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pleasing scene. He passes now through smiling and fruitful valleys, overhung by the most romantic steeps, and covered to a great extent with the noblest forests. Amid trees similar to those which spread their majestic foliage on the banks of the Ganges, various species of the more hardy oak and the pine begin to appear. The prospects obtained from commanding points in these regions, consisting in a foreground of smiling and cultured vales, hills behind crowned with natural plantations, steeper and loftier ranges beyond, and in the distance the snow-clad tops of the highest mountain-chain, form a combination of the most sublime and enchanting scenery.
The Himalayah, as it ascends above the picturesque slopes which diversify its lower border, assumes a much bolder and severer aspect. The lofty ridge, the deep valley, the dashing torrent, produce a resemblance to the most elevated portions of the Highlands of Scotland; and Scottish officers, accordingly, who happened to serve in that remote province, have fancied themselves wandering amid the romantic glens of their native country. Generally speaking, the character of this mountain chain is rugged and stern; its ridges rise behind each other in awful array, but they enclose no rural scenes, nor present any gentle undulations. Their steep sides, sometimes wooded, sometimes presenting vast faces of naked rock, dip down abruptly, forming dark chasms and ravines, at the bottom of which there is only room for the torrent to force its way through rude fragments fallen from the cliffs above.
In consequence of this peculiar structure, these loftier regions of the Himalayah do not present that tranquil grandeur, and those picturesque views, which render the mountain scenery of Europe so enchanting. They are rugged, gloomy, and monotonous. The mighty summits overhang no soft, pastoral valleys, nor wave with varied foliage, nor are reflected in the bosom of still and transparent lakes.
The traveller, hemmed in between their steep precipices, sees only the dark grandeur of the chasm through which he winds. Sometimes, however, on reaching a clear point, he finds himself in possession of a prospect bearing a character of
the most awful sublimity. A spot, raised almost to an immeasurable height above the plain beneath, proves only the base whence seven or eight successive ranges rise towards heaven, and terminate at length in a line of snowy pinnacles.
Mr. Royle, in his work on the botany of the Himalayah, divides that region, in respect to vegetation, into three zones or belts. The first he considers as rising to the height of 5000 feet. The general temperature is here lowered, as usual, in proportion to the elevation, yet without the disappearance, to the extent that might be expected, of tropical plants. The southern exposure, the intense force of the sun's rays during the hot season, and the tropical rains falling in undiminished abundance, enable these to be brought to almost equal maturity with those in the upper part of the central plain. In Nepaul, and other favourable situations, rice as a summer, and wheat as a winter crop, form the regular course of cultivation. But some of the more delicate plants are unable to resist exposure to the keen atmosphere and the nightly breezes ; among which are the choicest of fruits, the mango and the pineapple. At the same time, in the colder season, on elevated peaks, the plants of Europe and other temperate climates are seen springing contiguously to those of the tropic. Snow is scarcely ever observed on this lower stage of the mountain territory.
The second belt is considered as reaching to the height of 9000 feet. Snow here falls constantly in winter, often to a great depth, but melts in early spring. Although the vegetation becomes more and more that of the temperate zone, yet the causes already stated enable tropical plants to climb beyond their natural height, and to mingle with those of a very different clime. In sheltered, wellwatered valleys, crops of rice are still successfully raised, while wheat grows on the heights above. But though the herbaceous plants are able to mount thus high, it is otherwise with trees, exposed to every vicissitude of the seasons. The palms and other Indian species are seen no longer, and the foliage appears exclusively European.
The third and most elevated belt reaches from the border of the latter to the summit of the Himalayah. The climate here is
that of the more northern part of Europe and America, terminating in the perpetual snows of the arctic world. These, even in the lower districts, do not melt till May or June, when the extreme cold of winter is suddenly succeeded by the most intense heat. The rays of the sun, indeed, beat fiercely and painfully, even when the atmosphere is so little affected by them that the thermometer stands many degrees below the freezing point; and hence the traveller is scorched amidst almost unbearable cold,-extremes which always prove distressing, and sometimes fatal. The territory called Bhotan, constituting the most elevated portion, has the severity of the climate aggravated by its rocky surface, so that not above a sixteenth part of it is fit for cultivation; yet, even here, under circumstances not at all favourable, vegetation displays a luxuriance which could little be expected at so great a height. Buckwheat and barley are generally raised with success. At 12,000 feet, Captain Webb saw the finest grain; and at 11,680, he observed forests of oak, and beds of strawberries and currants in full blossom. The pasturage, in consequence probably of copious moisture, combined with the power of the sun's rays, grows with a luxuriance almost unequalled. A productive field, however, is occasionally ruined by the descent of glaciers, or beds of snow, which do not melt for several years.
