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indoors. The thermometer in the middle of the day (in the shade' of course, and not under an apple tree in the garden, like some people's shaded' thermometers in England, but in the middle of this room, which is forty feet long, far away from all radiation) seldom stands higher than 88°, and in the morning and evening is generally about 76° or 77°: it is just between the two now as I sit here. Every one else has gone to bed.
The bearer' is snoring in the verandah (he has extra pay for sleeping there as a watchman, and, I suspect, has a touch of opium in his nightcap, for I have several times found it very difficult to rouse him, and scarcely know whether real thieves-of whom, however, we are not much afraid--would succeed any better); the hum of voices from the College is hushed ; everything human has conspired to leave the world to silence and to me,' at this delicious hour. And yet not darkness, for the moon, which is near the full, and was risen when the sun set, has kept alive the twilight.
Nor does all the air so 6 solemn a stillness hold' as at night in extra-tropical lands. The beetle' here, too, wheels his droning flight,'—but not the beetle alone. One has just come in to invade my solitudester,—and having knocked his head against the punkah, now lies sprawling on the table.
After him in pop a couple of bats, which, cheated of their prey, as
A Tropical Evening:
I suppose, are chasing each other round and round the room within an inch of the ceiling; for I have my doors and windows wide open both east and west. Innumerable crickets are hailing one another from every conceivable corner; the frogs in the valley are croaking their night-long chorus; two owls are conversing in the mango trees; the night-jar and chaunting hawk are turning night into day; and there are even flowers, as my reader will know, in this climate, which wait till the sun has gone before they unfold their beauties and unlock their treasuries of perfume. At this moment a magnificent brugmansia, not far off, with flowers of purest white fully six inches in length; a moon-flower, which is creeping over the trellis-work at my door; and a nightflowering cereus, are all in their beauty and are filling the air with delicious fragrance. Two mandarin-orange trees, too, are just in full bloom, and are adding their quota.
I have just been to look at them, and found them centres of most busy life: the moths are holding a perfect revel about them; scores of sphingidæ' on the wing are attacking the flowers with their long probosces. And so amid all this revel of nature, though alone, I cannot feel lonely. It is just the hour for a retrospect--for gathering up the threads of thought and weaving them afresh.
No subject better deserves the attention and study of
Englishmen, both in its religious and political bearings, than our great Eastern Empire. No country presents a history more pregnant with interest. India,—the land of the Vedas; the land of the Great Moguls; the land of Clive's conquests; the land over which Dutch and Portuguese, and French and English, have had many a fierce struggle; once the apple of discord among the nations; and ever the world's cornucopia, from whose scattered riches Tyre built her walls and clothed herself in purple, and Solomon enriched his capital with gold and ivory and peacocks, and Alexandria filled her libraries, and Venice reared her palaces. You have read something already of her ancient literature and her modern idolatry; of her religious schisms and strange mythologies ; of the proud supremacy of her brahmans and of her exiled Buddhism ; and when you have made the far East your home, you try to go everywhere—or ought to do—with your eyes and your ears open.
I landed at Madras on the 28th of December, 1854 ; but, as my chief experiences of India belong to the southwestern coast, I shall confine my narrative to that. The greater part of my journey from Madras westwards was too much, no doubt, like other recorded journeys for me to linger over it. The excitement of the first starting just at sunset (I had a companion, and we travelled by palanquin), the hum of the bearers, the The Journey Westwards.
flare of the torches, the midnight halt and the fire, and bearers' supper, under some "wide-spreading' banyan, the rest during the scorching day in the public bungalow, and the start afresh in the cool of the evening, would form but a tale thrice told. Our route was by Tanjore, Trichinopoly, and Coimbatore. At the next stage, Palghaut, we were fairly in the Malabar country.
During the night we had passed from the eastern to the western side of the Western Ghauts; and a most wonderful transformation in scenery, climate, productions, people, and indeed almost everything, is due, as it would appear, entirely to this mountain range. While to the east of the Ghauts lies the almost treeless plain of the Carnatic, broken only at intervals by solitary conical hills, such as the hill at Trichinopoly, to the west is a beautifully undulating country, richly wooded to the sea.
While to the east from May to September the Carnatic is parched up with hot land-winds, on the west the black clouds of the south-west monsoon are gathering over the Ghauts, and pouring their floods of water on the jungles of Malabar; and while from September to January the north-west monsoon is deluging the Carnatic, the west is beginning to glow under cloudless skies. While on the east, if there are any forests, they consist chiefly of the dreary and mono
tonous Palmyra,' the hills on the west are clothed with forests of teak, and angely, and blackwood, and cedar,5 and cotton-trees, and bamboos ;7 and the valleys are luxuriant with the cocoa-nut 8 and the areca-nut, the pepper-vine 10 and the betel-vine," and a profusion of beautiful creepers, which festoon the river-banks and charm the eye at every turn. The very people, too, of the west, though of the same race, are different from those of the Carnatic in colour, language, and physique, as well as in many of their habits : not the least conspicuous difference, at first sight, is the wearing of the kudumi, or tuft of hair, on the top instead of the back of the head; the latter being the fashion through the rest of India.
The road from Coimbatore to Palghaut lies through what is called the Palghaut Pass. This is, in fact, a continuation of the plain of the Carnatic, stretching through the Ghauts, and is of considerable width. Throụgh this pass the Ponnany river flows westwards ; and, following its course, on the northern bank, is laid the railway, that now runs from coast to coast. To the north of the pass the Coondas, a branch of the Neil
i Borassus flabelliformis.
7 Bambusa arundinacea.