Sir W. Denison and others planting the first quinine tree in the Neilgherry hills, India. Wood engraving by M. Jackson, 1862.
- Jackson, Mason, 1819-1903.
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"The introduction of quinine-yielding cinchona-trees (Peruvian bark) into India, where that inestimable febrifuge is almost a necessary of life, has for some years engaged the attention of the Government. In 1899 Mr. Clements Markham, of the India Office, was intrusted by Lord Stanley, then Secretary of State for India, with the duty of superintending all the necessary arrangements for the collection of cinchona plants and seeds in South America, and for their introduction into India. This precious tree has never been cultivated in South America, but grows wild in the forests; and there are several species, all more or less valuable, but growing in different parts of the eastern slopes of the cordillera of the Andes, over a distance of 1740 miles. Mr. Markham resolved to obtain plants and seeds of all the valuable species. He himself penetrated into the forests of Caravaya, in Southern Peru, which had never before been trodden by any European; while he employed Mr. Spruce, a wellknown botanist, to perform the same service in Ecuador, Mr. Cross, in the forests of Loxa, and a Mr. Pritchett in the forests of Northern Peru. After facing many dangers and enduring great hardships these explorers succeeded in their object; and by March, 1862, all the valuable species of quinine-yielding cinchona plants were growing in the Government gardens on the Neilgherry Hills, in Southern India. The supply of bark from South America was every year becoming more and more precarious, owing to improvident and reckless felling of the trees. The introduction of the cinchona-trees into India had, therefore, become a matter of the greatest importance. Not only India, but the whole civilised world, will derive incalculable benefit from this undertaking, and it is impossible to overrate the advantages which may hereafter be derived from it. Quinine, from its high price, is now entirely beyond the reach of the millions who inhabit the fever-haunted districts at the roots of the mountains of India. Before long it is hoped that they may have this unfailing remedy growing at their very doors, and be able to approach the beautiful healing trees with deep feelings of gratitude for a supply of the green bark, a cure for maladies which were before incurable. To the English in India the introduction of the cinchona cultivation is of the greatest importance. Since quinine has been extensively used among the troops there has been a steady diminution of mortality, and whereas, in 1830, the average percentage of deaths to cases of fever treated was 3:66, in 1856 it was only 1 per cent, in a body of 18,000 men, scattered from Peshawur to Pegu. By the cultivation of cinchona-trees in India the supply of quinine will become more abundant and cheaper, an immense benefit will accrue, not only to India, but to the world at large, and another valuable product will swell the commerce of our great Eastern dependency. But the conveyance of cinchona plants and seeds to the shores of India would have been of little use if they had not been delivered into competent hands on arriving at their destination; and to the scientific and practical knowledge, the unwearied zeal, and skilful management of Mr. M'Ivor, the Superintendent of the Government gardens on the Neilgherry Hills, is therefore due the successful introduction of cinchona cultivation into India. In June, 1861, Mr. M'Ivor had only 2114 cinchona plants in the glass houses at the Government gardens ; but, thanks to his unrivalled skill in propagating, by the latest accounts (October, 1862) he had increased the stock to 80,456 plants; of which 22,000 were already permanently planted out in plantations in the open air. Mr. M'Ivor, in conjunction with Mr. Markham, who went to India for the purpose, selected suitable sites for cinchona plantations on the slopes of the Neilgherry Hills, and there will soon be about 700 acres covered with cinchona-trees. The Government has already sanctioned the sale of 20,000 plants to private individuals, coffee-planters, and others, at four annas (6d.) each; and it is hoped that it will not be long before the cultivation has spread over all the hill districts of India where there is a suitable elevation and climate. … Sir William Denison, the present Governor of Madras, has from the first taken a deep interest in this important undertaking. Our engraving represents his Excellency in the act of planting the first plant in one of the new cinchona plantations, accompanied by his personal staff, and by Mr. Sims, the Chief Secretary to the Madras Government; Mr. Patrick Grant, the Collector of Coimbatore; and Mr. M'Ivor, the Superintendent of Cinchona Plantations (in the foreground holding a spade). In the background is another thriving cinchona plantation, up the side of a mountain, surrounded by uncleared jungle, and to the right is a nursery of young cinchona plants. …"-- Illustrated London news, loc. cit.
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