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The British Province of Coorg consists of a mountainous and jungly tract of country with elevations of from about 2,700 to 3,809 feet. The last is the elevation of the capital, Mercara, the tableland of which, for a stretch of about 26 miles, averages about 3,500 feet. This little province lies, as the reader will see by a glance at the map, on the south-west border of Mysore, with which, since its annexation, it has always been connected, and the Resident of Mysore invariably holds the post of Commissioner of Coorg. The population of Coorg is just over 170,000, and its area is 1,583 square miles, or about one-fourth of the size of Yorkshire. But, though small in extent and population, its Rajah and people played an important part as our allies in the war with Tippoo, and a full account of the facts is given in the history of Coorg which has been published in the "Mysore and Coorg Gazetteer." The history of the country, however, which has been gathered up by various European writers, is by no means of an alluring character, and indeed, after the beginning of this century, a more disgusting record of cruelty and oppression it would be difficult to find in the annals of any country. But three things at least the record most distinctly proves. The first is (though this hardly requires any additional proof) that man, though capable of being the best, is also capable of being by far the worst of animals; the second is that, Coorg being a sample of most of India in the times preceding ours, the Hindoos were perfectly right in leaving few annals behind them; and the third is that the blessings of British rule far exceed anything that anyone could imagine who had not read something of the condition of things in India before we took possession of it, for we have not only conferred on the people immeasurable positive benefits, but relieved them from the barbarous rule of cruel oppressors. In the case of Coorg there can be no doubt that we allowed the Rajahs of that country to carry on their work of cruelty and oppression towards their subjects for much too long a period of time, and our failure to act can only be partially excused by the fact that we were, in connection with the war with Tippoo, under great obligation to the ancestor of the Rajah we deposed. However, his vile oppression and cruel murders, which exceed anything the reader could believe to be possible, could no longer be tolerated, and in 1834 he was deposed, and his country absorbed into the British Dominions. Since that date the general welfare of the country was of course insured, and much of it is now a thriving coffee field which, as I shall afterwards show, has been of the greatest benefit to Mysore, and the adjacent British territory. Of the history and cultivation of coffee in Coorg, and my visits to the province, I now propose to give some account.
After the planting season of 1857 I went with a brother planter for a change of air to Mangalore, and from thence we went to Cannanore—a military station about 200 miles further down the coast—and, after a short stay there, rode up the Ghauts into Coorg, where we found the planters busy clearing the forest. Three years before our arrival Mr. Fowler had opened the Mercara Estate, and in 1855 Mr. H. Mann, and Mr. Donald Stewart had begun work on the Sumpaji Ghaut, while Dr. Maxwell opened up the Periambadi Ghaut Estates in 1856, and in 1857 Mr. Kaundinya founded a plantation in the Bamboo district which lies on the eastern side of Coorg. The first European plantation was, as we have seen, started in 1854, but for many years previously coffee cultivation had been carried on by natives in the Nalknaad District, though it seems to be quite uncertain as to when or how it was first introduced, or where the first seeds were obtained.
At first all seemed to be going well with coffee in Coorg, and for a good many years the fatal mistake of the planters in clearing down the whole forest, and leaving no shade over the coffee, was not decisively apparent, and from the lands that were thus cleared down on the above-mentioned Ghauts, which lie on the western side of the province, from 700 to 1,000 tons were picked annually when the coffee was at its best. But what in "the seventies" represented about £100,000 of valuable property, gradually became more and more unprofitable, till at last the estates were abandoned, and the land has now become covered with masses of Lentana (a crawling, climbing, thorny plant which has become a perfect plague in Coorg), amidst which may occasionally be seen the white walls of unroofed bungalows, and dismantled pulping houses, which testify to the melancholy ending of the work of the planters whom I found so busily engaged when, in 1857, I first entered Coorg.
Some attributed the failure to the Bug, some to the Borer, and to leaf disease, while others blamed the heaviness of the tropical rains, which washed away the valuable surface soil, the flight of which towards the western sea was much expedited by weeding with the mamoty (a digging hoe), which loosened the soil, and so prepared the way for its more rapid disappearance. And these causes no doubt hastened the end, but they were mainly results arising from one great cause—the neglect to supply shade for the coffee, and this again arose from the circumstance that most of the pioneer planters came from Ceylon where the coffee is planted in the open, and where shade is not required. And this failure, owing to the neglect of shade, had a most unfortunate effect, for it was owing to this that Coorg naturally acquired such a doubtful coffee reputation in the eyes of the uninformed public—a reputation which, as I shall afterwards show, arose not from any fault of the country as a coffee field, but solely from the fatal mistake of attempting to plant without providing shade for the coffee. And this mistake the planters, as we shall see, had great difficulty in shaking off, for when they saw the inevitable end approaching, and hastened to take up land in the eastern part of Coorg in what is known as the Bamboo district (because the jungle lands there consist very largely of forest trees interspersed with clumps of bamboos), they persisted in carrying their fatal Ceylon system with them, and Mr. Donald Stewart, called the Coffee King in Mincing Lane, who was a warm supporter of planting in the open, even issued, it is said, an order to his managers saying that if he found a single forest tree standing (the coffee around even a single tree would have proved him to be wrong) dismissal would follow. But nature proved to be too strong for Mr. Stewart and those who followed his example, and whole estates in the Bamboo district were practically exterminated by the Borer insect. At last the planters, warned by a long and bitter experience, gave way all along the line, and began to imitate the shade planters of Mysore, and shade is now as universal in Coorg as in Mysore, and under its protection the coffee in both countries thrives equally well. I may mention here that the Rev. G. Richter, who is now the second oldest resident in Coorg, took an active part in opening up the Bamboo district, and was for some time a partner in one of the estates. He has shown great zeal in endeavouring to introduce new products, such as tea, cocoa, ceara rubber, and vanilla. His manual of Coorg, I may add, is most interesting and exhaustive.[48]
Besides the first mentioned, and now abandoned coffee district, and the Bamboo district, there is the important district of North Coorg, which, though it has a smaller number of estates, certainly contains coffee that, so far as I am able to judge, it would be impossible to surpass.
