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times very cold. Between the 'parallels of 28o and 29°, in the province of Delhi, the summer heats are likewise intense ; but, in winter, when the wind blows from the northern mountains, the thermometer falls below 30°, and water freezes in the tents. Even in the Benares district of Allahabad, the cold in winter is so severe as to render fires necessary. And at Calcutta, in December, with a N.E. wind, the thermometer falls to 52o. In the highlands of the Deccan also, the winters are cold. At Hyderabad, and in the provinces to the north of it, the thermometer, during three months, is often as low as 45°, sometimes down to 35o. *
The soil of India exhibits fewer varieties than might be expected in so vast a tract of country. In the whole of the Gangetic plain, the prevalent soil is a rich black mould of alluvial origin. No other soil appears below Dacca and Borleah, between the Tiperah hills on the east, and Burdwan on the west ; nor is there any substance so coarse as gravel, either in the Delta or nearer the sea than Oudanulla, which is 400 miles distant by the course of the river. At that place, a rocky point projects from the base of the neighbouring hills into the river. In other parts of Bengal and the adjacent provinces, there is a consider. able extent of clayey soil; and that this was the original soil where the black mould is now found, is proved by the appearance of the beds of the rivers, which are of clay. The soil of the Punjaub resembles
• The above details relating to the climate and seasons of India, are taken chiefly from the article India, in the Edinburgh Encyclopedia, edited by Dr. Brewster. The writer has drawn his information from materials to which M. Malte Brun seems not to have had access, since, on these points, his account of Hindostan is sin. gularly defective.
that which prevails in Bengal, and is equally fertile. In Malwah also, it is a deep, black, rich mould. The whole of the plains of Chitteldroog in the Mysore, extending ten miles from N. to S., and four from E. to W., consist of black mould to a great depth. Towards Gujerat and Sinde, the soil becomes more sandy. Gundwana and Orissa contain the largest proportion of poor, unproductive soil. On the table. land of the Deccan and the southern provinces, the soil is of various qualities ; but in general, it is a fertile loam on rock. Near the coast, it is sandy and poor. In the province of Malabar, the soil at the foot of the low hills which intervene between' the sea and the Ghauts, is a red clay or brick earth. On the Coromandel coast, the sandy soil continues nearly to the foot of the Eastern Ghauts. The summits of this chain are of granite, and present a frightful bar
The Western Ghauts are described as containing much limestone and basaltic rocks. Rocks of trap formation, sandstone, and quartz are found in Malwah.* The substratum of the soil in Hindostan Proper is, in many places, calcareous : in other parts, it is clay or rock. With the exception of the few uncultivated parts which have been referred to, and the marshy tracts near the mouths and banks of the great rivers, India every where presents beautiful meadows, rich pastures, fields loaded with biennial harvests, and valleys adorned with every useful and every beautiful product of vegetation. In the dry season, indeed, nature seems to languish ; but one night's rain will transform an arid plain into a verdant meadow; and in this country, the kingdom of Flora is exhibited in all its glory.
* See some valuable Geological Notes on the strata between Malwa and Guzerat, by Captain John Stewart, in Transactions of the Lit. Society of Bombay, vol. iii. art. 16.
VEGETABLE AND MINERAL PRODUCTIONS, The natural history of India can be only glanced at in this rapid outline. To its rare vegetable treasures, not less than to its mineral riches, this country has owed the distinction of being, in all ages, the fountain of mercantile wealth, and the focus of commercial enterprise. The Indian nard, or spikenard, is supposed to be the species of valerian known by the Hindoos under the name of jatamansi. * The malabathrum,t purchased at a high price by the Romans, and mentioned as an aromatic unguent by Horace, is supposed to be the betel-leaf (piper betel), which, togë. ther with the areca-nut and quick-lime (chunam), forms the masticatory of which the Birmans are so passionately fond.
It flourishes particularly in the Tiperah district, on the banks of the Megna, where the coming crop is regularly bought up by the Birman merchants. The areca-palm is cultivated over nearly the whole of India for its nuts. It grows spontaneously on the hills in the Concan and North Canara.