Notwithstanding the shattered and rocky aspect of those precipices, they are covered with vast masses of hanging wood. Amidst the wilds, tall and majestic forests of pine, larch, spruce, and silver fir, sometimes even of cypress and cedar, grow, flourish, and decay; for there are no means of conveying the timber to any spot where it might be subservient to human use or ornament. With these trees are intermingled numerous bushes loaded with the fruits which form the luxury of the northern regions of Europe; gooseberry, raspberry, strawberry-all unknown to the plains below. In sheltered spots, the wild rose, the lily of the valley, cowslip, dandelion, and various other flowers, are seen bursting through the green carpet. The trees and rocks in the higher districts are richly clothed with moss and lichen, the vegetation of the countries bordering on the arctic circle.
(Continued.) The animal world in this higher region undergoes a change equally striking with the vegetable. The elephant and tiger, kings of the forests beneath, disappear, or are very seldom seen. Depredations are chiefly committed by the wild cat, the bear, and the hog. The chamois bounds from rock to rock, and the forests are filled with deer of various species ; of which the most rare and precious is that producing the musk. It is found only in the loftiest heights, amid rocks which the human foot scarcely dares to tread. The most intense cold is so essential to its life, that the young, on being brought down to a warm situation, usually perish in a few days. The forests, at all the more moderate elevations, are filled with flocks of such fowls as are elsewhere domesticated, here running about wild, tempting the pursuit of the sportsman ; but, as they very seldom take wing, they are with difficulty reached by the gun. The peacock displays his glittering plumage only on the lower bills. The sovereign eagle is seldom descried amid the cliffs, which are inhabited by kites, hawks, and others of the minor predatory birds. Partridges and pheasants are numerous, and of various species ; the latter are even seen flying amid the snows at a great elevation.
The domestic animals, fed by the natives on their rich pastures, are the common black cattle of India, combined with the yak of Thibet. Sheep and goats are also reared in large numbers, not only for the ordinary purposes of food and clothing, but for the conveyance of merchandise, which they alone are fitted to transport over the steep mountain passes.
Besides the common sheep, there is another breed, powerful, and long-legged, and able to bear more than double the burden of the other.
The most elevated part of this stupendous range is that to the north of Bengal, along the heads of the Gogra, the Ganges, and the Jumna, and westward as far as the Sutledge. Above fifty
peaks rise about 20,000; and Kinchinjunga, 28,180 feet; Karakoram, 28,278 feet; and Everest, 29,000 feet, are the highest known points of the globe. This sublime formation is supposed to be 1000 miles in length, and 80 in breadth.
Notwithstanding the gloomy aspect of these mountain scenes, there are a few places in which they open out into smiling plains of considerable extent. The valleys of Nepaul, indeed, besides being very narrow, belong rather to the region of the lower hills. Considerably higher is found the Rama Serai, or the Happy Valley, where little eminences, villages, and richly cultivated fields, combine to form a delightful scene. The most extensive opening, however, takes place at its western extremity, where these great ridges enclose the little kingdom of Cashmere, which, beyond any other spot on earth, seems to merit the appellation of a terrestrial paradise.
The passes which extend across this tremendous ridge into Thibet are of extreme and peculiar difficulty. From the structure of the mountains, the roads must generally be carried nearly over their summits, rising sometimes as high as 20,000 feet. They are, in most cases, formed by a precarious track along the alpine torrent, which dashes in an unbroken sheet of foam, through dark ravines bordered by precipitous mountain walls ascending above the clouds. Down the perpendicular faces of these stupendous avenues descend almost continual showers of stony fragments, broken off from the cliffs above. Occasionally, large portions of rock are detached, and roll down in heaps, effacing every path which has been formed beneath, filling the beds of the rivers, and converting them into cataracts. The whole side of a mountain has been seen thus parted, and spread in fragments at its base. Trees torn up and precipitated into the abyss, lie stretched with their branches on the earth, and their roots turned up to the sky. Yet through these tremendous passes, and across all these mighty obstructions, the daring industry of man has contrived to form tracks, narrow,
indeed, as well as fearful and perilous, but by means of which Thibet and India find it possible to exchange their respective commodities.