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THE HISTORY

OF THE

BRITISH SETTLEMENTS IN INDIA.

CHAPTER I.

GEOGRAPHICAL FEATURES OF HINDOOSTAN-EARLY HISTORY.

(B.C. 300—A.D. 1767.) HINDOOSTAN, or the land of the Hindoos, is an appellation borrowed from the Persians, and generally applied to a tract of country south of the Himalaya mountains, which, gradually assuming a form almost triangular, slopes downwards towards the island of Ceylon, and terminates in the point known as Cape Comorin. The eastern boundary of this region may be considered the Brahmaputra river, its western limits the Indus, and the distance between the two can scarcely be less than 1,500 miles. The length of the peninsula varies very much owing to the curve made by the Himalaya chain in a northerly direction, which of course renders the distance of that range from Cape Comorin greater or less, according as the point taken lies eastward or westward. If we select Cashmere as the opposite limit to the most southern extremity of Hindoostan, the interval between them will measure about 1,900 miles, while, reckoning from Nepaul, the extent would be

B

considerably diminished. The surface of the Indian continent may be distributed into five or six divisions, of which the Deccan only seems to require particular notice in a work like the present. Under this appellation are included the Malabar, Canara and Concan coasts to the west, with the Carnatic and the Circars, bordering on the bay of Bengal. The Vindya mountains cross the peninsula from Gujerat to the Ganges; while a chain of eminences, called the Ghauts, run through the southern part of India from north to south, terminating in a narrow ridge at Cape Comorin. In most of these elevated regions three distinct gradations of vegetation may be observed. At the foot of the mountains are discerned the fruits and flowers of the tropics; on advancing higher up we encounter the productions of the temperate zone; while lichens and mosses luxuriate in graceful profusion around the more lofty summits.

The rivers of India form no inconsiderable part of its physical characteristics. The Indus and the Ganges are too well known to require much notice; the Kistna derives its name from one of the most popular members. of the Hindoo Pantheon; while the Mahanuddy, the Godavery, the Nerbudda, and the Cavery, are distinguished by their size, extent and mythological associa-, tions. As most Indian streams take their rise in the mountainous regions, they are liable to continual changes. During the dry season they seem reduced to the rank of a small rivulet, pursuing a quiet course between two extensive strips of sand, the extreme boundaries of which mark the periodical width of the river when, swollen by rains and the melting of mountain snows, it rolls onward. to the sea a rapid and resistless volume of water, inundating, frequently, the surrounding country on each side, and bearing along with it every obstacle that offers resistance to its impetuous career. India is no less celebrated for its fertile and extensive table-lands, which are principally devoted to the cultivation of the sugar

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