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break forth, the chances are much in favour of the desertion of the whole of the boat's-crew, in places where it is difficult or perhaps impracticable to procure people to engage in the service. Excepting where the dandies are turbulent, drunken, or incorrigibly lazy,-cases which do not often occur, -it is advisable to interfere with them as seldom as possible.

Gentlemen, who have had a little experience in boating in England, are apt to take the command out of the hands of the māānjee, or captain, and the consequences are often fatal; the vessels are lost through the mismanagement of presumptuous persons totally unacquainted with the peculiarities of the Ganges, and the method of navigation which, though strange and apparently uncouth, is much safer than those modern and scientific arts, which, however excellent in themselves, are not fitted for Indian boats and Indian rivers. The natives generally contrive to extricate their vessels from the numerous difficulties which they continually encounter, and except in some extraordinary hurricane in which neither human skill nor human strength could avail, the wrecks of budgerows which take place may generally be traced to the folly of those Europeans, who fancy that nothing can be done well which is contrary to established practice at home, and who never miss an opportunity, however unseasonable, of compelling others to adopt their modes and customs.

From the bazaars belonging to native villages the common products of the country are the only vegetables that can be obtained; these consist of two or three species of yams, many kinds of gourds, the brinjahl, of which a small variety is known in England under the name of the egg-plant, the Ramterye pods, filled with small white seeds like pearls, which if they could be divested of their glutinous property would be delicious, red spinach, and several kinds of greens. At large European stations, exotic productions are purchasable, and there is a very pleasing relic of the old hospitality of India still remaining, that of sending fruit and vegetables as presents to boats containing European travellers. When the parties have any acquaintance at a station, ample supplies of bread, butter, and meat are added; but the navigators of the Ganges have grown too numerous to admit of the indiscriminate bounty formerly shewn to all strangers, by residents on the river's banks. In wild and unfrequented places, invitations are still sent addressed to the “ gentleman in the budgerow," whose name is unknown to the settled inhabitant “ on hospitable thoughts intent,” and no deserving persons can remain long in India without possessing themselves of valuable friends, made by some chance collision in travelling through the country.

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The Academy of Sciences of St. Petersburgh zealously pursues its labours,
which, of late years, have been prosecuted with renewed vigour. It stimulates its
members to undertake scientific expeditions, and thus contributes to illustrate
the natural history not only of Russia, but also of the countries which adjoin
this vast empire. It is pretty well known that the Russian government is the
only European power which enjoys the privilege of keeping up a permanent
establishment at the capital of China. This consists of a Greek convent and
hotel of an ambassador, where some monks and young men reside who
are destined to act as interpreters on their return to Russia. Every ten or
twelve years, this little colony is relieved, and on these occasions it is that
some employés of the ministry of foreign affairs at St. Petersburgh are able to
get to Peking, under the pretext of superintending the journey of the indivi-
duals who go out and of conducting the others back. The Academy of
Sciences has happily availed itself of this circumstance, in order to explore the
natural history of Mongolia and the north of China. With this view, it
attached to the ecclesiastical expedition to Peking, Dr. Bunge, already favour-
ably known to the learned world by his interesting journey to the most elevated
regions of the chain of the Altai mountains. On his return from China, Dr.
Bunge read at the public meeting of the Academy, on the 3d April last, an
extended report, of which we subjoin an abstract.

The journey as far as the frontiers of China was performed so rapidly, that
it rarely afforded Dr. Bunge an opportunity of making observations, which did
not eommence until he entered Mongolia. In the northern districts of this
country, the high portion of middle Asia begins to sink abruptly, and
Siberia is the prolongation of this subsidence. The political limit, at least in
that part passed by the traveller, is not marked by nature; for the vegetation
and entire physiognomy of the country, on both sides of the limits between
Russia and China, are exactly alike. It is very rare to meet, in northern
Mongolia, with plants which are not equally indigenous in southern Siberia,
and even in such cases it is evident that they came from some neighbouring
country, of a totally different physical character, and bear its characte-
ristics. Dr. Bunge mentions, as an example, a plant, forming a new genus, to
which he has given the name of caryopteris ; it belongs to southern Mongolia,
occurs only here and there in the northern part, and disappears altogether in
Siberia. The identity of the general character of northern Mongolia and that
of south Siberia does not cease till, after ascending for some time a gradual
acclivity, we reach the Oorga or the Koouren, that is, the capital or principal
encampment of the Khalkha Mongols, where likewise resides the Gheghan
Khootookhtoo, the incarnate divinity they revere. Until then, we still meet
with rounded woody mountains, covered with a dark and fertile mould; the low
vallies are watered by rivers and rivulets, the banks of which are often embel-
lisbed with lofty shrubs and poplars. The vegetation is vigorous, the soil is
almost always coated with a compact turf, and well-adapted for agriculture ;
the aspect of the country is varied and agreeable. But as soon as we quit the
Oorga, and pass the Tohla, a considerable river, which, coming from the
S.E., joins the Orkhon, an affluent of the Selengga, we do not meet for a long
time with any stream of water, however inconsiderable, and on losing sight of
the northern wooded slopes of the Khan ohla, the traveller's eye looks vainly
for a single tree in the vast plain upon which he enters.
Asiat.Journ. N.S.Vol.12. No.45.




