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The rains—an era in the Indian social calendar-usually begin in the middle of June, and though the amount of rainfall varies, continue with little intermission till the end of September. At this period of the year, also, the melting snow on the high mountains causes the rivers to fill, so that inundations are frequent in certain parts of the country. The cold season falls in November, December, and January. In the northwest provinces and the Punjaub water is, during these months, often frozen in the shallow pools during the night, and there is loar-frost in the morning. The residents feel the invigorating cold until the sun warms the air, and even welcome the unwonted sight of a fire. In Lower Bengal and Southern India the cold season is not only pleasant, but owing to the buoyancy of the air under a cloudless sky, life is “something more than enjoyable.” At the hill-stations the cold is really intense, and the snow deep and of long duration. It thus appears that the old ideas about the universally bad climate of India is erroneous. The plains are certainly during a portion of the year unhealthy, and European children cannot well be reared there. But the hills and valleys of the Himalayas and other ranges are cool and salubrious, and suit the European much better than some of the hotter parts of Australia. Here the offspring of pure European parents do not degenerate, while East Indians, or Eurasians, a mixed race, rapidly increasing in India, rather improve than otherwise in these bracy upland regions.* There seems, therefore, no reason why European colonies, of soldiers and civilians whose term of service have expired, should not be established in these valleys or in the lovely Vale of Kashmir. Such settlements would be infinitely to the benefit of the country and of the natives, and would secure our hold on India as really a British colony, instead of being, and as under the present system it must continue to be, a great camp of soldiers, officials, and adventurers, who are in haste to make in a few years the fortune which will enable them to spend the rest of their life thousands of miles away from the people among whom or by whose industry and custom it was earned.
MINERAL WEALTH. We are so accustomed to associate India with her vegetable riches that we forget that within her bounds she possesses wealth of coal and ores which, did the soil not yield an ounce of any other product, would give her a high place among poor countries with the potentiality of riches. Many years ago, an eminent geologist, fond of prophesying even when he "didn't know,” declared that he would undertake to eat every bit of coal which could be found in India. If so, his appetite is Gargantuan, otherwise his digestion must long ago have been seriously disordered, since extensive coal-fields have been discovered between the Ganges and Godavery, and which differ little geologically from the carboniferous beds of England. Coal has been worked for over twenty years, and is used on most of the Indian railways. The precious stones of India, in spite of the diamonds and the gems of Golconda being now chiefly historical, are still a source of wealth to the seeker in the crevices of the rocks or among the gravels of the river beds (p. 192). Opals, amethysts, garnets, cornelians, and other gems are not unfrequently found. Iron exists in many places, particularly in the Madras Presidency, while silver, galena, and
* Andrews : “ India and Her Neighbours ” (1878), pp. 8-10.
other ores are either found in sufficient abundance to be worked, or afford such “indication” as to lend hopes of great things in the future. Gold is, however, the metal which has of late years attracted most attention in India. In greater or less quantities it has been washed from time immemorial out of the sand and gravel of many of the rivers. But it is only comparatively recently that the quartz reefs which form the original source of the drift gold in the streams have been detected. The result has been something very like a panic, and only in March, 1880, the rush for an allotment of shares in one of the companies newly formed in London must have reminded those who witnessed it of the struggle round the office door during the days of the South Sea Bubble or of Law's Mississippi Scheme. The principal district is in the Wynaad country, and has not unnaturally been the subject of much inflated talk by those interested in exaggerating the importance of the mines. Mr. Brough Smyth, who examined them for the Government of India, may, however, be accepted as a trustworthy witness. His report is that the gold-bearing rocks are found at a great many localities, scattered over 500 square miles of country. In former times this gold was worked at many places by the natives, who sluiced the golden earth and gravel over extensive areas, but of recent years the native workings have been on a very small and unremunerative scale. Though at intervals from 1832 to 1845 attempts were made to work the reefs, the speculation proved unprofitable, most probably owing to unsuitable appliances and improper supervision; for the 137 assays which he gives proves the rock to be of a "paying” description. If we omit the altogether exceptional sample
Wright's level,” which gave 204} oz. per ton, and the “picked specimens” from the same workings, which gave 25 oz. per ton, we get 88 samples yielding an average of 1 oz. 8 dwts. 22 grs. of gold per ton.
Mr. Smyth says that gold is almost universally distributed throughout the soils and quartz veins of the Wynaad. It occurs also in the sands and soils both on the east, west, north, and south. In South-east Wynaad, on washing a few dishes of the surface-soil anywhere, specks of very fine gold will be found. In the vicinity of the reefs rather heavy gold is often got by sluicing; and if a suitable spot be selected, the native miners will obtain, even by their imperfect methods, sufficient gold to remunerate them for their labour. The character of the rocks, the nature of the climate, and the formation of the country have all contributed to prevent the accumulation of drifts such as are found in North-west America and Australia. There are here no “gullies” having in their beds shallow deposits with a well-defined auriferous stratum, no “deep leads” covered and protected by layers of volcanic rock; there are only, as a rule, in the district now under consideration,
surfacing” and “quartz-mining.” On the Seeputtee river there is an accumulation of well-rounded boulders of quartz and gneissoid rock imbedded in hard clay and sandy soil, which may be regarded almost as a cement."
It is no
more than the old bed of the river, which, owing to the "cutting back” action of the water, has lowered its level and left this drift on its banks. It is probable that, as in other similar cases, the “cement " will be found in patches on both sides of the river, in places which were formerly bends of the old stream. The bed-rock on which the gravel, clay, and boulders lie is at no great height above the level of the existing water-course; and the part of the drift which has been worked is about thirty feet in thickness. This drift, and those which are to be found in the beds of the swamps, may be said to represent the alluvial deposits of the Wynaad. Some of these are probably rich in gold, but it is only under favourable conditions that they could remunerate the miner. It would be extremely difficult and costly,
ad in many cases almost impracticable, to drain the swamps by artificial channels, and the expense of pumping the water from a shaft would be very great. Still, if the lowest stratum should prove to be highly auriferous, it might be found remunerative to resort even to pumping, care being taken to carry off the surface water from the swamps by