Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

to them, since it continued not only their territorial dominion in Hindoostan, but their exclusive trade 10 China. The wide coasts, however, of India and its islands, of Persia, Arabia and eastern Africa, were throwo open to the commercial enterprise of British subjects in general. This new opening has been embraced by the British merchants with characteristic vigor and enterprise. The first returns were found highly advantageous, yielding in many instances a profit of a hundred per cent. Goods that had been sent out chiefly in despair of finding another market, proved sometimes the most acceptable of any, and even the cottons of Paisley and Manchester from their superior cheapness were found to cope successfully with the staple fabrics of India. This unexpected result immediately occasioned a great extention of the trade, and India was soon as completely glotted with British produce, as the other markets of the world. The principal articles imported into India, previous to 1813, may be ranked as follows; bullion, woollen goods, naval stores, copper, lead and iron : the principal exports were cotton goods, sugar, indigo and saltpetre.

Missions and Translations. Within the last 20 years, many missionaries have been sent to this country by the different de nominations of Ohristians in Britain and America. A few years since thev were 150 in number, and scattered through all the principal towns of British India. The most important station is that of the Baptists, at Serampore, a Danish settlement on the Hoogly, 15 miles N. of Calcutta. The missionaries arrived there. in 1799, and have ever since been engaged in preaching to the natives and in translating and printing the Holy Scriptores. In 1818 the whole Bible had been translated and printed in five of the languages of India, and the New festament io eight more. At the same time 12 other versions of the New Testament were in the press. There is now scarcely a people from the Indus to the Pacific ocean who may not read in their own language, the greater part of the sacred volume. The printing office is an extensive establishment, and 10 presses are kept constantly employed. The schools established by the missionaries contained in 1819 nearly 10,000 scholars. A college for the education of native preachers has been recently established, and contained in 1819, 37 pupils. A mission college has also recently been established at Calcutta by members of the English church, for the purpose of preparing the natives and others, to become preachers, catechists and schoolmasters.

CASHMERE.

Situation, The province of Cashmere is a beautiful valley, of an oval form, about 90 miles long, situated chiefly between 34° and 35° N. lat. and between 73° and 76° E. Jon. It is sur. rounded on all sides by lofiy mountains, which rise into the re

[ocr errors]

gions of perpetual snow, and prevent all communication with the neighbouring countries, except through seven passes, at each of which guards are stationed, who examine all strangers and allow no person to quit the country without a passport. The only mode of transporting goods through these passes is op men's shoulders, the roads being impracticable either for horses or mules.

Rivers, Soil, Climate, &-c. Innumerable rivulets descend on all sides from the mountains, and after spreading verdure and fertility over every part of the valley, fall into the river Jhelum which breaks through the mountains on the southwestern fron, tier, and pursuing a long course to the S. W. at length falls into the lodus. From its elevated situation the climate of Cashmere is delightful, and the fruits and flowers of both zones are found in the greatest abundance. This beautiful valley was for a long time the favorite retreat of the emperors of Hindoostan during the hot months of the year, and the oriental poets vie with each other in celebrating its praises.

Manufactures.] The principal source of the wealth of Cashmere is its delicate and unrivalled manufacture of shawls. The wool or hair of which the shawl is made is produced by a goat, which is found only in Tibet, from whence the Cashmere mere » chants are supplied with the wool, and have a monopoly of the commodity.

History.) 'l'he inhabitants of Cashmere appear to be Hindoos, and like the rest of their countrymen they have for many ages been subjected to the yoke either of the Mahometans or the Tartars. About the middle of the last century they were conquered by the Afghans, whose dominion has been very oppressive, and the population in consequence has very seriously diminished. According to the latest accounts the governor had revolted and had defeated the forces sent against him from Cabul.

NEPAUL,

Situation.) Nepaul is a long but narrow kingdom occupying the northern frontier of Hindoostan, and bounded N. by the Himmaleh mountains ; E. by Bootan ; S. by the provinces of Bahar and Oude; and since the late war with the British, it is limited on the W. by the Gogra, a branch of the Ganges,although it formerly extended to the Setledge.

Face of the Country.) Nepaul consists of a series of mountain chains, with deep vallies interposed, descending, as it were bv sieps, from the highest ridge of the Himmaleh mountains to the level plains of Hindoostan. The tract which immediately borders on the provinces of Bahar and Oude is called the Taryani and consists of an extent of level territory, about 20 miles broad, skirting the whole southern frontier of Nepaul. The soil of this tract is extremely fertile, but for political reasons bas been left in a state of nature, and is covered with forests, which abound with

wild animals, particularly elephants. The air is here at certain seasons almost pestilential, which forms as it were a barrier round the country, no army having attempted to act in it without the most severe loss.

Soil and Productions. The soil of the vallies is well watered and fertile, and as they are generally elevated several thousand feet above the level of the sea they enjoy nearly the temperature of the south of Europe, and yield, with proper cultivation, large crops of grain. Among the most valuable productions is the tree, from the juice of which catechu or India rubber is manufactured. The mountains produce copper, iron and lead in abundance.

Population.] The population is estimated at 2,000,000. The most populous district is the valley of Nepaul proper, which is only 12 miles long and nine broad, but contains Catamandoo, the capital, and is filled with villages. The majority of the inhabitants are the Newars, a peaceable and industrious race, much addicted to agriculture and commerce, and supposed to be of Chinese or Tibetian origin. The mountainous districts are inbabited by various warlike tribes. Besides these there are large bodies of Bramins, who emigrated many ages ago from the low country, and having converted the natives to their system of religion, have established themselves as the first cast here as in Hindoostan, and all the offices of honor and dignity are now in their hands.

