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sparkling, merry mountain stream, often broken into two or three channels. It flows through grassy glades and sissu forests, swells here and there over sunken rocks, and then forms a tail below a shoal of glittering gravel, which makes a fisherman's eye glisten as it recalls to memory happy days on the Spey or the Findhorn. But here and there a backwater, still as death, runs back far into a ghastly swamp, where the water is never rippled, save by the silent plunge of the weird snake-bird, or the stealthy waddle of a gorged alligator. Huge ungainly fish and bloated carrion-turtle glide far below the surface, round the skeleton roots of bleached and barkless trees, brought down by the torrents in the rainy season."
-CLIMATE AND NATURAL PRODUCTIONS.
1. India includes an area so immense that of course the climate varies greatly in its different parts. But there are in all parts of the country three seasons every year, more or less distinct from each other. These arethe hot, the rainy, and the cold.
2. These seasons, however, vary much in different parts of the country. As a rule the hot season lasts from the middle of March to the middle of June. At this season, in the moist plains of Bengal, the people live in what is almost a vapour bath, and the great fan, the punkah, is set going in every house. In the plains of the Panjab the heat is also intense, but, the winds being hot and dry, the ground becomes bare and parched, the brooks and smaller streams are dried up, and dust flies in whirlwinds. The interior plains at this season are unhealthy, and there is a general exodus of Europeans to the cooler hill stations.
3. The rains usually begin in the middle of June. They are brought by the “south-west monsoons," south-west winds, from the Indian Ocean. “ Masses of
cloud are seen coming up, becoming denser as they near the land, over which they pass with strong gusts of wind, followed by incessant thunder-claps ; then the gushing, heavy rain begins to be heard. Dull days of constant rain now set in, till the streams and rivers swell into torrents; a pleasant pause follows, during which the sky is dappled with clouds, and all the fields show fresh green herbage. For a time the rain falls only now and then ; but, renewing its strength, the downpour reaches its height in July, gradually decreasing thence onward till September, when the south-west monsoon ceases, going out, as it came in, with storms of thunder and lightning.'
4. The cold season falls in November, December, and January. In the north-west provinces and in the Panjab, water is, during these months, often frozen in the shallow pools during the night, and there is hoar-frost in the morning. In Lower Bengal and Southern India, the cold season is very enjoyable. At the hill-stations the cold is really intense, and the snow deep and of long duration.
5. During the cold season the wind blows from the north-east, and is generally a dry wind. It is not a dry wind, however, to all parts of India. To the Eastern Gháts it brings rain from the Bay of Bengal, from October to the end of December.
6. The difference in the amount of rainfall in different parts of India is very great. The Western Ghats, and some portions of the Himalayas towards the east, are deluged with rain ; as much rain falling in one year as usually falls in London in from 20 to 30 years. At Bombay more rain has been known to fall in one day than falls in eastern England in six months. In the valley of the Ganges the rainfall is not much greater than that of Great Britain. The great Indian desert is almost rainless.
7. On its scorching, but fertile and well-watered plains, in its rich mountain valleys, and on the cold mountain sides, the soil of India yields nearly all the varied vegetable productions of the earth, and in many parts there are two harvests yearly. Rice, maize, and wheat, are chief among the cereal productions, but barley, millet, beans, and peas, are also grown. Cotton, opium, indigo, oil seeds (flax, rape, linseed), tea, coffee, tobacco, and timber, are among the articles produced in quantity for export. Palms are abundant; they are to the Hindoos what the bamboo is to the Chinese—“ food, clothing, drink, timber, shelter, shade.”
8. The animal* life of India is not less varied and interesting than the vegetable. Monkeys of many kinds inhabit the jungles, and even the trees close to the villages. Poisonous snakes are found in great numbers and of all sizes. The elephant and rhinoceros roam at large in some of the forests, and tigers, panthers, leopards, wild boars, and wolves, inhabit both forest and jungle. Lions are occasionally met with in the native state of Rajputana, and deer of many species are common in the hills and forests. The birds of India are numerous and varied, but song-birds are scarce.
