Imagens das páginas


“ Two tyrant-seasons rule the wide domain,
Scorch with dry heat, or drench with floods of rain :
Now feverish herds rush maddening o'er the plains
And cool in shady streams their throbbing veins;
The birds drop lifeless from the silent spray,
And Nature faints beneath the fiery day:
Then bursts the deluge on the sinking shore,
And teeming Plenty opens all her store.”

Climates. South-west Monsoon. Mango Showers. Put your house in

Order. Letters and Post Men. Palanquins. Clearing Tents of the Esplanade. Warm Clothing. Why I was called a Griffin. The Rains at last descend, Atmospheric nges. Appearance of the ocean. Awful thunder and lightning. Nature is agitated. The Sun darkened. Strife of the elements. Tempest terrific to behold. Houses shaken in the Fort. The floods. Scene pregnant with horrors. Flying Bugs and hideous Spiders. A Rest for the Punkahs. What the Poor Natives suffer at this season. A Glance from our Bungalow. Wonderful changes in the Vegetable World,

Flowers and Fruits. Golden Oriole and Jungle Cock. Shere Khan and his Good Works. Neglect of Old Tanks. Cool Breezes and Delhi Shawls. A Peep into the Sick Man's Chamber. Jellies and Sweet Peas. How to eat Mangoes. Poisonous Miasma. Hindoo Festival of Cocoa-nut-Day. Offerings to the Ocean. 'arewell to the Rains, &c., &c,

THOSE who are familiar only with the climate of England, with its sunshine and its storms; and with the wild aspect of its long dreary winters, when the northern districts of our island put on so early their mantle of snow, and rivers and lakes, locked up in their icy prisons, are bound together for weeks by an invisible hand—those who are accustomed to the regular variations of temperature, which, notwithstanding the frequent and sudden changes which we experience from heat to cold, give an almost decided character to the four seasons that sum up our year, can form but an imperfect idea of other lands, where the sun, for eight months out of the twelve, is scarcely shadowed by a cloud, and where frost and snow are almost unknown. Nature is boundless in her resources ; and the more we inquire and examine, the more we are lost in wonder and admiration at the great scheme for carrying on so beautifully the designs of the Creator, so that seed time and harvest, summer and winter, shall still be given to man, and God's promises stand fast for ever. Though some districts of India are often left nine months together without rain, yet an ample provision has been made to counteract the ill effects of so long a drought upon a country so much exposed to a burning sun. Vegetation, which with us would speedily perish without an abundant supply of rain, is there sufficiently nourished by that moisture which plants, as they bud and blossom, and produce their fruit, have the power of hoarding up and retaining from one rainy season to another, and by the heavy dews that nightly fall upon their large, expanded leaves. Those remarkable


periodical rains, commonly called the south-west Monsoons, generally set in at Bombay about the month of May, and terminate at the close of August. Three weeks or a month before their commencement, some light precursory showers pass over the land, but they eldom continue more than a day or two, and are suceeded by the usual hot and clear weather. Occasionally the preparatory fall is accompanied by thunder and lightning; but this is not an invariable rule. These preparatory rains are called “ mangoe showers;" the natives, who have given them this appellation, believing that that delicious fruit, the mangoo, the boast of this part of India, could not come to perfection without them. How far this opinion may be correct, I know not; but certain it is, that the mangoe begins to ripen at this particular period of the year, and to acquire that rich yellow tinge, which makes it so conspicuous on the tree. To showers act as a warning to set his house in order ; for we cannot tell how soon the storm may arise, that must ere long burst upon him, with dreadful fury.-Consequently, all persons, at this season of the year, are busy tarring, painting, and repairing the tiles, or thatch, forming the covering of their houses ; and making all secure, and impervious to the coming rains. The sewers in the streets, and other water-courses, are examined and put into good order, and the large artificial tanks, from which the inhabitants look anxiously for their eight months' supply of water, are fresh cemented and carefully repaired. Tents are now

man, these

taken down, and the temporary abodes erected on the esplanade, sea-shore, and other cool situations, are speedily cleared off the ground, and stored away in warehouses in the Fort, until the return of the settled weather. The merchant now thinks it necessary to enclose all his country despatches in oiled or waxed paper cases, as he is aware that the rivers will soon be flooded, and that the Tapall must swim over with the post-bags on his head. In the cocoa-nut and date plantations, the old toddy-drawers are very busy collecting all the large spreading leaves that have fallen and been stripped from these valuable trees for the purpose of covering in verandahs, sheds for cattle, and rain-dresses for the poorer class of natives. Shegrams, buggies, and bullock hackery conveyances have their sun-shades taken off, and varnished coverings put on; and all palanquins are carefully examined, and their cracks filled up with putty or chunam. Those who can afford glass windows in their bungalows have them now put in, to supply the place of the common open Venetian blinds; and the large monument on the esplanade, erected to the memory of the Marquis of Wellesley, is enclosed by a huge wooden box built around the iron railings that protect it ; to be no more stared at by the Portuguese, or criticised by the modern arrivals from England, until the rains are over. Officers commanding regiments at outstations, who have been expecting for months to receive the welcome orders from head-quarters to march, have now ceased to hope for any change till after October, or the beginning of November. The bazaars display a great variety of China ; also of French, English, and native leaf chittrees or umbrellas; and the making up of flannel and other warm clothing for the European part of the population, affords abnndant employment to the Dergees.American boots and shoes have great sale ; for those manufactured in the country, though very neat, and well adapted for dry weather, will not stand wet; the tanning of the leather is bad, and the first few showers separate the soles from the upper leather. Not being aware of this circumstance, I was one day deprived of the heel of my boot when out walking; and I was heartily laughed at on my return home, and immediately set down as a “Griffin," a term commonly applied to those who have not passed twelve months in the country, and gone through the usual amount of Indian troubles and annoyances. The day at length arrives when the windows of heaven are to be opened, and man's anxious doubts and fears are to be dispelled by this gracious provision for his wants. Dark clouds, towards noon, gather in the south-west, and gradually steal over the azure firmament, casting a gloomy shadow upon the earth, and obscuring the intensity of the sun's rays, as they fit over his surface in their onward progress. A current of cool, strange air now denotes some remarkable atmospheric change. The ocean is unusually agitated; the waves are lifted up-hurried onwards as the breeze increases the angry waters come foaming and roaring towards the

« AnteriorContinuar »