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Animals

212

230

242

Antiquities
Customs, Marners und Religion of the Inhabit-

ants of the Indian Islands
Ilistorical Account of the European Trade with

India, from the Twelfth to the Eighteenth
Century

271

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OF

NATURE AND ART.

CHAP. IV. :

OF INDIA,

Periodical Winds, Springs, Cataracts, &c.

the west.

The vast tract of country generally known by the name of India, or the East Indies, is situated between sixty-six and one hundred and nine degrees of east longitude, and between one and forty degrees of north latitude; being bounded by Tartary on the north, by China on the east, by the Indian Ocean on the south, and by Persia on

A chain of mountains, which runs through the peninsula from north to south, is the cause of a very extraordinary phenomenon in natural history; for the countries separated by these mountais, though under the same latitude, have their climates and seasons so entirely different; that while it is summer on one side of the hills, it is winter on the other. On the western coast, which is usually distinguished by the name of the coast of Malabar, a south-wes, wind, begins to

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blow from the sea at the end of June, with continued rain, and rages against the land for four months, during which time the weather is calı and serene on the coast of Coromandel; and towards the end of October, the rainy season, caused by the change of the monsoon, begins on the same coast; at which time the tempestuous winds make it so dangerous for ships to remain there, for the three ensuing montlis, that it is scarcely ever attemptud. This occasions the periodical return of merchant vessels to Bombay, where there is a secure harbour and a conveni. ent dock.

As the tropic of Cancer extends through the middle of this country, the air is exceedingly hot, but in the most sultry season, rains cool the air, and refresh the earth. When these rains at in, a day seldom passes without terrible thunder and lightning; and even during the fair season, they have lightning, for several weeks together; but this is unattended with thunder, and seldom does any harm. The heavens are clear and serene, except in the rainy season, and the vernal equinox; for all the rest of the year is ex. empt from storms and hurricanes, and there are only such inoderate breezes, as the heat of the climate requires. The pleasure to be enjoyed by a contemplative anbulator in a morning or evening is really inconceivable, for the sky not only seems to enjoy a purity and brightness that is never seen in our northern latitudes, but the trecs retain a perpetual verdure, and both blossoms and ripe fruit may be seen on some tree or other, all the year round. At the end of tbe fair scason, indeed, the earth generally resembler a barren desart; but the showers no sooner begin to fall, than it is almost instantly corered with grass and herbs. The soil, consisting of a rich brittle mould, is easily broken up, and prepared for tillag; and though the same land is sown every year, it never requires any manure, but is rendered sufficiently prolific by the annual rains.

The regular winds on the coast of India, which seamen call monsoons, are observed to blow constantly sis months one way, and six months another ; namely, from April to October, òr thereabouts, they blow from the south-west, and from October to April from the north-east, only varying now and then a point or two on either side. The shifting of these contrary winds, which is called the breaking up of the monsoons, is usually attended with violent stornis or hurricanes, such as are very seldom experienced in Europe, and which render the navigation of the Indian seas peculiarly dangerous at that time of the year. Besides these periodical winds they have land and sea breezes, which shift once in twelve hours, except the monsoons are violent, for then the breezes give way to the tempest; and it is these sea breezes that are so refreshing to the southern parts of the country.

Having mentioned the monsoons, it may not be airiss, before we proceed farther, to enquire into the reason of that extraordinary phenome

The cause then of these periodical winds is owing to the course of the sun northward of the equator one half of the year, and southward the other. While he passes through the six northern signs of the ecliptic, the vast countries

of Arabia, Persia, India, and China, are heate', buy and reflect great quantities of the solar rays ir.'

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the regions of the ambient atmosphere, by which means it becomes very much rarefied, and has it's equilibrium of course destroyed; to restore which, the air from the equatorial parts, where it is cooler, as well as from the colder northern climes, must necesarily have a tendency, or motion, towards those parts, and so produces the monsoons for the first six months, during which time the heat of those countries is greatest. Then for the other six months, the sun traversing the ocean and countries towards the southern tropic, the air over those parts is most heated, and consequently the equatorial air alters its course, or the winds veer about, and blow upon the opposite points of the compass.

To account for another phenomenon, viz. the general trade winds, which do not shift like the monsoons, but blow continually the same way, we must consider, that heat, by rarefying the air, makes it lighter in some places than it is in others, and cold, by condensing it, makes it heavier. Hence it is, that in the torrid zone, the air, being more rarefied by the rays of the sun, is much lighter than in other parts of the atmosphere, and most of all over the equatorial parts of the earth. Now as the parts most rarefied are continually shifting toward the west, by the earth’s diurnal rotation eastward, it follows, that those parts of the air which lie on the west side of the point of greatest rarefaction, and flow to meet it, have less motion than the parts on the east of the said point, which follow it; and therefore the motion of the eastern air would prevail against that of the western, and so generate a perpetual east wind, if this were all the effect of that rarefaction. But as all the parts

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