페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

hardness. The lower parts of these hills, with some of the adjacent plains, are the'grand seat of the Sal Forests, but towards the north there are many pines, (pinus longifolia) and abundance of the mimosa from which catechu is obtained, the preparation of which employs many people. These woods also abound in parrots and singing birds of various species, which are so much in request with the natives, that their nests are considered the property of the Raja, and farmed out to speculators, who employ other people to climb the trees and catch the half-fledged nestlings.

The third and most important district, is a very elevated region, consisting of one mountain heaped on another, and rising to a great height, so that when any fall happens in winter, their tops are for a short time covered with snow.

"The inhabited vallies between these are in general very narrow, and are of very various degrees of elevation, probably from 3000 to 6000 feet of perpendicular height above the plains of Puraniya. Of course, they differ very much in their temperature, so that some of them abound in the ratan and bamboo, both of enormous dimensions, while others produce only oaks and pines. Some ripen the pine-apple and sugar-cane, "while others produce only barley, millet, and other grains." P. 69.

The valley of Lahuri, or Little Nepal, in appearance and vegetable productions strongly resembles the wilder parts of Britain, and here our author was entertained with the note of his old acquaintance the cuckoo. The elevation of Kathmandu above the Tariyani, is estimated at 4140 feet, to which, if we add 460 for the slope of the great plain to the Bay of Bengal, the height above the sea may be estimated, conjecturally, at about 4600 feet. The climate is temperate, and though in latitude 27° 30', does not seem from the Journal annexed to this work, to be much warmer than that of the south of England. It is within the limits of the periodical rains, notwithstanding which the climate is represented as rather healthy than otherwise. "This part of the country consists in many places of granite, and contains much iron, lead, and copper, with some ❝zinc, and a little gold found in the channels of some rivers." The timber trees consist of various oaks, pines, firs, &c, most of them being species hitherto unnoticed by botanists, but some exactly the same as in Europe. A few kinds of the former are particularized, with an acknowledgment that the greater part are of little value. This remark, however, cannot apply to the "two species of the Chirata, a bitter herb, much and deservedly "used by the Hindu physicians in slow febrile diseases, as "strengthening the stomach." The smaller is considered a species of Gentian. The larger is a species of Swertia, but approaches in appearance to the Gentian of the shops.

66

The fourth, or Alpine region, comprehends a space of 30 or 40 miles, from south to north, over which are scattered immense peaks, covered with perpetual snow, and extending to the boundary of Tibet, where almost the whole country is subject to everlasting winter. Between those peaks are narrow valleys, some of which admit of cultivation, but by far the greatest part of the region "consists of immense rocks, rising into sharp peaks, and the most ❝tremendous precipices, wherever not perpendicular, covered with perpetual snow, and almost constantly involved in clouds” No means have been found of " ascertaining the height of the "central, and probably highest peaks of Emodus ;" but Colonel Crawford, while at Kathmandu, had an opportunity of observing the altitude of several of the detached peaks, the result of which is given in an accompanying table. By his calculations, the height of seven of those snowy mountains is from 11,347, to 20,114 feet above the valley of Nepal: If we add to the highest of these 4600 feet, as the supposed elevation of that valley, the total altitude will be upwards of 24,700 feet above the level of the sea; a stupendous height, far exceeding what was till lately believed to exist in any part of the old continent, but which, if we believe the concurring testimony of modern travellers, is exceeded by many parts of the mountainous ridges of centralAsia. In justice to Dr. Hamilton, we must observe, that he does not give these observations as by any means perfectly accurate. The altitude of the snowy mountains is given from one observation, and no correction for the state of the air has been attempted; and the height of the valley of Nepal above the Tariyani is inferred from the difference of the mercury in the barometer, not as observed simultaneously, but at the same season of the year, after an interval of twelve months, and without any correction for the difference of temperature, which an accident seems to have prevented him from ascertaining.

