« PoprzedniaDalej »
Upper Burma, the tract that I of clay land stiff enough to retain
comes not in days of mild soaking but if you ask the villagers about rain, but in sudden heavy showers, them they will say: "Yes-these rain is a matter of this century, worked them every year." They even of the latter part of the cen- are fields beyond any possibility part of the dry tract there are the Thibaw's time that rain began to remains of the old city of Pagan. fail. In his father King Mindoon's the capital of a little kingdom, was because he was & religious and to judge by the remains of man," they say. “He convened innumerable pagodas in the neigh- the great Synod, and he was very some considerable size. Now, of wisdom. But King 'Thibaw was consumption, and for gardens and years of the British conquest were Moreover it must not be necessary 80 distressed, so disturbed, that
cities are not built in deserts, weak. The kingdom fell into bad
city are a copious and well-dig- and in consequence the country
near, and the country around is dacoits, from ignorance of what
not be obtained on the spot, but hand wherewith to combat the bad
HOW THE FAMINE CAME TO BURMA.
am writing of, it is only from 18 water, you will find it levelled and
, and even this scanty embanked into rice-fields. In late
that last for an hour or two, fill are good fields when there is rain ;
in a few days, leaving lifetime have we been able to reap
' days crops There is
, I think, considerable would be obtained every second evidence that this failure of the year or so, and our grandfathers
tury, and that in former years of irrigation. So clearly this was
you that, except the great famine
Six hundred years ago this was reign there was no scarcity." That
bourhood, it must have been of just and honourable
, a protector
Above all necessities for a
ALTHOUGH here in Burma we out into dry undulating uplands
the uncultivated land below, is
this extends with but little altera:
. swamp. In this rich wet land the
Lower Burma has been but rice is grown, and when the rains recently Burmanised. The popuhave ceased and the rivers gone lation is really Talaing, and in down it is reaped. There are of 1825, when the first Burmese war course good seasons and bad sea.
occurred, we found the Burmese sons, but anything approaching to in Pegu' as conquerors. Now it a scarcity is unknown. There is
There is would be hard to find in Lower always a surplus, - this year it Burma, except in remote places amounts to over one and three
any one calling himself Talaing. quarters of a million tons of rice. There has been a large emigration
But about 150 miles north of from the upper country to the Rangoon, near the line dividing delta, and the superior race has the wo provinces, all this is absorbed the inferior. This emi. altered. The rain suddenly ceases. gration has been caused in part As you come up by train or by no doubt, by the increasing scarcity river, the change is extraordinary of rain in the upper province
. In a few miles you leave the dense Whereas in Lower Burma the soaking mists and fat alluvial land annual rainfall averages from 100 of the lower country, and come to 200 inches, in the centre of
tributed water-supply, and a fer- suffered." tile surrounding country. Large tion. cities require water for domestic
large hands. Religion was forgotten,
That is the explana-
to go far for it. Now, in the fields were not ploughed, seed
large number of people could the cultivators had but little in
ciency. In 1891 the crops were
Upper Burma, the tract that I of clay land stiff enough to retain am writing of, it is only from 18 water, you will find it levelled and to 30 inches, and even this scanty embanked into rice-fields. In late fall is not well distributed. It years they have never been worked; comes not in days of mild soaking but if you ask the villagers about rain, but in sudden heavy showers, them they will say : “Yes—these that last for an hour or two, fill are good fields when there is rain ; all the ravines with torrents and but only twice or thrice in our drain away in a few days, leaving lifetime have we been able to reap the country as arid as before. them. In our fathers' days crops There is, I think, considerable would be obtained every second evidence that this failure of the year or so, and our grandfathers rain is a matter of this century, worked them every year.” They even of the latter part of the cen are fields beyond any possibility tury, and that in former years of irrigation. So clearly this was Upper Burma was much more rain. The villagers will also tell fruitful than it is now.