There are, in all, at present in Coorg 130 European estates, with a total area of 32,323 acres (of which 20,000 are in the Bamboo district), and 6,207 native estates and gardens, aggregating in all 70,669 acres. The average production of coffee from all these sources is estimated by competent authorities at from 4,000 to 5,000 tons of coffee per annum, or of a probable annual value of from £250,000 to £300,000. The yield from a well cultivated estate averages from 3 to 4 cwt. of clean coffee per acre. Exceptional properties there are, of course, which give higher returns than this, and some could be quoted which give 6 to 7 cwt. on the average, while sensational figures might be quoted as regards some remarkable estates. But to give an account of such exceptional estates might convey a misleading idea of the general return to be obtained from coffee in Coorg, though I think it well to allude to the fact that better returns than those first mentioned can be obtained, and have been obtained, as it is always of value to know what particular pieces of land can do under the most favourable circumstances, as this opens up the important question as to whether it would not pay better to confine cultivation on an estate to a narrow area of the best soils and situations on it—a subject to which I shall more particularly refer later on in this chapter.
In the case of well cultivated estates, an expenditure of eighty rupees per acre is incurred on superintendence and field labour, and fifty rupees an acre on manures and their application, but in many European, and most native estates, a total expenditure for superintendence, labour and manures of about eighty rupees only is incurred, and the results obtained are, of course, proportionately smaller. The native gardens and plantations are, as a rule, worked on the principle of taking everything that can be got out of the land, and putting nothing into it. Were these worked on European principles, it is hardly necessary to say that the export of coffee from Coorg would be largely increased.
Cattle manure, bones, oil-cake and fish constitute the manures mainly used in Coorg. The first is universally recognized as being the most valuable for coffee, but the supply available in the Bamboo district (which contains, I may remind the reader, 20,000 out of the 32,323 acres under cultivation by Europeans), where grazing is scarce, is so small that planters have to depend to a great extent on the three last-named manures. Messrs. Matheson & Co., the owners of about 7,000 acres of coffee in Coorg, kept for some years in their employ an analytical chemist,[49] whose time was devoted to the analysis of soil, and the making of experiments on their estates, with the view of ascertaining what was best adapted for maintaining and improving their fertility. Salts of various kinds were experimented with, but, though the results from them were generally favourable, they were found to be too rapidly soluble for a climate so subject to heavy falls of rain. In the end, after many experiments, he came to the conclusion that the four above-mentioned manures were the best for the climate, and that the proportion applied should vary with the condition of the coffee. To illustrate this point I may add that in Coorg, bones and oil-cake are usually applied in the proportion of two of the latter to one of the former. If, however, a field has suffered badly from leaf disease (which destroys many of the leaves), or is not making wood as rapidly as it ought, it is customary to apply a larger proportion of oil-cake, or in some cases, to put down that manure without adding any bones. On the other hand, if there is a superabundance of wood, and it is desirable to throw the whole energies of the tree into the production of berries, then the proportion of bone manure is increased and that of oil-cake diminished.
In former times all manures were applied immediately after the crop was picked, and on estates where labour is scarce, or comes in late in the season, this system is still carried on. But from results actually obtained on estates in Coorg, it has now been proved that it is more advantageous to apply part of the manure immediately after crop, in order to strengthen the tree when the blossom showers fall (which they usually do in March and April), and to aid it in perfecting and setting the blossom, and a second portion after the heavy monsoon rains are over, in order to assist the tree in growing fresh wood, and in maturing the crop. The bones, oil-cake, and fish are usually mixed with burnt earth—a cubic yard to every five cwt. of the manure—and then scattered on the surface of the land around the stems of the trees, and forked in. The burnt earth, or indeed almost any good earth, makes an admirable addition to bones, oil-cake, and fish, for, though the first two, or the last two, furnish complete manure for coffee, they of course cannot ameliorate the physical condition of the soil, which, as I have fully shown in the chapter on manures, is often of more importance than its strictly speaking chemical condition. The burnt earth, in short, takes the place of cattle manure as a physical agent, and, for that purpose, I think that the soil, is to be preferred to cattle manure, as the former would certainly be cheaper and more lasting in its effects in keeping the soil in a loose and easily workable condition. On the other hand, it must be considered that cattle manure would be more moisture-holding than ordinary earth, though not more so than jungle top-soil, and when first applied, would be perhaps more opening to the land, than burnt or ordinary earth, but if the red earth (Kemmannu), to which I have alluded in my chapter on manures, can be obtained, that, I know from experience, would be more cooling, and moisture-absorbing than cattle manure.
