Page:Views in India, chiefly among the Himalaya Mountains.djvu/41

This page has been validated.



round their fires, the horses and elephants picketed under the trees, with the bullocks reposing on the ground. In looking out on this scene, we all experienced an exhilaration of spirits which the cool and bracing air, and the anticipation of pleasures still to come, were so well calculated to produce. It is not, however, at all times and seasons that travellers journeying through these low passes, of which there are several, to the Valley of the Dhoon, can rejoice in the climate; for at some periods of the year, few can encounter the malaria, which comes laden with jungle fever, with impunity. Vegetation, in the thickly-wooded regions which form the outer belt of the Himalaya, riots in the strength given to it by the extensive swampy places which intersect the forests, and the exceeding heat of the solar rays. Nurtured in this hot and damp atmosphere, the coarser weeds and grasses exhale a rank steam, which impregnates the whole air, warning the traveller to pass onward without delay, and to guard by every means in his power against the attacks of the insidious enemy. Unfortunately, it is at the most deleterious season of the year that the sportsman, in India, is tempted, by the abundance of the nobler kinds of game, to try his fortune in these pestiferous jungles. The ardour and excitement of the pursuit, the active employment of the mind, for ever upon the alert to make the most of some favourable circumstance, and the unyielding spirit which defies all hazards, and seems to delight in danger, certainly in many instances prove great preservatives. An old sportsman, one who has survived his early training, enduring, without the natural consequences of fever and ague, long field-days against the tiger in the hottest weather, may set all the physical ills which flesh is heir to at defiance; but there are many who break up in this dangerous attempt, some speedily finding a grave, while others return home with impaired health or ruined constitutions. Three young officers returning from a tour of pleasure in the hills, and incautiously exposing themselves to the malaria of the forests, which skirt their bases, were struck down with fever, and, though living to reach a spot where medical aid could be obtained, speedily fell victims to their temerity.

There are parts of these woody ranges so strongly infected with poisonous exhalations, that at the worst season they are deserted even by the brute creation; monkeys, tigers, every species of quadruped, together with the birds, urged by some instinctive warning, quit the deadly spot, and seek a resting-place in distant and more healthful scenes.


After journeying for some days through an inland country, the sight of a river always affords gratification, and at all times and seasons European travellers, possessing the slightest degree of sensibility, share in the enthusiasm with which the natives hail a view of the Ganges. At the spot in which we now beheld it, the sacred river was peculiarly interesting: it had already traversed in its winding course over a hundred and fifty miles, from its secluded mountain birth-place, amid mighty labyrinths of rocks; and, now, having forced a passage through the last barrier, fairly emerged in a broad clear stream upon the plains. No longer opposed by difficulties, the rage and fury of its rush has