Titavms, Account of Konawnr, in the Himalaya, &c. fcc. Ikc. By the late Captain Alex-
ander Gerard. Edited by George Lloyd. With a large map Made. oad Co. Ma/11MM. On the Remote Cause of Epidemic Diseases. By John Parkin, Graduate of Medi- cine in the University or Erlangen, lc. &e. Sze Hatchard. BLISLIO0a1MII, Reasons for a New Edition of Shakspeare's Works; containing notices of the defects of former impressions, and pointing out the lately.acquired means of illustrating the Plays. Poems. and Biography of the Poet. By J. Payne Collier. Esq., F.S.A.; Author of the" History of English Dramatic Poetry and the Stage." &e.
Whittaker and Co.
GERARD'S ACCOUNT OF XONAWUR IN THE HIMALAYA.
THE brothers GERARD must have been enthusiasts in their profession of measuring heights and distances. For upwards of fifteen years did they prosecute with unabated ardour the task of surveying the mountain districts at the Northern extremity of Bri- tish India. A lofty mountain was to them an irresistible attraction : not for the sake of scenery—though they had a taste for that too—but for the sake of ascertaining its elevation above the sea, its latitude and longitude. CHARLES LAMB used to allege that Scotchmen take pleasure in enunciating the most commonplace truths, simply for the sake of saying something that is incontro- vertible. It must have been this instinct which bore up these scions of' Aberdeen in their toilsome pilgrimages through the Himalaya. "We wished much," writes Captain ALEXANDER GERARD, "to see the barometer below fifteen inches, and deter- mined to make another attempt to reach the summit of a peak north of our yesterday's station, which appeared six hundred or seven hundred feet higher." And this wish to see with their bodily eyes a fact of which they entertained not the slightest doubt, led them to climb an ascent, towards the top of which, he says—" We had infinite trouble in getting our people to go on, and were obliged to keep calling out to them the whole way, at one time threatening at another coaxing them : to tell the truth, however, we could not have walked much faster ourselves, for we felt a fulness in the head, and experienced a general debility, which, together with headaches and pains in the ears and breast, affected us more than the day before." And they encountered these painful affections for the sake of seeing "the barometer below fifteen inches," with a perfect foreknowledge of what was awaiting them ; for "the day before" their experiences had been of this pleasing character—" We went up the face of a steep hill for a mile and a half, sometimes over large unshapen masses of granite, sometimes upon a gravelly soil covered with brown furze, and various kinds of aromatic shrubs. There was not the least trace of a footpath, and the prickly bushes impeded us not a little, every moment running into the feet through the shoes, which were of the kind used by the natives ; our own stock having been long worn out. * * * Another peak in front took us full three hours to reach its top ; and the ascent was very tiresome, lying over enormous detached blocks of stone, often rest- ing upon small bases, shaking under the feet, and seeming ready to overwhelm us. The last two hundred yards were still worse ; and we were obliged to use both hands and feet, now climbing up almost perpendicular rocks, and now leaping from one to the other : a single false step might have been attended with fatal consequences, and we had hardly strength sufficient to make the effort (and it required no inconsiderable one) to clear the deep chasms, which we could scarcely view without shuddering."
It was not merely on one occasion that they braved such discom- fort—not for one or two days, but repeatedly, and, like Tam O'Shanter, "for weeks thegither"; as will appear from this extract— "October 9. Marched ten miles to the bed of a mountain-torrent, and did not arrive till an hour after dark. This day's journey was one of the most tire- some we had experienced, crossing two mountains of 12,000 and 13,000 feet. The ascents and descents, one of which was full 4,000 feet in perpendicular height, were steeper for a long continuance than any we have yet seen ; and the path was strewed with broken slate, which gave way under the feet. Neither tent nor luggage arrived ; and we had nothing hut cakes of a very coarse meal, which hunger, however, made palatable; upon this kind of food, together with a few putrid en, which our people occasionally shot, and without either plates, knives or forks, we lived for five days. We should have afforded an amusing spectacle, seated upon blankets, with long beards, near a fire in the open air, surrounded by our servants dissecting the partridges with the kookree, or short sword worn by the Goorkalies, and smoking plain tobacco out of a pipe little better than what is used by the lower classes: novelty, however, has its charms, and our being in a country hitherto untrod by a European, gave us a delight amidst our most toilsome marches, scarcely to be imagined by a person who has never been in the same situation."