I now turn to a point of great general interest, and one which furnishes another illustration of what I dwelt upon at some length in my introductory chapter, the wide-spreading value arising from the introduction into India of English capital which, as I have shown, develops the agricultural resources of the country in ever-widening circles. At first in Coorg the adjacent province of Mysore was the only source of labour supply, but the increased prosperity of the labourer consequent upon ample employment and enhanced rates of wages, enabled him to take up land for the cultivation of cereal crops in the neighbourhood of his own village, and hence the supply of labour declined, those who came to work in the plantations came later in the season, and altogether the labour supply from Mysore became more uncertain every year. Planters consequently, as they had in Mysore itself, had to go further afield, and now draw labour to a large extent from the Madras Presidency, the labourers from which in turn, will now have the means of developing the agricultural resources of their native villages. This is a point to which the attention of the Government cannot be too often drawn with the view of encouraging the opening up, by it, of every means of stimulating the employment of labour in India.
Coorg is now fairly well off for labour, and the old labour difficulties which used to be experienced have to a great extent disappeared. The average cost of Mysore labour—men, women, and children, and including the commission of the Maistries (as the men who collect and bring the labourers to the estates are called), is from 3 annas 6 pie to 4 annas a day (or say 5d. to 6d. a day, calculating the rupee at par, or 2s.). In quite recent times the maistries, who obtained large sums from the planters to make advances to the coolies, sometimes absconded with the money and thereby great losses ensued. But a better class of maistries have arisen, and Messrs. Matheson and Co. have now, with the aid of their permanent European labour agent, established a system of private registration by which the antecedents, status, and resources of the maistries are duly recorded. And though the services of doubtful maistries cannot as yet be altogether dispensed with, a preference is of course given to those of well established reputation, and the class of maistries generally is beginning to understand and appreciate the system of registration, which has every prospect of becoming general, and will, I need hardly add, be of great advantage to planters. But if maistries sometimes swindle their employers, the former are often liable to be swindled by the coolies to whom the advances have been made, and until a system of compulsory Government registration of advances to coolies is introduced, as recommended in one of my chapters on coffee planting in Mysore, it will be impossible to put our peculiar system of giving advances to coolies on a reasonably safe footing.
The plantations in Coorg have suffered, and still suffer considerably from leaf disease and Borer, to both of which I have, for practical purposes, sufficiently alluded in the chapter on the diseases of coffee. The effects of the former, though entailing much injury on coffee in Coorg, have not been so fatal as in Ceylon, as the long stretches of dry weather, often of four or five months' duration, seem to kill off large numbers of the spores, and so mitigate the damage arising from the disease. Messrs. Matheson and Co., at the instance of the chemist previously mentioned, sent out Strawsoniser spray engines for the purpose of treating afflicted trees with various solutions, but, though good effects were noticeable on individual trees, it was found that to treat whole estates in this way was quite impracticable, both from the cost and the immense amount of labour that would be required, and this fatal obstacle to the use of such remedies has been amply proved in Ceylon. But in Coorg the Borer is much more to be dreaded than leaf disease, and its ravages are such that even on the best estates fully twenty-five per cent.[50] of the acreage is under supplies (i.e., young plants to take the place of the old ones which have died), and the late Mr. Pringle—the chemist—was of opinion that the loss of crop from Borer was not less than 2 cwt. per acre per annum. Before the introduction of shade the total extermination of an estate was far from uncommon, the estate in the Bamboo district opened by Rev. H. A. Kaundinya in 1857 being the first to perish, and though, as we have seen, owing to the introduction of shade, the Borer has been largely brought into subjection, considerable damage still takes place from it. Neither trouble nor expense has been spared in order to find an antidote to this pest. Rubbing the stems with the view of destroying the eggs of the insect, and applying thereto chemical ingredients have both been tried, but with very limited results. The late Mr. Pringle's antidote consisted of the application of two washes of alkali vat waste, costing five rupees an acre each, but, when carried into practice, the results were far from what he anticipated. Taking out the bored trees and burning them has proved the most effectual way of dealing with the pest, and would be productive of still better results if native neighbours would adopt the same practice. But as they will not adopt this practice, their plantations become nursery grounds for the propagation of the insect. Many planters in the Bamboo district pay 1 rupee per hundred for the Borer fly, and this results in a large number being caught, but it is not supposed that any appreciable effect has been produced from this practice.