Here it is that the Desert of Gobi begins, a term which is synonymous with the Arabic word Sahara, for it denotes amongst the Mongols a country entirely destitute of wood and water. The term opposed to Gobi is Khanggae, which indicates a hilly and wooded country, watered by streams and intersected with fertile tracts. The aspect of the desert, however, is not yet completely monotonous; on the right rise the rounded masses of the Khan ohla; on the left, but more distant, the wild, steep, and peaked mountain, where the sources of the Tohla are situated. The promontories of this lofty chain consist of a reddish jasper, very pure, and appear at a greater distance in the plain like sharp-pointed hills of red earth. This region, although without trees and streams, nevertheless, has not the desolate character of a desert; it scarcely changes till we reach Dzirgalangtoo, to which there is an imperceptible ascent : yet it is 4,900 feet above the level of the sea. Here begins a fall of the country, which becomes more decided at Olon bayshing. The name of this station signifies 'numerous buildings;' it derives it from the ruins of some brick houses, probably the remains of the residence of a Mongol prince some centuries back. As far as this place, we still perceive, more or less distant, some steep and lofty mountains, the porphyritic rock of which is almost always bare, and on some parts of the northern side only is converted into vegetable soil just sufficient merely to nourish bushes two or three feet high. Amongst these mountains should be mentioned the Darkhan ohla, composed of strata of porphyry of divers colours and elegant breccia. The modern Mongols consider it as the cradle of the famous Chingheez Khan. Hitherto, the vegetation continues varied, resembling that of Siberia, and consisting principally of grasses, which predominate in masses, the species not being numerous. The traveller continues to be persecuted by clouds of small mosquitos, and by a small species of mouse, which has every-where mined the parched soil; they start away at every step, uttering a shrill squeak.

At Olon bayshing, a blackish line appears in the distance, which, on nearer examination, proves to be a rampart of rocks, which rise abruptly from the soil; it is not lofty, and consists of horizontal strata of sienite. The Mongols give it, with propriety, the name of Boossoo shilohn, that is ‘Girdle of Stones.' This rampart extends, without material interruptions, to a great distance, in a right line, from east to west, It forms a well-defined separation between northern and middle Mongolia, which is the true Gobi, according to the signification of the term. The country here suddenly changes; it becomes level; the ground is covered with small fragments of porphyry and jasper ; in several places, also, over a great extent, it appears strewed with chalcedony, cornelians, and agates, amongst which shoot up some green patches of stunted, hard, woody shrubs. In other places, the soil consists of a compact clay, frequently coated with a saline efflorescence, and, owing to its perpetual dryness, intersected with numerous rents or chasmas, often on so regular a plan, that they seem to be the work of art. This clay produces some saline plants, short, and of a deep green. The most common is a peganum, which occurs throughout the Gobi. The predominance of grasses ceases, whilst the halophytes increase in number. The traveller gets rid of the mosquitos, and a ninute species of field-mouse, which fills its holes with the seeds of a schoberia, replaces the lively little mice of the northern part. Here it is, at an elevation of 3,700 feet above the level of the sea, we ought to fix the commencement of the true Gobi, in a phyto-geographical respect at least; for a very perceptible line of demarcation is remarked, not only in the vegetation, but also in the aspect of the country, on either side of the 'Girdle of Rocks.' This is not, however,



the lowest part of the Gobi; this district appears, on the contrary, to be the extreme edge of a basin, which, as we shall presently find, formed a vast interval sea. The barometrical measurements Dr. Bunge took, during his journey, demonstrated to him that the lowest points are the districts of Erghi, Ooda, Doorria, Shara boodoogoona, &c., in the centre of the Gobi. They are scarcely 2,500 feet above the level of the sea, and differ entirely from those of the shores of the ancient sea. The soil is much more saline, and consequently the vegetation consists only of halophytes. A vast number of little salt lakes occur, which are probably the remains of a retired and exsiccated sea. These lakes are partly dried up, and are coated with a crust of salt, of which a considerable quantity is sent to China. The water remaining in them is deeply impregnated with salt, and is fed by the rains. The banks of these lakes consist of a whitish sand mixed with a saline clay. A considerable quantity of fragments of bivalve shells are found in it; Dr. Bunge, however, did not find a single specimen sufficiently perfect to determine the species. There occur in this sandy clay large lumps of crystallized selenite.