Perhaps still more strikingly from the following-
,' The inhabitants are often extremely dirty, which seems to be natural to those of high mountainous countries : and it is not surprising, for when my brother and I were encamped at 15,000 and 16,000 feet without a tent for several days in a frigid atmosphere, we frequently did not undress for a week ; and when the skin was peeled off our hands and faces, we did not find it agree- able to touch water at the temperature of freezing for as long a time."
After all, this marching from hill to hill, with sextants, baro- meters, theodolites, and perambulators, is fully more rational than risking a man's neck in pursuit of a fox. The secret of the excite- ment is the same—the conscious pride of overcoming difficulties— the quicker throb of the pulse in striving to do what few dare do ; and whereas the fruit of the foxhunter's toil is a piece of worthless carrion, the fruit of our latitude-and-longitude-hunters is a rich harvest of facts, by the aid of which philosophers are enabled to look more deeply into the secrets of creation. They were also re- warded by opportunities of beholding scenery such as is rarely visited. ALEXANDER GERARD was no scene-painter—no florid
declaimer about rocks, water, and moonlight ; but his incidental notices of the mountain-views indicate a fresh and healthy sense of the beautiful. In reading his unpretending, unconscious sketches, we feel ourselves in a land of grandeur alternating with beauty. Take for example the valley of the Teedoong.
" This is without exception the most rugged glen I have seen ; its length, from the Sutledge as far up as it is capable of cultivation, is fourteen miles, and the highest village must be near 12,000 feet. I did not visit it, but stopped nearly two miles lower down, which was 11,700 feet. In all there are three villages, none of which are large. The cultivation is poor, in very small patches"; and for twelve miles the cliffs on either side subtend an angle of 60 or 70 degrees, and menace the traveller with destruction; they rise in the most hideous shapes, and are really frightful to behold ; they are generally naked, but here and there a few dwarf pines mountain-ashes, gooseberry and juniper- bushes, find a scanty nourishment. The rocks are hollowed out into innume- rable caves, some of them capable of conveniently sheltering fifty or sixty people ; and the river, whose fall is 300 feet per mile, breaks on the scattered fragments with a deafening noise, reverberated tenfold from the surrounding caverns."
The following sketch has not so much of the vroXvcbXeccrgoto, but is equally interesting.
"The dell of the Wungnr includes the district of Wangpo, containing seven paltry villages. A very rapid torrent rushes through it, and near its union with the Sutledge it forms a succession of waterfalls, and dashes against the huge rocks in its bed with a noise like thunder, throwing the spray in sparkling showers to an astonishina. height. The small lateral vallies are numerous, and it is in them one ends the greatest variety of beautiful scenery. The prospects are not i so grand as in the deeper glens, but they are much more diversified, and there s not such a degree of sameness for so great a space. On one side are shady copses and deep forests of evergreens, overtopped by bare crags ending in snowy summits, and now and then you meet with a mural pre- cipice of several hundred feet, over which a cataract discharges its spangled stream. On the other side again, the weeds are not so thick, and the ground presents a carpet embellished with many sorts of lovely wild flowers of the most gaudy tints and delightful fragrance : this place is famed for the excel- lence of its pasture, and here are browsing numerous herds of cattle. The rivulets in these rallies have just as varied an appearance : in one place the torrent leaps from rock to rock in a series of cascades; or where the declivity is more gentle, it expands into sheets of limpid water, and now and than passes under dark vaults, whose lower surfaces are formed of thousands of sparkling icicles of various forms, clear as rock-crystal, from which showers are con- stantly dripping."
But let us lead our readers from the uninhabited mountains to the plains frequented by men.
"The flocks for four or five months are sent to pasturage high up the mountains. The shepherds are relieved regularly, and during their absence they live in small houses, named Dogree or Shurnung, where they em- ploy themselves in making butter. The situation of many of these dogrees is uncommonly romantic, upon the sides of sunny banks, co- rered with carpets of the most flagrant flowers, or in sequestered dells, surrounded by huge mountains towering to the skies; some presenting fences of granite, or craggy heights, threatening destruction to the peace- ful flocks, whilst others arc crowned with perpetual snow : the contrast of these with the dark forests of oak, covered with mosses and lichens stream- ing in the wind, interspersed with yellow-coloured belts of birch and rhododen- dron in full bloom, form the grandest scenery imaginable. In summer, the climate of these delightful spots is charming; - and it is here that the raspberry, black-currant, and strawberry are found in the highest perfection, upon the verdant banks of the limpid streams that descend from melted snow."
