Page:Views in India, chiefly among the Himalaya Mountains.djvu/55

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the eye become accustomed to the appearance of danger, that ladies gallop along them without experiencing any apprehension. Accidents, however, and those of a very frightful nature, do sometimes occur; but in consequence of the extraordinary activity and sagacity of the mountain ponies, when fatal, they are usually occasioned by some injudicious act on the part of the rider, for, if left to themselves, they are wonderfully successful in scrambling up the steep sides, or holding on at roots or other projections until assistance can be afforded them.

Mussooree is not at present much indebted to the hand of art: the roads are glaringly white, and the appearance of the houses is bare and ugly, even the scenery in the immediate neighbourhood owes its attractions more to space than any thing else: the distant prospects are splendid, but the home scenes want that exquisite beauty which is to be seen to so much perfection in many of the villages of these hills. There are no billiard-tables or reading-rooms at present in Mussooree, which is composed entirely of private houses, and is usually termed the Civil, as Landour is the Military station. The bazaar, though small, and not tenanted by a single European tradesman, is well supplied with necessaries, and even luxuries, wine and beer excepted; but it is enlarging, new demands being created as the station increases in size, while a more picturesque style of building may render it equal in exterior attraction to its military neighbour. The traveller who comes suddenly upon a view of Landour is struck with its beauty, and the picturesque appearance of its scattered houses: being higher up, it is sometimes preferred to Mussooree, but is scarcely at the present period so agreeable as a residence; and the perpetual descent and ascent to and from the latter-named place, which possesses the best bazaar, and engrosses all the life and bustle of the community, are found to be inconvenient. The Mussooree heights are composed of transition limestone, very craggy and bold, and argillaceous schistus, the slate exceedingly crumbling: there is also a large vein of trap in its valleys, for though geologists did not expect to find volcanic rocks in the Himalaya, trappean rocks have been discovered in some hundred places on this side of the gneiss, mica, slate, and granite country.

No great expense is incurred in the building of the houses at Mussooree, the abundance of timber,(though it has recently been cut down with too unsparing a hand,) affords beams and all the woodwork, in its immediate vicinity: the oak and rhododendron, the latter attaining the size of a forest tree, supply these materials. Bricks may be made close at hand, should a preference be accorded to them over the stone, which is only to be dug from the adjacent quarries. Some Europeans have been rather unfortunate in the site of their houses; others are more happily placed, sheltered from the north wind, which, passing over the snowy mountains, exercises a chilling influence over every thing exposed to its keen blasts: the trees on the northern side of the range are stunted and withered, but luxuriance and beauty characterize the south; the one being covered with rhododendron rich with flowers, while the other is gloomy with pines.

The splendid tree mentioned in the foregoing paragraph bears a magnificent crimson flower, and forms one of the most beautiful, as well as the most prominent, features of the scene; the cherry, pear, and barberry are also found. The neighbouring valleys and ridges afford, to the lovers of field-sports domiciled at Mussooree, abundant opportunities