Between Shara boodoorgoona and Doorma, and under nearly the same latitude, the true Desert of Gobi, or Sha mo of the Chinese, extends into the middle of Mongolia. Its breadth is inconsiderable with relation to the remainder of the Gobi. The sand of this desert would be improperly deno-, minated "moving," for it being every-where strongly impregnated with salt, it readily attracts moisture, which it retains a long time, and thus forms compact and tolerably durable hillocks. This belt of sand exhibits further a peculiar character in its vegetation, which resembles that of the sandy shores of the ocean. Several genera of plants of the sea-coast occur here, in the midst of the continent, although the species are not always the same. Dr. Bunge mentions a new genus of arundo, which resembles the A. arenaria and A. Baltica, as well as the corispermum pungens. All the halophytes of this tract are identical with those which cover the shores of the Caspian Sea, which is a fact of great interest in a phyto-geographical point of view, for every thing concurs in demonstrating the ancient existence of a large internal sea. Dr. Bunge might have added, as a new indication of this interesting fact, the circumstance that the Chinese still give to the Gobi the denomination of Han hae, or ' Desiccated: Sea.' A tradition prevalent amongst the Mongols contributes in a remarkable manner to corroborate this hypothesis ; they assert that there was a sea in this place heretofore; and they also believe that this sea will soon replenish its ancient bed. The Chinese, Dr. Bunge adds, allege in like manner that the Coreans might, if they pleased, inundate not only Mongolia, but even the whole of Russia, by carrying the water of the ocean into Mongolia by means of a canal.

. To the southward of Tsakıldak, the Gobi begins to rise again, in the same proportion as on the north, towards Erghi and Ooda. These northern and southern acclivities exhibit the most perfect identity in form, aspect of soil, and vegetation at the same heights. At Dzameyn oostoo, the sea-shore is exactly similar to that observable to the north of Olon bayshing and Dzool. gheta ; a line of rocks, although less defined than the northern, here traverses Mongolia, and the plants, which do not occur in a space of from 270 to 340 English miles, re-appear once more. At Tsaghan balsagoon, situated still further to the south, we find the same elevation as at Ghiltegeutey; further still, the black and fertile soil and vigorous vegetation are again observed ; lastly, on reaching the extreme point of elevation in the route between the Gobi and the capital of the Celestial Empire,-a point where are the ruins of




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the most ancient portion of the Great Wall of China, and the height of which corresponds with that of Gootooy, to the north of the Gobi and near the Oorga, -we again find, at about 5,430 feet elevation, certain subalpine plands, such as the papaver nudicaule, &c.

After what has been stated, it is easy to conceive that the general aspect of the Gobi is extremely forlorn. The vegetation is meagre, and rarely rises higher than a foot above the soil ; trees are entirely wanting, and even bushes more than two feet high are not to be seen. The undulating hillocks, which, here and there, traverse this vast solitude, frequently appear from a distance, through the effect of refraction, as if they swam in the horizon above the plain. The total absence of streams, the substitutes for which are some lakes of turbid salt water; the scanty population, indicating their existence afar off only by a few felt-tents, or during the night by the stench of the argal (cattledung) which they burn instead of wood; lastly, the tiresome uniformity of the whole route, weary the traveller, the more because he can travel but very slowly. But what a compensation for all his troubles the moment he reaches China! Throughout the whole globe, there is, perhaps, no similar example of a transition so sudden as that observed on crossing a low rampart of stones, the relics of the Great Wall, which marks the limit between Mongolia and China. The limit is truly a physical one, and it is impossible to admire sufficiently the discernment with which the Chinese have traced the boundary of their empire, at a spot where nature herself has, in the most evident manner, pointed out a separation. Every where else, we observe an insensible transition of forms, principally in the plants. Here it is the contrary. As long as we remain in Mongolia, the eye perceives nothing but desert and a miserable vegetation; a mournful silence reigns throughout; all is death. The traveller makes a single step; he arrives on the steep acclivity of Upper Asia towards the south, when life in all its freshness and variety regales his sight. This is not the place to describe minutely the striking contrast between Mongolia and China, but almost all the plants which hitherto surrounded the traveller, give way to others. There are, indeed, a few exceptions: some vegetables, properly Chinese, have been acclimated in Mongolia; but these cases are rare, and the organization of the seeds of these plants is such that the slightest air might carry them away: they are, therefore, not to be regarded as indigenous in Mongolia ; they are strangers who have wandered thither.

Dr. Bunge's residence in northern China was in the whole only eight months, five of which, being winter, could not be devoted to botanical researches. This learned naturalist, therefore, had not time to draw a general sketch of the Flora of this country: he was compelled to be content with collecting materials for forming the basis of a grand herbal, which will afford the means of obtaining facts to establish the geography of the plants in this country, which unites northern to southern Asia.

The members of the Russian ecclesiastical mission now resident in Peking are intelligent men, which affords a ground to hope that, by their zeal and by means of other journies of this kind, we may succeed in completing what Dr. Bunge has so happily begun.

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