THE INTRODUCTION OF QUININE-YIELDING TREES INTO INDIA.*
IT is a long time since we have read a more interesting book of travels than that which we propose to make the subject of
the present notice. Its author, Mr. C. R. Markham, is already known to the public as the translator and editor of several rare and curious works for the Hakluyt Society, and as the author of a valuable work on the past and present condition of Peru. The travels which form the subject of the volume now before us were undertaken with a special object, viz., the naturalization of quinine-bearing trees into our Indian possessions. The task of collecting the necessary plants and seeds in South America was, as we shall see, not unattended by difficulty, and even by danger ; and it was one for the successful execution of which Mr. Markham was singularly well qualified, not less by his botanical knowledge than by his intimate acquaintance with the country in which the work was to be done. The great medicinal value of quinine, the high price which the drug commands in the market, and the fact that, owing to the wasteful way in which the bark has hitherto been collected, the supply is likely to diminish, rather than to increase, for the future, all combined to render it a matter of considerable importance to provide some other source for its production beside that from which it has as yet been exclusively derived. Tbe most obvious method of effecting this object was to introduce the quinine-bearing trees into some country whose climate was likely to be favourable to their growth. In many parts of the Indian peninsula all the requisite conditions were found combined ; and accordingly we find that, as early as 1852, the Governor-General, in an official despatch, urged the subject upon the consideration of the East India Company. It was not, however, till 1859, that any actual steps were taken in the matter. In that year Lord Stanley, then Secretary of State for India, accepted Mr. Markham's offer to give his services for the furtherance of this object, and authorized him to make the arrangements necessary for carrying it out. It was at the close of that year that Mr. Markham left England on that expedition, the history of which is so well told in the volume before us.
The first chapters of Mr. Markham's work contain a good deal of interesting information respecting the plants which were the object of his search. He tells us that the proper name
of the quinine-yielding tree is not, as it is commonly spelt ,Cinchona, but Chinehona, the plant having been named by Lint:mug after
the Countess of Chinchon, wife of one of the viceroys of Peru, who was the first person of distinction who was cured of fever by the use of quinine. The geographical range of the chinchona forests in South America extends over 29 deg. of latitude, from 19 deg. S. to 10 deg. N., following the almost semicircular curve of the cordillera of the Andes. Their range in altitude is between 2,500 and 9,000 feet above the sea ; and the tree appears to require an equable climate and a considerable amount of moisture. There are about 20 distinct species of chinchona ; but they may for general purposes be broadly divided into two kinds, the red bark and the grey bark. The red bark (C.
suceirubra), which is confined almost exclusively to the western
slopes of Chimborazo, contains a larger amount of alkaloid than any other species—as much, in fact, as four or five per cent, of the whole weight of the bark. This amount consists of quinine
and chinchonine in about equal proportions. The most valuable species of grey bark is the C. calisaya, which grows in Bolivia
and southern Peru, and yields from three to four per cent. of pure quinine. If a chinchona tree be left standing after being stripped of its bark, it is attacked by rot and speedily destroyed ;
but if the precaution be taken to cut itdown as close to the ground as possible, it will grow again, and will yield another crop of bark, after a period varying, according to the situation of the tree, &rin1 six to twenty years. There is, therefore, not so much dang,e'r of • Travels in Peru sad Intl's', while superintending the collection of Cimeenens Plants and Seeds In South America, and their introduction into India. By elements B. Markham, F.S.A., F.R.G.S., ttc.. author of "Cuzco and Lizoa." Murray. the actual annihilation of the chinchona trees:in South America as of the supply of the bark ceasing from time to time, owing to the forests becoming exhausted, and requiring periods of rest. In many districts this is already the case. From the country about Loxa, for instance, none but quill bark—as the product from the branches is called, in contradistinction to that from the trunk— bas been obtained for some time past ; and for the last fourteen years no bark at all has been exported from the Caravaya forests. the home of the valuable C. calisaya. The only previous attempt to guard against this danger by the introduction of chinchona trees into foreign countries was made in 1854 by the Dutch Government in the island of Java; but, owing principally to the fact that the majority of the plants imported were of an entirely worthless species, and also, in some degree, to certain mistakes in the mode of cultivation adopted, the attempt has been attended with but moderate success.
