JDuabf written in 1859-60.) 



Our European calendar year, which is based on the true tropical 
year, or the interval between two successive arrivals of the sun at 
the vernal equinox, provides for the return of the seasons on which 
depend all agricultural operations on the same dates, year after 

Not so the native calendar, which is alone in general use amongst 
our up-country agriculturists. They have, it is true, a Sourhurkh 
or solar year of 365 days, and Sourmas or solar months ; but these, 
though referred to by tlie Pundits in calculating horoscopes, and 
fixing auspicious days and seasons for marriages and the like, are 
dead letters to the rural population, who universally, in every- 
day practice, deal only with a lunar year of 12* months, consisting 
of between 354 and 355 days. This year being more than ten 
days shorter than the tropical year, a thirteenth month, known as 
Lond or Adhikmas, has to be intercalated every 32 or 33 months, 
and a variety of other corrections (which I once knew, but have 

* These 12 lunar months, of about 29 days and 12f hours, which reckon 
from new moon to new moon, i.e. from the moon leaving its conjunction 
with the sun to its return to conjunction, must not be confounded with the 
periods (of about 27 days 7| hours) at the end of which the moon returns to 
a position amongst the stars nearly coincident with that it held at the com- 
mencement of such period. 

[ 96 ] 

now forgotten) have to be applied ; the result of which is, that the 
seasons do not recur year after year on the same dates, or even in 
the same months. 

The consequence of this non-conformity is that, as a rule, agri- 
cultural operations are, so far as any calendar goes, chiefly governed 
by what our villagers call naJchats, and the Pundits nichattr ; pro- 
perly speaking, I believe, nakshattra. These nakhats are nothing 
but subdivisions of the Zodiac, of which there are 27 in all, or 2^ 
in each ^'burj " or sign, and their names are given to the periods 
during which the sun's apparent path lies within them. Of course 
by the slow effects of precession and nutation, the seasons in 
which these nakhats fall very slowly change, but practically they 
are sufficiently immutable for every-day life, and cultivators com- 
monly enquire about them from the Pundits, regulate their sow- 
ings not a little by them, and have the firmest belief in certain 
traditional prognostications, favourable and unfavourable, to their 
crops, dependent on what happens during their course. 

With the 15 nakhats that lie between about the 27th November 
and 23rd May we need not concern ourselves, as one hears com- 
paratively little of the good or evil influence of these; but the 12 
nakhats which begin about the 23rd May play an important part, 
according to our agriculturists, in all their operations, and must 
be separately noticed. 

1. EoHiNEE. — From about* the 23rd May to the 5th June. In 
this period, say the people, the rains should commence, and this is 
the time to sow maize, oorud (Phaseolus Roxhurghii) — murrooa 
(Eleusine coracana). The native couplet runs — 

" Rohinee mirgsir boo mukkha 
Oordh, Murrooa, deo na taka " : 

" Sow maize and mash (or oorud) and millets in Eohinee or Mirg- 
sir, but, pay no rent." 

2. Mirgsir. — From about the 6th to the 19th June. In this 
period also the crops above mentioned are sown, but if much rain 
falls during it, neither jowar (Sorghum vulgare) nor cotton must 
be sown, otherwise, when they come to flower, insects will surely 
attack them ; the only consolation being that if it rains well in 
Ootra nakhat {vide infra) the insects will disappear. Panicum 
milliaceum, though generally a hot- weather crop with us, is said 

* Owing to differences in the calendars, the nakhats do not always begin 
on exactly the same European dates, sometimes Rohinee, for instance, begins 
on the 22nd May. 

[ 97 ] 

to succeed specially well if sown at this time. I have never seen 
it grown at this season, but the proverb runs : — 

" Mirgsir men boo chena, 
Zemindar ko kuch mut dena" : 

" Sow chena* in Mirgsir, give nothing to the zemindar." 