This enormous ridge, as Dr. Hamilton justly calls it, is perforated by several rivers, such as the Indus, Sutluj or Satrudra, and Brahmaputra, besides some which are known in India as tributaries of the Ganges. From this account, however, and the accompanying map, we are rather mortified to find, that Ganges himself, the sacred stream of Hindoo superstition, and king of eastern rivers, has his source on the southern side of the ridge, at the limit of perpetual snow; an account confirmed by the observation of later travellers whom the events of the war have allowed to penetrate into the remoter parts of those formerly inaccessible regions. The southern face of these mountains, besides feeding flocks of sheep, produces a few of the cattle, (bos grunniens) whose tails form the Chaungri of India and badges of the

Turkish bashaws, vast numbers of the animal which produces musk, and a kind of wild sheep of great size, perhaps that described by zoologists by the name of argale. Amongst its feathered inhabitants are the Manal and Dhangphiya, two of the finest birds that are known, (meliagris satyra and phasianus impeyanus,) and with them is found the Chakor or fire eater, (perdix rufa) reported in India to swallow, at certain seasons, live coals. Among the vegetables are many trees and shrubs unknown in Europe, and four different plants with tuberous roots, called Bish or Bikh, one of which is a strong bitter, very powerful in the cure of fevers, while another is one of the most virulent poi

sons.

"This dreadful root, of which large quantities are annually imported, is equally fatal when taken into the stomach, and applied to wounds, and is in universal use throughout India for poisoning arrows, and, there is too much reason to suspect, for the worst of purposes. Its importation would indeed seem to require the attention of the magistrate. The Gorkalese pretend, that it is one of their principal securities against invasion from the low countries, and, that they could so infect all the waters on the route by which an enemy was advancing, as to occasion his certain destruction. In case of such an attempt, the invaders ought, no doubt, to be on their guard; but the country abounds so in springs, that might be soon cleared, as to render such a means of defence totally ineffectual, were the enemy aware of the circumstance. This poisonous species is called Bish, Bikh, and Hodoya Bish or Bikh, nor am I certain whether the Mitha ought to be referred to it, or to the foregoing kind." P. 99.

The government of the Gorkhas seems to be absolute and entirely military. In place of each of the dethroned Rajas, there is indeed a Subah, who is an officer of revenue, justice, and police; but military officers, called Serdars or Sirdars, are very frequently appointed to command in different portions of the country, and have a jurisdiction in all matters over the Subahs. The supreme government under the Raja, is vested in the Bharadar, or great council, which ought to consist of four chief counsellors, called Chautariya, or Choutra, four men of business called Karyi or Kajy, and four Sirdars, or chief military officers; but some of the places are often vacant, and we frequently find officers with a civil title acting in a military capacity.

The army, before the late war, consisted, so far as we can gather, of about 80 companies, each consisting of about 150 men; a small numerical force, but capable of being re-inforced to a great number, by the hardy population of the country. They are armed with firelocks, swords, and daggers, but do not use the bayonet. When our author saw them, they were all clothed. in red, and each company had its peculiar facings. The whole revenue was estimated at about 3,000,000 of rupees, arising from land-rents, customs, fines, and mines, but the troops are paid chiefly by grants of land. The particular branches of revenue, the mode of collecting them, and even the names and characters

of some of the individuals employed in the collection, are described with extreme minuteness, but we suspect our readers would not thank us for following our author into a detail of these, or of the proportion which the coins, weights, and measures of Nepal bear to those used in the parts of India with which we are better acquainted.

The language spoken by the mountain Hindcos, is a dialect of the Hindwi, called the Parbatiya Basha, or mountain dialect, and is making rapid progress in extinguishing the aboriginal dialects of the mountains. The Newars, who are the chief inhabitants of Nepal Proper, live in towns and villages. Their houses are built of brick with clay mortar, and covered with tiles. Those of the wealthy are three, or sometimes four stories high, but among the poor a number of families live under one roof. Their dwellings seem to be in the interior low roofed, smoky, and uncomfortable, and their habits of life dirty in the extreme. The cultivation of the soil is superior to what we should have expected. The high lands, which cannot be laid under water, are well manured, hoed, pulverized, and sown with a kind of rice, called Uya Dhan. The crop thus raised from seed is called Gheya. It is sown about the middle of May, and ripens about the first of September. The ears only are then cut off, and the field immediately cultivated for radishes, mustard, some other such crop. The greater part, and that of the best quality, of their rice grounds, produces the crop called Puya, or transplanted rice. For this purpose, the fields must be perfectly level, as they are inundated during the greater part of the process of cultivation, and are therefore formed into terraces, to irrigate which, the numerous springs and rivulets that issue from the surrounding hills, have been conducted with great pains, and managed with considerable skill. The plants are raised in plots, and transplanted about the middle of June. The crop begins to ripen about the 15th of October, and by the 1st of November the harvest is completed. A singular practice prevails of converting the greater part of this crop into what appears to us a coarse kind of malt, here called Hakuya.