# In Persian, khustah ; in Arabic, sumbul ; in Bootanee, pampi. It is indigenous in Bootan and Nepaul. The odour resembles that of the violet. See Asiat. Res. iv. 108, 451, 733; Vincent's Periplus, App. 37; Phil. Trans. 1790, Ixx. 284; and Calmet's Dict. by Taylor, vol. iv. 122–128.
† Malabathrum is supposed to be derived from Mala, Malabar, and putra, the Sanscrit for leaf. An extract or composition from the leaf, or rather from the nut, was probably the article so designated. Horace and Pliny both describe it as an unguent :
Malabathro Syrio capillos.” (Od. il. 7; and Plin. lib. xii. 26). It was probably brought from India by Syrian merchants. It was also used to perfume wines. VINCENT'S Periplus, ii. 60.
In Malabar, there is a red species, which is used in dyeing. Besides the areca or cabbage-palm, there is a great variety of the palm-kind in India. The cocoa. nut-tree is found in all parts, but especially on the sandy coasts of the Peninsula. This invaluable tree supplies the natives at once with food, lamp-oil, coir. cables (made from the fibrous covering of the nut), thatch for their huts, a cloak in the rainy season, a fermented juice called jaghery, and the spirit known under the names of arrack and toddy. Rafters, water-pipes, fuel, and a substitute for paper, are afforded by the leaves and wood of the other varieties of palm. The largest species is the greater fan-palm, which abounds in the Payenghaut: two or three of its leaves are said to be sufficient to thatch a cottage. The most beautiful species is the sago-palm, which is less common.
The acacia catechu (cate-chu, juice-tree, called in, Bahar, cocra) abounds in most of the mountainous districts, rising to the height of about 12 feet. The extract (called cult by the natives, cutch by the English) is obtained from the inner wood, and is exported both from Bengal and Bombay. The acacia drabica, the Babul-tree of the Hindoos, grows in great abundance all over the Deccan, and is very common in the wastes of Gujerat, where its gum (which closely resembles in its qualities gum-arabic) is used by the poorer sort as food.* It bears a handsome and very sweet-scented flower, consisting of a bright yellow ball. The bark is used for tanning, and the wood is considered to make the best wheels and axletrees of any in India. This tree also makes an excel.
* The gum-arabic obtained from the acacia vera, is highly nutritive, and is eaten by the Arabs. See Mod. Trav. Arabia, pp.
lent hedge-fence. The sandal-tree is another valuable production of India. The pterocarpus santalinus, which furnishes the red sanders-wood, flourishes in the Mysore, above the Western Ghauts. The sandal, which is merely the heart of the wood, is exported chiefly from the Malabar coast, in large billets of a blackish red outside, but a bright red within. This species has no smell, and little or no taste, but yields a colouring matter resembling that of the Brazil wood. The yellow sanders-wood (santalum flavum) appears to be the heart of a different species, and is much more highly prized in India. It has a pleasant smell, and is an aromatic bitter. With the powder of this wood, the paste is prepared, with which the Hindoos, Persians, Arabians, Chinese, and Turks anoint them. selves. It is likewise burned in their houses, and gives a fragrant and wholesome smell. It yields, on distillation, a fragrant essential oil, which thickens into the consistence of a balsam.. In many of its qualities, it appears to resemble the aloes-wood, if it be not the aloes-tree of the ancients.f The pterocarpus draco is the tree which supplies the resin commonly called dragon's blood : this tree rises to the height of 30 feet. The plant which produces the gum-ammo
* The brazil-wood is, in like manner, the heart of the tree, which is a lomentaceous shrub. See Mod. Trav., Brazil, vol. i. p. 88.
† Some have supposed the 'Arón of the Periplus to be the sandal-wood; and it is some confirmation of this opinion, that the Hebrew ahalim (Num. xxiv. 6; Psal. xlv. 9; Prov. vii. 16; Cant. iv. 14), rendered lign-aloes in our version, and by the LXX and Jerome sometimes translated aloe, is by the Rabbins translated santal. This was also the opinion of an Arabian Jew consulted by Niebuhr. See Calmet's Dict. Aloes ; Gesenius's Heb. Lex. ahalim; Harris's Nat. Hist. of the Bible.
# This is said to be a papilionaceous plant of the decandria order and diadelphia class; whereas the santalum is classed with the octandria monogynia.