3. Adra. — From about 20th June to the 4th July. This is the 
great sowing season, and if only sufficient rain falls at this time, 
the majority of the autumnal crops are got in. For til (Sesamum 
orientale), jowar (Sorghum vulgare), urhur (Cajanus indicus), moth 
(Phaseolus mungo), moong (P. mungo), cotton, Rousa or Loheea 
(Dolichos sinensis), kulthi or hoortee or hhutwas(D. uniflorus) , oorud 
or mash (P. Boxhurghii), suman (Panicum miliare), huknee (P. 
italicum), and some others of the lesser millets, this is the time 
par excellence, but hajera (Penicillaria spicata) is said not to succeed 
if sown in this nahhat. If there is no rain at this time, the yield, 
both of cotton andyowar, is seriously endangered. 

4. PooNBURSoo. — From about the 5th to the 17th July. This 
and the next following nahhat are the favourite sowing times for 
rice ; the legend runs : — 

" Pookh, Poonbursoo bowe dhan 
Aslaikha ko do din parman " : 

" Poonbursoo, Pookh, and two days of Aslaikha are best for 
sowing rice." Bajera is also sown to some extent during this 

5. Pookh. — From about the 18th July to the 1st August. This 
is the best time for sowing hajera, and rice that could not be got 
in in Poonbursoo is sown now. 

" Boo bajera aye Pookh, 
Phir man mate bhogo sookh." 

In other words, if you want things to go happily sow your bajera 
when PooJch appears. 

6. Aslaikha. — From about the 2nd to the 15th August. Kodon 
(Paspalum scrohiculatum) is generally sown at this time. Heavy 
rain during this period is considered very injurious, and clear 
weather during its continuance is greatly preferred. If it does 
rain, the cultivators never allow the water to lie in the fields (ex- 
cept perhaps in those of rice and sugar-cane), but drain it off or 
bale it out most perseveringly. You may sometimes see every 
man, woman, and child in a village hard at work at this. If the 

* This is the common native name for P. miliaceum, and is of course quite 
different from chunna, which is the ordinary gram. 


[ 98 ] 

water be allowed to lie, the crops turn yellow, and even if they do 
not rot, yield a much smaller harvest. 

7. MuGHA.— From about the 16th to the 29th A^ugust. This is 
considered the most critical time of the year, and good rains are 
devoutly prayed for. The people say : — 

" Mugha ke burse, 
Mata ke purse " : 

" The rains of Mugha are like mother's milk." 

Not only does the Tcharif or autumn crop greatly depend on 
good rains at this time, but many of the rabi or spring staples, 
and most especially gram, are thought to be materially influenced 
for the better by really good heavy rain. At this time good 
rains in this nakhat make up for most previous shortcomings ; as 
the people say " Chhoot khet ootur jata hai," " The failings of the 
fields disappear." The only exceptions are, til (Sesamum orien- 
tale) and other oil seeds ; in their case it is asserted that if it rains 
without stopping during the first five days of Mugha, insects are 
sure later to attack the plants. The water of this naJchat, unlike 
that of the preceding one, is commonly allowed to lie in the fields, 
and is said to be specially beneficial to many of the millets and 
pulses. On the whole this is the period on which, according to 
the cultivators, most depends : — 

" Jo kahin Mugha burse Jul, 
Sub najon men honge phul " : 

" If only Mugha gives us rain, 
Every field will teem with grain." 

8. PooEBA. — From about the 30th August to the 11th Sep- 
tember. Eain at this time is considered injurious ; if the weather 
is clear, blight and insects rarely do much harm, but if there is 
much rain, they make sad havoc of the crops : — 

" Jo kahin Poorba pani dewen, 
Jinson sub ko keera khawen " : 

" Whenever Poorba brings us rain. 
In every crop, worms mar the grain." 

9. OoTTEA.— From about the 12th to the 25th September. Eain 
during this period is most desirable ; the crops make great pro- 
gress, and where insects have attacked the plants, they dis- 
appear. The legend goes that if there is good rain at this time, 
the harvest will be so plentiful that even the dogs will be too 
satiated with grain to eat it. 