or

This is done with a view of correcting its unwholesome quality; for all the grain produced in the valley of Nepal, is thought by the natives to be of a pernicious nature. The manner of preparing Hakuya is as follows: The corn, immediately after having been cut, put into heaps, ten or twelve feet diameter, and six or eight feet in height. These are covered with wet earth, and allowed to heat for from eight to twelve days, and till they may be seen smoking like lime-kilns. After this the heaps are opened, and the grain is separated from the straw by beating it against a piece of ground made smooth for the purpose. Both grain and straw are then dried in the sun. The grain is called Hakuya, and the straw is the fuel commonly used by the poor." Pp. 224

225.

.

Wheat, barley, and various kinds of pease, are also cultivated, and water-mills, of a rude construction, are occasionally in use. The common hemp plant (cannabis sativa) is a frequent and troublesome weed, and the extract of it is much used, by smoking it like tobacco, for the purpose of intoxication.

As for the religion of the Nepalese, if it deserve the name, the whole population in the western provinces, with those of higher rank in the eastern, have embraced the doctrines of the Brahmans, while a larger proportion of the lower classes and aborignal tribes adhere to the worship of Buddha, as practised in Tibet and China. The difference between these, is, however, not so great as has been commonly apprehended. Except in the doctrine of Cast, (and even in this the Buddhmargas, or worshippers of Buddha, amongst the Newars, resemble their countrymen who have become Sivamargas, or votaries of the Hindoo deity Siva,) the temples of both seem to admit the same images, and to be devoted to similar rites.

"The followers of Buddh have had five great lawgivers, and a sixth is daily expected. As each of these is supposed to have been an incarnation of a Buddh or Bourkan, and as all have been usually taken as one person, we may readily account for the difference that prevails in the opinions concerning the era when the sect arose. Gautama is the fourth of those lawgivers, and his doctrine alone is received by the priests of Ava, who reject the fifth as a heretic; but by the Bouddhists of Nepal, Thibet, Tartary, and China, he is named Sakya. Gautama, according to the best authorities, lived in the sixth century before the Christian era, and Sakya in the first century after the birth of our Lord." P. 57.

The doctrine of Sakya differs most essentially from that of Gautama, which prevails in Ava, Siam, and, we believe, Ceylon.

"The Bangras, or Priests of Buddha in Nepal, believe in a supreme being, called Sambhu or Swayambhu, from whom have proceeded many Buddhs or Intelligences, which, by the Tartars, are called Bourkans. Among these, Matsyendranath has the chief superintendence over the affairs of the world. Under him are a great many Devatas, or spirits of vast power, among whom Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Siva the destroyer of this earth, do not bear a very distinguished rank. These spirits are the Tengri of the Tartars, and the Nat of the Burmas, of which the worship is execrated by the followers of Buddha in Ava; but is eagerly followed by most of the Bangras, and still more so by the lower casts of Newars. Sakya Singha is considered one of the Buddhs, who came on earth to instruct man in the true worship, and in Nepal is commonly believed to be still alive at Lasa. His images entirely resemble those of Gautama. As this teacher has admitted the worship of all the Nat or Devatas, among whom are placed the deities worshipped by the followers of the Vedas, we can readily account for the appearance of these in the temples of the Chinese. The followers of Buddh in Ava reject altogether the worship of these beings, so that, when I was in that country, and was unacquainted with the doctrines of any other sect of Buddhists, I was led into an erroneous opinion concerning the religion of the Chinese, from knowing that they worshipped the same gods with the Brahmans. This, we see, is allowed by the doctrine of Sakya Singha, nor, on account of finding the images of Vishnu, Siva, or Brahma, in any temple, can we conclude that it was not built by a follower of Buddh. In fact, even in Swayambhunath, the temple of the supreme deity of the Buddhists, there are a great many images of Siva." P. 32, 33.

« 이전계속 »