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AN ACCOUNT, &c.
HE * Ganges and t BURRAMPOOTER Rivers, together with
their numerous branches and adjuncts, intersee the country of BENGAL (which, independent of BAHAR and ORISSA, is somewhat larger than GREAT BRITAIN) in such a variety of directions, as to form the most complete and easy inland navigation that · can be conceived.
So equally and admirably diffused are those natural canals, over a country that approaches nearly to a perfect plane, that, after excepting the lands contiguous to Burdwan, Birboom, &c. which may be reckoned a sixth part of Bengal, we may safely pronounce, that every other
part of the country, has, even in the dry season, fome navigable stream within 25 miles at farthest, and more commonly within a third part of that distance.
It is supposed, that this inland navigation gives constant employment to 30,000 boatmen. Nor will it be wondered at, when it is known, that all the falt, and a large proportion of the food consumed by ten millions of people are conveyed by water within the kingdom of Bengal and its dependencies. To these must be added, the transport of the commercial exports and imports, probably to the amount of two millions sterling per annum ; the interchange of manufactures and products throughout the whole country; the fisheries ; and the article of travelling I.
proper name of this river in the language of Hindoosan (or Indoftan) is Pudda or Padda. It is also named Burra Guinga, or the Great River ; and Gorga, the River, by way of eminence; and from this, doubtleis, the European names of the river are derived.
+ The orthography of this word, as given here, is according to the common pronunciation in Bengal ; but it is said to be written in the Shanscrit language, Brahma-pootar ; which fignifies the Son of Brahma.
# The embarkations made use of, vary in bulk from 180 tons down to the size of a wherry. Those from 30 to 50 tons are reckoned the most eligible for transporting merchandize.
These rivers, which a late ingenious gentleman aptly termed sisters and rivals (he might have said twin fisters, from the contiguity of their springs) exactly resemble each other in length of course ; in bulk, until they approach the fea; in the smoothness and colour of their waters ; in the appearance of their borders and islands; and, finally, in the height to which their floods rise with the periodical rains. Of the two, the Burrampooter is the largest ; but the difference is not obvious to the eye. They are now well known to derive their sources from the vast mountains of THIBET* from whence they proceed in opposite directions; the Ganges seeking the plains of HINDOOSTAN (or INDOSTAN) by the west; and the Burrampooter by the east; both pursuing the early part of their course through rugged vallies and defiles, and seldom visiting the habitations of men. The Ganges, after wandering about 800 miles through these mountainous regions, issues forth a deity to the superftitious, yet gladened, inhabitant of Hindoostan t. From Hurdwar (or Hurdoar) in latitude 30°, where it gulhes through an opening in the mountains, it flows with a smooth navigable stream through delightful plains, during the remainder of its course to the fea (which is about 1350 miles) diffusing plenty immediately by. ineans of its living productions; and secondarily by enriching the
* These are among the highest of the mountains of the oid hemisphere. I was not able to determine their height; but it may in some measure be guessed, by the circumstance of tugt riding considerably above the horizon, when viewed from the plains of Bengal, at the aliance of 150 miles.
† The fabulous account of the origin of the Ganges (as communicated by my learned and ingenious friend C. W. BOUGHTON Rouse, Esq.) is, that it flows oui of the foot of BESCHAN (the same with Viftnou, the PRESERVING Deity) from whence, say the Bramins, it has iis name Padda; that word fignifying foot in the Shanscrit language : and that in in i's course to the plains of Hindoostan, it passes through an immense rock shaped like a Cow'shead.
The allegory is highly expreflive of the veneration which the Hindoos have for this famous Atream; and no less fo of their gratitude to the Author of Nature for bestowing it : for it defcribes the blefling as flowing purely from his bounty and goodness.
The rock before mentioned has, I believe, never been visited by any European ; and is even allowed by moit of the natives to bear no resemblance to the object from whence it is denominated. However, as the effects of superstition do often long survive the illusions that gave it birth, the rock or cavern still preserves its original name. (This note was written before it was known that M. Tieffentaller had visited it). 6
adjacent adjacent lands, and affording an easy means of transport for the productions of its borders. In a military view, it opens a communication between the different posts, and serves in the capacity of a military way through the country; renders unnecessary the forming of magazines ; and infinitely furpasses the celebrated inland navigation of North America, where the carrying places not only obstruct the progress of an army, but enable the adversary to determine his place and mode of attack with certainty.
In its course through the plains, it receives eleven rivers, some of which are equal to the Rhine, and none smaller than the Thames, besides as many others of lesser note. It is owing to this vast influx of streams, that the Ganges exceeds the Nile so greatly in point of magnitude, while the latter exceeds it in length of course by one-third. Indeed, the Ganges is inferior in this last refpect, to many of the northern rivers of Asia ; though I am inclined to think that it discharges as much or more water than any of them, ; because those rivers do not lie within the limits of the periodical rains *.
The proportional lengths of course of some of the inost noted rivers in the world are shown nearly by the following numbers ;,
The bed of the Ganges, is, as may be supposed, very unequal in point of width. From its first arrival in the plains at Hurdwar, to the conflux of the Jumna (the firtt river of note that joins it) its bed is generally from a mile to a mile and a quarter wide ; and, compared with the latter part of its course; tolerably straight. From hence, downward, its course becomes more winding, and its bed confequently wider *, till, having successively received the waters of the Gogra, Soane, and Gunduck, besides many smaller Streams, its bed has attained its full width ; although, during the remaining 6oo miles of its course, it receives many other principal streams. Within this space it is, in the narrowest parts of its bed, half a mile wide, and in the widest, three miles; and that, in places where no iftands intervene. The stream within this bed is always either increafing or decreasing, according to the season. When at its lowest (which happens in April) the principal channel varies from 400 yards to a mile and a quarter ; but is conmonly about three quarters of a mile, in width.
The Ganges is fordable in some places above the conflux of the Jumna, but the navigation is never interrupted. Below that, the channel is of considerable depth, for the additional streams bring a greater accession of depth than width. At 500 miles from the fea, the channel is thirty feet deep when the river is at its lowest ; and it continues at least this depth to the sea, where the sudden expansion of the stream deprives it of the force necessary to fweep away the bars of fand and mud thrown across it by the strong foutherly winds ; so that the principal branch of the Ganges cannot be entered by large vessels.
About 220 miles from the sea (but 300 reckoning the windings of the river) commences the head of the delta of the Ganges,
This will be explained when the windings of the river are treated of.