" Jub bursenga Oottra 
Naj na^^khawen^kootra " ; 

[ 99 ] 

10. HusT. — From about the 26tli September to the 8th Oc- 
tober. If there has been no rain in the previous period, it is 
anxiously looked for now, and under any circumstances, thougb 
rain at this time may injure some of the Jcharif crops, it will be 
most beneficial for the rahi. 

11. Chittea. — From about the 9th to the 22nd October. If the 
two previous nahhais have passed without rain, and there is much 
rain in this one, the kharif is reckoned as lost, and apprehensions 
of scarcity, if not famine, become serious. Although thus inju- 
rious to the kharif, it promises well for all the rahi crops, except 
barley (which it is said to injure), and this, I think, is the purport 
of the traditional couplet: — 

" Oottra, ootur de gaeen, Hust gae mookh more, 
Jae jo kuheeo Chittra se, gae sumae lao buhore " : 

*' Oottra's come and gone again. Hust has passed with face 
averted. Go, prithee, and bid Chittra bring a missing harvest 
back again." 

12. SwANT. — From about the 23rd October to the 4th Novem- 
ber. Eain at this period is most injurious to the majority of the 
autumn crops. Cotton it almost ruins if heavy ; indeed the 
legend says : — 

" Jo bursen Poonurbus Swant, 
Chule na churka, buji na tant " : 

" If both Poonurbus rain and Swant, spindles and looms alike 
stand still." 

Jowar loses its flavour, and the grain turns a reddish brown. 
Bajera yields but little, and that little very often so indurated as 
to be nearly useless. As for the " musemah," as the pulses (oordh, 
moong, moth, rousa) are collectively called, insects attack and more 
or less seriously injure them. 

My own personal experience does not lead me to place imjoUcit 
confidence in these standing prognostications (of which, by the 
way, I have only noted a few of the most important), but they 
are so generally believed in by our cultivators that it was impos- 
sible to overlook them in even the briefest sketch of the existing 
state of agriculture, and they may possibly embody more or less 
substantially correct generalisations from the experience of bygone 
ages. I have given only the existing popular versions, but the 
Prakrit originals are known to some Pundits. 

All these prognostications refer, as will have been seen, to that 
agriculturally pre-eminently important portion of the year lying 
between the beginning of June and the end of October, which in- 

[ 100 ] 

eludes the periodical* i-ains ; and, indeed, it is only natural that 
in a country like the plains of the Duab the cultivator's chief 
source of anxiety should be the rains ; for though the extension 
of canals is slightly changing the position of affairs, a bad rainy 
season still means a bad harvest, high prices, and scarcity ; and a 
good one, plenty and comparative comfort to all classes. 

It is hardly necessary to say that, with so much at stake, an 
ignorant and superstitious people have recourse to a variety of 
ceremonies, both to ensure success to their cultivation and to as- 
certain, beforehand, their prospects. The taking of omens (she- 
goon) is ^universally practised, the full moon of Asarh (generally 
in June) being one of the great days for this. The methods 
adopted are very various, but the most popular are those based 
on the direction of the wind at the time of the full moon of Asarh, 
Pun purchutea as it is termed. The cultivators assemble in some 
open plain, collect a little finely-powdered earth, and throw it up 
in the air. If the dust drifts northwards, the omen is bad, and 
insufficient rains are expected ; if southwards, westwards or east- 
wards, it is favourable. Sometimes, instead of earth, raw cotton is 
loosely twisted into a thread and tied to the end of a bamboo 
(this is called Dhttjahundee), and the direction of the wind ascer- 
tained from this. In all cases, a south, south-east, or south-west 
wind at this time is considered to indicate bad rains and a poor 
harvest. This is only one class of omen. All kinds of absurd 
practices are in vogue ; for instance, at this same full moon, a few 
ounces of grain are carefully weighed, and are placed in little 
earthen saucers, in some cfpen and elevated place well away from 
the village. Next morning the grain (if any remains, my expe- 
rience being that it is generally eaten during the night) is care- 
fully weighed ; if it has gained weight the cultivator is sanguine 
of a good harvest ; if it has lost, then he looks for a poor crop ; 
if it has disappeared altogether, then the harvest will be as God 