There can be no doubt, it seems to me, that the primary cause of the existence of so much Borer was owing to the planters having at first planted in the open. This must have created an enormous supply of the insect, which found a splendid breeding ground in the conditions furnished by the planters, as is evidenced by the fact of whole estates having been exterminated by it, and it will require many years of judicious shading before this insect can be reduced within comparatively harmless limits. The reader will observe that I say judicious shading, and I will more fully explain what I mean by that expression when, later on in the chapter, I give an account of my tour through Coorg in 1891, and make some observations on the proper shading of coffee.
Most of the European estates in Coorg and many of the larger native plantations are held under what are called "The Waste Land Rules," under which land is put up to auction by the State at an upset price of 2 rupees per acre (10 rupees is the upset price in Mysore), plus the value of the timber, which adds somewhat to the price. As a rule there is now considerable competition for land, and as much as 100 to 150 rupees has frequently to be paid per acre. The land so purchased is subject to no assessment up to the fourth year, but from the fourth to the ninth year 1 rupee is charged, and after that 2 rupees in perpetuity. The bulk of the land suitable for coffee has been taken up, though large extents that might be utilized are included in the State forests, and thus are not available to the public. Hence there is little room for extension, and openings for young men with capital are few and far between, so far as obtaining fresh forest is concerned, though of course opportunities occasionally occur for purchasing estates, or acquiring shares in them on various terms.
And here I would particularly call the attention of the Government to the following remarks on the reservation of land in Coorg for State forests, much of which, as we have seen, might be utilized for coffee.
When, as in former times in Coorg, the planters used no shade, many good arguments existed in favour of making very large reserves of forest land in order to prevent denudation, and its injurious effects on climate, and on the water supply of the rivers and the country generally. But when you merely replace the underwood of the forest with an underwood of coffee which completely covers the ground, and again shield this from drying winds and the burning sun by a complete covering of trees, either those of the original forest or others planted to take their place, the case is entirely altered, and from the coffee land thus shaded there is no more loss of water and soil (perhaps not so much loss of water, as great pains are taken to avert wash) than there was in the original forest, and the climatic and conservative effects of forests are therefore entirely undisturbed. Wherever, then, lands exist which are suitable for coffee planting under shade, they should certainly, in the interests of the country generally, and especially of the rapidly increasing population, be taken up for coffee, and the State forests be confined to those tracts which, from over heavy rainfall, or other causes, are unsuitable for coffee planting.
Other products, and especially cinchona, have received a fair amount of attention in Coorg, and the land on the Ghauts to the westward, where, as we have seen, the coffee plantations have been abandoned, proved to be well suited for the production of the commoner kinds of bark, and large extents of abandoned or semi-abandoned lands were planted with cinchonas. But when the prices of bark fell (whoever takes to growing a drug will soon realize the meaning of the phrase "a drug in the market"), the cultivation was no longer worthy of attention, and has practically died out. Ceara rubber also met with the same fate.
I may here mention that Messrs. Matheson and Co., who held no less than 7,000 out of the 20,000 acres occupied by Europeans in the Bamboo district, went to great expense in introducing coffee seed from Brazil, Venezuela, Costa Rica, and Jamaica, with the view of ascertaining whether coffee grown from the seed thus imported would be less susceptible to attacks of leaf disease. But, though the plants raised from these seeds are doing exceedingly well, it was found that they were also liable to be attacked by leaf disease, often before they were even out of the nursery, and in this respect proved to be neither better nor worse than the Coorg variety of coffee. A clearing of fifty acres has been entirely planted with coffee raised from Blue Mountain seed, but there is nothing in the appearance of the trees to show that they are not indigenous to the country.
Liberian coffee has been tried experimentally in several parts of Coorg, but I cannot learn that any results have been obtained which would tend to encourage its adoption as a substitute for the variety at present grown.
It is estimated that the Coorg planters employ at least 30,000 Mysore labourers in addition to local labourers and those from the Madras Presidency, and of the 30,000 in question Messrs. Matheson and Co. employ no less than about 5,000 for six to eight months of the year. The 30,000 coolies, with their maistries, draw from 12 to 15 lakhs of rupees per annum (from £120,000 to £150,000, estimating the rupee at par, and for the purposes of a labourer it goes nearly as far in India as when it was so) in wages, very nearly the whole of which eventually reaches Mysore either in payment for grain or as a surplus income which the labourers annually take with them when they return to their homes in Mysore. And as this capital is largely employed in developing the agricultural resources of the Mysore State, it is evident that anything that its Government could do—in the way of railway extension or otherwise—that would stimulate the employment of labour in Coorg would be of great advantage to the finances of Mysore. It is extremely interesting to follow the labour-spent capital of the planters of Coorg to its ultimate destination—to the western coast, to various parts of the Madras Presidency, and far away into the interior of Mysore, and to observe its effects on the country and its financial results. I am not in a position to say exactly what should be done in the way of railways for Coorg, but I trust I have sufficiently shown that the British and Mysore Governments are equally interested in doing all they can, in the way of railway communication and new and improved roads, to develop and encourage the planting resources of Coorg.