The inhabitants of these scenes seem endowed with a taste for the beauties of nature.
"The people are fond of dancing and singing, and they have several annual festivals, which they celebrate with a degree of joy scarcely known among other Asiatic nations. The grandest festival is called Mentiko, which prevails throughout the whole of Konawur: it is held in the beginning of September, but I could get no account of its origin. All the people who are able to move leave their villages and ascend the nearest hill ; they proceed slowly, making a circuit of several days, and this is a time of the greatest festivity ; they adorn themselves with garlands and flowers, and sing and dance to the sound of music, which is much more melodious than the Hindostanee tunes ; they play at all sorts of amusements, run foot and horse races when the ground will ad- mit of it, perform feats of agility, feast, and drink. "Their musical instruments are large and small trumpets, shells for blow- ing, drums and kettle-drums : these are chiefly used to please the gods; but during their holydays they play upon tambours, fifes, pipes, fiddles, and double- flageolets, and many of their airs are very pleasing. They like to ornament themselves with wreaths of flowers, and you seldom see a person without some about his cap. In crossing the high passes, or after we had been encamped for some days on spots without vegetation, our guides seemed to hail with rapture the first flowers they saw ; they pulled and stuck them in the rims of their caps, and further down exchanged them for the rhododendron or some other sweet-smelling-flower."
They are a mixed people. The inhabitants of the lower glens are Hindoos—at least in religion : the inhabitants of the upper glens are both in religion and race Thibetans. GERARD'S descrip- tion of the latter increases our desire to know more of a race whom Chinese policy, more than their own inclination, obliges to meet with backwardness European overtures to nearer acquaintance. They seem a frank and kindly race. Their religion, however, puzzles us : it is preeminently mechanical. The application of water and steam-power has been carried to a great length in Eu- rope: Irtous mentions a traveller in Tyrol, who found a cradle in a cottage kept rocking during the mother's absence by a string passed through a hole in the wall, and attached to a wheel turned by a brook that ran past. But the votaries of the Grand Lama have gone a step beyond this—they pray by water-power !
"Cylinders, called mane, are common : they are nothing more than hollow wooden barrels, inside of which are sacred sentences printed on paper or cloth; they are closed up, and are generally a foot long; they are placed on a perpen- dicular axis, and are always turned from the North towards the East. " These are used for the purpose of devotion ; and a person in passing generally gives it a twirl, repeating 'Corn mane, pace nice hoong.' • * • At Soongnum there are three cylinders kept constantly in motion by water, on the same principle as water-mills; and at Nismy several are turned by the wind."
The incidents in the life of a simple people in a remote and in- accessible situation are little varied. We have seen an account of their festive hours : here is a striking picture of the kind of calami- ties which at times befal them.
"We were on the rugged slope of the dell for more than two hours after
noon, and there was a continued rattling of rocks almost the whole time; im- mense avalanches of snow descended, carrying with them many large stones, and thousands of splinters; and some of my followers bad very narrow escapes : twice I saw a considerable piece of rock pass with great velocity between two of them not more than four feet asunder. It is the melting of the snow from the sun's rays that chiefly causes these avalanches; and during a shower of rain the descent of the stones is just as frequent, as I witnessed near Kimleea, where many fragments of great 'bulk, dislodged from above, tore up the path at no great distance from us. Large portions of rock fall yearly, and their effects are truly dreadful ; they commit the most horrid devastation, and even stop the channels of the largest rivers for weeks. An instance of this kind is still re- membered by some of the inhabitants of Belaspoor. About fifty-five years since, an immense mountain gave way, filled the bed of the Sutledge, and arrested the passage of the stream for above six weeks ; during this time the inhabitants were anxiously looking out for the bursting of the embankment : when it did give way, the rush of such an overwhelming body of water may be more easily conceived than described. People were stationed on the heights all along from the place where the stream was stopped as far as Belaspoor, and they gave notice of the approach of the flood by firing muskets. The news arrived in time to some of the inhabitants, but the whole of the town was swept away."