you that, except the great famine In what is now the very driest of 1856-57, it was not until King part of the dry tract there are the Thibaw's time that rain began to remains of the old city of Pagan. fail. In his father King Mindoon's Six hundred years ago this was reign there was no scarcity. “That the capital of a little kingdom, was because he was a religious and to judge by the remains of man,” they say. “He convened innumerable pagodas in the neigh- the great Synod, and he was very bourhood, it must have been of just and honourable, a protector some considerable size. Now, of wisdom. But King Thibaw was cities are not built in deserts. weak. The kingdom fell into bad Above all necessities for a large hands. Religion was forgotten, city are a copious and well-dis- and in consequence the country tributed water-supply, and a fer-suffered.” That is the explanatile surrounding country. Large tion. cities require water for domestic Curiously enough, the first few consumption, and for gardens and years of the British conquest were orchards, and numerous purposes. good years. But the country was Moreover it must not be necessary so distressed, so disturbed, that to go far for it. Now, in the fields were not ploughed, seed was Pagan of to-day the only water is not sown. Fields were not cultithe Irrawaddy river, which flows vated from fear of us, from fear of near, and the country around is dacoits, from ignorance of what barren and unfertile. Supplies for was about to happen, and so a large number of people could the cultivators had but little in not be obtained on the spot, but hand wherewith to combat the bad would have to be brought from a times which began in 1890. The very considerable distance. With rainfall in the early part of that out a doubt, the country round year was scanty in many places, Pagan must in those days have and though the later rains were been fertile and well watered by a fairly good, yet there was a defisufficient rainfall.
ciency. In 1891 the crops were But there are evidences in much still shorter, and in 1892 there later days that the rainfall has de- was a scarcity-hardly amounting creased. Here and there all over to a famine, but still a severe this tract, wherever there is a piece scarcity-in Yamethin, in Meiktila,
lighted. "We are not brother to are Yamethin, Meiktila, and Myin-
village whose whole future de- Pakkoku, and of Sagain, are
they said; "but when there are miles, with a population, according
The pagoda on the hill top lages vary in the fertility of soil
"Thakin," said a headman, " for
. On the said 'We hope. Now we shall
The districts in which the failure full of mist. The people were de- of crops has been most severe
upon that hill in the morn to the census of 1891, of 370,000.
But the neighbouring districts
pended on the crops that were nearly as
badly off, and the dis
It was not until August year.
that there was any good rise, and Then came 1896. The early when this fell there was no other
. rain failed almost completely. Much land was never planted at Whereas we usually expect show- all, and much that was planted ers in the end of March and in withered off as the river fell. April, to soften the earth for So in this year there has been a ploughing and preparing for the complication of misfortunes. Of early crops, no rain fell until the none of the staple crops of cotton, end of May. The hot weather jowar, sessamum, or beans bas was thus exceptionally long and more than a third been gathered. severe, and the heat was intense. In
many places the seed has hardly The ground was utterly dried up, been returned to the cultivators. wells shrank lower than they had And there was a promise of rain ever done, and it was very hard to that made the disappointment all find pasture for cattle. At the the more bitter. The rain of end of May and early in June October 14 and 15 had done we had a great deal of rain—more great good. The jowar and sessthan enough. And about the amum
and beans had profited by middle of that month it ceased, it. The jowar especially was in and from then until the middle of
good heart, tall and strong, with October, the whole of the south the promise of a fair crop, enough west monsoon time, there was no at least to keep the people from rain of any consequence. The great stringency. What little rice country became baked up, as if it had been planted was looking well
, were again the hot weather.
The the beans were covering the ground young crops that had been sown
with green tendrils, and the late and had sprouted fairly, withered
sessamum was lusty and strong.
On October 14 the ears to fill them.
For two or three days
now may be simply summarised They spoke cheerfully with that as follows: Of cotton almost one
It will be understood that vil-
third of a crop may be obtained.
hung its head.
sign of cloud.