The last visit I paid to Coorg was in October, 1891, immediately after the breaking up of the Representative Assembly at Mysore, a full account of which I have given in a previous chapter. I left Mysore on the morning of Tuesday, October 20th, and on the first day drove to Hunsur, a town of between four and five thousand inhabitants, which lies twenty-eight miles to the west of Mysore city. At this place are the extensive coffee works and manure preparing establishment of Messrs. Matheson and Co., by whose manager I was most hospitably and agreeably entertained. Rather an interesting incident in connection with a panther had once occurred at his house, and as this illustrates what I have previously mentioned as to the (to man) innocuous character of this animal, it may not be uninteresting to give an account of what occurred. The circumstances were these.
One night my hostess, some time after retiring to rest, heard a noise in the open veranda which runs round the side of the bungalow just outside her bedroom. She got up, and, taking a lamp in her hand, went round a corner of the building in the direction of the noise, and just as she turned the corner in question there fell upon her astonished vision the spectacle of a panther, which at the moment was busily engaged in devouring the family cat. When the panther saw the lady he tried to make off along the veranda (which at that point was shut in at the side by a trellis-work), but at the moment of his flight the cook, who had also heard the noise, appeared at the opposite end of the veranda with a lamp in his hand. The panther then turned back in the direction of the lady, who stood spell-bound with the lamp in her hand, and as the cook, apparently equally spell-bound, remained stationary with his lamp, the panther, being thus as it were between two fires, lay down under a table which was placed against the wall of the veranda. At last he got up, made a move in the direction of the cook, and then changing his mind, rushed past the lady, and thus made his escape. Panthers seem to be numerous about Hunsur, and I heard another interesting story of their boldness, which I have not space to give, from a neighbour of my host.
After staying for a day at Hunsur, I drove, on October 22nd, to Titimutty, a small village on the frontier of Coorg, where I was met by Mr. Rose, of Hill Grove Estate, who drove me to his plantation near Polibetta, which is in the Bamboo district previously alluded to as containing about two-thirds of the European plantations in Coorg. Shortly after leaving Titimutty we drove through coffee on both sides of the road, and, though I spent four days in the district, and was constantly on the move, I was never once out of sight of coffee, as the plantations lie in a continuous block, and, as they are all thoroughly shaded, sometimes by the original forest trees, and sometimes by trees planted for shade, the general effect is that you are travelling through a forest of which coffee is the underwood—a forest lying on gently undulating ground from which nothing can be seen of the surrounding country. As the bungalows of the planters are of course surrounded by coffee and shade trees, they have necessarily an extremely shut-in appearance. But this rather triste effect might be obviated (and I have with good effect obviated it in the case of a bungalow which lies in the centre of an estate of my own in Mysore) by cutting vistas here and there through the shade trees through which peeps may be had of distant hills. This may seem to be a point of little practical value, but, as I have shown in a previous chapter, the amenities of an estate are of value, and are likely to become more so when the desirable nature of shade coffee property is more widely known. The bungalows in the Bamboo district are very comfortable, most of them having tennis grounds, and if the vistas I have suggested were cut out, their attractiveness would be much enhanced. But if the Bamboo district has not the scenic advantages of plantations in other parts of Coorg and in Mysore, these are much compensated for by the close proximity of one plantation to another, and I was told that at certain seasons there was generally a well-attended lawn tennis party on every day of the week. There is besides, in the centre of the district, a comfortable club where balls and dances are occasionally given. In short, the Bamboo district has features of its own which make it entirely different from any planting district in India. From being so much shut in, it might, at first sight, be supposed to be not a very healthy district, but I heard no complaints on that score, nor, from the appearance of the planters, would it have occurred to me that the district was at all unhealthy. On the evening of my arrival there was a dinner-party, at which four ladies were present, and later on there was music and singing, and all the accompaniments of a pleasant social life. So much do coffee districts vary in India, that the party was to me a startling surprise, which the reader may easily understand when I mention that, after leaving the most northerly plantation in Coorg and entering my district of Manjarabad, there is only one resident lady to be found there, and it is not till you reach the northern district of Mysore, some sixty miles further, that ladies, in the plural, again commence, though even there they do not exist to a very serious extent.