Ridiculous as these superstitions must seem, they deserve notice, 
because cultivators are often governed in their choice of crops for 
the coming season by the result of these omens, and because it is 
impossible to introduce any improved system of agriculture with- 
out realising the extent to which the present practice of the art is 
governed by superstition. 

* The periodical rains of the rainy season, which occur between Asarh and 
Kwar, say from June to October, are called " Chomas," while the cold-weather 
showers, which ought to occur about Christmas, are known as the " Mahawut." 

[ 101 ] 

Note B. 

Some matters Agricultural and Horticultural in which the Depart- 
me7it of Agriculture has been able to assist. 

One step towards the development of agricultural and industrial 
enterprise in India certainly consists in the collection and dis- 
semination of useful information. There has always been a good 
deal of information on record on matters connected with this im- 
portant subject, but scattered and hidden in public offices and 
elsewhere, undigested, fragmentary, incomplete, and vague. One 
of the first objects of the Department was to gather up all this 
information, collect fresh facts by special enquiry, co-ordinate the 
whole, bring the facts down to the latest date, and i^ublish them 
in a handy and useful way for general information. Amongst 
the papers published in accordance with this plan are the fol- 
lowing : — 

1. An account of silk. 

2. A repoi*t on tobacco. 

3. A note on lac. 

4. A note on vanilla. 

5. A note on flax. 

6. A note on the Eucalyptus globulus, or blue gum of Australia. 

7. A note on the various other species of Eucalyptus adapted to 

cultivation in India. 

8. A note on Ceratonia siliqua, the carob tree. 

9. A note on Galophyllum inophyllum, an oil-producing tree. 

10. A note on Malachra capitata, an excellent fibre, quite neg- 

lected as yet. 

11. A note on the Arachis hypogcea (the ground nut). 

12. A note on Sorghum saccharatum, a valuable fodder. 

13. A note on Cardamom cultivation. 

14. A manual of Cinchona cultivation in India. 

Others are still under preparation in the Department : 

15. On dyes and tans. 

16. On fibres, with special reference to paper-making. 

17. On Carolina rice. 

18. On wheat. 

19. On Manilla hemp. 

Some of the Local G-overnments have followed the example thus 
set, and under their instructions reports on jute, tea, tobacco, and 
cotton have been compiled by local officers. In the N.-W. P. espe- 
cially the local Department of Agriculture and Commerce has 
issued notes on economic minerals, gums and resins, and dye- 


[ 102 ] 

stuffs, and a Dictionary of Agriculture is under preparation. In 
Madras a text-book of Agriculture has been compiled by Mr. 
Eobertson, but in these two provinces alone has the examine and 
encouragement given by the Department for the compilation of 
agricultural text-books been of any practical use. 

Actual experiments have been undertaken in the cultivation of 
most of the articles on which papers have been jjublished, and in 
many cases the results have been very successful. In tobacco, for 
instance, but little more remains to be done by the Government, 
an energetic European firm having undertaken the cultivation and 
manufacture of it on good principles in farms made over to the 
firm for the purpose (they were old stud farms) on very favourable 
terms by the Government. 

In silk, experiments with tasar have been a complete success, 
and there is undoubtedly a splendid future for the trade in this 
article, little known or appreciated, out of India, until this De- 
l^artment moved in the matter. 

Experiments in the propagation of lac have been quite suc- 
cessful, but a fall in prices in the foreign markets renders the 
further prosecution of this business for the present unnecessary. 