They came nearer and nearer, until hard to bear. But we thought it at last one morning we woke up to was a certainty, and it has failed.” hear a little dropping on the roof “Thakin,” said a headman, “for rain at last! As the sun rose the the last year when we have been rain ceased, and the clouds lifted, asked about our crops we have but they did not clear off. On the said “We hope. Now we shall bill in front the clouds hung in never say that again. We shall low long mists of vapour well into say “We fear.'” the forenoon, and the distance was The districts in which the failure full of mist. The people were de- of crops has been most severe lighted. “We are not brother to are Yamethin, Meiktila, and Myinthe rain, and cannot be sure,' gyan, covering about 10,000 square they said; "but when there are miles, with a population, according clouds upon that hill in the morn to the census of 1891, of 370,000. ing, it is an almost certain sign of But the neighbouring districts rain within twenty-four hours." have also suffered more or less. I was at a village that morning- Parts of Magwe, of Minbu, of a village whose whole future de- Pakkoku, and of Sagain, are pended on the crops that were nearly as badly off, and the disthen bursting into ear round about tricts of Shwebo, Mandalay, and —and as I talked to the people the Lower Chindwin have had about the season they were full of great losses. No doubt there will hope. “We shall be hard up," be considerable distress in these they said, "and it will be difficult districts, and considerable remisfor us to pay taxes, but as to food sions of revenue will have to be there will be enough. It will rain made, but the "famine” will most to-night, and the ears will fill, and probably be confined to the three we shall gather enough, eked out districts first named, and the parts with jungle roots and fruits, to of other districts in immediate take us on till the early crops contact with them. The position come.”
be simply summarised They spoke cheerfully with that as follows: Of cotton almost onedelightful courage and hopefulness third of an average crop was of which surely no people have so reaped; of rice, except in wellmuch as they, and as I rode back irrigated places, even less. The to my camp, it seemed to me that early and late crops of sessamum the fear of the worst was over. failed in most places, and of what There would be a scarcity, but no is the main food-crop, jowar, permore. Yet even as I rode back, haps one-third was reaped. the sun was sucking up the mists. It will be understood that vilThe pagoda on the bill - top lages vary in the fertility of soil shadowed faintly through the and other particulars. Some vil. thinning vapours, and far away lages have done better than this, the sky was clear and blue. By some have done worse. Of the the afternoon the mist was gone, palms, which are the mainstay of and when the sun set, in all the many villages, by the palm-juice great sweep of sky there was no which they yield, an average of a sign of cloud.
third of a crop may be obtained. The people were in despair. This is drawn in February and "If it had not promised us,” they March. Therefore it may be said said, “it would have been less that, roughly speaking, their fields
is firmly barricaded with logs and with an addition for each an
The work that has been opened beyond bare food, for clothing and
because the owners are too well off two-thirds. The total money wage
is required, the distressed area is not exorbitant rates; what is
tion is fifty-six miles in length, neighbourhood are 38. a day with
so that all was ready for work to intended that the rates in a famine
places were collected and drafted will find in the famine works a
tributed. The full ration for an he can thus tide through till better
boiling camps. In these camps to keep him in health and strength,
Rice out their scanty supply of grain.
abandoned. One gate is closed up And the wage is the sum which at
, and at sunset the other market rates will buy this ration,
been but little sale of cattle, not each woman of one farthing and
, and the Burmang a trifle over 21 d., taking the rupee
as worth ls. 31d. To children
given, and for infants in arms
have yielded to them but one-third of the people, fortunately a small
agricultural labourers. The land
Still labourers. And there has been
Some, of course, have gone to
Therefore this and more away, and it is hard year the failure of the early crops to take old people
, women, and
could sell have sold it and gone
overland march, and some—surely
The early crops rafts out of the ruins of their
declared as one within which the enough to keep a man in good
It will be seen that these are
And for all that a man requires
here as a famine work is an exten: cooking.pots, and the thousand and
crop is obtained.
and was surveyed some years ago, food and cheroots, but it is not commence. Moreover, as it rung camp should approximate to nor.
The usual labour rates in the
suitable as a famine work. In those who could be more profitably
into the work ; those near by were certain employment, where, for å left to find their own way to it, not too heavy day's labour, enough notices baving been freely dis- to buy food can be earned ; and
able-bodied relief-worker, sufficient times.