These features of Konawur, although perhaps on a larger scale than is often met with, are common to all alpine countries. The valley, however, forms a passage from the lower hill-lands of North- ern Hindostan to the high central plateau of Further Asia. This immense bulging of the crust of the globe, as it is unparalleled for height and extent, so it differs in its characteristic features from all known countries. The reader will be prepared for this if he only reflects that the average height of the plain is about the height of the summit of Mont Blanc ; and that from this elevation, as from a base, mountain-ranges ascend quite equal to our European Alps. The height of the plain produces an almost polar climate, modified by the more direct incidence of the rays of the sun and also by the greater rarity of the atmosphere. Sketches of scenes which occur in this lofty region were submitted to our readers some time Imo in a notice of the Travels of MooaertoEr : at present we have only room for an outline of its predominant character.
"What a striking contrast there is between this extraordinary country and the lower tracts ! Here seems to reign perpetual solitude, never disturbed by the crash of falling rocks. There is no stupendous scenery to attract the eye of the traveller; no bold crags, nor dusky woods of waving pines ; no finely- shaded grottoes, nor romantic vallies, flanked by the mural ramparts of granite, and scarcely a vestige of culture ; all is a frightful extent of barrenness, with no interesting object to diversify the scene. Elevated plains and undulating hills extend as far as the eye can reach, and a person may travel for many days without meeting a habitation. A. solitary village with a few scanty fields of wheat, barley, and ma, fenced with gooseberries, and some poplars that are planted for the sake of their leaves, which are given to cattle, or what is more common, an encampment of Tartar shepherds, with their black tents and flocks, but seldom interrupts the prospect ; all else is a dreary waste, without a single tree or even bush above a few inches in height. "Beds of several sorts of prickly shrubs, like furze, vegetate here and there, which give some parts of the country the appearance of a Highland heath, and strongly remind a Scotchman of his native land. In summer, the yellow bloom of the furze partially enlivens the view; but in October, every particle of vegetation is parched up, the leaves of the plants are reduced to powder, and the naked stalks, which are perfectly black, look as having been burned with Ere; the earth is often rent into small fissures, and no verdure is seen. There is something melancholy in beholding such an expanse of arid country, which is peculiarly striking from the degree of sameness which it exhibits. • * * " * "In traversing these wilds, where no abrupt peaks, wooded mountains, nor tumbling cataracts vary the prospect, the traveller feels an indescribable sensa- tion of solitude, which perpetually haunts his imagination, and he thinks him- self forsaken and forlorn. In October, the chilling winds, entirely destitute of moisture, blow with irresistible fury and a horrid howling over the bleak mountains, filling the eyes with dust, drying up every thing exposed to their force, and freezing, to death the unfortunate traveller who happens to be benighted on the lofty heights." The perusal of GERARD'S account of Konawur leaves upon the mind an impression almost of immensity, from the colossal nature of the objects described; and yet his rambles extended over a comparatively narrow space of the surface of the globe. Konawur does not exceed 2,105 square miles in extent, and it maintains a population of not more than 9,853—scarcely 4i to a square mile. Nor is it likely ever to become more populous. The soil could scarcely support more ; and the inhabitants are a people after MAL.rnus's own heart. "The number of inhabitants to a house was only ascertained in a few places, but the mean of these in various parts of Konawur gives six ; which will not appear too many, since polyandry, or a plurality of husbands, prevails." And "Besides this drawback on the increase of population, there is another peculiar (for Asia) to Chinese Tartary and the adjoining countries—that is, celibacy, which is professed by numbers of the inhabitants : in some villages the monks and nuns form almost half the population." The manner in which this volume has been edited is remarkably slovenly. As a specimen of the want of proper attention, the degree of latitude is erroneously marked on the map-33 for 32. This, though a glaring, might, if an isolated blunder, have been over- looked; but almost every page of the book bears traces of similar carelessness. It is much to be regretted that the collecting and pub- lishing the remains of the brothers GERARD had not been confided to some editor more able to do them justice, or more willing to take the trouble of being accurate. There are many valuable contributions by them to geographical science, which it would have been worth while to incorporate with those contained in the volume now under review and Mr. LLOYD'S previous publication. Their observations on the limits of the snow-line and the growth of trees are among the most important that have been made ; and it is not likely that observers so reckless of danger and fatigue, and of such scrupulous accuracy, will soon again devote so much attention to these inhos- pitable regions. Indeed, considering that all the three brothers may be said to have grown prematurely old and died in consequence of their efforts, it is scarcely to be wished there should.