Mr. Markham arrived at Lima on January 26, 1860. He came at once to the wise conclusion that the best way of accomplishing his mission, was to send different agents simultaneously to the various localities which he wished to visit; and he was fortunate enough to meet with gentlemen well qualified for and willing to undertake the work. He despatched Mr. Spruce to Ecuador, the home of the red barks, and sent Mr. Pritchett to Huanuco, in Peru, to collect the seeds of several valuable species of grey bark, reserving for himself, the more difficult task of visiting the distant forests of Caravaya, on the borders of Bolivia and southern Peru. Knowing that the Bolivians were strongly opposed to the removal of any chinchona trees from their country, he resolved to confine his operations within the Peruvian frontier, hoping, erroneously, (as it subsequently proved,) that, as there is no bark trade of any importance in Peru, no such jealousy would be felt on the subject of his mission. Early in March he went to Islay by sea, and thence proceeded, through Arequipa, to Puno, on the shore of Lake Titicaca. From this place he advanced to Crucero, the capital of the province of Caravaya, distant from Puno about 150 miles, and situated on the western slopes of the main chain of the Andes, on the other side of which lay the forests which were the object of his journey. On April 18 he left Crucero, crossed the Andes by a pass which 4‘ in its best parts was like a steep back-attic staircase after an earthquake," and reached the village of Sandia on the 20th. Here it was necessary to make the final preparations for his attack on the forests. Mr. Markham's original design had been to make his present journey a kind of preliminary expedition, and to defer making his principal collection of plants and seeds till the month of August, when the seeds of the C. calisaya are ripe. But, shortly after leaving Crucero, he had met with a "red-faced man" named Don Manuel Martel, who took occasion to speak of the agent employed by the Dutch Govern- ment in 1854, and to vow that if he or any one else ever again attempted to take chinchona plants out of the country, he would stir up the people to seize them and cut their feet off. Mr. Mark- ham got rid of him without any difficulty; but he had not been two days at Sandia before he found that Don Manuel had written to several of the inhabitants of that place ; and he saw that, as his mission had become the talk of the country, his only chance of success lay in anticipating any measures that might be taken against him, and commencing the collection of plants without a moment's delay. Accordingly, on April 24, he left Sandia, accompanied by Mr. Weir, an English gardener, a mestizo, or half-breed, four Indians, and two mules. He had to carry with him all the necessary supplies and provisions. In three days he reached "the extreme outpost of civilization in this direction," consisting of a small sugar-cane farm, which had been established about four months before by "an energetic and obliging old Bolivian, named Don Juan de la Cruz Gironde." Here he was lucky enough to secure the services of an experienced guide ; and on May 1 the party entered the trackless forest, where no European had ever been before. The next few days' work appears to have been very hard indeed. The worst day's journey they had is described by Mr. Markham in the following words :—" The whole way was along giddy precipices, seeming to hang half way between the sky and the roaring torrent, with no foothold but decaying leaves, nothing to grasp but rotten branches, every motion a drenching bath from wet leaves, every other step a painful and dangerous slip or fall, besides hornets and endless thorns." On May 7 their provisions were all ex- 'hausted, and they were obliged to retreat to Gironda's clearing. Th expedition bad, however, been fairly successful, about 500 chin bona plants having been collected, nearly half of which were of the valuable species C. calisaya. On May 11, just as the packing of this precious collection had been completed, a letter was brought to Girouda from the Alcalde Municipal of Quiaca, ordering him not only to prevent Mr. Markham from carrying away a single plant, but to arrest him and send him to Quiaca. Poor Gironda tried to persuade Mr. Markham to throw away the plants he had collected; but, finding him inexorable on this point, offered no further opposition to his departure early on the following morning. On the morning of May 15 the party arrived at Sandia, and found the place in a state of general excitement, letters from Quiaca having been received there also. Mr. Markham found that he was prevented from hiring mules, except to go to Crucero, where he knew that Mattel was waiting for him to oppose his further progress. From this difficulty he was relieved by a fortunate accident. An inhabitant of the village, who had taken a fancy to Mr. Markham's gun, offered, in exchange for that weapon, to procure for him an Indian who would, with two mules, go with him through an unfrequented country straight to Vilque, a town between Puno and Arequipa. Mr. Markham at once closed with this welcome offer, and, having sent Mr. Weir round by Crucero to throw Don Manuel off the scent, started on the morning of May 17 with his Indian guide. After a difficult journey he rode into Arequipa in triumph on May 27 with his plants all safe, and was joined by Mr. Weir two days later. The plants were conveyed to Islay without atiy difficulty, and after a few days' delay at that port, owing to the necessity of obtaining a permit for their ship- ment from the Finance Minister at Lima, were safely lodged on June 24 on board the steamer bound to Panama. We may as well add in this place that the expeditions undertaken by Mr. Spence and Mr. Pritchett were not less fortunate, and that both gentlemen succeeded in obtaining a considerable collection of plants and seeds.