The cultivation of vanilla, so profitable in Mexico and Reunion, 
a trial of which in India was strongly urged by this Department, 
was a success in one province, at any rate, until the occurrence of 
a drought which desolated it. This article otters peculiar advan- 
tages to those who would wish to derive profit from an ornamental 
plant occupying little s^jace, and which may be grown in the garden 
adjoining the house. 

The carob tree, though long previously introduced, has also, by 
the instrumentality of this Department, been largely j^ropagated, 
and this useful fodder tree and resource for human beings in 
seasons of drought (as in Cyprus) may now, like the Australian 
gums, be considered naturalised in India. 

The ground nut is extensively imported into France from the 
west coast of Africa, and this article, which is well known in India, 
though not regularly exported, may become an important trade, if 
properly worked. So far as exhortations and the supply of infor- 
mation goes, this Department has done its best to stimulate the 
cultivation of this valuable product. 

Sorgho has done remarkably well. Its very heavy yield makes 
it a most valuable crop for cattle food. Year after year this De- 
pai-tment has imported and distributed the seed, has directed 
and encouraged the experimental culture of the plant, and has 
collected from the growers, and compiled and published records 
of the results. 

Cinchona is now completely established in India, and the alka- 
loid prepared from the bark is largely used in the hospitals and in 
private practice. 

[ 103 ] 

The introduction of the cinchona was due to others, but to the 
persistent efforts of this Department is mainly due the fact, that 
we have now an excellent and efficient febrifuge, little, if at all, 
inferior to the sulphate of quinine, which can be, and is, sold retail 
in every bazar at R. 1 (or say Is. 9d.) the ounce. 

The results of numerous experiments made with Carolina rice, 
another staple of which this Department has, year after year, im- 
ported and widely distributed, large quantities of the best seed, 
are still indecisive, but the trials are being continued. This rice 
is far superior to the finest rice now grown in India, and is 
worth, in the London market, double the price of the best Bengal 

Many of these experiments were tried in the so-called model and 
experimental farms established under instructions from, or by the 
advice and with the encouragement of, the Department. Of these 
farms, there were eight last year, viz. at Allahabad, Cawnpore, 
Nagpore, in Khandesh, in Sind, at Bangalore, in Madras, and in 
Burma. There were also two old stud farms which were made 
over on favourable terms to a European firm for the cultivation 
and manufacture of tobacco on an improved system. One of these 
was at Ghazipore, and another at Poosah. 

No doubt several of these farms were so managed as to exhibit 
rather what to avoid, than what to imitate, but located in bad 
sites, and managed by people who had no real knowledge of farm- 
ing, all the Department could do was to get such little good out 
of them as it could, and try and keep things a little straight by 
means of remarks, criticisms, and suggestions on the reports j)eri- 
odically received. 

The necessity for a proper system for the management of such 
farms, and the need for the creation of agricultural schools, work- 
ing in connection with them has been, time after time, emphati- 
cally pointed out to the local Grovernments in letters and resolu- 
tions, and close attention to the subject has been earnestly 
commended to them. Without the co-operation of the local 
Governments no sort of progress could be made as matters stood, 
seeing that, under the scheme of provincial finance, the whole 
cost of farms and agricultural schools has to be borne by provincial 

In these farms experiments have been tried with new crops as 
well as crops known in the country, under different conditions and 
in different soils, the results being carefully recorded, and trials 
have been made of improved implements of every kind, ploughs, 
pumps, hoes, &c. Of course the principle to observe is that the 
lighter, simpler, and cheaper such implements are, the greater is 
the chance of their adoption by native agriculturists, and this the 
Department has ever sought to impress on all concerned. 

Of experiments conducted under orders from the Department, 

[ 104 ] 

or with its concurrence and encouragement, the following] may be 
noticed : — 

Trials have been made to establish the relative cost of growing 
wheat and oats, with reference to communications from the Military 
Department, suggesting the extended cultivation of oats for the 
feed of troop horses. It is believed that oats cost as much to 
grow as wheat, and that the crop is not nearly as remunerative, 
and the trials were intended to verify these points. 