On the afternoon of the day of my arrival I walked round my host's estate, which carried an excellent crop, and also visited a neighbouring property. On the following morning I drove to the Dubarri estate, and walked round part of it, and in the afternoon visited the club—a comfortable, and in every respect suitable, building which, as I mentioned, is occasionally used for dances. I also visited the co-operative store, which contained a large supply of various articles. The church, which was close to the club, had been recently built, at a cost of 5,000 rupees, but, when I saw it, the interior was not quite finished. I may mention that in the Bamboo district there is a resident doctor who is employed by the various estates. Later on in the afternoon I rode from the club with Mr. William Davies to the Mattada Kadu estate (Messrs. Matheson and Co.'s property), of which he is manager, and rode through coffee all the way to the bungalow. I was most kindly entertained by Mr. Davies, who had a party of the neighbouring planters to meet me at dinner, after which we had much talk on the subject in which we were all mutually interested. On the following morning I awoke early, and was rather surprised, shortly after daylight, to hear the names of the coolies called over from the check-roll, as, though early hours were kept in the old days in Mysore, we have now become considerably later, owing, I surmise, to feeling that in these labour-competing days we are not as completely master as we once were. After a small breakfast I rode through the estate, guided by Mr. Davies, who was accompanied by two of his guests of the night before, and we then passed into the Nullagottay estate (all Messrs. Matheson's), after which we entered into Whust Nullagottay, and went to the bungalow from which (there is always an exception) there is a fine view of the Brahmagiri Hills. After a very short stay we again mounted, and presently passed into the Whoshully estate, and finally arrived, after riding through that property, at about midday at Mr. Robinson's bungalow, where we had breakfast. Mr. Rose came over in the afternoon, and we rode home to Hill Grove through Messrs. Matheson's estate which had been bought from Mr. Minchin, besides visiting the Hope estate. I thus rode through coffee for nearly the entire day. On the following day I went over another adjacent property, and on the day after, Monday, October 26th, started for Mercara, the capital of Coorg. I drove by way of Siddapur, paid a short visit to Cannon Kadu estate, and arrived at Abiel, Mr. Martin's estate, at about midday, rode round his estate in the afternoon, and then drove on to Mr. E. Meynell's charming home—the Retreat—which is about a mile from the town of Mercara.
I was particularly struck with the arrangements of this house, as it was a thoroughly English-looking home in every respect, and I only wish I could give a plan of it as a model for a residence in the hill and planting districts of India. The front veranda was inclosed with glass, and lined with flowers in pots, and from the centre of this projected a conservatory, at the end of which was the front door. You thus, after driving up to the house, walked through a conservatory into the inclosed veranda, and this not only gave a very pretty effect, but was practically useful by keeping carriages, with their attendant dust and disagreeables, at a sufficient distance from the veranda. My hostess very kindly permitted me to see the kitchen arrangements. These, as well as the storerooms, were in a wing projecting from the back of the bungalow. The kitchen, which consisted of a separate room, with a single door, was furnished with a Wilson range, and there was no door between the kitchen and the scullery. The latter was at the outside edge of the wing, and was entered by its own door—an arrangement, by the way, that might be practised with advantage in this country, as a connecting door is liable to admit smells from the scullery into the kitchen. The reader will, I trust, excuse the mention of these apparently trivial matters, but as I strongly suspect that much of the ill-health in India is due to the dirt and horrors of the Indian cook-room, which is usually at a little distance from the bungalow, and turned into a general lounge for the servants, I think it well to show that, with a little contrivance and attention, as great a degree of order and cleanliness may exist in India as in any other portion of the globe.
On the following day I called on Mr. Mann, son of one of the pioneer planters of 1855, and inspected an interesting coffee garden of four acres which is close to his bungalow in Mercara. Some of the coffee trees were planted thirty and others forty years ago, and they have given for many years fifteen hundredweight an acre on the average, and though many of the trees were evidently suffering from the effects of overbearing, there seemed no reason why they should not continue to bear good crops for an indefinite period of time. Estimating the value of the coffee at 80s. a hundredweight, the produce of an acre would be worth £60, of 100 acres £6,000, and allowing one-half for expenses—a very liberal estimate—there would be a clear income of £3,000 a year from 100 acres of such coffee. As 100 acres of land so situated—it was flat, lay in a hollow, and was well sheltered—could not be obtained, it might seem that an account of this garden could be of no practical value. But the garden in question raises one very important point in the mind, and that is whether it would not be better to abandon all inferior soils and situations on an estate, and concentrate all the labour and manurial resources on a more limited area, every operation on which could be carried out exactly at the right moment. This is a highly important question which I state here for the consideration of planters.
After spending two pleasant days at the Retreat, I bade my kind host and hostess good-bye (I have thanked Mr. Meynell, who I may mention represents Messrs. Matheson's large interests in Coorg, in the preface for the valuable information he subsequently sent me as regards planting in Coorg), and went on my way towards my home in Mysore, and stayed first at the Hallery estate, which is about six miles from Mercara, and is the property of my friend Mr. Mangles. The approach to the bungalow through the coffee is very pretty; the building stands at the head of a slope, and commands a fine and extensive view of the country and the distant hills. The amenities here had been well attended to: below the front of the bungalow terraces edged with balustrades had been cut, and formed into flower gardens, and I was glad to see that, in parts of the plantation, from which good views could be had, there were seats. I may observe here that there is a great want in plantations of seats, which are now the more needed as all logs in the old plantations have of course disappeared. Near the bungalow is an excellent stable, well paved, and quite in English style. On the following morning I wont with Mr. Sprott, who is in charge of Mr. Mangles's estate, to visit his Santigherry property, some seven miles distant, and on the way there went on the left of the road through a plantation belonging to Messrs. Macpherson and Ainslie. After this we re-entered the main road, passed the village of Santikoopa, and then entered and went round the estate we had come to visit. On the way home we diverged to the left and went through Mr. Murray Ainslie's estate, and round by an estate owned by Mr. Campbell, and finally arrived at Hallery at about half-past twelve. In the afternoon I went round part of the estate, which I had already seen something of on the day of my arrival.