Thus far Mr. Markham's efforts had been crowned with complete success. He had triumphed over all the obstacles which had been thrown in his way by a difficult country and a jealous and hostile population. But he had now to encounter still more serious diffi- culties, arising from the conduct, not of the opponents, but of the patrons and promoters of his mission. In the original scheme of operations submitted by him to Lord Stanley, Mr. Markham had dwelt upon the necessity of providing a steamer for the direct conveyance across the Pacific of the chinchona trees that he had collected ; and there can be no doubt that, had this reasonable request been granted, the whole stock of plants would have arrived in India in perfect health. The demand was, however, refused ; and it became necessary to send the col- lection across the isthmus of Panama to England, and thence to India by the overland route. There was not much danger of the seeds being damaged seriously by this mode of treatment ; but it was almost a certainty that the plants would suffer ma- terially from the length of the voyage and the heat of the Red Sea. And such, unfortunately, proved to be the case, to a very consi- derable extent. The first batch of plants, collected by Mr. Markham himself, was despatched from Islay on June 24, 1860, and reached England in August, in capital condition; but, on their arrival in India, they were all either dead or in such a sickly state as to be quite worthless. The instalment from Huanuco left Lima in September, and were also in a. most promising state, when they reached England ; but on their arrival in India they were all dead. The red-bark collection fortunately fared better. It sailed from Guayaquil on January 2, 1861, and, on its arrival in England in excellent order, six of the plants were, as a precaution, left at Kew, and their place supplied by six of the C. calisaya, furnished by Sir W. Hooker. At that season the climate of the Red Sea is comparatively cool ; and, owing to that fact, and, still more, to the care of an intelligent practical gardener by whom they were accompanied, 465 plants of C. succirubra and six of C. calisaya were banded over to the superintendent at the Neilgherry Hills in as good a condition as could possibly be expected. In October, 1861, Mr. Markham himself arrived in India, with a view of selecting sites for the proposed chinchona plantations. He had already fixed on the Neilgherry Hills, in the Madras Pre- sidency, as presenting the closest analogy, both in soil and climate, to the chinchona regions of South America ; and, in his search for the best position in this locality, he was aided by Mr. MacIvor, Superintendent of the Government Gardens at Ootacamund. Two sites were finally selected, one at an ele- vation of about 7,600 feet, with a north-west aspect, for the hardier species of the plant ; and the other, with a northern aspect,
- at an elevation of from 5,000 to 6,000 feet, for the red bark, and other more delicate kinds. The result of the experiment is so far most encouraging, the stock of plants having in August last increased to more than seventy thousand, all of valuable species. Mr. Markham visited several other mountain ranges in the southern part of the Indian peninsula ; and is decidedly of opinion that there are many other localities into which the chin- chona tree may be introduced with a good hope of success. In the foregoing remarks on Mr. Markham's work we have confined ourselves exclusively to that portion of it which treats of the direct object of his mission. The volume, however, • contains a considerable amount of extraneous matter, which is • well worthy of the attention of the reader. Mr. Markham takes every opportunity of giving us information respecting the an- tiquities and the present condition of Peru ; and he devotes two whole chapters to a very interesting account of the insurrection of Tupac Amara, the last of the Incas, which took place in 1780. We are glad to be able to congratulate Mr. Markham, not only on having successfully carried out the mission with which he was charged, but also on having produced a more than commonly in- teresting aud valuable book.