Trials have been made in the North- We stern Provinces and 
the Punjab with a description of rice much grown in Sikkim, 
which requii-es no irrigation. Such rice would be very useful in 
many localities. 

The value of poudrette, as a manure, has been made the subject 
of innumerable and most careful experiments. Other manures 
have also been tried from time to time, but it is unnecessary to 
refer to them, seeing that for a considerable time to come the 
principal manures within the reach of the agricultural population 
of India will be farm-yard manure, crushed bones, and poudrette, 
and against the use of the latter there are caste prejudices still to 
be overcome. 

At one time a blight threatened the utter destruction of the 
opium crop of Behar. Appearing season after season over a con- 
stantly increasing area, grave apprehensions were entertained as to 
the prospects of the important revenue depending on this crop. A 
minute and searching scientific investigation into the blight was 
undertaken under the advice of this Department by a very com- 
petent observer, Mr. John Scott, of the Calcutta Botanic Gardens, 
and this investigation, carried on over a period of some five 
years, has resulted in proving that the " blight " is due to a 
vicious system of cultivation. The seed is never changed or 
selected, the soil has been exhausted, and the plants have degene- 
rated and die from disease induced by exhaustion. The vices of 
the system of opium cultivation are, in fact, the vices which affect 
Indian agriculture generally. 

In Port Blair, also under the advice, and in most cases at the 
instance, of this Department, experiments have been made with 
Sea-island cotton, tobacco, vanilla, coffee, and Manilla hemj), in 
every case with more or less success, although the existing condi- 
tion of the settlement prevents the success being followed up on a 
large scale. 

Experiments were tried with the sunflower, which is largely 
cultivated as an oil-producer in Eussia, and which was reported 
(erroneously) to possess a malaria- destroying capacity ; but, after 
a year or so of comparative failure, it was concluded that it was 
more to the purpose to increase and stimulate the production and 
improve the quality of articles already well known in the country 
than to grow crops of which the ultimate commercial success was 

[ .105 ] 

doubtful. Amongst sucli articles may be instanced the ground 
nut (Arachis hypogcea), already referred to, and careful enquiries 
having been made, a paper has been circulated recommending it to 
the attention of cultivators and merchants. 

Malachra capitata is another indigenous article in which experi- 
ments have been made expressly at the instance of the Department. 
This fibre has been pronounced to be equal to jute, and growing 
as it does without particular care and capable of cultivation at less 
cost than jute, it is a fibre which will probably prove of great 
economic importance to Bombay. 

The improvement of the indigenous paper manufacture, and the 
provision of cheap fibres suitable for paper-making, has engaged 
much attention in this Department. A treatise on the subject has 
been for some years in course of preparation, and would long since 
have been published but for the necessity of awaiting the results 
of the experiments now being carried out in Bengal, Burmah, &c. 
in regard to bamboos, at Mr. Routledge's instance, and on a 
variety of coarse reeds and grasses. 

Other fibres, too, have engaged attention, such as the Agave, the 
wild plantain fibre of the Andamans, and the Musa textilis, produc- 
ing what is known as Manilla hemp. But chief of all the fibres of 
India, the best fibre in the world in fact, is the vteea, or ramie. 
This Department has, since 1871, perseveringly tried to obtain a 
machine adapted for the separation of the fibre from the bark, the 
existing manual process making the fibre too expensive for ordi- 
nary use. A reward of 50,000 rupees was offered for such a 
machine or process, and the best machine produced having been 
found, though meritorious in some respects, not adapted for ordi- 
nary use, the offer of a reward was renewed, further competition 
invited, and a public trial is to be held in September, at which it 
seems probable that the question at issue will be solved. 

Besides sorgho, successful trials have been made of another 
valuable forage plant (Beana luxurians), which may be said to be 
now completely naturalised. The solid- stemmed comfrey, another 
capital cattle food introduced by this Department, seems to be 
doing admirably in the Himalayas at elevations of from 3,000 to 
7,000 feet. 

