صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

Of the climate, which is necessarily so varied, it would be useless to attempt to give an account; indeed the only two places of the climate of which the mean could be given for even one month, are Tongsa and Punukka. The mean for the month of March at Tongsa may be estimated at 56° 3', the maximum heat between the 6th and 21st instant being 63°, and the minimum 51°. I have elsewhere stated the results of the observations made at Punukka. Throughout the barren portions of the country, which are so generally limited to inconsiderable elevations, the heat must no doubt be great during the summer months; at Punukka in April the sun was found very incommoding after 9 A. m; and as a proof of the heat at such elevations as 7000 feet in some places, I may readvert to the culture of rice at, and above Tongsa.

The ravines are, however, very narrow about this place, and the faces of the mountain on which the cultivation occurred had a western aspect.

In very many places, however, more abstracted from the influence of radiated heat, delightful climates may be found. It is curious, though not singular, that the best situations were always found occupied by Gylong villages. Considerable elevation is, in addition to other minor causes, requisite at least for a Bootea, during the summer months: thus the Gylong villages were rarely seen under 8000 feet, and oftener about 9000 feet; and the chiefs find a summer change of residence necessary, during which they repair to elevations varying from 7000 to 9000 feet.

The change in the Deb's residence from Punukka to Tassisudon in the summer, and vice versa in the winter, is to be accounted for, espe. cially the latter change, on principles of equalization ; that is, the ryots about the one place are obstinate enough to refuse supplies for more than six months ; such at least was the story heard by us, although it is rendered doubtful, by the total want of regard evinced by the rulers of the land for the interest of their subjects. The most delightful climate we experienced was that of May at Chupcha, which is situated on the steep face of a mountain with a south west aspect, yet the temperature ranged from 46° to 51o. A week afterwards, and we were exposed to the unmitigated fierceness of a Bengal sun at the

disagreeable part of the climate of Bootan exists in the violence of the winds, more particularly in the valleys. The direction of these winds, which are very gusty, is invariably up the ravines , or contrary to the course of the draining torrents

, no matter what direction these may have; the winds therefore are dependent upon local circumstances, as might be expected from the dryness of the

hortest time of the year.

[ocr errors]
[graphic]

soil, and its effects on vegetation. The winds are more violent throughout the lower tracts than elsewhere, and as in many of these places they are enabled to supply themselves with dust, they often became very positively disagreeable, and formed no inconsiderable part of the annoyances we were subjected to during our residence at Punukka. These partial winds" are frequently so violent as to unroof the houses; it must be remembered, however, that the roofs are generally mere shingles, kept in their places by large stones. During our stay at Punukka, the regal or sacred part of the roof was blown off; the clattering that ensued from the falling of the copper plates, mixed with the noise of the shingles and stones of other parts of the palace, was very great; a deputation was immediately sent from the palace to request that we would fire off no more guns near the palace, and we found out afterwards that we were looked upon with a very suspicious eye.

We were not much incommoded with rain, neither should I consider it to be abundant throughout the lower elevations, at least no part of the vegetation I saw in such tracts seemed to indicate even a small amount of moisture. We were only once delayed by snow, and on our return enjoyed uninterrupted fine weather until we reached Buxa, where, as might be expected from its proximity to the plains and the season, the weather was unsettled.

As regards quantity of vegetation, Bootan exhibits, it appears to me, considerable peculiarities. In the other parts of the Himalayan chain I have seen, and generally throughout India, the bases and lower portions of the mountains are the most thickly wooded, and it is generally a tolerably certain indication of elevation when less wooded tracts are met with ; but in Bootan not only is the vegetation of the lower ranges contiguous to the plains unusually scanty throughout a considerable part of their extent, but throughout the interior it is generally absolutely barren within certain elevations. This scantiness at the base of the mountains is perhaps at its maximum due north from Gowahatti, in which direction the vegetation is almost entirely gramineous ; to the westward it certainly lessens, but even to the north of Rungpore (Bengal) the woods are thin, especially when contrasted with the Toorais of other portions; at the same time the vegetation of the lower ranges is in this direction nearly as dense as it is elsewhere. Of its extent to the eastward I have no actual evidence to offer ; but as to the north of Jeypore there is a well defined Toorai, and

* The general winds have, it would appear, the usual direction ; that is, they blow from the plains.

as to the eastward again, it would appear to again become deficient: it probably is irregular in its distribution, and depends consequently on local causes.

But while there is such difference in the amount of vegetation along the tract at the base of the mountains, the vegetation on these up to an elevation of 1600—3500 feet is uniformly scanty, except to the westward, in which direction, as I have mentioned, they do not differ in absolute amount from the well wooded mountains to be seen elsewhere.

Between Dewangiri and Punukka we found that the surface of the interior below 5000 feet in elevation was uniformly very barren, and after crossing the ridge above Telagoung we found similar appearances, but with a very dissimilar vegetation, at elevations of from 7000 to 11,000 feet, but they were by no means so uniform or so general. Throughout the barren tracts* of the first of the above portions of Bootan the vegetation consists for the most part of grasses, among which a few low shrubs occur. The arboreous vegetation is confined almost entirely to Pinus longifolia, which is very commonly much stunted. The barren tracts to the westward of Telagoung were remarked almost entirely along the Teemboo, the southern face of the ravine of which was generally remarkably barren, even at very considerable elevations. Grasses did not form here so predominant a portion, shrubs on the contrary abounded, and among these the most common perhaps was a species of Rosa, very much like the R sericea of Royle's Illustrations.