The rivers swarm with fish, and the jungle with reptiles ; whilst one of the least pleasant sights of Indian travel are the lazy, gorged alligators, which bask in the sun on the sands and banks of every river.
9. Almost all the metals and minerals are found to some extent in India. Iron is obtained in greatest abundance, and there are some extensive coal-fields. Gold is found in many parts, and mining for gold is on the increase. Salt is obtained from mines in the northwest of the Panjab, and by evaporation from lagoons all round the coast. India is also the source of many of the gems—the diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds.
* Not less than 20,000 persons and 40,000 cattle are killed every year by wild beasts and snakes; and more than 20,000 wild beasts and 100,000 snakes are destroyed every year, at a cost in rewards of about £10,000.
INDIA. ---PROVINCES AND CHIEF TOWNS—I.
BENGAL, NORTH-WEST PROVINCES, PANJAB, CENTRAL PROVINCES.
1. Bengal is the largest and richest, the most populous and the most fertile of the Indian provinces. It includes the larger portion of the basin of the Ganges. The valleys of Bengal, though for the most part luxuriant alluvial plains, are diversified by the spurs and peaks thrown out by the great mountain systems which enclose them on the north-west and south-west.
2. Bengal contains almost every product of the tropical and temperate regions. “Tea, indigo, turmeric, lac, waving white fields of the opium poppy, wheat and other grains and pulses, pepper, ginger, betel-nut, quinine, and many costly spices and drugs, oil-seeds of all sorts, cotton, the silk mulberry, immense crops of jute and other fibres, timber, from the feathery bamboo and coroneted palm to the iron-hearted sal-tree-in short, every vegetable product which feeds and clothes a people, and enables it to trade with foreign nations, abounds."
3. The population of the province of Bengal amounts to upwards of sixty millions, or more than twice the population of Great Britain. Calcutta is the chief town of the province, and indeed, of the whole of India. In 1686 it was one of three small villages given by the Mogul emperor to the East India Company, now it contains a population larger than Liverpool or Manchester, and is the great commercial centre for India. Patna, Murshedabad, and Chittagong--a seaport on the east of the Ganges delta—are other important towns of this province.
4. The North-West Provinces extend over the valley of the Ganges and its tributaries in their upper courses. They contain a population of forty-three millions. Allahabad, built at the junction of the Jamna with the Ganges, is the capital. It is a town of some importance in a military and commercial point of view. Kanpur, on the Ganges, a city of about 120,000 inhabitants, doing a large trade in indigo, will ever have a sad fame in Indian history on account of the share it took in the terrible events of the mutiny. Benares, the sacred city of the Hindoos, and Lucknow, another city prominent in the Indian mutiny, are important towns in the northwest provinces.
5. The Panjab—the plain of the five rivers—is one of the least agreeable parts of India. In summer it is oppressively hot and dry, and except in the vicinity of the rivers the soil is not fertile. This province has an area of 200,000 square miles, and a population of nearly eighteen millions. Delhi, the ancient capital of the Mogul empire is the chief city.
6. The history of Delhi is the history of a great part of India, and the importance of its site in the eyes of successive conquerors is proved by the ruins of successive cities which strike the eye of the traveller long before the red sandstone walls of the present city come into view. It has witnessed great prosperity, and abject poverty. “Peace and bloodshed, greatness and humiliation, good government and fearful tyranny," have been its lot from the day when it became the capital of an empire, until it was captured during the mutiny, and placed under British protection. It is now a busy commercial city of nearly 200,000 inhabitants, and a great railway centre.
7. Armritsir is a great trading centre and a noted seat of Sikh learning and religion. In Lahore the Governor General has a fine palace. Mooltan is another ancient city of the Panjab, but a mere shadow of its former self.
8. The Central Provinces occupy the northern portion of the great plateau. The country has an equally varied soil and surface—table-land, river-valley, and forest. The table-lands are broken up by isolated peaks and straggling hill ranges, and the rivers are of the nature of mountain torrents. Some of the valleys are extremely fertile, and cotton, corn, opium-poppies, rice, and sugar