Great attention has been given to the cultivation of ipecacuanha 
(another invaluable specific for one of the most fatal of tropical 
diseases), the introduction of which into India this Department 
was the first to take vigorously in hand. 

Tobacco, to which allusion has already been made, has been 
carefully tried in many places, and good exotic seed repeatedly 
imported from Havana, Manilla, and the United States, and 
widely distributed. Arrangements have also been made for a 
regular series of analyses of Indian tobacco by the Government 
Quinologist at Calcutta. 

[ 106 ] 

Cochineal was imported from Teneriffe, and tried at Bangalore, 
but failed, apparently in consequence of defects in the local man- 

The experiments made in silk of the mulberry worm, as well as 
the tasar worm, are full of promise, and, as regards the latter, 
the only question now really remaining to be solved iis whether 
cocoons can be j)i"ocured in quantity sufficient to meet the de- 
mand within the limit of price which European reelers can afford 
to give. 

The cultivation of cotton on the Egyptian system, and that of 
Liberian coffee, have both been tried with success. 

Endeavours have been made, but as yet without success, to 
obtain efficient rice-hulling machines, which would be very useful 
in some parts of the country. 

On the other hand, the attemj^ts which have repeatedly been 
made to foist elaborate agricultural machinery on the people have 
been systematically discouraged. In a poor country like India, 
where the rate of wage is extremely low and the holdings much 
sub-divided, the labour-saving machinery, which is invaluable in 
England and the United States, would be utterly useless. 

A system, not originating, however, with this Department, has been 
cordially supported and sanctioned as an experiment under which, 
in certain districts, the State will construct wells for agriculturists, 
the cost being repaid to the State by instalments. 

Similarly, though not sanguine of success, this Department has 
supported sheep-breeding in Burma, experimental farms having 
been started at Thyet Myo and Eangoon, aided by a grant from 
imperial revenues of 6,000 rupees for five years. Cattle have also 
been bred on Diamond Island and Table Island. Cattle-breeding 
in Mysore and horse-breedmg in the Punjab have been en- 
couraged, and in Oudh, as also in Burma, a qualified veterinary 
surgeon was deputed for some time to train native salutris (vete- 
rinary practitioners) to treat cattle properly when attacked by 
disease. The experiment, considering the minute scale on which 
it was tried, has been very fairly successful. 

The appointment of a Cattle Plague Commission to investigate 
and report upon the subject of cattle disease in India elicited a 
voluminous report from the Commission. The establishment of 
a Veterinary College, which project arose out of the proceedings 
of the Commission, was frustrated, as stated in another part of 
this paper, and there was no practical outcome of the work of the 
Commission, except a handy manual of the more deadly forms of 
cattle disease, of which this Department directed the preparation ; 
a most useful work, which was widely distributed, and translations 
of which, into the vernaculars of the country, were circulated ex- 
tensively amongst the agricultural community. 

This manual describes the more deadly forms of plague so plainly 

[ 107 ] 

and clearly that any man may recognise tlie form of disease from 
which his unhealthy stock is suffering ; it also prescribes the 
treatment to be applied for cure as well as the measures necessary 
to prevent infection and to keep cattle in health. 

In arboriculture the introduction or extended propagation of 
the following trees, some of which have been already noticed, has 
been effected or stimulated, in every case (except that of cork- 
oak, which is as yet doubtful) with more or less complete success : 
Mahogany, baobab, caoutchouc-yielding trees and plants, carob, 
Eucalyptus globulus and other Australian gums, prosopis of kinds, 
Spanish chestnut, cork-oak, algarroba, and the Arabian date 

In many of these cases the initiative came from elsewhere, but 
in every case this Department assisted and promoted every reason- 
able proposal so far as was possible without any machinery of its 
own, and with the very limited means at its disposal. 

London : Printed by W. H, Allen & Co., 13 Waterloo Place*