Early the following morning, after bidding good-bye to the host and hostess who had so kindly entertained me, I started on my journey northwards, and after a troublesome and trying drive (for my horses), in which two rivers had to be crossed by ferry boats, and much deep unmetalled road struggled through, I arrived at 12.30 at Coovercolley—another estate of Mr. Mangles's—where I was kindly entertained by Mr. and Mrs. Trelawney (Mr. Trelawney manages this fine property). The bungalow here is particularly comfortable, and had the great advantage of a very wide open veranda. On the right of the approach to the bungalow was a neatly trimmed shoe flower hedge, which had a very pretty effect, and, as at Hallery, terraces had been cut in front for a flower garden. From the front of the bungalow there is an extensive view of much of the Coorg country, and I was particularly struck by its continuous jungly character, and with its great contrast to the Mysore country to the north, which is not so much a jungly country, as an open grass country studded with occasional wood, and park-like groups of trees. On the afternoon of my arrival I rode round part of this fine estate, and inspected other parts of it on the following morning and evening. On the next morning I started at a quarter to six, and after driving about twenty-four miles, crossed the frontier, and entered Manjarabad—the southernmost coffee district of Mysore. The northernmost part of Coorg consists of a long tongue of land which projects into Mysore, and the scenery, in its beautiful, open, and park-like character, naturally resembles that of Manjarabad.
On my visit to Coorg I look back with pleasure. It was, indeed, extremely enjoyable and instructive, and I cannot help regretting the fact that, owing to the nature of their duties, planters are obliged to remain so continuously at home; and then, of course, when they can get away, they naturally go for change of air and scene anywhere out of the coffee districts. The result of this is that the planters of the north of Mysore see little of those in the south, and that neither have any intercourse with Coorg, and that, in consequence, much valuable interchange of views and experiences that might otherwise take place cannot now do so. Had such intercourse existed, many of the mistakes made in Coorg as regards shade would probably have been avoided, and much loss of money averted.
The reader will have noticed that I have hitherto made no observations on the coffee I saw in Coorg, my reason for not doing so being that I thought they might be more conveniently reserved for the close of the chapter. I am glad that in the course of my observations I shall have much to say in praise of the state of coffee in Coorg, and if I should seem to be a little free in my remarks as to the management of shade, I trust that my Coorg readers will bear in mind that my experience of trees planted as shade to supply the place of original forest trees removed is the oldest in India, and stretches back to the year 1857, and that it requires a very long time, as they will see by consulting the chapter on shade, before all the points connected with shade trees can be proved with certainty. That mistakes as regards shade should have been made in Coorg, where shade experience is comparatively recent, is not at all surprising; in former times numerous mistakes were made in Mysore, and have only been rectified by long experience and observation.
My general impression on going through the Bamboo district of Coorg was that it contains a certain proportion of land of poor character (and this can be said of most coffee districts) which should never have been opened, but that there are many excellent and valuable estates, though it was plain to me that, from the more weakly, or perhaps I should rather say less robust, character of the shoots, and the appearance of the soil, it had, as a rule, much less growing power in it, and would consequently require more manure, than the deep and heavier soils of Mysore. But these soils in the Bamboo district, though lighter in character, are of course (and this is a fact of no small importance) more easily worked than those of Mysore. The next point that attracted my attention was the shade, and of the numerous estates that I saw in the Bamboo district there were only two that at all came up to my idea of what a well shaded property ought to be. I could see little signs of the shade being varied in kind and quantity to suit the various aspects, and many trees were preserved which were merely throwing shadow, not on to the coffee, but on to adjacent trees. Then I found that in one excellent piece of young coffee the shade had been planted in lines running from east to west, instead of being closely planted in lines from north to south (vide chapter on shade). The shade, too, generally speaking, was far too largely composed of one kind of tree,—the Attí-mara (Ficus glomerata)—and finally this tree, the defects of which I have remarked upon in my chapter on shade, was badly managed by being trimmed up to a considerable height above the ground. The result of this was that on land on which there was an enormous number of trees there was far too little shade, and a forester fresh from England would never have imagined that the planters had intended to grow umbrageous trees for the double purpose of lowering the temperature of the plantation and sheltering the coffee from sun and parching winds, but would have supposed that they were engaged in growing timber for sale. I saw land which, I feel sure, had at least three times the number of trees that would have been sufficient to shade it fully, had they been properly treated. Such a number of trees throw out, of course, a corresponding number of large roots, and one planter told me that in some instances coffee was being killed by the masses of Attí root in the land. As regards shade, then, there is much room for improvement in Coorg, and especial attention should be paid to this in the Bamboo district which has suffered so much from Borer. This pest, we know, thrives best under warm and dry conditions, and it is therefore of great importance that the kinds of shade most recommended in my chapter on shade should be freely planted, and other kinds gradually removed.