In Bootan it is only at high elevations, and under certain circumstances, among which aspect and especially humidity are the most important

, that the grand forests which have excited the admiration of all travellers in the Himalayas to the westward, make their appearance. The requisite elevation is scarcely ever less than 7000, and is generally about 8000-8500 feet; at such, oaks, magnolias, rhododendrons, and several species of firs attain to great perfection.

Between, or on the borders of the woods, patches of swards, adorned in the spring with beautiful herbaceous plants are frequently met with, and form the prettiest object in the whole scenery of Bootan. The Vegetation of such, and of much higher elevations, is generally well diversified, until indeed one reaches an elevation of 11,500 feet ; at such I found it generally reduced to black firs, stunted junipers, and shrubby rhododendrons, the bulk, as regards amount of species,

* These lower mountains are very frequently curiously marked with transverse ridges. These have much of the appearance of ancient terrace cultivation, but on inquiry I was assured that such was not their origin.

[graphic]

consisting of herbaceous plants, whose growth is confined to a very few congenial months, and which were almost all hid from my view by the heavy snow, so constant between the latter end of October and the commencement of May. Another striking feature in Bootan is the constancy with which southern faces of mountains are, especially towards their summits, bare of trees or shrubs ; this it has in common with other parts of the Himalayas both to the westward, where it has struck all travellers, and to the eastward, as on the Mishmees. I am not prepared to state whether any satisfactory explanation of this has been given ; it struck me to be due, in Bootan at least, to the searching severity of the winds, which are quite sufficient to keep down all luxuriance of vegetation. Whatever the secondary causes may be, there can be no doubt that the primary one is due to the influence of the south-west monsoon, to which all these faces of the Himalayan mountains are freely exposed.

The higher the altitude the greater, as indeed might be expected, was the uniformity of vegetation, and it was only in such that any general features of vegetation could be said to occur. A very constant feature of high altitude, such as from 11,000 to 12,500 feet, existed in the black fir, a lofty tabularly branched tree of a very peculiar appearance, in comparison at least with other Bootan species, and which, when seen standing out in dark relief, might, from the very frequent mutilation of its lower branches, be mistaken at a distance for palm; with these there was as nearly a constant association of the same species of other plants. The most striking among the partial features of the vegetation of Bootan was presented to us by the three valleys, so often alluded to; these may well be called the region of pines of that country. The range of the three species was most distinct and very instructive, although the Smithian Pine, a little further to the westward; descended to a somewhat lower elevation than it did in the tract above mentioned.

Still more partial features were presented by the Pinus excelsa, and more especially by the Pinus longifolia, the distribution of both of which appears to depend on local causes. The latter species was not seen on our return, nor was there a vestige of a fir visible after reaching Chuka ; no species but the long-leaved was seen below 5500 feet.

I have in the foregoing few remarks merely glanced at the most familiar features of the botany of Bootan. As the importance of strict determination has been much insisted on before correct views can be formed of the botanical geography of any country, I have purposely omitted all details, until the collection shall have been duly examined; but even when this has been done, the difficulties are almost insuperable, for although Roxburgh died thirty four years ago, and the number of plants indigenous to India has been increased fourfold since that time, the means exist of determining but a very few more than those described by Roxburgh himself. It is familiar to all botanists that of the 8000 species distributed eight or ten years since by the Honorable Company, not more than 1000 have yet received their promised share of elaboration.*

Bootan is divided into provinces which are ruled by Pillos, of whom there are three-the Paro, Tongsa, and Tacca : they derive their names from their respective residences ; the rank of the two first is, I believe, equal, and they are admitted into council, while that of Tacca Pillo is very inferior.

The provinces are again divided into districts, equivalent to Soubahships; of these there are several. The Soobah’s jurisdictions through which we passed were those of Dewangiri, Tassgong, Tassangsee, LengJung, and Byagur, all of which are in Tongsa Pillo's province. After leaving Tongsa we came into the province of Punukka, and after leaving this capital we came on the tract attached to that of Tassisu. don, or as it is called Tassjeung. The Soobahs all exercise supreme jurisdiction within their own limits, but pay a certain annual amount of revenue to their respective Pillos. The Soobahs of Dewangiri and Busa are of subordinate rank.

But besides these governors of provinces, and governors of districts, there are other officers of high rank, who assist in moving the machine of government; they do not however make good exemplifications of the proverb,“ in the multitude of counsellors there is wisdom.” The offices of these additional counsellors are as follow-the Tass Troompoon, or warder of the palace of Tassisudon; the Puna Troompoon of the palace of Punukka; and Wandipore Troompoon of the castle of Wandipore ; then there is the Lam Trimpe on the part of the Dhurma, and Deb Trimpe on the part of the Deb.

• The following passage was erased from the proof of Dr. Griffith's M.S. in the office of the Secretary to Government. We insert it as a note, on Dr. Griffith’s and Otur own responsibility, and in the confidence that Dr. Wallich can readily give a full and a satisfactory answer to the implied charges.-Eds.

“ Had Dr. Wallich never been in India the matter would have been otherwise, as it would not then have been a matter of policy to remove every vestige of an Herbarium from the Botanic Gardens, and to publish a confused catalogue of names without characters. As the matter now stands, Indian botanists are reduced to this,--they must either give up all the advantages they possess by being in India, and wait until all the species, amounting to 3 or 4,000, named by Dr. Wallich have been described by others Europe from dried, and in many cases very imperfect specimens, or they must in no case acknowledge the authority of any body to name an object without giving it a character, and publish such new species as they may deem to be new with their names and their descriptions."

12

« السابقةمتابعة »