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miles south of Sicily. It is the second of the chain of British strongholds on the road to India. It was taken possession of by the British in 1800, and finally ceded by the Treaty of Paris in 1814. Malta is the headquarters of the Mediterranean fleet, and possesses an extensive arsenal and important dockyard ; and its harbour of Valetta is one of the finest in the world.
Medina was the former capital of the island; its successor is Valetta. The island is well cultivated, its principal products being potatoes, silk, and oranges. The population, including 6,500 British troops, numbers about 160,000. The small island of Gozo, and the islet of Comino, to the north-west of Malta, are under the same government.
INDIA. — POSITION, SIZE, COAST-LINE, HISTORY.
1. India, or Hindustan, is the central and most important of the three great peninsulas of Southern Asia. It occupies a space more than fifteen times as large as Great Britain, and as large as the continent of Europe without Russia. From Peshawar, in the extreme north, to Cape Comorin, the point of the peninsula on the south, it measures 1,900 miles, and about the same distance separates the extreme points east and west. The larger part of this vast empire is directly under British rule, but a number of states still exist in a semi-independent condition. The total area is nearly a million and a half of square miles, of which rather more than the half million belongs to the so-called “native states.” The total population of British India amounts to upwards of 191 millions, and of the “native states” to upwards of 46 millions
2. India has a coast-line of about 3,000 miles, and a land boundary of about the same length. The southern half of the country is like a huge promontory, reaching into the Indian Ocean, and having the Arabian Sea on the west and the Bay of Bengal on the east. The Himalaya Mountains form the northern boundary of the empire. The land boundary on the east is the Assam Mountains, separating India from Burma, and on the north-west the Suliman Mountains, dividing it from Afghanistan. Within its comprehensive boundaries India includes a number of countries, widely different as to their physical features, products, climate, races, religions, languages, and governments.
3. From the remote period when it was divided into numerous tribes, the history of this vast empire seems to be little more than a history of invasions, and of war and bloodshed. The first historical account of India dates back to 1400 B.C., and refers to the invasions of tribes from the high plains of Asia. The larger portion of the present inhabitants of India—the Hindoos—are descendants from these tribes. The invasion of the Greeks under Alexander the Great, 350 B.C., may, however, be taken as the first great landmark in a period of vague and misty traditions. The Greek colony never flourished, although it existed almost up to the period of the Christian era.
4. In the seventh century India was invaded by Afghan tribes, who gradually spread over the country and became its rulers. In the beginning of the eleventh century a rival Mohammedan power—the Tartars, improperly called Monguls, or Moguls — succeeded in establishing themselves in India, and in A.D. 1526 Sultan Baber overthrew the last of the Afghan kings, and founded the Mogul Empire, which lasted until our day.
5. As the Mogul Empire declined, the Hindoos, or original inhabitants, again became the first power in the country, and it was the Hindoos who were the strongest opponents to the growth of the English power. Long before this time many large provinces had thrown off the yoke of the Mogul, and become independent.
6. The discovery of the route to India by the Cape of Good Hope, in 1498, induced European nations to trade with India. First the Portuguese, then the Dutch, English, Danes, and French, established trading stations.
7. The “East India Company" was formed in 1600, and two years later a foothold was first obtained in India. In 1611 the Company's first factory vas established at Surat; Madras, or Fort St. George, was founded in 1639; in 1668 Bombay was given to the Company by Charles II. ; and in 1696 a piece of land was purchased on the Hooghly, on which Fort William, now Calcutta, was erected.
8. There was much rivalry between the European trading stations, especially between the French and English, and for a time it seemed as if the French, and not the English, were to found a European Empire in India. In 1746 the two rival nations came into collision; and had the French Governor, Dupleix, received proper support from home, he might have succeeded in his designs of founding a French-Indian Empire. The French power, however, was crushed by the capture of Pondicherry, the chief French station, in 1761, by the English under General Clive.
9. Surajah-Dowlah, the young ruler of Bengal, conceiving a great dislike to the English, marched a large army against Fort William in 1756. Most of the English were taken prisoners, and the horrible affair of the “Black Hole of Calcutta" was the result. In the following year the Nabob* was completely defeated by Clive at the battle of Plassey, and from that time the English have been the actual rulers of the rich province of Bengal. The history of India thenceforward is a history of conquests and annexations, which have resulted in giving us actual possession of two-thirds of the country, and virtual power over the rest.
10. The chief ruler in India is the Viceroy, or Governor-General. This office was created in 1774, and Warren Hastings, at that time President of Fort William, received the first appointment. In 1857 a mutiny broke out in the army of Bengal, and quickly spread over the whole country. The siege of Delhi, the massacre of Cawnpore, the relief of Lucknow, and the general heroism displayed during that memorable mutiny, will never be forgotten. In a little more than a year the mutiny was crushed, and with it came to a close the famous East India Company. From the 1st of November, 1858, the country passed under the direct control of the Queen ; and in 1878 she formally assumed the title of Empress of India.
11. Bengal, Madras, and Bombay are known as Presidencies, but the term is no longer accurate. It refers to a period when the English settlements of Fort William, Fort St. George, and Bombay, were ruled by a president, who, at that period, was more a trade superintendent than a political governor. British India is now divided into eight provinces, some of which are large
+ A few small possessions remain to Portugal and France. Pondi. cherry is the chief French, and Goa the chief Portuguese settlement,
kingdoms, more populous than most of the countries of Europe; they are -Bengal, the North-West Provinces, the Panjab, the Central Provinces, British Burma, Assam, Madras, and Bombay. Each of these provinces has a government independent of all the others, but is subordinate to the supreme government, the seat of which is at Calcutta.
INDIA. THE SURFACE.
1. India has been described as an “epitome of the whole earth,” so varied is its surface, so widely different the climates of its different parts. The country easily divides itself into three main regions the mountain district of the Himalayas on the north ; an immense plateau occupying the whole of the southern or peninsular portion; and the great plain stretching between the other two. 2. The Himalaya, or
66 abode of snow region, boasts of mountains the highest in the world, whose peaks are covered with perpetual snow, and through whose valleys creep great glaciers, compared with which those of the Alps are mere puny ice-streams. The Himalaya is rather a mountain region than a mountain chain, stretching for a distance of 1,800 miles, and having a breadth varying from 100 to 500 miles. It is composed of three great chains running more or less parallel with each other, with an endless succession of smaller ridges, with narrow glens between. The highest point-Mount Everest of the southern range reaches the stupendous height of 29,002 feet, and is the highest peak in the world. The States* which occupy the southern and lower slopes have a cool and healthy climate. 3. The Terai, or Great Indian Swamp, a belt varying
* Kashmir, Gurhwal, Nepal, Bhotan, &o.