« הקודםהמשך »
itself, are far from that degree of perfection which naturally they ought to possess.
ASIATIC RUSSIA.—The northern parts of Asia, from the parallel of 50°. is a portion of the vast Russian empire, or Siberia, divided into several provinces or governments, of which the most considerable are those of Tobolsk in the west, and Irkutsk on the east, so named from the capitals, the former containing 15,000, and the latter 12,000 inhabitants. The southern boundary of this prodigious tract of country, being in general a chain of lofty mountains, the cold natural to such a climate is much increased ; and the northern parts bounded by the dreary Frozen Ocean, present only desert marshy plains, covered with perpetual ice and snow. The country is traversed by the mighty streams the Ob, the Yenisei, the Lena, the Amoor: and forests of pine, herds of cattle, mines of gold, silver, copper, iron and rock-salt, are the chief treasures of this region. The southwestern parts however washed by the Volga, and the Caspian, enjoy a fine climate, with a soil fertile in many valuable productions. Of these parts the capital is Astracan, a large and populous town of great trade, situated on a cluster of islands formed by the Volga at its entrance into the Caspian.
CHINA. This country, differing in many particulars from every other on the globe, so much so that with difficulty we credit the accounts given of it, by even the most judicious and accurate travellers, is situated between the parallels of 20° and 42° of N. Lat. and between the meridians of 100° and 121° E. Long. the length from N. to S. being about 1320 geographic or 1525 English miles, and the greatest breadth from W. to E. about 1239 geog. or 1445 English miles: but in these limits are not comprehended the vast tracts on the west and north of China Proper, which are subject to that country. The population has, by the Chinese themselves, been
carried to the enormous number of 333 millions; by Europeans it has been estimated at from 210 10 220 millions : whichever of these accounts, be the nearest to the truth, it is unquestionable that the whole country scenis to swarın with inhabitants; and the number, magnitude, and populo lousness of the cities, towns, and villages, is without a parallel on the globe, unless Holland be considered as an exception. Pekin, the present capital of China, situated close on the northern frontiers, is supposed to contain 3 millions of people; while Nankin, the antient capital, is said to be still more considerable, the circumference of the walls being 17 English miles. Canton, situated on the eastern bank of a large navigable river in the sonthern parts of the
empire, contains a million and a half of inhabitants, and is the great emporium of all European trade; the different
nations having each their separate establishment or factory, where all business is transacted.
The greatest part of this wide empire is plain and level; the western and northern provinces, however, containing many mountainous ridges, which give rise to some of the greatest rivers in the old continent. The soil and climate are very various, but agriculture in all its branches is in general carried to a very great extent. The teas, the silks of China are too well known to require any description; and the mines of gold, silver, copper, iron, granite and marble, are of singular value. The metal we call tulenag, a native mixture of iron and zinc, is a peculiar production of China.
Amongst the singularities of this extraordinary part of the globe, is the great wall built along the northern frontiers, for the space of 1500 miles, being in many places 15 feet thick, and 25 feet high, with towers from distance to distance: It is supposed to have been constructed about 600 years ago. The lofty towers called by us Pagodas (if which we have a correct model in Kew Gardens) are a pe
culiar ornament to China : and the Porcelain or China ware has long maintained a superiority over that of all other countries : but this superiority consists rather in the purity of the materials employed than in the form, or the ornaments; in which points the establishments of Dresden, of Seve near Paris, &c. have a decided advantage.
The language of China differs from all others in this respect, that the original words consist only of one syllable, and these primitives are not very numerous, but by their combinations, and the various modes of sounding the component letters, a very copious language is produced. The written language has no alphabet, or series of symbols, or letters, which, by expressing simple sounds, may be combined together to express any complex sound, the Chinese having for each separate word, a separate mark, or character, amounting to upwards of eighty thousand ; from which arises the extrenie difficulty strangers, and even the natives themselves, meet with, in acquiring a competent skill in it.
