frost, the thermometer sometimes does not rise above 44° for days together. At other seasons, the fluctuations in the heat of the atmosphere are extreme and sudden. Often in the morning the thermometer is at 40°, or even at 38°, and rises to 75° or 80° between two and three o’clock in the afternoon of the same day.
The effluvia arising from the lakes and swamps near the coast, is extremely prejudicial to health; and by incautious exposure to this, either early in the morning or late at evening, the fatal seeds of the Malagasy fever may be so deeply received into the human system as never to be eradicated. But in Ankova, which is some five or six thousand feet above the level of the sea, and in the interior, the fever does not exist, except in the state of a relapse from the disease contracted on the coast.
The rain, during its season, usually commences every day at from two to four or six o’clock in the afternoon and continues fora few hours, sometimes lasting through the night. It is generally accompanied with heavy thunder and much lightning. The trade winds prevail during the greater part of the year, and blow from the east or southeast; but the rains are often accompanied by high winds from the west, occasionally northwest, and not unfrequently from the southwest. The rain is occasionally mingled with hail; and showers of hail stones, at times as large as walnuts, have proved exceedingly injurious to vegetation. The Rambondanitra, “tail of heaven,” that is, waterspout, and the Tadio, “twist,” that is, whirlwind, are not uncommon, and often exceedingly destructive both to houses and plantations in the interior of the island. Houses are at times struck by lightning, and scarcely a year passes without several lives being lost from the same cause. Meteors are occasionally seen, and earthquakes are not unknown.
Among the numerously varied vegetable productions of the island we may mention the following:—The baobab, ebony, the tapia edulis on which a native silk worm is extensively reared, the tamarind, Indian fig, Indian betel, dragon tree, bamboo, the trees from which gum copal and gum elastic are derived, etc., etc. The island abounds in spices, in ginger, wild pepper, capsicums, tumeric, etc., and also in the sugar-cane, cotton-plant, tobacco, hemp, indigo-plant, and several kinds of dye-woods.
Among the articles of food may be mentioned, first, rice,