History.) Por a long period this territory was divided among a number of petty chiefs, and being occupied with its own internal dissensions,acted no conspicuous part in the general affairs of lodia. Between the years 1765 and 1769, howerer, the king of Gorkha, one of the northwestern provinces, succeeded in becoming mas. ter of the whole country, and afterwards invaded Tibet and plundered several of its most important shrines. The Chinese government now interfered, and sending an army of 70,000 men, not only repelled the invasion, but pursued the enemy into their own territory and dictated terms of peace. In 1814 a dispute arose with the British, in consequence of whicb the British invaded the country, and conquered the province of Kemaon between 79o and 819 E. lon, and required the king or rajah to restore all the countries west of that province to the dispossessed chieftains. In 1816 the war was renewed with still greater success, and the rajah was required to stipulate that a British envoy should constantly reside at Catamandoo. A commercial treaty has since been formed with the Nepaulese government, and as the British territory now extends to Tibet, it is expected that a commercial intercourse will be opened with that country.

CEYLON.

Situation.) Ceylon is an island in the Indiar: occan separated from the coast of Coromandel by Palk's straits, and the gulf of Manaar. It lies between 5° 53' and 9° 57' N. lat.

The length from N. to S. is 280 miles, and the number of square miles is estimated at 38,000. Its shape is that of a pear.

Face of the Country and Climate.] The general aspect of the country somewhat resembles that of Southern Hindoostan; a high table land intersected with mountain chains occupying the whole inteor, while the shores, for the breadth of 6 or 8 leagues,are every where low and flat. The climate on the coast is more temperate and healthy than on the continent of India, but the interior of the island is very unhealthy, and has proved extremely fatal to the European armies which have occasionally been sent thither.

Productions.) Ceylon is highly distinguished for its productions in the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms. Tin, lead and iron in abundance, are found here; and precious stones are probably more numerous and diversified than in any other part of the world. The most extensive pearl fishery on the globe is carried on in the gulf of Manaar; the beds commence about 15 miles from the Ceylonese shore, and occupy a space about 30 miles long by 24 broad. Among the infinit: diversity of vegetables and fine fruits are oranges, lemons, cocoa-nuts, peper and coffee; but the mos tvaluable of all the Ceylonese plants is the cinnamon tree, the principal plantations of which are on the western coast near Colombo. The elephants of Ceylon are highly celebrated for strength and sagacity, and the great suake called the bon constrictor attains here a length of 30 feet.

Chief Towns.) Colombo, the capital and the seat of the British government, is on the western coast in lal. 7° 4' N.

It has a poor harbor and 50,000 inhabitants. Candy, the capital of the kingdom of Candy, is situated near the centre of the island abont 100 miles E. N. E. of Colombo. Trincoinalee is on the eastern coast, in lat. 8° 33' N. It has a fine harbor, which is of great consequence to the British because there is none on the eastern coast of Hindoostan. Point de Gulle, at the S. W. extremily of the island, is a fortified town and ranks next to Colombo in respect to trade.

Population. The population is estimated at 1,500,000. The prevailing religion is Boodhism, but the number of native Protestants is about 150,000, and of Roman Catholics 50,000. Formerly the number was much greater, but of late multitudes have relapsed into idolatry.

Missions.) There are about 30 missionaries in the island sent out from England and America by different religious denominations. In 1816 the American Board of Commissioners commenced an establishment in the district of Jaffoa, in the northern part of the island. In 1820 it consisted of 6 ordained ministers

and a physician, who occupied two principal stations, Tillipally and Batticotta, and had under their charge 15 free schools, in which about 700 children were instructed in the common branches of education, and the principles of Christianity.

History.) The coasts of this island were occupied by the Portuguese in 1505, who maintained their superiority here during 153 years, when they were expelled by the Dutch, who in their turn were conquered by the British in 1796. The whole interior of the island, however, was in possession of the king of of Candy, a despotic monarch, whose territories reached on all sides nearly to the coast, till the year 1815, when a British army of 3,000 men took the capital, and annexed the whole kingdom to the British dominions.

Islands.] The Maldives are a cluster of islands formed from coral, lying a considerable distance west of Ceylon, between the equator and 8° N. lat. and between 72o and 71° E. Ion. They produce cocoa nuts and the shells called cowrie, but are now little frequented on account of the dangerous navigation. The Laccadites are cluster of low islands lying off the west coast of Hindoostan between 8° and 13° N. lat.

FARTHER INDIA.

Situation.] Farther India or India beyond the Ganges includes all the countries between Hindoostan and China. It is bounded N. by Tibet and China ; E. by the China sea ; S. by the straits of Malacca, which separate it from the island of Sumatra ; and W. by the bay of Bengal and Hindoostan.

Divisions.) Farther India is divided into 1. the Birman empire. 2. Assam. 3. Malacca. 4. Siam. 5. Cambodia. 6. Cochin Cbioa. 7. Tonquin. 8. Laos. This part of Asia is but imperfectly known to Europeans, and other names sometimes appear on the maps. Its political condition is very fluctuating, and the four last countries are said now to be united in one kingdom called the kingdom of Anam.

1. THE BIRMAN EMPIRE.

Situation.) The Birman empire, sometimes called Ava, is composed of the four ancient kingdoms of Avs, Pegu, Aracan and Cassay. It is bounded N. by Assam, Tibet and China; E. and S. by Siam ; and W. by the bay of Bengal and Hindoostan.

Face of the Country.] The northern part of the country is mountainous, and the southern level. The principal river is the Irawaddy which rises in the mountains of Tibet, and running

« AnteriorContinuar »