India, or HINDOOSTAN.—This next great portion of Asia consists chiefly of one wide peninsula, or rather promontory, confined between the river Indus on the west, and the Ganges on the east, the northern boundary being ranges of lofty mountains, from whence these rivers proceed. The extent between the mouths of the Indus and Ganges, is about 1200 geographic miles, and the distance from Cape Comarin to the northern mountains, is about 1500 geographic miles.
The climate, in this widely extended country, is, although various, very warm, notwithstanding the perpetual snows of the mountains on the northern frontier. The hot or dry season begins with March, and continues to June, when the rains commence and last till September: the remaining months of the year are generally pleasant, but the begiuning of the year usually brings in a series of thick unhealthy
fogs. These periodical rains deluge the country and swell the rivers so, that the adjoining lands are inundated for a considerable extent on each side. In the latter end of July all the lower parts of Bengal contiguous to the Ganges and the Burrampooter, are overflowed, forming an inundation of more than a hundred miles in width; nothing appearing but villages and trees, excepting very rarely, the top of an elevated spot, the artificial mound of some deserted village, floating like an island.
The face of the country is very various, but in general it presents one extended plain ; for the highest range of hills, those running south parallel to the western shore, called the Gauts, are not reckoned to exceed 3000 feet in elevation,
The rivers are numerous and considerable: the Ganges, which rising in the mountainous country of Tibet, and entering Hindoostan, flows in general south-easterly, receiving the tribute of many noble streams, discharges itself into the Bay of Bengal by a number of mouths, that on the west, which washes the walls of Calcutta, and that on the east which unites with the Burrampooter, being the most considerable. This last great stream is supposed to have its sources not very remote from those of the Ganges, but taking at first an opposite course, again winds to the westward, and joins the Ganges at no great distance up from the sea. The Indus or Sindeh, which forms the western boundary of India, rises in the same elevated country which sends forth the two rivers above mentioned, and flowing in general southerly, falls by several openings into the Indian Ocean. The Nerbudda, rising in the centre of the country, flows westerly into the Gulf of Cambaya, near Surat. The Godavery, following a parallel, but contrary direction, crosses the country castward, which it enriches by its inundations, and discharges itself into the Bay of Bengal. The Kistna and the Caveri, which last incloses by
its arms the well known fortress of Seringapatam, also fall into the same bay.
The only mountains in India, if they may be so styled, are the ranges of hills streiching from north to south along the western shore, known in the coumtry by the very improper name of the Gants, a vative term signifying not a mountain but a pass. The lofty ranges however which bound India on the north, are supposed to be the most elevated region on the face of the globe, that called Ilimmala (perifaps the linaus of the antients) rising by observation 20,000 feet above the plain to the southward, itself elevated 5,000 feet above the sea.
Many of the natural productions of India are very valuable. The precious diamond of the greatest purity is only found in that quarter of the globe, in the neighbourhood of Golconda ; those of Brasil in South America being of an inferior quality. The diamond is found in the beds of torrents, or in a yellowish earth, under rocks of quartz or sandstone: the usual shape being a six-sided" prism, terminated at each end by a six-sided pyramid. The diamond is the hardest substance with which we are acquainted; and the conjecture of Sir Isaac Newton, founded on its great refracting power, that it was a combustible body, has of late years been fully confirmed by repeated experiments, diamonds having, when exposed to a very intense heat, been inflamed, entirely consumed and dissipated. Gold is found in the sands of some of the northern rivers : but silver is rare here as in most other eastern countries. Rice, which is the great article of food in India, maize and sugar-canès, are very abundant, and cotton furnishes employment to many of the natives in various branches of manufacturé. The rich botanical treasures of India would require volumes to enumerate: the curious Banyan tree, or Indian fig, the cocoa-nut tree, the sago, and other varieties of the palm, are well known to Europeans; and the teek wood, só valu