There was a very good crop on the trees when I passed through Coorg—one that, when picked, quite exceeded the expectations of the planters—and I saw two estates which had at once a good crop on the trees, leaves of good, well-fed looking colour, and a show of wood giving promise of an equally good crop for the following year; and it says well for cultivation in Coorg that any estate could show this, for the tendency of coffee, as of most fruit trees, is to give heavy and light crops alternately. As it is important to know the manures that were used to produce such results, I may mention that on one of these estates 6 cwt. of castor cake and 3 cwt. of bones had been applied the previous year, and for the four preceding years 2 cwt. of castor cake and 1 cwt. of bone had been used, but, in the opinion of the manager, the latter application had proved too small. On the other estate one-third of a bushel of cattle manure per tree, and from 7 cwt. to 10 cwt. of bones had been applied once in three years, and composts also had been used to a considerable extent. These were formed first of a layer of vegetable rubbish, then fresh pulp and lime, and lastly a layer of soil. The estate last referred to, on which the cattle manure, bones and compost had been used, belongs to Mr. Mangles—his Coovercolley estate—and is certainly the finest I ever saw, if we take into consideration the state of the soil, the colour of the foliage, and the evident prospect of continuously good crops. So well fed, indeed, was the land with nitrogen, that an application of nitrate of soda produced no perceptible effect on the trees. The land was probably over supplied with phosphoric acid, and an analysis of the soil would be of practical value, for if, as I have good reason to surmise, there is a very large supply of phosphoric acid in the soil, the use of bones might be suspended for some years, and a light application of lime used instead. Ten acres, at any rate, might be tried as an experiment. I was shown one piece of coffee which had been manured, when it was two years old, with cattle manure, and this piece had remained perceptibly superior ever since. On this estate 600 cattle are kept for the sake of their manure. I would suggest that the proprietor might, on say ten acres, discontinue the use of cattle manure, and, as an experiment, apply dressings of jungle top-soil instead, or the red earth alluded to in my chapter on manures, should that be available. The experiment might be valuable to the proprietor and to planters in general. Cattle manure is very expensive, and when 12 to 14 tons per acre—some fairly well rotted and some slightly so—were used in Coorg on one estate the cost was 72 rupees an acre, including cost of application.
In bringing these brief remarks to a close, I may observe that I formed a very high opinion of coffee in Coorg, and I feel confident that if the shade were remodelled on the system recommended in my chapter on that subject, the losses from Borer and leaf disease would be largely diminished, and a great general improvement in the coffee take place. We have experienced such results from improved shade in Mysore, and there can be no doubt that similar results will follow in Coorg. In remodelling the shade system, all light and dry soils should be first attended to and planted up with trees which give an ample and cool shade. The treatment of other parts of plantations may be postponed.
As regards the profits that may reasonably be expected from well managed and well situated estates in Coorg, I am happy to say that I have obtained from a friend the returns from his estates for the last ten years, and as his properties are of large extent, the return may be regarded as a very reliable one, more especially as the prices for three years of the period were very low. The average yield per acre was 4 cwt. 1 qr. 7 lbs.; the expenses, £9 4s. 2d., and the profits per acre £7 8s. 6d.
I only wish that, in conclusion, I could give as favourable an account of the prospects of sport in Coorg as I can of its coffee. Twenty-five years ago there was good big game shooting, but the absence of game laws, and the indiscriminate destruction of does, fawns, and cow bisons by the natives, at every season of the year, have changed all that, and it is with a melancholy smile that one reads in the "Coorg Gazetteer" that the Coorgs are such ardent sportsmen that they have hardly left a head of game in the country. But the first sign of advanced civilization—the intelligent preservation of wild animals—has begun, or will shortly be begun, in the enlightened state of Mysore, and I trust that its good example may soon be followed in Coorg, and all parts of India. With the aid of preservation game will soon increase in the more remote forests into which it has been driven back, and from thence spread into other parts of the country.

[48] "Manual of Coorg," compiled by Rev. G. Richter, Principal, Government Central College, Mercara. Mangalore, 1870.
[49] The late Mr. William Pringle, who, after leaving Coorg, wrote in 1891, for the "Madras Mail," some interesting and suggestive papers on the cultivation of coffee.
[50] I make this statement on the authority of Mr. Meynell (vide preface), and it is, no doubt, the result of his experience in the Bamboo district, but his estimate could hardly, I should say, apply to the estates I visited in North Coorg.


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